View Full Version : Elevator Drops

5th Apr 2006, 08:19
I was in an elevator lobby this afternoon when this chap mentioned across to one of the four elevators. He said you don't want to go in that one, it's had a drop. In fact it's had two drops in the 10 or so years the building has been in existance.

Then of course, that lift dinged to indicate it was going to be the one to carry me back down from the 28th floor. :eek:

Has anyone here ever been in an elevator drop? If so what was it like?

5th Apr 2006, 08:23
Well, it hurt, especially when we came to that sudden stop, but I'm getting better, slowly.

B Fraser
5th Apr 2006, 08:43
Has anyone here ever been in an elevator drop? If so what was it like?

nothing like an aileron drop :}

5th Apr 2006, 08:43
What, you didn't jump in the air just before impact ?

Everyone knows that's how you save your life in a drop...:confused:

Solid Rust Twotter
5th Apr 2006, 09:08
That only works if you're standing on a conveyor belt...

5th Apr 2006, 09:14
Yep, steinycans, I have - about 16 years ago in Palma. Wasn't a big deal because they only drop a couple of feet before the lack of tension in the cables allows the safety brakes to engage the guide rails. The biggest problem was that the lift stopped with its floor only about 18" below the top of the outside door so when the fire brigade came we had to wriggle out feet first on our tums. Even with a couple of firemen reaching up to support us there was a serious risk (and an even more serious fear) of falling down into the shaft below the actual cabin! It would have been a long enough drop, even if it was only 3 floors!!
Half way though our extraction the firemen got called away because the winding machinery at the top of the shaft had caught fire - something to do with accumulated grease.
The other occupant was a girl from Bilbao who, after the cabin stopped falling, kept trying to jump up to grab some rails on the cabin ceiling because she thought that would be the safest thing to do should the lift fall further to the bottom!! It took a while to disabuse her of that thinking - and all the while the only thing that might have caused us a further problem was all her jumping up and down!!

Devlin Carnet
5th Apr 2006, 09:14
Well they cant drop far, they have a mechanism, called "dogs" which deploy and grip the guides when the car reaches a certain speed,
And they are a bugger to reset, (or they used to be, its been a while.)
It actually requires more power to lower an empty car because of the counterweight.

Edited to say bugger cameronian beat me to it.

5th Apr 2006, 09:23
If you do end up in an elevator which is dropping and not going to stop before the bottom, lie flat on the floor.


5th Apr 2006, 10:24
The other occupant was a girl from Bilbao who, after the cabin stopped falling, kept trying to jump up to grab some rails on the cabin ceiling because she thought that would be the safest thing to do.....
I'd have helped her up!

Stretched taught tummies are only second to a nice @r$e in my list of desireable attributes.

Even better, I'd have suggested she'd be safest sat on my shoulders.

I'll leave you to guess which way around......:p :E

5th Apr 2006, 14:02
Not an elevator drop as such but I do remember (vaguely) a hotel in Palma having a particular lift whose floor was very bendy - even my weight (was only a small child at the time) was enough to cause it to flex quite a lot.
People using this lift always used to stand around the edge rather than in the middle - until a chap in a wheelchair rolled in and went through. Luckily it was on the ground floor so only a minor drop and no injuries.

5th Apr 2006, 15:17
I thought all 'elevators' had a 'king big spring at the bottom of the pit that was strong enough to absorb the crash and propel the car back up the shaft . . . :confused:

5th Apr 2006, 15:21
Unless you can jump upwards at the same velocity as the elevator has downwards, there is nothing you can do!

Loose rivets
5th Apr 2006, 15:36
Albert Einstein's 'greatest thought'. Allegedly.

Then there was the optimist who shouted, "It's all going okay so far. "... as he passed the second floor.:8

5th Apr 2006, 15:47
Unless you can jump upwards at the same velocity as the elevator has downwards, there is nothing you can do!

Even so, timing is a bit critical too!

5th Apr 2006, 16:16
Have you noticed a lot of lifts are made by a company called Schindler?

Inspired a film, they did.

Schindler's Lifts.

5th Apr 2006, 16:20
great joke acbus..........no really.......I'm cracking up with laughter :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
seriously.....you're a funny guy :ok: :D

5th Apr 2006, 17:43
Have you noticed a lot of lifts are made by a company called Schindler?

