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The Airplane Model project

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FBF: Taken a little more than a year ago. Morgan Manufacturing took a few of the original coaster cars from Belmont Park Giant Dipper at the start of the 1990 restoration project and restored them. San Diego Coaster Company is donating one of those cars to the National Roller Coaster Museum (where my other model resides). From L to Right, Paula and Dana Morgan (formerly of Morgan Manufacturing - builders standard rolling stock for coasters and other rides), Charles Canfield (owner of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and San Diego Coaster Co.), ME, and Bob and Julie Mazurik (accountants for San Diego Coaster Co.) I wrote about this exact moment in an upcoming RollerCoaster magazine article about my 10-year experience with the Save the Coaster Committee. Due next month. I was already nervous after seeing all these people after many many years and at this second, Dana is saying something to me that struck a nerve that piqued my anxiety to an all time high and I had skip the rest of the event. Plus, my (now ex) partner Dennis was there who was always a kill-joy anyway and had already done his work when we got there.


If anyone is interested, I'll tell you about the time Dennis ruined the day my last model was unveiled at Dollywood. And I might throw in a new photo of the model


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I thought it was best to make a scaffold to ensure the roof will be held at the same height above the ground front to back while I connect it to the bottom. Just testing here, I see some adjustments have to be made. If you look closely you can see the levers I made for the brakes and transfer table.




To get this view, you would have to be standing on the track where it slingshots out of the first spiral.


Showing more of the temporary roof support scaffolds.


A butterfly paid me a good luck visit

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Along with my article in the upcoming summer edition of Roller Coaster magazine I get to be profiled. I just took my ACE profile pic. That's funny, the article has nothing to do with the Airplane.


One of my two dogs Joey. The White one is not mine.

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Maybe by April, but I said the exact same thing a year ago. Good timing on the question though. Earlier today I photographed each section and made a check list of repairs and finishing touches for each. Aside from a joint by joint inspection, work might include replacing a missing stick to realigning a whole run.


The lift hill


Repair bottom of dive and cross over combo

Repair/replace post tops

Add chain troughs , top and bottom

Add top chain rollers

Catwalks up and over the top

2x8 planks over buttresses


1st spiral.

Reprofile/rebuild the slingshot frame.

Serious strengthing of dive on lift side.

Reattach frame lead up frame.

Replace interior buttresses

Replace missing catwalks.

Match up upper slingshot with station house frame.

Add patches

Design where track comes up from underground

Repair exit of check brake


Replace missing catwalks

Realign cross over bridge

Add handrail

Anti rollbacks.

Glue and secure track

Add brake skids

Repair hump up to brake frame


Bottom of lift

Add gears, chain, and trough

Reattach to first spiral


Tunnel walls up out of ground


Bottom of first drop

Rebuild bottom run.


Brake run and garage.

Reprofile and replace track in dip

Repaint outter shed walls

Replace missing wall sections

Slant roof

Align with station.

Consider building new if not aligned.

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Spent the last week powering through different parts. Please


The white bent joins the left and right section. The left was originally attached to the lift hill, the right, the first spiral.


I extended the lift hill track I had already partially built. I used the first half (painted ) as a template to expedite the process. .


Adding the gating along the station side. Looks like I need to straighten it out a bit.


Note brake handles and transfer table leverages.


I like how the gating turned out.


I can already hear the singing of the chain dogs.

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Taking part in San Diego's Maker Fair this whole weekend. It's for anybody who makes anything come together and sell or display their stuff. I was originally just an exhibitor but was persuaded to assistbevause they were short on volunteers. In exchange I got a really great space outside the paid admission part of the exhibit! The Airplane got a LOT of exposure!





My good friend Mike made sure kids kept their grubby hands off


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Woo hoo! I'm getting really close to start mounting pieces onto a permanent base. I finished up the crazy spiral but decided to rebuild the whole structure for the sling shot. I also test fitted the station to aforementioned spiral. The roof does not fit on the body of the station house...gonna have to figure out what's going on there.


1/3 of the total base where the station and spiral will be.


The exit out of the first spiral, what I call the slingshot.


Ready to test fit the station to the spiral.


Random shot I liked.


Aerial view.

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At 11:40am on 10/10, the first footing was installed. You kind of have to look hard to see it. Thanks to the sharp eyes of consultant Randy Rasmussen, the footings appeared to be long blocks per bent, not one per post like on Belmont.


Fellow ACEr came to visit, I put the pieces together for him to see. Haven't done that in a while so I grabbed some photos.




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Leaps and bounds of progress on my vacation with most time spent on the first spiral area and the beginning of the lift hill. Footers have been added and now I'm in the process of linking the two sections together.


The sticks to be used for footings have been painted to look stained, blotted with dirt, grease, and spilled paint.


Footers cut to size


The unfinished part of the track happens to be the pass under the lift hill


It was easier to complete binding and painting the track now, than to try when it's harder to get to.


Finally cutting away the stays I built for mounting while building to make room for footers.


Ready to connect two pieces together. The bent on the left will slide inside the opening


The two pieces are now joined. There are now only four main sections that will make up the whole ride.


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Your attention to detail is just amazing. There is no way in the world I would have the patients to do this. I'd get about 3 hours into it and get pi$$ed off, and throw it across the house. The fact that you have been able to keep up this project for as long as you have is amazing, and how great the project looks is even more amazing!! Keep up the good work!!

