US 3556015 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
a United States Patent 1  Inventor David R. Pender 1018 Marion St., Columbia, S.C. 29201  Appl. No. 815,057 7 22 Filed Apr. 10, 1969 Patented Jan. 19,1971 Continuation-impart of application Ser. No. 691 32 Qst- 22119158.. e .ahamiqnss D 54 SK! LIFT 12 Claims, 5 Drawing Figs.
 US. Cl 104/173,
- 105/150 51 Int. Cl B6lb 11 00, 1361b 7/10  Field ofSearcli 104/20, 173,178, 89, ;297/94,104,195, 353; 280/173, 175; /148,
 References Cited UNlTED STATES PATENTS 346,953 8/1886 Scott 280/173 670,323 3/1901 Kennedy 280/175 1,033,156 Conboy 297/104 2,624,289 1/ 1953 Pomagalski 104/ 1 73 2,699,199 1/1955 Huntington 104/173 3,125,964 3/1964 Si1verman.... 104/89 3,417,710 12/1968 Kokes 104/173 FOREIGN PATENTS 193,822 2/1936 Switzerland 104/173 Primary Examiner-Arthur L. La Point Assistant Examiner-Robert Saifer Anorney-B. P. Fishburne, Jr.
v I4 I" h I Lam MIC
PATENIEUJAMQIQYI 3.558015 SHEET 1 BF 2 FIGI INVENTOR Davl'd R. Pen Jer ATTORNEY PMENIEU JAN 1 91am 4 3559 15 sum-:1 2 UF 2 INVENTOR Da v R. Pandev ATTORNEY SKI LIFT v CROSS-REFERENCE RELATED APPLICATIQN This application is a continuation-input of prior copending application Ser. No. 769,559, filed Oct. 22, 1968, for SKI LIFT, and constitutes an improvement on and simplification thereof. g
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION As set forth in said priorapplication, a strong need exists for a faster, safer and more efficient lift structure to convey skiers frorn'the bottom to the top of a ski-slope. These objectives must beattained with economy in order to be practical and ideally the improvements should be compatible with existing equipment to the greatest possible extent.
The present invention meets and deals with several main lift, the saddle chair must be removed from the path of the skier to allow "skiing off and away from the chair safely and unimpeded. Three, the relatively fast movement of the saddle chair system requires some means for the orderly support of ski poles on the, lift and some systematic use of the poles while mounting and demounting so that there is no waste motion or effort on the part of the skier. Four, the rear-mounted nature of the saddlechair or seat eliminates a permanent back support on the chair and for the sake of comfort and safety rendersa tip uplor swingable back desirable. Five, for efficient mounting and demounting, there should be some assistance to balance and some way to control the speed, both acceleration and deceleration of the individual skier while mounting and demounting.
The present invention satisfies the above-mentioned requirements in a more straightforward, simpler, and more economical way than the corresponding invention of the prior application. Additionally,this invention faces and solves other problems not previously met by the prior art. More particularly, in the present invention, there is an integration in the solution of the problems of balance, acceleration and deceleration of the skier, stability of the saddle chair, handling of the ski poles, and movement of the chair away from the path of the skier at the upper-terminal of the lift.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWING FIGURES view of the lift at the lower ter- Detailed Description Referring to the drawings in detail, wherein like numerals designate like parts throughout the same, attention being directed first to FIGS. 1 through 4, wherein the numeral 10 designates suitable supporting framework at the lower terminal of the ski lift having mounted thereon a drive motor 11 having a small driving gear 12 meshing with a larger gear 13 on a suitably supported vertical shaft 14 carrying a horizontal bull wheel 15, around which is trained the main cable 16 of the lift. It should be understood that a second bull wheel and suitable framework supporting the same is provided at the upper terminal of the ski lift, not shown, and appropriate intermediate supporting and guiding means for the main cable between the upper and lower terminals are also included. These conventional elements need not be shown in the drawings for a complete understanding of the present improvements.=
The lift further comprises a plurality of saddle chair units 17 each having laterally balanced twin saddle seats to be described. Each unit 17 is suspended from the main cable 16 and is coupled thereto by a center bolt grip device 18 as disclosed in said prior copending application. Each chair unit 17 further includes a hanger bar 19 suspended from the grip device 18 and having an intermediate offset portion 20. A horizontal seat supporting crossbar 21 is provided at the lower end of the hanger bar 19 and is rigidly connected with the hanger bar through sturdy diagonal braces 22. The hanger bar 19 and cross bar 21 are further rigidly interconnected by a longitudinal generally horizontal stabilizer wheel support bar 23 projecting rearwardly of the crossbar 21 and secured directly thereto and to the lower end of the hanger bar by welding or the like.
