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1. WO2020118210 - DECK PLATE EXTENSION WITH A KERNEL CHANNEL FOR A ROW UNIT OF AN AGRICULTURAL HARVESTER

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[ EN ]

DECK PLATE EXTENSION WITH A KERNEL CHANNEL FOR A ROW UNIT OF

AN AGRICULTURAL HARVESTER

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention pertains to an agricultural vehicle and, more specifically, to a row unit for an agricultural harvester.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] A com header of an agricultural harvester in the form of a combine is provided with row dividers for directing rows of com stalks to downstream separation devices known as row units. The row units include stalk receiving slots and stripping plates, snapping rolls, and opposed rearwardly moving gathering chains. Thus, e.g., following separation of ears from stalks by the snapping rolls and stripping plates (also known as stalk rolls and deck plates, respectively), the separated ears are delivered by the gathering chains to a conveying device, e.g., auger or draper belt, which conveys the harvested ears to a feeder housing of the combine. Harvested ears are then conveyed to the combine's inner sub-systems for downstream processing.

[0003] Row unit frames are typically constructed with forwardly projecting members that support several components of the row unit including the deck plates, the stalk roll support bearings, the front gathering chain idlers, the hoods and the row dividers. The deck plates are flat or planar with their shape being dictated by the geometry of the row unit frames. As is known, the stalk rolls are disposed beneath the deck plates and are

cooperatively rotated to pull the com stalks downwardly into the stalk receiving slots where the ears come into contact with the deck plates and are snapped off of the stalks by the deck plates. The deck plates he generally tangent to the upper surfaces of the stalk rolls and the stalk rolls engage the com stalks at“pinch points” situated below the upper surfaces of deck plates.

[0004] The deck plates are generally provided in pairs defining a gap therebetween, allowing the com stalks to enter the gap before being pulled down to the deck plates so the com ear snaps off the stalk. Many headers are equipped with flaps, known as“ear savers,” that are mounted to a rear of the row dividers to prevent collected ears from being lost after snapping off the stalk. While ear savers are generally effective to reduce crop loss during harvesting, crop loss still does occur for various reasons.

[0005] What is needed in the art is a row unit of an agricultural harvester that can reduce crop loss during harvesting.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] In one exemplary embodiment formed in accordance with the present disclosure, there is provided a row unit side for a row unit of an agricultural harvester. The row unit side includes a row unit support having a leading end and a trailing end relative to a direction of travel. An idler sprocket rotatably attaches to the row unit support near the lead end. A drive sprocket rotatably attaches to the row unit support near the trailing end. A gather chain includes a plurality of gather chain lugs. The idler sprocket and the drive sprocket are enmeshed with the gather chain. A deck plate includes a plate having a harvest side, a return side, a first end and a second end. The plate attaches to the row unit support and includes an idler notch being formed by the plate near the second end and forms a gap with the idler sprocket. A kernel channel is formed on at least a portion of the return side of the plate.

[0007] In another exemplary embodiment formed in accordance with the present disclosure, there is provided a deck plate extension for a row unit side of a row unit for an agricultural harvester. The row unit side includes a deck plate edge and an idler sprocket. The deck plate extension includes a plate having a first end, a second end, a first edge and a second edge. The plate has a length from the first end to the second end and a width traverse to the length. The plate is configured to attach near a deck plate edge of the row unit side. An idler notch is formed in the plate near the second end and forms a gap with the idler sprocket. A kernel channel is formed on at least a portion of the second edge of the plate. The kernel channel configured to guide a kernel from the plate to a deck plate of the row unit.

[0008] In yet another exemplary embodiment, there is shown a method for reducing kernel loss from a row unit return side on an agricultural harvester.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] The above-mentioned and other features and advantages of this invention, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and the invention will be better understood by reference to the following description of embodiments of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0010] Fig. 1 is a perspective view of a row unit known in the art;

[0011] Fig. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a row unit side;

[0012] Fig. 3 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a row unit side;

[0013] Fig. 4 is top view of a deck plate extension of the embodiment shown in Fig.

