Weights and Measures (with some industry advice)

By , December 4, 2017
Mike Troise

Last time I wrote, I left off with shop inventory being conducted. That was quite the process! For the better part of a week we were counting every part in the shop and putting things in proper places on the shelves. It was definitely something that needed to be done but I am certainly glad it is over. Since then, we have gotten the next set of chassis off the shelves and onto the work benches to begin our next two trains. Dan is off at the job site with our last set of trains so Robert and I have been working with the other mechanic Todd to begin work on these new trains. This has included the bolting of the two chassis halves together, installation of ARB and chain dogs, and more.


What is interesting with this next set of trains is that some of the design changes the park requested have led us to reconsider some of our component weights. This is leading to a new task for Robert and I. While we assemble these current trains, each component added to the train during assembly is to be weighed. We will be writing subassembly lists and tracking the weights of everything, creating a database that can be referenced in the future. While not the most glamorous task, it is pretty neat starting something that will hopefully be useful to the company for years to come.


On the fun side of things, about two weeks ago, Robert and I had the chance to attend the IAAPA Trade Show in Orlando, Florida. The IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attraction) Show is hands down the largest event for the amusement industry. Companies from every component of this industry attend, from roller coaster manufacturers to food vendors and more. While my original intent for this blog was to cover what I have learned about networking at events such as this and how to “make it” into this industry, Robert actually did a terrific job covering this in his most recent blog and I urge students interested in this industry to check it out (here is the link to his blog: http://greatcoastersinterns.com/?author=28). Instead I just wanted to quickly reflect a bit on what I noticed in what was now my second trip to IAAPA, which may lead to a tip or two of my own as well.


Last year was extremely nerve-racking at IAAPA. I knew just about nobody in the industry, didn’t have industry experience, and was trying to get my foot in the door with as many companies as possibly and make as many connections as I could. I felt like a small fish in a real big ocean. But at that IAAPA so many connections were made and the few industry friendships I had grew stronger. Now a year later, I was able to strengthen my connections, seeing both students and industry professionals who I may have worked with (at Universal Creative and GCI) as well as those who I met at previous events. One of the most unique experiences was manning the GCI booth at times when the rest of the staff had meetings. The roles so quickly have changed. A year ago, I was walking up to booths talking with engineers and other company employees, and then this year I was talking to students who were asking ME for advice on getting their foot in the door. It was so strange but so cool at the same time.


I will conclude again by saying that Robert’s advice certainly holds true. In this industry hard work never goes unnoticed. Be persistent. Email companies, network and industry events (like the IAAPA Trade Show and ASTM F24 conventions), and take advantage of EVERY opportunity presented to you. There are a lot of people in this industry who are here for students, and for any students reading this, if I make it there some day, I hope to do the same. For now, if anyone wishes to contact me with questions, feel free to reach out (mjt4432@rit.edu). I also want to give a quick plug to Irvine Ondrey Engineering. They are a wonderful company who actually does the control systems for some of GCI’s United States rides. Anne and Brian are some of the nicest people you will ever meet in this industry, and if you EVER need advice, reach out to them (they are very responsive to facebook messages and email).


This blog certainly went on for longer than expected so that is all for now. Sad to say I only have two weeks lefts at GCI and then it is back to school.



Crunch Time!

By , November 7, 2017
Mike Troise

It has been a few weeks but I have finally gotten a chance to sit down and write out another blog. It has been an all hands on deck affair in the shop for the last week or two as we finished up work on the three trains for our latest project. As of last week, we have officially shipped all three trains! It has been quite the experience getting all of these done and out the door by the end of October. It was really cool to watch this game of tetris played out on a large scale as we used a fork lift to load each chassis into the shipping container. While there were some issues along the way, it all worked out in the end.


