Eamon Kelly - Roller Coaster Design

Discovering the Thrill of Engineering Thrills

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

For the summer of 2010 I've landed a job as a mechanic at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  I've been there 3 weeks now, and it is definitely a cool job.  I work 3rd shift, and my job is to inspect and repair the rides as required.  We mostly work on the roller coasters, but will occasionally work on some of the bigger flat rides like Power Tower or MaxAir.  The coasters that I've worked on are: Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster, Maverick, Magnum, Wicked Twister, Gemini, Corkscrew, Iron Dragon, and Mine Ride. 

The things we do regularly are inspection and replacement.  For example, if a bolt shears off or a nut backs off, we either replace or tighten it back up.  With the brakes, Arrow (Magnum, Gemini, Iron Dragon, Corkscrew, Mine Ride) uses brass pads in their pinch brakes, and after time these wear down and need to be replaced.

On all of the coasters I've worked on, wheels also are a major part of the job.  Since they all have either a Urethane or Nylon coating, they are susceptible to wear and tear.  If a chunk of material comes off during the day, we end up replacing the wheel entirely before it has urethane or nylon reapplied to its surface.  On rides like Millennium, Dragster, and Maverick, the same things need to be done and looked for, with an added element.  These Intamin wheels have an adjustment that allows the wheel to be moved left or right of the center of track, so that when a groove is worn into the wheel's coating, it can be moved to one side or the other to maintain a set clearance between the bogey and the track itself.  This both maintains an exact clearance over the track and extends the life of the wheel.

One of my favorite tasks so far has been the job of pressing the 'Lift Auto Enable' button on Millennium Force.  This button must be pressed every morning, and is located halfway down the first drop.  To get to it, you have to go all the way up and over the first hill.  The reason you do this is is the reason the button is there in the first place.  Along Millennium Force's crest there are 67 shivs that guide the cable lift down to the ground, where another pulley sends it back to the drum.  These need inspection, and in order to make sure that happens, Intamin put in the button so that every morning, and employee must go up and over.  I've done it a few times now, and it is certainly an unforgettable experience.

Great Coasters International, Inc.

I just finished as an intern at Great Coasters from January to June of 2010.  To read more about what I did there, read my Blog.