Members, Sign In. Not a member? Sign Up

Ultimate Rollercoaster

Ad
Ultimate Rollercoaster > Discussion Forums > Roller Coasters, Parks & Attractions > Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976)

Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976)

Overbanked Overbanked Profile

Posted:
6/23/13 at
4:27:50 AM

This is the only Thunderbolt POV that I've seen on the internet.

www.flickr.com/photos/37416464@N04/6782339038/

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by LoneStar LoneStar Profile at 6/23/13 7:44:09 AM
Wow. Great footage and very rare. Thanks for posting.

- Pat-O

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by CoasterFanatic CoasterFanatic Profile at 6/23/13 3:43:35 PM
Overbanked said:

This is the only Thunderbolt POV that I've seen on the internet.


www.flickr.com/photos/37416464@N04/6782339038/

Looks ten times more exciting than Cyclone was :)

Charles Nungester 323 coasters and holding for two years now LOL Last coaster ride. HWN 2011
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 6/23/13 11:12:22 PM
If you notice around 00:40 on the vid, there's a second chain lift on the crest of the hill that was needed to complete the circuit.

Some lady who rode T-bolt in 78' is arguing with me on youtube that it didn't have a second chain lift LOL

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by MABrider MABrider Profile at 6/24/13 8:31:12 AM
Overbanked said:

If you notice around 00:40 on the vid, there's a second chain lift on the crest of the hill that was needed to complete the circuit.


Some lady who rode T-bolt in 78' is arguing with me on youtube that it didn't have a second chain lift LOL

I know nothing.

I never rode T-Bolt, but a second chain lift? I had never heard of that nor would have thought it.

Could it be what looks like chain is actually chain, but stationary? To act as a rollback stop? Coasters of that vintage were perhaps built like that...maybe cheaper or just simpler than forging steel into the "teeth" that train chain dogs would encounter to prevent a rollback.
We hear those all the time.

In this grainy video, the train flies over that section (as it does all around the circuit). A chain moving at that speed, where is the motor and housing for it...adds to my skepticism.

But if you know for absolute certainty, facts is facts, I digress...see the first three words I wrote above!

Mike B.
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by CoasterFanatic CoasterFanatic Profile at 6/24/13 12:57:38 PM
Overbanked said:

If you notice around 00:40 on the vid, there's a second chain lift on the crest of the hill that was needed to complete the circuit.


Some lady who rode T-bolt in 78' is arguing with me on youtube that it didn't have a second chain lift LOL

It may be needed, It may not be.

Racer at Kings Island has helper chains on the Camelbacks just before the split. With full trains and warm days they never catch and it flys right over. Half empty trains and hot dry weather and once in awhile it will catch and send em over. Not sure about Rebel Yell or Kings Dominions.

Many wooden coasters have anti roll backs at some problematic peaks. Hades Redesign with the Corkscrew as partially because that hill was a problem quite often and disrupted the flow of the ride.

So your both right, It had a chain but doesn't mean that most times it was needed.

Charles Nungester 323 coasters and holding for two years now LOL Last coaster ride. HWN 2011
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by MABrider MABrider Profile at 6/24/13 1:26:17 PM
CoasterFanatic said:

Racer at Kings Island has helper chains on the Camelbacks just before the split. With full trains and warm days they never catch and it flys right over. Half empty trains and hot dry weather and once in awhile it will catch and send em over.

I never knew, nor saw them on Racer. Now I'm wondering the last time I rode the front. Hell, I can't even remember last time I was at KI!

Anyway, thanks, Chuck.

Now I know something!

Mike B.
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by CoasterFanatic CoasterFanatic Profile at 6/24/13 2:30:54 PM
2003 Mike LOL.
Charles Nungester 323 coasters and holding for two years now LOL Last coaster ride. HWN 2011
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 6/24/13 8:00:33 PM
CoasterFanatic said:

It may be needed, It may not be.

Racer at Kings Island has helper chains on the Camelbacks just before the split. With full trains and warm days they never catch and it flys right over. Half empty trains and hot dry weather and once in awhile it will catch and send em over. Not sure about Rebel Yell or Kings Dominions.

Many wooden coasters have anti roll backs at some problematic peaks. Hades Redesign with the Corkscrew as partially because that hill was a problem quite often and disrupted the flow of the ride.

So your both right, It had a chain but doesn't mean that most times it was needed.

