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snopes
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Comment: I was told when the chicago tower was built, a elevator inspector
came to inspect the elevator and didn't ask if anyone was on there and
told them to take it to the top and bring it down to check the brake and
told the people to do this three times and when they opened the door they
found several people dead.

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DeMerick
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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So, these people were in the car? Was the inspector sending the elevator to the top as fast as possible then dropping it? That's the only way I can see this happening. Then again, I don't know much about elevators...

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"Writing is a dog's life, but it's the only life worth living." Flaubert

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Artemis
The First USA Noel


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The way I interpreted this was that there were people on top of the elevator itself (repairing it or working on it, I'm assuming), and they were crushed when the elevator went all the way to the top floor.
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DeMerick
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
when they opened the door they
found several people dead.

If the people were on top of the elevator, I can see this happening (although I don't know that people would be that careless). However, this quotation seems to indicate that, when the door to the elevator was opened, the people were found. Unless they were up a floor and opened the elevator to look down at the top, they wouldn't see bodies when the door opened.

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"Writing is a dog's life, but it's the only life worth living." Flaubert

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Artemis
The First USA Noel


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Hmm, you're right. That's weird. Doesn't make much sense either way.
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KingDavid8
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I assumed it meant that the people were on board the elevator and were somehow shaken to death by the repeated process of raising and dropping. But that doesn't really make any sense, either. A successful test means no one on board would die, and so three successful tests wouldn't change that.

Unless it means that it crashed on the third test (a crash on either of the first two would mean there was no third test), but you don't "open the doors" on a crashed elevator, since a fall from that height would have demolished the sucker.

David

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snopes
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I assume the scenario is this:

Elevator inspector arrives at the not-yet-opened Sears Tower building. He stays on the ground floor and asks, as a test of the elevator's braking system, that the crew send the elevator to the top story of the building and let it free fall. (Presumably the emergency braking system will kick in before the elevator actually smashes into the bottom of the shaft.)

Unbeknownst to everyone, three people (construction workers? trespassing kids who sneaked into the site?) are inside the elevator when the tests begin. At the conclusion of the trials, the elevator is left resting on the ground floor. When its doors open, the three people are found inside, dead (from injuries, or -- in a better ending -- from the fright of repeatedly free-falling a hundred stories).

- snopes

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Horse Chestnut
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Or maybe they were testing the Muzak sound system in the elevators, and the passengers died from overexposure to Girl From Ipanema?
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Mistletoey Chloe
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes,
each one she passes
goes - Ah.

I believe in sharing the pain.

--------------------
~~Ai am in mai prrrrrraime!~~

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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I *heart* Girl from Ipanema. Am I the only one?

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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DeMerick
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
When its doors open, the three people are found inside, dead (from injuries, or -- in a better ending -- from the fright of repeatedly free-falling a hundred stories).

Yeah, I like the "dead from fright" scenario better. More along the lines of a good UL.

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"Writing is a dog's life, but it's the only life worth living." Flaubert

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Eddylizard
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Is it reasonable to assume that the safety brake on the elevator failed it's inspection?

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"Ladies and gentlemen, this is what is commonly known as money. It comes in all sizes, colours, and denominations - like people."

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hoitoider
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Found this:

Elevator Safety Test

quote:
This story moved over the UPI wire a year or so ago:
"Ashington, England-Safety engineers checking the emergency braking system on a 480 foot mine-shaft-elevator said they had no idea two miners were trapped inside during the bouncing tests.

"I never want to get back into a pit cage as long as I live", said Mark Hetherington, who was bounced up and down inside the elevator for two hours.

"The elevator was raised to the surface and then sent into a free fall four times to test the braking system before safety engineers realized the two men were inside."

Guess they made it but that would've been half the drop of the Sears Tower. I doubt a person could survive a 1,000 ft or so drop w/out serious injury, even w/ the brake working properly.

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No man has a right in America to treat any other man "tolerantly" for tolerance is the assumption of superiority. -Wendell L. Willkie

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Doug4.7
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Originally posted by hoitoider:
Found this:

Elevator Safety Test

quote:
This story moved over the UPI wire a year or so ago:
"Ashington, England-Safety engineers checking the emergency braking system on a 480 foot mine-shaft-elevator said they had no idea two miners were trapped inside during the bouncing tests.

"I never want to get back into a pit cage as long as I live", said Mark Hetherington, who was bounced up and down inside the elevator for two hours.

