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Publication numberUS3888533 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 10, 1975
Filing dateMay 17, 1974
Priority dateMar 2, 1973
Publication numberUS 3888533 A, US 3888533A, US-A-3888533, US3888533 A, US3888533A
InventorsLong William R
Original AssigneeLong William R
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Bulk tobacco rack
US 3888533 A
Abstract
Apparatus for selectively priming and removing tobacco leaves from a stalk without damage and automatically transferring such leaves onto a relatively large tobacco rack in a random haphazard manner, after which a plurality of frames, each of which includes multiple tines, are attached to the rack so that the tines pierce the tobacco leaves to hold such leaves in position. Thereafter the rack is rotated to an upright position to form a substantially uninterrupted column of tobacco leaves which is placed in a curing barn so that air under controlled conditions of temperature, humidity and pressure is caused to flow through the columns of tobacco leaves for curing the same.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

[lll 3,888,533

I June 10, 1975 United States Patent on Long [5M BULK TOBACCO RACK 3,767,248 10/1973 3.807.782 4 [974 T l t'l. {76] Inventor: William R. Long, Rocky Mountain ayur e A Hwy, Tarhoro, NC 27886 May 17, [974 Primary E raminerEvon C Blunk Assistant Examiner-Johnny D. Cherry 22 Filed:

Appl. No: 471.113

Attorney. Agent, or FirmA. Yates Dowel], Jr.

Related US. Application Data Division of Scr. No. 337,622, March 2 No. 3,834,l37.

l973, Pat.

bacco leaves from a stalk without damage and automatically transferring such leaves onto a relatively large tobacco rack in a random haphazard manner, after which a plurality of frames, each of which in- 58 N 41 b 4 .92 5A 4n G ML Uh 14H 55 [58} Field of Search 294/55; 56/275; 21 1/59,

eludes multiple tines, are attached to the rack so that 16 B the tines pierce the tobacco leaves to hold such leaves 21 l/l24, 125; 2l4/5.5

H Reierences Cited in position. Thereafter the rack is rotated to an up- NlTED STATES PATENTS right position to form a substantially uninterrupted column of tobacco leaves which is placed in a curing 9 /5-5 barn so that air under controlled conditions of temperature, humidity and pressure is caused to flow through the columns of tobacco leaves for curing the same. U 294/55 7 Claims, 23 Drawing Figures Dunford et al....,. Long......,...l...,..u Wilson Hassler FATENTEDJUH 10 I975 SHEET FIG. 20 n4 PATENTEDJUH I0 1975 SREU BLLK 'IOBAFCU RACK This is a di\ision of application SCI. No. 337.622.

tiled Mar. 2. I973. now IIS. Pat. No. 3.834137.

BACKGROUND OI 'IHli IN\ FNI'ION 1. Field ofthe Invention The present invention relates generally to the barvesting and treating of field crops and relates particu larly to apparatus utilized in the harvesting and treating of tobacco leaves automatically in an efficient manner requiring a minimum of labor.

2. Description of the Prior Art Flue cured bright leaf tobacco matures from the ground up with the lowermost leaves reaching the curing stage several weeks in advance of the upper leaves. In order to obtain prime tobacco. it has been necessary to harvest the leaves at a critical period of the leaf development, and specifically when some of the starches have begun a physiological breakdown and have been converted to sugars.

Historically workmen have passed through the tobacco fields where they primed" tobacco plants by selectively removing the mature leaves. The leaves then were taken to a tobacco barn where a small number of leaves were gathered together in a hand and placed astraddle a stick, and the sticks were placed in a tobacco curing barn where the leaves were cured. The curing process interrupts the physiological breakdown of the leaf so that the chlorophyl oxidizes under controlled conditions of heat and humidity in a manner that the leaf initially yellows after which the heat is raised to dissipate the water content of the leaf.

The harvesting of tobacco has been hard. monotonous labor which involved entire families with the men normally priming the tobacco plants. while the women and children gathered the leaves into hands. placed the hands on sticks and put the sticks into the barn. Some efforts have been made to decrease the labor and drudgery involved by providing tobacco harvesters such as the US. Pat. Nos. to Long 2,952,370 and 3.215.288 in which workmen were carried through a tobacco field and such workmen were located close to the ground so that they could prime the tobacco leaves, after which such leaves were conveyed upwardly where other workmen arranged the leaves on sticks or in racks with the leaves lying in the same direction and with the stems uppermost. The use of a tobacco harvester reduced the backbreaking work of bending over all day while priming the tobacco leaves. however. it did little for the drudgery and it still required seven or eight people for the proper operation of the harvester.

