Gyroscopic Monorail
The Self Balancing Monorail
Mayo Man Invents Gyroscopic Monorail 1909
The Brennan Gyro-Monorail
 The Brennan Gyro-Monorail was developed by the Irish-born Australian inventor Louis Brennan. (1852-1932) It was 40 feet long and weighed 22 tons, and was designed to carry 10 tons. Speed on the level was 22 mph. The vehicle was balanced by two vertical gyroscopes mounted side by side, and spinning in opposite directions at 3000 rpm. Each gyroscope was 3.5 feet in diameter and weighed 3/4 of a ton each. They were enclosed in evacuated casings to reduce air-friction losses. The rotational axes were horizontal.

In the Gillingham tests the vehicle was fitted with two petrol engines. A small 20 hp unit powered the gyroscopes, drove an air-compressor (for braking?) lighted the car, and propelled it at slow speeds. A larger 80 hp engine was used for high-speed propulsion.
Brennan patented the concept in 1903; see patent No 27,212, with the unsensational title "Improvements in and relating to the Imparting of Stability to otherwise Unstable Bodies, Structures or Vehicles"...

The Louis Brennan gyroscopic monorail, demonstrated to the press at Gillingham. Kent, on 10th November, 1909
. Note the soldiers standing on the rear platform- apparently 40 of them.
The sleepers of the test track were 3.5 ft in length, laid 2.5 feet apart without ballast. The steepest gradient on the track was 1 in 13, and the sharpest curve had a radius of only 35 feet.
Note the double-flanged wheels to prevent slipping off the rail.

The first model was a very simple proof-of-concept of the 1903 patent. It was 2ft 6in long, 12in wide, and 10in long, with the whole of the internal space being taken up by the gyroscopes, motors and accumulators. No photographs of it are known to exist.
The second model was a one-eighth scale version of a proposed prototype for a monorail system, and still exists. It was used to demonstrate the gyroscope principle to the Royal Society in 1907. The electrically-powered model travelled along a single wire 6 feet above the ground, using grooved wheels, and maintained its balance despite its forward motion being repeatedly stopped, and the wire violently swung. On the strength of this, Brennan was granted a subsidy by the War Office to build the full-scale machine.

  The Brennan model in action, using just one of a pair of rails.
The model was 6 ft long and 18 in wide, with a total weight of about 175 pounds. The accumulators to power the electric motors can be seen at the back of the load-deck...

How the two gyroscopes were mechanically coupled to utilise the precession forces.

When the car tilted, each gyroscope would try to precess by rotating round a vertical axis. This would not in itself stop tilting, as the torque is in the direction of steering rather than tilting. However, two gyros spinning in opposite directions produce precession forces in opposite directions, and when these are geared together as shown the result is a reaction on the horizontal shaft that counteracts the original tilt. Here the gyroscope axes are pointing out of the page.,,

The Brennan model, carrying Brennan's daughter on an aerial wire.

The Brennan model in the National Railway Museum at York.
...In the right foreground can be seen one of the electric motors, with its reduction gearing. At the bottom can be seen the coupling rod between the two wheels. The two dials on vertical shafts look as though they were for controlling speed (left) and forward/stop/reverse (right). The function of the handwheel above the motor pivot is unknown; possibly it controlled some sort of friction damper. The accumulators were mounted where the green-baize table thingy is. This is the back end. The gyroscope assembly is at the far (front) end.

The Brennan model in the National Railway Museum at York.

This is the front end, with the two white gyroscopes at the left, and the geared traction motor at right. The white label says "Traction motor" but it is actually stuck on the reduction gear casing. The coupling rod between the two wheels can be clearly seen.

The thing at extreme right appears to be a headlight, mounted with horizontal springing, for some reason. It seems to be fitted in the picture of the model carrying Brennan's daughter. (above)

Once again the function of the handwheel above the motor pivot is unknown; possibly a friction damper.

Picture kindly provided by Stephen Holland.
brennan's gyroscopic mono-rail car

Photograph of the Brennan Gyrostatic Mono-rail car at the White City (Willow’s airship visible in background)

Science Museum Group

Model Gyroscopic Mono-Rail car, scale 1:8, built by Brennan.
The inventor Louis Brennan (1852-1932) built this working model in about 1907 to demonstrate his ideas for a single-tracked rail vehicle stabilised by two linked gyroscopes. Brennan's daughter became a guinea-pig and was enlisted to help him conduct tests and demonstrations to prove the stability of his invention.

Brennan had patented the Gyroscopic Mono-Rail design in 1903 and was commissioned by the United Kingdom's War Department to create a full size prototype. He built his full size version in 1909, and it was 40ft long, weighed 22 tons and could carry a load of up to 15 tons. Demonstrations to the Press took place as well as an exhibition at the White City in 1910, where fifty passengers were driven around a circular track - one of the passengers was Winston Churchill who showed considerable support for the invention. Despite this, investors were not convinced and the Mono-Rail was not adopted.
Gyro monorail

The gyro monorail, gyroscopic monorail, gyro-stabilized monorail, or gyrocar are terms for a single rail land vehicle that uses the gyroscopic action of a spinning wheel to overcome the inherent instability of balancing on top of a single rail.