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Your attention to detail is just amazing. There is no way in the world I would have the patients to do this. I'd get about 3 hours into it and get pi$$ed off, and throw it across the house. The fact that you have been able to keep up this project for as long as you have is amazing, and how great the project looks is even more amazing!! Keep up the good work!!


Hey thanks. I'm beginning to feel like completion is around the corner and I'm excited. I'm glad I'm not letting my attention to detail slip in the hurry. I'm even going back and fixing past mistakes.


Trying out just an idea that ends up working is most fun. For example, the model will have to travel in three sections. How was I going to make the separations seamless?


The Airplane is one of the only coasters I've seen that has vertical stringers nailed to the outside of the ribbon boards. I made flaps where one section plugs between the vertical ribbon flap.



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Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day! I’m going up to Hollywood with my model and we’re both going to make an appearance on “Super Into”. They are doing a segment on roller coasters, including a mention of those who like to build models! It will be on TruTV, I have no idea when.


Today is my first day back at work after taking a two-week vacation. I am very satisfied with the progress I was able to make during that time on the Airplane.


Originally, I was going to have it set up as one solid piece before dissecting it into three main sections. Instead I decided to finish each piece off as its own stand-alone section.


That involves taking a piece off one section and attaching it to another. A good example is as follows:


The lift hill gets prepared for the addition of that transferred section. There was one lost bent that I finally found, #14, lying flat.


I spaced the two parts in 10’ (2”) increments and added the white stringers, or “ribbon boards.”


Bent #14 is fitted into place and the diagonal 2x4 shite supports are in.


The structure for the new first drop valley is put into place.






The red line indicates where I have to make a cut. Bents 11, 12, and 13 up the lift hill get cut.


The structure that makes the beginning of the pull-out from the first drop was to get transferred too, but I decided to make that whole area new. So…OFF comes the portion to the right of the red line.

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The new show on TruTv called Super Into premieres Oct 26. The Roller Coaster show will be on sometime late November early December. I can't say much more about it, but I think I can post a few photos taken during the shoot.





Shooting location...a coffee shop on Melrose!


The set up.


Cameras loom. There were also dozens of go-pro ride-along-the-tracks that I can't wait to see what they do with. The host, Kevin Pereira, drills me with questions.



Setting it up.



That's a wrap!


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I'm really excited, I'm finally attaching the station house to the coaster structure. As I'm making all the connections, I can see this particular area fall into place now. I'm starting to design some flotsam and jetsam to scatter about inside the station.



It's pictures like this that help me go back and straighten some posts out...I see one sort of leaning to the left there...I could leave that, I'm sure that after years of service, that bent probably bowed out a little bit...


Bird's eye view of the station flyby!


Me sitting comfy at home working on a chunk.


Sketching out debris and odds and ends to fill the station.

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Happy 420th post! There is not a lot left to do on the station house except put on the roof. My goal was to make the station look derelict but stable. On my last post I mention a sketch that shows a power distribution board


I copied the sketch down to scale and place a clear sheet of plastic on top. I followed on various sizes of plastic blocks.


The plastic sheet is removed. I've added to this since.


Painted the backboard.


Screen test.


Various sundries, such as a power cord, a hose, a step ladder, discarded boxes, a push broom, and paint cans



Boxes and other scatterings added. N



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It blows my mind how real these pictures look. Every time you do a close up it amazes me how realistic it is. Are the fences around the platform always going to be so crooked as part of the idea it's abandoned?


May I make a small suggestion? I'm certain this is already something you've thought of. Some of the brighter colors are very vibrant and/or glossy. Do you have a way to scuff them up and dull them for the aging effect?

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It blows my mind how real these pictures look. Every time you do a close up it amazes me how realistic it is. Are the fences around the platform always going to be so crooked as part of the idea it's abandoned?


May I make a small suggestion? I'm certain this is already something you've thought of. Some of the brighter colors are very vibrant and/or glossy. Do you have a way to scuff them up and dull them for the aging effect?



You are right about the colors. For some reason, I couldn't wait to start painting and started before buying the right colors. I thought I could make it work by suggesting it had been recently painted, but I'm rethinking that idea. Looks like I am going to paint over it.


The railings around the station I will straighten out last.


The fitting of the roof over top the station was not to my satisfaction so I'm approaching it differently. I'll have to built it in stages on the station itself. Again, trying to get ahead of myself.


Taking the roof apart and putting up a truss for the ceiling joists.



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Once I get the subtrack built, the rest is a breeze. And I love it because it's the simplest task with the biggest results. Over the weekend I was able to track most the valley down the first drop.


I'm also taking this opportunity to take some photos that I might not be able to later. I put examples of the types of photos I want to get...to go back in time and see what exactly the Airplane would look like if it were left abandoned.


Still no word on when the model will be on that TV show will be on, but here's a link.




This will be a hard shot to get after the roof is put on so I'm taking pictures like this now.


Extending the subtrack down the first drop.


Adding on the ties. I would go on to clip the ends to even them out.


The next layer of track over the ties.


The next layer would be 2 layers of 2x2's either 6 or 8 sticks wide. I use one layer of 4x4's, has the same result. This is another kind of ghostly shot that I like.


The catwalk has been added too, but you can't really see it here.


I was thinking in an earlier post, that the first drop was raised shortly after the ride opened in 1928 as evidence by the heightening of the handrail (yellow old, red newer)


I debated back and forth to stick with the original first drop or not. Since most of the photos show this configuration, I decided to go with the latter.



I couldn't fit the camera in to get exactly the right angle but I'd say this is a close match.


Some glamour shots.


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