Title:
Wheel track rut filler and compactor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A farm implement for replacing displaced earth into a wheel track rut includes a pair of blades and a rotatable auger carried by a frame which is moved over and along a rut. The blades scrape displaced earth laterally toward and into the rut, and the auger discharges the scraped earth to the rear of the frame. A weighted wheel pulled behind the frame compacts the discharged earth and stabilizes the frame against unwanted transverse movement.



Inventors:
Coffey, William G. (Richfield, ID, US)
Application Number:
11/029323
Publication Date:
06/02/2005
Filing Date:
01/04/2005
Assignee:
COFFEY WILLIAM G.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
37/350
International Classes:
E02F5/22; (IPC1-7): E02F5/22
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090188136TOOL FOR PUSHING SNOWJuly, 2009Westman
20080000208Cutter head with multiple mounts, bushing assembly and/or cooler assemblyJanuary, 2008Edwards
20090158624TRENCHER CONTROL SYSTEMJune, 2009Hartwick
20040111927Tip and adapter assemblyJune, 2004Livesay et al.
20080298755Communications Ducting System and Method of Laying SameDecember, 2008Caplan et al.
20050126051Material pusher with improved structureJune, 2005Fatemi
20080075534Ground engaging system for a machineMarch, 2008Stern
20050188568Grappling arm assembly with latching meansSeptember, 2005Clapper Jr.
20100064554THREE POSITION WING FOR SNOWPLOWMarch, 2010Ropog
20100095562BUCKET DOORS USED IN LARGE MECHANICAL SHOVELSApril, 2010Medel et al.
20090095389TIRE SYSTEM FOR AN OFF-HIGHWAY MACHINEApril, 2009Moyna et al.



Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, CHRISTOPHER J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THORPE NORTH & WESTERN, LLP. (SANDY, UT, US)
Claims:
1. A farm implement for replacing displaced earth into a rut, comprising: a. a primary frame, configured to move over the displaced earth and over the rut, and including a coupler configured to attach to a prime mover; b. a pair of blades mounted to the frame in a converging pattern and configured to ride along a surface at ground level and having a front opening and a rear opening between the blades wherein the front opening is wider than the rear opening, whereby forward motion of the blades scrapes the displaced earth towards an area between the blades and into the rut; c. a compactor coupled to the frame behind the blades and configured to flatten and compact displaced earth residing above the rut.

2. The farm implement of claim 1, further comprising: a. An auger rotatably mounted to the frame substantially between the blades and configured to attach to a drive source to rotate the auger whereby rotation of the auger discharges the displaced earth from the rear opening.

3. The farm implement of claim 1, wherein the compactor is coupled to the frame in a following position behind the auger and configured to stabilize the frame against transverse movement to substantially maintain the auger's position within the rut.

4. The farm implement of claim 1, further comprising: a. a transverse scraping blade, mounted laterally across the frame and positioned above the auger.

5. The farm implement of claim 1, further comprising: a. a secondary frame, removably coupled to the frame, configured to pivot between a raised position and a lower position; and b. a weighted drum, pivotally coupled to the trailer frame, configured to roll along the ground when the trailer frame is in the lower position.

6. The farm implement of claim 1, further comprising: a. a plate pivotally coupled to the secondary frame, configured to pivot between a raised position and a lower position, wherein the plate will drag along the ground when in the lower position.

7. The farm implement of claim 1, wherein the pair of blades is mounted to the frame in an open V pattern.

8. The farm implement of claim 1, wherein the coupler comprises a three-point hitch.

9. The farm implement of claim 1, further comprising a drive source operatively coupled to the auger and configured to rotate the auger.

10. The farm implement of claim 7, wherein the drive source comprises a hydraulic motor configured to connect to a hydraulic system of the prime mover.

11. The farm implement of claim 7, wherein the drive source comprises a coupling configured to connect to a power takeoff of the prime mover.

12. The farm implement of claim 1, further comprising at least one coulter attached to the frame and operationally configurable to slice vegetation on at least one side of the rut.

13. The farm implement of claim 1, further comprising a guide wheel cooperating with the frame and configurable to ride within the rut whereby the frame is maintained centered over the rut.

