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United States Patent Application 20180077868
Kind Code A1
HONEY; Gregory ;   et al. March 22, 2018

HARVESTING CAM REEL WITH CONVERTIBLE TRANSPORT MODE

Abstract

A cam reel for use on a harvesting header that can be configured in both operating and transport positions is provided. The reel comprises a plurality of finger-bearing reel bats disposed evenly around the reel shaft, each rotatably attached through the distal ends of radial arms extending outwardly from the reel shaft. A cam disc is attached to the frame and engages each reel bat by a cam follower, to provide rotational movement of the reel bats relative to the radial arms, during rotation of the shaft in the operating position. The cam has at least one operating position, and a transport position in which the engaged reel bats will be pivoted into transport mode that substantially reduces the risk of damage to the fingers.


Inventors: HONEY; Gregory; (Bracken, CA) ; HONEY; Glenn; (Bracken, CA)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

HONEY BEE MANUFACTURING LTD.

Frontier

CA
Family ID: 1000003019713
Appl. No.: 15/719062
Filed: September 28, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
14284346May 21, 20149807935
15719062

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A01D 57/02 20130101; A01D 57/20 20130101; A01D 34/01 20130101; A01D 57/03 20130101
International Class: A01D 57/02 20060101 A01D057/02; A01D 57/20 20060101 A01D057/20; A01D 34/01 20060101 A01D034/01; A01D 57/03 20060101 A01D057/03

Foreign Application Data

DateCodeApplication Number
Mar 26, 2014CA2847456

Claims



1. A crop harvesting header for the harvesting of crop material, said crop harvesting header comprising: a. a frame for movement in a travel direction across a crop field, said frame having two reel ends defining the cutting width of the header; b. a transverse conveyor deck extending between the reel ends of the frame, the conveyor deck carrying a conveyor system which will move cut crop material along the conveyor deck to a header discharge; c. a cutter bar along the forward edge of the conveyor deck, which will cut crop material engaged by the header moving under power through the crop; and d. a reel for moving crop material into the cutter bar and onto the conveyor deck, wherein the reel comprises: i. a reel shaft having a first end and a second end and a reel axis, rotatably mounted to and between the reel ends of the frame; ii. rotational power source connected to the reel shaft to rotate the reel; iii. a plurality of reel bats each of which has a plurality of crop fingers attached thereon extending generally radially outwardly from the reel shaft, the reel bats being mounted in spaced apart positions around the circumference of the reel shaft; iv. a plurality of radial arms extending outward from the reel shaft corresponding to each reel bat, each reel bat being rotatably attached at the distal ends of the corresponding radial arms such that the reel bat can rotate freely around a bat axis extending through the distal ends of the radial arms; v. a cam mounted on the frame perpendicular to the reel axis near the first end of the reel shaft; vi. a cam follower corresponding to each reel bat which is pivotally attached at one end to the reel bat and at a second end engages the cam so that it can follow the cam and exert rotational force on the reel bat to pivot the reel bat around the bat axis as the reel is rotated; wherein the cam has at least one operating position in which it can be selectably positioned, wherein upon positioning of the cam in the at least one operating position the resultant positioning of the cam followers and the reel bats will extend the fingers generally radially outwardly from the reel shaft so that the fingers will be positioned to engage the crop material; and wherein the cam is further positionable in a transport position, wherein upon positioning of the cam in the transport position the resultant positioning of the cam followers and reel bats will rotate the fingers such that the fingers are substantially protected from damage during transport of the header.

2. The crop harvesting header of claim 1 wherein the number of operating positions is one.

3. The crop harvesting header of claim 1 wherein the number of operating positions is more than one.

4. The crop harvesting header of claim 1 wherein the cam comprises a cam disc rotatably mounted to the frame around the first end of the reel shaft, and a lock to lock the cam in the selected operating or transport position.

