Title:
Excavating lip-mounted adapter and associated connection and shielding apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Various embodiments of an excavating bucket are provided in which a spaced series of excavating tooth adapters are secured to a front edge of a lip portion of the bucket by welding opposite side ear portions of the adapters into complementarily shaped front edge recesses in the lip to thereby substantially strengthen the adapter/lip weld joints. Each adapter is configured in a manner such that no portion thereof extends rearwardly along the bottom side of the lip, thereby desirably reducing the vertical thickness of each adapter. Front lip edge protectors may be interdigitated with the adapters and suitably secured to the lip in a variety of manners, and replaceable tooth points are removably secured to front nose portions of the adapters.



Inventors:
Robinson, Howard W. (Grapevine, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/744124
Publication Date:
06/23/2005
Filing Date:
12/23/2003
Assignee:
ROBINSON HOWARD W.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02F9/28; (IPC1-7): E02F9/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BEACH, THOMAS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SMITH IP SERVICES, P.C. (Rockwall, TX, US)
Claims:
1. Excavating apparatus comprising: a lip having a top side, a bottom side and a front edge; a wear member having a body longitudinally extending transversely to said front edge and having a top portion extending rearwardly along said top side, and a front portion extending forwardly beyond said front edge; and cooperating mounting portions on said lip and said wear member disposed laterally outwardly of said wear member body and between said top and bottom sides of said lip, said cooperating mounting portions overlapping in a front-to-rear direction and being fixedly secured to one another.

2. The excavating apparatus of claim 1 wherein: said cooperating mounting portions comprise a side projection formed on said wear member, and a recess extending rearwardly through said front edge of said lip and receiving said side projection.

3. The excavating apparatus of claim 1 wherein: said cooperating mounting portions are welded to one another along a front weld area.

4. The excavating apparatus of claim 3 wherein: no portion of said front weld area appreciably projects upwardly past said top side of said lip.

5. The excavating apparatus of claim 3 wherein: said cooperating mounting portions include a side projection formed on said wear member, and said front weld area has a forwardly facing surface portion shielded by a portion of said side projection.

6. The excavating apparatus of claim 3 wherein: said front weld area has a forwardly facing surface portion, and said excavating apparatus further comprises a lip protector secured to said front edge of said lip laterally adjacent said wear member and shielding said forwardly facing surface portion of said weld area.

7. The excavating apparatus of claim 1 wherein: said cooperating mounting portions are welded to one another along a front weld area extending laterally outwardly from said wear member adjacent said front edge of said lip.

8. The excavating apparatus of claim 1 wherein: said excavating apparatus is an excavating bucket.

9. The excavating apparatus of claim 1 wherein: said wear member is an adapter, and said front portion of said wear member is an adapter nose.

10. The excavating apparatus of claim 9 further comprising: a replaceable tooth point captively retained on said adapter nose.

11. The excavating apparatus of claim 1 wherein: no appreciable portion of said wear member extends rearwardly beneath said bottom side of said lip.

12. The excavating apparatus of claim 11 further comprising: a lip protector secured to said front edge of said lip laterally adjacent said wear member and rearwardly extending along said bottom side of said lip beneath said top portion of said wear member.

13. The excavating apparatus of claim 2 wherein: said front edge of said lip has a downwardly and forwardly sloped top side portion, and said cooperating mounting portions are welded to one another along a weld area which extends forwardly along said downwardly and forwardly sloped top side portion of said front edge of said lip.

14. Excavating apparatus comprising: an excavating lip structure having a top side and a front edge portion with a notched area extending rearwardly therethrough; and a wear member projecting forwardly beyond said front edge portion, said wear member having a top portion extending rearwardly along said top side of said lip structure, and a pair of opposite side projections complementarily received and welded within said notched area.

15. The excavating apparatus of claim 14 wherein: said notched area has a generally semicircular configuration.

16. The excavating apparatus of claim 14 wherein; said notched area and said opposite side projections are welded to one another along a weld area disposed between said top and bottom sides of said lip and laterally offset from opposite sides of said wear member.

17. The excavating apparatus of claim 16 wherein: said wear member is an adapter having a nose portion projecting forwardly beyond said front edge portion of said lip, and said excavating apparatus further comprises a replaceable tooth point captively retained on said adapter nose.

