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Publication numberUS2720055 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 11, 1955
Filing dateSep 2, 1948
Priority dateSep 2, 1948
Publication numberUS 2720055 A, US 2720055A, US-A-2720055, US2720055 A, US2720055A
InventorsWard Morris Milo
Original AssigneeWard Morris Milo
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mechanism for packaging christmas trees
US 2720055 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Oct. 11, 1955 M. w. MoRms MECHANISM FOR PACKAGING CHRISTMAS TREES 4 Sheets--Sheetl l Filed Sept. 2, 1948 \1 l mm m mm .vm www@ lei@ lfm.

Oct. 11, 1955 M. w. MORRIS 2,720,055



ATTORNEYS Oct. 11, 1955 M. w. MORRIS 2,720,055


, 3'AV/70 h/afd Narr/ TTO/VEYS oct. 11. 1955 M. w. MORRIS 2,720,055


.TTORNEYS United States Patent O M' NIECHANISM FOR PACKAGING CHRISTMAS TREES Milo Ward Morris, Seattle, Wash.

Application September 2, 1948, Serial No. 47,456

4 Claims. (Cl. 47--1) My invention relates to mechanism for packaging Christmas trees. More particularly, my invention relates to providing a mechanism for the rapid, economical, efficient in-line operation comprising pressing the branches of freshly cut green Christmas trees and packaging the same within a moisture resistant or wax lined carton without injury to the carton or to the tree, and to the moisture providing mechanism attached to the butt end of the trees to prevent the drying out of the tree and to maintain its lire resistant qualities.

A Christmas tree is a perishable product and has an exceedingly, relatively limited season in which the same is to be cut and marketed. After December 25 a Christmas tree is of little or no value. Since it is a part of our natural resources, there must be only so many cut as will be employed. At the present time great quantities are cut and wasted for failure of a buyer. Accordingly, this situation presents a real problem. The article has to be bought on sight unseen and it must be so packed that it will arrive with forest freshness. Particularly must there be no waste. By means of my invention the cutting proceeds with the accumulation of` orders so that cutting dates may be established to meet the required quantity, and this involves proper packaging. By providing a moist atmosphere in the moisture sealed package, the tree limbs are kept in a condition which will not result in their being deformed but will permit them to be opened up afterbeing compressed for shipment when the tree is packaged according to my invention. At the present time trees are shipped in large quantities and dry out while deformed and then it is almost impossible to re-form the tree.

Furthermore, my invention relates to in-line production of a Christmas tree article including in such production the speedy and rapid method and means for preparing the butt end of the tree to receive a receptacleparticularly centering of the tree to receive the receptacle. Further, my invention relates to the method and means of supplying the receptacle for the butt end of the tree with moist medium for packaging, such as peat moss or saw dust, for maintaining a source of moisture for the tree and moisture laden air for the tree in the carton. Also, my invention relates to utilizing the resiliency of the compressed limbs of the tree to help maintain the receptacle with its moist medium from sudden shocks during handling and shipment in the carton. This is important to keep the can with its wet contents from being worked loose from the tree butt, and also to prevent the can from injuring the carton. Such arrangement is helpful even though other packing material may be employed.

To so package an evergreen tree so that it may be shipped several thousand miles and kept over `a considerable period, for preparation, shipping, selling anduse, and have its freshness and greenness retained for not only a few days, that is, but for a period of weeks and even months, presented real challenging problems. Such evergreen trees are well-known to be subject to early 2,720,055 Patented Oct. 11, 1955 ICC drying out after cutting and the needles then fall off in the unnatural environment of heated home rooms. Such dried needles even become of an explosive character when ignited so that a real fire hazard results. Packaging in an economical and efficient manner and yet providing preserving features for the tree presented special problems requiring testing under actual conditions to determine whether or not the same was successful.

`A primary object of my invention is to conserve one of our great natural resources, namely, our evergreen trees which are suitable for Christmas tree purposes by providing for their packaging in a manner which will ensure their delivery to the users in an undamaged, fresh, green, that is, undried out, condition. Also, to so deliver them that their freshness and greenness and natural symmetry of form may be maintained throughout the period required after cutting, processing, packaging, shipping and a use period even when the product is to be used in a place several thousand miles distant from that of origin and in a relatively warm climate. Such conservation is not only essential for the trees, but also the indirect result of avoiding unnecessary soil erosion by avoiding wasteful cutting. Accordingly, there are most compelling fundamental reasons requiring the proper harvesting of the Christmas trees.

Our experimentation shows that a moisture proof carton container serves well in achieving the purposes of this invention. `However, such cartons, particularly when waxed, are subject to be injured when the larger stiff lower branches of the tree are attempted to be compressed and confined in the container, and the tree itself may be deformed in packaging during such compressing of such limbs and be so injured as to require its discarding. Also, the upper tender branches of the tree have been found during shipment to be subject to injury .unless held in place. A bunch of decorative greens may be advantageously disposed in the top branches of the tree before the tree is pulled into the carton. In maintaining the fresh greenness of the needles,I a tree requires considerable moisture and the packaging requires that a source of such moisture is important within the carton so that there is a continual ever-present source of moisture for the required period. Moreover, such moisture is advantageously supplied to the annular cellular structure of the tree through the butt end so that adequate compensation may be made for the evaporation from theV large area presented by the needles. ln accomplishing all this, over and above the natural and biological requirements and problems, there is the definite and positive limitation as to cost. Such cost must be kept to a minimum if the tree is to be supplied to the real market.

In developing an efcient and economical in-line production certain problems develop, particularly: (a) As to the method of compressing the limbs and confining these in a light weight shipping carton without injury to the moisture sealing features of the carton during compression of the limbs, particularly the lower larger stiff limbs; (b) the centering of the tree for speedy application of the container for holding the moisture medium,

as peat moss, against the butt of the tree, and the peat moss in turn being a means of supplying moisture Without the same being free to spill out of the container; and (c) the method of supplying such peat moss in a speedy and eicient manner to can or container to be secured to the butt end of the tree.

The means of compressing the limbs may be by a mold over which the carton is slipped, or it may be by a plurality of rollers annularly disposed, or it may be by funnel shaped means, or it may be in the form of a hopper shaped limb compressing means to be employed with a container having a top opening. Preferably, however,

such means is that of the type of a funnel mold. with an open ended carton. slippedy thereover.

