Title:
Manually operated snow removal apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for manually loading, moving and discharging material such as snow, sand or the like. The device (10) has a carriage (12) and a bucket (22). The carriage has a yoke (14), defined by a pair of forwardly-extending yoke arms (20) and a pair of rearwardly-extending handle arms (16), as well as a pair of wheels (18). The bucket is rotatably positioned between the yoke arms on a pivot axis. The bucket is selectively rotatable about the pivot axis between a first position, in which rotation of the bucket is prevented, and a second position, in which rotation of the bucket is also prevented. The first position is used for loading the bucket and the second position is used for discharging the bucket contents. Some embodiments have a third position, which is used to secure the load in the bucket during transport.



Inventors:
Hamilton, Steven E. (Upper Arlington, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/417892
Publication Date:
01/08/2004
Filing Date:
04/17/2003
Assignee:
HAMILTON STEVEN E.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B62B1/14; B62B1/16; E01H5/02; E02F3/02; (IPC1-7): E01H5/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BATSON, VICTOR D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Steven E. Hamilton (Upper Arlington, OH, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A device for manually loading, moving and discharging material such as snow, comprising: a carriage having a yoke (14), defined by a pair of forwardly-extending yoke arms (20) and a pair of rearwardly-extending handle arms (16), the carriage being provided with a pair of wheels (18); and a bucket (22), rotatably positioned between the yoke arms on a pivot axis; wherein the bucket is selectively rotatable about the pivot axis between a first position, in which rotation of the bucket is prevented, and a second position, in which rotation of the bucket is also prevented.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein: the pivot axis is defined by a pair of trunnions, a first of the pair of trunnions connecting a first side of the bucket to a first of the two yoke arms and a second of the pair of trunnions connecting a second side of the bucket to a second of the two yoke arms.

3. The device of claim 2, wherein: the pivot axis is eccentric from an axis defined by the wheels.

4. The device of claim 1, wherein: the bucket has a third position in which rotation of the bucket is prevented, such that the first position is intermediate between the third and second positions.

5. The device of claim 4, further comprising: a wheel, mounted on a rearward portion of the bucket, such that the wheel bears at least part of the weight of the bucket, and the material contained therein, when the bucket is in the third position.

6. A method for manually loading, moving and discharging material such as snow, comprising the steps of: providing a device having a carriage with a yoke, defined by a pair of forwardly-extending yoke arms and a pair of rearwardly-extending handle arms, the carriage being provided with a pair of wheels, and a bucket rotatably positioned between the yoke arms on a pivot axis, the bucket being selectively rotatable about the pivot axis between a first position, in which rotation of the bucket is prevented, and a second position, in which rotation of the bucket is also prevented; rolling the device on the wheels towards a mass of the material to be loaded at a place for loading, with the bucket fixed in the first position, so that a portion of the material to be loaded enters the bucket; rolling the device away from place for loading to a place for discharge, while retaining the loaded portion of the material in the bucket; and causing the bucket to rotate into a second position, in which the portion of the material in the bucket is discharged by gravity.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein: the step of rolling the device from the loading place to the discharge place is accomplished with the bucket in a third position, intermediate between the first and second positions, rotation of the bucket being prevented in said third position.

8. The method of claim 6, wherein the step of causing the bucket to rotate to the second position is accomplished by an arm that is manually actuated by a lever on one of the handle arms.

9. The method of claim 6, wherein the step of causing the bucket to rotate to the second position is accomplished by an arm that is actuated by a pneumatic cylinder, that is in turn actuated by a switch means on one of the handle arms.

Description:

[0001] This application claims priority from US provisional application Ser. No. 60/373,270, filed Apr. 17, 2002, which application is incorporated by reference as if fully recited herein.

[0002] The present invention relates to a device for moving material, especially snow, although the device may be used to move other powdery or granular material, such as sand, loose soil or grain. Fibrous materials, such as mulch, straw and hay, may be movable with the device, either with or without requiring attachments to do so.

BACKGROUND OF THE ART

[0003] A variety of devices are known for moving powdery or granular material, from a simple, totally manual, shovel to a complex, motorized device such as a front-end loader. A common material that needs to be moved is snow. The health hazards of strenuous physical exertion in cold weather, as encountered when moving snow, especially to older males, are wellted documented. These hazards are strong indicators against the use of shovels by at least these persons, if not all people, for snow removal. While mechanized snow blowers and the like are known, they are expensive, noisy, and potentially dangerous if not used properly. The expenses include fuel and maintenance. Infrequently used engines may be difficult to start. In regions that do not receive much snow, they are simply too expensive to justify their purchase.

