(19)
(11)EP 3 647 151 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
06.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/19

(21)Application number: 19206680.1

(22)Date of filing:  31.10.2019
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B61F 5/32  (2006.01)
F16F 3/10  (2006.01)
B61F 5/38  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 05.11.2018 GB 201818011

(71)Applicant: Bombardier Transportation GmbH
10785 Berlin (DE)

(72)Inventor:
  • STOESSEL, Lucien
    8706 Meilen (CH)

(74)Representative: Alatis 
109 Bd Haussmann
75008 Paris
75008 Paris (FR)

  


(54)WHEEL AXLE GUIDING ASSEMBLY WITH LOAD DEPENDENT PRESSURISING MEANS


(57) A wheel axle guiding assembly (31) for a running gear (10) of a rail vehicle, comprises: an axle box assembly (30), a support assembly (24) and a hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (26) fixed to the axle box assembly (30) and to the support assembly (24) to allow a fore-and-aft movement of the axle box assembly (30) relative to the support assembly (24). The hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (26) comprises: a first variable volume hydraulic chamber (38A) and a second variable volume hydraulic chamber (38B) between the support assembly (24) and the axle box assembly (30) such that a movement of the axle box assembly (30) relative to the support assembly (24) in the steering direction (300) results in a reduction of an internal volume of the one of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B) and a corresponding increase of an internal volume of the other of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B). The hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (26) further comprises load-dependent pressurising means (42) such that an increase in a vertical load applied by the support assembly (24) on the axle box assembly (30) results in an increase of pressure into the first variable volume hydraulic chamber (38A) and second variable volume hydraulic chamber (38B).




Description

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The invention relates to a wheel axle guiding assembly for a rail vehicle, provided with a hydro-mechanical guiding assembly to allow a fore-and-aft movement of an axle box parallel to the longitudinal direction, i.e. a passive steering or an active steering of the wheel axle.

BACKGROUND ART



[0002] EP1457707 discloses a running gear of a rail vehicle, provided with an axle box integral with a swing arm, a primary suspension between the swing arm and a running gear frame, and a bushing allowing the swing arm to pivot about a horizontal axis relative to the running gear frame. The bushing is provided with a rubber sleeve mounted between concentric inner and outer sleeves. The rubber sleeve defines diametrically opposite chambers filled with hydraulic fluid and connected by a channel which acts as a vibration damper. The chambers enable a fore-and-aft movement of the inner sleeve relative to the outer sleeve and hence of the swing arm and axle box relative to the running gear frame. At low temperature, however, the fluid in the hydraulic chambers reduces its volume due to thermal retraction. During deflections in the functional direction of the hydraulic bushing, this leads to cavitation in the fluid chamber on the low-pressure side of the bushing. This impacts the load-deflection curve of the element in the functional direction, reducing the dynamic stiffness around the neutral position. Moreover, any leakage in the system results in a significant reduction of the stiffness in the longitudinal direction.

[0003] A hydro-mechanical guiding assembly for a wheel axle guiding assembly of a primary suspension of a rail vehicle is disclosed in JP2951368. The hydro-mechanical guiding assembly comprises: a first variable volume hydraulic chamber and a second variable volume hydraulic chamber connected to one another and located between a support assembly fixed relative to bogie frame and an axle box assembly, such that a movement of the axle box assembly relative to the support assembly in a longitudinal direction results in a reduction of an internal volume of the one of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers and a corresponding increase of an internal volume of the other of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers. No compensation of the thermal contraction of the hydraulic liquid is provided. Moreover, any leakage in the system results in a significant reduction of the stiffness in the longitudinal direction.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0004] The invention aims to provide a wheel axle guiding means that is less significantly impacted by temperature changes and/or by leakage.

[0005] According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a wheel axle guiding assembly for a running gear of a rail vehicle, comprising:
  • an axle box assembly defining a revolution axis, which is horizontal when the wheel axle guiding assembly is in a standard operational position, and a steering direction, which is perpendicular to the revolution axis and horizontal when the wheel axle guiding assembly is in the standard operational position;
  • a support assembly; and
  • a hydro-mechanical guiding assembly fixed to the axle box assembly and to the support assembly to allow a fore-and-aft movement of the axle box assembly relative to the support assembly parallel to the steering direction, wherein the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly comprises: a first variable volume hydraulic chamber and a second variable volume hydraulic chamber between the support assembly and the axle box assembly such that a movement of the axle box assembly relative to the support assembly in the steering direction results in a reduction of an internal volume of the one of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers and a corresponding increase of an internal volume of the other of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers, wherein the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly further comprises load-dependent pressurising means such that an increase in a vertical load applied by the support assembly on the axle box assembly in the standard operational position of the wheel axle guiding assembly results in a pressure increase in the first variable volume hydraulic chamber and second variable volume hydraulic chamber.


