Title:
Over Center Lock Indicator For Railway Car Door Operation Mechanism
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A railway car and indicator operable to show the status of at least one component of an associated discharge control system. The railway car may have at least one hopper for transporting lading. A respective door assembly may be mounted adjacent to a discharge opening formed proximate a lower portion of the hopper to control the flow of lading from the hopper. The discharge control system may move each door assembly between a first position and a second position relative to the discharge opening. The indicator may extend from at least one side of the railway car to indicate the status of the at least one component of the associated discharge control system.



Inventors:
Creighton, George S. (Double Oak, TX, US)
Herzog, John C. (Westchester, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/548492
Publication Date:
04/12/2007
Filing Date:
10/11/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D7/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCCARRY JR, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAKER BOTTS L.L.P. (2001 ROSS AVENUE SUITE 900, DALLAS, TX, 75201-2980, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A railway car having an underframe and at least one hopper for transporting lading, the railway car comprising: the underframe including a center sill; at least one discharge opening formed proximate a lower portion of the hopper; a respective door assembly mounted on the center sill adjacent to each discharge opening to control discharge of lading from the hopper; a discharge control system operable to move each door assembly between a first, closed position and a second, open position relative to the respective discharge opening; the discharge control system including a power source, a primary linkage and at least one secondary linkage assembly; the power source operable to move the primary linkage and the at least one secondary linkage assembly between a respective first position and a respective second position relative to the center sill; an indicator assembly operably coupled to the primary linkage to extend and retract at least one indicator from at least one side of the railway car as the primary linkage moves between the respective first position and the respective second position; and a portion of the indicator visible from the at least one side of the railway car when the primary linkage moves to either the respective first position or the respective second position.

2. The railway car of claim 1 further comprising an open hopper car.

3. The railway car of claim 1 further comprising a closed hopper car.

4. The railway car of claim 1 wherein the power source for the discharge control system further comprises an air cylinder coupled to the underframe.

5. The railway car of claim 1, wherein the indicator assembly further comprises a pair of indicators operable to move between first, retracted positions and second, extend positions.

6. The railway car of claim 1, wherein the indicator assembly further comprises: an operating rod slidably coupled with the center sill and operable to move in response to movement of the primary linkage; the operating rod coupled with a pivot plate and operable to rotate the pivot plate in response to movement of the primary linkage; and the at least one indicator engaged with the pivot plate whereby movement of the primary linkage between a first position and a second position results in movement of the pivot plate to extend and retract the at least one indicator from the at least one side of the railway car.

7. The railway car of claim 6, further comprising: the pivot plate having a first position corresponding with a first, retracted position for the indicator; and the pivot plate having a second position corresponding with a second extended position of the indicator.

8. The railway car of claim 6 further comprising a spring coupled with the pivot plate to extend the indicator from the at least one side of the railway car when the primary linkage moves from its first position to its second position.

9. The railway car of claim 1 further comprising a highly visible coloration disposed on the portion of the at least one indicator extending from the at least one side of the railway car.

10. A railway car having an underframe and at least one hopper for transporting lading comprising: the underframe having a center sill which defines in part a longitudinal axis of the railway car; at least one longitudinal discharge opening formed proximate a lower portion of the hopper; a respective longitudinal door assembly mounted adjacent to the respective longitudinal discharge opening to control discharge of lading from the hopper; each longitudinal door assembly operable for movement between a first, closed position and a second, open position relative to the respective discharge opening; a discharge control system including a power source, a primary linkage and at least one respective secondary linkage assembly extending between the primary linkage and each longitudinal door assembly; the power source operable to move the primary linkage and each secondary linkage assembly from respective first positions corresponding generally with the first, closed position of each longitudinal door assembly and respective second positions corresponding generally with the second, open position of each longitudinal door assembly; an indicator assembly coupled to the primary linkage and operable to extend and retract at least one indicator from at least one side of the railway car as the primary linkage moves between the respective first position and the respective second position; and a portion of the at least one indicator visible from the at least one side of the railway car when the primary linkage moves to either of the first position or the second position.

11. The railway car of claim 10 further comprising an open hopper car.

12. The railway car of claim 10 further comprising a closed hopper car.

13. The railway car of claim 10, wherein the power source for the discharge control system further comprises: an air cylinder operably coupled with one end of the primary linkage; and the indicator assembly operably coupled to the primary linkage opposite from the air cylinder.

14. The railway car of claim 10, wherein the indicator assembly further comprises a pair of indicators operable to move between first, retracted positions to second, extend positions.

15. The railway car of claim 10, wherein the indicator assembly further comprises: an operating rod slidably coupled with the primary linkage and operable to move in response to movement of the primary linkage; the operating rod coupled with a pivot plate and operable to rotate the pivot plate in response to movement of the primary linkage; a pair of indicators engaged with the pivot plate; the pivot plate and the attached indicators having a first position with one end of each indicator retracted from the respective side of the railway car; and the pivot plate and the attached indicators having a second position corresponding with the one end of each indicator extending from the respective side of the railway car assembly.

16. The railway car of claim 15, further comprising: the operating rod operable to allow a spring to move the pivot plate and indicators from their first position to their second position; and the operating rod operable to move the pivot plate and the indicators from their second position to their first position in response to the primary linkage moving from its first position to its second position.

17. The railway car of claim 10 further comprising: a head disposed on one end of the primary linkage opposite from the power source; a bracket attached to the head and extending therefrom; a generally hollow sleeve attached with one end of the bracket opposite from the head; the operating rod slidably disposed in the hollow sleeve; and a nut securely engaged with the operating rod to hold the operating rod in a first position when the primary linkage is in its first position and the nut spaced from the hollow sleeve to allow longitudinal movement of the operating rod relative to the hollow sleeve when the primary linkage is in its second position.

18. The railway car of claim 10 further comprising: a pivot plate coupled with and extending from the center sill; and rotation of the pivot plate operable to translate longitudinal movement of the primary linkage relative to the center sill into lateral movement of the at least one indicator relative to the center sill.

19. A method of indicating status of a discharge control system associated with a railway car, comprising: moving a primary linkage between a first position and a second position using the discharge control system; rotating a pivot plate between a first position and a second position in response to movement of the primary linkage; and extending and retracting a portion of an indicator from at least one side of the railway car in response to rotation of the pivot plate.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising moving the primary linkage to release an operating rod and allow a spring to rotate the pivot plate and extend the portion of the indicator from the at least one side of a railway car.

21. The method of claim 19, further comprising retracting the portion of the indicator from the at least one side of the railway car when at least one component of the discharge control system is in a locked position.

