Large Scale Central

Lift mechanism for a model hot air balloon


I just purchased a model hot air balloon and would like to display it on my garden railroad layout. I’d like to rig it so it can go up and down to simulate it flying. I appreciate any ideas you may have to share


Hi Richard, haven’t seen you for a while, how goes things?

Can you post a link or photo for the balloon model?

Do you have any overhanging structures to secure a pulley to? Or, with adequate slack, a tree limb? If so, that might suggest certain higher-altitude approaches.


What about using one of the LGB Cableway motors, or similar?

Obviously you need something overhead to attach a small ring. Use monofilament fishing line, it will be less visible, but not entirely. Wind has to be factored in to prevent sway.

Hi Cliff,

Yes, it has been awhile. Had a very busy school year as a teacher along with taking on some worship responsibilities at our church. Slowly getting back into a groove with my garden railroad after attending the NGRC in the bay area earlier this month.

Here is a picture of the balloon…[0]=AZUv4GpMF1_-tucqjrwBgrxbBHoDUAo1Gr4adVGUPT3WtxTeQvstfYO6FaVS2XqPa_JtHhhwp5HZu7JTU_0uAHDv-Oz9GjeW76Srz2Lau2ASGLVvSi7F0BYsOiEp3_H79TY&tn=EH-R

(added photo…)

Looks neat!

Richard, nice balloon!

I agree with John about the overhead attachment and fishing line. But I’ll also suggest a “closed loop” of line, with a pulley overhead and down on the ground. You’d attach one end near the top of the balloon and the other end near the bottom. Or just run the line through the balloon (but attach it at top and bottom)

That way you have a controlled rise between two fixed pulleys.

Then the motor. Bob mentioned the LGB cable motor, which might work out great. Here’s one on Ebay:

I think it’s meant for continuous operation though. Which ever motor and sheave you use, you’ll need a way to tell the motor to reverse (and maybe pause?) when the balloon reaches its ends of travel.

Here’s a video which shows the schematic of how the thing works. Magnets on the balloon, reed switches, and relays tell the motor to reverse.

(edit) I just saw that Cabin Fever is auctioning a used Rigiduo system,

Yes, it’s indoors, and you’d need to consider the “closed loop” method I mentioned for an outdoor application. But the control method would be the same.

If you want to add pause points, you could interject timer relays. Todd Brody is great with relays. Or you might go all programmable, and I’d recommend Dave Bodnar for that.

Best regards,

Wow!! Awesome suggestions…thanks a bunch. And for the video too…really nicely done.