Design of a Roller Coaster

Lately we’ve been working on the design of our wooden roller coaster.  From the velocity calculations, to the layout and banking, the wooden roller coaster is coming together.

To create the ride we chose to calculate a profile that’s based on horizontal distances represented in the ride layout.  When you cross the vertical profile by the horizontal layout you get a three dimensional (3D) spacial curve.

The velocities, accelerations, and forces are determined primarily from the vertical profile numbers.  Once the vertical numbers are determined, they can be projected along the horizontal layout.  The results of projecting vertical calculations across the horizontal layout is banking and batter (support) values.

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More to come soon!
We will also be presenting at the Atlanta Maker Faire this October 3rd and 4th in downtown Decatur, Georgia.  Hope to see you guys there.

Maker Faire Atlanta for more details!  

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From Car to Car

The linking of multiple cars to the lead car is a very important aspect of a roller coaster’s design. For our coaster, we will be utilizing a ball joint connect.

The overall benefit of using ball joints to couple cars together is the freedom of rotation. Since the cars are traversing a track that follows 3D curves, the ball joint offers little to no resistance while following the ride centerline. 
In order for these joints to work properly, they must be in alignment with the road (top) wheel. The cars will naturally follow the path the road wheels ride upon, and since that closely represents the ride centerline, the ball joint allows a continuous car. Keep in mind that the wheel to wheel spacing must be equidistant or else the joints serve no purpose.
Many companies use this type of car connection; however, only one company places their axles in alignment with the joint. Great Coasters International couples their cars properly, and this produces a smooth and fluid ride experience.

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A Car is Born

It’s a great feeling to go from an idea to design to fabricated object.  Yesterday we assembled the first articulating car prototype.

The lead car has a roll feature to allow for banking of the track sections.  This roll is allowed by flanged bearings and an aluminum pin.  Now the problem…

The pin allows too much wobble through articulation, so we think extending it to the front of the lead car will solve this problem.  By having more stability, the car will be guided by the track instead of the cars varying momentum.

Enough about that, here are some photos of it and later this week we will upload testing videos!


Notice the standard three-wheel design in the above photo.  

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New Tools and Software 

Now that things are coming together easier than ever before, we have new tools and software to help us building our roller coaster cars.  

One of the best things we have come across is HSM Express for AutoCAD Inventor.  To program a CNC milling machine your design files must be converted into code that the machine reads: called G-Code.  Certain software to produce this code is either expensive or lacking certain features.  HSM Express is a cheaper and more robust alternative.

This new software makes roughing cuts and finishing passes seamless.  The picture above is for the lead car that mounts upstop wheels and side rolling wheels.

Now the new tools…

After following John Saunders from NYC CNC and Saunders Machine Works, we learned of the quality machining tools produced by Lakeshore Carbide.  

Lakeshore Carbide has great tools that provide beautiful surface finishes.  Since this was our first time using a roughing end mill, basically a cutting tool to remove bulk material, we were impressed with the quality and speed of cut.  Then, the finishing end mill, fancy spiral one up top, produced an almost mirror like finish.


We will continue to order from the guys at Lakeshore Carbide and promote them because we use them.  Quality tools, affordable, and made in the U.S.A.

The next tool we purchased was a miniature face mill.  Since we use a small Taig CNC milling machine, we often don’t have the power or rigidity to use fancy cutting tools.  This mini face mill happens to fit right in our wheel house.

Using carbide inserts, a beautiful surface finish is produced every time.  Now our roller coaster cars will be the shiniest and smoothest around!


Check back soon as we test these magnificent cars! 

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The Prototype

If you’ve been following us on our various social media outlets, then you know we are working on a prototype aluminum car.  The car will have an in depth YouTube video later this week to go over the ins and outs of its design.

But if you haven’t, then this is what we’ve been working on…

In the above picture is the Aluminum Articulating car.  It’s always amazing to go from design to tangible object.   However, you may notice a slight difference in some of the wheels and components of the car that were not present in previous designs.

Since the aluminum car is not a solid object, we were plagued with the task of making the simplest and most efficient car possible.  All the while, it had to be easy to machine and assemble.


Learning the necessity of “wiggle room” on a part that’s to be assembled was a bit of a hurdle.  This was never more apparent than when we had to place road axles and blind rivets.

So far, the use of blind rives has been one of the best decisions made in rapid and repeatable assembly.  Since rivets can’t come loose under vibration, for our purposes, they act similarly to welded connections on larger scale rides.


