US 3830161 A
A flume amusement ride wherein passengers ride in boats that float on water flowing in water channels, the boats being guided by the walls of the water channel. A steep downchute portion is provided as part of the ride as a means of providing a thrill to the passengers. The downchute portion includes two adjacent water channels into which boats are alternately directed by a gate that is constructed of two parallel wall members hinged to the walls of the single water channel upstream of the downchute. Hold point brakes are provided in the channel at various locations for blocking passage to boats in order to control the boat movement and spacing.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 [111 3,830,161
Bacon Aug. 20, 1974 FLUME BOAT RIDE WITH A DOUBLE Primary Examiner-Lloyd L. King DOWNCHUTE  Inventor: Karl W. Bacon, Mountain View,
 Assignee: Arrow Development Company,
Mountain View, Calif.
 Filed: July 6, 1973  Appl. No.: 377,145
 US. Cl. 104/70  Int. Cl. A63g l/00, A63g 7/00, A63g 21/00  Field of Search 104/70, 73
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,404,635 lO/l968 Bacon et al 104/70 Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Limbach, Limbach & Sutton [5 7] ABSTRACT A flume amusement ride wherein passengers ride in boats that float on water flowing in water channels, the boats being guided by the walls of the water channel. A steep downchute portion is provided as part of the ride as a means of providing a thrill to the passengers. The downchute portion includes two adjacent water channels into which boats are alternately directed by a gate that is constructed of two parallel wall members hinged to the walls of the single water channel upstream of the downchute. Hold point brakes are provided in the channel at various locations for blocking passage to boats in order to control the boat movement and spacing.
7 Claims, 14 Drawing Figures PArimauwczm 3.886.161
sum aor 4 PATENIiumczolsu sumw 4 FIG .14.
FLUME BOAT RIDE WITH A DOUBLE DOWNCHUTE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention pertains to amusement rides in general, and more specifically to improvements in flume boat rides.
Several flume boat rides are presently in operation and are popular among amusement ride patrons. A water channel (flume) is provided for carrying and guiding passenger carrying boats from a passenger loading station around a closed loop and back to the passenger loading station again. A preferred passenger loading station is of a rotary platform described and claimed in co-pending patent application, Ser. No. 351,509, filed Apr. 16, 1973. A portion of the water channel immediately downstream of the loading platform generally includes a portion wherein the boats are raised to a high elevation. The boats then are carried by moving water through the rest of the water channel back to the passenger loading station. Many variations in the water channel are provided in order to make the flume ride an interesting and thrilling one to the passengers.
One of these variations is a very steep downchute portion which has been used in the past to accelerate the boats to a high velocity by the time they reach the bottom of the downchute. Since the water in the downchute portion also moves at a high velocity and thus flows at a lesser depth than in the main channel, the boats are provided with wheels that ride on the bottom of the channel in the downchute portion since there is not enough depth of water to keep them afloat. Some existing single downchutes on flume rides provide for separating the water from the channel into a pond at the bottom of the downchute. Water from this pond is then slowly fed back into the water channel at the end of the downchute so that the boats leaving the downchute into the more flat portions of the water channel are slowed down by the water. The pond is a means of slowing down the water which has fallen from the top of the downchute.
The use of such a single downchute has been the controlling factor as to the number of boats per unit of time which can be passed through the ride. That is, boats must be dispatched from the loading station at intervals sufficient to assure that the boats are spaced apart a distance which prevents collisions of boats in the high speed downchute portion. This dispatch interval affects the volume of people which may be handled by the flume ride and thus significantly affects the income of the flume amusement ride operator.
Therefore, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a hydroflume downchute structure which permits decreasing the dispatch interval between boats in the flume ride without sacrificing the safety of passengers riding in boats through the ride.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This and additional objects are accomplished by the present invention wherein two separate adjacent water channels are provided in the downchute portion and constructed to be substantially identical. A gate is provided at the upstream side of the downchute portion for alternately passing the boats through one downchute water channel and then the other. Thus, the boats spacing in the high-speed downchute portion is maintained at a safe interval in each downchute but allows dispatch from the passenger loading station at approximately one-half that interval, thus increasing the capacity of the system by a factor of approximately two.
