By Kris De Decker , originally published by Low-Tech Magazine January 26, Shares These days, we use them almost exclusively to transport skiers and snowboarders up snow slopes, but before the s, aerial ropeways were a common means of cargo transport, not only in mountainous regions but also on flat terrain, with large-scale systems already built during the Middle Ages. Cargo tramways can be fully or partly powered by gravity, and some deliver excess power that can be utilized to generate electricity or to drive cranes or machinery in nearby factories. Some innovative systems have been constructed in recent years. Before we start, it is important to note that aerial ropeways also known as aerial tramways or cableways can be divided in two groups: monocable and bicable mechanisms. In a monocable system, one endless rope serves to both support and move the carriers in transit. Ancient and medieval ropeways were of both varieties, while modern ropeways from the s onwards were initially exclusively monocable systems.
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Since the first cable car of Alpe di Siusi History The foundation of the Alpe di Siusi cable car was a pioneering work, since the idea of a connection between Ortisei and the overhanging Alpe with a difference in height of meters dates back to ; the construction, at that time, seemed a very futuristic enterprise. The choice then shifted to a classic bicable aerial ropeway similar to the systems built at the time in the Alps.
In , the two wooden cabins started the first race for the first time. The transport capacity of the plant built by engineer Zuegg of Lana was only 16 people, but for the first time any person from Ortisei could reach the Alpe in a few minutes. A true revolution. In , the cable car was modernized, with the extension of the valley station and new cabins, no longer in wood later covered with sheet metal , but completely in sheet metal.
Winter tourism began to develop in the following years and it was necessary to increase the capacity of the cable car to eliminate the long queues that formed in the valley station. In , the ropeway was completely rebuilt by the Hoelzl company on a parallel track, meters long and with a maximum capacity of people per hour, thanks to the larger cabins.
A new modernization, in , allowed the replacement of the cabins and the electric drive control. The travel takes about 5 minutes in cabins with 9 seats and 6 standing places. The ropeway was completely modernised during the twenty-yearly review in Unlike many systems in the world, this installation is a two-rope system, which is quite rare today, There are two separate ropes, with different functions: A track rope, anchored at both stations, that supports the weight of the cabins A traction ring rope pulling the cabins This solution makes it possible to overcome large spans with few supports, as in our case, and to ensure greater stability in cross winds, compared to monocable systems.
The cabins are equipped with 4-wheel carriages that run on the track ropes, and an automatic grip that closes on the pulling rope in the line, releasing it in the stations, where the cabins are driven by conveyors consisting of rubber wheels moved by electric motors. The underground drive is located at the mountain station; in the valley station you can see a hydraulic cylinder in the centre of the station, which moves the tensioning pulley of the traction rope.
To reduce the length of the station there are two return pulleys. The track ropes are anchored in both stations, and there are no counterweights.
The ropes are supported by two towers, respectively 16 and 32 meters high. The safety and operating signals between the mountain and valley stations are transmitted via the traction rope loop using a conveyor wave system, which uses the rope as a conductor.
There is also a guard rope, inside which are integrated optical fibers and copper conductors for lightning discharge, and which supports the spheres of the air obstacle alert. In the event of a power failure, there is a generator to guarantee energy for many hours. In case of failure of both main engines, there is a third hydraulic motor to bring the cabins back to the stations at reduced speed. In the rare case in which it is not possible to move the entire system, two rescue trolleys are placed on the upstream support, which can be lowered along the track ropes and allows the passengers to descend back to the stations.
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Aerial ropeways: automatic cargo transport for a bargain
Since the first cable car of Alpe di Siusi History The foundation of the Alpe di Siusi cable car was a pioneering work, since the idea of a connection between Ortisei and the overhanging Alpe with a difference in height of meters dates back to ; the construction, at that time, seemed a very futuristic enterprise. The choice then shifted to a classic bicable aerial ropeway similar to the systems built at the time in the Alps. In , the two wooden cabins started the first race for the first time. The transport capacity of the plant built by engineer Zuegg of Lana was only 16 people, but for the first time any person from Ortisei could reach the Alpe in a few minutes. A true revolution.
Detachable Grip Bicable Ropeway System
History How it works The first use of ropes to transport people was in China in the 16th century. In those days they had to use rope until steel cable was invented in People used these ropes to cross bodies of water, initially transferring themselves, hand over hand, with the body suspended by a crude harness. The next application was to pull oneself in a basket. Although Fausto Veranzio of Venice designed a passenger ropeway in , the ropeway industry generally credits Adam Wiebe, a Dutchman, with erecting the first successful operational cable car system in The first urban mass transport application of aerial ropeways in the United States was in with the Roosevelt Island cable car system built in New York City.