18. The excavating apparatus of claim 14 wherein: said excavating apparatus is an excavating bucket.

19. The excavating apparatus of claim 14 wherein: no appreciable portion of said wear member extends rearwardly beneath said bottom side of said lip.

20. The excavating apparatus of claim 19 further comprising: first and second lip protectors secured to said front edge of said lip laterally adjacent opposite sides of said wear member and rearwardly extending along said bottom side of said lip.

21. A wear member for an excavating bucket or the like, comprising: an elongated body having a nose portion from which only a top leg rearwardly extends in a longitudinal direction; and a pair of mounting ears extending laterally outwardly from a lower side portion of said top leg adjacent its juncture with said nose portion.

22. The wear member of claim 21 wherein: said wear member is an adapter.

23. The wear member of claim 21 wherein: said mounting ears have arcuate rear side surfaces.

24. The wear member of claim 21 wherein: said mounting ears having downwardly and forwardly sloped top side surfaces on front portions thereof.

25. The wear member of claim 21 wherein: said mounting ears have generally planar top side surfaces and generally planar front side surfaces transverse to said top side surfaces.

26. The wear member of claim 21 wherein: each mounting ear has a forwardly projecting front portion that laterally outwardly projects past the balance of such mounting ear.

27. The wear member of claim 21 wherein: each mounting ear has laterally outwardly and downwardly sloped laterally outer side surface portions.

28. Excavating apparatus comprising: a lip having a top side, a bottom side and a front edge having a length; a plurality of wear members spaced apart along the length of said front edge, each wear member having a body longitudinally extending transversely to said front edge and having a top portion extending rearwardly along said top side, and a front portion extending forwardly beyond said front edge; cooperating mounting portions on said lip and said wear members disposed laterally outwardly of opposite sides of each wear member body and between said top and bottom sides of said lip, the cooperating mounting portions at each wear member overlapping in a front-to-rear direction and being fixedly secured to one another; a plurality of lip protectors inderdigitated with said wear members along said front edge of said lip; and mounting apparatus securing said lip protectors to said lip.

29. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: for each wear member said cooperating mounting portions comprise a pair of opposite side projections formed on the wear member and a recess extending rearwardly through said front edge of said lip and complementarily receiving said side projections.

30. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: at each wear member the associated cooperating mounting portions are welded to one another along a front weld area.

31. The excavating apparatus of claim 30 wherein: at each wear member no portion of its associated front weld area appreciably projects upwardly past said top side of said lip.

32. The excavating apparatus of claim 30 wherein: at each wear member its associated front weld area has a forwardly facing surface portion shielded by portions of said side projections.

33. The excavating apparatus of claim 30 wherein: each of said front weld areas has a forwardly facing surface portion, and the lip protectors on opposite sides of each wear member shield the front weld area.

34. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: at each wear member said cooperating mounting portions are welded to one another along a front weld area extending laterally outwardly from the wear member adjacent said front edge of said lip.

35. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: said excavating apparatus is an excavating bucket.

36. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: said wear members are adapters, and said front portions of said wear members are adapter noses.

37. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: no appreciable portions of said wear members extend rearwardly along said bottom side of said lip.

38. The excavating apparatus of claim 37 wherein: said lip protectors rearwardly extend directly along said bottom side of said lip.

39. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: said mounting apparatus includes weldments secured to said bottom side of said lip and interlocked with rear portions of said lip protectors.

40. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: said mounting apparatus includes telescoped connection portions formed on said lip and said lip protectors and having aligned fastening openings formed therein, and a fastening structure extending through said aligned fastening openings and removably intersecuring said connection portions.

41. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: said lip protectors extend along said bottom side of said lip and having openings therein, said lip has openings aligned with said openings in said lip protectors, and said lip protectors are captively retained on said lip by fastening structures extending upwardly through said aligned lip and lip protector openings.

