Title:
Earthmoving device with materials handling improvements
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to a device for scraping material from the earth. The device has a scraper housing, which may be attached to the front of a bulldozer or other earthmoving vehicle. The scraper housing may generally include a back wall, a first side wall, a second side wall, a center support, and a brace. The device may be equipped with a scraper blade attached to an earth transfer plate, the scraper blade attached proximate to the front of the scraper housing. As the scraper housing is urged forward, the scraper blade scrapes material from the earth which, by the force of the material being scraped, is forced along the earth transfer plate. After reaching the end of the earth transfer plate, the material can be deposited onto a scraper conveyor that has a belt extending between the side walls of the housing. The scraper conveyor belt continuously moves material toward an opening in the second wall. The device may also include a boom conveyor extending from an outside portion of the second side wall of the scraper housing and located below the opening in the second side wall to catch material conveyed past the edge of the scraper conveyor belt to carry the material to a distant location. For example the boom conveyor may be positioned over a truck so that material is continuously moved from the scraper housing to the truck for transportation and dumping. The boom conveyor may be supported by an adjustable support member. To assist movement of material along the upwardly sloped surface of the earth transfer plate a rotating shaft above that plate with plates or vanes extending therefrom can be used.



Inventors:
Corrado, Frank L. (Kennett Square, PA, US)
Corrado, Joseph J. (New Castle, DE, US)
Robinson, Frank H. (Clayton, DE, US)
Wipf, William W. (New Castle, DE, US)
Application Number:
11/700479
Publication Date:
09/06/2007
Filing Date:
01/31/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
198/300
International Classes:
E02F5/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BEACH, THOMAS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz LLP (Wilmington, DE, US)
Claims:
What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. A materials moving apparatus comprising: a motor operated vehicle; a scraper housing attached to the vehicle; a conveyor belt operating within the housing to discharge material from the housing; an upwardly sloped materials transfer plate attached to the housing having a first edge proximate the material being moved and a second edge located proximate to and above the conveyor belt for conveying material to the conveyor; and a rotating material mover mounted on the housing adjacent the earth transfer plate to assist in transfer of material from the plate to the conveyor

2. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the material mover is a rotating drum with vanes mounted thereon

3. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the material mover is a shaft with members extending therefrom into close proximity to the upper surface of the earth transfer plate.

4. The apparatus according to claim 2 wherein the members extending from the material mover are arranged in a helical pattern.

5. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the axes of the material mover is located near the middle of the materials transfer plate.

6. An earthmoving attachment comprising: A scraper housing including a scraper blade, an upwardly sloped earth transfer plate, a scraper conveyor belt positioned below the upper edge of the sloped earth transfer plate for continuously moving material from material transfer plate toward an opening in the scraper housing; and a material mover adjacent the material transfer plate for assisting movement of the material from the sloped material transfer plate onto the conveyor.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/368,194 filed on Mar. 3, 2006. The benefit of this application pursuant to 35 USC §120 is requested.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to earthmoving equipment. Earthmoving equipment is typically used for excavating, pushing, and/or transporting large quantities of earth. Some examples of earthmoving equipment include bulldozers, road graders, track or wheel front end loaders, backhoes, bucket wheel excavators, and wheel tractor-scrapers. More particularly, the invention relates to a device that can be attached to conventional earthmoving equipment to enhance its material scraping and transportation abilities.

In earthmoving, the goals are to move material quickly and economically. Typically to increase the speed of removal requires a higher investment cost in more expensive equipment. For example, a piece of specialized heavy equipment, similar to the wheel-tractor scraper disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,276,077, is used to remove and transport large amounts of earth. The wheel tractor-scraper has a rear portion with a vertically moveable hopper that has a sharp horizontal front edge. The hopper can be hydraulically lowered and raised. In the lowered position, the front edge of the hopper “cuts” into the soil, which is then collected into the hopper as the scraper advances along its path. When the hopper is filled, it can be closed with a vertical blade and the tractor-scraper is driven to a desired location, typically called a “fill” area, where the contents are dumped. Scrapers can be very efficient on short hauls where the cut and fill areas are close together and have a scraping area of sufficient length to fill the hopper. One disadvantage of wheeled tractor-scrapers is that they are large, expensive machines that are highly specialized solely for the purpose of scraping and dumping. Furthermore, the operator must cease scraping to dump the contents of the hopper, which consumes valuable time.

