May 1st, 2010. Posted in Articles
This blog is dedicated to those of us who have a real appreciation for elevators. Not just any elevator but ones that bring a bit of yesterday with each vertical trip. You might call them antique, classic or turn of the century designed, we just call them cool!
Elevator and their operators where the life blood when buildings started to be built upward. They gave buildings character and warmth with a friendly, “What Floor Please” when you entered. They also usually acted as a security guard, knowing when offices were closed, tenants were on vacation and when visitors shouldn’t be on a certain floor.
This blog is made up of contributors who truly appreciate older elevators. If you are interested in becoming a contributor to this site please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org , we’d love to have you. If you see a photograph that you believe is copyrighted please let us know. All photographs and links are for non commercial purposes. It is not our intention to infringe on anyones copyright.
I love these e-mails. Can you help me identify this? While most of the time we can help, many photos and images we need to send out a request through the Elevator Radio Show to get some assistance. This one sent in from Michelle was a little easier as we have a great library of older elevator catalogues that we were able to refer to to find it.
Well Michelle, we were able to locate what company made your plate and have attached a cool advertisement from a 1906 Sweet’s Directory which I hope you enjoy. Your piece is dated from the early 1900’s and is in excellent shape. I’ve seen these sell on eBay for around $300 when complete. Any information you have on what building it came from would make it more valuable and in some cases a collector might pay more if it was complete or if photos accompanied the piece at auction. For restoration services there’s no better company than C.J. Anderson to assist with it. They can even add a push button to it, while not original to make it “look” the same way it did the day when it was installed.
Enjoy the image gallery below.
These photos were shared by C.J. Anderson & Company who restored them for a very old and historical building in San Francisco California. Two car switches were brought back to there original condition and the one red lens, which was cracked was replicated using a cast resin from a mold taken from the original lens. It’s truly amazing the dirt and history that these two car switches showed. Considering they’ve been in operation for over 50 years it was an honor to bring them back to the day they were first installed. Keep this in mind if you’re looking to have your original castings restored in your elevator. It’s worth the cost for doing so and you’ll most likely get another 40-50 years out of service from your elevator by doing so.
- Refinished Panels, coated/sealed once completed
- Rebuilt Latch For Handle
- Replicated Red Octagon Lens
- Created New Trim Ring For Lens and Added Lamp
Before & After Photos
A requirement by the elevator code all elevators must have a set of wiring diagrams located in the machine room no matter how old they might be. This not only helps the mechanic work on the equipment in a safer manor but it should make the repair much easier and quicker, thus saving you money on your repair bill. It should minimize the time involved with trouble shooting.
The wiring diagrams for the elevator system are the building owners property. Get two sets, one to keep in the elevator machine room and the other in a safe place. Always have a copy somewhere as they have a tenancy to walk away when maintenance is switched to a new company. If you’re in a bind with an elevator system that has a manufacturer that may have gone out of business or is really old, contact Jim Collett at the number or e-mail address below. He has the largest collection of wiring diagrams for sale in our industry, plus he’s a good guy and author of The Elevator Man Stories.
Need a Wiring Diagram?
My technical library consists of 30,000 sheets of hard-to-find, vintage and out-of-business Elevator Companies’ wiring diagrams, manuals and engineering releases. They range from the early 1900s through the late 1980s.
I was hired for my first job as an Electrical Draftsman by Haughton Elevator Company in the early 1960s in Los Angeles, CA.
I also have the software and equipment necessary to re-draw, restore and markup existing elevator wiring diagrams. Completed diagrams can be converted to all popular formats, i.e. JPEG, PDF and Auto CAD.
I am also able to digitize all of your wiring diagrams, manuals and other pertinent information and load it on to a thumb drive for use in the field on portable devices such as tablets or laptops.
For more information and pricing please contact me at:
***Sorry, I cannot supply “Proprietary Information.”***
One of the cool things about being a contributor to this website is all the great content that you get to see and come in contact with. We recently acquired a Sweets catalog from 1906 from an auction and it’s in excellent condition being over 100 years old. It provides an excellent history of elevator equipment from this era and the photos are in great condition.
We received an e-mail asking for assistance on what an elevator cage or door from the 1910-1920 would look like. The photo attached provides a pretty good idea of what you would have seen if you were to have ridden an elevator from this time period. Car Switch manual controls were the standard operation and safety devices were not what they are today.
Have an older elevator controller? Replace it with a “Like for Like” and extend the life of your unit.
In some cities and towns replacing older antiquated elevator controls with newer modern ones can be an extremely expensive proposition. Typically it’s not only the cost of the controller and installation for putting it in but the entire elevator needs to be brought up to what the most recent code that your city/state has adopted. This includes fire service and ADA requirements and other devices that can easily run over $100,000 depending on how much work needs to be done.
***Disclaimer: It should be noted that it’s a good idea to considering making this kind of upgrade to your elevator as the elevator code is there to protect those who ride, work and inspect them. At some point you’ll need to make improvements and these may be mandated by your state or city, such as adding Fire Service or making sure that certain safety features are installed under ASME A17.3 which again is there to keep everyone safe and minimize your liability. So if you see this coming down the pipeline you should start the planning/budgeting process to avoid last minute rush charges. Ask your elevator contractor to provide their take on what they see happening in the future***
The elevator control system is the brain of the elevator and as systems age parts and components become more difficult to get, in some cases special fabrication is required and elevators can be down for weeks while the parts are made. This can be a serious issue for any building that relies on the buildings elevator system for accessibility. C.J. Anderson has thousands and thousands of older type open relay panels still running today and we still have coils, copper contacts and carbon contacts readily for them. As you can imagine there is still a demand for them as well. Some of these controllers have been running since 1910 and will continue to run another 100 years because they were engineered and built to last. The key point here is to let you know that as soon as the controller is replaced with a newer model/style with a different type of motor control and logic the entire elevator needs to be brought up to the latest code adopted by the jurisdiction where the elevator is installed. This is considered a major alteration. This is where the fire service, ADA, unintended movement, etc. all start to become expensive items on the proposal that your contractor has worked up for you. In some cases, adding a fire alarm system throughout the entire building is the other expense most don’t think about. Consult your local Fire Department to see what else might be required with this kind of upgrade.
