Alexander James Wallis-Tayler.

Aerial or wire rope-ways : their construction and management online

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SOME years ago the author wrote a book entitled
"Aerial or Wire-Rope Tramways," which is now
out of print. Since the publication of that work
the term tramway used in relation to aerial lines
has been found by manufacturers and others to be
somewhat misleading, and these installations have
become almost universally known as aerial or wire
rope- ways. In consequence of this it has been
deemed advisable in this new work to discard the
term "Tram way " and substitute that of "Rope-
Way " in order to conform with the present

The new book has been practically lewritten,
and those portions of the original work used have
been thoroughly revised and brought up to date.
Considerable additions to the subject matter, together
with a number of illustrations, have been made in
the chapters devoted to Details of Construction,
Electrically Driven Wire Rope- Ways, and that on
Miscellaneous Information. A number of descrip-
tions and illustrations of installations of lines on
the different systems are given by way of example
as in the former work. Much out-of-date matter

has been eliminated and replaced by particulars




and illustrations of lines of recent construction.
Additional matter and examples of lines on the
telpher system are also given. A special chapter
is devoted to wire rope- ways for hoisting and
conveying and for coaling vessels at sea, the former
type of rope-way being of great utility in building
bridges, making canal, railway and other excavations,
for dredging work, and for other purposes too numerous
to mention ; and the latter being a subject of no small
interest and importance especially with relation to
warships when engaged in hostilities.

In the chapter dealing with miscellaneous informa-
tion will be found a method of calculating the strains
on the carrying rope of an aerial rope-way, also hints
as to the splicing, securing, preserving, &c., of wire
ropes. An addenda to this chapter devoted to general
matters gives instructions (illustrated) for uncoiling
wire ropes, removing kinks, estimating for wire rope-
ways, approximate prices for wire rope- ways of different
capacities, and a number of useful tables. The book
is provided with a sufficient Index, a Table of
Contents, and a List of Illustrations.

It is hoped that the present work will be found
of considerable more service than the former one
by those desirous of obtaining information regarding
aerial or wire rope-ways.






Introductory Different Systems of Aerial or Wire Rope-
Ways : The Running or Endless Rope System The
Fixed Carrying-Rope System . . . 1-12


Details of Construction : Posts or Standards Wire Ropes
or Lines for Running- Rope System Carrier Boxes
or Saddles for the Running-Rope System Wire
Ropes or Lines for the Fixed Carrying-Rope System
Carrier Trucks, Runners, or Saddles for the Fixed
Carrying-Rope System Friction Grips or Couplings
Knots or Carrier Collars for Locking Grips or
Couplings Pawl Locking Grips or Couplings -Claw
Locking Grips or Couplings Carrier Receptacles or
Vehicles Motive Power 13-69


Electrically Driven Wire Rope- Ways : Origin and Advan-
tages of Telpherage Original System of Telpherage
Improved Systems of Telpherage . . 70-99


Examples of Installations of Wire Rope- Ways on the
Running or Endless Rope System at : Works in France
Mill in Mexico Furnaces at Middlesbrough
Water Works in Northumberland Pier at the Cape
de Verde Islands Piers in New Zealand Quarry



at Emboroagh Quarry in India Cement Works
in Brazil Mine in Cumberland Print Works in
Lancashire Chemical Works in Northumberland
Mill in Yorkshire Linoleum Works in Middlesex
Sugar Plantations in Demerara, Jamaica, Mauritius,
Martinique, St Kitts, Guatemala, &c. Custom
House in Mauritius Beetroot Farm in Holland



Examples of Installations of Wire Rope- Ways on the
Fixed Carrying-Rope System at : Sugar Plantation
in Australia Chalk Pits in France Mines in Spain
Furnaces in Belgium Saw Mills in Scotland
Blast Furnaces in Hungary Cement Works in
France Lead Mines in France Gas Works, London
Saw Mills in Italy Italian Alps Fortifications,
Gibraltar Water Works, Cape Town Pier in South
Africa Sugar Factory, Hong Kong Mine in Japan
Weston and Glynde (Telpher), Somersetshire and
Sussex Ampere (Telpher), America



