Title:
Automatic loading extractor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides an industrial extractor (10) comprising a chassis (12) to which a cylindrical drum (14) is rotatably mounted. A pair of sliding doors (24, 26) are incorporated into the drum's (14) cylindrical structure thereby providing access to the drum (14) through its periphery. To load the extractor (10) with laundry, the sliding doors (24, 26) am actuated to provide an opening at the top of the drum (14). The doors (24, 26) are actuated via in interconnected series of levers (36, 38), plates (28, 30) and linkages (48, 50). The laundry is then dropped from a conveyor or chute into the drum (14) without having to tilt or pivot the drum (14). Once loaded, the doors (24, 26) are automatically closed and a locking assembly (60) engages the door (24, 26) to prevent them from inadvertently opening. Once the items are laundered and the drum (14) stops rotating, the drum (14) is pivotally rotated in a forward direction such that its axis (x) of rotation extends diagonally as opposed to horizontally. An unloading door (18) positioned on the front of the extractor (10) is then automatically opened and the items are permitted to fall out of the drum (14) via gravity and manual assistance. Once emptied, the drum (14) is pivotally rotated back to its operating position where it may then be re-loaded and run through another cleaning cycle.



Inventors:
Duffy, Gregory J. (Baldwinsville, NY, US)
Thomas Jr., Ronald J. (Jamesville, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/483102
Publication Date:
04/14/2005
Filing Date:
02/14/2002
Assignee:
DUFFY GREGORY J.
THOMAS JR RONALD J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
68/196, 68/23R
International Classes:
D06F35/00; D06F37/10; D06F95/00; (IPC1-7): D06F35/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
STINSON, FRANKIE L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pastel Law Firm (Ithaca, NY, US)
Claims:
1. An industrial extractor, comprising: a. a chassis; b. a drum interconnected to said chassis for rotation about a first longitudinal axis; and c. a door for providing access to said drum, extending in a first plane that is parallel to said first longitudinal axis.

2. The industrial extractor of claim 1, further comprising means for moving said door between open and closed positions.

3. The industrial extractor of claim 2, wherein said means for moving said door comprises: a. a first plate attached to said door and extending in a second plane that is perpendicular to said first plane in which said door extends; b. a first rod extending along a second longitudinal axis that is parallel to said first longitudinal axis and having first and second ends, and attached at said first end to said first plate and extending perpendicularly outward therefrom; c. a lever attached to said second end of said first rod; and d. means for pivotally moving said lever about said second longitudinal axis.

4. The industrial extractor of claim 3, wherein said means for pivotally moving said lever comprises: a. a second plate extending in a third plane that is parallel to said second plane; b. a second rod extending along a third longitudinal axis and interconnecting said second plate to said lever; c. first and second knobs attached to said second plate and extending perpendicularly outward therefrom and positioned in straddling relation to said lever; d. a piston and cylinder member, said cylinder being selectively, longitudinally movable along a fourth longitudinal axis and interconnected to said second plate, whereby said selective longitudinal movement of said cylinder effects rotational movement of said second plate about said third longitudinal axis, thereby causing either of said first and second knobs to engage and rotate said lever about said second longitudinal axis, thereby effecting rotation of said first rod about its second longitudinal axis and movement of said door in a corresponding rotational direction.

5. The industrial extractor of claim 1, further comprising means for locking said door in a closed position.

6. The industrial extractor of claim 5, wherein said means for locking said door comprise: a. a pin extending along a second longitudinal axis that is parallel to said first longitudinal axis, and selectively moveable into and out of engagement with said door; and b. a piston and cylinder member interconnected to said pin and being selectively actuable to move said pin into and out of engagement with said door.

7. A method for loading an industrial extractor having a chassis and a drum that is rotatable about a first longitudinal axis, comprising the steps of: a. positioning said extractor in its operating position, wherein said first longitudinal axis extends horizontally; b. opening a first door in a plane that extends parallel to said first longitudinal axis; and c. dropping items to be laundered through the opening created by the opening of said door.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF TH INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to industrial washers and dryers, and more particularly to the loading structure and process for such washers and dryers.

2. Description of Prior Art

Industrial washers or extractors are large machines used in industrial operations that have a need for frequent washing of large quantities of clothes, linens, or other fabrics, such as a hotel. The extractors generally comprise a chassis to which a rotating drum is mounted. The drum is generally on the magnitude of 65 inches in diameter, and the extractor units are about 88 inches wide, 95 inches deep, and 105 inches high, and weigh on the magnitude of 21,000 pounds. Thus, these units require a large amount of square footage for operation.

The drums are designed to rotate about a horizontally extending axis, and include a door which extends in a vertical plane when the unit is in its operating position. The units are typically loaded and unloaded through this door. To load the units, the drum is generally pivoted rearwardly via pneumatic or hydraulic pistons and cylinders such that the door is facing upwardly. A conveyor, chute, or other loading device is then actuated to drop the clothes (or other fabrics to be washed) through the upwardly facing opening. The door is then automatically closed and locked, and the unit pivoted back to its operating position.

