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Title:
WHEEL OF TRACK SYSTEM FOR TRACTION OF A VEHICLE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/198882
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A wheel of a track system for traction of a vehicle (e.g., an agricultural vehicle) may be configured to protect against (e.g., prevent) accumulation of unwanted ground matter, such as mud, debris, water, etc., within the wheel, while enhancing visual appearance of the wheel. This may help to avoid or minimize mud buildup that may otherwise need to be drilled out before removing the wheel (e.g., for replacement or maintenance) and/or rust that may otherwise arise.

Inventors:
LAPERLE GHISLAIN (CA)
BERGERON MATTHIEU (CA)
THOMPSON BRANDON (US)
Application Number:
PCT/CA2020/050451
Publication Date:
October 08, 2020
Filing Date:
April 03, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CAMSO INC (CA)
International Classes:
B62D55/088
Foreign References:
US9656705B22017-05-23
US6299264B12001-10-09
FR2724902A11996-03-29
CA2895432A12014-12-11
US6371578B12002-04-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SMART & BIGGAR LLP et al. (CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A wheel for a track system of a vehicle, the track system comprising a track- engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track- engaging assembly, the wheel comprising:

- a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially-extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the body of the wheel defining an internal void; and

- a shield removably attached to the body of the wheel and configured to protect against mud buildup in the internal void of the body of the wheel.

2. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein: the hub portion of the body of the wheel comprises openings to receive fasteners for fastening the hub portion of the body of the wheel to a hub; and the shield is configured to protect against mud buildup over the fasteners.

3. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the shield is detachably attached to the body of the wheel.

4. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the shield is removably attached to the body of the wheel by being removably clipped to the body of the wheel.

5. The wheel of claim 4, wherein the shield is removably clipped to the body of the wheel by snap fit.

6. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the shield is removably attached to the body of the wheel by being removably fastened to the body of the wheel via a fastener.

7. The wheel of claim 6, wherein the fastener is a threaded fastener.

8. The wheel of claim 6, wherein: the fastener is a first fastener; and the shield is removably attached to the body of the wheel by being removably fastened to the body of the wheel via a second fastener.

9. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the shield is removably attached to the body of the wheel by snap fit.

10. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the shield is removably attached to the body of the wheel fastenerlessly.

1 1. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein at least part of the body of the wheel is stamped.

12. The wheel of claim 11 , wherein the rim portion of the body of the wheel is stamped.

13. The wheel of claim 1 1 , wherein the hub portion and the radially-extending portion of the body of the wheel are stamped.

14. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein: the rim portion of the wheel is a first one-piece component; and the hub portion and the radially-extending portion of the body of the wheel constitute a second one-piece component secured to the first one-piece component.

15. The wheel of claim 14, wherein the second one-piece component is welded to the first one-piece component.

16. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the rim portion of the wheel comprises a circumferential surface and a shoulder turning radially inwardly to form a flange such that an edge of the flange of the rim portion of the wheel is located radially inward of the circumferential surface of the rim portion of the wheel.

17. The wheel of claim 16, wherein the shoulder of the rim portion of the wheel turns radially inwardly by curving radially inwardly.

18. The wheel of claim 16, wherein: the shoulder of the rim portion of the wheel is a first shoulder; the flange of the rim portion of the wheel is a first flange; and the rim portion of the wheel comprises a second shoulder turning radially inwardly to form a second flange such that an edge of the second flange of the rim portion of the wheel is located radially inward of the circumferential surface of the rim portion of the wheel.

19. The wheel of claim 18, wherein the first shoulder of the rim portion of the wheel and the second shoulder of the rim portion of the wheel turn radially inwardly by curving radially inwardly.

20. The wheel of claim 16, wherein the shield is disposed to engage the flange of the rim portion of the wheel.

21. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein a material of the shield is different from a material of the body of the wheel.

22. The wheel of claim 21 , wherein the material of the shield is less rigid than the material of the body of the wheel.

23. The wheel of claim 21 , wherein the material of the shield is less dense than the material of the body of the wheel.

24. The wheel of claim 21 , wherein the material of the shield is a polymeric material and the material of the body of the wheel is a metallic material.

25. The wheel of claims 24, wherein the polymeric material of the shield includes HDPE.

26. The wheel of claim 24, wherein the polymeric material of the shield is a fiber- reinforced polymeric material.

27. The wheel of claim 21 , wherein a modulus of elasticity of the material of the shield is less than a modulus of elasticity of the material of the body of the wheel.

28. The wheel of claim 21 , wherein an impact resistance of the material of the shield is less than an impact resistance of the material of the body of the wheel.

29. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the shield comprises fins.

30. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the shield comprises an outer side comprising an outer surface and a plurality of projections projecting from the outer surface.

31. The wheel of claim 30, wherein the projections of the shield include radial projections extending radially of the wheel.

32. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the shield comprises a ventilation opening.

33. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the shield comprises a plurality of ventilation openings.

34. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the wheel is a roller wheel configured to roll on a bottom run of the track.

35. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the wheel is an idler wheel configured to be disposed at a longitudinal end of the track-engaging assembly.

36. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the wheel is a drive wheel configured to drive the track around the track-engaging assembly.

37. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the body of the wheel and the shield are configured to exclusively work with one another.

38. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the body of the wheel comprises a projection that is configured to match with a recess of the shield.

39. The wheel of claim 1 , wherein the body of the wheel comprises a recess that is configured to match with a projection of the shield.

40. A track system comprising the wheel of claim 1.

41.A vehicle comprising a track system that comprises the wheel of claim 1.

42. A wheel for a track system of a vehicle, the track system comprising a track- engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track- engaging assembly, the wheel comprising:

- a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially-extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the hub portion of the body of the wheel comprising openings to receive fasteners for fastening the hub portion of the body of the wheel to a hub; and

- a shield removably attached to the body of the wheel and configured to protect against mud buildup over the fasteners.

43. A method of protecting a wheel of a track system of a vehicle against mud buildup, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track-engaging assembly, the wheel comprising a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially- extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the body of the wheel defining an internal void, the method comprising:

- providing a shield; and

- removably attaching the shield to the body of the wheel to protect against mud buildup in the internal void of the body of the wheel.

44. A method of protecting a wheel of a track system of a vehicle against mud buildup, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track-engaging assembly, the wheel comprising a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially- extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the hub portion of the body of the wheel comprising openings to receive fasteners for fastening the hub portion of the body of the wheel to a hub, the method comprising:

- providing a shield; and

- removably attaching the shield to the body of the wheel to protect against mud buildup over the fasteners.

45. A method of servicing a wheel for a track system of a vehicle, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track-engaging assembly, the wheel comprising a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially-extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the body of the wheel defining an internal void, the wheel comprising a shield removably attached to the body of the wheel and configured to protect against mud buildup in the internal void of the body of the wheel, the method comprising:

- removing the shield; and

- accessing the internal void of the body of the wheel.

46. A method of servicing a wheel for a track system of a vehicle, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track-engaging assembly, the wheel comprising a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially-extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the hub portion of the body of the wheel comprising openings to receive fasteners for fastening the hub portion of the body of the wheel to a hub, the wheel comprising a shield removably attached to the body of the wheel and configured to protect against mud buildup over the fasteners, the method comprising:

- removing the shield; and

- unfastening the fasteners from the hub portion of the body of the wheel.

