|Publication number||US4561822 A|
|Application number||US 06/496,120|
|Publication date||Dec 31, 1985|
|Filing date||May 19, 1983|
|Priority date||May 19, 1983|
|Publication number||06496120, 496120, US 4561822 A, US 4561822A, US-A-4561822, US4561822 A, US4561822A|
|Original Assignee||John Schmook|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (12), Referenced by (8), Classifications (9), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to an apparatus for rotating a container to and from an upright position to a tilted or an inverted position. More particularly, this invention relates to an apparatus which is used in connection with a stationary or a transportable moving device such as a forklift tractor for transporting a container and emptying the container of its contents by inversion.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Presently there exist many types of devices designed for the intended purpose of emptying a container of its contents by inversion. Probably the most common type of devices include those which are designed to be connected to a conventional forklift tractor. U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,713,431, 3,881,617, 4,036,383 and 4,272,217 disclose a variety of such devices. The disclosure of each of the above identified are hereby incorporated by reference herein.
More particularly, U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,713,431 and 3,881,617 teach devices which are designed to engage the container at a point below the center of mass of the container. These devices include various lever-actuators which initiate the tilting of the container until the center of mass of the container is moved forwardly or rearwardly of the axis of rotation, at which time the weight of the container causes further tilting of the container to an inverted position, thereby emptying the contents of the container. One major problem associated with these types of devices involves the inability to control the rate of the tilt during rotation. As a consequence, once the center of mass of the container moves beyond the center of the axis of rotation, the container rotates at an uncontrollable rate until impact with a stop located at an inverted position.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,036,383 issued to Allen teaches the concept of using counterbalance springs to slow the rate at which the container rotates during emptying. The patent to Allen also teaches a winch arrangement which is designed to reinvert the container to an upright position after emptying. Unfortunately, while these improvements do provide some control over the rate of rotation of the container, it is noted that the counterbalance spring is effective only when the container is filled with contents having predetermined weight.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,272,217 issued to Secfik discloses another container attachment device including two support members, each of which include pivotable fork members extending therefrom. The specially designed forklift members are designed to engage specially designed channels on the sides of the container. A gearing mechanism is provided to control the rotation of the fork members to correspondingly control the rotation of the container to and from an inverted position. As a result, the Secfik device makes a significant advancement to the state-of-the-art. However, one major drawback to the subject device is the need for specially designed fork members, specially designed channels incorporated within the sides of the container and the relatively complex gearing arrangement to rotate the same. Further, the operation of such a device is limited to rearward inversion of the container which, of course, is unsuitable for many applications.
Therefore, it is an object of this invention to provide an apparatus which overcomes the aforementioned inadequacies of the prior art devices and provides an improvement which is a significant contribution to the advancement of the container rotation art.
Another object of this invention is to provide an apparatus for use in conjunction with containers to rotate the same to and from an upright position to an inverted position at a controllable rate of rotation, both forwardly and rearwardly.
Another object of this invention is to provide an apparatus for inverting containers which is easily adaptable to conventional lift devices, both stationary and moveable, such as forklift tractors.
Another object of this invention is to provide an apparatus including various component parts which may be sold as a kit to be retrofitted to conventional containers such that conventional containers may be used in combination with the apparatus of the subject invention.
The foregoing has outlined some of the more pertinent objects of the invention. These objects should be construed to be merely illustrative of some of the more prominent features and applications of the intended invention. Many other beneficial results can be attained by applying the disclosed invention in a different manner or modifying the invention within the scope of the disclosure. Accordingly, other objects and a fuller understanding of the invention may be had by referring to the summary of the invention and the detailed description of the preferred embodiment in addition to the scope of the invention defined by the claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
The invention is defined by the appended claims with a specific embodiment shown in the attached drawings. For the purpose of summarizing the invention, the invention comprises a device for rotating a container to and from an inverted position so as to empty the container of its contents. More particularly, the apparatus of the invention comprises a pair of fork members which emanate from a base substantially parallel to one another and spaced sufficiently far apart to receive the container therebetween. In its illustrated configuration, the base is designed to be connected to the front rail of a conventional forklift tractor or the like. An engagement assembly is provided for operatively connecting one of the fork members to the container to cause a rotation of the container to and from its upright position during use. An alignment flange is provided to centrally locate the container in proper position between the fork members. A stop member is provided on one or both of the fork members to establish the proper depth in which the container sits between the fork members. The alignment flange and the stop member(s) are designed to properly position the container within the area between the fork members such that the components of the engagement assembly properly mate as the container is raised and lowered from the ground and inverted.
