Title:
Auger For Use With Trenching Assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A trenching assembly featuring a novel auger arrangement. The arrangement comprises an auger assembly and a digging chain rotatably connected to a trenching boom. The digging chain rotates, driven by a motor, to dislodge soil and creating a trench. The dislodged soil, or spoil, builds up near a projected path of the digging chain. The auger assembly operates to move the spoil from a projected path of the trench. The auger rotates independently from the digging chain and is positioned such that a projected width of the digging chain intersects a threaded length of the auger assembly. The auger may rotate faster than if driven by the digging chain, allowing the auger to have a smaller diameter than conventional augers. Further, the auger can be used in conjunction with a backfill blade to refill cleaned trenches without operation of the digging chain.



Inventors:
Hamburger, Jacob A. (Perry, OK, US)
Sewell, Cody L. (Perry, OK, US)
Application Number:
11/691955
Publication Date:
09/27/2007
Filing Date:
03/27/2007
Assignee:
The Charles Machine Works, Inc. (Perry, OK, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02F3/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RISIC, ABIGAIL ANNE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Tomlinson McKinstry, P.C. (Oklahoma City, OK, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A trenching assembly comprising: a frame; a trenching boom connected to the frame; a digging chain rotatably connected to the trenching boom; and an auger rotatably supported on the frame; wherein the rotation of the auger may be operated independent of the rotation of the digging chain.

2. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the auger is adapted to be tilted relative to the ground.

3. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the auger is inclined relative to a horizontal plane.

4. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the auger defines a threaded length such that a portion of the threaded length extends on each side of a projected width defined by the digging chain.

5. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the trenching assembly is attachable to a motorized work vehicle.

6. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the trenching assembly is attachable to a motorized work vehicle at an articulation joint.

7. The trenching assembly of claim 6 wherein an attachment point of the auger to the frame is located between the articulation joint and a pivot point of the trenching boom.

8. The trenching assembly of claim 1 further comprising at least one ground supporting member.

9. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the auger is substantially parallel to the ground.

10. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the vertical distance of the auger relative to the ground is modifiable.

11. The trenching assembly of claim 1 further comprising a backfill blade.

12. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the auger rotates without rotation of the digging chain.

13. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the auger is adapted to rotate in forward or reverse.

14. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein a diameter of the auger is dependent upon a mounting location of the auger.

15. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the position of the auger on the frame is adjustable.

16. The trenching assembly of claim 1 wherein the rotation speed of the auger may be varied dynamically.

17. A trenching assembly comprising: a trencher blade comprising a digging chain and a trenching boom, wherein the digging chain is rotatably driven about the trenching boom at a rotation rate; and an auger, rotationally driven such that a rotation rate of the auger is independent of the rotation rate of the digging chain.

18. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein the auger is adapted to be tilted relative to the ground.

19. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein the auger is inclined relative to a horizontal plane.

20. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein the trenching assembly is attachable to a motorized work vehicle at an articulation joint.

21. The trenching assembly of claim 20 wherein an attachment point of the auger to the frame is located between the articulation joint and a pivot point of the trenching boom.

22. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein a rate of rotation of the auger may be dynamically changed.

23. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein a change in the rate of rotation of the auger does not affect a rate of rotation of the digging chain.

24. The trenching assembly of claim 17 further comprising at least one ground supporting member.

25. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein the auger is parallel to the ground.

26. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein the orientation of the auger relative to the ground is modifiable.

27. The trenching assembly of claim 17 further comprising a backfill blade.

28. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein the auger defines a threaded length such that a portion of the threaded length extends on each side of a projected width defined by the digging chain.

29. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein the auger is cantilever mounted.

30. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein the auger is adapted be operated in the reverse direction.

31. The trenching assembly of claim 17 wherein the auger position is adjustable relative to the trencher blade.

32. The trenching assembly of claim 31 wherein the auger position is operably adjustable.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/743,816 filed on Mar. 27, 2006, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of work machines, and particularly to a work machine having a trencher and auger attachment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a trenching assembly. The trenching assembly comprises a frame, a trenching boom, a digging chain, and an auger. The trenching boom is pivotally connected to the frame. The digging chain is rotatably connected to the trenching boom, and is characterized by a digging speed. The auger is rotatably supported on the frame, and is characterized by a rotation speed. The rotation speed of the auger may be varied dynamically and without affecting the digging speed of the digging chain.

