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Publication numberUS3289721 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 6, 1966
Filing dateMay 7, 1964
Priority dateMay 7, 1964
Publication numberUS 3289721 A, US 3289721A, US-A-3289721, US3289721 A, US3289721A
InventorsBenson Albert H
Original AssigneeBenson Albert H
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Collapsible vessels
US 3289721 A
Abstract  available in
Images(3)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Dec. 6, 1966 H. BENSON 3,289,721

COLLAPSIBLE VESSELS Filed May '7, 1964 15 Sheets-$heet 1 ALBERT H. BENSON BY do: 1 a {fir/M W1 ATTORNEY Dec. 6, 1966 A. H. BENSON COLLAPSIBLE VESSELS 5 Sheets-$heet 2 Filed May 7, 1964 INVENTOR.

ALBERT H. BENSQN ATTORNEY Dec' 6, 1966 A. H. BENSON 3,289,721

COLLAPSIBLE VES SELS Filed May '7, 1964 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 zm-e INVENTOR.

BY ALBERT H. BENSON ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,289,721 COLLAPSIBLE VESSELS Albert H. Benson, 89 W. Broad St., Hopewell, NJ. Filed May 7, 1964, Ser. No. 365,76t) 9 Claims. (Cl. 150-.5)

This application is a continuation-in-part of application Serial No. 195,751 filed May 18, 1962, and now abandoned.

My invention relates to collapsible tanks, vessels, pontoons, and the like, which may be used for the support of vehicles or other equipment in swamps or in water.

My invention also relates to such tanks which may also be used fogtthe storage and transportation of liquids and gases.

My invention particularly relates to such tanks which are expandable to a usable position and which may be readily collapsed to such a position that they may be easily handled and stored away.

Heretofore such tanks have either been manufactured out of rigid metallic material or have been completely deflatable in nature. There are many objections to the use of either of these forms of tanks. The rigid tanks, even though manufactured from a light metal, are hard to handle and store away by reason of their bulk and weight. The completely deflatable tanks, which are customarily made from treated canvas or from some pliable plastic material, may be inadvertently deflated by reason of accidental punctures and in addition must be folded and refolded after deflation in order to be readily handled and stored away. Further, the deflatable tanks are subject to be torn by reason of unequal pressure applied along one side and as a result sectional bulkheads must be provided therein to equalize the pressure when they are being used for support or pontoon purposes.

My invention clearly overcomes all of the objections in the prior art by providing a semi-rigid, readily collapsible tank which is positively operated through a central control system to an expanded or collapsed position,

I achieve this result by generally providing a tank or vessel having an outer covering of flexible fabric or other material which is supported by rigid ribs which in turn are linked to a central operating control element and thus affords adequate support for the cover and positive means for expanding and collapsing the same.

An object of my invention is to provide a new and improved vessel for the support of equipment in water as well as for lifting submerged ships and other objects out of water.

A further object of my invention is to provide a tank or pontoon which is semi-rigid in nature.

A still further object of my invention is to provide a semi'rigid tank which is positively operable to and from a collapsed position by a central control system.

A further object of my invention is to provide such a tank which may be easily handled and stored when the same is in a collapsed position. I

These and other objects and features of my invention may be readily seen from the following description thereof in which reference is made to the figures of the accompanying drawings:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view showing an illustrative tank construction in expanded condition,

FIGURE 2 is a sectional view taken on line 2--2 of FIGURE 1,

FIGURE 3 is a longitudinal sectional view of FIGURE 1, partly broken away, showing the linkage arms in expanded position,

FIGURE 4 is a fragmental longitudinal sectional view of the right-hand end of the tank in collapsed position,

FIGURE 5 is a fragmental longitudinal sectional view of the left-hand end of the tank in collapsed position,

3,239,721 Patented Dec. 6, 1966 FIGURE 6 is an end View of the collapsed left-hand end of the tank,

FIGURE 7 is a sectional view taken on line 77 of FIGURE 3, and

FIGURE 8 is an exploded perspective view of the end actuating elements at the lefthand end of the tank shown in FIGURE 3.