The component parts of the apparatus of the invention which connect to the container are specially designed to be retrofitted to conventional containers so as to render such conventional containers to be operable with the apparatus. Further, the preferred embodiment of the container for use with the apparatus of the invention includes a design particularly suited for shipping in a "knocked down" configuration, merely to be erected by the end user of the container. Of course, this substantially reduces shipping costs typically associated with bulky, but relatively light, containers.
The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the more pertinent and important features of the present invention in order that the detailed description of the invention that follows may be better understood so that the present contribution to the art can be more fully appreciated. Additional features of the invention will be described hereinafter which form the subject of the claims of the invention. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and the specific embodiment disclosed may be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other structures for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. It should also be realized by those skilled in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.
For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view for use in conjunction with a conventional forklift tractor and illustrating the manner in which the apparatus is designed to invert a container;
FIG. 2 is an exploded top view of the apparatus of the invention illustrating the relative positions of the fork members of the apparatus and the container before embracement of the container by the fork members;
FIG. 3 is a side view of the exploded view of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a side view of FIG. 1 illustrating the relative positions of the first and second plates of the engagement assembly immediately prior to engagement of the same;
FIG. 5 is a front view of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a top plan view of FIG. 1 immediately upon lifting of the container by the fork members of the apparatus of the invention;
FIG. 7 is a right side view of FIG. 6; and
FIG. 8 is a partial view of FIG. 7 illustrating as phantom FIGS. 8A and 8B, the rotation of the container by the apparatus of the invention.
Similar reference characters refer to similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the apparatus 10 of the invention illustrating the manner in which the apparatus 10 may be fitted to a conventional forklift tractor 12 and illustrating a specially designed container 14 for use with the apparatus 10. For the purposes of this discussion, the apparatus 10 is discussed in detail for use in conjunction with the forklift tractor 12 and the specially designed container 14. It shall be understood, however, that the apparatus 10 may be used with any type of stationary or moveable device for lifting and emptying a container. Further, it shall be understood that conventional containers may be used in conjunction with the apparatus 10 of the invention by modifying such conventional containers in a manner hereinafter described.
The apparatus 10 comprises a base 16 which extends substantially horizontally and parallel to the front of the forklift tractor 12. A pair of hook members 18 are rigidly connected to the base member 16. The hook members 18 are designed to slip over the horizontal rail 20 of the forklift tractor 12 in much the same manner that conventional forks attach to the rail 20 of the forklift tractor 12. Accordingly, it is readily seen that operation of the rail 20 of the forklift tractor 12, upwardly and downwardly, causes the apparatus 10 of the invention to also move upwardly and downwardly. Further, with such an arrangement it is noted that the apparatus 10 of the invention may be used with conventional forklift tractors 12 by merely removing the conventional forks and replacing the same with the apparatus 10.
FIGS. 2 and 3 are exploded views of the apparatus 10 of the invention and the container 14 illustrating the relative positions of the apparatus 10 and the container 14 in proper alignment to be lifted by the apparatus 10. More particularly, the apparatus 10 comprises a right fork member 24 and a left fork member 26. The fork members 24 and 26 are sufficiently spaced apart so as to receive the container 14 therebetween. The right fork member 24 comprises an elongated bottom portion 28 having an upwardly extending side flange portion 30 positioned inwardly of the right fork member 24. The left fork member 26 comprises an elongated flat member positioned so that its wide flat edge extends vertically.