This invention relates to method and means for carrying out the packaging of Christmas trees, processed and prepared as an article of manufacture, disclosed in my co-pending patent application. Serial No. 3954 (Series of 1948).

Av primary object of this invention relatesl to means for processing green Christmas trees, preferably freshly cut, to minimize drying out, retain greenness and preserve the. fire resistant. qualities of the trees, and means for packaging, these trees after they have been processed.

Another object of this invention is to provide production line means by which Christmas trees can be rapidly, eiiicientlyv and` economically processed and packaged; in. such a manner as to best preserve their greenness, and? freshnessl and hre-resistant qualities.

Another object is*r to provide a speedy and efiicient method of and means for loading* a Christmas tree into a carton. without injury to either the tree or the carton byI telescoping. the carton over a loading mold or tube, pulling the tree butt first into; the loading mold or tube to evenly compress the branches of the tree, and then simultaneously withdrawing the. tree and the preformed carton, fromV the loading mold or tube so as to leave the tree in. the carton with its branches compressed for compactness in shipment, but free to open out to their normal position after the. tree has beeny removed from the carton.. This avoids; side loading of the cartons and provides a satisfactory and economical' methodl of and means for quickly loading the trees endwise into tubular cartons of relatively small crossv section.

In accordance with this. invention, each Christmas tree 'rst, has the butt portion thereof slightly tapered or coned to improve the shape of the tree butt (giving it a frusturn of: a cone, shaped butt) and to better adapt the tree for taking up moisture as such shaping exposes a multitude of. longitudinally' directed. canals. Thetree is then clamped in. a tree: holdingdevice: and a moisture container is placed on; the coned butt. end portion. thereof. This moisture container is. preferably a tin can having two closed ends, one; of which, namely, the one herein referred to as the top.- end, has previously beeny slitted or weakened so' that the tapered; butt end. portion of the Christmas tree can be. passed through. this: weakened top` endinto the can. Preferably, this. is done4 by pressing the can. over the-y butt emi portion` ofthe. tree'. The can topis slitted inl such a manner as to cause thebutt portion, of the tree to be automatically centered in the can. After theA can is applied to the tree butt the bottomA end ofthe tree: butt is secured to they bottom end of the can, as by driving; a nail or inserting a screw through the bottom end of the can into the. treey but-t. The cany is then preferably filled with a moisture. carrying material, such as wet peat moss or saw dust.f The peat moss is preferably ground and then wet-- ted.. This wet material is preferably supplied to the can by inserting a pointed, tubular member through the top of the can alongside of the tree and iniecting the wet material through this tubular member i'nto the can by pressure. When the tubular member is withdrawn, a small hole is left in the top of the can. After the tree is set up further liquid or water canv be introduced into the can= through this hole. The wet material will not spill out through this hole duringl shipment' and the slight amount' of evaporation which takes place through this hole is helpful in maintaining a moisture laden air in the'cartony for the needles.

In providing the receptacle with a moist medium, such as peat moss or sawdust, experience has proven that in utilizing pneumatic pressure great difficulty developed in having the liquid separate from the medium. The devicel of' my invention overcomes such difficulties.

Before the tree is placed in a carton, a bunch of decorative greens is preferably placed in. the top branches ofthe tree.: to add moisture, to better fill upA the upper end portion of the carton, and to. help prevent movement of the tree in the carton. The tree is then ready to be placed in a carton and. this is done without injury either tothe carton or the tree by telescoping the carton over a loading mold or tube, pulling the tree into this loading mold or tube to evenly compress the branches of the tree and then simultaneously withdrawing the tree and the carton from the loading mold or tube, leaving the tree in the carton with its branches properly lleXed and compressed and held within the carton. A. collapsible tree stand. is preferably inserted alo-ng one side of the carton slightly compressing the tree limbs, utilizing their resiliency to hold the said stand in place. The t-wo ends of the carton are then closed and sealed and the carton is. ready for shipment.

Experience has taught that Christmas trees as heretofore shipped often develop fermentation. Also, such previous methods of shipment often result in Christmas trees developing a mold. An object of my invention is to overcome. such destruction of the trees. Actual tests have proved' that a tree packed according to my invention provides for the. tree maintaining its freshness and utility even for as long as five` months, and even. usable as long as. eight months. My invention provides: for so preserving a Christmas, tree that the same may be shipped to any part of the world and arrive at destination forest fresh, fragrant and lasting.

The method of and apparatusA for placing a Christmas tree in compact form in a carton as hereinafter described provides a satisfactory solution of the problem of getting the. trees into cartons without damaging either the tree or the carton, preferably Wax lined. The branches of these trees are relatively stiffA and strong and particularly the: larger lower branches. are liable to extend almost at right angles to the tree axis, i. e., horizontally from the tree. With many trees it is diflicult to manually bend these lower branches upwardly alongside of the tree axis and their insert the tree in a carton. If these branches are allowed. to bear against the sides of the carton as the. tree is being. passed endwise into. the carton, the heavier branches ofthe tree arev liable to scrape and damage the carton. Also, if the branches are not compressed in the right way there isa possibility of damaging the branches and. thus disfiguring the: tree. Particularly is this true whenl it; is; done. with speed. In accordance with my invention, I provide cartons of suitable and proper crossy sectional size, length, and shape, with respect to the sizek of the tree.. The cartons. are open at both endsl and I load the. trees into these cartons by placing a carton over a4 loading mold or tube, pulling the tree into the loading mold or tubeto properly flex` and compress the, branches of, the same, and then simultaneously pulling the tree. out of the. loading rnoldl or tubev and the carton off the. loading mold or' tube without subjectingv the car tontoy they initial'. strains of compressing and scraping by the; branches: of the tree.. As the cartons' are preferably moistureproofed, as; by waxing, prior to loading to minimize evaporation and. drying out of the tree, itv isi particularly important that damage to the carton be avoided at the time, the tree is put into the carton.

A primary object of'this invention is to provide means: for carrying out the operations above outlined rapidly, efii'ciently, and economically and with a minimum expenditure of time and labor on the part of the operators.

