The cable car is pulled on rails by latching onto a moving cable inside a channel beneath the street. The cable is guided by an intricate system of pulleys and sheaves (large pulleys). At the powerhouse, huge winding wheels driven by 510 horsepower electric motors pull cable loops at a constant speed of 9.5 miles per hour.

Through a slot in the street the car grabs the cable with a big vice-like lever mechanism called a grip. To start the car, the gripman pulls back on the lever which closes the grip around the cable. To stop the car, the gripman releases the grip and applies the brakes.

Each cable car has 3 types of brake systems: wheel brakes place pressure directly on the wheels with steel brake shoes, track brakes which are 2 foot long pieces of Monterey pine mounted between each of the wheel sets that press down on the track, and a slot brake - an 18 inch steel wedge that gets jammed into the the street slot to bring the car to a sudden stop (for emergencies only).


1.  Emergency Brake Lever
2.  Track Brake Lever
3.  Wheel Brake lever
4.  Grip Lever
5.  Emergency Brake
6.  Adjustiing Lever
  7.  Grip
  8.  Bell
  9.  Rear Wheel Brake Lever
10.  Track Brake
11.  Wheel Brake
12.  Cable
How
Cable Cars
Work