Flying without wings

24 November 2010

LTM (Lift-Turn-Move) has supplied forty 1USt LoadGuard hoists to Over The Top Rigging (OTT) for the JLS tour, ‘Outta This World’, across the UK.

The Merseyside, UK- based lifting, control and rigging sales specialist worked to specifications from Mark Wade, production rigger for the current JLS UK arena tour. His firm, OTT, is supplying all the tour’s rigging equipment and services for Production North, the show’s technical producers.

Equipment ordered for the tour includes 35 of the double-braked motors to BS7906: Part 1- Category A. These will be used to suspend a U-shaped catwalk approximately 120ft long which flies in over the audience for a section of the show, leaving Marvin, Aston, JB and Ortisé, a.k.a. JLS, to serenade fans from mere feet above their heads.

Wade says that the LoadGuard was chosen was due to the fact that it is double braked and has a clutch system outside the drive train. If operators experience any clutch problem, the load is not compromised and safeties are not required. The hoists support the rigging of a large moving set piece.

OTT has a long standing relationship with LTM. The LoadGuards were recommended to Wade by John Jones of LTM. Wade said: “I completely trust John. He’s extremely safety conscious, and apart from that, offered me a very competitive deal, and as always, the service from LTM is excellent.”

With LoadGuard safety information printed on each of the hoists, the equipment can be easily approved by Health and Safety staff at each venue. To keep the boy-band safe, both of the brakes will directly stop the load, and the motor has low voltage control, upper and lower geared electrical limit switches, and emergency limit switches. Also supplied as standard are movable mechanical chain stops for additional safety.

Another feature of the hoists is that they are very quiet, indicating their potential for use in future corporate and theatrical projects. For this project though—the tour is scheduled to run until the end of January 2011—the sound levels of machinery will not be a problem, as thousands of screaming fans will no doubt be working hard to lift the roof with their own deafening SPL and dB levels.

Wade states, “The Guardian encoders [developed by Dave Ward from LTM] fitted inside the motors are much more accurate than encoders I have used before, everyone so far has liked the look and sound of the new motors.”

Further equipment purchased from LTM for the group’s tour is used to open the show, as JLS begin their performance ‘flying’ above the crowd, riding in the chassis of a modified Ford Mustang, suspended from the roof. The car the flies toward the stage, just above the heads of the audience, turn then moves back to the stage where it’s lowered for the lads to disembark.

The flying car spectacle is achieved by using a Gis KB enclosed track system, using two parallel tracks attached to strong trussing which is easy to assemble. The bream trolleys slot into the tracks and are driven by two friction tugs. The car also rotates on a custom-made frame with 4 integral motors attached to a circular section of the same trussing track. Both sections of the track have limit switches.

Wade uses 2 IBEX controllers for the up/down movements of the catwalk and the car. He is quick to indicate his appreciation of the performance of the LoadGuards: “They are going to be very busy; I already have jobs lined up for them next year.”

JLS shot to fame after their successful participation on Simon Cowell’s UK talent contest, The X-Factor, the most popular show on British television. The lads made it to the final but were pipped to the post by winner Alexandra Burke.