Description:
WHEEL OF TRACK SYSTEM FOR TRACTION OF A VEHICLE

FIELD

This disclosure relates generally to off-road vehicles (e.g., agricultural vehicles or other industrial vehicles, etc.) and, more particularly, to track systems for traction of such vehicles.

BACKGROUND

Off-road vehicles, including industrial vehicles such as agricultural vehicles (e.g., tractors, harvesters, combines, etc.), construction vehicles (e.g., loaders, excavators, bulldozers, etc.), and forestry vehicles (e.g., feller-bunchers, tree chippers, knuckleboom loaders, etc.), military vehicles (e.g., combat engineering vehicles (CEVs), etc.), snowmobiles, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), may include track systems to enhance their traction and floatation on soft, slippery and/or irregular grounds (e.g., soil, mud, sand, ice, snow, etc.).

A vehicle’s track system comprises a track movable around wheels that drive and guide the track and support loading. The wheels may sometimes present issues. For example, mud, debris, water, and/or other undesirable ground matter may accumulate within the wheels and cause problems, such as mud buildup that may make it difficult to remove, replace, or perform maintenance on the wheels, rusting due to trapped water, added weight, imbalances, etc.

For these and other reasons, there is a need to improve wheels of track systems for traction of vehicles. SUMMARY

In accordance with various aspects of this disclosure, a wheel of a track system for traction of a vehicle may be configured to protect against (e.g., prevent) accumulation of unwanted ground matter, such as mud, debris, water, etc., within the wheel, while enhancing visual appearance of the wheel. This may help to avoid or minimize mud buildup that may otherwise need to be drilled out before removing the wheel (e.g., for replacement or maintenance) and/or rust that may otherwise arise.

For example, in accordance with an aspect, this disclosure relates to a wheel for a track system of a vehicle, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track-engaging assembly. The wheel comprises: a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially-extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the body of the wheel defining an internal void; and a shield removably attached to the body of the wheel and configured to protect against mud buildup in the internal void of the body of the wheel.

In accordance with another aspect, this disclosure relates to a wheel for a track system of a vehicle, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track-engaging assembly. The wheel comprises: a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially- extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the hub portion of the body of the wheel comprising openings to receive fasteners for fastening the hub portion of the body of the wheel to a hub; and a shield removably attached to the body of the wheel and configured to protect against mud buildup over the fasteners. In accordance with another aspect, this disclosure relates to a method of protecting a wheel of a track system of a vehicle against mud buildup, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track-engaging assembly, the wheel comprising a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially-extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the body of the wheel defining an internal void. The method comprises: providing a shield; and removably attaching the shield to the body of the wheel to protect against mud buildup in the internal void of the body of the wheel.

In accordance with another aspect, this disclosure relates to a method of protecting a wheel of a track system of a vehicle against mud buildup, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track-engaging assembly, the wheel comprising a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially-extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the hub portion of the body of the wheel comprising openings to receive fasteners for fastening the hub portion of the body of the wheel to a hub. The method comprises: providing a shield; and removably attaching the shield to the body of the wheel to protect against mud buildup over the fasteners.

In accordance with another aspect, this disclosure relates to a method of servicing a wheel for a track system of a vehicle, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track- engaging assembly, the wheel comprising a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially-extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the body of the wheel defining an internal void, the wheel comprising a shield removably attached to the body of the wheel and configured to protect against mud buildup in the internal void of the body of the wheel. The method comprises: removing the shield; and accessing the internal void of the body of the wheel.

In accordance with another aspect, this disclosure relates to a method of servicing a wheel for a track system of a vehicle, the track system comprising a track-engaging assembly that includes the wheel and a track movable around the track-engaging assembly, the track being elastomeric to flex around the track- engaging assembly, the wheel comprising a body comprising a rim portion, a hub portion, and a radially-extending portion between the rim portion and the hub portion, the hub portion of the body of the wheel comprising openings to receive fasteners for fastening the hub portion of the body of the wheel to a hub, the wheel comprising a shield removably attached to the body of the wheel and configured to protect against mud buildup over the fasteners. The method comprises: removing the shield; and unfastening the fasteners from the hub portion of the body of the wheel.

These and other aspects of this disclosure will now become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon review of a description of embodiments in conjunction with accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A detailed description of embodiments is provided below, by way of example only, with reference to accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 shows an example of an agricultural vehicle comprising a track system in accordance with an embodiment of the disclosure;

Figure 2 shows a side view of the track system; Figures 3 and 4 show a plan view and a side view of a track of the track system;

Figure 5 shows an inside view of the track;

Figure 6 shows a cross-sectional view of the track;

Figure 7 shows a drive wheel of a track-engaging assembly of the track system;

Figure 8 shows mid-rollers of the track-engaging assembly engaging an inner side the track;

Figures 9 and 10 show perspective views of an idler wheel, and more particularly of a mid-roller, of the track-engaging assembly;

Figures 1 1 to 13 show a front view, a side view and a cross-sectional view of the mid-roller;

Figure 14 shows a shield of the mid-roller;

Figures 15 to 17 show a perspective view, a front view and a cross-sectional view of the mid-roller without the shield;

Figures 18 to 20 show perspective views and a cross-sectional view of the mid roller without the shield and without an axle of the mid-roller;

Figure 21 A and 21 B show variants of the mid-roller;

Figures 22 and 23 show variants of the shield;

Figure 24 and 25 show variants of the mid-roller; Figure 26 shows a partial cross-sectional side view of a lower portion of the track system, including a bogie for mounting the mid-rollers;

Figure 27 shows a top view of the lower portion of the track system with two idler wheels being omitted to show a hub of the idler wheels;

Figure 28 shows a variant of the mid-roller;

Figure 29 shows a variant of the track system;

Figures 30A and 30B show a variant of the track system;

Figure 31 shows an example of an agricultural vehicle comprising two track systems; and

Figure 32 shows an example of a trailed vehicle configured to be attached to the agricultural vehicle of Figures 1 or 31.

It is to be expressly understood that the description and drawings are only for purposes of illustrating certain embodiments and are an aid for understanding. They are not intended to and should not be limiting.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

Figure 1 shows an example of an embodiment of a vehicle 10 comprising track systems I 61-I 64. In this embodiment, the vehicle 10 is a heavy-duty work vehicle for performing agricultural, construction or other industrial work, or military work. More particularly, in this embodiment, the vehicle 10 is an agricultural vehicle for performing agricultural work. Specifically, in this example, the agricultural vehicle 10 is a tractor. In other examples, the agricultural vehicle 10 may be a harvester, a planter, or any other type of agricultural vehicle. In this embodiment, the vehicle 10 comprises a frame 1 1 , a powertrain 15, a steering mechanism 13, the track systems I 61-I 64 and an operator cabin 20 that enable a user to move the vehicle 10 on the ground, including on an agricultural field and possibly on a paved road (e.g., between agricultural fields), and perform work using a work implement 18.

As further discussed later, in this embodiment, wheels of the track systems 161- 1 64 may be designed to protect against (e.g., prevent) accumulation of unwanted ground matter, such as mud, debris, water, etc., within them, while enhancing their visual appearance. This may help to avoid or minimize mud buildup that may otherwise need to be drilled out before removing them (e.g., for replacement or maintenance) and/or rust that may otherwise arise.

