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Publication numberUS3092854 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 11, 1963
Filing dateSep 10, 1959
Priority dateSep 10, 1959
Publication numberUS 3092854 A, US 3092854A, US-A-3092854, US3092854 A, US3092854A
InventorsCharles E Manhart
Original AssigneeCharles E Manhart
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Life raft
US 3092854 A
Abstract  available in
Images(4)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

June 11, 1963 c. E. MANHART 3,092,854

LIFE RAFT Filed Sept. 10, 1959 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 FIG. 1.

INVENTOR CHARLES E. MAN HART ATTORNEY June 11, 1963 c. E. MANHART LIFE RAFT 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Sept. 10, 1959 FIG.5.

INVENTOR.

CHARLES E. MAN HART ATTORNEY June 11, 1963 c. E. MANHART 3,092,854

LIFE RAFT .F'iled Sept. 10, 1959 4 Sheets-Sheet 5 FIGS.

I 00 95 96 INVENTOR.

CHARLES E. MAN HART ATTORN E f June 11, 1963 c. E. MANHART LIFE RAFT 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed Sept. 10, 1959 mm A mH N mm m. E S E L R A H c ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,092,854 LEE RAFT Charles E. Manhart, 3133 W. 25th Terrace, Miami, Fla. Filed Sept. 10, 1959, Ser. No. 839,165 2 Claims. (Cl. 911) This invention relates to life rafts and more particularly to life rafts designed to be carried in air and other types of craft and which are designed to be inflated for use for survival at sea in the event of a crash or forced landing or other conditions in which occupants of the craft may be required to abandon the same.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a relatively light weight readily inflatable raft structure which is capable of carrying and of supporting a maximum number of persons and of affording protective shelter to the same.

Rafts of the general type to which the present invention relates are frequently of an open type and are provided with some form of canopy structure which can be set up by occupants thereof, but such protective structure has to be assembled and put in plaw by the occupants after they board the raft. The disadvantage associated with this type of raft lies in the fact that conditions may be such that an occupant or occupants thereof, after succeeding in getting into the raft, may not be capable of setting up the protective covering and accordingly it is an object of the present invention to provide a life raft of an inflatable type which is constructed so that a protective shelter or canopy will be automatically raised over the bottom part of the raft simultaneously with the in fiation of the latter after the raft has been cast adrift.

In crashes of air craft at sea or in other circumstances where occupants of a water borne or air borne craft may have to abandon the craft, it often happens that an appreciable time passes before a rescue is effected and during this time, even though there may be squalls accompanied by precipitation, the raft occupants may not have facilities for catching water and thus be deprived of the same for considerable time. Accordingly it is another object of the invention to provide in a life raft of this type a means for collecting any rain which may fall onto the raft and for conducting the collected rain water into the interior of the canopied raft for use by the occupants.

Another condition which frequently develops in the use of life rafts is that sea water gets into the raft and the occupants thereof are thus compelled, oftentimes for several days, to sit in the water collected therein which causes great discomfort. Accordingly it is another object of the invention to provide an inflatable raft which is equipped with an inflatable deck or mattress designed to fit the interior of the raft structure and rest upon the bottom thereof so that the occupants will be supported above any water which may get into the raft and wherein such deck or mattress is formed with a central opening or well by means of which water may be bailed out or removed from beneath the deck.

Another object of the invention is to provide in an inflatable life raft a body or huil portion having an inflatable superstructure forming a sheltering canopy and wherein the top portion of such shelter or canopy is iinperforate but of a transparent material which gives protection against the elements and at the same time permits the occupants of the raft to look skyward and maintain a lookout for rescue air craft and which transparent structure also permits the admission of light into the interior of the protecting shelter.

As hereinbefore stated, the necessity frequently arises for occupants of life rafts to collect rain water for drinking when the supply which may be initially taken onto the raft is exhausted and accordingly it is another object Patented June 11, 1963 of this invention to provide such a raft with a depressed top or roof in the sheltering superstructure which is designed to function as a collection basin or reservoir for rain water, together with means whereby the occupants may drain off the collected water into the interior of the structure, as desired.

