Title:
Debris collector
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A debris collector is provided with an impeller mounted forward of the drive vehicle. The impeller is coupled to a movable snout which may be utilized to collect debris from the path of the vehicle, as well as areas lateral to the vehicle and debris which may be attached of a vertical structure, such as a fence.



Inventors:
Vry, Alan (Des Moines, IA, US)
Application Number:
10/947866
Publication Date:
03/23/2006
Filing Date:
09/23/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01H1/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
REDDING, DAVID A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRETT J. TROUT, PC (DES MOINES, IA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A material collection and transport vehicle comprising: (a) a driver seat; (b) means for moving the vehicle; (c) means provided forward of said driver seat for generating a vacuum; (d) a container provided rearward of said driver seat; and (e) means for transferring material from said generating means to said container.

2. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 1, further comprising an intake coupled to said generating means, and means for moving said intake relative to said driver seat.

3. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 1, further comprising a frame operably coupled to said container and to said generating means.

4. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 1, further comprising means for rotating and generating means relative to said driver seat.

5. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 1, further comprising a cab provided between said container and said generating means.

6. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 5, further comprising an intake coupled to said generating means and means provided within said cab for moving said intake laterally.

7. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 5, further comprising means provided within said cab for rotating said generating means.

8. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 1, further comprising means for tilting said container.

9. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 1, wherein said transferring means is a tube provided above said driver seat.

10. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 1, wherein said generating means is an impeller.

11. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 10, further comprising means coupled to said impeller for moving said impeller laterally relative to said driver seat.

12. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 10, further comprising means coupled to said impeller for rotating said impeller relative to said driver seat.

13. A material collection and transport vehicle comprising: (a) a driver area; (b) a container; (c) means provided forward of said driver area for propelling material into said container; and (d) means for moving said propelling means relative to said driver area.

14. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 13, further comprising a cab provided around said driver area.

15. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 13, further comprising means for tilting said container.

16. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 13, wherein said propelling means is an impeller.

17. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 16, further comprising an intake coupled to said impeller.

18. The material collection and transport vehicle of claim 17, comprising means for rotating said intake.

19. A material collection and transportation vehicle comprising: (a) a frame; (b) means coupled to said frame for motivating said frame; (c) a container coupled to said frame; (d) an impeller; (e) an intake in fluid communication with said impeller; (f) means for transferring material from said impeller to said container; (g) means for moving said impeller at least 0.5 meters relative to said frame.

20. The material collection and transportation vehicle of claim 19, further comprising means for rotating said impeller relative to said frame.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates in general to a method and apparatus for collecting and transporting debris and, more particularly, to a self-contained vehicle with off-road maneuverability for collecting and transporting debris in landfills.

2. Description of the Prior Art

It is well known in the art to provide street sweepers and the like, which move debris from the road into a central collection point, where the debris is moved into a container or hopper. Typically, if such devices use a vacuum hose or the like to move debris, the vacuum is located rearward of the driver, as is the collection container. One drawback associated with such street sweepers is that they are not designed for off-road use, and would either run the risk of becoming stuck or missing debris if they were used in an off-road situation, such as a landfill. An additional drawback associated with such devices is the inability of such devices to collect material which is elevated off the ground, such as material attached to a fence or the like.

It is also known in the art to provide litter vacuum machines. Such machines typically are vehicles provided with a forward driver's seat, and a rearwardly located collection container and vacuum fan. The fan is typically coupled to a hose which extends over or around the driver and the driver utilizes some type of control to direct the vacuum hose to the desired location to collect the litter. One drawback associated with such devices is the small capacity of the collection container. Since such devices typically utilize a filter between the fan and the collection container, the suction capacity of the fan is decreased and continues to decrease as more debris is pulled into the container and begins to block off fluid communication between the container and the fan. An additional drawback associated with such devices is the bulk nature with which these devices collect debris. As such devices are not provided with any capacity to shear or otherwise reduce the volume of the collected debris, the capacity of the container is only a fraction of what a similar container would be able to contain of shredded or otherwise compacted debris.

An additional drawback associated with such devices is that they are typically slow moving and not capable of rugged off-road use. Additionally, such devices are typically not adapted to pull debris from a fence or other location, except from a location directly downward from the vacuum hose. An additional drawback with such devices is the small diameter of vacuum hose. A small diameter vacuum hose is typically required to increase the suction of the small fan to a usable level. A larger diameter utilized with the same fan would produce lower efficiency in collecting debris.

