Saturday, July 20, 2019

Residential lift safety – Washington Post

An article popped up on my google phone that the Washington Post published on 7/19/19.  There is a cause for concern on some residential lifts that are in homes and the article touches on the concerns and some of the catastrophic outcomes.  The information is not new, the industry knows about the issues, the question is how to prevent more incidents from occurring.  Take a look at the article.

As an industry we have struggled with how to resolve this issue. 
Solutions – None of the solutions are easy, a majority of the lifts are installed and no one knows where they are at or who the current home owner is.  We need to find where the lifts are that require a space guard. Manufacturers, installers, municipalities and building code writers need to be part of the solution.

Mandate space guards – Mandate space guards on any lift that doesn’t meet today’s code.  But how do we get to all of the existing lifts?

Inspections – Have all lifts, private or public, inspected on an annual basis by a QEI/CEI.

Home inspections – When a property is bought/sold have it inspected by a QEI/CEI.  This solution would not solve the problem overnight but it could put a dent in the numbers of lifts with spacial concerns over time.

Credit - Washington post article cited above.

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.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Chicago Elevator Association – EESF Boat Cruise 2019

Every year the Chicago Elevator Assocation[CEA] has a fund raising boat cruise for the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation[EESF].  This year was another great time on the Mystic Blue.  I got a chance to spend a time with some old friends as well as met some people new to the industry.

The EESF is the leading resource for educational programs that teach children and adults how to properly ride elevators, escalators and moving walkways safely. 

The EESF has a new Executive Director, Shelly Johnson.  I had a chance to meet Shelly after one of their strategic planning sessions in Chicago a few months ago and I am excited about the fresh future she brings to the EESF.

There are three main safety programs that the EESF is working on

            Safety rider – kids program

            Rise up safe rider – University/Colleges

            Safe rider – For older adults

To learn more about the EESF go to

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.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Hydraulic elevator modernization - Chicago, IL

This was a building that their elevator was shut down for over a year before they got around to modernizing it.  The existing elevator equipment was 1960’s Montgomery Elevator vintage.  The elevator has been running for about 9 months, the shiny new look has worn off but it has been providing the building with reliable elevator service since turn over.

Elevator controller – Smartrise
Fixtures – Innovation
Car door operator – GAL
Car and hatch equipment – MAC
Power unit – MEI
Elevator cylinder - EECO

Machine room – When I first went to the building I found the machine room jammed with non elevator related equipment.  We removed the existing Montgomery Elevator controller which serviced the building for 50+ years with a new Smartrise control system and MEI hydraulic elevator with Maxton UC4 valve.  In the elevator machine rooms it is always a challenge to keep non elevator related equipment out.

[Machine room my first visit]

[Old Montgomery work horse for over 50 years]

[Old dry elevator hydraulic power unit]

[New Smartrise controller & MEI power unit]

[New Maxton UC4 control valve - pump and motor below]

Elevator fixtures – We worked with Innovation Industries on this installation and I believe the fixtures turned out great.

[Old Montgomery car operating panel w/carpet walls]

[New car operating panel by Innovation Industries and new cab interior]

[Old look of the 1st floor elevator lobby]

[New look at 1st floor with ADA elevator fixtures - lobby was also painted and new floors]

Door equipment – We always use a GAL MOVFR II operator on our modernization projects and in this case we used MAC car and hatch equipment to save the building some costs with converting over to GAL tracks.

[Old MAC door operator with leveling system wreckage]

[New GAL MOVFR door operator]

Elevator cylinder – The elevator was pre 1972 had did not have a safety bulk head so this needed to be replaced per City of Chicago mandate which required all single bottom cylinders to be removed prior to 1/1/13.  There are still many single bulk head cylinders out there.

[Old MAC cylinder pre 1972]

[New EECO cylinder replaced due to Chicago mandate]

Other modernization items – When we do a modernization there are some items the building has to take care of i.e. electrical disconnects, fire alarm panel, various machine room items. 