The apparatus 10 of the invention includes an engagement assembly 32 which is specially designed so as to permit removable engagement with the container 14 and to rotate the container 14 from an upright to an inverted position. In its preferred form, the engagement assembly 32 comprises a first plate 34 operatively connected to one of the fork members 24 or 26, illustrated as the right fork member 24, and a second plate 36 connected to the corresponding side of the container 14. The first plate 34 includes a pair of plate stops 38 positioned on opposing areas of the first plate 34. Correspondingly, the second plate 36 includes a pair of turn posts 40 rigidly connected to opposing areas of the second plate 36.
A first stub axle 42 is rigidly connected to the other side of the first plate 34. A journal 44 is provided to receive the first stub axle 42 so as to permit rotation of the first plate 34. The second plate 36 is rigidly connected to the container 14 by means of a second stub axle 46 having one end rigidly connected to the container 14 and the other end rigidly connected to the other side of the second plate 36. Finally, a third stub axle 48 is rigidly connected on the diametrically opposing area of the opposing side of the container 14.
The right fork member 24 and the left fork member 26 include notches 50 and 52 for receiving the second stub axle 46 and the third stub axle 48, respectively. The notches 50 and 52 are designed and dimensioned so as to bear the weight of the container 14 via shafts 46 and 48 when the container 14 is lifted by the apparatus 10.
A drive mechanism 60 is provided for rotating the first stub axle 42 within journal 44. Specifically, the drive mechanism in its preferred form comprises a gear 54 rigidly connected to the first stub axle 42, with a second journal 44A provided for added support. A rack gear 56 is positioned in operable engagement with gear 54 by means of a slide member 58 which oscillates between the journals 44 and 44A. Obviously, movement of the slide member 58 and rack gear 56 causes rotation of the gear 54 and first stub axle 42, thereby correspondingly causing rotation of the first plate 34.
A drive, generally indicated by the numeral 60, is provided for driving the movement of the slide member 58. In its preferred form, drive 60 comprises a dual action hydraulic cylinder 62 rigidly connected to the bottom portion 28 of the right fork member 24. The end of the piston rod 64 is rigidly connected to the slide member 58 such that, upon movement of the piston rod 64 inwardly or outwardly with respect to the cylinder 64, slide member 58 correspondingly moves inwardly or outwardly and rotates the second stub axle 46.
Referring to FIGS. 4 through 7 in conjunction with FIGS. 2 and 3, it is seen that the container 14 is lifted by initially lowering the fork members 24 and 26 and then moving the fork members 24 and 26 to embrace the container 14 therebetween. An upstanding stop projection 66 and 68 are rigidly connected to the right and left fork members 24 and 26, respectively, to properly align the second and third stub axles 46 and 48 with notches 50 and 52, respectively (see FIG. 4 and FIG. 5). Upon such proper alignment, the lift mechanism of the forklift tractor 12 is actuated so as to cause the fork member 24 and 26 to raise upwardly until the second and the third stub axles 46 and 48 engage within notches 50 and 52, respectively. Further upward movement of the fork members 24 and 26 then results in actual lifting of the container 14 from the ground. Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, it is seen that the first and second plates 34 and 36 are positioned in an aligned, adjacent position when the container 14 is lifted from the ground. Further, it is noted that the turn posts 40 are preferably located diametrically in opposing areas of the second plate 36 and the plate stops 38 are preferably positioned immediately below the turn posts 40 when the plates 34 and 36 are in their aligned, adjacent position. Also preferably, the plate stops 38 are sloped downwardly toward the axis of rotation of the container 14. Still further preferably, the right notch 50 is designed such that the weight of the container 14 bears against the notch 50 rather than against the plate stops 38 via turn post 40.
The apparatus 10 of the invention includes an added feature of an alignment flange 70 which is rigidly connected to the end of the third stub axle 48 with the bottommost portion of the flange 28 flaring outwardly. In this manner, the container 14 is forced to be properly centered between the fork members 24 and 26 as the fork members 24 and 26 are lifted to initially engage the stub axles 46 and 48 (see FIGS. 2, 5 and 6).