In recent years several agricultural colleges and universities have experimented with bulk curing of to bacco including the placing of tobacco leaves in a random haphazard manner within a tobacco rack of a height substantially equal to the length of a tobacco leaf. Some examples of this type of rack are the U.S. Pat. Nos. to Long 3.233.339; Hassler 3,105.7l3; 3.] 10.326 and 3.25 I .620. Additionally. a few larger tobacco racks such as disclosed in the LES. Pat. Nos. to Bayette 3.088.603 and Whitley 3.659.889 have been provided in which the tobacco leaves have been arranged in a predetermined manner.

Some effort has been made to provide a harvester for automatically priming tobacco plants by removing tobacco Iea\cs within a predetermined range above the ground. Some examples of this type of device are the US. Pat. Nos. to Wilson 2.8 l6.4l I; 2.834.l73; and 3.083.517; Suggs et al 2.834174; Splinter 3.093.949: and Pickett et aI 3.507.106. Initially automatic harvesters were not successful since the harvesters were now selective and removed not only desired tobacco leaves but also any other vegetation including immature leaves. suckers. weeds and the like which had to be scparated before the tobacco leaves were cured. Sonic experimenting has been done in which tobacco leaves were randomly placed in bulk tobacco racks; however. the suckers. weeds and the like reduced the quality of the material within the racks.

Bulk harvesting and curing of tobacco only became feasible upon the development of a machine which separated cured tobacco leaves from the leaves of other plants by color. Cured prime tobacco leaves are yellow or light brown in color, while suckers, weeds and other vegetation either remain bright green or turn very dark during the curing process. With the advent of the tobacco leaf separating machine. bulk curing became ac ceptable to tobacco buyers who now pay as much or more for bulk cured tobacco as they do for hand picked and cured tobacco.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is embodied in an apparatus for harvesting and treating tobacco in which the mature leaves of tobacco plants are stripped from the stalk automatically and such leaves are discharged into a relatively large rack in a random haphazard manner, after which the leaves are secured in position. The rack is turned on one edge and placed in a curing barn with such rack extending substantially the full width and height of the barn and forming a substantially uninter rupted column of tobacco leaves. After the barn has been filled, the columns of tobacco leaves are treated under controlled conditions of temperature and humidity in a rapid efficient manner using a minimum of personnel and labor.

An object of the invention is to provide a relatively large bulk tobacco curing rack which supports randomly arranged tobacco leaves in a column within a curing barn in a manner such that the leaves in the column are cured without transferring the leaves to other supporting structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a tobacco harvesting machine.

FIG. 2 is a front elevational view thereof.

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of the harvester in use.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a cart used in conjunction with a bulk tobacco rack.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a bulk rack.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a time frame.

FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view on the line 7-7 of FIG. 6 and illustrating a tine mounting apparatus.

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary side elevational view of the structure of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is an enlarged fragmentary end view of a bulk rack showing a tine frame in use.

FIG. [0 is a sectional view on the line IO]0 of FIG. 9.

FIG. I1 is a perspective view of a filled tobacco rack.

FIG. 12 is an enlarged sectional view on the line l2-12 of FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a strongback used with the bulk tobacco rack.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a tobacco curing barn.

FIG. 15 is an enlarged longitudinal sectional view of the barn of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a sectional view on the line 16l6 of FIG.

FIG. 17 is a side elevational view of a modified form of bulk tobacco rack and a fork lift handling mechanism.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the fork lift of FIG. 17.

FIG. 19 is a sectional view on the line l919 of FIG. 18.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of a pallet used with the fork lift of FIG. 18.

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a modified form of tobacco rack.

FIG. 22 is a fragmentary perspective view of a barn using the racks illustrated in FIG. 21.