22. The method of claim 19, further comprising extending the portion of the indicator from the at least one side of the railway car when at least one component of the discharge control system is in an unlocked position.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/727,970 filed Oct. 18, 2005, entitled “Over Center Lock Indicator for Railway Car Door Operation Mechanism.”

This application is Continuation-in-Part application of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/182,975 filed Jul. 15, 2005 entitled “Safety Latch Lock Indicator For Railcar Door Operation Mechanism,” which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/600,290 filed Aug. 10, 2004.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure is related in general to an indicator for railway cars and more particularly to an indicator assembly operable to show the status of a discharge control system associated with discharging cargo or lading from a hopper type railway car.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

Railway cars with one or more hoppers have been used for many years to transport and sometimes store dry, bulk materials. Hopper cars are frequently used to transport coal, sand, metal ores, ballast, aggregates, grain and any other type of lading which may be satisfactorily discharged through respective openings formed in one or more hoppers. Respective discharge openings are often provided at or near the bottom of each hopper to rapidly discharge cargo. A variety of door assemblies and gate assemblies along with various operating mechanisms have been used to open and close discharge openings associated with railway cars.

Hopper cars may be classified as open or closed. Hopper cars may have relatively short sidewalls and end walls or relatively tall or high sidewalls and end walls. The sidewalls and end walls of many hopper cars are typically reinforced with a plurality of vertical side stakes. The sidewalls and end walls are typically formed from steel or aluminum sheets. Some hopper cars include interior frame structures or braces to provide additional support for the sidewalls.

Many hopper cars may be generally described as top loading and bottom unloading. Such hopper cars typically require closing gates or doors located underneath the hopper car prior to loading and opening the gates or doors only when the hopper car is at a specific location in an unloading facility. Through the use of linkages and one or more power sources such as an air cylinder, a hydraulic cylinder, an electrical motor or other types of operating mechanisms associated with hopper cars the gates or doors may be closed prior to loading and opened to discharge lading. The gates or doors and associated linkages, air cylinder, hydraulic cylinder, electrical motor and/or other operating mechanisms are typically located underneath such hopper cars. As a result, it is often difficult to see whether the gates or doors and associated linkages have moved to a fully closed and locked position. Therefore, personnel associated with loading and unloading of such hopper cars must often make a specific visual inspection of the gates or doors and associated operating linkages prior to loading and prior to moving each hopper car to an unloading facility.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

In accordance with teachings of the present disclosure, several disadvantages and problems associated with railway cars having discharge control systems have been substantially reduced or eliminated. One embodiment of the present disclosure may include a railway car having at least one hopper for transporting lading and one or more indicators to show the status of an associated discharge control system. The railway car may include an underframe having a center sill that defines in part a longitudinal axis of the railway car and at least one discharge opening formed proximate a lower portion of the hopper. A respective door assembly or gate assembly may be mounted adjacent to each discharge opening to control the flow of lading from the hopper. Each door assembly may be operable for movement between a first, closed position and a second, open position relative to the respective discharge opening. The discharge control system may be used to move each door assembly between the respective first position and the respective second position. At least one indicator may extend or appear from at least one side of the railway car as one or more components of the discharge control system move to a position which corresponds with moving each door assembly from the respective first, closed position to the respective second, open position. A portion of each indicator may remain visible from the at least one side of the railway car as long as the one or more components of the discharge control system remain in the position corresponding with the door assembly remaining in the respective second, open position.

For some applications each indicator may be visible to an observer viewing along the length or side of an associated railway car to avoid having to view each railway car from a generally perpendicular direction to determine the status of an associated door assembly or assemblies. For some applications respective indicators associated with multiple railway cars may be satisfactorily observed by looking down the length of the railway cars.

A respective indicator may extend (appear) and retract (disappear) from each side of a railway car to provide personnel with a visible indication of the status of an associated discharge control system. The status of respective discharge control systems associated with multiple railway cars may be simultaneously determined by looking down the length or sides of adjacent railway cars. Observations made along the length of a train having multiple railway cars with such indicators may quickly or simultaneously indicate the status of each respective discharge control system.

Technical benefits of the present disclosure include providing an economical indicator assembly for determining whether one or more components of a discharge control system of a railway car is in a secure status. One example of such secure status may be portions of a mechanical linkage, associated with moving a gate or door from an open position to a closed position, moving to an over center, locked position. Providing a highly visible indicator on each side of the railway car permits personnel to readily view several railway cars simultaneously prior to loading or unloading each railway car. In addition, each railway car may be readily checked prior to and during transportation to help ensure that the associated discharge control system is in a secure status.

For some applications, a respective indicator may extend from both sides of a railway car to visually indicate that components of an associated discharge control system are in an unlocked position which may correspond with associated discharge doors or gate assemblies being in an open position. Retraction of the respective indicators from each side of the railway car may provide visual indication that components of the associated discharge control system have moved to a locked position which generally corresponds with the associated discharge doors or gate assemblies being in a closed position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present disclosure, and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following written description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic drawing in elevation with portions broken away showing a side view of a railway car incorporating teachings of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a schematic drawing showing a plan view taken along lines 2-2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a schematic drawing in section with portions broken away taken long lines 3-3 of FIG. 1 showing portions of a railway car and discharge control system incorporating teachings of the present disclosure with a pair of door assemblies in their first, closed position;

FIG. 4 is a schematic drawing in section with portions broken away showing various components of the discharge control system of FIG. 3 with the associated door assemblies in their second, opened position;

FIG. 5 is a schematic drawing in section with portions broken away showing one example of an interior supporting structure satisfactory for use with longitudinal discharge openings, door assemblies and a discharge control system incorporating teachings of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 is a schematic drawing in section and in elevation with portions broken away showing the railway car and discharge control system of FIG. 1 with portions of the discharge control system in an over center, locked position and associated door assemblies in their first, closed position;

FIG. 7A is a schematic drawing showing an isometric view with portions broken away of a discharge control system and associated door assemblies in their first, closed position;

FIG. 7B is a schematic drawing in section with portions broken away of the discharge control system of FIG. 7A including a primary linkage slidably disposed within a support assembly;

FIG. 8A is a schematic drawing in section with portions broken away of the railway car of FIG. 1 showing one example of a discharge control system and an associated indicator assembly incorporating teachings of the present disclosure in a first position;

FIG. 8B is a schematic drawing in section with portion broken away showing the discharge control system and associated indicator assembly of FIG. 8A in a second position;

FIG. 9A is a schematic drawing showing a plan view with portions broken away taken along lines 9A-9A of FIG. 8A of the discharge control system and associated indicator assembly in the first position;

FIG. 9B is a schematic drawing showing a plan view with portions broken away taken along lines 9B-9B of FIG. 8B of the discharge control system and associated indicator assembly in the second position;

FIG. 10A is a schematic drawing in section with portions broken away taken along lines 10A-10A of FIG. 8A of the discharge control system and associated indicator assembly in the first position;

FIG. 10B is a schematic drawing in section with portions broken away taken along lines 10B-10B of FIG. 8B of the discharge control system and associated indicator assembly in the second position; and

FIG. 11 is a schematic drawing showing an isometric view with portions broken away of the discharge control system and indicator assembly of FIG. 8A in the first position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

Preferred embodiments of the disclosure and associated advantages are best understood by referring to FIGS. 1-11 of the drawings. Like numbers may be used for like and corresponding parts of the various drawings.

