Patent application title: Non-Powered Roller for Assisting Crop Pick-Up With a Baler
Philip Egging (Reasnor, IA, US)
Lisle J. Dunham (Grinnell, IA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA01D5700FI
Class name: Harvesters miscellaneous
Publication date: 2009-04-23
Patent application number: 20090100814
Patent application title: Non-Powered Roller for Assisting Crop Pick-Up With a Baler
Lisle J. Dunham
STURM & FIX LLP
Origin: DES MOINES, IA US
IPC8 Class: AA01D5700FI
A non-powered rotor windguard improves the baling of stiff crop material
such as cornstalks. The windguard comprises plastic teeth spaced evenly
along a rotatable shaft. The teeth are generally three-pointed. The
engagement of the teeth to the crop material provides the force to rotate
the roller windguard.
1. A method of configuring a non-powered roller windguard for an
agricultural implement, said non-powered roller windguard comprising a
shaft, a plurality of teeth, and an axis of rotation, the method
comprising:(a) operatively engaging the plurality of teeth to the
shaft;(b) spacing the plurality of teeth longitudinally along a length of
the non-powered roller windguard shaft;(c) disposing the plurality of
teeth to engage crop material as the crop material passes the non-powered
roller windguard; and(d) permitting the shaft to rotate about the axis of
rotation due to the engagement of the plurality of teeth to the crop
2. The method of claim 1 wherein the agricultural implement additionally comprises a crop pickup comprising tines, the method additionally comprising:(a) defining a plurality of vertical planes in which the pickup tines reside; and(b) spacing the plurality of teeth such that none of said plurality of teeth reside in any of the plurality of vertical planes.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein operatively engaging the plurality of teeth to the shaft comprises:(a) forming a drive hub at a centroid of each of the plurality of teeth; and(b) disposing the shaft into the drive hub.
4. The method of claim 3 wherein the drive hub comprises an eight-point drive hub.
5. The method of claim 1 additionally comprising forming each of the plurality of teeth to comprise a three-point tooth.
6. The method of claim 5 wherein the three-point tooth comprises a substantially equilateral triangular tooth.
7. The method of claim 5 wherein the three-point tooth comprises a tooth having a convex curvature on a leading edge to each of the three points.
8. The method of claim 7 wherein the three-point tooth comprises a tooth having a convex curvature on a trailing edge to each of the three points.
9. The method of claim 5 wherein the three-point tooth additionally comprises a short tine operatively affixed to each of said three points, each of said tines having a curvature away from a direction of rotation.
10. The method of claim 5 wherein operatively engaging the plurality of teeth to the shaft comprises orienting each of the plurality of teeth in one of a plurality of angular orientations relative to the shaft.
11. The method of claim 5 wherein operatively engaging the plurality of teeth to the shaft comprises:(a) engaging a first of the plurality of teeth to the shaft in a first orientation;(b) engaging a second of the plurality of teeth to the shaft adjacent to the first of the plurality of teeth in a second orientation incremented angularly from the first orientation by a predetermined angle in a predetermined direction; and(c) engaging each of the plurality of teeth remaining incremented from a last engaged of the plurality of teeth engaged in a last orientation in an orientation incremented angularly from a last orientation by the predetermined angle in the predetermined direction.
12. A non-powered roller windguard for an agricultural implement comprising:(a) a shaft;(b) an axis of rotation about which the shaft rotates;(c) a plurality of teeth engaged to said shaft and spaced longitudinally along a length of the non-powered roller windguard shaft; and(d) link arms to which the shaft is operatively, rotatably attached, said links oriented to dispose the plurality of teeth to engage crop material as the crop material passes the non-powered roller windguard.
13. The non-powered roller windguard of claim 12 wherein the agricultural implement additionally comprises a crop pickup comprising a plurality of sets of tines residing in a plurality of vertical planes, the non-powered roller windguard additionally comprising sleeves to space the plurality of teeth such that none of said plurality of teeth reside in any of the plurality of vertical planes.
14. The non-powered roller windguard of claim 12 wherein each of the plurality of teeth comprises a centroid and a drive hub located at the centroid, said shaft being disposed into the drive hub.
15. The non-powered roller windguard of claim 14 wherein the drive hub comprises an eight-point drive hub.
16. The non-powered roller windguard of claim 12 wherein each of the plurality of teeth comprises a three-point tooth.
17. The non-powered roller windguard of claim 16 wherein the three-point tooth comprises a tooth having a convex curvature on a leading edge to each of the three points.
18. The non-powered roller windguard of claim 17 wherein the three-point tooth comprises a tooth having a convex curvature on a trailing edge to each of the three points.
19. The non-powered roller windguard of claim 16 wherein the three-point tooth additionally comprises a short tine operatively affixed to each of said three points, each of said tines having a curvature away from a direction of rotation.
