When we last left the Coaster Stock attendees they were enjoying lunch while being treated to a rare Q&A session with B&M rep Bob Mampe. Next, the attendees had a break for a few hours where they could enjoy the park at their leisure. Since I live about 30 minutes from the park, I headed home to help out with the kids and cool off.
When I returned around 6 PM, everyone was finishing dinner and beginning to gather for the “Special Surprise”. We were about to embark on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Intimidator. We were led by the park’s GM of Operations into a fenced in area around and under the ride. The GM had a mega phone that he was using to talk to the crowd of about 40 to 50 enthusiasts. Once we entered the area below the station, we pretty much just looked around on our own. The tour wasn’t as organized as the Busch Gardens Coaster Tours (probably because of the size of the crowd), but it was still very cool to see the inner workings of an excellent roller coaster.
I snapped some shots of the replacement wheels, water dummies used for test rides, and the electrical room. The main garage-like section was directly below the station. We could look through gaps in the ceiling and see trains entering and dispatching overhead. The electrical room was small and we had to take turns filtering through it. Inside, we found electrical equipment. No surprise there. But, we also got to take a look at some blueprints.
I spoke with the maintenance crew about their daily inspection routine. Every morning the crew inspects the lift hill as well as the trim brakes. In order to do this, they walk up the track using harnesses. I had to ask about the infamous trim brakes and they had some interesting information about them. Trim brakes are used to slow roller coasters, but not bring them to a complete stop like some mid-course brakes and station brakes do. They’re more like a tap on your car’s brakes than slamming your foot down. Trims are loathed by coaster enthusiasts as many feel that they can suck the intensity out of a ride.
Trim Brakes Explained
A common misconception about the trim brakes on Intimidator (and perhaps on other coasters) is that the park ‘turns them on and off at times’. The maintenance staff explained that Intimidator is programmed to apply the trims if a train is traveling too fast. The train’s speed can vary by the number of riders and even the time of the day. They confirmed that Intimidator runs a bit faster in the evening after the grease and track have heated up throughout the day. The trim brakes themselves actually have a stop watch that is timing how quickly the train goes from one point on the track to another. If it reaches the second point too quickly the trims are applied, slowing the train just a bit. Lastly, I asked who decides how fast the trains should go. They answered that the trims are set to the designer’s (Bolliger & Mabillard) specifications.I kept hearing enthusiasts hoping for a trim-less ride. Some even asked for the park to turn them off. Hopefully, this bit of information will shed some light on how they work.
Check out my photos from the Coaster Stock 2010 Intimidator Tour at my Facebook Page.