Various features of the present disclosure may be described with respect to railway car 20 which may be used to carry coal and other types of lading. Railway car 20 may be generally described as an open hopper car with bottom discharge openings or outlets. Respective door assemblies or gates may be opened and closed to control discharge of lading from associated discharge openings or outlets of railway car 20. However, the present disclosure is not limited to open hopper cars with bottom discharge openings or hopper cars that carry only coal. For example, various features of the present disclosure may be satisfactorily used with closed hopper cars, hopper cars that carry aggregate, ore, grain and other types of bulk lading and ballast cars. Examples of lading carried by closed hopper cars may include, but are not limited to, corn distillers dried grains (DDG), corn condensed distillers solubles (CDS), corn distillers dried grains/solubles (DDGS) and wet distillers grain with solubles (WDGS). Such products may be associated with ethanol production from corn and/or other types of grain.

Teachings of the present disclosure may be satisfactorily used with railway cars having a wide variety of discharge control systems, discharge openings and door assemblies or gates. The present disclosure is not limited to railway cars having longitudinal discharge openings, longitudinal door assemblies or air cylinders to operate an associated discharge control systems.

Railway car 20 incorporating teachings of the present disclosure may include a pair of sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b, bottom slope sheet assemblies 40a and 40b and sloped end wall assemblies 80a and 80b mounted on railway car underframe 50. Railway car underframe 50 may include center sill 52 and side sills 54a and 54b. See FIGS. 3 and 4. Side sills 54a and 54b may extend generally parallel with center sill 52 and spaced laterally from opposite sides of center sill 52. A pair of railway trucks 22 and 24 may be attached to opposite ends of center sill 52. For embodiments of the present disclosure as represented by railway car 20, center sill 52 may have a generally rectangular cross section. Generally triangular shaped dome assembly or cover 56 may be disposed on portions of center sill 52 extending between end wall assemblies 80a and 80b.

The present disclosure may be used with center sills having a wide variety of configurations and designs other than a rectangular cross section. The present disclosure may be used with center sills that do not have domes or covers. The present disclosure is not limited to center sill 52 or cover 56.

Sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b may have approximately the same overall configuration and dimensions. Therefore, only sidewall assembly 30b will be described in detail. Sidewall assembly 30b preferably includes top cord 32b with a plurality of side stakes or support posts 34 extending between top cord 32b and side sill 54b. Side stakes or support posts 34 may also be spaced laterally from each other along the length of top cord 32b and side sill 54b. A plurality of metal sheets 36 may be securely attached with interior portions of top cord 32b, side stakes 34 and side sill 54b. In a similar manner, sidewall assembly 30a may include top cord 32a, side stakes 34, respective metal sheets 36 and side sill 54a.

Metal sheets 36 may form interior surface 37 and exterior surface 38 of respective sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b. The respective interior surfaces may be referred to as 37a and 37b. The respective exterior surfaces may be referred to as 38a and 38b.

Bottom slope sheet assemblies 40a and 40b may have approximately the same overall dimensions and configuration. Therefore, only bottom slope sheet assembly 40b will be described in more detail. Bottom slope sheet assembly 40b may include a plurality of angles 42 extending inwardly from side sill 54b to bottom cord 44b. Bottom cord 44b and top cord 32b may be formed from hollow metal tubes having generally rectangular configurations. A plurality of metal sheets 46 may be attached with interior surfaces of respective angles 42 and bottom cord 44b. Metal sheets 36 and 46 may have similar specifications and thickness.

For some applications, an additional angle 48b may be attached to bottom cord 44b opposite from associated angles 42 to provide additional structural strength for railway car 20. Bottom cord 44b and angle 48b preferably extend along substantially the full length of railway car 20. In a similar manner, bottom slope sheet assembly 40a may include respective angles 42, respective metal sheets 46, bottom cord 44a and additional angle 48a.

Bottom slope sheet assemblies 40a and 40b may be attached to respective side sills 54a and 54b. Bottom slope sheet assemblies 40a and 40b may extend inward at an angle from respective side sills 54a and 54b to a location proximate bottom clearance or minimum clearance for railway car 20 relative to associated railway tracks (not expressly shown) as defined by applicable American Association of Railroads (AAR) specifications and operating envelops. For embodiments of the present disclosure represented by railway car 20, bottom slope sheet assemblies 40a and 40b may extend at an angle of approximately forty five (45°) degrees relative to respective sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b.

Portions of bottom slope sheet assembly 40a cooperate with portions of center sill 52 and dome assembly 56 to define in part longitudinal discharge openings 26a. In a similar manner portions of bottom slope sheet assembly 40b cooperate with portions of center sill 52 and dome assembly 56 to define in part longitudinal discharge openings 26b. See FIG. 4. Longitudinal discharge openings 26a and 26b may be disposed along opposite sides of center sill 52. For some applications a railway car may be formed in accordance with teachings of the present disclosure with more than one hopper and more than two discharge openings. The present disclosure is not limited to hopper cars with only one hopper and two longitudinal discharge openings.

Longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b may be hinged proximate on upper portion of center sill 52 adjacent to dome assembly 56. Longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b may also be described as “door assemblies”, “discharge doors”, “gates”, “swinging longitudinal slope sheets” or “swing gates.” Longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b may be formed with overall dimensions and configurations similar to bottom slope sheet assemblies 40a and 40b and associated longitudinal discharge openings 26a and 26b. Attaching longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b proximate upper portions of center sill 52 may increase the volume of lading carried within railway car 20 and may also lower the center of gravity when railway car 20 is loaded.

