Crescent Park’s Magnificent Looff Carousel Ready For Another 115 Years
Although the Amusement Park Closed in 1979, the Grand 4-Row Carousel was Saved Intact and In Place
East Providence, RI – Our job at Crescent Park started when we got a call from Oliver Barrette Millwrights, Inc. of Providence, RI, for a carousel gear replacement. They had been taking care of the Crescent Park carousel for over 30 years, handling all of the mechanical issues with no problems. They said this replacement was a little beyond their ability.
I said no problem, we do carousel gears all of the time, not to worry. Then we saw the problem – dual facing 48” 78 tooth bevel gears with 18 pinion gears sandwiched in between. This was not just any other carousel gear. Then the next problem was that it was a one piece gear. There is no way to take it off the pole without taking the whole carousel apart.
But, this wasn’t our first time on a gear like this. We knew we could cut the original gears in half and make new ones in two pieces. So, the project was on. Mr. Barrette and Ed Serowik waited for us to arrive. The outside temperature was about zero that day, with a wind chill California people don’t ever want to think about. With no heat in the building, we had the gears down in one day. Two days in this weather wasn’t going to happen. My crew wanted out of there as fast as we could, and working hard kept us warm.
Once the old gears were down, out, and back home, the real fun started – making opposing bevel gears in two pieces with pinions in between and no room for error. These gears have to work together. One bevel gear attached to the center pole to make the horses go up and down and the other to keep the machine in time. All of this fitting together, with no room for error in the 22 different pieces. Even a few thousandths of an inch off makes the next pinion not work in relation to the other.
I have to say, this was one of the most challenging gears we’ve ever made. To take a huge, one piece gear and make it a two piece gear, so the carousel doesn’t have to be disassembled is a challenge enough. To make two, two-piece 48-inch bevel gears fit together is another thing. I think a little smoke was coming out of the ears of my engineers and the back of the computers, but we got the information from the original gears to the computers and cut the new precision steel gears.
We have to thank Ed Serowik and Mr. Barrette for their help. As with anything of this complexity, and 3,000 miles from our shop, things arise. We found a lot of issues with the carousel, from being in the same place for 115 years, without ever being taken apart that had to be addressed. But in the end, everything was done as good as factory new, and ready to run for the next 100 years.
To know the last person to work on that gear was Mr. Looff himself was amazing. 115 years without ever being touched. This was also one of the first jobs for a second generation Brass Ring employee, Eric Fabbro, the son of Scott Fabbro, who has 30 years of carousel restoration experience. Working with Ed Serowik (who has close to 60 years at this carousel), and his son and grandson just shows how generations of history and knowledge can be passed along.