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Publication numberUS3903994 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 9, 1975
Filing dateMay 22, 1974
Priority dateMay 22, 1974
Publication numberUS 3903994 A, US 3903994A, US-A-3903994, US3903994 A, US3903994A
InventorsHafner Henry F
Original AssigneeHafner Henry F
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Lubricating apparatus for conveyor chains with lubricating signaling means
US 3903994 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [1 1 Hafner 1 Sept. 9, 1975 LUBRICATING APPARATUS FOR CONVEYOR CHAINS WITH LUBRICATING SIGNALING MEANS [76] Inventor: Henry F. Hafner, 9030 Saranac,

Richmond Heights, M0. 631 17 [22] Filed: May 22, 1974 [21] Appl. No.: 472,299

[52] U.S. Cl 184/15 A; 118/8; 184/6.l [51] Int. Cl. Fl6N 7/30 [58] Field of Search 184/15 A, 15 B, l C, 15 R,

Primary ExaminerRichard C. Pinkham Assistant ExaminerWilliam R. Browne Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Gravely, Lieder & Woodruff 7 ABSTRACT An apparatus for lubricating a chain has a follower bar which rides the rollers between the rows of chain links on each side of the chain, and accordingly maintains a predetermined lateral position with respect to the chain. Oil nozzles are carried by the follower bar and are directed toward the links. The nozzles are supplied with oil fromva pneumaticallyoperated ejector which is controlled by a fluidic' control device including an air jet and a fluidic sensing unit aligned with the jet. The chain passes between the nozzle and the fiuidic sensing unit and is positioned such that the rollers in it periodically interrupt or disperse the air jet so that the air jet at one instant passes through the chain and impinges on the sensing unit and at another instant is dispersed by a roller.- The restoration of the air jet after it is dispersed is sensed by the sensing unit which directs a signal to the ejector, causing the ejector to discharge a metered amount of oil each time a roller passes through the air jet. The oil nozzles are positioned such that the oil so delivered flows onto the chain at locations where adjacent links in each row are joined.

15 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTED SEP 9 I975 SHEET 1 BF 2 PATENTEDSEP mews SHEET 2 0f 2 lw h Q N J;

v mzu EX X g g LUBRICATING APPARATUS FOR CONVEYOR CHAINS WITH LUBRICATING SIGNALING MEANS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates in general to lubricating devices and more particularly to a lubricating apparatus for conveyor chains.

Many conveyors utilize chains to transport material from one location to another, and unless the pivot points of the chains are kept well lubricated, the chains will bind and wear rapidly. The problem is particularly acute where the chains are used to convey material or objects through a heated atmosphere. For example, in lithographic processes it is often desirable to transport the lithographed material through an oven to dry the ink. The chains used in the conveyors pass through lubricating devices and are lubricated at least every 24 hours and often more frequently.

Heretofore, devices have been developed for dripping oil onto conveyor chains, but the application of oil is haphazard at best and the chances of it reaching the wear and binding points of the chain are not good. Another procedure involves passing the chain through a brush, the bristles of which are saturated with oil. These bristles wear rapidly and once worn they do not contact the chain and supply it with adequate lubrication. Still another means of lubricating such chains is to spray oil on them, but this wastes a considerable amount of oil.

Aside from the foregoing disadvantages, conveyor chains do not maintain a precise lateral position, but on the contrary move laterally to a limited extent in operation, and as a result devices for lubricating the chains do not always deposit the lubrication in the correct lateral position.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION One of the principal objects of the present invention is to provide a lubricating apparatus for distributing small measured amounts of lubricant to precise positions along a conveyor chain. Another object is to provide a lubricating apparatus of the type stated which includes sensing means for activating the apparatus without actually contacting the conveyor chain. A further object is to provide a lubricating apparatus of the type stated which follows lateral movement of the chain so that the lubricant is always deposited in the proper lateral position. Yet another object is to provide a lubricating apparatus of the type stated which is easily installed on existing chain-type conveyors. These and other objects and advantages will become apparent hereinafter.