During use, the apparatus 10 causes rotation of the container 14 from an upright to a tilted or inverted position, as illustrated in the phantom views 8A and 8B of FIG. 8. Specifically, upon operation of the hydraulic cylinder 62, the first plate 34 is caused to rotate at which time the rearward plate stop 38 engages against the rearward turn post 40 thereby initiating tilting of the container 14. Further tilting of the container 14 will cause the weight of the container 14 to shift such that the forward turn post 40 bears against the forward plate stop 38. After inversion and emptying of the container 14 of its contents, the above process is repeated in reverse manner so as to erect the container 14 to its upright position. It is noted that during inversion and uprighting, complete control of the rate of rotation 14 is maintained by merely controlling the rate in which the piston rod 64 of the hydraulic cylinder 62 moves outwardly or inwardly therefrom. Further, as shown diagrammatically in FIG. 2, the rate in which the piston rod 64 moves outwardly or inwardly from the hydraulic cylinder 62 may be more accurately controlled by connecting the ports of the cylinder 62 to a dual counterbalance valve 72 and incorporating a needle valve 74 in fluid communication with one of the ports. Of course, such an arrangement more accurately controls the inflow and outflow of the hydraulic fluid, thereby accurately controlling the rate of rotation of the container 14. Further, it is noted that the valving arrangement may be easily incorporated as another control lever of conventional forklift tractors 12.
It is noted that the drawings of the preferred embodiment of the apparatus 10 of the invention illustrate the axis of rotation of the container 14 to be located somewhat below the proximate center of the container 14. Although such a position of the axis of rotation is preferred as being more stable and provides clearance between the bottom of the container 14 and the base member 16 of the apparatus 10 during tilting, it should be realized that the axis of rotation may very well be located at other desirable locations. Specifically, for example, the axis of rotation may be truly located to the center of the container 14 so as to permit the container 14 to be rotated forwardly or rearwardly until inverted.
The stub axles 46 and 48 and the corresponding second plate 36 and alignment 70 of the apparatus 10 of the invention may be sold separately in kit form to be retrofitted to existing, conventional containers. Of course, this would involve merely rigidly connecting the stub axles 46 and 48 diametrically to the sides of the container 14 by welding or other fastening means. Consequently, practically all of the existing, conventional containers may be easily modified for use with the apparatus 10 of the invention.
The specially designed container 14 illustrated throughout the figures of the drawings is designed to be initially sold in a "knocked down" condition and erected by the end user. Specifically, these specially designed containers 14 include a side assembly comprising a forward and rear vertical angle member 76 and 78 interconnected by a bottom angle member 80. An intermediate crossmember 82 and a lower crossmember 84 are interconnected to the angle members 76-84 so as to provide support at the axis of rotation of the container 14. Each of these members 76-84 are rigidly factory welded together in their proper positions. Two of these side assemblies 76-84 are then used to manufacture one container with the second stub axle 46 connected to one and the third stub axle 48 connected to the other. Properly sized side sheets of material such as plywood 86 are fastened within the framework 76-84 by means of self-drilling, self-capping screws or the like. Similarly, two sheets of similar material such as plywood 88 are provided for connection between the front and rear portions of the side framework 76-84. These component parts are designed to be shipped to the end user, with the end user erecting the same by means of the self-threading, self-capping screws or the like. Of course, the framework 76-84 may be shipped alone, with the end user supplying the required sheets of plywood 86 and 88.
The present disclosure includes that contained in the appended claims, as well as that of the foregoing description. Although this invention has been described in its preferred form with a certain degree of particularity, it is understood that the present disclosure of the preferred form has been made only by way of example and the combination and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
Now that the invention has been described:
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|U.S. Classification||414/422, 414/421, 414/642, 414/912, 414/607|
|Cooperative Classification||Y10S414/125, B66F9/19|
|Aug 1, 1989||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Dec 31, 1989||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Mar 20, 1990||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 19891231