Title:
CONVEYOR CHUTE AND METHOD OF PALLETIZING SAME FOR SHIPMENT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A conveyor chute for conveying objects by gravity from at least one higher floor to at least one lower floor of a building includes a plurality of discrete sections which are joinable to one another to form an elongated conduit having an internal bore. At least one of the sections is of internal dimensions sufficient to permit at least one other of the sections to fit substantially completely inside while other sections are shaped to stack nestably to provide greater packing density and thereby lower shipping costs.



Inventors:
George, Charlton L. (West Hartford, CT, US)
Application Number:
13/302013
Publication Date:
05/23/2013
Filing Date:
11/22/2011
Assignee:
GEORGE CHARLTON L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
193/2R, 414/802
International Classes:
B65G11/02; B65G11/18; B65G57/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RANDAZZO, THOMAS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GRAY ROBINSON, P.A. (FT. LAUDERDALE, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A conveyor chute for conveying objects by gravity from at least one higher floor to at least one lower floor of a building, said chute comprising: a plurality of discrete sections which are joinable to form an elongated hollow conduit having an open bore through which the objects may fall under gravity, at least one of said sections being capable of fitting substantially completely inside another one of said plurality of sections.

2. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of said plurality of discrete sections comprises a nestable section which can be stacked to form part of a nested stack.

3. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of said plurality of discrete sections comprises an intake section having an intake port which includes an opening for receiving objects to be conveyed, said opening being provided with a door.

4. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 3 wherein said intake section is mounted to a floor frame by way of at least two substantially stair step-shaped clips.

5. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 1 wherein said plurality of discrete sections includes at least (i) an intake section having an opening for receiving objects to be conveyed, and (ii) a section which is suspendable from a floor frame by way of at least two hangers, said intake section being mountable to said floor frame by way of at least two substantially stair step-shaped clips, each of said substantially stair step-shaped clips being mounted to at least partially overlap at least a respective one of said hangers.

6. A conveyor chute for conveying objects by gravity from at least one higher floor to at least one lower floor of a building, said chute comprising: a plurality of discrete sections which are joinable to one another to form an elongated hollow conduit having an open bore through which the objects may fall under gravity, said sections including: (a) at least one intake section having a substantially cylindrical body of a first inside diameter, said body of said intake section having an open top end, an open bottom end and, an intake port communicating with said bore for receiving objects to be conveyed through said bore, said intake port being located between said top end and said bottom end of said body of said intake section, said intake section terminating in a first male connector having a first reduced diameter portion; (b) at least one tapered section having an open top end of an inside diameter sufficient to receive said first reduced diameter portion of said first male connector of said intake section, said tapered section further having an open bottom end of a smaller inside diameter than said top end of said tapered section, said first reduced diameter portion of said first male connector of said intake section being receivable inside said top end of said tapered section to form a first liquid shedding lap joint; (c) at least one substantially cylindrical section having a substantially cylindrical body and a maximum outside diameter which is smaller than said first inside diameter of said body of said intake section, said body of said substantially cylindrical section having an open top end and an open bottom end, said substantially cylindrical section terminating in a second male connector having a second radial protrusion and a second reduced diameter portion, said bottom end of said tapered section being telescopingly receivable inside said top end of said cylindrical section to form a second interiorly liquid shedding lap joint; (d) at least one frustoconical section having an open top end of an inside diameter sufficient to receive said second reduced diameter portion of said second male connector to form a third interiorly liquid shedding lap joint, said frustoconical section having an open bottom end of an outside diameter which is larger than said inside diameter of said top end of said frustoconical section, said frustoconical section terminating in a third male connector having a third radial protrusion and a third reduced diameter portion, said third reduced diameter portion having an outside diameter smaller than said first inside diameter of said substantially cylindrical body of said intake section so that said third reduced diameter portion of said third male connector is receivable inside a said open top end of a said intake section to form a fourth interiorly liquid shedding joint.

7. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 6 wherein said substantially cylindrical section is of a maximum outside dimension sufficiently small to permit said substantially cylindrical section to be received at least partially inside said intake section to increase packing density for shipment.

8. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 7 wherein said substantially cylindrical section is of a maximum outside dimension sufficiently small to permit said substantially cylindrical section to be received substantially completely inside said intake section to increase packing density for shipment.

9. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 6 wherein said at least one tapered section comprises a plurality of said tapered sections which are nestable at least partially inside one another to form a nested stack to increase packing density for shipment.

10. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 6 wherein said at least one frustoconical section comprises a plurality of said frustoconical sections which are nestable at least partially inside one another to form a nested stack to increase packing density for shipment.

11. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 6 wherein at least one of said first radial protrusion, said second radial protrusion and said third radial protrusion comprises a circumferential bead.

12. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 6 wherein at least one of said first reduced diameter portion of said first male connector and said second reduced diameter portion of said second male connector and said third reduced diameter portion of said third male connector is corrugated.

13. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 6 wherein said intake port includes an opening for receiving objects to be conveyed, said opening being provided with a door.

14. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 6 wherein said intake section is supportably mounted to a floor frame by way of at least two substantially stair step-shaped clips which are secured to respective exterior portions of said body of said intake section.

15. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 6 wherein said tapered section is mounted suspended from a floor frame by way of at least two hangers.

16. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 10 wherein said hangers are substantially “J”-shaped.

17. A conveyor chute as claimed in claim 1 wherein said tapered section is suspended from a floor frame by way of at least two hangers and said intake section is supportably mounted to said floor frame by way of at least two substantially stair step-shaped clips, each of said substantially stair step-shaped clips being mounted to at least partially overlap at least a portion of a respective one of said hangers, each of said hangers engaging said floor frame.

18. A method of palletizing sections of a conveyor chute, said method comprising the steps of: (a) mounting on a first pallet a first layer of four intake sections and a second layer of four intake sections, said second layer being disposed above said first layer, each of said intake sections having a substantially cylindrical body of a first inside diameter, said body of said intake sections each having an open top end, an open bottom end, an open bore connecting said open top end and said open bottom end and an intake port communicating with said bore for receiving objects to be conveyed through said bore, said intake port being located between said open top end and said open bottom end of said body of said intake section; (b) mounting at least partially within said bore of each of at least one of said intake sections a hollow substantially cylindrical section having a maximum outside diameter which is smaller than said first inside diameter of said substantially cylindrical body of said intake section; (c) mounting on a second pallet (i) at least two stacks of tapered sections and (ii) at least one stack of frustoconical sections, each of said stacks of said tapered sections including a plurality of said tapered sections which are at least partially nested inside other ones of said tapered sections, each said stack of said frustoconical sections including a plurality of said frustoconical sections which are at least partially nested inside other ones of said frustoconical sections, each said tapered section being tubular and having an open top end and an open bottom end, said bottom end of each said tapered section having an inside diameter which is smaller than an outside diameter of said top end of said tapered section, each said frustoconical section having an open top end and an open bottom end, said bottom end having an inside diameter which is larger than an outside diameter of said top end of said frustoconical section.

19. A method as claimed in claim 12 wherein each said substantially cylindrical body of each respective said intake section has a central longitudinal axis which is oriented substantially perpendicular to a top surface of said first pallet.

20. A method as claimed in claim 13 wherein each said intake port of each respective said intake section faces outwardly of said first pallet.

21. A method as claimed in claim 12 further comprising the step of interposing a sheet of sheet material between said first layer of said intake sections and said second layer of said intake sections.

22. A method of palletizing sections of a conveyor chute, said method comprising the steps of: (a) mounting on a first pallet a first layer of four intake sections and a second layer of four intake sections, said second layer being disposed above said first layer, each of said intake sections having a substantially cylindrical body of a first inside diameter, said body of said intake sections each having an open top end, an open bottom end, an open bore connecting said open top end and said open bottom end and, an intake port communicating with said bore for receiving objects to be conveyed through said bore, said intake port being located between said open top end and said open bottom end of said body of said intake section, each said bore of at least one of said intake sections having disposed therein a hollow substantially cylindrical section having a maximum outside diameter which is smaller than said first inside diameter of said substantially cylindrical body of said intake section; (b) mounting on a second pallet (i) at least two stacks of tapered sections and (ii) at least one stack of frustoconical sections, each of said stacks of said tapered sections including a plurality of said tapered sections which are at least partially nested inside other ones of said tapered sections, each said stack of said frustoconical sections including a plurality of said frustoconical sections which are at least partially nested inside other ones of said frustoconical sections, each said tapered section having an open top end and an open bottom end, said bottom end of each said tapered section having an inside diameter which is smaller than an outside diameter of said top end of said tapered section, each said frustoconical section having an open top end and an open bottom end, said bottom end having an inside diameter which is larger than an outside diameter of said top end of said frustoconical section.

