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Water in gearbox for elevator. How to flush?

GeorgiSpelvanic

Plastic
Joined
Dec 6, 2021
New here. First post. Non-machinist.

Neighbor's basement flooded, like 3' deep flooded. Don't know how long it was under water as neighbor was away for a week. Lets figure 5 days under water with current!

House has an electric elevator. Motor and gear box are in the basement and were completely submerged.

After pumping out the water I drained the gearbox. The 85w gear oil looked like the usual milkshake of water and oil. She had run the box up and down once after I drained the basement. I figure that made the emulsion.

Can I flush this with diesel or kerosene to get the thing clean, then simply re-fill with gear oil? Or am I looking at too much heartache...and better off telling her to buy a new motor and gear box?
 

Bill D

Diamond
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Location
Modesto, CA USA
The motor bearings are probably the same. The motor needs to be taken apart and the wiring,switches inside dried out. Not just the gear box.
I would dismount the motor and flush it out with water then have a motor shop check it with a meeger before investing in bearings.
Your way is how I would flush the gearbox. Any chance some of the outboard bearings are sealed not open to the inside lube. If so they will have to be replaced.
Bill D
 

Phil in Montana

Stainless
Joined
Jul 31, 2007
Location
Missoula Mt
Gear box is easy, motor is not...you will need to dry the motor out. Take the motor apart and wash the winding with clean water and dry in the oven at 250f for 4 hours.Check the winding for a ground with a magger, replace the bearings. Put back in one piece and reinstall to gearbox. Fill gearbox with 75% oil 25% gas additive called heat...run box up and down once...drain oil and replace with new oil and have a beer job well done...Phil
 

Bill D

Diamond
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Location
Modesto, CA USA
To dry the motor I would not go above 200 F. you do not want trapped water to turn into pressurized steam. I would flush with tap water then use distilled water to rinse. Waster is a okay insulator but anything dissolved in it turns it into a good conductor. By anything I include chlorine, salts, dirt etc which are all in tap water.
Bill D
 
For drowned mechanical assemblies i use ethanol to dry.
It will scavenge water from anywhere.
By the same token, you don't want to leave it in an assembly as it will attract water from the atmosphere.

But if you do a couple alcohol, or alcohol and diesel rinses, then diesel alone, it will be fine. The diesel won't pull any water out, but it will finish rinsing the alcohol out. The rest (of the ethanol) evaporates fast anyway. I don't use methanol - seriously poisonous and more expensive.

For electric, i have no experience.
 

Milland

Diamond
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Location
Hillsboro, New Hampshire
Presumably your neighbor has a disability and you're helping her out. Good on you for that!

I'd be tempted to run WD-40 though the motor, then flush with ethanol to remove the WD-40. I'd also want to clean the bearings with a light oil flushed through, then oil or grease as they require. Better still to just replace them, but you might be best off letting a motor shop do that if you've not got access to the right tools.

If you bake the motor to dry it, use a cheap toaster oven outside, you might generate a significant stink from residual hydrocarbons. I'd not use that oven for food preparation after that...
 

J_R_Thiele

Stainless
Joined
Jan 22, 2003
Location
Columbia Missouri
You are the type of neighbor it is good to have- willing to help and deal with a problem.

If this elevator is used for goods- follow the above advise.

If the elevator is used by people who actually need an elevator...well lets just make that people...
have someone experienced in working on elevators address the problems. Elevators do fail and leave people stuck in them. That motor and gearbox will need to function for ??? years in the future. Not worth taking any chances with.

Chances are you could fix it and it would work but there is always that chance. You will know that chance is there and it will be there in the back of your mind.

Instead of fixing the elevator, suggest to the neighbor that they have the mechanism raised above any probable flood height,if possible. Help them with whatever is needed to deal with future flooding.
 

sfriedberg

Diamond
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Location
Oregon, USA
People have mentioned ethanol as a drying agent. Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) also works well, but not in drugstore strength. Buy the 98 or 99% strength at a hardware store or big box store.
 

crossthread

Titanium
Joined
Aug 5, 2004
Location
Richmond,VA,USA
When I was working at Patrick Air Force base in Florida, we had to deal with flooded fuel pits constantly. This was salt water as the Banana river was only a few feet below the surface of the runway. We would pull the motor, steam clean it and bake it at 250. We had a meggar but rarely used it. These motors had sealed bearings and we did not usually mess with them unless they felt a bit crunchy and probably needed replacing anyway. Motors of this type are simple and surprisingly sturdy devices. A "full" rebuild consisted of knocking off the end bells, replacing the bearings, steaming the windings and baking them at 250 then dipping the windings in some kind of government varnish. We would then bake them a second time. We would use the meggar on these so we could fill out the paperwork with some nifty numbers.
 

