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Publication numberUS3416438 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 17, 1968
Filing dateAug 18, 1967
Priority dateJun 26, 1967
Also published asUS3416437
Publication numberUS 3416438 A, US 3416438A, US-A-3416438, US3416438 A, US3416438A
InventorsDrace Lawrence V, Weatherly Earl E
Original AssigneeEarl E. Weatherly, Lawrence V. Drace
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Laundry loaders
US 3416438 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Dec. 17, 19.68 E, WEATHERLY ETAL 3,416,438

LAUNDRY LoADERsv v Filed Aug, 18, 1967 3 sheets-sheet 1 iliiir'l..

.E1/u. Mme-RLY AW/uwer Imcg De@ 17) 1968 I E. E. WEATHERLY ETAI. 3,416,438

LAUNDRY LoADERs Filed Aug 18J 34.957 y `3 Sheets-Sheet'2 INVENTORS E. E. WEATHERLY ET AL LAUNDRY LOADERS D ec. 17, 1968 Filed Aug. 18. 196'? ,f5 {Sheets-Sheet g United States Patent O 3,416,438 LAUNDRY LOADERS Earl E. Weatherly, 9714 Ramona Ave., Bellflower, Calif. 90706, and Lawrence V. Drace, 2020 Howard Ave., Las Vegas, Nev. 89105 Continuation-impart of application Ser. No. 648,676, June 26, 1967. This application Aug. 18, 1967, Ser. N0. 661,680

13 Claims. (Cl. 100-218) ABSTRACT F THE DISCLOSURE An open-top bin having one bottom-hinged wall outtiltable from rectangular-bin configuration, is pivotally suspended within a horizontal U-shaped yoke of a dolly, so as to accumulate laundry items dropped into the outtilted open-top bin. The movable wall is then intilted to laterally compress the load, and the compacted bin is rotated a quarter turn over a horizontal free-roller which forms the cross-arm of the U-yoke, and allows limited longitudinal movement of the tilted bin therealong. This projects the bin into the mouth of a side-loading washer for discharge, effected by means of a pallet forming the bin-bottom being then drawn lengthwise by a motoroperated endless belt which is looped over a bin side-Wall. Bin rotation as well as wall tilting are separately effected, each by a pair of parallel, universal-jointed jack screws, each pair driven respectively by a reversible electric motor, one carried by the dolly frame and the other by the bin.

This is a continuation-in-part of our pending application Ser.V No. 648,676, filed June 26, 1967, entitled Laundry Loaders.

Synopsis of the invention This invention relates to devices for handling quantities of loose materials such as pieces of fabric, like clothing and other laundry items. The invention provides a loading assembly characterized by a variable-size open-top bin adapted to have such compressible items dropped therein, such bin in loading position having a generally rectangular-walled, upwardly-diverging funnel shape, which after filling, can then have one or more of its longitudinal walls intilted to form a parallel-walled chute of uniform crosssection which in intiting laterally compresses the loose contents of the bin. Means are provided then to rotate the loaded chute to a transverse position and extend it longitudinally a short distance into the mouth of a receptacle such as a Washing machine, and thereupon to eject its contents through the open end into the receptacle. Successive operating means then withdraw and revert the empty assembly to its initial upright and outspread-sidewall loading position, ready to begin another cycle.

A loader of this general description, which is operated by compressed air, is described and claimed in our pending application above-identified. In contrast, the present construction is operated by (a trio of) reversible electric motors, and also differs from the structure of the cited application in a number of important features: The present invention utilizes parallel pairs of (motor driven) universal-jointed, jack screws to effect both the inand out-tilting of the bottom-hinged bin wall, and (separately) the quarter-rotation of the then laterally compacted or intilted bin, in its pivoted movement back and forth between loading and discharge positions. In addition, the supporting frame or dolly provides a free roller as the cross arm of a horizontally-disposed, U-shaped yoke, between the arms of which the bin is pivotally suspended so as (at all times) to rest movably against or upon the free roller which thus serves as a rotational axis 3 ,4 l 6 ,43 8 Patented Dec. l 7, 1 968 ICC for the bin and enables limited longitudinal movement of the compacted bin thereover.

