Slide Brook Express – Sugarbush, VT

Slide Brook is the longest chairlift in the world at just over 11,000 feet. It connects two mountains and has a net vertical rise of less than 400′.
Loading area on the Lincoln end.
Tension station at Mt. Lincoln.
This is approximately towers 30-40.
Another view of the Mt. Lincoln section.
The drive station at Mt. Ellen.
Depression towers 1 and 2.
Mt. Ellen station.
View towards Lincoln Peak at tower 8.
T4.
Drive station seen from above.
Worldbook
Doppelmayr Worldbook entry.

68 thoughts on “Slide Brook Express – Sugarbush, VT

  1. Northeast Chairlifts November 20, 2017 / 3:34 pm

    This was closed the day we went here so we had to take a shuttle.

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    • Max Hart November 20, 2017 / 5:42 pm

      The biggest problem with this lift is that there needs to be sufficient snow underneath it so that ski patrol can evacuate it should anything go wrong.

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      • Northeast Chairlifts November 20, 2017 / 6:21 pm

        Yeah. The only easy thing to do is use a passenger snowcat.

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      • Collin November 20, 2017 / 6:42 pm

        I wonder how any mountain runs lifts in the summer then if they have to have snow under it to evac. Couldn’t they use atv’s to get around if there wasn’t snow? Whiteface runs their gondola all summer and the line is really steep and hard to get to. IMO you can’t advertise it as one ski area if you have to take a bus between the sections.

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        • Teddy Hubbell December 28, 2018 / 6:12 pm

          They don’t run it in the summer. Only Super Bravo.

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      • Collin November 20, 2017 / 6:50 pm

        In my opinion saying they need snow under the lift to do an evac is an excuse for not running it to save money. Would’ve edited this into my previous comment but there’s no way to edit or delete comments.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Teddy December 20, 2018 / 6:21 am

          It is only because of evacuation not money. Sugarbush would be in big trouble if they couldn’t evacuate the lift. Vermont law says so.

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      • Max Hart November 20, 2017 / 6:51 pm

        The problem with Slide Brook is that it spends 11000 feet in no-mand’s land. If there was developed terrain that is easily accessible via snowcat or ATV, then the “must have sufficient snow below the lift line for evacuations” rule probably doesn’t apply. I have never ridden White Face’s Gondola, but do you know if it has some kind of special evacuation system? Red Pine at Park City has Poma’s Poma-Bus evacuation system for this purpose (to my understanding). I’m not sure if the “must have sufficient snow below the lift line for evacuations” applies to Whiteface’s Gondola, or if it is just a rule unique to Sugarbush and the Slide Brook Express due to its remoteness.

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      • Collin November 20, 2017 / 7:08 pm

        Look up the lift on New England Ski History and you’ll see multiple pics dated 2004 showing the lift open with zero snow underneath on the south facing sections of the line. Clearly wasn’t an issue then, so unless some regulation changed, the reason they are telling you it doesn’t open and the actual reason it doesn’t open are different.

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      • Max Hart March 19, 2018 / 4:38 pm

        From Remontees-Mecaniques: “The Slide Brook Express is theoretically open seven days a week. However, it is the most often closed ski area device as there are many opening restrictions due to the length of the facility and the constraints to it. vertical evacuation. Thus, the device is not open in case of bad weather, or in case of too windy day and also too cold, or in case of low snow because the evacuation is provided only with snowy ground. Note that regardless of whether or not the connection is operational, shuttles connect both sides of the ski area.”

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      • Collin March 19, 2018 / 7:29 pm

        They’re just regurgitating what marketing/PR tells people. The whole snow requirement might be a more recent thing as there are multiple pictures on the internet of that lift running without snow underneath it. Even if all that stuff is true with the weather related restrictions, it doesn’t change the fact that Sugarbush is too cheap to run their own shuttle between the base areas and instead just refers you to the local public bus that only runs once every hour and makes dozens of stops between the base areas and takes well over half an hour to complete the trip. If you drive yourself over you’d lose your parking spot which could be a big deal if you got there early on a busy day. They just don’t think they need to run it or provide a good alternative because many people just ski one side or the other on a given day and don’t go between. I really want to get to Sugarbush, but I don’t plan on doing that unless this lift is open and connecting the two mountains.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin Ratcliffe November 6, 2020 / 2:13 pm

      You are right Had the privilege of working on this huge project We spliced the rope one day and had to start rigging the next day to re splice
      We went back to tension and re splice the week before Martin Luther King weekend then did it in the spring!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Teddy's Lift World January 15, 2019 / 9:34 am

