US 3148747 A
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P 1964 -R. L. BATCHELOR 3,148,747
LUBRICATING SYSTEM Filed Aug. 24, 1962 I INVENTOR Robert L. Botchelor ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,148,747 LUBRHCATENG SYSTEM Robert L. Batchelor, 87 Mackay Drive, Tenatly, NJ. Filed Aug. 24, 1962, Ser. No. 219,140 '7 Claims. (Cl. 134-45) This invention relates to lubricating systems and, more particularly, to lubricating systems for conveyor systems of the drag-chain type. The present invention is related to the invention disclosed in my copending application, Serial No. 62,700, filed October 14, 1960, (issued August 28, 1962 as patent No. 3,051,264) and the present application is a continuation-in-part of that application.
Conveyor systems of the drag-chain type are used extensively in food processing, dairy, breweries, bottling plants, etc., to provide for the transport of container packages, i.e. crates, cartons, cans, etc. Such conveyor systems employ a transport mechanism upon Which the container packages are supported and carried along between separated points in the plant. Due to severe operating conditions, such transport mechanisms generally comprise a flexible, endless steel chain. It is evident, therefore, that considerable friction is developed within the working parts of the endless steel chain as well as against the chain channels along which it is dragged through the conveyor system. As hereinafter employed, working parts refers to those linkage structures effecting an interconnection of individual steel links to form the flexible, endless steel chain.
In conveyor systems of the drag-chain type, the problem of lubrication of the endless steel chain and, more particularly, the working parts thereof has been ever present. In addition, and es ecially in plants processing items for human consumption, container package soilage which is a condition creating anything but an impression of dependable sanitation must be avoided. In the event that container package soilage results, considerable expenditures are necessary to clean such container packages prior to a distribution thereof to the consumers. Accordingly, and to satisfy both requirements, soap-type lubricants have been generally employed in lieu of oil lubricants, which are perhaps better lubricants.
In accordance with the principles of the invention disclosed in my copending application, foam lubricant is applied direct y to working parts of an endless steel chain, such lubricant being applied under pressure and in a lubricating chamber through which such chain is directed. More particularly, the foam lubricant is provided under pressure to an orifice flush with the base of the lubricating chamber and over which the endless steel chain is adapted to pass. According to one feature of that invention, the individual links of the endless steel chain in passing over such orifice operate as a slide valve to release the foam lubricant under pressure directly into the working parts thereof. The Working parts are, thereupon, completely lubricated by the flexations of the endless steel chain in traversing the conveyor system. According to another feature of that invention, the orifice is provided with an enclosed lubricating chamber whereby surplus foam lubricant is confined and distributed over the endless steel chain. The surplus foam lubricant is carried along to lubricate the endless steel chain with respect to the chain channels, including curve-wheels and/or friction curves, of the conveyor system.
The present invention relates to systems of the type disclosed in my copending application. In accordance with the present invention, the lubricant is converted into lather or foam of uniform consistency and of accurately controlled proportions of air, water and lubricating solids. Manual adjustment is provided for the relative proportions of air, water and lubricant, but after such adjustment, the operation is automatic. In the illustrative embodiment of the present invention, the lubricant is a solution containing a carefully controlled proportion of soap solids and water.
A fuller appreciation of this invention Will be had upon a consideration of the detailed description hereinafter set forth when taken in conjunction with the drawing wherein:
The single figure is a schematic representation of an illustrative embodiment of this invention, with a portion of a typical conveyor system and the control unit and the structure by which the foam lubricant is formed shown in elevation.
Referring now to the drawing, a typical conveyor system of the drag-chain type is illustrated which comprises a driven endless steel chain 1 suitably supported in parallel return chain and carrying chain channels which define the path of travel of the chain through the conveyor system substantially within a single vertical plane. The container packages are supported and transported on the portion of the chain 1 supported in the carrying channel. In addition to this structure, although not illustrated, there are pipe guards, drag bars, curve-wheels, and/or friction curves along the carrying channel to guide the container packages.
