To Build a Roller Coaster Train, Part 2

By , March 5, 2015
Matt Brueckmann

…continued from Part 1

The big thing I noticed while building these trains, is that CAD drawings of parts never quite exactly match with their real-life versions. Not only do you have things like tolerances that make every part different, but often you will deal with manufacturing processes that just aren’t perfect either. The quality of welds on parts are where I’ve seen the largest room for error. Fusing 2 pieces of metal together can be very challenging, especially when they have to both be aligned in specific positions or angles for a part to fit right. Think of how a bolt would fit, if it had to go through two different holes, with each hole being on a different welded piece, attached to the main body of the car. Not only do these holed pieces have to be welded to the same exact angle, but they must also sit at the correct position for the holes to be aligned just right for the bolt to go through. This is just one example where a part manufactured for GCI might actually need extra work to be ready for assembly.

I never actually realized how important all these key design subtleties were to the assembly of the train, and the engineering that goes on before and after a drawing is made, by both engineers and mechanics, to troubleshoot in different situations. Paying attention to design subtleties such as ease of machining and assembly, are certainly things I hope to take with me. A famous phrase Dan (my boss) once told me was, “Mechanics: Because Engineers need heroes too.” I believe this is true in some aspect. Communication between both the designers and the builders is very important to making a great ride, and improving on a design.

Clarification: Dan doesn’t want to take credit for that quote, since he read it on a t-shirt. He says some pretty quotable things though (as some of the past interns know), so maybe I’ll add some of the good ones to my future posts.

Lesson 3: A design on paper, no matter how good, is never quite like the design in hand.

Keep your eyes on the blog, as I’m going to have my final, “Part 3″ blog post on building trains coming up soon!


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