Monday, 23 April 2018

The gyroscopic car

This is an interesting oddity I discovered today while searching for something else in the Electric Railway Journal. In 1910, in Brooklyn USA, a monorail railway car was tested that used gyroscopes to keep it from falling over [1]. The Scherl monorail car (built in Germany) was tested at the Clearmont Ice Rink and could carry up to six passengers. The car was powered by a pair of two hp electric motors supplied by 110v DC from copper conductors either side of the running rail. The current being collected by shoes mounted on the bogies - the wheels having double flanges.

The car was kept upright by a pair of gyroscopes, these consisted of a steel wheel rotating in a near vacuum. Emergency props could be deployed by the motorman if the gyroscopes failed!

The car ran on an oval test track at up to 4mp/h and apparently worked perfectly fine with passengers not dumped unceremoniously on the floor!

More about Scherl's gyro monorail cars can be seen here.

Bogie detail, notice the collector shoe and double flanged wheels

[1] "Gyroscopic car in Brooklyn", Electric Railway Journal Vol. XXXV No. 3 (January 1910) p. 116