Featured Photo #17 – A Picture Worth a Thousand Headaches

Coasterology Featured Photos

 

Arrow Wheels and Track - Loch Ness Monster

When I took Busch’s Roller Coaster Tour, I got an up-close view of the cause of so many painful looping coaster rides over the years. In Nessie’s belly, I and the other members of the tour were able to check out blueprints on the wall, hold some wheels, and learn how this great coaster operates. There was also the frame of the defunct Python from Busch Gardens Tampa sitting on a track. There, I could plainly see the distance between some of the wheels and the track. That ‘imperfection’ causes the bumpiness we’ve all experienced on Arrow loopers (and likely other coasters). The tour guides explained that Arrow coasters weren’t designed as precisely as say, today’s B&M coasters that are designed with a tolerance that’s a fraction of an inch.

As you can see from the photo, not all of the wheels touch the track at the same time. Look at the gap between the side friction wheel on the right and the track. That gap plus over-the-shoulder restraints equals roughness in the way of head banging. Roller Coaster Train Track Wheels

Busch does an excellent job with ride maintenance from what I can tell. They explained the replacement process for the wheels during the tour. It made me wonder what kind of procedures other parks have and whether they replace wheels as often. So, the roughness I’m referring to doesn’t really apply to Loch Ness Monster. At thirty-plus years old, the ride is no spring chicken, but it’s a good bit smoother than many younger steel loopers I’ve encountered.

It’s not breaking news that roller coasters can be rough, I just thought it was neat to see one of the causes of that roughness.

Check out more photos from Busch Gardens Williamsburg Roller Coaster Tour here and here.

What’s Your Take?
What do you think of this photo? What do you think of rough steel coasters? Leave a comment below.

Photos, content, and the most insightful, entertaining, or amusing reader comments from my Photo of the Week posts will be included my new book. Read more about my book project. All images are the property of TheCoasterCritic.com

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

13 Comments

  1. Worst case sceanario: Drachen Fire

    That's the only NEW Arrow coaster that ever gave me a horrible headache At 8:00 am! Ruined my day and coudn't enjoy the rest of the ERT's. Even the Big Bad Wolf, which I loved!

    Reply
  2. And, yeah, Nessie still rides pretty sweet. I have a soft spot for it as it was my first Arrow looper. (Sooper Dooper Looper was my first, albeit a bit disappointing.)

    Reply
  3. learning is cool! thanks cc. i'd love to see more "laymen's terms" explanations of how and why coasters work the way they do. the physics and such are way over my head but this kind of thing is great: simple, logical, very interesting.

    that all being said, i wonder why they didn't close up their tolerances with these things? seems like common sense to me that if you can stick your hand between the track and wheel, there is a problem.

    Reply
  4. I ALMOST went on the Python for my first looping coaster. I'm glad i didn't seeing that atrocity. By the way, I went on Kumba recently and for some reason I experienced an awful lot of head-banging during the corkscrews. Anybody have any info as to why Kumba has gotten rougher?

    Reply
  5. Nice picture, it certainly shows how coasters have changed over the years, now most (or all) ride manufacturers have shock absorbers so there is no space between the wheels and the track.

    Reply
  6. I wonder if it's possible to modify the trains to get rid of the gap between the wheels and the track. Maybe they did that on the Carolina Cobra.

    Reply
  7. That is really interesting to learn! One would think Arrow would have fixed that problem so they could continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the coaster world instead of letting it go and going under. Shame, really.

    Reply
  8. Was the Python train relocated from Florida? Cause Python was removed to make way for Sheikra right? How far is that space between the wheels? I can't wait til I visit the bowels of BGW.

    Reply
    • I only like head-banging at a concert.

      Reply
    • Python was removed to make room for Jungala, which is a family-themed area. Don't think it was relocated though. It was pretty old…

      Reply
    • Python wasn't relocated, but rather demolished and smelted for it's steel like Drachen Fire. It had three trains that were saved though. The first now resides in a museum in Busch Gardens Tampa. The Second was repainted and sent to serve as an extra train for Nessie. What you are looking at are the remnants of the third train.

      Reply
  9. If they were to close the gap on arrow coasters, then, they would be very smooth and much better. Perhaps bigger wheels would work…

    Reply
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