Archive for the 'elevators' Category

A Brief Look at the History of the Modern Elevator

Today, most people do not think twice about using an elevator and there are a number of uses for these devices, including not just the traditional office building elevator, but also commercial elevators. Sometimes called just a “lift” in parts of Europe and elsewhere, elevators provide a mechanism for moving people, as well as items, up and down in a building.

The first depiction of an elevator occurs in the Roman times, with some suggesting that Archimedes constructed a basic elevator around 200BC. Lifts have also been traced back to the ancient Egyptian times, as well as the medieval period, where lifts were often used to move goods around the castle. While these early prototypes were typically rope driven elevators, with a rope and pulley system used to move a small car, sometimes powered by cows or other large work animals, a few early hydraulic elevators were developed as well during the eighteen-hundreds, although these were not very efficient.

As is the case with many types of inventions, one of the biggest innovations was aimed at improving safety. This was the invention of the safety elevator, which was first demonstrated in the middle of the eighteen-hundreds by Elisha Otis, who is often considered the father of the elevator. The elevator was designed so that if the elevator should accelerate at an unnatural rate, such as if a cable or rope broke, a special stopping unit would engage, preventing the elevator from falling completely.

Up until this time, passenger elevators were not as common in businesses, in part because of safety concerns, but also technical limitations. Shorty after Otis’s live demonstration of his new and improved elevator safety system, he went on to install his first commercial hydraulic elevator in the brand new E.V. Haughwout Building in New York. Otis went on to have a very successful career building elevators and today the Otis Elevator brand is still well known and, for many in the industry, is synonymous with the passenger elevator.

There are a number of different types of elevators, but they generally fall into two basic categories, mechanical and hydraulic. The first hydraulic elevators, which were developed around the same time Otis was building his safety elevator. However, these generally relied upon a very deep hole located under the elevator shaft. The hole was required to be as deep as the elevator needed to go up, as a result making them impractical for widespread use. Instead the mechanical cable driven elevator, which often used a counter balance system to move the elevator car, would remain popular for some time. By the nineteen-seventies, however, a more efficient hydraulic elevator would be developed and today hydraulic passenger elevators are quite common in shorter buildings.

The path to a safe and efficient elevator is one that did not happen overnight, but thanks to the inventions of Elisha Otis and other pioneers in the development of the passenger elevator, they are very safe and reliable today. Elevators provide not just a quick way of moving between floors, but also a means for those who use wheelchairs or other mobility vehicles to move between floors.

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The Development of a Safe Passenger Elevator

While dumbwaiters, which are a special type of lifting aid, have been used in construction for thousands of years, dating back the times of the early Egyptians, these devices were very rarely used to transport people.

This was in large part due to the dangers associated with early dumbwaiters, which were often only suspended by a rope, which was prone to breaking. As a result, most people were very wary of elevators, so they were seldom used. In big cities, buildings were usually at most five stories high, because this was about as high as most people could climb on the stairs without becoming tired.

Even in early times, the problem with building a passenger elevator was not the lifting mechanism itself, because there were plenty of hoists developed capable of lifting a large amount of weigh. With pascals discoveries 1600’s, there were also several hydraulic lifting systems available, as well as steam powered engines, so lifting was not the problem. Instead, safety was the major barrier preventing the acceptance of the passenger elevator.

The issue of safety was finally addressed by Elisha Graves Otis, who is today known as the father of the passenger elevator. Otis, who was an inventor at heart, was working for a manufacturing company and overseeing the construction of one of their new plants.

After several accidents with their dumbwaiter, which was used to move construction supplies, Otis developed a safety system, which engaged if the dumbwaiter rope broke. The safety system consisted of a spring loaded spike system, which would stick into the sides of the dumbwaiter shaft, stopping the dumbwaiter car, if there was a rope failure.

Once the construction of the new manufacturing plant was complete, Otis was set to move on to California in hopes of finding gold, but before he could leave, he was approached by several builders who were interested in his dumbwaiter brake system. So, instead of leaving New York, Otis stayed and began manufacturing lifts with his built in brake system.

By 1854, Otis had developed his own passenger elevator, which took advantage of the braking system. At the Crystal Palace, he raised the elevator up in the elevator and cut the rope, showcasing the safety of his elevator. Otis would quickly become inundated with request for his elevator, with the first passenger elevator installed in 1857. With this, the Otis Elevator Company was born, which today is one of the most recognized names in the elevator industry.

With the adoption of the passenger elevator, buildings could be built much larger and skyscrapers would soon emerge, with the sky quite literally being the limit. Many elevators would make use of steam power and also hydraulic power.

