Title:
RECIPROCATING CABLE ALIGNMENT ACTUATOR
United States Patent 3831623


Abstract:
An irrigation system is aligned by a reciprocating alignment cable extending the length of the system. With systems having reciprocal fluid motor drive, the valve for each motor is actuated solely by the alignment cable. A lost motion device attaches the cable to each of the valves so the first movement of the cable moves the valve (if the vehicle is to move because of its position); additional movement of the cable is lost. The cable is guided to the pipe between vehicles to compensate for rough terrain. The cable is counter weighted for compensation on graded terrain.



Inventors:
BOONE R
Application Number:
05/330716
Publication Date:
08/27/1974
Filing Date:
02/08/1973
Assignee:
BOONE R,US
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
239/731
International Classes:
A01G25/09; (IPC1-7): B05B15/06
Field of Search:
137/344 239
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:



Primary Examiner:
Klinksiek, Henry T.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Coffee, Wendell
Claims:
I claim as my invention

1. In an agricultural irrigation system having

2. The invention as defined in claim 1 with an additional limitation of

3. The invention as defined in claim 1 wherein said connection from said alignment cable to said valve means is

4. The invention as defined in claim 3 with an additional limitation of

5. In an agricultural irrigation system having

6. In an agricultural irrigation system

7. The invention as defined in claim 6 with additional limitations of

8. The invention as defined in claim 6 wherein

9. The invention as defined in claim 8 with an additional limitation of

10. The invention as defined in claim 6 wherein

11. In an agricultural irrigation system having

12. The invention as defined in claim 11 wherein said system includes:

13. The invention as defined in claim 11 wherein said system includes

14. The invention as defined in claim 13 with additional steps of

15. The invention as defined in claim 14 with additional steps of

16. In an agricultural irrigation system

17. In an agricultural irrigation system having

18. The invention as defined in claim 17 with additional limitations of

19. In an agricultural irrigation system having

20. The invention as defined in claim 19 with additional limitations of

21. In an agricultural irrigation system

22. The invention as defined in claim 21 wherein

23. The invention as defined in claim 21 wherein

24. The invention as defined in claim 23 wherein said connection from said alignment cable to said valve means is

25. The invention as defined in claim 24 with additional limitations of

Description:
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to agricultural irrigation and more particularly to devices for aligning elongated irrigation pipes.

2. Description of the Prior Art

A common type of mobile irrigation equipment in use today operates with reciprocal fluid motors, using as a power supply the irrigation water itself. For example, ZYBACH, U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,941,727 and 2,604,359. Others have used a separate fluid supply other than the irrigation water, e.g., OLSON U.S. Pat. No. 3,386,661. It appears that since about 1713, the valves which direct fluid to the piston cylinder arrangement of the motors are regulated by the position of the piston within the cylinder. I.e., the valves are open to permit fluid to enter the cylinder when the piston is near top dead center and then the exhaust valve remains open to allow the piston to return to bottom dead center. The valves are actuated from the piston or from mechanisms connected thereto; thus, they are responsive to the position of the piston in the cylinder.

By a previous patent, I have shown vehicle alignment by a taut line or a chalk line extending the length of the system, U.S. Pat. No. 3,302,656. DOWD, U.S. Pat. No. 3,373,939, shows "wind vanes" used with a taut line to compensate for the wind blowing the taut line.

The U.S. Pat. to myself and R. J. Purtell, No. 3,500,856, teaches that the taut line itself reciprocates, and the reciprocation used as a direct power means to drive the vehicles. The position of the taut line toward and away from the vehicle is used for alignment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

1. New and Different Function

I have discovered a new way of aligning irrigation systems. When reciprocal fluid motors are used as the propulsion means for the vehicle, rather than having a throttle valve which throttles the water entering the piston cylinder, I actuate the valve mechanism responsive to a reciprocating alignment cable. The reciprocation of the alignment cable opens the valves to intermittently admit fluid into the cylinder. Whether the reciprocating cable operates the valve is dependent upon the spacing of the alignment cable to the vehicle. If the vehicle is to move, the valve is operated by the reciprocating cable and not by the position of the piston within the cylinder.

On other types of drive, other means are actuated by the reciprocating cable.

This operation of the system creates certain secondary problems which must be solved. A major problem is the stretch of the cable. For example, these systems are over 1,000 feet in length and, therefore, as the cable is reciprocated for 18 inches on the operating end, the other end of the cable reciprocates only 6 inches. The remainder of the movement is absorbed by the stretch of the cable itself.

