Title:
Quick-attach mechanism for attaching a blade to an off-road vehicle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A quick-attach system for attaching and detaching the rearward ends of the push tubes of a blade, a materials handling structure, or other devices to the underside of an off-road vehicle such as an ATV or UTV. The system includes a mounting plate secured to the underside of the vehicle and which has a pair of mounting pins positioned therebelow. A quick-attach mechanism is provided at the rearward end of each of the push tubes and a spring-loaded latching lever thereon automatically performing the attaching function to associated mounting pin. The latching lever may be manually moved to an unlatched position to permit the quick-attach mechanism to be disconnected from the mounting pin.



Inventors:
Bailey, Alan D. (Spirit Lake, IA, US)
Kempf, Randy J. (Greeenwood, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/656240
Publication Date:
07/24/2008
Filing Date:
01/22/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02F3/96
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
RISIC, ABIGAIL ANNE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMTE LAW OFFICE, L.L.C. (OMAHA, NE, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. In combination: an off-road vehicle having a forward end, a rearward end, a right side, a left side, and an underside; a mounting bracket secured to said underside of said vehicle between said rearward and forward ends thereof; said mounting bracket having horizontally disposed first and second mounting pin portions positioned thereon; a blade mounting frame having rearward and forward ends; said blade mounting frame including first and second elongated push tubes having rearward and forward ends; a first quick-attach mechanism secured to said rearward end of said first push tube; a second quick-attach mechanism secured to said rearward end of said second push tube; said first and second quick-attach mechanisms being adapted to be selectively pivotally secured to said first and second mounting pin portions, respectively; and a structure operatively secured to said forward ends of said first and second push tubes; said first and second quick-attach mechanisms permitting said mounting frame to be removed from said vehicle during times of other uses.

2. The combination of claim 1 wherein said structure which is operatively secured to said push tubes comprises a materials handling structure.

3. The combination of claim 1 wherein said structure comprises a blade structure.

4. The combination of claim 1 wherein each of said first and second quick-attach mechanisms have an upwardly presented mounting pin recess formed therein for receiving the associated mounting pin portion therein, and a latch member pivotally movable about a horizontal axis which is movable between latched and unlatched positions; said latch member extending over the associated mounting pin portion in the mounting pin recess thereof which is in its said latched position to maintain the pivotal connection of said quick-attach mechanism with the associated mounting pin portion.

5. The combination of claim 4 wherein said latch member of each of said quick-attach mechanisms are spring-loaded to yieldably urge said latch member towards its said latched position.

6. The combination of claim 5 wherein said latch member of each of said quick-attach mechanisms is normally in its said latch position but automatically moves to its unlatched position due to the engagement of the associated mounting pin portion therewith as said quick-attach mechanism is attached to the associated mounting pin portion.

7. The combination of claim 1 wherein each of said rearward ends of said push tubes have a mounting plate secured thereto and wherein the associated quick-attach mechanism is removably secured to said mounting plate.

8. The combination of claim 7 wherein the said associated quick-attach mechanism is bolted onto said mounting plate.

9. The combination of claim 7 wherein the said associated quick-attach mechanism is clamped onto said mounting plate.

10. A mounting means for quickly attaching a structure to an off-road vehicle having a forward end, a rearward end, a right side, a left side and an underside, comprising: a mounting bracket adapted to be secured to the underside of the vehicle between the rearward and forward ends thereof; said mounting bracket having laterally spaced-apart and horizontally disposed first and second elongated mounting pin portions positioned thereon; a mounting frame having rearward and forward ends; said mounting frame including first and second elongated push tubes having rearward and forward ends; a first quick-attach mechanism secured to said rearward end of said first push tube; a second quick-attach mechanism secured to said rearward end of said second push tube; said first and second quick-attach mechanisms being adapted to be selectively pivotally secured to said first and second mounting pin portions, respectively; said forward ends of said first and second push tubes adapted to have the structure operatively secured thereto; said first and second quick-attach mechanisms permitting said mounting frame to be removed from the vehicle during times of other uses.

11. The mounting means of claim 10 wherein each of said first and second quick-attach mechanisms have an upwardly presented mounting pin recess formed therein for receiving the associated mounting pin portion therein, and a latch member pivotally movable about a horizontal axis which is movable between latched and unlatched positions; said latch member extending over the associated mounting pin portion in the mounting pin recess thereof which is in its said latched position to maintain the pivotal connection of said quick-attach mechanism with the associated mounting pin portion.

12. The mounting means of claim 11 wherein said latch member of each of said quick-attach mechanisms are spring-loaded to yieldably urge said latch member towards its said latched position.

