Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Steel vs Wood Roller Coasters
Name: Claire n.
Status: Student
Age: 17
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A


Question:
What are the visual and structual differences between steel and wood designs for roller coasters? What thrill and design elements become possible with steel roller coaster and which ones are lost when building with steel vs. wood?



Replies:
To find the structural differences, I would recommend the following book: Scott Rutherford _The American Roller Coaster_ by MBI Publishing Company. It was published in 2000, and you want to read Chapter 3. There are additional books and articles, but this one has the best capsule (24 page) summary with pictures.

Steel allows looping design elements that wood does not. Wood maintains many sub accelerations on sway between bents that steel does not.

There are also differences on cost and maintenance. The original cost of a steel may be more than wood, but the maintenance might be less. Over the long haul, the total costs are similar.

Vince Calder



Click here to return to the Engineering Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory