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Sep
29

The 5-Year Elevator Physical

Weight CartsI hate 5-year load tests. From the blank stare I get from the mechanic when I ask him to get the pull-out force to cars slamming into overhead equipment on counterweight buffer tests- they suck. I also get blamed for the damage they cause as if I sat on the state board writing the law requiring them or in the ASME code committee writing the testing procedures.

Oh yeah, I did a load test today. This particular test was at a building with a 1952 installation (with some mods). I generally like old equipment. I think it’s pretty cool to see a piece of working machinery that is more than twice my age. Testing them is a different story. These cars have been through 58 years of testing and use and they show it.

Of the eight cars that were there, the safeties worked on three of them. Three. The fundamental last line of defense that needs not the help of electricity to perform has been AWOL for who knows how many years (one of the more experienced inspectors looked at it five years ago). Also, all but one of the cars gracefully crashed into the pit when 125% of capacity was placed in them. I’ve never written fail so many times as I have today.

Autotronic lobby panelAs I do so many times during load tests, I walk around the lobby aimlessly while the mechanic repairs the damage done by the last test. These units were among the first Autotronics. The Otis Autotronic elevator was one of the first acceptable automatic elevators installed – the first install showing up in 1950. It’s predecessor was known to sporadically dump you off at a floor you either (a) didn’t want to be at, or (b) wasn’t there (think elevator door opening to brick wall). The Autotronics were the first to feature those door re-open safety edges to which everybody trusts their arms and legs nowadays. It was the first to consider traffic patterns and peak times. The same basic ideas of Autotronic serve society today, only recently being replaced in larger buildings with Compass, Otis’ destination dispatch where you push your floor into a control panel and it tells you which car to board. Look at me knowing my elevator system traffic products. Dr. Peters would be proud.

On a random (and closing) note, I like old gearless machines. They are powerful, fast, big, have a lot of ropes, and generally look cooler. This one looked like it had a periscope and was wearing a welding mask.

1952 Otis Gearless Machine

5 comments

  1. VXO says:

    I’ve seen those same Otis gearless machines before… they’re very quiet. What is up with the snorkel – is that a blower to force extra cooling air through the motor? The ones I’ve seen didn’t have the blower and the noise level from the machine was similar to, but quieter than, my laptop computer. Amazing.

    1. daniel says:

      YES! that is a blower for the motor. Nowadays, we see these with modernized controllers that require the machine room to be air conditioned which makes these “snorkels” obsolete.

      This application in particular was modernized with solid state controllers and an a/c unit was added to the machine room but the blowers were left on the motors. They are disconnected electrically, however.

  2. Robert Reis says:

    I like the way you write. What an interesting job, and for the public so very important. My close friend is a Dover/Thyssen mechanic. And I have seen some interesting things as well. Yur right about gearless….they ARE impressive. Got any old Haughton stories?
    Thanks for the stories.

    1. daniel says:

      No Haughton stories I can think of. I’ve inspected mainly in the City of Houston area and amongst the older jobs I remember, I can only think of one or two Haughtons – and they were escalators. I guess they weren’t too popular here?

  3. Emlyn says:

    I’ve seen those same Otis gearless machines before… they’re very quiet. What is up with the snorkel – is that a blower to force extra cooling air through the motor? The ones I’ve seen didn’t have the blower and the noise level from the machine was similar to, but quieter than, my laptop computer. Amazing.
    +1

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