What's new

The Longevity of Modern Mack Coasters

Sandman

Giga Poster
This topic comes off the back of the recent rumours regarding Kumba.

Whilst Kumba's supposed removal is unconfirmed, we are now seeing many of these 'old school' B&M coasters possibly teetering on the edge of their lifespan(s).

Hulk has had the privilege of a full re-track, and Nemesis is seemingly destined to get this after almost 30 years of operation. Perhaps more are to follow.

--

This got me thinking about the modern Mack coasters and their prevalence in the contemporary theme park rollercoaster line-up.

If we consider blue fire to be the starting point for the new era of Mack rollercoasters, then it could be said that we don't really know how these rides (particularly the launch coaster) will age just yet.

I'm talking in general here, as there are obviously varying factors (e.g., Velociraptor at IMG -- hot climate) that could accelerate the need for additional maintenance work to prolong the lifespan.

Some of the Mack coasters (newer ones, even) have the distinctive 'Mack rattle', which, having experienced, don't really detract from the ride quality.

- Is this something you think could steadily worsen over time though?
- Do you think Mack coasters could age incredibly well (or vice versa) based on the experiences you've had with them, or is it too early to tell?

I look at a ride like Dragon Khan at PA and fondly remember some of my rides on this around a decade ago. Smooth, comfortable and overall an excellent coaster.
Nowadays, it seems to have taken quite a turn. Very jolty, some discomfort in the transitions. Still fun, but definitely a shadow of its former self.

What do you anticipate a high status coaster like Helix will ride like in, say, 15 years or so?

It's something I'm interested to hear some perspectives on.
 

Luca B

Mega Poster
Mack has never seemed to have the high quality with DCR and Steam Racers being particularly problematic. I think the lap bars will help keep them smooth enough compared to the OTSRs of the B&Ms, but I still don’t see Mack’s having the longest life span, which is unfortunate as they are making arguably the most extreme coasters right now.
 

CrashCoaster

CF Legend
I remember that at one point in time they stated on their website that their thrill coasters could last up to 80 years, but I don't believe that for a second.
 

StevenX

Roller Poster
In documentary a couple years back on Mack Rides they started they believe they should last 30 years irrc
30 years sounds reasonable. Most engineered steel structures are designed for 30 to 50 years depending on the environment. Any more than 30ish years and you'd need specialist coatings or a much more rigorous maintenance regime - but it's not at all unachievable.

I'm a structural engineer and all this talk about steel end of lifespan seems slightly overblown to me.

Steel doesn't just degrade that fast - the train wheel assemblies and things would be much quicker to go. Also, things like Millennium Force would be having bigger issues by now if this were the case; 22 years in Ohio by a lake is likely worse than 28 years in England for Nemesis!
 

spicy

Giga Poster
Steel doesn't just degrade that fast - the train wheel assemblies and things would be much quicker to go. Also, things like Millennium Force would be having bigger issues by now if this were the case; 22 years in Ohio by a lake is likely worse than 28 years in England for Nemesis!

I think the Nemesis complete retrack is essential more due to the supports in the pit rather than the actual track degradation if I am not mistaken?

Didn't know about the Kumba removal though, we are starting to lose the early 90's B&M's at quite a rate if that happens with many more needing a retrack soon?

As far as Mack, I can't see them being any worst than Intamin? We haven't seen any of those retracked yet?
 

Matt N

CF Legend
Personally, I’m not sure that rides necessarily have a finite lifespan in the way that some say they do.

In terms of each B&M that has thus far been fully retracked or otherwise removed, I think there was another extenuating circumstance that resulted in its refurbishment or removal as opposed to just “age of the track”. I seem to remember hearing that Hulk’s launch caused that ride some unique issues compared to other B&Ms due to the fact that B&M didn’t technically have anything to do with it, and I think that as @spicy said, Nemesis’ is being spurred due to the pit causing issues with footers/supports rather than the condition of the track itself. And I get the impression that Dragon Challenge’s removal was more economically motivated by Harry Potter than mechanically motivated by the end of the ride’s life (that ride was almost glaringly unpopular in its last few seasons as a Potter ride, JK Rowling reportedly never liked it being there, and the opportunity to replace it with a more bespokely Potter-based ride like FJ and Gringotts was too good to pass up).