A still further object of the invention is to provide in a raft structure of the character described a means for ballasting the body or hull so that the raft will maintain a level position upon the water at all times regardless of the shifting of weight within the raft.

The foregoing and other objects which will appear hereinafter can be realized by an embodiment of the invention which has a body or hull in the form of an endless inflatable and deflatable tube with a deck or floor secured thereacross in a plane approximately tangential to the bottom side of the tube for supporting survivors thereon. A superstructure carried by the body or hull is characterized by a number of upwardly extending and inwardly inclined tubular stanchions which join at their top ends with a tubular ring and the inflatable and deflatable body tube is in communication through at least one of the tubular stanchions with the tubular ring at the top ends thereof whereby inflating gas introduced into the body or hull tube will enter the stanchions and the ring to simultaneously fill and inflate the same, thereby automatically raising the superstructure in a position of use.

The superstructure further includes wall fabric connecting the body or hull with the inflatable top ring and this wall fabric is drawn out substantially taut as the superstructure takes form under inflation. The top ring is closed by a transparent roof-forming diaphragm which is secured thereacross near the lowermost part of side of the ring, thereby providing a water collecting well or reservoir and means is provided whereby water collected therein can be withdrawn by occupants of the raft.

The bottom part of the body or hull has suspended therefrom a number of collapsible or foldable receptacles which are adapted to be filled with water when the raft is afloat, to function as ballasting means.

Other features of advantage appear hereinafter.

In the drawings:

FIG. *1 is a view in perspective of a raft constructed in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention showing the same fully set up for use and illustrating a door flap rolled up;

FIG. 2 is a view in perspective of the raft structure minus the wall forming material and illustrating the inflata ole stanchions and also showing among other details and partially broken away the inflatable deck resting upon the floor of the body;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view looking upwardly at the underside of the top ring of the housing or superstructure showing the transparent window or diaphragm and the means for covering the same;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view on an enlarged scale taken substantially on the line 44 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view substantially on the line 5-5 of FIG. 2 with the inflatable deck removed;

FIG. 6 is a bottom plan view of the raft structure showing the ballast receptacles one of which has the bottom thereof broken away and showing the underside of the boarding step;

FIG. 7 is a transverse sectional view taken in a vertical plane substantially on the line 77 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 8 is a sectional detail taken substantially on the line 8-8 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view on an enlarged scale taken substantially on the line 99 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 10 is a perspective detail of the underside of the boarding step;

closing the equalizer tube;

FIG. 12. is an exploded view showing one form of releasable connection between the lanyard connecting the raft with a craft from which it has been jettisoned and the means for opening the receptacle secured to the raft and carrying inflating gas for the raft;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view illustrating another form of releasable connection.

Referring now more particularly to the drawings, the present inflatable raft shown fully set up in FIG. 1 is generally designated :10.

The numeral 12- designates in a general way the body or hull portion of the raft while the numeral 14 generally designates the superstructure or protective housing thereabove and supported thereon.

The body or hull 12 is in the form of an endless tube of rubber which while it may be in the form of a ring or annulus, preferably is divided up into a number of short straight sections 16 which are joined together to give to the hull body a polygonal outline as most clearly 'number of compartments by spaced partitions or bulk heads and in the present illustration of the structure two of such bulkheads are shown and indicated by the reference numeral 18 and these bulkheads are placed diametrically opposite one another as shown in FIG. 6. However, the number of bulkheads may be increased in accordance with the increase in size of the structure and accordingly it is to be understood that in showing only two thereof, there is no intention to limit the invention to the use of this number.

These dividing structures or bulkheads 18 are of conical form and are cemented or otherwise secured in place within their respective sections of the tubula'r body.

The numeral 20 designates the floor or main deck of the raft and this, as shown in FIGS. 5, 7 and 8, is secured around its periphery as at 22 to the lowermost or bottom part of the tubular body, in a plane which is substantially tangential to the tubular body whereby the interior of the raft is given a substantial depth.

