New Russian Monorail RUNS IN TROUGH ON BIG SPHERES (Feb, 1934)


FRAGMENTARY and conflicting reports from Russia of a revolutionary new type of railway under secret test there, which aroused the curiosity and interest of the American engineering world, have just been followed by the first complete details of the new system, and actual photographs of a working model in operation. Fully as remarkable as advance reports, the system proposed by M. I. Yarmanchuk, its inventor, calls for streamlined trains running at 125 miles an hour on giant, flattened spheres, twelve feet in diameter, instead of wheels. Each car is supported by two of these spheres, one at each end, and they are whirled by electric motors contained within their shells and mounted on the rigid axles. Since the center of gravity of the car lies below the axle, the car is not topheavy and will not easily overturn. A single curved trough of reinforced concrete serves as a track, entitling the strange system to be classed as a monorail. According to the inventor, this track should cost no more than a standard automobile highway to build. To test his scheme, the inventor has built and operated successfully near Moscow, a model railway with twenty-four-foot cars on a mile-long track. Plans are now under way to construct a thirty-mile railway on the same system, with 120-foot cars.

  1. Stannous says: March 30, 200810:26 am

    ‘giant flattened spheres’?
    Oh, you mean tires?

  2. Robert Inkol says: March 30, 200811:00 am

    There seem to be some engineering issues here.

    1. It can be easily seen that the tangential velocity at the edge of the spherical wheels is going to be less than at their centers (think what would happen if you approximated this geometry by stacking narrow disk like wheels of varying diameters). If the wheels contact the trough-like track over a large area, as appears to be the design intent, there will be considerable wear and drag caused by the resulting slippage.

    2. The claim that keeping the center of gravity below the axle height is, at best, an oversimplification.


  3. Klopfer says: March 30, 20084:12 pm

    One of the photos was used in another article about a Russian train (posted here on January 2nd), and there it was claimed that the train runs on steel balls. O_o

  4. Rick Auricchio says: March 31, 20081:15 pm

    I don’t understand the fascination with monorails. Why bother when conventional rails seem to work well?

  5. Charlie says: March 31, 20081:17 pm

    Plus, it hardly seems like a monorail when your train rides IN the rail instead of on it.

  6. Swooters says: August 19, 20094:26 pm

    Quite interesting design.

    One can only wonder what a picture of Charlie Sheen is doing in that article, though. 😉

  7. Firebrand38 says: August 19, 20094:38 pm

    Just like a joke (only not as funny)

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