The present invention relates to vintage tasks in general,
and more particularly, it refers to a grape collection machine.
It is well known that vineyard plantations can follow different
layouts tending to obtain a better grapevine distribution in order to optimize cluster
growth and facilitate the harvest. Among these layouts, there is one known as grapevine
in canopy with a hanging pattern, which identifies the structure given to each plant
in the vineyard, and which is arranged so as to lay out branches with a "T" configuration
from the main vertical grapevine trunk, wherefrom only two opposing branches come
out and define the arrangement. Both branches are vertically driven downwards, wherefrom
cordons or strands will develop, generating vertically-oriented, longitudinally-aligned
foliage and grape clusters in each frame, parallel to the trunks and to the posts
conforming the canopy base structure.
The main object of the present invention is a simple machine
capable of mechanizing grape harvest in a highly efficient and cost effective way.
Another object of the invention consists of obtaining a
machine, specially constructed to perform grape harvest, which may be a self-propelled
machine or one easily mounted on a vineyard tractor, using its controls and its
own hydraulic fluid, thus achieving important savings with respect to expensive
traditional equipment and, consequently, reducing labor costs.
Therefore, the object of the present invention is the creation
of a machine that facilitates a quick and efficient grape collection in plantations
of the hanging canopy type, which provide an aligned layout of clusters within reach
of the machine elements, which in turn may easily detach grapes and clusters without
any damage thereto.
The above mentioned hanging canopy plantation procedure
allows for the lengthwise location of vine shoots, on both sides of the ridge extending
lengthwise thereof, conforming an equal number of cordons from which clusters hang.
As it will be described hereunder, the harvesting machine comprises an assembly
of vibrating clamps, capable of grasping each cordon and moving it transversally,
customizing the frequency to each grape variety; so that grains as well as clusters
come off their cordon and can be collected by collecting hoppers, which place the
fruit on to conveyor belts, which will deposit grapes in a nearby trailer driven
by a tractor or by the harvester itself, should the machine be self-propelled.
The vibrating assembly is a connecting rod-crank mechanism
that moves the motor lever, which, in turn, drives the guides on which the clamps
are mounted. The connecting rod-crank mechanism is provided with means that allow
for regulation of the connecting rod stroke, thus modifying the nature of the vibration
applied, which is very important in order to adapt the collection machine to the
different grape varieties. The whole vibrating device is driven by a hydraulic engine,
operated by means of a hydraulic pump.
Based on the above, the equipment simplicity and low cost
can be inferred, as the unit of the invention can be either self-propelled or it
can be simply mounted on, or removed from, the tractor, whenever required.
In the prior art, several embodiments with the object or
the present invention have been developed; among them we can mention the following:
Argentine Patent Application No. 010103351, filed by this
applicant, refers to a "Method for grapevine canopy management using a divided hanging
pattern, with vertical orientation of foliage, and installation for the actual construction
thereof". The content of said application is interesting because it establishes
the field of application of the present embodiment, since it defines in detail the
elements of same as well as their arrangement, intended to attain a vineyard that
uses the hanging type canopy structure, so that harvest is accomplished using the
machine of the present invention.
Patent CA No. 1205293 refers to a "Grain management arrangement
for an articulated combined machine", wherein the main axle device connects the
front part of the rear bogie to the back part of it, and it consists of special
separate upper and lower links. The lower link provides oscillation between the
bogies and at the same time it establishes a guide pivoting center. The upper link
normally rests on an antero-posterior plane, and is connected on a pivoting basis
between the upper and lower portions of their respective bogies, thus extending
the length of the rear bogie. The main axle layout also provides part of a conveyor
structure that carries the clean grain between the front and rear bogies. In one
embodiment, the upper link comprises a channeled tube inside of which the clean
grain is introduced by means of a lift. In another embodiment, the lower link layout
serves the dual purpose of the tube above mentioned and of a conveyor housing. This
layout is part of an articulated combined machine, and its structure comprises grain
conveyor means linked between the bogies that are part of the machine.
These teachings do not interfere with the object of the
Patent CA 2096917 refers to a "Blueberry collection machine".
It comprises a plurality of tilted channels supported with continuous movement from
their lower ends, near the soil, across a field of wild blueberry bushes. Channels
are provided on a side-by-side arrangement, adjacent to one another, so as to form
spaced sharp belts that will strip off fruits from their bushes. A nozzle that directs
forced air inside the channels, close to ground level, is included. It is an embodiment
of the prior art that adopts a different structure since it must operate practically
at ground level. This patent does not interfere with the present machine, object
of this specification.
Other mechanical harvesters broadly different in construction,
the applications of which are intended for different plant species, and which do
not interfere with the machine of this embodiment, are known in the art.
Hence, in order to achieve the advantages of the present
invention, the device, which is a machine used in grape harvest, is identified because
it comprises a hydraulic engine coupled to an adjustable connecting rod -crank mechanism
that drives a motor lever of a couple of bars, on which a pair of sliding vibrating
clamps are mounted; wherein said motor lever is mounted on recordable position supporting
rods, the assembly thereof is articulated on another pair of supporting bars mounted
on the device chassis, which is mounted on at least one side of the tractor. Said
hydraulic engine may be driven by the tractor's hydraulic pump, wherein the hydraulic
engine circuit includes a control valve and a flow control valve. It may also be
configured as a self-propelled unit.
In order to allow for a better understanding of the present
invention, which refers to a grape collection machine applicable to grapevine canopy
management with a hanging pattern, with vertical orientation of foliage, and so
that it may be easily carried out, a detailed description of a preferred embodiment
is provided in the following paragraphs. In said detailed description reference
is made to the accompanying illustrative drawings; all provided on an exemplary
basis and which should be interpreted in an illustrative and not in a limiting sense
of the invention, the components of which may be selected among several equivalents
thereof without departing from the principles of the invention.