Various types of hinges may be satisfactorily used to engage door assemblies 90a and 90b with portions of center sill 52. For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 4, 5, 8A, 8B and 8C, a plurality of hinges 92a and 92b may be used to rotatably attach or pivotally attach door assemblies 90a and 90b proximate upper portions of center sill 52. Hinges 92a and 92b may include any suitable hinge operable to allow door assemblies 90a and 90b to move between open and closed positions.

Each door assembly 90a and 90b may include a first, closed position which blocks the discharge of lading from railway car 20 (see FIGS. 1-3) and a second, open position which allows lading to be discharged from railway car 20 (see FIG. 4). Various components of an associated discharge control system including, but not limited to, a primary linkage, a plurality of secondary linkage assemblies, a mechanical stop assembly and an indicator assembly may also have respective first positions associated with the first, closed position of door assemblies 90a and 90b. Various components of the associated discharge control system may also have respective second positions corresponding generally with the second, open position of door assemblies 90a and 90b.

Door assemblies 90a and 90b may extend along approximately the full length of respective longitudinal discharge openings 26a and 26b. For some applications the length of longitudinal discharge openings 26a and 26b and door assemblies 90a and 90b may be approximately twenty-nine (29) feet. Door assemblies 90a and 90b may be formed using metal sheets 96a and 96b having similar thickness and other characteristics associated with metal sheets 36 and 46. Respective angles 98a and 98b may be attached with the longitudinal edge of each door assembly 90a and 90b opposite from respective hinges 92a and 92b. For some application angles 98a and 98b may be replaced by an I-beam (not expressly shown), a Z-beam (not expressly shown), or any other suitable structural shape.

As shown in FIG. 4, respective longitudinal recesses 99a and 99b may be formed along an edge of each door assembly 90a and 90b opposite from respective hinges 92a and 92b. The overall dimensions and configuration of recesses 99a and 99b may be selected to be compatible with the dimensions and configuration of respective angles 48a and 48b. As shown in FIG. 3 recesses 99a and 99b cooperate with respective angles 48a and 48b to help seal respective longitudinal discharge openings 26a and 26b to eliminate or substantially minimize any leakage of lading from railway car 20. Various types of sealing mechanisms may be satisfactorily used to engage a door assembly with adjacent portions of a bottom slope sheet assembly.

End wall assemblies 80a and 80b may have approximately the same overall configuration and dimensions. Therefore, only end wall assembly 80a will be described in detail. For some applications end wall assembly 80a may include sloped portion 82a and generally vertical portion 84a. Sloped end wall assembly 80a may be formed from one or more metal sheet 86. For embodiments of the present disclosure as shown in FIGS. 1-4, railway car 20 may be generally described as having a single hopper defined in part by sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b, end wall assemblies 80a and 80b and bottom slope sheet assemblies 40a and 40b. Other railway cars incorporating teachings of the present disclosure may include two or more hoppers.

A plurality of interior supporting structures or interior brace assemblies 200 may be disposed within railway car 20 extending between sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b and bottom slope sheet assemblies 40a and 40b. Interior supporting structures may be formed from structural members such as plates, angles, bars, channels, beams, tubing, cables, ropes, wires, a combination of different structures, or any other structural member satisfactory for use with railway cars.

Hopper cars may be formed with fewer than four cross brace assembly 200 but may also be formed with more than five cross brace assembly 200. In some embodiments, railway car 20 may be formed with three cross brace assembly 200. Also, partitions (not expressly shown) may be used in place of interior cross brace assemblies.

For embodiments of the present disclosure as shown in FIGS. 1-5 interior cross brace assemblies 200a, 200b, 200c and 200d may have substantially the same configuration and dimensions. Therefore, various features of the disclosure will be described with respect to interior brace assembly 200 as shown in FIG. 5.

Interior brace assembly 200 may sometimes be referred to as a “rib plate assembly”. Each interior brace assembly 200 may include respective rib plate 210 centered over and attached to center sill 52 by generally U-shaped bracket 210a. Each bracket 210a preferably includes dimensions compatible with upper portions of center sill 52. Various types of mechanical fasteners such as bolts and huck fasteners and/or welding techniques may be satisfactorily used to securely engage each bracket 210a and associated rib plate 210 with center sill 52. For some applications each bracket 210a and associated rib plate 210 may be formed as integral components. For other applications each rib plate 210 and associated bracket 210a may be formed as separate components and then welded with each other.

Each interior brace assembly 200 preferably includes respective horizontal cross bearers 230 and 235 extending from respective side sills 54b and 54a and connecting with associated rib plate 210. Typically, horizontal cross bearers 230 and 235 may be attached to and extend generally laterally from associated rib plate 210. Various types of mechanical fasteners such as bolts and huck fasteners and/or welding techniques may be satisfactorily used to securely attach each interior brace assembly 200 with side sills 54a and 54b. For example, horizontal cross bearer 230 may bolt to respective side sill 54b using plate member 231b at first end 230a and second end 230b of cross bearer 230 couples with rib plate 210. Similarly, cross bearer 235 may connect to respective side sill 54a using plate member 231a at first end 235a and second end 235b of cross bearer 235 couples with rib plate 210.

Upper diagonal braces 220 and 225 may extend between sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b and rib plate 210. As shown in FIG. 5, first end 220a of upper diagonal brace 220 may be secured proximate sidewall assembly 30b at connector plate 202b and extend diagonally to connect with rib plate 210 at second end 220b of upper diagonal brace 220. Similarly, first end 225a of upper diagonal brace 225 may be secured proximate sidewall assembly 30a by connector plate 202a and extend diagonally to connect with rib plate 210 at second end 225a of upper diagonal brace 225.

Lower diagonal braces 240 and 245 may extend between bottom slope sheet assemblies 40a and 40b and associated rib plate 210. First end 240a of lower diagonal brace 240 preferably couples to bottom cord 44b and angle 48b of bottom slope sheet assembly 40b being secured by connector plate 241b. Second end 240b of lower diagonal brace 240 may be secured with associated rib plate 210. In a similar manner first end 245a of lower diagonal brace 245 may be connected with bottom cord 44a and angle 48a of bottom sloped sheet assembly 40a by connector plate 241a. Second end 245b of lower diagonal brace 245 may be secured with rib plate 210.

Horizontal crosspiece 205 may extend between sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b. First end 205a of horizontal crosspiece 205 may be engaged with connector plate 202a. Second end 205b of horizontal crosspiece 205 may be engaged with connector plate 202b. Pairs of connector plates 202a and 202b are preferably mounted on interior surfaces of sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b at locations generally aligned with respective horizontal cross bearers 230 and 235.

