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Visitors will be in for a morbid surprise as they hand the ride operator their ticket and step into the hand-carved coffin car that will take them on a journey through a house filled with funny frights and silly scares.
The coffin vessels, which are original to Bill Tracy’s 1964 design, contain the “Hush-Puppy” ride system, which was a more common element in Tracy’s attractions in the 1960’s when his rides were first being erected. The Hush-Puppy has a tubular steel chassis, versatile wheel assembly, and operates on a 24V iron track that is transformed to 110V thanks to each car’s transformer. The term Hush-Puppy referred to the quiet operation of the ride system, and the cars commonly had a fiber-glass body. You can learn more about the Hush-Puppy ride system by exploreing Bill Tracy Ride Systems. The Haunted House required a more sinister design, so the wooden coffin design was developed and has worked well for nearly five decades.
The details of Tracy’s Haunted House cars are extraordinary. Each car is stamped with “Rest in Peace” on the back, and includes a hand-gauged lid and carvings of elegant purple décor to help reinforce the visitor’s feeling of prestigious gloom. Each car is primarily stained with a dark oak finish and top-coated with polyurethane to protect them from the harsh seaside weather elements, and the car bodies are bolted onto a steel-framed base which holds the entire unit together. The lid of the car, which is designed to open upon your entry, is attached to the front-end with two large barn-door hinges. Originally, large piano-style hinges were used in the design, but they were phased out in 2007 and replaced with more durable units. Also during the winter of 2007, three of the 11 cars were sent to a West Ocean City shop to be revamped. While at the shop, they were sanded, restained, repainted and repolyurethaned. Rotted wood was replaced, new rubber bumpers were added, and new hardware was installed.
COFFIN CAR QUICK FACTS
EXAMINE THE HUSH-PUPPY COFFIN CARS
Click thumbnail to enlarge
Each Haunted House car includes a Hush-Puppy wheel assembly on the underbody of the car that workers call “The Unit”. The Unit keeps the car inline with the track and conducts current to make the vessel move. In addition to this very important element, the transformer, dodge gear box, and motor can also be found on the car’s underbody. The motor is 1 HP, and is stepped up from an initial 24 volts (supplied by track) to 110 volts thanks to the transformer. Originally, the Unit included a magnetic horseshoe which was used to trip magnetic switches to activate Tracy’s stunts. In 2005, these magnets were removed and photo-electric sensors were installed as an alternative to activating the animated stunts. The schematics of the car’s underbody can be seen below:
HUSH-PUPPY COFFIN CAR SCHEMATICS
Click thumbnail to enlarge
A gearbox on the underbody of a Hush-Puppy car
Scott Hudson, Haunted House manager, hard at work repairing a broken Unit
Above: wheel assembly and magnetic switch. Photo taken in 1999
Above: Two broken cars can be seen in the first room near the Skull Banister.
A total of three cars can be kept in the first room in time of repair.
Picture taken in 2000.
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