A Do It Yourself Funicular

Jeff Johnson just informed me about these two videos about an inclined lift he built from scratch for his house at Butler on Watauga Lake, in the Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee (USA).

His dad and him have worked on it for about 3-4 months, and it took about 8 weekends for the "site work" and probably 2 weeks for the controls.
Bravo Jeff!

Un funiculaire à faire soi même

Jeff Johnson vient juste de m'informer de ces deux vidéos sur un ascenseur incliné qu'il vient de construire entièrement pour sa maison de Butler sur le lac Watauga, dans le parc National Cherokee, Tennessee (USA).

Son père et lui y ont travaillé pendant environ 3 à 4 mois et cela a pris presque 8 semaines pour le plan incliné lui même et 2 semaines pour l'électronique.
Bravo Jeff!

 

 

Photo Jeff Johnson

54 thoughts on “A Do It Yourself Funicular”

  1. Michel, thanks for the posting. It was a fun project. I still have much to do. I have to finish the body of the cart and make a landing at the bottom so we don’t have to hop off or climb up.

    Dad and I are looking how to have the funicular stop at other fixed points (basement level and subbasement level) We’re trying to figure out how to make it “on request” so it doesn’t stop automatically twice going up or down. We have an idea how to do it however.

  2. Funiculaire faire soi-même? Bon, il n’est quand-même pas livré en kit préfabriqué qu’il reste juste monter! Jeff pourrait proposer son modèle Ikea et faire fortune 😉
    Quel système de sécurité? Y a-t-il un frein de secours?
    Ça m’épate ce truc! Bravo aux inventeurs-réalisateurs 🙂

  3. Sugus, I don’t understand French, but I think I was able to translate it online. (http://www.freetranslation.com)

    Regarding making a kit for Ikea to sell, yes, it would be nice. My father can actually make and sell more of the controller boxes and motor system and provide our cart and track design for people to build themselves. The controls are the most complicated item. Beyond that, anyone who can build a deck can build a track and cart.

    As to the security brake question, we don’t have a security brake but we hope to add some more security measures. The remote has an emergency stop button and we have 2 cables (in case one breaks) where we only need one. Dad thinks we should just have a boat anchor to drop and catch on the supports, 😉

    Thanks for the complements.

  4. The idea of boat anchor to drop and catch the supports… this kind of security was used on some really primary funicular systems… before the emergency brakes appeared! There was real anchor below the cars of “la Ficelle de la Rue Terme – Croix Rousse” in Lyon en 1862!
    The modern emergency brakes are jaws which automatically squeeze the rail in case of overspeed of the car.
    Jeff, emergency stop button and double cables are good security but I must tell you that the most recent funicular crashes were due of overspeed of cars which did not have emergency brakes on the cars. The problem was on the drum, for some reasons the cable went out of the pulleys and the car run down… I have never heard of cable ruptures… 😉

    L’idée d’une ancre de bâteau jeter pour s’arrêter en attrapant quelque support, ce type de sécurité a été réellement utilisé sur certains funiculaires très anciens! Il y avait une véritable ancre sous les voitures de la Ficelle de la Rue Terme – Croix Rousse Lyon en 1862!.
    Le système moderne de sécurité consiste maintenant en des mâchoires qui viennent automatiquement serrer le rail en cas de survitesse de la voiture.
    Jeff, le bouton STOP et le double câble sont déj de bonnes sécurités mais je dois dire que les derniers crashs de funiculaires ont été causés par des voitures, sans freins ‘parachute’, en survitesse due un cble qui était sorti de la poulie! Je n’ai jamais entendu parler d’accident dus une rupture de câble!
    😉

  5. Yes, that is truly one of our concerns. Being a homebuilt funicular, we don’t have the resources to design a speed measuring device to clamp down on the rail. One of the thoughts I had was to to have a center cable run and set taught with the cable running through some kind of holder on the cart. If tension were released, the cart would clamp down on the cable. The trick is to figure out how to determine the lack of tension, since the cable tension is pretty slack when the cart is going down. Or perhaps there should be a manual brake that a rider could hit to lock the cable.