Wire Rope-Ways for Hoisting and Conveying : Installa-
tions for Hoisting and Conveying in America
Installations for Hoisting and Conveying in Australia
Wire Rope-Ways for Coaling Vessels at Sea



Miscellaneous Information : To Calculate the Strains on
Carrying Rope Splicing and Securing Wire Ropes
Ordinary Rope Attachments Preserving Wire
Ropes General Matters






1-9. Posts or Standards. '. . . . 14-18

10. Wire Rope, Appearance when New . . 20

1 1 . Wire Rope, Appearance when Old . . 20

12. Saddle for Running or Endless Wire Rope- Way . 24

13. Terminal for Wire Rope- Way, Bleichert System . 29

14. Upper Terminal, Leschen System . . .31

15. Lower or Delivery Terminal, Leschen System . 31

16. Dumping Gear, Leschen System . . .31
17, 18. Carrier Truck or Runner for Fixed Wire Rope-
Way . . . . . .36,37

19, 20. Disc Friction Grip or Coupling . . .40

21,22. Screw Locking Grip or Coupling . . .44

23-25. Wedge Locking Grip or Coupling . . 45

26-28. Star Knot or Carrier Collar ... 46

29-32. Otto Knot or Carrier Collar . 47

33, 34. Modified Form of Otto Knot or Carrier Collar . 48

35. Bleichert Knot or Carrier Collar . . .49

36-38. Pawl Locking Grip or Coupling . . 50

39-41. Arrangement for Automatically Connecting and

Disconnecting Pawl Grip or Coupling 51

42. Claw Locking Grip or Coupling . . .54

43, 44. Claw Locking Grip or Coupling for Steep Gradients 55

45. Fixed Cylindrical Receptacle or Bucket . 57

46. Tilting or Tipping Cylindrical Receptacle . 57

47. Tilting or Tipping Rectangular Receptacle 58

48. Produce Carrier

49. Cradle Sack Carrier 59

50. Sling Sack Carrier .

51. Textile Goods Carrier

52. Sling Cask Carrier .

53, 54. Gunpowder Cask Carrier .

55. Liquid Carrier ... 60



56. Timber or Bale Carrier . 60

57. Platform Carrier . . . 60

58. Sling Wood Carrier . . V 61

59. Cannon Carrier ... 61
60, 61. Sugar Cane Carrier . . . 61

62. Sugar Bag Carrier . . . . . 61

63. Passenger Carrier for Running-Rope System 62

64. Passenger Carrier for Fixed-Rope System . . 63

65. Bleichert's Driving Gear for Wire Rope- Ways .. 65
66-74. Blocking Arrangements for Telpher Lines . . 77-86
75-77. Method of Mounting Block Wires . . . 87
78-80. Contact Maker or Circuit Closer . . .88
81-83. Governing Arrangements for Trains on Telpher

System ... . 90-95

84, 85. Brake Arrangement for Trains on Telpher System 96

86-88. Insulator for Use on Telpher Line . . .97

89. Single Unit Telpher Truck. . , . 99

90. Double Unit Telpher Truck . . .99
91-113. Installations of Wire Rope- Ways on the Running-

Rope System .... 103-131

114-133. Installations of Wire Rope-Ways on the Fixed-

Rope System .... 134-172

134-137. Installations of Wire Rope Ways on the Telpher

System .... 173-177

138-141. Installations of Wire Rope Ways for Hoisting and

Conveying .... 184-190

142, 143. Arrangements of Wire Rope- Ways for Coaling

Ships at Sea . . . 193-197

144-147. Diagrams showing Method of Calculating Strains

on Carrying Rope . . . 202-206

148-150. Method of Splicing Wire Ropes . . '.210

151. Ordinary Forms of Wire Rope Attachments . 215

152. Frame for Holding Reel of Wire Rope for Un-

winding . . . .. .220

153. Kink in a Wire Rope . . . . . 220

154. Improper Method of Uncoiling Wire Rope . 220

155. Wheel for Uncoiling Wire Rope . , .220





OVER fifteen hundred years ago wire ropes were known
to the Chinese, and were employed as rope-ways for
crossing rivers. It is also on record that aerial rope-
ways were used in the Middle Ages for the transmission
of goods. A book in the library at Vienna dated 1411
shows a drawing of a rope -way, and according to the
Danzig ''Chronicles" one Wybe Adam, a Dutch
engineer, constructed an aerial rope- way in that town
in the year 1644.