In yet another embodiment, the trenching assembly comprises a trencher blade and an auger. The trencher blade comprises a digging chain. The digging chain is rotatably driven about a trenching boom. The auger is rotationally driven such that a rotation rate of the auger is independent of the rotation of the digging chain.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of a work machine having a trenching apparatus built in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is side view of an alternative work machine configuration having a trenching apparatus built in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a side cut-away of the trenching apparatus of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a bottom cut-away of the trenching apparatus of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a front cut-away of a trenching apparatus with a trenching blade in a raised position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference now to FIG. 1, a trenching machine 10 is shown. The trenching machine 10 comprises a power unit 12 and a trenching assembly 14. As shown, the trenching assembly 14 is attached to the power unit 12 at an articulation plate 16. In a preferred embodiment, the articulation plate 16 pivots about a vertical axis giving the trenching machine 10 greater range of motion. The trenching assembly 14 comprises at least one ground supporting member 18.

The power unit 12 comprises an engine 20 and at least one ground engaging drive member 22. The at least one ground engaging drive member 22 is powered by the engine 20 and adapted for translational motion. The engine 20 provides power to various components and motors of the power unit 12 and the trenching assembly 14. The power unit 12 preferably comprises a platform 24 and a plurality of controls 26, allowing an operator to control the mobility of the machine 10 and to operate the trenching assembly 14.

With continued reference to FIG. 1, the trenching assembly 14 comprises a frame 28, a trenching blade 30, and an auger assembly 32. The frame 28 comprises a connection assembly 34 and the at least one ground supporting member 18. The connection assembly 34 is adapted for connection to the power unit 12 at the articulation plate 16. Alternatively, the connection assembly 34, and thus the trenching assembly 14, may be connected to a tool carrier. Preferably, the connection assembly 34 is adapted to pivotally connect the trenching assembly 14 to the power unit 12 for steering of the machine 10 at the articulation joint 16. More preferably, the connection assembly 34 is adapted to pivotally connect the trenching assembly 14 to the power unit 12 as disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/610,428, the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein.

Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 2, the trenching assembly 14 having an auger assembly 32 (to be later described) may be integral with a rigid frame trenching machine 10 of either a conventional walk-along or ride-on configuration. As shown, the ground supporting member 18 of the trenching assembly 14 and the ground engaging drive members 22 on the power unit 20 comprise one or more wheels. The ground supporting member 18 and ground engaging drive members 22 may alternatively comprise tracks or a combination of tracks and wheels. The ground supporting member 18 of the trenching assembly 14 may be powered or unpowered.

Turning now to FIG. 3, the trenching assembly 14 is shown in greater detail. Trenching blade 30 of the assembly 14 comprises a trenching boom 35, a digging chain 36, and a plurality of cutting teeth 38. The trenching boom 35 is pivotally connected to the frame 28 and pivots about a headshaft pivot point 40. The digging chain 36 extends around a periphery of the trenching boom 35. The digging chain 36 is adapted to rotate around the trenching boom 35, and is powered by a trenching hydraulic motor 44 (shown in FIG. 4). Preferably, the speed of the digging chain 36 is capable of being dynamically varied by operation of the trencher motor 44. The plurality of cutting teeth 38 is mounted on the digging chain 36. The trenching boom 35 is generally moveable between a plurality of positions about the pivot point 40 by a hydraulic cylinder or similar lifting assembly.

The trenching blade 30 may be in a raised position, in which the cutting teeth 38 do not contact the ground. The trenching blade 30 may alternatively be in a lowered position, in which the cutting teeth engage the ground. In the lowered position, the cutting teeth 38 engage and loosen ground material and move the displaced ground material, or spoils, to the surface, creating a trench as the machine traverses from right to left as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. Preferably, a digging speed of the digging chain 36 may be controlled by the operator to affect a rate at which the trench is created. The trencher boom 35 and trencher motor 44 are controlled by an operator with one or more of the controls 26.

In a preferred embodiment, at least one spoils drag 45 is adjustably attached to the trenching boom 35. The at least one spoils drag 45 slides loosened ground material, or spoil, away from the trench thus reducing the amount of spoils reentering the trench. Preferably, a plurality of spoils drags 45 are used and adjustably attached to each side of the trenching boom 35. In this embodiment, spoils are loosened by the digging chain 36 and moved away from the open trench. Spoils remaining by the trench are displaced away from an edge of the trench by the spoils drags 45.

Referring now to FIG. 4, a bottom view of the trenching assembly 14 is shown. The auger assembly 32 is provided to move spoils generated by the trencher blade 30 away from the trench. The auger assembly 32 is mounted on the frame 28, directly in front of the trenching blade 30 relative to the direction of trenching. The auger assembly 32 preferably comprises an auger motor 46, a hub 48, and an auger 50.

