Title:
Blower attachment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A blower attachment (15) comprising a frame (16) having a connecting assembly (18) for releasably connecting to a blower (35), a housing (19) supported by the frame and enclosing a chamber (20), the housing having a top portion (21), a bottom portion (22) and side portions (23a-d), an inlet (24) to the chamber in the top portion of the housing, the inlet having a maximum inlet width (34), a conduit (25) adapted to extend between the inlet and a blower outlet port (36), multiple baffles (26a-h) in the chamber orientated vertically and extending from a first point (27a-d) below the inlet to a second point (28a-d) peripheral to the inlet, an outlet (29) from the chamber positioned below the inlet and having a maximum outlet width (73) greater than the maximum inlet width, an adjustment mechanism (30) adapted to adjust the height of the outlet relative to an underlying surface (38), the conduit, inlet, chamber, baffles and outlet adapted to direct flow (79) from the blower through the inlet into the chamber and out the outlet against the underlying surface.



Inventors:
Syracuse, Paul A. (North Collins, NY, US)
Horschel, Louis A. (Springville, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/701574
Publication Date:
08/30/2007
Filing Date:
02/02/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/340.1
International Classes:
E01H1/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SPISICH, MARK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PHILLIPS LYTLE LLP (BUFFALO, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A blower attachment comprising: a frame having a connecting assembly for releasably connecting to a blower; a housing supported by said frame and enclosing a chamber; said housing having a top portion, a bottom portion and side portions; an inlet to said chamber in said top portion of said housing; said inlet having a maximum inlet width; a conduit adapted to extend between said inlet and a blower outlet port; multiple baffles in said chamber oriented substantially vertically and extending from a first point below said inlet to a second point peripheral to said inlet; an outlet from said chamber having a maximum outlet width greater than the maximum inlet width; said conduit, inlet, chamber, baffles and outlet adapted to direct airflow from an attached blower through said inlet into said chamber and out said outlet against an underlying surface.

2. The blower attachment set forth in claim 1, and further comprising an adjustment mechanism adapted to adjust the height of said outlet relative to said underlying surface.

3. The blower attachment set forth in claim 1, and further comprising a containment skirt extending below and around at least a portion of the peripheral edge of said outlet.

4. The blower attachment set forth in claim 3, wherein said containment skirt comprises flexible fibers adapted to brush said underlying surface.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/765,232, filed Feb. 3, 2006. The entire content of such application is incorporated by reference herein.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to the field of blowers used to disperse debris from lawns, golf greens and other surfaces and, more particularly, to a blower attachment for directing the flow of air from a turbine blower to a playing surface.

BACKGROUND ART

Debris blowers are well-known in the prior art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,073,305 discloses a debris blower for use in dispersing and collecting grass clipping, leaves and other debris from sidewalks, driveways, lawns, golf courses and other surfaces. Another example is the Model KB or Hurricane PTO driven debris blower manufactured by Buffalo Turbine of 180 Zoar Valley Road, Springville N.Y. 14141. Such blowers are know to use a rotating power-driven fan or turbine to create and output a fairly concentrated airflow within a given velocity range.

However, devices known in the prior art do not provide an attachment that can be detachably connected to the blower and that will direct the airflow from the blower so that it may be used to move a top dressing material, such as sand, into aeration holes, thatch, artificial turf or other surfaces. Hence, it would be useful to provide an attachment to a blower that directs the flow of the air stream from the blower onto a surface.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

With parenthetical reference to the corresponding parts, portions or surfaces of the disclosed embodiment, merely for purposes of illustration and not by way of limitation, the present invention provides a blower attachment (15) comprising a frame (16) having a connecting assembly (18) for releasably connecting to a blower (35), a housing (19) supported by the frame and enclosing a chamber (20), the housing having a top portion (21), a bottom portion (22) and side portions (23a-d), an inlet (24) to the chamber in the top portion of the housing, the inlet having a maximum inlet width (34), a conduit (25) adapted to extend between the inlet and a blower outlet port (36), multiple baffles (26a-h) in the chamber orientated vertically and extending from a first point (27a-d) below the inlet to a second point (28a-d) peripheral to the inlet, an outlet (29) from the chamber positioned below the inlet and having a maximum outlet width (73) greater than the maximum inlet width, an adjustment mechanism (30) adapted to adjust the height of the outlet relative to an underlying surface (38), the conduit, inlet, chamber, baffles and outlet adapted to direct flow (79) from the blower through the inlet into the chamber and out the outlet against the underlying surface. The attachment may further comprise a containment skirt (31) extending below and around at least a portion of the peripheral edge of the outlet. The containment skirt may comprise flexible fibers adapted to brush the underlying surface.

