Category: Engineering

Florence Y’all

By , January 17, 2013
Nathan Rubin

Howdy Y’all!

Okay, so not exactly. For as many people hear about Texas on the news, I still get the impression that a lot of people who haven’t visited think that we’re all cowboys and hicks in the South. As a civil engineering student at The University of Texas as well as a proud member of the Longhorn Band, I can tell you that this stereotype is completely false. In fact, the word y’all is much more prevalent in Florence, KY, where I’m working for this semester. I was greeted to “Florence Y’all” plastered on the local water tower on my drive into town, reinforcing the fact that I’m still in the South (that and the SEC….but we won’t go there).

I’m truly blessed to have the opportunity this upcoming semester to work on detailing the steel for the new Fun Spot White Lightning coaster. Although this is only my fourth day at the office, I have been thrown into tons of AutoCAD work and fully immersed in the friendly, encouraging culture that defines Great Coasters International. Jeff, Joe, Evan and Adam are quite possibly the best co-workers anyone could hope for.

As many of you reading this are probably wondering, I ended up in this position as a result of continually pursuing a passion and believing that there was an opportunity to succeed despite unfavorable odds. However; to those of you who work hard and persevere through whatever obstacles you may encounter, I promise you that you will come upon some kind of success. Most importantly, find a way to make yourself stand out. Show that you are passionate about sustaining and furthering this industry. And most of all, have patience.

My interest in roller coasters stems back to my first roller coaster ride as a child. I do not remember the roller coaster name; however, I remember the layout and how much I enjoyed that ride. It was a kiddie coaster at Riverside Park in Agawam, MA, now known as Six Flags New England. When I was in sixth grade, everyone had to present the careers that they were passionate about. Some kids wanted to be astronauts, others doctors and some even professional athletes. I, however, wanted to be a roller coaster designer. And as many people’s career interests began to grow away from those of their childhood dream, mine continued to flourish throughout high school. During my senior year in high school, for a class called ISM (an independent study and mentorship program), me and my friend, Ian Mair, designed and built a backyard roller coaster, known as The Predator. While not the boldest or baddest roller coaster in the world, the experiences we gained from working with structural, mechanical and electrical engineers were the most invaluable experiences I’ve ever had. Take any engineering experience that you can find, as it is crucial to learning to work with a problem solving mindset.

My first summer internship was two years ago as a worker for Terracon. I mainly inspected rebar and concrete on various jobsites. Nothing screams “roller coaster design” like standing out in the 100+ degree weather with jeans and steel toed boots on, telling the contractor that his or her concrete was too hot to pour or had too high of a water content and being yelled at for it. While not necessarily obvious to many how this contributed to my current internship, working firsthand on a jobsite, reading blueprints and communicating with contractors has been extremely valuable in my pursuit of a career.

Skipping over last summer working at the Texas Department of Transportation designing bridges, I ended up at IAAPA this November upon being highly encouraged by Evan to do whatever I could to attend this convention. Stepping onto the red carpet of this monstrous convention is utterly overwhelming for the first time. Thousands of lights disorient your senses, and the sounds of carnival rides overwhelm the 1,100,000 square feet of exhibition space. Essentially, it’s heaven for the child that still remains in each one of us. This was the crucial experience in my search for an internship in the amusement industry. Having one on one experience with every major professional in this industry is the most insight you can gain into this industry. As a result of attending IAAPA, I was considered out of hundreds of applicants for this position. How I ended up here was a matter of luck, hard work, and perseverance.

I look forward to keeping y’all updated on the experiences I have at Great Coasters International. I cannot express how great the work culture at GCII is, and how welcoming and knowledgeable the employees here are. I could not see myself having a better opportunity to experience the amusement industry than working right here in Florence, Y’all!

The local water tower here. At one point, it read “Florence Mall,” but due to governmental violations with using public funds for advertising, was cleverly changed into “Florence Y’all.” It was the first thing I saw upon arrival.


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,

Mid-way Recap!

By , October 22, 2012
Kevin Young

Hey everyone!

As I reach the midpoint of my internship here at GCII, I thought it might be a good idea to recap some of the things I’ve done and learned so far for those who haven’t been reading along.  It’s already been a great couple of months here and I’ve been busy from Day 1.

The Fun Spot project is the primary reason I was brought in to GCII.  This project, GCII’s first ever completely steel-structured wooden coaster, requires hundreds of individual supports that are cut and punched to specifications here in Sunbury.  While we have just scratched the surface on the processing of this material, the problems that have already been uncovered and solved have given me valuable experience into how to go about managing a first-time project.  Furthermore, seeing the attention to detail taken by the employees here in regards to this project has shown me exactly why GCII’s rides are some of the highest quality in the amusement industry.  Absolutely no detail is too small to examine in depth, especially when dealing with a new structure type.  I cannot wait to see White Lightning built and know that I had a hand in its creation.

