|1.||A connecting ring (28; 28') for holding together inner race sections (24, 26) of adjacent bearings (14, 16), said ring being continuous and made of spring material and presenting means for engagement with said inner races, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that said means for engagement comprises two axially opposed, circumferential rows of outwardly protruding, resilient tongues (30; 30') .|
|2.||Connecting ring according to claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the tongues (30) have free ends (32) , and the free ends (32) of the tongues (30) of one row face the free ends (32) of corresponding tongues (30) of the opposed row.|
|3.||Connecting ring according to claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the tongues (30') of one row are circumferentially offset with respect to the tongues of the other row so as to lie between adjacent tongues of the other row.|
|4.||Connecting ring according to claim 2, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the ring (28) is made from steel, preferably stainless steel, and in that the tongues (30) are formed by stamping substantially Hshaped holes (34) at regular intervals around the ring (28) .|
|5.||Connecting ring according to claim 3, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the ring (28') is made from steel, preferably stainless steel, and in that the tongues (30') are formed by stamping substantially Ushaped holes (34') at regular intervals around the ring (28').|
|6.||Connecting ring according to claim 4 or 5, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the width (w) of the tongues (30, 30') in a circumferential direction corresponds to between 0.5 and 0.8 times the maximum extension (e) of the holes (34; 34') in said circumferential direction.|
|7.||Connecting ring according to claim 4 or 5, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the length (1) of the tongues (30; 30') in an axial direction corresponds to between 0.4 and 1.0 times the width (w) of the tongues.|
|8.||Connecting ring according to any one of claims 4 to 7, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the holes (34; 34') are provided with rounded corners (46; 46') where the tongues extend from the ring (28; 28').|
|9.||Connecting ring according to any one of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the axial extension of the ring is between 15 and 35 times its thickness.|
|10.||Connecting ring according to any one of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that in a noninfluenced state, the tongues (30; 30') protrude outwardly by a distance corresponding essentially to the thickness of the ring.|
The present invention relates to a connecting ring for holding together inner race sections of adjacent bearings according to the preamble of claim 1.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION:
Particularly in applications where a combination of radial and axial loads have to be accommodated, it is common to provide a bearing assembly in which two adjacent bearings of the ball, roller or taper type are arranged side by side. So that the bearings are always in the correct position relative to each other and to facilitate the assembly of the bearings in the housing, the inner races of the adjacent bearings can be held together by a connecting ring.
As described in e.g. US-A-1 908 474 and US-A-1 379 945, known connecting rings are predominantly U-shaped, with the bores of the inner races of the bearings being provided with corresponding grooves and a channel to accommodate the ring. The connecting ring is commonly made of a spring material and is cut to form an open ring in order that it may be snapped into the grooves and channel in the inner races. In one embodiment described in US-A-1 379 945, however, the ring is solid and designed to be made of a malleable metal which may be run or hammered into the grooves and channel of the bearings.
Whilst this latter type of connecting ring is much more difficult to apply, it does offer the advantage over the open ring that, once in place, it can only be removed by destroying the ring. This is particularly beneficial when
the housing in which the bearing assembly is located is often removed from the shaft on which the bearings run to allow inspection and maintenance work to be carried out on components attached to, or incorporated in, the housing, and the removal of the bearing assembly from the housing is unnecessary. Such is the case, for example, with a wheel hub assembly of a commercial vehicle. By providing a connecting ring which is difficult to remove dissuades the mechanic from removing the bearings, something which could otherwise lead to the ingress of dirt between the inner and outer races.
A connecting ring must be sufficiently strong to endure the loads which arise during assembly and use. For example, when used in the wheel hub assembly of a commercial vehicle, the connecting ring must be able to accommodate the forces generated during assembly of the hub, brake drum and up to two wheels. A connecting ring capable of withstanding relatively high loads is disclosed in DE-A-35 37 985. In contrast to the rings described above, the ring in said German document is located radially externally on the inner races of the bearings. This is because the strength of the ring is imparted by using an injection- moulded ring of considerable wall thickness, which implies that the bores of the inner races simply could not be machined by a sufficient amount to accommodate the bulk of the ring. Although the connection ring disclosed in DE-A-35 37 985 is provided with snap-in elements to aid the assembly of the bearings, the location of the ring between the inner and outer races hinders access to the ring when it becomes necessary to remove the bearings from the housing.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION: It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a high-strength connection ring which allows for simple
assembly of the bearings, which is difficult to remove once in place, but which is accessible for removal should removal be deemed necessary.
This object is achieved in accordance with the present invention by a connection ring according to claim 1.
Preferred embodiments of the connection ring according to the invention are detailed in the dependent claims.
