Improved Portable Railway.
Scientific American—August 5, 1868


The main principles upon which depend the movements of all wheeled vehicles are the same, whether like the locomotive and wheelbarrow the wheel is secured to the axle, or runs freely upon it as in other vehicles; the rotation of the wheels takes the carriage forward. But in the device illustrated in the accompanying engravings everything is reversed; the carriage moves forward on its wheels, the latter turning against the carriage instead of against the ground. The contrivance is very simple and quite unique.

The principal engraving represents a perspective view of a street car built on this plan; it has a very strong frame and is really elegant in form. The sides of the frame are of parallel rails meeting at the ends in a curve, so that the form of the continuous rail is a flattened oval. The rail, A, which is of a double angle section as seen in Fig. 2, is of steel and is firmly bolted to a rim of wood, B, thus making a side framing of unusual stiffness. To this the sides, roof, and floor may be secured in any manner desired. Running on this endless rail are a series of trucks placed at equal distances apart and connected by steel rods, C, Fig. 3, thus forming an endless chain. As those on each side of the car are separate from those on the other side, their action is independent; this is important in turning curves. The large wheels, D, have their peripheries in bearing with the outside of the rails, and are held in close contact by means of the small or keeper wheels, E. The frames of these trucks extend some distance beyond the outside rim of the wheels, D, and form a series of feet, F, which, as the trucks move over the rails or the rails and car are moved over them, come alternately to the ground and support the weight of the vehicle. The bottom of the feet may be made of any width to adapt them to the nature of the ground over which the carriage may pass; if it is of a soft and yielding nature the feet should be proportionally broad.

From the foregoing description the operation of the machine maybe easily comprehended. Whether the power is applied by turning one of the wheels, D, or by drawing the body of the vehicle forward by a span of horses, the result will be the same. As the wheels revolve the carriage moves forward, each truck with its foot coming down from the top portion of the rail and seating itself on the ground in front of and under the vehicle, and it thus remains upright supporting the load until the body of the car or wagon has been borne over it, when it is taken up at the rear over the curve and goes forward over the top to repeat the movement.

For the purpose of turning curves the spindles upon which the wheels, D and E, revolve are made longer than the bearings so that the body of the carriage may slide or be steered to one side or the other. This steering is effected by means of guide rods—a section seen at G, Fig. 2—which when operated bear against the sides of the recess in the caps of the journal of the small or keeper wheel. This operation is done by the side movement of the pole or shafts to which the draft animals are attached. There is no more cramping or binding of the wheels in turning curves or corners than with an ordinary carriage, as the wheels on either side are entirely independent one of the other. For public carriages in place of omnibuses or street cars this plan is intended and seems capable of being adapted, no permanent track being required. The carriage may be built very light or as strong as the heaviest freight wagon. It is believed by the inventor to be specially adapted to agricultural purposes on moist or swampy ground. Steam power can be easily applied in place of animal power; for water navigation the inventor claims that paddles may be substituted for the feet and operate the whole length of the boat. A boat on this plan is already in process of construction to be tested on the Erie canal for towing canal boats at high speeds.

Patented through the Scientific American Patent Agency, Oct. 22, 1867; an other patent is pending on improvements. All communications for information, etc., to be sent to J. Glenn, 141 Broadway, New York city. Foreign patents are already secured.

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