The present invention is embodied in a chain lubricating apparatus including means for delivering oil to specific locations along the chain. The invention also consists in the parts and in the arrangements and combinations of parts hereinafter described and claimed.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the accompanying drawings which form part of the specification and wherein like numerals and letters refer to like parts wherever they occur:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a chain lubricator constructed in accordance with and embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along lines 22 of FIG. 1 and showing the chain follower;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along lines 33 of FIG. 1 and showing the fluidic control assembly;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along lines 44 of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of the pneumatic circuitry of the chain lubricator.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring now to the drawings (FIG. 1 A designates an apparatus for lubricating an endless conveyor chain C having pairs of parallel links 2 arranged two rows and with adjacent links 2 of each row being connected together by cross pins 4. Each pin 4 carries a roller 6 which maintains proper spacing between the links 2 on each side of it. Hence, the pins 4 and rollers 6 constitute cross pieces between the links 2 on each side of the chain. The links 2 of adjacent pairs overlap at the pins 4 and consequently rub against each other at these 10- cations. Unless properly lubricated at these locations, the links 2 will wear excessively and will not pivot easily relative to one another, thus causing the chain C to bind. Of course, when the chain C binds, it will not pass easily over sprocket wheels or idlers.

The lubricating apparatus A includes an oil reservoir 10 provided with a float 12 or other device for sensing the level of the oil in it. The float 12 may be connected through suitable circuitry to a signal light 14 to provide an alarm when the oil level becomes too low.

Mounted beneath the reservoir 10 is a pneumatic oil ejector 20 having an oil inlet port 22 (FIG. 4) which is connected to the bottom of the reservoir 10 so that oil will drain by gravity into the ejector 20. The ejector 20 also has a plurality of oil discharge ports 24 and air inlet ports 26. When the air inlet ports 26 are pressurized with high pressure air, the ejector 20 will deliver a measured quantity of oil from each oil discharge port 24. When the air pressure is released the ejector 20 resets itself so that the next time it is pressurized it will eject another metered quantity of oil. The ejector 20 is capable of resetting itself almost instantaneously so that it will eject oil at closely spaced time intervals. A suitable oil ejector 20 is manufactured by Lincoln St. Louis Co. of St. Louis, Missouri and marketed under the name SYNCHROJET. It is disclosed in US. patents.

In addition to the reservoir 10 and the oil ejector 20, the lubricating apparatus A (FIG. 1) includes a fixed main bracket 28 which is mounted on a suitable supporting structure adjacent to the conveyor chain C. The bracket 28 restrains a chain follower 30 which rides on either the upper or lower pass of the chain C and maintains the same lateral position with respect to the chain C, even when the chain C moves laterally with respect to the fixed bracket 28. The chain follower 30 has a follower bar 32 which is slightly less in width than the spacing between the two rows of links 2 in the chain C (FIG. 2). The bar 32 fits between these rows of links 2 and is confined laterally by them. The bar 32 rests upon the rollers 6, and is long enough to span several rollers 6 (FIG. 4). It has beveled leading and trailing end faces so that it tends to glide over the tops of the rollers 6 as the chain C moves, rather than snag upon them. Projecting upwardly from the follower bar 32 is a tab 34 to which one end of a restraining link 36 is connected. The opposite end of the link 36 is connected to the fixed bracket 28 by means of a collar 37 which slides along a horizontal rod 37a on the fixed bracket 28. The connections between the ends of the links 36 and the bracket 28 and tab 34 permit the chain follower 30 to move up and down as well as laterally so that the follower 30 follows the chain C and maintains the same lateral position on it at all times. The restraining link 36 includes a turnbuckle so that its length can be varied to adjust the b ngitudinal position of the chain follower 30 along the chain C.

