|Publication number||USRE40611 E1|
|Application number||US 10/765,029|
|Publication date||Dec 30, 2008|
|Filing date||Jan 26, 2004|
|Priority date||Apr 28, 1994|
|Also published as||CA2189029A1, CA2189029C, CA2189029F, EP0772387A1, EP0772387A4, US5463852, WO1995029580A1|
|Publication number||10765029, 765029, US RE40611 E1, US RE40611E1, US-E1-RE40611, USRE40611 E1, USRE40611E1|
|Inventors||Michael L. O'Halloran, Cecil L. Case, Martin E. Pruitt, David P. Fritz|
|Original Assignee||Agco Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (62), Non-Patent Citations (5), Referenced by (6), Classifications (14)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is related to co-pending application Ser. No. 08/234,225 filed Apr. 28, 1994, titled Rotary Cutter Bed Harvester with Non-Auger Conveying Means for Outboard Cutters in the names of Raymond F. Schmitt, et al. and to co-pending application Ser. No. 08/237,033 filed May 3, 1994, titled Harvester with Hydraulically Driven, Flow-Compensated Rotary Cutter Bed in the names of Michael L. O'Halloran, et al.
The present invention relates to the field of crop harvesters and, more particularly, to harvesters of the type which utilize a cutter bed having a series of relatively high speed, rotary cutters that sever the standing crop from the ground as the machine advances through the field.
One example of a harvester with rotary cutters is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,272,859 titled MECHANICAL DRIVE CENTER PIVOT MOWER CONDITIONER, which patent is owned by the assignee of the present invention. The harvesting machine disclosed in the '859 Patent is a pull-type harvester which requires the use of a separate tractor for towing the harvester through the field during use. The operating components of that harvester are mechanically driven through a drive line that is coupled with the power takeoff shaft of the towing tractor.
The harvester disclosed in the '859 Patent is also a conditioner, which means that the severed crop materials are passed between a pair of superimposed conditioning rolls before being discharged onto the ground. However, as a practical matter there is a limit to the length which such rolls can have and still function in an optimal manner. Thus, while the width of cut taken by a mower-conditioner using roll type conditioning mechanism can be made significantly wider than the length of the conditioning rolls, the crop that is severed by the machine must somehow be gathered inwardly after severance before being directed through the shorter conditioning rolls. Augers and other consolidating devices can be used behind the cutter bed for this purpose, but this adds an additional expense and subjects the crop materials to extra mechanical handling, which may be undesirable in many cases. The wider the cut, the more difficult the problem of conveying the severed outboard materials toward the center without using some kind of extra conveyor apparatus behind the cutters.
Furthermore, in making a longer cutter bed than disclosed in the '859 Patent wherein the endmost cutters are located at the opposite edges of a discharge opening to the conditioner rolls, additional engineering and expense is involved if the extra, added-on cutters are to be driven with their own extra spur gears within the gear case beneath the cutters. Thus, it would be of considerable benefit if additional cutters could be added onto the cutter bed without the need for adding additional internal gearing to the existing gear case. In that way, a standard, uniform size gear case could be used for both the standard length cutter bed and the extended length cutter bed having additional cutters.
Commercial hay producers typically use self-propelled machines and usually prefer a wider cutting width than that found on many pull-type units. Along with the extra width, however, comes increased loading on the power distribution drive in the gear case. Moreover, if a standard length gear case is to be utilized, some means must again be provided for extending driving power to additional cutters that are added on to extend the effective length of the cutter bed. Since in many instances the self-propelled tractors available for use with harvesters of this type are conventionally provided with engines capable of supplying pressurized hydraulic fluid for the operating components of a harvesting header, and since hydraulically powered machines are preferred in many instances by commercial operators, it would be desirable and beneficial to provide a hydraulic-driven cuter bed that would meet the needs and desires of commercial operators.
