Thursday, December 18, 2014

Updated Update! Honest Abe Finds a New New Home

Back in 2014 we posted about the discovery of a long lost Arrow locomotive called Honest Abe.
That story continues as Abe will now be starting a new life running around Daniels Wood Land in Paso Robles, CA.

They report that they've broken ground on a 35,000 square foot, purpose built factory situated on 4 acres which will include an out door themed display and event area, fully themed offices and showroom, and Abe who they bought to take people on proper tours around the property!

We wish the best of luck to the wild and crazy guys as they chase their themed dreams.
You can also visit their web site.

Here is the part of the previous story about Abe's awakening;

36" ga. Arrow Development Train
Made by the Arrow Development company this "Steam Outline" train is powered by a 190 HP 4 cyl. propane engine (not running).  
The train includes 4 Passenger coaches each holding 18 passengers.  Also included are approximately 6,800' of 16 pound rail, 5 barrels of rail spikes and rail joiners and 1 rail spacing gauge.  Built in the early 60s, there where 14 of these trains made. 
Located between Seattle and Portland, OR.

The owner, Ron Brett, writes:

"I was told by the person I bought it from that it originally ran around a shopping center in Seattle WA. Both were removed to make room for the worlds fair in 1962. The person who purchased it then had his own carnival and would set it up at different fairs in the northwest. Eventually he sold the train to someone in Eatonville WA. who couldn’t pay, so it was repossessed and sat neglected for many years.

When I retired I bought 26 acres just south of Toledo Washington, where my wife and I started a farm and pumpkin patch called Story Book Farm.  I thought that a train would be a good addition and I had heard about this train sitting in the bushes around Marysville WA.  Eventually I located it and the owner. It took a year to convince him to sell. He moved the train to my property outside Toledo 3 yrs. ago."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Preserving the stuff of History

Hanging on the wall in the front hall of a modest house in Southern California is half of a carousel horse, with a long flowing mane and a short cropped tail.  Poised mid-leap, head erect, prancing towards the front door. For many years it hung on the office wall of one of Arrow's directors.

Before the pony was brought down from the attic, the wall was occupied by a large collage of photographs documenting the entire history of Arrow Development, which were donated to someone out of state.

During a conversation with the horse's loving owners, the contents of two large filing cabinets were mentioned. A detailed record of nearly every financial transaction the family had over the course of their employment at Arrow, which were spring-cleaned away years ago.

We stand on the brink of a great divide. As digital media becomes more and more prevalent, the collected knowledge and wisdom of previous generations is being left behind - or discarded - thru simple, honest, acts of oversight.

Unlike the Great Library of Alexandria, these records aren't held in a grand and wonderful edifice. These records are in closets and attics, boxes and bookshelves all around the country.  Slides, movies, postcards, letters and magazines, many of which have never been published, even though they technically fell into the public domain years ago.

Help transcribe the stories and keep the legends alive. Convert the acts of victory, sacrifice and struggle into a form that future generations will have easy access to. Honor and preserve their wisdom. It might help someone else avoid a mistake, do something amazing, or even change the world.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Midget Autopia Inspiration?

This undated article entitled M.V. PLANT KEEPS KIDS HAPPY features a photograph of Arrow employees John Jackson, Dick Ellsworth and Karl Bacon assembling what looks like Midget Autopia cars, until you read the caption, which states that Arrow has built 56 of them for Kaiser-Darren Jr. midget cars of Oakland, some of which had already been shipped to Hawaii.

The Kaiser-Darren 161 was a limited production sports car, built in 1954 by Kaiser Motors to compete with European sports cars like the Triumph TR-2 being introduced to the US after World War II. Designed by Howard "Dutch" Darrin, a revamp of Kaiser's Henry J compact, the Kaiser-Darrin was noted for being the first American car with a fiberglass body and doors on tracks which slid into the front fender wells. Only six prototypes and 435 production cars were ever built.

A brief trip to the web (Flickr) turned up this photo of a Kaiser-Darrin kiddie car at a Southern California auto show. 

Now, compare all three photos; the Midget Autopia car at the Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, MO, the kiddie Kaiser-Darren and and a restored Kaiser-Darrin in Arizona.

Midget Autopia Car at Disney Hometown Museum

1954 Kaiser-Darrin

Perhaps we now we know the inspiration for the body style of the Midget Autopia cars.

I recently came across Wade Sampson's interview where Bob Gurr commented on Arrow Development and the Midget Autopia Attraction.

WS: Marceline is in the process of rebuilding the Midget Autopia.

BG: I had nothing to do with that attraction when it was at Disneyland. It was a stock Arrow Development ride.

WS: Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon of Arrow don’t always get credit for their contributions to Disneyland.

BG: Ed and Karl were guys I really liked to work with. They were so practical and willing to tackle anything for Walt. Joe Fowler was the main liaison between Disney and Arrow. Roger Broggie, Fowler, Ed and Karl all operated as a single force, always productive and never any ego getting in the way. I learned a whole bunch of simplified ways to do production drawing from them that I used for decades afterward.