20. The non-powered roller windguard of claim 14 wherein the drive hub is shaped to permit each of the plurality of teeth to be oriented to the shaft in one of a plurality of angular orientations relative to the shaft.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/981,539 filed Oct. 22, 2007 entitled "Non-Powered Roller for Assisting Crop Pick-up With a Baler" which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to agricultural equipment, and more specifically to a corn stalk baling method and apparatus.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Balers are used for many different crops. Balers are used to bale hay. Hay is usually classified as any type of grass or legume, such as alfalfa, that is fed to livestock such as cows and horses.
Balers are also used to bale straw, which is the part of the plant above ground that is left after small grains such as wheat, oats, barley, or the like, are harvested, for instance with a combine harvester. A primary use for straw is for bedding for animals. Straw is also commonly used as mulch in gardens and in cattle rations.
A third category of crop material baled using a baler is a stiff stalk crop, such as cornstalks, typically baled after the corn is removed from the stalk, such as with a combine harvester which saves only the corn kernels, or with a corn picker, which saves only the corn while it is still on a cob. It is this third category of crop material which is the most problematic to bale, primarily because of the stiff, long pieces of plant stalk, and in some cases, chopped, fluffy, lightweight, husks, leaves, and stalks. Cornstalks are commonly used as bedding for animals, such as cattle, or as a raw material for making a bio-fuel, such as ethanol.
When baling cornstalks, the flow of crop material is not always a steady flow. Because cornstalks do not fold together like hay and straw material, cornstalks do not always flow easily into the baler pickup. This may cause them to pile up in front of the baler pickup as the baler is towed through a field, causing a large pile of cornstalks to be pushed along in front of the baler pickup instead of evenly entering the baler. This requires the operator to stop or slow the baler, reorganize the pile of cornstalks in front of the pickup of the baler and resume the baling operation. This problem can occur numerous times during the process of baling a field of cornstalks.
Another problem with baling cornstalks is that the stiff stalks cause inordinate wear on individual components of the baler, especially on the pickup section of a baler as compared to using the baler for baling hay or straw. Consequently, those parts need replaced more often when baling cornstalks, and the baler itself may need to be replaced sooner than if it is used to bale only hay and straw.
United States Patent Application 2006/0277888, published on Dec. 14, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, discloses an integrated crop baffle and hold-down assembly used with a baler pick-up, and suspension for the same. Additionally, this document refers to a non powered roller (baffle) and rod windguard assembly and suspension means comprising a multi-bar linkage.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,293,732 discloses a suspended roller ahead of a forage harvester pickup to improve the pickup function. The roller suspension may incorporate a spring to counteract the weight of the roller.
U.S. Pat. No. 7,107,748 discloses a non-powered elongate roller that rotates with crop material. The roller is intended to compress large windrowed crops for better feeding.
None of the above references address the special needs associated with baling stiff-stalked crops, such as cornstalks.
Accordingly, there is a need for a simple attachment to the pickup portion of a baler that overcomes the aforementioned problems with baling crops having a stiff stalk, such as cornstalks.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a windguard for the pickup of a baler having a rotor that turns only due to crop material passing between pickup teeth and the teeth of a non-powered roller. For the purposes of the present document, including the claims, the term: non-powered roller windguard is defined as a roller windguard that turns only due to its contact with crop material moving relative to the roller. A non-powered roller windguard is not directly driven by a chain, belt, hydraulic motor, etc.
Disclosed are aggressive roller teeth and smooth rollers, polygonal, or rollers with rods laid on the roller's surface parallel to the roller's axis of rotation. The roller teeth may be shaped to enhance release of crop material, or to penetrate the crop. The teeth can be spaced, oriented, and/or sized to enhance crop feed, and rolling function.
Sleeves are provided between the teeth and over the shaft to which the teeth are affixed. These sleeves are free to rotate, slow or stop independently from the shaft as an anti-wrap feature. The sleeves can be sized to enhance flotation and rolling function.
The roller, in one embodiment of the invention, may be positioned with the windguard rods below the roller centerline, and the roller teeth extending under the rods to touch the crop material.
Suspension embodiments can include springs--extension and compression--steel torsion, rubber torsion, gas springs, counterweights (the latter being non-elastic). Mounting structures can include utilizing an existing Vermeer 600 M series baler frame horizontal slot as an attaching point. Other embodiments allow for mounting the roller device to the windguard mount, front tube or the outboard rods. The mounting arm orientation shown in the drawings is rearward, or trailing, from the pivot, but the mounting arms could be forwardly positioned from the pivot.