It is also known in the art to provide large vehicles with wide vacuum heads to collect debris from a wide swath on a street or other level surface. Although such devices typically have a very large capacity, the wide head cannot articulate to cover uneven terrain. It is also known in the art to provide a skid-mounted vacuum system which can be placed on a trailer or in the back of a pickup truck. While such devices may be more adaptable to uneven terrain, especially in situations where they are utilized in association with a four-wheel drive vehicle, such devices typically require an operator in addition to the driver to operate the vacuum unit.

It is also known in the art to provide a leaf vacuum, designed to vacuum large amount of leaves collected by homeowners or municipal crews at curbside locations. While these machines are large and are provided with a high capacity vacuum hose and large container, they are not adaptable for off-road use, do not typically provide desired compaction or shredding of the debris. Leaf vacuums often require the vehicle to be stationary during the vacuuming process, or if they are adaptable for use while in transit, typically require multiple operators to drive and operate the vacuum.

An additional drawback associated with all of the foregoing devices is the typical low clearance of such devices. As such devices are designed to be utilized on roadways, the large grasses and weeds in landfill environments utilized to prevent erosion often prohibit the use of the foregoing prior art devices in a landfill situation. Additionally, most prior art devices lack an effective lateral vacuum system for pulling material off a fencerow, while maintaining off-road capabilities and tight maneuverability required for fencerow debris collection.

It would be, therefore, desirable to provide a low cost, lightweight debris collector which was easily maneuverable in off-road situations and capable of being operated by a single operator to remove debris from a fence, while providing powerful suction, high capacity and ease of container evacuation. The difficulties encountered in the prior art described hereinabove are substantially eliminated by the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In an advantage provided by this invention, a debris collector is provided which is low cost and easy to manufacture.

Advantageously, this invention provides a debris collector which is lightweight and easily maneuverable.

Advantageously, this invention provides a debris collector which is adaptable to off-road use.

Advantageously, this invention provides a debris collector which may be quickly attached and detached from a vehicle.

Advantageously, this invention provides a debris collector which is capable of in-transit operation by a single operator.

Advantageously, this invention provides a debris collector adapted for removing debris from fences.

Advantageously, this invention provides a debris collector with a high capacity, powerful suction system.

Advantageously, this invention provides a debris collector with easy container evacuation.

Advantageously, in the preferred example of the present invention, a material collection and transport vehicle is provided with a driver's seat between a vacuum and a container. Means are also provided for moving the vehicle and transferring material from the vacuum to the container. In the preferred embodiment, the vacuum is an impeller located forward of the driver and adapted for pivotal movement relative to the vehicle to allow the vacuum to sweep across the front of the vehicle to collect debris. The vacuum is also adapted for pivotal movement to allow the vacuum to remove debris from fencerows and the like.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a side elevation of the debris collector of the present invention shown with the snout fully extended;

FIG. 2 illustrates a top elevation of the debris collector of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3A illustrates a top elevation of the transfer tube, quick connect collar and flexible tubing of the present invention;

FIG. 3B illustrates a side elevation of the transfer tube, quick connect collar, flexible tubing and roof of the cab of the present invention;

FIG. 4A illustrates a front elevation in partial phantom of the snout assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 4B illustrates a side elevation of the snout assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates a side elevation of the connection of the impeller assembly to the vehicle;

FIG. 6 illustrates a side elevation in cross-section of the pivotable connection of the impeller housing to the receiver plate;

FIG. 7 illustrates a top elevation of the debris collector with the snout assembly positioned perpendicular to the path of vehicle travel;

FIG. 8 illustrates a top elevation of the debris collection of the present invention shown with the snout assembly extended laterally of the vehicle;

FIG. 9 illustrates a top elevation showing the snout assembly extended lateral of the vehicle with the snout extending laterally of the vehicle;

FIG. 10 illustrates a side elevation of the debris collection of the present invention showing the debris collector in the dumping position;

FIG. 11 illustrates a schematic of the hydraulic circuit of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A debris collector according to the present invention is shown generally as (10) in FIG. 1. The debris collector (10) includes a vehicle (12), a snout assembly (14), an impeller assembly (16), a transfer assembly (18), and a collection container (20). While the vehicle (12) may be of any desired type, configuration or power, in the preferred embodiment, the vehicle (12) is a Toolcat 5600B, manufactured by Bobcat of West Fargo, N.D.