Knott quite the way I remember it

Last Friday we spent some time at a few of our favorite places in and around Orange County, including our mandatory annual visit to Balboa Island and Corona del Mar. Along the way we stopped off at Knott's Berry Farm, which I hadn't visited in so long that I could barely recognize it.

While my wife picked up a large jar of the world famous Boysenberry Jam, which had disappeared from our grocer's shelves about year ago, I picked up a copy of Jay Jennings' Knott's Berry Farm - The Early Years which was sitting by the cash register. It was printed by Arcadia Publishing and fully up to their usual high level of quality.

As I flipped thru the pages, I was somewhat surprised  at some of the statements about Knott's rides and Bud Hurlburt. The text praised Bud's honesty and ingenuity and left me with the impression that he personally designed and built most, if not all, of the early rides, in particular the Calico Mine Train Ride, Timber Mountain Log Ride and Antique Auto Ride.

Rather than jump to any conclusions, I decided to do a bit more research and headed out onto the web. There was a lot of material there, including an article from Yesterland. It stated;

"Hurlbut was an innovator, and his inventions, like flume rides and various motors, were adopted later by much of the theme park industry."

"Unlike Disney, which has teams of talented Imagineers and other specialists to help create each new attraction, Bud had mainly himself to rely on. This is all the more amazing when you consider how much more elaborate, say, the Calico Mine Ride was in comparison to Disney’s Matterhorn—opened just a year apart from one another."

"Other Hurlbut attractions included the well-loved Antique Auto Ride, which was later renamed the Tijuana Taxi when that area of Knott’s was re-christened “Fiesta Village.” 

Bud made sure the ride was not simply a car on a track, but that the passengers would experience an adventure going through all kinds of terrain and past a variety of colorful and amusing scenes."

Many of the older attractions in Fiesta Village also began as Hurlbut concessions. Many of these were relatively familiar rides from a mechanical perspective, but were made colorful and unique by Bud’s focus on appropriate theming and detail.

The photo above shows the Happy Sombreros, a “Tea Cups” clone that featured colorful chili bowls topped with huge fiberglass sombreros. Note that even the operator’s booth and wrought-iron fencing and arches reflect a sense of Old Mexico or Early California.

Now, I'll admit I tend to err on the side of literal interpretation when I read or hear things, but the message seemed pretty clear to me; Bud Hurlbut invented the rides at Knott's Berry Farm, nearly single-handedly. At that point alarm bells started going off in my head. 

Among the documents Shane Huish shared with me was a seven page list of Arrow rides, dated June 1st, 1979.  It's typewritten and stapled in the upper left corner. Titled Arrow Developent Co., Inc. Ride Locations, It lists over 200 ride systems. There are five references to rides at Knott's Berry Farm; The first is in the Corkscrews section, line 4; Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park California.

Next was the Steeplechase ride:

What followed, on page 3, in the Flumes Section, really caught my attention. There, between King's Island's Hydro and Log flume rides and Libertyland's Log Boat ride it reads: Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park California, ('69) Log Boat.

The Knott's Berry Farm website describes the flume ride;

"This classic attraction, which opened at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1969, remains as one of the most elaborate log flume rides in the U.S. The much anticipated attraction opened in July 11, 1969 with screen legend John Wayne taking the inaugural ride.

The $3.5 million attraction was originally funded entirely by its designer Bud Hurlbut who had previously designed Knott’s Berry Farm’s classic Calico Mine Ride. Hurlbut, a pioneer in the theme park attraction industry, wanted his flume ride to be a completely immersive experience."

By this time, I had virtual steam coming out of my ears. I needed to sanity check myself, so I went back thru some original Arrow sales material I received from Walter Schultze's daughter Linda. 

There, on the front cover of the December 1975 Arrow Flumes and Automobiles brochures were the two other pictures I knew I'd seen somewhere before. First the flume ride. I've overlaid it on top of the image on Knott's current web site for easy comparison;

Next the Antique Autos. Again, the large image is the Knott ride and the insets are from the 1975 Arrow Automobile product brochure. The radiator on the Knott ride is more rounded, but the side lamps are identical. The Knott ride is also missing the convertible top.

Next, I checked with Linda to see if Arrow did the Antique Auto ride at Knotts. She answered without hesitation;

"Yes, of course.  I remember going to Knott's with my parents when they were putting in the rides there."

There was just one more thing to check, on the Arrow 1979 ride list:

UPDATE:  I received a message from Werner Weiss which sheds even more light on the matter: According to Chris Jepsen, John Waite, one of Bud's close associates, says;

"After the success of the Mine Ride, Bud started to pursue the idea that he had about a ride where riders would ride a log type vehicle down a mountain slope (flume) and splash into a pond.  He had read books where it told of loggers doing this sometimes with fatal results.  He thought of a wheeled vehicle riding on tracks under the water.  He then realized that it was not a good idea to have all the wheels and everything under the water, so he approached his good friends at Arrow Development, Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon, about this idea.  

