Federal Reserve Modernization,
By Jack C. Higgs, Quality Elevator Co., Inc. (Taken from Elevator World's January 2013 issue)
The Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C., contracted Quality Elevator Co., Inc. to modernize five Westinghouse gearless traction machines and one geared traction machine
in the historically sensitive areas of the Eccles Building. The design of the building
is grounded in Greek and Roman architectural elements. When completed in the late
1930s, it was originally four stories. In the 1970s, a fifth floor was added to its center.
As part of the latest modernization, Quality Elevator was tasked with updating the existing
208-VAC controller feeders to supply 480 VAC to the new AC permanent-magnet (PM)
machines. The most unique challenge of the project was the two basement gearless machines.
Quality Elevator redesigned the existing floor-mounted DC hoist motor and adapted
the new Imperial AC PM machine to the existing machine room. The new machine was
inverted, while maintaining alignment with the existing roping system. Quality Elevator
assembled a design team of local engineering firms – Ancona Associates, Motion Control
Engineering’s (MCE) Machine-Room-Less Engineering Department and Imperial Electric.
The company determined the force of the ropes on the AC PM machines must pull toward
the mounting feet. To accomplish this, rotating the machine 90° and maintaining alignment with the existing infrastructure and clearances were required.
The logistics of mounting the new machines required
fabrication of a custom bedplate and fastening the new
machine to the existing structure without overloading the
building structure. To accomplish this, California-based
MCE and Imperial Electric designed a bedplate and
mounting system that would place the stresses on both
the building structure and machine within the designed
The overhead machines came with their own set of design
requirements, as building access to the overhead
machine room was cut off as a result of a fifth-floor addition
in a 1970 renovation. The existing penthouse was
surrounded by the new office space, which could not support
the movement of elevator equipment across the
flooring system. The solution was to create an access hole
in the roof of the Federal Reserve to allow the demoed
Westinghouse machines and control systems to be removed,
and new machines and controls brought into the
building. Quality Elevator created an enclosure that would
allow removal of the cover to crane equipment in, and
seal and secure the access point when complete.
Converting the Eccles Building power was accomplished
by bringing power from a building from across the
street, also owned by the Federal Reserve and connected
by a utility tunnel. The route to the penthouse machine
room utilized the old incinerator flue chase.
Part of the work, beginning in September 2010, was
updating the remote-monitoring system to interface with
the new equipment. This conversion allowed Quality Elevator
to take full advantage of the energy savings associated
with the AC PM machines. The most unique aspect
of the project was that two of the gearless machines were
set up adjacent to each other in the basement.
After consulting with Imperial Electric and MCE, it was determined the force of the ropes on the 525 PM machines must pull toward the mounting feet. The machine had to
be rotated 90°, which would require the design loads to be transferred from the original design (from the floor) to inverting the machine and placing the load onto steel structure and retaining the existing rope alignment. As torque reactions created during hard stops of the elevator had been a design concern, a buffer with a soft rubber stop that would absorb and limit the motion of the machine was added.
Presenting Quality Elevator with another challenge were four additional elevators being
modernized in a machine room above the elevators with narrow access. The drop hole put
in place when the equipment was new had since been blocked with a coffered ceiling in
the elevator lobby that could not be disturbed. After gaining approval from the Federal
Reserve to create an opening in the roof of the machine room to allow crane access, the
company determined the opening needed to be not only watertight and secure, but also
unnoticeable from the surrounding buildings. The machine room also required modifications, such as relocation of switchgears, ship’s ladders
and walls for safe, convenient access to the elevator
equipment. Both the geared and gearless machines were
placed on raised platforms above the controller space.
The specification for the custom remote-monitoring
system required a “Silent Mode” for special meetings. In
this mode, the elevators would run with no directional
chimes or voice annunciation (visual annunciation only).
Then, there was the issue of how to link the three remote
machine rooms to a central location. This required monitoring
integration into the existing infrastructure in the
building. This was a significant hurdle, as the infrastructure
had to follow high security protocol. Working closely
with the Federal Reserve Information Technology Department,
these challenges were overcome, and the project
was completed in July 2012.
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