June 21, 2011

The Sinking Water Elevator

In the late 1970s, Clear-Com’s budget was limited so they had a water elevator, which went up and down on a piston, to help the team move equipment up and down their four floors.

To make the elevator go up, someone would push a button and a large pump forced water into and under the piston to drive the elevator up. When anyone used the elevator to go up, everyone could hear the motor turn. To go down, the valve would open and water would rush out, which sounded like someone was flushing a large toilet.

Photo Credit: Skyscrapersim.com

 Unfortunately, the water from the pump often got mixed with oil and the elevator started leaking since water and oil do not mix. Over time, the elevator even began sinking.

How did Clear-Com deal with this issue?*

The Clear-Com staff followed this advice:
“Make sure that when you go up to third floor, go just a bit above that floor so that you have just enough time to push the heavy cart with the equipment out before the elevator starts sinking.”

*Clear-Com did periodic repairs to the elevator and it would start to function again. Clear-Com is not endorsing sinking water elevators. User discretion is advised.

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