For­mer sci­en­tists eye spin-top ti­tle

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By DANIEL WHIT­FIELD

If you asked War­wick Smith or Mur­ray Jansen what makes a good spin­ning top, you’d get a lec­ture about aero­dy­nam­ics and weight dis­tri­bu­tion.

The pair are mem­bers of the Guild of Wood­work­ers Welling­ton and have been cre­at­ing spin­ning tops for years, en­ter­ing com­pe­ti­tions and com­ing out on top with the long­est spins.

But their back­ground stems from some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent.

Be­fore they re­tired, the Porirua res­i­dents worked as sci­en­tists for the Depart­ment of Sci­en­tific and Industrial Re­search.

Jansen and Smith said wood­work had al­ways been a hobby and that mak­ing a top al­ways came back to get­ting the physics right – some­thing that kept the in­ter­est alive.

‘‘We wanted to know what made tops slow down and what af­fected them spin­ning,’’ Smith said.

‘‘There’s def­i­nitely a sense of cu­rios­ity be­hind my in­ter­est,’’ Jansen said.

‘‘Maybe it’s be­cause we’re kids or be­cause there’s a chal­lenge in cre­at­ing the op­ti­mum de­sign.’’

For the past few years, Jansen and Smith have put their heads to­gether to come up with win­ning de­signs as part of the bi­en­nial Wood­turn­ing Plus Ex­hi­bi­tion and Fes­ti­val of Wood­skills.

Jansen and Smith spin only once and their record is 14min 16s.

They did toy around with the idea of it be­ing a world record, but de­cided to let it go be­cause it is just a hobby.

In this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, Smith is car­ry­ing the flame and will at­tempt to bet­ter their record.

Asked what kind of de­sign he had in mind, Smith said ‘‘ watch this space’’.

‘‘There’s a lot of re­search that goes into it,’’ he said.

Jansen ex­plained that it came down to care­ful wood­work­ing on the lathe and mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing was ab­so­lutely cen­tre.

At the last event, guild rep- re­sen­ta­tives from Manawatu proved to very com­pet­i­tive, but left with­out a win.

Smith pre­sumed they would be back on the attack this year and hoped his de­sign would spin well.


Mur­ray Jansen, left, and War­wick Smith are work­ing on a new spin­ning top for a wood­skills com­pe­ti­tion in July.

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