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Sky Rides, Ski Lifts, Gondolas, Aerial Trams

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This appears to have been pulled from the Cedar Point thread, where we were talking about the Skyride, and that kind of led to a tangent about other skyrides and similar rides. Thanks, Larry!


Well to be honest someone mentioned this existing thread, and a few people posted here. But the rest continued to post off-topic about other sky rides in the Cedar Point thread.

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Oh wow, I missed all this discussion since page 2.


I notice a lot of talk of sky rides lately. lol. It made me think what if they combined a coaster and a skyride. O.O I dont mean those ziplines with the little seats either but as full fledged thrill version of an enclosed sky ride/cable car. It would be an entirely new ride. Im so not an expert in physics so i doubt something like that would work but its cool to think about. Sky ride where the cables have steep inclined drops and even cork screws!


Did you know that ski lift is what inspired B&M for their inverted coasters? Being a Swiss company, and Giovanola having a business in sky lifts may have helped!

Many relations exist between ropeways and coasters. A bunch of manufacturer had both a coaster and ropeway business at some point.


And more specifically, do you know what a ropeway and an Intamin accelerator have in common? A lot!


First, the rails for the Intamin coasters are build by Stakotra... so are the towers for Doppelmayr!


A ropeway tower surrounded by Intamin track.


Second, the little wheels that guides the cables on Intamin launch coasters (and cable lifts) are made by... Garaventa, which is another ropeway manufacturer, and is part of the same group as Doppelmayr. So those wheels here are exactly the same as those at the top of the towers on a ropeway!


Here on Altaïr.


Finally, the planetary gearboxes used in the launch room of the Intamin coasters come from Kissling, which is well-known for making planetary gearboxes for french ropeway manufacturer Poma!


Here is a Kissling planetary gearbox (the grey thing) inside a Poma gondola station.



Now to answer at the very first post of this topic:


When I look at them they dont look safe because it's connected to a thick wire and it looks like a gust of wind can flip it over. [...] I mainly want to know how they stay secured to the wire thing. Can anybody clear it up for me?


Fear not, ropeways can handle heavy winds. I mean, the wind can flip over a chair/gondola, as seen here (and obviously the ropeway closes beforehand):



... but it will not neither rip off the vehicle from the cable, neither make the cable go away from the towers.


Here is a chairlift grip (pince LPA from Leitner/Poma):



It has a grip force of mutiple tons (sorry to be vague. I don't have the exact value and anyways tons speak more to people than Newton), so it can't be opened by wind, or if, say a bird lands on the lever. You can't open it by hand neither.


And second point, the cable will not go away from the towers because it's under a massive tension (about 40 tons for a small sky lift, and way beyond for bigger ones). So basically, the cable is sticking to the wheels at all time. I don't know if you ever paid attention to that, but sometimes, the wheels are even above the cable rather than under:



It wouldn't be possible if the cable was loose.


But anyway, for extra safety there are various devices and metallic pieces in case of the cable goes out of its wheels.

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Wow, Airtime on a ski lift, Who would have guessed. lol.

Haha, but you know, you can get airtime on ski lift in a more... safe fashion, I'd say.


Two exemples: The Aiguille du Midi cable-car is pretty famous for giving weightlessness each time you pass a tower, because of the change of incline. Hear the reaction of the passengers:



Even Wikipedia mention the very word airtime in its french article:





But another location where you can have airtime on a chair lift is Connyland, with their unfamous Mammut Tree. It's actually a pretty fun attraction, and its uses the principle of cable oscillation by making the motor go step-by-step. You can sometimes feel that in a real ski lift when they do an emergency stop, but here it's made on purpose and it's really fun.


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I have been on many sky lift rides but I have always wondered how they worked. When I look at them they dont look safe because it's connected to a thick wire and it looks like a gust of wind can flip it over. I know they are safe and I usually ride them but I have always wondered how they work. I mainly want to know how they stay secured to the wire thing. Can anybody clear it up for me? During the off season some parks bunch them up in the station or take them off. How do they do that?


I noticed this member hasn't been on for years but I feel some people still wonder and I want to clarify specifically on wind.


Number one point, ropeways and wind do not mix well. Granted some handle better then others (ex. chair lifts) but they all have limitations. Our particular installation, a pulse gondola, can technically run to 50 mph though you take a big hit at 30 mph and 45 we start clearing the line. I've been told that typical gondolas have roughly the same limitations. That being said we would never run the lift if we felt the winds were a danger to other people and itself.


