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Are ski lifts a complex machine?

Updated: 10/21/2022
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14y ago

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Not compared to the Space Shuttle but some ski lifts are more complex than others. Rope tows are simple, detachable grip chair and gondola lifts are more complex.

All lifts have some basic systems. 1. Some kind of primary drive like a electric motor or a diesel motor. 2. a gear box that takes the high rpm output of the primary drive and reduces it to a lower, usable rpm. 3. A large wheel (bull wheel) connected to the output of the gearbox. 4. The bull wheel moves the haul rope and all the carriers and if its an aerial lift the rope and carriers move over the trains of wheels (sheaves) located on the tower cross-arms. 5. A system of brakes stops the lift and either a large counterweight or a hydraulic ram provides tension for the haul rope.

Surface lifts like rope tows and handle tows won't have carriers and towers. A conveyor lift will have drums and a belt instead of bull wheels and a rope.

A detachable grip lift will have all the above plus a system detach the grips from the haul rope, transport the carrier around the terminal and then reattach the trip to the haul rope. To open the grip while the lift is moving a system of rails for stabilizing, operating and transporting the grip must be carefully aligned to avoid damage to the rope or grip jaws. Moving the detached grip through the terminal requires a system of dozens of belts, pulleys and tires.

All lifts today require an electrical system to monitor and control the safe operation of all the mechanical systems. Speed monitoring, braking controls and tower monitoring are all standard. A detachable lift will have a system of switches to monitor the opening and closing of the grip. The transport of the detached carrier will be monitored by an aniti-collison system using proximity switches.

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