How the Bre-team build their gondola


The most important items are a group of dedicated and experienced builders (experience you will get throughout the years!!), a building place and a good idea. The rest of the items (tools, materials etc) can be bought or lent.

The idea is each year a problem and the Bre-team always needs some evenings at the bar of their sponsor Domme Aanleg for some "brain storm" sessions before they have a good idea. If you have the idea and a good drawing you can start building the gondola.

Domme Aanleg sponsor of Bre-team

Bre-team does not make a building schedule anymore,  we starts around Easter and tries to get the job done before half of August. Most importent is that the gondola is finished before the last Friday of August.

Hereunder you find how Bre-team built they gondola from 1986 untill 2005.

Bre-team material list: 10 plates of chip board from 1,25 meter by 2,5 meter, wooden slat (approx. 50 meters), 5000 bicycle lamps (mostly reused from last year), red and blue/black wire about 150-200 meters each, two types of metal wire, some connection materials (screws, bolt, nuts etc), wooden beams for support and for the frame of their raft, 14 blocks of tempex and some supporting goods (food, drinks, beer, sigars etc).

First you have to make a frame, which connects 2 and a half plates of chipboard together. Bre-team always uses 4 plates of 3,625 meter wide by 2,5 meter high (2,5 plates of chipboard) . This means four big plates, together their gondola is 6,25 meters wide and 5 meters high.

Marco Geurink busy sawing through a chipboard

Connection the chipboards

After the 4 plates are ready, which is normally done on the first building day or evening day of the new season. A Friday evening in April the Bre-team will connect temporarily all 4 plates together, put them in a upright position and then wait until it gets dark.

Drawing the subject on the chipboards

Their drawing is always put on a transpararency sheet and with an overhead projector they display their drawing on the plate and the members draw with markers the drawing on the big plate. After this they will take the 4 pieces of plates apart and start marking the position where the holes should be drilled after this they will start drilling the holes in the plates. After drilling holes they paint the plates black and put bicycle lights in the holes.

A chipboard with bicycle lights

At the front side (black side of the chipboard) they wind a metal wire around the bicycle lights and at the backside they solder the lights.

Soldering the bicycle lights

The lights are separated in groups of 50 lights. At the front side of each group, they connect to the plus 6 Volt wire a red one, and at the backside they connect to the minus 6 Volt the blue or black wire. The red and blue/ black wire are connected to the terminal clamps from the transformer.

Since 1996 Bre-team has transformers for the 6 Volt power supply, for many years (1986 untill 1996) they used car batteries for the power supply. Each group of 50 lights had it's own battery, this battery needs to be replaced and recharged after every evening (in total there are 4 evenings, divided over 2 weekends, on which the gondolas are shown to the public). The transformers convert the 230 Volt power to 6 Volt power. The transformers are powered by a generator, which is placed in a sound isolated box, to prevent noise.

The raft

On the Friday evening around 18.00 two weeks before the first evening of the parade they build the raft, which is made from empty oil barrels, wooden beams, plates and held together with straps and metal chains. On the next day on Saturday morning around 8.00 they transport their gondola from their building site to the canal. There the Bre-team connect all 4 plates together and place them with a lot of man power on their raft. They place the plates in their final position with some supports. Half way about 2,5 meters high they will make some scaffolding, so that they are able to work on the 5 plates which are on top of the 5 plates at the bottom. After this they will put plastic at the back of the gondola to protect the equipment and the members from the rain. Of course everybody who is involved with the Gondelvaart hopes that it does not rain the last week(end) of August and the first week(end) of September.

The electrical connection and the transformer

After this they make all electrical connections needed, install some lighting, the switchpanel with the transformers and finalise the last details of the gondola.

The rotating drum

One of the importent items of the electrical connections are the relays which are switched by a rotating drum on which stripes are glued which activates the switches. These switch will actived one relay or more relais, on one relais there are 4 groups of 50 lamps. The relays are powered by a 24 Volt power supply. This rotating drum creates the cartoon, because it switches the different figures in a cycle. From the switch on the activated by a strip on the rotating drum a orange wire supplied the relay or relays of a figure with 24 Volt DC power, the grey wire is the minus 24 Volt DC.

Thursday before the first weekend of the parade, the Bre-team test the gondola and put it on display especially for the photographers of the newspapers.

And the last Friday of August it is ShowTime, the first time the public will see the effort of months of work.

The result of months of hard work

After the 2 weekends on monday after the last gondelvaart weekend, Bre-team starts dismanteling their gondola. In the next weekend all gondola's and rafts are gone and back in the storage. In the buidling site Bre-team now starts disconnection the cables & wires and removing the lights from the plates. The lights will be reused next year.


Since 2006 Bre-team works with a new light system called cliplights and this changes the way we built a gondola. The first steps are still the same but instead of soldering the lights and winding a metal wire around the bicycle lights the cliplights needs to be installed in the drilled hole and needs to be connected by a red and black wire to a transformer which is 24 VAC.


On the page Photo gallery the Bre-team you can find behind the scenes pictures of the Bre-team. This set of pictures shows also all the steps to complete a gondola.

On the page History of Bre-team you can find pictures of the gondolas of the Bre-team.


Return to the Bre-team Page