5. The crop harvesting header of claim 1 further comprising: a. a second cam mounted on the frame perpendicular to the reel axis near the second end of the reel shaft; and b. a second cam follower corresponding to each reel bat which is pivotally attached at one end to the reel bat and at a second end engages the second cam so that it can follow the second cam and exert rotational force on the reel bat to pivot the reel bat around the bat axis as the reel is rotated; wherein the second cam mirrors in shape and mounting at the second end the shape and mounting of the cam mounted at the first end, to avoid excessive torsional force on the reel bats as the reel is rotated; wherein the second cam has at least one operating position in which it can be selectably positioned, wherein upon positioning of the second cam in the at least one operating position the resultant positioning of the second cam followers and the reel bats will extend the fingers generally radially outwardly from the reel shaft so that the fingers will be positioned to engage the crop material; and wherein the second cam is further positionable in a transport position, wherein upon positioning of the second cam in the transport position the resultant positioning of the second cam followers and reel bats will rotate the fingers such that the fingers are substantially protected from damage during transport of the header.

6. The crop harvesting header of claim 5 wherein the number of operating positions is one.

7. The crop harvesting header of claim 5 wherein the number of operating positions is more than one.

8. The crop harvesting header of claim 5 wherein the second cam comprises a second cam disc rotatably mounted to the frame around the second end of the reel shaft, and a second cam lock to lock the second cam in the selected operating or transport position.

9. The crop harvesting header of claim 4 wherein the at least one operating position and transport position of the cam are indicated by a plurality of lock-engaging holes extending through the cam disc, and the lock comprises a locking pin that can be extended through a lock-engaging hole in the cam disc to a locking hole in the frame.

10. The crop harvesting header of claim 8 wherein the at least one operating position and transport position of the second cam are indicated by a plurality of lock-engaging holes extending through the second cam disc, and the second cam lock comprises a locking pin which can be extended through a lock-engaging hole in the cam disc to a locking hole in the frame.

11. The crop harvesting header of claim 1 wherein when the cam is in the transport position, the fingers of the reel bats are generally retracted into position along a path defined by the distal ends of the radial arms.

12. The crop-harvesting header of claim 1, further comprising a reel lock, effective to prevent rotation of the reel during transport.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a Continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/284,346 filed on May 21, 2014. This application also claims the foreign priority benefit of Canadian Patent Application Serial No. 2,847,456 filed on Mar. 26, 2014. The entire contents of the aforementioned applications are incorporated by reference herein.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] This invention is in the field of harvesting equipment, and in particular for rotary reels on crop material harvesting or cutting headers and the drive systems used therefore.

BACKGROUND

[0003] It is known in the field of crop harvesting equipment to employ harvesting headers to cut crops for various purposes, such as feeding a combine harvester or swathing crop material.

[0004] At the front of a combine or swather is the portion referred to as the header. A typical header is equipped with a cutter bar, and a conveyor deck or surface behind the cutter bar onto which cut crop material will fall, and a rear wall of the header, which extends up from the rear of the crop catching surface.

[0005] The reel in a harvesting header is typically designed to be approximately the same width as the header. The reel shaft is mounted between two rotational mounts at either end thereof, with a power drive attached to rotate the reel shaft. There is then a plurality of reel bats with fingers that are equally spaced about the reel shaft, and held in position by a plurality of radially extending arms out from the shaft. Rotation of the reel shaft results in the rotation of the reel bats and fingers through the crop in front of the header, drawing the crop material into the cutter bar and the remainder of the device.

[0006] Harvesting headers now manufactured with fingers attached to the reel bats typically have the reel bats themselves rotatably mounted in relation to their attachment points, and include a cam mechanism that by selective or guided rotation of the reel bat during the rotation of the overall reel, allows the tips of the fingers to follow a more complex path, into, through and out of the crop material as the reel turns. The cams are of different shapes including circular or otherwise, dependent upon the path of travel that is desired for the fingers. Example of prior art patents in the area of the use of cam mechanisms to orient or adjust the orientation of the fingers on reel bats during the rotation of a harvesting header reel include U.S. Pat. No. 4,008,558 (Mott) and U.S. Pat. No. 5,768,870 (Talbot et al.).