The registration of the cable to the vehicle is also a problem. At one time, there may be one portion of the cable registered with the valve levers, whereas, at a subsequent time, another portion of the cable is aligned with the valve levers. One cause of misregistration is the vertical bends in the pipe. The farm land may not be a level plane surface, but might have hills and dales. As the system goes over hills and across dales, the pipe will bend. However, the alignment cable will extend as a straight line. This results in a difference between the alignment cable and vehicles, again, causing a change in the registration between the cable and vehicles.

The prime solution of the misregistration and stretch problem is a lost-motion device between the cable and the valve. By this means, the first movement of the cable moves an arm a set amount of travel and, thereafter, a clamp between the arm and the cable is released so the cable slides free for the remainder of its travel. This compensates both for a loss of registration and a different length of travel.

It is desirable that the vehicles move forward going up hill and lag coming down hill. A counter weight on the cable does this.

2. Objects of this Invention

An object of this invention is to irrigate agricultural lands.

Another object is to provide an alignment system for an irrigation pipe which irrigates agricultural lands.

Further objects are to achieve the above with a device that is sturdy, compact, durable, lightweight, simple, safe, efficient, versatile, and reliable yet inexpensive and easy to manufacture, install, adjust, operate, and maintain.

The specific nature of the invention, as well as other objects, uses, and advantages thereof will clearly appear from the following description and from the accompanying drawing, the different views of which are not to the same scale.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a top plan view schematically representing an irrigation system with my invention attached.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of one vehicle of the system taken substantially on line 202 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front sectional view of a lost motion valve operator taken substantially on line 3--3 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a bottom sectional view of a portion of the valve operator taken on line 4--4 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a schematic representation of the cable reciprocator as would be used to cause the cable to reciprocate.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 3 showing a second valve actuator and lost motion mechanism.

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of a portion of the mechanism shown in FIG. 6 taken on line 7--7 of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view schematically representing the irrigation system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the cable guide.

FIG. 10 is a sectional view of the guide taken substantially on line 10--10 of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a side elevational view of the cable guide taken substantially on line 11--11 of FIGS. 8 and 9.

FIG. 12 is a bottom sectional view of an alternate construction, similar to FIG. 4.

FIG. 13 is a sectional view similar to FIGS. 3 and 6 showing a hill compensator.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring more particularly to FIG. 1, there may be seen a schematic representation of pump 10 which is a source of supply of water under pressure to elongated pipe 12. The elongated pipe 12 is supported by a plurality of vehicles 14. A plurality of sprinklers 16 are on the elongated pipe 12 to dispense the water from the pipe 12 upon the land to be irrigated. The vehicles 14 as illustrated have ground engaging wheels 18 which are driven forward by rachet mechanism 20 from fluid motor 22 (FIG. 2). The fluid motor is a reciprocal fluid motor specifically having a cylinder 22 and a piston with piston rod 24. The fluid motor is supplied with fluid under pressure from the irrigation water pipe 12, although it would be understood that this could be a separate source as indicated by OLSEN identified above. A pulsing valve mechanism 26 intermittently or pulsingly directs fluid under pressure to one end or the other of the fluid motor 22 to cause its operation.

The mechanism described to this point is old, well known and commercially on the market.

My invention deals primarily with the alignment of the several vehicles 14 and the operation of the valve mechanism 26. The equipment presently on the market and generally known to the art at this stage controls the speed or position of the vehicles 14 by use of throttle valves which admit more or less fluid to the fluid motors and their intermittent or pulsing valves.

I choose to regulate the speed or position of the vehicles 14 operation or nonoperation of the valve mechanisms 26.

An elongated element 30 extends from one end of the system to the other. The elongated element is stretched taut and, therefore, it forms the chalk line or the reference to which the vehicles 14 are aligned. Referring particularly to FIG. 5, there may be seen on the far end of the system a spring 32 attached to the end of the pipe 12 which is shown schematically in FIG. 5. The spring 32 connects to cable 34. At each vehicle, there is a section of sprocket chain 36. The end of the cable 34 at the control end is attached to bar 38 which is mounted for rectilinear reciprocation in a direction aligned with the cable which will also be parallel to the pipe 12. The guides for the bar 38 are designated as a portion of the pipe 12. Details of construction have not been shown inasmuch as those mechanics and farmers having ordinary skill will understand how to mount the bar for rectilinear reciprocation.

