US20080245258A1 - Pressure-balanced electric motor wheel drive for a pipeline tractor - Google Patents

Pressure-balanced electric motor wheel drive for a pipeline tractor Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080245258A1
US20080245258A1 US11/783,195 US78319507A US2008245258A1 US 20080245258 A1 US20080245258 A1 US 20080245258A1 US 78319507 A US78319507 A US 78319507A US 2008245258 A1 US2008245258 A1 US 2008245258A1
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drive wheel
wheel
portion
drive
pressure
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Abandoned
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US11/783,195
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William Herron
Alan A. Waggott
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General Electric Co
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General Electric Co
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Priority to US11/783,195 priority Critical patent/US20080245258A1/en
Assigned to GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY reassignment GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: HERRON, WILLIAM A.
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Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16LPIPES; JOINTS OR FITTINGS FOR PIPES; SUPPORTS FOR PIPES, CABLES OR PROTECTIVE TUBING; MEANS FOR THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16L55/00Devices or appurtenances for use in, or in connection with, pipes or pipe systems
    • F16L55/26Pigs or moles, i.e. devices movable in a pipe or conduit with or without self-contained propulsion means
    • F16L55/28Constructional aspects
    • F16L55/30Constructional aspects of the propulsion means, e.g. towed by cables
    • F16L55/32Constructional aspects of the propulsion means, e.g. towed by cables being self-contained

Abstract

A self-propelled crawler/tractor apparatus is disclosed for traveling through a tubular pipeline while conducting pipeline wall inspection operations and/or towing gear for cleaning, maintenance and the like. The crawler/tractor apparatus is propelled by a plurality of radially positioned motorized traction wheels. Each motorized traction wheel includes a brushless DC electric motor along with clutch, gearbox and other mechanical drive components integrated into a compact self-contained motorized wheel assembly which is sealed and filled with an electrically non-conductive lubricating/cooling oil. The seal integrity at each wheel assembly is maintained against oil leakage and debris ingress by a pressure-balancing mechanism which matches internal oil pressure to the exterior ambient pressure present in the pipeline. The electric motor drive for each traction wheel is individually controlled via an onboard computer to provide a wide range of torque and wheel speeds.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates generally to a mechanical crawler or tractor device capable of traveling through a tubular pipeline and, more specifically, to a compact wheel drive assembly having an embedded electric motor for use in a pipeline tractor device.
  • It is known in the art to cause inspection or cleaning pigs to be propelled through a pipe or tubing under the influence of a pressurized fluid. Conventionally, when inspecting the interior of a pipeline, the flow of the medium being transported is commonly used to drive forward the inspection system. However, if there is no fluid medium present or if there is only a low flow volume then the pipeline can not be traversed using such conventional driving means. In such cases, some sort of powered tractor device must be used to carry or pull the inspection apparatus through the pipeline. Although various types of self-powered tractor devices are known in the prior art, such conventional pipeline crawler devices suffer from one or more drawbacks that often render them unreliable or difficult or impractical to operate. For example, obstacles or irregularities encountered in a pipeline often caused prior art self-propelled pipeline tractor devices to lose traction and become stranded or stuck within the pipeline. Moreover, the drive components and motor systems of conventional pipeline tractors are highly susceptible to contamination and early failure caused by ambient pressure charges and debris often encountered within a pipeline.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • A self-propelled crawler/tractor apparatus is provided for traveling through a tubular pipeline for conducting interior pipeline inspection operations and/or for towing specific apparatus for cleaning, maintenance and the like. The crawler/tractor is propelled by a plurality of independently controlled motorized traction drive wheels each mounted at the end of separate radially extending drive wheel support extension arms that are evenly spaced around the periphery of the outer circumference of a predominantly cylindrical-shaped main chassis. Each drive wheel support extension arm relies on a spring mechanism which operates to urge the motorized drive wheel at the end of the extension arm outward and maintain it in contact with the interior pipeline walls with sufficient contacting force to suspend the tractor main chassis away from the pipeline walls and provide traction for the drive wheel at its contact with the pipeline wall. Alternatively, a hydraulic powered mechanism or other appropriate mechanism could be used to provide a resilient outward urging force at each suspension arm to maintain the tractor drive wheels in contact with the pipeline wall and keep the tractor centered within the pipeline. Electronic monitoring of the rotation and slippage of each individual drive wheel is performed to manage wheel traction and maintain sufficient wheel-to-wall clamping force at each individual motorized wheel to allow the tractor to negotiate diverse pipeline courses and obstacles.