[0004] One device known in the prior art that differs from the conventional snow shovel is the snow remover described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,056,245 to Jenkins, et. al, which issued on OCt. 15, 1991.

[0005] It is therefore, an object of the present invention to provide a simple device for collecting an amount of the material in a bucket, moving it to a point of deposit and then depositing it by a rotation of the bucket.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] This and other objects of the present invention are achieved a device for manually loading, moving and discharging material such as snow. The device comprises a carriage and a bucket. The carriage has a yoke, defined by a pair of forwardly-extending yoke arms and a pair of rearwardly-extending handle arms, as well as a pair of wheels. The bucket is rotatably positioned between the yoke arms on a pivot axis. The bucket is selectively rotatable about the pivot axis between a first position, in which rotation of the bucket is prevented, and a second position, in which rotation of the bucket is also prevented. The first position is used for loading the bucket and the second position is used for discharging the bucket contents.

[0007] In some aspects of the invention, the pivot axis is defined by a pair of trunnions, a first of the pair of trunnions connecting a first side of the bucket to a first of the two yoke arms and a second of the pair of trunnions connecting a second side of the bucket to a second of the two yoke arms.

[0008] In some aspects of the invention, the pivot axis is eccentric from an axis defined by the wheels.

[0009] In some embodiments, the bucket has a third position in which rotation of the bucket is prevented, such that the first position is intermediate between the third and second positions. This third position, when present, is used while moving the device from a loading point to a discharge point. Because of this some aspects of the invention further have an additional wheel, mounted on a rearward portion of the bucket, such that the wheel bears at least part of the weight of the bucket, and the material contained therein, when the bucket is in the third position.

[0010] Some aspects of the invention are achieved by a method for manually loading, moving and discharging material such as snow. The steps of such a method include:

[0011] providing a device having a carriage with a yoke, defined by a pair of forwardly-extending yoke arms and a pair of rearwardly-extending handle arms, the carriage being provided with a pair of wheels, and a bucket rotatably positioned between the yoke arms on a pivot is, the bucket being selectively rotatable about the pivot axis between a first position, in which rotation of the bucket is prevented, and a second position, in which rotation of the bucket is also prevented;

[0012] rolling the device on the wheels towards a mass of the material to be loaded at a place for loading, with the bucket fixed in the first position, so that a portion of the material to be loaded enters the bucket;

[0013] rolling the device away from place for loading to a place for discharge, while retaining the loaded portion of the material in the bucket; and

[0014] causing the bucket to rotate into a second position, in which the portion of the material in the bucket is discharged by gravity.

[0015] In some embodiments of the method, the step of rolling the device from the loading place to the discharge place is accomplished with the bucket in a third position, such tah that the first position is rotationally intermediate between the third and second positions, with rotation of the bucket being prevented when it is in the third position.

[0016] In some embodiments, the step of causing the bucket to rotate between positions is accomplished by an arm that is manually actuated by a lever on one of the handle arms. In other embodiments, this step is accomplished by an arm that is actuated by a pneumatic cylinder, that is in turn actuated by a switch means on one of the handle arms.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] The present invention will be better understood when reference is made to the accompanying figures, wherein identical parts are identified with identical reference numerals and wherein:

[0018] FIG. 1 shows a side perspective view of the apparatus of the present invention in a first, or load, mode;

[0019] FIG. 2 shows a side perspective view of the apparatus of the present invention in a second, or transport, mode; and

[0020] FIG. 3 shows a side perspective view of the apparatus of the present invention in a third, or discharge, mode.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0021] The device 10 of the present invention is shown with a human user. In this figure, the device 10 is depicted in a first, or loading mode. The device 10 comprises a framework or carriage 12, with a forwardly-extending yoke 14 and a pair of rearwardly-extending handle arms 16 attached thereto. A wheel 18 is provided on each side of the carriage. In some embodiments, these wheels 18 are connected to each other through an axle (not shown) running therebetween, but in other embodiments, the wheels are independently mounted. In either case, the wheels 18 will typically be aligned in a fixed position so that each can independently rotate on the axle on which it is fixed, but it cannot pivot relative to the axle.