14. The farm implement of claim 1, further comprising: a. a guide wheel cooperating with the frame and configurable to ride within the rut and travel vertically to adjust to a depth of the rut; and b. a fill hopper mounted to the frame and having a controllable discharge orifice operatively coupled to the guide wheel so that the guide wheel affects a size of the discharge orifice based on the depth of the rut.

15. The farm implement of claim 1, further comprising a pair of carriage wheels rotatably attached to the frame and configurable to support the frame at a position with respect to the ground level.

16. The farm implement of claim 13, wherein the carriage wheels are retractable.

17. A farm implement for restoring a rutted field to an original ground level by replacing displaced earth into a rut comprising: a. a frame, including a coupler configured to attach to a prime mover; b. a pair of blades attached to the frame and operationally positionable at each side of the rut and having a bottom edge of each blade positionable at substantially the original ground level and angled to force the displaced earth laterally towards and into the rut; c. a weighted drum, rotatably coupled to the frame, configured to roll along the ground behind the auger.

18. The farm implement of claim 17, further comprising: a. An auger rotatably attached to the frame between the blades and operationally poistionable to sit marginally above the original ground level and configured to attach to a drive source to rotate the auger to force displaced earth rearward.

19. A wheel track rut leveler comprising: a. frame means for providing supporting structure which may be pushed or pulled along and over a rut; b. scraping means for moving displaced earth laterally with respect to a preferred direction of travel toward and into the rut, attached to the frame means; and c. rotating auger means for leveling and discharging the displaced earth rearward with respect to the preferred direction of travel, rotatably attached to the frame means and positioned within the scraping means; and d. means for stabilizing the frame against lateral movement to substantially maintain the auger's position within the rut, rotatably attached to the frame and positioned behind the auger.

20. A method for restoring a rutted field to an original ground level by replacing displaced earth into a rut, comprising the steps of: a. positioning a pair of blades on each side of the rut and at an angle from the rut; b. moving the pair of blades forward along the rut so that the displaced earth is scraped laterally toward and into the rut; and c. mechanically forcing earth rearward from between the pair of blades; and d. rolling a weighted barrel over the displaced earth so that the top of the rut is substantially planar with surrounding earth.

Description:

This application is a continuation-in-part of presently pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/641,367, filed Aug. 13, 2003, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to wheeled irrigation systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to refilling the ruts created by the wheels of an irrigation system.

2. Related Art

Mobile irrigation systems are often used to irrigate large fields. A mobile irrigation system consists of a long feed pipe fed with water at one end and distributing water to numerous sprinkler heads. The feed pipe and sprinklers are supported by a wheeled structure that is slowly moved across the field by a motor. One particular type of mobile sprinkler system is known as a pivot irrigation system. In a pivot irrigation system, a well or other source of water at the center of the field provides water to the feed pipe. The pivot irrigation system rotates around this center, irrigating a circular field region.

Repeated travel of the irrigation system wheels in the same track creates wheel track ruts in the field. Earth is displaced by the wheels and builds up beside the rut. Additionally, the soil within the rut can become compacted by the weight of the irrigation system. Because it is typically wet under the irrigation system, displaced earth and compacted soil may dry to form hard clumps. Over time, the ruts can also become quite deep, sometimes more than 12 inches deep.

Wheel track ruts can cause numerous problems with farming a field. For example, the ruts can undesirably channel and redirect irrigation water. Driving harvesting equipment across the ruts can cause damage such as broken springs or axles. Plowing across the ruts can result in irregular cultivation and damage to farm equipment. To address some of these problems, pivot irrigated fields are typically worked in a circular pattern to ensure uniform cultivation. Plowing in circles, however, is inefficient, and the danger presented when necessarily crossing the ruts to reach centermost portions of the field remains.

Numerous approaches to solve the problems created by wheel track ruts have been attempted. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,427,781 issued to Buhler and U.S. Pat. No. 4,059,911 issued to Bean disclose devices which may be attached to the irrigation system to push displaced earth back into the rut as the irrigation system moves around the field. Added resistance from these devices unfortunately requires additional drive power from the motor that moves the irrigation system about the field. Additionally, each wheel of the irrigation system must be configured with one of these devices. Alternately, a tractor with a scraping implement may be used to level the ruts. The combination of deep ruts, waterlogged soil, and vegetation has, however, proven challenging. Known scraping implements are designed for different objectives and have performed poorly when used in an attempt to fill wheel track ruts.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It has been recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a wheel track rut filler which is particularly adapted for filling wheel track ruts and can be used to restore a field to its original level surface.

