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Title:
SPACE FRAME CENTER UPPER FRAME CONNECTION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/080887
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A center upper frame connection (225) for a space frame (20) can comprise a pair of outer support beams (2250) spaced from each in a width direction, a rearward center support (2260) between the outer support beams (2250), and support beam arch (2270). Each outer support beam (2250) can have a rearward frame connection boss (2252) and a forward center frame nodal connection boss (2254). The rearward center support (2260) can have a pair of rearward frame connection bosses (2262) oriented at an angle relative to each other, and a pair of side frame connection bosses (2264) provided on opposing sides of the rearward center support (2260). The support beam arch (2270) can be provided adjacent to the outer support beams (2250) and the rearward center support (2260). The rearward center support (2260) can be located on a longitudinal centerline of the support beam arch (2270) and can be parallel to the outer support beams (2250).

Inventors:
MILLER TAD W (US)
ZALANKA DAVID O (US)
HARMAN TIMOTHY D (US)
ALWORTH THOMAS (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2020/056244
Publication Date:
April 29, 2021
Filing Date:
October 19, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CATERPILLAR INC (US)
International Classes:
B62D21/06; B62D27/02; B62D63/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANYASO, Uchendu O. et al. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A center upper frame connection fabrication (225) for a space frame (20) of a haul truck (10) comprising: a pair of outer support beams (2250) each having a rearward frame connection boss (2252) and a forward center frame nodal connection boss (2254), the outer support beams (2250) being spaced from each in a width direction of the center upper frame connection fabrication (225); a rearward center support (2260) between the outer support beams (2250) and having a pair of rearward frame connection bosses (2262) oriented at an acute angle relative to each other, and a pair of opposing side frame connection bosses (2264) oriented perpendicular to the rearward center support (2260); and a support beam arch (2270) contacting the outer support beams (2250) and the rearward center support (2260), the support beam arch (2270) blending tangentially with the outer support beams (2250), wherein the rearward center support (2260) is located on a longitudinal centerline of the support beam arch (2270) and is parallel to the outer support beams (2250).

2. The center upper frame connection fabrication of claim 1, wherein the rearward frame connection bosses (2262) face a first direction, and the forward center frame nodal connection bosses (2254) face a second direction opposite the first direction.

3. The center upper frame connection fabrication of claim 1, wherein the support beam arch (2270) has a length, at the longitudinal centerline thereof, that is longer than each of the outer support beams (2250).

4. The center upper frame connection fabrication of claim 1, wherein the support beam arch (2270) is wider than the rearward center support (2260). 5. The center upper frame connection fabrication of claim 1, wherein the support beam arch (2270) is in the form of a rib (2272) having a thickness greater than portions of the outer support beams (2250) and the rearward center support (2260) that contact the support beam arch (2270).

6. The center upper frame connection fabrication of claim 1, further comprising ribs (2273) that extend from the rearward frame connection boss (2262) of the outer support beams (2250) to the rearward frame connection bosses (2262) of the rearward center support (2260).

7. The center upper frame connection fabrication of claim 1, wherein outer sides of the outer support beams (2250) are free of ribs. 8. A method regarding a center upper frame connection (225) comprising: providing a pair of outer support beams (2250) of the center upper frame connection (225) spaced from each in a width direction, each said outer support beam (2250) having a rearward frame connection boss (2252) and a forward center frame nodal connection boss (2254); providing a rearward center support (2260) of the center upper frame connection (225) between the outer support beams (2250), the rearward center support (2260) having a pair of rearward frame connection bosses (2262) oriented at an angle relative to each other, and a pair of side frame connection bosses (2264) provided on opposing sides of the rearward center support (2260); and providing a support beam arch (2270) of the center upper frame connection (225) adjacent to the outer support beams (2250) and the rearward center support (2260), wherein the rearward center support (2260) is located on a longitudinal centerline of the support beam arch (2270) and is parallel to the outer support beams (2250). 9. The method of claim 8, further comprising casting the center upper frame connection (225) to integrally form in one piece the pair of outer support beams (2250), the rearward center support (2260), and the support beam arch (2270). 10. The method of claim 8, further comprising: welding a pair of outer frame tubes (201) respectively to the rearward frame connection bosses (2252) of the pair of outer support beams (2250); welding the forward center frame nodal connection bosses (2254) of the pair of outer support beams (2250) to respective center upper frame connection castings (230) of a space frame (20); welding a pair of angled frame tubes (202) respectively to the rearward frame connection bosses (2262) of the rearward center support (2260); and/or welding a pair of transverse frame tubes (203) respectively to the side frame connection bosses (2264) of the rearward center support (2260).

Description:
Description

SPACE FRAME CENTER UPPER FRAME CONNECTION Technical Field

The present disclosure relates to space frames, and more particularly to space frame center upper frame connections, and systems, components, and methods thereof.

