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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: 48
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: 64
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: 63
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: 52
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: 51
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: 61
Typical Seguin bridge built in 1844.
Attached File  Seguin-1844.jpg (99.13K)
Number of downloads: 61
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: 19
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: 5
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: 44


#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: 33
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: 38
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: 35
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: 39
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: 47
Smith’s patented strander
Attached File  Smith-Strander.jpg (99.61K)
Number of downloads: 46
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: 36
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: 28
Attached File  Big rope sample.jpg (110.05K)
Number of downloads: 31
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: 37
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: 36
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: 36
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: 61
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: 65
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: 48
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: 32
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: 38
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: 46
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: 33
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 15 December 2018 - 12:04 PM

Thanks Kelly,

Your post are so often very informative and interesting reading.


#7 Kelly

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 07:43 AM

1855 Andrew Hallidie using knowledge gained from working with his father builds one of the first wire suspension bridges in California at the age of 19. Local wire is hard to source and Hallidie starts to produce his own wire soon after based on his father’s patents and designs. Hallidie is associated with many suspension bridges but wire was a key source of income. Shown are bridges of his built in the 1860s.
Attached File  Pine-1.jpg (84.75K)
Number of downloads: 26Attached File  Pine-2.jpg (98.54K)
Number of downloads: 31Attached File  Fraser-better.jpg (90.36K)
Number of downloads: 27
1856 Roebling starts with one of his first major bridges at Cincinnati, Ohio. A bit more grand than Hallidie’s.
Attached File  Roebling-Ohio.jpg (99.43K)
Number of downloads: 34
1860s Andrew Hallidie familiar with mining regions and steep river canyons now begins to build his first mining aerial tramways.
1870 Austrian Theobald Obach patents his bicable ropeway – the company later sold to Pohlig (see 1873)
1870 Andrew Hallidie builds a cable drawn street-car with new grip improvements in San Francisco – now hailed as the inventor of cable cars. See 1842. Hallidie profits greatly from wire rope sales as mines and street cars need new sets of ropes at frequent intervals.
1872 Adolf Bleichert a German engineer builds an early mining ropeway that was an improvement over his solid bar transport hoist system. He founds Bleichert ropeways with his college associate Theodore Otto. Otto later markets similar ropeways under the Otto name in North America.
1873 Julius Pohlig a German engineer builds an early mining ropeway.
1880s This Theodore Otto drawing shows a quite sophisticated design of a double powered “turn station”. Powered by a steam engine turning a large ring and pinion that then goes to shafts (shown in green) that power the bullwheels.
Attached File  1885-Otto-B-PP.jpg (355.47K)
Number of downloads: 41
1883 Wirerope drawn carriages riding on steel rails, now termed “cable cars”, are commonly used for mass transit in Minneapolis Minnesota.
1885 Bryon Riblet completes college with an engineering degree at University of Minnesota. He works for several railroads in various engineering capacities while making a “job migration” westward towards the Pacific Northwest.
1886 Wirerope drawn cable cars are in use in Spokane (Spoke – cann) Washington and are even more popular in cities with steep streets like San Francisco California...same engineer different towns. Some are direct drive from water powered turbine gearing – the rope speed is controlled by the flow. There is some engineering irony in that direct drive water turbine ropeways are like those first used in Switzerland and Germany in the 1850’s shown below.
Attached File  1860-Schaffhausen.jpg (97.58K)
Number of downloads: 41
1886 Byron Riblet is associated with dam and irrigation construction along with the electrification of (problematic) cable drawn “cable cars” or cable tramways in Spokane Washington. Dam construction of this era gives us a good look into this style of construction ropeways in this time period. This one is by Leschen.
Attached File  Leschen-Dam-const.jpg (99.42K)
Number of downloads: 48
1888 A 16-year-old machinist apprentice starts work in San Francisco. He would later start the Western Gear Company – this company was used by Riblet as a primary gear reducer for about 30 years. Big company (think Apple computers of the day) between 1920-80. A Western gearbox powers the Seattle Space Needle rotating restaurant. Of course we will have wait until 1962 before that happens. Image shows the restaurant turntable test at Western’s Everett Washington’s factory. Gearbox is directly across from the folks having their dinner.
Attached File  Western-Gear-Manual-cover.jpg (98.06K)
Number of downloads: 71Attached File  Space-Needle-Turn-Table.jpg (98.19K)
Number of downloads: 82Attached File  Space-Needle-Sky-Ride.jpg (78.95K)
Number of downloads: 61

Next: Bryon receives an invitation to engineer a water turbine plant in a mining town north of Spokane...or so he thought.

