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Title:
A PROCESS OF LOADING A RAIL UTILITY VEHICLE ONTO RAIL TRACKS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/178357
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A portable turn-table device (3) suitable for loading rail utility vehicles (1) onto rail tracks (2), wherein the device (3) comprises: - a circular base ring (4); - a middle frame (5); and - at least two wheel guides (6), wherein the base ring is selected from: a hollow tube; I-beam; U-beam; or L-beam, wherein the base ring comprises at least two rail track positioners (7), wherein the rail track positioners are capable of keeping the base ring positioned in place on top of the rail tracks so as to minimize any movement of the device that is perpendicular to the rail tracks, wherein the middle frame comprises at least three wheels (8) that allow rotation of the middle frame along the circular base ring, wherein the wheel guides are capable of connecting to the middle frame in a secure manner so as to hold a rail utility vehicle on the device when loaded, wherein the wheel guides are capable of accepting the wheels of the rail utility vehicle when the rail utility vehicle is loaded onto the device.

Inventors:
PLATT JAMES (GB)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2020/055752
Publication Date:
September 10, 2020
Filing Date:
March 04, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AQUARIUS RAILROAD TECH LTD (GB)
International Classes:
B61K5/04
Foreign References:
GB190908063A1909-12-31
US2031574A1936-02-18
US4235370A1980-11-25
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENT BOUTIQUE LLP (GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A process of loading a rail utility vehicle (1) onto rail tracks (2) using a portable turn table device (3), wherein the device (3) comprises:

(a) a circular base ring (4);

(b) a middle frame (5); and

(c) at least two wheel guides (6), wherein the base ring (4) is selected from: a hollow metal tube; I-beam; U-beam; or L- beam, wherein the base ring (4) comprises at least two rail track positioners (7), wherein the rail track positioners (7) are capable of keeping the base ring (4) positioned in place on top of the rail tracks (2) so as to minimize any movement of the device (3) that is perpendicular to the rail tracks (2), wherein the middle frame (5) comprises at least three wheels (8) that allow rotation of the middle frame (5) along the circular base ring (4), wherein the wheel guides (6) are capable of connecting to the middle frame (5) in a secure manner so as to hold a rail utility vehicle (1) on the device (3) when loaded, wherein the wheel guides (6) are capable of accepting the wheels (8) of the rail utility vehicle (1) when the rail utility vehicle (1) is loaded onto the device (3), wherein the process comprises the steps of:

(i) positioning the circular base ring (4) onto the rail tracks (2) and positioning the rail track positioners (7) so as to minimize any movement of the device (3) that is perpendicular to the rail tracks (2); (ii) optionally sliding the circular base ring (4) parallel to the rail tracks (2);

(iii) placing the middle frame (5) on top of the circular base ring (4) and

aligning the wheels (8) of the middle frame (5) so they can run on top of the circular base ring (4) and rotate the middle frame (5);

(iv) placing the wheel guides (6) on the middle frame (5);

(v) loading a rail utility vehicle (1) onto the device (3);

(vi) rotating the middle frame (5) so that the rail utility vehicle (1) is facing parallel to the rail tracks (2); and

(vii) unloading the rail utility vehicle (1) from the device (3) onto the rail tracks

(2).

2. A process according to claim 1, wherein the rail utility vehicle (1) is present in a trailer, and wherein the trailer is loaded onto the device (3).

3. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein the base ring (4) is a hollow metal tube.

4. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein the middle frame (5) comprises at least four wheels (8) that allow rotation of the middle frame (5) along the circular base ring (4).

5. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein the device (3) comprises a ramp

(9).

6. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein the circular base ring (4)

comprises at least four track positioners (7).

7. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein the middle frame (5) is quadrilateral having four corners, and wherein a wheel (8) is positioned below each corner of the middle frame (5).

8. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein the wheels (8) of the middle frame (5) sit on top of the circular base ring (4), and wherein each wheel (8) comprises a stabilizer (10), wherein each stabilizer (10) independently protrudes below the bottom of wheel (8) and extends to the outside and/or the inside of the circular base ring (4) so as to minimize any movement of the middle frame (5) that is perpendicular to the direction of rotation along the circular base ring (4).

9. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein the device (3) is capable of

allowing the manual rotation of a rail utility vehicle (1).

10. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein the device (3) weighs less than 200 kg.

11. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein no individual component of the device (3) weighs more than 33% of the total weight of the device (3).

