US 2390199 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 4, 1945. J. A. WALSH INFLATABLE LIFE RAFT Filed Aug. '18, 194:5 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Dec. 4,1945.
J. A. WALSH INFLATABLE LIFE RAFT Filed Aug. 18, 1945 2 Sheets-Sheet 2- Patented Dec. 4, 1945 UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE INFLATABLE LIFE RAFT James A. Walsh, West Haven, Conn.
Application August 18, 1943, Serial No. 499,063
The present invention relates to improvements in life rafts and relates more particularly to improvements in life rafts which may be inflated with a gas such, for instance, as air or carbon dioxide. The inflatable life rafts of the present to provide a superior inflatable life raft which.
will afford a maximum degree of safety and comfort to its occupants.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a superior life raft of the character referred to and which is so constructed and arranged that an inflatable part thereof may be automatically inflated in such manner as to provide suflicient floatability for the raft to enable a person to manually inflate remaining parts of the raft.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a superior inflatable life raft in which provision is made for th accommodation of water ballast in conjunction with convenient means whereby such ballast may be both taken aboard and discharged from the raft.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a superior raft of the general character referred to in which convenient and reliable means is provided for catching and storing rain water.
A still further object of the present invention is to provide an inflatable life raft which is relatively resistant to capsizing in heavy seas and in heavy winds.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a raft of the character referred to having a double bottom, the space'between which may be utilized for storing drinking water, water ballast, gas to add buoyancy, or combinations thereof.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a multi-compartment' inflatable life raft so constructed and arranged that its main buoyancy compartments are effectively shielded against scuffing and breakage by engagement with reefs, beaches, etc.
With the above and other objects in view, as will appear to those skilled in the art from the present disclosure, this invention includes all features in the said disclosure which are novel over the prior art.
In the accompanying drawings, in which certain modes of carrying out the present invention are shown for illustrative purposes:
Fig. 1 is a top or plan view of one form of inflatable life raft constructed in accordance with the present invention;
Fig. 2 is a view thereof in side elevation;
Fig. 3 is a broken sectional view taken on the line 3-3 of Fig. l, but on a larger scale;
Fig. 4 is a transverse sectional view taken on the line 4-4 of Fig, l, but on a larger scale;
Fig. 5 is a broken longitudinal-sectional view taken on the line 55 of Fig. l, but on a larger scale; and
Fig. 6 is a transverse sectional view of one of the valve-structures.
The particular inflatable life raft shown in the accompanying drawings for purposes of illustrating one form of the present invention, includes a main or upper tube l0 built up of a plurality of tube-section II of substantially-circular form in cross section (when inflated) and connected together end-to-end to present in plan a boatlike outline. The said main tube l0 and its tube sections ll, as well as the other compartment walls to be later described, may be produced of rubberized fabric securely cemented together in a gas-tight and water-tight manner, as is well understood in the art.
The main tube I0 is transversely divided in the instance shown into eight (more or less) compartments by means of partitions l2. The com-' partments formed by the diaphragm-like partitions I2 are positioned end-to-end and are each divided from the other in a gas-tight and watertight manner by the said partitions l2. Extending crosswise at substantially the bottom of the main tube In is an inner bottom I3 which may be formed of a suitable number of plies of rubberized or other suitable fabric cemented or otherwise secured in a gas-tight and water-tight manner to the main tube l0.
Located substantially amidship and extending transversely between the respective opposite sides of the main tube I0 at substantially the horizontal centerline thereof, is a seat-supporting tube l4 formed of flexible gas-tight and watertight material. The hollow interior of the said seat-supporting tube I4 is not in communication at its respective opposite ends with the hollow interior of the main tube l0 but is segregated therefrom. Arranged over the seat-supporting tube 14 and secured at its respective opposite ends to the opposite sides of the main tube 10, is a seat-strap l5 of flexible but durable and scuffresistant material.
Forward of the seat-supporting tube l4 and likewise extending transversely of the raft is a forward seat-supporting tube I6. Like the central seat-supporting tube I4, the interior of the forward seat-supporting tube I6 is not in communication at its respective opposite ends with the hollow interior of the main tube I but is segregated therefrom. Arranged over the seatsupporting tube I and secured at its respective opposite ends to the opposite sides of the main tube I0 is a seat-strap I'I similar to the seatstrap I5 before-referred to.
Adjacent the rear end of the raft is a transverse seat-strap I8 securely fastened at its respective opposite ends to the opposite sides of the main tube I0 but, due to its shortness, not having any seat-supporting tube thereunder in the particular instance shown.