23. A method as claimed in claim 22 wherein each said bore of each of said intake sections has disposed therein a hollow substantially cylindrical section having a maximum outside diameter which is smaller than said first inside diameter of said substantially cylindrical body of said intake section.

24. A method of palletizing a conveyance chute of the type having a plurality of mutually adjoining tubular sections, said method comprising the steps of: (a) forming at least a first one of the sections to have an outside diameter at least a second one of the sections, and (b) placing on a pallet at least said first one of said sections and at least said second one of said sections such that said first one of said sections is disposed at least substantially entirely inside said second one of said sections.

25. A method as claimed in claim 24 wherein each of the tubular sections has a longitudinal axis which is oriented substantially perpendicular to a top surface of said pallet.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED-RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

Not Applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to the field of conveyor chutes of the type typically installed in multi-story buildings for conveying objects, such as trash, recyclables or laundry items, under gravity from higher floors to a lower floor of the building and to a method of palletizing such chutes for shipment.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conveyor chutes are typically installed in multi-story buildings such as hotels, hospitals, high-rise condominiums and the like for conveying trash, recyclables or linen items from one or more upper floors to a lower floor. The chutes are typically installed inside fire-rated shafts, often next to elevators, and provide a conduit having a vertically oriented central bore through which the objects may fall under gravity into a sorting device or a simple bin located beneath the chute. Access doors are typically provided on each upper floor to allow objects to be loaded into the chute for transport. In some cases, these access doors are associated with a control panel which enables users to enter the nature of the object being loaded so that it can be sorted appropriately by the sorting device. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,568,871 to Shantzis discloses a system in which a sorting device is disposed beneath a single chute. The sorting device has a turntable which carries a plurality of large receptacles, one for each category of waste, such as glass, aluminum, paper or garbage. A control on each floor enables a user to operate the turntable remotely to position the appropriate receptacle beneath the chute to receive a selected category of waste. The chute itself generally has a plurality of discrete sections which are joinable to one another to form the substantially continuous elongated bore through which the objects fall. As depicted in Shantzis '871, these sections are typically generally cylindrically-shaped with reduced diameter end portions which allow the lower end of one section to be inserted into the top end of an adjacent section to form overlapping joints which shed any liquid which flows downward along the inside wall of the bore from the inside of one section to the inside of the next without leaking to the exterior. The access door is generally connected to an intake section which has a generally cylindrical body from which a protuberance extends radially. The protuberance terminates in a portal which is ultimately fitted with a frame for the access door.

According to the prior art, each intake section is typically about six feet (6 ft.) in overall length and has a cylindrical body whose inside diameter is equal to the nominal inside diameter of the chute except for a relatively short portion at its bottom end which is slightly necked-down so as permit formation of a lap joint with the top end of the next-lower section. A lower portion of each intake section passes through a hole in the floor which is surrounded by an acoustically isolated floor frame which is bolted to the floor slab. A plurality of substantially Z-shaped clips, which are welded to the intake section about one-third of its total length up from its open bottom end engage the floor frame to support each intake section such that approximately four feet of the intake section projects above floor level while approximately two feet of the intake section is suspended below floor level. An approximately four foot long tube of the same nominal inside diameter as the intake section has a lower end which is provided with a male connector in the form of a circumferential bead below which is a reduced diameter portion which has been crimped to form corrugations. This reduced diameter portion is of a sufficiently small outside diameter to fit inside the top end of an adjoining section. The approximately four foot long tube is joined to a shorter tube of same nominal inside diameter as the intake section and the approximately four foot long tube itself. This joint is facilitated by another male connector, of the same construction as just described, which is provided on the lower end of the shorter tube, permitting the lower end of the shorter tube to fit inside the top end of the approximately four foot long tube and form a lap joint therewith. The shorter tube is of a length which depends on the distance between adjacent floor slabs in a particular building. This length is selected such that the necked-down portion of the intake section mounted in the floor above fits inside, and forms a lap joint with, the top portion of the shorter tube.

