Speaking of American Eagle Brakes ...

All about the rides at Marriott's GREAT AMERICA and post-Marriott rides, too
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RandyV
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Speaking of American Eagle Brakes ...

Post by RandyV » Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:52 pm

Trivia time!

When the American Eagle first opened in 1981, the braking system consisted of dual, horizontally-mounted "skid" plates beneath the cars. The braking system attached to the track lifted, contacting the skid plates to stop the trains.

In the mid-80s, the brakes were upgraded to vertical "fin" brakes that hang beneath the trains.

Can anyone here remember why that change was made? :)
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m11stephen2
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Post by m11stephen2 » Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:56 pm

It was safer?

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BrianPlencner
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Post by BrianPlencner » Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:16 pm

I had heard a few times that when the ride did open, it had skid breaks on it. This is also why the long run from the final helix into the station that is covered.

My thoughts for the replacement were for safety, as skid breaks don't work that great in the rain. I also feel that when the park reduced the number of trains from 3 to 2 (per side), they re-did the breaking system, and the computer system, on the ride.

On a side note, the ride also opened with single "buzz" bars (not the dual lap bars like the ride has today) and a single seat belt.
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Post by that_guy » Sat Dec 03, 2005 9:54 am

"buzz" bars? Are they like Centrifuge/Fiddler's Flings lap bars?

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Post by BrianPlencner » Sat Dec 03, 2005 2:14 pm

"Buzz" bars were most common on a lot of the older woden coaster trains. When eagle first opened, they had them as well.

Below is a picture that shows the front car on the Skyliner at Lakemont Park (Altoona PA, also home to Leap The Dips).

Image

If you look at the lap bar in the car, that is what Eagle used to have. They are called "Buzz" bars because you would hear a buzz sound and the bars would open.

I forget what year the change was made, but I know it was sometime in the 80's.
Last edited by BrianPlencner on Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by that_guy » Sat Dec 03, 2005 2:17 pm

Oh…ok, Thanks Brian :D

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Post by jonrev » Sat Dec 03, 2005 2:36 pm

Don't they still buzz today?
Gurnee Ride Op - 2007

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m11stephen2
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Post by m11stephen2 » Sat Dec 03, 2005 5:34 pm

It doesnt look to safe. Airtime though :D

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Post by RandyV » Sat Dec 03, 2005 10:58 pm

Yes -- fin brakes are absolutely better than skids. But there was an incident to prompt the change:

The answer is: in September of 1986 (I believe this was the date -- have to go back through my news articles and videos to confirm) there was a sudden burst of rain at the park and two trains collided at the station. The skid brakes got wet and the incoming train could not be stopped and bumped the one parked in the station at the loading platform. Nobody got hurt, but the next season, fin brakes were installed.
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Post by BrianPlencner » Sun Dec 04, 2005 6:47 am

RandyV wrote:Yes -- fin brakes are absolutely better than skids. But there was an incident to prompt the change:

The answer is: in September of 1986 (I believe this was the date -- have to go back through my news articles and videos to confirm) there was a sudden burst of rain at the park and two trains collided at the station. The skid brakes got wet and the incoming train could not be stopped and bumped the one parked in the station at the loading platform. Nobody got hurt, but the next season, fin brakes were installed.
RandyV,

I went through my list of dates and events, and I found this entry. I think is what you are talking about.

September 9
1984: The minor collision in the station of two trains on the American Eagle roller coaster, sends three riders to a hospital.

I got that information from this list

http://capital2.capital.edu/admin-staff ... lmanac.txt

That is the "Roller Coaster Almanac", which was composed by David C. Althoff, Jr. I know the list I have contains a lot of items from that list, and back in the early days, I was one of the people who helped Dave by giving him events for the list.

In his words,
The Roller Coaster Almanac started as a project to collect the birthdates of a few coaster designers. With the assistance of the many readers of rec.roller-coaster and with email collected from the people who have found the Almanac on the Web, it has grown to become an enormous collection of "on this day in amusement park history."
So, it looks like it was 1984 that this event happened. If you do find other information, please pass it along.

Thanks,

--Brian
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Post by RandyV » Sun Dec 04, 2005 10:23 pm

That's definitely it, Brian. I video taped the newscast the day it happened. What I remember most about the event was some interview they did with an IL state rep. She was complaining that she didn't think the park should have been running the ride in the rain like that. All I kept thinking was that it was a sudden cloudy burst and they couldn't have possibly predicted it.
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