[0007] Often the header or reel is transported by loading the header onto a transport trailer or other platform designed to orient the header lengthwise so it can be trailered in the direction of travel of a power unit such as a tractor or a truck. The size of many headers and their associated reel is such that there are many protruding parts, particularly the fingers along the top and crop facing face of the reel. These fingers are often made of plastic or other shearable material, which allows for simpler maintenance of the reel.

[0008] The design of prior art reels is such that the fingers, particularly those facing the crop entry and cutting area, are oriented in a fully outstretched or radial direction as they need to be in order to provide maximum engagement with crop material. However, this creates a problem during transport of the header since extended fingers are more susceptible to damage and breakage due to be exposed. As a result, many times following transport the first task that must be undertaken before the header can be used again is to replace any broken or bent fingers as a result of the transport. The same issue of protruding components exists in circumstances where the header and associated reel are transported in operating position on the harvesting unit.

[0009] Accordingly, a harvesting header reel that minimized the protruding profile of the bat fingers during transport would be desirable as a means of minimizing damage.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] The present disclosure is generally directed to the concept of a cam reel that has a operating mode and a convertible transport mode, whereby the reel bats can be moved to a position such that protrusion of fingers, and the risk of damage to the same, will be minimized when in the transport mode.

[0011] The key differentiator of the present disclosure from prior art harvesting header and cam reel combinations in the prior art is in the cam system that is used. The crop-harvesting header as disclosed herein includes a reel for moving crop material into the cutter bar and onto the conveyor deck. The reel includes a reel shaft that has a first end and a second end and a reel axis. The reel shaft is rotatably mounted to and between the reel ends of the frame, and also has a rotational power source connected thereto for the purpose of rotation of the reel shaft in operation of the header. When rotational power is applied to the reel shaft during operation of the header, the reel rotates around the reel axis defined by the shaft to provide the sweeping action necessary to engage the crop being harvested.

[0012] The reel will also include a plurality of reel bats that are mounted in spaced apart positions around the circumference of the reel shaft. Each reel bat comprises a bat member with a bat axis, and a plurality of crop fingers attached thereto and extending generally radially outwardly from the reel shaft. The crop fingers will engage the crop material as the header and the reel on the front of the header are moved through a standing crop.

[0013] The reel bats as outlined are attached in spaced apart positions around the circumference of the reel shaft. It is specifically contemplated that each reel bat is attached by, and corresponds to, a plurality of radial arms extending outwardly from the reel shaft. These radial arms that attach the reel bats in a typical cam reel design are sometimes interchangeably referred to as "spiders" in the prior art as well. It is specifically contemplated that at least two radial arms would be required for the mounting of each reel bat to the reel shaft, one of each pair of such at least two radial arms being in proximity to each end of the reel shaft and the bat member. For increased rigidity or stability in the construction of the remainder of the reel however, any number of radial arms could be used to attach each reel bat. The radial arms for all of the reel bats would be generally the same length as well of the bat arms for each reel bat, and the reel ends of the radial arms would define when viewed from the side a circular bat path through which the radial arms would move during rotation of the reel shaft.

[0014] The invention also provides that the cam assembly is adjustable between one or more operating positions, and a transport position. When in the transport position, the cam will be rotated such that the cam followers rotate the bats and fingers so that fingers, especially those at the front of the header and which are most susceptible to damage, will be rotated generally inwards, protecting them from damage and/or contact with persons or structures as can occur in prior art systems.

[0015] Thus, in some embodiments, the present disclosure provides a crop harvesting header for the harvesting of crop material, said crop harvesting header comprising: a frame for movement in a travel direction across a crop field, said frame having two reel ends defining the cutting width of the header; a transverse conveyor deck extending between the reel ends of the frame, the conveyor deck carrying a conveyor system which will move cut crop material along the conveyor deck to a header discharge; a cutter bar along the forward edge of the conveyor deck, which will cut crop material engaged by the header moving under power through the crop; and a reel for moving crop material into the cutter bar and onto the conveyor deck, wherein the reel comprises: a reel shaft having a first end and a second end and a reel axis, rotatably mounted to and between the reel ends of the frame; rotational power source connected to the reel shaft to rotate the reel; a plurality of reel bats each of which has a plurality of crop fingers attached thereon extending generally radially outwardly from the reel shaft, the reel bats being mounted in spaced apart positions around the circumference of the reel shaft; a plurality of radial arms extending outward from the reel shaft corresponding to each reel bat, each reel bat being rotatably attached at the distal ends of the corresponding radial arms such that the reel bat can rotate freely around a bat axis extending through the distal ends of the radial arms; a cam mounted on the frame perpendicular to the reel axis near the first end of the reel shaft; a cam follower corresponding to each reel bat which is pivotally attached at one end to the reel bat and at a second end engages the cam so that it can follow the cam and exert rotational force on the reel bat to pivot the reel bat around the bat axis as the reel is rotated; wherein the cam has at least one operating position in which it can be selectably positioned, wherein upon positioning of the cam in the at least one operating position the resultant positioning of the cam followers and the reel bats will extend the fingers generally radially outwardly from the reel shaft so that the fingers will be positioned to engage the crop material; and wherein the cam is further positionable in a transport position, wherein upon positioning of the cam in the transport position the resultant positioning of the cam followers and reel bats will rotate the fingers such that the fingers are substantially protected from damage during transport of the header.

[0016] In some embodiments, the number of operating positions is one. In some embodiments, the number of operating positions is more than one.

[0017] In some embodiments, the cam comprises a cam disc rotatably mounted to the frame around the first end of the reel shaft, and a lock to lock the cam in the selected operating or transport position.

[0018] In some embodiments, a crop harvesting header further comprises: a second cam mounted on the frame perpendicular to the reel axis near the second end of the reel shaft; and a second cam follower corresponding to each reel bat which is pivotally attached at one end to the reel bat and at a second end engages the second cam so that it can follow the second cam and exert rotational force on the reel bat to pivot the reel bat around the bat axis as the reel is rotated; wherein the second cam mirrors in shape and mounting at the second end the shape and mounting of the cam mounted at the first end, to avoid excessive torsional force on the reel bats as the reel is rotated; wherein the second cam has at least one operating position in which it can be selectably positioned, wherein upon positioning of the second cam in the at least one operating position the resultant positioning of the second cam followers and the reel bats will extend the fingers generally radially outwardly from the reel shaft so that the fingers will be positioned to engage the crop material; and wherein the second cam is further positionable in a transport position, wherein upon positioning of the second cam in the transport position the resultant positioning of the second cam followers and reel bats will rotate the fingers such that the fingers are substantially protected from damage during transport of the header.

[0019] In embodiments comprising a second cam, the number of operating positions is one. In embodiments comprising a second cam the number of operating positions is more than one.

[0020] In some embodiments, the second cam comprises a second cam disc rotatably mounted to the frame around the second end of the reel shaft, and a second cam lock to lock the second cam in the selected operating or transport position.

[0021] In some embodiments, the at least one operating position and transport position of the cam are indicated by a plurality of lock-engaging holes extending through the cam disc, and the lock comprises a locking pin that can be extended through a lock-engaging hole in the cam disc to a locking hole in the frame.

[0022] In some embodiments, the at least one operating position and transport position of the second cam are indicated by a plurality of lock-engaging holes extending through the second cam disc, and the second cam lock comprises a locking pin which can be extended through a lock-engaging hole in the cam disc to a locking hole in the frame.

[0023] In some embodiments, when the cam is in the transport position, the fingers of the reel bats are generally retracted into position along a path defined by the distal ends of the radial arms.

[0024] In some embodiments, the crop-harvesting header further comprises a reel lock, effective to prevent rotation of the reel during transport.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0025] While the invention is claimed in the concluding portions hereof, preferred embodiments are provided in the accompanying detailed description which may be best understood in conjunction with the accompanying diagrams where like parts in each of the several diagrams are labeled with like numerals, and where:

[0026] FIG. 1 is a schematic side elevational view of a prior art cam reel of a harvesting header;

[0027] FIG. 2 is a side schematic side demonstrating the normal extension of the fingers when the reel is configured in an operating position;

[0028] FIG. 3A and FIG. 3B are side views of a reel with a complex bat path with adjustable cam mechanism that permits the reel to be configured between an operating position (A) and a transport position (B); and

[0029] FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B are side views of a prior art reel made to be configurable in an operating position (A) and a transport position (B) using an adjustable cam system of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0030] The following discussion provides many example embodiments of the inventive subject matter. Although each embodiment represents a single combination of inventive elements, the inventive subject matter is considered to include all possible combinations of the disclosed elements.

[0031] Harvesting headers, as outlined elsewhere herein and understood to those skilled in the art of crop harvesting technology are the cutting face attachment which is typically used either with a swather or windrowing machine, or with a combine harvester or the like. The header typically includes a reel rotatably mounted approximately perpendicular to the operating direction of travel of the implement, which will when rotated feed crop material from the field into a cutter bar mounted along the front of the header, and once it passes over the cutter bar and is cut, deposit that cut crop material into an auger or onto a draper conveyor which will feed it either to a discharge in the case of this water when growing machine, or into the throat of a combine harvester etc.

[0032] Different types of headers have been developed over the years that behave differently in different types of crop material as well as are of varying construction and width. The width of the header is one of the primary determining factors of the speed of harvesting, since a wider header can cut a wider windrow or swath such that fewer passes will be required in order to process a a crop in a field. As outlined above and as is understood to those skilled in the art of the manufacturing operation of harvesting equipment, over the last number of years reel assemblies that use a cam construction at the ends of the reel to rotatably orient the reel bats and the fingers thereon during rotation of the reel have become the norm.

[0033] FIG. 1 depicts a schematic side elevational view of a prior art cam reel of a harvesting header. This Figure has been extracted from Canadian Patent No. 2,358,883. Many of the components of the typical harvesting header are demonstrated in this figure and it is shown for this purpose as well to inform the understanding of the reader in the general state of the art and the technology.

[0034] The general configuration of the header includes a frame structure, shown at 1, which includes a main beam 2 extending across the width of the frame 1 and two end frame 15 members 3, which extend forward from the rear of the header and away from the main beam 2.

[0035] The frame structure 1 also includes a deck 4 onto which crop material after it is cut is placed. The deck 4 extends between the end frame members 3. There is a cutter bar 5 shown as well, along the front of the deck 4, which will cut the crop material as the reel feeds it therein. The harvesting header shown employs an auger 6 for the feeding of crop material to the discharge or throat across the deck 4. Other types of headers use a draper conveyor in place of or in addition to an auger 6 and both such approaches will be understood to be contemplated within the scope of the present invention in terms of utility or applicability of the cam reel configuration of the present invention.

[0036] In addition to the transverse conveyor deck 4, which extends between the end frame members 3, there is also a reel 7 that extends across the width of the header above and reaching forward of the cutter bar 5. This conventional reel 7 includes a shaft 8 that is rotationally attached to the end frame members 3 so that the position of the shaft 8 is fixed relative to the cutter bar 5. The reel 7 also includes a plurality of reel bats 9 which are in equally spaced positions around the axis 10 of the shaft 8. The reel bats 9 are rotatably attached so that they can rotate within their mountings as the shaft 8 and the reel 7 are rotated during operation. In the embodiment shown, each of the bats 9 comprises a bat tube 11 with a plurality of fingers 12 attached thereto which extend radially outward from the tube 11, and the shaft 8, at a predetermined angle. The plurality of fingers 12 are spaced in positions along the length of the bat 9, with all of the fingers being arranged at a similar angle in relation to the axis 13 of the bat 11.

