US 3613953 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States 1 FOREIGN PATENTS Primary ExaminerRobert B. Reeves  Inventor EugeneI-LPauIes Red Liou,Pa. 850,398
Italy 2221271 [21 1 Appl. No.
22 Fl (1 Au 15 1969 E Pllfented 5 19:1971 Assistant Examiner.lohn P. Shannon, Jr.  Assignee Yoe Leaf Tobacco Co. Attorney-Cums Moms Safford Yoe, Pa.
 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FEEDING CIGAR FILLER AND THE. LIKE ABSTRACT: A system is disclosed of feeding filler for cigars 11 Claims, 5 Drawing Figs.
to cigar-making machines. The bulk filler is fed to a hopper having sidewalls which slant outwardly from top to bottom, so
222/271 that the filler does not bridge the sidewalls. At the bottom of  Int. 367d 5/08 the hopper there are two cyhhdm-S which have ll l  Field 222/414, horizonta] axes, and which have f d i or teeth hi h 411,410,230,27l,6356 separate the filler and feed it downwardly through slots between the cylinders and also along the hopper sidewalls.
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 6/1943 Harshberger................. 6/1969 Bonneric. 5/1970 Frisbie The cylinders are rotated together in one direction, and they are started and stopped frequently and their direction is 222/4l4 X reversed each time they are stopped. The filler is picked apart 222/280 and fed downwardly without objectionable breakage and in a 222/271 X precisely controlled manner.
PATENTEDuCI 19 I971 SHEET 1 [IF 2 INVENTOR EUGENE H. PAULES ATTORNEYS METIIUI) AND APPARATUS FOR FEEDING CIGAR FHJLER AND TIIE LIKE This invention relates to tobacco-handling equipment and methods, and more in particular to hopper feed systems designed to receive filler and to feed it to cigar or cigaretteproducing machines.
In the tobacco industry, considerable difficulty has been encountered in providing means for feeding the filler to the automatic machines used in producing cigarettes and cigars. Precisely measured quantities of the tobacco filler must be fed to the machines at a slow rate and in relatively small quantities. Furthermore, it must be free from tightly packed masses of tobacco, and there must be no clogging of the equipment. In the past, attempts to meet these requirements have been at the expense of using small feed hoppers on the production equipment and having them filled manually. The labor required for the frequent filling of small feed hoppers adds considerably to the expense of production. Furthermore, manual filling of the feed hopper is objectionable from many standpoints; for example, it is apt to result in a nonuniform final product because of underfilled or overfilled conditions and results in considerable waste of the filler through spillage.
An object of this invention is to provide automatic means for feeding tobacco filler at a proper rate and in proper condition for use. A further object is to provide means for feeding filler from a larger hopper that requires only infrequent refilling. A further object is to provide such means that will prevent any bridging or clogging of the tiller. A still further object is to provide such feed means with automatic controls for precisely regulating the rate of feed. These and other objects will be in part obvious and in part point out below.
In the drawings:
FIG. I is a side elevation of one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a front elevation of the embodiment shown in FIG.
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 33 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 1; and,
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary side elevation of the rear of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing the chain drive connecting the feed cylinders.
Referring to FIG. 1, a cigar-filler feed device 2 comprises a supply hopper 4, a feed mechanism 6, and a discharge chute 8. Supply hopper 4 is filled with a large quantity of filler to be used in producing cigars. Because of its large capacity, it need be filled only at infrequent intervals, such as once every 8 hours. Discharge chute 3, on the other hand, may contain only a relatively small quantity of filler at any one time. Filler in supply hopper 4 is dislodged from the tiller mass and is fed into discharge chute 8 by operation of the feed mechanism 6. Discharge chute 8 then guides the loosened filler into the cigar machine hopper 7 which has a vibrating feeding unit (not shown). In order to assure the successful operation of the cigar-producing machine, it is important to permit the contents of hopper 7 to be limited at all times to a relatively small quantity of loosely packed filler, and that additional filler in that condition be supplied to the vibrating hopper to replace, as required, that which is fed to the machine.
Both supply hopper 4 and discharge chute 8 are mounted securely on a pair of horizontal frame members 111 and 12 of a frame 9. Hopper 4 has four sidewalls, front wall 11, rear wall 13, and sidewalls 15a and 156. Supply hopper 4 has a plurality of small windows 14 in its front wall 11 which are used by the people operating the equipment to ascertain how much tobacco is in the hopper.