Don't ACME make lifts anymore?
Over here, Otis Reading makes lifts . . .

Onan the Clumsy
5th Apr 2006, 18:00
There was a lady who rode most of the Empire State building when the B25 cut the cable after coliding with the 79th floor. Oddly enough, she was just going off shift when the accident happened. She lived btw.

Some don't even have cables, just a hydraluic ram underneath.

5th Apr 2006, 18:02
Only been in an elevator once when it dropped. luckily it only dropped 1 & 1/2 floors, took nearly an hour for the engineers to come out and let everyone out.

5th Apr 2006, 18:10
Some of you may remember the story back in World War II that a B-25 crashed into the Empire State Building, I want to say the 87th level.

One of the engines of the B-25 separated from the wing and went through one of the elevator shafts shearing the elevator cables. The damage was so severe that the friction brakes failed and the elevator car fell to the basement with the female elevator operator inside.

Later after the fires were put out and all the dead and injured where removed from the upper floors the firemen went to the basement to recover the body of the elevator operator.

She was still alive. The speed of the elevator falling caused her to float in the air inside the car. She was seriouly injured, however, she recovered and moved to Kansas.

She never got into an elevator again for the rest of her life.

True story that is.

5th Apr 2006, 18:15
"You know anything about parachutes?"

"No. You know anything about gas stoves?"

5th Apr 2006, 18:31
I remember watching Mythbusters on Discovery tackling the 'Jump just before the bottom' myth. They had elaborate mechanisms to make their crash test dummy spring up just before the bottom of the shaft. Dummy took a shed-load of hammer during the process (as he always does) and it's a myth. You're still Fcuked.

Brilliant program. (In general, not specifically that episode!) :)

5th Apr 2006, 18:37
I'd have to agree with you Duchess, the Mythbusters have the second best job in the world.

5th Apr 2006, 18:39
That is probably very true DD. No one could figure out how that lady elevator operator survived. There was/is no doubt that she should have died.

Okay, just did some research (thank God for Google). The B-25 hit the 79th floor. There were two women in the elevator and both survived.

I'll do some more research and try to get more details.

Okay, now I'm confused. Now I can only find that there was only one woman involved, her name was/is Betty Lou Oliver. She fell from the 75th floor, a distance of over 1000ft or 300+meters.

The possible reasons she survived were, piled up broken cables at the bottom of the elevator shaft cushioned impact and that the air pressure built up at the bottom of the shaft from the car falling helped cushion the impact.

What ever the reasons she was one luck person.

5th Apr 2006, 18:48
If the terminal velocity of a human body in air is (approx) 150 mph, but the terminal velocity of a metal box in a close-fitting (?) tube is 150+/- Xmph, will the terminal velocity of a human body in a closed box be greater or lesser than that of the box itself?
Would a budgerigar within the lift be injured through being hit by the roof of the lift, or would it perish due to colliding with the base (floor) of the lift?
Neither is subject to the conveyor law . . .

5th Apr 2006, 18:53
G-C, I just edited my last post, that may answer part of your question.

5th Apr 2006, 18:54
Wouldn't it be beneficial to pressurize aircraft with a helium mixture? Not only would we have the extra lift, but it would make many cockpit conversations so much more tolerable.:D

Elevator fall survival would be enhanced if you are perched on the shoulders of a fellow occupant at impact.

5th Apr 2006, 19:02
Thanks C-P. I pose my questions not so much for my own enlightenment, rather for the stimulation of thought among those who contribute their opinions here, so that they can direct their minds towards solutions (factual or otherwise) from which I (and hopefully others) can derive amusement (and, perchance, enlightenment).
Such is Jet Blast . . .

5th Apr 2006, 19:24
Sorry to be so boring but, aside from the seduction of the drama involved drawing one to assume the thing was in free-fall, what's to say that the lift in the Empire State Building didn't rather unexcitingly graunch, scrape and rattle its way down the shaft for some time on its bust brakes and mechanisms at 30 or 40 mph? Giving a perfectly mundane reason as to why the woman inside was only injured and not killed.

