Title:
Flow divider arrangement grease distribution system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flow divider arrangement for a rail lubrication distribution system for applying friction modifying material to a pair of adjacent railroad rails. The arrangement includes a first wiping bar assembly adapted to affix to a railroad rail, a second wiping bar assembly adapted to affix to an adjacent railroad rail and a flow divider in fluid communication with the first wiping bar assembly and the second wiping bar assembly. The flow divider is adapted to control the flow rate of friction modifying material to the wiping bar assemblies so that the flow rate of friction modifying material is at a constant rate independent of temperature and operating pressure to each wiping bar assembly.



Inventors:
Schnorr III, Charles Henry (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Urmson Jr., Thomas W. (Valencia, PA, US)
Mospan, John W. (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Wade, John Allen (Lenexa, KS, US)
Application Number:
11/361013
Publication Date:
11/23/2006
Filing Date:
02/23/2006
Assignee:
Portec Rail Products, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61K3/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
RASHID, MAHBUBUR
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE WEBB LAW FIRM, P.C. (PITTSBURGH, PA, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A flow divider arrangement for a rail lubrication system for applying friction modifying material to a pair of adjacent railroad rails, the arrangement comprising: a first apparatus for applying friction modifying material to railroad rails adapted to affix to a railroad rail; a second apparatus for applying friction modifying material to railroad rails adapted to affix to an adjacent railroad rail; and a flow divider in fluid communication with said first apparatus and said second apparatus, said flow divider adapted to control the flow rate of friction modifying material to said apparatuses so that the flow rate of friction modifying material is at a constant rate independent of temperature and operating pressure to each apparatus.

2. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 1, further comprising at least two first apparatuses adapted to affix to a railroad rail and at least two second apparatuses adapted to affix to an adjacent railroad rail.

3. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first apparatus and said second apparatus are wiping bar assemblies.

4. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 1, wherein said apparatuses are fluidly connected to said flow divider via a pair of conduits.

5. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 4, wherein said conduits are in parallel communication to said apparatuses.

6. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 4, wherein said conduits have varying lengths, wherein the length of each conduit differs from the other.

7. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 4, wherein said conduits have varying diameters, wherein the diameter of each conduit differs from the other.

8. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 4, wherein said conduit is a flexible hose or tubing.

9. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 4, further comprising a pressurized source of friction modifying material in fluid communication with said flow divider via an inlet line.

10. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 1, wherein the friction modifying material is grease.

11. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 1, wherein said flow divider includes at least two metering gears in parallel fluid communication with said first apparatus and said second apparatus, wherein said metering gears adapted to provide a constant flow rate of friction modifying material to said first apparatus and said second apparatus.

12. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 9, wherein said flow divider further includes at least one bypass line having a bypass valve, wherein the bypass line is in fluid communication with said conduit and said inlet line for re-circulating friction modifying material back through said flow divider when a pressure build-up occurs

13. The flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a pump in fluid communication said flow divider, wherein said pump is adapted to supply pressurized grease to said flow divider.

14. A rail lubrication distribution system comprising: a first railroad rail; a second railroad rail spaced apart from said first railroad rail; a first wiping bar assembly affixed to said first railroad rail; a second wiping bar assembly affixed to said second railroad rail; and a flow divider in fluid communication with said first wiping bar assembly via a first conduit and said second wiping bar assembly via a second conduit, wherein said flow divider is adapted to control the flow rate of friction modifying material to said wiping bar assemblies so that the flow rate of friction modifying material is at a constant rate independent of temperature and operating pressure to each wiping bar assembly.

15. The rail lubrication distribution system as claimed in claim 14, wherein said flow divider is positioned between said first railroad rail and said second railroad rail, wherein said first conduit has a different length from said second conduit.

16. The rail lubrication distribution system as claimed in claim 14, wherein said flow divider is positioned between said first railroad rail and said second railroad rail, wherein said first conduit has a different diameter from said second conduit.