Accordingly, the general object is to provide an attachment to a blower that directs airflow against a stretch of grass or artificial turf of a given width.

Another object is to provide an attachment to a blower that directs airflow so as to blow a top dressing material of sand or other particles into aeration holes in a grass surface.

Another object is to provide an attachment for a blower that may be adjusted in height so as to regulate the desired force of the airflow against the grass or artificial turf surface.

Another object is to provide an attachment for a blower which may be releasably connected to the blower.

Another object is to provide an attachment to a blower which connects to the outlet of the blower so as to allow for high velocity airflow.

Another object is to provide an attachment to a blower that directs airflow from a generally circular inlet to a generally rectangular outlet wider or longer than the circular inlet.

Another object is to provide an attachment to a blower that directs airflow across a wide swath of a grass or artificial turf surface.

Another object is to provide an attachment to a blower that directs a large volume of airflow from the blower against a grass or artificial turf surface.

Another object is to provide an attachment for a blower that is adapted to attach to and roll behind the blower.

Another object is to provide an attachment to a blower that is adapted to brush a grass or artificial turf surface near the contact point of a directed airflow to the surface.

Another object is to provide an attachment to a blower that may be used to fill aeration holes in a golf green in a way that does not unduly damage the golf green.

These and other objects and advantages will become apparent from the foregoing and ongoing written specification, the drawings and the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the blower attachment connected to a conventional blower.

FIG. 2 is a partial perspective and transparent view of the blower attachment shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a partial perspective and transparent view of the blower attachment shown in FIG. 2 with arrows indicating the directed airflow from the inlet through the chamber and the outlet of the blower attachment.

FIG. 4 is partial vertical transverse sectional view of the blower attachment shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a left side enlarged view of the height adjustment mechanism shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 is a right side enlarged view of the height adjustment mechanism shown in FIG. 2.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

At the outset, it should be clearly understood that like reference numerals are intended to identify the same structural elements, portions or surfaces, consistently throughout the several drawing figures, as such elements, portions or surfaces may be further described or explained by the entire written specification, of which this detailed description is an integral part. Unless otherwise indicated, the drawings are intended to be read (e.g., cross-hatching, arrangement of parts, proportion, degree, etc.) together with the specification, and are to be considered a portion of the entire written description of this invention. As used in the following description, the terms “horizontal”, “vertical”, “left”, “right”, “up” and “down”, as well as adjectival and adverbial derivatives thereof (e.g., “horizontally”, “rightwardly”, “upwardly”, etc.), simply refer to the orientation of the illustrated structure as the particular drawing figure faces the reader. Similarly, the terms “inwardly” and “outwardly” generally refer to the orientation of a surface relative to its axis of elongation, or axis of rotation, as appropriate.

Referring now to the drawings, and more particularly to FIG. 1 thereof, this invention provides a blower attachment, the presently preferred embodiment of which is generally indicated at 15. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, attachment 15 generally includes a frame 16, a housing 19 supported by frame 16 and defining a chamber 20, a conduit 25 adapted to communicate between a blower 35 and chamber 20, a height adjustment mechanism 30, a connecting assembly 18, and a wheel assembly 32.

As shown in FIG. 2, frame 16 is generally a rectangular frame formed from four horizontally extending lengths of square tubing 40a-d, three vertically extending wheel posts 41a-c, a vertically extending corner post 42 and two vertically extending attachment posts 43a and 43b. As shown, frame 16 includes or is connected to a wheel assembly 32, adapted to allow for attachment 15 to roll behind blower 35, a blower connecting assembly 18, adapted to releasably connect the front of attachment 15 to the rear of blower 35, and a height adjustment mechanism 30, adapted to allow for the height of outlet 29 above the surface over which attachment 15 rolls to be moved up and down.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, assembly 18 comprises two square tubular drag arms 46a and 46b that are pivotally connected at pivot connections 45a and 45b to attachment posts 43a and 43b, respectively, of frame 16. The other ends of drag arms 46a and 46b are in turn pivotally connected at pivot connections 45c and 45d to cross-bar 46. The connections employ a bronze type bushing with grease fittings, connecting pins, keeper bolts and washers. As shown in FIG. 1, mounting plate 44 is bolted to the rear crosspiece of the frame of blower 35. Mounting plate 44 includes a connecting bolt 49 welded to the center of mounting plate 44. Cross-bar 46 contains a mounting through-bore 48 adapted to receive bolt 49. Attachment 15 is connected to blower 35 by moving it so that bolt 49 extends through through-bore 48. The end portion of bolt 49 extends through the other side of bore 48 and includes a hole. A lynch style pin and machined washer, the pin extending through the hole at the end of bolt 49, holds cross-plate 48 of frame 16 to mounting plate 44 on blower 35. With pivot connects 45a-d at both ends of drag arms 46a and 46b, attachment 15 can be pulled behind blower 35 such that it will not be lifted from the surface 38 over which is rolling. This pivoting connection allows for attachment 15 to roll behind blower 35 over undulating surfaces.