Between each side of the bin and the respective U-arm of the supporting yoke, is located a generally arcuate, (enclosed) track or guideway, fixed to the dolly frame (or alternatively to the bin). A suspension arm, aligned like the spoke of a wheel to the arcuate track, is secured at one end to a roller which is retained on the track and by the arm is lengthwise movable therealong, the other end of the arm being fixedly attached to the track-opposing structure (i.e. whichever of the bin or frame the track is not attached to). However, although the main stretch of the track is radiused from the attachment point of the suspension arm, the latter is not radial to a concentric arc through the bin-roller of the yoke; but at the end of the arcuate stretch of the track, the latter continues for a successive, linear stretch. This enables lengthwise movement of the bin after its initial rotation on the free roller so that it is then projected for a short distance into the mouth of the washing machine. These successive movements along the concentric stretches of the track are both effected by the bottomor pallet-end of the bin being swung between upright and transverse positions by (vertical) travel of couplings cross-hinged to the bin and threadedly carried by the pair of parallel jack screws which are upstanding from the dolly frame. (Motordriven) rotation of the pair of jack screws in one direction or the other thus serves to raise or lower the palletend of the bin, causing the latter both to rotate and move lengthwise on the cross roller, following the configuration of the side tracks which are fixed on the dolly frame. Easy drive of the bin in opposite directions along such deviating-course track is obtained by joint use of universal-jointed jack screws and their ball-bearing loaded nuts which are cross-hinged to the bin wall and thus move lengthwise along the rotating screws.

Such a unit eliminates the past piece-by-piece hand loading of a washing or drying machine, which process is both tedious and time-consuming (as well as a potential health-hazard in handling hospital derived laundry). In some instances, hand loading may take longer than the actual washing or drying operation, and in any event it undesirably consumes human labor which could be more profitably and agreeably employed elsewhere. Especially in a continuous operating, volume-type operation such as a commercial laundry or dry-cleaning plant, the present mobile unit is particularly adapted to service a plurality of such washing or drying machines, the unit being moved from one adjacent machine to another (manually when empty) along a short path so as to successively charge a batch or load into each in timed sequence. Such individual batches, typically presorted and weighed, may be brought to the vicinity of each washer or dryer by an overhead conveyer such as a sling or endless belt, or otherwise may be accumulated in an overhead hopper.

The objects of the invention include the provision of such improved charging or loading units or assemblies and the attainment of related advantages which will become apparent from the following description of a presently preferred embodiment of the invention which is illustrated in the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIGURE 1 is a side elevational view of the loaderunit with the bin shown swung transverse or horizontally to its load-discharge position.

FIGURE 2 is a horizontal sectional View taken along the line 2-2 of FIGURE l.

FIGURE 3 is a vertical sectional view taken through the horizontally-disposed bin of FIGURE 1 as viewed along the line 3-3.

FIGURE 4 is a side elevational view of the unit of FIGURE 1 with the bin in upswung, open, loading position, and the nearer side wall of the dolly removed, with the base plate appearing in section.

FIGURE 5 is a longitudinal section taken through the horizontally-disposed bin as viewed .along the line 5-5 of FIGURE l.

FIGURE 6 is an enlarged end view of the horizontal bin as viewed along the line 6-6 of FIGURE 1; and

-FIGURE 7 is an axial section, partly in elevation, through a ball bearing loaded nut mounted on a jack screw.

As seen particularly in FIGURES l and 4, there is provided a mobile carriage or dolly C having a frame formed of two permanently upright and generally parallel, faceseparated parts or sides 10, 12, plus a foundation or base plate 14 dependently supported on floor wheels or rollers 16, 17, 18, 19. Upon the base, externally adjacent one side wall 12, is an enclosed tower 11, capped by an operating panel 13 carrying control switches for the three electric motors. Transversely connecting the inner faces of the spaced sides 10, 12, in a generally horizontal, channel member supporting along its upper edge a free roller 22 of somewhat shorter length than the cross brace 20 land longitudinally centered therealong. The upper margins of the side walls 10, 12, together with the cross brace 20 and roller 22, thus form a generally horizontallydisposed, U-shaped yoke, of which the side arms (10, 12) pivotally support the bin B between them.