The above mentioned general objects of my invention, together with others inherent in the same, are attained bythe process and mechanism illustrated in the following drawings, the same being a preferred' exemplary form of embodiment of my invention, throughout which drawings i like reference numerals indicate like parts:

Figure 1 is a plan view with parts shown in section andv other parts shown by dotted lines of mechanism used for placing in a carton a Christmas tree which has been processed for'shipment', a carton to receive the tree being shown ona loading-mold or tube, and a tree being shown in a position it can occupy preparatory to being drawn into the loading mold and carton;

Fig. 2 is a sectional view with parts in elevation taken substantially on broken line 2 2 of Fig. 1 with a tree in the mold.

Fig. 3 is a sectional View taken substantially on broken line 33 of Fig. 1, and on a larger scale than Fig. 1, showing the loading mold or tube with a carton thereon;

Fig. 4 is a somewhat diagrammatic view illustrating one advantageous set up and arrangement of mechanism which can be used for processing and packaging Christmas trees in accordance with this invention;

Fig. 5 is a plan View of mechanism used for placing a moisture holding receptacle on the butt end portion of a Christmas tree;

Fig. 6 is a side elevation of the same, with parts in section showing a Christmas tree and a moisture holding receptacle secured thereto;

Fig. 7 is an elevational view with parts in section looking in the direction of broken line 7-7 of Fig. 6, the tree being omitted;

Fig. 8 is a View partly in elevation and partly in section looking in the direction of broken line 8-8 of Fig. 6, the moisture holding receptacle being omitted;

Fig. 9 isa view similar to Fig. 7, showing means of modied form for clamping and holding a Christmas tree;

Fig. 10 is an elevation showing a form of Christmas tree holding means which will always center trees on a predetermined axial line irrespective of variations in the diameters of different trees;

Fig. l1 is a sectional view showing pneumatically operated means for applying a water holding receptacle to the butt end portion of a Christmas tree;

Fig. l2 is a top plan View of a tin can to serve as a moisture medium receptacle showing the manner of cutting and weakening the top end of said tin can along predetermined lines to adapt it for application to the buttI end portion of a Christmas tree;

Fig. 13 is a side elevation with parts in section of a press used in perforating and weakening tin can tops in the manner shown shown in Fig. 12;

Fig. 14 is a view in cross section of a die member taken substantially on broken line 14-14 of Fig. 15;

Fig. l5 is a view in diametrical section through said die member showing two of the knives thereof in elevation and showing a fragment of a moisture holding receptacle of tin can type positioned in operative relation below said die member;

Fig. 16 is a longitudinal sectional view, with parts shown in elevation and parts shown diagrammatically, illustrating devices for injecting moisture bearing material into tin cans after they have been placed on the butt ends of Christmas trees; and

Fig. 17 is a longitudinal sectional view of a completed carton with tree therein, together with a Christmas tree stand adjacent the butt of the tree and decorative` greens in contact with the upper end portion of the tree. Fig. 18 is a longitudinal sectional view of Christmas tree packaging means of modified form showing a Christmas tree in a position preparatory to compressing the limbs of the `same and loading said tree into a carton. Fig. 19 is a sectional view similar to Fig. 18 showing roller arrangement arranged for use in compressing the limbs of a Christmas tree preparatory to loading the tree into a carton.

Fig. 20 is a View in elevation looking in the direction of broken line 20-20 of Fig. 19, the tree being omitted. Fig. 21 is a sectional perspective view showing hopper shaped tree limb compressing device and showing a carton positioned in said hopper shaped device to receive a tree, said carton having a side or top wall which opens like a hinged door to receive a Christmas tree which has its limbs compressed by pressing it downwardly through the hopper shaped limb compressing device.

Apparatus for carrying out my invention s diagrammatically shown in Fig. 4 and comprises, in a general way, the following: Means 20 for frusto-conically shaping tree butts; means 19 for receiving trees; means 21 for slitting the tops of cans; means 18 to receive and hold the slitted cans; means 22 for applying the cans to the tree butts; means 23 for injecting moist ,material into the cans; packaging means 24 putting the trees into cartons; and means 17 for receiving the cartons containing the trees.

The packaging means 24 for putting the trees into the cartons is more fully shown in Figs. 1, 2 and 3, and will now be described.

After the trees have had their butt portions tapered and have had cans placed thereon and moist material injected into the cans, these trees are preferably placed in a trough shaped cradle 25, Figs. 1 and 2, preparatory to putting the same in a carton. Preferably, the cradle 25 is supported on a table 26. A tree loading tube 27 is supported above the table 26, preferably adjacent to and in alignment with the cradle 25. The loading tube 27 has an expanding or bell shaped forward end portion or mouth 28 positioned adjacent to the cradle 25. The bracket means 29 which supports the loading tube 27 is preferably connected with the mouth portion 28 to thereby leave the major portion of the loading tube 27 unobstructed so that a tubular carton 30 can be slipped thereover. The loading tube 27 and carton 30 can be of approximately square cross sectional shape, as indicated in Fig. 3 of the drawings, or they can be of any other desired cross sectional shape. The cross sectional shape of the bell mouth portion 28 preferably corresponds to the cross sectional shape of the loading mold or tube 27. Preferably the carton has suitable end aps 31 which can be closed and sealed after the carton is loaded. Both ends of the carton are necessarily open at the time of loading. Preferably the loading tube or mold 27 is shorter than the shortest carton which will be used in connection therewith. The carton is preferably moisture proofed to prevent loss of moisture to the atmosphere after the carton is loaded and sealed. As one method, this can be done by coating the inside of the carton with moisture proof material.

The bell shaped mouth 28 of the loading tube 27 functions to evenly compress and flex the branches of a tree as the tree is moved endwise into the loading tube. VThe loading mold or tube 27 holds the larger and stronger branches of the tree compressed and prevents them from rubbing against and scratching and injuring the Walls of the carton. When a carton and tree are simultaneously pulled clear of the loading tube 27, the tree branches expand against the carton without damaging or objec tionably bulging the same.

A tree 32 can be partly pushed and partly pulled into the loading tube 27 and carton 30 manually if desired and the loading mold or tube 27 is thus of great utility in facilitating the manual loading of trees into the cartons. However, I preferably provide power operated means for pulling the trees into the cartons.