[0006] The vertical load applied by the support assembly, i.e. the vehicle body of the rail vehicle and/or the frame of the running gear, on the wheel axle guiding assembly in standard operational conditions, which in practice is more than 1000 daN, ensures that a minimum pressure is always present in the variable volume hydraulic chambers to avoid cavitation.

[0007] Preferably, the load-dependent pressurising means are such that an increase in the vertical load applied by the support assembly on the axle box assembly from no load to a standard operational load results in a pressure increase of more than 3 bars, preferably more than 5 bars in the first variable volume hydraulic chamber and second variable volume hydraulic chamber. This ensures that a significant pressure is always present in the hydraulic chambers.

[0008] According to a preferred embodiment, a communication passage with a constriction is provided between the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers. The constriction constitutes a low pass filter which provides a desired frequency response of the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly: horizontal fore and aft movement of the axle box relative to the support assembly will be unimpaired at low frequencies, e.g. below 1 Hz, while the system will become stiffer at higher frequencies. According to a preferred embodiment, the first variable hydraulic chamber, the second variable volume hydraulic chamber, the constriction and the load-dependent pressurising means constitute a closed circuit.

[0009] According to a preferred embodiment, the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers are connected to a passive steering circuit. The passive steering circuit can link the first and second chambers of the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly or have a more complex layout, e.g. a cross-connexion between the two hydraulic chambers of the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly and two further hydraulic chambers of a further hydro-mechanical guiding assembly for a further axle box assembly, which can be located on an opposite side or on the same side of the running gear.

[0010] According to a preferred embodiment, the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly comprises a set of one or more elastomeric bodies, which form deformable walls of the first variable volume hydraulic chamber and second variable volume hydraulic chamber and constitute the load-dependent pressurising means. The load-dependent pressurising means constitute a unitary unit with the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly. In particular, the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly may comprise a casing having a bottom and a set of one or more side walls defining an open cavity, and a top wall surrounding a top opening of the open cavity; and a plunger, the plunger having an internal portion received in the cavity and an external portion protruding out from the open cavity. In this embodiment, the set of one or more elastomeric bodies comprises a partition membrane between the side wall of the casing and the internal portion of the plunger for partitioning the cavity into the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers.

[0011] Preferably, the set of one or more elastomeric bodies defines: a bottom pad between the internal portion of the plunger and the bottom of the casing, a bottom end of each of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers being closed by the bottom pad; and an annular top membrane between the casing the top wall of the casing and the plunger, a top end of each of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers being closed by the top membrane.

[0012] Preferably, the set of one or more elastomeric bodies is such that:
  • the plunger is movable with respect to the casing in a suspension direction of the casing, such that an axial distance measured parallel to the suspension direction between the plunger and the top wall of the casing is reduced when an axial distance measured parallel to the suspension direction between the plunger and the bottom of the casing is reduced, wherein the suspension direction is vertical when the wheel axle guiding assembly is in the standard operational position; and
  • the plunger is movable with respect to the casing in the steering direction.


[0013] The bottom wall of the internal portion of the plunger can have various shapes. It can be planar, but is preferably convex, in particular cylindrical or spherical.

[0014] The bottom of the cavity of the casing can have various shapes. It can be planar, but is preferably concave, in particular cylindrical or spherical.

[0015] Advantageously, may further comprise at least one of the following:
  • a pivot element and a pivot connexion between the pivot element and the protruding portion of the plunger about a pivot axis parallel to the suspension direction.
  • a pivot support and a pivot connexion between the pivot support and the casing about a pivot axis, wherein the pivot axis is parallel to the suspension direction in a reference position of the plunger.


[0016] The pivot connexion provides the wheel axle guiding assembly with a degree of freedom of rotation relative to the axle box assembly and/or relative to the support assembly.

[0017] In a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, the partition wall extends in a reference plane perpendicular to the steering direction.

[0018] In a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, a total steering stroke of the plunger with respect to the casing parallel to the steering direction is greater than a total suspension stroke of the plunger with respect to the casing parallel to the suspension direction. The suspension stroke has no other function than allowing for the load-dependent pressurisation of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers, whereas the stroke in the steering direction allows for steering or self-steering of the axle box assembly. In a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, the set of one or more elastomeric bodies provides, in the absence of a hydraulic fluid in the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers, a steering stiffness in a direction parallel to the steering direction and a suspension stiffness in a direction parallel to the suspension direction, and the steering stiffness is less than the suspension stiffness, preferably at least ten times less than the suspension stiffness.