Within the generally rectangular channel area defined by the paired side walls 10, 12, there is mounted-in rolling registration with the free roller 22 and held permanently suspended above the base plate 14-an open-top, generally rectangular bin B, characterized by three fixed longitudinal walls 24, 25, 26 (FIG. 3) and a hinged wall 27 movable on a transverse hinge axis H (FIGS. 4 and 6) toward and away from the other walls. By reason of a pair of lateral wings 29, 30l extending along the respective longitudinal edges of the tiltable wall 27, the four walls jointly form a complete lateral enclosure at all times, but which has a variable internal capacity and variable-size entry mouth 28, depending upon the angular disposition of the hinged wall 27. When the latter is outswung with the bin in upright position (FIG. 4), in conjunction with the fixed walls 24, 25, 26 it forms an upwardly diverging funnel disposed to (gravitationally) receive laundry items L or the like dropped fro-m an overhead hopper or `sling S which carries or `accumulates a collection of such items and releases them, usually batchwise in weighed amounts.

A rod 37 with end-couplings 37a, is journalled in bearing ears 34, 36 projecting from the fixed wall segment 27a (FIG. 6), with each coupling 37a embracing an upstanding jack screw 62, `63 and secured to a corresponding ball bearing loaded nut 3S, 39 which is rotatably traversed by the partic-ular jack screw in driving relation. The jack screws 62, 63 have their lower ends connected to lbevel gears G3, G4 which are mounted on the base 14 and cross connected by a drive shaft `60. The first gear assembly G3 is operated by a drive belt S8 from a reversible motor M2 (FIG. 2) `which is also mounted on the base 14. Each jack screw 62, 63 is lformed with a universal joint K intermediate its two points of attachment (i.e. between the gear box G3 or G4 and the cross connected nuts 38, 39).

Each lateral wing 29, 30 of the hinged wall has an outwardly-projecting hanger bracket 48, 49 which pivotally mounts a ball bearing loaded nut 40, 41, the aperture of which is rotatively traversed by a respective worm or screw 42, 44. Each of these screws is also formed with a universal joint I intermediate its length and is proximately linked to a transverse, drive shaft 43, 45 through a bevel gear assembly G1, G2. The latter are driven in unison by a bin-carried reversible motor M1 through drive shafts 46, 47 (FIG. 3). Thus, by means of the motor Ml, the bottom-hinged or tiltable `wall 27 changes between a bin of (outtilted) funnel shape (FIG, 4l) and a (generally rectangular) discharge or chute-shape (FIG. 3) of uniform cross section. Such actuating means are mo-unted on a T-shaped bracket secured to the front wall 25.

A bottom closure for the bin B is provided .by a movable pallet P, normally located within the lower bin area adjacent the bottom 15 within the deeper `fully-rigid bin length segment defined by the fixed wall segment 27a. The periphery of the pallet and particularly of its contact face 66 corresponds in shape to the interior of the bin (both of which may be curved at the corners), that is, the chuteor discharge-shape, when the hinged wall 27 is inswung, so that the pallet accordingly is easily movable lengthwise therealong, acting as a ram to expel the compacted load. The pallet is formed by a peripheral frame 68 crossbraced by members 69, 70 which locate an opposite pair of rollers 71, 72, each held in a bifurcate mount 73, 74 so as to rollingly contact the inner face of the respective bin-wall 24 or 26. The remaining fixed wall 25 Iis engaged :by ball contacts 75, 76. To obtain positive movement of the pallet in each direction, there is provided a ribbed or slotted, endless belt A, which at opposite ends of its stetch is led over a flanged sprocket drive wheel 78 and flanged idler wheel 79, with one stretch 80 spaced outward from, yand spacedly overlying, the parallel, lateral wing 30, and its return stretch 82 closely overlying the inner face of fixed wall 26, within a shallow channel or guideway 81.

The belt enters the interior of the bin B through an upper slot 83, and at the other end enters the open bottom beneath the pallet at 84. Initially the free ends of the belt A are brought together at one side of the pallet and jointly inserted through la slot 85 beneath a cross plate S6 of the pallet frame, and then clamped or bolted together by the fastener 87 which has an eyebolt 88 connected to an anchorage member 89 by a turnbuckle 90. The shaft 91 of the sprocket drive 78 is driven from a bin-carried motor M3 by a shaft 92 held in bearing mounts 93, 94. M3 also is a three-phase, reversible electric motor which thus moves the pallet in bo-th directions. It will be seen also, that at the extreme discharge position of the pallet (when at the left of FIG. 5), the contact plate 66 projects out beyond the `mouth of the discharging bin, so as to press laundry pieces further into the mouth of the lwasher in which are have been loaded. In other words, it is not sufiicient merely to dispose the last of the laundry pieces on the edge of the outer aperture of the washer mouth from whence it may fall to the iioor before the door is closed; it must be pushed or delivered inside a minimum distance which places it within the kinner rotary shell of the washing or drying machine. In other words, there should be an axial depth to the pallet so that it can extend beyond the bin mouth. Thus when the clamping slot 85 stops at the wall aperture 83, the height of the pallet thereabove is greater than the distance to the edge of the bin mouth 28.

Fixedly attached to the inner face of each upright side wall 10, 12 of the frame and projecting upward therefrom, is a generally tubular, or closed track T1, T2, approximately rectangular in cross section, with slot or opening 50 extending longitudinally therealong (FIG. 2.). Retained within each longitudinal track is a wheel-trolley W having a suspension arm or bar 52 projecting spoke-like outwardly through the slot 50. The outer stem or terminous of the bar 52 is then secured to an attachment fitting 55 which is xedly mounted on the respective side wall 24, 26 of the bin. The arm 52 is thus generally radial to a curved or arcuate section D of the track, which is succeeded by a generally straight o-.r linear section E.

However it will be seen from a comparison of the two extreme positions of FIGURES 1 and 4 that in making such a transit, the trolley attachment arm 52, SS-xed to the 4bin wall 24 or 26--also changes its slant relative to the fixed track 'T (which is carried by the side arms 10, 12 of the U-yoke). This adjustability which makes possible the horizontal thrust of the quarter-turned bin,

is also dependent upon the lateral flexibility of the pair of bin-suspending jack screws 62, 63 which results from their universal joints K. The functional effectiveness of these screws, in turn, results from the use of the nuts, the screw-engaging surfaces of which consist of ball bearings retained within the body of the screw (FIGURE 7). Such ball bearing loaded nuts are stated to have a mechanical efficiency of approximately 90% in converting torque to thrust. They are an available article of commerce, supplied for example by the Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors, Corporation, Saginaw, Mich., U.S.A.

Summary of operation By such mounting, the bin B, which is always suspended above the base 14 lbetween the side walls or arms 10, 12 of the yoke and resting against the free roller 22, is freely movable (even when loaded with several hundred pounds of laundry) a quarter turn or approximately 90l between the upright loading position of FIGURE 4 and the transverse, discharge position of FIGURE l. At the end of the arcuate portion D of the track, movement along the lineal track portion E projects the bin forward or longitudinally along the transverse position so as to extend it more-orless inside the mouth of a side-loading washing or drying machine or other receptacle. Starting from the outspread, drop-loading position of FIGURE 4, the bottom-hinged wall 27 is rst .intilted to rectangular-chute position by action of the reversible motor M1 in jointly rotating the bin-carried pair of universal-jointed worms or screws 42, 44. Then the laterally compacted load or bin is rotated a quarter turn over the free roller 2 by the trolley W following the track T; this movement is effected by the reversible motor M2 rotating the upstanding pair of universal-jointed jack screws 62, v63 which thus lift the ball bearing loaded nuts 38, 39 and cross rod 37 which is hinged to the rear wall 27a of the bin at 34, 36. This lifts the bottom of the bin, swinging it between the jack screws 62, 63. The load is then ejected from the open mouth 28 of the bin -by the pallet P drawn lengthwise of the bin by the belt 80, 82 in response to the reversible motor M3 which is also carried by the movable bin. Reversal of direction of each of the three motors then restores the corresponding mechanisms to their initial state. The dolly can then be moved to the next receptable and it loaded in a similar manner.

