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I am looking to build a specific kind of lift for a project I'm working on but I don't know the name. I am willing to hire a mechanical engineer to help me design and build it (or buy one if it already exists) but I'd like to do as much research as possible before deciding on the next steps.

What I have in mind is like a ferris wheel, save that it is shaped more like a stretched rubber band than a circle (i.e. it has vertical sides and a short circular path at the top and bottom). Instead of carts that people sit in I'd just like a flat steel floor, say 4'x8', for loading cargo.

Using a switch I'd like the flat "carts" to move into a loading space, load from the front, then be sent up to make room for the next cart. Maximum load should be about 1,000lbs per cart.

What is this type of device called? I know similar things have been built for parking cars, but I don't want something quite so large and I'm interested in storing smaller things than cars.

I'm sorry if this isn't more descriptive, please ask if I can clarify anything and I'll be happy to.

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  • $\begingroup$ Pictures always help with questions such as yours - even it's just a sketch. I'm assuming the quasi-elliptical loop (long straights with semicircular ends) you are proposing will be stationary & the "flat carts" move around the loop. How will the carts move around the loop - a rack & pinion system with individual motors for each cart or some other means? $\endgroup$ – Fred Aug 2 '16 at 14:21
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At the scale you describe (8'x4') this would be similar to a Paternoster, except that it would need to stop to load and unload the carts. Paternosters (and bucket elevators) move continuously.

Health and Safety regulations have closed down most of them (especially those that can be used by the general public) because of the risk of accidents when entering or leaving. YouTube has some videos, including what happens when you ride around the top or the bottom - which is designed to be safe.

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You probably mean a Bucket Elevator. They come in several types some of which fulfill your need.

The image in wikipedia is one shaped more like a escalator but there are more vertical bucket elevators. Bucket elevators have many uses from water filtration to grain transport.

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  • $\begingroup$ A ferris-wheel seems like a great example of a bucket elevator, so perhaps the title of the question is misleading. A paternoster is closer to what I was looking for but had never heard of it. $\endgroup$ – par Aug 2 '16 at 23:09

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