Automatic locking system for coupling a shipping container to a vehicle frame or the like



Nov. 19, 1963 R. T. FUJIOKA E'rAL 3,111,341 AUTOMATIC LOCKING SYSTEM FOR couPLING A SHIPPING CONTAINER T0 A VEHICLE FRAME OR THE LIKE Filed April 2, 1962 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 R. T. FUJIOKA ETAL Nov. 19, 1963 AUTOMATIC LOCKING SYSTEM FOR COUPLING A SHIPPIN CONTAINER TO A VEHICLE FRAME 0R THE LIKE Filed April 2, 1962 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Nov. 19, 1963 R. T. FUJloKA ETAL 3,111,341 AUTOMATIC LOCKING sYsTEM EOE COUPLINC A SHIPPING CONTAINER TO A VEHICLE FRAME OR TEE LIKE 4 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed April 2, 1962 Nov. 19, 1963 R. T. FUJloKA ETAL 3,111,341 AUTOMATIC LOCKING SYSTEM FOR COUPLING A SHIPPING CONTAINER TO A VEHICLE FRAME OR THE LIKE Filed April 2, 1962 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 @l/Lgf@ /777'0/7/VEV5. United States Patent O llldl AUTQMATlC LGCKNG SYSEEM EUR CQUPMNG A SHEEPENG lCNTAlNER T A i/EliCLE FRAME @R Tlc@ LiKE i1 Fciioira, ord, and .lohn W. Harper, Betroit, lvlich., assignors to Fruehau Corporation, a corporation of hflieiiigan Filed Apr. 2, 1962, Ser. No. 134,633 1 Claim. (Cl. 296-35) This invention relates generally to shipping apparatus iand more particularly to a novel system tor automatically coupling a shipping container to ya vehicle trarne or the like. The advent of the modular scalable shipping container of the type disclosed in application Serial No. 112,635, filed May 25, i961, for Shipping Apparatus, and assigned to the assignee of the present invention, has greatly speed'ed up the shipment oi goods since standardized handling equipment can be utilized tor the transfer or" the container. However, the widespread use of such containers has pointed up centain deficiencies in the available vhandling equipment. More particularly, lthere is a need for an improved -means for coupling the containers to a vehicle frame, the deck of a ship, a loading dock, or to other container `supporting structures. One fundamental requirement of a mechanism for coupling a shipping container to a supporting structure is that it be automatically operable to the locked condition lso that, upon inadventent miscoupling of the container to the supporting structure, vibration, inertia forces, or the weight of the shipping container itself, is sulficient to eiiect coupling of the container to a supporting structure. Further, a coupling system for a shipping container must be capable of withstanding the large shear loads to which it is subjected due to, for example, rapid acceleration or deceleration of the supporting structure. Also, a coupling system should be relatively simple in operation so as to be operable by a single control which concomitantly etects locking and unlocking of each of a plurality of locks between the `shipping container and supporting structure. The aforementioned requirements of a system for conpling ia shipping container to `a supporting structure are fulfilled to -a heretofore unknown degree by the coupling system or" the instant invention. ln accordance with the instant invention, a plurality of pyramid-shaped locks are `oriented in a generally rectangular array on the supporting structure. The pyramid locks are interconnected for both concomitant 'and independent rotation labout vertically directed axes. The pyramid locks cooperate with complementary recesses and apertures in a shipping container to etl'ect coupling thereof to a supporting structure. Accordingly, one object of the instant invention is m improved system for coupling a Icontainer to a supporting structure. Another object is an automatic coupling system for a shipping container. Another object is a coupling system including a lock that is self-aligning with 4a complementary aperture in a shipping container. Another object is a coupling syste-m for -a shipping container wherein locks are individually rotatable -to a locked condition upon engagement with a shipping container. Another object `is a lock system for a shipping container wherein the locks are concomitantly rotatable to an unlocked condition by a single manual operator. Other objects and advantages `of the instant invention CFI v3,1 l ldl Patented Nov. 19, 1963 will be .apparent in the following specification, claim and drawings, wherein: FIGURE l is a perspective View of a coupling system in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the instant invention shown in operative association with -a vehicle frame; FIG. 2 is a top View fof the lock system taken in the duection of the arrow 2 of FGURE l; FlG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary View taken within the area of the circle 3 of FIG. 2 and with the lock and manual operator rotated to the locked condition; FIG. 4 is a cross sectional View taken substantially along .the line 4 4 of FlG. 3; FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional View tak-en substantially along the line 5--5 of FIG. 3; FlG. 6 is a top View of `a pyramid lock in Ithe readyto-couple condition taken substantially along the line 6*6 of PEG. 2; FlG. 7 is a cross-sectional view along the line '7 7 of FIG. 6; FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional vieiw lalong the line 3 8 of llG. 6; and FiG. 9 is -a cross-sectional view with the pyramid lock rotated to the looked condition. As best seen in FIGURE l or" the drawings, a coupling system 29, in accordance lwith `an exemplary constructed embodiment of the present invention, comprises a plurality of pyramid locks 22, 243, and 2S arranged in a generally rectangular array `on a vehicle frame Sil. The frame 3o comprises a pair of longitudinal trame members 32 and 31!x with longitudinallyl spaced cross members 36, 3S, liti, 42, dal `and 4.6 thereon. The frame 39 is supported by a conventional wheel suspension Sil and landing gear S2. lt is to be understood that the frame 39 is exemplary .of a supporting structure for a shipping container oil, rshown in phantom lines in FlGURE l. The frame may Itake other for-ms, lfor example, a railway car or a complementary platform on a ship, loading dock, airplane, or other transportation device. As best seen in HG. 2 or the drawings, the pyramid locks 22, 24, 26 and 23 are supported for rotation about generally parallel vertical axes by pins Se, 32, S4 and 85, respectively. Rotation of the pyramid locks 22, 24, 26 and 28 is effected by a plurality of operating arms 9i), 92, 9e'- iand 9o that 'are coupled to the lower ends of the shafts 81"?, 82, 84 land S5, respectively. i rlille arms Sill, 92, 94 and 96 are normally biased counterclockwise, as seen in FIG. 2 by a plurality of helical tension springs lili?, 102, led, and M56, respectively, that are secured to complementary hooks on the frame 3G. The pyramid locks 22, 24, 2o `and 2,3 are thus normaliy individu-ally biased to the locked condition as best `seen in FlG. 3. The pyramid locks 22, 24, Z6 and 2;3 are movable to Ithe unlocked condition, shown in FlG. 2, by -a manual operator that is supported for rotation with respect to the frame 3d by a pin lli that extends through the operator llt) and a complementary support bracket 114 that is ysecured to the frame Si?, as by Welding. Rotation of the operator liti is transmitted to the lock 22 by a exible cable i2@ that is secured to an end portion 122 of the operator lill and to the arm i'l on the lower end ofthe support shaft Si? of the pyramid lock 2.2A Rotation of :the operator il@ is transmitted to the arm 92 by a lexible cable F.2d which is also attached to the outer end portion 122 of the manu-al operator 1li). As best seen in FIGS. 2 and 4, the manual operator 1li) has a crank portion iw secured thereto, as by `welding, and rotatable therewith about the pin 1.12. The crank 136 is coupled to an operating rod 132, as by a pin 134, the rod 132 being connected to an arm portion taken substantially taken substantially similar to FIG. 8- 3 135 of a ibellcranlr lite at the opposite end of the 'frame member 134. The cnank 136 is supported for rotation by a pin ld that extends through a suitable bracket llll lon the trarne member An `arm 142 of the bellcrank 136 is coupled to the arm 94 of pyramid lock 26 as -by a flexible cable l5@ and Ito the arm 96 of the pyramid lock 23 fas by Ia cable 152. Thu-s, -it will be seen that, upon counterclocltwise rotation of the manual operator ll, the pyramid locks 22, 24, 26 and 28 are concomitantly biased clockwise to the unlocked condition, shown in FIG. 2, against the nor-mal bias of the springs