American Eagle, Breaks at the top, etc

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American Eagle, Breaks at the top, etc

Post by BrianPlencner »


A lot of us have talked about the breaks at the top of the lift hill on the American Eagle. What I'm trying to in this thread is have a central place to talk about them, why they were needed, etc, etc.

So, here is my take on all this.

For starters, when the ride first opened in 1981, it had 3 trains running on each side for a total of 6 trains. There are breaks located at the following points along the ride

Break 1 is as you exit the station, before hitting the lift hill. This is used for two things. One is to slow the train down so it can be moved to the transfer track. The other reason is to stop the train before it would get to the lift hill (if it left the station to early).

Break 2 was the top of the lift hill. This is the one that is no longer in use on the ride

Break 3 is at the top of the Helix out by the tollway.

Break 4 is as you exit the Helix. This is more of a "check break" to help control the speed of the train on its trip back. Depending on conditions, this break may be off (open). Other times, it will be on (closed). The train will never come to a complete stop here

Break 5 is under the lift hill, before the train enters the final helix of the ride.

Break 6-8 (which includes the breaks into the station) are between the final helix and the station.

Break 9 is in the station itself.

So, in total, when the ride opened in 1981, there were 9 sets of breaks.

With this, we can see why there are 3 sets of breaks going into the station. You could stack all three trains (one in the station, and 2 behind) and have room for the train in the station to complete the course without going into a used block.

With a 2 train operation per side, the park made the choice to remove break #2 at the top of the lift hill, as it was no longer needed. They could probably remove a few more on the course if they wanted to. This is shown by the park using Break # 4 as a check break. The ride can run with it in the off (open) position.

I know that other breaks on the ride can also be off (open) and the ride will run. Break # 3 is one of them. I have had a few rides where Break 3 and 4 have been off (open), and man...what a ride that gives! :D For safety reasons, they leave them all there, but I think that with a two train operation, they could remove the breaks out of the ride, and leave the ones after the final helix and the station.

So, that's my take on it. Feel free to comment on this.


Mr. Brian Plencner
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Post by that_guy »

Oh ok, very interesting and helpful post Brian :D
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Post by zingme »

I guess this debunks my "Hotwheels matchbox car racetrack" theory!

Your information makes sense: less trains = less brakes. Thanks for the info!
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Post by aejanis »

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Post by RandyV »

Great info, Brian.

However, I have a question. It seems to me that removing the extra brakes would be a big hassle for the park. After all, why spend the time and money to remove them when if you don't need them, you could simply not use them?

Is it possible the brakes at the top of the hill were removed when the braking system was changed sometime in '84 or '85 (can't remember the exact year)?

Also -- were there any upgrades to the ride control system that possibly required fewer safety blocks along the track -- making the extra brakes unnecessary?
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Post by twixmix0303 »

I'm not sure when, but sometime since the ride opened, everything was switched from semi-automatic to fully-automatic. Ride operators can no longer set and release brakes manually without shutting everything down.
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Post by m_force_4_ever »

I wish SFGAm would run American Eagle trimless (exiting the helix without trims=excelent ejector airtime) and also starting the helix at 5 mph is no good :cry:
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Post by nedge32 »

being a previous employee of said American Eagle, i thought i would update the info that Brian started.

When i worked on AE (1995-97), we only ran 2 trains per track. here is what the brakes were labeled:

Brake #1 - the brake furthest away from the station in the brake run. it was the first brake coming out of the helix.

Brake #2 - the brake closest to the station in the brake run.

Brake #3 - the station brake

Brake #4 - transfer area brake

Brake #5 - the Crow's Nest, the brake as you start the barrell

Brake #6 - the brake before the helix

Trim Brake - the one brake segment at the end of the barrell. like Brian pointed out, this brake would be open or closed depending on the conditions and speed of the train at the end of the barrell.

i never heard of stopping the train at the top of the lift hill, besides hitting the ride stop, which only stops the chain. i do find it very interesting, though, to learn about the history of the AE. it was and will always be "my baby"!
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Post by UAORDStew »

nedge32, you are very correct on the brakes. have been certified for that ride since 1988.

quote]I'm not sure when, but sometime since the ride opened, everything was switched from semi-automatic to fully-automatic.

the original brakes on the AE were the ski type of metallic brakes. the brakes would come up from underneath the train and the train would skim across to a stop. those were taken out in the late 80's. i'm almost positive that the pneumatic brakes, that are still there today, were put in around 89...i think.

i just remember manually bringing the train into the station and having to look for the creases in the station floor boards. once the front of the train reached those creased you had to let up on the advance, forward jog and dispatch buttons all at the same time. it was kinda tricky on the fingers with one hand!! LOL!! if you didn't let up, the train wouldn't line up with the air gates and you would have to use the reverse jog button and squeal the train back into place with the use of the booster tires.

as for the "stop at the top" issue....on the ride back in the 80's and still today, there is a "lift fast" and a "lift slow". the lift chain can be set, per the prox switches on the lift, to run fast the entire way, or it can be slowed depending on where you place the prox switch on the lift hill and in the computer program. the lift will slow to a snails pace when the block in front of it is not cleared by the previous train. this is done to prevent what is called a "set-up". a set up occurs when one train tries to enter a "block" that is occupied by another train. the computer does not allow 2 trains in one "block". so to prevent that from happening and causing a "downtime" which would stop the train on the top of the lift, the computer slows the lift chain down to the "lift slow" mode. this allows enough time for the train on the ride course to clear the block and allow the train on the lift to enter that block and drop. make sense??? i hope so......had a few beers!! LOL!!!

oh...and someone had mentioned in a previous post about the trains didn't race because of wear and tear. that's not the case. they've always wanted them to race, it was (back then) a matter of just getting them in and getting them out. only recently has mgmt wanted them to race again, if possible. they will not hold a full train if the other one has some guest issues, illness, exit passes, etc.

that's it i guess......

dang...i've been at that darn park too damn long!!! LOL!!
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Post by nedge32 »

yeah, one thing i really loved about working on the Eagle was racing the trains. this was tons of fun to do at night and the crowd usually loved it. i can remember being at front position and getting the crowd into it.

the hard part about racing was trying to make it an even playing field. since red side had the inside track in the barrell, they would always make it back to the brake run first. also, back in my day, blue side had a slower motor on the lift chain so even when the trains were dispatched at the same time, red side would get to the top first. so, we figured out that we would give blue side a 2.5 car advantage so that the trains would go over the lift at the same time cause that is what really mattered! oh, the great memories!!!
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