(19)
(11)EP 3 750 782 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
16.12.2020 Bulletin 2020/51

(21)Application number: 20179355.1

(22)Date of filing:  10.06.2020
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B62D 7/14  (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: 10.06.2019 IT 201900008511

(71)Applicant: IVECO MAGIRUS AG
89079 Ulm (DE)

(72)Inventors:
  • KOEBERLE, Florian
    89075 ULM (DE)
  • SCHNEIDER, Elias
    89250 SENDEN (DE)
  • DIRR, Philipp
    89284 PFAFFENHOFEN A. D. ROTH (DE)

(74)Representative: Faraldi, Marco et al
Studio Torta S.p.A. Via Viotti, 9
10121 Torino
10121 Torino (IT)

  


(54)IMPROVED ROCKER/LEVER ARM ASSEMBLY FOR A STEERING SYSTEM OF A VEHICLE


(57) Rocker/lever arm assembly (7) for a steering system (1) of a vehicle, comprising kingpin (19) fixedly carried by a fixing element (8) configured to be fixed to a chassis (3) of the vehicle and a rocker/lever arm (12) comprising a first and second arms (14, 15) configured to be respectively connected to a first and second elements of the steering system (1), the fir rocker/lever arm (12) further comprising an hub (13) configured to carry first and second arms (14, 15), said kingpin (19) being configured to carry the hub (13) in a rotatably free manner, wherein the rotatably free connection between hub (13) with kingpin (19) comprises a single roller bearing (21) or a sleeve bearing (27).




Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS



[0001] This patent application claims priority from Italian patent application no. 102019000008511 filed on 10/06/2019.

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0002] The present invention concerns a rocker/lever arm, in particular to a rocker/lever arm assembly for a steering system of a vehicle.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0003] All vehicles are provided with steering system systems configured to allow steering of vehicle wheels.

[0004] Such steering system systems are realized in many different ways and may comprise rocker/lever arms configured to torsionally connect together two elements of a steering system. In particular, such a rocker/lever arm comprises a first and a second arms connected to an hub which is carried by vehicle's chassis. Such hub is carried by the chassis in a rotatably free manner around an axis defined by such rotatable connection.

[0005] Both arms of the rocker/lever arm comprises a connecting portion for connecting steering system's elements and they are placed on opposite sides with respect to a plane passing from the center of the carrying hub and parallel to ground. Accordingly, steering system's elements are linked in a torsionally way around the axis of the hub, as requested.

[0006] An example of such a steering system is described in EP2261101 A1 and it is clear that the rotatable free connection of the hub to the chassis is crucial due to the loads which are imparted from this latter to chassis.

[0007] Usually, even if not described in EP2261101 A1, hub of rocker/lever arm is carried on a supporting kingpin, realized integral to the chassis, thanks to a pair of rolling bearing mounted in known way thanks between kingpin and rocker/lever arm.

[0008] However, such construction is complex and expensive. Indeed, it is necessary to perfectly mount coaxially the two bearings on the kingpin so that loads are symmetrically imparted on support arm. If this condition is not correctly achieved, fatigue life of roller bearings is drastically reduced because of the higher loads acting on one of the bearings.

[0009] Furthermore, the necessity of providing axial support to bearings needs to provide shoulders and axial thrusts system, thereby making the mounting of the rocker/lever arm on the kingpin realized on the chassis long and complex.

[0010] According to the above, the need is felt to provide simplified and economic rocker/lever arm assembly while maintain at the same time their operational performances.