13. The mounting means of claim 12 wherein said latch member of each of said quick-attach mechanisms is normally in its said latch position but automatically moves to its unlatched position due to the engagement of the associated mounting pin therewith as said quick-attach mechanism is attached to the associated mounting pin.

14. The mounting means of claim 10 wherein each of said rearward ends of said push tubes have a mounting plate secured thereto and wherein the associated quick-attach mechanism is removably secured to said mounting plate.

15. The mounting means of claim 14 wherein the said associated quick-attach mechanism is bolted onto said mounting plate.

16. The mounting means of claim 14 wherein the said associated quick-attach mechanism is clamped onto said mounting plate.

17. The mounting means of claim 10 wherein said structure comprises a materials handling structure.

18. The mounting means of claim 10 wherein said structure comprises a blade structure.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a quick-attach system for an off-road vehicle, such as an ATV, UTV or the like, and more particularly to a quick-attach system for an off-road vehicle such as an ATV or UTV to enable a blade and push tube assembly to be quickly and easily connected to or detached from a mounting plate previously secured to the underside of the vehicle.

2. Description of the Related Art

Off-road vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs frequently have a blade assembly removably attached thereto to enable dirt or snow to be plowed. The blade assembly normally includes a pair of rearwardly extending push tubes which extend beneath the vehicle and which are pivotally connected to a mounting bracket secured to the underside of the vehicle. Normally, the rearward ends of the push tubes have a plate secured thereto which has one or more mounting holes therein which must register with mounting holes in the mounting bracket to enable the push tubes to be pivotally secured to the mounting bracket. Presently, the attachment of the push tubes to the mounting bracket and the disconnection therefrom is time-consuming and is difficult due to the requirement that the pin holes in the plates of the push tubes and the mounting bracket must be precisely aligned in order to insert a pin.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A quick-attach system is described which enables the rearward ends of the push tubes of blade assemblies to be quickly and easily attached to and detached from a mounting bracket secured to the underside of a off-road vehicle such as an ATV or UTV. The quick-attach system of this invention may be either retrofitted onto existing push tubes of blade systems or may be incorporated into the rearward ends of push tubes at the time of manufacturing the same.

In the system disclosed herein, a mounting bracket is secured to the underside of the vehicle and has a pair of laterally spaced and horizontally extending mounting pins positioned below the bottom surface of the mounting plate. A quick-attach assembly is provided on the rearward end of each of the push tubes and includes an upwardly presented recess which is adapted to receive the associated mounting pin on the mounting bracket. A ramp communicates with the recess to facilitate the movement of the quick-attach mechanism upwardly into mating engagement with the mounting pin. A locking latch or lever is pivotally mounted on the quick-attach mechanism and includes a forwardly extending nose portion which is positioning over the mounting pin when the mounting pin is received in the recess. The design of the nose, recess and ramp is such that upward movement of the quick-attach mechanism with respect to the mounting pin during the attachment process enables the mounting pin to slightly move the latching lever from its latched position to its unlatched position so that the mounting pin may be received in the recess. As soon as the mounting pin is received in the recess, the spring-loaded locking lever or latch moves to its locked position. Each of the quick-attach mechanisms may be disconnected from the associated mounting pin by moving the latch to its unlocked position which permits the quick-attach mechanism to be moved downwardly with respect to the mounting pin to disconnect the quick-attach mechanism from the mounting pin.

It is therefore a principal object of the invention to provide an improved quick-attach mechanism for quickly and easily attaching and detaching the rearward ends of push tubes of a blade assembly to a mounting bracket previously secured to the underside of the vehicle.

A further object of the invention is to provide a quick-attach assembly which enables mounting pins to be received thereby without manual movement of the associated locking or latching levers.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a quick-attach mechanism which is secured to the rearward ends of push tubes and which includes structure thereon which aids in aligning the quick-attach mechanism with the associated mounting pin.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a quick-attach system of the type described which may be mounted on previously manufactured push tubes or which may be incorporated into the rearward ends of the push tubes at the time of manufacture thereof.

