Sky Trek Tower Questions

All about the rides at Marriott's GREAT AMERICA and post-Marriott rides, too
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RandyV
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Sky Trek Tower Questions

Post by RandyV » Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:10 pm

A couple questions for you park experts out there:

1. Why is the cabin for Sky Trek Tower kept at the top of the tower in the winter? I assume the system works via counter-weight inside the tower and obviously, it's easier to let the counter-weight sit on the ground in the off season.

2. Can the cabin go below ground level? Does the cabin really fit into the hole in the ground at the base of the tower? If not, why did they build a below-ground opening at the base of the tower in the first place?

3. Has the cabin ever been replaced in it's near 30 year existence?

Inquring minds want to know!
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Re: Sky Trek Tower Questions

Post by xxlatinogueroxx » Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:19 pm

3. Yea when Marriott owned the park it said Great America. Now it says Six Flags. I think its obvious for the one in Santa Clara.

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Post by RandyV » Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:33 pm

But was the cabin replaced or did they simply repaint the bottom?
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BrianPlencner
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Re: Sky Trek Tower Questions

Post by BrianPlencner » Sat Nov 19, 2005 7:07 pm

RandyV wrote: 1. Why is the cabin for Sky Trek Tower kept at the top of the tower in the winter? I assume the system works via counter-weight inside the tower and obviously, it's easier to let the counter-weight sit on the ground in the off season.
That is correct. Also, with it being like a giant elevator, the cables for the cabin are on the outside of the tower, when its in the down position. So, in the up position, the cables are inside the tower, which keeps them out of the winter wind, cold, and snow. Yes, its gets cold in the tower, but at least they are not out in the direct snow and ice. Also, as you said, the counter-weight is probably on the ground at that point, instead of up in the air.

RandyV wrote: 2. Can the cabin go below ground level? Does the cabin really fit into the hole in the ground at the base of the tower? If not, why did they build a below-ground opening at the base of the tower in the first place?
Now, that is a good question! :? I've always wondered that myself. It does *look* like it would fit all the way down the pole, but I know it does stop just above it. Of course, I've never been "under" the cabin when it comes down to load / unload guests. The bottom of the cabin may be father down in the hole then we can see from the loading area.
RandyV wrote: 3. Has the cabin ever been replaced in it's near 30 year existence?
As far as I know, it has never been fully replaced. I know that the Gurnee one did get all new windows a few seasons back, and I'm guessing that it gets a paint job every few seasons or so. But, as far as a total replacement, probably not.
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Post by steven » Sat Nov 19, 2005 7:33 pm

I think that Brian has covered most everything. One other advantage to parking the cabin at the top is that it also deters unauthorized entry. Of course both parks have year-round security. But still, if the cabin is up at the top, vandals are far less likely to get in and mess things up.

I don't know about the cabin going below ground level. I figure that the pit is for maintenance use only -- with the cabin parked at its usual ground-level position.

As far as I know, neither cabin (Gurnee or Santa Clara) has been replaced. Brian mentioned that Gurnee's has received new windows in the past. Santa Clara's has, too. Incidentally, the two-story cabin on Astroworld's similar tower was replaced a while back. That tower opened in 1968, however. It was also taken down prior to the park's closing this year.

Steven

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Post by RandyV » Sat Nov 19, 2005 9:42 pm

HA! A stumper. :) It makes sense that the "pit" at the bottom of the tower would be for maintenance, but maintenance of what?

More questions:

Is there anything on the bottom of the cabin that is accessible and would require maintenance access?

Does the counter weight maybe sit at grond level (on a platform or shelf within the tower) when the cabin is at the top, and is there something inside the tower below ground (ride control systems, perhaps) that would require that access? I just don't get why they would spend the time and money excavate below ground and finish it in concrete if there's nothing there ....
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Post by steven » Sat Nov 19, 2005 10:01 pm

Maybe they do a daily inspection of the rollers that are visible along the ring that surrounds the shaft of the tower at the bottom of the cabin ?

Image

In two weeks, I'll probably see someone who would definitely know. I'll try to remember to ask. :)

Steven

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Post by BrianPlencner » Sun Nov 20, 2005 6:29 am

I don't have a picture of it, but I know one of the access panels to the center of the tower is down there, on the exit side of the tower.
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Post by NotBill » Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:25 am

I was lead at Carousel/Tower in Gurnee (the ride unit that handles both rides) in '91 and part of '92. Hopefully I can help with these but remember I was a dumb kid then. :P

On storing it up I never remember it being up all winter, that is usually an in-season thing. In-season the cabin is stored in the up position and maintenance told me that was to prevent unauthorized access.