FIG. 23 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view of the barn of FIG. 22.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS With continued reference to the drawings, a tobacco harvester is provided having an elevated chassis 31 supported by ground-engaging wheels 32. The chassis 31 is located at an elevation high enough to be disposed above mature tobacco plants so that the harvester can pass through tobacco fields without damage to the plants. As illustrated in FIG. 1, an internal combustion engine 33 for propelling the harvester is carried by a steerable front wheel, although it is contemplated that such power plant could be mounted on the chassis 31 and connected by a chain or the like to drive either the rear wheels or the front wheels. An operator 34 is supported by the chassis 31 in a position accessible to a sterring wheel 35 and the controls for driving the harvester through the tobacco field.

Suspended below the chassis 31 is at least one pair of defoliators 38 adjustably mounted on support posts 39 and such defoliators are normally inclined upwardly from front to rear, as illustrated in FIG. 1. Each of the defoliators includes a plurality of rotatable paddles constructed of rubber or the like which are adapted to engage opposite sides of the stalk of the tobacco plant and separate the lowermost leaves from the stalk by impact. A longitudinally disposed endless conveyor 40 is located below each of the defoliators in a position to receive the tobacco leaves which are removed from the stalks of the tobacco plants. Alternatively each of the defoliators could include a pair of front and rear end plates connected by a plurality of rods which move in an upward direction adjacent to the stalks and each of such rods may have one or more knives for cutting leaves from the stalks and transferring the separated leaves to the conveyor 40.

The conveyor 40 is rotated in any desired manner so that the upper run of the conveyor moves in a rearward direction. Adjacent to the rear end of the conveyor 40, an upwardly extending conveyor belt 41 removes tobacco leaves from the conveyor 40 and carries such leaves upwardly above the chassis 31 of the harvester.

During the upward travel, the tobacco leaves are held in engagement with the Conveyor 41 by a conveyor belt or strap 42 rotating at the same speed as the conveyor 41 and normally engaging the same. The lower end of the conveyor 42 is disposed slightly above the longitudinal conveyor 40 so that any leaves removed from the longitudinal conveyor are disposed between the upward conveyor 41 and the associated conveyor 42.

At the rear of the harvester 30, a platform 45 is provided and such platform is adapted to be raised and lowered by a carriage 46 mounted on inclined tracks 47 supported by the harvester, as illustrated in FIG. 3. It is contemplated that such platform could be mounted on a pair of parallel bars at each side of the harvester and a mechanism such as a cable or fluid cylinder could be provided for raising and lowering the platform in parallelogram action.

A cart 48 having a frame 49 supported by groundengaging wheels 50 is carried by the platform 45 and is adapted to be raised and lowered therewith. The cart 48 can be of any desired size; however, in the structure illustrated, the frame 49 is approximately ll) feet long and 5 feet wide. Such cart is provided with a pair of sides 51 extending substantially the full length of the frame and being approximately 30 inches high. The sides 51 are connected by hinges 52 to the frame 49 and normally are maintained in an upright position in any desired manner, as by the use of braces 53 swing ably mounted at one end by pivots 54 carried by lugs 55 fixed to the sides 5]. The opposite ends of the braces are attached to the frame 49 by removable pins 56.

The cart 48 receives a relatively large bulk tobacco rack having a pair of generally parallel ends 61 connected by a side 62. Such side may be provided with a plurality of longitudinally extending angle members 63, or such side could have a plurality of grooves or recesses (not shown) extending substantially the entire length thereof for a purpose which will be described later. The rack 60 is at least 8 feet long and preferably is approximately 9 feet 6 inches long and 5 feet wide so that when such rack is placed on the cart 48 in a horizontal position with the side 62 lowermost, the ends cooperate with the sides 51 of the cart to define an open topped container.

The cart 48 with the rack 60 mounted thereon is located below the discharge end of the conveyor 41 so that tobacco leaves carried by such conveyor are randomly discharged into the open topped container in a disorganized manner. As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 3, a guard rail 64 is mounted on the rear of the platform 45 so that a workman 65 can stand on the platform 45 and such workman has a pitch fork 66 or other tool for distributing the tobacco leaves throughout the rack 60. Tobacco leaves are discharged into the rack until the leaves are mounded above the top of the rack and the harvester reaches the end of the row of tobacco plants.

When the rack is filled. the platform 45 is lowered to the ground and a tractor or other propelling vehicle hitches onto a tongue 67 of the cart and removes the cart with the filled rack from the platform. A cart having an empty rack is placed on the platform after which the platform is raised and the harvester again is driven by the operator 34 into the tobacco field.

