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Publication numberUS3238358 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 1, 1966
Filing dateSep 11, 1961
Priority dateSep 11, 1961
Publication numberUS 3238358 A, US 3238358A, US-A-3238358, US3238358 A, US3238358A
InventorsRead Worth G
Original AssigneeRead Worth G
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus of identifying railroad cars
US 3238358 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

March 1, 1966 w. G. READ 3,238,358

METHOD AND APPARATUS OF IDENTIFYING RAILROAD CARS Filed Sept. 11, 1961 z Sheefs-Sheet 1 KEYBOARD ERROR OPERATOR-p f asToRAGE :DETECTOR I READ OUT INFORMATION SOLENOID TRANSFER INPUT DEVICE K HEAD 32 fl -APPL|CATOR EfE' -.1 I I CAR DETECTOR VIEWING STATION f/ 0. j \y// Zfi TRANSFER 37 SIGNALS MONITOR PROCESS VIEWING SIGNALS I El SIGNAL RECEIVER L IIHIQ a ag 36 a 4 6 Q 0 35 w 9 7 45 I '7 0 O E 3 A 44 El r SENSE SENSE APPLIED CLEAN APPLY & SIGNALS TRANSMIT YES NO NO YES NO YES FM: 2 w

INVENTOR BY @ifi ORNEY W. G- READ March 1, 1966 METHOD AND APPARATUS OF IDENTIFYING RAILROAD CARS Filed Sept. 11. 1961 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR W0 PTH G R540 BY Qwwam.

ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,238,358 METHOD AND APPARATUS 0F IDENTIFYING RAILROAD CARS Worth G. Read, 3162 Hamline Ave., St. Paul 12, Minn. Filed Sept. 11, 1961, Ser. No. 137,282 14 Claims. (Cl. 235-61.12)

This invention relates to a method and apparatus of identifying railroad cars and deals particularly with a method and apparatus capable of automatically indicating the number of the car, car ownership, type of car and any other desired information such as length, doors, weight of car, tare or light weight and similar data.

It is a well known fact that railroad cars, such as freight cars, tank cars, gondolas and the like, while owned by one railroad company, are more than often on the tracks of another railroad. Keeping track of these cars is a difficult and costly, but absolutely necessary, procedure. Railroad cars entering or leaving a railroad yard are usually made up into trains, and in the past it has been necessary for some one to walk from car to car and to take down the numbers of the cars, and the names of the railroads owning these cars. As the trains are usually made up of cars which are to be delivered along the right of way of the railroad, it is also necessary to check out the cars which are to be delivered to a predetermined destination and to pick up any cars which are to be delivered to a predetermined destination and to pick up any cars which are to be delivered along points of the railroad right of way. In view of the fact that the trains in many instances enter or leave a certain area in spaced hours throughout the day, it is necessary to maintain a staff capable of checking the cars throughout a period of 24 hours a day. As a result, for many years, the railroads have been attempting to obtain an automatic method of checking and recording the cars and the ownership of the cars so that the freight cars may be checked in and out at a minimum of time and cost.

It has been proposed by myself and others that each of the cars be provided with color code insignia in the form of applied strips or placards which may be scanned by an apparatus similar to a television scanning apparatus as the cars pass the scanning point on the railroad. Unfortunately, such an arrangement is usually impractical for various reasons. In the first place, the railroad cars are of various shapes and forms. As a result, it is difficult to place the applied strips in such a position that it would be properly viewed by the scanning apparatus as the cars passed the scanning point. As an example, color insignia placed on the side of the usual box car could not readily be similarly located on a tank car, gondola, or flat car. Accordingly, it would be difficult to place the color insignia in a proper location to be properly scanned regardless of the type of car involved.

Furthermore, there is a decided disadvantage in placing such an indicating means on all of the railroad cars, and considerable time would be required to properly code every car passing over a certain railroad line. In view of the fact that freight cars of one type or another may travel in either direction, it would be necessary to equip each such car with four charts of color coding, two of which would be on one end and far side of the car, while the other two would be at the other end and far side thereof. The time which would be required to apply the coding marks to the cars would very definitely delay the operation of the railroads, as it would be necessary to apply four code markings to each car, and to prepare the surface to which the code markings Were attached before the insignias were attached. Furthermore, such code markings would be subject to easy destruction or vandalism, and if any of the four code markings were not read properly by the scanning device due to a partial destruction of the code marks, an incorrect record would be obtained.

