Playland’s beloved wooden roller-coaster turns 50 today, and to mark the milestone, the Pacific National Exhibition is offering free rides this morning.
Mayor Sam Sullivan will be on hand with PNE president and CEO Michael McDaniel to designate the coaster as a “site of special significance to the city.”
Shawn Joinson, who supervises the maintenance of the ride, said the coaster might be modest in design and scale, but people love it. It’s even an American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) Coaster Classic.
“It’s unique in the fact that … it loops around three times in an oval. There’s no switchbacks, no fancy loops, the drop isn’t spectacular, but there’s definitely a lot of movement.”
Joinson said wooden roller-coasters require more maintenance than steel coasters, especially in rainy Vancouver.
“Wooden (coasters) bend and move,” he said, adding that the wood, which is Douglas fir, is dipped in a treating chemical to preserve it.
He also said the chemicals used to keep the track from rusting degrade the wood, so some of it has been replaced over the years.
“We find that the wood from 50 years ago is a lot stronger than the wood we get now,” Joinson said. “If we don’t have to replace it we don’t.”