Saturday, December 31, 2005 2:57 PM
I was looking at info on Conneaut Lake Park's Blue Streak and their website stated, "The N.A.D. train utilizes what is called a “Mars” headlight. A light that revolves back and forth as the train navigates its course." I've seen the NAD train headlight on other coasters, but didn't know about this "Mars revolving" type. What I'm wondering is what does it do? RCDB doesn't show pics of Blue Streak's headlight, so if anyone has pics I'd like to see them.
Saturday, December 31, 2005 3:19 PM
Several years ago there was a coaster show that featured the Blue Streak and showed some night shots and I believe the headlights were working on it then. I can also remember showing scenes where sparks were shooting off the track. I think that was due to the brake right before the far turn. It's been a while since I saw that show.
Saturday, December 31, 2005 4:40 PM
Kennywood's Thunderbolt also had them (which were restored for the park's centennial season in 1998, but were removed again by the next season). The two upper headlights were stationary, while the central headlight would 'oscillate' the beam in a circular motion, causing a strange effect at night. The following aren't the best picture of these coasters with the 'Mars light', but, you get the idea of where they were located on the trains...
Saturday, December 31, 2005 7:31 PM
Camdens Big Dipper is the only one I've seen with the Mars light. Were not talking the Headlights here peeps.
The mars lite is a cone with the headlight in the center. While it's lit The light makes a figure eight motion within the cone meaning the beam does a figure eight.
These type lights were used on Southern Pacific Steam locomotives. It was believe that along with the headlights. The moving light made the locomotive more visible to motorist. Back in the late 80's trains had nothing but the headlight. Adding Ditch lights did the same thing as the Mars light in making the locomotive more visible. They are now required by law.
Anyhow, Do a search on Camdens Big Dipper and Souther Pacific Daylight Locomotive http://www.sp4449.com/trips/05holiday/index.html
Saturday, December 31, 2005 8:07 PM
Thanks for the railroad explanation for the lights, Charles. I had no idea that they were used on real railroads as well.
I was very fortunate to ride Kennywood's Thunderbolt at night with the the headlights working, including the oscillating Mars light in 1998. Very strange visuals both while on the ride and watching the coaster trains from the midway. It's just too bad that neither Conneaut nor Kennywood use their's anymore. Does the Mars light still operate on Camden's Big Dipper?
Saturday, December 31, 2005 8:36 PM
It isn't on the train anymore Brother Dave. You can see it's not there in this picture I took: http://coasterbuzz.com/rollercoasterphoto.htm?i=3190
I don't know if the headlights are functional anymore or not either.
Saturday, December 31, 2005 8:39 PM
Thanks, TopGun. That's how the train looked when I last visited Camden Park over 15 years ago. I just thought that they might have restored it since. I guess there's no NAD Century Flyers left with operating Mars lights then? Too bad, they were neat to see in operation!!!
Saturday, December 31, 2005 9:35 PM
My understanding is that both Kennywood and Conneaut Lake spent a lot of time bringing the mars lights back to life in the late 1990's with little success. Evidently the battery life and wear and tear on bulbs really don't make for a good combination. I think KWs were done for good after the collision. Conneaut has obviously switched to the original Vettel car which is open fronted.
I don't know how long NAD actually marketed the lighted trains. Most of the NAD trains I've seen either in person or in pictures appear to have at least the appearance of lights or of the covered lighting fixtures.
Sunday, January 1, 2006 3:20 PM
Only if Knoebels had trains with the Mars Lights!
Here's the best pic I've seen of the front of a Century Flyer with the lights!
Monday, January 2, 2006 1:45 AM
Great pic cpunk. I was hoping for one showing the headlight in operation. Sounds psychedelic!
Monday, January 2, 2006 2:56 AM
Wonder if there's any chance of the M-Flyers' Mark II showing up with headlights? ;)
Monday, January 2, 2006 11:07 AM
Ridezone has pictures of the Blue Streak with the lights on....
Saturday, January 7, 2006 7:54 AM
Another place to find Mars lights is on emergency apparatus (fire engines, ambulances, etc.) where they have made a comeback in recent years. A very unique light.
Bear in mind that NAD also was very big into park trains at the same time they were building the coaster trains. I believe the Mars light may have been a carryover from their association with railroading. (If you don't believe me, compare a picture of an NAD park train and NAD coaster train....)