Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Down to the Wire

Casey waits for Disney's Finishing Touches
From the internal references, this article was written Thursday, July 14th, 1955, the day after the Disneyland TV program on progress at the park was broadcast on Wednesday, July 13, 1955. Disneyland opened three days later, on Sunday, July 17th, 1955. 

Amusement rides built in the local area and based on the famous Walt Disney animated cartoon characters were featured on “Disneyland” television show last night on Channel 7. (KGO TV San Francisco -df)

Arrow Development Co., located at 243 Moffett Blvd., Mountain View, engineered and constructed five rides which were shown in the narrated film, along with other parts of Disneyland equipment in various stages of completion by other manufacturers.

"The film was made in April when we were in the process of re-assembling an old Merry-Go-Round and refinishing the carved wooden horses.” William Hardiman, company supervisor for the Disney work, said yesterday. (Wednesday July 13th, 1955 -df) “A camera crew and script man spent one day taking pictures of us at work.”

Five Rides Featured

The Mountain View company’s rides to be featured on the TV program will be the Merry-Go-Round, decorated as a tent of King Arthur, complete with charging horses, Casey Jr., a nickname for “The Little Engine That Could”, a whirling ride called the “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party”, and two others called “Mister Toad’s Hotrod” and “Snow White.”

All decorations on the pieces were done at Disneyland. Only the design and construction of the basic pieces was done by the Arrow Development Co. 

“Disney told us what he wanted and we had to get busy and engineer it.” Hardiman said. “Sometimes we had a sketch, but more often he just described what he had in mind and left us to really put it in some form.”

Casey Jr. Circus Train

Casey Jr.

Casey Jr., a replica of a cartoon train engine, has bulging eyes which give the illusion of looking right at you. By using a chain pull, Casey Jr., will pull a six car train full of children up a 50 percent grade in Disneyland. His smoke stack is designed to roll back with the apparent strain of the pull up the hill, characterizing the story of "The Little Engine That Could.”

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

The "Mad Hatter” ride has six huge whirling cup and saucer “seats,"on each of three platforms which also rotate. The entire base of the ride goes around in the opposite direction, throwing the riders by centrifugal force against the sides of the teacups. This was designed completely from scratch by the Mountain View Company, on the basic idea of the tea party from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Figures of the Mad Hatter and other characters fill in the center of the basic platform.

Toady Ride Vehicle

"Mr. Toad’s Hotrod” is based on the Disney film “Wind in the Willows.” People sitting in replicas of the hotrod, vintage about 1902, will ride through a dark tunnel illuminated with black light to produce such sensations as crashing through a fence into a hay field and colliding with a train. Another ride on the same idea is designed on the theme of “Snow White”, with conventional seats.
Early Dumbo Concept Art

The last ride the company built for Disney, a “Dumbo Ride” left for Disneyland in Anaheim by truck late last night and will be decorated and installed there in time for the public opening Monday. Dumbo seats, flying ears and all, are attached to 10 rotating arms which also go up and down. The Arrow Development Co. designed and built the mechanism.

Representatives of the company this weekend will test all the equipment they built, which is now installed in the park.

(Talk about a short Installation and Test cycle! -df)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Miniature San Francisco Cable Cars

One of the unsolved mysteries about Arrow's early ride systems was the nature of the "San Francisco" style trolley. Thanks to Bill Hardiman's grandson Michael, we now have pictures of a train that sort of looks like a trolley, but there is more to the story. 

This train appears somewhat like the streetcars which have served the City By the Bay for decades, but on a miniature scale, matching that of Arrow's streamline locomotives. 

Note also the names Mickey, Donald and Limited on the side of the cars, which may be more evidence of Arrow's tight relationship with Disney. These images were shot at an Arrow Playland demonstration park in San Lorenzo Village, in the East Bay. The fire station is visible across the street in the third image.

San Lorezo Train

Some new images from the Arrow Development Facebook Page provide further insight into the Cable Car Mystery.

