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A porch with a view

Custom elevator provides convenience, sparks conversation at California oceanfront home.

When Estel and Wally Binder remodeled their house, located in an exclusive part of La Jolla, California, they wanted to include top and bottom decks so they could sit down with friends and enjoy the ocean view. They also wanted an elevator to help them carry groceries into their home. They contracted with Tim Martin, from Martin Architecture, to design the ground level’s entrance to face the backyard, while the bottom and top decks’ entrances faced the house. So, the elevator was equipped with both front and rear doors. The only problem with the design was that if they were to install an elevator tower on the upper deck, it would block their view of the ocean.

The Binders needed a tower that would move with the elevator as it was going down or coming up to serve the second deck. Martin contacted Custom Cabs Inc. to see if this were possible. Custom Cabs installed four pipes at the corners of the shaft, each with smaller internal pipes attached to the roof of the tower, so the tower moves with the car as it travels up or down the shaft. Rubber bumpers were installed to cushion the impact of the roof as it is lifted or lowered with each use.

A single two-stage telescopic jack installed underneath the car moves the elevator. The weight of the roof was factored in, determining the jack size and pump unit. Since the roof is an integral part of the elevator, Custom Cabs manufactured it as well, and the roofing contractor installed the copper roof on top of the structure.

The cab is all bronze 4-ga. finish, and the gates are bifolding glass with a bronze frame. The gates have glass swing-type doors at the lower deck and path entrance. There are also glass windows on the tower itself so passengers can get a glimpse of the ocean. Since the exterior of the cab can be seen when it pops up on the upper deck, Custom Cabs also covered its exterior with 4-ga. bronze.

Water does get into the shaft, as there is only a partial enclosure around it, so the landing system, switches and interlocks had to be waterproof (NEMA 4 rated) to withstand the elements. All the materials in the shaft, including the guide rails, were painted to match the bronze finish.

Since the shaft extends only 4 ft. above the second-level deck, the cab sling is partially lowered below the cab and goes into the pit to provide the stability the car needs for a smooth ride. The cab stabilizer is specially designed to hold the cab in place and not let it rock with the travel and movement of passengers.

When asked what the couple thought about their elevator, Wally Binder said, “It has been a conversation piece with all our friends and guests, as we use the decks a lot, and the talk is about the elevator.”

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