# The Wooden Coaster

In this entry, we will be discussing our machining of the wooden roller coaster. We chose to machine our mini rides, and large ride supports, with the Taig CNC mill.

But let’s take a step back and discover where the numbers and code come from…

It all starts with our design phase. In the design phase we have a two dimensional (2D) plan look at where we want the ride to go. Once the layout is determined, we then move to the vertical layout.

This is where the calculations of kinetic and potential energy come into play. For this test track we have calculated one design hill. Based on theoretical friction values from our steel bearing wheels, we want the cars to apex the hill at one (1) foot per second. With these constraints in mind, we created a hi-order polynomial for the hill’s shape. Yes, remember back to Trig and Calculus.

Roller coaster hills are a combination of circular curves and varying parabolic curves.

If you use what’s called a “cross-product” you can cross the plan with the profile and make a three dimensional (3D) curve.

Now that we have our calculated support, or bent, heights, we can machine them with our CNC milling machine.

We begin by drilling the foundation holes and the holes to mount the track brackets. Our next procedure is to use an end mill and cut out the profile shape of the support to our design height.

Now the support is ready to be sanded to remove the holding tabs. Being that this was our first attempt at machining our supports, we kind of messed it up…

We accidentally broke the support while sanding with a router. Since we ruined the support, we decided to try using blind rivets that will hold the track brackets in place.

This design didn’t work since the rivet expanded and broke more of the support. Fortunately we have a few other tricks up our sleeves.

Follow along and “Like” our Facebook page and please offer any tips or suggestions to help build the Biggest Little ride. We’d love to hear from you, and want you to join the ride!

# IAAPA 2014: Part 2 – Visiting the Parks of Orlando

Our first attendance of the IAAPA Trade Expo was a complete success!  So much so that we decided to patron the local parks of Orlando.  By that we mean Fun Spot USA and the various Disney Parks.

Since we are close to the holidays, Disney was celebrating in grand fashion.  Our first stop was the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Disney spared no expense on Christmas decorations and hot chocolate.  Throughout Main Street there were dozens of jazz bands playing Christmas tunes with a bit of Disney flare.

We took a spin the various, classic, rides throughout the park: Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the completely revamped Snow White and Seven Dwarfs mine ride.  The swinging cars on the mine ride were extraordinary!

During the day the park was immaculately clean, but at night it turned into a Winter Wonderland…

We will be uploading a video to our Roller Coaster Log (the YouTube channel) soon with a video recap of the festivities.  In the video you’ll be able to see the fake snow that blankets the park throughout Mickey’s Christmas Party.

Our next park we visited was the always changing EPCOT.

Although EPCOT is promoted as a more educational theme park, it has been updated and reimagined throughout the years.  One of their greatest rides is Mission Space.

Mission Space simulates Man’s colonization of Mars by subjecting its riders through “astronaut” training in a large centrifuge.  The Imagineers are simply brilliant, and their execution of space exploration is unparalleled.

The next stop in EPCOT was another signature “hi-tech” ride: Test Track.  Test Track takes your simulated car through rigorous hi-speed maneuvers and tests.  The highest speed is reached at the end at 64.9 mph.

But, the largest jewel in the EPCOT crown is the EPCOT World Showcase.  There are eleven countries on display around the lagoon and each portrays the culture and customs of the country represented.

EPCOT’s signature night time finale is a grand firework show, and the Christmas decorations were a perfect accent to the park’s beauty.

Our last Disney stop was to Disney Hollywood Studios.  This was a first for us, and it proved to be our favorite.  No offense to the Magic Kingdom.

One thing to note about Disney Hollywood Studios portrays a Hollywood and vaudeville of the 1930s.  Since it looks much the same Los Angeles and Hollywood currently do, it’s actually done to a better degree than the real thing.

One of the best rides in the park is the Rock n’ Roller Coaster with theme music by Aerosmith.  The ride is a Vekoma LSM launch roller coaster shrouded in darkness and New York City traffic.

But the signature ride, and our favorite ride, is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  The Imagineers paid attention to every detail with this ride, and even found a Rod Serling look-alike.

All of the Disney parks are meticulously planned out and comprised. We hope to return soon and visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Our next park was smaller by comparison, however it represented the traditional amusement park: Fun Spot USA.

Fun Spot offers rides ranging from roller coasters, thrill rides, and flat rides.  Perhaps the centerpiece of the park in Orlando is the Great Coasters built White Lightning wooden roller coaster.

In the next post, we will take a look at the rides displayed at the IAAPA Trade Expo!

# IAAPA 2014: Part 1 with a side of Theme Park Review

The IAAPA Attractions Expo began this week in Orlando, Florida.  So far, the show has been a jaw dropper, and especially since it’s our first appearance.  Coasters galore!

Checkout the linked video below, and we will be updating our mini series covering what IAAPA is bringing to world of amusement parks.

Also, we would like to congratulate Skyline Attractions, LLC. for making their first IAAPA appearance, and thank Rob Alvey and the folks of Theme Park Review for some kind word of recognition.  Enjoy.

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# Machining a Roller Coaster Car

Look for Updates from the IAAPA International Amusement Park Trade Expo this week, we will be doing a multipart post along with videos.

Getting down to brass tax…

After finishing the fixture plates from a previous post, we decided to test it out by machining our highly anticipated Aluminum Car.

The fixture worked as anticipated, and allowed for precise repeatability.

In these pictures, below, you can see where the wheel assembly was carefully milled out with a combination of quarter inch and three sixteenth inch end mills.

Once the car pattern was machined from the stock, we then spotted and drilled the alignment pins that will lock the wheels into place. Afterward, the excess aluminum was milled off to match our design measurements.

Now the final seat components had to be machined from aluminum and ABS plastic for the seat backs.

