ASME-Landmark:Roebling 80-Ton Wire Rope Machine


The only remaining Roebling machine was designed by Charles G. Roebling (1849-1918), engineer and president of the Trenton-based Roebling Company from 1876 to 1918. Built in 1893, it was the largest wire-rope closing machine in its time. The machine twisted six strands around a central core rope. These seven combined in the machine's forming die to produce a finished rope, a process known as closing. The machine was built to produce 1.5-inch rope for cable railways; 80 tons could be loaded at a single spinning, which provided 30,000 feet of unspliced cable at a batch. Roebling's was a vertical machine, standing 64 feet, requiring the machine and building to be built as a unit.

By the 1880s, wire and wire rope were also produced for shipping and railway use, soon to be followed by recently developed technologies in electrical transmission, telegraphs, and elevators. Mining and cable cars also used the wire rope. Soon, the tramways and construction of the Panama Canal employed Roebling wire ropes. After the start of World War I, airplane rigging and controls called for fine wires.

Roebling's father, John A. Roebling (1809-1869), was a celebrated engineer of suspension bridges and founder of the wire and rope works. John Roebling established his first wire rope manufacturing plant in the Chambersburg section of Trenton in 1849. Initially the rope was used in design and construction of suspension bridges by Roebling, including the Brooklyn Bridge. See ASME website for more information