  • Each traction drive wheel assembly includes a compact internal brushless DC electric motor along with a freewheeling Sprague-type clutch mechanism, a harmonic drive reducer gear assembly and other conventional motor and wheel components (e.g., bearings and races, seals, etc.). All of the drive motor components are integrated into a compact self-contained wheel housing and all of the drive wheels are powered from a single on-board battery. Each drive wheel of the tractor is individually controlled via a separate motor drive controller circuit mounted on-board the tractor. The use of separate motor drive controller circuits enables each drive wheel to produce a wide range of torque while individually controlling wheel speed to prevent loss of traction.
  • Each drive wheel assembly is oil-filled and the dc motor, harmonic drive gear and free-wheeling clutch components are continuously maintained in an oil bath environment which provides both lubrication and cooling. The oil-filled interior of the drive wheel also significantly reduces susceptibility of the internal motor and drive components to damage caused by vibrations or trauma and contributes to the overall durability and reliability of the pipeline tractor device. In addition, the oil also serves to insulate ambient pipeline gas from any potential sources of ignition within the motorized drive wheels. Each drive wheel assembly is appropriately outfitted with bearing seals to prevent leakage of the oil and prevent ingress of foreign material and debris into the oil filled interior.
  • In addition, the drive wheels are also provided with a dynamic pressure-balancing mechanism for equalizing pressure differences between the interior oil pressure and exterior ambient pressure. This pressure balancing mechanism ensures that the integrity of the drive wheel bearing seals are preserved despite significant changes in ambient pressure. Maintaining a low pressure differential across the seals between the interior and the exterior of the drive wheel housing prevents oil leakage and prevents pipeline debris from entering into the moving/working parts of the drive wheel motor through the seals. One example implementation of the pressure-balancing mechanism is disclosed that uses a small diaphragm/membrane of flexible material (e.g., polyurethane) mounted within a through-passage or hole in a side wall of the drive wheel. The flexible diaphragm expands or contracts (i.e., deforms) slightly in response to changes in pressure between the interior and the exterior of the drive wheel housing. This expansion/contraction or deformation of the flexible membrane results in changes in the sealed motor housing internal volume that allow the motor housing internal oil pressure to instantly equalize (or at least closely match) changes in the exterior ambient pressure present in the pipeline and, thus, prevents a large pressure differential from building up across seals in the drive wheel that could cause the seals to prematurely fail.
  • One aspect of the non-limiting illustrative example implementation disclosed herein is the provision of a compact and efficient brushless DC electric motor that is housed entirely within the relatively confined space of a pipeline crawler/tractor device wheel.
  • Another aspect of the non-limiting illustrative example implementation of the pipeline crawler/tractor device disclosed herein is the provision of a compact and efficient brushless DC electric motor that is housed entirely within the confines of a wheel of the tractor device and which can be controlled independently of other motorized wheel drives of the tractor device to deliver a high torque even at low rotational velocities.
  • Yet another aspect of the non-limiting illustrative example implementation of the pipeline crawler/tractor device disclosed herein is the provision of multiple drive wheels mounted at the end of a plurality of circumferentially arranged self-adjusting drive wheel support extension arms that produce wheel-to-wall traction and clamping forces at multiple radial points around and along the pipeline inner wall so as to ensure propulsion of the crawler/tractor device in the event of a loss-of-contact or a decrease in traction at any one or more of the individual drive wheels.
  • Yet still another aspect of the non-limiting illustrative example implementation of the pipeline crawler/tractor device disclosed herein is the provision of a drive wheel control system that enhances the ability of the crawler/tractor device to overcome various obstacles and adverse operating conditions which it may encounter within a pipeline. In particular, a drive wheel control system is provided which constantly monitors the speed and traction at each drive wheel to assess wheel slippage and/or detect a non-contacting wheel condition and then automatically proportionately redistributes the available electric drive power to the drive wheels which remain under load having minimal slippage so to maximize the overall traction and drive of the crawler/tractor device.