In 1889, the first electric passenger elevator was installed, which took advantage of Thomas Edison’s central electric system that was installed in New York. By 1894, there were attendentless passenger elevators, which could be operated by the elevator users and less than 100 years after the first Otis elevator, a dispatching system capable of operating a bank of two elevators at once was developed.

Today, the passenger elevator is more popular than ever. It can be found in most large buildings, greatly improving accessibility for the mobility challenged. The passenger elevator is also becoming increasingly popular in residential settings, with several single or double user residential elevator kits available.

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The Different Types of Elevators

elevatorsToday, elevators are more popular than ever. They are used in commercial buildings all over the world and are also found in many homes.

The first passenger elevator was unveiled at the Crystal Palace in 1854. The Crystal Palace is a building located in New York, which was a meeting place for inventors from around the world. This early passenger elevator was designed by Elisha Otis, who is considered to be the father of the elevator. It incorporated a special safety mechanism that prevented the elevator from falling in the event of a cable failure.

For commercial settings, there are three basic drive types that are used to lift an elevator.

Traction elevators

There are two types of traction elevators: Geared and gearless. However, both of these types of elevators utilize electric motors.

Geared traction elevators make use of a special type of gear called a worm gear, which is a special lifting system, which features a gear whose teeth make contact with a screw. As the screw turns, the gear is turned by the threads on the screw. The advantage of a worm gear is that it greatly reduces the amount of work that is required to move something.

The turning gear is responsible for operating the elevators cabling system and can move the elevator at speeds up to 500 feet per minute.

A gearless traction elevator uses a system similar to a geared one, but the electric engine is attached directly to the hoist cable. These elevators can move much quicker than a geared system and utilize a drum brake system, which is similar to the type found on most cars.

Both of these elevators utilize a cable drive system and use a counterweight to reduce the amount of effort it takes to move the elevator. The counterweight is attached to the end of the cable and moves up and down the elevator shaft on its own rail.

The Hydraulic elevators

One of the first hydraulic elevators was developed by the sons of Elisha Otis in 1870. Their elevator used city water and a very innovative way of building up water pressure. However, today most Hydraulic elevators use a special type of oil and share a designed that is based off of an elevator created by Dover Elevator Company.

While many of today’s hydraulic elevators are very similar to the one developed by Dover, there are also a number of other types of hydraulic elevators.

For example, Roped Hydraulic Elevators utilize a cable in combination with hydraulics and twin post hydraulic elevators are able to move higher than a traditional hydraulic elevator.

Another type of elevator is the Holeless Hydraulic elevators. Holeless elevators are unique, because the hydraulic system is located on the elevator. In most other hydraulic episodes, the hydraulics are located on the ground floor.

The Climbing Elevator

These elevators are powered by an electric or a combustion engine, which is contained on the elevator. It climbs a guide rail and are often used on ships and construction sites. On a ship, a climbing elevator is often found on its mast.

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Elisha Otis: The Father of the Elevator

Elisha Otis was born close to Halifax Vermont in 1811. His mother and father ran a very successful farm and had deep roots in the New England area. At the age of 19 he left home and would eventually end up in Troy, New York. Otis spent five years living in Troy as a wagon driver and carpenter. In 1834 he wed a women named Susan Houghton. Shortly after the birth of his first son, Otis contracted a very serious case of pneumonia, which nearly killed him.

During the early years of his first marriage, Otis ran a freight hauling business that traveled between Troy and Brattleboro, Vermont. Despite falling seriously ill, Otis’s freight business was successful enough that he was able to purchase some land in an area called Green River, which was located near Brattleboro. His first wife, Susan Houghton, died in 1842, and left him two sons.

While at his Green River home, Otis had set up a gristmill and later a sawmill, but neither of these business ventures proved to be successful and in 1845, he moved back to New York. Otis would remain in Albany, New York for several years and married a women named Elizabeth Boyd.

Otis had always enjoyed tinkering with things and took a job as a mechanic at a factory that built heavy duty wooden matters frames. He opened up a small mechanics shop that he powered using a small creek near his home. Otis would invent one of his most important inventions, the turbine water wheel, at this shop. In 1851, the government in Albany decided to take control over the stream that Otis used to power his machine shop. He decided to take a mechanic job in New Jersey, which was offered to him by a contact he had made at the bed frame factory.

Shortly after Otis moved to New Jersey, his employer decided to build a new business in Yonkers, New York and sent Otis to oversee the construction of the factory. While in Yonkers, one of the biggest obstacles faced by Otis was the movement of building supplies between floors. He built several different types of rope hoists, which had been used for thousands of years and are basically dumbwaiters. One of the problem with a rope hoist is that if the rope breaks, whatever was being hoisted would come crashing to the ground.

