Historic car switch elevators still in operationgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Elevator Problem Discussion : One Thread
I am interested in knowing where there are old (1920s-1930s) passenger car switch elevators with attendants/operators still in use.
I am particularly interested in Otis units with circular brass wheel car switches, pneumatic door operators, and without auto-leveling, but please let me know about any car switch elevators that you are aware of.
Surely some department stores, hotels, or office buildings in the U.S., Canada, or England still have these. The taller the building, the better.
This is purely a hobby interest. By the way, I would appreciate hearing from other people interested in elevators as a hobby.
Thanks in advance.
-- Alex Begin (email@example.com), June 15, 1998
the last one was taken out of service ...2 yrs ago at the university of illinois and replaced
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 15, 1998.
89-64 163rd ST in Jamaica,Queens, NY is a seven story building with an old Otis switch elevator. Five relays on the board.
-- John McCoy (email@example.com), June 24, 1998.
Manhattan, N.Y. Have them on every block. They are generally used as freight or service elevators. They are still used in high rise bldgs. as well as well as old residential bldgs. These old cars were so reliable, as the passenger elevators were modern- ized, these were left alone. Example, I have generator starting panel contacts that have not been changed in over 4 years. Chrysler bldg. Otis 13slu 1928.
-- JM (JMclo30547@aol.com), June 25, 1998.
In Los Angeles there was a company, Llewellyn Iron Works, That made some of the finest car switch elevators ever. They were the reps for Westinghouse but made thier own controls. The car switch had (typically) 14 speed control @ 600 fpm 1:1 roping. They were installed all over So Cal, most have been modernized several times. There are several examples still in pristine condition. The "Hall of Justice" downtown at Grand and Spring 8 geerless 2 geared and the Natural History Museieum 6 geared. Both owned by L.A. County. All were built with Randall pneumatic doors, with a cable operated "Master door Lock", some had colapsable car gates some had no car entrance protection. Pretty spectacular at 600 fpm. Llewellen was a progessive company for that era, some of the later elevators had what we now call "car top inspection". Good luck in your search. Elman101
-- Fred Baltes (Elman101@aol.com), July 06, 1998.
Again....Every block in Manhattan ,pre 1950's,has manual cars. I have buildings, on my route, that have been modernized more than 3 or 4 times over the last 100 years. But since the freight or service cars are still going to be run by a person, why modernize and make them automatic??? So you can still find totally original manual elevators on every NYC block built before automatic elevators...
-- Joe (JMclo30547@aol.com), July 23, 1998.
I'm in Charleston,S.C. with 2 otis carswitch elev. still in service with full maint.contracts and one with a full time attendant.The People's bldg. on Broad St. and the Fort Sumter House on the Battery.Plus many more older units.both are 8 floors.
-- KDOG (KDOG82@msn.com), August 09, 1998.
I have at least a dozen carswitches in operation, however the oldest is in the Hotel Edison, Sunbury PA. Thomas Edison wired the hotel himself ond the elevator is 1910-1920 car switch basement traction.
-- Jerry Rexer (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 18, 1998.
KEVEN WASN'T THE PEOPLES BUILD JUST BOUGHT BY SOME BODY AND GOING TO TURN IT INTO APT. BUILDING? HEARD THEY WHERE GONNA MOD BOTH THOSE ELEVATORS.
-- (email@example.com), March 08, 2001.
There is a hospital in my area that is on Gates&9th AV. called St. Mary's in Port Arthur,TX. It has a total of 12 elevators with one dumbwaiter. Six of the 12 elevators are Dovers two of the six Dovers hydraulic. The other four Dovers are geared. The other six are Otis,all geared. In one of the older wings, is a car switch Otis. It is of the button only type,a 20 AIB with a 220 volt AC geared machine,and is of only two stories. Car door is gate type,while the hoistway doors swing out into the hallways.
-- MATHEW BAILEY (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 15, 1999.
There is an elevator matching that description that is located at 10 Adelaide Street E, Toronto, Ontario
It is located in the Ontario Heritage Center, which was formerly the Birkbeck Building, built in 1904 and was the home to a bank until approximately 15 years ago. Both the building and the elevator have been restored and has been used extensivly in films and television programs. And due to the nature of the elevator, it requires an attendant and still manages to service 4 floors, plus basement.
-- Kathleen Brent (email@example.com), March 30, 2001.
