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Publication numberUS20050034628 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/642,054
Publication dateFeb 17, 2005
Filing dateAug 15, 2003
Priority dateAug 15, 2003
Also published asWO2005017259A1
Publication number10642054, 642054, US 2005/0034628 A1, US 2005/034628 A1, US 20050034628 A1, US 20050034628A1, US 2005034628 A1, US 2005034628A1, US-A1-20050034628, US-A1-2005034628, US2005/0034628A1, US2005/034628A1, US20050034628 A1, US20050034628A1, US2005034628 A1, US2005034628A1
InventorsKarl Lamb, Michael Sparks, Scott Gossage
Original AssigneeMagna Force, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus, systems and methods for anchoring and aligning tracks
US 20050034628 A1
Abstract
Apparatus, systems and methods for anchoring and aligning a vehicular track are shown and described. Embodiments of the invention can incorporate a first structural member anchorable to the earth and a second structural member coupleable to the track, spaced apart from each other by a spacing member designed to allow the second structural member to rotate with respect to the first structural member. Fasteners can be incorporated to facilitate adjustment of the second structural member and/or to retain the second structural member in a desired orientation. A mass of hardening material can be inserted between the first and second structural members to permanently fix the second
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Claims(22)
1. A device for use in anchoring and aligning a portion of a vehicular track, the device comprising:
a first structural member configured to be fixedly anchored with respect to the earth;
a second structural member configured to be rigidly coupled to the vehicular track; and
a spacing member positionable between and in contact with the first and second structural members, the spacing member being adapted to allow the second structural member to rotate with respect to the first structural member such that the vehicular track can be oriented in a desired alignment with respect to the earth.
2. The device of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of fasteners configured to fix the second structural member with respect to the first structural member.
3. The device of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of adjustable fasteners configured to facilitate controlled rotation of the second structural member with respect to the first structural member and to fix the second structural member with respect to the first structural member.
4. The device of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of fasteners spaced about a perimeter of each of the first and second structural members, the fasteners being configured to facilitate controlled rotation of the second structural member with respect to the first structural member and to fix the second structural member with respect to the first structural member.
5. The device of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of fasteners, and wherein the first and second structural members comprise plates, each plate having a perimeter, and the plurality of fasteners being spaced apart from each other along the perimeter of each plate.
6. The device of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of adjustable fasteners, and wherein each of the first and second structural members comprises a plate, each plate having a perimeter, and the plurality of adjustable fasteners being spaced apart around the perimeter, the fasteners being configured to facilitate controlled rotation of the second structural member with respect to the first structural member and to fix the second structural member with respect to the first structural member.
7. The device of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of adjustable fasteners, and wherein each of the first and second structural members comprises a plate, each plate having a perimeter, the spacing member being positioned centrally with respect to the perimeter and the plurality of adjustable fasteners being spaced apart around the spacing member, the adjustable fasteners being configured to facilitate controlled rotation of the second structural member with respect to the first structural member and to fix the second structural member with respect to the first structural member.
8. The device of claim 1 wherein at least one of the first and second structural members comprises a receiving portion configured to help retain the spacing member in a fixed lateral position with respect to the first and second structural members.
9. The device of claim 1 wherein at least one of the first and second structural members has a surface with an area of reduced thickness configured to receive a portion of the spacing member therein and to help retain the spacing member in a fixed lateral position with respect to the first and second structural members.
10. The device of claim 1 wherein at least one of the first and second structural members has hole therein configured to receive a portion of the spacing member therein and to help retain the spacing member in a fixed lateral position with respect to the first and second structural members.
11. The device of claim 1 wherein the first and second structural members each have a hole therein configured to receive a portion of the spacing member therein and to help retain the spacing member in a fixed lateral position with respect to the first and second structural members.
12. The device of claim 1 wherein the first structural member is configured to be fixedly coupled to a stanchion for use when the vehicular track is to be elevated above the earth.
