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Thread: The Smiler @ Alton Towers

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  1. #1

    The Smiler @ Alton Towers

    I'm starting this thread based on after today's tragic incident. This is the roller coaster's seventh incident with the last two having multiple injured passengers. It's too early to say now but I have a feeling its fate is an unfortunate one.

    My question is, why does it continue to malfunction so much? I've seen the basic details and heard ideas on how to fix the ride, but nothing being done. I really hope they don't have to shut down this ride but at this rate, it'll be inevitable.

    I heard something about changing its bolt to fix the ride and other ideas. What exactly would be a definitive fix for the ride?

  2. #2
    Super Member magicart87's Avatar
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    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-32980354

    Per the article:

    History of problems
    A group of 16 journalists were left dangling on it at a steep angle as they tried out the rollercoaster before it opened to the public.
    The ride shut for four days in July 2013 after a piece fell off the track, and 48 people had to be rescued.
    It closed again in August 2013 for five days due to a "technical issue".
    In November 2013 it closed for five days after wheels fell off and hit four people in the front carriage. The injured people were looked after by park staff and did not need treatment by the ambulance service, a spokeswoman said at the time.
    Riders were also left stranded in the air when the ride ground to a halt at the top of a near vertical section 14 months ago.


    Hmm? I'd say it's time to dismantle.
    Last edited by magicart87; 06-02-2015 at 04:34 PM.

  3. #3
    Passive Peep freez99313's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magicart87 View Post
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-32980354

    Per the article:

    History of problems
    A group of 16 journalists were left dangling on it at a steep angle as they tried out the rollercoaster before it opened to the public.
    The ride shut for four days in July 2013 after a piece fell off the track, and 48 people had to be rescued.
    It closed again in August 2013 for five days due to a "technical issue".
    In November 2013 it closed for five days after wheels fell off and hit four people in the front carriage. The injured people were looked after by park staff and did not need treatment by the ambulance service, a spokeswoman said at the time.
    Riders were also left stranded in the air when the ride ground to a halt at the top of a near vertical section 14 months ago.


    Hmm? I'd say it's time to dismantle.
    You would have thought that after 3 major breakdowns that they would dismantle the coaster and be done with it. I mean seriously? A part of the track fell off, I guess they don't have very good safety measures... I thought I heard one of the females in the front lost her right leg! Not only that, I am not sure what coaster, but the harnesses were coming undone at the buckle and they could then move around... I mean wow... They could prevent many injuries, but I guess that's not important... lol Hopefully the survivors are ok...

  4. #4
    Ireeb
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    Quote Originally Posted by freez99313 View Post
    You would have thought that after 3 major breakdowns that they would dismantle the coaster and be done with it. I mean seriously? A part of the track fell off, I guess they don't have very good safety measures... I thought I heard one of the females in the front lost her right leg! Not only that, I am not sure what coaster, but the harnesses were coming undone at the buckle and they could then move around... I mean wow... They could prevent many injuries, but I guess that's not important... lol Hopefully the survivors are ok...
    I can only explain these problems with parts falling of the cars and stuff with bad maintenance. I know this rollercoaster manufacturer, Gerstlauer, I never heard about problems with their rides here in Germany.
    I also don't think the crash is connected to the previous incidents. I have the feeling that the people who maintained and operated it just were not well educated about it.
    In the crash two people from the front row had their legs amputated, otherwise they are okay. Luckily no one died in the crash.

  5. #5
    Passive Peep CreamyBeef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ireeb View Post
    I can only explain these problems with parts falling of the cars and stuff with bad maintenance. I know this rollercoaster manufacturer, Gerstlauer, I never heard about problems with their rides here in Germany.
    I also don't think the crash is connected to the previous incidents. I have the feeling that the people who maintained and operated it just were not well educated about it.
    In the crash two people from the front row had their legs amputated, otherwise they are okay. Luckily no one died in the crash.
    It's not. Alton maintenence is very good. Gerstlauer usually build smaller, Eurofighter and family coasters. A huge behemoth of twisted steel and 14 inversions is not something that should have been given to them. It would have worked with an Intamin I think, B&M most likely not. But I don't think they were the right manufacturer. Also, there are remote brakes on a few coasters, I think Corkscrew had them when it was still operating, that the Ride op can stop it even if it is not on a block or lift hill. The Smiler could use them I think. But, as I said, it will most likely turn out to be a fault on Gerstlauer's and Alton's part, a Ride Op can't put two cars onto the same block, and lift hills don't randomly restart if the coaster is being held at a block.

    But it is hugely lucky that no one was killed. Leah Washington almost died 3 times due to blood loss, and if it were a colder day she wouldn't have survived. Scary stuff.

  6. #6
    Ireeb
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    Quote Originally Posted by CreamyBeef View Post
    It's not. Alton maintenence is very good. Gerstlauer usually build smaller, Eurofighter and family coasters. A huge behemoth of twisted steel and 14 inversions is not something that should have been given to them. It would have worked with an Intamin I think, B&M most likely not. But I don't think they were the right manufacturer. Also, there are remote brakes on a few coasters, I think Corkscrew had them when it was still operating, that the Ride op can stop it even if it is not on a block or lift hill. The Smiler could use them I think. But, as I said, it will most likely turn out to be a fault on Gerstlauer's and Alton's part, a Ride Op can't put two cars onto the same block, and lift hills don't randomly restart if the coaster is being held at a block.

    But it is hugely lucky that no one was killed. Leah Washington almost died 3 times due to blood loss, and if it were a colder day she wouldn't have survived. Scary stuff.
    Well, Gerstlauer didn't build that big rollercoasters before (even though I think they built some pretty big Eurofighters as well) but also Intamin didn't just appear with experience for such coasters, they also had to face a challenge like that for the first time at some point. Also, Gerstlauer built more Infinity Coasters, like the 4 Inversion Launched Karacho, the 73 meter high Schwur des Kärnan and the 3 Inversion Launched Junker, and I didn't hear about any problems with them.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by CreamyBeef View Post
    It's not. Alton maintenence is very good. Gerstlauer usually build smaller, Eurofighter and family coasters. A huge behemoth of twisted steel and 14 inversions is not something that should have been given to them. It would have worked with an Intamin I think, B&M most likely not. But I don't think they were the right manufacturer. Also, there are remote brakes on a few coasters, I think Corkscrew had them when it was still operating, that the Ride op can stop it even if it is not on a block or lift hill. The Smiler could use them I think. But, as I said, it will most likely turn out to be a fault on Gerstlauer's and Alton's part, a Ride Op can't put two cars onto the same block, and lift hills don't randomly restart if the coaster is being held at a block.

    But it is hugely lucky that no one was killed. Leah Washington almost died 3 times due to blood loss, and if it were a colder day she wouldn't have survived. Scary stuff.
    Gerstlauer have build some pretty massive coasters in the past, what separates them out from Intamin though is their ability to create very compact coasters with inversions. The entire coaster's length (length from one side to the other, not tack length) is smaller than Oblivion; that's a very small amount of space to fit a lot of track. Despite the fact that Intamin have built the tallest rides in the world, they are not in a position to make a huge leap in a unfamiliar direction. Gerstlauer however not only had the experience, they also had the new type of multi-car train designed for tight inversions. The second reason why Merlin picked Gerstlauer was the simple fact that they had already worked with them on Saw.

    I'm not sure about remote breaks though, especially for the corkscrew since it was built 1980. A remote breaking system would require on board power, which would be a nightmare technically, and probably impossible. The trains aren't light, so stopping something with that much energy without damaging the track, train or passengers is most likely impossible with anything built onto the train. You could be thinking of trim breaks that are not only used on The Smiler, but also incapable of stopping the train.

  8. #8
    I was shocked to hear this, mainly because the ride has been running for about a year now with the same number of breakdowns as other coasters. But will they shut it down after this incident? No. When you've invested £18 million in a new ride, you can't just shut it down after the first few seasons, even if it suffers a major accident. What will happen is the ride will go under maintenance for two or three months, everyone will avoid it for another few months once it's open again, and the majority of the public will be riding again in no time. The Big Dipper at Blackpool has had many serious accidents, yet it remains running despite the obvious cost.

    As for what caused the accident, I have a fair idea. The first train stalled after an inversion; right before the inversion was a set of trim brakes. The first train stalling was most likely caused by the trims being left up for too long. The reason why the second train was allowed to continue over the lift hill is still up for debate. The second train should have stayed at the bottom of the lift hill until the first had reached the second lift. This leads me to believe this accident was caused by the ride's computer which is actually an issue a lot more troubling than a once of mechanical failure. Many rides from gerstlauer could be using the same control system, meaning there's a real possibility that other rides could run the risk or running two trains within the same block segment.

    To give The Smiler credit, it's done well since the end of the 2013 season. All coasters break down, it just seems that Gerstlauer's rides have a habit of doing it a lot more than others. Remember when Saw opened? The ride spent most of the first few months with someone, somewhere on the ride with a spanner and a multimeter. I think the press has latched onto this idea that The Smiler was the coaster of doom; so if you understand the industry and understand the engineering side of roller coasters, it's best to just ignore the press and only use them for minor updates.
    Should they dismantle the ride? No, this at the moment appears to be an issue with the ride's computer.
    Should they overhaul all the ride's safety features and improve them? Yes.
    Last edited by Cigfu; 06-02-2015 at 05:02 PM.

  9. #9
    I have ridden The Smiller quite a lot of times, having used to have a merlin annual pass. I remember being there for the opening day too on one of the first trains.

    I really, really did like the ride to say the least.

    I cannot express truly how disappointed and sad I am. I'm sure many of us are thinking "what if this happened to you when you rode?"

    As a person who relies on my wheelchair a lot, who was used to being active (I loved to run competitively), I know what it feels like to have your life changed physically. (Mine is by an illness) The difference being, I know there's still a chance of me getting well again and not having to rely on my wheelchair.

    Just think of them people with these serious injuries how that must have felt to have their legs rammed into that car. I'm sure they're very happy that they still have their lives.

    The Smiler, the great ride it has been at times, has had it's major problems. Like Cigfu pointed out, Gerstlauer's rides do seem to have a habit of tripping up. I assume Gerstlauer was very sad to hear the news.

    I do not think that many people will be put off from riding in say, 5 months time. I'm sure all this will blow over eventually.

    This reminds me of when a young girl died on Hydro in Oakwood Themepark in Pembrokeshire. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...ake-risks.html)

    This really set Oakwood back, having been fined £250,000 from this incident. They are gradually recovering from it though. However, unlike Oakwood, Merlin have the money.

  10. #10
    Based off of this article: They are contemplating it.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...he-Smiler.html

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