Accordingly, one important object of the present invention is to provide a way of making a longer cutter bed out of a certain length gear case so that additional cutters can be added to opposite ends of the gear case without necessitating redesign of the internal gear train of the gear case. Stated otherwise, an important object of this invention is to provide a way of using the cutter bed gear case of a shorter width machine, such as a twelve foot cutting width, on a wider cut machine, such as a fifteen foot machine, without designing a whole new gear case, complete with additional gears, bearings and other components appropriate for the wider effective cutting width.
Another important object of the present invention is to provide a rotary style machine in which the cut width can be substantially wider than the opening to the conditioner mechanism without requiring the addition of center gathering augers or other consolidating mechanism behind the cutter bed to consolidate the wide volume of cut material before it is presented to the conditioning mechanism.
A further important object of the invention is to provide a hydraulically powered, wide cut rotary style harvester that is particularly well-suited for commercial hay operations in which self-propelled tractors are typically favored and achieving high levels of productivity through harvesting speed and maximum cut width is a high priority. In this connection, one important object is to provide a hydraulic drive arrangement which dramatically increases cutter bed life through decreased loading on the individual gears, bearings and other components of the cutter bed, without sacrificing cutting power, blade speed or ground speed of the harvester.
Additionally, an important object of the invention is to provide a hydraulic drive for the rotary style cutter bed of a harvester in which the cutter bed speed remains substantially constant even if the engine speed of the mechanism driving a hydraulic pump for the bed lugs down such as when heavy crop conditions are encountered.
In carrying out the foregoing and other important objects, the present invention contemplates, in one preferred embodiment, increasing the effective length of a standard-length cutter bed by adding a pair of extensions or supports to opposite ends of the original gear case. Additional rotary cutters are journalled by the extended supports for rotation about upright axes. Instead of increasing the length of the gear train through the gear case, driving power to the added cutters is supplied by overhead drive mechanism that connects upright shafts of the added cutters with upright shafts associated with the opposite end cutters of the original gear case. Such over-the-top mechanism may take the form, for example, of timing belts and pulleys, chain and sprockets, gear boxes and universal joint couplings, or a spur gear train. In the event that the cutter bed is mechanically driven, one of the shafts associated with the original gear case serves as the driving input shaft from which all of the gears in the gear case receive their driving power. On the other hand, if the drive is a hydraulic drive, the present invention contemplates coupling at least one hydraulic motor with the cutter bed. Preferably, a separate hydraulic motor is coupled with each shaft of the two end gears in the gear case and such motors are connected in a parallel fluid flow relationship so that the work of driving the gears in the gear case and their respective cutters, as well as the added-on-cutters, is shared uniformly by both of the hydraulic motors. Such load sharing comes by virtue of the uninterrupted mechanical drive train through the gear in the cutter bed and the parallel fluid connection between the motors. As a result, the loading on individual gears, bearings and other components is dramatically reduced from which it would otherwise be.
The hydraulic motors are mounted on the header frame above a horizontal partition or wall that separates the overhead motors from the cutting and consolidating region below the partition. A special flow volume compensating circuit in the hydraulic drive system responds to engine slow-down caused by increased loading in the hydraulic operating circuit so as to allow essentially the same flow volume rate of oil to move to the motors notwithstanding the change in engine speed that would normally cause reduced volume. The cutter speed thus remains substantially unchanged.
Alternative consolidating or conveying means associated with the cutters laterally outside of the discharge opening of the header are provided to achieve inward consolidation of cut crop from the outer cutters. Such conveying means may take alternative forms such as an upright platform or conveyor belts a rotary, suspended drum between each pair of outer cutters, or a suspended rotary cage-type impeller between impeller cages of the outer cutters.
