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Publication numberUS3682325 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 8, 1972
Filing dateJul 2, 1970
Priority dateJul 2, 1970
Also published asCA935403A, CA935403A1
Publication numberUS 3682325 A, US 3682325A, US-A-3682325, US3682325 A, US3682325A
InventorsCrosser Ralph W Jr, Peterson Thomas D
Original AssigneeKennecott Copper Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for uncoupling railroad cars
US 3682325 A
An elongate arm is pivotally connected at one end to supporting means adapted to be mounted adjacent a railroad track. Drive means are provided for pivoting the arm away from the supporting means so as to engage and actuate an uncoupling lever attached to a standard railroad car coupling, thereby opening the coupling. The apparatus can be automated, and can be employed in combination with a train positioner. Appropriate sensing means, such as limit switches and valves, can be used to indicate when the coupling is open and to control the pressure exerted by the pivoting arm on the uncoupling lever. Jogging means can be utilized to jog the cars in order to loosen tight couplings.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Peterson et al.

[151 3,682,325 1 1 Aug. 8, 1972 [54] APPARATUS FOR UNCOUPLIN RAILROAD CARS [72] Inventors: Thomas D. Peterson; Ralph W. Crosser, J12, both of Salt Lake City, Utah [73] Assignee: Kennecott Copper Corporation,

New York City, N.Y.

[22] Filed: July 2,1970

[211 Appl. No.: 52,023

[52] US. Cl ..2l3/21l, 213/75 R, 213/219 511 1111.0 ..B6lg 7/04 [58] Field 61se11111..213/7s R, 75 A, 211,212, 219, 2l3/l66 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,205,830 6/1940 Flannery .213/212 2,283,731 5/1942 Goss ..213/75 A 2,998,145 8/1961 Maurer,S1-. ..213/212 2,199,460 5/1940 11616611111 ..213/75 R Primary Examiner-Drayton E. Hoffman Attorney-John L. Sniado, Mallinckrodt 8: Comaby and Philip A. Mallinckrodt 57 ABSTRACT An elongate arm is pivotally connected at one end to supporting means adapted to be mounted adjacent a railroad track. Drive means are provided for pivoting the arm awayfrom the supporting means so as to engage and actuate an uncoupling lever attached to a standard railroad car coupling, thereby opening the coupling. The apparatus can be automated, and can be employed in combination with a train positioner. Appropriate sensing means, such as limit switches and valves, can be used to indicate when the coupling is open and to control the pressure exerted by the pivoting arm on the uncoupling lever. Jogging means can be utilized to jog the cars in order to loosen tight couplings.

- 10 Claim, Drawing Figures APPARATUS FOR UNCOUPLING RAILROAD CARS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION coupling pins, which are downwardly inserted respectively into apertures in the two clamps to prevent the clamps from opening. The coupling is so constructed that the removal of only one pin will permit the corresponding clamp to open and release the other clamp,

although the second clamp may still have the coupling pin in place.

A pin is conventionally extracted from the clamp by manually raising a downwardly extending lever pivotally attached to one outer comer of the railway car. The lever is connected through a connecting bar to the top or bottom of the coupling pin protruding from the clamp. As the lever is pivoted, the connecting bar rotates and raises the pin from the clamp, thereby opening the coupling.

Attempts have been made to devise apparatus to mechanically uncouple the cats, in order to avoid the expense and time loss in having workmen manually perform the uncoupling manipulations. These attempts have concentrated almost exclusively on designing new couplings for captive railway cars or toy train systems for which rather elaborate, specialized uncoupling equipment is necessary. In addition, all of the redesigned uncoupling systems have no provision for remote control or actuation, and furthermore require the railway cars to be moving along the track to actuate the uncoupling mechanism; see, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,132,749; 3,160,286; 2,631,739; and 1,028,531. Prior to this invention no effective device had been developed 'which could uncouple a standard car coupling either selectively or automatically, or could detect malfunctions of the coupling or the uncoupling mechanism.

Objective: It was an objective therefore in the development of this invention to provide uncoupling apparatus for selectively and automatically uncoupling standard railroad car couplings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to the invention the apparatus has an elongate arm pivotally attached to a supporting means adapted to be mounted adjacent a railroad track. Drive means connected to the arm pivots the arm from the supporting means into contact with the uncoupling lever of the car coupling. As the arm continues to pivot, the lever is actuated to open the coupling and permit the railroad cars to be separated.