Background

Conventional haul trucks, such as off-highway rear haul trucks, may use welded steel frames that can be extremely heavy and may require many meters of welding to fabricate a completed frame. Space frames offer a lighter and stronger alternative to traditional welded steel frames, since far less steel is required. As a result, space frames offer considerable benefits in terms of cost, manufacturability, and performance. For example, haul trucks with space frames comparatively can haul larger payloads and consume less fuel.

Conventional space frame structures may use fabricated nodal connections. Such nodal connections may be used to create space frame structures associated with static applications. However, vehicular applications are, at least in part, dynamic in nature, and haul trucks can represent a particularly difficult application because of loads applied to the space frame as well as bending, twisting, and/or flexing that can occur as the haul truck travels on various types of terrain, such as off highway terrain. Carefully designed high- strength castings and fabrications can be required to provide appropriate stiffness and flexibility characteristics while insuring proper load transfer from the dump body to the wheels.

U.S. Patent No. 10,183,706 (“the ‘706 patent”) describes a node for interconnecting frame members of a frame. According to the ‘706 patent, a plurality of cup-shaped node connectors are disposed on the node body, where each of the node connectors includes a closed end attached to the node body and an open end opposite the closed end and extending away from the node body. The ‘706 patent also describes that a sidewall extends between and connects the closed end to the open end and a tenon is formed on the open end. According to the ‘706 patent, the tenon is shaped and sized to fit within a frame member, and a transition is formed between the sidewall and the tenon defining a peripheral, radially outward facing groove in cooperation with the frame member, where the groove is shaped and sized to receive a weld.

Summary of the Disclosure

In one aspect, a center upper frame connection fabrication for a space frame of a haul truck is disclosed. The center upper frame connection fabrication can comprise a pair of outer support beams each having a rearward frame connection boss and a forward center frame nodal connection boss, the outer support beams being spaced from each in a width direction of the center upper frame connection fabrication; a rearward center support between the outer support beams and having a pair of rearward frame connection bosses oriented at an acute angle relative to each other, and a pair of opposing side frame connection bosses oriented perpendicular to the rearward center support; and a support beam arch contacting the outer support beams and the rearward center support, the support beam arch blending tangentially with the outer support beams. The rearward center support can be located on a longitudinal centerline of the support beam arch and is parallel to the outer support beams.

In another aspect, a space frame for a rear haul truck is disclosed. The space frame can be comprised of a center upper frame connection fabrication; a pair of outer frame tubes; a pair of angled frame tubes; and a pair of transverse frame tubes. The center upper frame connection fabrication can include a pair of outer support beams each having a rearward frame connection boss and a forward center frame nodal connection boss, the outer support beams being spaced from each in a width direction of the space frame, and the rearward frame connection bosses respectively weldably attached to the outer frame tubes, a rearward center support between the outer support beams and having a pair of rearward frame connection bosses oriented at an acute angle relative to each other, and a pair of side frame connection bosses provided on opposing sides of the rearward center support, the rearward frame connection bosses respectively weldably attached to the angled frame tubes, and the side frame connection bosses respectively weldably attached to the transverse frame tubes, and a support beam arch contacting the outer support beams and the rearward center support. The rearward center support is located on a longitudinal centerline of the support beam arch and is parallel to the outer support beams.

And in yet another aspect, a method regarding a center upper frame connection is disclosed. The method can comprise providing a pair of outer support beams of the center upper frame connection spaced from each in a width direction, each said outer support beam having a rearward frame connection boss and a forward center frame nodal connection boss; providing a rearward center support of the center upper frame connection between the outer support beams, the rearward center support having a pair of rearward frame connection bosses oriented at an angle relative to each other, and a pair of side frame connection bosses provided on opposing sides of the rearward center support; and providing a support beam arch of the center upper frame connection adjacent to the outer support beams and the rearward center support. The rearward center support can be located on a longitudinal centerline of the support beam arch and is parallel to the outer support beams.

Other features and aspects of this disclosure will be apparent from the following description and the accompanying drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings

FIG. l is a side view of a machine according to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter.

FIG. 2 is a front view of the machine of FIG. 1 with an operator cabin thereof removed to show a space frame and a dump body thereof according to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter.

FIG. 3 is a side view of a space frame according to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter. FIGs. 4-6 are views of a center upper frame connection according to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter.

FIG. 7 is an exploded view of the space frame and dump body to show defined contact points according to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter.

Detailed Description

Referring now to the drawings and with specific reference to FIG.

1 and FIG. 2, these figures illustrate an exemplary embodiment of a machine 10. Machine 10 may be a mobile machine that performs some type of operation associated with an industry such as mining, construction, or any other industry known in the art. For example, as shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, machine 10 may be an earth moving machine, particularly, an off-highway rear haul truck 10.

Machine 10 may have a space frame 20 supported by front wheels 14 and rear wheels 16 (including respective tires). The front and rear wheels 14, 16 may be connected to space frame 20 by front suspension members and rear suspension systems, respectively. Machine 10 may also include a bed or body 30 supported by the space frame 20. Such bed or body 30 may be referred to herein as a dump body 30. The dump body 30 can be configured as a receptacle to receive hauling material.