Another disadvantage of such devices is their weight, especially when loaded. That weight can cause severe problems when operating in certain soil conditions, more particularly the weight of the device can break through the soil surface. That, in turn, can mire the device in loose soil and prevent effective scraping.

Other prior material removal devices, such as the continuous excavating machine disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,616,880 (Nozaki et al.), comprises a rotating cutter drum which loosens earth and deposits it on a scraper that is pulled or pushed along the ground to collect the loosened material and force it onto a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt transfers the material to a desired location or dump truck for transporting to a more distant location. The primary disadvantage of this type of scraper is that, like the tractor-scraper, a user must purchase a separate piece of relatively large and expensive equipment to loosen and remove material from the earth.

Bulldozers, loaders and other types of relatively common earthmoving equipment can also be used to remove and transport earth or other material. A bulldozer is a conventional device, as described, for example, in U.S. Patent Application Publication 2005/0126055, and is a tracked vehicle equipped with a large thick metal plate, typically called a blade, attached on its front end. As the machine is driven forward, the blade scrapes, pushes and relocates earthen material. A similar machine called a loader, also known as a front loader, front end loader, bucket loader, scoop loader or shovel, is a type of wheeled or tracked vehicle that, like a bulldozer, can scrape and push material, but also has arms and a rotatable bucket that lift and move material into, for example, a truck. Loaders and bulldozers may be provided with linkage and hydraulic couplers that allow the user to replace the bucket or plate with other tools.

Bulldozer and loaders are advantageous in that they are more versatile, more readily available, and may be relatively less expensive compared to tractor-scrapers and specialized excavator equipment. However, these vehicles are typically relatively limited in the amount of material that they can remove. For example, bulldozers are typically limited to pushing material around and are unable to load material on a truck for more distant dumping. Although a front end loader or other bucket style device can lift dirt to a dump truck or other transportation means, the removal process advances relatively slowly because the operator must periodically stop scraping in order to dump the contents of the bucket. Furthermore, a loader bucket can usually store only about 3-5 cubic yards of earthen material before it must be emptied.

It is therefore an objective of the present invention to provide a device that will allow for the quick and efficient scraping and removal of dirt or other earthen material. It is further an objective of the present invention to adapt the scraping and removing device for attachment to a standard and versatile piece of equipment such as a bulldozer or front-end loader. It is still further an objective of the invention that the scraper attachment be capable of simultaneously scraping the earth and moving material along a boom conveyor to move the material to another location, such as a truck.

The following disclosure describes a novel earthmoving device that can be attached to standard earthmoving equipment and that overcomes the deficiencies of the prior art.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In order to achieve the above mentioned objectives the invention provides an attachment for the front of earthmoving equipment, such as a bulldozer or front end loader. More particularly, the invention may include a scraper housing with a back wall, a first side wall, a second side wall including an opening through a portion of the second side wall. A scraper blade for scraping material may be located proximate the front the scraper. An earth transfer plate may be attached to the scraper blade for directing material from the scraper blade to a scraper conveyor. The scraper conveyor may be conveyor belt for continuously moving material in a direction toward the second side wall and positioned so that a top surface of the scraper conveyor belt lies below at least one edge of the earth transfer plate for catching material as it is scraped and collected.

A rotating material mover can also be mounted on the scraper housing to assist movement of material along the upwardly sloping surface of the earth transfer plate onto the scraper conveyor. This rotating material mover typically includes a central rotating drum or shaft with radial extensions that sweep earth or other materials up the sloping surface of the earth transfer plate onto the conveyor.

The invention may also comprise a boom conveyor attached to, and extending from, an outside portion of the second side wall of the scraper housing and located below the opening in the second side wall to catch material conveyed past the edge of the scraper conveyor belt, the boom conveyor further comprising a belt oriented to carry the material away from the scraper housing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Novel features and advantages of the present invention in addition to those noted above will become apparent to persons of ordinary skill in the art from a reading of the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein similar reference characters refer to similar parts and in which:

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of one embodiment of earthmoving apparatus in accordance with this invention showing an earth moving scraper attachment to a vehicle such as a bulldozer, the attachment having a conveyor system for discharging excavated material;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the earthmoving apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top elevational view of the earthmoving apparatus shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is bottom plan view of the scraper housing shown in FIGS. 1-3; and

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view in elevation taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of another embodiment of earthmoving apparatus in accordance with this invention showing a rotating materials mover adjacent the upper end of the scraper blade.