Bud paid for the research that Arrow did up at their plant in Mountain View. He had successfully worked with them on the development of his Car Ride (at Knott's -df) that became one of Arrow's most successful rides at that time.  Bud kept in close contact with them on their testing of a free floating log boat. 

Arrow built a 12' tall model of a drop into a channel of water up at their plant.  When they finally told Bud that they felt they could build a full sized ride, Bud decided he didn't want the first installation.  At that same time Six Flags Over Texas was looking for a new ride and asked Bud if he would let them put in the first Log Ride. Arrow paid Bud back all the money he had spent on experimentation and then opened the first Log Ride that Arrow ever built. (El Aserradero - df) 

This original ride is still in use at SFOT. I think Bud's ride was the 6th or 9th one that they built, and it was the first one to be built in and around a mountain. I also think the logs for Bud's ride were the longest ones they ever built at 11 feet.

Bud had recovered his investment in the Mine Ride within two years and was doing so well that he could afford a larger investment now with the Log Ride. Bud wisely didn't like to take chances and that is why he wanted the Log Ride concept to be tested and proven. With the Mine Ride he was willing to go ahead on his own and develop his idea without another one out there to base his design upon. Bud understood trains but water rides were another story. 

Bud relied a lot on his right hand man, Harry Suker, to help on that design and the building of the ride. Harry came with Bud to help him get the Mine Ride built and then he helped with the building of the Log Ride. He managed both rides for Bud and helped Bud with the building of Castle Park in Riverside."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Arrow's "Mystery" Founder

Walter Schulze perusing business about 1968
While gathering images and stories for this blog and Building Disney's Dream, I was contacted by someone who claimed that her father was one of Arrow's founders. This came a surprise, as I wasn't aware of anyone except Andy Anderson, Bill Hardiman, Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon having anything to do with Arrow's birth.

There was one photo of several men standing around a miniature car that included Walt Disney, Joe Fowler, Dick Irvine, Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan, but I hadn't been able to identify one man on the far left. It turned out that man was Walter Schulze, who stepped onto Arrow's stage a bit later but filled a vital role in their future success.

Graduating from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with an MBA, Walter and his wife Pauline were transferred to San Francisco about 1946. Walts' father, Henry, had been a Vice President and ran the Fore River shipyards in Quincy Massachusetts until his untimely death in 1941, so Walter knew a thing or two about ship building.

During World War II, San Francisco Bay Area shipbuilders produced nearly half of all the cargo ship tonnage and 20 percent of warship tonnage built in the entire country, building an average of one ship per day for the duration of the war. Disney fans will also recall that Admiral Joe Fowler was nautically inclined.

In addition to his day job, Walter and Pauline did accounting for several small businesses in the Bay Area, including Dura-Bond Bearing, thru which Walter had heard of Arrow Development. He is the mystery man on the left in the photograph shpwing Disney, Irvine, Fowler, Bacon and Morgan inspecting an Arrow Antique Ford automobile, around 1954.

Walter Schulze, Karl Bacon, Dick Irvine, Joe Fowler, Ed Morgan and Walt Disney
(image courtesy of Robert Reynolds)

Walter's daughter Linda recalls that her father joined Arrow about 1953, after hearing that one of the founders was interesting in selling his share of the company.  Schulze borrowed $15,000 from his mother Edna and purchased a 1/3 interest. From that time on he became the point man in all of Arrow's business dealings, setting prices for ride systems and filling the role of treasurer and accountant. It was likely the combination of Schulze's business sense, Karl's design skill, Ed's manufacturing prowess and Walt Disney's focus on the customer that laid the foundation for much of Arrow's future success.

Even as late as 1956 Arrow was struggling to achieve profitability. Caroline Anderson Moyers, daughter of Arrow co-founder Andy Anderson, recalls that the contract with Disney for the Fantasyland rides was fixed at $250,000.  She also has a copy of correspondence from her dad to Bank of America, dated April 1956, stating that he was no longer an owner of Arrow. Andy and Bill left Arrow in the mid-50's and eventually started their own business doing residential construction, although they maintained their relationships with Arrow well into the 1970's.

After Disneyland opened, Walt asked about how Arrow had come out on the deal and discovered that they had lost money on the contract. In his classic style, Disney simply wrote a check to cover the difference. Four years later he would buy 1/3 of Arrow in an effort to assure their viability. By 1971, when Arrow was sold to Rio Grande Industries, the company was valued at $3 Million.  Much of the credit for the a 6600% increase in value has to go to Walter Schulze's business acumen.