  • An example non-limiting implementation of the pipeline crawler/tractor device is now described in detail in conjunction with the drawings identified below in which like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a side view of an example self-propelled mechanical tractor device for traveling and pulling other equipment through a tubular pipeline;
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a rear portion of an example pipeline tractor device showing a cut-away view of the control boards housing and showing the drive wheel support extension arms in a collapsed configuration;
  • FIG. 3 is an end view of an example tractor device including both front and rear chassis sections with all drive wheel support extension arms shown in an expanded configuration;
  • FIG. 4A is a detailed sectional view of an example motorized drive wheel assembly mounted at the end of the drive wheel support extension arms;
  • FIG. 4B is a cut-away sectional view showing a dynamic pressure-balancing mechanism mounted in a side wall portion of a motorized drive wheel of the tractor device of FIG. 1 a;
  • FIG. 5 is a multiple motorized wheel motor drive control circuit schematic diagram illustrating an example arrangement for monitoring and individually controlling multiple drive wheel motors in an example pipeline tractor device as shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 6 is a schematic circuit diagram illustrating an example I/O routing signal arrangement for communicating motor control and sensor signal inputs and outputs from a main processor/controller of the tractor device.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • FIGS. 1 through 3 show various views of a non-limiting example implementation of a self-propelled mechanical crawler or tractor device 10 having self-contained motorized traction drive wheels 12 mounted on twelve drive wheel support extension arms that are pivotally attached and circumferentially arranged about the exterior of a basically cylindrically shaped main chassis 1. Alternative drive configurations having fewer or a greater number of circumferentially mounted drive wheel support extension arms with self-contained motor drive wheels are also possible for tractor 10.
  • FIG. 1 presents a side view of tractor device 10 in which only seven of the twelve drive wheel support extension arms with motorized drive wheel assemblies are visible. In this non-limiting illustrative example, tractor device 10 is made up of a modular front and rear chassis section (10 a and 10 b) with each chassis section having six radially arranged support extension arms 11 that each support a drive wheel 12 incorporating an internal brushless dc motor and related drive components (FIG. 4). As shown in FIG. 1, drive wheel extension arms 11 are in an extended configuration. A pressurized air piston or spring mechanism 15 is pivotally mounted between each extension arm and the main chassis cylindrical body portions 10 a and 10 b to urge the drive wheel support extension arm 11 outward from the tractor body so as to produce a strong but self-adjusting wheel-to-pipeline wall clamping force from the tractor chassis at each drive wheel. This arrangement allows the support arms to instantly and individually move and pivot to enable the motorized drive wheel to ride over small obstacles encountered within a pipeline. The radial extension or reach of each support extension arm 11 may also be adjusted by varying the position of a spring support bracket 14 along the chassis body.
  • Each drive wheel 12 rotates about a central axel held in place at the end of support arm 11 by a wheel side bracket portion 13 fixedly attached or formed in an end portion of support arm 11. Each drive wheel 12 contains an internal brushless dc motor that is individually powered and controlled via a power source (e.g., a battery) housed within tractor main chassis 1 or within a marshalling box portion 3 of the main chassis. Motor control and drive wheel monitoring electronics, as well as any pipeline environment sensor and monitor processing electronics, are housed within a marshalling box portion 3 of the main chassis. A wiring harness (not shown) is configured to provide the dc power from the power source and to convey motor control signals from a plurality of individual motor controllers to each individual wheel. It also conveys signals originating from sensors in each drive wheel to individual motor controllers for monitoring various operating conditions and parameters such as wheel rotational velocity, motor temperature, motor current/torque and the like. As discussed below with respect to FIG. 4B, the interior of each drive wheel 12 is also filled with oil to protect the internal dc motor components and a side wall of the wheel is provided with a dynamic pressure-balancing membrane 20 that compensates for pressure differences between the oil-filled interior and exterior ambient pressures.
  • FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of rear chassis section 10 b of tractor 10 in which drive wheel support extension arms 11 are depicted in a collapsed configuration. In the non-limiting example implementation shown in FIG. 2, twelve motor drive controller boards 18 are arranged to fit inside of the tractor chassis housing in marshalling a box portion 3. A main processor/drive controller I/O signal routing board 17 and a plurality of individual wheel motor drive controller boards 18 are shown in cut-away view as being mounted inside the clamshell shaped marshalling box portion 3 of the tractor chassis housing. Each controller board 18 includes a brushless dc motor drive controller chip/circuit such as, for example, conventional dc motor drive controller chips made by Omnirel of Leominster, Mass. Each motor drive controller enables individual precise control of the drive current provided to a single associated wheel drive motor and, consequently, precise control over the amount of torque generated at the drive wheel at any time.
  • FIG. 2 also illustrates an alternative example implementation of an oil pressure balancing system for the oil filled drive wheels which differs from the dynamic pressure-balancing membrane arrangement shown in FIG. 1. In this alternative arrangement, an oil filled piston-type pressure compensator 16 is connected by a network of tubing 19 to each drive wheel. Pressure compensator 16 is sensitive to ambient pressure conditions and automatically adjusts the pressure of oil provided via tubing network 19 at each drive wheel to accommodate ambient pressure changes.
  • FIG. 3 provides an end view of the tractor device shown in FIG. 2 in which all drive wheel support extension arms 11 are depicted in an extended configuration. Six of the twelve drive wheel support extension arm assemblies shown in FIG. 3 correspond to front chassis section 10 a, and six of the drive wheel support extension arm assemblies correspond to rear chassis section 10 b. Front (10 a) and rear (10 b) chassis sections are coupled at a marshalling box housing portion 3. The front set of six drive wheel support extension arms are offset from the rear set of six drive wheel support extension arms such that the set of front drive wheels mounted on chassis section 10 a are not in direct alignment with the rear set of drive wheels mounted on chassis section 10 b. Consequently, the rear set of six drive wheels do not contact the same portions of the pipeline wall or traverse the same ‘footprint’ along the pipeline wall as that of the front set of six drive wheels. This arrangement enhances the tractor's ability to traverse various obstacles and decreases the likelihood of incurring simultaneous slippage at multiple drive wheels.
  • FIG. 4A shows a detailed sectional view of an exemplary motorized drive wheel assembly of the tractor device. Drive wheel assembly shown includes disk-shaped wheel bracket side portions 41 a and 41 b that form an end portion of a drive wheel support extension arm. Wheel bracket side portions 41 a and 41 b support a central axial motor shaft 42 via a set of motor shaft bearings 42 a at axial ends of the motor shaft. Mounted on each wheel bracket side portion 41 a and 41 b is a conventional crossed-roller bearing assembly (43, 44, 45, 46) consisting of crossed-roller bearings 43, an annular inner ring bearing race 44 and an annular outer ring bearing race 45. The outer bearing race 45 portion also includes a set of inner and outer ring lip seals 46 which prevent loss of the cooling and lubricating oil contained within the drive wheel assembly. Crossed-roller bearing arrangements of this type are well known in the art and are readily available from various commercial bearing manufactures such as, for example, IKO Nippon Thompson Co., Ltd or the ALM Company of Westbury, N.Y.
  • The crossed-roller bearing assembly (43, 44, 45, 46) supports a drive wheel tire and hub assembly having a hub 47 portion and an external tire portion 48 which is caused to rotate when engaged by a motor clutch mechanism 49. The internal DC motor includes stator portions 50 that are secured to wheel bracket portions 41 b and motor armature portions 51 that are secured to motor shaft 42 and a harmonic drive reducing gear mechanism 52. A free-wheeling Sprague-type clutch mechanism 49 is attached to harmonic drive mechanism 52 and to drive wheel hub portion 47. When an electrical drive current is provided to the dc motor stator portions 50, the armature portions 51 rotate causing rotation of motor shaft 50 and harmonic drive mechanism 52. At an appropriate motor shaft rotational speed, harmonic drive mechanism 52 will cause clutch mechanism 49 to engage drive wheel hub 47 and impart a driving torque to the tractor drive wheel in conventional fashion.
