Title:
Anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism for gear operated door
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A railcar door assembly includes a drive mechanism operably connected to elongated support members for selectively imparting rotational movement thereto, and a anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism for preventing movement of the drive mechanism beyond defined limits. The drive mechanism includes a gear segment mounted on a bearing plate, and the anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism is comprised of a shaft, a pair of ratchets at opposing ends of the shaft, and a pinion disposed on the shaft between the ratchets with the pinion engaging the gear segment. The pinion is rotated until it engages one of the ratchets for permitting the door to move to a fully opened position and preventing it from moving to a closed position. This arrangement effectively prevents undesired drifting of the door into the side of the railcar itself. Conversely, the pinion is rotated in the opposite direction to engage the other of the ratchets for permitting the door to move to a fully closed position and preventing it from moving to an open position. This prevents a lever which rotates the gear segment from unnecessary spinning.



Inventors:
Nottingham, Scot J. (Greenville, PA, US)
Application Number:
09/896175
Publication Date:
01/02/2003
Filing Date:
06/29/2001
Assignee:
YSD Industries, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
105/378
International Classes:
B61D19/00; E05D15/10; (IPC1-7): B61D9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JULES, FRANTZ F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
James W. McKee (FAY, SHARPE, FAGAN, MINNICH & McKEE, LLP 1100 Superior Avenue, Seventh Floor, Cleveland, OH, 44114-2518, US)
Claims:

Having thus described the preferred embodiments, the invention is now claimed to be:



1. A railcar door assembly comprising: at least one sheet member defining a front surface; at least one elongated support member rotatably mounted to said front surface; a drive mechanism operably connected to said elongated support member for rotating said support member about its length; and, an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism for preventing movement of said drive mechanism when said door is in one of a fully opened or fully closed positions, said mechanism being mounted on said sheet member adjacent said drive mechanism.

2. The railcar door assembly of claim 1, wherein said drive mechanism comprises a gear segment, said gear segment being mounted on a bearing plate located on said front surface of said sheet member.

3. The railcar door assembly of claim 2, wherein said anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism comprises a shaft, a first ratchet positioned on a first end of said shaft, a second ratchet positioned on a second end of said shaft, and a pinion mounted on said shaft between said ratchets which moves between said first ratchet and said second ratchet.

4. The railcar door assembly of claim 3, further comprising a cover plate spaced from and mounted to said bearing plate, wherein said gear segment and said anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism are interposed between said bearing plate and said cover plate.

5. The railcar door assembly of claim 3, further comprising an operating mechanism operably connected to said drive mechanism for selectively rotating said drive mechanism.

6. The railcar door of claim 5, wherein said operating mechanism comprises a lever secured to said shaft of said anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism.

7. The railcar door of claim 6, further comprising at least one transmission member connected at a first end to said drive mechanism and at a second end to said elongated support member.

8. The railcar door assembly of claim 7, wherein rotation of said lever rotates said gear segment for causing rotation of said transmission member and said support member.

9. The railcar door assembly of claim 8, wherein when said railcar door is moved to a fully opened position, said pinion engages said first ratchet and said gear segment allowing rotation of said gear segment to open said door and preventing opposite rotation of said gear segment to close said door, thus preventing drifting of said door.

10. The railcar assembly of claim 8, wherein when said railcar door is moved to a fully closed position, said pinion engages said second ratchet and said gear segment, thus allowing rotation of said gear segment to close said door and preventing opposite rotation of said gear segment to open said door, thus preventing spinning of said lever.

11. A railcar door assembly comprising: at least one sheet member comprising a front surface; at least one channel disposed laterally across said front surface of said sheet member; at least one elongated support member rotatably mounted to said channel via a mounting mechanism, said support member comprising at least one rotatable member attached to an end of said support member; a gear segment operably connected to said elongated support member for rotating said support member, said gear segment being mounted on a bearing plate located on said sheet member front surface; an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism for preventing movement of said gear segment when said door is shifted to one of a predetermined fully opened position and a fully closed position, said mechanism comprising a threaded shaft, a first ratchet mounted on a first end of said shaft, a second ratchet mounted on a second end of said shaft, and a pinion which is threadably mounted on said shaft between said ratchets; and, a cover plate mounted in spaced relation to said bearing plate, wherein said gear segment and said anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism are interposed between said bearing and cover plates.

