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Engineers, Manufacturers, Erectors of Aerial Tramways Since 1896

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Service Bulletins


Lift Basics







Lift Basics

The Riblet Tramway Company designs, manufactures, and installs Double, Triple, and Quad fixed-grip chairlifts. Fixed grip chairlifts have some simple relationships between capacity, chair interval, chair spacing, speed, and chair type:

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Chair interval is dependent only upon the number of passengers per chair and the capacity. For a given capacity and chair interval, a slower lift simply has the chairs more closely spaced.

The following table outlines some of the typical design parameters for a fixed-grip chairlift.

  Double Triple Quad
Capacity, ski and snowboard, pass. per hour: 800 - 1200 (1440*) 1200 - 1800 1600 - 2400
Capacity, foot passengers and tourists: 300 - 1200 600 - 1200 1000 - 1800
Speed, ski, snowboard novice, ft./min, (m./sec.) 250 - 400  (1.3 - 2.0) 250 - 375 (1.3 - 1.9) 250 - 375 (1.3-1.9)
Speed, ski, snowboard, experienced: 450 - 500  (2.3 - 2.5) 400 - 475 (2.0 - 2.4) 400 - 450 (2.0 -2.3)
Speed, foot pass. & tourists, ft./min, (m./sec.) 200 - 250  (1.0 - 1.3) 200 - 250  (1.0 - 1.3) 200 - 250  (1.0 - 1.3)

* 1440 pph. results in a chair interval of 5.0 seconds, suitable for experts only.

Given the above, here are some things to consider in choosing a new Riblet chairlift:

  • For a given capacity, speed and chair type have little effect on power requirements.
  • For a given capacity, a slower lift is more expensive than a faster one (more chairs and towers).
  • Decreasing speed and increasing chair interval make for easier loading and unloading.
  • For a given capacity, a slower lift will have more passengers on the lift at a given time, a possible advantage for some trail systems.
  • Consider slower speed for shorter hills.
  • A high capacity lift designed for skiers and snowboarders may be slowed to load and unload foot passengers.
  • If long-term reduced speed operation is planned, provisions should be made in initial design.
  • If downhill capacity is required, provisions should be made in initial design.
  • Riblet offers restraint bars for chairs as standard in Canada and in those states which require them for skiers and snowboarders, and as standard on lifts designed for foot passengers. Restraint bars are offered as an option on all other Riblet chairlifts, and are available for retrofit to existing lifts.

Click here for notes to help you to make a profile survey for a chairlift (use your browser's "Back" button to return to this page). This document is in ".pdf" format. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat reader, get it free here:

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