It will be apparent of course that the present construction is not limited to the handling of laundry items, and also that the quarter turn and thrust movement of the bin may be more or less than 90 an'd also need not terminate at vertical and horizontal positions. Various changes of construction and operation can be effected within the present inventive concept which is intended to be construed broadly and not limited to the precise details illustrated and described by way of example.

We claim:

1. A fabric loader of the character described for receiving and laterally compressing a quantity of loose pieces of fabric and the like and then expelling the cornpacted whole as into an aligned aperture of a receptacle such as a washing machine, which loader comprises in combination:

a frame having pivot means positioned along a transverse axis thereof, said frame being disposable adjacent the loading aperture of a receptacle or the like;

an open-end bin pivotally carried by said frame and movable about said pivot means between a loading position and a discharge position transverse thereto, being formed with with lateral enclosure walls longitudinally extending from the frame and collectively secured to said pivot means in position for partial rotation of the bin lbetween loading and discharge positions, thereby to enable fabric pieces to be received in the bin through the open end at loading position, and subsequently to be transversely disposable for discharge of the bin contents therefrom at discharge position at least one of the lateral enclosure walls of said bin being movably mounted for selective contraction and expansion of the -bin by movement toward and away from the longitudinal axis of said bin, thereby to vary the end-opening and internal capacity of the bin between that of an outwardly-diverging funnel-shape when in loading position to that of a chute of generally uniform cross section when in discharge position;

ejector means movable along the length of the bin to progressively empty the same when in discharge position; and operating means adapted (a) for ingathering said lateral enclosure Vwalls from said funnel shape to said discharge chute-shape of the bin, (ib) for rotary movement of said bin about said transverse pivot means between loading and discharge positions, including a partially curved track located intermediate the frame and bin, and a bin-suspension element retained upon said track for movement therealong in rotary movement of the bin about the pivot means, and (c) for moving said ejector means lengthwise of the bin toward the open-end thereof, thereby to eject its contents. 2. The loader of the preceding claim 1 wherein said ejector means comprises a pallet transversely disposed normally within said bin remote from the open-end thereof, and a connected endless conveyor disposed longitudinally along one of said enclosure walls and adapted to move said pallet along the bin length to progressively empty the bin when the latter is in discharge position.

3. The loader of the preceding claim 1 wherein said means for rotary movement of said bin comprises a parallel pair of longitudinal screws each secured at one end to said frame and extending lengthwise along opposite sides of the bin toward the open-end, connection means hingedly securing said screws to said bin, and threadedly engaging the respective screws in driven relation, whereby joint rotation of the pair of screws in one direction or the other will move the bin transverse thereto so as to rotate the bin about said pivot means of the frame.

4. The loader of the preceding claim 3 wherein said screws are each formed with a universal joint located intermediate the attachments of the screw to the frame and to the bin.

5. The loader of the preceding claim 3 wherein the pivot means of said frame comprises a free roller located in crosswise contact with one of said lateral enclosure walls, which wall in shifting between loading and discharge positions is partially lengthwise slidable thereover, and said means for rotary movement of said bin includes a partially curved track located intermediate the frame and bin, and bin-suspension means disposing the bin for said partial rotation of the bin for rotary movement along the path of said trac-k, whereby at one end of such rotary movement the bin may be moved lengthwise in conjunction with said track and suspension means so as to extend and withdraw the open-end of the bin relative to the aperture of a washing machine or the like for discharging the bin contents thereinto.

6. Receiving and discharging apparatus of the character described, comprising in combination:

support means including a generally U-shaped yoke spaced positioned from a base located generally parallel thereto, the cross arm of the U being characterized by free roller means and the side arms of the U having mutually aligned, transverse pivot mounts;

an elongated bin pivotally suspended by and between said pivot mounts intermediate the length of the bin in position for limited rotary movement about and limited longitudinal movement along said free roller means, said bin being adapted to receive and discharge contents through an open end;

longitudinal screw means rotatably secured to said base disposed generally parallel to the bin and threadedly carrying coupling means which are hingedly secured to said bin opposite said free roller means in position to tilt the bin about the roller means upon lengthwise movement of the coupling means along the screw means by rotation of the latter, said screw means being further characterized by a universal joint located intermediate attachment points of the screw means to the base and to the coupling means respectively; and

operating means for rotating said screw means selectively in opposite directions, thus to move the bin between loading and discharge positions.