Considerable friction is generated by the chain 1 along the conveyor system against both the return channel and the carrying channel. For example, the face portion 7 of the chain 1 is subjected to both friction and abrasion against the bottom of return channel and, similarly, the base or lower portion thereof is subjected to such effects against the bottom of the carrying channel. With respect to the carrying channel, this condition is aggravated by the added weight of the container packages. In addition, at either friction or curve-wheel curves the side faces of the chain 1 are subjected to friction and abrasion. Accordingly, the chain structure must be lubricated on its face, sides and bottom portions to reduce this friction drag. Also, and most important to the long wear of the chain'l, the working parts, i.e. link connectors or hearing points, must be completely lubricated.
Chain 1 comprises a suitable plurality of individual steel links 5; each link is a unitary structure having a sprocket cavity and a member adapted to engage the drive sprocket wheel 6 and the take-up sprocket wheel (not shown). The links and the linkage pins, i.e. the working parts, of the chain 1 are subject to great wear as the chain is driven along the conveyor system by the drive sprocket wheel s. On leaving the underside of the drive sprocket wheel 6, the chain is, in effect, operative as a push chain. In such instance, the position of each of the linkage pins is displaced to the extreme side of its eyelet, and on passage around the take-up sprocket Wheel, the chain is operative as a pull chain whereby each of the interconnecting pins is displaced to the other extreme side of its eyelet. This and the other actions produce'substantial wear upon the chain links and the linkage pins. v
As chain 1 is directed as a push chain, in near proximity to the underside of the drive sprocket wheel 6, the chain passes beneath a heavy sheet metal shell or tunnel memher which forms a lubricating chamber 29. In passage through the lubricating chamber 29, the substantially flat face portion 7 of each of the individual links 5 is in weight contact with the bottom liner so that the chain passesthrough shell 27 at a fixed level. A nipple 33 is mounted in the top Wall of shell 27, and the end of lubricant supply tube 35 is clamped in the tube adjacent the top 9 of the chain 1. Tube 35 extends from a foam supply unit 37.
The foam supply unit 37 receives compressed air through a tube ill from a compressed air tank (not nipple 33 with the end of the w shown). The water and soap solution is received through a tube 43 from a supply tank 45 which is maintained under controlled pressure by compressed air. When the elevation of tank .5 is sufiicient to insure the desired pressure of liquid in tube 43, the use of compressed air or other additional pressure means may be omitted. Foam supply unit 3'7 has a casing 47 within which there is an electric timer 49, an electrical service connection 51, a pair of solenoid valves 53 and 55, and a foaming cylinder which is filled with small sized beads. The soap solution tube 43 is connected to valve 55 and thence through a tube 59, a manual needle valve 61, a check valve 63, and a line 65 to the bottom of cylinder 57. Air line 41 is connected through valve 5'3, a line er, a manual needle valve 68 a check valve '71 and lines 73 and as to the bottom of cylinder 57. During operation of the system timer 4) runs continuously and carries on a cycle during which it energizes the solenoids of valves 53 and 55 alternately, and for predetermined periods of time. This feeds predetermined quantities of the soap solution and air into the bottom of cylinder 57. However, only one of the solenoid valves is open at a time, and the timing is such that the desired quantities and proportions of air and soap solution are delivered to the bottom of cylinder 57. The foam supply tube is open at all times so that there is a constant upward flow of the liquid and air in cylinder 5'7. The presence of the beads causes the air to produce a very fine and uniformed foam which flows through tube 35 to shell 2'7. The end of the tube is flush against the top of the chain so that the foam deposited under pressure upon the upper side J of the chain and covers the link surfaces as well as penetrating into the interstices and to the linkage pins. Hence, the end of the tube cooperates with the conveyor chain to form a sliding valve relationship to control the discharge of the foam. The chain carries the foam throughout the entire length of the chain. The chain surface 9 carries the foam past the idler sprocket to the surfaces of the wear strip which surface s contacts and the chain rides on while carrying the load. The foam is carried away at a relatively constant rate, and the mechanism is so adjusted as to deliver the foam to shell 27 at a rate sun cient to maintain the desired coverage of the chain and the associated parts. The electric supply to unit 37 is turned off and on with the motor which operates the conveyor so that the timer starts operation Whenever the conveyor starts its operation so that the timer and the conveyor are always operated simultaneously.