A rear portion 34 of the dump body 30 can be pivotably coupled or attached to a portion (including portions) at a rear 24 of the space frame 20. Discussed in more detail below, portions of the dump body 30 between the rear portion 34 and a front portion 36 of the dump body 30 can be movably positioned relative to respective portions of the space frame 20 to support the dump body 30 on the space frame 20 at a rest position of the dump body 30. The rest position of the dump body 30 may be considered as positioning of the dump body 30 such that the front portion 36 of the dump body 30 is at a lower-most position (i.e., not raised). The dump body 30 can be pivoted at the rear portion 34 about the rear 24 of the space frame 20 to raise or lower the portion of the dump body 30 in front of the pivot (and hence move the portion of the dump body 30 behind the pivot in the opposite direction). Such pivoting of the dump body 30 to raise the front portion 36 of the dump body 30 can be to dump content from within the dump body 30. Likewise, pivoting of the dump body 30 to lower the front portion 36 of the dump body 30 to the rest position can be to receive content in the dump body 30.

Machine 10 may have an operator cabin 18 supported by the space frame 20 at a front of the space frame 20. Machine 10 may also be equipped with a steering mechanism and controls to move the machine 10 and controls to raise and lower dump body 30. The steering mechanism and the controls may be located within the operator cabin 18 of the machine 10.

Machine 10 may have a prime mover (not expressly shown) supported by the space frame 20. Generally, the prime mover may be provided in a space 21 of the space frame 20. The prime mover may be configured to propel the front and rear wheels 14, 16 in the forward or rearward direction. The prime mover may be lengthwise aligned on space frame 20 along a travel direction of the machine 10. One skilled in the art will recognize, however, that the prime mover may be aligned transversally. In one exemplary embodiment, the prime mover may be an internal combustion engine, which may be a two-stroke or four- stroke diesel engine, for instance. One skilled in the art will recognize, however, that the prime mover may be any other type of internal combustion engine, such as a gasoline engine or a gaseous fuel-powered engine. The prime mover may be connected to front and/or rear wheels 14, 16 via other components such as a drive train (not shown) to transfer motive power to move the front and/or rear wheels 14, 16 in a forward or rearward direction.

Exhaust from the prime mover may be output from one or more exhaust outputs (not expressly shown). Optionally, the one or more exhaust outputs may be provided generally between the operator cabin 18 and a front wall 37 of the dump body 30 such that exhaust is provided toward at least a predetermined portion of the front wall 37. A coupling (e.g., bellows) may be provided to connect the one or more exhaust outputs to the front wall 37 of the dump body 30, for instance, to a heating channel provided in or on the front wall 37 of the dump body 30 to heat the material carried in the dump body 30.

In general, a space frame according to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, such as space frame 20, may be a frame that includes structural members connected to each other at nodes and/or joints. The structural members can include hollow tubes and/or solid tubes, and in some instances can be connected according to a triangulated structural. The structural members can be made of metal, metal alloys, or reinforced composite materials, for instance.

FIG. 3 is a more detailed view of the space frame 20. As shown, the space frame 20 can include a pair of rear frame connections 210 at the rear 24 of the space frame 20, a pair of center lower frame connections 220, a center upper frame connection 225, a pair of center upper frame connections 230, a pair of center upper frame nodal connections 240, a pair of front upper frame connections 250, a pair of front lower frame connections 260, a front upper frame connection 270, a pair of front upper suspension connections 280, and a front lower suspension connection 290. Though the foregoing connections are described as pairs, the connections of a pair may not be identical. For instance, the connections of a pair may be symmetrical, generally, but not necessarily identical. The foregoing connections can be castings or fabrications. In general, a casting may refer to a connection that is not welded to another support component of the space frame 20, and a fabrication may refer to a connection that is welded to another support component of the space frame 20.

The center lower frame connections 220 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/663,892; the center upper frame connections 230 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/664,042; the center upper frame nodal connections 240 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/663,955; the front upper frame connections 250 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/664,010; the front lower frame connections 260 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/664,104; the front upper suspension connections 280 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/664,124; and/or the front lower suspension connection 290 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/664,169. The foregoing applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

The space frame 20 can also include a plurality of elongate support members, such as elongate support members 201, elongate support members 202, and elongate support members 203. Elongate support members, according to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, can be in the form of rods and/or tubes, circular, for instance, where some or all of the rods and/or tubes may be solid or hollow.

Turning to FIGs. 4-6, the center upper frame connection 225, which may be a fabrication, can include a pair of outer support beams 2250 spaced from each other in a width direction of the center upper frame connection 225 (and the space frame 20), a rearward center support 2260, and a support beam arch 2270. As shown, the rearward center support 2260 can be between the outer support beams 2250.