[0019] In a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, the axle box assembly comprises a swing arm, and the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly comprises a bushing element between the swing arm and the support assembly, wherein the bushing element comprises the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers.

[0020] In a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly comprises a first longitudinal hydro-mechanical converter fixed to a first interface of the axle box assembly and a first interface of the support assembly and a second longitudinal hydro-mechanical converter fixed to a second interface of the axle box assembly and a second interface of the support assembly. The wheel axle guiding assembly can include one or more of the following features:
  • Each of the first and second longitudinal hydro-mechanical converters includes a housing, a plunger and an elastomeric body fixed to the housing and to the plunger so as to allow a fore-and-aft relative movement parallel to the steering direction between the plunger and the housing, wherein the first variable volume hydraulic chamber is formed between the housing, the plunger and the elastomeric body of the first longitudinal hydro-mechanical converter and the second variable volume hydraulic chamber is formed between the housing, the plunger and the elastomeric body of the second longitudinal hydro-mechanical converter.
  • The first interface of the axle box faces the first interface of the axle box carrier and the second interface of the axle box faces the second interface of the axle box carrier.
  • The first interface and the second interface of the axle box carrier are located between the first interface and the second interface of the axle box.
  • The horizontal revolution axis is located longitudinally between the first interface and a second interface of the axle box carrier.


[0021] According to a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, the load-dependent pressurising means comprise a variable volume pressurising chamber hydraulically connected to the first variable volume hydraulic chamber and to the second variable volume hydraulic chamber. The wheel axle guiding assembly can include one or more of the following features:
  • The variable volume pressurising chamber has a wall fixed relative to the axle box assembly and a wall fixed relative to the support assembly.
  • A primary spring is provided for connecting the axle box assembly to the support assembly, wherein the variable volume pressurising chamber is mechanically in series with the primary spring between the axle box assembly and the support assembly.
  • A primary spring is provided for connecting the axle box assembly to the support assembly, wherein the variable volume pressurising chamber is mechanically in parallel with the primary spring between the axle box assembly and the support assembly.
  • The support assembly comprises a remote variable volume pressurising chamber.
  • The support assembly is part of a running gear, which comprises a running gear frame and a secondary suspension for connecting the running gear frame to a vehicle body of the rail vehicle, and the variable volume pressurising chamber is mechanically in series with the secondary spring.
  • The support assembly comprises a running gear frame, the wheel axle guiding assembly comprises a secondary suspension for connecting the running gear frame to a vehicle body of the rail vehicle, and the variable volume pressurising chamber is mechanically in parallel with the secondary spring.
  • A failsafe locking device is provided for locking the axle box assembly relative to the support assembly in case of loss of pressure consecutive to a hydraulic leakage.


[0022] According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a resilient bushing for a primary suspension of a rail vehicle, the resilient bushing comprising:
  • a casing forming a cavity having a bottom, a side wall and a top opening, the casing defining a reference axis extending through the bottom and the top opening and a reference plane that contains the reference axis;
  • a plunger, the plunger having an internal portion received in the cavity, a protruding portion axially protruding through the top opening out of the cavity, and
  • one or more elastomeric members, which form:
    • a bottom pad between a bottom wall of the internal portion of the plunger and the bottom of the casing,
    • an annular top membrane between the top opening of the casing and the protruding portion of the plunger, and
    • a partition membrane between the side wall of the cavity and the internal portion of the plunger for partitioning the cavity into two pressure chambers, a top end of each of the two chambers being closed by the top membrane and a bottom end of each of the two chambers being closed by the bottom pad.


[0023] The partition membrane, top membrane and bottom pad are such that:
  • the plunger is movable with respect to the casing in a suspension direction parallel to the reference axis, such that an axial distance between the protruding portion of the plunger and the top opening is reduced when an axial distance between the internal portion of the plunger and the bottom of the casing is reduced; and
  • the plunger is movable with respect to the casing in a steering direction perpendicular to the reference plane of the casing.


[0024] In a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, an end portion of the internal portion of the plunger, which faces the bottom of the cavity, is convex, preferably cylindrical or spherical.

[0025] In a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, the bottom of the cavity of the casing is concave, preferably cylindrical or spherical.

[0026] The resilient bushing may further comprise a pivot element and a pivot connexion between the pivot element and the protruding portion of the plunger about the reference axis.

