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Reliability of B&Ms


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Here is a precursor, I love B&M. They are my favorite manufacturer as their coasters are extremely rerideable and enjoyable. I often see complaints about Intamins breaking down frequently (and have experienced this first hand). Many times I've heard that B&Ms are super reliable, but lately I have run into a lot of B&Ms having technical difficulties. Have I just hit a bad run over the past two years or is this the norm for their coasters?

 

2 Years Ago

Talon- The train I was on got stuck on the lift hill. After about 20 minutes, they unlocked our restraints and had us walk down. The coaster didn't reopen for the remainder of the day.

 

Last Year

Batman- the Dark Knight (SFNE)- The train got stuck on the lifthill a few times during my visit (maximum breakdown that I saw was 30 minutes).

 

This Year

Riddler's Revenge- It broke down twice while I was in line. I couldn't see what happened since the wait stretched beyond the switchbacks.

 

Batman the Ride (SFMM)- It broke down twice while I was waiting in line before going down for the day. One of the times, I saw the train stuck on the lift hill.

 

Silver Bullet- I just rode the coaster and went back in line when they announced that it shut down. I am not sure what happened.

 

Medusa (SFDK)- The sensor right before the train enters the station was acting up and the maintenance staff had to replace it in order for the train to advance to the next block. During the breakdown, I was talking to an employee and she mentioned that Medusa breaks down more than any other coaster in the park.

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It's just nature that coasters of any make will suffer breakdowns. A lot of the errors that you have run into sound more like computer errors rather than mechanical errors. Lift and brake sections are controlled by PLCs, and sometimes if even a light bulb burns out, it can stop a ride. Allen-Bradley (Major manufacturer of PLCs) may be more to blame.

 

However, mechanically speaking, B&Ms are more reliable, as they have suffered less accidents, and parts last a lot longer. Intamin tends to make things that can pump out a lot of power, but not be able to keep up with hundreds of circuits per day, over the course of a few years.

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I have to say that, apart from my visit to Portaventura during this season's opening day, when every ride was opening and closing the first few hours of operation, the only time I saw a B&M having any issues was superman at Great Adventure. It closed just for a little while, went to a one-train operation and one or two hours later the second train returned.

As for intamins, I've seen these coasters opening and closing temporarily: furius baco, Kingda Ka, TTD, wicked twister and then el toro was closed for a whole day and maverick for two.

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B&M coasters do sometimes break down occasionally, usually for brief periods but that's to be expected with any modern coaster. That being said, they're almost never closed for very long and breakdowns are usually infrequent.

 

When comparing their coasters to a lot of Intamin coasters it's night and day... the problem is you can usually say the same for ride experience in favor of Intamin.

Edited by coasterbill
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I haven't noticed that B&M are truly that reliable based on my own experience. All I know about the reliability are from the forums.

 

Plus, please don't say how Intamin are not reliable in order to show how reliable B&M's are. Every company's product break down once in a while. Plus, Intamin's systems are far more complex than that of B&M coasters. When things got too complex, they certainly brake down more. Intamin always push their technology in each of their products and prototype technologies tend to be more unreliable.

 

B&M coasters are reliable and low maintenance, a big part of that is because of how simple their systems are. (This is from Ocean Kingdom's maintenance department manager, not me. But I think it makes a lot of sense)

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It's just nature that coasters of any make will suffer breakdowns. A lot of the errors that you have run into sound more like computer errors rather than mechanical errors. Lift and brake sections are controlled by PLCs, and sometimes if even a light bulb burns out, it can stop a ride. Allen-Bradley (Major manufacturer of PLCs) may be more to blame.

 

However, mechanically speaking, B&Ms are more reliable, as they have suffered less accidents, and parts last a lot longer. Intamin tends to make things that can pump out a lot of power, but not be able to keep up with hundreds of circuits per day, over the course of a few years.

 

Being an automation engineer I'll be the first to say that Rockwell can be a really pain in the butt what feels like more time then it's worth, but most of the issues are on the manufacturer. These aren't easy problems to diagnose, though. Proximity switches fail all the time, things rattle loose when a multi-ton object travels over them several times a day, and you're in an outdoor environment. You then put conditions in the code where if any of your sensors fail or the train doesn't complete the circuit quick enough you go to E-Stop. I see this kind of thing in the environments I work in. On a system that has been running for at least 1+ year components always fail. I feel like a lot of Intamin rides have many more steps than B&M's which leads to more automation being required. Think of how many trains run on Maverick's circuit, how many block sections there are, and two LSM launches. This is a complicated process and keeping it running 100% of the time is difficult. B&M's are built as such: Two/three trains, lift hill, circuit, blocking brakes, station.

 

I agree with what you are saying mechanically, because that's what everyone is really getting at here. It would seem to me that Intamin has a lot more issues with everyday elements of their rides that simply do not perform consistently. It's important to remember that B&M doesn't build launched rides and their entire philosophy is based on a very consistent quality and construction. There are some major technical differences but B&M really builds the same track and base chassis for every ride. Intamin is all over the board with wood, steel, water, four across versus two across seating, launch, lift hill, vertical lift hill (Giraffica), etc.

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Of all the parks I've been to in the past 2-3 years, I've had a B&M shut down on me twice, both visiting new parks. Three times at my home.

 

At my homepark...

- Apollo broke down on me 2012. I was stuck on the brake run for about five minutes before maintenance got it running again. Everyone was escorted off and the ride was closed.

- Got evacuated off the lift on Alpengeist last summer. Ride was down for 20 minutes.

- Howl O Scream media night, Apollo was down for half the evening.

 

Other visits

- Sheikra was down for most of the morning on my visit to Tampa in 2012. Got lucky with Sea World. None of the coasters broke on me.

- Great Bear shut down for an hour on my visit to Hersheypark. Thankfully it cleared out the line so I only had to wait 30 mins instead of the posted hour wait it had all morning. As for Antons, Sooperdooperlooper was down all day on my visit - huge disappointment.

 

Despite this, all the Intamins I rode were running fantastically well with no shutdowns at all. Maybe I got lucky with those.

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Thorpe Park's The Swarm is favorite B&M coaster. Been on it many many times and have never seen it been broken down for much longer than like 10 minutes. The chain lift broke down on it once and it was down for a maximum of 10 minutes. Really like the B&M's at Thorpe. Nemesis at Thorpe is also a really really reliable coaster. Love B&M. Simple, Stylish and Sexy.

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I spoke too soon. All the B&Ms shut down at least once today. Griffon was down for the majority of the afternoon (ride kept getting stuck on the lift), Alpengeist went down while we were in line (the lost my phone in the drop ), and Apollo was stuck at the top of the lift all day long. Met up with a TPR member from PA and his family was disappointed.

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