By , April 26, 2013
Colin Coon

Hello again everyone,

Long time no blog, but we have been very busy and very productive this last month as the opening of both Gold Striker and White Lightning quickly approaches.

As many of you have seen already, Gold Striker has been testing!  Below is a POV from the first run of Gold Striker if you haven’t seen it already yet.  According to Chris the ride is very fast and I have a feeling that it will be a great addition to the park.  I have to say it feels pretty awesome to see something you’ve worked on for the last half a year make it around the track like that.  Two functional trains under my belt so far, with two more to go!

Gold Striker POV

Trains for White Lightning have also been nearing completion and as I type this 90% of the first train is ready to go.  It should leave Sunbury sometime next week with the second train following shortly behind.  I feel a bit more attached to these trains since not only will they be nearby in Orlando, but also because of some design work that I helped with.  I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to see it when they show up in Orlando in the next few weeks!

Speaking of next week; next week will be my last week here in Sunbury.  I’m not going to say my goodbyes yet though, not until next time at least.  We still have two trains to push out the door, a bunch of spare parts to get together, and two weekends of Knoebels to take advantage of before I can even think about leaving!  Also if it all works out I hope to be around on-site in Florida for the initial startup of White Lightning

That’s where we sit for now, thanks for reading!

By , March 13, 2013
Colin Coon

I’ve spent roughly the last month and a half dedicated to solely trains.  The last few weeks have been getting all four trains basically up to the same spot in terms of assembly, and now that we are there we are finishing up one train at a time.  Basically all of the chassis can roll on the track as we speak, but putting seats, lapbars, running boards, and everything else in between are being done one train at a time.  This keeps things moving smoothly and we don’t have to keep track of where each of the 36 chassis are in terms of completion.

Goldstriker train one is almost fully completed with only a few minor things to bolt on before shipping it off to Great America.  Train two is also coming along nicely as well and is currently getting the seats and lapbar components installed.  The trains turned out really awesome and the colors Great America chose for them really make them “pop”.

The trains for White Lightning are also in assembly as we speak.  Running boards have been assigned to each train and most of our painted parts have arrived at the shop.  Once train two of Goldstriker is completed we will concentrate on finishing up what remains of the White Lightning trains.

Also structure over at Fun Spot is going up incredibly quickly.  The entire lift has been stood, including the tallest bent which was installed last week.  It looks amazing so far and I’m really excited to have this ride so close to where I live.  Jerry, Kevin, and Eric have worked really hard (as well as the rest of Jerry’s team) and it certainly shows.

Goldstriker also had one of the final shipments go out today and it is very much nearing completion.  All of the mechanical components (brakes, lift motor, chain, etc) are now on their way to the ride.  I’m equally as excited to see this ride open in the coming months; hopefully I get a chance to go out and ride it this year!!

Speaking of which, as of next week I will have survived my first “off season” that I can remember  Parks are beginning to open again, which is something I’ve never really had to look forward to as a Floridian (humble brag)!

As always, stay tuned!

By , February 13, 2013
Colin Coon

Hello again everyone,

To say the last few weeks have been busy is an understatement.  Train assembly is in full swing and the Gold Striker trains are really starting to come together.  After working on them non-stop for the last four weeks they are at the point where they could technically roll around the circuit.  Painted parts for Gold Striker are coming in daily and once all of them arrive we should be able to complete the trains fairly quickly.  So far it’s gone together very smoothly, and as a result I’ve been handed most of the responsibility to put the trains together.  Dan of course assists and provides direction, but he’s also able to get some other major projects done around the shop after showing me what to do.

A few weekends ago I also was able to experience my first East Coaster event.  East Coaster is an annual enthusiast event held by the American Coaster Enthusiasts during the offseason where representatives from parks and manufacturers come and talk about what to expect in the upcoming season.  It was actually an enjoyable day and I met a lot of people who were very enthusiastic about our two current projects.  It was also nice to meet a few of the representatives from other parks and manufacturers that were present (Jeffrey Siebert from Fiesta Texas brought some pretty spectacular cookies for us too).