[0027] The resilient bushing may further comprise a pivot support and a pivot connexion between the pivot support and the casing about a pivot axis, wherein the pivot axis is parallel to the reference axis in a reference position of the plunger.

[0028] The resilient bushing may further comprise a fluid passage with a constriction between the two pressure chambers of the cavity.

[0029] The resilient bushing may further comprise two fluid ports for delivering fluid to either one of the two pressure chambers.

[0030] In a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, the partition wall extends in a reference plane perpendicular to the steering direction.

[0031] Advantageously, a total steering stroke of the plunger with respect to the casing parallel to the steering direction is greater than a total suspension stroke of the plunger with respect to the casing parallel to the reference axis.

[0032] In a preferred and non-limiting embodiment or example, the partition membrane, top membrane and bottom pad provide, in the absence of pressure in the two pressure chambers, a steering stiffness in a direction parallel to the steering direction and a suspension stiffness parallel to the reference axis, and the steering stiffness is less than the suspension stiffness, preferably at least ten times less than the suspension stiffness.

[0033] A failsafe locking device can be provided for locking the plunger relative to the casing in the steering direction in case of loss of pressure consecutive to a hydraulic leakage.

[0034] According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a primary suspension between an axle box assembly of a rail vehicle and a frame, the axle box assembly defining a revolution axis and a vertical axis perpendicular to the revolution axis, the primary suspension comprising: a primary spring that extends between an application point of the axle box assembly and the frame, an axle guide element that allows a pivoting movement of the axle box assembly about a pivot axis, wherein the pivot axis is parallel to the revolution axis and located at a distance from the revolution axis and from the application point, wherein the axle guide element comprises a resilient bushing as described hereinbefore.

[0035] The application point and the pivot axis are preferably on opposite sides of a vertical plane containing the revolution axis.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES



[0036] Other advantages and features of the invention will then become more clearly apparent from the following description of specific embodiments of the invention given as non-restrictive examples only and represented in the accompanying drawings in which:
  • figure 1 is a schematic view of a running gear of a rail vehicle, provided with a wheel axle guiding assembly according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • figure 2 is a schematic cross-section of the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 according to a first, a second, a third and a fourth embodiment of the invention, through a longitudinal vertical median plane II-II of the wheel axle guiding assembly parallel to a longitudinal travelling direction of the running gear;
  • figure 3 is a schematic cross-section of the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 according to the first embodiment and to a second embodiment of the invention and to a third embodiment of the invention, through a transversal vertical median plane III-III of the wheel axle guiding assembly perpendicular to the longitudinal travelling direction of the running gear;
  • figure 4 is a schematic cross-section of the first embodiment of the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 through a horizontal plane IV-IV illustrated in figures 2 and 3;
  • figure 5 is a schematic cross-section of the first embodiment the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 through a horizontal plane V-V illustrated in figures 2 and 3;
  • figure 6 is a schematic cross-section of the second embodiment of the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 through a horizontal plane IV-IV illustrated in figures 2 and 3;
  • figure 7 is a schematic cross-section of the second embodiment the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 through a horizontal plane V-V illustrated in figures 2 and 3;
  • figure 8 is a schematic cross-section of the second embodiment the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 through the longitudinal vertical median plane III-III of figure 2;
  • figure 9 is a schematic cross-section of the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 according to the third embodiment of the invention, through the transversal vertical median plane III-III of figure 2;
  • figure 10 is a schematic cross-section of the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 according to a fourth embodiment of the invention, through a longitudinal vertical median plane of the wheel axle guiding assembly parallel to a longitudinal travelling direction of the running gear;
  • figure 11 is a schematic cross-section of the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 according to a fifth embodiment of the invention, through a longitudinal vertical median plane of the wheel axle guiding assembly parallel to a longitudinal travelling direction of the running gear;
  • Figure 12 is a schematic view of the wheel axle guiding assembly of figure 1 according to a sixth embodiment of the invention;
  • Figure 13 is a schematic view of a wheel axle guiding assembly according to a seventh embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



[0037] With reference to figure 1, a running gear 10 of a rail vehicle comprises a wheel 12 which runs on a rail 14 of a rail track, a wheel axle 16 fixed to the wheel 12, an axle box 18 for guiding the wheel axle 16 about a revolution axis 100, a swing arm 20 integral with the axle box 18 and a suspension 22 arranged between the swing arm 20 and a support assembly 24, which can be a running gear frame or an underframe of the vehicle body. The wheel 12 can be part of a wheelset, i.e. of a set of left and right wheels attached to a common wheel axle, or it can be an independent wheel.

