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Title:
TRACK SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/186890
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Track system for a vehicle having a chassis and a drive shaft extending laterally outwardly from the chassis includes: An attachment assembly having a pivot. A multi-member frame assembly including: a leading frame member pivotably connected to the attachment assembly via the pivot for pivoting about a pivot axis; a trailing frame member pivotably connected to the attachment assembly via the pivot for pivoting about the pivot axis; a leading wheel-bearing frame member at least indirectly pivotably connected to the leading frame member; a trailing wheel-bearing frame member at least indirectly pivotably connected to the trailing frame member. A damper interconnecting the leading frame member and the trailing frame member. A leading idler wheel assembly; a trailing idler wheel assembly; support wheel assemblies; a gearbox; a sprocket wheel; and an endless track.

Inventors:
SAUVAGEAU, Yves (1760, rue DesjardinsDrummondville, Québec J2B 3Y5, 3Y5, CA)
PELLERIN, Jonathan (525 boulevard St-Charles, Apt. 3Drummondville, Québec J2C 0C3, 0C3, CA)
NANAC, Branislav (5190 Martine, Drummondville, Québec J2E 1T6, 1T6, CA)
LAFRENIÈRE, Pascal (1135 rue Samuel, Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover, Québec J1Z 1L5, 1L5, CA)
MARTEL, Frédérik (2008 rue St-Damase, Drummondville, Québec J2B 6H6, 6H6, CA)
Application Number:
US2017/026701
Publication Date:
October 11, 2018
Filing Date:
April 07, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SOUCY INTERNATIONAL INC. (5450 Rue Saint-Roch, Drummondville, Québec J2B 6W3, 6W3, CA)
KIMPEX USA (100 Walnut Street, Suite 51Champlain, New York, 12919, US)
International Classes:
B62D55/104; B62D55/108; B62D55/112; B62D55/12; B62D55/14
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016049760A12016-04-07
Foreign References:
US20120242142A12012-09-27
US20120286565A12012-11-15
US20130119753A12013-05-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CUTLER, Jonathan D. (BCF LLP, 1100 Rene-Levesque Blvd WestSuite 250, Montréal Québec H3B 5C9, 5C9, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A track system for use with a vehicle having a chassis and a drive shaft extending laterally outwardly from the chassis for driving the track system, the track system comprising:

• an attachment assembly connectable to the chassis of the vehicle, the attachment assembly having a pivot extending laterally outwardly therefrom;

• a multi-member frame assembly disposed laterally outwardly from the attachment assembly, the multi-member frame assembly including:

o a leading frame member pivotably connected to the attachment assembly via the pivot for pivoting about a pivot axis;

o a trailing frame member pivotably connected to the attachment assembly via the pivot for pivoting about the pivot axis, the trailing frame member pivoting independently from the leading frame member; o a leading wheel-bearing frame member at least indirectly pivotably connected to the leading frame member;

o a trailing wheel-bearing frame member at least indirectly pivotably connected to the trailing frame member;

• a damper interconnecting the leading frame member and the trailing frame member;

• a leading idler wheel assembly rotatably connected to the leading wheel- bearing frame member;

• a trailing idler wheel assembly rotatably connected to the trailing wheel- bearing frame member;

• a first plurality of support wheels at least indirectly connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member;

• a second plurality of support wheels at least indirectly connected to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member;

• a gearbox having an input shaft operatively connectable to the drive shaft of the vehicle and an output shaft;

• a sprocket wheel operatively connected to the output shaft of the gearbox; and an endless track extending around the sprocket wheel, the leading idler wheel assembly, the trailing idler wheel assembly, and the pluralities of support wheels, and drivable by the sprocket wheel.

The track system of claim 1, wherein:

at least one of the leading frame member and the trailing frame member has an aperture therein; and

at least one of the gearbox input shaft and the drive shaft of the vehicle extends through the aperture, the aperture being shaped and dimensioned so as to allow pivotal motion of the at least one of the leading frame member and the trailing frame member notwithstanding a presence of the at least one of the gearbox input shaft and the drive shaft of the vehicle extending through the aperture.

The track system of claim 1, wherein:

the leading frame member has a first aperture therein;

the trailing frame member has a second aperture therein;

at least one of the gearbox input shaft and the drive shaft of the vehicle extends through one of the first aperture and the second aperture, the one of the first aperture and the second aperture being shaped and dimensioned so as to allow pivotal motion of the one of the leading frame member and trailing frame member notwithstanding a presence of the at least one of the gearbox input shaft and the drive shaft of the vehicle extending therethrough; and a stop extends within the other of the first aperture and the second aperture, the stop being structured and dimensioned to limit pivotal movement of the other of the leading frame member and trailing frame member.

The track system of any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein:

the endless track has leading, trailing and ground engaging edges;

a first angle is formed between the trailing and ground engaging edges, and a second angle is formed between the leading and ground engaging edges;

the first angle has a bisector; and

the bisector of the first angle passes below the pivot axis.

5. The track system of claim 4, wherein:

• the leading wheel-bearing frame member is directly pivotably connected to the leading frame member about a first axis;

• the trailing wheel-bearing frame member is directly pivotably connected to the trailing frame member about a second axis;

• idler wheels of the leading idler wheel assembly rotate about a third axis;

• idler wheels of the trailing idler wheel assembly rotate about a fourth axis;

• the first, second, third and fourth axes, and the pivot axis extend perpendicularly to a plane extending parallel to a longitudinal direction of the track system; and

• the second and fourth axes intersect with the bisector of the first angle.

6. The track system of any one of claims 4 to 5, wherein:

• the second angle has a bisector; and

• the bisector of the second angle intersects the pivot axis.

7. The track system of any one of claims 5 to 6, wherein the first and third axes intersect the bisector of the second angle.

8. The track system of any one of claims 5 to 7, wherein a first longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the pivot axis and the first axis is greater than a second longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the pivot axis and the second axis.

9. The track system of any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein a load supported by the trailing wheel-bearing frame member is greater than a load supported by the leading wheel-bearing frame member.

10. The track system of any one of claims 5 to 9, wherein a trailing support wheel assembly is pivotably connected to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member about a fifth axis, and a third longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the second axis and the fourth axis is greater than a fourth longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the second axis and the fifth axis.

11. The track system of claim 10, wherein leading support wheels are rotatably connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member about a sixth axis, and the fourth longitudinal distance is greater than a fifth longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the first axis and the sixth axis.

12. The track system of any one of claims 1 to 11, wherein a trailing support wheel assembly is pivotably connected to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member, the trailing support wheel assembly including a support wheel frame member, a pair of forward support wheels rotatably connected to the support wheel frame member, and a pair of rearward support wheels rotatably connected to the support wheel frame member.

13. The track system of any one of claims 1 to 12, wherein the attachment assembly includes:

• a plate having an outward face;

• the pivot connected to the outward face of the plate;

• the stop connected to the outward face of the plate; and

• a gearbox mounting plate connected to outward ends of the pivot and the stop.

14. The track system of claim 13, further comprising fasteners extending axially through the pivot to fasten the gearbox mounting plate.

15. The track system of any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the drive shaft is connected to the input shaft of the gearbox via a constant velocity joint.

16. The track system of any one of claims 1 to 15, wherein the damper is disposed laterally inwardly from the gearbox.

17. The track system of any one of claims 1 to 16, further comprising a bracket connecting the gearbox to the attachment assembly, the bracket extending above and around the damper.

18. The track system of any one of claims 1 to 17, wherein the track has a ground- contacting area that increases in size as a load borne by the track system increases.