The tubular body or hull 12 is provided around its exterior with hand hold or life line moorings 24 to which is attached the life line 26 which encircles the body or hull and is attached to these moorings in the manner 11- lu strated. The line '26 at intervals is also looped to form the hand holds 28 and these hand ho-ld loops may be partially encased by a tubular covering 30 to prevent the line from cutting the hand grasping the loop.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the life line 26 is discontinuous and the end portions. thereof are spaced apart outer sidethereofthe boarding step which is generally designated 3-1. V

The boarding step 31 comprises the relatively wide step tread32 which has secured to the opposite ends thereof the triangular webs 33 and each of these webs merges at its top or apex portion with a band 34 which lies against and over the curved surface of the hull body section 16' and is cemented or otherwise firmly secured thereon. The top ends of the bands 34 are fixed to anchoring patches 35. Thus it will be seen that the end portions 33 of the step tread, together with the tread, will hang so that there will be no interference with the folding of the entire raft structure when the latter is deflated and due to the novel arrangement of the tread and suspension means ,therefor when the raft is inflated, the step will assume its tendency to lateral movement when the raft is inflated, a

securing patch 32 is joined to the bottom of the step 4 tread and to the adjacent surface of the wall of the tubular hull, as illustrated in FIG. 6.

Extending across between the patches 35 at the top of the step structure is a hand hold 36 in the form of a rope having its ends only secured to the body portion.

The hull body has secured to the outer side thereof a stowage means, generally designated 37, for a cylinder 33 of compressed CO gas for use in inflating the raft. This stowage means for the gas cylinder is of conventional form, comprising a pair of flaps 39 between which the cylinder is placed and which are drawn together over the cylinder by lacing 49. The discharge end of the cylinder is connected with a conventional cylinder opening mechanism generally designated 4d whereby gas may be introduced through a connection 42 into the tubular hull body when the opening mechanism is actuated.

The mechanism 41 has connected therewith a releasable connection 43 which at one end is joined to a cord 44 while the other end is joined to a lanyard 45. This releasable connection is shown in one form in FIG. 12 and it comprises two strap members 46 and 47 which are joined in parallel overlapping relation'by snap buttons 48. One end of the strap 46 is connected with the cord 44, as shown, while the opposite end thereof is turned back upon itself to form the pull loop 49. The strap 47 has one end connected as illustrated, to the lanyard 45 while the opposite end remains free except for the connection of the same by the snap buttons 48 to the strap 46.

It will be understood by those familiar with the art that the release of the compressed gas from the cylinder 38 into the tubular hull body can be effected by giving a sharp pull or jerk to the lanyard 45 and after the raft is set up and been boarded by the survivors, disconnection of the raft from the lanyard and the ship or craft to which it was attached can be effected by pulling the loop 49 of the strap 46 to thereby separate the straps 46 and 47.

The bulkheads 18 are'formed of flexible material and are non-planar in cross section, preferably cone-shaped, as shown in dotted outline in FIG. 6. This cone shape or formation is preferred in order to better withstand pressure and to equalize the volumes and pressures in adjacent compartments. It has been found that this nonplanar, coned, curved or bowed bulkhead formation satisfactorily withstands breaking in the event that a portion of the tubular body becomes punctured between the bulkheads, even when muchgreater pressure is applied to one side of the bulkhead than to the other.

When the compressed gas from the cylinder 39 is released into the tubular hull body, the gas is carried from one chamber to another across intervening bulkheads by means of equalizer tubes 50. Each of these equalizer tubes is located across a bulkhead and is secured upon the outer side of the hull body in the manner shown in FIG. 2. As hereinbefore stated, the present illustration of the raft structure includes only two bulkheads 18 and accordingly only two equalizer tubes are shown, but it will be understood that rafts of a size where a larger number of bulkheads are employed will have an equal number of the equalizer tubes. Each of these equalizer tubes 5t comprises a short flexible tubular body as illustrated in FIG. 9 from the underside of which extend the two coupling nipples 51 one end of each nipple being suitably cemented in an opening in the equalizer tube body while the other end of the'nipple is cemented in an opening in the wall of the hull, with the adjacent bulkhead located therebetween; The two ends of the equalizer tube aremade partially conical as indicated at 52 whereby to effect faster tube inflation of the entire raft structure.