Preferably, the engine (22) is a 56 horsepower diesel engine manufactured by Kubota Engine America Corporation. Preferably, the vehicle (12) is 204 centimeters high, 375 centimeters long, 154 centimeters wide, with a wheelbase of 216 centimeters. The vehicle (12) is also preferably provided with four-wheel steering to provide a turning diameter of 523 centimeters. The vehicle (12) is also provided with a load capacity of 907 kilograms and an auxiliary hydraulic pump system (24) with a capacity of 98.4 liters per minute. The vehicle (12) is provided with a 32.5 liter gas tank (26), a ground clearance of thirty-four centimeters, a forward speed of twenty-nine kilometers per hour, and a reverse speed of sixteen kilometers per hour. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 11, the vehicle (12) is provided with an enclosed cab (28), having a driver's seat (30) and a passenger seat (32), as well as a steering wheel (34), a joystick (36), and a rocker control panel (37). The vehicle (12) is provided with side doors (38) and (40), side windows (42) and (44), and a windshield (46). The vehicle (12) is also provided with a frame (48) coupled to four wheels (50), driven by the engine (22) in a manner such as that known in the art. The vehicle (12) is also provided with a cargo bed (52), pivotably secured to the frame (48) and coupled to a hydraulic linear actuator (54), which may be controlled by the operator to pivot the cargo bed (52), to a dump angle of thirty-eight degrees.

As shown in FIG. 1, the collection container (20) is releasably secured to the cargo bed (52) by bolts or similar securement means known in the art. The collection container (20) is provided with an expanded metal roof (56) or similar material which allows for the passage of air therethrough, but retains debris (58) within the collection container (20). The remainder of the collection container (20) is constructed of 14 gauge steel (60) or similar material. The collection container (20) is provided with a side door (62), hingeably or otherwise secured to the collection container (20) to allow side access into the collection container (20). The collection container (20) is also provided with a rear door (64) which is preferably substantially as large as the rear (66) of the collection container (20) to allow full access to the interior of the collection container (20) to remove debris (58) therefrom. The rear door (64) is preferably hinged or otherwise secured to the collection container (20). The top (68) of the collection container is coupled into fluid engagement with the transfer assembly (18). As shown in FIG. 1, the transfer assembly (18) comprises a transfer tube (70) secured to the roof (72) of the vehicle (12). Although the transfer tube (70) may be of any suitable dimensions, in the preferred embodiment the transfer tube (70) is constructed of 14-gauge steel, with a five-inch interior height and a fourteen-inch interior width. (FIGS. 3A-B). The transfer tube (70) tapers toward an eight-inch diameter flexible hose (74) and is connected thereto by a quick-connect collar (76), such as those known in the art. The transfer tube (70) is resiliently coupled to the collection container (20) by mating rubber flanges (75) and (77), or the like, to allow for movement differentials between the transfer tube (70) and the collection container (20).

As shown in FIG. 1, the flexible hose (74) is coupled on its opposite end to the impeller assembly (16). The flexible hose (74) is actually coupled to the impeller housing (78), which contains the impeller (80). Although the impeller (80) may be of any type known in the art, preferably, the impeller is a twenty inch, four-blade impeller. Secured to the top of the impeller housing (78) is a hydraulic piston motor (82), such as Model No. 74118, manufactured by Eaton Fluid Motor of Eden Prairie, Minn. The hydraulic piston motor (82) is coupled to a shaft (84) by a six-inch diameter drive sheave (86), covered by its own protective housing (87). (FIG. 4) As shown in FIG. 4A, the impeller intake (88) is coupled to a twelve-inch diameter, 14-gauge steel tube (90). The tubing (90) is twenty-nine inches long and is welded to the impeller housing (78), both directly and utilizing steel gussets (92) for added support. As shown in FIG. 4B, the upper gussets (89) are bent to accommodate an expanded metal covering (91) bolted or otherwise secured to the upper gussets (89). To form the snout assembly (14), the tubing (90) is coupled to a twelve inch diameter steel snout ring (94), utilizing a connection linkage (96). The connection linkage (96) comprises a stationary steel arm (98) pivotally coupled to rotating steel arm (100). The stationary arm (98) is welded or otherwise secured to the tubing (90), while the rotating arm (100) is welded or otherwise secured to the snout ring (94). Secured to the rotating arm (100) is a connection ear (102) which, in turn, is pivotally coupled to the shaft (104) of a hydraulic linear actuator (106). The other end of the hydraulic linear actuator (106) is pivotally coupled to the tubing (90). The snout ring (94) is coupled to the tubing (90) by a forty-eight inch length of twelve inch diameter flexible hosing (108). The other end of the snout ring (94) is provided with a flared rubber boot (110), which may be of any desired length, taper or configuration. Preferably, the rubber boot (110) is five inches long and provided with a forty-five degree taper. The hydraulic linear actuator (106) is preferably coupled to the hydraulic control box (112) which, in turn, is coupled through a filter (113) to a hydraulic pump (114), which is powered by the engine (22) and controlled by a rocker switch (115) on the rocker control panel (37). (FIGS. 4A and 11)

