Saturday, March 30, 2019

ACTHA – Oak Brook, IL – Condominium Show

A few times a year we get the opportunity to participate in a trade show for condominium board members and property managers.  Today was ACTHA’s home owner spring trade conference.

ACTHA’s Mission is to provide information and education to boards, owners and professionals involved with community associations, to help their organizations run more effectively and efficiently

The trade show was a group of service providers; accountants, lawyers, property management firms, pavers, painters, restoration services, concrete, etc.   There was education, seminars and lunch provided.  Colley Elevator participated in the trade show.

We met many great people at the show, some current customers, some had general questions, some had a need for a proposal.  It was a great opportunity to get out and see familiar faces and see some new faces.

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, March 23, 2019

I have an old elevator system, what do I do? – Oak Park, IL

We recently went to a building in Oak Park, IL to revisit an elevator Colley installed in 1966.  We had maintained the account for 40 years then they went to OEM for the last 10 years and wanted a second opinion on their elevator maintenance after frustration built up.   In 2004 we were encouraging the building to consider elevator modernization upon my return in 2019 I had a similar conversation with the Board President.  The building is a small building with a small budget and concerned with raising their assessments, they are also concerned with having a reliable elevator.  The story of older elevator systems in working class/fixed income buildings is a common one.  Now, what to do with it?

Elevator system

Control system – A 50+ year old ERM elevator controller with an electronic stepper replacement, capacitors falling off panel, starter replaced.

Door operator – GAL MOD the old work horse of the GAL family of door operators

Fixtures – EPCO fixtures, we installed hundreds of these and they stand up

Power unit – This is a dry unit manufactured by Colley Elevator which most likely had an old EECO spider valve that was replaced in 1989 with a Maxton UC4.

Cylinder – This is an Atlas cylinder head that requires hose packing or split ring autopak.  This is a head that was popular in the West Coast, I believe one of the Colley Family members bought a bunch of them in the 1960’s and we manufactured the cylinders in house.  Not a popular elevator cylinder head in the Midwest.


Current maintenance - The building is currently getting 4 visits a year, poor communication, service call response issues and doesn’t look like much maintenance.  The building has a full maintenance contract.

Future maintenance – It will be difficult for the building to get a new full maintenance contract due to the age and condition of the elevator equipment.  The elevator needs a good cleaning and the oil replaced at minimum.


The challenge with older smaller buildings is how to make a modernization happen?  The building has a high reliance on the elevator, their expectations to have it running is high but the age and condition of the elevator doesn’t lend itself to being a reality.

Plan on the capital expenditure of modernization – A building needs to plan for this for the following reasons.

Elevator controller – Parts are few and far between.  What is even fewer and further between is finding elevator mechanics who are familiar with this equipment.  As the years go on the elevator mechanics who worked on these, who know these, are retiring.

Elevator door operator – This door operator is 20 years passed its useful life.  You can rebuild these door operators, they still sell the parts, but you need to find someone who will do this for you.

Elevator power unit – The oil is burned from a tank heater being left on.  I opened the tank and smoke came out of the power unit from the tank heaters heating filament being dirty and attracting particulate.  When a filament is covered in “gunk”, it will smoke and create more particulate.  The new valve is 30 years old and pump and motor are still serviceable and can be replaced.   A valve is scheduled to service a building for 15-20 years.

Elevator cylinder – This cylinder has been in the ground for 53 years.  The cylinder could last another 53 or go at any time.  There would also be the requirement to replace it due to the single bulk head that is most likely lurking beneath the ground.

Take away – Plan plan plan.  There is always a building project; drive ways, windows, roofs, boilers, etc that are hot or priorities.  If a building doesn’t have a reserve study or budget for all of their capital expenses, start today!  Call your elevator company and ask them how much?  And what should I do?  Can I do this in phases?  We as elevator professionals should be able to help you begin your planning process.

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, March 16, 2019

Hydraulic Elevator control modernization - Montgomery Elevator

I cringe when I see some control systems on existing elevators and the person who surveyed the job says “I got a XYZ here that is having issues”.   In this case it was a “I got a Montgomery here that is having issues”.  In some cases we can work on the elevators in some cases we recommend replacement.  In most Montgomery Elevator cases we recommend replacement.  This controller wasn't that old but domain knowledge is few and far between.

Situation – The building was frustrated with the elevator not being reliable.  Repairs where short lived and parts where expensive and took time to get.  Service call after service call. 

Initial recommendation – We recommended the building replace all of the equipment; controller, fixtures, door operators & power unit.  

What occurred - The building could not afford to do everything so we settled on a control & fixture upgrade to get rid of the existing control platform.  The power unit and door operators where retained. 

Elevator machine room - The old controller was mounted on the power unit.  In order to work on the controller you have to squat.  In order to work on the valve you have to lean over the controller.  We like to mount it on a wall so it is at eye level and you can work on the valve easier.



Elevator controller - The old controller was a Montgomery/Kone product, it had reliability issues that was frustrating the building owner.  Kone probably can work on this just fine but the building did not have Kone nor did they want to call Kone.  The independent company that was working on it was having issues.  A new Smartrise controller was installed.  Now if they do not like Colley Elevator, they can call one of the 25-30 contractors in the Chicago area and anyone can work on it, no problem. 