After the raft structure has been inflated, the equalizer tubes are clamped off, as illustrated in FIG. 11. A suitable type of clamp for this purpose, which is adapted to be easily and quickly applied to the tube and whereby to compress the tube so as to shut off communication between the nipples 51, is embodied in a foldable unit as most clearly shown in FIG. 11, where the clamp is generally designed 53 and as will be seen in this figure, it embodies two fiat elongate rigid members 54 which are joined together at one end by a fabric hinge 55. The clamping members or hinged parts 54 have at their opposite ends the eye openings 56 and a cord 57 is passed through the openings after the equalizer tube has been inserted between the parts 54, and the parts are then drawn tightly together whereby to compress the equalizer tube therebetween as indicated at 50' whereupon the cord is tied securely.

In FIG. 2 the equalizer tube clamps are shown in open position with the cord 57 extending through the two parts ready to be tied after the clamp parts have been compressed against or onto the tube.

The superstructure which forms the housing or shelter for the raft comprises :broadly a number of upwardly and inwardly inclined stanchions 58, a tubular top 59 and a fabric wall 60. The stanchions are secured to the top of the tubular hull body as illustrated at 61 and at least one thereof, designated 58, opens into or has communication with the tubular hull body as indicated at 62, in FIG. 8. The top of the housing or canopy is also tubular as shown and each of the stanchions opens thereinto, the stanchion 58 in FIG. 8 being shown opening into the tubular top body at 63. Each of the other stanchions, of course, also communicates with the tubular top body as stated. Thus it will be seen that when the gas from the cylinder is introduced into the tubular hull body it will inflate this body and flow through the stanchion 58' into the tubular top 59 and from there into each of the other stanchions so that the superstructure will .be quickly and automatically erected.

The fabric wall 60 covers the outer sides of the stanchions 58 and may 'be formed in a single piece or in a number of individual panels 64 and the bottom edge of the fabric wall is cemented to the tubular hull while the top edge is cemented to and around the tubular top 59. One or more door openings 65 is provided in the wall fabric and the portion of the fabric which is removed from the remainder of the wall to provide the door opening is kept integral with the upper part of the panel from which it is taken so that it may be rolled up as indicated at 66 when it is desired to keep the opening clear. Thus this rolled up portion 66 forms a door panel and when it is in down or closed position its longitudinal edges are joined to the adjacent edges of the door opening by a slide fastener 67, such as the type known in the trade as a Zipper.

In addition to the door opening or openings which may be closed down tightly to prevent the entrance of rain and seas, sections of the canopy Wall may have window openings 67 formed therein with provision for closing the same against rain and also provision for screening the opening as illustrated at 68. While no illustration has been made of the means for closing the window opening 67, it will be obvious that such opening may be closed by a slide fastener in the same r zmner as the door opening 65 is closed and for covering the window openings with screening, such screening may be secured around its edges to the edge of the window opening by any suitable device such as snap fasteners or the like.

The top tubular body 59 is in the form of an annulus or it may have a polygonal outline corresponding to the polygonal outline of the tubular hull body and this annulus is closed by a panel structure which is generally designated 69 and the details of which are illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4.

The panel 69 comprises an annular band 70 the outer edge portion of which is secured as indicated at 71 to the lower inner side of the tubular top body 59. Joined to the inner edge of the annular band 70 is a disc 72 of a 6 suitable transparent flexible material, preferably a transparent plastic of suitable thickness to withstand rolling and one which will not be aifected by rain or sea Water. The periphery of this transparent disc is joined in a watertight seal at 73 to the inner edge portion or inner periphery of the annular band 70.