The bar 38 has cam follower 40 attached thereto. The cam follower is held against rotating disc cam 42 by the spring 32. The cam 42 is rotated by a constant speed motor such as an electric motor or a fluid motor and the cam is mounted to rotate around its shaft or axle 44. The cam follower 40 has two basic positions: one is the extended position which has been shown. As the cam rotates, it will remain in this position five-twelfths of the time required for a full revolution. Then as the pulling surface 46 of the cam 42 reaches the cam follower 40, the can follower will move to a tensioned or a retracted position shown in dotted line in the drawings. The movement from the extended to the retracted position requires one-twelfth a total revolution of the cam 42. Once it has been pushed to the retracted position, it is held in that position for another five-twelfths of the total revolution of the cam; thereafter, it reaches the relaxing surface 48 of the cam 42. Then, it will be permitted to move to the extended position. If the motor drives the shaft 44 at 5 revolutions per minute, the cam 42 will take 12 seconds to make a full revolution. Cam follower 40 stays at the extended position for 5 seconds, then, in 1 second's time, it will move to the retracted position and remain there for 5 seconds and then will be relaxed in 1 second to again be at the extended position. Inasmuch as the elongated element 30 is attached to the bar 38, the elongated element will have this same motion and the same length of movement as the cam follower 40, except for stretch as discussed above. I.e., although the cam follower 40 might have a movement or travel of 18 inches from the extended position to the retracted position, the elongated element 30 at the spring 32 might have a movement of only 6 inches. Skilled workers can make other mechanism for reciprocating the element 30. Also advantages will result from placing the reciprocator in the center and having springs at each end.

FIG. 3 shows mechanism by which the rectilinear reciprocation or translational movement of the elongated element 30 is transmitted to the valve stem 50 which is a portion of the valve mechanism 26. FIG. 5 does not show the entire valve mechanism because those skilled in the art will recognize that if the valve stem 50 is moved first one way by translational movement and remains in this position for a certain period of time and is reversed to move in the opposie direction, the reciprocal fluid motor 22 is operated therefrom. The length of movement of the elongated element 30 with the chain 36 at each vehicle will be different, depending upon the distance of the vehicle from the cam 42. Furthermore, a different portion of the chain 36 will be adjacent to the valve stem 50 as explained above.

Three mechanisms have been shown to perform the function of translating the motion of the elongated element 30 to the valve stem 50. Other people will be able to devise other mechanisms.

The vehicle 14 is designated on the right side of FIG. 3. This numeral 14 designates any part of the frame, and will be considered to be the stationary object; although, in fact, it is moving.

The valve stem 50 is mounted for axial rectilinear reciprocation an also rotation about its axis within the valve mechanism 26 secured to the vehicle 14. Lever 52 is pivoted by pin 54 to the valve stem 50.

The lever 52 extends through alignment plate 58 (FIG. 4). The alignment plate 58 has an opening with two portions: one, a wide portion 60 and the other, narrow portion 62. If the alignment of the vehicle 14 is such that the bottom of the lever 52 is within the wide portion 60, oscillation of the lever 52 will not transmit motion to the valve stem 50.

Referring to Fig. 2, if the vehicle is forward of correct alignment, the chalk line 30 will cause the lever 52 to rotate in the direction of the arrow "F," i.e., the vehicle 14 will be in a forward position with respect to the chalk line. In such position, the lever 52 will be in the wide portion 60 and there will be no motion transmitted to the valve stem 50. If the vehicle 14 is lagging, the taut line 30 will pull the lever 52 in the direction of the arrow "R," rotating the valve stem 50 about its axis. This rotation will place the bottom of the lever 52 into the narrow space 62 so then the alignment plate 58 acts as a fulcrum for the lever. In this position, oscillation of the lever 52 will cause rectilinear reciprocation of the valve stem 50. Reciprocation of the valve stem 50 will cause fluid to intermittently flow to one side or the other of the reciprocal fluid motor 22, which will cause forward movement of the vehicle 14 as is well known by those skilled in the art.

Referring to FIG. 4, the alignment plate is shown to have four bolt holes 64 by which it is attached to the frame of the vehicle 14. Analysis will show that if these are clamped in slotted position to the frame 14, the vehicle can be made to lag behind the line slightly or precede the line slightly. I.e., the position of the alignment plate 58 can be adjusted so as to adjust the position the lever 52 enters the narrow slot 62. This makes a fine adjustment as to the position of the vehicle 14. The alignment plate 58 may be reversed so when the vehicle 14 is made to move in the reverse direction alignment is maintained.

