Technical Articles - what I have learned in 15 years of playing with model monorails - including the new Disneyland model
November 2014 - WhisperJet, the ultimate Disney HO monorail modification - smooth, quiet, and fast
the N scale chassis is now made by 3D printing (with some final machining touch-ups). This makes the chassis much easier to make and less $$$ too! The Mark IVb has all the best feaures from what I have learned over the years and runs great. DelTang radios are smaller than anything I have found and allow full speed control, forward/reverse and even on/off lights.
a smaller N scale chassis, only 63mm long x 16mm wide!
an easy and inexpensive ($40) infrared control system for the HO Disney monorail, from Lego power functions
July 2011: the N scale Mark IV is finished and it runs great! This is a very difficult project but the key is the chassis, so I may make and sell that component (along with a parts list and instructions). The chassis is very complex to make and will not be inexpensive, if anyone is seriously interested please contact me. The rest of the parts can be purchased from various suppliers and should be about $200, not including making the beamway.
Not For Sale: I have received many requests to convert Disney monorails to radio control but it still takes too long to make any profit if I charge a reasonable fee. My preference for now is to provide any assistance I can to anyone who wants to try to convert their monorail so please ignore any reference to prices on this website.
It has been some time but there are finally some updates to the site. Since the Mark II HO monorail I have worked mostly on the N scale project and then had to take off a couple years to go back to school. Well, it is long overdue but the HO monorail has received a total update using much of the technology learned from the N scale project.
The HO Mark III retains *all* the original systems *and* includes user replaceable batteries, AAA cells that can be found anywhere. All this is the result of very modern radio gear and some other benefits are longer run time and greatly improved radio operation. Even the cost of the radio gear has dropped, making the RC monorail more affordable!
As usual I am putting some instructions for converting your monorail on the web site. It is a lot easier this time, with much less cutting and grinding of the plastic shell. Less soldering too! See the HO_RC page for more details.
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 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.)
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