Title:
VARIABLE WIDTH PICK-UP HEAD FOR A MOBILE SWEEPER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A variable width pick-up head for a mobile sweeper comprises a housing defining a substantially hollow interior and has a front, a back, a left end and a right end, a top and a bottom, and a suctioning bottom opening for suctioning dust and small debris into the substantially hollow interior of the housing. A dust and debris outlet in the housing permits dust and debris to be suctioned from the substantially hollow interior of the housing into a hopper. The housing has a central portion, and a first laterally extending portion operatively mounted in moveable relation on the central portion for movement between a wide configuration whereat the overall width of the housing is maximized and a narrow configuration whereat the overall width of the housing is narrower than in the wide configuration. A selectively operable hydraulic actuator is for moving the first laterally extending portion with respect to the central portion.



Inventors:
Vanderlinden, Roger P. (Burlington, CA)
Application Number:
12/238381
Publication Date:
04/02/2009
Filing Date:
09/25/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L9/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MULLER, BRYAN R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Roger P. Vanderlinden (Burlington, ON, CA)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A variable width pick-up head for a mobile sweeper, said variable width pick-head comprising: a housing defining a substantially hollow interior and having a front, a back, a left end and a right end, a top and a bottom, and a suctioning bottom opening for suctioning dust and small debris into said substantially hollow interior of said housing; a dust and debris outlet in said housing for permitting dust and debris to be suctioned from said substantially hollow interior of said housing into a hopper; wherein said housing has a central portion, and a first laterally extending portion operatively mounted in moveable relation on said central portion for movement between a wide configuration whereat the overall width of said housing is maximized and a narrow configuration whereat the overall width of said housing is narrower than in said wide configuration; and, selectively operable actuation means for moving said first laterally extending portion with respect to said central portion.

2. The variable width pick-up head of claim 1, further comprising a first flexible cover operatively interconnecting in substantially sealed relation said first laterally extending portion and said central portion, to thereby preclude the egress of dust, dirt and debris from said variable width pick-up head.

3. The variable width pick-up head of claim 1, wherein said first laterally extending portion is connected in pivoting relation to said central portion.

4. The variable width pick-up head of claim 1, wherein said selectively operable actuation means comprises a first hydraulic actuator.

5. The variable width pick-up head of claim 1, wherein said dust and debris outlet is disposed in the back of said housing.

6. The variable width pick-up head of claim 1, wherein said dust and debris outlet is generally centrally disposed in said back of said housing.

7. The variable width pick-up head of claim 1, further comprising a suctioning front opening disposed in the front of said housing for receiving debris into said substantially hollow interior of said housing, in debris receiving relation with respect to a surface being cleaned.

8. The variable width pick-up head of claim 7, wherein said suctioning front opening is disposed generally centrally in the front of said housing.

9. The variable width pick-up head of claim 1, further comprising a selectively openable and closable door means operatively mounted on said pick-up head for selectively opening and closing said suctioning front opening.

10. The variable width pick-up head of claim 9, wherein said openable and closeable door means comprises at least one door member mounted in hinged relation on said housing.

11. The variable width pick-up head of claim 10, wherein said at least one door member is mounted so as to open inwardly into the substantially hollow interior of said housing.

12. The variable width pick-up head of claim 1, further comprising a second laterally extending portion operatively mounted in moveable relation on said central portion for movement between said wide configuration and said narrow configuration.

13. The variable width pick-up head of claim 12, further comprising a second flexible cover operatively interconnecting in substantially sealed relation said second laterally extending portion and said central portion, to thereby preclude the egress of dust, dirt and debris from said variable width pick-up head.

14. The variable width pick-up head of claim 13, wherein said second laterally extending portion is connected in pivoting relation to said central portion.

15. The variable width pick-up head of claim 14, wherein said selectively operable actuation means further comprises a second hydraulic actuator.

16. The variable width pick-up head of claim 13, wherein said first and second laterally extending portions are substantially identical, but mirror images, one to the other.

