Sunday, June 17, 2018

Water damage in elevator pits

In the Chicago area we just got hit with a weekend of storms that compounded our already wet spring.  For most buildings we take care of the elevator pit which is the lowest point in most buildings.  This translates to being the point in the building that water is most likely going to accumulate.  One of the reasons elevator maintenance contractors are proponents of having monthly maintenance visits is so we can check to see if your elevator pit is dry.

[This is a bad pit that has water exposure]

[This elevator's muffler is about to let loose after years of water exposure]

[Years of humidity pitting the piston which will in turn damage any packing you put in]

[Years of humidity rusting the top of the piston]

[If the water gets too high it will go into the packing and contaminate the hydrualic fluid]

[Dormant building that had water]

[Water got so high it got through the platform and started rusting the car station]

[Rusty platform - this is what you stand on]

[The hydraulic line may have been compromised]

[Something useful once was in the electrical boxes]

[This didn't happen overnight - water entry point]

[Sill support angle is in bad shape]

Take away – A few things to pay mind to

1.    Make sure your elevator contractor is coming on a regular basis
2.    If you hear strange noises underneath your elevator like water, call your elevator contractor
3.    If your elevator contractor notices water have them do an analysis of your elevator pit equipment.
4.    Work with your elevator contractor to ensure your sump pump is working properly
5.    There are sealing solutions available through a few different vendors with a few different methods; membrane & injection are two.
6. Make sure your elevator contractor is coming on a regular basis

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Associa Cares – Casino Night 6/8/18

On Friday June 8th, 2018 Associa Property Management had their annual casino night to benefit their charitable arm Associa Cares.  Colley Elevator was a proud partner of this event sponsoring a gaming table and attending the event.  It was a great event with table games, music, silent auction & raffle.  As the night went on the stakes got higher and the more fun was had.

Associa Cares provides charitable support to those people and communities that have been struck by natural and man-made disasters.

This is also a time where we get to mix with property managers and board members.  It is always great to see the property managers who we communicate with over the phone and email in person every now and then to see there is an actual person behind the name or the phone number.   I heard “I know you”, “Oh! You’re Craig”, “you guys take care of these building’s for me”, etc.  With today’s technology we are speaking on the phone less and less and relying on technology for communication so it is always great to see everyone!

This was a great evening and I’m glad we participated.  Had some fun, played some games and connected with existing relationships and made some new ones.  I won some silent auctions and the money is going to great cause.  

For more information -

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

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Chicago elevator maintenance, service, modernization & new construction

After doing this blog for the last 4 years it is hard to come up with new material.  This I’m kind of excited about because it was a busy week and these are only a few things we did as a company, reflecting back as a whole it was a interesting week!  It is so easy to document almost everything we do, this is some of the action this week.

This is a photo of the temperature dropping 30[90+ to 60] degrees during the evening and driving into the City in the mid morning for a meeting.

A picture of a new machine we are installing on a 1920’s elevator system that is being modernized.  It was modernized sometime in the 1980’s we are doing it a 2nd time this year with replacing everything but the rails and platform/cab.   It is always great to see a HWEC machine with the Colley name on it, it will never get old.

The motor went on the west elevator, you cannot see the motor placement, but it is a dry unit with the motor obstructed by the hydraulic line.

I have grown to have a deep appreciation for the data tags on cross heads when doing engineering on modernization.  I have also grown a deep distaste for people who do not pay attention and change the equipment without updating the tag or removing the tag.  Every time I see one of these tags it is a beautiful thing!  This building we are replacing the cylinder.

This was a special delivery from one of our hydraulic cylinder vendors.  It appears that the shipping company dragged this head across the entire shipping facility to get it ground down this much.

This is from a basement machine we are working that is 2:1 and we are scratching our heads trying to find a home for the rope gripper.

Parking garage elevator that smelled like a parking garage elevator but has significant deterioration on the hatch doors.

New construction hoistway waiting for a well driller to put a hole down.

This is a picture of a project where we are installing a new cylinder and power unit on a freight elevator.  4th out of 4 cars we have to do.  Lots of drums of sand!

This is only some of the things that I was a part of this week.  We had a crazy week with projects, overtime calls, service calls, etc.  It was a wild one!  Here is to everyone who helped make it a success!!!

