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The Brennan Gyroscopic Mono-Rail (1909)


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This invention is the most amazing invention I have come across, and I'm surprised I'd never heard of it before. Neither am I surprised that it didn't take off - although it did have a number of intriguing features.

 

The inventor of this mode of transport was one Louis Brennan, an Irish-born Australian, who obviously had a very fertile and agile mind.

 

Unfortunately, despite his perserverance and commendable efforts, the basic elements of the design of his amazing gyroscopic mono-rail vehicle, still had serious deficiencies that could not be overcome, not even with modern technology and materials.

 

http://www.douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/LOCOLOCO/brennan/brennan.htm

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Yeah, that's the most interesting part of the whole deal. How did they stand it up to get the gyros spinning initially? - and what happened when the engine driving the gyros failed? 

 

And of course, nothing is mentioned of how strong the gyroscopic force was, to keep the unit exactly upright. If a group of passengers all rushed to one side to look at something, would that make the mono-rail lean alarmingly?

 

It amazes me that Brennan couldn't see the basic deficiencies of this design, that meant it would never be a commercially viable idea.

 

The saving of only needing one rail line is not huge when you take into account the overall cost factors in building railway infrastructure.

 

The need is still there for serious amounts of earthmoving to ensure modest grades and gradual curves, the need is still there for bridges, culverts, ballast and sleepers, signalling, and all the other rail infrastructure.

 

And the cost of monorail coaches or rail trucks isn't a huge saving over the cost of regular rail coaches and rail trucks. There's only a saving in a halved railway rail cost.

 

I think Brennan must have become a little obsessed with his fascination with gyros and gyroscopic precession, which led him to forget about examining the overall picture.

 

Brennans helicopter is another amazing piece of his inventive work, that was quite unique in many of its principles - and it did actually fly - which is more than could be said for some of his contemporaries inventions of the era.

 

https://oldmachinepress.com/2015/01/08/brennan-helicopter/

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Really interesting stuff, did they use actual gyroscopes or fly wheels, which is another interesting subject as fly wheels can provide a lot of benefits. A few years ago at a gig got talking to a bloke who was interested in my solar setup on the bus and the 300w inverter I built, back then it was very uncommon to even see solar panels and almost no one had heard of inverters for home use. He claimed he had invented a perpetual motion generator and asked if I wanted to see it, said yes and he gave us directions to his farm.

 

Next day we dropped in and he took me to a shed, inside was a machine that consisted of 3 different sized flywheels attached to a very small motor and car alternator. The small motor of 6v turned the smallest flywheel, which turned the next bigger flywheel which turned a much bigger flywheel and that turned the alternator that charged a set of old telstra 2v x 500ah cells in series and that powered his house and an inverter he build. No noise, just the hum of the little motor and alternator which constantly topped up the batteries. The biggest flywheel was over 1.5m tall, said it came of a stationary engine from a wool store and was very heavy, the smaller one came from a steam powered roller and the smallest, from a stationary steam engine at an old mill.

 

He claimed it had been running for over 3 years non stop and never looked like stopping, but did say getting it going takes a bit of time and energy but once up and running, all the little motor did was to keep the smallest flywheel turning and once the 3 flywheels got up to speed he switched the alternator on and it trickled charged the battery banks 24/7. The small flywheels went in the opposite direction to the large one, which he said counteracted the forces created but the big wheel which could make the whole thing spin out of control and take off, so it was bolted down to the concrete floor

 

He did start with full batteries, and trickle charging means there is no strain on the system and it could put 20amp into the batteries before there was a noticeable slowing of the system. Never saw him again, but have thought about his invention and whether it was true or not. If had the money would give it a go and see if it worked or was a hoax, he went to a lot of trouble for it to be a hoax and gauges were certainly registering volt/amps. Would be nice to have a setup like that running all the time providing us with almost unlimited energy along side solar and wind.

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That reminds me of the anti-gravity device that was in the news a couple of decades ago. A couple of gyroscopes in a complicated cage. It sat on scales and when he turned it on the scales registered less weight. Easier to belive than perpetual motion.

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Gyroscopes would have some natural lift in them with their rotary action, wouldn't they. When I was young used to watch them working in a big wool and skin store and they had a small motor driving a huge flywheel that drove wool presses and lifts, all with big long belts. Which is why the flywheel generator seemed interesting and plausible, however as I have no idea of the physics involved.

Edited by Dax
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Way back when, electric mine hoists had an electric motor spinning a whacking great flywheel, which in turn drove a DC generator to provide power to the mine hoist motor. The flywheel smoothed out the electrical demand as the hoist accelerated and slowed, hoisting up and down. It was called a Ward-Leonard set. This flywheel came off the one at Mt Lyell mine.

1-DSCF1386.JPG

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Well, there's no such thing as perpetual motion, the people who claimed to have perfected it have all been proved to have fraudulent claims, and some power input was always required to keep up the constant motion.

 

But flywheels are noted for their energy storage abilities, and they have even been used to power buses for a considerable length of time in history. But they fell out of favour as the energy input requirements were constant and fairly high.

 

https://www.amusingplanet.com/2019/02/gyrobus-flywheel-powered-public.html

 

I've often wondered about the feasibility of setting up a vertical wind turbine and use it to directly power a heavy flywheel, which would be connected to a generator. It seems I'm not alone in proposing this idea.

 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9781845695279500111

 

https://www.jvejournals.com/article/16353

 

But to get maximum energy output with minimum energy output from a flywheel, you need a very heavy flywheel, a very strong casing to prevent damage if it explodes, the flywheel running in a vacuum, and magnetic bearings for minimal friction.