Old San Francisco Cable Car

The Enchanted World of Old San Francisco was for a dark ride on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, done by Sid and Marty Krofft, next to the Wax Museum.  As seen in the images below, the cable car was the ride vehicle thru the attraction.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pacific Ocean Park Banana Train

Much to my surprise and delight the Summer 2002 Issue of The "E" Ticket Magazine has a ten page article in it about Pacific Ocean Park with some nice photos and text with a scene by scene description of the ride;

"Rolling thru the Longhouse area, the six plantation type Banana Trains (built by Arrow Development) were beautiful ride vehicles. The open passenger cars had exteriors authentically faced with bamboo, and carried fifteen passenger each. The trains had a very different appearance because the cars were pushed from behind, along the spindly track, by the little thatch-roofed locomotives. The down sized "steam engines” were actually electric, but convincing enough, with their self contained water tenders, copper boiler jackets, diamond stacks and operators shaded from the sun by palm branch cab covers.

One after another, the Banana Trains loaded passengers,“steamed” from the high-roofed longhouse and into the tropical “South Seas” jungle ahead. The track followed a figure eight on this tropical fun trip, run by a beachcomber, around the island from one thrill to another. The return track descending from the mountain and crossing above the outbound section. The railroad’s light rail was crudely laid on thin, wide spaced ties which inspired very little confidence as you looked down from the first car, and watched it flex under the weight of the train.

The track led a winding path through and under native thatched huts on stilts (where a few menacing "New Guinea Headhunters” threatened from the rafters. Then it plunged into the “authentic South Seas vegetation" ahead. A display of tribal dancing in a bamboo fenced village was next seen along the right, before the tracks began their climb up the rocky slopes at the base of the volcano. As the Banana Train ascended, it passed a group of “carnivorous vultures,” nesting among the rocks, which glared with hunger at the passengers.

The train then entered the first several dark tunnels in the mountain. Out in the sunlight, framed by the curving spiral of track, the “live” volcano’s pots of bubbling lava could be seen within the cones of the cauldrons below. Twittering bats, thunder and lightning, a noisy “tropical rainstorm” and an “earthquake” were among the excitements enjoyed by the passengers before coming out into the sunlit center of the volcano, thru a short tunnel, then out again in the fresh ocean air, the Banana Train creaked over the spindly track and trestle onto a short section directly above the Pacific Ocean.

You weren’t out there long, but there was time to stare down at the water, towards the lights of Santa Monica Pier, then back into the tunnel ahead. The train then descended past the huge nest and broken eggshells of the Gooney Bird, who flapped and shrieked “Hello… hope you enjoyed your trip.” at the passing trains."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Arrow Trams!

While writing Building Disney's Dream I came a cross a handful of references to Arrow having done the parking lot trams for Disneyland and Walt Disney World as well as propane powered trams for Yosemite National Park. Since that time several more references and images have surfaced;

About 1973 Arrow published a four page supplement to Amusement Business magazine that contained this image of one of their trams.

This image was taken during tracking tests. While testing a 5 tram train, the last unit tracked within 5 inches of the first unit with *no* adjustments to the steering setup.
Chassis Development

With this larger view it's not difficult to tell where these images were taken; Arrow's facility at 1555 Plymouth which also shared an address at 520 Huff.
Loading for Shipment
 Here we see a whole fleet of trams getting ready to leave for Orlando.

Ready to Roll

This shot illustrates the similarities to the more recent WDW trams;

WDW Trams

and we'll close with a close-up at the double wishbone suspension of Arrow's chassis;

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Rainbow Express at CrayolaLand?

Sometimes its fun to speculate on what might have been.

Here is an image from an Arrow Dynamics brochure illustrating a roller coaster vehicle concept for what we can only speculate may have been for a Children's Coaster at somewhere called CrayolaLand.

Arrow Dynamics Rainbow Express

Saturday, August 15, 2015

1986 Arrow History and Ride List

As Arrow was emerging from the bankruptcy reorganization in 1986 they published a list of attractions they had "gone around in." This was probably intended to reassure the public and former business partners that Arrow was still alive and kicking.