The mold or tube 27 is adapted to meet the problem of packaging trees of varying length. The mold 27 can be used as a loading mold or tube for trees of different length j and which require cartons of different length. The mold 27 is long enough to meet the requirements of the longest carton but does not need to be the full length of the longest carton because the butt portion of the tree can be pulled a substantial distance beyond the end of the tube 27 before the lowermost limbs on the tree will be released by the tube. As the carton and tree are simultaneously withdrawn from the tube 27, the limbs of the tree `will spring out against the walls of the carton but will not scrape the walls of the carton as the carton and tree are both moving at the same speed.

Figs. 1 and 2 show power operated mechanical means for pulling a Christmas tree, butt first, into the loading 26 said. arm. 35 is secured to a rack bar 38 which. isv

guided for movement in guide means. 3.9. The rack bar 38 is adapted to be moved longitudinally by a pinion 40 onv a shaft. 41. The. shaft. 41 is driven by a motor 42 operating through suitable power transmission means in a housing 43.

Rotation ofthe pinion 4.0- in one direction will project the reach rod 33v into the loading. tube 27 and a carton 30 that has. been. telescoped thereon. into a position as shown in Fig.. l.. Rotation of said. piniony 40 in the. opposite direction` will retract the reach rod. 33- clear of the carton 30 to a-position as shown in Fig. 2.,

Preferably an. operator is positioned near the bell shaped.y

end 28 of. the loadingy tube 27 to engage the hook means 34Y with the trees. 32 and, preferably this operator controls the movement of the reach rod 33. One means for' providing, this controlv is. to provide beneath the table 26 a control lever 44, fulcrumed on a, pivot 45. At one end the lever 44. has a. forked member 46 to receive the knee or leg of the operator.. The other end portion of the lever 44 isv connected by a. link 47 with means, such as control lever 48, for the transmission means in the housing 43. This transmission means is preferably of a self neutralizing reversible type so that if the lever 4`4 is released the pinion. 40 will come. to rest; if the lever 44 is moved in, one direction, the pinion 40 will be rotated so as to move the reach rod 33 toward loading tube 27 and' if the lever 44 is moved in the opposite direction, the pinion 40 will be rotated so as to move the reach rod away from the loading tube. 27.

Preferably two operators are required to load the Christmas trees into the cartons, a first operator near the bell shaped end. 28 of the loading, tube and a second op-y erator near the right end of the carton, as respects the showing. in Figs. 1 and 2. To load a tree into a carton it is necessary to retract the reach rod 33, slip a carton 30 of proper length over the loading tube. 27, project the 1,

reach rod 33 through the carton 30 and tube 27, attach the hook means 34 to the butt portion of a tree 32, as. shown in Fig. l', and then move the reach rod to the right, Figs. 1 and 2, far enough to pull the treev into the loading tube 27 and carton 30 to a position substantially as shown` in I Fig. 2.. At this pointv movement of theY reach rod 33 is stopped momentarily and the hook, means 34 is disengaged. Next, the reach rod 33 is further retracted to get it out of the way. The second operator then grasps the carton. 30 and the butt portion of. the tree 32 and pulls the carton 30 and tree 32 clear of the loading tube. The carton is then ready to have its end flaps closed and sealed'.v Before the tree is drawn into the carton a bunch of green vegetation 49 is preferably placed in the upper branches of said tree, and before the bottom end of the carton is closed a Christmas tree stand can be inserted therein, all as more fully described in my copending patent application hereinbefore identified. After a carton and tree are removed from the loading tube 27 the carton with tree therein is passed to a support or table 17, a Christmas tree stand 172, Fig. 17, is inserted alongside of, the butt of the tree in such a manner as to help prevent movement ofthe tree butt, and the carton is sealed. Variations, of course, in these steps may be made.

The method of and' means for loading thev Christmas trees into cartons, as hereinbefore described', obviates side loading ofthe trees into thc. cartons and makes possible rapid end' loading of these trees into moisture proofed cartons of minimum cross sectional dimension with a minimum amount of labor and without danger of damage to thel car-.tons or the; trees..

The means for processing the trees preparatory to. loadingthemintoA the cartons will now be described..

Thel means forA taper cutting. the butt end portions. of. the trees is shown somewhat diagrammatically in Fig. 4. Thisl means comprises a cutter headl 50- driven by a motor 51 and havingy suitable blades 52.' operable. to cut. a taper 53 on the butt end` portions of the trees 32 to give said.

butt end. port-ions a. frust`o-conical shape. The trees 32, after. being thus taper cut, are passed to an operator. who operates. the tree holding and can appl-ying means. operator clamps the trees, one: at a time, in the tree holding; means and applies a can to the butt portion of each tree, as. hereinafter described. in connection.l with Figs. 5;. to ll inclusive. Such cutting opens longitudinal channels for absorbing liquid.

The can top slitting, means, indicated generally at 21'.

in Fig. 4, together with a can 54,. are shown more. in detail inFigs. 12, 13, 14 and l5. The can 54 isa closed. container provided with a can top and having the usual bottom 56, Fig. 13. Preferably the top 55 of each can 54 is provided with a plurality of radial slits. 57, each extending from the center thereof outwardly for a dis.- tance equal to about halfA the. diameter of the butt portionl of the smallest tree for which the; can is: intended. The

can topA 55 isv further weakened. along lines 58 outwardly" from and in prolongation of the slits 57 to condition said can top for tearing along the lines 58. The slitsy 57 and weakened tearing lines 58 form triangularly' shaped: segments. 59y in: the top of the can. When the top end 55 of a can and the coned end 53 of a tree butt are relatively pressed against each other the tree butt will enter the can and the triangular segments 59 will be bent inwardly. As these segments 59 bend inwardly they will keep the tree butt centered in the can and will maintain close contact with the tree butt. This insures minimum leakage space around the tree butt andrm support of the tree butt by the can top. 55.

The means for forming the radial slits 57 and weakened tearing lines 58 inthe. can top 55 is in the form of a die member 60 having radially arranged knives 61. Each knife has an inner edge 62 positioned axially of the head and has a cutting edge 63 positioned at an obtuse angle to the inner ed-ge 62 and extending outwardly therefrom to a point 64. From thepoint 64 eachl knife has a sharpened edge 65 extendingl parallel to the inner edge 62 and toward the die member 60 to a location 66'. An inclined can top weakening edge 67 which is both toothed like a saw and sharpened like a knife extends outwardly from the loca tion 66 to the outer edge 68 of the knife. The toothed edge 67 is inclined so that, as the knife moves toward a can, thel part of said edge 67 adjacent the point 66 will first engage with the top 55 of a can 54 and the can top 55 will be concavely depressed and perforated byv the toothed edge 67.

