US 3430601 A
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March 4, 1969 Filed Jan. 24, 1967 T. F. THOMPSON BARGE COUPLING ASSEMBLY Sheet orz nv VE/VTOI? THEODORE E THOMPSON TTORN Y i March 4, 1969 Filed Jan. 24, 1967 T. F. THOMPSON BARGE COUPLING ASSEMBLY Sheet 2 012 VE N TOR A TTORNEYV United States Patent 4 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A coupling assembly for barges comprising a vertical anchoring bar fixed to one barge and a coupling unit mounted on the adjacent end of another barge. The coupling unit has a pair of pivoted levers respectively terminating at one end in coacting jaws between which the anchoring bar is receivable, and the opposed edges of their opposite ends have sufiicient lateral clearance therebetween to accommodate pivotal opening and closing of the jaws. The levers are normally spring-biased to open the jaws, and the jaws are locked in closed position by a metal tube which is insertable between the spaced lever ends. The tube is laterally deformable in response to a predetermined, mechanical, outward pressure exerted on the jaws to thereby release them from locked position.
Background of invention Heretofore, it has been the usual procedure in coupling barges to first align adjacent barges in end-to-end relation, and, thereafter, to attach cables to the timberheads at the ends of the barges and tighten the cables by ratchets or other means to pull the barges together. This process is not only time consuming, but is dangerous to the barge hands. Furthermore, it is periodically necessary to take up slack in the cables, which 'further adds to the manual labor and danger.
Summary of invention The present invention eliminates the dangers and timeconsuming eflForts in coupling barges by providing a simple, semi-automatic coupling assembly, including a vertically elongated anchoring bar fixed to one barge and a coupling unit mounted on the adjacent end of another barge. The coupling unit comprises a pair of pivotally mounted jaws between which the anchoring bar of another barge is reecivable. The jaws are normally biased to open position by suitable spring means, and the open jaws are designed to present camming shoulders which, upon impact by the inserted anchoring bar, automatically cause the jaws to close in gripping engagement with the bar. A pin which is insertable between the spaced opposite ends of respective jaws automatically drops into place to retain the jaws in locked position.
The locking pin is preferably in the form of a tube of aluminum or other metal which is laterally deformable under a predetermined outward pressure applied to the jaws. Thus, under this predetermined pressure, the tube is crushed to permit the jaws to open and release the coupling.
By the use of this semi-automatic coupling, time, effort and accidents are reduced to a minimum, and it is unnecessary to employ specially trained hands to effect the coupling operation. Furthermore, in the event of an accident, such as grounding, hitting a bridge or other obstacle, the coupling will automatically be released with no flying parts or loose broken wires, and with little effort the barges can thereafter be recoupled by simply inserting a new locking pin. It is estimated that all rigging costs will be cut 75-80%.
3,430,601 Patented Mar. 4, 1969 The drawings 'Referring to the drawings in which numerals of like character designate similar parts throughout the several views:
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary top plan view of two adjacent barges in coupled relation, employing the coupling assemblies of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary view in side elevation;
FIG. -3 is a top plan view of one of the coupling assemblies in locked position;
FIG. 4 is a similar view with the top closure plate of the coupling unit removed and with the jaws in open position;
FIG. 5 shows the coupling jaws in locked position, the top closure plate being removed for clarity; and
FIG. 6 is a similar view illustrating the deformation of the locking pin when a predetermined outward pressure is exerted on the jaw members.
Description of preferred embodiment -As best seen in FIGS. 4-6, the coupling assembly of the present invention comprises a coupling unit generally indicated at 10 which consists of a housing 11 secured by any suitable means to an end of one barge B1, said housing having top and bottom closure plates 11a and 11b respectively. A pair of levers 12 are pivotally mounted intermediate their ends on vertical pins I13, supported in the top and bottom closures of the housing, and the respective levers terminate at their outer ends in opposed, inwardly directed coupling jaws 14 which are preferably rounded as at 14a for the purpose hereinafter described. The jaws .14 project horizontally through the outer open end of the housing 11, as seen from the drawings, and are thus presented for the reception of an anchoring bar fixed to another barge, as will later appear.
The opposite ends 15 of the respective levers 12 are arranged with their opposed edges in spaced relation as at '16 to provide a clearance space for accommodating the pivotal movement of the levers in opening and closing the jaws 14. A coil spring 17 is interposed between the levers 12 in olf-center relation with respect to the pivot pins 13, in the direction of the jaws .14 so as to normally bias the levers to jaw-opening position, as seen in FIG. 4.
Adjacent the outer extremities of the lever ends 115, the opposed edges diverge as at and at the inner extremities of these divergent edges, recesses or notches 18 are provided for receiving a vertically insertable lock member 19 (FIG. 5) which, when the jaws 14 are in closed position, serves as an abutment to prevent the pivotal opening movement of the levers 12.
On the adjacent end of a second barge B2, an anchoring unit 20' is mounted for engagement by the jaws 14. This anchoring unit comprises an elongated, vertically disposed anchoring bar or rail 21 which is secured to the barge B2 by a mounting plate 22 fastened to the end of the barge. As will be seen from the drawings, the anchoring bar 21 is outwardly offset from the plate 22 and is receivable between the jaws 14 of the coupling unit 10, and its longitudinal edges 23 are laterally flared for gripping engagement by the inwardly directed jaws 14.