Despite their segmental construction, one of the major shortcomings of prior art conveyor chutes has been that they make very inefficient use of shipping resources even when shipped disassembled as they are when shipped from a manufacturer to a distributor or from a distributor to a job site. Because the chute sections are hollow and are dimensioned to form an open bore which has substantially constant diameter throughout the entire length of the chute, they tend to occupy excessive volume per unit weight when packed for shipping. As a consequence, shipping costs tend to be high because the usable volume of a truck or shipping container is substantially fully occupied well before applicable weight limits are approached.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, it is an object of the invention to provide a conveyor chute whose packing density for shipment is significantly improved over the prior art.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a method for efficiently palletizing a conveyor chute of the improved design.

According to one aspect of the present invention, a conveyor chute for conveying objects by gravity from at least one higher floor to at least one lower floor of a building includes a plurality of discrete sections which are joinable to one another to form an elongated hollow conduit having an open bore through which the objects may fall under gravity. Those sections include: at least one intake section of enlarged inside diameter, at least one tapered section, at least one substantially cylindrical section and at least one generally frustoconical section. The generally frustoconical section serves as a transition member which adapts the diameter of the substantially cylindrical section to the larger diameter of the intake section.

Each intake section has a substantially cylindrical body which has an open top end, an open bottom end and is of a first inside diameter. An intake port is located between the top end and bottom end. The intake port protrudes radially from the body and communicates with the bore to serve as a portal for receiving trash, laundry or other objects to be conveyed through the bore. The intake section terminates in a reduced diameter portion.

Each tapered section has an open top end of an inside diameter sufficient to receive the reduced diameter portion of said first male connector of the intake section and has an open bottom end of a smaller inside diameter than the top end of said tapered section. When the conveyor chute is assembled, the reduced diameter portion of the first male connector of the intake section is receivable inside the top end of the tapered section to form a first interiorly liquid shedding lap joint between each intake section and each adjacent tapered section. The difference in diameter between its open top end and its open bottom end gives each tapered section a tapered shape which permits multiple tapered sections to at least partially nest inside one another to form a nestable stack for more efficient use of shipping space.

Each substantially cylindrical section has a substantially cylindrical body whose a maximum outside diameter is smaller than the first inside diameter of the body of the intake section. This enables at least one cylindrical section to fit substantially completely inside the body of the intake section thereby providing for increased packing density for shipping and thus, lowering shipping costs. The body of each substantially cylindrical section has an open top end and an open bottom end and terminates in a second male connector having a radial protrusion and a reduced diameter portion. Upon assembly of the conveyor chute, the bottom end of each tapered section is telescopingly receivable inside the top end of a cylindrical section to form a second interiorly liquid shedding lap joint. The distance by which the top end of a cylindrical section overlaps the bottom end of a tapered section is preferably at least about three inches (3 in.) but may be a greater distance as may be needed to account for the vertical slab-to-slab spacing of the floors in a particular building and/or normal manufacturing variations in the lengths of the various sections of the chute.

Each frustoconical section has an open top end of an inside diameter sufficient to receive the second reduced diameter portion of said second male connector to form a third interiorly liquid shedding lap joint between each tapered section and each frustoconical section when the conveyor chute is assembled. Each frustoconical section also has an open bottom end whose outside diameter and inside diameter are both larger than the inside diameter of the top end of the frustoconical section. This permits a plurality of frustoconical sections to be stacked for shipping such that the frustoconical sections nest at least partially inside one another. Each frustoconical section terminates in a third male connector having a radial protrusion and a reduced diameter portion. The reduced diameter portion has an outside diameter smaller than the first inside diameter of the substantially cylindrical body of said intake section so that upon assembly of the conveyor the reduced diameter portion of the third male connector is receivable inside the open top end of an intake section to form a fourth interiorly liquid shedding joint.

A further aspect of the present invention relates to a method of palletizing sections of a conveyor chute. Upon a first pallet are mounted a first layer of intake sections and a second layer of intake sections, the second layer being disposed above the first layer. Mounted at least partially within the open bore of at least one, and preferably each, of the intake sections is a hollow substantially cylindrical section whose maximum outside diameter is smaller than the inside diameter of the body of the intake section. Upon a second pallet are mounted at least two stacks of tapered sections, and at least one stack of frustoconical sections. A plurality of tapered sections are at least partially nested inside other ones of the tapered sections and a plurality of the frustoconical sections are nested inside other ones of the frustoconical sections. The mounting of the substantially cylindrical sections inside the intake sections and the nesting of the tapered sections and the frustoconical sections, respectively, significantly increases packing density thereby significantly reducing shipping costs.