Cemented or otherwise secured to the upper surface of the main tube I0 respectively on the opposite sides thereof, are a pair of flexible apertured oarlock-tabs I9,I9 positioned aft of the forward seat-strap I! so as to render rowing convenient from the latter. Located aft of the central seat-strap I5 respectively on opposite sides of the upper surface of the main tube I0 are a second pair of apertured oarIock-tabs 20-20. Persons seated on the forward seat-strap I6 may operate the usual light oars projected through the apertured oarlock-tabs Iii-I9, while similarly persons seated on the mid seat-strap I5 may manipulate oars extending through the apertures in the respective oarlock-tabs 2020. Centrally at the rear of the raft-structure and on the upper surface of the main tube [8 is an apertured oarlock-tab 2| through which an car may extend for purposes of sculling or steering.
Cemented or otherwise suitably secured at spaced intervals around the outer perimeter of the main tube I0 is a series of eyes 22 through which is threaded a rope 23 which may be conveniently grasped by persons still remaining overboard.
The so-called inner bottom I3 before referred to may be composed of any suitable number of layers and is attached to the bottom portion of the main tube I0 so as to have a water-tight connection therewith. Attached to the underface of the inner bottom I3 adjacent and extending around the outer edge thereof is a secondary or lower tube 24 of waterand gas-tight character but. preferably not transversely partitioned as is the main tube II) shown.
Attached at its edge to the under-portion of the secondary tube 24 and extending in spaced relationship below the inner bottom I3, is an outer bottom 25 of any suitable number of layers and preferably having an outer layer of very tough scuff-resistant material.
Extending vertically between the inner bottom I3 and outer bottom 25 and transversel between the respective opposite sides of the secondary tube 24, are two (more or less) partitions 2G and 21, securely cemented or otherwise attached at their respective upper and lower edges in. a waterand gas-tight manner to the under-surface of the inner bottom I3 and the upper surface of the outer bottom 25. At their respective opposite ends the partitions 26 and 21 are secured in a gasand water-tight manner to the inner periphery of the secondary tube 24. As thus positioned and connected, the partitions 2G and 2! divide the space between the inner bottom I3 and the outer bottom 25 into three water and gastight compartments respectively designated 28, 29 and 30 reading from forward to aft.
In addition to being vertically interconnected by the respective partitions 26 and 21, the inner bottom I3 and outer bottom 25 are also preferably connected by a plurality of vertical relativelynarrow strap-like stays 3I suitably spaced to prevent the undue upward and downward fiexure or crowning, respectively, of the inner bottom I3 and outer bottom 25.
Located slightly beneath a forward portion of the main tube ID and on top of the inner bottom I3 is a flask 32 (Figs. 1 and 3) containing compressed carbon dioxide or any other suitable compressed gas which usually assumes a liquid form in view of the high pressure under which it is stored in the said flask. The flask 32 is connected by means of a valve-fitting 33 to the interior of the secondary tube 24. The valvefitting 33 just referred to is preferably in a form which ma be tripped or opened by a pull-cord (not shown), all in a manner well known in the art of inflatable life rafts.
Communicating with various compartments of the raft-structure in a manner as will be more fully hereinafter described, is one or more suitable valve-structures which may, for instance, assume the form illustrated in detail in Fig. 6. The particular valve-structure referred to is designated as a whole by the reference character 34 and includes a ring-like sealing-flange 35 formed of rubber like material and adapted to be cemented to the inner surface of rubberized fabric or the like, which fabric in Fig. 6 is designated for convenience by the reference character 35. Molded or otherwise mounted in a gas-tight manner in the apertured central portion of the sealing-flange 35 is a valve body 3! which may be conveniently formed of brass or other corrosion- -resistant material and which is threaded both internally and externally as shown. Placed against the outer surface of the fabric 36 is a clamping-washer 38 of brass or other suitable corrosion-resistant material which is clamped in place by means of a clamping-nut 39 threaded upon the threaded exterior of the valve-body 3i.
Threaded into the outer portion of the threaded interior of the valve-body 31, is a valve-closure generally designated by the reference character 40 and which is substantially of cup-shaped form. The said valve-closure 40 has a bottom wall H which is adapted to seat against a resilient sealing-ring 42 located in the valve-body 37. When so seated, the bottom wall 4I effectively seals an axial passage 43 in the inner portion of the valve-body 31. At its outer end, the valveclosure 40 is formed with an annular radiallyextending operating-flange 44 preferably having a knurled periphery to afford an effective antislip finger-grip.
Immediately above its bottom wall M the aforesaid valve-closure 40 is formed with a plurality of radial ports 45 through which gas, water, or any other fluid may new in either direction when the said valve-closure i's unscrewed to clear its bottom Wall M from the sealing-ring 42. To prevent the accidental loss of the valve-closure 40, should the same be fully unthreaded from the valve-body 31, a chain 46 is preferably employed to connect the same to the clamping-washer 38.