In addition to White Lightning, Jerry has given me many opportunities to get my hands dirty working with part fabrication for Gold Striker as well as our transfer tables.  I’ve gotten to see several parts through from raw material all the way through final painting.  I’ve also gotten to go out to the job site and see how some of these individual parts fit into the big picture of the ride being built, which from an engineering standpoint might be the coolest part.  Seeing exactly how a part fits onto a ride and getting to experience part fabrication first hand will be invaluable in the future with part design.

So, what are some of the big picture things that working at GCII has taught me thus far?  First, and most obviously, there is a whole lot more to building a roller coaster than jotting down an awesome layout.  Every individual part of the ride is carefully designed, from the loading platform all the way through the final brake run.  Secondly, when working at a small company the responsibilities of the employees are amplified much more so than at a large corporation.  As an intern, l get to do meaningful work that has a direct impact on the product GCII produces.  This has created a highly rewarding experience so far.  Lastly, as an engineer it is very rare that you will work exclusively with your discipline.  So far in my internship I’ve gotten to see civil and mechanical engineering in action, as well as part fabrication and construction.  These are three different disciplines all equally important in making a high quality ride.

Well, I hope this has been a decent recap of what I’ve done so far this term.  In my next entry I’ll get back to talking about our current activities and such, which should be pretty interesting.  I hope my blogs so far have been informative and I encourage you to continue reading throughout the second half of the term.

Happy Early Halloween!




  кондиционеры сплит системы с установкой в могилеве

By , March 23, 2009
David Stamper

Hello to all! I would like to start by introducing myself. My name is David and I am currently Interning at the Engineering office in Cincinnati. I have been given the privilege to help with the finalization of all three of our coasters being built this year. These rides are going to be amazing! I figured I would give an update on the progress of our job sites:

Let’s start with El Toro. This past week has been a very eventful week with the coaster making its first test runs! The ride looks phenomenal with great pacing and an awesome first drop for all you “straight drop freaks out there!” If you don’t know what I am talking about with that quote, I advise you check out the video of Chris and Jeff riding El Toro. I will add a link at the end of this entry. Everyone involved with this coaster did a great job and it really shows. Anyone with the opportunity to make it to Germany should add El Toro to their to do list.

Moving on to Worlds of Fun. Prowler is rapidly approaching completion and, if you have seen the construction pictures or have been lucky enough to tour the coaster, it looks absolutely beautiful. All of the main structure for the ride is standing and is fully tracked. I have spent the entire last week drawing structural revisions for the ride and finalizing the braking system which is in the process of being installed. I cannot wait to make my way over to Worlds of Fun this year to ride this beast!

Now for Terminator. As anyone who has followed the construction of this coaster knows, Terminator has gone up extremely fast! We are astounded at the progress that the crew in California has made. With all of the bents in the first drop now standing, the crew is starting to making their way down the lift hill which I recently did revisions for.

I believe that will complete my updates for the day. I hope everyone is enjoying the construction of these rides as much as I am. It’s great to hear all of the much deserved hype about the coasters and know that you were a part of them. I hope to be posting more entries soon to keep everyone updated on the rides and to give you a taste of my role in the overall construction of the coasters.

Here is the hilarious video as promised in the El Toro update:

By , December 19, 2008
Evan Souliere

I’m in the final hours of my last day here now, so I thought it’d be nice to post an update before heading out. Starting with our new projects:

Prowler has been well-covered photographically by the park and a few other sites, so I probably have little additional information to offer. Foundation work is winding down, with a couple minor pours left. The first of the two bridges spanning the creek was set today, while track work continued on the more than 75% of the structure already standing. What is left for the ride (structurally) includes the station, transfer building, about half the lift, and the sections of bents connecting the out and return runs to their respective counterparts. Obviously tracking, facing, and bracing will continue, with the mechanical, electrical, and air systems following.

Forellenhof’s ride is in a similar state as Prowler, with all but one section of the structure standing. The foundation work for that portion had to start after the closing of the park for the winter, so we’re just finishing up with concrete and beginning to get the structure going there. Tracking is well under way there, as well, with all eight plies installed over much of the ride. Subsequent mechanical, electrical, and air systems remain, as well.

And finally, Terminator at Magic Mountain has almost all of its concrete poured. In fact, the last slab pour was today, with a few specialty pours remaining. Bent construction is well under way, so once the ride goes vertical, progress will be incredible.