#8 Kelly

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 10:22 AM

Before following Bryon’s trip its helpful to “set the stage” as he would pass by a ropeway just built by Hallidie on his first trip up north to the mining town...due to the length of this post it's in two parts.

1870 Hallidie summitted one of his (many) patents for aerial ropeways – shown is the grip.
Attached File  Hallidie-1870-grip-submitta.jpg (98K)
Number of downloads: 56
His tower sheave arrangement - Arrow points to a smaller “idler” sheave – Riblet used a very similar if not exact copy of this idler sheave many years later for towers with light tower loading.
Attached File  1870-small-sheave.jpg (98.79K)
Number of downloads: 84 Attached File  Idler-sheave-modern-style.jpg (95.96K)
Number of downloads: 69
1872 Byron Riblet attends Middle School
1872 Engineering and Mining Journal gives a cost breakdown on a Hallidie mining tramway.
¾” wirerope = .24 per foot
Wirerope installation charge = 300.00
Tower with sheaves = 30.00
Grip with stem (carrier for ore is an optional item) 6.00
Bullwheel 200.00 (each)
The Journal also has an ad for a “Hoisting System” by a man named Otis – hard not to ride in an elevator these days that isn’t built by the Otis Corporation.
Also a Hallidie ropeway is featured on the front cover of the Journal in 1872. Notice this is a “mono cable” ropeway.
Attached File  Hallidie-EMJ-1.jpg (133.78K)
Number of downloads: 55
The rope “grip” and upper hanger look very similar to Riblet’s early chairlifts.
Attached File  Hallidie-EMJ-2.jpg (99.38K)
Number of downloads: 59
The full article also explains turn stations and crossover stations that are needed due to accommodations of extreme terrain – turns and crossovers are now seen on modern ropeways.
1877-93 Henry Timken a builder of horse carriages and suspension parts is concerned about failing wheel hubs; invents a tapered/cone shaped roller bearing that is able to take side loads and also greatly reduces friction. Henry and his family did quite well – Timken corporation is a multibillion-dollar company now located in 33 countries – Tapered roller bearings now exist in all chairlifts – they were a selling point of Riblet chairlifts. Image shows a tapered/cone roller bearing in a wood hub in Timken’s early-early carriage design.
Attached File  Timken-Carriage.jpg (99.99K)
Number of downloads: 69 Attached File  Timken-wood-tapered-roller-.jpg (98.22K)
Number of downloads: 72 Attached File  Timken-Modern-style.jpg (99.8K)
Number of downloads: 73
1886 Hallidie files for a patent in September for an internal clip for wirerope. The patent text explains the clip is “woven” into the wirerope. He explains this clip supersedes the external type wirerope grip for aerial tramways. The strands have to be “untwisted”. Once the wirerope is untwisted a section of (hemp) core is removed. The clip is then slipped into place. The wirerope is retwisted (or relaxed) to capture the clip that has been woven into the rope. Hallidie