Each end 61 of the rack is approximately 23 inches wide and is provided with a plurality of guides 70 extending from the open side of the rack toward the side 62. The guides 70 are welded or otherwise permanently attached to the exterior surface of the ends 61 and an opening 71 is provided in the end member and each associated guide for a purpose to be described later. Each of the ends 61 also has an outwardly extending flange 72 welded or otherwise attached thereto and such flange normally extends from side to side of each end. When the rack is being filled. the side 62 rests on the cart; however. after the rack is fall, it is adapted to be rotated 90 so that one edge is uppermost. In order to rotate the rack, an opening 73 is provided adjacent to the upper edge of the ends 61 and if desired a rcinforc ing boss 74 can be provided about each of the openings 73. Intermediate the ends 61, the side 62 is provided with a pair of sockets 75 located adjacent to the upper and lower edges of the side 62.

After the rack has been filled with tobacco leaves, the cart with the fillcd rack is pulled by a tractor or other propelling vehicle to an area adjacent to a to bacco barn 76. Any excess tobacco leaves are removed from the rack and are placed in an overflow rack or other container until the tobacco carried by the rack is disposed slightly above the open side of the rack. A plurality of pin frames 77 are attached to the rack to compress the tobacco leaves and to hold such leaves in position on the rack. Each of the pin frames includes a pair of elongated spaces generally parallel side members 78 connected at opposite ends to end members 79. Intermediate the end members 79, the side members 78 are connected by a plurality of braces 80 by means of which the pin frames are handled and pressure is applied thereto.

With particular refercnces to FIGS. 68, each of the side members 78 of the pin frame 77 is provided with a plurality of elongated pins or tines 81 which extend outwardly approximately 22% inches. The upper ends of the tines are fixed to the side members 78 in any desired manner. as by forming outstruck straps or hands 82 in the downwardly extending flange of the side members and locating the upper ends of the tines within the straps after which the straps are collapsed to hold the pins in position. It is noted that the pins can be mounted in any other desired manner, as by welding, clips, sockets or the like. Each of the end members 79 is provided with an elongated tongue 83 welded or otherwise attached at one end to the end member and extending outwardly therefrom in the direction of the tines 81. Such tongues are adapted to be received within the guides 70 carried by the racks and in order to facilitate insertion into the guides, the free end of each tongue has an outwardly inclined portion 84. Each tongue has an opening 85 adapted to be moved into registration with the openings 7| in the guides 70.

In order to lock the pin frames 77 to the rack 60, a leaf spring 86 is connected at one end by a pivot 87 to the tongue 83. An offset catch 88 is provided intermediate the ends of the leaf spring 86 and such catch normally extends through the opening 85 of the tongue 83 and through the opening 71 when the openings 85 and 71 are in registration. The catch 88 locks the pin frame 77 to the rack. The free end 89 of the leaf spring is inclincd outwardly from the tongue 83. as indicated best in FIG. 10, to facilitate removal of the catch 88 from the openings 71 of the rack. If desired the leaf spring 86 can be rotated slightly so that it is out of registration with the opening 85. as illustrated in broken lines in FIG. 9, so that the leaf spring remains in unlocked position. This is particularly useful when the pin frames 77 are being removed from the rack 60. To limit swinging movement of the leaf spring 86, as well as to relieve tension on the pivot 87, a bridge or yoke 90 is welded or otherwise attached at opposite ends to the ton gue 83 and such bridge has a raised central portion overlying the leaf spring 86.

When the cart with the filled rack is pulled to the barn 76, a plurality of pin frames 77 are mounted on the rack by inserting opposite tongues 83 into the guides and applying a downward force to the pin frames to compress the tobacco leaves on the rack and cause the tines 81 to penetrate the tobacco leaves until the catch 88 of the leaf spring snaps into the openings 71 of the rack. After the pin frames are in position, a generally U-shaped strongback 91 (FIGS. lI-l3) hav ing notches 92 is mounted on the rack with the ends of the strongback being received within the sockets of the rack and connected thereto in any desired manner, as by pins 93. The notches 92 are spaced apart a distance sufficient to receive the side members 78 of the pin frames to support the central portion of the pin frame and to prevent sagging thereof due to the weight of the tobacco leaves.

