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Owners urged to check rides after Conn. accident

HARTFORD — Bulletins are going out this week to owners of the other dozen or so swing rides of the type that broke last month at a Connecticut fair, advising them to use ultrasonic testing equipment to check the gears and shafts in the motors for any problems, said an official of the successor company of the ride’s manufacturer.

There are about a dozen Zumur rides remaining in the United States and three in other countries, Jeff Roth, vice president of administration for Chance Rides of Wichita, Kan., told the Associated Press Thursday.

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The accident Sept. 8 at the annual Oyster Festival in Norwalk came after a drive system that spins the ride’s hanging swings suddenly froze, sending passengers hurtling into each other and the ride. Thirteen people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.

Crews took apart the hydraulic motor and discovered that a metal shaft that helps spin the ride had broken. The shaft, about 16 inches long and 2½ inches across, was attached to a gear that was hooked into another gear that helped propel the swings.

The ride is owned by Stewart Amusement Co. of Monroe, Conn. The company’s owner, Richard Stewart, said Thursday that his crews followed manufacturer specifications on maintenance and that readjusting the gears was not part of those specifications, to their knowledge.

‘‘Once those things are set in place, they shouldn’t have to be adjusted,’’ Stewart said. He said he planned to call Chance Rides to discuss the problem.

Routine maintenance could have prevented the accident, Roth said. His company determined that the shaft broke because the teeth on the gears had worn over the years and the gears had not been readjusted as they should have under manufacturer specifications. Chance’s predecessor, Chance Manufacturing Co., made the ride in 1983.

Police officials inspected all the Stewart Amusement rides at the festival before it opened and found a few minor problems, but none with the Zumur, according to a police report on the inspections.

Stewart has no history of safety violations, officials said.

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