The foregoing and other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent in view of the following detailed description and the appended drawings in which like reference numerals are used to designate like items.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view showing a typical length of a chute as installed between two floors of a building;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of a typical length of a conveyor chute showing the various sections thereof;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of a floor frame used for mounting a conveyor chute;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of a hanger clip;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view illustrating the mounting of an intake section and a tapered section to a floor frame;

FIG. 6 is an enlargement of the area “A” of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating the mounting of an intake section and a tapered section to a floor frame;

FIG. 8 is a side elevational view of a first palletized load of conveyor chute sections, namely, a plurality of intake sections and substantially cylindrical sections shown mounted on a first pallet;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the palletized load of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of a second palletized load of conveyor chute sections, namely, a plurality of tapered sections and a plurality of frustoconical sections shown mounted on a second pallet; and

FIG. 11 is a top plan view of the palletized load of FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring initially to FIG. 1, a preferred embodiment of a conveyor chute 10 according to the present invention consists of a plurality of discrete sections 12, 14, 16 and 18 which are typically formed of sheet metal and are joinable to one another to form an elongated hollow tubular conduit 22 having a central bore 24. Conduit 22 has a central longitudinal axis 25 which, upon installation of chute 10, is oriented substantially vertically so that objects, such as trash, recyclables or laundry items, may fall under gravity from at least one higher floor 27 of a building to at least one lower floor 29 of the building. Those sections include at least one intake section 12, at least one tapered section 14, at least one substantially cylindrical section 16 and at least one generally frustoconical section 18.

As shown in FIG. 2, each intake section 12 has a substantially cylindrical body 30 of substantially circular cross section, an open top end 34 and an open bottom end 36. An intake port 38, which is located between the top end 34 and the bottom end 36, protrudes in a radial direction from the cylindrical body 30 and communicates with bore 24 for receiving objects deposited therein by users to be conveyed through bore 24. The body 30 of each intake section 12 terminates in a first male connector 42 having a reduced diameter portion 48, which is optionally but preferably corrugated. The substantially cylindrical body 30 has an inside diameter 32 which is larger than the nominal inside diameter of the chute 10. By way of non-limiting example, a nominal twenty four inch (24 inch) inside diameter chute 10 may have an intake section 12 whose substantially cylindrical body 30 has an inside diameter 32 of about twenty six inches (26 in.). Intake section 12 is of an overall length 50 which is preferably greater than, or substantially equal to, the overall length of substantially cylindrical section 16. However, in some embodiments, intake section 12 may be somewhat shorter in overall length than substantially cylindrical section 16. In one exemplary preferred embodiment, intake section 12 has an overall length of about forty-eight inches (48 in.)

Each tapered section 14 is also of substantially circular transverse cross section and has an open top end 54 of an inside diameter 56 of a size sufficient to receive the reduced diameter portion 48 of the first male connector 42. As a non-limiting example, open top end 54 may suitably have an inside diameter 56 of about twenty five inches (25 in.). Each tapered section 14 also includes an open bottom end 58 of an outside diameter 60 that is smaller than the inside diameter 56 of its top end 54 so as to provide tapered section 14 with its tapered shape which, as will be discussed in further detail below, permits tapered sections 14 to be stacked in a nested manner for more efficient and cost effective shipping. Again by way of non-limiting example, the open bottom end of a tapered section 14 having an overall length 61 of about twenty four inches (24 in.) and an open top end 54 having an inside diameter 56 of about twenty five inches (25 in.), may be about twenty four inches (24 in.) in outside diameter 60. Because of their tapered shape and the fact that the open bottom end 58 of each tapered section 14 is of a smaller outside diameter 60 than the inside diameter 56 of its open top end 54, a plurality of tapered sections 14 can be stacked with one nesting at least partially inside another to form a nested stack. This increases packing density for shipment and thereby lowers shipping costs.

