Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Three Strikes

Bangs Community Center

So you have to wonder if state gas inspectors check for gas leaks by using a flamethrower.

The Bangs Center elevator failed a once-every-five years load test by having an expensive piston explode after the state inspector used 3,000 pounds of weight/pressure on a system rated for 2,500 pounds, or 20% over.

So that would be fifteen 200 pound occupants in the square footage not much more than a walk in closet.  Or one of those circus -- dare I say it -- CLOWN cars.

Now if this was the first time it happened that would be one thing, but just in our little town this is the the third time it has happened.  A few years ago at the Amherst police headquarters, a few months ago at Ann Whalen Apartments and now the Bangs Center.

 Ann Whalen main elevator was down for three months after load test inspection back in May

Makes you wonder how many elevators state wide have been trashed in this manner?

Perhaps the state should rethink the way they do these inspections, especially since it will cost Amherst taxpayers $80,000 to fix the Bangs Center elevator and the most recent cost to fix Ann Whalen Apartments elevator was $76,000.

Hey Governor Baker, tell your elevator inspectors to lighten up!


30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Larry, do you realize how ignorant you sound? You are even starting to sound lik Ed.

Larry Kelley said...

Oh I don't know, Ed doesn't use puns very often.

(But he does favor a flamethrower)

Anonymous said...

In your picture there are 2 elevators. Were both broken? I cannot believe that both are out of service for the same reason. Any why so long? Hydraulic Parts for standard elevators are not that difficult to obtain.

Larry Kelley said...

The photo with two elevators is Ann Whalen Apartments not Bangs Center, which only has one.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like those trade union special interest that made us trash our trusty much beloved family wood stove - and spend twenty grand on a new septic system- that included washing machine - oh brother- brought to you by aging nineties hipster cheeses land grabbers- the school nuts demographic - what eva happened to an honest days work ??? Ya think ???!!!

Anonymous said...

This post is kinda funny, pot calling the kettle black kind of funny.

Almost all houses, businesses, schools, products and lifestyles cost dramatically more due to folks with such a mentality, which the town itself also employs in great numbers and such policies are often championed here....to enforce extreme standards that have significant cost which have little effect on safety.

This is the modern game of government. People bare resist anymore. The question I have is that since we all know the regulators can get away with anything, why did they not use 400% or more like most safety and construction standards. The floor immediately outside the elevator has a much higher margin of safety and no blog posts. The floor in my living room the same. Stairs have a lower one, go figure, why, well no one really cares because they drove to these buildings in a car right by drunk drivers, they live in the real world where there are few to protect you.

I think we have reached the point where it would be better for everyone to just take some risks...let some "elevators" fall and live in a more prosperous society. We will also be very clear which ones are broken.


Dr. Ed said...

Actually, I don't have a 500-over-limit weight test.
(What do you think two firefighters (and gear) weigh?)

You always include a margin of error, I truly doubt they are testing them at a weight higher than they ever did -- or were supposed to. The latter is quite possible, with the problems the state was having with elevator inspections 10-20 years ago, I'd not be surprised to learn that past tests might not have been to specs.

(Ask any police officer about vehicles that had a valid inspection sticker...)

And you can blame UMass for part of this -- in addition to the Tower Library elevator which lost its counterweights, there were earlier pandemic problems with the elevators in the SW towers -- doors opening with no elevator there. (Reading the APD logs, there still are extensive elevator problems at UMass.)

More importantly, in any lifting operation, you need a safety factor of FOUR because of inertia -- you weigh a lot more when you start or stop moving. (Think car crashes as an extreme example.) The 4X rule is a standard minimum -- go down to Home Depot and look at the data on all yhe rope & chain they sell.)

1/4 of 3000 is 750 lbs -- 3 firefighters and their gear. It's not that much weight -- 5-6 ARHS cheerleaders. You really don't want a catastrophic failure under these conditions.

Larry, this is not an unreasonable test, and the fact that three elevators in town have failed should be causing you to ask a different question.....

Dr. Ed said...

Correction: I don't have a problem with a 500-over-limit test.

Anonymous said...

Oh I don't know, Ed doesn't use puns very often.

You can thank the Nazis at umASS for that.

When you get in trouble for quoting the King James Bible, quoting it accurately and exactly for what Biblical scholars have always said that verse meant, well .....

Anonymous said...

I thought firemen used the stairs.

Anonymous said...

As usual- the town is bothered by a $80,000 expense to assist Amherst seniors and individuals with disabilities...
while the Select Board stamps approval on a 65 million dollar school (that many in town don't want and can't afford) without a moment of pause.

We a lot more information and the building committee needs to focus on essentials- not the dream lists repeatedly mentioned during planning. Has our school administration looked at ways to cut their already "open checkbook" budget to help with this project?

We don't have a tax base from businesses- and our tax rate is already one of the highest in Massachusetts. We encourage low income folks (Habitat for Humanity) to move to Amherst- but once they move in - they can't afford to live here.

Vote "No" on Question 5.

Anonymous said...

The last post is kinda interesting. As society shifted its focus from adults, earlier last century, to kids, later in the century....the quality of the kids and their usefulness as adults diminished.

It has been pretty well established, call it the experiment of the last 75 years, that hyper focus and allocating society's resources strongly towards children and education has literally backfired and created people that are far less pleasant, respectful and literally less smart than those that were taught not to speak unless spoken to. Literally a huge waste of money and time.

