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Publication numberUS3340821 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 12, 1967
Filing dateMar 29, 1965
Priority dateMar 28, 1964
Also published asDE1290487B, DE1290487C2, DE1294876B, DE1294876C2, DE1431801A1, DE1431801B2, DE1534130A1, DE1534130B2, DE1534130C3, DE1563975A1, DE1563975B2, DE1907787U, DE1908240U, DE1916783U, DE1919979U, DE1920044U
Publication numberUS 3340821 A, US 3340821A, US-A-3340821, US3340821 A, US3340821A
InventorsErich Wesener
Original AssigneeErich Wesener
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Transportation system
US 3340821 A
Abstract  available in
Images(8)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Sept. 12, 19 67 I E.. WESENER TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM med March 29, 1965 s Sheets-Sheet 1 l I B -10 L0 voq so 0 I, I

| 1 1 I I 1 '1 I I I c 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 0 I U I l-ll/I [""l |1" l l 70 Erich Wesener INVENTOR.

A Attorney Sept." 12, 1967 E wzsEriqER 3,340,321-

' I TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM 7 I Erich Wesener IN VENTOR.

.BY g p Attorney 8 Sheets-Sheet 5 I. v N a 1! x II" v I F I N llrm E mluflu .g a m V F 8 A Erich Wesener INVENTOR.

BY I a Y 1 Attomey Sept. 12, 1967 Filed March 29, 1965 v llws E. WESENER Sept, 12, 19 67 TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM 8 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed March 29,' 1965 Fig.8

Erich Wesener [NVENTOR Attorney Sept. 12, 1967 Filed March 29, 1965 8 Sheets-Sheet 5 Fig.9a

Erich Wesener INVENTOR.

Attorney Sept-12,1967 E. WESENER 3,340,321

' TRANSPORTATION VSYS'IEM Filed March 29, 1965 a Sheets-Sheet Erich Wesener INVENTOR.

A Home? Sept. 12, 1967 E. WESENER 3,340,821

TRANS PORTAT-I ON SYSTEM Filed March 29, 1965 s Sheets-Sheet 7 i W f L V I j W72 70 7 7 L a a o L I I f Er /ch Wes ener INVENTOR .5 S BY w A] Hom United States Patent ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Inter-office transportation system with horizontal and vertical track sections along which carriages are movable between several stations, each station having a siding disposed along the track, the latter including at each station a movable section which is shiftable out of alignment with the remainder of the hook and its alignment with the siding for directing a carriage onto such siding if a magnetic test circuit determines correspondence between the setting of a selector on the carriage and a' code assigned to that particular station.

My present invention relates to a transportation system designed for the conveying of preferably small articles, such as letters, files, tools, medicines, books, phonograph records or the like, over limited distances, e.g. within the confines of an ofiice building or an industrial plant.

An object of this invention is to provide a transportation system of this character which is economical in operation by reason of the fact that electrical energy is consumed only when one or more transporters, hereinafter referred to as carriages, are in motion on any of its tracks.

Another object of this invention is to provide a system of this type whose carriages are adapted to move over horizontal, inclined or vertical tracks in a variety of directions.

A further object of this invention is to provide, along a track of a transportation system of the type referred to, one or more junctions for the selective switching of passing carriages onto a siding or a branch line.

Still another object, allied with the preceding one, is to provide means at such junction for automatically switching a passing carriage from a through going track to a branch point or siding in response to the setting of a station selector on the carriage itself whereby each carriage will pass all the junctions except the one designated by its selector.

Yet a further object, allied with the one immediately preceding, is to provide circuit means at a junction leading to a siding for deactivating a switching mechanism responsive to the station selector whenever the siding is occupied by the maximum number of carriages it can accommodate.

It is also an object of my invention to provide, in a system of this type, track-forming means designed to hold each carriage securely on its path, even for vertical motion, yet to facilitate the manual withdrawal of insertion of individual carriages at selected locations.

According to a feature of my present invention, I provide a track formed by a pair of parallel rails which advantageously also serve for the supply of electric current to a carriage-borne motor and which have a profile overhanging the wheels of the carriage so as to prevent the detachment of the carriage from its track along vertically ascending or descending sections thereof, e.g. sections extending along an upright wall of a room or a building. In addition, especially in the region of a steeply inclined track section, the track may also include a rack (formed, for example, from a length of bicycle chain) engageable by a motor-driven cogwheel (such as a bi- Patented Sept. 12, 1967 cycle-type sprocket) on the carriage whereby the latter will be positively advanced at least until it reaches a less steeply inclined or horizontal track section. On such horizontal or nearly horizontal runs, a motor-driven friction roller in contact with a longitudinal ledge portion of the track may advance the carriage in lieu of the cogwheel, the diameter of the roller being advantageously larger than that of the cogwheel so that the carriage will travel at a higher speed under these conditions. More particularly, each rail may have a generally C-shaped profile embracing with clearance a pair of longitudinally spaced idler wheels on a respective side of the carriage; the center of gravity of the carriage should be above the level of its wheel axes so that the carriage, when in a vertical position, will tilt slightly within the limits of the C-profile whereby the upper wheels (i.e. the front wheels of an ascending carriage) will come to rest against the overhanking flange portion of the profile. The friction roller, if positioned forwardly of the rear wheels, will thereby be lifted off its ledge so that only the cogwheel remains effective to drive the carriage; the roller may also be separated from the ledge by a suitable dimensioning of the cogwheel with reference to the position of the rack engaged thereby.

