Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hydraulic elevator noise - Isolation

We have a building who complained about the noise of their elevator system.  It is a 6 stop, 50’ +/- of travel hydraulic elevator.  It is hard to put a date on the elevator as the building could be from 1970 or 1990, it is a very non descript building that appears to have been modernized with a newer controller and a newer submersible hydraulic power unit.   About 4 years ago we replaced the elevator hydraulic cylinder.  And haven’t really had any noise or other structural complaints since.  It was interesting when I started to get complaints about the noise recently, nothing had changed on our end.

What we know

1.    It appears that at one time the oil line was run underground and it was replaced with an overhead line.  Pipes goes from 2” to 2 ½” with a lot of 90’s.  
2.    There is a transformer feeding the controller [assumed initial controller was ordered incorrectly.]
3.    The pit continually gets water in it
4.    It is a higher travel hydraulic system with a submersible system
5.    Nothing was done to this elevator in the last 4 years besides typical service call/maintenance issues

Our proposed solution

1.    Install an inflatable muffler inline – From MEI
2.    Install an isolation coupling inline – From Maxton Valve
3.    Isolate overhead oil line with more rubber
4.    Cut out some of the 90’s in the elevator machine room

 [MEI's hydaulic inflatable muffler]
                                  [Maxton valve's isolation coupling]

What we discovered during the installation

1.    Isolation between piston and platen plate was deteriorated most likely from the constant water and flooding in the pit which would give the elevator some added vibration.

Before versus after – We had a reduction of noise of 34% at floors 3, 4 & 5.  We did decibel readings before and after to quantify any changes.


This was an interesting noise issue that I had never seen come up before at a building.  There was more work that could have completed at the building but it would have required more time, more work that was outside of the building’s budget at this time.  

For more information on the products

Maxton Valve -

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

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.