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The Lake Jocassee lodge-style house, with its new Marine Innovations inclined elevator on left

Estate home has a better connection with beautiful Lake Jocassee thanks to new inclined elevator.

by Eric Hausten

Lake Jocassee, a 7,500-acre, 300-ft-deep manmade reservoir in South Carolina, is an idyllic, remote Appalachian gem. Developed in 1973 by Duke Power in partnership with the state, this wooded wonderland is part of the Devils Fork State Park. The lake is fed cold, clear Appalachian mountain water from Whitewater, Thompson, Horsepasture and Toxaway rivers and hosts fewer than 40 homes. Many of those fortunate enough to live or visit here have given Jocassee the nickname “Lake Tahoe of the East.” This spectacular body of water gives visitors a chance to view pristine waterfalls, catch record trout and bass or just take in the beauty.

Lake Jocassee draws people looking for solitude and the grandeur of nature, and the homes here are special retreats. One such retreat is a lodge-style compound comprising an estate home and guest cottage with more than 5,800 ft2 of living space. It features five bedrooms, 6-1/2 baths and two kitchens and outdoor cooking facilities that rival those in the finest restaurants. Expansive patios on all four levels of the main house provide social gathering space with spectacular views of the lake. It features reclaimed local black walnut and heart of pine cabinets, oak flooring and solid granite countertops, and is EnergyStar certified and built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. It also has a home elevator offering interior access to all floors. The house was originally built for fractional ownership but was eventually bought by a single owner.

While equipped with an inclined elevator, the unit was below the property’s standards; didn’t provide the access the homeowner wanted; and, frankly, was a little bit tired out. The owner wanted a replacement that would provide transportation from the parking level to the main house, guest house, all patio levels and a two-slip boat dock.

Lake Jocassee draws people looking for solitude and the grandeur of nature, and the homes here are special retreats.

New and Improved

The property owner contacted Johnston Welding Services with a challenge to make an inclined elevator that matched the luxury and grandeur of the home. Johnston Welding turned to Marine Innovations of Frazee, Minnesota, and, together, they started from the ground up with a complete custom-designed system with a goal of matching the style of the property, delivering smooth, quiet operation and fitting in with the natural surroundings.

The project started with a site visit. Nick Botzet, Marine Innovations sales and project manager, and Hugh Johnston of Johnston Welding Service reviewed the installed system, took measurements for a new elevator that would reach from the parking area to the main dock and make stops at all the important home locations. The system has a total length of 250 ft, a total vertical rise of 120 ft and services six stops. The track is contoured to follow
the terrain.

The system incorporates a self-leveling system using an electrically actuated cylinder that automatically keeps the carriage level as it descends and ascends.

The trolley is a powder-coated aluminum structure. Its integrated wheel covers keep the track clear and protect the four wheels. The cable brake system, battery and charger docking station are integrated into the trolley, which, along with the carriage, has a self-leveling system that keeps the carriage level, even as the track angle changes. The leveling system constantly adjusts the carriage between 24° and 36° through ascent and descent.

The custom carriage is 45.5 X 68.75 in., has two fold-up seats and is made of aluminum for a strong, lightweight design. Proprietary corner extrusions extend from the trolley basket to support the gabled aluminum canopy. An aluminum control panel integrated into one of the canopy supports has push-button selectors for each stop, an emergency stop button, a light activation button and a battery voltage indicator/USB charging port. LED lights are integrated under the seats for floor illumination. The walls are acrylic panels installed with automotive-style gaskets to provide an open feel while maintaining safety of full panels. Left and right, 32-in. sliding doors open to landings on either side of the elevator, providing access to different parts of the property.

Each landing station has a call box with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) keypad that restricts operation and individual landings to authorized users. With this system, a visitor using the guest cabin can, for example, have access to the parking, guest cabin and dock levels, while being blocked from the main house levels. A light shows when the system is active, and a call button brings the carriage to each landing. The landing stations have powder-coated aluminum bifolding landing gates with integrated interlocks. These durable gates prevent access to the track area and open only when the carriage is present.

