By Bill Luca

The Cars
The ride track and vehicle system was furnished through Bill Tracy's association with Messmore and Damon display company of New York. The cars were manufactured in California. Both Haunted House and the Ghost Ship, which was acquired at the closing of Ocean Playland Park, employed these cars, known as the "Hush Puppy package dark ride system". The Ghost Ship cars were one-piece fibreglass bodies on steel frames, with applied ornamentation. For Haunted House, special wooden car bodies carved to resemble coffins were supplied. To add the Ghost Ship cars to this fleet, the park staff removed the fiberglass bodies and constructed wooden coffins to match the other cars. “You can’t tell the difference between the old coffins and new ones,” boasts park employee Cliff Hudson, who worked at the Haunted House from 1965 to 2000. His son Scott now manages the ride, carrying on the tradition.
The cars travel on dual 3/4" square steel bar stock track, guided by solid nylon wheels. The trolley assembly is gimballed with a universal joint allowing an articulated movement with as much as a 6 inch side tilt.
The track supplies 24 volts AC to the cars, transformed at seven circuit zones throughout the ride. Current is then stepped up to 110 volts by individual transformers within each car, and fed to the 1 hp motors.

Above: Hush Puppy car body as shown in Tracy's Amusement Display Associates catalog. These were used in the Ghost Ship. Tracy also supplied a similar Ghost Ship ride to Kennywood Park in PA, which was lost in a fire in 1975

Trolley assembly and track, from ADA catalog.
The cars are fitted with pneumatic tires which enable them to ascend to the second story without the use of a lift chain, and employ clutch bearings which function as anti-rollbacks. The slow speed allows riders to get a good look at Tracy’s magnificent work; from the stunts, set pieces to wall illustrations. As Mr. Trimper points out, there are several banisters in the ride designed to give riders the illusion of ascending or descending staircases. Tracy, he said, would paint the railings, and sometimes the walls with day-glo paint, just to enhance this illusion.
While dark rides are often considered low-capacity, The Haunted House can run as many as 10 cars at a time inside the building. The cars need only be separated by 10 seconds, and there’s an elaborate tracking device at the loading area. This is a right-to-left ride with the cars exiting just to the right of the entrance door. Prior to 1988, they exited to the far right, but in the redesign, Mr. Trimper moved the exit closer to allow for a winding descent inside the ride and to accommodate more cars in the queue.

Above: views of Haunted House coffin car undercarriage showing frame, pneumatic tires, trackwheel assembly, transformer, junction box and fuse, motor and Dodge transmission.

Trackwheel assembly being serviced in workshop.
Two bronze spring-loaded brushes located at left contact the track and conduct current to transformer. Nylon load-bearing wheels ride atop track while white guide wheels follow the contour. An arm extends outward from the side bearing a horseshoe magnet which closes the contact of reed switches located on the floor to activate stunts.


  View of track with magnetic reed switch located next to inner curve. Although this was the original method of stunt triggering in the Tracy system, these switches are currently being phased out and replaced with light sensor activators.