Title:
AUTO RACK RAIL CAR WITH STEPPED BOTTOM CHORD AND OFFSET BODY BOLSTER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A railroad car utilizing the maximum width and height allowed by the proposed American Association of Railroads proposed clearance Plate K and including body bolster having a top cover plate at a vertical height lower than a height of a stub sill top cover plate adjacent to a striker. The car fits within the profile of the proposed clearance Plate K by including a stepped lower portion in a side assembly. The stub sill top cover plate ramps down to abut the lower height of the body bolster top cover plate. this ramping allows for an increased height of a lower deck of the rail road car longitudinally closer to an end sill than on previous railroad cars.



Inventors:
Zaerr, Jon B. (Portland, OR, US)
Application Number:
11/695576
Publication Date:
10/04/2007
Filing Date:
04/02/2007
Assignee:
GUNDERSON LLC (Portland, OR, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D3/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KUHFUSS, ZACHARY L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JAMES A. HILLSENTEGER (LAKE OSWEGO, OR, US)
Claims:
1. A rail road car comprising: a stub sill into which a coupler is mounted, the stub sill including a top cover plate having a first portion at a first height and a second downwardly sloping portion; and a body bolster into which a center plate is mounted and including a top cover plate, the body bolster positioned adjacent to the stub sill, wherein the body bolster top cover plate is offset vertically lower from the first portion of the stub sill top cover plate.

2. The rail road car of claim 1, wherein the stub sill includes a bottom flange having a first portion at a first height and a downwardly sloping portion and the body bolster includes a bottom cover plate, wherein a laterally central portion of the body bolster bottom cover plate is offset vertically lower from the first portion of the stub sill bottom flange.

3. The rail road car of claim 1, wherein the stub sill top cover plate extends horizontally from the coupler toward the body bolster and includes a bent section that slants vertically down to the body bolster top cover plate.

4. The rail road car of claim 1, wherein the body bolster top cover plate includes a longitudinally inboard portion that slants vertically downward.

5. The rail road car of claim 1, wherein the body bolster top cover plate is offset about 5 inches lower from the first portion of the stub sill top cover plate.

6. The rail road car of claim 4, wherein the longitudinally inboard portion of the body bolster top cover plate has a longitudinally inboard edge that is about 6 inches lower than the stub sill top cover plate.

7. The rail road car of claim 1, wherein the rail road car is configured to carry multiple levels of automobiles or trucks.

8. An auto rack rail road car comprising: A coupler end stub sill with a top cover plate at a first height adjacent to a striker bar; and A body bolster with a center plate and a top cover plate, the top cover plate located at a second height lower than the first height.

9. The auto rack rail road car of claim 8, further comprising an auto ramp extending from the stub sill downward into a well area that is at a height below the height of a bottom of the center plate.

10. A rail road car side assembly comprising: a formed channel top chord; a side sheet extending downward from the top chord, the side sheet including an inboardly slanting lower portion extending to a bottom horizontal portion; and a z-shaped bottom chord having an upper horizontal leg affixed to the inboardly slanting lower portion of the side sheet and a vertical portion affixed to an edge of the bottom horizontal portion of the side sheet.

11. The rail road car side assembly of claim 10, wherein the z-shaped bottom chord includes a lower horizontal leg.

12. A rail road car comprising: a side assembly comprising: a formed channel top chord, a side sheet extending downward from the top chord, the side sheet including an inboardly slanting lower portion extending to a bottom horizontal portion, and a z-shaped bottom chord having an upper horizontal leg extending outboard affixed to the inboardly slanting lower portion of the side sheet, a vertical portion affixed to an edge of the bottom horizontal portion of the side sheet and a lower horizontal leg extending inward; and a floor assembly affixed to an upper surface of the lower horizontal leg of the z-shaped bottom chord.

13. An auto rack railroad car comprising: a lower deck positioned between a pair of trucks having a lower surface about 15 inches above a top of a rail when the car is empty; and a side assembly affixed to the lower deck, wherein the side assembly is positioned laterally to align with AAR Proposed Clearance Plate K along an outer surface of the side assembly, the side assembly including a lower stepped portion having a bottom horizontal surface above a lower stepped portion of Plate K and a vertical outboard surface positioned laterally inboard of the stepped portion of Plate K.

14. A rail road car comprising a side assembly comprising: a formed channel top chord, a side sheet extending downward from the top chord, the side sheet including an inboardly slanting lower portion extending to a bottom horizontal portion, and an L-shaped bottom chord having an upper horizontal leg extending outboard affixed to the inboardly slanting lower portion of the side sheet and a vertical portion affixed to an edge of the bottom horizontal portion of the side sheet; and a floor assembly affixed to vertical portion of the L-shaped bottom chord.

