Saturday, October 27, 2018

How long should an elevator hydraulic valve last?

How long should a hydraulic control valve last? This is a very good question.  The valve manufacturer states that their valve will last 10-15 years.  Many buildings keep their valves as long as 30-45 years.  The issue with keeping your control valve longer than recommended is you can have reliability issues and leakage. 

Reliability/control – When we have valve reliability issues we cannot control the elevator which means the elevator will not level properly.  We can start to see shut downs or trip and falls when the valve is having reliability issues.

Leakage – A valves parts will begin to leak and this will also cause leveling issues but it will also create a oily mess when it is leaking on the tank or on the floor.

We have elevator control valve manufacturers saying change your valve every 10-15 years, buildings keep their valves sometimes 30-45 years.  We have a huge disparity between these numbers.  Each building’s usage, environment and oil maintenance[replacement, filtration, tank cleaning] is different.  A sleepy building’s elevator valve could last a lot longer than a valve in a hospital or nursing home.  You should consult your elevator contractor on how long your valve will last as there is a safety issue and reliability issues when your control valve is not operating properly.

Here are some pictures of a few building’s I have been to in the last week.  All the buildings have the same elevator, Otis early 1970’s vintage power unit. 

 [This is the original control valve, it appears the elevator contractor is trying to identify where the leaking is coming from or dressing it up for Halloween.  This valve needs to be replaced]

[This control valve has been replaced[not by Colley] but they put the adjustments right up against a pipe so it is very difficult to work on, this probably was faster to install but not easy to work on in the future]

[This is a valve Colley Elevator replaced which took a little extra time to make sure all of the control adjustments are accessible to the elevator mechanic]

Should I replace my oil when I change my control valve? – The answer to this question is yes, unless you have changed your oil recently prior to the valve replacement.  We will address hydraulic oil maintenance in a future post.  Or you can see a post from a few years ago.

If you have any questions or would like additional information feel free to contact me at or 630-766-7230 ext. 107.

Also check us out on Instagram @Colleyelevator see what we have been up to.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Elevator door operator & cylinder replacement – Evanston, IL

We inherited a building about 2 years ago that we found with 2 broken rail brackets and some equipment that had been changed and some that was original.  The building is from late 1960’s/early 1970’s and has a controller that appears to have been replaced in the late 1980’s early 1990’s, power unit was replaced in 2001, original door operator, fixtures & cylinder.

When we took the building on for maintenance the building had high expectations of reliability so when we had a few shut downs and there was some push back about the reliability we recommended replacement of their equipment.  We had previously been to the building in 2004, 2011 & 2015 and made the same recommendations, all prior to us taking the elevator on as a maintenance customer.   While the building did not do everything we recommended we did get the opportunity to replace their door operator & cylinder.  I was at the building Friday with the consultant and everything looked and worked great.

Before pictures - Cylinder 

[Elevator pit cylinder & piston - EECO Elevator Equipment Corporation]

[Casing is sticking above pit floor - if you look closely channels sit on concrete blocks]

[Building was interested in a Life Jacket]

[Not enough room for a Life Jacket - note channel piece as platum plate - Piston too short or building was built higher than drawings indicated]

Before pictures - Door operator

[Old GAL MOD door operator - You cannot tell from this picture but there is a 24" space in back of the car]

[Old GAL MOD door operator hatch equipment]

After pictures - Cylinder 

[New EECO cylinder & Piston]

[New cylinder ordered to remove channel "adjustment" platum plate]

After pictures - Door operator

[New GAL MOVFR operator, hatch & car door equipment]

[Handrails to remove fall hazard was a freebie to the building]

The new doors run smooth as silk, car top is a safer place and the building removed their single bulk head cylinder.  On the list for future modernization is controller, fixtures & power unit and they will be set for the next 25-30 years.  I would like to say thank you to everyone involved from sales, engineering, shop and especially the crew that installed the equipment, it is a team effort from start to finish.

If you have any questions or would like additional information feel free to contact me at or 630-766-7230 ext. 107.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Hydraulic elevator modernization needed – Skokie, IL

I was at a building a few years ago for pit ladders and got a call that they fired their existing company and didn’t have a new one lined up.  When I looked at the pit ladders a few years ago, I let the building know they should think about replacing their ESCO equipment that was from 1967.  Today the equipment is 51 years old and still providing the building decent service, but, they are unhappy with the dependability. When I see equipment this age the question I always ask is "what is the building's expectations of the elevator's reliability".  This elevator system has served this building well over the last 51 years.  You do not see other building mechanisms that have this much functionality and building interaction last as long as this piece of equipment.  Give it a hug, say thank you, it is time to say goodbye.

Controllers – The ESCO controller is a very good controller but as you can see most of the relays have been replaced with all new relays.  I was told/taught that the replacement relays for these units are general duty and not the same as the original relays that where designed for this specific elevator.  While less expensive then replacing the elevator controller in our experience this experiment only upsets everyone involved; building owner, elevator technician and elevator company when the desired results are not what everyone thought after dropping a good amount of money for replacing them all 25+ years ago we tried this trick in a complex with 12 elevators and it wasn't good.

Cylinder – The elevator was installed in 1967, this most likely means it has a single bulk head, which means if the controllers are replaced the cylinders need to be replaced as well.

Door operator – The GAL MOD is a very dependable door operator, it has lasted 51 years and is still servicing the building reliably.  Any piece of equipment that works as much as the door operator does get worn out from all the cycles it performs and will be less dependable then it once was.

Car & hall buttons  The buttons are having issues with sticking.  Now, you can change all the buttons with new/old ones or just order new buttons, but you still have what is behind the curtains.

Motor starters – This is probably the most robust piece of equipment on the elevator system. The 2 starter Across The Line[ATL] starter set up by Furnas.  They have great big contacts and can last a very long time with the proper maintenance.

Power unit – Good robust power unit that has a terrible design with the motor above the pump and the pump on a 90 degree.  Not sure why this was a good idea but it took a simple design and created a pump/motor replacement challenge[if the need ever arose].   Probably vertical space saving. The ESCO valve appears to have been replaced with an EECO valve 15-20 years ago.  The longer I am involved in the business the more appreciation I have for dry power units and their longevity and ability to serve building's more efficiently.

Take away – I was just talking to coworker about buildings that hit that 40-50 year mark and they have all these repairs required because buildings during this era where built to last 40 years.  Windows, tuck pointing, fa├žade, roofs, environmental systems, parking lots, etc all seem to have issues at the same time.  I’m a proponent of getting reserve studies so as a building you know when you should have X dollars in the bank for each capital improvement so you don’t get caught with all these improvements hitting you at the same time. Most residential buildings I walk into are not flush with money in their reserves so expenses such as elevator modernization causes a huge impact and funding issue.  If you need a good reserve study company, let me know and I can pass along a name and number to you.

If you have any questions or would like additional information feel free to contact me at or 630-766-7230 ext. 107.