On the other hand, the friction roller (if the cogwheel is of the same diameter as the roller, or has been omitted entirely) may be coaxial with, or take the place of, one of the rear wheels so as to be urged into firmer contact with the rail surface during upward travel.

The track may be composed of a series of rail segments interfitted by connecting pins and holes, in the nature of the tracks of conventional miniature railroads.

Each segment may be on the order of 1 meter in length (equaling about two carriage lengths) and, if also used to conduct current to the drive motor, may be energized over an individual series resistor and galvanically separated from adjoining sections in order to minimize the mutual interference occurring between the drive motors of closely spaced carriages. In lieu of a common power source, each track section could also have its own current supply such as, for example, a 24-volt battery connected to be continuously recharged from the available utility mains with the aid of conventional regulated chargers as generally used in automotive power systems; such an arrangement affords an extra current capacity as needed to handle peak loads, e.g. upon a concurrent starting of several carriages.

The drive motor abroad such self-propelled carriage advantageously is of the direct-current type, with a constantfiux stator field preferably produced by a permanent magnet, whereby the direction of motion will depend on the polarity of the energizing voltage applied to the two bus bars along the track. If the armature of the motor is bridged by a low-resistance circuit, this motor will act as a generator and exert a braking action upon the carriage so that the latter may be effectively arrested on a selected track section by a short-circuiting of the two bus bars thereof. Fractional-horsepower motors, such as those used in automotive windshield wipers, are satisfactory for most purposes. Naturally, more than one motor could be used on a single carriage (e.g. in tandem or on opposite ends of a common power shaft) in order to provide additional power for driving. For downward travel, the vehicle can be effectively slowed by connecting a preferably adjustable resistor across the bus bars of a vertical or inclined track section.

connection between the motor and its drive shaft may include a self-locking worm-gear transmission which insures, at least in the presence of a positively acting sprocket drive, that the carriage will not slide down an inclined or vertical track section in the event of power failure. In such cases, however, it will be desirable to include a releasable coupling in series with the transmission so that the carriage may be displaced manually upon being stopped accidentally between stations.

The upper part of the carriage, which is designed as a receptacle for the goods to be transported and which may also be provided with a detachable cover, need not be rigidly supported by the carriage base containing the drive motor but may be suspended thereon, at a location well above its center of gravity, by a universal joint enabling omnidirectional swinging, or by a pivotal mounting affording tilting about a transverse horizontal axis, so that liquids or particulate substances may be transported without spillage over track portions with different angles of elevation.

The switching of a carriage at a selected station or junction is effected, in accordance with a further feature of my invention, with the aid of a movable track section which is normally aligned with adjoining track portions so as to form a throughgoing track. When a test unit disposed just ahead of a junction responds to the setting of a correspondingly adjusted selector abroad a passing carriage, the switching mechanism temporarily de-energizes the movable track section and bridges its conductors so that the carriage is arrested thereon while the track section is displaced into an alternate position in which it is aligned with a stationary track section which may be a siding or a terminal of a branch line; if this branch line extends alongside the main track and is energized with relatively inverted polarity, the junction will operate as a reversing point allowing the carriage to return in the direction from which it came (eg after having been loaded or unloaded along the route). It is, however, also possible to align a terminal track section with an incoming track portion, whereby carriages whose selectors do not trigger the test unit will continue onto the siding, and to make a track by a displacement of the movable track section. Such an arrangement is particularly suitable for a simple shuttle-train system with a track forming a forward run and a return run between two terminals.

Advantageously, the movable track section is shiftable parallel to itself, preferably in a horizontal plane, so as not to develop any linear component of acceleration tending to dislodge the stationary carriage thereon. When the alternate position has been reached, the circuit reconnects power to this track section so that the carriage moves onto the adjoining receiving section. If the latter is a siding of limited length, contacts may be provided for deactivating the test unit as soon as the maximum number of carriages have been stationed thereon whereby further carriages will bypass this station even when their selectors are set in accordance with the code of that station; this will prevent the accumulation of messages or goods at a temporarily overloaded location. Furthermore, in a system in which carriages may follow one another with relatively small headway, a fixed section of track immediately preceding the movable section may be temporarily short-circuited when the movable section is out of its normal position whereby succeeding carriages are arrested upon approaching the gap in the throughgoing track. On the other hand, a terminal track section at a siding or a final station may be maintained de-energized and open-circuited so that a first carriage rolling by inertia onto that section, will short-circuit it for the next carriage so as to prevent collision or to soften its impact.