In one embodiment, the roller can be fixed with respect to the fore and aft movement. In another embodiment, the roller is movable fore and aft with the pick-up movement via the roller mounting being attached to the crop fins on each side of the pick-up. As the pickup raises, the crop fins push the roller mount forward in the baler frame slot. In the latter case, the roller teeth could be positioned such that the teeth encroach upon the pickup tines somewhat in a baling position. In that case, the roller moves away from the pickup for transport position. In the fixed case, the crop fins are not connected to the roller assembly.
The roller windguard of the present invention moves in an upward arc in response to crop pressure or windrow size.
Adding a cross strut across the roller mount arms serves to prevent one side from rising independently and putting a bind on the roller shaft bearings. Movement could also be prevented by utilizing a dual bearing arrangement at each end of the roller.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a side elevation view of a baler pick-up and roller interacting to gather crop;
FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the non-powered roller;
FIG. 3a is a side view of a tooth in a first embodiment;
FIG. 3b shows the tooth of the first embodiment in a plurality of orientations;
FIG. 4 is a side view of a tooth in a second embodiment;
FIG. 5 is a side view of a tooth in a third embodiment;
FIG. 6 is a side view of a tooth in a fourth embodiment;
FIG. 7a is a side view of a series of teeth with angled hubs;
FIG. 7b is a side view of an alternative mounting in which the roller is mounted from a tine windguard;
FIG. 8 is an isometric view of the alternative mounting; and
FIG. 9 is a side elevation view of a baler fitted with the non-powered rotor of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Refer now to the drawings wherein like reference numerals correspond to the same or similar parts throughout the drawings. The present invention as depicted in FIG. 1 is that of a non-powered roller windguard 14 having teeth 15. The windguard 14 aids a pick-up apparatus 17 for a baler 900 (see FIG. 9). The present invention is considered a simplification of other roller windguard technologies which are powered, such as that shown in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/739,194 to Woodford, which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference. The roller windguard 14 described herein is lightweight, effective, and does not require a hydraulic motor or other drive device. Rather, it utilizes energy from the pickup and the relative movement of the crop material 13 to rotate and perform its function.
The purpose of a roller windguard 14 is to provide an upper boundary for the crop material 13 as it passes over the pickup 17 and toward the bale chamber. The roller 14 must be sufficiently massive to engage the crop 13 consistently, yet sufficiently light to be forced upward as the crop material 13 passes over the top of the pickup 17.
The preferred embodiment comprises a thin walled, square, steel tube 22 as seen in FIG. 2. The steel tube 22 is attached by journal bearings 21 at its outer ends to link arms 16 which pivot about a pivot axis parallel to but not collinear with the axis of rotation of the journal bearings 21.
Plastic teeth 15 are fitted on the tube 22 and spaced along its length by plastic tubing sleeves 23. The plastic sleeves 23 have an inner diameter such that they may rotate independently of the steel tube 22, thus effectively reducing or preventing crop wrap on the windguard 14. A cotter pin 27 is used to keep the bearings 21 from dislodging from the mounting links 16. The mounting links 16 are rotatably connected to the windguard 14 at an axis of rotation, and to a mount structure 25 at the axis of pivot mentioned above. Hence, the windguard 14 is permitted to move through a substantially vertical arc with variations in the depth of the crop material 13 over the pickup 17.
A plethora of suspension and mounting strategies are available from which to choose. For instance, compression/tension rubber springs, steel springs, torsion springs, gas springs, or counterweight (inelastic). None of these are shown in the drawings due to the abundance of prior art for these devices which are well understood by those of ordinary skill in the art. Concept testing has utilized common extension springs to suspend the roller assembly. One spring was hooked to each roller mount arm. Each spring extends upward and forward with the opposite spring end-hooks hooked to bolts on the roller frame mount. The roller frame mount can either be fixed in the throat of the baler, or the mount can move fore and aft with pickup movement. In the latter case, the mount assembly, including the springs and the roller assembly, move together as one. In the latter case the roller assembly moves forward as the crop fins (each side of the pick-up) push against the roller frame as the pick-up raises. As the pick-up lowers, the crop fins pull against the roller frame, causing the roller assembly to move rearward. In a fixed condition scenario, the roller assembly mount is not connected to the crop fin movement.
The plastic crop engaging teeth 15, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 7 and 8, are substantially equilateral triangles in the current embodiment. An axis 28, extending through the centroid of the triangle, comprises its axis of rotation when mounted on the square roller tube 22. Centered about the centroid of the triangle is preferably an eight-point drive hub 19 passing through the material of the tooth 15. This hub 19 allows for each tooth 15 to be oriented about the axis of rotation 28 in eight (8) different orientations separated by an incremental angle of 45°. Not all these orientations are practically unique for a three-pointed tooth 15 that is symmetric about all three lines passing from the points through the centroid. Three unique orientations are shown in FIG. 3b, where the tooth 15 is shown in solid, long dash, and short dashed lines in the three orientations.
