CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application relates to copending application Ser. No. 788,380, filed Jan. 2, 1969, entitled Automatic Poultry Drinker.
BACKGROUND OF INVENTION
1. Field of Invention
The invention relates to poultry drinkers but particularly to drinker valve constructions for admitting and shutting off water and controlling water level.
2. Description of Prior Art
The closest prior art is deemed to be found in my prior U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,450,102 and 3,450,103. The prior patents teach a novel valve construction in which the valve, per se, is centrally and fixedly mounted in a pan and the valve actuator is supported by an annular float. Such a valve construction does not readily lend itself to use with overhead water supply lines that are becoming more widespread in the industry. The prior patents also teach use of heavy ball valves to control water level between a central storage float receptacle in the pan and a surrounding drinking trench.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
As in the referred to prior patents, the drinker of the invention incorporates a central float receptacle which stores water and receives an annular float member. An outer, annular drinking trench surrounds the float receptacle and the water level between the trench and receptacle is controlled by several one-way ball valves located in the trench wall and incorporating buoyant balls which float upwardly to shut off water flow from the receptacle to the trench when the respective levels are substantially equal. The annular float supports a central weight member and a control valve having a downwardly extending plunger that bears on a valve depressor cap which is centrally and adjustably mounted in the drinker base. The control valve connects to an overhead supply line. Water is admitted to the float receptacle and flows to the trench whenever water in the trench is below a predetermined level and is shut off on reaching such level.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of the composite drinker showing the same adapted for suspension from the chickenhouse roof or the like.
FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the composite drinker showing the slidable cover portion removed.
FIG. 3 is a section view of the composite drinker taken along lines 3--3 of FIG. 1 showing the various elements in a normal level position and with the valve closed.
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary section view of a portion of the housing and the one-way ball and valve housing for allowing passage of water from the float receptacle into the drinking trench.
FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the one-way ball valve housing of FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a rear elevation view of the one-way ball valve housing of FIG. 5.
FIG. 7 is a front elevation view of FIG. 5.
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary pictorial view with the ball valve about to be placed into position in the inner vertical wall of the drinking trench.
FIG. 9 is an enlarged fragmentary section view of the valve mechanism in the open position.
FIG. 10 is an enlarged fragmentary section view of the valve mechanism in the closed position.
FIG. 11 is a pictorial view of the valve depressor cap.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
As previously mentioned, the present invention is directed to improvements over the drinker of the copending application and the referred to prior patents in respect to a one-way valve which controls flow to the drinking trench, to the main valve and float control mechanism, and to a sliding cover which facilitates adjustment of the main valve and float control mechanism. The description will be first directed to a summary of the components and operation of the drinker as previously disclosed in the copending application and issued patents and will then proceed to a description of the improvements provided by the present invention.
The drinker, generally designated 10, provides a narrow, annular drinking trench 11, a cylindrical, float receptacle 12, a water inlet 13, a valve 14 and valve chamber 15. The trench 11 and receptacle 12 are formed by a vertical wall 16, a sloping wall 17, a connecting wall 18, an inner vertical wall 20 and a bottom wall 21. In operation, water flows through valve 14 into the float receptacle 12 and then into the drinking trench 11 through a set of one-way valves which are located in a set of passageways, generally designated 23, and one of which is shown enlarged in FIG. 8. The description now refers to the improvements.
The drinker further incorporates an annular float 30 which is made of lightweight polystyrene foam or the like and is buoyed in float receptacle 12. A weight member 26 counteracts the buoyant effect of float 30 and is axially aligned with and fixedly resides partially within an opening 31 formed in float 30. Weight member 26 is molded from a relatively heavy polyester plastic and has inner cylindrical sidewall portion 27 which tapers upward as best seen in FIG. 3. Tapered walls 27a converge into a flat upper wall 28 which threadably receives extension 29 of valve 14. Weight member 26 loads the downwardly extending valve plunger 38 and during sudden tilting of the drinker causes a positive and rapid valve response.
The composite valve structure 14 includes valve chamber 15, spring 37, a filter 37a, plunger 38, rubber sealing washer 38a and chamber cap 39. Valve chamber 15 is cylinderlike in shape having a threaded inner surface which receives externally threaded cap 39 and is connected to receive pressurized water from an overhead supply through inlet 13. Inlet 13 is formed from a hollow extension member 29 which is externally threaded and is screwably received by threaded hole 29a placed centrally of weight member 26. Extension 29 is screwed snugly into hole 29a of weight 26. An exposed end of extension 29 has barbs 29b which slidably receive an overhead water supply line 85.