But, every once in a while, crap can hit the fan very fast. Our tram is subject to a mountain that amplifies wind pretty well. We have three wind veins to monitor winds. As the wind increases we slow the tram down according to this chart:



Most often the tram starts throwing faults as well. A fault is when the tram thinks something is wrong and stops itself. During a wind event these will be CPS (cable position) faults. There are two of these sensors on each side of a tower. When it gets winder both of the sensors fault resulting in this:



If they reset, we continue on reducing the tram speed further. However if they do not, then the haul rope has most likely moved out of position. This usually occurs when cabins are near the tower. We first establish visual contact with the tower confirming the haul rope has not left the sheaves. Then we do one of two things:


1.) If the cabins have not passed the tower or on it, we bypass both systems and run at 100 fpm. The goal is that the weight of the cabins sets the haul rope back into the middle of the sheaves. 9/10 this will work and we resume normal operations, but if not...


2.)...or the cabins have passed the tower, we go with plan b. Maintenance will go to the tower to set the haul rope back into place. There is a ladder on each tower and using a harness they gradually ascend the tower. Once on the top they will proceed to the correct side. Then using what is a huge crowbar, move it back into place. This happens a few times a year and depending on the tower they can do it in as little as 10 minutes, and even less sometimes.


So, is it possible for the haul rope to completely leave the sheaves? Absolutely, the main cause would be a sudden wind spike and/or change in directions. (Or simply running it too fast for wind.) Other example include a malfunction of a sheave, and cabins being swung by guest. When the haul rope leaves the sheaves, it is called a deropement. I wish I could tell you deropements never happen, but they do. I can't pull an exact number for you but I'm sure there are a couple every year. So why don't you hear about most of them? Simply because most never result in much. That is because on each tower are a handful of cable catchers.


These guys are responsible for catching the haul rope if it leaves the sheaves. They are designed as such so if carriers are passing by, they will slide on over as the tram comes to a stop. We as the operating personal can tell if a deropement occurred if we have not only the double CPS fault doesn't reset, but also a Tower Zone Cutwire Fault. The cutwire is exactly as it sound, there is one on each side of the tower below the cable catcher. When the haul rope falls, it literally cuts a wire setting off the fault. Our tram is seperated into four zones particularly. So if I saw this:


Tower 7 Sys 1 LS CPS

Tower 7 Sys 2 LS CPS

Tower Zone 2 Cutwire


I know that there is most likely a deropement on the Tower 7 Light Side. (The downhill side.) Again, we will establish visual contact with the tower to confirm the condition. Maintenance will then start the same procedure as if they were moving the haul rope back into the position. Except they will use a come-along to put the haul rope into place. Think of it as a winch. They lift the haul rope up, then glide it back on the sheaves. After that is done, a special procedure is used to bypass the cutwire fault as since the wire is cut, it cannot reset. Once we clear the line, the cutwire is then replaced. In our state, after that is done, as long as it was wind related, we can continue to load the tram. If it was other reasons, the tram will not re-open. Regardless we must within a certain time frame write a report to the CPTSB (Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board) about the incident.


Towers most prone to deropement are lift towers. These are the most common towers in which the haul rope is lifted above the ground, the haul rope runs over the sheaves. Much less common are depression towers. You'll find these most of the time these at the bottom of lifts. The purpose of these is to make sure the haul rope does not go to far up, the haul rope runs under the sheaves. On towers in which the force of the haul rope is nearly equal in up and down forces, sheaves may surround the haul rope on each side.


I'm not going to lie, there is always the chance the the haul rope can completely fall off the tower. This would most likely happen if the main axle failed catastrophically, not wind. The haul rope is heavy enough that it takes a massive force to actually throw it off the tower. Like many other things, you are far more likely to get injured or killed on the way there. Our system and other modern lift ways are extremely efficient and safe. There are hundreds of sensors that monitor everything right down to the bullwheel liner. We have several state inspections a year to ensure that not only our lift is safe but our personal is trained properly and correctly. As the trainer, I take my job very seriously, I do not give an okay until I feel confident that that person can run the lift safely not only in normal situations, but emergency situations as well.


I hope that provides some closure on wind issues and safety. If you have any other questions with anything to do with ropeways and such, please feel free to ask and I will answer to the best of my knowledge. I will never give false information. Below is a picture of a typical tower with terminology. I will be posting my "report" later this week. Stay tuned.


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