US 3677188 A
A vehicle for a monorail system wherein the vehicle straddles and freely turns about the rail either directly in the case of a cylindrical monorail or by means of specially designed running gear wherein the cab proper then turns about the running gear; the center of gravity of the vehicle is located below the axis of as oscillation of or turn center and the sides are symmetrically and conversely formed in order to divert side winds both above and below the vehicle for negating the effects of side winds; the vehicle can be easily removed from the rail; the seats and baggage platforms or other weights are moved laterally to balance the vehicle and emergency braking system is provided, which includes a friction member on the underside of the vehicle which mates with the rail upon withdrawal of the running gear.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Bordes  STABILIZING MONORAIL VEHICLE  Inventor: Marcel E. Bordes, P. O. Box 26124, New
Orleans, La. 70126  Filed: May 12, 1969  Appl.No.: 823,580
 U.S. Cl ..l04/120,105/141,]05/145, 105/329, 105/345, 188/41, 188/42, 188/176,
 Int. Cl. ..B6lb 13/06, B61c 13/08, B61d 17/02  FieldolSearch ..104/118,119,120,121; 105/141, 144, 145, 329, 345; 188/41, 42,176;
[ 1 July 18,1972
Primary ExaminerDrayton E. Hoffman Assistant ExaminerHoward Beltran AttomeyC. Emmett Pugh  ABSTRACT A vehicle for a monorail system wherein the vehicle straddles and freely turns about the rail either directly in the case of a cylindrical monorail or by means of specially designed running gear wherein the cab proper then turns about the running gear; the center of gravity of the vehicle is located below the axis of as oscillation of or turn center and the sides are symmetrically and conversely formed in order to divert side winds both above and below the vehicle for negating the effects of side winds; the vehicle can be easily removed from the rail; the seats and baggage platforms or other weights are moved laterally to balance the vehicle and emergency braking system is provided, which includes a friction member on the underside of the vehicle which mates with the rail upon withdrawal of the running gear.
20 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures Patented July 18, 1972 3,677,188
3 Sheets-Sheet l INVENTOR. MARCEL E. BORDES ATTORNEY Patented July 18, 1972 3,677,188
3 Sheets-Sheet 2 FIG. 6. INVENTOR.
' MARCEL E. BORDES I JJYWW AT TORNE Y aimed July 18. 1912 3,677,188
3 Sheets-Sheet 5 INVENTOR MARCEL E. BORDES ATTORNEY STABILIZIN G MONORAIL VEHICLE The present invention relates to an improved high speed monorail system wherein the monorail vehicles straddle and freely turn either directly or indirectly about the rail, that is, the vehicles turn under the primary action of inherent natural forces (gravity, centrifugal force) and not because of mechanical guiding elements or air stabilizers.
I-Ieretofore monorail systems have run into great difficulty when wind gusts speed or wind gusts began to exceed 30 to 50 miles per hour due to inherent instability and adverse laterally forces arising in high speed turns and from side winds. Hence true high speed monorail systems have not been heretofore attainable in a system as simple and as reliable as that of the present invention.
The present invention allows each vehicle of the monorail system to straddle and be freely rotatable about the rail either directly in the case of a curved surfaced or cylindrical monorail or indirectly by rotating about its own running gear which rigidly rides on the monorail. The vehicles are further designed to have inherent stability about their roll or oscillation axis. This is accomplished in part by having each vehicle straddle the rail to thereby have its weight distributed around the rail and by having its center of gravity located below the center line of the roll axis. Stability is further enhanced in the preferred embodiment by having the exterior side panels symmetrical and convex in shape about a line parallel to the roll axis, that line and the roll axis lying in the same horizontal plane when the vehicle is at rest or in its neutral position. The combination of these features provide aerodynamic stability and effectively eliminates any adverse effects from wind gusts or strong side winds, even at high speeds.
