Borg Assimilator seat position lock fails in test run

Posted Monday, March 19, 2007 5:38 PM | Contributed by Travio

Employees were riding Borg Assimilator at Carowinds on its 51st test run of the season Saturday when the mechanism that keeps the seat in position disengaged, said park spokesman Scott Anderson. The ride had already passed a state inspection this year.

Read more from The Charlotte Observer.

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Monday, March 19, 2007 6:14 PM
Very scary incident indeed. Luckily no one was seriously injured, from what I understand.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 6:33 PM
Makes me wonder why the train stopped in the loop...

Did it just valley, or is there some sort of breaking mechanism built into the train? I would guess the former, but I'm not sure.

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Monday, March 19, 2007 6:39 PM
It stopped because, "That failure triggered a safety precaution built into the ride: The car the employees were riding in stopped at the base of the vertical loop." Now, what that feature is, is beyond me.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 7:17 PM
IIRC, those Vekoma flyers have a quadrillion safety checking components built into the trains, so I'm sure the train knew right away that something was wrong. What the procedure is after that I have no idea.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 7:18 PM
From what it sounds like, it seems that when the seats are in the load position there is some sort of on-board braking mechanism that engages. The article isn't very descriptive as to what exactly happened. It would be interesting to know just when whatever holds the seats in place disengaged. Just from the layout of the ride, it had to have been while the riders were on their stomachs since all parts of the ride beforehand are so.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 7:24 PM
Craig, everyone's already familiar with the "breaking" mechanism on the Flying Dutchman, as they're always breaking-down! :)(sorry, just giving you a hard time for using the wrong spelling of the word "brake." It's very common).

In all seriousness, I used a tool to try to figure this out called No Limits 1.6. Vekoma actually licensed the trains for use in 1.6 and they're highly detailed. Go to the Flying Dutchman (modeled after Batwing) track and go to the back of the train (or any row) and zoom-in on the cylinder that sits between the two electrical panels.

There is a small rectangular-shaped part that sticks out. While waiting for a Batwing train that never worked again that night, I watched a maintenance man try to revive it, so to speak. He plugged in a cable into the multi-pin connector in that retangular-shaped part from an external box, and never did get the train to recline again. This has got to be the connector that would've signaled that the seats had come up.

Here's where things get tricky. No Limits is usually incredibly accurate. In fact, the trains recline on the lift and come back up at the end of ride (as they should in real life). I hit the e-stop button after coming off the lift and...it never stopped until it got to the brakes. Granted, this may have been a feature that was never added, but I'm as stumped as everyone else as to what would've stopped the train except for wind resistance.

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Monday, March 19, 2007 9:49 PM
The safety mechanism would have to be a purely mechanical backup as there is no power to the trains beyond the lift. In fact I believe they cut that out and only have power in the station area.
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Monday, March 19, 2007 10:23 PM
So all of those onboard computers have to reboot every cycle. That's gotta be hard on them.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 8:41 AM
Well it's not like they cycle more than once every 10 minutes. ;)
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 11:03 AM
From what I thought and saw in early videos of Stealth, since this was the first flying model, they didn't have computerized seats. I remember seeing what looked like to be blocks that pushed the seats up and retracted to let them down into the flying position. So maybe this was some sort of feature on the first model where if the seats were in the up position, the train wouldn't move..i.e. had some sort of brake on the actual train.

As for the newer models (Batwing and the now Firehawk), they are the ones with the computerized seats. And I do believe that there is power going to the train while its running its course, because the green lights on the boxes behind the seats are always on when the train is running its course. This could be a battery or generated from the wheels.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 11:23 AM
Are people really trying to use No Limits as a model for real life? Really? That seriously just blows my mind.

-Nate

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 11:43 AM
Of course this would be all speculation, but, maybe there is a device on the train that works along the same concept as an elevator (but without the elevator layout/hardware). If the seats are 'raised', then a brake activates, when they lower, the brake disengages.

Sounds like a logical theory, but, don't these trains lower as they go up the lift? If so, shoot my theory out the window...unless it's done electronically.

The good thing is that no one was seriously hurt.

What a crappy way to start out the new season.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 11:52 AM
There is no braking system onboard the trains. I would venture to guess that the seats coming up during the ride would simply throw off the physics of the ride, the center of gravity for the train etc.- enough to valley it.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 2:34 PM
At least they didn't stop upsidedown facing backwards.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 2:34 PM
At least they didn't stop someplace hanging upsidedown facing backwards.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 3:20 PM
I wonder what (if any) effect this will have on the installation at Kings Island. I realize, of course, that there are probably train differences, but CF tends to be conservative when a problem is uncovered in one location until the entire scope is known.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 4:12 PM
Hey Nate, but, it may blow your mind, but it's an officially-licensed Vekoma model (along with the Motorbike) and therefore, it's highly detailed. The only reason I used it is as an illustration is because I couldn't find a single picture of the back of the trains. I also don't remember which videotape I have the Batwing feature on.

YouTube was useless as well. The only video I could find someone took from the back of the train.

There's even a Wikipedia entry for X-Flight with schematics and part numbers for the train--and unfortunately it's only from the side, and there's no legend for what the part numbers mean.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 4:42 PM
I worked X-Flight for a year and being the nosey-mechanical nerd I am, always scanned those trains for all and every detail.

I can say that there is no typing of braking that relates to the reclining of the train. Nothing at all. Just a normal chassis and system to hold the wheels, nothing more. The rest of the train however, there is stuff everywhere, haha.

I go with the theory of wind resistance or something breaking off to halt the train, it rolled back one way or another.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007 4:54 PM
Yes, it blows my mind. "Officially licensed Vekoma model"? What does that even mean? As if every single functioning part on the real Vekoma train was included in the program. As if the program functions exactly as a train would in real life. As if a $20 computer game could actually acurately predict the behavior of a real-life, multi-million dollar machine.

Yep, it blows my mind that anyone would actually use that as evidence for a theory. Seriously, that has got to be one of the most unintentionally laughable things I've ever read around here.

-Nate

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