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  #1  
Old 03-28-2005, 02:08 PM
Little BrÝther Little BrÝther is offline
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Does the carnival sledgehammer strength gizmo have a name?

We've all seen this gizmo in carnivals and county fairs, or at least TV/movie versions of them: The contestant pounds some kind of pivoted board or stump thingamajig at ground level with a sledgehammer, thus propelling a weight up a vertical pole attached to the base.

If the contestant is strong enough, the force of the blow drives this weight all the way up the pole (~ 20 feet tall), such that it rings a bell (gong?) affixed to the top of the pole.

What in the world is this contraption called? Everyone I've asked knows exactly what I'm referring to when I describe it, but I haven't found anybody who knows what it's called!
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  #2  
Old 03-28-2005, 02:11 PM
ArrMatey! ArrMatey! is offline
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I've heard it refered to by carnie workers as both a 'test-your-strength', and simply 'The bell'.
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Old 03-28-2005, 02:11 PM
pinkfreud pinkfreud is offline
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It's called a "striker" or "high-striker."
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Old 03-28-2005, 02:13 PM
pinkfreud pinkfreud is offline
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Lots of references turn up on a Google search.
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Old 03-28-2005, 02:15 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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Well, some call it a Hi-Striker, but I've always thought of it as "the Test-Your-Strength gimmick."
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Old 03-28-2005, 09:38 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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BTW: the secret of the gimmick is:
SPOILER:
It's not how hard you hit the board, it's how fast you hit it. It requires strength only in the sense that you need to be able to whip the hammer down like it weighs nothing.
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  #7  
Old 03-28-2005, 09:41 PM
Pullet Pullet is offline
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Thnx, Lumpy. I always wondered what the secret was behind those things. Because it's a carnaval and every game is crooked.

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Old 03-28-2005, 11:54 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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That's just one of the secrets. The other is that there's a pedal or switch that tightens the wire. When the skinny-as-a-rail shill steps up, the wire is tight, and he rings the bell. When the mark steps up, he's fighting not only gravity, but a slack wire.

This device is said to be the origin of "close, but no cigar."
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Old 03-29-2005, 07:13 AM
Padeye Padeye is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumpy
It's not how hard you hit the board, it's how fast you hit it.
KE is a function of V so how exactly is there a difference between hitting hard and fast?
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Old 03-29-2005, 07:43 AM
Trunk Trunk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Padeye
KE is a function of V so how exactly is there a difference between hitting hard and fast?
Good question.

Sounds like the secret is that "slack wire" thing. I always figured they had some kind of thing rigged up, a magnet or a dampening thing in the board that could be switched on or off.
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Old 03-29-2005, 08:11 AM
chrisk chrisk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Padeye
KE is a function of V so how exactly is there a difference between hitting hard and fast?
Hmmm... mass is also a factor... (both in KE and in momentum, either of which could be referred to as 'hitting hard') Would there be a way to hit the board that would put your own weight behind the impact, as well as the weight of the hammer head??
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  #12  
Old 03-29-2005, 08:30 AM
Padeye Padeye is offline
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There might be a slight difference if you were still pushing the hammer after it struck but I think that might be negligibleI have reconsidered my technique though and next year when I try it at the Apache Junction renaissance festival I'm going to see if I can swing the hammer in a full cicle and get it as high as possible at the top of the arc so I can get maximum velocity when it strikes. I've never seen anyone do more than tap the bell and that includes the barker so I doubt if it's been rigged.
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  #13  
Old 03-29-2005, 11:16 AM
Rodd Hill Rodd Hill is offline
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Interesting article on midway gaffs, by a law enforcement type:

http://pac-c.org/Carnies.htm

A lot of the biggest con men and grifters of the early twentieth century came from midway backgrounds, making it big when they switched to playing the wire, the rag, or the pay-off in a "big store."

http://www.blongerbros.com/gang/payoff.asp
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  #14  
Old 03-29-2005, 11:35 AM
bouv bouv is offline
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I've only ever attempted one of those things once, but I got it to ring, and ring loudly, the frist time. My trick was to grip the hammer in both hands, hold it behind me and swing it over my head as fast as I could, making sure to have my arms extended when it was at the apex above my head, and swing down with all my might. To me, at least, that doesn't seem like a "trick",. it's just how you hit something when you want to hit it as hard as you can. Also, I hit the "target" as close to me as I could. I looked at it, and basically the target semed to be on a lever, so it made sense that by hitting it at the furthest point out, I could get the largest moment.
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  #15  
Old 03-29-2005, 02:10 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Padeye
KE is a function of V so how exactly is there a difference between hitting hard and fast?
The lever you hit is already at a mechanical advantage where the end you hit moves down a couple of inches while the other end only moves up a fraction of an inch. So given the weight of the hammers provided, the resistance of the target is virtually nill. You need to be able to swing the hammer fast enough so that the target is pushed at a high enough speed to reach the top. Most people instinctively try to skimp on the upstroke and then make up for it by bearing down on the downstroke, trying to substitute force for speed. bouv got it right in that the trick is to build up as much speed as possible. Swing high, keeping your arms straight.
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