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Accident at SugarLoaf - Page 5

post #121 of 130
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post


Well, you might very well think that.


I am a software engineer, not a mechanical or electrical engineer. And I don't write code that anyone depends on for safety, thank God. However, my career has given me some minor insights into human nature in this area. Specifically I've seen how good - i.e., UNBELIEVABLY BAD - we generally are at testing things. Testing is a craft that only a very few people are naturally good at. (And those who are are not always the most welcome on the site. "WTF did you just do to my chairlift!?") Most testing misses many scenarios that in hindsight might seem obvious but nevertheless manage not to have been included in the test plan. Not saying there aren't lots of things to be done about it, especially if it's your job to do them and safety is at stake. Just saying it's human nature to be bad at testing, and there is bound to be fallout from that. Actually I'm surprised there's not more.


Well, from what I've heard, because of the magnitude of the consequences, tests of the drop dog mechanism are a routine test, generally done every few weeks. I find it really hard to believe just out of the law of averages that 170 chairs could have a binary issue like a wrong switch preventing operation of a safety device for 30 years without it being discovered.


Possibly Partek spec'd an incorrect replacement switch once the original was out of production from a supplier? THAT I could believe, which would then only affect the chairs that had the switch replaced.


Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

News reports say that there is an issue with this particular chairlift and that ....well, here's the ABC News report

Ski Lift Firm Issues Safety Warning After Chairlift Accident

This report is from 5 days ago.  I'm surprised no one has posted it.


170 chairlifts with this gear box issue.  Makes me think.


Its not a gearbox issue. Well, it was, but those do fail from time to time just like car engines throw rods. You can't always predict when their time is up. The defect was in the failure of the drop dog to deploy.

I missed that when I was reading.  I knew better with all my work in the gravel pit but ...ya know. 

post #122 of 130
Did ya work on the crusher? ;-)
post #123 of 130
The Parachutes for the Apollo Command Module Capsule were dropped tested over 120 times. The Apollo 1 fire and deaths of Grissom, Chafee, and White became a huge wake up call that actually made the program.

Get the DvD Moon Machines. Great Engineering and people stories. Possibly the best thing made about Apollo and that's a big field. I could watch it right now. Just great.

It's 5 or 6 segments of about 45 min on different aspects of the program. It should be required viewing in all engineering curriculums. I showed a segment to some high school kids and they insisted on seeing them all.
post #124 of 130
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

I missed that when I was reading.  I knew better with all my work in the gravel pit but ...ya know. 

Well, I'm pretty sure that the resorts that have the others lifts will be more concern about that notice... I sure hope so...

post #125 of 130

Sugarloaf is upgrading brakes and anti-rollback technology on several lifts this summer.


According to the June 25 press release:

Sugarloaf will also launch a new website this summer, devoted exclusively to the topics of chairlift safety and maintenance. The site will feature detailed information on all of Sugarloaf's lifts, updates on maintenance projects, articles on rider safety, and an email "hotline" where guests can submit questions or report any lift-safety concerns. 

"We're strongly committed to lift safety, and part of that is being open and thorough with our communication about that topic," Strand said. "Our hope is that this website will be a conduit for that information, and provide a direct line of communication for our guests."

post #126 of 130

Of the 4 serious lift accidents that I am aware of in Maine, 3 have happened at Sugarloaf.  I sure hope they get their act together.

post #127 of 130

It sounds like Boyne {who operates Sugarloaf under CNL's ownership} is taking the entire lift issue at Sugarloaf very seriously, as they need to, and should. This is a pretty significant undertaking. $800K is going to replace the entire drive terminal on the King Pine Lift. The whole works. Essentially it will be a new lift, operationally, and I hear that there was no reason to consider replacing towers, the bull wheel at the top, etc. A four person fixed grip lift is well suited for that location, IMO. 


The other $500K is earmarked for significant inspection, service , repair and replacement of whatever the six other chairs need. The cynics say it's long overdue, and may be filed as "deferred maintenance."  Others speculate that whatever insurer{s} are involved had significant input with Boyne's risk management and lift operations personnel to come up with the plan. This is obviously serious, as evidenced by the transparency of the planned website dedicated solely to this project. It seems to me as if Boyne and Sugarloaf fully grasp the need to get it done right, and publicly. They want people to feel as if they were listened to, and are safe. 


