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Dokumentenidentifikation EP1009213 12.06.2003
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 1009213
Titel AUFSITZMÄHER MIT FÜLLSTANDANZEIGEVORRICHTUNG
Anmelder Murray, Inc., Brentwood, Tenn., US
Erfinder MIXON, W., Laramie, Lexington, US;
ALEXANDER, A., Dennis, Trenton, US
Vertreter Andrae Flach Haug, 81541 München
DE-Aktenzeichen 69814409
Vertragsstaaten AT, DE, FR, GB, IE, IT
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 30.07.1998
EP-Aktenzeichen 989370481
WO-Anmeldetag 30.07.1998
PCT-Aktenzeichen PCT/US98/15311
WO-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0099011110
WO-Veröffentlichungsdatum 11.03.1999
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 21.06.2000
EP date of grant 07.05.2003
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 12.06.2003
IPC-Hauptklasse A01D 43/063

Beschreibung[en]
Background of the Invention

The present invention relates to lawn mowers having a grass-clipping collection bag, and in particular to lawn mowers having an indicating assembly for indicating when the collection bag is substantially full.

It is known in the prior art to provide lawn mowers which provide a collection bag for collecting grass-clippings. Some of such lawn mowers provide and indicating assembly for indicating to the operator that the collection bag is substantially full and needs to be dumped.

Many mowers provide arrangement wherein a bag full detection will automatically cut-off the mower engine. This design is rather inflexible. For example, this design may cause the engine to shut down when there is only a small amount of grass remaining to be cut, and where the operator would prefer to finish cutting the additional amount prior to dumping the collection bag.

Other indicating assemblies provided with mowers have been unnecessarily complex, expensive, or unreliable. For example, U.S. Patent No. 5,388,394 discloses a system which detects a build-up in air pressure in a discharge duct. This system does not detect grass clipping levels directly and relies on other factors which may or may not be directly related to a bag-full condition. Other systems, rely on the weight of the collection bag (see U.S. Patent No. 4,981,011) or a sensor in the mower chute (sec U.S. Patent No. 5,325,650) for detecting a bag-full condition. Another system, disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 5.321.939 utilizes a relatively expensive light sensor system that provides a bag-full indication when a light-blocking state of the sensor continues for a period of time longer than a predetermined period of time. None of these systems directly detect the level of grass clippings within the bag, and thus do not provide an accurate bag-full indication.

European Patent Application No. 0 687 407 A discloses a lawn mower that employs a grass-contacting member connected at an opening within the lawn mower chute. This grass-contacting member only contacts grass clippings when the bag is in an over-filled condition and grass clippings overflow from the bag and are dropped onto the ground through the opening. Thus, in the '407 Application, grass clippings must overflow and spill onto the ground before the contact member will enable any bag-full indication. This is no more useful than a lawnmower which does not have any sensing means, and wherein an individual operating the mower can determine that the bag is full as a result of grass clippings being left on the ground rather than being consumed by the bag.

It is an object of the present invention to overcome the problems associated with the prior art noted above. This object is achieved by providing a lawn mower as characterized in claim 1. Preferred embodiments are described in the dependent claims.

According to the present invention there is provided a lawn mower comprising:-

  • a frame
  • an engine mounted on said frame;
  • a cutting mechanism driven by said engine constructed and arranged to cut grass and to generate grass clippings ;
  • a bag for collecting said grass clippings ; and
  • a bag-full indicating assembly including an indicator hat indicates to a mower operator that the bag is substantially full in response to a bag-full signal, and a switch which can be activated to generate said bag-full signal, said switch comprising a grass-contacting member being movable from a non-activated state to an activated state thereby enabling said bag-full signal for said indicator so that said indicator indicates to the mower operator that the bag is substantially full, wherein said grass-contacting member extends into said bag, and in that said grass-contacting member is displaced by grass-clipping build-up within said bag to move said grass-contacting member from said non-activated state to said activated state, characterised in that:-
    • said grass contacting member comprises an elongate flexible member being in a normally substantially straight configuration and being flexibly bent in response to a build-up of grass clippings within said bag, said elongate flexible member comprising internal conductive contact members
  • disposed in normally spaced non-conductive relation to one another, said conductive contact members being moved into conductive engagement with one another to activate said switch upon flexing of said elongate flexible member to predetermined extent upon build-up of grass clippings in said bag.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide a ride-on mower that achieves the benefits noted above.

