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This Engineer Built His Own Roller CoasterThis Engineer Built His Own Roller Coaster

On National Roller Coaster Day, we look at the twists and turns of the homemade coasters built by engineer turned inventor Will Pemble.

Spencer Chin

August 15, 2022


August 16th is National Roller Coaster Day, when we celebrate the history and the progress made in roller coasters over many decades. Roller coasters as we know them first appeared in the early 1900s and have benefitted from myriad improvements in materials, design, and safety.

Today’s coasters are designed with the help of CAD software and incorporate hair-raising twists, turns, and sudden drops of today’s high-tech roller coasters that could not have been imagined decades ago. Material advances, such as going from wood to tubular steel, have enabled the development of coasters with more intricate elaborate designs. Advanced programmable logic controllers have long replaced the mass of relays on earlier roller coaster controllers, making for safer, more reliable control of key parameters such as car position and braking.

But the physics of the roller coaster remains the same, as age-old principles such as gravity and Newton’s Law of Motion have always and will continue to govern roller coasters. Armed with a knowledge of those principles, along with hands-on engineering and construction skills, has led to a lucrative side career for Will Pemble.

Pemble, currently a management consultant, decided to build a roller coaster in his backyard after going to an amusement park with his son and deciding afterward that having their own roller coaster would be fun. He has built five coasters in his lifetime, including improving the one originally built in his backyard. Pemble resorted to engineering analysis to help design the various bends and loops in his coasters, and even used a crash-test dummy, called Todd, to verify the design and safety of his inventions before any humans can ride them.

Related:Want the Wildest Roller Coaster Rides? Try the International Parks

The video can be viewed here.


About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor with Design News, covering the electronics beat.

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