Prairie Village News 8/8/17

Faron Wahl, Manager

Several weeks ago, I promised an update on the restoration of our carousel. As the news and plans have been shifting a bit lately, I’ve held off making announcements until I could back my statements with certainty.

As most of you know, last October our treasured relic was carefully disassembled and loaded onto a truck and a few trailers. It then headed out on a lengthy road trip…. destination: Mansfield, Ohio. Carousel Works scheduled the transport at that early date not because the restoration was ready to begin, but because those Ohioans know about South Dakota winters. They weren’t willing to implement a careful, gloves-off disassembly amid snowdrifts and negative wind chills. Wise folks, those Ohioans.

With the work commencing in late winter, our hope was to see our carousel’s homecoming, re-assembly and return to full operation during the current season. A couple of things have slowed that schedule down, neither of which could be avoided. In fact, one of the circumstances only affirms how critically this machine was needing a complete overhaul.

For starters, I’ve recently been advised by the Carousel Works owners that some of the wood materials needed have been held up in the lumber industry supply line, a casualty of rain in Washington State. As the wait began to have no foreseeable end, a secondary supplier was sought in Canada. While the added international tariffs won’t be passed along to us, the added wait must be. I’m told the Canadian route will at least assure material delivery this year, but it could easily cost the whole process a couple of months’ extra time.

Additionally, it turns out that greater parts refurbishment on our carousel is necessary. The final checklist of actual restorative work called for is drawn up as the parts are disassembled one by one in the shop, deeply cleaned, and inspected. Only then is the true story told of which components simply need refinishing, which need significant repair, and which ones require major rebuilding. More is needed than anyone knew.

Think of it like scheduled exploratory surgery. You might enter the hospital hoping the surgeon will find you only need a basic level of post-op treatment and you’ll be headed home in a couple of days. But let’s say the doctor meets you in recovery and instead explains that a couple of more serious concerns were discovered which must be addressed. Nothing catastrophic, perhaps, but certainly work that dares not wait.

Would you be disappointed at the news of extended treatment and delayed hospital stay? No doubt. But you would also recognize the good fortune that the discovery had been made and that successful treatment was available on-site, without the time, expense, and hassle of a second admission later. You’d certainly stay and finish what the doctor said had to be done, if it ensured your health in the long run.

Such is the case with our carousel. We can’t look at this project as though it were a ticking clock. Rather, we need to see it as a one-shot deal, intended to vault our carousel into a position of structural health that will last many, many years. Seen through those glasses, we really don’t have a choice on this, and what’s being done is easily the right and best thing. After all, wasn’t the whole idea that we’d have our crown jewel fully and correctly restored?

At more than 100 years old, this treasured carousel is a genuine artifact of a generation of machines that wielded major influence on the development of the American amusement ride industry. You simply can’t go anywhere else today and ride a carousel like ours, much less powered by steam. Regarding this rare remaining piece of American history, much is entrusted to our care. We’re taking that charge seriously, and we’ll be patient while the Carousel Works experts get us there!