The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Taziker were approached by Blackpool Pleasure Beach in June 2019 with the opportunity to undertake the refurbishment of the Big One rollercoaster. Taziker Engineering Services Managing Director, Jarrod Hulme, worked on the original construction of the rollercoaster and was extremely excited to get the chance to work on the improvements.
Located in the famous seaside resort of Blackpool, the Big One was opened to the public in 1994 and at 235 feet (71m) it was the tallest rollercoaster in the world. It now holds the title of tallest rollercoaster in the UK.
After 26 years in operation and over 10 million cycles, the rollercoaster required four track sections to be replaced as part of the Pleasure Beach’s maintenance programme. The improvements were identified in order to give passengers a smoother, more enjoyable ride experience. With Taziker’s specialist fabrication facility based in Heywood, Greater Manchester, the company is well equipped to service the needs of Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
The Big One, formerly known as the Pepsi Max Big One, was originally designed in 1994 by Arrow Dynamics, an American manufacturing and engineering company. Due to the amount of time since the structure was designed, the main challenge for Taziker Engineering Services was to manufacture the tracks from historical drawings.
Additionally, the tracks weren’t being removed from the rollercoaster until the 2019/20 offseason in November, so Taziker utilised advanced computerised technology to begin the work beforehand.
Taziker’s survey team produced a Point Cloud survey using Trimble SX10 to provide incredibly accurate 3-dimensional data that was imported directly into Tekla Structures. Taziker Engineering Services team were then able to virtually model all key components and place them into the correct locations geographically in a 3D model space. The model was completed by the end of September.
Once November came and Blackpool Pleasure Beach closed, the track sections to be replaced were removed from the Big One. Taziker then completed a tactile survey of the flange plate connections and rail joints with a Leica Total Station to give accurate geographical data in the Heywood facility. This data could then be checked against the Cloud Point data to ensure correctness.
A jig/temporary working support frame was assembled at Heywood that was 45 metres in length to ensure geometrical accuracy and to ensure fit up between all track lengths.
Once this was constructed, the old track sections were placed into the jig to check that the geometry from the Point Cloud and tactile survey and that the 3D modelling was accurate. The jig was a perfect fit for the old track, therefore the old track was removed and new track components were added. The fabrication team were given local co-ordinates for each component that make up each piece and each component was positioned electronically using our robotic Leica Total Station using X,Y,Z virtual coordinates direct from the Tekla model.
During the process of constructing the new rollercoaster tracks, Taziker also helped design new integrated walkways and stairs that form part of the tracks to allow the Pleasure Beach team to inspect the ride once in operation. The original faceted curves on the rails were also smoothed out and strengthening was improved with the addition of new bull horn ties reducing the centre to centre spacing of the running rail supports.
Once constructed but prior to removal from the jig, Taziker tested one of the passenger cars on the track to ensure that the braking system did not clash with the new rail substructure and walkways. The new rollercoaster tracks were completed ahead of time and transferred to be painted in the iconic red colour of the Big One.
The track sections were successfully lifted into place on 3rd February and tested by Blackpool Pleasure Beach during the following week.
Throughout the project, Taziker worked in collaboration with the Blackpool Pleasure Beach team and Westlake Engineering, the Consulting Engineers.
Taziker Engineering Services has demonstrated competence, expertise and attention to detail with this complex project, and is excited to see the Big One in action for many more years to come.
The scope of the works included:
- Use of 3D Point Cloud to enable modelling structure from scratch
- Import cloud into Tekla to create 3d model
- Temporary Works Jigs created from Tekla Model.
- Use of Leica EDM total stations for accurate tolerances
- Build 4 No Tracks overall length approx. 45m span
- Trial assemble all 4 tracks together to prove fit up before site installation.
- Survey Site location once existing tracks were removed during Winter shut down at BPB
- Cut end tracks to suit final survey
- Trial all walkways and stairs access to track
- Run a carriage supplied by BPB down the full length to mitigate clashes when installed onsite
- Paint to Clients Specification and colour requirements