Title:
Sidewalk maintenance vehicle and system for clearing snow and ice from a surface
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sidewalk maintenance vehicle for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to the surface comprises a tractor for providing mobility to the sidewalk maintenance vehicle and having a generally central longitudinal axis. A snow and ice removal apparatus, such as a plow blade, is mounted on the tractor so as to be disposed forwardly of the tractor and generally tranversely to the generally central longitudinal axis. A hopper is mounted on the tractor for carrying the granular material therein. The hopper has an outlet disposed longitudinally between the tractor and the plow, and a dispensing means operatively mounted at the outlet for permitting controlled dispensing of the granular material from the hopper onto the surface.



Inventors:
Cadman, Douglas (Courtland, CA)
Application Number:
10/654028
Publication Date:
03/10/2005
Filing Date:
09/04/2003
Assignee:
CADMAN DOUGLAS
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01C19/20; E01H5/06; (IPC1-7): E01H4/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, CHRISTOPHER J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DOUGLAS CADMAN (OAKVILLE, ON, CA)
Claims:
1. A sidewalk maintenance vehicle for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to said surface, said sidewalk maintenance vehicle comprising: a tractor for providing mobility to said sidewalk maintenance vehicle and having a generally central longitudinal axis; a snow and ice removal apparatus mounted on said tractor so as to be disposed forwardly of said tractor and generally tranversely to said generally central longitudinal axis; and, a hopper mounted on said tractor for carrying said granular material therein; wherein said hopper has an outlet disposed longitudinally between said tractor and said snow and ice removal apparatus, and a dispensing means operatively mounted at said outlet for permitting controlled dispensing of said granular material from said hopper onto said surface.

2. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 1, wherein said hopper is disposed longitudinally between said tractor and said snow and ice removal apparatus.

3. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 1, wherein said dispensing means is integrally mounted within said hopper.

4. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 1, wherein said tractor is a wheeled vehicle.

5. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 1, wherein said hopper has a front wall portion, a back wall portion, a left side wall portion, and a right side wall portion.

6. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 5, wherein said front wall portion of said hopper has a central forward portion, a left rearwardly sloped portion, and a right rearwardly sloped portion.

7. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 1, wherein said snow and ice removal apparatus comprises a plow blade.

8. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 7, wherein said plow blade is mounted on said tractor by means of a plow blade attachment arm.

9. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 8, wherein said plow blade attachment arm has a rear mounting arm portion for connecting said plow blade attachment arm to said tractor, a peripheral frame portion defining a central hollow area for accommodating said hopper, and means to connect said plow blade to said peripheral frame portion.

10. A method of using a sidewalk maintenance vehicle, having drive members such as wheels or tracks, to clear snow and ice from a surface, said method comprising the steps of, while driving said vehicle: clearing at least a portion of snow and ice disposed on said surface forwardly of said vehicle; applying a granular material to the at least partially cleared surface, forwardly of said drive members, of said sidewalk maintenance vehicle.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein said step of clearing at least a portion of snow and ice disposed on said surface forwardly of said vehicle comprises plowing said surface using a plow blade.

12. A plow for use in a sidewalk maintenance vehicle employing a tractor for providing mobility, and used for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to said surface, said tractor having a generally central longitudinal axis, said plow comprising: a plow blade; and, a plow blade attachment arm for mounting said plow blade onto said tractor so as to be disposed forwardly of said tractor and generally tranversely to said generally central longitudinal axis; wherein said plow blade attachment arm has a rear mounting arm portion for connecting said plow blade attachment arm to said tractor, a peripheral frame portion defining a central hollow area for accommodating said hopper, and means to connect said plow to said peripheral frame portion.

13. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 12, wherein said peripheral frame portion of said plow blade attachment arm is substantially rectangularly shaped.

14. A hopper for use in a sidewalk maintenance vehicle used for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to said surface, said hopper comprising: a front wall portion having a central forward portion, a left rearwardly sloped portion, and a right rearwardly sloped portion; a back wall portion; a left side wall portion; a right side wall portion; an outlet disposed at the bottom of said hopper; and, dispensing means operatively mounted at said outlet for permitting controlled dispensing of said granular material from said hopper onto said surface.

