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04-11-2015, 01:19 PM (This post was last modified: 04-11-2015 01:26 PM by anonymous.)
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SAM Magazine—Carrabassett Valley, Maine, March, 21, 2015—A rollback incident today on Sugarloaf’s King Pine lift injured seven guests and sent three to the hospital with non-critical injuries. All three were reported in stable condition on Saturday afternoon, according to hospital spokeswoman Jill Gray.

The incident occurred at about 11:30 a.m. The lift rolled back nine chairs. A video posted online shows at least two skiers jumping from their chairs about 12 to 15 feet above the snow, while others yell for passengers to get off the lift. A total of 204 people were evacuated from the lift about two hours later.

An inspector from the Maine Board of Elevator and Tramway Safety was on-site this afternoon. The lift remains closed until an investigation into the cause of the incident is complete. All of the resort’s other chairlifts are operating as scheduled.

The King Pine lift was certified to operate by the Board of Elevator and Tramway Safety on Oct. 29, 2014, according to a press release posted to Sugarloaf’s website. The fixed-grip quad was built by Borvig in 1988. Located on the east side of the mountain, King Pine is 3,400 feet long with a vertical rise of 1,074 feet and travels 450 feet per minute. The 122 chairs are spaced roughly 51 feet apart; the lift has a capacity of 2,100 skiers per hour.

The accident happened just days before Sugarloaf hosts the U.S. Alpine Championship, and four years after a deropement on Sugarloaf’s Spillway East lift in December 2010 sent eight people to the hospital.



SAM Magazine—Carrabassett Valley, Maine, March 22, 2015—Investigators from Sugarloaf working in conjunction with an engineer from the State of Maine Board of Elevators and Tramways have identified mechanical failures that led to the King Pine lift rollback, resulting in injuries to seven guests yesterday.

The investigation began shortly after the evacuation of the lift was complete. Preliminary findings revealed that the trigger for the incident was a major mechanical failure in one of two gearboxes connecting the lift's electric motor to its drive bullwheel.

The gearbox failure effectively de-coupled the bullwheel from the lift's primary service brake, which is located on the drive shaft between the two gearboxes, and its anti-reverse brake, which is the first of three redundant backup mechanisms for preventing reverse travel.

At this point, the emergency bullwheel brake, which uses calipers to apply braking pressure to the flange of the bullwheel itself, was applied by the lift attendant. This brake slowed the speed of the rollback and ultimately brought the lift to a stop. The application of the emergency brake by the lift attendant likely prevented a more extensive rollback.

The final braking mechanism, known as a drop dog (a large metal pin that drops into the bullwheel to prevent rotation), apparently failed to deploy as designed.

"The cause of the gearbox failure and the failure of the drop dog to deploy as designed both remain under investigation," Ethan Austin, Sugarloaf's director of marketing said.

Just one day before the incident, the gearbox passed a vibration test—a routine preventive maintenance procedure intended to identify potential problems. Another preventive procedure, an oil analysis test, was performed on Jan. 19. Both tests were conducted by outside contractors who specialize in gearbox analysis, and neither revealed any irregularities.

Lift mechanics routinely check gearbox oil levels as part of their daily pre-operating checklist. But the machinery inside of a lift gearbox is not easily observed, so Sugarloaf contracts for routine oil analysis and vibration tests that can indicate potential problems before they occur. The gearbox last underwent major servicing, including the replacement of worn components, just before the start of the 2011-12 winter season.

"Our first concern remains with those who were injured, and those who went through a truly frightening experience," Austin said. "Based on what we know now, we're grateful that this situation wasn't any worse."


SAM Magazine—Carrabassett Valley, Maine—On the heels of the King Pine lift rollback two weeks ago, Sugarloaf has taken a second, similar lift out of service. The Timberline lift, the most similar to the design of the King Pine, was found to have abnormal wear on the driveshaft, which was the component that failed and initiated the King Pine incident.

Following the initial findings in the investigation of the King Pine lift, Sugarloaf's lift maintenance team conducted a thorough inspection of the gear box on the Timberline lift this past week. While many of the components in the Timberline lift, including the braking systems, were updated to newer designs when Timberline moved to its current Snowfields location, the gear boxes remain essentially identical to those found in the King Pine lift.

The inspection did not reveal any damage that would suggest a similar event was imminent or at all likely, but it did reveal an abnormal level of wear and tear to the drive shaft. As a precautionary measure, Sugarloaf has taken the lift out of service until a new drive shaft can be installed.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to locate one in time to reopen the lift this season,” the resort said in a prepared statement.

The Timberline lift is important at this time of year, as it provides primary access to Sugarloaf’s famous Snowfields. While the lift is out of service, “We will provide transportation via passenger snowcat from Spillway Crosscut to the summit on days when summit conditions are favorable,” the resort said. The summit will also remain open to hiking when conditions allow.
Sugarloaf shuts down 2nd ski lift as precaution after accident

Bangor Daily News Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News
Maine | Friday, April 3, 2015
CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — Sugarloaf shut down the Timberline lift on Thursday as a precautionary measure after a maintenance crew found the drive shaft had an abnormal level of wear and tear, according to information posted on the ski resort’s Facebook page.

Sugarloaf shut down the King Pine chairlift on March 21 after a drive shaft mechanical failure set off a series of problems that led to an accident, which sent three people to the hospital, according to a previously published report.

Some of the components that run both lifts are similar, the posting said.

“The inspection focused on the gearboxes and drive shaft, as the King Pine investigation identified a fracture of the drive shaft as the initial triggering event for the accident on that lift,” the posting said.

“While the Timberline inspection did not reveal any damage that would suggest a similar event was imminent or at all likely, it did reveal an abnormal level of wear and tear to the drive shaft,” it continued. “As a precautionary measure, our lift maintenance team has elected to take the lift out of service until a new drive shaft can be installed.”

Resort personnel are attempting to find a new drive shaft, the post said. The lift will be closed until a new drive shaft is installed.
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