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Publication numberUS3547371 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 15, 1970
Filing dateOct 30, 1968
Priority dateOct 30, 1968
Publication numberUS 3547371 A, US 3547371A, US-A-3547371, US3547371 A, US3547371A
InventorsHorst A Gruseck
Original AssigneeHorst A Gruseck
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Water skiing tow rope retriever
US 3547371 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

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FOREIGN PATENTS r u mine 0 .8.- "C mm WGM a dN M ye en a f nea a h Wn S 0 0 6 S 9r r. le e /.n h lu mm a m E 2 W1"? 0a m Omko nm PAA R u m Wm R m T m E u R m E m P n O m R m Wm m m g .m m w "r K m 54 m R a mm e C 5 W1 U M U H w [51] Int. Bh /48, B65h 75/42 242/86 5 ABSTRACT: A water ski tow rope retrieving device which is 86.5A,100,106,107,107.1,107.11,107.2,

[50] Field of adapted to be fixed to the rear of a tow boat. The device is characterized by a spring biased drum which automatically 1074 1 14/235 winds up the tow rope or at least the greater portion of its length when a water skier falls and lets go of the rope. The

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,587,427 6/1926 Schwier........................

drum is made in two parts, one for receiving the rope arid one PATENTEU 05m 5 I970 INVIEN'IURv HORST GRUSECK ww g Attorneys WATER SKIING TOW ROPE RETRIEVER This invention relates to water skiing tow ropes and is particularly concerned with a spring loaded reel for automatically retrieving a tow rope.

As is well known, the sport of water skiing involves the use of a power boat for towing the skier by means of a rope. Heretofore, it has been the usual practice to fix the rope to the rear of the boat, often using a special bracket for holding the rope above the transom, particularly when the boat is driven by an outboard motor.

The common practice of fixing the rope to the boat in the manner mentioned above has several drawbacks. When a skier falls and lets go of the rope, the full length of the rope is dragged through the water. This means that when the operator of the boat wants to circle about in order that the skier may regrip the rope, the boat must be steered through a wide circle as to avoid crossing over the rope as it lies on the surface of the water.

Secondly, as the boat moves through the water with the full length of the rope being dragged behind, there is the danger that the rope might be entangled about another swimmer. Many accidents have occurred in this way as a boat operator does not always have perfect visibility with respect to other swimmers and does not always know the exact path that the rope is taking as it is dragged through the water.

Thirdly, while good water skiing technique dictates the use of a second person in the boat to watch the skier and while this third person often is able to reach over the rear of the boat to drag in the rope hand over hand, this usually requires that the third person stand up which is a bad practice in itself.

In view of the above, it is the object of this invention to provide a spring operated retrieving mechanism for automatically coiling up a water ski tow rope and which is adapted to be fixed to the rear ofa water skiing tow boat.

It is a more specific object of the invention to provide a device as above described which is adapted to swing through a horizontal are as to prevent the rope from binding when the skier moves from side to side across the path of travel of the boat.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a device as previously described which is capable of adjustment to change the preset bias in the spring.

The above objects are accomplished by a spring operated rope retrieving device comprising a U-shaped bracket having means for fixing the bracket to the rear portion of a power boat, an axle fixed to and extending between the arms of said U-shaped bracket, a drum mounted on said axle for rotation relative thereto, a spiral spring having its inner end fixed to the axle and its outer end fixed to said drum and a tow rope being attached at its inner end to the axle and passing through an aperture in said drum whereby rotation of the drum in a first direction winds the rope on the outside of the drum, said spring being mounted so that the bias of the spring tends to rotate the drum as to wrap the rope around the drum and so that an outward pull on the rope will unwind the rope from the drum against the bias of the spring.

The invention will be more thoroughly understood from the following description of a preferred embodiment thereof as read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

In the drawings,

FIG. I is an exploded perspective view of a rope retrieving mechanism in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view ofthe mechanism shown in FIG. I in its assembled condition;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view ofa part ofthe device shown in FIGS. I and 2 and illustrating an alternative arrangement for fixing the device to a boat; and

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a modified form of outercasing for the device.

Referring to FIG. I, the chief components of the device of the invention consists ofa U-shaped bracket 10, an axle 12, a drum I4 and a spiral spring 16 contained within the drum.

U-shaped bracket is preferably formed of iron or steel as is axle 112. It is these two components which bear the load exerted upon the device by the drag of a water skier. In accordance with the FIG. I embodiment of the invention, the web portion Illa of the U-shaped bracket is adapted to be fixed to a bar 18 which is commonly carried by a tow boat to hold the rope above the motor. As is well known, this type of bar is considered necessary when the boat is powered by an outboard motor. The particular U-shaped bracket shown in FIG. I, therefore, adapts the illustrated device for attachment to a boat already having this type of bar installed. Where such a bar is not used, the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3 might be employed for attaching the device directly to the transom of the boat.

