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Riblet Tramway Company Along with a Partial History of Ropeways

Riblet history clip

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#1 Kelly

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 01:30 PM

This post has a major edit from orginal

The Riblet Tramway Company was a leading chairlift manufacturer for many years and was also associated with the iconic insert grip (clip).
Given is a partial history with other ropeway milestones to give the readers a deeper view of the ropeway industry in this time period.
The dates and name references should be viewed as starting points for additional history investigation and should not be taken as exact references...

1400s DaVinci tests different wire – based on failures he suggests multiwire “strands” will offer higher strength capabilities.
Attached File  1400-wire-test.jpg (98.17K)
Number of downloads: 27
1806 Larger gears powering a large rope winch are shown on an elevated terminal... William Lester (British) shows this geared ropeway hoist powered by horses, portable in the sense that the legs are adjustable, has clutch in the system (not shown but described) text: machine to convert rotary power in mines...almost looks like a modern drive terminal.
Attached File  1806-Lester.jpg (98.96K)
Number of downloads: 36
1814 Scottish civil engineer and bridge builder Thomas Telford investigates catenary spans with variable weights and wire diameters. In this picture notice the angled end terminals and the tension counterweight much like a typical ropeway. Telford is associated with over 20 bridge designs or builds.
Attached File  1814-Telford-testing.jpg (166.18K)
Number of downloads: 36
1824 Early documented application of calculus by Marc Seguin and his brother is used to “engineer” the tower support “reaction forces” and loads at each point of the spans of an early iron “parallel strand” or parallel wire suspension bridges in France. Telford was building a suspension bridge (iron bars not wirerope) at this time, calculus was used by another engineer to persuade him to change parts of his empirical design which he considered better to be designed as artistic.
Attached File  Calculus-the-first.jpg (98.67K)
Number of downloads: 27
Parallel strands are still used to this day in bridges along with calculus ropeways. Seguin no-doubt copied the geared endless loop hoists used by Italian constructors in the 1400s to “pull” those wires into place. A ropeway to construct a ropeway...shown is a geared hoist from the 1440s.
Attached File  1430-Hoist.jpg (97.31K)
Number of downloads: 29
Construction ropeway to be used for laying suspension wires for the Golden Gate bridge 1936 – picture courtesy of AP
Attached File  Golden-Gate-wire-spinning.jpg (77.61K)
Number of downloads: 38
Typical Seguin bridge built in 1844.
Attached File  Seguin-1844.jpg (99.13K)
Number of downloads: 37
1824 Wire rope use is documented powering an Italian mine’s inclined hoist.
1830s Wire rope is substituted for iron chain (chain substituted the quick to rot manila rope) in German and British mines – both are also spliced for an endless loop or to extend the rope. An earlier use (1760) of iron rope (this was quite crude by today’s standards) can also be found with the British Navy and their substitution of chain in ship lightning rods. The “iron age” revolution spurs the quality and quantity of “iron-rope”. Typical iron chain of the day.
Attached File  Brunel-ship-and-chain-hoist.jpg (178.39K)
Number of downloads: 3
1838s Andrew Smith tests wire-rope against manila rope (see Telford above), tests iron wire for lightning protection on British ships.
1830s A very smart American engineer (later to become an industrialist) Peter Cooper builds a wire ropeway to more efficiently move earth to fill-in some swampy land he just purchased near Baltimore Maryland – this scheme is surely very similar to Adam Wybe’s 1640 construction (rope) ropeway.
Attached File  Adam Wybe History.pdf (405.83K)
Number of downloads: 1
1839 A wirerope factory opens in Sweden
1844 British engineering literature document use of wire that was 6x6 (six strands of six wires each) 3” in diameter for a quarry.
1848 Industrialist Peter Cooper in an interview to capture some of his company’s history describes ropeways he built to move iron ore – this one is dated to around 1848
...Some years after, I desired to transport iron ore from the mines that I
then owned to some bloomery fires that had been erected on the property before
the Revolutionary War and, in order to pass this ore down to the bloomery fires
by its own weight, I erected triangles about two hundred feet apart through a
very stony, rough gorge in the mountain, and by having long arms to this long
triangle that I placed in the valley, these triangles were intended to support
a continuous wire of some six miles in length. This wire was about five-sixteenths
of an inch in diameter. This wire was supported the whole line,
about two hundred feet, with grooved wheels to sustain the wire, and then I
placed buckets fastened to this wire about every certain distance apart, and
these buckets were intended, as the thing was revolving as they came along by
the heaps of ore with men standing ready, to throw the lumps of ore into these
buckets and their own weight would cause the thing to move and carry the iron
ore down to these bloomery fires. This thing was erected some sixteen or
eighteen years ago, and after I had erected that I found almost right away that
I had no use for them. The method of making iron blooms had so changed that it
was found we could make iron ore much cheaper by running the ore through a
blast furnace than it could be made in the bloomery fire. It was never used
only just sufficient to test it and show that it would go. Since that time
certain persons have patented the same thing in Europe and it has been adopted
in a great many places for a great variety of purposes for transporting
different things from one place to another, and I have been so told that they
carry things sixty miles in England, and more--the same thing that I had made
and never patented some twenty-two years ago...
Cooper has a number of ropeways and treats these as mere tools to assist with more efficient iron production. Cooper also designed one of the first powered railway engines in the growing United States. Also invented Jello...no really.