    A deadman switch (has to be held down to ride) was considered but ruled out because the cart needs the ability to ride riderless. If a person were to be at the bottom of the hill and want to ride up (or at top when the cart is down), they can hit a button at the bottom to “call” the cart to them.

  6. Jeff, here is an example of an emergency brake system which uses a kind of wooden central balk and a cable which can operate cam shaped grippers which dig into the balk:
    http://www.funimag.com/funimag19/CAT03.htm
    Hoping it can help you!

    Jeff, voici un exemple de frein d’urgence qui utilise une poutre centrale en bois et un câble qui peut actionner un dispositif de crampons qui viennent se ficher dans la poutre en bois pour arrêter la cabine:
    http://www.funimag.com/funimag19/CAT03FR.htm
    En espérant que cela puisse donner des idées!

  7. Thanks for the link. That is an impressive setup. Although it may be beyond my capability, there are lessons to be learned. Perhaps I can come up with something similar.

    I do know that the connection point between the gear box and the spool is an industrial rated coupling. It is not a welded rod, but a very heavy duty coupling. I think its rated for close to 3000 lbs of torque, and are cart shouldn’t have more than 1,000 lbs.

  8. Jeff dit: Merci pour le lien. C’est un dispositif impressionnant. Bien que cela semble être au dessus de mes moyens, il y a des choses en tirer. Peut être je peux faire quelque chose de similaire. Je sais que la liaison entre la boîte de vitesse et le tambour est un accouplement de type industriel. Ce n’est pas un axe rigide mais une liaison très résistante. Je pense que son couple est environ de 3000 livres et notre chariot ne doit pas dépasser 1000 livres.

  9. Hi

    Looking for a company to supply and install a Funicular ith approx. 100 ft incline. Would apprec. any leads.

    Thanks in advance

  10. Hi

    Looking for a company to supply and install a Funicular with approx. 100 ft incline. Would apprec. any leads. Located in the Kingston Ontario Region

    Thanks in advance

  11. Hi,

    I am interested in getting Jeff’s email for the plans as well.

    We are contemplating building one ourselves.

    Thanks,

    Liz

  12. Hello,

    Would someone be so kind as to provide me with Jeff’s email address. I live in the Santa Cruz mountains in Northern California. Ten years ago I bought the only house I could afford and it came with 108 stairs. It was fine for the last decade but now I have a beautiful wife who is 4 months pregnant and as you might imagine, the stairs are a bit more daunting. I would love to email Jeff about his plans. His funicular seems ideal for my setting. Thanks

    Ken Morgan

  13. Please add me to the list of people interested in building a tram. I am in British Columbia Canada and have been trying to get it done for years including exploring commercial solutions. Please forward me Jeff’s contact information and/or have him contact me directly.

    thank you

  14. I am looking for a good source for a cable drum or in ideas for a makeshift or used cable drum to hold approximately 1000 ft of 3/8″ cable. Any leads? Thanks.

  15. This would be an ideal solution to a difficulty at our Pennsylvania lake house; to provide lakeside access to elderly / disabled guests and also to haul materials up and down. My neighbor had a professional installation for $70,000 but I know it can be done for much less DIY. Ours is only 100 feet and a moderate slope. I would be grateful for a word from Jeff about plans and the availablity of a winch. Thank you

  16. Bonjour

    Effectivement, un double câble est une excellente sécurité si les tambours sont bien ancrés et sécurisés. Pour les systèmes à un seul câble, je pensais à un anneau (avec un peu de jeu) qui passerait autour du câble en sortie de treuil. Au moindre brin cassé, il serait déplacé et actionnerait un contact qui stopperait la course.
    Pour le funi de Besançon, je vois qu’il a un certain age, il n’a donc jamais eu de pépin, mais peut il fonctionner avec la neige?
    La neige va se bourrer dans le rail, se changeant en glace sous la pression des roues et le risque de dérailler est grand, non?

