Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ding Ding-Cable Cars

An iconic San Francisco Cable Car in action
Living in the Bay Area one thing that visitors always talk about and want to ride are the cable cars in San Francisco. I must admit that I have (by memory) only ridden them a couple of times in my life even though I have spent most of my life living in the Bay Area. I have always thought of them being a tourist thing to do and just found other means to get around San Francisco.

One thing I just found out is that there is a Cable Car Museum. Now, I am a nut for museums and such so I decided to check it out one day last week. And of course, the best way to get there is by Cable Car.

Cable Cars have been an important part of travel in San Francisco for about a 140 years. Andrew Hallidie tested and promoted the first line in 1873 and the Cable Cars have been a part of San Francisco since.

The oldest Cable Car in the world. Car No.8 from the original 1873 fleet
An old Cable Car destination sign
At one time the city of San Francisco tried to move and get away from Cable Cars but the Cable Cars were saved and about 30 years ago the system was rebuilt. And thank goodness it was.

1881  Trailer No.54, one of the Cable Car system shopping rides
A Cable Car Stoplight

The inside of a Cable Car 2012

Cable Cars are simple yet quite complex in how the operate. They run along tracks that are pulled by an underground cable. The system works by cable traction which is a process involving the use of an endless cable or wire rope, that is kept in motion throughout the route from a central power plant. The cable itself is carried beneath the streets at a constant depth by an intricate system of pulleys, bars and sheaves. The cars themselves run at a constant speed of 9 1/2 miles per hour.

The central power plant of the system
Another view of the central power plant of the system
The Cable Cars themselves are interesting as it is equipped with a vice-like grip. The car moves forward when the "Gripman" pulls back on the lever which closes the grip on the moving cable. When the Gripman wants to stop the car they simple disengage the grip from the cable.

A Cable Car grip

A Cable Car Gripman doing his thing

1 comment:

  1. Oh this is VERY cool! So the cables no longer run above ground like back in the old days, hmmm.


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