[0037] The bat tubes 11 are mounted to a plurality of radial support arms 14, extending outwardly from the shaft 8. In this particular case a support plate 15 is shown attaching these radial arms 14 to the shaft 8. The number of radial arms 14 spaced around the shaft 8 will vary dependent upon the number of bats 9 which are used in the particular reel configuration. As well, the number of support plate and radial arm combinations spaced along the length of the shaft would be varied based upon the width of the header and the amount of support required by the reel bats 9.

[0038] The bat tubes 11 are rotationally mounted to their radial arms 14, so that they can turn in relation to their axis 13 while remaining attached thereto.

[0039] Each of the bat tubes 11 is attached to or includes a crank arm 16, which is attached to the tube 11 in such a way that the inner end of the crank arm 16 will rotate with the tube 11 around the axis 13 of the tube. Each crank arm 16 includes a cam follower 17 and its outer end, which is capable of engaging a cam track 18. The cam follower 17 itself has a cam follower axis 19 about which it can rotate. The crank arm 16 is attached to provide the application of rotational force to the tube 11 during the operation of the reel 7.

[0040] Many different types of cam followers and corresponding cam track configurations or pairings will be understood. The cam track 18 defines a path around the axis 8 of the reel but is offset from the axis 8 and in this case is non-circular, so that the crank arms 16 will move and they will rotate around their respective bat axis 13 and generate a particular pattern of movement of the fingers 12 attached to that bat 9 as the reel 7 rotates. By changing the shape of the cam track 18 the behavior of the fingers 12 during rotation of the reel 7 can be modified.

[0041] In operation when the shaft 8 is rotated the reel 7 will be actuated. As the shaft 8 is rotated, the radial arms 14 will rotate with the bat tubes 11 attached at their ends. Those reel bats 9 will turn in a circle of constant radius defined by the distance between the axis 10 of the shaft 8 and the axis 13 of the reel bats 9. This is the bat path BP. The bat path (BP) of this particular reel design is shown by dotted circle in this Figure. Overall it will be understood that the behavior of the bats 9 in rotation of the reel 7 in this embodiment and similar embodiments will be that the bats 9 themselves will travel around circular bat path BP and the only change in behavior of the fingers 12 would be generated by the rotation of the tubes 11 of the bats 9 within their rotational attachments on the radial arms 14.

[0042] Operating and Transport Configurations

[0043] There are a number of prior art reel and header combinations which include fingers mounted on rotatable bat tubes. For example, the example of a prior art cam reel shown in FIG. 1 provides for a plurality of fingers 12 mounted on bat tubes 11, which are mounted to be rotated in response to the operation of the cam as described above in reference to FIG. 1. One limitation of these header designs is that by definition, those rows of fingers on bats positioned at the front of the reel will extend past the reel. This can be easily seen in FIG. 2, where the fingers 34 are most extended radially from the reel axis at the front of the reel (the left side of the drawing). This positioning is desirable in the operating configuration as it sets the fingers at an angle to more efficiently engage and sweep the crop towards the header table as the reel rotates, as can be appreciated in the illustration. The illustration depicts the position of a finger at intervals of time during the course of a rotation of the reel, the reel rotating in a counterclockwise direction in this particular depiction.