42. The excavating apparatus of claim 28 wherein: said wear members have underside recesses therein with upper walls with first fastening openings extending upwardly therethrough, said lip protectors have opposite ends with upturned tab portions with outer side recesses therein, tab portions of lip protectors on facing ends of adjacent pairs of lip protectors projecting upwardly into said underside recesses with the facing outer side recesses of each adjacent tab pair forming second fastening openings within the underside recesses in said wear members, and fastening structures extending through said first and second fastening openings and securing said lip protectors to said wear members.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to excavating apparatus and, in representative embodiments thereof, more particularly provides improved excavating tooth adapters and associated techniques for operatively mounting them on the forward lower lip portion of an excavating device such as an excavating bucket.

Large excavating buckets, dippers or the like are typically provided with a spaced series of earth-cutting teeth which are each formed from two primary parts—a relatively large adapter and a relatively small replaceable point. The adapter has a rear base portion which is welded to a front portion of the excavating lip, and a forwardly projecting nose portion onto which the replaceable tooth point is removably secured by a suitable connecting pin or other connecting structure. Additionally, a series of replaceable lip protectors or shields may be interdigitated with the adapters, and suitably secured to the lip, to shield front edge portions of the lip between the adapters from operational abrasion wear.

One conventional type of bucket lip adapter is generally C-shaped and has upper and lower leg portions which respectively extend rearwardly along, and are welded along opposite side edge portions thereof to, top and bottom side portions of the lip. The interdigitated lip protectors extend beneath and shield the rearwardly extending lower adapter leg portions of the spaced adapters. In this conventional adapter/lip protector construction the positioning of portions of the lip protectors beneath the bottom adapter legs thickens the vertical dimension of the toothed excavating lip assembly in a manner undesirably lessening its earth penetration efficiency.

It is also known in the excavating art to utilize a lip adapter configuration in which the lower adapter leg portion is eliminated so that only an upper leg portion of the adapter extends rearwardly along the lip (i.e., an upper side portion thereof) and is surface welded thereto along the edge periphery of the upper adapter leg. While this reduces the vertical thickness of the toothed excavating lip assembly, it undesirably weakens the adapter/lip attachment strength. This is due to the fact that the weld area between the upper adapter leg and the top side of the lip (which provides substantially the entire adapter/lip attachment strength) is oriented in a manner such that the weld area is disposed in an exposed position above the top side of the lip and may be undesirably subjected to high tensile stresses during use of the excavating bucket.

As can readily be seen from the foregoing, a need exists for improved techniques and structures for operatively connecting adapters and associated lip protectors to an excavating lip structure. It is to this need that the present invention is directed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In carrying out principles of the present invention, in accordance with illustrated embodiments thereof, specially designed excavating apparatus is provided which is representatively in the form of an excavating bucket having a blade or lip portion to which a series of wear members are secured in a mutually spaced relationship along the length of the lip. The lip has a top side, a bottom side and a front edge, and the wear members are representatively adapters having forwardly projecting nose portions to which replaceable tooth points may be removably secured, and lip protectors may be secured to the lip in various manners in an interdigitated relationship with the adapters to shield front lip edge portions between the adapters from operational abrasion wear. The adapters have bodies longitudinally extending transversely to the front edge of the lip and top portions extending rearwardly along the top side of the lip.

According to one aspect of the invention, each adapter is secured to the lip by cooperating mounting portions on the lip and the adapter disposed laterally outwardly of the adapter body and between the top and bottom sides of the lip, the cooperating mounting portions overlapping in a front-to-rear direction and being fixedly secured to one another, illustratively by welding. Preferably, the cooperating mounting portions are opposite side projections formed on each adapter and front side edge notches formed in the lip. The side projections or ears on the adapters are complementarily received and welded within the lip notches, which are preferably of semicircular shapes.

These front weld areas which secure the adapters to the lip do not appreciably project above the top side of the lip and, for the most part, are positioned laterally outwardly of their associated adapters. Accordingly, compared to conventional techniques for welding adapters to excavating lips, the present invention provides a stronger weld joint due to the fact that the front weld joints, during use of the bucket, are subjected primarily to shear stress instead of tensile stress, and also provide enhanced attachment strength due to their positioning in a laterally offset relationship with their associated adapters. According to further features of the invention, forwardly facing portions of these front weld areas may be shielded by portions of the adapter connector ears or (if lip protectors are installed) by portions of the lip protectors.

