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Publication numberUS3242514 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 29, 1966
Filing dateJul 9, 1964
Priority dateJul 9, 1964
Publication numberUS 3242514 A, US 3242514A, US-A-3242514, US3242514 A, US3242514A
InventorsWaters Wilbur W
Original AssigneeWaters Wilbur W
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Automatically inflatable life preserver
US 3242514 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

March 29, 1966 w. w. WATERS AUTOMATICALLY INFLATABLE LIFE PRESEHVER Filed July 9, 1964 INVENTOR. WILBUR W.'WATERS United States Patent 3,242,514 AUTOMATICALLY INFLATABLE LIFE PRESERVER Wilbur W. Waters, RD. 1, Tutfle Road, Bridgeport, NX. Filed July 9, 1964, Ser. No. 381,357 8 Claims. (Cl. 9318) This invention relates to life preservers and more particularly to a life preserver which is automatically inflated upon contact with the water.

One object of this invention is to provide an automatically inflatable life preserver device wherein a compressed gas cartridge is automatically punctured to cause gas to flow into an inflatable flotation member substantially instantaneously upon the device meeting the water.

Another object is to provide an inflatable life preserver of the foregoing character which is capable of being worn in a small compact package with the flotation member folded but which is capable of manual or automatic inflation upon contact with water.

Still another object is to provide an automatically operating device ofthe foregoing character having all of its movable parts sealed within the flotation member to protect them from exposure to atmosphere so as to be reliably automatically operable upon contact of the device with water.

Other objects are to provide a device of the foregoing character which may be economically made and which may be easily reloaded and reset after use.

Other objects and advantages will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIGURE 1 is a fragmentary longitudinal sectional view of a device according to the invention, the parts thereof being shown in the position assumed after release of gas from the cartridge;

FIGURE 2 is a fragmentary side elevational view of the flotation member thereof in normal deflated condition;

FIGURE 3 is a fragmentary longitudinal sectional view showing the parts in normal cocked position;

"FIGURE 4 is a fragmentary elevational view of the parts shown in FIGURE 3 and rotated ninety degrees, part of the flotation member being broken away;

, FIGURE 5 is a sectional view on the line 55 of FIGURE 3;

. FIGURE 6 is an elevational view of a cooking tube used for recocking the device;

FIGURES 7 and 8 are perspective views of the retaining ring shown in open and closed position, respectively.

In the drawing, the device It) comprises a flotation member 11, a tubular casing 12 having certain movable gas releasing parts secured thereto, a casing cap 13, a compressed gas cartridge 14 and a retaining ring 15.

The flotation member 11 may be of any desired shape but a simple balloon-shaped rubber member as indicated in FIGURES l and 2 has been found satisfactory. The balloon-shaped inflatable member 11 is provided with an annular portion at one end having a hole 16 therethrough so that it can be tied to the wearer. The other end is provided with a comparatively narrow neck portion 17, like a toy balloon, through which gas may be introduced to inflate the member.

One end of the tubular casing 12 is introduced into the neck 17 of the flotation member and the end of the neck is clamped against the outer wall of the cylinder by a strip; of adhesive tape 18, or otherwise, so that the neck 17 is in sealed relation with the casing. The end of casing 12 enclosed within flotation member 11 is provided with an end wall 19 which is perforated at 20, FIG. 4.

3,242,514 Patented Mar. 29, 1966 A leaf spring member which has two legs 21, 21, is secured by means of screw 22 and nut 23 to the outer surface of end wall 19 and one end of a compression coil spring 24 is secured by the same means within the casing 12. The other end of the coil spring 24 is secured to a piston or weighted plunge-r member 25 which has a pointed pin or spike 26 projecting therefrom.

Piston 25 is preferably made of an annular metal portion 27 which has a serrated or axially slotted perimeter, as best shown in FIGURE 5, to provide for the free flow of gas between the piston 25 and the sidewall of the casing 12. The other end of spring 24 is secured to piston 25 by imbedding it in a lead or solder-core portion 28 fused in the center of the annular portion'27. Spike 26 may be conveniently formed by sharpening the axially projecting end of spring 24, as shown.