To make a plurality of clean radial cuts in a can top 55 it has been found advantageous to cut toward the center of the can top. Thus the points 64 of the knives enter the can top 5S at a distance from the center thereof and cut toward the center.

The knives 61 are heldin the die head 60 by triangularly shaped segments 69. Screws 70 clamp the segments 6.9 in the. head 60. The head 60, Fig. 13, is carried by a longitudinally movable .shank 71. The shank 71 is guided in a frame 72 and is adapted to be moved by a lever 73. Preferably means are provided for limiting the stroke. of the shank 71 toward a can 54. The stroke limiting means shown in Fig. 13 comprises a bolt 74 secured to the head 60, slid'able in a frame lug 75 and having adjustable nuts. 76 which. are adaptedA to engage. with a shock absorbing, washer 77 which rests on the lug 75. The can 54 rests on a base portion of the frame 72 and is positioned by stoppins 78 one. of which is shown in Fig. 13. The pins 78 Thisv 9 are adjustable in a plurality of holes 79 in the frame base to provide for correctly positioning cans of different sizes.

Referring to Figs. to 9 inclusive, the tree holding and can applying means comprises a base 80 having suitable upright support means 81. Two V-shaped tree receiving members 82 and 83 are mounted in spaced apart relation on the upright frame means 81. The V-shaped member 83 has slots 84 therein to slidably receive two upright clamps arms 85. Each upright clamp arm 85 is rigid with a horizontal arm 86. Thus the arms 85 and 86 cooperate to form two bell crank shaped tree clamping members. These two bell crank shaped clamping members are pivotally connected with cach other by a pivot 87. An inwardly directed toothed hook 88 is provided on the upper end portion of each upright clamp arm 85.

Two relatively inclined links 89 have their respective upper ends connected by two pivots 90 with the horizontal bell crank arms 86 and have their lower ends connected by a common pivot 91 with another link 92. The lower end portion of the link 92 is connected by a pivot 93 with a foot lever 94 which is fulcrumed on the base 80.

The pivot 91, see Fig. 6, is slidable in an upright slot 95 in the frame 81 and a compression spring 96 yieldingly urges said pivot member 91 upwardly. A tension spring 97 is connected between the pivot 87 and a iiXed support such as the bracket 83 to carry the weight of the two bell crank members 85 and 86, and to yieldingly urge the pivot 87 upwardly. This holds the bell crank members in a raised and spread apart position, such as the position in which they are shown in Fig. 7.

Downward pressure on the foot pedal 94 will first angularly move the upper end portions of the bell crank arms 85 toward each other. This will position the hooks 88 over the trunk of a tree 32 which rests in the V-shaped support 83. Further downward movement of pedal 94 will draw the bell cranks 85--86 and hooks 88 downwardly and securely clamp the tree to the member 83. The upper end portions of the members 85 are outwardly inclined and said upper end portions will be further moved toward each other by engagement with the outer end walls of the slots 84 as the arm members 85 are moved downward. Thus the bell crank members 85 will cooperate with the V-shaped member 83 to always position tree butts of varying shape and size so that their axes will be in the vertical medial plane of the apparatus shown in Figs. 5, 6 and 7. However, the position of the axes of tree butts of different size will vary as respects their horizontal planes or up and down positioning, and this can be compensated for in the can aligning means as hereinafter explained.

The means for applying a tin can to the butt end portion of a tree which is clamped in the tree supporting devices just described comprises a can holder 98 mounted for movement toward and away from the tree butt. The can holder 98 is herein shown as cylindrical but its shape may be varied. The receptacle 98 is secured to two anglebrackets 99, see Figs. 5, 6 and 8. The angle brackets 99 are adjustably secured to a plate 100 by screws 101 which pass through slots 102 and are threaded into the plate 100. This provides for vertical adjustment of the can holder 98 relative to the plate 100. Preferably the screws 102 are adjusted tight enough so that the angle brackets 99 will be held by friction in any position to which they are set, but can be vertically adjusted manually by movement of a lever 103. The lever 103 is fulcrumed on a pivot member 104 which is rigid with the plate 100 and said lever 103 is connected as by slot and pin means 105 and a bracket 106 with the can holder receptacle 98.

The plate 100 is carried on a bar 107 which is supported for longitudinal movement in a bearing 108. Rotary movement of the bar 107 is prevented by any suitable means, such as a key member 109 rigid with the bearing 108 and operating in a groove or keyway 110 in 10 the bar 107. A lever 111 is connected by a pivot 112 with the bar 107 for moving the bar 107 longitudinally. An end portion of the lever 111 is connected by a pivot 113 with an end portion of a link 114 and another end portion of the link 114 is supported on a xed pivot 115.

The ilanges of the angle brackets 99 preferably overlap the rear end of the can holder 98 land form stops 116, see Fig. 8, against which the rear end of a can may abut. These stops 116 are spaced apart and may be partially cut away, as shown in Fig. 8, to provide ample space for driving a nail through the bottom end of a can into the butt end of a tree after the can has been telescoped onto the tree butt.

In the use of the tree holding and can applying means an operator standing alongside of theA same places a properly prepared tree 32 in the holding brackets 82 and 83; clamps the same by stepping on the foot pedal 94; places a properly prepared can 54 in the receptacle 98 with the radially slotted end of the can toward the tree butt 53; adjusts the receptacle 98 vertically to position the axis of the can 54 substantially coincident with the axis of the tree; moves the lever 111 clockwise as viewed in Fig. 5 to telescope the can over the tree butt; drives a nail through the bottom of the can into the tree butt; moves the lever 111 counter-clockwise, a viewed in Fig. 5, to withdraw the receptacle 98 and takes his foot oi of the lever 94 thus allowing the clamping members 85--86 to return to the released position shown in Fig. 7.