[New mainline disconnects and fire alarm panel w/updated fire extinguisher]

[Creative way to reduce potential issues with water pipes]

[Machine room GFCI]

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.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

ADA Elevator Braille requirements State of Illinois

A new mandate is being enforced in the State of Illinois requiring all elevators to have Braille on elevator car stations and hoistway entrances.  This requirement has been on the books for some time but never enforced until a clarification from the State of Illinois Fire Marshall. 

Rule - State of Illinois ADA mandate 410 ILCS 30/1 from Ch. 111 ½, par. 3901 & 3902

When - Now

What are elevator inspectors doing?  Some are failing elevators now, some are giving buildings 6 months to comply.

What is Colley Elevator doing about it?  We are going to each building and collecting information on each elevator and will be sending out proposals for the installation of Braille.

Car stations – Each usable[to general public] car station device will require ADA compliant Braille.

[All car station buttons will require Braille - This car station still requires "alarm" Braille - whomever installed these Braille tags used the mix and match method]

Hoistway entrances – Each hoistway entrances will require to have Braille on each side of the door frame.

[Braille required on each side of door frame at ADA height]

Advice to building owners & property managers – Get your information from your elevator contractor now and have it installed as soon as possible.  New elevators and elevators modernized in the last 15 years most likely comply.  Building owners are also capable of completing Braille installation if they choose to do so.

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, June 22, 2019

Guide for elevator new construction for general contractors and building owners

This is meant to be a guide for general contractors when working with an elevator contractor for a new installation.  We work with GC’s or CM’s that have a variety of experience doing elevators from doing them on a regular basis to being their first one.

[As contractors we look forward to the day we have a truck onsite]

1st rule – Do not building your elevator hoistway without final drawings – Under no circumstance should anyone building a hoist way without a final drawing.  All elevator systems are not the same.  The mason will need to install connection devices[inserts, tube steel, etc] in certain places in the hoistway.  The most important thing is you may not build the hoistway for the elevator you ultimately purchase so it would go from a vanilla installation price to a custom price because the company you hired doesn’t use the same foot print.  I.E. use a Kone MRL foot print and end up deciding not to work with Kone, If you building the hoistway for the Kone elevator, you may have a huge problem with additional costs.

If you are not familiar with elevator drawings have the elevator contractor come out and walk you through what you need.  We are not building a rocket ship but we are building something that requires many different trades to work together.

Hoistway entrances – Pay attention to the rough opening we will need and keep the entrance that we will be installing the cab in open so we can get the platform in.

[Wonderful! The 1st landing HW entrance is open]

Hoistway inserts/connections – Make sure you know where to put them in the hoist way.  As a GC or CM, you may know but whomever is going to be installing them should also have a good understanding before they begin constructing the hoistway.  On construction sites I get a lot of “yeah I do this all the time” and people shaking their heads and we still have inserts installed in the wrong place. If you have alternate means of connecting the rails to the hoistway work with your contractor on a solution, do not assume it will work because the architect/design team said it will.

[Typical wall insert in CMU]

[This building is using tube steel instead of CMU inserts]

 Have the elevator pit ready to go – Make sure your pit is 48” or 60” or whatever it says on the drawings.  You will also need a sump pump that can pump 3000ga per hour, have the hole in.  If you have questions on where it goes, call your elevator contractor for direction and do not put it where you think it should go, put it where the elevator contractor tells you or where the drawings show.  We have items that go in the pit that are need to go in a certain spot.  Priority 1 is an elevator installation not making life easy for the concrete guy or the plumber.

[A prepreconstruction site visit to meet the CM/GC - Pit is getting ready]

[Pit ended up beautiful]

[A recent site visit when a GC told me the hoisway/pit was ready]

Main line power – When you expect the elevator contractor to start, make sure you have main line power and lights in the elevator room.  Please do not tell us you have power when you do not, we will come out and work for 8 hours and then tell you to call us back when you have power and most companies charge you with a remobilization charge.  Lights in the machine room are important as well.  Know your electrical clearances and where the elevator equipment will be placed before installing the disconnects.

110vac power in pit and machine room – Our tools need to plug into something it is helpful when we have live power in the machine room and our pit so we can avoid stringing extension cords all over your building.