The selector on a carriage of a system according to this invention, in conformity with another feature thereof, is advantageously constituted by a plurality of permanently magnetized elements including one fixed magnet and one or more adjustable magnets whose position with reference to that of the fixed magnet spells out the code of its destination. With three adjustable magnets of ten positions each, for example, up -to 1000 different destinations may be selected. The magnetic elements may be simple bar magnets, held in position by resilient clips (e.g. bronze springs) or by short steel plates acting as armatures therefor; they could, however, also be constituted by selectively magnetized portions of, say, a magnetic tape pasted onto a side of the carriage body. In a large building (e.g. a hospital) having a multiplicity of receiving stations distributed over a number of floors, it is possible to use one adjustable magnet as a preselector for the floor on which the carriage is to be branched off a generally vertical track, the junction at the floor level being then equipped with a test unit responding only to the position of this one magnet. A second magnet, together with the first, may then identify a corridor on that floor, with the combination of all three magnets denoting the ultimate location along the selected corridor. The test units will, in any event, include as many magnetically displaceable contacts as there are selector magnets to which they are designed to respond, the relative position of these contacts corresponding to the particular code of the unit so that an operating circuit is completed only when all the contacts are simultaneously attracted by the magnets of a passing carriage.

The above and other features of my invention will become more readily apparent from the following detailed description, reference being made to the accompanying drawing in which:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of a carriage forming part of a transportation system according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a side-elevational view of the carriage shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 1, showing a modified carriage;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of part of a track, including a switching station, for a carriage as shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side-elevational view of a portion of modified track with a plurality of carriages thereon;

FIG. 5a is a cross-sectional view of the track shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a portion of track of the general type illustrated in FIG. 4, including a switching station;

FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 6, showing certain modifications;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view generally similar to FIG. 4, showing part of the track of FIG. 7 including the switching station;

FIG. 9 is 'a side-elevational of the track shown in FIGS. 6-8;

FIG. 9a is a cross-sectional view of the track shown in FIG. 9;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a track segment incorporated in the system of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a bottom view of still another carriage adapted to be used in a system according to my invention;

FIG. 12 is an end view (parts broken away) of the carriage illustrated in FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a side-elevational view of the carriage shown in FIGS. 11 and 12; and

FIG. 14 is a circuit diagram of the switching mech anism at a track junction similar to those illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 8.

In FIGS. 1 and 2 I have shown a carriage comprising a container 1 for goods to be transported, this container being supported on a base 2 and being preferably removable therefrom. Base 2 contains a driving unit, here shown to comprise a cogwheel 3 driven by an electric motor 4 and meshing with a rack 5 forming part of a track for the carriage. Front and rear wheels 6 are freely rotatable on respective shafts, including the shaft of motor 4 in the case of one of the rear wheels, and are provided with guide flanges 6a serving to center them on the lower flanges of a pair of rails 8 of generally C-shaped profile, these rails being in turn supported by a U-shaped bed 7 of insulating (e.g. extruded) material such as hard polyvinylchloride. The rails 8, made for example of brass or aluminum, may also act as bus bars for supplying electric current to the motor 4 via two of the wheels 6, this motor being advantageously of the aforedescribed permanent magnet type. Motor 4 may be resiliently supported with base 2 by elastic mounting bolts not shown. Rack 5 is imbedded on three sides in a strip 9 of plastic material, e.g. soft polyvinylchloride, designed to supress noise; this rack may be constituted by a length of-chain of the type conventionally used in bicycles. The left-hand rollers 6 (as viewed in FIG. 1) may be invariably displaceable, against the force of a spring 100, to facilitate removal of the carriage from the system anywhere along the track 7, 8.

As illustrated in FIG. 2 carriage portion 1 is equipped with a destination selector constituted by three independently adjustable bar magnets 10 and a fixed reference magnet 11, all of the permanent type. The positioning of the adjustable magnets 10 constitutes a 3-digit code number, as read on corresponding scales A, B and C. Different receptacles 1, adapted to be remova-bly mounted on any carriage case 2, may thus have their selector magnets 10 preset for different destinations; these receptacles may be designed, for example, to accommodate special tools, spare parts etc. destined for the particular stations selected thereon.

In FIG. 3 I have shown a somewhat modified carriage, again comprising an upper portion 1a adapted to carry the goods and a lower portion 2a containing at least one drive motor 4a. The shaft of this motor has keyed to it the aforedescribed cogwheel 3, meshing with a chain 5, and a friction roller 12 riding on a preferably rough-surfaced ledge 32 atop one of the flanges of the U-shaped dielectric bed 7a. The opposite ledge 32' supports an idler roller 12a, of smaller diameter, freely rotatable on its shaft. Two pairs of wheels 13 (only one pair shown) are rotatably mounted on a bracket 2' depending from carriage base 2a and bear from below upon the upper flanges of two generally C-shaped rails 14 which are supported by the bed 7a and again serve as energizing conductors for the motor. Chain 5'is mounted on the upper surface of one of the rails 14.

The rollers 13 may be outwardly biased, by suitable means such as the spring 100 of FIG. 1 in order to make conductive contact with the web portions of bus bars 14 at locations where the upper flanges and parts of the webs of these bus bars are broken away (as illustrated in subsequent figures) to provide clearance for the removal of the carriage from the track or for the insertion of another carriage.

