Jan 16, 2014

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Inventing Wire Rope

Wire rope has many uses. Since its invention in the early 19th century, it has continued to be applied in a variety of different and even astounding ways. On its way from there to now, it has undergone several modifications and improvements to make it the durable and popular item it is today. Wire rope in CT and across the United States owes much to brilliant and dedicated inventors, dabblers, scientists and engineers.

Early European History of Wire Rope

Every history of wire rope begins in Germany with a single man – William August Julius Albert (1787–1846), a Harz mining official. He worked hard between 1824 and 1838 to find some way to improve mining transportation. His work involved the twisting together of 3 strands of wire to create a “rope.” This was put to use in the silver mines of the Hartz Mountain. The rope became known as “Albert Rope.”

The difficulty or preparing Albert Rope made its initial use a brief one. However, in England, an inventor, Andrew Smith, came up with another variation. It became used in 1840 to replace hemp haulage on the Blackwall Railroad in London. Robert Newall, also English, seized his chance to improve production methods of the Albert Rope. He came into conflicts with Smith but later resolved them when the two merged. Newall’s manufacturing of wire rope was faster and mechanical.

Early American History of Wire Rope

While Germany and England were creating their versions of wire rope, the same process was happening in the United States. A German immigrant, John Roebling, also a surveyor, began to produce wire rope for use by the Allegheny Portage Rail Road. Coal companies in other states began to use wire rope. CT was not one at the time but New York and New Jersey were. In San Francisco, the son of Andrew Smith, now calling himself A.S. Hallidie, went into the family business by opening a wire-rope business. In 1857, he began to work on improvements on mining tramways.

Meanwhile, Roebling had already gone beyond the accepted uses of wire rope. He used it to construct first the Allegheny River Aqueduct and, later, the Brooklyn Bridge. Hallidie also was involved in building several suspension bridges. Hallidie also arrived at a variation of equal-lay stranding. While Roebling had arrived at a three-size method, Hallidie’s version was called the California Cable. Roebling may have had his Brooklyn Bridge, but Hallidie will be fondly remembered for what he accomplished for San Francisco in 1872 – the now renowned cable-car system.

Those who use wire rope in CT, CA and around the globe owe a lot to these early inventors. There developments built on earlier discoveries to create a product used in a multitude of ways. Their innovations helped to create an industry and benefitted industries, consumers and regular individuals around the world. Get in touch with Bilco Group for more details!

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