Description:

This application is a non-provisional application claiming priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/975,068 filed on Sep. 25, 2007, which is herein incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to factory and sidewalk sweepers, and more particularly to pick-up heads for factory and sidewalk sweepers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Sidewalk sweepers and factory floor sweepers of various types are used to sweep debris in many different types of locations. Sidewalk sweepers are typically used to sweep sidewalks, parking lots, and so on. In use, they must sweep along curbs and the sides of buildings in order to sweep dust, dirt and debris that is adjacent to the curbs and buildings. Factory floor sweepers are typically used to sweep aisle ways in factories and warehouses, and the like.

In each case, it is preferable to sweep a path as wide as possible so that as much dust, dirt and debris is swept up in that one pass, for the sake of efficiency. Accordingly, sweeping up as much dust, dirt and debris as possible in one pass, would also allow an area to be cleaned in as little time as possible, which is highly desirable.

Sidewalk sweepers and factory floor sweepers typically have a pick-up head that is only about four feet wide, due to the generally narrow width of the areas that they are used to sweep. Often, especially with factory floor sweepers, it is necessary to sweep in narrow areas in aisles, and the like. If the pick-up head is too wide to fit into a narrow area, that narrow area cannot be swept, which is unacceptable. Accordingly, prior art pick-up heads on sidewalk sweepers and factory floor sweepers typically are narrower than the optimal full width for efficiently sweeping an area, so they are not precluded from sweeping in narrow areas, such as factory aisles.

Another consideration is that of obstacles in a sweeping path. Obstacles, such as light posts, garbage cans, benches, structural posts in factories, and the like, often cause the path that needs to be swept to be even more narrow. Such narrowing of a sweeping path can make it difficult for a sidewalk sweeper or factory floor sweeper to actually drive through the area. In some cases, it is not possible for sidewalk sweepers and factory floor sweepers to get by an obstacle, and they must find another route, which is highly undesirable.

It would be highly desirable to be able to have a wider pick-up head for continuous ongoing use, in order to maximize the amount of dust, dirt and debris that can be swept on each pass, and also able to navigate through narrow areas when necessary.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a variable width pick-up head for use with a sidewalk sweeper and a factory floor sweeper.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a variable width pick-up head for use with a sidewalk sweeper, and a factory floor sweeper, which pick-up head can be wider for continuous ongoing use, in order to maximize the amount of dust, dirt and debris that can be swept on each pass, and also narrower to be able to navigate through narrow areas when necessary.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention there is disclosed a novel debris-plowing pick-up head for a mobile sweeper. The pick-up head comprises a housing defining a substantially hollow interior and having a front, a back, a left end and a right end, a top and a bottom, and a suctioning bottom opening for suctioning dust and small debris into the substantially hollow interior of the housing. There is a dust and debris outlet in the housing for permitting dust and debris to be suctioned from the substantially hollow interior of the housing into a hopper. The housing has a central portion, and a first laterally extending portion operatively mounted in moveable relation on the central portion for movement between a wide configuration whereat the overall width of the housing is maximized and a narrow configuration whereat the overall width of the housing is narrower than in the wide configuration. There is also a selectively operable actuation means for moving the first laterally extending portion with respect to the central portion.

Other advantages, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as methods of operation and functions of the related elements of the structure, and the combination of parts and economies of manufacture, will become more apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description and the appended claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, the latter of which is briefly described herein below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the variable width pick-up head for a mobile sweeper according to the present invention, as to its structure, organization, use and method of operation, together with further objectives and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following drawings in which a presently preferred embodiment of the invention will now be illustrated by way of example. It is expressly understood, however, that the drawings are for the purpose of illustration and description only, and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention. In the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the variable width pick-up head according to the present invention, in use on a mobile sweeper vehicle;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the preferred embodiment variable width pick-up head of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of the preferred embodiment variable width pick-up head of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the preferred embodiment variable width pick-up head of FIG. 1, with the pick-up head in its wide configuration;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the preferred embodiment variable width pick-up head of FIG. 1, with the pick-up head in its narrow configuration;

FIG. 6 is a partially cut-away side elevational view of the second preferred embodiment variable width pick-up head according to the present invention, in use on a mobile sweeper vehicle; and,

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a portion of the second preferred embodiment variable width pick-up head of FIG. 6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1 through 7 of the drawings, it will be noted that FIGS. 1 through 5 illustrate a first preferred embodiment of the variable width pick-up head of the present invention, and FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate a second preferred embodiment of the variable width pick-up head of the present invention.