As a non-limiting example, in a top view such as FIG. 5, center upper frame connection 225 can be in the form of a Y. At least the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260 may be integral with each other, i.e., formed in one piece, for instance, via fabrication. Optionally, the support beam arch 2270 also can be integral with the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260.

Each of the outer support beams 2250 can have a rearward frame connection boss 2252 and a forward center frame nodal connection boss 2254. According to one or more embodiments, the rearward frame connection boss 2252 can face a first direction, and the forward center frame nodal connection boss 2254 can face a second direction. The second direction may be opposite the first direction.

The rearward center support 2260, which may be parallel to the outer support beams 2250, can have a pair of rearward frame connection bosses 2262 and a pair of side frame connection bosses 2264. According to one or more embodiments, an interface between the rearward frame connection bosses 2262 can be at a vertical centerline of the center upper frame connection 225. Additionally, the rearward frame connection bosses 2262 can be oriented or face at an angle with respect to each other in the top view of the center upper frame connection 225. For example, the angle may be an acute angle. The side frame connection bosses 2264 may be provided on opposite sides of the rearward center support 2260. Optionally, the side frame connection bosses 2264 may face in opposite directions laterally outward toward the elongate support members 201. For instance, the side frame connection bosses 2264 may be oriented perpendicular to a length direction of the rearward center support 2260.

The support beam arch 2270 can contact portions of each of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. For example, the support beam arch 2270 can contact inner surfaces of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. According to one or more embodiments, the rearward center support 2260 can be located on a longitudinal centerline of the support beam arch 2270. For example, the rearward center support 2260 can be centered on the longitudinal centerline of the support beam arch 2270.

The support beam arch 2270 can have a length at the longitudinal centerline thereof, that is longer than each of the outer support beams 2250. Additionally or alternatively, the support beam arch 2270 can be wider than rearward center support 2260. According to one or more embodiments, the width of the support beam arch 2270, particularly the void 2271 created thereby, can define a volume sufficient to accommodate the transmission of the machine 10, for instance. Additionally, the support beam arch 2270 can blend from the portion thereof adjacent to the rearward center support 2260 with the outer support beams 2250, particularly inner edges thereof, going toward the forward center frame nodal connection bosses 2254.

According to one or more embodiments, the support beam arch 2270 can be in the form of or otherwise include a rib 2272. The rib 2272 may run discontinuously or continuously in an arc from one forward center frame nodal connection boss 2254 of one outer support beam 2250 to the other forward center frame nodal connection boss 2254 of the other outer support beam 2250, such as shown in FIGs. 4-6. Moreover, according to one or more embodiments, the rib 2272 may be formed of rib sections, for instance, respectively corresponding to the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260.

Also shown in FIGs. 4-6, the rib 2272, which may be a curved elongate plate or plates, may have a thickness or height greater than adjacent portions of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. According to one or more embodiments, the rib 2272 may project or extend above upper surfaces of the adjacent portions of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. For example, the rib 2272 may be perpendicular to the upper surfaces of the adjacent portions of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260.

Ribs 2273 may also be provided on the outer support beams 2250 and/or the rearward center support 2260. FIGs. 4-6, for instance, show ribs 2273 provided on edges of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. As shown, a rib 2273, which may be comprised of multiple rib sections, can extend from the rearward frame connection boss 2252 of one of the outer support beams 2250 to the rearward frame connection boss 2262 of the rearward center support 2260 on the same side. Another rib 2273 may be similarly provided on the other side of the rearward center support 2260 relative to the other outer support beam 2250. Optionally, outer lateral sides of the outer support beams 2250 may be free of ribs 2273.

The ribs 2273, which may be in the form of a curved elongate plate or plates, may have a thickness or height greater than adjacent portions of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. According to one or more embodiments, the ribs 2273 may project or extend above upper surfaces of the adjacent portions of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. For example, the ribs 2273 may be perpendicular to the upper surfaces of the adjacent portions of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. The rearward frame connection bosses 2252 can be adapted to have fixedly attached thereto (e.g., weldably attached) elongate support members 201, and the forward center frame nodal connection bosses 2254 can be adapted to be fixedly attached (e.g., weldably attached) to center upper frame connection 230, such as shown in FIGs. 4-6. The rearward frame connection bosses 2262 and the side frame connection bosses 2264 of the rearward center support 2260 can be adapted to have fixedly attached thereto (e.g., weldably attached) elongate support members 202 and elongate support members 203, respectively. Elongate support members 202 may be referred to herein as longitudinal or angular elongate support members 202 (e.g., angled frame tubes), and elongate support members 203 may be referred to herein as transverse elongate support members 203 (e.g., transverse frame tubes). Thus, according to one or more embodiments, in a side view of the space frame 20 the center upper frame connection 225 can be at an acute angle relative to horizontal, for instance, where the rearward frame connection bosses 2252 are higher than the forward center frame nodal connection bosses 2254. Alternatively, the center upper frame connection 225 can extend horizontally. In either case, the center upper frame connection 225 may still be considered as extending horizontally.

