Battech Enterprises has taken on two separate innovative projects for the 2016 fair season. Albert Frieden, owner of Battech, commented on both of these projects and their fruition as well as what the future holds for innovation at Battech.
Battech has been known under many different names, a few of which include Manco and more recently Darton. Manco and Darton rides are still serviced by Battech today. Frieden describes this history saying, "The Battech product line goes back to the original Hrubetz company which began in 1939 when Frank Hrubetz, who was an Engineer for the Eyerly Aircraft Company, left to form his own business. Hrubetz retired and his son-in-law took over and the company became Kilinski Manufacturing Company. This evolved to Man-Co and later Dartron Industries, Inc. when B
ob Coil took over in 1991. When he (Bob Coil) retired in November of 2009 Battech Enterprises, LLC purchased the assets."
The first ride concepts for many of Battech's popular rides originated as pilot training prototypes for aircraft companies. Frieden comments, "Eyerly aircraft companies made the Spider, the original Octopus, Fly-o-Plane, Rock-O-Plane and Roll-O-Plane as well as several other rides. These were all designed as pilot training tools. Eventually the aircraft company found the secondary market in amusements and began selling to carnivals".
Today, Battech's home base is a 30,000 square foot facility located in Oregon. Projects start at one end with cutting and machining, then move to assembly and finally a separate facility area for painting. Frieden comments, "We try to do a lot in-house. I have a staff of 25-30 people at any time doing rides and rebuilds". Battech is currently producing several traditional carnival rides such as Cliffhangers, Zero Gravities, and Down Drafts. They are also doing rebuilds and projects for several different amusement customers.
The newest innovation at Battech is the trailer-mounted Spider. The traditional Spider ride consists of a base, legs, and pods which are secured to the ends of each leg. The base spins as the tubs spin creating a double rotation. Each tub holds 2 people and there are typically 12 tubs on each Spider. Each piece - the legs, the base and the tubs - are traditionally brought into the midway on a trailer, unloaded and assembled piece by piece, then the trailer was relocated form the midway to a storage area. Frieden comments, "The biggest negative to the Spider was that there were issues with setup system". The process alone of setting up or breaking down a traditional Spider ride could take several hours and sustainable man-power.
The new trailer-mounted Spider is considerably more efficient and manageable. Frieden explains, "The trailer-mounted version allows the components to stay on the midway which makes set-up cleaner. You don't have to handle every single piece of the ride multiple times and the trailer stays right there. The main frame of the Spider itself is actually on the trailer and each car can easily be put back into the trailer space. There is no longer a need to remove the short sweeps / stub arms from the main sweeps of the Spider. A traditional Spider used to take considerable more time and personnel, to both set-up and prepare for transport. With the trailer-mounted version, it takes two people two hours or less to set up and tear down". This new model also runs on a push-button control (VFD) rather than a clutch and gearbox arrangement.
The trailer-mounted Spider is still being worked on at the Battech facilities. Older Spider rides were acquired and worked on as prototypes using different aspects of their original designs to create this faster and easier method of assembly. Friedman comments, "We are heavily into the design stages of it. There are regular design meetings moving forward, and production is expected soon". Two trailer-mounted Spiders have already been sold, one Skinner's Amusements. Frieden also explains, "At this point, I have several customers that want to purchase the 'Black Widow', (new version of the Spider), but I am not prepared sign a contract for the third ride until production is much further along."
Also on the agenda for Battech's 2016-2017 fair season is a new Double Slide. The Double Slide consists of two three-lane slides that allow guests to slide 100 feet.
Frieden describes it as "two slides that can run independently of each other for smaller spots or can marry up into a single unit for larger fairs". He explains that he cannot take credit for the original idea for this ride, but that a friend came to him and described his desire to have something versatile for larger and smaller places. The Double Slide is also trailer-mounted in the same way as the Spider, allowing for efficient and simplified set-ups and breakdowns. Frieden commented that his most popular feedback on the Double Slide was people questioning why it hadn't been created already.
Battech Enterprises' creation of these two new models of traditional rides is putting an efficient and innovative spin on what was once tedious and time-consuming. By designing a version of both the Double Slide and Spider ride to be trailer-mounted, Battech is creating a new pathway in amusement engineering. You can soon find the trailer-mounted Spider traveling with Skinner's Amusements as well as at this year's Gibtown Trade Show. Frieden stated that there will also be more rebuilds and reveals to look forward to in the 2016 season.