14 Standard Corkscrews, 7 Launched Loops, 12 Custom Coasters, 6 Standard Loop Coasters, 2 Suspended Coasters, 2 Steeplechases, 12 Runaway Trains, 2 Special Coasters, 52 Flume Rides, 2 Shoot-the-Chutes, 8 Merry-Go-Rounds, 5 Space Whirls, 4 Rub-a-Dubs, 8 Dark Rides, 2 Magic Rooms, 47 Special Systems, 53 Antique Cars and 25 Sports Car attractions.

Over 260 ride systems in America, Europe, Japan and China.
The story and list was impressive then and still is today. 
Look closely, and you'll find some surprises.

Many Thanks to Shane Huish for sharing his archive of Arrow documents and materials.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

1959 was a Very Good Year for Arrow

By late 1959, Arrow's star was definitely on the rise. The November 30th Issue of Billboard Magazine featured two ads and a story that give significant clues as to just how well things were going, with at least half a million dollars in orders; All told, there were;

4 - Dark Rides
2 - Electronically guided trackless trains (Danny the Dragon)
9 - 19th Century Mine Trains
40 - Freeway Cars
30 - Cadillac 1911 Cars
4 - Ford Cars
4 - Maxwell Cars
68 - Tramway Ride Buckets

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF - Arrow Development Company will deliver approximately $500,000 worth of original theme rides to Freedomland, Inc., New York, by the first of the year, Walter B. Schulze, Arrow Secretary-Treasurer said.

The company has purchased three and one-half acres for a new plant that will centralize operations and speed the production on orders for spring delivery for nearly every important park in the nation.

Arrow is now making four dark rides, one of which will be two-story; two electronically guided trackless trains, two 19th Century Mine Trains, 40 streamlined freeway cars, 30 Cadillac 1911 cars, 68 tramway ride buckets, one 72-passenger circular turntable spinning top ride and other devices still in the planning stage.

Schulze said that the steel strike had been anticipated and construction of the rides was started late in the summer. A majority of the dark car rides, Cadillacs and trains for Freedomland will be delivered late this year in anticipation of the July 1 opening.

Other rides on order include a 19th Century Electric Mine Train with 10 ore cars, gags and sound effects for the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, Santa Cruz, Calif. four Ford and Maxwell antique cars and a 19th Century Mine Train with excursion type coaches for Adventure Land Atlanta, and five electric trains with a mine type theme for Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park Calif.

Also on the work schedule are modernization of dark rides by Arrow for Riverview Park, Chicago and Coney Island, Cincinnati.

Ads in Billboard touted Gas Light Village as having grossed $24,000 in 56 days with 8 Arrow Antique gasoline cars and 850,000 riders in the last two seasons at Knott’s Berry Farm, using the "original contact shoes.”on the electric tracked auto ride.

Another add stated; 

New rides now building for Freedomland, N.Y. Additionally, Arrow is pleased to announce that mechanical devices developed by Arrow for Disneyland; Turntable ride, 2-story dark ride, etc., are now available to Arrow customers for the use with completely new ride themes.

Friday, July 24, 2015

MVHA Commemorative Poster

Mountain View Historical Association Poster

The Mountain View Historical Association posted an image of a poster commemorating Arrow's involvement with Disneyland for 60th Anniversary on July 17th. 

They also announced that Bob Gurr will be speaking at their annual bar-b-que on Sunday August 2nd, 1:00 p.m. at the Old Adobe Building 157 Moffett Boulevard in Mountain View.

I have an inquiry out to Pat Figueroa, MVHA's President, to see if they have any plans to make the poster available for sale and will post an update here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dal Freeman - Saved the best for last

Hold onto your... Holy Cow!

Lagoon has recently announced the opening of their newest coaster - Cannibal - which was designed by Arrow alumni Dal Freeman. Unlike many recent coaster designs, Cannibal was engineered and built in-house, with local (Utah) talent.

