To Build a Roller Coaster Train, Part 3

By , April 13, 2015
Matt Brueckmann

…continued from Part 2

Hey guys! I’m back with what I believe will be my last post on this series of building roller coaster trains in January/February. I’m sure at the moment, I’m forgetting a lot of major things I learned, but for now I feel that I’ve summarized some of the more interesting things. I figured this time I’d do more of a pictorial blog post because I thought it would be a neat way to show some of the different steps in the process of assembling the cars. Plus, of course, I know you all would love to see how awesome these trains look. So let’s begin!

Our train cars begin the assembly process upside down, as the lower and upper chassis are bolted together. Also, depending on the position of the car on the train, some cars get different parts than others (like chain dogs, anti-rollback mechanism, etc). I didn’t realize this initially, since I thought all cars were pretty much the same, but they each have their own purpose.

The cars then get flipped, and more of the main body parts that you can see from the outside are attached. It’s still amazing to me that we got 18 of these cars done in such a short time (about a month if you ignored other projects we worked on at the same time), from ordering machined parts to the final product. Most of our work ended up happening in the last week or two, as one of the biggest lessons I learned through this internship, is that in this industry, things are always changing. New situations always arise in this line of work. You could be working on one project, but then a large repair order comes in that needs to be fulfilled. Or, our part suppliers might not be quite ready with the parts they’re making for the trains, as another example. Things never work out exactly according to plan, and that’s just natural. The best thing you can always do is to stay a step ahead in your work, always being prepared for what comes next. To me, that’s what has always been a very exciting and interesting part of this internship, just seeing multiple facets of industry work all at once, and learning how to be flexible shifting from job to job.

I never really got the scale of how much we had built until the shipping trucks rolled in.

Here’s a picture of some cars all wrapped up. We manage to fit about a whole train’s worth of cars, plus some extra parts into one truck. The pallet each car rests on is designed to crib the car chassis at the right points, and be able to slide together like puzzle pieces as shown below. It’s pretty neat, and definitely a result of multiple changes and iterations to best figure out how to efficiently transport these cars. Prepping these cars for shipping, as I’ve seen, is always a first priority before prepping them for the tracks.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this look into the process of building GCI’s Mini-llennium Flyers. Be sure to message me or leave a comment if you have any questions, and I’ll talk to you all in the next post!

Lesson 4: Things never go completely as planned. Always stay one step ahead


2 Responses to “To Build a Roller Coaster Train, Part 3”

  1. Devin says:

    Wow, this was a really interesting look into how roller coaster trains work. I’m 13, and I have always wanted to design or at least work on roller coasters, and this blog post really got me thinking on how it all comes together! I did have a question, and that is, “When the trains are shipped to their destination, how do you get them onto the track?”

  2. Matt Brueckmann says:

    Hey Devin!

    Glad to hear your interest, I remember reading this blog myself!

    Our trains are pretty heavy so they come to the job-site on individual pallets. They are then forklifted over the end/brake-run of the track, where we notch out a portion of the track steel and wood large enough to fit the wheels on the cars. The notches are then replaced with the wood/steel. Since the brake run is a straight section of track where the cars aren’t moving as fast, this is a great spot to notch out the track to complete this process. Hope that answers your question!

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