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Publication numberUS3032788 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 8, 1962
Filing dateAug 3, 1960
Priority dateAug 3, 1960
Publication numberUS 3032788 A, US 3032788A, US-A-3032788, US3032788 A, US3032788A
InventorsLowther Jr Franklin D
Original AssigneeLowther Jr Franklin D
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Self-inflating life preserver
US 3032788 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

May 8, 1962 F. D. LOWTHER, JR

sELF-INFLATING LIFE PRESERVER 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Aug. 5, 1960 n64/wi l/l//l//ll//ll' [Ill/lll j l l/l l/ Llall Ilfo May 8, 1962 F. D. LOWTHER, .1R 3,032,788

sELF-INFLATING LIFE PRESERVER Filed Aug. 5, 1960 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 oww-HEP, JAP.

344 BY r )fl M ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,032,788 SELF-INFLATING LIFE PRESERVER Franklin D. Lowther, Jr., 2014 Smith St., Orange, Tex. Filed Aug. 3, 1960, Ser. No. 47,270 12 Claims. (Cl. 9-319) This invention relates to a novel construction of life preserver providing a compact unit which may be readily carried in a garment pocket, to be attached to a garment or attached directly around the body, to be conveniently accessible and available for use if needed.

More particularly, it is an object of the present 1nvention to provide an inexpensive compact unit of a semiautomatic nature which may be quickly released by a single manual operation whereupon a life preserver will thereafter be automatically inflated to provide a buoyant support for the user.

Still a further object of the invention is to provide a unit which may be very economically manufactured and sold and which therefore may and is intended to be disposed of after use.

Various other objects and advantages of the invention will hereinafter become more fully apparent from the following description of the drawings, illustrating presently preferred embodiments thereof, and wherein:

FIGURE 1 is a plan View of one form of the self-inflating life preserver;

FIGURE 2 is an enlarged longitudinal sectional view thereof, taken substantially along a plane as indicated by the line 2-2 of FIGURE l;

FIGURE 3 is an enlarged cross sectional view of the life preserver, taken substantially along a plane as indicated by the line 3-3 of FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 4 is a plan view, partly broken away, showing the preserver inated;

FIGURE 5 is a fragmentary horizontal sectional View of another embodiment of the self-inflatable life preserver, taken substantially along a plane as indicated by the line 5--5 of FIGURE 6;

FIGURE 6 is an enlarged longitudinal vertical sectional view of said self-inflatable life preserver, taken substantially along a plane as indicated by the line 6-6 of FIGURE 5;

FIGURE 7 is an enlarged cross sectional view thereof, taken substantially along a plane as indicated by the line 7--7 of FIGURE 5;

FIGURE 8 is an enlarged fragmentary longitudinal vertical sectional view, taken substantially along a plane as indicated by the line 8-8 of FIGURE 5;

FIGURE 9 is a plan View, partly in section, on a reduced scale relative to FIGURE 8, showing the life preserver inflated and ready for use, and

FIGURE l0 is an enlarged, fragmentary vertical sectional view, taken substantially along a plane as indicated by the line 10-10 of FIGURE 7.

Referring more specifically to the drawings, and first with reference to FIGURES l to 4, the self-intlating life preserver as illustrated therein is designated generally 12 and comprises an elongated capsule-like container 13 having a cylindrical side wall 14, an end wall 15 provided with a central opening 16, and a plug 17 for closing the opposite open end 18 of the body of the case. The case or container 13 is also provided adjacent each end of its cylindrical wall 14 with an integral outwardly projecting attaching loop 19, as seen in FIGURE 2.

A cup shaped plunger 20 is slidably mounted in the cylindrical body of the case 13 and is disposed therein with the open side thereof facing the end wall 15. The end wall 21 of the plunger 20 is dished inwardly thereof to provide a recess opening toward the plug 17. A stern 22 projects from the central portion of the inner convex side of the end wall 21 and extends to beyond the open end of the plunger 20 through the opening 16 and outwardly a short distance from the end wall 15. The stern 22 is preferably formed integral with the plunger 20 and has an annular groove formed in a portion thereof, as seen at 23 in FIGURE 2, to receive a ring gasket 24.

. The stem 22 is provided with a transverse bore 25, dis- Acompression spring 27 is loosely mounted within the plunger 20 and around the stem 22 and is held under compression between the end wall 15 and they end wall 21 of the plunger by the pin 26 engaging through the bore 25, as seen in FIGURE 2.