The present invention relates to semi-rigid tanks or collapsible vessels or pontoons which may be used for supporting or buoying of vehicles or other equipment in water, swamps, and the like. The present pontoon structure is particularly adaptable for fording or flotation of wheeled vehicles or track-laying vehicles and especially heavy type of military vehicles which must be propelled through water, mud and swamps. The pontoons may also be suitably attached to submerged or sunken vessels and the like for salvaging same. The collapsible vessels or pontoons constructed in accordance with this invention are adapted to be transported in collapsed condition and can be readily and quickly expanded while retained at the sides of any structure, such as a vehicle, so as to provide sufficient lifting force to enable the vehicle to be propelled through otherwise impassable terrain. Essentially, the collapsible pontoon consists of an outer flexible and easily foldable material 2 made of canvas or plastic material which can be mechanically expanded and collapsed by internally positioned mechanical means to form an elongated closed tank or vessel, and which may be polygonal in cross-section, as shown in FIGURE 1, and which also has closed sealed collapsible end walls 2:: and 2b. The means for expanding and collapsing the flexible pontoon comprises a central control shaft 16 which extends longitudinally and medially of the vessel. A plurality of spaced wall-expansion arms 8 are pivoted to the central control shaft and the outer ends of the arms are connected to spaced rib members 4 which are attached to the flexible walls of the pontoon. When the central control shaft is rotated upon engagement with actuated end-control means extending outside of the vessel, the arms can be pivoted outwardly of the central control shaft or inwardly by suitable mechanisms hereinafter described so as to expand or collapse the pontoon.

In the form of my invention shown in the drawings, my semi-rigid collapsible vessel is provided with an outer covering 2 formed from treated canvas, plastic or any other suitable flexible and easily foldable material'which forms the side walls and ends of the collapsible tank and has a series of longitudinally extending tubular ribs 4 spaced at predetermined intervals around the inner surface of said cover 2 and affixed thereto by any suitable fastening means. In the form as shown in FIGURE 2, I use a metal strip or band 5 having a similar transverse curvilinear shape as the outer surface of the rib 4 and positioned longitudinally along the exterior of the cover 2 and serves to clamp the said flexible cover 2 securely to the ribs when tightened in place by means of the rivets 7.

As shown in FIGURE 3, the inner surface of each of said ribs 4 is formed with a series of slots 6 spaced along the entire length of the same. Each slot 6 is of sufficient width and length so that it may receive therein a linkage or wall-expanding arm 8 when the tank is in the collapsed position shown in FIGURES 4 and 5 and each of said linkage arms 8 assumes a horizontal position. Each of said linkage arms 8 is pivotaly connected to the under surface of a rib 4 by means of a conventional pin 10. As shown, each linkage arm 8 is positioned adjacent to either the forward or rear edge of the slot 6 with which it is associated. In order to create opposing pressures to raise the linkage arms 8, I alternately position one linkage arm 8 adjacent to the forward edge and the next linkage arm 8 adjacent to the rear edge of the next adjacent slot 6 with which each is associated. It is also preferable to have the most forward linkage arm 8 facing the front and the most rearward linkage arm 8 facing the rear so that proper corners will be formed when the tank is expanded.

I may form both my ribs 4 and linkage arms 8 from aluminum, but any suitable, light, strong and rigid metallic or plastic material may be used. In the form of my invention shown I form my ribs 4 of tubing but they also may be formed from solid stock without affecting the character of my invention.