I am not sure, but I believe that this type of equipment is in use at the Coit Tower in San Francisco... complete with a witty Asian- American as an operator. After closing the doors and before starting the car upwards, he yells upward "Okay honey!" Then, he says "My wife... she pull the ropes!" (I also have shared your interest of elevators as a hobby.)
-- Kurt Hegle (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 05, 2002.
We just discovered a llewellyn automatic elevator no longer in use at in a small hotel in la jolla, ca. Baker Iron works is on the control pannel. We are hoping to restore this elevator, as it seems to be in perfect condition (except the ropes). If anyone knows someone who restores older elevators please e-mail me.
We also have an old OTIS elevator in our 1928 historic hotel The Grande Colonial in La Jolla, CA. The car is original, but I think some of the equipment has been modernized.
-- Lisa Riley (email@example.com), January 07, 2004.
I am the elevator serviceman for the Otis elevator at the Grand Colonial Inn in La Jolla, Ca. It still has the original cab, with beautiful ornate stained mahogany walls and crystal chandolier. The controls and some of the fixtures were modernized twice, but still have the nice retro brass position indicators. The geared hoist machine is original, circa 1928. Worth seeing/riding if your ever in town.
-- Jim Hagerty (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 08, 2004.
We are still operating two eight story 1904 otis (water) hydraulic, manual lever. We are having trouble finding leather gaskets for the pistons. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks
-- Tom Zarrilli (email@example.com), June 13, 2004.
Hi to anyone who likes antique Elevators or Lifts as we call them in Australia. I have sadly seen Many old lifts dissapear from the buildings of Adelaide. Melbourne and Sydney since I have been looking, About 25 years. Firstly a little background on what I found. I am forty one Yeas of age and lived in Melbourne till I was twelve. Then we moved to Adelaide A city of now just over 1,000,000 souls, a little less in 1976 I had Memories of old lifts in Melbourne and by the end of the 70s I was old enough to look for vintage lifts in Adelide. As it has been one of Australia's big cities for over a century I found some But unfortunatly I'd missed the boat for most And the heavy looking brown stone building ( yes,a bit like New York brownstones)Mostly had been totally rebuilt inside or had a cheap and tacky modernisation job ( mostly in the 50s and 60s What I diddnt realize that the city destruction would keep going and now there are only one or two open ( pre 1930 ) lifts left while once there were dozzens. That was before my time though,But I found a few and several more under cheap, nasty renovations. But they were mostly in rundown minor buildings That have since faced the Demolition crew. In the 1980s I went home to Melbourne and began visiting Sydney Both these cities had hight restrictions of about twelve stories befor the late 50s so their old buildings are only a little taller than Adelaide's, But there are many more of them, some with a bigger girth then John Candy and some with tall towers, and some sadly gone In a sea of modern skyscrapers of which 50 stories is the norm with a few 60 story and a new 88 level tover in Melbourne and their ear popping lifts it is refreshing that down at their feet some of the Oldies remain. I would be happy to send photos as some of the lifts are gems.
KIND REGARDS, JOHN SERGEI
-- John Sergei (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 08, 2004.
hi i live in brighton england and up until 20 years ago or so almost every department store in town had the sort of lifts you desribe however most have been replaced or modernised. there are still 2 however one in the old king alfred leisure complex which was originaly built as a naval training school. and another in hanningtons dept store very elaborate and very slow i would be most interested to see some of your photos. best wishes george guyver
-- george guyver (email@example.com), February 13, 2005.
In Victoria, B.C. The Maritime Museum-original birdcage, still in operation. The Strathcona hotel-off the lobby-original manual otis, used for bell service only. In Saskatoon, Sask. Old Otis on display in School Board Office-formerly Eaton's Dept. Store-not operating, but all original, on main floor. The Avenue Building (Across the corner from the school board) Otis-now used only for freight-brass gate, newer turn-down control handle. Old Adilman's dept. store Ave. B & 20th St. Vancouver electric co. (1948) Newer turn down control switch. Try the Smith Tower in Seattle. Old hotel on main drag in Deadwood, S.D. Hotel Coronado in San Diego-converted to pushbutton, but still original birdcage car and shaft. Old downtown office bldg. in St. Paul, Mn. 6 original, beautiful elevators 1920's.
-- Jim (AGF Reception@gov.bc.ca), March 10, 2005.
