What does the Industrial Revolution have to do with Dorney Park?

In the early 20th century, steam, pistons, and compression were becoming tools for the next Industrial Age. The earliest known pneumatic tool was invented by Simon Ingersoll. It was a drill powered by air that revolutionized how mining was done. Ingersoll went on to start his own company selling the machine and the idea that manufacturing could be aided with pistons pushing air.

As industry developed and demand for mined goods continued to rise, another phenomenon was catching across the United States. A phenomenon of amusement parks.

Events such as the World's Fair hosted in Chicago put the first Ferris wheel on display. A new era was beginning of industry and entertainment. Machines doing work left more time for fun.

One entertainment purveyor, a known "coin machine proprietor" went from selling coin operated gizmos, to building massive attractions such as the ferris wheel. His lifetime count is designing or building 277 roller coasters, and creating a chain of 44 parks.

So what does this have to do with Dorney Park?

Frederick Ingersoll is the mastermind behind the explosion of coasters and parks. He built one of the original rides at Dorney Park. Born in New Jersey, close to where Simon Ingersoll first built the air drill, the tri-state area became of a hub of innovation starting with the Ingersoll name.

The possible family ties don't stop there. Fred Ingersoll married Alice Emily Ferris. Alice doesn't have any clear connections to the Ferris wheel, but it is believed that the family had ties in the business and industry. There is strong evidence that Fred Ingersoll and George Ferris were both in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and could have met.

There is a certain amazing genesis to the compressor and the roller coaster that started right here in the tri-state area. Today, compressors power systems that provide safety and comfort around every twist and turn of modern high powered rides.

Dorney Park

Air and Gas Technologies recently completed our yearly maintenance on Dorney Park. Every off-season, the park closes for maintenance and inspections. The job is vital to ensure safety and strong operation for another year of fun. 25 million visitors filter through the park every year and our service to the compressors also needs to be good for the same number of visitors.

The Compressed Air at Dorney Park serves several large and impressive coasters and rides.

Hercules

  • Features a 105 foot drop
  • Jojo roll - pre-hill inversion
  • loops
  • rolls
  • flat spins
  • double inversions

Dominator

  • 160-175 feet up and down
  • Up to 40 miles and hour each way
  • Faster than free-fall

The compressors in Dorney Park are maintained every off-season in a massive effort. As the weather gets cold, the park is closed to the public. However, filters, oil, and parts are all replaced to make sure that the machines can provide another year of safety and fun.

As the intensity of roller coasters go up, their demand for air and maintenance also goes up.

This air is used commonly to power brakes. We can get rides to go very fast, but then we also have to slow them down. A rubber bag is rapidly filled up with air, and the the rubber presses into the rolling cart, slowing down the system. Air is an easy and rapid way to distribute friction across a long cart.

Pneumatics are so effective in these systems because of pressure difference which allows for the air to quickly and forcefully fill a lower pressure space. This kind of mechanic power is useful where force is needed quickly.

Hydraulics and electrical actuators are valid for applications like these, but air tends to be effective for thrill rides. It's extremely reliable in it's simplicity and ability to apply precise movement through a piston and bore. Air avoids using any kind of hazardous material and meets explosion prevention demands because of no magnetic interference.

As another benefit, compressor parts are simple and simple tends to be inexpensive. When parks can keep costs down, that becomes savings that gets passed onto the end user.

With Pneumatics, air is able to smooth out acceleration and decelerations making the rides more comfortable. A linear increase in speed can feel quite sharp, but by making smaller adjustments to speed, it makes the experience more fun and comfortable.

At the end of the day, Dorney Park has come a long way since Frederick Ingersoll built that first ride. Air and Gas is proud to be a part of that heritage and look forward to the future that compressors bring to amusement parks.