The N scale monorail is our pride and joy, something that no one else has dared to make. The design is proven with six of these in service (!). They are not for everyone but for some they are the only one. I have not built many of these because they are so labor intensive and as a result kind of expensive.
Update March 2017
the N scale has received an update to the chassis, adding a removeable sideplate to the rear axle. This makes it easier to build and to shim the rear axle for better gear mesh. The front of the first car now rests on the powered cab, adding weight for more traction from the drive wheel. Deltang's radios have gotten smaller
On request from a customer the beam is now 9.5 mm tall (still 5 mm wide) and it looks a lot better and more to scale. I designed 3D printed pylons that look close to those at Disneyland and another design for Walt Disney World.
The Mark I is way behind schedule due to issues with 3D printing the shell and painting it. The good part is it runs on the same beam as the WDW model so it is easy to switch over.
Update September 2015
working on a collaboration with another monorail enthusiast to make an N scale Disneyland Mark I. The model will be slightly smaller and narrower than the WDW model. Preliminary drawings of the body shells look good and the chassis/running gear is a condensed version of my Mark IV.
The Mark IV gets some tweaks to make it a little easier to build and a new precision sander makes the beam more consistent. Ball bearing beam rollers make it roll easier and more smoothly.
Update April 2013:
has it really been 4 years? The Mark IV was designed well if I do say so myself. In four years there have been no real changes to the basic layout, just refinements. The biggest news is the move to 3D printed chassis, this cuts the time to make a chassis from more than 8 hours to about 1 hour! This is also the breakthrough that made it feasible to sell chassis.
Update: April 2009
The numbering system is getting busy, I am now working on the Mark V! Using a 6mm diameter planetary gearmotor for power, this is easily the best design yet, and the closest to completion (since the Mark I). Initial testing shows performance to be just great, with excellent low speed performance and smoothness. I took a couple months off to work on the new HO Mark III. Now it is back to the N scale project, which should be ready for testing in April.
At this point I doubt any will be built for sale since this model requires so much work it would have to be priced at about $600 for the set (not including beamway). As with the HO RC model, I will continue to look for ways to make it simpler and less expensive.
N Scale: Radio Control
Disney makes a small model monorail spring pull-back toy, the idea is you pull it back to wind it up and it then runs forward, off the table and onto the floor. The model is close to N scale and looks about right with N scale accessories. The problem is the model is not electrically powered and has no beamway. It is also tiny and there is no drivetrain that will easily fit in the shell.
The basis for this project was a lack of space. I used to have plenty of room for a HO monorail layout but moved into a house where my wife wanted to use the dining room for ...dining! The answer was more space or less monorail and I didn't need to read the whole book to see how that story ended! Less monorail...hmm...
Could this little monorail be converted to run on a beam?
Walt Disney himself said "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." and "It's kind of fun to do the impossible.", so in the spirit of Walt I started this project. It was not impossible, just very, very difficult.
Indoor flight is very big in Europe and Japan and has a growing market in the US. The development of tiny radio control gear, motors, and batteries for indoor flight just might make it possible to fit a full RC setup in the N scale monorail shell.
The first model (Mk I) used the smallest 75 MHz gear available and it just barely fit. There was no room for the 30" antenna and shortening it caused erratic operation. On top of that the motor was too large and geared too high, making the monorail much too fast and too difficult to build.
Mark II was an attempt to correct the speed, Mark III would have been easier to build, but neither had it all and they never went beyond the design phase.
Plantraco's 900 MHz RC gear is certainly small, and it was no trouble to fit this into the monorail. This setup also only required one battery, again reducing the size. Finally, the antenna for 900 MHZ is only about 3" long and allows very good control of the monorail. The transmitter power is limited but the distance is only a few feet so it works well. Mark IV uses this radio gear and a modified RC servo for the drive system to provide scale speed and ease of assembly (I hope).
Yes, those are 1" squares!
Underside, showing drive wheels and beam rollers.
Mark I, it runs well but is too difficult to build. The Mark IV will correct that!