Thunderbolt2
Wednesday, April 3, 2024 4:21:11 PM
So some other discussions on here about Strates rides got me to thinking about days long ago, well during the 80s and some of the early 90s. Maybe some of you have some good memories or stores to add.

Specifically, the rides back then were in such good shape (not that they aren't now), but I could never find a bulb out on any ride, the Diver (with tubes) was completely lit right down to the triangles with all white and one red tip bulb. The Sky Wheel, and they didn't mix a bunch of colors, only green/yellow except for the signs, and every bulb burning, what a sight at night. The Scrambler was a sharp looking blue/white with same on bulbs and I always liked his crown with the small blue/white incandescent bulbs rather than tubes. When I first went the Thunderbolt and TriStar were new and of course looked sharped, and the Pirate and Enterprise. Believe the Super Loops was red/white, the R-Up, Tip Top, Scooter looked great. I really liked the YoYo with all yellow (every bulb working) and yes the Monster looked great too.

Kiddie rides were sharp, remember that big old MGR and 6 umbrellas, the train, kiddie glass house, red baron, go gator, and others. Like the slide with the banjo lights. All the rolling stock looked great and of course I loved those colors he used during that time for the show.

Maybe ridejockey can answer this, but after all the Divers and Sky Wheels that I saw with bulbs out, how did those guys keep those in such good shape, and something I have wondered about, those were not "sleeves" for the color were they? We used sleeves on all our rides for safety but also for color, but you could see white at ends with ours, not on the Sky Wheel, the Diver was all white at that time.
Bill P
  •  Bill P
  • 81.96% (Honored)
  • Operations Foreman
Wednesday, April 3, 2024 7:43:43 PM
Strates was one of the last shows to switch to sleeves on the SkyWheel. E James was a stickler for having all the lights working. I remember seeing the crew changing sky wheel ballasts in the middle of a busy afternoon.
I also remember driving by the Hamburg NY fairgrounds one year at 3AM and seeing the whole midway dark except for the lights on the top of the sky ride towers and the top wheel of the skywheel lit up.

Some others shows, which will not be named here, have set records for fewest lights working. Some examples:
a diver with 24 out of 96 tubes lit on one side.
a tower swing ride with no lights on the moving parts and the letters spelling "swinger" on the tower but only the letter "I" was lit.
a Progressive scooter with ONE 8 foot tube lit in the back corner and one banjo light over the entrance
A Tilt with a total of 4 tubes lit.
a sky wheel with NO lights on either wheel just a handfull of tubes lit in the towers and boom.
a Spider with NO lights on the ride, just two portable floodlights outside the fence, and it was that way for TWO YEARS.

ridejocky
Wednesday, April 3, 2024 10:05:42 PM
I joined Strates in May of '78 in winter quarters, rode the train north and stayed with them (but for a few spots in '79) until Anderson '88. I do not remember the condition of the equipment being all that great.

To keep rides looking good, management has to make it a priority, but it still comes down to staff, time and money, in that order.

Staff: It is hard enough to find guys that can move the rides, much less move them, drive truck, and keep them clean and lit. You have to have full crews, and not work them to death. Having the train meant that you did not need everyone to drive, and guys riding the train got a lot of rest. We had at least a hundred loads, and only 10-15 drivers. Having the train also meant you could have a ride shop, an electrical shop, a kiddieland shop, a machine shop, a supply trailer, five office trailers, big tanker, small tanker, two forklifts, four cranes, garbage truck, doniker truck, whatever, no big deal.

Time: there is big difference between playing five-day spots and tens. I was on the show ten years and can probably count on my hands (Bill P?) how many five-days I played with them. Tearing down on Saturday or Sunday an opening on Friday every two weeks is a lot different than tearing down on Saturday or Sunday and opening every Tuesday or Wednesday like a lot of shows did and (I guess) still do. Driving and moving a ride in two days every week is much more difficult than moving a ride in four days every two weeks and riding the train. And a ride that gets moves 15 times a year is not as beat up as a ride that gets moved 30 times a year. We hit the barn after Broward and did not go up-country until May, and we had a nice, big, well-equipped facility that was staffed year-round.

Money: Look at Strates' fair route back then. Harrisburg, Elmira, Hamburg, Syracuse, Winston, Raleigh, Albany & Broward. And the money did not have to go as far. Back then it only supported one family, now it has to support five.

