US 3395382 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
July 30, 1968 w, 0. WEAGANT 3,395,382
RE-ENTERABLE ELECTRICAL ASSEMBLY Filed June 6, 1966 INVENTOR. WILLIAM DANIEL WEAGANT .7 ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,395,382 RE-ENTERABLE ELECTRICAL ASSEMBLY William Daniel Weagant, Fremont, Calif., assignor to Sigma Industries, Inc., Menlo Park, Calif. Filed June 6, 1966, Ser. No. 555,469 8 Claims. (Cl. 339-116) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An electrical connector assembly comprising two cupshaped housing members detachably and sealingly secured together and containing screw-operated wedge type conductor-clamping means. Insulated conductors enter through one of the members and are sealed thereto by either an integral or 'a separate heat-shrinkable sleeve portion.
This invention relates to an electrical connector assembly and, more particularly, to a re-entera-ble connector assembly for hermetically sealing a plurality of electrical conductors or wires within the wall of the assembly member.
In most electrical systems it is desirable to enclose the electrical connectors to prevent damage, corrosion or shorting of the conductors. In underground electrical systems such as, for example, underground residential electrical distribution systems or community antenna television systems, it becomes a necessity to make the electrical connector assembly both airtight and watertight if the connector assemblies are placed underground instead of in above ground pedestals. To date the assemblies that have been utilized in these underground systems have typically been branch-type assemblies in which it is not only difficult to modify an existing connector which is physically immovable due to conductors extending in various directions, but also necessary permanently to destroy the hermetic seal around the connector to make changes or alterations in the system.
It is, therefore, a principal object of this invention to provide an electrical connector assembly for housing a plurality of electrical conductors in which the assembly unit can be opened as often as desired to insert or withdraw certain of the conductors without permanently destroying the integral hermetic seal around the assembly.
It is further an object of this invention to provide a re-enterable electrical connector assembly having a plurality of passages for individually hermetically sealing a number of electrical conductors.
It is another object of this invention to utilize a connector in a re-enterable electrical connector assembly which can be quickly assembled and disassembled for securing or releasing a plurality of electrical conductors.
It is a feature and advantage of this invention to provide a re-enterable assembly for interconnecting a number of electrical conductors which is formed from a pair of cup-shaped members threadably interconnectable to define a closed chamber. One of the cup-shaped members is further provided with a plurality of passages in the form of tubular legs extending from the cup bottom or closed cup end and With each of the legs adapted to permit passage of an electrical conductor into the chamber for common connection with an electrical connector contained within the chamber. Provision is made for hermetically sealing the legs so that the entire chamber with the connector inside can be hermetically sealed and yet re-opened via the threaded interconnection between the members 3,395,382 Patented July 30, 1968 without destroying the hermetic seal of each leg. The hermetic seal between the legs and the conductor passing therethrough is accomplished by use of heat shrinkable material. In one embodiment of the invention, the legs which are integral with the one cup-shaped member are made of heat shrinkable material while in another embodiment a sleeve of heat shrinkable material is dimensioned to slide over the leg and a conductor passing therethrough so that upon application of heat the sleeve will shrink onto the leg and conductor and seal the two together.
The connector assembly in accordance with this invention is compact and easily used and provides a high reliability hermetically sealed connection chamber. The assembly can be bured in the ground and yet re-opened without disrupting the existing connections or the hermetic seal between the conductors and the assembly housing. Also, since the seal between the housing and conductors is created by heat shrinkable material, a single connector assembly will accommodate conductors of various sizes.
Another feature and advantage of this invention is the provision of a connector assembly as described above with removable plugs positioned within certain of the tubular legs so that additional conductors can be added and hermetically sealed in the assembly from time to time as desired. Again, due to the use of heat shrinkable material for creating the seal, the additional conductors that can be added can be of various sizes.