In FIG. 4 I have shown a switching station with a plurality of track sections each generally similar to the track section 7a, 14 illustrated in FIG. 3 except that sheetmetal strips 18 rise from the insulating bed to form both a channel for the wheels 13 and a ledge for the roller 12 of FIG. 3. Thus, the track sections seen in FIG. 4 are intended for horizontal travel, the sprocket chain 5 having been omitted, whereas the track section of FIG. 3 is primarily designed for vertical movement. Two fixed sections 7a, 70 in FIG. 4 part of a throughgoing track normally completed by a laterally shiftable track section 7b supported on transverse rails -15. A further track section 19, disposed alongside section 7c, forms a siding for carriages to be switched out of track 7a, 70 by a shifting of section 7b into alignment with section 19.

A test unit, diagrammatically illustrated at 16, is disposed alongside track section 7a just ahead of shiftable track section 7b and is equipped with a series of contacts 17 and 17', respectively operable by the magnets 10 and 11 (FIG. 2) of a passage carriage; it is assumed in this 6 case that the magnets are disposed on the lefthand side of the carriage as seen in the direction of travel. The contacts 17 and 17' advantageously comprise sensitive ferromagnetic reeds in sealed glass envelopes containing a protective gas, as is well known per se. Test unit 16 monitors the passing carriages and, upon detecting an array of selector magnets corresponding to its own code as determined by the setting of contacts 17 and 17, operates a switching circuit (described hereinafter with reference to FIG. 14) which short-circuits the bus bars 18' of section 7b to arrest the carriage on that section, displaces the latter into its alternate position aligned with section 19, then re-energizes the bus bars 18' of section 71) to operate the motor of the carriage whereby the latter is driven onto the section 19, and returns section 7b to its normal position in the throughgoing track preparatorily to the passage of further carriages. While section 7b is in its off-normal position, the switching circuit may also bridge the conductors 18 of section 7a to prevent any oncoming carriages from advancing beyond monitory device 16.

If the conductors 18, 18' are energized from a lowvoltage source (e.g. of 24 v), special insulation will not be needed to protect the operators but may be provided, if desired, to prevent accidental short circuits.

The track shown in FIG. 5 is of the monorail type and, as seen in FIG. 5a, consists of sections of substantially triangular profile whose crest is engagea'ble by a drive roller 101 of a carriage 20 and whose underside is in contact with rollers 102 which are journaled on lateral flanges 20' straddling the track. Roller 102 also may serve as current collectors by contacting respective bus bars on the lower track surface. The roller 101 may again be replaced or supplemented by a cogwheel, in which case the crest of the track may be suitably indented to form a rack. Straight track sections 21 are interconnected by curved sections 23 and are provided with cleats 22 by which they may be attached to the floor or the wall of a building so as to define a partly horizontal and partly vertical transport path.

In FIG. 6 I have shown a horizontal length of track including a straight and fixed track section 35 generally similar to the section 7a of FIG. 3, a laterally shiftable track section 25, another fixed track section 31 and a siding 30 alongside section 31; in the illustrated normal position of section 25, the latter bridges sections 25 and 31 to form a throughgoing track as described for movable section 7b and fixed sections 7a, 70 of FIG. 4. Curved sections 33 and a further straight section 35' extend the track beyond section 31. FIG. 6 also illustrates part of the mechanism for laterally shifting the track section 25, this mechanism including a crank 27 which is intermittently driven by a motor 26 (as more fully described hereinafter with reference to FIG. 14) and bears at its free end a swiveling block 28 slidable guided in a groove 29 on the base of section 25.

In FIG. 6 the test unit 16 is shown fixedly positioned alongside track section 35 just ahead of section 25. In FIG. 7, on the other hand, a similar test unit 16a has been mounted on the base of movable track section 25 so as to be displaceable therewith. Also shown in FIG. 7 is a contact 36 of a normally open switch adapted to be closed by the underside of a carriage 38 rolling from section 25 onto siding 30; this switch serves to start the return swing of crank 27 and, if held closed by a carriage on siding 30, deactivates the test unit 1 6a so that section 25 will remain in its normal position regardless of the destination codes of further carriages moving past. At 41 there is shown an abutment designed to prevent shunted-out carriages from rolling off the end of siding 30.

The conductive rails 14 of track sections 30 and 31 are shown partly cut away at 132 so as to disengage the wheels 37 of a carriage 38 which can thus be manually lifted from the siding 30 and subsequently, e.g. after reloading and/ or a readjustment of its destination selector, can be redeposited 0n track section 31 for continuation of its journey. Such partial cutaway, limited to the overhanging reel portions, is also illustrated in FIG. 4 for the track sections 70 and 19'. Similar indentations, permitting disengagement of the rollers 102, may of course also be provided at selected locations of the monorail track of FIG. 5.

The cutouts 132 of FIGS. 6 and 7 are shown symmetrically disposed so as to permit the insertion of a carriage 38 with either a forward or a reverse orientation. Where this is undesirable, the relative position of the wheels 37 or other projections on opposite sides of the carriage may be made difierent and the cutouts may be correspondingly altered so as to enable insertion with a single orientation only. For the same purpose it is possible, e.g. in the case of a monorail track as shown in FIGS. and 5a, to position a pair of bus bars at different distances from a guide rail so that contact with currentcollecting rollers of wheels will be made only if the carriage is placed on the rail with a given orientation.

