Fabrication and the New Lathe

Although it’s been a little while between posts, we will work on rolling out a new post once a week along with a YouTube video on our channel. Basically, the videos will cover our machining antics and discuss how we are building miniature roller coasters.

Fabrication has been up and down, in keeping with the theme of roller coasters. We are not shy of throwing a pun around once in a while, either.


We began our solid non articulation car attempt as a first run.



After cutting the car frame from a larger piece of metal with holding tabs, we noticed a need to clean the edges. Unfortunately, it was not cleaned to our liking.




The decision was made to fabricate a specialty fixture plate from 6061 aluminum. This plate would have five threaded holes to align and secure the squared stock.





After threading the holes and bolting the fixture plate to the mill, we were ready to machine a car in one operation.




Now the machining of bearings and bushings had to be completed. We were using a Taig Micro Lathe. Albeit an accurate machine, it lacked the power and little extras needed for our purposes.

We invested in the Microlux Deluxe 7×16 mini lathe from Micro Mark and it arrived within a few days.




We are still assembling the lathe, but are anxiously awaiting a trial run. There will be some calibrations and we hope to produce a video of our experiences.

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Queuing Up.

We haven’t updated in a while, but we haven’t been slacking on progress.  As of earlier this month, we are now a registered business: The Roller Coaster Project, LLC.  Though many of you already know of our Coaster knickknacks in our Store, we have big things in the works and creating our business entity is just the beginning.

This November we will be attending the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Florida.  We will work on bringing the Biggest Little Ride to more people worldwide, and we hope to meet some of our fans, Kickstarter backers, or just roller coaster enthusiasts like us!



Moving on to what’s been happening around the shop…

We’ve been wrapping up our Kickstarter rewards and sending them to our wonderful backers, while simultaneously  working on something new.  There will be more mentioned about this “new” object soon, but hopefully it’ll grace your desktop in the near future.

Since our campaign ended, we have been working diligently to complete and ship the various rewards.  In making these rewards, we have had to learn new skills and research many fields of science and engineering and manufacturing.  To build some of the rewards we had to create custom tools to accomplish the job.  Below are pictures of mild steel being turned on a lathe prior to being heat treated.







Using the MAPP gas torch, we were able to heat the metal to roughly 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once the metal was bright orange, we immediately quenched it in warm water to strengthen the crystal structure.  We then ground the metal with our grinding wheel to the desired angles.  Finally, we heated the metal to regain some durability and let it slowly cool.  The tool above is a boring bar used for our small axles.

Next, we focused on minor electrical engineering and circuits.  To power our ride we are using a 12V electric motor that is stepped down from a wall outlet.  The power supply below does all the heavy work, and a fuse after ensures safety.





From the hi-torque electric motor, a system of pulleys will increase the overall torque and lower the speed to drive our cars up the lift hill via roller chain.

To machine parts of our cars, we surfaced the 6061 aluminum with our trusty fly cutter on the Taig Mill.  Thanks to Dan DeArmond for some suggestions to ensure accurate, smooth, cutting.  Feel free to stop by Dan’s site if you’re interested in learning to machine and want a benchtop mill yourself: DeArmond Tool.





We had to make specialty lateral clamps to hold down our thin stock material after surfacing.  Once the material was held in place and aligned, we proceeded to mill the car dimensions.



We removed more metal with this one car than we have through machining to this point.

Next, the bolt holes needed to be spotted and drilled.  However, this was more of a trial run and we noticed a few areas that need improvement.







We will be refining some fabrication practices, but we should have a car completed within days.  Be on the lookout for a pretty large update, and we will work on uploading videos to our Construction Log soon.

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Do you carry keys with your keychain?

We have now produced our Kickstarter keychain rewards. There might be some slight modifications for future sale, but we are happy to provide our wonderful backers with full metal keychains.


Of the many firsts for the shop and Project, perhaps the one were are most proud of is breaking our first end mill. Why are we happy? We just learned some limitations involved with CNC milling, and that’ll prove to be useful in the future.




The unfortunate part of breaking the end mill mid cut was that we ended up with a slightly rough edge. But, invested in some new files and a grinding wheel to adjust the parts.

One the parts were finished, we drilled the keyring holes and chamfered the edges.



All that remained was to apply some paint to the engraved areas and sand the metal to provide a brushed aluminum finish.


