Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Blast From The Past - Cornball Express At Indiana Beach

The Blast returns this week with part two of our look at Indiana Beach's second CCI coaster, Cornball Express.

Toward the end of February, temperatures were above freezing with monsoon like rains. Not exactly, picture perfect conditions, but we endured. We were pleasantly surprised at the amount of progress CCI had made just a few weeks. The lift hill was progressing very well, with the steel supports having reached their apex. Spreaders, walk boards and handrails were two-thirds the way up the lift. The station area was taking shape. The 4th hill and station platform were coming along nicely.

In March, workers were pounding away on the 4th hill, which runs along through the Hoosier Hurricane’s “S” curved lift hill. Several of the Hurricane’s supports, where Cornball’s track enters, had yet to be removed. Work was also continuing on the flat area of the lift hill, creating Indiana Beach’s version of the “X” coaster. The steel structure for the brake run was also in place.

Our first visit in April was a beautiful sunny day showing why the first C in CCI stands for custom, the helix fit! Crews were working 12 hours, 6 days a week in an effort to get Cornball done on time. The 3rd hill, 3rd drop, 4th hill and 4th drop had been completed. Some track work had been done on the helix and work was progressing on the structure of the 1st bunny hill. The 2nd hill was ready and waiting for track and wow, did it look severely banked. The valley of the 1st drop is right next to the Rocky Rapids log flume and if the timing’s right you will get wet (it actually happened to riders on the Media Day.)

We got a big surprise on our 10th visit, April 26th. IB General Manager, Tom Spackman Jr. took us on a personal tour of “the best” photo opportunities. It was amazing to see the progress that CCI had made in one week. There were four separate crews working on various areas of the coaster. Tracking was nearly done on the 2nd hill; the helix exit and bunny hills were ready to be tracked. The steel had been cut out of the bottom of the Hurricane’s structure for the exit out of the station and entry onto the lift hill. And the train was scheduled to arrive with in a week.

Our last tour, on May 10th, wasn’t really a construction tour. Cornball Express was finished, for the most part. The only work left to do was on the station; IB crews were working on the steps. Today, Cornball Express was going to test run. When we pulled into the parking lot at approximately 4 PM, the train was stuck on the hill entering the helix. The problem? A temporary anti-rollback had been installed on the wrong side of the track. The brake fin on the bottom of the 3rd car caught on it and stopped dead. That was around noon and there it still sat. We walked around taking photos of the train and other areas of the track that had been completed since our last visit. Finally, at 5 PM the CCI crew pushed the train free and it crawled back to the station. From our vantage point, in the Hurricane’s station, we let out a loud cheer!

After working on the trouble spot for a half an hour, the CCI crew ran the train through again. We watched it run through the course, cheering and snapping photos all along the way. We jumped up & down as Cornball Express completed its very first circuit. We watched the dozen or so circuits that Cornball ran, each getting faster and faster, with sheer delight. And even though we could not convince the foreman to let us ride (something about liability) we were extremely satisfied with our visit. Had our questions been answered? Yes! Did it fit? Definitely, even though it is approximately 100 feet longer and the lift hill is several feet higher than the original specs, Cornball Express fit very well, very well indeed!