Title:
Load restraining device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A load restraining device that provides a system in which straps extending from one side of a web strap arrangement initially run parallel to the wall to which they are connected, as opposed to extending perpendicular to the wall as in the prior art. The anchor itself is a horizontal wall member running longitudinally along the wall of the railcar or trailer. An adjustable anchor is used to permit moving the attachment point several inches to allow for load variations. The attachment of the web strap arrangement is normally 14″ to 18″ behind the face of the load. Unlike previous systems, this provision of anchor points behind the load effectively “encapsulates” the load rather than merely providing a bulkhead effect.



Inventors:
Thomson, Stuart H. (Downers Grove, IL, US)
Zhan, Mark Y. (Orland Hills, IL, US)
Bell, Edward A. (Chesterton, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/145343
Publication Date:
12/08/2005
Filing Date:
06/03/2005
Assignee:
Holland L.P.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B60P7/08; B60P7/135; B61D45/00; (IPC1-7): B61D45/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GUTMAN, HILARY L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Barnes & Thornburg LLP (CH) (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A load restraining system adapted for installation in a transportation vehicle comprising: a plurality of cargo restraining straps to engage with one or more faces of a cargo being restrained; a plurality of anchors affixed to a first sidewall of the transportation vehicle; a plurality of anchors affixed to a second sidewall of the transportation vehicle; each of the plurality of cargo restraining straps extending from one of the plurality of anchors affixed to the first sidewall to one of the plurality of anchors affixed to the second sidewall; and wherein lateral forces on the first and second sidewalls are minimized by each of the plurality of cargo restraining straps running substantially parallel to the first and second sidewalls before engaging the face of the cargo.

2. The load restraining system of claim 1 wherein each of the plurality of cargo restraining straps has a first end with a loop and a second end with a loop.

3. The load restraining system of claim 2 wherein each of the plurality of anchors comprises a steel channel having a first flange and a second flange with a web therebetween; and a plurality of pairs of substantially aligned apertures extending through the first and second flanges adapted to accommodate a fastener through the first and second flanges.

4. The load restraining system of claim 3 wherein each of said plurality of anchors further comprises: an anchor fastener disposed within one of the plurality of pairs of substantially aligned apertures; a fulcrum fastener disposed within one of the plurality of pairs of substantially aligned apertures; and wherein the fulcrum fastener is positioned proximal to the face of the cargo and the anchor fastener is positioned distal to the face of the cargo.

5. The load restraining system of claim 4 wherein the anchor fastener is a bolt threadedly engaged and secured by a nut.

6. The load restraining system of claim 4 wherein the anchor fastener is a pin secured by a cotter pin.

7. The load restraining system of claim 4 wherein the fulcrum fastener is a bolt threadedly engaged and secured by a nut.

8. The load restraining system of claim 4 wherein the fulcrum fastener is a pin secured by a cotter pin.

9. The load restraining system of claim 4 wherein each of said plurality of cargo restraining straps is secured to one of the plurality of anchors on the first sidewall by a first anchor fastener disposed within one of the plurality of pairs of apertures and the first anchor fastener passing through the loop in the first end of the strap; the strap running substantially parallel to the first sidewall along the channel and passing between the channel and a first fulcrum fastener; the strap wrapping around the first fulcrum fastener to engage across the face of the cargo and extending to engage an anchor on the second sidewall the strap by wrapping around a second fulcrum fastener; the strap passing between the second fulcrum fastener and the channel, running substantially parallel to the second sidewall along the channel and being secured to the anchor on the second sidewall by a second anchor fastener disposed within one of the plurality of apertures nad the second anchor fastener passing through the loop in the second end of the strap.

10. The load restraining system of claim 4 further comprising: a rotatable sleeve disposed about the fulcrum fastener; and a link defining an aperture affixed to the sleeve such that the link is able to pivot about the fulcrum fastener.

11. The load restraining system of claim 10 wherein each of said plurality of cargo restraining straps is secured to one of the plurality of anchors on the first sidewall by a first anchor fastener disposed within one of the plurality of pairs of apertures and the first anchor fastener passing through the loop in the first end of the strap; the strap running substantially parallel to the first sidewall along the channel and passing through the aperture of a first link pivotally attached to a first fulcrum fastener; the strap wrapping around the first link link to engage across the face of the cargo and extending to the second sidewall wherein it engages an anchor by passing through the aperture of a second link pivotally attached to a second fulcrum fastener, running substantially parallel to the second sidewall along the channel and being secured to the anchor on the second sidewall by a second anchor fastener disposed within one of the plurality of apertures and the second anchor fastener passing through the loop in the second end of the strap.

12. The load restraining system of claim 1 wherein said plurality of cargo restraining straps comprises a net having: a plurality of horizontal web strap elements and a plurality of vertical web strap elements attached at their intersections; the horizontal web strap elements having extension portions extending outwardly from the vertical web strap elements; and each extension portion terminating in a loop.

12. The load restraining system of claim 11 further comprising two vertical web strap elements positioned so as to engage a first corner and a second corner of the face of the cargo.

