Title:
Ground Conditioner
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A conditioner is configured to couple to a support member of a construction vehicle and condition the ground while the vehicle remains stationary. A conditioner can include a mounting assembly for releasably coupling to the vehicle and rotatably supporting a roller configured to provide a plurality of seed beds. A cylindrically shaped roller can have a plurality of cleats disposed along a circumferential surface. The cleats may be arranged to provide a spaced-apart staggered pattern of seed beds. Through operation of the vehicle's support member and hydraulic system, the roller can be manipulated to move along steep slopes within confined areas while the construction vehicle remains stationary at a stable location. The roller can be configured for adjustable ground compaction through addition and/or withdrawal of fluids through a port.



Inventors:
Wood Sr., Anthony L. (Sugar Hill, GA, US)
Application Number:
13/892736
Publication Date:
11/21/2013
Filing Date:
05/13/2013
Assignee:
WOOD, SR. ANTHONY L.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01C19/26
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HARTMANN, GARY S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEWINSKI LAW GROUP LLC (MARIETTA, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. An apparatus for conditioning terrain, comprising: a cylindrically-shaped roller having a plurality of elongated cleats provided along a circumferential surface parallel to a cylindrical axis of the roller, wherein the cleats configured to engage the ground to provide a plurality of spaced-apart seed beds; and a mounting assembly configured to rotatably support the roller and releasably couple with a support member of a construction vehicle.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein a port is provided to the roller to allow fluid to be added to the interior of the roller.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the bracket assembly is configured to releasably couple with a dipper arm of a construction vehicle.

4. An apparatus for releasably coupling a ground-engaging roller to a support member of a construction vehicle, comprising: a frame configured to rotatably support a ground-engaging roller; and a bracket coupled to the frame, the bracket configured to releasably couple with a support arm of a construction vehicle.

5. A conditioning roller, comprising: a cylindrically-shaped body having an outer surface for compacting the ground and a plurality of spaced-apart cleats extending from a circumferential surface of the cylindrical body, the cleats extending parallel to the cylindrical axis of the cylinder and configured to engage a surface to create a seed bed in the ground.

6. The conditioning roller of claim 3, wherein the cleats are arranged in a plurality of cleat columns in a spaced apart arrangement.

7. The conditioning roller of claim 5, wherein the cleats are misaligned.

8. The conditioning roller of claim 5, further comprising a port for adding fluid to an interior of the cylindrical body.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This Application claims priority from U.S. Application No. 61/646,982 filed on May 15, 2012, by Anthony L. Wood, Sr., which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to construction equipment and, more particularly, to equipment for terrain conditioning for seeding to mitigate erosion.

BACKGROUND

It is often desirable to track slopes with a bulldozer to prepare terrain for grass seeding. For example, sloped terrain at a construction site may be conditioned for grass seeding in accordance with various design requirements, construction codes, or erosion prevention plans. The conditioning process typically includes tracking the soil and creating a plurality drainage trenches perpendicular to the direction of slope to prevent seed runoff. A prior art method of conditioning soil required traversing the terrain with a tracked bulldozer so that its raised treads make depressions in the ground to form seed bed trenches.

While this prior art method is acceptable for its intended purpose on generally flat terrain, it has several drawbacks, particularly when used in sloped environments. First, it requires bulldozer movement over the terrain, leading to high fuel usage, wear and tear on the undercarriage, and additional operator labor. Because the prior art method requires placement of the bulldozer tracks (and therefore placement of the bulldozer) at the area to be conditioned, it raises safety concerns, particularly when the terrain is steep, unstable, uneven, or near drop offs. Furthermore, the spaced-apart bulldozer tracks of the bulldozer form spaced-apart conditioned areas. Consequently, it can be difficult to provide a particular arrangement of drainage trenches, or to condition small or confined areas, such as those at a corner between two meeting slopes where bulldozer maneuverability can be challenging. In addition, the use of skid steering can disturb previously conditioned areas. Finally, it is difficult to adjust the degree of compaction provided by the bulldozer tracks.

