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Detachable lift technology: A Primer

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I posted this over at AlpineZone, and a member requested that I post it here as well. So here you go!


I know that some of you are fascinated by lifts, and in particular, the technology of a detachable. I figured I would put together a few pics with a brief explanation of each. Feel free to ask any questions you'd like. These images might help give you a better idea of how these machines work. The images in this thread are of a modern detachable setup, and are not representative of older technology.

Descriptions are ABOVE photos.

This is the motor room of a very large detachable quad. You can see most of the major components of the lift system in this image:



This is the motor, or the Prime Mover. The high speed shaft comes out of the prime mover, and you can see the flywheel, which leads into the gearbox (the vertical blue thing in the far right of the photo). Gearboxes in most modern lift installations are complex planetary gearsets. Out of the bottom of the gearbox, the low speed shaft leads to the bullwheel (not shown in picture).



The shot below is the bullwheel. In a detachable lift, the bullwheel diameter is smaller than the line gauge, and so the haul rope must be deflected by sheaves (not shown) into the smaller diameter of the bullwheel. In this photo, you can also see the bullwheel brake and the rollback brake (the clamp-like red things on either side of the photo:



This is the power take off (PTO), that powers the accel/decel tire banks. The force of the haul rope is transferred to a series of pulleys by a bank of sheave wheels, which connect to the pulleys via belts. These PTO pulleys connect to the pulleys that drive the tire banks.



Here is an image of the belt drive tire system. The pulleys that drive the tires are geared by using differing sizes and belts. The friction plate on top of the grip on each chair is driven by the tires in the terminal (it is not longer attached to the haul rope). The rate of decel/accel depends on the ratios of the pulleys. This is how the ramp down/ramp up occurs, and it is synchronized with the line speed via the PTO system as described above (and shown also in the right side of this photo).



This is an electrical/electronic panel being constructed and wired at the Leitner-Poma factory in Grand Junction, CO. Don't ask how it works. Monkeys and mirrors, and a little smoke.



Same as above.



This is an operators' panel (for drive station) being constructed at the L-POA factory. This is the circuitry and controls that operators and mechanics use for regular operations.




Well, hopefully you learned something! Ski lifts are fascinating pieces of equipment!
post #2 of 16
Now I don't feel so bad about lift ticket prices.

That's a formidable bundle of technology and steel.

We've come a long way from a Model T engine and axle (first rope tows).
post #3 of 16
Awesome and thanks......the only thing is, now something that I thought was relatively simple all of a sudden seems more complicated than a 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post
Awesome and thanks......the only thing is, now something that I thought was relatively simple all of a sudden seems more complicated than a 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission.
My pleasure!

But no, lifts are definitely not simple... in fact, there is a federal apprenticeship program for lift maintenance that requires over 4000 hours on the job, and several hundred hours of related classroom instruction. There's a lot to these machines!
post #5 of 16
Any idea what one of these puppies is priced at?
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato View Post
Any idea what one of these puppies is priced at?
If you have to ask....
post #7 of 16
The new hybrid lift (Chondola) that they are installing at Sunday River is estimated to cost $7Million.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiDeC58 View Post
The new hybrid lift (Chondola) that they are installing at Sunday River is estimated to cost $7Million.
Where's that going, and when will it be up an running?
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post
Where's that going, and when will it be up an running?
It is running from the South Ridge base area to the top of North Peak (Near the Peak Lodge).

It is supposed to be runnig this season. It should be operational by Christmas. Towers are in place. Construction is underway.

Check it out:

http://chondola.com
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiDeC58 View Post
It is running from the South Ridge base area to the top of North Peak (Near the Peak Lodge).

It is supposed to be runnig this season. It should be operational by Christmas. Towers are in place. Construction is underway.

Check it out:

http://chondola.com
Interesting...

Would have been cool to be around for the tower installation though.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushMogulMaster View Post
My pleasure!

But no, lifts are definitely not simple... in fact, there is a federal apprenticeship program for lift maintenance that requires over 4000 hours on the job, and several hundred hours of related classroom instruction. There's a lot to these machines!
Is there any money to be made in lift maintenance?

If I'm ever looking for a career change, that sounds like an interesting path.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumpy View Post
Is there any money to be made in lift maintenance?

If I'm ever looking for a career change, that sounds like an interesting path.
There's money to be made as a lift electrician, absolutely. And you could make a pretty good wage as a mechanic as well.

One thing is certain: job security! There is quite a demand for dedicated lift mechanics and electricians right now, and you'd almost be guaranteed a job as long as you want it.

If you put in a couple years, do a great job, and demonstrate leadership skills, you could make some money as a lift maintenance manager. Depending on the part of the country, you could see 6 digits if you're qualified enough. I don't have the salary survey in front of me, but the range, I believe, is something like $60K-$100K for lift maintenance manager (again, dependent upon experience, area, etc.).
post #13 of 16
The pictures and descriptions in this thread should give folks a clue about why desiring your hill to replace lifts with modern detachables might have serious consequences you don't intend.

BushMogulMaster, could you please comment on the capital and operating cost differences for some typical scenario...new fixed grip versus new detachable?
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
The pictures and descriptions in this thread should give folks a clue about why desiring your hill to replace lifts with modern detachables might have serious consequences you don't intend.

BushMogulMaster, could you please comment on the capital and operating cost differences for some typical scenario...new fixed grip versus new detachable?
These figures are difficult to pinpoint. For example, it would cost less to install and operate a 60hp detachable that is 600 feet long on a beginner slope than it would a fixed grip with a 500hp prime mover on steep terrain covering 2500 feet.

And as far as capital is concerned, it's all over the place dependent upon your specific setup.

There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter lift. Each and every lift installation is engineered and designed 100% for the specific project. A big lift is an 8 month project for the manufacturer.

But you're definitely looking at a substantially greater capital investment when you install a detach. Millions and millions of dollars.

They are more expensive to operate as a result of larger components and more electricity consumption. Some tiny portion of that is made up, though, by the fact that it takes fewer attendants to operate (i.e. no one has to bump chairs).

Detachables are substantially more expensive to maintain, because there are lots of parts that wear or fail. Friction plates, tires, belts, RPDs, etc. For example, ONE tire as shown in the images above costs, IIRC, about $175. Now think about replacing several hundred of those on a regular basis (depending on the type and the use).

So I didn't exactly answer your question, but I think I gave you the general idea of the difference between installing, operating, and maintaining FG vs. DG.
post #15 of 16
That was just the answer I was looking for, thank you.

When I see expensive detachable lifts with low load factors it makes me cringe a bit.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
That was just the answer I was looking for, thank you.

When I see expensive detachable lifts with low load factors it makes me cringe a bit.
It IS somewhat disturbing to look at a, say, $7MM installation that is only running at 30-40% capacity. Makes you scratch your head a little. But that's the nature of the beast sometimes.
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