[0038] The suspension 22 comprises a bushing 26 and a helicoidal spring 28. The bushing 26 allows the axle box assembly 30 consisting of the axle box 18 and the swing arm 20 to pivot relative to the support assembly 24 about a horizontal transverse pivot axis parallel to the revolution axis 100, while the helicoidal spring 28 enables a deflection of a free end of the swing arm 20 with a predetermined stiffness in a suspension direction 200 parallel or substantially parallel to a vertical direction.

[0039] The bushing 26 is formed as a hydro-mechanical guiding assembly fixed to the axle box assembly 30 and to the support assembly 24 to allow a limited fore-and-aft movement of the axle box assembly 30 relative to the support assembly 24 parallel to a steering direction 300. The steering direction 300 is a direction which, when the running gear 10 is in an operational stationary reference position on a straight horizontal railway track, is horizontal, parallel or substantially parallel to the track and perpendicular to the revolution axis 100 of the wheel 12.

[0040] The axle box assembly 30, the support assembly 24 and the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly 26 form together a wheel axle guiding assembly 31 according to a first embodiment of the invention.

[0041] The hydro-mechanical guiding assembly 26 as illustrated in detail in figures 2 to 5 comprises a casing 32 which forms an open cavity, a plunger 34, which has an internal portion 34.1 received in the cavity and an external portion 34.2 protruding out of the cavity, and a set of one or more elastomeric bodies 36, which form deformable walls between the plunger 34 and the casing 32 to define a first variable volume hydraulic chamber 38A and second variable volume hydraulic chamber 38B, which communicate with one another through a communication channel 40 with a limited cross-section to provide a predetermined pressure drop. The communication channel 40 is preferably formed through the plunger 34.

[0042] More specifically, the casing 32 has a bottom 32.1, a set of one or more side walls 32.2, and a top wall 32.3 with a top opening edge surrounding the open cavity, through which the plunger protrudes. The set of one or more elastomeric bodies 36 includes a bottom pad 36.1 between a bottom wall of the internal portion 34.1 of the plunger and the bottom 32.1 of the casing 32. The bottom wall of the internal portion 34.1 of the plunger 34 is preferably convex, in particular cylindrical, while the bottom 32.1 of the cavity of the casing 32 has a complementary or substantially complementary concave shape, in particular a cylindrical shape. The set of one or more elastomeric bodies 36 comprises two partition membranes 36.2 between the side wall 32.2 of the cavity and a side wall of the internal portion 34.1 of the plunger 34 for partitioning the cavity into the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B. The set of one or more elastomeric bodies 36 further includes an annular top membrane 36.3 between the top opening edge 32.4 of the casing 32 and an intermediate wall of the plunger 34. A bottom end of each of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B is closed by the bottom pad 36.1, while a top end of each of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B is closed by the top membrane 36.3.

[0043] One of the casing 32 and plunger 34 is connected to the axle box assembly 30 while the other is connected to the support assembly 24. The plunger 34 is oriented in a suspension direction 200, which is vertical when the wheel axle guiding assembly 30 is in the standard operational position. The plunger 34 is located between the first and second variable hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B along the steering direction 300. The convex portion of the bottom wall of the plunger 34 and the cylindrical concave portion of the bottom wall 32.1 of the casing 32 allow limited relative pivotal movements between the plunger 34 and the casing 32 about a pivot axis parallel to the revolution axis 100 of the wheel 12, with corresponding deformations of the elastomeric bodies.

[0044] Any translation movement of the axle box assembly 30 relative to the support assembly 24 in the steering direction 300 results in a reduction of an internal volume of one of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B and a corresponding increase of an internal volume of the other of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B. The cross-section of the communication channel 40 between the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B is a parameter for defining a frequency response of the system, i.e. the cutoff frequency below which the movement of the fluid between the two chambers 38A, 38B is substantially unimpaired and beyond which the movement of the fluid between the two chambers 38A, 38B is progressively cut off.

[0045] The plunger 34 is also movable with respect to the casing 32 in the suspension direction 200, such that an axial distance measured parallel to the suspension direction 200 between the external portion 34.2 of the plunger 34 and the top wall 32.3 is reduced when an axial distance measured parallel to the suspension direction 100 between the bottom wall of the internal portion 34.1 of the plunger 34 and the bottom 32.1 of the casing is reduced. In other words, the bottom pad 36.1 and top membrane 36.3 are simultaneously compressed or extended in the suspension direction 200. The bottom pad 36.1 and top membrane 36.3 form together load-dependent pressurising means 42 which are such that an increase in a vertical load applied by the support assembly 24 on the axle box assembly 30 in the standard operational position of the wheel axle guiding assembly 26 results in an increase of the pressure into the first variable volume hydraulic chamber 38A and second variable volume hydraulic chamber 38B. More specifically, an increase in the vertical load applied by the support assembly 24 on the axle box assembly 30 from no load to a standard operational load results in an increase of a pressure into the first variable volume hydraulic chamber 38A and second variable volume hydraulic chamber 38B of more than 3 bars, preferably more than 5 bars.