The two separate water channels include the steep portion and a substantially flat run-out portion of a length sufficient to slow down the boats prior to the two channels joining together into a single water channel. The boats are slowed down enough in the run-out portion of the two adjacent water channels so that the boats are again traveling at a safe slow speed when they are fed into a single downstream channel for continuation of the ride.
The gate means at the upstream side of the downchute segment of the ride includes parallel wall members which are simultaneously moved about pivots attached to the water channel walls of the single water channel at the input to the downchute portion. Parallel gates hinged on their upstream end minimize obstruction to the passage of a boat. This form of gate is much improved over a type where a single gate is hinged at thedownstream end in mid-channel; Such a single gate would present an obstruction in the channel when swinging from one position to another.
Positive hold point brakes are also provided at various locations in order to stop the boats from going down the downchute portion if the run-out channels are not clear for a sufficient distance ahead of the boats. The brakes provide the required margin of safety. The hold point brakes are pivotally attached to the side walls of the water channel and swing out into the channel to block the passage of the boat therethrough.
Additional objects, advantages and features of the various aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment thereof, which should be taken inconjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a plan view of a flume downchute portion including two adjacent water channels according to the present invention; I
FIG. 2 is a side view of the downchute portion of FIG.
FIG. 3 is a section of the ride of FIG. 2 taken across section 3--3 thereof;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the ride of FIG. 2 taken across section 44 thereof;
FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the ride of FIG. 2 taken across section 5-5thereof;
FIG. 6 illustrates the upstream portion of the downchute segment of FIG. 1 in an enlarged scale with added details;
FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the structure of FIG. 6 taken across section 7-7 thereof;
FIG. 8 is a sectional view of the structure of FIG. 6 taken across section 8-8 thereof; FIG. 9 is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 6; FIG. 10 is a side view of the gate wall shown in FIG.
FIG. 11 is a view of the gate structure taken across section ll-ll of FIG. 10;
FIG. 12 is a sectional view of FIG. 6 taken across section 12-12 thereof;
DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referringto FIGS. 15, the general features of the downchute portion of the ride embodying the various aspects of the present invention is described. An upstream or entrance segment 11 is at a high elevation and carries a boat which may be directed into either one or two water channels 13 and 15 which include the downchute portion of the flume ride. The boats are diverted from the entrance channel 11 into either of the adjacent waterchannels 13 or 15 by a parallel gate structure 17 which is located at theupstream side of the two adjacent channels. The two channels 13 and 15 each contain similar downchute portions at their upstream end which are followed at their downstream ends by a run-out water channel segment which includes jumps 19 and 21. The two channels 13 and 15 are again joined together at the end of the run-out section to direct boats into a single exit channel 23.
It will be noted from FIG. that the construction of the boats, such as a boat 25, contemplated for use with this ride includes wheels on its bottoms and its sides. Four wheels are provided on the bottom much like in an automobile, two of which are illustrated in FIG. 5 as wheels 27 and 29. Two wheels are also provided on each side of the boat 25, one wheel 31 being illustrated on one side and another wheel 33 being illustrated on the opposite side in FIG. 5. The purpose of the side wheels such as the wheels 31 and 33 is to guide the boat within the channel by providing a rolling contact with the side walls of the water channel. The take out wheels on the bottom of the boat 25, such as the wheels 27 and 29, serve a purpose of supporting the boat when the water level in the water channel is insufficient to cause flotation of the boat 25.
It will be recognized from FIG. 2 that water flowing in the entrance channel 11 from the left to the right of the view of FIG. 2 will increase in velocity as it starts down the downchute portions of one of the water channels l3 and 15. As the velocity of the water increases, its depth decreases. It is provided that the boats ride on their wheels in the downchute portion of the channels 13 and since the water depth decreases as the velocity down the chute increases. The boats contact the bottom of the downchute water channel at about point A as illustrated on FIG. 2 At the bottom B of the downchute portion the water is at a maximum velocity and the water at a minimum depth. A set of parallel tracks, such as tracks 35 and 37 in the channel 13, are provided in the bottom of the water channels in order to provide a surface on which the bottom boat wheels may run.
