That’s all for now

By , January 10, 2011
Jeff Bachiochi

So this is my farewell post from the Great Coasters Intern site. I actually finished my internship a few weeks ago, but I decided to use the holiday break to collect my thoughts for one final good bye. I’m writing this post from my apartment in Boston. Tomorrow I start class for the spring semester here at Northeastern, but before another chapter begins, I need to close the door on one of the most unique 6 months of my life.

Summer seems like yesterday. I remember my first week in Sunbury being very intimidating. Being in the shop was like being in another country, and not knowing the slightest thing about ratchets was the least of my concerns. Millennium Flyers are complicated machines, and in July of 2010 I would have struggled to put together a mouse trap. I’m a civil engineering major with 10 months of cubical experience. I can’t change my own oil. Trust me when I say that I never thought I could handle this job.

But I learned. I realized that no matter how unequipped I was to build trains, there really wasn’t much I could do about it besides pay close attention to everything the experienced guys did. Everyone has to start at the bottom, and that’s what I did. After a few months, I start to pick up on most of the terminology and technique. By December I was speaking fluent ‘flyer’. I can’t remember what day it was exactly, but at some point it finally hit me that I actually knew what I was doing. And what a great feeling it was.

Today I look back at my internship as a pretty phenomenal experience. Millennium Flyer trains are the premier rolling stock of this industry, and I got to spend 6 months putting them together and learning how they work! If that was all I got out of this, I would have been perfectly satisfied. But it wasn’t. Like anything great in life, it was even better than I expected. Along the way, I made some great friends; the kind of friends you tell stories about, share inside jokes with, and travel 7 hours to visit. And I certainly will.

For those of you who want to be a GCII intern, my best advice to you is 1) go to IAAPA, and most importantly 2) to NEVER stop trying. I promise you it is well worth the effort.

Thanks for reading my blog everyone. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. My time here is done, but I leave you with a good friend of mine, our newest intern Adam!

Take care,

Jeff “the Skintern” Bachiochi


Groundhog Week

By , December 1, 2010
Jeff Bachiochi

If you’re confused, this blog title is a reference to the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. In the movie, Bill Murry is a weatherman who gets trapped repeating one day (groundhog day) over and over again. He wakes up every morning on February 2nd in Punxsutawney, PA, and goes to sleep every night knowing well that there is no tomorrow. Its an awesome film and I recommend it to anyone who likes clever movies.

It’s an odd reference for a blog post, but its purpose came from a conversation Adam and I had in the shop the week after IAAPA. We were reminiscing about the fun we had during this amazing week in Orlando, and we got to talking about which day was our favorite. Which day was the one day we could relive over and over; Our groundhog day. And to be honest I had a hard time picking a favorite day. The week of IAAPA was so fun and eventful, I had to bend the rules and just say that the entire week was my groundhog week. If was stuck in a single week for the rest of my life, reliving it over and over, I’d pick November 14-20, 2010! It was that cool.

As an ambassador, I got the opportunity to work in the trade show. The only way I can think of how to summarize what we did is that we were the operations team of the trade show. Our group of no more than 20 was responsible for making sure all education sessions, show floor tours, award shows, off-site events, and all other events ran as smoothly as possible. We’d get up for the 6:30 a.m. shuttle every morning and work at the convention center all day. It was long, exhausting day, but at night, the whole team would hit the town and celebrate. And I mean every night! This group was relentless and I loved every minute of it. We’d stay out ’til at least 1:00 am, sleep a few hours, drag ourselves out of bed at 6, hit the coffee, and get right back to work…..everyday! It was an absolute blast.

What amazed me most was how fast everything happened. How fast a 14 hour day could go. How fast I’d fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow. How fast these people, whom I never met in my life, suddenly felt like old friends to me. And sadly, how fast it was all over.

The week of IAAPA was so eventful. Its been a while now since I left Orlando, and I’m still digesting some of the memories, and probably will until Christmas. I can’t pick a favorite day, because frankly it all felt like one cumulative experience, a 168 hour continuous day….with naps in between. I’ll never forget it. And if any of you ambassadors are reading this, I’ll never forget you either. (That wasn’t a conditional statement, I’ll remember you whether you read this or not). Thanks for all the memories guys. I hope we get to do it again next year!


Intern Weekend!

By , November 10, 2010
Jeff Bachiochi

So this past weekend was the 2nd annual Intern Weekend, and boy did we have a great group of candidates. Seriously, I’m real glad I already got the job because if I had to interview against some of the kids that came in this weekend, I would not be on here talking about it.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, this weekend Chris invited a bunch of new candidates to drive/fly to Sunbury to apply for the position as next years train intern. We did the same thing last year with me, Eamon, and a few others. Except this year, we had almost 20 candidates, and they came from all over! Boston, Colorado, North Carolina, Delaware, Nebraska, Ohio, New York…the list goes on. The whole weekend was a lot of fun.