As an additional feature, the apparatus preferably has a signaling mechanism which provides an appropriate signal when the coupling is open. Suitable sensing means, such as limit switches, valves, or constant pressure, variable flow pumps, can also be employed to regulate the amount of pressure applied by the arm to the uncoupling lever. If the coupling binds, the arm stops short of damaging the coupling or its linkage. Tight couplings can usually be easily loosened by jogging the adjacent railroad car several times using appropriate jogging means. Once the coupling has been loosened, the arm can complete its pivot and open the coupling.

It iscontemplated that the uncoupling apparatus will be automated and employed with a train positioner or in a gravity controlled hump yard to uncouple selected cars from a string of railroad cars. For example, the train positioner positions a car so that the appropriate coupling is located adjacent the uncoupling device, which is then activated to open the coupling. The train positioner moves the uncoupled car forward and the uncoupling device returns to its rest position. This procedure overcomes a problem inherent in many proposed uncoupling mechanisms, in that most of the mechanisms are constructed to uncouple every car as it passes the mechanism, even though this may not be desirable. If a coupling is frozen, the coupling will be broken, or the uncoupling mechanism will be damaged. The apparatus of the-invention provides for selective uncoupling, so that only those couplings are opened for which the device is actuated. Moreover, the apparatus has its own power source and is not dependent on the moving cars to. provide the necessary force to open the couplings. I

THE DRAWINGS The best mode presently contemplated of carrying out the invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is' a view in perspective of the uncoupling device, showing the uncoupling arm engaging the uncoupling lever of a coupling between two coupled railroad cars;

FIG. 2, a schematic showing of fluid reservoir fluid flow lines, and switching valve;

FIG. 2a, the portion of FIG. 2 enclosedby dotted line 2a and drawn to show the valve in its reverse position;

FIG. 3, a schematic plan view of a pair of uncoupling devices disposed on alternate sides of the track, with a train positioner for moving the cars to bring the appropriate coupling into position adjacent the devices;

FIG. 4, an enlarged side elevation taken from the standpoint of line 4-4, FIG. 3, and showing the uncoupling device at rest;

FIG. 5, a plan view of the situation depicted in FIG. 3, but with the car coupling now in position adjacent the uncoupling device;

FIG. 6, a view corresponding to that of FIG. 4 but showing the arm in the uncoupling position; and

FIG. 7, a plan view of a different form of the apparatus, wherein a rotary actuator constitutes the drive means.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS As illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 6, a preferred embodiment of the invention has means 10 for supporting anarm 11 mounted on a horizontal plate 12 that'rests on the ground 13 adjacent a railroad track 14. Arm 11 is shown in the act of pivoting vertically about a horizontal axis. Another operable embodiment (not illustrated) has the arm horizontally pivotable about a vertical axis and mounted on an upright supporting means disposed adjacent the track.

The supporting means comprises, in this embodiment, a horizontal bar 15 disposed adjacent track 14 I and rotatably secured along its length to a block 16 by means of two bushings 17 and 18. Block 16 is mounted on the corner of plate 12 nearest track 14. Horizontal bar 15 is fixedly attached at one end to a lever 19 which is pivotally connected to the drive means. The drive means includes a hydraulic ram 20 in this embodiment. The opposite end of horizontal bar 15 is fixedly attached toone end of arm 11. Arm 11 pivots upwardly as horizontal bar 15 is rotated clockwise. A structural bracket 1 la disposed on the free end of arm 11 holds a cylinder 21 adapted to rotate about a horizontal axis. As arm 11 pivots upwardly, rotatable cylinder 21 engages the downwardly extending uncoupling lever 22 which is attached through connecting rod 23 to the coupling pin 24 of the coupling 25 between two railroad cars 26, 27. As arm 11 continues to pivot upwardly, lever 22 is pivoted upwardly to withdraw pin 24, thereby opening the coupling.

I Coupling 25, as shown, comprises two cooperating horizontal clamps 25a and 25b, each attached respectively to conventional railroad cars 26, 27.

In this embodiment, coupling pin 24 is inserted vertically in an aperture in clamp 25a; while a corresponding coupling pin 28 is inserted in an aperture in clamp 25b, and is adapted to be opened from the opposite side of car 27 in a manner similar to that described in connection with pin 24. When either pin 24 or pin 28 is withdrawn from the coupling, the corresponding clamp 25a or 25b is unlocked and can be separated from the other clamp by separating the two railroad cars.