Turning back to FIG. 3, each elongate support member 201 can be provided between the rear frame connections 210 and the front upper frame connection 270 in a top plan view of the space frame 20. More specifically, each elongate support member 201 can be provided between the center upper horizontal frame connection 225 and one of the rear frame connections 210. Further, each elongate support member 201 can extend lengthwise generally horizontally, in this case rearward from the center upper horizontal frame connection 225 at a positive acute angle relative to a horizontal plane running through the front wheels 14 and the rear wheels 16. In that the elongate support members 201 are provided at an outer portion of the space frame 20 in a width direction of the space frame 20, the elongate support members 201 may be considered outer elongate support members 201. As an example, the outer elongate support members 201 may be outer frame tubes. Each rear frame connection 210, which may be a casting, can have a rear support 211 and a rear suspension node 215. Discussed in more detail below, the rear support 211 can directly support the dump body 30, and the rear suspension node 215 can be coupled to a rear suspension member 115 of the rear suspension system. The rear frame connections 210 can also be coupled to a plurality of elongate support members, including elongate support members 201. According to one or more embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, each of the rear frame connections 210 can be seven-point connections. For instance, according to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, the rear frame connections 210 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/663,815, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

The rear support 211 can be configured as a pivot pin boss with a pivot pin bore or opening 212. According to one or more embodiments, an outer surface of the rear support 211 (i.e., pivot pin boss) and the pivot pin bore 212 can be cylindrical. An axis of the pivot pin bore 212 can extend in a width direction of the space frame 20. Moreover, the axes of the pivot pin bores 212 from the rear supports 211 of the pair of rear frame connections 210 may be aligned with each other. That is, the axes of the pivot pin bores 212 can be coaxial or common. The pivot pin bore 212 can be configured to receive a pivot pin of a pivot pin interface 213 such that the pivot pin interface 213 is pivotally coupled to the rear support 211 via the pivot pin bore 212 and the pivot pin interface 213 can pivot or rotate about the axes of the pivot pin bore 212 and the pivot pin of the pivot pin interface 213. Discussed in more detail below, the pivot pin interface 213 can also be coupled to a bottom 35 of the dump body 30.

As shown in FIG. 3, the front upper frame connection 270 can be fixedly coupled to the front upper suspension connections 280, and a bottom of the front upper frame connection 270 can be fixedly coupled to the front upper frame connections 250. Additionally, the front upper frame connection 270, which may be a fabrication, can have a body with a pair of rocker attachment interfaces 272 on a top surface thereof. According to one or more embodiments, the front upper frame connection 270 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/663,849, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

The rocker attachment interfaces 272 can be spaced from each other in a width direction of the space frame 20, for instance, provided at opposite outer lateral edges of the body of the front upper frame connection 270, such as shown in FIG. 3. Each rocker attachment interface 272 can have a pivot pin bore configured to receive a pivot pin. Optionally, the pivot pin can be considered part of the rocker attachment interface 272. An axis of rotation for the pivot pin bore and the pivot pin can run horizontally or substantially horizontally in a length direction of the space frame 20. Moreover, the axes of rotation for the rocker attachment interfaces 272 can be parallel to each other.

Each rocker attachment interface 272 can have rotatably attached thereto a support rocker 274 via the pivot pin. In that the rocker attachment interfaces 272 can be spaced apart from each other in the width direction of the space frame 20, so too can be the support rockers 274. Moreover, the support rockers 274 can rotate or pivot laterally or in a width direction of the space frame 20 about the respective axes of rotation defined by the rocker attachment interfaces 272.

According to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, each support rocker 274 can have an upward-facing contact surface 275. The upward- facing contact surface 275 can be concave, for instance, semi-cylindrical, elliptical, or multi -planar. Additionally, the upward-facing contact surface 275 can be or include a padding. According to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, the support rocker 274 and/or components thereof, can be according to U.S. Application No. 16/663,512 and/or U.S. Application No. 16/663,551, each of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Discussed in more detail below, the support rockers 274, particularly the upward-facing contact surfaces 275 thereof, can receive a portion of corresponding vertical support structures 370 of the dump body 30 (see FIG. 7). Turning now to FIG. 7, the dump body 30 can have, on the bottom 35 thereof, a rear pivot support 310 and a pair of flat contact surfaces 301, and on the front wall 37 thereof, a pair of vertical support structures 370.

The rear pivot support 310 can be provided at the rear portion 34 of the dump body 30, such as shown in FIG. 7. The rear pivot support 310 can have a pair of rear pivots 311. The rear pivots 311 can be spaced apart from each other in a width or lateral direction of the dump body 30, such as shown in FIG.

7. The rear pivot support 310 can also include a cross-member 314, which can be provided between the rear pivots 311, fixedly connected to or part of the rear pivots 311 (i.e., integral and/or one-piece with).

