Almost every PTC train that I have experienced has been re-fitted with new headrests, (Volvo or padded) seat dividers, and single ratcheting lap bars.
I have "heard" that this was done to increase a sense of safety or to control riders,from many sources.
After riding coasters like CB Exp, and others who still have B-BARS, (and excellent Air Time)
I think to myself... why change.. has physics changed since these coasters were designed?
Are we scientifically safer with these new restraints?
I see old vids with so many PTC trains with original set-ups, and wonder am I missing the feeling of the original ride.
I would like to hear some thoughts on if, or how these new restraints-padding-head-rests and lap bars are helping.
PTCs with the single-notch bars are more of a rarity these days, but I'm glad they still exist. How many of you would like to imagine the Phoenix with the ratching bars?
Somewhere between the "excessive" freedom of the Golden Age coasters and the seemingly endless restraining of seatbelts, headrests, individual lapbars, and seat dividers (as if the fluffy dividers weren't good enough, these hard-molded jobs with the inserts cut out are *bruisers*)...it seems to me this is equally excessive. Might be me... ;)
Back to your original question, I think they are safer to the insurance companies cause a stupid kid goofing off could get right out of a buzz bar.
Makes me wonder why PTC hasn't done anything about this - except for coming up with these awful lapbars that have come on like a plague.
One coaster that has a GREAT alternative to this is the Viper at SFGAmerica. There are return shocks fastened to the lapbars. You have to work to put them down, and they will NOT fall during the ride. This is much better.
^That's true Jeff. But still, there are options. Kennywood Thunderbolt allows no single riders. How about a train with seat dividers in only the 2nd car, say 4-6 seats. Still restricting, but I'd much rather have that than ratchet bars.
The problem I have is the design of the ratcheting bars and how they were simply attached to the existing design. The bars have that curve that allows them to clear the side of the train as they ratchet down, and that means riders are forced to sit with their legs pushed towards the center of the train, where the seat divider helps push the rider's body back in the opposite direction. When PTC saw that those ratcheting bars were going to be pretty much standard on all new wood coasters, the trains should have been redesigned.
I don't mind so much the Newer PTCs say post Raven that have dividers and ratchets. It's the retrofits like Beast, Racer. Trains that were never meant to have them then you take up a ton of room with highbacks ect and the lapbar allows less room. follow that up by raising the seat to allow a articulated axel and IMHO You have a recipie for disaster (I'll explain later)
As for the dividers/ratchets. They were meant to keep a rider facing forwards and not riding sofa style therefore keeping the riders thighs under the bar.
Then PTC goes and allows Single possition bars again (HH, Cornball) but only if they have the dividers.
This proves one thing, The Single possition bars are safe as long as your facing forward.
I feel the ratcheting bar has a very flawed design thats only further accentuated by the trains construction. One the gear is in sufficient to keep the bar locked. Two, Unless the bar is physically pressed into you. You can submarine it (Straighten out under it)
Three, The back and middle seats of a three bench, you can extend your legs further allowing for submarining (You can't do this in the front seat of a car)
Four, Raising the seat level to accept a articulating axel without RAISING THE SIDES AND BACKS IMHO is very dangerous, 1 to the ribs and 2. to the ejection factor.
This is just my opinion and its based on personal observation. no other train do you sit so high in.
Chuck, who knows a couple other well known people that share this view.
P.S. Theres nothing dangerous about them riding properly, Which I practice. Belt snug, bar against me. I just feel the whole ride suffers because of them.
When I was a little wider I took a couple of rides that the belt was actually wadded up beside me. It was on but there was a ton of slack in it. I didn't do this purposfully.
The smaller kid isn't as big as the adult, and they will jump around, and could jump out of the seat. For the buzz bar, it doesn't matter what age you are. They push down on the smaller kid, and bigger adult.
They are the most uncomfortable train I have encountered. Mostly due to the lapbar...
It pushed my legs towered the middle and makes it extremely uncomfortable. I am tall, 6'7" so it doesn't help. My legs are just too long for those trains.
But give me a nice Millennium Flyer train and I am in heaven. Roomy, no leg pinching, comfortable, perfect.
I like how PTC's ride, but they are just too uncomfortable for me.
Unfortunately, the ASTM standards for the design of restraints on rides are very poorly written, not to mention more than a little ambiguous. The standard says that Thou Shalt Conduct a Patron Containment and Restraint Analysis. Then it talks about all the factors that should be considered. Then it says, "Having considered all the important stuff, now consider ONLY accelerations, and use this chart to determine the restraint type." There are five restraint types, classified by the number of riders per restraint, locking or latching function, adjustability, and redundancy...and of those five types, three require adjustable restraints and two require individual restraints. There's a chart and everything. It's only a design guide, mind you, but it's quite specific. Then the next part of the standard says, "Now forget about that and do what the analysis says you should do."
That's a good thing, because the chart essentially says that you have to have a latching restraint on the park bench. But that doesn't stop the parks and inspectors from trying to apply the chart, which essentially says that if you have ANY vertical force less than 0 for more than 0.2 seconds, you MUST have an individual, locking restraint. That means those miserable orange lap bars that PTC has come up with.
The interesting thing is that it can easily be demonstrated that if you put the PTC lap bar down to its 5th (of 6) notch, a fairly average person can easily stand up and sit on the seat back. Heck, I demonstrate that every time I go to Kings Island and try to ride Racer or The Beast: I put the bar into the first position (should be the 3rd notch) the ride op doesn't like it, and to get one more notch I have to stand up first.
By comparison, with the old double-bar, most riders have to turn sideways in the seat in order to stretch out enough to get their knees out from under the lap bar. The seat divider generally prevents that, and as a result, it's a lot more difficult to actually come out of the train while riding under the old handlebars. Just my opinion, of course. But my opinion is that in many cases, parks have gone out and fixed things that were not broken.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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