Each of the linkage arms 8 extend generally inwardly from the rib 4 with which it is associated and is pivotally mounted by pins 12 or any other conventional means to a split collar 14 which consists of two internally threaded segments 14a and 14b fastened together by bolts 15 as shown in FIGURE 2. The segments 14a and 141) are provided with spaced ears 140 for receiving the ends of arms 8 which are retained therein by pins 12. Each collar 14 is mounted on the tubular central control shaft 16 and is movable longitudinally along the same. Each collar 14 is further connected to each of said ribs 4 by means of a linkage arm 8 so that there is a series of said linkage arms 8 pivotally mounted at spaced intervals around the circumference thereof.

The central control shaft 16 is tubular or hollow in shape and extends longitudinally for substantially the entire length of the vessel. It is rotatable in said collars 14. The shaft 16 terminates at the front end in a front expanding control member 26a and at the rear in a rear expanding member 2617.

Each collar 14 has threads 14d formed in the interior surface thereof so as to operatively engage the respective threads 1611 and 16b which are formed along the exterior surface of the control shaft 16. (See FIGURES 3 and 5.) As shown in FIGURE 5, the threads 16a and 16b formed on the exterior of the central control shaft 16 are formed so that they provide alternately left and right hand threaded sections. The internal threads 14d on the collar 14 associated with each of said sections are formed to match the threads in the section. In this way I provide opposed pairs of collar 14 moving in oposite directions when the central control shaft 16 is rotated. Further the movement of each of said collars 14 is limited by the extent of the threaded section with which it is associated. Stop members 40 and 41 are postioned adjacent each end of central shaft 16, as shown in FIGURE 1, in order to limit the travel of the collars 14 when the arms are expanded.

In order to collapse and expand the end portions 2a and 2b of the vessel, I provide rotatable end-control members, the left-hand one being designated as 26a and the righthand one as 26b, at each of the respective ends of the central control shaft 16. Each of these end-control members, as shown in FIGURE 8, consists of a cylindrical shaft which is externally threaded at 260, the threads 26a being right-handed at the left end of FIGURE 3, and threads 26b being left-handed at the right end of FIG- URE 3. The shaft 26a is provided with an enlarged integral cylindrical end or stop portion 25 which is adapted to be slidably received within each of the ends of central shaft 16, as shown in FIGURE 3. The end 25 is provided with an inwardly axially extending slot 28 which continues partially into the shaft 26a. A peripheral groove 25a is provided adjacent and encircling the free end of member 25 which is adapted to receive therein a fastening strap 25b which serves to prevent the free split end of member 25 from springing apart under stress. The other end of shaft 26a is provided with a stop member 32 and a seal member 30. The outer end of lefthand member 26a is provided with a slot or kerf 27 which is adapted to receive a crank or other tool for rotating same. Likewise, the right-handed end control member 26b is identical in structure with the left-hand control member 26a except that the right-hand member 26b is provided with right-handed threads.

End members 26a and 2612 are retained at the ends of the central shaft 16 by split bushings or collars 21a and 21b which are positioned at each end of control shaft 16 as shown in FIGURE 3 and are fixedly retained on shaft 16 by set-screws 24. The internal surfaces of the bushings 21a and 2111 are threaded at 22a and 22b respectively to engage with the threads 26a of the end control member 26. The complemental combined split bushings 21a and 21b also serve as stop members which are adapted to be engaged selectively at their ends by either stop member 32 or cylindrical end member 25 of the end control members 26a or 26b, as will be explained later.

The extending end of the front end control member 26a is accessible from the exterior of the tank, and as described previously, is kerfed at 27 for receiving a crank or other suitable actuating means. It rotates in a conventional pressure seal housing 38. The housing has an outer race which cooperates with a tightly drawn metal strap band 35, the ends of which are retained by bolt 36, as shown in FIGURE 6, to draw in and retain the adjacent areas of the cover 2 in a sealed relationship thereto. A sealing member 30 is afiixed on the end control member 26a and rotates with it, and is retained in housing .38, and in addition serves to pull the end walls of the cover 2 in or out as the end control member 26a moves in or out of the central control shaft 16. Likewise, a sealing member 30 is provided on end member 2611 to serve a similar function in the opposite direction.

