Lincoln Park Comet went boom!??

Wednesday, April 5, 2006 2:30 AM

wow! Check out those coaster cars, looks like they popped the track! Look at page 2... anyone know about whappen here?

Wednesday, April 5, 2006 3:46 AM
The good news is. The NAD trains that were on it are fully restored at Little Amerricka. The better of Little Amerricka does. The quicker they rebuild this classic coaster.

In the mean time, Stop in and ride the newly rebuilt former chicago Jr wooden coaster called the Meteor to go along with the Comet name.


Wednesday, April 5, 2006 7:51 AM
By your subject line i thought you meant that they finally took the track down. I drove by sunday and it was still there so i was a bit shocked that any contractor could work that quickly.

As far as what happened. I had always heard the reason it and the park closed was someone stood up on the coaster and was killed, and the lawsuits etc put them out of buisness. But that doesnt make sense when looking at that pic.

It's sad to have grown up around the park and never ridden the comet. I was too chicken to ride it when i was younger.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006 10:20 AM
The Lincoln Park Comet was the victim of a lack of maintenance over its final three decades of operation. The work which was done to it was often not sufficiently robust to allow for the general lack of attention the ride received.

One of the problems with the ride was that the track was allowed to go over-gauge, to “stretch” sideways, which allowed the cars additional yaw when they were traveling around the course. In the worst case of such a problem, a car in a turn with extreme side forces – and Comet excelled here – would want to lift its inner safety wheels up against upstop track which might not be there, spread so far away that it no longer is able to keep the car pinned to the track. In that case, the car would rotate around its loaded outer wheel and flip off the track.

In the case of the Comet, it suffered a less dangerous, but no less spectacular failure caused by the extreme yaw of the cars. The 1947 Comet had fin brakes, unusual for that era even while being common today. The operator manipulated his large wooden braking handle to cause a pair of vertical brake shoes to pinch in against a fin extending beneath the cars to bring them to a stop. The upstream end of the slot between the shoes was funnel-shaped to guide the brake fin into the business area of the brake shoes.

However, the Comet’s track allowed so much yaw that one car’s fin failed to enter the funnel and instead collided with the brake shoe. This meeting of the moving car with the immobile brake assembly imparted an upward burst of energy into the car and it popped upward, spreading the track so that the safety wheels no longer had any overhang to restrain them. The car briefly went airborne and came back down to rest on top of the track stack. Nobody was hurt badly; the passengers were helped from the train and walked back to the station.

This was the final ride ever given on the Comet.

The train sat, abandoned, until vandals later came and toppled the pathetic car to the ground ten or twelve feet below. The good news is that a second train at least sat in a shed, better protected from the elements, from at least that time in 1987 until this century. The bad news is that the “protected” train was already being pirated for parts to keep the “good” train going. So keep that in mind when seeing the restored version of these trains – what a basket case these trains were before receiving their attention at Little Amerricka. There’s more than just a little bit of skill on display at that little park in Wisconsin!

John *** Edited 4/5/2006 2:22:33 PM UTC by John Fetterman***

Wednesday, April 5, 2006 12:34 PM
Wow, really cool info....thanks for posting. I'll certainly get more than a few pics of the trains at L-A-M-A... :)
Wednesday, April 5, 2006 4:14 PM
Gator, Thing is, I didn't see the trains while I was there. They are being stored somewhere.

Little Amerricka has a fully functioning machine shop for it's steam and diesel locomotive fleet Of which I got a full tour, Video and walk thru and explination of prior to park opening. I don't suggest just showing up like we did. (Although they were warm to us)

These guys are fabricators to the max. That is why every piece of equiptment they run, Including 1960's mad mouses and 70's chance Toboggans look and run like brand new.

They obviously have plans for this park, It's just they need people It was created as a place for locals to have a afordable place to have recreation but like HW and other small parks. If you go, They'll keep building. They do have plans to recreate the Lincolin Park Comet in the not so distant future.

John F. Im very pleased that you have many projects either complete or in the works (Knoebels, Cypress and others) You help keep the second golden age alive :) for those of us who prefer wood coasters. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 5, 2006 4:24 PM
That one photo of the derailed train is featured in the Book on Lincoln Park... which I have.

Did ya'all see the old Flyers tub on page 3?

Wednesday, April 5, 2006 5:13 PM
I seen that :)

There are also a set of Bisch Rocco scooters for sale for 20000 from some six flag park on a link of It says missing upper swing arm.


Thursday, April 6, 2006 12:25 AM
I'm curious...

This was a NAD coaster, hence the NAD cars and the fin brakes. I've seen three different kinds of track construction on NAD coasters. The Screechin' Eagle has the conventional style track, the Kennywood Thunderbolt (admittedly not *really* a NAD coaster) has a square-profile rail stack with a steel flange sticking out from the inboard side of the stack for the safety wheels (in fact the Thunderbolt does not appear to have separate upstop wheels...the guide wheels roll beneath the flange and serve as both guide wheel and up-stop), and the Lil' Dipper at Camden Park has a very strange setup with only two layers of track, a steel flange, and gauging ties that have all the layers on them.

Looking at the photos linked above, it looks like the Comet might have had the Thunderbolt-style track. Also, I see that the cars are 2-benchers...are they trailered? I'm remembering how bad the Lil' Dipper's single bench trailered cars track on curves because of the hitch being in the wrong place...

Anybody care to fill in the details?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, April 6, 2006 7:48 AM

As concerning the track construction on the Comet, it was standard, and not Thunderbolt-style. It was very reminiscent of any "normal" PTC-stocked wooden coaster.

The 2-bench cars were not, to my recollection, trailered. Obviously, the folks at LAMA have the solid proof of this; I did not study the underside of the trains when I saw them, but just spent most of the time looking at them and mentally saying much on the order of, "Oh no, oh no, they are so decrepit... they can't be repaired".

The design of the ride, for all of its fan curves, actually allows the use of non-articulated trains. The fan curves, exciting to behold, are actually a builder's solution to being able to build the turns quickly and cheaply because they provide superelevation without the need to bend wood very much. They are shaped like the rim of a pie plate, which is a shape bending in only two dimensions, not in the more difficult three dimensions.

This builder's solution also allows the use of non-trailered cars. Because the track does not do much twisting, the train does not have to, either. The short-wheelbase, 2-bench cars were used to further reduce the torsional demands upon the chassis of the cars, but I believe that the chassis was the "articualtion" in these cars.


Thursday, April 6, 2006 11:07 AM
That certainly makes sense. I just think it is interesting that while trailering is so simple, both PTC and NAD managed to get it completely wrong, so completely wrong in fact that most wood coaster designers abandoned it. The problem is really obvious on Camden's Lil' Dipper.

So the fan curve is basically a flat curve, tipped up at an angle, right? That way, so long as the track gauge bows out enough to let the non-articulated axles to clear, the train can get through it without any real trouble at all...and if the train is going fast enough to keep the guide wheels stuck to the outside rail, it should run pretty smoothly as well. Pretty clever, actually. Especially since it allows for minimal longitudinal torsion, so the modern design with the swinging axle isn't needed.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, April 6, 2006 11:23 AM
Abandoned it so long that 1979 mega woodies still used the proceedure. The Beast.

Scott Fowler has a Interesting article on the History of the Lesourdsville Screechin Eagle on It mentions changes to the track and a couple instances of train changes of which clearance of the upstops were a issue. Also mention of going from two trains to one due to the newer NAD's being to heavy for the breaking system. Overshoots became quite common for the two stop station and one train was removed for safetly.

If Im not mistaken, Screechin Eagle uses the running gear of a NAD century flyer and has the bodies of the old PTC WIldcat from Elitch's.
The trackwork of the Eagle has been redone many times by CCI and others, I remember 2002 seing a makeshift anti rollback that basically was two metal strips with 3/4 inch bolts spaced about three inches apart. While the whole lifthill had this, The upper section of it apeared to be newly fabricated for the 2002 season and it's modified first drop.

Sorry to go on a tangent but It's kinda relevant to what John was talking about. I don't think Screechin Eagle is trailored or articulated. Yet features some curving hills and drops.


Thursday, April 6, 2006 12:51 PM

Charles Nungester said:
John F. Im very pleased that you have many projects either complete or in the works (Knoebels, Cypress and others) You help keep the second golden age alive :) for those of us who prefer wood coasters. Thanks!

That needed reiterated...;)

Thanks SO much for ALL the *phantastic* work you do, and also for being willing to SHARE your insights and knowledge.... :)


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