Lightning Rod

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 9:40 AM

Oct 17, perfect 80 degree weather. Ride closed all day. Is this ride still not working consistently?

Last edited by super7*, Tuesday, October 18, 2016 9:44 AM
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 10:18 AM

The temps have to be 79 and below - or 81 and above.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 11:41 AM

At this point, wouldn't it be better to have a regular lift hill than a launch? I think customers would rather have an amazing ride that works all the time, than a gimmicky ride that doesn't.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 12:29 PM

My last two trips down to Dollywood were on the Friday of Labor Day weekend and September 30. I went to the ride first thing in the morning at 10 AM and was fortunate enough to get rides on both trips - 4 rides in total. The interesting thing is that after the first hour the ride was down for most of the rest of the day. Anyone trying to get a ride in would do well to try and ride it first thing in the morning and hope for the best.

I had a chance to talk to some higher ups at Dollywood and they'll all said that the issue is with the trains themselves and not with the launch. It's been one train operation both visits, and they've had at least one row blocked off on the train each time. There has been at least two maintenance personnel hanging out next to the exit, because the ride goes down so frequently it doesn't make sense for them to go elsewhere after it's "fixed". I was told that the ride ran OK for about a month after it re-opened in August, but all reports I've seen of its uptime since the end of August have been spotty at best.

The fact that they still don't have a good handle on the uptime problems worry me long-term. The ride is fantastic (except for the jolt at the bottom of the first hill), but very few rides that have operational problems like this in their first season go on to be reliable later. I wouldn't count on it getting any better until the start of next season. If it's still acting up, then you're likely going to see some major changes.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 1:21 PM

I wonder what the train issue is? Are the trains different that Outlaw run etc. because of the launch?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 5:16 PM

Yeah, ^ same question.
And dammit, I'm trying to get back to DW next week for a couple of days so I can finally get on this ride. Here I still sit with my Senior Gold Pass purchased expressly for potential trips all season. I spent three days in the spring there, and while it's always fun, I don't want to make the trip again if I can't get on.
My friend Judy went a couple of weeks ago and got on it the first day but it was down again for her second day. I'd be ok with that, but there's no guarantees.

I get technical issues, normally am patient with things like this, but I'm beginning to feel irritated. And if it's a problem with the train and not strictly the launch then I have to wonder why. With those trains operating well on so many other installations I just have to believe it's at least a combination of the two.
A while back someone (Jeff?) mentioned the natural lateral play found between train and its wooden track and with a precision launch involved that made sense to me at the time.
Ok, end of rant. Maybe our Gary Dowdell is right and I should set my sights on next season.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 7:52 PM
TheAcrophobicEnthusiast's avatar

Okay from someone who works on electric motors (although admittedly a different kind, never had experience with linear) I can tell you that the idea of wooden track plus a magnetic motor always concerned me. If the track moves and bends (and it should be expected to do so) with use then it will inevitably cause the male part of the mechanism to enter the female part in a state of misalignment. This will not just cause wear and tear but by my understanding of the tech it would probably cause the launch to operate outside of expected conditions. As the launch mechanism is mounted on the train I'd say RCMAC was probably right. It's a combination of both.

As for the people that STILL insist on saying that they should go ahead and put a chain on it.

*sigh*

It's not designed to creep over the hill at chain speed. Every lift hill and curve is designed with a certain speed range in mind. It has to be going as fast as it currently goes over the first hill in order to maintain the intended forces. If they suddenly switch to a chain, which is ludicrous, they would have to redesign the entire first two hills to maintain speed going into the wave turn.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 9:57 PM
rollergator's avatar

Might be able to procure a tire-launch from Universal....more than slightly used.

Inquire with the angry green man inside...


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 10:05 PM
LostKause's avatar

One design idea I have about adding a chin to the ride would be to take out the first small drop, and make the lift higher. That way the ride runs at the speed it is was intended to travel.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 10:13 PM

Might be able to procure a chin from me....more than slightly used, and I have several.

Inquire with the angry clown.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 10:41 PM
Tommytheduck's avatar

Might be able to procure male parts that enter multiple female parts from The Acrophobic Enthusiast.

Inquire with the man who looks like Smilin' Bob.