Charlie Bond (RIP) did keep that Skywheel lit! One problem with the Skywheel is that not all the tubes are accessible after it's stood up, and Charlie would keep spares tapes inside. The Skywheel is a much more difficult to keep lit than the Skydiver because:
It (surprisingly) has more tubes than the 'diver.
It uses several different types of tubes, so it requires a lot more spare parts be inventoried.
It has two signs as opposed to one. each with a lot more bulbs. Did States even have a sign on the 'diver? If so, it was the cut-down version.
It has three commutators as opposed to one.
It has two flashers where the diver has none.

The diver is also easier to climb and work on, and much easier to up and down. I loved working the 'diver, too bad it did not have shade or win much money.




Ride the Zipper?
Bill P
  •  Bill P
  • 81.96% (Honored)
  • Operations Foreman
Thursday, April 4, 2024 1:38:56 PM
Can't recall if there was a sign on the old Strates Diver. The '88 model had the standard Chance sign up front.
First Diver around '67 had tractors saying S&J Amusements. In '76 they had a Diver & Super Loop booked in at Hamburg & Syracuse from Brown Amusements. In '77 I saw those two rides booked in with Gooding's Million Dollar at Allentown. Two Divers on a lot, a rare sight. In '76 Strates had 2 Divers and 2 Sky wheels at Syracuse. The extras came from Frankies' East Coast Shows. Unfortunately Frankies Sky Wheel and Mack Musik Express didn't make opening. Musik had only the building set up on opening night and the SkyWheel was spinning the boom shaking out loads of broken glass tubes. Must have dropped it or something during set up. Meanwhile Strates Sky Wheel was fully operational up front by the pig barn with EVERY tube lit!
It was the only time I ever saw two Sky Wheels on one midway.
Thunderbolt2
Thursday, April 4, 2024 1:56:40 PM
Originally Posted by: Bill P 

Can't recall if there was a sign on the old Strates Diver. The '88 model had the standard Chance sign up front.
First Diver around '67 had tractors saying S&J Amusements. In '76 they had a Diver & Super Loop booked in at Hamburg & Syracuse from Brown Amusements. In '77 I saw those two rides booked in with Gooding's Million Dollar at Allentown. Two Divers on a lot, a rare sight. In '76 Strates had 2 Divers and 2 Sky wheels at Syracuse. The extras came from Frankies' East Coast Shows. Unfortunately Frankies Sky Wheel and Mack Musik Express didn't make opening. Musik had only the building set up on opening night and the SkyWheel was spinning the boom shaking out loads of broken glass tubes. Must have dropped it or something during set up. Meanwhile Strates Sky Wheel was fully operational up front by the pig barn with EVERY tube lit!
It was the only time I ever saw two Sky Wheels on one midway.



Interesting stuff, you know sometimes I wonder about Frankie's and that they may have come to a small town near me hear. There was a shopping center with grocery store and Sky City department store, now smaller shows had set up in there with a wheel, rock o plane, and few other rides, but this one time a Sky Wheel was there, seemed strange as such a big ride I had only seen at the fall fair to be sitting in a parking lot (at that time). I never saw the name, but often wonder if it was Frankie's moving up the east coast.

I didn't personally see it, but Strates had at least two Sky Wheels, and maybe three at the NCSF in late 80's. The one I know of was Deggellers before they sold it, of course Deggeller also had 4 Sky Wheels at the FSF when they got the contract, one of them being Strates, I think Forest Waltz and Cumberland Valley had the others along with Deggellers.

Didn't get to see duplicates like that, but do remember at the Upper SC State Fair during the Conklin Magic Midway years that all wheels were present, Sky Wheel, Diver, Rock O Plane, and 2 Eli Wheels up front, those were the days before Giant Wheels.
Thunderbolt2
Thursday, April 4, 2024 2:02:44 PM
Originally Posted by: ridejocky 

I joined Strates in May of '78 in winter quarters, rode the train north and stayed with them (but for a few spots in '79) until Anderson '88. I do not remember the condition of the equipment being all that great.

To keep rides looking good, management has to make it a priority, but it still comes down to staff, time and money, in that order.

Staff: It is hard enough to find guys that can move the rides, much less move them, drive truck, and keep them clean and lit. You have to have full crews, and not work them to death. Having the train meant that you did not need everyone to drive, and guys riding the train got a lot of rest. We had at least a hundred loads, and only 10-15 drivers. Having the train also meant you could have a ride shop, an electrical shop, a kiddieland shop, a machine shop, a supply trailer, five office trailers, big tanker, small tanker, two forklifts, four cranes, garbage truck, doniker truck, whatever, no big deal.