The invention provides a farm implement for replacing displaced earth into a rut. The farm implement includes a frame that may be attached to a prime mover and moved over the rut. The farm implement may include a pair of blades mounted to the frame and angled to scrape earth laterally towards the rut. The farm implement may include an auger rotatably mounted to the frame between the blades and oriented to discharge earth to the rear of the farm implement. The farm implement may also include means for stabilizing the frame against transverse movement to prevent the auger from bouncing out of the rut.

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the detailed description which follows, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which together illustrate, by way of example, features of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a wheel track rut filler with a transverse stabilizer in a lower position viewed from near the front in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a wheel track rut filler with a transverse stabilizer in a raised position viewed from near the front in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a wheel track rut filler viewed from near the rear in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is side plan view of a wheel track rut filler in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is side plan view of a wheel track rut filler in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiments illustrated in the drawings, and specific language will be used herein to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and additional applications of the principles of the inventions as illustrated herein, which would occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, a wheel track rut filler in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention is indicated generally at 100. The wheel track rut filler 100 may include a primary frame 102, a pair of blades 104, an auger 106, a transverse scraping blade 130, a secondary frame 150, and a weighted drum 154. The primary frame 102 may include a coupler 108 for attachment to a prime mover, such as a tractor. The coupler is shown in the form of a three-point hitch, although other couplers for attachment to different types of prime movers will be known to one skilled in the art.

The blades 104 are attached to the primary frame. The blades are mounted at an angle with respect to the direction of travel, creating a wider opening in the front and a narrower opening in the rear. The blades may be permanently attached to the primary frame 102 or may be removably mounted with various fasteners. Preferably, the blades are installed with a removable blade edge 110 at the bottom which can be replaced or sharpened.

The auger 106 is rotatably attached to the primary frame, for example, with bearings 112. The auger is rotated by a drive source, for example, a hydraulic motor 114. The hydraulic motor can be driven by tractor hydraulics. Alternately, the auger may be coupled to a tractor power takeoff. Other methods of rotating the auger will occur to one skilled in the art. The rotation and pitch of the auger are selected so the auger will force material to the rear of the wheel track rut filler 100.

The wheel track rut filler 100 may be pushed or pulled by a prime mover. For example, when pulled by tractor, the tractor and wheel track rut filler may be positioned to straddle the rut. The tractor three-point hitch may be used to adjust the wheel track rut filler to place the blade edge 110 at the original ground level. As the tractor pulls the wheel track rut filler along the rut, the blades scrape displaced earth laterally towards and into the rut. The auger 106 smooths the replaced earth and helps to move earth to the rear of the wheel track rut filler. The auger also helps to break up dirt clods that are caught between the blades. By positioning the auger slightly above the original ground level, a slight berm may be left where the rut was.

The transverse blade 130 can be removably attached to the rear 132 of the primary frame 102, above the auger 106. As the auger displaces earth, the transverse blade can scrape and flatten the top of any berm left by the auger. Thus, the transverse blade can help in redistributing the displaced dirt into a flat surface. Additionally, the transverse blade can prevent large dirt clods from escaping the primary frame unbroken by forcing the clods back into the auger, rather than allowing them to escape out the back of the primary frame.

The secondary frame 150 can be pivotally attached to the rear 132 of the primary frame 102 to allow vertical displacement while restraining the drum against transverse movement. The weighted drum 154 can be rotatably coupled on an axle to the secondary frame. The secondary frame can be pivoted between a raised position and a lower position by an actuator, for example, a hydraulic piston 152. Other suitable methods of pivoting the secondary frame will occur to one skilled in the art.

The weighted drum 154 can be filled with a displaceable material 156 to provide the weight necessary to achieve the stabilizing and compacting forces on the wheel track rut filler 10. The displaceable material can be a suitable aggregate material such as sand or gravel, or the displaceable material could be a liquid, such as water. Other suitable displaceable materials may be used, as known to those skilled in the art. The amount of displaceable material used in the weighted drum can be varied to allow the weighted drum to have different weights. Thus, the weight of the weighted drum can be varied to accommodate differing environmental conditions at the time of use, such as size of the wheel rut, soil conditions, and speed of the prime mover.

