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Title:
SELECTIVE CUSHIONING APPARATUS FOR A RAILWAY CAR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/099675
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A selective cushioning apparatus for a railway car absorbs draft and buff loads applied to a coupler of a railway car during train assembly and normal operation. The apparatus according to the invention provides better cushioning than a conventional draft gear without the excessive travel and maintenance issues of a hydraulic cushioning unit. In embodiments, the selective cushioning unit is adapted to fit into an AAR standard pocket for a hydraulic cushioning unit.

Inventors:
RING, Michael (3572 W State Rd 10 Lot 13, Lake Village, Indiana, 46349, US)
SUNDE, Jonathan (14 Cortelyou Lane, Somerset, New Jersey, 08873, US)
Application Number:
US2018/061286
Publication Date:
May 23, 2019
Filing Date:
November 15, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
STRATO, INC. (100 New England Avenue, Piscataway, New Jersey, 08854, US)
International Classes:
B61G1/00; B61G3/00; B61G7/00; B61G9/00; F16F7/00; F16F9/00; F16F13/00
Foreign References:
US3838778A1974-10-01
US20080011700A12008-01-17
US2559743A1951-07-10
US3800961A1974-04-02
US3197037A1965-07-27
US20070007225A12007-01-11
US2469126A1949-05-03
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MEE, Brendan (Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz LLP, 1500 Broadway 12th Floo, New York New York, 10036, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. An end-of-car cushioning device for a railway car, comprising:

a yoke having aligned apertures at a front end adapted to receive a pin or key for attaching the yoke to a railway car coupler, and having a vertical wall at a second end of the yoke opposite the front end;

a coupler-receiving member adapted to receive buff force from the coupler and adapted to move inside the yoke;

a first stack of elastomeric units positioned between the coupler-receiving

member and the vertical wall of the yoke, each elastomeric unit in the first stack comprising a metal plate and at least one elastomeric pad, said first stack being compressed by draft and buff loads on the coupler; a front buff plate positioned adjacent to and rearward of the yoke and connected to a rear buff plate by a rod;

a second stack of elastomeric units positioned between the front buff plate and the rear buff plate, each elastomeric unit in the second stack comprising a metal plate and at least one elastomeric pad, said second stack being compressed in response to buff loads on the coupler; wherein,

the yoke, the front buff plate and the rear buff plate are positioned within a center sill of the railway car.

2. The end of car cushioning device according to claim 1, wherein the yoke is not

mechanically attached to the front buff plate or the rear buff plate.

3. The end-of-car cushioning device according to claim 1, wherein,

each elastomeric unit in the first stack comprises a metal plate having a vertically oriented face and an elastomeric member in a middle portion of the vertically oriented face; wherein

at least one of said plates comprises an edge portion extending around the

elastomeric member, said edge portion having a front surface feature that cooperates with a rear surface in an edge portion of an adjacent plate; and wherein

at full compression of the first stack, contact between the front surface feature and the rear surface of an adjacent plat prevents compression of an elastomeric member between them beyond a predetermined thickness.

4. The end-of-car cushioning device according to claim 3, wherein,

each elastomeric unit in the second stack comprises a plate having a vertically oriented face and an elastomeric member in a middle portion of the vertically oriented face; wherein

each plate in said second stack comprises an edge portion extending around the elastomeric member, said edge portion having a front surface feature that cooperates with a rear surface feature in an edge portion of an adjacent plate; wherein

at full compression of the second stack, contact between the front surface feature and the rear surface feature of adjacent plates prevents compression of an elastomeric member between them beyond a predetermined thickness.

5. The end of car cushioning device according to claim 4, wherein all of the elastomeric units in the first stack have a raised feature that mates with a recessed feature in an adjacent plate so that all of the elastomeric units in the first stack are nested.

6. The end of car cushioning device according to claim 5, wherein all of the elastomeric units in the first and second stack have a raised feature that mates with a recessed feature in an adjacent plate, so that all of the elastomeric units in the first and second stack are nested.

7. The end of car cushioning unit according to claim 1, wherein the front buff plate, the rear buff plate and the second stack of elastomeric units all have about the same approximately rectangular plan dimension which substantially corresponds to a rectangular cross-sectional dimension of the railway car sill; wherein one end of the rod is received in a recess in the front buff plate forming a flush front surface on the front buff plate; wherein the rod is received through aligned apertures in each of the elastomeric units; and wherein the rod, the front buff plate, the rear buff plate and the second stack of elastomeric units form an assembly positioned in the sill rearward of the yoke and separated from the yoke.

8. The end of car cushioning unit according to claim 6, wherein the sill has AAR

Standard EOC-8, EOC-9 or EOC-10 dimensions.

9. The end of car cushioning unit according to claim 6, wherein the aligned apertures of the yoke are adapted to receive a pin.

10. The end of car cushioning unit according to claim 9, wherein the yoke is an F-Type.

11. The end of car cushioning unit according to claim 6, wherein the aligned apertures of the yoke are adapted to receive a draft key.

12. The end of car cushioning unit according to claim 11, wherein the yoke is an E-Type.

13. The end of car cushioning unit according to claim 1, wherein the metal plates each has a face that substantially fills an interior cross-section of the sill.

14. An end-of-car cushioning apparatus for a railway car, comprising:

a yoke having a length, a front end, and a rear end opposite the front end, and having aligned apertures at the front end adapted to receive a pin or key for attaching the yoke to a railway car coupler, and having a vertical wall at the rear end;

a coupler-receiving member adapted to receive buff force from the coupler and adapted to move inside the yoke;

a first stack of elastomeric units positioned between the coupler-receiving

member and the vertical wall of the yoke, wherein said first stack of elastomeric units is compressed in response to buff and draft loads on the coupler;

a second stack of elastomeric units positioned behind the vertical wall of the yoke, wherein said second stack of elastomeric units is compressed in response to buff loads on the coupler; wherein,

the maximum force transmitted to a coupler with the cushioning apparatus during impact at a speed below 6 mph is 1.5 times the weight of the impact car; wherein

the maximum force transmitted to a coupler at a speed of 10 mph is 4.0 times the weight of the impact car; and wherein

the maximum force transmitted to a coupler (in klbs) at a speed between 6 mph and 10 mph is defined by a line having slope 0.625.

