Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hydraulic elevator overdue for elevator modernization – Now out of service

I went to a building that was built in 1967-1969 +/- the elevator had been shut down for a few weeks. 

I am fully aware no one wants to spend money on modernizing their elevator system but the elevator along with the roof, windows, carpet, hvac, fire alarms, tuck pointing, etc are all items that are very important to buildings.  In the elevator’s case building user’s mobility and resale value of the condominiums that are for sale in this building. 

This building was in a good part of Chicago, great location, great address but the elevator was out of service in need of major repairs.  Not much had been done to this elevator in the last 47-50 years.

 [Old Montgomery Elevator controller]

  [This elevator cylinder should have been replaced by 1/1/13 per City of Chicago hydraulic cylinder single bottom mandate]

  [Old MAC door operator - it has served the building well - time for retirement]

  [Non ADA car station - Not necessary but a great idea]

 [This is a vanilla pump and motor but what you cannot see is a very old Montgomery valve]

Take away – If you own a building[apartments or condo] or manage a building get information on all your major expenses i.e. reserve studies.  Yes, a reserve study does cost money but a building owner needs to be prepared.  This building owner is looking at over $100,000.00 in elevator repairs which I’m sure they were not expecting.  Make a call/email to your elevator company to get information on your elevator’s future expenses.  If you are in the Chicago area and your current contractor is too busy to get you this information, get in touch with us, we will make time for you.

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Elevator maintenance records – Machine room

All elevators are subject to have maintenance information to be on site which include.  Please note that all items need to be current.

1.    Maintenance records
2.    Call back logs
3.    Maintenance Control Plan [MCP]
4.    Fireman’s recall exercising records
5.    Oil log
6.    Testing records

The debate of onsite versus accessible is a consistent discussion in code meetings and different association meetings.  My opinion of this is that if someone walks into a machine room and doesn’t find any records or information there needs to be a means access to this information immediately[I have not seen a good solution for this besides hard copies].  The people who are entitled to the information are elevator mechanics, elevator consultants, elevator inspectors and other elevator personnel[including sales people].

Does a sticker work?  - In my opinion the “1-800-Call-ABC elevator” phone line sticker does no work because #1 many times a MCP doesn’t exist, #2 they will not send maintenance and call back records immediate upon request[I have tried], #3 if a person has a non smartphone or there is no reception in the machine room they cannot get the information.

Does a CD work? – In my opinion a CD does not work because 99.9% of elevator personnel do not carry laptops with a CD rom drive with them into a machine room.

What works? – Hard copies of all the items listed meet code requirements.

Whose responsibility is this? – The building owner bears the responsibility for this requirement but they hire an elevator contractor to fulfill the responsibility.

How long do records need to be kept? – The elevator code says 5 years,  AHJ’s[Authority Having Jurisdiction] may require longer i.e. 7 to 10 years.

Take away – This requirement has been brushed off, pushed off and differed for many years because it will take a significant amount of resources to complete. If one contractor can complete this, every contractor can complete this task, it just takes time.  Make sure your elevator service provider is providing your building with the correct information in the machine room.

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Traction elevator modernization – Chicago, IL

This is a continuation of the post from a few weeks ago.  This was a duplex traction project with Westinghouse equipment.  We retained the machines and replaced pretty much everything else on the elevator[electrically and mechanically].   As mentioned in the previous post there was involvement of 12 people on Colley’s side from the first call from the building owner to the final inspection.  When we reflect on the start and completion of jobs it is amazing that while someone sells the job and the installers install the equipment we forget all of the other people involved to make the project go smooth.  There is some credit for the building as well as they always have a scope of work to complete as well; electrical disconnects, fire system, security system. This was truly a team effort.  Thank you everyone!

Major components used
Controller – Smartrise
Motors – Imperial flange mount
Fixtures – Innovation Industries
Door operator – GAL
Safeties & governor – Hollister Whitney
Cables – Brugg via PSI

Control system

  [Old Westinghouse Controller w/generators]

 [Lots of relays, lots of failure points]

 [New Smartrise controls]

  [Old machine room]

 [New machine room]


  [Old Westinhouse car station]

 [New Innovation car station with card reader]

 [Old Westinghouse first floor hall station]

 [New first floor hall station with digital position indicators]
Door equipment

  [Old Westinghouse belt driven door operator]

 [New GAL MOVFR II door operator]

  [Old Westinghouse car and door equipment]

 [New GAL car and door equipment]


  [Old Westinghouse safeties]

 [New Hollister Whitney safeties ]

There was also a building lobby fire panel installed for this project.

Every project has its own challenges when you are working with one manufacturers equipment and replacing it with a new manufacturers equipment with clearances and mounting.  At the end of the project everything fit, works well and turned out great!

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Hydraulic elevator modernization – Chicago, IL

We just completed a two-car hydraulic elevator modernization in Chicago, IL.  Both of the elevators had been long overdue for a modernization, probably about 10-15 years.  I like seeing before and after pictures of the elevator systems so you can see the significant difference.  The biggest difference is that now both elevators are running reliably for the building. Before we modernized the equipment one elevator was shut down and the other was shutting down every day.