As shown in FIGS. 2-6, frame 16 is connected to or includes a wheel assembly 32 and a height adjustment mechanism 30 that interacts with wheel assembly 32 to allow for housing 19 and chamber 20 to be held at different heights above the surface 38 over which attachment 15 rolls. As shown, wheel assembly 32 comprises three caster wheels 51a-c connected to tubes 66 and 67 adjacent wheel post 41a-c, respectively. Wheels 51a-c are rotationally connected to forks 52a-c, each of which has a shaft 53a-c, respectively, extending into blocks 54a-c, respectively. Blocks 54a-c each house a greased brass bushing and a washer and bolt are used to hold each of shafts 54a-c in place. As a result of this arrangement, wheels 51a-c can freely rotate about the vertical axis of shafts 53a-c. As shown, attachment 15 as two front wheels 51a and 51b positioned near the right and left edge, respectively, of frame 16, and a single rear wheel 51c positioned at the center line of frame 16. Blower attachment 15 is generally supported on three wheels 51a-c and is balanced between them. Two additional safety rollers 78a and 78b are attached on either side of frame 16 near the rear of frame elements 40a and 40c, respectively. These two rollers help prevent the scalping of the turf or surface when attachment 15 is used on undulating surfaces.

As shown in FIGS. 2, 5 and 6, adjustment mechanism 30 interacts with wheel assembly 32 to allow for the height adjustment of frame 16 and housing 19 with respect to the surface over which blower attachment 15 rolls. Adjustment mechanism 30 includes an adjustment arm 56 which extends vertically from the middle of the right side of frame 16, namely element 40a, and which is connected to side panel 23a of housing 19. As shown, adjustment arm 56 includes a spring loaded lift rod 57 which has a horizontally extending top portion, a vertically extending middle portion and a horizontally extending locking pin 60. Locking pin 60 extends through a hole in adjustment arm 56. As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, adjustment plate 58 includes seven location slots 59 orientated in a radial arc across the top of adjustment plate 58. This orientation allows for a user to raise rod 57, causing locking pin 60 to disengage from a location slot 59, and thereby allow arm 56 to be moved forward or backwards about pivot 61. When arm 56 is at the desired location, either forward or backward, bar 57 may be released such that locking pin 60 falls back into the corresponding location slot 59 in adjustment plate 58, thereby locking arm 56 at the desired radial position relative to pivot point 61.