    There is a long list of requirements needed to be met in order for Sugarbush to run this lift. #1. There has to be 1′ 1/2 of snow both underneath the lift and on the access road to the bottom of Slide Brook Basin. #2. The temperature must be above 5 degrees throughout the whole entire day. #3. There can´t be high winds. #4. The access road to the bottom of Slide Brook Basin must be groomed. Sugarbush has to want to run it also.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Somebody February 11, 2019 / 8:08 pm

      So pretty much, this lift never runs, but in marketing, they can pretend it does. Great.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Teddy's Lift World November 28, 2019 / 9:52 am

          So if you don’t know already, AlpineZone is a website with a ton of forums about northeast skiing. I started a thread about Sugarbush lift replacements and brought up Slide Brook. Most people said they hated it and it was useless. My question for them is why. I love to be able to split my day between two mountains without having to worry about a bus timetable and it taking 45 minutes because it stops multiple times on its trip between mountains. I think these “Slide Brook haters” are just upset at the world and the modern Sugarbush. I truly hope that Alterra sees the vision that ASC once had for this resort and runs Slide Brook more often. I have confirmation from Win that the “safety standards” are Sugarbush’s own policy meaning that it is possible for Alterra to run it more often than the current ownership. I will be so happy to be able to ski both mountains in one day almost every time I ski at Sugarbush.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Donald Reif December 14, 2019 / 9:57 am

          Alterra has more money to spend, and I agree that they could probably prove these “Slide Brook haters” wrong.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. cfglick April 13, 2019 / 11:18 am

    They could make it a chondola and when the requirements don’t allow the lift to run, they could only load the gondolas. That way you could still ride the chair if you want to and the conditions allow it.

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    • Somebody April 15, 2019 / 10:17 am

      Honestly, they should just make it a full gondola. I’ve never ridden slide brook myself, but I’ve ridden Chair 10 at Telluride (300 feet shorter), and it’s really not fun. As a lift people would ride at most twice a day, I don’t see the problem making it a full gondola, because if it was a chondola, unless it was 50 degrees out, the chairs would go completely empty.

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      • Mike B April 15, 2019 / 10:32 am

        Great idea. Dump a bunch of money into a lift with questionable utility, challenged economics and limited operability already.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Teddy's Lift World April 15, 2019 / 12:43 pm

        The whole reason it is a chair is to make it effortless to traverse between the mountains. It is a nice ride that is rather pleasant that actually isn’t too long. Sunshine might be different in that way. Slide Brook (when it actually runs) is amazing. I ski at Sugarbush very often and it is always a treat when it is running. Too bad it doesn’t run more often.

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        • Donald Reif May 28, 2019 / 5:33 pm

          Sunshine at Telluride has a bunch of long double greens and blues that can be lapped from it, and real estate that can be skied in/out of, and being an alternate route to Prospect Bowl and Gold Hill (when combined with Ute Park), has much more necessity.

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  4. conradmward April 15, 2019 / 8:04 am

    If you come in March you’ll find that it runs most days thanks to more favorable weather and snow conditions. And a decent amount of people use it (at least on weekends) so the ski area certainly likes to run it if they can.

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  5. skitheeast April 15, 2019 / 12:35 pm

    I think the best solution for Slide Brook is to simply expand into Slide Brook Basin. Two lifts, one to the top of Mt. Ellen and one to the top of North Lynx, would be all that is required to allow for a skiable connection. There are also some well pitched slopes in the area that would allow Sugarbush to offer a mixture of more mellow intermediates and challenging diamonds.

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    • Teddy's Lift World April 15, 2019 / 12:40 pm

      When Les Otten decided to build a lift here in 1995 he signed an agreement that Sugarbush can’t expand into the Slide Brook basin. Wildlife is also another concern. This simply won’t happen!

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      • skitheeast February 8, 2022 / 1:42 pm

        Agreements can be amended, or rewritten entirely, as time passes. In the 80s, Sugarbush submitted plans to the USFS to enter Slide Brook Basin with a proper pod, and they were approved at the time, so there is historical precedent for change. Perhaps Alterra could figure something out in the future.

        In the long-term, something is going to give with this lift, as it does not operate enough to justify its existence and the required O&M will eventually add up. There are basically three options. Option A is to remove it without replacement, which would be the most cost-effective solution but carry with it the negative blowback of committing to divide Sugarbush in two. Option B is to replace it with something that can run more frequently, likely a gondola, which would mostly continue the status quo. Option C is to explore what would need to be done to get USFS approval to go into Slide Brook Basin, although this would likely be expensive and only make sense if Sugarbush is able to grow its annual skier visitation. For some reference, Sugarbush’s annual visitation peaked in the 80s, dipped by almost 40%-50% by the mid-2000s, and is only now rising back towards 80s levels. If this growth levels off, Option B is most likely. If it continues, Option C could make sense. If it were to dip once again, then Option A would be on the table.

        Liked by 1 person

        • carletongebhardt February 8, 2022 / 1:53 pm

          I can’t see them abandoning this connection. It’s not that convenient to go by shuttle, as you have a long trudge to where the skiing is on the Lincoln Peak side (not so much on Mt. Ellen). Given that they are connecting two base areas at Pallisades – I don’t see them moving away from it here. A gondola might draw more usage and spread out the crowd a bit more. But I’m guessing they run it as is for the next five years. It doesn’t have that many hours on it, given how seldom it runs. Personally, I’d like to see a gondola, if it means it would run more….

          Liked by 1 person

        • Lord Brucifer March 4, 2022 / 9:07 am

          Considering that Sugarbush sustained huge losses in 2020-2021 due to COVID, it is highly unlikely that they would even consider investing in any lift / gondola additions for the foreseeable future. They have two aging lifts, one at Heaven’s Gate and one at North Lynx, that will out of necessity need replacement. I can definitely see them abandoning this lift due to lack of people, parts, short hours of operation (10AM to 3PM), evac concerns and frequent closures due to weather and snow conditions. Although it is a great ride and well worth the price of admission just for that, chalk it up to another blunder by American Ski Company for building it in the first place.

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        • Teddy's Lift World March 4, 2022 / 10:09 am

          Think again. Read their latest Sugarblog article.

          Like

  6. Maxwell May 16, 2019 / 4:46 pm

    Is this the only Doppelmayr high-speed quad that can run at 1100 fpm?

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    • Somebody May 16, 2019 / 7:21 pm

      Definitely not, the only one that comes to mind is Timberline at Copper, but there’s definitely a few more that can.

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      • Peter Landsman May 16, 2019 / 7:25 pm

        Gem Lake Express at Big White, Summit Express at Keystone, Wildcat Express at Wildcat and Lodge at YC.

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  7. snowbasinlocal12894 May 27, 2019 / 12:23 pm

    Were having the same problem with operating john paul in the summer. JP has a very long and steep lift line and you cant really evacuate the lift in the summer because everyone is on foot. Not on skis or a snowboard. Slide brook is a mellow lift though. Cant they just rope you off and the patrol men take off your skis/board before you hit the ground? The big problem is getting everyone out after they get roped off. I imagine it would be a muddy mess trying to get out of there during bad snow years. If it were to happen on a bad snow year. Snowbasin gets plenty of snow so no problem in the winter.

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    • snowbasinlocal12894 May 27, 2019 / 8:36 pm

      The only solution I can think of for slide brook is a paved road so evacuation doesnt turn into a muddy mess. Would be very expensive though.

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      • Teddy's Lift World May 28, 2019 / 9:56 am

        Sugarbush is different than many other large mountains. They would never pave a road due to wildlife concerns and for the fact that the Slide Brook basin is supposed to be an untouched backcountry ski area. I ski at Sugarbush almost every weekend during the winter and I know for a fact that they would never spend that much money on a road for a lift that is clearly not a top priority for Sugarbush. Slide Brook is an extremely useful lift (when it runs), although Sugarbush treats Mt. Ellen as a secondary mountain that doesn’t need to be connected with Lincoln Peak. In my opinion, both mountains should be connected at all time as “Sugarbush”, not Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen as two separate areas, although this can’t happen due to the ridiculous operational constraints on Slide Brook.

        Liked by 1 person

    • noah May 28, 2019 / 2:00 pm

      Good point, I can’t imagine having to get everyone out with a mountains small fleet of utv’s in a timely manner

      Liked by 1 person

  8. BarkeeStone December 14, 2019 / 12:57 pm

    If they did replace Slide Brooks Express. Would they go with L-P for this project or not?

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    • Teddy's Lift World December 14, 2019 / 1:20 pm

      No, it would be Doppelmayr, and there’s no way that they’ll ever replace Slide Brook. Sadly, that’s just reality.

      Like

  9. Somebody May 26, 2020 / 11:19 pm

    Even a mid load station at the bottom would be really nice to have on this lift.

