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Publication numberUS3257964 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 28, 1966
Filing dateFeb 20, 1963
Priority dateFeb 20, 1963
Publication numberUS 3257964 A, US 3257964A, US-A-3257964, US3257964 A, US3257964A
InventorsConners Joseph E
Original AssigneeBell Aerospace Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Transport means
US 3257964 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

June 28, 1966 J. E. CONNERS 3,257,954

TRANSPORT MEANS Filed Feb. 20, 1963 2 Sheets-Sheet l A TTORNEYS i INVENTOR. JOSEPH E. CONNERS NO I J. E. CQNNERS TRANSPORT MEANS June 28, 1966 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Feb. 20, 1963 FIG? FIG9


A TTORNEXS' United States Patent 3,257,964 SPORT MEANS Joseph E. Conner-s, Kenmore, N.Y., assignor to Bell Aerospace Corporation, Wheatfield, N.Y. Filed Feb. 20, 1963, Ser. No. 260,018 2 Claims. '(Cl. 104-134) This invention relates to load conveyance systems, and more particularly to a system wherein palletized or similarly supported loads are to be transported between established loading and unloading stations. For example, the system of the present invention may be employed in lieu of conventional type conveyor devices; railroad or highway trucking systems; or the like. This application is the result of further efforts under the auspices of a common assignee of the project covered by application Serial No. 165,771, filed January. 12, 1962, and now Patent No. 3,081,886, issued March 19, 1963.

Prior designs intended for similar uses have been deficient and impracticable for various reasons. For example, U.S. Patents 319,335 and 936,395 proposed conveyance systems wherein the fluid' compressor and power plant were necessarily carried by the vehicle, thereby defeating the basic problem of providing an economically operable system. On the other hand, US. Patents 1,411,597 and 465,151 proposed stationary power plants and support pad arrangements which inherently required the use of extremely high pressures in the levitating mechanisms; which in itself is economically impracticable and renders the system vulnerable to accident and loss of operating effectiveness. On the other hand, the present invention relates to a system which is fully effective though operable by only extremely low pressures, and otherwise solves the problem of providing such a system which is fully practicable in all respects.

It is a primary object of the present invention to provide an improved type conveyance system wherein the loads are substantially levitated while being moved through use of an economical low pressure operated mechanism whereby relatively heavy loads may be transported from place to place with improved ease, economy and facility.

Another object is to provide in connection with the above, an improved pressured fluid control system, and an improved load propelling and guidance system.

Other objects and advantages of the invention Will be apparent from the specification hereinafter including the accompanying drawing wherein:

employment of the invention in connection with a railroad type transport arrangement;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary top plan, on enlarged scale, view of a portionof FIG. '1;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary sectional view through a portion of the device of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary plan view corresponding to FIG. 2 but of a modified form of the mechanism;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view, taken on line 5-5 of FIG. 2- and showing one form of load driving mechanism;

FIG. 5a: is a fragmentary view of a portion of FIG. 5 but showing the load driving mechanism thereof adjusted to inoperative position;

FIG. 6 is .a sectional view corresponding to FIG. 5 but showing another form of load pallet guiding and driving means;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view, taken on line 7-7 of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view corresponding to FIG. 6 but showing still another form of driving mechanism; and

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along line 99 of FIG. 8.

3,257,964 Patented June 28, 1966 As shown by way of one example in the drawing herewith, the invention may be employed in connection with a cargo handling operation involving transfer of loads as in the manner of a fixed position conveyor belt system, or railroad, or the like. The main road bed or running floor structure, which is designated generally at 10, may be of any :preferred .construction, but in accord with the present invention that area of the floor structure which is to comprise the load travel aisleway will be of substantially air tight form and laterally bounded by sides or curbings 11, 11; while at appropriate intervals therealong it is provided with compressed air outlet openings 12 through which air or other pressured fluid may flow into the space defined between the top surface of the road bed 10 and'the bottom of a load carrying pallet as indicated at 15. Provision is made for supplying pressured fluid, such as compressed air, to the outlets 12; and such means may comprise in each case a conduit 16 extending through the floor panel 10. Compressed air is fedby any suitable means to the conduits 16, such as from a supply pipe 18 into which compressors 20 pump air at intervals therealong (FIG. 1), under control of pressureregulatin-g control devices as is well known in the art. By use of this system the floor structure per se need not be of strictly airatight construction for eificient compressed air utilization.

In any case the fluid outlet ports 12 in the floor panel 10 are arranged to be individually controlled as by flap valves or the like as indicated at 21, which are arranged to normally close their associated discharge ports. Thus, for example, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, the valves 21 may be actuated by crank arms 22 connecting to push-pull rods 24 which are in turn positionally controlled by means of oppositely acting compression springs 26 and fluidpress'ure responsive diaphragms 28. The diaphragms 28 are disposed in housings 30 which are connected. in open communciation with back pressure conduits 32 leading from pressure inlet openings 34 disposed closely adjacent the associated main ports 12.

