RideMan posts editorial and article on coaster blocking schemes

Posted Monday, December 18, 2000 6:25 AM | Contributed by Jeff

CoasterBuzz member and resident student of ride safety and engineering (though he'd deny any such attributes) Dave Althoff, Jr. has posted a commentary on inspecting rides yourself. He says that the "moral of the story" is to look for things that aren't right, even with an untrained eye, before boarding a ride.

Read the editorial on Dave's Web site.

Also on Dave's site is an excellent article on the blocking systems on roller coasters that prevent trains from colliding. If you've ever asked, "Why don't they just add another train?" this article is for you.

Read the blocking article here.

Monday, December 18, 2000 6:32 AM
Gee, I don't think I've ever been a CoasterBuzz news item before... :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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Monday, December 18, 2000 10:06 AM
Finally, someone has explained the blocking system.

I used to think I was the only one who understood it.

Great work, Dave!
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Monday, December 18, 2000 11:47 AM
Question:

Why doesn't Magnum need a mid-course block brake to run three trains? If the trims before the pretzel brought the train to a stop, it wouldn't be able to finish the course. I also realize that Magnum has a set of brakes after the last tunnel, but even all B&M's have a set of brakes at the end of the ride before the holding brakes. Does this mean that technically, B&M's have enough blocks to hold four trains?

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Coasters...the best natural buzz available.
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Monday, December 18, 2000 11:53 AM
MooreOn: Dave said in the article that coasters typically have more blocks than required. For example a guy, Tim, who posts on the coaster-talk email list and worked on Kraken this year, stated that Kraken had six block segemnts. And I know that they dont run five trains :). Also, SFA's Wild One has enough blocks to run three trains but only runs two.
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Monday, December 18, 2000 12:43 PM
Magnum blocks: 1) Lift, 2) circuit and brake run (next to lift), 3) turn over plaza and transfer, 4) turn to station and station. Four blocks, three trains.

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Jeff
Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
*** This post was edited by Jeff on 12/18/2000. ***
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Monday, December 18, 2000 12:53 PM
Apart from the fact that he can't spell "brake" :), Jeff has it right. Magnum doesn't need a mid-course block brake because it has two block brakes at the end of the ride. The real trick is that it takes 1:10 to get to the top of the lift hill, and nearly 3:00 to finish the ride. Once the train clears the lift hill, the lift hill is clear and the next train can start. But the park delays the dispatch until that first train crests the second hill. That gives just enough time for that train to get all the way out, all the way back, and *past* the block brake after the last tunnel before the train just dispatched clears the lift. Since the train doesn't (usually) stop on that block brake, it takes a very short time to get from the block brake to the transfer table, so the real limiting factor in making sure that last block is clear before the next train gets there is in getting the trains out of the station. Make sense?

One of these days I'll get an illustration or two for the web page.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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Monday, December 18, 2000 1:03 PM
Don't most B&M's also have 2 block brakes at the end of the ride? For example, if Raptor or Mantis sets up, the third train is never stopped on the mid course block, but on the brakes before the holding brakes at the end of the ride's course (hope that's not too confusing of a description)? Do most B&M's have more blocks than necessary to run three trains?

Also, Intamin hypers don't have mid-course blocks because of the magnetic braking systems, right?
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Monday, December 18, 2000 2:32 PM
I know MF doesn't need a midcourse brake because there are 2 stations. One train is on the brake run, while one train is ascending the lift and the other in moving into the Loading station.
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Monday, December 18, 2000 5:49 PM
I know the American Eagle has 6. The station, lift hill, breaks before the helix, and another set of trim breaks at the end of the helix, yet another set of trim breaks before the final small helix, and the last is the breaks at the end of the ride. I have also watched the blocking lights (yellow) on the controll pannel, and that's when I understood it.
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Monday, December 18, 2000 9:30 PM
Thanks Dave! This truly is important info that we all need to keep in mind while at parks. Also, the few extra heads keeping a watch for problems can only help. Those of us that understand the physical aspect of rides and their functions can be a great asset to the parks and carnivals we visit.

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www.angelfire.com/oh4/tk173
First rule of Stormtroopers: Pee BEFORE you put on the uniform!
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Tuesday, December 19, 2000 2:51 AM
MF#1RB#2BVL, you spelled brakes wrong on that post, it's brakes, not breaks
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Tuesday, December 19, 2000 4:18 AM
Madog, both Raptor and Mantis can stack on their mid-course brakes (I've seen it happen), but it is far more typical for them to use the two brakes immediately uptrack of the station. It seems to be common design these days to make it possible to stop all the trains near the station rather than having one out on the course someplace. Let me think...Raptor has blocks from the station to the top of the lift, from the top of the lift to the mid-course brake, from the mid-course brake to the transfer track, the station wait brake, and the station...so yes, it has an extra block. But even though it has the two blocks at the end of the ride, the mid-course still needs to be there, because of the timing: the ride is long enough that it would do nasty things to capacity to require the train to get all the way to the safety at the end of the ride before allowing a train off the lift. This, in fact, is the situation we see on Millennium Force, which has only four blocks (Jeff, don't complicate things by bringing up the advance blocks in the station...!)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2000 3:21 PM
If Jeff can't, then I will. What about the advance blocks in the Millennium Force stations??

:)

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Scott W. Short
scott@midwestcoastercentral.com
http://www.midwestcoastercentral.com
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Tuesday, December 19, 2000 4:45 PM
How many wish you could design blocks on your custom coasters on RCT/CF/LL ???

Nothing worse that those station break failures when you still have trains loading and one finishing.

Thanks for the article Dave..
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Tuesday, December 19, 2000 5:51 PM
Well, since you asked... ;)

Because it is necessary to advance all three trains at once in the space of twenty seconds, there are several "mini-blocks" in the stations. Like regular blocks, two trains can never occupy the same block. As the trains advance, they pass through several blocks, and if the train ahead hasn't cleared its mini-block (including the one climbing the lift), everything stops.

On most every other coaster, one train doesn't enter the station until the one ahead has cleared it. It was a little weird the first time I saw three trains moving simultaneously.

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Jeff
Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
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