The powertrain 15 is configured to generate power for the agricultural vehicle 10, including motive power for the track systems I 61 -I 64 to propel the vehicle 10 on the ground. To that end, the powertrain 15 comprises a power source 14 (e.g., a primer mover) that includes one or more motors. For example, in this embodiment, the power source 14 comprises an internal combustion engine. In other embodiments, the power source 14 may comprise another type of motor (e.g., an electric motor) or a combination of different types of motor (e.g., an internal combustion engine and an electric motor). The powertrain 15 can transmit power from the power source 14 to one or more of the track systems 161 - 1 64 in any suitable way (e.g., via a transmission, a differential, a direct connection, and/or any other suitable mechanism). In some embodiments, at least part of the powertrain 15 (e.g., a motor and/or a transmission) may be part of one or more of the track systems 161 -1 64.

The operator cabin 20 is where the user sits and controls the vehicle 10. More particularly, the operator cabin 20 comprises a user interface 70 allowing the user to steer the vehicle 10 on the ground, operate the work implement 18, and control other aspects of the vehicle 10. In this embodiment, the user interface 70 comprises input devices, such as an accelerator, a brake control, and a steering device (e.g., a steering wheel, a stick, etc.) that are operated by the user to control motion of the vehicle 10 on the ground. The user interface 70 also comprises output devices such as an instrument panel (e.g., a dashboard) which provides indicators (e.g., a speedometer indicator, a tachometer indicator, etc.) to convey information to the user.

The work implement 18 is used to perform agricultural work. For example, in some embodiments, the work implement 18 may include a combine head, a cutter, a scraper pan, a tool bar, a planter, or any other type of agricultural work implement.

The track systems I 61-I 64 engage the ground to provide traction to the vehicle 10. More particularly, in this embodiment, front ones of the track systems I 61-I 64 provide front traction to the vehicle 1 0, while rear ones of the track systems 1 61- 1 64 provide rear traction to the vehicle 10.

In this embodiment, each of the front ones of the track systems I 61 -I 64 is pivotable relative to the frame 11 of the vehicle 10 about a steering axis 19 by the steering mechanism 13 (e.g., in response to input of the user at the steering device of the user interface 70) to change the orientation of that track system relative to the frame 1 1 in order to steer the vehicle 10 on the ground. The orientation of each of the front ones of the track systems I 61 -I 64 relative to a longitudinal axis 33 of the vehicle 10, which defines a steering angle Q of that track system, is thus changeable. In this example, the steering mechanism 13 includes a steering unit (e.g., comprising a steering knuckle) on each side of the vehicle 10 dedicated to each of the front ones of the track systems I 61 Ί 64 and defining the steering axis 19 for that track system. Each of the front ones of the track systems I 61 -I 64 is therefore steerable. With additional reference to Figure 2, in this embodiment, each track system 16i comprises a track 41 and a track-engaging assembly 17 that is configured to drive and guide the track 41 around the track-engaging assembly 17. In this example, the track-engaging assembly 17 comprises a frame 44 and a plurality of track-engaging wheels which includes a drive wheel 42 and a plurality of track contacting wheels 50i-50s, which includes leading idler wheels 50i, 502, trailing idler wheels 507, 50s, and roller wheels 503-506 between the leading idler wheels 50i, 502 and the trailing idler wheels 507, 50s. The wheels 50i-50s are rotatable about axis of rotations 53i-53s. The track system 16i has a front longitudinal end 57 and a rear longitudinal end 59 that define a length of the track system 16i. A width of the track system 16i is defined by a width WT of the track 41. The track system 16i has a longitudinal direction, a widthwise direction, and a heightwise direction.

The track 41 engages the ground to provide traction to the vehicle 10. A length of the track 41 allows the track 41 to be mounted around the track-engaging assembly 17. In view of its closed configuration without ends that allows it to be disposed and moved around the track-engaging assembly 17, the track 41 can be referred to as an“endless” track. Referring additionally to Figures 3 to 6, the track 41 comprises an inner side 45 facing the wheels 42, 50i-50s and defining an inner area of the track 41 in which these wheels are located. The track 41 also comprises a ground-engaging outer side 47 opposite the inner side 45 for engaging the ground on which the vehicle 10 travels. Lateral edges 63i, 632 of the track 41 define its width WT. The track 41 has a top run 65 which extends between the longitudinal ends 57, 59 of the track system 16i and over the track- engaging assembly 17, and a bottom run 66 which extends between the longitudinal ends 57, 59 of the track system 16i and under the track-engaging assembly 17. The track 41 has a longitudinal direction, a widthwise direction, and a thicknesswise direction. The track 41 is elastomeric, i.e., comprises elastomeric material, allowing it to flex around the wheels 42, 50i-50s. The elastomeric material of the track 41 can include any polymeric material with suitable elasticity. In this embodiment, the elastomeric material includes rubber. Various rubber compounds may be used and, in some cases, different rubber compounds may be present in different areas of the track 41. In other embodiments, the elastomeric material of the track 41 may include another elastomer in addition to or instead of rubber (e.g., polyurethane elastomer). The track 41 can be molded into shape in a mold by a molding process during which its elastomeric material is cured.

More particularly, the track 41 comprises an elastomeric belt-shaped body 36 underlying its inner side 45 and its ground-engaging outer side 47. In view of its underlying nature, the body 36 can be referred to as a“carcass”. The carcass 36 comprises elastomeric material 37 which allows the track 41 to flex around the wheels 42, 50i-50s.

In this embodiment, the carcass 36 comprises a plurality of reinforcements embedded in its elastomeric material 37. One example of a reinforcement is a layer of reinforcing cables 38i-38c that are adjacent to one another and that extend in the longitudinal direction of the track 41 to enhance strength in tension of the track 41 along its longitudinal direction. In some cases, a reinforcing cable may be a cord or wire rope including a plurality of strands or wires. In other cases, a reinforcing cable may be another type of cable and may be made of any material suitably flexible longitudinally (e.g., fibers or wires of metal, plastic or composite material). Another example of a reinforcement is a layer of reinforcing fabric 40. Reinforcing fabric comprises pliable material made usually by weaving, felting, or knitting natural or synthetic fibers. For instance, a layer of reinforcing fabric may comprise a ply of reinforcing woven fibers (e.g., nylon fibers or other synthetic fibers). Various other types of reinforcements may be provided in the carcass 36 in other embodiments. The carcass 36 may be molded into shape in the track’s molding process during which its elastomeric material 37 is cured. For example, in this embodiment, layers of elastomeric material providing the elastomeric material 37 of the carcass 36, the reinforcing cables 38i-38c and the layer of reinforcing fabric 40 may be placed into the mold and consolidated during molding.

In this embodiment, the inner side 45 of the track 41 comprises an inner surface 32 of the carcass 36 and a plurality of wheel-contacting projections 48I-48N that project from the inner surface 32 to contact at least some of the wheels 42, 50i- 508 and that are used to do at least one of driving (i.e., imparting motion to) the track 41 and guiding the track 41 . In that sense, the wheel-contacting projections 48I-48N can be referred to as “drive/guide projections”, meaning that each drive/guide projection is used to do at least one of driving the track 41 and guiding the track 41. Also, such drive/guide projections are sometimes referred to as “drive/guide lugs” and will thus be referred to as such herein. More particularly, in this embodiment, the drive/guide lugs 48I-48N interact with the drive wheel 42 in order to cause the track 41 to be driven, and also interact with the idler wheels 50i-50s in order to guide the track 41 as it is driven by the drive wheel 42. The drive/guide lugs 48I-48N are thus used to both drive the track 41 and guide the track 41 in this embodiment.

