Random IAAPA thoughts

Thursday, November 15, 2007 3:42 PM
I just spent a couple of hours on the show floor prior to my speaking gig, and instead of doing a lengthy write up with photos of things you've already seen, here are some random thoughts.

I ran into Jeff Siebert in the press room, and he wants to confirm that he does not, in fact, ever turn off the PR mode. He's like that with his wife and kid.

First off, Dinner in The Sky (or whatever it's called): Why? Hoist a bunch of people several hundred feet into the air so they can eat? I don't get it.

Also in the category of what-are-they-thinking, PTC is showing a single-bench wood coaster car... with four wheels and a 17" wheel base. There's a head scratcher. I can't possibly imagine that would track very well, even with my limited knowledge on the subject.

Vekoma's family inverter car is cozy and attractive, lapbar only. Well done. It appears to be the same seat at least for the SLC replacements, sans the shoulder harness (which I also hear is not girl friendly).

S&S is showing the X2 car, and apparently they've reduced the weight by a third. The "does it shimmy" question I suppose won't be answered until it's delivered, but the entire seating carriage looks like a more composite and solid piece, which I assume was the source of some of that shake in the outer seats before.

I haven't been to either Busch Gardens since the new drop coasters went in, but I was blown away by the sheer mass of the Griffon car at the B&M booth. Unreal.

CoasterDynamix won the show's best merchandise award, I believe for the Statix trains. They had a prototype for a Millennium Force model there, complete with triangular track.

I've had a lot of conversations in the aisles with people regarding the Paramount Parks acquisition, now that most of the old guard is out in the world and has moved on. It sounds like Cedar Fair has made a great many mistakes in forcing a culture and business model on something that was more or less already working. I suppose that's a post for another day.

Inflatables are again dominant on the seven miles of aisles, but the Halloween stuff doesn't seem as dominant as it was in 2004, the last show I went to. Given the fall various parks had this year, that surprises me.

Zamperla has a nice looking green Disk-O here with a sweet lighting package.

The show is almost totally free of booth babes, which shocks me. The one I did see was at the Premier Rides booth, which seemed a little odd.

Overall, the show does seem well attended, and people who go every year say that having it on Orlando makes a huge difference. Not a lot of Atlanta fans, apparently.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 4:28 PM
Thanks for the report Jeff.

The PTC train, If each axel articulates instead of only the rear should reduce maintainence on a coaster considerablly. However I don't know why they couldn't do this with two bench trains??????

Or just a proper one axeled trailor type trains (Done properly)

I have a question for rideman, Were the old PTC trailered trains artiulating on the rear axel or did they rely on the HITCH for all that?


Thursday, November 15, 2007 4:53 PM
The reason PTC is showing those trains is because people requested it. If you watch Coaster Crew's Guide to the Midway they are doing a video podcast for each day of the show and yesterday they interviewed PTC and that was their response to that.
Thursday, November 15, 2007 5:27 PM
No one questioned why they are being shown.
Thursday, November 15, 2007 6:49 PM

Jeff said:
Also in the category of what-are-they-thinking, PTC is showing a single-bench wood coaster car... with four wheels and a 17" wheel base. There's a head scratcher. I can't possibly imagine that would track very well, even with my limited knowledge on the subject.

I believe Jeff asked why PTC was making them or at least thinking to himself, So I was just stating a fact to say what PTC was thinking.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 11:24 PM

Jeff said:
The show is almost totally free of booth babes, which shocks me.

The show floor hasn't been the same since Coke and Pepsi stopped using booth babes.

Friday, November 16, 2007 10:36 AM
The trains apparently don't articulate at all, and they can't name anyone who actually wants them.
Friday, November 16, 2007 11:04 AM

Jeff said:

CoasterDynamix won the show's best merchandise award, I believe for the Statix trains. They had a prototype for a Millennium Force model there, complete with triangular track.

Yay! I will look forward to the day I can get an Intamin recreation from C.D. :)

Friday, November 16, 2007 11:25 AM

Jeff said:The trains apparently don't articulate at all, and they can't name anyone who actually wants them.

Who would?
I said it all along that they need to start from the ground up.

New Chassis, New seating, new everything.

They can still maintain their current rebuild, Interchangable parts train service.

However I just think they are complaicant.

Chuck, not against PTC, just not a big fan of their ancient product which even more ancient designs like the Prior and Church were better than this.

Friday, November 16, 2007 12:57 PM
Here is a good shot of the new PTC trains

I'm not exactly an expert in rolling stock but honestly I don't see how this is going to be an improvement from a maintenance standpoint since you're going to have more wheels hitting the track each ride. The Millennium Flyers have one axle per car except for the front which has two. These guys have two per car all the way back.

Lookwise it doesn't really matter to me, as long as it tracks well. A smaller wheel base might mean tighter curves and less slop in the track, but I still don't see this as much of an improvement over the long run.

~Rob Willi *** Edited 11/16/2007 5:58:04 PM UTC by HeyIsntThatRob?***

Friday, November 16, 2007 1:06 PM
Does anyone have a picture of the new S&S Arrow "Eagle" concept? As I understood they are offering some new study with sideways spinning cars(?)
Friday, November 16, 2007 1:09 PM
I could work if they trailored em and removed the front axel. However a better solution than the old trailored trains would need to be used.