OVERVIEW

In an example embodiment, a conditioner is configured to condition the ground for seeding, such as grass seeding. In one example embodiment, the conditioner includes a roller, and a mounting assembly to rotatably support the roller and releasably couple the roller to a support member of a construction vehicle. In an example embodiment, the roller may be cylindrically-shaped with a plurality of spaced-apart elongated cleats along its circumferential surface to engage and compact the ground and provide a plurality of drainage trenches therein. The cleats may be arranged in a series of overlapping offset columns to provide a spaced-apart staggered drainage trench pattern. In one example embodiment, the cleats are arranged with a center column of cleats offset vertically from two outer aligned columns of cleats. The center cleats may overlap the offset outer cleats. For example, the outer portions of the center cleats may overlap the inner portions of the outer cleats. This arrangement provides a misaligned pattern of drainage trenches in the ground. The roller may also include one or more ports for the addition or removal of fluid to alter the weight of the roller and the degree of compaction it provides. This feature allows the roller to be easily adapted for different soil conditions.

The mounting assembly may include a frame to rotatably support the roller, and a bracket assembly for coupling the frame to a support member of a construction vehicle. The frame may include a cross support member arranged to extend above and along the axis of the roller, and can include downwardly extending support arms at each end. The support arms may include bearing assemblies for rotatably supporting opposing ends of a shaft extending through the roller so that the roller is rotatably supported by the frame.

The bracket assembly may be attached to the frame and configured to removably couple the frame (and the roller supported by the frame) to a support member of a construction vehicle. For example, the bracket assembly may include a bracket having receiving holes and bosses arranged to releasably couple the bracket to a dipper arm of an excavator. In an example embodiment, the bracket assembly includes a first bracket having bosses arranged to receive a pin of an excavator pin coupler, and a second bracket having bosses for receiving a pin associated with an excavator dipper arm. In another example embodiment only a single bracket is provided.

With the roller rotatably supported by the frame, and the bracket coupled to the dipper arm of the construction vehicle, the roller may be moved by the dipper arm to contact and roll across a sloped surface. The outer surface of the roller compacts the soil, and the cleats of the roller engage the ground to provide a plurality of spaced apart drainage trenches. This arrangement, in which the movement of the roller is controlled by the articulating movement of the dipper arm, allows the construction vehicle to be located apart from the area being conditioned. Thus, rather than moving the entire machine over a sloped area, a roller can be moved by a construction vehicle's support arm and hydraulics system. The construction vehicle cab can remain stationary at a remote location, conserving fuel as well as reducing wear and tear on the vehicle.

The safety of both operator and vehicle during conditioning operations is improved since the construction vehicle can be positioned at a stable location away from drop-offs. The roller can be used in tight, unstable, and steep areas where it may be dangerous and/or difficult to move the vehicle's base. By coupling the conditioner to a dipper arm of an excavator, the hydraulic cylinder piston of the excavator or “bucket cylinder” can be used to manipulate the angle of the frame relative to the arm to allow for added maneuverability, similar to the movement of a bucket.

In addition, compaction provided by the conditioner can be easily changed. For example, the downward force of the roller can be changed by controlled management of the boom hydraulics and dipper stick. In addition, fluid can be added or removed from the interior of the roller through the roller's port.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a prior art method of conditioning a sloped surface for seeding using the tracks of a bulldozer.

FIG. 2 shows an excavator having a conditioner for preparing a surface for seeding in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 shows an example embodiment of a conditioner in which a bucket cylinder of the excavator dipper arm is extended.

FIG. 4 shows an example embodiment of the conditioner of FIG. 3 in which a bucket cylinder of a dipper arm of the excavator is retracted.

FIG. 5 shows an example embodiment of the conditioner of FIG. 3 in which the dipper arm is further extended.

FIG. 6 shows an example embodiment of the conditioner.

FIG. 7 shows a front view of an example embodiment the roller.

FIG. 8 shows a boss for supporting a shaft extending through the roller.

FIG. 9 shows sidewall of the roller.

FIG. 10 shows a front view of an example support assembly.

FIG. 11 shows a side view of an example embodiment the conditioner showing a port for adding or removing fluid.

FIG. 12 shows a side view of the support assembly.

FIG. 13A shows a boss of a support bracket for receiving a coupler pin.

FIG. 13B shows a boss of a support bracket for receiving a coupler pin.

FIG. 14 shows an example embodiment of a support member of a support bracket for coupling a frame of the conditioner to a coupler of a construction vehicle.

FIG. 15A shows a support arm having a bore for flange bearings.

FIG. 15B shows a side view of the support arm of FIG. 15A.

FIG. 16 shows an example embodiment of a cover plate for use with the support arms of the frame.

