June 15, 2009

The Cable Car Museum

As Melissa mentioned we visited the Cable Car Museum on Saturday. It was relatively small and easy to take in, but quite fascinating at the same time. The fairly primitive technology behind the cable cars is remarkably clever.

Melissa & Fig at the Cable Car Museum
Melissa & Fig at the Cable Car Museum

There are three operating cable car routes in San Francisco (California, Powell-Hyde, & Powell-Mason), but there are four separate lines (California, Powell, Hyde, & Mason). The museum lies roughly in the middle of these four lines. In addition to the cable car museum, this building also houses the motors and pulleys that actually operate the cable cars.

Motors pull the cable cars
510 HP electric motors pull four steel cables (three pictured) at 9.5 mph, bearing the load of every cable car in the city

Cable & grip
This display shows how the grip clamps onto the cable under the street.

Motors motors keep the wheels turning. A system of large underground pulleys allow the cables to turn corners.


Unknown said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the cable cars are one of the coolest parts of San Francisco.

gutzville said...

I watched a documentary about the cable cars...
They seem like the worst form of transportation invented. Their brakes are actually pads of wood rubbing on the rails. I guess it dosent matter when your MAX speed is 9.5 MPH. Maybe ill just walk.

Ragfield said...

If you had visited the museum you would know they have four completely independent braking systems: cable grip, pads on rails, pads on wheels, and emergency backup that shoots into the ground so hard it has to be cut out with a blow torch. Keep in mind this is 19th century technology and they were far more reliable and safer than the horse drawn carts they replaced.

mike3k said...

All the times I've been to San Francisco, I never took a ride on a cable car, although I think they're one of the coolest things about San Francisco.

I love the turnaround at Powell & Market, where the drivers get out and turn it around to go in the other direction.