13. A load restraining system adapted for installation in a transportation vehicle comprising: a first load restraining system of claim 1, claim 9 or claim 11, wherein a first plurality of cargo restraining straps is fixedly attached at a location within a transportation vehicle engaging a first cargo face; a second load restraining system of claim 1, claim 9 or claim 11, wherein a second plurality of cargo restraining straps is adjustably attached at a location within a transportation vehicle opposite the first load restraining system engaging a second cargo face; and wherein the cargo is disposed between the first load restraining system and the second load restraining system.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/280,348 filed Oct. 25, 2002, currently allowed, which claimed priority based on U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/343,106 filed Oct. 25, 2001 and entitled “LOAD RESTRAINING DEVICE.”

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to securement of loads and in particular to securement of loads for transport by railcar, and is more particularly directed toward a system for restraining loads in box cars or other transportation vehicles by use of a web strap net and ratchets.

2. Description of Related Art

Loads being transported generally require some type of restraint system in order to prevent damage to both the load and the transportation vehicle. Loads on rail cars need to be restrained from shifting under the various loads imposed by draft, buff, and rocking of the car.

For particular types of loads, such as large rolls or coils of sheet material, or palletized loads, tensioning mechanisms using straps and anchors are advantageous. When cargoes contained on racks, in boxes or bags, and arranged on pallets or slip-sheets, are loaded into railcars, some form of cargo restraint is required. One presently known form of load restraint is a movable bulkhead or “door” that can be placed in selected positions along the length of a box car. This bulkhead is held in place by locking pins inserted into floor tracks and ceiling tracks. Adjustment of bulkhead position is facilitated by rollers on a ceiling carriage that engages a ceiling rail or track.

This bulkhead approach has become less popular in recent years due to high maintenance. A bulkhead unit will frequently fail because the unit ceases to roll well, or fails to lock properly. There is also a safety concern, since bulkheads can disengage from the top track and fall, causing injury or death to workers, and damage to railcars and cargoes.

A form of bulkhead restraint system implemented with web strapping and ratchets has been tried on railcars and highway trailers. In this prior art system, the web connects to a side wall via a wall anchor and hook, extends outwardly at an angle of about 90 degrees to a point on the opposite wall of the car or trailer. This portion of the web is connected to the opposite wall via similar wall anchors and hooks. To provide tension in this “bulkhead web,” ratchets are provided on the netting itself.

This system has a number of disadvantages, among which are an inherent “cross-car” load distribution that has a tendency to pull car walls in. In addition, the bulkhead web is not easily positioned or adjusted to prevent undesired load shift. Accordingly, a need arises for a load restraining device that is dependable and safe in operation, as well as being economical to install and relatively maintenance-free. The load restraining device should be capable of providing appropriate load tension to prevent load shift, as well as keeping the load centered in the car or trailer to eliminate the need for so-called “center-void” fillers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

These needs and others are satisfied by the load restraining device of the present invention, in which the known bulkhead restraint system is replaced by web strap netting and ratchets in a unique arrangement. Briefly stated, the load restraint system of the present invention does not rely on the traditional method of a wall anchor and hook, but instead provides a system in which straps extending from one side of a web strap arrangement initially run parallel to the wall to which they are connected, as opposed to extending perpendicular to the wall as in the prior art. The anchor itself is a horizontal wall member running longitudinally along the wall of the railcar or trailer. An adjustable anchor is used to permit moving the attachment point several inches to allow for load variations. The attachment of the netting is normally 14″ to 18″ behind the face of the load. Unlike previous systems, this provision of anchor points behind the load effectively “encapsulates” the load rather than merely providing a bulkhead. The side of the railcar or trailer that includes these adjustable anchors is termed the “fixed” side and has no ratchets.

The netting is similar to known web strap netting. It has horizontal and vertical web straps (3″ wide is used but other widths are possible). It features ends on one side that fit into nut bolts in the wall anchor on the fixed side. The net runs behind the load to these anchoring points, and then around the load in front and over the top if needed. The other side of the net runs behind the load and the straps are fed into rings, which allow the strap ends to be fed into ratchets for tightening. The web strap is not normally secured to the ceiling or floor, but such features could be incorporated under unique circumstances.

The netting of the present invention also features a multitude of vertical straps in positions corresponding to the “corners” of the load (where the netting wraps around the load). This “soft corner protector” provided by this unique web strap geometry is to prevent the horizontal straps from digging into the load at the corners. This soft corner protection feature may also be implemented by providing canvas or other fabric at the sides of the net, about 12″ to 18″ in width, and extending the full height of the net. Preferably, the canvas or fabric would not extend over the full width of the net as in previous designs. There are no ratchets positioned along the netting itself as in previous systems.

Along the wall opposite the “fixed” anchors is a series of ratchets mounted on the wall horizontally and parallel to the wall. The ratchets may be mounted either permanently or in such a way as to allow easy removal by unscrewing, unbolting or tack weld cutting. Damaged ratchets can thus be removed easily for repair or replacement, if needed.

The netting is connected to the ratchets by taking the horizontal loose strap ends and feeding them around pins, or through adjustable rings, mounted on a horizontal rail parallel to the wall. The rings or pins are preferably located about 10″ to 18″ behind the load face. This results in the net “encapsulating” the load along the face that abuts the net. The loose ends are then fed into the ratchet and reel bars, and pulled tight to remove any slack, then the ratchet handle is “pumped” to tighten the load to the desired “preload” tension. At unloading, the tension is released, in this case by rotating the ratchet handle 180 degrees. The ratchet is mounted far enough from the load face to permit this operation. Upon unloading and loosening of the net, it is stored on a hanger provided on the same wall as the “fixed” anchors.

