Son Of Beast: Still closed at Kings Island

Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 1:38 PM | Contributed by CoasterDaddy

This summer, as other nearby rides are filled with screaming patrons, Son of Beast will again be silent. When Kings Island opens Saturday, wooden coaster lovers will have one less choice - for the second season in a row. The troubled coaster, once a signature feature at the park and the only looping wooden coaster anywhere, will not be operating.

Read more from The Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011 7:36 PM
LostKause's avatar

Billy said:

The loop was not the problem (I some think people use it to argue to case).

I would argue that the loop was at least part of the ride's problem. The trains had to be heavy in order to make it through the loop, which may have caused the ride to be rough in the first place. When the loop was removed, and lighter trains were installed, it was still pretty rough, but I think that was because of damage to the entire track from the heavy trains.


Last edited by LostKause, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 7:38 PM
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 7:46 PM

I think I'm one of the very few who found the ride mildly enjoyable, especially with the loop. I was of the opinion that SoB was, at worst, equal in roughness to The Best, as well as Mean Streak. Actually, in terms of roughness, SoB was right in the middle of those three, with its father being the roughest.

I still say use the pre-lift, lift, and first drop. From that point on, redo the entire thing.

Original BlueStreak64

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 8:07 PM
Morté615's avatar

Hmm didn't someone from the Gravity Group say at one point that they could do a loop, and keep it wooden the entire way through? Or is that just a rumor on the internets, references now!

Morté aka Matt, Ego sum nex
Dragon's Fire Design:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 8:57 PM

I wonder if a true wooden looper could be more practically and reliably built using a very short train, perhaps just one or two cars.

The reason I wonder is that, with the shorter length of the train, there should be a much lower differential in the gees pulled on the front versus the back of the train as it passes through the loop. In this scenario, the loop (er, clothoid) could be designed to therefore pull the lowest gees possible, thereby making the heavier trains that SOB required, and which did so much damage to the wooden track, no longer needed.

Not that I'm an engineer or anything. And I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

My author website:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 10:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

LostKause said:
The trains had to be heavy in order to make it through the loop...

Are you suggesting that it was impossible to just make a smaller loop?

Morté615 said:
Hmm didn't someone from the Gravity Group say at one point that they could do a loop, and keep it wooden the entire way through? Or is that just a rumor on the internets, references now!

It's not just rumor, but I'm also not sure if any actual engineering effort went into the feasibility. Only a few people who live in the Cincy area woud know for sure.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 10:50 PM
LostKause's avatar

Sure they could make a smaller loop. Wouldn't that make the loop too intense though?

Edit -

From Wikipedia:

Two Gerstlauer trains from the demolished the belief being that lighter trains would cause less stress on the wooden structure. The loop, then, was removed so that the lighter trains could complete the circuit.

I know, it's Wikipedia, and this is not where I originally read this information, but it's all I've got right now. Why were the trains so heavy to begin with?

And seriously, were they unusually heavy for a reason (like being able to traverse the loop), or were the trains of a normal weight, and after the new trains were added, they realized that they wouldn't be able to keep the loop?

Last edited by LostKause, Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:31 AM
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 11:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

The trains were heavy because they were poorly designed, and by committee at that. It goes back to the discussion about Flying Turns. You have to design the ride to work with the rolling stock. And frankly, the bigger issue in my mind is that Gerstlauers don't have the same forced lap-under-bar angle that the old trains had (similar to the Premier looping LIM rides), and in the unlikely event of an inverted train stall, that's kind of important.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 11:45 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

^Not so sure:

I'm not sure, but I think the G train seating is similar (albeit somehow much less comfortable) than the classic Intamin/Anton trains.

Thursday, April 28, 2011 1:52 AM
Jeff's avatar

It's not even close. The Gerstlauers did not have deep seats at all. I don't have the photos online anywhere, but I took many of them the first year they were at IAAPA (with people in them). You can see pretty clearly that your knees aren't much higher than your butt, and they certainly don't have that massive lap component. It's just a narrow bar on your thighs. If anything, I would compare the Gerstlauer restraints to Arrow mine trains like Magnum.

Last edited by Jeff, Thursday, April 28, 2011 1:53 AM

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

Thursday, April 28, 2011 2:02 AM

CoasterDemon said:
Not only the new Gerstlauer trains, but the Timberliners as well, different things are possible.

Well, since GG has done so many 90 degree turns, I would say overbanking past 90 degrees with the new trains would be very likely in the near future... so, why not a wooden zero G or barrel roll? Imagine looking into a wooden "JoJo roll" (like on Hydra) coming out of a station; just a tunnel of supports

Thursday, April 28, 2011 2:20 AM
Jeff's avatar

If it sucks on a B&M, it could only suck more on a wood coaster.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

Thursday, April 28, 2011 7:37 AM

From what I understood, The trains were much heavier than Designed For.

SOB may have been one of the few coasters there was as much layered outside the rails than under them!

Thursday, April 28, 2011 1:14 PM

Okay, let me tackle some of this...

First of all, yes, the Gravity Group have contemplated doing inversion elements on wood coasters. I do not know how far refined the engineering got, but I know that two of those guys did work out the mechanical requirements to put a PTC train through a Corkscrew inversion.

Second, what Jeff said about the Son of Beast train being designed by committee is probably true. My understanding is that as "Son of Beast" one of the requirements was that they wanted to run three 6-car 36-passenger trains, to match The Beast. That means that instead of using 9 4-passenger cars they had to use 6 6-passenger cars. I don't know how true that is, but either way that's what they did.