13. The device of claim 1 wherein the second structural member is configured to be fixedly coupled to a lateral support member for supporting two or more rails of the vehicular track.
14. The device of claim 1, further comprising a mass of rigid material positionable between the first and second structural members after the second structural member has been fixed in the desired orientation to retain the second structural member in the desired orientation.
15. The device of claim 1 wherein the spacing member is spherical.
16. The device of claim 1 wherein the spacing member comprises a solid, spherical mass.
17. A device for use in anchoring and aligning a portion of a vehicular track, the device comprising:
a first structural member configured to be fixedly anchored with respect to the earth, the first structural member incorporating a first plate with a perimeter and a plurality of first holes spaced thereabout;
a second structural member configured to be rigidly coupled to the vehicular track, the second structural member incorporating a second plate with a perimeter and a plurality of second holes spaced thereabout, the second holes being at least substantially aligned with the first holes;
a spacing member positionable between and in contact with the first and second structural members at a location inside the perimeters of the first and second plates, the spacing member being adapted to allow the second structural member to rotate with respect to the first structural member such that the vehicular track can be oriented in a desired alignment with respect to the earth; and
a plurality of adjustable fasteners, each extending through one of the first holes and a corresponding one of the second holes, the adjustable fasteners being configured to facilitate controllable rotation of the second structural member with respect to the first structural member and to allow the second structural member to be fixed in a desired orientation with respect to the first structural member.
18. A system for anchoring and aligning a portion of a vehicular track, the device comprising:
a first structural member fixedly anchored with respect to the earth;
a second structural member configured to be rigidly coupled to the vehicular track;
a spacing member positioned between and in contact with the first and second structural members, the spacing member being adapted to allow the second structural member to rotate with respect to the first structural member to support the vehicular track when it is in a desired orientation with respect to the earth; and
at least one adjustment mechanism configured to facilitate controllable rotation of the second structural member with respect to the first structural member and to allow the second structural member to be fixed in a desired orientation with respect to the first structural member.
19. A vehicular track comprising:
a plurality of first structural members fixedly anchored with respect to the earth;
a plurality of second structural members rigidly coupled to at least one rail having a length, the at least one rail being adapted for allowing a vehicle to move along at least a portion of the length;
a spacing member positioned between at least one pair of the first and second structural members, the spacing member being adapted to allow the second structural member to rotate with respect to the first structural member to support the vehicular track when it is in a desired orientation with respect to the earth; and
at least one adjustment mechanism configured to facilitate controllable rotation of the second structural member with respect to the first structural member if a spacing member is positioned therebetween and to allow the second structural member to be fixed in a desired orientation with respect to the first structural member.
20. A method for aligning a vehicular track, comprising:
anchoring a first structural member to the earth;
spacing a second structural member apart from the first structural member with a spacing member positioned therebetween, the spacing member being configured to allow rotation of the second structural member with respect to the first structural member;
rotating the second structure into a desired orientation;
fixing the second structure in the desired orientation; and
rigidly coupling a portion of the vehicular track to the second structural member.
21. The method of claim 20 wherein rotating the second structural member comprises adjusting one or more adjustable fasteners extending between the first and second structural members.
22. The method of claim 20, further comprising inserting a mass of hardening material between the first and second structural members.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of Invention
  • [0002]
    The invention relates to tracks, such as train tracks, and more particularly, to apparatus, systems and methods for anchoring and aligning the tracks.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0004]
    When laying tracks, such as tracks for trains, monorails, trams and other vehicles, it is important that the tracks are properly aligned. In straight lengths of track, it is important that the tracks are as close to linear as possible, avoiding undulations, twists, bumps and other unwanted deviations. Without proper alignment, the vehicle that ultimately rides on the tracks can experience an uncomfortable or rough ride, or worse.