Moreover, because the monorail vehicle can freely rotate about the rail and is inherently stable, there is no need to bank the rail in turns as is the case in most systems or to use stabilizers, as for example is shown in U. S. Pat. No. 2,976,820 to Schaar, issued Mar. 28, 1961. In the present invention, the vehicle will naturally assume the desired degree of banking regardless of speed, whereas in a system wherein the rail itself is banked, the speed at which that turn can be comfortably negotiated is restricted to a relatively narrow range of speeds. In the present invention the degree of banking will be proportional to the speed and a turn can be taken at any desired speed.
Additionally the vehicle can be easily removed from or placed on the rail or track for quick maintenance and easier loading and unloading.
The incorporation of the features of the present invention provides a far superior monorail system with more advantageous characteristics than heretofore attained even though there is greater structural simplicity and an overall weight reduction of up to 75 percent, with a corresponding reduction in cost, as compared to non-rotatable types of monorail systems of the prior art. Likewise in the present inventive monorail system, there are greater safety and reliability factors present, greater ease of use and lower maintenance costs, as compared to prior art systems.
It is thus an object of the present invention to provide a monorail system with great inherent stability and yet be simpler, cheaper and more easily maintained than prior art systems.
It is a further object to provide a monorail system with great reliability and safety and which effectively eliminates the adverse efi'ects of wind gusts or strong side winds even at high speeds.
It is an additional object to provide a monorail system in which the rail or track need not be banked and which the vehicles need not be restricted to any particular speed in any particular turn.
Other objects and advantages of the present invention will be further apparent from the detailed description of the preferred embodiments which follows, reference being made to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the monorail system utilizing one embodiment of the present invention wherein the whole vehicle rotates about the rail;
FIG. 2 is a front, simplified view of the vehicle of FIG. 1 in its neutral or straight-away position;
FIG. 3 is a front, simplified view, similar to FIG. 2, in perspective of the vehicle of FIG. 1 in a banked position;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the monorail system of FIG. 1 showing the easy removal and placing on of vehicles;
FIG. 5 is a front, simplified view of a second embodiment of the present invention wherein the vehicle or cab proper rotates about its running gear;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a schematic representation of the interior of a vehicle showing the seating arrangement and means for balancing the vehicle;
FIGS. 7A and 7B are simplified, cross-sectional views of the track system for the passenger seats and the luggage racks, respectively, for laterally altering the weight distribution in the monorail vehicle;
' FIG. 7C is a schematic diagram of an exemplary automatic, mercury switch system for actuating the weight distribution systems of FIGS. 7A and 7B; and
FIG. 8 is a simplified, cross-sectional view of the suspension system for the main wheels of the vehicle.
Referring now to the drawings in detail, FIG. 1 shows a monorail system train including three monorail vehicles 1 embodying one form of the present invention. In this embodiment the vehicles I ride on a cylindrical or tubular rail or track 2 supported by appropriate support means or members 3. In the three car train shown, the middle ear includes propulsion means 4 which can be a ducted fan or air propeller system or a jet or rocket engine. Rather than exterior propulsion means 4, an interior drive system connected to the wheels 5 could be used.
The tubular track 2 can comprise a cylindrical exterior member with a vertical cross-beam included therein for added strength to thereby combine the advantageous features of the cylindrical surface in the present invention with the strength characteristics of the I-beam." In order to keep the tube or rail 2 from icing in cold weather and relatively free of moisture in non-freezing temperatures, a heating element can be inter nally included. As a further deicing and drying device, jet means can be included at the front of the monorail train for blasting the rail in front of the train with warm or hot air.
As is schematically illustrated in FIG. 2, each vehicle rides and is supported on the rail 2 by means of a rotary running gear system which includes sets of three wheels 5. Rather than the sets of wheels 5, the running gear could comprise air cushion or electromagnetic systems. What is particularly important is that the vehicle 1 is supported on the rail 2 so that it is inherently stable and is capable of free oscillation or turning about the rail 2; that is, the vehicle 1 is freely able to roll to as sume its natural position under the influence of gravity and centrifugal force and its position with respect to the rail is not primarily or normally determined by mechanical guide rails as for example is shown is U.S. Pat. No. 3,319,581 to Churchman et al., issued May 16, I967 and yet is inherently stable and does not need auxiliary support means or air stabilizers, as for example is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 2,976,820 to Schaar, issued Mar. 28, 1961.
Other particularly important features in the inherent stability of the vehicle 1 is that it is relatively unefiected by side winds, has its center of gravity 12 located below the axis of rotation 13 so that the vehicle always has a tendency to return from a banked position (note FIG. 3) to its neutral or straightaway position (shown in FIG. 2), and it rides on or straddles the rail 2. In straddling the rail 2, the vehicle concentrates the bulk of its weight around the rail with its center of gravity 12 not too far below its roll axis 13 but sufficiently distanced to provide an adequate righting vector.
The side panels 6, 7 of the exterior sides of the vehicle are generally symmetrically and convexly shaped about a midline 8 which runs the length of the vehicle. The midline 8 is parallel to the roll axis 13 and the two lines lie in approximately the same horizontal plane when the vehicle is in its neutral position; the roll axis 13 is thus located at or near the structural midpoint of the vehicle 1. The panels 6,7 are generally equal in surface area and the junctions between the panels and the roof are rounded. The symmetry, convexity and generally streamlined shape of the vehicle generally and the sides in particular serve to divert the side winds on the vehicle both above and below the vehicle (note arrows in FIGS. 2 and 3), thereby negating any substantial, adverse transverse or torque forces. The elimination of the adverse effects of the side winds is particularly important and occurs whether the vehicle is in its neutral (FIG. 2) or its banked (FIG. 3) positions.
The interior sides 30 of the vehicle 1 are canted or inclined or flared outwardly a sufficient degree so as to insure lack of contact between the vehicles 1 and the support members 3 during maximum banking. To lessen the necessary degree of cant or inclination of the interior sides 30, the support members 3 can themselves be inclined in the turns. As a further safety factor, mechanical banking limiters can be used but this is considered unnecessary because of the accurate predictability and inherent stability of the vehicles 1.
The cab or body of the vehicle 1 includes three intergrated major portions or general areas 9, and 11 to thereby form an inverted U" configuration and the vehicle 1 thus straddles the rail 2. The area 9 thus forms a central bridging portion with areas 10 and 11 forming side extention portions extending down from central portion 9 on either side of rail 2. This basic configuration helps to provide the vehicles inherent stability and yet, by being open at the bottom below the rail, allows for easy and simple removal from or engagement with the rail 2. Besides allowing for ease in use, concentrating the weight about the rail 2 (as opposed to those systems which suspend the vehicles below the rail) prevents any harmonic sway of the vehicle about the rail from arising. If a suspended monorail vehicle begins to sway at a frequency resonant with the natural frequency of the rail system 2, 3, great structural damage can occur to the system. Having the vehicle 1 up around the rail 2 also allows for less necessary ground clearance between the rail 2 and the ground.
To movably support the vehicle 1 when it is not engaged with the rail 2, an auxiliary or supplemental running gear system is provided at the bottom of the side extensions 10, 11 and, in the illustrated embodiments, includes sets of wheels 14, 15.
In FIG. 4, a removal or engagement station 18 is shown wherein the vehicles I ride up on the platform 17 by means of ramp 16. When the sets of wheels 14, 15 engage the inclined ramp 16 upon approaching the station 18, the vehicles are lifted off the rail or track 2. The vehicles then can be easily moved to a loading or unloading sub-station or to a maintenance sub-station for extensive repairs or overhaul. The vehicles 1 can be returned to or engaged with the rail in like but opposite fashion by merely rolling the vehicles 1 on their auxiliary system down the inclined ramp until the primary support system 5 engages the rail 2. Rather than using inclined ramps, the rail 2 after it passes over the platform 17 could be lowered until the wheels 14, 15 engaged the platform 17. Moreover, the vehicles 1 are reversible and can be run in either direction.
Because of the great relative weight reduction achieved by the present invention, the vehicles can be easily raised or lowered in position on the rail 2 for disengagement or engagement by means of cranes or winches or other forms of lifting means.