The advantages possessed by aerial or wire rope-
ways especially in mountainous countries for the
handling of materials, have now become so well under-
stood that it is unnecessary to expatiate upon them.
The system can likewise, though to a lesser extent, be
usefully employed for passenger traffic.

Amongst the more obvious general advantages
the following may be cited :

The unavoidable heavy outlay that would be
entailed in a hilly county by the necessity of making
tunnels, cuttings, and embankments for a line of rail-


way is avoided ; and an aerial or wire rope-way can
be constructed and worked on hilly ground at a cost
not greatly exceeding that which would be called for
on a level country. Rivers and ravines can be
spanned without the aid of bridges. Gradients quite
impracticable to ordinary railroads can be worked with
ease. The lines do not occupy any material quantity
of ground, a post or standard at wide intervals being
sufficient to carry them, and the intervening land
being left free for cultivation or other use. The cost
of a line is in all cases in strict accordance with its
working capacity. Floods or heavy snows do not
interfere with the working. A line can be moved
from one place to another with comparative facility.
And finally, power can be taken off at any point along
the line and utilised for driving machinery.

The principal applications of wire rope-ways have
been already mentioned in the Preface. Of these,
that to the working of mines is one of considerable
importance, and in this connection the advantages
derived from the use of a wire rope -way arranged
to both hoist and convey, for open pit mining such
as described under the head of Wire Rope-Ways for
Hoisting and Conveying cannot be over-estimated.
The superiority of open pit mining is well known, it
saves the great outlay otherwise required for timber-
ing, shaft sinking, pumping, ore breaking, and the
extra cost of blasting, and with an aerial or wire rope-
way, the opening can usually be spanned, and the
waste carried back to a hollow, thus admitting of the
over-burden being delivered directly to its dumping
ground. Where the pit is not deep some method of
working with an incline railway is frequently used,
but no matter how the latter may be laid down, a
certain amount of ore will be covered, and, moreover,


the tracks will have to be constantly cleared of
material thrown on them by blasting operations. The
cost of loading the railway waggons is besides far
higher than that of the shallow skips or carrier
buckets of an aerial rope- way.

In placer mining, the greatest difficulty experienced
is the handling of the earth deposits in the river beds
and streams, so as to work them to such a depth as to
get at the richest deposits, which lie near the bed rock.
This has been successfully performed by means of an
arrangement of aerial or wire rope-way on the hoisting
and conveying principle, working with special forms
of self- filling grab buckets, or of drag buckets.

Aerial or wire rope-ways have been also advan-
tageously used for stripping coal mines.

Another use to which wire rope- ways can be very
profitably applied is the carriage or removal of
produce from land. The most desirable of these
applications are perhaps those on sugar plantations
for the delivery of the canes to the crushing mills,
and on farms for the carriage of beetroot to the sugar
factories, especially the former, where the low prices,
due to the competition of beet sugar, renders the
adoption of every possible labour-saving contrivance
an absolute necessity.

An important feature connected with the use of
aerial or wire rope -ways for the above purpose, is that
the crops can be removed from the land by their
means without in any way injuring the latter. In the
case of sugar plantations, moreover, the uneven nature
of the ground is frequently such as to render the lay-
ing down of lines of railway from the cane pieces to
the works a matter of great difficulty, if not a total
impossibility, and such lines in any case demand the
erection of a greater or lesser number of bridges, are


expensive both in first outlay and in maintenance, and
take up and waste a considerable amount of land. On
the other hand, where no railway or tramway is laid
down, the saving effected by the use of an aerial or
wire rope-way as compared with cartage by mules,
horses, and oxen, and the roads and traces and
consequent waste of land, and cost of maintenance,
would be even more marked. In such cases, indeed,
the value of a wire rope-way is very great, and that
this fact is recognised by owners of large estates is
evidenced by the many installations now to be found,
not only in Demerara, where they have been in
successful operation for a number of years past, but
also in Jamaica, where many have inclines as steep as
1 in 3, Mauritius, Martinique, St Kitts, Guatemala,
Australia, and elsewhere.*