A pair of diametrically opposed slots 30 through the sidewall of casing 12' provide means by which the inturned end portions or detents 31 of the legs 21 may project into the interior of casing 12. When piston 25 is moved into its cocked position, shown in FIGURE 3, with the spring 24 compressed, the 'detents 31 are engaged under piston 25. The detents are. normally held in engagement with the piston by the retaining ring 15 which is engaged around the flotation member to hold the legs 21 compressed against the sidewall of the casing in opposition to the natural outward bias of the legs 21 The ring 15, best seen in FIGURES 7 and 8, comprises a strip 33 of paper material having its ends doubled back and secured by adhesive to form the loops 34 and 35 at either end. Loop 34 has a generally D- shaped buckle or clamp 36 of wire whose turned-in ends are within the loop as shown. Another wir'e clamp member 37, narrower than clamp 36, is generally triangular in outline and has one turned in end engaged in loop 35. The wire extends thence completely around the end portion of clamp 36 in a loop 38 which joins the clamps together and extends thence beyond the end of clamp 36 to a fingerpiece portion 39 bent back on itself. The wire then extends back again from the portion 39 past the end of clamp 36 toward the loop 35 where it is bent inward and engages the loop.

Clamps 36 and 37 form a toggle for locking the strip 33 around the casing 12 and flotation member 11 as shown in FIGURE 4. Fingerpiece 39 is an extension of the toggle leg 37 beyond the knee 38 of the toggle and when it is pressed back against the strip 33, as shown in FIGURE 5, a line from loop 34 to the toggle knee 38 passes over center of the loop 35 thus locking the ring 15 in position.

The strip 33 is made of a special paper material having a dry tensile strength of about four and one-half pounds per square inch which is ample for compressing and holding the leaf spring legs 21 in their piston-engaging cocked position. The wet strength of the paper material, however, is low, less than one-third pound per square inch, and when the paper strip 33 becomes wet, by their outward bias, the legs 21 easily rupture the paper portion of ring 15.

Alternatively, of course, the ends of the paper strip may be secured together by a pressure-sensiitve, or other suitable adhesive.

A piece of string or cord may be looped around the paper portion of the rupturable ring 15 as shown in FIG- URES 3 and 4 for manually rupturing the ring.

The end of the casing 12, which is not surrounded by the flotation member 11, is threaded at 41, and the inter-' nally threaded hollow cap 13 is screwed overthis end. The cap 13 has an internal conformation, adapting it to contain the miniature compressed gas cartridge 14, of conventional size and shape, which may slide-into the 3 cap and be held thereby with the reduced frangible end 43 of the cartridge disposed within casing 12.

An annular resilient sealing member 44 is disposed around the frangible end 43 of the cartridge between cartridge 14 and the threaded end of the casing so that the cartridge is in sealed engagement with the casing.

A cocking tube 45 is shown in FIGURE 6 and indicated in position in FIGURE 3 by broken lines, as will more fully appear in the following description of the operation of the device.

With the parts in normal cocked position, as shown in FIGURE 3, the ring may be manually ruptured at any time by pulling on the cord 40. When the wearer falls into, or enters the water the rupturable ring 15 becomes Wet, and the leaf spring legs 21 have suflicient outward bias to rupture the Wet paper portion of ring 15 so as to automatically operate the device.

It will noted that the normally deflated flotation member 11 extends down over the slots 30 and is sealed around the casing wall while the threaded end of the casing is normally sealed against the cartridge. This prevents exposure of the working parts of the device to atmosphere and increases the reliability of the functioning of the working parts.

When ring 15 is broken, the detents 31 are carried outward by legs 21 and weighted piston 25 is propelled down toward the frangible end 43 of cartridge 14 by the expan- 'sion of spring 24. The coil spring has a natural expanded length as shown in FIGURE 1 so that the spike 26 is not carried by the spring itself into contact with cylinder 14. The piston 25, however, is weighted and its momentum extends the spring 24 beyond its natural extended length and this momentum carries the spike 2'6 with considerable force through the frangible end Wall of the cartridge. Aft-er rupturing the cartridge the now-stretched spring withdraws spike 26 so as not to interfere with the escape of gas from the cylinder.

The escaping gas flows through the axially disposed serrations around the piston 25 through the casing and through slots 31 and perforations in the end wall of the easing into the flotation member thereby inflating it. While the commercially available miniature cartridge is only about three inches in length it has been found to contain suflicient gas to bring to the surface and float any person who wears the device. It is also within the intent of the invention, by suitable duplication of parts, to provide two cartridges and two flotation members or a single flotation member of double capacity. Actual tests with a swimmer carrying two of the devices described above establish he will be returned to the surface from even the deepest dive from the surface in less than one-quarter of a minute.