In some alternate embodiments, cross brace assembly 200 may include a reduced cross section member (not expressly shown). For example, cables such as aircraft quality stainless steel cable may replace one or more braces such as lower diagonal braces 240 and 245. By reducing the cross section of certain interior members, railway car 20 may more rapidly discharge lading.

Various types of operating assemblies and discharge control systems formed in accordance with teachings of the present disclosure may be satisfactorily used to open and close door assemblies and/or gates. For some embodiments each discharge control system may include a power source and associated mechanical linkages operable to open and close such door assemblies and/or gates. The mechanical linkages may include a first portion or primary linkage disposed adjacent to and extending longitudinally along an associated center sill. The primary linkage may also be referred to as a “common linkage.” One or more second portions or secondary linkages may be attached to and extend between the first portion and each door assembly or gate whereby movement of the first portion or primary linkage results in movement of associated second portions or secondary linkages to open and close associated door assemblies or gates. The secondary linkages may also be referred to as “secondary linkage assemblies.”

Examples of first portions may include, but are not limited to, planks, bars and tubes. For some applications the bars and tubes may have generally rectangular, square or circular cross sections. The tubes may have generally hollow bores extending therethrough. The primary linkage may also be formed in part a generally elongated, cylindrical bar (hollow or solid) with threads formed on exterior portions of the bar. Other relatively long structural members (not expressly shown) such as generally C-shaped channels, U-shaped channels and angles may be used to form portions of a primary linkage.

Examples of second portions may include, but are not limited to, turnbuckles, pivot arms and a wide variety of other mechanical linkages and assemblies. Second portions or secondary linkage assemblies 170 may be generally described as door connector assemblies extending between primary linkage 162 and respective longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b. Various types of mechanical connectors including, but not limited to, sockets, socket assemblies, ball joints and pivot pins may be used to operably engage secondary linkage assemblies 170 with primary linkage 162 and/or associated longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b.

For some embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 1-11 discharge control system 150 may include a power source or drive actuator such as air cylinder 152, first portion or primary linkage 162 and a plurality of second portions or secondary linkage assemblies 170. Air cylinder 152 may be disposed adjacent to one end of primary linkage 162. For some applications mechanical stop assembly 100 may be provided proximate the end of primary linkage 162 opposite from air cylinder 152. Primary linkage 162 may be described as having a first end proximate air cylinder 152 and a second end proximate mechanical stop assembly 100. For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B mechanical stop assembly 100 may include first abutment 101 engaged with center sill 52 and second abutment 102 operable to move with the second end of primary linkage 162.

Air cylinder 152 may include piston 154 and piston rod 156 disposed therein. Piston 154 and piston rod 156 may be slidably disposed within air cylinder 152. Piston 154 may divide the interior of air cylinder 152 into two variable volume fluid chambers 158a and 158b. Air pressure may be applied to either chamber 158a or 158b and air pressure may be released from or vented from the other variable volume fluid chamber 158a or 158b to cause piston 154 to move longitudinally within air cylinder 152. Because of this movement, piston rod 156 coupled to piston 154 may move generally longitudinally or reciprocate relative to center sill 52 and other components associated with railway car underframe 50.

Air cylinder 152 may be disposed proximate a lower portion of railway car 20 such as center sill 52. However, air cylinder 152 may be attached, located, placed, coupled or disposed with other portions of railway car 20. In one embodiment, air cylinder 152 may be located beneath and securely attached to center sill 52 proximate railway truck 22 near the A end of railway car 20.

In alternate embodiments, air cylinder 152 may be replaced or supplemented by any suitable power source satisfactory for providing desired movement of primary linkage 162 relative to center sill 52 and other components of an associated discharge control system. For example, discharge control system 150 may include an electrically operated motor (not expressly shown). Other examples of power sources include, but are not limited to, hydraulic actuators, pneumatic actuators, electric actuators, manual actuators such as geared drives, rotating capstans and any other power source or drive actuator associated with railway cars and hopper cars.

One end of piston rod 156 extending from cylinder 152 may include clevis 180. Pin 181 may be used to engage clevis 180 with connector 161. For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7A connector 161 may be formed as an integral component of primary linkage 162 or may be a separate component which is welded and/or otherwise attached with the first end of primary linkage 162 proximate air cylinder 152. For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7A, connector 161 may be described as a relatively short, metal plate or strip as compared with primary linkage 162. Various procedures and techniques may be satisfactorily used to operably engage a power source with a primary linkage other than the use of clevis 180, pin 181 and connector 161. For some applications one end of piston rod 156 may be directly engaged with the first end of primary linkage 162.

For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 1-11, primary linkage 162 may be slidably disposed under center sill 52 of railway car 20. Support assemblies or bearing assemblies 164 may be attached with center sill 52 opposite from dome shaped cover 56. Support assemblies 164 may also be described as “sliding bearings” or “longitudinal bearings”. For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 1-11 each support assembly 164 may include housing 165 with a pair of brackets 166 attached thereto. Respective plate 167 may be used to attach each bracket 166 with adjacent portions of center sill 52. Bolts, hucks, and other mechanical fasteners may be used to attach each plate 167 with center sill 52. As discussed later in more detail, one of the support assemblies 164, designated 164a, may form a portion of mechanical stop assembly 100 operable to limit the longitudinal travel of primary linkage 162 as secondary linkage assemblies 170 move to their over center locked position.

Housing 165 may be described as an elongated, hollow box having a generally square cross section. Bearing material 163 may be disposed within housing 165. The dimensions of housing 165 are preferably selected to accommodate installing bearing material 163 between exterior portions of primary linkage 162 and adjacent interior portions of housing 165.

The dimensions of housing 165 and bearing material 163 are preferably selected to allow primary linkage 162 to slide or reciprocate longitudinally within each support assembly 164 relative to center sill 52. A plurality of support assemblies 164 may be used to maintain primary linkage 162 generally aligned with center sill 52. Various types of bearing materials 163 may be disposed between primary linkage 162 and housing 165 to reduce friction associated with primary linkage 162 sliding relative to housing 165. Examples of such bearing materials include, but are not limited to, ultra high molecular weight plastic (UHM plastic) and high density polyethylene (HDPE). Such materials are available from a wide variety of manufacturers and suppliers.

Discharge control system 150 may open and close gates or longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b by alternately pushing or pulling primary linkage 162. One or more secondary portions or secondary linkage assemblies 170 may be connected with primary linkage 162 and connected with respective longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b. Secondary linkage assemblies 170 may be disposed in a generally symmetrical pattern with respect to primary linkage 162 and with respect to each other to help balance forces placed on primary linkage 162 while opening and closing longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b and when secondary linkage assemblies 170 are in respective over center locked positions.