To unload a unit, it is pivoted via the pneumatic/hydraulic pistons and cylinders to a position in which the door is facing downwardly. A basket or other container is positioned beneath the door which is then opened, thereby permitting the clothes (or other fabrics) to fall out of the drum via gravity and into the container. Once emptied, the unit is pivoted back to its operating position.

Due to the large size of these units and the fact that they must be pivoted both in a forward and a rearward direction to be loaded and unloaded, respectively, they must be mounted in a space that provides enough room for this full range of motion. In addition, the processing time for a load of laundry is increased as a consequence of the unit having to go through its pivoting operations in order to be loaded and unloaded. Moreover, many industrial operations do not have sufficient space for a suitable extractor to operate. Therefore, the operation must either implement a smaller extractor or contract with a service provider for the washing services.

3. Objects and Advantages

It is therefore a principal object and advantage of the present invention to provide an industrial extractor that uses a minimal amount of space to operate.

It is a further object and advantage of the present invention to provide an industrial extractor that decreases processing time.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will in part be obvious, and in part appear hereinafter.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the forgoing objects and advantages, the present invention provides an industrial extractor comprising a chassis to which a cylindrical drum is rotatably mounted. A pair of sliding doors are incorporated into the drum's cylindrical wall structure, thereby providing access to the drum through its periphery. To load the extractor with laundry, the sliding doors are actuated to provide an opening at the top of the drum. The laundry is then dropped from a conveyor or chute into the drum without having to tilt or pivot the drum.

To actuate the doors, a series of levers and linkages are employed. Each door includes a plate fixedly mounted thereto and extending perpendicularly downward therefrom. A rod fixedly extends between the door's plate and a first lever positioned outside the drum. The first lever is pivotally movable about an axis that extends through an actuating assembly. The actuating assembly comprises a pneumatic or hydraulic piston and cylinder arrangement wherein the end of the piston is fixedly attached to one end of a second lever. The opposite end of the second lever is fixedly secured to an intermediate plate which moves in response to actuation of the piston. Second and third rods are attached to the intermediate plate and move therewith. The second and third rods are positioned on opposite side of the first lever and one of them engages the first lever when the second plate is moved via the piston and cylinder arrangement. The first lever, in turn, pivots about its axis in response to the movement transferred thereto through the second or third rod (and associated actuating assembly). The pivotal motion of the first lever is then translated to the doors, thereby either opening or closing the doors to the drum.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be more fully understood and appreciated by reading the following Detailed Description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an automatic loading extractor;

FIG. 1a is a perspective view of select portions thereof;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the mechanisms for controlling movement of the loading doors;

FIG. 3 is another perspective view thereof;

FIG. 4 is another perspective view thereof;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view thereof;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the loading door locking assembly;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view thereof; and

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view thereof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings, in which like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout, there is seen in FIG. 1 an industrial extractor (laundry machine) designated generally by reference numeral 10. Extractor 10 generally comprises a rigid chassis (or framework) 12, a drum housing 14 (in which a drum, not shown, is concentrically mounted) mounted to chassis 12 for permitting rotation of the drum about its longitudinal, horizontally extending axis X-X, a loading door assembly, designated generally by reference numeral 16, for providing access to the interior of drum 14 and extending in a plane that is parallel to longitudinal axis X-X, an unloading door 18 mounted to the front of drum 14 and extending in a plane that is transverse to longitudinal axis X-X, a housing 20 for the drum movement control apparatus (that will be disclosed in greater detail hereinafter) positioned adjacent the rear of drum 14, and an electric control panel 22 for controlling operation of extractor 10 mounted to chassis 12.

The present invention is predominantly focused on the structure and method that permits drum 14 to be loaded without having to be pivoted. To accomplish this function, extractor 10 is provided with a pair of doors 24, 26 slidably incorporated into the cylindrical wall of the drum mounted within drum housing 14. Doors 24 and 26 extend in planes that are parallel to longitudinal axis X-X, and are slidably movable toward and away from one another about an axis that extends coincident with or parallel to longitudinal axis X-X. A series of plates, rods, and levers, that will be described in greater detail hereinafter, ultimately powered by a motor (not shown) provide the actuating means for doors 24, 26. It should be understood that the present invention could work with only a single door, as opposed to the preferred embodiment using a pair of doors.

Referring to FIGS. 2-5, plates 24, 26 each include an essentially triangularly shaped plate 28, 30, respectively, attached to their rear edges and extending perpendicularly downwardly therefrom. Plates 28, 30 extend in a common plane that is spaced from and essentially parallel to unloading door 18. Shafts 32, 34 extend along longitudinal axes that are parallel to longitudinal axis X-X and are securely attached to plates 28, 30, respectively, adjacent their vertices, and extend perpendicularly rearwardly therefrom. The opposing ends of shafts 32, 34 are securely attached to the end of levers 36, 38, respectively, from which they extend perpendicularly forward. Levers 36, 38 are selectively pivotal about the longitudinal axes which extend through shafts 32, 34, thereby providing the rotational force that is transferred to doors 24, 26 through shafts 32, 34, and plates 28, 30, as will be explained in greater detail hereinafter.