The cartridge 14 and ring 15 are replaceable and the device is resettable. Cap 13 is unscrewed and the cocking tube 45 is inserted with its cup-shaped enlarged end engaged over the frangible end of the now'empty cartridge 14, or a full replacement cartridge 14, in the cap. The other end of the tube engages the piston around the spike 26 and cap 13 is pressed toward casing 12 until the threads of the latter two parts engage. Cap 13 is then screwed back on the casing forcing the piston into cocked position. The leaf spring legs 21 are manually pressed inward to their piston-engaging position and a new ring 15 is slipped over the cap 13 and casing 12 into position as shown around the flotation member and legs 21. The fingerpiece 29 of the ring clamp is then swung from the position shown in FIGURE 7 to that shown in FIGURE 8 securing the detents 31 in cocked position.

Cap 13 is then unscrewed and the tube 45 is removed. A new cartridge 14 is then placed in the cap 13, if the empty cartridge has not already been replaced, flotation member 11 is thoroughly deflated by folding it, or otherwise, and the cap is screwed back on the casing, securing the device for reuse.

The above described device is small in size and the flotation member may be folded into a small space so that the whole device may be contained in a small package to be conveniently worn at any convenient location on the wearers body. It will be understood that a cord may be attached through the hole 16 at the free end of the flotation member for securing it to the wearer, or suitable securing means may be provided on casing 12 or cap 13, or the device may be secured to the wearer at both ends. Alternatively the device may be secured to articles used near the water, such as fishing equipment, so that if they fall in the water they may be readily retrieved.

As will be apparent to those familiar with the art, the invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. The embodiment disclosed is therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative rather than restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. In an inflatable life saving device, the combination of: an inflatable flotation member having a necked opening, a compressed gas cartridge having a frangible end wall, a hollow tubular casing in sealed engagement with the necked opening, one end of the casing having a slotted sidewall contained within the flotation member, the other end of the casing having means clamping the cartridge in sealed engagement with the casing, said frangible end wall being within the casing, a weighted member freely slidable axially of the casing and having spike means there'- on, the weighted member being spring-biased for propelling it from a normally cocked position to an operating position with its spike means piercing said end wall, detent means normally passing through the slotted sidewall and engaging the weighted member for holding it in its cocked position, detent supporting means outside the casing and within the flotation member normally biasing said detent means toward a release position withdrawn from engagement with said Weighted member, and a rupturable ring having at least a segmental portion of water softenable material normally encircling said flotation member and said detent supporting means and normally holding said detent means in engagement with said weighted member, the water softenable material portion having a wet strength insufficient to hold said detent supporting means away from said release position when said ring becomes wet.

2. In an inflatable life saving device, the combination of: A hollow inflatable flotation member having a gasreceiving neck; a compressed gas cartridge; a hollow cylindrical casing having one end within said neck, the other end of the casing having means clamping the cartridge in sealed engagement with the casing, the cartridge having a frangible end wall within the casing; a piston freely slidably axially of the casing and having a pointed projection adapted to pierce the cartridge frangible wall; a compression coil spring for propelling the piston from a normally cocked position to an operating position in which its pointed projection pierces the frangible wall of the cylinder; a plurality of perimetrically spaced slots through the sidewall of the cylinder; a plurality of leaf springs carried outwardly of the cylinder and normally compressed against the cylinder wall, each leaf spring carrying a detent element at one end, each element normally projecting through one of said slots and engaging the piston for holding it in cocked position when the coil spring is compressed, said leaf springs biasing said detent elements toward a free position withdrawn from engagement with the piston; means securing the end of said neck in sealed engagement with the casing, said slots, detents, and leaf springs being contained within said member, there being a continuous passage for the flow of gas through the casing from the cartridge to the interior of the flotation member; and a rupturable ring around said neck and leaf springs normally holding the leaf springs against the casing and the detents in engagement with 5 the piston, the ring having at least a segmental portion of paper having a dry strength suflicient to hold the leaf springs against the casing and a wet strength sufficiently low as to allow the ring to be ruptured by the leaf springs when the paper becomes wet.

3. An inflatable life-saving device as defined in claim 2, characterized by said rnpturable ring being a strip of paper having a loop at either end, and a toggle clamp, each leg of said toggle having its free end engaged in one of said loops, and one leg having an extension beyond the knee of the toggle, whereby the toggle may be folded for quickly securing the ring in position.

4. An inflatable life saving device as defined in claim 2, wherein the paper segmental portion of said ring has a dry tensile strength greater than four pounds per square inch and a wet tensile strength of less than one-third of a pound per square inch.