Reference will now be made to FIGS. 1 through 5, which show a preferred embodiment of the variable width pick-up head for a mobile sweeping vehicle 22 according to the present invention, as indicated by general reference numeral 20. The variable width pick-up head 20 for a mobile sweeping vehicle 22 comprises a housing 30 defining a substantially hollow interior 31 and having a front 32, a back 33, a left end 34 and a right end 35, a top 36 and a bottom 37. There is a suctioning bottom opening 38 for suctioning dust and small debris, such as dirt and small stones, and the like, into the substantially hollow interior 31 of the housing 30. There is a dust and debris outlet 39 in the housing 30 for permitting dust and debris to be suctioned from the substantially hollow interior 31 of the housing 30 into a hopper 23 that is mounted at the back of the mobile sweeping vehicle 22, via a duct 26. The dust and debris outlet 39 is preferably disposed in the back 33 of the housing 30, so as to take advantage of the relative travel of debris with respect to the pick-up head 20 as the mobile sweeping vehicle 22 travels forwardly.

As can be readily seen on the figures, the housing 30 has a central portion 80, and a first laterally extending portion 40 operatively mounted in moveable relation on the central portion 80, and in the preferred embodiment, as illustrated, the first laterally extending portion 40 is connected in pivoting relation to the central portion 80 by means of a sealed bearing 44 that is interconnected between the housing 30 and the first laterally extending portion 40. The first laterally extending portion 40 is thereby operatively mounted in moveable relation for movement between a wide configuration, as can be best seen in FIG. 4, and a narrow configuration, as can be best seen in FIG. 5, and through an intermediate configuration, as can be best seen in FIGS. 1 through 3.

There is a selectively operable actuation means for moving the first laterally extending portion 40 with respect to the central portion. In the preferred embodiment, as illustrated, the selectively operable actuation means comprises a first hydraulic actuator 42 mounted on top of the housing 30, for moving the first laterally extending portion 40 between its wide configuration and its narrow configuration. The operation of the first hydraulic actuator 42 is controlled by the operator of the mobile sweeping vehicle 22, via a suitable manually operable control. It should be noted that alternatively, the selectively operable actuation means could comprise an electric motor or a pneumatic actuator.

The variable width pick-up head 20 further comprises a first flexible cover 46 operatively interconnecting in substantially sealed relation the first laterally extending portion 40 and the central portion, to thereby preclude the egress of dust, dirt and debris from the variable width pick-up head 20. The first flexible cover 46 is made from a suitable synthetic rubber material or a suitable synthetic leather material, or the like, and is attached in substantially sealed relation to both the central portion 80 and the first laterally extending portion 40, to substantially preclude the suctioning of ambient air into the substantially hollow interior 31 of the housing 30, and to substantially preclude dust from escaping from the housing 30.

The variable width pick-up head 20 further comprises a second laterally extending portion 50 operatively mounted in moveable relation on the central portion 80, and in the preferred embodiment, as illustrated, the second laterally extending portion 50 is connected in pivoting relation to the central portion 80 by means of a sealed bearing 54 that is interconnected between the housing 30 and the second laterally extending portion 50. The second laterally extending portion 50 is thereby operatively mounted in moveable relation for movement between a wide configuration, as can be best seen in FIG. 4, and a narrow configuration, as can be best seen in FIG. 5, and through an intermediate configuration, as can be best seen in FIGS. 1 through 3.