Description:
TRACK SYSTEM

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application is a continuation-in-part of United States

Patent Application No. 15/515,197, filed March 29, 2017, entitled "Track System Having Low Vibrations" ' . The US Ί97 application is the United States National Stage of International Patent Application No. PCT/CA2015/050978, filed September 29, 2015, entitled "Track System Having Low Vibrations". Through the PCT '978 application, the present application claims the priority of: (1) United States Provisional Patent Application 62/057,110, filed September 29, 2014; (2) United States Provisional Patent Application 62/146,140, filed April 10, 2015; and (3) United States Provisional Patent Application 62/146, 113, filed April 10, 2015.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present technology relates to track systems for vehicles.

BACKGROUND [0003] Certain vehicles, such as, for example, agricultural vehicles (e.g., harvesters, combines, tractors, etc.) and construction vehicles (e.g., bulldozers, front- end loaders, etc.), are used to perform work on ground surfaces that are soft, slippery and/or uneven (e.g., soil, mud, sand, ice, snow, etc.).

[0004] Conventionally, such vehicles had have large wheels with tires on them to move the vehicle along the ground surface. Under certain conditions, such tires may have poor traction on some kinds of ground surfaces and, as these vehicles are generally heavy, the tires may compact the ground surface in an undesirable way owing to the weight of the vehicle. As an example, when the vehicle is an agricultural vehicle, the tires may compact the soil in such a way as to undesirably inhibit the growth of crops. In order to reduce the aforementioned drawbacks, to increase traction and to distribute the weight of the vehicle over a larger area on the ground surface, track systems were developed to be used in place of at least some of the wheels and tires on the vehicles. [0005] The use of track systems in place of wheels and tires, however, does itself present some inconveniences. One of the drawbacks of conventional track systems is that they tend to decrease the ride comfort experienced by the operator of the vehicle because the air cushion provided by a tire (between each wheel and tire) is not present in such track systems. Thus, vehicles equipped with such track systems in place of wheels and tires are typically subjected to an increased amount of vibration and vertical displacement when driven on uneven surfaces (as compared with the same vehicle having a wheel and tire), because the lack of an air cushion means there is no damping that would otherwise be provided if there were. In addition to potential increased operator discomfort, these vibrations and vertical displacements can potentially lead to premature wear of the vehicle, its component parts, and/or its attached accessories and equipment. Under certain conditions and at certain speeds, vertical displacements and vibrations transferred to the chassis can be so significant that it may be required to slow down the vehicle. [0006] United States Patent Application Publication No. 2015/0266524 Al, published September 24, 2015, and entitled "Crawler Vehicle", provides what is purported to be an improved track system in view of the vibrations which may occur with track systems described hereinabove. According to its abstract, the '524 US Publication describes a technology wherein: "A crawler vehicle has a body and at least one left and one right track roller unit. The track roller units are connected to the body via a machine axis. The track roller units comprise a first and a second guide roller as well as a first and a second supporting arm on which the guide rollers are mounted. The first and the second supporting arms of each roller unit are mounted to be pivotable independently of one another about the machine axis." [0007] While the technology described in the '524 US Publication may indeed ameliorate some of the drawbacks of conventional track systems, continued improvement in this area is desirable.

SUMMARY

[0008] It is therefore an object of the present technology to ameliorate the situation with respect to at least one of the inconveniences present in the prior art. [0009] It is also an object of the present invention to provide an improved track system at least in some instances as compared with some of the prior art.

[0010] According to an aspect of the present technology, there is provided a track system for use with a vehicle having a chassis and a drive shaft extending laterally outwardly from the chassis for driving the track system. In the context of the present technology, the "drive shaft" of the vehicle should be understood to be the vehicle drivetrain component that ultimately transmits rotational forces generated by the engine to the ground engaging assembly of the vehicle (e.g. the vehicle's wheel assembly when such is mounted on the vehicle, or the vehicle's track system when such is mounted on the vehicle, etc.).

[0011] The track system includes an attachment assembly that is connectable to the chassis of the vehicle. The attachment assembly has a pivot extending laterally outwardly therefrom.

[0012] The track system further includes a multi-member frame assembly disposed laterally outwardly from the attachment assembly. The multi-member frame assembly includes a leading frame member pivotably connected to the attachment assembly via the pivot for pivoting about a pivot axis and a trailing frame member pivotably connected to the attachment assembly via the pivot for pivoting about a pivot axis. The trailing frame member pivots independently from the leading frame member. The leading and trailing frame members are structural components of the track system capable of supporting a material portion of the weight of the vehicle. They may be termed "primary" frame members in embodiments where they generally define the overall structure of the track system, or in embodiments where they are the frame members of the track system that first receive the load of the vehicle. In the context of the present technology, the "leading" components of the track system are those that are disposed toward the front end of the vehicle (when the track system is properly installed on the vehicle), and the "trailing" components are those that are disposed toward the rear end of the track vehicle (when the track system is properly installed on the vehicle). [0013] The track system further includes a leading wheel-bearing frame member at least indirectly pivotably connected to the leading frame member and a trailing wheel-bearing frame member at least indirectly pivotably connected to the trailing frame member. In the context of the present technology, the qualification of a wheel-bearing member as "at least indirectly pivotably connected" includes a wheel- bearing member that is directly pivotably connected to a frame member as well as a wheel-bearing member that is pivotably connected a frame member through an intermediate structure or structures, be they intermediate frame members or otherwise.

[0014] The track system further includes a damper interconnecting the leading frame member and the trailing frame member; a leading idler wheel assembly rotatably connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member; a trailing idler wheel assembly rotatably connected to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member; and a plurality of support wheel assemblies disposed intermediate the leading idler wheel assembly and the trailing idler wheel assembly.

[0015] The track system further includes a gearbox having an input shaft operatively connectable to the drive shaft of the vehicle and an output shaft; a sprocket wheel operatively connected to the output shaft of the gearbox; and an endless track extending around the sprocket wheel, the leading idler wheel assembly, the trailing idler wheel assembly, and the plurality of support wheel assemblies, and drivable by the sprocket wheel.

[0016] The track system of the present technology is directed towards improving the ride comfort experienced by the operator of the vehicle under certain conditions. For example, improvement to the ride comfort might be perceived by the operator when vertical displacements of the chassis of the vehicle due to the unevenness of the ground surface are reduced and/or when vibrations generated as the vehicle travels over the ground surface are damped before being transferred from the track assembly to the vehicle chassis.

[0017] The leading and trailing frame members of the track system of the present technology define a somewhat scissor-like structure, with each frame member pivoting about the pivot, and the damper interconnected therebetween. Each one of the leading and trailing wheel-bearing members is in turn pivotably connected to the leading or trailing frame member, respectively. The pivoting of each of these structures, along with the damper, may assist in reducing the vertical displacements and vibrations transferred to the chassis under certain conditions.

[0018] In addition, having a track system with a scissor-like structure may have other advantages in different situations. For example, as the weight of the vehicle increases, e.g. during harvesting operations, the scissor-like structure can open and the ground-contacting portion of the endless track occurs over an increased surface area (i.e. the ground contacting area can increase in size as the load borne by the track system increases - at least for some increases in load - depending on the design of a specific track system). As a result, in some circumstances, the pressure applied to the ground by the endless track (owing to the weight of the vehicle) increases at a lower rate than the weight of the vehicle. In certain embodiments, this will allow a track system of the present technology to bear additional loads as compared with conventional track systems.

[0019] The track system of the present technology, under certain conditions, can provide improved capability when the vehicle to which it is installed is travelling over soft ground. In this respect, in conventional track systems, there is a tendency of the leading edge of the endless track to pitch negatively (also known sometimes as to "dive" in the art) into soft ground when high tractive forces are requested of the track system. Such negative pitching of the leading edge of the track system can lead to track system and/or vehicle damage under some conditions. In some embodiments, the geometrical configuration of the track system of the present technology is constructed with the aim of reducing this tendency under certain conditions.

