The home-made roller coasters of Will Pemble and Paul Gregg
February 13, 2019 1:46 PM   Subscribe

For Will Pemble, it all started when his son asked "wouldn't it be awesome if we had our own roller coaster." Five seconds later, he thought "Yes, yes it would," and that's the origin story of CoasterDad, the guy who built a roller coaster in his back yard (Wired Video, YouTube alt. link), and his front yard, and another friend's back yard, and for the Maker Fair in San Francisco. He has more videos on his YouTube account, specifically in the the CoasterDad Project playlist. If that's all a bit too loosey-goosey for you Coaster 101 talks to Paul Gregg about building and testing safe back yard roller coasters, as he discusses on his website Backyard Roller Coasters dot org, which has his two books about DIY coaster-making.
posted by filthy light thief (8 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
If you're wondering why you should listen to Paul Gregg about safety and design, here's his background:
I retired from Boeing in February of 2014, after a very interesting career, spent primarily in the research and development of new materials (carbon fiber composites, chopped fiber composites, metal matrix composites, titanium), joining processes (adhesive bonding, diffusion bonding, welding), forming processes (superplastic forming, compression molding, thermoplastic forming) and structural architectures (sandwich, trusscore, isogrid, corrugation, hat-stiffened) associated with light aerospace vehicles. I had worked on many space, military, and commercial aerospace programs, developing and using a systematic approach involving the integrated disciplines of design, analysis, fabrication and testing. I have six grandchildren, and three backyard roller coasters.
And in his YouTube channel, he shows off stress-testing his coasters.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:59 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

When Disney did his mini-railroad version of this, people started showing up asking for rides. Careful coaster dad, next thing you'll be opening theme parks.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:06 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Let's not forget other home-made coasters like roaster-coaster

Displaying conservation of angular momentum since .....
posted by mbo at 2:36 PM on February 13, 2019

Okay I still think this roller coaster dad is the best ever roller coaster dad

But oh man this guy? Also the best ever roller coaster dad.
posted by Mchelly at 3:03 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

Have to link to
Backyard Roller Coasters of John Ivers
built around 2001 in Bruceville, Indiana. He seems like such a nice guy when I saw him on a TV interview. He'd let people stop by and ride for free if they called first. Not sure if he's still doing that since it's been a while since the story aired. Still he's the first person I've seen a story about building their own roller coaster. maybe there's more out there.
posted by stray thoughts at 4:02 PM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh man I want a mixtape feat. Mark Pauline and Pemble where they build a contraption together.
posted by mwhybark at 4:07 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh man, that barrel roll at the end of the YT video. That's... not smooth looking and looks like it rotates backward from the way an airplane would. It doesn't even look like it would be enjoyable. Good first try, though.
posted by ctmf at 6:22 PM on February 13, 2019

I remember an old-even-then copy of a magazine —-I think it was Popular Me hanics?—- than my Dad showed young me in 1972 or so that had plans for a small back-yard wooden roller coaster. I was fascinated. We were always renters, so it could never be built. But for about 5 years I had Big Dreams!

Now I’m a bench warrior. But I remember the days of plotting and scheming home coaster layouts. This guy is cool.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 4:49 AM on February 14, 2019

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