The drive/guide lugs 48I -48N are spaced apart along the longitudinal direction of the track 41 . In this case, the drive/guide lugs 48I -48N are arranged in a plurality of rows that are spaced apart along the widthwise direction of the track 41. The drive/guide lugs 48I-48N may be arranged in other manners in other embodiments (e.g., a single row or more than two rows). Each of the drive/guide lugs 48I -48N is an elastomeric drive/guide lug in that it comprises elastomeric material 68. The drive/guide lugs 48I-48N can be provided and connected to the carcass 36 in the mold during the track’s molding process. The ground-engaging outer side 47 of the track 41 comprises a ground-engaging outer surface 31 of the carcass 36 and a plurality of traction projections 61 1-61 M that project from the outer surface 31 and engage and may penetrate into the ground to enhance traction. The traction projections 61 I-61 M, which can sometimes be referred to as“traction lugs”, are spaced apart in the longitudinal direction of the track system 16i. The ground-engaging outer side 47 comprises a plurality of traction-projection-free areas 71 1 -71 F (i.e., areas free of traction projections) between successive ones of the traction projections 61 1-61 M. In this example, each of the traction projections 61 1-61 M is an elastomeric traction projection in that it comprises elastomeric material 69. The traction projections 61 1-61 M can be provided and connected to the carcass 36 in the mold during the track’s molding process.

The track 41 may be constructed in various other ways in other embodiments. For example, in some embodiments, the track 41 may comprise a plurality of parts (e.g., rubber sections) interconnected to one another in a closed configuration, the track 41 may have recesses or holes that interact with the drive wheel 42 in order to cause the track 41 to be driven (e.g., in which case the drive/guide lugs 48I-48N may be used only to guide the track 41 without being used to drive the track 41 ), and/or the ground-engaging outer side 47 of the track 41 may comprise various patterns of traction projections.

The drive wheel 42 is rotatable about an axis of rotation 49 for driving the track 41 in response to rotation of an axle of the vehicle 10. In this example, the axis of rotation 49 corresponds to the axle of the vehicle 10. More particularly, in this example, the drive wheel 42 has a hub which is mounted to the axle of the vehicle 10 such that power generated by the power source 14 and delivered over the powertrain 15 of the vehicle 10 rotates the axle, which rotates the drive wheel 42, which imparts motion of the track 41 . In this embodiment, as shown in Figure 7, the drive wheel 42 comprises a drive sprocket engaging the drive/guide lugs 48I-48N of the inner side 45 of the track 41 in order to drive the track 41 . In this case, the drive sprocket 42 comprises a plurality of drive members 46I -46T (e.g., bars, teeth, etc.) distributed circumferentially of the drive sprocket 42 to define a plurality of lug-receiving spaces therebetween that receive the drive/guide lugs 48I -48N of the track 41 . The drive wheel 42 may be configured in various other ways in other embodiments. For example, in embodiments where the track 41 comprises recesses or holes, the drive wheel 42 may have teeth that enter these recesses or holes in order to drive the track 41 . As yet another example, in some embodiments, the drive wheel 42 may frictionally engage the inner side 45 of the track 41 in order to frictionally drive the track 41 .

The track-contacting wheels 50i-50s are not driven by power supplied by the powertrain 15, but are rather used to contact the bottom run of the track 66 of the track 41 and do at least one of supporting part of a weight of the vehicle 10 on the ground via the track 41 , guiding the track 41 as it is driven by the drive wheel 42, and tensioning the track 41 . More particularly, in this embodiment, the leading and trailing idler wheels 50i, 502, 507, 50s maintain the track 41 in tension, and can help to support part of the weight of the vehicle 10 on the ground via the track 41. The roller wheels 503-506 roll on the inner side 45 of the track 41 along the bottom run 66 of the track 41 to apply the bottom run 66 on the ground. As they are located between the leading and trailing idler wheels 50i , 502, 507, 508, the roller wheels 503-506 may be referred to as“mid-rollers”. The track-contacting wheels 50i-50s may be arranged in other configurations and/or the track system 16i may comprise more or less of them in other embodiments.

The frame 44 of the track system 16i supports components of the track system 16i, including the track-contacting wheels 50i-50s. More particularly, in this embodiment, the front idler wheels 50i, 502 are mounted to the frame 44 in a front longitudinal end region of the frame 44 proximate the front longitudinal end 57 of the track system 16i, while the rear idler wheels 507, 50s are mounted to the frame 44 in a rear longitudinal end region of the frame 44 proximate the rear longitudinal end 59 of the track system 16i. The mid-rollers 503-506 are mounted to the frame 44 in a central region of the frame 44 between the front idler wheels 50i, 502 and the rear idler wheels 507, 50s. Each of the mid-rollers 503-506 may be rotatably mounted directly to the frame 44 or may be rotatably mounted to a link which is pivotally mounted to the frame 44 to which is rotatably mounted an adjacent one of the mid-rollers 503-506 (e.g., forming a“tandem”).

The frame 44 of the track system 16i is supported at a support area 39. More specifically, in this embodiment, the frame 44 is supported by the axle of the vehicle 10 to which is coupled the drive wheel 42, such that the support area 39 is intersected by the axis of rotation 49 of the drive wheel 42.

In addition, in this embodiment, as shown in Figures 26 and 27, the track system 16i comprises a wheel-mounting subassembly 85 which may be referred to as a “bogie”. The bogie 85 is configured to carry the mid-rollers 503-506 and is mounted to the frame 1 1 of the track system 16i. More specifically, the bogie 85 comprises a link 89 to which are mounted the mid-rollers 503-506. The bogie 85 is pivotable relative to the frame 1 1 of the track system 16i about a pivot 87 defining an axis of rotation 88 that is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 61 of the track system 16i. The bogie 85 thus imparts the mid-rollers 503-506 with a pivoting motion capability which may be referred to as a“pitch” motion. The mid-rollers 503-506 may not be mounted to a bogie in other embodiments. For example, the mid-rollers 503-506 may be mounted directly to the frame 1 1 of the track system 16i in other embodiments.

Moreover, as shown in Figure 26, the track system 16i may comprise a tensioning mechanism 95 for tensioning the track 41 . For instance, in this embodiment, the tensioning mechanism 95 comprises an actuator mounted at one end to the frame 1 1 of the track system 16i and at another end to a hub of the front idler wheels 50i, 502. This allows the tensioning mechanism 95 to modify a distance between the front idler wheels 50i, 502 and the rear idler wheels 507, 50s in the longitudinal direction of the track system 16i.

In this embodiment, respective ones of the track-contacting wheels 50i-50s, notably the mid-rollers 503-506, are configured to protect against (e.g., prevent) accumulation of unwanted ground matter, such as mud, debris, water, etc., within them, while enhancing their visual appearance. This may help to avoid or minimize mud buildup that may otherwise need to be drilled out before removing them (e.g., for replacement or maintenance) and/or rust that may otherwise arise.

With additional reference to Figures 8 to 20, each mid-roller 50i comprises a circumferential portion 56, a hub portion 55, and a radially-extending portion 54 between the circumferential portion 56 and the hub portion 55. The hub portion 55 is an inner portion of the mid-roller 50i which is associated with a hub 19 receiving an axle 58 for the mid-roller 50i by fitting or press-fitting the axle 58 into bearings 76i , 762, the bearings 76i , 762 being fit or press-fit into an internal cavity of the hub 19, or by any suitable means. The circumferential portion 56 is an outer portion of the mid-roller 50i which rolls on the inner side 45 of the track 41 . The radially-extending portion 34 is an intermediate portion of the mid-roller 50i which extends radially between the hub portion 55 and the circumferential portion 56.

