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Did Summers/Dinn make ANY good coasters?


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The Wildcat at Lake Compounce had the pleasure of being rebuilt in 1986 by Charlie Dinn and Curtis D. Summers. Let's just say, it has not aged well despite the parks best efforts.

 

I am pretty sure they ruined every coaster they touched; new or rebuild. Damn you Dinn!!!

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Grizzly - Nothing about that ride is enjoyable, and yet the average wait for the ride is 15-20 minutes...

 

No way! The wait is really that long? Are you serious? I rode that with my brother once in the mid nineties and we were laughing loud the whole time. I can't imagine how bad it is now. Top Gun was the only good ride I remember there.

 

Come to think of it, are there any good parks on the west coast north of LA? Do Seattle or Portland have any theme parks in the vicinity at all? I know there's Silverwood farther east but is that it? It seems really odd. Now that I think about this, I'm really curious. I assume there were several smaller parks that didn't ever really get bigger.

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I have been on a total of two Dinn corporation coasters.

 

Mean Streak at Cedar Point-I thought this ride was okay. Not good or bad, but very in the middle. I may have just gotten lucky, but I didn't find it to be rough at all. Granted, I only rode once and in the front row of the second car, so that may have had an effect on it. My problem with the ride is that it wasn't a very exciting or intense coaster, and the entire ride was killed by the trim on the first drop and the heavy midcourse brakes. I'd like to try this again next time I go to the park to see if I can see why everyone says the ride is horribly rough.

 

Psyclone at Six Flags Magic Mountain-This ride was probably the worst wooden coaster I've ever been on. It was very rough, slow, and didn't have any airtime at all. No wonder the ride never had more than a two train wait anytime I rode it. The only reason I rode it more than once was because it was at least moderately exciting and other people in my party always wanted to ride it for some reason. During the ride's lifetime, I think I rode it a grand total of six or seven times. I really wouldn't care to ever ride it again, and don't miss it one bit. Ironically, the spot once occupied by one of my least favorite wooden coasters is now home to my favorite wooden coaster.

 

Additionally, I have also been on Thunder Road at Carowinds, which Summers was involved in (but Dinn was not). That ride was actually really good (6th out of the 20 wood coasters I've been on). Unfortunately, it wasn't racing when I rode it, or it would have been a better ride. I will also be riding Wildcat at Lake Compounce next summer, which Summers was involved in as well (but once again, Dinn was not).

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So why do so many of these rides go to crap over the years?

 

Wood responds much more poorly than steel to the elements over the years, and it's unfortunate. I guess that the roughness adds some of that "good 'ol woodie charm", but ask anyone who's ridden Hurler or Mean Streak and they might just disagree.

 

Giant Dipper on the Santa Cruz boardwalk has had almost 90 years of exposure to the harsh environment of the boardwalk, yet it is one of the best woodies in California. So clearly there is much more to it than just the wood's response to the elements

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So why do so many of these rides go to crap over the years?

 

Wood responds much more poorly than steel to the elements over the years, and it's unfortunate. I guess that the roughness adds some of that "good 'ol woodie charm", but ask anyone who's ridden Hurler or Mean Streak and they might just disagree.

 

Giant Dipper on the Santa Cruz boardwalk has had almost 90 years of exposure to the harsh environment of the boardwalk, yet it is one of the best woodies in California. So clearly there is much more to it than just the wood's response to the elements

Agreed. Same can be said for Belmont's Giant Dipper, or hell, even Dania Beach Hurricane which is a newer woodie not far from the water, runs year round, and gets harsh weather in S. Florida and still ran GREAT last time we were out there!

 

--Robb

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Heres another possible reason. We all know that the Intamin woodies are smooth as glass and seem to last forever, yet structurally they are pretty similar to their Summers/Dinn counterparts. Maybe the Summers/Dinn rides are just the perfect storm of crappyness? I'm just considering a few factors here:

 

Smoothness of track: A ride with a smoother track will have less "jerky" forces exerted on it's structure, and will age better.

Environment: Plays a larger part on ride quality than Steel coasters but has a few exceptions (Giant Dipper)

Trains: Woodies with lighter, articulated trains will be smoother and their structure will be under less stress.

 

From what I can tell, the Summers/Dinn woodies fail on two out of the three variables, in smoothness and their trains. I'd be willing to bet that over time, a heavier train on the tracks will, over time, distort the tracks slightly, making them rougher. Woodies like Ghostrider which opened fairly smooth, yet currently are rough as hell, are suffering from this effect. Compared to Intamin woodies which opened smooth as glass and currently age as good as or better than most Steel rides. They have Smooth track to begin with and articulated trains.

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My goodness...I never expected a post I created in another wine-induced haze to have this many responses the next day.

 

As for the subject, I think it might be attributable to Summers/Dinn being a little ahead of their time with their concepts, and limited by the materials available to them. I also do think that the very dense PTC trains might have been a factor as well. I thought maybe weather, but Robb and others made an excellent point with the Giant Dipper.