Otis set out to solve this problem and developed several different designs that incorporated a safety catch, which in the event of a rope failure, would stop the car from falling. He eventually created a safety system which used used a very large spring and a set of sharp metal bars. If the rope broke, the spring would be released and the sharp metal bars would be propelled into the walls of the elevator shaft, bringing it quickly to a halt. Otis quickly moved onto other tasks as he was heavily involved in the construction of the new factory.

After the factory was constructed, Otis had been planning on heading to California to mine gold, but he began to receive many inquires about the lift he had built at the Yonkers factory. He quickly saw a market for his invention and created the E.G Otis Company. By 1854, Otis had developed the first passenger elevator, which he demonstrated at the Crystal Palace in New York. This elevator used a slightly different design which relied on a guided elevator system. A set of guide rails ran the length of the shaft the elevator was attached to the guide rails by a set of rollers. If the elevator began to fall too quickly, such as in the event of a cable failure, the rollers would engage and stop the elevator. The first Otis Safety elevator was installed in 1857 and was still in operation up until 1984.

In 1861, Otis was granted a patent for a special type of steam powered elevator. This patent was important because his elevator had its own steam engine. This allowed many businesses, many of which did not have their own power source, to install an elevator. Otis died later that year in 1861. His sons, Charles and Norton, took over their fathers business and continued to improve their fathers elevators. They developed a hydraulic elevator in the 1870’s, which was able to use city water. This hydraulic elevator could be installed in much larger building than the first Otis elevator, which was limited by the size of its cable system.

The legacy that Elisha Otis left for his sons can still be seen today. The Otis Elevator Company today employs over 65,000 people and is located in Connecticut. There are more than a million Otis elevators installed today and the company represents nearly a quarter of the elevator market.

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The History of the Elevator

Today, elevators are found in almost all office buildings and businesses that span multiple floors. They quickly and easily carry people throughout a building, often much quicker than if they were to use the stairs. Not only are elevators popular in places like hotels and hospitals, but they have also become increasingly popular in residential settings. The elevators that most people are familiar with today have a very deep and interesting history that spans many years.

The earliest recorded elevator was referenced in the writings of an Architect named Vitruvius, who was a Roman. This was around the year 200 BC. These early elevators were actually more of a dumbwaiter, that was used to transport goods between areas of different elevations.

Often these were simply hoists that relied on human power and a pulley system to raise or lower the car, but some also used water and animal power. The elevator would continue to be used during the medieval time and they are thought to have been installed in the Sinai Monestary in Egypt.

One of the first major innovations to the elevator took place towards the end of the seventeenth century. An inventor named Ivan Kulibin designed an elevator that used a screw lifting mechanism. His elevator was installed into Winter Palace, which is a castle built in Russia that was used by their tsars during the winter months. The Russians would continue to be leaders in the development of the elevator and in 1816, another elevator was installed into a small village near Moscow called Arkhangelskoye. By 1850, the elevator had spread through Europe and to America, where Henry Waterman created a rope controlled elevator.

Perhaps the largest breakthrough in elevator technology came in 1853. It was in this year that a man named Elisha Otis, who is today known as the father of the elevator, created the first safety elevator. Up until the Otis elevator, these elevators lacked basic safety features and a cable failure, resulted in the elevator falling.

The Otis elevator is similar in design to the elevators of today. It is designed so that if the cable broke, the elevator would lock in place. In addition to using a cable system, the Otis elevator was also secured to a set of guide rails that spanned the length of the elevator shaft.

The elevator car had a special type of roller that was attached to the guide rails. As the car moved up or down the guide rails, the rollers would turn freely, but in the event of a cable breakage, the rollers would lock securely onto the guide rails, holding the elevator in place. The rollers engaged when the elevator car descended too quickly.

In 1854, Otis demonstrated his new safety elevator at the Crystal Palace in New York, which was a building that was designed to be a place were inventors from all over the World could meet and share their inventions. By 1860, the first Otis Elevator had been installed and successfully used for several years in the E. V. Haughwout Building.

Interestingly, the first elevator shaft was actually constructed before a passenger elevator had even been built. Peter Cooper, confident that the passenger elevator would soon become available, had an elevator shaft built into his building the Coop Union.

Over the next twenty years, the elevator would quickly advance and grow. A safety door was designed in the middle of the 1870’s and in 1880, the first electrical elevator was built by Werner von Siemens, a German inventor.

Up until 1924, elevators had only been used in commercial buildings, but this changed when Clarence Crispen invented the first residential elevator. Crispen is also the inventor of the stair lift, which is a device that carries people up and down the stairs.

Today, the elevator is more popular than ever and is an incredibly safe way to transport people. The elevator of today has come a far way from the early dumbwaiters that were used in the medieval times and are an interesting part of history.

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