The cargo loads to be handled may comprise single,

' may comprise groups of smaller sized items. In any case the loads will preferably be unitized by being carried upon or within load pallets or the like as indicated generally at 15. As shown in FIGS. 5, 8, the pallet devices may be of simple flat bottom form; or as shown in FIG. 6 a bell bottom form may be employed. Thus it will be appreciated that the pressured fluid control system may be arranged so that whereas the control springs 26 normally hold all of the valves 21 in port-closing positions, whenever a supply of \pressured fluid is admitted to the air chamber under a load pallet, the pressure thereof will back up through the conduits 32 which are at the time encompassed by the load pallet. forces will actuate the associated diaphragms 28 to move the rods 24 against the actions of their springs 26 so as to turn the associated valve or valves 21 to open positions.

Thus, as long as the pressured fluid supply is available and the load pallet is disposed above one or more of the ports 12, the latter will discharge pressured fluid into the chamber under the pallet. The relative spacings of the ports 12 and the dimensioning of the conduits and the degree of pressurization on the operative fluid will of course all be arranged and regulated according to the loads to be handled so that when pressured fluid is so dispensed into the chamber under the pallet the weight of the pallet and its load will be assumed by the fluid. Hence the load may now be transported in the desired direction with utmost ease and facility. It will of course be appreciated that rollers or skid runners or the like may be also provided at the under surfaces of the pallets These back pressure 3 to further facilitate horizontal movements of the load units, if desired.

An important feature provided 'by this' construction and arrangement of parts as illustrated and described hereinabovc, is that whenever a load pallet is moved so as to uncover a previously operative port 12, the immediate loss of back pressure within the associated back pressure conduit 32 permits the associated valve control spring to return its valve to port-closing position. On the other hand, as the pallet moves over in position above an heretofore inactive port 12, the back pressure immediately developed in the associated conduit 32 will cause the control mechanism associated therewith to open the valve controlling that port, whereby that port will now assume its share of the load support operation. Thus, only those ports which are disposed under one or more load carrying pallets are operative, and automatically go into and out of operation as the load pallets move along the aisleway; while all non-working ports are closed, thus minimizing the use of pressured fluid.

Any suitable arrangement may be provide-d for initiating and terminating any required term of operation of the mechanism, for example, as shown and described in the priorPatent No. 3,081,886 hereinabove referred to. Thus a starter port may be provided at any desired location through the floor of the aisleway such as at a position where a load pallet may normally be parked. The starter port may be served by the same compressed air supply and controlled as by any suitable valve which may of course be either manually or otherwise actuated.

Thus, starting from inoperative condition, the valve may be momentarily opened by an attendant so as to admit compressed air to the space under the pallet, whereby the pressure developed thereunder will in turn operate the valve control devices of the lift ports 12 which are disposed under the pallet. The starter valve may then be closed. because the pallet may now be moved in any direction desired, and the lift ports encountered on the way will automatically open and then close behind the load pallet as it passes on.

Means for driving and guiding and stabilizing the motions of the load pallets along the trackway may be provided of a variety of forms. For example, as shown in FIGS. 2, 4 and 5, rollers as indicated at 40 running on vertical axles may be carried at opposite sides of the load container and arranged to bear laterally against the curbs 11 of the trackway. Furthermore, driving motors as indicated at 42 may be coupled to one or more of the rollers 40, whereby the latter through frictional engagement with the curb will transmit driving power to the load container. The motors 42 may be conveniently mounted by means of vertically adjustable screw brackets 44, to suit the apparatus to various desired modes of operation. On the other hand, as shown in FIG. 6, the guide means for the load containers may comprise simple bracket devices 46 extending downwardly from opposite sides of the load pallet into slide-guiding relation with the curb elements, which as shown in FIG. 6 may also be of modified form and made from conventional angle stockpieces. Also note that as shown in FIGS. 6, 7, the means for propelling the load container may be provided in the form of vanes 48 attached to the bottom of the pallet 15. The vanes are sloped or canted so that when compressed air issues thereagainst from the ports 12 of the trackway system the impingement forces against the vanes operate to drive the pallet forwardly, as depicted in FIG. 7.

FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate still another form of pallet guiding and driving arrangement, wherein a combination guide-drive wheel 50 is journalled upon a pivot fork 52 attached to the load pallet. The driving motor 54 is geared to the wheel 50 as by means of belt or chain. A grooved track arrangement as indicated at 56 is provided centrally and longitudinally of the track bed to receive the wheel 50 (FIG. 8), and thus it will be appreciated that the wheel 50 will provide the requisite driving force and also operate to guide the load pallet in relation to the track bed.