Thus, if the lever 52 is oscillated the correct amount, the valve stem 50 will reciprocate the correct amount. If the cables 34 did not stretch and change the register of the elongated element 30, there could be a direct connection made between the element 30 and the lever 52; however, such is not the case.

A lost motion device is used so a predetermined oscillation of lever 52 is obtained, provided the movement of the elongated element 30 is sufficient. Additional movement of the elongated element 30 will be "lost" and the elongated element will slide by the mechanism. The sprocket chain 36 is in the elongated element 30 at each of the vehicles 14 (FIG. 3). The sprocket chain 36 must be long enough so a portion of the sprocket chain is within the lever 52 at all times.

The sprocket chain 36 rides upon sprocket 66 which is journaled by pin 68 to the upper portion of the lever 52. In the position as shown in the drawing, the sprocket is locked into position by right dog 70 so the sprocket cannot rotate in a clockwise direction and by left dog 72 so the sprocket 66 cannot rotate in a counterclockwise direction. The dogs are pivoted to the lever 52 by pins 74 and biased toward the sprocket 66 by spring 76 as illustrated. If the chain 36 is moving to the left as illustrated by arrow "L," the lever 52 will be moved to the left and continue in this motion until the bottom of the left dog 72 below the pin 54 strikes left stop 78. As soon as the bottom of the dog 72 strikes left stop 78, the dog pivots around its pin 74, releasing itself from the sprocket 66. At this time the continued motion of the elongated element 30 is lost as it slides on by the lever 52, merely causing the right dog 70 to click along. When the direction of the elongated element 30 is reversed so it moves in the opposite direction from arrow "L," the movement of the elongated element will carry the lever 52 to the right because the dog 70 is engaged. Lever 52 will continue to move to the right until the bottom of the right dog 70 hits right stop 80 at which time the dog 70 will be disengaged from the sprocket 66 and additional motion will be lost.

Therefore, I have provided a mechanism which captures the first necessary movement of the elongated element 30 and loses the remainder. The stops 78 and 80 are conveniently placed on a rod extending from the vehicle 14 frame. Any mechanic understands how to place the stops so the bottom of a dog would strike them. They are adjusted so the valve attached to stem 50 will have the proper travel.

FIG. 6 shows another embodiment of the lost motion mechanism. The lever 152 is pivoted by pin 54 to valve stem 50 which is mounted above the alignment plate 58 with holes 60 and 62 as in the previous embodiment. However, in this case, a smooth rod 136 is attached to the cable 34 by clamps 84 (FIG. 7). Clapper 86 is pivoted by pin 88 at the top of the lever 152 as illustrated. The smooth rod 136 runs through hole 90 in the clapper 86. Adjustable stops 92 and 94 are attached to bracket 96 on the lever 152. Analysis will show that when the lever 152 moves to the left so the clapper 86 resting on the stop 92 is vertical, the remaining motion of the elongated element 30 will be lost. When the motion of the elongated element 30 is reversed, the first movement of the elongated element will be transmitted to oscillating the lever 152. After the lever 152 has been moved to a point where the clapper 86, resting on the adjustable stops 92, is again vertical, additional movement will be lost.

Thus it may be seen that I have provided means for transmitting a predetermined amount of motion from the elongated element 30 to the valve stem 50 even though the registration between the elongated element 30 and the vehicle 14 is not the same. Also, I am operating the valve mechanism 26 responsive solely to the vehicle alignment and to the time period to which the cam 42 is set. I.e., the relative position of the piston rod 24 with respect to the cylinder 22 does not control the position of the valve, but the valve is positioned solely according to the time at which the cam 42 is rotated and to the spacial relation of the vehicle 14 to the elongated element 30.

FIG. 8 shows how extreme misregistration might occur. The pump 10 provides water under pressure to the pipe 12 which will have the sprinklers thereon, but which have not been shown in FIG. 8. The various vehicles 14 are shown and the terrain is shown as being extremely rough with hills 100 and dales 102. The pipe 12 will bend between vehicles; therefore, if the elongated element 30 extends straight from one vehicle to another, the elongated element 30 will take a shorter path and greater misregistration will occur toward the outer end of the pipe 12.

