Summit Triple Lift Status Update
Saturday, December 29, 2018
Written by John Lowell
Summit Triple Lift Status Update
UPDATE: January 12, 2019 10:45am - It’s Alive
As you might be aware, our Summit Triple Lift has unfortunately been down for a number of days. During this time, our Attitash Mountain Operations team, along with two of the best lift electrical mechanics in the country from New Hampshire Electric Motors, and representatives from the New Hampshire Tram Board, have been working round-the-clock to diagnose, address, and fix the issue. While they have been making progress, at this time we are unable to give you an estimated reopening date and time. Please check back on this blog for the most up-to-date information on this fix.
Now for a little background on this lift and the process so far. Over the past Summer, in preparation for the upcoming winter, we performed extensive scheduled and required maintenance as advised by lift manufacturer, C-Tec. Along with the recommended work, we also performed a large amount of additional maintenance to this lift including:
- A complete rebuild of the electric drive motor.
- A complete rebuild of the hydraulic tension system.
- Installation of a re-machined brake disc, with a new brake disc coupling system.
As you can imagine, lifts are very complicated pieces of machinery that are expected to function in conditions where most mechanical systems wouldn’t. They are able to to so, both because they are designed to withstand that which Mother Nature throws at them, and because of extensive lift maintenance plans and procedures. With this in mind, we pride ourselves on our preventative lift maintenance programs here at Attitash, which go above and beyond manufacturer recommendations.
After all of our off-season updates and maintenance, the Summit Triple had been working flawlessly in the run up to the season. That is, until a single squirrel threw a metaphorical wrench in our plans, back on December 17, 2018, when they decided to step on the wrong part of the line that feeds power to our entire resort. We regret to inform you, but the squirrel is now up in the great oak tree in the sky, R.I.P. little guy.
Since that unfortunate incident, we’ve been dealing with a number of electrical faults that have affected lift operations so far this season. On the bright side, due to the fact that we know it is an electrical issue, we can rule out anything mechanically and structurally that might be wrong.
While our crews continue to work around the clock, we wanted to fill you in on some of the work they’ve done so far. Below you’ll find an approximate timeline of what has been accomplished over the last few days, along with some photos of the process and our hard-working lift mechanic team.
**MOST RECENT UPDATES APPEAR FIRST**
Work continues well into the night over at The Summit Triple, as our crews once again worked until midnight last night installing, tuning, and testing the new drive. Work then commenced before sunrise this morning, as our team focused on tuning the interface that connects the drive with the lift control system to prepare it for testing.
Once all tuning is complete, we plan to begin load testing the lift at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. This is an involved process that includes loading 300, 25-gallon containers filled with water onto the chairs of the lift and then running it through a series of tests to ensure everything is working properly. Once this load test is complete, we will fully unload the lift, and continue testing. If everything goes to plan, this should conclude around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.
If testing goes well, we will begin pre-operational inspections of the lift, as we normally would each morning before operations. During this time, we will also be building the ramps and setting up the maze. At this point, we plan to reopen the lift to the public by midday on Saturday. Please continue to check the snow report tomorrow morning for additional updates and opening times.
Thank you again for your patience.
January 10, 2019 – Work Progressing
The Summit Triple continues to be a hive of activity during the past 36 hours, and so we wanted to take a moment and update you all on what we've been up to.
- A technician from SkyTrac Lifts arrived onsite from Salt Lake City on Wednesday and immediately got to work with our crew to install several new components. These include: new mounting hardware for the new drive, a new AC to DC converter, and a new wiring interface that connects the drive into the control system of the lift (start button, stop button, etc.), and several other smaller parts.
- Today and tonight are going to be all about getting the new drive ready for install. In order to do this, the team will be working late into the night tonight and starting again early tomorrow morning. This process should take 18-20 man hours if everything goes to plan. Once the drive is installed, our technicians will have to tune it to work in harmony with the lift, which should take about 2-4 hours of fine tuning.
- Once these installations are all complete, we will need to start up the lift for basic testing and tuning, followed by a full load test on Friday. We will also be meeting with the NH Tramboard at 10 a.m. on Friday, so they can inspect and signoff on the work we’ve done.
All in all, this process has been going to plan so far, and we are still shooting to have this lift operational for the weekend. Please keep checking back on this blog for updates.
January 8, 2019 - Light at the end of the tunnel
As you may have noticed, The Summit Triple was not running today. We've gone ahead and decided to replace the entire drive of the lift in order to get to the root of the issue and solve things once-and-for-all. While we had originally considered waiting until after the coming weekend to begin this work, we decided that there is no time like the present to get this fix going, and so will be diving into it today.
Here is the timeline for the coming week:
- Several parts arrived today, with the main drive system scheduled to arrive from Salt Lake City tomorrow morning.
- Wednesday morning, a technician from SkyTrac Lifts , along with our lift mechanic team here at Attitash and several technicians from some of our sister resorts, will get to work installing this new drive system, which is scheduled to take two days and finish up on Thursday.
- Once the work has been completed, we will begin load testing the new lift under the supervision of the New Hampshire Tramway Board. This process is slated to take place on Friday and if everything goes right, we plan on having the lift spinning for the coming weekend.
January 4, 2019 – The Gremlin Persists
- While yesterday's testing helped to shed some light into the issues that continue to plague us here with the Summit Triple, we regret to inform you that it still remains closed
- Today's work, which started in the early hours of the morning, has involved testing and retesting several of the components involved in the connection that brings power into the lift. To give you some background and insight into where we're working again today, we've broken it all down for you. First, the power comes off the line from our utility company as AC power, where it is then converted into usable DC power, which is then used to power the electric motor which drives the lift and spins the bullwheel. This process is all controlled by a system collectively referred to as "the drive." Today we will continue to troubleshoot the pieces of the puzzle between these two points, including underground wires, the drive system, SCR resistors, and several other components.