Another feature and advantage of this invention is the provision of a connector member operable in the connector assembly as described above and wherein the connector includes a pair of axially shiftable, electrical conducting members, one having a continuous, periodically notched, truncated conical inner surface and the other having a continuous similarly periodically notched, truncated conical outer surface whereby the two surfaces can be brought into and held in substantial juxtaposition to define conductor-receiving and clamping recesses with mating notches. With this connector assembly, a plurality of conductors can be simultaneously connected by simply tightening the two members to bring the surfaces into juxtaposition. The two members can be provided with split adapters fitting in mating notches so that different conductor sizes can be connected together with one connector and all the conductors held with substantially uniform pressure.
These objects, features and advantages of the invention will be better understood and others will become apparent when reference is made to the following disclosure, especially in view of the attached drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational sectional view of the structure shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along 33 of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 4 is a view similar to a portion of FIG. 2 showing another embodiment of the invention.
Referring now to the drawings wherein similar characters of reference represent corresponding parts in each of the several views, there is shown a re-enterable connector assembly A in accordance with the present invention for housing the connection between a plurality of parallel conductors 10 which may be of different sizes. As shown, conductor 10 is of smaller diameter than the other conductors 10.
Connector assembly A includes a pair of generally cupshaped cover members 12 and 14. Cover member 12 of, for example, molded rigid plastic is provided at its open the line end, with external threads 16 disposed so as to cooperate with internal threads 18 at the open end of cover member 14. An O-ring 20 slidable over threads 16 is provided to ensure an air and water tight fit when members 12 and 14 are screwed together.
Member 14 includes integral therewith at its bottom or closed end a plurality of parallel tubular legs or sleeves 22 defining openings or passages through which conductors 10 are inserted and secured to a common connector 24, described in greater detail below. Member 14 is formed of electrically insulating material such as, for example, thermally stabilized modified polyolefin with the legs 22 modified so as to be shrinkable upon application of heat. Any heat recoverable material having the property of elastic memory can be utilized. Typically, a sealant 23 characterized as a non-setting, non-sa ging sealant adhesive such as a semithermoplastic sealant is coated on the inside surface of the legs 22. Upon application of heat the sealant 23 softens and the legs 22 shrink onto the conductors 10 and 10' so that the sealant flows around the cable and partially out through the contracting end of the legs 22 forming a permanent mechanical seal.
In applications where cables are desirably added and sealed subsequently, a plug 26 is sealed into open legs 22 by application of slight heat. These plugs can be removed subsequently and replaced by a conductor 10. Only when it is desired to utilize a specific tubular passage is the particular plug 26 removed therefrom to allow insertion of a conductor 10. It will be apparent to one skilled in this art that plugs 26 may be removed in a number of ways such as by mechanical force typically with slight heat.
Connector 24 includes a circular male insert or member 28 having a truncated conical outer surface with a plurality of semicylindrical indentations or notches 30 spaced periodically therearound. This male insert 28 includes a cenrtal threaded hole (not shown) in about the center thereof for receiving a correspondingly threaded bolt 32. A female circular component or member 34 provided with a truncated conical internal surface corresponding to the external surface of insert 28 is provided with a mating series of semicylindrical indentations 36.
This circular component 34 is further provided with a central aperture 38 of a diameter larger than the diameter of bolt 32. In this manner bolt 32 will pass freely through aperture 38 into threadable engagement with the threaded central opening in male insert 28 so that by tightening bolt 32 into the threaded hole in male insert 28, male insert 28 and female component 34 are drawn together to define at the mating notches 30 and 36 openings of decreasing cross-section for clamping therein necting the conductors 10. Split hollow cylindrical adapters 31 and 37 fit within the mating notches 30 and 36, respectively, to reduce the cross-sectional areas of an opening to aocommodatee conductors 10' of smaller diameter. Naturally, adapters of various thicknesses can be utilized so that conductors of various sizes can all be clamped in the connector 24 with substantially uniform pressure.
The completed assembly when tightly sealed as shown in FIG. 2 provides a connector assembly which completely encloses, physically protects, insulates and hermetically seals the conductors and connector element. By the construction of the assembly, the housing can be opened to change or adjust the connector or to add additional conductors without disturbing the position of the existing conductors 10 or effecting the seal previously established between the conductor and the connector housing. Within the scope of this invention, connectors constructed and operable different from the particular connector 24 shown can be utilized with the remaining assembly illustrated and claimed.
