|Publication number||USRE34080 E|
|Application number||US 07/132,321|
|Publication date||Sep 29, 1992|
|Filing date||Dec 14, 1987|
|Priority date||Apr 24, 1985|
|Publication number||07132321, 132321, US RE34080 E, US RE34080E, US-E-RE34080, USRE34080 E, USRE34080E|
|Inventors||Eugene H. Schmidt|
|Original Assignee||New Tek Manufacturing, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (15), Non-Patent Citations (8), Referenced by (27), Classifications (7), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates generally to row following devices attached to tractor-drawn implements and more specifically to row following devices which are sensitive to lateral movement of the implement along a crop row and which realign the implement to follow the row independently of the lateral position of the tractor.
It has long been a problem in the operation of farm equipment to guide various implements through a crop field, without accidentally deviating from the crop row and destroying planted crops. Various tractor-drawn implements may carry ground working tools spaced as close as 4" apart. The tractor operator is generally situated in a cab located several feet above and forward of the implement, so that it is difficult to view the actual engagement of the tools with the ground. All the operator can do is attempt to keep the tractor centered relative to the rows.
The problem of maintaining the ground working tools between the rows becomes critical in an operation such as cultivating where only a slight lateral misalignment of the tractor with the rows will cause the implement to uproot several rows of crops. This problem is enhanced as the operator .[.speeds.]. .Iadd.spends .Iaddend.many hours in the field following long rows of crops. In the small amount of time it takes to turn from observing the implement to look forward to align the tractor in the rows, a few feet of crops can be uprooted due to a slight misalignment of the implement with the crop row.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an improved row following device for guiding a tractor drawn row crop implement.
Another object of the invention is to provide a row following guidance device which will adjust the path of a tractor-drawn implement so that it will follow a crop row independently of the tractor's lateral position in relation to the crop rows.
A further object is to provide a row following guidance device which is automatically responsive to lateral movement of the implement, to correctly steer the implement back to a row following position centered within the crop rows.
Yet another object of the invention is to provide a row following guidance device which may be easily and removably attached to various implements.
Still a further object is to provide a row following guidance device which is vertically adjustable independent of the implement so that the implement may be maintained at any uniform depth in the ground without affecting the operation of the row following device.
Yet a further object is to provide a row following guidance device which may be attached to a vehicle with different types of hitches.
More generally, it is an object of the present invention to provide a row following guidance device which will connect the left and right sides of the forward end of an implement to a tractor and which will adjust the length of each left and right connection such that the implement will follow a crop row independently of lateral deviations of the tractor from the crop row. The device is mounted within a conventional quick-hitch so that it may be used upon a variety of different implements. A row following wheel signals a steering valve upon any deviation from the alignment of the implement with the crop row, and the steering valve corrects the deviation by lengthening one connection between the tractor and the implement and shortening the other connection. The row following wheel is mounted for movement independent of the implement so that the implement may be raised or lowered without affecting the operation of the wheel.
These and other objects, advantages, and novel features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the invention installed on a tractor, the near wheel on the tractor removed.
FIG. 2 is a top view of the invention as shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of the device taken from lines 3--3 in FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view of a portion of the device taken at lines 4--4 in FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged top view of the device shown in FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a top view of the device installed on a tractor as it is drawn through a field.
FIG. 7 is a top view of the device installed on a tractor as it is drawn through a field, and additionally showing the tractor and implement shifted laterally from the crop rows.
FIG. 8 is a top view of the device installed on a tractor as it is drawn through a field showing the tractor shifted laterally and the implement corrected to alignment with the crop rows.
Referring now to the drawings, in which identical or corresponding parts are indicated by the same reference character throughout the several views, and more particularly to FIG. 1, the row following guidance device is designated generally at 10 and is attached to a conventional three-point hitch, designated generally at 11, on a tractor 12.
The guidance device 10 includes an implement correction assembly, designated generally at 20, which operates to guide an implement 13 along a crop row independently of minor lateral deviations from that path by tractor 12, and a lateral movement detection assembly, designated generally at 30, which responds to lateral deviations from the crop row by implement 13 and transmits signals to implement correction assembly 20 to correct the path of implement 13.
Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, implement correction assembly 20 is installed within the housing of a conventional quick-hitch 21. Quick-hitch 21 has a pin-and-clevis mount 22 centered on its upper surface, for attachment to the ball on the free end of lift arm 11a of three-point hitch 11. A left 23a, right 23b, and center 23c, rearwardly projecting hook are conventional on quick-hitch 21, and are used for attachment to the corresponding pin-and-clevis mounts 24a on tool bar 24 of implement 13.
Referring now to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, quick-hitch housing 21 is generally in the shape of an inverted "U", the base portion of the "U" being fitted with a horizontal tie rod 26 which is attached for pivotal movement about a vertical pin 26a passing through the center of tie rod 26. Thus, as tie rod 26 pivots, each end thereof will travel an equal distance in opposite directions within a generally horizontal plane.
The upper end of a vertical lever 27 is attached via a conventional ball joint 27a to each free end of tie rod 26. Each lever 27 is pivotally attached on a pin 28 journaled through the vertical sides of the legs of quick-hitch housing 21, and have axial pivotal axes located approximately two-thirds of the distance down from upper ball joint 27a. Thus, the upper end of lever 27 will move a distance approximately twice that of the lower end, and in the opposite direction. The lower end of each vertical level 27 in affixed with a pin-and-clevis mount 27b to the ball of the free end of each lower arm 11b of three-point hitch 11. Lower arms 11b of three-point hitch 11 are attached to upper lift arms 11c via intermediate members 11d in a conventional manner. The combination of each lower arm 11b of three-point hitch 11 with the corresponding lever 27 attached thereto, forms articulated members which will act to increase or decrease the distance between tractor 12 and the pivotal connection at pin 28 at which each lever 27 is mounted.
It should be noted at this point that horizontal tie rod 26 will bend slightly, and the connections at pins 28 and at pin-and-clevis mounts 27b are slightly loose in order to allow for the various pivoting movements to occur.
Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 2, a hydraulic cylinder 29a has pivotal mounts at each end for attachment between one free end of tie rod 26 and the free end of a support extension of quick-hitch housing 21. When activated, cylinder 29a will push or pull the end of tie rod 26 about vertical pin 26a. A second hydraulic cylinder 29b is attached to the opposing free end of tie rod 26 and acts in a similar fashion. Each hydraulic cylinder 29a and 29b is signaled by lateral movement detector assembly 30 in a manner to be described below.
Lateral movement detection assembly 30 is mounted between tractor 12 and quick-hitch 21. A base frame 31 for the assembly 30 components is held generally centered in front of quick-hitch 21 by elongated carrier arms 32. One carrier arm 32 is mounted on one end to the lower surface of left hook 23a and a second carrier arm 32 is mounted on one end to the lower surface of right hook 23b via ball joints 32a. The other end of each carrier arm 32 is pivotally connected to each side of base frame 31 and have pivotal axes which are horizontal and axial, thus, base frame 31 may only pivot in a vertical plane.
Base frame 31 is held at a constant height above the ground by a pair of jointed arms 33 attached between tractor draw bar 34 and each side of base frame 31. Each jointed arm 33 has two approximately equal portions connected at an elbow joint 33a, having a vertical pivotal axis, and is pivotally connected at each end about vertical axes. Thus, jointed arms 33 will only allow base 31 to move in a horizontal plane.
Lateral movement of tractor 12 is allowed by jointed arms 33, and vertical movement of quick-hitch 21 is allowed by carrier arms 32, neither movement affecting the position of base 31 centered in front of quick-hitch 21.
Referring now to FIGS. 4 and 5, lateral movement detection assembly 30 includes a rotatable wheel 35 mounted on an axle 35a between the ends 36a of two parallel arms 36. The other end 36b of each parallel arm 36 is pivotally connected to a pin 37 which is parallel to axle 35a, and is mounted to base frame 31. Axle 35a is mounted transverse to the crop rows so that wheel 35 will remain aligned with the rows. Each end 36a and 36b of parallel arms 36 have parallel axes. In order to save on materials, pin 37 also serves as the pivotal axis for carrier arms 32. A bracket 38 affixed to each side of base 31 supports pin 37.
