College - Author 1

College of Engineering

Department - Author 1

Materials Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Materials Engineering

College - Author 2

College of Engineering

Department - Author 2

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree - Author 2

BS in Mechanical Engineering

College - Author 3

College of Engineering

Department - Author 3

General Engineering Department

Degree - Author 3

BS in General Engineering

College - Author 4

College of Engineering

Department - Author 4

Electrical Engineering Department

Degree - Author 4

BS in Electrical Engineering



Primary Advisor

Jim Widmann, College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Department


Holmes Solutions has presented two projects that require similar solutions - ice removal from the Switchback and the Whoosh, with the Switchback’s cables currently being the primary focus. The Frost Fighters have been tasked to find a way to stop ice formation on the Switchback’s cables so that the ride can operate safely in cold climates and during the colder months of the year. To be an adequate solution, the chosen de-icing method must operate in temperatures from -10°C to 40°C and be on standby in temperatures from -40°C to 60°C. In addition, it must prevent any falling debris that may harm people or cause damage to the environment underneath. Without a solution in place, ice on the cable reduces the coefficient of friction between the wheels of the trolley and the cable itself, which could prevent adequate braking prior to corners. Excessive ice and frost also have the potential to cause the cable to sag under the additional weight, which would create larger inclines in certain areas, thus creating a hazard for ride participants. Additionally, blocks of ice left frozen on the cable can pose the risk of derailment. With this in mind, the team has chosen to pursue a thermal approach to combat ice formation. While many thermal approaches were considered, the Frost Fighters decided to pursue a final solution that involves a heat cable being strapped to the underside of the ride’s main cable. The top of the heat cable is in direct contact with the underside of the main cable and insulation encapsulates all heat cable surfaces - the underside and sides - that would otherwise be exposed to the air. These components are bound together by attachments that are of adequate thickness for the Switchback’s wheels to pass over unhindered. This heat cable setup is connected directly to a wifi junction box which is supplied 240V by the electrical grid and protected by a 40A circuit breaker. The inclusion of a wifi junction box allows remote operation of the heated cable via an included phone app that can also be set on a regular schedule. With this setup in place, the Switchback will be able to safely operate in cold climates and during the colder months of the year. By staying operable year-round, Holmes Solutions’ Switchback profits will increase as the number of operable days will rise. In addition, Holmes Solutions will have an effective method to remove ice and prevent ice formation which may one day be utilized in Holmes’ other “Whoosh” project - which is essentially a larger scale Switchback - as well as other cable systems.