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A Lively Interview with

         Roland Verreet: “The Rope Pope”

                                                  by Barbara Spencer
         With no intention of retiring, Verreet travels worldwide as perhaps the most well-
         known wire rope designer, inspector, consultant and speaker. He says he was
         once introduced as “the man who makes wire rope sexy.” But he thinks that wire
         rope has always been sexy.

            n Germany he is called “Seilpapst.”   Scottsdale, Arizona in April. (See side   on was the Eiffel Tower elevator reno-
            In English, Roland Verreet is “The   box on page 14 for details.)  vations. Another was the layout of the
         IRope Pope.”                                                          new Panama Canal locks. But perhaps
           We caught up with him at his home-  Catapulting humans at Euro Disney  the  most  fascinating  is  the  catapult
         town of Aachen,  Germany.  In his  lab   Verreet has been involved in design-  used in Space Mountain at Euro Dis-
         there, he develops and tests steel wire   ing rope for decades. He says that as   ney in Paris.
         rope for specific applications.    a consultant you get two kinds of jobs,   He tells this story:
           At 67, Verreet has 42 years of exper-  “the jobs the companies don’t want to do   “In 1993 I attended an ISO standards
         tise  in  the  wire  rope  lifting  industry,   themselves (these are the bad ones) and   meeting. One  of  the attendees pulled
         and speaks throughout the world for   the jobs the companies cannot do them-  out this letter he’d received proposing
         companies  and organizations,  includ-  selves (these are the very interesting   the idea of building a machine  that
         ing  the  International  Organization   and fascinating ones). The latter jobs   would shock load wire rope. Others said
         for the Study of Ropes (OIPEEC) and   normally lead you into unknown ter-  they had received the same letter and
         the Associated Wire Rope Fabricators   ritory, and you can be sure that you’ll   all agreed it was a crazy idea to build
         (AWRF). In fact, he’ll be the keynote   learn something new in the process.”  a catapult using wire rope. I didn’t say
         speaker at the AWRF meeting near     One  of the jobs he enjoyed working   anything, but I had also gotten the let-
                                                                               ter and even though it sounded crazy, I
                                                                               was intrigued and called the author of
                                                                               the letter, Jean Marc Teissier.
                                                                                 “Jean Marc is a mechanical engineer,
                                                                               and at the time didn’t know much about
                                                                               wire rope. But we succeeded in convinc-
                                                                               ing Disney of a design using wire rope,
                                                                               and today this concept is used in cata-
                                                                               pult systems all over the world.”
                                                                                 Every  36  seconds,  24  passengers  on
                                                                               the Space Mountain train are shot into
                                                                               a huge dome by means of a rope-driven
                                                                               catapult. First, gravity pulls the train to
                                                                               the bottom of the canon slope. Then, af-
                                                                               ter the catapult pusher loads the canon,
                                                                               the train gets into position and acceler-
                                                                               ates 1,3g, reaching a speed of more than
                                                                               50 km/h in less than 2 seconds.
                                                                                 “In our joint paper we thanked Dis-
                                                                               ney for funding our $120 million wire
                                                                               rope test machine,” Verreet says.
                                                                                 Today Verreet’s colleague Jean Marc
                                                                               Teissier is a wire rope expert in his own
                                                                               right,  building  rope-driven  structures
                                                                               like the opening roof of the Singapore
                                                                               Stadium. Wire Rope News & Sling Tech-
                                                                               nology will feature an interview with
                                                                               Jean Marc Teissier in a future issue.
                                                                               Analyzing wire rope, discovering
                                                                               sea creatures
                                                                                 Verreet was  born  in  Germany.  He
                                                                               graduated in  1975 with  a Mechanical
         Known by many as “The Rope Pope,” Roland Verreet travels worldwide to share his expertise   Engineering  degree from RWTH Uni-
         as a wire rope consultant, inspector, and speaker. Here he speaks at a seminar in Tasmania.  versity in  Aachen,  and still lives and
         All images courtesy of Roland Verreet unless othewise noted.                           continued on page 10
         8      Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   February 2018
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