Chip Chester

Diamond
Joined
Dec 13, 2007
Location
Central Ohio USA
Georti,

It's too bad your all the way on the left coast. I have an residential elevator drive unit, removed working, that is somewhat cluttering up my life. Worm drive, tension switches, motor, etc. from a 3-story residential unit from the 60's. It's nice and heavy. Let me know if yours doesn't come back to life, and we can dig into more specifics if needed.
 

dalmatiangirl61

Titanium
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Location
BFE Nevada/San Marcos Tx
You are the type of neighbor it is good to have- willing to help and deal with a problem.

If this elevator is used for goods- follow the above advise.

If the elevator is used by people who actually need an elevator...well lets just make that people...
have someone experienced in working on elevators address the problems. Elevators do fail and leave people stuck in them. That motor and gearbox will need to function for ??? years in the future. Not worth taking any chances with.

Chances are you could fix it and it would work but there is always that chance. You will know that chance is there and it will be there in the back of your mind.

Instead of fixing the elevator, suggest to the neighbor that they have the mechanism raised above any probable flood height,if possible. Help them with whatever is needed to deal with future flooding.

At the very least have an elevator tech inspect the system after you flush things out. One of my neighbors had her son inlaw build/install an elevator, lets just say he skipped some safety features, it got stuck in up drive, snapped cable and dropped her 2 stories, broke both her ankles and a few more assorted injuries. If not for the inlaw status he would have been sued into oblivion.
 

Just a Sparky

Hot Rolled
Joined
May 2, 2020
Call a state licensed elevator tech and have it inspected before putting it back into service. Too many things that can go wrong with electrical installations when they get wet. Transfer the liability for a contaminated circuit board, corroded terminal, bad GFI, etc. onto someone else.
 

GeorgiSpelvanic

Plastic
Joined
Dec 6, 2021
Thanks to all for the replies. I do appreciate them.

I got it flushed and dry...but now it does not run. I got it into the down position but it won't move now. In fact it no longer even clicks to close the connections. I think a fuse got tripped.

Gotta call a tech...which I should have done in the beginning...but that gearbox looked so easy to deal with.

I will have the tech raise the whole thing up about 3 feet to protect in future.

BTW, we discovered the cause of the flood: The guy putting in a new security system needed an outlet. He unplugged the sump pump and forgot to plug it back in.

I don't know if there is a "Bonehead Of The Year" award but I have a candidate. In addition to pharquing the elevator the humidity has warped the hardwood floors, swollen the doors and windows, and let mildew get established on every...single...surface. You can smell it as soon as you get on the porch.

This is a beautiful, historic home from 1860 in NY State. Its a brick Italianate Victorian. The Italian marble fireplaces likely cost more than most homes in the area. Such a shame.

Last note: The owner was an avid duck hunter. As I was wading through the basement with my headlamp some of the decoys got loose from the racks and were floating from room to room. My glasses were steamed up, my headlamp only lit up the immediate area, and out of the corner of my eye I saw what I believed to be three raccoons (goose decoys) coming at me. I will fight a single raccoon on dry land...but my brain instantly did all the math of three raccoons in hip deep water and my sphincter snapped shut so fast you could hear it from across the street.

Yeah its funny now, but not then.
 

1yesca

Stainless
Joined
Jun 1, 2004
" The collective knowledge of this forum never ceases to amaze me. " no. 1 best statement ever ! brain trust 101 lets stop see phantoms were there are none . you have already drained the oil from the gear box good boy now put some atf in there run it up and down a time or two [and don't worry about the motor at this point you all ready know it works and its not going to blow the house up ]drain the atf out put your 85w gear oil in and be done with the gear box now on to the motor mark were the wires go and were it sets in it mount remove motor mark end caps remove end caps blow out motor with air remove the two bearings from the end shafts install new bearings put motor back together and reinstall and wire it up and your done the only other thing would be is the cart how is it moved up and down by cable or chain ? and the pulleys or sprockets that they are mounted on were any of them under water you may cheek them out to see if the bearings are sealed or shielded or if they have a grease fitting . and after your done and its all working just fine you mite ask the owner to call someone out to give it its every 50 year cheek up and keep your mouth shut about working on it they don't need to know that . so that way if it skips a beat going down and granny's poop bag pops off your not on the hook for the clean up
 








 
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