At its leading end the follower bar 32 is provided with a mounting plate 38 (FIGS. 1, 2 and 4) having a pair of oil nozzles 40 fitted therein. The nozzles 40 are on each side of the plate 38 and are located directly above the links 2 at each side of the chain C (FIG. 2). Indeed, the nozzles 40 are positioned to be directed precisely at the interfaces between adjacent overlapping links. 2 connected by the pins 4 within the chain C. The nozzles 40 are connected to flexible hoses 42, and each hose 42 is connected to one of the several discharge ports 24 of the oil ejector 20.

Normally, the chain C is operated in synchronism with another chain C, and that other chain C likewise has a chain follower 30 supported on it. Hence, it is customary to have four oil discharge ports 24 on the ejector 20 and four flexible hoses 42 leading from the ejector 20.

The fixed bracket 28 also supports a fluidic control unit or assembly 50 (FIGS. 1, 3 and 4) which is located adjacent to the chain C and controls the operation of the oil ejector 20. The control unit 50 includes a supporting bracket 52 which is attached to and depends from the fixed bracket 28. The bracket 52 carries an air nozzle 54 which is connected to a high pressure air supply line 55. The nozzle 54 is positioned beneath the chain C and is directly upwardly betweenthe links 2 along each side of the chain C (FIG. 3). Thus, the air jet issuing from the nozzle 54 will either pass through the spaces between the links 2 on each side of the chain C or will impinge against the rollers 6, in which case the air jet is dispersed or interrupted. In addition, the bracket 52 carries a fluidic sensing unit 56 which is located above the chain C and has a downwardly opening aperture 58 (FIGS. 3 and 4) which aligns with the nozzle 54. Thus, when the jet of air issuing from the air nozzle 52 is not blocked by a roller 6 on the chain C, it will pass through the space between the row of links 2 along each side of the chain C and will enter the aperture 58 in the sensing unit 56. The sensing unit 56 is connected to a source of high pressure air through an air line 60 and when the jet of air from the nozzle 54 enters its downwardly presented aperture 58, the sensing unit 56 permits the high pressure air from the line 60 to flow into a control line 62. However, when the air jet from the nozzle 54 is dispersed, the fluidic sensing unit 56 interrupts or blocks the flow of high pressure air from the supply line 60 to the control line 62..

The fluidic control unit 50 controls an air operated valve 64 (FIG. having a pilot 66 connectedto the control line 62 leading from the sensing unit 56. The valve 64 is connected to a high pressure supply line 68 and is further connected to the air inlet port 26 of the oil ejector through connecting lines 70 and 71. When the pilot 66 is operated as a result of high pressure air being introduced into the control line 62 at the sensing unit 56, it opens the valve 64 and places the supply line 68 in communication with the connecting line 70 so that high pressure air is delivered to the oil ejector 20, causing it todischarge oil through its discharge ports 24. On the other hand, when the air pressure on the pilot 66 is released, the valve 64 directs high pressure air through the line 71 to the ejector 20, causing the ejector to reset itself. The ejector 20 and the air-operated valve 64 which operates it constitute delivery means for forcing lubricant from the oil nozzles 40.

Each of the high pressure supply lines 55, 60 and 68 (FIG. 5) is connected to a single source of high pressure air. The supply line 55 is provided with its own regulator 72 for regulating the pressure therein, while the pressure in the supply lines 60 and 68 is controlled by a common regulator 74. The supply line 55 also has a solenoid valve 76 which is operated by a switch positioned at a remote location or it may be automatically operated by a suitable timer 78. The solenoid valve 76 is also controlled by the float 12 within the'reservoir 10 so that it will not open when the level of oil in the reservoir is too low. This preventsair from being introduced into the oil ejector 20 and oil lines 42.

OPERATION Normally the solenoid valve 76 is closed and no air issues from the air nozzle 54 or impinges against the fluidic sensing unit 56. As a result, the air operated valve 64 remains closed and the oil ejector 20 does not deliver any oil to the oil .nozzles 40.

