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The Airplane Model project

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Thanks everyone for all the nice and encouraging comments. I'd say I'm about 70% finished.


Now I have some exciting news.


On Saturday, September 6th, the Golden Ticket Awards (like the Grammy’s but for the Amusement Industry) will be held here at San Diego’s Sea World.


In attendance will be ACE dignitaries including Richard Munch, Co-Founder and first President of ACE.

Richard is also on the Board of Directors for the National Roller Coaster Museum.


While in town, the board would like to take a looksee at what I have built so far of the Airplane roller coaster model to see if they would like it displayed at this or a future IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) convention for the purpose of promoting the museum!


Exposure of this model hopefully will inspire the real one to be rebuilt, at least I’m hoping. After all, I built models of the Giant Dipper and it was restored. In 2002 I completed a model of the Crystal Beach Cyclone with the intention of one day donating it to the roller coaster museum, which at the time was way early in the planning stages. In 2012 the model premiered along with the first Museum installment at Dollywood.


So you see, I have a good reason to believe this can happen! Please like: Facebook - Bring Back the Airplane Coaster! for many many photos of this fantastic coaster in its prime.


Adding subtrack, merging it with the very first layers of subtrack I laid down well over a year ago.


Partially completed station house in the foreground. I was hoping to have it all finished by Monday, but I won't quite make it.


View of the first valley with the infamous spiral in the back and the station on the right.


Side view of station house.

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Some of the museum board committee checking out my model. From l to r, Pete Owens from Dollywood, Gary Slade, publisher of Amusement Journal, Richard Munch, co-founder and past president of ACE, and Jerry Willard, newest President of ACE.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Next month it will be two years since I started bent construction on the Airplane Coaster Model. Two years, good God...


Anyway, I learned a lot and I'm still always improving my techniques. They have changed quite a bit since the early days, all templates and other tools altered at some point. The manner in which I erect the bents has improved a great deal.


Here are some basic photos as how I built the current sections. Erections are faster heh heh.


Basic starting pieces. Cream colored uprights and green buck-braces, measured and scored. The bent making template is the board at the bottom.


I LOVE this score and snap method, taking pieces as I need them. You can see tape holding each section down where the score is.

After I remove a row...


I clip the corners off to make the buck-bracing - snip snip snip


I made a 5-bent ground grid that can accommodate four different radiuses. I copy the same four-space pattern several times until I get a whole circle. This prevents the drifting problem I was having before. These are two sections about to be married together.


On this section I'm trying two new methods. First, I am not worrying at all about having the ledger boards perfectly placed on the bents before I erect them. Second, I am overbuilding the bents to keep them aligned better during construction. This is especially good for keeping shorter bents stable as I put temporary cross bracing ABOVE where the track will go.


Here is the very basic structure. Upright bents spaced evenly apart with temporary thick white spacers keeping everything square, stable and upright. Then I add the permanent green horizontal ribbons, spaced 10' (2") apart. Then I add the diagonal diamond braces. To link the two sections together, I thread the alternate in-between ribbons (so all ribbon boards are 5' (1") apart through the diamond diagonals.


It's staring to take on its famous familiar shape.

Edited by hillflyer
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All 36 bents that make up the 2nd spiral are built and erect. Right now, the spiral is in 5 sections. Next is to join them all together, add ledger boards, track and catwalk. I make it sound like it's almost finished. It took 8 months to build the first spiral, part of that due to a broken arm 1 year ago. This section: 2 weeks.


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you're a very patient man! great work


HA! I have patients for many things, this model, heavy traffic, and especially with my in-the-middle-of-being-my-ex, but if I'm at the coffee shop standing behind someone in line being really pretentious ordering a coffee that takes 3 minutes to make, I tend to get a little testy. lol

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Here I am, well into the project and I'm still perfecting my technique. I really like this process of "overbuilding" bents and hills, using the overbuild as scaffolds to help keep the structure steady while I build it. I found I cannot rely on only the ribbon boards to support the upright bents without there being some complications. So here is how I fixed that.


The section I'm building is in the red.


One dozen bents are made. Note how some look finished yet are held together with thick X planks. These are bents that won't have much inner support when finished, so I made them taller and stabilized them on the top for now.


Only the upright bents will be part of the structure. The verticals and slap-shot diagonals keep this section upright and steady. The red arrows show the ledgers that I know to be in the correct position based on photos.


Between the set ledgers, I clip on temporary ledgers that I can adjust to make a perfect hill. I've also started to add ribbon boards and permanent lateral diagonals.


All the permanent boards have been added and painted. Next, put permanent ledgers where the clips are. The top will be clipped off after I start laying track. What is on there now, are just reference boards to get the right line.

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Just had to pop in and say this is one of the most incredible things I've seen posted on TPR. The level of detail is ridiculous! Kudos to you, and I wish you luck in completing it! I always make sure to check out this topic when I visit (not sure why I've never posted on it before ).

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I’ve come to enjoy having more than one section going on at a time. It breaks up the monotony of working on the same section for months on end. When I tired of the station house (which I think I might do all over) I started building the dreaded 2nd spiral. Dreaded, because it has a larger diameter and more bents than the first spiral. When I got tired of that, I started building the hump that leads into the last trip around the outer ring of the spiral.


Now I got tired of the hump (the basic structure is done) so I spent some time in the ledger factory making ledgers for the spiral.


Trains heading towards camera as they bottom out of the drop and into the horizontal 360-degree loop.


POV of the last trip around the outer ring of the spiral as trains get closer to the ride's end.