Using a web strap netting that starts behind the load instead of the traditional “straight across” method allows the web strap net to pull the load toward the center of the railcar or trailer to prevent load shift. “Behind the load” securement allows load-shifting forces to be taken down the length of the car instead of across the car. This eliminates the potential to pull car walls in. It also keeps the load centered in the car, and thus eliminates the need for center void fillers.

An alternative embodiment utilizing multiple restraining net portions and flush-mounted anchors is also described. In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a load restraining system adapted for installation in a cargo transportation vehicle comprises a cargo restraining net including horizontal and vertical strap elements attached at their intersections, and an extension portion proximate an upper edge, the extension portion adapted to engage with one or more corners of a cargo being restrained, a plurality of anchors affixed to a first sidewall of the transportation vehicle, a plurality of strap adjustment mechanisms affixed to an opposing sidewall of the transportation vehicle, a first plurality of web straps extending from a first side of the cargo restraining net and affixed to the plurality of anchors, and a second plurality of web straps extending from a second side of the cargo restraining net and engaged with the plurality of strap adjustment mechanisms. The cargo restraining net firmly restrains the cargo when the strap adjustment mechanisms apply tension to the web straps, each of the first and second plurality of web straps extending from the cargo restraining net to the anchors and strap adjustment mechanisms is substantially parallel to the first and second sidewalls of the transportation vehicle, and the extension portion of the cargo restraining net engages the corners of the cargo to prevent horizontal strap damage to cargo corners.

In accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention, a removable load restraining system adapted for installation in a cargo transportation vehicle comprises first and second cargo restraining net portions including horizontal and vertical strap elements attached at their intersections, a plurality of anchors substantially flush-mounted to interior sidewalls of the transportation vehicle, web straps extending from a first side of the first cargo restraining net portion and from a second side of the second cargo restraining net portion, the web straps removably engaged with the plurality of anchors, a plurality of strap adjustment mechanisms affixed proximate a first side of the second cargo restraining net portion, and a plurality of web straps extending from a second side of the first cargo restraining net portion and removably engaged with the plurality of strap adjustment mechanisms. The cargo restraining net portions meet along the cargo load face and firmly restrain the cargo when the strap adjustment mechanisms apply tension to the web straps, and each of the web straps extending from the first side of the first cargo restraining net portion and from the second side of the second cargo restraining net portion, in removable engagement with the plurality of anchors, is substantially parallel to the first and second sidewalls of the transportation vehicle.

In yet another alternate embodiment, web strap netting is used without ratchets. In accordance with this embodiment, a load restraining system for installation in a transportation vehicle comprises a plurality of cargo restraining straps to engage the face of the cargo being restrained, attached to a plurality of anchors affixed to the sidewalls of the vehicle. The web strap netting having a loop at each end of horizontal web strap elements that engage with an anchor fastener securing it to the anchor. The web strap is attached behind the face of the load so that the strap runs along the sidewall of the vehicle before engaging the face of the load.

Further objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial plan view of a railroad box car interior;

FIG. 2 is a section view of the box car of FIG. 1, along section lines 2-2;

FIG. 3 is an elevational view of a portion of the interior wall of the box car of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a top view of the wall portion of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an elevational view of another portion of the interior wall of the box car of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a top view of the wall portion of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged view of a hanger assembly provided on an interior wall of the box car of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a partial plan view of the box car of FIG. 1, illustrating load restraining devices in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a partial section view of the box car of FIG. 8 along section lines 9-9;

FIG. 10 is a partial section view of the box car of FIG. 8, along section lines 10-10;

FIG. 11 is an elevational view of a wall anchor in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a plan view of the wall anchor of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is an end view of the anchor of FIG. 11;

FIG. 14 is a plan view of a ratchet anchor in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 15 is an elevational view of the ratchet anchor of FIG. 14;

FIG. 16 is a section view of the ratchet anchor of FIG. 15 along section lines 16-16;

FIG. 17 illustrates web strap netting prior to the final fabrication step;

FIG. 18 depicts the web strap netting of FIG. 17 in its final form;

FIG. 19 is an elevational view of a hanger;

FIG. 20 is an end view of the hanger of FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 is a top view of the hanger of FIG. 19;

FIG. 22 is an expanded view of a portion of the interior of the box car of FIG. 8, illustrating operation of a load restraining device in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 23 illustrates an alternative embodiment of web strap netting prior to the final fabrication step;

FIG. 24 depicts the web strap netting of FIG. 23 in its final form;

FIG. 25 is a top plan view of a complete ratchet assembly;

FIG. 26 is a side elevational view of the ratchet assembly of FIG. 25;

FIG. 27 illustrates an alternative web strap arrangement in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 28 shows an alternative web strap arrangement designed to interconnect with the web strap of FIG. 27;

FIG. 29 depicts yet another alternative web strap arrangement in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 30 is a perspective, partially cut-away view of a railcar illustrating anchor placement;

FIG. 31 is a top plan view of a web strap in engagement with an anchor; and

FIG. 32 is a side elevational view of the web strap and anchor of FIG. 31.

FIG. 33 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the load restraining device without ratchet assemblies that is fixed at one end of a load.

FIG. 34 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the load restraining device without ratchet assemblies that is adjustable at one end of a load.

FIG. 35 is a perspective view of an anchor channel and fulcrum bolt of the embodiment of FIG. 33.

FIG. 36 is a perspective view of an anchor channel and anchor bolt of the embodiment of FIG. 33.

FIG. 37 is an exploded perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 33.

FIG. 38 is an elevation view of yet another alternative web strap arrangement in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 39 is a detail of a loop at the end of a web strap of the embodiment of FIG. 38.

FIG. 40 is a perspective view of yet another alternate embodiment of the present invention depicting the fixed portion of the load restraining device.

FIG. 41 is a perspective view of the adjustable portion of the load restraining device of FIG. 40.

FIG. 42 is a perspective view showing an alternative embodiment of a fulcrum fastener of the load restraining device of FIGS. 40 and 41.

FIG. 43 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of an anchor channel and anchor pin assembly of the embodiments of FIGS. 40 and 41.

FIG. 44 is a plan view of the embodiment of FIGS. 40 and 41 showing the side of a vehicle to which a load has shifted.

FIG. 45 is a plan view of the embodiment of FIGS. 40 and 41 showing the side of a vehicle away from which a load has shifted.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

While the disclosure is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific exemplary embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and have herein been described in detail. It should be understood, however, that there is no intent to limit the disclosure to the particular forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the disclosure as expressed by the following numbered features and elements.

FIG. 1 is a partial plan view of the interior portion of a railroad box car 100 that illustrates in detail the anchoring system for the load restraining device of the present invention. Of course, the instant load restraining device is equally useful in a trailer of the type generally used for over-the-road transport, and may have applications in other types of carriage, so it should be understood that the railroad box car installation is set forth as an exemplary embodiment, and is not intended to limit the scope of the invention in any way.

The railroad box car 100 includes vertical members 102 that provide structural integrity for the side wall of the car. The vertical members 102 are substantially equally spaced along each of the opposing railcar sidewalls, and may be formed from wood, steel, or aluminum, for example. Generally, interior walls 101 for the railcar 100 are constructed from plywood sheets that are attached to the vertical supports by conventional means, such as nails, screws, or other known fasteners. The railroad box car 100 also includes doors 106 located approximately centrally along each sidewall. Of course, the presence of doors 106 and their locations have no particular impact on the present invention.

The anchoring system has been devised such that there are four “fixed side” anchors 103 and four “ratchet side” anchors 104 for each load restraining device installation. There are four such load restraining devices contemplated for the standard railroad box car installation, but there could be more or fewer depending upon the specific application, and the type of transport vehicle into which the devices are installed. For the box car application, there are preferably two retraining devices installed on each side of the railcar lateral centerline (labeled A in FIG. 1).

FIG. 2 is a section view of the box car 100 of FIG. 1, along section lines 2-2. FIG. 2 provides an indication of the preferred vertical separation of the anchors. As can be appreciated from an examination of FIG. 2, the anchors are installed such that the lowest anchor position is about 14″ above the floor of the box car 100, with the next anchor about 40″ above the floor, the third about 66″ above the floor, and the topmost anchor about 92″ above the floor (i.e., the anchors are 26″ apart). Of course, these spacings are designed for a particular type of load, specifically salt containers that measure about 40″×48″×33″ and are arranged in groupings of six, stacked three high by two across. Other vertical spacings of the anchor assemblies 103, 104 may be more suitable for other types of loads.

Hangers 201 (shown in a closer view in FIG. 7), for easy storage of the restraining devices, are provided on the railcar doors 106. Of course, the hangers 201 may be positioned in other convenient locations within the transportation vehicle as well. FIGS. 19-21 illustrate a suitable configuration for the hangers 201. A pair of steel hanger plates 2101, preferably from ⅛″ stock and curved outward slightly at one end, are attached (such as by welding, for example) to a transverse steel retainer plate 2102. Holes 2103 are provided through the hanger plates 2101 and retainer plate 2102 for attachment to a door or interior wall of a transportation vehicle.

FIGS. 3 through 6 illustrate how the anchor assemblies 103, 104 are mounted. On the fixed side (FIGS. 5 and 6), a single anchor 103 is mounted between the vertical members 102 of the railcar. It is acknowledged that at least a portion of the interior wall material 101 (FIG. 1) may have to be removed to facilitate installation. The anchor 103 may be bolted or bracketed to the vertical members 102, or even tack welded if the vertical member 102 is formed from steel or other suitable material to facilitate a welding installation. On the ratchet side (FIGS. 3 and 4), the anchor assemblies 104 are of two-part construction. The first part of the ratchet side anchor 104 is the same as the fixed side anchor 103. Adjacent to this first anchor 103, a second anchor, comprising a ratchet support assembly 105, is disposed between the next set of vertical support members 102. Construction of both types of anchors is described below.