Description:

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/744,085 filed Mar. 31, 2006.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This disclosure relates to railroad freight car structures and more particularly to auto rack rail road freight car structures.

BACKGROUND

Certain types of rail cars utilize the maximum heights and/or widths allowed to maximize lading space. Double-stack cars that were introduced in the 1980s are an example of this type of car. When such a Double-stack car was loaded with stacked containers, the car body and containers exceeded the then available clearance of many sections of railways, tunnels, bridges and yards.

The combination of the width of the car body and the length of the car body between trucks causes clearances problems especially due to the swing-out of the middle of the car as the car travels through the sharpest turns. The height of the containers causes clearances difficulties that are partially overcome by lowering the floor of the car body down to a minimum height, but not too low such as to avoid causing the floor to hit the rails when loaded and/or when traveling over humped track.

Box cars and Auto Rack cars may also extend out to the maximum allowed clearances. In Auto Rack cars, utilizing the maximum allowed height was combined with the well-like, low-floor structure of a Double-stack car to create an adjustable multi-deck Auto Rack car as is shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,743,192 to Saxton et al., 5,794,537 to Zaerr et al. and 5,979,335 to Saxton et al. and commercially embodied in the Auto-Max® auto rack car built by Gunderson LLC. A cross-sectional view of an Auto-Max® car 20 is shown in FIG. 1 along with the proposed Association of American Railroads (AAR) clearance Plate K.

AAR clearance plates were developed to ensure that railcars would clear any obstructions on a given track if the car fits within the dimensions of the clearance plate. The proposed clearance Plate K includes a stepped portion 22 near the outer lower corners. This stepped portion 22 ensures clearance of a rail car over certain types of equipment found in rail yards, such as wheel retarders, that can protrude up into that space. The car 20 is built out to the maximum width and height possible to allow for multiple configurations of automobiles and trucks to be carried within the car on multiple decks. As is shown in FIG. 1, however, the bottom chord 24 and the lower portion of the side web 26 of car 20 extend beyond Plate K into the stepped portion 22.

Another concern for auto rack cars is to maximize the inside height of the car body to allow for larger vehicles and/or more configurations and combinations of vehicles. The Auto-Max® car 20 achieved this by ramping the A deck 28 down between the trucks 30 to allow for a maximum useable inside height at the middle of the car, as shown in FIG. 2. The A deck 28 begins its slant down into the well at the inboard edge 36 of the bolster top cover plate 38 (see FIG. 3). Vehicles are loaded by entering the car 20 onto the A deck 28. An end portion of the B deck 40 is hinged at hinge 41 to allow that portion of the B deck 40 to be raised up while vehicles are loaded onto the A deck 28.

FIG. 3 shows a side elevation view of the combination stub sill/body bolster assembly 32 of the Auto-Max® car 20. The stub sill 33 is of a conventional type utilizing a coupler 42 that is attached to an End of Car Cushioning device (not shown) located in the draft pocket 44. The body bolster 34 is also a mostly conventional box-type bolster into which a center plate 46 is mounted.

As is typical in a conventional stub sill/body bolster arrangement, the stub sill top cover plate 48 is vertically aligned with the body bolster top cover plate 38 and the stub sill bottom flange 52 is vertically aligned with the body bolster bottom cover plate 54. Such an arrangement allows for loads to simply transfer to and from the stub sill 33 and the body bolster 34.

Due to the loading requirements of this type of rail car, however, the relatively thick body bolster top cover plate 38 extends horizontally inboard. As noted above, the inboard edge 36 of the body bolster top cover plate is the point at which the A deck 28 may begin slanting vertically downward toward the rail. It is the location of this edge 36 that sets the horizontal location of the hinge 41, as shown in FIG. 2.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional end elevation view of a previously manufactured auto rack car.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side elevation view of a previously manufactured auto rack car.

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of a combination stub sill and body bolster of a previously manufactured auto rack car.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional end elevation view of an interface of a side assembly and a floor assembly in an auto rack car showing a z-shaped bottom chord in the side assembly.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional end elevation view of an interface of a side assembly and a floor assembly in an auto rack car showing an L-shaped bottom chord in the side assembly.

FIG. 6 is cross-sectional side elevation view of an auto rack car using an offset body bolster.

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of a combination stub sill and body bolster using an offset body bolster.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Disclosed herein is an auto rack rail road car that utilizes the maximum allowed width and height while at the same time has an outer profile that fits within the AAR proposed clearance Plate K.