When the secondary frame 150 is in the lower position, as shown in FIG. 1, the weighted drum 154 can roll along the ground behind the auger 106. As the weighted drum is pulled behind the primary frame 102, the weighted drum can provide drag on the primary frame which stabilizes the primary frame against transverse movement and minimizes the possibility of the auger bouncing out of the rut. Additionally, the weighted drum can compact the slight berm back to the original ground level as the weighted drum is pulled behind the auger.

FIG. 2 illustrates the secondary frame 150 in the raised position. In the raised position the weighted drum 154 can remain above the ground, but can still provide a stabilizing weight to the primary frame 102 to minimize transverse movement. However, any berm left by the auger 106 will not be compacted to the original ground level.

The wheel track rut filler 100 may also be equipped with various accessories, such as a guide wheel, coulters, fill hopper, or carriage wheels. FIG. 3 illustrates a wheel track rut filler equipped with a guide wheel 116 and coulters 118 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The guide wheel is attached to the primary frame 102 and positioned forward of the blades 104 to ride within the rut to help keep the primary frame centered over the rut. The coulters may be positioned to cut slightly into the surface of the earth to separate vegetation that has grown into the area adjacent to the wheel track rut. Coulters may prove particularly helpful when refilling ruts before harvest where the vegetation is heavy or viny by preventing excessive damage to crops. Preferably, the guide wheel and coulters are attached to the primary frame in such a way that they may be adjusted. Possible attachments include bolting and fixing with a hitch pin. Various methods of attaching the guide wheel and coulters to the primary frame will be apparent to one skilled in the art.

FIG. 4 illustrates a side view of a wheel track rut filler 100 equipped with a fill hopper 120 and carriage wheels 122 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The carriage wheels are positioned to hold the blade edge 110 at the original ground level 140. For deep wheel track ruts, it may be necessary to add fill material to completely fill the rut. The fill hopper may be loaded with a fill material, for example, sand. The fill hopper has an orifice 126 located in line with the guide wheel 116 so that material discharged from orifice will enter the rut. An orifice control 124 controls the rate of discharge of material from the fill hopper. The orifice control is connected by a connecting rod 128 to the guide wheel. The guide wheel rides in the rut, and thus extends below the original ground level 140. When the guide wheel drops into a deeper portion of the rut, the connecting rod will cause the orifice control to open wider discharging additional fill into the rut. Preferably, the connecting rod is adjustable so that the rate of discharge relative to the guide wheel position can be varied by the user.

Carriage wheels 122 can be rotatably mounted to each side of the frame to provide additional stability for the frame. Preferably, when using a fill hopper, the primary frame 102 will be equipped with carriage wheels to prevent overturning. Optionally, the carriage wheels may be mounted to a rotating sub-frame assembly so that they can be retracted.

FIG. 5 illustrates FIG. 4 illustrates a side view of a wheel track rut filler 100 equipped with a fill hopper 120, carriage wheels 122, and a plate compactor 164 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The plate compactor 166 can be pivotally attached to the rear 132 of the frame 102 to allow vertical displacement while restraining the plate compactor against transverse movement. The plate compactor can be pivoted between a raised position and a lower position by an actuator, for example, a hydraulic piston 160. Other suitable methods of pivoting the plate compactor will occur to one skilled in the art.

When the plate compactor 166 is in the lower position, as shown in FIG. 5, the plate compactor can drag along the ground 140 behind the auger 106. Additionally, the plate compactor can compact the slight berm left by the auger back to the original ground level as the plate compactor is pulled behind the auger. In the raised position the plate compactor can remain above the ground, however, any berm left by the auger will not be compacted to the original ground level.

A wheel track rut filler 100 may be operated in the configuration shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, or may be equipped with any combination of the accessories as shown in FIG. 3, 4 or 5.

By using the disclosed invention to fill wheel track ruts, farm fields may be worked more efficiently and evenly. Rather than plowing the fields to avoid the wheel track ruts, the wheel track ruts may be filled and the field plowed in a more efficient straight pattern. By filling the wheel track ruts before harvest, less stress will be placed on harvesting equipment.

It is to be understood that the above-referenced arrangements are illustrative of the application for the principles of the present invention. Numerous modifications and alternative arrangements can be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention while the present invention has been shown in the drawings and described above in connection with the exemplary embodiments(s) of the invention. It will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications can be made without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention as set forth in the claims.