The auger motor 46, characterized by an output speed, drives a rotation of the auger 50. The output speed of the auger motor 46, and thus the rotation speed of the auger 50, is preferably dynamically varied by operation of one or more of the controls 26. Preferably, and because the auger 50 is driven by the motor 46 independent of the trencher motor 44, the auger rotation speed can be varied independent of the rotation of the digging chain 36 without affecting the speed of the digging chain as controlled by the trencher motor 44. This aspect of invention provides benefits not found in prior art, for example in varying speed based upon soil conditions. Thus, if operation of the trenching blade 30 causes spoils to accumulate faster than the auger assembly 32 is removing them, the rotation speed of the auger 50 can be increased, increasing the ability of the auger assembly to move spoils away from the trench.

The hub 48 houses bearings and seals and is secured to the frame 28. The auger 50 comprises a threaded length 52. The auger 50 is attached to the hub 48, and rotated by operation of the auger motor 46. Preferably, the auger assembly 32 is cantilever mounted and level to the ground. More preferably, the auger 50 is placed proximate the digging chain 36 and low to the ground. Most preferably, the auger 50 is attached to the frame 28 at a point between the rear ground drive members 22 and the pivot point 40 of the trenching boom 35. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the auger 50 is attached to the frame 28 at a point between the articulation plate 16 and the pivot point 40 of the trenching boom 35.

The auger 50 is preferably of a smaller diameter than the traditional trencher auger. A shorter flighting pitch of the smaller auger 50 and increased rotation speed breaks the spoils into finer pieces, allowing the spoils to be conveyed to a side of the work machine 10, resulting in a cleaner trench. Further, this feature makes it easier to return the spoils to the trench. The auger 50 may also be rotated at a higher rate of speed than the digging chain 36, permitting a smaller diameter auger 50. A smaller diameter auger 50 allows for a more compact configuration and increased versatility of placement.

With continued reference to FIG. 4, the digging chain 36 defines a projected discharge width 54. The flighting, or threaded length 52 of the auger 50 is in front of and traverses across the discharge width 54 of the digging chain 36. This configuration allows spoils to be transferred from one side of the projected discharge width 54 to the other along the threaded length 52 more efficiently Thus, in this configuration, one auger assembly 32 may do the work of a two-auger system. Further, only one pile of spoils is created, reducing the work required in backfilling a trench.

Alternatively, and now with reference to FIG. 5, the auger 50 may be tilted from horizontal. Preferably, in the alternative embodiment, the auger 50 is inclined relative to the ground. The inclined auger 50 allows the auger flighting to be low to the ground near the digging chain 36, while providing clearance from the ground to an end 56 of the auger remote from the hub 48. The auger 50 orientation may be tilted by adjustment of the hub 48. The adjustment may be made by inclining the auger assembly 32 with shims. Alternatively, the adjustment may be made with a pin-slot arrangement. In yet another alternative, the adjustment of the auger assembly 32 may be made dynamically using hydraulics. The vertical distance from the auger 50 to the ground may alternatively be adjusted by mounting the auger in a movable frame with incremental adjustments or dynamically with a hydraulic cylinder. The diameter of the auger 50 can be selected to optimize its mounting location and height from the ground. One skilled in the art will appreciate the beneficial aspects of a tilted auger 50 may also be accomplished with a tapered auger. With a tapered auger 50, the diameter of the auger or the diameter of the flighting may vary along its length. Further, the auger 50 may be both tilted and tapered.

With reference again to FIG. 3, the trenching assembly 14 further comprises an optionally installed backfill blade 58. The backfill blade 58 is mounted to the frame 28 and is preferably located between the auger 50 and the power unit 12. Spoils can be backfilled into an exposed trench without operation of the trenching blade 30 or the auger assembly 32 by pushing the spoils with the backfill blade 58. In an alternative mode of operation, the backfill blade 58 may be used to guide spoils into the auger assembly 32, for backfilling into the trench.

In operation, as the digging chain 36 loosens spoils, the spoils are deposited near the auger assembly 32. The spoils are then moved from near the digging chain 36 to the end 56 of the auger 50 by rotation of the threaded length 52 of the auger. Thus, a pile of spoils forms at the end 56 of the auger 50, instead of in the path of the trenching blade 30. Spoils not removed by the auger assembly 32 are displaced from proximate the newly formed trench by the spoils drag 45, as described earlier.

The auger assembly 32 can alternatively be used as a backfill auger. In this configuration, the trencher blade 30 is raised and the trencher motor 44 is not activated. The auger 50 moves collected spoils from the spoils pile to proximate an uncovered trench. Preferably, the machine 10 is translated in a direction opposite a direction of the trenching operation while the auger 50 is rotated in an opposite direction than it rotates when removing spoil from proximate the trench. In this way, use of the backfill blade 58 and the rotation of the auger 50 will cause spoils to be moved back into the trench.

Various modifications can be made in the design and operation of the present invention without departing from the spirit thereof. Thus, while the principal preferred construction and modes of operation of the invention have been explained in what is now considered to represent its best embodiments, which have been illustrated and described, it should be understood that the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically illustrated and described.