Image Number 12 for United States Patent #5492502.
An apparatus and method for processing fish (24), especially sole, is disclosed. The apparatus includes a frame having a longitudinal axis along the direction of movement of the fish as they are processed. The fish are placed onto a conveyor (200) that includes blocks (204) for centering the fish and advancing them parallel to the longitudinal axis of the frame and into jaws (202). The jaws open as the fish passes through and measure each fish as well as help center the fish. The length measurement taken by the jaws is sent to a logic controller that determines the approximate dimensions of the fish. The controller uses this information to activate cutters at the proper times. The cutters include dorsal and anal fin cutters (212, 210), a tail cutter (214), and a head and organ cutter (216). The fish is carried into the cutters by spiked belts (222, 224, 230, 232, 234). The belts also transport the fish through an exit chute (362) into more processing equipment or simply into an exit bin. Circular blades (312, 314), band saw blades (512, 514), rotor blades (412, 414), or contoured blade (610, 612), are used for the dorsal and anal fin cutters. The blades are moved transverse to the longitudinal axis of the frame as they cut the fins. The tail cutter and head and organ cutter are constructed of flat steel bars with serrated edges. These cutters are activated at the proper time by the logic controller to swing around and cut off the tail, head, and organs.