US 3853067 A
A long downchute trough portion is provided as part of a boat amusement ride with a significant recovery in elevation following from the bottom of the downchute portion. Water and passenger carrying boats ride over a common supportive bottom surface of the trough. A dam is provided at the top of the downchute portion to initially block water flow when the amusement ride is started. When enough water is accumulated behind the dam it is opened and the mass of water travels along the downchute and up the subsequent rise portion, thus "priming" the ride.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Bacon [451 Dec. 10, 1974 BOAT AMUSEMENT RIDE WITH A SPILLWAY  Inventor: Karl W. Bacon, Mountain View,
 Assignee: Arrow Development Company,
Mountain View, Calif.
 Filed: Feb. 25, 1974  Appl. No.: 445,456
 US. Cl 104/70, 46/91, 104/155, 272/1 B  Int. Cl A63g 21/18  Field of Search 104/69, 70; 46/91; 272/1 B, 32
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Vaszin 104/70 Bacon et al 104/70 3,690,265 9/1972 Horibata 104/70 Primary Examiner-M. Henson Wood, Jr. Assistant Examiner-Richard A. Bertsch Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Limbach, Limbach &
Sutton [57 ABSTRACT A long downchute trough portion is provided as part of a boat amusement ride with a significant recovery in elevation following from the bottom of the downchute portion. Water and passenger carrying boats ride over a common supportive bottom surface of the trough. A dam is provided at the top of the downchute portion to initially block water flow when the amusement ride is started. When enough water is accumulated behind the dam it is opened and the mass of water travels along the downchute and up the subsequent rise portion, thus priming the ride.
4 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures PAIENIEL CLE t 01974 SHEET 1 BF 2 PATENIEI] SEC 1 01974 SHEET w 2 3,853.06!
BOAT AMUSEMENT RIDE WITH A SPILLWAY BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to boat amusement rides and more specifically to such rides with a steep downchute portion followed by a subsequent significant rise in the boat and water carrying trough.
Closed loop boat amusement rides are popular amusement park features. At one point in a typical ride, a passenger loading station is positioned for loading passengers into the boats. A preferred passenger loading station in the form of a rotary platform for a boat amusement ride is disclosed in copending patent appliation Ser. No. 351,509 filed Apr. I6, 1973. Such rides utilize boats with bottom wheels for support over a portion of the ride. After leaving the passenger loading station, the boats are generally mechanically drawn up a steep incline to the top of the ride. Water is pumped to the top of the ride from the passenger loading station at the bottom of the ride. The boat then travels downhill throughout the ride back to the passenger loading station under the force of gravity. The boats float throughout most of the ride and are carried along by the water flow. In some portions of the ride, a boat rides on the bottom of the trough on its wheels along surfaces provided for that purpose.
It is a primary purpose in designing such a ride, of course, to provide a thrill to the pasengers by various quick changes in boat velocity and direction. One such thrill providing structure is a steep downchutelportion wherein the boats obtain a speed of approximately 25-30 miles per hour near the bottom. As in dry type roller coaster rides, it is desirous to have a steep incline extend upwards from the bottom of the downchute portion to provide an added sensation to the boat passengers by a rapid change of forces on them. A problem is presented, however, in a water ride in carrying the water through such a rising trough portion.
Therefore, it is a primary object of the present inven tion to solve this problem in a simple and safe manner.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Briefly, a dam is provided at the top of the downchute portion that is operable between open and closed positions so that when the ride is initially started after a period without operation, a sufficient mass of water can be accumulated to provide through sudden release enough energy to carry the mass of water down the downchute and up the subsequent rise. Such a priming makes possible a significant rise in the trough from the bottom of the downchute portion. The trough rise provides rapid changes of forces on passengers in boats after coming down the downchute, adding to the characteristics of a desirable thrilling ride. Since the water can travel along the same trough as the boat through the rise portion, no expensive and complicated system for bypassing water around the rise portion is necessary.