15. A system mountable onto a tractor having a generally central longitudinal axis, for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to said surface, said system comprising: a snow and ice removal apparatus mountable on said tractor forwardly of said tractor and generally tranversely to said generally central longitudinal axis; and, a hopper mountable on said tractor for carrying said granular material therein; wherein said hopper has an outlet disposed longitudinally between said tractor and said snow and ice removal apparatus, and a dispensing means operatively mounted at said outlet for permitting controlled dispensing of said granular material from said hopper onto said surface.

16. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 15, wherein said hopper is mountable on said tractor so as to be disposed forwardly of said of said tractor and rearwardly of said snow and ice removal apparatus.

17. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 16, wherein said snow and ice removal apparatus comprises a plow blade.

18. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 17, wherein said plow blade is mounted on said tractor by means of a plow blade attachment arm.

19. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 18, wherein said plow blade attachment arm has a rear mounting arm portion for connecting said plow blade attachment arm to said tractor, a peripheral frame portion defining a central hollow area for accommodating said hopper, and means to connect said plow to said peripheral frame portion.

20. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle of claim 19, wherein said peripheral frame portion of said plow blade attachment arm is substantially rectangularly shaped.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to sidewalk maintenance vehicles for clearing snow and ice from a surface, and more particularly to such sidewalk maintenance vehicles that also deposit granular material such as sand and salt onto the surface.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many types of motorized vehicles are used to clear snow and ice from surfaces such as roadways, sidewalks, parking lots, and the like. Large trucks having a large hopper located behind the cab and containing a sand and salt mixture, and a plow disposed forwardly of the cab, are commonly used to clear snow from roadways. Such large trucks cannot be used for clearing smaller areas, such as small parking lots and sidewalks. Accordingly, smaller vehicles such as pickup trucks and small tractors are outfitted with some type of snow clearing device, such as a plow, a snowblower, a sweeper, a scarifier, or the like, mounted at the front of the pickup truck or tractor. It is well known to have such pickup trucks carry a sand and salt mixture in the truckbed or to have such tractors carry a sand and salt mixture in a hopper, for dispensing onto a surface; however, there are problems associated with these types of vehicles.

Firstly, since the load of sand and salt mixture is disposed over the rear wheels, the weight distribution to the front wheels is very minimal when there is a full load of sand and salt mixture. Accordingly, the steering and braking capabilities of the vehicle are substantially reduced to a point of being unsafe. Further, especially in the case of tractors, the hopper and dispenser are typically a permanent part of the tractor, thus limiting the tractor's usefulness. Further, the dispenser underneath the hopper is in a position that the sand and salt mixture can readily become lodged in the various parts of the frame of the vehicle, thus causing unwanted corrosion damage.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,491,275 issued Jan. 1, 1985 to Holsworth, discloses a Dispenser for Road Vehicle, wherein a sand and salt dispenser is detachably mounted to the upper edge of a snowplow blade, so as to be disposed forwardly of the snowplow blade. While this configuration does overcome the disadvantage of the weight distribution on the front wheels of the vehicle, and also overcome the disadvantage of directly spreading a sand and salt mixture into the undercarriage of the vehicle, it has its own serious disadvantage. It deposits a sand and salt mixture directly in front of the snowplow blade. Accordingly, the sand and salt mixture is immediately scooped up by the snowplow blade, instead of remaining on a substantially cleared surface, which is highly undesirable.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a sidewalk maintenance vehicle for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to surface, wherein the surface is first cleared and the cleared surface then has granular material, such as sand and salt, applied to it.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a sidewalk maintenance vehicle for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to surface, which vehicle has improved weight distribution.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a sidewalk maintenance vehicle for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to surface, which vehicle has improved traction capabilities.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a sidewalk maintenance vehicle for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to surface, which vehicle has improved braking capabilities.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention there is disclosed a novel sidewalk maintenance vehicle for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to the surface. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle comprises a tractor for providing mobility to the sidewalk maintenance vehicle and having a generally central longitudinal axis. A snow and ice removal apparatus is mounted on the tractor so as to be disposed forwardly of the tractor and generally tranversely to the generally central longitudinal axis. A hopper is mounted on the tractor for carrying the granular material therein. The hopper has an outlet disposed longitudinally between the tractor and the plow, and a dispensing means operatively mounted at the outlet for permitting controlled dispensing of the granular material from the hopper onto the surface.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention there is disclosed a novel method of using a sidewalk maintenance vehicle, having drive members such as wheels or tracks, to clear snow and ice from a surface. The method comprises the steps of, while driving the vehicle: clearing at least a portion of snow and ice disposed on the surface forwardly of the vehicle; and applying a granular material to the at least partially cleared surface, forwardly of the drive members, of the sidewalk maintenance vehicle.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention there is disclosed a novel plow for use in a sidewalk maintenance vehicle employing a tractor for providing mobility, and used for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to the surface. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle having a generally central longitudinal axis. The plow comprises a plow blade, and a plow blade attachment arm for mounting the plow blade onto the tractor so as to be disposed forwardly of the tractor and generally tranversely to the generally central longitudinal axis. The plow blade attachment arm has a rear mounting arm portion for connecting the plow blade attachment arm to the tractor, a peripheral frame portion defining a central hollow area for accommodating the hopper, and means to connect the plow to the peripheral frame portion.