Preferably, no portion of any of the adapters extends rearwardly along the bottom side of the lip. Accordingly, the overall heights of the adapters are reduced, thereby desirably increasing the overall earth penetration efficiency of the bucket. Lip protectors installed between the adapters are illustratively configured to extend directly along the bottom side of the lip. Since the installed lip protectors are extended directly beneath the bottom side of the lip, without any adapter portion being interposed between the underside of the lip and associated lip protectors, the lip protectors may be vertically thicker and are thus desirably provided with longer operating lives since they may be permitted to wear away clear to the underside of the lip before having to be replaced.

According to another aspect of the invention, the lip protectors (if utilized) are operatively installed on the lip in a variety of representative novel manners. Utilizing one lip protector connection technique, telescoped connection portions are formed on the lip and lip protectors and have aligned fastening openings formed therein. A fastening structure extends through these aligned openings and removably intersecures these telescoped connection portions. In a second representative lip protector connection technique embodying principles of the present invention, the lip protectors extend along the bottom side of the lip and have openings therein which are aligned with openings in the lip. The lip protectors are captively retained on the lip by a fastening structure extending through these aligned openings.

In a third representative lip protector connection technique embodying principles of the present invention, the lip protectors extend along bottom sides of the lip and are supportingly interlocked with bottom side weldment structures on the bottom side of the lip. In a fourth representative lip protector connection technique embodying principles of the present invention, the adapters have underside recesses therein with upper walls having first fastening openings extending upwardly therethrough. The lip protectors have opposite ends with upturned tab portions with outer side recesses therein. Tab portions of lip protectors on facing ends of adjacent pairs of lip protectors project upwardly into the adapter underside recesses with the facing outer side recesses of each adjacent tab pair forming second fastening openings within the underside recesses in the adapters. Fastening structures extend through the first and second fastening openings and secure the lip protectors to the adapters.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a simplified, somewhat schematic perspective view of a portion of an excavating bucket embodying principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged scale, somewhat more detailed assembled perspective view of part of a lip portion of the excavating bucket;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the lip portion shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the lip portion shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a left side view of the lip portion shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view through the lip portion taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 4 with the point removed;

FIG. 7 is an assembled perspective view of part of a lip portion of a first alternate embodiment of the FIG. 1 excavating bucket;

FIG. 8 is an exploded perspective view of the FIG. 7 lip portion;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the FIG. 7 lip portion;

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view taken through the FIG. 9 lip portion along line 10-10 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view taken through the FIG. 9 lip portion along line 11-11 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view taken through the FIG. 9 lip portion along line 12-12 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 13 is an assembled perspective view of part of a lip portion of a second alternate embodiment of the FIG. 1 excavating bucket;

FIG. 14 is an exploded perspective view of the FIG. 13 lip portion;

FIG. 15 is a top plan view of the FIG. 13 lip portion;

FIG. 16 is a left side view of the lip portion shown in FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view taken through the FIG. 15 lip portion along line 17-17 of FIG. 15 with the point removed;

FIG. 18 is an assembled perspective view of part of a lip portion of a third alternate embodiment of the FIG. 1 excavating bucket;

FIG. 19 is an exploded perspective view of the FIG. 18 lip portion;

FIG. 20 is a bottom side perspective view of the FIG. 18 lip portion;

FIG. 21 is a cross-sectional view through the FIG. 18 lip portion taken along line 21-21 of FIG. 18;

FIG. 22 is a partially exploded perspective view of part of a lip portion of a fourth alternate embodiment of the FIG. 1 excavating bucket;

FIG. 23 is an enlarged scale perspective view of an adapter removed from the FIG. 22 lip portion; and

FIG. 24 is a cross-sectional view through the FIG. 23 adapter taken along line 24-24 of FIG. 23.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In one embodiment thereof, the present invention provides excavation apparatus representatively in the form of an excavating bucket 10, a portion of which is shown in simplified, partially exploded perspective form in FIG. 1. Bucket 10 has a bottom side wall 12 to a forward edge portion of which an elongated, plate-shaped blade or lip 14 is suitably anchored. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the top side of the lip 14 is substantially planar and forwardly extends to a transverse front edge surface 15 of the lip 14. A spaced series of wear members representatively in the form of adapters 16 are anchored to the lip 14 and have forwardly projecting nose portions 18 to which replaceable excavating tooth points 20 may be removably secured. Lip protector or shield structures 22 are interdigitated with the adapter/point assemblies 16,20 and are removably secured to the lip 14.

