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How it's done - Assembling a Maltese Raddiena

I was fortunate enough to spend time with Toni Busuttil and his son Clint during their visit to Montréal to complete building a Raddiena - which is a Maltese speciality. This photo story shows how the Raddiena fits together.

The components

Central to Irdieden are the mechanical components which allow the complex patterns to unfold through the interaction of hand made gears. To ensure everything works correctly, a good quality hub is required.

hub wheel
First the hub ... onto which is placed a large toothed wheel ...
spoke four spoke
... into which spokes with gears mesh ... Here with four spokes ...
eight spoke four spoke
... and here with eight spokes. A pivotting pole ... will make raising the wheel easy

Completing Assembly

The completed Raddiena weighed in at 150kg and all the drivers and lances needed to be matched together, with multiple ignition points for reliability. This was done with the wheel lying down for ease of access.

firing firing2
Connecting up the quick matches ... closer view

Raising the Raddiena

After all the quick and sticky matches were in place, the Raddiena required the efforts of a number of people to raise it into place. The pivoting pole whose design was suggested by Tom Dimock at the PGI convention in 2002 proved its worth here.

firing firing2
Raising into position Wilson Mao, Toni and Clint Busuttil

Final Notes

With the whole Raddiena weighing in at around 150Kg (330lbs) the low-friction hub is very important as are the drivers. Special techniques are used to give a consistent push and so the drivers, in two groups of six and one group of seven, are placed on each spoke which gives a total of 168. Each of the eight sub-wheels has a circuit of red and a circuit of green each consisting of 12 lances. There are a further 8 outer segments with 15 blue lances each - this makes a total of 312 lances. Finally, thanks to Toni and Clint Busuttil for taking time out of their busy schedule to allow me to take photographs, thanks also to Patrice Guy and Wilson Mao of PyroMagic productions and Hop Kee respectively, and also all the pyrotechnic crew at La Ronde.

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