The sidewalls of supply hopper 4 slope outwardly from top to bottom, so that the hopper becomes larger from its top towards its lower end, in this embodiment 18 by 32 inches at the top and 24 by 36 inches at the bottom. This shape prevents the formation of "bridges" of filler across the hopper, which would interfere with the downward feed of the tiller. Such bridging tends to take place in a large mass of filler, some of which may become tightly packed together. The outwardly sloping sidewalls prevent the hopper from providing support for the tobacco, as would tend to occur if a tightly packed mass of filler were to bridge between inwardly sloping or vertical sidewalls. Discharge chute 8, by contrast, has inwardly sloping walls to receive and collect the filler passing through feed mechanism 6. Because of the controlled quantity and condition of the tiller entering the discharge chute, no bridging or clogging takes place in it.
The large mass of filler in supply hopper 4 is transformed into a carefully regulated supply of loose filler by means of feed mechanism 6, which includes a pair of parallel feed cylinders 16 and 17. Feed cylinders 16 and 17 are positioned in the bottom of supply hopper 4, and are mounted upon parallel shafts I8 and 19, respectively. The ends of shafts l8 and 19 extend through the front and rear walls of hopper 4, and are mounted in bearing 5 in housings 20, outside of the hopper walls and mounted upon front and rear frame members 22 and 24, which are attached to horizontal frame members 10 and 12.
Feed cylinders 16 and 17 are rotated by an electric motor 26 mounted upon frame 9 which drives shaft 18 through a speed reduction unit 28 and an intermediate shaft 30 which includes a flexible coupling 31. In this embodiment, motor 26 is a one-fifteenth horsepower geared reversible motor producing an output of 35 revolutions per minute. Gear reduction mechanism 32 reduces the speed by a factor of 86 to I, so as to drive the feed cylinders 16 and 17 at the desired speed and in the manner explained below. Motor 26 is mounted on a horizontal support 34, which is affixed to horizontal frame members 10 and 12 of frame 9.
As best shown in FIG. 5, the rotation of cylinder 17 is provided by a chain drive unit 35 located at the rear of the supply hopper and connecting shaft 18 with shaft 19. Drive unit 35 is formed by sprocket wheels 36 and 37 mounted respectively on shafts 18 and 19, and a drive chain 38 extends around the two sprocket wheels, causing them to rotate together in the same direction. Because the sprocket wheels are of the same size and have the same number of teeth, any rotation of shaft 18 will result in the rotation of shaft 19 through the same angle and at the same rate of speed.
The axes of feed cylinders 16 and 17 are horizontal and parallel and at the same level within supply hopper 4. Their dimensions are such that they nearly close the rectangular cross section of hopper 4 near its lower end (see FIG. 4). A slot 42 of 2 inches in width separates the adjacent portions of the surfaces of the two cylinders. A slot 44, of 1% inches in width separates the surface of cylinder 16 from the adjacent wall of hopper 4; and, a similar slot 45 of the same width separates cylinder 17 from the adjacent portion of the hopper wall 15b. Slots 42, 44, and 45 comprise the openings through which the tobacco filler passes downwardly to the discharge chute during the operation of the feed mechanism.
Each of the feed cylinders has a plurality of identical cylindrical steel teeth or feed pins mounted on its outer surface, those on cylinder 16 being teeth 46, and those on cylinder 17 being teeth 47. Teeth 46, 47 are approximately one-fourth inch in diameter and project approximately 1% inch from the cylinder surfaces. As shown in FIG. 4, the teeth are arranged on each of the cylinders in a herringbone pattern comprising a succession of spiral V-shaped rows with the apex of each V- shaped row at the longitudinal center of its cylinder. The teeth 46 in each row on cylinder 16 are arranged in such a way that they alternate with the teeth 47 in the corresponding rows of teeth on cylinder 17, that alternating relationship at slot 42 being shown in FIG. 4.
