Posts tagged: Thunder Road

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,

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