[0020] Another potential drawback found in many conventional track systems is that the track system is attached in place of the wheel on the vehicle's wheel axle. As the weight of the vehicle is borne via the axle, the weight of the vehicle is transmitted to the sprocket wheel assembly of the track assembly as it is the sprocket wheel assembly that is attached to the axle. This necessitates particular track system design parameters that in some cases are suboptimal. It may also lead to undesirable bending forces in the vehicle drive shaft as the vehicle drive shaft is already transmitting rotational forces to the sprocket wheel assembly of the track system. This, in turn, may lead to accelerated wear of the gearbox and of the components thereof, and to higher maintenance cost. [0021] The track system of the present technology may reduce such issues under certain conditions as a large part of the weight of the vehicle is transferred from the chassis to track system's attachment assembly, then to the leading and trailing frame members, then to the leading and trailing wheel-bearing members and finally to the idler and support wheels and to the endless track. Thus, the sprocket wheel assembly need not (and in most embodiments, does not) bear a material amount of the vehicle weight, and does not need to be designed to do so (in most embodiments).

[0022] In some embodiments of the track system of the present technology, at least one of the leading frame member and the trailing frame member has an aperture therein. At least one of the gearbox input shaft and the drive shaft of the vehicle (e.g. the vehicle wheel axle) extends through the aperture. The aperture is shaped and dimensioned so as to allow pivotal motion of the at least one of the leading frame member and the trailing frame member notwithstanding a presence of the at least one of the gearbox input shaft and the drive shaft of the vehicle extending through the aperture. This feature assists in allowing embodiments of track systems of the present technology to be efficiently mechanically packaged, reducing the volume and/or mass of the track system, in embodiments where such is judged to be important.

[0023] In some embodiments, the leading frame member has a first aperture therein, the trailing frame member has a second aperture therein, at least one of the gearbox input shaft and the drive shaft of the vehicle extends through one of the first aperture and the second aperture, the one of the first aperture and the second aperture being shaped and dimensioned so as to allow pivotal motion of the one of the leading frame member and trailing frame member notwithstanding a presence of the at least one of the gearbox input shaft and the drive shaft of the vehicle extending therethrough. A stop extends within the other of the first aperture and the second aperture, the stop being structured and dimensioned to limit pivotal movement of the other of the leading frame member and trailing frame member. This feature may also assist in allowing embodiments of track systems of the present technology to be efficiently mechanically packaged, in embodiments where such is judged to be important.

[0024] In some embodiments, the endless track has leading, trailing and ground engaging edges. A first angle is formed between the trailing and ground engaging edges, and a second angle is formed between the leading and ground engaging edges. The first angle has a bisector and the bisector of the first angle passes below the pivot axis. In some embodiments of track systems of the present technology, this feature may assist in causing in some embodiments of track systems of the present technology a torque to be generated that reduces the tendency of the track system to have a negative pitch.

[0025] In some embodiments, the leading wheel-bearing frame member is directly pivotably connected to the leading frame member about a first axis. The trailing wheel-bearing frame member is directly pivotably connected to the trailing frame member about a second axis. The idler wheels of the leading idler wheel assembly rotate about a third axis. The idler wheels of the trailing idler wheel assembly rotate about a fourth axis. The first, second, third and fourth axes, and the pivot axis extend perpendicularly to a plane extending parallel to a longitudinal direction of the track system. The second and fourth axes intersect the bisector of the first angle.

[0026] In some embodiments, the second angle has a bisector, and the bisector of the second angle intersects the pivot axis. In some embodiments of track systems of the present technology, this feature may also assist in causing in some embodiments of track systems of the present technology a torque to be generated that reduces the tendency of the track system to have a negative pitch.

[0027] In some embodiments, the first and third axes intersect the bisector of the second angle.

[0028] In some embodiments, a first longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the pivot axis and the first axis is greater than a second longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the pivot axis and the second axis.

[0029] In some embodiments, a load supported by the trailing wheel-bearing frame member is greater than a load supported by the leading wheel-bearing frame member.

[0030] In some embodiments, a trailing support wheel assembly is pivotably connected to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member about a fifth axis, and a third longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the second axis and the fourth axis is greater than a fourth longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the second axis and the fifth axis.

[0031] In some embodiments, the leading support wheels are rotatably connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member about a sixth axis, and the fourth longitudinal distance is greater than a fifth longitudinal distance defined in the plane between the first axis and the sixth axis.

[0032] In some embodiments, a trailing support wheel assembly is pivotably connected to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member, the trailing support wheel assembly including a support wheel frame member, a pair of forward support wheels rotatably connected to the support wheel frame member, and a pair of rearward support wheels rotatably connected to the support wheel frame member.

[0033] In some embodiments, the attachment assembly includes a plate having an outward face. The pivot is connected to the outward face of the plate. The stop is connected to the outward face of the plate. A gearbox mounting plate is connected to outward ends of the pivot and the stop. This feature assists in allowing some embodiments of track systems of the present technology to be easier to manufacture, more solid, and precisely machined.

[0034] In some embodiments, fasteners extend axially through the pivot to fasten the gearbox mounting plate. This feature may assist in allowing embodiments of track systems of the present technology to be efficiently mechanically packaged, in embodiments where such is judged to be important.

[0035] In some embodiments, the drive shaft is connected to the input shaft of the gearbox via a constant velocity joint. This feature assists in allowing some embodiments of track systems of the present technology to interconnect the vehicle's drive shaft and the gearbox' s input shaft when the two are at an angle to one another.

[0036] In some embodiments, wherein the damper is disposed laterally inwardly from the gearbox. This feature may also assist in allowing embodiments of track systems of the present technology to be efficiently mechanically packaged, in embodiments where such is judged to be important. [0037] In some embodiments, a bracket extends above and around the damper.

The bracket may assist in protecting the damper from environmental debris entering the track system.

[0038] In some embodiments, the track has a ground-contacting area that increases in size as a load borne by the track system increases.

[0039] Embodiments of the present technology each have at least one of the above-mentioned object and/or aspects, but do not necessarily have all of them. It should be understood that some aspects of the present technology that have resulted from attempting to attain the above-mentioned object may not satisfy this object and/or may satisfy other objects not specifically recited herein.

[0040] Additional and/or alternative features, aspects, and advantages of embodiments of the present technology will become apparent from the following description, the accompanying drawings, and the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS [0041] For a better understanding of the present technology, as well as other aspects and further features thereof, reference is made to the following description which is to be used in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, where:

[0042] Figure 1 is a perspective view taken from a rear, top, left side of a track system being an embodiment of the present technology configured to be operatively connected on a left side of a vehicle;

[0043] Figure 2A is a perspective, partially exploded view taken from a front, top, left side of the track system of Figure 1 , with a vehicle to which the track system is connectable to;

[0044] Figure 2B is a perspective, exploded view taken from a rear, top, left side of an alternative embodiment of the track system of Figure 1 configured to be operatively connected on a right side of a vehicle;

[0045] Figure 3 A is a left side elevation view of the track system of Figure 1 ; [0046] Figure 3B is a right side elevation view of the track system of Figure 1, with an alternative embodiment of an attachment assembly;

[0047] Figure 4 is a top plan view of the track system of Figure 1, with an endless track and a sprocket wheel removed; [0048] Figure 5 is a left side elevation view of the track system of Figure 1, with a gearbox, a gearbox mounting plate and the sprocket wheel removed;

[0049] Figure 6 is a perspective view taken from a front, top, right side of the track system of Figure 1, with the endless track removed and an attachment assembly partially removed; [0050] Figure 7 is a left side elevation view of leading and trailing frame members of the track system of Figure 1 ;

[0051] Figure 8 is a perspective, exploded view taken from a front, top, left side of the leading and trailing frame members of Figure 7;

[0052] Figure 9A is a perspective, exploded view taken from a front, top, left side of an alternative embodiment of the leading and trailing frame members of Figure 7;