  • [0005]
    Similarly, when laying such tracks along a turn, it is sometimes desirable to have the tracks angled such that the vehicle, as it moves around the turn, is canted toward the inside of the turn. Canting a vehicle around a turn can provide more comfort to passengers and can allow the vehicle to travel around the turn at a higher rate of speed.
  • [0006]
    To the inventors' knowledge, it has to date been extremely complicated, expensive and time consuming to lay track that satisfies these needs, not only on the ground but, to a more significant extent, above the ground.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    The present invention is directed towards apparatus, systems and methods for anchoring and aligning tracks. Embodiments of the present invention can allow sections of track to be quickly and easily aligned with adjacent sections of track, such as when a long length of straight track is being laid, which can ultimately make travel along the track smoother. They can also allow sections of track to be oriented at a desired angle, such as when a turning section of track is being laid, which can allow for travel around the turn at a higher speed.
  • [0008]
    In one embodiment, a device incorporates a pair of structural members spaced apart by a spacing member. The first structural member can be anchored to the earth, either directly or through other structural members. The second structural member can be rigidly coupled to the vehicular track, either directly or through other structural members. The spacing member can be positioned between and in contact with the first and second structural members, and can allow the second structural member to rotate with respect to the first structural member. In particular embodiments, the second structural member can rotate in three dimensions. As a result, the vehicular track can be oriented in a desired alignment with respect to the earth. The orientation can be selected to align with an adjacent section of track, or to provide a tilt for the vehicle as it moves around a turn, or to meet other desired needs.
  • [0009]
    In another embodiment, the device incorporates adjustable fasteners extending between the first and second structural members. The fasteners can fix the device in its desired alignment. In some embodiments, the fasteners can be adjustable to assist in moving the second structural member into the desired orientation.
  • [0010]
    In yet another embodiment, the device can incorporate a mass of hardening material. The mass can be positioned between the first and second structural members after they are in the desired orientation, and can harden to retain the device in the desired orientation. In particular embodiments, the hardened mass can provide additional strength to the device.
  • [0011]
    The present invention is also directed to systems of such devices, and to methods of fabricating sections of vehicular tracks using such devices.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0012]
    FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a track and a device for anchoring and aligning the track, according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 2 is a front elevation view of the track and device of FIG. 1.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 3 is rear elevation view of the track and device of FIG. 1.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 4 is an isometric view of a device for anchoring and aligning a track, according to another embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of the device of FIG. 4.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 6 is rear elevation view of the device of FIG. 4.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0018]
    The present detailed description is generally directed toward systems, apparatus and methods for anchoring and aligning lengths of track. Several embodiments of the present invention may allow sections of track to be anchored and aligned in three dimensions, quickly and easily. Accordingly, such embodiments can provide an easy method of making long straight lengths of track extremely straight, and/or making turning sections of track canted smoothly and at a desired angle. Many specific details of certain embodiments of the invention are set forth in the following description and in FIGS. 1-6 to provide a thorough understanding of such embodiments. The inventors use a magnetically levitated train track in the following description and drawings for illustrative purposes, but fully appreciate that the systems and devices of the present invention could work with other types of vehicles and other types of tracks, such as tracks for conveyors or for carrying pipes or wire harnesses. One of ordinary skill in the art, having reviewed the present disclosure in its entirety, will appreciate the many variations and other applications to which the invention can be used.
  • [0019]
    FIGS. 1-3 illustrate a system 10 for anchoring and aligning a section of a track 11. In essence, the system 10 incorporates a first structural member, shown in FIG. 1 as a bottom plate 12, and an opposing second structural member, shown in FIG. 1 as a top plate 14. The top plate 14 is spaced apart from the bottom plate 12 by a spacing member, shown in FIG. 1 as a spherical spacer 16. The spherical spacer 16 allows the top plate 14 to rotate in three dimensions with respect to the bottom plate 12.