Brief Description Of The Drawings

  • FIG. 1 is a side plan view of a ride-on lawn mower incorporating a bag full indicator in accordance with the principles of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a side plan view similar to that shown in FIG. 1, but showing the lawn mower bag filled with grass so as to activate the bag full indicator;
  • FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the rear portion of the ride-on mower, with the bag removed to show the rear end of the mower chute and the bag full switch in accordance with the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a rear plan view of the ride-on lawn mower with the bag removed to illustrate the arrangement of the chute and bag-full indicator switch in accordance with the present invention;
  • FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the bag-full switch utilized in the present invention;
  • FIG. 6 is a schematic representation of a cross-sectional view of the bag-full indicator switch shown in FIG. 5.

Detailed Description Of The Invention

FIG. 1 is a side-plan view of a ride-on lawn mower, generally indicated at 10. The mower 10 includes a conventional cutting assembly 12 disposed beneath the engine 13 and body frame assembly 14, and between front and rear wheels 16, 18. The mower is of the ride-on variety, which includes a seat member 20 and a steering wheel 22. As is also conventional, the mower 10 includes a chute 24 leading from the cutting assembly 12 to a rear bag 26 for accumulating cut grass.

In accordance with the principles of the present invention, the mower 10 includes a bag full indicator system, which includes a flex-switch 28 mounted within the bag 26 and an alarm or indicator unit 30 which provides an audible or visual indication to the operator that the bag 26 is full and ready to be emptied. The flex-switch is a grass-contacting member which comes into physical contact with the grass clippings.

As shown in FIG. 2, when the bag 26 is filled with grass or other cut matter, generally indicated at 32, it eventually reaches the flex-switch 28. When the bag 26 becomes sufficiently full, the flex-switch 28 is flexed or bent upwardly in the manner shown. The flex-switch is bent by being physically displaced by grass build-up within the collection bag. When the flex-switch 28 is bent or flexed beyond a pre-determined amount, it internally closes a circuit so as to energize the indicator 30, which in FIGS. 1 and 2 is in the form of a simple light bulb or LED display. An audio signal may accompany the light indicator, or be provided in lieu thereof.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the flex-switch 28 is mounted immediately below the chute 24. It has been found that this is the ideal location for a flex-switch of the nature contemplated by the present invention. In particular, it is found that grass which is expelled from the chute 24 fills the sides and the back of the bag 26 first, and then begins to fill the area immediately beneath the chute towards the end of the filling process. The flex-switch 28 is thus oriented to provide a full indication at a substantially ideal time, and prior to the time at which the chute 24 will become clogged with grass clippings.

The flex-switch 28 is preferably one which is manufactured by Tapeswitch Corporation of Farmingdale, New York. Preferably Model No. 180, Flex-Action Ribbon Switch is used.

FIG. 6 is a schematic representation of a cross-sectional view of the flex-switch 28 for the purpose of describing the principle of operation. The flex-switch 28 is normally opened switch comprising an elongated flexible rubber sheath 36 which houses a pair of elongate metal contact members 38 and 40. The contact members 38 and 40 run substantially along the length of the sheath 36 and are held in normally spaced relation from one another. Upon sufficient flexing of the flex-switch in a direction transverse or perpendicular to its longitudinal extent, the flexible contact members 38 and 40 are brought into contact with one another to close the switch. Once the switch is closed, a signal is sent to the indicator 30 in conventional fashion. As shown in FIG. 5, wires 42 extend outwardly from the sheath 36 for connection to a power source and the indicator 30.

Preferably, the flex-switch (not including the wires 42) preferably has a total length of between about 18 - 23 cm (7-9 inches.) and preferably has a length of between 8.9 - 14.0 cm (3S - 5S inches) of its extent extending beyond the rear metal panel. It should also be noted that the switch works in either direction and flexes downward. It can be appreciated that the length of the flex-switch has a direct effect on the timing of a bag-full indication. More specifically, a longer flex-switch is likely to reach a sufficient amount of bending at an earlier time than a shorter switch. It is found that a flex-switch of the preferred lengths noted above provides for an optimal bag-full indication. It is also preferred that the flex -switch extend substantially horizontally outwardly from its mounting. It can be appreciated that the angle of mounting will also have an effect on the time at which a bag-full indication is given. For example, a flex-switch that angles downwardly from the rear of the mower is likely to be provided with a sufficient bend to indicate a bag-full condition at an earlier timeframe in comparison with a mounting which angles the flex-switch upwardly. The end of the flex-switch which is mounted through the rear metal panel 43 of the mower is clamped in place, with care being taken that such clamping does not close the switch. For example, such clamping may take place at a rearward end flattened portion 44 of the rubber or resilient sheath 36. This flattened portion 44 does not contain any of the contact elements 38 or 40. As another approach, the side edges 46 of the flex-switch 28 can be clamped or compressed towards one another. The present invention contemplates any sort of mounting which does not effect closure of the tape-switch.

