#182: Track-train

For getting heavy vehicles (eg tanks) across rugged countryside, articulated tracks have been the ‘obvious’ solution since about 1916. Tracked vehicles tend, however, to have to be pretty slow, or they shed their links in a way which must be terrifying for occupants in a warzone.

Today’s invention is a way to allow very heavy vehicles to move across open country quickly and smoothly (perhaps to deliver food or medicines under inhospitable conditions).

Troy _Sherk_rails407.jpg

Imagine a vehicle like a railway locomotive standing on a pair of parallel, joined rails, as usual. Instead of requiring that these rails run continuously for miles across country, this vehicle is supported by only one such section of rail, which is about 50% longer than the vehicle itself.

The vehicle also carries another joined pair of rails, identical to the one on wich it stands. As it approaches the end of its current ‘track’, it pushes the spare section forward onto the ground in front and drives onto it. The original section is then automatically lifted from behind and readied for the next movement cycle.

It would be necessary to design the ends of the rails so that driving from one to the next could not result in derailment (by having them link together temporarily, even over very rough terrain). Significant gradients would also require a rack and pinion drive system to operate between the train and the active track section.

This panjandrum would allow only very gradual changes of direction, but the rails could support very great loads moving rapidly and not be vulnerable to local damage (by eg landmines).

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