Side friction roller coaster

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The scenic railway ride at Luna Park, Melbourne has been running since 1912. The brakeman stands between the two carriages.

A side friction roller coaster is an early roller coaster design that does not have an extra set of wheels under the track to prevent cars from becoming airborne. Before the invention of up-stop wheels, coaster cars were built to run in a trough, with wheels under the car and side plates to help keep the cars on the track. Because the cars were not firmly anchored and could derail if they took a corner too fast, the largest side friction coasters required a brakeman to ride on the train and slow it down when necessary.

The invention of up-stop wheels in the 1920s allowed much more scope for height and speed in coaster designs, leaving side friction coasters to quickly fall out of favor. Only two have been built since World War II, and none since 1951. Today, there are only nine left in the world. Seven of them are located in Europe, one in Australia, and one in North America. A tenth one that had been "standing but not operating,(SBNO)" since 2003, the "Runaway Coaster" at the defunct Rotunda amusement park in Kent, England, was demolished on April 5, 2007.


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