Millennials have a particular disdain towards respecting those more experienced than them, even their bosses, who are literally instructed to finish raising them before expecting good performance at work. Interesting that parents that hyper focus on making great kids have the opposite effect.

Maybe it is time to let the parents finance and take care of their own kids. Society is not better off for all the funds we are allocating to children, who we all know mostly leave the community that invested in them. My sense is that when parents have to fund the full cost of their little decisions, that kids will go back to "don't speak until spoken to" and get some quality young adults again in stead of this millennial garbage.

Bottom line, there will be plenty of money for the elderly and those that earned it. Off to ID pictures of store fronts.

Anonymous said...

6:49 AM makes good sense. Plenty of money to pay for anything to do with the schools but bitchin' about money for public safety and maintenance.
Welcome to Amherst.

Anonymous said...

9:35--Well, our schools may have issues, but at least they've taught my kids the correct usage of the word "literally".

Anonymous said...

Oh Goody, that justifies everything. I guess your kids are smarter than you now.

Dr. Ed said...

OK Larry, I'm going to spell it out for you.

Excluding the colleges, how many elevators are there in Amherst?
More relevant: How many elevators are there in public buildings in Amherst?

Let's say six to keep the math simple (I think it's actually five) -- three burst pistons is 50%.

Now how many elevators do you think here are in the MetroBoston Area? And what would be 50% of that number?

Larry, think logically here -- if the state inspectors were destroying thousands of elevators by doing something stupid, don't you think that both Beacon Hill & Baker would be deluged in complaints? How long do you think this would continue?

Hence it isn't happening statewide.

QED this was either a coincidence, or there are safety issues related to AMHERST elevators.

Anonymous said...

How many proper uses of the word "literally" does it take to support a family?

You may want to shoot for 25% over as a safety factor.

Anonymous said...

I think it literally takes literally 20.

Anonymous said...

I literally don't care about the Bangs Center. Or their literal elevator.

Anonymous said...

If the piston blows, you are probably better off replacing the whole elevator.

Anonymous said...

This was a standard 5 yr test and the old cylinder (jack) was corroded deep in the ground and ruptured when properly tested. This is why they are tested...duh. I love all the expert opinions on here. And furthermore if you think 500 lbs extra weight is some kind of super stress on a commercial elevator you should stick to loading paper in the copy machine.

Anonymous said...

If the piston blows you are better off replacing the entire town....

Anonymous said...

10:39 -- isn't a 50% failure rate kinda high? Particularly when the APD's was only 20 years old -- what's the life expectancy on a cylinder?

Anonymous said...

Convention elevator jacks are in the ground as deep as the rise is high. Guess what they are in...water. Service life is usually 20 years but many many jacks are much older. This scenario involves water,electrolysis,corrosion and just plain old coincidence. Your lucky this State inspector tested these jacks properly
and found the weak points during a test and a car full of pedestrians holding turkeys did not. This is exactly how the testing system should work and was a safe success. Some thrifty townspeople think everything should be free and there old elevators should never fail. I believe we should stop dwelling on percentages and more on coincidence. Your math doesn't apply. You are overthinking it. Have a safe and happy long weekend.

Dr. Ed said...

Guess what they are in...water"

The aquifer. The underground lake of water that a lot of places, including both Amherst & Hadley, use for drinking water.

So you're leaking hydraulic oil INTO the aquifer.

Ummmm -- this is not a good thing. The buried heating oil and gasoline tanks that caused so many problems were only about 10 feet down, with the leak then draining down into the aquifer (unless you excavate the contaminated soil to prevent this).
Here, it's already IN it, and you'd have to tear down the building to excavate the contaminated soil, except that it's already in the water anyway.

Larry, remember Gasland?

That was on Triangle street and the water table there was so high that (I'm told) that Gasland often sold customers more water than gasoline. Following the topography there, you have Ann Whalen, Bangs Center (next door) and the APD -- all in a straight line. I *know* the water table is high near the old power plant (ACTV), it'd be an actual swamp but for all the coal ash/clinkers, all of Aspen Chase is built on that, and coal ash raises issues of Sulfur & Mercury, but I digress.

I don't know much about elevators, but I do know a lot about hydraulics -- we use a lot of it on the ocean -- and it leaks a long time before it fails, particularly if it is something other than a hose.

Larry, but for the inspector, how much oil would have keaked -- actually been pumped -- into the aquifer?

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth virtually all jacks are in water the second they decend below the pit concrete floor. Maybe their is something special about the water Amherst people drink. As for how much oil leaked I'd ask the Bangs Centers maintenance director John. He seems like a wealth of accurate knoledge with all the answers..lol

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, oil floats.

But the coal ash is another matter: not just mercury, but plenty of radioactive components, at a level hight than the most radioactive granite in the area - the radon/alpha-emitter risk is extraordinary - you don't want to inhale the coal ash dust!

Anonymous said...

Concern is water-soluble chemicals dissolving in water, forming a plume that decends downstream.

Anonymous said...

Good point 3:57. But won't soil contamination at the old gas and service stations near Triangle Street/Tan Brook, the old Chevy dealership by the railroad tracks, and Whiting Oil tanks nearby, overwhelm any potential contaminant plume signal from Bangs?

Anonymous said...

Think into a vein versus a general injection.