The easy, quick removal and engagement feature of the inverted U configuration is particularly important in maintenance because in most monorail systems of the prior art hours were necessary to disengage and engage a monorail vehicle whereas only a few minutes is required in the present invention. Indeed, because the running gear is exposed and is easily accessible, most regular maintenance can be done while the vehicles 1 are being loaded and unloaded. Thus there is relatively no downtime" in the present system. Monorail operators heretofore have never had a highspeed monorail system which had the inherent stability and overall ease of operation and use as the present invention.
In FIG. 5, a second basic embodiment is shown wherein the vehicle 1' (similar in form and configuration to vehicle 1) has been adapted to be used on a rail or track 2' which does not have a curved load bearing surface, for example an I-beam" track 2', as illustrated. Rather than freely oscillating or turning directly about the track as in the embodiments of FIG. 1 3, the cab or vehicle proper 9, 10', 11', turns about its support and running gear system 20 by means of a set of roller hearings or wheels 21 resting on the curved surface 22 having an imaginary center point 13'. The running gear system 20 is mounted on the I-beam track 2' and rolls thereon by means of wheels 5'. The vehicle proper, 9, 10, 11', thus turns indirectly about the rail 2' by means of its direct or oscillating about its own running gear system 20, the axis of oscillation being indicated by the point 13'. In normal operation the vehicle proper 9, 10 11', is restrained from any movement relative to the running gear system 20, except of course for the oscillation about the axis 13'.
The vehicle 1 functions basicly the same as vehicle 1 and has the same basic characteristics and features, except that upon an easy removal like that illustrated in FIG. 4, only the vehicle proper 9', I0, 11' is removed leaving the running gear system 20 engaged to the rail 2. Like or analogous elements or parts are therefore similarly numbers in the figures with the exception that the numbers are primed in FIG. 5.
With reference particularly to FIG. 6, a system for balancing the vehicle 1 (or 1) is schematically illustrated to thereby offset any unbalanced load or improper weight distribution about a vertical plane (indicated by dashed line 50) through the axis of rotation 13. Passenger seats 40 and baggage rack 41 or other weighted means are mounted in the vehicle 1 in such a fashion that they can be easily but fixedly moved in a lateral manner (note horizontal double tipped arrows in FIG. 6) until the load is equally distributed between both sides of the vehicle. An automatic, equalization system could be used to sense any imbalance, for example, by a mercury switch, and then to electrically move one or more of the weighted members in a lateral direction until equilibrium or a proper neutral position is reached.
Mounting the seats 40 and rack 41 on an electrically driven track system would be particularly appropriate. For example, as is shown in FIG. 7A, each seat 40 could be mounted on a rack or track 70 placed below the floor board 73. The rack 70 is driven back and forth in a lateral direction by pinion gear 71 powered by an electric motor 74 through a belt drive 75. A slot 76 is provided in the floor board 73 to permit the lateral passage of the seat support column 77. The lower, rack structure is supported by a series of idler wheels 72. In like fashion, the luggage rack 41 could be moved laterally on a rack and pinion system and such a system is illustrated in FIG. 7B wherein the analogous elements are numbered similarly as in FIG. 7A.
As generally illustrated in FIG. 7B, the luggage rack 41 is supported by and mounted for transverse movement on the idler wheels 172, and has attached to its bottom the rack 170. The rack 170 is laterally driven back and forth by pinion gear 171 powered by electric motor 174 through belt drive 175. The idler wheels 172 and pinion gear 171 are all mounted on the static basic support structure 176.
The weight equalization systems of FIGS. 7A and 7B could be automatically controlled by a standard mercury switch system such as that pictured in FIG. 7C. As illustrated in FIG. 7C, a standard mercury switch 90, which includes a mass of electrically conductive mercury 91 which is free to flow between the electrical contacts 92 and 93, is fixedly mounted with a lateral disposition in the vehicle 1. When the vehicle 1 is imbalanced laterally, either to the left or right, the mercury 91 will flow to the contacts 92 or 93, respectively, producing a complete electrical circuit between the corresponding battery 96, 96, respectively, and the central contact 94 which is grounded. The resulting current flow will activate the corresponding switch 95, 95, respectively, which in turn switches on the motor windings 174, 174", respectively.