In the next few weeks we should be getting everything in to finish up the trains for both rides, so stay tuned for that.  All four trains are going to look really cool, so I’m pretty excited to see how they turn out when they are done.  It’s also a pretty awesome feeling to basically assemble something from the ground up, so I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome when the trains are all done

Until next time,

By , January 23, 2013
Colin Coon

Hello again everyone,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but I figured now is as good a time as any to write a new one.

To start, Great Coasters has asked me to extend for another semester.  It was a pretty easy decision to say yes, so I will be interning until summer classes start again in May.  I’m pretty excited to see what this next semester holds in store for me!

As far a shop related things go, we haven’t had a whole lot going on during the month of December.  In fact most  of the month of December was dedicated to inventory.  Luckily with Dan and I working on it we managed to get a solid count of everything and can start focusing on preparing the trains for Fun Spot and Great America.

Since returning to Sunbury, Dan and I have been catching up on lots of things around the shop.  Park orders, inventorying incoming parts, picking up and delivering parts, and preparing materials for repair jobs have more or less taken over our days.  More and more train parts are coming in, so the big push to get everything together is fast approaching.

For the rest of this blog I want to talk about what I have learned so far at Great Coasters and what I hope to learn over the next semester.

The last six months have been incredibly rewarding and I have learned so much more than I ever could have expected.  I’ve had a chance to dip my toes in several areas of the company such as putting together park orders, working in the field at Carowinds and Dollywood, loading trucks for California and Fun Spot, and even answering the phones for a while (no we don’t fix pinball machines, thanks Joe).  I feel as though I have a very solid idea of how the company works as a whole now and while I can’t learn everything in a short six months I have learned that it takes a lot to run a manufacturer such as GCII.  Getting to experience all of these things first hand is more than I ever expected I would get out of this internship.  And to top it all off I am pretty decent at driving a forklift now which I’m a little proud of!

For the next six months I am really looking forward to building the trains for White Lightning and Gold Striker.  It feels pretty good to know that a ride I had a hand in will be operating down the street from me when it opens.  I also feel that I have a bit more responsibility now and can more or less function on my own at work.  Dan obviously still has a lot to teach me, but I’m comfortable with doing most things unassisted  Now all I need to do is become a proficient driver in snow!

Stay tuned for the next installment, which hopefully won’t take as long!

By , November 17, 2012
Colin Coon

Greetings from Sunbury!

Well I guess I’m in Sunbury now, but last week I was down in North AND South Carolina doing some work at Carowinds.  One of the services that GCII provides that most people don’t really talk about is our ability to service and repair rides.  Wooden coasters require repair work every year in the form of structure repair, retracking, or even reprofiling of the ride itself.  Some notable work can be seen on the Coney Island Cyclone, Boulderdash at Lake Compounce, and Thunder Road at Carowinds.

We were once again at Thunder Road to shoot elevations on a few sections of the ride so that the engineering office will have an idea of its profile.  Shooting elevation points on the track allows us to get an idea of what spots need repair, what the track has done over time, and how to construct the bents when it comes time to do so.  It would seem obvious to go to the original blueprints as a reference to reconstruct the ride, but as time progresses so does our ability to provide a better and more structurally sound wooden coaster.  Using modern day techniques and technology as opposed to methods used when the ride opened 36 years ago is far preferable and provides a better overall ride experience.

Over the course of the week we shot nearly 1,000 points on the structure, which gave us a very accurate reading of the ride.  By shooting several points on each ledger (the piece of wood connecting the track to the bents) we can see its height, if it has shifted in any direction, and its angle of attack/banking (for turns, etc.)  While shooting elevations on the ride was very interesting, I spent a lot of time studying how exactly the structure was put together.  Although my goal for this internship was originally to learn as much as I could about trains, I’m suddenly finding myself interested in layouts and construction as well.  Seeing how the track is supported close up was a very interesting experience for me, especially comparing the older sections of the ride versus the newer.  It’s also pretty amazing how much a structure shifts and adjusts over time!

