Yosemite Incline Model

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by petzold, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. petzold

    petzold New Member


    I search for information on modeling the cable haul incline for the Yosemite Incline. A steam powered winch pulled the cars up the hill without a locomotive. In attempting to model this Incline: How does one couple and uncouple the cars at the bottom and top of the incline?

  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The issue is that knuckle couplers (both prototype and model) require "slack" to uncouple - there cannot be tension on the couplers for them to release. You would have to set up the incline with the right grade at each end to allow the cars to have the slack for the couplers to release. Or set up a pin that could be raised to hold the lower car in place while uncoupling. The prototype would establish slack on a grade through the use of car brakes or wheel chocks.

    Once you can establish slack, uncoupling can be done by reaching in with pick or magnets, magnets under or in the track, or an electro-magnet - just like normal uncoupling.

    Prototype-like link and pin couplers are pretty difficult to use manually in HO scale, but are reasonably practical with manual means in O scale. Again, slack has to be present to remove the link.

    my thoughts, your choices
  3. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    a possible soulution

    Back @ the dawn of time, when I was a teanager I toyed with the idea of making an incline. In my tests what worked best was a plastic dummy coupler. I glued a little flat piece of styrene on the top of the knuckle, so that when it was slid on a kd, It wouldn't fall through the other coupler,

    I shortened the mounting shank, and drilled a hole for the cable- I think I used carpet thread or button thread- can't remember, my mom saw me trying to work with something else, and got the good stuff. I also drilled a tiny hole in it and had a small brass wire sticking up, to make it easier to un couple and couple the cable.

    I went off to college, my folks moved. and I never built that incline

    pictures of my RR are @ Eastern Tn logging on the DG CC & W RR 1928 The Little River RR in what is now the Great smokies national park did incline with modified Surry-Parker skidder-loaders. I briefly entertained building one of those, but to run a line to the only posible location would have problematic, compromising the Valley division engine facilities and the incline would have taken up my storage shelf area, so at least so far, I have resisted the temptation,

    Bill Nelson
  4. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    In Chattanooga, IIRC, the cars never uncouple except maybe for maintenance. The cable is doubled back, one car on each end. One goes up while the other comes down. It is a quite ingenious arrangement.

    The ascending and descending cars operate on the same track, except for one passing section. The "turnouts" do not move. One of the cars has wheel flanges on the inside of the rail. the other car has wheel flanges on the outside of the rail. The cars are directed to opposite routes of the passing section by the wheel flanges. No "switch machines":thumb:!

    Of course, this is just a tourist lift. Yo Semite is a whole different ball game!!
  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    My map of the Caspar, South Fork, and Eastern RR (operated by Caspar Lumber Co in Northern coastal California) shows 3 inclines along the line. No pictures in the book, though. :sad:

    When I visited Cape Hinchinbrook Lighthouse (entrance to Prince William Sound, Alaska) in 2002, I found quite a rail tram setup to get supplies to the light. The first stage had rails laid on the dock. At the end of the dock was a crane to lift supplies from the barge/boat/ship to the tram car. The dock was curve about 60 degrees halfway along its length. The tram car was winched along the dock rails by a donkey setup in a boathouse just beyond the head of the dock. There were idler capstans to assist with winching around the curve.

    At the head of the dock was a small turntable. There the tram car(s) would be turned 90 degrees to align with the incline up the 800ft hill. This was about a 1/2 mile run including crossing a stream via a small wood trestle to climb the 800ft to the cliff where the lighthouse was located. A winch house contained another diesel or gas powered donkey to winch the cars up the grade.

    At the top of the grade was a switch - the straight track went into the winch house. The main track went around a 210 degree level curve to the actual lighthouse support buildings. I assume the tram cars were pushed by hand around this level curve.

    Gauge of the rails appeared to be 30 or 36 inches, with rail about 3.5" high. I didn't have a camera because we flew out there rather suddenly by helicopter on a rare weather window to do a survey for microwave link improvements. wall1 My concern was making sure the survey team got the right data. But I did have a chance to walk the incline grade and the dock before we had to depart due to incoming weather. Some of the ties in the wetter areas were pretty rotten, and the trestle scared me. The donkeys were rusted hulks, although inside the intact buildings.

    The 1964 Anchorage earthquake raised the seabed about 15 feet where the dock was (and washed Old Valdez at the head of the Sound into the sea). This make the dock unusable at lower tides, which cut back the resupply openings. And when the lighthouse was automated in the 1970s, the whole tram and incline system was abandoned. I'm not sure how the generator fuel gets there now - probably tractored up from a barge on a beach. Everything else - maintenance crews, parts, etc - comes in by helicopter. The crane has fallen off the end of the dock, and lays sitting in the water.

    But a little imagination shows what great feats of engineering those old lighthouse keepers were capable of. And what a busy place it must have been with the operational tram and incline, keeping the light going, and just taking care of business in some of the world's most miserable weather.

    just my experiences

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