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Title:
BALLAST REMOVAL METHOD AND APPARATUS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2002/052105
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A continuous method of removing ballast material particularly from a railway line bed comprising the steps of positioning an excavation apparatus (1) at the work site, advancing the apparatus along the bed to lift ballast from the bed, introducing the lifted ballast into the apparatus at one end thereof, conveying ballast from the excavation site through the apparatus to a selectively positionable delivery means (11) at the other end of the apparatus remote from the excavation site, from which the ballast is fed to a containment means for collection (14).

Inventors:
Steel, Allan Law (14 Sycamore Crescent Greenhills East Kilbride G75 9JX, GB)
Davies, William Richard (35 Jervis Court Sutton upon Derwent York YO41 4JX, GB)
Application Number:
PCT/GB2001/005796
Publication Date:
July 04, 2002
Filing Date:
December 24, 2001
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
DBT GB LIMITED (P.O. Box 9 Motherwell Lanarkshire ML1 1SN, GB)
JARVIS FASTLINE LIMITED (Jarvis House Toft Green York North Yorkshire YO1 6JZ, GB)
Steel, Allan Law (14 Sycamore Crescent Greenhills East Kilbride G75 9JX, GB)
Davies, William Richard (35 Jervis Court Sutton upon Derwent York YO41 4JX, GB)
International Classes:
E01B27/04; E02F3/20; E02F5/22; E02F7/02; (IPC1-7): E01B27/04; E02F7/02; E02F3/20; E02F5/22
Foreign References:
FR2588023A11987-04-03
US5228552A1993-07-20
FR1387729A1965-01-29
US1752714A1930-04-01
EP0626483A21994-11-30
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Fitzpatricks (4 West Regent Street Glasgow G2 1RS, GB)
Harrison, Goddard Foote (Belgrave Hall Belgrave Street Leed LS2 8DD, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS
1. A continuous method of removing ballast material particularly from a railway line bed comprising the steps of positioning an excavation apparatus at the work site, advancing the apparatus along the bed to lift ballast from the bed, introducing the lifted ballast into the apparatus at one end thereof, conveying ballast from the excavation site through the apparatus to a selectively positionable delivery means at the other end of the apparatus remote from the excavation site, from which the ballast is fed to a containment means for collection.
2. A continuous method of removing ballast material particularly from a railway line bed substantially as hereinbefore described.
3. An apparatus for the continual excavation and collection of ballast particularly from a railway bed, said apparatus comprising means for excavating ballast from the bed, conveying means for moving the ballast from the excavating means through the apparatus and selectively positionable delivery means for delivering ballast from the conveying means to a point of collection.
4. An apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the selectively positionable means comprises a boom mounted on the rear of the apparatus.
5. An apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the boom is provided with conveyor means for moving the ballast along the length of the boom.
6. An apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the conveying means passing through the apparatus comprises a conveyor belt from which ballast can fall onto the conveyor means of the boom.
7. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the excavation means comprises means for lifting ballast from the bed and means for feeding the lifted ballast onto the conveyor belt.
8. An apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the feeding means comprises a pair of contra rotating rotors provided with blades which direct the excavated ballast therebetween and deposit it onto the conveyor belt.
9. An apparatus according to any one of claims 38, wherein the apparatus is provided with means for transporting the apparatus to and from the rail bed.
10. An apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the apparatus may be provided with caterpillar tracks to allow the apparatus to be driven over rough or uneven ground as well as normal road surfaces.
11. An apparatus for the continual excavation and collection of ballast particularly from a railway bed substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to and as shown in the accompanying drawings.
Description:
BALLAST REMOVAL METHOD AND APPARATUS This invention relates to a method and an apparatus for removing ballast from a road bed and, more particularly, to an improved method and apparatus for removing ballast from a rail road bed, which apparatus can be controlled by a sole operator using a single vehicle to lift and remove ballast.