Discharge hopper 8 contains a microswitch 48, which is normally closed so as to complete the circuit that operates electric motor 26. When a predetermined quantity of tobacco filler has been deposited into hopper 7 from chute 8, its weight pressing against microswitch 48 opens the switch and stops the operation of the motor. The tobacco filler is fed at a substantially constant rate from hopper 7, but that rate is much less than the rate of feed from hopper 8. Hence, the switch remains open for a portion of each feeding cycle, i.e., until enough of the filler has been fed from the discharge hopper into the cigar-making machine to reduce the weight of the filler on microswitch 48. When the motor is started again so as to feed filler into the discharge hopper, the feeding continues until there is again the predetermined quantity in hopper 7, and the microswitch then opens so as to stop the feeding operation. This feeding cycle is important in the illustrative embodiment of the invention in that the amount of filler in hopper 7 may vary through the range without interfering with the proper feeding of the filler from hopper 7. That range in the amount of filler in hopper 7 is controlled by adjusting microswitch 48 so that it open when substantially the maximum desirable amount of filler is in hopper 7, and then it does not reopen until substantially the minimum desirable amount of filler is in the hopper. Variations in the rate at which filler is fed from hopper 7 and any interruptions in the consumption of filler by the cigar machine are compensated for automatically. That is, microswitch 48 will merely delay the restarting of feed motor 26 and thus postpone the next feeding cycle from hopper 8. lllustratively, the duration of each feeding cycle is of the order of 2 minutes, with the hopper being on for seconds and off for 105 seconds. As will be pointed out below, the motor circuit includes a motor-reversing relay assembly which is actuated each time the motor is stopped.
Prior to starting the operation of the feed mechanism, a large quantity of filler 50 is placed in supply hopper 4, as explained above, and the design of the supply hopper is such that the filler moves easily downwardly as the filler at the bottom is removed from the supply hopper by feed mechanism 6. Assuming, for example, that when the feed mechanism is started, electric motor 26 rotates the feed cylinders in the clockwise direction, as shown by the arrows. As the cylinders rotate, teeth 46 and 47 loosen some of the filler from the mass of filler in the supply hopper and carry the loosened filler downwards through slots 42 and 45. The upward motion of the teeth on the left-hand side of cylinder 17 prevents any large clumps of filler from being carried through slot 42, and the adjacent hopper wall 150 provides a similar function with respect to slot 45. The upward motion of the teeth on the left-hand side of cylinder 16 prevents the filler from passing through slot 44 while the cylinders are rotating in the clockwise direction.
When enough of the loosened filler has been deposited in hopper 7, its weight opens microswitch 48, stopping motor 26. Feed cylinders 16 and 17 remain idle until a portion of the filler deposited in hopper 7 has been fed into the cigar-producing machine by the vibrating feed mechanism noted above. When the amount of filler pressing on microswitch 48 has been reduced, the circuit is closed and motor 26 once again starts to operate. This time, however, as a result of the operation of the motor-reversing relay assembly in the motor circuit, motor 26 turns in the opposite direction, reversing the rotation of the feed cylinders, e.g., so that they turn counterclockwise. As a result, loosened filler is now carried through slots 42 and 44, but not through slot 45. The reversal of the direction of rotation takes place each time the motor is stopped and started again. These repeated reversals prevent the filler from being packed between the cylinders and the adjacent walls of hopper 4, and the feeding action does not cause breakage of the filler.
During the rotation of cylinders 16 and 17, the V-shaped rows of teeth 46 and 47 tend to move the filler longitudinally of the cylinders in the zone at the bottom of hopper 4. This results in a further reduction of the danger of bridging or clogging of the feed mechanism. Teeth 46 and 47 move oppositely to each other in slot 42, one set moving upwardly while the other set moves downwardly, and they are alternated and equally spaced from each other longitudinally on the cylinders. Hence, when one tooth is moving upwardly the two adjacent teeth are moving downwardly, and the resultant action is to produce and maintain even distribution and feed of filler longitudinally of the cylinder surface. Any quantities of filler in hopper 4 which are closely held together are gently pulled apart, and any tendency for there to be a void or hollow zone results in a distribution of the filler to that zone. Slot 42 is wide enough to permit the downwardly moving teeth to carry a stream of filler with them, aided by the action of gravity, and there is also a stream of filler moving downwardly through either slot 44 or slot 45.