FIG. 17 shows an alternative embodiment of a conditioner in which a single bracket is provided.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As required, example embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein. These embodiments are meant to be examples of various ways of implementing the invention, and it will be understood that the invention may be embodied in alternative forms. The figures are not necessarily to scale and some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular elements, while related elements may have been eliminated to prevent obscuring novel aspects. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention. In addition, it should be understood that any directional terms, such as “left”, “right”, “upward”, “downward”, etc. are for use in describing in reference to the particular arrangements shown in the example embodiments of the particular drawings and are not intended to be limiting in terms of subject matter. In addition, while in the exemplary embodiments the apparatus is discussed in conjunction with the use of an excavator, the apparatus could be used in conjunction with other type construction equipment such as a backhoe or the like.

Turning to the figures, wherein like characters represent like items throughout the several views, FIG. 1 shows an example embodiment of a prior art method of conditioning soil in which a bulldozer 2 is moved over a sloped terrain 4 so that its tracks 6 compact the soil and the tracks' treads 10 engage the terrain 4 to produce a plurality of drainage trenches 12.

FIGS. 2-5 show an example embodiment of the invention in which a conditioner 20 is coupled to an excavator 22. The conditioner 20 includes a roller 24 and a mounting assembly 25 that rotatably supports the roller and releasably couples the roller to the excavator 22. The roller 24 may have a plurality of cleats 26 that extend parallel to the cylindrical axis of the roller 24 to engage and roll along the ground to provide a plurality of drainage trenches. As shown in FIGS. 3-5 the roller 24 can be positioned to contact and roll along the ground 32. For example, the roller 24 may be moved along the terrain by movement of the dipper arm 34 and boom 36 of an excavator 22 or other equipment. This allows movement of the roller 24 through the use of the hydraulics of the excavator arm 34. This allows the terrain to be conditioned while the cab 40 of the construction vehicle remains at a remote location. Terrain conditioning through controlled manipulation of the roller 24 while the excavator 22 remains stationary avoids the safety issues, fuel consumption, and wear and tear associated with prior art bulldozer methods that required movement of the entire vehicle. The bucket cylinder piston 42 can be used to position the roller 24 relative to the dipper arm to assist movement of the roller 24 on the slope. For example, FIG. 3 shows the piston 42 in an extended condition, and FIG. 4 shows the piston 42 in a more retracted position.

FIG. 6 shows the conditioner 20 having the roller 24 rotatably coupled to the mounting assembly 25. The mounting assembly 25 includes a frame 80 for rotatably supporting the roller 24, and a bracket assembly 28 for releasably coupling the frame 80 to a support member of a construction vehicle. This allows the roller 24 to condition terrain as it is moved by a support member 34 of a construction vehicle

FIGS. 7-9 show an example embodiment of the roller 24 and its various components. Referring to FIGS. 6-9, the roller 24 may be generally cylindrical in shape and include a cylinder 48 with an outer cylindrical surface 50 and sidewalls 52. In an example embodiment, the roller 24 (cylinder) may have a width w of about 6 feet, a circumference of about 117 1/32″, and an inner radius of about 18⅜″. The cylindrical surface 50 may extend beyond the sidewalls 52.

A plurality of cleats 26 may be arranged about the circumferential surface 50 of the cylinder 48 and arranged extending parallel to the axis of the roller 24. This allows the cleats 26 to make drainage trenches perpendicular to the direction that the roller 24 is rolled. In the example embodiment, the cleats 26 have a length of about 26 inches and a height of 2 inches and a thickness of ½″ so as to make an elongated drainage trench in the ground. The cleats 26 may be arranged about the surface 50 of the roller 24 in a spaced apart arrangement to provide a pattern of misaligned adjacent drainage trenches. In this example embodiment, two outer sets or columns 54 of cleats have aligned cleats, and a center set or column 56 of cleats 26 are misaligned with the outer cleats 26. For example, the center cleats 26 can be arranged around a center portion of the roller 24 so that each cleat 26 is positioned between the cleats 26 on the outer portions of the roller 24. In an example embodiment, the cleats 26 in each grouping may be spaced about 8 5/32″ apart. One or more ports 38 may be provided in the sidewall 52 to allow for the additional or removal of fluid from the interior of the cylinder 48. An operator can increase or decrease the weight of the roller 24 by adding or removing fluid via the ports 38. This allows the roller to be readily adapted for different terrains on site, and also allows for the weight of the roller to be lightened during transport to and from the work site.

