Title:
Convertible railway maintenance apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rail maintenance apparatus having a plurality of equipment elements including: a rear railway wheel assembly, a tractor, a pair of laser beam receiver assemblies, a medial railway wheel assembly, a tamping device, a pair of laser aperture assemblies, a track clamping and lifting assembly, a forward railway wheel assembly, an extensible boom, and a pair of laser beam emitter assemblies engaged by and supported by a rail cart. The equipment elements are arranged and assembled so as to run on a railroad track. The laser emitters, apertures and receivers arranged to detect non-level track sections and the clamping and lifting assembly and tamping device arranged and enabled for lifting the track sections in order to re-level the sections.



Inventors:
Fedorchuk, Allan Wayne (Edmonton, CA)
Application Number:
11/499025
Publication Date:
02/07/2008
Filing Date:
08/04/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01B29/05
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCCARRY JR, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENT LAW & VENTURE GROUP, PLLC (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A rail maintenance apparatus comprising: a plurality of equipment elements including: a rear railway wheel assembly, a tractor, a pair of laser beam receiver assemblies, a medial railway wheel assembly, a tamping device, a pair of laser aperture assemblies, a track clamping and lifting assembly, a forward railway wheel assembly, an extensible boom, and a pair of laser beam emitter assemblies engaged by and supported by a rail cart, the equipment elements arranged and assembled so as to run on a railroad truck and on a paved surface.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a structural framework extending from the tractor forward to the forward railway wheel assembly, the framework supporting by the forward railroad wheel assembly and by the medial railway wheel assembly.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the rear and forward railway wheel assemblies are enabled for being raised so as to place the tractor and framework onto six tire wheel pairs for traveling on paved surfaces propelled by the tractor's engine.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the tamping device, track clamping and lifting assembly, and the forward railway wheel assembly are mounted on the framework.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 further comprising hydraulic motors engaged with the forward and rear railway wheel assemblies for propelling the apparatus on rails.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the boom is hydraulically driven and extendable to place the cart at a distance from the forward railway wheel assembly.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein the boom is mounted on a coupling enabled for horizontal rotation of the boom.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the laser beam source assemblies are enabled for emitting horizontal beams of laser light directed along each of two tracks, these beams being intercepted by masks mounted on the laser aperture assemblies, the laser beams further intercepted by apertures within the masks and by laser sensors mounted on top of the laser beam receiver assemblies.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Present Disclosure

This disclosure relates generally to rolling railway equipment for rail maintenance and more particularly to such an equipment capable of running on roadways as well as rails.

2. Description of Related Art Including Information Disclosed Under 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98

Theurer, U.S. Pat. No. 4,069,763 discloses a mobile track tamper comprising of a frame and a tamping head vertically moveably mounted thereon, the tamping head including a pair of vibratory ballast tamping tool implements arranged for reciprocation in the direction of track elongation and capable tamping blast under tack ties upon vertical downward movement of the tamping head and immersion of the tamping tool implements in the ballast. Each implement is a rigid unit which consists of a tamping tool holder and tamping tools mounted thereon. The tamping tool holder has an arm mounted on the tamping head for pivoting in a vertical plane passing through the rail and two arms extending traversely of the track from the vertically extending arm to the left and to the right of the vertical plane whereby the tamping tool holder is centered with respect to the rail. The tamping tools are symmetrically mounted on the traversely extending holder arms.

Plasser et al., U.S. Pat. No. 3,669,025 discloses a structural tamper unit that is vertically movably mounted on a mobile track tamping machine. The tamping tool carrier is pivotal in a plane parallel to the track, and a hydraulically operated drive means for vibrating the tamping tool carrier is mounted directly on the carrier.

