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.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Associa Cares 2019 Casino Night

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  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. We have had the opportunity to be involved with Associa cares for over 5 years now.  

This was also a time to see property managers and homeowner community members who we talk to on the phone.  With the reliance of email we do not get that many phone or face to face conversations anymore.  

Food was great, music was great, casino was great, auction items where great and all for a great cause.  Associa is a great property management firm with a lot of great property managers. Take a look, get involved

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, May 26, 2019

Elevator Job Site Hall of Fame – Class of 2019[1st ½ of year]

Please find the class of 2019 elevator job site hall of fame photos from the first ½ of the year.  As we go through the bidding process we pluck photos to go in our "hall of fame" of elevators we will never forget.

I call this one 14 buckets.  I went into a machine room to give a building a price on an elevator cylinder and saw this.  14 buckets and a 55 gallon drum.  While alarming that a building would have 14 empty 5 gallon buckets and a 55 gallon drum, it was almost more alarming to me when I looked at the label on some of the buckets that they were sent by FedEx. Who FedExs hydraulic fluid?

When I was in Scotland I visited something called the “Disgrace of Scotland” in Edinborough.  The Scots started building a monument designed after the Parthenon, but, they ran out of money.  This controller should be called “Disgrace of the Elevator Industry”.  A building owner paid good money for an elevator controller and this is what they got. 

I got a text from a mechanic I work with and I thought he was kidding. 

This could be done better.

I’m not sure what happened here.  We know where the oil leak monitor will be and we know how much conduit we will need.   We also should know the extent that we can use Greenfield.

We do a lot of hydraulic piping and I know all situations are not perfect and have challenges, but…

180 degrees of additional resistance in the line that is unnecessary.

Once upon a time we engineered projects from our desk.  We don’t engineer projects from our desk anymore.  This equipment replacement was engineered from someone’s desk.

Could this be Dexter or Patrick Bateman’s elevator or this elevator is going to the Blueman Group or Gwar and sitting in the front row?

 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, May 19, 2019

A17.1 2016 Elevator Code – Hoistway Access

Prior to the 2016 A17.1 code we would see hoistway access in many different places; hall stations, door frames top, door frames bottom, next to elevator, etc.  The code committee change this with the 2016 of the elevator code for new construction or modernization.  There are strict requirements for location per  Important that everyone that has moved or will be moving towards the adoption understands.  The City of Chicago is on 2016 code.  The State of Illinois is on 2013 currently but will be on 2016 after adoption takes place... oi

1.    48” to 72” above floor measured to the centerline of the switch
2.    On the wall outside of the hoistway within 12” of the entrance frame
3.    On the hoistway entrance frame or jamb
4.    On the sight guard
Here are a few examples of what will work and what will not work

[This access station is not 48" above AFF - No Good]

[This Hall station is within 12" of frame but when we ordered it we had to extend the height to accommodate the 48" to 72"]

[This access station is more than 12" from both door frames - No good for A17.1 2016]

Take away – While this isn’t a huge deal for any modernization or new construction, it does force us to pay a little more attention to the design of our fixtures.  If you do not pay attention to the code change it will cost a little bit to comply and you will have frustrated elevator field personnel.

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, May 12, 2019

State of Illinois Elevators – Elevator Braille mandate

We have another mandate in the State of Illinois for elevators, this time it is Braille.  Please read below.  Our two largest inspection agencies are writing up buildings.  To date most inspectors are writing "by next visit".  Here are what the expectations are.

a.    New elevators for which building permits are issue after the effective date of this Act or October 1, 1977, whichever date is later – immediately
b.    Existing elevators undergoing renovations of the control panel for which building permits are issued after the effective date of this Act or October 1, 1977.  Whichever date is later – Immediately;
c.    Existing elevators no undergoing renovation, the ealier of:
1.    90 days after the effective date of the Federal standards governing elevator control markings applicable to privately owned buildings, or
2.    June 30, 1980
 Braille requirements

Hoistway entrances – 4.10.5 – All elevator hoistway entrances shall have raised and Braille floor designations provided on both jambs.  The centerline of the characters shall be 60 in above finish floor.  Such characters shall be 2” high and shall comply with 4.30.4.  Permanently applied plates are acceptable if they are permanently fixed to the jambs.

Car controls – Tactile, Braille, and visual control indicators.  All control buttons shall be designate by Braille and by raised standard alphabet characters for letters, Arabic characters for numerals, or standard symbols as shown by Fig 23a, and as required by ASME A17.1.  Raised and Braille characters and symbols shall comply with 4.30.  The call button for the main entry floor shall be designated by a raised star at the left of the floor designation.  All raised designations for control buttons shall be placed immediately to the left of the button to which they apply.  Applied plates, permanently attached, are an acceptable means to provided raised control designations.  Car control Braille shall be 16mm on the symbol with with a 4.8mm space then Braille below.

Take away – Put your Braille up.  The Braille isn’t expensive and it is a good idea in general to make a building more accessible per ADA rules.  There are certain requirements for size and composition of elevator Braille.  For more information on this contact your elevator contractor.

References – A117.1, A17.1, ADA code book, State of Illinois ACT 410 ILCS 30/0.01

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, May 4, 2019

Chicago elevators in the news

About once a year we would see a network do a feature on elevators in the Chicago area.  Over the last 2 months we have had 3 features by 3 different network news.    It is always interesting how the news portrays our industry and sides of the stories.  Take a look at each feature, they are interesting.

The first feature is a good one about ages of elevators and the requirements to maintain them and replace equipment.  John Valone of IUEC Local #2 did a great job working with WGN on this one.  I have this conversation with building owners frequently, If your elevator is over 30 years old your reliability expectations should be adjusted and building’s should be planning on equipment replacement.

The second feature is about an incident at the Hancock building that occurred a few months ago.  Everyone involved in the interviews appeared to be knowledgeable and well informed.  Good to see.

The third feature is about a building next door to a building we are modernizing that had their elevator shut down for 4-5 months.  The interesting part of the whole feature is that this is a condominium, the people interviewed own the building but do not know what is going on, which is concerning.  We actually bid this project and the building paid 20%-30% to work with another firm and the project is just now being completed.  This is a 6 story building that was with out an elevator for 4-5 months.  That is also concerning.

All three segments where well done and interesting to see our industry in the news.

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.