Title:
Lid securement device and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lid latch operates to secure the periphery of a lid to a container. The device comprises latch housing, a trigger assembly, an arm assembly, and a linkage assembly. The housing defines opposing trigger access windows and comprises first and second pivot axes. The trigger assembly comprises a trigger having first and second member ends and is pivotable about the first pivot axis. The arm assembly comprises first and second anchor ends and is pivotable about the second pivot axis. The linkage assembly links the second member end to the first anchor end for transferring trigger action to the arm assembly. The access windows enable bidirectional access to the trigger, which trigger is thus actuable from opposing directions at the first member end. The actuated trigger unidirectionally pivots the second anchor end for displacing the second anchor end from a locked position to a release position.



Inventors:
Brewster, John B. (Homewood, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/401015
Publication Date:
10/11/2007
Filing Date:
04/05/2006
Assignee:
Holland Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D39/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCCARRY JR, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Meroni & Meroni, P.C. (Barrington, IL, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A latching lid system, the latching lid system comprising a lid assembly, an interface structure, and force-imparting means, the lid assembly being selectively lockable upon a select anchor structure, the lid assembly comprising a container lid, a plurality of lid latches, and assembly-lift-enabling means, the container lid having a container-engaging periphery, the container-engaging periphery having opposing lid portions, the latches being cooperatively associated with the container-engaging periphery at opposing lid portions, each lid latch comprising a multidirectional trigger and a unidirectional latch release, the triggers being actuable from multiple directions and the latch releases being operatively coupled to the triggers, the interface structure being adapted to enable a user to simultaneously engage each trigger for imparting uniformly directed forces thereagainst and for enabling the user to transport the lid assembly via the assembly-lift-enabling means, the force-imparting means for directing the interface structure into latch-releasing, assembly-transporting engagement with the lid assembly, the actuated triggers operating the latch releases to a release position enabling lid assembly transport, the deactuated triggers operating the latch releases from the release position to a locked position, the locked position for selectively locking the lid assembly to the select anchor structure.

2. The latching lid system of claim 1 wherein the latch releases each comprise an anchor-cooperative arm, the anchor-cooperative arm comprising an anchor stop, the anchor-cooperative arm being pivotal via trigger action about a first pivot axis, the anchor-cooperative arms thus being selectively extendable outwardly adjacent a select anchor structure, the selectively extendable anchor-cooperative arms for positioning the anchor stops in inferior adjacency to the select anchor structure for locking the lid assembly thereto and for positioning the anchor stops in lateral adjacency to the select anchor structure for enabling lid assembly displacement.

3. The latching lid system of claim 2 wherein the select anchor structure is selected from the group consisting of basal anchor structure, an inferior lid assembly, and a container, the lid assembly thus being selectively stackable when removed from the container for minimizing storage space.

4. The latching lid system of claim 3 wherein the lid latches of stackable lid assemblies are lockable to one another.

5. The latching lid system of claim 3 wherein the select anchor structure is a cargo container, the cargo container for receiving cargo and comprising an upper chord, the received cargo imparting laterally-opposing, chord-displacing forces, the latches being adapted for maintaining the lid assembly in locked relation upon the displaceable upper chord.

6. The latching lid system of claim 1 wherein the assembly-lift-enabling means are integrally formed with the lid latches and defined by latch housing, the latch housing having a Π-shaped transverse cross-section thereby defining opposing trigger access windows and an upper assembly lifting portion, the opposing trigger access windows enabling bidirectional access to the triggers and lifting access to the assembly lifting portion.

7. A lid assembly, the lid assembly comprising a lid structure, a plurality of lid latches, and assembly-lift-enabling means, the lid structure having a container-engaging periphery, the container-engaging periphery having opposing lid portions, the lid latches being attached to the container-engaging periphery at opposing lid portions, each lid latch having a bidirectional trigger and a unidirectional latch release, the triggers being actuable from opposing directions and the latch releases being operatively coupled to the triggers, the actuated triggers operating the latch releases from a locked position to a release position, the release position for enabling lid assembly transport, the deactuated triggers operating the latch releases from the release position to the locked position, the locked position for locking the lid assembly to select anchoring means.

8. The lid assembly of claim 7 wherein the latch releases each comprise an anchor-cooperative arm, the anchor-cooperative arm comprising an anchor stop, the anchor-cooperative arm being pivotal via trigger action about a first pivot axis, the anchor-cooperative arms being selectively extendable outwardly adjacent the select anchoring means, the selectively extendable anchor-cooperative arms for positioning the anchor stops in inferior adjacency to the select anchoring means for locking the lid assembly thereto and for positioning the anchor stops in lateral adjacency to the select anchoring means for enabling lid assembly displacement.

