This invention relates to a combine head for receiving
crop material, said combine head comprising a longitudinally-extending trough configured
to surround at least the lower portion of a cross auger of the combine head.
A combine head is the structure mounted on the front of
a combine harvester to gather grain and non-grain crop materials, separate them
from the ground or stalks, and convey them to a combine processing section that
is typically disposed inside the vehicle itself. The processing section in the vehicle
separates crop materials from a stalk or cob as is appropriate.
One common style of combine head is one used to harvest
corn, and therefore is called a corn head. Corn heads typically include a laterally-extending
frame (relative to movement of the combine) to cover multiple crop rows, that cradles
a laterally-extending auger trough configured to receive ears of corn. The auger
trough directs them to a center portion of the head where they are then conveyed
backward through a central opening in the corn head to the processing section of
the combine vehicle. The frame also supports an auger for rotation slightly above
the lower surface of the trough. Flights on the auger engage ears of corn that are
dumped into the trough and convey them to the central portion of the corn head where
they are removed from the corn head for in field processing by the processing section
of the vehicle.
Row units are fixed to a leading edge of the troughs in
a spaced-apart arrangement extending across the width of the corn head. Each row
unit is configured to gather and harvest ears of corn from a single row of corn
stalks as the combine travels through the field. Each row unit separates the ears
of corn from the cornstalk itself and deposits the ears in the leading edge of the
trough directly behind each row unit.
Corn-harvesting is a robust process in which there is a
great deal of shaking, banging and jostling. All of this activity causes individual
corn grains and other plant matter to become separated from the ears of corn and
to become bunched in various portions of the corn head, stuck in corners, even to
rest in the bottom of the auger troughs in the space between the auger flights and
All this material must be cleaned out of the corn head
between harvesting sessions for a variety of reasons. First, the corn residue left
in the corn head, like any plant matter, is subject to fungus, mold, parasites,
and rot. It is necessary to remove this plant matter from the corn head before it
has a chance to grow the relevant species of parasitic contamination. Second, corn
kernels from one variety of corn can contaminate other varieties of corn that are
subsequently harvested by the corn head. Third, residual plant matter attracts moisture
and can build up on the corn head surfaces, decay the paint and cause rust.
One of the prime places for plant matter to be left in
the corn head is in the bottom of the trough. Furthermore, plant matter from higher
surfaces is washed down into the trough whenever farmers clean their equipment with
water hoses or a power washer.
To permit the combined water and plant matter to leave
the combine head during cleaning, some manufacturers have provided corn heads with
a small opening in one of the end sheets of the corn head. "End sheets" are the
two vertical walls that are bolted, welded or otherwise fixed to both outer ends
of the corn head frame and trough to close off the ends of the trough.
While these openings have been somewhat useful, they have
not provided for the complete removal of plant matter from the auger trough because
they must be made small enough to minimize crop loss during harvesting operations.
In addition, combines having one of the small openings in one end sheet require
all the plant material to be pushed to the end sheet of the corn head having the
opening. If the combine is on uneven ground, or for any reason is tilted away from
the end sheet having the opening, water naturally runs away from the opening and
naturally carries the plant matter with it. As a result, extra effort and time must
be taken during cleanout to force the water uphill and out the opening.
What is needed, therefore, is an apparatus for cleaning
out the auger troughs of combine heads that provides better access and does not
retain as much residual plant matter. What is also needed is an apparatus for cleaning
out the auger troughs of combine heads that is usable regardless of the orientation
of the combine head itself.
This is achieved with the subject matter of claim 1. The
dependent claims recite advantageous embodiments.
In one form the invention includes a combine head for receiving
crop material, the combine head having a longitudinally extending trough panel configured
to surround at least the lower portion of a cross auger of a combine head. The trough
panel defines first and second openings in a lower portion thereof, the first and
second openings being disposed adjacent either end of the trough panel. Doors are
positioned at the first and second openings and displaceable between a closed position
to prevent leakage of crop material therethrough and an open position to permit
the exit of cleanout water and waste crop material.
An embodiment of the invention is shown in the drawings,
- Fig. 1 is a perspective view of a combine head embodying the present invention;
- Fig. 2 is a view taken from the underside of Fig. 1 on lines 2-2 of Fig. 1;
- Fig. 3 is an enlarged partial perspective view of the combine head of Fig. 1,
taken from the forward side with beam 114 removed;
- Fig. 4 is an enlarged partial perspective view of the combine head of Fig. 1,
taken from the aft side;
- Fig. 5 is an enlarged perspective view taken from the bottom side of Fig. 1
with several of the parts removed to show cleanout doors; and
- Fig. 6 is an exploded fragmentary view of the doors particularly shown in Fig.
Referring now to the Figs 1 and 2, a combine head, generally
indicated by reference character 100, includes a laterally-extending upper beam
102, a laterally extending lower beam 104, a laterally-extending row unit beam 114,
and a plurality of fore-and-aft extending brackets or gussets 116 extending between,
and fixed to, beams 104 and 114. Combine head 100 also includes a rear wall 118
that is fixed to beam 102 and 104. Combine head 100 also includes a concave and
longitudinally extending auger trough 120 that extends between and is coupled to
left and right end sheets 122, 124 of the combine head frame. If the combine head
100 is ready for operation, it is mounted to a feederhouse of a combine and comprises
a cross auger with trough 120 and crop receiving units in front of the trough 120,
not shown in the drawings for the sake of simplification.