  • FIG. 4B shows a cut-away view of an example dynamic pressure-balancing membrane 20 mounted in a cylindrical passage in a side wall portion 41 of each of the motorized drive wheel assemblies 12. Membrane 20 may be fabricated from any resilient, flexible, oil resistant material such as polyurethane or other suitable rubber or plastic. A retaining ring 21 or other suitable mechanism is used to hold membrane 20 in place and prevent leakage of oil from the interior of wheel 12. As ambient pressure on an exterior exposed side 22 of membrane 20 changes with respect to the oil-filled interior 23 of the drive wheel housing, membrane 20 will flex either inward or outward causing the pressure differential between the interior and the exterior of the wheel housing to decrease. This helps to maintain the integrity of the wheel housing oil seals, such as crossed-roller bearing lip seals 46. The resulting lower pressure differential between the interior and the exterior of the wheel housing prevents the wheel housing oil seals from leaking oil and prevents an ingress of foreign contaminants/materials into the wheel housing interior.
  • In FIG. 5, a schematic diagram is shown which illustrates an example motorized wheel motor drive control circuit for individually controlling multiple drive wheel motors in the tractor device and for monitoring various operation and condition signals supplied by each wheel motor or associated individual drive wheel motor controller. The motorized wheel motor drive control circuit connects a main processor/controller on a chassis mounted controller board (17) with individual motor drive controller chip/circuits (18) associated to each motorized drive. The schematic signal diagram of FIG. 5 also illustrates example power connections and sensor and control signal paths for the drive wheel motors and their associated individual motor controllers. In the disclosed example implementation, each motorized drive wheel controller of FIG. 5 receives an individually tailored torque command signal from the main processor for precisely controlling the amount of electrical drive current delivered to each associated motorized drive wheel by the on board dc power source. Each motorized drive wheel controller of FIG. 5 comprises an integrated circuit/chip such as, for example, the OMC507 or OMC510 drive controller made by Omnirel of Leominster, Mass. Alternatively, any other similarly functioning dc motor controller device may also be used. These type of integrated dc motor drive controller devices/circuits typically include electronic components for responding to specific motor command signals provided by a separate control processor or from some command signal source. Each drive wheel controller responds to specific predetermined command signals by appropriately controlling the electrical current/power delivered to its associated drive wheel motor.
  • Each drive controller board/circuit may typically also include other components such as a current modulation controller circuit, a three-phase output power stage, an on-board current sense resistor, a motor bus capacitor and/or other motor control, feedback, and communication electronics. For example, in the example implementation shown in FIG. 2, each motor drive controller board 18 includes a controller board/circuit of the type described above that communicates with main processor drive controller 17 via a bus/wiring harness (not shown) mounted within each front and rear tractor chassis body housing portion. The bus/wiring harness electrically connects the wheel motors, the wheel controller boards and the main processor drive controller to provide communications and power and may also include signal lines for specific drive command signals, individual drive motor temperature sensor signals, motor speed and drive current feedback signals, as well as additional external sensor signals from one or more tractor mounted pipeline environment sensing/detection devices.
  • In the presently disclosed example implementation, a drive motor current feedback signal is provided from sensors in the dc motor of each motorized drive wheel. This signal is monitored by a main processor/drive controller which also monitors signals from each drive wheel and their associated motor controller boards 18. Each drive wheel dc motor is also provided with conventional hall effect type sensors that provide feedback signals to their associated motor controller boards which are indicative of the current rotational speed of the associated motorized drive wheel. In addition, each motorized drive wheel dc motor is provided with an internal temperature sensor that is monitored by the main processor/ drive controller board for controlling the drive motor current in a manner that will prevent overheating.
  • FIG. 6 shows an example main processor/drive controller board and I/O signal routing board schematic circuit arrangement for communicating motor command/control signals and receiving analog sensor signal inputs from drive motors and other environmental sensor devices that may be mounted on the chassis of the tractor device. The main processor/drive controller board includes a conventional CPU/controller circuit or chip along with a RAM memory and a Flash ROM memory containing a predetermined control program for instructing the CPU/controller to issue motor control commands to the individual drive motor controllers and to monitor motor speed, current and temperature as well as signals from any environment/condition sensor devices mounted on the tractor device. The I/O board may also include conventional opto-coupler devices for converting digital electrical I/O signals to and from the main processor to digital optical signals for reducing the susceptibility to ambient electrical noise of, for example, the motor command/control signals provided to each drive motor controller. In this case, the wiring harness would also necessarily include fiber optics for carrying the optical signals and each motor controller board would also include an opto-coupler for conversion back to electrical signals.