These and other objects will be apparent to those skilled in the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of an off-road vehicle having a blade attached thereto;

FIG. 2 is a partial rear perspective view of the push tubes of the blade of FIG. 1 with the rearward ends of the push tubes having been retrofitted with quick-attach assemblies;

FIG. 3 is partial rear perspective view of the right-hand quick-attach mechanism of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the mechanism of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a partial rear perspective view illustrating the left-hand quick-attach assembly of FIG. 2 being secured to a mounting pin extending below a mounting plate secured to the underside of the vehicle;

FIG. 6 is a side view illustrating the manner in which the quick-attach assembly is secured to the mounting pin which is positioned below the mounting plate which is shown in section;

FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 6 except that the broken lines illustrate the movement of the locking lever being opened or unlocked to permit the quick-attach assembly to be disconnected from the mounting pin;

FIG. 8 is a rear perspective view of a quick-attach assembly which is incorporated into the rearward end of the push tube at the time of manufacturing the same;

FIG. 9 is a side view illustrating the locking lever in its locked position with respect to the mounting pin; and

FIG. 10 is a rear perspective view of a typical mounting bracket which is secured to the underside of the vehicle.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The numeral 10 refers generally to an off-road vehicle such as an ATV or UTV, which may be two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. ATV 10 includes a forward end 12, a rearward end 14, a right side 16, and a left side 18. The numeral 20 refers generally to a blade assembly which is secured to the ATV. The blade assembly 20 also includes means for pivoting the blade 22 of the blade assembly 20 about a vertical axis and includes conventional means for raising and lowering the blade 22 with respect to the vehicle 10.

The conventional blade assembly 20 normally includes a pair of rearwardly extending push tubes which will be identified as a right push tube 24 and a left push tube 26. In the conventional blade assemblies, the push tubes are pivotally secured to the frame of the ATV or to the rear hitch of the ATV through suitable connections. Normally, a plate 28 is secured to and extends between the push tubes 24 and 26 for strengthening purposes. In the conventional blade assemblies such as distributed by the assignee of this invention, the rearward ends of the push tubes 24 and 26 have mounting plates 30 and 32 secured thereto by welding or the like. The conventional mounting plates for push tubes 24 and 26 are illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 which have been retrofitted with the quick-attach mechanisms of this invention while FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate modified mounting plates which incorporate the quick-attach mechanisms of this invention. The conventional push tubes are also illustrated in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,843,002 and 6,957,505. The conventional mounting plates normally have a bolt or pin opening 34 (FIG. 4) formed therein to enable the rearward ends of the push tubes to be pivotally connected, about a horizontal axis, to a mounting plate secured to the underside of the vehicle 10 by means of pins or bolts. The mounting plates usually have an opening 35 formed therein.

With respect to FIGS. 2-7, the mounting plates 30 and 32 on push tubes 24 and 26 are retrofitted with quick-attach assemblies or mechanisms 36 and 36′, respectively. Inasmuch as mechanisms 36 and 36′ are identical, only mechanism 36 will be described in detail with “′” indicating identical structure on mechanism 36′. Mechanism 36 includes a plate 38 which is sandwiched or positioned between clamping members 40 and 42 which are bolted to mounting plate 30 by bolts 44 and 46, as illustrated in FIG. 4. As seen, bolts 44 and 46 extend through openings 45 and 47 formed in member 42, through openings 34 and 35 in plate 30 and through openings 47 and 48 formed in member 40. Bolts 49 and 50 extend through openings 52 and 54 in clamping member 40, through openings 56 and 58 in plate 38, and through openings 60 and 62 in clamping member 36. Nuts 64 and 66 are threadably mounted on bolts 49 and 50, respectively.

The upper end of plate 38 has a pin or bolt receiving recess 68 formed therein. The upper end of plate 38 also has an inclined ramp surface 70 formed therein, the lower end of which communicates with recess 68, as seen in FIG. 4. The lower rearward end of plate 38 has a notch or slot 72 formed therein which receives one end of spring 74 therein. The numeral 76 refers to a latch or locking lever which is positioned between the rearward ends of clamping members 40 and 42 and which is pivotally secured thereto by means of pivot pin 78 which extends through opening 80 formed in member 40, opening 82 formed in latch 76, and through opening 84 in member 42. Pin 78 may be a clevis pin or the like maintained in place by one or more cotter pins. Latch 76 has a notch or slot 86 formed therein which receives the other end of spring 74 therein with the spring 74 being positioned between the members 40 and 42. Latch 76 includes a hook or nose portion 88 at its upper end which extends forwardly therefrom. Latch 76 is also provided with a serrated finger-like protrusion 90 extending rearwardly from the lower end thereof (FIG. 4). Latch 76 is normally urged to its solid line latching or locked position by spring 74, as illustrated in FIG. 7, and is movable to its broken line unlocked position, also shown in FIG. 7. FIG. 10 illustrates a mounting plate 92 which is secured to the underside of the vehicle 10 by any convention means forwardly of the rearward end thereof.