[0053] Figure 9B is a top plan view of the alternative embodiment of the leading and trailing frame members of Figure 9A;

[0054] Figure 10 is a left side elevation view of the track system of Figure 5, with the endless track removed and a damper compressed;

[0055] Figure 11 is a left side elevation view of the track system of Figure 10, with the damper extended;

[0056] Figure 12 is a right side elevation view of the track system of Figure 1, with the attachment assembly removed; [0057] Figure 13 is a schematic, right side elevation diagram of the track system of Figure 1 in a rest position and stationary; [0058] Figure 14 is a schematic, right side elevation diagram of the track system of 13 in a fully compressed position; and

[0059] Figure 15 is a schematic, right side elevation diagram of the track system of 13 in an extended position. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Introduction

[0060] With reference to Figures 1 to 5, an embodiment of the present technology, track system 40, is illustrated. It is to be expressly understood that the track system 40 is merely embodiment of the present technology. Thus, the description thereof that follows is intended to be only a description of illustrative examples of the present technology. This description is not intended to define the scope or set forth the bounds of the present technology. In some cases, what are believed to be helpful examples of modifications or alternatives to track system 40 may also be set forth below. This is done merely as an aid to understanding, and, again, not to define the scope or set forth the bounds of the present technology. These modifications are not an exhaustive list, and, as a person skilled in the art would understand, other modifications are likely possible. Further, where this has not been done (i.e. where no examples of modifications have been set forth), it should not be interpreted that no modifications are possible and/or that what is described is the sole manner of implementing or embodying that element of the present technology. As a person skilled in the art would understand, this is likely not the case. In addition, it is to be understood that the track system 40 may provide in certain aspects a simple embodiment of the present technology, and that where such is the case it has been presented in this manner as an aid to understanding. As persons skilled in the art would understand, various embodiments of the present technology may be of a greater complexity than what is described herein.

[0061] The track system 40 is for use with a vehicle 60 having a chassis 62 and a drive shaft 64 extending laterally outwardly from the chassis 62 for driving the track system 40. The chassis 62 supports the components of the vehicle 60, such as the cabin, the engine, the gearbox and other drivetrain components (not shown). In this embodiment, the drive shaft 64 is the drivetrain component that transmits the driving force from the engine and gearbox of the vehicle 60 to the track system 40, i.e. the drive shaft 64 is the output shaft of the gearbox.

[0062] In the context of the following description, "outwardly" or "outward" means away from a longitudinal centerline 66 of the chassis 62 of the vehicle 60, and "inwardly" or "inward" means toward the longitudinal centerline 66. In addition, in the context of the following description, "longitudinally" means in a direction parallel to the longitudinal centerline 66 of the chassis 62 of the vehicle 60, and "transversally" means in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal centerline 66. Note that in all the Figures, a "+" symbol is used to indicate an axis of rotation. In the context of the present technology, the term "axis" may be used to indicate an axis of rotation, or the term may refer to a "pivot joint" that includes all the necessary structure (bearing structures, pins, axles and other components) to permit a structure to pivot about such axis, as the case may be. Moreover, the direction of forward travel of the track system 40 is indicated by an arrow 80 (Figure 3A). In the present description, the "leading" components are identified with an "a" added to their reference numeral and the "trailing" components are identified with a "b" or a "c" added to their reference numeral. In addition, some components that are disposed proximate to the longitudinal centerline 66 of the vehicle 60 have a reference numeral with a "1" in index, and some components that are disposed away from the longitudinal centerline 66 of the vehicle 60 have a reference numeral with a "2" in index. In the following description and accompanying Figures 1, 2A and 3 A to 15, the track system 40 is configured to be attached to a left side of the chassis 62 of the vehicle 60 (Figure 2A). As a track system being another embodiment of the present technology, configured to be connected to a right side of the chassis 62 of the vehicle 60, is a mirror image of the track system 40 with the necessary adaptations, it will not be further described herein.

General Description of the Track System

[0063] Referring to Figures 1 to 4, the track system 40 will be generally described. The track system 40 includes an attachment assembly 100 connectable to the chassis 62 of the vehicle 60. The attachment assembly 100 includes a plate 102 having a pivot 130 extending laterally outwardly from the attachment assembly 100. [0064] The track system 40 further includes a multi-member frame assembly

160 disposed laterally outwardly from the attachment assembly 100 (Figure 4). The multi-member frame assembly 160 includes a leading frame member 170a pivotably connected to the attachment assembly 100 via the pivot 130 for pivoting about a pivot axis 180 (Figure 4), a trailing frame member 170b pivotably connected to the attachment assembly 100 via the pivot 130 for pivoting about the pivot axis 180 (Figure 4). The multi-member frame assembly 160 also includes a leading wheel- bearing frame member 200a pivotably connected to the leading frame member 170a, and a trailing wheel-bearing frame member 200b pivotably connected to the trailing frame member 170b. A trailing support wheel assembly 210 is pivotably connected to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member 200b. The track system 40 further includes a damper 230 (in this embodiment a shock absorber) interconnecting the leading frame member 170a and the trailing frame member 170b. A leading idler wheel assembly 260a is rotatably connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a and a trailing idler wheel assembly 260b is rotatably connected to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member 200b. A plurality of support wheel assemblies 290a, 290b, 290c are disposed intermediate the leading idler wheel assembly 260a and the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b. The support wheel assembly 290a is rotatably connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a. The support wheel assemblies 290b, 290c are rotatably connected to the trailing support wheel assembly 210.

[0065] Still referring to Figures 1 to 4, the track system 40 further includes a gearbox 320 having an input shaft 322 operatively connectable to the drive shaft 64 of the vehicle 60. In Figure 2A, the connection of the input shaft 322 to the drive shaft 64 is shown according to the present embodiment. A constant velocity joint 342 operatively connects the drive shaft 64 to the input shaft 322. Other configurations are contemplated in other embodiments. For example, the drive shaft 64 and the input shaft 322 could be coaxial and operatively connected using a splined sleeve or a coupling. The gearbox 320 also includes an output shaft 324. The track system 40 further includes a sprocket wheel 350 operatively connected to the output shaft 324, and an endless track 380 extending around the sprocket wheel 350, the leading idler wheel assembly 260a, the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b, and the plurality of support wheel assemblies 290a, 290b, 290c. The endless track 380 is drivable by the sprocket wheel 350. Endless Track

[0066] Referring to Figures 1 to 5, the endless track 380 is an endless polymeric track 380. The endless track 380 has an inner surface 382 engaging the leading idler wheel assembly 260a, the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b, the plurality of support wheel assemblies 290a, 290b, 290c and the sprocket wheel 350. The inner surface 382 has lugs 384 disposed on a central portion of the inner surface 382. The endless track 380 also has an outer surface 386 with a tread (not shown) configured for ground engagement. The tread can be varied according to the type of vehicle on which the track system 40 is to be used with and/or the type of ground surface on which the vehicle will be driven. It is contemplated that within the scope of the present technology, the endless track 380 may be constructed of a wide variety of materials and structures including metallic components known in track systems. The specific properties and materials of the endless track 380 are not central to the present technology and will not be described in detail. [0067] Referring to Figure 2 A, the endless track 380 has a leading edge 390, a ground engaging edge 392 and a trailing edge 394. The "edges" of the endless track 380 are the segments of the endless track 380.