12. A process according to any preceding claim, wherein the wheels (8) are acrylic.

13. A portable turn-table device (3) suitable for loading rail utility vehicles (1) onto rail tracks (2), wherein the device (3) comprises:

(a) a circular base ring (4);

(b) a middle frame (5); and

(c) at least two wheel guides (6), wherein the base ring (4) is selected from: a hollow tube; I-beam; U-beam; or L-beam, wherein the base ring (4) comprises at least two rail track positioners (7), wherein the rail track positioners (7) are capable of keeping the base ring (4) positioned in place on top of the rail tracks (2) so as to minimize any movement of the device (3) that is perpendicular to the rail tracks (2), wherein the middle frame (5) comprises at least three wheels (8) that allow rotation of the middle frame (5) along the circular base ring (4), wherein the wheel guides (6) are capable of connecting to the middle frame (5) in a secure manner so as to hold a rail utility vehicle (1) on the device (3) when loaded, wherein the wheel guides (6) are capable of accepting the wheels (8) of the rail utility vehicle (1) when the rail utility vehicle (1) is loaded onto the device (3).

Description:
A process of loading a rail utility vehicle onto rail

tracks

Field of the invention

The present invention relates to a process of loading a rail utility vehicle onto rail tracks. The process uses a portable turn-table device that is suitable for loading rail utility vehicles onto, as well as from, rail tracks.

Background of the invention

Railways are an important means of transport and a valuable infrastructure to society. It is important to keep the railways in a good state of repair. To do this, almost constant repair and maintenance of the railways is needed. Much of this repair and maintenance work is carried out by rail utility vehicles. These rail utility vehicles are typically transported by road (e.g. in a trailer) to the site of maintenance, where they are loaded onto the railway tracks in order to carry out their maintenance and repair duties. Upon completion of their maintenance and repair duties, these rail utility vehicles are then unloaded from the railway tracks (e.g. loaded back onto their trailers) and transported away from the railway track by road.

To meet this maintenance and repair need, many rail utility vehicles are loaded and unloaded onto railway tracks every day. This is not an easy task. Loading and unloading rail utility vehicles onto railway tracks can be difficult and time consuming. One of the main problems is that the rail tracks protrude above the ground. This difference in height means that the trailers that carry these rail utility vehicles on the road, cannot be easily positioned onto the rail tracks to unload the rail utility vehicle onto the rail tracks. One common method of loading a rail utility vehicle onto a rail track is to raise the level of the ground around the rail tracks up to the height of the rail tracks (e.g. by adding gravel and/or heavy matting around and between the rail tracks). In this manner, the trailer can be positioned such that the rail utility vehicle can be loaded onto the rail tracks. However, raising the level of the ground to the height of the rail tracks can be time consuming and demanding. For example, raising the level of the ground requires a significant amount of the material, such as gravel, to be transported to the site of maintenance and placed in a suitable location. Therefore, there remains a need to load and unload rail utility vehicles onto rail tracks easily.

The present invention overcomes this problem by providing a process of loading a rail utility vehicle onto rail tracks. The process uses a portable turn-table device that is suitable for loading rail utility vehicles onto, as well as from, rail tracks.

The portable turn-table device of the present invention is suitable to be transported along with the rail utility vehicle. The device can be placed on the rail tracks and facilitate the loading and unloading of the rail utility vehicle.

The device typically needs to be strong and have sufficient structural rigidity when placed on top of rail track. In addition, typically the individual components of the device need to be limited to such a weight that two people can carry each component, or at the very least such that a light crane can be used to position the components in place.

An additional problem addressed by the present invention is that placing a device on top of a rail track, as opposed to placing a device on the ground, means that, when in position on top of the rail tracks, the device only has minimal points of contact to the ground, such as four points of contact. This places much greater pressures and bending forces on the portable device compared to placing it on a flat surface, such as the ground, when substantially the entire floor of the device is in contact with the ground. In a preferred embodiment, the present invention overcomes this problem by providing a device that has a hollow circular base ring, this increases the structural rigidity. Other features of the device include rail track positioners on the base ring, which reduce any movement of the device that is perpendicular to the rail tracks (whilst optionally still allowing for fine-positioning of the device in a direction parallel to the rail tracks).