The channels 13 and 15 are constructed so that the boat continues to run on its wheels at the bottom B of the downchute portion. The boat immediately rides up onto tracks 39 and 41 of the jumpv 19 or similar tracks of the jump 21. As the boat rides up on the tracks 39 and 41 of the channel 13, for. instance, the water flowing in the channel passes under these tracks in a trough 43. The boat does not contact the water'until it comes down from the jump 19 or 21, at about a point C illustrated in FIG. 2. It is desired that the water in the channel downstream from the jump be reduced in velocity from its maximum velocity in the downchute portion so that the boat entering the water again will tend to plane in a thrilling manner and be slowed down before entering channel 23. A baffle arrangement in the water troughs under the tracks in the jumps 19 and 21 are utilized for this purpose. A baffle 45 is illustrated under the tracks of the jump 13 in FIG. 4. By the time that the boat floats again, the water speed has been slowed and thus serves to slow the boat down. The run-out section on the downstream side of the jumps 19 and 21 are long enough to slow the boat down a desired amount before the channels 13 and 15 come together at about point D (FIG. 1) into the single exit channel 23. The relative velocities of boats and the water have thus been effectively varied after the jump portion without physically removing the water from the channels 13 and 15 as has been done in some single channel downchute system built heretofore.
Referring primarily to FIG. 6, the operation of the gate 17, the use of boat controlling brakes and the construction of the water channels themselves is described. The first brake that a boat approaches as it proceeds near the downchute portion of theflume ride is a boat separation brake 47, thisbrake being described in detail hereinafter with respect to FIG. 12. The second brake that the boat approaches is a hold point brake 49, which is located upstream of the boat diverting gate 17. On the downstream side of the gate 17 is a hold point brake 51 located in the waterchannel 13. Another hold point brake 53 is provided in the channel 15 on the downstream side of the boat diverting gate 17. The hold point brakes 49, 51 and 53 are described hereinafter in more detail with respect to FIGS. 13 and 14. It will be noted that all four of the brakes illustrated in FIGS. 6 as well as the boat diverting gate 17 are located on a gently downsloping section of water channel prior to the steep downchute portions of the water channel 13 and 15. These brakes thus help to space and separate the boats prior to their entry into the downchute portions of the ride.
Occasionally boats will be blocked at the top of the downchute portion by closure of the brake 49 in response to some condition that makes it undesirable to pass a boat therethrough. When a number of boats, so blocked, accumulate, it is desirable to bypass the water from a position that would normally be behind the last boat of a line of boats to a position in front of the first boat of the line. Such as'bypass channel 55, illustrated in FIG. 6, is provided adjacent the entrance channel 11. Water flows from the bypass channel 55 through an opening 57 and into channel 11 in the vicinity of the hold point brake 49. Such a by-pass channel 55 is necessary to prevent overflow of water from a channel blocked by boats. An entrance (not shown) to the bypass channel 55 at an opposite end is in the form of an aperture in a side of the entrance channel 11 a distance above its bottom so when the water level rises due to the blockage of boats, water overflows into the channel 55 to be carried around the accumulated boats.
As can be seen generally from FIG. 6, the gate 17 has two distinct positions, one shown in solid lines wherein a boat is directed from the channel 11 into the channel 13 and the other position shown in dotted outline wherein a boat is directed from the channel 11 into the channel 15. The main components of the gate 17 are parallel wall structures 59 and 61. The wall structure 59 is mounted on one side wall of the entrance channel 11 by a pin 63 in a manner to be pivotable about the pin 63. Similarly, the wall structure 61 is attached to the opposite side wall of the channel 11 by a pivotable pin 65. A rod 67 extends between the two gate wall portions 59 and 61 at a level immediately adjacent the bottom of the channel so that the wall portions 59 and 61 will be moved together. Air cylinders 69 and 71 are directly connected to move the gate wall portions 59 and 61, respectively. A vertically extending post 73 is mounted in the water channel at the junction of the water channels 13 and and serves as the extreme stop of the gates 59 and 61 as they are swung outward into the channel. It will also be noted that an indentation 75 is provided in a water channel side wall for receiving the gate wall portion 59 in a manner to permit a boat to pass freely by the gate along a flush side. Similarly, an indentation 77 is provided in the opposite water channel wall for receiving the gate wall member 61.