17. The rail lubrication distribution system as claimed in claim 14, wherein said flow divider is positioned adjacent to said second railroad rail, wherein said first conduit has a different length from said second conduit.

18. The rail lubrication distribution system as claimed in claim 14, wherein said flow divider is positioned adjacent to said second railroad rail, wherein said first conduit has a different diameter from said second conduit.

19. The rail lubrication distribution system as claimed in claim 14, further comprising a pump in fluid communication said flow divider adapted to supply pressurized friction modifying material to said flow divider.

20. The rail lubrication distribution system as claimed in claim 19, further comprising a lubricant tank for supplying friction modifying material to said flow divider, wherein said pump and said flow divider are located within said tank.

21. A flow divider arrangement for a rail lubrication system for applying friction modifying material to a pair of adjacent railroad rails, the arrangement comprising: a first apparatus for applying friction modifying material to railroad rails adapted to affix to a railroad rail; a second apparatus for applying friction modifying material to railroad rails adapted to affix to an adjacent railroad rail; a first flow divider in fluid communication with said first apparatus, said first flow divider adapted to control the flow rate of friction modifying material to said first apparatus so that the flow rate of friction modifying material is at a constant rate independent of temperature and operating pressure to said first apparatus; and a second flow divider in fluid communication with said second apparatus, said second flow divider adapted to control the flow rate of friction modifying material to said second apparatus so that the flow rate of friction modifying material is at a constant rate independent of temperature and operating pressure to said second apparatus.

22. A method of applying a constant flow rate of friction modifying material to a first railroad rail and an adjacent second railroad rail, the method comprising the steps of: providing a first means for applying friction modifying material to the first railroad rail; providing a second means for applying friction modifying material to the second railroad rail; providing a flow divider in fluid communication with said first means and said second means via a plurality of conduits, wherein said conduits have different lengths; and supplying friction modifying material to said flow divider thereby providing the same amount of friction modifying material to the first railroad rail and the second railroad rail.

23. The method as claimed in claim 22, wherein pressurized friction modifying material is supplied to said flow divider.

24. The method as claimed in claim 22, wherein the friction modifying material is grease.

25. The method as claimed in claim 22 using the flow divider arrangement as claimed in claim 1.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional application Ser. No. 60/656,046 entitled “Flow Divider Arrangement for Grease Distribution System,” filed on Feb. 24, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to lubrication of railroad tracks and, more particularly, to an arrangement for applying a constant flow of friction modifying material, such as grease, to railroad rails.

2. Description of the Prior Art

In the operation of railroads, it has long been the practice to apply lubricant or friction modifying materials onto railroad rails, such as to the top of the rails or sides of the rails at curves, turnouts, switches, and in some cases, the sections of the track immediately before a switch, and periodically spaced along the length of the track. Such lubricants and friction modifying materials, such as grease, can either reduce or increase the friction where necessary, to improve train performance and reduce wear on both the railroad rails and the train wheels. An important aspect relating to the lubrication of railroad rails is that the appropriate amount of friction modifying material is applied to the railroad rails. The friction modifying material can be applied to the railroad rails through a wiping bar assembly, such as is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,394,958, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety, and sold under the registered trademark MC-4 AND MC-4 XL by Portec Rail Products, Inc.

FIG. 1 shows a prior art rail lubrication system 10 that includes railroad rails 12, 14 and wiping bar assemblies 16A-D secured thereto. Grease is typically pumped from a nearby grease tank and pump (not shown) to the wiping bar assemblies 16A-D, such as those described above in U.S. Pat. No. 5,394,958, to the railroad rails 12, 14. The wiping bar assemblies 16A-D are secured to the railroad rails 12, 14 by respective clamps 18A-D. A plurality of conduits 20A-D such as tubing or hoses are fluidly coupled to the respective wiping bar assemblies 16A-D at one end such as with the use of adapters (not shown). A valve assembly 22 which includes a plurality of shutoff valves 24A-D is fluidly coupled to an opposite end of the respective conduits 20A-D. An inlet line 26 is fluidly coupled to the valve assembly 22 which is in fluid communication with a grease tank and pump (not shown). The valve assembly 22 acts as a manifold to supply grease from inlet line 26 to conduits 2OA-D.

