Summit Triple Repair Update
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Written by John Lowell
It is my unfortunate duty to inform you all that despite the best efforts of our lift mechanic team here at Attitash – as well as that of outside specialists – we will be unable to reopen the Summit Triple for the remainder of the 2018/2019 season.
For some background, the work thus far has been all about trying to get access to the upper bearing in the bullwheel hub that allows the bullwheel to spin. While we have been able to access this bearing and have indeed found that it is damaged, upon further inspection we noticed an issue with some of the nosecone gearing in the upper gearbox of the lift. Further testing at Artec has shown us that these gears are not meshing properly. Unfortunately, this prohibits us from operating the lift safely.
We are now in the process of sourcing new gearing for the upper gearbox, but the company that originally made these gears is not only based in Switzerland and requires a four to six week lead time to produce the new gearing. With the tolerances needed for the inner workings of this lift, there is really only one company in the world capable of doing the work needed. Due to this, the resulting repair process will have to be finished over the coming summer.
While I wish I had better news for you, I am confident that we will go into next season with a fully functioning Summit Triple. The upside of all the work we’ve done on this lift this season is that now two-thirds of the lift has been rebuilt, inspected, and/or tested in the past year, along with plenty of upcoming scheduled maintenance this summer. With all of this work, we’re confident that we will once again be able to offer reliable summit access via the Summit Triple for the 2019/2020 season.
Now for the elephant in the room. We’ve heard your calls for a new lift to replace the Summit Triple, and while we appreciate all your feedback, this is not a project our parent company, Peak Resorts, is looking to do in the near future. While we continue to invest significant amounts of money in capital projects annually into Attitash and Wildcat, a new lift is just not in the plans for the near future. I know this is not what you all wanted to hear, but we feel that our passholders and guests all deserve an answer one way or another.
We know this has been a frustrating process for you all, as it has been for us as well, and we would like to thank you for your patience and kind words during this process.
With the planetary gear and drive undergoing testing, we are awaiting new information from the good folks at Artec. In the meantime, we wanted to let you know that the Summit Triple will not be operational this weekend. Stay tuned for further updates.
Both Friday and Saturday of this week, our lift maintenance crew along with help from Pfister Lift Services and Artec Machine hit a few key benchmarks in the repair process. On Friday, we had a 100 ton crane on site to help with the lowering of the bullwheel and planetary gear housing (the hub of the bullwheel) which weighs approximately 12,000 pounds.
Once on the ground, we immediately began removing hardware holding the planetary gear housing to the bullwheel. This was done with 3, 60 ton presses as the interference between the bullwheel and planetary is just a few 1/1000 of an inch! Once removed, the bull wheel was set off to the side and the entire planetary was shipped off to CT to meet up with the gearbox.
Artec machine is now putting the entire drive line through a series of tests. They will run these large gears through a series of tests as well as install new bearings that have been flown in from Kissling in Switzerland.
Although this seems like it has been a slow process, we can assure you we continue to do everything to get this lift up and running as soon as possible.
Work continues as we send out the gearbox for special testing.
Work has been continuing here at the Summit Triple, as we were able to fully remove the upper gearbox on Wednesday and bring it into our shop at Attitash for closer inspection. Finding nothing out of the ordinary that we could see, we have sent the gearbox down to Artec in Connecticut, who will be able to run it through some highly advanced computerized testing. The gearbox left here at 3 a.m. Thursday and arrived at Artec at 8 a.m. yesterday and is already in the midst of testing.
The next step will be lowering the bullwheel and planetary housing, as well as the drive shaft and upper and lower bearings. Once we have all of this out, we will also be sending it down to Connecticut for further testing.
In the meantime, two new bullwheel bearings are being flown in from Switzerland and will be ready to be installed once the upper gearbox and planetary gears come back from Artec, most likely on Thursday, but potentially earlier if possible. We’re hoping to hear more about the preliminary testing results soon and will be sure to keep you posted.
Once everything is back onsite, our crews will go ahead and begin to reassemble the lift.
As you can probably infer, we will not have the Summit Triple for the coming weekend, but hopefully we are moving ever closer to seeing it spin once again. Thank you all for your patience and kind words.
There’s a flurry of activity at the bottom of the Summit Triple today.
Yesterday, we all sat down as a team with the new technicians we have onsite and crafted a plan of attack for the rest of this project. Once the planning session was over, we returned to the lift and were able to drop the planetary gear set and bring it into our heated shop for closer inspection. Now that it’s inside, we can give it a closer look for any uneven wear or other potential issues.
Today, we’re turning our focus onto the bullwheel and the upper gear box.
