Alton Towers closes Smiler after guide wheels strike people on the ride

Posted Monday, November 4, 2013 9:00 AM | Contributed by Raven-Phile

A new £18m roller coaster at Alton Towers has closed after wheels fell off and hit four people in the front carriage. A spokeswoman said some "small guide wheels" came off The Smiler as it was being pulled up an incline.

Read more from The BBC.

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Monday, November 4, 2013 9:35 AM

Boy, this thing's becoming somewhat of a lemon, ain't it?

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Monday, November 4, 2013 10:07 AM

It sounds like the wheel covering, not the wheel came off. I know those can in theory fail catastrophically and suddenly if they're some flavor of polyurethane, but I would think daily inspection would prevent that. They don't get the wear that road wheels do.

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Monday, November 4, 2013 11:18 AM

How has nobody died yet?! I mean I can't wait to visit the UK and alton towers one day to ride The Smiler (I think the theme is really awesome) but there has been one too many incidents hahaha

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Monday, November 4, 2013 12:23 PM

Yeah, that's hilarious. :/

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Monday, November 4, 2013 12:48 PM

It is not just like these incidents are little things...this coaster is having bolts shearing off and wheels flying off and gaps in the tracks. Plus I read somewhere that the reason the track originally separated was because the pieces didn't fit together correctly so they bent the steel and crammed it into the space to MAKE it fit. I don't wanna be a drama queen, but this coaster seems ripe for catastrophic events in the foreseeable future.

On a related note, I am not an engineering expert, so I have a question: if indeed the track was bent to fit into a place it shouldn't, could that place undue stress on the trains and their wheels from handling an angle or inversion or simple turn that wasn't correctly done in the first place? It seems logical to me that it COULD...?

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Monday, November 4, 2013 3:14 PM

I doubt that there's anything about the engineering that is inadequate. Assembly and inspection, perhaps.

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Monday, November 4, 2013 4:31 PM

It is actually kind of scary to see these things happening to this ride. What really stands out to me, though, is that this particular manufacturer doesn't have a reputation for problems like this. That leads me to fall more in line with Jeff's statement.

Did they use someone different for the installation of this ride? Did their maintenance budget recently take a hit? Is this ride really just that extreme that it requires a different kind of maintenance? I'm not really sure. I don't think it's unsafe, but something's definitely got to change.

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Monday, November 4, 2013 7:46 PM

I doubt ths ride is too extreme. It's basically 2 eurofighters put together.

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Monday, November 4, 2013 11:13 PM

Well, "put together" is debatable. ;)

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Monday, November 4, 2013 11:43 PM

Jeff said:

I doubt that there's anything about the engineering that is inadequate.

What makes you say that?

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013 4:09 AM

Tekwardo said:
I doubt ths ride is too extreme. It's basically 2 eurofighters put together.

Yeah, and kinda crappy ones, at that.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013 4:32 PM

I assume if there was a gap in the track, it was somewhere on the brake run/station leg. I remember when Goliath (MM)'s last track section ended up being a couple inches short, it was on the brake run.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013 6:41 PM

It wasn't on the brake run...

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013 1:58 PM

RCMAC said:

Tekwardo said:
I doubt ths ride is too extreme. It's basically 2 eurofighters put together.

Yeah, and kinda crappy ones, at that.

Did you not enjoy it? I thought it was awesome. Great great ride - just lots (and lots) of issues with it, unfortunately.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013 4:23 PM

Ah. I didn't realize the gap was from a failure and not from poor design/manufacture.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013 5:42 PM

If there was enough torque on that bolt to pop it and expose a gap, may that not be from bad design/manufacture? I suppose poor installation is also a possibility.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013 5:44 PM

Just saw this on YouTube...it shows some parts caught on netting after accident.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013 6:54 PM

Look sir, droids!

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Thursday, November 7, 2013 1:30 PM

RCMAC said:

Yeah, and kinda crappy ones, at that.

I wasn't aware that they came any other way.

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