With these facts in mind, the applicant has arrived at the novel idea of using the axles of the railroad car trucks as a means of properly identifying the railroad cars, including the numbers of the cars and their railroad identification. For example, by applying a series of spaced stripes to the axles of the trucks, most of the previous difficulties may be avoided. In the first place, identifying stripes partially or completely encircling the axles of the car trucks may be readily applied by a proper coding apparatus as the cars move over a predetermined coding station. In other words, as each railroad car passes over the coding station, a predetermined pattern of stripes may be applied to the axles of the car, and these code stripes can indicate both the identification of the company owing the car, and also the number of the car. As a result, the code marks can be automatically applied to a car by manual, mechanical or electronic means which may, if necessary, be set up in advance to the actual passage of the cars over the coding unit. Accordingly, as each of the cars passes over the coding unit, the necessary identification stripes may be applied to the wheel axles even during the movement of the car over the coding unit, and as a result little time is lost in properly coding the car.

The advantage of this construction and arrangement is believed obvious. In coding cars with apredetermined color or striped code on the sides of the cars, it would be necessary to either attach or stencil the'proper code on the cars in four places if all of the places presently used for identification are employed. Even if these coding stencils were prepared in advance, considerable time would be required in applying them to the cars, and furthermore it would be almost impossible to apply such marks to freight cars, tank cars, gondolas, and flat cars so that the marks would be at the same elevation and would accordingly be properly decoded. On the other hand, the proper indicating stripes cold be applied to the axles of the cars with a minimum of difficulty due to the fact that the sequence of cars entering a yard is usually known, and electronic means could well be set up to apply stripes to the axles of the cars as they pass the coding unit in sequence without even requiring the necessity of stopping the cars for the coding operation. As a result, all of the cars which enter a freight yard could be coded either automatically or manually as the cars move by or past the unit.

It is another desired, preferred or beneficial feature of the present invention to use the transverse center of the axle as a reference point, the proper decoding of the information applied to the axles of the car thus being greatly facilitated and being practically inevitable.

A further feature of the present invention resides in the fact that all of the axles of the car may be similarly identified so that no difliculty is encountered when the direction of movement of the car is changed. This also provides security for any information not available from one axle but which may be obtained from a subsequent axle. Means Which are well known within the skill of the art can be provided which identify a certain car by the first axle which passes over the identifying unit. As long as the same signal is provided, no additional records will be made. In other words, if a car passes over the identifying unit, all four axles may pass over the identifying unit without causing an additional recording. The same is true if the car happens to stop over the identifying unit, and reverses its direction of motion. As a result, each car may be identified by proper identification means, and this means may be either manually read in the event the cars are traveling at a slow enough speed, or may be automatically recorded in the event the cars are traveling over the sensing unit at a speed which is in excess of the speed at which the numbers can be manually recorded. The information may also be manually recorded when desired.

Perhaps the most important parts of the present invention reside in the provision of a device for determining the identification of railroad cars which is virtually independent of most of the difliculties usually experienced with devices of this type. As the stripes are applied to the axles of the railroad car, the chance for vandalism is practically eliminated. Furthermore, as all of the cars are provided with axles which are located at a substantially predetermined distance from the rails, little difiiculty is experienced in properly identifying the cars. In other words, the axles are at a predetermined distance from the rails, and by providing a type of apparatus capable of scanning the position of the stripes on the axle beneath the rails, most of the difliculties which have been involved in devices of this type can be avoided.

An object of the present invention resides in the provision of an apparatus of the type described in which the gauge marks are located at a predetermined distance from the surface of the rails, thereby eliminating any variation between the scanning device and the gauge marks being scanned. The axles of the cars are substantially an equal height from the tracks regardless of the type of car which is involved.

An additional feature of the present invention resides in the provision of the device described which may be readily cleaned so that the code markings are at all times readily visible. Due to the fact that the code markings are on the axles of the wheels, it is only necessary to provide a brush or wiper which is engageable with the axles as they pass a predetermined portion of the track, this brush or other means removing the major portion of the dirt and dust from the axles so that the code marking is readily visible. The code markings also can be readily changed when necessary, to provide new tare weight listings and the like when the car is reweighed.

An additional feature of the present invention resides in the provison of a code marking which may be readily applied to the axles during the actual movement of the car over a predetermined portion of the track. While the device is not disclosed in detail in the present application, the device may comprise a series of transversely spaced coding markers, selective ones of which may be moved into contact with the axle, and the proper coding stripes may be applied.

A further feature of the present invention resides in the provision of an apparatus which may include an apparatus capable of detecting uncoded cars and for providing an auxiliary means of determining the identity of such uncoded cars by picture transmission or the like.

These and other objects and novel features of the present invention will be more clearly and fully set forth in the following specification and claims.

