Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Pacific Elevator and Equipment Company Car Switch Refurbishment

Pacific Elevator and Equipment Company Car Switch Refurbishment

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

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.

Work Performed

  • 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

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Posted in Articles, Elevators - 1900-1930, Elevators - 1931-1950 | 1 Comment

Wiring Diagrams For Old Elevators…a Code Requirement!

Wiring Diagrams For Old Elevators…a Code Requirement!

Monday, June 25th, 2012

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:
(831) 324-4697

Jim Collett
***Sorry, I cannot supply “Proprietary Information.”***

Posted in Articles, Elevators - 1900-1930, Elevators - 1931-1950, Elevators - 1951-1970, Elevators - 1971-1990, Elevators - 1991-2010, Elevators - Pre 1900's | No Comments

1906 – Elevator Birdcage & Enclosure Design

1906 – Elevator Birdcage & Enclosure Design

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

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.

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Posted in Articles, Elevators - 1900-1930 | No Comments

Have an older elevator controller? Replace it with a “Like for Like” and extend the life of your unit.

Have an older elevator controller? Replace it with a “Like for Like” and extend the life of your unit.

Friday, March 30th, 2012

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 for more information or ask your elevator maintenance provider to give you a quote.

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Posted in Articles, Elevators - 1900-1930, Elevators - 1931-1950, Elevators - 1951-1970, Elevators - 1971-1990 | No Comments

Brick & Mortar Elevator Museum Opens 6-29-2011

Brick & Mortar Elevator Museum Opens 6-29-2011

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

This month the Elevator History Museum ( 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.



Posted in Articles, Elevators - 1900-1930, Elevators - 1931-1950, Elevators - 1951-1970, Elevators - 1971-1990, Elevators - 1991-2010, Elevators - Pre 1900's | 1 Comment

Titche-Goettinger Building Elevator Rediscovered

Titche-Goettinger Building Elevator Rediscovered

Monday, May 16th, 2011

I’m doing some research on an Otis elevator installed in 1929 for the Titche-Goettinger department store in Dallas, Texas. The elevator features a manual control system and folding bench. During a 1950s renovation the interior of the cab was redecorated and the ceiling lowered with the addition of a fan (the original moulding can be seen above the later ceiling. The walls are currently a green vinyl. Originally there were 8 elevators; 4 were removed when escalators were added in the 1950s and only 2 remain in operation today (the building now houses apartments and a university). In the mid-90s elevator #1 was raised from the basement and welded into place but was never renovated due to lack of funds. It remained sealed and forgotten until now.

In celebration of the building’s history volunteers would like to clean it up to a “displayable” condition. We’re looking for any information about reproduction parts (a stool), cleaning suggestions and knowledge about the functionality of the different controls/switches. I’ve included some recent photos and a Dallas Morning News article from November 1930.

 The department store closed in the late 80s and was converted to loft apartments in 1997 (some history of the building: ( The development team at the time raised the No. 1 elevator up from the basement and welded it into place to use as a phone booth, but funds ran out and they simply closed it up to keep it secure.

The building was listed to the National Register of Historic Places and is getting a plaque to celebrate the occasion. It will include hosting a community history day and open house in June to tour some of the old areas in the building (and hopefully some of the old store employees will attend). The old elevator was recently “rediscovered” by new staff and the residents (of which I am one) have volunteered to clean it up for the event. Initially it just needs a good scrubbing for the event, but we could use that opportunity to raise donations for a more thorough cosmetic restoration. I along with many other residents have never seen a manually controlled elevator like this, so it’s very interesting. Old articles report a team of 13 women who operated them up until the store’s closing.

It’s obvious the elevator has been modified over time. When a major store expansion occurred in the 1950s the interior of the elevator was “modernized”. There’s no telling if there is anything original left under the green vinyl panels, but the 1950s style is still interesting. There’s currently no power or lights inside the cab. The elevator penthouse still has all of the original machinery, and even contains a big board with all of the original tools in place. The 2 remaining elevators were completely modernized in 1997.

Need assistance in refurbishing elevator equipment. If you can assist please comment in space below.

Posted in Articles, Elevators - 1900-1930 | 4 Comments

Forget Ebay When Buying or Selling Your Elevator Parts!

Forget Ebay When Buying or Selling Your Elevator Parts!

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Forget Ebay, it’s become an over glorified place for power sellers to list anything and everything! Go ahead, do a key word search for “elevator”. You’ll find more elevator shoes, dental instruments and yes, some type of gynecological tool that should not be shown let alone sold online.

If you are looking to purchase an old elevator or old elevator equipment there’s a place for you. If you’re looking to sell old elevator equipment, there’s a place for you. The best part is that it’s free! Yes, 100% free. Go ahead; post an online auction item, a classified ad, a barter/trade item! Have fun with it and use it till your heart’s content!

Visit and become a member today!

Posted in Articles | No Comments

Elevator Museums

Monday, March 21st, 2011

A nice e-mail from Robert Vogel regarding elevator museums in Europe. I wanted to share this with everyone who might be interested. Currently there is one online Elevator Museum supported by Elevator World Magazine. 


Elevator Museums 

When last I looked (1987, I think it was), there appeared to be exactly two elevator museums in the entire world:
One was/is near Amsterdam, consisting of a good collection of early of elevator equipment, both hydraulic and electric, assembled by Otis’s Netherlands agent (whose name I now forget). As I recall, it wasn’t staffed and was open only by application to the above-mentioned man.
The other was/is in Budapest. It was organized by the manager of the (Communist) state elevator factory. Like his Dutch counterpart, he had an abiding interest in elevator history, and whenever they pulled out an early machine or lift system to replace it with modern equipment, he would appropriate it for his museum.
I had the pleasure of visiting both establishments in about the above year, to find, not too surprisingly, that neither was exactly overrun with other visitors. The Hungarian collection was a bit less interesting than the Dutch, most of the machines being relatively small drum electrics, plus a middle-aged car or two.   I’ve had no contact with either since then and, in fact, have to wonder whether either survives today, what with the likely retirement of both men, and particularly Hungary’s radically changed political basis.

Robert Vogel

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Posted in Articles | 1 Comment

For Sale – 1894 Otis Elevator

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I work with a general contracting company.  We are restoring a 1894 building that has an old Otis elevator.  We are interested in selling the entire elevator if possible.  We are willing to split it up if necessary, though.  Attached you will find pictures of the elevator. 


If anyone is interested in this unique piece please contact Sara at Phoenix of Ohio 740-382-8889.

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Posted in Articles, Elevators - Pre 1900's | 1 Comment

Elevator Operators Wanted!

Elevator Operators Wanted!

Friday, September 24th, 2010

We want you! If you command an elevator in your day job we want to hear from you. Send your pictures and stories to us. Our plan is to put together a collection of photos, stories and building history into one cool easy to read section on our website. And if we get enough stories and photos we might even publish a book.

This is what we need from you.

Your Name:

The Building Where You Are/Were An Elevator Operator, City, State, Address, Building Name:

How Many Years You Ran The Elevators:

Photographs of Elevator and You:

Most Memorable Stories:

So if you are or ever worked as an elevator operator send us an e-mail at

Posted in Articles | 1 Comment

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