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

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Hydraulic elevator modernization – Arlington Heights, IL

This was a hydraulic elevator control modernization we did in Arlington Heights, IL.  I think it is always really interesting to see before and after pictures of these projects to see how dramatic the building’s elevator system change.

Current elevator system – The current elevator system is an ESCO elevator that was installed in 1969 by Gallagher & Speck.  This elevator system while historically has been very reliable has worn out its welcome with the building with nuisance service calls and interruptions.  The issues this particular elevator is experiencing is typical with a 49 year old elevator system.

New equipment suppliers
            Elevator controller – Smartrise Engineering
            Door operator – GAL MOVFR II
            Fixtures – Innovation Industries
            Hydraulic power unit – MEI w/Maxton UC4 Valve

Elevator control system – The old relay based ESCO elevator controller has been replaced with a new solid state Smartrise Engineering hydraulic control system.  As you can see some major control components have been replaced over the years.

[Old Esco controller]

[New Smartrise hydraulic elevator controller]
Elevator door operator – The existing elevator’s door operator is a GAL MOD which is all mechanical based door operator with resistor & mechanical cam door controller.  The new GAL MOVFR II is a solid state closed loop door operator which is a direct replacement.  Mod team did a great job painting the car top.

[Car top before modernization]

[Car top after modernization]

Elevator fixtures – The old ESCO elevator fixtures have been replaced with new ADA compliant elevator fixtures.  Note, the larger 1st floor hall fixture has code required devices such as Fireman’s recall phase I and the emergency elevator telephone monitoring.

[Old Esco car station]

[New Innovation car station]

[Old Esco 1st floor hall station]

[New Innovation 1st floor hall station]

Hydraulic power unit – The old ESCO dry power unit has had a Maxton UC4 valve installed in the 1980’s sometime will be replaced with a new MEI submersible hydraulic power unit with a Maxton UC4 valve.  The new submersible power unit has less expensive and easier to access replacement parts.

[Old Esco pump, motor & valve]

[New MEI submersible power unit w/Maxton UC 4 valve]

Machine room - Great new look with the new equipment.  

[Old machine room]

[New machine room layout]

Take away – While elevator modernization is very expensive you can see form the before and after pictures that this project made a world of difference between the old equipment and the new equipment.

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

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Chicago Elevator Association [CEA] – Night at the Races

The Chicago Elevator Association [CEA] is the longest running elevator association in the country.  Each year they offer several scholarship opportunities for a minimum of four $500 scholarships to students pursuing a post-secondary degree. Any daughter, son, stepchild or grandchild of a CEA member in good standing is eligible.

This years event was at the Hawthorne Race Track – Cicero, IL.

The CEA is such a great organization to be a member of and this event bolsters their commitment to not only bettering the elevator industry but those who have children moving forward in their education that are a part of our elevator industry.   This event was a good time for a good cause

If you didn’t apply this year, there will be a next year, get your applications in!!!

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

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Proprietary elevator controls Vs. Non-proprietary elevator controls

As an independent elevator contractor, we do a lot of educating of building owners on what type of elevator control system to purchase.   As independent elevator contractor we spend a lot of time talking about proprietary vs. non-proprietary elevator equipment. 

We will talk about both proprietary and non-proprietary elevator systems

Definition of proprietary - As an adjective, belonging to ownership; owned by a particular person; belonging or pertaining to a proprietor; relating to a certain owner or proprietor. Proprietary refers to ownership or characteristics relating to ownership.

What proprietary means to an elevator owner?  This means that the XYZ company who installs this equipment owns the ability to discriminate service tools, technical support and parts for the elevator system.  Legally the elevator contractor has to supply parts for the elevator system but they do not need assist in troubleshooting or sell the diagnostic system[even if the diagnostic tool technically belongs to the elevator owner when they purchase the elevator].

Examples of proprietary elevator systems – Otis, Kone, Schindler, Thyssen Krupp[to name a few].