goes on to explain he recognized a vaguely similar system was to be found on cable railways but his has better merit for ropeways. The drawings are quite clear for this design and it should be noted the clip is also designed for sheave clearance and along with the hanger design the load force is directly under the haulrope. Riblet tramway company eventually copies the best features of this 1886 design (and others see below) and the clip is still sold today.
Clip Attached File  Clip-1.jpg (99.29K)
Number of downloads: 69 Hanger and Carrier Attached File  Clip-2.jpg (99.28K)
Number of downloads: 55
Patent Page Attached File  Clip-3.jpg (99.95K)
Number of downloads: 56
A picture of the clip taken from Hallidie’s tramway sales brochure.
Attached File  Hallidie-Clip-sales-brochur.jpg (99.85K)
Number of downloads: 72
A picture taken from modern day sales brochure.
Attached File  Clip-4.jpg (96.31K)
Number of downloads: 76
A modern day untwister – this uses hydraulic cylinders to grab the rope and at the same time pull it together (de-tensions) to open or “bird-cage” a short section of wirerope. The industry refers to this machine as a “detensioner”.
Attached File  Clip-5.jpg (94.22K)
Number of downloads: 73
Slightly different design of detensioner, arrows point to the ends of the rope core - this is removed before inserting the clip. In both pictures the large rams for pulling the rope together are off frame...
Attached File  Clip-6.jpg (99.76K)
Number of downloads: 63
1889 Vulcan Iron works of San Francisco (Vulcan, the god of fire, is a common name for iron works in the time period, seems like there a Vulcan iron works for every major city) starts to advertise tramway specialties. Vulcan specialized in large tanks, boilers and also made early train engines.
Attached File  Vulcan-ad-1.jpg (99.12K)
Number of downloads: 64
Not surprisingly Vulcan is just down the street from Hallidie’s shop. Notice it is a mono cable ropeway that uses clips for grips. Also notice the “guide hoop” at the bullwheel – this feature was also used on many Riblet chairlifts. The ad is from an engineering magazine from 1893.
Attached File  Vulcan-ad-2.jpg (98.61K)
Number of downloads: 78 Attached File  Vulcan-Riblet-return-guide.jpg (99.95K)
Number of downloads: 77
San Francisco was a messy place in the 1880s. Steam ships are just starting to replace sailing ships. Not much gravel for roads as of yet...
Attached File  Vulcan-ad-3-train.jpg (98.64K)
Number of downloads: 66
Bartlett McIntire of Vulcan describes his new ropeway “clip” for attaching carriers to the rope.
McIntire built 2 very long mining tramways in Mexico (the 1884 tram had his design - the earlier tram that he built used Hallidie’s internal clip...this was long before patents were applied for). McIntire wrote about those experiences in detail (link will be given in last post). Here is a picture of McIntire’s clip along with use instructions.
Attached File  Vulcan-ad-4-grip.jpg (83.84K)
Number of downloads: 59