The rear pivot support 310 can be fixedly coupled to the bottom 35 of the dump body 30. For example, the rear pivot support 310 can be welded to the bottom 35 of the dump body 30. More specifically, according to one or more embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, each rear pivot 311 can be welded to a corresponding longitudinal body support member 377 on the bottom of the dump body 30. As shown in FIG. 7, for instance, each rear pivot 311 can be welded in-line with the corresponding longitudinal body support member 377. Thus, the rear pivot 311 can be considered as part of the longitudinal body support member 377 (i.e., integral and/or one-piece with).

Each rear pivot 311 can also include a plurality of cut-outs, for instance, two cut-outs, spaced apart from each other in a length direction of the dump body 30. Each cut-out can receive or accept a transverse body support member 378. Moreover, the cut-outs of one of the rear pivots 311 can receive different transverse body support members 378, for instance, adjacent transverse body support members 378, such as shown in FIG. 7. Additionally, as shown, each transverse body support member 378 can extend through one cut-out of one rear pivot 311 and through an opposing cut-out of the other rear pivot 311.

According to one or more embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, the rear pivots 311 can also include an attachment interface 312 on an outer side surface thereof, such as shown in FIG. 7. As a non-limiting example, the attachment interface 312 can include a pair of projections configured to mate with corresponding notches of the pivot pin interface 213. The rear pivot support 310 and corresponding connections can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/663,627, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

The rear pivots 311 can be pivotally coupled to the rear supports 211 of the space frame 20 via the pivot pin interface 213. More specifically, for each rear pivot 311/rear support 211 pair, the rear support 211 can be provided in a pivot bore of the rear pivot 311 (e.g., between the two pivot bore portions of a single rear pivot 311) such that the pivot bore 212 of the rear support 211 is aligned with the pivot bore and such that a pin of the pivot pin interface 213 extends through the pivot bore 212 of the rear support 211 and the pivot bore of the rear pivot 311. An arm 214 of the pivot pin interface 213 can have one or more notches configured to be mated with corresponding one or more projections of the attachment interface 312.

The pivot pin interface 213 can be held in place by way of the interconnection between the notches of the pivot pin interface 213 and the projections of the attachment interface 312. Moreover, the arm 214 can be fixedly coupled to the attachment interface 312. For example, a bracket can be fixedly or removably coupled to the projections, over the arm 214 of the pivot pin interface 213, to prevent the pivot pin interface 213 from moving laterally outward from the rear pivot 311. The bracket can be fixed to the projections via bolts, rivets, or welding as non-limiting examples.

The bottom 35 of the dump body 30 can include the plurality of flat contact surfaces 301, such as shown in FIG. 7. The flat contact surfaces 301 may be in the form of a plate, such as a rectangular or square plate, though embodiments of the disclosed subject matter are not limited to the foregoing geometries. Optionally, the flat contact surfaces 301 can have a chamfered portion on a bottom edge thereof. The flat contact surfaces 301 can be provided generally at a middle portion of the dump body 30. In a top plan view of the dump body 30, the pair of flat contact surfaces 301 can be between the rear pivot support 310 and the pair of vertical support structures 370 in the length direction of the dump body 30. Additionally, the flat contact surfaces 301 can be provided on corresponding longitudinal support body members 377. For instance, the flat contact surfaces 301 can be provided on inward-facing surfaces of the longitudinal support body members 377. Thus, in embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, the flat contact surfaces 301 can be vertically-oriented, such as shown in FIG. 7. Moreover, the flat contact surface 301 on one longitudinal support body member 377 can be spaced apart from the flat contact surface 301 on the opposing longitudinal support body member 377 in the width direction of the dump body 30. The flat contact surfaces 301 can be coupled to the longitudinal support body members 377, for instance, by welding, rivets, or bolts, as non-limiting examples.

According to one or more embodiments, each flat contact surface 301 can be comprised of a first flat contact surface portion and a second flat contact surface portion spaced from the first flat contact surface portion in the length direction of the dump body 30, such as shown in FIG. 7. Optionally, the first and second flat contact surface portions of the flat contact surface 301 may be of the same configuration. Of course, each flat contact surface 301, according to one or more embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, may be represented by a single flat contact surface (e.g., a single plate). For example, only one of the first or second flat contact surface portions shown in FIG. 7 may constitute the flat contact surface 301.

Discussed in more detail below, when the dump body 30 is in a lowered position (i.e., rest position), the flat contact surfaces 301 attached to the dump body 30 can be positioned as shown in FIG. 7. That is, the flat contact surfaces 301 can be provided adjacent to outer or lateral sides of the outer elongate support members 201. According to one or more embodiments, the flat contact surfaces 301 can be parallel to the outer elongate support members 201.

