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Drilling Aspects of Hydraulic Elevator Modernizations

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by Mark E. Ortman

Hydraulic elevator modernizations can be very challenging for both ­elevator contractors and drilling contractors alike. Many times, the challenge starts with simply moving the job materials into the building’s work area. Some buildings only have stairway access to both the basement and first floor. This makes bringing in heavy drilling equipment difficult and time consuming. Ortman Drilling, Inc. has devised different methods for overcoming these obstacles. Sometimes, cranes can be used to raise or lower equipment into the work areas. Other times, machinery needs to be winched down a stairway.

Two of the most important items to look at when determining how to approach installing or cleaning out a casing for a hydraulic jack are the geology in that area and the static water level. Local water well logs should provide information on water levels. Sometimes, the water level is above the pit floor and provides even more challenges. If you try to drill or clean out a casing from below static water levels, the hole will continue to cave in or heave causing you to lose more footage than you gain.

In most cases, Ortman Drilling can drill or clean the casing from above static water levels by extending the casing up into the hoistway. Many times, an existing casing can be reused for a new elevator jack, but this casing must be large and plumb enough to accommodate the new pipe and jack. Ortman Drilling can perform an alignment analysis on both new and old casings, helping ensure that the new PVC and jack will plumb inside.

Another problem to think about before trying to clean out an existing casing is undermining the building. If you vacuum out an existing casing too far below static water levels, the water will rise faster than you can pump it out, usually bringing sand, gravel and other materials with it and causing you to lose the hole in the process. This material comes from under the pit floor or another area in the building that is caving in. Ortman Drilling has proprietary methods for cleaning out existing casing without pulling the water level down below static water levels.

Another problem that can arise is when an existing ­elevator jack is stuck fast in the ground and cannot be safely removed. Ortman Drilling has the ability of spinning a casing over an existing jack and/or casing. This ­allows the casing and/or jack to be removed after it has been drilled around and made loose. The best-case ­scenario for a driller is if the existing jack pulls out with little effort and all that is needed is a new casing to be drilled for the new jack. However, you can still run into serious problems.

Among these problems are: small hoistways for the rig to operate inside of, boulders or other foreign materials, and low overhead conditions inside the hoistway. ­Ortman Drilling equipment can drill between rails with a 50-inch distance between guides and with as little as 12 feet of overhead clearance to the elevator car. Ortman Drilling generally uses a carbide/tungsten-type bit that will drill through almost any foreign materials.

In summary, drilling and cleaning out casings for ­hydraulic elevators, like many things, can be fairly simple or very challenging. A drilling contractor can often times make a modernization project much smoother and help complete it in a timely fashion when troubles are encountered while keeping the existing building intact and ­undamaged.

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Mark E. Ortman

Mark E. Ortman

Mark E. Ortman is the vice president of the ­Elevator Division at Ortman Drilling, Inc. He has 12 years of experience working in precision technical drilling. Ortman began his career as a driller’s ­apprentice and afterward became a driller and ­onsite Operations manager. After eight years of field work, he was promoted to his current position. Ortman is also responsible for personnel ­supervision and safety, project estimating, drilling and inventory control. He is a member of the ­National Association of Elevator Contractors and Elevator U.

Elevator World | May 2011 Cover

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