A pair of piston and cylinder members 40, 42 are interconnected to plates 44, 46, respectively, by links 48, 50, respectively. One end of links 48, 50 attach to the ends of the pistons and their opposite ends attach to knobs 51, 53 which interconnect the links to plates 46, 48. Plates 44, 46 each include a pair of rods 52, 54 and 56, 58, respectively, extending perpendicularly forward therefrom. Rods 52, 54 and 56, 58 extend in straddling relation to the terminal end of levers 36, 38, respectively (the end opposite to which shafts 32, 34 are attached). Upon actuation of piston and cylinder members 40, 42, the pistons will retract into or project outward from the cylinders, thereby causing links 48, 50 to ultimately translate rotational motion to plates 44, 46, respectively, in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

The rotational motion experienced by plates 44, 46 in reaction to the actuation of piston and cylinder members 40, 42 causes rod sets 52, 54 and 56, 58 to correspondingly move, and rod 52 or 54 and rod 56 or 58 will engage levers 36 and 38, respectively. The engagement of levers 36 and 38 caused by rods 52 or 54 and 56 or 58, respectively, causes levers 36 and 38 to rotate about the longitudinal axis of shafts 32 and 34, respectively. Due to the secure interconnection of levers 36 and 38 to plates 28 and 30, respectively, by shafts 32 and 34, and the secure connection between plates 28 and 30 to doors 24 and 26, the movement that began with actuation of piston and cylinder members 40 and 42 is ultimately translated to doors 24 and 26, respectively, causing them to slide toward or away from one another.

After being filled with items to be laundered, doors 24 and 26 must be locked in their closed positions in order to prevent their inadvertent opening during the cleaning process. A locking assembly, designated generally by reference numeral 60, is electrically actuated to lock doors 24 and 26 in their closed positions prior to beginning the cleaning process. Locking assembly 60 generally comprises pins 62, 64 that engage pin catch bushings 63, 65, respectively, that extend into and are mounted to openings formed through plates 28, 30, respectively, plates 66, 68 to which pins 62, 64 are securely connected via nuts 67, 69, respectively; a piston and cylinder member 71, and a plate 70 attached to the end of the piston and positioned to engage and effect movement of pins 62 and 64 along their respective longitudinal axes in response to the retraction or extension of the piston into and out of the cylinder. Pins 62 and 64 are actually situated within front and rear bushing pairs, 73, 75 and 77, 79, respectively, and are biased towards pin catch bushings 63, 65 by springs 81, 83, respectively, which are also captive within the front and rear bushing pairs 73, 75 and 77, 79, respectively. Because the entire locling door assembly 60 rotates with the drum during its operation, it is important that the parts accurately align. To assist in the accurate alignment of parts, a pair of guide rods 85 and 87 are connected to plates 28 and 30, respectively, and guide the sliding movement of plates 66 and 68, respectively.

To effect its locking operation, piston and cylinder member 71 receives an electrical signal originating from electric control panel 22, thereby actuating the piston to extend outward from the cylinder. Plate 70 engages rear bushings 75 and 79, which in turn force pins 62 and 64 into engagement with pin catch bushings 63 and 65 (and hence with plates 28 and 30), respectively, which prevent the doors from separating.

To effect an unlocking operation and permit doors 24 and 26 to open, an electric signal is sent to piston and cylinder member 69 to retract the piston into the cylinder. This draws plate 70 rearwardly and it engages plates 66 and 68 and correspondingly pulls them rearwardly. Plates 66 and 68, in turn, draw pins 62 and 64 out of engagement with pin catch bushings 63 and 65 (and hence, plates 28 and 30). Doors 24 and 26 are then free to open.

In operation, extractor 10 is positioned in its operating position with unloading door extending in a vertical plane and longitudinal axis X-X extending horizontally. Locking assembly 60 is actuated to unlock doors 24 and 26. An electrical signal is then sent from control panel 22 to piston and cylinder members 40 and 42 actuating the pistons to retract towards the cylinders. The retraction of these pistons ultimately translates to the rotational motion needed to slide doors 24 and 26 away from one another in accordance with the teachings described hereinabove. Items to be laundered are then dropped via a conveyor, chute or other conventional mechanism into drum 14 through the opening created by doors 24 and 26. Once loaded with items, electric control panel 20 causes an electrical signal to be sent to piston and cylinder members 40 and 42, ultimately effecting the closure of doors 24 and 26. Locking assembly 60 then receives an electrical signal to lock doors 24 and 26, and the washing cycle begins in the conventional manner. Once the washing cycle is complete, drum 14 is pivoted forward and unloading door 18 is opened, thereby permitting the laundered items to fall freely out of drum 14. This unloading operation is conventional. Once emptied drum 14 may then be pivoted back to its operating position.