The plug or closure 17 has a cup shaped portion 28 which ts detachably in the open end 18 and which is of a size so that a limited clearance is provided between the cylindrical wall 14 and the portion 28. The portion 28 has an annular outwardly opening groove 29 which aligns with an annual inwardly opening groove 30 of the wall 14, when the plug 17 is applied, and a ring gasket 31 engages said grooves 29 and 30 and combines with the plug for sealing the open end 18. The gasket 24 engages the bore 16 when the stem 22 is held in said bore by the pin 26, to seal the bore 16, so that the interior of the case 13 forms a watertight chamber 32 for conopen end or neck 35. A cup shaped closure 36 fits snugly in the neck 35 and is secured therein by a cord 37 which is wrapped tightly and tied around the part of the neck 35 which surrounds the closure 36. A recess or cup 38 of the closure 36 opens inwardly of the sack 33 and contains in the inner end thereof a tack or headed spike 319, the head of which may be secured against the inner end of the socket 38 by an adhesive 40. A tapered prong 41 of the tack 39 is embedded in a block 42 of a soft cushioning material, such as sponge rubber, which is seated in the socket 38. The assembled parts 33-42 are inserted into the case 13 through its open end 18 so that the end of the sack 33, which surrounds a substantially hemispherical bottom end 43 of the cartridge 34, will seat in the recess of the plunger end wall 21, as illustrated in FIGURE 2, and when thus disposed, a restricted opposite end wall 44 of the cartridge will be disposed in the socket 38 and against the cushioning block 42. The cord 37 has unsecured ends extending from its tied and wrapped portion, which ends 45 are tied to the loop 19 located adjacent the open end 18, after which the plug 17 is applied to complete the sealing of the chamber 32. The sack neck 35 and its closure 36 seat within the cup shaped closure portion 28, as clearly seen in FIGURE 2.

With the life preserver 12 thus assembled, it may be Y attached to a swimming garment or other garment of the user by safety pins through one or both of the loops 19 or may be attached by a cord or strap around the body of the user and which is secured to the loops 19. When an emergency arises requiring use of the life preserver, as

17 by the pressure of the Vcompressed spring 27 to initially drive the cartridge 34 from right to left toward the closures 36 and 17 so that the end wall 44, which is adapted to be readily punctured, will compress the block 42 allowing the spike '41 to rupture said end wall 44. The spring 27 has suicient force to thereafter drive the plug 17 out of the case end 18, after which the sack 33, containing thev Patented May 8, 1962- cartridge `34, is ejected by the plunger 20` from said open case end f18. These operations are accomplished almost lnstantaneously and before the compressed gas escaping from the cartridge 34 .through its ruptured end wall 44 can inate the sack 33. The complete inflation of the sack 33, as seen in FIGURE 4, requires about one minute. When inflated, the sack l33 is of suicient size and has sufficient buoyancy to readily support an adult in the water. 'Ihe cord ends 45 are preferably tied to the loop 19, as previously described, so that the sack 33 containing the cartridge `34 cannot be propelled out of reach of the user when ejected from the case 13. The life preserver 12 in addition to affording protection to a person carrying the preserver, also enables such a person, of ordinary swimming ability, to safely rescue a drowning person with the assistance of the inflatable sack 33.

The case 13, plunger 20, pin 26 and closure 36 are preferably formed of plastic, since the preserver 12 is only intended to be used once andv then disposed of, as said preserver can be very economically manufactured and sold. After it has served its purpose, the harmless carbon dioxide gas can be released from the inflated sack v33 by puncturing said sack.

FIGURES to l0 illustrate a slightly different form of the life preserver, designated generally 46 and including a case 47 and a plunger, designated generally 48.

The life preserver 46 utilizes an inflatable sack 33' which is longer than the sack 33 and which has two restricted open ends G5' each of which contains an inwardly opening closure 36' which is secured therein by a light strong cord 37' which `is wrapped and tied there-around and which has a single unsecured end 45'. The inwardly opening cup shaped closures 36', like the closure 36, each contain a headed spike or tack 39' and a block of cushioning material 42' and which parts are arranged in the closures 36' in the same manner as the parts 39 and 42, respectively, are disposed in the closure 36, as previously described. Each end portion of the sack 33 contains a cartridge 34', corresponding to the cartridge 34, and having a restricted end wall 44' arranged to project into the socket of the adjacently disposed closure 36'.

