A Guide to Ski Lift Maintenance and Parts

You undoubtedly take your ski lift maintenance seriously. That’s why keeping the ski lift brakes up to code is essential.

Ski lifts use a complex motor-driven conveyor system to transport riders safely uphill. Hundreds of thousands of dollars each year go into the maintenance of ski lifts to ensure their safety and compliance with state and federal inspection requirements.

You don’t want to let lift maintenance fall behind. New technology continues to improve the functionality of ski lift systems. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of lift maintenance.

Lift Maintenance Year Round

You understand the year-round hard work to ensure ski lifts are up to code. However, no one knows a resort’s ski lifts like its lift mechanic! That’s why when repairs are needed; you want the best replacement parts to keep the lifts running smoothly year-round.

After a long winter season of non-stop use, ski lifts endure a lot of wear and tear. Plus, if you plan to run the lifts year-round, you probably need to replace the breaks

Ski Lift Types

Different types of chairlifts can determine the kind of maintenance needed. The most common is the fixed-grip lift, where the chairs are welded onto the cable. 

Detachable lifts have chairlifts clamped onto the cable, meaning they can be removed from the cable. This is a more stable design. It also allows the chairs to slow down for loading and unloading.

Plus, the detachable lifts can move at faster speeds. High-speed lifts are the way of the future. They can improve resort guests’ overall experience.

How Chairlifts Work

A chairlift is suspended from a cable above and pulled up the mountain using a hydraulic tensioning system. The cable passes over compression towers that are at regular intervals up the mountainside. 

At least two terminals on either side of the chairlift have a bullwheel to direct the cable or rope around the wheel. The primary braking system is located at the base terminal or a drive bullwheel.

The top of the mountain usually has the return bullwheel, although these can sometimes be switched around. The cable is tensioned to account for variations in temperature, as well as the weight of passengers.

This is maintained by either hydraulic rams or a counterweight system that automatically adjusts the position of the bullwheel carriage. 

Ski Lift Brakes

The brakes on a ski lift are critical to its functionality and safety. Therefore, ski lift components include safety and backup systems that rely on functioning brakes. For example, the drive bullwheel has an emergency brake, a service brake, and an anti-rollback device.

It is rare for ski lift accidents, but if they do, they can be devastating. You may remember the incidents at the Sugarloaf resort in Maine. In one instance, the ski lift began to move backward after a series of unfortunate mechanical failures.

It started when the drive shaft broke. Next, a faulty switch caused the anti-rollback system to malfunction and not lock the lift in place. Then the emergency braking system failed to activate automatically.

These incidents, including a cable failing in high winds, are due to aging infrastructure of chairlifts built in the 1970s and 1980s. Sugarloaf spent $1.5 million on lift repair and replacement costs, along with the cost of legal claims from the injured skiers and riders.

In addition to replacing older chairlifts, workers drained the oil from the gearboxes on all of the lifts and meticulously examined components for excessive wear using a scope.

Lift Maintenance Must-Do’s

Does your lift maintenance need an upgrade? Don’t cut corners when it comes to replacing vital ski lift parts. You know the complexity of operating ski lifts, so you can never be too careful!

It might be time for a ski-lift brake overhaul. Check out our complete supply here.


Posted in Industrial Equipment.