Stedman et al, U.S. Pat. No. 4,152,991 discloses a ripping apparatus comprising a housing having a bearing assembly therein which is connected to a support member of a vehicle, a ripper mechanism having a shaft member pivotally mounted in the bearing assembly, a lever arm connected to the shaft member, a material ripping element connected to the bottom of the shaft member, and a fluid operated linear actuator connected to the support member and to the lever arm for rotating the ripping element between a retracted position and a transversely disposed working positions. The ripping apparatus is particularly adapted to shatter a compacted railroad bed underneath the rail and supporting ties.

Dancer, U.S. Pat. No. 4,890,958 discloses a railroad right-of-way trench plowing machine which includes a locomotive 11, standard flat car 12, a hydraulic boomed vehicle, such as a backhoe 13, attached to flat car 12, a steerable plowing blade 15 attached to the hydraulic boom 16 and a cable 14 attached at one end to the plowing blade 15 and the other end to the locomotive 11. The plowing blade 15 is pivotally attached to hydraulic boom 16 and has tooth 29 located at its bottom end, foot 28, which is disposed to point in the direction to be trenched. A cable guide 17, consisting of a J-shaped tube, is attached to trailing edge 26 of vertical blade 18 and is disposed such that utility cable 1, fed into the top end of cable guide 17, is automatically directed to the base of the trench. An optional feature provides a hydraulic ram 30 attached between pivoting blade 18 and the hydraulic boom 16 for hydraulically pivoting blade 18 about boom 16. Hydraulic ram 30 provides additional steering capabilities.

Hosking et al, U.S. Pat. No. 5,465,667 discloses a modular railway maintenance apparatus for performing at least one of a plurality of right-of-way maintenance tasks on a railroad track comprising a base unit including a frame having a plurality of wheels for rotatably engaging the railroad track, a first side corresponding to a first rail of the railroad track, a second side corresponding to a second rail of the railroad track, and at least one of a plurality of task-oriented modules being releasably connectable to the base unit for selective operation of distinct tasks on either side of the base unit.

Desmarais et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,596,822 discloses a cable laying apparatus for burying cable in or adjacent to a railway bed. A cable laying plough is mounted to a rubber tired loader and the loader moves forwardly under its own power while straddling the track. A pair of rail wheels are mounted on the forward and rearward ends of the loader. The cable laying plough is mounted to a bracket or plate spanning the track and pivotally mounted to hydraulically controlled arms extending from the loader. The plough may be attached to the bracket on either side of the track in order to reach cable burying positions located on both sides of the track.

Theurer, U.S. Pat. No. 5,660,112 discloses a work car for carrying out track maintenance operations, comprising a chassis with a coupling for detachably coupling the chassis to another car running on a track, undercarriages supporting the chassis on the running surfaces of the rails, at least one track maintenance operating device on the chassis, the device comprising hydraulically operable drives, a hydraulic fluid supply line, a hydraulic coupling at one end of the chassis for connecting the hydraulic fluid supply line thereto, and the chassis defining an upper boundary spaced from the running surfaces of the rails a distance not exceeding four meters in the region of the one chassis end and a distance not exceeding three meters at an end of the chassis opposite the one end.

Straub et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,671,679 discloses a system for detecting targets and for positioning at least one work module over a particular target to perform a task thereon. The system includes a movable machine having a main frame, a drive mechanism for propelling the machine across a base surface, a sensor associated with the machine for detecting locations of at least one target positioned on said base surface, and an encoder assembly associated with the machine for obtaining motion data. The motion data includes at least one of the displacement and velocity of the machine across the base surface. Also included is a control unit for receiving the target locations from the sensor, for receiving the motion data from the encoder assembly, for determining a target distance for the drive mechanism to propel the machine such that the work module is generally aligned with a particular target in a target area, and for creating a destination signal indicating when the work module is operationally aligned with the target area.