The inner edge or peripheral portion of the band 73 also has secured thereto between the band and the transparent disc one of the two parts of a slide fastener, such part being designated 74, as there is provided a curtain 75 of disc form adapted to cover the inner or underside of the transparent disc 72 which forms a window and the periphery of this disc or circular curtain carries through the major extent of its periphery the other portion of the slide fastener which is designated 76. The curtain 75 is permanently attached to the inner edge of the annular band 70 along a small part of its periphery so that it always remains in position, whether it is spread out and secured in covering position under the disc 72 or whether it is rolled up as shown in FIG. 3.

By positioning the panel 69 near the bottom part of and within the annular tubular body 59, there is provided a basin 77 adapted to catch rain water for the benefit of persons in the raft.

In order to facilitate persons in the raft extracting any water which may be collected in the basin 77 the annular band 70 has attached thereto and opening therethrough one end of a short tube 78 which hangs down from the panel and carries on its lower end a conventional type of valve 79 commonly used in life saving apparatus and which is generally known as an oral valve.

The top outer side of the shelter or canopy is provided with a signal light 80 and on the inner side of the stanchion nearest thereto there is secured in a suitable waterproof container 81 a battery or batteries which are connected by Wiring run through a water-tight tube 82 to the light 80. The circuit in which the battery or batteries and light are connected is adapted to be closed by a suitable bottom 83 or other suitable means accessible from the interior of the housing. Obviously it will be understood that all of the parts of this electrical mechanism are enclosed in a water-tight shielding means so that no short circuiting can occur. While the same is not illustrated, it will be understood that a similar light may be installed on the inner side of the annular top 59 with means for energizing it so that occupants of the raft can have desired illumination.

Accessible from the interior of the canopy or housing structure are hand holds in the form of short ropes or cords suitably secured to the tubular hull body such as are indicated at 84, these being located along the inner sides of the equalizer tubes 50'.

Means is provided for stabilizing the raft structure by the provision of a number of bags or receptacles 85 which are secured to the bottom side of the tubular hull body at equi-distantly spaced locations therearound. These receptacles, when the raft is inflated and is in the Water, will be suspended from the underside of the hull and one Wall of each receptacle has an opening 86 therein which will permit it to fill with water. Thus as the raft rocks or tilts, the water-filled ballast bags will tend to prevent it from pitching or rolling too violently.

To facilitate the dumping of the ballast bags if such may be required, a cord 87 is provided which is attached to the bottom of the ballast bag in a suitable manner, as by patch 85', see FIG. 6, and extended out through the opening 86 and secured to the life line 26 as shown in FIG. 1.

To provide maximum comfort for persons occupying the raft, there is provided an inflatable deck generally designated 88 which is of a contour to fit within the hull body and rest upon the permanent deck portion 20 of the body. This inflatable deck or inflatable mattress comprises top and bottom layers of waterproof material joined together around the peripheries thereof as at 89 7 with a plurality of intermerdiate "connecting elements 90 which, when the deck is inflated, give the same a tufted form. The sheets 88 are centrally apertured and have the inner edges joinedas at 91 whereby there is provided vides a means whereby water may be readily bailed out,

so that the occupants will not have to lie or sit therein.

In FIG. 13 there is illustrated another form of releas able connection which may be used betweenthe raft and the craft from which it is thrown. In this form of releasable connection straps which are connected one to the lanyard and the other to the gas releaseivalve of the CO cartridge or cylinder are designated respectively 94 and 95. The two straps 94 and 95 are detachably connected by snap buttons 96 and the strap 95 is shown with the hand hold loop 97 corresponding to the loop 49. The strap or connection between the strap 95 and the valve of the gas cylinder is designated 98 and this is joined to the strap 95 by a buckle which is generally designated 99 and which comprises the frame 100 to one end of which the connection 98 is permanently joined. The opposite end of the frame is adapted to have the free end of the strap 95 passed therethrough and the frame carries a spring urged jaw 101 which closes down against the free end of the strap 95 and binds it in position against the end of the frame 100 through which the strap passes so that the strap 95 can only be disconnected from the strap or connection 98 by oscillating the buckle jaw 100 to permit the free end of the strap 95 to slip out of the buckle. This type of release employing the buckle 99 has additional uses such as serving as a release for baggage or cargo, for fire extinguisher units or oxygen units and other items requiring fast or immediate operation.

