Steel Coaster Track: How do they make it?

Thursday, May 10, 2001 4:05 PM
I've always been wondering this, so please, any information would be greatly appreaciated! How do they make coaster track? Do they draw a blueprint for each piece of track? How do they bend such a large piece of metal like that?

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SROS at SFNE, the #1 steelie
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 4:13 PM
I think they take straight steel tubing and bend it with a track bender. I think the track bender can be set to precicely bend the track to any curve radius within fractions of a millimeter. I think they take the CAD designs and chop it up into track pieces with known curve radii and bend to spec.

Then again, these are all guesses.

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Decisions determine destiny; Destiny determines decisions.
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 4:34 PM
No, your'e probably right. I'm suprised these coasters get done on time. All these pieces of track to assemble, as well as supports.

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SROS at SFNE, the #1 steelie
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 4:41 PM
I don't think that they bend the track. I'm pretty sure that they custom make each peice of steel track from a steel factory (melted down then molded into the proper shape).

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I'd Rather Be Riding Rollercoasters
www.mycoasters.homestead.com/mycoasters.html
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 4:44 PM
No...the track is definitely bent by machine. It's much more cost-effective. You can take a look at a track bending machine at the Schwarzkopf site.

http://schwarzkopf.coaster.net/achterbahnen-es-HF.htm

Unfortunately, it seems to be down right now.

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Decisions determine destiny; Destiny determines decisions.
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 5:01 PM
They weld metal together.

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RCman4
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 5:05 PM
After it's been bent of course. Although sometimes the track is bolted together. Depends.


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Decisions determine destiny; Destiny determines decisions.
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 5:08 PM
i've seen shows in the coaster factories. The take a straight tube and it goes through these big wheels that bend it. It's really interestiong.

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Nitro!!! #1
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 6:36 PM
I would have thought they custom make the track because it would buckle slightly when bent. I've never noticed any such effects on track, but I guess it'd be hard to see while riding. ;) Does anyone know how this is avoided when the track is bent?

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PLEASE READ: This post wasn't meant to offend or anger anyone; I apologize in advance if it does. So please don't post a reply just to rant about it. :)
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 7:23 PM
bending metal into a curved shape would cause minor fractures in the structure of the steel, making it weaker. I believe the steel is near melting point (not close enough to be a liquid, but not far enough to be a solid) allowing a bendable piece of metal.

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Shawn Bailes
110 Drumline
http://ohiodrumline.tripod.com/main.htm
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 7:43 PM
You would think they would heat it before bending it, Coasterfreakbailes, but no. I recently read an interview with Ed Morgan and Carl Bacon about developing the tubular steel coaster. (I can't remember whether it was in Rollercoaster, or the recent book about Arrow) Much to my surprise it is (was) bent cold. It was discussed in a little bit of detail and why it is done that way. Interesting stuff for sure! (I think it was way too much work and not at all cost effective to bend it at near melting point or pouring molds)

Nitro2k1 is right with the way it is bent.
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- Peabody
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 7:46 PM
Yeah, I think I know what you're talking about. Something about molecular structures. People have their belongings frozen to near absolute zero. But it takes a long time. A golf club is said to be stronger after the deep freeze.

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Shawn Bailes
110 Drumline
http://ohiodrumline.tripod.com/main.htm
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Thursday, May 10, 2001 9:13 PM
I've had this topic/question on my mind for a long time as how the heck is B&M track fabricated?? Let alone the spine. How are the rails bent for Flat Spins etc? I ask this because 'corkscrews' curve through three dimensions, not two as with loops (Actually they do - they're very narrow corkscrews). Perhaps the bending machine is capable of rotating the tube as it is bent - hence the 3rd dimension.

Bringing this back up, square spines??

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The Buzzer Formerly Known As CoasterG-d
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Friday, May 11, 2001 1:57 AM
I think the square spines sonsists of a hollow box of metl, with steel plates every meter or so. Notice how when you see a B&M corkscrew, you can really notice how the spine looks like its divided by metal plates inside.

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SROS at SFNE, the #1 steelie
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Friday, May 11, 2001 11:39 AM
it all depends on the perticular grade of metal you can bend most metals a certian distance, but it takes extream pressure to get it past its point where it will not return to its original shape. not sure of the exact name of this but i can look through some of my strength of material notes if anyone is intrested

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MAY 5TH
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Friday, May 11, 2001 12:37 PM
All metals exhibit a degree of maleability. That is, the ability to change it's shape...stretch, compress, etc. The tube wont buckle given the radii involved (it's not bent as sharply as you might think) and given the type of steel used.

As for the spine, I think Arrow spines are bent whereas B&M spines are welded from triangular pieces.

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Decisions determine destiny; Destiny determines decisions.
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Friday, May 11, 2001 3:37 PM
Coaster track is made of fairly low strength steel Such as A36 structural steel. This steel can be readily bent cold to much tighter bends than those required for coaster track. Pipe is often bent to a radius as small as 3 times the pipe diameter.

Heat not only is not required, but would result in less accurate bending due to the difficulty controling expansion and contraction effects. Modern bendng machines can produce complex curves under computer control. Collapse of the tube when making tight radius bends is prevented by using a wheel on the pipe which is concave on its edge to wrap around the pipe and hold its shape.

The square spine on B&Ms is produced by cutting the sides out of steel plate then bending them with a press brake. The points at which the steel is bent are the lines that you see on the side of the curved section of track.
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Friday, May 11, 2001 3:59 PM
Interesting stuff, Jim. Thanks! That answers some things I've been wondering about for a while.
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- Peabody
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