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the earthmoving apparatus shown in FIG. 6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

One embodiment of the earthmoving apparatus device according the present invention will now be described in detail with reference to FIGS. 1-5.

FIG. 1 shows a front elevational view of the present invention. By way of example, a bulldozer 10 or other suitable vehicle is connected to and drives scraper housing 12, which is designed to scrape earthen material 20 and collect it within scraper housing 12 (see FIG. 2). Scraper housing 12 may be provided with scraper conveyor belt 14 for transporting material from within scraper housing 12 to boom conveyor 16. Material 20 is then carried along boom conveyor 16 until it is discharged away from scraper housing 12. For example, the material may be discharged from the boom conveyor 16 into a truck 18.

The scraper housing 12 may be generally box-shaped and may include a rear wall 11 and side walls 13 and 15, shown in FIGS. 1 through 3. The scraper housing may be constructed of steel or other suitable material and the walls may be approximately one inch thick. The scraper housing may be approximately twelve feet wide, approximately seven feet deep (i.e. from rear wall 11 to the front edge of scraper blade 24), and approximately five feet tall. Although scraper housing 12 may be provided with top, bottom, or front walls (not shown), preferably the scraper housing does not have these elements. Instead, brace 17, which may be comprised of steel tubing, may provide structural support between side walls 13 and 15 (see FIGS. 1, 2). A reinforcement frame 21 of, for example, one inch thick steel may be provided around the perimeter of scraper housing 12 for additional structural support. The scraper housing 12 may be maintained within the reinforcement frame 21, by any suitable means including, but not limited to, gravity assisted contact, securing devices such as nut and bolt configurations (not shown), or welding at one or more points along frame 21. The scraper housing 12 and reinforcement frame 21 may be integral. Other details of scraper housing 12 will be provided below with particular reference to its operation.

FIG. 2 shows a side elevational view of scraper housing 12 and illustrates how it is attached to bulldozer 10. A bracket 52, which may be L-shaped, may be utilized to connect the bulldozer 10 to frame 21, or to scraper housing 12 at back wall 11, or to both the frame 21 and scraper housing 12. The connection may be accomplished using any conventional linkage mechanism. A hydraulic cylinder 54 may also be attached between the bulldozer 10 and scraper housing 12 to allow the operator to raise, lower, and/or tilt scraper housing 12. Bracket 52 may be the arms conventionally used for mounting the original bulldozer blade.

As shown in FIG. 2, when an operator (not shown) drives bulldozer 10 forward, the scraper housing 12 is pushed along the earth 22 with the scraper blade 24 impinging into the earth 22 a depth of, for example, approximately 6″ to 12″. As scraper housing 12 is advanced forward, earthen material 20 is scraped from the surface of the earth 22 and collected within scraper housing 12. More particularly, as scraper blade 24 digs into earth 22, earthen material 20 is gathered and forced onto and along earth transfer plate 26 by virtue of the force of the earthen material 20 being scraped and collected. Upon being pushed beyond the edge of earth transfer plate 26, earthen material 20 is then deposited onto scraper conveyor belt 14. The scraper blade may extend, for example, approximately two inches from the bottom of the scraper housing 12.

The earth transfer plate 26 and scraper blade 24 may be placed at an angle of, for example, 20 to 60 degrees with respect to the bottom of scraper housing 12. Preferably, the earth transfer plate 26 and scraper blade 24 are oriented at an angle of 30 degrees with respect to the scraper housing 12. Earth transfer plate 26 may be of any suitable material of any suitable thickness. For example, earth transfer plate 26 may be a one inch thick steel. Blade 24 may also be constructed of hardened steel and may have a tapered end to enhance the scraping function. Blade 24 may extend approximately two inches below the bottom of scraper housing 12.