One of the lifts not mentioned in the release is Bucksaw, which is the oldest of many aging lifts on the hill. It's just to the west of the main detachable quad on the hill, and it runs fromm the base to Bullwinkle's, the lodge at the top of West Mountain. I believe that Bucksaw is scheduled to be replaced, and that will probably be sorted out when CNL sells their ownership interest, and things are stabilized in terms of who'll be owning and operating the area long term. Lots of guessing going on there. Every bit of the terrain served by Bucksaw can be accessed by the quad. I'm wondering if it was an oversight in the release, or what the plan is for the coming season. Bucksaw was the first chairlift installed on the mountain, to basically compliment the terrain served by the old gondola and multitude of Tbars. That will tell you how old it is. I bet it's 40 years old?


Many of these lifts serve specific purposes, and don't get much use. Snubber is an older fixed triple, and it's used to get people up the hill to the base area, from the condo's and homes below the base that are ski-in, ski-out. Sawduster is a fixed double that does the same, originally built to serve the old Sugarloaf Inn. West Mountain has some more skiable terrain {including some woods|, but it's on the far West side of the hill and has historically only run during weekends and vacation weeks, to get homeowners there up the hill to then ski down to the base area. It gets very little use, as you can get to the base area by shuttle bus much faster than king down to the base of that lift, and riding it up. Skidway is a now ancient double that serves just the bunny hill. Very short lift. These are all lifts that if mechanically reliable,and prettied up with some paint, etc. could serve SL well for some time. I don't think new lifts there do a thing to enhance the experience. But reliable, and "restored" vintage would be good. 


Timberline runs up the West side to the summit. The lift is a twin of King Pine,and was shut down for the season after the KP incident. I believe that they discovered a drive shaft if rough shape, among other things when they tore into it. Fully rebuilt, that should be fine. It operates low to the ground, the chairs are very heavy, and it probably does as good a job as possible for the location. It was the original Wiffletree chair, moved to it's present location. The weather and wind there is brutal for a lot of the season. So, again, not sure if a reliable well run existing lift can really be improved on. 


That leaves four other significant lifts, most in the middle of the mountain. Double Runner is actually two fixed doubles that run side by side, one with a bit longer run up the hill, to the bottom of the T-Bar that runs along side Narrow Gauge through the woods. Pretty essential lift for heavy wind days. Both sides of DR bring you to the bottom of Skyline {the West side has the longer run past that mid station. Skyline is the newest lift, having replaced the old Spillway chairs, after the derailment of five years ago. Seems to be a great lift for the location a conveyor loading Dopplemayer.  


The other lift is Wiffletree, a high speed quad on the east side of the hill. Gives you access to the base of King Pine, to the base of Skyline, or more gentle low intermediate, and beginner terrain to the base. I'm guessing that there's no concern about that lift. I can't recall the age or builder, but it seems to do the jib. 


My hunch is that Bucksaw and the two DR's might be on the list to be replaced, and/or may have already had the replacement work done that's planned for the others, at least in the case of the two DR's. Would be curious if anybody else knows, as they were absent from the announcement.


My gut tells me that when SL opens for the season, the lifts will all be running well, and that the general public will be assured that they are as safe as any in the business. In fact, they may prove to be safer, as a lot of money is going into this. If they find that it's going to cost twice that $500K figure, they keep going to get it right, I assume. They frankly have no choice but to get this right. 


Maineac, I was trying to recall the third lift accident that you mentioned, and I'm coming up blank. I can just think of the KP rollback this spring, and the Spillway derailment. What was the third? Just curious. I must be spacing on that…..


Sugarloaf is kind of a case study of a great mountain, great terrain, with a lot of challenges presented by a remote location {and a rabid following all skiing on cheap season passes, etc.}……and aging lifts. Some of them are located and used in ways that it would hard to make a business case for replacing them. Hence this plan, I assume. 


But yes, glad to see the announcement, and assuming that they will absolutely pay attention to every detail and more.    

post #128 of 130

Thanks for the very thorough write up.


Gondola 1987


The 4th one I was referring to was at Big Squaw in Greenville


There is a great deal of time between the Gondola accident and the two recent chairlift accidents, but it is still part of the mountains history and I would hope provide added motivation to be safety conscious.


I don't keep my ear to ground on these things; Muleski have you heard anything about the sale?  Is Boyne's management contract up in the air if the sale goes through?

post #129 of 130
Originally Posted by Maineac View Post



I don't keep my ear to ground on these things; Muleski have you heard anything about the sale?  Is Boyne's management contract up in the air if the sale goes through?

For more about the CNL sale of all the ski area holdings:


Boyne will continue operational management regardless of who owns the property.

post #130 of 130

Thanks that is good news 

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