15. The end of car cushioning apparatus according to claim 14, wherein the maximum travel of the cushioning apparatus is about 6 to about 15 inches.

16. The end of car cushioning apparatus according to claim 14, wherein the maximum travel of the cushioning apparatus is about 6-3/4 inches.

17. The end-of-car cushioning apparatus according to claim 14, wherein,

each elastomeric unit in the first stack comprises a metal plate having a vertically oriented face and an elastomeric member in a middle portion of the vertically oriented face; wherein

at least one of said plates comprises an edge portion extending around the

elastomeric member, said edge portion having a front surface feature that cooperates with a rear surface in an edge portion of an adjacent plate; and wherein

at full compression of the first stack, contact between the front surface feature and the rear surface of an adjacent plate prevents compression of an elastomeric member between them beyond a predetermined thickness.

18. The end-of-car cushioning apparatus according to claim 17, wherein, each elastomeric unit in the second stack comprises a plate having a vertically oriented face and an elastomeric member in a middle portion of the vertically oriented face; wherein

each plate in said second stack comprises an edge portion extending around the elastomeric member, said edge portion having a front surface feature that cooperates with a rear surface feature in an edge portion of an adjacent plate; wherein

at full compression of the second stack, contact between the front surface feature and the rear surface feature of adjacent plates prevents compression of an elastomeric member between them beyond a predetermined thickness.

19. The end of car cushioning apparatus according to claim 18, wherein all of the

elastomeric units in the first stack have a raised feature on the respective edge portion of the plate that mates with a recessed feature in an adjacent plate so that all of the elastomeric units in the first stack are nested.

20. The end of car cushioning apparatus according to claim 19, wherein all of the

elastomeric units in the first and second stack have a raised feature on the respective edge portion of the plate that mates with a recessed feature in an adjacent plate, so that all of the elastomeric units in the first and second stack are nested.

21. The end of car cushioning apparatus according to claim 14, adapted to be positioned between front and rear stops of an AAR Standard EOC-8, EOC-9 or EOC-10 pocket.

22. The end of car cushioning apparatus according to claim 18, wherein each of the metal plates in the second stack of elastomeric units has a face that substantially fills an interior cross-section of the sill.

23. The end of car cushioning apparatus according to claim 14, wherein the first stack of elastomeric units substantially fills a cross section of the yoke vertically and substantially fills a cross section of the sill laterally.

24. An end-of-car cushioning apparatus for a railway car, comprising:

a yoke having a length, a front end, and a rear end opposite the front end, and having aligned apertures at the front end adapted to receive a pin or key for attaching the yoke to a railway car coupler, and having a vertical wall at the rear end;

a draft gear positioned between the vertical wall and the front end of the yoke; a second stack of elastomeric units positioned behind the vertical wall of the yoke, wherein said second stack of elastomeric units is compressed in response to buff loads on the coupler; wherein,

a maximum force transmitted to a coupler with the cushioning apparatus during impact at a speed below 6 mph is 1.5 times the weight of the impact car; wherein

a maximum force transmitted to a coupler at a speed of 10 mph is 4.0 times the weight of the impact car; and wherein

a maximum force transmitted to a coupler (in klbs) at a speed between 6 mph and 10 mph is defined by a line having slope 0.625.

25. The end of car cushioning apparatus according to claim 24, wherein the second stack of elastomeric units is a nested set of elastomeric units each comprising a rigid metal plate with an elastomeric pad in a center of each plate, each plate having a protrusion and/or an indentation for nesting with an adjacent plate at full compression of the pads, and wherein the set of elastomeric units is aligned and held together by a rod through a center portion of each plate.

26. An end-of-car cushioning apparatus for a railway car, comprising:

a rigid metal front plate,

a rigid metal rear plate, a nested set of elastomeric units held between the front plate and the rear plate by at least one rod, each said elastomeric unit comprising a rigid metal plate with an elastomeric pad in a center portion thereof, wherein

each plate has a protrusion and/or an indentation at a peripheral portion thereof for nesting with an adjacent plate to prevent compression of the elastomeric pads beyond a predetermined compression, and wherein

the front plate, rear plate and each elastomeric unit plate all have substantially the same vertical cross-sectional dimension, which substantially fills a lateral dimension of a railway car center sill.

27. The end-of-car cushioning apparatus according to claim 26, wherein the rod is flush mounted in at least the front plate and passes through the center of the elastomeric pads.

28. The end-of-car cushioning apparatus according to claim 26, wherein the rod is

adapted to apply a pre-stress to the nested set of elastomeric units, and wherein a distance between the front plate and the rear plate at maximum compression of the set of elastomeric units is reduced in a range of about 6 to about 10 inches from a pre stress distance between the front plate and the rear plate.

29. The end-of-car cushioning apparatus according to claim 28, wherein the stack is adapted to be positioned behind a yoke of a railway car.

30. The end-of-car cushioning apparatus according to claim 28, wherein the vertical cross section of the front plate, rear plate, and each plate of the elastomeric units is the same as the vertical cross section of a railway car center sill.

Description:
SELECTIVE CUSHIONING APPARATUS FOR A RAILWAY CAR

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[001] The invention is directed to a cushioning apparatus for a railway car, and more particularly to a selective travel apparatus that absorbs draft and buff loads applied to a coupler of a railway car.

