Page images

outing costumes. It can be made to look like a good grade of ducking and is an excellent material for wear in the tropics. For workmen's jackets and blouses and overalls it can be made up in brown and blue at half the cost of the material usually employed.

Although there seems to be no limit to which the new fiber can be put, fashion will have to take up the new material before it will be worn extensively by the higher class of people. While possessing most of the good qualities of the fashionable stuffs, it may yet lack in finish and style the appearance of finer grades of woolen goods ; but it really makes little difference whether the paper woven garment becomes the vogue or not, as its many admirable qualities, coupled with excessive cheapness, are bound to make it an article of practical and far-reaching value.

The process of preparing the paper yarn is a secret one and patents have

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic][merged small][merged small]

Shall We Travel on One Rail?

By William T. Walsh

NE hundred and twenty miles an hour, in a coach as broad and bulky as a house, running on a single

rail, taking curves without

u diminution of speed, and rushing across rivers and over dizzy heights on a swaying cable—these are among marvels that are promised to the world of transportation for the morrow.

“Very wonderful, certainly,” you say, and then you add, with a note of apology for your doubt, "only this is nothing but a dream.” A dream, perhaps; but still a dream that may be fulfilled in the waking.

Over in England, the original home

of the steam railway, lives a man whose name not long since was flashed over the wires to every newspaper on the globe. This man is Louis Brennan, already famous as inventor of the Brennan torpedo, in use by the British navy. The cause of the present world-wide attention accorded him is his discovery of the apparently practical application of an old principle—that of the gyroscopeto the operation of a railroad. Should his hopes be even partially realized, the vast network of lines in this and other countries must of necessity be relegated to the antique class with horse-cars and wooden frigates.

Mr. Brennan has been at work on his




recently announced theory for over thirty years. During all this time he has been making continuous experiments. The working model which he designed was completed more than two years ago. Now, with full confidence in his discovery, he at last proclaims it to the world. Financially, he has been assisted to some extent by the British and Indian governments. It was in compliance with their request that for some two years he has kept silent. Now that

The MONO-RAIL ROUNDING A CURVE. the government of India purposes to make an early experi- however, were not placed in double row, ment with his invention in the rougher but one behind the other, like those of a sections of that country, the secret is out. bicycle. Two electric motors were pro

When the members of the Royal So- vided to turn the four wheels, all of ciety of London were invited to the pri- which acted as drivers. They further vate grounds of the inventor, to examine saw a closed compartment in the forward into his work, they saw things that made end of the car, and in the rear of this

the strange mechanical device that made this unusual build possible—the gyroscope. What is a gyroscope? It consists essentially of a disk revolving on pivots within a ring, having on the line of prolongation of its axis, on one side, a bar or spur with a smooth notch beneath to receive the hard, smooth point of an upright support. Thus placed, when the disk is not turning, the whole falls, of course, like any heavy body unsupported. If rotated rapidly by unwinding a string, set on the support, while the opposite side of the ring is upheld no peculiar movement then occurs; but if while the disk is rapidly turning, the bar being on the support, the opposite side be set free, the whole, instead of falling,

as would be expected, commences a A GYROSCOPIC TOP, THE SIMPLEST FORM OF GYROSCOPE. steady revolution in a horizontal circuit

about the point of support, moving more them marvel. First, they were shown a rapidly as the primary rotation is exmodel of the new locomotive, for which pended, and sinking, at first imperceptiits inventor had hinted incredible possi- bly, then more rapidly, until in from bilities. The oddity of its construction one to three minutes it comes to rest. was at once apparent. It consists of a Such is the ordinary gyroscope. long, shallow body upon a pair of two- From a gyroscopic top, which can be wheeled motor trucks. These wheels, bought at almost any toy shop, the prin

[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]

vacuum is to cause the gyroscopic wheels to revolve for some time after the current is cut off. He also told them that the gyroscopes rotate in opposite directions at the speed of 7,500 revolutions a minute. The weight of these gyroscopes is five per cent that of the weight of the whole machine. When the locomotive was set in operation another surprise developed for the investigators. Away flew the car on its single rail. It shot up steep grades, took sharp curves, and ran along a suspended wire cable.

scopic, or mono-rail, locomotive. Gasoline will be the motive power. The gyroscope planned will make from 2,000 to 3,000 revolutions per minute, which the inventor claims is sufficient.

The railway coaches of the present are limited in size by the necessity of having a double rail track system. The mono-rail is not thus handicapped. If it is shown that the device is practical on as large a scale as that of the ordinary coach, there is nothing to prevent one's traveling in a vehicle as well-equipped as a first-class hotel. The carriages may be fitted with rooms for every purpose, such as for smoking, dining, reading, writing. Even promenade and music rooms to relieve the tedium of travel are not too much to expect. And all this on a train that will travel without a jar at a speed of over one hundred miles an hour. For the peculiar balancing qualities of the gyroscope tend to obviate side oscillation, and the absence of a parallel track, which of necessity can never be quite parallel, does away completely with the bumps and jars produced by one rail being a trifle higher than its fellow, or a fraction of an inch out of alignment. It is owing to this lack of lateral oscillation and the remarkable reduction of friction due to the use of the single rail and absence of flange-pressure on curves that such high speed can be attained.

The tremendous economy of a single rail and a wide car are easily apparent In the first place the cost of steel is cut in two. The sleepers also only require to be one-half their present length, or less. Moreover, the present massive bridge may be dispensed with. For temporary work, a single wire hawser

stretched across a ravine or river is all that is necessary. It is claimed that the swaying of this hawser cannot disturb the balance of the cars, and that the strongest winds will fail to blow them off. For permanent work a single row of piles with a rail on top will suffice, or a single girder carrying the rail may be conveniently used. With reduced friction in the mono-rail system, the cost for fuel will be less. Another advantage in this respect is that either steam, petrol, oil, gas, or electricity may be used, as best suits local conditions. The danger of derailment at high speeds is also obviated. When these various things are considered, the wonderful advantages of the mono-rail system become evident.

There is another side to all this, however. Mechanical effects that work perfectly on a small scale may fail utterly when put to practical use. The inventor states that the weight of the gyroscope is but five per cent of the total weight of the car. Five per cent of sixty tons, the weight of an average coach at the present time, would be three tons. A fly-wheel of that weight, going at so great a speed, would be subjected to a

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »