The Sound of the Night Sky

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Disaster on the mountain

Postby G-Man » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:04 am

Isle of Man Snaefell Mountain Railway tram crashes after derailing

car3.jpg


Disaster struck the mountain railway when Car 3's brakes let go whilst it was parked at the summit. No one was on board at the time. Without any crew member aboard to apply the emergency brakes, the car reached terminal velocity (estimated to be 60mph+) about 300 yards above the Bungalow station, cleared the fell rail and somersaulted, completely destroying the wooden portion and badly damaging the trucks and chassis. We finished clearing away the wreckage on Wednesday. :o

This is the latest in a catalogue of disasters. The tramway was very badly damaged in a storm and freak flood before Christmas and it wasn't certain that there would be any services this year. Repairs to the track continue and we are able to provide a single line service from Laxey to Bungalow and normal double line service from Bungalow to Summit
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Re: The Sound of the Night Sky

Postby fruitbat » Fri Apr 15, 2016 11:37 am

Big gravitor would sort that problem out surely?
Given the preexisting external power supply, that should be almost feasible..
The remainder of me that isn't a jerk, mourns the loss of such a beautiful anachronistic looking vehicle, and is just glad there were no screaming peeples in it when it fell.
(When I say "beautiful" and "anachronistical" I'm assuming car three is like the one in the pic on the article you attached?)

The aircraft engineer in me is asking, "you use a park brake not a chain to secure your rollingstock at the top of a dirty great incline? Really?"
(Yeah, it turns out aircraft engineers are a bunch of surly, critical, unsympathetic and unhelpful smartarses, which is a big part of why I no longer work in that sector)
The keynsian in me just sees opportunity for local people with coachbuilding skills...

As someone who has spent almost his entire life extending vehicle lifespans in one way or another, I suggest you get the chassis straight and back it's wheels as soon as possible, with whatever budget you can muster, to stave off the tragedy of total loss.

I think I'd try a "disaster appeal" as soon as possible. Get it up on youtube, with a carefully worded title as people are always looking at disaster videos. Admittedly I'm usually showing them, but according to the "hit counts" I'm not the only sicko who watches plane crashes trying to figure out where the safest seats really are, etc. IF you haven't already got "advertising" videos up of teh tram on youtube I'd be surprised (And will work cheap, just for the experience).

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Re: The Sound of the Night Sky

Postby re-rose rose » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:42 pm

Oh, dear G Man,
:o
such a beautiful carriage, such a sad end.

I'm relieved, though, to hear that you didn't have any body parts involved in this crash.

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Re: The Sound of the Night Sky

Postby Linda Brown » Fri Apr 15, 2016 5:49 pm

I am shocked...saddened and relieved in all the same time frame. oh dear.....glad you are safe.
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Re: The Sound of the Night Sky

Postby G-Man » Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:12 pm

It's a tragedy by any standard. The inevitable fatalities that would have ensued if there had been passengers aboard would have closed us, perhaps for good.

The mountain cars are all pretty much the same. The original bodies were designed and built by George Milnes of Birkenhead and the chassis, trucks and motors came from Mather and Platt in Manchester. Car One is "my" car and has recently been faithfully rebuilt and painted in the original blue and white, rather than the recycled red and cream bus paint.

The stand at the top of the mountain is flat; unfortunately this car was parked outside the stand to allow another car to enter. The summit was relaid over winter to accommodate more vehicles and there was no fell rail for the last 100 yards of the track outside the points, consequently the car was parked on a slight incline and held by its wheel brakes. It should be said that once a car is stopped, the wheel brakes will hold it, even on the steepest parts of the track. However, as the other car came in to the stand, Car Three was seen to start rolling. It could be a brake failure or a stick-slip event caused by the vibration of the arriving car. No official comment has been made yet.

We made a few estimates based on ramp equations and concluded that the car reached about 60 mph before it hopped over the fell rail. This jibes well with the pants-seat estimates of the drivers. With crew members aboard the tram would not reach that speed unless all three brake systems failed catastrophically at the same time. A passenger with nous and strength enough to engage the fell brake could hold it back. Where the car came off, only the sleepers were damaged, the rails suffered no ill effects whatever, not even "witness marks". The downhill side of the track is precipitous. As the front truck dug into the peat the rear of the car came up and over, this was seen by the Bungalow station master and the chief engineer, who happened to be visiting the Bungalow at the time. Two three ton trucks and a half ton chassis made matchwood of the bodywork.

As we were tossing the remains of the woodwork into the skip there were dark jokes about how one gets a mountain tram into an IKEA box - but it was rather depressing.

The trucks, motors and chassis can be recycled, as can the control system. Car Three will ride again.

I would love to install an alternative propulsion system in each truck - but getting the underwriters to buy that would be tricky, to say the least
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Re: The Sound of the Night Sky

Postby fruitbat » Fri Apr 15, 2016 11:42 pm

If it's a gravitor, you can just hide it in the chassis and say nothing. :c)
On a more sensible note, I'm glad it will roll again.

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Re: The Sound of the Night Sky

Postby G-Man » Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:17 pm

On a more positive note, this morning saw the fifth last dying gasp of winter in a fortnight.

It was my turn to come in early and take the cafe staff to the top of the mountain. As we climbed from Laxey in brilliant sunshine the snow-covered mountain top loomed before us

Photo0182.jpg


The wires were cold and therefore tight and the tram was lurching and losing power. I had to blast my way up past the Bungalow at full power, as ice fell from the wires and clattered on the roof and amongst the resistor packs. At the top we entered a Winter Wonderland. That's Will, my brakesman, loading the trash from the cafe (there is no road access to the summit). The ice clinging to the wires is clearly visible.

Photo0185.jpg


It was an interesting drive down, to say the least. But the system works as long as there's someone there to operate it

Photo0186.jpg
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ύλη είναι το μοτέρ

"Il faut savoir tout envisager mais surtout ne rien croire" Aimé Michel

"Se non capite qualcosa, sbarazzarsi di esso"
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Re: The Sound of the Night Sky

Postby re-rose rose » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:26 pm

Beautiful pictures, G-man. I would probably be less terrified in that car than in the ones operated by the Palm Springs tram folks.

What's your altitude at the top? Our mountains are 6/7 thousand feet,but only once or twice a winter do they get snow below 5000 feet. I thought the Isle would have a maritime climate that kept the snow away.

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Re: The Sound of the Night Sky

Postby re-rose rose » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:34 pm

Bat and G-man...I'm sorry for your wicked steps and the betrayal of of those who were supposed to nurture and protect you. If I could change your pasts, I would.

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Re: The Sound of the Night Sky

Postby G-Man » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:38 pm

summit.jpg


For some reason the board software has clipped off part of the picture of Number 1 that shows the altitude on the wall of the cafe. At just over 2000 ft it's a bit of a speed-bump, really, but it officially qualifies as "Mountain" rather than "Big Hill".

Not only is it a maritime climate but we are warmed by the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Drift. In spite of that the mountain and the near-mountains that surround it get a generous covering of snow, there isn't much north of us to catch stuff coming down from the Arctic Circle and the snowline is usually around 1400 feet
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ύλη είναι το μοτέρ

"Il faut savoir tout envisager mais surtout ne rien croire" Aimé Michel

"Se non capite qualcosa, sbarazzarsi di esso"
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