When preparing an area of ground for the laying of a road or railroad, the designated area is excavated and ballast material is laid along the route. The ballast material generally takes the form of gravel or broken stone and, in the case of a railroad, is placed on the excavated bed to provide a firm surface upon which the track is supported. The ballast also functions to hold the track in position when laid. Furthermore, the ballast material facilitates drainage of surface water from the rail bed to avoid flooding in bad weather.

Under some conditions, the ballast may become dislodged from the rail bed or, in some cases where safety checks or rail maintenance operations must be carried out, the ballast may require removal either for replacement or cleaning operations to be carried out.

This is particularly important if the ballast becomes clogged with dirt and debris as the proper drainage function will be impaired which could lead to flooding in low lying areas thereby requiring further safety operations to be carried out on the same stretch of track.

Traditional methods of removing ballast require the removal of the rails, which are stored at a location

perhaps adjacent to the railway line. A fleet of vehicles is then transported to the site to handle the removal operation. It is not unusual for at least 4 separate vehicles to be required, with personnel required for each vehicle.

Ballast is dug up from the rail bed for example using suitable earth moving equipment and the recovered ballast is then loaded into wagons to be removed from the site. Often the area in which the operation is taking place is difficult to access from road networks and this can add further time delays caused by the removal operation itself.

These traditional methods are both labour intensive in requiring different personnel to operate the various pieces of equipment and also time consuming in requiring equipment to be brought to the site and removed therefrom as required. For example, the earth moving equipment may have to be moved to and from the work site several times in order to fill a wagon with sufficient ballast.

Furthermore, the earth moving equipment may have to be removed from the work site to allow the wagon access to the work site for loading. This leads to a situation where either the work is progressed in stages to allow for the required equipment to be on hand at the appropriate times, or alternatively in a labour intensive operation which relies on a fleet of vehicles and a work force to operate the vehicles as and when required.

The present invention aims to provide a method and apparatus for removing ballast from a road way and particularly from a railway line, which overcomes or at least mitigates some of the above mentioned disadvantages

which are associated with traditional methods and apparatus used for removing ballast from such locations.

According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a continuous method of removing ballast material particularly from a railway line bed comprising the steps positioning an excavation apparatus at the work site, advancing the apparatus along the bed, introducing ballast into the apparatus at one end thereof, conveying ballast from the excavation site through the apparatus to a selectively positionable delivery means at the other end of the apparatus remote from the excavation site, from which the ballast is fed to a containment means for collection.

According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided an apparatus for the continual excavation and collection of ballast particularly from a railway bed, said apparatus comprising means for excavating ballast from the bed, conveying means for moving the ballast from the excavating means through the apparatus and selectively positionable delivery means for delivering ballast from the conveying means to a point of collection.

Advantageously, the above apparatus can be controlled by a sole operator. As the operation of the apparatus is continuous, the operator does not need to carry out the removal operation in stages but can drive the apparatus the length of the rail bed within which the ballast is to be removed and excavate and collect the ballast in a single operation.

Preferably, the selectively positionable means comprises a boom mounted on the rear of the apparatus.

Advantageously, the boom is provided with conveyor means for moving the ballast along the length of the boom.

Conveniently, the conveying means passing through the apparatus comprises a conveyor belt from which ballast can fall onto the conveyor means of the boom.

Preferably, the excavation means comprises means for lifting ballast from the bed and means for feeding the lifted ballast onto the conveyor belt.

Preferably also, the feeding means comprises a pair of contra rotating rotors provided with blades which direct the excavated ballast therebetween and deposit it onto the conveyor belt.

Advantageously, the apparatus is provided with means for transporting the apparatus to and from the rail bed.

Conveniently, the apparatus may be provided with caterpillar tracks to allow the apparatus to be driven over rough or uneven ground as well as normal road surfaces.

An embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a schematic side view of an apparatus for removing ballast from a road way in accordance with one aspect of the present invention; Figure 2 is a schematic front view of the apparatus of Figure 1 in operation adjacent a wagon for collecting ballast; and Figure 3 is a schematic overhead view of the apparatus of Figure 1 in operation.

