Why do coasters have differant support types?

Monday, August 24, 2009 10:39 PM

I was at six flags great America this weekend, and noticed while on batman, that the lift supports are differant than other inverts.

Batman has an I-beam type support on the lift.


And others like raptor and silver bullet have this type...



I would think that it would be more cost efective to go with the I-beam structure, rather that the large steel tube type supports. I woulden't think that the height of the ride would have much to do with it, as the rides are not a whole lot bigger than the other is height wise.

Is there a reason that they went with the larger supports on some inverts, and not others?

Monday, August 24, 2009 10:45 PM

I think maybe age and designer may have something to do with it, and if i am not mistaken Batman was the first invert with a loop?

Monday, August 24, 2009 10:50 PM

I'm guessing it's just due to engineering advances. As time continues, companies are looking for the most cost-effective way to maintain a structurally sound coaster, and they're coming up with better ways to do it. I think that's why you're seeing the tubular supports on many B&M's nowadays, and it appears to be less and less at that. Diamondback and Behemoth are good examples. The same applies to other companies too, I'm just using B&M as an example.

Monday, August 24, 2009 10:55 PM

I thought of that also, but raptor was built in 94 and batman at magic muntain was built the same year. They both have differant supports.

Same with the batman in St louis, texas, and atlanta were all built after raptor.

Talon at dorney, is slightly taller than batman, and has the larger supports as well. It was also built after raptor(2001).


Last edited by crazy horse, Monday, August 24, 2009 10:58 PM
Tuesday, August 25, 2009 12:12 AM

B:TRs being clones, will all have the same supports, it would have cost SF money for them to have B&M design the ride with new supports.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 11:25 AM

But why would B&M switch the the bigger supports that cost more on most all other inverts?

If the I-beam design works, then why not imploment it any other invert? Just seems like it would be a way to save a few bucks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 11:36 AM

Well I know that the reasoning behind the different supports on Alpengeist's lift hill was for space reasons. They could not build their normal tubular supports because of the path and buildings that are located under the lift.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009 12:08 PM

I thought the reason for Alpengeist was entirely aesthetic, to give a ski lift tower appearance to the ride.

The bigger tubular supports of every ride that's not a Batman clone might be larger, but on many of the newer rides, there are a lot fewer of them. Look at Talon, for example.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 12:29 PM

That was my original belief until I went on the VIP tour earlier this year there. We had a very good guide who told us a lot of interesting facts that I had never heard of. The ski lift look actually came by accident because of the path and the shop that's located right below the lift.

Edit: I figured I should further explain the difference. The "ski lift" style supports enter the ground straight down from the track, where as the tubular supports would have the right angle and enter the ground about 5 ft. away from the track on the side.

Last edited by coasterguy3014, Tuesday, August 25, 2009 12:38 PM
Tuesday, August 25, 2009 2:43 PM

The alpi supports look skimpy. It does not look like it could support the weight of the lift, but it does.


Again, it looks like it would be cheaper to build a coaster using that style or the i-beam style lift supports.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 5:24 PM

I wonder if ground density beneath the coaster plays a part in deciding how many footers and columns are necessary to adequately distribute the weight.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 6:31 PM

Fun, yes-- not necessarily the ground density, but it's ability to bear the pressure of the forces exerted on it by the weight of the structure. Weaker soil will require larger foundations so the force can be spread over a greater area.

Jeff has the right idea in his post. The cost of steel is determined by weight. So if you have larger supports, but fewer of them, it may cost less than a larger number of smaller supports. It also looks like the Batman ride has a lot more bracing and intermediate supports (which adds weight in itself) than either Raptor or Talon.

If you can, picture whatever forces the support has to handle (structure weight, weight of train and occupants, wind, laterals of moving train, etc.) moving right down the center of the support from the top to the foundation. In circular members, every point is stressed equally because they are the same distance from the center. In other shaped members, not so much, (although for example the flanges of an I-beam will be used to resist lateral forces). For this reason, it can be argued that circular members are more efficient.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 6:41 PM

What's it all about, Alpi?

Look at the difference in the support structure of Millenium Force and Intimidator 305. What a difference a decade makes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 6:47 PM

True. Between advances in metalurgy, inovations in structural engineering, and better stress testing software, you've got a prefect storm for doing more with less.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 7:37 AM

It's possibly also about location - do you build a 150ft coaster in an area with a known hurricane season (like florida, for example) the same way as you do a 150ft coaster in an area that doesn't have regular high winds, but has say snow/extreme cold instead?

The weather the coaster will be exposed to will change depending on where it's located, so it makes sense to me the support system is different too.

That's my theory anyway hehe

Thursday, August 27, 2009 12:10 AM

What about sound reduction? Perhaps some parks were more concerned with how loud their coaster was. I believe a lot of the steel coasters with the big, round steel supports are filled with sand for noise reduction. Perhaps that wasn't as big of a concern for Batman as it was with Raptor and other rides with the round supports.

Just another option to ponder. Might be a good reason, might not be. It's hard to tell with the large variety of support configurations out there.

Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:32 PM

I heard and saw on a show that the B&M track, box supports are filled with sand, to keep the noise down. Never heard of filling the support columns with sand.

Last edited by Daniel Smith, Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:33 PM
Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:56 PM

That's what they do on the Intamin rides. Makes a lot more sense to me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:59 PM

I did not know that, are they filled up all the way or half?

Thursday, August 27, 2009 11:02 PM

Well they put the plugs up near the top, so I assume as much as possible.


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