It starts with a trip up a 208-foot enclosed vertical tower. Next is a past vertical 116 degree push-over leading to a high speed shot thru a themed underground tunnel. Finally are three inversions including a 140-foot-tall (43 m) half-loop twist, a heartline roll, and a diving loop. 

Its 12 seat cabins feature lapbars, which is unusual for an inverting ride path, but Arrow basically invented the corkscrew roller coaster, which uses barrel rolls - a positive g maneuver - to keep you squarely planted in your seat. Cannibal chews thru 2735 feet of track in just over a minute, at speeds up to 70 mph, while pulling as much as 4.2 g's.

Dal joined Arrow in 1986 as the Director of Engineering, overseeing a staff of ten people. The size of his department more than doubled in three years, reflecting the then increasing demand for Arrow's coaster's.

Dal was with Arrow through the 90's, leaving just before X2 and the bankruptcy. He worked on the Pipeline, Magnum XL-200 and Drachen Fire, with Magnum being his favorite. Dal previously worked for Disney on Splash Mountain and was also offered the opportunity to work on either Jaws or Kongfrontation at Universal Studios Florida. He felt that Kongfrontation was more exciting and came up with the idea of using a suspended cable car as the ride vehicle.

Before working for Arrow, Dal worked for Thiokol, which made the Chickadee ski lift at Snowbird. Thiokol also produced a range of other equipment for ski resorts, including snowcats and snow grooming vehicles. Those businesses were spun off in 1978 when the company restructured itself to concentrate on its rocket motors and related technologies. Their snowcats were used in ski resorts, operated by the USAF in Alaska, and are now popular with private owners for all terrain transport.

At Lagoon, Dal's  first project was Wild Mouse. He worked on every Lagoon ride since; Spider, Samurai, Rocket, Rattlesnake Rapids, The Bat, Wicked, OdySea, Jumping Dragon and Bombora.

Dal's love for equipment started at a very early age, growing up on a farm in the Salt Lake Valley. He was driving a tractor by age five. Using and maintaining farm machinery instilled a curiosity to understand how things worked and what had to be done to fix them. That laid the foundation for pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah. He also held Engineer Land Surveyor and Professional Structural Engineer licenses.

One of the things Dal truly enjoyed about working at Arrow was the opportunity to interact with the customers. From the time a new project began, he was interfacing with manufacturing during construction, consulting during field installation and test check-out and start-up of each new ride. No two projects were exactly alike and Dal enjoyed the unique challenges that each instillation brought.

He apparently saved the best for last, as Dal announced his retirement mid July 2015.

Dal Freeman by Wicked

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Gallop to Nowhere - 1955

Today I'm posting an article from a 1955 issue of Kaiser Aluminum's magazine Aluminations on the refurbishment of the King Arthur Carousel at Disneyland.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Roller Coasters! video on Arrow Dynamics

This is a terrific 1990 documentary about Arrow Dynamics with some excellent POV video and the best footage I've seen on the Pipeline. 18:46 of enjoyment!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

More Car Body Styles

I've already blogged about the similarity between the Kaiser Darin and Midget Autopia, but haven't spent much time on all the styles of cars which Arrow did, so here is an Arrow Car Spotter's Guide;
Maybe you can help identify which parks these were operating at. I'll be adding some others later, for comparison.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Arrow Rio Grande Era Brochure

I recently met another Arrow employee who very kindly shared a brochure from the Rio Grande years which contains many wonderful photographs of Arrow rides.

Particularly interesting are the ones of the Rub-A-Dub ride, as it is clearly related to the patent which Ed Morgan received in November of 1973 (USD229,354). The boats are seen on page 4 of the brochure. There is also a carousel with a Griffin styled seat which I had not seen before.

I'll be posting more images over the next couple of weeks.

A Subsidiary of Rio Grande Industries
Rio Grande Era Carousel?

Ed Morgan 1973 Boat Patent
Rub-A-Dub Boats 
Any guesses where this may be?

And some new coaster images:

And on a further note; the legend of Arrow's Intellectual Property continues;
In November 2012, Sansei Yusoki Co., Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, acquired 77.3% of S&S...