[002] Railway cars in a train are connected to an adjacent car by a coupler. As is generally known, the coupler is joined to a yoke, for example an“E-type” or“F-type” yoke, by a draft key or pin, and the assembly is mounted in a railway car center sill. In “cushioned” railway cars, to prevent damage to the railway cars and the laded goods during operation, especially during assembly of the railway car train in the yard, various devices have been installed to absorb loads on the coupler so that impact forces transmitted to the railway car are reduced. Generally, either frictional draft gear or hydraulic units are used for this purpose.

[003] In a conventional frictional draft gear, one or more elastic elements, such as a coil spring or a set of elastomeric pads, is enclosed in a housing mounted in the yoke behind the coupler. A piston-like element frictionally received in the housing absorbs buff loads transmitted via a coupler follower which moves inside the yoke in response to buff impact force applied on the coupler, and the draft gear is compressed in the yoke in response to draft loads. The basic draft gear apparatus has been used for decades. However, in many cases unacceptably large forces are transmitted to the railway car. However, in many cases unacceptably large forces are transmitted to the railway car and it would be a desirable advance in the art to provide a cushioning apparatus that dissipates more force during impact than the conventional draft gear.

[004] A hydraulic cushioning unit comprises a piston received in a cylinder filled with fluid. Such devices may dissipate more energy than a conventional draft gear, but they are known to be prone to leakage. Further, a hydraulic unit has a response to impact loads characterized by longer travel for the amount of energy dissipated, which can negatively impact train handling. Also, the fluid in a conventional hydraulic unit does not cushion draft forces on the coupler. [005] U.S. Pat. No. 2,766,894 describes a selective travel draft gear with separate cushioning elements for buff and draft loads on the coupler. In this design, both of the cushioning elements are located forward of the back wall of the yoke.

[006] U.S. Pat. No. 2,825,472 describes a selective travel draft gear which comprises separate cushioning elements for buff and draft loads on the coupler, but both stacks of cushioning elements are attached to the yoke.

[007] U.S. Pat. No. 6,446,820 discloses a selective travel draft gear of more recent vintage where the separate draft and buff cushioning elements are coupled and adapted to fit into the draft gear pocket. These apparatuses have not been very well received, and may be prone to buckling, wherein a stack of elastomeric elements is pushed out of alignment and fails to operate according to specifications.

[008] U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2017/0210398 is incorporated by reference herein for its teaching of draft gear functioning and measurement of energy absorption.

[009] U.S. Patent No. 5,487,480 is incorporated by reference herein for its description of a hydraulic end-of-car cushioning (EOCC) unit.

[0010] All of the above-referenced U.S. Patents are incorporated by reference.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] In view of the prior art, one object of the invention is to provide an alternative cushioning device that provides cushioning over a range of impact speeds.

[0012] The invention is directed to a selective cushioning apparatus for a railway car that absorbs draft and buff loads applied to the coupler of the railway car. The apparatus according to the invention provides“softer” cushioning than a conventional draft gear without the excessive travel and maintenance issues of a hydraulic cushioning unit. In embodiments, a stack of elastomeric units may be adapted for installation behind a yoke having a draft gear therein to provide softer cushioning against buff loads and the standard pocket maybe lengthened. In other embodiments, the selective cushioning unit may be adapted to fit into an Association of American Railroads (“AAR”) standard pocket, including a separate stack of elastomeric units in front of the rear wall of the yoke in addition to the stack of elastomeric units behind the yoke. Thus, the apparatus according to the invention may comprise separate stacks of elastomeric units adapted for installation with a yoke in a standard pocket or in a non-standard pocket.

[0013] It is desired to provide alternative end of car cushioning apparatuses that avoid the complications of hydraulic cylinders, which provide cushioning over a range of impact speeds with an energy absorption profile intermediate that of conventional hydraulic cushioning unit and draft gear.

[0014] Another object of the invention is to provide a cushioning apparatus for a railway car that provides cushioning for both draft and buff loads applied to the coupler, limiting force transmitted to the railway car over a range of impact speeds, such as may be encountered during train build, where impact speeds may be in the neighborhood of 4- 14 mph or higher, and during start-up and stopping. Embodiments according to the invention may exhibit low displacement per unit of force applied over a range of relevant force levels.

[0015] Yet another object of the invention is to provide improved alignment and positioning of elastomeric pads in a cushioning device, to prevent over-compression, permanent deformation, and buckling during use.

[0016] Yet another object of the invention is to provide a cushioning apparatus that absorbs both draft and buff loads in a compact format, more easily installed in a standard pocket such as for an AAR standard EOC-9 or EOC-10 configuration.

[0017] These and other objects of the invention are met in one aspect with an end-of- car cushioning device for a railway car, comprising: a yoke having aligned apertures at a front end adapted to receive a pin or key for attaching the yoke to a railway car coupler, and having a vertical wall at a second end of the yoke opposite the front end; a coupler receiving member adapted to receive buff force from the coupler and adapted to move inside the yoke; a first stack of elastomeric units positioned between the coupler receiving member and the vertical wall of the yoke, said first stack being compressed by draft and buff loads on the coupler; a front buff plate positioned adjacent to and rearward of the yoke and connected to a rear buff plate by a center rod; a second stack of elastomeric units positioned between the front buff plate and the rear buff plate, said second stack being compressed in response to buff loads on the coupler; wherein, the yoke, the front buff plate and the rear buff plate are positioned within a center sill of the railway car; and wherein, the yoke is not mechanically attached to the front buff plate or the rear buff plate.

[0018] In another aspect, the invention resides in the arrangement of the plurality of elastomeric units, each comprising a plate and an elastomeric pad positioned in the middle of the plate. A first set of the plates is arranged in a rear or“buff’ stack and the plates are each sized to fill the sill area to ensure alignment of the elastomeric pads. A second set of plates is arranged in a front or“draft” stack, sized to fit inside a yoke. The edges of the plates extending around the elastomeric pads are configured so that the plates can nest with each other, and at full compression the edges of the plates contact one another to prevent overcompression of the individual elastomeric pads.