Thus, if the imbalance is to the left (L), motor windings 174' will drive its load, e.g., seats 40 or luggage carrier 41, to the right (note clockwise arrow) until a neutral or a balanced condition exists and the mercury 91 returns to its central location (as illustrated). ifthe imbalance is to the right (R), motor windings 174" will be energized in like manner to drive the load to the left (note counterclockwise arrow). Motor windings 174' and 174" can of course be combined in the same motor, e.g., motor '74 or 174, and they are substantially the same except for having opposite polarity.
in a passenger vehicle, the seats are canted from a forward position at an angle of approximately 45 degrees so as to par tially face outwardly for better viewing. An easy means of ingress and egress is provided by having the exterior side panels 6,7 hinged about the line indicated by point 51 in gull wing fashion. Because of the inherent stability and overall design configurations of the vehicles ll, little or no adverse lateral forces will arise during operation, resulting in a very comfortable ride for the passengers.
For particular safety, the monorail system of the present invention can be provided with three separate braking systems: 1) a reversibility system for the propulsion system 4, e.g., reversing the direction of bite or feathering the propeller blades; 2) a standard disc brake system on the wheels 5; and 3) a deadman system wherein the wheels 5 retract and the vehicles 1 rest directly on the rail 2 by means of cylindrically surfaced brake shoes 60 attached to the underside of the vehicle body. As schematically illustrated in FIG. 6, the brake shoes 60 will then be in face-to-face contact with the rail 2" (shown in phantom lines) and frictionally engage the rail bringing the vehicles to an emergency stop.
An exemplary system for retracting the wheels 5 using standard prior art techniques is shown in FIG. 8. As illustrated each wheel 5 riding in strut 8 is mounted in the vehicle 1 by means of pneumatic cushions or bags 81 which serve both as shock absorbers and wheel positioning means. The vertical position of the wheel is determined by the fluid or air pressure in the pneumatic bag 81; the higher the pressure, the higher vehicle 1 will ride with respect to the rail 2, and vice versa. The pressure is varied by means of air line 83, 85 which feeds into the pneumatic bag 81 through the mounting head 82. Valve 84 with exhaust line 87 is included in feed line 83, 85 to exhaust the pressure in bag 81. When it is desired to retract the wheels, the valve 84 is fully opened which immediately deflates the bag 81 resulting in the vehicle 1 being lowered onto rail 2. The brake shoe which is located on the underside 86 of the vehicle then contacts the rail braking it to a halt.
This latter deadman braking system is particularly important in combination with the inherent stability of the inverted U configuration of the vehicle. If all systems fail, the cylindrical brake shoes 60 will mate with the cylindrical surface of the rail and bring the vehicles to rest.
An exemplary air suspension structure for the wheels and the emergency braking system using prior art techniques is illustrated in FIG. 8. As shown, each wheel 5 is supported by frame 80 against a pneumatic air bag 81 which also serves as a shock absorber. The other end of the air bag 81 is fixedly secured to the vehicle structure by means of headers 82 and its support element 82'. The pressure in the bag 81 is varied by means of air feeler lines 83,85 feeding off of a compressor. Three-way valve means 84 is used to control the pressure in the bag during normal use. In an emergency, valve means 84 is actuated to open feeder line 83 into escape line 87 to immediately exhaust the bag 81 causing it to collapse. The weight of the vehicle then causes the wheels 5 to retract into the vehicle so that the vehicle I rests directly on the monorail 2 and the frictional brake shoes 60 attached to the vehicle underside 86 engage the rail 2, bringing the vehicle to an emergency stop.
While preferred embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, many modifications thereof may be made without departing from the heart and scope of the invention, many given details being strictly exemplary.
What is claimed as invention is:
1. A monorail vehicle for a monorail system comprising a cab and mounting means attached to said cab for supporting said cab on the rail of the monorail system for free oscillation of said cab about the rail, said cab being open at the bottom below the rail and having three integrated major portions, a central portion being located above said support means and the other two portions forming side extentions means for straddling the rail and defining large, generally enclosed side areas which are located below said central portion and to the sides of said mounting means, the axis of oscillation of said cab being located below said central portion and within the overall structure of the rail, the center of gravity of said vehicle being located below the axis of oscillation of said cab; whereby said vehicle may freely roll about the rail in turns and still be inherently stable.
