The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 6, 2014

Goliath rises in Great America skyline

(Continued)

While traditional wooden roller coasters like the American Eagle or Little Dipper at Great America have simple steel plates lining the track where the wheels go, Rocky Mountain instead built a steel trap that encases the wood track and is much stronger.

The company then developed a method of building new wooden coasters that prefabricates computer-designed tracks. Rather than building tracks on-site, as done in the past, Rocky Mountain cuts, flexes and welds the steel into whatever shape is needed and fastens it to laminated pine in the shop, while curving it to within a sixteenth-of-an-inch margin of error over 40 feet of track.

That technique allows the track to bend in ways traditional wooden rides wouldn’t. The company used its new design to retrofit two coasters in Texas — though one site was marred by the death of a person who fell off the ride last summer.

The company wowed riders last year after it built the new Outlaw Run coaster at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo. The ride won a Golden Ticket Award from Amusement Today as the best new amusement park ride of 2013.

Using similar techniques as Outlaw Run, Goliath’s wheels will ride on a metal covering that is also filled with grout to provide more strength and a quieter run — an important concern to neighbors who live near Great America. In addition, the cars will run not on traditional steel wheels but on nylon wheels in the cold and urethane in the heat.

The construction crew of about 35 men from Idaho included former tradesmen, loggers and rock climbers who had worked in more commonplace forms of commercial and residential construction. But as owner Grubb said, “Square (construction) is much easier than what we’re doing but not near as much fun.”

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