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Author Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Pete Monkhouse

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 19/11/2019 13:19:32
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The slate from these high quarries was brought down the hill using overhead cableways. These had round-surface wire ropes, I would guess 50 or 60mm diameter and many hundreds of meters long.

My question is, where were these made and how did they get them to Coniston? Some of the winches are from Barrow, so it seems likely that the cables originated from there. But how do you get something weighing 10 or 20 tons, and 500 meters long from Barrow to Coniston before any form of mechanized road transport?
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Morlock

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 19/11/2019 13:53:46
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Guessing the same way as similar colliery ropes, wound on a large diameter drum? IP: 86.139.220.63
Pete Monkhouse

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 19/11/2019 14:00:15
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I could accept that for a header laid hauling rope - but these really don’t look flexible enough. And I guess we’re talking unsurfaced roads, carts eta - 10-20 tons seems a lot to manage! IP: 195.171.160.194
Morlock

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 19/11/2019 14:23:31
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These people manufacture ropeway carrier ropes up to 72mm diameter wound on drums. What sort of date are we looking at as regards original installation?

http://gondolaproject.com/category/fatzer/
IP: 86.139.220.63
Jim MacPherson

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 19/11/2019 14:42:12
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Morlock wrote:

These people manufacture ropeway carrier ropes up to 72mm diameter wound on drums. What sort of date are we looking at as regards original installation?

http://gondolaproject.com/category/fatzer/


They were quite adept at drum winding submarine telegraph cable from the 1830's, not sure of the diameter used but current ones are 25mm so I suspect bigger then.

Probably getting a smaller drum to Coniston wouldn't have been too much harder, tough little devils packhorses Confused



(click image to open full size image in new window)

Edit; They may have spliced the ropes on site to keep the haulage weight to a reasonable level.

Jim
IP: 109.150.47.186 Edited: 19/11/2019 15:07:49 by Jim MacPherson
AR

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 19/11/2019 16:18:41
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Carting large drums would be my guess, but using a lot of horses. For comparison Pete, the main beam for the 70" pumping engine at Magpie was carted there from Calver Sough, using around 40 horses, and they got it up Kirkdale (the road from Ashford to Sheldon) which is about 1 in 8....

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jbg

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 20/11/2019 08:16:16
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The rope may well not have been made / delivered in one continuous length, splicing of ropes is a specialized activity. It was certainly done on hemp ropes on ships, so possible it could be done on steel wire ropes as well. IP: 192.158.54.11
JonK

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 20/11/2019 09:34:30
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Pete

The railway to Coniston opened in 1849. The road up from the station is very steep but a small steam winch with the cable coiled on a drum would do the job. You might have to move the winch a few times.

Jon
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gNick

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 20/11/2019 15:38:23
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jbg wrote:

The rope may well not have been made / delivered in one continuous length, splicing of ropes is a specialized activity. It was certainly done on hemp ropes on ships, so possible it could be done on steel wire ropes as well.


Steel rope definitely can be spliced - SS Great Britain had spliced wire rope rigging - although it is a tad more difficult.

The rope would have been delivered in one length if at all possible but obviously very long lengths may have to be spliced.

Support ropes can definitely be wound on a drum, they have to be flexible to do the job! The drums are big though.

Incidentally the round surface is formed by rolling or drawing the rope - it compacts the strands and makes it a smooth surface to reduce wear on the car support sheaves but it is still flexible.

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Thrutch

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 20/11/2019 17:52:42
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Further to AR's post above, which refers to moving pumping engine parts mine to mine around the Peak District - when Mandale Mine, Lathkill Dale, closed the pumping engine beam was removed from the valley using a team of 46 horses. The engine was a sister engine - from the same manufacturer, built at very close to the same time - as the Leawood Pump engine, which is still in working order. The Mandale engine was larger than the Leawood one (larger bore) and the beam of the latter engine weighs 27 tons. It is worth a visit to the Leawood engine and then taking a walk down into Lathkill Dale just to try to imagine the task of moving a beam of that weight and length (30'+) up the hill and around those hairpin bends. Another idea of what used to be done was gained from a television series a few years ago when parts of the Titanic were recreated. An anchor was made and was to be paraded through the streets of the town where the original one has been made, as that had been, pulled by 20+ Shire Horses. That was only stopped by the coupling to the trailer failing and a modern tractor having to be employed. IP: 86.159.39.67
Morlock

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 20/11/2019 17:53:15
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The circular ropes are usually of the 'locked coil' type IP: 86.139.220.63
r1xlx

Joined: 25/11/2019

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 25/11/2019 08:01:32
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Mention of the replica anchor brings to mind the original being forged by team of men wielding sledgehammers with amazing coordination.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_LA_R4ifYk

Such forging work would have been used to make most of the wrought iron and steel works of the old industries.

