How to Build an Escalator

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Let's learn the basics of building an escalator for an airport or a department store, etc.

Things You'll Need

  • Drive gear
  • Electric motor
  • Inner rail
  • Return rail
  • Chain guide
  • Hand rail
  • Hand rail drive
  • Steps

Find a Place for the Escalator.

  • Escalators can transfer more people up shorter distances. It wouldn't make much sense to have an escalator based at the bottom of the Sears Tower go up 100 stories.

  • Extra room is always figured into original building plans.

  • You need enough room for the drive gear and electric motor at the top of where the escalator will be placed, and a return wheel gear at the bottom. Escalator steps usually aren't less than 3 feet wide.

Putting it All Together

  • The electric motor moves the drive gear, which in turns moves the rest of the machine. A belt from the motor to the drive gear is of upmost importance. Without the belt, nothing else would work.

  • Two belt rails must be looped around both the drive gear and the return gear. They must be able to hold all the steps. It works like a train. The steps are placed on the rails and follow them around from top to bottom. A chain is put through the steps to help guide them along the rails.

  • Rails must be placed so that the steps will remain level for passengers. This can be done by using triangle shaped steps. At the bottom and top of the escalator ,the rails must be placed so the steps level off to make it easier for the passenger to enter and exit the escalator.

The Handrail

  • All escalators must have a handrail for safety, which can be installed easily. It uses the same drive gear as the escalator itself, so the handrail and steps travel at the same speed.

  • You will need a handrail drive. A belt needs to be looped from the handrail drive to the gear drive. Another belt will go along the handrail drive. This is the actual handrail. They need to be large enough for a passenger to grip the entire way up.

  • The handrail also needs to be along a track parallel with the steps. It's usually put on a wall next to the steps, high enough so that passengers are comfortable holding on to it.

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