Each of the fixed side anchors 103, illustrated in FIGS. 11-13, is preferably formed from steel channel stock, C4X5.4 (ASTM A36), although the anchors 103 could be made from other suitable materials of similar strength and structural integrity. Each of the anchors 103 is preferably cut to a length of about 42″ for interposition between the vertical support members 102 of the railcar or trailer in which they are installed. Of course, custom length dimensions may be indicated for specific kinds of installations. In their preferred form, sets of eight holes 1101 are provided along the length of the anchor 103. The holes 1101 are designed to accommodate bolts (ø¾, 10×6, grade 8, preferably, although not shown in the drawings) to secure the web strap netting 801 at the fixed end. One of the holes 1101 in each set may be threaded to accommodate a threaded bolt for greater security, although this would not always be necessary. This aspect of the present invention will be discussed in detail in a subsequent paragraph.

As mentioned previously, the “ratchet side” requires one of the fixed side anchors 103 and a ratchet support assembly 105, which is depicted in detail in FIGS. 14-16. The ratchet support assembly is preferably formed from a length of steel channel stock 1401 of the same specifications as that of the fixed anchor 103, and cut to the same length. A pair of ratchet support brackets 1402 is affixed to the front face of the channel 1401, and provided with holes 1404 therethrough for attachment of the ratchet itself (not illustrated in the figure). A support plate 1403 is also affixed to the channel 1401 adjacent to the brackets 1402. Attachment of the brackets 1402 and plate 1403 may be accomplished by welding or other suitable means.

FIGS. 25 and 26 illustrate the way in which the ratchet 2202 is mounted on the ratchet support assembly 105. A securing bracket 2502 is engaged behind support plate 1403, and a ratchet locating and securing bolt 2501 is then passed through the ratchet support bracket 1402 (and also through securement holes provided on the ratchet 2202), and a tack weld 2505 is formed to hold the ratchet 2202 in place.

FIGS. 8-10 illustrate load restraining devices in operation. As can be appreciated from an examination of the figures, the anchor assemblies 103, 104 are used to bring a web strap net 801 to bear upon the face 803 of the load 802. As discussed above, the configuration illustrated is particularly advantageous when employed with a packaged salt load 802 that is arranged in layers of six packages that are stacked three high. It will become clear in light of the subsequent description of operation how the web strap net 801 provides effective load restraint, that applies a restraining force away from the car centerline A, while avoiding a cross-car load that may tend to bow the car sidewalls inward.

The configuration of the web strap net 801 itself is shown in FIG. 17. Preferably, the net 801 is constructed from polyester web straps of varying lengths and widths that are sewn together at their intersections as illustrated. In its preferred form, the web strap net 801 is based around four horizontal straps 1706 that are about 206″ long and 3″ wide. Approximately 18″ from one end (the “fixed” end) of these horizontally arranged straps 1706, a 12″ wide section of web strap 1709 is sewn to the horizontal straps 1706 such that the horizontal straps 1706 are spaced apart by about 26 inches. This vertical strap 1709 is allowed to overlap the uppermost horizontal strap 1706 by about 13″ for a reason that will become clear in the subsequent section.

A second vertical 12″ strap 1705 is laterally spaced from the first vertical strap 1709 by about 96 inches, and is also arranged to overlap the uppermost horizontal strap. The interior portion of the web strap net is comprised of a series of vertical straps 1701, approximately 2″ wide and spaced about 14″ apart, in conjunction with a similar arrangement of horizontal 2″ straps 1704, spaced apart at the same distance. The vertical straps 1701 are also allowed to extend beyond the topmost horizontal strap 1706 by about 13 inches, and an additional 3″ strap 1707 is sewn to the ends of these vertical straps 1701 and allowed to overlap on the ends by about 12 inches.

As shown in FIG. 18, the short extensions of the horizontal strap 1707 are folded over and sewn to the uppermost of the long horizontal straps 1706. This operation creates a region 1801 in the finished net 801 that includes a multitude of vertical strap sections secured to the upper strap 1706 by short oblique strap sections 1802, 1803. This folded over section 1801 provides a network of vertical straps that settle over the upper edge and upper corners of a load 802, serving as corner protectors that forestall the tendency of the horizontal straps 1706 to “dig” into load corners.

The horizontal straps 1706 include short extensions 1702 that extend beyond the first vertical strap 1709 by about 18 inches, and are terminated in loops or eyes 1708 that are formed by folding over the strap material 1702 and sewing the material together in the “sewing area” illustrated in FIG. 17. The opposing ends 1703 of the horizontal straps 1706 extend beyond the nearest vertical strap 1705 by about 92 inches. These longer extensions 1703 are intended to interconnect with the ratchet anchor assemblies 104 provided on the side of the transport vehicle opposite the fixed side.

In an alternative form, the strap ends 1702 can also be equipped with steel rings 2301, as shown in FIGS. 23 and 24. The steel rings 2301 are securely sewn onto the straps, preferably by folding the strap around the ring and sewing it securely. Of course, the rings 2301 could also be fastened to the straps by other, equally secure, methods.

FIG. 22 illustrates the load restraining device of the present invention in operation. Each of the shorter web straps 1702 (terminating in loops 1708, or rings 2301, for example) is attached to its corresponding fixed anchor 103 by passing a bolt 2201 through the loop 1708 or ring 2301 and attaching the bolt to the anchor 103. It should be noted that the net 801 is then led around the face 803 of the load 802, and the strap extensions 1703 on the opposite side of the net 801 are led around bolts 2201 suitably positioned in anchor assemblies 103 on the opposing wall. These straps 1703 are then led into ratchets 2202 mounted on the ratchet support assemblies 105. The straps are tightened to apply a restraining force to the load face 803 away from the lateral centerline of the box car in which the load is being transported. The bolts 2201 are positioned “behind” the load face 803 (on the side opposite the car centerline for box car installations). The straps 1703 are disposed parallel to the interior walls 101 of the railcar 100, thus ensuring that the restraining force applied to the load 802 will not induce a cross-car load that could bow the railcar walls inward.