Referring to FIG. 1, the conduits 20A-D, which are arranged in parallel with each other, generally have the same length and diameter for the purpose of providing a constant flow rate of grease passing through the valve assembly 22 and respective conduits 20A-D. However, if the flow resistance of the grease varies in the conduits 20A-D, the flow rate of grease passing through the conduits 20A-D will also vary, resulting in uneven flow to the respective wiping bar assemblies 16A-D.

It has been found that railroad rails 12, 14 may vary in temperature because the sun may shine on only one of the railroad rails 12, 14, while the other adjacent railroad rail is in the shade. For example, the sun may only heat up railroad rail 12 and the corresponding wiping bar assemblies 16A-B, while the adjacent railroad rail 14 and corresponding wiping bar assemblies 16C-D remain in the shade. This can be a particular problem during sunrise and sunset. The different temperatures and various back pressures of the wiping bar assemblies 16A-D can change the viscosity of the grease passing through the respective wiping bar assemblies 16A-D and conduits 20A-D, thereby varying the flow rate of the grease. This, in turn, can cause improper lubrication to the railroad rails 12, 14, thus affecting the lubrication of train wheels coacting with the railroad rails 12, 14.

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to overcome this deficiency by providing a constant flow rate of grease through the wiping bar assemblies 16A-D independent of the railroad rail temperatures and back pressures or operating pressures of the fluid passing through the respective conduits 20A-D of the wiping bar assemblies 16A-D.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides for a flow divider arrangement for a rail lubrication distribution system for applying friction modifying material to a pair of adjacent railroad rails. The arrangement includes a first wiping bar assembly adapted to affix to a railroad rail, a second wiping bar assembly adapted to affix to an adjacent railroad rail and a flow divider in fluid communication with the first wiping bar assembly and the second wiping bar assembly. The flow divider is adapted to control the flow rate of friction modifying material to the wiping bar assemblies so that the flow rate of friction modifying material is at a constant rate independent of temperature and operating pressure to each wiping bar assembly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a prior art grease distribution system;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a flow divider arrangement grease distribution system made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of a flow divider for the flow divider arrangement shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of the flow divider shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of a second embodiment of the flow divider arrangement grease distribution system of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a third embodiment the flow divider arrangement grease distribution system of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of a fourth embodiment of the flow divider arrangement grease distribution system of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of a fifth embodiment of the flow divider arrangement grease distribution system of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a schematic view of a flow divider provided within a lubricant tank of the flow divider arrangement grease distribution system of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a schematic view of a sixth embodiment of a flow divider of the flow divider arrangement grease distribution system of the present invention; and