9. The lid assembly of claim 8 wherein the select anchoring means are selected from the group comprising basal anchor structure, an anchoring inferior lid assembly, and a container, the lid assembly thus being selectively stackable for minimizing storage space thereof.

10. The lid assembly of claim 9 wherein the lid latches of stackable lid assemblies are lockable to one another.

11. The lid assembly of claim 9 wherein the container is a cargo container, the cargo container for receiving cargo and comprising an upper chord, the received cargo imparting laterally-opposing, chord-displacing forces, the latches being adapted for maintaining the lid assembly in locked relation upon the displaceable upper chord.

12. The lid assembly of claim 7 wherein the assembly-lift-enabling means are integrally formed with the latches and defined by a latch housing, the latch housing having a Π-shaped transverse cross-section thereby defining opposing trigger access windows and an assembly lifting portion, the opposing trigger access windows enabling bidirectional access to the triggers and lifting access to the assembly lifting portion.

13. A lid securement device, the lid securement device for securing a lid structure to a container, the lid structure comprising a container-engaging periphery, the lid securement device comprising: a latch housing, the latch housing defining opposing trigger access windows and comprising a first pivot axis, a second pivot axis, and means for securing the latch housing to the container-engaging periphery; a trigger assembly, the trigger assembly comprising a trigger member, the trigger member having first and second member ends, the trigger member being pivotable about the first pivot axis; an anchor-cooperative arm assembly, the arm assembly comprising first and second anchor ends, the arm assembly being pivotal about the second pivot axis; and trigger-anchor linkage means, the linkage means linking the second member end to the first anchor end for transferring trigger action to the arm assembly, the opposing trigger access windows enabling bidirectional access to the trigger member, the trigger member thus being actuable from opposing directions at the first member end, the actuated first member end unidirectionally pivoting the second anchor end via the second member end, the linkage means and the first anchor end for displacing the second anchor end from a locked position to a release position.

14. The lid securement device of claim 13 wherein the arm assembly comprises an anchor-cooperative arm, the anchor-cooperative arm comprising an anchor stop at the second member end, the anchor-cooperative arm being pivotal via the trigger action about the second pivot axis, the anchor stop thus being selectively extendable outwardly adjacent a select anchor structure for locking or releasing the container-engaging periphery thereto, the selectively extendable anchor-cooperative arm for positioning the anchor stop in inferior adjacency to the select anchor structure for locking the container-engaging periphery thereto and for positioning the anchor stop in lateral adjacency to the select anchor structure for releasing the container-engaging periphery therefrom.

15. The lid securement device of claim 14 wherein the select anchor structure is selected from the group comprising basal anchor structure, an anchoring inferior lid securement device, and a container, the lid securement device and the lid structure thus being selectively stackable for minimizing storage space thereof.

16. The lid securement device of claim 13 wherein the latch housing comprises an assembly lifting portion, the opposing trigger access windows enabling lifting access to the assembly lifting portion.

17. The lid securement device of claim 13 wherein the linkage means enables the user to manually position the second anchor end intermediate the release position and the locked position independently of the trigger member.

18. The lid securement device of claim 13 comprising locked-position-restoring means, the locked-position-restoring means for returning the second anchor end from an actuated release position to a relaxed locked position.

19. The lid securement device of claim 18 wherein the locked-position-restoring means comprises pivot-resisting means, the pivot-resisting means being cooperatively associated with the trigger assembly for resisting pivotal motion thereof about the first pivot axis, the pivot-resisting means for returning the trigger member to a relaxed trigger position coincident with the relaxed locked position.

20. A lid latching method for selectively locking lid structure to select anchoring structure, the lid latching method comprising the steps of: outfitting a lid structure, the lid structure being outfitted with at least one lid latch, each lid latch comprising a multidirectional trigger and a unidirectional latch release, the latch release being operatively coupled to the trigger; actuating the trigger from a select direction, the actuated trigger for operating the latch release from a locked position to a release position; and deactuating the trigger from a direction opposite the select direction, the deactuated trigger for operating the latch release from the release position to the locked position, the locked position for selectively locking the lid structure to select anchoring structure.