Next: Part 2 of the trip...

#9 Kelly

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 12:29 PM

Part 2 see above for Part 1...

1890 Capitalizing on the need for heavy castings and machinery needed for mine smelters Colorado Iron works of Denver comes into play. They provided everything needed for mining...that included tramway services (much like Vulcan). Christopher Finlayson sold the rights of a number of his tramway patents to the Iron Works (full service for all your mining needs). The Iron Works advertises the Finlayson Aerial Tramway...now with “improvements” on old designs.
Attached File  Colorado-Iron-Works-advert.jpg (99.86K)
Number of downloads: 22
The Iron Works grew to 1000 employees during World War 2 – This image is from the 1890s and it shows it was certainly large enough to produce tramway parts.
Attached File  Colo-Iron-Works-buildings.jpg (97.04K)
Number of downloads: 34
1892 Bartlett McIntire of Vulcan Iron works files for a patent on their rope clip used in 1888.
Attached File  Clip-7.jpg (99.99K)
Number of downloads: 50
1893 The Noble Five mine (along with many other nearby mines in British Columbia) has the potential for large silver concentrates and is documented in mining journals of this time period.
1895 Hallidie’s company sells to Washburn and Moen Co the oldest manufacturers of wire in the United States (established in 1831). A significant change in the ropeway industry in the time period as Washburn’s background was mostly wirerope not ropeways and the Hallidie tramway company would soon fade away. W&M would later be bought by US Steel in 1900.
1895 Folklore and early newspaper articles have it that Bryon Riblet is contacted about a building a tramway in Sandon, British Columbia in this time period. That folklore goes on to say that he assumes it’s like the street car trams he was working on in Spokane.
Sandon is about 200 miles north of Spokane and a long way from anywhere else.
Summit Lake Ski Area now exists just north of Sandon: https://skisummitlake.com/
In 1892 Silver and lead were found in the mountains near Slocan Lake. At that point in time no railway or the town of Sandon existed. Image shows the cross-section of those mountains with the Silver veins. Tight little valley... in the town they ran out of room and they just built a street over the creek.
Attached File  Sandon-xsection.jpg (100.38K)
Number of downloads: 58
Based on Sandon’s potential of their mining district (soon to be one of the richest mining districts in the world at 32 Billion dollars of Silver) I think the more true story is he knew quite well what existed at Sandon and was asked to engineer or build the “new style” of turbine electric power station (much like what powered the new style of electric plants in Spokane) for the Noble Five mine...and while he was their the self-employed engineer also was asked if he could give a price on a much needed (snow stopped winter operations) mining tramway. Sandon would eventually have eight water driven power stations for all the mine work happening about town. Byron’s skills were well needed at this mine and others in the region.
Map showing Spokane to Sandon with the big town of Nelson in between.
Attached File  Sandon-Nelson-Spokane.jpg (97.65K)
Number of downloads: 66
Nelson is significant because a Hallidie tram goes to a smelter located right downtown...and Byron would have surely been interested as it was being constructed in 1895-96. The Hallidie ropeway in Nelson was in multiple stages at a colossal length of 23,797’.
Transfer station – arrows show lower towers. Attached File  Nelson-Transfer-station-arr.jpg (91.6K)
Number of downloads: 75
Lower terminal at the smelter Attached File  Nelson-Lower-Term-at-Smelte.jpg (99.98K)
Number of downloads: 75
White Water Ski Area is just a ridge over from the old mine: https://www.skiwhite...about/our-story
Beautiful Sandon shown between frequent floods and fires. Notice the folks walking on Sandon’s one and only road – not much room for anything else.
Attached File  Sandon-BC.jpg (98.66K)
Number of downloads: 69
The mine that Byron Riblet was called to was named the “Noble Five”. It was actually up the river from Sandon starting just on the other side of a huge avalanche run-out area in a flat spot that would eventually be called Cody. Image shows Sandon and Cody truly in the bottom of the sharp valley...Cody should be renamed Don’t Live Here Ville as old news articles talk about frequent avalanches killing workers and closing the road to Sandon and the rest of civilization for many days on end.
Attached File  Cody-1.jpg (69.96K)
Number of downloads: 77
1896 Arthur Painter working for Vulcan Iron Works files a patent for a slightly different design of interior clip.
Attached File  Painter-Clip-Patent.jpg (99.95K)
Number of downloads: 68
1896-7 Byron Riblet builds his first tramway at the Noble Five mine.

Next: Riblet’s first tramway with specs and pictures

#10 Allan

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 11:55 AM

I wonder if Riblet was involved with this one. It's about 300m from my house, up the south side of Red Mountain.

Attached File(s)

- Allan

#11 Kelly

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 11:23 AM

I'll follow-up with Allan's post a bit later...

Newspapers of that era give us a running commentary of Byron Riblet’s contribution of one of the first tramways in the valley.

The Provence (Vancouver newspaper) September 1896
B.C. Riblet returns to Spokane after surveying Sandon mine site for concentrator, water turbine and tramway, going to Denver to investigate for tramways and concentrators for best purchase...

The Paystreak of Sandon and Cody - September 1896
Offices built and 70 men working on mine and tramway at Noble Five mine...

The Paystreak of Sandon and Cody - December 5, 1896
Noble Five application for water rights to operate a power plant for electricity for various mining operations...

The Paystreak of Sandon and Cody - January 1897
Noble Five Tramway Up and Running at Full Capacity – Concentrator is powered by electricity run by a water turbo and is one of the first in the region...

Mining - The Journal of the Northwest Mining Association (published in Spokane) April 1897
Long description of Noble Five tramway... does not mention Riblet but does mention this is a Finlayson tramway, giving many specifics.