According to key aspects thereof, the present invention provides novel attachment structure and apparatus for securing the interdigitated adapters 16 and lip protectors 22 to the lip 14. Portions of five representative embodiments of the bucket 10 are shown—(1) a first embodiment 10 shown in FIGS. 1-6; (2) a second embodiment 10a shown in FIGS. 7-12; (3) a third embodiment 10b shown in FIGS. 13-17; (4) a fourth embodiment 10c shown in FIGS. 18-21; and (5) a fifth embodiment 10d shown in FIGS. 22-24. For ease in comparison of these five excavating bucket embodiments, components in the embodiments 10a-10d similar to those in embodiment 10 have been given identical reference numerals respectively having the subscripts “a”, “b”, “c” and “d”.

Referring initially to FIGS. 1-6, a key feature of the invention, incorporated in all five illustrated embodiments thereof, is the method by which the adapters 16 are secured to the excavating lip 14. Importantly, the installed adapters 16 do not have any portions which underlie and extend rearwardly along the bottom side of the lip 14. This advantageously reduces the vertical thickness of the each adapter 16 to thereby improve the excavation efficiency of the bucket 10. To effect the securement of the adapters 16 to the lip 14, a spaced series of notches 24 (representatively having semi-circular shapes) are formed in the front edge of the lip 14 (see FIGS. 2-4) and complementarily receive outwardly projecting ears 26 formed on horizontally opposite sides of a bottom front portion of each adapter 16. Ears 26 are welded to the lip 14, as at 28, along interior side surface portions of the notches 24, in a manner such that (1) the weld areas 28 do not upwardly project appreciably beyond the top side of the lip 14, and (2) the weld areas 28 are, for the most part spaced laterally outwardly from opposite sides of the elongated body of the adapter 16. The portion of each adapter 16 disposed rearwardly of the weld areas 28 is welded in a conventional manner along its periphery to the top side of the lip 14. As stated previously, this novel adapter-to-lip securement technique is also employed in the bucket embodiment 10a illustrated in FIGS. 7-12; the bucket embodiment 10b illustrated in FIGS. 13-17; the bucket embodiment 10c illustrated in FIGS. 18-21; and the bucket embodiment 10d illustrated in FIGS. 22-24.

While ear portions 26 on the adapters 16 are representatively shown as being received and welded within corresponding notches or recesses 24 in the front edge surface of the lip 14, other forms of cooperating mounting portions on the lip 14 and adapters 16 (disposed laterally outwardly of the adapters and between the top and bottom sides of the lip, interlocked in a forward-to rearward direction and fixedly secured to one another) could be utilized if desired in any of the representatively illustrated bucket embodiments 10-10d. As but one example of this alternative cooperating mounting portion structure embodying principles of the present invention, instead of having portions of the adapters 16 received and welded within notches 24 on the front edge of the lip 14, the front edge of the lip 14 could have horizontally spaced apart front projections which are received and welded within corresponding recesses or notches suitably formed in the adapters.

With continuing reference to the bucket embodiment 10 shown in FIGS. 1-6, each lip protector 22 has a generally flat base portion 30 which underlies the bottom side of the lip 14, and a generally wedge-shape leading edge portion 32 which extends forwardly from the front edge of the lip 14. Each lip protector 22 is removably installed on the lip 14, between an adjacent pair of adapters 16 (prior to the installation of tooth points 20 thereon) by rearwardly moving the protector base 30 beneath the bottom side of the lip 14 until (1) opposite side edge recesses 34 on the base 30 (see FIG. 3) receive opposing side edge portions of a spaced pair of bottom side support weldments 36 on the lip 14 (see FIGS. 4 and 5), and (2) forwardly projecting adapter ear extensions 38 (see FIGS. 2 and 3) enter corresponding recesses 40 on the rear side of the leading lip protector edge portion 32 (see FIGS. 3 and 5).

