Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3683316 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 8, 1972
Filing dateDec 18, 1970
Priority dateDec 18, 1970
Publication numberUS 3683316 A, US 3683316A, US-A-3683316, US3683316 A, US3683316A
InventorsWolf Walter A
Original AssigneeSwitches Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Electrical terminal
US 3683316 A
Abstract
An electrical terminal interconnecting two conductive members which includes a threaded opening extending from a surface of one of the members and a resilient elongated conductive strip having spaced legs with one leg connected to the second conductive member and the other leg having latch means cooperating with the thread to releasably lock the second conductive member to the first conductive member.
Images(1)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Wolf Aug. 8, 1972 [54] ELECTRICAL TERMINAL FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS [72] Inven r: W l r A- f, 0g n p 29,506 12/1909 Great Britain ..339/74R Assigneez Switches Incorporated Switzerland R [22] Filed: Dec. 18, 1970 Primary ExaminerJoseph H. McGlynn [21] Appl No 99 393 Att0rney-Dressler, Goldsmith, Clement & Gordon [57] ABSTRACT 2 l. {2 y g g i i i An electrical termmal lnterconnectlng two conductive [58] Field 223 252 members which includes a threaded opening extend ing from a surface of one of the members and a resilient elongated conductive strip having spaced legs with one leg connected to the second conductive [56] References cued member and the other leg having latch means UNITED STATES PATENTS cooperating with the thread to releasably lock the 3 193 795 7/1965 K hb 1 339/252 second conductive member to the first conductive re 1e b 2,126,494 8/1938 Means ..339/74 R mm 6 2,191,297 2/1940 Olson ..339/252 R 10 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PATENTEnAus 81972 3.683.316

FIG.5

lNVENTOR WALTER A. WOLF ATTORNEYS ELECTRICAL TERMINAL BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to an improved electrical terminal for connecting a wire to a conductive member.

In the manufacture of various circuitry, it becomes necessary to interconnect two conductive members of various types. The most common type of permanent.

connection utilized in electrical circuitry is to solder two members together to provide a permanent connection between the members. However, it many instances it becomes necessary to provide some type of releasable connection between two conductive members.

For example, in the automobile industry numerous connections must be made between two conductive members which can readily be separated in case of the need for repair or replacement of either of the members or other associated structures.

While various types of releasable connections for electrically conductive members have been known for years, the auto industry is at all times striving to reduce the cost of manufacturing and assembling the various components of an automobile. Because of the number of vehicles being manufactured annually, a savings of a fraction of a penny in the manufacture or assembly cost for any part results in a considerable annual savings.

While various types of releasable terminal connectors are known these are too expensive to construct and/or are complicated to incorporate into existing structures. In addition, the less expensive types of terminal connectors do not positively interconnect the two members.

Thus, the auto industry, as well as other industries, is continually striving to design terminal connectors that are less expensive while still performing the intended function.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides a simple and inexpensive electrical terminal for connecting the conductive wire to a larger conductive member. The terminal includes a specially designed clip that is connected to the wire and cooperates with a threaded opening in the larger conductive member.

More specifically, the connection includes an elongated sheet metal strip which is reversely bent upon itself approximately at the center to produce two spaced legs interconnected by a bight portion and one of the legs has connecting means for connecting ,the wire thereto. The opposite leg has a locking ledge defined intermediate the ends thereof. The locking ledge is defined by a planar portion extending from the bight portion and an arcuate portion merging with the free end of the planar portion to produce a ledge.

The two conductive members are interconnected by grasping the ends of the legs remote from the bight portion and forcing them towards each other to allow the strip to be inserted into the opening. Once the clip is fully inserted, defined by projections extending from opposite sides of the first leg, the legs are released and the inherent resiliency of the strip will force the locking ledge into engagement with a surface of the groove the thread.

The positive locking action between the strip and the threaded opening results from the combination of the angle of inclination of the thread surface relative to the longitudinal axis of the opening as well as the acute angular relation of the first or planar portion of the leg having the locking ledge defined thereon. In addition, the circular nature of the threaded opening and the flat nature of the locking ledge will cause the opposite edges of the locking ledge to bite into the surface of the thread between the minor and major diameters to positively lock the strip into the threaded opening. In fact, a pulling force tending to pull the wire away from the other conductive member will increase the locking action of the strip within the opening. This arrangement assures that the two conductive members can only be separated by applying a positive force to the free leg adjacent the opening and force the legs together to disengage the locking ledge from the thread surface in the opening.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF DRAWINGS FIG. 1 of the drawings discloses an exemplary environment for the terminal of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged sectional view of the steering column shown in Fig. 1;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the electrical connector be fore the conductive member is connected thereto;

FIG. 4 is a side elevation view of the electrical connector;

FIG. 5 is an end view of the connector as viewed along line 5-5 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a perspective viewof the connector;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary plan view of the connector inserted in the threaded opening; and

FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary view showing the locking ledge and the thread in the opening.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail one specific embodiment, with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the embodiment illustrated.