[0011] An aim of the present invention is to satisfy the above mentioned needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0012] The aforementioned aim is reached by a rocker arm assembly as claimed in the appended set of claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS



[0013] For a better understanding of the present invention, a preferred embodiment is described in the following, by way of a non-limiting example, with reference to the attached drawings wherein:
  • Figure 1 is a schematic lateral view of a steering system of a vehicle comprising a rocker/lever arm;
  • Figure 2 is a schematic lateral view of a rocker/lever arm assembly according to the invention;
  • Figure 3 is a schematic transversal section view of a first embodiment of the rocker/lever arm of figure 2;
  • Figure 4 is a schematic transversal section view of a alternative embodiment of the rocker/lever arm of figure 3; and
  • Figure 5 is a schematic transversal section view of a second embodiment of the rocker/lever arm of figure 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



[0014] Figure 1 discloses an exemplarily steering system 1 for a vehicle, (not shown in its entirety) e.g. a light commercial vehicle or a heavy vehicle such as a truck, carried by a chassis 3 of the vehicle and configured to control the steering of at least a wheel assembly 2 of this latter.

[0015] In particular, steering system 1 comprises a plurality of known elements, not here described in full for sake of brevity, among which at least an upper element 4 and at least a lower element 5 connected in a torsional way to a rocker/lever arm assembly 7 according to the invention.

[0016] According to the described configuration, steering system comprises a pair of rocker/lever arms assembly 7, in particular a first, front, rocker/lever arm assembly 7 connecting an upper element 4 and a front lower element 5 and a second, rear, rocker/lever arm assembly 7 connecting such upper element 4 together with two rear lower elements 5.

[0017] Rocker/lever arm assembly 7 is carried by chassis 3 and preferably comprises, as better shown in figure 2, a fixing element 8 configured to be fixedly mounted of rocker/lever arm assembly 7 on chassis 3. Preferably fixing element 8 comprises a plate 9 provided with a plurality of holes 11 configured to allow the insertion of threaded elements (not shown) to selectively fix plate 9 on chassis 3.

[0018] Rocker/lever arm assembly 7 comprises a rocker/lever arm 12 configured to torsionally connect the above mentioned upper and lower elements 4,5 and comprising and hub 13 carried in a rotatable free manner by fixing element 8 around an axis A of rotation and a pair of arms 14, 15 fixedly carried by hub 13.

[0019] In particular, axis A is an axis perpendicular to a vertical axis and to longitudinal axis of the vehicle and arms 14, 15 are an upper arm 14 extending from hub 13 getting far from ground above a transversal plane passing from axis A and parallel to ground and a lower arm 15 extending from hub 13 getting closer to ground. Preferably, hub 13 and arms 14, 15 are realized in metal and made as one piece.

[0020] More in detail, arms 14, 15 can be substantially parallel one with respect to the other, e.g. see front rocker/lever arm 12 of Figure 1, or inclined one with the other, e.g. see rear rocker/lever arm 12 Figure 1. Both arms 14 extends radially from hub 13 and comprises, at respective terminal portions, at least one hole 17 configured to allow the connection, e.t. via bolts or by fitting, of the upper and lower steering system elements 4, 5. In the described example of Figure 2, upper arm 14 comprises a single hole 17, while the lower arm 15 comprises two holes 17.

[0021] Making reference to figures 3,4 and 5, is easily seen that hub 13 is carried rotatably around axis A on a kingpin 19 extending from fixing element 8 parallel to axis A getting away from chassis of the vehicle.

[0022] According to a first embodiment of the invention, rotatably free coupling between hub 13 and kingpin 19 comprises a single bearing 21.

[0023] In particular, according to the embodiment of figure 3, kingpin 19 comprises a main cylindrical portion 19a and a shoulder 19b, placed in proximity of plate 9 of fixing element 8 , the single bearing 21 is fitted on cylindrical portion 19a and finds in shoulder 19b a first lower axial endstop.

[0024] Hub 13 is configured to define, on the same plane of shoulder 19b, a shoulder 13a configured to define a first upper axial endstop for single bearing 21. On the opposite axial side hub 13 comprises an annular seat 22 configured to house a retaining ring 23, e.g. a Seeger ring, configured to define a second upper axial endstop for single bearing 21.

[0025] Preferably, single bearing 21 is a single roller bearing, more preferably a double row tapered roller bearing.

