Title:
Railcar with axle assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A railcar is provided with an axle assembly including first and second axle devices that allow one axle device to move relative to the other axle device. In one embodiment, the first axle device is rigidly secured to the platform and the second axle device is pivotally secured to the platform. The second axle device includes terminal ends for supporting conventional hub and wheel assemblies. A plate extends from the axle device and pivotally attaches to the platform. In another embodiment, the present invention is used in connection with a mobile toilet system supported on the upper side of the platform. The platform is relatively rigid to accommodate for the hard plumbing connections of the mobile toilet system.



Inventors:
Brown, Phillip (Elkhorn, NE, US)
Gilstad, Donald (Omaha, NE, US)
Application Number:
10/973590
Publication Date:
06/30/2005
Filing Date:
10/26/2004
Assignee:
FCM Rail, Ltd.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D15/00; B61F5/02; (IPC1-7): B61D17/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCCARRY JR, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WARNER NORCROSS & JUDD LLP (INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY GROUP 900 FIFTH THIRD CENTER 111 LYON STREET, N.W., GRAND RAPIDS, MI, 49503-2487, US)
Claims:
1. A railcar for transporting equipment by rails, the railcar comprising: a platform for supporting the equipment on rails; a first axle assembly and a second axle assembly having wheels rotatably supported thereon with the first axle assembly rigidly connected to the platform, and a plate extending outwardly from the second axle assembly and pivotally connected to the platform, the second axle assembly movable relative to the first axle assembly for facilitating stabilized movement of the railcar relative to the rails.

2. A railcar as set forth in claim 1 wherein said platform includes a pair of sidewalls, and a pair of cross members connected to and extending between the sidewalls with the cross members being spaced apart to define a gap therein to receive the plate.

3. A railcar as set forth in claim 2 wherein the cross members each include a cross member hole, the cross member holes being aligned.

4. A railcar as set forth in claim 2 wherein the plate includes a plate hole defined therein aligned with the cross member holes.

5. A railcar as set forth in claim 2 including a bolt extending through the cross member holes and the plate hole for facilitating pivotal motion of the second axle assembly relative to the first axle assembly.

6. A railcar as set forth in claim 1 wherein the second axle assembly includes a second tubular member having a pair of second steel shafts extending through a portion of the second tubular member with the second steel shafts presenting terminal ends extending through the second tubular member.

7. A railcar as set forth in claim 6 including a second wheel and hub assembly operably connected to each terminal end.

8. A railcar as set forth in claim 6 wherein the plate includes a length and the second tubular member includes a length, the length of the plate being shorter than the length of the second tubular member.

9. A railcar as set forth in claim 1 wherein the first axle assembly includes a first tubular member having a first steel shaft extending through a portion of the tubular member presenting a terminal end extending from the first tubular member.

10. A railcar as set forth in claim 9 including a first wheel and hub assembly operably connected to the terminal end of each first steel shaft.

11. A railcar as set forth in claim 9 including a pair of spaced plates rigidly connected to the first tubular member for attaching the first tubular member to the platform.

12. A railcar for transporting equipment by rail, said railcar comprising: a cabana; a platform for supporting the cabana with the platform having sidewalls; a second axle assembly and a first axle assembly connected to the platform for holding wheels positioned thereon for moving the railcar, the second axle assembly including a second tubular member having a length and terminal ends, the first axle assembly including a first tubular member having a length and terminal ends; a second wheel and hub assembly operably connected to each of the terminal ends of the second axle assembly; a pair of spaced plates connected to the second tubular member for attaching the second tubular member to the platform; a first wheel and hub assembly operably connected to each of the terminal ends of the first axle assembly; a plate extending from the first tubular member and having a length, the length of the plate being shorter than the length of the first tubular member, the plate including a plate hole defined therein; and a pair of cross members connected to and extending between the sidewalls of the platform with the cross members being spaced one from the other to define a gap to receive the plate, the cross members each including a cross member hole, the cross member holes aligned one with the other whereby the plate is pivotally secured with and relative to said cross members by a bolt extending through the cross member holes and the plate hole for facilitating pivotal motion of the first axle assembly relative to the second axle assembly.

13. The railcar of claim 12 wherein the cabana is attached to the platform by a clamping assembly, wherein a first portion of the clamping assembly is disposed inside the cabana and a second portion of the clamping assembly is disposed outside the cabana and is attached to the platform, at least part of the cabana being sandwiched between the first and second portions of the clamping assembly.

14. The railcar of claim 13 wherein the clamping assembly includes a top plate and a bottom plate, and the cabana includes a floor, the top plate attached to the platform, the floor sandwiched between the top and bottom plates.

15. An axle assembly for maintaining the wheels of a railcar on rails, comprising: a platform; a first axle device rigidly attached to the platform, the first axle device including a first axle and a pair of wheels, the first axle including terminal ends, the wheels attached to the terminal ends and adapted to engage the rails; and a second axle device pivotally secured to the platform, the second axle device including an axle and a pair of wheels, the axle having terminal ends, the wheels attached to the terminal ends and adapted to engage the rails.

16. The axle assembly of claim 15 wherein the platform includes a pair of sidewalls and a first cross member, and the second axle device includes a plate extending from the axle that is pivotally secured to the first cross member.

17. The axle assembly of claim 16 wherein the plate defines a plate hole and the first cross member defines a first cross member hole, the plate pivotally secured to the first cross member by a bolt extending through the plate hole and the first cross member hole.

18. The axle assembly of claim 17 wherein the platform includes a second cross member, the first and second cross members spaced to define a gap therebetween, the first cross member and the second cross member defining a first cross member hole and a second cross member hole, the plate extending into the gap and pivotally secured to the platform by a bolt extending through the first and second cross member holes and the plate hole.

19. The axle assembly of claim 15 wherein the first axle and the second axle each include a tubular member and a pair of shafts, the tubular member including opposite ends, the shafts each including a first portion extending into one of the opposite ends and rigidly attached to the opposite ends, the shafts each including a second portion attached to one of the wheels.

20. The axle assembly of claim 15 wherein the platform includes an upper surface, the upper surface supporting a mobile toilet system.

21. The axle assembly of claim 20 wherein the mobile toilet system includes a cabana for housing a toilet, the cabana including a floor attached to the platform by sandwiching the floor between a lower plate attached to the platform and an upper plate inside the cabana.

Description:

This patent application claims priority from U.S. Provisional patent application No. 60/533,032, filed on Dec. 29, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to railcars, and more particularly to an axle assembly for a railcar.

Railcars generally have a platform including an upper surface and a lower surface. The lower surface attaches to front and rear axle assemblies with terminal ends that support hub and wheel assemblies. The wheels are shaped to engage a set of railroad tracks or rails so the railcar can travel along the rails. The upper surface supports one of a variety of different railcar applications, such as a freight car, flatbed car, or a light duty car.

One factor to account for when designing a railroad car is uneven railroad tracks (i.e. one track is higher or lower than the other). Uneven railroad tracks may be the result of an intended design feature, such as increasing the height of an outer track to prevent the railcar from derailing as it rounds a particularly sharp corner, or they may simply be the result or poor installation or ground settling. In the interest of safety and protection of cargo it is important that railroad cars are designed so that all four wheels remain on the rails at all times.

A number of complicated systems are known for providing to railroad cars in order to keep the wheels on the rails. These systems often include an independent suspension assembly attached to each wheel, such that each wheel can move up and down vertically to accommodate for changes in track height. While these systems work well for a wide variety of railroad car applications, they tend to be overly complicated and expensive for simpler railcar applications. In some cases, this problem can be solved by providing a railcar with a somewhat flexible platform. Instead of requiring a complicated suspension system, these “flexible” railroad cars rely only on the flex of the platform to adjust the wheels to the unevenness of the track. This system is much simpler and much cheaper than the use of complicated suspensions, however, it is not feasible with those railcar applications that require a rigid platform.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The aforementioned problems are overcome by the present invention wherein a railcar is provided with an axle assembly including first and second axle devices that allow one axle device to move relative to the other axle device.

In one embodiment, a first axle device is rigidly secured to the platform and the second axle device is pivotally secured to the platform. The second axle device includes a tubular member with terminal ends that support conventional hub and wheel assemblies. A plate extends from the tubular member and attaches to the platform such that the tubular member can pivot with respect to the platform. The plate may extend between a pair of cross members on the platform, and may pivotally attach to the platform by a bolt that extends through holes in the walls and the plate.

In another embodiment, the present invention is used in connection with a mobile toilet system. The mobile toilet system includes a toilet and sanitation system supported on the upper side of the platform. The platform is relatively rigid to accommodate for the hard plumbing connections of the mobile toilet system.