7. The apparatus of the preceding claim 6 having at least one longitudinal wall of said bin selectively movable toward and away from the longitudinal axis of the bin and having associated lateral enclosure elements which Contact adjacent bin Walls so as t0 vary the capacity of the bin while maintaining continuous lateral enclosure of the bin at any position of the movable wall.

8. The apparatus of the preceding claim 7 which includes a generally parallel pair of universal-jointed jack screws, each connecting said movable wall and adjacent longitudinal walls of the bin, and drive means for rotating said screws in unison, selectively in opposite directions, thereby to move said longitudinal wall toward and away from the longitudinal axis of the bin.

9. The apparatus of the preceding claim 6 which is characterized, adjacent each side arm of the U, by generally curved track means located between the yoke and bin, a rolling element retained upon said track means for movement therealong, and a suspension arm extending from the rolling element and thus functionally connecting said bin and yoke for rotary tilting of the bin about said free roller means upon operation of said screw means.

10. The apparatus of the preceding claim 6 wherein said longitudinal screw means comprises a pair of parallel jack screws disposed adjacent opposite sides of the bin, and said coupling means comprises a pair of ballbearing-loaded nuts, one threadedly mounted on each jack screw, said bin thus being in position upon movement between loading and discharge positions to swing an end of the bin between the respective jack screws.

11. The apparatus of the preceding claim 6 having ejector means movable along the length of the bin to progressively empty the same when in discharge position.

12. The apparatus of the preceding claim 11 wherein said ejector means comprises a pallet transversely disposed normally within said bin remote from the openend thereof and a connected endless conveyor disposed longitudinally along one of said enclosure walls and adapted to move said pallet along the bin length progressively to empty the bin when the latter is in discharge position.

'13. The apparatus of the preceding claim 12 having at least one longitudinal wall of said bin selectively movable toward and away from the longitudinal axis of the bin and having associated lateral enclosure elements which contact adjacent bin walls so as to vary the capacity of the bin while maintaining continuous lateral enclosure of the bin at any position of the movable wall.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 801,963 lO/l905 Beaty. 2,046,607 7/1936 Boulade 68-210 2,538,089 l/l95l Faton 23-290 2,934,349 4/1960 Collette 280-34 3,300,067 l/1967 Johansson et al. 68-210 XR 3,358,861 12/1967 Gelmetti 68-210 XR FOREIGN REFERENCES 24,621 2/ 1963 Germany.

BILLY J. WILI-IITE, Primary Examiner.

IU.-S. Cl. X;R.

68-2l0g l00-233, 229, 289; 214-17, 29, 310, 510

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3513768 *Jun 3, 1968May 26, 1970Kaiser Aluminium Chem CorpMaterial handling apparatus
US3742738 *Jul 26, 1971Jul 3, 1973Mc Graw Edison CoLaundry handling system and equipment
US4154161 *Oct 3, 1977May 15, 1979Up-Right, Inc.Side-loading pulp press
US6463768 *Jun 20, 2000Oct 15, 2002Ellis CorporationCommercial laundry machine with improved loading hopper
US6792777Sep 12, 2002Sep 21, 2004Ellis CorporationCommercial laundry machine with improved loading hopper
US7925376 *Jan 14, 2002Apr 12, 2011Walgreen Co.Dump station apparatus and method for filling stock orders
US8807532 *Oct 3, 2011Aug 19, 2014Whiting CorporationLifting bracket assembly including jack screw connector
US20050050926 *Sep 20, 2004Mar 10, 2005Ellis CorporationCommercial laundry machine with improved loading hopper
US20120193590 *Aug 2, 2012Horwath William ALifting bracket assembly including jack screw connector
U.S. Classification100/218, 100/229.00R, 414/492, 100/289, 414/419, 100/100, 68/210, 414/13, 100/233
International ClassificationD06F31/00, D06F95/00
Cooperative ClassificationD06F95/00, D06F31/00
European ClassificationD06F31/00, D06F95/00