[0026] In the embodiment of figure 3, second lower axial endstop is defined by a retaining ring 24, e.g. a snap ring, housed in a relative annular seat realized on cylindrical portion 19a of kingpin 19.

[0027] In the alternative embodiment of figure 4, second lower axial endstop is defined by a washer 25 pressed by a self-locking nut 26 configured to engage a threaded surface realized on a dedicated portion 19a' extending from cylindrical portion 19a of kingpin 19.

[0028] According to a second embodiment of the invention, as shown in Figure 5, rotatably free coupling between hub 13 and kingpin 19 comprises a sleeve bearing coupling 27.

[0029] In particular, according to the embodiment of figure 5, sleeve bearing coupling 27 comprises two sleeve bearings 27', 27", preferably having a "L-shaped" cross-section. As known, sleeve bearing 27 is made of self-lubricating materials, such as plastic material, that do not require the use of grease.

[0030] According to the above arrangement, kingpin 19 comprises again the main cylindrical portion 19a and the shoulder 19b while hub 13 is configured to define the shoulder 13a; according to the L-shape of sleeve bearing 27', shoulder 19b and 13a are not realized on the same plane one with respect to the other, so that sleeve bearing 27' is clamped between this latter.

[0031] On the opposite axial side, the other sleeve bearing 27" is pressed between hub 13 and cylindrical portion 19a by a locking nut 26 configured to engage the threaded surface realized on the dedicated portion 19a', similarly to figure 4 embodiment.

[0032] In order to avoid that dirty elements or dust may damage the rotatably free coupling between hub 13 and kingpin 19 according to all the above described embodiments of figures 3 to 5, rocker/lever arm assembly 7 can comprise a dust cap 28 configured to fit inside a hole 29 defined by hub 13 on the opposite side with respect fixing element 9.

[0033] With regard to the first embodiment, single bearing 21 is already provided with sealing means, as known, therefore there is no need of sealant engagement between rocker/lever arm assembly 7 and fixing plate 9. Conversely, about second embodiment, there is need of sealant means 31, e.g. rotary shaft ring seals, on the opposite side with respect to the one provided with dust cap 28. Accordingly, hub 13 and/or kingpin 19 are configured to define a seat for such sealant means 31.

[0034] The operation of the above defined rocker/lever arm assembly 7 is the following.

[0035] When a force, e.g. given by an actuator, acts on upper and lower steering system elements 4, 5, this latter is transmitted to rocker/lever arm 12 which, thanks to arms 14 and 15 torsionally couples upper and lower steering system elements 4, 5 thereby controlling movement of the connected wheel assembly 2 of the vehicle. According to the proposed layout, controlling force is imparted by one of rear lower elements 5, which can be a hydraulic cylinder, and transmitted to wheel assembly 2 of the vehicle via remaining steering system elements 4,5.

[0036] Thanks to the proposed embodiment of rotatably free manner coupling between hub 13 and kingpin 19, loads are equally distributed on this latter, thereby increasing fatigue life of the rocker/lever arm 12.

[0037] In view of the foregoing, the advantages of a rocker/lever arm assembly 7 according to the invention are apparent.

[0038] Thanks to the use of a single bearing 21 or of sleeve bearing 27, it is possible to reduce assembly time of rocker arm assembly 7. Furthermore, the above allows to reduce the number of components needed to guarantee axial stability of the rotatably free coupling between hub 13 and kingpin 19, thereby reducing complexity and costs of rocker arm assembly 7.

[0039] Moreover, the use of a single bearing 21 allows not to use grease or oil since this latter is already contained, and sealed, within bearing 21 itself. Furthermore, there is no need of precise coaxiality as in known system with two bearings, since the bearing is single and can be easily fitted on kingpin 19 before the mounting of the fixing element 8 on the chassis.

[0040] The use of sleeve bearing 27 is more economic with respect to the use of the single bearing 21 and allows a more compact system. Also in the case that sleeve bearing 27 comprises more elements, they can be easily centered on kingpin 19 and they do not require strict tolerances as known two bearings systems. Moreover, sleeve bearings 27 are usually made in self-lubrication materials, accordingly, there is no necessity of grease.