The movement of the second axle device relative to the first axle device allows all four wheels of the railroad car to maintain engagement with uneven railroad tracks. The attachment of the second axle device to the platform with a plate and a single bolt is much simpler and cost effective than previous suspension systems, while allowing the platform to be comprised of relatively rigid material.

These and other objects, advantages, and features of the invention will be more fully understood and appreciated by reference to the detailed description of the current embodiment and the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a railroad car in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows an exploded view of the platform and front and rear axle devices;

FIG. 3 shows cross sectional view of the rear axle device;

FIG. 4 shows a cross sectional view of the front axle device;

FIG. 5 shows a front view of a portion of the front axle device;

FIG. 6 shows a side view of the railroad car;

FIG. 7 shows a cross sectional view of the rear axle device pivotally connected to the platform.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE CURRENT EMBODIMENT

For purposes of illustration, the present invention will be shown and described in detail according to one particular embodiment of the railroad car, wherein the railroad car is equipped with a portable toilet system. It should be known, however, that the present invention is applicable to a wide variety of railroad car applications where it is desirable to have a simple, cost effective means for keeping the wheels on the rails.

Referring to FIGS. 1 through 4, the railroad car or railcar 10 includes a platform 12 having upper 14 and lower, i.e. bottom 15 sides, terminal ends 16, 17 and sidewalls 18, 20. The upper side 14 of the platform 12 is set-up to support the toilet system 13 and includes a V-shaped supports 22 spaced one from the other. The V-shaped supports 22 extend upwardly from each of the sidewalls 18, 20. The V-shaped supports 22 include a ladder 26 at the sidewall 18. The platform 12 includes a deck 30 extending from the V-shaped support 22 in a cantilevered fashion. The deck 30 is designed to hold a water tank 32 and other components of a sanitation system (not shown) and storage boxes 33. The platform 12 includes a railing defining an entrance, generally shown at 36, at the terminal end 17. The bottom 15 of the platform 12 supports axles and hub assemblies, generally indicated at 42 in FIGS. 1 and 6, discussed in details further below, located in the lower right and left sides at the terminal ends 16, 17. The axle and hub assemblies 42 support wheels 44 for transporting the platform 12 and portable toilet system 13.

The portable toilet system 13 includes a cabana 50 disposed on the platform 12 between the V-shaped supports 22. The cabana 50 includes two molded side panels 52, 54, a molded rear panel 56, a door 60 pivotally connected to a door frame (not shown), and a floor 62 having an aperture 64 defined therein. As shown in the illustrated embodiment, the cabana 50 is connected to the platform 12 by a clamping assembly, generally indicated at 70. The clamping assembly 70 includes a bottom plate 72 of a generally rectangular configuration having an aperture defined therein, a top plate 74 having configuration complementary to the floor 62 and an aperture defined therein. The clamping assembly 70 includes tubular members 76 and angle members 77 disposed within the apertures of the top plate 74 and bottom plate 72 plate. The bottom plate 72 is rigidly attached to the platform 12, for instance, to cross members 24 on the platform 12. The tubular members 76 are connected to the bottom plate 72 and they extend upwardly from the bottom plate 72. The tubular members 76 are aligned within the aperture 64 defined in the floor 62 of the cabana 50. The top plate 74 is laid onto the floor 62 inside the cabana 50 to receive the angular members 77 extending through the platform 12, and the aperture 64 of the floor 62, thereby engaging the floor 62 in a sandwiched relationship between the bottom plate 72 and top plate 74 of the clamping assembly 70. The tubular members 76 may additionally attach to a toilet 80 to add force to the clamping engagement of the plates 72, 74 and the floor 62 sandwiched therebetween. While the drawings show a particular embodiment of the toilet system 13 attached to the platform 12 with the clamping system 70, it should be recognized that the toilet system 13 may be attached to the platform 12 in many different arrangements, such as by bolting the toilet system 13 onto the upper surface 14 of the platform 12.

