Retractable seatbelts.

Friday, April 25, 2008 2:54 AM
I really like retractables from a capacity standpoint, but since I'm a very slim guy, the belt seems to almost dig into me. Normal belts I can adjust to be more comfortable.

But for a ride like Mean Streak, who really cares anyways? ;)

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Friday, April 25, 2008 8:48 AM
So will MF and TopThrill get the same changes to seat belts?
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Friday, April 25, 2008 9:02 AM
^Just thinking that it's more likely to be a midification to wooden coasters initially...they seem to be MUCH more problematic.

As always, I reserve the right to be wrong... :)

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Friday, April 25, 2008 9:17 AM
I don't imagine the belts on the Intamins will change, because in addition to being secondary restraints, they are also de facto measuring devices to see if a guest can safely ride.

Having the buckles way over to the side is a pain in the rear, er, hip, though, that's for sure.

Edited: can't was too strong.
*** Edited 4/25/2008 1:18:16 PM UTC by Brian Noble***

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Friday, April 25, 2008 12:35 PM
I think the coaster that really needs this is Deja Vu, or Aftershock. People can't find the seatbelts, and don't put them on. Than, right when the op comes they put them on, and loading is painfully slow with checking the seatbelts first, and than checking the harnesses.

For the rows with no one, the have to put the seatbelt around the harness so it doesn't flap, and that takes time, and you know how many seats aren't filled.

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Friday, April 25, 2008 3:03 PM
"And... what about seat belts? To fasten, take the little end and stick it in the big end and... you know what? If you guys don't know how to use a seat belt, just ring your call button and Tommy will come back there and hit you on the head with a tack hammer..."

;)

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Friday, April 25, 2008 10:28 PM

Brian Noble said:they are also de facto measuring devices to see if a guest can safely ride.

Why can't they make the retractable seat belts the same length or slightly (0.5") longer? *** Edited 4/26/2008 2:29:14 AM UTC by a_hoffman50***
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Saturday, April 26, 2008 1:13 AM
Because of maintenance requirements.

See, seat belts are really not a good idea for amusement rides at all. Think about it a moment. How much use does a typical automotive seat belt get? I drive my car perhaps four times a day on average. I bought my car in August of 2001, and that means that since I have owned it (it's a 1994 model year). That means I've had it for about 2,400 days, and that means I should have cycled the latch plate, tongue, strap and retractor about 9,600 times. Note "should have"...in fact, the retractor assembly failed about 4,400 cycles ago because clearly it wasn't up to that kind of punishment.

Now compare that to an amusement ride. Let's use a Cedar Point coaster as an example, because those are so remarkably consistent in their operation. A typical Cedar Point coaster has three trains and dispatches once every 75 seconds. That means each train cycles every 225 seconds (that's 3:45). Each train, then, cycles 16 times every hour (3600 seconds/hour / 225 seconds/dispatch = 16 dispatches/hour). During the season, the park is open for about 11 hours per day, which means each seat belt assembly has to cycle 176 times per day. Multiply that by a 180 day operating season, and you get each seat belt cycling more than 31,000 times every season. Based on my experience with my car, that means the park should expect every seat belt in the train to fail about seven times per season.

Now, it stands to reason that some of those failures are probably going to be a failure of the strap where it attaches to the buckle tongue. In order to repair that, there are three options:

1) Replace the entire belt assembly
Clearly the most expensive option. Remember, each coaster has between 48 (Blue Streak) and 180 (Gemini) seat belts, and every one of those can be expected to fail seven times per season. Note that typically, to set a specific length for the belt, one would extend the belt from the retractor, clamp it off, cut it to length, and stitch the buckle tongue to the end of the belt.

2) Dismantle the retractor assembly and replace the belt
Seat belt retractors are not designed to be serviceable components. They contain a coil spring which has to be preloaded with the belt fully retracted, then the whole thing has to be assembled without letting the spring loose on the bench. Guess who learned about this the hard way?