Well said, thanks for dropping that knowledge Chuck. You are more knowledgeable with wooden coasters than I ever will be. That rider insisted that it was an anti rollback on T-Bolt, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. After about a good fifteen years of coastering, I'm still learning.

* This post was modified at 6/24/13 10:44:06 PM *

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 6/24/13 10:30:48 PM
MABrider said:

I know nothing.

I never rode T-Bolt, but a second chain lift? I had never heard of that nor would have thought it.

Could it be what looks like chain is actually chain, but stationary? To act as a rollback stop? Coasters of that vintage were perhaps built like that...maybe cheaper or just simpler than forging steel into the "teeth" that train chain dogs would encounter to prevent a rollback.
We hear those all the time.

In this grainy video, the train flies over that section (as it does all around the circuit). A chain moving at that speed, where is the motor and housing for it...adds to my skepticism.

But if you know for absolute certainty, facts is facts, I digress...see the first three words I wrote above!

I'm definitely not some Thunderbolt aficionado be no means. Hell, I was like five when it closed to the public. I believe that your hunch is correct, and T-Bolt had an anti-rollback and not a helper chain on the hill. I'm definitely not scared to admit when I'm wrong on rare occasion LOL :)

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by SirWillow SirWillow Profile at 6/26/13 11:14:07 PM
Overbanked said:

If you notice around 00:40 on the vid, there's a second chain lift on the crest of the hill that was needed to complete the circuit.


Some lady who rode T-bolt in 78' is arguing with me on youtube that it didn't have a second chain lift LOL

Camera is so shaky it's very hard to tell if that's actually a second chain or just the end of a section of anti-rollbacks to make sure the train didn't go backwards down the hill.

The one thing I took away from the video- if it's that rough in the front, how rough must it have been in the back? Ouch.

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 6/26/13 11:48:30 PM
^^^From reading some of the reports of people who experienced it, you're right on about it's roughness.
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Jumbo-Jet Jumbo-Jet Profile at 6/29/13 12:13:28 PM
When I used to see the Thunderbolt before it was torn down, as well as in photos, I thought it had a similar layout and ride experience as the Cyclone, as it looked quite similar from a distance at first glance.
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 6/29/13 12:53:45 PM
^^^Right on. Cyclone almost looks like a facsimile of T-Bolt.
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by natthesand at 2/7/14 10:10:44 PM
Overbanked, whoever you were arguing with was correct. There was only one chain lift on the Thunderbolt, on the main lift hill. What you were saying was a second chain lift was not, it was an anti rollback cog.

In know this for a fact, because I rode the ride dozens of times and was able to visit it after it closed with a group of other coaster enthusiasts. The hill you were saying had a second lift was above and to the east of the loading platform, and we could clearly see the trackage on the crest from below. It had no motor mechanisms, just the thin anti rollback cog channel.

* This post was modified at 2/7/14 10:15:14 PM *

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by natthesand at 2/7/14 10:25:09 PM
The layout of the Thunderbolt was not identical to the Cyclone. Here are the main differences:

After the first drop, the Cyclone climbs a hill going towards the right. The Thunderbolt did the opposite, climbing a hill going towards the left,

The fourth hill on the Cyclone is a regular arc. The fourth hill on the Thunderbolt had a double dip (a great one, it gave you two quick successive bursts of air time).

Lastly, the Thunderbolt had a nasty little surprise at the end which the Cyclone did not. On the Thunderbolt, coming out of the last turnaround and heading for the turn into the station, John Miller put in an abrupt, steep below grade drop (if you pause the video at 0:12 you can clearly see you are below the street level). If your rode the coaster at night with first timers, it was great to hear their truly frightened shreaks when you hit that drop, since (a) it came at a point where you assumed the coaster had run out of elevation for any more drops and (b) in the dark you couldn't see it coming.

* This post was modified at 2/7/14 10:35:30 PM *

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 2/8/14 1:58:49 AM
^^^Yeah, I conceded that '2nd chain lift' debate a pretty long time ago; Look back at my numerous latter statements (of course new readers always focus on the one old erroneous statement, LOL).

Sounds like you're very detailed in your knowledge concerning the old Thunderbolt. I'll say this much though; Those 'differences' from the Cyclone obviously wasn't enough to warrant building a wooden Thunderbolt facsimile for 2014; Which is why they went with the new steel looping Thunderbolt.

Sure Cyclone and the old Thunderbolt weren't exact copies, but given that both are/were classic compact woodies (with similar length and height), they weren't terribly contrasting either.