Each of the eight compartments inv the main tube I 0 is provided with a valve-structure 34, as is shown particularly well in Fig. 1. Likewise, each of the seat-supporting tubes I4 and I5 is provided with a valve-structure 34, as is also the secondary tube 24. Each of the compartments 28, 29 and 30 located intermediate the inner bottom I3 and the outer bottom 25 is provided with two valvestructures like 34 and respectively designated for purposes of convenience of'description as 340. and 34b.
The valve-structures 34b of each of the respective compartments 28, 29 and 39 may correspond in all respects to the valve-structure shown in Fig. 6 which is characterized by a very short protrusion into the particular compartment to which it is connected. 7 Each of the valve-structures 34a of the respective compartments 28, 29 and 30 are possessed of an added feature in the form of an inner hose 4'! connected to the axial passage 43 in a gasand water-tight manner. The lower end of each of the inner hoses 41 is open and is provided with a weight 48 which will serve to hold the open lower end of the inner hose upon the upper surface of the outer bottom 25, all for purposes as will hereinafter appear.
Adapted to be interchangeably threaded into the valve-closure 40 of each of the valves 34a above referred to, is the terminal-fitting 49 of an outer hose 50 having sufiicient length to reach from the particular valve-structure 34a to which itis connected over the top of the main tube l9 and into the sea, all for purposes as will hereinafter appear.
Usually the inflatable life raft will be carefully folded and packed while in a deflated condition in a suitable flexible container such as are now common in the art. When need arises for utilizing the raft, it is tossed overboard and is forced out of its container and at the same time the carbon dioxide or other suitable compressed gas is caused to flow into the interior of the secondary tube 24. The release of the carbon dioxide or its equivalent may be effected by means of a cord in the manner now common in the art.
The release of the inflating gas into the interior of the secondary tube 24 will be suflicient to inflate the same to substantial rigidity so that it assumes the outline and configuration shown in the drawings. When the secondary tube 24 is inflated as described, it will cause the main tube III, the seat-supporting tubes l4 and I6, and the fabric surrounding the compartments 28, 29 and 30 to assume substantially their normal position save that they will be uninflated. In the condition just described, the raft will be sufficient to support at least one person in its interior, and such person may immediately start to pump air into the eight different compartments in the main tube In until the same have the desired pressure therein to cause them to assume substantially the contours shown in the drawings. In effecting the inflation of the various compartments in the main tube 19, the person screws the terminal of a manually-operable air-pump into the threaded interior of the exposed valve-closure 40 of the appropriate valve-structure. By backing off or loosening the particular valve-closure, air may be forced into the chosen compartment. When a given compartment is suitably inflated, the valveclosure is screwed down upon the sealing-ring 42 whereupon the air-pump may be detached and connected in a like manner to the valve-structure 34 of another compartment. Either before or after inflation of the compartments in the main tube ID, the person may inflate the two seat-supporting tubes 14 and I6. By way of example, it has been found that a suitable relationship between the respective diameters of the main tube I0 and the secondary tube 24 are about a seventeen-inch diameter for the main tube and a fiveinch diameter for the secondary tube, though of course, these dimensions may be varied as desired.
After all of the eight compartments of the main tube In and the seat-supporting tubes l4 and I6 have been inflated, the raft is ready to receive its full quota of occupants. Under conditions where wind is high and rough seas prevail, the danger of capsizing of the raft under these conditions is substantially obviated by filling one or more of the compartments 28, 29 and 39 between the inner bottom l3 and outer bottom 25 with sea water. To effect the entrance of the ballast into any one of the said compartments 28, 29 and 30, an outer hose such as 50 may have its terminal-fitting 49 threaded into the valve-closure 40 of the appropriate valve-structure 34a. By loosening the valve-closure 49 from its sealing-ring 42 and extending the outer end of the outer tube 59 overboard over the adjacent side of the main tube l0, sea water may be syphoned into the chosen compartment. The complemental valve-structure 34b of the chosen compartment should, at the same time, have its valve-closure 40 loosened topermit the escape of air and the entry of water.
When one or more of the compartments 28, 29 and 36 in the bottom of the raft-structure are filled with water, a ballasting effect will be achieved which will stabilize the raft-structure and cause it to lie lower in the water under conditions where it is desired to expose only a minimum of the raft to wind-action as, for instance, when efforts are being made to sail the raftstructure in a direction not directly before-thewind. When winds are blowing in the direction favoring the desired direction of travel and it is desired to expose as much of the raft as possible to the action of such winds, ballast may be discharged from one or more of the compartments 28, 29 and 39 by connecting the outer hose 59, as shown in the drawings, and passing its outer end overboard. After loosening the valveclosure 40 of the valve-structure 34a to which the hose 59 is connected, air may be pumped into the particular compartment through the complemental valve-structure 34b. Under these conditions, the water will be forced by air pressure into the weighted lower end of the inner hose 41 up through the valve-structure and thence through the tube 50 into the sea.
