WhisperJet is a great success! The monorail completes a circle in about 10 seconds, compared to 22 seconds for the original. In addition it is much quieter and smoother than the original, due to the belt drive and the round drive wheel. Combined with enhanced sound and lighting along with radio control this converts the toy into a realistic model.
September 2015 - It's time for a major update! This site has three main parts:
News Flash 22 Oct 2015
I finally got around to unwinding a monorail motor armature to confirm what it really is. 100 turns of about 0.18 mm wire makes it officially a Mabuchi FC-130RA 18100, a pretty mellow motor but good on battery life. The difference between FA and FC is FC has carbon brushes.
Not a modern invention.
Although commonly thought of as a modern invention monorails have been with us since 1825 and self-propelled since 1876. The oldest surviving monorail was built in 1901 and is still in operation.
By 1914 monorails had developed into a form that is similar to today's straddle-beam systems.This 1914 Genoa Monorail is easily recognizable as a precursor to modern monorail systems.
Many monorails were built to showcase technology for a world's fair or expositions, such as the ones in Philadelphia (1876), Genoa Italy (1914), Turin Italy (1961), Seattle (1962), and New York (1964).
Of course the best known monorails are those at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, not surprising since the latter is the #1 tourist destination in the world. These monorails have been in daily operation since 1959 and 1971 respectively, transporting millions of guests. Most monorails built since that time are based on similar technology developed by Alweg and continued by Hitachi and Bombardier. The Las Vegas, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, and Moscow monorails follow this design as does the one being built at the ultra-exclusive resort, Palm Jumeirah.
Disney has it.
Disney's models are readily available and reasonably priced, and form the basis of most monorail modeling. The only other recent well known model is by Rokenbok but their model does not represent any prototype and is of little interest to most modelers. Monorail modeling mostly appears to take one of two forms, Disney collectors who have a small layout with only a monorail (and maybe some theme park items), and model railroaders who have a monorail in the background to add interest.
For the first group the monorail is the star, the reason for the layout. The second group considers the monorail as more like moving scenery, the railroad is of primary interest. Still, for either group smooth operation of the monorail completes the scene while poor operation ruins the illusion.
As with the prototypes, model monorails are not new either. Here are some links to model monorails of the past, one as old as 1930's:
Leland Detroit Monorail 1930ís
(Detroit Monorail Set, n. d.)
Schuco - Disneland 1961-1968
AMF 1964/65 World's Fair
(Amf Monorail, 2004)
From Toy to Scale Model
Operation makes the difference
The difference is primarily in the operation. Toys can run around in a circle, roughly and noisily. Scale models must run smoothly to give the appearance (and the illusion) of the real thing. True scale modelers will spend many hours and many dollars to improve the operation of their models, then continue with scenery to enhance the realism. The end result is to re-create a scene from the prototype where the modeler can immerse themselves if only briefly, in a miniature world. This is where we come in, to help turn Disney's toy into a finely operating scale model!
The Monorail Society. (2008). Retrieved May 29, 2008, from The Monorail Society Web site: http://monorails.org