In operation (referring also to FIGS. 25 and 26), the straps 1703 are fed through the reel bars 2503 of the ratchets 2202 in order to eliminate slack. The handle of the ratchet 2202 is then operated back and forth until the webbing is properly tensioned. Preferably, the reel bars 2503 have at least two wraps of webbing to help ensure that no slippage occurs. To release tension on the webbing, a pawl provided on the handle is pulled back, and the handle is rotated over center to the full open position.

Of course, the use of the load restraining device is not limited to railcar applications. The inventive system is readily adaptable to over-the-road trailers, even those where cargoes are loaded and unloaded through a single rear door. In those applications, the bolts 2201 are disposed on the side of the load face 803 that is away from the rear door of the trailer. Thus, the load restraining device will forestall undesirable shifting of cargoes toward the loading door in such over-the-road trailer installations.

Of course, there are situations in which the permanent mounting of ratchet assemblies to the interior sidewalls of transport vehicles (such as railcars) cannot be tolerated. This is true, for example, for multiple use railroad boxcars that may carry various types of loads. Permanently installed ratchets would protrude into the cargo space and could cause damage to some types of cargoes, as well as interfering with the loading of certain cargoes that actually require the entire boxcar width for proper accommodation.

FIG. 27 depicts a web strap net that forms a portion of a completely removable restraint system that satisfies the constraints introduced above. The web strap net of FIG. 27 features a pair of horizontally disposed 4-inch polyester web straps 2701, with ratchet assemblies 2704 affixed to first ends thereof. 12-inch wide vertical web straps 2705 are secured to the horizontal straps 2701. Because this alternative restraint system is designed to be removable, each of the components is constructed so as to be relatively light in weight. Consequently, the web strap net of FIG. 27 is preferably only about 80 inches long. At the strap ends 2702 opposite the ratchet assembles 2704, securement pins 2703, preferably of steel construction, are affixed within a tapered end of the web strap so that the ends of the pins 2703 protrude. Preferably, the pins 2703 are installed by looping the fabric of the strap 2701 around the pin 2703 and sewing securely, although other methods of securing the pins 2703 in position may also be devised.

As noted, because this alternative restraint system is designed to be removable, the web strap nets themselves are provided in sections. The large nets described above in conjunction with the previous embodiment would simply be too heavy, once encumbered with ratchet assemblies, to function satisfactorily in a removable environment. Consequently, the web strap net configuration illustrated in FIG. 28 is designed to mate with the net of FIG. 27.

Since the web strap net of FIG. 28 does not include ratchets (these are provided on the mating structure of FIG. 27), this particular web strap net of FIG. 28 is intended to be the longer of the two removable sections. Preferably, the web strap net of FIG. 28 is about fourteen feet in length. The web straps 2801 are preferably formed from 4-inch polyester material. 12-inch wide vertical strap sections 2803 are secured to the horizontal straps 2801. At first ends of the straps 2801, securement pins 2703 are attached to the straps 2801 in much the same fashion described in conjunction with FIG. 27. The anchor mechanism used with the securement pins 2703 will be described in more detail below.

The vertical strap sections 2803 are positioned relatively close to the securement pin 2703 ends of the straps 2801. The wide vertical straps 2803 are employed because of uncertainty regarding the precise corner locations for various cargoes, and it is believed that this structure provides a wide range of corner support to meet most eventualities. A relatively long run of free strap ends 2802 is designed to extend along the cargo frontage and mate with the ratchet assemblies 2704 of the mating web strap section. Since the ratchet assembles 2704 and the free strap ends will mate and engage with each other at a point along the frontage (or face) of the cargo, it is contemplated that a cushioning material, such as cardboard dunnage sheets, for example, will be inserted between the ratchets and the load face in order to avoid damage to the cargo.

Alternative web strap net configurations are also provided. FIG. 29 illustrates a web strap net having three horizontal 4-inch polyester web straps 2901, unequally spaced at 21 inches and 23 inches apart. Of course, many different spacings may be selected without diminishing the effectiveness of the present restraint system. The web strap net of FIG. 29 includes a plurality of 12-inch wide vertical web straps 2902 secured to the horizontal straps 2901. At first ends of the web straps 2901, ratchet assemblies 2704 are provided, while at the strap ends opposite from the ratchets 2704, securement pins 2703 are provided in the manner described above. A three-strap net configuration similar to the net of FIG. 28 (except with three horizontal straps arranged in the same vertical spacing as those of FIG. 29) is contemplated, but is not illustrated in a drawing figure. It is believed that utilizing more that three horizontal straps in a web strap net, particularly for the section having ratchet assemblies, renders the net too heavy for easy removability.

FIG. 30 depicts a railroad boxcar 3000 in a perspective, cut-away view that permits the flush-mounted wall anchors 3001 to be seen on the interior walls of the railcar. Construction and operation of these flush mounted anchors is described in detail in U.S. Pat. No. 6,422,794, issued Jul. 23, 2002, and fully incorporated by reference thereto as if fully set forth herein.