Furthermore, a car is presented with an increased inside height of a lower deck longitudinally inboard of the stub sill by structuring the body bolster to be offset vertically downward from the stub sill. The available useable inside height of the lower deck is further increased by bending a longitudinally inboard portion of the body bolster top cover plate downward. By offsetting the body bolster downward and bending the longitudinally inboard portion of the body bolster top cover plate downward a ramp sloping downward into a between-trucks well area begins closer to an end sill as compared to a standard stub sill/body bolster structure. By moving the initial slope closer to the end sill in an auto rack car, the length of hinged portion of an overlying deck may be decreased, thus making the hinged portion of the overlying deck lighter and easier to hinge up and down.

FIG. 4 shows a cross-sectional end elevation view of an interface of a side assembly 60 and a floor assembly 62 of an auto rack car 64. The AAR proposed clearance Plate K is superimposed over the side and floor assemblies 60, 62.

To avoid extending into the stepped portion 22 of the clearance Plate K, the bottom chord 66 is a z-shaped channel that may be either formed or extruded. The side web 68 slopes laterally inboard to match the slanting portion 70 of Plate K and includes a horizontal leg 72 that affixes to a vertical portion 74 of the z-shaped bottom chord 66. The upper horizontal leg 76 of the bottom chord 66 is affixed to the laterally sloping portion of the side web 68. The floor assembly 62 is affixed to the lower horizontal leg 80 of the bottom chord 66.

By making the bottom chord 66 z-shaped, the bottom chord avoids extending outside of the clearance Plate K. The bottom chord carries longitudinal loads and supports the floor assembly 62. The width of the floor assembly 62 and the width between the vertical portion 74 of two opposing bottom chords 66 may be slightly narrower than that shown in FIG. 1, but this is not problematic because extreme vehicle widths do not typically extend down that low.

FIG. 5 shows a cross-sectional end elevation view of an interface of another side assembly 61 and a floor assembly 63. In this view, the side assembly 61 includes an L-shaped bottom chord 67. The side web 68 slopes laterally inboard to match the slanting portion 70 of Plate K and includes a formed horizontal leg 72 that affixes to a vertical portion 75 of the L-shaped bottom chord 67. The horizontal leg 77 of the bottom chord 67 is affixed to the laterally sloping portion of the side web 68. The floor assembly 63 is affixed to the vertical portion 75 of the bottom chord 67. The floor assembly 63 may be welded to the bottom chord 67, fastened to the bottom chord 67 or some combination thereof.

Referring now to FIG. 6, a cross-sectional side elevation view of an auto rack rail car 64 is shown. The car 64 includes a stub sill 82 with a coupler 84 mounted at the appropriate coupler height. The stub sill top cover plate 86 (see FIG. 7) is at the same height 87 above top of rail (ATR) as the stub sill top cover plate 48 of previously manufactured car 20 shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of the stub sill 82 and body bolster 88 of car 64. The body bolster 88, however, is offset downward from the stub sill 82. This is done by utilizing 28″ wheels on the underlying truck, as opposed to 33″ wheels used in previous cars. Also, the overall height of the body bolster 88 is decreased as compared to the typical body bolster 34 of FIG. 3. This lowers the body bolster top cover plate 90 so that it is vertically offset from the stub sill top cover plate 86. The body bolster bottom cover plate 92 is also vertically offset from the stub sill bottom flange 94.

The stub sill top cover plate 86 extends from the from coupler end 96 longitudinally inboard toward the body bolster 88 and includes a bent portion 98 that bends downward to contact the body bolster top cover plate 90. The stub sill bottom flange 94 is similarly downwardly bent to transition into the body bolster bottom cover plate 92. Side webs 100 of the stub sill 82 are cut into a shape that includes a section affixed to the downward sloping portions of the stub sill top cover plate 86 and the stub sill bottom flange 94.

The body bolster top cover plate 90 further may include a downward sloping portion 102 longitudinally inboard of the center plate 104. The sloping portion of the body bolster top cover plate 90 allows the A deck 106 of FIG. 5 to begin sloping downward closer to the center plate 104 than was previously done in car 20 of FIG. 3. This allows for the hinged portion 107 of the overlying B deck 108 to be shortened as compared to that in car 20. Shortening the hinging portion 106 decreases the weight of the hinged portion. The lighter weight means less force is needed to move and support the hinged portion 106, thus simplifying any hinging-assist mechanisms.

While an auto rack rail car 64 is shown as an example of utilizing both the z-shaped bottom chord 66 of FIG. 4 (or the L-shaped bottom chord of FIG. 5) and the offset body bolster 88 of FIGS. 6 and 7, any high width/high height well car would benefit from these structural elements.

Those skilled in the art recognize that the structures described herein can be implemented in many different variations. Therefore, although various embodiments are specifically illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated that modifications and variations of the present invention are covered by the above teachings and within the purview of the appending claims without departing from the spirit and intended scope of the disclosure.