Hopefully next season I’ll have an opportunity to visit Carowinds when the park is actually open and ride Thunder Road!  I’ve never been to the park prior to this trip, and riding Thunder Road after working on it will be pretty rewarding.

For a good example of just how significant reprofiling a ride can be, check out this video of the Coney Island Cyclone.  It is a side-by-side comparison of the old structure vs. the new profile that Great Coasters did for the 2012 season, and the difference is obvious.  You can view it here:

Until next time,

By , November 4, 2012
Colin Coon

Time for another blog!

We’ve had a busy few weeks in the shop as the end of the year approaches.  There has been plenty to do and the workflow has been non-stop.  IAAPA is approaching so we have been doing a lot of prepping for that.  For anyone who doesn’t know, IAAPA (the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) hosts an annual trade show in Orlando, Florida that brings in hundreds of vendors and thousands of visitors from all over the world.  Great Coasters attends every year and we bring down large crates full of our booths, two lead coaches (one from our Sunbury shop and one from Coke), several models, and the supporting equipment to make it all go together smoothly.  As a result we have to go through and make sure that everything is in tip-top shape, find space for new things for the booth, and then pack it all up to send down to Orlando.  This has taken us several weeks to do, but we completed all of it on Friday and are ready to go!  Chris has also been working on a new model that will debut at the show which Kevin and I helped out with.  It’s a pretty cool concept, so look for it at IAAPA!

Another big part of the internship that most people don’t read about is the Elysburg Haunted House.  For three weekends we volunteered at the haunted house and I had a really good time doing it.  We dressed in ghillie suites, covered a path in dozens of pine trees, then blended in and jumped out at people as they walked past.  After working at Universal for a few years I always wanted to work at Halloween Horror Nights, but this was my first opportunity to actually be a scareactor and I loved it!  We had nearly 10,000 people come through the house during the three weekends we were open-which was a pretty good turnout.  We had planned on opening for Halloween night, but Sandy had other plans for us.

Finally we have started receiving chassis for Gold Striker from our manufacturer.  Once everything for IAAPA ships we will start preparing the chassis for final assembly since a majority of our components are complete.

That’s it for this installment, stay tuned.

By , October 15, 2012
Colin Coon

Hey again everyone,

Last week was pretty fun both at the shop and outside of it, which made it fly by pretty quickly.  At the shop Dan and I had the daunting task of preparing some very large orders for three different rides.  It took a long time to gather everything, but at the same time I got to test my parts orientation to see what I have learned so far.  Dan still had to come in and help point out certain things, but for the most part I figured it out.  Slowly but surely I’m memorizing where everything is, and maybe by the end of this internship I’ll know it like the back of my hand!  Maybe…

Along with these orders we are also preparing for the Gold Striker chassis to arrive in the coming weeks.  Dan and I took a trip out to the place where the chassis are born and inspected what had been completed so far.  The reason for this is we would rather have any defects or issues discovered at the plant where they are produced than at the shop.  Every chassis is inspected at each weld to insure that when they arrive at the shop there are no surprised and final assembly can go smoothly.  Lastly, we stocked up on hardware for the trains so that when they do arrive we can assembly them quickly.

Last weekend was also my first Phoenix Phall Phunfest at Knoebels!  It was a really cool event that the park puts on every year during the first weekend of October.  Lots of rides were themed, there were tons of food vendors at the Covered Bridge Festival that occurs at the same time, and I can’t really complain about riding Phoenix about a dozen times during the day!  It was a really fun event, and it might just be my last trip to Knoebels before the season ends.  Good thing I ended it on a 10-minute spin on the bumper cars!

Until next time,

By , October 4, 2012
Colin Coon

Another week, another blog… The last two weeks have been interesting over at Great Coasters. We’ve been getting lots of train pieces ready for Gold Striker on the cosmetic side of things. I spent a few days getting the seat sides and seat bottoms ready for upholstery, and then took them to the upholstery shop where they will be completed. Considering that each car is made up of half a dozen upholstered pieces this took some time to get all prepped.