As mentioned above, material 20 is deposited from the earth transfer plate 26 onto the scraper conveyor belt 14. Scraper belt 14 may be comprised of metal, rubber, plastic, fabric, or other suitable material and may be driven by one or more motors 28. The motor(s) 28 may be powered by a separate power supply located on the rear of the vehicle 10. Alternatively, the motors 28 may be hydraulic and may be connected to the hydraulic system of the bulldozer 10. Belt 14 may be supported by rollers 30 located proximate to side wall 13 and side wall 15 of scraper 12. Additional, and potentially smaller, rollers 32 may also be placed under belt 14 to provide additional support. Rollers 30 and 32 may comprise bearings (not shown) that are mounted on rods (not shown) as is conventional in the arts of roller and conveyor belt technologies. Rollers 30 and 32 may be attached to scraper housing 12 at the back wall 11 and at center support member 57 to provide support to scraper belt 14. Center support member 57 may be attached to side wall 13 and side wall 15 and may provide support to the earth transfer plate 26. Alternatively or additionally, center support member 57 may be attached to and supported by one or more lateral cross-members 56. Motor 28 turns belt 14 and advances material 20 toward opening 19 provided in side wall 13 which is aligned with boom conveyor 16, as shown in FIG. 3.

As belt 14 turns, material 20 is eventually deposited onto boom conveyor 16. Boom conveyor is attached to side wall 13 at brackets 39 using any conventional means, such as, for example, a bolt and nut configuration. Boom conveyor 16 comprises a belt 34 that may be driven by a motor 36. Boom conveyor 16 may also be provided with rollers 38 at each end to allow belt 34 to rotate more freely. Rollers 38 may comprise bearings (not shown) that are mounted on rods (not shown) as is conventional in the art and described with respect to rollers 30 and 32 above. Support structure 40 may be provided between rollers 38 to provide structural support for belt 34. Belt 34 may also be provided with raised surfaces 42 to improve the transportation of material 20 along boom conveyor 16, as further described below.

Boom 16 may be supported by one or more boom support members 44, which may comprise a cable, wire, rod or other suitable means of support. An anchor bracket 46 or other attachment means may be provided to attach support member 44 to boom 16. Support member 44 may be attached to scraper housing 12 with mounting bracket 48. Support member 44 may further be provided with an adjustor 50 to permit a user to raise and lower boom 16. Adjustor 50 may be manual or power-assisted with a hydraulic cylinder or other suitable power means. If the adjustor 50 is a hydraulic cylinder as show in FIGS. 1 and 3, the adjustor may be connected to the hydraulic system of the bulldozer 10. A hydraulic powered or manual winch (not shown) may be used as adjustor 50 rather than hydraulic cylinder 50 shown. Boom 16 may be provided with a suitable length and angle to efficiently advance and discharge material 20 into a truck 18, which may have a height of, for example, 10-13 feet.

As shown in FIG. 4, the bottom of scraper housing 12 may be generally open, but may comprise lateral cross members 56, which may extend to and provide support for blade 24, earth transfer plate 26, center support member 57 and back wall 11. Adjacent cross members 56 may be spaced apart by, for example, approximately twelve inches. As FIG. 4 also shows, blade 24 may be secured to earth transfer plate 26 by bolts 58 or other suitable securing means. Transfer plate 26 may be welded to cross members 56. Bolts 58, or other suitable attaching means, may be used to attach replaceable cutting edge 24.

As shown in FIG. 5, conveyor belt 14 may be provided with chevron or V-shaped raised portions 59. The chevron or V-shape is preferably oriented as shown in FIG. 3 so that the center of the V-shape follows the ends of the V-shape in the direction of travel, which are illustrated for belts 14 and 16 by arrows 60 and 62, respectively. The V-shaped pattern assists in urging material 20 toward opening 19 and along boom 16 thereby preventing material slippage.

Another embodiment of this invention is illustrated in FIGS. 6-7. In this embodiment the structure of the basic scraper housing 12 is essentially the same as on the prior embodiment. Sidewalls 13 and 15 are structurally oriented in generally parallel alignment at the ends of the scraper housing 12. A structural brace 17 and center support 57 connect the sidewalls as described in more detail above. Scraper housing 12 is operably mounted to bulldozer 10 or like earthmoving vehicle with the bracket 52 and cylinder 54 as also described above. The boon 16 containing conveyor belt 34 and its attachment to the scraper housing (brackets 39 and 46 and support number 44) can be the same as shown in FIGS. 1-5.

