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Monorail! Monorail! Mono... D'oh!
April 7, 2002 8:57 PM   Subscribe

Monorail! Monorail! Mono... D'oh! A 299' 9" long garden monorail, completed in five years.
posted by riffola (32 comments total)

 
Saw it at /., Neowin and a few other sites.

The Simpsons referrence is from "Marge vs. the Monorail," written by Conan O'Brien
posted by riffola at 8:59 PM on April 7, 2002


No home should be without one.
posted by y2karl at 9:01 PM on April 7, 2002


What a geek. I LOVE this story - it's guys like him that personify the true spirit of an 'American' and the American dream - regular people that work on their dreams and passions in their own spare time - and on the way maybe inspire the rest of us to do something, too.

Sure it took him 5 years to build something that Disney could put up in one summer vacation, but that's not the point - the point is that he had a vision and carried it through!!

Now, speaking of how Disney can throw up a monorail in a weekend... How come the larger, traffic choked cities in America don't just call up Disney and have them plop down a monorail system??
posted by matty at 9:40 PM on April 7, 2002


That guy is AWESOME. I think I speak for all people who know anything about woodworking and bending wood when I say GOOD LORD IS HE TRYING TO DO THAT ON HIS GARAGE FLOOR??

GOOD LORD. A few U clamps a handsaw and a drill later he has a monorail.
posted by Settle at 9:47 PM on April 7, 2002


I don't know.

They say those things are awfully loud...
posted by planetkyoto at 10:20 PM on April 7, 2002


They say those things are awfully loud...
Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.
posted by riffola at 10:23 PM on April 7, 2002


matty: How come the larger, traffic choked cities in America don't just call up Disney and have them plop down a monorail system??

a) Because many cities already have light rail systems that people don't use (for a number of reasons).

b) Because monorails offer no practical advantage over conventional light rail. They just look cool.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:28 PM on April 7, 2002


Well, if they ALL looked, cool - people might use them more!!

I admit it, I'm a marketers wet dream - and if it looks cool, I want it.

Last time I checked...

San Diego doesn't really have a light rail system, so I don't use it.

Atlanta has a light rail system, which is cool - I use it.

New York has a cool subway - I use it.

Tallahassee has no rail system - I'd use it.

Orlando has no rail system - I'd use it.

DC has a cool rail system - I use it.

San Fran has a crappy rail system - I don't use it.

Sydney has a crappy rail system - I don't use it.
posted by matty at 10:32 PM on April 7, 2002


And in fact monorails offer many significant disadvantages. Switching, for example, is Hell.

Even on the monorail enthusiasts's site, they list "æsthetics" first when comparing it with alternatives. The chief practical advantage touted seems to be reliability of rubber-tire wheel systems over steel, which seems rather small -- from my perspective most CTA railcars are out of service because of the engines, the environmental systems, or the other mechanicals like doors. All of those would still apply to monorails.

By the way, I was momentarily juiced that this might be in Niles, IL, but it's actually in a neighborhood of Fremont, CA. Ah well, at least we still have the leaning tower

Still, for the most part nobody's building elevated dual rail (heavy or light) anymore. For grade-separated systems, monorails pretty much own the market.
posted by dhartung at 10:50 PM on April 7, 2002


the fact that he took the motor from his father-in-law's walker is pretty classic. great link!
posted by tsarfan at 11:12 PM on April 7, 2002


Please, why spend 5 years building a monorail when he could easily have gotten a true classic domestic transport device?
posted by willnot at 11:16 PM on April 7, 2002


The Osaka Monorail is in the Guinness book as the longest. Sorry, no English for some stupid reason, but if you click the third silver button from the left on the nav bar at top, you can see the route.
I've only used it a few times, to go to the Expoland theme park. (awkward English, Ahoy!). But what a letdown to go back to my hometown (Orange County) and find that the fantasy has fallen way behind the reality. I took my fiance to Disneyland, and the Monorail that was so cool and futuristic when I was a kid was basically unchanged, with hard plastic seats and no a/c.

BTW, Is there a chance the track might bend?
posted by planetkyoto at 12:03 AM on April 8, 2002


tsarfan: i think he took his father-in-law's walker b/c his father-in-law is dead and therefore didn't need it. at least that's the impression i got when reading the site b/c he said his mother-in-law gave him the walker.
posted by suprfli at 12:29 AM on April 8, 2002


Very interesting backyard project, although personally I'd want some sort of miniature (on the ground) train... not only would it be as cool as this guy's monorail, but you could actually use it to haul firewood or other stuff.
posted by canoeguide at 3:14 AM on April 8, 2002


not on your life my hindu friend.


a great link. what a cool guy.
posted by Frasermoo at 3:16 AM on April 8, 2002


You can use the monorail to haul firewood. Get a cart of somekind and tether it to the car on the track with a dog leash. Easy.