21. The method of claim 20 wherein the lid structure has a container-engaging periphery, the container-engaging periphery having spaced lid portions, the container-engaging periphery being outfitted with at least two lid latches at spaced lid portions, the triggers being simultaneously actuated from the select direction and simultaneously deactuated from the direction opposite the select direction.

22. The method of claim 20 wherein the lid structure has a container-engaging periphery, the container-engaging periphery having opposing lid portions, the container-engaging periphery being outfitted with at least two lid latches at the opposing lid portions, the triggers being actuable from opposing directions, the triggers being simultaneously actuated from the select direction and simultaneously deactuated from the direction opposite the select direction.

23. The method of claim 20 wherein the release position enables lid structure displacement, the lid structure being repositioned from the select anchoring structure after actuating the trigger, the lid structure being positioned adjacent a container for lid-enclosing the container before deactuating the trigger, the locked position for locking the positioned lid structure to the container.

24. A method of protectively covering a gondola type railroad car to prevent a gondola cover from being blown off the car, the method including the steps of: latching the gondola cover at longitudinally spaced intervals to rail car rims extending longitudinally of the gondola type railroad car at a top open end of the gondola type railroad car; releasing all the latches located at the opposite sides of the gondola type railroad car; and lifting the gondola cover off of the gondola type railroad car preparatory to unloading the gondola type railroad car.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to a lid securement device for use in securing a lid structure to a container. More particularly, the present invention relates to a lid securement device, a lid assembly, a lid latching system, and lid latching method for latching a lid structure to a cargo type container.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Covers or lid structures for gondola type rail cars first appeared in the 1950's to keep environmental debris off of cargo contained in the cars. In the 1970's gondola covers were added to prevent moisture from contacting cargo (such as coal) and further to prevent portions of the cargo (such as coal dust) from escaping the container during transport. In the 1980's, covers were installed on gondola cars as a means to prevent moisture penetration and wind erosion of fine ore. Many of these prior art covers or lid structures were held in place by manual devices to prevent wind erosion. Additionally, moisture could not be tolerated. In response to the foregoing problems, covers were added. These early covers assemblies incorporated the use of manually operated hold down or latch type devices.

Gondola covers, especially made from fiberglass are light enough that a train moving through a cross wind will experience certain “kiting” or “wing” effects, which effects often lift the cover or lid off the car. In response to this problem, certain so-called “positive” hold-down devices were then developed. Manual hold-down devices function well to hold down gondola covers, but are labor intensive and have been found to be damage prone.

In the 1990's certain so-called automatic hold down devices were introduced by Eco-Fab of Vancouver, British Columbia. These devices were not truly automatic devices, however. The devices operated to “lock” the cover when it was dropped on to the railcar/gondola. The removal of this type of cover required a “spreader” device cooperatively associated with an overhead crane, which spreader device would drop down and engage the locks so that when the cover was lifted, the locks would release in a manner similar to manual lock release. A more accurate term for these types of devices is perhaps a “semi-automatic” lock.

In terms of patented prior art, U.S. Pat. No. 5,054,402 ('402 patent) discloses a Removable Cover for Gondola Cars with Lightweight Composite Panel Construction is illustrative of certain state of the art gondola lid systems. The '402 patent teaches a lid for gondola cars or the like and comprises a rectangular frame approximating in geometry and size the open top of a gondola car and supporting therein a plurality of lightweight panels. In accordance with a preferred embodiment, the lightweight panels are made of a polymer foam sandwiched between sheets of light gauge steel. The lid is retained on the gondola car by a plurality of spaced ratchet binders and includes a pair of spaced tripod straps attached thereto, wherein the lid may be conveniently lifted from and replaced on existing gondola cars. The lid has a weight of approximately twelve hundred pounds.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a lock or lid securement device for securing a lid structure to a container, the lid structure comprising a container-engaging periphery, and the lid latch comprising latch housing, a trigger assembly, an anchor-cooperative arm assembly, and a certain trigger-to-anchor linkage assembly. The latch housing defines opposing trigger access windows and comprises a first pivot axis, a second pivot axis, and means for securing the latch housing to the container-engaging periphery. The trigger assembly comprises a trigger member having opposing first and second member ends. The trigger member is pivotable about the first pivot axis. The anchor-cooperative arm assembly comprises opposing first and second anchor ends, and is pivotal about the second pivot axis.