Hydraulic ram 20 is of conventional construction having a hollow cylinder 29 adapted to be filled with fluid from forward and rear fluid supply lines 30 and 31. Cylinder 29 is pivotally attached at one end thereof to plate 12 by a bracket 29a. Disposed concentrically within cylinder 29 is a longitudinally slidable rod 32 which is adapted to extend outwardly from the free end of cylinder 29. Rod 32 is slidably secured within cylinder 29 by means of a gasket (not shown) attached concentrically around the end of rod 32 interiorly of cylinder 29 between supply lines 30 and 31. As fluid alternately flows into opposite ends of cylinder 29 from supply lines 30 and 31, rod 32 is reciprocated within the cylinder by the alternating pressure of the incoming fluid. The exterior end of rod 32 is attached to a bracket 32a, which is pivotally attached to lever 19, so that the reciprocating longitudinal movement of rod 32 results in the pivoting action of lever 19 to raise and lower arm 11. As a means of guiding rod 32 as it travels back and forth from cylinder 29, a guide rod 33 is mounted on the hydraulic ram with one end fixedly attached to bracket 32a by means of a short, upwardly extending support 32b. The other end of guide rod 33 is longitudinally and slideably mounted on the top of cylinder 29 through a small bushing 33a.

FIG. 2 illustrates a pump and fluid feed line system for use in providing supply lines 30 and 31 of hydraulic ram 20 with alternating fluid feed. In order to raise arm 1 1 from its rest position, fluid is drawn from a fluid reservoir 34 through line 35 by a pump 36, and pumped through lines 37 and 31 into cylinder 29. Simultaneously the return flow of fluid from supply line 30 is effected to the reservoir 34 through line 38. When the arm is to be lowered, the fluid input is reversed to feed fluid into the forward portion of cylinder 29 by rotating the feed and exhaust lines 41 and 42, as shown in FIG. 2a. This is accomplished by a signal from a solenoid 39 which rotates a valve 40 counterclockwise, so that feed line 37 is connected through line 41 to supply line 30. Pump 36 then pumps fluid through lines 37 and 30 into cylinder 29. The outflowing fluid from line 31 is shunted through line 42 to line 38, and from there into reservoir 34.

Fluid pressure regulating means are preferably employed to regulate the fluid pressure within thehydraulic rarn in order to maintain the ram in a raised position to hold the coupling open and also to prevent undue pressure from being exerted on the arm and uncoupling lever if the coupling binds. Appropriate pressure sensing and regulating means include constant pressure, variable flow pumps, and check valves in the fluid feed line used in conjunction with variable pressure, constant flow pumps.

When arm 11 is fully pivoted, so that coupling 25 is open, it is preferred to have a limit switch or other signaling device actuated by arm 11 to signal that the uncoupled cars can be separated.

As shown in FIGS. 3-6, the uncoupling device is advantageously used in conjunction with a train positioner 43 to uncouple cars from a train without the aid of a switchman. The train positioner 43 is conventionally mounted on an elongate support or wall 44 extending parallel to the track 45, and is adapted to move horizontally along support 44. In operation, positioner 43 secures itself to a coupling 46 (FIG. 3), and moves the car or cars 47, 48, 49 into position (FIG. 5), so that the desired coupling 50 is located adjacent the uncoupling device 10. The train positioner can be equipped with a limit switch 51, so that when the positioner strikes the switch 51 and stops, the appropriate coupling is in proper position adjacent the uncoupling device 10. With the coupling in proper position as shown in FIG. 5, the arm 11 pivots from a horizontal position shown in FIG. 4 to the upright position shown in FIG. 6 and opens the coupling by engaging and pivoting the uncoupling lever.

Additional features can be included in the system to insure automatic operation. For example, a second uncoupling device 52 can be mounted on the opposite side of the tracks 45 to extract the second pin by pivoting the uncoupling lever on the adjacent car 49. If one pin cannot be pulled, the other pin can be, and the coupling is opened without further delay. In the event the coupling cannot be opened by the uncoupling device because the coupling binds, provision can be made for jogging the coupling to loosen it by moving car 48 slightly back and forth, while holding the other car 49 stationary with a scissors clamp 53 which clamps the forward wheel of car 49. Operation of all devices in the system, i.e., the uncoupling device, train positioner,

jogging mechanism, and scissors clamp, among others, can be controlled from the same source, for example, 'a master control board having indicators for the varying conditions of each system component at any given time. The sequencing of operations can be completely interlocked with automatic operation and signaling means.

Analtemative means for driving the pivoting arm is shown in FIG. 7, in which the hydraulic ram is replaced with a fluid-driven rotary actuator 54 which is attached directly to one end of the horizontal bar 55 mounted on base 59 by means of bushings 60, 60a, and 60b. As actuator S4 revolves it rotates bar 55 to pivot arm 56 so that cylinder 56a can engage the uncoupling lever (not shown). Fluid supply lines 57, 58 are connected with the fluid supply system illustrated in FIG. 2. Other means of actuation include an electric motor or motors, with or without gear reduction.