After being inflated, the secondary tube 24 will serve to minimize side-drift and yawing.
One or more of the compartments 28, 29 and 30 may be utilized to store rain water for drinking purposes. terior of the raft-structure is not unduly coated with salt, rain water may be collected in the bottom of the raft and permitted to flow by gravity through one of the open valve-structures 34a or 341) into the chosen compartment such, for instance, as the central compartment 29. A conical sea anchor usually forms a portion of the equipment of inflatable life rafts and such sea anchor may be provided with a threaded apex to be screwed into the valve-closure 49 of the appropriate valve-structures 34a or 341). Under such conditions, the sea anchor may be utilized as a funnel through which rain water caught in tarpaulins and the like may be fed into the chosen compartment in the bottom of the raftstructure. Drinking water may be removed from the compartment in which it is stored in the same manner as that described in connection with the expulsion of sea water ballast.
Inasmuch as each of the eight compartments in the main tube 10, each of the compartments 28, 29 and 30 in the bottom of the raft-structure,
Under conditions wherein the inand each of the compartments within the seatsupporting tubes l4 and I6 are segregated each from the other and each is provided with one or more valve-structures by means of which it may be inflated, the perforation of a single compartment by bullets or by accident will not materially affect the floatability of the raft-structure as a whole. It is to be noted that the secondary tube 24 will be normally well below the water line and therefore relatively immune to perforation by bullets.
Due to the provision of the double bottom, suitably tied together, so as not to convex under pressure, a very comfortable resting place is provided within the raft upon which tired and wounded men may rest without being unduly disturbed by the slapping of. the waves, etc., against the bottom of the raft. The foregoing is especially true when the compartments 28, 29 and 30 are inflated with air, but a very measurable degree of comfort and cushioning action is afforded even though the said compartments be partially filled with water.
The invention may be carried out in other specific ways than those herein set forth without departing from the spirit and essential characteristics of the invention, and the present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, and all changes coming within the meaning and equivalency range of the appended claims are intended to be embraced therein.
1. An inflatable life raft, including in combination: an inflatable tubular side-wall portion and an inflatable double bottom; flexible partition-means dividing the space in the said double bottom into a plurality of independent unconnected compartments; an inlet valve-unitconnected to each of the compartments in the said double bottom for introducing fluid thereinto and at least one of the said compartments also having a complemental outlet valve-unit connected thereto and constructed and arranged to conduct water out of the compartment when gas is introduced thereinto through the inlet valve-unit thereof.
2. An inflatable life raft, including in combination: an inflatable tube of ring-like outline in plan and provided with means for the introduction of inflating gas therein; a flexible double bottom positioned to exclude water from flowing upwardly into the confines of the ring-like outline of the said tube, the said double bottom including flexible partition-means dividing the said double bottom into a plurality of unconnected compartments; an inlet valve-unit connected to each of the compartments in the said double bottom to provide for the introduction of fluid thereinto and at least one of the said compartments in the double bottom also having a complemental outlet valve-unit connected thereto and constructed and arranged to conduct water out of the compartment when gas is introduced thereinto through the inlet valve-unit thereof.
3. An inflatable life raft, including in combination: an inflated tubular side-wall portion and an inflatable double bottom portion; an inlet valveunit connected to the hollow interior of the said double bottom; and an outlet valve-unit also connected into the said double bottom in such position that when gas is forced into the double bottom through the said inlet valve-unit, water in the said double bottom may be forced outwardly through the said outlet valve-unit.
4. An inflatable life raft, including in combination: an inflatable tubular side-wall and an inflatable double bottom, the said double bottom including an inner bottom and an outer bottom spaced from each other in a vertical direction to provide a space therebetween; a first valve-unit installed in the inner bottom of the said double bottom; a second valve-unit also mounted in the said inner bottom and communicating with the space between the two said bottoms and constructed and arranged so that when gas is forced into the double bottom through the said first valve-unit, water may be forced outwardly therefrom through the other valve-unit; and a hose located within the said double bottom and connected at its upper end to the said second valveunit and having its lower end positioned adjacent the upper surface of the outer bottom of the said double bottom.
5. An inflatable life raft, including in combination: an inflatable tubular side-wall portion and an inflatable double-bottom portion comprising an upper-wall and a lower-wall; inlet-means for the introduction of inflating gas into the said side-wall portion; inlet-means leading from the upper-surface of the upper-wall of the said double-bottom portion into the interior of the said double-bottom portion; and outlet-means leading from a point adjacent the upper-surface of the lower-wall of the said double-bottom portion upwardly through the raft-structure to a point above the normal water-line thereof; whereby water may be expelled from within the said double-bottom portion through the said outlet- .means by the introduction of gas into the said double-bottom portion through the said inletmeans thereof.
JAMES A. WALSH.