The hump I have recently brought to near completion sits close to where it will be in relation to the spiral. It actually will sit deeper into the structure, but I have to do a LOT of trimming and bracing before that happens. That should be soon.

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No big developments, just starting to creep some ledgers up towards the top of the spiral and removing the "fat" along the way. One thing I like about picture taking is I can spot things I don't like easier as opposed to the real thing. As an example, I can see one of my ledger boards is a bit off.



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  • 2 weeks later...

A huge challenge is trying to weave little strips of plastic through an area with minimal access. For example, I'm laying subtrack for second spiral, after it comes off the drop and makes a 135 degree circle at near ground level. But there will be another run of track about 10 feet above that track.


When I built the bents, I could have left off the top deck to make laying track on the lower deck a lot easier. But without the top deck, it would have left the lower deck very unstable and I would have had problems with pieces coming off or getting out of alignment. I needed to have the structure for the upper deck on to make it all stable. So, rather than try to dig deep in the bowels of the structure to try and weave subtrack on the lower deck, I'm using an "open space" (before it dives under the upper deck) for the weaving. Then and after I put the ties on, I feed forward what's assembled into the hard-to-get-at run. It's all banked the same so that's not a concern like it would have been somewhere else.


However, there is a radius change where the black line is. For the tighter radius, I'll have to go in through the opposite side and then try to weave the two ends where the black line is.


The open weaving and building area is within the red boarder.


Then, I thread the assemble part forward into the hard-to-get-at area. Then I will weave some more subtrack, add ties, and repeat. Once it gets to the black line, the radius changes so I'll have to start that process on the other end.

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Progress on one of the last sections I have to build. Starting to lay some pre-track. I started building this section 9/16.



I have found that the reason why I've submersed myself so thoroughly in this project. It's to keep up on my patience, which is dealing and trying to get rid of my abusive partner without losing my sanity. That's why I can be so particular with my pretrack (that you can see creeping upwards).


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Partner wanted to pick a fight with me when I got home from work at 12:30 am so I went to a 24-hour coffee house and spend 5 hours weaving track and putting on ties. I got A LOT done. The pre track is always the hardest, the rest of the layers form really fast. I could be done with this whole spiral in two weeks.


Staggering and laminating scaled 2x2 strips per Fred Church's patent. By marking them with the red (or black whatever) colors helps to keep the staggering on track (no pun) and makes it MUCH easier to count and verify the 8 sticks across.


Then I lay on a pre-made strip of 2 x 8 ties set 3' apart on center per Fred Church coasters.


This back section of the 2nd spiral is perhaps the least photographed part of the real Airplane. Soon we'll know what it looked like! Note that there are two layers of track separated by a mere 8' above the other. The only pre-track I have left on this section is the bottom tail as it begins to leave the 49' high spiraling dive.

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Work continues on the second spiral.


After I make the pre-track in hard-to-reach areas, I slip the stretch back out so I can paint areas like underneath. It makes painting SO much easier. I didn't set out to have this particular stretch so long but once I got started building the pre track I couldn't stop.


After I paint the pre-track, I install it back where it belongs, then I add the rest of the layers of track. Then I slip it out again, paint, and reinstall. After that's finished, I can add the upper cross over that brings riders to the upper deck of track.


You can see the two decks of track here. The bottom rails do a near 360 degree loop just above ground level. The upper deck brings riders pretty close to the finish line.


Just an experiment shot. The track is not yet in its "perfect" settlement. TRIVIA: It takes 24 strips of plastic to make one rail. So one inch of one side of rail costs $1.96, including the tie.


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I did a good amount this weekend, including the intersecting cross over around the last spiral.


Once all the prep work is done on this lower section. I run the footers for the above intersection track through the existing structure.


Then I add the already built cross-over (seen on the first part of page 27). I make the posts go all the way to the ground, even if it falls right through the track's path. Then I figure out (in photos and Fred Church's telekinetic messages) what posts on the bottom part are used to support an upper header to support the upper portion after I cut off the post. It's really hard to explain all this in a way it makes sense.


Another shot of the intersection with track. You can see the new headers supporting where a had to cut posts off to make way for the lower track.


The final result. Still needs a lot of touch-up, but I'm please with how it came out. Now, once this second tier is tracked, I have to cover it all with yet ANOTHER tier of cross-over track.

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Just an idea, I thought I'd post a new update for every 100 views I get from my last post, regardless of where I am in the construction process!


Let's start with THIS one. This is what happens when your partner tells you to leave him alone all morning, so you go out to do errands, and then he calls you pissed off because you went without him, and he demands that you come back and pick up him up in 10 minutes OR ELSE. See page 18 to see what he did to my arm.


You come home and find this....a result of an "Accident"


I could:

A) Fix it

B) Make it look like there was a fire (like Colossus)

C) Place a giant reptile here like the Beast From 20000 Fathoms"


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D) Make a replica of his head in miniature and put it on a pike to replace one of the decorative pieces.


Wow dude, so sorry to hear that your partner took his anger toward you out on the model. That's super selfish and childish. I hadn't responded in your thread yet because I was waiting to see the final project and then tell you you're amazing and Fred Church reincarnated, but this is just making me so angry. I just got out of a 6 year relationship with a self-centered baby, and I'm feeling your pain here. I hope you're joking about the other 2 options. Please fix the model and put it somewhere that the dumbass can't damage it more. Is he possibly open to anger management counseling? It sounds like he needs it. Know that you have the sympathy of many on here, as that is one of if not THE most amazing miniature coaster recreations ever. Peace and a big long distance hug.



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