The so-called standard coupler is the model railroad coupler most widely used in the United States and other countries for joining model railroad cars end to end. It employs C-shaped coupler knuckles, so constructed and arranged that when two such couplers are thrust together, one of them will swing upward for clearance and then drop down under the influence of spring tension or gravity into coupled relationship.
Uncoupling presents somewhat more of a problem. This, too, involves the rocking of one of the C-shaped couplers upward for clearance and then letting it drop free when uncoupling has been achieved.
Each such conventional coupler includes a downwardly extending lifting finger for cooperation with a manually operable, lifting ramp. The ramp is located in the trackway near one of the rails for engaging the lifting finger of only one of the connected couplers, so that one coupler of a connected pair will be lifted while the other remains in normal position for clearance by the lifted one.
The mechanical uncoupler has not been entirely satisfactory because the parts are necessarily small and fragile, and the users of the equipment are sometimes young, and ignorant, or sometimes inept in the use of the equipment. Uncoupling necessarily occurs with the cars in motion so there is some shock or blow when the tripping finger hits the manually raised ramp. The severity of the blow increases with speed of the vehicle. Derailments and damage to equipment are not infrequent.
Couplers of another type, in which interlocked jaw members are swung laterally for uncoupling through magnetic attraction exerted at an uncoupling station are common and are very popular. These couplers, however, act through magnetic attraction, not magnetic repulsion.
The present invention, for the first time, provides for lifting a liftable coupler magnetically by means of a switch energized electromagnet located at an uncoupling station. The electromagnet is located near one rail and far from the other in position to lift one coupler knuckle while leaving the other coupler knuckle in its normal position. The electromagnet has long upper and lower poles of opposite sign, the upper pole, illustratively, being the south pole. The liftable knuckle member of each coupler has affixed to it a permanent magnet having long upper and lower poles of opposite sign, the lower pole, illustratively, being the south pole.
When the electromagnet is energized and engaged couplers are run slowly over the uncoupling station, one of the coupler knuckles is raised out of interlocked relation to the other coupler knuckle by electromagnetic repulsion, not attraction. There is never any contact, violent or otherwise, between the track embodied electromagnet and the coupler carrier permanent magnet. Because magnetic repulsion is utilized, the magnetic members act upon one another with maximum force at the outset, the force diminishing as these members separate. This is a very desirable relationship because the waning magnetic force is supplemented by acquired momentum. The initial magnitude of the repelling force, moreover, is reduced, not increased, by increased speed of travel of the cars. There can never be damage or derailment, therefore, at the uncoupling station because of the speed at which the train is traveling past the magnetic uncoupler.
Our magnetic coupler does not require that it be a part of the car truck. It may be mounted on a car end, or over the cow catcher at the forward end of a locomotive. This is a particularly advantageous feature when two or more locomotives are coupled to one another at an end of a train. The word "car" as used herein is intended to include a locomotive, tender or any other unitary component of a train.
Addition of the permanent magnets to the coupler knuckles does not in any way diminish or interfere with mechanical operation of the coupler on track equipped with the old, conventional, mechanical type of uncoupling ramp. The modified coupler simply has an added capability. A section of track including the electromagnetic uncoupler can, however, be substituted with advantage in the track.
Other objects and advantages will hereinafter appear.
In the drawing forming part of this specification,
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary view in side elevation showing two coupled freight cars approaching our novel, electromagnetic uncoupler;
FIG. 2 is a similar view showing the couplers over the electromagnetic uncoupler with the uncoupling operation in progress;
FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIGS. 1 and 2 showing the cars uncoupled and separated, the electromagnetic uncoupler being now deenergized;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary plan view, partly diagrammatic, showing the electromagnetic uncoupler and its energizing battery;
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary plan view corresponding essentially to FIG. 3;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view in side elevation showing our improved couplers being mechanically uncoupled by a conventional ramp;
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary detail plan view showing our improved, magnet-equipped knuckle and the mounting therefor;
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary view in side elevation of the structure shown in FIG. 7, the knuckle being shown in full lines in normal position and in broken lines in raised position;
FIG. 9 is an exploded, perspective, fragmentary view of a car truck and coupler assembly; and
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary, assembled, perspective view of the structure shown in FIG. 9.
In FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 two box cars 10 and 12, equipped with couplers 14 and 16, respectively, are shown in association with an electromagnetic uncoupler 18 on trackway 20. In FIG. 1 the cars are connected to one another through the couplers and are being drawn from left to right, as indicated by arrows applied to the cars, with the couplers 14 and 16 approaching the uncoupling station. In FIG. 2 the couplers have reached the uncoupling station and have become uncoupled through a rocking upward of a knuckle 21 (FIGS. 9 and 10) which forms part of the coupler 14.
The uncoupling is effected through magnetic repulsion of like magnetic poles of the coupler 14 and the uncoupler 18.
The uncoupler 18 comprises an electromagnetic coil 22 whose axis extends vertically and near to one of the track rails as clearly seen in FIGS. 4 and 5. An elongated south pole piece 24 of the electromagnet extends near to the lower or righthand rail 25 and parallel to it. The longitudinal center line of the pole piece 24 extends directly over the axis of the coil 22. The electromagnet includes an identical north pole piece (not shown) at its lower end, which is functionally inactive so far as directly influencing the coupler is concerned.
The electromagnet also includes d.c. energizing means which, as shown, takes the form of a battery 26 or the equivalent. A rechargeable d.c. energizer, or a.c. house current, reduced in voltage through a transformer, and rectified through plural diodes, would also be suitable. The electromagnetic circuit as shown includes a conductor 28, the coil 22, conductor 30, a normally open, manually operable switch 31 and a conductor 34. The track includes a suitable foundation structure 35 to which the electromagnet 22 is firmly and fixedly attached for maintaining the relationship above described.
The couplers 14 and 16 are of identical construction. Each includes a normally level, but upwardly rockable, C-shaped knuckle 21, to which is affixed a permanent magnet 36 (FIG. 10) of which elongated upper and lower pole pieces form parts. Since the knuckle is designed to be rocked upward through magnetic repulsion, and the south pole of the electromagnet has been arbitrarily chosen for illustrative purposes as the upper pole, the south pole of the magnet 36 is made the lower pole of that magnet. Like poles are thus placed in directly confronting relation to one another when the leading end of a car passes through the uncoupling station with the coil 22 energized.
If the switch 31 is open the coil 22 is unenergized and the uncoupler is inactive and without effect.
If the switch 31 is closed, however, the electromagnet is energized and the uncoupling action illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 3 is caused to occur.
The uncoupling results because the south pole of the electromagnet, as illustratively disclosed, lies adjacent to the track 38 where the south pole of permanent magnet 36 will pass directly over it. As has been mentioned, the coupler 16 is a duplicate of the coupler 14, but since the couplers 14 and 16 face in opposite directions, the south pole of the magnet carried by the knuckle 21 of coupler 16 will be located near the rail 39 where there is no electromagnetic pole piece. In consequence, the knuckle 21 of coupler 16 remains down, the knuckle 21 of coupler 14 is rocked upward for clearance, and it is because of this relationship that uncoupling occurs.
The couplers 14 and 16 are generally like the standard coupler, differing from that coupler chiefly in the fact that permanent magnets 36 are affixed to the knuckles 21. Each knuckle 21 includes a downwardly extending lifting finger 40 for engaging a manually liftable, mechanical uncoupling ramp 42 (see FIG. 6). They are operable not only in connection with an electromagnetic uncoupler 18 but also with the standard mechanical uncoupler ramp 42 as shown in FIG. 6. The ramp 42 is located near the rail 39 in position to be engaged by the knuckle lifting finger 40 of the coupler 16 when the ramp is manually raised to uncoupling position.