The mid-roller 50i comprises lateral sides 30i , 302 opposite one another and a circumferential surface 32 between the lateral sides 30i, 302 that rolls on the inner side 45 of the track 41. More particularly, in this embodiment, the inner side 45 of the track 41 comprises a rolling path 33 on which the mid-roller 50i rolls. The rolling path 33 is delimited by some of the drive/guide lugs 48I -48N such that, as the mid-roller 50i rolls, these drive/guide lugs pass next to the mid-roller 50i. The mid-roller 50i may contact a drive/guide lug 48i of the track 41 adjacent to it during motion of the track 41. More particularly, in this embodiment, the lateral side 302 of the mid-roller 50i, which faces the drive/guide lug 48i, comprises a projection-contacting part 35 that can contact the drive/guide lug 48i when the mid-roller 50i contacts the drive/guide lug 48i as the drive/guide lug 48i passes next to the mid-roller 50i. The projection-contacting part 35, which will be referred to as a“lug-contacting part”, has a shape that depends on respective shapes of the mid-roller 50i and the drive/guide lug 48i, but generally has a radial dimension C in a direction parallel to a radius R of the mid-roller 50i no greater than a height H of the drive/guide lug 48i.

More particularly, in this embodiment, the mid-roller 50i comprises: a body 60; a covering 62 on the body 60 to improve performance of the mid-roller 50i, such as by improving contact between the mid-roller 50i and the inner side 45 of the track 41 , enhancing an abrasion resistance of the mid-roller 50i, and/or by absorbing vibrations; and a shield 67 attached to the body 60 and configured to protect against (e.g., prevent) accumulation of unwanted ground matter, such as mud, debris, water, etc., within the mid-roller 50i, while enhancing its visual appearance.

The body 60 of the mid-roller 50i is a core of the mid-roller 50i that imparts structural integrity to the mid-roller 50i. The body 60 of the mid-roller 50i has lateral sides 17i, 172 opposite one another and a circumferential surface 72 between the lateral sides 17i, 172. In this case, the lateral sides 17i, 172 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i constitute parts of the lateral sides 30i, 302 of the mid-roller 50i, while the circumferential surface 72 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i is covered by the covering 62. The body 60 of the mid-roller 50i comprises a rim portion 64, a hub portion 63, and a radially-extending portion 65 between the rim portion 64 and the hub portion 63. The hub portion 63 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i constitutes the hub portion 55 of the mid-roller 50i. The hub portion 63 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i is thus associated with the hub 19. In this case, the hub 19 is removably mounted to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. More particularly, in this case, the hub portion 63 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i comprises a plurality of openings 77i-77o to receive a plurality of fasteners 79i-79o that interconnect the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i to the hub 19. The hub portion 63 may be configured in various other ways in other embodiments (e.g., the hub 19 may be integrally formed (e.g., cast) with or permanently affixed (e.g., welded) to the hub portion 63 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i).

The rim portion 64 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i is part of the rim portion 56 of the mid-roller 50i. The rim portion 64 comprises the circumferential surface 72 and outer parts of the lateral sides 17i, 172 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. In this embodiment, the rim portion 64 comprises shoulders 15i, 152 turning radially inwardly to form flanges 73i, 732 such that edges 75i, 752 of the rim portion 64 are located radially inward of the circumferential surface 72 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. More particularly, in this example, the shoulders 15i, 152 turn radially inwardly by curving radially inwardly (e.g., such that the flanges 73i, 732 are“curls”). In other examples, the shoulders 15i, 152 may turn radially inwardly by being slanted or otherwise angled radially inwardly and/or may be partially curved radially inwardly and partially slanted or otherwise angled radially inwardly (i.e., may comprise one or more curved segments and one or more angled segments). The rim portion 64 may be configured in various other ways in other embodiments (e.g., the rim portion 64 may not comprise any shoulder such as the shoulders 15i, 152).

The radially-extending portion 65 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i constitutes the radially-extending portion 34 of the mid-roller 50i. The radially-extending portion 65 interconnects the hub portion 63 and the rim portion 64. In this embodiment, the radially-extending portion 65 and the hub portion 63 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i constitute a one-piece component that is secured (e.g., welded) to the rim portion 64 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i, which is another one-piece component. The one-piece component constituted by the radially- extending portion 65 and the hub portion 63 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may sometimes be referred to as a“disk”. The radially-extending portion 65 may be configured in various other ways in other embodiments.

In this embodiment, the hub portion 63, the rim portion 64, and the radially- extending portion 65 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i define an internal void 37 of the mid-roller 50i delimited by internal surfaces 39I -393 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. The internal void 37 could cause unwanted ground matter, such as mud, debris, water, etc., to accumulate within the mid-roller 50i, particularly as the shoulders 15i, 152 could cause a tendency for such unwanted ground matter to be retained within the mid-roller 50i, but this is prevented or minimized by the shield 67 in this embodiment, as discussed later.

The body 60 of the mid-roller 50i is made of one or more materials. In some cases, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may comprise a single material making up an entirety of the body 60. In other cases, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may comprise two or more different materials that make up different parts of the body 60.

In this embodiment, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i is metallic, i.e., is at least mainly (i.e., mainly or entirely) made of a metallic material. The metallic material is selected to provide strength and rigidity to the mid-roller 50i. For example, in this case, the metallic material comprises steel. In other cases, the metallic material may comprise another metal instead of steel. In other embodiments, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may be at least mainly made of another type of material (e.g., composite material, polymeric material, or ceramic material). Also, in other embodiments, different parts of the body 60 may be made of two or more materials (e.g., two types of steel). Also, in this embodiment, at least part of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i is stamped into shape. That is, at least part of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i is formed by a stamping process. Notably, the rim portion 64, the hub portion 63 and the radially-extending portion 65 of the body 60 of the wheel 50i may be stamped.

In this embodiment, the rim portion 64 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i constitutes a first stamped component 811, while the hub portion 63 and the radially-extending portion 65 of the body 60 of the wheel constitute a second one-piece component 812 secured to the first one-piece component 811 by any suitable means. For instance, the first stamped component 811 and the second stamped component 812 may be welded to one another (e.g., the second stamped component 812 may be welded to the first stamped component 811 or vice-versa).

The first stamped component 811 may be manufactured by tube cutting and by then blasting the cut portion constituting the first stamped component 811. That is, a portion of a tube is cut and then blasted, for instance by sand or by any other suitable material, in order to have a surface finish that will increase durability of the component.

The second stamped component 812 may be punched, stamped, machined and blasted for finish. That is, a sheet of material may be punched to create a hole corresponding to the dimensions of the hub portion 63. The sheet of material may then be stamped to impart a shape to the sheet of material, the shape corresponding to the shape of the second stamped component 812. The edges of the stamped sheet of material may be machined to provide more precise dimensions to the second stamped component 812 and the stamped, machined sheet may be blasted, for instance by sand or by any other suitable material, in order to have a surface finish that will increase durability of the component. The stamped components 811, 812 may be assembled by press fitting the second stamped component 812 into the first stamped component 811 ; by welding the stamped components 811, 812 to one another; by punching the openings 77i-77o of the hub portion 63; by curling the flanges 73i, 732; by marking the assembly; and by blasting the assembly, for instance by sand or by any other suitable material, in order to have a surface finish that will increase durability of the component. Although in this embodiment the above-described steps are performed in the recited order to manufacture the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i, in other embodiments, the above-described steps may be performed in a different order and additional steps may also be performed to manufacture the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i.