Next, the hollow tooth points 20 are telescoped onto their associated adapter noses 18 and captives retained thereon by suitable connector pins 42 (see FIG. 5) installed in aligned point and adapter nose openings 44,46 (see FIG. 6). Rearwardly facing lower side surface portions 48 in the installed tooth points 20 (see FIG. 3) forwardly overlie corresponding abutment surfaces 50 on the lip protectors 22, as also shown in FIG. 3, to prevent forward removal of the lip protectors 22 from between the adjacent pairs of adapter/point assemblies 16,20.

As can best be seen in FIGS. 4-6, the installed adapters 16 do not underlie and extend rearwardly along the bottom side of the lip 14, the installed lip protectors 22 are releasably interlocked with the bottom side support weldments 36 and with portions of the adapters 16, and the installed lip protectors 22 are blocked against forward removal by the installed tooth points 20.

In the second representative bucket embodiment 10a shown in FIGS. 7-12, in which the tooth points have been removed and are not illustrated, the previously described adapter ear extensions 38, lip protector recesses 40, and lip protector abutment surfaces 50 are deleted. Between each adjacent pair of adapters 16a a semicircular front edge recess 52 is formed, and a correspondingly shaped metal insert plate 54 (see FIGS. 8 and 10) is welded into place within a lower side portion of the recess 52. A rearwardly projecting securement tab 56 (see FIGS. 7-9) is formed on a rear upper side section of the leading edge portion 32a of the lip protector 22a. When the lip protector 22a is rearwardly moved into place between an adjacent pair of adapters 16a, and interlocks with a pair of the bottom side support weldments 36a on the lip 14a, the tab 56 is complementarily received in the lip recess 52 above the insert plate 54. The received tab 56 is removably anchored in place within the lip recess 52 by a suitable connector pin structure 58 (see FIGS. 7-10) inserted into aligned openings 60,62 respectively formed in the plate 54 and tab 56. The inserted pin 58 thus releasably prevents forward removal from the lip 14a of the installed lip protector 22a.

In the third representative bucket embodiment 10b shown in FIGS. 13-17, each lip protector 22b is again provided with the previously described forward abutment surfaces 50b which rearwardly overlie corresponding blocking surfaces 48b on the installed tooth points 20b, and the recesses 40b which receive forwardly projecting ear extensions 38b on the adapters 16b. However, in this bucket embodiment the bottom side weldments 36, and corresponding lip protector recesses 34 are eliminated, and a bolt 64 and nut 66 are used in place of the previously described connector pin 58 to anchor the installed lip protector 22b to the lip 14b. With the lip protector base 30b in place beneath the lip 14b, the bolt 64 is extended upwardly through aligned openings 68 and 70, respectively formed in a connection tab 72 on the lip protector base 30b, and upwardly through the lip 14b, and threaded into the nut 66. In this bucket embodiment the previously described bottom side lip weldments 36, and the corresponding rear side edge recesses 34 in the lip protector base, are eliminated.

In the fourth representative bucket embodiment 10c shown in FIGS; 18-21, the previously described bottom lip side support weldments 36 and associated lip protector side edge recesses 40 are eliminated. The forwardly projecting adapter ear extensions 38c, which are received in the lip protector recesses 40c, are widened in a manner such that they extend horizontally across front side surfaces of the lip weld areas 28c.

Each adapter 16c, rearwardly of its nose portion 18c, has an underside cavity 74 (see FIG. 21) from a rear side portion of which a circularly cross-sectioned opening 76 extends in a rearwardly and upwardly sloped direction. An enlarged, hexagonally cross-sectioned upper end portion 78 of the opening 76 extends outwardly through a rear top side portion of the adapter 16c. Accordingly, an upwardly facing ledge surface 80 (see FIG. 21) is formed at the juncture of the opening portions 76,78.