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    • Mike B May 28, 2020 / 11:34 am

      Agree 100% but I’m pretty sure that is prohibited per the agreement with the State of Vermont that allowed SB to build this lift in the first place.

      Like

  10. Munier Salem January 30, 2021 / 12:26 pm

    A new trail pod from the lowest point on Slidebrook to near the ridgeline above North Lynx would be truly exceptional. The line would be roughly 1 mile long with a northeast exposure and a top elevation near 4000′. It would provide the kind of high-quality skiing to rival Lincoln Peak and Mt Ellen.

    This would allow Sugarbush to deprecate the southern half of Slidebrook Express and either refurbish or replace the northern half as a much shorter lift.

    Although it’s tempting to consider a complimentary lift/trail pod up to Mt Ellen, that terrain has a Southeast exposure (like Castle Rock) and would be more difficult to maintain and resurface.

    It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call this the best trail expansion in the northeast since Jordan Bowl. Unfortunately, it would need to overcome two massive roadblocks. First, renegotiating the agreement not to develop Slidebrook. And second, any expansion at or above the North Lynx triple would involve development in boreal forest (i.e. Bicknell’s Thrush habitat). That second consideration is what supposedly led Killington to abandon Upper Juggernaut when they had to clear land for the new South Ridge chair.

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    • Munier Salem January 30, 2021 / 12:28 pm

      *in New England since Jordan Bowl. Gore’s had some good ones in the past 20 years :)

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      • Myles Svec January 30, 2021 / 12:41 pm

        Les Otten agreed to never expand into slidebrook basin so that will never happen.

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        • Donald Reif January 30, 2021 / 12:54 pm

          Thing is, agreements can be renegotiated.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Calvin February 8, 2022 / 4:33 pm

          Donald, not possible when there’s conservation easements at play and the Slidebrook was a compromise. LBO wanted to connect the mountains with multiple pods. Turned out the Slidbrook drainage is a massive bear habitat. So the deal was struck to connect the two areas with a HSQ that can’t operate once the bears come out of torpor.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Teddy's Lift World February 9, 2022 / 6:53 am

          Calvin, agreed. The lift can’t operate from May-November as it is because of the bear habitat. Vermont would never permit such an expansion into the basin and is already a PITA when it comes to small projects.

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    • Somebody January 31, 2021 / 5:23 pm

      I still think the cheapest and easiest to negotiate option could be to just add a load-only midstation at the lowest point of the current slidebrook lift. Opening that up alone would allow you to ski tons of terrain off the backside of north lynx and the side of Mount Ellen. They could also replace it with a gondola while they’re at it so that they can operate it on cold days.

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    • Mike B February 9, 2022 / 11:49 am

      Definitely won’t happen for the reasons cited above. Best you can hope for in Slidebrook is an expansion of the official gladed areas and enhanced shuttle service between North and South. There are plans with the NFS for same through the forest mgmt process, but don’t expect any lift expansion between North Lynx and Lower FIS, irrespective of how attractive the terrain may be.

      Like

    • Jasen Bellomy March 30, 2022 / 2:09 pm

      Act-250!

      Like

  11. p4rtridg3 February 15, 2021 / 8:27 pm

    I don’t understand the snow requirement for lift evacuations. Snow or no snow, there are at least two sections on this lift that rise 150-200 feet above some very steep, very remote terrain. Explain to me how you are supposed to evacuate someone from there before they die of exposure without being able to run the lift in any way.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thomas R White February 16, 2021 / 4:50 am

    Evacuation limitations is the reason given for late opening, and I assume early closing, of this lift. Having it enclosed would certainly make the ride more pleasant and a long evac situation endurable. I vote for telling Loon “we’ll buy your cabins” to encourage their upgrading their gondi. Many transfer type lifts are gondolas. But most accommodate non-skiers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Calvin February 8, 2022 / 4:38 pm

      Early closing is due to the bears coming out of torpor.

      ASC never had issues with enough snow for evacs. It’s a self-imposed restriction under Win’s ownership probably because its a costly lift to run with little perceived value.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Teddy's Lift World February 10, 2022 / 10:08 am

        The lift itself is not significantly more costly than something like Super Bravo. Otten made it a key point to finally connect the two sides and therefore was committed to having it run all the time. Win purchased the mountain for around the same money that Otten bought it in ’95, yet with millions in improvements since then. The lift is more of a maintenance nightmare than anything. Any line work (eg. sheave replacements) is extremely difficult to get to, even with sufficient snow. The lift isn’t maintained particularly well anymore either and has been sitting since last year with no work done. Win kept it running regardless of snow cover until around 2005.

