Friday, September 4, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - A Look At Dollywood's Lightning Rod Progress

Dollywood is very excited about the progress they are making on Lightning Rod so far.

The station will soon be the tallest structure in the Juke Box Junction area.

The Linear Synchronous Motors will be powered by a large bank of capacitors, sort of a giant scale "flux" capacitor of Back to the Future fame. Thinking of that movie, it's now 2015 and where are my self-lacing shoes and my hoverboard?

Looking through the vertical beams of the station you can see lots of footers along with a large crew going up the launch/lift hill. So how do all those footer magically appear?

First you have to dig a hole at the right spot, to the right depth. The white post has a laser reflector built in for accurate measurement of the location.

Here one of the crew is leveling the bottom and making sure the depth is correct. More about why that is critical later.

This is a close-up of the laser reflector on the pole.

This theodolite shoots a laser beam to the reflector and verifies that the footer can be place in the right spot.

The rusty forms are used to cast the footers onsite, but not in the hole. While others are digging out the beds for the precast footers, another team starts making them. You can see lots of hardware that will be used to bolt everything together in the background.

A coaster with the length of Lightning Rod requires lots of footers, and not all of them are identical.

The taller ones were cast with the spiral cardboard forms instead of the reusable metal forms.

These footers have been placed and back filled, and they will support the structure for the big drop soon after the launch. Everything arrives precut onsite so accuracy is paramount.

Another crew is busy assembling the bents. They put them together on the ground, and then a crane moves them into position where they are bolted together.

Right now the bent crew is located next to the little dip right after the launch, way up at the top of the hill above the park.

Here a couple crew members are taking the high road to work. It's a fun gig, if you can get it.

Another crew member is adding additional bracing and bolting it all together.

Here is what the galvanized steel ledgers look like on the ground,

and here they are bolted in place. Notice the pivoting plates on the top. They allow for easier construction and a smoother ride on the finished product.

These track pieces are ready to be bolted on top of the ledgers. Once the track is in place, non-shrinking concrete is injected into the square tube already mounted on top of the wood bed. The concrete reduces vibration by adding structural rigidity to the ride. Topper track is only available from Rocky Mountain Construction, which is why they are so busy right now.

Our thanks to Pete from Dollywood and the Rocky Mountain Construction crew for their assistance during the construction tour. You guys be safe, and since this is possibly the hottest week of the year, be sure to stay hydrated. So who is ready to ride?