We enjoy riding these thrill rides (well, some of us do!) but have you ever wondered how they operate? The answer lies in the forces at work inside the ride, which make the ride so thrilling. The roller coaster’s chain lift is connected to a motorised pulley system that has gears at the top and bottom of the track. At the summit, the chain is released and the coaster’s rider is lifted into the air. For more information on hydraulics and Hydraulic Power Unit uses, visit www.hydraproducts.co.uk/Hydraulic-Power-Units/Standard-Power-Units
The biggest force at work on a coaster is gravity, which pulls the rider forward on a downhill slope and pulls them backward on an uphill journey. A coaster operates with no engine because all it needs is gravity! The car also experiences friction between the car wheels and the track. This action counteracts the force of gravity and keeps the rider pinned in the seat. However, the roller coaster’s loops offer the most thrill!
When a roller coaster takes a loop, it forces the rider to move backwards, which is the part that offers the greatest thrill. The force exerted by gravity forces the rider outwards, and this pushes the rider back. The acceleration force, however, counteracts this effect, and the rider is pushed upwards at the end of the loop.
The biggest thrill of a roller coaster comes during the loop, and it requires some basic knowledge of mechanics. During the first climb, the ride’s potential energy is the largest. This is then converted to kinetic energy when the ride begins to descend. The same applies at the bottom of the drop. Once the rider has reached the top, the momentum increases and the rider’s energy is converted into kinetic energy.
During the initial part of the ride, the rider uses potential energy to accelerate forward. The energy then turns into kinetic energy as the ride crests the hill. The final loop is the most thrilling, and is called the “shockwave” of the ride.
When we ride, we experience gravitational forces called g-forces. This energy can be attributed to a few different types of force on the ride. The acceleration is at the bottom of the hill, and at the top, it is equivalent to the acceleration of the gravity. The second force is the momentum at the top of the hill. This is the first force that the train experiences as it travels.