Big Thunder Block Brakes

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Apr 17, 2017
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So obviously a coaster like Big Thunder Mountain can’t run multiple trains simultaneously without block brakes. There’s just a few questions I have about them, and I will use the American versions of the ride as examples given that I am most familiar with how they work. So in case you don’t know, there are several block brakes throughout the coaster. Not just the lift hills, station, and final brakes, but there are actual block brakes scattered within - three to be exact. There is one right before the second and third lift hills, and one right before the drop through the dinosaur bones. The thing is, they are all on slightly uphill sections. That means if a train were to stop on one of these block brakes, the whole ride would have to shut down to allow a crew to winch the train to the next method of propulsion because these brakes are not accompanied with a train propulsion system (drive tires or in this case LIMs). If a train were released from one of these blocks, it would instead fall backwards and valley. So why were block sections on Big Thunder Mountain implemented this way knowing that all this would happen if a train were to stop on one of these? Why couldn’t they be integrated in a way that would allow for more smoother operations (like placing them on flat or downhill sections). Wouldn’t be more clever to have the first two aforementioned block brakes right before the second and third lift hills on the straightaways where the extra section of chain would be? Which brings me to my next question - why exactly is there an extended section of chain right before each lift on this coaster? Maybe it acts to slow the train down or something? There’s just so many questions I have about this ride, let me know if you have answers.
 
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Apr 16, 2017
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My only guess is the uphill portion is a safety backup, in case the train doesn't fully stop, it will hopefully at least slow down and the the uphill will help naturally slow it down every more.
 

b.mac

Wild Mouse Nerd
May 14, 2011
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For the blocking bit, Disney is so focused on capacity that they do not want the trains stopping on the course outside of major downtime incidents. Any little bit they can do to improve the capacity they will take, which is why their rides push out over 2,000 riders per hour minimum.

As for the chain lift thing, it's to ensure that the train is fully engaged with the lift in case there's a stoppage. If a train is not fully engaged the chain dogs run the risk of slipping since they're carrying more weight. There's a few other issues that can happen that can damage the chain, the lift motor, the trains, or all three, but the most common one is the chain dogs slipping as the train is attempting to engage on the lift.
 
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Joe

#RIPVolcano
Feb 12, 2011
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For the blocking bit, Disney is so focused on capacity that they do not want the trains stopping on the course outside of major downtime incidents. Any little bit they can do to improve the capacity they will take, which is why their rides push out over 2,000 riders per hour minimum.
This is very interesting, but I still don’t really understand. How does placing the block breaks at uphill portions of track improve the capacity?
 

b.mac

Wild Mouse Nerd
May 14, 2011
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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
This is very interesting, but I still don’t really understand. How does placing the block breaks at uphill portions of track improve the capacity?
All about block placement to ensure the dispatch interval is as consistent as possible. Having uphill blocks like that also enables for the ride to not need to trim the trains' speeds as much.

Schwarzkopf is also fairly notable for doing this, Revolution, Sooperdooperlooper, and quite a few of their portable looper models do it.
 
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Jul 31, 2017
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Disney is so concerned with capacity on this ride (and many others) they are able to add a train without stopping the ride. They wait until certain trains are in the first and third lifts and then they bring in train #5 from the maintenance bay. It's a relatively seamless process.
 
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Dec 11, 2019
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Disney is so concerned with capacity on this ride (and many others) they are able to add a train without stopping the ride. They wait until certain trains are in the first and third lifts and then they bring in train #5 from the maintenance bay. It's a relatively seamless process.
That’s crazy. Do the other BTMRs have this feature too?
 
Feb 14, 2019
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Beat me to it! It's fascinating to also learn about WDW's version having the storage shed so far away requiring a transfer track over the railroad and that it can stack 2 trains on the ride side of the transfer track.
 
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