3;

[0014] Fig. 5 is a partial top of view of the embodiment shown in Fig. 2; and

[0015] Fig. 6 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a method of the present invention for reducing kernel loss.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0016] Referring now to the drawings, are more particularly to Fig. 1 there is shown a row unit 100 as is known in the art. Row unit 100 is generally orientated to operate in a direction of travel 101. The row unit 100 has a first side 100A and a second side 100B. The row unit sides 100A, 100B each have an idler sprocket 102 and a drive sprocket 104. The idler sprocket 102 and drive sprocket 104 are enmeshed together via a gather chain 106. The gather chain 106 includes a plurality of gather chain lugs 108. The plurality of gather chain lugs 108 are configured to collect a kernel crop, e.g., com, and direct the kernel crop to a conveying device 110, e.g., auger or draper belt, disposed at one end of the row unit 100. A harvest side plate 112 is included with each row unit side 100A, 100B and functions to

prevent the kernel crop, e.g., com, from falling to a ground surface as the gather chain lugs 108 direct the kernel crop to the conveying device 110, e.g., auger or draper belt. Each harvest side plate 112 has a harvest plate first edge 113 and a harvest plate second edge 114. The harvest plate second edge 113 of each row unit side 100 A, 100B form a harvesting channel 116 therebetween where the rows of crop, e.g., com, are directed through while the harvested crop, e.g., ears of com and/or kernel crop, travel along a top surface of the harvest side plate 112 to the conveying device 110. A gap 118 is formed between the harvest plate first edge 113 of a row unit side 100A and a row unit side 100B of an adjacent row unit 100. The gap 118 is open to the ground and allows any harvested crop not on the harvest side plate 112 to fall to the ground. The harvested crop falling on the ground represents lost revenues.

[0017] Referring now to the drawings, are more particularly to Fig. 2 there is shown a row unit side 100A of row unit 100. It is to be understood that row unit side 100A and row unit side 100B, shown in Fig. 1, together form the row unit 100 where row unit side 100B is symmetrical to row unit 100A about the harvesting channel 116. The row unit side 100A includes an idler sprocket 102 and a drive sprocket 104. The idler sprocket 102 and drive sprocket 104 are enmeshed together via a gather chain 106. The gather chain 106 includes a plurality of gather chain lugs 108. The plurality of gather chain lugs 108 are configured to collect a kernel crop, e.g., com, and direct the kernel crop to a conveying device 110, e.g., auger or draper belt, disposed at one end of the row unit side 100A. The row unit side 100 A further includes a deck plate 120 with a harvest side 122 and a return side 124. The return side 124 covers a portion of the gap 118 thereby providing a surface to prevent the harvested crop from falling to the ground. The return side 124 of the present row unit side 100 A may be in contact or sufficiently close to contact with a return side 124 of a row unit side 100B of an adjacent row unit 100 thereby providing that the gap 118 is completely covered or sufficiently covered. The deck plate 120 may be a single plate or of multiple plates. The deck plate 120 has a first end 126 and a second end 128 where the first end 126 is disposed at the end of the row unit 100 closest to the conveying device 110. A kernel channel 130 is disposed on an edge of the return side of the deck plate 120. The kernel channel 130 may be formed integral to or attached to the deck plate 120. Examples of being formed integral include but are not limited to: a stamping with a rolled edge, a forging with a raised edge, a casting with a raised edge or a machined surface with a raised edge. Methods of attachment include but are not limited to, welding, the use of fasteners or press fit. The kernel channel 130 may be formed of the same or different material of the deck plate 120. A plurality of attachment

holes 132 through the deck plate 120 may be used to attach the deck plate 120 to the row unit 100 with fasteners (not shown). The deck plate 120 may be permanently attached to the row unit 100 via a method such as welding.

[0018] The row unit side 100A may be configured to operate in a way that a rotation of the drive sprocket 104 causes the gather chain 106 and gather chain lugs 108 to move around the deck plate 120 from the second end 128 to the first end 126 along the harvest side 122. Movement of the gather chain lugs 108 moves most of the kernel crop along the harvest side 122 until it reaches the conveying device 110. Kernel crop may also land on the return side 124 of the deck plate 120. Any kernel crop on the return side 124 of the deck plate 120 is forced to move from the first end 126 towards the second end 128 by the gather chain lugs 108. The kernel channel 130 prevents the kernel crop from falling off of the edge of the deck plate 120 and directs the kernel crop to collect at the second end 128 of the deck plate 120. Additional kernel crop being moved by the gather chain lugs 108 on the return side 124 of the deck plate 120 may force the kernel crop already collected at the second end 128 of the deck plate 120 to move from the return side 124 to the harvest side 122. The idler sprocket 102 may be provided with a plurality of idler sprocket propellers 144 (Fig. 5). The idler sprocket propellers 144 are configured to move the kernel crop from the return side 124 to the harvest side 122 with or without additional kernel crop being moved along the return side 124.