[0019] In another aspect, an end-of-car cushioning apparatus for a railway car, according to the invention comprises: a yoke having a length, a front end, and a rear end opposite the front end. The yoke may have aligned apertures at the front end adapted to receive a pin or key for attaching the yoke to a railway car coupler and a vertical wall at the rear end. The apparatus further includes a coupler-receiving member (also referred to as the“coupler follower”) adapted to receive buff force from the coupler and adapted to move inside the yoke. A first stack of elastomeric units is positioned between the coupler-receiving member and the vertical wall of the yoke, compressed in response to buff and draft loads on the coupler. (An “elastomeric unit” is defined herein as comprising a rigid plate and an elastomeric pad in a middle portion thereof). A second stack of elastomeric units is positioned behind the vertical wall of the yoke and is compressed in response to buff loads on the coupler. With the cushioning unit installed, the maximum force transmitted to a coupler during impact at a speed below 6 mph is 1.5 times the weight of the impact car. The maximum force transmitted to a coupler at a speed of 10 mph is 4.0 times the weight of the impact car. The maximum force (in klbs) transmitted to a coupler at a speed between 6 mph and 10 mph is defined by a line having slope 0.625.

[0020] In another aspect of the invention, an end-of-car cushioning apparatus for a railway car comprises a yoke having a length, a front end, and a rear end opposite the front end, having a vertical wall at the rear end and a draft gear positioned between the vertical wall and the front end of the yoke, such that the draft gear cushions buff and draft loads. A second stack of elastomeric units may be positioned behind the vertical wall of the yoke, such that the second stack of elastomeric units is compressed in response to buff loads on the coupler. The second stack of elastomeric units may be made of rigid metal plates with an elastomeric pad in the center of each plate, substantially laterally filling a cross section of the sill, which ensures alignment of the pads. The pocket may be non-standard and the number of elastomeric units may be selected to achieve the same cushioning level set forth above, i.e., a maximum force transmitted to a coupler with the cushioning apparatus during impact at a speed below 6 mph is 1.5 times the weight of the impact car; maximum force transmitted to a coupler at a speed of 10 mph is 4.0 times the weight of the impact car; and maximum force transmitted to a coupler (in klbs) at a speed between 6 mph and 10 mph is defined by a line having slope 0.625.

[0021] In still another aspect, the invention is an end-of-car cushioning apparatus for a railway car, comprising a rigid metal front plate, a rigid metal rear plate, a nested set of elastomeric units held between the front plate and the rear plate by at least one rod, each said elastomeric unit comprising a rigid metal plate with an elastomeric pad in a center portion thereof, wherein each plate has a protrusion and/or an indentation at a peripheral portion thereof for nesting with an adjacent plate to prevent compression of the elastomeric pads beyond a predetermined amount, and wherein the front plate, rear plate and each elastomeric unit plate all have substantially the same vertical cross-sectional dimension, which substantially fills a lateral dimension of a railway car center sill.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0022] The subject matter regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the concluding portion of the specification. The invention, however, both as to organization and method of operation, together with objects, features, and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following detailed description when read with the accompanying drawings in which:

[0023] Figure 1 is top view of a cushioning device assembly according to the invention assembled in a railway car sill; [0024] Figure 2 is an isometric view of a front portion of a cushioning device according to the invention;

[0025] Figure 3 is an isometric view of a rear portion of a cushioning device according to the invention;

[0026] Figure 4 is an isometric view of an improved selective travel cushioning device according to the invention attached to an“F” Type coupler;

[0027] Figure 5 is a cross sectional view of the improved selective travel cushioning device assembly of Figure 1, taken along view lines 5-5 of Figure 1;

[0028] Figure 6 depicts the response of a cushioning unit to static buff and draft loads;

[0029] Fig. 7 is a force-velocity plot showing the impact performance of a draft gear and a hydraulic unit compared to a selective cushioning unit according to the invention.

[0030] Fig. 8 is a force-displacement plot generated from a live impact test of a selective cushioning unit according to the invention at a velocity of 2.7 mph.

[0031] Fig. 9 is a force-displacement plot generated from a live impact test of a selective cushioning unit according to the invention at a velocity of 4.2 mph.

[0032] Fig. 10 is a force-displacement plot generated from a live impact test of a selective cushioning unit according to the invention at a velocity of 5.7 mph.

[0033] Fig. 11 is a force-displacement plot generated from a live impact test of a selective cushioning unit according to an embodiment of the invention at a velocity of 7.9 mph.

[0034] Fig. 12 is a force-displacement plot generated from a live impact test of a hydraulic cushioning unit according to the prior art having a l3-inch stroke at a velocity of 7.8 mph.

[0035] The drawings are not to scale and features not necessary for an understanding of the invention are not shown.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0036] Directions and orientations herein refer to the normal orientation of a railway car in use. Thus, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the“front” of a coupler is in a direction away from the body of the car and“rear” is in a direction toward the center of the car. Likewise, the“longitudinal” axis or direction is parallel to the rails and in the direction of movement of the railway car on the track in either direction. The “transverse” or“lateral” axis or direction is in a horizontal plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis and the rail. The term“inboard” means toward the center of the car, and may mean inboard in a longitudinal direction, a lateral direction, or both. Similarly, “outboard” means away from the center of the car. “Vertical” is the up-and-down direction, and“horizontal” is a plane parallel to the rails including the transverse and longitudinal axes. A“cross-section” of the sill, yoke or cushioning unit is a vertical cross- section parallel with the front of the railway car.

[0037] “Elastomer” and “elastomeric” refer to polymeric materials having elastic properties so that they exert a restoring force when compressed. Examples of such materials include, without limitation, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), natural and synthetic rubbers such as: neoprene, isoprene, butadiene, styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), polyurethanes, and derivatives. Thermoplastic copolyesters used in some conventional draft gear may be used in the stacks of elastomeric units according to the invention.