In the drawings forming a part of the specification:

FIGURE 1 is a diagrammatic view showing a typical arrangement of the apparatus.

FIGURE 2 is a diagrammatic view showing in general the arrangement of the parts of the system.

FIGURE 3 is a diagrammatic view of a coded axle and the scanning apparatus for uncoding the information on the axle.

FIGURE 4 is a diagrammatic view showing one manner in which the information may be coded and uncoded.

It is the purpose of the present invention to disclose in general the coding of railroad cars of various types through the use of code markings placed upon one or more of the car axles. In the preferred form of the invention, similar code markings placed on opposite sides of the center line of the axles so that the detecting device may function in the same manner regardless of the direction of travel of the car. The code markings are preferably code stripes which encircle the axle so that the stripes are continuously visible to a scanning apparatus. The stripes may be colored and the various colors of stripes may in itself comprise the code. How-t ever, color coding is somewhat more difiicult to apply to the wheel axles than code stripes of a single color, and code stripes of one color are also more readily decoded. Discontinuous stripes may also be employed, but stripes of this type are also somewhat more difficult to decode and classify than are single continuous stripes. Thus in the preferred form of the invention, the preferred coding is accomplished by the spacing of the stripes, and by the presence or absence of stripes in predetermined areas throughout the length of the car axle.

The stripes may be formed of reflective tape, ink, paint, dyes, or applications of magnetic material or other material. However, in the simplest form, the stripes may be merely continuous bands of tape or other coding material which may be applied to the axles by a suitable type of applicator during the movement of the car over the applying means.

Cars usually are identified by a combination of letters and numerals. In an apparatus of the type described which is designed to automatically record or list the successive cars in a train, it is also desirable, although not necessarily essential, to provide a code mark indicating the type of car. By providing a series of spaced stripes in a predetermined configuration, the letters designating the the ownership of the car as Well as the car number may be indicated upon the wheel axle. An area of proper length to contain six spaced stripes is required for the indication of any letter of the alphabet. An area of suflicient length to accommodate four spaced stripes is utilized for the recording of any single numeral. Due to the fact that the coding stripes may be relatively narrow, and due to the further fact that the axles are of considerable length, it is possible to code any real axle with sufficient information to indicate the ownership of the car, the car number, and possibly additional information such as the type of car involved.

As an example of the manner of coding any numeral from one to zero, let us consider that an area of the length of the axle capable of receiving four spaced stripes is allotted for each numeral. Referring to FIGURE 4 of the drawings, a section of a car axle is indicated which is shown as including six such areas of equal length which are identified by the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F. In each of these six areas are positions for four stripes, the righthand positions of these areas being indicated by the numeral 11, the second position of each area being identified by the numeral 12, the third position of each area being identified by the numeral 13, and the fourth position of each area being indicated by the numeral 14. The four positions each have a predetermined value, the value of the stripes in position 11 being one, the value of the stripes in the positions 12 being two, the positions of the stripes in position 13 having a value of four, and the position of the stripes in positions 14 having a value of eight. As will be seen, the value of the stripes in each succeeding position is double the value of the stripes in the preceding position.

With reference now to the following Chart I, it will be seen that by applying stripes to one or more of the positions mentioned, any numeral from one to nine can be coded in the area. If no stripes appear in the area, the coded numeral will be zero.

From the diagram shown in FIGURE 4 of the drawings, it will be seen that the numeral 876105 has been coded on the axle in the area AF, inclusive. The area A includes a single stripe in position 14 which immediately designates the numeral 8. The area B is provided with three stripes in positions 11, 12, and 13 which have a value of 1, 2, and 4, respectively for a total of seven. In a similar manner, the stripes of each of the areas indicate a numeral which can be readily detected and decoded by a suitable sensing apparatus.

FIGURE 4 also indicates diagrammatically the transverse center line 15 of the axle. In the preferred form of construction, this center line divides the axle into two areas which contain identical information, the coding in each case reading from the center line of the axis outwardly or from the ends of the axle inwardly. This arrangement provides a check as to the accuracy of the decoded information, as the information coded on each end of the axle is identical. It also provides a means of immediately indicating that the sensing device is properly reading in the various areas which have been described.

FIGURE 3 of the drawings diagrammatically illus-; trates the axle 10 supported by a pair of flanged wheels 16 riding upon parallel railroad tracks 17. Code markings are also diagrammatically illustrated on the axle 10 on opposite sides of the center line 15. Due to the restricted size of the figure, the number of code markings appearing on the axle has been materially reduced for the purpose of illustration. However, it will be noted that broken lines indicate an outer section 19 which is designated for the indication of the name of the carrier owning the car. The area 20 between a second pair of broken lines will comprise the area in which the car numeral is indicated. The space between the area 20 and the axle center line 15 may be used for other code markings, such as an indication of the type of car involved.