As illustrated in FIG. 12, the penetrating ends of the tines 81 are located adjacent to the angle members 63 of the rack so that such angle members support the free ends of the tines and prevent the tines from bending due to the weight of the tobacco leaves. After the pin frames and the strongback have been attached to the rack 60, the filled rack of tobacco leaves is ready to be rotated substantially and placed in the barn for curmg.

The arrangement of a plurality of pin frames locked to a rack and supporting a large mass of tobacco leaves constitutes a substantially uninterrupted column of tobacco leaves approximately 9 feet 6 inches long, 5 feet high and 23 inches wide.

The barn 76 includes a base constructed in any desired manner, as by a pair of spaced generally parallel side members 101 connected at opposite ends by end members 102. Preferably the side members 101 and and members 102 are channel shaped in crosssection and the and members are connected by an I- beam 103 located generally along the longitudinal axis of the base 100. Above the base 100, the barn 76 includes side walls 104, a rear wall 105, and a roof 106. The front of the barn normally is closed by a pair of swinging doors 107 mounted on hinges 108. Spaced inwardly from the rear wall is a partition 109 defining a heater compartment 110 within which a heater 111 is mounted. The heater preferably is either gas or oil fired; however, if desired such heater could use electrical resistance heating elements or other heating medium. A floor 112 is mounted on the upper portion of the base 100 and separates a pair of plenum chambers 113 within the base 100 from a treating chamber 114 within the barn.

The heater is operated either manually or automatically to produce controlled conditions of heat and humidity within the barn. Such heater has a fan (not shown) which blows air downwardly into the plenum chamber 113 to raise the pressure within the plenum chambers. In order to permit the heated air to circulate through the treating chamber 114, the floor 112 is provided with a pattern of elongated slots 115 which define openings of from 3 to It) percent of the total floor area. Preferably the openings are limited to from 4 to 7 percent of the total floor area since this produces a more desirable air flow which is substantially constant throughout the barn due to the pressure differential between the plenum chambers 113 below the floor 112 and the treating chamber 114 above the floor.

The barn 76 may be of any desired size, although a barn approximately 30 feet long, feet wide and l() feet high has been found satisfactory. To assist in circulating air through the plenum chambers 113 and the treating chamber 114, the partition 109 has an opening 116 located adjacent to the roof 106. A fan 117 is located within the heater compartment I10 and is adapted to draw air from the treating chamber 114 and the plenum chambers 113 into the heater compartment 110 where such air is heated and returned to the plenum chambers 113.

In order to move the racks into the curing barn, on overhead hoist 120 is provided having a rail 121 located along the longitudinal axis of the barn in the upper portion of the treating chamber 114 and extending outwardly of the barn a substantial distance, as illustrated in FIGS. 14-16. A hoist carriage 122 is movably supported by wheels 123 and such carriage may have an electrically operated winch 124 or such carriage may have a manually operated chain fall or block and tackle. The winch 124 has a cable 125, the free end of which is connected to a bridle 126 including a beam 127 having hooks I28 swingably connected at each end. The hooks 128 are spaced apart a distance sufficient to engage the openings 73 in the ends of the rack 60 so that the winch 124 can be operated to lift a rack from the cart 48.

After the rack has been lifted from the cart, the carriage 122 is moved along the rail 121 so that the rack is moved into the barn. In order to support the rack 60 a pair of side rails 129 are connected to opposite sides of the interior of the barn and such rails are spaced a predetermined distance above the floor 112. The hoist carriage 122 moves the rack of tobacco leaves into the barn until the rack engages the partition 109 or abuts a previously positioned rack after which the winch 124 lowers the rack until the flanges 72 at opposite ends of the rack engage the side rails 129 which support the rack.

After the bridle 126 is disconnected from the rack, the carriage 122 is moved outwardly of the barn and to an area adjacent to the opposite end of the rail 121 which constitutes a storage area for empty racks. In order to support the outer end of the rail 121, an upright post 130 has its lower end embedded in the earth and its upper end engaging and supporting the outer end of such rail. The post 130 may be a substantial distance from the front of the barn, such as a distance of 40 feet or more and it may be necessary to support the rail at one or more places intermediate its length. In order to do this, one or more bridges 131 are provided each of which includes a central span 132 supported at opposite ends by upright posts 133. The central portion of the span 132 is welded or otherwise attached to the upper portion of the rail I2I to support such rail in substantially level position.