Each unit 17 further includes a pair of L-shaped seat support frames 24-25, depending from rigidly secured to the crossbar 21 and spaced equidistantly laterally from the center of the chair unit. A saddle or straddle-type seat 26 is suitably fixedly secured to each seat frame and the two seats of each unit are at an elevation well below the bars 21 and 23, as shown.
Each unit 17 further includes a forwardly projecting footrest 27 on each seat frame 24-25 to support the skis and feet of a skier on the associated seat 26. Each unit 17 has a pair of vertically swingable generally U-shaped backrests 28 whose arms are pivotally connected at 29 and 29' to the crossbar 21 on opposite sides of the hanger bar 19. The backrests 28 are independently operable and individual to the seats 26 and are freely swingable forwardly to a nonuse position, as depicted in FIG. 2, or rearwardly to a use position, as in FIG. 3.
When in the nonuse position of FIG. 2, the outer arms of each backrest 28 engages a positive stop element 30 rigid with the crossbar 21. When in the rearward or use position, the same arm of each backrest engages a like positive stop element 31. As shown, the stop elements 30 and 31 are conveniently the forward and rear ends of loops welded to the crossbar 21 fixedly at the outer end portions of the crossbar.
A ski pole supporting resilient clips 32 are firmly secured a s as at 33, FIG. 4, to the longitudinal outer bars 34 in pairs. As shown in FIG. 4, each clip has a flared entrance portion 35 to facilitate entry of two ski poles 36 between the sides of the clip, which sides are corrugated to provide opposed socket portions 37 into which the poles fit snugly. Each clip or holder has a fabric belt liner 38 which prevents bottoming of the ski poles in the clip so that the skier does not strike his knuckles against the center part of the holder while placing the ski poles in the holder.
A pair of guiding and stabilizing wheels 39 are journaled upon the rear end of the support bar 23 and close to opposite sides of this bar. These wheels of each chair unit are adapted to ride up onto and engage the tops of a pair of spaced parallel hand rails 40 also serving as tracks for the wheels. The handrails 40 are supported at intervals by posts 41 and the handrail structure is provided at both the lower and upper terminals of the ski lift apparatus in sufficient lengths to provide adequate time for skiers to mount the seats 26 at the lower terminal and dismount at the upper terminal of the lift, as will be further discussed. The handrails 40, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, are at the center of the chair units 17 or midway between the two seats 26 thereof and substantially directly under the periphery of the overhead bull wheel 15 for the main cable. As viewed in FIG. 2, the handrails 40 are straight and substantially tangent to the bull wheel 15. As shown in FIG. 1, the handrails extend for some distances upstream and downstream from the bull wheel axis and, again, these distances should be, adequate to allow all skiers to safely tively fast moving chair units 17 as they pass around the near side of the downhill bull wheel 15. The approach slope may be natural or manmade and may be lined with natural snow, artificial snow, small rollers, certain forms of carpeting, and like artificial skiing surfaces which are known to the art. A gap 43 is provided in the handrails 40 at one point to allow passage without interference of the outer side seat frames 24 where the chair units pass around the outer side of the bull wheel 15. A like gap is provided in the corresponding rail at the uphill terminal of the lift, not shown. Still referring to FIG. 1, the approach slope 42 is preferably depressed below normal ground level adjacent the rail gap 43 so that other parts of the moving chair units 17 do not strike the adjacent ski pole curb or wall, now to be described.
A pair of low walls or curbs 44 are arranged equidistantly from the handrails 40 on opposite sides thereof and parallel thereto and preferably coextensive with the handrails. As shown in FIG. 3, the curbs 44 are placed well outwardly and inwardly of the two seats 26 and their tops are to relatively low elevations. The tops of the curbs 44 may be capped with carpeting or the like to enable the points of the ski poles to make good purchase therewith during mounting or demounting operations. if preferred. the curbs 44 may be formed as troughs and filled with natural snow or the like. The individual skiers approaching the seats 26 or dismounting therefrom utilize the skiing space between the handrail posts 41 and the curbs 44 which is an adequate space for safety.