They want to do this and keep the drawbar between cars. Doesn't work.

Friday, November 16, 2007 1:53 PM
I think they should have started from scratch with the single bench, but there's no need to make any changes to the standard trains.
Friday, November 16, 2007 2:44 PM
Even without changing anything else, the new PTC trains will take turns better. The reduction in wheelbase can be thanked for that. I'm not sure if the idea that maintenance will increase holds any water- there are more wheels but less weight per wheel. It'll be interesting to see how that turns out.

I don't blame PTC for putting them on display. They were supposed to debut on the Ravine Flyer but that idea was killed while the trains were still in development. Why not show them off and see if there are potential customers out there? PTC builds new trains for old coasters all the time and it's entirely possible a park might consider these trains when their time comes. I don't get it. People complain because PTC doesn't do anything different and now that they do something different, people still complain.

I will say this- the trains are ugly. The more seats are removed (and hence, the shorter the "box" becomes), the more awkward it looks. I wasn't expecting them to have the beauty of GCII's Millennium Flyers but those things are not pretty- very utilitarian and industrial in their appearance. You'd think the open fronts would help but that design element doesn't work all that well with the look of PTC's trains.

Still, I'm sure they'll work fine and I can't wait to give them a try.

Friday, November 16, 2007 3:56 PM
Yeah I think they would reduce maintainence some with the shorter wheelbase (Less twisting of the track and car) but overall I think the train would be far heavier.

Another dum dum move is to put a foot pedal in a open front train. I had someone hit the pedal on a G train with a umbrella and while I was sitting proper. It scared the crap out of me when the bar came up.

Sadly there are enough people out there that would hit that pedal for INTENSE RIDES!

Friday, November 16, 2007 5:01 PM
I noticed that too! That pedal is way too evident and the shape of the front grill looks like someone could hit it during the ride.
Friday, November 16, 2007 5:23 PM
I noticed, on another web site, a couple pictures from the GCI booth showing the proposed layout of the California's Great America wood coaster for 2009. One picture was sort of a topographical layout of the track and the other picture was of a 3-D computer generated view of the ride structure. It bears no resemblance to Renegade at ValleyFair. I assume that Cedar Fair and GCI are becoming partners in another great project.
Friday, November 16, 2007 5:39 PM
The way the PTC trains are built, there is really no reason I can think of why they couldn't put the lap bar release and the foot pedal at the rear of the car instead of in the front.

Chuck, the old trailered PTCs were mechanically similar to the Millennium Flyers. The only articulating axle on the whole train was the second axle...rear axle of the lead car...which is kind of strange to begin with. That's really the beauty of a trailered train. You can put all your articulation in the hitch (which is designed to move anyway) and each car can follow the track with some precision. Where PTC messed it up was when they put the wheels under the car's center of mass, instead of directly below the hitch. This makes sense from a mechanical standpoint in that it would dramatically reduce the hitch load (as the mass of the car is carried by the axle), but it makes no sense if you try to go around a curve, as the hitch gets dragged off in the wrong direction as the car rotates. Morgan did their trailering right, putting the hitch in-line with the axle, and in fact their cars track really well and apparently do very little damage to the track. But if you've read the Rattler files on the rideaccidents web site, you know they had their own set of problems: because of the wheel position, a much larger proportion of the car weight is carried on the tongue, and they were breaking hitch balls. With a train that is significantly lighter weight than the PTC train.

Now, a single-bench train with the standard PTC articulation would still have problems on flat curves, but the more I study the issue the more I realize that the problem of flat curves has been solved already through the use of high speed and track lubricant. It's an imperfect solution to be sure, but it works. One of the more recent issues even for the GCI trains, though, has been roll rate. The standard 2-bench PTC train has a wheelbase of...what...36"? And its rear axle can roll about three degrees in either direction. That means that the maximum roll rate between the front and rear axle is three degrees; if the wheelbase is 36", that's three feet, that means a roll rate of one degree per running foot of track. Now if you use that same geometry and cut the wheelbase to 18" (I realize it's 17, but at 18" the math is easier...) you've just increased the allowable roll rate to three degrees in 18", which is two degrees per running foot of track.

To put that another way, without train modifications, you'd need 90 feet of lead-in to get to a 90-degree bank, and another 90 feet to come out on the other side, with the standard train. With the single bench train, you could do the same maneuver in half the running length...45 feet in, 45 feet out.

What I noticed from the photos is that the white single-bench car has an old-school handlebar on it instead of the modern lap bars. I don't suppose this means PTC has *finally* developed an all-mechanical version of that lap bar with redundant locking, does it? THAT's the solution that coasters have been crying out for decades for...!

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
(NOT at IAAPA this week :( )

Friday, November 16, 2007 6:16 PM
Friday, November 16, 2007 9:48 PM

That's Great America's GCI and it looks like one of the most incredible things they've ever built. If it tracks as aggressively as it looks it could definitely be one of the best coasters on the left coast, maybe THE best, IMO.


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