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Publication numberUS3699739 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 24, 1972
Filing dateFeb 3, 1971
Priority dateFeb 3, 1971
Publication numberUS 3699739 A, US 3699739A, US-A-3699739, US3699739 A, US3699739A
InventorsBurdwood Howard A
Original AssigneeBurdwood Howard A
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for use in inflating tennis and other balls
US 3699739 A
Abstract
Apparatus is disclosed for re-inflating tennis balls in which a conduit from an air source has a fixed inflating needle exposed on a hub. A ring is attached to each ball and has a receiver provided with an inwardly disposed tip forming a small dimple in the held ball and an outwardly disposed sleeve fitting the hub with the needle then piercing the ball through the dimple to enable the ball to be inflated. A sealant gun has a needle whose hub is dimensioned to fit the receiver with the needle then in the puncture so that when the gun is actuated the sealant is discharged into it. The sealant sets to form a plug in the form of a truncated cone which is compressibly locked in place once the ring is removed.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

{limited States Patent Hardwood 51 Oct. 24, 1972 Inventor: Howard A. Burdwood, 1380 Westbrook Street, Portland, Maine 04102 Filed: Feb. 3, 1971 Appl. No.: 112,239

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,159,932 11/1915 Green ..l56/145 2,819,573 l/1958 Whittington ..53/7

Primary Examiner-Travis S. McGehee AttorneyAbbott Spear [5 7] ABSTRACT Apparatus is disclosed for re-inflating tennis balls in which a conduit from an air source has a fixed inflating needle exposed on a hub. A ring is attached to each ball and has a receiver provided with an inwardly disposed tip forming a small dimple in the held ball and an outwardly disposed sleeve fitting the hub with the needle then piercing the ball through the dimple to enable the ball to be inflated. A sealant gun has a needle whose hub is dimensioned to fit the receiver with the needle then in the puncture so that when the gun is actuated the sealant is discharged into it. The sealant sets to form a plug in the form of a truncated cone which is compressibly locked in place once the ring is removed.

12 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENIEDum 24 I972 3.699.739

' sum 1 nr 2 l'zwerzi'or fibwaz cl d1. Bwdlvooq! by fiti'bmwy METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR USE IN INFLATING TENNIS AND OTHER BALLS The present invention relates to method and apparatus for inflating such hollow objects as tennis balls.

The invention is herein discussed with particular reference to the re-inflation of tennis balls that have become unfit for use because of the loss of air pressure. Such loss is evidenced by deadness the noticeable inability of the ball to bounce comparably to a new ball.

The desirability of re-inflating dead tennis balls has long been recognized but previous efforts in that direction have not met acceptance for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the re-inflation of a tennis ball that results in its being out of round or out of balance would be objectionable.

In the patent to Wemple, US. Pat. No. 1,023,904, it was proposed that the wall of the ball be formed with a depression to be punctured by the inflating needle with the air pressure forcing the depressed or concave area outward to assume a convex position appropriate for the radius of the ball. The object was to avoid the use of plugs by utilizing the compression of the material as it was forced outwardly to close the puncture. With this procedure, it would be difficult to ensure that a ball was really round and it is unlikely that the punctures would ever be effectively closed.

In the patent to Green, U.S. Pat. No. 1,159,932, a different procedure was proposed requiring that a ball be so held that a portion thereof was distorted into a flat area through which the puncture was formed. A

sealant was then introduced into the interior of the ball v and the ball then inflated with the intention that the air pressure force the sealant into the puncture. The objections to this procedure include the fact that on the withdrawal of the inflating needle, the puncture closes to an extent such that the sealant would build up over its inner end and the fact that it is nearly impossible to insert a second needle through a hole formed in a ball by a first needle.

The objective of the present invention is to enable a tennis ball to be re-inflated without any of the objectionable consequences of the above or other prior proposals, an objective attained, in terms of method, by holding the ball to form a dimple in its wall, puncturing and inflating the held ball through its dimple, forcing a sealant into the puncture against the established air pressure of the held ball, permitting the sealant to set, and then releasing the ball to provide and maintain retaining pressure on the thus formed plug.

