Title:
Self-propelled post driving apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-propelled post driving apparatus includes a frame; a post driving mechanism including a post stabilizer and a post ram; a stabilizer and ram control assembly; a driving assembly including a first driving wheel; a second driving wheel; a first wheel driving assembly for driving the first driving wheel; a second wheel driving assembly for driving the second driving wheel; a power assembly including at least one machine for supplying power to at least one of the post driving mechanism, the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel; and a driving control assembly for selectively applying power to at least one of the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly for at least one of individual and simultaneous operation of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel for selective directional movement of the post driving apparatus for selectively positioning the apparatus at a post driving location.



Inventors:
Tanner, William (Reva, VA, US)
Application Number:
12/287930
Publication Date:
04/15/2010
Filing Date:
10/15/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E21B7/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LOW, LINDSAY M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mark Taylor (907 W Haven Blvd., Morehead City, NC, 28557, US)
Claims:
1. A self-propelled post driving apparatus comprising: a frame; a post driving mechanism mounted to the frame including: a post stabilizer; and a post ram, a stabilizer and ram control assembly for controlling operational movement of the post stabilizer and the post ram; a driving assembly including: a first driving wheel mounted to the frame at a first position; a second driving wheel mounted to the frame at a second position oppositely from the first driving wheel; a first wheel driving assembly for driving the first driving wheel; a second wheel driving assembly for driving the second driving wheel; a power assembly including at least one machine for supplying power to at least one of the post driving mechanism, the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel; and a driving control assembly for selectively applying propulsion power to at least one of the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly for at least one of individual and simultaneous operation of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel for selective directional movement of the post driving apparatus for selectively positioning the post driving mechanism at a post driving location.

2. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the power assembly includes a liquid-fuel engine.

3. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 2 wherein the power assembly includes a working fluid compressor and fluid distribution system operatively associated therewith, the compressor being operatively associated with the liquid-fuel engine.

4. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 3 wherein the first driving assembly includes a first fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the first driving wheel and the second driving assembly includes a second fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the second driving wheel for applying propulsion power to at least one of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel, and wherein the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly are each operatively associated with the compressor using the fluid distribution system for applying propulsion power to the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly.

5. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising an assembly for selectively engaging said first driving wheel and sand second driving wheel from said power assembly, thereby allowing selective free rotation of said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel.

6. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the first fluid-driven motor and the second fluid-driven motor are each formed as a hydraulic motor and the working fluid compressor is a hydraulic compressor.

7. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the first driving assembly includes a first motor operatively associated with the first driving wheel for propulsion thereof and the second driving assembly includes a second motor operatively associated with the second driving wheel for propulsion thereof.

8. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the first driving assembly includes a first fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the first driving wheel and the second driving assembly includes a second fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the second driving wheel for applying driving power to at least one of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel.

9. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 8 wherein the power assembly includes a liquid-fuel engine, a working fluid compressor and fluid distribution system operatively associated therewith, the compressor being operatively associated with the liquid-fuel engine, wherein the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly are each operatively associated with the compressor using the fluid distribution system for applying propulsion power to the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly.

10. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 9 wherein the stabilizer and ram control assembly is operatively associated with the compressor using the fluid distribution system for applying power selectively to the post stabilizer and the post ram.

11. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising an assembly for extending the ram laterally away from the frame and a control assembly associated with the ram extending assembly for selectively moving the ram laterally away from the frame.

12. A self-propelled post driving apparatus comprising: a frame; a post driving mechanism mounted to the frame including: a post stabilizer; and a post ram, a stabilizer and ram control assembly for controlling operational movement of the post stabilizer and the post ram; and a propulsion assembly including: at least one apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface; and a zero turning radius control assembly for controlling the apparatus during movement thereof including at least two drive wheels, with the drive wheels being selectively individually drivable in either direction of rotation to attain zero turning radius movement for selectively positioning the post driving mechanism at a post driving location.

13. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the propulsion assembly includes a power assembly including at least one machine for supplying power to at least one of the post driving mechanism and the at least two drive wheels.

14. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the power assembly includes a liquid-fuel engine.

15. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 14 wherein the power assembly includes a working fluid compressor and fluid distribution system operatively associated therewith, the compressor being operatively associated with the liquid-fuel engine.

16. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the propulsion assembly includes a first driving assembly for driving the first driving wheel; a second driving assembly for driving the second driving wheel; and a power assembly including at least one machine for supplying power to at least one of the post driving mechanism, the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel.

17. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 15 wherein the zero turning radius assembly includes a driving control assembly for selecting at least one of the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly for at least one of individual and simultaneous operation of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel for selective directional movement of the post driving apparatus for selectively positioning the post driving mechanism at a post driving location.

18. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 15 wherein the first driving assembly includes a first fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the first drive wheel and the second driving assembly includes a second fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the second drive wheel for applying propulsive power to at least one of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel.

19. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 17 wherein the first fluid-driven motor and the second fluid-driven motor are each formed as a hydraulic motor and the working fluid compressor is a hydraulic compressor.

20. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 12 and further comprising an assembly for extending the ram laterally away from the frame and a control assembly associated with the ram extending assembly for selectively moving the ram laterally away from the frame.

21. A self-propelled post driving apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising an assembly for selectively engaging and disengaging said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel from said at least one apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface, thereby allowing selective free rotation of said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel.

22. A method for driving a post into the ground comprising the steps of providing a self-propelled post driving apparatus including: a post stabilizer; a post ram; a stabilizer and ram control assembly for controlling operational movement of the post stabilizer and the post ram; and a propulsion assembly including: an apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface; a zero turning radius control assembly for controlling the apparatus during movement thereof including at least two drive wheels, with the drive wheels being selectively individually drivable in either direction of rotation to attain zero turning radius movement; and an assembly for selectively engaging and disengaging said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel from said apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface; determining a post driving location; maneuvering the post driving apparatus using the control assembly to selectively operate the wheels assemblies individually, simultaneously or both to position the post ram over the predetermined location; removing a post from the post magazine; positioning the post over the predetermined driving location; stabilizing the post using the stabilizer arms; and ramming the post into the ground using the control assembly to selectively operate the ram to repeatedly pound the post into the ground at the predetermined location.

23. A method for driving a post according to claim 22 and further comprising the steps of: providing a post driving apparatus having an assembly for extending the ram laterally away from the frame and a control assembly associated with the ram extending assembly for moving the ram laterally away from the frame; and moving the ram laterally away from the frame a predetermined distance using the ram extending control assembly.

24. A self-propelled service implement comprising: a frame; a primary work apparatus mounted to said frame; a propulsion assembly including: at least one apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface; a zero turning radius control assembly for controlling the apparatus during movement thereof including a first driving wheel and a second driving wheel, with the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel being selectively individually drivable in either direction of rotation to attain zero turning radius movement for selectively positioning the post driving mechanism at a post driving location; and an assembly for selectively engaging and disengaging said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel from said at least one apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface, thereby allowing selective free rotation of said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is related broadly to powered implements including powered farm implements and, more particularly, to a self-propelled post driving apparatus that includes a steering apparatus.

During fence building or mending operations, driving fence posts into the ground can be a time-consuming operation for farmers and others who must essentially plant wooden fence posts in the ground. Over a large farm, or other broad expanse, the total number of posts required to make a full-sized fence can make fencing operation a long process.

Accordingly, over the years automatic or powered fence post drivers have been developed. Some of the post drivers have taken the form of an attachment for a tractor or truck while others are in the form of a trailer which may be towed behind a tractor or other vehicle. Still other post drivers are self-propelled. Some of the self-propelled post drivers are steerable and include a seat for a driver. Others are merely self-propelled to follow or lead a walking operator who is not positioned on the device itself. With the operator positioned on the ground, it becomes easier than with prior apparatus to maneuver a power driver to accurately position and drive a fence post.