Turning now to the Figures there is shown in Figures 1-3 an apparatus for removing ballast from a road way, particularly from a rail road bed. The apparatus is incorporated into a vehicle 1 which is intended to be driven and controlled by a single operator thereby overcoming the labour intensive problems associated with the prior art methods and apparatus used.

As shown in Figure 1, an apparatus for removing ballast comprises a vehicle 1 provided with suitable transport means 2. In the illustrated embodiment, the vehicle comprises a main frame 3 to which the transport means 2 for advancing the vehicle along a road bed are connected in a conventional manner. Advantageously, transport means 2 includes caterpillar tracks 4 mounted on either side of the vehicle and this provides adhesion to the ground for the apparatus to penetrate the ballast and these also allow the vehicle to be driven directly over rough or uneven ground in order to gain access to the road way to be worked on.

The apparatus further comprises means for excavating and lifting ballast from the rail bed. The excavation

means 5 is mounted on the front of the main frame 3 of the vehicle (as determined by the direction of operation of the vehicle) and comprises a loading apron 6 which may be formed of a wear resistant material. The loading apron comprises a generally C-shaped member which is mounted to the main frame at the closed end thereof.

Means (not shown) are provided on the mainframe 3 for raising and lowering the loading apron 6 towards and away from the rail bed and also for altering the transverse relationship with the main frame. This allows the position of the loading apron to be adjusted in order to ensure that the loading apron maintains the optimum position during operation.

Feeding means are provided within the loading apron 6 to encourage ballast excavated and lifted by the loading apron to pass through it back towards the main frame 3 of the vehicle. The feedings means in the illustrated embodiment comprise a pair of rotors 8 which are mounted side by side within the loading apron and a set of spill plates 7. The rotors are each provided with a plurality of blades 9 which may be formed of a wear resistant material. The blades are of a sufficient length as to advance ballast towards the centre of the loading apron. Means are provided within the loading apron of the vehicle for rotating the rotors 8 in opposite directions to facilitate advancement of the ballast.

Conveyor means are provided within the main frame 3 of the vehicle for conveying ballast from the loading apron 6 to the rear of the vehicle. The conveyor means may be in the form of a conveyor belt 10. In the

illustrated embodiment, the height of the conveyor belt increases as it passes through the vehicle 1. Means (not shown) may be provided on the main frame to adjust the height of the conveyor belt 10 if required. It is envisaged that the conveyor belt will be driven by hydraulic means provided on the main frame.

Additionally, tensioning means may be provided in order to adjust the tensioning of the conveyor belt to achieve optimum operation of the apparatus.

At the other end of the conveyor belt 10, remote from the loading apron 6, a selectively positionable feeding means is mounted to the rear of the vehicle.

The feeding means takes the form of a boom member 11 mounted onto the main frame 3 by suitable fixings which allow the position of the boom 11 to be adjusted as required.

The boom member is provided with a further conveyor belt 12 which extends along the entire length of the boom. As with the primary conveyor belt 10, this secondary conveyor belt may be provided with tensioning means to adjust the operational characteristics of the belt.

A control cab 13 is mounted on the main frame 3 of the vehicle and in the illustrated embodiment is shown as being located behind the loading apron 6 and above the primary conveyor belt 10. It is envisaged that the cab will be fully glazed in order to provide maximum visibility for the operator during use. Furthermore, the position of the cab allows the operator to oversee the operation of the apparatus in order that he can make any adjustments necessary during the excavation process.

Control means (not shown) are provided within the cab, as will be described further below, for operating the vehicle. Such control means may, for example, comprise amongst other things, means for operating and controlling the speed of the primary and secondary conveyor belts 10, 12, control means for raising and lowering the loading apron 6, control means for advancing, retracting and tilting the loading apron and control means for adjusting the position of the boom 11.

Additionally, standard vehicle control means will also be provided within the cab which will allow the vehicle to be driven along standard roads to any particular location where it may be required.