It was never a dull moment in the shop during this time. I spent time gluing down floorboards, attaching custom plugs to the ends of wires for use on the lap bar monitoring systems (see Robert’s 10/27 blog for more on all of the systems installed on these trains), installing seat bottoms into the chassis, drilling out holes in the wood running boards, and more. One of my biggest tasks recently was gathering up hardware for Dan to use when he is sent on site to finish assembling the trains. While we certainly hope he doesn’t encounter any issues, he likes to have spares of every bolt, washer, nut, metal component, wheel, and more in case they are needed. I have gathered and packaged an entire shipping pallet of hardware. It was quite the tedious task, but definitely an important one. While it was a ton of work gathering hardware for this project, preparation for the next has already begun! We have an order for two trains from another park, and I have already begun to gather components for these trains. No rest for sure around here. We have also been conducting an inventory of the entire shop, so we can stay on top of what needs to be ordered for current projects as well as things down the road.


On the “fun” side of things, a little over a week ago a few members of the RIT Theme Park Enthusiasts club were able to come down to Sunbury for a tour of our shop. Members got the opportunity to ask Dan the train mechanic and our engineer Jase lots of questions about our trains and about how we build attractions. I included a nice group photo below. Another fun thing that was going on during the month of October was the Elysburg Haunted House which Dan volunteers heavily at, creating two scare zones for this year. While I will admit I am far too scared to go through a haunted house, Dan was nice enough to lead Robert and I through it before they opened for the evening one night so we could check out the scares he had created as well as the rest of the haunted house. Even during the day, I jumped a few times. The house was very impressive and I now see why they often get lines over two hours long!




Thanks for reading! Check back soon for the latest from Sunbury!





Great Coasters, Great Internships

By , October 12, 2017
Mike Troise


Hi! My name is Mike and I am one of the two fall interns at GCII. With the closing of the Florence Kentucky office, I am stationed out here at the main facility in Sunbury, PA. I have been with GCI for about 4 weeks, and have already gotten quite involved and learned a lot. But first, let me more formally introduce myself.

I am a mechanical engineering student at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY and will graduate with BS and ME degrees in December of 2018. While I actually grew up terrified of amusement rides, around the age of 10 or 11, I decided to get over my fear by riding some larger rides, and what do you know, I was hooked instantly!! My love of amusement parks, and specifically roller coasters, grew rapidly and from that moment on I wanted to design these impressive engineering marvels. I thought I was the only one who shared this crazy passion, but I met many others in college, and became a founding member of the RIT Theme Park Enthusiasts. Through this club, I was able to get my start in the industry with Universal Creative through attending design competitions as well as industry events such as ASTM F24 conferences and the IAAPA Expo in Orlando. My first contact with GCI was early on in college when I sent them a resume for an internship. While I was not given an offer, a year or two later I was invited to their FREDx convention where I had the chance to interview. Now here I am today, getting to partake in the internship of my dreams.

While I have only been at GCI for a few weeks I have already learned a lot about their products and what it takes to make these rides come to life. My main tasks thus far have been split between organizing inventory, putting together replacement part shipments, and helping assemble millennium flyer trains for a future project. This has included assembly of the foam seat bottoms and backs, lap bar locking mechanisms, and more. I have seen the importance of organization in a shop, and knowing where your inventory is located can drastically cut down on time to get shipments out the door and components made.

One of the most fun yet challenging aspects of an engineer’s job, is to drastically change a product you already have to meet the needs of a new customer. I have gotten to watch this process during the last few weeks at GCI. While the millennium flyers are perfectly safe trains that meet all safety standards, sometimes parks want additional systems that check lap bar monitoring, others may want a way to quiet the anti-rollback devices, and still others will want all of the above and potentially more. This poses a ton of unique challenges when your chassis is only so big. The engineers and mechanics in our shop have been hard at work tweaking designs to get the proper functionality in our limited space. Time is so much of the essence with projects such as this that myself and the other intern you will hear from (Robert) have taken multiple road trips in company vehicles to pick up necessary parts to complete the project.

Overall this set of trains is coming along well and it has been neat to watch them go from bare chassis weldments to full cars with seats, lap bars and more. It has been a wild ride thus far but I know I still have so much more to learn. Thank you for reading and please check back again soon to get the latest on what is happening at the GCI headquarters in Sunbury!


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