12. The railcar door of claim 11, further comprising an operating mechanism comprising a lever operably connected to said gear segment for rotating said gear segment.

13. The railcar door assembly of claim 12, wherein said operating mechanism is rotated to rotate said gear segment, and said pinion is rotated to engage said gear segment and said first ratchet, thus permitting rotation of said gear segment to open said railcar door and preventing rotation of said gear segment to close said door, thus preventing drifting of said door.

14. The railcar door assembly of claim 12, wherein said operating mechanism is rotated to rotate said gear segment, said pinion is rotated to engage said gear segment and said second ratchet, thus permitting rotation of said gear segment to close said railcar door and preventing rotation of said gear segment to open said door, thus preventing spinning of said lever.

15. The railcar door assembly of claim 11, wherein said at least one rotatable member comprises a crank with at least one roller attached at one end thereof.

16. The railcar door assembly of claim 15, wherein said at least one roller is mounted on an associated track of a railcar for moving said railcar door along said track.

17. An anti-drift/anti-spin locking assembly for use in an associated railcar door system including a bearing plate located on a front surface of a door, a cover plate mounted in spaced relation to said bearing plate, and a gear segment mounted to said bearing plate in interposed relation between said bearing and cover plates with said gear segment selectively rotating said door to a fully opened or fully closed position, said locking assembly comprising: a shaft, a first ratchet mounted at a first end of said shaft, a second ratchet mounted at a second end of said shaft and a pinion threadably mounted on said shaft between said ratchets, said locking assembly mounted between the bearing and cover plates of the associated door system.

18. The railcar door assembly of claim 17, wherein said pinion is rotated to engage said gear segment and said first ratchet, thus permitting rotation of said gear segment to open said railcar door and preventing rotation of said gear segment to close said door, thus preventing drifting of said door.

19. The railcar door assembly of claim 17, wherein said pinion is rotated to engage said gear segment and said second ratchet, thus permitting rotation of said gear segment to close said railcar door and preventing rotation of said gear segment to open said door, thus preventing spinning of an associated lever of said door.

20. An anti-drift/anti-spin locking assembly for use with an associated railcar door system including a bearing plate located on a front surface of a door, a cover plate mounted in spaced relation to said bearing plate, and a gear segment mounted to said bearing plate in interposed relation between said bearing and cover plates with said gear segment selectively rotating said door to one of fully opened and fully closed positions, said locking assembly comprising: a shaft, a first ratchet mounted at a first end of said shaft, a second ratchet mounted at a second end of said shaft, and a pinion threadably mounted on said shaft between said ratchets, said locking assembly mounted between the bearing and cover plates of the associated door system, wherein said pinion is rotated in a first direction to engage said gear segment and said first ratchet to permit rotation of said gear segment for opening the door of the system and prevent rotation of said gear segment to close the door to thereby control drifting of the door, and wherein said pinion is rotated in a second direction to engage said gear segment and said second ratchet to permit rotation of said gear segment to close said railcar door and prevent rotation of said gear segment to open the door to thereby control spinning of an associated lever of the door.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to the art of railway cars. More particularly, the invention pertains to an anti-spin and anti-drift mechanism for gear operated doors for railway cars.

[0002] The invention is particularly applicable to plug-type metal doors of the type used on railway freight cars and will be particularly described with reference thereto. However, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the invention has broader applications and is adaptable to use on doors used in other environments.

[0003] Rectangular metal doors of a known type used in railway cars include a generally rectangular frame generally comprised of top, bottom, and opposed side members. Metal panels are secured to these frame members for completing the basic door construction. In most conventional railway cars, the frame members and metal panels are riveted and/or welded together.

[0004] Railcar doors are typically classified as either sliding doors or plug doors. Of the two, sliding doors are less complex, merely having a door configured to slide back and forth within a side panel of a railcar to selectively open and close an opening defined therein. Plug doors are more complex in that they are configured to first move laterally outward from the opening defined in the railcar, and then move longitudinally along a track disposed adjacent the railcar side panel. The present invention finds particular application to plug-type doors. However, it should be understood that the concept involved is equally applicable to other environments where selective movement of large doors between open and closed positions is required.