Each substantially cylindrical section 16 has a substantially cylindrical body 62 having an open top end 64 and an open bottom end 66 each of which, by way of non-limiting example, may have an inside diameter of about twenty five inches (25 in.). Bottom end 66 terminates in a second male connector 67 having a second radial protrusion 68, which preferably takes the form of a circumferential bead 70, and a second reduced diameter portion 74, which is preferably corrugated. The maximum outside diameter 76 of substantially cylindrical section 16, inclusive of second radial protrusion 68, is smaller than the first inside diameter 32 of the body 30 of the intake section 12. In one preferred embodiment, substantially cylindrical section 16 has an overall length 77 of about forty-eight inches (48 in.), but overall length 77 may be longer or shorter as desired to meet the needs of a particular application.

Each frustoconical section 18 has an open top end 80 and an open bottom end 81. The open top end 80 is of an inside diameter 82 sufficient to receive the second reduced diameter portion 74 of the second male connector 67 while the open bottom end 81 is of an inside diameter 84 which is both larger than the inside diameter 82 of the open top end 80. Each frustoconical section 18 terminates in a third male connector 85 having a radial protrusion 86, which preferably takes the form of a circumferential bead 88, and a reduced diameter portion 90 which is preferably corrugated and has an outside diameter 92 which is slightly smaller than the first inside diameter 32 of the intake section 12. Due to their tapered shape and the open top end 80 being of a smaller outside diameter 83 than the inside diameter 84 of the open bottom end 81, a plurality of frustoconical sections 18 can be stacked with one nesting at least partially inside one another to form a nested stack to increase packing density and thereby lower shipping costs.

As shown in FIG. 1, during a so-called “rough-in” phase of installation of chute 10, a suitably sized rough opening 95 in each floor 27, 29 is fitted with a respective floor frame 97. By way of non-limiting example, floor frame 97 may suitably be formed of four pieces of 1½″×1½″× 3/16″ thick steel right angle stock welded together to form an open square as illustrated in FIG. 3. Each floor frame 97 has horizontal edges 99 which are bolted to each respective floor 27, 29 by way of acoustic isolation pads 98 and has vertical edges 100 which form its inside periphery.

Once each floor frame 97 is in place suitably centered with respect to the desired longitudinal axis 25 of chute 10, a tapered section 14 is suspended from the floor frame 97. This may be achieved by way of four hanger clips 102 which may suitably take the form of substantially letter “J”-shaped steel straps. Four (4 ea.) hanger clips 102 are welded adjacent the open top end 54 of each tapered section 14 at four (4 ea.) equally angularly spaced locations. A cross sectional view of a typical hanger clip 102 is shown in FIG. 4. The tapered section 14 passes, bottom end 58 first, through the floor frame 97 and rough opening 95 until the hanger clips 102 engage the vertical edges 100 of the floor frame 97 as shown in FIG. 5 so that the tapered section 14 is suspended from the floor frame 97 such that most of the length of the tapered section 14 extends down through the floor and projects into the story below as illustrated in FIG. 1.

As FIG. 5 shows, the exterior of the lower end of each intake section 14 has four substantially stair step-shaped clips 104 welded thereto at equally angularly spaced intervals at positions corresponding to those of hanger clips 102. When intake section 12 is placed onto floor frame 97 as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, each substantially stair step-shaped clip 104 at least partially overlaps, and bears downwardly on, a corresponding one of the hanger clips 102 by which the tapered section 14 is suspended. This creates a secure mechanical connection among intake section 12, tapered section 14 and floor frame 97.

As noted above, each intake section 12 terminates in a first male connector 42 having a reduced diameter portion 48, which is optionally but preferably corrugated, and is received inside the open top end 54 of tapered section 14 to form a first internally liquid shedding lap joint 109 with tapered section 14. As used herein and in the claims, the term internally liquid shedding lap joint refers to an at least partially overlapping joint which, though not necessarily liquid tight under liquid pressure, is operable to shed or let pass any liquid which may flow vertically downward along the interior wall 106 of chute 10 without allowing such liquid to leak through the joint to the exterior wall 107 of chute 10 when the longitudinal axis 25 of the chute 10 is substantially vertically oriented. Preferably, the first reduced diameter portion 48 of the first male connector 42 penetrates and overlaps the open top end 54 of tapered section 14 by a distance of at least about two inches (2 in.) with further penetration being prevented by clips 104. The structure of the first internally liquid shedding lap joint 109 is also illustrated in FIG. 6.