We’ve also been working on getting the IAAPA booth ready for this year, as well as a few items going to EAS. I’d say a good half of our shop is filled with stuff from the IAAPA booth right now as we go through and inventory everything. This years booth will be pretty cool looking, so check it out in November if you are attending!

There have also been a few big orders from three different rides that we are compiling parts for. Since it is the off season a lot of track work is going on at several rides across the country, and we even supply hardware for rides that GCI did not construct. What that means is that we have been really busy trying to stay on top of everything! Hopefully these orders will be done in the next week or two so we can clean up the shop a little bit.

Lastly I’ve been running around and doing as many parks and Halloween events in the area as possible. I’m not used to having an off season, nor am I used to the independent Halloween events going on here in Pennsylvania. It’s actually really cool to see how detailed some of the haunts are, and it feels a lot different than the ones I’m used to. Needless to say, I’m a fan.

Until next time,

By , September 16, 2012
Colin Coon

It’s blog time again!

This week involved a lot of preparation for the Fun Spot and California’s Great America trains.  There are literally thousands of parts and pieces that make up each individual train, and hundreds per car.  Anything that is directly bolted to the chassis of each train is usually made up of an assembly.  For example, each guide wheel weldment has to be constructed from several different parts and once it’s a completed assembly it can be bolted to the chassis.  My week consisted mostly of putting these assemblies together so that when the chassis show up we can attach everything on quickly.

Another thing that we started working on durning the evenings this week was a Coaster Dynamix.  I’ve always wanted one of these things, but I’ve never really gotten a chance to play around with one.  So far I can see why these models are not for everyone, they are difficult to get just right!  However when it’s done it should be a really cool model.  I’ve never really been interested in coming up with layouts, but after messing around with this for a few nights I’m slowly seeing why laying out a coaster is fun.  Plus, it’s nice having it right in front of you to tweak and perfect to your liking (Chris is also a perfectionist so that helps).

Thanks for reading,

By , September 6, 2012
Colin Coon

Hello again everybody,

Last week was rather exciting to say the least and was a real eye opener for me in many different ways.  More on that in a bit, but if you don’t already know Kevin the other intern has arrived in Sunbury and has already completed his first week of work.  Go check out his blog as while I will be talking mostly about train assembly Kevin will be talking a lot about the structural components going on with Fun Spot and Great America.

Speaking of Great America, on the 29th Gold Striker was officially announced!  We were all pretty excited about that, and the train components should be arriving in Sunbury in the near future.  So along with Fun Spot I will also be working on the Great America trains as well.

But the bulk of our work was done at Dollywood this past week.  On Monday Dan and I drove down from Sunbury to Pigeon Forge, which took about 10 hours total including a stop for lunch and gas.  Of course, to relax a bit we spent some time on the Go Carts located on the strip.  And also the ever-amazing Jurassic Jungle Boat ride, which most definitely was the highlight of my time spent in Pigeon Forge.  If you’ve never been on it, I highly suggest doing it!

Anyway, on Tuesday and Thursday we were on site at Thunderhead doing some small projects both on the trains and on the structure itself.  Dan and I finished our little project up in a little over a day, so for about 10 hours on Thursday we helped the other three guys do some structural work.  Until that day I completely underestimated what it takes to build a wooden roller coaster.  I mean we only replaced a few dozen boards or so in the whole ride, but the manual labor required to do so was completely insane.  I give these guys a lot of credit for doing what they do to keep a wooden coaster up and running (while also looking good too).

It was a really cool experience to get some work in the field with one of our rides.  It really wasn’t anything like what I was expecting, but it was probably one of the best learning experiences that I’ve ever had in this industry.  It takes a lot to keep a ride looking and functioning like new, and I now have a better grasp on exactly how much work is involved.

Until next time..

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