Imbedded in the road bed beneath the axle are a pair of sensing devices 21, each of which is capable of detecting the coding on one end of the axle, and of transferring the information in a suitable manner. The sensing devices 21 may comprise cameras, capable of recording the code on a sensitized tape, may comprise a scanning device capable of transmitting electrical impulses to a suitable recording device, or may comprise a device capable of recording reflected light from the stripes or any other suitable apparatus. It will be understood that there are various types of devices which are capable of sensing a series of transversely spaced code marks and of transmitting the coded information to a suitable receiving unit capable of translating the code on a suitable record.

The information received from the sensing devices may be applied to a printed or punched tape, to tabulate cards, or to any other type of recording devices which may receive the coded information and put it into form so that it maybe used.

FIGURE 1 of the drawings diagrammatically illustrates a type of system which may be used in automatically applying the code to the wheel axles. The car passes a viewing station 25 which may include either a television camera or an operator who supplies information to a keyboard operator located at 26. The keyboard operator receives the information as to the ownership of the car, the number of the car, and the other relevant information to be coded on the wheel axles. The keyboard operator transmits the information received to an information input device 27 which transmit the information in some manner to a storage unit 29. For example, the information may be stored on a magnetic tape or drum, on tabulator cards, or any other convenient means of temporarily storing the information regarding the code.

hen the car energizes the photo-electric car detector 39, the stored information is transmitted to a mechanical device such as a solenoid or relay bank 30 capable of setting up striped applicators in properly spaced relation in the path of movement of the surface of the axle 10. The solenoid bank 30 operates through the transfer head 31 to position the stripe applicators 32. The applicators 32 operate in any desired manner to apply the code stripes in properly spaced relation to the axle 10.

After the stripes have been applied, the axle is viewed by a suitable read-out device 33 which compares the information applied on the stripes to the stored information in the storage unit 30 through an error detector 34. The error detector 34 acts to indicate any errors between the information actually applied to the car and that directed to the information input device 27 by the keyboard operator.

FIGURE 2 indicates diagrammatically a typical operation which is used in conjunction with the coding operation and designed to accommodate either cars which have been previously coded or to code uncoded cars. The car 35 passes the viewing station, and information as to the ownership of the car as well as the car number is transmitted as indicated at 36 to the central operating office 37. As the car travels along the track 39, it passes a sensing device which indicates whether or not the axles have been previously coded. If the car has been coded, information is transmitted from the sensing device 40 through the line 41 and is recorded in the central ofiice 37. If the car has not been coded, a cleaning apparatus 42 is energized which contacts the axles of the car and acts to clean them. If a car has been previously coded, the cleaner 42 is not actuated for that purpose, but may be activated for sensing purposes.

In the event the car has not been coded, the operation of the cleaning unit 42 energizes the coding apparatus 43 which is set up with the necessary information through the line 44, and the proper code is applied to the wheel axles. The car 35 then passes over the sensing device 45 which detects the code and transmits the information through the line 46 to the central oflice 37 where the code and information is recorded. The information as to the cars may then be transmitted to the car destination.

Obviously, the system diagrammatically illustrated in FIGURE 2 must include both a viewing station and a code sensing apparatus, but this arrangement has the advantage of providing a check on the cars. Furthermore, as more and more of the cars are coded, the cleaning and applying devices are used less and less. The system has been found practical and is obviously extremely useful.

The coding of the axles is one of the few ways of coding railroad cars of all types so that the sensing or detecting devices may at all times remain a fixed distance from the coded areas. The axles are always at substantially the same distance above the rails regardless of the type or style of the car. This is true whether the car is full or empty, whether it is on a straight track or a curved track, and whether the wheels support a box car, flat car, gondola, or any other type of car. Thus the system is materially more accurate than any coding system with which I am familiar.

While the use of the car axles to bear the code marks is preferred, it is possible to use another part of the car supporting trucks or undercarriage to bear these marks. In any event, the code marks extend laterally of the direction of car movement and are beneath the car in generally fixed relation to the tracks.

In accordance with the patent statutes, I have described the principles of construction and operation of my improvement in Method and Apparatus of Identifying Railroad Cars, and while I have endeavored to set forth the best embodiment thereof, I desire to have it understood that changes may be made within the scope of the following claims without departing from the spirit of my invention.

I claim:

1. A railway car coding means for designating the identification of a railroad car, the coding means including a series of code marks arranged in fixed axially spaced relation along an axle of the car and rotatable therewith.