In FIG. 8 the several track sections illustrated in FIG. 7 are shown supported by posts 39 on the floor of a building alongside a wall thereof. A box 39 forms a slidable support for movable track section 25 and accommodates the driving mechanism 26, 27 therefor. A monitoring lamp 40 visually indicates the operative condition of the system.

The horizontal track sections 31, seen in cross-section in FIG. 9a, are shown in FIG. 9 joined to curved sections 43 which lead to vertical track sections 45 that are substantially identical with sections 31 except for the addition of a rack as described in conjunction with FIGS. 1 and 3. With the aid of this rack, the carriages 38 propel themselves upwardly as indicated by the arrow 44. The construction of such a vertical track section 45 is best illustrated in FIG. which shows an insulating bed 46 supporting conductive rails 47, of C-shaped profile, with webs 51, lower and upper flanges 48 and 50, and depending strips 49 integral with each rail joined to the bed 46 by adhesive bonding and/ or other fastening means. A chain 54, forming the aforementioned rack, is clamped in a plastic strip 53 of generally U -shaped cross-section secured to the bed 46.

One of the sections 45 could also be twisted helically about its longitudinal axis, e.g. over an angle of 90, to permit the vertical portion of the track of FIG. 9 to be extended into a further horizontal run oriented perpendicularly or at some other angle with reference to the lower horizontal run constituted by sections 31. Naturally, it is also possible to use several sections 45 of lesser twist adding up to the desired overall twist angle of, say, 90.

FIG. 10 also shows holes 52 formed at one end of bed 46 to receive complementary pins, not shown, on a proximal face of an adjacent track section whereby these sections may be detachably interconnected, with or without conductive contact between their respective rails 47. This mode of connection, of course, can also be used with the various types of other track sections described above.

If it is necessary to provide clearances for the reinsertion of carriages along vertical or steeply ascending track sections, the excised flange portions of the rails are preferably left in place to guard against spontaneous disengagement of the carriages but are manually swingable, e.g. by suitable toggle levels, acting against the forces of restoring springs into a retracted position in which they no longer overhang the carriage wheels.

In FIGS. 11-13 I have shown a modified carriage 61 having a base portion 67, a detachable receptacle portion 62 and a removable lid 68. A DC motor 64 in base 67 again drives, by its output shaft, a cogwheel 65 and a roller 66, the latter being advantageously coated with a suitably high-friction material for engagement with a surface 58 of a generally U-shaped track body 55 of, for example, extruded plastic material. Track body 55 is formed near the edges of its base portion with two longitudinal grooves receiving a pair of metal rails 56 which are shown hollowed out at 57 to accommodate projecting terminal pins for the purpose of conductivity and/or mechanically interconnecting the rails of adjacent track sections. In view of the diiferent thermal coefficients of expansion of the plastic material of track body 55 and the metal of rails 57, this track body may be formed at longitudinally spaced locations with lateral incisions (not shown) enabling dimensional changes of the rail support without undue deformation of the rails themselves. Idler rollers, 63, again serving as carriage wheels and as current collectors for motor 64, ride on the rails 57. Track body 55 is further formed with a longitudinal ridge 59 straddled with a dovetail fit by a plastic strip 60, e.g. of soft polyvinylchloride, which embraces a chain 60 cooperating with cogwheel 65.

Naturally, the rails 56 shown in FIG. 12 could also be longitudinally inserted into the upper part of the flanges of track body 55, i.e. above the rollers 63, whereupon the assembly may be so dimensioned that the rollers 66 and/ or the cogwheel 65 lift these rollers by a few millimeters above the base of track portion 55 to contact the overlying conductors, in the manner illustrated for the rollers 13 in FIG. 3.

As shown in FIGS. 11 and 13, the destination selector provided on the removable upper carriage portion 62 includes a set of three adjustable bar magnets 71 selectively positioned along respective bars 70 in order to define a three-digit code as described in conjunction with magnets 10 of FIG. 2. A stationary magnet 72 (seen in FIG. 11) corresponding to magnet 11 of FIG. 2, is attachable to the carriage by clips 69. Similar clips 72' are provided at fixed locations just above the bars 70 to receive additional magnets, not shown, whereby a homing code for the carriage is spelled out which insures that the carriage will always have return to a designated originating station after having been returned to the track upon reaching its selected destination or after having bypassed this destination on account of an overload condition at the latter.

Reference will now be made to FIG. 14 for a description of a circuit arrangement designed to perform the various operations previously described in conjunction with a switching station of the type illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 6-8.

In FIG. 14 a section of incoming track is constituted by a set of rails 141, 142, 143, rail 142 being permanently grounded at 76 whereas rail 141 is permanently connected to a source of negative potential. This negative potential is also applied, via a fuse 164, to a live bus bar composed of conductors 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172 and 83. Rail 143 is normally connected to this bus bar by a reversing contact 81 of a solenoid 160 whose winding lies in series with a make contact 78 of a holding relay 159 between ground 76 and conductor 167.