* This post was modified at 2/8/14 2:30:25 AM *

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by jimvid at 2/8/14 6:31:17 AM
When George Moran was alive and maintained the Thunderbolt it was considered to be a very solid ride - after his passing in the mid 70's - it really fell apart. In it's last few years it was almost unrideable. My only experience on the ride was in 78 or 79 - the only thing I remember was that there were springs sticking through the cushions on the seat that you had to watch out for and that it hurt. The Cyclone left a far better and more lasting impression.

The layout of the ride is similar to the Cyclone, but I really think this has more to with the plots of land that were available in Coney Island (and the Thunderbolt pre-dated the Cyclone by 2 years).

From the recollection of my dad, aunts and uncle - the Thunderbolt was the mildest of the three major woodies in Coney Island - it did not have the severe drops that the Cyclone featured. Additionally, it featured 3 bench trains that could more easily navigate the course then Cyclone's 4 bench trains and it was a smaller ride (I believe it was 70 feet high compared to Cyclone at 86 feet).

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by jimvid at 2/8/14 6:36:10 AM
PS - the reason the Thunderbolt closed in 1982 was the train valleyed between the 3rd hill and 2nd turnaround (it didn't make it to the anti-rollbacks). The operators evacuated the few riders, locked it up and walked away.
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 2/8/14 8:25:43 PM
^^^Thanks for the info.

jimvid said:

(I believe it was 70 feet high compared to Cyclone at 86 feet).

RCDB actually has T-Bolt nipping Cyclone by one foot (86ft to 85ft). Though I'm quite sure that Cyclone's first drop is more than T-Bolt's.

* This post was modified at 2/9/14 8:52:22 AM *

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by natthesand at 2/9/14 4:32:25 PM
If the crew left the train in the place it where valleyed, how did it get back to the station, which is where it was when I and two others were allowed by Horace Bullard in to inspect the ride in the October of 1998?

BTW, we were there representing a group which was interested in purchasing the ride, with the intent to take it apart and relocate it (they were in serious discussions with a number of parks as relocation possibilities). The primary issue we found during the visit was the fact that back in 1925 all the steel support columns had been set in poured concrete footings. That meant removal would be much more involved, because all those several hundred footings would each have to be jackhammered to get the steel out.

The deal subsequently fell through, but not because of that disassembly issue. Rather, it was due to Bullard refusing to entertain any offers for the ride. If he hadn't been so foolishly stubborn, this classic Miller ride may well have been up and running in a second home today.

* This post was modified at 2/9/14 4:37:30 PM *

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by jimvid at 2/10/14 6:26:04 AM
There were two trains. There was the train in the station and the one left valleyed between the drops.
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) Photo by natthesand at 2/10/14 2:04:46 PM
Fred Moran died on Friday, January 8, 1982. His obituary in the New York Times (below) said the operation of the Thunderbolt was going to be continued by his "partners."

http://www.nytimes.com/1982/01/10/obituaries/fred-moran-owner-of-thunderbolt-ride-at-coney-island-park.html

And we know the partners managed to subsequently open the ride at the start of season the following spring. But from what you've said, the business operation was so shaky by that point that when the ride experienced a breakdown sometime that spring or summer, that was enough to force them to throw in the towel?

And what is the rest of the story, in terms of how and when the ownership transferred to Horace Bullard? Who was the seller? (May Timpano was not married to Fred Moran and from everything I've read she was not a beneficiary to whatever estate he left).

Thunderbolt loading platform, similar to condition it was in when I saw it in October 1998

User Submitted Picture

* This post was modified at 2/10/14 4:33:40 PM *

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by jimvid at 2/10/14 6:54:07 PM
I believe Mae was the sole beneficiary of Fred's will, but you are correct that they were not married. She sold the land and coaster to Bullard in 1985. I thought Fred had died earlier than 1982, but I know he was very ill in his final years. I believe Norman Kaufman and his colleagues were assisting in running the Thunderbolt in it's later years.
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by natthesand at 2/10/14 11:38:41 PM
Thanks for the details on the final phases of the Moran era. I guess Timpano was reserved about the "disposing" of the Thunderbolt, since her involvement isn't mentioned in any of the several interviews she did around the time of its demolition.

I'm now left wondering about who the crew at the coaster was that night I first rode it in August of 1977.

My college girlfriend at the time was from Brooklyn and she took me down to Coney for my first experience there. We rode the Cyclone and then walked down to the western end of what was left of the Bowery.