Substantial forces may be applied to each arm 174a and 174b when railway car 20 is filled with lading and longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b are closed with secondary linkage assemblies 170 in their over center, locked positions. The weight of longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b and the weight of any lading in railway car 20 will hold arms 174a and 174b in their over center locked position until discharge control system 150 applies sufficient force to primary linkage 162 to move arms 174a and 174b to their unlocked position which results in longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b moving to their second, open position. See FIG. 4.

Each secondary linkage assembly 170 may include respective socket assembly 172 attached with primary linkage 162 opposite from center sill 52. Each secondary linkage assembly 170 may also include a pair of arms 174a and 174b which extend from primary linkage 162 to engage respective longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b. First end 176 of each arm 174a and 174b may include a respective ball joint which may be rotatably engaged with associated socket assembly 172. Second end 178 of each arm 174a and 174b may be rotatably engaged with each door assembly 90a and 90b spaced from respective hinges 92a and 92b. For embodiments represented by discharge control system 150, longitudinal movement of first portion or primary linkage 162 relative to center sill 52 may result in three dimensional rotation and radial pivoting of second portions or secondary linkage assemblies 170 to open and close attached longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b.

Various features of discharge control system 150 and associated indicator assembly 110 may be described with respect to primary linkage 162 moving in a first direction relative to center sill 52 and moving in a second direction relative to center sill 52. For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 1-11, primary linkage 162 may be described as moving in a “first direction” when air cylinder 152 pulls or causes primary linkage 162 to slide longitudinally from railway truck 24 (B end of railway car 20) towards railway truck 22 (A end of railway car 20). Primary linkage 162 may be described as moving in the “second direction” when air cylinder 152 pushes or causes primary linkage 162 to slide longitudinally from railway truck 22 towards railway truck 24.

Longitudinal movement of primary linkage 162 in the first direction relative to center sill 52 will generally result in rotation and radial extension of arms 174a and 174b to pull secondary linkage assemblies 170 and door assembly 90a and 90b from their second, open position (see FIG. 4) to their first, closed position (see FIG. 3). Longitudinal movement of primary linkage 162 in the second direction relative to center sill 52 will generally result in rotation and radial retraction of arms 174a and 174b to push secondary linkage assemblies 170 from their first, closed position to their second, open position which allows rapid discharge of any lading contained within railway car 20.

For some applications air cylinder 152 and attached piston rod 156 may only be required to move primary linkage 162 approximately one inch to one and one-half inches in the second direction to unlock arms 174a and 174b from their over center locked position. After arms 174a and 174b have been moved from their over center, locked position, the weight of door assemblies 90a and 90b and particularly the weight of any lading carried within railway car 20 will then move longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b to their second, open position. Air cylinder 152 is generally not required to continue applying force to move primary linkage 162 in the second direction since the weight of any lading within railway car 20 will generally be sufficient to fully open longitudinal discharge door assemblies 90a and 90b.

Arms 174a and 174b may be pulled past center or over center to provide a positive lock to hold longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b in their first, closed position. See for example FIGS. 1, 3, 6 and 7A. Pulling longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b to their first, closed position and then continuing to pull arms 174a and 174b to their over center position may sometimes be described as “over center locking”.

For some applications arms 174a and 174b may include respective turnbuckle 175 rotatively engaged with threaded portions 177. Each turnbuckle 175 may be rotated by engaging an appropriate tool (not expressly shown) with notch or opening 175a. Rotating turnbuckles 175 relative to threaded portions 177 may extend or retract the length of associated arm 174a or 174b. As a result of rotating turnbuckles 175, the position of door assemblies 90a and 90b in their respective open and/or closed positions may be adjusted. Rotation of turnbuckles 175 allow adjusting the length of respective arms 174a and 174b to provide desired closure of each longitudinal door assembly 90a and 90b relative to associated longitudinal openings 26a and 26b.

As previously noted, support assembly 164a may form a portion of mechanical stop assembly 100 and may allow adjusting the length of the longitudinal movement of primary linkage 162 relative to center sill 52. For some embodiments, mechanical stop assembly 100 may include first abutment 101 which may be securely attached to, and extend from, support assembly 164. Various techniques and procedures may be satisfactory used to securely engage first abutment 101 with support assembly 164a. For example, manual adjusting device 64 may be engaged with portions of housing 165 to allow varying the spacing between first abutment 101 and second abutment 102 when primary linkage 162 is in its second position which generally corresponds with the second position of associated discharge control system 150 and the second, open position of longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b.

Manual adjusting device 64 may include relatively short, hollow sleeve 66 attached with associated housing 165 using various techniques such as welding and/or mechanical fasteners (not expressly shown). Threaded bolt 68 may be slidably disposed within sleeve 66. First abutment 101 may be formed by the head of bolt 68 extending from sleeve 66 towards railway truck 24. Nuts 70 and 72 may be engaged with threaded bolt 68 for use in adjusting the length of bolt 68 extending from support assembly 164a in the direction of railway truck 24.

For some applications portions of mechanical stop assembly 100 attached to and extending from the second end of primary linkage 162 may be described as generally L-shaped bar stop or head 104. Second abutment 102 may be formed as part of bar stop or head 104. For some applications the generally L-shaped configuration of head 104 may include first portion 104a and second portion 104b. The dimensions and configuration of first portion 104a may be selected to allow inserting head 104 into the longitudinal bore of primary linkage 162. Second abutment 102 may be formed on second portion 104b facing first abutment 101 on threaded bolt 68.

As previously discussed, discharge control system 150 may move primary linkage 162 from its first position (see FIGS. 4 and 8B) generally corresponds with associated secondary linkage assemblies 170 and associated longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b being in their second, open position. Discharge control system 150 may also be used to move primary linkage assembly 162 to its first position such as shown in FIG. 1 which corresponds with secondary linkage assemblies 170 and associated door assemblies 90a and 90b being located in their first, closed position. See FIGS. 1, 3, 6, 7A and 8A. The over center locked position of secondary linkage assemblies 170 may be adjusted by rotating nuts 70 and 72 to vary the length or longitudinal distance that thread bolt 68 first abutment 101 extends from support assembly 164a in the direction of railway truck 24.