  • While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiment, but on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

Claims (13)

1. A self-propelled tractor device capable of traveling within a tubular pipeline, comprising:
a cylindrical-shaped chassis portion;
a plurality of motorized drive wheels, each motorized drive wheel having a pair of side wall portions and an outer hub portion which together form a wheel housing and each drive wheel further including a brushless dc electric motor configured inside said wheel housing; and
a plurality of wheel support extension arms radially positioned around a central axis of the chassis portion, each wheel support extension arm being pivotally attached to the chassis at one end and having a motorized drive wheel attached at an opposite end, each wheel support extension arm having an associated mechanism attached between a portion of the support arm and the chassis for urging the motorized drive wheel end of the support arm away from the chassis for maintaining the motorized drive wheel in contact with an interior wall portion of said tubular pipeline.
2. The tractor device of claim 1 wherein a motor shaft portion of the electric motor serves as an axel of the motorized drive wheel, an armature portion of the electric motor being coupled to said motor shaft and a stator portion of the electric motor being fixedly attached to one or more drive wheel side wall portions, and wherein said motor shaft is supported at either end between the pair of drive wheel side wall portions via a set of motor shaft bearings.
3. The tractor device of claim 1 wherein the drive wheel housing is filled with a fluid and at least one side wall portion of the housing incorporates at least one pressure-balancing mechanism comprising a flexible membrane diaphragm.
4. The tractor device of claim 3 wherein the fluid is an electrically non-conductive lubricating oil.
5. The tractor device of claim 1 wherein said outer hub portion of the drive wheel housing is supported for rotation about said pair of drive wheel side wall portions via a crossed-roller bearing assembly.
6. The tractor device of claim 1 wherein said outer hub portion of the drive wheel housing includes an outer tire portion.
7. The tractor device of claim 1 wherein said motorized drive wheel includes a one-way Sprague-type clutch mechanism and a harmonic reduction drive gearbox.
8. The tractor device of claim 1 having at least six radially positioned drive wheel support extension arms, each drive wheel support extension arm supporting a motorized drive wheel assembly.
9. The tractor device of claim 1 wherein the chassis portion comprises a front chassis portion and a rear chassis portion, each chassis portion having at least six radially positioned drive wheel support extension arms supporting a motorized drive wheel assembly, and wherein drive wheel support extension arms attached to said rear chassis portion are angularly displaced with respect to drive wheel support extension arms attached to said front chassis portion.
10. A self-contained motorized drive wheel for a pipeline tractor device, comprising:
an oil-filled wheel motor housing containing a brushless dc electric motor and having at least one integral pressure-balancing mechanism, said housing comprising an outer cylindrical hub and tire assembly, a wheel left-side wall portion and a wheel right-side wall portion;
wherein the electric motor and other associated mechanical wheel drive components are maintained in an oil-bath within the oil-filled housing, and wherein pressure differences between the housing interior oil pressure and an exterior ambient pressure are reduced by the pressure-balancing mechanism.
11. A drive wheel as set forth in claim 10 wherein the pressure-balancing mechanism comprises a flexible membrane diaphragm fitted into a side wall potion of the wheel housing.
12. A drive wheel as set forth in claim 10 wherein the pressure-balancing mechanism comprises a pressure compensator device connected by a network of tubing to each oil-filled drive wheel.
13. A drive wheel as set forth in claim 10 wherein said associated mechanical wheel drive components include a one-way free-wheeling clutch mechanism and a harmonic reduction drive gearbox contained within the oil-filled wheel housing.
US11/783,195 2007-04-06 2007-04-06 Pressure-balanced electric motor wheel drive for a pipeline tractor Abandoned US20080245258A1 (en)

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