The movable track section of the switching station comprises a pair of rails 144, 145 interconnected by a plate which is transversely displaceable over auxiliary rails 150 under the control of a motor 153; the motor drives a crank 154 whose ,free end carries a roller 155 slidably received in a groove 150 (shown partly in phantom lines) on the underside of plate 150, in the manner described with reference to crank 27, slider 28 and groove 29 of FIG. 7. Another fixed track section is composed of a permanently grounded rail 149 and a rail 148 permanently connected to section 171 of the negative bus bar. A further fixed track section, similar to siding 30 of FIGS. 68, consists of a grounded conductor 147 and another conductor 146 connected via leads 94 and 92 to a make contact of a switch arm 156, the latter in turn being connected to the same negative voltage via leads 89 and 90 in series with a break contact 88 of motor relay 161. The winding of relay 161 is shown connected in a circuit extending from the break contact of arm 156 via leads 85 and 86 over a make contact 82 of solenoid 160 to ground on rail 142.

Contact arm 156 is positioned in the orbital path of crank roller 155 for displacement thereby as soon as the crank 154 has swung from its illustrated starting position, in which rails 144 and 145 are aligned with rails 143, 148 and 142, 149 through an angle of approximately 180 into an alternate position in which rails 144 and 145 register with rails 146 and 147, respectively. A second contact arm 157, displaceable by the crank roller 155 as the latter approaches its normal position, has a back contact connected via a conductor 75 to the winding of holding relay 159 which, in the normal position of arm 157, is energizable in a circuit extending over a conductor 74 and a plurality of test contacts 152 of a monitoring unit 151 (similar to unit 16 or 16a of FIGS. 6-8) in series as well as a lead 73 and a back contact of a switch arm 158 to negative voltage on bus conductor 172. Switch arm 158 corresponds to the arm 36 illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8. Contacts 152 are simultaneously closed when a corresponding array of magnets 10', 11 (FIG. 2) or 71, 72 (FIGS. 11 and 13) are positioned alongside unit 151; only three such contacts have been shown for the sake of simplicity although four would generally be needed when the selector of a passing carriage includes one fixed and three adjustable magnets.

FIG. 14 also shows, diagrammatically, the aforedescribed cutouts 132 provided on rails 146 and 147 to facilitate removal of a carriage stationed on the siding. In addition, the circuit includes a monitoring lamp 163, similar to lamp 40 of FIG. 8; an adjustable resistor 165, inserted between the front contact of armature 88 of motor relay 161 and ground at 76; and an optional reversing relay 162 having armatures 96, 98 and 97, the latter normally connecting negative voltage from conductor 170 to rail 144 by way of another armature 87 of unoperated motor relay 161.

The operation of the system illustrated in FIG. 14 will now be described.

In the quiescent state, i.e. as long as test unit 151 does not respond to the passage of a carriage along rail sections 143, 143 by simultaneous closure of all its contacts 152, the armature of motor 153 is short-circuited by negative potential on input leads 84 and 89 so that this motor, assumed to be of the aforedescribed constant-flux type, fixedly maintains its crank 154 in the illustrated position in which rails 144, 145 complete a throughgoing track. If, now, unit 151 responds to an appropriately preset selector on a passing carriage, the concurrent closure of all contacts 152 energizes holding relay 159 which locks independently of these contacts over its armature 77 and attracts its armature 78 to energize the solenoid 160. The solenoid thereupon reverses its armature 81 and removes negative operating potential from rail 143 which the carriage has just left; this rail is now connected to ground at 76 so that rails 142, 143 are eifectively bridged to shortcircuit the armatures of the drive motors of succeeding carriages that may alight on this track section. It will be understood that the length of rail 143 should be chosen suflicient to accommodate the maximum number of carriages expected during an operating cycle of switching motor 153.

Solenoid 160 also attracts its armature 82 to energize motor relay 161 with the following result: armature 88 of relay 161 removes negative voltage from input lead 89 of motor 153 and connects this lead instead to ground at 76 via resistor 165 which has been suitably adjusted to control the operating speed of the motor. Crank 154 starts to cam the plate 150' with its shiftable rails 144, 145 out of their normal position and into their alternate position in line with rails 146 and 147; armature 87 disconnects rail 144 from negative voltage on conductor 170 and connects it instead to ground 76 so that both rails 144, 145 are now at the same potential and the carriage positioned thereon is sharply braked by a short-circuiting of its motor armature.

Upon completing a swing through 180 or through a slightly different angle (as determined by the preferably adjustable mounting of contact arm 156 with reference to crank 154) in which rails 144 and 145 align with rails 146 and 147, arm 156 is tripped to break the operating circuit of relay 161 whose armature 88 once more shortcircuits the input terminals of motor 153 whereby the latter is rapidly brought to a stop. Ann 156 now applies negative potential from conductor 83 via leads 92 and 94 to rail 146. Shortly thereafter, the return of armature 87 of motor relay 161 to normal restores negative voltage from conductor 170 to rail 144 so that both track sections 144, 145 and 146, 147 are now energized and the shunted carriage rolls from section 144, 145 onto siding 146, 147. In doing so, it depresses the switch arm 158 which connects negative voltage from conductor 172 via a lead 93 and lead 86 in series with closed solenoid armature 82 to the winding of motor relay 161 so as to reoperate the latter. Crank 154 begins to move again and promptly releases the switch arm 156 so that this arm via its break contact maintains relay 161 opera-ted independently of contact 158 which returns to normal as soon as the carriage continues toward the far end of siding 147, 148. The momentary deactivation of the test circuit through the contacts 152 of unit 151 by the reversal of contact 158 is without practical significance at this time since track section 142, 143 is still short-circuited so that no carriages will roll past the test unit 151.