It will be noticed from FIG. 6 that by the particular operation of the parallel gate walls 59 and 61, the gate itself does not contribute to blocking passage of boats if a boat happens to enter the gate as it is moving from one position to another. The boat in such a position will merely be moved along with the gate to the new position thereof. 0
With respect to FIGS. 9-11, certain additional details of the gate structure 17 are illustrated. FIG. 9, of course, shows the gate wall member 59 in solid lines in its opposite distinct position from that shown in FIG. 6. Each of the gate walls is constructed of a plurality of horizontally extending and parallel rigid strips 79. The strips 79 are held together in a spaced relationship by a plurality of vertically extending members such as the structural member 81 of FIG" 10. An angle iron 83 is attached to the ends of the members 79 for engaging the post 73. A cable 85 is provided in tension between the gate wall member 59 and the pivot support post 63 in order to maintain a structurally rigid gate 59. This structure of the gate 59 is preferred over a solid wall structure since it is lighter and can be more easily moved through water in the water channel.
Referring again to FIG. 6, boat guiding members 87 and 89 are provided in conjunction with the gate wall members 59 and 61, respectively. The boat guiding members 87 and 89 are attached to opposite walls of the entrance channel 11 at pivots 91 and 93. The structure and function of these boat guiding members is best illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10 wherein the boat guiding member 87 is shown. A pin-like member 93 extending vertically across the gate 59 traps the edges of strips of the boat guiding member 87 so that the member 87 moves with movement of the gate 59. The boat guiding member 87 presents a more smooth side wall to a boat when a gate member such as the member 59 is in the solid position shown in FIG. 9. Without the member 87, it can be seen from FIG. 9 that a very sharp abutment would exist that might prevent a boat passing through the boat transfer gate structure smoothly. When the gate wall 59 is in its dotted position, as shown in FIG. 9, the member 87 serves as a mere straight line extension thereof since a notch 95 is provided in all of the members 79 of the gate 59 fornesting of a vertical structure member of the boat guide member 87.
Referring to FIG. 12, the boat spacing brake 47 is illustrated. A brake member 97 is designed for frictionally contacting the bottom of boats passing thereover. An air cylinder 99 provides motion to a lever arm 101 which is attached to a shaft 103 that rotates. In response to rotation of the shaft 103, the brake 97 is brought upwards from the bottom of the channel to frictionally contact the bottom of the boat for the purpose of holding it temporarily. The length of the arm holding the brake member 97 is, of course, related to the size of the boat and the water depth maintained in the channel 11.
Hold point brakes 49, 51 and 53 of FIG. 6 are illustrated in detail in plan and side views, respectively, in FIGS. 13 and 14. A pivot rod 105 of one half of the brake member is attached to a wall of the channel in which the brake is installed. Horizontally extending arms 107 and 109 rotate from the dotted position shown in FIG. 13 against the side wall to a position shown in solid line in FIG. 13 extending across the channel and substantially perpendicular to its wall. An air cylinder 111 provides such motion. A soft rubberlike bumper 113 extends vertically between the support rods 107 and 109. Also, a roller 115 is held horizontally between the rods 107 and 109' and is the operable element of the brake which is furthest removed from the brake member supporting wall. Thus if a boat is part a way through the brake position asit begins to operate, the roller 115 will permit the boat to continue moving. If the brake is operated to close off the channel to boat traffic prior to a boat reaching the brake position, it will engate the soft bumpers 113 and will thus be stopped until the brake is opened. As the brake is opening, the boat may move forward and roll along the roller 115. As is shown in FIG. 6, each of the hold point brakes 49, 51 and 53 includes two brake operating members of the type of FIGS. 13 and 14 which are installed on opposite walls of the water channels in which they are provided.