[0005] Plug doors to be mounted on the side of a railcar typically include a series of panels or sheeting reinforced by horizontally disposed channels at the top, bottom and intermediate portions of the door. A pair of vertically oriented elongated support members such as pipes, rods or bars are configured to support the door on the railcar. The support members are typically provided with upper and lower cranks attached to the ends thereof which serve as lever arms for laterally moving the door into and out of the railcar door opening. Upon actuation of a driving means, such as a manually operated gear assembly, the support members are rotated causing corresponding rotation of the cranks. Rotation of the cranks, in turn, draws the door laterally outward from the door opening until the door is supported on a track disposed adjacent the side of the railcar. The door is moveably supported on the track by roller hangers which enable the door to slide longitudinally along the side of the railcar.

[0006] One problem that occurs when the door is completely closed is that if a load falls against the inside wall of the door, an operating lever which controls movement of the door may spin and possibly move the door into an unwanted slightly or fully opened position.

[0007] A second problem occurs when the door is in the fully opened position. The support members have a tendency to rotate, thus causing the door to drift back into the side of the railcar. If this occurs, the ability of the door to slide longitudinally along the track may be inhibited. Furthermore, the door or the side of the railcar may become damaged because of the drifting action.

[0008] Accordingly, it has been considered desirable to develop an anti-spin and anti-drift mechanism for a gear-operated door that addresses the foregoing difficulties and others while providing better and more advantageous overall results.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] In accordance with the present invention, an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism for a gear-operated door is advantageously provided.

[0010] The anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism is particularly suited for use with a railcar door assembly comprised of at least one sheet member having a front surface, laterally disposed channels disposed on the sheet member front surface, and a pair of elongated support members rotatably mounted to the channels via a mounting mechanism. Each support member includes a first rotatable member attached to a support member first end, and a second rotatable member attached to a support member second end. A drive mechanism is operably connected to the pair of elongated support members for selectively imparting rotational movement thereto.

[0011] The first and second rotatable members may each comprise a crank with a roller assembly attached at one end thereof. The rollers, in turn, are mounted on the track of an associated railcar to facilitate movement of the railcar door therealong.

[0012] An operating mechanism is operably connected to the drive mechanism for selectively imparting rotation thereto. The operating mechanism comprises an activating member, such as a handle or the like, secured to the shaft. An anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism for preventing movement of the operating mechanism is mounted to the activating member. A pair of transmission members are connected at a first end to the drive mechanism and at a second end to one of the elongated support members.

[0013] The drive mechanism may comprise a gear segment. This gear segment is mounted on a bearing plate located on the sheet member. The drive mechanism further includes a pair of operating cams operably connected to both the gear segment and the transmission members. Rotation of the activating member or handle rotates the gear segment, thus causing rotation of the transmission and support members.

[0014] The anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism comprises an operating shaft, a pinion and a pair of ratchets. The mechanism is captured between the bearing plate and a cover plate which is spaced apart from and mounted to the bearing plate. The mechanism is attached to the operating lever by threading the lever onto the operating shaft. One of the ratchets prevents unwanted drifting of the door from a fully opened position to a closed position. The other ratchet prevents unwanted spinning of the operating lever to cause movement of the door from a fully closed to an unwanted partially or fully opened position.

[0015] A principal advantage of the present invention resides in the provision of an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism for restricting a movable door from undesired and uncontrolled drifting into the side of an associated railcar.

[0016] Another advantage of the invention is found in the provision of an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism which prevents an operating lever of the door from spinning if a load falls against an inner surface of the door.

[0017] Yet another advantage of the present invention is the provision of an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism which prevents the door from unwanted movement from a closed position to an open position.

[0018] Still another advantage of the invention is found in the provision of an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism that enables the door to slide along a door track with minimal difficulty.

[0019] Yet another advantage of the present invention is the provision of an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism that helps prevent damage to a door and/or the side of a railcar due to door drifting.

[0020] Still another advantage of the invention resides in the provision of an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism that is relatively low in cost.

[0021] Yet another advantage of the invention is the provision of an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism that is easy to manufacture and retro-fit onto existing railcar doors.