An embodiment to the present invention has now been described with reference to the accompanying drawings. The embodiment is illustrative in nature and does not restrict the scope of the invention which is decribed in the appended claims.


Anspruch[de]
  1. Rasenmäher mit

    einem Rahmen (14);

    einem an dem Rahmen montierten Motor;

    einer von dem Motor angetriebenen Schneidvorrichtung (12), die ausgebildet und angeordnet ist, um Gras zu schneiden und Grasabfall (32) zu erzeugen,

    einem Sack (26) zum Aufnehmen des Grasabfalls (32); und

    eine Sackfüllstandsanzeige (28, 30), die eine Anzeigevorrichtung (30), die einer Bedienungsperson des Mähers anzeigt, daß der Sack als Antwort auf ein Sack-Voll-Signal im wesentlichen voll ist, und einen Schalter (28) enthält, der aktiviert werden kann, um das Sack-Voll-Signal zu erzeugen, wobei der Schalter ein Graskontaktteil aufweist, das aus einem nicht-aktivierten Zustand in einen aktivierten Zustand bewegbar ist, um dadurch das Sack-Voll-Signal für die Anzeigevorrichtung zu liefern, so daß die Anzeigevorrichtung der Bedienungsperson des Mähers anzeigt, daß der Sack im wesentlichen voll ist, wobei das Graskontaktteil in.den Sack ragt, und wobei das Graskontaktteil durch die Ansammlung von Grasabfall in dem Sack verschoben wird, um das Graskontaktteil aus dem nicht-aktivierten Zustand in den aktivierten Zustand zu bewegen, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß das Graskontaktteil ein längliches flexibles Teil aufweist, das normalerweise in einer im wesentlichen geraden Form ist und als Antwort auf eine Ansammlung von Grasabfall in dem Sack flexibel abgebogen wird, wobei das längliche flexible Teil innere leitende Kontaktteile (38, 40) aufweist, die in einer normalerweise beabstandeten nicht-leitenden Beziehung zueinander angeordnet sind, wobei die leitenden Kontaktteile in leitenden Eingriff miteinander bewegt werden, um den Schalter (28) beim Abbiegen des länglichen flexiblen Teils auf ein vorbestimmtes Maß bei einer Ansammlung von Grasabfall in dem Sack zu aktivieren.
  2. Rasenmäher nach Anspruch 1, bei dem die Anzeigevorrichtung (30) eine visuelle Anzeigevorrichtung ist.
  3. Rasenmäher nach Anspruch 1, bei dem die Anzeigevorrichtung eine Hör-Anzeigevorrichtung ist.
  4. Mäher nach Anspruch 1, bei dem der Mäher eine Rutsche (24) aufweist, die die Schneidvorrichtung (12) mit dem Sack (26) in Verbindung bringt und einen Durchgang für den Grasabfall schafft, damit er von der Schneidvorrichtung zu dem Sack geht, wobei die Rutsche einen Auslaß hat, von dem aus der Grasabfall von dem Sack aufgenommen wird, wobei das Graskontaktteil ein Ende hat, das unter dem Rutschenauslaß befestigt ist, und sich von dort aus in den Sack erstreckt.
  5. Rasenmäher nach irgend einem vorhergehenden Anspruch,

    mit einem Sitz (20), der auf dem Rahmen montiert ist;

    Rädern (16, 18), die an dem Rahmen montiert sind;