Well, that's another great 'Wow-Factor!' story ruined... I'll be off then. :E

5th Apr 2006, 19:28
Was the cable cut ABOVE or BELOW the lift car? :confused: :suspect:

5th Apr 2006, 19:39
As the plane hit, Oliver, an elevator operator, was blown out of her post on the 80th floor and badly burned. After receiving first aid, she was put in another car to go down to an ambulance. As the elevator doors closed, rescue workers heard what sounded like a gunshot but what was, in fact, the snapping of elevator cables weakened by the crash. The car with Oliver inside, now at the 75th floor, plunged to the sub-basement, a fall of over 1,000 feet. Rescuers had to cut a hole in the car to get to the badly injured elevator operator.
Despite a harrowing experience, Oliver survived, due in large part to the elevator safety devices which served their function, though perhaps not as envisioned. The elevator car safety could not set because the governor cable had been severed by the plane's impact. Therefore, other factors contributed to slowing the elevator and 'cushioning' its fall. As the elevator fell, the compensating cables, hanging from beneath the car, piled up in the pit and acted as a coiled spring, slowing the elevator. Also, the hatchway was of a 'high-pressure' design, with minimum clearance around the car. In such a small space, the air was compressed under the falling elevator. With such a tight fit of the car in the hatchway, the trapped air created an air cushion in the lower portion of the shaft -- thereby further slowing the elevator car and allowing its occupant to survive.www.esbnyc.com

5th Apr 2006, 19:44
So she got the wind-up . . . :E

5th Apr 2006, 19:52
Thanks Paper Tiger, I was just about to post that.:ok:

It was also her last day at work. She was on her way to met her husband who was in the Navy.

Now, if there had been a conveyor belt in the lift shaft........................:p

5th Apr 2006, 20:21
Not an elevator drop exactly, but I acted for the insurers of a chap who was working on the roof of a freight elevator in a factory. The roof was made of three uncovered heavy metal mesh panels. The fourth heavy metal mesh panel was covered with a sheet of linoleum. Whistling while he worked, he stood on panel # 1. Good. He moved on to panel # 2. Good. He moved to panel # 3. Good. He moved to panel # 4, covered with the linoleum. Not so good. Guess what! No heavy metal mesh panel!

Well! He was very upset when he hit the floor ten or twelve feet down, and so were his insurers.

How it comes back! Not on the elevators, another chap about that time was working on a building site. He and a mate wanted a plank to make a ramp for a barrow. No plank available; Hey! There is that old door lying on the ground. No one needs it. Mate went to the top end of the door, facing away from it. My bloke went to the other end, facing the door. Each picked up his end, started to walk forward. After two paces, my bloke plunged out of sight into the 10' hole that the door had been covering. Came as a surprise to everyone, especially him. Polish chap.

I was quite the expert at that time on (a) sudden plunges and (b) astonished clients.

As to the lady in the Empire State Building, that elevator may have given good float, but did it insulate her from 87 floors' worth of gravity? S = ut + 1/2a.t(squared).

5th Apr 2006, 20:48
S = ut + 1/2a.t(squared).

Ah but the air cushion in the shaft beneath the elevator car acted as a brake (as described in a previous post) so that equation does not fully apply.

As a linked aside, I was working on a museum contract a few years ago that involved the installation of some VERY large and heavy pieces of glass; about 6m high 4m wide and 50mm thick. These pieces were incredibly heavy and I asked one of the glass contractors how they dealt with handling them around the factory. His answer was simple;

"Oh once we have moved them using a crane (glass section in vertical orientation) then we just push them over to get them flat on the floor. The air cushion trapped beneath is enough to make them slow down before they slam into the floor and they just settle gently onto the ground"

I wonder who tried that trick for the first time?:ok:

5th Apr 2006, 21:10
I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block #3 of the accident reporting form. I put “Poor Planning” as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-storey building. When I completed my work, I found I had some bricks left over which when weighed later were found to weigh 240 lbs.

Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.

Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 240 lbs of bricks. You will note on the accident reporting form that my weight is 135 lbs.

Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collarbone, as listed in Section 3, accident reporting form.

Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence. Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground-and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs. I refer you again to my weight. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and severe lacerations of my legs and lower body.

Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope.

Dan Bentley
6th Apr 2006, 00:36
It's not the falling that kills you...

6th Apr 2006, 01:00
Awww... I thought this thread was about a new flavour of sweets/candy... :{

6th Apr 2006, 01:22
If you want to know how it feels take a ride on the Hollywood Tower of Terror at Disneyland/World in CA or FL :eek: