Keeping your cotton picker functioning at peak performance during harvest is vital. This includes lubrication of spindles.

The present invention provides a spindle for a cotton picker with a cone-shaped toothed picking end coated with a thin coat of ceramic material. The ceramic coating gives a very smooth and hard surface that does not require finishing but wears longer than conventional picker spindle surfaces in sandy conditions.

The Spindle Head

Essentially, two types of machines harvest cotton: strippers and pickers. Pickers have spindles that rotate to pull the cotton from the plant, whereas strippers use a barbed metal that scrapes the fiber from the main stem of the cotton plant. A cotton picker is usually a large machine with multiple rows of cylinders and a central chamber that holds the hopper.

The rotary drum of the picker carries many free-end picking spindles. These are usually conical in shape, with the free end of each being barbed or roughened to provide a stronger bond for the cotton. The spindles are driven by electric motors and are mounted in a housing. A flexible tube feeder connects Each work spindle to a supply system, namely a power and flushing feed line. An electric motor controls the feed lines to adjust the angular position of each work spindle within the forks and fix the set positions sufficiently securely.

They can be coated with a thin layer of hard-wear material to avoid abrasions and extend the spindles' life. The abrasion-resistant coating can be made of silica chrome alumina oxide or similar materials.

During harvest, the spindles need to be properly lubricated. This helps the spindles operate at peak performance, plucking cotton from bolls instead of pulling or tearing it. This results in a faster gin time and higher quality cotton.

In the present invention, a cotton picker spindle is provided with a ceramic wear coating that substantially extends over all of the spindle's picking end. The ceramic coating has a hardness that exceeds the hardness of sand and is substantially non-porous. This enables the coating to resist abrasion and corrosion for a very long period of time. In addition, the ceramic coating causes the upper flat portions of the spindle barbs to become slightly rounded, which reduces friction between the cotton and the spindle and enhances doffing or wiping.

Several problems can shorten the life of a cotton picker spindle. Worn thrust flanges prevent the spindle gears from meshing correctly with the drive gear, which can lead to premature drive gear wear. Another problem is the presence of frozen or corroded bearings that can cause the spindle shaft to wobble and damage the gears. Finally, a worn thrust bushing can cause the spindle shaft to contact the side of the rotor, which accelerates its wear.

The Guide Fingers

A cotton picker spindle is an elongated, cone-shaped metal body that is rotated to remove seeds from the bolls of the plant. They are often coated with hard chrome plating to resist a cotton harvester's harsh, sandy environment. The abrasive nature of the cotton picker field causes rapid wear on spindles and leads to frequent replacement. Replacing spindles is time-consuming and costly, which in turn slows down harvesting efficiency. Understanding how a cotton picker spindle works and why regular maintenance is essential can help you avoid costly downtime.

The present invention improves the useful life of cotton picker spindles by coating them with a ceramic material. The ceramic is fabricated from silica chrome alumina oxide and covers substantially the entire picking end of the spindle. This results in a smooth, extremely hard surface that requires no finishing and will retain its hardness far longer than conventional picking spindles used in sandy conditions.

Compared to uncoated spinning, the ceramic coating increases the spindle's hardness by at least an order of magnitude and improves its ability to withstand the stress of high rotational speeds. The ceramic also reduces friction between the spinning end and the surrounding surfaces of the spindle and increases the effective radius of rotation.

A cotton picker spindle must have a large effective radius of rotation. This ensures that the cotton can pass easily around the spinning end and avoids the risk of the spinning end causing an unwanted jam or abrasion. A spindle with a small effective radius will be less effective at moving cotton through the machine and may cause premature wear or even damage to other machines.

In general, spindle wear occurs most rapidly at heights where more cotton is picked and where soil splashes on the cotton before picking. This tends to make the bottom one-half to two-thirds of the spindles in the bar wear faster than other height zones. The present invention addresses this problem by providing a ceramic coating that reduces the amount of force exerted on the bottom spindles in a bar.

The Needle Teeth

Spindles are machine tools that rotate on access, and they are present in a variety of machinery, such as wood lathes, milling equipment, and drill presses. However, they are especially important for a cotton picker. When they are properly lubricated, they operate at peak performance, plucking cotton from bolls rather than pulling or tearing it. This results in a higher quality grading of the cotton, which is more profitable to the farmer.

The invention's elongated, conical picker spindle 10 has a cone-shaped picking end 12 and a cylindrical journal portion 14 adapted to be rotated within a bushing supported on a vertical picker bar. The entire picker spindle is coated with a thin layer of ceramic material, preferably silica chrome alumina oxide, on both sides. This provides a very hard surface that can withstand the harsh environment in which it operates for much longer than conventional picker spindles. In addition, the ceramic coating is substantially harder than sand and does not wear off as readily.

Typically, the cone-shaped picking end has teeth or barbs 28 that are undercut at locations 38 for aggressive engagement with cotton fibers. In the preferred embodiment, the teeth or barbs are coated with a ceramic treatment, such as the K-ramic process available from Kaman Sciences Corporation of Colorado Springs, Colo. This provides a very hard and smooth surface that can be polished to a smooth finish, increasing the spindle’s lifespan.

A scuff or scratch on the surface of the picker spindle can reduce its useful life and increase the risk of failure, so it is important to keep up with regular maintenance on your harvester. This includes cleaning, identifying, and replacing worn or damaged spindles. It is important to replace the proper left or right-hand spindles, to ensure that they will rotate in the correct direction when screwed into the picker bar.

In addition, the spindles should be lubricated regularly to ensure that they are working properly during harvest. This will help avoid any problems during the harvesting process and allow you to get your cotton from the field to the gin as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The Gears

The rotary action of the spindles pulls cotton from the plant. This is a bit different than how a stripper works, which just strips the fibers off the main stem. On the other hand, a picker pulls the cotton off the boll itself, making it much cleaner.

The spindles are guided into a position for contact with the bolls by the grid bars in front of the machine. When the boll is positioned, multiple spindles turn at high speed to snatch the cotton from inside the boll. The resulting cotton is then wrapped around the spindle and transported back through the grid bar system.

Each spindle has a gear that meshes with the drive gear to rotate the gear wheel. A problem can occur in the operation of the picker when these gears are allowed to wear out. A worn thrust flange can prevent the gear wheels from being properly meshed, and, as a result, the drive gears will not be able to rotate at their proper speed.

One solution to this problem is to supply the entire row unit with lubricating grease at regular intervals. However, this is expensive and time-consuming to accomplish. The invention provides an alternative to this problem that reduces or eliminates the need for a maintenance vehicle equipped with grease applicators to periodically meet the row unit in the field and reapply the grease.

The lubrication apparatus is comprised of a vertical series of substantially identical, individual moistening pads equal in number to the number of picker spindles, which means attaching each pad to said support standard and defining a passageway for allowing moisture to pass to the pad. The pads each define a top opening, a spindle-wiping face disposed beneath the opening against which a picker spindle passes while moving along a predetermined path. The pad also defines a fluid-distributing channel opening to the spindle wiping face and configured so that more moistening fluid is applied toward the inner end of the spindle than is applied toward its distal end.