[0022] Still other benefits and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon a reading and understanding of the following detailed specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0023] The invention may take physical form in certain parts and arrangements of parts, a preferred embodiment of which will be described in detail in this specification and illustrated in the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof and wherein:

[0024] FIG. 1A is a front elevational view of a railcar door having the anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism installed thereon;

[0025] FIG. 1B is an enlarged elevational view of the encircled area of FIG. 1A showing an operating cam assembly for the railcar door;

[0026] FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of a portion of the railcar door illustrating a drive gear mechanism and an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism formed in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0027] FIG. 3A is an elevational view of the subject new anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism; and,

[0028] FIG. 3B is a cross-sectional view of the anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism taken along lines A-A of FIG. 3A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0029] Referring now to the drawings wherein the showings are for purposes of illustrating a preferred embodiment of the invention only and not for limiting same, FIG. 1A shows a plug-type railcar door 10 disposed in an opening 12 in a railcar in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention. The door includes a wall of paneling or sheeting 14 reinforced with horizontal channels 16 extending across top, bottom and intermediate portions of the sheeting. The sheeting 14 is typically fabricated from corrugated metal.

[0030] The door 10 is supported by a pair of elongated support members 18, such as pipes, rods or tubes, which are disposed along the vertical height of the door. The support members are rotatably mounted to the horizontal reinforcing channels 16 on an outer surface 19 of the door via brackets or fulcrums 21 located near the side edges of the door to retain the support members in a vertical disposition.

[0031] Each of the support members 18 includes a first or upper end having a first or upper crank 20a operatively connected thereto and a second or lower end having a second or lower crank 20b operatively connected thereto. The cranks 20a, 20b serve as lever arms which enable the door to move laterally into and out of the railcar opening 12. The door 10 is adapted to move laterally out of the door opening toward the outside of the railcar until the door is supported on a track 22 disposed adjacent the railcar side wall. The door moves longitudinally along the side of the car on track 22 to effectively open the door opening to facilitate car loading and unloading. Thus, when it is in the unplugged position, the door is movably supported on the track 22 by roller hangers 24 which are attached to the ends of the lower cranks 20b for guiding the door during its longitudinal movement.

[0032] Upper ends of cranks 20a include pins with rollers 28 mounted for longitudinal movement within and along a top retainer rail or longitudinal retainer member 30 having a generally c-shaped cross-section. The top retainer rail 30 is mounted along the top of the door opening 12 and functions to restrain the top of the door and prevent its undesirable displacement. Rollers 28 move along an inner surface of a downwardly depending front flange 32 of the top retainer rail. The front flange extends longitudinally and is located inside an outer edge of a laterally outward extending lower flange 34 spaced from and located below the front flange. Horizontal connecting portions 36, 38 of upper cranks 20a extend through the space between front flange 32 and lower flange 34, and connect the upper ends of the cranks and their rollers 28 with the upper ends of support members 18. The rollers 28 are disposed behind the retainer rail 30. The combination of the rollers 28 and the retainer rail 30 acts to restrain the top of the car door 10 as it is moved longitudinally along the track 22.

[0033] Mounted on the top of the door between the pair of upper cranks 20a is an auxiliary crank 42. The purpose of the auxiliary crank is to restrain the door against undesired displacement in the event it becomes disengaged from track 22 or is damaged in a manner which makes reliance on the upper cranks 20a difficult.

[0034] As is well understood in the art, rotation of the support members 18 will cause a corresponding outward rotation of the cranks 20a, 20b to sequentially draw the door 10 laterally outward from the door opening. An operating mechanism 50 is provided on the door for controlling the rotation of the support members 18 and the cranks. An activating member 54 in the form of a lever with a hole or opening 56 therethrough is secured to the door.

[0035] Referring to FIGS. 1A and 2, a drive mechanism 60 which preferably comprises a gear operated system or assembly 62 is connected to and actuated via the activating member or lever 54. The gear assembly includes a gear segment 64 and two operating cams 66, 68, each of which is housed in and positioned between a bearing plate 70 and a cover plate 72 (FIG. 2). The bearing plate 70 is mounted on a lower portion of the door sheeting 14, and the cover plate is bolted or otherwise mounted into the bearing plate. The cover plate is disposed parallel to and in spaced relation from the bearing plate.

[0036] Referring to FIG. 1A, a pair of transmission members 110, such as pipes, rods or tubes, are connected at first ends to the drive mechanism 60 and at second ends to support members 18. The transmission members are connected to operating cams 66, 68 of the gear assembly 62. By rotating the lever 54 counter-clockwise, the gear segment 64 is rotated clockwise which, in turn, rotates the operating cams 66, 68 which are connected to and rotate the transmission members 110. This, then, imparts a corresponding rotation to the support members 18 and cranks 20a, 20b which, in turn, provides selective lateral movement of the door outwardly from the opening 12 toward the outside of the railcar.

