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Thread: Rail sailing

  1. #1
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    Default Rail sailing

    I want to build a boat (?) to sail across the desert on abandoned railroad tracks. I read an article a long time ago, I think in Harper's, about someone doing it, and I've never forgotten that. any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    There are intact abandoned tracks (as opposed to abandoned right of ways with no tracks) across the desert? And the owners will allow using them?

    Windwagon Smith in a story we read in school put a sail on a prairie schooner (the wagons pioneers used to cross the plains) and sailed the sea of grass that once was the vast middle of the US.

    The tracks sound only marginally more practical or likely.

    But, what the hell, go for it. When the railroad dicks get you, claim temporary insanity.

    A do-able reality is the desert dry lakes sailing carts - like ice boats with wheels.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    I can't think why this shouldn't work very well; short of a head wind of coarse.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    It's probably not a boat, but a wheeled-sled driven by wind ... though you could always name it "Boat."

    Take water.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    some areas might not have much wind.

    sounds like a fun adventure though...

    take your life jacket :-)


    a modified DN iceboat might do the trick..
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    There was an article in our hoste magazine that did just this. issue 95, page 34. "Railboat".

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    thanks for the lead- I found the article in issue 95- and I'll "track" down a copy of Windwagon Smith for further inspiration. Power to weight ratios, and room for a big cooler. maybe a rack to be able to hike in the puffs.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Careful of those tunnels

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    I once made an outrigger for a bicycle that would allow me to ride on RR tracks. I used it on abandoned/disused sections of track in the Adirondacks and New England. My highlight was a long climb up through Crawford Notch in New Hampshire on the old Portland & Ogdensburg RR. Absolutely stunning, -- one of the best things I've ever done, and an indelible lifetime memory.

    Sailing the rails would not be possible on most abandoned lines in the woodsy east, but I can see how it could work out west.

    Be advised that these activities can be "questionable" from a legality standpoint, though I never let that stop me -- I worked on the principle that I would rather wait to be told to stop than refused permission in the first place. I would sure get some funny looks from people when I'd go cruising through their backyards on rails unused in years

    If you want to build something I would advise you to keep it light (so it can be easily rerailed and turned around) and (of course) minimize drag every way you can.

    I say do it !!

    moT

  10. #10

    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Estoy trabajando en algunas ideas sobre carros a velas sobre rieles .
    Puedes ver www.carrovelismotodoterreno.blogspot.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    I am recall reading the early WB article. It was of course meant to be humorous. Along those lines, only different in degree but not in kind, when I was a boy in Pigsnort, TN, I was walking along a rail line one day (I was about 9) when I heard a terrbile metallic din off in the distance. I couldn't believe my eyes when I then saw maybe a 1962 Ford wagon come along, on the track, with all tires removed (meaning they were driving on the bare metal rims), and piloted by two drunken hillbillies, probably related to me distantly. Shortly thereafter came several squad cars with sirens screaming. It was a low speed chase. I wish I could say that something exciting then happened, but they all moved slowly and noisily out of sight, and that was that. Difference here: it was a working rail line.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Thompson View Post
    ..................any thoughts?
    1. Make sure the tracks aren't used
    2. Don't sleep on the tracks or fall asleep underway
    3. Keep an eye behind
    4. Take a snake bandage
    5. Take water
    6. Tell someone where you're going
    7. Take a hat
    8. Better still, make a light roof
    9. Include a manual drive (like oars)

    My grandfather had a kalamazoo, but I don't know how he got it on and off the tracks




    sayla

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    We had a couple of these thing when I was in high school . They worked pretty good off road , but really got going on the new stretch of the interstate 405 freeway . Unfortunately the California highway patrol put an end to that when they opened it


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Rail sailing





    Found these on Flickr. I imagine there's more out there.

    Trevor

  15. #15

  16. #16

    Default Re: Rail sailing


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Do an inspection of the railway first - if there are any switches, make sure they are set for the main line, lest you go flying into a siding, and end up like Wizbang did in his recent post.

    Also, in some areas, thieves sometimes remove rails for scrap. A braking system might be a good idea.

    Tom

  18. #18

    Default Re: Rail sailing


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Quote Originally Posted by trefor View Post



    Found these on Flickr. I imagine there's more out there.