The harvester 10 in
The header 14 includes a cutter bed 30 as illustrated in
As shown in
As illustrated particularly in
The shaft assembly 44 of the outer cutter 32a is centered within an impeller cage 46 of the same construction as the impeller cages in the incorporated '859 patent. Additionally, the shaft assembly 44 includes a lower universal joint 48 housed within the impeller cage 46 in the same manner as the '859 Patent. The cutter 32a also carries a kidney-shaped impeller plate 49 as in the '859 Patent. The universal joint 48 is connected at its upper end to a shaft 50 that passes through a surrounding sleeve 52 held in a fixed, vertical orientation by a horizontal partition or wall 54 extending above the cutters 32a and 32b. As shown in
The shaft 50 projects into a right angle gearbox 60 carried by an upright front wall 62 (
The shafts 50 and 64 are operably coupled interiorly of the gearbox 60 with a vertical shaft 72 projecting from the top of the gearbox 60. Shaft 72 carries a sheave 74 which is entrained by an endless, flexible drive belt 76 extending horizontally inboard of the header where it entrains another sheave 78. The drive belt 76 is a timing belt of the type provided with a multitude of transverse, evenly spaced ribs along its working surface for meshing engagement with mating, upright groves in the working peripheries of the sheaves 74 and 78. This eliminates slippage between the timing belt 76 and the sheaves 74, 78 during operation, which maintains proper out-of-phase relationship between the outer cutter 32a and the next adjacent cutter 32b. The sheave 78 is fixed to an upright shaft 80 which receives driving input power from a large sheave 82 entrained by a flat drive belt 84 leading toward the center of the header. The opposite, lower end of the shaft 80 is coupled with the cutter 32b for driving the same. Thus, it will be seen that the universal coupling 48 of the cutter 38a, the shaft 50, the gearbox 60 and the shaft 72 broadly comprise driven shaft means for the cutter 32a, while the sheave 74, the timing belt 76 and the sheave 78 broadly comprises mechanism 83 operably coupling the driven shaft means with the drive shaft 80 for the second cutter 32b.
The belt 84 extends back to the center of the machine and at that location entrains a large sheave 86 that receives driving power from a downwardly projecting output shaft (not clearly shown in the drawings) of the gearbox 24.
The drive shaft 80 of the cutter 32b is journalled by a pair of upper and lower bearing assemblies 88 and 90 which are in turn supported within a generally C-shaped bracket 92 (
As illustrated in the figures, the cutter 32b and its drive shaft means comprising the upper shaft 80, the universal coupling 96 and the lower stub shaft within the bearing 42 are located adjacently outboard of a crop discharge opening 102 in the back wall 56 of the header 14. As shown in
As earlier mentioned, the group of intermediate cutters 32b-32i are drivingly interconnected and distribute power to one another through the train of spur gears 35 contained within the gear case 34 of the cutter bed 32. There is an unbroken chain of power distribution through the gear case 34 from the cutter 32b through and including the cutter 32i. On the other hand, like the cutter 32a, the cutter 32j is not driven by a spur gear directly beneath it. Instead, the hollow extension support 40 for the cutter 32j is empty like the support 40 for the cutter 32a.
The cutter 32j is driven in a similar manner to the cutter 32a through an over-the-top mechanism. Like the cutter 32a, the cutter 32j includes a universal coupling 104, a shaft 106 leading upwardly from the coupling 104, and a sleeve 108 encircling the shaft 106 at the point where shaft 106 is connected to the universal coupling 104. The sleeve 108 is supported within a top wall 110 which corresponds to the top wall 54 at the opposite end of the header. An impeller cage 112 encircles the universal coupling 104 and has an impeller plate 114. Instead of passing into a gearbox such as the gearbox 60 associated with cutter 32a, the upright shaft 106 of cutter 32j is supported by bearings and a C-shaped bracket 116 like the bearings 88, 90 and bracket 92 associated with the cutter 32b. Thus, the coupling 104 and the shaft 106 constitute driven shaft means for the cutter 32j.