Attachment Assembly

[0068] Referring to Figures 2A to 6, the attachment assembly 100 will be described. The plate 102 has an inward face 104 and outward face 106. A bolt pattern 108 is defined on the plate 102. The holes 110 of the bolt pattern 108 are through holes, but could be threaded bore holes in other embodiments. The bolt pattern 108 that is illustrated is exemplary only and can be varied according to the type of vehicle 60 with which the track system 40 is to be used. A compatible bolt pattern 74 is defined on the chassis 62 of the vehicle 60 (Figure 2A). The attachment assembly 100 is connected to the chassis 62 of the vehicle 60 through fasteners 112 (Figures 2B and 6) extending from the chassis 62 and through the holes 110. As a result, when the track system 40 is connected to the chassis 62, the weight of the vehicle 60 is supported by the clamping load provided by the fasteners 112 extending between the chassis 62 and the attachment assembly 100 of the track system 40. Under certain conditions, the configuration of the attachment assembly 100 and of the rest of the track system 40 is such that the chassis 62 of the vehicle 60 has the same ground clearance as when the vehicle 60 is equipped with wheels and tires in place of the track system 40. Accordingly, under certain conditions, the overall height of the vehicle 60 from ground surface is the same when the track system 40 is used in place of wheels and tires. Figures 2B and 3B illustrate plates 102' and 102" that are alternative embodiments of the plate 102.

Plate of the Attachment Assembly

[0069] Referring to Figures 2A, 2B, 3B, 5 and 6, the pivot 130 is connected to the outward face 106 of the plate 102. The pivot 130 can be connected to the plate 102 using fasteners and/or bonding techniques. In some embodiments, the pivot 130 is integrally formed with the plate 102. The pivot 130 extends perpendicularly to the plate 102 and defines the pivot axis 180. Loads on the chassis 62 of the vehicle (including the vehicle's weight) are transferred to the plate 102 when the plate 102 is connected to the chassis 62 with the fasteners 112. They are then transferred to the pivot 130 and then to the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b, and so on.

[0070] A stop 152 is also connected to the outward face 106 of the plate 102.

In the present embodiment, the stop 152 is a separate component from the plate 102 and is connected thereto using fasteners and/or bonding techniques. In some embodiments, the plate 102, the pivot 130 and the stop 152 are integrally formed. The stop 152 extends laterally outwardly from the outward face 106 of the plate 102. The stop 152 extends through an aperture 172b defined in the trailing frame member 170b. The stop 152 is structured and dimensioned to limit the pivotal movement of the trailing frame member 170b about the pivot axis 180. The aperture 172b is arcuate, but it could be otherwise. In some embodiments, the center of the arc of the aperture 172b coincides with the pivot axis 180. When the trailing frame member 170b pivots about the pivot axis 180, upper and lower walls 173b, 175b (Figure 5) of the aperture 172b can abut the stop 152 and thus limit the pivotal movement of the trailing frame member 170b. The stop 152 and/or the aperture 172b could be configured otherwise and limit the pivotal movement of the trailing frame member 170b to a lesser or greater extent than the one illustrated. [0071] In some embodiments, the stop 152 has a coating made of a compliant material such as rubber or an elastomer, or has rubber parts attached thereto. In some embodiments, the stop 152 deflects along its length when contacted by the trailing frame member 170b. In some embodiments, the trailing frame member 170b does not have an aperture 172b defined therein and one or more stops extending from the outward face 106 of the plate 102 could engage the trailing frame member 170b on a top or bottom sidewall thereof. In some embodiments, the stop 152 could be omitted.

[0072] Referring to Figure 2 A, a gearbox mounting plate 140 is connected to the outwards ends of the pivot 130 and the stop 152. The gearbox mounting plate 140 is shaped and dimensioned to be disposed between the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b and the gearbox 320. A bolt pattern (not shown) is defined on the gearbox mounting plate 140. A compatible bolt pattern (not shown) is defined on a housing 326 of the gearbox 320. Fasteners (not shown) disposed in the bolt patterns fasten the housing 326 of the gearbox 320 to the gearbox mounting plate 140. [0073] Referring to Figures 2A, 2B and 6, the plate 102 and the pivot 130 have holes 132. The holes 132 extend axially through the pivot 130 between the inward end and the outward end thereof. Holes (not shown) are defined in the gearbox mounting plate 140. Fasteners 138 extend in the holes 132 and are connected to the gearbox mounting plate 140. In some embodiments, the stop 152 has holes defined at an outward end thereof and compatible holes are defined in the gearbox mounting plate 140. Fasteners extend in the holes and connect the stop 152 to the gearbox mounting plate 140. The housing 326 of the gearbox 320 is thus connectable to the stop 152.

[0074] In some embodiments, such as the one shown in Figure 2B, the gearbox mounting plate 140 is omitted, and the fasteners 138 extend until the housing 326 of the gearbox 320 and are fastened thereto. As best seen in Figures 3B and 6, the housing 326 is also connected to the attachment assembly 100 via a bracket 150 connected to the pivot 130. The bracket 150 extends above and around the damper 230. The damper 230 is disposed laterally inwardly from the housing 326 of the gearbox 320. In some embodiments, the bracket 150 offers some protection to the damper 230 from debris or projections that could impact the damper 230 during operation of the vehicle 60 equipped with the track system 40. Other configurations of the bracket 150 are contemplated. For instance, in other embodiments, the bracket 150 could be integrally formed with the plate 102 or omitted.

Leading and Trailing Frame Members

[0075] Referring to Figures 2 A and 5 to 8, the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b will be described. The leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b are pivotably connected to the attachment assembly 100 as they are supported by the pivot 130. The leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b are disposed laterally outwardly from the attachment assembly 100 (Figure 4). In order to facilitate the pivoting of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b on the pivot 130, bearings (not shown) are disposed between the pivot 130 and each frame member 170a, 170b. In some embodiments, bushings or tapper rollers could be used in place of bearings.

[0076] In the present embodiment, the leading and trailing frame members

170a, 170b have apertures 190a, 190b defined by knuckles 192a 192a 2 and 192b. The knuckle 192b is inserted in the gap between the knuckles 192ai, 192a 2 . The leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b are thus disposed in an interleaved arrangement. The pivot 130 extends through the apertures 190a, 190b, similar to a pin in a hinge assembly, and provides for pivotable connection of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b about the pivot axis 180. [0077] Referring to Figures 9 A and 9B, an alternative embodiment of the leading and trailing frame members 170a', 170b' is shown. Knuckles 192a', 192b' are disposed coaxially and juxtaposed such that the knuckle 192b' is disposed laterally outwardly from the knuckle 192a'. The pivot 130 extends through the apertures 190a', 190b', similar to a pin in a hinge assembly, and provides for pivotable connection of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b about the pivot axis 180. Different configurations are thus contemplated.

[0078] The leading frame member 170a has an aperture 172a defined therein.

The input shaft 322 of the gearbox 320 extends laterally inwardly through the aperture 172a (Figures 2A and 6) for operative connection to the drive shaft 64 of the vehicle 60. In some embodiments, the input shaft 322 extends completely through the aperture 172a for operative connection to the drive shaft 64. As described above, the input shaft 322 and the drive shaft 64 are operatively connected through a constant velocity joint 342 (Figure 2A). The aperture 172a is shaped and dimensioned so as to allow pivotal motion of the leading frame member 170a notwithstanding the presence of the input shaft 322 and/or the drive shaft 64 extending through the aperture 172a. In other words, the aperture 172a is shaped and dimensioned such that the input shaft 322 and/or the drive shaft 64 extending through the aperture 172a are prevented from contacting the upper and lower walls 173a, 175a of the aperture 172a (Figures 5 and 7) when the leading frame member 170a pivots. The aperture 172a is arcuate in this embodiment, but the aperture 172a could be otherwise in other embodiments. In some embodiments, the center of the arc of the aperture 172a coincides with the pivot axis 180. In some embodiments, the aperture 172a extends until one of the upper and lower sidewalls of the frame member 170a and forms a slot in the frame member 170a.

[0079] In some embodiments, the gearbox 320 could be configured such that the input shaft 322 extends through the aperture 172b defined in the trailing frame member 170b and the attachment assembly 100 could be configured such that the stop 152 extends through the aperture 172a defined in the leading frame member 170a.

