A usual wheel supplied on a roller coaster is created by acquisition an aluminum hub and bonding a polyurethane tire to the hub’s exterior diameter. This whole “wheel assembly” is then associated to the axle v a bearing. There space three main varieties of wheels which certain the car to the track: road wheels be afflicted with the fill or weight of the train, side friction wheels are placed perpendicular to the road wheels (on one of two people the within or the outside of the rail relying on the manufacturer) and also up-stop wheels are placed under the rail to protect against the vehicle from coming off the track end airtime hills.

You are watching: Three types of wheels on a roller coaster car

A roller coaster’s wheels might actually be among the best limiting components of building ever taller and also faster rides. To style the perfect wheel because that a high-speed roller coaster, engineers must uncover the best mix of these four main requirements:

Low rolling resistanceHigh load enduranceSmooth drive performanceHigh to trust (low maintenance cost)

Let’s study each that these demands in more detail.

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Most steel roller coasters today normally use 2 main varieties of tire material: nylon and also polyurethane. Over there are benefits and disadvantages because that each type. The nylon wheel is a difficult plastic if the polyurethane is a softer material. Nylon wheels vibrate a little more and put more wear into the track, making the a rougher drive but likewise results in a small bit faster of a ride. Polyurethane is a softer material and reduces the vibration, giving a smoother ride. It provides much more friction and also slows the drive down as result of a higher rolling resistance. The rate of the coaster deserve to be impacted by mixing and matching wheels, i beg your pardon parks may do in stimulate to keep the ride running within its mentioned performance window. To attain a perfect balance between all of the demanding needs requires a many testing.

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To read an ext about coaster architecture check out Coasters 101: one Engineer’s guide to Roller Coaster Design.