In the operation of this modification, an empty rack 60 is placed on its side on a cart 48 after which the cart is mounted on the platform 45 of the harvester with the rack located below the discharge end of the conveyors 41 and 42. As the harvester 30 moves through a field of tobacco plants, the defoliators 38 remove the lowermost tobacco leaves from the stalks of the tobacco plants and discharge such leaves onto the longitudinal conveyor 40 which transfers the leaves to the conveyors 41 and 42. The lift conveyors 41 and 42 raise the tobacco leaves to a higher elevation and discharge such leaves in a random, haphazard, disorganized manner into the rack 60 where a workman distributes the leaves throughout the rack. When the rack has been filled and the harvester has reached the end of a row of tobacco plants, the platform 45 is lowered and the cart with the filled rack is removed therefrom. A cart with an empty rack is placed on the platform and the platform is raised after which the operator 34 again drives the harvester 30 into the field.

The cart with the filled rack is pulled by a tractor or other propelling vehicle to an area adjacent to the barn 76 where a plurality of pin frames 77 are latched onto the rack with the tines 81 piercing the tobacco leaves to hold such leaves in position. Thereafter the hoist carriage 122 is moved to a position above the rack and the hooks 128 are engaged in the openings 73 of the rack. When the winch 124 is operated. the rack is rotated to an upright position and the carriage 122 moves along the rail 121 and carries the rack into the barn 76 where the rack is lowered until the flanges 72 engage the side rails 129. After the bridle I26 is disconnected from the rack, the carriage 122 is moved to the opposite end of the rail to the rack storage area where an empty rack is picked up by the bridle and winch and the empty rack is placed on the cart 48.

With reference to FIGS. 17-23, a modified form of tobacco rack and apparatus for handling the same are disclosed. In this structure a rack 140 is provided having a side 141 with end walls 142 at opposite ends thereof. As in the previous modification, the end walls 142 are provided with guides which receive pin frames 77 for holding the tobacco leaves in position. The rack is provided with a top wall 143 having a plurality of elongated slots 144 arranged in a predeter mined pattern with such slots providing openings which constitute approximately 4 to 7 percent of the total surface area of the top wall 143.

Adjacent to the bottom edge of the rack when the rack has been moved to an upright position for curing the tobacco, a pair of rollers or wheels 145 are rotatably mounted on stub axles I46 carried by each of the end walls 142. Preferably the rollers 145 extend below the edges of the end walls so that the rollers support the rack in spaced relationship with the ground. With particular reference to FIG. 23, each of the rollers has a substantially flat tread 147 with a V-shaped groove 148 located centrally thereof.

In this modification the overhead hoist I20 and the side rails 129 of the previous embodiment are eliminated and the barn 76 is provided with a pair of inverted V-shaped rails 149 supported by the side members 101 of the base of the barn. Since the top wall 143 is provided with a plurality of slots to control the flow of air through the barn, the floor 112 of the previous modification can be eliminated so that in effect the col umns of tobacco leaves are being supported within the plenum chamber of the barn.

In order to prevent the passage of air along the sides of the racks 140 when such racks are in the barn 76, each of such racks is provided with an outwardly extending flange 150 adjacent to the top wall 143. A flexible resilient impcrforate bafflc I51 is connected to each of the flanges I50 and extends outwardly therefrom into engagement with the inner surface of the side walls of the barn. When the barn 76 is tilled with the racks 140. the top walis I43 provide a restriction to the flow of air so that a differential pressure occurs on opposite sides of the top walls 43 to cqualize the distribution of the flow of air through the columns of tobacco leaves and through the top wall I43 after which the air is recirculated through the heater compartment 110.

As illustrated in FIG. 22, an auxiliary rail 152 can be connected in alignment with the \/-shaped rails 14) of the barn and extend outwardly therefrom with the outer free ends being supported by posts 153 in such a manner that the auxiliary rails [52 and the V-shaped rails I49 are substantially coextensive. It is noted that if desired the auxiliary rails 152 could be inclined downwardly from the V-shaped rails 149 so that the outer free ends of such auxiliary rails can rest directly on the ground or on an apron in front of the barn 76.