On a personal note, looking back at the last 12 months working in our Cincinnati office (with a two-month break in the middle), my experience has been great. I’ve seen more bent drawings than I ever thought possible and have learned an incredible amount from some of the best in the business. It will be strange to go back to school after all of this, but I’ve missed Boston and my friends, so it will be bitter-sweet.

On the plus side, I graduate in May and will be returning to the office with a full-time position doing more of what I love. Adam, who you haven’t heard from in a little while because he’s been in class, just graduated (lucky him!) this week, and will be joining Great Coasters full-time in the Pennsylvania office where we both started.

With the founding interns growing up, this blog will likely grow with us. I’ll leave its future a surprise, but I assure you that our change of titles does not mean an end to our sharing this experience with you.

Have a great holiday season. I’ll check back in soon enough.

By , December 2, 2008
Evan Souliere

Things have been busy lately (in the good way), but I figured I could still fit in an update.

I’ve been working a lot on our three new rides, as well as a couple rehab projects we’re undertaking during this off-season. I was also lucky enough to get to the annual IAAPA Trade Expo a couple weeks ago and talk to a lot of cool people.

What should I start with today? Let’s go with Forellenhof…

Hopefully you noticed the batch of photos from Forellenhof that I posted a few weeks ago. They really show how the ride is going to turn out, and we’re all really excited about it. I’ll admit that I haven’t had much to do with that ride for the past couple of weeks, but they’ve certainly been busy on site. The first drop’s bents are now standing and tracking is progressing very nicely!

Come to think of it, I haven’t worked much with Six Flags Magic Mountain too much recently either, but that will certainly change once concrete has been poured. I know it doesn’t seem like much is going on at the job site itself (some minor updates have been posted to a few websites recently), but sometimes the work getting done isn’t always visible. Fortunately for those that want more visible progress, any updates you see from this weekend (and beyond) may have some pleasant surprises.

So that leaves Worlds of Fun as the last of the big projects, and it is certainly what I’ve been spending a lot of time on. Specifically, I worked for a while on detailing the bridges that will cross the creek, as well as checking all of the bent drawings that we release to the field. With a majority of the structure standing, that will probably slow a bit in the coming days, but there is still plenty of work to do. And the location of the most recent progress is perfect; I always have a Firefox window open with the Prowler webcam up!

Within the next couple weeks, I should have still more to report, so stay tuned. Perhaps I should also mention that I only have three more weeks left in this office before I return to school for one final semester before graduation! I’ll be sad to go, but I’ll try to get updates from others and post them here while I’m gone. And my time away from the office is only temporary, so don’t worry about a lack of posting updates.

I almost forgot: Have you seen Great Coasters’ new website yet? If not, head over to and check it out. You can also become a fan of ours on Facebook for special updates, as well as subscribe to our Twitter account. There, we post any update about what we’re doing or where you can see the latest information and photos of our rides, whether or not they come from us! We certainly have a passion for what we do and love sharing it with others.

By , November 6, 2008
Evan Souliere

It occurred to me that I haven’t posted in a little while, specifically since Terminator was announced for 2009 at Six Flags Magic Mountain. That brings our work load to THREE jobs for our office to be working on right now, not to mention several repair jobs, as well.

Visitors to Six Flags Magic Mountain have been reporting back our progress there. As of now, the site is ready for concrete and bents are being built. Not just a few; they’re at more than 100 so far and counting. It is exciting to see the overhead shots a few have taken from the Sky Tower, clearly showing the formwork for our slab that I have been staring at on a blueprint for a couple months now. It really is an awesome feeling to see something go from a design on paper to the final product (and everything in between).

So as work picks up at Magic Mountain, I’ll make the same promise I have made for our other jobs: I’ll post any photos of construction that I can as soon as I can. I know what it’s like to crave new photos (we do it all the time in the office!), so sharing them is the least I can do.

Our work at Forellenhof in Germany is moving along quite well. With bents for almost the whole ride (the final section was awaiting the park closing for the season) released for construction, standing of bents is in full swing. Tracking has begun, as well, along with final bracing being installed. The station is next on the list for construction, as well as the lift hill. I wish I had some updated photos to show you now, but I’m at a loss for now. Hopefully soon. We’re also awaiting the naming of the ride so we have something more familiar to call it.

And, finally, Worlds of Fun. I leave that for last because it is certainly getting the most coverage out of the three. Just today, the park posted 15 new photos of the ride’s construction, so you can probably tell the progress they’re making just as much as I can describe it.

What I can offer, though, is that we’ve just released the bents from the top of the lift down the first drop for construction, so keep your eye out for some beefy bents being built and stood. The tallest, if I remember correctly, is just about 90 feet tall (roughly four times taller than anything we’ve stood so far).