The monorail is associated with the names Louis Brennan, August Scherl and Pyotr Shilovsky, who each built full-scale working prototypes during the early part of the twentieth century. A version was developed by Ernest F. Swinney, Harry Ferreira and Louis E. Swinney in the US in 1962.

The gyro monorail was never developed beyond the prototype stage.

The principal advantage of the monorail cited by Shilovsky is the suppression of hunting oscillation, a speed limitation encountered by conventional railways at the time. Also, sharper turns are possible compared to the 7 km radius of turn typical of modern high-speed trains such as the TGV, because the vehicle will bank automatically on bends, like an aircraft,[1] so that no lateral centrifugal acceleration is experienced on board.

A major drawback is that many cars – including passenger and freight cars, not just the locomotive – would require a powered gyroscope to stay upright.

Unlike other means of maintaining balance, such as lateral shifting of the centre of gravity or the use of reaction wheels, the gyroscopic balancing system is statically stable, so that the control system serves only to impart dynamic stability. The active part of the balancing system is therefore more accurately described as a roll damper.
Brennan monorail.png

 Harmsworth Popular Science (c.1913, Vol.3, p.1684)

The image in the leader section depicts the 22 tonnes (22 long tons; 24 short tons) 22 tonne (unladen weight) prototype vehicle developed by Louis Brennan.[3] Brennan filed his first monorail patent in 1903.

His first demonstration model was just a 30.0 by 11.8 inches (762 by 300 mm) box containing the balancing system. However, this was sufficient for the Army Council to recommend a sum of £10,000 for the development of a full-size vehicle. This was vetoed by their Financial Department. However, the Army found £2,000 from various sources to fund Brennan's work.

Within this budget Brennan produced a larger model, 6.0 by 1.5 feet (1.83 by 0.46 m), kept in balance by two 5.0 inches (127 mm) diameter gyroscope rotors. This model is still in existence in the London Science Museum. The track for the vehicle was laid in the grounds of Brennan's house in Gillingham, Kent. It consisted of ordinary gas piping laid on wooden sleepers, with a 50 feet (15 m) wire rope bridge, sharp corners and slopes up to one in five. Brennan demonstrated his model in a lecture to the Royal Society in 1907 when it was shown running back and forth "on a taught and slender wire" "under the perfect control of the inventor".[4]

Brennan's reduced scale railway largely vindicated the War Department's initial enthusiasm. However, the election in 1906 of a Liberal government, with policies of financial retrenchment, effectively stopped the funding from the Army. However, the India Office voted an advance of £6,000 (equivalent to £675,267 in 2021) in 1907 to develop the monorail for the North West Frontier region, and a further £5,000 (equivalent to £555,391 in 2021) was advanced by the Durbar of Kashmir in 1908. This money was almost spent by January 1909, when the India Office advanced a further £2,000 (equivalent to £221,795 in 2021).

On 15 October 1909, the railcar ran under its own power for the first time, carrying 32 people around the factory. The vehicle was 40.0 by 9.8 feet (12.2 by 3 m), and with a 20 horsepower (15 kW) petrol engine, had a speed of 22 miles per hour (35 km/h). The transmission was electric, with the petrol engine driving a generator, and electric motors located on both bogies. This generator also supplied power to the gyro motors and the air compressor. The balancing system used a pneumatic servo, rather than the friction wheels used in the earlier model.

The gyros were located in the cab, although Brennan planned to re-site them under the floor of the vehicle before displaying the vehicle in public, but the unveiling of Scherl's machine forced him to bring forward the first public demonstration to 10 November 1909. There was insufficient time to re-position the gyros before the monorail's public debut.

The real public debut for Brennan's monorail was the Japan-British Exhibition at the White City, London in 1910. The monorail car carried 50 passengers at a time around a circular track at 20 miles per hour (32 km/h). Passengers included Winston Churchill, who showed considerable enthusiasm. Interest was such that children's clockwork monorail toys, single-wheeled and gyro-stabilised, were produced in England and Germany.[5][6] Although a viable means of transport, the monorail failed to attract further investment. Of the two vehicles built, one was sold as scrap, and the other was used as a park shelter until 1930. ..


US1183530 [ PDF ]

US1019942 [ PDF ]

Improvements relating' to methods of and means for imparting stability to and maintaining stability of bodies such as single track vehicles or vessels

Improvements in and relating tothe imparting of stability to otherwise unstable bodies, structures or vehicles

CA131336 (A)

CA92599 (A)

CA76586 (A)

Improvements in Lubrication of Bearings for Gyrostats.
GB190930417 (A)

Improvements in and relating to the Suspension and Running Gear of Single Track Vehicles.
GB190929579 (A)

Improvement in Means for Imparting Stability to Unstable Bodies.
GB190926034 (A)
Improvements in and relating to the Imparting of Stability to otherwise Unstable Bodies, Structures or Vehicles
GB190327212 (A)