How It’s Done

Why You Should Choose a Marine Innovations’ Hillside Tram

Why Choose Us?

Every time you use your hillside tram, you are trusting us with your most precious cargo – your family and friends – and we take that seriously. Which is why we build each unit with the same attention to safety as the one we built for our own family. Our first priority always has been and always will be your safety. That’s why we meet – and often exceed – all national ASME A17.1 inclined elevator industry codes.

Our hillside trams are produced in the USA with the highest quality components and materials. We are the only funicular company with in-house manufacturing, which means we’re in complete control from start to finish. Every piece of galvanized steel, cable, bolt and screw has to meet our quality standards or it doesn’t become part of one our inclined trams.

We also offer the best warranty in the inclined elevator industry: 15 years for structural components, three years for nonstructural components (gearbox, motor, brakes), one year for drive and brake cable and one year for electrical parts and components.

If those aren’t reasons enough to choose us, then our 30-year history of satisfied clients should seal the deal. We believe in service long after the sale; that’s why we have full-time staff available to offer phone support, annual inspections and maintenance service on your hillside elevator system if you need it.

Marine Innovations Residential Incline Elevator

How to begin

The process is simple. Call or email us today. We will begin by asking details about your needs, application and hill specifications. Next, we’ll provide you with an initial estimate and schedule an onsite evaluation. After we’ve considered all the variables of your site as well as your intended use, we’ll deliver you a firm quote. From there we engineer and manufacture your fully customized hillside tram in our facilities. Finally, we will install your system, and you will join our hundreds of other satisfied customers. Most importantly, you’ll be able to use and enjoy your hillside property!

Safety Features of our lifts

You put a lot of trust in the structure that carries people up and down a steep hillside; make sure it’s designed for safety and longevity. Our outdoor elevators are fully engineered to meet or exceed all national A.S.M.E. (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) inclined elevator safety codes as well as any State specific regulations.

  • Centrifugal over-speed governor safety brake that monitors speed. If the carriage travels beyond the set speed, the brake will lock onto a secondary cable and bring the lift to a smooth stop.
  • Electronic safety brake.
  • Slack cable brake that monitors the tension in the drive cable and will put the tram into safe mode if any slack in the cable is detected.
  • Electronic safety switch on the carriage door that will not allow your lift to operate if the carriage door is open.
  • Safety interlocks for your top and bottom landing gates to create a safe environment when your carriage is in use.
  • Emergency stop buttons in the carriage and at every landing.
Marine Innovations Residential Tram with Custom Curved Trak
Marine Innovations Residential Lake Elevator
Marine Innovations Residential Lake Tram


Here we’ve answered some of the tough questions our clients often ask us. If you don’t find your answers here, or you would like more information, don’t hesitate to call. We’d love to talk to you!

This Is a Big Investment. How Do I Know I’ve Chosen the Right Company?

This is probably the single most important question you can ask. The result of getting it wrong can be catastrophic. Make sure you research the competition. Most other systems are just hybrids of the same product; meaning they do not do their own manufacturing and are not being truthful about who does. They portray themselves as independent but they are anything but. We produce the ONLY ENGINEERED INCLINED ELEVATOR in the industry, it is professionally designed in-house to meet your site, terrain, elevation etc. as well as your needs and desires. Do your homework and ask tough questions.

Why are Some Company's Prices So Different From Another's?

It is all in the materials and components used as well as companies that flip flop their pricing. And it’s a buyer beware situation. Make sure you study the specs carefully so you know what you are paying for. If you pay too little now, it may cost you a lot later. In most cases it is NOT an apples to apples comparison. The gauge of steel; the type of drive system; the safeties and braking system used; the electrical panel; the type of structure; how it is installed. All can be quite different from one company to another. And all influence the price and quality of the tram. We firmly believe you get what you pay for. We also believe in offering systems at different price points. It is a competitive marketplace but like anything else price should not be the deciding factor. Safety and quality should be foremost in the decision process as this is carrying human beings.

What Type of Footing and Rail System Do You Have and Why Is It Important?

The proper footing system is extremely important to guarantee a safe installation, which is why an onsite evaluation and using the proper material is crucial. Knowing the soil conditions of your property is key. Our representatives will analyze your specific needs and then design the footing system for your incline elevator accordingly.

We use 2” high strength galvanized WT40 steel pipe for our footing systems, the best in the industry. If working in sand, gravel or clay, the installation crew will drive your supports at least 7 to 10 feet down with a hydraulic driver. Many companies use only powder-coated, thin-wall tubing for their footing system and hand dig or auger them a few feet into the ground. Using this type of material causes instability in the complete system and powder-coated pipe will rust from the inside out, regardless of using tube caps. Our process of pounding the pipe into the ground has very little or no impact on your hill, landscaping or environment, yet still provides the most secure structure system.

In rocky conditions, we will drill directly into the rock per engineered standards and set the supports in anchoring cement. If additional cross bracing is needed for uneven terrain, we will clamp around the structure using grade 5 u-bolts, which is preferred over drilling directly into the supports, which may weaken the support system and allow for corrosion.

