Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!
There are many criterions when it comes to material selection, so you've to make optimal choices, or rather good compromises as usually there's no ideal material, especially if costs are considered.
The biggest thing i noticed and that needed to be carefully considerd was the expansion the synthetic material undergoes. Yes well all know wood expands and contracts with the temperature, hense the good days and bad days on many woodies. But, this composite material expands on average almost an inch/10ft/10 degrees F. Which is a lot considering the cold winters and hot summers of the midwest and N.E.
All in all, some different things that need to be addressed, but that is the great thing about synthetic, changes can always be made.
As far as using this stuff in place of structural lumber, no chance. Cost-prohibitive, and without *value*, perceived or otherwise. ;)
I've got a back porch with a decking made out of Trex™ and a railing made out of some weird composite made out of sawdust and glue and covered with PVC. My experience is that the composite is denser than pine, but much more flexible and in some ways is downright flimsy. I think the only place we're going to see composites of this kind used on coasters is in the platform decking, possibly also on walkboards and handrails. It just doesn't have the properties of the real thing. That said, if you're talking about composites which are mostly wood, such as pressure laminated beams and products such as OSB, I can see that being used for special circumstances. There was originally some talk of using a laminated wood structure for the loop on Son of Beast, but ultimately they opted for steel instead.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Quoting John F. from the Turns thread "Obelisk say not to spend too much money on barrel-faced contraption." I think the same could be said for these composites...unless you're getting something out of them that you can't get from regular lumber, cost should be the deciding factor.
You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)
The biggest factor would be cost, as the composite stuff was priced about 2x as much as treated pine. Spending extra $500 on porch or deck material and not having to worry about painting/staining/ replacement for 50 years is a good investment. Spending an extra few million though to upgrade to wood composite on a coaster might not be an attractive option.
As someone mentioned the composite stuff expands and contracts like crazy. It may actually be harder to do daily maintenance because of all the shifting. It was harder to work with as well, as pilot holes and special screws are needed.
It’s an interesting concept; maybe as the technology improves and the price comes down it can be feasible
I'm not saying though that they couldn't develop something in the future that would be strong enough, just that they are not strong enough today.
I don't expect anything new: Either wood or steel. Reinforced concrete would be possible for support structures but for various reasons it is not much an option.
Most woodies are based on a quite "primitive" wood assembly system, technically it would be possible to manufacture very smooth prefabricated track elements but do we really want woodies to become like steel coasters?
Mixed wood/steel structures are probably the least expensive ones in some cases but I find them ugly.
Edited: It's wrong to state that composite materials are not strong enough as such, in many cases it could be done but would just be too expensive, for example, steel parts are usually far less expensive than carbon fiber reinforced parts; of course many parts cannot be manufactured in composite materials.
*** Edited 4/24/2007 3:56:17 AM UTC by Vallean*** *** Edited 4/24/2007 3:57:17 AM UTC by Vallean***
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