Title:
Railway maintenance machine with multiple function capability
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A multiple function railway maintenance machine includes a plurality of cars connected together to form a self-propelled consist having cabs at opposite ends so that it can be driven along railway tracks to an area requiring maintenance work. The cars are provided in their beds with rails which extend between the cars continuously. A crawler type service vehicle is mounted on the rails and has a cab from which the service vehicle can be driven along the rails for precise positioning. The service vehicle has a rotatable and articulating boom that interchangeably receives different working heads.



Inventors:
Herzog, Stanley M. (St. Joseph, MO, US)
Bounds, Ivan E. (Lake Havasu City, AZ, US)
Schmitz, Ronald A. (Clarksdale, MO, US)
Gladden, Wayne L. (Wathena, KS, US)
Beers, Timothy M. (Turney, MO, US)
Application Number:
10/136560
Publication Date:
11/06/2003
Filing Date:
05/01/2002
Assignee:
HERZOG STANLEY M.
BOUNDS IVAN E.
SCHMITZ RONALD A.
GLADDEN WAYNE L.
BEERS TIMOTHY M.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01B27/00; E01B29/00; E01B31/00; E01B37/00; (IPC1-7): E01B1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JULES, FRANTZ F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SHOOK, HARDY & BACON LLP (KANSAS CITY, MO, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A railway service machine comprising: a rail consist including a plurality of connected cars each having a bed and wheel assemblies for traveling along railroad tracks, said consist being self-propelled and having opposite ends each equipped with a cab for driving and controlling the consist; a pair of rails extending continuously along and between said beds of the connected cars; a service vehicle having a frame and a plurality of wheels riding on said rails, said service vehicle being self-propelled for movement along said rails and having an operator station for driving and controlling the vehicle; a boom extending from said vehicle and having multiple working positions controllable from said operator station; and a plurality of interchangeable working heads each adapted for mounting on said boom and each having a different function.

2. A railway service machine as set forth in claim 1, wherein said working heads include a scoop.

3. A railway service machine as set forth in claim 2, wherein said working heads include a pivotal jaw assembly for grasping work objects.

4. A railway service machine as set forth in claim 3, wherein said working heads include a magnet.

5. A railway service machine as set forth in claim 2, wherein said working head includes a magnet.

6. A railway service machine as set forth in claim 1, wherein said working heads include a pivotal jaw assembly for grasping work objects.

7. A railway service machine as set forth in claim 6, wherein said working heads include a magnet.

8. A railway service machine as set forth in claim 1, wherein said working heads include a magnet.

9. A railway service machine as set forth in claim 1, including a debris container in the bed of at least one car for receiving debris.

10. A multi-purpose railway service machine for use on railroad tracks along which a train can travel, said machine comprising: a self-propelled rail consist having a plurality of cars connected end to end and each having plural wheel assemblies for travel along the railroad tracks, said consist being constructed to be connected with and transported by a load bearing train for long distance travel along the tracks; a pair of cabs at opposite ends of said consist from which the consist can be driven along the railroad tracks; a pair of rails extending continuously along said cars and between adjacent cars to provide a continuous rail assembly on the consist; a self-propelled service vehicle having a plurality of wheels riding on said rails and an operator station from which said service vehicle can be driven and controlled, said service vehicle having an elongate boom mounted to be extended, rotated and raised and lowered; and a plurality of interchangeable working heads each adapted for mounting on said boom and each having a different function.

11. A multi-purpose railway service machine for performing services such as ditching, pickup and ballasting along railroad tracks, said machine comprising: a self-propelled rail consist having a pair of cars connected end to end and each having a plurality of wheel assemblies for travel along the railroad tracks, each car having a pair of generally horizontal rails thereon with the rails extending between adjacent cars to provide a continuous rail structure on the consist; a pair of cabs at opposite ends of said consist from which the consist can be driven along the railroad tracks; a self-propelled service vehicle having a plurality of wheels riding on said rails and an elongated boom mounted for articulating movement and for rotation about a substantially vertical axis; a plurality of interchangeable working heads fitting interchangeably on said boom for performing different work operations; and an operator station on said service vehicle from which said vehicle can be driven along said rails and said boom can be articulated and rotated.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates generally to maintenance work along railways and more particularly to a self-contained and self-propelled machine which is constructed to perform a wide variety of railway maintenance operations.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Maintenance work of various types is an important aspect of modern railroad operations. It is necessary to regularly perform maintenance work such as rail replacement, tie replacement, removal of debris from the track area, reballasting of crossings and other areas along the track, ditching work beside the track, and bank widening. These maintenance operations contribute significantly to the ongoing costs of operating a railroad, but they are necessary in order to maintain the rail system in a safe and efficient condition.