Next: Smith and Smith Jr. some other Countries and the Riblets – yes more than one.

#2 Kelly

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 08:25 AM

I have inadvertently left portions out in the first post due to copy-paste issues on my part – it’s now reposted - Kelly

Next: Smith and Smith Jr. some other Countries and the Riblets – yes more than one.

Big rope Attached File  Big rope sample.jpg (110.05K)
Number of downloads: 26


#3 RibStaThiok

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 06:07 PM

look forward to it.

#4 Kelly

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 10:34 AM

1750-1860s In man’s quest to lower friction we develop the wooden rail that a wheel can ride on. This wood rail cart is pulled by a one horsepower engine. The arrow points to the brake lever that pulls a wood block on the wheel for down-hill loads – horse gets a rest on the downhill section...1960s chairlifts have this brake design, some Riblets still do.
Attached File  Rails-Wooden.jpg (91.13K)
Number of downloads: 20
Iron becomes more affordable, wood becomes more scarce; wood rails are substituted by better wearing iron. We argue about the proper gauge (width between rails) until 2018. This shows a cart or tram powered by a one horsepower engine. Less friction equals more work from the engine...idea still works today.
Attached File  Rails-Iron.jpg (99.13K)
Number of downloads: 25
Public tired of walking in mud and sewage quickly adopt the iron rail horsepowered engine concept. This has an upgraded two horsepower engine.
Attached File  Rail-Public-2-horse.jpg (99.94K)
Number of downloads: 24
Thinking of rain or snow the horsepowered trams are now are designed with a roof.
Attached File  Rails-two-horse-with-roof.jpg (90.87K)
Number of downloads: 29
This form of transportation becomes quite popular in larger cities – smooth ride, no mud or sewage, new types had roofs, these things could also haul 20 times the load compared to a wood wheeled wagon...except when the horses had to go uphill. Rollbacks on steep grades killed many horses. Same is true with chairlifts...even today.
1836 London City Council releases a bid towards a new design on a fiber rope powered tram to tackle the problems of rollbacks and cruelty to horses that was occurring with steeper iron rail trams in the Blackwall region. The rope powered iron rail tram was based on mining trams that used ropes or chain winch systems in steeper grades.
1839 Andrew Smith has a number of wirerope patents along with a improved powered wire rope strander machine. Smith’s later Marketing/Engineering charts compare wire rope up to 6 inches in diameter. Shown is a typical concept of stranding rope from smaller spools.
Attached File  Strander-early-type.jpg (99.5K)
Number of downloads: 37
Smith’s patented strander
Attached File  Smith-Strander.jpg (99.61K)
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1840 Blackwall tram is finished; This had steam engines at each end powering large 17’ diameter winch drums on both ends pulling the cars as needed. This was not an endless loop but rather a large single fiber rope of 5 inches in diameter.
Attached File  1842-Blackwell.jpg (99.73K)
Number of downloads: 29
For those students of history, a crude phone was used to signal the engine operator at each end. Again with more history; the first wraps around the drum were a bronze rope spliced into the 5 inch fiber rope – the Egyptians used the same idea for rope in a high stress area back in 1 BC. Blackwall was one of the first passenger trams powered by wire rope, well sorta see below.
1842 Fiber rope is changed completely to iron rope in the Blackwall tram. This wirerope is described as having multiple strands, weight of 3lb per foot and having approximately 200 individual wires. Other trams of this nature are built in the same region. It should be noted that this invention or refinement of human transportation also occurred in Europe and America about at the same time and was largely a copy of the shorter mining cable railways mentioned earlier. In a few years cheaper wirerope is available, the complicated arrangement of two engines is changed to one and a complete loop of wirerope is now powering the trams. As a side note - patents were applied to this tramway; the originator might not have been aware of the 1824 William Swendon’s patent to pull detachable grip tramways up inclines by wire or chain. History repeats itself.
Attached File  Large-dia-rope.jpg (99.82K)
Number of downloads: 21
Attached File  Big rope sample.jpg (110.05K)
Number of downloads: 21
1846 Jean-Baptiste Chomel A French inventor’s patented drawing gives us a wire ropeway showing: vertical bullwheels, substantial end terminals, carriers, grips, guidage for loading and unloading of carriers. The top view shows 4 vertical bullwheels, shaft and bearings between bullwheels along with 3 carriers that hang between the bullwheels...it was powered by gravity much like Peter Cooper’s orginal horizontal bullwheel ore tramways.
Attached File  Chomel.jpg (95.8K)
Number of downloads: 23
1847 Peter Cooper relocates his iron making company from Baltimore to Trenton New Jersey – Company name is now Trenton Iron Works. (Trenton is up the river or bay from Philadelphia) Cooper’s son-in-law William Hewitt takes a prominent position in the company (company also referred as Cooper-Hewitt).
1848 Cooper persuades John Roebling to build a wirerope factory in Trenton...Roebling later builds the Brooklyn Bridge and by 1858 Roebling had 3 bridges in the Pittsburg region. He uses the same style of construction ropeway that was used in the Golden Gate bridge to install suspension ropes and what the Seguin’s used starting in the 1820’s for their bridges. This image is from the 1930’s showing the concept of ropeway spans used for suspension cable spinning.
Attached File  Bay-bridge-spinning-1930s.jpg (99.22K)
Number of downloads: 24
1850 Ropeways associated with mining and quarrying now have terminals up to 6000’ long or a 12,000’ loop of wire rope.

