Eli Bridge Co.: Cycloid/Fire Storm

[Photo of Cycloid]

In recent discussions on rec.roller-coaster, the Eli Bridge Co. Scrambler has come up a couple of times, and ultimately has led to me bringing up the Eli Cycloid. It seems that few people have ever heard of this ride, or even seen one, let alone ridden one. Furthermore, I haven't been able to find any information about it on the Web. Personally, I think it's one of the better new rides out there, so in an effort to clear up some of the confusion, I've tried to describe it on this page.

In 1997, the Eli Bridge Company introduced a new portable amusement ride. Eli Bridge doesn't build bridges, but for the past hundred years it has built more Ferris wheels than anybody else, and is also well known for the ubiquitous Scrambler ride. For 1997, they redesigned the Scrambler, creating the ride pictured above, the Eli Cycloid.

[Drawing of Fire Storm]Perhaps it's a little easier to see in this drawing. The Cycloid starts with basically the same design as the Scrambler with a centerpole and three unit poles attached to sweeps extending from the center. Each unit pole caries four sweeps as on the Scrambler. The first obvious change is that instead of a single aluminum tub at the end of each unit pole sweep, facing in the direction of unit-pole rotation, there are two Fiberglas tubs at the end of each unit-pole sweep, facing towards the center of the unit pole. Each seat has a ratcheting lap bar; each seat can accommodate two adults or three children, just like the original Scrambler seats. So the Cycloid has double the capacity of the Scrambler.

But wait, there's more! While the Scrambler uses a gear on the center bearing to drive the unit pole rotations, the Cycloid uses independent hydraulic motors for the four rotating axes. And this is what makes the ride significantly different. The center of the Cycloid can be rotated in either direction at up to 8 RPM. Which is slower than a Scrambler. But because it can go either direction, the result is two distinctly different acceleration patterns. Even though the center rotation is slower than a Scrambler (a Scrambler runs at 11.4 RPM), because the seats are positioned facing the unit pole center, the forces exerted by the ride are redirected to push riders back in the seat instead of out to the side. It just so happens that the human body can more easily tolerate high accelerations in that direction than in other directions. So while the Scrambler generates lateral forces up to about 1.5 G, the Cycloid unit poles rotate at up to 19 RPM, generating a maximum force of close to 3 G! Best of all from the showman's point of view, the Cycloid still fits on a single trailer. [Cycloid racked on truck]

After introducing the Cycloid, Eli Bridge advertised an identical ride with a different paint scheme called the Fire Storm. Since then, Eli Bridge has had a tremendous success with their Construction Zone kiddie ride. I have no idea how many Cycloid/Fire Storm rides Eli has sold, but one of the first ones (S/N 98-01. The first one? The only one?) was apparently sold to Bates Amusements, and I was able to ride it at the I-X Indoor Amusement Park in 1998.

If you've seen another Cycloid or Fire Storm, please let me know. I have no idea how many of these there are.

Note: All photos on this page were adapted from Eli Bridge Co. advertising materials.

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