Fig. 9 shows alternative means for clamping and holding a Christmas tree. This means uses a V-shaped support 117 similar to the support 83 of Figs. 5, 6, and 7, but omits the two bell crank members and 86 and uses instead a single upright tree holding member 11S having a toothed tree engaging hook 119 on the upper end thereof. The member 118 is slidably supported in a guide member 120 and said member 118 has a cam surface 121 which is positioned to engage with a roller 122. The roller 122 is carried by the guide member 120. The lower end portion of the member 118 is pivotally connected with a foot lever 123. Preferably a tension spring 124 is used to normally hold the member 118 and foot lever 123 in a raised position and another spring 125 is provided to urge the member 118 to the right as respects the showing in Fig. 9 so that the member 118 will automatically move to the position in which it is shown in said Fig. 9 when the foot leverl 123 is released. When a tree is supported in the bracket 117 and the foot lever 123 is depressed, the member 118 will first be moved toward the tree by the action of the cam surface 121 and roller 122, and the hook member 119 will then be drawn straight down onto the tree to securely clamp the same.

In the tree holding means shown in Figs. 5 to 9 one of the members which supports the butt portion of the tree while the can is being applied thereto is xed and nonmovable. With such a device it is obvious that the position of the aXis of trees of different diameter will vary and for this reason it is necessary to provide means, such as the means shown in Figs. 5, 6 and 8 for adjusting the position of the can 54 before the can is pushed over the butt of the tree.

Fig. l0 shows a tree clamping device which will center trees of different size to the same axial line and clamp the same irrespective of differences in the diameters of said trees. This is accomplished by providing at least two tree clamping members which are movable synchronously toward and away from a common central axis, and which will always center the tree on the same axial line irrespective of the size of the tree. When the tree clamping means shown in Fig. 10 is used., it is not necessary to provide means for adjusting the can receptacle 93 in a direction transverse to the direction of its longitudinal movement.

One tree clamping means which will always centerv trees of dilerent size on the same axis is shown in Fig. 10. This device' comprises two tree clamping members 126 and 127, each slidably movable in a bearing 128 toward and away from a predetermined. center or axis. 129. Two levers 130 are connected as by slot and pin type pivot means, 131 tothe respective tree. clamping members 126 and 127. Each lever 130.y is fulcrumed on a pivot 132. The lower end portions of the levers 1301 are respectivelyy connected by two. links 133. with. a pivot member 134. of a vertically movable slide 135v which is guided in vertical guide means 136. A foot' levery 137 mounted on fulcrum 138 is also connected with the pivot 134. A spring 13.9 yieldingly urges the foot lever 137 upwardly and. in. so doing normally holds. the tree clamping mem.- bers 126, and 127 in spread apart position. Downward movement of the foot lever 127 will tend to align the toggle links 133l and this will move the levers. 130 through elqual4 angles thus moving the tree clamping members 126 and 127 equal distances toward. the central axis 129. This centers any tree which is placed between the members 126. and 127 on; the axis 129. The axis 129 is positionedl coincident with the axis on which a can is supported in the receptacle 98 and when the tree holding structure shown in Fig. l is used,l it is not necessary to provide for vertically adjusting the. receptacle 98.

Fig. l1 shows pneumatic means for applying a can to the butt portion of a tree. This pneumatic means can be used in place of the manually operated means shown in. Figs., and 6., On said Fig. ll the parts 98' to 106 inclusive are the. same as those shown in Figs. 5, 6, and 9 and: previously described. The pneumatic means shown in Fig. il for supporting and moving the can carrying parts comprises a cylinder 141) mounted on a support such as the frame 81 and having therein a piston 141 connected with a pistonl rod 142 which is secured to and carries the plate 100. Guide means 143 is provided for the plate 100 to prevent rotary movement ofA said plate. A four way valve 144 is connected by two conduits 145 and 146 with the respective end portions. of the cylinder 140. Also the valve 144 has an exhaust port 147 and is connected with an inlet conduit 14S through which air under pressure is supplied to said valve. When the rotary member of said valve 144 is in the position shown in Fig. l1, air under pressure will be supplied through conduit 146 to one end portion of the cylinder 140 and the other end portion thereof will be open to exhaust through the conduit 145. Clockwise movement of the rotary member of valve 144 will first close said valve 144 to the flow of air therethrough and. will then reverse theA above described connections as respects inlet. of air to and exhaust of air from the cylinder 149. Thus, the can holder 98 which receives. the. can 54 can be reciprocably moved pneumatically in response to operation of the valve 144.

After a tree 32v has had a can 54 installed thereon, it is removed from the brackets 82 and S3 and passed to; an. operator who injects wet. material into said can. One, way to do this is to thrust through the top of the. can 54 a small pointed tube 149, Fig. 4, which has an outlet opening on its pointed end and is connected with any suitable means from which wet material,l such as wet peat moss. or saw dust, can be injected into the can.

Fig. l6 shows one device which can be satisfactorily used for filling cans 54 with wet materialv after the cans have been applied to the butt ends of Christmas trees.. This device comprises a cylinder 150 having a taperedl forward end portion 151 provided with a smallI pointed nozzle tube 149 which may be projected through the top end portion 55 of a can 5.4 on a tree butt and through which wet material 152 may be introduced into. the can. The nozzle tube is of relatively small diameter and the, characteristics of the wet material 152 are such as to prevent objectionable leakage. of the wet material. The. cylinder 159 has a hopper 153 for wet material communicating therewith through an opening 154 and a driven feed screw 155 is. provided in the hopper 153. tov feed the wetmaterial 152. from the hopper 153v into the. cylinder 150. A piston 156 is reciprocably disposed in the cylinder 150.- to force wet material out of the nozzletube 149..

A piston4 rod 157 is secured to the piston 156y and extends outwardly through the rear end of the cylindery 150. and through a spacer member 15S carriedy by the rear end portion of said cylinder 150. A relatively long compression spring 159 is interposed between. the spacer member 158 and a plate 160 on the outer end portion of the piston rod 157 to move the piston into theV retracted position in which it is shown in Fig.` 16. A shorter compression spring 161 is provided on the piston rod 15'7 between the spacer member 158 and tvvov nuts; 162 on said piston rod 157 to serve as a shock absorb-- ing stop member for the pistonV 156. The distance of travel of the piston 156 can be varied by adjusting the. nuts 162.