The drive system is a custom-designed power frame that houses the traction-drive system. A 5-hp, 240-V, three-phase Motovario electric motor with built-in brake drives a 60:1 gear reduction drive. The gearbox drives a set of 10.5-in. sheaves, providing power to 5/16-in. galvanized aircraft cable that moves the carriage at 70 ft/min.

The main control panel is a proprietary design by SJE-Rhombus that incorporates a Yaskawa variable-frequency drive (VFD) for phase-conversion and speed control. A Unitronics programmable logic controller allows for customization of the system, including integrating the RFID keypad and wireless carriage controls. Landing-gate and limit-switch communications are fed through custom junction boxes at each landing.
The new inclined elevator system has custom-width, 2-X-5-in. 11-ga galvanized track following the existing travel corridor. The track rails have long-term corrosion resistance thanks to a galvanized coating and are supported by a proprietary engineered pin pile system comprising 2-in. SS40 galvanized pipe driven to resistance. This system provides strong anchoring in a variety of soil types without the need for intensive excavation, which, because less soil and vegetation are disturbed, allows the hill to recover quicker, making it less prone to erosion damage.

The custom carriage incorporates integrated canopy risers with a built-in control station and wood trim to match the home. The intuitive carriage control station allows selection of any stop and has a carriage light activation button and battery voltage indicator with USB charging port. Acrylic windows are set into the lower carriage panels with automotive-style gaskets, allowing light into the carriage and providing an open feeling, while maintaining complete safety. The integrated canopy risers give the carriage smooth, appealing lines. Underseat LEDs provide safety when entering the carriage after dark, and a timer automatically turns the lights off to preserve battery life. Front and rear seats comfortably accommodate four people and fold up for additional floorspace.

Variations in the hilly terrain are common to Lake Jocassee, and this site is no different. The elevator starts at 24° of incline and increases to 36° as it gets closer to the lake. The system incorporates a self-leveling system using an electrically actuated cylinder that automatically keeps the carriage level as it descends and ascends. The carriage pivots at the rear to maintain a level perspective.

Because the property has multiple living spaces and is used as a private vacation rental, the owner wanted a system to limit access to the inclined elevator and specific landings. A combination keypad and key-fob system allows the owner to grant a guest access to any or all levels.
This project was completed in June 2019. The requested design compelled Marine Innovations’ engineering staff to take a creative approach for a new carriage design. With its custom-designed track following the original installation corridor and providing access to all landings, the new inclined elevator meets the owner’s request for luxury, quality, dependability and style.

System Specifications
Total system length: 250 ft
Incline angles: 24-36°
Vertical rise: 120 ft
Speed: 70 ft/min
Rated load: 860 lb
Track rail dimensions: 2 X 5 in., 11 ga, 32 in. wide
Track supports: 2-in. SS40 galvanized pipe
Cable diameter and rated breaking strength: 5/16 in.
galvanized cable, 9,800-lb breaking strength
Carriage dimensions: 45.5 X 68.75 in.
Carriage material: Aluminum and acrylic glass
Carriage door: Sliding, 32-in. opening
Carriage lighting: Timed LED
Number of stops: 6
Drive motor: Motovario 5-hp, three-phase, 240-V,
integrated motor brake
Gearbox: Motovario 60:1 gearbox
Final drive: Traction drive system with 10.5-in. sheaves
Controls: Yaskawa VFD for soft starts/stops and speed
control; Unitronics programmable logic controller; limit
switches for deceleration, stop and over-travel
User/Operator controls: RFID key-fob/numeric keypad
controls with system-active light; emergency stop button in
carriage; wireless carriage controls for each station; carriage
light switch; voltmeter/USB power port
Landing gates: 40.5-X-42-in. bifold aluminum with
integrated interlock at each landing
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Eric Hausten

Eric Hausten

Marketing manager for Marine Innovations, Inc. A graduate of Minnesota State University, Moorhead, his marketing career spans more than 25 years and includes work for Lund Boat Co., SJE-Rhombus and Forum Communications. Hausten manages brochure development, website administration, social-media content, company communications and other marketing duties for Marine Innovations.

Elevator World | April 2020 Issue Cover

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