A mechanical gravity brake that prevents hoisted loads within a shaft from free-falling when a loss of hoisting force occurs. A loss of hoist lifting force may occur in a number of situations, for example if a hoist cable were to break, the brakes were to fail on a winch, or the hoist mechanism itself were to fail. Under normal hoisting conditions, the gravity brake of the invention is subject to an upward lifting force from the hoist and a downward pulling force from a suspended load. If the lifting force should suddenly cease, the loss of differential forces on the gravity brake in free-fall is translated to extend a set of brakes against the walls of the shaft to stop the free fall descent of the gravity brake and attached load.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36, awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.