- Basically, somewhere between the power source and the electric motor that drives the lift, there is a persistent little gremlin that needs to be found. We know the power is coming off the wire clean, but by the time it gets to the DC motor is it no longer useable. This gremlin moved in 8 days ago and we are trying our hardest to evict him. Once he's gone, we should be good to go.
January 3, 2019 - Planned Power Outages
- The Summit Triple remains closed today, as we continue testing to diagnose and fix power supply issues that are still affecting this lift.
- In the early hours of this morning, we conducted a controlled power outage to our resort for 30 minutes to allow technicians to install advanced testing equipment to electrical supply that feeds the Summit Triple. This testing equipment with offer us a clearer picture of the continued electrical supply issues to the lift and hopefully help us get to the root of the problem. These tests take several hours and so we plan to continue testing throughout the day on this power supply.
- After lifts close for the day, we will once again conduct another controlled power outage to allow the electricians to remove their equipment.
- If all goes well with this testing, we have a tentative plan to reopen the Summit Triple in time for Friday morning operations.
- As some of you may have seen, the Summit Triple was up and running to start the New Year and ran virtually flawlessly. However at the end of the day we detected a few additional electrical gremlins that we need to deal with.
- Therefore, the Summit Triple will remain on hold. Please keep an eye on our snow report for lift openings and updates.
- With winds topping 50mph at the summit the Summit Triple was on hold allowing us to do some further testing and unfortunately we found an issue with an unbalanced power feed.
- New Hampshire Motor and Attitash Teams continued working through the day and at 4:03pm the lift is spinning. We will be conducting tests this evening and calibrating to ensure it is ready for guests and pass holders in the morning. At this time we anticipate the Summit Triple to spin and operate as normal on December 31, 2018. Please check the snow report in the morning.
After working through the night on our Summit Triple, we are sorry to say that we still do not have an anticipated opening time for this lift.
Our crews spent another night working in the drive of the lift, during which they completely removed the entire drive system in order to access key parts that could be potentially causing the problems we are experiencing. As dawn broke they had managed to replace the parts and get the drive system back together and begin testing. As testing began, it became quickly apparent that the lift was still experiencing issues.
Our crews, along with the folks from New Hampshire Electric Motors are now exploring other areas and components that could be causing these issues.
- Summit Triple opens to the public at 8:19 a.m. after operating as normal during morning testing and operation.
- At 9:55 a.m., the lift was approximately 90% loaded and was stopped due to a mis-unload which triggered the stop gate at the top of the lift as designed.
- The lift failed to restart.
- Attitash mountain ops uses Auxiliary Diesel Power to off-load guests rather than take more time to diagnose the issue while the public was “in the air”.
- All guests are offloaded within 37 minutes of lift stoppage.
- Attitash’s lift electrical & mechanical teams work on replacing & rebuilding entire lift electrical drive with assistance from New Hampshire Electric Motors in order to continue to isolate potential problems. A process which took nearly 36 hours and included replacing all 12 SCR (Silicon Controlled Rectifier) boards and was concluded at 11 p.m. on December 28, 2018.
- Lift is turned on for testing at 11 p.m and all signals indicate the system is operational, but the motor does not spin.
- A team from New Hampshire Electric Motor arrives with a new drive control board that was overnighted from Sabina Electric of Sabina, OH., and takes the old board back to their shop for further testing.
- New drive control board is installed and the lift is tested and calibrated with everything appearing to be function as it should. The Summit Triple is then prepared to reopen for the following morning.
- Summit Triple starts up no problem and functions normally through pre-op testing.
- Ski Patrol loads the lift for a ride to the summit in order to start accessing trails for the day.
- During this first ride, The Summit Triple stops and patrol is once again offloaded utilizing Auxiliary Diesel Power. The Summit Triple then stays closed for the rest of the day, as our lift mechanic team works to identify the ongoing issue.
- Summit Triple operates flawlessly and runs through the day.
- During the pre-public opening operations, the lift again registers a current unbalance indication. To rectify the issue, a contact block which had an intermittent issue was replaced, followed by extensive testing and calibration.
- Summit Triple starts up no problem in the morning. Ski Patrol begins to ride to the summit to start accessing trails as part of daily opening procedures. During their ride, the drive control board directs the lift to stop, as a signal indicates an electrical current unbalance.
- Patrol are then offloaded on Auxiliary Diesel Power.
- Tom Bates, lift electrical mechanic from New Hampshire Electric Motors, is brought on-site to assist with the electrical supply issue. During this time, the drive control board is replaced as a short is found.
- After this replacement the lift is operational and functioning as normal as it undergoes necessary tests. When drive control boards are replaced many calibrations are required, such as ensuring the lift stops as designed, maximum speed is attained, and chair stopping distance remains uniform.
- Summit Triple closed for the day due to some unfrozen precipitation.
- Attitash opens, and the Summit Triple runs as scheduled.
- An ill-fated squirrel decides to run across a 3-phase power line feeding power into Attitash. Attitash & NH Electric Co-Op worked through the outage and power is restored that morning.
- After the outage, we noticed the first indication of a power supply issue at the Summit Triple. During that day, two fuses blew within the drive control system, which were replaced, along with the drive control board.
We thank you for your patience throughout this entire process and assure you we are doing everything we can to ensure that we have summit access for the remainder of the season. It's only January after all, and we still have plenty of great days ahead of us this year.