Author: Dave Carmack

Dave is a Product Trainer for our CM Entertainment Division. Other credentials include being an ETCP Recognized Trainer & IATSE TTF Recommended Trainer.
CM-Entertainment Mega School now 10 day Event

CM-Entertainment Mega School now 10 day Event

CM-Entertainment Mega School Each year Columbus McKinnon hosts a 5-day CM-Entertainment Mega School, to train up new entertainment riggers.

This year’s mega school, held in Orlando, Florida, was extended from the normal 5 days to a 10-day event. This one-of-a-kind class combined our 5-day Mega School with a 5-day Rope Access Certification course giving participants the chance to earn a total of 36 ETCP credits. It’s the ultimate entertainment rigger training!

Here are some of the highlights:

Part 1 of CM-Entertainment Mega School covers all aspects of hoist maintenance and troubleshooting.

CM-Entertainment Mega SchoolThe first half of this ETCP-recognized training course covered the design and operation of hoists, maintenance needs, inspection requirements and troubleshooting procedures. It also delved deep into electrical theory and troubleshooting of the CM Lodestar and CM Prostar hoists.

Participants received 12 points towards their ETCP Certification renewal. Upon passing, participants will receive a CM-ET certification card and document, both of which are good for five years.

The instructors this year were Eric Rouse who taught the entertainment rigging and myself, who taught the motors class.

Part 2 of our CM-Entertainment Mega School explores rigging terminology, equipment and entertainment concepts.

CM-Entertainment Mega School
The second part of our school was an intense exploration of rigging terminology, equipment and concepts for the entertainment industry. This year we partnered up with a company named HARP Rigging.  Nick Fleming from HARP, taught a level 1 SPRAT Class.  David Brown taught fall protection awareness, while Will Todd taught Truss Design and Theory.

The Rope Access Certification Course was a 5-day course consisting of four days of training and one day of evaluation.  This class encompasses everything a prospective student needs to understand and demonstrate to achieve rope access certification –   ranging from understanding anchors to performing a rescue of your fellow technician. Participants in this course received 24 points towards their ETCP Certification renewal.

Are you interested in next year’s Mega School? If so, please check our training site for updates on our next CM-Entertainment Ultimate Mega School or feel free to contact me directly.

Our Answer to this Week’s Post, “What’s wrong with this Entertainment Application?”

Our Answer to this Week’s Post, “What’s wrong with this Entertainment Application?”

Dave Carmack 8-28-12

Thank you, Tim & Harris, for your comments. We also received interesting insights on our Facebook page. You know your rigging!  Here is my take on this application:

This is a wire rope support grid. These 1 foot squares allow a rigger to quickly position light loads in specific spots by dropping in a rope through the appropriate square. The anchor point is fixed up above the structure. Notice the strap in the background.

Let’s now address the problems:

  • The thing that jumped out  most to me was the construction of the grid.  The wire ropes must be woven or knitted together.  These were not.  Each overlap should alternate over and under.  This installation has all the ropes in the same direction and on the same side.  The weaving should run in the x and y directions.
  • U-bolts are used to connect each overlap. Since the grid installation itself is wrong, U-bolts are not an acceptable option. U-bolts are typically used for light weight or minor connections such as conduit to a pole. I do not think that you could get the clamping force needed using U-bolts to keep the wire rope cables from slipping under a side force. Wire rope clamps are designed for use with cables.
  • A few of you observed the missing nut on one of the U-bolt assemblies. Nice catch.

When a wire rope support grid is assembled correctly, it transfers the stresses.  When the grid is assembled like in this application, the neighboring ropes are not supporting anything, which can lead to very unfavorable consequences.

We are passionate about education and training.  If you would like to tap into training opportunities in the entertainment field, click here to see our schedule.

Thank you again to everyone who submitted comments. We love to hear from you!  Do you have an application you would like us to review?



The Answer to this Week’s Maintenance Challenge: How many things can you find wrong with this picture?

The Answer to this Week’s Maintenance Challenge: How many things can you find wrong with this picture?

photo_with answers -2

Thanks to everyone who submitted comments! We added them under the original post. If you have any questions about any of the above notations, please send an e-mail to and we will address them for you.  We are very sorry that our “comment” field wasn’t functioning this week. We are working to resolve the issue.

A quick note about my comment “wrong chain.”  CM Hoist Chain is specifically calibrated to fit the lift wheel.   Using another manufacturer’s chain can severely damage the unit.

If you want to learn more about hoist maintenance and inspection, check out our training site for programs that might interest you.

Maintenance Challenge: How many things can you find wrong with this picture?

Maintenance Challenge: How many things can you find wrong with this picture?

11-11-11 What is wrong

Since our comment box isn’t working (thanks for your patience!),  please send your ideas to and we will post them below as they come in.

Otherwise check in on Friday for the answer!

Response #1:  The most noticeable defect is that the chain guide is worn considerably on one side which suggests side loading and it has worn so extremely that it is eating its way through the casing. There is also a hole in the casing on the opposite side and the chain looks like it hasn’t been lubricated in a while.

A. Davis

Response #2: I found these 4 things on the picture:

  • Chain seems dry (no lubrication)
  • Chain is not star marked but made by RUD
  • Housing is broken
  • Chain guide is worn on the loose end of the chain, housing worn on the same place (Why on that side? How and why made the chain that hole? Is it because the free chain wasn’t long enough (less than 24 inches) and the short chain blocked and closed up?)