In accordance with still another aspect of the present invention there is disclosed a novel hopper for use in a sidewalk maintenance vehicle used for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to the surface. The hopper comprises a front wall portion having a central forward portion, a left rearwardly sloped portion, and a right rearwardly sloped portion, a back wall portion, a left side wall portion, and a right side wall portion. There is an outlet disposed at the bottom of the hopper. A dispensing means is operatively mounted at the outlet for permitting controlled dispensing of the granular material from the hopper onto the surface.

In accordance with still another aspect of the present invention there is disclosed a novel system mountable onto a tractor having a generally central longitudinal axis, for clearing snow and ice from a surface and for applying granular material to the surface. The system comprises a snow and ice removal apparatus mountable on the tractor forwardly of the tractor and generally tranversely to the generally central longitudinal axis, and a hopper for carrying the granular material therein. The hopper has an outlet disposed longitudinally between the tractor and the snow and ice removal apparatus, and a dispensing means operatively mounted at the outlet for permitting controlled dispensing of the granular material from the hopper onto the surface.

Other advantages, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as methods of operation and functions of the related elements of the structure, and the combination of parts and economies of manufacture, will become more apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description and the appended claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, the latter of which is briefly described herein below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the sidewalk maintenance vehicle according to the present invention, as to its structure, use and method of operation, together with further objectives and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following drawings in which a presently preferred embodiment of the invention will now be illustrated by way of example. It is expressly understood, however, that the drawings are for the purpose of illustration and description only, and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention. In the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the first preferred embodiment of the sidewalk maintenance vehicle according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the first preferred embodiment of the sidewalk maintenance vehicle of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the first preferred embodiment of the sidewalk maintenance vehicle of FIG. 1; and,

FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3, but with the hopper removed from the sidewalk maintenance vehicle.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Reference will now be made to FIGS. 1 through 4, which show a first preferred embodiment of the sidewalk maintenance vehicle of the present invention, as indicated by general reference numeral 20. The sidewalk maintenance vehicle 20 is for clearing snow and ice from a surface, such as a sidewalk, parking lot, or the like, and for applying a granular material to that same surface. In actuality, as is well known, a plow blade typically clears most of the snow and perhaps some of the ice from a surface, depending on many factors. The clearing of most of the snow and ice from the surface allows the granular material, which is typically a sand and salt combination, to melt the remaining snow and ice and also to provide traction for vehicles and pedestrians. The granular material may also be calcium chloride or any other suitable material, depending on what is required and/or allowed by law.

In brief, the sidewalk maintenance vehicle 20 comprises a tractor 30, a snow and ice removal apparatus such as a plow blade 40, and a hopper 50 having an outlet 60, as best seen in FIG. 2, and a dispensing means 70 for dispensing granular material from the hopper 50.

The various elements of the preferred embodiment sidewalk maintenance vehicle 20 will now be described in greater detail.

As is best seen in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4, the tractor 30 has a generally central longitudinal axis “L” extending between its front end 32 and its back end 34. Preferably, for purposes of mobility and minimizing damage to sidewalks and the like, the tractor 30 is a wheeled vehicle, having front wheels 36f and rear wheels 36r, but may also be a tracked vehicle. In any case, the tractor 30 is for providing mobility to the sidewalk maintenance vehicle 20.