FIGS. 31 and 32 depict a web strap 2801 of a web strap net secured to the anchor 3001. It can be appreciated that the securement pin 2701 holds the web strap in the anchor 3001, and clip member 3101 prevents the securement pin 2701 from rotating and slipping through the anchor 3001. Of course, the anchor shown is intended to be exemplary, and other flush-mounted anchor systems that firmly secure the web strap nets in position while permitting easy removability may function adequately in the restraint system described.

Using the web strap nets described above, removable restraint configurations can be easily achieved featuring various combinations of horizontal straps to accommodate a variety of loads. For example, using the plurality of anchors provided in the railcar of FIG. 30, one could devise a removable restraint system in which a pair of lower web strap nets having three horizontal straps each, combined with a pair of upper web strap nets having a pair of horizontal straps each, provides a total of 5 horizontal straps across the cargo being secured, but is still easily removable, and is relatively light in weight because it is provided in four sections. Other configurations of horizontal straps, such as single 2- or 3-strap nets, or a six-strap net comprised of two pairs of three-strap nets, are easily installed and removed after use utilizing the restraint system of the present invention.

FIGS. 33 through 39 show another embodiment of the load restraining device of the present invention. This embodiment has two nets, a fixed net and an adjustable net, located at either end of a load within railcar 100. This embodiment is similar to that previously described except that there are no ratchets. Without ratchet assemblies, anchor assemblies similar to the fixed side anchor assemblies 103, described above, are attached to both sides of the car.

FIG. 33 depicts a fixed end net assembly 3300. The fixed net assembly is comprised of a web strap net 3800, as shown in FIG. 38, having a plurality of horizontal web straps 3802 and vertical straps 3804 fixed to a plurality of anchor assemblies 3320. Each anchor assembly 3320 comprising a channel section 3322 made of steel or other suitable material having a top flange 3324 and a bottom flange 3326. A plurality of holes 3328 are provided in each of the top and bottom flanges. The holes in the top and bottom flanges are substantially aligned to receive a bolt or other fastener therethrough. Each anchor assembly has an anchor bolt 3330 and a fulcrum bolt 3332 the functions of which are described below. The anchor bolt and the fulcrum bolt are each threadedly engaged and secured by a hex nut 3334.

FIG. 34 depicts an “adjustable end” net assembly 3400. The adjustable net assembly is essentially the same as the fixed net assembly except that the anchor assemblies 3420 are longer than anchor assemblies 3320 to allow for positioning the web strap net at a range of positions. Each anchor assembly 3420 comprising a channel section 3422 made of steel or other suitable material having a top flange 3424 and a bottom flange 3426. A plurality of holes 3428 are provided in each of the top and bottom flanges. The holes in the top and bottom flanges are substantially aligned to receive a bolt or other fastener therethrough. Each anchor assembly has an anchor bolt 3430 and a fulcrum bolt 3432 the functions of which are described below. The anchor bolt and the fulcrum bolt are each threadedly engaged and secured by a hex nut 3334.

FIG. 35 is a detail of anchor assembly 3320 showing fulcrum bolt 3332, although the arrangement is typical of anchor assembly 3420 and fulcrum bolt 3432 as well. As can be seen extended portion 3806 of the horizontal web strap wraps around fulcrum bolt 3332 running substantially parallel to the sidewall of the vehicle within the channel 3322. Fulcrum bolt 3332 is threadedly engaged and secured by a hex nut 3334 within a pair of holes 3328 in anchor assembly 3320.

FIG. 36 is a detail of anchor assembly 3420 showing anchor bolt 3430, although the arrangement is typical for anchor assembly 3320 and anchor bolt 3330 as well. Extended portion 3806 runs substantially parallel to the vehicle sidewall within channel 3422. A loop 3808 on the end of the extended portion 3806 of the horizontal web strap element 3802 is positioned between a pair of holes in channel 3422. An anchor bolt passed through the pair of holes 3428 and through the loop 3808 of the web strap. A hex nut 3434 threadedly engages anchor bolt 3430 securing the anchor bolt and the web strap to the anchor assembly.

FIG. 37 is an exploded view showing the fixed end anchor assemblies and net of FIG. 33 showing the web strap net 3800 in cooperation with anchor assemblies 3300. The arrangement for the adjustable end restraining system of FIG. 34 (not shown) is similar. At the fixed end the anchor assembly channels 3320 are 49″ long with four attached to each side of the car. The extended strap ends 3806 of the net are run between the anchor channel and the fulcrum bolt 3314. The fulcrum bolt is secured to the anchor channel 3320 by a hex nut 3334. The loop 3808 on each strap is secured to the anchor assembly by an anchor bolt 3330 which is placed through the loop and fastened with a hex nut 3334 or other suitable fastener.

Anchor assemblies 3330, 3430 comprise a channel, preferably made of 4⅝″×2 ⅝″× 5/16″ steel, though other materials may also be suitable. Each channel has a number of holes 3328, 3428 sized to accommodate a 1″-8×6″ hex bolt. Preferably, the holes are 1 1/16″ dia. spaced on 6″ centers.