Also, you still have rides from the likes of Arrow and Schwarzkopf operating with no imminent sign of removal or retrack any time soon, some of which are quite big and intense themselves. Viper at SFMM opened in 1990. Magnum XL-200 opened in 1989. Disney has plenty of Arrows operating that have had a heck of a lot of cycles and close to 50 years of operation in some cases with no retrack ever done on them. Magic Kingdom, a park that likely cycles its rides far more intensely than any theme park with B&Ms and whose flagship coasters are now 40-50 years old, has never had to do a like-for-like retrack or removal of anything.
 

toofpikk

Mega Poster
I think the Nemesis complete retrack is essential more due to the supports in the pit rather than the actual track degradation if I am not mistaken?

Didn't know about the Kumba removal though, we are starting to lose the early 90's B&M's at quite a rate if that happens with many more needing a retrack soon?

As far as Mack, I can't see them being any worst than Intamin? We haven't seen any of those retracked yet?

1643030970682-png.15906


The reports suggest its actually a mix of the supports, foundations, and the track that needs replacing, not one or the other.



I think a big thing is that each park and global region has varying maintenance requirements. Looking at blue fire as the first on the chopping block isn't the wisest idea, as Europa are notoriously trailblazers when it comes to going above and beyond on reliability and looking after their rides, so blue fire is not only well looked after, but the operators actually have to read it a bed time story and sing it a lullaby each night before they e-stop it. That ride will be as near to pristine condition as possible for years to come.

The powered coasters mack makes might be a good comparator - the likes of flying fish, runaway mine train and scorpion express all in the UK are essentially archaic at this point, won't be long until they become grade II listed structures. I mean, they are literal zombie coasters at this point (as in, a shell of themselves, a reliability nightmare, and have a complete mind of their own and are totally untethered in doing so).

Rides like the hunger games ride in Motiongate I imagine will have a shorter lifespan due to the climate the ride finds itself in. The bottom line is that personally I'd expect to see Mack's coasters last very mid-field in the steel coaster manufacturers lifespans, about 25-30 years if we were placing bets. But I'm not a betting man, so I'll just lie and say it's exactly what I expected when every mack megacoaster model dies by the age of 18.
 

JoshC.

Strata Poster
This is a fascinating discussion, in that it's really interesting and there's certainly ways to justifiably come up with some 'answers', but the simple answer is, "We really don't know". And I don't mean that in a defeatist way.

In many ways, it's similar to 20 years ago posing the question "What do we expect the longevity of B&M coasters?".
And how many people then would have said "Hulk will close in 13 years' time for a retrack!", "Duelling Dragons will last 15 more years", "Nemesis in its current form won't live to see 30" ?
Not many I bet!

Obviously there's many special factors in each of those cases. But then, you can say the same for plenty of other coasters too. What is the 'standard' conditions of a coaster? How much does that affect a ride's life span? How much can that be offset by maintenance?

And then taking the B&M vs Mack discussion, how much has technology improved in allowing us to build longer-standing rides? Or knowing more accurately how long rides should remain enjoyable for riders consistently / how long they'll last? One would imagine that there's been some improvements there!

So yeah, I'm loving hearing people's thoughts here. But really, I think despite all the information and ideas we can have access too, it's still like shooting in the dark.
 

Indy

Mega Poster
There is a lot to unpack in this thread and I'm going to do my best and hopefully don't come off pretentious, but I hope it helps clear up some confusion and answer some questions.

30 years sounds reasonable. Most engineered steel structures are designed for 30 to 50 years depending on the environment. Any more than 30ish years and you'd need specialist coatings or a much more rigorous maintenance regime - but it's not at all unachievable.

I'm a structural engineer and all this talk about steel end of lifespan seems slightly overblown to me.

Steel doesn't just degrade that fast - the train wheel assemblies and things would be much quicker to go.

In general, I would agree that 30 years sounds reasonable. And yes, wheel assemblies will certainly fatigue quicker than a structure in most cases. Roller coasters can't be compared to most steel structures though. They are extremely dynamic and their design is generally governed by the fatigue case. Rides are designed for cycle counts, not generic timeframes.

Think of a credit card. It's fairly stiff but if you wiggle it slightly over time, it'll start to weaken and eventually crack.

Also, things like Millennium Force would be having bigger issues by now if this were the case; 22 years in Ohio by a lake is likely worse than 28 years in England for Nemesis!

No two rides are the same. These two have different environments, different manufacturers, different track designs, different forces, different loads, different calendars and operating hours. It's a bit of apples to oranges.

