Exhibition equipment hire, Pirates treasure chest with motorised rotating turntable




A show stand can call to visitors. One way of doing this is to incorporate movement. Something moving always catches your eye. The build of the chest on this page does just that. It also drives a light display on a map of the world that stands behind it. The map though, should be painted in pirate colours. Perhaps at the next stage of display development. You can see how the treasure chest was made, from recycled scrap metal and wood - and old parts from a car and washing machine.




The Treasure Chest (TC) stand featured on this page may have been cobbled together from recycled materials, but future stands may be purpose designed for customers as new builds for cars and boats in particular, or indeed any object in practice, such as a model of a house or city. 


The TC example includes several innovative features which may give you ideas as to displays. Lighting has not been explored, which is one way of enhancing a show stand that we are currently thinking about for future events, building on the light display that is intrinsic to this design, timed from a central camshaft, but extending the use to include additional camshafts for spotlights color shift and movement. 



An old steel desk and various parts to be welded to the Treasure Chest


To some this might look like a pile of old junk - and it is. But, put together scrap steel and old motor parts can be very useful. This is recycling. What we have here is an old office desk where all the wooden parts have gone, a washing machine drum bearing and an old Ford Escort MkI windscreen wiper motor. The one bit of equipment that pulls these parts all together is the SIP welder on the right. Apart from welding gas, wire and electricity, everything else is recycled.





The basic Treasure Chest (TC) stand is available for hire at £200 a day, or £500 week + delivery and collection charges.


Stands of a similar size may be purchased as corporate custom builds from £3,000. A rotating table for a small car or boat of around 4 meters may be supplied starting from £6,000. Larger powered displays will be quoted for on receipt of a brief. Contact ip@bluebird-electric.net for details.




A buried treasure is an important part of the popular beliefs surrounding pirates and Old West outlaws. The essential ingredient of which is a large wooden chest. According to popular conception, criminals and others often buried their stolen fortunes in remote places, intending to return for them later, often with the use of treasure maps.

In reality, pirates burying treasure was rare: the only pirate known to have buried treasure was William Kidd, who is believed to have buried at least some of his wealth on Long Island before sailing into New York. Kidd had originally been commissioned as a privateer for England, but his behavior had strayed into outright piracy, and he hoped that his treasure could serve as a bargaining chip in negotiations to avoid punishment. His bid was unsuccessful, however, and Kidd was hanged as a pirate.



The central support bearing and drive shaft arrangement


Well, there you have it. The washing machine bearing and pulley is now bolted into a steel 'Y' frame. That connects to the Ford wiper motor via a leather belt as used on sewing machines. To the bearing an upright tube of heavy gauge steel has been welded.


In English fiction there are three well known stories that helped to popularize the myth of buried pirate treasure: "Wolfert Webber" (1824) by Washington Irving, "The Gold-Bug" (1843) by Edgar Allan Poe and Treasure Island (1883) by Robert Louis Stevenson. They differ widely in plot and literary treatment but are blood kin from the common ancestor of the William Kidd legend. David Cordingly states that "The effect of Treasure Island on our perception of pirates cannot be overestimated," and says of the idea of treasure maps leading to buried treasure that, "[I]t is an entirely fictional device." Stevenson's Treasure Island was directly influenced by Irving's "Wolfert Webber", Stevenson saying in his preface "It is my debt to Washington Irving that exercises my conscience, and justly so, for I believe plagiarism was rarely carried farther... the whole inner spirit and a good deal of the material detail of my first chapters... were the property of Washington Irving."

In 1911, American author Ralph D. Paine conducted a survey of all known or purported stories of buried treasure and published them in The Book of Buried Treasure. He found a common trait in all the stories: there was always a lone survivor of a piratical crew who somehow preserved a chart showing where the treasure was buried, but unable to return himself, he transfers the map or information to a friend or shipmate, usually on his deathbed. This person would then go search in vain for the treasure, but not before transferring the legend down to another hapless seeker.


Treasure Chest arms to support the show boat


Okay, so we now have a motorised turntable, onto which is welded a steel carrier comprised of one 'T' arm made of 40 x 40 mm box section and four 16 gauge steel tubes. Before all that was put in place, you can see that a piece of block-board has been fitted over the rotating shaft - and is marked with regular radians.



Lighting display timing switches triggered from a rotating camshaft


Here the steel desk is shown with four timber semi-circular formers for the chest top. You can also see two transformer on the left, bolted under one steel bar. The wiper motor in on the right and the block-board has now been fitted with a custom control panel that gives two speeds, clockwise and counter-clockwise and fine variable speed. You can also see a circular array of micro-switches that are driven by a cam bolted to the main 'T' carrier. The timber frames have to be bolted to the steel desk frame.



Timbers are cut and fitted to the show stand to make a treasure chest


The planks (actually slats) from salvaged pallets, are cut to length and screwed to the semi-circular formers.




The wooden treasure chest is varnished


With a bit of elbow grease and a sheet or two of sandpaper (40 grit production paper), the old pallet timbers are brought back to life. What really makes a difference is the several coats of Cuprinol Yacht varnish. Before varnishing fine sand with 120 grit.



Drive motor for the pirates treasure chest


Refinement to the motor drive is an adjustable spring tensioner which allows the pressure at which the turntable might be stopped to be varied. Thus, if a small child were to get in the path of the rotating display, the display simply stops. The system acts like a safety clutch.



Treasure Chest show stand hire


During one continuous day of operation at Earl's Court in London, the motor got extremely hot. It turned out that the copper commutators were blocked with carbon. The joins were scraped clean and washed in solvent. The motor casing was drilled with a series of ventilating holes and the computer fan in this picture was added to circulate air when the treasure chest door is closed. The unit never overheated again - even when run for days on end.



There are a number of reports of supposed buried pirate treasure that surfaced much earlier than these works, which indicates that at least the idea was around for more than a century before those stories were published. For example, some underground passages and structures on Oak Island (in Nova Scotia) have supposedly been excavated extensively since 1795 in the belief that one or more pirate captains had stashed large amounts of loot there. These excavations were said to have been prompted by still older legends of buried pirate treasure in the area. No treasure has ever been found.

The Treasure of Lima is a supposed buried treasure on Cocos Island in the Pacific left there by pirates. The treasure, estimated at worth £160 million, was stolen by British Captain William Thompson, in 1820 after he was entrusted to transport it from Peru to Mexico.

The only authenticated treasure chest in the United States, once owned by Thomas Tew, is kept at the Pirate Soul Museum in St Augustine, Florida.

Buried treasure is not the same as a hoard, of which there have been thousands of examples found by archaeologists and metal detectors. Buried treasure is as much a cultural concept as an objective thing, it is related to pirates and other criminals who leave stolen artifacts behind for later retrieval, typically in remote places like islands, sometimes with maps leading back to the treasure.






  Treasure hunting adventure story by Jameson Hunter


Treasure Island book cover  Treasure Island


The most famous treasure hunting yarn is undoubtedly Robert Louis Stevenson, with Treasure Island. Many films have been made based on this book and we're sure that there will be many more to come. A newcomer to the genre is fellow countryman Jameson Hunter with his "Golden Skull," adventure - also based in the Caribbean but with a contemporary setting.


















The SWAN hydrographic exploration robot ship



The ultimate Robot Treasure Hunter, the SWAN marine exploration robot uses SNAV patent technology in an advanced active hull to provide autonomy for archaeological exploration.





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