Roller guide units 104 are clamped to the pipe 12 by convenient clamp 106 as would be within ordinary skill. U-shaped frame 108 is attached to the clamp. Two rollers 110 are journaled by horizontal axles 112 which extend from one side of the "U" to the other. The U-shaped frame 108 is made so there is protection at each end of the rollers 110 so the cable 34 cannot be locked to one side or the other, but is always free to move. The cable 34 is free to reciprocate or to move in axial directions as produced by the mechanism of FIG. 5. It is free to move to one side or the other which would be closer to the pipe 12 or further away from it according to the alignment of the vehicle 14. The cable 34 is forced to follow approximately the same vertical configuration as the pipe 12.

I have found it desirable to also provide a hill compensator for the vehicles 14 when climbing hills 100 or coming down into dales 102. Referring to FIG. 13, there may be seen a counter weight 216 attached to the valve stem 250. The analysis of operation would perhaps be simpler if one visualized the weight as being attached to the bottom of the lever 252 below where it is pivoted to the valve stem 250. If the counter balance weight is greater than the weight of the cable 34, when the vehicle 14 is going up a hill, it will cause the cable (elongated element) to move forward from what its straight alignment would be. I.e., the counter balance weight 216 will urge the cable 34 to move forward of the vehicle 14. The vehicle, therefore, by the mechanism previously described will sense that it is falling behind or lagging and will initiate operations to move forward. When the system has a vehicle going up a hill, the vehicle going up the hill will tend to precede slightly the adjacent vehicles, which I have found is desirable. Likewise, when the system is coming down a hill, the operation will be reversed and the vehicle will lag behind the normal line of the other vehicles as is desirable.

However, if the counter balance weight 216 were attached directly to the bottom of the lever 252 itself, it would reciprocate with the bottom of the lever inasmuch as the lever is pivoted to the valve stem 250. Therefore, I find it desirable to attach the counter balance weight 216 to the valve stem 250 itself so it does not reciprocate with each movement of the reciprocating cable 34. This connects the counter weight 216 to the lever 252 indirectly. However, inasmuch as the valve stem 250 rotates about its axis as the cable 34 moves toward or away from the vehicle 14 in alignment, its effect in this regard will be exactly the same as though it were directly connected to the bottom of the lever 252.

The elongated element 34 is clamped frictionally directly to lever 252. The lever is attached by a pivot bolt 254 to a rotatable reciprocating stem 250 as before. However, in this case, a simple clamp is provided. I.e., slot 266 is formed within the lever 252 and bolt 268 is used to draw the two parts of the lever 252 together, thus the elongated element 34 is frictionally held within the lever 252. This is the third and simplest lost-motion device which would compensate for different movements of the lever 252.

Fig. 12 shows another embodiment of alignment plate 258.

If the stem 250 were attached to an electrical toggle switch, or some other mechanical device, with the alignment plate 258, there would be no reciprocation transmitted from the reciprocating cable 34 to the stem 250, but, instead, the stem 250 would be thrown into one position when the vehicle lagged its position and the stem 250 would be thrown in the opposite position when the vehicle was forward of its position. If the vehicle was exactly in line as shown in FIG. 12, it would not move either way.

The alignment plate 258 is best described by the drawing in FIG. 12, but it might be described as having a lagging fulcrum edge 260, which is open to the left, and forward fulcrum edge 262 which open to the right. The edges are separated by a transition area. Thus, if the lever 252 is wagging (arrow W) in the transition area shown, it will not throw stem 250. But, if rotation of stem 250 causes the lever 252 to strike the edge 260, the wagging lever will throw the stem 252 to the left as seen in FIG. 12. If the cable 35 rotates stem 250 in the opposite direction, the lever 252 will throw the stem 250 right when edge 262 is first struck.

The stem 250 translation will be positive. Thus, if stem 250 is connected to an electrical switch, the switch will not flicker, but will be on or off. If the stem 250 is connected to a valve, the valve will be open or closed and not "wire drawing." Also, the power to translate the stem 250 is from the reciprocation of the elongated element 34 and not from the alignment movement of elongated element 34.

The embodiments shown and described above are only exemplary. I do not claim to have invented all the parts, elements or steps described. Various modifications can be made in the construction, material, arrangement, and operation, and still be within the scope of my invention. The limits of the invention and the bounds of the patent protection are measured by and defined in the following claims. The restrictive description and drawing of the specific examples above do not point out what an infringement of this patent would be, but are to enable the reader to make and use the invention.