Overhead parallel closely spaced hanger bar guide rails 45 are suitably suspended from the main supporting framework 10 and these rails serve to prevent lateral swaying of the bars 19 and thus provide initial alignment of the stabilizer wheels 39 with the handrails 40 when the wheels engage these rails or tracks. Following initial engagement. the wheels 39 are maintained in proper track engagement by substantially inverted U-shaped shrouds 46 whose opposing sidewalls pass close to the sides of the handrails 40, see FIGS. 2 and 3. The shrouds 46 may be secured to the axles of the stabilizing wheels 37. Upturned lips 47 on opposite sides of each shroud 46 serve as stops or supports for the interior arms of the swingable backrests 28 to further stabilize the same when in the use position, FIGS. 1 and 3.
FIG. of the drawings shows a modification of the saddle chair stabilizing means, wherein a small stabilizing wheel 48 engageable with a suitable ground tract is carried by an extension arm 49 of the seat frame 24--25. In lieu of the wheel 48, a small runner element 50 shown in broken lines could be em ployed. Either alternative arrangement in FIG. 5 may be utilized at the mounting and demounting zones of the lift in lieu of the stabilizing wheels 39. The stabilizing arrangement in FIG. 5 has the advantage that it may be employed with or without a handrail.
Operation At the point of pushoff on the approach slope 42 while the cable 16 and associated parts is in normal speed operation, the skier takes the point of one ski pole and puts it through the webbing of the ring of the other ski pole and wraps the hand strap of one pole around the handle of the other pole so that the two ski poles can be held in the outside hand (left skier, left hand, FIG. 3; right skier, right hand) at a point l2 to 18 inches down from the handle.
On each skiers inside is a hand rail 40 and on his outside is a ski pole curb 44, as described. When a chair unit 17 reaches a predetermined point, such as depicted by the rearmost unit in FIG. 1. the skier pushes off on the approach slope 42 using one hand rail 40 on his inside and the two ski poles held in his outside hand and utilizing the adjacent ski pole curbing. As the skier approaches the rear of the moving saddle seat 26, he can maintain balance and accelerate or decelerate as needed by using his ski poles on the curb 44 and the hand rail 40. Deceleration is accomplished by tightening the gloved hand on the rail as a friction brake. As the skier reaches a position to straddle the seat 26 and sit upon the same, he releases the handrail 40 and grasps the near brace 22 with his inside hand. He then uses his outside hand to place the tow ski poles into engagement with the adjacent pair of clips or holders 32, as described. The skier now assumes a sitting position on the seat 26, places his skis on the footrest 27, flips the pivoted backrest behind his back and is carried up the ski slope with relative comfort and safety.
As described, the mounting and demounting terminals are similar and both have the hand railings 40 and ski pole curbs 44. in lieu of the depression in the approach slope described in connection with H6. 1, there could be a gap in the curb 44 to allow passage of the saddle chair unit without interference and these details may be varied.
Stability for mounting the seat as well as dismounting is provided by the wheels 39 and associated parts already described. When the units 17 are free-hanging, the bars 19 are vertical, FIG. 1, and the seat 26 is slightly inclined rearwardly. This is an advantage because it requires the skier to utilize the backrest where he might otherwise be tempted to forego using it with a sacrifice or safety if the seat were perfectly level.
At the mounting or demounting zone, when the stabilizing wheels 39 ride up onto the tracks 40 as shown for the right hand chair unit in FIG. 1, the saddle seat 26 is held in a level and slightly aft position with the bar 19 inclined from the vertical. This arrangement stabilizes the seat and prevents it from swinging forwardly at the critical time when it is struck from the rear by the skier. When the skier is safely mounted on the seat 26 with the backrest in the use position, the chair unit 17 will pass beyond the region of the rail or track 40 and the curbs 44 which extend only through the mounting and demounting zones. Demounting at the uphill terminal is accomplished by reversing the procedure for mounting. The skier flips the backrest 28 forwardly to the nonuse position, removes the skis from rest 27 and places them on the snowcovered demounting chute or slope, stands up, pulls the ski poles from clips 32 holding them near the midpoint of their shafts and grasps handrail 40. If necessary, the skier uses the handrail for braking or decelerating to allow the chair unit to curve around the uphill bull wheel so as to be out of the way and then the skier uses the hand rail, ski poles and curb 44 to push on through the demounting chute. For added safety, the gap 43 in the handrail at the uphill terminal should be wide enough to allow passage of the skier as well as the outside seat frame in case the skier does not dismount. At the uphill demounting terminal, it may be desirable to make the demounting chute essentially level to a point beyond that at which the chair unit 17 moves out of the way of the skier with the upper bull wheel. The rail 40 at the upper demounting terminal, upon engaging the stabilizing wheels 39 and swinging the seat 26 to a level position, will alert the skier to demount and position him favorably for demounting.