As soon as crank arm 154 passes the location of switc arm 157, it displaces the latter to open the holding circuit of relay 159 which releases and at armature 78 de-energizes the solenoid 160. Solenoid armature 81 thereupon reconnects negative voltage to rail 143 whereby normal through traflic will resume, the circuit of motor relay 161 being again broken by solenoid armature 82. It will be apparent that the mounting of switch arm 157, too, should be suitably chosen to arrest the rail section 144, 145 in a position of exact alignment with sections 142, 143 and 148, 149.

If a second carriage with the proper code designation triggers the unit 151 so as to be subsequently shifted onto siding 146, 147, it will find the rails 146, 147 bridged by the motor armature of the first carriage so that, as soon as negative potential has been removed from rail 146 by the restoration of switch arm 156, its own motor will a as a generator and will exert a braking effect upon the second carriage while the first carriage will have its motor energized by the current so generated, with the result that the first carriage begins to roll slightly beyond the position last reached whereas the second carriage will slow down so that a collision is avoided or at least reduced to a slight impact.

When the maximum number of carriages have reached the siding 146, 147, the last of them holds the switch contact 158 permanently depressed so that test unit 151 remains deactivated and further carriages will bypass the station without any operation of shifting motor 153.

The reversing relay 162 may be connected in circuit when it is desired to discharge a shunted-out carriage from rail section 144, 145 in the opposite direction, i.e. to the left in FIG. 14, over a branch track 146', 147' facing the siding 146, 147. For this purpose there may be provided a switch arm 99 adapted to be tripped mechanically or magnetically by a special projection or a special selector magnet on a carriage which is to be routed over this additional track 146', 147'. When the relay 162 is so connected in circuit, reversal of switch arm 156 energizes this relay so that its armature 96 connect rail 145 to lead 192, in parallel with rail 146, while its armature 97 grounds the other movable rail 144. The polarity of energization of rail 144 and 145, occurring upon the tripping of arm 156 by crank 154, is thus reversed and corresponds to that permanently applied to the rails 146, 147' leading to the home terminal of the carriage or to some other destination.

Relay 162, upon operating, locks to conductor 92, independently of contact 99, over an armature 98. A switch arm 158', disposed along track section 146', 147', for operation by a carriage passing thereover, reoperates the relay 161 in the manner heretofore described with reference to switch arm 158 to start the return stroke of crank 154. This crank, if desired, may also be provided with a conventional detent (e.g. a spring-loaded ball) designed to index it in either of its two alternate positions.

Lamp 163 lights in an obvious circuit, including a lead 91, whenever power is applied to the system.

I claim:

1. In a transportation system, in combination:

a rail-forming track comprising a pair of longitudinally extending parallel conductors;

at least one carriage displaceable along said track, said carriage including a motor and contact means engageable with said conductors for energizing said motor;

branching means on said track including a movable track section having a normal position and an on?- normal position, said track further including a first fixed section leading to said movable section, a second fixed section continuing beyond said movable section and aligned therewith in said normal position thereof, and a third fixed section aligned with said movable section in said off-normal position thereof;

mechanism for displacing said movable section between said normal and said off-normal position;

control means for selectively actuating said mechanism during presence of said carriage on said movable section;

and switch means responsive to said control means for tie-energizing said movable section in its normal position immediately prior to operation of said mechanism and for re-energizing said movable section upon arrival thereof in its off-normal position whereby said carriage is actuated to move onto said third fixed section.

2. The combination defined in claim 1 wherein said control means comprises selector means on said carriage and test means adjacent the entrance end of said movable section positioned to respond to a predetermined setting of said selector means upon passing of said carriage onto said movable section.

3. The combination defined in claim 2 wherein said selector means comprises a plurality of magnetic elements on a side of said carriage, said test means including a plurality of contacts respectively actuatable by said magnetic means.

4. The combination defined in claim 1 wherein said mechanism comprises a rotatable crank, said movable section being coupled with said crank for transverse displacement parallel to itself.

5. In a transportation system, in combination:

a track divided into a plurality of rail sections each comprising a pair of longitudinally extending parallel conductors;

a plurality of carriages displaceable along said track,

each carriage including a motor with a direct-current armature and a constant-fiux stator and contact means engageable with said conductors for energizing said motor;

a plurality of junctions along said track each including a movable rail section having a normal position and an off-normal position, a first fixed rail section leading to said movable section, a second fixed rail section continuing beyond said movable section and aligned therewith in said normal position thereof, and a third fixed rail section aligned with said movable rail section in said off-normal position thereof;

mechanism at each junction for displacing said movable rail section between said normal and said offnormal position;

selector means on each carriage distinctively positioned for identifying one of said junctions;

test means at each junction positioned for monitoring 12 the selector means of passing carriages and for producing a signal upon passing of a carriage identifying the respective junction on the selector means thereof;

control means for selectively actuating said mechanism in response to said signal upon arrival of the lastmentioned carriage on said movable rail section; and switch means responsive to said control means for deenergizing said movable rail section in its normal position immediately prior to operation of said mechanism and for re-energizing said movable rail section upon arrival thereof in its olf-normal position whereby the carriage thereon is actuated to move onto said third fixed rail section.

