Week 2: Finding my Bearings in the Shop

By , January 23, 2015
Matt Brueckmann

Apologies for the punny title, though, I did take a look at some of the hitches we use to attach each coaster car together (which have bearings in them).

Anyway, let’s talk about one of the unique things about GCI, the shop! I’m working in the Sunbury, PA office, the headquarters of GCI, where our shop and materials are located. Since we design and build our own coaster cars (the Millennium Flyer and Mini-llennium Flyer), our company is unique in that we have this shop space for the main purpose of building and assembling our own trains in-house, which is really neat. At our Sunbury location as a whole, we have anything from multiple types of lumber, track steel, seat side cushions, wheels, multiple versions of car chassis, lapbar cans (the base of the system that locks your lapbar into place), hardware (nuts, bolts, etc), and much more all within several storage areas. Since this was my first 2 weeks here, I would say a lot of my time was spent observing, asking questions, learning where everything is, and then from there attempting to do as much work as I could. Luckily, Fall intern Sean was here for the last 2 weeks, which certainly helped speed up some of the learning curve for things, along with getting some major work done, even on my first day.

The one thing that I think I’ve learned quickly while being here, is that there’s so much more that goes on at a roller coaster manufacturer than just working on whatever the latest project is. There’s so much more that goes on often behind the scenes. Just in my 2 weeks here, I have done anything from assembling cars, to compiling/shipping part orders for certain parks, to sending out parts to our local machining partners, to collecting incoming part shipments.

In addition to the work going on in the shop filling orders and assembling trains, there’s also the work going on in our Engineering Office, which often interfaces with the shop as you can imagine. They handle the design work, and I know for our trains, there are always improvements being made to the finest detail to improve the rider experience, safety, and maintenance work. The Millennium Flyer itself has had numerous changes since it was first made, many of which can be seen on the outside. Even beyond that, there are improvements being made day by day for our cars that I’ve even gotten to experience myself, many that happen under the hood. An example of this is a part that we tweaked a tolerance on to the 1,000th of an inch, just so that several other parts could fit together better and allow for easier future maintenance. That attention to detail with these cars amazed me, and made me realize that there is so much more to building a roller coaster than I ever realized.

Lesson 1: The work that happens before opening date, is just as important as what happens after.

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