  • [0020]
    The bottom plate 12 can anchor the system 10 to the earth. In the illustrated embodiment, the bottom plate 12 is anchored through a post 18 and a footing 20. The post 18 can be structural steel having a circular cross-section, or can be fabricated from any other suitable material, and can have dimensions easily determinable by one of ordinary skill in the art provided with specifications regarding the use to which the system will be put. As such, the system 10 can be used for ground level tracks and elevated tracks. The bottom plate 12 can be welded to the post 18, or can be attached by any other suitable means. The post 18 can have a flange 22 welded or otherwise attached to its lower end, that is bolted to the footing 20, or the post can be attached thereto by any other suitable means. The footing 20 can be concrete poured as generally understood in the art, or could be formed by any other suitable means out of any other suitable material.
  • [0021]
    The top plate 14 can couple the system to the track 11. In the illustrated embodiment, the top plate 14 can be welded or otherwise rigidly attached to a lateral beam 24, which is oriented perpendicular to the ultimate direction of travel. The illustrated lateral beam 24 is fabricated from structural steel having a square cross-section; however, one of ordinary skill in the art, having reviewed this disclosure in its entirety, would appreciate the various sizes, shapes and materials that could instead be used for the lateral beam.
  • [0022]
    The track 11 can be mounted to the lateral beam 24, either directly or indirectly. In the illustrated embodiment, a pair of support rails 26 are bolted into brackets 28, which are, in turn, welded or otherwise attached to the lateral beam 24. Designing the system 10 to provide for a bolt connection between the support rails 26 and the brackets 28 allows the system to be fabricated in a fab-shop, and the track mounted thereto in the field, which can make the entire process more economical and efficient. One of ordinary skill in the art, having reviewed this disclosure, will appreciate the various ways the track 11 can be coupled to the lateral beam 24. Depending on the type of track/vehicle for which the track will be used, the spacing between the support rails 26 can be varied, as understood in the art. In the illustrated embodiment, the support rails 26 are fabricated from structural steel having a rectangular cross-section.
  • [0023]
    The system 10 can be used with a magnetically levitated train. As such, the upper surface of each illustrated support rail 26 can carry permanent magnets 30 along an operable portion of its length. The support rail 26 can serve as a ferrous backing plate for the permanent magnets 30. The permanent magnets 30 can be held against the support rail 26 by an adhesive or by a bracket extending over the top of the permanent magnets, or by any other suitable means. In the illustrated embodiment, the permanent magnets 30 are all of a common length. The illustrated permanent magnets 30 are butted against each other along the length of the track 11 to provide a magnetic force that is sufficiently constant to enable a vehicle to move smoothly along the track. The permanent magnets 30 can be oriented such that every magnet along the respective supporting rail 26 has its polarity vertically aligned with the adjacent permanent magnets. The inventor appreciates that it is not necessary that every permanent magnet 30 be aligned in order for the invention to operate. The illustrated embodiment, however, is provided as an example of one preferred embodiment.
  • [0024]
    The spherical spacer 16 is sized and shaped to space apart the bottom and top plates 12,14, and to allow the top plate to rotate with respect to the bottom plate. In the illustrated embodiment, the spherical spacer 16 is a solid ball made of steel. The spherical spacer 16 can be coated or otherwise treated to reduce the frictional forces between the spherical spacer and the bottom and top plates 12,14. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate, having reviewed this disclosure, that the spherical spacer 16 could be made from another material, could be hollow, or could even have a different shape, such as pyramidal, without deviating from the spirit of the invention. The spherical spacer 16 is designed to be large enough to space the bottom and top plates 12,14 apart far enough to allow the top plate to rotate over a sufficient range of angles to compensate for expected variations in the angle or tilt of the track 11 under normal circumstances.
  • [0025]
    The bottom plate 12 and/or top plate 14 can be adapted to retain the spherical spacer 16 in a desired position. In the illustrated embodiment, the bottom and top plates 12,14 each have a hole 32 cut therethrough with a diameter smaller than the diameter of the spherical spacer 16. As a result, the spherical spacer 16 rests in the hole 32, and is less likely to travel laterally between the bottom and top plates 12,14. The inventors appreciate that many various means exist for maintaining the spherical spacer 16 in its desired location, and that holes 32 are merely one of them.