C.J. Anderson has been successful in engineering and fabricating “Like for Like” elevator controllers for certain locations where parts for controllers can no longer be found or fabricated. We along with other inspectors and AHJ’s have interpreted this as a repair/replacement as defined by A17.3. below.
replacement: the substitution of a device or component and/or subsystems in its entirety, with a unit that is basically the same as the original for the purpose of ensuring performance in accordance with applicable Code requirements.
Note that under the alteration definition, some interpret it that while the controller is being replaced in it’s entirety, it is considered a substitution because the motor logic and the logic of the elevator system is not “changing”. If the new controller had a different type of motor control, upgrading to a VVVF drive or logic that was computer based instead of relay, this would be considered a “change”. It is vital that you or your elevator contractor double check with your local AHJ if a like for like controller replacement is acceptable before going through the motions of quoting, ordering and installing such a system.
alteration: any change to equipment, including its parts, components, and/or subsystems, other than maintenance, repair or replacement.
Conditions that we’ve had to meet when engineering and building these types of controls are noted below.
Condition 1. The logic of the elevator system does not change. For example, if the existing controller is run using relays, whether they be old style carbon, copper coil type or the newer ice cube relay type, you CANNOT install a new controller with a computer or microprocessor to control the logic. It must remain relay logic.
Condition 2. The motor control cannot change. You are not allowed to install a computer controlled VVVF Drive on an elevator that has a resistor type soft start.
(pictured above: 2 Speed Open Panel “Original” Controller Replaced By Newer Style 2 Speed Controller)
Benefits of purchasing a Like for Like controller are really the availability of parts. Without adding microprocessors, which can be obsolete in 10-15 years or solid state motor drives, which also can be obsolete in 10-15 years there’s little that can’t be replaced from a local electrical distributor by your elevator mechanic. This makes swapping out components in the future and making the like for like controller last much longer than any newer elevator controller that runs off a PLC and Solid state drive.
***IMPORTANT: It is imperative that you understand the performance of your elevator, ride quality, etc. will not improve with a like for like replacement. Only a new solid state elevator controller can provide you that type of improvement.
Also note that on a few like for like controllers we’ve built AHJ’s have actually requested that Fire Service be added to the system as an upgrade. Not a very common request we can add it but this part of the controller MUST be run by a microprocessor so this too is an important item to note when speaking with your AHJ. All relay logic controllers are built with single automatic operation. Full automatic operation is not available.
When considering this kind of project make sure you double check with your local elevator inspector, AHJ to ensure that understand what you are attempting to accomplish.
Contact http://www.cjanderson.com for more information or ask your elevator maintenance provider to give you a quote.
One of the coolest buttons, perhaps developed before it’s time was the Otis “Touch” button which was motionless. This button was very common back in the 1960’s and up into the 1970’s and 80’s. Contrary to how most assume the button worked it was not heat sensitive. It actually worked on the principle of sensing a voltage change that occurred inside a glass tube. A finger touching the face of the button created this drop which then activated the the tube directly behind the button. Again, pretty darn cool and a product ahead of it’s time.
I received this e-mail from George asking for more information on a car switch he purchased. It’s got a Payne Elevator Tag on it but I don’t believe that Payne was fabricating car switches back in the day. The location is Cambridge, MA and any information you can provide would be helpful. Please leave your feedback in the comments section. Cool piece and photographs.
This has to be one of the coolest articles I’ve read in a while. While we often hear about elevator shaft ways being walled in only to be discovered years and decades later in old buildings and residential properties it’s not every day you read about a pair of escalators being discovered. The actual article was written by a representative from Peelle. For more information visit www.peelledoor.com but remember that they no longer make escalators as the article below points out.
For Immediate Release
Recently a pair of Peelle Escalators were discovered after being hidden by flower boxes for almost 40-years. Originally installed in 1955, the five story, 76,375 square foot building housed the American National Bank; it was the first major example of modernist architecture in Austin, TX, it included a full walled modern art mural and possibly Austin’s first escalators.
In 1971 the building was later purchased by the State of Texas for the Controller’s office. In an effort to demonstrate fiscal responsibility they suspended use of the Peelle escalators to conserve energy. The state enclosed in the escalators and built flower boxes on both levels. In a developer recently purchased the building for multi-use and renamed it The Starr Building.
During remodeling the Peelle escalators installed some 40 years earlier, long since forgotten, were discovered when the contractor removed flower boxes. They powered the Peelle escalators and they operated; the owner has contracted an elevator maintenance company so a proper evaluation and modernization can be made.
Although Peelle no longer manufactures escalators the story is a testament to the quality Peelle places on all of its product lines. For more information contact Mike Ryan @ email@example.com.
This month the Elevator History Museum (elevatorhistory.org) will be opening in Long Island City, New York. Founder and Curator of the museum, Patrick Carrajat, is asking for our assistance in helping preserve the history of our trade by donating any old artifacts that could be displayed at the museum. He says he already has a good collection of antique elevator components from the east coast but his west coast catalogs lacks some. If anyone has anything they would like to display at this museum please contact Patrick directly at 917.748.2328.
For more information please click the two .pdf documents below.