Wall 51 of chamber cap 39 has a circular opening 50 which receives valve plunger shaft 56 and is further provided with a depression 52 adapted to mate with the interior surface of a valve depressor cap 44, later described. Plunger 38 includes a body portion 55 and integral plunger shaft 56, the latter having a diameter slightly smaller than the diameter of opening 50 of chamber cap 39. Shaft 56 is adapted to receive a washerlike seat 38a which aids in the shutting off of the water through opening 50 when plunger 38 is in a closed position.
A central vertical stub mount 33, formed by extension of inner vertical wall 20, threadably receives the previously mentioned valve depressor cap 44. Mount 33 has a centrally located, threaded hole 36a. Valve depressor cap 44 provides a generally frustoconical-shaped cavity 42 which is formed on a raised, flat surface 43 and above a threaded shaft 44a which is received by hole 36a. Surface 43 is in turn engaged by the lower end of plunger shaft 56.
It is to be noted that the portion of plunger shaft 56 which slidably resides in opening 50 is made slightly longer, about three sixty-fourths inch being preferred, than the length of opening 50 so that upon the downward movement of plunger shaft 56, raised surface 43 of valve depressor cap 44 engages plunger shaft 56 and pushes plunger 38 upwardly against spring 37 so as to provide an outlet for the water residing in valve chamber 15. Thus, a substantial tilting of the drinker such as might be caused by a chicken resting on the drinker causes plunger shaft 56 to slip out of contact with raised surface 43. Plunger 38 and seat 38a under the influence of spring 37 then seals opening 50 and shuts off further flow of water from valve 14 into float receptacle 12. In such movement any adverse tendency of surface tension or minor dirt particles on the contacting surfaces is counteracted by weight member 26 providing the valve-loading weight. It will also be noted that during both level and tilt conditions it is desirable to have responsive, one-way valves that allow flow only from receptacle 12 to trench 11 so as to avoid contamination of receptacle 12 by water from trench 11.
To review the basic operation, it may be noted that water enters inlet 13 from a pressurized overhead supply source and flows through valve chamber 15, through opening 50 in valve cap 39 and dribbles downward onto valve depressor cap 44 and then into float receptacle 12. During normal operation, water is maintained at substantially equal levels in float receptacle 12 and drinking trench 11 by means of previously mentioned one-way valves, later described, located in passageways 23. Whenever the level of water in receptacle 12 is sufficient to buoy float 30, float 30 rises and lifts valve structure 14 out of contact with valve depressor cap 44 whereupon spring 37 forces plunger 56 downwardly to bring valve seal 58 in contact with the interior wall of valve cap 39 so as to stop the flow of water through opening 50. As the water is consumed by the fowl from drinking trench 11, float 30 is lowered and valve depressor cap 44 is contacted by plunger 56. When this happens, plunger 56 is forced upwardly against spring 37 whereby water is once again allowed to enter drinking trench 11 in the manner just described.
As best explained in the copending application and issued patents, the drinker is designed to handle chickens both in a day old size through any desired number of weeks growth. Thus in use the drinker is first leveled on the floor of the chickenhouse and as the chickens grow it then becomes necessary to raise the height of the drinking trench 11 and this is accomplished by suspending the drinker 10. In today's large-scale poultry houses, the trend has become that of allowing the water supply lines to be run overhead and unlike the drinkers of the prior patents and prior pending application the present invention adapts especially to overhead lines. When suspended, the drinker can be tilted and anytime a chicken perches on the drinker the level of water in one side of the drinking trench 11 becomes greater than the level diametrically opposite. Also, as weight 26 shifts, plunger 56 of valve 14 is brought out of contact with valve depressor cap 44. Since shaft 56 is slightly longer than the cylindrical length of opening 50, tilting of the drinker causes plunger 38 to assume its normal closed position and valve seat 38a to reside against the inner wall surface of valve cap 39. Therefore, any substantial tilting of the drinker will close opening 50 and cause the supply of water to float receptacle 12 to be shut off. Thus, whether the drinker is suspended or supported, it will if tilted as by a chicken if suspended, or by being placed on an uneven surface, if supported, will automatically shut itself off.
In order to maintain both the normal level and the abnormal tilt sensitivity of the described operation it is desirable that the drinker cover provide ready access to the interior of the drinker for inspection and routine maintenance of the described control valve, float and weight mechanism. However, such cover should retain the advantages of the conical-shaped cover of the copending application and patents insofar as it deters roosting of chickens. One feature of the present invention is directed to such cover and this will be next described.