The illustrated environment for the electrical terminal of the present invention is disclosed in FIG. 1 as an automobile steering mechanism generally indicated at 10 and including a steering column 12. A hub 14 is fixedly secured by a nut 18 (FIG. 2) to a shaft 16 ex tending through the steering column 12 while a steering wheel 20 (FIG. 1) is mounted on the hub by means of spokes 22.

In many commercial automobiles, the steering wheel 20 incorporates a switch for completing the circuitry to various auxiliary equipment, such as a horn. Thus, the first portion of the switch (not shown) is suitably grounded by a wire 24 while the second portion of the switch is connected to a source of current (not shown) through a wire 25. Since it may become necessary to remove the steering wheel 20 and the hub 14 from the steering column for repair or replacement, it is desirable to have a releasable connection for the wires adjacent the upper end of the steering column.

According to the present invention, the electrical terminal for connecting the conductive members 14 and 24 provides a means for positively securing the two members while allowing separation by mere manipulation of parts. Furthermore, the electrical terminal is extremely inexpensive since it includes only one element and a threaded hole.

In the illustrated embodiment, the electrical terminal includes an electrical connector or clip specifically designed and configured to cooperate with a threaded opening in a manner to positively lock the connector in the opening while allowing easy removal by merely grasping the clip at the appropriate locations and applying pressure thereto.

As more clearly illustrated in the drawings, particularly FIG. 2, the electrical terminal includes a threaded opening 30 defined in one conductive member, the hub 14, and an electrical connector or clip 32 carried by the second conductive member or wire 24. The electrical connector 32 is more clearly shown in FIGS. 3 through 6 and includes a resilient, elongated conductive sheet metal strip which is reversely bent upon itself to a substantially U-shaped configuration to define first and second spaced legs 34 and 36 interconnected by a bight portion 38. The first leg 34 has means 40 on the free end thereof to define a connection for the wire 24. Since the wire 24 includes a conductive element 24a enclosed in a sheath of insulation 24b, it is desirable to provide a fixed connection for both the conductive element and the sheath. Thus, according to one aspect of the invention, the connecting means 40 includes a first clamping member 42 and a second clamping member 44. The first clamping member 42 includes spaced arms 46 which extend upwardly from the main body portion of the leg 34 and which are adapted to be crimped around the conductive element or wire 24a, as is shown in the assembled condition in FIG. 2. Likewise, the second clamping member 44 includes a pair of arms 48 extending upwardly from the main body of the first leg 34 and the arms 48 are adapted to be crimped around the sheath of insulation 24b. With this arrangement, both the wire and the sheath are securely fixed to the electrical connector 32.

According to the primary aspect of the present invention, the second leg has latch means defined on an intermediate portion thereof which cooperates with the wall of the opening 30 to secure the conductive members together in a manner which will be explained in more detail hereinafter. The latch means on the second leg is defined by a first planar portion extending from the bight portion 38 at an acute angle with respect to the main body of the first leg 34 and a second arcuate portion 52 merging with the free end of the planar portion to produce a transversely extending ledge 54.

It will be noted from an inspection of FIGS. 3 and 4, that the respective legs are flat between opposite edges 60 and 62 and the first leg 34 has a pair of projections 64 extending outwardly from the opposite edges, for a purpose which will be described later. The flat or planar transverse configuration of the strip will result in the locking ledge being substantially planar between opposite edges or ends 60 and 62, for a purpose which will be described later.

To interconnect the two conductive members 14 and 24, the strip 32 is first connected to the wire 24a by crimping the arms 46 about the wire 24a and the sheath is likewise secured by crimping the arms 48.