In operation the folded and deflated raft is thrown overboard, the lanyard 45 being attached to the craft from which it is thrown so that it can be maintained at a convenient location adjacent thereto to permit survivors to reach the raft. In preparation'for the launching of the raft, the lanyard or retaining line is either secured to a per-son or to the air craft from which it is thrown and in use a line of some 40 foot length is employed. After the raft has been thus tossed overboard, a sharp jerk is given to the retaining line or lanyard which effects the opening of the gas containing receptacle to permit the gas to pass therefrom into the raft hull body to and through the open stanchion 58 and from there into the tubular top part 59 and into the other stanchions, thus completely inflating the raft hull and the superstructure.

It will be readily seen that due to the fact of the superstructure, as well as the hull, becoming inflated, if the raft structure should lie on the water-in an inverted position before the inflatable portions are filled with gas, after inflation the raft automatically will right itself so that survivors do not have to set it up in the proper position on the water. into the raft by means of the step 3'1, and the hand grip 36, after which the inflatable deck or mattress can be filled with air and placed in position. As previously stated, after the raft has been inflated, the clamps 53 are applied to the equalizer tubes so as to prevent complete loss of from the inflatable hull body in the event that the same becom punctured.

The survivors will then be able to climb In addition to using'theclamps 53. on the equalizer" tubes a clamp may be applied to the tube 58' as indicated at 53, which carries the inflating gas from the hull body into the stanchions and to the top of the superstructure.

An anchor patch 102 is cemented to the top of the main deck or raft floor 20 to hold an end of a fabric tape 103. This tape is employed for lashing survival equipment to the floor through the hole of the inflatable mattress. I

As this invention may be embodied in several forms without departing from the .spirit or essential characteristics thereof, the present embodimentis therefore illustrative and not restrictive, sincethe scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims rather than by the.

description preceding them, and all changes that fall within the metes and bounds of the claims or that form their functional as well as conjointly cooperative equivalents,

are therefore intended tobe embraced by'those claims.

' I claim:

1. A life raft having an inflatable endless tube forming: a hull body, a diaphragmatic deck extending inwardly of' i the tube, a shelter structure carried by the hull body and including a number of upwardly extending inflatable converging stanchions, at least one of the stanchions being in communication at its lower end with the interior of the endless tube, and an endless tube top unit supported on the upper ends of the stanchions, said stanchions all being in communication with the interior of the endless tube top unit, means'for inflating the hull body, the stanchionsand the endless top unit, a panel unit extending horizontally inwardly of-said endless top unit when the latter is inflated, said panel lying in a plane with respect to the endless tube top unit closely adjacent to the underside of the latter, said panel unit comprising an annular band secured to the endless tube top-unit and a transparent sheet encircled by and secured around its periphery to said annular band, said panel unit lying entirely below References Cited inthe file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,772,420 Harris' Aug. 5, 1930 1,798,430 Markus Mar. 31, 1931 2,095,974 Finch 'Oct. 19, 1937 2,105,480 Hoffman Jan. 18, 1938 2,764,766 Boyle Oct. 2, 1956 2,859,457 Manhart Nov. 11, 1958 2,869,150 Manhart Jan. 20, 1959 2,889,839 Sheridan June 9, 1959 2,908,919 Bicknell et al Oct. 20, 1959 2,914,27 3 Bolton et al Nov. 24, 1959 FOREIGN PATENTS 673,417 Great Britain June 4, 1952 727,187 Great Britain Mar. 30, 1955 734,139 Great Britain July 27, 1955 788,338 Great Britain Dec. 23, 1957.

OTHER REFERENCES Ship)

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Classifications
U.S. Classification441/38, 52/2.21
International ClassificationB63C9/02
Cooperative ClassificationB63C9/02, B63C2009/044, B63C2009/042
European ClassificationB63C9/02