Category: Trains

Trains and Shipments

By , October 19, 2016
Paul Brenckle

Hello again,

Last time I left off with getting to work on trains. Well, that sorta happened.

Sept 24-30
I mainly worked on the Kings Island trains. I finally got to assemble a few guide wheel weldments and then mount them on the chassis. Occasionally, the weldments do not fit due to the coating on them, so you need to take a brillo pad to that area on the chassis. Fun fact, there is a difference between a cap screw and a bolt. Basically, there is a flat washer face under the bolt head of a cap screw, where as a bolt is lacking a flat washer. They are also forged differently, but in our case, it is better to use a cap screw on the trains to conserve space. Once all the weldments were put in, the upstop wheels needed to be put in. There is no easy way of tightening the nut on the upstop wheel axle, it takes about 3 minutes per wheel. Putting on the magnetic brake fins is one of my favorite parts. You have to shimmy the fin around to get the spacers and cap screws to fit just right. Sometimes it takes 10 seconds, other times 60 seconds. All in all, its great to see the trains come together from the ground up. On Friday the 30th, Dan was out for the day, but left work for Ian, Tim, and I. We got to mount all the lap bar cans and put the lap bars in the GhostRider train. Also, not all of the lap bars precisely, so we had to use an emery cloth to get them down to the perfect fit. It was interesting to do this without Dan being there to help. While we were getting the lap bars put on, our project manager at Busch called and needed truss plates for the Station ASAP. We had planned on a trip to Dollywood, so they had us stop at Busch on the way home because it was faster than setting up a small shipment.

Oct 3-7
Next week I noticed that Busch Gardens went vertical. It was great being part of that process and nice to see that construction ensued after the parts were delivered. One of the days I got to assemble all of the seat dividers for GhostRider and set them aside for future use. I also got to drive down to the vendor to pick up some bolters for the seat side foam. We received updated quantities on hardware and brackets for Mystic Timbers, which was helpful for an upcoming shipment. That week an engineer from Busch Gardens came up to see how everything was coming along for InvadR. They are refurbishing the old Gwazi trains, but everything from the floorboards up will be new. That Friday was opening night for the Elysburg haunted house, I wore a mask and (hopefully) scared people in the basement of the house while Dan terrorized everyone at the slaughter barn.

Oct 10-14
Last week, it dawned on me that last minute shipments are normal, and you can never fully relax. To get these shipments ready to go, I worked with Ryan, Bob, and Clair to make sure everything that we sent was correct. It involved a lot of hustle and questioning to get it right. Ian and I also quality checked a delivery of brackets and got them stacked on heat treated pallets to ship out to China next week.

Over the weekend I went to Cedar Point with the Penn State TPEG and the other interns for an amazing tour of Raptor, Valravn, Dragster, and Maxair. This week I’m taking off to see family for a day, then I’m off to Scottsdale for the ASTM F24 Conference.

 


Introduction and Life in Sunbury

By , September 21, 2016
Paul Brenckle

Hi everyone, I’m Paul and I’ve been an intern for Great Coasters International since late May. There were some issues with the intern website, so I haven’t been able to post until now. I’ve done a lot of work this summer and have a few things to share.

I’m from Butler, PA, and am studying mechanical engineering at Penn State University. My passion for theme parks began when my family visited the former Six Flags Ohio amusement park, where I rode my first roller coasters. I would spend most of my childhood building my dream rides in Rollercoaster Tycoon or with K’nex, hoping that one day I could do that in real life. Much to my (happy)surprise, I would end up working on them this summer. Here’s a summary of how I ended up at GCI.

In August 2014, I attended GCI’s conference called FREDx (Future Ride Engineers and Designers), to interview for a possible internship. Obviously, I didn’t get a position right away. However, I met some great people and kept in touch. After two years of attending a Penn State branch campus, I transferred to main campus for junior year and joined the Penn State Theme Park Engineering Group (PSU TPEG), which was one of the best decisions I have made. With this group, I attended other conferences, like SkyNEXT, IAAPA, and ASTM F24. I highly recommend attending these conferences, as they are a great way to learn about the industry, find possible internships, and have fun. I was able to reconnect with a few of the GCI engineers at IAAPA and ASTM, and got an offer for a summer internship this past spring.