In the case of the FIG. I attachment arrangement, a pair of U-bolts having threaded ends are adapted to be passed through holes 22 in the web of the bracket and held in place by means of nuts 24. In the case of the FIG. 3 form of the attaching arrangement, one or two C-clamps similar to those normally fixed to outboard motors are attached to the web of the bracket by nut and bolt assemblies 26.

The axle is held between the other ends of the arms of the U-shaped bracket by a pair of machine bolts 28 received in threaded holes in the ends of the axle. To prevent relative movement between the axle and the bracket, the upper end of the axle is keyed into an appropriately shaped hole in the top arm of the bracket. Adjustment to the preset bias on the spring is accomplished by removing bolts 28 and spreading apart the bracket arms as to free the upper end of the axle, thereby permitting its rotation.

The rope winding drum carried by the axle is preferably a two-piece item so that the spring may be stored in the lower part of the drum, leaving a part of the axle exposed within the upper part of the drum whereby the rope may be attached to the axle without interfering with the spring. Thus, the drum consists of two parts 14a and 14b which are held together by elongated machine bolts 34. Threaded holes are provided in the lower drum part to receive the lower ends of the bolts 34. The upper part 14a carries the rope with the inner end of the latter being passed through aperture 15 and tied loosely to the axle. With this arrangement, full extension of the rope places a direct load upon the axle which is in turn transferred through the U-shaped bracket 10 to the transom of the boat. The lower part 14b of the drum carries the spring and essentially consists ofa shallow circular dish having a cover plate 17 closing its lower end and held in place by screws I9. The top wall of part 14b carries a raised portion 21 which is dimensioned so that the wall 23 of the upper drum part is accurately located.

Axle I2 is provided with an elongated slot 25 extending from its upper end to a point located within the lower drum part 14b whereby the inner end of spring 16 may be fixed to the axle. This arrangement provides for dismantlement of the device without removing the spring from the lower drum part. Oil soaked felt washers 27 or suitable alternative means such as O-rings are positioned on the axle on the top and lower surfaces of the lower drum part as to seal the latter against the entrance of water.

Spring 16 is formed of spring steel or other suitable spring material and, as previously mentioned, is fixed at its inner end to the axle by being received in the slot 25 in the axle. At its outer end it is fixed to the drum as by being received in a slot 29 in the outer wall or by other suitable means such as a rivet through the wall. Needless to say, the spring is so arranged that it is in its relaxed position when the rope is wound on the drum so that pulling the rope off the drum winds up the spring.

As previously mentioned, the rope is tied to the axle and is passed through a hole 15 in the wall of the drum. This is a preferred expedient as it ensures that the load imposed upon the reel by the drag of a water skier will be transferred directly to the axle and to bracket If). Alternatively, the rope could be fixed to the outside surface of the drum but as the drum is preferably made of a relatively inexpensive and light plastic or the like, the better arrangement is to fix the rope directly to the axle.

As a further preferred expedient, the drum is enclosed within an outer two-piece casing 48 which also might be formed of plastic as by molding. Fiber washers 50 are positioned around the axle between the inside surfaces of the easing 48 and the top and lower faces of the drum to reduce friction between the drum and the casing. The two parts of the casing are held together by screws 52. A rotatable guide 54 is used to line one side of an aperture 56 through the casing wall. This is preferably formed of a slick plastic and is carried for rotation on a pin 57 received in socket holes 59. Holes 60 are formed in the bottom of the casing to allow for drainage.

As will be appreciated from the foregoing, the casing 48 is capable of rotating about the axle. This is a preferred arrangement in order to permit the reel to rotate as the skier moves from side to side relative to the direction of movement of the boat as when slalomming, for example. On the other hand, it is mandatory that the casing not be capable of full rotation as this would cause the rope to jam between the casing and the bracket 10. Accordingly, a stud 61 is carried by the bracket and is positioned to stand in the path of the heads of the machine screws 52. The latter are located to allow about 90 rotation of the casing. Alternatively, the casing may be formed with a molded groove 62 such as shown in FIG. 4 and which extends only one quarter of the perimeter of the casing so that the ends of the grooves act as the stop members which engage the stud 61 in lieu of the heads of screws 52.

The spring is selected and adjusted so that it is capable of winding up the rope with the full length of the rope being dragged through the water even when the boat is moving. On the other hand, the bias of the spring must not be so strong that the drag of a water skier is not sufficient to overcome it as to allow the rope to be fully extended. It will be appreciated, of course, that for special conditions this selection may be varied. A certain amount of adjustment in the spring tension is possible by prewinding or unwinding the spring relative to the bracket 10.

As a further preferred expedient, the rope handle 64 is provided with a pair of fins 66 which cause the nose of the handle to ride on the top of the water, thereby preventing the nose from diving and causing unusual drag. The rope is also provided with a ball device 68 that engages the rope by friction but which may be moved along the rope to change its position relative to handle 64. It grips the rope bysufficient friction to prevent it from moving along the rope when it butts up against the casing 48 when the rope is retrieved under spring pressure. On the other hand, the friction between the ball and the rope is not so strong as to prevent manual manipulation of the ball along the rope. The purpose of this ball device is to provide adjustable means for governing the amount of rope that is wound on the drum. Thus, the ball may be positioned to leave a few feet of rope dragging so that when the handle is engaged by the skier, the latter will be positioned a few feet from the boat and away from the prop of the motorfThe leaving of a few feet of rope trailing behind the boat does not detract from the chief objects of the invention.