The Thunderbolt really marked the border of Coney's remaining amusement district from the dark, desolate, vacant no man's land where Steeplechase had once stood. The area was quiet and relatively deserted, but the sounds of the chain lift and lights around the station made us realize the coaster was operating.

So we walked into the dimly lit entrance beneath the massive THUNDERBOLT sign, paid what I think was two dollars each to the unsmiling person in the ticket booth and walked through a darker, chain link fenced walkway up to the boarding platform. The latter was very narrow (three feet at best) with no barrier whatsoever separating it from the track.

A worn, very weathered train was in the station and empty, with a crew of three guys just sitting around. The person who appeared to be in charge was an old, craggy looking white fellow and he pointed to the front seat of the front car, which was a bulging mass of worn, dark vinyl and duct tape.

To this day, I have still have three distinct, vivid memories of that moment: the "if these walls could speak" aura of the ancient seat, the sputtering, gasping "jug-uh-jug-uh-jug-uh" sound of the nearby gasoline powered lift motor and the fact the old white guy definitely seemed and smelled inebriated.

With that bouncing through my head, we were seated, the safety bar came down and the train rumbled and rattled down into and around the below grade left turn that led to the lift hill. And a little over a minute and a half later, my girlfriend and I were back at the station and beaming, after that surprising "WHAT the HECK" below grade drop right near the end.

And decades later, this may well be what remained of the car from that memorable ride:

* This post was modified at 2/11/14 10:09:04 PM *

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by natthesand at 2/11/14 9:21:56 AM
And after prior unsuccessful searches I have finally found a picture of the Kensington Hotel pre Thunderbolt, this one circa 1900. The Kensington is the structure the Thunderbolt was built over in 1925, which subsequently became know as the "house under the coaster."

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 2/11/14 9:52:48 PM
^^^Thanks Nat for these great pics.
Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) Photo by jimvid at 2/12/14 9:16:18 AM
Here is a shot of the suprise below grade drop right before the turnaround into the station. You can see how it runs directly under the track from the drop off the second turnaround. User Submitted Picture

* This post was modified at 2/12/14 9:17:19 AM *

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by natthesand at 2/12/14 10:34:59 AM
Cool shot, is it a screen cap from some other video? It looks too bright and clear to be from the one referenced at the beginning of this thread.

The photo shows how steep that little surprise was. Trust me, if your first time riding the Thunderbolt was at night (as mine was), that sucker definitely startled!

And your point about the below grade drop going under the bottom of the drop from the second turnaround is noteworthy, because it suggests Miller actually had to run the track below grade out of need. The lot he was working his design into wasn't wide enough to run the track coming from the fourth turnaround around the outside of the support structure. So going under it was the answer to that problem, with the additional benefit of adding the sort of "surprise" element he was known for.

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by jimvid at 2/12/14 5:20:01 PM
This is a screen grab from a 1951 POV film I own.

I spoke with Charlie Denson this afternoon - a little clarification on the ownership of the Thunderbolt. The majority of it was owned by George and then Fred Moran, but the Klein family owned a smaller percentage stake in at as well. The Kleins were evidently active in amusements in Coney Island, but I can't find much else about them. Mae was indeed the sole beneficiary of Fred Moran's will. The sale of the Thunderbolt was negotiated by Bullard with Mae and the Klein family.

I was correct that Fred was ill in his later years and the majority of the operation was run by the Guerrero family in it's later years - they operated a Wild Mouse and Himalaya on the lot. Ronnie Guerrero died about 7 years ago, but his family continues to run 12th Street Amusements on 12th Street (Saturn 6, Bumper cars, Polar Express, and Ghosthole dark ride)

Re: Coney Island Thunderbolt POV (1976) by Jersey_Joe Jersey_Joe Profile at 3/7/14 6:55:04 PM
Having been fortunate enough to have ridden three of the wooden classics in Brooklyn - Cyclone, Tornado and Thunderbolt, I can tell you that the Thunderbolt seemed wilder than the Cyclone, but my favorite was the Tornado. Perhaps it's location did it for me on top of a building on the opposite side of the Cyclone and other rides, but it always ranked as my favorite Coney Island woodie.

When I was in Coney Island for an ACE event back in 2000, it was so sad for me to walk up and see the Thunderbolt in it's pathetic condition. I remember walking away very sad but happy that I had a chance to experience it in it's better days.

All three of them had their strong points. They were all different and exciting to ride.

It's amazing that the Cyclone is still running strong and I hope it will for many years to come.

Jersey Joe