Has the heyday of tubular steel track (the Matterhorn was the first attraction in history to use it) come and gone? Check out this new track design that Imagineering may be using in future coaster-style attractions:
“The rail technology is different from previous roller coasters in that it is a box-beam, square metal track,” says Rocky Mountain Construction Design Engineer Alan Schilke. “An older track-fabrication method — still in use today — is to build up tracks by laminating pieces of lumber together. Trouble is, today’s coasters hold such heavy loads and undergo such extreme forces that wooden track can no longer withstand the forces without frequent repair. We have laid traditional wood track, but I thought there must be a better method.”
The result was the box-beam track, says Schilke. “With this approach, we cut large, flat sheets of mild steel plate on large plasma cutters. We weld the flat shapes longitudinally with typical wire-feed equipment to produce a three-dimensional rail.” Automated buggies carry welding equipment and lay down the welds. The welds are cleaned and then inspected using magnetic particle testing for cracks, deviations, and pockets. Finished 3D lengths run from 40 to 50-ft long.