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Wooden Supports 101


Strata Poster
Explaining how to construct wooden supports is a very time consuming and drawn out process, so in order for me to better help you create them, you will have to bear with me. I do not have the ability to devote all of my undivided attention to this topic, due to other commitments already in place (like work, and life, per say?). Fear not, for I will eventually complete this topic, but for right now, I can only add little bits at a time. It's not just a matter of "Do this and this and you're done." no, it's much more drawn out than that. With that being said...

Hello everyone, and welcome to Wooden Supports 101!


This topic is intended to help you garner a skill set to enable you to create realistic wooden structures, based upon what a manufacturer would do. Now, this will be quite a lengthy topic when completed, and because of that, it may take quite a while to complete in its entirety, but rest assured, by the end you will be fully equipped to support even the most challenging of rides.

This topic was created to teach you the ropes of supporting coasters, not building them. Building a wooden coaster would take an entirely different topic, and even then, there's just too many variables to explain how you would build one. How you build your wooden coaster is entirely up to you, however I do suggest that if you are going to take the time to do a proper support job, that you at least try to get the ride to flow as a wooden ride would (and no, that does not mean pumps in every turn), meaning, take your time when creating the track, so when you run it through the simulator, that it feels like you are actually riding a wooden coaster.

Now, lets start of with the basic support profiles. There are multiple manufacturers out there, and each of them opt to use their own style of supports. Some use steel structures, some use the more traditional wooden structures, and yet even more opt to use a steel/wood hybrid structure. For the first part of this topic, I would like us to focus mainly on just building a traditional wooden structure. No steel supports, just plain wood.

Now, the manufacturers I am going to focus on are:

  • -Intamin
    -Great Coasters International (GCI)
    -Gravity Group (GG)
    -Custom Coasters International (CCI)
    -Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters (PTC)

Careful eyes would note that I have included all 5 types into the title image ;)

These are the most common of wooden rides out there. Yes, I know that there are other manufacturers out there, but for this topic we will focus on just what the 5 companies I have listed build, or have built (considering CCI is no more, and GG have taken it over). Now, since I am going to start with a traditional wooden structure, we will select the manufacturer PTC. PTC specializes in wooden structures, and a lot of coasters out there utilize PTC's 4 or 6 bench train types (even though the ride was designed and built by a different company).

Here is a key you can use, if you are confused on what I am talking about:

Ledger- These are the supports that are connected DIRECTLY to the rails of the track, and also that connect the rails to the support structure. These generally are always wood.

Large Beam- This is the Large Wooden Beam inside of the simulator, and usually these are used on the most stressful sections of the track, such as connecting the rails to the support structure, or on the outside of a bracing structure.

Small Beam- This is the Small Wooden Beam inside of the simulator, and these are often used on less stressful sections of track, such as the supports that interconnect each vertical structure to each other, or the diagonal bracing between supports. Also used for handrail supports.

Handrail- Flat Wooden Beam inside of the simulator. Really, these are only used for handrails, but the more talented individuals who want the ultimate realism may add them inbetween the rails onto the track ties so as to provide a walkway between each side of the track.​


Strata Poster

Now, since I am starting with a PTC, I figured that I should include a PTC example. PTC rides are all out there, and chances are, you have ridden one. Some might not know this, but Cedar Points own Blue Streak is a PTC.


Photo courtesy of RCDB.

Canobie Lake Parks Yankee Cannonball is also PTC.


Photo courtesy of RCDB.


Okay, so you have your PTC track all built and ready to support. What is the first thing I do, you might ask. Well, lets start off with a basic instruction.


Here we have a raw wooden coaster track, no supports, nothing.

At the top, go to the tab labeled as "Supports"


A bar should open that features all of the supporting options within the editor. Select "Auto Supports" down at the bottom.


Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + R to open the Auto Supports program.

A window should open up for Auto Supports. In the "Global" tab, select the options "Preview (Final quality)" under Build Mode, and "Simple - No Wide Structure" under the Build Style box. Leave everything else at the defaults.


Now click OK. The Auto Supports box will disappear and you should see supports pop up on your ride.


However, you will be unable to edit them, this is the Preview Mode for the wooden supports. They should be orange in color. This basically allows you to see if there are sections of track you might need to move closer to each other (if they are doubled up sections), or if a section didn't get supports for some reason.

If everything looks good, we can proceed onto actually adding the real supports.

Open up the Auto Supports box again, and click on "Generate Final "under Build Mode. Click OK. I feel that you should be perfectly capable of figuring out what to do from that, so no picture.

What pops up should be your ride with the real wooden supports.


See, that wasn't so hard, now was it? ;)

Now we shall continue on through to the fun bits and pieces. Most custom supporters tend to use Auto Supports to get themselves a base model, where they have something to work from. It does most of the hard work, such as placing ledgers and catwalks out onto the track- however, when you are done, there won't be a single beam you haven't touched (catwalks/handrails optional). Basically, I want you to go through your ride and have a look around. Doesn't look bad does it? Things that should pop out at you is stuff like this:


From my observations, AS removes any beams that would be in direct contact with tunnels, so anything outside of it, it won't even bother with. That is why the top tracks structure is still in place below the bottom tracks structure. When you find a section like this, I would like for you to remove all of the extra supports, so that everything is nice and square. The above transformed into this:


The above structure we will create a new structure for, and the below will remain in tact, for now. Basically, what is required is one individual structure for each ledger, all of which will be interconnected via cross supports.



CF Legend
17 posts in a row? Forever alone!!

Why don't you just write this all up in a word processor or something before posting. That way you can get all your information down with out all the flooding, correct all things easier, not have to worry about loosing work and get a final word count that'll let you split this up accordingly.

Mostly flooding and bumping.


Staff member
Social Media Team
Good work Xpress. Are you keeping this in a Word/Notepad document too, might make it a little easier if we decide to host it on the main site.