When it is desired to lubricate the chain C, the solenoid valve 76 is opened, either manually by a conventional switch or automatically by the timer 78. This causes air to flow through the supply line 55 and issue from the air nozzle 54 at the end of it. Since this air jet is directed between the rows of links 2 on each side of the chain C (FIGS. 3 and 4) it is interrupted or dispersed at periodic intervals when the rollers 6 of the chain C pass through it. When the air jet is not interrupted, that is when it passes through the chain C, it impinges on the fluidic sensing unit 56, entering that unit through the downwardly opening aperture 58 therein. The fluidic sensing unit 56 senses the air jet and places the control line 62 in communication with the supply line 60, and as a result the pilot 66 of the valve 64 operates. This causes high pressure air to be delivered through the lines 68 and to the oil ejector 20 which in turn delivers a metered quantity of oil to all of the oil hoses 42. An equivalent amount of oil is forced out of the oil nozzles 40 and onto the links 2 of the chain C.

However, when. the jet of air issuing from the air nozzle 54 is dispersed or interrupted by a chain roller 6 passing through it, the fluidic sensing. unit 56 isolates the control line 62 from the supply line 60 and the air operated valves 64 closes. This in turn causes the valve 64 to direct high pressure air to the oil ejector 20 through the line 71 to enable the ejector 20 to reset or recharge itself so that the next time it is pressurized it will eject another metered quantity of oil from its oil discharge ports 24. In this regard, it should be noted that the oil ejector 20 is capable of resetting itself very rapidly.

Thus, as the chain C passes through the fluidic control assembly 50, the jet of air issuing from the air nozzle 54 is interrupted periodically, that is each time one of the chain rollers 6 passes through it. Consequently, a metered quantity of oil is delivered to the chain C immediately after each roller 6 passes beyond the jet of air from the air nozzle 54. The position of the chain follower 30 on the chain C is adjusted by rotating the turnbuckle on the link 36 so that the metered quantity of oil will flow onto the chain exactly at the pins 4. Hence, the oil words between the overlapping faces of adjacent links 2 which are joined at the pins 4, and no binding or excessive wear will occur at these locations.

The chain follower 30 keeps the oil nozzles 40 aligned precisely with the links 2 along each side of the chain C, even when the chain C moves laterally, so that each delivery of oil from the oil nozzles 40 can flow between the adjacent links 2 at a pin 4.

This invention is intended to cover all changes and modifications of the example of the invention herein chosen for purposes of the disclosure which do not constitute departures from the spirit and scope of the invention.

What is claimed is: I

1. An apparatus for lubricating a chain having links arranged in spaced apart rows and cross pieces connecting the links and including rollers located between the rows, said apparatus comprising: a source of lubricant; delivery means connected to the source of lubricant for delivering a quantity of lubricant to the chain upon receipt of a signal, the delivery means including a nozzle which is positioned adjacent to the chain and is directed toward the links; positioning means for maintaining the nozzle in alignment with the chain links when the chain moves laterally, the positioning means including a follower bar which carries the nozzle of the delivery means and is narrower than the spacing between the two rows of links and rides on the rollers between the rows of links, and restraining means for preventing the bar from moving longitudinally with the chain, while permitting it to move laterally with the chain; and control means connected with the delivery means and located remote from the chain so as to be out-of-contact with the chain for generating a signal which causes the delivery means to deliver lubricant through the nozzle to the proper location along the chain.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the control means generates a signal each time one of the cross pieces on the chain passes by it.

3. An apparatus according to claim 2 wherein the control means comprises an air nozzle positioned on one side of the chain to direct a jet of air into the path taken by the cross pieces as the chain moves so that the air jet is dispersed by the cross pieces as they move through the jet, and a fluidic sensing unit connected with the delivery means for sensing the disruption of the air jet and for generating the signal in response to such disruption.