 

Another coaster I want to point out is Gemini at CP. Yes, its design incorporates steel into the wood, but to me it's still a woodie at heart. Look at the trains on that one. To me, they seem a bit more lightweight and defined, which may be one of the reasons I've yet to have a bad ride on Gemini, despite it having existed since 1978.

 

And Robb, I'm so happy you mentioned the Kennywood woodies, which I've loved my whole life. Indeed, its wonderful amazing to see all of them still running in good shape after all this time. As a side note, have you ever watched the old "Kennywood Memories" documentary?

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I loved Texas Giant, Mean Streak, Wolverine Wildcat, and Timber Wolf. Predator seemed to be the only bad Dinn coaster than I have ridden, but maybe I was in a bad seat. Really, I didn't expect the smoothest ride out there, but the layouts of the rides are definitely high quality. Also, the no waits on all these coasters lead to an amazing ride! (The best perk about these rides, no waits!)

 

 

Has anyone ridden Hades this year? OMG. A ride that was easily in my top 5 I'm not even sure I'd rank in my top 50. And it *felt* exactly like what happened to many of those Summers/Dinn and CCI woodies over the years.

 

--Robb

 

Really? I rode it in July this year and I loved it! Sure it's jerky, but the layout is so intense and the tunnel is crazy, especially at night. Definitely was a Top 10 for me

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I wonder too if your preferences and physical state can affect how certain woodies feel. I, myself, actually enjoy Mean Streak and love being thrown around, and also being a smaller person, I can actually get air on Mean Streak. One coaster that I had heard horror stories about was Villain, prior to riding it back in '05. I rode it the first time in the front, and thought it was pretty good, and got some nice air. After it rained later on, went back on, and holy s**t, it was a different monster. If I remember, it was rough in the back, but the air I was getting, I didn't care.

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Giant Dipper on the Santa Cruz boardwalk has had almost 90 years of exposure to the harsh environment of the boardwalk, yet it is one of the best woodies in California. So clearly there is much more to it than just the wood's response to the elements

Agreed. Same can be said for Belmont's Giant Dipper, or hell, even Dania Beach Hurricane which is a newer woodie not far from the water, runs year round, and gets harsh weather in S. Florida and still ran GREAT last time we were out there!

 

--Robb

 

It's interesting Robb that you may be indirectly defending the much-maligned Morgan trains that run on both Giant Dippers. While I do not think they are the most comfortable seats out there, they get the job done (on a twister, anyway.) Riverside Cyclone was transformed into a retina-detaching car wreck as soon as the two bench PTC trains were introduced. Then shortly afterwards the first drop was altered. Uggh.

 

I really think the issue is the PTC two-bench trains; they just do not track well at all and in time they just become progressively worse. Their three bench design seems to have a better performance record as I can't immediately think of a coaster that uses those that comes anywhere close to the turbulence the two-bench cars do. Sure most of them are out-n-back or figure eights, but I suspect if two-bench trains were used it would be a significantly different story. Of course there are always exceptions, but only a handful come to mind that use the latter and do not seem to have been negatively impacted.

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It's interesting Robb that you may be indirectly defending the much-maligned Morgan trains that run on both Giant Dippers

I've never had a problem with them, so yeah, I guess I am defending them! I think they work GREAT on both Giant Dippers, Colossus, and Jack Rabbit. I rode Santa Cruz's Giant Dipper about 15 times all over the train earlier in the year and thought it ran fantastic!

 

Grizzly has never been an amazing ride, so I'm not sure it matters what trains are on them. Same story with Anaconda. And I don't quite remember how they were on La Monstre as I haven't ridden that coaster since 1986!

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I've never had a problem with them, so yeah, I guess I am defending them! I think they work GREAT on both Giant Dippers, Colossus, and Jack Rabbit. I rode Santa Cruz's Giant Dipper about 15 times all over the train earlier in the year and thought it ran fantastic!

 

Grizzly has never been an amazing ride, so I'm not sure it matters what trains are on them. Same story with Anaconda. And I don't quite remember how they were on La Monstre as I haven't ridden that coaster since 1986!

 

It's been a long time since I've ridden Le Monstre myself (even though it's a day trip for me) but the Morgan's plied the course with ease. They work pretty well on Dragon Coaster as well. Morgan trains have a very distinct sound that stays with you forever; I can hear it right now just thinking about it. I loved them on the Riverside Cyclone, the first seat/last car my particular favorite. I would plant my feet on the flat steel bar that ran across the front of the car, allowing me to "surf" the ride hands up. It is still a fun yet considerably rougher and neutered ride in the back, but not in my top three as it used to be. But I digress.

 

Back on topic.

 

Curtis Summer's designs can't be faulted as almost all of them opened to favorable reviews. And most if not all came nowhere near to "pushing the envelope." So the problem must be either construction, the trains, or a combination of the two.