The rear expanding member 261) is also preferably formed from aluminum and its exterior surface is provided with external threads which are formed so that they operatively engage the threads which are formed on the inside of the split bushings 21a and 21b and move the rear expanding member 26b in and out of said shaft 16 When said member 26b is rotated. The threads 26b are in opposite direction to threads 26a of front member 26 and are left-hand threads.

The extending end of the rear expanding member 26]) is provided with a seal member 30 which is retained in housing 38. A metal strap 35 also serves to compress the adjacent areas of the ends 2a and 2b of the cover 2 in a sealed relationship thereto.

A rotatable elongated torsion bar 20 which is rectangular in cross-section as shown in FIGURE 7 is supported within the hollow center of control shaft 16 as shown in FIGURE 3. Bar 20 is provided with a plurality of spaced cylindrical bearing members 62 which are peripherally grooved at 62a and suitably fastened thereto such as by welding or brazing at contacting medial portions 64, as shown in FIGURE 7.

Stop screws 63 carried by control shaft 16 extend into the peripheral grooves 62a of members 62 so as to prevent longitudinal sliding movement of the bar 20 but will permit its rotation within the control shaft 16.

Each of the ends of bar 20 is adapted to extend partially within the slots 28 of end members 26a and 2612 as shown in FIGURE 3. It will be apparent that rotation of end control members 26a and 26b towards and from the ends of control shaft 16 will move the enlarged end portions 25 within control shaft 16 to the extent that threaded shafts 26a and 26b are rotated. At the same time as left-hand member 26a is rotated, the longitudinal bar 20 will be rotated and will in turn rotate the righthand member 2611. The diameter of the cylindrical ends 25 of each end member 26a and 26b is of such dimension as to permit the ends 25 to move within the hollow ends of the control shaft 16.

In using the previously described pontoon, when it is desired to collapse the pontoon from its fully expanded position shown in FIGURE 3, a suitable crankor other tool is engaged With the slot 27 of end member 26a so as to rotate same inwardly of the end of the central shaft 16, thereby collapsing the end portion 2a of the pontoon. At the same time torsion bar 20 will be rotated because the left-hand end 20a thereof is engaged in slot 28 of portion 25 which is integral with end member 26a and will therefore rotate with it. The right-hand end 20b of bar 20 being engaged in the slot of right-hand end member 2611 will cause rotation thereof and thus retract same within the right-hand end of control shaft 16 and thus collapse end 2b. When stop 32 is brought within the end of control shaft 16 so as to engage with the ad jacent portion of split bushings 21a and 21b, further turning torque applied to end of member 26a will cause the control shaft 16 to rotate therewith. The respective pairs of collar members 14 will then be moved toward each other as indicated by the arrows in FIGURE 3'so as to cause the arms 8 to move toward the slots 6 of ribs 8 until they assume their final flat collapsed position within slots 6, as shown in FIGURE 4. The end portions 211 and 2b of the cover 2 will thus be simultaneously and automatically pulled into a predetermined folded position. The side portions of the cover 2, which are creased at 45, also assume a predetermined position as shown in FIGURE 6.