The vertical support structures 370 of the dump body 30 can extend from a front face of front wall 37 of the dump body 30. The vertical support structures 370 can be fixed to the front face of the front wall 37, for instance, via welding. The vertical support structures 370 can be spaced apart from each other in the width direction of the dump body 30. According to one or more embodiments, the vertical support structures 370 can be centered on opposite sides of a vertical centerline of the dump body 30 in a front view of the machine 10, such as shown in FIG. 2. The vertical support structures 370 can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/663,825, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Vertical support structures 370 can be vertical in at least the front view of the dump body 30. Depending upon the configuration of the front wall 37 of the dump body 30, in a side view of the dump body 30 the vertical support structures 370 may be generally vertical, for instance, at an angle 10 degrees or less from vertical.

According to one or more embodiments, the vertical support structures 370 can extend through a horizontal support structure 375, which can also be fixed (e.g., welded) to the front face of the front wall 37. Intersecting surfaces of the horizontal support structure 375 and each vertical support structure 370 can be fixedly attached via welding, for instance. The horizontal support structure 375 can be as set forth in U.S. Application No. 16/663,825, which, as noted above, is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Each vertical support structure 370 can have a down-facing contact surface 371. According to one or more embodiments, the down-facing contact surface 371 can be convex, for instance, semi-cylindrical, elliptical, or multi -planar. The down-facing contact surfaces 371 can be configured to be received or seated in the upward-facing contact surfaces 275 of the support rockers 274. Unlike the support rockers 274, the vertical support structures 370, themselves, do not pivot.

Industrial Applicability

As noted above, embodiments of the present disclosure relate to space frame center upper frame connections, and systems, components, and methods thereof.

Embodiments of the disclosed subject matter can provide a lightweight, durable machine configuration with a reliable support definition of load points between the dump body 30 and the space frame 20, for instance, in light of dimensional variations due to tolerances and/or component deflection.

In terms of components of the space frame 20, the space frame 20 can include the center upper frame connection 225, which may be a fabrication, and can include a pair of outer support beams 2250 spaced from each other in a width direction of the center upper frame connection 225 (and the space frame 20), a rearward center support 2260, and a support beam arch 2270. At least the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260 may be integral with each other, i.e., formed in one piece, for instance, via fabrication.

Optionally, the support beam arch 2270 also can be integral with the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260.

The support beam arch 2270 can contact portions of each of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. For example, the support beam arch 2270 can contact inner surfaces of the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260. The support beam arch 2270 can have a length at the longitudinal centerline thereof, that is longer than each of the outer support beams 2250. Additionally or alternatively, the support beam arch 2270 can be wider than rearward center support 2260. Optionally, the support beam arch 2270 can blend from the portion thereof adjacent to the rearward center support 2260 with the outer support beams 2250, particularly inner edges thereof, going toward the forward center frame nodal connection bosses 2254.

According to one or more embodiments, the width of the support beam arch 2270, particularly the void 2271 created thereby, can define a volume sufficient to accommodate the transmission of the machine 10. The void 2271 created by the support beam arch 2270 can facilitate removal of the transmission without having to cut out or remove portions (e.g., sides) of the space frame 20.

According to one or more embodiments, the support beam arch 2270 can be in the form of or otherwise include a rib 2272. In general, the rib 2272 can be a strengthening rib or brace configured to provide strength to the center upper frame connection 225 to accommodate for twisting and/or bending forces of the space frame 20. The rib 2272 may run discontinuously or continuously in an arc from one forward center frame nodal connection boss 2254 of one outer support beam 2250 to the other forward center frame nodal connection boss 2254 of the other outer support beam 2250. Moreover, according to one or more embodiments, the rib 2272 may be formed of rib sections, for instance, respectively corresponding to the outer support beams 2250 and the rearward center support 2260.

Ribs 2273 may also be provided on the outer support beams 2250 and/or the rearward center support 2260. A rib 2273, which may be comprised of multiple rib sections, can extend from the rearward frame connection boss 2252 of one of the outer support beams 2250 to the rearward frame connection boss 2262 of the rearward center support 2260 on the same side. Another rib 2273 may be similarly provided on the other side of the rearward center support 2260 relative to the other outer support beam 2250. The ribs 2273 can be strengthening ribs or braces configured to provide strength to the center upper frame connection 225 to accommodate for twisting and/or bending forces of the space frame 20.

The rearward frame connection bosses 2252 can have fixedly attached thereto (e.g., weldably attached) elongate support members 201, and the forward center frame nodal connection bosses 2254 can be fixedly attached (e.g., weldably attached) to center upper frame connection 230, such as shown in FIGs. 4-6. The rearward frame connection bosses 2262 and the side frame connection bosses 2264 of the rearward center support 2260 can have fixedly attached thereto (e.g., weldably attached) elongate support members 202 and elongate support members 203, respectively. Thus, according to one or more embodiments, in a side view of the space frame 20 the center upper frame connection 225 can be at an acute angle relative to horizontal, for instance, where the rearward frame connection bosses 2252 are higher than the forward center frame nodal connection bosses 2254. Alternatively, the center upper frame connection 225 can extend horizontally. In either case, the center upper frame connection 225 may still be considered as extending horizontally. According to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, the dump body 30 can operatively contact the space frame 20 according to a predetermined contact arrangement. For example, embodiments of the disclosed subject matter can provide for a six-point contact arrangement between the dump body 30 and the space frame 20. According to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, such contact arrangement can be provided when the dump body 30 is in a rest position. Rest position as used herein can mean that the dump body 30 is in a lower-most or fully down position and not raised by the lift cylinders 125, which may be coupled to the center lower frame connections 220.