There is a selectively operable actuation means for moving the second laterally extending portion 50 with respect to the central portion. In the preferred embodiment, as illustrated, the selectively operable actuation means comprises a second hydraulic actuator 52 mounted on top of the housing 30, for moving the second laterally extending portion 50 between its wide configuration and its narrow configuration. The operation of the second hydraulic actuator 52 is controlled by the operator of the mobile sweeping vehicle 22, via a suitable manually operable control.

The variable width pick-up head 20 further comprises a second flexible cover 56 operatively interconnecting in substantially sealed relation the second laterally extending portion 50 and the central portion, to thereby preclude the egress of dust, dirt and debris from the variable width pick-up head 20. The second flexible cover 56 is made from a suitable synthetic rubber material or a suitable synthetic leather material, or the like, and is attached in substantially sealed relation to both the central portion 80 and the second laterally extending portion 50, to substantially preclude the suctioning of ambient air into the substantially hollow interior 31 of the housing 30, and to substantially preclude dust from escaping from the housing 30. The second flexible cover 56 is shown partially cut-away for the sake of clarity.

As can be readily seen on the figures, in the preferred embodiment variable width pick-up head 20, the first and second laterally extending portions 40, 50 are substantially identical, but mirror images, one to the other.

In the wide configuration, the overall width of the housing is maximized, thus allowing the variable width pick-up head 20 to sweep as wide a path as possible, thus maximizing the area swept per unit time. In the narrow configuration, the overall width of the housing is narrower than in the wide configuration, thus allowing the variable width pick-up head 20 to fit into narrow areas, or more readily navigate around obstacles.

The pick-up head 20 further comprises a suctioning front opening 60 disposed in the front of the housing 30, specifically in the central portion 80, for receiving debris into the substantially hollow interior 31 of the housing 30, and in debris receiving relation with respect to a surface being cleaned. Preferably, the suctioning front opening 60 is disposed generally centrally in the front of the housing 30. It will also be noted that the dust and debris outlet 39 is generally centrally disposed in the back of the housing 30, so as to be generally laterally aligned with the suctioning front opening 60. The suctioning front opening 60 needs to be large enough to accept large debris, such as most sizes of cans and bottles therethrough.

A selectively openable and closable door means 70 is operatively mounted on the pick-up head 20, at the suctioning front opening 60, for selectively opening and closing the suctioning front opening 60. The openable and closeable door means 70 comprises at least one door member mounted in hinged relation on the housing 30. In the preferred embodiment, as illustrated, the openable and closeable door means 70 comprises a single door 70 mounted by means of a horizontally oriented top hinge 72. Preferably, the at least one door member 70 is mounted so as to open inwardly into the substantially hollow interior 31 of the housing 30. In this manner, the door member 70 opens in the same direction as the relative travel of debris with respect to the pick-up head 20 as the mobile sweeping vehicle 22 travels forwardly.

The pick-up head 20 further comprises means for urging large debris towards the suctioning front opening 60. In the preferred embodiment, as illustrated, the means for urging debris towards the suctioning front opening 60 comprises a “V”-shaped front wall portion 32w of the housing 30. The suctioning front opening 60 is disposed at the vertex of the “V”-shaped front wall portion 32w, so as to receive large debris that is pushed along the left and right front walls of the housing 30, as the mobile sweeping vehicle 22 travels forwardly.

In use, as the mobile sweeping vehicle 22 travels forwardly, dust and debris on the surface being cleaned are encountered by the pick-up head 20. As the mobile sweeping vehicle 22 moves forwardly, any debris that is encountered by the left and right front walls of housing 30 will be moved to the suctioning front opening 60, due to slope of the “V”-shaped front wall portion 32w of the housing 30. The debris will enter the substantially hollow interior 31 of the housing 30 through the suctioning front opening 60. Dust enters the substantially hollow interior 31 of the housing 30 via the suctioning bottom opening 38. Dust and debris that enter the substantially hollow interior 31 of the housing 30 are suctioned into the housing 30, and the suctioned out of the housing 30 through the duct 26, and into the hopper 23, by a source of suction, such as a fan 24.