    einem Lenkrad (22), das bezüglich des Rahmens angeordnet ist, um die Räder zu drehen und den Rasenmäher zu steuern, wobei der Motor an dem Rahmen zum Antreiben der Räder angeordnet ist, wodurch der Rasenmäher ein Aufsitzrasenmäher ist.
Anspruch[en]
  1. A lawn mower comprising:
    • a frame (14);
    • an engine mounted on said frame;
    • a cutting mechanism (12) driven by said engine constructed and arranged to cut grass and to generate grass clippings (32);
    • a bag (26) for collecting said grass clippings (32); and
    • a bag-full indicating assembly (28, 30) including an indicator (30) that indicates to a mower operator that the bag is substantially full in response to a bag-full signal, and a switch (28) which can be activated to generate said bag-full signal, said switch comprising a grass-contacting member being movable from a non-activated state to an activated state thereby enabling said bag-full signal for said indicator so that said indicator indicates to the mower operator that the bag is substantially full, wherein said grass-contacting member extends into said bag, and in that said grass-contacting member is displaced by grass-clipping build-up within said bag to move said grass contacting member from said non-activated state to said activated state, characterized in that:-
      • said grass contacting member comprises an elongate flexible member being in a normally substantially straight configuration and being flexibly bent in response to a build-up of grass clippings within said bag, said elongate flexible member comprising internal conductive contact members (38, 40) disposed in normally spaced non-conductive relation to one another, said conductive contact members being moved into conductive engagement with one another to activate said switch (28) upon flexing of said elongate flexible member to predetermined extent upon build-up of grass clippings in said bag.
  2. A lawn mower according to claim 1, wherein said indicator (30) is a visual indicator.
  3. A lawn mower according to claim 1, wherein said indicator (30) is an audio indicator.
  4. The mower according to claim 1, wherein said mower comprises a chute (24) communicating said cutting mechanism (12) with said bag (26) and providing a passage for said grass clippings to pass from said cutting mechanism to said bag, said chute having an outlet from which said grass clippings are received by said bag, said grass-contacting member having one end thereof fixed below said chute outlet and extending therefrom into said bag.
  5. A lawn mower according to any preceding claim, comprising:
    • a seat (20) mounted on said frame;
    • wheels (16, 18) mounted on said frame;
    • a steering wheel (22) mounted with respect to said frame for turning said wheels and steering said lawn mower, wherein said engine is mounted on said frame for driving said wheels; whereby said lawn mower is a ride-on lawn mower.
Anspruch[fr]
  1. Une tondeuse à gazon, comprenant :
    • un châssis (14) ;
    • un moteur thermique monté sur ledit châssis ;
    • un mécanisme de découpage (12) entraîné par ledit moteur thermique, construit et agencé pour découper de l'herbe et générer des déchets d'herbe (32) ;
    • un sac (26) pour collecter lesdits déchets d'herbe (32) ; et
    • un ensemble d'indication de remplissage de sac (28, 30), comprenant un indicateur (30) indiquant à un utilisateur de la tondeuse que le sac est pratiquement plein, en réponse à un signal de sac plein, et un interrupteur (28) pouvant être activé pour générer ledit signal de sac plein, ledit interrupteur comprenant un organe mis en contact avec l'herbe, déplaçable d'un état non activé à un état activé, activant de cette manière ledit signal de sac plein pour ledit indicateur, de manière que ledit indicateur indique à l'utilisateur de la tondeuse que le sac est pratiquement plein, dans lequel ledit organe de contact avec l'herbe s'étend dans ledit sac, et en ce que ledit organe de contact avec l'herbe est déplacé par l'accumulation de déchets d'herbe dans ledit sac, pour déplacer ledit organe de contact avec l'herbe, dudit état non activé audit état activé, caractérisé en ce que
    • ledit organe de contact avec l'herbe comprend un élément flexible allongé qui, en une configuration normale, est pratiquement rectiligne et qui est cintré de façon flexible en réponse à l'accumulation de déchets d'herbe dans ledit sac, ledit élément flexible allongé comprenant des organes de contact (38, 40) internes conducteurs, disposés à l'état normal en une relation non-conductrice espacée l'un envers l'autre, lesdits organes à contact conducteurs étant déplacés pour être mis en prise conductrice l'un avec l'autre pour activer ledit interrupteur (28) lors de la flexion dudit élément flexible allongé à un degré prédéterminé lors de l'accumulation de déchets d'herbe dans ledit sac.
  2. Une tondeuse à gazon selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit indicateur (30) est un indicateur visuel.
  3. Une tondeuse à gazon selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit indicateur (30) est un indicateur sonore.
  4. La tondeuse selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ladite tondeuse comprend une goulotte (24), mettant en communication ledit mécanisme de coupe (12) avec ledit sac (26) et fournissant aux dits déchets d'herbe un passage pour qu'ils passent dudit mécanisme de coupe audit sac, ladite goulotte ayant une sortie d'où lesdits déchets d'herbe sont reçus par ledit sac, ledit organe de contact avec l'herbe ayant une de ses extrémités fixées au-dessous de ladite sortie de goulotte et s'étendant, à partir de là, dans ledit sac.
  5. Une tondeuse à gazon selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant :
    • un siège (20) monté sur ledit châssis ;
    • des roues (16, 18) montées sur ledit châssis ;
    • un volant (22) monté, par rapport audit châssis, afin de faire tourner lesdites roues et d'obtenir le pilotage directionnel de ladite tondeuse à gazon, dans laquelle ledit moteur thermique est monté sur ledit châssis pour entraîner lesdites roues ; de manière que ladite tondeuse à gazon soit une tondeuse à siège.






IPC
A Täglicher Lebensbedarf
B Arbeitsverfahren; Transportieren
C Chemie; Hüttenwesen
D Textilien; Papier
E Bauwesen; Erdbohren; Bergbau
F Maschinenbau; Beleuchtung; Heizung; Waffen; Sprengen
G Physik
H Elektrotechnik

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