As for us in the shop, we are in complete disarray! Okay not exactly. But because the shop is expanding, awe’ve recently had to evacuate the normal shop area and relocate ALL our materials to a brand new concrete slab on the other side of the new building. As of today, the original shop is covered with backfill (pictures coming soon). And yet amongst all this chaos, we’ve actually stayed surprisingly very productive. The concrete team is scheduled to pour the final slab at the end of this week, so hopefully by late next week we can finally move everything to its new home. I’m looking forward to it. This new shop is going to be beautiful.

Friday I fly down to Orlando, so hopefully I’ll post an update from there!

Jeff


5 Wild Weekends

By , November 2, 2010
Jeff Bachiochi

So it seems Halloween season has come and gone. For most parks this means the end of the year, especially where I’m from. I always find it hard to make plans on the weekends of October, because part of me always wants to hit a bunch of parks, while the other side of me wants to celebrate Halloween. And if I’m lucky, I get to do both.

This year, I was able to do a little of everything! Weekend 1 of October took place at Six Flags New England and the Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce (which I talked briefly about in my last post). On Weekend 2, I went to the Phoenix Phall Phunfest at Knoebels on Saturday, and then KennyKon at Kennywood on Sunday. Both events were fantastic, but by Monday morning, after driving back to Sunbury at 4 in the morning, I was pretty burnt out! Weekend 3 consisted of a brief visit to Hersheypark, followed by the world renowned Shocktoberfest down near Reading, PA, which was well done and really quite scary.

Weekend 4 was one of my favorites of the year because I got to work at the Elysburg Haunted House! Every year, the Great Coasters guys volunteer and dress up in ghillie suits to scare brave passersby as they walk through our dim-lit “forest”. Although the event is a haunted house, there is a good portion of it outdoors, including our area where we covered a small pathway with pine trees and fog. The best part is that with proper surroundings, we can be practically invisible….well…at least until we decide to scare you! =O ….It was an absolute blast, and I wish I could do it every year.

And as for Weekend 5, I was finally able to drive back to Boston to visit my friends at school to celebrate one of my favorite holidays of the year. It was the perfect way to cap of my favorite month. Although I’m sad that October is over, there is still a lot to look forward to. IAAPA is just around the corner, and this year I’m lucky enough to be an ambassador! Right after that its Thanksgiving, then a few weeks in December, and before I know it, my time here at Great Coasters will be done…

But I’m trying not to think about that. What I should tell you is that sometime during the haze of this amazingly fast month, Chinese inspectors from CSEI came and cleared our trains for take off. The 24 Millennium Flyer cars have finally been packed up and are currently on their way to China! Oh and as for our massive office expansion goes, well we suddenly have a roof and walls! But don’t worry I’ll be uploading pictures soon.

Until next time,

-Jeff


Ah!-ctober

By , October 7, 2010
Jeff Bachiochi

Ah, what a relief. It’s finally October, one of my favorite months of the year. Fall is finally here in full swing. The weather is cooling off. And parks are finally bringing out all the Halloween decorations. That’s right, its Halloween season and I couldn’t be more excited. To me, a park always looks better during their Halloween events.

This past weekend, Adam and I went up to New England to visit my home parks of Six Flags New England and Lake Compounce to ride the world famous Bizarro and Boulder Dash. And they are certainly world class. Bizarro (formally Superman: Ride of Steel) has been a long time favorite of mine, and Boulder Dash, since we reprofiled and rehabilitated it in 2008, has been running like the best wood coaster on the planet! If you haven’t been up to Lake Compounce in the last few years, I suggest you go there soon, because Boulder Dash is like no other.

And speaking of unique terrain coasters…there have been some excellent photos posted on facebook recently of our new coaster in China! Go and take a look at those because they are honestly quite amazing. I’m probably not alone when I say this, but I think this ride is going to be something really special. The thought of adding another 1800 feet to one of our average sized rides is simply mind blowing. Get excited everyone.

As for me, I’ve been pretty busy lately. There is always something to do in or out of the shop, so time has been moving very fast. In fact, I hardly realized it, but I’ve already been here for 14 weeks! I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun. And fun might just be an understatement :)

And speaking of fun, the Phoenix Phall Phunfest is happening at Knoebels this Saturday and I am going! I’ve never been to this event before, so like usual, I’m really excited. But I think I’ll save the details for my next entry, along with a construction update on our tremendous office expansion.

So until next time..