During this time, the other half of the crew has been up on the top of the lift preparing to pull the upper gearbox, which is now ready to be lowered to the ground. In order to accomplish this, we’ve removed the roof of the lift terminal and the main door, so that we can utilize an overhead I-beam to lift and move the 5,000 lbs. gearbox and lower to the ground outside of the lift.
As with dropping the cable, dropping the bullwheel and pulling the upper gearbox are projects that require a lot of planning and preparation, but when ready, happen fairly quickly.
Please stay tuned for further updates. The Summit Triple will not be in operation this weekend.
Today marks the arrival of the two specialists, Pfister Mountain Services, and ARTEC, the gearbox specialist out of Connecticut. Their arrival onsite is perfectly timed, as all the work we’ve been doing so far has been in preparation for the work these technicians specialize in. We are having a status and planning meeting in the morning with these technicians and our onsite crew to get everyone up to speed and talk through the best plan of attack for the next few days. After that, it’s off to work!
Thanks again for your patience through this tough time.
Today was all about putting the final touches on everything, ahead of dropping the lift cable tomorrow, as well as prepping the upper gearbox for removal.
This morning our crews double and triple checked their rigging on the main lift cable in preparation for removing it from the bullwheel. We debated dropping the cable at the end of the day today, but decided to save it for first thing tomorrow morning, so that we can be around and monitor it. It’s interesting, it takes days to prep for the cable drop, but the actual process of dropping the cable should take 10 minutes at the most.
While the final cable checks were occurring, the last of the sensors, switches, and the massive emergency brakes were removed from above the bullwheel to ready it to be dropped in the future, if need be.
At the same time, our crews were working up inside of the lift preparing the upper gearbox for removal. This included removing the lubrication systems and sensors from the upper gearbox. This process went smoothly, and we expect to be able to raise this gearbox tomorrow.Once we have removed the upper gearbox, we’ll have our first real look into the coupling that attaches the upper gearbox to the planetary gearbox. Hopefully this will give us a better view of the problem, so that we can begin to fix it.
Today also marked the arrival of several specialists, including rigging specialists from Southern New Hampshire, and the gearbox specialist out of Connecticut. Their arrival onsite is perfectly timed, as all the work we’ve been doing so far has been in preparation for the work these technicians specialize in. We’ll have a status and planning meeting in the morning with these technicians and our onsite crew to get everyone up to speed and talk through the best plan of attack for the next few days. After that, it’s off to work!
Thanks again for your patience through this tough time.
Work continues on the process of rigging the cable in preparation to remove it from the bullwheel, and readying the bullwheel to be dropped.
Today, our crew once again focused on rigging the cable to be removed from the bullwheel tomorrow. In order to do this, they are using clamps to secure the cable to the base of the lift station, so that we can be sure the cable won’t move when we slide the lift carriage forward and take the tension off the bullwheel.
While part of the crew is working on the cable rigging, the rest of them have been removing the variety of sensors and safety mechanisms that we mentioned in yesterday’s blog. These include items such as the rollback protection devices, the plane monitoring system, and the emergency brakes.
As for tomorrow’s plans, we’ll be running final tests to be sure the cable is properly secured and then hope to move the lift carriage forward to remove the cable from the bullwheel. Tomorrow will also mark the arrival of one the top Kissling Gearbox, Planetary Gearbox Specialists in the country, who is just finishing up a job in California, and flying our way today. It will be a huge help to have his expertise on this project, as he has done this kind of job hundreds of times. We’re looking forward to having another seasoned set of eyes on site, as well as his lifetime of knowledge with the inner workings of these gear systems.
Please check back tomorrow for another status update.
Today was all about prepping and rigging to get ready to pull the cable off of the bullwheel, so that we can drop the bullwheel and get to the heart of the problem.
Today, our team attached the plate clamps to the lift cable that will allow us to tie the cable off to supports on the bottom of the lift and take the tension off of the bullwheel.
While part of the team has been prepping the cable, the rest of them have been busy at work removing the myriad of sensors, switches, and safety systems that are all positioned on the bullwheel.
These preparations took the majority of today and will continue through at least Saturday and maybe even into Sunday morning. Once we get the cable off, and the bullwheel removed, we believe we will be able to identify which bearing is having the issue and have the correct part flown in overnight.
While this may seem like things are moving along slowly to some of you, this job is something that normally takes months of planning and execution to pull off, even during ideal conditions in the summer months. This is exactly why we went ahead and rebuilt this entire system in the summer of 2014, which should have meant it would be all set for another 15+ years. Obviously some piece failed way before the end of its usable life, and we’re going to be interested to figure out how and why it did to prevent this from happening on this lift, as well as other lifts by this manufacturer.
The amount of work, planning, and preparation that our team has been able to accomplish over the past five days would normally be a done over at least three weeks or more, and we’re incredibly proud of the work they’ve been able to accomplish. Once this project is done, I’d encourage you to buy these guys a round if you see them in the lodge.
We’ll be sure to keep you all updated on the progress, so please keep checking back on this blog.
Another day of progress here on The Summit Triple, as our crews were able to fully drop the bottom plate to expose the entirety of the planetary gear system.
Our guys started up first thing this morning with the laborious process of lowering the bottom plate on the planetary gear system. Since this plate weighs hundreds of pounds, it was critical we take our time and accomplish this safely. Once the bottom plate was removed, we finally had our first clear look into the planetary system, and we saw…nothing. While this sounds anticlimactic, it allows us to rule out the planetary system as the cause of the problem.
So, you may be asking, what’s next? Well, since we were able to rule out the planetary system, we now know that the issue is closer to the very inner workings of the bullwheel. Now that we know the planetary is not the issue, we will begin preparations to drop the bullwheel, where we believe we will find the root of the problem in the main bearing of the bullwheel.
These preparations are going to take time, but thanks to some specialized rigging we got from the lift maintenance team at Mount Snow, this will go a lot easier. First up, we need to rig the lift cable to be removed from the bullwheel. This is a process that will take at least a full day of rigging, planning and prep. Once the cable is removed, we will continue rigging the bullwheel in preparation for lowering it. This involves another full day of work, including removing the emergency breaking system on the lift. Right now, we anticipate being able to drop the bullwheel this weekend if all goes to plan.
While we’re making progress, we are still a ways out from a fix for The Summit Triple. As you can probably infer, we won’t have the lift for this coming weekend, and while we don’t currently have a timeline for when this might reopen, we want to assure you that we are doing everything possible to get this lift back up and running.
We thank you for your patience.
Wednesday Afternoon Update:
Today was all about prepping and removing the outer layers that house the planetary gear set of the Summit Triple.
First up, we removed a smaller plate that gave us access for the first time to the center of the planetary gear set. With this removed, we are able to peer right into the very center of the gear set and get a clearer look at an area that has so far been out of reach to us.
As we removed the smaller plate – smaller being a relative term, as the plate weighs 75+ pounds – we noticed a number of metal filings that are certainly not supposed to be there if everything was functioning correctly. [the small plate can be seen in the photo below where Brian is using a screw gun to remove the hex nuts holding it in place] While it’s too early to determine directly where these came from, our hunch is that they came from the bullwheel bearing. The presence of these filings means that we need to continue to remove layers from the planetary gear set to get access to where the bearings are located.
2/26/19 Tuesday Afternoon Update:
Work continues on the Summit Triple, as our teams continued to rule out the potential causes of the issue with our lift.
Since our last update, our crews have fully drained the remaining lube oil from both the upper and lower gearbox and the planetary gears. With this completed, they have been able to start to get a clearer look inside through the use of small inspection ports and borescope cameras which can be fed into the inner workings of the gears. While these cameras are a great tool that allows them to look inside without having to open everything up completely, they only give access to about 1/3 of the inside of the planetary.
Additionally, specialized rigging arrived early this morning from Mount Snow, that will allow our team to remove the lift cable from the bullwheel to prepare the bullwheel to be lowered if needed. Special equipment was also sourced locally in order to prepare to drop the planetary gear system, which will most likely be done tomorrow. Once that system is on the ground, our teams can start to open it up and get a full look inside at what might be the problem.
In addition to specialized equipment, we anticipate the arrival of a team of specialized lift technicians tomorrow that will be able to add their experience to diagnosing the issue with the lift.
We wish we had more to report at this time, but we still do not know the full cause of the issues this lift is experiencing. Please continue checking back on this blog for the most up-to-date and detailed information on the progress of the repair.
Good afternoon. Today, during morning operations, a noise was detected coming from the general area of the bullwheel at the base of our Summit Triple. The lift then continued to run until everyone was offloaded and we made the decision to close the lift for the remainder of the day to begin to diagnose the cause of the noise.
As of this report, we believe the issue is with the planetary gears within the bull wheel itself. We are reaching out to experts in this field to properly test this theory and begin repairs.
For those of you less familiar with the workings of a lift, the bullwheel weighs approximately 3800 pounds and is the large wheel that the cable revolves around at the top and bottom of the lift. The lower bullwheel is powered by an electric motor which turns the planetary gears within the bullwheel and advances the lift cable.
We understand that this is not what any of you were wanting to hear in the middle of a weekend, and we want to assure you that we’re going to do all we can to get the lift running as soon as possible.