3) Cut the buckle off the end of the belt, trim the end, and re-stitch the buckle to the trimmed end of the belt.
Each time this happens, the belt gets a couple of inches shorter. But it's fairly quick, costs almost nothing, and so long as the retractor itself is not damaged, this increases the odds of the retractor lasting the season.

Care to guess the most likely repair scenario? :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008 3:29 AM
oh
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Saturday, April 26, 2008 5:31 AM
Seems to me that cutting a belt and resewing it would violate any belt manufacturers liability. Thats not CF tradition.

Chuck

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Saturday, April 26, 2008 7:56 AM
The thing (and I know it's a small thing) that I don't like about retractable seat belts on the PTC's is that they ruin the look of the train. The side panel is obscured by a clunky box on the exterior. I noticed on Mean Streak the lightning bolt graphic it's always sported in now gone.

But I agree if you have to have seatbelts at all, it's the way to go. They are easy to find, easy to attach, and end the time consuming "ok now which one's mine" thing.

Dave's right about the heavy usage being a maintenance problem. I'm a phone man and at work I'm in and out of my truck sometimes 70 times a day. It causes them to wear out quickly and we have to have them fixed at least once a year. The retractor is the first thing to go, usually, then the fabric, which gets frayed and twisted. The buckle itself not so much, but it has happened.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008 9:07 AM
I thought the lightning bolts on the sides of MS's trains looked cool so I will miss them. At least it'll be a little easier for me to get in and out for the 1 or maybe 2 times I ride it this season. They are still polishing a turd at this point. I would LOVE for them to fix what's really wrong with the ride so that it can run the way it was originally designed and if fixing it means giving it the Hercules treatment then so be it.

I'm actually surprised how different MS's trains have been, here's a pic from 1995 that had the old logo and no lightning bolts. One question I have is that if Meanstreak originally opened with headrests on the trains?

~Rob Willi

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Saturday, April 26, 2008 9:48 AM
Isn't it a little bit of a stretch, Dave, to use your personal failure rate as a benchmark for those installed on the rides?
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Saturday, April 26, 2008 10:18 AM
The way there installed on KIs coasters makes em a simple fix if they have extras.

Not nearly as bad as taking of side pannels on cars, and then finding a bolt only ford makes the tools for to remove it.

He's right, its a PITA (Pain in the ... ) To fix the mechanism, The trick is to have spare mechanisms!
*** Edited 4/26/2008 2:20:20 PM UTC by Charles Nungester***

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Saturday, April 26, 2008 2:37 PM
Jeff: It isn't just a bit of a stretch, it is a HUGE stretch. Especially since my own failure data does not take into consideration the amount that the previous owner did or did not use the seat belt.

I completely admit that the comparison example I used is by its very nature almost entirely unscientific. It's also the best data I could come up with at 1 in the morning or whenever it was. What I failed to mention is that I have seen similar failures in three of my last four vehicles (different makes, models and years) which seems to suggest that while I don't have good failure rate data, the fact that mine failed isn't necessarily a freak incident.

The most important point to the exercise was to point out not necessarily the actual rate of failure, but that in this application, a device which is designed for an automotive application is getting as much use on a ride in a month as it will get in a typical automobile over its entire lifetime.

Thanks for bringing that up. It's the kind of scrutiny that keeps the conversation somewhat honest. But while the (fully disclosed) method is somewhat sketchy, I think that as a back-of-the-envelope estimation for a situation where actual failure data is kept private, the conclusion seems reasonable. Not something you can base purchasing decisions on, but reasonable enough for the qualitative estimates of a few obsessed fans. :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008 3:07 PM
Well the maintenance guy at CP was formally at KI, thus has experience with the retractables, CF has also had a year and a half of operating the former Paramount parks that had it. Im pretty sure all involved know what they are getting into and if they installed it at CP then I think its good for (in order): the bottom line, the customers, and the employees.
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Sunday, April 27, 2008 2:30 PM
My suspicion, not that I'm a metallurgist or anything, is that the metals used in seat belt mechanisms aren't soft, so I'd think they'd last a very long while. I don't know about springs though. They seem like the weakest part.

A good question to ask about at Coastermania or BooBuzz. :)

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