In use, the combine head 100 traverses a field in the direction
of arrow A. Thus, the longitudinal axis of auger trough 120 is substantially at
right angles to the direction of movement A through a crop field. As indicated previously,
crop material is placed into auger trough 120 and moved by flights of the auger
(not shown) to move crop material from end plates 122 and 124 towards the center
of the combine head 100 where they are discharged in the direction of arrow B through
central opening 119 in rear wall 118. As herein illustrated, the laterally extending
beams for the fore and aft brackets or gussets and end sheets are affixed to one
another, some by welding and others by removable fasteners. It should be apparent
to those skilled in the art that the components may be assembled as a single structure
using any combination of appropriate fastening mechanisms.
The left end and the right end of auger trough 120 have
rectangular openings 126, 128, respectively, that extend through the auger trough
from the inside to the outside. Openings 126, 128 are disposed in the trough 120,
preferably at or adjacent to the lowest point of the curved auger trough 120 when
the combine head frame is placed in a crop waste material clean out position. In
the clean out position, and in the normal operating position, each plane of openings
126, 128 is disposed generally horizontally. Openings 126, 128 are mirror images
of each other disposed in substantially identical positions on opposite sides of
the combine head trough and have identical dimensions; the only difference being
that they are disposed on opposite ends of the combine head frame.
As shown in Figs. 4-6, each opening 126, 128 is covered
by a respective 130 door and a latch assembly fixed to the underside of the trough
120. In Figs. 3-6 herein, only the left door 130 (looking in the direction of arrow
A of Fig. 1) and latch 136 are shown. The right door and latch are identically configured
and arranged but are mounted on the opposite end of the trough to cover the other
opening 128. The right door and latch are mirror images of the illustrated left
door 130 and latch 136 as referenced to a line that is perpendicular to, and at
the midpoint, of the combine head beams and auger but are disposed over the opening
128 at the other end of the trough 120.
Door 130 is formed from a sheet material and includes an
integral hinge 131 in the form of tabs that are wrapped around an appropriate pin
or inserted into a slot (not shown) which is affixed to the auger trough 120 at
the outer ends thereof so that the door hinges are towards the outside of the header
100. As shown particularly in Fig. 5, the door 130 has an eye or handle 142 on its
bottom surface 134. Eye 142 is formed from a strap bent to form the eye 142 and
which is integral with a pair of legs 133 extending away from one another to the
side of door 130 adjacent hinge elements 131. The legs 133 are appropriately affixed
to door 130 to provide a strengthening function. Legs 133 may be welded, riveted,
or affixed in any appropriate manner. Eye 142 has a hole 143 that enables the door
to be locked in its closed position.
Latch 136 is formed from a U-shaped strap 137, fixed to
the bottom surface of the trough 120. It includes a pin 140 leading to a handle
144 integral with pin 140 and bent at 90° to form an L-shape structure. Pin
140 extends through aligned holes 139 in strap 137 so that the handle 144 is on
one side of the strap and the pin 140 extends through the hole and beyond the strap
137. Pin 140 has a cone-like end 145 to facilitate entry in hole 143 of eye 142
as described below. Pin 140 has a spring 145 telescoped over it. Spring 145 acts
on one wall of strap 137 and on a cross pin 147 fixed to pin 140 of sufficient length
to capture one end of spring 145. In the arrangement shown, pin 140 is urged to
its position wherein it extends a maximum distance beyond strap 137. Pin 140 engages
the hole 143 in eye 142 fixed to the bottom surface 134 of door 130. Pin 140, when
engaged with the hole 143 in eye 142, holds the door closed and prevents grain and
other crop material from escaping through openings 126, 128 and falling on the ground.
To open the door, the operator goes to the rear of the
combine head and grasps handle 144 which is attached to pin 140. The operator then
pulls handle 144 backwards, towards the rear of the combine. This pulling compresses
coil spring 145 and withdraws the pin 140 from the eye 142. With the pin 140 withdrawn
from the eye 142, the door 130 is free to open, pivoting about the hinge 131 under
the force of gravity until the door hangs downward leaving opening 126 uncovered.
In this position, the operator can take a water hose or power washer and flush all
loose material from the upper trough, through the now-uncovered opening 126 and
on to the ground. In the absence of a water source the operator can use other means
to push the material to and through the doors. The operator can, of course, open
the other door in the same manner and flush material out the other opening.
If the combine happens to be on angled ground so that one
end of the combine head is at a lower elevation than the other, the water mixed
with plant matter will run down to the lowest point in the trough, which is at or
adjacent to the opening 126 or 128, depending upon which end of the corn head is
lower. The operator can either open both doors, or the operator can open the door
that is lowest. Typically, the operator will raise the corn head slightly above
the ground to permit the mixed water and plant matter falling through the openings
to escape on the ground and not remain in contact with the corn head.