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WEED EXTRACTION APPARATUS
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
This is a continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 07/939,018 filed on Sep. 2, 1992, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,261,496.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention 10 This invention pertains generally to weed extraction
devices, and more particularly to a device for rotary removal of weeds without entanglement.
2. Description of the Background Art
Weed removal from plant beds, lawns, and other 15 vegetated areas can be a tedious task. To ease the removal of weeds, a number of devices have been developed which include forks, tines or cutters which can be forced into the soil surrounding the weed and operated to either extract or cut the weed. When weeds are cut, 20 however, the root system remains and the weed will grow back over a period of time. Therefore, rotary extraction is preferred since the root can be removed intact.
Rotary extraction devices heretofore developed suf- 25 fer from various disadvantages, most notably that the extracted weed becomes entangled in the device and ejection of the weed from the extraction head is difficult. As a result, the user must unwrap or cut the weed in order to remove it from the device. Therefore, a need 30 exists for a rotary weed extraction tool which can effectively remove the weed and its roots, while at the same time providing for ease of ejection of the weed and minimizing entanglement.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention overcomes the deficiencies in existing rotary weed extraction devices by employing a configuration and structure which provides for ease of weed ejectment and minimal entanglement of the weed 40 with the device.
By way of example and not of limitation, the present invention generally comprises an elongated cylindrical housing of either uniform diameter or, preferably, having a taper toward the weed extraction end. The weed 45 extraction end of the housing is covered with a cap having a plurality of openings therein. A weed extraction head having several long, pointed rods, which extend through the openings in the cap is coupled to one end of a shaft which slides within the housing. The 50 number of rods used can vary depending upon the type of weed to be extracted.
In an alternative embodiment of the invention, the weed extraction head includes a plurality of tapered prongs separated by a V-shaped notch. In this embodi- 55 ment, the extraction head would have two, four, or six prongs depending upon the type of weed to be extracted. In operation, the prongs are positioned so that the root of the weed will fit within the V-shaped notch and are subsequently pushed into the soil, and the 60 ratchet is turned as before. Because the V-shaped notch will automatically accommodate different sizes of roots, positive engagement of the root will occur regardless of the size of the weed.
By sliding the shaft in and out of the housing, the rods 65 or prongs can be withdrawn into the housing or extended outward. The other end of the shaft includes a receptacle for coupling to a standard manual wrench
ratchet handle, motorized ratchet handle, electric drill, power-take-off of a tractor, or the like.
In hand operation, the rods or prongs are placed over the root of the weed at ground level and pushed into the soil, and the ratchet is turned to impart a twisting motion to the extraction head. The extraction head engages the root of the weed, and effectively twists the root and weed out of the soil. Removal of the root with the twisting motion is a distinct advantage over other tools because no digging is required and a minimal amount of dirt is removed. Motorized operation is substantially the same.
For large weeds or vines, the vegetation might wrap around the extraction head and housing when the ratchet is turned. By sliding the shaft out of the housing, the extraction head will retract and the weed will easily slide "off. Similarly, because the housing is tapered, only slight effort is required to slide the vegetation off of the housing.
An object of the invention is to provide for rotary extraction of weeds.
Another object of the invention is to extract weeds with minimal removal of soil.
Another object of the invention is to remove a weed and its root system.
Another object of the invention is to provide for easy ejection of a removed weed.
Another object of the invention is to minimize entanglement of a weed during removal.
Another object of the invention is to provide interchangeable extraction heads to accommodate various types of weeds.
Another object of the invention is to provide an extraction head that accommodates various sizes of roots.
Further objects and advantages of the invention will be brought out in the following portions of the specification, wherein the detailed description is for the purpose of fully disclosing preferred embodiments of the invention without placing limitations thereon.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention will be more fully understood by reference to the following drawings which are for illustrative purposes only:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the apparatus of the present invention.
FIG. 2A through 2D present an exploded view of the apparatus of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 shows the upper portion of the apparatus of FIG. 1 in context of attachment to a ratchet shown in phantom.
FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic view of the apparatus of FIG. 1 positioned for extraction of a weed shown in phantom.
FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic view of the lower end of the apparatus of FIG. 1 extracting a weed shown in phantom.
FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic view of the lower end of the apparatus of FIG. 1 ejecting an extracted weed shown in phantom.
FIG. 7 is an exploded view of a portion of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1 employing an extraction head having four prongs separated by a V-shaped notch.
FIG. 8 is an assembled view of portion of the apparatus shown in FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a two-prong extraction head in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a four-prong extraction head in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a six-prong extraction head in accordance with the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED 5
Referring more specifically to the drawings, for illustrative purposes the present invention is embodied in the apparatus generally shown in FIG. 1, FIG. 2A 10 through FIG. 2D, and FIG. 7 through FIG. 11. It will be appreciated that the apparatus may vary as to configuration and as to details of the parts without departing from the basic concepts as disclosed herein.