it should now be clear that the invention solves a number of persisting problems incident to efficient ski lift operation. With the invention, the problems of balance, acceleration, deceleration, stability of the seat, handling of the ski poles and movement of the seat or chair away from the skier are taken care of. it is felt that the advantages of the invention over the prior art and the aforementioned application will be apparent to those skilled in the art without the need for any further description.
1. A ski lift apparatus comprising a power driven overhead conveyor element adapted to carry seat units up and down a ski slope, plural spaced seat units connected with and suspended from the conveyor element, each seat unit including a hanger bar having its top connected with the conveyor element, a rear mountable straddle-type seat secured to the lower end of the hanger bar, and a pivoted backrest yoke adapted to be swung rearwardly over the head of a skier seated on the seat to assume a stable position behind the skiers back, said backrest yoke also having a forward nonuse stable position where the backrest yoke projects forwardly of the seat and hanger bar, and a stabilizing arm means on each seat unit adapted to engage a relatively stationary guide structure at least adjacent the downhill mounting zone of the apparatus so that each seat unit is guided in a stable manner while the skier is mounting the seat thereof.
2. The structure of claim 1, and a foot rest means secured to each seat unit. 7 v I V 3. The structure of claim 2, and holder means for ski poles on each seat unit enabling the poles to be stowed while the skier is being carried up the ski slope.
4. The structure of claim 1, and a positive stop positioning means for said backrest yoke in both the nonuse and active use positions thereof.
5. The structure of claim 1, and each seat unit comprising a crossbar on the hanger bar extending on opposite sides thereof, a laterally spaced pair of rear-mounted straddle-type seats dependingly secured to said crossbar, said stabilizing arm means of each seat unit disposed between said pair of seats and above the seats at a proper elevation to engage a handrailing structure between the seats at said downhill mounting zone, said crossbar and arm means being at substantially the same elevation.
6. The structure of claim 5, and stabilizing wheel means on the rear end of said arm means adapted to engage the top of said hand-railing structure.
7. In a ski lift apparatus, an overhead conveyor. structure following a ski slope from a downhill terminal to a hilltop ter' minal, seat units connected with the conveyor structure and suspended therefrom and traveling therewith, each seat unit comprising a hanger bar having its top secured to the conveyor structure and being normally free-hanging, a transverse support bar connected with the hanger bar at an elevation sub stantially below the top of the hanger bar, a pair of generally L-shaped laterally spaced seat frames secured to and dependent' from said transverse support bar, rear mountable saddletype skier seats on the lower arms of said L-shaped seat frames, individually operable pivoted backrest loops on said transverse support bar swingable over the heads of skiers seated on said saddle-type seats and adapted to assume forward nonuse positions and rearward use positions relative to said seats, support stop means for the backrest loops in said nonuse and use positions, and a stabilizing member on each seat unit adapted to engage a coacting stationary stabilizing and guiding structure at the downhill and hill top terminals.
8. The structure of claim 7, and wherein said coacting guiding structure includes a hand-railing at said terminals between said seat frames and seats.
9. The structure of claim 8, and a footrest means on each seat frame projecting forwardly of the adjacent saddle-type seat.
10. The structure of claim 9, and a clip supporting means for ski poles on the opposite end portions of the transverse support bar and spaced from the outboard side of each seat.
11. The structure of claim 10, and low elevation curbings spaced laterally from opposite sides of said hand-railing and laterally outwardly of said seats to be engaged by ski poles held in the outboard hand of each skier.
12. A ski lift apparatus comprising a power driven overhead conveyor element, plural spaced seat units connected with the conveyor element to move therewith, each unit including a hanger bar attached to the conveyor element and at least one rear-mounted straddle-type seat secured to the hanger bar, a movable backrest element on the seat unit swingable over the head of the skier on said seat between use and nonuse positions, and a depending ground-engaging stabilizing element on each seat unit defining the lower terminus of the seat unit and adapted to contact a ground surface element in the zone where the skier is mounting the seat unit.