IP: 148.252.129.11
Thrutch

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 25/11/2019 08:49:59
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Thanks r1xl - fantastic skill and a level of heat impossible to imagine! At a different level but still with Blacksmithing, I am a hedgelayer and once met a man who had served his apprenticeship at one of the Black Country forges. When I handed the man my favourite billhook he said "Sam made that". I was stunned, as that forge made millions of tools, to very a consistent quality, during its time and this man knew which individual 'smith had made this one. "What" I said and this man went on to say "Sam Spooner" made it - he was great he was". Sam Spent all his working life at that forge and died just six months into his retirement. This experience was topped off when I was handed a copy of the last catalogue from that manufacturer - 1965 - which contained a grainy, black and white photograph of a man working at his anvil, using a 12lb hammer, forging a 7lb axe head. That man was Sam Spooner. Not mine exploration but very close to it as the mine Blacksmiths played such a vital part in making and maintaining tools. IP: 86.159.39.67
Boy Engineer

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 25/11/2019 08:51:31
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Amazing bit of film. Thanks for sharing the link. Good old days? Hearing loss, burns, muscle strain, lung damage, eye injury, the list goes on. IP: 83.216.140.15
r1xlx

Joined: 25/11/2019

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 25/11/2019 10:41:05
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Your Black Country billhook is different from Yorkshire pattern ones.
https://www.oldtoolstore.co.uk/morris-of-dunsford-billhooks-46-c.asp
https://www.oldtoolstore.co.uk/morris-of-dunsford-yorkshire-pattern-billhook-60-p.asp
https://www.billhooks.co.uk/where-to-visit/

When I was little I had to chop firewood with an old Yorkshire billhook.

Hardware stores in Yorkshire dales and moors village still display billhooks and just a few weeks ago I was admiring them in the shop in Malton.
IP: 148.252.128.225
Thrutch

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 25/11/2019 17:00:15
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Heavy edged tool manufacturers in the past produced a wide range of Billhook patterns and we are left debating why - as a continuation of designs that evolved locally or as a marketing ploy as in, for example, "here is a Billhook named after your town". The Billhook I showed to the Black Country Blacksmith was a Yorkshire pattern one. In my area hedgelayers use either Yorkshire billhooks or the single handed, double edged, Warwickshire/Nottingham/Leicester/Banbury (it depends on which catalogue you look at and from when) pattern. I must keep my eyes open when I visit the Yorkshire dales and moors - thank you for the information. Returning to mining history, the Miner's axe is often referred to by its Welsh name, which sound like an axe design name but which when translated means White House. Cornelius Whitehouse, a famous heavy edged tool manufacturer had its forge in Cannock. IP: 86.159.39.67
r1xlx

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 25/11/2019 17:08:02
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Yorkshire pattern has the hookside sharpened to make it easy to strip twigs when laying.
I used to watch local farmerdoing his hedges.
I sed to break huge lumps of coal with a large heavy cobbling hammer as when coalman brough a big lump we called it a cobbling.
IP: 148.252.128.225
Jim MacPherson

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 25/11/2019 17:29:52
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r1xlx wrote:


I sed to break huge lumps of coal with a large heavy cobbling hammer as when coalman brough a big lump we called it a cobbling.


Just to continue Off Topic John Lawson referred to a similar process as cobbed (or cobbing) relating to breaking up vein stuff to get rid of the unwanted bitsFlowers.

And back, slightly on topic, to AR's comments about dragging a load up Kirkdale, snigs were used to act as brakes for the carts on steep stuff, hence allegedly Snig Hill. Apparently in Australia/New Zealand a snig referred to a drum/winch located to act as a pulley for the horses shifting a heavy load up/down hill (similar to JonK comment).

Jim
IP: 165.120.130.137 Edited: 25/11/2019 17:31:28 by Jim MacPherson
RAMPAGE

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 02/12/2019 21:51:14
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Pete Monkhouse wrote:

The slate from these high quarries was brought down the hill using overhead cableways. These had round-surface wire ropes, I would guess 50 or 60mm diameter and many hundreds of meters long.

My question is, where were these made and how did they get them to Coniston? Some of the winches are from Barrow, so it seems likely that the cables originated from there. But how do you get something weighing 10 or 20 tons, and 500 meters long from Barrow to Coniston before any form of mechanized road transport?


I know the ropes you mean, I looked at them several years ago. I figured they were actually ex-coal main shaft winding ropes, gone over their date for man-riding and sold cheap.

Can't remember how I concluded that but there was some telltale sign.

Odd choice of rope for a slate quarry, would normally expect to see a normal right-hand-langs-lay rather than a massive fat locked-coil. Even for an aerial ropeway.

I think I remember them being white-metal capped too, so they probably were not especially old.



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Pete Monkhouse

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Steel cables in Moss head, Coniston
Posted: 02/12/2019 22:39:30
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Interesting! They simply looked too big to me to be haulage or winding cables. I will measure the diameter next time I’m there and try and research the original load capacity.

The only colliery winding ropes I’ve seen in proper use were at a Markham Vale, where I was lucky enough to get on two or three trips underground. We also went round the winding house for (I believe) No3 shaft which is the one where they had the bad accident in 1973 (although they didn’t tell us that). I don’t remember the winding rope being locked coil - but it was a long time ago...
IP: 84.64.158.232 Edited: 02/12/2019 22:41:01 by Pete Monkhouse
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