Our hillside rail system is made of 2”x3” galvanized 11-gauge enclosed tubing. We do not use a c-channel rail system since it allows for debris to build up inside the track. Our rail system can be flexible to work with all types of hillsides and gives us the ability to contour to the gradient of the hill. The depth of our track system allows the cable to be suspended above the track and cross members to prevent cable wear.

What Happens If the Cable Breaks or Equipment Fails?

We use galvanized 5/16” aircraft cable that has a 9,800-lb. test strength on our traction drive hill lift. This type of cable is commercial grade and is used in the aircraft industry as well as for many other applications. It is virtually impossible for this type of cable to break in an incline tram application.

In the 30 year we have been building and installing outdoor hill elevators, we have never had a cable break or equipment failure. However, you will have peace of mind knowing that if an over-speed is detected for any given reason while traveling up or down, our carriage will immediately come to a smooth stop because of the over speed governor and spring dampeners we use to absorb all shock. Be careful for systems that drop an arm down into the tracks’ crossmembers. The Elevator Safety Code will not recognize that as a braking mechanism, and it does not allow the carriage to come to an immediate or gentle stop.

What Makes Your System Safe?

Our hill elevators meet or exceed the national elevator code ASME 17.1 (Sections 5.1 or 5.4). Our systems include top and bottom landing controls, which feature an e-stop button.

Safety switches are included on our braking systems, which have endless advantages and are necessary for code compliancy. We also offer a battery powered wireless technology and a supervised signal that is exclusive to our incline elevators, and is a crucial component in the safety of your incline elevator. This means that your system will not operate if your carriage doors are open, which is an extra safety precaution, especially for small children.

Lastly, our incline elevators have multiple safeties, which include a slack-cable brake, an electronic safety brake and the over-speed governor safety.

How Do Your Carriage Wheels Work and Why Is It Important?

We’ve specifically designed our carriage to ride on top of the track. This design is superior to other manufacturers. First, the wheels are exactly formed to fit perfectly around both sides of the track for guidance. Next, solid track guides are mounted on the wheel housings and then around the track to keep the carriage in place. These two design elements absolutely will not allow for any horizontal or vertical movement off of the rail system. The wheels are also enclosed by wheel housings. This is beneficial so debris, branches, snow, etc. are unable to obstruct the carriage wheels and cause uneven wear. The reason why it is important for the wheels to ride on top of the rail is because it allows easy access to inspect, maintain and lubricate each one of the wheels during your annual safety inspections. When carriage wheels are mounted inside the rail system, it becomes very difficult to properly maintain them.

What Is the Difference Between a Traction Drive and Drum Drive System?

We specialize in both Traction Drive and Drum Drive systems. Each is used to increase efficiency. In a Drum Drive application, the cable is wound around a drum that winds and unwinds as the carriage travels up and down. Over a certain track length, the drum diameter becomes big and bulky and a larger motor and gearbox is required to drive the system, or a large cover or pit is necessary. This set up would not be efficient and would also allow the cable to lie in the track and cause wear.

In our Traction Drive system the cable is attached on the top and bottom sides of the trolley and the traction sheaves move the cable up and down. This system has no limits on length. In the winter where snow is present, the traction system will pull the carriage down towards the bottom of the hillside and will not rely on gravity to move it like the drum drive does. This option allows the mechanics to stay compact and proficient and includes our double roller assembly to support the cable to prevent cable wear.

What Type of Warranty and Service Does Your Company Offer?

Service. Service. Service. Marine Innovations, Inc. offers a 1 year comprehensive warranty on all electrical components, 15 years on the structure and 3 years on the motor, gearbox, and brakes on all of our residential hill elevators. Not only do we offer a great warranty, but we also have a network of local certified dealers in place from coast to coast to make sure that any necessary warranty or service work is done in an extremely timely manner.

As the manufacturer, we also employ a full-time service staff that is available for general questions about your system. We will work with you until you have the complete answers you need. We will take care of you and your hill lift long after the sale is complete.

How Can You Guarantee That Your Company’s Inclined Elevator Will Be Right for My Hillside?

We’ve invested a lot in the design and engineering of our hillside lifts over the past 30 years. We have also worked very hard in finding the right dealers and certifying them on how to complete an entire site evaluation and layout of your hillside, as well as provide you with options and step-by-step details of our installation process. As a manufacturer, we guarantee that you will be getting exactly what you are expecting and more, which is why the site evaluation and layout is so important. The site is analyzed so we can determine which one of our inclined elevator systems will meet the defined specifications of your hill. After the site visit, your dealer or local representative will provide you with a firm quote for all materials and installation expenses that are needed for your installation so there will be no hidden costs. Our full-time engineering department is also available to assist you with specific design or permitting requirements along with meeting the precise specifications of your hillside. We haven’t yet met a hillside we can’t conquer.

Who Will Complete the Installation of My Inclined Elevator?

The installation process is equally important as the product itself which is why we make sure every single installation is done just as it should be to keep you and your family safe. Your inclined elevator will be installed by one of our factory-trained and certified installation crews and not just by any hired general contractors. As a manufacturer, we travel across the United States and beyond to train, oversee and certify our dealers and their crews to make sure your installation is done properly and to the exact guidelines of your original layout, as discussed with your local sales manager.