Excessive corrosion blamed for fatal accident on Fireball at Ohio State Fair

Posted Monday, August 7, 2017 9:20 AM | Contributed by Rick_UK

The "catastrophic failure" of a thrill ride that broke apart in July at the Ohio State Fair, killing one person and injuring seven others, stemmed from excessive corrosion in a support beam, its manufacturer said on Sunday. The corrosion in the Fireball ride, which hoists people in the air and spins them around, "dangerously reduced the beam's wall thickness over the years," Dutch manufacturer KMG International BV said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

Read more from Reuters.

Monday, August 7, 2017 9:25 AM

Could or should this have been discovered by the state inspection(s)?


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Monday, August 7, 2017 9:36 AM
Raven-Phile's avatar

Not if it was rusting from the inside-out, which is how it appears to have happened.

Should have been spotted in any of the previous NDT's, though - one would think.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Monday, August 7, 2017 9:40 AM
Jeff's avatar

I guess that assumes they look there. I have to say, from the photo of the close up of the support, that's a pretty shocking place for it to fail. I wonder... when it's being stored or transported, is that a spot where water could sit and collect?


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Monday, August 7, 2017 9:49 AM
Raven-Phile's avatar

That's true. From things I've read from people who know way more about this than I do, that's not a point that was listed as a trouble point for NDT purposes. It was mainly the hub where the sweeps connect to the main arm - there was an issue with that area in the past.

It's extremely difficult to find a good photo of this thing when it's broken down on the trailers, but you can kind of see where the seat disconnects, it's sitting out and rain can get down in there, but as far as sitting like that? Not really sure.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Monday, August 7, 2017 2:07 PM

Jeff said:

I wonder... when it's being stored or transported, is that a spot where water could sit and collect?

that was my first thought upon hearing the explanation from KMG. Is there an issue of the way it's racked and stored for the winter that would cause this?

or more likely, did some independent carny operator decide to store it in their own way. "Here toothless carny, just stack it there in the field over the winter until fair season starts again"

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017 7:12 AM

CreditWh0re said:

Jeff said:

I wonder... when it's being stored or transported, is that a spot where water could sit and collect?

that was my first thought upon hearing the explanation from KMG. Is there an issue of the way it's racked and stored for the winter that would cause this?

or more likely, did some independent carny operator decide to store it in their own way. "Here toothless carny, just stack it there in the field over the winter until fair season starts again"

I'm an engineer who has inspected a number of bridges and similar structures.

Based on my experience,water "sitting" on the beam in the off season shouldn't , in and of itself ,cause the type of corrosion that led to the failure.

First off,even in cold weather,water evaporates.

So unless the beam was submerged,it wouldn't have water there all the time.

Standing water will cause surface corrosion,but the most severe corrosion occurs when there is either a defect in the material or when it is subjected to a corrosive,like salt.

Further testing will determine any defects in the material.

If there is any corrosion,when you move the ride you should see rust colored water come out.

That's warning sign that you need to investigate.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017 11:00 AM

According to this article, inspectors do not check for internal corrosion. Inspectors check where manufacturer's guidelines tell them to check.

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/08/fireball_ride_corr..._know.html

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017 8:03 PM

KMG likes to weld everything shut on their structures, making it virtually impossible to inspect them visually. I believe that the ReMix ride that also tossed tubs at the Ohio State Fair back about fifteen years ago was one of their pieces, or they had something to do with it's rehab

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017 11:32 PM

rpbobcat said:

Standing water will cause surface corrosion,but the most severe corrosion occurs when there is either a defect in the material or when it is subjected to a corrosive,like salt.

I looked up a few videos on the transportation and setup of this ride and if you look close enough it looks as if this cavity is open while the ride is racked. Not sure how far down that arm you can see, but the end is clearly open. So my questions is, in your experience, could nearly two decades of travel that may include seaside events where the equipment may be subjected to limited ocean spray or transportation on roads treated with salt during winter months be enough to cause this degree of corrosion?

Here are two videos for reference though I am confident most have seen them.

Last edited by ldiesman, Wednesday, August 9, 2017 11:40 PM
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Thursday, August 10, 2017 6:46 AM

ldiesman said:

rpbobcat said:

Standing water will cause surface corrosion,but the most severe corrosion occurs when there is either a defect in the material or when it is subjected to a corrosive,like salt.

I looked up a few videos on the transportation and setup of this ride and if you look close enough it looks as if this cavity is open while the ride is racked. Not sure how far down that arm you can see, but the end is clearly open. So my questions is, in your experience, could nearly two decades of travel that may include seaside events where the equipment may be subjected to limited ocean spray or transportation on roads treated with salt during winter months be enough to cause this degree of corrosion?

Here are two videos for reference though I am confident most have seen them.

Without more information, including the type of steel that failed,a "travel log" for the ride and being able to inspect the failed beam,I really couldn't say.

There are just to many "unknowns".

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Friday, August 11, 2017 2:33 AM

Dutchman, KMG's involvement with the ReMix incident was that KMG supplied the seat assemblies for a ride built by Tivoli...basically an Orbiter with a shortened unit pole, then the KMG seat was attached by means of an adapter to the Tivoli ride. A round tube served as the end of the seat attachment; the adapter was a rectangular plate welded to a round tube which was then welded to the tube supporting the seat. It was this weld in the middle of the round tube that failed.

On the Afterburner/Fireball, it appears (based on diagrams of the Tivoli Spin-Out which has a similar gondola design to the Afterburner/Fireball) that the gondola hanger tube is about 9' long with a 45-degree elbow about 6' in. This tube has a bolted flange at the upper end that attaches to the end of the sweep on the ride, and is blind at the bottom. So if any water gets in through the hole at the top, it isn't coming out easily except through evaporation. When the ride is set up, the tube is effectively sealed; when racked the top of the tube (with the hole) is open to the elements.

One more element: This ride is very busy. Amusements of America travels the full length of the Eastern United States, then in the winter packs much of the show onto barges and plays a Central American tour. So there are some opportunities for their rides to spend time in an environment which may be unusually corrosive, at least during transport. The Fireball has a very long season, and is very much a workhorse on A of A's midway.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
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Friday, August 11, 2017 7:09 PM

What would be very interesting, and I'm sure this was looked at during the investigation, is the shape of the same areas on the other arms. I would suspect there might also be corrosion in there, though not necessarily to the same extent as the one that failed.

The other thing I find interesting, in watching the video, it looks like one of the gondolas is situated in such a way the the tube is open and facing forward. Assuming I'm looking at it correctly, that would invite rain inside as it is driving along. If the gondolas are always stacked in the same spots on the trailer (which I could argue either yes or no to), then I could see one gondola attachment being in much worse shape than the others.

All in all, it's a tragic event, but, I do think this is going to be one that the amusement industry is going to learn from.

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