During the winter, and this gets to your other question, yes it does go further down but not all the way, there's still a part of the cabin above the platform. There was then a large tarp that went up and over that and covered the cabin while it was stored there in the winter. If I'm driving by I will take a peek though but, like I said, I don't think it's stored up in the winter, I'm assuming you were referring to Gurnee with this question.

As far as replacement of the cabin -- nope, not that I'm aware of. Plexiglass windows are changed but not often enough when I was there. The seating and controls were all pretty much your standard 70s fare. Also being a ride operator the gig at Carousel/Tower was not as cool as other assignments, but you sure has heck got to stay cool running controls at Tower since it was one of the few places a ride op could work in the comfort of air conditioning!

Needless to say, I was still proud to be Lead of the unit that ran two signature rides for the park.
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Post by NotBill » Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:31 am

Oh, and on access under the tower there's definitely components that are below ground there or within the tower. There's an access panel into the tower there, there's an access panel inside the cabin itself which is what I believe is commonly used to access a similar tower access door at the top of the tower. Exactly what is there, I don't know, you'd have to be in maintenance to know that and they were oh so secret cruising the employee roads in their beat up pickups! (They did get all the women though!).

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Post by RandyV » Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:05 pm

Tech Services 1 -- any input on the mysterious door at the base of the Sky Trek Tower? :)
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Post by Shockwavegirl » Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:17 am

I can tell you exactly what that door is at the base of the tower. It goes into the tower...there is a spiral staircase in the tower for maintanance to get access to parts inside.

I didn't work Tower when I was there, but I worked on the North side of the park, and I often worked at Space Shuttle America (another ride in the comfort of air conditioning, although the operator of Tower always had another perk....SITTING!)and I used to take breaks with Columbia/Tower crew. I also began training for Tower attendant, but never finished, but I remember reading that in the manual that I never got tested on.

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Post by Tech Services 1 » Tue Feb 21, 2006 7:59 pm

RandyV wrote:Tech Services 1 -- any input on the mysterious door at the base of the Sky Trek Tower? :)

###accessing memory banks###please stand by###

Here's what I remember-
Shockwave Girl has it right- The door allows access to the mechanical system and stairwell inside the tower. I believe there were several doors at various spots up the tower.

My speculation on the purpose of the "pit"-
Maintenance seems to be a big part of it. I've been in the pit when the cabin was parked and Maintenence was working on it, and I've stood down there when the cabin was running- weird feeling seeing that thing come down and stop, sealing off the opening.
It also seems necessary for getting the outside edge of the cabin flush with the sidewalk for loading/unloading. Also, you need to have access to the door and other systems when the cabin is lowered. Lastly, making the pit extra-deep provides clearance from water and debris below the cabin.

I'm sure there are many more reasons for the Pit!

NotBill mentioned the access panel inside the cabin-
We used that to get to the "inside" ring of the cabin, which was little more than a catwalk out in the open air. The electrical systems, sound system amplifiers and air conditioners were located in there. We could hop through the panel and ride the cabin up and down, with the tower whipping past. There were also some small 'ladders' that we could climb up and peer over the top of the cabin. That was always fun! I know I took some pictures by setting my camera on top of the cabin while it was rotating around at the top; I just haven't found them yet!
Sure wish I took some pics of the inside ring . . . :?
It was always a hoot to see the looks on people's faces when we would open the hatch and hop out with our tool belts. Someone would always ask if the ride was "O.K." :shock:


PPG
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Gurnee park '81 - '86

Eegads, has it been that long?

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Post by RandyV » Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:49 pm

Tech Services 1 wrote:We used that to get to the "inside" ring of the cabin, which was little more than a catwalk out in the open air.
Now that would be really freaky riding up the tower that way. :) Very cool.

So, does the stairwell that starts at the base of the tower go all the way to the top?

And exact how did they place the American flag up there? Do you ride the cabin up, or is there a doorway at the top withstairs leading up to the "crows nest"?
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Post by retlawfan » Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:18 am

There IS a stairwell that goes all the way to the top. At the top there is a door/hatch facing up(If I remember correctly). From the top the flag can be maintained as well as the beacon light(at Santa Clara due to the proximity to the San Jose Airport).

BTW: That is a LONG walk up that stairwell. It's one of those, "Why am I doing this again?" moments.

It is a great view, however!

(at least that is what I've heard)
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