Roller coasters are an exhilarating experience for thrill seekers. Since the roller coaster debuted at the World Fair in the 19th century, the coaster industry has grown and has created thousands of wooden and steel coasters across the world. While the style and track of roller coasters vary, all roller coasters follow the same basic principles of relying on gravity and centrifugal forces to keep the vehicles moving on the track.
Welding and Roller Coasters
Another thing most roller coasters have in common is the need for an experienced welder to help build, maintain, and repair the steel parts of the ride. Steel roller coasters obviously require a great deal of welding since most of their parts are made of steel, from the track to the supports and the vehicles. Even wooden coasters require welding, since the majority of wooden coasters run on steel tracks!
Many parks, especially larger parks, have welders on staff. Some parks may require services from local welders, and in certain cases the manufacturer of the ride may send a welder to assist with maintenance and repairs.
The maintenance department at each park will do checks on the ride often, looking at the structural integrity of the ride and checking for cracks or broken welds in the steel. A roller coaster does experience great stress on the track, however, the tracks are built with that in mind. Occasionally, issues will be found and minor maintenance will have to occur. Two common types of welding done on roller coasters and their components are the shielded metal arc method (ARC) and the gas metal arc method (MIG).
Non Destructive Testing
Non Destructive Testing (NDT) is done by a professional on the cars, tracks and supports of roller coasters. During this testing, the certified inspector checks the rides for defects that might cause failure of the ride. These inspections are done in ways that can analyze the integrity of the ride without changing any aspect of it. The minimum frequency of these inspections are determined by the ride manufacturer. Some states may require more frequent testing than the manufacturer in order to license the ride.
There are several types of NDT that might be done on a roller coaster, including: visual inspection (VT), dye testing (liquid penetrant testing, or PT), eddy current testing (ET) and magnetic particle testing (MT). When checking for cracks or imperfections in welding, the magnetic particle testing is very common.
In magnetic particle testing, the area is first cleaned very well. All traces of dirt, oil, and grease are removed. Next, a contrast aid is sprayed on the weld, and a magnetic field is applied. A liquid with black iron fillings are then sprayed on the test area. Since the iron fillings will be pulled towards the magnet, if there are cracks a line of iron fillings will remain behind and reveal the cracks. This shows what the welder needs to repair.
Welding is Vital at Theme Parks
In order to keep roller coasters and other rides operating safety, a good welder is a necessity. Safety is always the number one priority in the theme park industry, and ensuring that the steel parts of rides are properly welded is an incredibly important job. Talk to places like Checkpoint Welding & Fabrication for more information.