The load test is a pretty cool operation. We used a bunch of barrels (which happened to be blue; weird) and filled them with water to simulate the weight of passengers on the chairs.
As the lift spins with the barrels on the chairs our operators keep a close eye on the many gauges and switches to make sure everything is functioning properly. After a bunch of rotations at different speeds and no snafus, the load test was complete and everything checked out.
The loading gates at the bottom terminal have been put into place. There are six gates and they will open two at a time as the bubble chair gets into the bottom terminal for ease of travel for skiers and riders to get to the loading area.
They are directly connected to sensors that tell the gates when a chair has entered the bottom terminal and how fast that chair is going so the timing of when the gates open is always spot on.
Our lift operators have been practicing the procedure for launching the bubble chairs out of the storage barn and they have it dialed in. I was watching them do this the other day and it is a pretty well choreographed process.
The terminal actually buzzes every time it’s ready to have the next chair be launched onto the haul rope to ensure the spacing is correct. Even if the spacing is off a bit from when the chair was launched, the lift will automatically correct the spacing before the chairs exit the top terminal. Seriously, the Bluebird Express is wicked smaaaaht!
We took the shrink wrap off the bubbles a few days ago and they look sooooo good! Wait until you see this thing in operation (which will be soon); it is truly a sight to behold.
So, the Bluebird Express is ready to fly! Now we just need the cold temperatures to continue so we can keep flexing our snowmaking muscle and get this place open for skiing and riding. Keep checking the snow report for the most up-to-date info on opening day and our celebration of the First Flight of the Bluebird Express. Until then, be sure those skis and boards tuned up and get stoked! Winter will be here soon, I promise.]]>
I’ve said it over and over again – this lift and the installation process I’ve been lucky enough to witness never ceases to amaze me.
Just yesterday we saw the real meat and potatoes of the Bluebird Express arrive – the carriage assembly. The carriage assembly is comprised of the 800 horsepower electric motor, the bull wheel, the emergency breaking system, two gigantic fuel tanks for the two gigantic 400 horsepower diesel back-up motors and a bunch of galvanized steel. Total weight of the whole thing is about 52 thousand pounds.
Let’s talk about our carriage assembly’s journey from Grand Junction, CO, real quick. The cargo came on a flatbed and since it is an oversized load it was accompanied by two escort vehicles. Being an oversized load, there are many restrictions and rules the driver needs to follow and these rules vary by state. In many states oversized loads cannot travel on weekends, holidays, at night or even when it’s raining. The driver must get specific routes from each respective state’s DOT to ensure they travel on roads that can handle the width and the weight of the load. The truck left last week, but with this past Friday being a holiday running right into the weekend he had to park it someplace just outside of New York State. Back on the road Monday, he had his designated route from the DOT and was scheduled to get here around mid-day. The only problem was, part of the route was under construction and wasn’t able to handle the 45+ton truck, trailer and cargo. The driver had to back up about half a mile in order to turn around and find the alternate route. The convoy got here around 3:30pm yesterday, much to the delight of everyone.
The reason I took the time to tell you about that is I think it’s pretty amazing how much goes into this project, including the amount of effort it takes just to get the parts here. I hope you guys think it’s as cool as I do! But I think we all agree that the coolest thing is going to be seeing all 102 of those beautiful bubble chairs traveling from base to summit with our butts sitting in one of them!
So, here’s the deal as of right now with where we are in the installation process:
The 75-ton crane made its second trip up to the summit yesterday evening along with the carriage assembly. It lifted the carriage assembly into place today so now crews are doing the “detail” work.
The haul rope (the cable the carries the chairs) is going to start getting strung as early as Wednesday and will be spliced towards the end of the week.
A vast majority of the bubble chairs are on the rail system in the Birdhouse with only a few remaining in Lot A awaiting hanger assembly and placement onto the rail system.
The metal roof on the Birdhouse will be completely installed by Wednesday.
That’s the rundown! Looking forward to seeing all of you here for our Grand Opening for the 2011/2012 winter season and the First Flight of the Bluebird Express! Keep checking back here for the most up-to-date info on all of that and don’t forget to book your Bluebird Ski & Stay Special!]]>
At about 4:30 yesterday, a truck pulled into the lot containing half of one of the terminal tops…
And a bullwheel.
The next step is to attach the hanger and grip assemblies to the bubble chairs and get all 102 chairs onto the rail system in the Bird House (i.e., bubble chair storage barn).