[0080] It is noted that in embodiments of the present technology, the drive shaft 64 of the vehicle 60 does not bear a material portion of the weight of the vehicle 60 but only transmits rotational forces to the gearbox 320 via the operative connection with the input shaft 322. The output shaft 324 of the gearbox 320 does not bear a material portion of the weight of the vehicle 60 either. The output shaft 324 is subjected to bending forces due to the tension present in the endless track 320 and to rotational forces transmitted by the input shaft 322. Damper

[0081] Referring to Figures 5, 7, 10 and 11, the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b each have upper and lower portions 182a, 182b, 184a, 184b. The upper portions 182a, 184a extend above the pivot axis 180 and the lower portions extend below the pivot axis 180 (Figure 7). The damper 230 is rotatably connected to the upper portions 182a, 182b of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b. The damper 230 includes a hydro-pneumatic cylinder 232. In some embodiments, the damper further includes a coil spring. The damper 230 biases the upper portions 182a, 182b of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b away from each other. When the track system 40 supports the weight of the vehicle 60, damper 230 is deformed (i.e. compressed) and the cylinder 232 provides for a damped pivotal motion of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b with respect to each other.

[0082] The positioning of the damper 230 between the upper portions 182a,

182b of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b allows for a long stroke of the cylinder 232 of the damper 230. As a result, the damping action of the damper 230 is generally more refined than in conventional track systems where the stroke of a damping cylinder is shorter. Such configuration provides for a smoother damping action of the damper 230 and may reduce the risks of fully compressing the damper 230. Under certain conditions, vibrations that are due to the surface of the ground on which the track system 40 travels and transferred to the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b are dampened by the damper 230.

[0083] As described above, the stop 152 limits the pivotal motion of the trailing frame member 170b, and the pivotal motion of the leading frame member 170a is limited by the stroke of the cylinder 232.

[0084] In some embodiments, the damper 230 has variable damping characteristics as described in commonly owned International Patent Application No. PCT/CA2016/050418, filed April 11, 2016, entitled "Progressive Damping System for a Track System" and published as WO 2016/161527. The content of this application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Gearbox and Sprocket Wheel [0085] Referring to Figures 1 to 3B, the gearbox 320 and the sprocket wheel

350 will be described. The gearbox 320 is disposed outwardly from the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b. The gearbox 320 is disposed inwardly from the sprocket wheel 350. Teeth 352 of the sprocket wheel 350 pass around the gearbox 320 when the sprocket wheel 350 is rotated. The input shaft 322 is connected to an input gear (not shown) located inside the housing 326 of the gearbox 320. The input shaft 322 and the input gear rotate about an axis 334 (Figure 3B). The input gear 330 drives an output gear (not shown) connected to the output shaft 324. The output gear is also located inside the housing 326 of the gearbox 320. The output shaft 324 and the output gear 332 rotate about an axis 336 (Figure 3A). The axes 334, 336 are parallel and offset, but could be coaxial in other embodiments. The engagement of the input gear and the output gear is direct, but a chain or belt could be used in other embodiments to transmit rotational movement from the input gear to the output gear.

[0086] The output shaft 324 is connected to the output gear and extends laterally outwardly from the housing 326. The output shaft 324 has a flanged portion 325. The sprocket wheel 350 is connected to the flanged portion 325 of the output shaft 324 using fasteners. The teeth 352 of the sprocket wheel 350 engage the lugs 384 defined on the inner surface 382 of the endless track 380 and drive the endless track 380. As such, the track system 40 is a "positive drive" track system.

Leading and Trailing Wheel-Bearing Frame Members and Idler Wheels

[0087] Referring to Figures 1 to 5 and 10 to 13, in this embodiment, the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a is directly pivotably connected to the lower portion 184a of the leading frame members 170a about an axis 202a. In this embodiment, the trailing wheel-bearing frame member 200b is directly pivotably connected to the lower portion 184b of the trailing frame members 170b about an axis 202b. [0088] In Figures 1 to 5, 12 and 13, the track system 40 is shown in a rest position. In this embodiment, the nominal load of the track system corresponds to the track system being attached to the vehicle with the track system bearing its ordinary portion of the weight of the vehicle 60 when the vehicle 60 is at its tare weight, with no attachments at the front or rear and no payload in its container or tank. As shown in Figure 12, the axis 202b is above the axis 202a. Having the axis 202b above the axis 202a has been found to reduce the variations of the perimeter of the endless track 380 under certain conditions.

[0089] Referring to Figures 1 to 5, idler wheels 262ai, 262a 2 of the leading idler wheel assembly 260a rotate about an axis 264a defined by an axle assembly 266a rotatably connecting the leading idler wheel assembly 260a to the leading wheel- bearing frame member 200a. Idler wheels 262b i, 262b 2 of the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b rotate about an axis 264b defined by an axle assembly 266b rotatably connecting the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member 200b. The idler wheels 262ai, 262bi are disposed inwardly of the lugs 384 of the endless track 380, and the idler wheels 262a 2 , 262b 2 are disposed outwardly of the lugs 384 of the endless track 380. The endless track 380 is guided between the inwardly disposed idler wheels 262ai, 262b i and the outwardly disposed idler wheels 262a 2 , 262b 2 along the ground engaging edge 392 of the endless track 380 (Figure 2A). The idler wheels 262ai, 262a 2 , 262bi, 262b 2 have a same diameter, but in other embodiments the diameter of the leading and idler wheels 262ai, 262a 2 , 262b i, 262b 2 could differ.

Tensioner

[0090] Referring to Figures 2B and 6, the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a includes a tensioner 410 having first and second ends 412, 414. The first end 412 is rotatably connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a at a proximal tensioning pivot 416. The proximal tensioning pivot 416 includes a spherical joint (not shown). A wheel linkage 418 (Figure 2B) is rotatably connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a at an axis 420 that is offset from the axis 264a. The second end 414 of the tensioner 410 is rotatably connected to the wheel linkage 418 at a distal tensioning pivot 422 which is offset from the axis 264a. In some embodiments, the distal tensioning pivot 422 includes a spherical joint and the proximal tensioning pivot 416 does not. In some embodiments, both the proximal and distal tensioning pivots 416, 422 include a spherical joint. The leading axle assembly 266a is operatively connected to the wheel linkage 418. The distal tensioning pivot 422 and the axis 420 are angularly displaced around the axis 264a such that the wheel linkage 418 forms a lever with the axis 420 being the fulcrum thereof. In some embodiments, the tensioner 410 could be included on the trailing wheel-bearing frame member 200b.

[0091] The action of the tensioner 410 and the wheel linkage 418 bias the leading axle assembly 266a and the leading idler wheel assembly 260a toward the forward end of the track system 40 with a biasing force 501 (Figures 12 and 13). The endless track 380 opposes the biasing force 501 provided by the action of the tensioner 410 and the wheel linkage 418 and tensions 502, 504 (Figures 12 and 13) appear in the leading edge 390 and the ground-engaging edge 392 of the endless track 380.

[0092] In some embodiments, the tensioner 410 is used to reduce the variations in the perimeter of the endless track 380 due to the pivoting of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b and wheel-bearing frame members 200a, 200b.

[0093] In addition, under certain conditions, if debris becomes stuck between one of the wheels and the endless track 380, the tensioner 410 is configured to apply less biasing force 501 and/or contract so as to reduce variation in the perimeter of the endless track 380. When debris are ejected from the track system 40, the tensioner 410 is configured to apply more biasing force 501 and/or extend to provide for adequate tension forces 502, 504 in the endless track 380.