The present invention is particularly well suited for underground residential electrical distribution systems wherein service and secondary cables of different diameters can be easily connected together and hermetically sealed within one assembly. However, the present invenand electrically contion is useful and desirable in many other applications such as, for example, community antenna television systems, telephone systems, fire alarm and traffic signal cable systems, etc.
In accordance with another aspect of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 4, the legs 22 of the cup-shaped member 14 can be made of rigid molded plastic material and a sleeve 25 of heat shrinkable material, typically internally coated with sealant 23', dimensioned to slide over the legs 22' and conductors 10 to produce the seal therebetween. Again, the sleeves can be formed of thermally stabilized modified polyolefin which will shrink onto both the legs 22 and conductors 10 upon application of heat.
Although several embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be apparent that other adaptations and modifications can be made without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention.
What is claimed:
1. A re-enterable electrical conductor assembly for use with a number of electrical conductors comprising: a pair of cup-shaped members formed from an electrically insulating material, said members having cooperating screw means at the open ends thereof for releasably interconnecting the members to define a closed chamber adapted to contain a connector, one of the members having means defining a plurality of parallel tubular passages through the closed cup end thereof for permitting a plurality of parallel electrical conductors to extend into the chamber, connecting means within said chamber including a pair of relatively shiftable, electrically conducting members, one of said members having a continuous, periodically notched, truncated conical inner surface and the other member having a continuous, periodically notched, truncated conical outer surface adapted to be moved into substantial juxtaposition to the inner periphery of the first-mentioned member with the notches of the members in mating relationship to define conductor-receiving and clamping recesses, and means for releasably interconnecting said conducting members, whereby the proximal ends of such conductors can be electrically connected together by a connector.
2. A hermetically sealed, reenterable assembly suitable for interconnecting the ends of a number of electrical conductors, comprising: a pair of cup-shaped members including means thereon for releasably interconnecting the same to define a closed chamber, one of said members having a plurality of tubular legs each defining an opening suitable for insertion therethrough of the end of an electrical conductor into said chamber; means for electrically connecting said ends of such conductors in said chamber; each of said legs being of heat-shrinkable material and including a sealant disposed along the inside surface thereof to provide a hermetic seal around an electrical conductor when said conductor is inserted into a respective leg and sufficient heat is applied to cause said sealant to flow and said leg to shrink around the respective conductor.
3. The assembly in accordance with claim 2 wherein at least one of said legs is provided with a removable plug temporarily secured in the outer end thereof to maintain the desired hermetic seal within said chamber when said at least one leg is free of a conductor.
4. The assembly in accordance with claim 3 wherein said removable plug is heat-sealed in said leg.
5. The assembly in accordance with claim 2 wherein said sealant is a non-setting adhesive.
6. A hermetically sealed, re-enterable assembly suitable for interconnecting the ends of a number of electrical conductors, comprising: a pair of cup-shaped members including means thereon for releasably interconnecting the same to define a closed chamber, a plurality of tubular legs having first and second ends, each of said first ends being integral with one of said members to define an opening suitable for insertion therethrough of the end of an electrical conductor into said chamber; means within said chamber for electrically interconnecting said ends of such conductors; and a heat-shirnkable sleeve overlapping the second end of each of said plurality of legs, said sleeves including a sealant disposed along the inside surface thereof whereby, when conductors are inserted into respective sleeves and legs and said sleeves are subjected to sutficient heat to produce shrinkage around a respective conductor and cause said sealant to flow around said conductor, said assembly will provide a hermetic seal around the ends of said conductors.
7. The assembly in accordance with claim 6 wherein said sealant is non-setting adhesive.
8. The assembly in accordance with claim 3 including,
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 5/ 1927 Reiser 17487 4/ 1951 Salmons.
9/1965 Ruddell et al 174-91 X 5/1966 Kohler 174-93 7/1966 Daum et a1. 174--71 2/1967 Ellis 17484 4/1967 Jacks et al 339270 X FOREIGN PATENTS 7/ 1949 France.
in combination, said conductors heat-sealed in said legs 15 RICHARD E. MOORE, Primary Examiner.
and interconnected in said chamber.