"Aircraft tyre stillage"
Cross-Reference to Related Applications
The present application claims priority from Australian Provisional Patent Application No 2008903348 filed on 30 June 2008, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference.
Introduction to the Invention
This invention relates to stillage including pallets and other cage or storage devices and in particular relates to a stillage designed for the storage and manipulation of large wheels including aircraft tyred wheels.
Background to Invention
The routine handling, maintenance, storage and manipulation of large wheels including wheels of the type used on aircraft present a logistic and handling problem particularly in the case of aircraft wheels which are physically large and heavy requiring care in the handling thereof to avoid personal injury. However, the very nature of aircraft wheels requires storage and movement on a frequent basis from the point of manufacture to the point of temporary storage and finally to the point of movement to aircraft for installation thereto. To date the only available equipment for handling these large and potentially dangerous wheels are dedicated wheel/tyre changers in the form of a very basic wheeled trolley adapted for mounting an aircraft tyred wheel for short distance movement and lifting onto an aircraft. These wheel changers incorporate a jacking system allowing the wheel to be rolled about to the required position and raised to the required height for fitting to an aircraft. Such wheel changers have been available for many years but only provide a very basic jigs requiring the lifting and positioning of a wheel by manual operation onto the jig and providing limited assistance for the movement positioning and storage of such wheels.
Currently aircraft wheels are manufactured and provided to a customer either stacked horizontally or possibly vertically. The wheels then have to be manhandled and separately stored by resting on their sides or leaning against one another in adhoc storage racks. Some airports are equipped with forklifts fitted with rotating grabs to facilitate changing wheel position from horizontal to vertical while in all other locations this operation is performed manually. Such storage of aircraft wheels risks damage to personnel during the handling operations thereof, can result in "flats" on the tyres during extended storage and can represent particularly hazardous situations during
the removal and manipulation thereof where the wheels have to be taken out of storage and physically positioned on to the previously described tyre changers.
One object of the invention is to provide an improved stillage or handling device to assist in the storage and manipulation of aircraft tyred wheels and other products of a similar description.
Statement of Invention
In a first aspect the invention provides a stillage for aircraft tyred wheels hereinafter called "wheels" and the like, comprising a chassis having a footprint adapted to accommodate one or a plurality of said wheels mounted in a substantially vertical orientation, said chassis including at least one tyre seat formed in the general curvature of said wheel and positioned at or near the floor of said chassis for receiving said wheel, at least one folding arm cooperating with said chassis being movable between a first open position allowing free placement and removal of said wheel from the stillage and a second closed position engaging said wheel and locking same to said stillage wherein said stillage includes transverse access cavities positioned either side of said wheel between said mounted wheel and said chassis floor sufficient to accommodate a tyred wheel changing and lifting jig, such that said jig and stillage can cooperate to allow said wheels to be fitted to and removed from said stillage by use of said jig alone.
The access cavities preferably include sufficient clearance to allow said lifting jig to introduce said wheel to the empty stillage and lower said wheel onto said tyre seat and subsequently retract from said stillage leaving said wheel on said stillage.
The chassis may include raised sides incorporating transverse angled braces at either end angled to be generally tangential to said mounted wheel. The braces may be gusseted and include pivotal fittings for said folding arm or arms. The stillage preferably includes two folding arms fitted at either end of the chassis which fold inwardly to said second position and embrace said mounted wheel. The dual folding arms are preferably held in said second closed position by a locking strap adapted to draw said folding arms over said mounted wheel and tension same about the tyre of said wheel.
The tyre seat is preferably provided as a dual platform for cradling the tyre of said wheel in two places and each platform may be pivotable to accommodate different sized tyre/wheel combinations.
. The chassis may optionally include transverse and longitudinal mounting access cavities adapted for receiving forklift tynes or the like, and optionally, longitudinal access cavity for receiving hand trolley tynes.
Each folding arm preferably includes two uprights and a transverse bar forming a general inverted U shape. The uprights may include elbows between the pivot point and the transverse crossing bar to provide lateral, transverse and vertical capture of said wheel. The folding arms may also include transverse straps positioned at or near said elbow regions.
The chassis may also include integral stowage for a stillage cover means. The stowage is preferably positioned within the confines of said gusseted brace.
The invention will now be described with reference to one particular embodiment as shown in Figures 1 to 8 and the accompanying legend. Figure 1 shows a front view of the stillage with tyred wheel fitted;
Figure 2 shows a perspective view of the stillage with mounted wheel covered;
Figure 3 shows the empty stillage in relation to a tyred wheel changing jig;
Figure 4 shows the jig fitting a tyred wheel to the stillage;
Figure 5 shows the stillage arms closing to engage the mounted wheel; Figure 6 shows the jig retracting to leave the wheel mounted and covered on the stillage;
Figure 7 shows a hand trolley used to move the stillage and mounted wheel;
Figure 8 shows the forklift options for moving the stillage.
2. Tyred wheel
3. Tyre seat 4. Chassis floor
5. Folding arm
7. Transverse access cavities
8. Wheel changing and lifting jig 9. Angled braces
11. Locking strap
12. Transverse jig rail access
13. Longitudinal forklift mounting access
14. Longitudinal trolley mounting access 15. Elbows
16. Transverse crossing bar
17. Transverse straps
19. Stillage cover 20. Cover net
21. Lifting facility
22. Hand Trolley
23. Forklift tyne
24. Jig rails 25. Wheel lifting tynes
26. Rubber lining
27. Transverse forklift mounting access
Referring firstly to Figures 1 and 2 a particularly preferred embodiment of the stillage of the invention is shown in front and perspective views where the stillage of the invention is shown as adapted for storage holding and manipulation of an aircraft tyred wheel, hereinafter referred to as a "wheel". The stillage comprises a chassis 1 of generally open formation having a footprint conforming to the size of an aircraft wheel. The footprint shown in the particularly preferred embodiment as detailed in the figures is suitable for storage handling and manipulation of a single aircraft wheel but other embodiments are included in the scope of the invention with the option of handling multiple wheel sets in one stillage unit.
