Model Coasters and Homemade Haunts with Eric Roberts – Part 1


We love a very good roller coaster model right here at Coaster101, so once I stumbled upon the video under of an superior working customized made creation, I simply needed to know extra. Fortunately, I used to be capable of get in touch with the present proprietor of the mannequin, Eric Roberts, and we chatted about his newly added working switch observe, tips on how to NOT set the mannequin by accident on hearth, and far more.


C101: For individuals who don’t know you, Eric, may you please introduce your self: who’re you and what do you do?

Eric: Hello, I’m Eric Roberts. I stay in Virginia throughout the week and have a weekend residence in North Carolina the place all my tasks and fashions are. I’ve a level in Engineering Electronics and have at all times loved tinkering. I normally spend my time creating Halloween props – and due to my love of amusement parks, I turned my residence hang-out right into a darkish journey with two autonomous carts. I even have a group of curler coaster components together with a automobile for the Hersheypark Sidewinder. After all, I personal and construct with numerous coaster mannequin programs.

C101: How did you get into curler coasters and theme parks?

Eric: Effectively, I used to be petrified of coasters till my step dad made me journey the Insurgent Yell at Kings Dominion in the summertime of 1985.  It was a tremendous battle between concern and fascination.  I seen how the trains by no means really left the observe and I wished to know why and the way.  It wasn’t till the early 90s once I realized about ACE (American Coaster Lovers) and eventually had a useful resource to be taught extra about curler coasters.

C101: And the way did the love of coasters translate to coaster fashions?

Eric: I’ve at all times been fascinated by gravity powered toys akin to SpaceWarp, Sizzling Wheels tracks, and numerous different marble run sort toys.

C101: Do you will have plenty of expertise constructing curler coaster fashions?

Eric: Within the early 2000s I discovered an internet web page of a mannequin coaster builder, Mike Graham, and was glued to each web page, each element. I began amassing RC automobile components and bearings to construct a customized mannequin primarily based on his Ice Screamer for an area toy retailer.  That’s once I acquired a flyer for CoasterDynamix (coincidentally Mike Graham is a founder), and the timing couldn’t be extra good. the toy retailer and I purchased a few kits and had a customized show working for months.

My first mannequin?  Effectively, it was not constructed by me.  That is the creation of Phil Kaiser.

C101: How did you uncover the mannequin and the way did it fall into your palms?

Eric: Being one of many first buyer’s of CoasterDynamix, I set to work with the owner, Jack Rimer, for a number of of his present fashions.  I did some digital management work for them. When he received this mannequin from Phil round 2007 (?), I used to be mesmerized by it.  Anytime I might chat with Jack, I might at all times ask “Ya wanna promote that mannequin but?”  Think about my shock when throughout a latest dialog, he requested if I used to be nonetheless concerned with it. I assumed he was pulling my leg!

Since I’ve taken possession of it, I’ve been performing plenty of repairs because it was in a room that additionally had a ping pong table and youngsters…I’ve additionally been modifying it and beginning to theme and panorama it. I’ve constructed a working switch-track and storage space to work on the prepare.  I even have plans to improve it with a working block system and second prepare.

C101: Are you able to describe the method just a little bit: What goes into planning? Do you design it on paper or pc first?

Eric: Positive,  I don’t know something about pc design in order that has not been an possibility. When I’ve constructed different fashions it’s a unfastened idea in my head of what I need to do. I would do a serviette sketch to visualise, however by no means something greater than that.

I ought to make clear that aside from repairs, the picket mannequin is essentially as Phil constructed it initially.  I’ve, nonetheless, created a storage observe and switch/change observe and blended it into the mannequin.

That was completed by slicing a strip of cardboard right into a mock-up of the brand new observe path.  I did this to examine clearances to the prevailing construction.  I took a measurement of the size of the prepare to make sure the storage observe was lengthy sufficient as I knew I wished it to be detachable.  Past that, I actually simply construct free-form.  I do know it sounds foolish, however typically, the fashions current their very own circulation.

C101: What’s probably the most difficult side of the undertaking?

Eric: Not setting the entire thing on hearth. LOL

C101: Haha! Actually?

Eric: A number of of the repairs contain re-soldering the rails onto the crossties.  Phil used 1/eight″ copper tube (which is far simpler to bent than the brass rod, BTW) and I’m guessing copper for the cross-ties.  The issue is the entire thing acts as a warmth sink when making an attempt to solder.  A soldering iron has virtually no impact.  A soldering gun will work, however takes a very long time to warmth the world sufficiently. I discovered a mini butane torch is ideal for the job.  However. the angles it’s a must to be very conscious of the world.  I’ve scorched the grass and rock in a number of locations.  I even burnt the entire handrails and stroll boards I eliminated to put in the change observe as a result of I positioned them on the “floor” underneath the observe to attempt to preserve observe of their placement. Oh properly, a minimum of they had been items I used to be going to change anyway.

OK, hearth is a problem, however to be truthful, reverse engineering how Phil constructed the mannequin after which re-create the fashion to look unique has been the true problem.  I received to talk with Phil when he realized I now have the mannequin. These cross-ties?  They had been bent on a particular pair of pliers that gave him the constant form on each one.  Effectively, I don’t have something that labored that properly for me – So, I hand bent and in contrast the dozen or so I made.  Don’t look too carefully.

C101: What materials and/or instruments do you employ?

Eric: For the repairs, I used balsa and bass wooden.  For the storage observe and change observe, I used 1/eight″ brass rod for the rails, 12AWG copper wire for the cross-ties, brass construction for the backbone and hard-stops.  I then used balsa and bass wooden to construct the picket construction, stroll boards and handrails across the storage observe and switch space.

For the theming and landscaping  I’m utilizing typical mannequin prepare panorama materials. Additionally, I’m 3D printing grave markers, a mausoleum, tombs and fence/wall to offer it a Halloween really feel.  It’s seemingly going to be one of many line queue actions for the youngsters ready to undergo my hang-out so, it appears to make sense. I imply, my predominant hobbies are Halloween and Curler Coasters in spite of everything.

C101: Wait, you made your individual journey by means of hang-out attraction with automated autos?!

Eric: Yep.

 C101: That sounds wonderful. We have to hear extra about that. 

Keep tuned for Half 2 the place we speak to Eric about his do-it-yourself haunted darkish journey!

Thanks once more to Eric for taking the time and answering our questions.

Be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel.





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