California's Great America says broken lift chain cause for Invertigo problem

Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:39 AM | Contributed by Jeff

On Aug. 10, California's Great America revealed one of Invertigo's two lift chains broke apart. The train was stuck in its tracks, stranding the coaster with riders dangling 40 to 80 feet in the air. Firefighters used a ladder truck with a bucket to unload 24 riders, one by one, who sweltered for up to four hours in 95-degree heat.

Read more from The Mercury News.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 6:04 PM

I'd still like to know how a broken lift chain prevents them from cutting the train loose from the broken lift and dropping it into the station brakes. There are no anti-rollbacks on an Invertigo; they should have been able to release the catch car.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 6:10 PM

Could the lift chain broke in a way that jammed into the train? This is the only thing I could think of that would cause the train to stay stuck.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:03 PM

If the chain is somehow jammed up in the channel, and the dog is stuck in it, I could see it. I'm trying to visualize it in my head, as I can only think of the one at Kings Island (where you can stand under it near the dog kennel), but I thought there was a some kind of catchy thing that grabbed the train and pulled it up. Am I think of the second lift?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 10:42 PM

I was under the impression that both lifts had a "catch car" mechanism that reeled the train to the top before releasing them. Also, in all honesty what's the point of anti-rollbacks on the station side? If something goes wrong, couldn't they just let it go and let the train valley?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 10:49 PM

There aren't any anti-rollbacks. But if there is a chain (which I'm still not convinced of), it would need some kind of chain dog.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 11:29 PM

I'm pretty sure those rides don't use chains, the lift mechanisms are cables if I recall correctly.

EDIT: Just went looking for a picture, and this one definitely would make it seem like there is no chain.

Last edited by maXairMike, Wednesday, August 19, 2009 11:31 PM
Thursday, August 20, 2009 7:56 PM

Both sides have catch cars on the chain,I recall watching two face plenty of times from the midway & seeing the catch car on lift one being moved into position to catch the train on it's beackward run.

Friday, August 21, 2009 2:12 AM

There are indeed chains in there, but the chains are totally enclosed within the lift structure, kind of like the doubled chains used on some of the Schwarzkopf coasters (think Doppel Looping). Attached to the chain is a catch-car that grips the brake fin on the top of one of the cars. Someone who is a lot more familiar with the lift system than I am has indicated that there is also a claw mechanism at the top of lift #1. The train gets pulled to the top of lift #1 and engages with the claw, the catch car disengages, then the claw lets go.

What I have noticed on the one at Kings Island is that there is a pair of rectangular rods that run inboard of the rails and apparently control the grip on the catch car. Those rods run all the way to the top of the lift. I indicated in discussion that even with the limited knowledge I have of the ride, I think I could probably haul a BFH to the top of the lift and find something to break that would release the train. The expert replied that it really should only take a couple of screwdrivers.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Friday, August 21, 2009 5:05 PM

This is the exact same thing that happened at SFA on Two Face in 2006. When the chain snapped the way the lift motor is in the station it can cause the whole system to jam up, especially if the e-stop was depressed. At SFA they had to drag the train back into the station. Releasing the catch car is a lot more complicated than just a couple of screw drivers. You have to release the tension that the springs apply to the catch car to release it, on the lift there are to paddles that close on the sides of the catch car to release it. Manually involves using 4 bolts 2 per side to manually release the lock mechanism.

What I'm guessing happened is the train caught on lift 1 and the chain snapped, when it happened the operators heard a loud noise or th train not acting correctly and e-stopped. Once the power to the ride was cut the lift motor shut down and the chain jammed the system up. They couldn't get it to restart so they had to evacuate it.


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