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A monorail track for a zeppelin
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This is for cross-country transportation, something that would replace high-speed trains and maglev trains.

This is sort of a combination of monorail and airship. You would have a mono-rail on the ground that defines the path. A tether attaches to it, with the other end connected to a zeppelin. The zeppelin would travel high up, and go along the course of the rail.

I heard one of the problems that zeppelins have is crosswinds. This is what the tether is for.

As far as a station, the zeppelin can launch from an airport and travel to the start of the rail, perhaps connected to a tether-truck. Then it gets hooked up, and blast off!

You don't need to clear to much land, just enough for the rail. You also don't need to electrify the track liek you do for maglev.

The bonus for this is, if it needs to, the zeppelin can detach from the track and go wherever it needs to. The track is there perhaps to provide an extra boost -- the tether might be attached to a small powered vehicle on the track, basically an engine on wheels -- and to prevent cross winds from pushing it off-course.

lawpoop, Dec 13 2008

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       Perhaps you could have an elevated platform that people can join/leave the gondola on.
dannystaple, Dec 13 2008

       Yeah, but then you still have the cross-winds problem.
lawpoop, Dec 13 2008

       [+] Rather like the baloonways of Shant.
mouseposture, Dec 14 2008

       why powered ? since you now have a "keel" so to speak you can sail your zeppelin. But you *would* have to clear the area around the track in case of high angles on the rope.
FlyingToaster, Dec 14 2008

       Flying Toaster -- you're right. But I imagined that the rail would be really high, like above the tree line.
lawpoop, Dec 14 2008

       It occurs to me that all the surface area on the zeppelin and the rope that attaches it to the rail will probably cause a lot of drag. That's going to make it hard for this to replace "high speed" rail.
ye_river_xiv, Dec 15 2008

       Yeah, it probably wouldn't replace high-speed rail.
lawpoop, Dec 16 2008

       I'm all for it. I think with two tether lines to the track, and a winch on each line, you can adjust the attitude of the zeppelin relative to the prevailing wind. This will allow the sailing action suggested by FlyingToaster. Unhitch the anchor wheel jobbies from the track and free-sail to another track to change lines.
BunsenHoneydew, Dec 19 2008

       [+] This has as a ton of potential. Unfortunately, it's too simple, useful, and awesome for any government to actually consider.
Laimak, Dec 19 2008


       Two tether lines, attached to two separate monorail cars. To lower the zeppelin, the cars move apart.
tatterdemalion, Dec 19 2008

       I think [tatter] was suggesting two cars on one line, spacing between the cars would affect height and would be fully variable.
MechE, Dec 19 2008

       Great idea I was thinking about this a while back I think it would be best for freight transport. I was also wondering if it could be used for sea transport. The freight would fly and the engines would submerse with the advantage being less surface area to drag through the water.
pydor, Dec 19 2008

       No need to power the zeppelin, as you can let the wind pull it along. If the wind is blowing in the wrong direction, you just apply the brakes on the rail wait for more favorable weather. Which would make it a cross between a train, a zeppelin, and a square-rigged sailing ship. You might even cross the country in six months if the winds were right.
ldischler, Dec 20 2008

       If you had a boom along the underside of the zeppelin, and a zigzagging monorail, would that be enough to allow tacking against contrary winds?
pertinax, Dec 21 2008

       As long as the anchor line is long enough, the zep should be able to tack to and fro without needing the track to do so as well.
BunsenHoneydew, Dec 30 2008

       And as long as the wind isn't dead on you can tack, though with a strong headwind you'd want to use the motor on the dolly (which is at ground level so the zeppelin doesn't need to lift it).
FlyingToaster, Dec 30 2008

       Dolly. Thanks. I've been trying to remember that word for ages.
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 14 2009

       <churn> I was gonna say mountains'd be a problem but they wouldn't: just build the track over them instead of through.
FlyingToaster, Mar 08 2009

       This would be fun to ride on. In every other way I can think of, though, it sucks. The only good reason I can think of for attaching a zeppelin to a train is to help the train stop.
colorclocks, Mar 08 2009

       Unless your rope between the dolly and the zepplin is stiff enough to transmit torque, you're goign to have a devil of a time controlling the heading of the zepplin. Sailing works because the keel of the boat has directional traction on the water. It's the relative velocity between the water and wind that provides motive force.   

       Just not sure how you're going to use the rail as a keel to hold the sail surface of the zepplin across the wind. I reckon rudder surfaces on the zepplin will act exactly against any attempt to use the zepplin as a sail. Maybe someone with more sailing physics or even aeronautics can help here, but I think at minimum you'd need 2 ropes and dolly's, maybe 3 to get the leverage to work the zepplin into/across the wind?   

       [not to say I don't like the idea - I love it. I reckon we can solve this one][+]
Custardguts, Mar 09 2009

       //rope between zeppelin and dolly//
You realize at this point we're talking about the annos, eh: (and bear in mind that I'm thinking of a full-fledged sailing-zeppelin: a sail-festooned (top and bottom) schooner of the sky, but the principle's the same with your bog standard balloon)

       I don't see any problem; thing is the dolly has to attach like a rollercoaster car where it won't come off the tracks in any direction... apart from that it's superior to a boat on the water in that respect: the rails won't move, whereas a keel in the water will slide a bit... where it falls short is you can't "tack", ie: zig-zag back and forth into wind that's blowing *exactly* opposite the way you want to go, since the rail("keel") is running straight. Then you'd have the dolly do the work and just drag it around. But any other headwind except dead-on'ish and you should be ok (afaik anyways)... I suppose if the local wind *always* blew in exactly the wrong direction you could zig-zag the track back and forth to tack.   

       You wouldn't need 2 full-length ropes to maintain an angle though, just a loop on the zeppelin(connected at 2 widespread longitudinal points) and the towrope connected to that at an adjustable point.   

       ...sounds like an advanced arithmetic problem dunnit:

"2 mono-zeppelins are 14 miles apart on a SE/NW track and are headed toward each other in a NNW wind of 22mph..."
FlyingToaster, Mar 09 2009

       Tourists would dig this.
plasticspoon, Mar 09 2009

       Why is an Electric train better than a steam train. It doesn't need to carry any fuel.   

       Zeppelin nice idea but well they don't tend to carry a lot they still have to be lighter than air. But Kite hooked to the engines running on the track could carry a lot of load.   

       The kite could be a mix of flying wing and Zep. although any weight reduction from all or part being lighter then air is just going to reduce the energy needed to lift.   

       Great thing thou depending on how long the tether is the machine could solar powered while up in the air and feed it down to the engine on the rails or the engines could pick up power off the rails and grid so you don't need to lift the engines or the fuel. anywayz
Mattinoz, Mar 09 2009

       A sail-train? I have to admit, I rather like that.   

       Maybe there could be an entire new genre of alternate history: sailpunk.   

       As for the original mono-zeppelin idea, well I rather like that too. I think it needs work, and maybe it would only be useful in a few situations, but at the zep-port at least it should be useful.   

       Oh, and before anybody else says it: "It's the SSAAAAAAIIIIIIILLLLLL-TRAIN!!"
Xenophile, Oct 23 2009

       Sorry, [-] because it has no advantage over a regular monorail, and the disadvantages include increased drag, too hard to get people on and off, and motion sickness.
DIYMatt, Oct 23 2009


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