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Tuesday, October 18, 2016 10:42 PM
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:15 AM

And actually, Travis, your idea is a good one. And chain lifts and cable lifts can attain high(er) speeds nowadays as well. Not as fast or as thrilling as this launch up the side of the mountain (well, at this point what do I know about it anyway?) but it could be speedy.

Another far less satisfactory solution would be to change the track to Iron Horse I-beam. I have a feeling trains are clamped on to them better with far less shuffle, in true steel coaster fashion. As proof, just look at the top of that track. There are rivets on both edges and the load bearing wheel has a rather very narrow space to travel between them, so that might work and help tighten up the launch.
A drawback to that would be the expense, for sure, and no one would want to incur that. (I'm thinking it would be RMC's responsibility) Another would be re-imagined marketing. In Pigeon Forge (or twenty five miles away for that matter) you can't swing a cat without hitting a billboard proclaiming that the world's fastest wood coaster is just around the corner. A change to second or third or ninth fastest steel coaster would definitely take the wind out of Dollywood's sails.

And once again, all of this is conjecture as long as no one is truly hip to the real problem there. And regardless, I'm certain the park is none too happy. By all rights they should have had a successful full season under their belts by now.

Hey, here's a can of worms that's probably best saved for PointBuzz, but what if uncertainty at DW is what's leading CP to stay mum regarding MS? If major work on Lightning Rod is required, then maybe the Mean Streaks and the Hurlers of the world will have their conversions moved to RMC's back burner.

Last edited by RCMAC, Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:57 AM
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:29 AM
Tommytheduck's avatar

Your last paragraph could be on to something, but I'd say RMC should be able to honor their build commitments no matter what. That's just good business.

I would change your wording to read:

RCMAC said:

what if uncertainty at DW is what's leading CP to stay mum regarding MS? If major work on Lightning Rod is required, then maybe the Mean Streaks and the Hurlers of the world that might have been planned with launches are being re-designed back to traditional lifts?"

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Wednesday, October 19, 2016 1:15 AM
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:56 AM

Oh, yes. And truthfully I was feeling a little troll-ish there. The discussion at PointBuzz is enough to wear anybody out. But I apologize.

And as I was typing it occurred to me, of course, that in all cases there are contractual agreements that must be upheld. Unless all parties can come to a mutual agreement otherwise.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016 5:47 AM

I was just happy I got to ride it. We got lucky the first day to get on. From what I could tell it was running the whole day. Our second and third days it was down the whole time. They had signs on the door that stated it wasn't going to run.

Hopefully they can get it working correctly because it's an exceptional coaster experience. I'd recommend that triple down to any enthusiast.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016 7:42 AM

I was always surprised that the tracking on the lift launch was the same as the normal wooden track. I half expected it to be steel in order to fix any alignment issues, similar to how the Son of Beast's loop was steel, but probably not that heavy duty.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016 8:47 AM

Imo its the new restraints that rmc put on the trains as none of their other trains with the old ones are having problems with them. I've been there twice over the summer and it was down both times, since i live in new england its too far to keep going down there to take a chance it will be open.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2016 9:22 AM

RCMAC said:

Yeah, ^ same question.
And dammit, I'm trying to get back to DW next week for a couple of days so I can finally get on this ride.

If Lightning Rod is your main reason to go, and you have any travel distance, I don't think I would go back after what I saw Monday. They made absolutely NO effort to get it running all day.

I agree its time to modify it so it works. Even if that means elminating the launch. They built an amazing terrain coaster with a lot of great elements. The launch isn't needed. I hope this isn't another Gwazi..............an amazing coaster that ends up defunct because of bad decisions.

Last edited by super7*, Wednesday, October 19, 2016 4:32 PM
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:52 PM
Vater's avatar

TheAcrophobicEnthusiast said:

it will inevitably cause the male part of the mechanism to enter the female part in a state of misalignment.

I hate when that happens.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016 2:56 PM

super7* said:

If Lightning Rod is your main reason to go, and you have any travel distance, I don't think I would go back after what I saw Monday. They made absolutely NO effort to get it running all day.

I couldn't agree more.

I get that technical problems happen, especially with new rides, but I think Dollywood has been utterly dishonest with the way they've been handling the Lightning Rod situation. Earlier this year I felt that I'd been cheated out of my money:

http://www.bannister.org/coasters/trips/2016/0710.htm#dollywood

I probably will be back at some stage, but I'm in no hurry.


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