Environmental controls – We love environmental controls HVAC!  Be aware when these are being installed the #1 priority is elevator installation not making life easier for the HVAC guy.  We have a controller and machine that needs to be placed somewhere if we have a machine room.  In picture we see we have this wonderful air conditioner with water pipes everywhere.  We do not want water pipes in our machine room.

[Love the HVAC, don't love the water pipes]

Phone line – Get your phone line ready.  You can use a POTs line, VOIP, Cellular or whatever.  When we start have it waiting and have it be live!  We don’t want to get to the end of the project and not be able to get the elevator inspection because there is no 2 way communication.

Hoist beam – If you want to make friends with your elevator project crew put the beam where it is supposed to be on the drawings.  This will make the project go faster and safer.

[This beam is very important to us when doing our installation]

Staging & delivery- clear out a space for the elevator contractor so when he starts he has a clear and safe space.  Also please have means to have our large and heavy equipment to be unloaded.

[Not a great staging area]

[We appreciate it when we have a clear means to deliver equipment - This construction site did not have a clear means for us to get material in the building]

Trade meeting – Get the trades together to discuss their scopes and have them ask questions and go over drawings. The meeting is not about the vanity of the general contractor, building owner or elevator contractor it is about the successful installation of a conveyance system that requires all parties to do their part.

[This was a construction meeting that included all trades involved]

Before approving drawings understand what is mentioned on the lay out drawings.  No matter how many elevators you have installed please read what is on the new installation front page.

Hoistway and pit
1.    A clear hoistway to the dimensions on the drawing, plumb within ½” to 1” total.  Hoistway shown is minimum.  Any out of plumb condition must not encroach on hoistway size envelope from top to bottom
2.    Venting of hoistway as required by code
3.    A dry pit reinforced to sustain vertical loads as shown.

4.    A pit ladder for each elevator of non combustible material, constructed and installed in accordance with code, and extending from pit floor to 48” above sill of lowest hoistway door.
5.    Adequate supports for guide rail brackets, to support horizontal loads as shown.  Support locations must not exceed spacing as required by code, and as shown.  When maximum spacing is exceeded, rail reinforcement, or added supports must be provided at purchaser’s expense.
6.    Guide rail support location must be steel, brick, concrete, or filled concrete block.  Inserts, if used, are supplied and installed by others, in locations shown, as walls are erected.  If rail brackets are attached to steel beams, fire proofing is to be applied after rail brackets are installed.
7.    Permanent provisions shall be made to prevent accumulation of water in hoistway pit per ASME A17.1
8.    Projections or recesses in hoistway of 4” or more, on sides not used for loading or unloading, shall be beveled at an angle not less than 75 degrees from the horizontal.
9.    A hoist beam, book or eyebolt shall be furnished at the top of hoisway located on centerline of car and guides – designed for load capacity of 6000lbs minimum.
10. Entrance walls accepting passenger type entrances are to be erected(or rough opening as shown filled in] after door frames and sills are installed
11. A suitable sill support and recess as shown, full width of hoistway, grouted by others after door sills are installed.
12. Required sleeves in hoistway walls, or any trenching and filling, for oil line and wire duct for each elevator, as shown.
13. Any cutting and patching of building construction required to install signal fixtures or other elevator apparatus and any repairs, grouting, patching or painting made necessary by same
14. Barricades may be required during construction – hoistway protection
15. Hoistway shall have means to maintain temperature between 40 degrees and 105 degrees

Control Space
16. A properly lit and ventilated control space per code requirements, with temperature maintained between 55 degrees and 90 degrees.  Door size show to permit access for machine.
17. Machine room to be designed and laid out to comply with electrical clearance requirements and maintenance clearance requirements.  Elevator contractor’s equipment is priority here not the plumber, HVAC, electrician, security or fire alarm equipment.  If their equipment is in the way, they will need to move it.