[0038] As used herein, the term “about” associated with a numerical value is understood to encompass a margin of +/- 20% of the value. An object is said to “substantially fill” a space (such as a railway car sill) when just enough space is provided to allow the object to move in the space without interference. This may mean a clearance of up to about ¼ inch laterally and up to about ¾ inch vertically.

[0039] In embodiments, a cushioning device according to the invention is adapted to fit into an Association of American Railroads (“AAR”) standard pocket. The dimensions of a standard pocket and permitted tolerances may be set by the AAR from time to time, and reference herein to AAR standards refers to standards in the AAR Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices in effect at the filing date of this application. A person having ordinary skill in the art has a general knowledge of AAR standards and the published AAR standards cited herein are incorporated by reference as background. Draft gears for freight cars are certified under either section M-901E or section M-901G of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Manual which require drop hammer tests. Hydraulic units are tested using dynamic impact tests set out in AAR standards M- 921B or M-921D. In embodiments, the selective cushioning apparatus fits between front and rear stops of an“EOC-9” pocket of about 38-3/4 inches described in AAR standard S-183. In other embodiments, the cushioning unit fits in a pocket length of about 48-3/4 inches described in AAR standard S-184 for an“EOC-lO” pocket. In other embodiments, the cushioning device may be adapted to fit other AAR standard or non-standard pocket dimensions depending on the application.

[0040] Embodiments of the invention include a separate stack of elastomeric units for positioning behind a yoke, which may be a custom sized E-Type or F-type yoke adapted to fit with the stack of elastomeric units in an AAR standard pocket size. Alternatively, a stack of elastomeric units according to the invention may be paired behind a standard yoke to absorb additional buff forces and a pocket may be modified for a particular design. In either case, the stack of elastomeric units has characteristic features, including a rear plate, a front plate and a set of adjacent rigid plates with at least one elastomeric pad between adjacent rigid plates, together referred to as an“elastomeric unit”.

[0041] The self-contained unit or“stack” comprises a front plate connected to a rear plate by at least one rod which passes through the elastomeric units. The ends of the rod may be mounted flush with the front plate, such as by providing a recess in the front plate. In embodiments, each plate and elastomeric pad has a hole in the center to receive the rod. However, this arrangement may be varied without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, pads may have a rectangular shape, or an array of pads, of any shape, may be used. In preferred embodiments, the elastomeric unit(s) of a stack substantially fill a vertical cross section the sill area to help align elastomeric units and pads in the sill. Each elastomeric pad may be circular when viewed in plan, having an outer diameter and an“inner diameter” which defines a through hole adapted to receive a center rod. The overall longitudinal dimension of a stack is arbitrary depending on the number of pads and the spatial requirements of the pocket. In embodiments, the stack may range between about 5 inches and about 80 inches in an installed state, which may provide for travel (independently of any other component of the cushioning unit) in a range of about 0.35 inches to about 11.5 inches, depending on the dimensions and materials of the plates and elastomeric pads. For example only, and not by way of limitation, a stack having a length of 18.875 inches has been developed which will supply 3.75 inches of travel, and a stack of 28.875 inches is adapted for 6.125 inches of travel.

[0042] In embodiments, the selective cushioning units according to the invention are adapted to have a travel of about 6 inches to about 15 inches at maximum travel, although it would be apparent to a person of ordinary skill in the art that an additional elastomeric pad and associated plate could be added to a stack, and that would increase the travel and create softer cushioning, but at the expense of more space being required in the pocket.

[0043] The rigid plates may be adapted to prevent over-compression of the elastomeric pads. For example, the plates may be made of cast or fabricated metal such as steel, and a stop surface may be provided on the periphery of the plate. Protrusions on the periphery of each plate permit a nesting arrangement of elastomeric units in stacks, which also contributes to alignment of the elastomeric units. Metal-to-metal contact on the stop surfaces occurs when an elastomeric pad between two adjacent plates is compressed a predetermined amount, such as 20-80%, and in embodiments 20-60%, of the uncompressed thickness of the pads. In embodiments, the pads in the front or draft stack compress about 0.5 inches (from their uncompressed thickness prior to installation) before metal to metal contact prevents further compression. In embodiments, the elastomeric pads are pre-stressed on installation. In embodiments, a protrusion on an elastomeric pad mates with a feature on an adjacent rigid plate to align the elastomeric units

[0044] For example, and not by way of limitation, the uncompressed thickness of a pad may be about 1.70 inches and the outer diameter may be about 8.82. Compressed for installation with a force of about 32 klb, the installed thickness of the pads is about 1.24 inches. Under full compression, with metal-to-metal contact of plates preventing further compression of pads, the pad thickness may be about 0.91 inches and the outside diameter may reach 10.63 inches. Thus, in embodiments, the pads and plates are designed to allow compression of 20-80 percent, and in embodiments 40-60 percent, where the amount that the pad is compressed at full compression is expressed as a percentage of the uncompressed thickness of the pad, prior to installation. The same elastomeric material may be used for the elastomeric pads in the draft stack as in the buff stack, such as a thermoplastic elastomer. In certain non-limiting embodiments, the pads may be made of thermoplastic polyester, such as Amitel® thermoplastic copolyester elastomer from DSM and Hytrel® thermoplastic polyester from Dupont. Suitable materials will typically have a Shore D durometer hardness of 40-70 and must have reasonably consistent properties across a temperature range that would be encountered during use.

[0045] From the fully compressed, pre-stressed and uncompressed thickness of each pad forming a stack, the modulus of the material, the number of pads and information obtained from static testing, an estimate may be obtained for the force profile of a stack (and a corresponding cushioning unit).