When primary linkage 162 and secondary linkage assemblies 170 have moved associated longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b to their first, closed position, mechanical stop assembly 100 will preferably be in its first position with first abutment 101 and second abutment 102 contacting each other. See FIG. 8A. When primary linkage 162 and secondary linkage assemblies 170 have moved longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b to their second, open position mechanical stop assembly 100 will preferably be in its second position with first abutment 101 and second abutment 102 spaced from each other. See FIG. 8B.

Arms 174a and 174b of each secondary linkage assembly 170 may rotate through a compound angle mainly oriented in a longitudinal direction parallel to primary linkage 162 when gates 90a and 90b are in their second, open position and into an over center locked position extending generally laterally from common linkage 162 when gates 90a and 90b are in their first, closed position. Additional secondary links (not expressly shown) may be added to carry heavier loads between gates 90a and 90b and primary linkage or common linkage 162. Multiple gate arc travel (not expressly shown) can be accomplished by changing the length of secondary linkage assemblies 170.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 8A-11, indicator assembly 110 may be used to indicate the status of one or more components associated with discharge control system 150. For some applications indicator assembly 110 may be referred to as an “over center lock indicator” used to indicate the status of primary linkage 162 and secondary linkage assemblies 170. However, indicator assemblies incorporating teachings of the present disclosure may be used to indicate the status of various components associated with a discharge control system and/or door assemblies. Indicator assemblies and indicators incorporating teachings of the present disclosure may be used to indicate the status of any component associate with a railway car when the component is moved between a first position and a second position by an associated control system.

For applications such as shown in FIGS. 8A-11, indicator assembly 110 may be engaged with the second end of primary linkage 162 opposite from power source 152. Various components of indicator assembly 110 may be mounted on and attached to center sill 52 proximate mechanical stop assembly 100 and the second end of primary linkage 162. See FIGS. 1, 8A, 8B and 11. For other applications indicator assembly 110 may be engaged proximate the first end of primary linkage 162 (not expressly shown) adjacent power source 152. For still other applications indicator assembly 110 may be engaged with portions of primary linkage 162 intermediate the first end and the second end (not expressly shown).

Indicator assembly 110 may include operating rod 112, bracket 120 attached to head 104 of mechanical stop assembly 100, pivot plate or trilever 130 and one or more indicators 140. The various components of indicator assembly 110 may be located proximate the B end of railway car 20 and attached to or mounted on center sill 52 proximate railway truck 24. Operating rod 112, bracket 120, pivot plate 130, indicators 140 and other components of indicator assembly 110 may be located outside of the hopper or car body formed by sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b and end wall assemblies 80a and 80b.

For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 8A-11 indicator assembly 110 may include a pair of indicators designated as 140a and 140b. Indicator 140a may be described with respect to sidewall assembly 30a and indicator 140b may be described with respect to sidewall assembly 30b. For example end 142a of indicator 140a may extend from sidewall assembly 30a when portions of discharge control system 50 are in the same unsecure or unlocked position. End 142b of indicator 140b may extend from portions of sidewall assembly 30b when portions of discharge control system 150 are in an unsecure, unlocked position. See FIG. 10B. End 142a of indicator 140a may extend through a portion of sidewall assembly 30a that extends beyond end wall assembly 80b. End 142b of indicator 140b may extend through a portion of sidewall assembly 30b that extends beyond end wall assembly 80b. See FIGS. 1, 10A and 10B.

For some applications indicators 140a and 140b may be positioned below respective side sills 54a and 54b without requiring ends 142a and 142b to extend through associated sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b. For this embodiment ends 142a and 142b may be disposed in respective hollow tubes (not expressly shown) when portions of discharge control system 150 are secured and locked. Ends 142a and 142b may extend from such hollow tubes when portions of discharge control system 150 are unsecure and unlocked. The respective hollow tubes may be engaged with the bottom or lower portion of side sills 54a and 54b (not expressly shown.) For other applications indicators 140a and 140b may be positioned such that ends 142a and 142b may extend through small openings (not expressly shown) formed in respective side sills 54a and 54b.

For some applications bracket 120 may be formed from a metal strip or plate having a generally elongated, rectangular configuration. Portions of bracket 120 may be bent to accommodate the configuration and dimensions of support assembly 164a, head 104 and center sill 52. See FIGS. 10A and 10B. First end 121 of bracket 120 may be securely engaged with portions of mechanical stop assembly 100. For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 8A-11 a pair of bolts 124 may be used to securely engage portions of bracket 120 with head 104. Hollow sleeve 126 may be engaged proximate second end 122 of bracket 120. Various techniques such as welding and/or various types of mechanical fasteners (not expressly shown) may be satisfactorily used to attach hollow sleeve 126 proximate second end 122 of bracket 120.

Operating rod 112 may be generally described as having an elongated, L-shaped configuration defined in part by first portion 112a extending generally parallel with center sill 52 and second portion 112b extending generally normal or vertical with respect first portion 112a. One or more rod supports 114 may be engaged with portions of center sill 52. First portion 112a of operating rod 112 may be slidably disposed within rod supports 114.

A plurality of threads 116 may be formed on first portion 112a adjacent to first end 118 of operating rod 112. As discussed later in more detail, second end 119 of operating rod 112 may be operably engaged with trilever or pivot plate 130. The dimensions of rod supports 114 and hollow sleeve 126 are preferably selected to allow first portion 112a of operating rod 112 to slide longitudinally therethrough. Bolt 117 may be engaged with threaded portion 116 proximate hollow sleeve 126. The dimensions of bolt 117 are preferably selected to limit movement of operating rod 112 relative to sleeve 126.

For some applications support plate 146 may be attached with one side of center sill 52 corresponding with the attachment of bracket 120 with head 104. Bolts 145 or other mechanical fasteners may be satisfactorily used to attach support plate 146 with center sill 52. Generally L-shaped mounting bracket 148 may be attached with and extend from support plate 146. Pivot pin 143 may be disposed in bracket 148 spaced from support plate 146. Pivot pin 143 may be used to rotatably engage pivot plate 130 with bracket 148. Support plate 146, L-shaped bracket 148 and pivot pin 143 cooperate with each other to allow limited rotational movement of pivot plate or trilever 130 relative to center sill 52.

Pivot plate or trilever 130 may have a first position such as shown in FIGS. 8A, 9A, 10A and 11 corresponding with the first position of primary linkage 162, secondary linkage assemblies 170, longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b and mechanical stop assembly 100. Various holes and/or openings may be formed in trilever or pivot plate 130 to accommodate engagement with second end 119 of portion 112b of operating rod 112, indicators 140a and 140b and pivot pin 143. Pivot plate or trilever 130 may also have a second position such as shown in FIGS. 8B, 9B and 10B which correspond generally with the second position of primary linkage 162, secondary linkage assemblies 170, longitudinal door assemblies 90a and 90b and mechanical stop assembly 100.

