Update Wednesday 1/24/24
We’re back up and running! Today we finished attaching the bullwheel to the terminal, removed all the rigging and re-tensioned the lift. Then we inspected everything again, greased the bearings, and started the lift for the first time. After a couple low speed rotations we inspected again, greased again, and repeated a few more times, increasing speed and run time. Then our Mountain Manager Mike got to take the first trip up, inspecting the line and making sure everything is where it should be.
We have a handful of punch list items to complete over the next couple days, but fully expect to run the lift this weekend!
Update Tuesday 1/23/24
Alaska Industrial X-ray was on site first thing this morning and quickly verified the integrity of the bullwheel shaft via ultrasound test. The new bearings arrived around noon, and with a bit of dry ice to cool the bearings and some heat on the hubs, they slid in easily. More tricky was getting the bearings and hubs on the bullwheel shaft, but modifying a couple 5 gallon buckets to hold dry ice on the top and bottom of the shaft let them slip on relatively easily.
After the sun went down we started re-mounting the bullwheel hubs to the carriage. We got everything lined up and about half fastened before calling it a night.
Update Monday 1/22/24
Our contractor from Rigging Specialties arrived on Saturday night, and we were able to detension the lift on Sunday. This involved lowering the counterweight to the ground so there would be less tension on the haul rope. Then our contractor made a sling out of wire rope of the same diameter as the haul rope, which we were able to source from Alaska Rubber Group’s Rigging Division. The sling was attached to the haul rope with wire rope clips, then we pulled on the sling with chain hoists attached to the rear of the carriage (the part of the drive assembly that moves back and forth depending on the haul rope tension). This allowed us to pull enough slack in to drop the haul rope off the bullwheel. Once that was done, we rigged the bullwheel itself and carefully removed the bolts holding the bullwheel’s hubs to the carriage. That was about 10 hours of work on Sunday, and we were long past sunset, so we called it a night.
Today we started by pulling the hubs off the bullwheel, which contain the bearings. When we removed the top hub, we found the cause of the failure: one of the rollers in the bearing had rotated 90 degrees (see photo) and dislodged the snap ring that keeps the bullwheel in place on the shaft. This failure mode actually alerted us to the issue relatively quickly, and are fortunate that we stopped operating the lift before significant damage could occur to the shaft. We overnighted new bearings through Alaska Bearing Company, which should arrive Tuesday.
Tuesday we have Alaska Industrial X-Ray coming up to do an ultrasound test to verify the integrity of the shaft. If all goes well, we’ll start reassembly on Tuesday afternoon.
Update Saturday 1/20/24
Though you won’t see much action on the T-bar today, we are getting supplies and materials ready to go. We purchased additional rigging materials and tools on Friday, and the maintenance staff lowered the lift’s counterweight almost all the way to the ground.
Our contractor arrives tonight, and will be on site first thing Sunday morning. We’ll do recon and make a firm game plan on Sunday, and finish lowering the counterweight so we can move the lift’s carriage (which houses the bullwheel, motor, gearbox, etc) forward. This will lower the tension on the lift and make it easier to rig for a complete detension. After the lift is detensioned, we can remove the bullwheel if necessary, and start replacing the bearings and shaft if needed.
Original post Thursday 1/18/24
If you were at Arctic Valley on Monday the 15th, you saw the T-bar go down and our operations switch over to Chair 1 for the remainder of the day.
The immediate issue was a problem with the T-bar’s bullwheel brake, which caused our mechanics to inspect the drive terminal more closely. That inspection revealed that the bullwheel bearings had failed. Unfortunately this isn’t an easy or quick fix. This project will be more time consuming than it might otherwise be because of the age of the lift and lack of engineering documentation. This means we can’t order new bearings, or potentially a new driveshaft if needed, until we can get the rope off the bullwheel and lower the bullwheel to the ground.
We’re working with a lift maintenance company out of Canada that has lots of experience in this type of work. They’ll be on site this weekend or early next week to help. At this point we expect the project to take at least three weeks if everything goes smoothly. It may take longer depending on the condition of the driveshaft – having to make a new one would be a custom manufacturing job, dependent on machine shop’s availability.
We’ll be updating this post as the project progresses.
Until the T-bar is repaired, we’ll be planning to open both Chair 1 and Chair 2 at 10:30. Chair 2 may be slightly delayed depending on snow safety, but we are working on adding a rope line along Shooter so we can open the front side before snow safety has completed work on the High Traverse.
We apologize for the inconvenience – we know how passionate many of our skiers & riders are about the T-bar. We’re working hard to get the lift back up and running as soon as possible!
Arctic Valley Ski Area