The upper end of the shaft 106 is provided with a ribbed timing sheave 118 which is entrained by an endless timing belt 120. At its opposite end, the timing belt 120 is entrained around a second timing sheave 122 fixed to the upper end of a shaft 124 associated with the cutter 32i. The shaft 124 is supported by a C-shaped bracket 126 that is secured to a front wall corresponding to the front wall 62 on the left end of the header. Shaft 124 passes downwardly through a sleeve 128 supported by top wall 110. A universal coupling 130 joins with the shaft 124 within the sleeve 128 and connects at its bottom end with a short, upright stub shaft (not shown) beneath the carrier 36 of the cutter 32i, which is in turn secured to an aligned one of the spur gears 35 within the gear case 34. An impeller cage 132 surrounds the universal coupling 130 and is secured to the carrier 36 of cutter 32i. As can be seen, the sheave 118, the belt 120 and the sheave 122 effectively comprise mechanism denoted by the numeral 134 operably coupling the shaft 124 of the cutter 32i with the shaft 106 of the cutter 32j externally of the support 40 for driving the cutter 32j. An impeller plate 133 overlies and is secured to the carrier 36 of cutter 32i and is ninety degrees out of phase with the impeller plate 114 of the cutter 32j.
As illustrated in
On the other hand, it will be noted that the two outermost cutters 32a and 32j rotate in the same direction across the front of the cutter bed as their next inboard cutters 32b and 32i. Accordingly, crop materials severed by the outermost cutters 32a and 32j are moved inwardly along the front of the cutters 32a, 32b and 32j, 32i until reaching the next converging nip point of the cutters in front of the discharge opening 102.
It is to be noted that because the outermost cutters 32a and 32j rotate inwardly in the same direction as their next adjacent cutters 32b and 32i, the cutters of those particular pairs must be spaced somewhat further from one another than the cutters of the oppositely rotating pairs in order to avoid striking one another. This is observable in
The same type of change is made at the right end of the header in which the power transferring mechanism 148 supplies driving power from the cutter 32i to the cutter 32j. The operating components of the mechanism 148 are substantially identical to those of the mechanism 136, and thus will not be described.
The cutters 32b-32i are drivingly interconnected with one another through the gear case 34 by spur gears in the same manner as disclosed with respect to
At the opposite end of the machine, the hydraulic motor 168 is supported on its own C-shaped bracket 188 high above the top wall 110 of the header by a platform 190 and struts 192. An output shaft 194 from the hydraulic motor 168 carries a timing sheave 196 and passes on down through the bracket 188 for operable connection with the cutter 32i in the usual manner. A timing belt 198 is entrained around the timing sheave 196 and also a timing sheave 200 on the upper end of an upright shaft 202 associated with the cutter 32j. Shaft 202 passes downwardly through and is supported by a C-shaped bracket 204 attached on the front wall 62 of the header and connects with the cutter 32j as its lower end in the usual manner. Thus, it will be seen that the timing sheave 196, the timing belt 198 and the second timing sheave 200 comprise mechanism 206 for transferring driving power from the shaft 194 of cutter 32i to the shaft 202 of cutter 32j. The motor 168 thus drives both the cutter 32i and the cutter 32j.
Moreover, it will be seen that the two hydraulic motors 166, 168 cooperatively drive and share the load of all of the cutters 32a-32j associated with the cutter bed 30. Since the intermediate cutters 32b-32i are all interconnected via the gear train within the gear case 34, and the cutters 32a and 32j are connected to the input drive shafts 174 and 194 of the hydraulic motors 166, 168, all cutters of the cutter bed 30 simultaneously receive driving input power from the hydraulic motors 166 and 168. With the motors 166 and 168 connected in a parallel hydraulic fluid flow relationship, any additional loading experienced by one of the motors 166 or 168 is immediately shared by the other hydraulic motor, thus maintaining equal loads on the two motors. This also means, for example, that the spur gear associated with the cutter 32b does not need to bear all of the loading from the other spur gears in the gear case since approximately one half that loading is directed to the spur gear associated with the cutter 32i at the opposite end of the gear case 34. Consequently, bearings, gears and other components of the system will have significantly increased wear life.
