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M2 Project

Is it too early to think about the upcoming winter season? Well, here at Smuggs we’re always planning ahead, so to prepare for an amazing winter season, this summer we’re giving our M2 lift’s bull wheel a little love. Like your car needs regularly scheduled tune-ups and maintenance based on mileage and age, so do our lifts. The mechanical components of the bull wheel, such as the planetary gearing or the upper portion of the hub and the brake drum, wear over time from use and needs service. This typically happens every 10-15 years. It involves removing major pieces from the bottom drive of the M2 lift including the gearbox and the bull wheel itself where the planetary is mounted. This is similar to any planetary gear that you would find on many pieces of equipment including our final drives for the snow cats…only a lot bigger!

Below are the detailed steps of how we’re getting the M2 lift ready for ski season.

Pictured: Mountain Operations staff re-tension the lift cable on Madonna II after the lower bull wheel has been serviced for years of further use and enjoyment

The first step is to de-tension the cable on the lift which requires jacking the counterweight up to take pressure off of the cable. Then we have to lower the cable down on the first few towers to give enough slack to remove the cable from the bottom bull wheel.

Pictured: the Madonna II lift cable down on the first few towers to give enough slack to remove the cable from the bottom bull wheel

Next, we cut a hole in the roof of the M2 drive and disassemble the gearbox to remove it so we could access the top of the bull wheel structure.

Pictured: Lift Mechanic Kody Houle’s view of the gearbox disassembled

Once this is done, a service member from Doppelmayr assists with the delicate procedure of lowering the wheel and planetary down to be transported out of the drive area. At this point, the bull wheel which is around 6000 pounds, can be flipped over for access to the planetary. A large excavator and our lull were needed to perform this as the structure is about 12 feet in diameter.

Pictured: the Madonna II bull wheel lowered and being serviced

All of the internals on the planetary are serviced and put back together. The whole process begins in reverse to get the bull wheel and planetary back into place for many more years of operation.

Pictured: Mountain Operations staff completing the entire process in reverse
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Pat Kelley

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