Larrys homemade funicular:


Update: Dec-2010, another 4 years has gone by. Google: "Larrys funicular" gets you here. And Google sends me a small check every month - for the Ad's, so that's cool, helps old larry buy some beer.

News:Sept-2006, yikes no update in 5 years? --- this old page here still gets a lot of traffic and one fellow wrote today that it inspired him to go ahead and make himself a funicular! (photos soon he said)
--- OK, so to show all you kids on YouTube what might happen to you if you live long enough like me to find out - here's a fumbiling-old-man-video of my funicular in action:

--------------note about the video -----------

I really should fix that up/down switch but actually it works really well with two hands so why waist time on that and spend a lot of time making this video not suck (maybe by spending hours of editing) when instead I could be working on Larrys gas turbine turboprop amphibious ultralight aircraft? ----> right?

News: 24-Sep-2001, The funicular is fixed and better than new! Mr.Jon Box is a man of his word and an amazing person. He's almost as old as me which is very amazing because he has been a professional chain saw logger his entire life and logging is one of the most dangerous professions in the world and chain sawing is the most dangerous job in logging!
Jon is the best tree faller, a survivor (because of superior intellgence), and I found it an honor to have met him. He saved my life because that tree was going to fall on my house and kill me. And sure enough it was so full of bugs it broke in half when it hit the bank and smashed my funicular to bits. See the video (which quit just before hitting the ground - argh). Jon said he thought he'd see it all but not anything like this in all his carreer. He spent two days working for free to help me rebuild it. Thanks Jon!

News: 25-Nov-2000, Murphy, Oregon, A 32" diameter fir tree destroys larrys home made funicular.
Photos of destruction, and a Quick Time movie I was really surprised. I didn't think the tree would break in half. The big half bounced down and tagged my funicular. I had a 12 foot aluminum boat hanging from the back. The boat looks OK. Wreckage was strewn and strung together 60 feet down the track! What a disaster! Jon said he will help me fix it.


I made my funicular in my spare time using scrap steel and 2x6 redwood for the deck. I started construction in 1989 and about 4 years later I made the maiden voyage 90 feet down to the river.

Before I bore you with my rambling on, be sure and check out: - The first WWW magazine about Funiculars. Michel found my page here and listed it in his cool magazine ... under "Special", or is it under "Crazy"? (update 2006) Congrats Michel on 10 years of Funicular Magazine!

Mr. Takeo sent this link to me, A WATER balance Funicular. ... now I want to get my counterbalance car added and then maybe I could run mine with water too, just think how quiet and smooth it would run ... sooooo cool!!!

My track is made of 6 inch wide "C" steel channel spaced 33 inches apart. It starts at the upper deck of my house extending down to the river at a 45 degree angle. The car has four small wheels that ride on the track with 4 more wheels that run on the inside of the rails to keep the car centered. On top of the car I built a redwood platform 6 feet square with hand rails to match the existing deck of the house.


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The idea was to build it to blend in with the deck so well that visitors would not know they were standing on a moving platform. Then when everyone was "loaded" looking at the view, I'd say to them: "Would you like to go down to the river?". It was a lot of fun until this one man totally freaked out - I thought he was going to have a heart attack, so I no longer just push the button anymore. I now explain that this part of the deck will jump and then descend slowly down a track when I press the button, giving the uninitiated a chance to off load. Some people like surprises and others truly do not, to my surprise.

At the very top of the track is mounted a cable drum made of a 8" well casing which extends the full width of the tracks. Two 3/8" wire-rope cables (each 95 feet long) are wound onto the drum starting from the outer edge (one from the left one from the right) to the center leaving a 10" gap in the center. The cables are attached to the car, centered and about 15" apart. This way the winding of the cable is kept neat and tight.. Each end of the well casing (drum) has a car rear axle welded with bearings and is coupled (with a large sprocket) to a right angle 40:1 worm gear reducer with chain and a small sprocket. The reducer is driven with a 5 HP AC 110V Capacitor start motor via a V-belt and pulleys. The pulleys further reduce the 3600 RPM motor.


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panarama of funic The car with deck on it weighs about 1/2 ton. I have taken 6 average size adults down and back without any problem. Each cable is rated at 6500 lbs. There is an automatic dual redundant emergency "lock the car to the track" system I built into the car. I built the track such that a counter balance car could hang below it. I have all the parts for doing the counter balance but have not started that project.

Once the first 18 foot unit of track and car were ready I dug a hole 4 feet wide 6 feet long and 6 feet deep at the top edge of the slope near the deck. I built the main support for the track unit with the same 6" steel in the hole and then filled the hole with reinforced concrete. I then moved the unit over using my back hoe and fitted it to the support such that the movable deck meets up with the upper deck of the house. All my used steel was in 18 foot lengths. It is so heavy I can only lift one end, so I cut the length in half making 9 foot sections that I could lift and move around. With these I made 9 foot sections of track. To place the track into position, I built a simple crane on the car. I used the back hoe to lift and move a section of track to the car crane. I then used the car crane to move the track down the 45 degree slope and into position. I then welded it in place. Every section had provision for a "foot" on each side that held it up off the hillside with the idea of someday having a counterbalance car running underneath.

8 sections were built and connected making 90 feet of track. At the bottom I dug a big hole for the track to go into so the car could get as low as possible. In the winter the water is 6 to 8 feet higher than summer and the car deck can be set right on the water, very cool. Currently the car moves very slow. If I counter balance the 1/2 ton, I will be able to go much faster without overheating my "a bit too small" worm gear reducer.


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IPO: 7Jan96

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