The case 47, as best illustrated in FIGURES 6 and 7, includes a bottom section 49 and a top section or closure 50. The bottom section 49 has a substantially flat bottom wall 51, upwardly extending end walls 52 and 53, and upwardly extending side walls 54 which are joined with said end walls 52 and 53, as best seen in FIGURE 5. The upper edges of the walls l52, 513 and 54 are disposed coplanar and are provided with a continuous upwardly opening groove 55 containing a sealing gasket 56, as best seen in FIGURE 10. The bottom 51 has an opening 57, located approximately at the center thereof. The top section or closure 50 includes a top wall 58, depending end Walls 59 and depending side walls 60, all of which yare integrally connected. Said walls 59 and 60- have coplanar bottom edges provided with a continuous depending tongue 61 which ts snugly in the groove 55 and against the sealing gasket 56 when the bottom edges of the walls 59 and 60 rest ush upon the upper edges of the Walls 52, 53 and `54, as illustrated in FIGURES 6, 7 and 10.

A pin or stem 62 is preferably formed integral with and extends downwardly from the underside of the top wall 58, in alignment with the opening 57, and has a restricted end 63 sized to extend through and t snugly in the opening 57. The portion `63 has an annular groove 64 containing a sealing ring 65 which engagesrandseals the Wall of the opening 57 when the closure 50 is in a Ifully applied position, as seen in FIGURES 6 and 7.

The plunger 48 rests slidably upon the upper side of the bottom 51 and has an opening 66 which aligns with the opening 57 to receive a part of the restricted portion 63 of the pin 62. A guide stem 67 is formed integral with a part of the plunger 48 and extends therefrom toward the end Wall 52 and is disposed to align with a short guide stern 68, which is formed integral with and projects from the inner side of the end wall 52. A compression spring' 69 loosely engages the guide stems 67 and 68 and is held compressed between the wall 52 and plunger 48` when the plunger is secured to the bottom 51 by the pin 62.

As best seen in FIGURE 8, the plunger 48 has transversely spaced sockets or recesses 70 which open toward the wall 53, in each of which is received an e'n'd 35' containing a closure 36', and so that the two cartridges 34' are disposed parallel to one another and` between the plunger 48 and the end wall 53, with the cartridge end walls 44 disposed in the closures '36 and the opposite rounded end walls 43T thereof located adjacent the wall 53. The plunger 48 has integral frangible fingers 71 extending therefrom toward the casing wall 53, from around the recesses 70 and which engage loosely around the parts of the sack 33' in which the cartridges '34' are contained. Three of the fingers 71 are associated with each recess 70 -for holding the cartridges 34' substantially parallel to one another and to the side walls 54, as best illustrated in FIGURE 5. The intermediate portion of the collapsed or non-inflated sack 33' is turned back from the end portions thereof, containing the cartridges 34', and occupies the upper part of the interior of the case 47, around the pin 62, as seen in `FIGURES 6 and 7.

An abutment member 72 extends upwardly from the bottom 51 between the plunger 48 and end walls 53 and has a ange 73 extending Vfrom an upper part thereof and under which a part of the plunger `48 slidably tits and which functions to hold the plunger 48 slidably against the bottom 51. A compression spring 74 is disposed loosely on the pin 62 and is compressed between the top Wall 58 and plunger 48 by a pull pin 75 which bears against the underside of the bottom 51 and extends detachably through a transverse bore 76 of the pin portion 63, to maintain the casing sections 49 and `50 connected as `shown in FIGURES 6 and 7 and with the chamber 77, formed thereby, sealed against the entrance of moisture -by the sealing gaskets `56 and 65. The case 47 is provided with attaching loops 78 for the same purpose as the loops 19 and which project from the end Walls 52 and 53, to below the bottom 51.