The Paystreak of Sandon and Cody - July 1897
Riblet designs water system for Cody and Sandon that dovetails off of water turbine plants already installed by him

Noble Five tram specs:
Slope Length: 6100’
Vertical rise: 2100’
Tower Spacing: 30’ to 900’ (900’ span crosses the lower slide path mentioned in the upper post)
Tower Heights 40’ to 80’
Highest Span: 443’ (lower slide path)
Type: Bicable ropeway
Heavy side support rope dia: 1-1/8”
Light side support rope dia: 1”
Traction rope dia: 3/4”
Carriers: 52
Carrier Load: 700 lbs
Carrier spacing: 244’
Carrier timing: 75 seconds (fully loaded line)
Ropeway Power: Gravity
Capacity: 400 tons/24 hours
Tram Type: Finlayson
Manufacturer: Colorado Iron Works Company – Denver Colorado
Cost: Tramway and Lower Concentrator $45,000
Location of mines and trams in the Sandon region. Washington mine tramway was built a few years before and is one of the first in the area.
Attached File  Sandon-Mines-n-Roads.jpg (99.36K)
Number of downloads: 44
TT and BT mark the top and bottom terminals of Byron’s first tramway as seen by today's Google Earth. The tram line is the “darker” newer trees, notice the lower slide path.
Attached File  Noble-Five-line.jpg (98.61K)
Number of downloads: 45
Side profile with general mine entrance
Attached File  Noble-Five-side-profile.jpg (99.45K)
Number of downloads: 50
Grainy picture of upper terminal area – probably taken from switchback road that still exists.
Attached File  Noble-Five-upper-terminal-a.jpg (99.26K)
Number of downloads: 61
The tramway and concentrator were rebuilt 3 different times as prices became more favorable, any remains of the tramway probably come from the 1950s rebuild. Arrow points to the tower, notice the power lines and at this time the railway was removed.
Attached File  Noble-Five-1950s.jpg (81.6K)
Number of downloads: 75

Also from the Mining Journal Magazine...


...Noble Five tramway is so safe and works so perfectly that a party of ladies recently went on the trip to and from the mine. An aerial spin of this kind is indeed a treat running well...

(Sandon had many lady houses...)

Video capture of a lower tower at Noble Five from 2018
Attached File  Noble-Five-lower-tower-vid-.jpg (99.45K)
Number of downloads: 73

https://www.youtube....h?v=AbqDpxLFxr8 (5:53)

#12 Kelly

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Posted 05 January 2019 - 07:24 AM

And his next mine...
Nelson Tribune - August 1898
Last Chance Mine – Lines being cleared for new tramway

The Ledge Newspaper - December 1898
Last Chance Tramway to be completed in a few days...

The mine entrance was about the same elevation as the Noble Five mine and just west – this location also facilitated missing the road and rail closing slide path at Cody.
Manufacture: Finlayson
Length: 6,500 ft long
Rise: 4,000
Longest Span: 2,800’ (track rope tension terminals were added on each side of this span)
Grip: Fixed (ropeway was stopped for unloading – mine was smaller and had a much lower capacity)
Arrows mark the towers Attached File  Last-Chance-towers-marked.jpg (137.28K)
Number of downloads: 57
At the lower terminal the carrier can dump into a hopper that dumps right into the rail car (this was preferable method seen in many places) There is no concentrator at this site. Also notice the “ramp” to the left of the terminal – common chairlift loading ramps of the 1960’s looked very similar to this.
Attached File  Last-Chance-LT.jpg (98.17K)
Number of downloads: 85
Side view of lower terminal, arrow is a carrier full of lumber heading to the mine – this is one of the first pictures of a Byron Riblet built tramway moving a load “uphill”. I have added photo corrections to unmask these previously unseen items...
Attached File  Last-Chance-LT-with-lumber-.jpg (98.42K)
Number of downloads: 72
At bit of bad news for the tramway...
The Paystreak Newspaper - July 1900
Rich vein found - 150 men to be hired, Lower terminal consumed by fire, tramway damaged, Byron Riblet wired (telegraphed) to commence immediate construction and repair of tramway terminal...

Next: A tramway competitor passes but more appear...

