Wheel assembly

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Coaster trains use wheels in various configurations to allow them to roll along the track.

Modern steel roller coaster wheels have a metal core and are typically coated with polyurethane. There are various different materials available with different strengths, such as high durability or low friction.[1]



The simplest configuration, used on early roller coasters including Scenic Railway and Switchback Railway rides, is railway track with flanged wheels. These coasters could only have relatively gentle dips and turns. Many used a brakeman who rode with the train and manually operated a brake lever which regulated its speed.[2]

Side Friction


Underfriction wheels were patented in 1919 by John A. Miller.[3] A third set of wheels were added beneath the track, as well as the wheels located to either side (guide wheels) and above it (load wheels). These are known as underfriction wheels or up-stop wheels.

Most modern roller coasters have three wheels or sets of wheels in each wheel assembly: load wheels above the rails, guide wheels to one side and up-stop or underfriction wheels beneath the rails. Some steel roller coasters have two wheels per wheel assembly. An example is the Pinfari Zyklon range, which has wheels with flanges above the rail and smaller wheels at an angle beneath it.


  1. Products - Uremet Corporation
  2. Rutherford, Scott (2000). The American Roller Coaster. p. 64.
  3. Patent US 1319888 A
Roller coaster descriptions