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Assembling

After the construction of the coaster was finished, the production of the ride can start. To ensure that the new adventure for Belgian Bobbejaanland will be completed till the third of April, the works at the Gerstlauer company site got up to full speed between summer and winter of 2003. Brakes, cars, engines and track segments were produced and assembled. For some parts Gerstlauer used the capacities of external suppliers.

Just like at any roller coaster, steel is the most important basic material that is used almost everywhere. Steel exists in countless variations: As simple constructional steel, high-strength and highly dynamically stressable cementation steel or in different geometrical manifestations. A steel coaster needs hundreds of tons of it that have to be processed until the end product is completed.

With a CNC machine the semifinished parts are brought into shape. The bending machine cares for the correct curvature of the single track tubes, and the diverse parts of the "roller coaster puzzle" are put together to a whole using different joining methods.

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A roller coaster demands highest precision. This is guaranteed by a thorough quality control. Highly stressed components like undercarriages and couplings are repeatedly tested until the final assembly. Even the quality of the delivered material, the semifinished parts, is guaranteed by the suppliers by official certificates. The process chain is closed by examinations of the weld seams using ultra sound and checks for surface flaws. Nothing is left to chance. It even reaches so far that every screw is tightened with a clamping torque pre-calculated by the engineer, and each one is marked as installed by a paint stroke. Only this guarantees that the joint stands the dynamic loads. Appropriate instructions are documented within the production drawings - A mass of paper that allows for the meticulous precision "Made in Germany".

Car examination by TUV

Before the final assembling, the steel carriage is examined.

The components are brought to the paint shop after they have passed the quality check. There is a pungent smell, but this may be caused by the elements made of fibre reinforced polymers that are stored here. The production of the car's chassis is pure manual work. At first a 1:1 wooden model is created, then a negative, and finally the car body which is 5 to 10 millimeters thick. The robust laminate FRP consists of fibre glass mats saturated with polyester resin. Adding a liquid curing agent starts the hardening process, permitting a processing time of about 30 minutes: The saturated mats are laid into the form, pressed on and densified. Further layers are added until the required thickness is reached. The material is cured within 24 hours, afterwards it can be removed from the mold. Last touch-ups can be made with sandpaper before the parts are being lacquered.

Next door the welded steel constructions of the cars wait for their completion: The seats are attached to an H-shaped backbone. The ends of the long sides hold the wheel packs, the bridge inbetween is divided by a coupling to enable a torsion of the two halfs in tight track elements like the heartline roll. In the end the FRP parts and seats are simply screwed on. But this doesn't happen before the TÜV Munich has taken the whole construction to a close examination.

Right now the restraints are attached. The over the shoulder parts are borne on top of the back rest, hydraulic cylinders care for a safe fixation. The pressure needed in the oil circuit is provided by two small nitrogen reservoirs. An electro-magnetic valve controls the pressurization of the cylinder piston: In one valve state the system blocks, in the other one the piston (and with it the restraint) can be moved. The power to open the restraint (respectively to activate the eletro-magnetic valve) is provided by electrical sliding contacs housed in the station. The twofold existence of the cylinder represents the required redundancy.

Train in assembling 1 Paint shop
Train in assembling 2
Restraints Welding procedures
Bottom construction of tower Track element lift
Track element drop Tower assembling
180 bend
Assembling safety chain dog counterpart and chain guide Final brake assembling
Check heartline roll 1 Check heartline roll 2
Brake track segment Parts of the vertical loop

Track bending in detail

Three rolls give the final shape to the seamless steel tubes.

In another shed, the one for steel building, the track segments for the tower lift and the first drop wait for their completion. Here we find a gigantic bending machine that gives the final shape to the seamless steel tubes. These are provided in a length of up to 15 meters and are bent according to the specifications provided by the Stengel engineering office. Three rolls (two of which are adjustable) are arranged in a triangle, impressing the desired curvature during a couple of work steps. The tube is pushed through the machine over and over again, and for obtaining the three-dimensional bend it is rotated around its center several times. Just like the production of the FRP bending the track is pure manual work - but it needs far more know how.

Finally the tubes are temporarily placed on adjustable supports above a huge sealing plate. They are aligned in a way that the joint with the next track element meets the calculations. Now the transverse joints between the tubes are tack-welded, making a familiar track segment out of the individual parts.

Part of the Gerstlauer test facility

Not far from the track production the finishing touches are put to the brake sections. Typhoon uses magnetic systems as well as classical friction brakes. The latter are manufactured by Gerstlauer themselves. Pneumatic cylinders loaded with air pressure operate the brake elements that interact with a brake fin attached to the underside of the car. The mechanism has to be adjusted, and afterwards the brake segments with their multiple modules are put under test. Then this component assembly is brought to the construction site, too. In this case it is just 50 meters away on the ample area of the company site. Typhoon rests on a sole, so it can be completely assembled on the spot to test it extensively. Not until it runs satisfactory the whole ride is dismantled again. Then the individual parts receive their final paintwork and are brought towards Belgium...

Many thanks to Gerstlauer Elektro GmbH for the friendly support on realizing this article. The copyright for the pictures belongs to the photographers and the Gerstlauer Elektro GmbH respectively. Publishing, distribution and copying without written permission is strictly forbidden.

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