#13 Kelly

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 10:18 AM

1900 Andrew Hallidie passes on April 24 but his name lives on... In San Francisco a few prominent places are: The Hallidie Plaza (Market Street cable car turntable) and the Hallidie Building (in the city’s Financial District). In his later years he funded near 20 different institutions with almost 10 remaining today. Andrew copied some of his father’s traits by patenting every new design he had. He also made a pretty good attempt to monopolize the street tramway market (by license agreements with those patented designs) with, it seems, every city in the United States. Savvy guy.
Attached File  Hallidie-Plaza.jpg (98.64K)
Number of downloads: 28
1900 Washburn and Moen who bought Hallidie’s company in 1895 flip the company to US Steel in 1900. Short list of tramways that US Steel built in this time period are mostly of Hallidie’s design but often labeled - California Wire Works - Hallidies old company.
1900 The terms “tramway accident and or fatality” now appear each month in archived searches of BC newspapers...
1880-91 Remember that steam engine tractor (really just a portable steam engine) from the 1860s that certainly had huge problems with traction.
Attached File  1860-Tractor.jpg (99.59K)
Number of downloads: 44
Using a “smaller” steam engine two companies named Best and Holt independently “further develop” the “looping track-around-the-wheels” driven tractor (others had older and better ideas but Best and Holt had commercial success). They would later combine to form Caterpillar. Best guess is about 50 ideas from the tracked tractor still exist within the ski industry.
Attached File  Holt-tractor.jpg (99.87K)
Number of downloads: 42
1900 Daimler using a combustion engine fueled by a type of newly available mineral oil builds one of the first trucks in 1896 – design is improved and now has the power of 10 horses and holds 2 tons of material – mine owners take notice and horses rejoice.
Attached File  Daimler-Truck-Ad.jpg (99.98K)
Number of downloads: 41 Attached File  Wire-Rope-Transport-by-Hors.jpg (98.09K)
Number of downloads: 34 Attached File  20-Mule-team.jpg (99.77K)
Number of downloads: 46
1901 February - Attracting the attention of bigger tramway manufacturers, Riblet goes to St. Louis to prebuild a Leschen tramway for an installation in Peru. Riblet had been using Leschen wirerope in some of his installations so this association would not be unusual. Active silver mines still exist in the Salpo mining district of Peru to this day. Pic comparison is modern rebuild of an old tramway breakover tower in this region.
Attached File  Salpo-Peru.jpg (98.28K)
Number of downloads: 72 Attached File  Breakover-tower-set.jpg (99.67K)
Number of downloads: 73
1896-1902 Numbers vary but by this time Riblet has built at least 10 tramways in the British Columbia silver mine area. Around 100 active mining claims in just a 10x40 mile region of steep mountains with winter snow make this a rich arena for tramway builders.
1902 Newspapers now refer to tramways built by Byron as “Riblet Tramways”
1902 Mining journals show advertisements for 5 different tramway manufacturers just in British Columbia alone. Riblet and Leschen’s ads are often on the same page.
Attached File  Riblet-Lechen-Advert.jpg (124.36K)
Number of downloads: 57
1902 The “Nelson Branch” of the Riblet Tramway Company is now mentioned in newspapers. Bryon hires his brothers to work in Nelson for the new Company. The house/office still exists to this day and is referred as the “Riblet House”.
Attached File  Riblet-Nelson-Advert.jpg (99.24K)
Number of downloads: 36
1902 January - Leshun wins a contract to build a copper mine tramway in Wyoming – they select Riblet’s company to do the installation work.

Next: One really long mining tramway

#14 Kelly

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 12:28 PM

1900 Just before Hallidie passes he patents a slightly newer style of insert clip, labeled in the patent application as a “conveyor attachment for ropeways”. The older clip in the application is shown as a comparison in relation to the new design.
Patent pages Attached File  Hallidie-1899-clip-patent.jpg (145.52K)
Number of downloads: 66