The trigger-to-anchor linkage assembly essentially links the second member end to the first anchor end for transferring trigger action to the arm assembly, and the opposing trigger access windows enable bidirectional access to the trigger member. The trigger member is thus actuable from opposing directions at the first member end. The actuated first member end unidirectionally pivots the second anchor or arm end via the second member end, the linkage means and the first anchor end for displacing the second anchor end from a locked position to a release position.

Other objects of the present invention, as well as particular features, elements, and advantages thereof, will be elucidated or become apparent from, the following description and the accompanying drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other features of my invention will become more evident from a consideration of the following brief description of my patent drawings, as follows:

FIG. 1 is a right lateral view of a lid securement device of the present invention as attached to the container-engaging periphery of a fragmentary lid structure in adjacency to a top chord of a cargo container for latching the lid structure to the cargo container.

FIG. 2 is a posterior plan view of the lid securement device of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an anterior plan view of the lid securement device of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the lid securement device of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a right lateral view of a lid securement device of the present invention with certain parts broken away to shown otherwise hidden internal structures, namely, a trigger assembly, an arm assembly, and a linkage assembly.

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary lateral view depiction of a portion of the internal structures depicted in FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a right lateral view of a trigger member of the trigger assembly of the present invention.

FIG. 7a is a posterior view depiction of the trigger assembly of the present invention.

FIG. 7b is an anterior view depiction of the trigger assembly of the present invention.

FIG. 8a is a right lateral view of a roller guide of the linkage assembly of the present invention.

FIG. 8b is an anterior view of the roller guide of the present invention.

FIG. 9a is a right lateral view of the latch release arm of the arm assembly of the present invention.

FIG. 9b is a posterior view depiction of the latch release arm of the arm assembly of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a right lateral view of a spreader structure approaching the lid assembly of the present invention for lifting operation.

FIG. 11 is a right lateral view of the spreader structure resting on the top of opposing latch housings of the lid assembly.

FIG. 11a is an enlarged fragmentary view of the near portion of the spreader structure resting on a near latch housing.

FIG. 11b is a longitudinal view of a lifting pin of the spreader structure aligned within the trigger access window of the lid securement device.

FIG. 12 is a right lateral view of the near and far lifting pins of the spreader structure being inserted through the trigger access windows of the near and far lid securement devices.

FIG. 12a is an enlarged fragmentary view of the near lifting pin of the spreader structure inserted through the trigger access windows of the near lid securement device showing the latch release of the lid securement device in a release position.

FIG. 12b is a longitudinal view showing a frame side bumper of the spreader structure for aiding in proper alignment of the spreader structure adjacent the lid securement devices.

FIG. 13 is a right lateral view of the spreader structure and lid assembly being positioned in superior adjacency to the top chords of a cargo container.

FIG. 14 is a right lateral view of the spreader structure and lid assembly seated on the top chords of a cargo container.

FIG. 14a is an enlarged fragmentary view of the near portions of the spreader structure and lid assembly as seated on the near top chord of the cargo container shown in FIG. 14.

FIG. 15 is a right lateral view of the spreader structure being removed from the lid assembly, the lid assembly being locked to the top chords of the cargo container by removal of the spreader structure.

FIG. 16 is a fragmentary anterior view of the spreader structure of the present invention.

FIG. 17 is a right lateral view of the spreader structure of the present invention.

FIG. 18 is a fragmentary anterior view depiction of the lid assembly of the present invention showing a lid structure with longitudinally spaced lid securement devices attached thereto.

FIG. 19 is a right lateral view of the lid assembly of the present invention showing a lid structure with opposing lid securement devices attached thereto.

FIG. 20 is a right lateral view depiction of stackable lid assemblies of the present invention.

FIG. 21 is a top perspective view of a prior art, gondola type rail car cargo container containing cargo.

FIG. 22 is a side plan view of a prior art, gondola type rail car cargo container containing cargo.

FIG. 23 is a fragmentary side view depiction of a prior art crane for imparting directional movement to the spreader structure of the present invention.

FIG. 24 is a fragmentary side view depiction of a prior art fork lift truck for imparting directional movement to the spreader structure of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

Referring now to the drawings, the preferred embodiment of the present invention concerns a lid securement device 10 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 1-5, 11-15, and 18-20. Lid securement device 10 is designed to function in combination with a container lid or lid structure 11 (as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 1, 10-11a, 12, 12a, 13-15, and 18-20) to thus form a lid assembly. The lid assembly, comprising lid structure 11 and at least one lid securement device 10, further functions to lid-enclose a container 12 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 1, and 13-15. An exemplary container 12 may be defined by gondola type rail car 13 for hauling cargo 14 as generally depicted in FIGS. 21 and 22. Notably, cargo containers, such as container 12, function to receive cargo often of massive proportions. Cargo of this type typically imparts certain laterally-opposing, chord-displacing forces as generally depicted at vector arrow 102 in FIGS. 1 and 21. The latches or lid securement devices 10 of the present invention is adapted for maintaining the lid assembly in locked relation upon the displaceable upper chord 19 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 1, 13, 14, 21, and 22.