[0046] Hence, the static vertical load from the vehicle body transmitted through the support assembly 24 generates a nearly constant pressure in the load-dependent hydraulic circuit. At low temperature, the volume of the fluid in the hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B is reduced due to thermal retraction. Thanks to the static load applied by the vehicle body, however, the plunger 34 moves further into the cavity of the casing 32, which results in a deformation of the elastomeric bodies 36, in particular of the annular top membrane 36.3 and lower pad 36.1 and a reduction of the volume of the first and second chambers 38A, 38B. This deformation is counteracted by the fluid in the hydraulic chambers, which ensure that a proper fluid pressure is maintained in the hydraulic circuit. A similar effect is achieved in case of a leakage.

[0047] A second embodiment of the wheel axle guiding assembly 26 is illustrated in figures 6 and 8. This embodiment differs from the embodiment of figures 1 to 5 in that the side wall 32.2 of the casing has a cylindrical shape, the bottom wall 32.1 of the casing 32 has a convex hemispherical shape and the bottom end of the plunger 34 has a complementary or substantially complementary concave hemispherical shape.

[0048] A third embodiment of the wheel axle guiding assembly 26 is illustrated in figure 9. This embodiment differs from the embodiment of figures 1 to 5 in that the bottom wall 32.1 of the casing 32 is planar as well has the bottom end of the plunger 34.

[0049] A fourth embodiment of the wheel axle guiding assembly is illustrated in figure 10. This embodiment differs from the embodiment of figures 1 to 5 in that it includes a failsafe locking device 44 for locking the wheel axle guiding assembly in case of loss of pressure consecutive to a leakage. The locking device 44 includes a pressure chamber 46, a piston 48 moving into the pressure chamber 44, a pin 50 integral with the piston 48 and protruding out of the pressure chamber 46, a locking hole 52 formed in the bottom wall 32.1 of the casing 32 and a biasing element 54, here a spring, for biasing the piston 48 towards the locking hole 52. The pressure chamber 46 is connected to the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B through the communication channel 40 and is subjected to the same static pressure as the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B. In standard operational conditions, the static pressure in the pressure chamber 46 overcomes the biasing force of the biasing element 54 and maintains the pin out of the locking hole. The locking device 44 is unlocked and the wheel guiding assembly 26 operates as described hereinbefore. Whenever the static pressure drops below a predetermined threshold defined by the biasing element 54, the latter pushes the piston 48 and the pin 50 to a locking position into the locking hole 52. Further movement in the steering direction 300 is prevented and the running gear 10 remains operational albeit without its steering function. Depending on the shape of the pin 50 and locking 52 the pivot movement of the wheel axle guiding assembly 26 may or may not be impaired.

[0050] A fifth embodiment of the wheel axle guiding assembly is illustrated in figure 11. This embodiment differs from the embodiment of figures 10 in that the failsafe locking device 44 is simplified. More specifically, the locking device 44 comprises a pin 50, which is integral with the plunger 34 and faces a locking hole 52 formed in the bottom wall 32.1 of the casing 32. As long as the hydraulic pressure in the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B is above a predetermined threshold, the pin 50 remains outside the locking hole 52. Whenever the hydraulic pressure in the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B drops below said threshold, the deformation of the bottom pad is such that the pin 50 enters the locking hole 52.