"The elevator was raised to the surface and then sent into a free fall four times to test the braking system before safety engineers realized the two men were inside."

Guess they made it but that would've been half the drop of the Sears Tower. I doubt a person could survive a 1,000 ft or so drop w/out serious injury, even w/ the brake working properly.
It depends on how fast the deceleration was. People survive the “fall” from orbit all the time. It just depends on how quickly you “stop”.

I would think a successful test would allow any people in the elevator to survive. If not, then why bother with an emergency brake if it kills the elevator occupants? I don't think they would go with, "At least the elevator won't have to be replaced...".

--------------------
And now for something completely different...

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Four Kitties
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quote:
Originally posted by AnglRdr:
I *heart* Girl from Ipanema. Am I the only one?

I prefer Girl from Three Mile Island:

Tall and green and young and glowing
The girl from Three Mile Island goes walking
And when she passes,
the Geiger counter
goes - click click click click click click click

Four Kitties

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Eddylizard
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I fail to see why the inspector would perform destruction testing on the elevator in the first place. The inspector would have to overcome several obstacles to achieve free fall, and for what, so he could smugly put an X in the box, whilst the contractors spent weeks rebuilding the lift shaft.

The safety brake is designed to kick in before the elevators velocity is such that de-celeration becomes a problem for the occupants.

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"Ladies and gentlemen, this is what is commonly known as money. It comes in all sizes, colours, and denominations - like people."

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DeMerick
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I'm researching, because I'm one of those crazy people who thinks that research is fun. Here's one resource I've found, but it doesn't match the details in the OP. I'll see if I can find anything closer to this story.

ETA: Since the Sears Tower was built in 1970, It's very likely the quality of the elevator technology was much better than in the 1950s (the date of the information in the above link).

--------------------
"Writing is a dog's life, but it's the only life worth living." Flaubert

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Hero_Mike
Happy Holly Days


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Deceleration due to gravity is 32 ft/s^2. The maximum deceleration allowed for mine conveyances (under *emergency* braking) is 16 ft/s^2 in the US, and 12 ft/s^2 in Canada. Even at these rates of deceleration, there is no *guarantee* that one will not be injured, especially if one stands stiffly with their knees or ankles locked. However, injury is not very likely if the deceleration is below these levels, and smooth.

Contrast this with the *normal* rate of acceleration or deceleration of an elevator (or mining conveyance) is somewhere around 2 ft/s^2, with some very exceptional and fast examples having rates of 4 ft/s^2. This only exists in the very tallest buildings, though a it is not uncommon to have mine shafts in excess of 3000 feet in depth, with speeds of 2000 feet per minute.

If you accelerate to, say, 2400FPM, it would take 1.25 seconds to get to that speed of 40FPS under the 32 ft/s^2 of gravity. During that time you will travel a mere 25 feet. If you accelerate to that same speed at 2 ft/s^2, like a typical elevator, it will take you 20 seconds, and during that time you will travel 400 feet. Big difference.

For the deepest mines in the world in South Africa (up to 10,000 feet in a single shaft), the maximum speed of the conveyance can exceed 3000 feet per minute, or 15 metres per second. This corresponds to vertical speeds in excess of 50km/h. Travelling at those speeds is not inherently dangerous, as it is not practical to design a system with a motor big enough to accelerate as fast gravity. This reason alone - economics - is why elevators and mine hoists don't accelerate as fast as gravity.

The safety brakes are designed to stop elevators at a rate which is safe, regardless of its speed of travel.

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"The fate of *billions* depends on you! Hahahahaha....sorry." Lord Raiden - Mortal Kombat

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Alluvian
I Saw Three Shipments


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Why is this UL even about the sears tower? The height of the building makes no difference whatsoever for the braking system (assuming you are high enough for it to engage).

It isn't like the system waits till you are x feet off the ground till it engages. It would engage at a certain rate of accelleration, either through a mechical mechanism using centrifugal force or electronic sensors. Probably the prior due to fear of power loss.

And also, is there even such a thing as an elevator brake test? Or intentionally putting an elevator into freefall? That makes no sense. The emergency brakes on an elevator are destructive, and there isn't some quick release mechanism on the elevator cable to flip a switch and let it freefall. That would be idiotic. Besides, what would you do with the counterweight once you put the car into freefall?