[0022] Positioned within the arms 20 of the yoke 14 is a bucket 22, with a generally rectangular body and an open face, the lower surface 24 of the open face extending forwardly further than the upper surface 26. In some embodiments, the bucket 22 will be formed from sheet metal, although many embodiments will use a durable polymeric material, especially a fiber-reinforced epoxy-type material similar to that which might be used to fabricate a boat body. In any case, the intention of the material is to provide a light-weight bucket 22, so that the great majority of the weight of a loaded bucket is the load and not the bucket. The bucket 22 is typically provided with a trunnion 28 on each side, the respective trunnions passing through holes 30 in the yoke arms 20. These trunnions 28 define a pivot axis, preferably one which is located rearwardly and low in the volume of the bucket 22. In some cases, the pivot axis will actually be rearward of the bucket. In all cases, it is preferred to position this axis rearward of the center of mass of the bucket 22 when it is fully loaded.

[0023] In all embodiments of the invention, the device 10 will be provided with a means for selectively moving or retaining the bucket 22 with respect to the pivot axis. For example, when the apparatus is in the loading mode depicted in FIG. 1, the bucket 22 will be held fixed relative to the device, with the lower surface 24 effectively parallel and proximate to the ground on which the wheels 18 are positioned. This loading position represents a first position for the bucket 22. However, in a discharge mode, as shown in FIG. 3, the bucket 22 will be rotated in a clockwise manner about the pivot axis from the loading mode position, allowing the material in the bucket to be dumped out. This represents a second position for the bucket 22. In some embodiments, the means for accomplishing this may be a pneumatic cylinder with its arm which acts on the bucket 22, the pneumatic cylinder being operable by an actuator on one of the handle arms 16. In another embodiment (not shown), the means is a manually actuated arm that accomplishes the same purpose, including a latch or friction device, the manually actuated arm being operated by a lever mounted on one of the handle arms. In some other embodiments, the means for selectively moving and retaining the bucket with respect to the pivot axis may even rotate the bucket 22 in a counter-clockwise manner for transporting the loaded bucket when the apparatus 10 is in the second, or transport, mode shown in FIG. 2. This represents a third position for the bucket. From the point of view of bucket rotation about the pivot axis, this third position, when present, is located such that the bucket, in moving from the third position to the second position, that is, in moving from a transport to a discharge mode, moves through the first position, that is, the loading mode. In devices 10 of the invention having this third position, a third wheel may be mounted on the rear of the bucket to engage the ground during the transport mode, although this wheel will break ground contact in the other two positions. The advantage of the counter-clockwise rotation, which would typically be in the range of about 30 to about 60 degrees, and probably about 45 degrees, is that it allows the center of mass of the loaded bucket to be moved nearly above the pivot axis. Further advantage is provided by this wheel bearing a portion of the total weight of the bucket and the material contained therein.

[0024] Attention is now directed to the handle member 32, which comprises additional elements beyond the handle arms 16, which are connected at a proximal end thereof to the carriage 12. At a distal end of the handle arms 16, there is a cross member 34 to provide rigidity and to provide a hand grip for the user. Also, the preferred embodiments of the device 10 will be provided with a pair of secondary grip members 36. One of these grip members 36 is attached to each of the handle arms 16 at the distal end, so that the grip members, the handle arms and the cross member 34 are in a mutually orthogonal relationship. This relationship will provide a variety of grip positions when the apparatus is used. As previously mentioned, the actuator control 38 for the means for selectively moving or retaining the bucket will be located on one of the handle arms, on the cross member 34 or on one of the secondary grip members 36. In some embodiments, the handle arms 16 will have adjustable length and/or angle.

[0025] Operation of the device 10 will be understood from a review of FIGS. 1 through 3. With the device 10 in the loading mode of FIG. 1, the user pushes the device forwardly and the material to be moved will be captured in the bucket 22. Once the bucket 22 has been filled, the user may convert the device 10 into its transport mode by pushing downwardly on the handle member 32, so that the wheels 18 act as a fulcrum, the handle arms 16 providing a longer lever arm than the yoke 14. In some embodiments, the counterclockwise rotation of the bucket at this point will further facilitate the transport process. After moving the device 10 to the desired location, the activation of the actuator control 38 causes clockwise rotation of the bucket 22, dumping out the material in the bucket. When this is completed, the bucket is restored to the load position (or the transport position in those embodiments that allow the counterclockwise rotation from the load position) and the device 10 is returned to the site of the material to be moved for further action.

[0026] While the foregoing detailed description has provided an understanding of a preferred embodiment that includes the best mode known to the inventor, those of ordinary skill in this art will understand that modifications and variations may be made while remaining within the scope of the invention and that the invention is truly defined by the claims accompanying the description.