In almost every description of factory a short rope-
way or cable-way could be used with advantage, and
installations of wire rope-ways are now in use in
numerous places for connecting the different depart-
ments of factories which are situated at too wide a
distance apart to allow of being spanned by a bridge, or
where the intermediate space is occupied by buildings,
water, roadways, &c., which have to be passed over.
Such cases admit of a considerable saving of expense
being effected by the use of wire rope- ways, which latter
do away with the necessity of lowering goods from
the upper stories of works to the ground, and the
subsequent removal of these goods by a circuitous
route to, and elevation to a higher level at, their

In factory lines the ropes can be frequently sup-
ported at many points from brackets fixed to the walls
of adjacent buildings, thus effecting a saving of the
* See pages 128-135.


posts or standards that would otherwise be required ;
and the necessary driving power, moreover, can usually
be obtained from the shafting of the works.

At the present time short cable-ways or wire rope-
ways are in operation at most of the up-to-date print
works, and similar factories, in Lancashire,* also in
dye works, manure works, chemical works, linoleum
works, brick works, mills, and other factories too
numerous to mention.

Wire rope -ways provide both cheap and ad-
vantageous means of forming piers for loading and
discharging minerals, and other materials, from ships
and lighters, which in certain situations are forced by
the shallowness of the water to lie at some distance
from the shore. In the case of a cable -way or wire
rope-way, instead of the long row of piles that would
otherwise be necessary, all that will be required to
connect the shore with a point at deep water to which
the goods can be brought by barges or ships, are a few
posts or standards fixed in the bottom and rising to a
height of about 12 feet above the water, and which
posts may be placed at wide intervals (180 feet or
more) apart, a small group being provided at the deep-
water point to which the terminal can be fixed. The
motion of the wire rope can also be used for driving
cranes at the terminal points, as well as for carrying
loads to or from the shore, thus admitting of the
engine being located in a secure position on the shore
where it may be protected from damage through
storms, and, besides, permitting of the cranes being
run at so high a speed as to enable barges to be safely
discharged when rising and falling from the effects of
a heavy sea.

Numerous installations of this description are in
* See pages 125.


successful operation, such an arrangement being used
at the end of the wire rope-way at the Cape de Verde
Islands, at Russel, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, &c.,
which installations will, in a succeeding chapter, be
found briefly described and illustrated.


Different Systems of Aerial or Wire Rope-

Wire rope-ways may be conveniently divided into
two main or principal classes, viz., first, that wherein
a running or travelling endless rope supporting and
moving the carriers is employed ; and, secondly, that
wherein a fixed carrying rope and a light running or
travelling hauling rope attached to the carriers by
couplings or grips is used. In the latter case two
fixed carrying ropes are sometimes used.

These two main classes are further subdivided by
W. T. H. Carrington, M.I.C.E., a well-known
authority upon the subject, in his practice into five
different systems or arrangements, viz. : The endless
running rope with the carriers detachably connected
to the rope by means of saddles ; the endless running
rope with the carriers rigidly fixed in position upon
the rope ; the double fixed rope type with carriers
mounted on trucks or runners and detachably secured
at predetermined intervals to an endless hauling rope ;
the single fixed rope type with one carrier drawn from
one terminus to the other and vice versa by means
of an endless hauling rope ; and finally, two fixed
carrying ropes with an endless hauling rope by which
one carrier is drawn in one direction upon one carrying
rope, whilst another carrier is drawn in the opposite
direction upon the other carrying rope.
* Seepages 112-116.


When erecting a wire rope-way it is imperative
to carefully select such an arrangement as will be best
suited to the requirements of the situation. The
failures sometimes recorded are generally due to
makers insisting upon an universal application of one
particular type.

The Running or Endless Rope System.

This system, which is by far the most simple, was
invented by C. Hodgson about the year 1868. It is
cap;ible of advantageous application wherever the
amount of material to be carried does not surpass 500
tons per working day of ten hours, and the individual
loads 6 cwt. The inclines, moreover, should not be
steeper than 1 in 3, and the section of the ground
should not necessitate a longer span than 600 feet.