        Like

        • Teddy's Lift World February 10, 2022 / 10:09 am

          I’ll also add that the snow cover requirement is almost entirely about the access roads into the basin. There are several of them and in order for snowmobiles to get in, they need to have enough snow to fill the water bars and to be groomed.

          Like

  13. 9412vcummins February 8, 2022 / 9:29 pm

    I think the best solution for slide brook is a gravel service road underneath the lift or a low capacity gondola. Since gondolas load from the side, a helicopter can lift people out of the cabins. Kicking horse BC did exactly that when there gondola broke down.

    Like

    • Max Hart February 9, 2022 / 4:32 pm

      I’m sure the Coast Guard would not appreciate having to come from Cape Cod to evac people off of a gondola in Vermont via helicopter (and yes I’m serious if any sort of evac-via-chopper is needed in New England, it’s usually carried out by the Coast Guard which flies out of Cape Cod- they airlifted people off of Mt. Washington earlier this year).

      Like

  14. skitheeast February 10, 2022 / 2:28 pm

    There has been a lot of discussion regarding Slide Brook, both the basin and the chair itself, and here is a summary of the big picture as I understand it (both through outside knowledge and others on here):

    Land Use:
    -In general, Slide Brook Basin is owned by the USFS above 2600 feet and by Sugarbush below that, although this is not an exact science given that the property lines are straight lines and contour lines are not. The USFS also owns practically all of the Lincoln Peak area, with the exception of the base, and Sugarbush owns practically all of the Mt. Ellen area, with the exception of the summit of Mt. Ellen.
    -USFS rules dictate that Slide Brook Basin cannot have any beech trees removed due to black bears eating their nuts, and the land is only open to skiers/machinery/vehicles/etc. while bears are hibernating (roughly December-March). Some thinning is possible (and likely has occurred) given that none of the beech trees, or any other plants that the bears need or use, are removed. From what I can tell, Sugarbush basically adopted USFS policies for their portion of Slide Brook Basin as part of the agreement.
    -Other areas majority-owned by the USFS that Sugarbush operates on, namely Clay Brook Basin (Lincoln Peak/Castlerock) and Rice Brook Basin (North Lynx Peak/Village Run), are fair game for expansion subject to USFS approval. Sugarbush majority-owned areas, namely Lockwood Brook Basin (Lower FIS) and Chase Brook Basin (Inverness/North Ridge), are also fair game subject to approval.

    Operations:
    -Slide Brook needs a groomed, 18″ deep snow road to operate. This is a self-imposed rule in accordance with Sugarbush’s own existing operations and safety plan. It could be changed if Sugarbush revised its plan and is totally possible, but they have had no interest in doing so in recent history (likely due to an alternative safety plan costing them more money).
    -Slide Brook may not operate outside of the December-March window for Slide Brook Basin due to it partially being on USFS land and Sugarbush agreeing to those restrictions as conditions to installation

    Feel free to add to this list.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jasen Bellomy March 30, 2022 / 2:12 pm

      Slidebrook is also allowed to run from June-August for required maintenance only.

      Like

  15. 9412vcummins February 14, 2022 / 1:28 pm

    My suggestion is a tracked machine that can operate in both mud and snow conditions and can handle fairly steep hills with a people mover cab similar to a snowcat.

    Like

    • Jasen Bellomy March 30, 2022 / 2:13 pm

      Slidebrook has 100 chairs and carries people both directions. We are talking about extracting 400 people from remote mountain wilderness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • carletongebhardt March 30, 2022 / 2:39 pm

        However, the reality is that when running, it’s probably only 10% utilized. But I understand and am fine with the restrictions.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jasen Bellomy April 11, 2022 / 2:01 pm

          Probably doesn’t cut it when you have to develop an emergency action plan.

          Like

      • Michael March 30, 2022 / 8:10 pm

        Jasen- Thanks for the First Hand knowledge!

        My suggestion is a tracked machine that can operate in both mud and snow conditions and can handle fairly steep hills with a people mover cab similar to a snowcat.
        Yep- Lots of those available to just be waiting for “what if”…

        Like

  16. That midwestern guy February 27, 2022 / 6:53 am

    Honestly I would be fine if Alterra replaced the current terminals with newer UNI-G terminals

    Like

    • pbropetech March 30, 2022 / 8:26 pm

      What will that do for the overall operation of the lift?

      Liked by 1 person

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