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Thursday, March 4, 2010

10-04-03 PHOTOS: San Francisco 2010 - Part 2: Cable Cars

Yeah, you know I couldn't resist going back to San Fran and not having another jag on the cable cars. Those things are like railfan crack what with the eternal running boards and primo railfan views. Over my last two trips I had generally explored the system so this time I wanted to look at things a little more in depth. So I decided to spend a little time at the diamond crossing at California and Powell as well as to visit the cable car museum which, I discovered, does not charge admission so I didn't have to spend an afternoon there.

This part will have more pictures, not so much text, but I'm sure it will appeal to folks who like those kinds of things. Like last time you can view the entire set of San Francisco photos here, the Cable Car photos toward the photos.

We'll start off with a pair of videos showing MUNI #3 and #9 being turned at the Powell turntable. Yeah yeah its a tourist trap. Whatever.

Here we see #9 before it was turned in the tree lined terminal area.

#20 at Post Street with another car in sight at the top of the hill.

Which happened to be #21, shown here at the bottom of the great incline.

It's video time again as we climb the great incline to the summit at California Ave where we have the famous diamonds with the Cal Line.

The California Line is the one with the double ended cars like #60 here crossing eastbound.

The crossing is controlled by this cute little interlocking tower things which signals the northbound cars when they can begin their ascent because as they crest the top of the hill it is somewhat impractical for them to stop for crossing traffic. The crossing is a 4-way stop for road vehicles who must yield the right of way to crossing cable cars. The tower handles right of way for the cable cars with a small indicator panel.

Both directions of the Powell line stop on the north side of the street as #12 is seen doing here.

Here #12 demonstrates the procedure for crossing the diamonds. The California cable is superior meaning that the crossing Powell cars have to let go of the cable and pick it back up again. This is accomplished by dips in the track that not only cause the cars to roll forward across the dead section, but allow the grip to reach the cable again. You can see the difference in elevation between the "Let Go" and "Take Rope" markers here.

Northbound cars have it a little easier as they can just pick up the cable at the beginning of the downward slope where the car stops to pick up passengers as #20 does here.

The California Line cars don't have to do anything special at all as the grip can engage the cable all the way through the crossing as #56 does here.

The conductors on these cars do more than collecting a pay check and occasionally opening and closing the doors. They are responsible for working the tread brakes that slow the heavy cars on their harrowing descents.

Here Cal Car #57 makes the crossing with the Transit America building in the background.

Car #27 making the crossing southbound here.

Cal Car #56 making the climb to its summit west of the crossing. Incidentally the Cable Cars weren't the only interesting out on the road. While out fanning I caught a Maserati, a classic Z-Car and an Aston Martin

Next it was on to the Jackson Diamond where the Bay St line diverges from the Beach line. Here #20 takes the turn off down the Bay St branch.

Here we see #14 on a southbound Bay branch route moving past the Mason-Jackson diamond toward the junction with the Beach line in front of the cable car museum.

Speaking of the Cable Car Museum, it consists of the carhouse and power house with various viewing areas and displays. It's a great way to see some of the behind the scenes things that make the system work. There are a total of four ropes, California, Hyde, Mason and Powell and here are the Mason and Powell ones.

They are each powered by ~600hp General Electric motors with the power being transmitted through gearboxes made by the Philadelphia Gear Company.

Here is a video of the motors and sheaves in action.

And a side view of the same showing the tensioning runout.

The tensioning system involves sheaves on rollers that move forward and back depending on how much load is placed on the ropes. This creates a constant tension.

I found some of the diagrams extremely useful. If you didn't know how the grip system works, now you do.

Here is the routes of the 4 ropes, showing which curves are pull and which are let go. The California Line cables even have a deadhead segment.

Here is a diagram of the sheave room under the intersection of Washington and Mason.

Leaving the museum we find how the Mason-Jackson diamond lines up with one of the towers of the Bay Bridge.

Muni #18 crosses the diamond heading north.

Here we have #12 making the same crossing on video this time.

At the start of the steep uphill grade on Jackson the cable is forced toward the top of the slot making it easily visible and exposing how much the cable can bounce and move around.

Also at the diamond we can see the two cables crossing over eachother.

Traveling to the Beach terminal we find a line of cable cars waiting to be turned.

Along with some sort of go cart that is definitively not an Aston Martin. 

On a different morning I traveled out to the Bay branch terminal where I found #11 being turned.

I will bring this set to a close with a local Fred G taking a photo of the Bay Terminal lineup. 

Thanks for bearing with me and the large amount of photos. I wouldn't bother posting them if I often had this many shots of rail transit vehicles. Anyway stay tuned next time for a special trip on NJT's Atlantic City Line.

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