In Victoria, B.C. The Maritime Museum-original birdcage, still in operation. The Strathcona hotel-off the lobby-original manual otis, used for bell service only. In Saskatoon, Sask. Old Otis on display in School Board Office-formerly Eaton's Dept. Store-not operating, but all original, on main floor. The Avenue Building (Across the corner from the school board) Otis-now used only for freight-brass gate, newer turn-down control handle. Old Adilman's dept. store Ave. B & 20th St. Vancouver electric co. (1948) Newer turn down control Pswitch. Try the Smith Tower in Seattle. Old hotel on main drag in Deadwood, S.D. Hotel Coronado in San Diego-converted to pushbutton, but still original birdcage car and shaft. Old downtown office bldg. in St. Paul, Mn. 6 original, beautiful elevators 1920's. Please-no replys-for your information and interest only
-- Jim (AGF Reception@gov.bc.ca), March 10, 2005.
Just a quick note of thanks to all who have contributed to this thread over the years.
Please keep sending along any locations you know of. I am particularly interested in any car switch elevators with pneumatically operated doors and gates.
-- Alex Begin (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 10, 2005.
The Johnston Building in downtown Charlotte, NC had (4) 19 stop units like you describe that had air operated hoistway doors and power gates...
Took over a year to MOD all 4 units and was a nightmare because none of the hoistway doors were plumb with each other...
-- Will (email@example.com), March 10, 2005.
You may also want to check out the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC...
It has an " OTIS Brothers " Birdcage elevator that I think the serial number is 290 or so... Put in in 1904...
OTIS did a complete refurb on it about 10 years ago that took about a year... It's in it's original condition...
-- Will (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 10, 2005.
Amazing stuff that these old girls are still around. I maintained an old Otis basement drum. In the basement it had the gear box and main disconnect in the machine room on one side of the shaft and in an additional machine room on the right side of the shaft housed the controller. I used to hate maintaining that thing! Nothing like crawling in to pack the babbitt stuffing boxes with a paint stir stick and a tube of grease. On the other hand they never did break did they?
Any of you guys maintained any flat leather belt drive machines?
-- vbf33j (email@example.com), March 10, 2005.
The Otis elevator in the former Eaton's Dept. Store in Saskatoon (1938) that I mentioned previously had some interesting features. I was able to spend some time driving it before it was shut down. When the round, drum type, bronze, start handle was pushed for up or down it would cause the floor doors to close. A pedal on the floor would cause the brass gate to close slowly (pneumatic) The control switch could be shut off a short distance above or below the floor (say 6 or 8 inches) and the car would level itself--on the control panel was a black switch that was labelled "Micro Leveling"-On Off. The control switch offered two speeds for the car, depending on how far down it was pressed. It had the fold out stool for the operator and the floor doors were mostly glass, so you could see the car and the shaft. This elevator is on display in the Saskatoon School Board Office in downtown Saskatoon. I believe the brass gate has been painted black some years ago. There were two of these elevators in operation at one time. About 8 years ago one was converted to automatic and totally renovated. The other was in operation for mostly freight until the school board moved in about three years ago and has been kept on display.The Smith Tower in Seattle has about 8 original Otis elevators, with operators and the brass gates are pneumatic. Quite a ride !
-- Jim (AGF.Reception@gov.bc.ca), March 11, 2005.
HI, I worked as a bike messenger in Baltimore from 1996 to 1998 so i got to ride in almost every elevator in the downtown area and found several elevators with operators, the Cokesbury building 516 n. charles 6 stop 100 fpm single speed ac (needed to be a real pro to level it right no micro level) the jefferson bldg 2 east Fayette st 3 12 story cars pretty fast 1 east lexington 5 stop unknown speed all have manual hall and car gates plus countless freight units hope this helps Dan
-- Dan (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 11, 2005.
Sadly, the Smith Tower in Seattle have been modernized (I think it won EW Project of The Year for Mod. Job a while back). They still have operators, but really arn't true car switch operation. All the operator does is push the floor button on the desired floor and then push the car-switch to signal the car to begin moving. All other operations, such as leveling, are automatic. The units still have the origional Otis car switch, but you'll be very dissapointed (as I was when I first saw the modernized control) if you're looking for true car switch operation. Chris
-- Chris (RTSbusguy@hotmail.com), March 12, 2005.
just interested in what is an air operated hoistway-never heard of this across in scotland will..can you explain roughly what it is.......many thanks
-- (email@example.com), March 12, 2005.
They used compressed air to open and close the hoistway doors...
-- Will (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 12, 2005.