The opposite ends of each lip protector 22c have forwardly facing, generally planar abutment surfaces 82 which, in the assembled bucket structure 10c cross-sectionally depicted in FIG. 21, rearwardly overlie rear end surface portions 84 of the installed tooth points 20c. Positioned rearwardly of abutment surfaces 82 of each lip protector 22c are upstanding tabs 86 (see FIGS. 19 and 21) having oppositely facing outer side surfaces 88. Generally semicircularly cross-sectioned recesses 90 are formed in the side surfaces 88 and have narrowed upper end portions 92 that form downwardly facing semicircular ledges 94 in the recesses 90.

With the adapters 16c operatively installed on the lip 14C, the lip protectors 22c interdigitated therewith are installed by positioning their body portions 30c (see FIGS. 20 and 21) beneath the bottom side of the lip 14C in a manner such that the upstanding tabs 86 on facing ends of each adjacent pair of lip protectors 22c upwardly enter the bottom side recess 74 of the adapter 16c disposed between the lip protector pair, and the forward adapter ear extensions 38c (see FIGS. 18 and 19) enter the lip protector recesses 40c (see FIG. 19). The facing recesses 90 on each adjacent pair of tabs 86 together form a generally circular opening area 90,90 that underlies the opening 76 in the associated adapter 16c.

To captively and removably retain the installed lip protectors 22c on the lip 14c, at each adapter 16c a bolt 96 (see FIGS. 19-21) is extended upwardly through each lip protector end opening pair 90,90 in a manner such that the bold head 97 upwardly engages the end opening ledges 94,94 (see FIGS. 19-21) and the bolt 96 is threaded into a nut 98 (see FIGS. 19 and 21) nonrotatably received in the hex end portion 78 of the adapter opening 76. Next, the tooth points 20c are removably installed on the adapter noses 18c (see FIGS. 19 and 21) so that the rear point end surfaces 84 forwardly block the lip protector abutment surfaces 82 (see FIGS. 19-21). As schematically depicted in phantom in FIG. 21, a suitable wear protector shroud or cap 100 may be mounted on the top side of each installed adapter 16c (as well as on the adapters of the various other bucket embodiments representatively illustrated and described herein. Not only do the illustrated wear protector shrouds 100 shield the top sides of the adapters 16c from abrasion wear, but they also serve to captively retain the nuts 98 within the adapter hex opening 78 to prevent movement of the nuts 98 outwardly through their upper ends.

The fifth representative bucket embodiment 10d shown in FIGS. 22-24 is similar to the previously described fourth bucket embodiment 10c, but without lip protectors 22 being utilized (although various types of lip protectors could be installed between adjacent adapter pairs if desired). Adapters 16d are illustratively similar to the previously described adapters 16c, but the adapter ears 26d are not provided with forward extensions similar to the previously described extensions 38. Moreover, the top side of front lip edge 102 is downwardly sloped instead of being perpendicular to the top and bottom sides of the lip 10d. To accommodate this front lip edge slope, outer side surface portions 104,106 of the adapter ears 26d (see FIG. 23) are correspondingly sloped.

Compared to conventional adapter-to-lip construction techniques, the connection of the previously described adapters to their associated lip structures using transverse adapter ears complementarily received and welded in corresponding front lip edge notches provides substantially greater adapter weld strength at the front edge of the lip since the front adapter weld portions are laterally offset from their associated adapters. Additionally, since these front weld areas do not project upwardly beyond the top side of the lip, and (in bucket embodiments 10-10c) have forwardly facing front surface areas which are shielded by either portions of their associated adapters or by adjacent lip protectors, they are subjected to a desirably lesser degree of abrasion wear during use of their associated excavating buckets. Moreover, these front adapter weld areas are primarily exposed to shear stresses instead of tensile stresses which they are less capable of withstanding.

Further, since the adapters shown in the representatively illustrated bucket embodiments 10-10d are devoid of bottom legs which extend rearwardly along bottom sides of their associated lips, the lip protectors (when used) may upwardly extend clear to the bottom side of the lip in stead of being spaced downwardly apart therefrom by a bottom adapter leg interposed between the lip protector and the bottom side of the lip. For the end user, this advantageously results in a longer operating life for the lip protectors, since they can wear away clear up to the bottom side of excavator lip which they shield from operational excavation abrasion and wear before they need to be replaced.

The foregoing detailed description is to be clearly understood as being given by way of illustration and example only, the spirit and scope of the present invention being limited solely by the appended claims.