The operation of the various brakes and of the gate 17 are preferably controlled by an automatic system in order, of course, to save labor and also to be more reliable from a safety standpoint than can be provided by human control. An indication of the presence of boats in the entrance channel, the adjacent parallel channels 13 and 15, and in the exit channel 23 are provided by some sensing mechanism such as a light source and photocell sensor. Referring again to FIG. 6, a sensor 117 is provided adjacent the channel 13 a short distance upstream of the hold point brake 51. Similarly, a sensor 119 is provided adjacent the channel 15. These sensors emit a signal when a boat reaches them in their respective channels. When a boat reaches the sensor 117, for instance, the gate 17 is then enabled for movement from its solid position shown to its dotted position so that the next boat will be directed down the water channel 15. The sensors 117 and 119 indicate when a boat has cleared the gate area 17.
Similar types of sensors are preferably provided at the end of the run-out section of the respective channels 15 and 13 such as near the ends thereof. These sensors enable opening of their respective hold point brakes 51 and 53. A boat must be sensed to have passed one of these lower sensors before a brake in the same channel will allow another boat to pass. This maintains proper boat spacing in the dangerous downchute'area.
The hold point brake 49 in the entrance channel 11 is closed when it is sensed that the system downstream thereof is blocked. This accumulates the incoming boats behind the gate 49 until the downstream channel is sensed to be clear so that boats may again be directed downstream. When the brake 49 opens after an accumulation of boats has been held therebehind, the seperator brake 47 is operated to re-space the boats at proper intervals.
The various aspects of the present invention have been described with respect to a preferred embodiment of a flume amusement boat ride but it will be understood that the invention is entitled to protection with the full scope of the appended claims.
1. In a flume amusement boat ride having a water channel with boat guiding walls therealong and a normal downhill slope along a significant portion of the ride that is sufficient to carry water at a velocity to move passenger boats down the water trough, an improvement comprising:
two adjacent alternate channel paths connecting at one end thereof to a single channel for receiving a boat from the single channel into either of said alternate paths, another end of each of the alternate paths being again joined together for directing boats travelling through either of said two alternate paths into a single water channel, each of said two adjacent paths having a steep downchute portion adjacent said one end with a slope significantly greater than said normal downhill slope, said downchute portion of each of the two adjacent paths connecting at their lower ends with a flatter runout portion for slowing down boats prior to their entry into said common output water channel, whereby the amusement boats are accelerated into the downchute portion and slowed down in the run-out portions of the two adjacent alternate channel paths, and
gate means at said one end of the two adjacent paths for controlling the passage of a boat from the entrance water channel into either one of two adjacent alternate channel paths.
2. The improved flume amusement boat ride of claim 1 wherein said gate means includes parallel wall members, one gate wall pivotably attached at one end to one single channel entrance wall while the other gate wall is pivotably attached at one end to an opposite single channel entrance wall, said gate walls being swingable in a parallel manner between side walls of said two adjacent paths.
3. The improved flume amusement boat ride of claim 2 wherein said gate walls are constructed of substantially horizontal members with open spaces therebetween.
4. The improved flume amusement boat ride of claim 1 wherein at least three hold-point brakes are provided for controllably stopping the boats in said channels, a first hold point brake in said single entrance channel upstream from said gate means, and one hold point brake provided in each of said two adjacent channel paths a distance downstream from said gate means sufficient to accommodate and hold one boat while still permitting the gate to operate.
5. The improved flume amusement boat ride of claim 4 wherein at least one of said hold point brakes comprises a pair of gates pivotably mounted to the channel side walls and operable between a brake-off position wherein said gates are held adjacent said channel walls and a brake-on position wherein said gates are pivoted into a position across said channel, thereby to block the path of a boat travelling therealong.
6. The improved flume amusement boat ride according to claim 1 wherein the boats include wheels on the bottom thereof and further wherein the downchute portion of each of said two adjacent channel paths includes parallel tracks for carrying the wheels, the water in each of the channels being carried by the downchute portion into the run-out portion wherein the boats again contact water and are slowed down thereby.
7. The improved flume amusement boat ride according to claim 6 wherein said run-out portion additionally includes the track portions formed into a jump which rise above the lowest level of the end of the downchute and then back down without sufficient water flowing to float a boat until the boat reaches a position downstream of said track jump portion, said amusement boat ride additionally including a channel thereunder for carrying water coming down the downchute and for slowing it down so that the water at the downstream side of the jump portion will be slow enough to slow down a boat which again floats.