Masse, U.S. Pat. No. 6,862,822 discloses a mobile railway track repair apparatus that includes a mobile unit having a cab rotatably supported on a dual mode undercarriage wherein, a boom unit is pivotally supported by the cab and includes a boom support column pivotally attached to a boom arm having a universal connector unit provided on its lower end. In addition, the universal connector unit is operatively connected to an undercutter assembly wherein, a plurality of hydraulic piston elements are employed to manipulate the boom support column, the boom arm, and the universal connector unit to position the undercutter assembly in generally transverse relationship to the rail bed to extract weakened ballast from beneath the railroad track.

Theurer, U.S. Pat. No. 6,865,991 discloses a machine configured for tamping a track composed of rails that are fastened to ties resting on ballast. The rails extend in a longitudinal direction and have a field side and a gauge side, respectively, and the ballast forms tie supports located on the field side and the gauge side. The machine has a centerline extending in the longitudinal direction and comprises tamping units mounted opposite one another transversely of the longitudinal direction, each tamping unit having four tamping tine pairs composed of tamping tines and squeeze drives. The tamping tine pairs are arranged one following the other in the longitudinal direction and positioned, alternating in the longitudinal direction, at a shorter distance from the centerline for tamping tie supports located on the gauge side of the rails, and at a longer distance from the centerline for tamping tie supports located at the field side of the rails.

The related art described above discloses machines for maintaining railway tracks. However, the prior art fails to disclose a machine using precision laser leveling devices and is able to roll on roadways as well as railways. The present disclosure distinguishes over the prior art providing heretofore unknown advantages as described in the following summary.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This disclosure teaches certain benefits in construction and use which give rise to the objectives described below.

When rail traffic is heavy it is particularly difficult to maintain railways because maintenance equipment traveling on such railways is only able to leave a main track when a siding is available. The present equipment apparatus is able to be removed from the main track more frequently because it can use its tires to move off the track at any crossing and crossings are much more prevalent than sidings. The rail maintenance apparatus of this invention provides a plurality of equipment elements including: a rear railway wheel assembly, a tractor, a pair of laser beam receiver assemblies, a medial railway wheel assembly, a tamping device, a pair of laser aperture assemblies, a track clamping and lifting assembly, a forward railway wheel assembly, an extensible boom, and a pair of laser beam emitter assemblies engaged by and supported by a rail cart. The equipment elements are arranged and assembled so as to run on a railroad track. The laser emitters, apertures and receivers arranged to detect non-level track sections and the clamping and lifting assembly and tamping device arranged and enabled for lifting the track sections in order to re-level the sections.

A primary objective inherent in the above described apparatus and method of use is to provide advantages not taught by the prior art.

Another objective is to provide an improved railroad track leveling apparatus.

A further objective is to provide such an apparatus that is able to work well on railroad tracks that see heavy traffic.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the presently described apparatus and method of its use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

Illustrated in the accompanying drawing is a best mode embodiment of the present invention. In such drawing:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the presently described apparatus.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The above described drawing figures illustrate the described apparatus and its method of use in at least one of its preferred, best mode embodiment, which is further defined in detail in the following description. Those having ordinary skill in the art may be able to make alterations and modifications what is described herein without departing from its spirit and scope. Therefore, it must be understood that what is illustrated is set forth only for the purposes of example and that it should not be taken as a limitation in the scope of the present apparatus and method of use.

Described now in detail is a railway maintenance apparatus and system of use. Referring to FIG. 1 it is shown that the apparatus is mounted on rails 5 and comprises a rear railway wheel assembly 10, a tractor 20, a pair of laser beam receiver assemblies 30, a medial railway wheel assembly 40, a tamping device 50, a pair of laser aperture assemblies 60, a track clamping and lifting assembly 70, equipment and tool storage containers 80, a forward railway wheel assembly 90, an extensible boom 100, and a pair of laser beam emitter assemblies 110 mounted on a rail cart 112.

One set of the laser beam receiver assemblies 30, laser aperture assemblies 60, and laser beam emitter assemblies 110 is mounted directly over each of the rails 5 so that in FIG. 1 only one set appears, the other set being behind the set shown.

