well flat track is cheaper than triangular track which is cheaper than quad track.. however, the quad track is obviously stronger than triangjular, which in turn is stronger than flat. they use the quad stuff to span longer distances (i.e. sparsely spread supports) and also to handle windloads at increased heights.
they basically use whichever option is the cheapest, but still provides the necessary strength
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The track is basically engineered on the same technology as a bridge. Because of the design of the track, some sizes of it can support more stress and go a longer distance without supports than others can.
On lift hills, drops, overbanks and such, you will find the quad rail track.
On banked turns and some camel backs, you will find the triangular.
The flat track is most common on brake runs and straight areas low to the ground.
Hope that helps.
------------------ 2003 season kicks off 3/22 w00t!! PKD here I come! CoasterCount: 42
It's Intamin's way of using the least amount of steel, which in turn means it's the cheapest way, too. Low to the ground, it's cheaper to have two rail track and many supports than four rail track and a few supports. The opposite is true for high elevations. This method saves the parks a lot of money in steel.
My Mech E. friend told me (for what it's worth) that the brake sections tend to be flat track with lots of close supports to prevent the track from buckling. I'm inclined to believe her, as it's pretty clear that brakes can be on flat and box track (Xcelerator's final and rollback brakes).
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The reason for Volcano's tri-track and Colossus's double-track is simple: look how high Volcano's rolls are. If it was double track, you'd need mad supports under it. The tri-track enables longer distances between supports. Cost efficiency.
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The supports for Volcano's rolls are also widely spaced. The biggest factor in selecting the track type is support spacing, though G-forces are also a factor. If you look at the rolls on Collosus, you wil see that the supports are closely spaced, and this type on element doesn't involve any great G forces.
Your engineer friend is wrong. Structurally brakes can be anywhere. The forces aren't really that high. Brake forces have to be kept fairly low to keep you from eating the back of the seat in front of you. It is convenient to have brakes low for maintenance, otherwise you have to spend the money to build a high platform. Alignment is easier if they are on flat track Also, flat track is important for rider comfort if a train is held on the brakes.
B&M and other mid-course brakes are up high and have to have the service and possibly unloading platform. It's expensive, but necessary to restart the train if it is held on the brakes.
Of course the main brakes need to be just before the station and at a convenient, comfortable place for holding the train if there is stacking. This pretty much forces them to be on flat track just before the station. *** This post was edited by Jim Fisher 2/28/2003 12:37:48 PM ***
I think Vater's point, GP, is that it seems Volcano's upper elements ought to have 4 rail box track, not that it should have 2 rail track.
A quick review of their coasters on RCDB, though, doesn't show 4 rail box track appearing until S:ROS in 1999... so it doesn't seem that Intamin had developed it yet in 1998.
Volcano could've seriously benefited from 4 rail track... I think its support structure is about the ugliest ever. It totally ruins the profile of the mountain. I think they should've kept the bulk of the ride on the backside of the mountain and actually put some DROPS in the ride. The second half is such a let down.
Also, we're confusing our terminology. Jim uses 'flat' to mean the track is level... most everyone else uses it to mean 2-rail track. Can we have agree on some standard terminology?
-------- Pun is the death of wit. *** This post was edited by ThemeDesigner 2/28/2003 4:57:49 PM ***