As shown in FIG. 4A, secured to the tubing (90) is a hydraulic linear actuator (93) secured to a door (95), slidably coupled to the tubing (90) over an opening (97). In the preferred embodiment, the opening (97) is at least ten percent larger than the opening (99) defined by the snout ring (94). The expanded metal covering (91) preferably extends sufficiently to prevent an operator from extending an appendage through the opening (97) and into contact with the impeller (80). As shown in FIG. 4B, the expanded metal covering (91) may be provided with a cutout (101) to accommodate the linear actuator (93).

As shown in FIG. 5, the impeller housing (78) is coupled to a receiver plate (116). The receiver plate (116) is constructed of one-fourth inch thick steel, and is preferably twenty-four inches high and thirty-six inches wide. The outlet (120) of the impeller housing (78) passes through a pivot-mounting bracket (118) welded to the receiver plate (116). The bottom of the impeller housing (78) is provided with a steel support bracket (122) and a steel shaft (124). As shown in FIG. 6, the shaft extends through a first piece of nylon bearing material (126), a second piece of nylon bearing material (128) and a rubber biscuit (130). The rubber biscuit (130) is preferably six inches in diameter and two inches thick, and provided within a circular steel biscuit container (132), having a diameter just in excess of six inches, and a depth of two inches. The biscuit container (132) is welded or otherwise secured to a lower housing mounting bracket (134) to the receiver plate (116). FIGS. 5-6.

As shown in FIG. 5, a hydraulic linear actuator (136) is secured to the forward face (138) of the receiver plate (116) by a mounting bracket (140). The shaft (142) is pivotally coupled to the impeller housing (78). The hydraulic linear actuator (136) is preferably coupled to the hydraulic control box (111). As shown in FIG. 5, secured to the rearward face (144) of the receiver plate (116) is a top rail bracket (146) and a bottom rail bracket (148). The rail brackets (146) and (148) preferably run the entire length of the receiver plate (116), and are secured thereto by weldments or similar securement means to form channels (150) and (152) one-half inch wide.

As shown in FIG. 5, a mainframe faceplate (154) is preferably constructed of one-fourth inch thick steel, and is twenty-four inches high and sixty inches wide. The attachment brackets (156) allow the mainframe faceplate (154) to be quickly attached and removed from any desired vehicle. In the preferred embodiment, the attachment brackets (156) are designed to be received by the standard front end of the 5600B Turbo Work Machine manufactured by Bobcat of West Fargo, N.D. The mainframe faceplate (154) is provided with an upper railslide (158) and lower railslide (160). The railslides (158) and (160) are preferably constructed of one-fourth inch thick steel, welded or otherwise secured to the mainframe faceplate (154). The railslides (158) and (160) preferably run the entire length of the mainframe faceplate (154) and are each provided with upwardly directed rails (162) and (164) to engage the channels (150) and (152) of the top rail bracket (146) and bottom rail bracket (148). In the preferred embodiment, the rails (162) and (164) are provided with a curved radius on their heads (166) and (168), and coated with TeflonĀ®. The channels (150) and (152) are also coated with TeflonĀ® to provide for ease of movement of the receiver plate (116) relative to the mainframe faceplate (154). Alternatively, or in addition, grease may be utilized to facilitate sliding of the receiver plate (116) relative to the mainframe faceplate (154).

As shown in FIG. 5, a hydraulic linear actuator (170) is secured to the mainframe faceplate (154) by a mounting bracket (172). The shaft (174) of the hydraulic linear actuator (170) is pivotally coupled to a mounting bracket (176), welded or otherwise secured to the rearward face (144) of the receiver plate (116). The hydraulic linear actuator (170) preferably extends at least twenty-four inches, and is hydraulically coupled to the hydraulic control box (112).