[Otis 211 elevator controller - proprietary]

[Schindler 330A elevator controller - proprietary]

[Kone KCM elevator controller - proprietary]

[Thyssen Krupp TAC 20 elevator controller - proprietary]

[Thyssen Krupp TAC 32 elevator controller - proprietary]

Maintenance costs of proprietary systems – maintenance costs of proprietary systems are usually higher then non-proprietary systems.  The reason the costs are higher is that there is a less supply of contractors who will work on proprietary equipment.  Less supply of service providers = higher prices.

Definition of non-proprietary - not registered or protected as a trademark or brand name; generic.
(especially of computer hardware or software) conforming to standards that are in the public domain or are widely licensed, and so not restricted to one manufacturer.)

What proprietary means to an elevator owner?  It means that anyone and everyone that is qualified to work on elevators has access to software, diagnostic systems & technical support.  More flexibility with an open architecture plan.

Maintenance costs of non-proprietary systems – Maintenance costs for a non-proprietary elevator system will most likely be less because you will have a larger supplly of contractors willing to work on the elevator system.  More supply of service providers = Lower prices.

Examples of non-proprietary elevator systems – MCE, Smartrise, GAL, Vertitron Midwest, Virginia Controls, Elevator Systems, Elevator Controls among others.

[MCE elevator controller - non-proprietary]

[Smartrise elevator controller - non-proprietary]

What is the best thing to do as a building owner or property manager?  Educate yourself on what is being sold to you.  I walk into meetings with educated people who are mystified with this elevator bid process and they have no idea what they are buying.  I hear “The Multinational corporation guy brought us fancy folders and had a flashy presentation and said “I promised you anyone can work on our equipment””.  I have to spend time explaining what the pros and cons are for each elevator system are.  And when the building owner hears that the proprietary systems do not supply technical support on their system, they begin thinking about it long and hard. My opinion is that there is nothing to gain by tying yourself to one vendor with a proprietary system.  If you have elevator company ABC install your controller, in 5 years if you don’t like ABC you would like to flexibility to hire company DEF, or company HIJ or whomever.  Non-proprietary systems gives you this flexibility. 

Note - As far as quality all of the elevator systems listed in this post are good operating platforms, the take away is how much flexibility do you want as an owner of equipment in the future to insulate yourself from a non competitive market place for elevator maintenance.

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

Sunday, May 6, 2018

IAEC[International Association of Elevator Consultants] annual forum– Chicago, IL – April 25th-28th 2018

One of the cool things I get to do as the President of the NAEC[National Association of Elevator Contractors] is to attend the IAEC annual forum.  I have never been to this and was excited to get to experience it for myself.  The IAEC is the International Association of Elevator Consultants. 

I attended the opening night reception and vendor booth visitation.  I had just seen a majority of the vendors in Carlsbad California at the NAEC Spring Conference but this time they had a table top set up to show their products.  I also got to talk with some old industry friends and met Paul Rosenberg who is a consultant in the Milwaukee area.  Colley Elevator used to install Rosenberg equipment many moons ago so it was pretty cool to meet someone who has a link to that because we still have some Rosenberg equipment on maintenance and some artifacts around the shop.  There was also a silent auction to benefit the EESF.

Janus line seizing device - this can be used when you had multiple elevators that share the same phone line or to reduce the number of phone lines.  You have to buy the seizing device as well as replace the car station phone.

MEI/Vertitron's mobile app - Steve from Vertitron showed me the new mobile device that will work on any newer elevator controller that will allow you to make calls from you phone.  We don't run into this very often but once in a while we do get a request so it is good to know there is a source.

Wednesday began the education part of the forum.  I did not attend this because I was away for 4 days the previous week and have a day job and saw a majority of the continuing ed in California.  They had some great topics about oil analysis, freight doors, dumbwaiters and platform lifts, Elevator World gave the State of the Elevator Industry address among other things.  During the evening they had an event at the Untitled Super Club which was a unique experience.  During the dinner I got to talk to a number of consultants and suppliers about some interesting industry topics.

Thursday was more education and vendor visits.

I had two very long days 6am to getting home at 10pm but this was a very cool event that I’m glad I got to be a part of.  I saw familiar faces and met some new ones.  We are all a part of such a niche industry so it is great seeing people who share the passion as much as I do.  While anyone can call themselves an Elevator Consultant, when you meet some of the really good ones, it is very impressive on their breadth of knowledge and experience.   

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