Machine Design

Top thrill, tough challenge

The world's tallest, fastest roller coaster, Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster, has been anything but thrilling lately.

The coaster, which shoots riders from 0 to 120 mph in 4 sec up a 420-ft hill, has spent most of the three months since its debut grounded by mechanical problems. Powering the dragsterlike trains up the mammoth hill is a proprietary hydraulic-launch system built by Swiss ride manufacturer Intamin AG (For details of how it works, see Machine Design, 05/08/03, pg. 52). Engineers from Intamin and Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio, have been working around the clock trying to fix various problems, which have included a faulty valve, broken cable, and electrical problems in the launch system that kept it from firing off. Cedar Point hopes to have the ride up and running on a regular basis soon, but if problems persist, reports say the launch system may need to be reworked.

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