# Block Question

Sunday, April 14, 2002 6:08 AM

This question may seem very dumb, but I just don't know how the blocks on a coaster work. If a coaster has 4 blocks: Station, Lifthill, Midcourse and Final Brake Run, how many trains can it run and why?

Thanks

-Daniel

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 6:15 AM

I was always under the impression that the maximum number of trains equals the number of blocks minus one.

Basically, there has to be an empty block section for a train to go into...

*** This post was edited by redman822 on 4/14/2002. ***

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 4:00 PM

Generally speaking a coaster can run 1 less train then how ever many blocks it has, however most of the time there is a bigger gap then just one block.

And to answer you question why, is if it has 4 blocks and 4 trains, you couldn't move any trains, that is why you need at least 1 extra block.

*** This post was edited by FoF on 4/14/2002. ***

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 4:56 PM
The formula for blocks is N+1=B where N equals the number of trains you want, add 1, and that's the number of blocks you need.

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I can't think of a good signature.

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 5:18 PM

Actually if a coaster has 4 blocks it can only run 2 trains.

For example the blocks would be:

1. Station exit - Lift exit

2. Lift exit - Brake 1

3. Brake 1 - first transfer track brake or holding area

4. Holding/transfer area - Station Load

There must be 2 blocks cleared in order to dispatch a train out of the station. In english that means the first train must have already clear the lift and has completed the entire ride and has just entered the first brake in order for the second coaster to be dispatched from the station. Reason is if the first train hasn't reached the first brake in time the second train won't get held up on the lift. Manufactures prefer not to have a train load of guests get stuck in both the run course and the top of the lift at the same time. Much harder to take people off the ride. However if the train isn't brought into the station from the Holding area the other train will park on top of the lift reason being is because the main set of brakes the train reaches is mainly there to slow a train down and not hold it there for long periods of time. However if ride or e-stop is pressed it will hold a coaster in an emergency situation.

For a coaster to run train or more trains the track must have either a

1. Mid Course Block Brake: which are found in most B&M, Hyper or Arrow looping coasters half way through the ride.

3. Or brakes placed throughout the entire ride: Space Mountain, Rockin Rollercoaster.

You will never see a coaster with 4 blocks and 3 trains because the coasters have a higher chance of collision because there isn't much room for error. A coaster will only have 3 trains if it has 5 or more blocks.

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 6:08 PM

Gwazi God - Magnum XL-200 runs three trains with four blocks. The little lights on the control panel work as follows:

A Block: Occupied when there is a train on the lift

B Block: The major part of the course up to and including the brakes outside the last tunnel. Occupied from the time a train drops off the lift until the time it clears the safety brakes at the exit of the third tunnel.

C Block: The next portion of track up to and including the ready brakes. Occupied when there is a train clear of the safety brakes until it clears the ready brakes (i.e. is almost in the station).

The area between the ready brakes and the lift (including the station) is not designated by a block on the panel, but this is the fourth block. The goal of the crew is to never have a train get stopped right outside the third tunnel. This is a set up and is to be avoided if at all possible. When a set up occurs, the crew must call park operations and wait for a supervisor to call back, then go out under the lift and releast the safety brakes - so it results in about 2 minutes of downtime.

Gemini works in a similar manner, but when they have a set up, it is much more of a pain to deal with. I think your explanation works for B&M coasters, because they like to have an extra block in between any trains moving over 5 mph I think.

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-Matt
2001 Magnum Crew

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 6:13 PM
It's not true for all B&M coasters either. Take SFGAm's rides, for example. Iron Wolf and B:TR both run two trains with only three blocks (station, lift, final brake run). I *could* be wrong, but I don't believe the final brake runs on these rides are set up as two blocks.

Raging Bull is different, however, as the final brake run is set up as two blocks.

-Nate

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 6:22 PM

Yep you are right coasterdude. Wolf and Batman are set up that way.

Block A- End of station to top of lift

Block B- End of lift to Service Brakes (brake run)

Block C- Brake Run to Station

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Your village called. They're missing their idiot.

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 6:37 PM
no, you can have two train in the brakes on both IW and B:TR. while you only need one extra block than trains, most coasters have two extra blocks just as an extra buffer so trains don't have to be stopped.

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-Bob (formerly Coaster Jedi)
Knott's Berry Farm Cuba ~South Park

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 6:40 PM

Well, a block is generally defined as an area with a "stopping device," which would be a lift or a set of brakes. Six Flags Over Georgia likes to space trains out by one block on most of the coasters.

GASM has five blocks and runs 2 trains... the blocks are Station, transfer, lift, main brake, ready brake, and back to the station. The programmable controller (aka computer) keeps the trains one block apart, except when a train is in the station, the train behind it will be allowed to advance into the ready brake area. So parks all operate a little differently.