Major components used

Controller – MCE w/Siemens soft start
Fixtures – Innovation Industries
Door operator – GAL MOVFR II
Power unit – MEI w/Maxton UC 4 valve
Cylinder – EECO

Control system

[Old control system was kept together with paper clips and bubblegum]

[New MCE control system will have on-board diagnostics and the ability for easier and quicker troubleshooting]


 [Old EPCO car station with limited features]

 [New ADA compliant car station with digital PI and much more functionality]

 [Old EPCO hall station]

[New ADA hall station with position indicator and appendix O "in case of fire"] 

Door operator

 [Old MAC operator with a ceiling that was water damaged]

[New GAL MOVFR II door operator with new ceiling] 

Power unit

 [Old "dry" power unit with a newer EECO UV5 valve with pump and motor installed vertically - very difficult to replace a pump or motor]

[New MEI power unit in a nice black submersible box with Maxton UC4]

 [Old cylinder & neglected pit]

[New EECO cylinder w/ buffers cleaned up and painted] 

Take away – The take away from this is that if you are a building owner with aging equipment if you modernize the elevator sooner than later you will alleviate many of the headaches and expenses that come with aging elevators.  While cost is always a concern, typically building owners spend more over the time with repairs to an aging elevator system hoping they can get “some more time” out of the original system.  

Follow us on twitter +Colley Elevator 

Chicago Elevator Association meeting on Thursday, April 6th in Oak Brook, IL at The Clubhouse.  More info

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

National Association of Elevator Contractors[NAEC] Spring Conference 2017 - Scottsdale, AZ

We are wrapping up the NAEC spring conference in Scottsdale Arizona.  It has been a great few days of learning and networking.  The National Association of Elevator Contractors is the largest trade organization for elevator contractors and suppliers in North America.

The conference started on Sunday March 26th with a Board of Directors meeting where we work on the organizations direction and keep things moving.  After the BOD meeting we had a great contractor member session which included 50-60 different elevator contractors from around the country discussing topics that affect them; MCP, MRLs, inspection requirements and OEM issues amount other topics.

[Board of Directors in session]

Monday started off with the opening breakfast then moved on to a great presentation from Imperial Electric talking about their motors and machines.  We moved on to some HR information on new employment laws and finished the day with a open mic hosted by Craig Zomchek.  At the open mic we batted around a lot of topics from contractors and suppliers across the country.

[Imperial Electrics presentation]
 [Karen Hopkins HR presentation]
 [My favorite session of the conference]

Tuesday started off with a few options, best roping methods and a leadership presentation.  The next set of programs where roped hydraulic maintenance and hot oil jobs by MEI as well as SEO by Google.  Next up was a NAEC safety panel discussion.  There was a rack & pinion elevator presentation that I missed.

 [Leadership presentation]

[MEI presentation]

Wednesday had round tables with discussions on traveling cable and compensation, chair installation, healthy pit environment, private residence lift code changes, new hire safety orientation, business system conversion, home elevator installations and NAECs VTMP.

[VTMP round table discussion]

There was a lot of golf and a few receptions and a lot of fun!  There was quite a bit to do so I missed some items that where featured during the educational conference.  Next year will be Carlsbad, CA.

If you have any questions or would like any additional information please email me at  You can always go to for more information on the National Association of Elevator Contractors.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Elevator Fireman’s automatic recall and Fireman’s service Phase I & II [FEO]

We have been getting more and more questions about FEO[Firefighters emergency operation].  I wanted to put a better posting together to show the different items that encompass FEO.  For this purpose it is to explain what fire equipment is needed for modernization of a control system.


Fireman’s service phase I – This is the key switch on the main floor that will recall the elevator to the floor.  The intention is to bring the elevator to the main landing to give access to the elevator to emergency personnel.  This key switch is provided by the elevator contractor during a modernization.

Fireman’s service phase II – This is the key switch in the elevator that when initiated will allow emergency personnel to use the elevator.  All hall calls are disabled, the elevator can only be operated from the car station inside the elevator.

Automatic recall – This is when the elevator is hooked to smoke detectors.  When a fire detector goes off the elevator will “recall” to the appropriate floor.  I.E. if the main lobby fire recall detector goes off the elevator will “recall” away from the main lobby floor and stay there with the doors open, no one can call or use the elevator[with exception of emergency personnel].  If a fire recall detector goes off on the 7th floor the elevator would “recall” to the main landing and stay there with the doors open, no one can call or use the elevator.

What fire equipment does the fire control company need?

1.    Fire recall detector at each landing
2.    Fire recall detector in the machine room
3.    Relays in the elevator machine room
4.    Annunciator somewhere in the building[look for direction from the fire panel company]
5.    If you have sprinklers in the machine room you will need a heat detector and shunt trip
6.    If you have sprinklers in the hoistway you will need a heat detector, if you have a heat detector you need a smoke detector.  If you have a heat detector you will need a shunt trip.

[Fire detector outside of each hoist way entrance]

[Phase I key switch in hall way - This is a City of Chicago location in door frame]

[Phase II operation with closed door]

[Phase II operation with open door showing fire controls]

[Fire relays in machine room - Provided by fire control panel company]

[On left fire control panel provided by fire control panel company]

*In the City of Chicago, it has been permitted in the past to be hooked to sprinkler flow switches.

Guidance form AHJ[Authority Having Jurisdiction] – If you live in AHJ that is open to giving direction I would recommend having your fire panel company get information on what they need to do from them.  At times the AHJ will require additional work, strobes and pull stations.  Any additional scope of work is up to the AHJ’s Fire Prevention Bureau as they have authority on this item.  Get the AHJ’s requirements in writing!  You don’t want any surprises after you start the elevator project because a new Fire Chief starts and doesn’t know the conversation you had with the previous Fire Chief.

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Chicago Elevator Modernization – Machine modernization

I was blown away by the look of the machine room after we completed the elevator modernization.  The final touches took a little bit of extra time but everything turned out very nice.  This was a project where we replaced the controllers, motors, cables, governors, fixtures, door equipment[including tracks], and installed a fire panel.  

This is a project that had more than 12 people work on it from start to finish between selling it, engineering it, delivery, accounting, project management, installation and adjusting.  1 or 2 people do not make a project go well, an entire team makes a project go well.  I'm proud to have been one part of this project.

More pictures of the full project to come. 



If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.