Firm has completed a major refurbishment project as part of the historic ride’s ongoing maintenance programme.

Martin & Vleminckx, a leader in the design, manufacture, fabrication, and installation of thrilling attractions, has shared details of a restoration project which it undertook on the wooden roller coaster at Playland at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver, Canada.

This much-loved classic ride, affectionately known as “The Coaster”, was designed by the acclaimed engineer Carl Phare. Now 65 years old, the Coaster needs regular maintenance as well as a programme of major refurbishment projects to preserve the ride and ensure it can be enjoyed for many more years.

Martin & Vleminckx embarked on the largest repair project in the coaster’s history in 2022 and 2023, replacing hundreds of structural elements, 120 feet of track, and re-profiling the braking run.

The collaboration between the PNE and Martin & Vleminckx has revived the historic roller coaster, allowing future generations to experience the excitement and nostalgia of a bygone age.


Contemporary engineering & classic design

Although wooden roller coasters, such as Playland’s Coaster, are incredible feats of engineering and craftsmanship, their lifespan and safety depend on constant upkeep with annual wood replacement work.

This “living” coaster is almost completely constructed of wood, and so factors like the weather in Vancouver and wear and tear from millions of riders mean that more extensive restorations are also necessary. To keep this renowned ride operating safely, the PNE had devised a multi-year restoration program, with a significant portion of the work taking place during one 18-month period.

Martin & Vleminckx is a highly regarded roller coaster manufacturer and provides services including installation, relocation, and attraction maintenance. It is also known for its expertise in the restoration of wooden coasters, with a team skilled in preserving the structural integrity and beauty of classic rides.

The restoration project in 2023 included updating the braking system, replacing the brake skids, and re-profiling the brake run. Ensuring the proper operation of the brake run is crucial for the riders’ safety, and so the section was re-engineered for efficiency and reliability – ensuring a smooth, safe deceleration for riders. The restoration team used cutting-edge methods and materials to meet modern safety regulations while making sure that the new track was sympathetic to the original design.

As a result, the Coaster can run two trains again. Capacity is increased and waiting times are reduced.


Martin & Vleminckx wooden roller coaster construction


Shelley Frost, PNE president & CEO, comments: “We consider Martin & Vleminckx to be an important supplier, whose commitment to this project is evident in the work they completed on the coaster. We appreciated their dedication to safety and technical expertise with respect to the wooden coaster.”

The preservation and restoration of traditional wooden roller coasters are vital for preserving amusement park heritage. Martin & Vleminckx’s refurbishment of the Coaster shows how contemporary engineering and skilled craftsmanship can be used to honour the past while ensuring the safety and thrills of iconic amusement park attractions.

Martin & Vleminckx recently revealed its new branding and its new product portfolio at IAAPA Expo 2023 in Orlando. Its new products included the Unicoaster and Unicoaster 2.0, as well as the Skyspire and Polercoaster experiences.