For some applications, spring 136 may be engaged with portions of support plate 146 and a portion of trilever or pivot plate 130. Spring 136 may be used to move trilever or pivot plate 130 from its first position to its second position to extend ends 142a and 142b of indicators 140a and 140b from respective sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b.

Each indicator 140a and 140b may further include multiple bends or angles that enable each indicator 140 to translate rotational movement of trilever or pivot plate 130 into lateral movement above center sill 52. This translation of movement allows indicators 140a and 140b to extend in an outward direction from center sill 52 such that end 142a and 142 of respective indicators 140a and 140b may extend beyond sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b, as illustrated in FIG. 10A.

When primary linkage 162 and associated mechanical stop assembly 100 are in their respective first position, nut 117 engaged with threads 116 of operating rod 112 will contact hollow sleeve 126. By adjusting the position of nut 117 on threads 116, the effective operating link of first portion 112a of operating rod 112 may be adjusted such that pivot plate or trilever 130 will be securely held in its first position such as shown in FIGS. 8A, 9A and 10A when primary linkage 162 is in its first position. Extreme end 142a and 142b of indicators 140a and 140b will preferably be withdrawn or retracted from the respective sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b. See FIG. 10A.

When discharge control system 150 moves primary linkage 162 and associated mechanical stop assembly 100 to their second positions such as shown in FIG. 8B, bracket 120 and attached hollow sleeve 126 will move longitudinally towards railway truck 24 and release engagement between hollow sleeve 126 and nut 117. As a result of this movement of bracket 120, spring 136 may rotate trilever 130 to its second position and extend ends 142a and 142b of indicators 140a and 140b from respective sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b. See FIGS. 9B and 10B.

When discharge control system 150 moves primary linkage 162 from its second position to its first position, bracket 120 will move hollow sleeve 126 longitudinally towards railway truck 22 (first direction) and re-engage sleeve 126 with nut 117. Continued movement of bracket 120 towards railway truck 22 causes operating rod 112 to slide or move longitudinally away from railway truck 24 which results in rotation of trilever or pivot plate 130 from its second position (see FIG. 9B) to its first position (see FIG. 9A). As trilever or pivot plate 130 moves to its second position, tension may be re-applied or placed on spring 136.

As previously noted primary linkage 162 may only be required to slide longitudinally approximately one and one-half inches in the second direction (towards railway truck 24) to move associated secondary linkage assemblies 160 from their over center locked position to their unlocked position. A resulting gap of approximately one and one-half inches may then be formed between nut 117 and hollow sleeve 126 which allows spring 136 to rotate pivot plate 130 from its first position to its second position. The dimensions and configuration of pivot plate 130 and associated indicators 140a and 140b may be selected to allow translating approximately one and one-half inches of longitudinal movement of operating rod 112 into approximately three inches of lateral movement by each indicator 140a and 140b. As a result ends 142a and 142b may extend approximately three inches from respective sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b as soon as secondary linkage assemblies 170 have moved to their unlocked position.

For some applications, stop pins 137 and 138 may be attached to opposite sides of generally L-shaped bracket 148. Stop pins 137 and 138 may be offset with respect to each other. See FIGS. 9A, 9B, 10A and 10B. As previously noted, movement of primary linkage 162 from its first position to its second position will result in movement of bracket 120 and releasing engagement between nut 117 and hollow sleeve 126. As a result, tension in spring 136 will cause rotation of pivot plate 130 from its first position as shown in FIG. 9A to its second position as shown in FIG. 9B. Stop pin 137 may be disposed on the side of generally L-shaped bracket 148 to limit the movement of trilever or pivot plate 130 from its first position to its second position. See FIG. 9B.

Movement of primary linkage 162 from its second position to its first position will result in bracket 120 and hollow sleeve 126 contacting bolt 117 to pull or slide operating rod 112 longitudinally away from railway truck 24. This movement results in portion 112b of operating 112 pulling or rotating pivot plate 130 from its second position as shown in FIG. 9B towards its first position as shown in FIG. 9A. The rotation of pivot plate 130 towards its first position may be limited by engagement with stop pin 138 as shown in FIG. 9A.

As previously noted movement of primary linkage 162, associated head 104 and bracket 120 by only one inch to one and one-half inches towards railway truck 24 will result in indicator assembly 110 extending ends 142a and 142b laterally approximately three inches relative to sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b. For some applications primary linkage 162, head 104 and bracket 120 may continue to move longitudinally in the second direction towards railway truck 24 as much as eighteen to twenty inches. The sliding engagement between hollow sleeve 126 and first portion 112a of operating rod 112 accommodates additional longitudinal movement of bracket 120 without any additional longitudinal movement of operating rod 112.

When discharge control system 150 moves primary linkage 162 from its second position towards its first position, head 104, bracket 120 and attached hollow sleeve 126 may move longitudinally as much as eighteen or twenty inches in the first direction towards railway truck 22 without causing any movement of operating rod 112. Hollow sleeve 126 will generally contact nut 117 only when primary linkage 162 has started to move associated secondary linkages from their unsecured position to their over center locked position. Therefore, ends 142a and 142b will remain extended until primary linkage 162 moves an additional one to one and one-half inches to place primary linkage assemblies 170 in their secure, over center locked position which also results in retracting ends 142a and 142b from respective sidewall assemblies 30a and 30b.

For embodiments such as shown in FIGS. 8A-11, indicator assembly 110 may include a pair of indicators 140a and 140b. However, for some applications an indicator assembly may be formed in accordance with teachings of the present disclosure having only a single indicator or may have more than two indicators. Also, the present embodiments are described with respect to ends 142a and 142b extending when portions of the discharge control system are in an unsecure or unlocked position. For other applications ends 142a and/or 142b may extend from an associated sidewall assembly when one or more portions of the associated discharge control system are in a secured or locked position.

For one embodiment, approximately forty-five (45°) degrees of rotation of pivot plate 130 may cause ends 142a and 142b of indicator rods 140a and 140b to extend approximately one inch from respective sidewall assemblies 30b and 30a. In one instance, indicator 140a and 140b may include a high visibility coloring or luminescent coloring such as “safety orange” to augment visibility of ends 142a and 142b for a railway car user/operator. Based on their visibility, an operator may readily determine when portions of discharge control system 150 is in a locked position or unlocked position.

Although the present disclosure and its advantages have been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions and alternations can be made herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure as defined by the following claims.