The body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may be manufactured in any other suitable way in other embodiments.

The covering 62 contacts the inner side 45 of the track 41 as the mid-roller 50i rolls on the inner side 45 of the track 22. In this embodiment, the covering 62 forms at least part of the circumferential surface 32 of the mid-roller 50i. The covering 62 may also form at least part of one of the lateral sides 30i, 302 of the mid-roller 50i which faces a drive/guide lug 48i in other embodiments.

The covering 62 covers at least part of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. In this embodiment, the covering 62 covers part of the rim portion 64 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. More particularly, in this embodiment, the covering 62 covers the circumferential surface 72 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i.

The covering 62 is made of one or more materials. In some cases, the covering 62 may comprise a single material making up an entirety of the covering 62. In other cases, the covering 62 may comprise two or more different covering materials that make up different parts of the covering 62. A material of the covering 62 is different from a material of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. That is, the material of the covering 62 and the material of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may belong to different classes of materials (i.e., metals, polymers, ceramics and composites) and/or may substantially differ in terms of one or more properties, such as strength, elasticity, hardness, friction coefficient, etc. For instance, in some cases: a strength (e.g., yield strength) of the wheel body material may be different from (e.g., greater than) a strength of the covering material; a modulus of elasticity of the covering material may be different from (e.g., less than) a modulus of elasticity of the wheel body material; an abrasion resistance of the covering material may be different from (e.g., greater than) an abrasion resistance of the wheel body material; a coefficient of friction of the covering material with the track 22 may be different from (e.g., less than) a coefficient of friction of the wheel body material with the track 22; etc.

A material of the covering 62 can be selected to provide desired properties to the covering 62. For example, the covering 62 may be less hard (i.e., have a lower hardness) and/or be more elastic (i.e., have a lower modulus of elasticity) than the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. As another example, in order to reduce friction and heat generation, the covering 62 have a low coefficient of friction with the track 41 and a high thermal conductivity. The coefficient of friction of the covering 62 with the track 41 may thus be lower than the coefficient of friction of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i with the track 41. Taking into account convective heat transfer associated with the shape of the covering 62, the thermal conductivity of the covering material may provide the covering 62 with a high thermal transmittance.

In this embodiment, the covering 62 is polymeric, i.e., at least mainly (i.e., mainly or entirely) made of a polymeric material. The polymeric material may be selected, for instance, to create a low-friction interface between the mid-roller 50i and the inner side 45 of the track 41 , to enhance an abrasion resistance of the mid-roller 50i, and/or to enhance a vibration absorption capacity of the mid-roller 50i. In some examples of implementation, the polymeric material may be elastomeric material such that the covering 62 is an elastomeric covering. In other examples of implementation, the polymeric material may be nonelastomeric material such that the covering 62 is a nonelastomeric covering. For example, in this case, the polymeric material comprises polyurethane (e.g., polyurethane elastomer). In other cases, the polymeric material may comprise another polymer instead of polyurethane (e.g., polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) (Teflon™), ultra- high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UFIMW), thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), etc.). In other embodiments, the covering 62 may be at least mainly made of another type of material (e.g., metallic material, ceramic material or composite material). Also, in other embodiments, different parts of the covering 62 may be made of two or more covering materials (e.g., two types of polymers).

A thickness Tc of the covering 62 can have any desired value. For example, in some embodiments, a ratio of the thickness Tc of the covering 62 to the radius R of the mid-roller 50i may be no more than 0.12, in some cases no more than 0.10, in some cases no more than 0.08, in some cases no more than 0.06, in some cases no more than 0.04, in some cases no more than 0.02, and in some cases even less (e.g., 0.006). For instance, in some embodiments, the thickness Tc of the covering 62 may be less than 12 mm, in some cases no more than 10 mm, in some cases no more than 8 mm, in some cases no more than 6 mm, and in some cases no more than 4 mm (e.g., 3 mm or less in some cases). Larger thickness values may not improve performance and may thus unnecessarily add material cost to the mid-roller 50i. This may apply to embodiments in which the covering 62 is a polyurethane covering. This may also apply in embodiments in which the covering 62 is made of another material. The thickness Tc of the covering 62 may take on various other values in other embodiments.

The covering 62 may be provided on the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i in various ways. For example, in some embodiments, the covering 62 may be a molded covering that is molded onto the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i during manufacturing of the mid-roller 50i. The covering 62 may be provided on the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i in other manners in other embodiments (e.g., adhesively bonded to the body 60, coated on the body 60, mechanically fastened to the body 60 with bolts or other fasteners, etc.).

Although it is configured in a certain way in this embodiment, the covering 62 may be configured in various other ways in other embodiments.

The shield 67 is attached to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i and configured to prevent unwanted ground matter, such as mud, debris, water, etc., from entering and accumulating in the internal void 37 of the mid-roller 50i. In other words, the shield 67 is configured to prevent this in that it interposes an obstacle dedicated to at least impeding (i.e., impeding or precluding) unwanted ground matter, such as mud, debris, water, etc., from entering and accumulating in the internal void 37 of the mid-roller 50i.

More particularly, in this example, the shield 67 is configured to block mud from accumulating in the internal void 37 of the mid-roller 50i. This may help to avoid or minimize mud buildup that may otherwise need to be drilled out before removing the mid-roller 50i (e.g., for replacement or maintenance) and/or rust that may otherwise arise. Notably, in this example, the shield 67 is configured to protect against mud buildup over the fasteners 79i-79o in the openings 77i-77o of the hub portion 63 that interconnect the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i to the hub 19. To achieve this, the shield 67 may be disposed to engage the flange 15i of the rim portion 64 of the mid-roller 50i. Also, the shield 67 may improve a look of the mid-roller 50i. For instance, the shield 67 may replicate a look (e.g., a color, a texture, a pattern, etc.) of a given one of the driving wheel 42, the leading idler wheels 50i , 502, the trailing idler wheels 507, 50s, the track system 16i and the vehicle 10. In this embodiment, the shield 67 is removably attached to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. That is, the shield 67 is designed to enable it to be removed from (i.e., moved relative to or separated from) the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. In this example, the shield 67 is detachably attached to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i, i.e., designed to enable it to be detached from the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i (e.g., to allow replacement of the shield 67 by another shield). In other examples, the shield 67 may be removably attached to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i so that it can move (e.g., lifted, pushed aside, or otherwise displaced) relative to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i while remaining connected to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i.

In this embodiment, the shield 67 is removably attached to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i fastenerlessly, i.e., without using any fastener to fasten the shield 67 to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. More specifically, the shield 67 may be removably attached to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i by being removably clipped to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. In this case, the shield 67 is removably clipped to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i by snap fit by a plurality of snap fitting portions 80i-80s. To attach the shield 67 to the mid-roller 50i, the shield 67 may be aligned (manually or mechanically) with the mid-roller 50i and pushed onto the lateral side 30i of the mid-roller 50i. To detach the shield 67 from the mid-roller 50i, the shield 67 may be pulled upon and, optionally, snap fitting portions 80i-80s may need to be actuated to disengage the shield 67 from the mid-roller 50i. In variants, the shield 67 and the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may comprise threaded portions such that the male or female threaded portion of the shield 67 matches with the male or female threaded portion of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i to attach the shield 67 to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i.