The positioning operation is a precise maneuver, given a margin of error for pole location on the order of several inches when compared to the size of a field. Therefore, in order to properly position a post driver, some form of steering is desired. In order to more precisely place the fence post for driving, a versatile steering system could enhance the operator's ability to properly position the driving apparatus over the desired post location.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is accordingly it is an object of the present invention to provide a self-propelled post driving apparatus that is highly maneuverable.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a post driving apparatus that includes a zero turning radius steering system.

It is another object of the present invention to provide such a post driver that also includes enhanced mobility of the ram in order to precisely position the post driver over a desired post location.

To those ends, the present invention is directed to a self-propelled post driving apparatus including a frame and a post driving mechanism mounted to the frame including a post stabilizer and a post ram. A stabilizer and ram control assembly is provided for controlling operational movement of the post stabilizer and the post ram. Also included is a driving assembly including a first driving wheel mounted to the frame at a first position; a second driving wheel mounted to the frame at a second position oppositely from the first driving wheel; a first wheel driving assembly for driving the first driving wheel; and a second wheel driving assembly for driving the second driving wheel. A power assembly is included, with the power assembly having at least one machine for supplying power to at least one of the post driving mechanism, the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel. A driving control assembly is provided for selectively applying propulsion power to at least one of the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly for at least one of individual and simultaneous operation of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel for selective directional movement of the post driving apparatus for selectively positioning the post driving mechanism at a post driving location.

Preferably, the power assembly includes a liquid-fuel engine. It is further preferred that the power assembly include a working fluid compressor and fluid distribution system operatively associated therewith, the compressor being operatively associated with the liquid-fuel engine.

It is preferred that the present post driving apparatus include an assembly for selectively engaging said first driving wheel and sand second driving wheel from said power assembly, thereby allowing selective free rotation of said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel.

It is preferred that the first driving assembly includes a first fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the first driving wheel and the second driving assembly includes a second fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the second driving wheel for applying propulsion power to at least one of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel, and wherein the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly are each operatively associated with the compressor using the fluid distribution system for applying propulsion power to the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly.

It is further preferred that the first fluid-driven motor and the second fluid-driven motor are each formed as a hydraulic motor and the working fluid compressor is a hydraulic compressor. Preferably, the first driving assembly includes a first motor operatively associated with the first driving wheel for propulsion thereof and the second driving assembly includes a second motor operatively associated with the second driving wheel for propulsion thereof.

It is preferred that the first driving assembly includes a first fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the first driving wheel and the second driving assembly includes a second fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the second driving wheel for applying driving power to at least one of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel. Preferably, the power assembly includes a liquid-fuel engine, a working fluid compressor and fluid distribution system operatively associated therewith, the compressor being operatively associated with the liquid-fuel engine, wherein the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly are each operatively associated with the compressor using the fluid distribution system for applying propulsion power to the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly.

Preferably, the stabilizer and ram control assembly is operatively associated with the compressor using the fluid distribution system for applying power selectively to the post stabilizer and the post ram. It is preferred that the present invention further includes an assembly for extending the ram laterally away from the frame and a control assembly associated with the ram extending assembly for selectively moving the ram laterally away from the frame.

The present invention can also be described as a self-propelled post driving apparatus including a frame and a post driving mechanism mounted to the frame including a post stabilizer and a post ram. The present invention also includes a stabilizer and ram control assembly for controlling operational movement of the post stabilizer and the post ram. Also provided is a propulsion assembly including at least one apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface; and a zero turning radius control assembly for controlling the apparatus during movement thereof including at least two drive wheels, with the drive wheels being selectively individually drivable in either direction of rotation to attain zero turning radius movement for selectively positioning the post driving mechanism at a post driving location.

It is preferred that the propulsion assembly includes a power assembly including at least one machine for supplying power to at least one of the post driving mechanism and the at least two drive wheels. It is further preferred that wherein the power assembly includes a liquid-fuel engine. Preferably, the power assembly includes a working fluid compressor and fluid distribution system operatively associated therewith, the compressor being operatively associated with the liquid-fuel engine.

It is preferred that the propulsion assembly includes a first driving assembly for driving the first driving wheel; a second driving assembly for driving the second driving wheel; and a power assembly including at least one machine for supplying power to at least one of the post driving mechanism, the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel.

