The Gravity Group unveils new trains

Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2008 2:48 PM | Contributed by Rob Ascough

The engineers at The Gravity Group started with a blank sheet of paper and ended up with the next generation of trains for wooden roller coasters."

"Timberliners incorporate new technology - such as magnetic braking and restraint monitoring - that wasn't even imagined when wooden coaster cars were first developed," says Michael Graham, lead engineer for the project. "When it comes to wooden coasters, The Gravity Group has more experience designing rides than anyone. We've applied that expertise in designing trains that addresses every facet of roller coaster performance and function - from maintenance and safety to rider enjoyment and capacity."

Timberliners are designed to be compatible with existing wooden coasters, allowing a park to upgrade their roller coasters with Timberliner trains.

Read more from The Gravity Group.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 2:54 PM

"Launch system capable"

OMGWTFBBQ?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 3:03 PM

"Innovative restraint system for unsurpassed safety and security"

Read: no more air time . . .

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 3:57 PM

PTC's failure to innovate and give designers what they needed is going to cost them a lot of business.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 4:01 PM

Good!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 4:26 PM

I sure hope they track as well as their last attempt at train design. After all, the Lost Coaster is known for being such a smooth ride...

-Nate

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 4:37 PM

coasterdude318 said:I sure hope they track as well as their last attempt at train design. After all, the Lost Coaster is known for being such a smooth ride...-Nate

Ridden it lately? The only time I would have considered that coaster rough was first year and that was track issues and time constraints, not to mention the very first of their kind.I have faith in Mike Graham, The mans a genious and very nice to boot, not to mention a enthusiast himself.Chuck, saying Ride wise they can't be much different than the MF trains if truelly done right and this is just a slight varriation on Prior and Churches 1920s-30s design. The main thing is, MAINTENCE WILL BE MUCH LESS on the track.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 4:43 PM

Neat. I hope we see some of these verrry soon. :)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 5:01 PM

"Launch system capable."

Hmm. Should be interesting to see which park will take up the task of guinea pigging the world's first catapult wooden roller coaster.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 5:08 PM

...or which park dumps their PTCs for shiny new GGTs :)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 5:41 PM

One thing I think we can count on...

The Timberliners will be accommodating to riders with long legs. :)

Someone mentioned restraints? Unfortunately, I can guarantee you this (the following is adapted from ASTM F 2291-06a:6.4.3.8-6.4.3.9 inclusive):

1) A restraint device provided for each individual patron

2) Final latching position variable in relation to the patrons, for instance, a bar or a rail with multiple latching positions

3) Restraint device is automatically locked

4) Only the operator shall manually or automatically unlock the restraint

5) An external correct or incorrect indication is required. Detecting the failure of any monitored device shall either bring the ride to a cycle stop or inhibit cycle start

6) May be manually or automatically opened or closed

7) Redundancy shall be provided for the locking device function

8) Two restraints, or one fail-safe restraint is required. This may be accomplished through the use of a secondary restraint with the following minimum characteristics:

a) May be for an individual patron or a collective device for more than one patron

b) Final latching position may be fixed or variable in relation to the patron

c) Only the operator may manually or automatically lock the restraint

d) Only the operator may manually or automatically unlock the restraint

e) No external incication is required other than a visual check of the restraint itself

f) May be manually or automatically opened or closed

g) Redundancy of the locking device is not required. Locking and unlocking of the secondary shall be independent of the primary restraint.

Interesting thing to note...look at (c) and (d) up there. Notice that means that all of those coasters out there with seat belts DO NOT comply with F2291:6.4.3.8 as the parks may claim. That may not be the case with the failsafe belts that attach to the lap bars, but all those PTC trains with the lap bars and seat belts do not meet these requirements, and neither do the GCI Millennium Flyers unless their lap bar is considered failsafe (which it might be).

