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Title:
EASY ADJUST TENSIONER ASSEMBLY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/123032
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
There is disclosed a tensioning bar assembly (111) for a tensioning assembly (101) of a drive system (60) of an agricultural machine, having: A longitudinal bar (102) having a longitudinal axis (102x), a top end (102t) and a bottom end (102b) and a threaded portion (102a) over at least a portion of the bar; An attachment device (103) coupled to the top end of the longitudinal bar for attaching the top end of the bar to a tensioning arm (41); A compression spring (4s) having first (6b) and second (6t) ends, said spring located around a portion of the longitudinal bar; A first spring retainer (4b) for engaging with and retaining the first end (6b) of the spring; A first locking nut (5a) for fitting to the threaded portion (102a) of the bar and for retaining the first spring retainer longitudinally in place relative to the bar; wherein the longitudinal bar is rotationally freely coupled to the attachment device (103) such as to permit free axial rotation of the bar about the longitudinal axis (102x) relative to the attachment device, and there is further provided an engagement head (102h, 302h) attached to and located at or proximate the bottom end (102b) of the longitudinal bar (102), said engagement head for engagement with a tool.

Inventors:
VEER, Andrew Mark (420 W Lincoln Blvd, Hesston, 67062, US)
HAAR, William Ryan (420 W Lincoln Blvd, Hesston, 67062, US)
Application Number:
IB2018/057893
Publication Date:
June 27, 2019
Filing Date:
October 11, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AGCO CORPORATION (4205 River Green Parkway, Duluth, Georgia, 30096, US)
International Classes:
A01D43/00; F16H7/12
Domestic Patent References:
WO2012084825A12012-06-28
Foreign References:
US3479894A1969-11-25
US6165089A2000-12-26
EP3135956A12017-03-01
US2341273A1944-02-08
EP1440766A12004-07-28
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A tensioning bar assembly (1 1 1 ) for a tensioning assembly (1 ) of a drive system (60) of an agricultural machine, comprising:

• A longitudinal bar (102) having a longitudinal axis (102x), a top end (102t) and a bottom end (102b) and a threaded portion (102a) over at least a portion of the bar;

• An attachment device (103) coupled to the top end of the longitudinal bar for attaching the top end of the bar to a tensioning arm (41 );

• A compression spring (4s) having first (6b) and second (6t) ends, said spring located around a portion of the longitudinal bar;

• A first spring retainer (4b) for engaging with and retaining the first end (6b) of the spring;

• A first locking nut (5a) for fitting to the threaded portion (102a) of the bar and for retaining the first spring retainer longitudinally in place relative to the bar;

characterised in that the longitudinal bar is rotationally freely coupled to the attachment device (103) such as to permit free axial rotation of the bar about the longitudinal axis (102x) relative to the attachment device, and;

there is further provided an engagement head (102h, 302h) attached to and located at or proximate the bottom end (102b) of the longitudinal bar (102), said engagement head for engagement with a tool.

2. A tensioning bar assembly as claimed in claim 1 , further comprising a second spring retainer (4t) for engaging with and retaining the second end (6t) of the spring.

3. A tensioning bar assembly as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the first spring retainer (4b) and the first locking nut (5a) are a unitary item.

4. A tensioning bar assembly as claimed in any preceding claim, further comprising a second locking nut (5b) fitted adjacent to the first locking nut (5a) on the threaded portion of the bar, wherein the second locking nut may be used to lock the first locking nut in place.

5. A tensioning bar assembly as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the engagement head (102h) at or proximate the bottom end (102b) of the bar is any one or more of;

• a triangle, square, pentagon or hex head or socket;

• a posidrive head or socket;

• a torx head or socket;

• a slotted or phillips screwdriver receiving socket;

• a spline head or socket;

• a pair of locking nuts locked in position on the threaded portion, proximate the bottom end of the bar;

• an engagement head device (302h) screwed to the bottom end of the bar on the threaded portion, optionally locked in place with a locking nut (5c).

6. A tensioning bar assembly as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the top end of the longitudinal bar (102t) is located through a hole (134) in a portion (131 ) of the attachment device (103) and is retained in place by means of a snap ring or circlip (121c, 122c) located in a groove (121 , 122) proximate the top end (102t) of the bar.

7. A tensioning bar assembly as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the attachment device (103) is a clevis (103).

8. A tensioning assembly (101 ) for a drive system, comprising a tensioning bar assembly (1 1 1 ) as claimed in any previous claim, further comprising:

• a tensioning arm (41 ) pivotally mounted (41 p) to the machine;

• a tensioning device (47) mounted to the tensioning arm for contacting the drive system (60, 63) and applying a tensioning force (Ft) directly thereto;

• a bracket (20) mounted to the machine;

wherein the attachment device (103) is attached to the tensioning arm (41 ) at an attachment point (41 b, 41 m) and the second end of the spring (6t) is in direct or indirect physical contact with the bracket (20), such that compression of the spring applied by and between the bracket (20) and the first spring retainer (4b) provides a resultant force (Fa) applied to the tensioning arm, via the attachment point (41 b, 41 m), about the pivot mounting point (41 p) of the tensioning arm, which produces the tensioning force (Ft) to force the tensioning device (47) into contact against the drive system (63).

9. A tensioning assembly as claimed in claim 8, wherein the bracket has a facing side (20f) facing towards the tensioning arm and a distal side (20d) facing away from the tensioning arm; the spring (4s), first retainer (4b) and first locking nut (5a) are located on the distal side; and the second end of the spring (6t) is in direct or indirect physical contact with the distal side (20d) of the bracket such that the resultant force (Fa) acts to pull the attachment point (103p) towards the bracket.

10. A tensioning assembly as claimed in claim 8, wherein the bracket has a facing side (20f) facing towards the tensioning arm and a distal side (20d) facing away from the tensioning arm; the spring (4s), first retainer (4b) and first locking nut (5a) are located on the facing side; and the second end of the spring (6t) is in direct or indirect physical contact with the facing side of the bracket such that the resultant force acts to push the attachment point (103p) away from the bracket.

1 1. A tensioning assembly as claimed in any of claims 8 to 10 wherein the tensioning arm (41 ) has a first end (41 a) and a second end (41 b), the tensioning device (47) being mounted proximate to the first end (241 a), the attachment point (103p) being proximate to the second end (41 b), and the pivotal mounting (41 p) of the tensioning arm being at a midpoint (41 m) between the first and second ends.

12. A tensioning assembly as claimed in any of claims 8 to 10 wherein the tensioning arm (241 , 341 ) has a first end (41 a) and a second end (241 b, 341 b), the tensioning device (47) being mounted proximate to the first end (41 a), the pivotal mounting (241 p, 341 p) of the tensioning arm being proximate to the second end (241 b, 341 b), and the attachment point (103p) being at a midpoint (241 m, 341 m) between the first and second ends.

13. A tensioning assembly as claimed in any of claims 8 to 12 as dependent on any of claims 2 to 7, comprising a second spring retainer (4t) for engaging with and retaining the second end of the spring (6t) and wherein the second spring retainer further engages with the bracket (20).

14. A tensioning assembly as claimed in claim 13 wherein the second spring retainer and the bracket are a unitary item.

15. A tensioning assembly as claimed in any of claims 8 to 14 wherein the tensioning device is an idler wheel (47) and the drive system is a belt drive system or a chain drive system.

16. A tensioning assembly as claimed in any of claims 8 to 14 wherein the tensioning device is an idler gear and the drive system is a chain drive system.

17. A drive system comprising a tensioning arm assembly or tensioning assembly as claimed in any of claims 1 to 16.

18. An agricultural machine comprising a tensioning bar assembly, tensioning assembly or drive system as claimed in any of claims 1 to 17.

19. An agricultural machine as claimed in claim 18 wherein the machine is a combine harvester.

Description:
EASY ADJUST TENSIONER ASSEMBLY

Field of Invention

The present invention relates to a tensioner bar apparatus. In particular, the invention relates to a tensioner bar apparatus for use with a tensioner arm for a drive belt. Such a drive belt may typically be found in an agricultural apparatus, such as a combine harvester or other agricultural machine.

Background of invention

Combine Harvesters and other agricultural machines commonly contain a number of drive systems comprising a belt or chain to transfer power from a drive source to a driven power consuming system. Such belts or chains are often provided with a means for tensioning or taking up slack in the belt or chain in the drive system.

Figure 1 shows a typical drive system from a combine harvester. It is a drive system which provides drive power to a straw chopper at the rear end of a combine harvester.

The drive system comprises a driving wheel and a driven wheel connected by a belt. Tension in the belt is applied by an idler wheel which presses against the belt and is mounted on a tensioning arm.

The idler wheel is rotationally mounted on a first end of the tensioning arm, and the tensioning arm is pivotally mounted, at a midpoint, to the combine harvester. To the second end of the tensioning arm is connected a tensioner bar assembly, which applies a tensioning force.

The tensioner bar assembly comprises a longitudinal bar. At a first, or‘top’ end of the bar is a clevis assembly which is connected to the second end of the tensioning arm by a clevis pin. In this prior art arrangement, the longitudinal bar is rotationally fixed to the clevis assembly such that in effect the bar and clevis assembly are a unitary item. A portion of the bar is provided with a screw thread. Fitted over this threaded portion of the bar is a spring provided with a top retainer and a bottom retainer which together keep the spring in place. When in position on the machine, the top retainer butts up against a bracket attached to the combine harvester. The bottom retainer is kept in its position on the bar by a pair of locking nuts fitted onto the screw thread - a first locking nut for adjustment of spring compression and the second locking nut for locking the nuts in place.

When in position on the machine, the spring is effectively compressed between the bracket and the locking nuts via the action of the top and bottom retainers respectively. The action of the spring on the top retainer, and thus the bracket, acts to‘push’ the bottom retainer, and thus the locking nuts, away from the bracket. As the locking nuts are threaded onto the longitudinal bar, this provides an axial force along the bar which in turn, through the clevis and clevis pin, produces a sustained pressure on the second end of the tensioning arm. As the tensioning arm is pivotally mounted at a midpoint, this produces a torque around the pivot point, such that the idler wheel, mounted on the first end of the tensioning arm, is pressed against the belt and thus provides a tensioning force on the belt.

It is occasionally necessary to adjust the tensioning bar assembly, either to change the spring tension or to replace worn or broken components. To do this, when the tensioning bar assembly is in position, it is necessary first to loosen the second locking nut. This releases the first locking nut to be rotated around, and thus move along, the threaded portion of the longitudinal bar, hence changing the axial position of the bottom retainer and thus adjusting the spring compression (and hence the force with which the spring acts against the bracket and consequently, via the longitudinal bar, tensioning arm and idler wheel, the tensioning force with which the idler wheel contacts the belt). This requires a wrench or spanner, such as an open end wrench/spanner or ratcheting wrench/spanner.

Use of such a wrench or spanner requires the involvement of an operator, and this is a job which is typically tedious and consumes an undesirable amount of time and energy. Further, machines such as a combine harvester, and indeed many other agricultural machines, are typically complex machines with many other components in close proximity to the drive system. Access to the locking nuts, where an access route is typically required to be substantially perpendicular to the axis of the longitudinal bar when a wrench is used, is therefore not always straightforward, further making the adjustment process problematic. Space is also required to allow for rotational movement of the wrench or spanner around the longitudinal bar so as to actually rotate the nut on the threaded portion. This is particularly so when the first part of the operation, namely loosening the second locking nut, may require the use of two wrenches (spanners), due to tightness of the engagement of the locking nuts - one wrench required to hold the first locking nut stationary and provide a reactive torque against the torque applied by a second wrench being used to loosen the second locking nut; this means that access is required for two wrenches. A solution to these problems would be desirable.

Summary of Invention

Accordingly there is provided in an aspect a tensioning bar assembly (1 1 1 ) for a tensioning assembly (101 ) of a drive system (60) of an agricultural machine, comprising:

• A longitudinal bar (102) having a longitudinal axis (102x), a top end (102t) and a bottom end (102b) and a threaded portion (102a) over at least a portion of the bar;

• An attachment device (103) coupled to the top end of the longitudinal bar for attaching the top end of the bar to a tensioning arm (41 );

• A compression spring (4s) having first (6b) and second (6t) ends, said spring located around a portion of the longitudinal bar;

• A first spring retainer (4b) for engaging with and retaining the first end (6b) of the spring;

• A first locking nut (5a) for fitting to the threaded portion (102a) of the bar and for retaining the first spring retainer longitudinally in place relative to the bar;

characterised in that the longitudinal bar is rotationally freely coupled to the attachment device (103) such as to permit free axial rotation of the bar about the longitudinal axis (102x) relative to the attachment device, and;

there is further provided an engagement head (102h, 302h) attached to and located at or proximate the bottom end (102b) of the longitudinal bar (102), said engagement head for engagement with a tool.

The advantage of this tensioning bar assembly is that the adjustment of the tensioning bar assembly may be performed by using a single wrench to hold the locking nut rotationally stationary relative to the longitudinal axis of the bar, and a second tool can then be used to engage with the engagement head attached to the bottom end of the bar. The bar itself can then be rotated by use of the second tool, resulting in a rotational motion of the bar relative to the locking nut and hence altering the longitudinal placement of the locking nut on the threaded portion of the bar. Usefully, the engagement head may not require the use of an open end wrench and may be provided with a head for engagement with a complementary socket, or alternatively a socket for engagement with a complementary head, or similar mechanical arrangement, which complementary head or socket may also be attached to a power tool of some kind, such as a pneumatic socket gun or power screwdriver. This would make the adjustment of the tensioning assembly easier and also potentially a great deal quicker, as well as greatly reducing the physical exertion required by a user.

In an embodiment, the tensioning bar assembly further comprises a second spring retainer for engaging with and retaining the second end of the spring.

As will be described below, when in use the tensioning bar assembly will be fitted to a bracket and a tensioning arm. In some embodiments the second end of the spring may directly contact the bracket, but in other embodiments the bar assembly is provided with a second spring retainer which is formed to‘cup’ the end of the spring and this second spring retainer either butts up, or is connected, to the bracket.

The first spring retainer is nominally kept in place longitudinally on the bar by means of the first locking nut. When the tensioner bar assembly is in place, the first spring retainer is pushed against the locking nut by the force of the spring.

In an embodiment, the first spring retainer and the first locking nut may be a unitary item - ie; may be formed in one piece.

It will be recognised that if the first spring retainer and first locking nut are a unitary item, then engagement of the spring with the first spring retainer may be more easily facilitated, as perpendicular motion of the first spring retainer will be prohibited due to its engagement with the threaded portion of the bar. It will also further facilitate the adjustment of the tensioner bar assembly.

In an embodiment, the bar assembly may be provided with a second locking nut, fitted adjacent to the first locking nut on the threaded portion of the bar, in order to ‘lock’ the first locking nut in place.

A second locking nut may be provided so as to assist in‘locking’ the first locking nut, or, where there is a unitary first spring retainer / locking nut, the unitary item, axially in place on the threaded portion of the bar.

In embodiments, the engagement head at or proximate the bottom end of the bar is any one or more of: • a triangle, square, pentagon or hex head or socket;

• a posidrive head or socket;

• a torx head or socket;

• a slotted or phillips screwdriver receiving socket;

• a spline head or socket;

• a pair of locking nuts locked in position on the threaded portion, proximate the bottom end of the bar;

• an engagement head device screwed to the bottom end of the bar on the threaded portion, optionally locked in place with a locking nut (5c).

The‘engagement head’ at or proximate the bottom end of the longitudinal bar has the purpose of allowing a tool to be applied to the longitudinal bar at a convenient point, and advantageously allows access to the engagement head in a longitudinal direction. It will be recognised that any shape of ‘head’ may be used that allows for engagement with a tool that may be used by a user, and it is envisaged that, in particular, a power tool of some description may be used. The bottom end of the bar may therefore be provided with any head or socket or other shape which allows engagement with a tool, and in addition to those already listed this may include any one of a head or socket such as Security Torx, Tri-wing, Spanner, Clutch, Mortorq, Frearson, Supadriv, Polydrive, Double square, Bristol, Torq-set, One-way, Pentalobe, TP3, or TTAP head, or indeed any other suitable geometry. The bar may be manufactured with such a head or socket in place as a unitary item with the bar. In a variant, the threaded portion of the bar may extend entirely to the bottom end of the bar, and a suitable head may be attached to the bottom end of the bar and locked in place with a locking nut. In a further variant, a hole may be present across a diameter of the bar, proximate to the bottom end, into which a pin may be inserted, and this may be engaged by a suitable tool.

In an embodiment, the top end 2t of the longitudinal bar 2 is located through a hole (34) in a portion (31 ) of the attachment device (3) and is retained in place by means of a snap ring or circlip (21c, 22c) located in a groove (21 , 22) proximate the top end of the bar. In another embodiment, the attachment device is a clevis.

Axial rotation of the longitudinal bar relative to the clevis (or other attachment device), whilst the longitudinal bar is retained in the clevis, may be achieved by provision of a hole, such as a circular hole, in a body of the clevis or device. The longitudinal bar generally has a round cross-section, and the top end of the bar may be inserted into and through the hole. This allows the axial rotation of the bar relative to the device/clevis. Longitudinal restriction of the bar relative to the body of the device may be achieved by a circular groove around the diameter of the bar at a point proximate the top end of the bar, into which a snap ring or circlip may be fitted. In a variant, two such circular grooves may be provided so that a snap ring or circlip may be fitted to the bar on either side of the portion of the bar which penetrates the device, thus preventing axial movement of the bar relative to the device in either longitudinal direction.

One skilled in the art will readily recognise and be easily able to determine alternatives to the clevis which may be used as an attachment device, such as an L- shaped bracket with a hole in either arm, a rod, bar or plate with a hole for attaching to a pivot point and a piece of hollow tubing attached thereto for receiving the bar, or any one of a number of other equivalent items. However, in the art a clevis is generally used and for ease of reference herein a clevis may generally be referred to although it will of course be realised that any suitable alternative will be generally intended to be encompassed by such reference.

In an aspect there is provided a tensioning assembly (101 ) for a drive system, comprising a tensioning bar assembly (1 1 1 ) as described elsewhere herein, further comprising:

• a tensioning arm (41 ) pivotally mounted (41 p) to the machine;

• a tensioning device (47) mounted to the tensioning arm for contacting the drive system (60, 63) and applying a tensioning force (Ft) directly thereto;

• a bracket (20) mounted to the machine;

wherein the attachment device (3) is attached to the tensioning arm (41 ) at an attachment point (41 b, 41 m, 3p) and the second end of the spring (6t) is in direct or indirect physical contact with the bracket 20, such that compression of the spring applied by and between the bracket (20) and the first spring retainer (4b) provides a resultant force (Fa) applied to the tensioning arm, via the attachment point (41 b, 41 m, 3p), about the pivot mounting point (41 p) of the tensioning arm, which produces the tensioning force (Ft) to force the tensioning device (47) into contact against the drive system (63).

The attachment point, where the clevis is attached to the tensioning arm, may usefully be a pivot mount where a clevis pin is inserted through holes in arms of the clevis and also through a hole in the tensioning arm. Clevis pins, threaded clevis pins, and alternatives therefor (such as a bolt and nut arrangement) are standard items well known to those skilled in the art, and any suitable pin or alternative may be used. It will be recognised that compression of the spring may be achieved by placing the second end of the spring against the bracket (or against a second spring retainer which is in turn placed against or connected to the bracket. In embodiments, the bracket is provided with a hole through which the bar of the bar assembly is fitted); attaching the clevis to the clevis attachment point, and then adjusting the first locking nut (via the method enabled by the main aspect of the invention) so as to move the first locking nut, and hence the first spring retainer towards the bracket, thus resulting in a compression of the spring. The spring thus produces a force which acts substantially longitudinally along the axis of the bar, either to pull the clevis attachment point towards the bracket, or, depending on the arrangement of the spring relative to the bracket and the arrangement of the tensioning arm, to push the clevis attachment point away from the bracket. Possible variations are described further in the embodiments below.

In embodiments, the bracket has a facing side (20f) facing towards the tensioning arm and a distal side (20d) facing away from the tensioning arm; the spring (4s), first retainer (4b) and first locking nut (5a) are located on the distal side; and the second end of the spring (6t) is in direct or indirect physical contact with the distal side (20d) of the bracket such that the resultant force (Fa) acts to pull the attachment point (103p) towards the bracket.

In embodiments, the bracket has a facing side (20f) facing towards the tensioning arm and a distal side (20d) facing away from the tensioning arm; the spring (4s), first retainer (4b) and first locking nut (5a) are located on the facing side; and the second end of the spring (6t) is in direct or indirect physical contact with the facing side of the bracket such that the resultant force acts to push the attachment point (103p) away from the bracket.

In embodiments, the tensioning arm (41 ) has a first end (41 a) and a second end (41 b), the tensioning device (47) being mounted proximate to the first end (241 a), the attachment point (103p) being proximate to the second end (41 b), and the pivotal mounting (41 p) of the tensioning arm being at a midpoint (41 m) between the first and second ends.

In embodiments, the tensioning arm (241 , 341 ) has a first end (41 a) and a second end (241 b, 341 b), the tensioning device (47) being mounted proximate to the first end (41 a), the pivotal mounting (241 p, 341 p) of the tensioning arm being proximate to the second end (241 b, 341 b), and the attachment point (103p) being at a midpoint (241 m, 341 m) between the first and second ends.

The second end of the spring may act directly against the bracket, or may act on a second spring retainer which in turn acts upon the bracket. It will be recognised that the bracket may comprise a dish or annular groove which acts as a second spring retainer. The longitudinal bar may be positioned so that it passes through a hole or notch in the bracket, and/or may be positioned so that it passes through a hole or a notch in the second spring retainer. The second spring retainer may comprise a hole or notch through which the longitudinal bar passes, and may be attached by an arm so that the spring is laterally displaced from the bracket, as in Figure 4c. The attachment may be by screws, rivets, a simple clamp or by any other means generally known in the art, such as nut/bolt combination 27 shown in Figure 4c.

The tensioning device may be any suitable device for pressing against the drive system of the machine.

The drive system may be a belt drive or may be a chain drive. In either case, the tensioning device may be an idler wheel, roller, or may be a simple bar. Where the drive system is a chain drive, the tensioning device may equally be an idler gear with teeth that engage the chain.

In an aspect, there is provided a drive system comprising a tensioning arm assembly or tensioning assembly as described herein.

In an aspect, there is provided an agricultural machine comprising a tensioning bar assembly, tensioning assembly or drive system as described herein.

In an embodiment, an agricultural machine may be a combine harvester. Specific Description

The invention will now be described in more detail by reference to the attached Figures.

Figure 1 shows a typical prior art drive system from a combine harvester. It shows a drive system which provides drive power to a straw chopper at the rear end of a combine harvester and which has a tensioning assembly comprising a tensioning arm and a tensioning bar assembly.

Figure 2 shows a cross-sectional view through a portion of the prior art tensioning assembly giving more detail of some of the items of Figure 1 .

Figure 3 shows a diagrammatic view of elements of a tensioning bar assembly in accordance with aspects and embodiments of the present application.

Figure 3a shows a diagrammatic cross-sectional view of a clevis assembly in accordance with aspects and embodiments of the present application.

Figure 3b shows a diagrammatic partial view of an end of a bar assembly in accordance with embodiments of the present application as shown in Figures 3 and 3a.

Figures 4a, 4b and 4c show schematic alternative arrangements of bar assembly, bracket, and tensioner arm in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

Figure 1 , as described elsewhere herein, and Figure 2 show:

The drive system 60 comprises a driving wheel 61 and a driven wheel 62 connected by a belt 63. Tension in the belt is applied by a tensioning assembly 1 . Tensioning assembly 1 includes an idler wheel 47 which presses against the belt with force Ft and is rotationally mounted on a tensioning arm 41 at a first end of the tensioning arm 41 a.

The idler wheel is rotationally mounted on a first end 41 a of the tensioning arm, and the tensioning arm is pivotally mounted on a pivot 41 p, at a midpoint 41 m, to a combine harvester (not shown). To the second end of the tensioning arm 41 b is connected a tensioning bar assembly 1 1 , which applies a force Fa to the end 41 b of the arm 41 .

The tensioning bar assembly 1 1 comprises a longitudinal bar 2. At a first, or‘top’ end of the bar 2t is a clevis assembly 3 which is connected to the second end of the tensioning arm 41 b by a clevis pin 36 at an attachment point 3p. In this prior art arrangement, the longitudinal bar 2 is fixed to the clevis assembly 3 such that in effect the bar and clevis are a unitary item. A portion of the bar 2a is provided with a screw thread. Fitted over this threaded portion of the bar is a spring 4s, having first end 6b and second end 6t, and also a first spring retainer 4b and a second spring retainer 4t which together keep the spring in place.

When in position on the combine harvester (or machine), the second spring retainer 4t butts up against bracket 20 which is attached, ultimately, to the combine harvester. In Fig 2, spring retainer 4t has a generally curved top surface which locates in a generally curved recess on the distal side 20d of bracket 20, which allows a degree of freedom of movement. Bar 2 fits through a hole provided in Bracket 20. Bracket 20 has a facing side 20f facing towards the tensioning arm 41 and a distal face 20d facing away from the tensioning arm. The first spring retainer 4b is kept in its position on the bar by a pair of locking nuts 5a, 5b fitted onto the screw thread of bar portion 2a - a first locking nut 5a for adjustment of spring compression and the second locking nut 5b for locking the nuts in place.

When in position on the machine, the spring is effectively compressed between the distal side 20d of bracket 20 and the locking nuts 5a, 5b via the action of the top and bottom (second and first) retainers 4t, 4b on ends of the spring 6t, 6b respectively. The action of the spring on the second retainer, and thus the bracket face 20d, acts to‘push’ the first retainer, and thus the locking nuts, away from the bracket. As the locking nuts are threaded onto and thus mechanically joined to the longitudinal bar, this provides an axial force Fa along the bar which in turn, through the clevis and clevis pin at the attachment point 3p, produces a sustained pulling pressure on the second end 41 b of the tensioning arm. As the tensioning arm is pivotally mounted at a midpoint 41 m of the arm, this produces a torque T around the pivot point 41 p, such that the idler wheel 47, mounted on the first end 41 a of the tensioning arm 41 , is pressed against the belt and thus provides a tensioning force Ft on the belt. Figure 3 shows a tensioning bar assembly 1 1 1 in accordance with aspects and embodiments of the invention of the present application for use as a replacement for the prior art tensioning bar assembly shown in Figures 1 and 2.

There is provided a longitudinal bar 102 having a first or top end 102t and also having a threaded portion 102a which extends from roughly a mid-point of the bar to a second, or bottom end 102b of the bar. A portion of the bottom end of the bar 102b is formed into a hex head 102h so that a tool can be applied to it. Spring 4s with ends 6b and 6t and first and second spring retainers 4b and 4t are fitted around the threaded portion 102a of the bar. First and second locking nuts 5a and 5b are also threaded on to portion 102a of the bar, adjacent the first spring retainer 4b. At top end 102t of the bar is affixed a clevis assembly 103, shown in more detail in Figure 3a.

Figure 3a shows that clevis 103 has a main body 131 and arms 132. The main body 131 has a hole 134 through it through which top end 102t of bar 102 may slidingly fit. Hole 134 and bar 102 are circular in cross-section so that bar 102 may freely rotate within the hole 134 about longitudinal axis 102x. Each of the arms 132 is also provided with a hole 135 through which a clevis pin 36 may be fitted. In Figure 3 it can be seen that clevis pin 36 is further fitted with a circlip 37, as familiar to one skilled in the art. The top end of the bar 102t is provided with grooves 121 and 122, seen clearly in Figure 3b, into which circlips 121c and 122c may be fitted as seen in Figures 3 and 3a. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that depending on the fitment of the longitudinal bar assembly as part of the tensioning assembly, only one or other of the groove/circlip combinations may be required. For example, if the bar assembly is to provide a force Fa which pulls on the pivot point 3p, then only circlip 121c is strictly necessary. Likewise if the bar is arranged to push on pivot point 3p, only circlip 122c may be required.

As described hereinbefore, the arrangement shown in Figures 3, 3a and 3b allows for the simple adjustment of the tensioning assembly by means of engaging a tool at locking nut 5a, which can then be held stationary, whilst bar 102 can then be rotated by application of a tool to the hex head 102h, thus rotationally moving bar 102 relative to nut 5a and hence moving nut 5a along the bar. Locking nut 5b can similarly be moved along the bar until it butts up against nut 5a, locking it in position. A final operation with a wrench on both nuts 5a and 5b respectively may be required to fully lock the nuts. Such an operation will be clear to one skilled in the art. Figure 4a shows an alternative embodiment of tensioning assembly 101 where a tensioning bar assembly 1 1 1 is arranged as part of a tensioning assembly 101 where the tensioning bar assembly 1 1 1 is located the other side of the tensioning arm 41 than in the arrangement of prior art Figure 1 . In this arrangement, tensioning force Fa is a pushing force on tensioning arm 41 due to the placement of the spring 4s, retainers (4b, 4t) and a locking nut 5a on the facing side 20f of the bracket 20. This results in the same torque T about pivot point 41 p and tensioning force Ft as illustrated in Figure 1 , albeit with a different placement of elements of the tensioning assembly.

Figure 4b shows an alternative embodiment where force Fa from tensioning bar assembly 1 1 1 is a pushing force on tensioning arm 241 due to the placement of the spring 4s, a retainer 4b and nut 5a on the facing side 20f of the bracket 20. In this embodiment, arm 241 is pivotally mounted 241 p at its second end 241 b and clevis 103 is mounted via pin 103p to a midpoint 241 m of the arm 241. Pushing force Fa again results in a torque T about pivot point 241 p which provides a tensioning force Ft on the belt 63. In this embodiment it is also notable that second end 6t of spring 4s acts directly against the face 20f of the bracket 20 and there is no retainer 4t.

Figure 4c shows an alternative embodiment where force Fa is a pulling force on tensioning arm 341 and tensioning arm 341 is pivoted about its second end 341 b with clevis 103 attached to a midpoint 341 m. In this embodiment, spring retainer 304t has an arm 304ta which is bolted by nut and bolt assembly 27 to bracket 20. In this way, the spring 4s acts indirectly against the distal face 20d of the bracket 20. Also in this embodiment is shown a head 302h which has been screwed on to the end 102b of bar 102, then locked in place with a locking nut 5c.

In summary there is disclosed a tensioning bar assembly (1 1 1 ) for a tensioning assembly (101 ) of a drive system (60) of an agricultural machine, having: A longitudinal bar (102) having a longitudinal axis (102x), a top end (102t) and a bottom end (102b) and a threaded portion (102a) over at least a portion of the bar; An attachment device (103) coupled to the top end of the longitudinal bar for attaching the top end of the bar to a tensioning arm (41 ); A compression spring (4s) having first (6b) and second (6t) ends, said spring located around a portion of the longitudinal bar; A first spring retainer (4b) for engaging with and retaining the first end (6b) of the spring; A first locking nut (5a) for fitting to the threaded portion (102a) of the bar and for retaining the first spring retainer longitudinally in place relative to the bar; wherein the longitudinal bar is rotationally freely coupled to the attachment device (103) such as to permit free axial rotation of the bar about the longitudinal axis (102x) relative to the attachment device, and there is further provided an engagement head (102h, 302h) attached to and located at or proximate the bottom end (102b) of the longitudinal bar (102), said engagement head for engagement with a tool.

Clearly the skilled person will recognise that various aspects, embodiments and elements of the present application, including as illustrated in the figures, may be arranged in differing combinations, any and all of which may be considered to fall within the ambit of the inventive concept. The invention will be defined by the following claims.