[0003] In the past, it has been common practice for different types of equipment to be used to perform the different types of maintenance jobs that are required. Thus, a variety of equipment must be acquired, stored, maintained and transported to different job sites along the railway, many of which are distant from the nearest maintenance facility. Each different type of maintenance machine requires training of an operator, so the requirements for trained personnel are considerable. As a result, the maintenance work is costly in terms of manpower requirements and also because of the variety of relatively heavy equipment that is required to perform the different maintenance operations.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The principal goal of the present invention is to provide a railway maintenance machine that is able to carry out a wide variety of different types of maintenance work, including ditching work, handling of rails, ties and other heavy objects, picking up and disposing of debris in the road bed area, reballasting, widening of banks, and other operations.

[0005] It is another object of the invention to provide a railway maintenance machine of the character described that can be operated efficiently and reliably and can be used to carry out many different operations by a single operator.

[0006] In accordance with the machine of the present invention, a rail consist includes a plurality of cars connected end to end and cabs at opposite ends of the consist. The cars have wheels for travel along railroad tracks so that the consist can be driven on the tracks to different locations at which service work is to be performed. Rails are mounted on the beds of the cars and extend between the cars to provide a continuous rail structure along the length of the consist.

[0007] A service vehicle or crawler taking the form of a crane with an articulating and rotatable boom is mounted on the rail structure that extends along the consist. The crawler vehicle has an operator's cab from which the vehicle can be driven along the rails on the consist to reach a desired work location, and from which the boom can be controlled in its articulating and rotational modes. The boom has a plurality of interchangeable working heads that are attached by quick disconnect couplings to facilitate changing of the heads when different types of work are to be performed. The work attachments may include a magnetic head for picking up metal, a scoop implement for ditching, scooping and other material handling work, and a jaw for grasping and moving debris and other articles.

[0008] Other and further objects of the invention, together with the features of novelty appurtenant thereto, will appear in the course of the following description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

[0009] In the accompanying drawings which form a part of the specification and are to be read in conjunction therewith and in which like reference numerals are used to indicate like parts in the various views:

[0010] FIGS. 1 and 1a together depict a side elevational view of a railway maintenance machine constructed according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, with the broken lines indicating alternative positions of the crawler vehicle included in the machine;

[0011] FIG. 2 is a fragmentary top plan view of the machine, with a portion broken away for purposes of illustration; and

[0012] FIG. 3 is an end elevational view of the machine.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0013] Referring now to the drawings in more detail, numeral 10 generally designates a railway maintenance machine constructed according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The machine 10 includes a rail consist which in turn includes a plurality of cars each generally identified by numeral 12. The cars 12 may be provided in any desired number and are connected end to end with one another and with specially constructed end cars 14 by means of couplings 16.

[0014] Each of the cars 12 in the rail consist has a rigid frame 18 mounted on plural wheel assemblies 20 each having flanged wheels 22. The wheels 22 are constructed to ride along railroad tracks 24 which are mounted on ties 26 (FIG. 3) in the usual manner. The ties 26 extend transversely across the railway bed 28.

[0015] The frame 18 of each car 12 supports a substantially flat horizontal bed 30. The beds 30 of the cars 12 are provided with a pair of parallel rails 32 which extend along the length of each car 12 and between the adjacent cars to provide a continuously extending rail structure that extends substantially the length of all of the interconnected cars 12. The parts of the rails 32 that extend between adjacent cars 12 are constructed in a telescoping or other arrangement that allows the rails 32 to accommodate curves in the tracks 24. The rails 32 are preferably located adjacent to the outside edges of each bed 30.

[0016] Between the rails 32, one or more of the beds 30 may be provided with an open compartment 34 which provides a container for holding earth, rocks, and other debris, as well as other objects.

[0017] The end cars 14 are located at the opposite ends of the consist. Each end car includes a frame 36 mounted on wheel assemblies each including a plurality of wheels 38 which travel along the tracks 24. One of the end cars 14 carries equipment such as hydraulic equipment 40 (FIG. 1b) and power equipment 42 for driving the machine 10 along the tracks 24. Each end car 14 also includes an operators cab 44 from which an operator can drive the machine 10 along the track 24. The machine 10 is self-contained and self-propelled and can be driven along the rails in either direction from one of the cabs 44.

[0018] As shown in FIG. 1a, one of the end cars 14 may be provided with a platform 46 on which working heads such as a magnetic head 48 and a pivotal jaw unit 50 may be stored when not in use.

