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By: David Howard | G+

Ski lifts, Motors, Electrical Contacts, and Motor Controls

If you’ve ever ridden on a ski lift (a.k.a. chair lift) you’ve probably never thought about the mechanics and equipment that keep it running. You simply enjoy the view, the ride, and look forward to shushing down the slopes once you reach the top. But the motors, power, and control systems that keep ski lifts functioning rely on robust, hardy, technologies that have been around for decades.

Operation involves AC/DC motors

The operation of a ski lift is fairly straightforward. A looped cable spans between two large pulleys at each end (the bull wheels). Towers in between support the chairs (the carriers) as they travel up the mountain. At the towers the cable runs through sheaves attached below or above the towers depending on various conditions.

Modern ski lifts rely on electric motors to turn the bull wheels. Most also have secondary backup diesel power motors too - for safety. Electric motors are less expensive to operate than the diesel systems. The power and motor may be located at the top or bottom of the chair lift depending on engineering requirements.

Power and motor control utilizes electrical contacts

Wherever you find electric motors you’ll find motor controls too.  Both the motors and controls require regular maintenance, especially for the replacement of carbon brushes in motors and electrical contacts in controls.  And this is also true for ski lodges and their chair lifts.  While modern computer controls may be utilized to monitor the lift span via video and monitoring - in the “wheel house” you’ll often find traditional, time-tested electrical components such as motors and contactors.

Daily operation means continual maintenance

Ski lifts have back up motors to ensure skiers won’t be stranded if the primary motors fail. And usually, due to the remote location of most lifts, they stock replacement parts for quick servicing and routine maintenance. A ski lodge can’t afford to have an inoperable chair lift. So smart operators keep critical parts close by. And when this is the case, it’s also smart to look for the best value to keep budgets in check.

OEM vs. replacement parts

Major motor and control OEMs, such as Baldor, ABB, GE, and others are frequently used in ski lift operations. But stocking and storing backup OEM components can subtract from a ski lodge’s bottom line. Many operators save money by ordering OEM compatible replacement carbon brushes and electrical contacts.

Repco carries electrical contacts and carbon brush replacements for dozens of OEMs and for hundreds of current and obsolete series. All Repco replacement parts are guaranteed to match the OEM’s for form, fit, and function but cost substantially less. This allows lift operators to keep maintenance costs down and replacement inventory at the ready and helps keep skiers happily shushing down the slopes.

I love skiing, but it is a recreational use of both electricity and diesel. Where does the green movement stand on the recreational use of both electricity and diesel to power lifts for fun and pleasure and not necessity? In a day when there is talk of cutting back on vehicle use, how will they justify the recreational use of a fuel. Greenies love skiing. I would like to see the answers. Boats and jet skies, etc. can be added to this mix.

2/15/2023 7:42:27 AM

~ Mary Hackett

I´m wanting a lift platform that will seat 4 people and take us from my lake house and downhill to my boat dock. I´m a disabled veteran with bad knees and retired. If it would be good for me then I thought it would be good to sell to other disabled people on lakes throughout Indiana. I thought a cabal hooked to a pontoon boat would be good to set a pontoon in the water beside my dock. I just need something at the most that would carry 2,500 lb. to 3,500 lb. or as small as enough to carry 1,500 lb. please give me the information to make this happen!!! phone 317-835-1177

10/19/2022 6:34:43 PM

~ leslie howard

Very interesting information

4/10/2020 1:14:48 AM

~ SteveOvavy

Hi I need more information about the electric motors used in the cable car

3/1/2019 1:32:38 AM

~ Rabee mahfooz

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