As to the cover construction it will be noted that conical-shaped cover 60, comprised of rigid cover 61 and slidable cover 62, is adapted to be attached to mating recessed wall 19 so as to shield the water in float receptacle 12, the float 30, and other interior apparatus from being contaminated by the chickens. Furthermore, such conical shape effectively deters roosting of the chickens on the cover itself. Rigid cover 61 rests on bearing surface 19a and is secured to wall 19 by means of upright extensions 18a formed on connecting wall 18. Holes 63 are formed in cover 61 and wing screws 64 pass through holes 63 and screw into the extensions 18a for holding cover 61 in place. Cover 61 is provided with a recess the edges of which are indicated at 61a and which extends around cover 61 and is adapted to receive the slidable cover 62 in a sliding relation and when placed thereon presents a smooth, conical, outer surface which maintains the deterrent to chickens roosting on the cover. Cover 61 has an opening 65 which mates with an opening 66 within cover 62 such that when cover 62 is positioned so as to bring these two openings 65, 66 in mating relation access is gained to the interior of the drinker. Furthermore, when cover 62 is slid around so that opening 66 no longer mates with opening 65, the interior is closed and protected from outside contamination. Thus it will be seen that access can be gained to the valve, float etc. simply by sliding cover 62. At the same time the advantages of the conical shape are preserved.
A suspension rod 67 is rigidly secured to cover 61. Rod 67 passes through metal washer 68 and then through cover 61. A pair of nuts 69a and 69b are tightened down on washer 68 and against cover 61 respectively. Suspension rod 67 is effectively locked in place. Washer 68 has a hole 68a therein which vertically aligns with hole 61b in the flattop portion of cover 61. Overhead supply line 85, which is placed over barbs 29b which hold supply line 85 in place, has a ring 85a through which line 85 is looped as at 86 and then passes from within drinker 10 through hole 61a and hole 68a and from there to an available water supply. Loop 86 allows weight 26 and float 30 to rise and fall with the water level in trench 12. It can be seen that the drinker of this application is extremely useful in the modern poultry houses which utilize overhead waterlines.
Valve depressor cap 44 is adjustable within central vertical stub mount 33. Once cap 44 is adjusted to its desired height by rotating shaft 44a by means of knurled end 44b, wingnut 44c is tightened and thereby locks cap 44 in a fixed position. Cap 44 is adjusted from the bottom of drinker 10 which adjustment can be made externally of the drinker housing when the drinker is suspended from above.
Mention has already been made of the presence of one-way valves in the passageways 23 and basic function is to allow water to flow from receptacle 12 to trench 11 but not in the reverse direction and under both normal level and tilt conditions. Thus such one-way valves must be sensitive and must respond rapidly and positively to a difference in level between the water in receptacle 12 and that in trench 11. This feature of the present invention is best seen in FIGS. 3 through 8 showing the one-way ball valves generally designated 70 and consisting of a molded plastic housing 70' and a buoyant plastic ball 75. Housing 70' has a pair of flat extensions 71 which are adapted to be slidably received in the channels 71a formed in portions of connecting wall 18 at the passageways 23. A ball housing 73 protrudes from the extensions 71 and contains a tapered ball passage 74. When the valve 70 is placed in position as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, it will be noted that a hole 25 formed in a web portion 18b of wall 18 aligns with a relatively large opening at one end of ball passage 74 and through which ball 75 is removable. At the opposite end of passage 74 there is another relatively small opening. Ball 75 normally seats as best seen in FIG. 4 adjacent the large opening. As shown in FIG. 4, the slope of passage 74 is preferably 10° . Such a slope when used with a polypropylene ball of 0.2344 inches in size provides sufficiently strong seating to insure an outward flow of water only when the float receptacle water level is substantially above the trench level and a positive shut off when the two levels approach being the same and as ball 75 floats upward adjacent the smaller hole. Such action insures a minimum contamination of the float receptacle water with the trench water. Of particular importance is the ease of removing the entire valve 70, and of being able to clean ball 75 and passage 74. In this regard it will be noted that simply by loosening screws 64 and removing cover 61, each of the valves 70 may be slipped out of their respective channels and each ball 75 and passage 74 becomes immediately available for inspection and cleaning. In the pending application and issued patents, some difficulty was encountered by ball 75 sometimes resting in sediment, collected algae etc. encountered due to poor sanitation practices and often times the ball 75 would stick in the seat. This has been overcome.
With the described sliding cover and one-way valves it can thus be seen that all of the basic features of the drinker of the copending application and patents have been preserved while providing a substantial improvement in the operation, inspection and routine maintenance of the drinker. The drinker of the present invention is particularly adapted to overhead water supply lines and because of this has special advantage in the most up-to-date poultry houses. The improved one-way trench valves also provide sensitivity over the range of water levels and ease of maintenance. The valve ball is maintained above the base of the trench even in its lowest position. The sediment which might collect in the base of the trench does not come into contact with the valve ball and therefore is unlikely to cause sticking of the ball in the valve seat. Also, with the improved "floating" central valve, the desired height of water level in the trench can be adjusted without removal or opening of the cover. Simply by lifting the drinker from the ground, should the drinker be resting on the ground, or by reaching underneath the drinker, if it is suspended, the valve depressor cap can be externally adjusted to achieve a given level.