It is further contemplated that the lid securement device 10 of the present invention may be utilized in tandem with at least one other lid securement device 10 at spatially separated or opposing portions of a container-engaging periphery and be actuated or deactuated simultaneously by way of an interface structure and certain force-imparting means cooperatively associated with the interface structure. In this regard, the present invention contemplates a latching lid system comprising a lid assembly comprising at least one, but preferably opposing pairs of, lid securement device(s) 10; an interface structure or spreader structure 15 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 10-17; and certain force-imparting means, such as a fork lift truck 16 as generally depicted in FIG. 24 or a crane 17 as generally depicted in FIG. 23. It is noted that interface or spreader structures 15, fork lift trucks 16 and cranes 17 of the type generically and respectively depicted in FIGS. 10, 24, and 23 are common in the art and further are often utilized to impart forces to move or otherwise displace matter from one location to another. The unique elements of the lid latching system, operating in connection with one another, are believed to distinguish the system contemplated by the present invention over the prior art.

The lid assembly functions to be selectively lockable upon or locked to container 12, and preferably comprises a container lid or lid structure 11; a plurality of lid latches or lid securement devices 10; and certain assembly-lift-enabling means for enabling the user or operator to lift, transport, or displace the assembly via the force-imparting means. The container lid or lid structure 11 preferably has a container-engaging periphery or container-engaging flange 18 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 1, 11a, 12a, 14a, 18, and 19. The container-engaging flange or container-engaging periphery 18 inherently has, spatially separate or opposed lid portions as will be seen from a general inspection of FIGS. 18 and 19 in particular. The latches or lid securement devices 10 are cooperatively associated with the container-engaging periphery 19 at the opposing lid portions as generally depicted in FIGS. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, and 20.

Each latch or lid securement device 10 comprises a multidirectional or bidirectional trigger member 20 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 7-7b; a unidirectional latch release 21 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 2, 3, 5, 6, 9a-15, and 18-20; and a latch housing 28 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 1-5. In this last regard, it is contemplated that the assembly-lift-enabling means may preferably be defined by an assembly lifting portion 29 integrally formed with the lid securement device 10 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 1-5, and 10, 11a, 14a, 15, 18, and 19. It will be seen from an inspection and consideration of the noted figures that latch housing 28 preferably comprises a Π-shaped transverse cross-section thereby defining certain opposing trigger access windows 24 and 25, and upper assembly lifting portion 29. The opposing trigger access windows 24 and 25 enable bidirectional access to the trigger members 20 and lifting access to the assembly lifting portion 29

The latch releases 21 each preferably comprise an anchor-cooperative arm 26, and the anchor-cooperative arm preferably comprises an anchor stop 27 both of which are illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 1, 3-5, 9a, 9b, 11a, and 12a. The anchor-cooperative arm 26 is pivotal via trigger (and linkage) action about a first pivot axis 100 as generally referenced in FIGS. 1-6, 9a, and 9b. The anchor-cooperative arm is thus selectively extendable outwardly adjacent a select anchor structure, the selectively extendable anchor-cooperative arm either for positioning the anchor stop 27 in inferior adjacency to the select anchor structure for locking the lid assembly thereto or for positioning the anchor stops 27 in lateral adjacency to the select anchor structure for enabling removal of the lid assembly therefrom.

The lid securement device 10 of the present invention is thus usable for securing a lid structure (such as lid structure 11) to a container (such as container 12), which lid structure comprises a container-engaging periphery, and which lid latch comprises a latch housing, a trigger assembly, an anchor-cooperative arm assembly, and trigger-anchor linkage means. The latch housing comprises or defines certain opposing trigger access windows 24 and 25, and further comprises pivot axis 100; a second pivot axis 103 as referenced in FIGS. 1-5, and 7-7b; and certain means for securing the latch housing 28 to the container-engaging periphery 18 such as nut and bolt fasteners as receivable through bolt-receiving apertures 30 as referenced in FIGS. 1-3.

