Friday, December 19, 2014

Update 12-19

New and Good Results in the Black Chair Arena

Two weeks ago I told you how bad the situation was, then last week I said were making progress.  Thursday we drove up to Montpelier and presented progress that has been made on both the rub rail and the developed action list targeting the remaining issues. The final part of presentation addressed the next steps.  I said Magic would (1) complete the ‘action list’; (2) continue the daily and biweekly inspections that were done last year.  I went on to recommend that (3) the Tramway Board revoke their January order and (4) revert to the mode where their lift inspector in in control over when the lift is ready to operate.  Our lift Inspector agreed, on condition that our Professional Engineer inspects and approves of the work that completes the Action List.  Given those conditions the Vermont 

Tramway Board of Directors voted to revoke the Jan 17th order. That for us is a big deal.  We were in the situation where we could do all the work and still not have a Black Lift.  Today’s vote means that if we do the work the lift will be approved for future usage.  There was limited talk about replacing the Black Lift; we want to do that if it can be made affordable, but no commitments were made.  I know we can do the required work by the end of January, and possible two weeks earlier if we can just fund the required staff to do the work.  That effort is being currently addressed. 

         Our Operations Manager, Travis Richmond, and Professional Engineer, Ross Stevens, both attended the board meeting and directly answered questions when they were asked.  Their assistance made this vote happen as they could and did answer every question raised.  We all owe them a thank you.


Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12, 2014

Last week I wrote ‘blog’ updates on season ticket sales and the status of the Black Lift.  Both were distributed to the e-mail lists but only the season pass note was put up on the blog.  First I want to report that we had a very positive response to our season pass note.  We restarted the season pass sales on the Magic Online Store.  Thank you if you bought and if you want to buy but have never use the Magic Online Store try it out, it’s all self-explanatory.   Go to the bottom of the and click on the “VISIT THE MAGIC STORE”.  You will then be on a page where we collect your name and address data and then you move on to selecting your ticket(s). Then it’s off to completing the order.  Enter your credit card and go to ‘Complete the Order’.  It’s very self-explanatory.  Two days later your money will be out on the slopes preparing everything for Christmas.  Again ‘thank you’ to all that are helping.

I don’t want to repeat the Black Lift Status Detail that was in last week’s e-mail but I will summarize:
1.      Last Jan 17th the VT Tramway Board ordered that a problem with the Black Chair be fixed and requiring a special daily and weekly inspection and test procedure to be used if the lift was to be used last year.
2.      This July we employed a Professional Engineer that specializes in ski lifts to determine the problem cause.  We found the problem was the way the chairs banged against the rub rail as it went around the bottom bull wheel.
3.      In Sept we applied to the VT Tramway Division Board of Directors for a “Variance” on the January order.  The application was tabled until the Board could meet with all expert parties.  At the follow up board meeting we volunteered to fix the rub rail and then determine if the experts agreed it was a fixed --if so the board would take the Variance off the table for a vote.
4.      On 12/1/14 the lift inspector and the PE rode the lift and climbed all over the drive train.  It was determined that the path we were taking to fix the ‘rub rail’ was correct and if we just took one more step the original ‘Banging Problem’ will be resolved.  A new problem ’Limited ‘Chair Swing’ was added to the list.   But the good news was – both the Lift Inspector and the PE agree that if we are working through the 10 point Action Plan they presented, the Tramway Board will probably approve the “Variance” conditioned on completing the list to the Inspectors satisfaction.  We will be back in the mode of getting the normal seasonal lift inspection.  (Most of the items on the action list are things we have to do every year to get the lift inspected.)

I don’t want to make this long enough to include the action list but the key points are: (1) Finish adding adjustment capability to the Rub Rail, (2) Replace the two bearings between the chair and the grip, (3) Add grease fittings to the chair hanger head.
Matt Cote and Travis have been working the rub rail problem and Matt has a design that will fully satisfy the requirement.  

The lift inspector asked that we replace the greaseless polyimide type sleeve bushings with a ‘Glassier’ type bearing.  I have contacted GGB Bearing and they recommended a particular bearing number.  We are currently working the details of the order to reduce the lead time.  The initial quote said lead time would be 4 to 6 weeks and I’m attempting to get a commitment for 3 to 4 weeks lead time.  We will use the lead time to develop and manufacture a tool to easily push out the existing bearings and replace it with the new bearings.

We will start in advance of getting the bearings by installing a grease fitting on each chair.  Prior to the lift being converted to a triple it had a grease fitting but it was on the top and would have interfered with the bull wheel modifications.  They addressed that problem by removing it and converting to the polyimide grease-less bearings.  However, they neglected the fact that grease must feed the side surfaces.  Hence the chairs are binding rather than swinging.  We will plug the original hole and add a new threaded hole and fitting on the back of the chair head.

Several of the tasks on the action list are already complete.  For example, an unusual noise was detected in the top bull wheel.  We investigated and the lower bearing housing was full of ice.  It took a bit of effort to drag scaffolding and ladders to the top but once there the fix was easy.  The requirement to change two sheaves going into the Bull Wheel was equally easy to complete.  We calculated the required chair gripping force on 12/1 and the next step, experimentally determining the corresponding gas pressure for slip testing, will require only an hour or two.