[0051] A wheel axle guiding assembly 31 according to a sixth embodiment of the invention is illustrated in figure 12. The wheel axle guiding assembly 31 comprises a hydro-mechanical guiding assembly 26 arranged between an axle box assembly 30 and a support assembly 24, which can be a running gear frame or a subframe of a rail vehicle. The hydro-mechanical guiding assembly 26 comprises two separate longitudinal hydro-mechanical converters 26A, 26B and a load-dependent pressurising subunit 42. Each of the two separate longitudinal hydro-mechanical converters 26A, 26B comprises a cavity 38A, 38B in which a plunger 34A, 34B can move in a fore-and-aft direction parallel to the steering direction 300 as defined hereinbefore. Each plunger 34A, 34B is linked to the walls 32A, 32B of the associated cavity by means of an annular elastomeric body 36A, 36B. The annular elastomeric body 36A, 36B has a geometric axis 400 that is parallel to the steering direction 300 and allows the aforementioned movement of the plunger 34A, 34B in the steering direction 300 as well as a limited movement in a suspension direction 200 parallel to a vertical direction. In figure 12, the two plungers 34A, 34B are integral with the axle box assembly 26 while the walls 32A, 32B of the two cavities 38A, 38B are integral with the support assembly 24. However, other configurations are possible, as discussed for instance in WO2017/140523: each plunger 34A, 34B can be attached to the support assembly 24, whereas the walls 32A, 32B of the associated cavity 38A, 38B are integral with the axle box assembly 30; or one of the plungers 34A, 34B can be attached to the support assembly 24 and the other one to the axle box assembly 30. In each configuration, a movement of the axle box assembly 30 relative to the support assembly 24 in the steering direction 300 results in a reduction of an internal volume of the one of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B and a corresponding increase of an internal volume of the other of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B. The wheel axle guiding assemblies of figures 12 and 13 are compatible with all configurations illustrated in figures 1 to 12 of WO2017/140523.

[0052] The load-dependent pressurising subunit 42 consists of an annular elastomeric body 56 with a vertical axis, between two horizontal plates 58, 60, one of which is fixed relative to the support assembly 24 while the other one is fixed relative to the axle box assembly 30, such as to form a variable volume pressurising chamber 62. The two longitudinal hydro-mechanical converters 26A, 26B are hydraulically connected with one another through a communication pipe 40 and with the load-dependent pressurising subunit 42 through connecting pipes 64. The permanent load applied by the support assembly 24 to the load-dependent pressurising subunit 42 ensures a constant static pressure in the hydraulic circuit. Forces applied at low frequency to the axle box assembly 30 in the steering direction 300 result in fluid movement in the communication pipe 40 between the variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B of the two longitudinal hydro-mechanical converters 26A, 26B.

[0053] A seventh embodiment of the wheel axle guiding assembly is illustrated in figure 13. This embodiment differs from the embodiment of figure 12 in that the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly 26 comprises a cylindrical steering unit 26AB, extending along a horizontal axis parallel to the revolution axis 100 and a separate pressurising subunit 42. The cylindrical steering unit 26AB comprises a cylindrical casing 32, a cylindrical pivot 34 received within the cylindrical casing 32, and a set of elastomeric bodies 36 between the pivot 34 and the casing 32 for defining two variable volume hydraulic chambers 38A, 38B, one on each side of the pivot 34 in the steering direction 300. The two chambers 38A, 38B are hydraulically connected with one another and with a hydraulic chamber 62 of the load-dependent pressurising subunit 42. One of the pivot 34 and casing 32 is fixed to the support assembly 24 while the other one is fixed to the axle box assembly 30. This embodiment operates substantially in the same way as the sixth embodiment.

[0054] As will be readily understood, the embodiments of figures 1 to 11 differ from the embodiments of figures 12 and 13 in that the load-dependent pressurising means 36.1, 36.3 of the variable volume hydraulic chambers are combined in one and the same structure, thanks to a specific layout of the elastomeric bodies 36.1, 36.3.

[0055] The wheel axle guiding assembly of the invention can be used as part of any one of the passive steering circuits illustrated in figures 13 to 18 of WO2017/140523.

[0056] The invention is not limited to the above-described embodiments. Features, which have been described or illustrated in connexion with one embodiment can be combined with other features of other embodiments to form additional variants. For instance, the locking function depicted in figures 10 or 11 can be applied to all embodiments.


Claims

1. A wheel axle guiding assembly (31) for a running gear (10) of a rail vehicle, comprising:

- an axle box assembly (30) defining a revolution axis (100), which is horizontal when the wheel axle guiding assembly (31) is in a standard operational position, and a steering direction (300), which is perpendicular to the revolution axis (100) and horizontal when the wheel axle guiding assembly (31) is in the standard operational position;

- a support assembly (24); and

- a hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (26) fixed to the axle box assembly (30) and to the support assembly (24) to allow a fore-and-aft movement of the axle box assembly (30) relative to the support assembly (24) parallel to the steering direction (300), wherein the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (26) comprises: a first variable volume hydraulic chamber (38A) and a second variable volume hydraulic chamber (38B) between the support assembly (24) and the axle box assembly (30) such that a movement of the axle box assembly (30) relative to the support assembly (24) in the steering direction (300) results in a reduction of an internal volume of the one of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B) and a corresponding increase of an internal volume of the other of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B);

characterised in that the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (26) further comprises load-dependent pressurising means (42) such that an increase in a vertical load applied by the support assembly (24) on the axle box assembly (30) in the standard operational position of the wheel axle guiding assembly (31) results in a pressure increase in the first variable volume hydraulic chamber (38A) and second variable volume hydraulic chamber (38B).
 
2. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of claim 1, wherein the load-dependent pressurising means (42) are such that an increase in the vertical load applied by the support assembly (24) on the axle box assembly (30) from no load to a standard operational load results in a pressure increase of more than 3 bars, preferably more than 5 bars in the first variable volume hydraulic chamber (38A) and second variable volume hydraulic chamber (38B).
 
3. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising a communication passage (40) with a constriction between the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B).
 
4. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising a passive steering circuit, wherein the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers are connected to the passive steering circuit.
 
5. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (26) comprises a set of one or more elastomeric bodies (36), which form deformable walls of the first variable volume hydraulic chamber (38A) and second variable volume hydraulic chamber (38B) and constitute the load-dependent pressurising means (42).
 
6. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of claim 5, wherein the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (26) comprises:

- a casing (32) having a bottom (32.1) and a set of one or more side walls (32.2) defining an open cavity, and a top wall (32.3) surrounding a top opening of the open cavity; and

- a plunger (34), the plunger (34) having an internal portion (34.1) received in the cavity and an external portion (34.2) protruding out from the open cavity;

wherein the set of one or more elastomeric bodies (36) comprises a partition membrane (36.2) between the side wall (32.2) of the casing and the internal portion (34.1) of the plunger (34) for partitioning the cavity into the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B).
 
7. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of claim 6, wherein the set of one or more elastomeric bodies (36) defines:

- a bottom pad (36.1) between the internal portion (34.1) of the plunger (34) and the bottom (32.1) of the casing (32), a bottom end of each of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B) being closed by the bottom pad (36.1); and

- an annular top membrane (36.3) between the casing (32) the top wall (32.3) of the casing (32) and the plunger, a top end of each of the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B) being closed by the top membrane (36.3).


 
8. The wheel axle guiding assembly of any one of claims 6 to 7, wherein the set of one or more elastomeric bodies (36) is such that:

- the plunger (34) is movable with respect to the casing (32) in a suspension direction (200) of the casing (32), such that an axial distance measured parallel to the suspension direction (200) between the plunger (34) and the top wall (32.3) of the casing (32) is reduced when an axial distance measured parallel to the suspension direction (200) between the plunger (34) and the bottom (32.1) of the casing (32) is reduced, wherein the suspension direction (200) is vertical when the wheel axle guiding assembly (31) is in the standard operational position; and

- the plunger (34) is movable with respect to the casing in the steering direction (300).


 
9. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of claims 6 to 8, wherein the partition wall (34.2) extends in a reference plane perpendicular to the steering direction (300).
 
10. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of claims 6 to 9, wherein a total steering stroke of the plunger (34) with respect to the casing (32) parallel to the steering direction (300) is greater than a total suspension stroke of the plunger (34) with respect to the casing (32) parallel to the suspension direction (200).
 
11. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of claims 6 to 10, wherein the set of one or more elastomeric bodies (36) provides, in the absence of a hydraulic fluid in the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B), a steering stiffness in a direction parallel to the steering direction (300) and a suspension stiffness in a direction parallel to the suspension direction (200), and the steering stiffness is less than the suspension stiffness, preferably at least ten times less than the suspension stiffness.
 
12. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the axle box assembly (30) comprises a swing arm (20), and the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (26) comprises a bushing element between the swing arm (20) and the support assembly (24), wherein the bushing element comprises the first and second variable volume hydraulic chambers (38A, 38B).
 
13. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the hydro-mechanical guiding assembly (30) comprises a first longitudinal hydro-mechanical converter (26A) fixed to a first interface of the axle box assembly (30) and a first interface of the support assembly (24) and a second longitudinal hydro-mechanical converter (26B) fixed to a second interface of the axle box assembly (30) and a second interface of the support assembly (24).
 
14. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the load-dependent pressurising means (42) comprise a variable volume pressurising chamber (62) hydraulically connected to the first variable volume hydraulic chamber (38A) and to the second variable volume hydraulic chamber (38B).
 
15. The wheel axle guiding assembly (31) of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising a failsafe locking device (44) for locking the axle box assembly (30) relative to the support assembly (24) in case of loss of pressure consecutive to a hydraulic leakage.
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description