The trigger assembly preferably comprises a trigger member 20, and certain pivot-resisting means, the latter of which may be preferably defined by a first spring element 34 as generically depicted in FIGS. 6, 7a, 7b. It is contemplated that first spring element 34 may extend intermediate, and be attached at opposing ends to, a trigger offset 33 and latch housing 28 as fragmentarily depicted in FIGS. 6, 7a, and 7b. The pivot-resisting means function to restore the trigger member 20 to a relaxed upright position (when lid securement device 10 is in an attached state) when first member end 31 is disengaged or deactuated. The trigger member 20 has a first member end 31 and a second member end 32 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 7-7b. It will be seen from an inspection of the noted figures that first member end 31 is opposite second member end 32, the pivot axis 103 extending orthogonally thereto intermediate the length of trigger member 20, preferably through a trigger offset structure 33 as further referenced in FIGS. 5 and 7-7b. Notably, the trigger member 20 is pivotable (as referenced at vector arrows 105) about the pivot axis 103, when a force (as directed by way of the interface structure 15 or similar other force-providing member (such as a two-by-four board)) is directed against the first member end 31 as generally depicted in FIG. 5 at vector arrows 104.

The anchor-cooperative arm assembly preferably comprises a first anchor end 35 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 5, 6, 9a, and 9b; a second anchor end 36 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 1-3, 5, 6, 9a, and 9b; and certain lock-position-restoring means, the latter of which may be preferably defined by a second spring element 37 as generically depicted in FIG. 6. Second spring element 37 may preferably be defined by a torsional spring element axially aligned with pivot axis 100 and having a fixed end enabled by certain stop structure 113 cooperatively associated with latch housing 28 as depicted in FIG. 6. Notably, the lock-position-restoring may also be defined, in part, by the pivot-resisting means). It is important to further note, however, that the trigger-anchor linkage means function to enable the user to manually position the second anchor end 36 intermediate the release position 23 and the locked position 22 independently of the trigger member 20. Notably, the pivot-resisting means function to return the trigger member 20 to a relaxed trigger position as generally depicted in FIG. 5, which relaxed trigger position is coincident with the relaxed locked position 22.

The lock-position-restoring means function to restore the arm assembly or arm to a relaxed upright locked position (when lid securement device 10 is in an attached state) when first anchor end 35 is disengaged or deactuated. It will be seen from an inspection of the noted figures that first anchor end 35 is opposite second anchor end 36, the pivot axis 100 extending orthogonally thereto intermediate the length of the arm assembly, preferably through an arm offset structure 38 as further referenced in FIGS. 5, 6, 9a, and 9b. Notably, the arm assembly is pivotable (as referenced at vector arrows 106 in FIGS. 5 and 6) about the pivot axis 100, when a force (as directed by way of the linkage means or similar other force-providing structure) away from the first anchor end 35 as generally depicted in FIG. 6 at vector arrow 107. Offset structures 33 and 38 spatially enable the incorporation of spring elements 34 and 37.

The trigger-anchor linkage means may preferably be defined by a cable 39 (as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 5 and 6) or similar other (tensile) force-transmitting member, and a housing-fastened roller guide 40 as illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 5, 6, 8a, and 8b. The cable 39 essentially links the second member end 32 to the first anchor end 35 by way of the roller guide 40 for transferring trigger action (or force 107) to the arm assembly. The opposing trigger access windows 24 and 25 thus enable bidirectional access to the trigger member 20 and the trigger member 20 is thus actuable from opposing directions at the first member end 31. The actuated first member end 31 unidirectionally pivot the second anchor end via (1) the second member end 32, (2) the linkage means (e.g. cable 39 and roller guide 40), and (3) the first anchor end 35 for displacing the second anchor end 36 from locked position 22 to release position 23.

The select anchor structure or select anchoring means may preferably be selected from the group consisting of basal anchor structure such as an earthen or similar other pierceable substratum support surface 101 as depicted in FIG. 20; an inferior lid assembly as further generally depicted in FIG. 20 (there being three (3) lid assemblies stacked with certain inferior located lid assemblies providing anchoring support to superior located lid assemblies), and the container 12. Should the user elect the inferior and/or basal anchor structure as the select anchoring means, it will be understood from a consideration of the drawings and specifications here provided that the lid assembly may be selectively stackable when removed from the container 12 for minimizing storage space as generally referenced at 110 in FIG. 20. Notably, the latches of stackable lid assemblies are optionally lockable to one another as may be seen from a further consideration of FIG. 20. In this regard, it is contemplated that anchor arms 26 and anchor stops 27 may be optionally sized and shaped to cooperate with inferior located anterior access windows 24 for locking the superior located latch or lid securement device to one another, depending on the application specifications.