[0046] Figure 1 depicts a cushioning assembly 10 according to one embodiment of the invention, including a sill 13, coupler 14, and front and rear units 20, 30 of the cushioning device installed in the cushion unit pocket. Fig. 1 depicts center sill 13 with bell shaped opening 15 adapted to accommodate long shank coupler 14 for a greater range of coupler mobility, although the invention is not limited to a long shank coupler configuration. A first stack 17 of fourteen elastomeric units is positioned in front portion 120 forward of vertical wall 21 of the yoke 202 and behind the coupler follower 22, and a second stack 16 of eleven elastomeric units positioned in rear portion 130 behind the first stack 17, between a front buff plate and the rear buff plate

[0047] In embodiments, cushioning device assembly 10 may be characterized by a pocket length of about 38-3/4 inches described in AAR standard S-183 for an“EOC-9” pocket, or a pocket length of about 48-3/4 inches described in AAR standard S-184 for an “EOC-10” pocket. In other embodiments, the cushioning device may be adapted to fit other pocket dimensions.

[0048] In Fig. 1, and as used herein, the“cushioning unit pocket”, or simply the “pocket”, is defined by front lugs 11 and rear draft lugs 12 mounted on the interior of center sill 13. According to embodiments of the invention, the cushioning elements are adapted to be inside the center sill without significantly reconfiguring the sill geometry.

[0049] In Fig. 1, the cushioning apparatus comprises a first stack 17 of elastomeric units positioned forward of vertical wall 21 of the yoke, and a second stack 16 of elastomeric units positioned behind the first stack 17, between a front buff plate and the rear buff plate (as shown in Fig. 3). The cushioning unit comprises a front portion 20 and a rear portion 30, which are not fixed to one another. [0050] Fig. 2 is a view of a front“draft” portion 20 of a cushioning apparatus according to an embodiment of the invention. Yoke 206 includes rear vertical wall 21 and a front portion including two aligned apertures 23 adapted to receive a pin 42 (not shown in Figure 2). A coupler-receiving member 22, conventionally termed a“coupler follower” is adapted to receive buff force from the coupler and adapted to move inside the yoke. In the embodiment shown, coupler follower 22 includes a recess 24 adapted to receive the shank end of the railway car coupler 14, such that follower 22 moves under buff force from the coupler. The configuration shown in Figure 2 is“F-type”, in that a pin is used to attach coupler 14 (shown in Fig. 4) to yoke 206, and walls 26 are on the top and bottom of the yoke. An“E-type” configuration, using a draft key to attach the coupler to the yoke using draft key, may also be used without departing from the scope of the invention, and indeed without changing the dimensions of elastomeric units 25, or of the stacks 16, 17.

[0051] For ease of understanding the invention, a single elastomeric unit 25 is shown in Fig. 2 in the space between vertical wall 21 and coupler follower 22, each elastomeric unit comprising a metal plate 225, and at least one elastomeric pad 27. In actual usage, several elastomeric units 25 form stack 17 contained in this space (as shown in Fig. 4 and Fig. 5), which (in one non-limiting example) may be about 9-10 inches from the vertical wall to the follower, in a compressed state, comprising for example, 10-15 plates and a corresponding number of elastomeric pads, although other pad sizes and configurations may be employed to tune performance to a particular type of car or lading. In the embodiment shown, the elastomeric unit 25 includes metal plate 225 and a single elastomeric pad 27. In other embodiments, multiple elastomeric pads may be positioned on a plate. Fig. 4 depicts an installed position where coupler pin 42 engages the front side of aperture 23. When a draft load is applied on coupler 14 through pin 42, the first stack 17 of elastomeric elements is compressed between vertical wall 21 and coupler follower 22 which abuts stops 11. The first or“draft” stack 17 is compressed when the coupler is subjected to buff loads and also when the coupler is subjected to draft loads. To install the elastomeric units 25 in the front portion of the cushioning unit, the coupler follower 22 may be held in place with a predetermined pressure on the elastomeric pads 27, using a set of destructible shear pins fixing the coupler follower to the yoke. In the rear stack, two c-shaped spacers (not shown) may be provided on rear unit 30 between rear plate 32 and nut 54 to provide a pre-load on the rear stack for installation.

[0052] Referring again to Fig. 2, each elastomeric unit 25 comprises elastomeric pad 27 mounted in a recessed area 29 of the metal plate 225. The rigid plates may be adapted to prevent over-compression of the elastomeric pads 27. For example, the plates may be made of cast or fabricated metal such as steel, and a stop surface may be provided on the periphery of the plate around the recess. Additionally, protrusions 28 permit a nesting arrangement of elastomeric units 25 in stack 17, as shown in Fig. 4 and Fig. 5, which also contributes to alignment of the elastomeric units 25. Metal-to-metal contact on the stop surfaces occurs when an elastomeric pad 27 between two adjacent plates 225 is compressed a predetermined amount, such as 20-80%, and in embodiments 20-60%, of the uncompressed thickness of the pads. In embodiments, the pads in the front or draft stack compress about 0.5 inches (from their uncompressed thickness prior to installation) before metal to metal contact prevents further compression. The plates 225 forming front stack 17 extend to the walls and/or the straps of the yoke 206. By way of example and not limitation, an uncompressed thickness of each pad 27 forming front stack 17 may be about 1.37 inches. Installed, under a static load of 32 klb, the thickness of the draft pads is 0.92. Fully compressed, at the point when metal-on-metal contact of the plates prevents further compression of the pads, the elastomeric pads 37 in the draft stack may have a thickness of 0.68 inches. These dimensions are provided for guidance and should not be deemed to limit the invention. In practice many configurations are possible without departing from the scope of the invention.

[0053] The elastomeric pads 27 may be provided with a through hole in the center, which aligns with a protrusion, which may be cast, stamped or fabricated on the plate, for example, and provided to keep the pads in alignment. The diameter of the through hole may be referred to as the“inner diameter”. The lateral edge of each elastomeric pad 27 may be curved in a toroidal manner, and the outside diameter of the pad is measured at the middle of the thickness dimension of the pad.

