Steel Types

I'm doing a research project for my Materials class and was wondering if anybody knew what types of steel were used for coaster track, or where I might be able to find out. Thanks!
Fun's avatar
I had no idea there was more than one type of Steel used to fabricate parts...

If I had to guess, there probably is not one single type of steel that is used as the standard material. It would make sense to me that each steel coaster has it's own composition based on the requirements of the site and what kinds of forces the ride is going to produce. Again, this is just a theory here, but I would assume that the make up of steel for a hyper coaster built along a shoreline would differ from that of a kiddie coaster built in the desert.

*** Edited 11/10/2006 7:29:34 AM UTC by Fun***

Call me naive, but isn't steel, steel? If not, what kinds are there?
Coasters use carbon steel for their track and supports. While a stainless steel coaster would look really cool, and we would never have to argue about whether its paint has faded, the incremental cost compared to carbon steel is too high to justify.
Awesome thanks for the help!
As Shades pointed out, steel can vary depending on what other elements or compounds are mixed with it (nickel, carbon, titanium, etc.) for different uses. And since steel itself is not a single material, the mix can be adjusted to provide materials of different strengths.
Like Shades said, it must be carbon steel; however, there are many different steels made with different carbon percentages. Also, the manufacturing process affects the properties of the steel (whether it be more ductile, more brittle, etc.). Unfortunately I can't really provide any insight into what they use other than it's probably multiple types for multiple applications. ASTM-A36 is a fairly common structural steel.

Being the nerd that I am, I often wonder what yield and/or ultimate stress the steel that they use has.

I would guess they're actually using A50 by now. Using A36 these days is akin to using a Pentium-II computer ... you could, and it would probably get the job done, but why when there are much better products on the market for a similar or less cost?

That'd be carbon steel at 50 ksi yield strength for all you geeks who care :)

Actually, for the different applications, you're more likely to be looking at different paints than different steels. It's a lot cheaper to get a paint that's more resistant to sea salt or extreme heat than it is to try and get a custom-mix steel compound. Especially at hte prices that steel goes for these days.

Brett, Resident Launch Whore Anti-Enthusiast (the undiplomatic one)
There are different steel, and usually based on the carbon content found in the steel. According to an article written a few years ago, they were using A-36 carbon steel at the time. Mechanical properties include a yield strength of 36Ksi and ultimate tensile strength of 58-80Ksi. The article is really good and discusses at the time some of the new materials used in roller coasters and might be of some help to you.

There are may hardnesses of steel used for different purposes. It's what is added to the iron ore and how fast it cools that determines these factors.

I know Nickle and Carbon are two additives.


I can imagine that they would use low carbon structureal steel for high ductility. While the tensile strength may not be very high at 62 KPSI, the toughness is high.

You can think of toughness as what happens when you hit it with a sledge hammer. Glass isn't tough so it shatters, steel should be tough and not shatter.

Welding process would more than likely be a low hydrogen method. Stick welding with a 6010 root pass electrode and 7018 electrode for the rest would be the best case. They might use a sub arc to protect the weld. Preheating and controlled interpass temperatures would likely be used.

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