There 2 different tanks in each of the centers of any S&S ride. The supply tank and the shot/drop tank. The supply tank takes up most of the space. Then there are four cylinders with a piston in each. The piston is always at the opposite side that the cart is on. There is a cable from the top of the piston to the top of the cart, and from the bottom of the piston to the bottom of the cart. This applies only for the NSS and Turbo Drops only. The N12 models are a little different. After the cart is weighed and the desired PSI is chosen it opens the valve and pushes the piston therefore moving the cart. All valves are then closed for a bit. To bring the cart back down the settle valves are opened a bit to let the air out. The big thump you hear right after the ride is shot is the piston passing the air filter. Any other questions, please dont hesitate to ask.
If you've ever wondered how rides like Dr. Doom's Fearfall work, here is a clear, detailed description I took from a post on www.coasterforum.com:
1) Each S&S tower structure is rectangular. The car on each tower is octogonal with four main "walls". These four face the flat sides of the tower while the other four sides of the cars are where the wheel assembly is hooked onto. The wheel assembly locks the car onto the tower by rolling along the corners of the tower.
2) Each of the four sides of the S&S tower structure has an individual cabe running from the very top of the tower down to the base of the tower with pulleys at both ends.
3) Each of the four main "walls" of the car is firmly connected with one of the four cables that run up and down the tower.
4) So for those that did not know this, NO, S&S towers are NOT free-fall rides because the cars are controlled by these cables, not gravity.
5) Now, you might be thinking, so how are the cables capable of moving the car up and down the tower? Well, each of the four cables form a "loop". Half of it runs on the outside of the tower, while connected to the car, while the other half is INSIDE one of the small cylinder-like "tubes" you see inside the tower track (the ones usually colored yellow- i.e Power Tower, Dominator). And a PISTON is connected to a part of the "inside tube "cable". Imagine a piston being a flat circular "disk" that fits directly into the opening of the tube and it slides up and down inside the tube. So basically, the cable length used for Supreme Scream is much longer than the cables used for The Dominator, because it has much more tower track.
6) Just in case you're wondering what the center tube (the largest one surrounded by the four smaller ones) is, that is the compressed air storage tank for the ride. There is an air filtering and dryer system that sends up the "purified" and compressed air into the big tube (they're really called pneumatic cylinders) after every cycle/ride.
7) HOW THE CABLES AND TUBES OPERATE A SPACE SHOT
• After every ride cycle or turn, the big air tank/tube is filled up. And when the ride ops push the button to begin the ride, the storage tank opens valves on top of the piston and literally BLAST a powerful jet of air into the four smaller tubes, which cause the piston to move down extremely quickly. And when the piston moves, the cable moves along with it. And when the cables move, the car moves too, therefore, causing the car to rocket 50 MPH to the top of the tower.
8) HOW THE CABLES AND TUBES OPERATE A TURBO DROP
• After every ride cycle or turn, the big air tank/tube is filled up. And when the ride ops push the button to begin the ride, the storage tank opens valves at the top of the tower (where the piston is locked) and SLOWLY releases compressed air into the four smaller tubes. The slowly released air pushes down on the piston all the way down to the bottom of the tower, and by the time the piston locks at the base of the tower, the car is stopped at the top and makes a sound you are all familiar with - PSSSSSSTTTT. Why do Turbo Drops make that sound at the top? That's the sound of compressed air rushing at a fast rate, again filling the now empty storage tank that had used up the air when lifting the car to the top (that's why you get a 5-8 second pause at the top before you drop, because the tank is refilling at this point). And after the tank refills, that 5-8 seconds is gone, and the valves once again open up and rushes air into the four cylinders. But this time, the air enters from BELOW the piston (now locked near the bottom of tower while car is at the top) and the compressed air blasts the piston to the top of the tower. And when the piston is moved up, the cable moves up with it, and when the cable moves, the car moves with it. So riders are literally YANKED downwards when the piston is fired upwards inside the tube at 50 MPH.
9) WHY THE CARS "BOUNCE" UP AND DOWN THE TOWER
• This is simple. No, the designers or ride ops can't decide how many times the car rebounds up the tower. That's a myth. The cars bounce NATURALLY. Let's take a Turbo Drop for instance. After the main descent, the cars stop 1/4 of the way down and are shot back halfway up the tower insteading of just stopping at the bottom. What causes the car to do this is basically the (air) pressure that builds up in the climax of the main drop. Because there is still quite some air on the opposite side of the piston, it can't lock at the top (which would stop the car at the bottom). But because of this pressure applied in return on the other side of the piston, the piston is "bounced" all the way down halfway therefore also causing the connecting cable and car to move back up (imagine a trampoline, rubber band, etc.)
allright, i've been reading these boards for a while, and finally decided to post.
1st, great description of the basic S&S ride system, i've known how the rides work for a while, but the explanation you gave was so thorough, a baby could understand it.
now for my question, recently, i rode VertiGo, at Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park, Ca. basically, VertiGo is a next-generation S&S rapid-ascent ride. The difference, is that vertigo utilizes 3 towers in a triangle, not connected at the top, and a small 6 person ride vehicle (also triangular, 2 people per side) in the center of them, attatched to the top of the 3 towers, by 3 long cables, one on each side of the car, running to the top of the corresponding tower. The towers themselves are cylindrical, and about half way up, they start decreasing in diameter to allow for the towers to sway upon launch, and you can see that the piston only fires half the length of the tower. The piston itself, has a cable that runs out the top of the tower BASE, to a small bogie, that is mounted at the half-way point on the outside of the tower. I do NOT know where the vehicle cable goes, but from all that i've seen in watching, and riding it, is that the cable is not attatched to said bogie or the piston (not attatched to the piston directly from what i can deduce).
upon launch, the bogie drops from it's starting point (1/2 way up) to the base of the tower (the 3 towers are 265ft all, so if it drops half way that would be 132.5 feet that the bogie drops, which leads me to believe that the piston (unlike standard space-shots) are firing upwards.
now, when the car launches, the cables attatched to the vehicle, in relation to the height of the towers, shorten, so the cable is going somewhere, if the car starts 265 feet from the top, that's 265 feet of cable running to the top of the tower, when you reach the apex, the length from vehicle to the top of the tower, is a LOT less, around 35feet.
Basically.... what do they do with the vehicle cable (my thought was that it's spooled somewhere, and the piston is attatched to a large gear, that interacts with a small gear on the spooling device, thus allowing them to spool more than the height of the tower in cable, with the piston only firing half the distance, ie, when large gear makes one complete rotation, depending on the diameter of the small gear, it will make a few rotations) however, in seeing photos of the exposed base, i cannot find ANY spool type device.
if you know how the ride system works completely, please let me know, or shoot me over an e-mail.
sorry for making this a long post, just trying to figure this ride out!
Thanks in advance.
EDIT: Nevermind, i figured it out, just a simple double pulley system (pulley at the top of the tower, and the red-bogie is the second pulley)