2. The structure of claim 1 and in which the spaced code marks comprise stripes extending at least partially about the circumference of the axle.

3. The structure of claim 1 and in which the code marks are in two sections on opposite sides of the transverse center line of the axle, the marks being similarly spaced on both sides of said center line.

4. A railway car coding means in which at least one car axle includes a series of axially spaced code marks on the axle and rotatable therewith, the code marks being arranged in fixed axially spaced areas and the code marks of each area being arranged in a binary relation to represent a numeral and the like.

5. A railway car coding means in which at least one car axle includes a series of axially spaced code marks on the axle and rotatable therewith a portion of the axle being arbitrarily divided into a series of areas of length capable of accommodating at least four code marks in corresponding positions in said areas, the code marks of each position in the areas having a predetermined numerical value.

6. The construction of claim 5 and in which the code marks of each area may be accumulated to designate the numbers 1-9 inclusive.

7. A railway car coding means in which at least one car axle includes a series of axially spaced code marks a portion of the axle being arbitrarily divided into a series of areas of equal length capable of accommodating at least four code marks in corresponding positions in said areas, the code marks in a first position in each area representing the numeral value 1, the code marks in a second position in each area representing the numeral value 2, the code marks of a third position in each area representing the numeral value 4, and the code marks in a fourth position in each area representing the numeral value 8.

8. A railroad car coding means for use in combination with a sensing device capable of detecting code marks in predetermined areas extending longitudinally on a car axle, the car including a transverse wheel supported axle,

the coding means comprising a series of marks at least partially encircling said axle, a portion of the axle being divided arbitrarily into a series of axially extending areas of equal axial length, each area being capable of accommodating four axially spaced code marks in equally spaced relation, the code marks in each position in each said area having a predetermined numerical value, said marks of said series being located to indicate a number in each said area, whereby the numerals from one to nine may be coded in each area by proper location of said code mark in said positions.

9. A railroad car coding means for use in combination with a railroad car including trucks supported by wheels mounted on transversely extending axles, and a sensing device in fixed position beneath the level of said axles and over which said car may move the sensing device being capable of detecting the arrangement of code marks on one of the axles, the coding means comprising a series of code marks arranged in fixed axially spaced relation along said one axle and rotatable therewith.

10. The structure of claim 9 and including means for recording the information detected by said fixed means.

11. The structure of claim 9 and including means for transmitting and receiving the information detected by said fixed means.

12. A method of coding railway cars to provide a manner of automatically detecting the ownership and number of the car during movement of the car along a railroad track, the method consisting in applying code marks in axially spaced relation on an axle of the car, said code marks being arranged in a pattern to indicate the information desired.

13. The method described in claim 12 and in which the code marks are in the form of stripes encircling the wheel axle.

14. The method of automatically processing information concerned with a particular railway car including the steps of,

marking a car axle with axially spaced code marks,

said code marks being arranged in a pattern to indicate the information desired,

moving the car over a pick-up station designed to read said binary code.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 815,320 3/1906 Carpenter 104--88 2,194,057 3/ 1940 Simpson 246-434 2,320,150 5/1943 Loughridge 177-353 2,590,091 3/1952 Devol 340174.1 2,614,169 10/1952 Cohen 340174.1 2,628,572 2/1953 Golf 246-63 2,956,117 10/1960 Ernst et al. 340146.3 X 2,981,830 4/1961 Davis et al. 104-88 3,106,706 10/1963 Kolanowski et al. 23561.115

FOREIGN PATENTS 857,797 9/1940 France.

452,516 11/1927 Germany.

798,538 7/1958 Great Britain.

807,343 1/1959 Great Britain.

MALCOLM A. MORRISON, Primary Examiner.

JAMES S. SHANK, Examiner.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3316392 *Nov 13, 1962Apr 25, 1967Gen ElectricCoded automatic identification system
US3576428 *Apr 27, 1967Apr 27, 1971Sylvania Electric ProdWideband label reading apparatus
US3988991 *Jul 18, 1975Nov 2, 1976Fmc CorporationConveyor system utilizing shielded reader units
US4194686 *Oct 20, 1977Mar 25, 1980Krupp-Koppers GmbhMethod of monitoring and controlling the travel and operation of the travelling accessory machines in a coking installation
US4264927 *May 30, 1979Apr 28, 1981American District Telegraph CompanyFreight car identification method
Classifications
U.S. Classification235/435, 348/143, 235/487, 235/494, 246/2.00S
International ClassificationB61L25/00, B61L25/04
Cooperative ClassificationB61L25/04
European ClassificationB61L25/04