6. The combination defined in claim 5, further comprising circuit means operable by said switch means for bridging the conductors of said first fixed rail section upon displacement of said movable rail section from its normal position, thereby short-circuiting the armature of a subsequent carriage arriving on said first fixed rail section for arresting said subsequent carriage on said first fixed rail section.

7. The combination defined in claim 5 wherein said switch means includes contacts for short-circuiting said movable rail section during displacement thereof by said mechanism, thereby immobilizing said first-mentioned carriage on said movable rail section.

8. The combination defined in claim 5 wherein said switch means includes carriage-controlled contacts selectively operable for reversing the polarity of energization of said movable rail section in its off-normal position whereby the carriage thereon can be driven off in either direction, at least one of said junctions further including a fourth fixed rail section aligned with said movable rail section in said off-normal position thereof at a location opposite said third fixed rail sections.

9. The combination defined in claim 5 wherein said mechanism comprises a switching motor with a directcurrent armature and a constant-flux stator, said switch means including contacts responsive to arrival of said movable rail section in said off-normal position for shortcircuiting the armature of said switching motor.

10. The combination defined in claim 9 wherein said mechanism further comprises a rotatable crank driven by said switching motor and coupled with said movable rail section, said contacts being positioned for operation by said crank.

11. The combination defined in claim 10 wherein said switch means includes further contacts at said third fixed rail section responsive to passage of a carriage thereover for re-energizing the armature of said switching motor, and additional contacts operable by said crank upon re turn of said movable rail section to said normal position for again short-circuiting the armature of said switching motor.

12. A transportation system comprising a track divided into a plurality of longitudinally adjoining rail sections including a substantially horizontal section and a substantially vertical section, a self-propelled carriage displaceable along said track, drive means on said carriage including a friction roller of relatively large diameter and a cogwheel of relatively small diameter provided with a common shaft, said track having a surface engageable by said roller for propulsion of said carriage at relatively high speed along said substantially horizontal section, wheels on said carriage positioned for contact with said track, retaining means on said track engageable with said wheels for permitting limited separation of said roller from said surface upon movement of said carriage along said substantially vertical section, and a rack on said substantially vertical section engageable by said cogwheel for movement at relatively low speed along said substantially vertical section during separation of said roller from said surface.

13. A transportation system as defined in claim 12 wherein said wheels include front and rear wheels rotatable about respective axes, the rear-wheel axis being located rearwardly of said roller, said carriage having its center of gravity so disposed as to tilt the carriage about said rear-wheel axis during movement along said substantially vertical section, thereby separating said roller from said surface.

14. A transportation system as defined in claim 12 wherein said sections are substantially channel-shaped and have longitudinal edge portions formed into overhanging flanges constituting said retaining means, said front wheels engaging said flanges during tilting of said carriage.

15. A transportation system as defined in claim 14 wherein the flanges of said horizontal section are partly cut away for enabling withdrawal and reinsertion of the 15 carriage.

16. A transportation system as defined in claim 15 wherein said carriage includes a base portion containing said drive means and a receptacle portion mounted on said base portion.

17. A transportation system as defined in claim 16 wherein said receptacle portion is externally provided with destination-selector means including a distinctive array of permanent bar magnets disposed at difierent levels.

18. A transportation system as defined in claim 17 wherein said bar magnets include a fixed magnet and a 14 plurality of adjustable magnets each selectively positionable in a plurality of positions longitudinally spaced along an outer wall surface of said receptacle portion for identifying a selected station.

19. A transportation system as defined in claim 18 wherein said bar magnets further include a plurality of additional magnets disposed at fixed positions adjacent the levels of said adjustable magnets for identifying a permanent home station.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 678,312 7/1901 Gilmer 104-138 717,798 1/1903 Beerwald' 104-139 X 892,586 7/1908 Ferlin 105-29 X 1,038,504 9/1912 Smith 104-139 1,438,266 12/1922 Schoberle 105-29 2,322,640 6/1943 Jackson et a1. 191-23 X 3,028,455 4/1962 Devonshire 191-23 3,074,353 1/ 1963 Devonshire et al 104-88 3,158,710 11/1964 Paglee 104-88 X ARTHUR L. LA POINT, Primary Examiner.

S. B. GREEN, D. F. WORTH, Assistant Examiners.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification104/88.6, 191/22.00C, 104/288, 105/29.1
International ClassificationB65G47/49, B07C3/08, B61B13/00, B61L23/00
Cooperative ClassificationB60L7/003, B65G2812/02079, B61L23/005, B61B13/00, B65G2201/02, B65G47/496, B07C3/087
European ClassificationB60L7/00B, B61L23/00A1, B07C3/08B2, B61B13/00, B65G47/49B