Each end 36b of arm 36 is also adapted for pivotal movement in both vertical directions in order to allow wheel 35 to rise or fall over bumps. Thus, while base 31 may move laterally or vertically in relation to wheel 35, axle 35a of wheel 35 will remain parallel to pin 37. This parallelogram arrangement aids wheel 35 in remaining in the crop row as base 31 moves laterally in relation to the crop rows.
A hydraulic steering valve 39 is mounted to base 31 with a rigid strap 41 which extends between the sides of base 31, and communicates with tractor 12 via hydraulic supply line 39b and return line 39c. An actuator rod 39a extends vertically through steering valve 39 and projects out the bottom thereof. An elongated arm 42 has a pin-and-clevis mount 42a which is attached to the lower projecting end of actuator rod 39a, with the pin perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of actuator rod 39a. Thus, arm 42 will rotate actuator rod 39a when base 31 moves laterally in relation to the crop rows. The clevis end 42a of arm 42 will allow arm 42 to pivot within a vertical plane without affecting the operation of actuator rod 39a.
The free end of arm 42 has a collar 43 slidably mounted thereon. An extension strap 43a from collar 43 is affixed to one of parallel arms 36. In FIGS. 4 and 5 arm 42 and actuator rod 39a are shown in a neutral position, with arm 42 in a vertical plane parallel to the crop row. As parallel arms 36 move through various angles caused by the horizontal lateral movement of base 31 (as it follows tractor 12), arms 42 will be held parallel to parallel arms 36 by collar 43, thereby rotating actuator rod 39a and activating steering valve 39. As actuator rod 39a is rotated out of its neutral position, steering valve 39 will cause hydraulic pressure to be communicated to one of cylinders 29a or 29b (see FIGS. 1 & 2) via hydraulic line 48 or 49, respectively. This .[.hdraulic.]. .Iadd.hydraulic .Iaddend.pressure will cause cylinder 29a or 29b to extend, pivoting tie rod 26 and causing the opposing cylinder 29b or 29a to retract. If arm 42 is rotated in the opposite direction, the retracted cylinder 29b or 29a will extend, causing the extended cylinder 29a or 29b to retract. As long as steering valve actuator 39a remains out of the neutral position, a cylinder 29a or 29b will be activated.
A lever 44 is mounted for pivotal movement upon pin 37 and in a plane perpendicular to pin 37, and is centered between parallel arms 36, (when they are in a neutral position). A hydraulic cylinder 46, pivotally mounted within base frame 31, has its extendable rod portion 46a pivotally connected to one end of lever 44 and lies in the pivotal plane of lever 44. Hydraulic power for cylinder 46 is supplied from tractor 12 by hydraulic line 46b, causing cylinder 46 to pivot lever 44 about pin 37.
A centering plate 47 is affixed perpendicularly to the free end of lever 44, and is generally rectangular in shape with a projecting triangular portion 47a along its top edge. The length of plate 47 is slightly greater than the distance between parallel arms 36, so that plate 47 will lift parallel arms 36 when cylinder 46 is activated. Triangular portion 47a has a base with a length equal to the distance between parallel arms 36 and is slightly less than the length of rectangular portion 47b, so that shoulders 47c are formed on rectangular portion 47b upon which parallel arms 36 will rest when in a centered position. The apex of triangular portion 47a is centered between parallel arms 36 when they are in the neutral position. It can thus be seen that when it is desired to lift wheel 35 from the ground (such as to turn a corner) cylinder 46 is activated so as to pivot lever 44 and raise centering plate 47 upwards against parallel arms 36. If parallel arms 36 are not properly centered, the slope of the sides of triangular portion 47a will cause one or the other arm 36 to slide downward and laterally to shoulder 47c, thereby centering follower wheel 35. Then, when the operator is ready to proceed again, lever 44 will lower wheel 35 to the ground in an already centered condition, ready for operation.
Referring now to FIGS. 6, 7 and 8, the guidance device 10 will operate in the manner described below to correct lateral deviation of implement 13 from the crop row.
FIG. 6 shows tractor 12 and implement 13 aligned in a field 50 with valleys of crop rows are generally indicated by lines 51. Thus, follower wheel 35 will follow each crop row within a valley 51, (see also, FIG. 3). Since wheel 35 is mounted on an axle 35a which is always kept perpendicular to the crop rows by virtue of the parallelogram arrangement of parallel arms 36 with axle 35a, wheel 35 is less likely to "climb" the crop row, and will more easily follow valley 51.