When I started in May, I was one of four interns in Sunbury. Dan was traveling around the world to help parks get ready to open their new rides, so Mitch – one of the spring interns (also a fellow PSU TPEG member) – stayed to help the new interns get settled in until Dan returned. My first week consisted of assembling guide wheels, filling brochures for the Asian Attractions Expo, and steel fabrication for the new InvadR roller coaster coming to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Until the end of July, Jase and I worked in the fab shop, preparing the steel bents, making brackets, and minimizing waste. Once Scott was transferred to the engineering office, I took his place preparing shipments for the new rides.

These past few weeks have been interesting. I was able to travel to local companies to pick up a few things for the trains with Dan, such as chassis, seatbacks and bolters. We’ve flipped two trains worth of chassis, one for Knott’s and one for Kings Island. Things are coming along nicely. This week I’ve been working with Ryan and Bob to make sure all the hardware, brackets, and lumber are gathered for a repair job starting in the beginning of October. Since everything is ready to ship out, I’ll get to help Dan out with the trains (the most fun part of the job). I probably left out a few things, but this post is getting pretty long.

One last thing before I go. Dan always volunteers at the Elysburg Haunted House and asked us interns for help. We’ve gone out a few times during the week and weekend to help set up a barn. Dan really loves Hall0ween and is constantly thinking of new entertaining ways to scare people. I’ll just say that this year is going to be awesome at the haunted house and I’m excited to help out in every way I can.


The End?

By , December 29, 2014
Sean Jurado

Well my internship was supposed to end last Tuesday… Surprise! I’m still here. My spring semester starts late, and things are really picking up around here, so I got an extension til mid-January. No complaints here.

Anyways, on to important things. Our chassis started coming in a few weeks ago, and Dan and I have been busy tackling them. We’ve got 12 cars with about half of the underside built up, and the rest coming today. It’s been really cool actually building the cars, because I’m getting to see what all the parts I’ve been gathering, building, and shipping out actually do, and where they go.

It’s also nice from and engineering side of things, because I’m asking Dan questions (practically every other part) about why things are shaped the way they are, what each flange or section is for, why so much seemingly extra material, stuff like that. The most common answers are strength, and fail-safes. In the unlikely event that a wheel is lost, that protrusion from the chassis will catch the track, or, to make the car extra stable, this section was beefed up to be extra strong. Obviously, I haven’t seen the math that goes into designing these things, but my intuition from looking at them and asking questions is that they’re plenty strong, and thus safe. When talking about how safe coasters are, I’ve heard it said that you’re more likely to get in an accident on the drive to the park, than on any of the rides in the park. Looking at everything here, I believe it with no hesitation.

That about wraps it up for now, we’ve got a lot of train building to get to, but I’ll be back here at least once more before I leave.

Oh, and we’ll have another intern up here starting next week, so look forward to him posting stuff soon after

Back to work!


By , May 8, 2013
Eric Wilcox

It’s hard to believe that almost two months have passed since my last blog post. Time sure does fly by when you are working at GCII!

Since my last post, many things have happened here in Sunbury, PA. First and foremost, all the steel fabrication for White Lightning has been completed. All of the steel structure is standing down in Orlando and the ride looks incredible!  It can’t wait to ride the coaster in the near future.

With the fabrication completed, I transferred over to work with Dan on the trains for Fun Spot. A lot of my work focused around installing many of the smaller assemblies onto the coaches such as seat belts, control cables & lap bar can covers. Later on, I even had the chance to build one coach from the ground up (with the help of Dan and his expertise). While our Millennium Flyer trains may look complex to put together at first glance, our engineers have made the assembly procedure a quick & pain-free process. As of now both 6-coach trains are now either at the work site or in route.

I have also been taking advantage of the early park seasons to visit a few amusement parks including Knoebels, Dorney Park, King’s Dominion & Six Flags America. KD & SFA were new parks for me this year and I was excited to try out Roar which was the second coaster designed and built by GCII. I had a great time at all of these parks and I’m planning on visiting Hershey (my “home” park) real soon

Stay tuned for another blog entry and thanks for reading!


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 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 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,


© 2017 Great Coasters International, Inc.