Russia’s Giant Snake Train Rolls Speedily on Steel Balls (Feb, 1934)

Russia’s Giant Snake Train Rolls Speedily on Steel Balls

AN ELECTRIC train which travels on steel balls instead of wheels has been tested in Russia with remarkable success.

The speedy train, which was designed by a young Soviet engineer named Yarmolshuk, resembles a giant reptile weaving about the countryside. The inventor declares his final design will have a running speed of 190 m. p. h.

Huge balls under each car roll on a single concave concrete track, greatly reducing rolling friction. Gyroscopes in each car keep the train balanced even on the sharpest curves, and curved guards along the track prevent the train from tipping.

12 comments
  1. fluffy says: January 2, 200812:21 am

    The headline made me giggle. I am such a 12-year-old inside.

  2. Neil Russell says: January 2, 20086:06 pm

    I would have figured the idea was based on the sport of curling, but if so there would be a big broom on the front of the train to keep debris out of the special concave track. ;)

    At 190mph I bet a possum could upend that thing if he was down in the bottom of the track. Or whatever equivalent thing to a possum is in Russia!!

  3. Al Bear says: January 3, 200810:01 am

    Wow it really does have balls of steel! ;)

  4. Tim Giachetti says: January 4, 20085:53 am

    All Russia have steel balls!

  5. Carlos S says: January 5, 20086:50 pm

    The lateral instability of that thing would be awsome, despite the gyroscopes! It would grind the sides against the lateral concrete guards. Besides, the vibrations and noise of those giant steel bearings rolling on concrete would be unbearable. And any debris on the track would make the train jump, literally, as Neil Russell noted.

  6. Robert Haines says: February 7, 200812:51 pm

    Also: how would they induce braking? Even if they could come up with some method for acting on the giant solid steel balls, the inertia/momentum of would be considerable. I wonder how much of the original story was true.

  7. Emili Gray says: February 17, 20089:26 am

    Heh – the headline is priceless -) –
    Yarmolshuk (Ярмолшук?) is a pretty strange name, if you ask me.

  8. Andrew Sem. says: February 29, 20086:02 am

    And also… How this this train will “land”? The railway station should have special equipment for that. :)

  9. anachoret says: February 29, 20085:05 pm

    > Yarmolshuk (Ярмолшук?) is a pretty strange name, if you ask me.
    This is his second name. I suppose “Gray” doesn’t strange you. Peace, dude…

  10. cDima says: March 3, 20083:50 am

    I’m not sure why everyone thinks the debris would knock the train loose. Are two tracks much more stable than one at 190mph? The momentum/inertia problems go for the current trains too. I’d be more scared to ride a two-track train more, a simple misalignment of the two tracks would send any train hurling, right?

  11. Alexander says: July 24, 20096:33 am

    Trial rides of a model of this train (1/5 of real size) was recorded in 1934 and can be found on youtube. The speed of a model reached 70 km/h.

    youtube.com/watch?v=WKf…

  12. e sa?l?k says: June 4, 20112:02 am

    Thanks I’m not sure why everyone thinks the debris would knock the train loose. Are two tracks much more stable than one at 190mph? The momentum/inertia problems go for the current trains too. I’d be more scared to ride a two-track train more, a simple misalignment of the two tracks would send any train hurling, right?

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