- Figure 1 illustrates a schematic plan view of the machine layout, which constitutes
the object of the present invention, said machine is mounted on a vineyard tractor.
- Figure 2 illustrates a front view of the scheme shown in Fig. 1, with the machine
operating in a canopy vineyard.
- Figure 3 shows a representative construction of the machine described above,
in a top plan view.
- Figure 4 is a side view of the mechanism illustrated in Fig. 3. The hopper front
wall has been partially removed in order to show the mechanical layout.
- Figure 5 is a corresponding front view.
- Figure 6 is an expanded detailed view of the connecting rod -crank system, shown
in a top plan view.
- Figure 7 and 8 illustrate corresponding front and side views of the system illustrated
in Fig. 6.
On the figures described above, corresponding reference
characters indicate corresponding or equal parts.
According to accompanying schematic Figures 1 and 2, the
invention is applied to a "T" vineyard tractor, and, in this case, it essentially
comprises the following elements: one flow control valve 1 connected by tubing 2
to the tractor hydraulic circuit, and by tubing 3 to the control means 4 of a hydraulic
drive engine 5 of a connecting rod-crank mechanism 6. Number 7 represents the motor
lever of the transversal guides 8 of the vibrating clamp 9, and 10 represents the
extensible supporting rods articulated, on one end thereof, with said transversal
guides, and on the other end, connected to the chassis 11, by means of lengthwise
supporting rods 12, wherein they articulate.
Figures 1 and 2 show props N, guide wire G and grape clusters
Figure 2 illustrates, besides the aforesaid elements, the
engine support 13, the management wires D, the hanging type canopy S and the hopper
Figures 3, 4 and 5 illustrate one of the possible embodiments
of the machine, in which the side hopper has been replaced with a conveyor belt.
The same as described above, number 1 represents the flow
control valve with its hydraulic fluid conduits 2 from tractor "T" circuit, said
conduits are provided with the corresponding connections in the ends. They reach
the control element 4a of the hydraulic engine 5, with its support 13, control element
to which the control of the hydraulic engine 14 that drives the conveyor belt 15,
has been added, with the corresponding fluid feed tubing.
Figure 1 shows the conveyor belt's frame W, with the bottom
portion thereof tilted on both sides and converging on the belt plane, thus forming
a kind of fruit guiding hopper.
Connected to engine 5 is a connecting rod-crank mechanism
6, mechanically connected to the motor lever 7, for the purpose of operating guides
8 of at least a pair of vibrating sliding clamps 9. The presence of extensible supporting
rods 10 is also shown. Friction rings 16 have been inserted in the motor lever 7
in order to prevent the lateral displacement thereof. The connecting rod -crank
mechanism in Figures 6, 7 and 8 is illustrated pursuant to three orthogonal planes,
wherein a detailed layout thereof is shown. It consists of tubes 3 which feed the
hydraulic engine 5, and, which is provided with a support 13 for the chassis 11.
The hydraulic engine is directly coupled to the disk 17
which works as a crank, said disk is provided with a series of radially spaced perforations
18, intended to fix the trunnion integrating the connecting rod 19. Number 20 corresponds
to the connecting rod trunnion tie bolt 19.
Upon establishing the different components of this version
of the invention, developed in order to explain the nature thereof, the description
will now be supplemented with the functional and operative relationship existing
between its parts and the result obtained therefrom.
According to the type of grape to be harvested, the connecting
rod trunnion 19 is fixed into the most convenient orifice 18, for the purpose of
providing said clusters with an optimum vibration frequency. Next, the machine clamp
assemblies are located at a height defined by the management wires D and guide wires
G, for the purpose of subjecting each cluster's stalk to the vibrating action. Therefore,
adjustment is provided for the extensible supporting rods 10, articulated over the
longitudinal supporting rods 12, which are supported on the chassis 11. The vibrating
movement imposed by the connecting rod-crank mechanism is transmitted to each pair
of sliding clamps 9, by means of motor levers 7, driven by connecting rods 19.
The vibrating effect cuts off rachis or twigs integrating
each cluster, or detaches the grapes, all of which is collected by the conveyor
belt 15 and unloaded in the trailer (not illustrated). Since the frame "W" converges
towards the belt, it guides the fruit coming off towards said belt.
The control of the hydraulic engine that drives the connecting
rod-crank mechanism has been explained by means of the elements already described,
as well as the operation of the conveyor belt. For that purpose, conduit connectors
2 are secured to hydraulic circuit of tractor T, so that the machine may be in a
condition to operate. Moreover, the explanation has been provided in two application
versions, attachable to a vineyard tractor for cost saving purposes, since the tractor
is a device commonly used in agrarian exploitations. Nothing prevents the present
machine from being a self-propelled machine by adding appropriate and simple devices.
Likewise, the figures show two sets of vibrating clamps customized to the vineyard
tractor size, which on the other hand is regarded as optimum. However, this detail
will depend on the dimensions and the type of construction of the machine.
In brief, the machine described above consists of a chassis
which provides support to the hydraulic engine, which, in turn, is provided with
control means and coupled to an adjustable connecting rod-crank drive mechanism
by means of a kinematic chain integrated by several rods, such that a pair of sliding
vibrating clamps is mounted on at least one of said transversally disposed rods,
said vibrating clamps being driven by a motor lever connected to the crank and articulated
on recordable length supporting rods, which are mechanically related to another
pair of longitudinal supporting rods connected to the aforementioned device chassis.
Collection means for the fruit are in place in correspondence with such sliding