Preferably, to facilitate the automatic coupling operation and engagement with the jaws 14, the flaring edges of the bar 21 terminate in converging planes as at 24. The outer longitudinal face of the bar and these converging edges are designed for camming action with oppositely, inwardly directed shoulders 25 on the levers 12 within the jaw opening. Preferably, the adjacent extremities of shoulders 25 are rounded as at 25a to further aid in this camming action. Thus, with the jaws 14 on the coupling unit of barge B1 normally biased to open position by spring 17 barge B2 may be maneuvered to direct its anchoring bar 21 between the open jaws 14. With the continued inward movement of the bar 21, the latter abuts the shoulders 25 and the impact thereof causes a camming action which overcomes the pressure of spring 17 and pivots the levers 12 to close the jaws 14 as in FIG. 5. Then the insertion of the lock pin 19 in the notches 18 prevents the reverse pivotal movement of the levers and the jaws are locked in closed position.
While the pin 19 may be manually inserted in the notches through an opening 19a in the top closure plate 11a, FIG. 3, the assembly is preferably designed so that the pin 19, when the jaws are open, simply rests in outwardly displaced position in the opening, with its bottom extremity supported on the upper surfaces of the inwardly urged ends 15 of the levers. Then, upon the outward pivotal movement of the ends \15 of levers 12 to close the jaws, the ends 15 slide from beneath the pin 19 which automatically drops into the notched portions 18 of the levers to lock the jaws in closed position, as seen in FIG. 5.
In order to provide a safety feature for automatically releasing the coupling in the event a barge becomes grounded or encounters an obstruction, the locking pin 19 is preferably formed of an aluminum tube of a wall thickness or gauge which will automatically become crushed under a. predetermined pressure applied to the jaws in locked position as in FIG. 6. It has been found that a pulling pressure on a barge in excess of 100 tons will cause considerable damage in the event of the grounding of the barge, and, therefore, the locking pin 19 is designed to remain intact at pressures under 100 tons, but to laterally crush under pressures in excess of this magnitude.
As seen in FIG. 3 in order to facilitate the removal of a crushed locking pin for the replacement of a new pin the top closure plate 11a is provided adjacent the pin opening 1911, with opposed cut-out portions 1%. These cutout portions will give sufficient clearance to the deformed portion of the pin to effect its ready removal. As will be seen from FIG. 5, the periphery of the pin 19 is only partially embraced by the notched areas 18 of the levers 12, and any crushing of the pin or tube, as in FIG. 6, causes the latter to expand into the space between the ends 15 of the levers.
As seen in FIG. 2, the locking bar is vertically elongated and extends both above and below the jaw members 14. Thus, coupling may be effected between two barges on different vertical planes in order that loaded barges and empty barges may be readily coupled, as well as two loaded or two unloaded barges. This arrangement also facilitates the towing operation, as it compensates for any variations in the vertical planes of barges in the course of towing. It will be understood that the jaws 14 engage the bar 21 with sufficient clearance to allow for this compensating feature.
It is desirable in towing a fleet of barges that they be linked together to form a single, rigidly connected unit, and with the present invention, two laterally spaced coupling assemblies are provided between the ends of adjacent barges to prevent relative lateral or angular movement between the barges.
Also, in order to facilitate the universal adaptability of the invention, it is preferable to alternately reverse the positions of the two assemblies at each end of a given barge. Thus, as shown in FIG. 1, one coupling assembly is arranged with the coupling unit 10 attached to barge B1, and its anchoring unit 20 is attached to barge B2, while the second coupling assembly is arranged with the coupling unit 10a attached to barge B2 and its anchoring unit 20 attached to barge B1. Thus, regardless of the positioning of the barges, the coupling units of the respective assemblies will always be in position to receive the anchoring units of an adjacent barge.
1. A coupling assembly for connecting two portable bodies in end-to-end relation, comprising an anchoring unit fixed to one end of a first body, said anchoring unit having a vertically extending, laterally flaring anchoring bar, a coupling unit secured to the adjacent end of a second body and including a pair of levers pivotally mounted intermediate their ends on vertical axes for relative horizontal, swinging movement, corresponding ends of respective levers terminating in coacting, inwardly directed jaws between which the anchoring bar on said first body is loosely receivable, the adjacent opposite ends of respective levers, when said jaws are in locking engagement with said anchoring bar, being laterally spaced a distance to accommodate the opening movement of said jaws, and a locking element comprising a metal tube of a wall strength designed to collapse laterally under a predetermined lateral mechanical pressure, removably insertable between and engageable "by the spaced ends of said levers to normally prevent said opening movement, but which, when collapsed by excessive force from said levers, automatically permits said jaws to open.
2. A coupling assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein said pivoted levers are mounted in a housing secured to the end of said second body, a top plate for said housing overlying the spaced ends of said levers and a vertical opening in said top plate for receiving said metal tube and aligned .with the space between said jaw members.
3. A coupling assembly as claimed in claim 1, including spring means normally biasing said levers and jaws to open position, a housing for said pivoted levers, a top plate for said housing, a vertical opening in said top plate aligned with the space between the underlying ends of said levers when the latter are rotated to close said jaw members, the top surfaces of said lever ends being adapted to at least partially underlie said opening when the jaw members are in open position, whereby, when said locking element is inserted in said opening, its lower extremity is supported on the top surfaces of the ends of said levers, and when said jaw members are closed, said locking element automatically drops into the space between said lever ends to prevent opening of said jaw members.
4. A coupling assembly as claimed in claim 3, including coacting cam means on said levers and anchoring bar for automatically rotating said levers to close said jaws upon impact by said anchoring unit.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,153,077 4/ 1939 Clarke 24-230 2,698,591 1/1955 Scaife 114-235 3,196,824 7/1965 Howard 24-230 1,384,001 7/ 1921 Splittstoesser 280-455 TRYGVE M. BLIX, Primary Examiner.
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