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Specialist hardware for specialist vehicles

Author : Andy Billingham, Managing Director – EMKA (UK) Ltd

17 April 2019

Hardware for specialist vehicles including rail carriages, buses, coaches, horseboxes, caravans, motorhomes, fire trucks and other emergency/rescue vehicles, even gondoliers on public “eye” type Ferris wheels, all have many special needs in common.

- High IP requirement IP65, IP66, IP67

- Anti-vibration characteristics needed

- Anti-vandal

- Anti-corrosion

- Visual indicators often needed

- Toughness for extended rough use

- Survive washdown environments

- Fire resistance, e.g. gaskets

Gasket sealing of doors, panels and windows for specialist vehicles is usually achieved with moulded sealing strips to match the functions commonly found on special or custom build road and rail vehicles, i.e. glazing profiles, self-gripping, fire protection, EMC shielding, edge protection and tank support bands. 

Glazing profiles in EPDM usually feature a conventional locking strip to ensure secure location. Self-gripping P type and blade/wiping sections are available in EPDM or NBR to appropriate UL standards. Of particular note are the fire protecting sections in EPDM and silicon covering many different national fire protection standards including DIN, NF, CEN, UNI, ASTM and SMP and of especial relevance to railway installations.

PVC and EPDM edge protection in a variety of forms serve to protect users from sharp edges and metalwork from collateral damage, where doors and panels are closed onto painted services. Similarly, EPDM tank band support sections provide cushioning protection between tanks for diesel, water, hydraulic oil etc. and their mounting straps to ensure integrity of the installation.

Rail industry conformity may be further addressed by use of a fire protection gasket sealing profile such as 1011-05-FR01 in the knowledge that there are no other vulnerabilities. Clip on P type profiles with spring steel spines and other designs in PVC, neoprene, silicone, EPDM and NBR allow production to FDA, EHEDG, UL and VDI standards in formats which suit industries across the spectrum from electrical to electronic, railways, petrochemical, food processing and related vehicles – in fact anywhere that a door or access aperture requires sealing.

Where there is a door with a gasket then a stainless steel quarter-turn latch can be used incorporating an externally mounted C shaped catch and insert type spanner lock, in conformity with RIC for Railway use outside the sealing gasket on enclosures and cabinets. By mounting outside the cabinet frame and outside the gasketing area, panel builders and installation engineers may be confident that the lock installation ensures integrity of the housing as the sealed area is not compromised in any way.

The Program 1057 flush mounting quarter-turn latch is a similar item. Designed for rear fitting to door panels of 3.5 to 21mm thickness and to present a very neat flush and vandal-resistant face, this lock is partnered with its sister Program 1000 IP65 stainless steel compression latch for mounting in the same way. Rear mounted latches of this type present an especially clean aspect while offering little purchase to vandals.

Vibration and tampering are both addressed with items such as the Program 1000 stainless steel compression latch again developed for use in railway applications but also of value in other vehicles.

This IP65 latch offers a high degree of vandal-resistance by virtue of its tube key mechanism requiring a special internally profiled key to open/close and to operate the 6mm gasket compression featured by turning the key 90° – once to close the latch and then again to compress the gasket.

For clear visual indication the lock has red/green markings and a status arrow on the activating insert which shows the full 180° of movement so as to confirm that the lock is secure. Appropriate tube keys are also supplied.

One novel aspect of specialist vehicles is that they often call for secure floor access hatches, where the lock aperture is vulnerable to collection of dirt and liquids which can degrade their operation. To deal with these situations our range of stainless-steel quarter-turn catches now includes a new sealed cover which may be used with a number of standard latches which offer square, slotted, triangular, hexagon and proprietary railway key inserts. The quarter-turn latch is first installed onto the floor mounted cover plate or access panel, with the “O” ring sealed cover then fitted over it for protection and a neat flush appearance which presents a safe footing for pedestrians.

As a long-time partner of the train and transport industry, hardware companies such as EMKA are constantly working on new and innovative locking developments like the IP65 Stainless Steel Safety Latch Lock with red/green visual position indicator to match the requirement that the lock status should be easily and quickly seen. This flush mounted unit is tamper and vibration proof for rear mounting on doors of 5mm thickness where fully flush appearance is required, otherwise a slight inset or upstand is presented.

The unit is to DIN EN 61373 in AISI 304 and can be supplied with hexagon female SW8 (red-green marking) or Square 8 insert for doors on railway carriages and other rolling stock where a secure door closure is required with easy opening when needed.

Both vandal resistance and aesthetics are addressed with a concealed gear hinge – often referred to in the industry as “SOSS” type – this is a hidden 180° opening unit mounted within the width thickness of the doors and frame. Smooth sliding action and improved appearance are additionally offered by this rugged hinge design which is equally at home in railway carriages or offices, on passenger doors or cupboard doors.

Elegant design is made possible in this case by the integration of high specification plastics such as polyamide 66 GF50, POM and PTFE, combined with plated zinc die, steel and stainless steel components. By combining the best in material technology and engineering design, our design engineers have succeeded in presenting a high performing hinge for the public vehicle arena which also closes away out of sight and is thus vandal resistant.

Experienced engineers are key in the design/manufacture of these components so their constant involvement with custom locks, handles and gasket sections ensure they are kept well aware of the varying needs of industrial markets worldwide – the Railway industry of course is one in particular where there is both a standard product and significant custom design focus.

The specialist vehicle market, perhaps more than any other calls for a mix of high specification standard and custom components designed to fit quickly and save both time and money across the production schedule, and fully supported by ingenious engineers. Typically, this may include use of stainless steel, IP sealing to a high level, possibly a spring-loaded insert cover to exclude dirt in service. Flange fittings, rear fittings, special cams, special inserts, custom barrels, adjustable depth mounting and special flanges are common requests.


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