Summary of the invention

The present invention provides a process of loading a rail utility vehicle (1) onto rail tracks (2) using a portable turn-table device (3), wherein the device (3) comprises: (a) a circular base ring (4); (b) a middle frame (5); and (c) at least two wheel guides (6), wherein the base ring (4) is selected from: a hollow metal tube; I-beam; U-beam; or L-beam, wherein the base ring (4) comprises at least two rail track positioners (7), wherein the rail track positioners (7) are capable of keeping the base ring (4) positioned in place on top of the rail tracks (2) so as to minimize any movement of the device (3) that is perpendicular to the rail tracks (2), wherein the middle frame (5) comprises at least three wheels (8) that allow rotation of the middle frame (5) along the circular base ring (4), wherein the wheel guides (6) are capable of connecting to the middle frame (5) in a secure manner so as to hold a rail utility vehicle (1) on the device (3) when loaded, wherein the wheel guides (6) are capable of accepting the wheels of the rail utility vehicle (1) when the rail utility vehicle (1) is loaded onto the device (3), wherein the process comprises the steps of: (i) positioning the circular base ring (4) onto the rail tracks (2) and positioning the rail track positioners (7) so as to minimize any movement of the device (3) that is perpendicular to the rail tracks (2); (ii) optionally sliding the circular base ring (4) parallel to the rail tracks (2); (iii) placing the middle frame (5) on top of the circular base ring (4) and aligning the wheels (8) of the middle frame (5) so they can run on top of the circular base ring (4) and rotate the middle frame (5); (iv) placing the wheel guides (6) on the middle frame (5); (v) loading a rail utility vehicle (1) onto the device (3); (vi) rotating the middle frame (5) so that the rail utility vehicle (1) is facing parallel to the rail tracks (2); and (vii) unloading the rail utility vehicle (1) from the device (3) onto the rail tracks (2).

Brief description of the drawings Figure 1: Figure 1 is a diagram of the turn-table device (3).

Figure 2: Figure 2 is a top down view of the turn-table device (3).

Figure 3: Figure 3 is a schematic of the turn-table device (3) showing the rotation when in use. Detailed description of the invention

Process of loading a rail utility vehicle onto rail tracks. The process of loading a rail utility vehicle (1) onto rail tracks (2) uses a turn-table device (3). The device (3) is described in more detail below. The process comprises the steps of:

(i) positioning the circular base ring (4) onto the rail tracks (2) and positioning the rail track positioners (7) so as to minimize any movement of the device (3) that is perpendicular to the rail tracks (2);

(ii) optionally sliding the circular base ring (4) parallel to the rail tracks (2);

(iii) placing the middle frame (5) on top of the circular base ring (4) and

aligning the wheels (8) of the middle frame (5) so they can run on top of the circular base ring (4) and rotate the middle frame (5);

(iv) placing the wheel guides (6) on the middle frame (5);

(v) loading a rail utility vehicle (1) onto the device (3);

(vi) rotating the middle frame (5) so that the rail utility vehicle (1) is facing parallel to the rail tracks (2); and

(vii) unloading the rail utility vehicle (1) from the device (3) onto the rail tracks

(2).

The rail utility vehicle (1) may be present in a trailer, and wherein the trailer is loaded onto the device (3).

Portable turn-table device. The portable turn-table device (3) is suitable for loading rail utility vehicles (1) onto rail tracks (2). The device (3) comprises: (a) a circular base ring (4); (b) a middle frame (5); and (c) at least two wheel guides (6). Typically, the device (3) is capable of allowing the manual rotation of a rail utility vehicle

(1) .

Preferably, the entire device (3) weighs less than 200 kg. Preferably, each independent component of the device (3) weights less than 50 kg. This can ensure that each component can be transported by two people without excessive difficulty if required. Preferably, no individual component weighs more than 33% of the total weight of the device (3).

Preferably the rotatable portion of the turntable is made from at least four separate components. The entire turntable can be made from six components, or even more. This is especially preferred when ramps (9) are used and are attached to the wheel guides (6). This can aid in the speed and simplicity of assembly and disassembly.

The separate components of the turntable, for example the base-ring (4), can be assembled from multiple sections prior to use. This can assist in the storage and transport of the turntable, especially in smaller vehicles, by minimising the maximum dimensions of the equipment that needs to be transported. The weight distribution of any individual components, such as the base-ring (4), can make the process of fine positioning of the turntable device (3) by sliding the base-ring (4) along the rails to align with the wheels of a utility vehicle (1) such as a trailer simple and rapid. Limiting the number of components can make overall assembly rapid once the base ring (4) is positioned correctly.

Circular base ring. The base ring (4) is selected from: a hollow metal tube or I-beam, U- beam or L-beam. The circular base ring (4) is preferably a hollow metal tube. The metal is preferably a steel. The hollow tube may have various cross-sectional shapes, for example rectangular, circular or oval. The hollow tube may be filled with a non-metallic material such as a resin so as to further increase structural rigidity without excessive increase in weight. If steel is used, the thickness of the metal should be greater than 3 mm to provide sufficient strength. If a beam is used, the flange(s) needs to be of sufficient height to provide sufficient structural rigidity.