FIG. 4 illustrates a modified form of compressed air control arrangement wherein the port control valve 21 is electrically controlled as by means of a proximity switch as indicated at 66 such as would be mounted on the track system at an appropriate distance ahead of the associated outlet port 12 whereby the compressed air supply will be delivered to the outlet port promptly as each load pallet arrives in the region thereof.

Thus, it will be appreciated that although only a few forms of the invention have been illustrated and described in detail hereinabove, various changes may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention or the scope of the following claims.

I claim:

1. Cargo transport means comprising a track bed of elongate form and delineated by parallel marginal curb means at opposite sides thereof thereby providing a track bed raised relative to the adjacent ground level, fluid outlet ports extending through said bed at intervals longitudinally thereof, a load carrier adapted to receive a load to be transported, said carrier having a substantially fluid tight bottom wall conduit means in communication with each of said outlet ports for supplying the latter with pressured fluid, a valve device controlling flow of fluid through each of said ports, means biasing said valve devices toward their closed positions, fluid pressure responsive means operably connected to each of said valves and adapted to actuate the valve to open position against the action of its biasing means, back pressure conduit means in pressure communicating relation with the space between said curb means at positions ahead of each of said ports and coupled to said pressure responsive means for actuating the latter to cause the associated valve device to open whenever a fluid back pressure develops in saidspace such as when a carrier is disposed thereabove, and means extending downwardly from said carrier in slide-guiding relationship with raised wall portions of said track bed for guiding said'carrier when traveling therealong.

2. Cargo transport means comprising a track bed of elongated form and delineated by parallel marginal curb means at opposite sides thereof, fluid outlet ports extending through said bed at intervals longitudinally thereof, a load carrier adapted to receive a load to betransported, said carrier having a substantially fluid tight bottom Wall, conduit means in communication with each of said outlet ports for supplying the latter with pressured fluid, a plurality of valve devices one of each controlling flow of fluid through one of each of said ports, means biasing each of said valve devices toward closed positions, fluid pressure responsive means operably connected to each of said valves and adapted to actuate the valve to open positions against the action of said biasing means, back pressure conduit means in pressure communicating relation with the space between said bed and said carrier and coupled to said pressure responsive means for actuating the latter to cause the associated valve device to open whenever a fluid back pressure develops in said space such as when a carrier reaches a position just ahead of the associated port, guide roller means extending from said load carrier at opposite sides thereof in running relation against said curb means, and power means coupled to one of said guide rollers for propelling said carrier.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 319,335 6/1885 Smith 104--155 465,151 12/1891 Barre 104134 936,395 10/ 1909 Worthington 104-155 1,070,248 8/ 1913 Haldeman 2385 (Other references on following page) 5 6 UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,081,886 3/1963 Flexman et a1. 214-1 3 086 479 4/ 1963 Kucher 104-134 4/1922 Trask 104134 7 3,096,728 7/1963 1 1 12/1937 Heinze 104 247 Amamf at a 34 9/1938 Steenstrup 5 ARTHUR L. LA POINT, Primary Exammer. 1954 Northrop et 1 LEO QUACKENBUSH, Examiner. 9/1955 Birnbaum 104155 X F. W. MONAGHAN, S. B. GREEN, 2 1951 Weber 1()5 29 Assistant Examiners.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3340822 *Jun 1, 1965Sep 12, 1967L Aerotrain Plaisir Soc EtTrack switching device for air cushion vehicles
US3417878 *Apr 12, 1967Dec 24, 1968Spencer Melksham LtdValve for pneumatic floating means
US3788231 *May 8, 1972Jan 29, 1974Uniflo Systems CoValve for levitated vehicle track
US3841719 *Jun 21, 1972Oct 15, 1974G SmithSelf-contained variable fluid bearing for skidding heavy loads
US3848539 *Jul 23, 1973Nov 19, 1974Nuprin CorpConveyor assembly
US3923342 *Jun 10, 1974Dec 2, 1975Motorola IncApparatus and method for handling frangible objects
US4371309 *Feb 25, 1981Feb 1, 1983Principe William LAir table
US4714155 *Dec 3, 1985Dec 22, 1987Hitachi Kiden Kogyo Kabushiki KaishaRunway for a conveyor means using linear motors
US4718539 *Jan 9, 1987Jan 12, 1988Hitachi, Ltd.Conveyor means
US5129765 *Sep 9, 1991Jul 14, 1992Simplimatic Engineering CompanyAir conveyor deck having protuberances
US20050098016 *Jul 11, 2002May 12, 2005Piergiorgio BenuzziAir cushion table and conveyor unit
WO2003008309A1 *Jul 11, 2002Jan 30, 2003Giben International S.P.A.Air cushion table and conveyor unit
U.S. Classification104/134, 104/23.2, 406/19, 180/125, 104/155, 104/247
International ClassificationB60V3/00, B60V3/04, B65G51/00, B65G51/03
Cooperative ClassificationB60V3/04, B65G51/03
European ClassificationB65G51/03, B60V3/04