We just ordered wood to build the mini coasters, and hopefully next week out test structure will be assembled. The Roller Coaster Project shirts are still being shipped and we hope to hear from our backers.

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Around the horn…or shop.

Lately we’ve been extremely busy making the Kickstarter rewards: namely the keychains. The shirts have arrived and all will be shipped this weekend. As for the mini roller coasters, they will be finished by July then sent out.



The shirts look great, and we are excited to receive feedback from our wonderful backers.

Next, we are manufacturing keychains from metal, as opposed to 3D-printed ABS plastic.


Before we could machine the stock, we had to do some repairs/change of cutting disk for out lil’ cut off saw.




From pushing down too hard during aggressive cutting, we accidentally sheared the cutting disk. Oops!

After repairing the cut off saw, we tried our hand at cutting aluminum stock. We first attempted to make the keychains from stainless steel; however, we failed numerous times and the worst resulted in throwing the Taig’s Z-column out of alignment. So, we went with some 6061 aluminum stock.


The largest obstacle we faced was trying to engrave our wonderful little logo on the aluminum stock. We have performed a few test cuts, and hopefully it’ll work out really well.



Keychains will be added to The Roller Coaster Store very soon, so you have experience thrills on the go.


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The Lathe saga continues.

We’ve been messing around with the lil’ Taig lathe lately. One of the tools to help us achieve our roller coaster parts is a radius turner. Now we can create spherical ball joints for a wide range of motion between the cars.


After turning the excess aluminum from the rod, we used a collet to mount the piece for our next step.



It was a somewhat successful first attempt; however, we might order a more efficient radius turner from Little Machine Shop.



There will be a more updates, soon, filled with side projects.  Most importantly will be a lead screw for the Taig lathe.  Below is a steel cutting session that produced way more sparks than anticipated.


On a Kickstarter note, the shirts have arrived and will be shipped out to our wonderful backers this week!

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The Lathe

The last piece of machinery, hopefully, arrived last night: the Taig Micro Lathe.


After a small required assembly, the lathe was up and running. We purchased some round aluminum stock from Home Depot to “figure out” this lil’ mechanical wonder.




We cut a small piece of stock, and began testing out the various cutting tools.



The lathe is pretty nifty in that the motor’s weight applies tension to the drive belt. The carriage will also travel in increments of 0.001″ per tick mark. It came with a self centering three jaw chuck, but we sprung a little more to get more accurate collets. Our next test will be to test the drill chuck to drill center holes.

Checkout our Lathe in action: Turning Stock

Chamfering Stock

A link to our YouTube Channel can be found in our Construction Log.



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To Maker Faire or not?

ATL Maker Faire

In the past few weeks, The Roller Coaster Project has been contacted by the good folks with The Atlanta Maker Faire.  Unbeknownst to us, they have been following our roller coaster saga and were curious if we would want to show off the lil’ coaster this October to some of the most creative Atlanta has to offer.

Initially, we thought this to be a great idea and tremendous opportunity.  However, if we decide to display this gargantuan feat of miniature scale, then we will have an exacting deadline in place.

In the coming weeks, we will be wrapping up our Kickstarter rewards and shipping them out.  Since we launched The Roller Coaster Store earlier this week, we will soon have to fulfill orders on a grand scale.

Pending the success of our mini roller coaster reward, we will offer it and custom designed rides in our store.  Also, if our mini ride is successful, then we will definitely sign up for the Atlanta Maker Faire.

The real question is: are we brave enough to lower the lap bar and go for the ride?  Currently, we are standing at the entrance evaluating our options.  But, we will hopefully come to our senses and go for a ride.


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Introduction SALE

Type “DISPATCH” when checking out of The Roller Coaster Store to receive an automatic 20% sale!

This sale extends until Friday May 23, 2014.  The train is clear and ready…

TRCP Blueprint_Page_1

The Roller Coaster Project ball cap

U.S. sizes available.
U.S. sizes available.


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The Roller Coaster Store is now OPEN.

Since the success of our Kickstarter campaign, we have wanted to provide you guys with some Roller Coaster gear.  Our Roller Coaster Store will be updated periodically with various Project keepsakes and mini coaster parts.

Coming soon, there will be a mini ride for purchase.


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Big things are coming…

Be on the lookout in the coming days for something BIG, but little at the same time.  For a hint: you’ll be able to tote them around, show them off, or watch them roll.

coming soon.

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