The casing 47, including the parts 62, 68, 72, 73 and 78 may be formed of plastic, and the parts 48, 67, 71 and 36' may llikewise be formed of plastic in order that the life preserver 46 may be inexpensively manufactured for use only once, like the preserver 12. The life preserver 46 is somewhat larger than the life preserver 1'2 but sufciently small so that it can be conveniently attached to a garment or around a persons body -or readily carried in a garment pocket. To utilize the preserver 46, the pull pin 75 is extracted from the retaining pin 62. The spring 74 has sufficient force to then expel the closure 50 from the .bottom case section 49, and in so doing the pin portion 63 is extracted from the openings 57 and 66 to thus release the plunger 48. When the plunger 48 is released, the spring 69 `.forcibly drives said plunger towardthe end wall 53. Initial movement of the plunger 48 causes the cartridges 34' to move therewith until the portions of the sack 33 engaging around the cartridge ends 43 engage the Wall 53. After this slight travel, further movement of the cartridges 34' with the plunger 48 is prevented so that the plunger `48 and closures 39' thereafter move relative to the cartridges 34' to cause the tacks or spikes 39 to rupture the cartridge end walls 44'. The abutment 72 limits the extent of movement of the plunger '48 under the action of the spring 69.

The compressed gas escaping through the ruptured end walls 44' will inflate the sack 33 and as said sack is inflated and expanded it will press against and snap o the frangible ngers 71 so that the end portions of the sack in which the cartridges 34' are contained can swing upwardly and be thereby detached from the casing section 49. The inflated sack 33', as illustrated in FIGURE 9, is preferably of a length to fit substantially around'the body of an adult and may be secured therearound by tieing together the cord ends 4S to provide a self-inflated life preserver which is more than adequate to support a large adult in the Water. The inated sack 33 can be deated and disposed of after use and in the same manner aslthe intiated sack 33. Sacks 33 and 33 may be formed of any suitable flexible material which is impervious to air.

Various other modifications and changes are contemplated and may be resorted to, without departing from the function or scope of the invention as hereinafter defined by the appended claims.

I claim as my invention:

1. A self-inflating life preserver comprising an inflatable sack having an open end, a closure disposed in and sealing said open end, a cartridge containing a compressed gas disposed in said sack in alignment with the closure and having a frangible end wall, said closure being rigid and dening an inwardly opening socket located internally of the sack in which said frangible end wall is received, a piercing element supported by said closure Within said socket, a case containing the deilated sack in which said closure and cartridge are contained, a plunger slidably mounted in said case, said case having a portion between which and the plunger the aligned cartridge and closure are disposed, a compression spring bearing against a part of the case and said plunger for urging the plunger toward said case portion, and a retaining pin engaging through a part of the plunger and contacting a part of the case -for retaining the plunger against movement toward said case portion and for hold- `ing said spring compressed, said pin being disengageable from the plunger to permit the plunger to be propelled by the spring toward the closure, cartridge and case portion whereby said closure is telescoped onto a part of the cartridge for causing the piercing element to rupture said frangible end Wall to release the compressed gas from the cartridge to inflate said sack.

2. A self-inflating life preserver as in claim 1, said case portion comprising a closure which is forcibly ejected yfrom the case by movement of the plunger in advance of said sack containing the previously ruptured cartridge.

3. A self-inating life preserver as in claim 1, said retaining pin being carried by a detachable part of the case which is removed by disengagement of said pin from the plunger to expose the inilatable sack.

4. A self-inilating life preserver as in claim 1, and means sealing said case to provide a moisture-proof chamber in which said inflatable sack is contained.

5. A self-inflating life preserver as in claim 1, and a mass of a compressible material in which a part of said piercing element is embedded and against which said frangible end wall bears for holding said frangible end wall out of contact with the piercing element prior to release of the plunger, said compressible mass being frictionally retained in the closure socket and, in combination with the closure, providing a support for the piercing element.

6. A self-inflating life preserver as in claim 1, said case portion comprising a closure which is forcibly ejected from the case in advance of said sack containing the previously ruptured cartridge by movement of the plunger, said case being cylindrical and having an open end closed by said last mentioned closure, said last mentioned closure comprising a plug having an inwardly opening cup shaped portion in which the sack end containing said sack closure is received.

7. A self-inflating life preserver as in claim 6, said plunger having a stem extending slidably through an end wall of the case disposed opposite said plug and constituting said case part against which the spring bears, and said retaining pin engaging detachably through said stern, constituting said plunger part, and bearing against the outer side of said end Wall which constitutes the case part contacted by said pin.

8. A self-inating life preserver as in claim 7, said plunger being cup shaped to accommodate said spring and a part of said stem and having an end Wall dished in a direction facing away from the stem in which a part of the sack, surrounding an opposite end of the cartridge, seats.