The trigger or trigger member 20 is thus actuable from multiple or opposing directions and the latch releases 21 are operatively coupled or linked to the trigger members 20 for unidirectional movement. In other words, no matter whether the trigger member is actuated whether from a left to right direction ( ) or from a right to left direction, the latch release 21 will move from a locked position 22 (as referenced in FIGS. 1-3, 5, 6, and 20, and as generally depicted in FIGS. 10-11a, 15, 18, and 19 to a release position) to a release position 23 (as referenced in FIGS. 6, 12a, 14a, and 20, and as generally depicted in FIGS. 12, 13, and 14. Access to trigger member 20 may be had via either anterior access window 24 as referenced in FIGS. 1, 3-5, 10, 11a, 15, and 18, or posterior access window 25 as referenced in FIGS. 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11a, and 15. It will be recalled that latch housing 28 preferably comprises a Π-shaped transverse cross-section thereby defining the opposing trigger access windows, namely, anterior access window 24 and posterior access window 25, as well as upper assembly lifting portion 29. The opposing trigger access windows 24 and 25 enable bidirectional access to the trigger members 20 and lifting access to the assembly lifting portion 29.

The interface or spreader structure 15 is adapted to enable a user to simultaneously engage each trigger member 20 whether via the anterior access window 24 or via the posterior access window 25 for imparting uniformly directed forces (i.e. forces having a uniform direction) thereagainst and for enabling the user to transport or displace the lid assembly via the assembly-lift-enabling means. The force-imparting means essentially function to direct the interface structure 15 into latch-releasing, assembly-transporting engagement with the lid assembly.

More particularly, the interface or spreader structure preferably comprises a spreader frame 40 for enabling engagement with spaced or opposed lid securement devices 10 as generally depicted in FIGS. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15-17. Depending on the number of lid securement devices 10 selectively attached to the lid structure 11, the spreader frame 40 will preferably comprise an equal number of lifting pins 41 for actuating trigger members 20 as generally depicted in FIGS. 11-12b; for lifting the assembly lift portions 29 as generally depicted in FIG. 13; and for deactuating the trigger members 20 as generally depicted in FIGS. 14 and 15. Lifting pins 41 are further illustrated and referenced in FIGS. 10, 16, and 17.

It will be understood from an inspection of the noted figures that lifting pins 41 structurally extend in the same direction for imparting uniformly directed forces against the trigger members 20 whether via anterior trigger access window 24 or posterior trigger access window 25. The force-imparting means operate to direct the interface structure 15 into engagement with the lid assembly (as referenced at vector arrows 112 in FIG. 10). Once spreader frame 40 is rested atop latch housing 28 as generally depicted in FIGS. 11-11b, the interface or spreader structure 15 may be further directed laterally such that lifting pins 41 actuate trigger members 20 as will be understood from a comparative inspection of FIGS. 11-11b versus 12-12b in view of FIGS. 5 and 6. It will thus be understood that the actuated trigger members 20 function to operate the latch releases 21 from the (relaxed) locked position 22 to the (actuated) release position 23 enabling lid assembly transport. The removed interface structure 15 (as referenced at 111 in FIG. 15) functions to deactuate trigger members 20 and thus further functions to operate the latch releases 21 from the release position 24 to the locked position 22, the locked position 22 for selectively locking or latching the lid assembly to the container 12 as generally depicted in FIG. 15.

If lid structure or covers must be moved by over head lifting devices such as crane 17 not suited to purposely designed interface or spreader structure 15, it is possible to apply chains with hooks to the latch housing 28 and thereby lift the lid assembly after the latch is manually blocked in the open or unlocked position using just a simple two-by-four (2″×4″) piece of lumber or other suitable shaped object to hold the latch away from the gondola car side. As earlier indicated, it is also possible (as enabled by the linkage means) for a person to manually displace the latch release from the locked position 22 to the release position 23 independently of any trigger action. The device has a latch which can be modified for various railcars or containers as may be required depending on the size of the top chord to engage other shapes mounted on the railcar as needed such as might be found on coil cars, hopper cars, flat cars etc. or even other vehicles such as trucks. The lid securement devices 10 allows for simple field repairs by removing nuts and bolts and replacing broken parts. This also allows the cover to be put on another car with a different profile of the top chord as may be further required.