    Trevor

    This is on Porthmadog Cob, Wales - Ffestiniog Narrow guage railway, one of the worlds first, and probably the oldest still running.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Some 45 years ago, a French Officer staged an invitational race by sail across the Sahara in Moritania. I was fixing to go but, with a new baby in the house, the expense was against my going on the trip. My pal Larry Pardy hitched on and landed an article in National Geographic. In fact, he made the cover! The land sailers were made out of old French Puegot auto parts and were a bit ungainly. It was more of a rally than a race and was a test of personal enginuity and endurance. Larry still thinks of it as one of the more painful highlites of his life!
    Jay

  21. #21

    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Very interesting what you say.
    I have some information on Mortimer Sheppard and Crhistian Nau.
    My idea is to make a voyage of several days with my 4x4 windcar in different places.Travelling on roads, rivers, lakes, rail, etc.
    My windcar is adapted to navigate populated areas.
    I am currently working on a new fast rail design.
    Soon I will go up some videos.
    If you have any information about rail on sail.
    send it:
    Carrovelismotodoterreno@gmail.com
    thanks
    justo


    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Justo; 11-17-2011 at 07:04 PM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    I sort of remember a story in Sports Illustrated years ago--pretty funny.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Are there no hills in the desert?
    A boatless inlander, searching for the meaning of life-aground.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Quote Originally Posted by obscured by clouds View Post
    This is on Porthmadog Cob, Wales - Ffestiniog Narrow guage railway, one of the worlds first, and probably the oldest still running.
    I wonder if that was in a caption under the photo and I somehow missed it in my haste to post something. Weird, my mother's side of the family is originally from around the Cardiff area and I usually read anything remotely Welsh related that I stumble across.

    Thanks,
    Trevor

  25. #25

    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Last edited by Justo; 12-22-2011 at 08:41 AM.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Rail sailing

    It's a new test with roller wheels. ( sail on the rail)
    Faster , light and easier to get out of rails

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Saw a video about some Russians who fit a high performance racing dinghy with wheels and steering and drove it around their small town, smiling all the way. They were nervous about power lines since they had an aluminum mast, though.
    Gerard>
    Everett, WA

    RESIST. FIGHT THE POWER.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    you might try looking for "railriders.net" they have , what appears to me, the right type of wheels. the small roller bearing wheels in the clip seem nice and lite, but i'd be affraid of the high rolling resistance

  29. #29

    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Quote Originally Posted by the_gr8t_waldo View Post
    you might try looking for "railriders.net" they have , what appears to me, the right type of wheels. the small roller bearing wheels in the clip seem nice and lite, but i'd be affraid of the high rolling resistance
    I saw railraiders is very interesting. Thanks.
    I did tests with diferent wheels.( i have had many troubles)
    You said a big true ( they are not resistent)
    but still I have a long way to go

  30. #30

    Default Re: Rail sailing


  31. #31

    Default Re: Rail sailing


  32. #32

    Default Re: Rail sailing


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    The sail part will be simple. You could probably take the rig off any small sailboat and use it.

    The trick is going to be in the car... it's going to have to be:

    - light... light enough for the wind to push, for you to manhandle onto and off of the tracks, and for you to push up hill, perhaps.
    - aerodynamic... so it doesn't generate lift and fly off the tracks every time you get going
    - strong... particularly the wheels, axle, etc. You don't want to do a face plant onto railroad ties at 40 knots. Think of the splinters!

    Sounds like you'll also need some sort of trailer to get it from your shop to the tracks & back when you want to go 'sailing'.

    If you could fit a hot air ballon and burner onto it, it would help you get over mountains and stuff (I can see Michael Palin getting involved in this.)
    Last edited by jalmberg; 01-26-2012 at 04:24 PM.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    Do a Google search for speeders. People buy these RR maintenance cars and restore them for personal use. There are many clubs of speeder aficionados. Speeder clubs arrange with RRs to use working rails when there is no real rail traffic. You might be able to work out a tow deal to get you through the doldrums on a speeder outing. My experience with speeder people is that they would probably love the quirkiness of your idea.
    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Rail sailing

    The early '60's Ford wagons fit the tracks perfectly, were cheap and could fit a lot of people...we used to ride the rails in a '63; "going railin'" we called it. There was usually only one train a day along a very scenic stretch of track between Napa and Sonoma thru the Los Carneros district, through vineyards, cattle pastures, and along sloughs with views of San Pablo Bay. We would let about half the air out of the tires, and get on where the rails crossed a road, then try and get out of sight asap. When we hit the back country, we would tie off the wheel, put a rock on the gas pedal, and everyone would climb out on the roof and share a jug of wine...if all was successful, we got off in Sonoma, aired up the tires, and went home. I wasn't there the day the police trapped my brother and his buddies between two cross streets before they made it out of town...

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