In summary I expect that we can have the upgrade done by Feb 1st although that completion date is dependent upon an expedited delivery of the bushings for the chairs.
We did get a lot of snow this week.  On my deck there was still 6” of crust that I had not gotten around to shoveling. Then there was about 12” more, then rain that shrank it to 8”.  But Wednesday night we had another foot.  Based on trying to shovel it I will tell you that it should make a fine base.  But along with the snow we had a 22 hour blackout and lost a full day’s work.  We are targeting to open on 12/20.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Update from Tom

As is normal for November in Londonderry, we are getting natural snow storms soon followed by warm rainy days that melt all the snow.  The surrounding areas are well into their snowmaking cycle and according to the local papers had even started skiing and riding before the Thanksgiving weekend melt.  It is true that manmade snow is denser and survives a melt better than natural snow, but that said this year Magic Mountain is very short on funds and we could not have afforded even a limited loss.  Since we had not turned on our guns we watched none of our limited money turn into mud.  Another year I very much hope that base area snowmaking can start prior to Thanksgiving thereby having something for us to use on that weekend.

The mountain is looking very ready for winter.  Because the trails are all mowed, it now takes little snow to cover the short grass and the little bit of natural snow we had did make the trails look white.  The folks that hiked up and skied down reported a smooth ride down with no grass sticking up through the snow to help them estimate snow depth.

 I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat, early season pass revenue plays the major role in funding pre-opening snowmaking.  Throughout the note I’ve used the ‘we’ word meaning it to include myself, the mountain staff and you the customers.  Magic is special in that its customers are every bit as interested and invested as are other mountain’s investors. As such you deserve and will get the level of detail that other mountains might reserve for the “insiders”.

 A lot of this year’s season ticket revenue (that sold between March and July) was spent cleaning up costs for last year’s operations.  That cleanup was necessitated by the extensive high interest rate loans taken out in the fall for mountain opening.   We are not doing that this year.  But if we are not going to take out loans for opening and I’ve invested all I can afford then snowmaking will depends upon how fast we can sell season passes.  Comparing ticket sales this year with last year it seems that many are either not going to buy season passes or are putting off the purchase until Christmas week.  If that is what customers are planning then we will have to be slow starting snowmaking. It might not be important, huge natural snowfalls could get us open without snow making, but all should recognize the risk that entails.  Even with huge natural snowfalls between now and Christmas a bit of ‘buy season passes now’ would do wonders for fixing the Black Chair and getting compressors on order for west side snowmaking.  If you are planning to arrive Christmas week and then buy your tickets and you can possibly buy sooner please do, you will be investing in December snowmaking and enhancing your Christmas week skiing and riding.

Tom B

Monday, May 5, 2014

Do You Remember?

You all certainly made us smile amnd happy...

Hope you enjoy a little season-ending video from 2013-14.

See you back here before you know it!

* New FREE Magic Twenties Card and College Card is here *

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Triple A-Rated Passes to the Road Less Traveled

Authentic, Affordable, Adventure...

Those are three pretty good reasons to get a Magic Mountain Ski Area Season Pass. Oh, and there are plenty of others, starting with all the other people who are currently season pass holders here.

They are one of the first things you notice about Magic even before you get on the lift. There's no pretense with these folks. They are here to ski, ride and have a good time. No attitude because it's all about the altitude.

But then the next thing you notice is the mountain itself. She's a challenge no doubt! But she has a softer side too, and the combination makes her about the most interesting thing to get to know in New England. Generations have skied here and they never lose interest. In fact, they keep discovering something new in the twists, turns and secrets that Magic keeps revealing to those with an adventurous spirit.

Probably the least important of the three "A's" is cost. But families raise their kids up here on this mountain and we know skiing can be very expensive sport. So, affordability is indeed an important part of who we are. As the industry focuses more and more on the luxury market, Magic will try to keep it as real as possible for those less interested in impressing others and more interested in sharing something special together.

So if Magic seems like a place that fits who you are inside, we'll try to show you a good time outside all season long with one of these:

As you already know, the earlier you buy, the more you can save. But whenever you do buy a pass at Magic, you'll know you are saving hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars compared to other resorts. And, your money goes straight into upkeep and preparation for the new season (certainly not any corporate overhead!). We like to say that the more beer you buy at the Black Line Tavern, the more snow we can make. It's supposed to be funny, but in reality, most everything which creates revenue goes straight back into the hill. It's a big reason why our community of skiers and riders is so critical.

So we thank you in advance for your season pass purchase. Because it really does keep our "Triple A" rating going strong here on the road less traveled.


(And, if you are a college student or someone in your 20s just starting out and can't afford a season-long pass, we have two new cards which are easy ways to save any time you come to Magic. No upfront cost, no long-term commitments, just the freedom, flexibility and savings to explore here and other ski areas of interest until you're ready to make your winter home somewhere. Check out our new free College Card and Twenties Card here now.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Yeah, April Fools!

See you Thursday for the last Throwback of the Season!

$15 tickets, one last time...come throw it back.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Spring Pass!

With the official start of Spring Skiing and Riding here on March 20th, Magic still has at least 3 weeks left in the 2013-14 season with a tentative closing date of April 6th. So it's a great time to offer our new "Spring 3 Pass" that lets skiers and riders can enjoy as many days as we have left for one low price of $89!.

The Spring 3 Pass will also offer discounts to early purchasers so if you grab it soon enough (like today), you might be able to get the pass for $79 or $84. The pass is pretty simple as it's only available online and you simply use the receipt to hit up the ticket booth every time you come for your complimentary tickets. Easy. and the cost is already less than many major resorts charge for one day.

There is still plenty of snow around with over 40 trails and glades open, so we recommend keeping the fishing rod, golf club, softball bat or tennis racquet in the closet for at least 3 more weeks!

The Magic Spring 3 Pass is available at the Magic Store right now...

Just another way we're trying to give you more options to keep skiing and riding more affordable for every one.

 Magic Store