February 08, 2006

In Between Jobs

What? You thought...? No. I didn't quit/get fired from my current employ, I'm just talking about the smaller jobs that I am sent out to take care of "In Between" the larger projects. Sheesh! Calm down out there people.

Anyhow, I was sent out to do a little job on a residential aggravator today. It's a little three-stop "roped hydro" that I must say is quite a nice little elevator. Unfortunately, the contractor had to give it the nickname of "Thumper" due to a little quirk that it had. If the elevator sat still for any length of time (A few day's to a week), it's guide rollers would develop a little "flat spot", and for the first 8 to 10 trips after putting it back in service, it would go "thump...thump...thump" up the hoistway. If it was used regularly, this wouldn't be a problem, but it ain't, and the owner just happens to have a doctorate in Physics so he wants a "perfect" conveyance. We had orderred some new roller's that have a stiffer compound to the rubber, and it was my task to install them.

This customer (unfortunately for me) has a friend that works for the company that actually manufactures the elevator, and was told that the problem was most likely a mal-adjusted hydraulic valve, and he kept pestering me to look into it. The guy who'd given him that advice did so over the phone, so he really had nothing to base his diagnosis on other than the "hearsay" from the customer. I'm here to tell you that it's impossible to diagnose a bad valve over the phone (especially with someone who is ignorant of the trade on the other end of it), so I surmised that he was some stuffed shirt who'd overheard a couple of guy's who are on the "sharp end" discussing a problem, and applied it to this elevator. I HATE it when people do that without adding the caveat: "...but I'm not there, so it could be something else", due to the phenomena of the person who's not even a dilettente taking his word as gospel.

I took a little while getting the new roller's installed, and decided that I'd better take a "check ride" and see if it had done the trick. No more "thumper", but now I can feel each rail joint. The softer compound of the original roller's makes up for a slightly uneven rail fit (acting as a shock absorber of sorts), but the new rollers actually magnify any mechanical imperfections. Time to acquire a file and "dress" those rails. I borrowed a little file from the contractor and made a valiant attempt at fixing things, but it was designed more for finish work than removing a lot of metal to even up the two surfaces. I pressed on with it though, and got the ride kinda okay, but I knew that it needed a little something extra. When I went to lunch, I stopped by the hardware store, and procured the type of file that would do the job. I spent some more quality time with the rail joints, and got things really nice...but not perfect.

One of the rail joints had been hit, or dropped, or scraped on something...enough to make a slight indentation in it. Essentially, there's a "U" in the rail face, right where they come together. A file can certainly remove material from either side when things don't line up right, but it cannot add material to fill in where it is missing. There's a (barely) perceptable bump as the car passes this area, and I had nothing suitable on hand to fill it with.

If I'd been a lesser man, I'd have told the customer that things were perfect, and went on with life, but I ain't. I advised him of what I felt, and why it was so, and then left. Sure... I could have lied to him...hell I probably should have, but at the end of the day. I am proud of the work that I performed there, and that's the smoothest residential elevator I've ever ridden...period. If he bitches about it...he's an idiot, but I can feel smug about the fact that he got an honest fix for an honest problem, and he got the best correction that could be had. He'll probably bitch though. being a Physic's Doctor and all, he knows way more than I do...and if that's so...next time he can fix it his damnedself.

Metal file vs. Sheepskin? In a "Rock-Paper-Scissors" game, which do you think would win?

Posted by Johnny - Oh at February 8, 2006 10:14 PM | TrackBack

Obviously you should've collected all the metal shavings and melted them down to fill in the indentation :-)

Posted by: Harvey at February 10, 2006 12:16 PM

Why melt 'em? UI'll ust get a big 'ole magnet, magnetize the rail at the bad spot, and shove the filings on in. All the kids are doin' it. :^)

Posted by: Johnny - Oh at February 10, 2006 10:31 PM


If the file is a bastard, and the sheepskin is a condom...
the condom can keep a bastard from happening.

Posted by: Tuck at February 11, 2006 07:21 AM