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Hydraulic Rod Locks Assist On Movable Pool Bottom Project

Aquatic Development Group uses specially modified Amlok® product from Advanced Machine & Engineering to protect movable pool floor stability at Ithaca College

AFW™ pool raising and lowering system, designed by Aquatic Development Group, operates on a series of hydraulic rams connected by a rebar structure, to evenly and smoothly raise and lower the pool floor. Especially useful when floor is occupied by aquatic therapy patients or water aerobic participants.

Aquatic Development Group (ADG) of Cohoes, New York is a professional design, manufacturing and construction firm serving the waterpark, resort, hotel aquarium, aquatic therapy and commercial/institutional swimming pool markets.  The company’s recreational aquatic creations range from Disney to the Wisconsin Dells, plus a diverse group of institutional and physical therapy applications are included in the company’s successes.   Among ADG’s many unique designs is the AFW™ movable pool floor system that allows depth adjustment from deck level down to deeper water for various uses, including physically-challenged patient aquatic therapy.  The system is also used routinely in pools adapted for competitive swimming, diving, water polo and other activities, where the depth adjustment is beneficial and allows more multi-purpose use of a facility.

At the touch of a button on the master control module, the pool floor is raised and lowered by a system of synchronized multiple hydraulic cylinders that work to maintain consistent floor level throughout the process. ADG determined it was necessary to include a mechanical locking system that would secure the cylinder rods in position, at all points of travel, especially when the floor was occupied by physical therapy patients, water aerobics participants etc. The floor also featured a passive mechanical pulley system to maintain the floor position in the event of a catastrophic hydraulic failure.

…and then lowered smoothly into position for therapy with minimal patient upset.

Used for aquatic therapy, the pool floor can be position at deck level…

On a recent project using this system at Ithaca College (Ithaca, New York), as ADG Engineering Manager Rob Schiavi details, “We had a four-cylinder ram system with a rebar structure that was designed so that any two diagonally opposed cylinders could malfunction without compromising the stability or safety of the floor and its occupants.” He also notes that the company had developed a special 304L stainless steel and non-skid, chemically-impervious PVC floor grating that was considerably lighter weight but somewhat less stable than conventional concrete pool flooring.

Illustration of pool bottom showing AFW™ design of stainless steel and non-skid PVC flooring.

The hydraulic circuits operate on a shuttle valve system with passive engage ram failure. Eliminating the mechanical pulley system on the design results in a smoother transitioning of the pool floor level, particularly important when people are present, Schiavi notes.

In designing the hydraulic ram system and in search of an appropriate cylinder locking protection system, ADG turned to its local subcontractor, who recommended the Amlok® system of hydraulic cylinder rod locks from Advanced Machine & Engineering (Rockford, Illinois), a longtime supplier of hydraulic and pneumatic rod locks to industrial and commercial applications worldwide. AME Business Development Manager Ken Davis explains, “We saw this project as an ideal application for our hydraulic rod locks, with one particular challenge, namely, the ingestion of chlorinated pool water.” To overcome this challenge, a modification was made to the seal design and materials on the four stainless steel rod locks to be installed on the ram system built by ADG’s subcontractor (click here for ram system specs). Each lock has the capacity to provide a locking force to 50,000 lbs. at 1500 psi release pressure (click here for locking force specs).

RCH Series Amlok® hydraulic rod locks hold cylinders in place and automatically seize cylinders in position, in the event of a catastrophic power loss.

During normal operation, the hydraulic rod locks used on this application (RCH Series) allow free movement of the cylinder through the lock housing, as the supplied hydraulic pressure maintains an open position on the lock. When the desired pool floor level is achieved, the hydraulic pressure is removed and the cylinder is mechanically locked into position. However, in the event of a catastrophic power loss or other hydraulic system failure, when the pressure is removed, the lock immediately clamps to retain the cylinder securely in its present position until power is restored and the lock release is again activated.

AME worked closely with its local distributor, Airline Hydraulics Corp. (Bensalem, Pennsylvania) to supply this system to ADG.

For more information on this story, please contact:

Rob Schiavi, Engineering Manager
Aquatic Development Group
13 Green Mountain Drive
Cohoes, NY 12047
Phone: 518-783-0038
Web: www.aquaticgroup.com


Ken Davis, Business Development Manager
2500 Latham St.
Rockford, IL 61103
Phone: 815-316-5277
Fax: 815-962-6483W
E-mail: info@ame.com
Web: www.ame.com
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