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OVERVIEW


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

  • The cars are called Hush-Puppy cars, because that is the ride system that was originally used. The term Hush-Puppy referred to the quiet and smooth operation of the ride system itself.


  • Cars travel at an average pace of 3’ per second.


  • Car bodies were developed by Bill Tracy of Outdoor Dimensional Display Co., Inc.


  • Cars originally had a 1/2 horsepower motor, but was replaced with 1 horsepower motor in the 1980s.


  • Cars operate on 110 volts, stepped up from 24 volts running through track.


  • Cars are built with 3/4” solid core mahogany with pine wood overlays and carvings.


  • Cars weigh 250 lbs without any riders.


  • Originally, cars ran with an average of 20’ spaced between each vessel. Now, cars run at intervals of 20 to 30 seconds.


  • The decorative ornaments on the car bodies were originally a crimson color, not the purple that they are today.


  • Starting in 2007, the cars have been restored three at a time during the winter. Restoration includes replacing wood, restaining, repainting, and new hinges on the car lids. By 2011, all eleven cars in the fleet will be overhauled.


  • The cars can potentially be maintenance nightmares, particularly because the cars were never designed to go up and down steep hills. The ride was originally one story, and the cars operated as they should back then. The new ride layout of 1988 called for the vessels to trek up enormous inclines and declines which puts incredible strain on the mechanisms.


  • A total of three cars can be stored in the first room when they are broken; two on the left, one on the right.


  • Granville used three of the cars from Ghost Ship and incorporated them into his current Haunted House ride by recreating the coffin-cars.


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

The cars are complete with power switches located on the backside of the vessels. These switches are only used in the event of a problem. IE: if cars are running too close to one another, if a car is stopped and other cars are pushing it, etc. At times, you may notice the ride operator running to flip this switch as the car enters the ride. This happens when he or she realizes they sent the car too soon not leaving the designated number of seconds in between each lobby departure. The switch is used mainly if cars are piling up in a certain point in the ride so the circuit does not trip. If the car is turned off, it is not using current, which means that the circuit will not be overloaded. Because of a car’s mass and heavy-duty motor, it is very difficult to stop this car by any means other than the power switch. If a worker were to ever trip and fall on the track, they would have a rough time escaping a moving car. It would most likely run them over causing severe personal injury.


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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