lt'i, EQ2, lil-fl and lilo. As will be discussed in greater detail, the ilexible cables 12d, 124, 150 and l52 accommodate individual rotation of the pyramid locks 22, 24, 26 and 2E, respectively, to the unlocked condition shown in HG. 2 due to, for example, the Weight of a container. As best seen in PEG. oi the dravvings, the pyramid lock 24, which is exemplary oi the locks 22, 2d and 26, comprises a head portion lod having upwardly convergent side walls r62 and lod terminating in a generally rectangular top face lo. Opposite end portions tlo and 17o of the head le@ are or" upwardly convergent conical section terminating `in tne generally ilat upper top tace 166. The head loi) of the pyramid lool; 24 has a vertically extending edge face i372 which extends around the lower periphery thereor. The pyramid lock 24- is supported for rota ion with respect to an underlying shear block 2h36, of like horizontal cross section, by the pin S2. The pin 32 is secured to the head portion of the pyramid lock 24 by, for example, a ypin 1373, the pin 32 extending through a complementary bushing lilo that is received in an aperture ltl in the shear bloclf. 2%. A lower end lportion 110 of the pin 82 is received in a hub portion -ll2 of the operating arm 92. As best seen in FIGS. 6 through 9, the container 69 is provided with a plurality of apertures o in a generally rectangular array complementary to the orientation of rthe pyramid locks 22, 24, 26, and 2S. Por the purpose of clarity, yonly one of the apertures 2S@ will be described, it being understood that it is exemplary of the apertures ,and 4associated `structures at the other corners of the shipping container 6i?. As best seen in PEG. 6, the aperture .2S-Cr extends verfticaly upwardly `from a bottom face 252 of fthe container 60 and terminates in a recess 254 of similar cross-section, |but of relatively larger dimensions than the aperture 25h. The recess 254 has yan upper or top wall 256 spaced vertically from the bottom face 252 of the container for the accommodation of the head vloll of the lock 24. ".As best seen in FIG. 7, the head l16o of the lock Z4 is receivable Within the aperture 25@ in the container 66 when the head 160 is rotated to What may be termed the aligned condition shown in FTG. 2. Rotation of the head 160 to an aligned condition is effected either by rotation of the manual operator il@ in the countercloclewise direction or, by engagement or the container 6d with 'the truncated conical side walls 162, 164i, 5llt land i7@ of the head loi), which cams the head lo@ in the clockwise direction. It is to be noted that lthe shear block Zilli is of ya Vertical dimension complementary to the vertical dimensions of the aperture 250 so that, upon movement of the head portion 160 into the recess 254 in the container 60, the shear block Zilli is horizontally aligned with the side walls of the laperture 250 and the head 169 is rotatable under the bias of the operating spring 162 to position a lower d edge face 2cd thereof over a horizontally extending shoulder 262 between the recess 25d yand aperture 25h. Thus, it will be seen that, upon rotation of the head le@ of the 'lock 24 to the position lshown in FIGS. 3 and 9, horizontal movement of the container oil with respect to the lock 24 is precluded. The locks 22, 2e, 2o and 28 me rotated to the aligned condition to facilitate disengagement .of the container all from the frame or supporting structure 3@ by rotation of the manual operator llt? co'untercloclczvise, as ldiscussed hereinbefore. It is to be noted that the locks 22, 24, 26 yand 23 Iare constantly biased toward the locked condition by the springs llll, W2, 161iand lilo. This facilitates automatic coupling of the container ont to the frame 3l) when, for example, one or more of the locks 22, 24, 26 and 218 are properly coupled within their complement-ary recesses .in the container oil, but others of the locks are not properly seated with respect yto the container 6i?. When this condition obtains, the weight of lthe container o@ tends to rotate Ieach miscoupled lock clockwise 'against the bias of its associated operating spring, which rotation is accommodated by the flexible cable extending between its yassociated operating arm Land the manual operator llt. Upon rotation of the