In order to more easily see the sequence of steps which occur in the operation of the invention 10, the movement of all parts will be greatly exaggerated in FIGS. 7 and 8. Thus, FIG. 7 shows tractor 12 and quick-hitch 21 shifted laterally to an exagerated degree while follower wheel 35 remains within valley 51 following the crop row. It should be noted that FIG. 7 shows the misalignment of implement 13 before corrections are made by row following device 10, and in actual operation such a misalignement would not occur since the device is making incremental corrections immediately upon misalignement.
As implement 13 begins to shift laterally in relation to the crop rows 51, base 31 will also shift laterally, causing arm 42 to activate steering valve 39 as arm 42 is pulled by parallel arms 36 out of its neutral position. Activation of steering valve 39 will cause one of cylinders 29a or 29b to extend, causing the other cylinder 29b or 29a to retract, corresponding to the direction in which actuator 39a is rotated. In the situation shown in FIGS. 6, 7 and 8, cylinder 29a (see also FIG. 1) will be caused to be extended, pivoting the corresponding lever 27 about pin 28 such that quick-hitch housing 21 will be forced rearwardly on that end. It can therefore be seen that the effective length, designated as A, between right implement hook 23a and the point 52a at which that side of housing 21 is connected to tractor 12 has been increased. At the same time the effective length "B" between the left implement hook 23b and the corresponding point 52b on tractor 12, will be decreased in a directly proportional amount. Effective lengths "A" and "B" are caused to increase .[.of.]. .Iadd.or .Iaddend.decrease by the actions of each articulated member comprised of lever 27 connected to lower arm 11b of three-point hitch 11. Tie rod 26, attached between the tops of levers 27 serves to translate this movement in a directly proportional amount in the opposite direction to the opposing cylinder 29b.
Obviously, two-way cylinders could be installed to replace the one-way cylinders 29a and 29b described herein. In such a case tie rod 26 would not be necessary except to stabilize the actions of each cylinder. As cylinders 29a and 29b are activated, and effective length "A" increases and effective length "B" decreases, quick-hitch 21 (along with implement 13 attached thereto) will realign itself along the crop row, as shown in FIG. 8. Once implement 13 is realigned, arm 42 will once again be in its neutral position with respect to base 31, and cylinders 29a and 29b will maintain their respective positions.
It should be noted at this point that the pivotal connection of lower arms 11b of three-point hitch 11 to tractor 12 .Iadd.must be .Iaddend.loose enough to allow the horizontal pivotal movement of these arms 11b as implement 13 is corrected to its row following position. The amount of lateral shifting shown in the drawings is greatly exagerrated, and the actual horizontal pivotal movement necessary to accomplish the lateral corrections is minimal.
It should also be noted that guidance device 10 could be mounted directly upon implement 13, rather than within quick-hitch housing 21. However, mounting the device 10 on a hitch allows use of one device 10 with many different implements 13. Similarly, the invention 10 may be mounted on other types of hitches than the quick-hitch 21 or three-point hitch 11 described herein. Thus, the consumer need not purchase new equipment to which the invention 10 would be mounted.
It will be readily understood that the particular disposition or arrangement or nature of the elements of the invention are not of the essence of the invention, and that many variations, substitutions, and modifications may be made, in departure from the particular construction and characterization in the drawings and foregoing descriptions, without departing from the true spirit of the invention. It is therefore to be understood that the invention should be limited only by the breadth and scope of the appended claims.
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|U.S. Classification||172/5, 172/26, 104/244.1, 180/401|
|Oct 3, 1988||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SUNCO SYSTEMS, INC., RURAL ROUTE 1, BOX 117, MADRI
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:SCHMIDT, EUGENE H.;REEL/FRAME:004958/0828
Effective date: 19880923
Owner name: SUNCO SYSTEMS, INC., A NE CORP.,NEBRASKA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SCHMIDT, EUGENE H.;REEL/FRAME:004958/0828
Effective date: 19880923
|Sep 13, 1994||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Feb 5, 1995||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|