The chassis is particularly adapted for holding or mounting an aircraft wheel 2 in a vertical orientation with the chassis 1 including one, or in the case of the currently detailed embodiment, two independently positioned tyre seats 3. The tyre seats are formed to include a general curved surface fitted with a rubber lining 26 or lining of other suitable compliant material adapted to snugly receive the tyre surface of a mounted wheel in a manner so as to accommodate variations in the tyre diameter and also provide a measure of frictional grip as the tyre sits on the tyre seats. The chassis 1 of the stillage includes two generally vertically orientated folding arms 5 pivoted at position 6 on the chassis 1. The folding arms are adapted for movement around the
pivot points 6 from a first open position with the folded arms being folded back or away from the confines of the stillage and the second closed position with the arms being folded inward toward the confines of the stillage about the pivot point 6 so as to capture and securely hold and mount a wheel 2 fitted to the stillage. The arms are of a generally inverted U shape including twin uprights joined by a transverse crossing bar 16.
In this manner the stillage with the arms opened in the first position is adapted to freely receive an aircraft wheel and with the folding of the arms to the second closed position, the wheel can be securely mounted and held firmly in the stillage ready for storage or free movement and manipulation by way of a forklift, hand trolley or other moving device designed for the movement of heavy goods. The chosen moving device can freely and readily cooperate with the chassis 1 and thereby provide secure, safe, reliable and precise movement of aircraft wheels. In addition, the stillage of the invention provides minimal additional bulk to the wheel itself and can be provided with a wheel or stillage cover 19 so as to provide adequate protection for the efficient and long term storage of aircraft wheels as detailed in Figure 2.
Referring now to Figures 3, 4, 5 and 6 the loading of the stillage can be seen in Figure 3 showing the aircraft wheel 2 being positioned on a wheel changing and lifting jig 8 with the wheel height being controlled by a lifting facility 21 including wheel lifting tynes 25. The wheel changing jig allows the wheel to be moved in restricted ways and is envisaged to be used for moving the wheel onto the stillage where the wheel changing jig is rolled forward so as to engage with the stillage in a manner whereby the wheel lifting tynes 25 and the jig rails 24 traverse the stillage chassis 1 with the wheel lifting tynes 25 entering the transverse access cavity 7 of the chassis positioned between the chassis and the tyre seats 3 and the jig rails 24 traversing the access or the transverse mounting access mounting points 4 of the chassis. In this manner, the wheel changing jig can transfer the wheel 2 so as to suspend the wheel within the confines of the chassis 1 and above the tyre seats 3 wherein the lift mechanism 21 can be lowered allowing the wheel 2 to sit and be fully supported by the tyre seats 3 whereupon further lowering of the lift 21 allows the wheel lifting tynes 25 to be released from the wheel thereby facilitating withdrawal of the wheel changing jig and leaving the wheel 2 suspended on the cradle formation provided by the tyre seats 3 as shown in Figures 4 and 5. Once the wheel has been positioned on the stillage as shown in Figure 4, the folding arms 5 can be folded to the second position where the elbow regions 15 of the locking arms fully engage the tyre with the assistance of transverse straps 17 and the transverse bar 16. Once the folding arms are moved to the
second locking position they can be snugly held in close contact with the wheel by way of the locking strap 11 thereby fully securing the wheel to the stillage as shown in Figure 5. Once the wheel has been fully secured and mounted to the stillage the wheel changing jig can be safely removed and a wheel stillage cover 19 fitted over the wheel and the stillage so as to provide full protection.
Referring now to Figures 7 and 8, two options for moving the mounted wheel when fitted to the stillage are shown with Figure 7 providing an example of the movement of the stillage with a hand trolley 22 where the tynes of the hand trolley are adapted to cooperate with longitudinal trolley mounting access points 14 provided in the chassis. Figure 8 shows alternative handling arrangements where forklift tynes 23 are adapted to cooperate with longitudinal mounting access points 13 formed in the chassis or alternatively transverse jig rail access points 12.
In order to provide additional stability and support the chassis as shown in figure 2 is provided with tangentially positioned braces 9 at either side which are adapted to provide additional support, particularly by way of gussets 10 such that any movement of the mounted wheel forward and aft would be caught and secured by the tangentially positioned braces 9. The protective cover 19 can be conveniently stowed in the cavity 18 provided by the gusseted brace 9 and held in place by a cover net 20.
In use, the stillage of the invention provides a highly versatile, compact and reliable means of storing, moving, holding and manipulating large and awkward items of the type described by way of an example of an aircraft wheel. The stillage of the invention is compact enough to provide housing and movement of the aircraft wheel from the point of manufacture through to delivery to the customer, storage for the customer and finally manipulation and movement by the customer to the point of use. In this manner, the requirement for dangerous and awkward storage and movement of aircraft wheels is completely avoided and in fact the manhandling of aircraft wheels once the products leave the manufacturing plant is almost completely eliminated as the combined use of the stillage of the invention and the available and currently used wheel changing jigs virtually eliminates any man handling of these potentially dangerous goods.
It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.