  • [0026]
    Because the track 11 is rigidly coupled to the top plate 14, the top plate can be rotated to change the orientation of the track 11, or to align the track with a section of track approaching from an adjacent system. Thus, the post 18 need not be exactly aligned, which can expedite the process of pouring the footings 20 and erecting the post. Fasteners can be used to retain the top plate 14 in its final orientation. In the illustrated embodiment, threaded bolts 34 and nuts 36 can be positioned in the corners of the bottom and top plates 12,14. The nuts 36 can be adjusted on the bolts 34 during alignment to assist in aligning the track 11. Otherwise, after the track 11 has been aligned, the nuts 36 can be tightened on the bolts 34 to retain the track in its desired alignment. The inventors appreciate that many other means can be incorporated or substituted for the bolts 34 and nuts 36 without deviating from the spirit of the invention.
  • [0027]
    The system 10 can also have lateral anchors 40 on one or both sides, depending on the forces expected to be experienced by the particular system. In the illustrated embodiment, one lateral anchor 40 is used, which may extend toward the outside of a curve to strengthen a section of the track 11. The lateral anchor 40 extends from a footing 42 to an alignment device 44 similar to that described above. The lateral anchor 40 can be fabricated primarily from a brace 46 terminating at one end in a flange 48 and at the other end in an outer plate 50. The flange 48 can be mounted to the footing 42 with bolts or other suitable means.
  • [0028]
    The outer plate 50 is equivalent to the top plate 14 in the above description, in that it is ultimately free to rotate with respect to the fixed portion of the structure. The lateral beam 24 terminates in an inner plate 52, which is equivalent to the bottom plate 12 in the above description. A spherical spacer 54 is positioned between the outer plate 50 and the inner plate 52, and can be retained in position by holes or other features positioned on or in one or both of the plates. As the system 10 is being installed, the outer plate 50 can rotate about the spherical spacer 54 and the inner plate 52. After the system 10 has been finally aligned, the outer plate 50 can be bolted or otherwise rigidly attached to the inner plate 52. It is appreciated by the inventors that, depending on the circumstances, the system 10 can incorporate one or two lateral braces 40, or none at all.
  • [0029]
    The system 10 described above and illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 has many advantages over known systems used in the prior art. For example, because the fine alignment of the track 11 can be made after the main structural members have been anchored, the precision required in the anchoring process is reduced. Erecting a post or other structure without excess precision allows the work to be done more quickly and economically. The ability to adjust the track 11 after the post 18 has been erected can also eliminate the need to take down and re-erect a post that was not perfectly erected. Still further, the ability to cant the track 11 after the post 18 has been erected may allow for more standardized posts, which can make the fab-shop more efficient and economical. These and other advantages provide benefits that were not satisfied by the known prior art.
  • [0030]
    FIGS. 4-6 illustrate a system 110 according to another embodiment of the present invention. Many of the elements of this embodiment are similar or the same to those described above and illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. Accordingly, we will not repeat the descriptions of those elements that do not differ from the descriptions already given. An individual of ordinary skill in the art, having reviewed this disclosure and compared FIGS. 1-3 with FIGS. 4-6 will be able to appreciate the similarities between the two.
  • [0031]
    In this particular embodiment, the bottom plate 112 is spaced apart form the top plate 114 by a spacer 116 that can be similar to the spacer described above. The spacer 116 need merely support the weight of the top plate 114, the lateral beam 124, and possibly the portion of a track that is laid thereon during construction. The spacer 116 need not be sufficiently strong to support the weight of a vehicle traveling along the track. Instead, a mass 113 is positioned between the bottom and top plates 112,114 to assist in supporting the weight.