Thereafter, the two conductive members are interconnected by grasping the two legs 34 and 36 adjacent the ends which are remote from the bight portion 38 and flexing the legs towards each other to allow the strip to be axially inserted into the threaded opening 30. The extent of axial insertion of the clip into the opening 30 is defined by the projections 64 extending from the opposite edges 60 and 62 of the resilient strip 32. These projections engage the upper edge or end wall of the opening adjacent the surface 66 of the conductive member 14. When the electrical connector has been inserted in the opening the legs are released and the inherent resiliency of the strip causes the locking ledge to engage a surface of the wall of the groove defined by the thread at a location between the major and minor diameters of the thread.

As inspection of FIG. 7 reveals that the transverse dimension of the connector as well as the locking ledge 54 is substantially less than the diameter of the opening but is substantially greater than the radius of the opening 30. With this dimensioning, the latch means or ledge will extend transversely of the axis of the opening as a chordal element and engage the wall of the opening at circumferentially spaced locations. This arrangement will have the opposite ends of the ledge 54 bite into the wall of the opening.

The configuration of the clip is such that the electrical terminal cannot be separated without grasping the leg 36 and producing a positive force towards the first leg 34. For example, if an axial pulling force were applied to the wire 24, this pulling force would be transmitted through the first leg 34, the bight portion 38'and the first portion 50 of the second leg. The locking ledge, in this instance, would act as a fulcrum for the acute angled first portion 50 of the leg 36 and the angular relation of the leg to the longitudinal axis of the clip and the axis of the opening would tend to cause a pivotal movement in a clockwise direction as viewed in FIG. 2 about the fulcrum point 54. Thus, a pulling force on the wire 24 would tend to wedge the first portion 50 in the opening. Since the ledge 54 extends transversely across the axis of the opening and engages the thread at opposite ends along circumferentially spaced locations on the wall of the opening, such a pulling force would further cause the opposite ends of the ledge to bite into the wall of the groove defined by the opening and prevent accidental removal of the connector 34.

However, should it become necessary to separate the two conductive members, the end portion of leg 36extending beyond the upper surface 66 of the conductive member can readily be grasped and the two legs flexed towards each other to allow the clip to be readily removed without the necessity of any tools.

While not specifically limited to any dimension, an exemplary relative dimension of the width of the clip and the diameter of the opening may be on the order of a ratio of 4:5. For example, with a threaded opening having a diameter of 0.25 inches, the clip would have a dimension on the order of 0.20 inches.

As can be appreciated from the above description, the electrical terminal of the present invention, requires only the formation of a conventional threaded opening in one of the conductive members and the at tachment of a specially designed clip to the other of the members. The clip can readily be manufactured by stamping on a mass production basis thereby producing a terminal which is very inexpensive to manufacture and which can readily be assembled without any special skill or tools.

In fact, in many instances where wire is used to ground a circuit, the grounding member may have an existing unused threaded opening. In situations this threaded opening could be utilized for receiving the terminal clip. For example, present steering wheel hubs have two threaded openings that facilitate the use of a wheel puller in order to pull the wheel from its splined shaft for replacement or repair work. These threaded openings could be used for a second purpose for providing a ground connection for the horn circuit.

Iclaim:

1. An electrical terminal interconnecting two conductive members comprising means defining a circular opening extending from a surface of one of said members, said opening having a circumferential groove in its wall below the upper surface; a resilient elongated conductive strip, said strip being reversely bent to a substantially U-shaped configuration to define first and second spaced legs interconnected by a bight portion; means on the free end of said first leg defining a connection for the other conductive member; and latch means on said second leg, said latch means being located in said groove and engaging the wall of said groove at circumferentially spaced locations to secure said conductive members, said second leg having a free end extending from said opening for grasping to release said latch means and allow said members to be separated.

2. An electrical terminal as defined in claim 1, further including projections extending from opposite sides of said first leg adjacent said free end for limiting the extent of insertion of said strip into said opening.

3. An electrical terminal interconnecting two conductive members comprising means defining a circular opening extending from a surface of one of said members; said opening having a continuous thread defined in the wall thereof; a resilient elongated conductive strip, said strip being reversely bent to a substantially U-shaped configuration to define first and second spaced legs interconnected by a bight portion; means on the free end of said first leg defining a connection for the other conductive member; and latch means defining a ledge on said second leg and cooperating with a surface of said thread at a location between the major and minor diameters of said thread and at a location spaced from the surface of said one of said conductive members to secure said conductive members, said second leg having a free end extending from said opening for grasping to release said latch means and allow said members to be separated.