[0054] Fig. 3 represents the rear“buff’ portion 30 of the cushioning apparatus, positioned adjacent to and rearward of the yoke and comprising front plate 31 connected to rear plate 32 by a rod 34 which passes through a plurality of elastomeric units 35. Although a single center rod 34 is shown, a plurality of rods may also be used. Each elastomeric unit 35 comprises a plate 226 and at least one elastomeric pad 37, similar in construction to the elastomeric unit 25. However, the plate 226 and the elastomeric pad 37 both have a hole to receive rod 34. As in the description of Fig. 2, only a single elastomeric unit 35 is shown in Fig. 3, whereas 10-20 plates 226 and a corresponding number of elastomeric pads could be employed, depending on the design. The elastomeric unit(s) 35 substantially fill the sill area to help align elastomeric units 35 and pads 37. Pads 37 may be shaped like pads 27. In the embodiment shown, each elastomeric pad 37 may be circular when viewed in plan, having an outer diameter. An “inner diameter” defines a through hole in the middle adapted to receive the center rod.

[0055] Pads 37 in the buff stack 16 may have the same general shape as pads 27 in the draft stack 17 but they are scaled larger. The maximum design force of the larger pads 37 is higher due to larger surface area, but the surface pressure on each pad is the same. For example, and not by way of limitation, the uncompressed thickness of a pad 37 may be about 1.70 inches and the outer diameter may be about 8.82. Compressed for installation with a force of about 32 klb, the installed thickness of the pads is about 1.24 inches. Under full compression, with metal-to-metal contact of plates 226 preventing further compression of pads 37, the pad thickness may be about 0.91 inches and the outside diameter may reach 10.63 inches. Thus, in embodiments, the pads and plates are designed to allow compression of 20-80 percent, and in embodiments 40-60 percent, where the amount that the pad is compressed at full compression is expressed as a percentage of the uncompressed thickness of the pad, prior to installation. Bolt head 33 is flush mounted in front plate 31 so that the rear unit 30 may be mounted directly against front unit 20. In embodiments, rear unit 30 is not attached to the front unit 20, which facilitates installation. As shown in Fig. 5, rod 34 is secured by nut 54.

[0056] The same elastomeric material may be used for the elastomeric pads in the draft stack as in the buff stack, such as a thermoplastic elastomer.

[0057] The elastomeric units of the draft pack are adapted to slide between straps 26 of yoke 20. In an E-type arrangement, the yoke is attached to the coupler using a draft key, but the performance considerations for the pads and plates are similar. [0058] In embodiments, draft stack 17 is provided in a pre-shortened installation configuration, which allows draft portion 20 and the buff portion 30 to slide into the pocket and allows the coupler to be installed without interference. A plurality of shear pins, for example four shear pins pass through the yoke into the coupler follower 22. The pins break on first impact, and in this fully-installed or post-installation position, the coupler is pre-stressed, applying buff force against the first and second stacks.

[0059] Figure 6 depicts performance modeling of a cushioning unit according to the invention using response to static buff and draft loads. The dynamic response of the material would be dependent on impact speed and could approach twice the static load values. Nevertheless, the response to static loads provides information to guide product design to achieve performance objectives. In this example, 11 pads are used in the buff stack, each having an uncompressed thickness of 1.7 inches and an uncompressed diameter of 8.82 inches. The draft stack comprises 14 pads, each having an uncompressed thickness of 1.37 inches and uncompressed diameter of 6.63 inches. A static compression test is performed to obtain the response to static load and subsequent recovery or“release”. Separation of compression and release curves represents hysteresis. The relatively large hysteresis depicted in the response curves is at least partly an advantage of using the plates to limit compression of the elastomeric pads within a predetermined range, resulting in a greater absorption and dissipation of impact energy. At the same time, very little permanent deformation is expected during the lifetime of the cushioning unit, on the order of less than 10%, preferably less than 5%. The stiffening observed under buff loads greater than about 400 klb occurs after the draft stack is fully compressed, and the rear“buff’ stack assumes the remainder of the force absorption. Hysteresis may be expressed as the ratio of energy absorbed by cushioning unit (W A ) to the energy input during impact (W E ) (modeled as a static load). Hysteresis for the cushioning unit may be extrapolated from the deflection of the buff and draft pads versus applied static force during compression and release from different starting points (i.e., pre-loaded, uncompressed and fully compressed). In embodiments a cushioning unit according to the invention will have a WA/W E ratio derived in this manner of 0.3 to 0.65. The large distance between the compression and release curves in Fig. 6 indicates relatively high hysteresis for a cushioning unit according to the invention. [0060] Fig. 7 depicts the amount of force transmitted to a railway car fitted with different types of cushioning at different speeds of impact. Area 200 shows the general operating area where draft gear may be expected to operate. Data 720 within area 200 show the performance of an individual draft gear (generated from available information). This curve is characterized by a sharp increase in the amount of force transmitted during an impact at above around 5 mph. Area 400 shows the general operating area where hydraulic units may be expected to operate. Data 740 within area 400 show the performance of an individual hydraulic unit having 13 inches of travel (generated from available information). Limiting curve 110 defines the maximum force that is permitted to be transmitted by a hydraulic unit having 6 to 9 inches of travel (as would be calculated according to AAR standard M-921B at a gross rail load (GRL) of 241 klbs). Limiting curve 120 defines the maximum force that would be permitted for a hydraulic unit having between 9 and 14 inches of travel using the same modified AAR M-921B standard. By way of comparison, data 730 was obtained for a selective cushioning unit substantially as described in connection with Figs. 1-4 , based on the impact testing described herein. The tested unit had 6-3/4 inches of travel at maximum compression and fit in an AAR-specified EOC-9 pocket. The selective cushioning unit occupies an intermediate range 300 between draft gear and hydraulic units, as described below.