Additional objects, advantages and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of its preferred embodiment which should be taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I generally illustrates a downchute trough and subsequent rise as part of a closed loop boat amusement ride;
FIG. 2 is a more detailed view of the trough dip illustrated in FIG. 1 taken across section 22 thereof;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of the top of the downchute of FIG. I with more detail shown;
FIG. 4 is a side view of the top of the downchute portion illustrated in FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a detailed section view of the top of the downchute portion shown in FIGS. 1-4 taken across section 5-5 of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken across section 6-6 of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken across section 7-7 of FIG. 2.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring to FIG. 1, a water trough II is shown very generally and has a solid bottom surface 13 with water containing side walls 15 and 17 running therealong. The water trough 11, although continuous, may be sectionalized for the purposes of description into a step downchute portion 11a, a bottom llb of the downchute portion, a top lie of the downchute portion, a rising portion lld that extends upward from the downchute bottom llb and a top lle of the rising portion 11d. The remaining portions of the closed loop boat water amusement ride as shown in FIG. I in a dashed path 19 including a water pump 2I for lifting the water that flows throughout the ride from its lower most point at the end thereof to the top at the beginning of the ride. Passenger carrying boats will move only by gravity once being lifted to the top most portion of the ride. The boats can float with water that is also moving by gravity and can, in portions, ride along the bottom of the water carrying trough on wheels provided for this purpose on the bottom of the boats.
It may be ovserved from FIGS. 1 and 2 that water is moved through the trough segment 11 over the same bottom surface 13 upon which the boats ride. No additional water bypassing mechanisms are provided. It is therefore necessary that the water have enough energy at the bottom llb of the steep downchute portion to continue traveling up the rise lld without falling backward. It will be noted that if water does not ascend the upward slope lid of the trough II the water will accumulate in the trough at the low point llb. Such an accumulation of water can be undesirable, since when the boats come down the steep downchute portion Ila, encountering such an accumulation of water might cause rapid deceleration and cause passenger discomfort. For this reason and in order to maintain continuous water flow throughout the ride, some provisions are necessary to make sure that the water flow continues to go up the rising portion 11d when the ride is in operation.
It is additionally desirable that a water catch basin 23 (FIG. 1) be provided to collect water that may spill over from the bottom llb of the trough but this does not remove the desirability of preventing such water accumulation during operation of the ride. The catch basin 23 would serve its function principally when the ride is shut down such as at the end of a working day.
it will be recognized that although the water at the top 110 of the trough portion may be sufficient for a boat to float, the depth of the water decreases as it proceeds down the steep portion 110 of the trough 11 as the water velocity increases. Therefore, it is inthese portions that the boats will ride on the bottom 13 on their wheels provided for this purpose. The boats will again float beyond the top lle of the rise portion after the water has again slowed down enough to provide a sufficient depth for floating the boat.
With such a ride as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, it is desirable to make the change in elevation from the bot tom point 11b up the rise 11d to its top lle be a significant percentage of the drop in elevation along the steep downchute portion 11a. Furthermore, a steep upward slope lld is desired. Both of these features create the changing forces which make the ride desirable to passengers seeking a thrilling experience. In order to maximize these qualities of the rising trough portion 11d, a mechanism must be provided to make sure that the water traveling down the chute portion 110 has enough energy to rise up the rising portion 11d. One occasion where this energy is usually deficient and thus may limit the height of the rise lid is upon starting up the ride after it has been idle for a time. As the pump 21 is started and water begins to flow down toward the trough portion 11, the initial trickle down the downchute lla may not have enough energy to rise up the rising portion lid of the trough. Thus, instead of having to lower this rising portion 11d or providing some kind of water bypass around it, it has been found that the ride will operate satisfactorily if, upon start-up, water is held back at the top lie of the downchute portion until a sufficient mass is collected to start a flow through the trough portion 11. Therefore, a dam 25 is provided at the top which may be closed upon start up of the ride. This dam is shown best in FIGS. 3 and 4 in its closed position in solid outline and in its open position in dotted outline. The dam 2S pivots around a rod 27. Once the ride is so primed, water will continue to flow as long as the pump 21 operates to deliver sufficient quantity to the top He of the downchute portion.
