Grandpa Music and Elevators

November 09 2015

Hello Listserve,

I’m a 25-ish year old Mechanical Engineer in Atlanta. I’m passionate about my job, but I don’t like to let that define who I am - though I conform to a few engineer stereotypes (I have a 3D printer at home, I love math, I’m a bad dresser, and I’m a bit of an introvert). I’ll admit I’m no “special snowflake” in that regard, but my main passion is music.

I play with a few bands around town on weekends (guitar, fiddle, and stand-up bass). I’m crazy about pre-WWII blues (especially piedmont-style guitar), old-time fiddle tunes, ragtime, and early jazz/swing. If I could, I’d love to go hang out in the 1920’s for a week or so. Lately I’ve been listening to Lowe Stokes, Boswell Sisters, Stuff Smith, Clarence Williams, Bull City Red, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Charlie Poole, and Mississippi Sheiks (to name a few). I love finding new people to play with and being introduced to old songs and styles I’ve never played. If you’re in the Atlanta area, let’s meet up and play some tunes! Regardless of where you are, I’d love to hear what you’re listening to.

Let’s talk about Elevators.

Are you afraid or cautious of elevators? Are you an elevator mechanic?

Regardless of the order, if you answered "yes" to one question and "no" to the other question, you should change your mind. If you only ride them, you should have no fears unless someone is trying to assassinate you. If you work on them every day, for the love of god please be careful!

For passengers, elevators are approximately 10-bajillion times safer than any other mode of transportation if you look at it by miles traveled. I would love to cite this statistic, but I can’t paste URL's (sorry). There are multiple redundant safety mechanisms in place to protect passengers, and they are waaaaay over-engineered. For example, the MINIMUM number of suspension cables allowed by law in the USA is 3, and each cable is required to support 6 to 12 times the weight of whole system by itself. You can throw away any fears you have about those cables snapping and falling to your death. Even if they magically disappeared, there are emergency brakes in place to stop you before you get moving too fast. Search “how elevator safety gears work” if you’re mechanically inclined and interested.

Having said this, elevator technicians have one of the most dangerous jobs out there. If you do a search for “elevator fatalities,” you will find that an overwhelming majority of elevator-related accidents involve technicians and installers rather than passengers. They’re working with hunks of steel moving at high speeds and operating on high voltages suspended high above the ground. It’s a recipe for disaster if one isn’t careful.

Random factoids:

For especially tall buildings, the hoist-cables weigh more than all of the moving components combined!

The “door close” button actually does work. It’s just slower in some buildings because code requires the doors to stay open for a minimum number of seconds. If the equipment is old, technicians will sometimes set them to be slower to prevent rattles.

That “fireman trick” where you hold the door close button to skip every floor doesn’t work unless you have special access to the controller. Even then, I’m not entirely sure if it’s a real thing.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I work for an elevator company.

I’m out of space, but if you have any elevator questions, drop me a line and I’ll do my best to answer them!

[email protected]
Atlanta, GA

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