Linda Schulze had a job as a secretary at Disney in the early 70's and recalls that by that point the relationship between Arrow and Disney had begun to cool. Her father was also looking to retire and spend more time in civic activities - he had been a huge booster of the Rotary Club - and wanted to travel. That had a significant influence on Karl and Ed's decision to sell, as the company had grown to the point that it was no longer possible for any one partner to raise enough personal capital to finance a buyout. Although all three would consult to RGI for a few years after the sale, no new projects were funded during that time. RGI would sell Arrow to Huss in November of 1981.

Walter Shulze died on November 17, 1984 in Los Altos, California. Years earlier, he'd sold off all of his RGI stock. He may have had some sense of what was to come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ed Morgan - Manufacturing Man (Update)

Of all the research I did for Building Disney's Dream, personal material on Ed Morgan was the most difficult to come by, although in terms of commonality he was literally closest to home for me. Ed didn't talk much about himself. When he did talk, it was often in praise of his dear friend Karl Bacon.  Rob Reynolds quoted Ed in his book, Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers;

"I don't want to be a big shot; I want to share any attention with Karl. I definitely wouldn't have been as successful had I not met Karl Bacon. We generated ideas and projects together, often over lunch in the conference room. I was the guy that made them happen from the mechanical standpoint; Karl was the guy who did the math. We complemented each other completely and without strife of any kind.”

Ed's family and uncle Holden had moved to Palo Alto in 1928. Ed graduated from Palo Alto High school in 1933. My family moved to Palo Alto in 1961 and I graduated from "Paly" in 1972.

Ed's Palo Alto High Graduation Photo
Ed's first job out of high school was working as an automobile mechanic at Barron Park Auto in 1935. He was working 60 hours per week, making about $1500 per month and paying $30 a month in rent. That was at a time when a car cost $580, gasoline was19 cents a gallon, a house cost $6,300, bread was 8 cents a loaf, milk was 47 cents a gallon, a stamp cost 3 cents and the average salary was $1,500 per year.  He was clearly a hard working man.

My first job during high school was pumping gas at Don's Union 76 in Menlo Park. I loved working on cars and also worked at the European Stable in Redwood City for several months, after I graduated from college. Ed wasn't a number cruncher. Back then, I hated math.

Ed and Betty in 1945
When my family moved to Palo Alto in 1961 Ed was living at 1060 Oregon Avenue, just a few blocks east of our address on Bryant.  I must have ridden my bicycle and later driven my car, past that spot hundreds of times on the way to the Palo Alto airport or yacht harbor.

About 1961
Ed was from nearly the same generation as my dad, who was born in 1923. My dad worked for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, who also contracted work to Arrow. My dad also wasn't much to brag on himself, but was always ready to lend a helping hand and instinctively knew which end of any tool was the handle.

Ed also got three patents for amusement park boats. The first for a design used on two ride systems at Disneyland and the the second for a tip resistant bumper boat;

Small World / Pirates Boat - USD204282

Tip Resistant Bumper Boat - US3827387

In the historical references for US3827387, it appears that the rights to the bumper boat design were assigned to Arrow-Huss on Feb 2, 1981, to Huss Holdings (USA) LTD on October 2, 1981, and then to Vekoma Technology B.V. on July 15, 1988.

Although I never met Ed Morgan personally, I think we would have had a lot to talk about.

About 1986

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dumbo Under the Hood

Parading Pink Pachyderms

Arrow co-founder Andy Anderson's daughter Carolyn kindly shared this image of the Dumbo attraction concept art. It was provided to Arrow by Disney and has some interesting details which differ from the current configurations.

The official story about the Dumbo attraction reads:

"As a jovial organ melody begins, Dumbo gracefully lifts off from the ground and magically begins to fly round and round above a dancing water fountain. Feel the wind race across your face as faithful friend Timothy Q. Mouse—resting on a decorative hot-air balloon in the center of what looks to be a vintage circus-themed toy—directs the action with help from his “magic” feather."

Werner Weiss's wonderful Yesterland site web page has some terrific photos taken between 1954 and 2006 which reveal some interesting changes over the years. If you do some detective work, there is even more to the story.

Dumbo was one of the opening day attractions at Disneyland, however, the Wikipedia article says that Dumbo opened on August 16, 1955 - a month after the July 17th press opening. The delay was caused by a problem with the system's hydraulics, which had been sized to lift 500 pound elephants that ended up weighing 700.  Karl and Ed explained it this way:

"Disney gave us so much work that we couldn’t do it all... so we hired an engineer to help with Dumbo. He used... accumulators... one for each elephant.  But they would get out of balance, since there was nothing to separate the oil from the nitrogen." 

An accumulator is the hydraulic equivalent of a capacitor.  Partly filled with pressurized gas and partly filled with liquid, it is used to smooth out oscillations in the fluid flow and act as a pressure reserve when the pump capacity isn't large enough to handle temporary overloads. The problem is that without a barrier between the hydraulic fluid and the gas, the gas can begin to permeate into the fluid. Then, if the pressure is released, the gas expands and creates foam, like when you first open a bottle of carbonated soda.

The Dumbo lift system was supposed to use pressure in the accumulators to balance the weight of the elephant cars and riders while the main pump provided the power to move them up and down. In theory it was a great idea, but by the time the cars were delivered they'd gained 200 pounds of weight over the original specification, which probably overloaded the system. As the elephants flew up and down, alternately raising and quickly dropping the pressure, the high pressure gas in the fluid began to expand and cause it to foam. There was no way to keep the oil and gas separated the result was that the system became very unstable. 

The short term solution was to leave Arrow employee Paul Harvey there to do what Ed called "milking the elephants." Between rides, Paul would drain the system and put in fresh hydraulic fluid. Karl designed a fix, but it delayed the actual opening day by a month.

Paul Harvey - Elephant Milker
Other changes include the color of the elephants, Timmy's whip, and moving ears.

In the planing stages there were ten pink pachyderms, patterned after the Pink Elephants on Parade part of the Dumbo story, which explains the color in the concept art above. Walt changed them all to grey, so they all became Dumbo.

Timmy with whip (left) and feather (right)
Moveable and Fixed Ears (Yesterland)

The moving ears were also a victim of Dumbo's hydraulic system insufficiency. They were removed as a part of a weight reduction effort, probably because they were easier to change than the main hydraulic cylinders which were upsized in later versions. (See below)

For comparison, here is an image of another type of hydraulic system which Arrow would have been very familiar with, and possibly inspired by from their automobile repair work;

Northern Tool's Engine Hoist (2014)

Eventually it all sorted out, but as the old saying goes; The Devil is in the Details.

By the way, there may be a new Dumbo style ride on the way. Last year, Disney filed a patent (20110312428) for one with airplanes on extensible arms.

Planes comes to the Magic Kingdom...?

This would mark a return to the granddaddy of this theme of go-round, designed by Clifford F. Kennedy in 1939;

In the mean time, you could try doing one of these in your back yard;

Well... maybe not.

For those of you who can stand a little math, here is a basic static vector analysis just to see the magnitude of overload those 200 extra pounds created;

As you can see, what started out as 2700 pounds of force at the lift point turns into 3800 pounds; a 40% increase. Add to that up to 300 more pounds of riders and, well... you get the idea. Which is part of the reason why the later style lift cylinders are fatter and huskier, as shown on the left below.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Logger's Revenge (1977)

For over 100 years the family owned Santa Cruz Sentinel faithfully reported on goings-on in the area, with particular emphasis on items of local interest like surfing and agriculture, so it's natural that they would proudly report on activity at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, which opened in 1907.

Today we're looking at a particularly large and lavishly photographed 1977 article by Dale Pollock, detailing the construction of the Logger's Revenge flume ride, which opened that season.

It is interesting to note that the Morgan mentioned in the article is Ed's son Dana, who had left Arrow in 1974 to became the general manager of the Boardwalk. When Huss purchased Arrow from RGI in 1981, Dana was appointed president of Arrow-Huss. Two years later, he would start D. H. Morgan Manufacturing. DHM's first order was to build new trains for the Boardwalk's Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.

The article also mentions that there were forty other Arrow flume rides at amusement parks around the world, so the break from Disney hadn't hurt cash flow too much over the previous several years.

Additionally, in November of 1977, Arrow would announce their plans to produce a whole new type of ride; the suspended roller coaster, the first of which was The Bat at King's Mountain, so the little Arrow train still had plenty of steam left in her. (The article's proclamation of the death of the Wild Mouse, which ran from 1958 to 1976, was a bit premature, as Wild Mouse style coasters would continue their runs at Santa Cruz, at least thru 2014.)

More than 24,000 gallons of water per minute will flow thru the fiberglass flume set atop steel pillars 55 feet above the beach.

Santa Cruz Sentinel - Thursday January 27, 1977

A Million Dollar Splash

Logger’s Revenge Taking Shape at the Boardwalk

Sentinel Staff Writer

The Wild Mouse is dead. Long live the Logger’s Revenge!

Rather than a fantasy from "Alice in Wonderland,” the above slogan might serve to announce the fact that the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has a new ride, an expensive flume contraption that will cause a $1 million splash.

The Logger’s Revenge will take patrons on a wild and wooly trip 55 feet above the beach, riding a jet stream of water coming out at the rate of 24,000 gallons per minute.

To add to the verisimilitude of the experience, a replica of an old saw mill will be used as the loading platform, and the boats themselves resemble huge hollowed-out logs, albeit made of fiberglass and foam padding.

“We feel this will be a real natural for this area with its logging history’, observed Dana Morgan, supervising the 27 construction workers who are busy completing the ride for its April 1 grand opening.

The decision is never as easy as saying, “Let’s have a new ride,” explained Don Theobald of the Seaside Company.  There are 40 editions of the logger’s ride at amusement parks around the world, all manufactured by the Arrow Development Company of Mountain View.