Whereas this invention is here illustrated and described with respect to certain preferred forms thereof, it is to be understood that many variations are possible without departing from the inventive concepts particularly pointed out in the claims.

We claim:

1. Apparatus for uncoupling stationary railroad cars which are provided with standard couplings having pivoted uncoupling levers extending downwardly along the sides thereof, comprising in combination:

support means disposed adjacent to and laterally of a railroad track;

an elongate arm pivotally mounted on said support means and adapted to swing upwardly from a generally horizontal rest position with sufficient force to engage and actuate an uncoupling lever of a coupling between two stationary cars on the track; and

drive means connected to the said arm for forcibly swinging it upwardly from its said rest position to actuate said uncoupling lever and for returning it to its said rest position.

2. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein the elongate arm pivots about a horizontal axis.

3. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein the support means comprises a horizontal bar rotatably attached by brackets to a base plate disposed adjacent the track, said horizontal bar being connected at one end to the elongate arm and at the other end to a downwardly extending lever attached to the drive means.

4. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein the drive means comprises in combination:

a fluid cylinder having a longitudinally displaceable rod extending from one end thereof, said rod being operationally connected at its free end to the downwardly-extending lever and actuated by changes in the direction of fluid pressure within the cylinder:

a fluid pump for pumping fluid through fluid lines to and from the cylinder; and

switching means for changing the direction of fluid pressure in the cylinder.

' 5. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein the drive means has means for regulating the pressure applied to the pivoting of the elongate arm.

6. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including means rearmsstran eness... signal. ing means to signal the opening of the coupling.

8. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein the elongate arm has a rotatable cylinder transversely mounted on the free end of the arm, said rotatable cylinder adapted to engage the pivotable coupling lever.

9. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including a wheel scissors clamp for holding at least one of the two cars stationary on the track with respect to the elongate arm.

10. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including means for separating the two cars after the coupling has been opened.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2157187 *May 26, 1936May 9, 1939Marx & Co LouisRemotely controllable automatic train coupling system
US2199460 *May 23, 1938May 7, 1940Ind Brownhoist CorpSelf-propelled pusher car
US2205830 *Mar 24, 1938Jun 25, 1940Flannery William CCar coupler
US2283731 *Apr 4, 1941May 19, 1942Ohio Brass CoCoupler operating mechanism for dump cars
US2998145 *Apr 22, 1959Aug 29, 1961Maurer Sr Howard FUncoupling device for toy and model railroad cars
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3805968 *Oct 10, 1972Apr 23, 1974Southern Pacific Transport CoBrush uncoupler for rail cars
US3854598 *Jan 28, 1974Dec 17, 1974Japan National RailwayAutomatic unlocking device for rolling stock couplers
US3901390 *Aug 16, 1974Aug 26, 1975Southern Pacific Transport CoMagnetic rail car knuckle-opener
US4008811 *Jun 18, 1975Feb 22, 1977Knorr-Bremse GmbhUncoupling device for central buffer couplings on railroad vehicles
US5350077 *Jun 11, 1993Sep 27, 1994Taichi-S Co., Ltd.Method and device for coupling a self-propelled truck with a carrying truck
US5531337 *May 30, 1995Jul 2, 1996Inco LimitedAutomated decoupler for rail cars
US8140250Jul 11, 2008Mar 20, 2012International Electronics Machines CorporationRail vehicle identification and processing
US8583313Sep 21, 2009Nov 12, 2013International Electronic Machines Corp.Robotic vehicle for performing rail-related actions
US8655540Mar 6, 2008Feb 18, 2014International Electronic Machines Corp.Rail vehicle identification and processing
US9383752Nov 8, 2013Jul 5, 2016International Electronic Machines Corp.Railway maintenance device
US20090055041 *Mar 6, 2008Feb 26, 2009Mian Zahid FRail vehicle identification and processing
US20090055043 *Jul 11, 2008Feb 26, 2009Mian Zahid FRail vehicle identification and processing
US20100076631 *Sep 21, 2009Mar 25, 2010Mian Zahid FRobotic vehicle for performing rail-related actions
DE19621651C2 *May 30, 1996Sep 14, 2000Inco LtdVorrichtung zum Abkuppeln von Schienenfahrzeugen
U.S. Classification213/211, 213/219, 213/75.00R
International ClassificationB61G7/00, B61G7/04
Cooperative ClassificationB61G7/04
European ClassificationB61G7/04
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Jan 17, 1991ASAssignment
Effective date: 19890630
Jul 11, 1989ASAssignment
Effective date: 19890628
Jun 25, 1987ASAssignment
Effective date: 19800520
Effective date: 19870320
Effective date: 19870220