The outer cleats 26 may be positioned to overlap the cleats 26 of the center column 56. In the example embodiment, the overlap is about 3 inches. The cleats 26 may be positioned around the circumferential surface 50 of the roller so that the spaces between the cleats 26 serve as compaction surfaces 50 for compacting the ground they contact. The sidewalls 52 define the sides of the cylinder 48 and include an aperture 53 for a shaft and an aperture 55 for a port 38. A boss 60 may be provided at the sidewalls 52 with an aperture 62 of similar size of the aperture 53 of the sidewall 52 to receive the shaft 64 therethrough. The shaft 64 may have a diameter of 3 15/16″ to fit through 4″ apertures 53, 62 and a length sufficient to extend through the cylinder 48 and extend from the sidewalls 52. In the example embodiment, the shaft 64 may have a length of 81″.

FIGS. 6 and 10-16 show various components of the mounting assembly 25 that includes the bracket assembly 28 and the frame 80. As perhaps best shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, the bracket assembly 28 can include a dipper arm bracket 66 for connecting to a dipper arm 34 of an excavator or similar equipment. It can also include a coupler bracket 70 configured to releasably couple with a standard pinhole coupler commonly used in conjunction with construction equipment. The brackets 66, 70 may include support members 71 and 104 with apertures 106 (FIGS. 13-14) for receiving bosses 68 and coupled to triangular gusset plates 73 connected to the frame 80. The bosses 68 have aligned pinholes 74 for receiving pins 76 extending through the dipper arm 34 and coupler 78 and of the excavator. (See FIGS. 3 and 11) As perhaps best seen in FIGS. 3-5, movement of a bucket cylinder piston 42 of the excavator 22 can be used to change the angle of the bracket assembly 28 to assist in the positioning of the roller 24. In the depicted example, the excavator cab 40 is positioned at a stable location above the slope being conditioned as the excavator arm 34 reaches downward to the sloped terrain 32, but it is contemplated that the excavator 22 can be positioned at a lower point and reach upward, or some other position. This allows the excavator 22 to condition large areas while the cab 40 remains in a stable remote location.

The frame 80 is connected to the bracket assembly 28, and may include a cross support assembly 82 that can extend above and along the axis of the cylinder 48 with a length that can extend beyond the roller 24. The cross support 82 may include various support members that may be welded together, such as vertical support plates 84 (FIGS. 6, 10), main support member 88, and upright support member 86. The outer ends of the support plates 86, 88 may extend to and be coupled with support arms 90. The support arms 90 may extend downward from the cross support assembly 82 and have bores 92 for supporting flange bearings 94 (FIGS. 10, 15A-B). The ends of the shaft 64 extending through the cylinder 48 may be journaled in the flange bearings 94. The support arms 90 extend downward a length such that when roller 24 is journaled in the bearings 94 with bushing 98 there is a sufficient gap between the cross support assembly 82 and the cleats 26 that the roller 24 may freely roll. A cover plate 96 (FIG. 16) with screw holes 97 arranged to align with holes 99 in the support arms 90 can be screwed to the support arm 90 to cover the bore 92 and flange bearings 94.

FIGS. 12 and 14 show an example embodiment of the bracket support plate 104 that forms part of the coupler bracket 70. The bracket support plate 104 includes an aperture 106 for receiving a boss 68, and a flange 108 for coupling to the cross support 82. In the example embodiment shown in FIG. 10, the flange 108 may be welded to the support members 86, 88. As shown in FIG. 11 the position of the bushing 68 in the coupler bracket 70 is angled about 5 degrees from the boss 68 of the dipper arm bracket 66.

FIG. 17 shows an example embodiment of a conditioner 100 having a single bracket 110 for releasably coupling to the dipper stick of a construction vehicle.

In light of the foregoing disclosure of the invention and description of certain preferred embodiments, those skilled in the art will readily understand that various modifications and adaptations can be made without departing from the true scope and spirit of the invention. All such modifications and adaptations are intended to be covered by the following claims. Thus, the foregoing has broadly outlined some of the more pertinent aspects and features of the present invention. These should be construed to be merely illustrative of some of the more prominent features and applications of the invention. Other beneficial results can be obtained by applying the disclosed information in a different manner or by modifying the disclosed embodiments. Accordingly, other aspects and a more comprehensive understanding of the invention may be obtained by referring to the detailed description of the exemplary embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in addition to the scope of the invention defined by the claims.