Referring primarily to FIGS. 3 and 4, an electrical water level sensor 29 is provided just upstream of the dam 25. A solenoid pneumatic control valve 31 receives the signal output of the level sensor 29 for connecting the output of an air pressure pump 33 to one of air lines 35 and 37. The air lines 35 and 37 are connected to opposite ends of a standard pneumatic piston assembly 39. An output shafl 41 of the piston 39 is connected operably to the shaft 27 in a manner to move the dam 25 between its open and closed positions. The water level sensor 29 is connected to the solenoid valve 31 in a manner to cause the dam 25 to move to its downward open position. A manually operable switch 43 is provided to operate a valve 31 to cause the dam gate 25 to move in the opposite direction from its open position to its closed position. Therefore, in starting up the ride according to the present technique, the switch 43 is manually initiated to move the darn gate 25 into its upright position as shown in solid outline in FIGS. 3 and 4. The pump 21 is then started and as the water level accumulates to that of the water level sensor 29, the gate 25 automatically drops. There is then enough water accumulated behind the gate 25 that the flow has sufficient energy at the bottom 11b of the trough section 11 to start continuous water flow up the rising portion lid.
A second water level sensor 45 is provided near the top of the rising portion 11d (FIG. 2) and its electrical signal is coupled with a second solenoid valve 47 (FIG. 4). The purpose of this water level sensor is as a safety feature to halt travel of boats through the trough portion 11 when it is sensed that water is no longer traveling up the rise 11d of the trough bottom 13. When this low water level is sensed, it indicates that excess water is being accumulated at the bottom llb of the trough and thus presents a possibility of discomfort to passengers should their boat enter such a deep water portion.
The mechanism that stops the boats is a brake 49 positioned in the top segment 11c of the trough. The brake 49 is an arm that is pivotable about a shaft 51 in response to movement of an output shaft 53 of a pneumatic piston cylinder 55. A high pressure air source 57 is controlled by the solenoid valve 47 to move the brake arm 49 upward and in the path of the boats to block their movement when the water level detected by the sensor 45 (FIG. 2) is below a predetermined op erating level.
When the brake 49 is operated, boats begin to accumulate in a line in the region lie of the ride. This, of course, impedes the flow of water therethrough. Therefore, a bypass trough 59 is provided to carry water from the trough behind such a line of boats and to discharge that water through an opening 61 back into the trough ahead of the first boat that has been stopped by the brake 49. This is important since the added impedance to water flow presented by a number of stationary boats could diminish the energy of water traveling down the downchute portion lla sufficiently to cause the water to fail to rise up to the top lle of the rising portion lld.
Although the techniques of the present invention have been described with respect to a preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood that the invention is entitled to protection within the full scope of the appended claims.
1. In a boat amusement ride having a downchute portion with a common boat carrying and water guiding surface that recovers part way in elevation from the bottom of the chute, the improvement comprising:
a removable barrier at the top of said downchute that is operable between an open position and a position that substantially closes off water flow down said downchute,
means operably connected to said barrier for operating it between said open and closed positions in response to a control signal, and
a water level sensor positioned within said downchute upstream of said barrier but adjacent thereto, said sensor emitting a control signal to said barrier operating means that causes the barrier to move to its open position when the water level behind the barrier reaches a predetermined level.
2. The boat amusement ride improvement according to claim I wherein said trough has a substantially flat bottom carrying said water and further wherein a passenger carrying boat provided for traveling along said trough includes a plurality of wheels on its bottom for riding along the trough and portions of the downchute and rise segments wherein the water level is not sufficient to float the boat.
3. The boat amusement ride according to claim 1 which additionally comprises:
a boat brake upstream of said dam at the top of said downchute portion that is capable of operating between boat holding and boat passage positions; and
means including a second sensor on the rise portion of said trough for operating the brake to block passage of boats when the water level adjacent said second sensor drops below the predetermined level.
4. A method of priming an amusement boat ride having a closed loop trough with a downchute portion imwater flow up and over said subsequent trough rise.