Jeff :)


Under Construction Part I

By , September 16, 2010
Jeff Bachiochi

And without further adieu, its time for a big construction update. In a previous entry, I mentioned they were just starting to break ground on our massive expansion project. If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, Great Coasters is putting on a significant addition to our office here in Sunbury, PA. The additions will just about triple the size of our shop (which means tons of more room to build trains), along with a bunch of office and storage space. From just looking at the outline, it looks like our building is basically going to double in size! Its pretty exciting.

In the last few weeks, the construction team has been moving FAST! The first couple days were used for surveying and digging. Then they started pouring concrete in the first week. It wasn’t much more than a week later when blocks were laid and the foundation was backfilled and complete. This week was all about steel. Big beams were brought in and laid across the footprint of the building. Smaller transverse beams were then connected to create the framing plan of the roof. And just yesterday, they finally erected the frame. There are a bunch of photos posted showing the progress of how this all went down. Looking back, it’s wild to think about how fast it all happened. But there is still much more to be done. If any of this previous paragraph seemed like a bunch of blah blah blah to you, I encourage you to take a look at the photos we’ve posted. It’s all cool stuff.

I’ll be sure to keep everyone up to date on the progress of expansion.

To be continued…

(^I think I should finish all my blogs like this. At least until I do my farewell blog)


…And we’re back

By , September 16, 2010
Jeff Bachiochi

Wow it has been a while since I last posted on here! I guess I have a lot of catching up to do. Around the shop, things have been pretty unpredictable. Since construction has been going on, we’ve been cramped up indoors, unable to use hardly any space outside. And the result has been a crowded shop full of miscellaneous roller coaster ‘toys’. Since it’s so crowded, we’ve kept ourselves busy with all kinds of prep work, mostly projects that can be done on a small area of the bench (because that’s all we have for room some days!)

Outside the office, I’ve had a chance to do some really fun things. A couple weeks ago, a few of us went down to Dorney Park for the day. I had never been there before, which is crazy considering it has always been the closest Cedar Fair park to me no matter where I’ve lived. And yet I’ve been to Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Canada’s Wonderland, Cedar Point, Carowinds, and even Knott’s Berry Farm! Regardless, I had a really good time discovering a new park. Though much smaller than most of its Cedar Fair cousins, Dorney certainly has a nice collection of rides. I personally thought Hydra, the steel floorless coaster, was the most surprisingly fun ride. It doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention in the enthusiast world, but it certainly packs an intense and unique punch.

Last weekend turned out to be one of my favorites of the year. I was lucky enough to attend my first ever Golden Ticket Awards at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. And what an event it was. At 7:45 on Saturday morning, we were taken on a tour of the park which included backstage looks into the maintenance bays of Griffon, Loch Ness, and Alpengeist, as well as a elevator ride to the top of Griffon! And what a view it was. Definitely an experience I won’t forget. We got to spend the rest of the day in the park. And though I’ve been there before, Busch is an awesome park to spend a day in. Throughout the day, we ran into a bunch of industry leaders who all came for the awards show that night, which was really cool for a nerd like me.

The Golden Ticket Award ceremony took place in the park that night. And all I can say is, it was a ton of fun. Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure ran the show taking 5 golden tickets including best new ride for their new Harry Potter dark ride. Busch Gardens organized a few musical performances which were excellent, while Chris and Jeff from GCII put on a show of their own with a mock-video of “Undercover Boss” taking place at the GCII engineering office. It was a fun night of eating, drinking, laughing, and socializing with some of the biggest and best of the amusement industry. I was amazed by how much everyone made me feel apart of it all. As an intern, I know my time in this industry may only be temporary. But for a moment that night, I was in. All my hopes and dreams of making it in this industry were suddenly real. I certainly didn’t take THAT moment for granted. In a year from now, I could be a nobody in this business. But I’ll always have those memories of my weekend at Busch.

This weekend we’re going out to Kennywood. It’ll be my first time there so you can imagine I’m very excited. Kennywood has been on my hot list for years.

Until next time,

Jeff


American Coaster

By , August 25, 2010
Jeff Bachiochi

Here at the office in Sunbury, we like to watch Discovery Channel’s American Chopper at lunch. If you’re not familiar, its a “reality” show about Orange County Choppers and all the custom bikes they build. To be honest the dialog is pretty contrived, but the thing I like about the show is watching them build bikes from scratch. We like to joke that Great Coasters should have a similar reality show. We can’t create trains as fast as OCC creates bikes, but we could certainly bring a lot of drama to the show. The office here is filled with characters, and sometimes things get stressful and it gets really interesting ;).   It would definitely be entertaining enough for Discovery Channel. I think people would like watching what we do. Unfortunately I don’t know how much we can even show since a lot of our techniques are a secret so…..

