PHILADELPHIA GEAR CELEBRATES SAN FRANCISCO CABLE
CAR 20-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Five reduction gear units provided to power 130-year
old rail system
August 11, 2003 (Norristown, PA) - Philadelphia
Gear Corporation, a full-service provider of gearing and power transmission
solutions, celebrates the 20-year anniversary of providing reduction
gear drives that power the San Francisco cable car system. The reduction
gear drives were built as part of a massive rehabilitation effort
undertook by the city of San Francisco in 1982 to refurbish their
world-famous cable car system.
The $58.2 million rehabilitation effort included the
replacement of 69 blocks of trackway, along with a number of underground
structures that had been crumbling from old age. The cable car barn
and powerhouse - a National Historic Landmark and current home to
the Philadelphia Gear drives - was also rebuilt.
In all, five 300 horsepower gear drives were
supplied for the project, one month earlier than the expected
completion date. The drives were installed to transmit power
from an electric drive motor to the cable drive pulley, coupled
with the four cables used in propelling the system's three
separate cable car lines.
The Philadelphia Gear drives were designed for
continuous service, and have operated 20-plus hours a day,
365 days a year since their installation. The unique drives
were designed using 1900s-style housings and nameplates to
match the 130-year old rail system, while utilizing the most
advanced gear technologies of their time. The units were built
to last 100 years, using carburized and precision ground pinions
and through hardened and finish ground gears - an essential
combination for quiet operation and long service.
"Philadelphia Gear is as proud today of
our work in refurbishing the world-famous San Francisco cable
car system as we were 20-years ago when we first provided
the reduction gear units," says Carl Rapp, President
and CEO, Philadelphia Gear Corp. "Our involvement was
a fine example of an ideal that still rings true today - the
closer you are to your customer, the better you can serve
The cable system that powers the San Francisco
cable car system is one of the last of its kind in use today.
The cables that the cars are attached to pass over 14-foot
diameter sheaves - grooved wheels - which guide the cable
beneath the streets over which the cable cars run. Large electric
motors provide the driving force to turn the sheave system
through the Philadelphia Gear reduction gears and drive shafting.
These gears reduce motor speed and increase motor driving
force to propel the cable at a continuous speed of 9.5 MPH.
The cable cars' grip mechanism extends down under the street
through a narrow slot - the cable car operator can either
engage or disengage the grip mechanism to in order to stop
and start the car so passengers can get on and off the cable
A founding member of the American Gear Manufacturers
Association (AGMA), Philadelphia Gear offers products and
services found in use worldwide; from conveyor gear drives
used in long wall coal mining operations, to emergency repair
services critical to the power generation industries. The
company serves thousands of customers across the globe from
its regional service and manufacturing facilities in New Castle,
DE; Birmingham, AL; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; and Los Angeles,
CA. Philadelphia Gear is headquartered in Norristown, PA.
For more information on Philadelphia Gear, call
1-800-766-5120, fax 610-337-5637.