Text and Photos Michel Azéma

Lynton & Lynmouth (England)

Old issues index
Lynton & Lynmouth
Stations and Tracks
How it works
The Phases
Technical datas

Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway
How it works  
Water power
The Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway is a real water counterbalanced funicular. All its energy is taken from water of the West Lyn river. No water is pumped from the bottom to fill the tanks at the top station.
Usually in water counterbalanced funiculars the water is poured in the top car tank until this car becomes heavier than the bottom car. This is what I call the additional method.
The Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway do not use this method, it uses what I call the subtractive method. Both car tanks are full of water and the tank of the bottom car is partially discharged until the bottom car becomes lighter that the top car.
The next page The phases of a journey explains this method.
Water brakes
Certainly the most interesting features of the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway are the water brakes.
Each car has two sets of brakes which are water operated.
One set is operated by the governor which is in turn are driven by the main wheels. These brakes have shoes which press down on the top surface of the rail and actually lift the car off the rail by 2mm thereby relying on the weight of the car to give the maximum friction between the rail and the brake blocks.
The second set of brakes works in reverse to a conventional brake. The brakes are permanently on operated by a large water accumulator via the drivers hand wheel. This means that while the car is unattended the brakes clamps it to the rails making it impossible to move under any circumstances. When the driver wishes to move a car then he has to wind a wheel on the driver's platform. As the driver winds the wheel up lifting the lead weight he is releasing the brakes. Should the driver at any time release the wheel then the weights will return the wheel to the closed position within one second and the brakes are once again clamped to the rails.
This wheel is called the Deadmans Handle. This kind of security brake is used today in all the modern trains and subways !
The commands

This are the commands available on the cars:

A : The "Deadmans Handle".
B : The metallic stick used by the operator to release the anchor.
C : The water discharge pedal.
D : The foot brake pedal.
The car at the bottom station

Internal side of the car.

E : The pipe which brings water from the accumulator to the foot brake (F).
F : The foot brake which press down on the top surface of the rail. The foot brake is controled by the regulator in case of overspeed or by the driver's foot on the brake pedal (D).
G : The second braking system is permanently on and horizontally gripping the rails. It is operated by a large water accumulator via the Deaman Handle (A).
H : The anchor, it is a metal rod with a diamond-shaped end.
I : The vice which grips the anchor and immobilizes the car.
J : One of the two iron rod which opens the vice. It is operated by the conductor from the cabin with the iron stick (B). He puts the stick in a hole on the platform beside the car and uses the stick as a handle to open the vice.
K : The hydraulic (water) main buffers.
L : The bottom pulley.
M : The water tank.
External side of the car

N : The governor (2 centrifugal bowls).
O : The chain which links the wheel of the car to the governor.
P : The intermediate wheel which is winded by the driver during the course to liberate the 40kg water pressure of the accumulator (Q).
Q : The accumulator. It contains water under pressure. The pressure is obtained by pumps operated by the wheels of the car via a system of pipes and valves.
Old issues index
Lynton & Lynmouth
Stations and Tracks
How it works
The Phases
Technical datas
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Michel Azéma, Paris (France)
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