Bluebird Lift Status Update
Saturday, February 24, 2018
UPDATE FOR THURSDAY 3/1:
Isn’t it great when things go as planned?
The parts for The Bluebird Express arrived on-schedule yesterday afternoon, along with the team from Poma, and the seals and shims from Switzerland. Wasting no time, our crews got to work installing the new bearings and gears, staging as much as possible at the base of the mountain. By 4:30 pm the work had progressed to the point where we could load everything onto the basket of the snowcat and carefully bring the over 2,000lbs of parts up to the summit.
From there, our teams worked through the night and into the early morning hours of Thursday, fueled by Tony’s Pizza and the urge to get this lift open before the 12”+ of snow that’s headed this way Thursday night into Friday starts to fall. Around 4 am they were able to cautiously start the lift and begin preliminary testing. With all systems looking good, they retired for some much-needed sleep, and let the next crew of lift mechanics take over to begin pre-oping the lift.
As of 8 am this morning, The Bluebird Express is once again up and spinning, and after a few more tests, we should be good to go to open it back up for the public, just in time for the impending powder dump.
We’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who’s been involved in this process, and want you all to know that we couldn’t have done it without the amazing team we have here at the mountain. We’d also like to thank you all for your patience, well wishes, and encouragement during this fix. It really helped to keep the guys going as the work continued into the early morning.
As of this posting, The Bluebird Express is spinning and bringing guests to the summit!
Placing the lower ring after lower planet carrier.
Prepping for upper ring and planets.
Rigging to pick up and set the upper section.
Re-installing the upper section.
UPDATE FOR TUESDAY 2/27:
Our lift mechanic team continues to prep the lift for installation of the new parts while working to get everything cleaned up and ready to roll the moment they arrive. As part of this, we have removed the planetary gear systems and have brought them down to the base area to prep for the installation of the new gears.
As for the travels of the two groups of parts, the crew from Leitner-Poma with the new gearbox parts are en route from Grand Junction, Colorado, and are currently cruising down I-70 on time for their scheduled arrival on Wednesday morning. In the meantime, the seals and shims are on a plane from Switzerland today and are slated to arrive onsite tomorrow as well.
Once we have all the necessary parts here on site, we will be assembling what we can in the base area, before moving all the parts uphill via snowcat. Then at the summit, our crews, along with the team from Poma, will dive in headfirst into the installation, in an effort to get The Bluebird Express back up and running as soon as possible.
As for the planned opening, we are still shooting for Friday for the 3-5” of snow headed this way, but if everything goes to plan, fingers-crossed we may be able to get it up and going earlier.
Lower planetary heading down to the base.
Lower planetary in the shop.
Sun gear in the shop.
UPDATE FOR MONDAY 2/26:
We received this photo yesterday from Grand Junction, Colorado of our new gearbox rolling out of the shop on it's way to Mount Snow. Still on track to have The Bluebird Express back up and running for Friday.
UPDATE FOR SUNDAY 2/25:
Work is progressing on The Bluebird Express, as our team of lift mechanics has been able to fully disassemble the main gearbox of the lift and diagnose the issue. As we had originally thought, we had a main bearing fail in the gearbox, and when it released its bearings sent them dropping down into the gears, resulted in several broken and damaged teeth. See photos below.
Now that we know what the issue is, we can go ahead and order the replacement parts. The parts needed will be coming from Grand Junction, Colorado with the exception of one key part that must be air freighted in from Switzerland. Right now we expect to have all the parts on-site by Wednesday, at which point our team, along with a technician from Leitner-Poma, will get to work.
If everything goes to plan, we will have The Bluebird Express back up and running by Friday, just in time for the coming weekend. We will, of course, keep you all updated as the work progresses, so please keep checking back on this blog post.
ORIGINAL POST FOR SATURDAY 2/24:
At approximately 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, February 24, 2018, our lift operations crew detected an issue in the main drive of The Bluebird Express. While it continued to function and safely offload all passengers, our lift mechanics quickly identified the issue as part of the planetary gear system in the main drive of the lift.
As of 1:30 p.m. our lift mechanics have begun the process of disassembling the main drive unit, which once apart will allow us to correctly diagnose the issue. Once we have diagnosed the cause, we will be able to order the correct parts from Leitner-Poma, the manufacturers of the lift. We should know more details around the issue by Saturday night, or early Sunday morning and will update you all via this blog post. At this point, we anticipate having The Bluebird Express back and running sometime this week, and will update this blog with a firm date and time once we have one.
We pride ourselves on our preventative maintenance program, and while this is a new lift with just 11,000 hours of operation to date, it operates hundreds of days a year in conditions ranging from -25 to 90 degrees, and over time parts do wear out. In fact, this exact gearbox was checked fairly recently, as part of our preventative maintenance program, and was found to be in proper functioning order.
While we wish we could say this was going to be an easy fix, it will most likely be days before The Bluebird Express is back up and running and open to the public. In the meantime, the summit is accessible via The Grand Summit Express, which will remain scheduled to run everyday until The Bluebird Express is back online. In addition, our lifts Challenger, Outpost, and Sunbrook Quad all offer summit access, as well as our Sundance Triple, which offers access to Long John near the summit.
We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause our guests during this time. Please bear with us as we work to correct this issue as quickly as possible.