[0037] When the lever 54 is rotated clockwise, the gear segment 64 rotates counter-clockwise to rotate operating cams 66, 68 and transmission members 110. This, in turn, rotates the support members 18 and cranks 20a, 20b to provide lateral movement of the door 10 into the opening 12 of the railcar. Such movement allows the door to seal or plug the opening.

[0038] The channels 16 are operatively connected at their axial ends to opposed vertical members 112. A pair of locking rods 114 extend horizontally across the railcar door and are configured to be received in openings 116 in the car. While the door is in the closed position, and as shown in FIG. 1A, the locking rods 114 extend into openings 116, thereby preventing lateral movement of the door.

[0039] With reference to FIG. 1B, the locking rods are split at an intermediate portion and are interconnected via operating cams or links 118 and an operating bar 120. The operating bar is coupled to the drive mechanism 60 which, when actuated, causes cams or links 118 to rotate about pivot joints 122, 124. Such rotation of the cams pulls the locking rods 114 from openings 116 and places the door in an unlocked position where it is free to move in the lateral direction.

[0040] Referring to FIGS. 1A, 2, 3A and 3B, an anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism 130 is positioned between the cover and bearing plates. An operating shaft 132 of the mechanism has a threaded member 134 which is threaded through an opening in the cover plate. Operating lever 54 is attached to the anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism by inserting a shoulder 136 on the operating shaft 132 through hole 56 of the lever. A locknut or other retaining device (not shown) retains the lever on the operating shaft.

[0041] The anti-spin/anti-drift mechanism further includes a pinion segment 138 which is located between two ratchet assemblies 140, 142. The pinion segment has a threaded opening which threadedly receives the shaft 132. The pinion member can then move along the shaft between the two ratchets. Ratchet assembly 140 is positioned on a first end of the shaft 132 adjacent the cover plate, and ratchet assembly 142 is positioned on a second end of the shaft adjacent the bearing plate. The ratchet assemblies 140, 142 are approximately parallel to and in spaced relation from each other.

[0042] Flanges 144, 146 (FIG. 3B) are disposed adjacent opposite the ratchet assemblies. Four pins 148 connect the flanges and operating shaft together. A pawl 150 located adjacent the cover plate engages ratchet 140 which allows movement of the ratchet and the lever in the counterclockwise direction to open the door. This pawl allows the ratchet to freely rotate during opening of the door when the operating lever is rotated.

[0043] During closing of the door, the lever is rotated clockwise about 15° to 20°, rotating the shaft and the pinion toward the flange 146, until the pinion bottoms out. The pinion then rotates the gear segment, thus closing the door. The pinion also engages or clamps onto the ratchet 142. A pawl 152 located adjacent the bearing plate engages ratchet 142 which allows the ratchet to rotate clockwise during closing of the door. The pawl 152 does not permit the ratchet to rotate in the opposite direction, thus preventing spinning of the lever. If a load is applied to an internal wall of the door, the gear segment has a tendency to rotate, thus attempting to force the pinion to also rotate possibly causing the lever 54 to spin out of control and cause a dangerous or damaging situation. However, the pinion would then bottom out against flange 144 faster than the lever can spin or rotate, thus avoiding a dangerous or damaging situation.

[0044] If opening of the door is desired, the lever 54 is manually rotated counterclockwise, thus rotating the pinion and disengaging the pinion from ratchet 142. The pinion then rotates toward ratchet 140 until it bottoms out against flange 144. The pinion then engages ratchet 140, and the gear and pinion rotate counterclockwise until the door is fully opened. Pawl 150 engages the ratchet and allows only counterclockwise rotation. Once the door is moved on the track 22, the support members 18 have a tendency to rotate, thus rotating the cranks 20a, 20b and thereby potentially allowing the door to move toward the side of the railcar. If the gear starts to rotate clockwise to close the door, the ratchet and pawl stop the rotation. Drifting of the door into the side of the railcar is thereby prevented.

[0045] The invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiments. Obviously, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon a reading and understanding of this specification. The invention is intended to include all such modifications and alterations in so far as they come within the broad meaning and scope of the appended claims.