Referring to FIG. 1 and FIG. 2A through 2D, the 15 present invention provides a weed extraction device 10 which includes a plurality of spaced-apart rods 12 for insertion into the soil and the area surrounding root of a weed or other vegetation to be removed. Rods 12 are preferably slender, cylindrical, rigid, and elongated 20 rods with sharp points at their proximal ends. The distal ends of rods 12 are attached to a cylindrical-shaped coupling 14 to form a weed extraction head. For removal of vegetation in lawn areas, it is preferred that one rod be placed in the center of the coupling with 25 four rods radially disposed around the center rod. For removal of vegetation in areas with rocks, it is preferred that the rods be positioned in a straight line for a forklike configuration. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that other placement patterns can be employed. 30
A shaft 16 is attached to coupling 14 by insertion into an opening 18 which is coaxially positioned in coupling 14 and which frictionally engages shaft 16. Alternatively, shaft 16 could be welded, glued, integrally joined to, or otherwise attached to coupling 14. In order to 35 make the extraction head replaceable or interchangeable with other extraction heads, shaft 18 could be alternatively be coupled to coupling 14 by means of a set screw or the like extending through coupling 14 and into opening 18 to engage shaft 16. Shaft 16 is coaxially 40 positioned within a hollow guide tube 20. Guide tube 20 has an inner diameter approximately equalling the outer diameter of coupling 14. Bushings 22, 24 which have diameters equalling that of coupling 14 are threaded onto shaft 16 to serve as spacers between shaft 16 and 45 guide tube 20. In this manner, shaft 16 will slide within guide tube 20.
Covering the proximal end of guide tube 20 is a cap 26 having a plurality of holes 28 through which rods 12 extend. Cap 26 serves to guide and stabilize rods 12, as 50 well as to prevent the travel of coupling 14 beyond the proximal end of guide tube 20.
While shown as having a square shape, shaft 16 could be cylindrical, rectangular, flattened or the like without departing from the concepts disclosed herein. Similarly, 55 while guide tube 20 and bushings 22, 24 are shown as being cylindrically-shaped, they could be square, rectangular, or flattened or the like.
Although the apparatus will function adequately with shaft 16 sliding within guide tube 20 as described above, 60 in the preferred embodiment guide tube 20 is coaxially positioned within a conically-shaped hollow sleeve 30. The proximal ends of guide tube 20 and sleeve 30 are aligned to terminate at substantially the same point, and cap 26 covers the proximal end of sleeve 30 as well as 65 the proximal end of guide tube 20. Sleeve 30 tapers from its distal end toward its proximal until it reaches a point at which the diameter of sleeve 30 becomes substan
tially uniform to form a tip 32 which mates with receptacle 34 in cap 26.
Located at the distal end of sleeve 30 is a plug 36 through which a hole 38 coaxially extends. Plug 36 is threaded over guide tube 20 and inserted into a receptacle 40 located in the distal end of sleeve 30. By fabricating plug 36 from a resilient material such as rubber or the like, plug 36 can be press fitted into receptacle 40 which will cause plug 36 to compress and frictional engage guide sleeve 20 to hold it in position. Alternatively, plug 36 could be welded, glued or otherwise attached to sleeve 30 and guide tube 20 to join them in a fixed position.
Positioned over the distal end of guide tube 20 is a cap 42 having a coaxially disposed hole 44 through which shaft 16 extends. Positioned over shaft 16 on each side of cap-42 are collars 46, 48 which are fixed in place by set screws 50, 52, respectively, or other means of attachment. When shaft 16 slides out of guide tube 20, collar 46 will limit its travel by engaging the inner surface of cap 42. Collar 46 is therefore adjusted to limit the amount of retraction of rods 12 relative to the proximal end of guide sleeve 20. When shaft 16 slides into guide tube 20, collar 48 will limit its travel by engaging the outer surface of cap 42. Collar 48 is therefore adjusted to limit the amount of extension of rods 12 relative to the proximal end of guide sleeve 20. Referring also to FIG. 3, a receptacle 54 is placed in the distal end of shaft 16 so that shaft 16 is configured and structured for coupling to a standard manual ratchet wrench handle 56. Alternatively, shaft 16 could be adapted for coupling to an electric drill, a motorized ratchet handle, the powertake-off of a tractor, or the like.
The components described herein can be fabricated from lightweight, rigid materials such as high impact plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, or the like. Preferably, rods 12, coupling 14, and cap 22 are fabricated from corrosion resistant materials since they will be exposed to water and soil acids.
Referring now to FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, in a typical application the user positions the apparatus over the central portion of a weed 58 and extends rods 12 into the weed and surrounding soil. Guide tube 20 is then grasped with one hand and ratchet 56 rotated with the other hand. Rotation is continued until the weed and, most importantly, its root wraps around rods 12 and is removed from the soil. Referring also to FIG. 6, to eject the weed from the apparatus the user slides shaft 16 toward the distal end of guide tube 20 thereby causing rods 12 to retract and the weed 58 to fall off. In the event that large vegetation is removed and in the removal process the vegetation wraps around sleeve 30, the user can easily slide the weed off of the apparatus due to the taper extending toward its proximal end.
Referring now to FIG. 7 and FIG. 8, in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the invention, the extraction head portion of the apparatus generally comprises an assembly 60 of tapered prongs 62 joined to coupling 14. So as to make the extraction head removable or interchangeable with other extraction heads, a set screw 64 threadably engages an opening 66 which extends through coupling 14 and into opening 18 to engage shaft 16. Alternatively, shaft 16 could be welded, glued, integrally joined to, frictionally coupled to, or otherwise attached to coupling 14. One or more slots 68 are provided so that prong assembly 60 can be extended through cap 26.