The endless running-rope type of rope-way consists
shortly of an endless wire rope, supported upon a
series of pulleys mounted upon strong posts or stan-
dards located some 200 feet apart, but with occasional
spans of three times that distance, the rope passing at
one end of the line round an arrangement of driving-
gear comprising a 6 or 10 feet diameter drum rotated
by steam or other power at a speed of about three
miles per hour, and at the other end round a similar
wheel or drum provided with tightening gear. The
loads are carried in boxes or receptacles hung on the
rope (by means of V-shaped saddles) at the loading-
end, the arrangement being such as to maintain the
receptacles and their contents in a state of perfect
equilibrium, whilst at the same time admitting of their
passing the supporting pulleys.

But one endless running rope is employed, which,
it will be seen, forms both the carrying and hauling


rope for the buckets. This system has been improved
from time to time, both by its original inventor and
also by Hallidie, Carrington, and others ; but although
apparently so simple, and decidedly the cheapest plan,
its successful working is a matter in many instances
of so much difficulty that it is being to a great extent
superseded by the fixed-rope system. It is still, how-
ever, pretty extensively used in Northern Spain and

The modified arrangement of the running or endless
rope system previously mentioned admits of steeper
inclines being worked, indeed it may be said that no
limit exists to the gradient that can be successfully
negotiated. This type of line is specially suitable
where sudden and continual changes of level occur,
guard or depressing pulleys being easily placed where
requisite without interfering with the passage of the
carriers, so that the vertical angle of the line can be
altered at each support or standard. The driving and
tightening gear and endless rope are arranged practi-
cally as before, but instead of the carrier saddles riding
on the rope and being retained in place by friction,
they are rigidly secured by a steel band or clip, or
other arrangement, so that they are fixed in position
and must follow the rope, passing round the wheels at
the terminals, instead of running on to shunt rails
as in the former case. For this reason the driving
wheel is usually arranged in the form of a special
clip-drum, and the tightening wheel is so formed as
to allow the carriers to pass round it with ease. The
carrier receptacles are as a rule unloaded by striking a
catch so as to either cause the bottom to open or the
whole receptacle to capsize or tip up.

The average cost per ton per mile for transport on
the running or endless rope system, including renewals


of parts and labour but not fuel, varies from threepence
to fivepence per ton.

The Fixed Carrying-Rope System.

This system was also devised by Hodgson, and
improved by Bleichert, Otto, Carrington, and others.
It comprises one or two fixed ropes and a correspond-
ing number of light hauling ropes. This plan admits
of very wide spans being made without support, and
a valley, river, or ravine of 3,000 feet and upwards
can be negotiated with ease. Wherever a sufficient
fall occurs, and it is required to transport goods or
material from the higher to the lower ground, the
power of gravity due to the loads can be utilised in
the case of a double fixed carrying-rope line to raise
the empty receptacles, and the line worked practically
as a self-acting incline. When, on the contrary, the
loads are required to ascend, or the line is practically
level, or in the case of a single fixed carrying-rope
line, motive power must be provided. A small amount
of this, however, will only be requisite for working a
line on this system, as the rolling load gives rise to
but little friction.

As above mentioned, aerial rope-ways of the fixed-
rope type are subdivisible into three classes. The
first, or that in which two parallel fixed ropes are
used, upon which carriers are arranged to run, and
are drawn along by means of a hauling rope, forms a
desirable arrangement in situations where over 500
tons of material have to be transported per day, and
where the individual loads surpass 6 cwt. The
inclines may exceed 1 in 2, and the spans 1,000 feet.

It may be here mentioned, however, that the
capacity of transport by the former system may be


indefinitely increased by grouping the lines where
the situation admits of it, an arrangement which
obviously possesses the advantage of practically per-
fect immunity from complete stoppage from break-

Briefly, this type of rope-way consists of two fixed
carrying ropes stretched parallel to each other about
7 feet apart, and supported by posts or standards
located about 300 feet apart, upon suitable saddle
castings. The carrying ropes are anchored at one
of the terminals, and are provided at the other with
some suitable form of tightening gear. The carrier-
travellers or trucks, which are fitted with steel-grooved
wheels to fit the ropes, run upon the latter, the
receptacles being suspended from these travellers by

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Online LibraryAlexander James Wallis-TaylerAerial or wire rope-ways : their construction and management → online text (page 1 of 19)