5. An inflatable life saving device as defined in claim 2 characterized by having said piston weighted and secured to one end of said coil spring, the other end of the coil spring being secured to the fiotation-member-enclosed end of said casing, and said coil spring being of such unloaded length as to withdraw the pointed projection of said piston from the frangible end of the cartridge after the piston has been propelled by the coil spring from its cocked position to its operating position.

6. An inflatable life saving device as defined in claim 2 characterized by said means for clamping the cartridge in sealed engagement with the casing being a hollow cylindrical cap for said casing, the cap being dimensioned for receiving the cartridge therein, said casing other end and said cap being threadedly engaged for easy removal of the cap to replace said cartridge, and cartidge being provided with an annular resilient sealing member around its frangible end for sealing the cartridge against the threaded end of the casing.

7. An inflatable life saving device as defined in claim 6 in combination with removable recocking tube having one end adapted to fit over the frangible end of a cartridge in said cap, the other end of the tube being adapted to bear against the piston around its pointed projection, the recocking tube being of such length that when it is placed in the casing with one end in contact with the cartridge and the other end against the piston the cap may be forced into engagement with the threaded end of the casing and the piston forced into its cocked position with the coil spring compressed by screwing the cap on to the threaded end of the casing.

8. In an inflatable life saving device, the combination of: a hollow inflatable flotation member having a comparatively narrow neck open for receiving gas for expanding the member, a compressed gas cartridge, a hollow tubular casing having one end within said neck, the other end of the casing being threaded, a screw cap containing said cartridge and in threaded engagement With the threaded end of the casing, said cartridge having a frangible end, a resilient annular seal around said frangible end sealing the cartridge end within the casing, a weighted piston freely slidable axially of the casing and having a pointed projection adapted to pierce the cartridge frangible end, a compression coal spring having one end secured to said piston and its other end secured to the casing end within said neck, said spring being adapted for propelling the piston from a normally cocked position to an operating position in which the pointed projection pierces the cylinder frangible end, a pair of diametrically opposed slots through the sidewall of the casing, a pair of leaf springs carried on the outer wall of the casing,'each leaf spring having a detent end portion normally projecting through one of said slots and engaging the piston for holding it in cocked position with the coil spring compressed, each leaf spring biasing its detent portion toward a release position withdrawn from engagement with the piston, means securing the end of the flotation member neck in sealed engagement with the casing wall, said slots and leaf springs being enclosed Within the flotation member, there being at least one continuous passage for the flow of gas through said casing from the cylinder to the interior of the flotation member, and a rupturable ring having at least a segmental portion of paper secured around said neck and leaf springs for normally holding the leaf springs against the casing and the detent portions in engagement with the piston, said paper having a dry strength sufiicient to normally hold said leaf springs against the casing and a Wet strength so low that the paper portion of the ring is ruptured by the leaf springs when the paper becomes wet.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,329,990 2/1920 Muller 9318 X 2,786,599 3/1957 Higbee 222-5 2,821,725 2/1958 Harper 93l8 X MILTON BUCHLER, Primary Examiner.

ALFRED E. CORRIGAN, Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1329990 *Oct 10, 1917Feb 3, 1920Pierre Muller JeanAutomatic life-saving apparatus
US2786599 *Nov 1, 1954Mar 26, 1957Herbert H HigbeeAutomatic inflating device for life preservers
US2821725 *Aug 20, 1956Feb 4, 1958Harper James TFlotation device
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3486178 *Apr 3, 1968Dec 30, 1969Hall Ski Lift Co IncLife preserver projectile
US3494506 *Dec 5, 1967Feb 10, 1970Fujimoto TadaoAutomatic gas filling device of an inflatable lifesaving equipment
US3682354 *Feb 20, 1969Aug 8, 1972John R WitteTrigger mechanism for inflatable life preservers and the like
US3812546 *Jun 12, 1972May 28, 1974J WitteSelf-inflatable life preserver apparatus
US3997079 *Apr 16, 1975Dec 14, 1976Wolfgang NiemannAutomatic inflating device for lifesaving devices
US4927057 *May 30, 1989May 22, 1990Inflation Technologies & InnovationAutomatic inflator for inflatable articles
US4972971 *Jun 29, 1989Nov 27, 1990Inflation Technologies & InnovationAutomatic inflator for inflatable articles
US5035345 *May 7, 1990Jul 30, 1991Apoc, Inc.Automatic inflator for inflatable articles
Classifications
U.S. Classification441/95
International ClassificationB63C9/00, B63C9/19
Cooperative ClassificationB63C9/24
European ClassificationB63C9/24