A high pressure line 212 leads from the pump 210 to a tee connections 214, where one branch line 216 leads to the motor 166 and another branch line 218 leads to the motor 168. A return line 220 leads from the motor 166 back to another tee connection 222, while a return line 224 leads from the motor 168 to the tee connection 222. From the connection 222 a single low pressure line 226 leads to the backside of the pump 210. A case drain line 227 leads from the backside of the pump 210 to the tank 240 to remove any oversupply of oil to the pump 210 and to provide cooling for the pump. In the preferred embodiment, the compensating pump 210 is provided with a fixed displacement, vane-type charge pump (not shown) of well known construction to supply oil to the pump 210. Broadly speaking, the lines and connections 212-226 comprise an operating circuit for the motors 166 and 168.
The operating circuit 228 is illustrated in solid lines in
The poppet valve 232 is operable to serve as a restrictive orifice when in its open position. Thus, when poppet valve 232 is open and pressurized fluid is flowing through the line 212, there is a pressure drop as the fluid passes through the poppet valve 232. In other words, the pressure at a tee connection 254 on the upstream side of the poppet valve 232 is higher at such time than the pressure at a tee connection 256 on the downstream side of the poppet 232. This pressure differential, more specifically the magnitude thereof, is utilized to control an adjusting circuit 258, comprising a portion of the control circuit 230, for adjusting the volume output of the pump 210 whose swash plate may be denoted schematically for purpose of illustration by the arrow 260 associated with the pump 210.
The adjusting circuit portion 258 of the control circuit 230 includes a high pressure line 262 that joins with the high pressure line 212 at the tee connection 254 and leads to the left end of a pressure differential operated load compensating valve 264. On the other hand, the opposite, right end of the load compensating valve 264 viewing
When the load compensating valve 264 is rightwardly shifted out of its position in
The limiting valve 274 is normally held in its closed position of
When the engine 208 is first started and the pump 210 begins operation, the swash plate 260 becomes stroked to its maximum volume position since the stroking piston 282 is spring biased to its maximum stroke. Pressure begins to rise in the main operating line 212, but no oil can flow to the motors 166 and 168 at this time because the poppet valve 232 is closed. Consequently, inasmuch as there is essentially no oil pressure at the tee connection 214 at this time as long as the poppet valve 232 remains closed, the pressure differential seen by the loading valve 264 climbs to its operating level, at which time the loading valve 264 is caused to shift rightwardly from its
When the operator is ready to start cutting, he operates a switch (not shown) in the tractor cab to energize the electric valve 236. This shifts the valve 236 leftwardly from its position in
As pressurized oil passes through the poppet valve 232, the valve 232 functions as a restrictive orifice, causing a pressure drop on the downstream side of the valve 232. Thus, the pressure at tee connection 254 is normally higher than the pressure at tee connection 256. The control circuit 230 takes advantage of this differential to communicate the higher pressure at tee connection 254 to the left end of load control valve 264 via line 262, and the lower pressure at tee connection 256 to the right end of the load control valve 264 via line 266. When this differential exceeds the preset limit, the load control valve 264 shifts rightwardly, communicating the destroking piston 272 with high pressure fluid via lines 262, 270, 276 and 278. This destrokes the pump 210 to prevent the volume flow rate from exceeding a preset amount as determined by the adjustment of the control spring 268.
During cutting operations the harvester sometimes encounters heavy cutting conditions which put load on the operating circuit 228 and tend to lug down the engine 208. If this tendency to reduce the engine speed were not counteracted in some way, the pump 210 would slow down, the rate of flow of oil from the pump 210 would be reduced, and the cutting speed of the motors 166 and 168 would correspondingly decrease. Accordingly, the adjusting circuit 258 of the control circuit 230, in particularly the load compensating valve 264, is operable to responsively stroke the swash plate 260 when increased loading in the operating circuit 228 tends to lug down the engine 208, thus maintaining the cutting speed of the cutter bed 30 essentially constant at all times.