 

I reckon I could build a vertical (Savonius) wind turbine directly connected to a massive flywheel near ground level, and then couple an alternator to the underside of the flywheel utilising a vari-speed belt coupling (as in the drive train of most farm headers), and then set up an arrangement that altered the vario to compensate for varying flywheel speeds, to keep the alternator spinning at the desired steady RPM to get the correct voltage output.

I think I'd have to set up a one-way sprag clutch arrangement in the turbine driveshaft, to allow the flywheel to keep humming, while the turbine slowed down in periods of little wind. That would prevent energy loss from the flywheel.

 

I guess there'd be periods of windlessness, when the flywheel would slow down appreciably, which might mean having to disconnect the alternator for a period until the wind and flywheel speeds picked up again.

It's not something I'm placing a great deal of priority on, but it'd be interesting to build a small working model, to see how it panned out.

 

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Yeah, the problems I see with that arrangement is, every additional piece of machinery in the system is power lost, via friction and mechanical losses. The KISS system rules for me.

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2 hours ago, pmccarthy said:

This flywheel came off the one at Mt Lyell mine.

Think I've found the flywheel for my perpetual motion generator,😁😇🤐 just need a big crane and no one looking.🤫

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IF something comes adrift with a large flywheel attached to it a lot of damage ensues. A flywheel stores energy. It can't make it..Perpetual motion could exist where there's no leakage of energy, but you can't DRIVE anything with it or you change things.. Nev

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The machine I saw had a small 6v motor driving the small flywheel which drove the other flywheels. According to the bloke the motor driving it used less 25% of the energy the alternator produced. That's why he claimed it as perpetual motion it produced more than it used.

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Just an aside! .

All I C engines can be converted to other types of fuel !, including STEAM.

Alcohol is used for lots of racing vehicles. 

I ran my Austin, in NZ on methanol/petrol, for a number of years. Not 10% metho but 70% . Big head jasket to lower the comp ratio.

spacesailor

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2 hours ago, spacesailor said:

All I C engines can be converted to other types of fuel !, including STEAM.

There are two types of ice engines, compression and combustion. You can't run a diesel on petrol and the same with petrol, can't use diesel to run them. We use methanol to make bio diesel, but prefer pure seed oil which means there is very little change to the fuel system and less work.

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BUT

You can !

Needs a big transformation. It's the octane rating of the fuel. the sets the engine configuration.

The UK had a Boon in reconfiguring outboard boat motors, to run on Kerosene. ( plus other fuels ). the government didn't like it one bit. LoL

I should still have plans for that job. Again with a large 'head gasket '.

Never underestimate determined people with an agenda. THEY will use chicken sheet in their car.  ( big gas bag on the roof ).

spacesailor

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The problem with kerosene is that it will barely burn in a spark ignition engine, unless it's well heated before it goes into the combustion chamber.

 

Then it still doesn't burn properly, or fully, and you get massive crankcase dilution with the unburnt kero filling the sump.

 

You might have seen old International Harvester tractors that were designed to run on either petrol or kero. They have two drain cocks on the side of the sump.

 

Many people think these are upper and lower oil level draincocks, to check whether the oil level is correct - but these drain cocks are quite a way apart.

 

And the reason for that is - when you've been running for a day or two on kero, you open the top drain cock on the sump, to check the level of oil dilution caused by the unburnt kero.

 

If the oil runs out of the top drain cock, the oil dilution is getting severe, and affecting the oils ability to lubricate - so it must be drained, and replaced with fresh oil.

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BUT 

on those Old engines you had lots of blow by.

On two-stroke outboards, better tolerances, And no sump. use a bit of " startyabastard ", gets really dead motors running.

spacesailor

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12 hours ago, onetrack said:

That's simply not possible, it defies the laws of physics.

There are many things they are discovering that defy the law of physics, after all our physics is just a concept we've constructed to try to understand the universe and may have no relationship to the true universal reality revolving around energy creation. As we never went back to that area, have no idea whether his machine did what he said it would and didn't study the setup. Did see it operating for an hour or so, then we had to leave to get to our next gig and he had an amazing workshop.

 

As a flywheel stores energy, wouldn't a small motor driving a small flywheel which drove a bigger one which drove a much bigger one, be able to produce more energy that the small motor used, using the stored energy of the flywheels to drive the alternator. Would assume getting it all going would use a fair bit of energy and until it was at it's peak operating speed, you wouldn't connect the alternator. He did say it took a bit to get going and each flywheel had to be turning when it was connected to the one driving it, so assume he would have each one turning by hand so when the energy came from the driving flywheel, it wasn't a big strain on the stored energy. But I'm only guessing.

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Wish I could draw.

Imagine ;  A tree growing : the top of it on FIRE.: as the fire consumed the tree: the new growth replace that consumed: and so it goes forever, 300 years for an OAK tree.

IS that 'perpetual motion'. LoL

spacesailor

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It take energy input to get a flywheel spinning - and keep it spinning. Due to various losses, typically such as friction and viscosity and heat generation, a flywheel will gradually dawdle to a halt if the input of energy ceases.

These losses are called "dissipative losses". You can go to great lengths to reduce those losses, such as low-friction magnetic bearings and by enclosing the flywheel in a housing that contains a vacuum.

 

And you can't take the electrical output of any flywheel to input energy into keeping it going, there is no outside energy input, so the flywheel is doomed to stop - fairly soon.

 

But a flywheel can be driven by the wind (or solar power), both of which are energy sources which are free, and which are readily obtained. Accordingly, using wind or solar energy input into a flywheel, will produce fairly steady power output.

 

The bloke in the link below is an Emeritus Professor of Physics at Lock Haven University, PA. He covers plenty of arguments put to him by people claiming that they've discovered perpetual motion - and not a one of the arguments stacks up.

 

https://www.lockhaven.edu/~dsimanek/museum/themes/whynot.htm

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