[0044] While this is a desired position during operation of the combine header as it properly positions the fingers to engage the crop being harvested, it is less desirable when the header is being transported, as a result of the fingers extending outwards from the reel. The fingers being extended past the body of the reel results in an increased potential for catching the fingers on structures, vehicles as the header is being transported, as well as risking injury to persons operating around the header. There is further risk of deforming and/or breaking off of fingers during transport given that they are in an unprotected position.

[0045] In the present invention, the cam is further adjustable between a operating position and a transport position. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, when the cam 30 is set in the operating position (A) the positioning of the cam will be moved relatively forward with respect to the reel. In the operating position this positioning of the cam will cause the cam followers to be positioned such that the reel bats of the front most bats will be rotated in such a manner so as to cause the fingers mounted on the bat tube to extend generally radially outward from the reel shaft, as is also shown in FIG. 2. Thus, as shown in FIGS. 3A and 4A, selecting the operating position for the cam result in orientation of the fingers 34 such that fingers on bats positioned at the front most portion of the reel (two bat finger rows indicated as X) will extend outwards in the optimal configuration for engaging and moving the crop material rearwards towards the header table.

[0046] In contrast, when preparing the header for transport, a user will be able to select a transport position for the cam. As shown in FIGS. 3B and 4B, when the cam is placed in the transport position, the positioning of the cam will move rearward with respect to the reel and the operating position. This in turn positions the cam follower and the bats such that the fingers on the front most bats that would be extended in the operation positions, are now rotated substantially inwards (indicated by Y).

[0047] Conveniently, the present cam design that is configurable between operating and transport positions can be applied as an after market improvement to prior art reel designs (as shown in FIG. 4), or included with a novel reel design having a cam and follower design that produces a complex bat path when the reel is in operation (as shown in FIG. 3).

[0048] In the present design, it is also possible to have one or more operating positions. For example, depending on how aggressively one wishes to engage the crop, the positionable nature of the cam mechanism would allow a user to select one or more operating positions. In each operating position the finger would be generally oriented to extend radially outward with respect to the reel shaft at the point where the fingers would be expected to engage the crop being harvested.

[0049] As is also shown in FIG. 2, the cam can include a number of predetermined operating positions through which the cam positioning may be adjusted. As shown, a series of positioning holes 49 provide detents, or stops, defining a number of different operating positions. The holes may be engaged and the cam locked into position during operation by means of pins, bolts, or any other suitable engaging fastener to maintain the cam in the desired position. The various holes would permit adjustment of the operating behaviour of the reel and fingers 34, depending on the setting chose. Changing the positioning of the cam relative to the positioning holes can also be used to modify the bat path.

[0050] The present design also provides for there to be a locking mechanism in order to secure the cam position in any of the selectable positions, whether it be one or more possible operating positions, or in the transport position. In some cases, the locking mechanism can comprise a series of engagement holes in the cam disc as described above that can be put into alignment with a corresponding locking hole in the frame.

[0051] In some embodiments, the cam can be configured to be movable through about 180.degree. of rotation in moving from an operating position to a transport position. The precise arc through which the cam is rotated is not critical to the advantage provided by this feature. It will therefore be apparent to those of skill in the art how much rotation is required in order to substantially rotate the front most bat fingers inwards whereby they are less likely to contact structures or persons during transport.

[0052] In addition, in some embodiments it may be preferable to provide a locking mechanism to secure the reel in place during transport in order to prevent rotation of the reel and possible damage to its components, such as the fingers. Like the methods for securing the reel cam in an operating position, the transport lock can make use of pins, locks and other fasteners known in the art in order to secure the reel and to prevent its movement when the header is being transported.

[0053] It will be apparent to those of skill in the art that by modification the present invention can be optimized for use in a wide range of conditions and applications, and in particular for different types of crops and various models of combine. It will also be obvious to those of skill in the art that there are various ways and designs with which to produce the apparatus and methods of the present invention. The illustrated embodiments are therefore not intended to limit the scope of the invention, but to provide examples of the apparatus and method to enable those of skill in the art to appreciate the inventive concept.

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