Over the Top

This "furniture" project began years ago with a vague idea of a Ferris wheel consisting of a rotating beam with a rider at each end, perfectly balanced. When I happened upon some discarded yellow seats from a nearby Subway shop, the final design started to take shape. 

 

Even as I started building, though, I still didn't realize the best part: the device can be self-propelled by the riders' weight shift alone. It was serendipity; I stumbled upon the idea while mocking up the hanging chairs. The intrigue of it saw me through the project, a 300-hour endeavor. Other than a steel shaft with ball bearings at each end and an assortment of nuts and bolts, this machine is built entirely from about a dozen sheets of AC plywood. It stands 19 feet tall.

In operation, ladders are wedged up under each chair for loading, and barbell weights are added to the lighter rider's seat to balance the beam. Once the ladders are removed, the rear rider shifts his weight forward by pulling with his arms against the beam. This starts the beam rotating and sends him "over the top". The other rider follows in turn and they gather momentum. Riders decide whether they want to glide along leisurely or go grippingly fast.

Since building "Over The Top" in 2007, I have enjoyed giving rides to hundreds of eager people.  It was judged one of the Ten Best Exhibits at the 2009 Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, and I showed it as a featured artist at San Jose's 2010 ZeroOne Festival.  I hope for opportunities to show it to many more people.