The communication line has been strung along the tower tops from base to summit. The comm. line is what carries information from the sensors on each lift tower to the drive and also carries the phone line so that lift attendants at the top and bottom terminals can communicate.
The Bird House continues to look better and better each day. Much of the siding is up and crews are almost done putting down the tar paper and furring strips on the roof. All of this is being done to prepare for the installation of the metal roof.
We’ll continue to keep you posted! Can’t wait to see what the bubble chairs look like on the rail system inside the Bird House!]]>
Some photos from the ground:
check back for more photos later!]]>
The helicopter will be here by 8am and towers are going to be flown all day. It’s a beautiful day for spectating!]]>
But I think the most impressive thing I’ve seen so far in terms of sheer size is the spool that sits in the base area right now holding half of the lift’s haul rope. That’s right, just half. The handsome gent standing next to said spool in the photo below is our Events Manager, Tim Dolan. Tim is 6’4” on a short day, former college basketball player and utterly dwarfed by this spool of thread on steroids. There’s a sticker on one end and it says the total weight of the entire thing comes to a hefty 88,917 pounds. That’s almost 45 tons. Wow. Might take a few guys to move that puppy!
Most of the sheave trains have been attached to their crossarms and work has begun to assemble those to the upper section of the two-piece lift towers. The assembly of crossarm, sheave train and upper tower section is still light enough for the helicopter to safely haul and will reduce the number of “picks” the helicopter would have to otherwise make if it was to bring each part up separately. Efficiency, ladies and gentlemen. The folks in charge of this project are wicked smaaaht!
All of the trusses have been raised and attached to the storage barn and work has begun on the roof. As you will see in the photo below, working on the barn is not a job for those folks with a fear of heights…like me.
Word is the concrete that was flown in last week to the lift tower forms is setting up well and we are on schedule (weather permitting) to fly in the towers on Wednesday, October 5. Come check out this exciting portion of the installation process! The helicopter will be making picks all day starting bright and early in the morning.
America’s only high speed detachable six passenger bubble chair will be spinning before we know it! I can’t wait!
The bubble chairs (or, ‘flying sofas’ as Scott, one of our lift mechanics calls them) were manufactured in Italy, carefully put into containers that fit six chairs each, hitched a ride on a very large boat across the Atlantic, were unloaded at port in New York City, placed on a tractor trailer truck and dropped off here at Mount Snow. Those are some well-travelled chairs! So far we’ve had eight trucks drop off their cargo so there’s 48 chairs here as of right now. The other 54 chairs will be delivered between Wednesday and Friday along with the arms and hardware.
The aforementioned 45 ton crane is lifting what are called ‘trusses’, or the frame for the roof of the bubble chair storage barn, into place where crews can secure them to the existing frame. The trusses are not small nor are they light by any means, so this process requires a combination of heavy lifting and precision placement. Seeing the first few of these secured to the building really gives you an idea of how big the storage barn is going to be!
The staging area for the lift towers, cross bars and sheave trains is looking awesome! Pretty neat to see all these individual parts laid out prior to assembly because it really gives you a good sense of the anatomy of a chair lift.
The timeline for steps in the installation process is pretty fluid depending on weather, progress, etc. so the only update we have as of today is we are expecting to fly in more than 170 yards of concrete by helicopter September 19 & 20. It’s tough to say right now when we will fly the towers in but as progress continues we will be able to provide you more accurate dates so you can plan to come check it out. The last update said October 5, but we could possibly see this happen before then.
Speaking of progress, we will be updating you guys more frequently as the project is really in high gear and all the pieces are coming together. There are many things happening at once right now and it’s really cool to witness such a major undertaking so we plan to keep you as educated and up-to-date as possible moving forward.]]>
If all goes well we could have the crane on site Monday and start raising the bents for our chair storage barn. We are about 2 weeks behind on barn construction so we are hoping the rest of September is dry and we do not have another setback.
Concrete trucks will be able to access the mountain and Poma expects to fly concrete to towers on Sept 19 & 20. They will have to drive concrete up to two tower locations at the summit but first we have to put a few parts of the work road back together, which suffered some from TS Irene. Tentatively, the towers will be flown into place around Oct 5. We will let you know when we have a definite and we will video for those who cannot come up and watch in person.
Our bubble chairs start arriving on Monday. I can’t wait to see the blue bubbles! It will take about 3 days for them all to get here. It sounds like our haul rope is sitting in port so that will make the journey soon. It is all coming together even though the last 2 weeks have been nail biters.]]>