Next: 1851 to 1870

#5 Kelly

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 05:50 AM

1850s In large mills fiber rope drives were favored for speed reduction and have less alignment issues compared to gearing, they successfully transmit quite high horsepower loads in the covered factories but don’t do well when wet as the rope slips and stretches.
Attached File  Rope-drive-2.jpg (99.25K)
Number of downloads: 17
1852 Andrew Smith and son (...son named Andrew Smith Jr. but later he renames himself after his uncle Andrew Hallidie) move to California along with other miners to seek their fortune in gold. Didn’t find much gold but made money elsewhere – see below. The term “cable railway” is now being used in numerous engineering literature.
Where the lack of available coal or firewood to feed steam engines is problematic, wire-rope drives powered by water turbines are first used. This gives us the first developments of: large bullwheels for wirerope, bullwheel liners, rope tension, long spans and friction calculations, these are refined to help capture as much as possible of the rotating power to be transmitted to and from the rope. All of this stuff is even a big deal today with ropeway design. Shown is an 1850s image of a water turbine-bullwheel-rope that powers a factory.
Attached File  Rope-power-1-better.jpg (117.01K)
Number of downloads: 29
These rope drives became quite sophisticated, this one powered many factories in a town in Switzerland in the 1860s. Add an electric motor, flip some gearing and you would have a chairlift from the 1950s.
Attached File  1860-Schaffhausen.jpg (97.58K)
Number of downloads: 30
The tension bullwheel of this system also has the makings of early chairlifts. Red is the tension chain going back to the weight that counters the pull of the rope (aka counterweight) the bullwheel “carriage” wheels (blue) ride on the carriage rails (green). Counterweighting wire rope is necessary for rope friction around the drive bullwheel, tower loading and span/catenary height...same for chairlifts even today.
Attached File  1860-Early-carriage.jpg (99.44K)
Number of downloads: 23
1856 Adolph Leschen starts a manila rope manufacturing plant in St. Louis, soon adds iron ropes – factory becomes quite large at 33 acres. Leschen later has 4 large distribution centers equally spaced across the United States. Leschen purchases patents from other ropeway manufacturers and later goes into tramway construction.
Attached File  Leschen-Plant.jpg (99.16K)
Number of downloads: 20
1856 Henry Robinson applies for a British patent on a monocable ropeway – at the same time a ropeway was built by him to transport coal from various small mine pits along a long coal seam located in a region of soft ground. The ropeway was powered by a geared water wheel; sheaves and terminal foundations were found at the abandoned mine site in 1972. Footings for towers were found to be 180’ apart. Image courtesy of Northern Mine Research Society.
Attached File  Robinson-sheave-1972.jpg (94.54K)
Number of downloads: 23
1860s Tommso Agudio builds one of the first Italian mine/hoist railways powered by wirerope – company later sells to the upcoming Leitner Corporation.
1860s Franz Von Dücker German mining engineer builds one of Germanys first ropeways over a small river canyon – local officials said fearful of ride.
1866 A British Aerial Carriage (a wirerope ropeway) patent is applied for by Charles Hodgson. Hodgson’s well put together drawings are often associated with the invention of the ropeway and look exactly like or one could say he copied Henry Robinson’s patent. Hodgson starts the Wire Tramway Company of London.
Attached File  Hodgson-advert.jpg (98.6K)
Number of downloads: 26
1860s With a deeper understanding of the iron manufacturing process, the carbon content is better controlled, this leads to high quality (and perhaps more important cheaper) steel. Within a few years steel-rope is substituted for all iron-rope applications.
1860s Portable steam engines are evolving – horsepower now exceeds 10-20. This tractor had a planetary gear reducer built into the rear wheel – smoke and noise made these impractical to pull rail trams in town...or to drive any great distance. All chairlifts (well most) now have planetary gear boxes to rotate their drive bullwheels.
Attached File  1860-Tractor.jpg (99.59K)
Number of downloads: 17
1860s Cooper, Roebling, Hodgson and Leschen start to advertise their expertise in producing aerial wire tramways.
1860s Byron Riblet and brothers Walter and Royal are born.

Up next: More builders and Riblets

#6 teachme

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Posted Yesterday, 12:04 PM

Thanks Kelly,

Your post are so often very informative and interesting reading.


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