Unique Assembly Projects: Installing the RailBlazer Roller Coaster

Our mission at Mathews Mechanical is to help people solve problems — even when those problems include putting together an innovative single rail roller coaster

In 2017, our team joined California’s Great America and Rocky Mountain Construction to assemble and install an innovative roller coaster that would become the popular RailBlazer. “Everyone always remembers that roller coaster,” says Mathews Mechanical General Manager Jared Mathews. “It was unique.”

What does it take to assemble and install a roller coaster to meet safety requirements and provide the ride of a lifetime? Take a look inside this unique Mathews Mechanical project and the creation of a fan favorite coaster. 


The Mechanics of a Roller Coaster

The Railblazer was the first single rail coaster on the West Coast. The single rail coaster design gives riders an extremely low center of gravity. Rocky Mountain Construction’s single rail “raptor track” enables the coaster to make tight maneuvers and sudden changes of direction. California’s Great America chose this design for a new roller coaster in their park, which opened to excited riders in 2018.

Unlike many roller coasters, the RailBlazer features a single file train with spaces for eight riders. This design gives riders an unobstructed view as the coaster falls and turns. Riders can actually reach their arms out to the side and enjoy an incredible flying sensation as they plunge down a 90-degree drop. The RailBlazer reaches 106 feet high and a speed of 52 miles per hour as it takes riders through three inversions and a zero gravity roll. 

These aren’t the only benefits of a single rail coaster. The design also makes business sense. With limited space, amusement parks (and other large-scale entertainment venues too) need to consider how they utilize space strategically. This single rail coaster was designed to fit within a very small footprint. With only a single rail, this coaster is made to be compact and, as a result, is a smaller investment to make. There is less support and material needed to construct the coaster. Because of this, the single rail coaster is still a popular choice for new coasters at smaller parks.


Assembling a Rollercoaster with Mathews Mechanical

While Rocky Mountain Construction fabricated this single rail coaster off-site, Mathews Mechanical was given the tremendous job of installing it on-site. “We assembled everything from the concrete up,” Jared explains. “We’ve done work at California’s Great America for years, completing repairs and maintenance on various rides. When the RailBlazer project came up, they gave us the opportunity to bid.”

In August 2017, ground was broken and construction on the innovative coaster began. “We assembled things on site and made some minor modifications to make everything fit right in the field of conditions,” Jared remembers. Ensuring top-tier construction of the RailBlazer was critical for the ride’s success.

At the core of this work was an important focus on project management. “We were coordinating with the supplier that built the roller coaster, the architects who designed it and the theme park itself,” Jared says. “I enjoyed all that coordination and project management that came before final acceptance testing at the end.” In June 2018, the coaster was completed and ready for roller coaster enthusiasts to enjoy. Since then, the ride has garnered attention from fans around the world and received fantastic reviews all around. 


The Mathews Mechanical Way

“This project shows the diversity of our skill sets at Mathews Mechanical,” Jared notes. “This wasn’t simply an ironworker job or creating a piece of equipment. It was a hybrid project that’s fairly niche. That’s what we’ve built our reputation on.” Mathews Mechanical is no stranger to projects that are considered out of the box. In fact, our team loves a challenge.

Mathews Mechanical is here to serve as a one-stop shop for material handling, manufacturing equipment, machinery, and repair needs. “This project demonstrates our ability to manage a complex and unique project from the ground up to completion,” Jared says. Whatever the project, the Mathews Mechanical team is here to ensure things are done correctly to meet safety standards and industrial requirements.

Our business focuses on industrial and facilities preventative maintenance, repair, and installation. We’re here to provide supplemental in-house fabrication, mechanical design, and structural engineering to fully address project requirements from beginning to end.

Have a unique project of your own? Let’s talk about it. Take a look at Mathews Mechanical and contact us to find out how we can help you complete your project.