The base ring (4) may be made of one or more sections. The base-ring (4) may consist of one section or it may be made from two or more sections. If the base ring (4) comprises more than one section, then these sections are typically joined together prior to the base-ring (4) being placed on the rails. This can assist when transporting the portable turn-table in smaller vehicles. The sections may be joined together by any suitable means, for example tapered shank wheel bolts joining interlocking thick steel sections at the joints.

The base-ring (4) comprises at least two rail track positioners (7). The circular base-ring (4) may comprise four track positioners (7), or more than four track positioners (7). The positioners (7) are typically connected to the base ring (4) such that they will position the base-ring (4) symmetrically on the rails and that the centre of the base-ring (4) is typically mid-way between both rails. Preferably the base-ring (4) has four positioners (7). The positioners (7) need to avoid interfering with the rotation of the middle frame (5), unless used as a deliberate feature where the rail positioners (7), or any other positioner, are used to stop the rotation of the middle frame (5) when the wheel guides (6) are correctly aligned with the rails.

It is also possible to insert adjustable supports between the ground and the base-ring (4) if the base ring (4) needs additional support at any point.

Middle frame. Typically, the middle frame (5) comprises at least three wheels (8) that allow rotation of the middle frame (5) along the circular base ring (4). Preferably, the middle frame (5) comprises at least four wheels (8).

Preferably, the middle frame (5) is quadrilateral having four comers.

More preferably, a wheel is positioned below each corner of the middle frame (5). Preferably, the wheels (8) of the middle frame (5) sit on top of the circular base ring (4).

In a preferred embodiment, another problem addressed by the present invention is the need to stabilise the wheels (8) of the middle frame (5) on the base ring (4). When the base ring (4) is hollow, typically there is no groove for the wheels (8) to slot into and provide stabilisation and direction. Preferably, each wheel (8) comprises a stabilizer (10). Preferably, each stabilizer (10) independently protrudes below the bottom of wheel and extends to the outside and/or the inside of the circular base ring (4) so as to minimize any movement of the middle frame (5) that is perpendicular to the direction of rotation along the circular base ring (4). In a preferred embodiment, another problem addressed by the present invention is the need to reduce the height of the wheel guides (6) above the base-ring (4) that support and contain the road-rail utility vehicle (1) when it is loaded onto the device (3). Reducing the height helps stabilise the loaded device (3). The preferred embodiment also allows the use of larger diameter wheels (8) attached to the middle frame (5) without requiring excessive height and this also helps stabilise the system. This can be achieved by attaching the wheels (8) plus stabilizers (10) to the side of the middle frame (5) as compared to the base of the middle frame (5).

Preferably, the wheels (8) are acrylic, although other plastic can be used.

Wheel guide. Typically, the wheel guides (6) are capable of connecting to the middle frame (5) in a secure manner so as to hold a rail utility vehicle (1) on the device (3) when loaded. Preferably the wheel guides (6) and middle frame (5) use a slot and tongue connection system such that the wheel guides (6) can be vertically lowered and fixed into position on the middle frame (5). Optionally, additional fastening devices such as clamps can be used for extra security. Typically, the wheel guides (6) are capable of accepting the wheels of the rail utility vehicle (1) when the rail utility vehicle (1) is loaded onto the device (3).

It may be preferred for each wheel guide comprises at least one wheel. This will aid the stability of the device (3), especially when loaded with the rail utility vehicle (1). The wheels (8) may be acrylic, although other plastic may also be used.

Rail track positioners. The rail track positioners (7) are capable of keeping the base ring (4) positioned in place on top of the rail tracks (2) so as to minimize any movement of the device (3) that is perpendicular to the rail tracks (2). However, the positioners (7) can allow some movement in the direction of the rail tracks (2). This feature can make it possible to move and adjust the exact position of the device (3) so as to enable the correct alignment of the device (3) with any vehicle being loaded onto the wheel guides (6) of the device (3). This is an especially preferred feature when trailers are being loaded onto the device (3) by reversing a road-rail vehicle. Provided that the weight of the device (3) is kept within the preferred limits, the fine-positioning of the device (3) can be accomplished by manual exertion. Ramp. Preferably, the device (3) comprises one or more ramp(s) (9). Typically, a ramp (9) is capable of connecting to the middle frame (5) and/or the wheel guide (6) in such a manner as to allow the loading/unloading of a rail utility vehicle (1) onto and off the device (3). The ramp(s) (9) may be supported by adjustable spacers placed between the ramp(s) (9) and the ground if this is needed.