The snow and ice removal apparatus is mounted on the tractor 30 and in the preferred embodiment, as illustrated, comprises a plow blade 40. The plow blade 40 is mounted on the tractor 30 by means of a plow blade attachment arm 42. As can be seen in the Figures, the plow blade 40 is disposed forwardly of the tractor 30 and generally transversely to the generally central longitudinal axis “L”. The plow blade 40 is movable angularly left or right, by means of hydraulic actuation, as is well known in the industry, and will not be elaborated on. As can be best seen in FIG. 4, the plow blade attachment arm 42 has a rear mounting arm portion 44 for connecting the plow blade 40 attachment to the tractor 30. Preferably, the plow blade attachment arm 42 is pivotally connected to the tractor 30 for movement about a horizontal pivot axis “H”, to permit the plow blade 40 to be selectively lifted and lowered, as desired. The rear mounting portion 44 is connected to a peripheral frame portion 46 that defines a central hollow area 47, as is best seen in FIG. 4, for accommodating the bottom portion of the hopper 50 therein, and permitting the granular material dispensed from outlet 60 the hopper 50 to pass therethrough. Preferably, the peripheral frame portion 46 of the plow blade attachment arm 42 is substantially rectangularly shaped, in a substantially horizontal plane, but may also be any other suitable shape, depending on the configuration of the hopper 50.

The plow blade attachment arm 42 also has means to connect the plow blade 40 to the peripheral frame portion 46. As can be best seen in FIG. 4, the means to connect the plow blade 40 to the peripheral frame portion 46 comprises a pair of angled arm members 48 welded at their back ends 48b to the peripheral frame portion 46 and welded at their front ends 48f to a bracket assembly 49 that is secured by means of welding to the plow blade 40.

The hopper 50 is mounted on the tractor 30 for carrying the granular material therein, and is disposed longitudinally between the tractor 30 and the plow blade 40. In this manner, the granular material, typically a sand and salt mixture, is spread onto the surface being cleaned after it is substantially cleaned by the plow blade 40, and in front of the wheels 36f,36r of the tractor 30, so as to provide for improved traction and braking. Further, the hopper 50 is disposed in close longitudinal relation to the front wheels 36 of the tractor 30, thereby not creating a situation where the weight of the granular material and the hopper 50 lessens the weight distribution on the front wheels 36, but instead increases the weight distribution on the front wheels 36, so as to provide for improved handling and braking.

As can be seen in FIGS. 1 through 3, the hopper 50 has a front wall portion 52, a back wall portion 54, a left side wall portion 56, and a right wall portion 58. In order to minimize the obscurity of the driver's view of the surface being cleaned, the front wall portion 52 of the hopper 50 has central forward portion 52c, and a left rearwardly sloped portion 524 and a right rearwardly sloped portion 52r.

As is best seen in FIG. 2, where a portion of the plow blade attachment arm 42 is cut away for the sake of clarity, the outlet 60 is disposed at the underside of the hopper 50, and is disposed longitudinally between the tractor 30 and the snow and ice removal apparatus, namely the plow blade 40. There is also a dispensing means 70, as is best seen in FIG. 3, operatively mounted at the outlet 60 of the hopper 50, and preferably intricately mounted within the hopper 50. The dispensing means 70 comprises a conventional rotary mechanism that permits controlled dispensing of the granular material from the hopper 50 onto the surface being cleaned.

The present invention also teaches a method of using a sidewalk maintenance vehicle 20, having drive members such as wheels 36f,36b, or tracks (not shown), to clear snow and ice from a surface. The method comprising the following steps. While driving the sidewalk maintenance vehicle 20, clearing at least a portion of snow and ice disposed on the surface forwardly of the vehicle 20. As illustrated, this step is performed using a plow blade 40, but may also be performed using a snow blower, a scarifier, a sweeper, and so on. Further, a granular material is applied to the at least partially cleared surface, forwardly of the drive members, namely the wheels 36f,36b of the sidewalk maintenance vehicle 20.

As can be understood from the above description and from the accompanying drawings, the present invention provides a sidewalk maintenance vehicle 20 that first clears a surface and then dispenses a granular material, such as sand and salt, onto it, thus providing improved traction capabilities and braking capabilities for the vehicle, and also has that has improved weight distribution, also thus providing improved traction capabilities and braking capabilities for the vehicle, all of which features are unknown in the prior art.

Other variations of the above principles will be apparent to those who are knowledgeable in the field of the invention, and such variations are considered to be within the scope of the present invention. For instance, the plow blade could be replaced by a snow blower, a scarifier, a sweeper, and so on. Further, other modifications and alterations may be used in the design and manufacture of the sidewalk maintenance vehicle of the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the accompanying claims.