December 10, 2006

Technical Crap Nobody Cares About

So... I came up with something that I think is pretty cool. It's really an adaptation of an industry proven technology, but I've never seen anything quite like it, so I'm kinda proud of myself.

Here's the scenario: I'm installing an elevator in a preexisting hoistway that used to house two geared traction elevators, but I am installing a Roped-Hydraulic. The Roped Hydro uses two Jacks with sheaves attached to the top. the ropes are attached to the bottom of the shaft, run over the sheaves, and then attach to the car. As the pistons push up, the ropes are pulled and the car goes up. Fairly simple. Unfortunately, the jack casings and the pistons were shipped in two separate sections each (weighing approx. 900 lbs a section). Assembly was going to be a challenge.

Other challenges: The jacks (once assembled) are to be placed atop 15 foot tall pedestals, My hoist beams run the wrong direction in the top of the shaft (front to back instead of side to side) so it is impossible for me to move my rigging directly over top of the area I need it to be, and all my work has to be done at least sixteen feet above the pit floor.

Normally, when we are shipped jacks in multiple sections, they are intended to be installed in a hole underneath the elevator. the hole is centered between the rails, and all the lifting equipment is centered over the hole. The lower section of the casing is dropped into the hole most of the way, then a "wood wrench is affixed to it. (A wood wrench is a couple of rough hewn 2 x 6 sections of hardwood about four feet long. The two sections are laid side by side, and a notch is cut in the center of each one facing toward each other. Holes are then bored through each piece of wood about halfway between the notches and the end of the boards on each side. threaded rods are inserted into the holes, and nuts and flat washers are added to the rods. the jack section is lowered between the two pieces of wood, and then the nuts are tightened.) This wrench will hold up the jack section (it spans across the hole) allowing it to be detached from the rigging, and the next section lifted atop it. As the upper section is lowered into place, is is screwed into the bottom section and then welded to create an impervious seal. Then the wrench is loosened, and the jack is lowered into the hole until the "pit channels" can be attached and the jack rested on them. Repeat this process to assemble the piston, except the piston will hang down inside the casing.

On my current job, there is no hole to send anything down into. I think I scratched my head over the problem for more than a week before the "Light Came On". I knew that I needed a wood wrench, but I had no idea how I was going to deploy the thing. After much studying on it, I determined that I could use the pedestals to rest my wrench on. I went down to the local "Big Box" home improvement center, and got myself some pressure treated lumber, and commenced to fabricating. In the end, I wound up with a wrench that spanned eight feet across shaft, resting on the tops of the pedestals, and my notches were offset to where my hoisting cables naturally fell. One side of the wrench was "toenailed" into some 2 x 4's that I laid on the top of the pedestals, and the other side was free to slide along the wood runners that I built, allowing it to be tightened to the other section with the threaded rods. Sure it looked funny, but I was pretty sure that it would work.

Since, each section is roughly 16 feet tall, I elected to go ahead and assemble the pistons first (it would be extremely unreasonable to fly the piston sections down into the casings, as the point where I would be screwing them together would then be 30+ feet up in the hoistway). Once we go the first section into place, and tightened down, I tested the rigidity of the wrench by throwing my weight around on it. I found that it would support my weight without any issue, so I used it as a platform to stand on while I screwed the upper section into place. Even I was amazed at how well it functioned. My new helper (50 year old guy) allowed that he'd "Never seen anything like it". I retorted "Neither have I, and I built the damn thing". I removed the "sliding" section of the wrench, and leaned the piston back against a wall. We then moved the other piston into place, and assembled it. The more I did, the better I got at it. When we put together the first casing, we just left it hanging in the wrench, and then picked up a piston and lowered it inside the casing. Affix the seal assembly, and we're done. Lean the whole rig against the wall, and put together the next one.

All of this should be considered "all in a day's work" for me, but I'm damn proud of myself for finding a safe solution to quite a vexing problem. The elegance is in the simplicity, and the beauty is in the effectiveness. These are the little things that give me satisfaction. Damn, I wouldn't work a "white-collar" job again for twice what I make now. Pushing numbers just ain't the same as pushing steel.

Posted by Johnny - Oh at December 10, 2006 11:02 PM | TrackBack

Congratulations! It's always a great feeling to come up with a terrific solution to a problem. Wish we had a picture of your wrench. Only cause I have problems visualizing things... LOL - I'm "visualization challenged". So, I could never have thought up a solution like that. Way to go!

Posted by: Teresa at December 11, 2006 12:03 AM

Ill try to draw something up for you this evening, just so you get the idea. I've got this new print/scanner/copier that I need to get out of its box anyway.

Posted by: Johnny - Oh at December 11, 2006 06:23 AM

Is there a way to patent your new technique, or otherwise try to keep it exclusive? Or is it just a "all in a day's work" kind of thing? Looks like creative engineering thinking.

Posted by: Elisson at December 12, 2006 03:38 PM

Unfortunately No. Anytime I find something that works well, I always pass it on free of charge. I figure if I wind up saving someone's life, or prevent an injury, that's payment enough.

Posted by: Johnny - Oh at December 12, 2006 05:23 PM

... rock on, Johnny... good for you!...

Posted by: Eric at December 13, 2006 09:00 AM

Totally awesome.

And I'll chime in for wanting to see the illustrated version.

Doesn't have to be fancy... just enough to visualize the terminology.

By the way... IS there some sort of "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Elevator Construction" on line somewhere?

Posted by: Harvey at December 16, 2006 01:57 AM

Merry Christmas :-)

Here's something job-related for you:

Posted by: Harvey at December 24, 2006 07:56 AM

Ok, don't worry about the ilustrated version of the story. Just post something so we know you're alive :-)

Posted by: Harvey at December 30, 2006 09:07 AM

*sticks mirror under Johnny-Oh's nose*

*waits for fogging*

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