When it is desired to expand the pontoon from its collapsed position, a crank or other tool is applied to the end of member 26a and it is rotated in the opposite direction when the pontoon is collapsed. The end members 26:: and 26b will first be moved simultaneously outwardly out of the respective ends of control shaft 16, thereby expanding the ends 2a and 2b of the cover 2. During this expansion of the ends the control shaft 16 itself will not be rotated but will be stationary. When the end members are withdrawn outwardly until the enlarged end or stop 25 of end members 26 will engage with the inner end of the fixed split bushings 21a and 21b, whereby rotation of the control shaft 16 will occur, thus causing the pairs of sleeves 14 to move apart and thereby expand the arms 8 outwardly until the covering 2 is fully expanded. The stops 40 and 41 at each end of control shaft 16 serve to limit the outward travel of the pairs of collars 14. When fully expanded the arms 8 come to a complete stop and are locked there by reason of the action of the coacting threads on control shaft 16 and collars 14. If additional locking means are desired they can readily be formed from any conventional device. It will thus be understood that the ends of the split combined bushings 21a and 21b function as stop members fixed located at each inner end of the central control shaft 16 and that the stop 32 and end member 25 integral with end control member 26 serve as spaced stop members which are adapted to be selectively engaged with the split bushings 21a and 21b for rotating the central control shaft 16; and when the stop members are not engaged, rotation of the end control members '26 will not rotate central control shaft 16. It will thus be seen that means are provided for first simultaneously expanding or collapsing the flexible end walls of the vessel while the side walls are not moved and then expanding or collapsing the side Walls by the simultaneous movement of the expanding arms.

I may also provide suitable valves in the vessel walls which may be operable so as to maintain atmospheric pressure in the vessel. Valves may also be used if desired to support an increased pressure in the vessel. I may also provide fittings for the introduction of liquids or gases into the tank when the tanks are used for the storage and transportation of the same. The above description merely shows one illustrative embodiment of my device. For instance, I may eliminate the expanded front and rear portions of the tank and thus avoid the use of the front control member and the rear expanding member. The specific structural details of the various elements previously described may also be replaced by equivalent functional means. Other changes and alterations may readily be seen and it is not my intention to have the scope of the following claims strictly limited to the above description.

I claim:

1. A semi-rigid collapsible tank for retaining a fluid therein comprising an outer continuous covering of foldable flexible material forming a closed chamber when expanded having side walls, front and rear end portions, ribs extending longitudinally along the inner surface of said covering and aflixed thereto at predetermined intervals therearound, a central control shaft, a plurality of collars movably mounted on said central control shaft, linkage arms pivotally mounted at predetermined intervals along said ribs and pivotally mounted on the other end to the collars movably mounted on said control shaft, means associated with said central control shaft and with said collars for moving said collars along said control shaft when said central control shaft is actuated and causing said linkage arms to move outwardly therefrom, said central shaft having means associated and movable therewith and expanding the front and rear end portions of said tank.

2. A flexible collapsible elongate closed vessel substantially polygonal in transverse cross-section comprising side walls and end portions for retaining a fluid therein formed from a foldable flexible material, means for expanding said vessel to maximum capacity and for collapsing same, said means comprising a central control shaft extending longitudinally and medially of said elongate vessel, a plurality of rib members connected to the inner surface of said flexible material, a plurality of spaced wall-expanding and collapsing linkage arms each having one end thereof hinged to said control shaft and each of the respective other end thereof connected to said rib members, means for actuating said central control shaft to move said wall-expanding linkage arms in opposed directions and outwardly of said central shaft to expand said flexible material to full capacity, means to retain said linkage arms in locked position and means to swing said linkage arms in collapsed position aligned substantially parallel to said central control shaft and adjacent thereto to collapse said vessel.

3. A flexible collapsible vessel as defined in claim 2, wherein actuating means are provided to first expand the end portions of said vessel in opposite directions to a predetermined extent and then to expand the side walls of said vessel to maximum capacity.

4. A flexible collapsible vessel as defined in claim 3, wherein stop means are provided to limit the outward expansion of the side walls of said vessel.

5. A flexible collapsible vessel as defined in claim 2, wherein the central control shaft is provided on its exterior surface with a plurality of alternately spaced right and left threads, a plurality of complementally internally threaded collars engaging said right and left threads and movable longitudinally on the exterior of said central control shaft, said cover-expanding linkage arms being pivoted to said movable collars, and means to rotate said central control shaft whereby said collars are moved longitudinally along said central shaft to pivot the coverexpanding linkage arms from and toward said central shaft in opposite directions.