While the above description contains much specificity, this specificity should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as an exemplification of the invention. For example, as is described hereinabove, it is contemplated that the present invention essentially discloses a lid assembly comprising a lid structure (such as lid structure 11), a plurality of lid latches (such as lid securement device 10), and certain assembly-lift-enabling means (such as assembly lifting portion 29). The lid structure inherently has a container-engaging periphery, which container-engaging periphery inherently has opposing lid portions.

The lid latches are attachable to the container-engaging periphery at opposing lid portions. Each lid latch preferably comprises a bidirectional trigger (such as trigger member 20) and a unidirectional latch release (such as latch release 21). The (opposing) triggers are actuable from opposing directions (i.e. via an anterior to posterior direction and via a posterior to anterior direction) and the latch releases are operatively coupled to the triggers. The actuated triggers function to operate the latch releases from a locked position to a release position for enabling lid assembly transport. The deactuated triggers function to operate the latch releases from the release position to the locked position, the locked position for locking the lid assembly to select anchoring means.

Further, it will be understood that certain methodology is inherently taught by the disclosed invention. In this regard, the present invention further contemplates a lid latching method for selectively locking lid structure (such as lid structure 11) to select anchoring structure as heretofore described. It is contemplated that the lid latching method generally comprises the steps of outfitting a lid structure with a lid securement device 10; actuating the trigger from a select direction; and deactuating the trigger from a direction opposite the selected direction. More particularly, the method comprises the steps of outfitting a lid structure having a container-engaging periphery, the container-engaging periphery being outfitted with at least one, but preferably two or more paired lid latches or lid securement devices. Each lid latch or lid securement device comprises a multidirectional trigger and a unidirectional latch release, which latch release is operatively coupled or linked to the trigger.

After outfitting the lid structure with at least one lid securement device, the trigger may then be actuated from a select direction, as selected by the operator and enabled by the multidirectional trigger. The actuated trigger functions to operate the latch release from a locked position to a release position. After actuating the multidirectional trigger from the selected direction, the trigger may then be deactuated from a direction opposite the selected direction. As noted throughout the foregoing specifications, the deactuated trigger functions to operate the latch release from the release position to the locked position or selectively locking the lid structure to select anchoring structure.

Preferably, the container-engaging periphery has spaced or opposing lid portions, the container-engaging periphery and is outfitted with at least two lid latches at the spaced or opposing lid portions. During the step of actuating the triggers, the triggers are simultaneously actuated from the select direction although spaced from one another or opposite one another. Similarly, the triggers may be simultaneously deactuated from the direction opposite the select direction. Notably, the release position enables lid structure displacement. In this regard, it is contemplated that the lid structure may be repositioned from the select anchoring structure after actuating the trigger(s) and positioned adjacent a container for lid-enclosing the container before deactuating the trigger(s). The locked position, in this instance, functions to lock or latch the positioned lid structure to the container.

A further method protectively covers a gondola type railroad car to prevent a gondola cover from being blown off the car, the method including the steps of (1) latching the gondola cover (such as lid structure 11) at longitudinally spaced intervals to rail car rims (such as upper chord 19) extending longitudinally of the gondola type railroad car (such as container 12) at a top open end of the gondola type railroad car; (2) releasing all the latches (such as lid securement devices 10) located at the opposite sides of the gondola type railroad car; and (3) lifting the gondola cover off of the gondola type railroad car preparatory to unloading the gondola type railroad car.

Further, it should be noted that for ease of illustration, the lid securement device of the present invention has been depicted as capable of receiving triggering forces (such as depicted by vector arrows 104) from opposing directions, which directions may be described as laterally-directed relative to the lid securement device. Foreseeably, the triggering forces could be oriented 90 degrees relative to the pivot axis 100 such that longitudinally directed forces could also operate to effect a release position and a relaxed position. Understandably, certain modifications to the described linkage means would be required to effect uniform arm assembly displacement. Having disclosed the preferred embodiment, however, it is believed that a person skilled in the pertinent art would not be unduly burdened to modify the linkage means and associated structures to achieve the foreseen functionality of lid securement device.

Accordingly, although the invention has been described by reference to certain preferred embodiments and methodology, it is not intended that the novel disclosures herein presented be limited thereby, but that modifications thereof are intended to be included as falling within the broad scope and spirit of the foregoing disclosure, the following claims and the appended drawings.