Whiling in the Wind (Continued)

Karen, Mike, and Natalie from the Science Museum of Minnesota traveled to North Carolina to get some answers from Vollis:

"They're having a ball." Vollis pointed to the whirligigs overhead as he greeted us. We showed him a video of the students asking questions.

Where do you get the materials?

"I don't have to buy nothing 'cept the aluminum and the bolts and the paint."

Do you use stuff from abandoned planes, junkyards, and stuff?

"The biggest part comes from the junkyard."

How do you get all the blades at the right angle so that they turn?

"The way you slant it is the way it will turn. If the wind comes in straight, it will hit that and turn. If you slant it the other way, it will go in reverse. The more you pitch it, the slower it turns."


To view a QuickTime VR movie of Vollis's whirligigs, click here (525K). You will need to the QuickTime VR plug-in or player.

How'd you get them to stay moving?

"The main part of doing anything that turns is to get it centered. If you don't, it's like an egg that will go bump, bump, and shake your bits all to pieces."

 How heavy are they?

"The horse weighs anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 pounds. The windmill's pretty heavy. It's hard to guess. In fact, I don't ever weigh nothing, 'cept the parts."


How long do they last?

"That's a good question. That's something I don't even know.

Have the whirligigs ever been struck by lightning?

"As far as I know, no. I've been blessed. I haven't had any problems."


What if you mess up on the real thing? How do you fix it?

"Start over," Vollis laughed.

To find out more, visit http://www.sci.mus.mn.us/sln/vollis

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