In terms of apparatus, the above generally indicated objective is attained with a ball holder for use with an air source provided with an inflating needle, said holder including a needle receiver including an inwardly disposed conical tip having a needle passageway extending therethrough to form a dimple in the held ball whereby the piercing of the dimple by the needle results in a puncture in the form of a truncated cone whose base is interiorly of the ball.

Another objective of the invention is to provide apparatus in which the ball holder receiver has an outwardly disposed sleeve portion and the inflating needle has a hub which the sleeve fits as does a needle supporting hub of a sealant gun, the needle of the sealant gun being dimensioned, when its hub is seated in the sleeve, to place its distal end in the outer end of the puncture.

Yet another objective of the invention is to provide means for holding the ball while it is being inflated, an objective attained by providing the support with a pair of posts located in front of the inflating needle and spaced therefrom and from each other to enable a ball to be forced between them into a position in which the needle pierces the ball through the receiver and the ball is backed by the posts.

In the accompanying drawings, there is shown an embodiment of the invention illustrative of these and other of its objectives, novel features, and advantages. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of apparatus in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view thereof;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary section of a tennis ball, on a substantial increase in scale, showing the ball held to form a conical depression therein pierced by the inflating needle;

FIG. 4 is a like view illustrating the introduction of the sealant; and

FIG. 5 is another like view showing the sealed puncture.

The apparatus shown in the drawings comprises a base 10 provided with an air delivery conduit generally indicated at 11 and including a T-shaped fitting 12 between an air pressure gauge 13 and a pressure regulating valve 14. While the conduit 11 may be connected to any suitable source of air under pressure, it is shown as connected to a hand operated pump 15. The pump 15 and the valve 14 are mounted on the base 10 and, between the fitting l2 and the gauge 13, the conduit 11 is held by a support 16.

The fitting 12 has, see FIG. 3, a mount 17 shouldered to provide a cylindrical tip 18 into which is threaded the shank 19 of the hub 20 of a hollow inflating needle 21. The mount 17 has an axial passage 22 placing the needle 21 in communication with the interior of the fitting 12.

A tennis ball is generally indicated at 23 and, as is conventional, has an inner rubber layer 24 whose inner surface is quite smooth and an outer surface layer or cover 25. A ball 23 that is to be renovated is forced into a ring 26 preferably in the form of a metal band provided with a receiver, generally indicated at 27, including an inwardly disposed conical tip 28 having a needle passageway 29 therein and an outwardly disposed sleeve portion 30 dimensioned to fit the tip 18 of the mount 17 with the needle 21 then extending through the passageway 29 and puncturing the ball 23. The inner surface of the receiver tip 28 serves to guide the needle 21 so that it passes through the passageway 29 while its outer surfaces form a conical recess or dimple 31 in the wall of the ball 23 held by the ring 26. The dimple 31 is small, in the order of nine thirty-seconds of an inch in diameter, for example, and its depth is about the same. While the dimple 31 is small, it will be appreciated that the inner surface of the rubber layer is stretched to a greater degree than the outer surface thereof and when that layer is pierced through the dimple, the resulting puncture 32 is conical with the base interiorly thereof and its surfaces are relatively rough.

The inflating needle 21 is shown as disposed towards the front of the base 10 and substantially horizontal with its axis centrally of two vertical posts 33 spaced forwardly thereof and from each other distances such that a ball 23 may be forced between them into a position wherein the sleeve portion of the receiver is fitted on the tip of the mount 17 and the ball 23 yieldably held against movement while it is being inflated to the desired extent. As will be apparent from the drawings, the ring 26 is disposed so as not to contact the posts 33.