Notice the hanger style/shape is very similar to the 1960-70s Riblet version – each redirecting the load directly under the haulrope.
Attached File  Hallidie-hanger-vs-Riblet-6.jpg (99.64K)
Number of downloads: 75
1902 Early Spring: Riblet brings British Columbia construction crews to start on a very long ore tramway for the Ferris Hagerty Mine in the newly formed town of Greater Encampment (4 houses and 3 tents) near the southern border of Wyoming. The tramway is commonly referred to as the “Encampment Tramway” as it passes through the town...
Attached File  Encampment-location.jpg (99.81K)
Number of downloads: 61
The ropeway lift line was cleared of trees over the snow in upper elevations (common practice in modern times due to environmental concerns) to meet construction deadlines.
Total Length: 16.5 miles
Total Rise: 3,490’
Cost: $365,000.00
Sections: 4
Tension terminals: 16
Double Tension terminals: 4
Tallest tower: 69’
Two towers built of steel
Number of towers: 300+ (not to be taken as an exact number – varies by publication)
Highest span: 250’
Longest spans: 2,200’ - 2,000’ - 1,200’
Highest elevation change: 900’
Heavy Side Rope: 1.25”
Light Side Rope: 7/8”
Carriers: 840
Carrier Capacity: 740 lbs
Carrier Spacing: 200’
Ropeway Capacity: 948 tons per day
Drive terminals: 3
Drive terminal power: Coal fired steam engines (coal is “uploaded” to drive terminals – this would be one of the first Riblet built ropeways to have regularly scheduled uphill loading)
Capacity: Is great enough that a second smelter is built
Hourly rate for construction labor: .25
Topo map of lift line
Attached File  Encampment-topo-G-earth.jpg (255K)
Number of downloads: 65
Double tension terminal – wood boxes filled with rocks and scrap metal.
Attached File  Mid-tension-station.jpg (99.12K)
Number of downloads: 86
Typical drive terminal – red arrows point to the plain (rather than roller) bearing. Commonly called a “Babbitt Bearing” – the name comes from the alloy inventor Isaack Babbitt for this sleeved bearing. Auto crankshafts still have sleeved bearings, many early chairlifts had the same style of bearing. “Grease once a week or else...”
Large babbitt bearing modern times* Large babbitt bearing
Blue arrow shows a large bolt clamping the bullwheel to the shaft – All Riblet chairlifts had this exact style of clamp on at least one bullwheel. The large ring gear and smaller pinion gear were common to many early chairlifts – very noisy and greasy.
Attached File  Encampment-terminal.jpg (99.5K)
Number of downloads: 107
1906 At the Encampment smelter a couple of fires slowed production and later copper prices fell by one half, the original owners had sold or flipped the mine by this time, more flipping happened within a few years. By 1908 the mine closed and the company(s) holding the financing (and peoples stock money) went bankrupt.
A museum with a tramway tower mockup is displayed in the town today. Encampment also holds the: Sierra Madre Winter Carnival, Woodchoppers Jamboree, Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering, Living History Day, Copper Days Festival and Chug-n-Tug Tractor Pull.
State of Wyoming’s Encampment webpage top picture gives us one of the mines upper tramway terminals with miners and tramway mechanics. Notice mans best friend with bone in his mouth...
*encampment miners at terminal
Some of the towers were still standing in the 1990s – notice a haulrope that is still supported from a tower off camera...
Typical tower
Attached File  Encampment-lower-towers-to-.jpg (99K)
Number of downloads: 112
Notice lap joint (red arrow) and tower number (6) and vertical leg marked “D 6” which probably means downline leg for tower 6
Attached File  Encampment-tower-D6.jpg (98.94K)
Number of downloads: 56

Next: Byron Riblet’s ideas

#15 passengerpigeon

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 07:36 PM

Does anybody have a full list of Riblet Tramway Co. installations, at least in terms of ski lifts? I would like to find out where the "lost Riblets" that once ran in New Zealand were as well as confirm or dispel the rumor that one or more of their chairlifts were installed in Japan.

#16 sheave

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 07:49 AM

I'm also looking for that list, but I didn't get a response from D. Sowder or Superior Tramway. Please let me know if you find one.

This post has been edited by sheave: 06 April 2021 - 07:50 AM

#17 iceberg210

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 08:14 AM

Howard Anderson (lift engineer) might also have a list, I know he put together a list of the Riblet service bulletins back in the day
Erik Berg
Bald Eagle Lifts: Defying Gravity

#18 sheave

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 09:41 AM

I just sent him an email. Would be great if he can help us.

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