A replica of an old Santa Cruz Sawmill begins to take shape at the Boardwalk 
"It has been the largest volume ride at Marriott’s Great America,” Theobald admits, but he stresses that the Boardwalk has been eying the attraction for some time, especially as the wild mouse was turning gray after 18 years.

Morgan, who used to work for the Arrow ride wizards, points out that no two of the logger rides are the same.  The Boardwalk is also distinguishing it’s version with the realistically-furnished sawmill, which will have a working 14-foot water wheel, and a heap of logging artifacts, thanks to the advice of Bud McCrary from Big Creek Luber.

Its the ride itself that grabs the boardwalkers, of course, and the flume experience should be one they will not easily forget.  The log boats will leave every 10 seconds on their twisting path up the fiberglass flume, which towers above the beach on heavy steel supports.

That means over 1300 riders per hour who will ride the 2 1/2 minute excursion, from the rough-hewn station over the Southern Pacific railroad tracks, and then down a perilous 45-foot hill until the logboats  hit the water with a resounding splash.

For all the thrills and chills, both Morgan and Theobald stress that the Logger’s Revenge is a very safe ride.  When loggers would actually ride logs down a flume, it was extremely dangerous,” Theobald notes.  “This ride is extremely safe, since the safety factor is our prime concern.”

Construction has been under way since Oct.15, with giant cranes hoisting the immense support pillars up, along with setting the supports in heavy concrete bases.  All the materials have been painted green to blend with nearby foliage, and Theobald and Morgan proudly cite the fact that nary a tree was cut down to install the ride.

Steelworkers ready the large supports for the fiberglass flume sections.
(Note the distinctive Arrow styling.)

That doesn’t mean there won’t be changes at the Boardwalk with the new attraction. Three other rides had to be adjusted to make room for the newcomer. Now the Cave Trains will wind their way around the basement support pillars, while th eAuto-Rama will have a few poles to navigate around, too.

The water is what makes the flume ride work and this particular model has a reservoir built into it that will hold 60,000 gallons of water, constantly filtered and recycled.  Two 250 horsepower pumps will push the water up the flume, at which point gravity takes over to circulate the liquid propulsion and return it to the reservoir.

The boats are actually  slowed down by their impact into the water at the end of the 45 foot drop, where a large pond will be constructed to catch the overflow.  Electronic controls will make sure the boats don’t run into one another and there’s even a trouble-shooter to check the troubleshooting equipment.

The major difficulty in setting up a new ride, Morgan relates, is to jibe all the different plans, factors and space limitations.  Almost a year of designs preceded the start of construction, in which “we had to sandwich all the required components together to meed the requirements of capacity and length.”

In other words, there isn’t much room for new rides at the Boardwalk. As Theobald notes, looking up at the the venerable Giant Dipper.  “Now we’ll see if steel and fiberglass will last as long as the Dipper’s wood frame which has been here for 52 years and 21 million rides.”

The Giant Dipper doesn’t have to worry, but the poor Wild Mouse lies dismembered and forgotten in a nearby parking lot.  Now the Logger’s Revenge is the new king, silently waiting for the screams and squeals of its future passengers come April 1.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Coasters & Flume 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

Karl Bacon's Footprints

Over the course of his career at Arrow, Karl Bacon was included on six shared and awarded five individual patents:

Shared Patents
3,006,286 (1959) - Amusement Vehicle Apparatus - K. W. Bacon et al.
DES 189,828 (1960) - Amusement Ride Car - Karl Bacon and Edgar Morgan
3,114,332 (1960) - Bobsled Amusement Ride - Karl Bacon and Edgar Morgan
3,167,024 (1960) - Bobsled Amusement Ride - K. W. Bacon et al.
3,251,595 (1962) - Air Car and Supporting Apparatus - Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon
3,404,635 (1968) - Boat Amusement Ride - K. W. Bacon et al.

Individual Patents
3,830,161 (1973) - Flume Boat Ride with a Double Downchute
3,865,041 (1973) - Rotary Platform Vehicle Passenger Loading System
3,853,067 (1974) - Boat Amusement Ride with a Spillway
3,889,605 (1974) - Amusement Ride with Helical Track Portion
3,972,527 (1975) - Passenger Powered Rotating Amusement Ride

A closer look at these reveals some interesting details, some of which should be obvious to many current amusement park guests and also offer a glimpse into the trajectory of Karl and Arrow's history.

3,006,286 isn't long as many patents go, only five pages containing eight claims and six figures, most of which detail the pivoting nose-wheel assembly which guides and powers the car. As far as the technology goes, it's clearly descended from railroad trucks, with the exception of the use of a layer of polyurethane on the wheels to quiet the ride.  

It is a complex mechanism, with six wheels of three types, a spring loaded electrical pickup, casters and pivots and plenty of machined parts and bearings held together with nuts and bolts.