  • [0032]
    The mass 113 in the illustrated embodiment can be made using a grout, preferably bonding strong enough to metal to withstand the forces and vibrations experienced by such systems 110; having a high enough compression strength to withstand the weights experienced by such systems; and exhibiting sufficiently little shrinkage during hardening and sufficiently little expansion/contraction from expected temperature changes to avoid inadvertent changes in system configuration. For example, CWC 604 Machine Bond epoxy resin grout, available through ITW Resin Technologies of Montgomeryville, Pa. would form an acceptable mass 113. That particular composition has a high compression strength, exhibits negligible shrinkage, and is unaffected by weather and temperature, which makes it effective in cementing the system 110 in its desired alignment, and makes it also effective in assisting the system in supporting the weights associated with vehicular applications. The inventors appreciate that other compositions and materials would serve as acceptable substitutes, and one of ordinary skill in the art having reviewed this disclosure would appreciate which materials would be suitable.
  • [0033]
    In one embodiment, after the system 110 has been aligned the fabricator trowels the mass 113 into the space between the bottom and top plates 112,114, and fills the space until the mass is flush with the edges of the plates. Because the mass 113 in some embodiments does not shrink during hardening, the fabricator would not need to touch the mass again in such instances. With other materials, however, if there is shrinkage, it is appreciated that the fabricator may need to trowel more of the mass 113 onto the first portion in order to complete the mass.
  • [0034]
    Once the mass 113 has been inserted into the system 110 and is hardened, it serves to lock the top plate 114 in its desired orientation with respect to the bottom plate 112, which ultimately locks the track in its desired alignment. The mass 113 withstands substantial amounts of weight, which reduces the amount of weight that the other elements of the system need to bear.
  • [0035]
    The applicant appreciates that many modifications and variations can be made to the embodiments discussed above without diverging from the spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be interpreted only based on the claims below.
  • [0036]
    All of the above U.S. patents, U.S. patent application publications, U.S. patent applications, foreign patents, foreign patent applications and non-patent publications referred to in this specification and/or listed in the Application Data Sheet, are incorporated herein by reference, in their entirety.
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7380508Mar 13, 2006Jun 3, 2008Lingqun LiSuspending-rail permanent magnetic levitation train system
US7624686Aug 23, 2006Dec 1, 2009Lingqun LiPermanent magnetic levitation bogie apparatus
US7626290Apr 24, 2006Dec 1, 2009Lingqun LiOne-wheel and bi-pole magnetic driving apparatus
US20060219128 *Mar 13, 2006Oct 5, 2006Lingqun LiSuspending-rail permanent magnetic levitation train system
US20060244322 *Apr 24, 2006Nov 2, 2006Lingqun LiOne-wheel and bi-pole magnetic driving apparatus
US20070044677 *Aug 23, 2006Mar 1, 2007Lingqun LiPermanent magnetic levitation bogie apparatus
EP2430239A1 *Nov 24, 2009Mar 21, 2012Pentti Markus OllikainenA method and equipment for arranging track banking, electric power supplies and tract covering
EP2430239A4 *Nov 24, 2009May 14, 2014Palomair Invention S R LA method and equipment for arranging track banking, electric power supplies and tract covering
WO2010097498A1 *Nov 24, 2009Sep 2, 2010Penti Markus OllikainenA method and equipment for arranging track banking, electric power supplies and tract covering
Classifications
U.S. Classification104/2
International ClassificationE01B2/00, E01B25/00, E01B25/30
Cooperative ClassificationE01B25/305, E01B25/00, E01B2/003
European ClassificationE01B25/30B, E01B25/00, E01B2/00B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 12, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: MAGNA FORCE, INC., WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LAMB, KARL J.;SPARKS, MICHAEL T.;GOSSAGE, SCOTT D.;REEL/FRAME:014330/0118;SIGNING DATES FROM 20031222 TO 20040110