The longitudinal spacing and arrangement of the crop engaging teeth 15 along the square tube 22 is such that they are not aligned with the pick-up tines 18. That is, each pick-up tine set exists in a vertical plane not coincident with any vertical plane containing a crop engaging tooth 15. As the pickup 17 pulls in crop by rotating clockwise, as shown in FIG. 1, against the main direction of baler travel 110, the tines 18 pass between the vertical planes containing the crop engaging teeth 15. The tines 18 may be sufficiently long to actually pass between the teeth 15. This imparts a counter clockwise rotation to the windguard 14 as shown in FIG. 1. This gives the roller windguard teeth 15 the ability to aggressively "climb" on the crop material 13 as the crop material 13 passes over the pick-up 17; and to position other teeth 15 adjacent to the tines 18 for further rotation. If the crop material 13 becomes sufficiently deep such that the windguard 14 lifts by rotation of the mounting links 16 about the pivot axis 25, and the tines 18 no longer pass between the teeth 15, the motion of the crop material 13 itself is sufficient to keep the windguard 14 turning by pushing on the triangular points 15 and generating a moment about the roller axis of rotation 28.
Crops such as hay do not generally require the assistance of the roller windguard 14 as described herein, while it is often more necessary to mitigate build-up of fluffy crop material or cornstalks 13 ahead of the pick-up 17 which can sometimes lead to stoppages due to plugging. The present invention gives the operator the benefit of better feeding by reducing build-up ahead of the pick-up 17 for some crop harvesting. The windguard 14 is also lightweight and easily removable since it is a non-powered apparatus. The windguard 14 is less complex and safer than those found on prior art balers due to being non-powered. The crop engagement remains aggressive due to the tooth 15 design.
The non-powered windguard 14 disclosed herein can be mounted on a baler 900 wall with a bushing in a slot as well as an alternative embodiment in which the windguard 14 would be pivotally mounted by links extending downward from the ends of a standard windguard.
A number of other variations on the current embodiment described herein are possible as alternative embodiments.
The basic triangular shape of the tooth 15 can be modified to have convex curvature on the leading edges as shown in FIG. 4, and as is commonly known in the prior art. This may enhance the rolling tendency of the windguard 14 as the rounded shape causes the crop engagement force to increase as the tooth 15a rotates into the crop material 13. It may also help to reduce crop wrap.
The tooth 15b shown in FIG. 5 comprises another modification to the equilateral triangular shape to have convex curvature on both edges of each point. The benefits of the embodiment shown in FIG. 5 would be seen along with additional crop wrap reduction when the operator has to back out due to crop material 13 having plugged in the region of the pickup 17.
The tooth 15c shown in FIG. 6 is that of any of the other teeth 15, 15a, 15b modified by the addition of short tines 20 affixed to each point. The tines 20 have a slight curvature away from the direction of rotation 610 as shown, and extend to a greater radial distance than the tooth points for a more aggressive "climb." The tines 20 poke into the crop material 13 to a greater distance and with higher pressure than a triangular point.
To help the crop material 13 to flow into the baler 900 more evenly across the length of the bale chamber and create a more evenly built-up bale, the crop engaging teeth 15 may be mounted to the windguard tube 22 in orientation increments of less than 45°. To effect this, the tooth hub 710 is as shown in FIG. 7a, where adjacent teeth have drive hubs 710 angularly incremented a predetermined amount. In this manner, the row of teeth 15 may act as a helix auger as shown in FIG. 7b to control the flow of crop material 13 into the bale chamber.
As an alternate embodiment, the links 16 may be mounted to the ends of the standard tine windguard 26 as seen in FIGS. 7b and 8, rather than mounting to the baler frame. A result is simplicity and ease of removal/attachment.
In still another embodiment, depicted in FIG. 1, the windguard 14 is simply pivotally mounted in position and mass "tuned" such that it could raise and lower, yet engage the crop 13 effectively because the system is of an appropriate mass. This system need not be aided by a spring, or have any of the other mounting elements such as those found in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/739,194 to Woodford. While an uplift spring is not used in this embodiment, such a spring could be used if desired.
In an additional embodiment of the drive for the windguard 14, rather than be driven by the pick-up tines 18 and crop flow 13 alone, a ground engaging wheel may be used to direct or indirect drive the windguard 14 to supplement the rotational energy being imparted in the current embodiment resulting in more torque on the windguard 14 to overcome rolling resistance. Of course, the roller windguard 14 of this embodiment would not fit the definition of non-powered roller windguard.
Accordingly, it will be appreciated that the preferred embodiments do indeed accomplish the aforementioned objects. Obviously many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.
Patent applications by Lisle J. Dunham, Grinnell, IA US
Patent applications by Philip Egging, Reasnor, IA US
Patent applications in class MISCELLANEOUS
Patent applications in all subclasses MISCELLANEOUS