The piston 156 is moved to the left from the position in whichy it is shown in Fig. 16, by admitting air under pressure to the left end. of' the cylinder 150, through a conduit 163. The inlet and exhaust of air under pres.- sure to said. cylinder is preferably automatically controlled by the pressing of a can against the nozzle tube 149. This control can be attai-ned by the use of a valve 164 shown diagrammatically in Fig. 16. The valve 164 hasv an exhaust port 165 and is connected with a compressed air inlet pipe 166. A solenoid 167 can be provided to move the valve 164 into a position to establish communication between the conduits 163 and 165 when said solenoid is energized. A spring 168 can be used to move the valve 164 and establish communication between the conduit 163 and the exhaust port 165 when the solenoid 167 is de-energized. A normally open switch 169 in the circuit 170 of the solenoid 16.7 is arranged to be closed by pressure of a can 54 against a lever 171 when the can. is applied to the nozzle tube 149.

The feed screw can operate continuously and will always keep the portion of the cylinder in front, of the piston 156 filled with wet material. When a can 5.4 on the butt of a tree is jammed against the nozzle tube 149 hard enough so that the nozzle tube is caused to perforate the end of the can, said can 54 will strike against the lever 171 and close the switch 169.. This will energize the solenoid 167 and' move the valve 164k to close the exhaust port 16,5 and admit compressed air to the cylinder 15.0 through conduits 166 and 163. Asy the. piston 156 moves to. the right from the retracted` positi'on in which it is shown in Fig. 16, it will rst crowd some wet material back up into the hopper 153 until said. piston laps and completely closes the opening 154 and will thereafter force the wet material through the nozzle tube 149 into the can 54. As soon as the piston. 156 reaches the end of its stroke the can 54 willv be removed from the nozzle tube 149. This allows nor-1 mally open switch 169 to open thus cie-energizing solenoid 167 and allowing the spring 159 to move the piston 156 back to its starting position. The constant rotary movement of the feed screw 155 and' the surging of material in the hopper 153 due to the operation of the. piston 156 keeps the wet material in said hopper stirred. up and agitated at all times and prevents separation of the solids and liquids thereof.

In the tree packaging means shown in Fig. 18, a tree 32; with a moisture receptacle 54 thereon is adapted to have its limbs compressed by pulling it throughA a funnel shaped member 173'. The member 173 preferably is mounted by a bracket 174 on a table 175. A short neck. portion 176v isl provided on the funnel` shaped member 173' to support one end portion of a carton 3.0. The, other end portion of the carton 30 can be. supported by an adjustable bracket 177 which is provided with a. shoulder 178 against which, the end of the carton 30 may engage to prevent endwise movement. of the carton 30 as the tree 32 is. pulled into it... The bracket. 1'7"] may be, supported andv guided by a lug 179 andl a` bolt 13 180 which pass through a longitudinal slot 181 in the table 175.

The tree may be pulled into the carton 30 manually by the use of a pull rod 182 having a hook 183 on one end and a handle 184 on the other end. The funnel shaped member 173 and neck portion 176 will eiectively compress the tree branches and will hold these branches until the tree is partly in the carton 30 but there will be some rubbing of these branches along the walls of the carton as the tree is pulled thereinto.

The tree packing apparatus shown in Figs. 19 and 20 is similar to that shown in Fig. 18 except that roller means is used to compress the limbs of the tree. In Figs. 19 and 20 the parts 30, 32, 54, 175 and 177 to 184 inclusive are similarto the corresponding parts shown in Fig. 18 `and are similarly numbered. In Figs. 18 and 19 the forward end portion of the carton 30 is supported on pins 185 on an upright plate 186 which is mounted on the table 175. The plate has an opening 187 therein through which the tree can pass and said plate has a plurality of rollers 188 rotatively mounted on the forward side thereof around the opening 187. The rollers 188 are positioned so that they will engage with and compress the tree limbs when a tree 32 is pulled toward the carton 30,` Fig. 19. The rollers 188 reduce friction and make it easier to pull the tree into the carton and this saves labor where the tree is pulled into the carton manually. Fig. 2l shows Christmas tree packaging means which may be used to facilitate placing Christmas trees in cartons which are closed at the ends and have one open side, herein referred to as the top, This means comprises two tree branch compressing walls 189 and 190 which converge toward each other from their top edges downwardly and which terminate at their lower portions in parallel spaced apart side walls 191 and 192. The parallel side walls 191 and 192 are spaced apart far enough to receive therebetween a carton cornprising two side walls 193 and 194, a bottom wall 195, a top or cover member 196, and two end walls 197, only one of which is shown.

Movable supporting means is provided for the bottom of the carton so that the carton can be allowed to drop clear of the packaging mechanism after a tree has been placed therein. One such movable supporting means for the bottom of the carton, as shown in Fig. 21, comprises two gates or trap doors 198 secured to shafts 199 and movable between the position shown by full lines and the position shown by broken lines. Torsion springs 200 may be provided on the shafts 199 to yieldingly hold the gates 198 in the horizontal position shown by full lines. Two levers 201 on the respective shafts 199 are connected by links 202 and 203 with a foot lever or pedal 204. Downward movement of the end portion of the foot pedal 204 shown at the right in Fig. 2l will move the gates 198 downwardly into the broken line position and allow a lled carton to drop or be pushed out of the packaging means. Upon release of the foot pedal 204 the springs 200 will move and hold the gates 198 up in the carton supporting position.

Preferably an offset 205 is provided in the inclined wall 190 so that the carton cover 196 will lie ush with or slightly beneath the plane of the inner surface of the upper wall portion 190. This will protect the carton cover and minimize the danger of tree branches catching on the upper edges of the same. In a similar manner an offset portion 206 is preferably provided at the juncture of the walls 189 and 191 to overhang and protect the top edge portion of the carton on that side of the packaging device. Usually the carton will be made of cardboard and is ilexible enough so that it can easily be pushed down into the position shown in Fig. 21.

In packaging Christmas trees with the apparatus shown in Fig. 2l, the operator places a carton in the apparatus `by inserting the carton from the top and pushing it down 14 t t into the position shown. He then places a Christmas tree between the convergent walls 189 and 190 and pushes it down into the carton. As the tree is pushed down its branches are compressed on two sides by the? walls 189 and 190 `and on the top and bottom by the pressure exerted by the operator and the tree is delivered into the carton without damage to either the tree or the carton. The carton is then released onto any suitable support, after which the top limbs are pushed downwardly into the carton and the cover 1.96 is closed and sealed.

