Articulated Trains

Friday, August 18, 2000 5:26 AM
OK- I have heard this term used all over the place but I am not 100% sure what it means. When I looked up articulated in the dictionary the best meaning I could come up with was jointed or united by joints.
So, are there really some roller coaster trains that are not articulated? I have heard people say things like "B&M coasters can traverse more twisted and complicated elements than others due to their articulated trains."
Do some trains lack the range of motion associated with a joint? The point at which the coaches are connected (the couple) would not always be considered a joint then. I would guess that the old style of couples would be like a bolt, a very rigid connection, not allowing for the motion a joint would. Can someone please explain the articulated trains couples? I am very curious as to how they fit together. And if I am way off, please let me know that too. ;) Thanks!
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Friday, August 18, 2000 9:48 AM
By articulation, we simply mean that the wheels can turn independently of the car, kind of like your automobile. Imagine that your car's front wheels didn't turn. Now try forcing your car through at curved track. Bingo... you've got Mean Streak. ;) Granted, a little grease would fix that problem.

As you well know B&M track does some pretty nutty things, and the reason is that each set of wheels can do something different from the next. So while each car (which consists of the seats and the trailer hitch to the next car) is moving along the track, wheels adjusting to its curves, the next car can do the same, as the hitch is connected by a universal joint (meaning it can turn and twist in pretty much any direction).

Compare this arrangement to your average PTC woodie train. If I'm not mistaken (and I might be, because I've never looked hard enough to know), where the two sets of wheels can pivot to some degree, apparently not enough to handle tighter turns. Someone else who knows could probably describe the wood trains better, because I've never had a good look at them (but I've been under around and touched B&M trains before).

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Jeff
Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
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Friday, August 18, 2000 10:18 AM
PTC's have a few different styles. The basic PTC's have 4 wheels on each car. I'm not sure of the articulation though. Then there are PTC's with trailer wheels. Raging Wolf Bobs at SFO has these. The first car has 4 wheels but the others have 2 wheels in the back of the car. They work sorta like a tow along for a car. The vehicle in front carries some of the weight of the one in the rear. These seem to deliver a rougher ride.
--I also hear the Millennium Flyer trains by GCI have articulation as well. That may because each car is a single seat. They are kinda like B&M trains. They have a lead car in the front (no seats)and the first passengers sit behind that. The MF's glide around the track like no other woodie train. I only rode them on the Lightning Racer so I don't know if it's due to it being new or the trains. I think the trains being able to make tighters turns helps.

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Parks hit for 2000!
PKD,BGW,DP,HP,PKI,HW,SFKK,SFA,SFNE,LC,GE,QP,Camden,Lakemont,Knoebels, SFO,CP,
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Friday, August 18, 2000 10:52 AM
So a non-articulated train's wheels cannot pivot? It doesn't have anything to do with the way the trains are coupled together then? How does this fit into the definition I looked up? Maybe its just transportation-ese. I know they use this term in the railroad industry and I thought in maritime service as well.
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Monday, August 21, 2000 7:08 AM
I just wanted to post here again to bring this topic back up to the top. Jeff I like your explanation, but I need some clarification. It surprises me that with all the people on this board who use this term that more people haven't helped define this. Could it be that they just use these buzz words to make themselves sound cool to a bunch of people they have never met? Nah, couldn't be. ;)
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Monday, August 21, 2000 7:31 AM
No, "trim brake" (often spelled incorrectly) is the one people keep using to make themselves sound cool. ;)

Yes, to make it short and sweet, non-articulating trains don't have pivoting wheels. The problem is that even trains like the PTC's on Mean Streak articulate a little (so I've been told, anyway, I've never looked very hard), but the range of motion isn't significant enough to accurately track through turns.

If you want to see very cool articulating trains, check out those on Mike Graham's model coaster site:
http://modelcoasters.cjb.net/
In particular, look at this photo:
http://members.xoom.com/_XMCM/magraha/icecream/construction/12.html
The actual wheel assemblies aren't on that picture, but you can see where they attach and how they articulate. The long rod sticking out toward you is the trailer hitch to the next car. It's connected by the universal joint I mentioned. This is precisely how B&M trains work, and you can see why the trains bend over every turn, curve and inversion. This configuration is so flexible that the front car could be pointing to the sky and the back car pointing to the ground.

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Jeff
Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
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Monday, August 21, 2000 7:52 AM
Cool. Thanks a bunch. That makes it clear. Now, does anyone know which manufacturers (steel coasters) use this technology? This is less important to me than the definition of the term, but I am curious. I know B&M does, probably Intamin does. Arrow? I would guess Schwarzkopf's don't just because of the age. Giovanola? Vekoma? DH Morgan?
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Monday, August 21, 2000 8:53 AM
For a good explanation of how trains work go here...

http://capital2.capital.edu/admin-staff/dalthoff/coastercar.html

If this doesn't answer your questions (based on who wrote it) , I don't know what will :)

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Scott W. Short
scott@midwestcoastercentral.com
http://www.midwestcoastercentral.com
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Monday, August 21, 2000 10:01 AM
Excellent. I was hoping for some info from Dave, and this is perfect. Thanks.
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Monday, August 21, 2000 12:56 PM
Thanks, Scott... :)

Not that I really have time to read yet another message board...but personally, I think the term "articulating" as it is usually applied to coasters is more than a little misleading. The Prior & Church or GCI cars that are often referred to as "articulating" are actually more accurately described as "trailered". The train itself is articulated, but the wheels are rigidly attached to the cars.

When PTC claims that a car is "articulated" what they really mean is that the back axle of the car can pivot a few degrees in either direction on a longitudinal axis...that is, an axis running down the centerline of the car. This allows the car to go into a banked track section without lifting any wheels. PTCs axles are NOT (except for the old flanged-wheel junior cars) able to pivot to follow a curve.

I hope that makes some sense... :) Take a look at the link that Scott provided, and let me know if there is anything else I can do to try and clear that up...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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Monday, August 21, 2000 4:21 PM
Thanks, Dave!

The RideMan has arrived!

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Jeff
Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
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Monday, August 21, 2000 7:58 PM
That makes sense for sure, especially after reading that page. Thanks to Jeff, Scott, and Dave. I have a much better understanding now. By the way Scott, your pictures rule.
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Tuesday, August 22, 2000 2:16 PM
Ride Man, you hit the nail on the head!
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