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Sunday, April 14, 2002 7:20 PM
If you are a traditional-thinking coaster operator, you need n+1 blocks, where n is the number of trains you want to run. An important caveat is that the blocks have to be spaced in such a way that the train ahead will clear its block before the train behind clears its block. So in practice, blocks tend to get shorter (in terms of actual ride time) as the ride progresses. Looking at Magnum XL-200 as a real-world example, the first block (from the station to the lift crown) is about 1:15; the second block (top of the lift to the safety brake after the last tunnel) is about 65 seconds, from that brake to the transfer table is about fifteen seconds, and it's another seven seconds or so into the station if the train doesn't stop on any of the block brakes (2-train operation). All times rough estimates; there are Magnum people here who have better numbers than I have.
If you are certain other park chains...Paramount comes to mind...you want to have an extra brake between trains. It's not strictly necessary from a blocking standpoint, but it's a nice failsafe.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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Monday, April 15, 2002 9:45 AM
Correct, but you all forgot the one exception. You only need one block if you are operating only one train. I agree with Dave that the extra brake is a nice failsafe.
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Monday, April 15, 2002 10:26 AM

What makes Magnum's scheme somewhat less than ideal is that when you want to put it to bed, or have riders causing a setup, you've got trains all over the place. That's why you have a train stopped on the lift, one in the station or transfer and one on the safety brakes.

Where most B&M's improve on this (and contribute to many a Six Flags capacity killer) is that you can stack all the trains right there outside of the station. It's a lot more convenient, but it doesn't foster efficient operation.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

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Monday, April 15, 2002 11:54 AM

Haha, putting Magnum to bed is fun! :) It definitely is a bit wierd the first time or two you do it. But once you get the hang of it, it really isn't bad and you feel smart for knowing how. :) I like the fact that Magnum can't stack without setting up. Yes, set ups are a pain, but they make the crew work hard to avoid them. Set ups tend to come in bunches. We went whole days without them and then once in a while we'd have two in 10 minutes. I think the reason for that was that the "stupid" population in the park was high at the time or something. :)

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-Matt
2001 Magnum Crew

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Monday, April 15, 2002 12:31 PM
True that you only need one block when operating only one train, but virtually all single train coasters I can think of can be thought of as having two blocks...typically the station brakes and the lift...and many (Raven, for instance) actually have three because of station approach brakes.

I can think of coasters that have only one block, though...Knoebels' High Speed Thrill Coaster, anything from Schiff or Molina, or the Zamperla kiddie coasters (such as the Howler at Holiday World) or certain Zierer Tivoli models (such as Road Runner Express at Geauga Lake). But it's tough to build with only one block...typically it means the lift system extends through the station.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Monday, April 15, 2002 6:29 PM
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Tuesday, April 16, 2002 3:40 PM

Really, you only need as many blocks as you have trains. There is no need for a +1 factor. Phantom's Revenge, and Steel Phantom before it, has two blocks, and so we run two trains (no wisecracks here.;) )

If a train doesn't clear the B-block on the transfer table by the time the second train is cresting A-block about 90% of the way up the hill, the lift will shut off.

Now, we use about 70 sensors to know where the train is at all times, but only 2 blocks.

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"When I was growing up, we were taught something called manners. You'd understand that if you weren't such an idiot." - Jack Handey

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Tuesday, April 16, 2002 3:54 PM

kpjb said:

Really, you only need as many blocks as you have trains. There is no need for a +1 factor. Phantom's Revenge, and Steel Phantom before it, has two blocks, and so we run two trains (no wisecracks here. )

If a train doesn't clear the B-block on the transfer table by the time the second train is cresting A-block about 90% of the way up the hill, the lift will shut off.

Now, we use about 70 sensors to know where the train is at all times, but only 2 blocks.

I don't see how you can only have as many blocks as trains, the ride would be a constant stalemate, or you would have a constant blocking violation which is how "kpjb" describes it. And also the way you make it sound on Steel Phantom is still 3 blocks, ( station, lift, and transfer table). And of course if the train hasn't cleared the transfer table yet the lift will stop with the second train (set-up).

*** This post was edited by FoF on 4/16/2002. ***

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Tuesday, April 16, 2002 7:13 PM
Right. Phantom is 3 blocks, or rather it is now 3 blocks. A block is traditionally defined as a section of track ending with a place where you can reliably stop a train. So the first block ends at the top of the lift, the second ends on the transfer table, and the third is the station. In fact, that's why Phantom couldn't run two trains last year: the train couldn't be reliably stopped on the transfer table, meaning that effectively the ride had only two blocks...and hence only one train.
Perhaps Kennywood labels the blocks differently from the rest of us, but in practice, Phantom has three blocks.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2002 7:29 PM
Remember it's only a block if the control system treats it as one. If there is no permisive, it doesn't make any difference how many brakes, lifts, etc. you have it's still one block. Of course in a few cases, the control system is the operator's brain.
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