I need a coaster fanatic's expert help!

Monday, January 2, 2006 1:13 AM
At this year' 2006 New Year's Eve party (it was past midnight), my neighbor and I happened to discuss some of our favorite coasters-both she and I being big time fans but not experts on types, models, construction, etc. I mentioned a coaster called Mountain Express that I rode locally at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia CA. It operated from 1973-1982 and according to info I accessed was a steel sit-down type, single car trains manufactured by Schwarzkopf and designed by Ingenieur Buro Stengal GmbH. My inquiry to anyone out there is this:

I could have sworn that at the end of the ride, your car triggered a bell that would signal the operator to pull a lever that would brake the car as it finished its run. Is this feasible during the period this coaster operated or was this type of insane braking system already outlawed or phased out and it was all show? If not, was there a back up system in place if the guy happened to have a bad night and fell asleep? Even in the company of Jack Daniels last night, I remember this system clearly as it was one of my favorite rides at the Mountain.

Thanks in advance for any reply-this is really bugging me!


Monday, January 2, 2006 1:38 AM
Heck no, That was probably a Be alert bell telling the op to get ready.

I know the Wildcat that operated at Martins Fanatasy Island operated by levers up until it was removed last year. A big burly guy worked the brake end and he wouldn't run it if it even sprinkled.

Other ones I've seen have been set up to pnumatic brakes but the op still opens or closes them.

And to answer your question about a bad night. The answer would be KABLAM!

Chuck, who says you oughta see the human brakes the pretzel at Camden had/has.

Monday, January 2, 2006 5:17 PM
Not crazy and still in use at some parks. The Waldameer comet is what that immediately comes to mind.

// There you have it. Answers from both "coasterfanatics".

Monday, January 2, 2006 9:37 PM
Or the Rollo @ Idlewild. Interesting that a coaster built during the 70s would still have such a braking system though-- if someone can verify that it did.
Tuesday, January 3, 2006 12:42 AM
I think about the Big Dipper at Camden Park. It at one time had a bell and hand brakes. It is one of my favorite memories of the park. It has been changed to automatic brakes within the past 10 or so years.
Tuesday, January 3, 2006 12:44 AM
The big wooden hand brake is also still used on the Coney Island Cyclone, Jackrabbit at Seabreeze and Blue Streak at CLP.
Tuesday, January 3, 2006 1:02 AM
Actually, there is a steel coaster that uses a hand brake. :)

Timberline Twister at Knott's. Uses a tire to slow the train, but a hand brake to stop the ride.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 1:50 AM
Brain Teaser at SFDL :)
Tuesday, January 3, 2006 1:59 AM
Starliner was hand-braked. I'm sure that's ONE of the changes they'll make to the ride. Hopefully the tunnel will stay, but I'm doubtful.

Isn't Tiger Terror (WA, I haven't ridden the others) also hand-braked?

Hooray for ERT on TT at Knott's, giving the big kids a chance to ride...maybe some day SFMM will relent, along with SFDL... ;) LOL! :)

Reminded of the human-powered lifthill they used at Wizard's Cavern... :-/
*** Edited 1/3/2006 2:31:41 PM UTC by rollergator***

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 8:04 AM
I'm pretty sure Wild One at SFA was hand braked when it was rebuilt at SFA. I believe a computer system was installed when Six Flags took over the park.
Tuesday, January 3, 2006 8:41 AM
They still built em this way as late as '71. Racer at PKI had hand brakes (At least four levers) This changed in the late 70s to a pnumatic brakes but the levers remained for a few years. They would just move back and forth as the op controled the air pressures from the board. I know that by the mid 80s it changed fully to computer blocking and control boards.

Many times a Woodies Bell would be controled by a cable in the turn around that litterally would activate by the sway of the structure. This bell was always a BE READY alert.

Chuck, who's surpised Ridman hasn't chimmed in.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 2:11 PM
Camden Park's Big Dipper still uses the hand-operated squeeze brake, at least it did when I visited the park in 2005. Oddly enough, the Big Dipper has hand-operated squeeze brakes, while the Lil' Dipper has pneumatically-operated squeeze brakes.

Wyandot Lake's Sea Dragon, Waldameer's Comet, and...er...I believe the Lake Winnie Cannon Ball all have hand-operated skid brakes. Kennywood's Jack Rabbit had hand-operated skid brakes until just a couple of years ago when it was converted to high-tech magnetic trim brakes and a pneumatic squeeze brake in the station.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 8:12 PM
I'm almost postive that Big Dipper at the then Six Flags Ohio had a bell and handbrake. I only rode it once, but I have a pretty firm memory of that. Am I wrong?

While Twister at Knoebels doesn't use a handbrake, I don't believe it's automatic due to its using skid brakes on an arc. On my first visit to the park in 2001, I witnessed a train fly right through the staiton and back towards the lift. Nobody onboard seemed unhappy as they got another ride:) The main op just had that "eh, whatever" look on his face.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 11:07 PM
I had a similar experience on the Lakemont Skyliner but the ride op let us go through 6 cycles before stopping the ride. I didn't mind but a couple of passengers were pretty pissed.
Wednesday, January 4, 2006 12:02 AM



I have posted inquiries on numerous sites concerning various topics, always in search of an answer that eludes me. Sad to say, many forums from my experience are filled to the guts with pompous, arrogant trolls who respond to possibly naive postings with patronizing, obscenity-laden dribble. NOT SO HERE!! Thanks for the expert and fascinating responses. While I love coasters, I am obviously a local rookie among the big boys. Continue to represent your hobby?, passion?, sport?, with the dignity and respect you demonstrated here.


Wednesday, January 4, 2006 12:05 AM
Not a problem.

Nice to hear, especially considering this tends to be the forum with a rep for being full of pompous, arrogant trolls who respond to possibly naive postings with patronizing, obscenity-laden dribble. ;)

Wednesday, January 4, 2006 11:58 AM
Hey, I'll be the first to come up with a one liner when the question deserves it. Some things are easily Looked up or easy to deduce.

Like, "Will PKI be busy on the fourth of july?"

But If I can help, I ususally do or let others with more knowledge of the situation do it.


Wednesday, January 4, 2006 1:19 PM
I'm not an expert, I just play one on TV. Actually, I just happened to ride a coaster this summer that had a bell. Anyway, you're welcome Bart.
Wednesday, January 4, 2006 2:59 PM
Jack Rabbit at Clementon Lake Park used to have the manual lever brake system also. I believe at the end of it's operational time it had issues of not stopping in the station also. It would pass through the station and the riders would get a second lap.
Wednesday, January 4, 2006 5:30 PM
About the bell (which I forgot to mention earlier...)

The bell, buzzer, or other signal is used to warn the operator that a train is approaching. In some cases, it does not indicate that an approaching train is imminent, but it does indicate that the train has reached a particular location on the track. Since the operator is ALWAYS alert to the approaching train, the function of the signal it to indicate to the operator that it's time for the other train to leave. A classic example of this was the Kennywood Jack Rabbit. The bell would only ring if the train on the course reached the switch at the far end of the ride AND another train was sitting in the station. If the station was already clear by the time the train reached the switch, the bell wouldn't sound.

Oh, and yes, Big Dipper at Geauga Lake did have hand brakes and a signal until just a few years ago.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


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