As necessary, the operator of the mobile sweeping vehicle 22 operates the selectively operable actuation means, namely the first and second hydraulic actuators, to move both the first laterally extending portion and the second laterally extending portion between their respective wide configurations, as can best be seen in FIG. 4, and narrow configurations, as can best be seen in FIG. 5, and as described above.

It should be noted that, in use, the first laterally extending portion and the second first laterally extending portion can each be moved to their narrow configuration, either independently or together, to increase the severity of the slope of the “V”-shaped front wall portion 32w, in order to assist debris to move to the suctioning front opening 60.

It should also be noted that the pick-up head 20 for a mobile sweeping vehicle 22 according to the present invention can be used as part of a vacuum type system on a sidewalk sweeper or a factory floor sweeper, or as part of a re-circulating type system on a sidewalk sweeper or a factory floor sweeper, as will now be discussed.

Reference will now be made to FIGS. 6 and 7, which show a second preferred embodiment of the pick-up head according to the present invention, as indicated by reference numeral 220. The second preferred embodiment pick-up head 220 is similar to the first preferred embodiment pick-up head 20, except that it is used in a re-circulating type system on a sidewalk sweeper or a factory floor sweeper. As can be readily seen in FIGS. 6 and 7, the top covering 280 of the hopper 223 has a built in panel filter 282 at the back, and unfiltered direct opening 284 to the ambient surroundings adjacent the panel filter 282. A recirculating air hose 286 has its inlet 287 at the top covering 280 of the hopper 223 and its outlet 288 in the pickup head to form a “closed loop” system with the fan 224. The fan 224 blows unfiltered air into the inlet 287 of the recirculating air hose 286, as indicated by arrow “A”. This air is introduced into the pick-up head 220, as indicated by arrow “B”, in order to help capture dust and debris within the pick-up head 220. The recirculating air, including the dust and debris, circulate through the duct 226, as indicated by arrow “C”, and returned to the hopper 223, as indicated by arrow “D”, as drawn in by the fan 224.

A portion of the air from the fan 224 is bled off to the atmosphere, as controlled by flap valve 290, either through the panel filter 282, as is shown in FIG. 6, or through the direct opening 284, as is shown in FIG. 7. A large gate valve 292 is mounted in hinged relation at the junction between the panel filter 282 and a direct opening 284 for movement between a first position, as shown in FIG. 6, whereat all of the air flow that is bled off is directed through the panel filter 282. The large gate valve 292 seals against the slanted wall 294 in order to preclude air from escaping through the direct opening 284. This mode is used during dry sweeping in order to preclude dust from escaping to the atmosphere. There were circulation of a substantial portion of the airflow significantly reduces the volume of air that must be filtered per unit time, which is a significant problem with vacuum type sweepers.

In the event that sweeping must be performed in wet or damp conditions, there is no actual dust generated that needs to be controlled and captured; however, there is a wet airborne particulate that must be dealt with. It is well known that this wet airborne particulate can readily clog a panel filter 282. Accordingly, the large gate valve 292 can be moved to the position as shown in FIG. 7, whereat the panel filter 282 is covered, and there is a direct path for the flow of air that is bled off to the direct opening 284 to the ambient surroundings, thus precluding the panel filter 282 from becoming clogged.

In an alternative embodiment of the present invention, it is contemplated that the first laterally extending portion and the first laterally extending portion could be connected in sliding relation to the central portion, and move directly in and out.

As can be understood from the above description and from the accompanying drawings, the present invention provides a variable width pick-up head for use with a sidewalk sweeper, and a factory floor sweeper, which pick-up head can be wider for continuous ongoing use, in order to maximize the amount of dust, dirt and debris that can be swept on each pass, and also narrower to be able to navigate through narrow areas when necessary, all of which features are unknown in the prior art.

Other variations of the above principles will be apparent to those who are knowledgeable in the field of the invention, and such variations are considered to be within the scope of the present invention. Further, other modifications and alterations may be used in the design and manufacture of the pick-up head for a mobile sweeper of the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the accompanying claims.