4. An apparatus for lubricating a chain having links arranged in two rows and parallel cross pieces extending transversely of the chain between the rows and connecting adjacent links at intervals along the chain, said apparatus comprising: means for signaling the apparatus to cause a lubricant to be ejected upon the chain a source of lubricant; at least one lubricant nozzle disposed adjacent to and directed toward the chain; lubricant delivery means between the lubricant nozzle and the source of lubricant for delivering lubricant to and discharging it from said at least one lubricant nozzle upon receipt of a signal from said signaling means, whereby lubricant will be discharged from the nozzle and onto the chain with each signal; said signaling means including an air nozzle located adjacent to the chain for discharging an air jet, the air nozzle being spaced from the lubricant nozzle and being oriented such that the air jet passes directly through the chain except when it impinges against and is dispersed by one of the cross pieces in the chain; said signaling means further including and fluidic sensing means for sensing the air jet and for generating a signal in response to changes in the air jet at the sensing means, each signal being capable of activating the delivery means such that the delivery means forces lubricant from the lubricant nozzle, the fluidic sensing means being in alignment with the nozzle and the chain passing between the nozzle and the fluidic sensing means so that the air jet will impinge against the sensing means except when dispersed by crosspieces of the chain, the spacing between the air nozzle and the lubricant nozzle being such that a signal is generated when the lubricant nozzle is in a predetermined position with respect to each link passing adjacent to it.

5. An apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the delivery means comprises a valve which is controlled by and operated in response to signals from the fluidic sensing means, and a lubricant ejector which discharges a quantity of lubricant to the chain each time it is supplied with high pressure air.

6. An apparatus according to claim 5 wherein the fluidic sensing means is connected '0 a source of high pressure air and the valve includes an air operated pilot which is connected to the fluidic sensing means, the fluidic sensing means directing high pressure air to the air operated pilot in response to changes in the jet of air issuing from the air nozzle.

7. An apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the fluidic sensing means generates a signal each time the air jet impinges against it, whereby lubricant is discharged each time the air jet passes through the chain.

8. An apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the signal generated by the fluidic sensing means when air impinges against it is in the form of an increase in air pressure in an air line connected between the fluidic sensing means and the delivery means.

9. An apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the delivery means includes a lubricant ejector connected to the lubricant nozzle and to the source of lubricant and a valve connected to a source of pressurized air and to the ejector at two locations on the ejector, the ejector being capable of forcing lubricant to the lubricant nozzle when pressurized air is admitted to it at the one location and being capable of resetting itself when pressurized air is admitted to it at the other location so that it will again be in a condition to discharge lubricant when pressurized air is introduced at said one location, the valve controlling the location at which pressurized air is admitted to the ejector.

10. An apparatus according to claim9'wherein the valve includes a pilot which receives the signal from the fluidic sensing means, the pilot upon receiving the signal causing pressurized air to be admitted to the ejector at said one location so that lubricant will be forced to the lubricant nozzle.

11. An apparatus according to claim 10 wherein the pilot of the valve is responsive to variations in air pressure in an air control line connected with it; and wherein the fluidic sensing means is connected to the source of pressurized air to the air control line, the signal generated by the fluidic sensing means when the air jet impinges against it being in the form of an increase in pressure in the air control line connected between the fluid sensing device and the pilot of the valve, whereby when the air jet impinges against t'hc fluidic sensing device, the pilot is pressurized and causes the valve to direct pressurized air to the ejector at said one location sothat the ejector will force lubricant to the lubricant nozzle. v

12. An apparatus according to claim 14 and further comprising a follower, bar which rides on the cross pieces of the chain and is confined in the lateral direction by the links of the chain so that the bar always assumes the same lateral position with respect to the chain, and means for restraining the bar in the longitudinal direction so that it does not move in the direction of chain advancement, the lubricant nozzle being mounted on the follower bar.