Car station - The car station has to be replaced for new elevator safety code accommodations.  Innovation Industries made/makes car stations for Montgomery/Kone so we had them duplicate car station with the up to date code requirements. New fire cabinet, new P/I, etc.



1st floor hall fixture - New hall fixtures needed to be furnished, the most important one is the main lobby that includes the FEO and phone monitoring code required feature.  The building also got a nice P/I in the hall station.



Take away – The building had issues with a not so old elevator controller.  The building was frustrated.  The building spent a decent amount of money on the upgrade and now will have a non-proprietary elevator control system that they can have serviced for 20-30 years in the future.

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, March 10, 2019

Chicago Elevator Firefighter’s Emergency Operation mandate - FEO - Fireman's Service

On 11/2/16 The City of Chicago published a mandate for all elevator’s have Firefighters emergency operation phase II be consistent throughout the City by 1/1/17.  There was a published document that wasn’t wrong but it wasn’t as thorough as could have been.  A new document came out with a better outline of the mandate’s expectations.  This mandate is affecting many elevator’s in the City of Chicago which is resulting in the failure of elevators.

First published document on 11/2/16 

 Newer testing procedure for FEO mandate

Does it effect my building?  This is a good question, you can ask your elevator inspector or your current elevator contractor.  Most of the items can be checked with one competent person.  Unfortunately the one item you cannot check with one person is what most building’s are failing for.  This only affects buildings with FEO phase II[key switch in the car station]. 

Who is checking?  Your elevator inspector[AIC or City of Chicago] or elevator contractor should be checking this for compliance.  As I mentioned until recently many people where not informed to the extend that was intended due to the document that passed around originally.

What is occurring? Many buildings are replacing their control systems or modifying their existing control systems with software updates, wiring changes or an auxiliary panel. Building’s are going to admin hearings for non-compliance and not getting their certificates and being fined.  Many buildings have hired companies to rewire their controller to try and make it work with software updates and rewiring but I have heard a lot of failures from talking to building owners/other contractors.

What is the best strategy replacement or modification?  Each building’s elevator controller will be a bit different.  If it is a simple software change with a control manufacturer that is still supporting your product this is a viable option.  If your elevator controller is 10-15+ years old then it may be time to consider the entire controller replacement.  There are also auxiliary panels that can be installed by a few different manufacturers.  We do not recommend too many auxiliary panels/rewiring at this time as they tend to get complicated.

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, March 3, 2019

Elevator accidents & injuries/CPWR Deaths and Injuries involving elevators or escalators in construction and general population

I was putting together our monthly safety meeting reviewing the recent accidents and CPWR report that I got clued in on by Tom Sybert’s Elevator Radio Show,, and the information is eye opening.  In the last month I have tracked the following incidents. 

Recent accident or accident outcomes

Death of Hotel worker – Toronto, Canada - This was an accident from 2016 who appears to have been killed in a freight elevator accident on rigged doors.

Manhattan man falls 4 stories down elevator shaft – SOHO Manhattan – New York – Man falls down 4 stories after stepping into an open elevator shaft

Fort Worth Nurse crushed by elevator – Fort Worth – Texas – Mid 50’s woman steps onto elevator and loses balance and elevator continued to rise and she was crushed.

9 Year old Girl falls 30’ down elevator shaft – Utica, New York – Girl falls down the elevator shaft

Airport construction worker dies after falling into elevator shaft – Salt Lake City, Utah – Construction worker falls down 40 into elevator shaft

Detroit Hide and seek game leads to death down elevator shaft – Detroit, Michigan – Hide in seek game in abandoned building goes wrong.

CPWR report – I reviewed the CPWR’s report on death and injuries involving elevators or escalators in construction and the general population from 2007-2017.  I encourage you to review the report a few important points.  Please note that OSHA does not differentiate the elevator industry at this point[elevator industry professionals vs construction].  OSHA is working on alliances with IUEC and other organization for industry specific data.

1.    Elevator related fatalities have a linear rise between 2003-2016

2.    Fall to lower level tops injury list with caught in/compressed by object/equip a 2nd
3.    How we die
a.    Multiple traumatic injuries and disorders
b.    Intracranial injuries, internal injuries to organs and blood vessels of the trunk
c.    Asphyxiation, strangulations, suffocations
d.    Electricutions, electrical shock
4.    How it happens
#1 construction, assembling & dismantling – Elevator professionals
#3 Repair/Maintenance – Elevator professionals
#5 Inspecting/checking – Elevator professionals  

5.    Elevator related construction deaths 50 times more likely than other trades[includes fall down shaft or injuries by other trades]
6.    Elevator related nonfatal injuries in construction generally declined from 2003 to 2016 – non fatal injuries down – fatal injuries up
7.    Construction tops list where injuries occur
8.    Top injuries
a.    Caught in/compressed by objects/equip
b.    Fall to lower level
c.    Struck by object/equip
d.    Fall on same level
9.    Who is getting hurt
a.    Workers 16-24 year olds
b.    Workers 45 to 54 year olds
10. Elevator related injuries need more time to heal than other types of injuries – 31 or more days
a.    Did not note on permanency of injury

Take away – As an industry we cannot prevent all the accidents or dangerous situations.  As an industry we can work towards preventing a majority of the potentially dangerous situations.  Building owners/general contractors need to be responsible, elevator contracting companies need to be responsible and elevator professionals need to be responsible.  It takes all three parts of the equation to provide safe vertical transportation, construction and building wellbeing.

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.