It will be seen in this respect that when the motors 166 and 168 become more difficult to rotate due to increased resistance at the cutter bed 30, such additional loading is immediately experienced in the high pressure operating line 212. This additional loading tends to make the engine 208 slow down so as to lower the volume flow rate from the pump 210. This volume decrease, however, results in a decrease in the pressure differential across the poppet valve 232 such that the compensating valve 264 stays in its leftmost position of
One suitable operating and control system, including the pump 210 with its destroking piston 272 and stroking piston 282, poppet valve 232, electric control valve 236, compensating valve 264 and limiting valve 274, is available from Vickers, Inc. of Omaha, Nebr. as system No. PVH98-MCD-V1OR-02306232, assembly No. 02-306232. The poppet valve 232 and the electric control valve 236 may be obtained separately from the other valves of the system, combined within a valve block or unitary body, from Modular Controls Division of Vickers, Inc., Carrol Stream, Ill., as Part No. MCD-4326.
It will also be noted that the front surface of the belt 294 is spaced rearwardly from the forwardmost extremity of the cutters 32. Thus, there is presented a certain accumulation space between the forward extremities of the cutters and the vertical face of the belt 294 within which the crop material can flow as it is severed and directed laterally inwardly.
The conveyor means 306 in
The cage 308 is constructed in an identical manner to the cages 46 and 100 and therefore will not be explained in detail. Unlike the cages 46 and 100, however, the cage 308 is suspended in place with an absence of drive structure or cutter structure beneath the bottom thereof and the top of the gear case 34. An upright drive shaft 310 extends upwardly through the center of the cage 308, through the top wall 54, and into a flat horizontal gear case 312. Within the gear case 312, a gear train is contained for transferring power between the shaft 80 of cutter 32b, the shaft 310 of the cage 308 and the shaft 50 of the cutter 32a. Such gear train includes a spur gear 314 on the shaft 80, a spur gear 316 on the shaft 310, a spur gear 318 on the shaft 50, an idler gear 320 rotatably supported in meshing engagement with the spur gear 314 and 316, and a second idler gear 322 in meshing engagement with the spur gears 316 and 318. It will be seen that the gear case 312 can be as long as necessary to accommodate the length of gear train that is appropriate for the number of cutters and conveyor cages utilized outboard of the discharge opening 102. Thus, although the present invention has been illustrated with only two outboard cutters 32a and 32b, it will be appreciated that a greater number of outboard cutters may be utilized. A similar gear train and case could be used as one form of overhead power transmitting mechanism in lieu of the mechanisms 83 and 134, 136 and 148, 150 and 158, and 186, 206.
The power for driving the cutter bed 30 in the embodiment of
Furthermore, although the embodiments of
Although preferred forms of the invention have been described above, it is to be recognized that such disclosure is by way of illustration only, and should not be utilized in a limiting sense in interpreting the scope of the present invention. Obvious modifications to the exemplary embodiments, as hereinabove set forth, could be readily made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the present invention.
The inventors hereby state their intent to rely on the Doctrine of Equivalvents to determine and assess the reasonably fair scope of their invention as pertains to any apparatus not materially departing from but outside the literal scope of the invention as set out in the following claims.
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|US8006469 *||Jul 23, 2008||Aug 30, 2011||Macdon Industries Ltd||Crop harvesting header with rotary disks and impellers for transferring the crop inwardly to a discharge opening|
|US8006472 *||Aug 30, 2011||Deere & Company||Cotton picker unit drive with controllable spindle speed to drum speed ratio and belt drive|
|US20060219070 *||Mar 24, 2006||Oct 5, 2006||Tdk Corporation||Cutting apparatus for ceramic green sheet and cutting method for same|
|US20090071116 *||Jul 23, 2008||Mar 19, 2009||Neil Gordon Barnett||Crop harvesting header with rotary disks and impellers for transferring the crop inwardly to a discharge opening|
|US20090249757 *||Apr 4, 2008||Oct 8, 2009||Diederich Jr Anthony F||Cutterbar pto cover and filler|
|U.S. Classification||56/6, 56/DIG.6, 56/192, 56/295, 56/13.9, 56/DIG.11|
|International Classification||A01D34/76, A01D34/66|
|Cooperative Classification||A01D34/76, Y10S56/11, A01D34/664, Y10S56/06|
|European Classification||A01D34/76, A01D34/66B|