Preferably, the zero turning radius assembly includes a driving control assembly for selecting at least one of the first driving assembly and the second driving assembly for at least one of individual and simultaneous operation of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel for selective directional movement of the post driving apparatus for selectively positioning the post driving mechanism at a post driving location.

It is further preferred that the first driving assembly includes a first fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the first drive wheel and the second driving assembly includes a second fluid-driven motor operatively associated with the second drive wheel for applying propulsive power to at least one of the first driving wheel and the second driving wheel.

Preferably, the first fluid-driven motor and the second fluid-driven motor are each formed as a hydraulic motor and the working fluid compressor is a hydraulic compressor. It is preferred that the present invention further include an assembly for extending the ram laterally away from the frame and a control assembly associated with the ram extending assembly for selectively moving the ram laterally away from the frame.

It is further preferred that the present post driving apparatus include comprising an assembly for selectively engaging and disengaging said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel from said at least one apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface, thereby allowing selective free rotation of said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel.

The present invention is also directed to a method for driving a post into the ground. The present method includes the steps of:

a. providing a self-propelled post driving apparatus including a post stabilizer;

a post ram; a stabilizer and ram control assembly for controlling operational movement of the post stabilizer and the post ram; propulsion assembly including an apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface; and a zero turning radius control assembly for controlling the apparatus during movement thereof including at least two drive wheels, with the drive wheels being selectively individually drivable in either direction of rotation to attain zero turning radius movement; and an assembly for selectively engaging and disengaging said first driving wheel and said second driving wheel from said apparatus mounted to the frame for propelling the post driving apparatus along a support surface;

b. determining a post driving location;

c. maneuvering the post driving apparatus using the control assembly to selectively operate the wheels assemblies individually, simultaneously or both to position the post ram over the predetermined location;

e. removing a post from the post magazine;

f. positioning the post over the predetermined driving location;

g. stabilizing the post using the stabilizer arms; and

h. ramming the post into the ground using the control assembly to selectively operate the ram to repeatedly pound the post into the ground at the predetermined location.

Preferably, the method further includes the steps of providing a post driving apparatus having an assembly for extending the ram laterally away from the frame and a control assembly associated with the ram extending assembly for moving the ram laterally away from the frame; and moving the ram laterally away from the frame a predetermined distance using the ram extending control assembly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic side view of a self-propelled post driving apparatus according to one preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the post driving apparatus illustrated in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic view of the hydraulics system of the post driving apparatus illustrated in FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Turning now to the drawings and, more particularly, to FIG. 1 a self-propelled post driver is illustrated generally at 10 and includes a generally skeletal frame structure 12 for supporting the various systems as will be explained in greater detail hereinafter. The frame 12 is ground supported by spaced, opposing left and right wheels 14, 16 as seen in FIG. 2. Further, a caster 18 is mounted to the frame 12 at a spaced relationship from both the left wheel 14 and the right wheel 16. The caster 18 along with the wheels 14 and 16 provide a 3-point stance and a balanced structure for the post driver 10 of the present invention.

A ram assembly 20 is provided for final positioning and driving a positioned post into the ground. The ram assembly 20 is mounted to the frame and includes an upright ram support 22 and a generally rectangular ramming head 24 which is configured for generally vertical movement along the ram support 22 as will be seen in greater detail hereinafter. The ramming head 24 is formed as a generally hollow body with a rectangular cross section that is fitted around the ram support 22 for telescoping movement therealong. A pair of gripping members 28 is pivotably mounted to the ram support 22 for operator-controlled movement toward and away from one another. The gripping members 28 are intended to guide and position a post for ground insertion by the ramming assembly 20. A ramming surface 26 is mounted to the ramming head 24 for movement therewith for repeatedly ramming a fence post to drive the fence post into the ground at a predetermined location under the control of an operator.