The whole UL makes no sense from any angle.


Edited because the 'breaking' system probably WOULD kill people.. [fish]

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Hero_Mike
Happy Holly Days


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Alluvian - there is no such thing as an "emergency brake test" on an elevator, at least as it applies to the "safety brakes". There is an "emergency braking test" where one would disconnect electrical (or air or hydraulic) power to the motor and stop the elevator with a drum or disc brake at the drum where the cable is, but that is different from "safety brakes".

The safety brakes on elevators - the ones that engage in case of overspeed if the elevator falls because the cables are cut - may very well have a damaging effect on the guides that the elevator runs on. In other words, these "safety dogs" will actually gouge the metal guides. When it comes to mine hoists (which are, essentially, bigger and faster elevators that go below ground), some countries mandate that wooden guides be used for man-carrying hoists because the braking rate from the "safety dogs" on steel guides is so high that injury or death are virtually guaranteed.

I've been 10,000 feet below ground, and I design these systems for a living.

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"The fate of *billions* depends on you! Hahahahaha....sorry." Lord Raiden - Mortal Kombat

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Ramblin' Dave, quietly making noise
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by AnglRdr:
I *heart* Girl from Ipanema. Am I the only one?

No, I love pretty much every version of it I've ever heard. Then again, I've never been stuck in an elevator.

--------------------
Another lifetime I'd have fallen in love with you
Swept away by my feelings, ashamed and confused
But just now it's enough to be walking with you
Let the mystery play as it will! -Lui Collins

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hoitoider
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
Alluvian - there is no such thing as an "emergency brake test" on an elevator, at least as it applies to the "safety brakes".

In the U.S. there's a 'RATED LOAD SAFETY TEST FOR GOVERNOR AND SAFETIES' required every 5 years per ANSI requirements. This is a form from Michigan but it's a standard form:

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dleg_bccfs_elevtest_134196_7.pdf

I have to admit I've spec'd probably 100 elevators over the years but have never seen one tested. Plus Schindler only wines & dines Building Contractors, not Architects. [Frown]

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No man has a right in America to treat any other man "tolerantly" for tolerance is the assumption of superiority. -Wendell L. Willkie

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Alluvian
I Saw Three Shipments


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Well, this myth is pretty clear then. It is obvious that the dead people inside were not killed by the elevator but by the poprocks and soda they ate in the elevator. [Smile]
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WildaBeast
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quote:
Originally posted by Alluvian:
Why is this UL even about the sears tower? The height of the building makes no difference whatsoever for the braking system (assuming you are high enough for it to engage).

That was the thing that screamed UL to me -- If what the OP describes is physically possible and is a common practice by elevator inspectors, it could have just as easily happened at the Bank of America building in Charlotte, or the Columbia Building in Seattle, or the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco... You get the idea, it could have happened in any tall building. But in an urban legend, it has to be the tallest building in the country, or at least a really famous building, because that just makes a better story. I'm sure snopes or one of our resident folklorists could explain that better than I did, but that's the gist of it.

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"Unseasonable is an odd word to begin with. It sounds like it's describing something that it's impossible to sprinkle pepper on." -- Nonny

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RichardM
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The Bank of America building in Charlotte is (or at least was) the tallest concrete structure. I did the electrical design for it.
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birdman
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by WildaBeast:
But in an urban legend, it has to be the tallest building in the country, or at least a really famous building, because that just makes a better story.

Agreed. It's the same reason that Orangelo and Lemongelo's mother has to be black (preferably with different fathers) and that the abductors at Tuttle Mall are offering women perfume samples: because it confirms something the speaker/listener wants to believe. In this case, the belief that tall buildings and elevators are dangerous and one should never venture outside one's home into the cruel world that lies in wait to pounce. Unless you lived in Pruitt-Igoe, in which case staying home and using the elevators really was dangerous. [Wink]

And by the way, I literally laughed out loud several times in the course of reading this thread. First, Horse Chestnut: Or maybe they were testing the Muzak sound system in the elevators, and the passengers died from overexposure to Girl From Ipanema. Then Doug 4.7: I would think a successful test would allow any people in the elevator to survive. If not, then why bother with an emergency brake if it kills the elevator occupants? I don't think they would go with, "At least the elevator won't have to be replaced...". And lastly, Four Kitties, with Girl from Three Mile Island. Thanks, all. [Big Grin]

-birdman

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