Dark Ride Front Truck
(Snow White, Mr. Toad, Alice)

What came next stepped things up significantly in terms of scale and was contained in three patents;  DES 189,828 (1 page, 1 claim, 5 figures), US3114332 (13 pages, 13 claims 12 figures) and US3167024 (4 pages, 2 claims, 5 figures).

Whereas the Amusement Vehicle Apparatus was for a fairly sedate dark ride, the Bobsled Amusement Ride was a whole system comprising a mountain with significant elevation changes, cars running on twin tubular tracks with an active speed regulation system, including a water splashdown.

Matterhorn Mashup

As complex and innovative as the Matterhorn was, it paled in comparison to the detail and level of precision required to create the next attraction; US3,251,595 - Air Car and Supporting Apparatus, aka the Flying Saucers.

With 18 Figures spread over 14 pages and 11 claims, the Air Car and Supporting Deck had it all; Pneumatics, Hydraulics, Electromechanics and thousands of pressure sensitive valves which had to automatically open and close at just the right time to keep the saucers flying. Some might say that the Air Car was a bridge too far for Arrow. Karl and Ed knew how important proper valve operation was.  An entire section of the patent was devoted to them which began:

"An important element of our invention lies in the structure and mode of automatic operation of the valves which are closely spaced in each unit."

Flying Saucers Air Table Valve
The operation of the valves isn't that complex, at least conceptually. The valve position is controlled by four things; There is pressure above and below the seal, (orange) a spring (66) and gravity. To move the valve up and close it, apply pressure to Port 2 and the piston moves up. Once closed, the plenum pressure, present everywhere in the chamber, tends to keep the valve closed. When the air car moves by, the increased pressure of the air trapped under the vehicle skirt tends to press down on the top of the valve, forcing it open. Once air is moving by Port 3, the local pressure begins to drop, which tends to reduce the pressure on the top side of the seal (in the blue area) and force the valve back up. (There is also a controlled leak at Port 1.)  If you can get the pressure balance right, all it takes is a little blockage above the top opening and things work. You don't even need to be in a fancy car, any flat sheet of plywood will do.

Karl and Walt contemplating levitating

However, things don't always work in the field the way they do in the shop.  When the system was designed in Mountain View, the volume in the chamber under the air table was larger than when the ride was built in Anaheim. This difference in size caused variations in the chamber pressure that caused the valves to spontaneously open and dump the the saucers and guests. (oops!) Changing the chamber volume was out of the question and the control needed to deal with the variations hadn't been invented yet.

The Flying Saucers attraction ran exactly five years, from August 6, 1961 to August 5, 1966. The patent was filed on May 11, 1962 and finally issued May 17, 1966, just three months before ride closed.

The last ride patent for Disney, 3,404,635, was filed on April 16, 1965 and issued October 8, 1968, almost two years after Walt's death. It illustrates most of the features used on Pirates of the Caribbean. Side by side passenger loading, conveyor belts moving the boats, a rectangular guide in the waterway, followed by a horizontal guide wheel. (9 pages, 7 figures, 12 claims)

Arrg... shift yer cargo, matey!

With the shift to in-house R & D at Disney and the sale of Arrow to Rio Grande Industries, Karl's direction and focus shifted to other things.  The patents from 1973 thru 1975 were for flume rides, corkscrew style track, the type of two level boat and water control system developed for Pirates and a rotary loading platform.

What is particularly interesting is the scope and scale of the last patent Karl filed; US 3,972,527; Passenger Powered Rotating Amusement Ride (1975), which was a continuation of a previous patent filed in 1974.

Karl's Last Ride
The primary object of the invention described in the patent was to provide an improved ride that was simple to manufacture and economical but one which still provides a thrilling experience for the rider. 

Reflecting back on the previous ride systems which Karl had created, some of which have never been matched, it's interesting to reflect on how one of the brightest amusement ride engineering minds of the last century reverted to a simple, manually powered swing for it's last patent.

Final Destination?
Maybe it's at least partly because we're all going to end up somewhere like this... someday.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Submarine Ride Under the Hood

Patent Illustration Side View
US Patent 3,114,333, Submarine Amusement Ride, was issued on December 17th, 1963 to J. W. Fowler et al.

Joseph William Fowler was a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the Naval Academy and had a Master's in Naval Architecture from M.I.T.  Disney found him supervising the building of tract homes in the Bay Area and eventually coaxed him into becoming construction boss for Disneyland in 1954. Fowler acted as General Manager of Disneyland until 1965 and stayed on board to assist in the construction of Walt Disney World. With all his experience in the design and construction of big ships, Walt must have thought Joe was the perfect fit for Disneyland's fleets.

Fowler built Navy Gunboats in Shanghai.
The Submarine Voyage replaced the Phantom Boats attraction in 1959 and was part of a major expansion of Fantasyand and Tomorrowland which included the Matterhorn Bobsleds, an expanded Autopia, the Monorail and the Motorboat Cruise.