As shown, two pivoting linkages 62 and 63 extend from either side of adjustment arm 56. Linkage 62 extends from a point above pivot 61 to connect with transversely extending tube 66 at the front of housing 19, and linkage 63 extends from a point below pivot 61 to connect with transversely extending tube 67 at the rear of housing 19. Tube 66 in turn connects with both front wheel blocks 54a and 54b, and tube 67 connects with rear wheel block 54c. As shown, linkages 62 and 63 pivot freely at both their ends. Clevis plates 68a-b are fixed at right angles on one end to the respective ends of tubes 66 and 67, and are pivotally connected at the other end to linkages 62 and 63, respectively. Tube 66 extends rotatably through both front wheel posts 41a and 41b and rotates in slot or rod support bracket 55a and 55b in wheel posts 41a and 41b, respectively. Similarly, rod 67 rotates in slot or rod support bracket 41d in the top of corner post 42 and a support bracket 41c in wheel post 41c. One end of two attachment plates 69a and 69b are fixably attached to tube 66 on either side of post 41a, and the other end of plates 69a and 69b are fixably attached to wheel block 54a. Similarly, wheel block 54b is fixably connected to one end of plates 70a and 70b. The other end of plates 70a and 70b are fixed to tube 66 on either side of wheel post 41b. Thus, any rotation of tube 66 about the longitudinal axis of tube 66 will cause a similar rotation of wheels 51a and 51b, thereby causing wheels 51a and 51b to simultaneously move up or down, depending on the direction of rotation of tube 66, relative to frame 16. Similarly, the ends of two plates 71a and 71b are fixed to tube 67 on each side of wheel tower 41c and are fixed at their other ends to wheel block 54c. Thus, rotation of tube 67 about its longitudinal axis will cause wheel 51c to either move up or down, depending on the direction of such rotation, relative to housing frame 16. This mechanical assembly allows for the height of frame 16, and therefore the height of outlet 29, above the ground to be adjusted. By raising rod 57 and moving arm 56 forward and counterclockwise with respect to pivot point 61, linkage 62/68a causes tube 66 to also rotate in a counterclockwise direction, and linkage 63/68b causes tube 67 to rotate in a clockwise direction, which in turn causes wheels 51a and 51b to move down relative to frame 16 and causes wheel 51c to move down relative to frame 16, thereby raising frame 16 and housing 19 further above the ground. When housing 19 is at the desired height above the ground, rod 57 is released and locking pin 61 allowed to engage the desired slot 59, thereby suspending the housing on wheels 51a-c at a greater height above the ground. To have housing 19 at the greatest height above the ground, locking pin 60 is adjusted to engage slot 59a. Alternatively, arm 56 may be rotated clockwise about pivot point 61 to raise wheels 51a-c relative to frame 16 and thereby lower chamber 20 relative to the ground over which it is rolling. To have housing 19 at its lowest height above the surface, locking pin 60 is adjusted to fit into the slot opposite of slot 59a. Thus, the height of blower attachment 15 over the ground may be manually adjusted independent of blower 35. Height adjustment mechanism 30 allows for the user to regulate the amount of contact and compression brushes 31 will have on the turf surface, and to regulate the force of the air stream from outlet 29 on the turf surface.

As shown in FIGS. 1-4, frame 16 supports housing 19. Housing 19 comprises a horizontally extending planar top portion 21, vertically extending side portions 23a-d and a horizontally extending planar bottom portion 22. Top portion 21 is formed from sheet metal, the ends of which are folded over at right angles to form front side portion 23b and rear side portion 23d. Right side portion 23a and left side portion 23c are in turn welded to the respective edges of top portion 21, front side portion 23b and rear side portion 23d. These portions thereby form the top and sides of housing 19. Bottom portion 22 of housing 19 is generally a flat planar member recessed such that it extends between and is welded at one end to the inner surface of side portion 23a and at the other end to the inner surface of side portion 23c. Thus, as shown in FIG. 4, side portions 23a-c extend below the bottom surface of bottom portion 22. Top portion 21, side portions 23a-d and bottom portion 22 define chamber 20.

As also shown in FIG. 4, bottom portion 22 is not as wide as the widths of side portions 23a and 23c or of top portion 21. Thus, a narrow space 29a is formed at the front of attachment 15 that extends along almost the whole width of attachment 15 between the inner surface of front side portion 23b and the front edge of bottom portion 22. Similarly, a narrow space 29b is formed at the rear of attachment 15 that extends almost the whole width of attachment 15 between the inner surface of rear side portion 23d and the rear edge of bottom portion 22. These spaces form outlet 29 to chamber 20. In the preferred embodiment, each of outlets 29a-b have a width 72 of about 1.5 inches and a length 73 of about 60 inches.

Inlet 24 is generally cut into the center of top portion 21 of housing 19. As shown, a cylindrical lip 33 extends perpendicular to top portion 21 around the circumference of inlet 24. In the preferred embodiment, inlet 24 is a circular inlet having a width or diameter 34 of about 14 inches. A number of baffles or vanes are welded to extend from below inlet 24 towards the peripheral edge of bottom member 22. As shown, baffles 26a-h extend from a point 27a-d that is below inlet 24 to a point 28a-h that is outside the imaginary vertical projection of inlet 24 on bottom portion 22 of housing 19. Thus baffles 26a-h extend on the inner surface of top portion 21 beyond the diameter 34 of inlet 24. In the preferred embodiment, the baffles extend vertically and are generally V-shaped such that the bottom point of the V is below inlet 24 at locations 27a-d. The other ends of the baffles are directed out in a generally radial fashion to direct airflow 79 from below inlet 24 to the peripheral edges of housing 19 and particularly towards outlets 29a and 29b. Baffles 26 extend vertically between the inner surface of top portion 21 and the inner surface of bottom portion 22. In this way, air blown through inlet 24 is directed throughout chamber 20 and towards outlets 29a and 29b. This allows for turbulation of the air and for changing an air stream that had a generally cylindrical diameter of 34 as it entered inlet 24 to be split and changed by the orientation of baffles 26 and chamber 20 into two separate air streams 79 that are generally rectangular having a width 72 and a length 73 that is subsequently greater than diameter 34. In this way, the air stream from the blower may be directed and adapted to be felt along a surface of a greater width than the diameter of the outlet 36 of blower 35. In addition, the flow is agitated so that it is better able to direct sand into aeration holes in a grass surface.

As shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 6, a containment skirt 31 is provided along the underside of each of frame elements 40a-d. In the preferred embodiment, containment skirt 41 is made of three inch long flexible nylon fibers of a brush-like quality. The fibers are held in a plastic track and the bottom of each of frame elements 40a-d are provided with a welded channel into which the plastic track of skirts 31a-d are slid and held in place. Skirt 31 helps contain the airflow 79 from outlet 29a and 29b and direct it into the surface. Also, by using flexible nylon brushes, less damage and scouring occurs when the brush drags on the surface. The use of flexible fibers and airflow 79 from outlet 29a and 29b to direct sand into the aeration holes is less abrasive and less damaging to the grass surface being treated. This helps accelerate recovery of the grass or green after treatment.

Attachment 15 is adapted to be used with powerful blowers. For example, it is contemplated that attachment 15 may be used with a blower having an output of 10,000 cubic feet of air at 175 miles per hour. Accordingly, conduit 25 between outlet 36 of blower 35 and inlet 24 of attachment 15 is designed to contain the larger forces associated with the strong air stream output from blower 35. In the preferred embodiment, air conduit 35 includes a fourteen inch diameter cylindrical flexible reinforced tube 74, an elbow segment 76 and an elbow segment 77. One end of tube 74 is attached to outlet 36 of blower 35. Outlet 36 includes an elbow base with a flange. Flexible tubing 74 slides over a ring with a mating flange. The mating flange on the end of tubing 74 and the flange on outlet 36 of blower 35 provide a face-to-face connection and abut each other. A connecting clamp 75 overlaps the two flanges and the band of the clamp is tightened to hold the joint together. The other end of flexible tubing 74 is connected to one end of elbow segment 76. Again, this end of tubing 74 includes a mating flange which abuts a flange on elbow segment 76. A connecting clamp overlaps the two flanges and the band of the clamp is tightened to hold the joint together. Similarly, the ends of elbow segments 76 and 77 are connected with a connecting belt clamp. The other end of elbow segment 77 is connected to lip 33 of inlet 24. A flange around the end of elbow segment 77 is abutted to the flange or lip 33 of inlet 24. These flanges are releasably attached with a clamp band which is tightened to hold the joint together. Elbow segments 76 and 77 allow for the horizontal airflow from blower 35 to be directed vertically into inlet 24, thereby creating a 90 degree turn. Flexible tubing 74 permits some play in the air conduit 25 between blower 35 and attachment 15. This prevents conduit 25 from detaching from blower 35 or attachment 15 when attachment 15 moves up or down relative to blower 35 when it is being pulled behind blower 35.

Thus, airflow generated by blower 35 is directed through air conduit 25 and through inlet 24. Baffles 26 direct the airflow 79 and disperse it in chamber 20 and then out through outlets 29a and 29b along the front bottom edge of chamber 20 and along the rear bottom edge of chamber 20. Skirt 31 helps contain a good portion of the airflow as well as sand or other materials being applied to the surface. The amount of airflow that is generated is controlled by the blower. The blower may itself have a throttle control or the throttle control may be on the tractor used to propel the blower if it is a PTO driven model. The height of the blower attachment over the surface may also be adjusted to control the impact of the airflow on the surface.

Blower attachment 15 may be used for many purposes, including after aeration and the top dressing of a putting green. For such an application, attachment 15 is attached to a blower which is started and moved into position to begin filling the aeration holes. The height of attachment 15 and the throttle of blower 35 is adjusted to the conditions and size of the holes on the green. The towing vehicle or tractor pulling the blower and in turn attachment 15 is then driven over the prepared green. Multiple passes may be needed to fill the holes with a top dressing of sand or related material if desired. By using attachment 15, a wide swath and more area may be covered. And by using airflow to direct the top dressing into aeration holes or into the surface, less damage may be done, which accelerates recovery of the green after aeration and treatment.

The present invention contemplates that many changes and modifications may be made. Therefore, while the presently-preferred form of the attachment has been shown and described, and several alternative modifications thereof discussed, persons skilled in this art will readily appreciate that various additional changes and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention, as defined and differentiated by the following claims.