Illustrative-1y, the timer operates on a live second cycle with air being supplied for four seconds and then the liquid being supplied for one second. However, timer may be adjusted to give a different length of time cycle and to give any desired relative time istribution between the, opening of the air and liquid valve. Needle valves 61 and 69 provide further adiustment to control the rate of flow through the liquid line and the air line. In the illustrative embodiment, the soap solution in tank is of the desired concentration for chain ll. Under some circumstances, chains of different types may be supplied from similar tanks of soap solution.
As hereinabove described, only the foam lubricant and not the actual soapy solution is applied to the chain 3 as in prior art practices. Due to the wasteful usage of the soapy solution in prior art practices, it was objectionably expensive to use antifreeze agents therein. Accordingly, and particularly in hard water areas, water minerals are deposited on the chain 1 which eventually impair the proper functioning of the conveyor system. Funr, since it has been impractical to add antifreeze agents, the convoy 1' system so lubricated could not be used out of doors in freezing weather as the soapy solution would freeze when the system is turned off resulting in damage to the chain It at start up. it is evident, however, that the conservative usage of the soapy solution in the system hereinabove described allows for the use of distilled water and/or antifreeze agents therein. I have found that a practical soapy solution for the practice of this invention to be a high quality coconut oil soap, for example, a product of Alex C. Ferguson Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to which is added from three to ten parts of distilled water. In the event that the conveyor system is to be exposed to freezing temperatures, an antifreeze agent is substituted for a portion of the distilled water; such solution will prevent freeze-up of the working parts of the conveyor system.
It is thus seen that the chain surfaces upon which the chain moves when the load is being carried are faced upwardly during the return run and the foam is applied to those surfaces. The quality and quantity of the foam are such as to insure proper lubrication. The utilization of these chain surfaces in cooperation with the parallel opening end of the tube to form the outlet valve for the foam insures that the foam is injected into the chain parts. This also insures that the desired amount of foam will be deposited evenly.
As many possible embodiments may be made in the above invention and as many changes might be made in the embodiments above set forth, it is to be understood that all matter hereinbefore set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in the limiting sense.
What is claimed is:
l. In a conveyor system, means for lubricating a chain or the like, comprising means constituting a supply of soap solution at elevated pressure, means constituting a supply of gas at elevated pressure, a foaming unit comprising a chamber, a timer, means to supply a stream of thesoap solution from said source to the lower portion of said foaming unit in accordance with a predetermined time cycle of said timer, means to supply gas from said source to the lower portion of said unit, and means to provide for the flow of foam from the upper portion of said foaming unit to said conveyor chain or the like and cooperating with said conveyor chain to form a sliding valve relationship to control the discharge of the foam.
2. A system as described in claim 1 wherein the conveyor chain has surfaces which face downwardly when carrying a load and the foam is delivered to said surfaces.
3. A system as described in claim 1 in which the timer is an electric timer and solenoid valve means are connected respectively'in lines supplying the gas and soap solution, said timer operating to open each of said valves for a predetermined period of time during each cycle.
4. A. system as described in claim 3 which includes check valves positioned respectively in series with said solenoid valves.
5. A system as described in claim 1 wherein said foaming unit comprises a vertical cylinder having an inlet open the bottom and a plurality of foam outlet openings at p the top.
to the lower portion of said foaming unit in accordance Y with a predetermined time cycle of said timer, means to supply gas from said source to the lower portion of said unit, said vertical passageway containing means to cause the gas and soap solution to form a line foam, means to provide for the flow of foam from the upper portion of said foaming unit to said conveyor chain, or the like, and means cooperating with said conveyor chain or the like to form a sliding valve relationship to control the discharge of the foam.
7. in a conveyor system, means for lubricating a chain or the like, comprising a conveyor chain, means constituta supply of soap solution at elevated pressure, means constituting a supply of compressed gas, a foaming unit comprising a chamber containing means for thoroughly mi2ing gas and liquid flowing therethrough, a timer, means to supply a stream of the soap solution from said source to the lower portion of said foaming unit in accordance with a predetermined timed cycie of said timer, means to supply gas from said source to the lower portion of said unit, and means to provide for the flow of foam from the upper portion of said foaming unit to said conveyor chain and providing an opening flush with 10 References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Peck Apr. 10, 1951 Southworth Nov. 10, 1953 Dixon et al. May 19, 1959 Osterman Mar. 6, 1962
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