4. An electrical terminal interconnecting two conductive members comprising means defining an opening extending from a surface of one of said members; a resilient elongated conductive strip, said strip being reversely bent to a substantially U-shaped configuration to define first and second spaced legs interconnected by a bight portion; means on the free end of said first leg defining a connection for the other conductive member; and latch means on said second leg and cooperating with the wall of said opening at a location spaced from the surface to secure said conductive members, said second leg having a free end extending from said opening for grasping to release said latch means and allow said members to be separated, said first being substantially planar between said bight portion and said free end, and said second leg including a planar portion extending from said bight portion and an arcuate portion between said planar portion and said free end, said planar and arcuate portions merging in a manner to define said latch means.

5. An electrical terminal as defined in claim 4, in which the other conductive member is a wire enclosed in a sheath of insulation and in which said means on the free end of said first leg includes a first clamping member for connecting the wire to said strip and a second clamping member connecting said sheath to said strip.

6. An electrical terminal interconnecting two conductive members comprising means defining an opening extending from a surface of one of said members; a resilient elongated conductive strip, said strip being reversely bent to a substantially U-shaped configuration to define first and second spaced legs interconnected by a bight portion; means on the free end of said first leg defining a connection for the other conductive member; and latch means on said second leg and cooperating with the wall of said opening at a location spaced from the surface to secure said conductive members, said second leg having a free end extending from said opening for grasping to release said latch means and allow said members to be separated, said first leg is being substantially planarbetween opposite ends and having projections extending from opposite edges adjacent said free end for engaging an edge of said opening to limit the insertion of said strip into said opening, and said second leg including a planar portion extending from said bight portion at an acute angle with respect to said first leg and an arcuate portion merging with the free end of said planar portion to produce a ledge defining said latch means.

7. An electrical terminal as defined in claim 6 in which said strip has a width substantially less than the diameter of said opening.

8. An electrical terminal interconnecting two conductive members comprising means defining an opening extending from a surface of one of said members; a resilient elongated conductive strip, said strip being reversely bent to a substantially U-shaped configuration to define first and second spaced legs interconnected by a bight portion; means on the free end of said first leg defining a connection for the other conductive member; and latch means on :said second leg and cooperating with the wall of said opening at a location spaced from the surface to secure said conductive members; said second leg having a free end extending from said openings for grasping to release said latch means and allow said members to be separated, said latch means defining a ledge extending transversely of the axis of said opening and engaging the wall of said opening at circumferentially spaced locations.

9. An electrical connector for connecting a conductive wire to a member having a threaded opening therein comprising a resilient elongated strip of sheet metal reversely bent to a substantially U-shaped configuration to define first and second spaced legs interconnected by a bight portion, said second leg having a second leg being planar and said second portion being arcuate and having a convex surface extending towards said first leg.

10. An electrical connector as defined in claim 9, and further including projections extending from opposite edges of said first leg adjacent said connecting means, said connecting means including first and second spaced clamping members respectively adapted to clamp the wire and an insulating sheath to said strip.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2126494 *Apr 16, 1937Aug 9, 1938Adolph GerlichElectric plug
US2191297 *Mar 9, 1937Feb 20, 1940Illinois Tool WorksElectrical connector device
US3193795 *Sep 17, 1962Jul 6, 1965Molex Products CoPush type terminal construction
CH91486A * Title not available
GB190929506A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4235497 *Mar 14, 1978Nov 25, 1980Hans SimonSpring contact element and insulating case therefore
WO2009000635A2 *Jun 9, 2008Dec 31, 2008Osram GmbhElectrical connection between at least two parts and electrical device with such a connection
Classifications
U.S. Classification439/256, 439/825
International ClassificationH01R11/11, H01R11/22
Cooperative ClassificationH01R11/22
European ClassificationH01R11/22
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 23, 1988AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: FEDERAL-MOGUL CORPORATION
Owner name: SWITCHES, INC.
Effective date: 19881221
Dec 23, 1988ASAssignment
Owner name: FEDERAL-MOGUL CORPORATION
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:SWITCHES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:005000/0981
Effective date: 19881221
Owner name: FEDERAL-MOGUL CORPORATION, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SWITCHES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:005000/0981
Apr 18, 1983ASAssignment
Owner name: INDIANA NATIONAL BANK, THE INDIANAPOLIS, IN.
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SWITCHES, INC;REEL/FRAME:004117/0507
Effective date: 19821210
Apr 18, 1983AS06Security interest
Owner name: INDIANA NATIONAL BANK, THE INDIANAPOLIS, IN.
Owner name: SWITCHES, INC
Effective date: 19821210