A scraper blade 24, preferably of hardened steel, is attached to the earth transfer plate 26 with suitable bolts or fasteners 58. As described above it is oriented to the earthen surface being excavated at a suitable angle relative to the surface of the earth so that movement of earth 22 or other material is forced upwardly across the earth transfer plate 26 toward the scraper conveyor belt 14.

Certain types of earth 20 or other material, particularly heavy, wet material, rocky soil, clay, trash laden earth and the like do not readily progress up the earth transfer plate 26 toward conveyor belt 14, even at low angles (20-30 degrees). Such materials tend to aggregate and pile up near the middle to upper portions of earth transfer plate 26 and do not readily discharge over the upper edge of that plate onto conveyor belt 14. This retarded movement of earth or other material onto conveyor belt 14 and then into truck 18 via boom 16 can impair the throughput of this apparatus. This problem reduces its value to the user, typically a road builder or like contractor.

To improve throughput in the situation where earth 20 or other material does not readily move up earth transfer plate 26 onto scraper conveyor belt 14, a rotating material mover 70 can be used. As shown in FIGS. 6-7, the material mover 70 typically includes a central, rotating shaft or drum 72 which is mounted to sidewalls 13 and 15 of scraper housing 12 in suitable bearings or journals 74, 76. A drum 72 is preferred because its tubular structure reduces deflection across the span between sidewalls 13 and 15. The material mover 70 is rotated by a suitable belt or chain 78 driven by a motor 80. Alternatively, the material mover 70 can be driven by a hydraulic motor or powered from the bulldozer or other vehicle 10, or other suitable power means. Preferably, the material mover rotates at about 50-100 revolutions per minute.

Suitable vanes or paddles 82 are mounted on the peripheral surface of rotating drum or shaft 72 and rotate with that shaft. As illustrated these vanes or paddles 82 are shown as plates mounted at a ninety degree (90°) angle to the axis of shaft or drum 72. However, it is to be understood that such vanes 82 can be oriented at various angles to that axis. In addition the alignment of such vanes or paddles 82 can be other than in a straight line as shown. The invention also contemplates a helical or other configuration of the vanes 82 on shaft or drum 78 to best move earth or other material up and over the top of earth transfer plate 26 onto conveyor belt 14.

In a preferred embodiment drum 72 has vanes 82 which are about 12″×3″×1″ thick. They are arranged in four rows spaced at 90 degrees around the periphery of the drum—(90 degree-180 degree-270 degree-360 degree). Each row is offset about six inches from the preceding row as shown in FIG. 6.

In operation, material mover 70 can be rotated whenever the nature of the material being moved up the earth transfer plate 26 causes it to back up at the top of that plate and not readily move onto conveyor belt 14. This rotation of material mover 70 can be accomplished by simply activating motor 80 that drives the material mover as previously described. The axis of material mover 70 is positioned on sidewalls 13, 15 of scraper housing 12 so that the outer ends of vanes, paddles 82 or other configurations extending from shaft or drum 72 are sufficiently close to the upper surface of earth transfer plate 26 to move the earth 20 or other material up the slope of earth transfer plate 26 onto conveyor belt 14. In a preferred embodiment the shaft or drum 72 is located on sidewalls of scraper housing 12 so that vanes or paddles 82 pass over the sloped surface of plate 26 at about the midpoint between the earth 22 and the scrapper conveyor belt 14. To maintain proper spacing of the vanes 82 from the surface of plate 26 it is preferable to use a drum instead of a shaft to carry blades or vanes 82. The stiffness of the drum helps to avoid deflection that might adversely affect this gap between vane tips and the upper surface of plate 26.

The foregoing description of the invention illustrates and describes the present invention. Additionally, the disclosure shows and describes only the preferred embodiments of the invention, but it is to be understood that the invention is capable of use in various other combinations, modifications, and environments and is capable of changes or modifications within the scope of the inventive concept as expressed herein, commensurate with the above teachings, and/or the skill or knowledge in the art of equipment manufacture. Accordingly, the description is not intended to limit the invention to the form disclosed herein. Also, it is intended that the appended claims be construed to include alternative embodiments.