FIG. 11 is a schematic view of a seventh embodiment of the flow divider arrangement shown in FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 2, a first embodiment of the present invention provides for a rail lubrication distribution system 30 that is similar to the prior art rail lubrication system 10, except for the differences noted below. Like reference numerals are used for like elements. The system 30 includes railroad rails 12, 14 and a flow divider arrangement 32 having a plurality of wiping bar assemblies 16A-D secured to the railroad rails 12, 14 for applying friction modifying material to the railroad rails 12, 14. The wiping bar assemblies 16A-D are secured to the railroad rails 12, 14 by respective clamps 18A-D as described in the prior art rail lubrication system 10. The flow divider arrangement 32 is in fluid communication with a lubricant tank containing a lubricant, such as grease, and a pump, via an inlet line 26. Such arrangements are well known in the art and are designated as TP shown in phantom in FIG. 2. The flow divider arrangement 32, which provides for a constant flow rate of grease to the railroad rails 12, 14, includes a flow divider 34 fluidly coupled to the wiping bar assemblies 16A-D via a plurality of conduits 20A-D such as tubing or flexible hoses, and the inlet line 26 fluidly coupled to the flow divider 34. The conduits 20A-D can have adapters (not shown), such as hose or tube adapters, which are well known in the art for attachment of the conduits 20A-D to the respective wiping bar assemblies 16A-D and the inlet line 26 to the flow divider 34. An in-line filter FL (shown in phantom in FIG. 2), such as a mesh screen, may also be placed in the inlet line 26 in order to filter out debris before the flow of lubricant reaches the flow divider 34.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the flow divider 34 includes a housing 35 and a plurality of metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42 received within the housing 35. The housing 35 includes a plurality of ports 37 (shown in FIG. 4) for attaching the conduits 20A-D and inlet line 26 to the housing 35, such that the metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42 are in fluid communication with the respective conduits 20A-D. The metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42 are also in parallel fluid communication with the inlet line 26. Downstream of the metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42 are bypass fluid circuits 43, 45, 47 and 49 that are in fluid communication with the respective metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42. Pressure activated bypass valves 44, 46, 48 and 50 are provided within the respective bypass circuits 43, 45, 47 and 49. The metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42 are directly coupled to a drive gear (not shown) in order for the metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42 to rotate at the same speed. An optional drive shaft D and an optional motor M′ shown in phantom in FIGS. 3 and 4 may be provided where the drive shaft D is coupled to the drive gear via the motor M′. The flow divider 34 does not require a separate power source when the motor is not used. The rotary gear flow divider 34 as described is well known in the art and can be made available from the John S. Barnes Corporation of Rockford, Ill., now owned by Haldex Inc. The flow divider 34 can be any type of flow divider which permits constant flow through a plurality of tubing. Other flow divider arrangements can be positive displacement pumps or motors.

In operation as shown in FIGS. 2-4, pressurized grease or friction modifying material is supplied to the inlet line 26 from a supply tank and pump designated as TP shown in phantom in FIG. 2. The pressurized grease then flows to the flow divider 34 as represented by arrow F shown in FIG. 2. The grease passes through the respective metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42 and then flows to respective conduits 20A-D. Because the metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42 have the same diameter and rotate at the same rotational speed, the exact same amount of grease passes to the respective conduits 20A-D. This amount of grease then flows through the conduits 20A-D as represented by arrows F1 to the respective wiping bar assemblies 16A-D. Further, should there be a pressure backup caused by one of the wiping bar assemblies 16A-D or the respective conduits 20A-D, then the grease designated to pass through that specific conduit will be diverted by the respective bypass fluid circuit 43, 45, 47 or 49 and bypass valve 44, 46, 48 or 50. For example, at a pre-set pressure, the respective bypass valve 44, 46, 48 or 50 will open causing the grease to flow through the respective bypass fluid circuit 43, 45, 47 or 49 to flow upstream of the respective metering gear 36, 38, 40 or 42 and be re-circulated.

An advantage of the present invention is that temperature and various back pressures or operating pressures will not affect the flow rate of grease to the respective wiping bar assemblies 16A-D. Further, the lengths and diameters of each of the conduits 20A-D can vary since the flow rate is not controlled by the flow resistance through the conduits 20A-D, but is at a constant flow rate due to the metering gears 36, 38, 40 and 42. As shown in FIG. 2, the flow divider 34 is arranged between railroad rails 12, 14 in such a way that conduits 20A-B have different lengths than conduits 20C-D of the flow divider arrangement 32. Hence, the present invention overcomes the problem of the prior art of the possibility of different grease flow rates passing through respective wiping bar assemblies because of different temperatures or operating pressures of the wiping bar assemblies or conduit diameters or lengths.

