The world-wide game



I built my first linear motor in 1948 and wrote my first paper on the subject in 1954. The Gorton experiment took place in 1962. The first model of a tracked hovercraft was publicly demonstrated at Browndown in the summer of 1966. We abandoned double-sided sandwich motors in 1967 on the grounds of safety and with the realisation that a track of aluminium sheet backed by steel need not necessarily put large downward attractive forces on the vehicle. The ‘we’ referred to here consists of Fred Eastham, Hugh Bolton, other members of my staff, and of Tom Fellows and his THL senior staff at Cambridge. We met and conquered the long pole pitch problem in 1969. We were on the track of very far-reaching experiments with the emergence of a ‘magnetic river’ following Transpo 72 in May that year. We were aware of the feedback amplifier type of magnetic suspension and of the cryogenic method (superconductor). We were aware of a potential customer for a linear motor transport scheme in the form of the Canadian Government who had invited 11 firms to submit schemes. Two of the 11 (Tracked Hovercraft Ltd and Hawker Siddeley (Canada)) combined effort to put in a single bid. Their solution was to use rubber-tyred wheels with no treads running in concrete guides with linear motor propulsion. The absence of treads would reduce noise levels to well below those of the tyres of ordinary cars.


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Copyright information

© Eric R. Laithwaite 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Imperial CollegeLondonUK

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