9. A self-inating life preserver as in claim 8, a cord secured around said open sack end and securing the sack closure therein, said case having at least one externally disposed attaching loop, and an extension of said cord being secured to said loop to retain the sack tethered to the case after being ejected therefrom by the plunger.

10. A self-inating life preserver as in claim 1, said case including a bottom section in which said plunger is slidably mounted, said bottom section and plunger having aligned openings through which said retaining pin extends and constituting the plunger part and case part engaged by said pin, said case including a detachable cover to which said retaining pin is secured, a compression spring interposed between the plunger and cover for detaching the cover from the case and for disengaging the retaining pin from the plunger, and a pull pin disposed externally of the case and engaging through a part of said retaining pin for holding the retaining pin in engagement with said aligned openings.

.11. A self-inating life preserver as in claim 10, said sack having a second open end provided with a corresponding sack closure containing a piercing element and in which the frangible end of a second cartridge is received, said plunger having sockets in which said sack closures are received.

12. A self-inflating life preserver as in claim 1l, and frangible fingers projecting from said plunger and engaging around the sack portions in which the cartridges are contained for retaining said cartridges in alignment with the plunger sockets.

References Cited in the iile of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,687,541 Bannister Aug. 31, 1954 2,701,886 Ivie Feb. 15, 1955 2,786,599 Higbee Mar. 26, 1957 2,840,833 Fruendt July 1, 1958 FOREIGN PATENTS 792,381 Great Britain Mar. 26, 1958 UNI'IED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent N0. 3,032, 788 May 8,` 1962 Franklin D., Lowther, Jr.,

It ie hereby certified that error appears in the above numbered patent requiring correction and that the seid Lettere Patent should read as corrected below.

In the grant, lines l to 3, for "Franklin D, Lowther, Jr. of Orange, Texas," read Franklin Do Lowther, Jr., of Orange, Texas, assigner to Franklin D. Lowther, Jr. and Honor B. Lowther, both of Orange, Texas, as joint tenants, line l2, for "Franklin D. Lowther, Jr. his heirs" read Franklin D."Lowther, Jr., and Honor Bo Lowther, heirs in the heading to the printed specification, line 3, for "Franklin D. Lowther, Jr. 2014 Smith St. Orange, Tex." read Franklin D. Lowther, Jr. Orange, Texn assigner to Franklin D. Lowther, Jr. and Honor B.

Lowther, both of Orange, Tex., as joint tenants -G Signed and sealed this 21st day of August 1962n (SEAL) Attest:

ESTON G. JOHNSON DAVID L. LADD Attesting Officer Commissioner of PatentsL

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2687541 *Mar 31, 1950Aug 31, 1954Bannister BryantApparatus for refloating submerged objects
US2701886 *Apr 17, 1952Feb 15, 1955Milton W IvieSelf-inflating life preserver
US2786599 *Nov 1, 1954Mar 26, 1957Herbert H HigbeeAutomatic inflating device for life preservers
US2840833 *Nov 26, 1954Jul 1, 1958Fruendt Adel JAutomatically actuated flotation device
GB792381A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3173162 *Apr 15, 1963Mar 16, 1965Jr George H ElderLife saving appliance with inflatable bag
US3285469 *Oct 26, 1964Nov 15, 1966Pierre PerisseSafety pressure-reducing device for gas cylinders under pressure and its applicationto a spray apparatus
US3935608 *Jan 2, 1974Feb 3, 1976Raymonde FreedmanArticle of clothing
US3972447 *Jan 2, 1976Aug 3, 1976Fegley Charles RFluid dispensing anti-burglar device
US4079862 *Apr 1, 1976Mar 21, 1978Fegley Charles RChemical dispensing anti-burglary booby trap device
US4498604 *Jul 26, 1982Feb 12, 1985Mackal Glenn HAutomatic inflator
US4800835 *Mar 10, 1988Jan 31, 1989Radarfind, Inc.Locator device
US6164239 *Jul 14, 1999Dec 26, 2000Dawson; Pearlene N.Location identification balloon system
DE1240756B *Oct 8, 1962May 18, 1967Daniel O DavisRettungsschwimmgeraet
U.S. Classification441/93, 222/5
International ClassificationB63C9/19, B63C9/00
Cooperative ClassificationB63C9/24
European ClassificationB63C9/24