When the ride was under construction, I heard that it was going to have all-new Premier-built trains. I figured that these cars would be mechanically similar to the Flight of Fear cars (or the Stunt Track cars, but those came later...). Instead, what we got was a re-hash of the same 60-year-old PTC design. In any case, the cars were built with a short wheelbase in order to make the train flexible enough to go through the loop, which meant that the front seat is out ahead of the front axle and the back seat is out behind the rear axle. This in turn means that if the car yaws, the lateral motion will be amplified even compared with the axle, let alone with the center of the car. Combine that with a layout that is all curves and a train that cannot track the curves, and you get the characteristic back-and-forth shuffle that was the first element to making the coaster particularly unpleasant to ride. But if you look at the train going through the loop, you quickly realize something important: That loop was the smallest possible loop that could accommodate that train. At the top of the loop, the train crunched together enough that the noses and tails of the cars were almost touching. The loop had to be as big as it was, and that in turn drives the height of the lift hill. The lift had to be in excess of 200' in order to have enough energy to get through a 118' loop, and the loop had to be 118' tall in order to keep the train from hitting itself.

Initially, the seating in the trains wasn't too bad. It lacked useful padding, which was a problem, but at least the angles were sane. Apparently, though, someone concluded that if you were small enough, you could potentially slide out from under the lap bar, so instead of fixing the lap bar (as they did on Flight of Fear) they raised the floor of the car, forcing your knees high, and also rocking you back on the seat so that you didn't so much sit in the seat as kind of perch the back tip of your tailbone on the edge of it. I have a pet theory that this lack of support under the thighs and the direct transmission of ride forces into the base of the spine by the contorted seating position may have at least contributed to the two broken necks generated by the ride. A butt cushion was added to better match the seat angle to the butt angle, and that helped a little, but nothing was done about the awkward seating position.

Meanwhile, the oversize cars with the added steel under the floor were apparently heavier and exerted higher forces than anticipated on the structure. Park carpenters repeatedly shored up the structure at the base of the big helix in an effort to make the structure more rigid and to avoid the track bounce which was a combination of improper structural design and the oversize train. That reinforcement at the base of the helix apparently made the right-hand side of the helix too rigid, which resulted in the failure of one of the bents, which then resulted in the subsequent overload failure of two additional bents, resulting in the Major Incident. The analysis of the structural failure is available in the State report, there is a link to it on CoasterBuzz somewhere.

Finally, the argument for the switch to the Gerstlauer train was that the Gerstlauer train was much lighter than the Premier train, and I don't doubt that to be true. But I am not convinced that weight was the entire issue. The Premier trains were very heavy, they are also very large, they track poorly, they are ergonomically unfriendly, and in general there are plenty of reasons to not use those trains. But I wonder if at least part of the reason for removing the vertical loop is not because the Gerstlauer trains are not heavy enough to complete the loop, but rather because the drawbars on the Gerstlauer trains are not flexible enough to allow the train to manage the loop. That, or the cars themselves may be too long to navigate the top of the loop without their frames rubbing on the rails or the cars otherwise binding in the loop. I think it may well be that the Gerstlauer train can't manage the loop, but I suspect the mass of the train is only a minor part of the problem.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Thursday, April 28, 2011 2:45 PM

Excellent post, as always, Dave.

Interesting notes about the trains not being flexible enough and thus dictating the size of the loop. That is something I had not thought about before. Obviously, the issues carried over from the PTC train designs were to be expected. I guess I am surprised at the way KI dictated that kind of thing for the ride when it would have such an impact on the engineering of the ride (or under-engineering, as the case may be). Surely they would have known from The Beast, that those trains would create a...situation.

Original BlueStreak64

Thursday, April 28, 2011 4:24 PM

^^ I concur, most excellent post filled with info for the unknowing like me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011 4:46 PM

Excellent Summary Dave. The trains were part of a settlement of a lawsuit PKI had on OLFOF, Another Screw up as it was origionally proposed to run with lapbars only, I don't know who made the decision to put OTSR's on it or why? But another weight issue insued when the OTSR's were removed as the trains mechanically became about 200 pds lighter per car after the OTSRs were removed.

Anybody else remember that Premier built four trains for SOB as one of the cars was dumped off the truck in transport?

One thing I will add to Daves discussion and this is after over 300 rides on SOB myself. When sitting in the back in the Premiers, Up on top of the horseshoe you could watch the cars in front of you. I noticed several times watching the wheels that the flex of the track as the train traveled over it was severe as it dipped in between bents a couple inches as the wheels traveled over them. Only a Enthusiast or maintainance person would look at this, I think. But I haven't noticed that much flex in any other coaster I've ridden. I do know flex is built into a ride but that was excessive.

Thursday, April 28, 2011 4:57 PM
LostKause's avatar

Awesome, as always, Rideman. I always appreciate your informative posts.

Thursday, April 28, 2011 5:32 PM
OhioStater's avatar

Here here. I never mind a lengthy RideMan post as I always get a crash course in coasters 101. Or maybe we are up to a 200 level course by now. Fascinating stuff.

Friday, April 29, 2011 9:33 AM
Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

trains designed for a smaller loop => smaller loop => smaller lift hill
That seems like a crazy design sequence to me. How many coasters really start their design with the trains?

Friday, April 29, 2011 1:56 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I bet more than you think, especially on wood. The ability of the train to pitch, yaw, and roll is *the* limiting constraint on the size of the elements.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."


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