[0019] A crawler type service vehicle generally identified by numeral 52 is mounted to travel on the rails 32. The service vehicle 52 has a rigid frame 54 mounted on a plurality of flanged wheels 56 that mate with and travel along the rails 32. An operator's station on the service vehicle 52 is provided by a cab 58 which is mounted to rotate on a turntable 60 mounted on the vehicle frame 54. The cab 58 can rotate with the turntable 60 about a vertical axis of rotation. The service vehicle 52 has a suitable power source 62 for driving it along the rails 42 and rotating the turntable under the control of an operator working from the cab 58.

[0020] The service vehicle 52 also includes an elongated articulating boom which is generally identified by numeral 64 and which includes an inboard arm 66 extending from the cab 58 and an outboard arm 68 connected with the outer end of arm 66 by a horizontal pivot coupling 70. The inboard arm 66 can be pivoted up and down on the cab 58 about a horizontal shaft 71 (FIG. 2) by a pair of power cylinders 72. The outboard arm 68 can be pivoted about the horizontal axis of coupling 70 by another power cylinder 74.

[0021] The outer end of arm 68 interchangeably receives a plurality of different working heads, including a scoop 76 which is shown mounted on arm 68 in FIGS. 1a and 1b. A quick disconnect pivot coupling 78 is used to mount whatever working head is in place on the boom for pivotal movement about the horizontal axis provided by the coupling 78. A power cylinder 80 mounted on the outboard arm 68 of a boom 64 has its rod end connected with the working head by a linkage 81 (FIG. 1A) having quick disconnect couplings 82 offset from the pivot coupling 78. The cylinder 80 can be used to pivot the scoop 76 or whatever other working head is mounted on the boom about the horizontal axis of the coupling 78. All of the boom operations can be controlled in a conventional manner by an operator stationed in the cab 58.

[0022] In use, the machine 10 can be driven along the tracks 24 to a location at which maintenance work along the railway is to be performed. An operator stationed in either of the cabs 44 can drive the maintenance machine 10 along the track to the desired location, with the machine traveling at speeds up to 40 miles per hour and greater along level track.

[0023] Alternatively, if the machine is to be moved over an extremely long distance, it can be coupled into a train and driven with the train by its locomotive power along whatever distance is desired and then uncoupled from the train and driven by itself to the location at which maintenance work is to be performed.

[0024] In either event, the operator can move from the cab 44 used to drive the entire machine into the cab 58 of the service vehicle 52. From the cab 58, the operator can move the service vehicle 52 along the rails 24 to a specified desired location, and then he can operate the boom 54 in both its rotational and articulating modes from within the cab 58. By way of example, the cab and boom can be rotated such that the boom 64 extends to the side of one of the cars 12 as shown in FIG. 3. The entire boom can be raised and lowered relative to the cab through operation of the cylinders 72. The outboard arm 68 can be pivoted relative to the inboard arm 66 by extending and retracting the cylinder 74, and the scoop 76 can be pivoted on the end of the outboard arm 68 by extending and retracting cylinder 80.

[0025] In this manner, dirt can be scooped from the ditch beside the roadway during ditching operations, and the scoop with dirt in it can be raised and rotated around to deposit the dirt in the container 34 provided on one or more of the cars 12. Rocks and other debris can be picked up from the railway area and deposited in the container 34 or elsewhere if desired.

[0026] If one of the other attachments such as the magnet head 48 or the jaw unit 50 is to be used, the quick disconnect couplings 78 and 82 allow the scoop 76 to be quickly detached and also allow the magnetic head or jaw to be quickly mounted on the end of the boom 64. The magnetic head can be used to pick up metal objects from the area beside the tracks 24, while the jaw unit 50 can be used to pick up, load or unload brush, rail ties, track or other items. The jaw unit 50 has pivotal jaws that can be opened and closed in a conventional manner to grasp items and to discharge the items as desired.

[0027] In this manner, the machine 10 can be used to provide a number of maintenance operations on and along railways. The machine 10 as a whole is self-contained and self-propelled so that it can be moved at relatively high speeds to even remote locations at which maintenance work is required. Additionally, the crawler type service vehicle 52 is itself self-propelled along the rails 32, so it can be precisely positioned and adjusted in position as needed to perform maintenance operations along the entire length of the interconnected cars 12 before the machine as a whole needs to be moved again to perform additional work. A single operator is all that is needed to both drive the machine 10 while stationed in one of the cabs 44 and to operate the service vehicle 52 and the boom 64 from the cab 58. Thus, the personnel requirements are minimized while the types of maintenance operations that can be performed by the single machine 10 are maximized, with such operations including rail replacement, tie replacement, the removal of debris from the area along and beside the railway, reballasting of crossings, ditching work and other operations such as bank widening.

[0028] From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all ends and objects hereinabove set forth together with the other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the structure.

[0029] It will be understood that certain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims.

[0030] Since many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative, and not in a limiting sense.