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Publication numberUS20060272541 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/446,728
Publication dateDec 7, 2006
Filing dateJun 5, 2006
Priority dateJun 3, 2005
Publication number11446728, 446728, US 2006/0272541 A1, US 2006/272541 A1, US 20060272541 A1, US 20060272541A1, US 2006272541 A1, US 2006272541A1, US-A1-20060272541, US-A1-2006272541, US2006/0272541A1, US2006/272541A1, US20060272541 A1, US20060272541A1, US2006272541 A1, US2006272541A1
InventorsFred Taylor
Original AssigneeTaylor Fred J
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Railroad hopper car door actuating mechanism
US 20060272541 A1
Abstract
An actuating system for operating the doors of a railroad hopper car while dumping the contents outside of the rails. A main lever is rotatably coupled within the center sill with a rod extending from an arm of the lever to a door which covers the hopper. As the lever is rotated, the rods act to move the doors away from the hoppers.
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Claims(3)
1) An actuating system of actuating the doors of a hopper car of the type having a pair of doors closing each hopper; said car having a center sill, comprising:
a main lever, rotatably coupled within said center sill, said lever having a pair of arms extending from its central region;
a pair of rods, each coupled between an arm of said main lever, and a door which covers a hopper,
such that when said lever is rotated, said doors shift away from said hopper, allowing the contents of said car to be discharged outside of the rails.
2) The system of claim 1, further comprising an actuating lever coupled to said main lever for rotating said main lever.
3) The system of claim 2, wherein said actuating lever is curved.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims benefit from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. Nos. 60/687,081, filed Jun. 3, 2005, and 60/691,484, filed Jul. 2, 2005 which applications are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is directed in general to a device for opening the hopper doors of a railroad car, and, in particular, to a system for automatically opening and closing the hopper doors of a railroad car.

2. Description of the Related Art

A common type of railroad freight car in use today is the freight car of the type wherein the load is discharged through hoppers in the underside of the body. Such cars are generally referred to as hopper cars and are used to haul coal, phosphate and other commodities.

After hopper cars are spotted over an unloading pit, the doors of the hoppers are opened, allowing the material within the hopper to be emptied into the pit.

Hopper cars, which may be covered, are usually found with one of two hopper configurations: transverse, in which the doors closing the hoppers are oriented perpendicular to the center line of the car; or longitudinal, in which the doors closing the hoppers are oriented parallel to the center line of the car. An example of a hopper car with transverse doors is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,249,531, while an example of a hopper car with longitudinal doors is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,955,126.

Prior art references which teach operating mechanisms for opening and closing hopper doors include U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,596,609; 4,741,274; 3,187,684; 3,611,947; 3,786,764; 3,815,514; 3,818,842; 3,949,681; 4,222,334; 4,366,757; 4,601,244; 5,823,118; and 5,249,531. There are several disadvantages to the hopper door operating mechanisms described in some of the aforementioned patents. One problem is that some of the prior art mechanisms are designed such that each actuating mechanism is connected to doors from two separate hoppers. Thus, if the mechanism fails, it effects the operation of two hoppers. Another disadvantage of some of the above described hopper door mechanisms is that the operating mechanisms limit the distance of the door motion, thus limiting the open area of the car's bottom. This arrangement slows the unloading process and causes additional costs and potential damage to the car due to increased periods in thaw sheds. However, many of these systems usually require automatic operation of the doors, which requires an operating cylinder and valving.

Finally, it is often desirable to empty the contents of a railcar while the car is in motion, thus allowing the car to be emptied quicker. This method of operation also normally requires the use of expensive air cylinders and valving.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an actuating mechanism which allows the discharge doors of a hopper car to open and close automatically.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a simple automatic mechanism for actuating the discharge doors of a hopper car which can quickly empty the contents.

It is a still further object of the present invention to provide an actuating mechanism for a hopper car which can be used to dump the load outside the rails.

These and other objects of the present invention will be more readily apparent from the descriptions and drawings which follow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of a standard three pocket hopper car having a single transverse door associated with each hopper which is capable of using the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an elevational view of hopper car having a longitudinal door set which is capable of using the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a railroad car using the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the mechanism of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of the mechanism of the present invention installed on the center sill of a railroad car;

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the main lever of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the main lever of the present invention;

FIGS. 7A-B, show two views of the main lever of the present inventions;

FIGS. 8A-B, show two views of the second plate of the present invention;

FIGS. 9A-B, show two views of the first plate of the present invention;

FIGS. 10A-B, show two views of the actuating lever of the present invention;

FIGS. 11A-C, show three view of the couplers of the present invention;

FIGS. 12A-B, show two views of the links of the present inventions;

FIGS. 13A-B, show two views of other links of the present invention;

FIGS. 14A-B, show two views of another link of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a bottom view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 16A-C shows 3 views of a main lever for use with the present invention;

FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 18A-B, show two views of a link for use in the present invention

FIGS. 19A-B, show two views of a coupler for use in the present invention;

FIGS. 20A-D, show four views of hinges for use in the present invention;

FIGS. 21A-C, show three views of the hinge butts for use with the present invention; and

FIGS. 22A-C, show three views of the operating beam fulcrum for use with the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIGS. 1-2 display two different major types of hopper cars. FIG. 1 shows hopper cars using transverse doors, while FIG. 2 shows a car using longitudinal doors.

Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a typical three pocket railway hopper car, generally designated at 2, which may be equipped with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Car 2 is provided with a plurality of hopper units 4, a plurality of wheels 5, and a longitudinally extending center sill 6. Wheels 5 are mounted on a series of truck axles 7. Each hopper unit 4 is provided with a door 9 which is moveable to open and close each hopper unit 4. An actuating system for this type of car is taught in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/863,887, filed Jun. 8, 2004, which application is incorporated herein by reference.

Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown a typical hopper railcar, generally indicated at 10, having longitudinal doors which may be equipped with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Car 10 is provided with a longitudinal door set 12, a plurality of wheels 14, and a longitudinally extending center sill 16. An operating system for this type of hopper car is taught in U.S. Pat. No. 6,955,126, issued Oct. 28, 2005, which patent is incorporated herein by reference. Although the system taught in this patent teaches the operation of a single pair of doors, the mechanism can be used to open multiple sets of longitudinal doors.

FIG. 3 shows the mechanism of the present invention for use on a car in which the contents are dumped outside of the rails 18. The main lever 20 is rotatably coupled within the center sill 22 of the railroad car 24 between a first plate 26 which slides over extension 28 of lever 20 within center sill 22 and a second plate 30 abutting the outside of center sill 22. Plates 26 and 30 are attached together using bolts placed through apertures 32 in each plate. An actuating lever 34 is fitted on a square section 36 of lever 20 by sliding slot 38 of lever 34 over section 36.

A first door rod 40 is coupled to one arm of lever 20 by a coupler 42 which is rotatably connected to the arm by a link 46. The other end of rod 40 is coupled to door 45 by a coupler 42 which is attached to a bracket on the door by a link 50. A second door rod 52 is coupled to the other arm of lever 20 by a coupler 42 which is rotatably coupled to the arms by a link 44. The other end of rod 52 is coupled to door 58 by a coupler 42 which is attached to a bracket on the door by a link 50.

To open the doors, actuating lever 34 is rotated by virtue of a connection to an opening 64 in lever 34. Lever 34 may be coupled to an air cylinder for rotation, or a manual lever could possibly be connected to opening 64 of lever 34 to rotate the lever.

As lever 34 rotates, main lever 20 also rotates by virtue of its connection within slot 38 around square section 36 of lever 20. As lever 20 rotates, coupler 42 causes rods 40 and 52 to pull on the hopper doors 45 and 50, causing them to the open vertical position as can be seen in FIG. 3. This allows the contents of each hopper to empty outside of the rails of the track.

FIG. 15 shows another embodiment of the present invention which uses an over center latch for insuring a positive locking for the door system. In this embodiment, link 80 (FIG. 18) contains an offset section 82 which accommodates door rod 84 such that in its closed position, it passes through the center line of the mechanism, adding an additional safety feature to the mechanism.

FIGS. 15 and 17 show an additional embodiment of the present invention which uses a system that pulls the hopper doors open, rather than pushing them open, as shown in FIG. 3. The lever of FIG. 16A uses a main lever 90 which is 6° over center in its closed position, as seen in FIG. 17. When lever 90 is rotated, the linkages pull each door toward the open position. The door hinges 92 used in this embodiment are shown in greater detail in FIGS. 20A-D. In addition, hinge butts 94 are shown in FIGS. 21A-C, and an operating beam fulcrum 96 is shown in FIGS. 22A-C, and couplers 98 (FIGS. 19A-C) couple the rods to the main lever.

FIG. 15 shows a lever 100 which is coupled to an air cylinder for opening the door mechanism. The curve in lever 100 allows the mechanism to travel over center when the doors are closed. As can be seen in FIG. 15, the mechanism is 3° over center when the doors are closed, adding a safety feature to the door system.

This mechanism can be used to open a single set of continuous longitudinal doors, and can also be used on individual sets of hoppers which are closed by longitudinal door sets.

In the above description, and in the claims which follow, the use of such words as “clockwise”, “counterclockwise”, “distal”, “proximal”, “forward”, “outward”, “rearward”, “vertical”, “horizontal”, and the like is in conjunction with the drawings for purposes of clarity.

While the invention has been shown and described in terms of preferred embodiment, it will be understood that this invention is not limited to this particular embodiment, and that many changes and modifications may be made without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7703397Sep 8, 2006Apr 27, 2010National Steel Car LimitedRail road hopper car fittings and method of operation
US8047140Aug 11, 2010Nov 1, 2011National Steel Car LimitedRail road hopper car structure
US8065964Feb 2, 2010Nov 29, 2011National Steel Car LimitedRail road hopper car ridge fittings
US8596203May 11, 2011Dec 3, 2013National Steel Car LimitedRailroad car and door mechanism therefor
US8622004Oct 31, 2011Jan 7, 2014National Steel Car LimitedRail road hopper car ridge fittings
US8915193 *Mar 15, 2013Dec 23, 2014National Steel Car LimitedRailroad car and door mechanism therefor
US8967053 *Jun 28, 2013Mar 3, 2015National Steel Car LimitedRailroad hopper car and door mechanism therefor
Classifications
U.S. Classification105/299
International ClassificationB61D3/00
Cooperative ClassificationB61D7/24
European ClassificationB61D7/24