In other news, as I so plainly stated in my last post, the new website went live at midnight on November 1 as planned. I like to think that it caters nicely to both clients, and, as I suspect most of the visitors to this site are, those interested in our rides for reasons other than wanting to buy one.

Some features definitely worth checking out (in my opinion):

- The “Compare” page, which allows you to see each of our rides’ stats together and sort them by various criteria.
- The Map that creates a great visual of where we’ve both installed new rides and repaired others.
- The FAQ section, which is a work in progress and awaiting questions to be submitted that YOU think everyone would be interested in.
- The photos throughout the site that have been submitted by our fans (and that you can still contribute to!).

We’ve also created a Facebook page, linked from the site, and a Twitter account. Through both, we can easily update those interested in what’s going on at our job sites, though, admittedly, I’ve been updating everyone via Twitter significantly more often (the smaller updates seem more appropriate).

That’s it for me for today. Stay tuned for more updates as our three jobs continue to move forward.

By , November 2, 2008
Evan Souliere

Have you seen Great Coasters’ new website yet? It went live yesterday!

By , October 16, 2008
Evan Souliere

As I sit in the office alone eating my lunch right now, and having already checked up on all of my favorite coaster forums to see what’s going on, I figure it’s a good time for an update.

First, Prowler. I’ve clearly been slacking in my posting of photos, and I feel bad about it. If I were on site, it would be a different story, but I am solely relying on our crews right now for their photos. With the site in full swing, I can’t blame them for not being able to send any of their photos to us regularly; I’ve accepted it. But I continue to promise that I’ll post any photos that I can as soon as I can.

Luckily, though, there are some others who are covering Prowler’s construction very well. The park itself has been doing a better job documenting its progress than any other park I’ve seen cover a new ride’s construction. (Though I like to think I did pretty well covering Pandemonium while working at Six Flags New England!) So if you haven’t been to in a while, it’s worth a visit. Also of note are (with some recent construction shots) and the admins of the “Worlds of Fun 2009″ Facebook group, who have been collecting the updates from many sources.

Though I may not have the photos right now, I can tell you that bent construction is well under way. I’ve personally checked almost 100 bents before releasing them for construction, so the crews will be keeping busy. Vertical construction is set to begin very soon, which will be pretty exciting.

Forellenhof is going to see some major progress in the coming days, too. A crucial container has finally arrived at the park after going on quite the adventure, so vertical construction will be starting there, as well. Our crews have about two-thirds of the ride sitting on the ground waiting for erection. Station work is also beginning, which will be fun to watch. The remaining foundation work (and subsequent structure) will be left for when the park has closed for the season.

That’s it on our ride front for now. The website is still set to launch on November 1, and we have a few other things to complement that in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

By , September 22, 2008
Evan Souliere

Time for some more updates.

For starters, Adam, Joe, and I headed to Missouri last weekend for a trip that’s worth noting (at least briefly). We headed to Six Flags St. Louis on Friday for some official business on Evel Knievel, and ended up taking a couple rides (Adam and my first time on it!). What a ride! I’m proud to have worked on it.

Saturday morning, we took advantage of ACE’s Daredevil Daze ERT on Evel Knievel before making the trek to Branson for Silver Dollar City and Celebration City. A huge thank you goes to Gina and to the crew on the OzCat for putting up with us! The OzCat lived up to its hype; I quickly found my favorite seat as the front right. Because of the threat of weather, we were the only people on the ride for a good portion of the night, so we had a blast.

Saturday night, we made the drive back to St. Louis with the intention of finishing Six Flags on Sunday and then enjoying Holiday World on our way back to Kentucky. The weather had different plans and forced both parks to close. So I guess that’s two parks I need to revisit soon.

Meanwhile, on the work front, I posted some more photos from Germany a few days ago. Work is coming along great there! I know for folks in the US, it’s hard to get excited about Forellenhof’s new ride, but it will certainly be a ride (and a park) worth visiting. The ride’s surroundings alone make it fun to watch going up.

The better-hyped GCI coaster in the US right now, though, is Prowler, of course. Worlds of Fun posted some great photos of site preparation recently (which I’m sure is not news to most people), and I’ll certainly do the same as soon as I can. Concrete pouring is already beginning tomorrow, so we’re all happy about that. Having worked heavily (an understatement) on the foundation plans, I am particularly excited.

I guess that’s it for this year’s projects for now. Meanwhile, the new website is still coming along. I’ve set a launch date of November 1 that I fully intend for us to hit, so look out for that. I promise that you will be pleased with the upgrade. (Keep the photo submissions coming, too!

Thanks for reading. I hope everyone enjoys the Halloween season at all of the parks!

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