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Thomas J. Chaump
FCF Schmidt Public Relations



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.

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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 their needs."


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 cars.


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.




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