[0041] Furthermore, differently with respect to known devices, the rocker/lever arm assembly 7 according to the present invention can be realized as a separate element with respect to the chassis of the vehicle and can be assembled separately to the latter and, then, fixed to the chassis. In this way it is reduced and simplified the mounting of steering assemblies 1 with respect to the known ones.

[0042] It is clear that modifications can be made to the described rocker/lever arm assembly 7 which do not extend beyond the scope of protection defined by the claims.

[0043] For example, as said, steering system 1 may be of any typology and comprising different elements from the one described above.

[0044] Clearly, shape of arms 14,15 and number of holes 17 may be varied according to the typology of steering system.

[0045] Similarly, shape of the hub 13, kingpin 19 and fixing element 8 may be varied according to steering system 1 and chassis 3 necessities. Accordingly, trust axial compression means of rotatably free coupling between hub 13 on kingpin 19 may be varied accordingly.


Claims

1. Rocker/lever arm assembly (7) for a steering system (1) of a vehicle, said rocker/lever arm assembly (7) comprising a fixing element (8) and a kingpin (19), said kingpin (9) being fixedly carried by said fixing element (8) and said fixing element (8) being configured to be connected to a chassis (3) of said vehicle and a rocker/lever arm (12) comprising a first and second arms (14, 15) configured to be respectively connected to a first and second elements of said steering system (1), said rocker/lever arm (12) further comprising an hub (13) configured to carry said first and second arms (14, 15), said kingpin (19) being configured to carry said hub (13) in a rotatably free manner, wherein said rotatably free connection between said hub (13) with said kingpin (19) comprises a single roller bearing (21).
 
2. Rocker/lever arm assembly according to claim 1, wherein said single bearing (21) is a tapered rolling bearing.
 
3. Rocker/lever arm assembly according to any of claim 1 or 2, wherein said single bearing (21) is a multi-row bearing.
 
4. Rocker/lever arm assembly (7) for a steering system (1) of a vehicle, said rocker/lever arm assembly (7) comprising a fixing element (8) and a kingpin (19), said kingpin (9) being fixedly carried by said fixing element (8) and said fixing element (8) being configured to be connected to a chassis (3) of said vehicle, and a rocker/lever arm (12) comprising a first and second arms (14, 15) configured to be respectively connected to a first and second elements of said steering system (1), said fir rocker/lever arm (12) further comprising an hub (13) configured to carry said first and second arms (14, 15), said kingpin (19) being configured to carry said hub (13) in a rotatably free manner, wherein said rotatably free connection between said hub (13) with said kingpin (19) comprises a sleeve bearing (27).
 
5. Rocker/lever arm assembly according to claim 4, wherein said rotatably free connection comprises two sleeve bearings (27', 27")
 
6. Rocker/lever arm assembly according to claim 4 or 5, wherein said sleeve bearing (27) has a L-shaped cross-section.
 
7. Rocker/lever arm assembly according to any of claim 4 to 6, wherein said sleeve bearing (27) is realized in auto lubricating plastic material.
 
8. Rocker/lever arm assembly according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said hub (13) and said first and second arms (14, 15) are realized as one piece.
 
9. Rocker/lever arm assembly according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising a dust cap (13) and/or sealant means (31) configured to avoid dirty of said rotatably free connection between said hub (13) and said kingpin (19).
 
10. Rocker/lever arm assembly according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising thrust means (24, 26) configured to maintain axially packed said rotatably free connection between said hub (13) and said kingpin (19).
 
11. Steering system (1) for a vehicle comprising at least a first element (4) and at least a second element (5) and a rocker/lever arm assembly (7) fixed to a chassis of said vehicle and made according to any of the preceding claims, said rocker/lever arm assembly (7) torsionally connecting said at least a first element (4) and said at least a second element (5).
 




Drawing


























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