I learned more about the technology of coaster modeling—including why more people don't model coasters (the gravity/scale dilemma, the lack of appropriate wheel and rail types in model scales, etc.)—than I ever thought I would, and I had a nice time (most of the time!) doing it.
Even if it has turned out that a slight accumulation of dust on the track is enough to preclude cars from reaching the bottom of the hoist area (they stop about 2' from the bottom of the coaster track unless the track is fresh-cleaned), and even though cars themselves are so fussy that two identically built ones have very different running characteristics, the coaster—with the best of the six cars—reliably works well.
The hoist hoists, the car comes down the coaster track dipping the dips and mounting the hills, and at the bottom the motor-operated hoist will hook the car and take it up for another ride. This is most of what I set out to do in the first place. Looking back at the successes and disappointments, the surprises and the unforgiving laws of the universe, and the thrill of seeing the chain hoist work with the very first car I tried on it, I can say that, without a doubt, this whole adventure has surely been a real roller coaster ride!