My cousin turned up a chilling report of the death of one of our relatives in the Cyfarthfa steelworks in 1905. I'm trying to form a picture of just what happened. Sorry, I only have an image of this text: inquest 1 inquest 2 inquest 3

Was the "strap" a drive belt taking power from an overhead shaft? If so, how was it tangled? Can anyone imagine a picture of this? How would someone try to replace it under power, which sounds terrifying? And what would an arrangement with flange pulleys or a loose pulley look like, to make operation safer?


  • $\begingroup$ Have you done any research? even wiki: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_shaft And this newspaper report was based on the Coroner's findings. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ It's not clear to me that the "strap" was a drive belt. Was that the case? $\endgroup$
    – emrys57
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ Probably the "belts" were made of leather at the time so "strap" would be a relevant term. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ The wiki article (thanks for that) uses the term "loose pulley" for a declutching arrangement, which, oddly, the jury does not recommend. What are flange-pulleys? Does this just mean adding flanges to the existing pulley to try to stop the belt falling off? $\endgroup$
    – emrys57
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Google "flanged pulley", "flat belts" and see what you get. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 14:13

1 Answer 1


It would appear that in this factory, power was transmitted to individual machines by means of overhead shafting driven by a main engine where power was taken off the main shaft by means of a belt connecting a pulley on the overhead shaft with another pulley on the machine. Power was then interrupted locally by jumping the belt off the pulleys and re-engaged by guiding it back onto them, as opposed to providing some means of slacking the belt to clutch it out and tightening it to clutch it in.

Jumping the belt while the main shaft was turning may have been common practice at the time but is is an extraordinarily dangerous practice unless performed with consummate skill.

There are youtube videos of mechanics using screwdriver shanks to jump the fan drive belt onto the driven pulley of a running Volkswagen engine, a practice which should give sober minds pause.


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