We present a new method for approximation of a given surface by a cylinder surface. It is a constructive geometric method, leading to a monorail representation of the cylinder surface. By use of a weighted Gaussian image of the given surface, we determine a projection plane. In the orthogonal projection of the surface onto this plane, a reference curve is determined by use of methods for thinning of binary images. Finally, the cylinder surface is constructed as follows: the directrix of the cylinder surface is determined by a least squares method minimizing the distance to the points in the projection within a tolerance given by the reference curve, and the rulings are lines perpendicular to the projection plane. Application of the method in ship design is given.