[0094] In some embodiments, the tensioner 410 is a dynamic tensioning device as described in International Patent Application No. PCT/CA2016/050419, filed April 11, 2016, entitled "Dynamic Tensioner Locking Device for a Track System and Method Thereof, and published as WO 2016/161528. The content of this application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Tracking Adjustment

[0095] Referring to Figure 2B, the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a also includes a tracking adjustment system 430. The tracking adjustment system 430 includes a support 432 that is pivotable with respect to the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a about an axis 434. The axle assembly 266a is rotatably connected to the support 432. Adjustment screws 436 are connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a, rearwardly offset of the axis 434. A portion of the support 432 extends rearward of the axis 434. The adjustment screws 436 abut the portion of the support 432 and the screws 436 can be adjusted to pivot the support 432 inwardly or outwardly. As a result, the leading idler wheel assembly 260a can provide for tracking adjustment of the endless track 380 as it is driven around the sprocket wheel 350, the leading idler wheel assembly 260a, the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b, and the plurality of support wheel assemblies 290a, 290b, 290c. Support Wheels

[0096] Referring to Figures 1 to 5, the support wheel assembly 290a includes support wheels 292ai, 292a 2 that are rotatably connected to the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a via an axle assembly 294a (Figure 2B). The support wheels 292ai, 292a 2 rotate about an axis 296a. The support wheel 290b includes support wheels 292b i, 292b2 that are rotatably connected to the trailing support wheel assembly 210 via an axle assembly 294b. The support wheel assembly 290c includes support wheels 292c i, 292c 2 that are rotatably connected to the trailing support wheel assembly 210 via an axle assembly (not shown). The support wheels 292bi, 292b 2 rotate about an axis 296b and the support wheels 292ci, 292c 2 rotate about an axis 296c.

[0097] The trailing support wheel assembly 210 includes a support wheel frame member 212 (Figures 2B and 13). The support wheel member 212 has a body that is longitudinally elongated. The support wheel member 212 extends above the lugs 384 of the ground-engaging edge 392 of the endless track 380. The support wheel frame member 212 pivots about an axis 216 with respect to the trailing wheel- bearing frame member 200b. As such, the support wheel assemblies 290b, 290c are indirectly pivotably connected to the trailing wheel-bearing frame member 200b. The support wheel assembly 290b is disposed forward of the axis 216, and the support wheel assembly 290c is disposed rearward of the axis 216.

[0098] The endless track 380 is guided between the inwardly disposed support wheels 290ai, 290bi, 290ci and the outwardly disposed support wheels 290a 2 , 290b 2 , 290c 2 as the lugs 384 of the ground-engaging edge 392 of the endless track 380 extend therebetween. The support wheels 292& 292a 2 , 292bi, 292b 2 , 292c 292c 2 have a smaller diameter than that of the idler wheels 262ai, 262a 2 , 262bi, 262b 2 . In some embodiments, the leading wheel bearing member 200a could include a support wheel frame member pivotably connected thereto and including leading support wheels.

Material and Manufacturing [0099] The various components of the track system 40 are made of conventional materials (e.g. metals and metal alloys in most cases, such as steel) via conventional manufacturing processes (e.g. casting, molding, etc.). The present technology does not require any specific materials nor methods of manufacture. The present technology merely requires that each component be suitable for the purpose for which it is intended and the use to which it is to be put. Any material(s) or method(s) of manufacture which produce such components may be used in the present technology.

Lines and Resultant Forces

[00100] Referring to Figure 4, a plane 500 extends parallel to a longitudinal direction of the track system 40 and extends parallel to a height direction of the track system 40. Figures 12 to 15 illustrate the track system 40 in a plane view that is parallel to the plane 500. The pivot axis 180 and the axes 202a, 202b, 216, 264a, 264b, 296a, 296b, 296c are perpendicular to the plane 500.

[00101] Referring to Figures 12 and 13, the pivot axis 180 and the axis 202a are spaced apart by a longitudinal distance 600a defined in the plane 500. The pivot axis 180 and the axis 202b are spaced apart by a longitudinal distance 600b defined in the plane 500. In this embodiment, the longitudinal distance 600a is greater than the longitudinal distance 600b. As a result, the leading frame member 170a defines a lever arm between the pivot axis 180 and the axis 202a that is greater than the lever arm defined by the trailing frame member 170b between the pivot axis 180 and the axis 202b. As a portion of the weight of the vehicle 60 is transferred from the chassis 62 to track system 40 via the attachment assembly 100 and to the pivot 130, and in turn to the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b, the trailing frame member 170b supports a greater load than the leading frame member 170a since the lever arm defined by the trailing frame member 170b between the pivot axis 180 and the axis 202b is shorter. To support the additional load on the trailing frame member 170b and in order to more evenly distribute the weight of the vehicle 60 over the endless track 380, the trailing wheel-bearing frame member 200b has more support wheel assemblies indirectly rotatably connected thereto than the leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a (namely the support wheel assemblies 290b, 290c rotatably connected to the trailing support wheel assembly 210). [00102] The axes 296a, 202a are spaced apart in a longitudinal direction by a longitudinal distance 620a defined in the plane 500. The axes 264a, 202a are spaced apart in a longitudinal direction by a longitudinal distance 630a defined in the plane 500. In this embodiment, the distance 620a is shorter than the distance 630a. A portion of the weight of the vehicle 60 is transferred at the axis 202a from the leading frame member 170a to the leading wheel-bearing member 200a. Since the lever arm defined by the portion of the leading wheel-bearing member 200a supporting the leading support wheel assembly 290a is shorter than the portion of leading wheel- bearing member 200a supporting the leading idler wheel assembly 260a, the leading support wheel assembly 290a supports more load than the leading idler wheel assembly 260a.

[00103] The axes 216, 202b are spaced apart in a longitudinal direction by a longitudinal distance 620b defined in the plane 500. The axes 264b, 202a are spaced apart in a longitudinal direction by a longitudinal distance 630b defined in the plane 500. In this embodiment, the distance 620b is shorter than the distance 630b. A portion of the weight of the vehicle 60 is transferred at the axis 202b from the trailing frame member 170b to the trailing wheel-bearing member 200b. Since the lever arm defined by the portion of the leading wheel-bearing member 200b supporting the support wheel frame member 212 is shorter than the portion of trailing wheel-bearing member 200b supporting the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b, the support wheel frame member 212 and the support wheel assemblies 290b, 290c support more load than the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b.

[00104] The axes 296b, 216 are spaced apart in a longitudinal direction by a longitudinal distance 640b defined in the plane 500. Similarly, the axes 296c, 216 are spaced apart in a longitudinal direction by a longitudinal distance 640c defined in the plane 500. In this embodiment, the distances 640b, 640c are equal. As such, the trailing support wheel assemblies 290b, 290c support equal loads.

[00105] By using the teachings in the present description and by selecting the dimensions of the various components described herein, a designer of track systems is able to set a distribution of pressure applied to the endless track 380 by the leading and trailing idler wheel assemblies 260a, 260b and the support wheel assemblies 290a, 290b, 290c to meet the requirements of a particular application. [00106] In the present embodiment, the distances 600a, 600b, 620a, 620b, 630a, 630b, 640b, 640c, the diameter and width of the idler and support wheel assemblies 260b, 290a, 290b, 290c are selected to equalize the pressure applied to the endless track 380 by the leading support wheel assembly 290a, the trailing support wheel assemblies 290b, 290c and the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b. In this embodiment, the pressure applied to the endless track 380 by the leading idler wheel assembly 260a is less than the pressure applied by each one of the leading support wheel assembly 290a, the trailing support wheel assemblies 290b, 290c and the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b. [00107] Other configurations in other embodiments are contemplated. For instance, the distances 600a, 600b, 620a, 620b, 630a, 630b, 640b, 640c, the diameter and width of the idler and support wheel assemblies 260a, 260b, 290a, 290b, 290c could be selected to equalize the pressure applied to the endless track 380 by the support wheel assemblies 290a, 290b, 290c. In yet other embodiments, the distances 600a, 600b, 620a, 620b, 630a, 630b, 640b, 640c, the diameter and width of the idler and support wheel assemblies 260a, 260b, 290a, 290b, 290c could be selected to equalize the pressure applied to the endless track 380 by the leading and trailing idler wheel assemblies 260a, 260b.

