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Dollywood Discussion Thread

p. 734 - Lightning Rod closed for remainder of 2020 season

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Any Rocky Mountain coaster with full I-Box is a steel coaster. There is absolutely no argument here.


As I said, I don't find any universally accepted definition. I'll note all the people claiming RMC's Topper makes it not wooden.

And I found old comments about the prefabs saying the composite construction didn't count as "wood."

It's minutiae though.

Unless LR is drastically changed (layout not just track), it'll always be a woodie to me.
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You mean like this. . . (pssst, all wooden coasters run on steel rails, well, with the exception of the flying turns)   Also, who would have thought the first RMC coaster to get the RM

Yeah, the difference to the rider between I-Box track and the current track is really minimal. The only major difference would be that the ride would actually be open when you wanted to ride it and wh

There was a time in my life when I would have cared what Lightning Rod was made of.  So refreshing to give precisely zero effs. I just want to go to Dollywood and not worry about it being open! 

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2 hours ago, A.J. said:

Lightning Rod will be listed as wooden for the 2020 poll and will likely not change for 2021 unless the application of I-Box is significant and changes the characteristics of the ride.

Does being open count as a characteristic of the ride?

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Huh, so much talk about the ride being re-tracked. I haven't been on it but why is that the focus? I thought the reliability of the ride was the main issue? Or am I just way out of the loop?

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Huh, so much talk about the ride being re-tracked. I haven't been on it but why is that the focus? I thought the reliability of the ride was the main issue? Or am I just way out of the loop?


The recent downtime (most of 2020) appears to be related to the track. And we know they did some work last year too.

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Got it, so restraints are good, trains are good, electrical is good, launch is good, so it's the track + structure. Yikes, sounds like it was tearing itself apart. I recall people pointing out a pothole at the bottom of the first drop. Steel Vengeance gets a structure work year over year, but it's a but surprising since this is a ground up coaster.

What a headache, you can really hear the frustration in the guy's voice. I hope this is what they really need to improve the ride's reliability. It's such a tempting destination park with LR being so highly ranked and thought of.

I'm really yet sure what I'm looking for in terms of reliability to convince me that if I spend the time and money to get down there that I'm confident it'll be open. Sure it's a nice park with other fun rides but I'm paying for the full park experience..

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10 hours ago, TEDodd said:


And his word choice seems to confirm that the issue was track strength in the more "dynamic" sections.

Maybe we've found the limit of wooden track?
 

Sounds to be like RMC screwed the pooch on it, honestly. If the ride was too 'dynamic' for the topper track, it should never have been an option from RMC on this particular ride. 

They designed the thing, they surely understand the limits of the track, structure, trains, etc... Sounds like some mistakes were made and I'm sure RMC is working with Dollywood to correct said issues. There is no doubt in my mind that Dollywood is getting a nice deal on the rework package to fix the design flaws. 

Hope it does make it more reliable going forward! Kind of the forgotten RMC given it's terrible reliability, since, forever. 

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2 hours ago, PKI Jizzman said:

Huh, so much talk about the ride being re-tracked. I haven't been on it but why is that the focus? I thought the reliability of the ride was the main issue? Or am I just way out of the loop?

I bet the re-track will have some reliable loops.

 

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Sounds to be like RMC screwed the pooch on it, honestly. If the ride was too 'dynamic' for the topper track, it should never have been an option from RMC on this particular ride. 
They designed the thing, they surely understand the limits of the track, structure, trains, etc... Sounds like some mistakes were made


I'm sure DW had a lot of input, pushing the limits for a record setter.

I'm sure all involved thought it'd be OK. On the edge sure, but OK and the computer simulations agreed. They were wrong. Something wasn't modeled directly, some variable was off, etc.

I'm a test engineer and can't tell you how many times I saw a product work in simulation but not real life. Or the dozens of adjustable parts are included to allow some adjustments without having to remake lots of parts.

We can make better assessments by looking at what changes once done. But my guess is a few elements could be toned down and it be fine. But new track was deemed the best route.
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5 hours ago, TEDodd said:


 

 


I'm sure DW had a lot of input, pushing the limits for a record setter.

I'm sure all involved thought it'd be OK. On the edge sure, but OK and the computer simulations agreed. They were wrong. Something wasn't modeled directly, some variable was off, etc.

 

There is a little documentary on YouTube about Lightning Rod. In it, Schilke says that in the bidding process they were competing not just with other wood manufacturers but also steel. RMC was the one who proposed a launched woodie. From what I remember, the only input Dollywood pushed was that there would be no inversions.

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Mystery Mine with lap bars would be game-changing. I already love the thing, but taking such a unique, highly themed coaster and giving it restraints that don’t bash your brains out... I’d go ahead and start planning my next trip!

I just hope that wouldn’t mean losing the ridiculous tiny vertical drop off the trestle. That thing is insane.

Oh and Lighting Rod actually working sounds cool, too.

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I'm not getting too involved in the wood vs. steel argument, but I'll say for me there's a noticeable difference in how a RMC wooden coaster rides vs. their I-box. It feels more like a wooden coaster to me than a steel coaster.

As far as potholes go, Outlaw run has a prominent one on the bottom of its first drop. It's very noticeable in the back seat.

