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Ewing Monorail System: Old-Tech, Rail made Easy
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    January 2012

    Cheaper to build and to maintain, and less engineering required. Wonder why it hasn't seen more uses, thoughts?


    The railways based on the Ewing System are basically monorails using a
    balancing wheel for balancing the train. The main load (almost 95%) is
    borne by the single rail while the rest is borne by the balancing wheel
    which runs on the ground. Further, in normal train systems, the rails
    have to be at almost exact level of other rail, failing which the train
    may go off the tracks. By using Ewing system, this problem is solved as
    the balancing wheel does not need exact level to maintain the balance of
    monorail. In addition the cost of laying tracks also goes down
    considerably since only one rail is used. Another benefit of using Ewing
    System was that the balancing wheel could run on existing tarred roads
    as well as the macadam roads thus further reducing cost to lay down

    Using one rail also means that the turning circle is far less than the
    standard trains. PSMT had to pass through some very congested areas.
    Since the space need to lay the tracks was less and balancing wheel
    could run on existing roads, PSMT succeeded in running through the
    congested urban areas of Patiala. The balancing wheel of PSMT ran on the
    roads and did not interfere with normal traffic.

    The major benefit of trains is that they run on steel tracks. Steel rail
    can carry more load with less rolling friction than any other mode of
    ground transport. However the major problem with laying steel tracks is
    that both rails have to rise and fall and bank together. Further, laying
    two tracks also requires more space and more maintenance. Also the
    turning radius of the train is restricted by the difference in length or
    distance traveled between the inside and outside rails is a factor in
    curve resistance. Curve resistance means that the wheels on the inside
    rail travel a shorter distance than the wheels on the outside rail to
    get the vehicle around a curve. The trains can only turn to the limit
    where its outer wheels can cope with additional required speed. In case,
    the outer wheels fail to maintain or reach the required speed, the
    train may derail.

    W.J. Ewing implemented a monorail system, with only one rail and double
    flanged rail wheels, that had been proposed by William Thorold in a
    lecture to the British Association in 1868. This system avoided all
    those problems, since it was laid out along the side of a road, it took
    up very little land. Further, the road or balance wheel's main purpose
    was balance the train and to keep it upright. The balancing wheel on the
    road carried only 4% or 5% of the load, it did not subtract much from
    the steel wheel-steel rail efficiency. As the track was on side of the
    road, it was no obstacle to vehicles crossing it. Further, since it was a
    monorail with a supporting wheel on the ground, the issue of curve
    resistance did not arise in Ewing System, since the wheels were placed
    on a single track only.
  • 1 Comment sorted by
  • Cool. An outrigger system for trains. What's the drawback? There must be a reason no one uses that design.

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