2. A monorail vehicle according to claim 1 wherein the exterior sides of said side extension means are symmetrical in form about a reference line extending parallel to the rail and lying approximately in the same horizontal plane as the axis of oscillation of said free oscillation; whereby when said vehicle is subjected to side winds, the wind is diverted both above and below the vehicle and the vehicle is thereby relatively unaffected.
3. A monorail vehicle according to claim 2 wherein said exterior sides are convexly formed with generally equal surface areas located above and below said reference line.
4. A monorail vehicle according to claim 1 wherein there is further included weight bearing means for laterally balancing said vehicle, said weight bearing means comprising at least one weighted object bearing on said vehicle whose center of gravity can be shifted in a lateral direction to laterally balance said vehicle.
5. A monorail vehicle according to claim 4 wherein said weight bearing means comprise members movably located on tracks extending in substantially non-parallel directions to said axis of oscillation; whereby the members and any weights placed thereon can be laterally moved to balance the weight distribution about said axis of rotation equally.
6. A monorail vehicle according to claim 5 wherein said members include passenger seats placed in both side extension means and baggage or cargo racks placed in said central portion.
7. A monorail system according to claim 1 wherein said support means includes running gear means for movably supporting said vehicle on a curved surfaced rail and for allowing said support means to freely turn about the rail as the vehicle moves along the rail; whereby said vehicle can freely turn directly about the rail.
8. A monorail vehicle according to claim 7 wherein said vehicle includes a supplemental braking system, said braking system including on the underside of said vehicle a curved surfaced brake shoe, the curvature of said brake shoe being equal to that of the curved surface of the rail, said brake shoe causing said vehicle to be braked by coming into contact with the surface of the rail.
9. A monorail vehicle according to claim 1 wherein said support means includes curved surface means for allowing said cab to freely turn about said support means and by which said cab is attached to said support means; whereby said vehicle can freely turn indirectly about the rail.
10. A monorail vehicle according to claim 1 wherein said vehicle includes at the bottom area of the two side extensions secondary running gear means for movably supporting said vehicle when not fully engaged to the rail.
Ill. The monorail vehicle of claim 1 wherein said axis of oscillation coincides with the center axis of the rail.
12. The monorail vehicle of claim 1 wherein said three integrated major portions generally form in lateral cross-section an inverted U."
13. The monorail vehicle of claim 1 wherein the exterior sides of said side extention means include side opening doors for easy and immediate ingress and egress.
14. The monorail vehicle of claim 13 wherein said doors are gull-wing-type doors.
15. The monorail vehicle of claim 1 wherein the interior sides of said side extention means in the downward direction are flared outwardly away from the rail, allowing an increased maximum of possible banking angle before said side extention means would come into contact with any support members for the rail.
16. The monorail vehicle of claim 1 wherein the free oscillation of the cab is about a curved surface, the curved surface being located above the axis of said oscillation, the axis of oscillation coinciding with the center of said curved surface,
17. A monorail system including at least one vehicle and a monorail, said vehicle being mounted on said rail for free oscillation of at least an outer portion of said vehicle about said rail, said vehicle generally having in lateral cross-section an inverted U" shaped configuration and being located about the rail so it straddles said rail, the axis of oscillation of said vehicle being located below the upper, central bridging portion of the inverted U configuration and within the central inner area defined by the inverted U" configuration, the center of gravity of the oscillatable portion of said vehicle being located below the axis of oscillation of said vehicle; whereby said vehicle may freely roll about said rail in turns and still be inherently stable.
18. The monorail system of claim 17 where there is included a curved surface between the oscillatable portion of said vehicle and said rail, the axis of oscillation being located below said curved surface and coinciding with the center of said curved surface.
19. The monorail system of claim 18 wherein said curved surface is the outer surface of said rail upon which said vehicle is mounted.
20. The monorail system of claim 19 wherein said rail is an extended cylinder, the longitudinal axis of the cylinder coinciding with said axis of oscillation.