The connection ring according to the present invention offers high strength, is easily accommodated in the bores of the inner races of the bearings and lends itself to simple manufacture.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS:
The invention will be described in greater detail, by way of example only, and with reference to the attached drawings in which:
Fig. 1 is a sectional view through a wheel housing assembly of a commercial vehicle with a connection ring according to the present invention in situ;
Fig. 2 is an elevational view of one embodiment of a connection ring of the present invention;
Fig. 3 is a partial plan view of the connection ring shown in Fig. 2;
Fig. 4 is a sectional view along line IV-IV of Fig. 3, and
Fig. 5 is a partial plan view of a second embodiment of a connection ring according to the invention.
BEST MODE OF CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION:
In Fig. 1, reference numeral 10 generally denotes a wheel hub assembly of a commercial vehicle. The hub assembly is intended to be rotatably carried on a stub axle 12 by means of a pair of taper roller bearings 14, 16 respectively. The bearings 14, 16 are housed in a wheel hub 18 which forms a part of the wheel hub assembly 10. The assembly also includes a brake drum 20 which is affixed to the wheel hub 18 by means of a plurality of bolts 22.
Each of the bearings 14, 16 presents an inner race 24, 26 respectively. As shown in Fig. 1, the inner races 24, 26 abut and are located by means of a connecting ring 28. The stub axle 12 in Fig. 1 is interrupted to more clearly illustrate the connecting ring 28.
The connecting ring 28 is made of a spring material, preferably stainless steel. As is evident from Figs. 2 to 4, the connecting ring 28 is continuous and is provided with two axially opposed, circumferential rows of outwardly protruding, resilient tongues 30. Preferably, the free ends 32 of the tongues 30 of one row face the free ends 32 of corresponding tongues 30 of the opposed row.
The tongues 30 are advantageously formed by stamping substantially H-shaped holes 34 (see Fig. 3) in a strip of spring material having a width and thickness corresponding to those of the connecting ring. In the embodiment shown in Fig. 5, corresponding features have been given the same reference numeral, though with the addition of a prime.
Thus, the tongues 30' in Fig. 5 are formed by stamping substantially U-shaped holes 34 in a strip of spring material. The stampings are arranged such that the free ends 32' of adjacent tongues 30' face axially towards each other, though with the tongues 30' of one row being circumferentially offset with respect to the tongues of the
other row so as to lie between adjacent tongues of the other row. The strip is then welded together at its free ends to form a connecting ring 28, 28' with tongues 30, 30' spaced at regular intervals around the ring 28, 28'. During the stamping operation, the tongues 30, 30' are bent outwardly so that in a non-influenced state after the ring is formed they protrude outwardly by a distance preferably corresponding essentially to the thickness of the ring. In an advantageous embodiment of the invention, between 8 and 24, preferably 16, tongues are provided in each circumferential row.
Preferably, the width w of the tongues in a circumferential direction corresponds to between 0.5 and 0.8 times the maximum extension e of the holes 34, 34' in the circumferential direction. In addition, the length 1 of the tongues in an axial direction corresponds to between 0.4 and 1.0 times the width of the tongues.
In order to reduce stress concentrations in the ring, it is advantageous if the holes 34, 34' are provided with rounded corners 46, 46' where the tongues 34, 34' extend from the ring 28, 28' .
So that the connecting ring 28, 28' is sufficiently stable to withstand the loads which arise in use, the axial extension of the ring should preferably be between 15 and 35 times the thickness of the ring.
Referring back to Fig. 1, the connecting ring 28 in accordance with the invention is accommodated within the inner race bores 36, 38 of the bearings 14, 16 resp. To achieve this, the bores 36 and 38 are machined to form a common flat channel 40 and a pair of grooves 42, 44, one grove in each inner race. The channel 40 and grooves 42, 44 are so dimensioned that the tongues 30 of the connecting
ring 28 project into the grooves 42, 44, with the free ends 32 of the tongues abutting the thus formed flange portions of the inner races.
Due to the resilient tongues 34, the connecting ring 28 can be easily inserted into the inner race of the one bearing and, once the connecting ring is in its terminal position, the tongues spring outwardly to lock the ring in place. The inner race of the second bearing can then be pushed onto the exposed half of the connecting ring 28 until it to is locked into place by the tongues of the second circumferential row.
Since the resilient tongues allow the connecting ring to be inserted into the bearing races with a "snap-in" effect, the connecting ring can be continuous. This implies that the ring according to the present invention can be considerably stronger for a given size than previous split rings. Removal of the connecting ring is purposefully difficult and can only be achieved using a levering tool.
Thus, the connecting ring according to the present invention is not intended to be reused. The fact that this type of ring dissuades the mechanic from unnecessarily removing the ring more than offsets the extra cost of having to use a new ring each time a ring is removed. In any case, the production costs of this type of ring are minimal.
The invention is not restricted to the embodiment described above and shown in the drawings, but may be varied within the scope of the appended claims. For example, although it is preferable that each row of tongues comprises at least eight tongues, it is conceivable that fewer tongues be provided, i.e. at least two in each row. The connecting ring need not be manufactured by welding together the free
ends of a strip, but may be made by stamping and shaping a continuous ring.