How to Disassemble a Merry-Go-Round





Introduction: How to Disassemble a Merry-Go-Round

The background: My small Iowa town wanted to dispose of its old, iron, enough-momentum-to-crush-bones merry-go-round, so they put it up for auction. A relative of mine put in the only bid. Being the handy ones, my father and I got the job of disassembling it, with an eye towards eventually putting it back together again somewhere new.

Step 1: Remove Planking

The wooden planking was in mixed shape. Some had been recently replaced, and some was rotting away. A Sawzall and a crowbar made quick work of it.

Step 2: Remove Wood Frame

The underlying boards were in remarkably good shape, considering the age of the thing. However, we weren't going to keep them. Two cuts with the Sawzall to separate them, and the square-nutted bolt through the pipe came off easily with a crescent wrench. That allowed the wooden frame to drop off. In the photo you can see the 2 "butterfly" pieces. Like most of the machine, they're good cast iron. There is another L-shaped piece that wraps around the outside of the joint and reinforces the bottom side. It has 2 knobs sticking out which helped it align the mitered wooden parts.

Whoever assembled this used the wrong size of carriage bolts, so the square heads of the bolts just spun around in the square holes in the casting. To get these old bolts off, I had to grab the round end of the carriage bolts with vice grips and use an impact wrench on the nuts.

Step 3: Bottom Hub

With the wooden parts removed, it was time to start on the pipes. First, we removed the bolts that ran through the bottom hub of the central shaft. They ran up from below through a hub, a bracket attached to the radial boards, and a casting at the bottom of the S-shaped pipe.

Step 4: Handrail/Crossbraces

There were little short pipes between the spokes, held together with a pair of castings. 2 bolts, and off they come.

Step 5: De-Spoking

Having removed the crossbraces and the bottom hub bolts, the spokes are held in by only one bolt each in the top hub. Remove that bolt, apply a bit of force to break through decades of crud, and they come off.

Step 6: Hub

Hopefully by now your merry-go-round has been reduced to a funny-looking post. The post was actually composed of 4 sections: a top hub casting, a chunk of pipe, a bottom hub casting, and a central pillar running through all three, which was embedded in concrete. The hubs and larger pipe just lifted off the central pillar.

Notice that there are 3 grease fittings; 1 on top and 2 on the sides. The 2 on the sides of the pipe had been painted over and not greased for years. Naughty park custodians.

Step 7: What's in the Hub?

We pulled the small bolts connecting the top hub to the pipe, and peered inside. It turns out that the hub is the world's simplest ball bearing. There's a cup in the top of the central pillar, a ball bearing the size of a ping-pong ball, and another cup inside the top of the hub. Fill it with grease, and it will serve for decades.

The cup in the top of the pillar is a separate casting, which came out pretty easily. The top of the pillar was milled down to give the connecting bolts some clearance (we think).

Step 8: Pillar Removal

We can't really just leave a steel pipe sticking out of the ground in the middle of the park, so we had to cut it off. A big angle grinder was the tool of choice, with additional motivation from a sledgehammer. It still took 20 minutes. As we discovered, that was some HEAVY pipe, with 5/8" thick walls.

And that's the end of it. Now the pieces will sit in our shed until we figure out where they're going.



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    16 Discussions

    I am designing one for my boss. We have some old trailer house axles that I am going to put a mounting assembly frame for the roundabout deck. I am slightly concerned about the deck and the added child weight once we get it all assembled. I am not sure if the axle hub is going to be able to withstand the weight in a vertical position. The axle is cast and the frame that I am building around the axle hub is 3/8" thick steel. I will not be welding to the cast, only building the frame around it and bolting it into place. If anyone would like to chime in and give me a pointer or two on this that would be awesome.

    1 reply

    hi, i have a school project that needs to design a merry go round just like yours, can i borrow your design in solidworks? please mail me if you can

    Good stuff! I eagerly await the reassembly Instructable as well. ;)

    Good read. The more I look around the less (as in zero) merry-go-rounds I see in the playgrounds being constructed these days. These poor kids today have no idea what they're missing. Sure maybe they were the source of broken bones, and occasional concussions. But the same could be said for just about any playground device. In my skewed opinion if you didn't have a broken/fractured bone, or a good lump on your head as a kid then you weren't having enough fun.

    4 replies

    I agree entirely. I spent my childhood bouncing off of my environment; I've got the scars to prove it. It made me who I am. And for what it's worth, this old merry-go-round was replaced by a smaller, lighter, safer one.

    Just forces the smart kids to teach the others about momentum, and get more kids on the thing.

    That's cool. Glad to hear that they didn't have it removed with no intentions of replacing it. With regard to your other comment on liability. I guess I understand that but really there should be a liability disclaimer posted outside the playground that parents should be aware of. It's bad when the town is afraid to provide a place where kids can have fun at the risk of being sued due to bumps bruises etc. After all it's not like the town is obligated to provide a playground.

    So you get your very own merry-go-round? Awesome! I would love to own one of those.

    We used to have a small merry-go-round in a local park until recently and me and some of my friends and family would still use it and we range in age from about 12 to 20. One time when I was much younger one of my brothers and I as well as at least 10 or 15 other kids were all pushing it around as fast as we could but then my brother fell and all of the other kids ran two more laps (over my brother) before I managed to get their attention and get them to stop. We still laugh about that time.

    The city fathers were concerned about liability. Sad thought that may be. At least this way it could be reassembled. Better than the scrapyard, no?

    Quite possibly. However, it may or may not actually get reassembled, and I may or may not be the one doing it. If I do, I'll post it.

    I found this Instructable awesomely interesting. It is not every day where you have the opportunity to disassemble a Merry-Go-Round, and I loved how you documented the entire process. Someone out there will be very thankful for these instructions! Nice work!