A pitfall to Cover

Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Hello-

I know I am newer around here, but I stumbled upon this site while looking for a answer a while back and I got it. I now turn it the other way around. I am involved in a theatre that is doing a close to full restoration over the course of the next few years hopefully. One of the things needed is an orchestra pit cover. We do not want one that we make ourselves but rather a manufactured one.
I am wondering if it is more effective to purchase a pit cover and modify or to have one installed. If it is better installed can anyone offer any help on where to begin looking. The project would be in Jersey. Thank you.
 

gafftaper

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There are ton's of manufactures who will custom build a pit cover to fit your space. I'm currently looking at buying seating risers for a black box and the manufacturers are all similar. Some of the big ones to check would be Wenger, Staging Concepts, and Stage Right. I'm looking at all three of them for my seating risers. They'll build it in an exact fit. A nearby theater just got a Wenger system put in. It's great. Although I would look at the other two companies as they are a little more aggressive with their pricing. Wenger is king of the market and they kind of act like it.

As for building your own it's possible. A high school theater I work at has an incredibly simple slick design for their pit cover. There is a lip about two inches across on the upstage and downstage edge of the pit. The cover is just a series of wooden "platforms" that sit on this lip with 2X8 stringers. It takes about 20 minutes to put the pit in or out. It's really easy. And they have a special cover unit with a trap door in it they can use as well. The modern systems that a manufacturer will give you are stronger but not as quick and easy to put in and take out.

If I were you I would hire a theater consultant to help you through this project. I just met with ours today. His advice has been really valuable and his design work great. I can't imagine taking on a full remodel without a consultant.
 
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Thank you very much. I don't know why Wenger slipped my mind, but yes they can be a bit pricey. We just got a load of there risers at the black box theatre and they are nice.
I do hope that they go ahead and hire a good consultant next year. I know this year is a year they are doing small improvements to see if they consider the investment of redoing, this rather big and old theatre , worth all the money. Hopefully they will and things will go ahead. A good consultant can make or break the reformation of a theatre. Thank you again.
 

gafftaper

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Thank you very much. I don't know why Wenger slipped my mind, but yes they can be a bit pricey. We just got a load of there risers at the black box theatre and they are nice.
I do hope that they go ahead and hire a good consultant next year. I know this year is a year they are doing small improvements to see if they consider the investment of redoing, this rather big and old theatre , worth all the money. Hopefully they will and things will go ahead. A good consultant can make or break the reformation of a theatre. Thank you again.
It would be wise just to pay a consultant to come in and give you some ideas of what you can and can't do. Which shouldn't cost that much..

I've done a lot of looking seating risers for my theater and at this point I'm hoping to not get the Wenger risers when the whole competitive bid process is done, because the other products seem a little more clever in their design. So do check them out for platforms as well. My impression of the Wenger pit cover I saw installed at a nearby theater last fall was that it looked like a "Soviet Union" design. By that I mean, lots of big heavy understructure that does the job but is more than needed and isn't very creative in how it's used.
 

Van

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I'll second Gaff, and say Wenger is a good option for a purchased pit cover. I don't particularly care for premanufactured platforms, and wenger are some of the best, They're way too ****ed expensive. If I was to manufacture mine own pit cover I beleive I'd build it with "Triscuits" or Stressed skin platfoms. Check Yale university's theatre website formore info or just google ""triscuit" platform". A stressed skin system might be able to span the pit without the necessity of internal supports, which would be nice from a setup/teardown point. I would want to be sure to run the numbers for load capacity, however, just to make sure you don't over load it the first time 20 choir singers are standing on it. Simple internal supports could be maunfactured from 4x4's. they would afford plenty of over lap on the seams, you'donly need to build a foot arangement to help hold them upright.
 

Van

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................................. My impression of the Wenger pit cover I saw installed at a nearby theater last fall was that it looked like a "Soviet Union" design. By that I mean, lots of big heavy understructure that does the job .................

In college, the pit cover we had was manufactured of 3" angle iron, with 5/8 " plywood, a layer of carpet pad, and covered in industrial carpet. It had 1.5" scd40 pipe uprights with cutouts on the topthat you had wedge up into place to act as intermediate supports. It was a total PITA!
 

gafftaper

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In college, the pit cover we had was manufactured of 3" angle iron, with 5/8 " plywood, a layer of carpet pad, and covered in industrial carpet. It had 1.5" scd40 pipe uprights with cutouts on the topthat you had wedge up into place to act as intermediate supports. It was a total PITA!
We had a similar system at my college, except it was all wood... looked like a roller coaster under there. There was a lot of pounding with rubber mallets, bolting and unbolting, and cussing that happened every time the pit was moved.
 

Footer

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You're funny.
Where's that 50K going to come from?
50k, that'll buy you about one screwjack....

If you are a place that does musicals occasionally and only need one pit level, go for a good cover system. Really the places that use their pit a lot usually use it to take stuff to storage under the stage.
 

Van

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Unless you're Jubilee!, Mystere, O, KA, Love, or La Reve (!)
:)

Disclaimer-

You'll have to forgive Derek he hasn't been living in the real world recently, he's been working in Vegas...... - 'nuff said.


:mrgreen::twisted::mrgreen:
 

derekleffew

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Wait, what? You mean everyone doesn't spend $80 million building a theatre? Well how else do you get customers in the door to play your slot machines?
 

avkid

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Wait, what? You mean everyone doesn't spend $80 million building a theatre? Well how else do you get customers in the door to play your slot machines?
We just got some of those slot machine things(video poker) in our small county last year.
People come from far and wide to watch the horses race and play those machines.
If only taxes weren't so high, I'd be in the racino business.
 

JVV

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Sep 3, 2008
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Trenton New Jersey
Hello-
One of the things needed is an orchestra pit cover. We do not want one that we make ourselves but rather a manufactured one.
I am wondering if it is more effective to purchase a pit cover and modify or to have one installed. If it is better installed can anyone offer any help on where to begin looking. The project would be in Jersey. Thank you.
I am wondering if you found a company in New Jersey that made custom pit covers. I am in the same situation right now.
 

josh88

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I am wondering if you found a company in New Jersey that made custom pit covers. I am in the same situation right now.
Just going to point out, this is from 2007 and we haven't seen this guy around here in quite awhile.