Time: there is big difference between playing five-day spots and tens. I was on the show ten years and can probably count on my hands (Bill P?) how many five-days I played with them. Tearing down on Saturday or Sunday an opening on Friday every two weeks is a lot different than tearing down on Saturday or Sunday and opening every Tuesday or Wednesday like a lot of shows did and (I guess) still do. Driving and moving a ride in two days every week is much more difficult than moving a ride in four days every two weeks and riding the train. And a ride that gets moves 15 times a year is not as beat up as a ride that gets moved 30 times a year. We hit the barn after Broward and did not go up-country until May, and we had a nice, big, well-equipped facility that was staffed year-round.

Money: Look at Strates' fair route back then. Harrisburg, Elmira, Hamburg, Syracuse, Winston, Raleigh, Albany & Broward. And the money did not have to go as far. Back then it only supported one family, now it has to support five.

Charlie Bond (RIP) did keep that Skywheel lit! One problem with the Skywheel is that not all the tubes are accessible after it's stood up, and Charlie would keep spares tapes inside. The Skywheel is a much more difficult to keep lit than the Skydiver because:
It (surprisingly) has more tubes than the 'diver.
It uses several different types of tubes, so it requires a lot more spare parts be inventoried.
It has two signs as opposed to one. each with a lot more bulbs. Did States even have a sign on the 'diver? If so, it was the cut-down version.
It has three commutators as opposed to one.
It has two flashers where the diver has none.

The diver is also easier to climb and work on, and much easier to up and down. I loved working the 'diver, too bad it did not have shade or win much money.






All valid points and yes with the route he had they had down time between some spots to work on the equipment, Anderson was one spot where work would be done, remember them painting the Sky Ride during the fair, just touching up, not full job.

I often wondered because it looked like a lot, but how bad was tearing down the platforms on the TriStar? I ask because I can remember riding it and seeing all those pieces from the air, looked much more difficult than Enterprise platforms.
Thunderbolt2
Thursday, April 4, 2024 2:04:28 PM
Originally Posted by: Bill P 

Strates was one of the last shows to switch to sleeves on the SkyWheel. E James was a stickler for having all the lights working. I remember seeing the crew changing sky wheel ballasts in the middle of a busy afternoon.
I also remember driving by the Hamburg NY fairgrounds one year at 3AM and seeing the whole midway dark except for the lights on the top of the sky ride towers and the top wheel of the skywheel lit up.

Some others shows, which will not be named here, have set records for fewest lights working. Some examples:
a diver with 24 out of 96 tubes lit on one side.
a tower swing ride with no lights on the moving parts and the letters spelling "swinger" on the tower but only the letter "I" was lit.
a Progressive scooter with ONE 8 foot tube lit in the back corner and one banjo light over the entrance
A Tilt with a total of 4 tubes lit.
a sky wheel with NO lights on either wheel just a handfull of tubes lit in the towers and boom.
a Spider with NO lights on the ride, just two portable floodlights outside the fence, and it was that way for TWO YEARS.



LOL, I have seen stuff like that as well, so know where you coming from.
Thunderbolt2
Thursday, April 4, 2024 2:06:11 PM
Originally Posted by: Bill P 

Strates was one of the last shows to switch to sleeves on the SkyWheel. E James was a stickler for having all the lights working. I remember seeing the crew changing sky wheel ballasts in the middle of a busy afternoon.
I also remember driving by the Hamburg NY fairgrounds one year at 3AM and seeing the whole midway dark except for the lights on the top of the sky ride towers and the top wheel of the skywheel lit up.

Some others shows, which will not be named here, have set records for fewest lights working. Some examples:
a diver with 24 out of 96 tubes lit on one side.
a tower swing ride with no lights on the moving parts and the letters spelling "swinger" on the tower but only the letter "I" was lit.
a Progressive scooter with ONE 8 foot tube lit in the back corner and one banjo light over the entrance
A Tilt with a total of 4 tubes lit.
a sky wheel with NO lights on either wheel just a handfull of tubes lit in the towers and boom.
a Spider with NO lights on the ride, just two portable floodlights outside the fence, and it was that way for TWO YEARS.



LOL, I have seen stuff like that as well, so know where you coming from.
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