All that remains is to have the windshield engraved and the chassis painted with red and black.

# CNC Milling Fixture Plates on the Taig

We have finished the fixture plate! Our first attempt at repeatable machining was a success.  Checkout the video below and subscribe to our Roller Coaster Log!

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Using our quarter inch carbide end mill, we milled out some 6061 aluminum. After the plate was machined per the design, we moved to the drill press to drill and tap holes to hold fixture clamps.

The holes were first spotted with the milling machine, then drilled with a 3/32nd inch HSS bit. After creating a pilot hole, so the drill bit doesn’t walk, we used a number 21 bit to fit the hole for the tap. Lastly, we used a 10-32 HSS bottoming tap bit and used the drill press to align the hole.

Using a drill press for tapping works wonders, but there is some manual “elbow grease” that will have to be applied…and a lot of cutting fluid. WD-40 works well for machining aluminum.

Below is the finished plate with Mitee-Bite&reg: fixture clamps. These clamps will provide roughly 250 pounds of clamping pressure. With cut and surfaced stock, the fixture holds properly and allows for repeatable milling and accuracy.

# Around the Shop

This update is showing off a few things happening around the shop: progress, cleanup, and happenings.

Something we’ve been working on and will put into use once our fixtures are complete are “finishing” cuts on milling operations.

Now you might be wondering why we haven’t been performing this operation before now. Well, we haven’t really needed a nice surface finish until now. Since we will be anodizing finished roller coaster cars, having a smoother surface finish gives the anodized layer much more appeal.

Moving on, you may remember that we had to update our Taig Micro Lathe to a larger turning machine a few months back. We finally listed and sold the li’l Taig recently on eBay®. We had to perform our “own” packaging antics. Basically a trial run for shipping mini coasters.

And now the cleanup effort…

We had a slight mishap last time we attempted the anodize process. Our dye tank needed to be heated to help the aluminum absorb the coloring; however, the jar we were using cracked under the heat and exploded. The resulting mess was that of a large oil spill on the shop floor…

We attempted to pour a degreaser and water solution onto the concrete floor to soak for a bit, then we covered the area with kitty litter. It didn’t work too well. We will be looking for other, non caustic, ways to remove the stain. Any and all suggestions will be beneficial, so we look forward to hearing them through our Contact Page.

# Fixture Prep.

Since the key to making repeatable parts is a fixture plate, we decided to try our hand at cold rolled steel milling.

We purchased a new “hogging” end mill from McMaster-Carr along with our steel and aluminum plates. There will be a video uploaded soon about the fixture making process and our massive friction saw. Sparks fly EVERYWHERE.

The next step, after sawing, was to square the large plates. Since we’ve performed minimal steel work, this posed a bit of a challenge. But, we have learned to alter the speeds and feeds at which the spindle crosses the part. The outcome was fairly successful.

The next few weeks, we will be preparing for the IAAPA International Attractions Trade Show in Orlando, Florida. We will be meeting with the “big boys” in the industry and making valuable connections. So look forward to our updates beforehand and during the thrilling experience!

# Fly Cutting and Fixture Plates

After speaking to many machinists and machine shop owners at the Atlanta Maker Faire®, the decision was made to work on creating fixture plates to hold multiple workpieces.

This is an example of what we will be machining soon. We will be utilizing Mitee Bite® fixture clamps, and maybe using their Pitbull clamps in the future.

By creating a fixture plate, we can produce multiples of the same part to a high degree of precision. Repeatability is the key. These fixtures will be machined from cold roll 1018 carbon steel. Yes, we’ve never worked with steel before, but we’ve been reading up on speeds and feeds.

This leads us to our trusty spinning friend: the fly cutter. At first use, the fly cutter was truly a four letter word. For our younger enthusiasts, ask your parents what that means…

Our last experience with the fly cutter knocked our Z-column out of alignment, but this time it was much different. We stumbled upon Tom’s Techniques. For anyone interested in machining, definitely checkout Tom’s site. He offers advice, common sense approaches, and reference material to produce tools for machining. Although we frequent NYC CNC often, Tom’s website offers the technical data needed for proper foundation. The image below came from his site, and it helped us make a proper fly cutting tool on our bench grinder.

Once the tool matched the specs, we locked it into the tool holder and began taking a thousandth or two off at a time. The stock was left with a flat and beautiful surface finish, just as Tom said there would be.

We decided to square the large stock at once, then cut it into smaller pieces and finalize the stock dimensions. This will ensure our fixture plates will work as desired.

NOTE: The mill must be trammed in properly and definitely wear shop glasses. Chips go everywhere, despite the enclosure.

# The Atlanta Maker Faire®: A Cinematic Experience

As you guys may have or have not read, the Maker Faire was a complete success!  Now sit back, lower that lap bar, and enjoy a cinematic highlight of the Faire’s events through the eyes of The Roller Coaster Project…

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# Maker Faire® Atlanta Style: Part 2

The weekend at the Atlanta Maker Faire was an undoubted success! We walked the inquiring patrons through the various steps involved in roller coaster design and our progressive timeline.

It was a tad chilly early in the morning; however, it warmed up quickly and the Makers were ready to entertain. The little Solidoodle made an appearance and so did the Taig Micro Lathe. Much of the crowd marveled at the presence of an affordable 3D-Printer and a tiny metal lathe.

Since we were located near both Intel and Google, The Roller Coaster Project decided to pay them a visit and see what’s happen in the world of tech.

We will be uploading a video of the weekend’s festivities later today. It will be able to be viewed on our “Construction Log” YouTube channel. We at The Roller Coaster Project would like to thank the folks at the Atlanta Maker Faire for reaching out to us for presentation and the city of Decatur for allowing so many Makers to inhabit one location.