Helping them ride the waves in Kansas

Local company Shetland Composites has recently been involved in mak­ing parts of a surf ride which will be installed in Kansas.

The company usually takes orders for sea and marine equipment, such as tanks for hatcheries and storage, navigation aids and other prototypes, but has just completed a water jet to be fitted in a surf ride for one of the biggest artificial surf companies in the world.

Owner and manager Fred Gibson said the firm was originally offered the chance to build the entire ride, but due to space limitations had to build part of it instead.

The prototypes and scale models were built last year before being tested at Strathclyde University. The team then got to work making the real thing.

He said: “Last week we put it all together here, our part of it; the rest of the ride is being manufactured in the south coast of England.”

The company builds the parts out of timber before putting them together and sealing them with layers of glass.

He said: “We have to make all the shapes first and build them out of timber and spray them to get a highly polished surface, so we can get a relief surface; then we build the parts. It’s a bit like Airfix!”

The parts are then constructed before being wrapped in layers of fibreglass so that the final part can withstand a high volume of pressure.

The parts for the ride will be con­structed at a water park in Kansas. The ride itself will feature the pump, which will jet high pressured water up a slope which will then be able to be surfed on.

Shetland Composites was com­missioned by Glasgow based com­pany Murphy’s Waves, one of the world’s leading surf machine com­panies which supplies artificial surf machines all over the world.

The company manufactures a wide range of artificial surf and wave machines and rides which feat­ure in some of the world’s top holi­day destinations, including Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Disney World in Florida, South Africa, New Zealand and even Baghdad.

It also creates wave systems for sea survival training purposes which are used by offshore workers, air and sea rescue services and the armed forces.

Mr Gibson and his team were limited to building parts for the ride due to the size of their current premises at Gremista. However more room would allow them to build finished products and get more business.

Mr Gibson said: “We’re in the process of applying for funding that would allow the big projects to come our way, at the moment we tend to cherry pick the best ones, or what we’ve done in the past is the tooling and other people build the actual parts.”

He said he hoped that if the funding came through they could build around 10 complete rides a year.

Douglas Murphy of Murphy’s Waves said he had heard about Shet­land Composites through another company, Edinburgh Des­igns, which had worked with Mr Gibson and recommended him.

“Fred has fairly unique expertise in the creation of glass fibre pro­ducts, and Shetland Composites are very good at what they do.”


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