When installed, plate 92 will be generally horizontally disposed. For purposes of description, plate 92 will be described as having a forward end 94, rearward end 96, right side 98 and left side 100. A pair or ears or brackets 102 and 104 are welded to the bottom surface of plate 92 adjacent the rearward end 96 at the right side of the plate 92. A horizontally disposed pin 106 extends therebetween which is spaced below the bottom surface of plate 92. Pin 106 may be a clevis pin or the like maintained in the ears 102 and 104 by one or more cotter pins. A pair of ears or brackets 108 and 110 are welded to the bottom surface of plate 92 adjacent the rearward end 96 at the left side of the plate 92 and have a horizontally disposed pin 112 extending therebetween which is spaced below the bottom surface of plate 92. Pin 112 may be a clevis pin or the like maintained in the ears 108 and 110 by one or more cotter pins. Although FIG. 10 illustrates a pair of spaced-apart pins 106 and 112, a single rod could extend across the underside of plate 92 with the quick-attach assemblies being secured to the ends of the single rod or to other locations on the rod as long as mounting pin portions are provided.

As stated, FIGS. 2-7 illustrate the quick-attach mechanism being retrofitted onto previously manufactured push tubes 24 and 26 having the plates 30 and 32 secured thereto. FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate the manner in which a quick-attach mechanism may be incorporated into a plate 30A at the time of manufacture. The upper rearward end of plate 30A has a recess 114 formed therein which corresponds to the recess 68 previously described. The upper rearward end of plate 30A also has an inclined surface or ramp 116 formed therein which corresponds to inclined surface or ramp 70. A latch 118 has a pair of ears 120 welded to the opposite sides thereof with the ears 120 being pivotally secured to the plate 30A by pin 122. Pin 122 may be a clevis pin or the like maintained in position by one or more cotter pins. Although the drawings illustrate that the ear 120 is welded to latch 118, members 118 and 20 could be cast as a single part. Spring 124 is positioned between plate 30A and latch 118, as seen in FIG. 9, to yieldably urge the latch 118 to its latched or locked position illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9 so that the nose 126 of latch 118 is positioned over the pin 106, as seen in FIG. 9, to maintain the quick-attach mechanism of FIGS. 8 and 9 on the mounting plate 92. The other push tube will have the same type of quick-attach mechanism (FIGS. 8 and 9) as that just described.

With respect to the retrofit embodiment of FIGS. 2-7, the quick-attach and detach procedure will now be described. Assuming that the blade structure 20 is disconnected from the vehicle and that the mounting plate of FIG. 10 has been previously secured to the underside of the vehicle 10, the vehicle 10 driven so that the push tubes 24 and 26 are positioned beneath the vehicle and the rearward ends thereof are positioned below the plate 92 near the rearward end thereof. The driver then dismounts from the vehicle and manually lifts the rearward end of push tube 24. The push tube 24 is maneuvered with respect to the mounting plate 92 so that the mounting pin 106 is received between the included ramp surface 70 at the end of the nose portion 88 of latch 76, as illustrated in FIG. 6. Continued upward movement of the quick-attach mechanism 36 and the push tube 24 causes the pin 106 to move, open or unlatch the latch 30, as indicated by the arrow in FIG. 6, so that the pin 106 is received within recess 68. As soon as the pin 106 clears the nose portion 88, the spring 74 automatically causes the nose portion 88 to move over the pin 106 thereby locking the quick-attach mechanism 36 onto the pin 106. The same procedure is then repeated with the quick-attach mechanism 36′. When installed, the quick-attach mechanisms pivotally connect the rearward end of the push tubes to the vehicle to enable the blade 22 to be vertically moved with respect to the vehicle. If a power lift apparatus is employed for raising and lowering the blade 22, that apparatus will then be connected.

When it is desired to remove the blade structure 20 from the vehicle, the latch 76 is unlatched by simply pressing downwardly on the protrusion 90 so that the latch 76 is moved to the broken line position illustrated in FIG. 7, thereby permitting the quick-attach mechanism 36 to be moved downwardly and released with respect to the pin 76. This procedure is then repeated with the quick-attach mechanism 36′.

The standard quick-attach mechanisms of FIGS. 8 and 9 function in the same manner as the retrofitted quick-attach mechanisms of FIGS. 2-7.

Although a blade structure is shown and described, the forward ends of the push tubes may possibly be secured to other structures such as materials handling devices as well as a mower deck or the like.

Thus it can be seen that the invention accomplishes at least all of its stated objectives.





 
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