Why you can't play on history's most thrilling piece of playground equipment

As others have mentioned above, I look back at the witch’s hat I used to play on in the '70s with amazement - how we ever survived I will never know:

I used to climb up the side bars and sit on the top of the cone. That’s an open cone - sat on top of a smaller solid cone - creating an ever changing maiming space underneath. Luckily I still have all my extremities…

The other one was the geodesic climbing frame. We had a pretty big one at primary school, luckily over grass - I slipped off swinging on the bars on a very cold day, and landed right on my coccyx. Got up, staggered across towards one of the dinner ladies (now walking on asphalt) - only to pass out and use the ground as a cheese grater on my face :sob:


Astronaut pre-selection device. Failed personally. Re-evaluated my dreams.


I wonder how rides like these are substantially different:

I see them in modern playgrounds a lot.


Well now, if i saw one of those multi-axis trainers in the playground i’d be straight on there.


I recently built some backyard play equipment that needed a strong central pivot, and like you initially assumed that an old car or truck axle would be the way to go. But when I checked prices at my local wrecking yard, I found that ordering a brand new turntable bearing was a lot cheaper.


We had one of these in the local playground. But fortunately, in the hot Australian summer sun, your hands melted to the steel, so you didn’t have to worry about being thrown off.

ETA to fix speeling errors


There’s still the “falling at speed” element, but

  • falling off doesn’t leave a flailing handle whipping around
  • kids who are clearly too young need help (i.e. grown-up approval) to join in, whereas the giant stride was open to anyone with ambition and poor impulse control
  • the speed appears to be set by the adults, not the biggest kid
  • I suspect the maximum speed is reduced by the mass in the wheel.

There are some similar things in playgrounds around Boston, and I’ve been impressed (and a little worried) about how good the bearings in them are. Like, give it a heave and watch it spin like friction is just something you read about in physics books, for a couple of minutes. I’m a grown-ass adult who lifts, and I could pretty easily get them up to speeds where I couldn’t hang on.

On the other hand, they’re over nerf turf, so if a kid falls off, they’re just going to bounce like a tennis ball.

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Two that I can see are the type of material used for the ground and the spinning element is entirely above head height and doesn’t have “arms”

That looks like a close match for the one I remember from 1960s Australia. It was possible to get the wooden “seat” to slam against the central pole, so neither of the kids in this picture are in a safe location. There really was no safe way to sit on them. If you face inwards, your legs can be crushed against the central pole. If you face outwards, there’s nothing to hold onto that doesn’t create a risk of your back or head being slammed into the central pole. We usually stood on the seat, hanging on to one of the verticals. If you fell off, the first priority was to get low and flat, and then slow shimmy away staying close to the ground until you were out of range of the seat. Truly terrifying.


My primary school had one, which had a long history of injuries. It was finally removed from the school after one boy in my class got severe head injuries when he fell off it.


We had one of these where I grew up and later, in high school, I remember watching people try and stay on while it was being powered by a rope with one end wrapped around the base and the other end attached to a rapidly departing car.
It is a wonder that anyone makes it to 20.


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