Motorboat Cruise

There are some fun facts about the submarines;  First is that they were built at the Todd Shipyards in San Pedro, with technical support from General Dynamics Electric Boat Division, which was at one time the only builder of submarines in the United States. 

There were eight ships in the fleet; Nautilus, Triton, Sea Wolf, Skate, Skipjack, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Ethan Allen, each with a capacity of 38 guests, forming what was then the largest civilian sub fleet in the world.

The design was straight-forward and simple; a tube with portholes just below the waterline and a motor at the stern. Guests would sit back to back along the centerline in two rows and view the passing scenes.

Of the four pages of thirteen figures, two were devoted to the passenger loading and unloading features.

Beginning at line 45, the claims specifically state that the ride simulates a submarine and is not actually submersible, but preferably comprised a completely buoyant craft. The operator had no control over anything but the speed. The illusion of ascending and descending was created by a "bubble producing means (29). The lack of steerage and manual speed controls would contribute to some interesting results.

There must have been some thought given to passenger load affecting how high in the water the boat rode, since the patent stated that different passenger loads would have no effect on the guide rail means because the cage was free to slide up and down on the steering column, which was itself held firmly to the rail by lead weights or springs.

The patent further goes on to state that the guide means was particularly well adapted to following the guide rail exactly, which was important to create the illusion of the operator steering the vessel extremely close to submerged objects without any danger of actually coming in contact with them.

Specifically mentioned was that each vessel was provided with a pair of guide means (see the detail view below) which rolled on the guide rail (22) through the lagoon and building (24).

Ah, yes.  The best laid plans of mice and men...

Ed Morgan told the story that Disney was having so much trouble with the guidance system that one day they just shut the ride down because the boats were coming off the guide rail. The wheels and rail are highlighted below in the patent figure.

Patent Guide Wheel Detail
As you can see, there was no provision to keep the guide wheel in contact with the rail, except the weight of the sub and compression of the spring (88). Sometimes the telescopic shaft would bind and the wheel would lift off the guide rail, allowing the sub to run into the coral. That could knock out windows and let water pour into the hull. The ride operators had special cushions they could use to stop the hole, till the repair crew could arrive.

Morgan said that Joe Fowler called Arrow and said; “Get down here, we’re going to shut this thing down. We’ll call it winter rehab, and by the time it goes back it has to have your guidance system in it.”

Arrow redesigned the guide stem to use two pneumatic tires, with the shaft passing through them. By controlling the air pressure in the tires, they could control the compliance and control the amount of sway. This created a system that would stay on the track and even-out any roughness in the ride.

That story about Fowler is interesting. Disney vice president Bob Matheison,  recalled a conversation between Fowler and Walt in the early days. They were looking at a performing stage that featured a waterfall, with a dressing room off to the side.

''Walt turned to Joe and said, 'I'd like to part the water and let the entertainers come out, and then have the waterfall close behind them.' ''Joe never batted an eye,'' Matheison recounted. ''He just said, 'Can do, can do.' I know he had no idea how he was going to part the water, but he said it without hesitation - 'Can do.' And, by golly, he went ahead and did it. He parted the water and closed it back up again.'' 

Fowler later recalled in an interview; ''Walt said to me a couple of days after I was hired, 'Now look, I will try to have the ideas, and you make the engineering realities of them.' ''

That probably characterized What's attitude towards Arrow as well.

D-305 Triton
Here are a few technical facts on the attraction and the subs, courtesy of;

Attraction Data
Length of guide rail - 1,365 feet
Ride Capacity - 1,410 guests/hr.
Water in lagoon and caverns - 9,000,000 gallons
Cost  - $2.5 Million
Filter system capacity - 3,000 gallons per hour
Filter system motors - (2) 25 hp electric
Highest Attendance - 20,976 - July 4, 1965

Sub Data
Displacement – 94,000 pounds
Length - 52 feet
Propulsion - 40 hp 4 cylinder diesel-electric motor running at 1,500 rpm
Propeller - 34” dia. 4 blades, bronze
Speed - 1.7 mph
Fuel consumption - 1.6 gallons per hour
Cost  -  $80,625 each

Arrow's fix may have cured the steerage issues, but the manual speed control remained. David Koenig, author of an unauthorized history of Disneyland called Mouse Tales, relates the story of an incident on Pearl Harbor Day in 1974 when two submarines collided, leaving 38 Japanese tourists standing on their seats, neck-high in water, before making their way onto the pilot's ladder, or climbing out the loading hatches and swimming into the lagoon. How do you say "Abandon Ship!" in Japanese? (Google says it's pronounced Fune o hōki suru!)

I don't recall there being anything in the pre-show commentary about your seat cushions serving as flotation devices in the event of need to evacuate the boat. Maybe I was distracted by the mermaids...