Personally, I’m not sure that rides necessarily have a finite lifespan in the way that some say they do.

In terms of each B&M that has thus far been fully retracked or otherwise removed, I think there was another extenuating circumstance that resulted in its refurbishment or removal as opposed to just “age of the track”. I seem to remember hearing that Hulk’s launch caused that ride some unique issues compared to other B&Ms due to the fact that B&M didn’t technically have anything to do with it I think that as @spicy said, Nemesis’ is being spurred due to the pit causing issues with footers/supports rather than the condition of the track itself. And I get the impression that Dragon Challenge’s removal was more economically motivated by Harry Potter than mechanically motivated by the end of the ride’s life (that ride was almost glaringly unpopular in its last few seasons as a Potter ride, JK Rowling reportedly never liked it being there, and the opportunity to replace it with a more bespokely Potter-based ride like FJ and Gringotts was too good to pass up).

Rides don't necessarily have a finite life where they are designed for 20 years and then must be ripped out, but steel isn't the infinite life material that many people seem to think.

I can't speak to Nemesis, but I do know that Hulk and Dueling Dragons were both due to the rides reaching the end of their life. They needed significant improvements. In the case of Dueling Dragons, it made more sense to replace the ride with a new attraction altogether.

Also, you still have rides from the likes of Arrow and Schwarzkopf operating with no imminent sign of removal or retrack any time soon, some of which are quite big and intense themselves. Viper at SFMM opened in 1990. Magnum XL-200 opened in 1989. Disney has plenty of Arrows operating that have had a heck of a lot of cycles and close to 50 years of operation in some cases with no retrack ever done on them. Magic Kingdom, a park that likely cycles its rides far more intensely than any theme park with B&Ms and whose flagship coasters are now 40-50 years old, has never had to do a like-for-like retrack or removal of anything.

Each case is different, but some of these aren't the best examples. Disney has arguably the best maintenance and sustaining engineering team in the industry. They take extremely good care of their coasters and frequently make modifications to improve the life of their rides. Any time one of their rides goes down for rehab, modifications are often being made to improve the operations and life of the ride.

Many Schwarzkopfs have indeed bit the dust or have been retracked such as Mindbender and Olympia Looping.

Viper has been significantly modified since its opening. Compare this photo with this photo. Take note of the supports in the turn as well as the track reinforcement in the loops.

Rides like the hunger games ride in Motiongate I imagine will have a shorter lifespan due to the climate the ride finds itself in.

It depends. Arguably the biggest challenge with that climate is the fluctuations in temperature from day to night. Steel will expand and contract with temperature changes which will accelerate wear on the structure. The desert obviously gets very hot during the day, but can get very cold at night.

Rides next to the ocean that are subjected to salty conditions are also more likely to have a shortened lifespan.

This is a fascinating discussion, in that it's really interesting and there's certainly ways to justifiably come up with some 'answers', but the simple answer is, "We really don't know". And I don't mean that in a defeatist way...

So yeah, I'm loving hearing people's thoughts here. But really, I think despite all the information and ideas we can have access too, it's still like shooting in the dark.

This.

Every ride is different. Not to get overly complicated, but so many things can come into play even when we are talking about clones. The clones will be in different environments. They might have different operating calendars and hours. The designer/manufacturer might have used different fabrication companies for each ride. A fabrication company might have used different welders/equipment. Even the steel will technically be different. Rides usually come with material certifications so that a park/manufacturer can trace back what batch of steel was used to fabricate a ride.

So yeah, it's hard to say. It's impossible to say really.

Ok, sorry. That is all.
 
Last edited:

Furiustobaco

Mega Poster
You're all wrong, every coaster is the same, every bit of steel is the same, and every fabrication company are the same.
So i have a set formula that is NEVER wrong, so use this to calculate

The year the coaster was built+the height (in feet) divided by the amount of sausage rolls i've ate today (3), multiplied by the amount of bad Skyline attractions.
 

Indy

Mega Poster
You're all wrong, every coaster is the same, every bit of steel is the same, and every fabrication company are the same.
So i have a set formula that is NEVER wrong, so use this to calculate

The year the coaster was built+the height (in feet) divided by the amount of sausage rolls i've ate today (3), multiplied by the amount of bad Skyline attractions.

This is the stuff I missed by not going to grad school. 😆
 
Top