An extensive structural framework 120 extends from the tractor 20 forward to the forward railway wheel assembly 90. This framework 120 is supported at its forward end by the forward support wheel assembly 90, and at it rearward end by the medial railway wheel assembly 10. In this manner, the apparatus is enabled for rolling on rails 5.

The rear and forward railway wheel assemblies 10 and 90 are enabled for being raised so as to place the tractor 20 and framework 120 onto six tire wheel pairs 130, 132 and 134 for traveling on paved surfaces, e.g., roadways as propelled by the tractor's engine coupled to wheels 132, i.e., wheels 132 are drive wheels, while wheels 130 are steering wheels controlled from the tractor 20.

As shown in FIG. 1, the tamping device 50, track clamping and lifting assembly 70, equipment storage containers 80, and the forward support wheel assembly 90 as well as wheels 130 are mounted from the framework 120. On the road, the apparatus travels on its six tires, three of which are not visible because they are behind the three shown in FIG. 1. On rails 5, the apparatus travels on the railway wheel support assemblies 10 and 90 and are propelled by hydraulic motors 12 which propel the railway wheels of support assemblies 10 and 90.

The boom 100 is also hydraulically driven and in normal operation it is extended so as to place as large a distance between the cart 112 and the rest of the apparatus as possible. The boom 100 is able to rotate horizontally on coupling 105 to enable the boom 100 to remain extended on rails turns or bends.

In operation, and assuming a straight run of track, laser sources 111 mounted on laser beam source assemblies 110 emit horizontal beams of laser light 113 directed along each of the two tracks 5. These beams are intercepted by masks 61 of laser aperture assemblies 60 and pass through apertures within the masks 61. These beams continue through masks 61 and are then intercepted by laser sensors 31 mounted on top of laser beam receiver assemblies 30. Since sources 111, masks 61 and sensors 31 are all nominally at the identical height above the track 5, it is possible to detect when the track 5 at masks 61 is too low relative to the track under the cart 112. When this occurs, track clamping and lifting assembly 70 and track tamping device 50 are used to raise the track slightly and to re-compact ballast below the ties thereof. The tamping device 50 may be as described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,069,763, U.S. Pat. No. 6,865,991, or by U.S. Pat. No. 3,669,025, all of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference. The lifting assembly 70 is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,465,667 (see FIG. 7), which is incorporated herein by reference.

The enablements described in detail above are considered novel over the prior art of record and are considered critical to the operation of at least one aspect of the apparatus and its method of use and to the achievement of the above described objectives. The words used in this specification to describe the instant embodiments are to be understood not only in the sense of their commonly defined meanings, but to include by special definition in this specification: structure, material or acts beyond the scope of the commonly defined meanings. Thus if an element can be understood in the context of this specification as including more than one meaning, then its use must be understood as being generic to all possible meanings supported by the specification and by the word or words describing the element.

The definitions of the words or drawing elements described herein are meant to include not only the combination of elements which are literally set forth, but all equivalent structure, material or acts for performing substantially the same function in substantially the same way to obtain substantially the same result. In this sense it is therefore contemplated that an equivalent substitution of two or more elements may be made for any one of the elements described and its various embodiments or that a single element may be substituted for two or more elements in a claim.

Changes from the claimed subject matter as viewed by a person with ordinary skill in the art, now known or later devised, are expressly contemplated as being equivalents within the scope intended and its various embodiments. Therefore, obvious substitutions now or later known to one with ordinary skill in the art are defined to be within the scope of the defined elements. This disclosure is thus meant to be understood to include what is specifically illustrated and described above, what is conceptually equivalent, what can be obviously substituted, and also what incorporates the essential ideas.

The scope of this description is to be interpreted only in conjunction with the appended claims and it is made clear, here, that each named inventor believes that the claimed subject matter is what is intended to be patented.