The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Farm monorail solution?

farm monorail system also called MonoRack

We've been thinking about solving our driveway problem with a farm monorail.

They're called Monoracks in Japan and they've been used since 1966.

We're not quite sure how much or how to order one. The website hasn't responded to our inquiry. Have any of our readers seen one of these operating in the United States? Maybe we could be the first?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I see you've found Kurt Bell's videos. His "Abandoned Japan" videos are quite interesting.

I've seen monorails like this in France and Germany in use at vinyards. Mostly on slopes that are too steep for anything else. :-)

At a guess I'd say they're not cheap because of the teeth on the track. They're also somewhat loud and not very fast. But relatively safe since the cart locks on the teeth of the track when not moving. The rail itself isn't very big. I don't recall what the distance between the supports was, but I'd say a couple of yards at most.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Apr 13 20:07:06 2015
Yes...Kurt Bell deserves the photo credit. I took the snap shot from one of his interesting videos on Youtube.
Comment by mark Mon Apr 13 21:02:51 2015
It would be easy enough to build one: use steel fence rails or even wood as rails (bi-rail for stability), a wheeled platform moved with a winch powered by a small engine, or even hand-cranked. Compare the price of the materials (rails & support posts mainly) with the cost of gravel for a decent driveway. Around here, the cost of gravel would be <$1 per running foot of drive.
Comment by doc Tue Apr 14 06:25:22 2015

This could be an excellent choice for your homestead. Snow and cold would not be a concern. You could "even out" your climbs by building higher supports for your rail. And given the swampy area you would have to convert to driveway, with sinking rocks and such, this option seems like it would be good. I couldn't find prices, but it would probably be cheaper than having to have the driveway cut through your rocky hills.

Comment by James Tue Apr 14 09:31:20 2015
I contacted Nikkari and asked them if they could ship to the US. Unfortunately, the answer is no, they have no US distributors. They did send me a link to their export page though.
Comment by Eric in Japan Wed Apr 15 09:53:42 2015
My cousin in Plymouth County, MA said to look up bicycle-powered monorail--in New Zealand! It seems that Google is investing in it. However I wish that there might be some other way, a combination of lines strung between some trees and good boardwalks, like at Bays Mtn...
Comment by adrianne Wed Apr 15 20:02:09 2015

Eric --- Thank you so much for doing that legwork! We'd sent the manufacturers a question along those lines last week, but I had a feeling it was getting bogged down in the language barrier.

Do you think there's a chance that if we emailed some specifics, you could break through the language barrier again to get a rough price from them? I don't know how much effort to put into the exporter until we know if the monorack is even in our price range.... (Feel free to email me at instead of commenting if you're interested...and we'll be eternally grateful. :-) )

Mom --- I like the idea of a bicycle-powered monorail a lot, but the Shweeb looks cool and trendy rather than functional....

Comment by anna Wed Apr 15 20:18:39 2015


we are doing cable cars as well as Monoracks. No problem to ship them to the United States. Please check the link below for more info.

or contact me by mail.

best regards, Alex

Comment by alex Thu Jun 23 02:39:51 2016
We have a steep property in the California mtns, owned by an enviro education nonprofit and we are considering whether to install monoracks. Anything transpired since 2015 on your research? Thanks! -Joel
Comment by Joel P Fri Jul 17 15:11:51 2020
I have seen a monorack near Seattle Washington. I was told by a neighbor it was salvaged from a farm in Itlay. I would like to one! Nikkari's web site maps shows a dealer in Florida.
Comment by Anonymous Wed May 19 18:05:23 2021

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