4D Coaster Model Original K'nex Set

Monday, March 1, 2010 6:50 PM

Since there was a recent thread about the Lego carousel I figured some of you may find this interesting. As a mechanical engineer and a roller coaster enthusiast, I have always wanted to design or build roller coasters (I am sure many of you have as well).While I may never get the chance to work on a real one, I have built several coasters out of K’nex back in the day. I recently found some pictures I took of my creations and would like to share them with you today. First, a few notes:

-I built everything with the original K’nex Roller Coaster set, way before the Screamin’ Serpent models came out.
-This is my parent’s basement before they remodeled. Why they would ever want to get rid of that carpet and furniture is beyond me.
-Sorry the quality of the pictures isn’t better. This was before I had a digital camera. I really wish I had been able to get video of these running too. Maybe I’ll have to rebuild them someday.


4D Coaster: My best creation was probably the S&S Arrow 4D coaster. This was built before X opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain. All I had to go by was a short video of a car being run through the test track at Arrow’s facility. The Lego people riders do a back-flip over the camel back hill. I only had enough track to make the one hill. The car used a ton of wheels and was pretty heavy, similar to the real ride.

I posted the picture here. What do you think? Anyone else ever build any thrill rides with the older K'nex sets?


Last edited by Amnesiac, Monday, March 1, 2010 6:51 PM
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Monday, March 1, 2010 9:15 PM

Nice Work!

Ah the great world of Knex (hell of a lot better than legos). A few years back I had an entire amusement park in the second living room. It had both Knex original "roller coasters," two Screamin Serpents combined (large out and back with helix), two Rippen Rockets (both given designs integrated), the original ferris wheel/boom ride/swing ride kits, several flats (both custom and knex designs), vertical vengence coaster, and the new volcano blast one. Currently, im down to the combined Rippen Rockets, Original "Loop Coaster", Vertical Vengence, Volcano, Ferris Wheel, and three flats. Also, every winter about 3/4 would be disassembled and replaced by lionel trains. Although, times have changed and I had to reduce my collection.

In my opinion, the Screamin Serpent, and "Roller Coasters" were the best. The two new ones I have were gifts and are not realistic. Besides I think the mini pieces are junk and as brittle as legos.

Thanks for the post. Now i might have to make a new Screamin Serpent design over spring break!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 1:44 PM

I like the picture of the 4D chassis on top of the NES!!!!! That's awesome. I remember doing similar things, but technology wasn't as prominent as it is now. Remember when it took days to get a roll of film developed!!!!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 3:19 PM

That's awesome. It reminds me of the hours upon hours I spent as a kid tinkering with my Spacewarp models. I always wanted to figure out a way to attach the marbles together so they would roll like a coaster train, but didn't have the means to do it.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 8:52 PM

I've had the worst luck with developing film. I am thankful this roll came out even with the poor quality. I forgot about the NES. I also like the TV in the background that seems like it was three feet deep.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010 10:53 PM

I was thinking about this and was wondering, why S&S/Arrow decided to go the mechanical route with their 4D coasters as opposed to an electrical one? Currently, the rides use a second set of rails to control the spinning motion of the seats. Why not use actuators or something like that instead and program them to engage during certain portions of the ride?

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010 11:26 PM

^ My guess is that a failure in the motors to spin the cars could be disastrous if the car is left in the upside-down position at the bottom of the first hill. I wonder what -4g's feels like.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010 10:10 AM

Amnesiac, Vekoma tried and failed to develop a reliable motor in a coaster car. The 2nd generation flying Dutchmans relied on that big motor in the back to tilt up and down. The original idea was that the seats could recline or raise while the train was in motion, either on the lift or while in transit after the brakes. This failed miserably, and to my knowledge, it never actually worked for more than a day on X-Flight.

There are two factors you have to contend with when using a motor on a moving car- Power (in this case, bus bars lining several hundred feet of track), and torque on the motor from the car shifting and bumping as it goes through the track. Cedar Fair had the right idea by removing X-Flight's motors when they installed Firehawk.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010 11:44 AM

What would be the benefit of motorized movement on a coaster car for rides like X? What would that achieve that the present third rail system can't? Isn't the third rail system the better choice anyways?

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010 12:52 PM

Nice job!

Love the Demon Drop clone.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010 3:54 PM

^^ Just off the top of my head, a motorized system would allow different flip programs on the same rail setup - kind of like how 3d motion theaters change their program every few years. It would also (in theory) allow for any corrections or adjustments that needed to be made after the ride was installed.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010 10:40 PM

Nice, Andy.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010 3:37 PM

I was simply trying to think of a way to improve the 4D experience. I have never been on one but from what I hear they are rough due to vibrations and prone to downtime. How would you fix those problems? Or have they already been fixed with the new trains?


One thing that I think could help is what we've learned from B&M's track design in that an outside bogey (the chassis riding the rails) has much advantage to smoothness of the ride than an inside one (which the 4-D's have had). If they could somehow get a track design that implements an outside bogey for train travel smoothness, and perhaps enlarge the 4-D rail so that its less prone to vibration of the track (thus causing less roughness to riders), I really think these rides could be more solid, less rough, and more fun.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010 10:29 PM

Saw this today, a full recreation of Diamondback out of K'nex. Pretty accurate for K'nex.

I also thought this one was cool too with the realistic looking supports.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:41 AM

I loved the from-behind-the-water-heater shot.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 5:07 PM

That Diamondback recreation didn't have a working lift. i noticed it about halfway through the video. I asked myself why they didn't show the train going up the lift, then looked closer.

Then I read the comments on the web page, and it was pointed out.

That's a heck of an awesome Diamondback recreation, and an awesome tune in the video, so the lack of a working lift hill is more than forgivable. :p

I really like how it takes up the kid's entire basement, and the helix is squashed behind the staircase. How much money did that kid spend to get those K'nex sets? I would have used the money to go to the park instead, but that's just me.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:17 PM

You could have done a lot more than go to a park. You could probably have bought a few season passes.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:09 PM

If you thought the Diamondback model was impressive then check this out. A fully functional Steel Venom recreation that's more of a Rube Goldberg machine than a roller coaster.

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