Electrical & pit – All electrical in accordance with ASME and NEC
18. A fused disconnect switch for each elevator, of ample capacity, wirth wiring to the elevator motor starter control.  Disconnecting means shall disconnect the normal power supply as well as emergency supply, when provided.
19. Light and switch in elevator control space, with switch located adjacent ot the access door.  Convenience outlet in control space[GFI].
20. Light, switch and convenience outlet in elevator pit, light switch accessible from lower landing opening.  Install light to clear elevator car.
21. Suitable 110v service in the hoistway, midway of travel[see layout] or connected to terminals in elevator controller for car light service[elevator contractor option]
22. Heat, and product combustion sensors located in each elevator lobby with necessary wiring to elevator control panel, when fire service is required
23. If sprinklers are present in the control space or hoistway, a means shall be provided to automatically disconnect the mainline power supply prior to the application of wire[shunt trip].
24. All items shall conform to local building code
25. Relative humidity not to exceed 85%

Take away - If we all work together and follow the general guide lines given by a good/competent elevator contractor/new construction team we can go from a muddy construction site to a beautiful lobby with running elevators.



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.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Schindler 330A elevator replacement/elevator modernization – Chicago, IL

We received a phone call to bid on the replacement of a newer Schindler 330A hydraulic elevator.  The building had a significant amount of issues with the elevator and was exploring replacement options. Their current contract was with an OEM and they could not get a good amount of clean run time and the building was frustrated.  The old elevator system was a single inverted holeless system.  We proposed a new non proprietary borehole hydraulic elevator.

Hoistway hydraulic system - Cylinder placement was in our opinion one of the largest issues with the design of this elevator.  The inverted cylinder design is also a maintenance challenge.  The rails are in the front of the hoistway and it is a type of cantilevered design.  From our experience these should only be used in special applications i.e. adjacent doors in lieu of corner posts.  We dug a hole and installed a traditional borehole cylinder.  Digging the hole went great and a new borehole system was a installed with out issue.  Cylinder by ITI Hydraulik.

Before - Schindler inverted multi stage cylinder 

After - New borehole cylinder hole dug & installed

Machine room – The building had a Schindler 330A control system and Schindler hydraulic power unit with EECO UV5A valve. The control system is fairly dependable but it has very expensive components if it needs replacement.  This control system is also proprietary.  We installed a non-proprietary Smartrise Engineering control system and a Minnesota Elevator hydraulic tank with Maxton valve.

Before - Schindler inverted single cylinder

After - Smartrise controller & MEI power unit w/Maxton UC4 valve

After - New Smartrise controller

Door frames and buttons – The elevator door frames and buttons where from the Schindler package. It was designed around the Schindler linear door operator.  The hall buttons are from Schindler and have a history for being more sensitive to normal wear and tear than other buttons, they are also very expensive to replace.  We replaced them with a Minnesota Elevator package that included Innovation Industries buttons.

Before - Schindler inverted single cylinder

After - New stainless steel frames and doors w/Innovation fixtures

Elevator door operator – We replaced the Schindler linear door operator with a more robust GAL MOVFR II operator and door system.  The GAL door operator and related equipment is heavy duty and user friendly.  If parts or tech support is required we have a great local GAL office in Elk Grove Village, IL to lean on.

After - New GAL door operator

Car station – The elevator’s car station was from Schindler and was replaced with Innovation Industries.  Innovation Industries provides great robust fixtures and their customer service is second to none!

Before - Schindler plastic car station

After - New stainless steel car station form Innovation Industries

Cab interior – The cab interior came out great from Minnesota Elevator.

Work by others – Colley Elevator also assisted the traditional “work by others” scope which included new electrical, fire panel and fire alarms. 

After - Mainline & 110VAC electrical disconnects

After - Fire panel & fireman's recall detectors from Chicago Metro Fire

Take away – This was a significant undertaking for the building but now they have a very reliable elevator that any elevator company can get technical support and parts for.  If the building does not like Colley Elevator they can call ABC Elevator or XYZ elevator or anyone in between.  This project was not without its challenges which included removing building walls, putting new inserts in existing poured CMU and a challenging construction schedule.  We had a great and patient building to work with during the project.  The design and equipment of the new elevator system in our opinion will service the building in a very reliable manner for many years to come.

This was our 2nd full equipment replacement [everything including the rails] of the year and the design, planning, field execution[Big thanks to our IUEC team who completed the install] was a considerable undertaking for everyone involved.  This project was truly a team effort! I would like to thank everyone who had their finger prints on the project and everyone at the building who put their faith in us to provide a great product.

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.