In order to enhance the precision with which the present apparatus can position itself for post-driving, the ram assembly 20 is laterally, reciprocally extendable, toward and away from the frame 12. With reference to FIG. 2, a horizontal drive member 42 is mounted to the ram support 22 and projects laterally away therefrom. The drive member 42 projects away from a rear portion of the ram support 22. The drive member 42 is fitted within a linear drive receiver 44 for telescoping movement in a reciprocating manner to allow the ram assembly 20 to be extended laterally away from the apparatus 10 for positioning the ram surface 26 over a post location, and back toward the apparatus for travel.

As stated earlier herein, the present apparatus 10 is self-propelled and in that regard, includes a propulsion system. The primary operational system of the present apparatus 10 is a hydraulic system which will be discussed in greater detail hereinafter. The hydraulic system is configured for providing and controlling the propulsion, steering, positioning and ramming operation of the present apparatus 10. The propulsion system includes a gasoline motor 30 on order of a large lawn tractor motor. The gasoline motor 30 is mechanically linked to a hydraulic compressor 32 which in turn is linked hydraulically and operatively to a control box 34. For propulsion, the present invention includes a pair of hydraulic motors 46, 48 attached individually to the left wheel 14 and the right wheel 16 respectively. The hydraulic motors 46, 48 are individually operable or they may be simultaneously operated.

In order to provide a zero turning radius and the enhanced positioning ability of the present invention, and as stated above, the wheels 14, 16 are individually drivable by hydraulic motors 46, 48. By driving one wheel faster than the other wheel, steering can be accomplished. For example, if the left wheel 14 is driven clockwise, while the right wheel 16 is held stationery, the apparatus 10 will pivot about the right wheel 16, steering to the right, causing the apparatus to pivot about a central axis toward the operator. In other words, the apparatus will tend to move counterclockwise when viewed from above about its own central axis.

Similarly, if the right wheel 16 is held stationery and the left wheel 14 is driven counterclockwise, the turn will be to the right except the apparatus 10 will tend to pivot in a clockwise manner about its central axis when viewed from above. If both wheels are driven in opposite directions, i.e. the left wheel is driven counterclockwise and the right wheel is driven clockwise at the same speed, the apparatus will spin in place about its central axis. Direction of the spin is dependent on the respective directions of rotation of the left wheel 14 and the right wheel 16. When positioning the apparatus, the operator can use controls 36 to throttle the wheels individually or can drive the wheels simultaneously for straight line movement along the fence line. For more precision movement, throttling the wheels individually can move the apparatus through a series of curves of increasing, decreasing or constant radius in order to position the ram surface 26 over the intended post location. The zero turning radius aspect of the present invention provides the operator with precision control to quickly and accurately position the ram 26 over the intended fence post location.

With reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, the present post driving apparatus 10 is configured for towing by a tractor, truck or other towing vehicle, reducing the need to load the post driving apparatus 10 onto a carrying vehicle. With reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, each hydraulic motor 46, 48 is connected to its respective driving wheel 14, 16 by an assembly for selectively engaging and disengaging each driving wheel from its respective hydraulic motor. The engaging and disengaging assembly includes a manual clutch 62, 64 operatively associated with each hydraulic motor 46, 48 and each driving wheel 14, 16. Each clutch includes a manually operative engagement/disengagement handle 66, 68. By disengaging the driving wheels 14, 16 from their respective hydraulic motor 46, 48, the post driving apparatus can move about under a free-rolling condition for towing from one job site to another, for example. Although a clutch is preferred at each wheel with manual operation, it is well within the scope and spirit of the invention to use other means for engaging and disengaging the driving wheels 14, 16 form the hydraulic motors 46, 48 for free-wheeling operation.

Turning now to FIG. 3, a diagrammatic representation of the hydraulic system of the present driver apparatus 10 is illustrated. It should be noted that while a hydraulic system is referred, the present invention can be assembled and function with a pneumatic system, or with electrical drive. With continued reference to FIG. 3, the hydraulic system includes a motor 30 in mechanical operative association with a compressor 32 that provides the hydraulic fluid for the system. Conventional hydraulic tubing 52 transmits the hydraulic working fluid to a control box 34 for distribution to various hydraulic utilities. Conventional hydraulic tubing 54 transmits working fluid to the ram assembly 20 for movement of the ram head 24 in a reciprocating ramming manner.