1. A water skiing tow rope storage and receiving device comprising: A U-shaped bracket, a shaft fixed to and extending between the arms of said bracket, mounting means for mounting said bracket to the transom of a boat, a moulded plastic housing having a hollow cylindrical chamber formed therein and a rope passage opening outwardly therefrom, said housing being pivotably mounted on said shaft to pivot through an arc of with said rope passage directed outwardly on said bracket, a winding drum consisting of a circular end flange having a diameter to fit in a close fitting sliding relationship within said cylindrical chamber, and a cylindrical drum portion of a substantially smaller diameter secured to and projecting axially from one face of said flange, said flange being rotatably mounted on said shaft, said drum having an inner diameter which is substantiall larger than the diameter of said shaft so as to be spaced ra rally outwardly from said shaft, passage means extending through said drum to permit a tow rope to pass therethrough to be secured to said shaft, said drum being rotatable in said housing and said housing being rotatable on said shaft to permit the through passage of said drum to be aligned with the outlet passage of said housing such that when a rope is fully extended it may extend outwardly from said housing in a straight line through said drum and housing such that all of the towing force is carried by said shaft, a spring housing consisting of a pair of circular sidewalls and a cylindrical outer wall, said spring housing having an outer diameter which is substantially greater than the diameter of said winding drum to fit in the close fitting sliding relationship within said housing, central passage means formed in said spring housing for rotatably mounting said spring housing on said shaft, a spiral spring mounted in said spring housing and having an inner end secured to said shaft and an outer end secured to said spring housing, said winding drum being detachably secured to said spring housing such that the rotational force applied to said spring housing by said spring is transmitted to said drum, one sidewall of said spring housing forming a sidewall of said winding drum.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3689004 *May 12, 1971Sep 5, 1972Stanley WorksReplacement cartridge for a coilable rule
US3707109 *Feb 14, 1972Dec 26, 1972August BohanecCamera strap retractor
US3982613 *Aug 7, 1975Sep 28, 1976Leeds Travelwear, A Division Of Rapid-American CorporationRetractable pull strap on wheeled luggage
US4103843 *Mar 29, 1976Aug 1, 1978Carl NothdurftFishing reel
US4407460 *Mar 23, 1981Oct 4, 1983Vreij KhudaverdianAutomatic tow rope rewinder
US4431144 *Jun 10, 1982Feb 14, 1984Foster Christopher FWater ski rope storage accessory
US4730783 *Aug 5, 1985Mar 15, 1988Spencer Products CompanyTape measure
US4969610 *Dec 12, 1988Nov 13, 1990Jerry TaylorRope rewinding device for a ski boat
US5209420 *Dec 23, 1991May 11, 1993Mcgill Manufacturing Company, Inc.Dual mode reel mounting mechanism
US5697572 *Aug 9, 1995Dec 16, 1997Hammerhead Industries, Inc.Retractable holder
US6073875 *Aug 27, 1998Jun 13, 2000Paugh; Edward C.Retraction reel for keys and the like
US6290158 *Oct 14, 1999Sep 18, 2001Yuh-Lin HuangReel device carried on one's person
US6419175 *Feb 8, 2001Jul 16, 2002Vulcan Spring & Manufacturing CompanyRetractor having a swivel attachment component
US6463868 *Jul 30, 2001Oct 15, 2002The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The NavyTether retraction device
US6505573Jul 12, 2001Jan 14, 2003Sherwin SheikholeslamTowrope retriever for watercraft
US6672238Dec 23, 2002Jan 6, 2004Sherwin SheikholeslamTowrope retriever for watercraft
US8651461May 17, 2010Feb 18, 2014Global Innovative Sports IncorporatedTowrope winch safety shutoff switch
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US8757532Dec 15, 2011Jun 24, 2014Tenacious Holdings, Inc.Retractable lanyard
US8776732 *Feb 29, 2012Jul 15, 2014Carl S. BredesenRetractable leash
US9592890Jan 18, 2010Mar 14, 2017Global Innovative Sports IncorporatedTowrope winch rider profile
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US20130219668 *Feb 29, 2012Aug 29, 2013Carl S. BredesenRetractable Leash
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EP2429889A4 *May 3, 2010Jan 15, 2014Marine Puller Patent AsPull-in device for a towline
U.S. Classification242/377, 242/379.2
International ClassificationB65H75/42, B65H75/48, B63B35/81
Cooperative ClassificationB65H2701/35, B65H75/425, B63B35/816, B65H75/486
European ClassificationB65H75/42V, B65H75/48S, B63B35/81T2