A pulley is something that is used to lift objects with heavy weights. It is a kind of simple machine. It is sometimes called a block and tackle. Pulleys are usually used in sets designed to make the amount of force needed to lift something smaller.
Types of pulleys:
- Fixed A fixed or class 1 pulley has an axle that is "fixed" or anchored in place. A fixed pulley is used to redirect the force in a rope (called a belt when it goes in a full circle). A fixed pulley has a mechanical advantage of 1.
- Movable A movable or class 2 pulley has an axle that is "free" to move in space. A movable pulley is used to transform forces. A movable pulley has a mechanical advantage of 2. That is, if one end of the rope is anchored, pulling on the other end of the rope will apply a doubled force to the object attached to the pulley.
- Compound A compound pulley is a combination fixed and movable pulley system.
- Block and tackle - A block and tackle is a compound pulley where several pulleys are mounted on each axle, further increasing the mechanical advantage. Plutarch reported that Archimedes moved an entire warship, laden with men, using compound pulleys and his own strength.
Lifts began as simple rope or chain hoists. A lift is essentially a platform that is either pulled or pushed up by a mechanical means. A modern day lift consists of a cab (also called a "cage" or "car") mounted on a platform within an enclosed space called a shaft, or in Commonwealth countries called a "hoistway". In the past, lift drive mechanisms were powered by steam and water hydraulic pistons. In a "traction" lift, cars are pulled up by means of rolling steel ropes over a deeply grooved pulley, commonly called a sheave in the industry. The weight of the car is balanced with a counterweight. Sometimes two lifts always move synchronously in opposite directions, and they are each other's counterweight.
In the middle 1800's, there were many types of crude elevators that carried freight. Most of them ran hydraulically. The first hydraulic elevators used a plunger below the car to raise or lower the elevator. A pump applied water pressure to a plunger, or steel column, inside a vertical cylinder. Increasing the pressure allowed the elevator to descend. The elevator also used a system of counter-balancing so that the plunger did not have to lift the entire weight of the elevator and its load. The plunger, however, was not practical for tall buildings, because it required a pit as deep below the building as the building was tall. Later a rope-geared elevator with multiple pulleys was developed.
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