Q&A with Evan Souliere of Great Coasters International
A few weeks ago, Coaster101 posted photos of the progress of Great Coasters International’s refurbishment of Hurler at Carowinds, located in Charlotte, NC. We recently had the opportunity to interview Evan Souliere, Design Engineer at Great Coasters International about the Hurler refurbishment, as well as The Viper, GCI’s tallest, longest and fastest wooden roller coaster to date, currently under construction at Nanchang Culture Tourism City in Nanchang, China.
C101: How was the decision made to renovate Hurler?
Evan: That decision was made by Carowinds/Cedar Fair. They came to us with a description of what they wanted to do, and we proposed a solution and price to go with it.
C101: Is it difficult to refurbish a coaster that GCI did not design?
Evan: It is more difficult, yes, but we have done so many refurbishments that we have encountered and found solutions to many of the challenges that come with it. Each project is unique, though, so we still look forward to the new elements we face.
C101: Do you work with old blueprints/CAD data or do you have to reconstruct from scratch?
Evan: Both. We get an idea of what to expect from the original drawings, but always survey the existing conditions and design based on that. Many times, parks ask us for help because their ride is not quite in its original condition, so the drawings are not as helpful.
C101: What is the extent of the renovation? Is GCI just replacing the track steel or are they replacing the entire wooden stack?
Evan: The basis of the work was redesigning 421 feet of the ride centerline after the first drop, through the wrap-around curve, and up into the next hill. We removed that 421 feet of track, adjusted nine ledgers (the member that supports the track) entering the curve, 14 ledgers exiting the curve, and completely replaced 43 bents in the curve. After adjusting the ledgers and installing the new bents, we installed new wood and steel track to conform to the new centerline design.
C101: Will GCI be renovating the Hurler at Kings Dominion as well?
Evan: We have not been asked to this do this.
C101: What is the “end goal” for the refurbishment?
Evan: Like most refurbishments we perform, the goal is to improve (our scope of) the ride in such a way that it will be easier to maintain and more enjoyable for riders. We do not like to simply apply bandaids to symptoms that our customers are experiencing, but, rather fix the underlying causes.
C101: Are there any similarities between the Hurler renovation and the Arnold’s Park Legend renovation that GCI is also working on this offseason?
Evan: In both cases, we are improving the ride centerline, adjusting ledgers in transitions zones, and replacing the structure through the bulk of the affected area. We are also installing new wood and steel track in the sections we are working on. Arnold’s Park is a bit more significant, though. We started the work last year, and, in total, will have worked on almost 1,000 feet of the ride. Arnold’s Park also replaced the foundation in most of the new structure areas in preparation for our work.
C101: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about GCI’s renovation of Hurler, or the GCI renovation process in general?
Evan: Nothing specific I can think of. We just hope your readers have enjoyed and appreciated the hard work we have and continue to put into improving and maintaining wood coasters all over the world!
C101: On the new coaster front, is there anything you can tell us about The Viper, opening at Nanchang Culture Tourism City in 2015?
All Photos © Great Coasters International
Evan: Well, I think the news is already out that it will be our tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster to date. It will also be the tallest, fastest, and longest wood coaster in China! The final specs are 160.0 ft tall, 5,111 ft long, 62.1 mph top speed, and 142.5 ft first drop. I can also tell you that the trains will be well-themed!
C101: Awesome to hear. Thank you so much for your time, Evan.
Be sure to follow all of GCI’s refurbishment and construction projects on their Facebook page. Are you excited to ride the newly renovated Hurler when Carowinds opens for the 2014 Season? Let us know in the comments below.