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Coaster Dynamix®, headquartered in Elkton Virginia USA, touts their Scorpion as “The world’s most incredible operating roller coaster model!” Indeed, the original Scorpion, now replaced by the New Scorpion, mimic real world steel roller coasters in appearance and performance more accurately than any other model roller coaster construction set products on the market today. Including just over 700 parts, this “O” scale (1:48) self titled roller coaster modeling system is extremely flexible and allows the builder, within the constraints of the included parts, the ability to design and build not only the Scorpion roller coaster configuration featured in the instruction manual but also a dizzying array of their own custom roller coaster creations. The included parts are very high quality and the instruction manual is straight forward and easy to follow with no glaring omissions. A US standard 12VDC power supply is included.

 

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Building the Scorpion model roller coaster and watching it go whooshing quietly and speedily around the circuit is great modeling entertainment. You may discover, however, that it is not quite as “easy” to assemble as Coaster Dynamix® claims in their advertising and on their packaging. Fear not. We have some comments and suggestions or clarifications which can enhance your building experience.

  1. Follow the instruction manual very closely and pay special attention to the “General Notes” found in the first two pages. The information provided there is critical to successful project completion.
  2. Take your time.
  3. Building the structure itself is a fun and intuitive process. However, initially, the tolerance between the various connecting joints and support tubes is very tight. Attempting to assemble these parts without some sort of lubrication can be extremely difficult. Though they don’t specifically indicate using it for this process, Coaster Dynamix® offers a liquid silicone product called Coaster Lube which makes assembling the connecting joints and support tubes a far simpler proposition. Wetting down the support tubes with water before sliding on the connecting joints also works okay though not as well. If you do choose to use the Coaster Lube, be sure and wipe off any excess before proceeding further. The parts tolerance does loosen up with subsequent use.
  4. Attaching the rails to the 300 crossties is probably the most difficult, time consuming and critical process involved in assembling the Scorpion. Again, this is due in part to very tight initial tolerances and also becomes simpler with subsequent use. However, it is VERY important that you take your time and are careful in snapping the rails completely onto each of the crossties. Trying to rush this process will result in sore fingers and won’t allow the roller coaster train to run properly. Once you have completed this process recheck EVERY rail/crosstie connection.
  5. Of equal importance to properly attaching the rails to the crossties is making sure that there is NO gap between the rail sections. Even the smallest gap can interfere with smooth running of the roller coaster train. As you have finished installing one rail segment take the next segment and attach it to the next available crosstie allowing it to overhang the previous rail segment by 1/16 of an inch. DO NOT install the rail connecting pin at this time. Finish installing the new segment occasionally checking to make sure that you still have the 1/16” overhang. When complete, come back and, removing the overhanging rail from as many crossties as necessary, install the rail connecting pin. Reattach the rail to the crossties. This process should insure a tight rail connection with no gap.
  6. There will be several occasions where you will have to cut a rail segment to a specific size. Again, be sure and cut it at least 1/16” longer than you feel you will need. Take a small file, such as our Blue Cushion Board, and file the end so it is perfectly flat and smooth.
  7. If you plan on designing your own roller coaster creations, and you should, we highly recommend that, minimally, you have extra rail segments on hand. Extra rails, when available from Coaster Dynamix, are available on our site. Various, more inclusive Track Extension/Expansion Packs, again, when available from Coaster Dynamix, are also available on our site.
  8. Once you have completed every step of the assembly, manually and VERY slowly push the train around the track making sure that it runs smoothly and EASILY clears all structural obstacles. Make adjustments to the structure if necessary. Again, take your time with this. The roller coaster train is a very precise and somewhat fragile assembly. Should it hit any obstacles at full speed it may come apart or may even be damaged. Disassembling the track to remove the train for repair is a process you want to avoid.

The tools you will need for this project are as follows:

         a. Small Philips Screwdriver
         b. Yardstick (Ruler or Tape Measure will also work.)
         c. Fine Tip Marker
         d. Modeling Knife
         e. Adhesive Tape
         f. Small File such as our Blue Cushion Board


Performance Test
image-cd-scorpiontest.jpg.jpgThough coming up with a test to evaluate and compare the overall performance of several model roller coaster construction sets, all of which employ vastly disparate engineering philosophies to achieve their own unique appeals, is too complex for our purposes, there is a simple and fun test which can be performed.

Real world steel roller coaster trains are extremely efficient and retain a very high percentage of the energy which they accumulate upon descent. Limited only by the height and slope of the lift hill, the degree of energy retention or “efficiency” is responsible for the incredible speed and breathtaking loops, twists and turns demanded by today’s roller coaster riding (and modeling) enthusiasts. All model roller coasters are also, to varying degrees, limited by the height of their lift hill. With this in mind, the “efficiency” of the model coaster trains will also contribute to the type, complexity, and length of the model coaster circuits which can be built.

Testing what we call the “inline efficiency” of the various coaster trains can provide some indication of just how well, and accurately, they do their job. To perform this simple test, we built (or you can build) a track with identical descending and ascending slopes. (See image above) By starting the train from a fixed point on the down slope and measuring how far it makes it toward the same point on the upslope we can determine how much energy is lost and, therefore, the inline efficiency of the train. In this case, the Scorpion achieved an impressive rating of 92%. This is a fun test and one which you can certainly perform at home or in the classroom.

This basic test measures only inline performance and there are many other factors which contribute to how well a model coaster train will perform. For example, the Coaster Dynamix® Scorpion train is the only one tested which has wheels on the sides of the rails, as well as above and below, which will certainly provide superior performance around curves. Our intent is simply to suggest a testing benchmark common to all manufacturers. (The layout in the picture above is not a fully functioning roller coaster and was built only to perform this test.)


Conclusion
The Scorpion and Dragon roller coaster modeling system is a well engineered flexible and incredibly accurate representation of real world looping steel roller coasters. Though custom designs are time intensive to build, they are highly entertaining to assemble and operate and offer a world of creative possibilities for budding roller coaster designers and modelers everywhere. For absolute realism and performance, these are the premier model roller coaster products on the market today.

Due to some fairly small parts this terrific construction toy is rated by the manufacturer for kids five and above though smaller children would have difficulty with some aspects of assembly. Our age recommendation is higher as a result.

We are interested in hearing about building experiences with this model and would like to share your impressions with other visitors to our site.

*Categories are rated on a scale of from one to ten where applicable and reflect only the opinions and experiences of our staff. We provide these ratings only as a guideline to aid you in your product choices. Your building experience may vary.


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