As I’m into ancient things there’s something really cool about spinning tops. Kids and adults have played with and been fascinated with spinning tops for many centuries.
This all started when about a week ago I finally decided to walk into this one toy store which I would frequently pass. They have these inexpensive plastic tops which are high quality. One thing that makes me upset are poorly built tops. I think a poorly made toy is worse than no toy.
If you look in the spinning tops category on eBay you will see ample examples of what I mean: “Tops” that are not good. I put the word in quotes because many are little more than just odd-shaped items that happen to spin but are not even amusing. The shapes are totally wrong in terms of the distribution of mass. The materials are too light and do not allow them to have sufficient momentum. If you spin them maybe they spin for a few revolutions before they fall over. I can see how a kid would be turned off by poorly made toys like these.
Then you also see some really good ones there that are designed well. Some even cost hundreds of dollars. My plastic one, which is not listed on eBay, cost under $2 and appears to adhere to similar design principles as much nicer spinning tops.
Here apparently is the world-record-longest-spinning top:
So he’s using lead as the metal which makes sense for multiple reasons. One, it’s really cheap. Look on eBay for lead ingots and you’ll see. Second, lead is malleable and therefore could be shaped and adjusted to perfect the balance. Also it wouldn’t be as hard to drill a hole through the center of an ingot. Third – this is the negative point – lead is toxic but of course you’re not going to eat it and you would be careful handling it. Lead is still used a lot for fishing as the material of choice for anchors.
I actually think it would be a cool project to try to make a spinning top using lead or other type of metal as a flywheel.
Here’s another really cool video from a maker of tops:
Here is a source of excellent $1.99 tops. Yes only $1.99 and they spin really long because they have a well-designed spindle which enables them to be spun at a high rpm and also well-designed distribution of mass. Ok you could spend $35 or more to have one that will spin longer, but for only $1.99 you can have 85% of the fun for only 5% of the cost!