[0061] Fig. 8 through Fig. 11 show the results of impact testing generated at different impact velocities for a selective cushioning unit according to the invention installed in a pocket length of about 38-3/4 inches between front and rear lugs of a standard center sill. For this size pocket, a selective cushioning unit according to one embodiment of the invention may be provided with fourteen elastomeric units positioned in a front stack, and eleven elastomeric units in the second stack, such that the total travel for the unit is about 6-3/4 inches.

[0062] Although testing must be performed for each unit, the results are expected to be scalable. For an EOC-10 pocket length of 48-3/4 inches, a comparable cushioning apparatus may comprise, in one embodiment, eighteen elastomeric units, providing for a total travel of about 9-1/4 inches.

[0063] The amount of travel and the energy absorption may be estimated by measuring the amount of compression on individual pads or in a stack under static compression and multiplying by the number of pads. The results of such modeling are shown in dotted lines in Figs. 2-5, wherein dotted line 70’ represents the estimated force transmitted to an adjacent car as a function of travel. Dotted line 80’ represents the recovery. The difference between the behavior of the pads (and the unit) in expansion versus compression is referred to as hysteresis. The ability of the cushioning unit to recover consistently is important to overall performance.

[0064] The plot of Fig. 8 was generated by a test approximating the AAR M-921B impact test, using test cars with a gross rail load (GRL) 241 klbs (slightly below the standard weight). Accordingly, the limiting curve 110 is calculated for GRL of 241 klbs. The speed of impact in Fig. 8 was 2.7 mph and the maximum travel was 2.34 inches. The maximum force measured was 181 klbs. The peak force at 2.7 mph is the starting point of line 30 in Fig. 7 (which is below the limiting curve 110). Because dotted lines 70’ and 80’ account for the pre-stress on the cushioning unit in its assembled state prior to impact and the measuring sensor does not“see” the pre-stress, the experimental plot is offset below the estimated curve near zero displacement.

[0065] The same test was repeated at 4.2 mph, depicted in Fig. 9 and a peak force of 246 klbs was measured at a maximum travel of 3.08 inches. Likewise, represented in Fig. 10, the impact test was repeated and a peak force of 321 klbs was measured at a maximum travel of 3.99 inches. In Figure 11, a peak force of 580 klbs and a maximum travel of 5.25 inches were measured at 7.9 mph impact velocity. The peak forces measured at each velocity are plotted in Fig. 7, showing that the maximum force transmitted fall below the modified limiting curve 110. Near-vertical drops at points along the force- displacement curve during compression reflect the absorption of draft loads on the coupler caused by recoil. As expected, more“noise” is observed in the data when the test is conducted at higher speeds. Accordingly, the data (for all of the tests) were filtered at 30 Hz for better presentation. These data show that with the amount of travel permitted for an apparatus having two stacks of elastomeric units according to the invention in an AAR standard EOC 9 pocket, the maximum force transmitted to a coupler can be maintained below 1.5 times the weight of the impact car where the weight of the car is 240 klbs. At higher speeds, the maximum force transmitted to a coupler at a speed of 10 mph may be maintained 4.0 times the weight of the impact car. And the maximum force transmitted to a coupler (in klbs) at a speed between 6 mph and 10 mph is defined by a line having slope 0.625, consistent with the AAR test. The expectation is that a larger pocket allowing greater travel will also meet the AAR standards currently used for hydraulic unit.

[0066] Pads in the stack 16 may have the same general shape as pads in the stack 17 but they are scaled larger. The maximum design force of the larger pads is higher due to larger surface area, but the surface pressure on each pad is about the same.

[0067] Hysteresis may be expressed as the ratio of energy absorbed by cushioning unit (WA) to the energy input during impact (WE). In embodiments a cushioning unit according to the invention will have a WA/WE ratio of 0.3 to 0.65. The large distance between the compression and release curves in Figs. 8-11 indicates relatively high hysteresis for a cushioning unit according to the invention. Calculated values from the impact tests of Figs. 8-11 for each impact speed are as follows:

TABLE 1

[0068] The impact tests of Figs. 8-11 utilized a selective cushioning unit according to the invention, having a possible travel at full compression of 6-3/4 inches (the maximum travel exhibited was 5.25 inches) attached with appropriate instrumentation to the coupler of a“hammer” car, and the force of impact between the cushioned car and a railway train having a loaded weight of about 241 klbs was measured at different impact velocities, in a range from about 2.7 mph to about 7.9 mph. The maximum force dissipated at each impact velocity was plotted to generate the force-velocity plot of Fig. 7.

[0069] The selective cushioning units described herein have a force absorption profile intermediate that of a standard draft gear and a conventional hydraulic unit. The tests described herein to characterize performance of cushioning units according to the invention are based on the AAR M-921B standard for hydraulic units, but the protocol was not identical to the standard. Fig. 12 depicts the performance of a hydraulic cushioning unit tested in a 7.8 impact test, with the same protocol that was used to generate Figs 2-5. in a 7.8 mph impact, with data being similarly filtered.

[0070] In general, the agreement between calculated and measured results provides confidence in the travel and energy absorption of the cushioning apparatus when the apparatus is lengthened or shortened to accommodate more pads or fewer pads. In tests involving actual railway cars with cushioning units installed, the speed of impact may be increased until maximum travel for the unit is achieved. For some selective cushioning units according to the invention, including those represented on the impact tests described below, the maximum travel is about 6-3/4 inches.

[0071] The description of the foregoing preferred embodiments is not to be considered as limiting the invention, which is defined according to the appended claims. The person of ordinary skill in the art, relying on the foregoing disclosure, may practice variants of the embodiments described without departing from the scope of the invention claimed. A feature or dependent claim limitation described in connection with one embodiment or independent claim may be adapted for use with another embodiment or independent claim, without departing from the scope of the invention.