[00108] Note that in the accompanying Figures, the arrows indicating the tension forces, torques and biasing force are not to scale (they are schematic). Referring to Figures 12 and 13 and as described above, the action of the tensioner 410 and the wheel linkage 418 on the leading idler wheel assembly 260a generate a biasing force 501 at the axis 264a. As a result, opposed tension forces 502, 504 exist in the leading and ground engaging edges 390, 392 of the endless track 380. A resultant force 510 (e.g. the combination of tension forces 502, 504) is applied to the leading idler wheel assembly 260a at the axis 264a and opposes biasing force 501. The leading and ground engaging edges 390, 392 of the endless track 380 form an angle 700a. The resultant force 510 is colinear with a bisector 702a of the angle 700a.

[00109] The leading wheel-bearing frame member 200a carries the resultant force 510 to the axis 202a along a line 550a extending between the axis 264a and the axis 202a, the line 550a being shown as a dashed line in Figures 12 and 13. In the present embodiment, the line 550a is colinear with the bisector 702a, but it could be otherwise in other embodiments as other configurations of the leading wheel bearing frame member 200a are contemplated. Having the resultant force 510 passing through the axis 202a has the effect of preventing the generation of a torque that is applied to the leading wheel-bearing member 200a about the axis 202a. The line 550a and the bisector 702a intersect the pivot axis 180. As the resultant force 510 is applied along the bisector 702a, the resultant force 510 passes through the pivot axis 180. Having the resultant force 510 passing through the pivot axis 180 has the effect of preventing the generation of a torque that is applied to the leading frame member 170a about the pivot axis 180. [00110] To oppose the tension forces 504, equally opposed tension forces 520 are applied on the ground-engaging edge 392 of the endless track 380 proximate to the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b. Tension forces 522 also appear in the trailing edge 394 of the endless track 380 and oppose tension forces 524, 526 appearing in the endless track 380 adjacent to the sprocket wheel 350. In Figures 12 and 13, tension forces 502, 504, 520, 522, 524, 526 are equal. A resultant force 530 (e.g. the combination of tension forces 520, 522) is applied to the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b and the resultant force 530 is applied at the axis 264b.

[00111] The trailing and ground engaging edges 394, 392 of the endless track 380 form an angle 700b. The resultant force 530 is colinear with a bisector 702b of the angle 700b. The trailing wheel-bearing frame member 200b carries the resultant force 530 to the axis 202b along a line 550b extending between the axis 264b and the axis 202b, shown as a dashed line in Figures 12 and 13. In the present embodiment, the line 550b is colinear with the bisector 702b, but it could be otherwise in other embodiments as other configurations of the trailing wheel bearing frame member 200b are contemplated. Having the resultant force 530 passing through the axis 202b has the effect of preventing the generation of a torque that is applied to the trailing wheel-bearing member 200b about the axis 202b. The line 550b and the bisector 702b pass below the pivot axis 180. The bisector 702b and the pivot axis 180 are spaced apart by a shortest distance 552b defined in the plane 500. The distance 552b defines a lever arm between the bisector 702b and the pivot axis 180. As the resultant force 530 is applied along the bisector 702b, the resultant force 530 passes below the pivot axis 180, and a torque 540b is applied to the trailing frame member 170b about the pivot axis 180. From the perspective of Figures 12 and 13, the torque 540b has the effect of inducing a counter-clockwise rotation of the trailing frame member 170b about the pivot axis 180. The torque 540b also has the effect of increasing the load supported by the support wheel assemblies 290b, 290c and the load supported by the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b.

[00112] In the present embodiment, the magnitude of the resultant force 530 is greater than the resultant force 510. As no torque is generated about the pivot axis 180 by the resultant force 510, the torque 540b defines a net torque that is applied to the track system 40. [00113] It is noted that, in some embodiments, the bisector 702a could pass above the pivot axis 180. In such cases, a net torque applied to the track system 40 would still have the same direction as torque 540b.

[00114] When the track system 40 is driven, additional tension forces appear in the endless track 380 because of the tractive forces applied by the sprocket wheel 350 to the endless track 380. As such, the magnitude of tension forces 524, 522 and 520 increases. Simultaneously, the tensioner 410 is configured to increase its biasing force 501 and maintain adequate tension forces 502, 504 in the endless track 380. These additional tension forces make the magnitude of the resultant force 530 greater when the track system 40 is driven, and greater than the magnitude of the resultant force 510.

[00115] When the track system 40 is driven, the pressures applied to the endless track 380 under the leading idler wheel assembly 260a and leading support wheel assembly 290a are decreased, and the pressures applied to the endless track 380 under the support wheel assemblies 290b, 290c and trailing idler wheel assembly 260b are increased. As a result, under certain conditions, the track system 40 has a reduced tendency to pitch negatively, especially when driven on soft grounds.

[00116] Moreover, under certain conditions, heat generation and wear of the outer surface 386 (Figure 2A) of the endless track 380 are reduced when comparing the track system 40 to conventional track systems attached to the same vehicle 60 for the following reasons. First, as there is a reduced pressure applied under the leading idler wheel assembly 260a, there is a reduced pressure applied to endless track 380 as it engages the ground and the tread has improved engagement with the ground before being parallel thereto and being subjected to tractive forces. Second, as the weight of the vehicle 60 increases, the surface area of the endless track 380 over the ground increases due to the scissor-like structure of the track system 40. Thus, the pressure on the ground increases at a rate that is less than the rate of increase in weight of the vehicle 60.

[00117] Figures 10, 11, 14 and 15 illustrate different positions of the track system 40 when stationary. In Figure 10, the track system 40 is shown with the damper 230 fully compressed. Such configuration would be found when the track system 40 supports a load that is greater than the nominal load. In Figure 11, the track system 40 is shown with the damper fully extended. Such configuration would be found when the track system 40 supports a load that is smaller than the nominal load. The bisector 702b pass below the pivot axis 180. As such, the track system 40 maintains its reduced tendency to pitch negatively when it is driven, regardless of the load of the vehicle 60.

[00118] Referring to Figure 14, when the damper 230 is fully compressed, the leading idler wheel assembly 260a is spaced apart from the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b by a distance 800 (measured between the axes of rotation of each of the idler wheel assemblies 260a, 260b). Referring to Figure 15, when the damper 230 is fully extended, the leading idler wheel assembly 260a is spaced apart from the trailing idler wheel assembly 260b by a distance 800 (measured between the axes of rotation of each of the idler wheel assemblies 260a, 260b). The distance 800 in Figure 14 is greater than the distance 800 in Figure 15. Thus, the track 380 has a ground- contacting area that increases in size as a load borne by the track system 40 increases (and the damper compresses).

[00119] In addition to the reduced tendency of the track system 40 to pitch negatively, when the track system 40 encounters an obstacle such as a bump or a depression along its path of travel, the pivoting of the leading and trailing wheel- bearing members 200a, 200b, and of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b has the effect of reducing vertical displacements of the pivot 130. Accordingly, vertical displacements of the chassis 62 of the vehicle 60 are reduced. Notably, at certain speed regimes, the pivoting of the leading and trailing wheel-bearing members 200a, 200b alone is sufficient to reduce the vertical displacements of the pivot 130. At other speed regimes, it is the combined action of the pivoting of the leading and trailing wheel-bearing members 200a, 200b and of the leading and trailing frame members 170a, 170b, and the damping action of the damper 230 that reduce the vertical displacements of the pivot 130.

[00120] Modifications and improvements to the above-described embodiments of the present technology may become apparent to those skilled in the art. The foregoing description is intended to be exemplary rather than limiting. The scope of the present technology is therefore intended to be limited solely by the scope of the appended claims.