In other embodiments, the shield 67 may be removably attached to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i by being removably fastened to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i via at least one fastener. The fastener may be of any suitable kind. For instance, the fastener may be threaded fastener and there may be three or more fasteners fastening the shield 67 to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i. In some cases, as shown in Figure 21 B, the shield 67 may be removably attached to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i by being removably fastened to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i via the fasteners 79i-79t. In this example, the fasteners 79i-79t connect and affix the shield 67, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i and the hub19 of the mid-roller 50i. To attach and detach the shield 67 to and from the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i, the threaded fasteners simply need to be fastened. In variants, the fastener may comprise a clip, glue, and so on.

As shown in Figure 14, a material 92 of the shield 67 may be different from the material of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i to provide a low cost, lightness, durability, impact resistance and/or the like to the shield 67. For instance, the material 92 of the shield 67 may be less rigid and less dense and have a greater elongation at break than the material of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i.

The material 92 of the shield 67 may also have characteristics to enhance heat transfer between the mid-roller 50i and its environment during use. More specifically, the material 92 may be configured for enhancing heat dissipation.

In some embodiments, the material 92 of the shield 67 may be a polymeric material and may include High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). The material 92 of the shield 67 may comprise a composite material, notably a fiber-reinforced polymeric material comprising a polymeric matrix 120 and fibers 1 22I-122F disposed in the polymeric matrix 120.

The polymeric matrix 120 may include any suitable substance (e.g., resin). For instance, in some examples, the polymeric matrix 120 may include a thermoplastic or thermosetting resin, such as epoxy, polyethylene, polypropylene, acrylic, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), polyether ether ketone (PEEK) or other polyaryletherketone (PAEK), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), polycarbonate, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), nylon, polyimide, polysulfone, polyamide- imide, self-reinforcing polyphenylene, polyester, vinyl ester, vinyl ether, polyurethane, cyanate ester, phenolic resin, etc., a hybrid thermosetting- thermoplastic resin, or any other suitable resin. In this embodiment, the polymeric matrix 120 includes an epoxy resin.

The fibers 122i -122F may be made of any suitable material. In this embodiment, the fibers 122i-122F are carbon fibers. The material Mi is thus a carbon-fiber- reinforced plastic in this example of implementation. Any other suitable type of fibers may be used in other embodiments (e.g., polymeric fibers such as aramid fibers (e.g., Kevlar fibers), boron fibers, silicon carbide fibers, metallic fibers, glass fibers, ceramic fibers, etc.).

In some embodiments, the fibers 1 22I -1 22F may be continuous (e.g., may be provided as layers of continuous fibers (e.g. pre-preg (i.e., pre-impregnated) layers of fibers held together by an amount of matrix material, which is destined to provide a respective portion of the polymeric matrix 120). In other embodiments, the fibers 122i-122F may be chopped fibers interspersed in the polymeric matrix.

In other embodiments, the material 92 of the shield 67 may be non-polymeric, and may be for example a metallic material.

In this embodiment, the shield 67 comprises an inner side 94 and an outer side 96, the outer side 96 comprising an outer surface 102 and a plurality of projections 104i-104 P projecting from the outer surface 102. The projections 104i-104 P of the shield 67 include radial projections extending radially of the mid roller 50i. The shield 67 also comprises a plurality of ventilation openings 109i- 109v diminishing a weight of the shield 67 and increasing heat transfer between the mid-roller 50i and its environment. In other embodiments, as shown in Figures 22 and 23, the inner side 94 may comprise an inner surface 100 comprising fins 123i-123t to increase thermal conductivity of the shield 67. The fins 123i-123f may be extending radially as shown in Figure 22, may extend tangently as shown in Figure 23, or may have any shape or pattern. In some embodiments, also, adding the shield 67 to the mid-roller 50i may improve thermal conductivity of the mid-roller 50i, i.e., the mid roller 50i may dissipate more heat under operation when the shield 67 is on the mid-wheel 50i than when the mid-roller 50i is free of any shield. For instance, a ratio of the heat dissipated by the mid-roller 50i when the shield is attached to the mid-roller 50i over the heat dissipated by the mid-roller 50i when the shield is not attached to the mid-roller 50i and the vehicle 10 advances at 10 km/h may be in some embodiments at least 1.02, in some embodiments at least 1.05, in some embodiments at least 1.1 , in some embodiments even more. Also, a ratio RMR of an average temperature of the mid-roller 50i over an ambient temperature of the mid-roller 50i during operation may be less when the shield 67 is attached to the mid-roller 50i than when it is not attached to the mid-roller 50i. For instance, in some embodiments, a ratio of the ratio RMR when the shield 67 is attached to the mid-roller 50i over the ratio RMR when no shield 67 is attached to the mid-roller 50i may be no more than 0.99, in some embodiments no more than 0.95, in some embodiments no more than 0.9, in some cases even less.

In some embodiments, the outer side 102 may comprise fins in a similar fashion to increase energy dissipation during use.

The shield 67 may provide a method for protecting the mid-roller 50i of the track system 16i of the vehicle 10 from mud build-up, especially in the internal void 37, by providing the shield 67 and removably attaching the shield 67 to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i to protect against mud build-up in the body 60 of the mid roller 50i, especially in the internal void 37, and over the fasteners 79i-79t. Inversely, a method for servicing the mid-roller 50i of the track system 16i of the vehicle 10 may include the steps of: removing the shield 67 from the mid-roller 50i; accessing the internal void 37 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i; and unfastening the fasteners 79i-79o from the hub portion 63 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i.

The track system 16i, including the mid-roller 50i and its shield 67, may be implemented in various other ways in other embodiments.

For example, in some embodiments, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may be implemented in any other suitable way in other embodiments.

For instance, in some embodiments, as shown in Figure 24, the rim portion 64, the hub portion 63 and the radially-extending portion 65 of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may constitute a one-piece component 81. In this example, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may be viewed as a“single piece” body. In this example, the radially-extending portion 65 of the body 60 extends radially inwardly from the shoulder 15i of the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i and connects the hub portion 63 to the rim portion 64. As such, the radially-extending portion 65 and the hub portion 63 of the body 60 are part of the flange 73i. In this example, the angle defined by the shoulder 15i is less than 90 degrees such that the radially-extending portion 65 of the body 60 creates a recess 137 and the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i comprises a shoulder 153 such that the inner and outer surfaces of the hub portion 63 of the body 60 are substantially perpendicular to the axis 53i of the mid-roller 50i. The shield 67 thus prevent mud build-up in both recesses 37, 137, the recess 37 being in this case behind the portions 63, 65.

In this embodiment, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may be manufactured by punching, blanking, stamp shaping, machining, curling, punching, marking and/or blasting. For instance, a sheet of material may be punched and/or blanked to create a hole corresponding to the dimensions of the hub portion 63. The sheet of material may then be stamped to impart a shape to the sheet of material, the shape generally corresponding to the shape of the body 60. The edges of the stamped sheet of material may be machined to provide more precise dimensions to the body 60. The stamped, machined sheet may be then be curled to form the flanges 73I -733 and punched to form the openings 77i-77o of the hub portion 63. The sheet of material may be marked and blasted, for instance by sand or by any other suitable material, in order to have a surface finish that will increase durability of the component. Although in this embodiment the above-described steps are performed in the recited order to manufacture the body 60 of the mid roller 50i, in other embodiments, the above-described steps may be performed in a different order and additional steps may also be performed to manufacture the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i.