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23 hours ago, jarmor said:

Curious, why would you think it would mean losing the vertical drop?

The drop thrusts riders forward and the pullout is super abrupt. I just can’t imagine that combo with lapbars not resulting in a few bloody noses. 

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Dollywood had a Q&A earlier today.  Coaster Crew was there and posted on Twitter the magic number 2,160 feet of Lightning Rod is being replaced by I-Box, the ride is 3,800 feet long.  So 57% of the track.

Based on what I have heard it’s the launch through the first drop all going I-Box then a significant section of topper track.  Just before the 45 degree banked hill it will become I-Box and stay that way through the brake run.  So two sections of I-Box, and two of topper track, but the one will be very small just basically the station.  So everything except the station visible from the park will be I-Box.

This includes every area of the coaster I have every heard having problems, so I would assume it will be more reliable.  It’s about what I had guessed when I heard about the work but the percentage of the ride and the number of feet of track being replaced still surprised me.

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Great to hear confirmation from the park. Hopefully this works out and makes the ride reliable.

I can't help but wonder, however, if 5-10 years down the road they'll end up just replacing the remaining portions with I-box.

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^I wouldn’t be surprised by that at all. But I assume this is the most cost-effective solution for now. 

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I couldn't care less what this track is made of.  I'm just excited that I can finally plan a future trip and experience this coaster without having to worry about whether it'll be operating or not.

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2 hours ago, FeelTheFORCE said:

I couldn't care less what this track is made of.  I'm just excited that I can finally plan a future trip and experience this coaster without having to worry about whether it'll be operating or not.

Same. I've been planning and putting off trips to Dollywood since... well, 2016, because I wasn't confident enough that it would be open 🙃

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So it's basically an I-box coaster now...the only topper track between the launch and brake run will be the first 2 wave turns? 

The 45 degree airtime hill is right after the 2nd wave turn thing lol. 

Why even bother? Make it all I-box and be done with it. 

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2 hours ago, Jakizle said:

So it's basically an I-box coaster now...the only topper track between the launch and brake run will be the first 2 wave turns? 

The 45 degree airtime hill is right after the 2nd wave turn thing lol. 

Why even bother? Make it all I-box and be done with it. 

I am gonna assume it has to do with budgeting. Dollywood and RMC negotiated this for awhile. Likely they agreed to have RMC foot the bill for this overhaul and Dollywood would then have the option to pay for the rest out of pocket down the road if they wanted the conversion fully done.

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Lightning Rod wood or steel?  It'll be 2021's version of the Orion giga or hyper debate, but I think it'll be interesting how this coaster is handled on polls going forward.

But ultimately that's a secondary thing.  Number one is actually having this ride run reliably and I hope this finally does it for the park.

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I don't really care what we call it, I think it's pretty hard to mess up the awesome layout that is Lightning Rod, unless you maybe threw a 90s boomerang train on the rails or something.

That being said, I do wish more of the layout was staying wood but I understand their decision at the same time. While I'm sure the airtime and 99% of the ride experience will still be one of the very best in the entire world, there is an undeniable feel to the way the trains run wild on that wood track that I think adds to the "oh-sh*t" factor of the ride. We just went to Silver Dollar City last weekend and I hadn't rode Outlaw Run since it was new and somehow I forgot that it's one of the best coasters out there. It was running totally insane and it had airtime I don't even remember it having years ago.

I do have a question for one of the people who know every minute detail and aspect of these rides- does Lightning Rod run "soft" urethane or nylone wheels and does Outlaw Run run on steel wheels? I have absolutely zero knowledge of engineering but it sounded and felt like the wheels on Outlaw Run are steel, another detail I didn't remember about that ride.

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13 hours ago, xVicesAndVirtues said:

I do have a question for one of the people who know every minute detail and aspect of these rides- does Lightning Rod run "soft" urethane or nylone wheels and does Outlaw Run run on steel wheels? I have absolutely zero knowledge of engineering but it sounded and felt like the wheels on Outlaw Run are steel, another detail I didn't remember about that ride.

I do know for a fact that Outlaw Run uses steel wheels on the topper track, however they have had the same wear issues and poor aging with the track as Lightning Rod with the infamous "potholes". There was some retracking already observed being done on Outlaw Run earlier this year with the coaster being down for a few days and I believe the same was done last year below the first drop. I suspect the trains might get switched to urethane wheels if not a complete track conversion in the coming years depending on how Lightning Rod fares afterward with its conversion.

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Yikes. It’s kind of crazy to see how big of a failure the topper track has turned out to be. Granted, I’m sure it would’ve fared better on less extreme coasters, but it certainly hasn’t saved on maintenance costs or had the long-term durability that RMC (or these parks) originally envisioned. 

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2 hours ago, DBru said:

Yikes. It’s kind of crazy to see how big of a failure the topper track has turned out to be. Granted, I’m sure it would’ve fared better on less extreme coasters, but it certainly hasn’t saved on maintenance costs or had the long-term durability that RMC (or these parks) originally envisioned. 

That's not really true. Topper Track is lasting just fine on many rides, and is significantly easier to work with (and under) which does save on maintenance time and cost. That's what it was originally intended for, and it does that very well. Tremors is still running the original Topper Track in its most intense sections and it's still going strong. 

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