Referring to FIGS. 2 through 5, the axle assemblies 42 include a rear axle device 82 and a front axle device 84. As shown in FIG. 2, the rear axle device 82 is pivotally attached to the platform 12, and the front axle device 84 is rigidly attached to the platform 12. In an alternative embodiment, the front axle device 84 may pivotally attach to the platform 12 and the rear axle device 82 may be stationary with respect to the platform 12. The rear axle device 82 includes a tubular member 86, and a pair of stub shafts 88. The stub shafts 88 are generally steel rods, each having a portion extending into opposite ends 90, 92 of the tubular member 86 that is rigidly attached to the tubular member 86. The tubular member 86 may include rosette holes 87 (as shown in FIG. 5 in connection with the front axle device 84) near each end 90, 92 for attaching the tubular member 86 to the stub shafts 88 with a conventional rosette weld. The stub shafts 88 may each include a terminal ends 95 extending outside the tubular member 86 that includes a threaded spindle portion 93 to operably connect with a wheel and hub assembly, generally shown at 94 in FIG. 2. The wheel and hub assembly 94 is generally conventional, and therefore will not be described in great detail. Suffice it to say that the assembly 94 includes one of the wheels 44, a nut 46, a washer 48, an outer bearing 43, a hub 45, an inner bearing 47, and a seal 49. The assemblies 94 fit together to attach to each stub shaft 88, such that each hub 45 and wheel 44 can rotate about the stub shaft 88. The wheel 44 is adapted to engage and ride on a set of rails 11, for instance, by including a flange 51 extending from the wheel 44 about the circumference of the wheel 44 to engage the rails 11.

The tubular member 86 additionally includes a plate 96 that extends from the tubular member 86. The plate 96 may be formed integrally with the tubular member 86, or it may be conventionally attached to the tubular member 86 as a separate piece. The plate 96 may have a length shorter than the length of the tubular member 86. The plate 96 includes a plate hole 97 defined therein. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the rear axle device 82 is operably connected to the platform 12 through a pair of cross members 98, 100 connected to and extending generally perpendicularly between the sidewalls 18, 20 of the platform 12. The cross members 98, 100 are spaced one from the other to define a gap 102 therein to receive the plate 96. The cross members 98, 100 include respective cross member holes 104, 106 aligned one with the other. The plate 96 is pivotally secured with the cross members 98, 100 by a bolt 108 extending through the cross member holes 104, 106 and the plate hole 97 and into a nut 107. The bolt 108 and nut 107 may include a pair of steel washers 110 and a pair of brass washers 112, extending between the bolt 108 and cross members 98, 100 and between the plate 96 and the cross members 98, 100. Alternatively, the plate 96 may pivotally attach to only one of the cross members 98 or 100, or the rear axle device 82 may be pivotally attached to the platform 12 by an alternative method, such as a bolt that extends directly from the tubular member 86 and into one or both of the cross member holes 104, 106.

As shown in FIGS. 2, 4, and 5, the front axle device 84 is similar to the rear axle device 82. The front axle device 84 includes a tubular member 116 having stub shafts 118 extending out of each of the opposite ends 120, 122 of the tubular member 116. The stub shafts 118 may each include a terminal end 133 with a threaded spindle portion 137 that is operably connected to one of the wheel and hub assemblies (not shown). Unlike the rear axle device 82, the tubular member 116 of the front axle device 84 includes a first plate 124 and a second plate 126 that may be spaced apart and are attached with a weld 141, or another conventional attachment, to the tubular member 116. The first plate 124 and second plate 126 are rigidly attached to corresponding plates 125, 127 on the sidewalls 18, 20 of the platform 12, for example, by a nut 129, and bolt 131. The front axle device 84 is thereby rigidly secured to the platform 12, as opposed to the rear axle device 82, which is pivotally secured to the platform 12.

In operation, the railcar 10 is placed on a set of conventional railroad tracks or rails 11, such that the wheels 44 of the railcar 10 each engage the rails 11. The railcar 10 is moved along the rails 11 by conventional connection to another railcar (not shown) with driving capabilities, or by including engine means on the railcar 10 for driving the railcar 10. The wheels 44 roll along the rail 11 attached to the stub shafts 88 and 118 of each of the axle devices 82, 84 rotating within their respective tubular members 86, 116. As shown in FIG. 7, in situations where the rails 11 are uneven, the rear axle device 82 can pivot relative to the platform 12 to allow the wheels 44 attached to the rear axle 82 to remain in contact with the rails 11. In a preferred embodiment, the plate 96 has enough height to accommodate for the pivot of the rear axle device through all railroad track conditions. The rear axle device 82 can move in a pivotal motion in either direction about the bolt 108 attached through the plate 96 and the cross members 98, 100. The wheels 44 attached to the front axle device 84 also remain in contact with the rails because of the pivot of the wheels 44 on the rear axle device 82.

The above descriptions are those of a current embodiment of the invention. Various alterations and changes can be made without departing from the spirit and broader aspects of the invention, which are to be interpreted in accordance with the principles of patent law including the Doctrine of Equivalents.