If ironers in Atlantic Canada could talk, what stories they could tell. They might tell of how they were ‘put back together again’, just like Humpty Dumpty.
For Peter Blunden, owner of East Coast Laundry, selling the ironers, plus other equipment for a laundry at the Delta Barrington in Halifax and revitalization a smaller plant at the Delta Frederiction, was only the beginning.
The First Challenge
Delta Hotels in Halifax wanted to reopen an old laundry in the basement of the Delta Barrington. This is housed in a 150- year-old historic building renovated into a hotel, while maintaining its original exterior facade. This laundry was to serve both the Delta Barrington and the Delta Halifax directly across the street. Combined, the two hotels total 500 rooms.
“Originally there was a laundry in the basement of the Delta Barrington for both hotels but it was closed some years ago,” said Blunden. “We were invited to prepare a proposal to rebuild the laundry where the old laundry used to be.”
First, the old equipment was removed. The ironer was cut up, and the washers and dryers were dismantled and taken out through the elevator in pieces.
That was relatively easy compared to the job ahead. It appeared as though the building was erected around the laundry without consideration of how to get equipment in and out.
“The Delta Barrington is a heritage property and we had to be careful not to damage too much of the historic face of the building,” continued Blunden. “We had to lower the equipment down into a basement laundry. We had to remove the stairway, take out a wall, enlarge the doors and slide the equipment down a ramp that we engineered to safely control the lowering.
“We built a steel beam ramp and a sled to attach the equipment to, and brought it into the laundry piece by piece from a tilt-load truck. We had to calculate the exact size of the equipment and the size of the openings, as well as providing the equipment to meet their product ion requirements.”
Blunden installed a Chicago CrosStar combination ironer/folder/crossfolder/stacker with a 36-inch diameter cylinder into the building, plus an OPL feeder for sheets.
This laundry had to be able to process 5,400 pounds per day, 1.4 million pounds annually. “This ironer could do the job, but it was far too big to fit through the opening in the wall of the building,” said Blunden. “We had to get the manufacturer, Chicago, to assemble and test the ironer, then disassemble at the factory and ship to us in pieces.
Also installed were three 160-lb and two 60-lb Milnor washer/extractors. Dryers were Huebsch, two 170-lb and two 75-lb. A multi-piece towel folder by Air Chicago plus an Energenics lint filter completed the laundry. “We basically shoehorned equipment into a basement location with no access point on the ground floor,” commented Blunden.
“We brought it into the building in pieces. Before doing that we had to take a forklift apart and lower it down in pieces and reassemble it, before lowering the ironer pieces down. It was in about 30 to 40 pieces – including eight major components, 15 smaller ones and the hardware to connect them. Our crew assembled it. They are quite experienced at servicing this type of equipment. But we hired a Chicago factory technician to work with us for a week.”
After eight weeks of knocking out walls, rewiring by electricians and engineers designing new ventilation and piping, the Delta Barrington’s new laundry became operational in May 2011. Installing the equipment took four weeks of that time.
“IN FREDERICTON, WE WERE 20 FEET IN THE AIR; IN HALIFAX, 20 FEET INTO THE BASEMENT.”
THE SECOND CHALLENGE
The Delta Fredericton, a hotel with 220 rooms, had an existing laundry processing 700,000 pounds of linen annually using outdated equipment. “The ironer was grossly undersized – processing took far too long, the washers needed replacing and the dryers were inefficient as well,” said Blunden.
Problem was, the laundry was on the second floor with difficult access.
East Coast was able to install a new 100-lb Milnor washer/extractor with softmount suspension in one piece because it fit into the elevator and the hallways.
Similarly, two new Milnor 120- lb natural gas dryers came in via the elevator. But the tops had to be taken off the new dryers to make the trip by elevator. However, there was no way the new ironer, a Chicago TriStar with folder/crossfolder/stacker – and a 24-inch diameter cylinder,would fit into the elevator.
“We had to take out a window in the second storey of the building and remove some of the concrete block to enlarge the opening. Then we had to build a scaffolding platform with grid work that would be strong enough to hold the weight of this equipment. We lifted the ironer up using a crane, lowered it onto the scaffolding and slid it through the opening in the wall.”
This ironer was hoisted up in two pieces – the ironer itself and the stacker, which was attached to the side of the ironer inside the building. Once the ironer was installed, “we put in a new window and closed the wall just like it never happened. The new laundry became operational in November 2011.”
BLUNDEN’S ADVICE TO BUILDERS
“Equipment doesn’t last forever. Although a lot of it is very good and lasts 15 to 20 years, it eventually has to be replaced, and there’s often no provision for access. Quite often it appears that laundries are located wherever there’s space. Sometimes the laundry is put in odd places because when buildings are designed, the architects aren’t aware of the dynamic force that is put on the floor due to the action of extraction. Often buildings are built around the laundry, with no thought of how to get the equipment out.” But for Blunden, overcoming the challenges of installing new equipment into old buildings or at odd locations is all in a day’s work.
-This article was written in July/August 2012 Fabricare Canada Magazine by Wilma Blokhuis