The ramp 42 is mounted for rocking movement on a supporting shaft 44, which shaft may be rotated in opposite directions through a limited range by a crank 46.
The active pole of the magnetic uncoupler has been shown adjacent the rail 25 which is nearer to the observer in FIGS. 1 to 3 so that it is the coupler 14 which is lifted for uncoupling. The uncoupling ramp would desirably be located adjacent to the rail 39 to cause the coupler 16 to be lifted for uncoupling as shown in FIG. 6. This arrangement is desirable where a track layout includes both uncoupler types. Otherwise it is a mere matter of choice.
A complete mirror image of the arrangement shown and described would be equally operative and would simply be another variation within the scope of the invention.
Our magnetic uncoupling system is a decided improvement over the standard, mechanical uncoupling system because:
1. Magnetic repulsion uncoupling involves no forcible clashing of parts, regardless of the speed at which the train is moving;
2. Magnetic repulsion uncoupling is quieter and gentler;
3. Magnetic repulsion uncoupling obviates fine clearances between an uncoupling ramp on the one hand and car tracks or axles on the other.
The use of our couplers, which are for the most part the standard couplers with permanent magnets added, does not, however, restrict the cars to use with our electromagnetic uncoupler. Our cars can also be used with the mechanical uncoupling ramp exactly as before. Something has been added but nothing has been taken away.
There is a further feature of modification embodied in our couplers, however, which is a definite improvement whether the uncoupling is to be magnetic or mechanical.
The standard coupler is generally mounted on a car truck 48 which is attached to the lower side of a car at one end of the car by a vertical bearing pin 50 with freedom to turn on, and relative to, the pin. The truck carries the wheel axles 52 (one shown) and the wheels 54 (two shown in FIG. 9, one in FIG. 10).
The truck also includes, as an integral part 56 thereof, means for rockably mounting the C-shaped knuckle 21. The part 56 includes an inner cavity 58 and an outer cavity 60. The inner cavity 58 includes a pin 62 which, in connection with the standard coupler, is received within the inner end of a spring that thrusts the C-shaped knuckle outward. The spring is discarded when the standard coupler is replaced by our coupler, so that the pin is without function. It is simply shown because it is there. The outer cavity 60 serves as an enclosure for the tail portion of our substitute knuckle 21.
The knuckle 21 is in most respects like the knuckle which it replaces. It has an outer wall which is bounded by upper and lower beveled faces 64 and 66 which meet in a horizontal line. When two couplers of this kind are brought face to face and thrust toward one another, the lower beveled face of one of them rides up and over the upper beveled face of the other and the raised arm then drops into the C-shaped knuckle of the other coupler.
The outer cavity 60 is fully open at the bottom for receiving the tail portion 68 of the knuckle 21. There are a front opening 70 for accommodating the shank 72 of the knuckle 21, and top openings 74 for reception of the reduced upper ends 76 of a retaining clip 78. Shoulders provided on the legs of the clip 78 at the bases of the reduced end portions 76, limit upward movement of the clip, so that when the reduced portions 76 are fully inserted and upset the body portion 80 of the clip forms a solid floor member, defining in the outer recess a chamber of fixed dimensions in which the tail 68 of the knuckle 21 is confined, as seen in FIG. 8 and FIG. 7. The tail of the knuckle 21 is triangular in cross-section. An outer, normally vertical face 82 bears against the inner face of the outer wall of the recess while a lower face 84 having a dimension extending lengthwise of the knuckle and equal to the width of the recess normally stands tilted and very slightly removed from contact with the inner face of the recess. When the knuckle is tilted upward, as shown in broken lines in FIG. 8, the face 84 bears squarely against the floor formed by the clip 78 and is maintained in fixed position against the floor.
We have described what we believe to be the best embodiment of our invention. What we desire to cover by letters patent, however, is set forth in the appended claims.