Referring to FIG. 7, which shows an exploded view of the space frame 20 and the dump body 30 of the machine 10, a first pair of contact points can be provided by the rear supports 211 of the space frame 20 and the rear pivots 311 of the rear pivot supports 310 of the dump body 30. Each rear support 211 can be pivotally connected to the dump body 30 via the rear pivot 311. Such connection can allow the front portion 36 of the dump body 30 to be raised and lowered between upper-most and lower-most positions via rotation about the common pivot axis created by the connection between the rear supports 211 and the rear pivots 311.

A second pair of contact points can be provided by the positioning of the flat contact surfaces 301 relative to the elongate support members 201. In particular, the flat contact surfaces 301, which notably can be on or part of the dump body 30 and not the space frame 20, can be provided adjacent to outer or lateral sides of the elongate support members 201, such as shown in FIG. 7. As noted above, the flat contact surfaces 301 may be positioned parallel to the elongate support members 201. Additionally, according to one or more embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, the flat contact surfaces 301 can contact the elongate support members 201. Such positioning of the flat contact surfaces 301 can be when the dump body 30 is in the lower-most or rest position. Moreover, such positioning of the flat contact surfaces 301 can accommodate for lateral or horizontal forces from the corresponding the elongate support members 301 may have a chamfered portion on a bottom edge thereof. Such chamfered portion can aid in the centering of the dump body 30 when the dump body 30 is transitioned to the rest or fully down position.

A third pair of contact points can be provided by the positioning of the vertical support structures 370, particularly the down-facing contact surfaces 371 thereof, removably on the support rockers 274, particularly the upward- facing contact surfaces 275 thereof. According to embodiments of the disclosed subject matter, the down-facing contact surface 371 can be removably seated on the upward-facing contact surface 275. Additionally, in a front view of the machine 10 a vertical centerline axis of the down-facing contact surface 371 of each of the vertical support structures 370 can be offset from the axis of rotation (i.e., pivot axis) of a corresponding one of the support rockers 274. For example, as shown in FIG. 2, the vertical centerline axis of the down-facing contact surface 371 can be offset inward in a width direction of the machine 10 relative to the axis of rotation for the support rocker 274.

The vertical support structures 370, particularly the down-facing contact surfaces 371 when contacting the upward-facing contact surfaces 275 of the support rockers 274, can transfer loading through the space frame 20 to the front suspension system and the front wheels 14. Moreover, the vertical support structures 370 can provide support for horizontal components of force vectors with respect to the dump body 30 load being transferred through the space frame 20 and the front suspension system to the front wheels 14. Additionally, because the support rockers 274 can pivot laterally and independently of each other, and because both the support rockers 274 and the vertical support structures 370 have cooperating contact surfaces (i.e., upward-facing contact surfaces 275 and down facing contact surfaces 371, respectively), proper seating between the vertical support structures 370 and the support rockers 274 can be maintained, particularly when the dump body 30 is in the at-rest position, even when the machine 10 is moving, for instance. Such arrangement, as diagrammatically shown in FIG. 2, can thus provide an even load distribution LD with respect to each side of the support arrangement (i.e., side to side or laterally). Additionally shown in FIG. 2, in a front view the support rocker 274/vertical support structure 370 combinations can be located along longitudinal axes of respective front struts 121 connected to respective front suspension members 120 on same sides of the space frame 20. For example, the pivot axis of the support rocker 274 may be aligned with a longitudinal axis a corresponding front strut 121. The longitudinal axes can intersect at a point CL1 at a vertical centerline at a top of the dump body 30. Of course, embodiments of the disclosed subject matter are not so limited, and the longitudinal axis of the front strut 121 may not be aligned with the support rocker 274/vertical support structure 370 combination, such as the pivot axis of the support rocker 274. Also shown in FIG. 2, longitudinal axes of additional suspension members on opposite sides of the space frame 20 can intersect at a point CL2 at the same vertical centerline of the machine 10 as point CL1. The arrangement of the third pair of contact points, therefore, can uniformly transfer load from the dump body 30 through the support rockers 274 and the space frame 20 to the front suspension system.

While aspects of the present disclosure have been particularly shown and described with reference to the embodiments above, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various additional embodiments may be contemplated by the modification of the disclosed machines, assemblies, systems, and methods without departing from the spirit and scope of what is disclosed. Such embodiments should be understood to fall within the scope of the present disclosure as determined based upon the claims and any equivalents thereof.