Japanese shuttle loop roller coasters: part 6 of our look at the world’s tallest roller coasters

Also, in 1979, Meisho Special Industries pioneered a new style of Shutte Loop.  Meisho Special Industries’ root is with Okamoto Manufacturing Co., established in 1924 as one of Japan’s first play equipment manufacturers.  In 1955, the third son of Noji Okamoto (founder of Okamoto Manufacturing Co.), Masaaki established Meisho Special Industries. 

Meisho Special Industries first roller coaster was the Wave Coaster/ウエーブコースター, at Dazaifu Yuenchi in Dazaifu, Fukuoka, Japan.  Opening in 1957, little is known about the ride, and then, Meisho branched off into producing medium-sized Jet Coaster and Wild Mouse style roller coasters using flat-iron steel track. 

In 1979, they started using tubular steel track to create more advanced layouts, leading to two new roller coaster models that year.  The “Jet Spiral Coaster” used a pair of Corkscrew inversions in a figure-8 design.  One particular thing about this line of coaster is that it uses tires mounted on the side of the track to slow down the train at points of the layout.  The first of those opened in 1979 at Nasu Highland (Nasu, Tochigi, Japan) as Thunder Coaster, and it closed in 2017.

The second model, the Shuttle Loop mentioned above opened as “Loop Coaster” at Tojoko Toy Kingdom/東条湖おもちゃ王国.  Standing a massive 150.9 feet tall, this attraction’s spikes stand at each end of the layout.  We discovered this Japanese page at http://drkssk27.web.fc2.com/zekkyou/rusutsu/loopthe/loopthe.html where a detailed explanation of Rusutsu Resort Loop the Loop was found along with all the photos. 

One particular thing about this ride versus the original Shuttle Loop was that the track rolled forward out of the station, heading to the tallest point nose-first.  As a result, the ride’s fastest segments were taken backward, adding a lot of intensity to the ride. 

The first spike uses a dual cable catch car that attaches itself to a piece located in the front of the first car’s chassis.  Interestingly, the catch car doesn’t go to the station.  Instead, the brakes release the train, and it rolls forward into the catch car.  The catch car is spring-loaded, and when it’s tripped, it grabs the train and starts pulling it up the spike.  To minimize friction on the cables and wear and tear on the track, rubber pieces cover the track ties at the area where the cables hang above. 

Near the top, two metal pieces angle up and push the catch car hook up, released the train.  For added safety, the track extends further up and angles up in a nice shape, and two hydraulic plungers can stop the train safely if the catch car doesn’t release. 

The trains roar backward, passing through the station at 55.9 mph and into the large vertical loop.  It then goes up the other way, into a large, steeper spike.  It stalls before rolling forward through the loop and getting slowed the first time by the brakes.  Due to the higher speeds, Meisho didn’t use the side-mounted tires to slow the train down in favor of side-mounted pneumatic brake calipers.  They rub against the train’s side, but the speed is such that it takes a pass forward, another one backward, and finally, the train is parked forward.

Meisho fabricated 8 of those attractions, with 6 for Japanese domestic parks and two going to China and Thailand.  The last one in operation is the Loop The Loop at Rusutsu Resort in northern Hokkado, part of a large resort with an amusement park in the summer and a massive skiing complex in winter. 

1980 saw Izumiyo Kiko Co., Ltd., the manufacturing division of Senyo Kogyo Co., Ltd., a Japanese park operator and developer, develop their style of shuttle loop.  As it was called, the Atomic Coaster had an unusual layout; the station is located higher off the ground.  From there, a pair of lift chains with pusher dogs push the train forward the lift hill.  At the top, the track levels off, still pointing upward at a very shallow angle.  It is quite similar to Meisho’s Loop The Loop, but the station at a higher point and subsequent second drop lead to a slightly slower ride.

Next, when the train reaches the shallow part, the chain dogs get out of the way.  Gravity then takes over, and the train starts rolling backward, rapidly increasing speed as it levels off in the station before dropping once more into the vertical loop.  The loop is taken backward with incredible positive G forces; the train quickly exits it and reach the spike—the train stalls on it before proceeding forward through the loop forward, again a very intense experience.  The ride ends with brakes before and in the station.  The higher station makes braking easier, with the under-carriage metal fins caught by pneumatic calipers mounted in the middle of the track.  The train goes partly through the station before getting stopped for unloading when it rolls backward. 

The standard Atomic Loop was 127.7 feet tall on its gravity spike, an impressive height for the era, and reached 49.7 mph.  Mitsui Greenland (Arao, Kyushu, Japan) wanted to take things to the next level and, to that end, built a bigger version.  Greenland “Basic Looping Atomic” stood an impressive 164.1 feet; the ride took advantage of its location, with the station and lift on top of a cliff, the loop and bottom of the gravity spike over one of the park lake.  One significant layout change was to the station: it didn’t drop right out of the station into the loop.  It had an additional section of straight track between the loop drop and station.  The ride operated from 1980 until 2009, when the ride was retired, leaving the lake’s footers and the loop itself as decoration. 

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