In order to transport the racks 140 to and from the tobacco fields, as well as to move the racks from a horizontal to a generally vertical position and to load such racks into the barn 76 and remove the racks from such barn. a tractor or other propelling vehicle I55 is provided with a lift arm mechanism 156 for raising and lowering a fork lift assembly 157. The fork lift assembly includes a pair of spaced generally parallel L-shaped main forks 158 each of which has a generally vertical leg 159 and a generally horizontal leg 160. The legs 160 are connected by a brack 161 for stability. Iiach of the generally vertical legs 159 has a pair of spaced lugs 162 to which the lift arm mechanism 156 is swingably mounted. Each of the forks 158 is substantially U- shaped in cross-section. and the generally horizontal leg 160 thereof is adapted to receive an auxiliary L- shaped fork 163 having a generally vertical leg I64 and a generally horizontal leg 165. The horizontal leg 160 of the main fork I58 and the horizontal leg 165 of the auxiliary fork 163 are swingably connected together by a pivot I66 adjacent to the toe end of the main fork I58.

Adjacent to the upper end of the vertical legs 164 of the auxiliary forks 163, an L-shapcd lever or bell crank 167 is swingably mounted on a pivot 168 with the lower leg 169 of such lever extending outwardly of the vertical leg 164 of the auxiliary fork. A resilient member such as a leaf spring 170 normally urges the lower leg 169 of the lever outwardly. Outward movement of the lower leg of the lever 167 results in an upward move ment of the upper leg 17] thereof and in order to restrict swinging movement of such lever. a cap 172 is welded or otherwise attached to the upper ends of the auxiliary forks 163.

The lower ends of the vertical legs 164 of the auxiliary fork are provided with notches 173 of a size to receive one edge of a pallet 174. Such pallet includes a floor 175 which is approximately feet long by 5 feet wide and such floor has two or more depending skids 176 to permit the horizontal arms of the fork lift assembly to move under the floor 175. The pivoted end of each of the horizontal legs of the auxiliary fork 163 has an upstanding lug 177 to retain the pallet I74 on the fork lift assembly.

The pallet 174 is large enough to support one of the racks I40 and in order to prevent sliding movement between the rack and the pallet when the auxiliary fork 163 is moved relative to the main fork 158, a pair of upstanding lugs 178 are located along at least one side of the pallet in a position to engage the edge of the side 141 of the rack. As illustrated in broken lines in FIG. 19, movement of the fork lift assembly under the pallet 174 having a rack 140 thereon causes the top wall 143 of the rack to engage the outwardly extending lower leg 169 of the lever 167 and swing such leg inwardly so that the upper leg 171 of such lever overlies the upper edge of the top wall 143.

In order to tilt the rack 140 from a substantially hori zontal position (shown in full lines in FIG. 17) to a substantially vertical position (shown in dotted lines), a telescoping fluid cylinder 180 is swingably connected by a pivot 181 to a lug I82 carried by the brace 161. A piston rod 183 is carried by the fluid cylinder I and the free end of such piston rod is connected to a bifurcated head 184 to which one end of a connecting link 185 is swingably mounted by a pivot 186. The opposite end of the connecting link 185 is connected to a clevis I87 swingably mounted on a shaft 188 the opposite ends of which are welded or otherwise attached to the generally vertical legs 164 of the auxiliary forks 163. The fluid cylinder I80 normally is provided with fluid under pressure from the hydraulic system of the tractor 155.

When fluid under pressure is introduced into the lower part of the cylinder 130. the piston rod 183 is extended to cause the auxiliary fork 163 to swing about the pivots I66 and swing the rack from a horizontal position to a substantially vertical position. In this position a slight forward movement of the tractor moves the pallet lugs 178 from the side wall 141 of the rack, after which the fork lift assembly 157 is raised to release the upper leg 171 of the lower 167 from the top wall 143 of the rack. Since the lower end of the pallet 174 is resting on the lugs 177 of the auxiliary forks and the upper end is retained by the notches 173, the pallet 174 remains on the auxiliary forks.