6. A flexible collapsible vessel as defined in claim 1, wherein the central control shaft is hollow and is provided with internally threaded portions adjacent its ends, an end-control member received at each end of said central control shaft, said end-control member being externally threaded at its inner end and mating with the internally threaded portions at the end of the central control shaft for rotation therein, the other end of said end-control member being received in a housing carried by the end portions of the chamber, and means for rotating said end-control members to expand and collapse the end portions of the chamber.

7. A collapsible vessel as defined in claim 6, wherein the central control shaft is provided with stop members adjacent each inner end thereof, the inner end of each of said end-control members being provided with a keyed slot extending for a substantial distance inwardly from the inner end thereof, a rotatable torque bar supported Within the control shaft, the ends of said torque bar being slidably received in said slots, spaced stop members on said end-control members adapted to selectively engage said stop members in the central control shaft whereby upon engagement of said stop members and rotation of said end-control members said central control shaft member will rotate.

8. A flexible collapsible vessel as defined in claim 6, wherein each end of the central control shaft is provided with an internally threaded bushing adapted to receive therein the threaded portions of the end-control members.

9. A flexible collapsible vessel as defined in claim 8,

wherein each end-control member is provided with spaced stop members, said stop members being adapted to be selectively engaged with the respective adjacent ends of the said bushing.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,681,318 8/1928 Banschbach 129-43 FOREIGN PATENTS 15,448 1893 Great Britain.

FRANKLIN T. GARRETT, Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1681318 *Aug 11, 1920Aug 21, 1928Banschbach Edward AAdjustable file and holder
GB189315448A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3409253 *Dec 2, 1966Nov 5, 1968Whittaker CorpRetractable fuel tank for aircraft
US3638699 *Jul 30, 1969Feb 1, 1972Waagner Biro AgStructure for transporting and storing flowable materials
US6269761Nov 16, 1998Aug 7, 2001Controlled Variable Buoyancy Systems LimitedBuoyancy device
US6293217Jul 8, 1996Sep 25, 2001Aquarius Holdings LimitedFlexible vessels for transporting fluent cargoes
US6557946 *Mar 30, 2000May 6, 2003Jager GerritSpoke nipple, especially for bicycles and the like
US6675734Jul 18, 2001Jan 13, 2004Albany International Corp.Spiral formed flexible fluid containment vessel
US6718896Oct 30, 2001Apr 13, 2004Albany International Corp.Fabric structure for a flexible fluid containment vessel
US6739274Aug 3, 2001May 25, 2004Albany International Corp.End portions for a flexible fluid containment vessel and a method of making the same
US6832571Oct 30, 2001Dec 21, 2004Albany International Corp.Segment formed flexible fluid containment vessel
US6860218Apr 11, 2001Mar 1, 2005Albany International Corp.Flexible fluid containment vessel
US7024748Nov 11, 2004Apr 11, 2006Albany International Corp.Segment formed flexible fluid containment vessel
US7107921Oct 30, 2001Sep 19, 2006Albany International Corp.End portion for a flexible fluid containment vessel and a method of making the same
US7308862Aug 7, 2001Dec 18, 2007Albany International Corp.Coating for a flexible fluid containment vessel and a method of making the same
US7775171Jan 21, 2003Aug 17, 2010Albany International Corp.Flexible fluid containment vessel featuring a keel-like seam
US20030081861 *Oct 30, 2001May 1, 2003Davis Trent W.End portion for a flexible fluid containment vessel and a method of making the same
US20090321435 *Dec 31, 2009Max Michael DWater Handling System
WO1997002980A1 *Jul 8, 1996Jan 30, 1997Aquarius Holdings LimitedFlexible vessels for transporting fluent cargoes
WO1997043172A1 *May 16, 1997Nov 20, 1997Controlled Variable Buoyancy Systems LimitedA buoyancy device
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/666
International ClassificationB63B35/28, B63B35/00
Cooperative ClassificationB63B35/285
European ClassificationB63B35/28F