The feed mechanism that has been described provides an effective means of removing filler from the large mass of filler in the supply hopper and delivering it to the cigar-producing machine in properly loosened condition and free from damage. At the same time, it permits precise control over the rate at which filler is delivered to the cigar-producing machine through the intennittent feed under the control of the microswitch. By delivering carefully controlled quantities to the cigar machine hopper frequently, the quantity of filler in hopper 7 remains within acceptable limits at all times. This is significant, since the use of a vibrating feed mechanism in a hopper containing a large quantity of filler tends to result in the sorting of the pieces of filler in accordance with their size, with the smaller pieces being shaken to the bottom of the hopper and fed into the cigar-producing machine first. ln accordance with the present invention, where the vibrating hopper contains only a relatively small quantity of the filler, there is no such objectionable result, and a uniform mixture of filler is fed to the cigar machine. For this reason, cigars produced in accordance with the present invention are uniformly packed and of a higher quality.
What is claimed is:
1. In a system for feeding tobacco filler, the combination of a hopper forming a filler-holding zone to which bulk quantities of the filler are supplied, said hopper having sidewalls which are divergent downwardly toward a feed opening through which the filler may be fed, a pair of feed cylinders forming the bottom of said zone, means rotatably mounting said cylinders with substantially parallel horizontal axes and with a central feed slot therebetween and with side feed slots respectively adjacent opposite sidewalls of said hopper and each side feed slot being along the opposite side of one of said feed cylinders from said central feed slot, said cylinders having feed teeth thereon, driving means to rotate said cylinders in the same direction whereby the surface of one cylinder moves upwardly along its adjacent side feed slot and downwardly adjacent said central feed slot and while the other cylinder moves upwardly adjacent said central feed slot and downwardly adjacent its adjacent side feed slot, said drive means including a motor and control means for starting and stopping said motor and for reversing the direction of drive in accordance with a predetermined pattern, and said teeth on said cylinders being positioned so as to be spaced from each other when moving through said central feed slot.
2. Apparatus as described in claim 1 wherein said teeth are pins rigidly mounted and positioned radially upon their respective cylinders and spaced from each other longitudinally of said cylinders.
3. Apparatus as defined in claim 2 wherein said pins are of the order of one and one-quarter inch in length and said central slot is of the order of 2 inches in width, and wherein the pins of each of said cylinders are arranged in a herringbone pattern comprising a succession of spiral V-shaped rows with the apex of each row at substantially the longitudinal center of the cylinder.
4. Apparatus as described in claim 2 wherein said drive means includes an electric motor and a drive assembly including gear reduction means connected to drive said cylinders simultaneously.
5. Apparatus as described in claim 4 which includes means to receive filler from said feed slots by the action of gravity and to feed the filler to a cigar-making machine, said control means including a switch having operating means which is operated by the accumulation of filler in said means to receive filler.
6. Apparatus as described in claim 5 wherein said cylinders have shafts upon which they are rotatably mounted, and wherein said shafts are interconnected mechanically at one end, and wherein said apparatus includes a chute positioned beneath said cylinders through which the filler passes from said feed slots.
7. Apparatus as described in claim 5 wherein said hopper is substantially rectangular in horizontal section and said opposite side walls are substantially flat.
8. The method of feeding tobacco filler which may tend to bridge a hopper, the steps of, depositing a bulk quantity of the filler into a space having opposite side surfaces which diverge downwardly, feeding the filler at the bottom of said space along two adjacent zones each of which extends respectively along a segment of an associated substantially horizontal cylinder with two cylinders being parallel and having a central feed slot therebetween, directing the filler downwardly along one of said zones at said central feed slot and upwardly along the other of said zones at said central feed slot, and simultaneously reversing the feeding action along each of said zones in accordance with a predetermined pattern.
9. The method as described in claim 8 wherein there are two side feed slots positioned respectively on opposite sides of said cylinders from said central feed slot and wherein said feeding step includes the step of feeding said fillers along one of said zones and wherein said feeding step includes the step of feeding said fillers along one of said zones and wherein said feeding step includes the step of feeding said filler downwardly through one of said side slots and upwardly through the other of said side slots in accordance with said predetermined pattern.
H0. The method as described in claim 9 which includes the steps of, accumulating the tiller subsequent to the feeding step, maintaining the accumulation within a predetermined range by starting and stopping the feeding action, and reversing the feeding actions in both of said zones each time the feeding action is stopped.
11. The method as described in claim 8 which includes the subsequent steps of feeding the filler to a cigar-making machine at a rate which is less than the rate at which the filler is fed from said space, collecting the filler passing from said space, and starting and stopping said feeding action to maintain the quantity so collected within a predetermined range.