Failing that, tether the car to one of the supporting pillars and accelerate. Easier. :)
posted by vbfg at 4:17 AM on April 8, 2002


In Seattle, we have a monorail, which Elvis rode. We want more monorail. If they build it, He will come.
posted by y2karl at 6:44 AM on April 8, 2002


>>Atlanta has a light rail system, which is cool - I use it

Atlanta has a shitty subway system above ground, which ain't cool. I hate it.
posted by pooldemon at 6:46 AM on April 8, 2002


The biggest problem I have with light rail is that it a) Doesn't go where I want to go and B) Takes forever to get there.

I can be at work (by the airport) from my home in dowtown PDX in 12 to 20 minutes, depending on traffic. It would take me ten minutes to get to MAX and catch a blue-line train to downtown, another fifteen minutes of waiting for a red-line train to the airport, 40 to 50 minutes on said train, and then another ten minutes walking to work. I'm a college student and I work full time; I don't get that much time with my -girlfriend- each week!
posted by SpecialK at 6:47 AM on April 8, 2002


Oh yeah, and I think that a monorail can alleviate that, because it's quiet and the footprint required is small. Portland is so dense in the downtown and SE/NE areas that sneezing requires condemning and demolishing two houses.
posted by SpecialK at 6:48 AM on April 8, 2002


Re: Atlanta: I love MARTA. It becomes exponentially less shitty when you up and move to a city with no rail system at all, and busses that run rarely and never anywhere you want to go. I found MARTA worked best if you live and work on the lines, which I always made it a point to do.

Now, sitting in traffic in Atlanta? That's shitty.

OT: Was he sent here from the devil?
posted by jennyb at 6:56 AM on April 8, 2002


That was such an awsome link, riffola. I tend to think of this as way cooler than a garden train, because he had to build the whole dang thing from scratch: "The standard guage of rideable garden monorails is 4" X 8" track. Hey, I say so cuz I made the hobby up. ;-)"


dhartung: I think you missed some of the other pages at the monorail site, otherwise, you would have seen that you are perpetuating the The Switch Myth
posted by eckeric at 9:18 AM on April 8, 2002


That was such an awsome link, riffola. I tend to think of this as way cooler than a garden train, because he had to build the whole dang thing from scratch: "The standard guage of rideable garden monorails is 4" X 8" track. Hey, I say so cuz I made the hobby up. ;-)"


dhartung: I think you missed some of the other pages at the monorail site, otherwise, you would have seen that you are perpetuating the The Switch Myth
posted by eckeric at 9:26 AM on April 8, 2002


oops
posted by eckeric at 9:27 AM on April 8, 2002


I want a backyard subway.
posted by jeblis at 9:35 AM on April 8, 2002


The ring came off my pudding can.
posted by o2b at 10:36 AM on April 8, 2002


Because monorails offer no practical advantage over conventional light rail. They just look cool.

I'm only familiar with two light rail systems, but both involved lots of meandering about on city streets. The train can't move very quickly for fear of running over pedestrians or colliding with illegally parked cars, and all the automobile traffic has to stop at the signal and wait while the train goes by. Thus urban light rail tends not to move very quickly. Monorails have a practical advantage because they can move quickly through congested areas and can do so without disturbing road traffic.

The Seattle monorail gets up to 50 mph; it travels the mile from Westlake to the Seattle Center in about two minutes. The route is right through the middle of the city. There's no way a light rail system would be allowed to move faster than 15 mph through that stretch. For that matter, I don't think you could beat the monorail's time in a car even if the roads were cleared and the lights all set to green. I'd love to see this system extended throughout the city.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:47 AM on April 8, 2002


It's great to see that geeks aren't necessarily *computer* geeks. This guy is great!
posted by mrmanley at 1:21 PM on April 8, 2002


eckeric: Actually, I was going on the basis of endless flamewars about the myth on Usenet (misc.transport.urban-transit being one place). I still think they're playing it down, and it doesn't have anything to do with those overhead switches at Wuppertal.
posted by dhartung at 2:14 PM on April 8, 2002


dhartung: I am sure you are right that it is played down somewhat, but there seem to be a number of systems that have worked for a while now (it's not like we are talking about that bus/rail thing in Nancy). I tend to fall into the "more rail is good rail" camp, so I don't mind if it is a subway, light rail, or monorail. We have, like, a whole mile of trolley track here, so I would be thrilled to see any form of rail, grade separated or not. (but hey, didn't you find those animated gifs convincing? flip - floop - flip - floop)
posted by eckeric at 3:30 PM on April 8, 2002


"(but hey, didn't you find those animated gifs convincing? flip - floop - flip - floop)"

I love the one that actually *turns over* to switch the track. Took me a minute to figure out what was going on.


posted by CrayDrygu at 4:32 PM on April 8, 2002


It's not as much whether they work per se, as it is construction costs, maintenance costs, the need for additional structural support and clearance, and most important, the costs associated with changing things later. I'm no mechanical engineer, but it seems to me that making sure the switch mechanism (gearing, for example) is never load-bearing (or alternatively, that much stronger) is a tricky business.

Make no mistake, I like monorails. I'm just balancing their unabashed advocacy.
posted by dhartung at 5:57 PM on April 8, 2002


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