In some embodiments, as shown in Figure 25, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i comprises two one-piece components 811, 812 affixed to one another (e.g., by welding), each of the two components 811, 812 forming a part of the rim portion 64, the hub portion 63 and the radially-extending portion 65 of the body 60. That is, the one-piece component 811 comprises a rim portion 64i , a hub portion 63i and a radially-extending portion 65i ; the one-piece component 812 comprises a rim portion 642, a hub portion 632 and a radially-extending portion 652; the rim portions 64i , 642 are part of the rim portion 64; the hub portions 63i, 632 are part of the hub portion 63; and the radially-extending portions 65i, 652 are part of the radially-extending portion 65. In this example, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may be viewed as a“twin halves” body. In this example, the flange 73i is formed by the one-piece component 811 and the flange 732 is formed by the one-piece component 812. In this example, also, the one-piece components 811, 812 are identical components that are welded to one another, such that the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i is symmetrical relative to a plane perpendicular to the axis 53i and located between the one-piece components 811, 812. In this embodiment, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i may be manufactured in a similar manner as a“single piece” body, but additional manufacturing steps may be required. The additional steps for assembling the one-piece components 811, 8I 2 may include, for instance, welding the one-piece components 811, 812 to one another and blasting the assembly, for instance by sand or by any other suitable material, in order to have a surface finish that will increase durability of the component.

In some embodiments, as shown in Figure 28, the shield 67 may be mounted on the lateral side 30i of the mid-roller 50i, while another shield 67’ similar to the shield 67 may be mounted on the lateral side 302 of the mid-roller 50i. In this embodiment, the shield 67’ of the lateral side 302 of the mid-roller 50i may be similar to the shield 67 of the side 30i of the mid-roller 50i, but may additionally comprise an aperture 169 configured for being occupied by the axle 58 which connects hub19 of the mid-roller 50i.

In some embodiments, as shown in Figure 29, a shield 167 similar to the shield 67 may be mounted to a body 160 of a given one of the leading idler wheels 50i, 502 and the trailing idler wheels 507, 50s. Also, in some embodiments, a shield 267 similar to the shield 67 may be mounted to a body 260 of the drive wheel 42.

In some embodiments, as shown in Figures 30A and 30B, the mid-roller 50i and its shield 67 are configured such that the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i can only accommodate the specific shield 67 (i.e., preclude differently-configured shields from being mounted to the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i). The body 60 of the mid-roller 50i and the shield 67 are configured to exclusively work with one another. For instance, the mid-roller 50i and its shield 67 may have one or more specific features (e.g., shapes, such as a specific combination of projections and recesses that can register with one another) such that the body 60 of the mid roller 50i can only work with the shield 67. In this example, the body 60 of the mid-roller 50i comprises projections 162 on the flange 73i and the inner surface 100 of the inner side 94 of the shield 67 comprises recesses 192 configured to match the projections 162 of the body 60 when the shield 67 is in place. The projections 162 of the body 60 may impart projections 194 on the outer surface 102 of the outer side 96 of the shield 67, on a backside of the recesses 162. In a variant, the outer surface 102 of the outer side 96 of the shield 67 may be free of projections of any kind on the backside of the recesses 162. In other embodiments, instead of or in addition to having projections matching with recesses, the mid-roller 50i and its shield 67 may comprise any arrangement of voids, fastener, clips, such that the mid-roller 50i can only accommodate the specific shield 67.

Although the agricultural vehicle 10 illustrated in Figure 1 is an agricultural tractor comprising four track systems I 61-I 64, different types of agricultural vehicles configured differently (e.g., having a different number of track systems) may implement improvements based on principles disclosed herein.

For instance, with additional reference to Figure 31 , an agricultural vehicle 510 may be provided comprising two track systems 5161, 5162 rather than four (i.e., one track system 516i at each side of the agricultural vehicle 510). The agricultural vehicle 510 also comprises a frame 512, a prime mover 514, and an operator cabin 520 and can be equipped with the work implement 18 to perform agricultural work. Each track system 516i comprises a drive wheel 524 at a first longitudinal end portion of the track system 516i, an idler wheel 526 at a second longitudinal end portion of the track system 516i opposite to the first longitudinal end portion, and a plurality of roller wheels 528I-5286 intermediate the drive wheel 524 and the idler wheel 526. The track system 516i further comprises a track 522 disposed around the wheels 524, 526, 528I-5286 and driven by the drive wheel 524. The track system 516i may implement the lateral load distribution mechanism 100 as described in section 1 above. Additionally or alternatively, the track 522 may be configured in a manner similar to the track 22 as described in section 2 above. In some embodiments, the work implement 18 that is drawn by the agricultural vehicle 10 may implement features disclosed herein in respect of the agricultural vehicle 10, including wheels such as the mid-roller 50i and its shield 67. For instance, with additional reference to Figure 32, the work implement 18 may comprise a trailed vehicle 610 (e.g., a cart) comprising a frame 612, a trailer body 613 (e.g., a container) and track systems 6161, 6162. In this example, the trailed vehicle 610 is a harvest cart. In other examples, the trailed vehicle 610 may be a fertilizer cart, a sprayer, a planter or any other suitable type of trailed vehicle. Each track system 616i of the trailed vehicle 610 comprises front (i.e., leading) idler wheels 623i, 6232 at a first longitudinal end portion of the track system 616i, rear (i.e., trailing) idler wheels 626i, 6262 at a second longitudinal end portion of the track system 616i opposite the first longitudinal end portion, and a plurality of roller wheels 628I-6284 intermediate the front idler wheels 623i, 6232 and the rear idler wheels 626i , 6262. The track system 616i further comprises a track 641 disposed around the wheels 626i, 6262, 626i, 6262, 628I-6284. One or more of the wheels 626i, 6262, 626i, 6262, 628I-6284 may comprises a body and a shield similar to the body 60 and the shield 67 of the mid-roller 50i as described above.

In this example, the trailed vehicle 610 is not motorized in that it does not comprise a prime mover for driving the track systems 6161, 6162. Rather, the trailed vehicle 610 is displaced by the agricultural vehicle 10 to which the trailed vehicle 610 is attached. Flowever, in some examples, the trailed vehicle 610 may be motorized. That is, the trailed vehicle 610 may comprise a prime mover for driving a drive wheel of each track system 616i. For example, instead of comprising rear idler wheels 626i, 6262, the track system 616i may comprise a drive wheel for driving the track 622.

While in embodiments considered above the vehicle 10 is an agricultural vehicle, in other embodiments, the vehicle 10 may be an industrial vehicle such as a construction vehicle (e.g., a loader, a telehandler, a bulldozer, an excavator, etc.) for performing construction work or a forestry vehicle (e.g., a feller-buncher, a tree chipper, a knuckleboom loader, etc.) for performing forestry work, a military vehicle (e.g., a combat engineering vehicle (CEV), etc.) for performing military work, an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), a snowmobile, or any other vehicle operable off paved roads. Although operable off paved roads, the vehicle 10 may also be operable on paved roads in some cases.

Certain additional elements that may be needed for operation of some embodiments have not been described or illustrated as they are assumed to be within the purview of those of ordinary skill in the art. Moreover, certain embodiments may be free of, may lack and/or may function without any element that is not specifically disclosed herein.

Any feature of any embodiment discussed herein may be combined with any feature of any other embodiment discussed herein in some examples of implementation.

In case of any discrepancy, inconsistency, or other difference between terms used herein and terms used in any document incorporated by reference herein, meanings of the terms used herein are to prevail and be used.

Although various embodiments and examples have been presented, this was for purposes of description, but should not be limiting. Various modifications and enhancements will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.