  17. J’ai oublié un truc, les rails en bois, je trouve cela léger…
    La planche inférieure peut se casser en biais et les fibres qui ressortiraient pourraient empêcher la roue de passer. Ceci si les planches ne sont pas en contact permanent avec le sol, donc, si elles sont montées sur traverses…ce qui est le cas.
    Le risque serait moins grand en roulant sur une épaisseur de bois plus importante.
    L’avantage du bois, c’est pour remplacer les morceaux qui commencent à pourrir, c’est facile à faire, si on arrive à les détecter à temps.
    Je suppose que vous savez qu’il y a pas mal de funiculaires privés sur la cote d’Azur sur l’Esterel, entre autre, pour relier la mer aux maisons, ils s’aperçoivent par GoogleEarth, et doivent bien se voir depuis la mer. Avant Monaco, aussi, lorsque le train entre dans un Tunnel, il y a un funi privé de construction professionnelle pour une résidence.

  18. i have a litle farm next to a lake in south of Chile , and i want to make a funicular like Jeff.

    Could you send me a jeff email?
    How can I obtain plans to build a similar system; who supplied the motor, cable etc.

    thanks a lot

    Hernan Amenabar

  19. I would like to get in contact with Jeff to get details of his vernicular construction.
    I am looking to build a similar system to carry cargo up a hilltop cabin.

    Thank you, John

  20. I guess this web site is no longer tended to, I’d been hoping to get an email address, but no response since february

  21. I would also love to have Jeff’s email address as we have moved to the lake with too many steps down to the boat house for us being older and bad legs to walk down many days. Thanks for the help.

  22. Built my dream log house on a lake in KY. Fell off my dream log house on a lake in KY. The hillside is a BEAST even for people with good ankles. Could you put me in touch with Jeff please?

  23. It has been a year or so since I last posted, but wanted to let you folks know that Lakeside Trams can often install a professionally manufactured tram for about the same price as a home made one. We can also provide a DIY kit with certain waivers required for a self install.

  24. How does a person find the materials for a do it yourself unit? Where are the outlets for the various parts. Motor, rails, braking system ect.

  25. What cost is involved? I think we may be looking at a similar slope and verticle change in elevation. Thanks

  26. Please send the e-mail for Jeff Johnson so we can contact regarding parts and or selling of the plans for your homemade model. We would like to build one at our lake property for accessibility.
    Thank you, wonderfully informative site.
    Steven Hokanson
    Morris, Minnesota

  27. Looking for Jeff’s email and most interested in the motor and cable drum setup including where to purchase the parts. Many Thanks..great work!

  28. This is the site I have been searching for… very cool! I know… I know… there are TONS of cost variables that go into building one of these bad boys…BUT… what is the approximate low-ball and higher range price tag?

    Lets say: Approximately 150′, weight capacity around 5 to 600lbs, and about a 7-10 grade?

    Oh, and I would appreciate Jeff’s email for plans/ideas. AGAIN… VERY COOL!

    Blessings.
    Robert

  29. please send info on where u purchased drum drive/gear motor assembly. would love to do this project with son.. 37deg incline 75 feet of track..thanks

  30. Hi!
    I have a waterfront property near Vancouver. I am part way through the detailed design of a system based on the way they do it in the steep vineyards of Itay. There they use a self-propelled car.

    My application is bringing a car from the water up 90 vertical feet and 170 lineal feet to the house and then carrying on to the guest house which is an additional 50 vertical feet and 125 more lineal feet.

    I am using a 3.2kw 24 volt dc gear motor powered by AGM batteries. The self-propelled feature allows the cart to meander its way up rather than be in a straight line.

    I am using a rack and pinion gear drive on two 4 inch channel rails.

    will keep everyone apprised of my progress.

  31. I am back with an update . I have purchased a golf cart motor (24v) and reversing motor control which will send current back to the batteries on the way back down. i bought the software to program the motor control. i haven’t gotten into the program yet but it will allow adjustments to speed, acceleration time, deceleration time, overload levels etc.
    I purchased two 30:1 reduction gears to turn the drive wheels which are mounted horizontally and run on the inside of the track.

    More to follow.

  32. Hi need some help i have a similer system a very old system that was build by some one als.. the motor burn out and i took it apart to have it replace but left it to long that i cant reinstall it. am getting a new motor but i like the control system u have place in urs. I would like to know if u would be willing to help me get back my system up and running any help will do..

  33. I need a winch like the one you have above to pull a platform/car 120 meters up a 50 degree slope with 10 people. Where can I purchase one like the one you have dipcted above. What kind of breaking system do you have/ recommend?

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