When it is desired to operate the debris collector (10) of the present invention, an operator (not shown) enters the cab (28) of the vehicle (12) and starts the vehicle engine (22). The operator actuates the hydraulic motor (82) and impeller (80), utilizing a trigger (178) located on the joystick (36) located within the cab (28). (FIGS. 1, 4A and 11).

As shown in FIG. 1, when it is desired to collect debris (58) across a wide swath, the operator leaves the cab (28) of the vehicle (12) and actuates the control box (111) to direct hydraulic fluid to the hydraulic cylinder (136) in response to manipulation of the joystick (36). (FIGS. 1, 4A and 11). The operator then returns to the cab (28) and utilizes the joystick (36) to actuate the hydraulic linear actuator (136) to pivot the impeller housing (78) and the snout (180) as shown in FIG. 4. By actuating and deactuating the hydraulic linear actuator (136) with the joystick (36), the snout (180) can clear nearly the entire area in front of the moving vehicle (12) of debris (58). If it is desired to collect debris (58) from an area lateral of the vehicle (12), the operator actuates another rocker switch (181) on the rocker control panel to actuate the hydraulic linear actuator (170) to slide the impeller housing (78) in a first direction relative to the vehicle (12) to the orientation shown in FIG. 8 to pick up debris lateral of the vehicle (12). (FIGS. 4A, 8 and 11). The operator may also actuate another rocker switch (115) to cause the hydraulic linear actuator (106) to extend the snout ring (94) coaxial with the tubing (90) to allow the debris collector (10) to remove debris (58) from a fence (182) in a manner such as that depicted in FIG. 9.

Once the debris (58) has been pulled into the impeller (80), the impeller blades (184) contact and shear the debris (58) before pushing the shredded debris (186) through the outlet (120) and into the flexible hose (74). As shown in FIG. 3B, the roof (188) of the transfer tube (70) acts as a deflector to redirect the shredded debris (186) toward the collection container (20). Because the debris is shredded (186), the collection container (20) can hold a much larger amount of material.

If the operator moves the snout (180) over a rock or other object which is larger than the snout ring (94), and the object (not shown) becomes stuck in the snout (180), the operator may actuate one of the rocker switches (179) on the rocker control panel (37) to cause the control valve (112) to actuate the linear actuator (93) to move the door (95) from the opening (97) in the tubing (90). As air moves directly through the opening (97) into the impeller (80), the larger area of the opening (97) causes vacuum to be lost at the rubber boot (110), thereby allowing the large object (not shown) to drop from the snout (180). The operator may then pick up the large debris or other large debris (190) and insert the debris (190) directly into the collection container (20) through the side door (62). Preferably, the side door (62) is securely latched thereafter to prevent shredded debris (186) from inadvertently becoming ejected through the side door (62).

Once all of the debris (58) has been collected, or the collection container (20) is full, the operator drives the vehicle (12) to the disposal point, whereafter, the operator unlatches the rear door (64). (FIGS. 1, 4A, 10 and 11). The operator uses a rocker switch (177) located within the cab (28) to control the hydraulic linear actuator (54) via the hydraulic pump (114), and cause the cargo bed (52) to tilt. As the cargo bed (52) tilts, the shredded debris (186) contained within the collection container (20) dumps out of the collection container (20) through the rear door (64). Once all of the shredded debris (186) has been removed from the collection container (20), the operator reverses actuation of the hydraulic linear actuator (54) with the rocker switch (177) until the angled mating flanges (75) and (77) contact one another. The flanges (75) and (77) are preferably angled forty-five degrees from vertical to aid in the dumping process. The operator then relatches the rear door (64). Preferably, the collection container (20) is provided with a pair of skid slots (192) to allow a forklift (not shown), or the like, to slide between the collection container (20) and the cargo bed (52) to engage and lift the collection container (20) off the vehicle (12). When the vehicle (12) is no longer needed for debris collection, the operator disconnects the quick connect collar (76) from the transfer tube (70) and releases the attachment brackets (156). The operator may then use a standard hydraulic lift cylinder (196), such as those associated with prior art vehicles, such as the vehicle (12) used in association with the present invention to set the impeller assembly (16) in any desired location. (FIGS. 1-11).

Although the invention has been described with respect to a preferred embodiment thereof, it is also to be understood that it is not to be so limited, since changes and modifications can be made therein which are in the full, intended scope of this invention as defined by the appended claims. As an example, the vehicle may be constructed of any suitable size and dimensions, and may be utilized in association with any size impeller and power source.