The working fluid also is used to operate the grips 28 and the ram extender 40 as seen in FIG. 2. The control box 34 also distributes working fluid to the individual hydraulic motors 46, 48 through conventional hydraulic tubing 56, 58 respectively. The hydraulic motors 46, 48 are used to individually drive the wheels 14, 16 in a manner that allows a zero turning radius as discussed above. A group of control rods 36 or other control elements is provided at the control box 34 so that an operator can effectively operate the apparatus 10 in a manner to be described hereinafter. Notably, there are enough controls to individually extend the ram, grip a post, and cause reciprocating motion of the ram to drive the post. Further, there are sufficient controls to allow for individual left wheel 14 and right wheel 16 operation as well as simultaneous wheel operation. As shown, the controls are illustrated as moveable rods which will operate selectively operable valves to route the hydraulic fluid where it needs to go for the chosen operation. It should also be understood that other valve operators may be provided to create the necessary valve lineup to perform the desired function.

In operation and according to the method of the present invention, the present post driving apparatus 10 is provided with a series of fence posts P in the hopper 38 for use as the fence is constructed or mended. One of the advantages of the present invention is that one person can move a load of fence posts along a fence line and plant each post where it needs to be without further assistance. To that end, the operator engages the controls 36 to cause the apparatus 10 to move under its own power by applying working fluid in a controlled manner to the individual hydraulic motors 46, 48. If working fluid is applied simultaneously to both motors, they respond simultaneously and the apparatus 10 tracks a straight line. If one or the other wheels is sped up or slowed down or even caused to stop, the apparatus 10 will be steered in a direction in accordance with the stopped wheel. For example, if the operator stops the right wheel 16, while the left wheel 14 is allowed to operate, the device will be steered to the right and if the right wheel 16 is completely stopped, the apparatus 10 will essentially pivot on the stopped wheel to make a 90-degree right turn. If the left wheel 14 is stopped, the apparatus may be pivoted on that wheel by propelling the right wheel 16 and a 90-degree left turn is executed. If one wheel is driven clockwise and the other wheel is driven counter-clockwise, the device 10 will pivot about a central axis. With experimentation and practice, an operator can achieve precise positioning of the apparatus 10 with respect to the ramming surface 26 and a desired fence location. It may be useful for the operator to put a small stake in the ground where the fence post should go and use the stake as a reference point for positioning the apparatus 10 using the controls 36 and individually selectively driving the wheels 14, 16 until proper positioning has been achieved.

Once the apparatus 10 has been positioned, the operator selects a post P, removes the stake from the ground and positions the post P where the stake used to be and, at this point, the operator may use the controls 36 to maneuver the grips 28 into position to stabilize the post P during driving operation. Once the post P is positioned and stabilized, the operator uses the controls 36 to cause reciprocating movement of the ram head 24 to thereby cause the ram surface 26 to drive the post into the ground at the desired location. Once the post is in position, the operator uses the controls 36 to retract the ram from its extended position and to place the ram in a traveling position. Once this is achieved, the operator can cause the wheels 14, 16 to move simultaneously to cause the apparatus 10 to travel along the fence line to the next driving post-driving location.

By the above, the present invention provides a post-driving apparatus that can be precisely and effectively positioned for driving a post into the ground at a desired location and is configured for use by a single operator. Accordingly, the process of installing fence along a fence line can be greatly shortened and performed with greater efficiency.

It will therefore be readily understood by those persons skilled in the art that the present invention is susceptible of a broad utility and application. While the present invention is described in all currently foreseeable embodiments, there may be other, unforeseeable embodiments and adaptations of the present invention, as well as variations, modifications and equivalent arrangements, that do not depart from the substance or scope of the present invention. The foregoing disclosure is not intended or to be construed to limit the present invention or otherwise to exclude such other embodiments, adaptations, variations, modifications and equivalent arrangements, the present invention being limited only by the claims appended hereto and the equivalents thereof.