13. In a chain systemincluding a moving chain having links arranged in two distinct spaced apart rows and cross pieces connecting the links, all of the cross pieces being parallel and each of the rows being continuous so that no gaps exist between adjacent links of the rows; an improved chain lubricating apparatus comprising a fixed anchor; a chain follower bearing against the cross pieces on the chain and confined in the lateral direction by the links so that when the chain moves laterally the follower moves laterally with it; restraining means connecting the follower with the fixed'anchor for restraining the follower and thereby preventing it from moving in the direction of chain advancement, the restraining means permitting the follower to move laterally with respect to the fixed anchor so that the follower will follow lateral movement of the chain; at least one lubricant nozzle carried by the follower and directed toward the chain; a source of lubricant; and delivery means between the source of lubricant and the nozzle for forcing lubricant out of the nozzle and onto the chain, whereby the lubricant will be deposited at the correct lateral location on the chain notwithstanding lateral movement of the chain and further characterized by control means located adjacent to the chain for sensing the location of the cross pieces on the chain and for generating signals in response to the passage of a cross piece thereby, the sensing means being connected with the delivery means for controlling the operation of the delivery means so that the delivery means delivers lubricant in response to signals received from the sensing means.

14. An apparatus according to claim 13 wherein the control means includes an air nozzle .on one side of the chain and directed such that the jet issuing therefrom will be periodically interrupted by the cross pieces on the chain as the chain moves, and a fluidic sensing unit which is located on the other side of the chain and is aligned with the air jet, the fluidic sensing unit being adapted to generate signals in response to disruptions in the air jet caused by the passage of the cross pieces through the air jet.

15. In a chain system including a moving chain having links arranged in two distinct spaced apart rows and cross pieces connecting the links, all of the cross pieces being parallel and each of the rows being continuous so that no gaps exist between adjacent links of the rows; an improved chain lubricating apparatus comprising a fixed anchor; a chain follower bearing against the cross pieces on the chain and confined in the lateral direction by the links so that when the chain moves laterally the follower moves laterally with it; restraining means connecting the follower with the fixed anchor for restraining the follower and thereby preventing it from moving in the direction of chain advancement, the restraining means permitting the follower to move laterally with respect to the fixed anchor so that the follower will follow lateral movement of the chain; at least one lubricant nozzle carried by the follower and directed toward the chain; a source of lubricant; and delivery means between the source of lubricant and the nozzle for forcing lubricant out of the nozzle and onto the chain, whereby the lubricant will be deposited at the correct lateral location on the chain notwithstanding lateral movement of the chain, wherein the follower rests on and is supported by the chain, and further comprising sensing means connected to the delivery means for sensing the position of the cross-links and for causing the delivery means to force lubricant through the nozzle and onto the chain when each cross-link reaches a predetermined position with respect to the lubricant nozzle.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4174678 *Sep 23, 1977Nov 20, 1979Utility Contracting Co.Cable spraying apparatus
US4977979 *Mar 28, 1989Dec 18, 1990Sauk Valley Equipment CompanyLubrication system
US5186280 *May 3, 1991Feb 16, 1993Mattcheck Donald LHigh temperature oven conveyor chain lubrication system
US5360084 *Nov 19, 1993Nov 1, 1994Satzinger Gmbh & Co.Apparatus for the lubrication and cleaning of elongated articles, especially rails and chains
US6179065 *Sep 2, 1998Jan 30, 2001The Charles Machine Works, Inc.System and method for automatically controlling a pipe handling system for a horizontal boring machine
US6550547Feb 11, 2002Apr 22, 2003The Charles Machine Works, Inc.System and method for automatically controlling a pipe handling system for a horizontal boring machine
US6688434Feb 22, 2002Feb 10, 2004Ecolab Inc.Conveyor and lubricating apparatus, lubricant dispensing device, and method for applying lubricant to conveyor
Classifications
U.S. Classification184/15.2, 184/6.1, 118/679
International ClassificationF16N7/00, F16N7/38
Cooperative ClassificationF16N7/38, F16N2210/33
European ClassificationF16N7/38