We will have more updates to come this week!  Follow along on our YouTube Channel, Facebook, and Tiwtter.  We will also have some live broadcasts if you follow us on Periscope. 

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We are Back in Business!

After a short stint of healing up, we are back to our fabrication of the Biggest Little Ride the world has ever seen.

Since our designs are complete for our highly articulating trailered roller coaster cars, we began machining the designs.




The final picture above is an attempt at machining our under carriage assembly which will hold the side rolling wheels and upstop wheels.

Unfortunately, removing the excess aluminum proved to be problematic and the part failed under the machining stresses.  We have come up with an alternative that will allow us to drill the rivet holes and remove excess metal in one process.

This weekend we will be testing out the lead car assembly on our test track to analyze the car’s maneuverability. 

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Production Halted…for now.

It appears that our roller coaster fabrication will be halted for a few weeks.  

Fortunately, everyone is alright.  But, it seems like we need to build a new car…perhaps an aluminum roller coaster car.  

Since we have some spare time now, we will continue to work on design.  Fabrication will resume in a few weeks and it produce some truly great things.  Thanks for following along, and we will update you as soon as possible.

Perhaps the new model… 

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Ramping Up Production

Lately, we’ve been ramping up our production of the PreFab mini wooden roller coasters.  We have made advancements in a sturdy foundation system, and large scale assembly will be taking place later in the week.

One key thing to consider when fabricating rides, large or small, is to make sure they fit prior to shipping the parts to the job site.  Now, this is usually something that must be checked for steel roller coasters, but since our wooden coasters are machined to be in alignment it is good practice for us too!



Later this week we will begin full-scale assembly of the PreFab miniature wooden roller coaster, and we will be uploading a video to our YouTube channel.  The video will show a few cars moving in our testing phase.  Thanks for following along. 

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Machining and Assembling

It’s finally becoming time to assemble and test what we’ve been designing for so long.  

Since the last update, we switched to machining our Prefab track out of Poplar wood due to its strength and machinability.

Once we successfully fabricated the supports and track, we needed to mill our track brackets from our miniature angled aluminum.

Despite how simple these parts were to make, they are incredibly cool and aesthetically pleasing.

Next we tried our hand at assembling the various parts for the beginning of the station.

Although it’s not visible in the picture above, the station slopes downward at two (2) degrees to allow the train to depart the station under its own gravity.

Keep in mind the steel rails have not been installed which would allow the friction to be minimized.  However, the car chassis did in fact roll down the slopes track as expected.

Now the problems….

The assembly, albeit as designed, was a complete bitch and is too cumbersome for the average person to complete.  We are now looking into making it simpler and more of a press-fit assembly.  We will also be uploading a video soon with our progress.

We have some big things in the works, and many of you have asked when we would sell these rides, track sections, or even cars.  These comments and questions have not fallen on deaf ears, and we do have some possibilities in store and will hopefully be met soon.  Thanks, guys! 

Coast on…

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Let’s build a Wooden Roller Coaster

We are nearing our tremendous breakthrough, guys!  The components of our miniature wooden roller coaster are being machined and will soon be assembled.

From our design files we made in AutoCAD Civil 3D, even the largest of obstacles were overcome.

Designing The Chain Lift

The design files are still in the works, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t started fabricating our li’l working ride.  We tried machining the wood that was ordered a few months ago in anticipation…yes, we were excited.  However, Basswood proved to be too brittle and created way too much dust.

Machining Basswood

Track Layout Machining

The Final Cut

We soon found out that machining Basswood would produce an error.  Shortly after the above photos were taken a piece of track broke off cleanly.  Since we had one more operation to perform, drilling the track mounting holes, we cut our losses and decided to inspect the ALMOST track sections.

PreFab Rails

Since a roller coaster design incorporates hi-order spline curves, the CNC milling machine provides the precision necessary to cut the track accurately.  Basically fancy circle like bends along the ride offering smooth ups and downs.

Since our Basswood attempts failed repeatedly, we began our search for new building materials.  The wood we have chosen to use due to its strength, availability, and cost was “Poplar.”  So, we began to cut our designed supports out of the Poplar wood planks.

Setting the Poplar

After building a fixture plate to machine our wooden structure, we began the machining operations one by one.




The machining was executed flawlessly.  The Poplar was a success, and we made more of the supports.  Each support took approximately 10 minutes to complete.  This included spotting, drilling, and profile cutting.




Our next update will show the machining of our aluminum track brackets, more track sections, and possibly a rolling test of our miniature PreFab Wooden Roller Coaster!



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