A wagon 14 is illustrated in the figures for collecting ballast excavated from the rail bed by the apparatus described above. The wagon is shown as being provided on an adjacent rail to the rail bed being cleared, although the wagon could of course be replaced with a skip or truck which can be moved along the rail bed together with the excavation apparatus in order to facilitate continuous operation of the apparatus.

This enables the apparatus to remove ballast in a single pass along the rail bed rather than a series of backwards and forwards operations to remove ballast and then return to a collection device to load recovered ballast onto a suitable means to allow for removal from the work site.

Additional control means (not shown) for the various components of the apparatus may also be mounted on the mainframe 3 of the vehicle. This may include for

example, power packs, fuel tank, electric and hydraulic equipment, service jacks and other associated means.

The operation of the apparatus will now be described with reference to the Figures. Firstly, the rails of the railroad bed from which the ballast is to be excavate are removed and stored at a suitable location such as adjacent to the rail bed. The removal apparatus as described above is then moved into position on the rail bed. The vehicle 1 upon which the apparatus is located may be driven to the required location or may alternatively be transported to the required location via the existing rail network prior to removal of the rails.

Wagons 14 or other suitable collection means is then provided adjacent to the collection apparatus and it is intended that the collection apparatus should be advanced together with the apparatus. It is therefore preferable that a wagon or wagon train be positioned on adjacent tracks to the rail bed to be removed to allow the apparatus to deposit collected ballast into the successive wagons.

Prior to use of the apparatus, the position of the boom 11 is adjusted so that the free end of the boom and the conveyor belt 12 provided thereon is located above the wagon 14 or truck into which the excavated ballast is to be loaded.

As shown in Figures 2 and 3, the position of the loading apron 6 of the apparatus can be adjusted, grading down into the ballast in order to bring the front of the loading apron into engagement beneath

ballast to be removed. The loading apron 6 and primary and secondary conveyor belts 10,12 are activated by the operator of the apparatus. As the vehicle 1 is advanced forwards along the rail bed, ballast is lifted into the loading apron.

Contra rotation of the two rotors 8 directs excavated ballast between the blades 9 and moves the ballast through the loading apron 6 onto the end of the primary conveyor belt 10 which is located within the loading apron.

The excavated ballast is then carried along the primary conveyor belt until it reaches the end of the belt at the rear of the main frame 3. It then falls from the end of the primary conveyor belt and drops onto the secondary conveyor belt 12 provided on the boom member 11 at the rear of the main frame. The ballast is carried along the secondary conveyor belt and falls from the free end of the conveyor belt into the wagon 14 or other collection means provided adjacent to the rail bed.

As the position of the boom member 11 and therefore the end of the secondary conveyor belt 12 can be controlled by the operator from within the cab, any inconsistencies in the distance between the vehicle and the adjacent collection means can be compensated for by suitable movement of the boom member.

Indicator means (not shown) may be provided within the cab 13 of the vehicle to allow the operator to monitor the position of the boom and to allow him to make suitable adjustments without interrupting the

operation of the apparatus. This enables the apparatus to be operated more efficiently and facilitates the one- pass operation of the apparatus as previously described.

In the embodiment shown in Figure 2, a wagon train is provided adjacent to the rail bed from which ballast is to be removed. In this embodiment, the apparatus can be driven along the rail bed excavating ballast as it advances. The ballast falling from the secondary conveyor belt fills each successive wagon as the apparatus advances along the bed. Once all of the wagons are filled they can be simply transported along the rail track to a suitable location for unloading.

It is to be understood that although the above description has been particularly directed towards the excavation of ballast from a rail way bed, the apparatus and method described could equally be used for the excavation of ballast from a road bed.

As has been described above, the method and apparatus allows for the continuous excavation of ballast from a road or railroad bed by a sole operator in a single vehicle with a single pass along the bed by the vehicle. This provides a significant advantage over prior art excavation methods and apparatus used therein.