FIG. 5 shows a second embodiment of a rail lubrication distribution system 60 that is similar to the rail lubrication distribution system 30, except that the flow divider 34 is located on the outside of railroad rails 12, 14 adjacent railroad rail 14. Like referenced numerals are used for like elements. Conduits 20A-B have different lengths than conduits 20C-D of the flow divider arrangement 32

FIG. 6 shows a third embodiment of a rail lubrication distribution system 70 that is similar to the rail lubrication distribution system 30, except that the flow divider 34, which is located between railroad rails 12, 14, is positioned at one end adjacent to wiping bar assemblies 16A and 16C. Like referenced numerals are used for like elements. Conduits 20B and 20D have different lengths than conduits 20A and 20C of the flow divider arrangement 32.

FIG. 7 shows a fourth embodiment of a rail lubrication distribution system 80 that is similar to the rail lubrication distribution system 30, except that the flow divider 34 has only two metering gears 38, 40 in fluid communication with wiping bar assemblies 16B and 16A. Like referenced numerals are used for like elements. Conduit 20A can have a different diameter (shown in phantom) than conduit 20B of the flow divider arrangement 32.

FIG. 8 shows a fifth embodiment of a rail lubrication distribution system 90 that is similar to the rail lubrication distribution system 80, except that conduit 20A has a different length than conduit 20B. Like referenced numerals are used for like elements.

FIG. 9 shows a schematic view of the flow divider 34 provided within a lubricant tank T (shown in phantom), which also includes a pump P and respective motor M for supplying pressurized grease or friction modifying materials to the flow divider 34. It is envisioned that the present invention can operate without a pump P, wherein the lubricant is gravity fed into the flow divider 34 which is preferably located at a bottom of the tank T and which may be driven by a separate motor M′ shown in phantom in FIG. 9.

FIG. 10 shows a schematic view of a sixth embodiment of a rail lubrication distribution system 100 that is similar to the rail lubrication distribution system 80, except that there are two flow dividers 34, 34′ in fluid communication with wiping bar assemblies 16A-D. Like referenced numerals are used for like elements. The flow divider 34 has two metering gears 38, 40 in fluid communication with respective wiping bar assemblies 16B and 16A, and flow divider 34′ has two metering gears .36, 42 in fluid communication with respective wiping bar assemblies 16D and 16C. Each flow divider 34, 34′ is in fluid communication with separate pumps P, P′ having separate controls to vary the speed of the pumps P, P′ via inlet lines 26, 26′ located within the lubricant tank T, wherein two different pressures and flow rates of lubricant can be supplied to each flow divider 34, 34′. The flow dividers 34, 34′ may be driven separately via respective motors M′ shown in phantom in FIG. 10. This arrangement permits the same volume of flow to each wiping bar of a matching pair of wiping bar assemblies (for example 16A and 16B) and flow to different pairs (for example 16A and 16B as one pair and 16C and 16D as the other pair).

FIG. 11 shows a schematic view of a seventh embodiment of a rail lubrication distribution system 110 that is similar to the rail lubrication distribution system 100, except that both flow dividers 34, 34′ and the respective pumps P, P′ are provided within the lubricant tank T. Like referenced numerals are used for like elements. It is contemplated that the flow dividers 34, 34′ may also be provided without pumps P, P′ and that the flow dividers 34, 34′ may be driven separately via respective motors M′ shown in phantom in FIG. 11, thereby drawing the lubricant into the flow dividers 34, 34′. Separate controls can be provided to drive these motors so that the flow rate through each flow divider can be set and be independent of the other flow divider.

It is envisioned that the present invention may be utilized with friction modifying materials other than grease and apparatuses for applying this friction modifying material, such as is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,971,479, which is hereby incorporated by reference. Other apparatuses for applying friction modifying material can include a manifold having one or more ports or a hose, wherein friction modifying material can pass through onto the railroad rails. It is also envisioned that there may be more than two apparatuses for applying friction modifying material on each of the railroad rails 12, 14.

It will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the concepts disclosed in the foregoing description. Accordingly, the particular embodiments described in detail herein are illustrative only and are not limiting to the scope of the invention, which is to be given the full breadth of the appended claims and any and all equivalents thereof.