The open bottom end 58 of tapered section 14 is telescopingly received inside the open top end 64 of a substantially cylindrical section 16 by a distance which is at least sufficient to form a second internally liquid shedding joint 111, the structure of which is illustrated in FIG. 1. The overlap distance between the tapered section 14 and the substantially cylindrical section 16 may vary to account for differences in the vertical slab-to-slab spacing between adjacent floors 27, 29 but is preferably no less than about three inches (3 in.).

The open bottom end 66 of the substantially cylindrical section 16 terminates in a second male connector 67 which has a radial protrusion 68 which optionally but preferably takes the form of a circumferential bead 70. Second male connector 67 also has a reduced diameter portion 74 that is optionally but preferably corrugated. Reduced diameter portion 74 is received inside the open top end 80 of frustoconical section 18 to form a third internally liquid shedding lap joint 113. Preferably, the reduced diameter portion 74 of the male connector 67 penetrates and internally overlaps the open top end 80 of frustoconical section 18 by a distance of about two inches (2 in.). Further penetration is prevented by interference of radial protrusion 68/circumferential bead 70 with the top end 80 of frustoconical section 18 as illustrated in FIG. 1. To increase overall packing density for less costly shipping, each substantially cylindrical section 16 is preferably dimensioned such that it can be placed at least partially inside, and preferably substantially completely inside, one of the intake sections 12. The diametrical difference between substantially cylindrical section 16 and intake section 12 which is needed to make this possible is accounted for during installation of chute 10 by frustoconical section 18.

The open bottom end 81 of frustoconical section 18 terminates in a third male connector 85 which forms a fourth internally liquid shedding lap joint 115 with the open top end 34 of a second intake section 12. Third male connector 85 has a radial protrusion 86 which optionally but preferably takes the form of a circumferential bead 88 and also has a reduced diameter portion 90 which penetrates and overlaps the open top end 34 of intake section 12 by a distance of about two inches (2 in.). Further penetration is prevented by interference between top end 34 and the radial protrusion 86/circumferential bead 88.

A further aspect of the invention relates to a method of palletizing sections of a conveyor chute. In a first step 117 as illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9, a first layer 121 of four (4 ea.) intake sections 12 and a second layer 122 of four (4 ea.) intake sections 12 are mounted on a first pallet 123. The first layer 121 is mounted on the top surface 124 of the first pallet 123 while the second layer intake sections 12 is disposed above the first layer 121.

Preferably, a layer of sheet material 126, such as a sheet of plywood, is disposed between the first layer 121 and the second layer 122 in order to provide a uniform and stable mounting surface for the second layer 122 of intake sections 12. Each of the intake sections 12 has a substantially cylindrical body 30 having an open top end 34, and an open bottom end 36 which are connected by way of an open bore 24. The bore 24 is centered on a longitudinal axis 25, which is preferably oriented perpendicular to the top surface 124 of the first pallet 123. An intake port 38 which is located between the top end 34 and bottom end 36 protrudes radially from the cylindrical body 30. To maximize packing density, the intake ports 38 of each of the intake sections 12 are preferably oriented outwardly of the first pallet 123 as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9.

According to the invention, mounted within the open bore 24 of at least one of, and preferably all of, the intake sections 12 on the first pallet 123 is a hollow, substantially cylindrical section 16 having a maximum outside diameter 127 which is smaller than the inside diameter 32 of the intake section 12. Each substantially cylindrical section 16 may be mounted inside its respective intake section 12, either before or after that intake section 12 is mounted on first pallet 123. As indicated in FIG. 8, to facilitate shipment by truck and/or cargo container, the maximum height of first pallet 123 itself should preferably not exceed about one hundred and one inches (101 in.) or whatever other maximum height load a particular mode of transportation might be able to accommodate.

Further according to the method of the invention, as illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11 on a second pallet 128 are mounted at least two stacks 129 of tapered sections 14 and at least one stack 130 of frustoconical sections 18. Each of the stacks 129 of tapered sections 14 includes a plurality of tapered sections 14 which are at least partially nested inside one another thereby increasing packing density by forming a nested stack. Likewise, each stack 130 of frustoconical sections 18 includes a plurality of sections 18 which are at least partially nested inside one another, thereby further increasing packing density by forming a nested stack and as a result, reducing shipping costs.

While the invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiments described above, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims, either literally or under the Doctrine of Equivalents.