T. Gergerly

Response #3:  Well let’s start with the obvious problems and work things out from there. 

1.        End user has been operating the hoist in a manner in which that it appears that a severe side load has been applied for long periods of time. 

2.       There is extensive damage to the chain guide and hoist housing.   Looking at the lack of damage to the chain compared to the damage to the hoist body, this chain is fairly new.    I see a 3 digit date code on the chain, but I cannot see the star code.  At this time I am going to assume that it is there and this is a proper loadstar chain.  This is something that I would check though.  The load chain is dry – no lubrication on it at all.  You can see the starting of corrosion building up on some of the links.  

3.       If you look in the upper right hand corner of the picture you see what appears to be a hammer link inside of the load chain run.  Splicing two load chains together.  One appears to be smaller but that may be a trick of the optics from the picture.  They definitely are two different load chains though.

4.       I would question the lift wheel.  I would be very surprised if it has not sustained damage from this event. Also the loadstar protector. 

In conclusion with the scaring on the other side of the case and the fact that this is on the dead leg side and not the working side of the hoist, keeping in mind that with the entertainment hoist they do use the dead end as a load side upon occasion.   I am going to say that use of the hammer link(whatever it is) in the chain path is what caused the damage to the hoist.  The lower limit was not set to keep it from “tube” locking on the frame of the hoist. 

L. Collobert

Entertainment Technology and the Business of the Arts

Entertainment Technology and the Business of the Arts

Business of the Arts

In today’s challenging economy where competition is fierce in almost every market, it is important to concentrate efforts in areas that some observers may classify as “non-traditional.” One of these areas is the business of the Arts. By continuing to stay on the cutting edge of entertainment technology, and with hard work and innovation, we are striving to satisfy the wide-ranging needs of the Arts industry.

The Entertainment Innovation Conference began three years ago by bringing together major players in the Arts business. Through the efforts of Cirque du Soleil, Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, University of North Carolina School for the Arts (UNCSA), and the Technical Partners (Stage Technologies, Coolux, Vari-lite and Meyer Sound), the conference is now a resounding success. The program, particularly due to the dedication of Cirque du Soleil and UNCSA, has raised the bar for other training programs such as USITT Elite.

For the second year, CM-ET partnered with eight other organizations in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with one goal in mind; to help to build a stronger and brighter future for participants in the entertainment industry. More than 300 participants from seven states attended the conference this year, with students arriving from as far away as Arizona. Students were taught subjects ranging from Stage Management to Hoist Repair, Stage and Sound Design, Props and Rigging to proper use of all equipment from a professional and practical point of view.

“This is a big deal in higher education” said Joe Tilford, the Dean of UNCSA’s School of Design and Production. “This is like MIT partnering with some big technology group. This is a game-changer in higher education and the entertainment field.”

“Our students have an amazing level of dedication. When you have 50 freshmen who have already confirmed a major, that’s just amazing,” says Dennis Booth, Assistant Dean – Scenic Technology Faculty. “On top of that we have a graduation to employment ratio of 98.9%.”

Jonathan Robertson, a freshman at UNCSA says, “This is great! Nowhere else will you ever be exposed to the variety of talent and professionalism that we are experiencing this weekend. What I am taking away is priceless.”

No other industry is willing to share like the Arts. It is not a job, it is a passion.

Bridget Van Dyke, third year student at UNCSA says, “This is a valuable educational opportunity for students from UNCSA and around the Southeast. Hands-on workshops covering all aspects of the entertainment industry give us practical opportunities to apply classroom knowledge alongside industry professionals.

Year after year I am amazed by the energy the presenters bring! UNCSA students are known for being passionate and driven, but it’s refreshing to see how that enthusiasm is reflected in the presenters, and their eagerness to connect with the students and learn from them in return.”

Click here to learn more about CM Entertainment Technology.

When is 1 ton greater than 1 ton?

When is 1 ton greater than 1 ton?

We’ve all used chain motors and we’ve all suspended the maximum 1 ton rated loads. But do we ever really think about what happens between the 2 hooks?

If you are an operator, you have probably been trained to understand forces. A load in motion exerts greater forces than a static or non-moving load. Load position and hoisting speed affect the magnitude of these forces, which can be measured in excess of 200%. This alone should be sufficient to make us more cautious when using overhead lifting equipment.

But what if I told you the forces mentioned above are overshadowed by the force we see in the inter-link of our load chain?  The contact area where 2 links touch is only .006 inch. With a one ton static load on the hoist, pressure between links can be as high as 500,000 pounds per square inch. If this is not enough to open your eyes, think of a stage using (12) 1 ton hoists each performing a 40 foot lift. We have 6500 working links, each one subjected to 1/2 million PSI. Moving the load increases this pressure. Imagine the amount of friction and resulting heat.

Is lubrication on the load chain really necessary? Tell us what you think.

The Answer to this Week’s Maintenance Challenge: What’s wrong with this picture?

The Answer to this Week’s Maintenance Challenge: What’s wrong with this picture?


The Answer:

The brake leads are wired wrong.  The leads from each brake are tied together.  One wire from each brake should be switched on the blue wire nuts.  In other words, one wire from each brake should go to the top blue wire nut and the other wire from each brake should go to the bottom blue wire nut.

Thanks to everyone who submitted comments!