The racks 140 normally are stored in a vertical position and to place an empty rack on the pallet 174, or to remove a rack from the barn after the tobacco leaves have been cured, the auxiliary forks 163 are swung to a substantially vertical position or to a position slightly past vertical and the fork lift assembly 157 is raised slightly. The tractor 155 then is moved toward the rack until the upper leg 171 of the lever 167 has passed the top wall 143 of the rack. In this position the fork lift assembly 157 is lowered until the top wall of the rack engages the lower leg 169 of the lever 167 and swings the upper leg 171 into a position adjacent to the edge of the top wall 143. Thereafter a slight rearward movement of the tractor causes the pallet lugs 178 to be disposed beneath the side wall 141 of the rack and the rack is locked to the pallet. Rearward movement of the piston rod 183 returns the auxiliary forks to a nested position within the main forks 158.

In the operation of this modification, a rack 140 carried by a pallet 174 is placed on the platform 45 of the harvester with the rack in a position to receive tobacco leaves from the conveyors 41 and 42. After the rack has been filled with tobacco leaves, the filled rack is removed from the platform by the tractor having the fork lift assembly 157 and another pallet with an empty rack thereon is placed on the platform 45 so that the harvester can continue its operation while the filled rack is carried by the tractor to the barn. A plurality of pin frames 77 are attached to the rack to hold the tobacco leaves in position. after which the fork lift assembly 157 is operated to tilt the rack 140 from a substantially horizontal position to a substantially vertical position in which the wheels 145 of the raclt engage the \"-shaped rails 149 of the barn. Thereafter the rack is rolled along the rails until the rack abuts the partition 109 or engages the side 14] of a previous rack.

After the barn has been filled. the heater III is energized to treat the columns of tobacco leaves.

I claim:

1. Container means for receiving tobacco leaves comprising a rack means for receiving tobacco leaves in a random haphazard manner with the stems of the leaves disposed in a plurality of different directions. said rack means including an elongated side member. an end member fixed to each end of said side member and extending outwardly substantialiy normal thereto. said side member having a predetermined length and a width substantially wider than the length of the tobacco leaves. a plurality of independent pin frames, each pin frame having a length substantially equal to the length of said side member. means for selectively mounting each of said pin frames on said end members in spaced relationship to each other. each of said pin frames having a plurality of tines of a length to extend through the tobacco leaves which are located on said rack means. and means on said side member for supporting at least some of said tines. whereby after the tobacco leaves have been placed on said side member. a plurality of pin frames are selectively mounted on said end members so that the tines penetrate the leaves and thereafter the rack means can be rotated to an upright position so that the tines support all of the leaves in an uninterrupted column.

2. The structure ofclaim l in which each of said end members includes means for receiving a portion of said pin frames.

3. The structure of claim I in which said rack means and each of said pin frames are at least 8 feet long.

4. The structure of claim I in which said rack means is at least 5 feet high.

5. The structure of claim 1 in which said rack means includes a perforated top wall.

6. The structure of claim I in which each of said pin frames includes a pair of generally parallel side members connected at opposite ends by end members. each of said pin frame side members having a plurality of spaced tines.

7. The structure of claim I in which said rack means is approximately 23 inches wide.

* i =t= l

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4019767 *Jul 22, 1976Apr 26, 1977Dalma Therman EdwardsQuickly attachable and detachable tine frame for a tobacco box rack
US4036454 *Jul 13, 1976Jul 19, 1977Harrington Manufacturing CompanyBulk tobacco container
US4244629 *Jan 30, 1978Jan 13, 1981Societe Europeenne De PropulsionDevice for the horizontal stabilization of a vertically supported mass
US4379669 *Nov 17, 1980Apr 12, 1983Powell Manufacturing Company, Inc.Tobacco handling apparatus
US4466450 *May 27, 1982Aug 21, 1984Walter HuszczoTobacco curing barn
US4520579 *Jun 16, 1983Jun 4, 1985De Cloet Ltd.Tobacco bin
US20140341684 *May 16, 2014Nov 20, 2014Jon Bradley HochalterWhole Cane Storage and Handling System and Method
Classifications
U.S. Classification294/5.5, 414/26
International ClassificationA24B1/00, A01F25/08, A01D45/00, A24B1/08, A01F25/00, A01D45/16
Cooperative ClassificationA01D45/16, A01F25/08, A24B1/08
European ClassificationA01F25/08, A24B1/08, A01D45/16