To switch gears, our china trains are about 99% done. With the exception of the 5 chassis’ that need to be inspected, all the cars are set to be completed this week. Over a dozen of the cars are done while others are only missing a couple bolts and nuts. Its really cool for me to see what is basically a finished product. When I first started, these cars were nothing but chassis, and now they’re all grown up! I’ve attached some pictures of the shop to show how crowded its has become. But on the bright side, we are also breaking ground this week on our new building expansion. So within a few weeks we should have a much bigger shop to operate in. Maybe if we have more space, Discovery Channel will want to do our show..stay tuned!

Jeff :)


After 5 o’clock

By , August 9, 2010
Jeff Bachiochi

Like most 40 hour jobs, GCI interns work the standard 8 hour day. Get to work at 8. A nice 1 hour lunch at noon. And by 5, my time is my own. And when you are 5 hours from home and 7 hours from your friends at school, killing this time suddenly isn’t as easy as it once was. Living in PA by myself has been an experience for sure. Going in, I’ll admit, I had no idea what I was going to do with all my spare time. But fortunately, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I know I haven’t talked a whole lot about what I do at work yet, but I thought this would be a good time to talk about some of the fun things I do outside of the shop…

My most frequent leisure activity is going to Knoebels. If you are not familiar, Knoebels is a small family run amusement park in Elysburg, PA, which is only a half hour from my apartment. This little gem in the woods might just be the happiest little place on earth (disney schmisney). The park is completely flooded with trees, and with free parking and admission, you can come and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere without spending a dime. The food is good and reasonably priced. And ride tickets aren’t so bad either. I’ve had plenty nights already this year where I’d just meet the guys for dinner at the park, ride the Phoenix and the world-class bumper cars and go home (approx. cost: $10-11, dinner included). It’s always a really fun and relaxing way to end my day.

Another favorite activity of mine is to go kayaking on the Susquehanna River. I’m lucky enough to use a friend’s kayak when we go out. Whether its on the weekend or after work for a sunset tour, we always seem to go out for hours and hours, and it has been some of the most relaxing moments of my time here. The last time we went out after work, we actually saw almost a dozen bald eagles flying over head or perched on a tree. Pretty awesome stuff. Although we generally don’t paddle too hard, the river has a few brief areas of rapids that are good for a quick little thrill. Nothing huge, but big enough to get you wet (especially if you don’t know what you are doing).

I could talk more about leisure, but before I wrap this up, I better talk a little about progress on the trains. At this point, we’re getting close to done. We’ve got most cars up to lap-bar status, which is only a couple phases away from being ready to ship. The shop is certainly getting crowded as the cars get bigger. This can be funny/scary when you think you are alone in the shop, and someone pops up from behind a car after installing a lap-bar can. Its a jungle in there and the jungle gets denser every day. I’m personally looking forward to deforestation as the cars could potentially leave the shop at the end of the week. Lets hope.

But until next time, thanks for reading :)

Jeff


My first few weeks

By , July 24, 2010
Jeff Bachiochi

So now that I’ve gotten settled with this website, its time for me to finally start talking about my experience here in the first few weeks. I started back at the beginning of July, so I’ve actually already been here for 3 weeks now. And so far its been a lot of fun.

The first week took a lot of getting used to. I had to get used to living alone for the first time in my life. I had to get used to living outside of New England for the first time in my life. And I had to get used to building Millennium Flyer trains. As a civil engineer familiar with bridges, buildings, and highways, I had to make the difficult transition into a mechanical frame of mind in order to understand the complicated train drawings. For a while, everything seemed go be a different language. Even simple terms like ‘road wheel axle’ sounded Greek to me. But over time I adjusted and started to speak the language myself.

The next two weeks have been much more smooth, however, it seems that every time I finally get the hang of things, I’m introduced into something totally different that makes me feel stupid again. Its an endless learning process, but fortunately….I’m learning! :)

When I got to Great Coasters, the trains for China were already underway. All the chassis for both trains were in the shop, and some even had a full set of wheels on them. Fortunately for me, there were a handful of chassis that were completely naked, and I was able to build those up from the beginning. This way I got to learn how every mechanism gets installed…well so far. There is still a lot to be done.

Since I’ve started, we’ve a come a long way on a few cars. A couple cars have wheels, anti-rollback dogs, seat cushions, seat belts, lap bars, etc., while others are still mostly just a chassis. Its actually cool to see the variety of progress across the trains (I’ll be posting some pictures later in the week). The biggest reason why we can’t keep each car at the same stage is because of our temporary lack of materials. Unfortunately we’ve been at the mercy of our vendors as we wait for more things to come in. Until then there is only so much we can do. I actually don’t mind this. Since we don’t have everything we need, we aren’t pressed for time to get things done, and it has allowed me to take my time and thoroughly learn each step of the process. This way I’ll be able to do things at speed when it matters most.

And that time is approaching fast. China trains need to be shipped out in a few weeks, and though we are far along, there is still much to do. As our deadline approaches, things are going to get interesting..


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