Now these are the requirements that the Gravity Guys are working with. The comments they make about increasing capacity are interesting; I wonder if that means they have come up with a design (I can think of a pretty easy way to do it...) that liberates us from seat belts. Note also that while the standard requires an adjustable restraint, it doesn't say anything about how it is supposed to interact with the rider. Is it possible that those gentlemen of gravitas, who also happen to be coaster enthusiasts and who have been careful to built lots of airtime into their best rides, actually understand the mechanics of keeping people inside the train and understand that "tighter" != "safer"?

Looking at the partial rendering on the Timberliner postcard, I already see a pilot wheel ahead of the leading road wheel. I wonder if Mike learned his lesson from LoCoSuMo and put another one behind it...

I'm excited. I want to see one of these things. :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 7:15 PM

Am I seeing a OTSR type lapbar?I really can't tell by the pic im seeing.Chuck

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 10:32 PM

I briefly talked to the guys today. I don't know which parts are on the record and which are not, but the overall impression I get is that a hundred years of non-innovation at PTC is finally being called out. I don't think tighter is the solution for safer. Rather, safer means more comfortable.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008 10:49 PM

Well, it looks like Gravity Group will no longer use PTC trains. When looking at the <cough> highly reliable <cough> coaster ratings of golden tickets, most of the top 10 wood coasters had PTC trains. I'll be interested to see what the GG trains are like. It would be really interesting to see if they could design a train that was safe and provided very good airtime.

I'm reading the section that states that parks could updgrade existing rides. If this is a PTC compatable upgrade, I would think that even non-CCI/GG rides may be able to get this upgrade. Perhaps trains like this may be able to improve a not so popular wooden coaster at a large lakefront midwest park. Or maybe not.

I've been saying for a few years that Holiday World should get the first launched wood coaster. Looks like GG has the trains capable of this now. Hmmmm......

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 1:28 AM

I wonder if "Launch system capable" means they're also compatible with a cable lift.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 5:29 AM

They probably set it up so it's simple enough (changing one or two parts and a few bolts) to use ANY system.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 6:26 AM

pkidelirium said:I wonder if "Launch system capable" means they're also compatible with a cable lift.

I doubt it, Cable lifts are a sled that require a catch plate on the lead or second car.Why would you do that when you could technically use the LSM as a lift at any speed you want?, Even use it for slow propulsion to make a darkride or interactive ride.The term upgradable is that they will fit existing coasters, I highly doubt we see many retro fits as the cost of a train or multi trains far outweights several years of maintainance and PTCs good point is they last and parts are bolt on easily replaceable.Kumback coasters designed some open sided trains for Stampida a couple years back. I don't see them doing a whooping train buisness.TGG did this for the exact same reasons GCII ditched PTC several years ago. PTC's don't track well due to long wheelbase. They wear out track in stess places for three reasons, The wheelbase creates a twist on the track in turn situations and even at the apex of a hill. Also the number of road wheels (Four per car) alone wears more on the track. And last but not least, The full articulation of the PRior and Church design alows for much more convoluted design. I even talked with the GCI guys telling them they don't use it to its full advantage, Technically you could have one car totally turned sideways to the right while the one behind it is left. Certainly you can't do that in space speed situations but things like WHACKY TRACK ect are totally possible and would be totally comfortable at low speeds. Heck you could even make a long straight speed section that went 90* from left to right instead of just a curve. Have a coaster do a U Turn in about a 15ft circumfrence.Tons of advantages to full articulation but the main reason is WEAR and TEAR reduction.Beast with these trains would need no brakes and 2/3rds less maintainance but I don't see it happening any time soon unless the trains themselve are wore out.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 10:38 AM

Methinks Mr. Nungester is excited. No? ;)

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 11:09 AM

Wish they could have had these ready for RF2, I have a feeling that ride is going to degrade pretty poorly.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 11:21 AM

IMHO PTC never improved wood coasters, In fact reverted them in several ways to stone age status. The roughness from the flex of the length of chaissis, Putting people in a two by two box. Inability to turn even with articulation.Yeah, IM exhialarated, not for just the types of rides were gonna get but for the future of a bunch of great guys buisness! I believe whole heartedly that maintainence cost were the sole hold up on them making more than one coaster a year

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