head portion lo@ of each mis- `coupled lock into fthe aligned condition with respect to its associated aperture 253, the Weight of the container oil, inertia forces, or vibration tends to move the container ott downwardly so that the head port-ion loll yof the lock is rotatable relative to the shear block 2d@ thereof to the coupled condition under the bias of its associated operating spring. It is also to be noted that the shaft S2 supporting the head portion 169 of each of the locks is not subjected to bending stress due to shear forces between the container' and fthe trarne Si?. Such shear forces are accepted by .the shear blocks Zilli, the head lo@ associated therewith functioning solely to preclude vertical disassociation o the container 6b from the frame Se, until desired. lt is to be understood that the specic construction of the improved automatic llocking system for coupling a shipping `container to a vehicle frame or the like herein disclosed land `descr-ibed is presented for the purpose of explanation and illustration and is not intended to indicate limits `of the invention, the `scope of Which is defined by the following claim. What is claimed is: A locking system for coupling la shipping container having a lplurality of apertures on a bottom surface thereof with enlarged recesses therebehiod, respectively, to a. frame, said `system comprising a plurality of pyramid locks on the fname `disposed in a lspaced yarray complementary to the apertures in said container land acceptable therein, each of said locks having a pyramid head portion, resilient means normally independently biasing the head portion to a lock condition, and means coupled to said locks for concomitantly rotating the head portion thereof to an uncoupled condition, said rotating means including a lost motion :connection 'to the head portion or" said lock whereby lthe head portion is rotatable to the uncoupled condition against the bias of said resilient means due to the weight of the container. References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,875,768 Smith Sept. 6, 1932 2,053,969 Olds Sept. 8, 1936 2,703,659 Hutchins Mar. 8, 1955 2,963,310 Abolius Dec. 6, 1,96@



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    US-3188042-AJune 08, 1965Clark Equipment CoApparatus for handling freight containers
    US-3193238-AJuly 06, 1965Pullman IncContainer locking device and assemblies
    US-3317219-AMay 02, 1967Hindin Eugene, Levitt Semond, Abolins AndrewVehicle formed by coupleable containers with demountable adapter frames
    US-3317236-AMay 02, 1967Edwin B Connerat, Eyler DenverFastening means for shipping containers
    US-3321214-AMay 23, 1967Fruehauf CorpCoupled trailer chassis
    US-3363803-AJanuary 16, 1968Strick CorpCorner member for van size cargo container
    US-3438671-AApril 15, 1969Strick CorpAdapter frame with twist locks for removable attachment to a cargo container
    US-3464719-ASeptember 02, 1969Fruehauf CorpBolster locking head for securing semi-trailer to tractor fifth wheel
    US-3471048-AOctober 07, 1969Mikko TerhoDevice for loading a transport box on a lorry and unloading the same
    US-3520558-AJuly 14, 1970Fruehauf CorpSemitrailer and tractor fifth wheel
    US-3575444-AApril 20, 1971James Veenema, Fred Muller Jr, John A JohnsonSemitrailer dolly and tracking trailer for freight containers
    US-3593387-AJuly 20, 1971Jost Werke GmbhArticle-securing device
    US-3614153-AOctober 19, 1971Fruehauf CorpUniversal trailer chassis
    US-3817570-AJune 18, 1974Hennessy ProductsTransport carrier and container securing structure
    US-3894493-AJuly 15, 1975Peck & HaleStacker key locking device
    US-3934740-AJanuary 27, 1976Rumell James ATransport vehicle with tiltable chassis
    US-4049135-ASeptember 20, 1977Pullman IncorporatedContainer handling arrangement with chassis adapter frame
    US-4776736-AOctober 11, 1988Portec, Inc.Twin container hold down
    US-4922832-AMay 08, 1990Strick Corporation, Usines Et Acieries De Sambre Et MeuseIntermodal road/rail transportation system
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    US-5356249-AOctober 18, 1994Buffers AbAutomatic securing system for locking and unlocking a freight container to a load carrier
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