[0019] Referring now to Fig. 3 there is shown a row unit side 200a. It is to be understood that row unit side 200a and a row unit side 200b together form the row unit 200 where row unit side 200b is symmetrical to row unit 200a about the harvesting channel 216. The row unit side 200a includes an idler sprocket 202 and a drive sprocket 204. The idler sprocket 202 and drive sprocket 204 are enmeshed via a gather chain 206. The gather chain 206 includes a plurality of gather chain lugs 208. The gather chain lugs 208 are configured to collect a kernel crop, i.e. com, and direct the kernel crop to an auger trough 210 disposed at one end of the row unit side 200a. The row unit side 200a further includes a deck plate 220 with a harvest side 222 and a return side 224. The deck plate 220 has a first end 226 and a second end 228 where the first end 226 is disposed at the end of the row unit 220 closest to the auger trough 210. A kernel channel 230 is disposed on an edge of the return side of the deck plate 220. The kernel channel 230 may be formed integral to or attached to the deck plate 220. Examples of being formed integral include but are not limited to: a stamping with a rolled edge, a forging with a raised edge, a casting with a raised edge or a machined surface with a raised edge. Methods of attachment include but are not limited to: welding, the use of fasteners or press fit. The kernel channel 230 may be formed of the same or different material of the deck plate 220. The deck plate 220 may be removably attached to the to the row unit side 200a with fasteners (not shown) through a plurality of attachment holes 232 or the deck plate 220 may be permanently attached via a method such as welding. The deck plate 220 is formed by two plates, a harvest side plate 212 and a deck plate extension 240. The deck plate extension 240 may be added to the row unit side 200a as original equipment or the deck plate extension 240 may be added as an aftermarket part to an existing row unit side 200a. The harvest side plate 212 includes a harvest plate first edge 213 that may align or overlap with a deck plate extension first edge 248 when the harvest side plate 212 and the deck plate extension 240 are installed. The deck plate extension 240 may be further provided to have a width that is wider than a width of the harvest side plate 212. The deck plate extension 240 of the present row unit side 200a may be in contact or sufficiently close to contact with a deck plate extension 240 of a row unit side 200b of an adjacent row unit 200 thereby providing that the gap 218 is completely covered or sufficiently covered.

[0020] Referring now to Fig. 4, there is shown a deck plate extension 240 having a kernel channel 230 formed on a deck plate extension second edge 250. The kernel channel 230 may be formed integral or may be attached to the deck plate extension second edge 250. Examples of being formed integral include but are not limited to: a stamping with a rolled edge, a forging with a raised edge, a casting with a raised edge or a machined surface with a raised edge. Methods of attachment include but are not limited to: welding, use of fasteners or press fit. The kernel channel 230 may be formed of the same or different material of the deck plate extension 240. The kernel channel 230 may be configured to extend over a portion of the harvest side plate 212. An idler sprocket notch 242 may be formed near a deck plate extension second end 252 to provide clearance for an idler sprocket 202.

[0021] Referring now to Fig. 5, there is shown a second end 128 of the row unit side

100A with an idler sprocket 102. The idler sprocket 102 is shown with a plurality of idler sprocket propellers 144 attached to the idler sprocket 102 between a top surface of the deck plate 120 and a bottom surface (not shown) of the idler sprocket 102. The plurality of idler sprocket propellers 144 are configured to push the kernel crop from the return side to the harvest side while being guided by the kernel channel 130.

[0022] Shown in Fig. 6, a method 500 for reducing kernel loss from a row unit return side on an agricultural harvester. The method generally includes the steps of providing a row unit having a harvest side and a return side, the row unit including an idler sprocket, a drive sprocket, a gather chain having a plurality of gather chain lugs, and a deck plate on the harvest side (step 510). Providing a deck plate extension having a first end and a second end, the deck plate extension being configured to attach to the return side of the row unit, an idler notch being formed in the deck plate extension near the second end, a kernel channel formed on at least a portion of the deck plate extension (step 520). Attaching the deck plate extension to the return side of the row unit forming essentially no gap between the deck plate and the deck plate extension (step 530).

[0023] While this invention has been described with respect to at least one embodiment, the present invention can be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains and which fall within the limits of the appended claims.