The mode of operation is largely set forth in the mechanical description and in the introductory part of the specication. The mode of operation when read in conjunction with the drawings will readily be understood. The method and means for packing a Christmas tree as herein set forth provides for the same in 'a most economical and eicient manner. The compressingtof the limbs and placing of the tree within the carton provides for this to be accomplished without injury to the carton, and provides for utilizing such resiliency of the limbs in maintaining the tree against jars and rough handling in shipping. The can with the wet material in the same is supported withconsiderable resiliency in the carton by means of the compressed limbs, and this is true even though other packing material may be used to assist in supporting the can and in ensuring non-injury of the carton by the can. The water maintains and keeps the trees in good shape when added to the peat moss. Cutting the butt of the tree to the form of a frustum of a cone greatly facilitates the absorption of the water supplied through the wet medium in the receptacle. Furthermore, if it is desired, chemicals may be added to the water previous to the water being added to the peat moss, or saw dust, or like material, to facilitate the water absorption. On the market there are standard chemical products employed for keeping cut flowers. These chemicals operate on water absorption aids, and are readily obtained on the market. A typical one of these products which I have used at times, is sold under the name of Needle-Kling. Be it noted, however, it is not necessary in my invention to employ such chemicals, the use of the same being only advantageous. The water soaked medium as peat moss or saw dust in the receptacle secured to the butt end of the tree operates to` give a continued source of moisture to the tree, and thereby keeps the limbs of the tree in a condition which permits them to spring open to their normal forrn when released from the carton, and allows the tree to assume its natural symmetrical condition. Furthermore, the tree would be found to have its aromatic, green and fresh condition which characterizes the growing evergreen tree thereby providing customers with a natural Christmas tree even though they reside in a section of the country remote from where such trees grow naturally.

Obviously, changes may be made in the steps of the method of packaging and in the means of packaging the Christmas tree without departing from the substance of the invention herein set forth.

I claim:

1. A Christmas tree packaging mechanism comprising a table; a Christmas tree having a moisture retaining container mounted on the butt end; a Christmas tree supporting cradle for said Christmas tree mounted upon one end portion of said table; a Christmas tree limb compressing mold mounted on and in spaced relation above said table, said mold having a funnel shaped front end portion adjacent said cradle and a rear end portion in general alignment with the longitudinal axis of said cradle; and a carton having a wax lining sealing and of a form retaining stiffness having an open front and rear end, the front end portion being frictionally, slidably, releasably mounted on said mold rearwardly of said funnel, said mold assuming the compressing strains of the stiff lower limbs as the tree is pulled butt wise through said mold, and into the rear end of the carton and then as the stiff lower limbs are gradually radially released from the mold, the rounded portions of the bent limbs engage and press against the waxed walls of the carton in a non-injuring manner and cause the carton to move with the tree in pulling the carton from the mold, said limbs functioning to axially, resiliently and floatingly suspend the moisture retaining container in the carton while the tree is being shipped in the wax sealed carton.

2. A Christmas tree packaging mechanism comprising a table; a Christmas treey supporting cradle mounted upon one end portion of said table; a tree limb compressing mold horizontally as to its longitudinal axis mounted on and in spaced relation above said table, said mold having ya funnel shaped front end portion adjacent said cradle and a rear end portion, the vertical plane of the longitudinal axis of which coincides substantially with a vertical plane through the longitudinal axis of said cradle; and a carton of a form retaining stiffness having an open front and rear end, the front end portion only being frictionally, slidably, and releasably mounted on said mold rearwardly of said funnel, and being pulled simultaneously free of said mold by the gradual engagement of the stiif lower tree limbs with the rear walls of the carton as the pulling on the butt end portion of the4 tree is continued in drawing the tree to be packaged through the mold.

3. A Christmas tree packaging mechanism comprising a table; a Christmas tree supporting means mounted upon one end portion of said table; a tree limb compressing tubular mold mounted by its front end on and in spaced relation to said table having the major portion of said tube externally unobstructed, said mold having a funnel shaped front end portion adjacent said supporting means, and a rear end portion in substantial alignment with the longitudinal axis of said supporting means; and a carton of a form retaining stiffness having an open front and rear end, the front end portion being frictionally, slidably, releasably, telescopically mounted on said mold rearwardly of said funnel, said carton being pulled free thereof as the tree to be packaged is pulled butt end first through the mold.

4. A Christmas tree packaging mechanism comprising a table; a Christmas tree supporting cradle mounted upon one end portion of said table; a tree limb compressing mold horizontal as to its longitudinal axis mounted on and in spaced relation above said table, said mold having a funnel shaped front end portion adjacent said cradle and a rear end portion, the vertical plane of the longitudinal axis of which coincides substantially with a vertical plane through the longitudinal axis of said cradle; and a carton of a form retaining stiffness having an open front and rear end, the front end portion being frictionally, slidably, releasably mounted on said mold rear- Wardly of said funnel, and being pulled simultaneously free of said mold by the gradual engagement of the stii lower tree limbs with the rear wall of Ythe carton as the pulling on the butt end portion of the tree is continued in drawing the tree to be packaged through the mold in dividing the carton into two compartments, one rearwardly of said stiff limbs in which the butt is resiliently held with a collapsed mounting stand, and one in front of said stil limbs in which the top is located with greens preventing the tree top from whipping about during shipment.

References Cited in the tile of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Re. 14,318 Hayashi June 19, 1917 Re. 22,420 Du Puis Ian. 18, 1944 891,443 Ruif June 23, 1908 1,187,120 Young June 13, 1916 1,566,808 Baker Dec. 22, 1925 1,600,012 Pollock Sept. 14, 1926 1,615,008 Ferguson Ian. 18, 1927 1,664,913 Bewley Apr. 3, 1928 1,734,159 Dolan Nov. 5, 1929 1,831,176 Holm-Hansen Nov. 10, 1931 1,908,117 Clapp May 9, 1933 1,955,347 Sherman Apr. 17, 1934 1,964,689 Quillen et a1. June 26, 1934 2,112,872 Wilson Apr. 5, 1938 2,342,369 Ransbottom Feb. 22, 1944 2,393,102 Gribner `Tan. 15, 1946 2,444,744

Mossholder July 6, 1948

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U.S. Classification47/84, 269/296, 100/144, 53/530, 53/255, 206/423, 269/153, 100/295, 53/527, 269/218
International ClassificationA47G33/04, A47G33/00, B65B25/02
Cooperative ClassificationA47G33/04, B65B25/02
European ClassificationA47G33/04, B65B25/02