A web strap net is secured to the anchor assemblies. As shown in FIG. 38, the web strap net 3800 is configured with a plurality of horizontal web straps 3802 and vertical web straps 3804. The horizontal straps 3802 are made of 4″ wide woven nylon, polyester, or other suitable material, and are joined by sewing or other suitable means to 8″ wide vertical web straps 3804. Each horizontal strap has an extended portion 3806 located outside of the vertical straps 3804 extending outside the vertical straps 3804 for approximately 34″. The vertical straps act as corners to secure cargo, in this case racks. Generally, a larger number of straps is required the greater the load being restrained. For example, a web strap net having four horizontal straps is designed for a load of 96,000 pounds. Seven horizontal straps could handle a load of up to 168,000 pounds, while eight horizontal straps would be sufficient for a load of 186,000 pounds. As should be apparent, the web strap net may be configured to have any number of vertical or horizontal straps. Additionally, a plurality of web straps may be used in a horizontal configuration without vertical straps.

At the end of each horizontal strap extended portion 3806 is a loop 3808. As can be seen in FIG. 39, the loop 3808 is formed by folding the end of strap 3802 back and securing it to itself by stitching or other suitable means. The loop 3808 is secured to the anchor 3320, 3420 by an anchor bolt 3330, 3430 and a hex nut 3334, 3434.

In the embodiment shown, the anchor channels 3320 and 3420 are arranged four-high and are located with the first anchor being 12″ above the floor of the box car 100, with the second anchor 54″ above the floor, the third anchor 96″ above the floor, and the fourth anchor 138″ above the floor. In other words, in this embodiment, the anchor assemblies 3320 and 3420 are spaced 42″ apart vertically. These spacings are designed for a particular type of load, specifically a three-high stack of auto parts racks each measuring 96″×48″×60″. Other vertical spacings of the anchor assemblies may be more suitable for different types of loads. Also, it should be noted that for arrangements having a different number of horizontal web straps, different numbers of anchor assemblies may be arranged at heights appropriate for the particular application.

At the adjustable end, the anchor channels 3420 are 193″ long. Holes 3428 are provided 6½″ from each end of the channel and spaced along the channel 6″ apart. Similar to the fixed end, each strap on the net is run between the channel and the fulcrum bolt and secured by an anchor bolt and hex nut. In this way, the attachment points for the net are positioned behind the face of the load at each end. If the load shifts in transit, the fulcrum bolt redirects the force of the shifting load along the length of the anchor channel, and reduces inward pull of the car walls.

The embodiment of FIGS. 33 and 34, is used to retain racks containing auto parts. The racks measure 96″×48″×60″ and are stacked three-high. In this case, the anchor assemblies 103 are 193″ long. The anchor assemblies have a plurality of 1 1/16″ diameter holes starting 6½″ from each end and spaced at 6″ centers to allow for positioning the web strap net based on the number of racks to be loaded into the railcar.

FIG. 40 through FIG. 45 show another alternate embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, pins are used instead of bolts for the anchor fastener and the fulcrum fastener. A fulcrum pin 4032 is positioned within a pair of holes in the anchor channel 4020 and retained by a cotter pin (not shown). A link 4052 defining an aperture is attached to a sleeve 4050. The fulcrum pin in inserted through a hole in the anchor channel 4020, through the sleeve 4050, and through the opposite hole in the channel. The fulcrum pin is secured by a cotter pin (not shown) allowing the sleeve 4050 with link 4052 to rotate about the fulcrum pin.

As shown in FIG. 42, the web strap 3806 is fed through the aperture in the link 4052 of the fulcrum assembly. The web strap 3806 is secured by an anchor pin 4030 positioned through a pair of holes 4028 in the anchor channel 4020 and through the loop 3808 in the strap and fastened with a cotter pin (not shown). This arrangement provides the benefit of some play in the straps for when a load shifts in transit.

As shown in FIG. 44 and FIG. 45, when a load 802 shifts away from one sidewall of railcar 100, the load 802 pulls web strap 3802 causing link 4052 and sleeve 4050 to rotate about fulcrum pin 4032 away from anchor channel 4020 as shown in FIG. 45. On the side of the railcar 100 to which the load has shifted, the link 4052 and sleeve 4052 rotate about fulcrum pin 4032 towards the anchor channel 4020. As load 802 shifts from side to side during transit, the sleeves and links rotatably connected to the fulcrum pins rotate back and forth maintaining contact between the face of the load and the web strap without transferring the lateral load to the car side.

The load restraining device of FIGS. 33 through 45 is mounted in a transportation vehicle, for example a railcar, with a door located in the side wall of the car. A fixed end web strap net assembly 3300 is positioned at one end of the rail car. An adjustable end web strap net assembly 3400 is positioned at the opposite end of the railcar based on the calculated length of the cargo to be loaded into the car. Markings may be provided on the interior wall of the railcar to assist in positioning the adjustable assembly 3400. Cargo is loaded through the door in the side of the railcar towards one of the ends of the car, then to the opposite end. Once both ends of the car have been loaded, the final piece of cargo is loaded between the cargo already loaded in either end of the car packing the cargo between the fixed assembly and the adjustable assembly to secure the load.

There has been described herein a load restraining device that offers distinct advantages when compared with the prior art. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, the illustration and description of the present invention in a railcar installation is not intended to limit the invention to railcar applications alone.