More energy-efficient, easier to assemble and transport - the Lamberink Wheel (also known by its model # RL33) - has gained an enthusiastic following among European carnival companies and is now available to midway companies in the North America and Australia.
The Lamberink Wheel - 108 feet tall - is moved on three semi trailers, which are integrated into the design of the wheel, requires only a crane or auto-crane (cherry-picker) for assembly, and takes only five hours and a team of five to set up. "The design with the round gondolas and tubular towers make this wheel look very elegant," said Peter Theunisz, president of Used Rides Europe BV, who is representing Lamberink's RL33 to non-European markets. "The LED lighting package that comes with the ride as default, makes it a great eye catcher for every midway and carnival."
The Lamberink Family is a name may not be well-known in the United States but in Europe the reputation has more than three decades of renown. "The Lamberinks have been showmen for decades and they are well known in Holland, Belgium and France for their transportable wheels," said Theunisz. "They are one of the most respected ride manufacturers and carnival operators in Europe."
The wheels are manufactured by Jan Lamberink, who recently decided it was time to spend less time on the road. His oldest son, Sebastian, has taken over the carnival division of the company, enabling Jan Lamberink "more time to invest in new ideas and engineering for transportable wheels," said Theunisz.
The Lamberink Wheel may be new, but is an updated version of the Kroon Wheel (AKA Dutch Kroon Wheel), which was designed by Albert Kroon Sr., who revolutionized the highly portable and (relatively) easy-to-assemble Ferris Wheels in the 1970s. Theunisz describes the Kroon Wheel as "the very first easy set up wheel" available.
An estimated 15 Kroon Wheels were sold, mainly in Europe although a few were sold in the U.S. The Lamberink Family (Albert's daughter, Kaokkie is married to Jan Lamberink) of course has a Kroon Wheel. "In the last few years other showmen from the whole of Europe frequently asked Lamberink to build and sell them a similar wheel," said Theunisz. "Because of lack of time he never considered building these wheels to sell them to other showmen."
Until now. As word got out that after more than two decades, an updated version of the Kroon Wheel was being sold, interest among European midway providers rapidly spread, and soon the news traveled across the pond. "I had U.S. buyers approach me without me doing any promotion," said Theunisz.
Theunisz, who is also the sales manager for KMG, a manufacturer of fair rides headquartered in the Netherlands, has noticed increasing demand for European rides among U.S. midway providers in recent years.
"You are seeing a lot of interest in the European style of engineering rides," said Theunisz.
While European manufactured rides have a sleekness and smoothness that is often unique to the "Old World" carnival sensibility, Theunisz feels the major distinction is that European designers pay closer attention to the efficiency of construction - assembling the rides on the fairgrounds. "We make the ease of construction at events part of the design. You don't need bunch of guys to set the RL33. There is a good feeling now about European rides in the U.S. market."
Another selling point is the wheel's energy efficiency. Because the new Lamberink Wheel uses electric motors instead of hydraulic motors with a large pump and the more energy efficient LED lighting, instead of the conventional light bulbs, "The Lamberink Wheel requires approximately 40 percent less power," he said. "This has caused much interest among U.S. showmen, they are very interested in lower fuel costs."
He added, "The Lamberink Wheel is more reliable than other wheels, there's no oil waste or pollution, and it is easier to repair."
Another advantage for American midway companies in considering the Lamberink Wheel this year is the strength of the dollar. "That's a big factor," said Theunisz. "Everyone can do the math. The stronger the Dollar gets compared to the Euro, the more appealing it gets to purchase a Wheel in Europe."
The European economic recovery is lagging behind the United States, also improving market conditions in this market. "We [Europe] are still at a down point, but that makes it very interesting for American Companies as buyers," said Theunisz. "There is more demand right now in the states for rides. The U.S. economy has definitely picked up sooner and is growing."
The Lamberink Wheel must be custom-ordered, with a turn-around time - from order to delivery - of about six months. According to Theunisz, the Kroon Wheel is the only ride the Lamberink Family is currently manufacturing. The company is planning to introduce a larger, 145-foot tall model in 2016.
The Lamberink Wheel is also the first new ride being distributed by Used Rides Europe BV, who like its name indicates, specializes in selling used and recondition outdoor amusement rides. However, the company does distribute several new pieces of other midway equipment, including furnishings, operator booths, game containers, sound systems and living trailers, all made-to-order.