 

Predator gets the hardest hit as the roughest C/D creation, but I think Mean Streak is by far and away the worst. I rode MS it's debut season, and came off the ride somewhat nonplussed. A family "Texas Giant" is how I described it. My last ride two years ago was like a freight train taking a dirt road. When Predator debuted I thought Darien Lake had a winner on it's hands; not a top-ten woodie but a well-paced ride with all the elements a coaster needed to make Western NY proud. Then the Curtis/Dinn curse struck. But if I am not mistaken, this was the last coaster to run PTC's two bench trailer-hitch nightmares.

 

I haven't given up on the Curtis/Dinn coasters yet, as a decent re-track and/or competent trains could solve the problem. But I fear as each year passes the parks will.

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The Hades tunnel was insane! It was literally hell to get to, and then the tunnel itself was very intense. As for Roar, it's not nearly as rough as the others and I can ride it numerous times during Bay Area Bash. Ghostrider however, had some incredible parts to it, but it is so incredibly rough that it's not worth it. Riding in the back during the Haunt Event was really bad. I think the differences in how they hold up are in the engineering and construction. If you have the correct engineering, and great construction, the rides will last a long time.

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So doing a quick search on Mitch's poll - is it really that the highest ranked Summers/Dinn woodie is Thunder Run at #82??? That's just so sad to think that all those once-great woodies now barely crack the top 100 list.

 

And Laura, Timber Wolf is like the "Ghostrider of the midwest." I remember the first time I rode that, and it was only a couple of seasons old, and you could tell it was running "kind of" rough, but man that thing was crazy! Today, it's less than a shadow of it's former self.

 

And just like Ghostrider, you can see why it ranked so highly at one point, but I think it's days of ever coming close to delivering that kind of ride again are long gone.

 

--Robb

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...Timber Wolf is like the "Ghostrider of the midwest." I remember the first time I rode that, and it was only a couple of seasons old, and you could tell it was running "kind of" rough, but man that thing was crazy! Today, it's less than a shadow of it's former self.

 

And just like Ghostrider, you can see why it ranked so highly at one point, but I think it's days of ever coming close to delivering that kind of ride again are long gone.

 

--Robb

 

But if you are applying the Curtis/Dinn equation to Ghostrider, why does Boulder Dash hold up so much better? Both are CCI's but built two years apart. Ghostrider nose-dived in the polls, but BD hasn't moved much at all.

 

For as much as I try, I can't figure out what happened in the time between John Allen and Curtis Summer. And why do Herb Schmeck coasters seem to outlast all others? And why is CI Cyclone still the ride all others are measured against? And why am I still awake at 3:22 east coast time?

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But if you are applying the Curtis/Dinn equation to Ghostrider, why does Boulder Dash hold up so much better? Both are CCI's but built two years apart. Ghostrider nose-dived in the polls, but BD hasn't moved much at all.

First off, you need to actually pay attention to what I write. I never said *all* coasters, I said some of them. Your response makes it sounds like I said all coasters suffer from this. That's not what I wrote.

 

There are a number of CCIs still in "good" shape - Raven, Cornball Express, & Silver Comet are ones that come to mind. But even my last rides on those are starting to show without some TLC from the park they could be in trouble.

 

And Boulder Bash was basically re-built by GCI in 2007 and 2008.

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Is it also possible that advancements in engineering lead to less actually structural components on wooden coasters in the 90s? I mean maybe the rides last better when they are "overbuilt". I am not really sure how to read that as I know of very few wooden coasters built in the decades from the late 60's to the 90's. Of course those few that I do know about seem to have suffered the same fate but over a longer period to those built in the 90s.

 

Many of these rides do seem to be running PTC trains. Was CCI the only recent ride maker to source trains from elsewhere? I know those didn't go over well either but did the ride go downhill as far or did it just start as crap?

 

Is it possible this is a consequence of both the predominant train builder for many many years and the push to build less expensive designs? Oh and if you made it this far gold star for reading all my rambling

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I do believe that PTCs do play a role in the deterioration of the track be it from weight or bad wheel tracking but that can't be all of it . . . Could it have something to do with the way they (Summers and Dinn)structured the coasters supports and track ? Or how much maintenance a park is willing to put into them to keep them running smooth vs. how much maintenance a park has to put into them to keep them safely running?

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May I express my surprise that one of the first projects they worked on has not yet been mentioned? While it has been a couple of seasons since my last ride on The Beast (KI), it has, in my opinion, aged well. While Summers and Dinn were not the only ones involved, they were certainly prime movers in the project, though they are often blurred into the categories of "The Kings Island maintenance/construction team" (Dinn) and "Curtis D Summers engineering, in conjunction with Taft staff designers"

 

If there's one that has aged well, it's The Beast. Certainly better than low 40s in the wold.

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