After the ball is suitably inflated, it is removed and its puncture promptly sealed. To this end, the base 10 is provided with a stand 34 for a sealant gun generally indicated at 35 and shown in detail in FIG. 4. The sealant gun 35 has a barrel 36 shouldered to provide a tip 37 having a bore 38 threaded to receive the shank 39 of the hub 40 of the needle 41 which is blunt-ended. The barrel 36 is a container for a supply of a sealant 42 which is a semi-paste and remains flexibly resilient after it has become set. A head 43 is slidable in the barrel 36 and is mounted on a stem 44 threaded through the removable end cap 45 and provided with a knob 46 by the turning of which the head 43 is advanced in the barrel 36 to force the sealant through the needle 41. In practice, the tip 37 so fits the sleeve portion of the receiver 27 as to position the distal end of the needle 41 desirably just barely within the outer end of the puncture 32 which is filled by a small amount of the sealant against the air pressure within the ball which causes the sealant to spread out to fill the puncture.

In practice, the base 10 is positioned on a bench or table and its front edge has a vertical channel 47. A support 48 has a ring 49 overlying the channel 47 and dimensioned to receive the barrel 36, desirably close to its needle hub 37 and to hold the barrel with the needle 41 disposed upwardly once its set screw 50 is tightened. The ball 23 is then positioned so that the sleeve portion of the receiver 27 fits on the barrel hub 37, the distal end of the needle 41 is then just barely within the puncture 32. As only a small amount of the sealant is necessary to fill the puncture 30, only a partial turn of the knob 46 is required.

The ball 23 is then removed and placed in a rack (not shown) until the sealant has set to form a plug 51, see FIG. 5. Thereafter, the ring 26 is removed and the wall of the ball in the dimple area then, in returning to its normal shape, closes firmly against the plug 51 thus securely anchoring it.

In accordance with the invention, balls are efiiciently inflated and efiiciently sealed unless thin walls have been ruptured during use. It should be noted that s sealant does not adhere to the smooth interior surface of a tennis ball but readily adheres to the rougher surface of the puncture. The sealant must be of a type staying rubbery after setting and a semi-paste form of rubber obtainable from the Devcon Rubber Company of Danvers, Massachusetts, is an example of a sealant that has proved satisfactory in use. A sealant that sets hard usually breaks free after a short period of use. While the dimple does not always completely disappear after the ring has been removed, its existence is scarcely noticeable and does not afi'ect the flight of the ball in play.

I claim:

1. The method of inflating such objects as tennis balls, particularly those that have lost pressure, that comprises the steps of holding the ball to form a small dimple in the wall of the ball, puncturing said held ball through the dimple thereby to provide a hole that is in the form of a truncated cone whose base is internally of the ball and inflating the ball through the puncture, injecting a sealant into the puncture to fill it against the internal pressure and then, after the sealant has set, releasing the hold on the ball whereby its wall provides retaining pressure on the thus formed plug.

2. The method of claim 1 in which the sealant is injected substantially at the outer end of the puncture.

3. A ball holder for use in inflating such objects as tennis balls, especially those that have lostpressure, said ball holder including a needle receiver provided with an inwardly disposed tapering tip having a needle passageway, said tip forming a dimple in the wall of the ball to which said holder is attached, the dimple, when pierced, forming a puncture substantially in the form of a truncated cone whose base is interiorly of the ball.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 in which the tip opens outwardly and its interior is also inwardly tapering.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 in which the receiver also includes an outwardly disposed sleeve portion.

6. Apparatus for use in inflating such objects as tennis balls, especially those that have lost pressure, said apparatus comprising in combination, a base, a conduit mounted thereon for gas under pressure, an inflating needle connected to said conduit and in communication therewith, a ball holder including a needle receiver, said needle receiver including an inwardly disposed, tapering tip having a needle receiving passageway forming a dimple in the wall of the ball to which the holder is attached and an outwardly disposed sleeve portion, the inflating needle being dimensioned to pierce the dimple thereby to form a puncture substantially in the form of a truncated cone whose base is interiorly of the ball, a sealant gun, and a hollow needle including a hub attached to the distal end of the gun and shaped and dimensioned to seat within said sleeve portion, the sealant needle being dimensioned then to have its distal end substantially at the outer end of the puncture.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 in which the inflating needle also includes a hub dimensioned to fit within the sleeve portion of the needle receiver.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 in which the interior surface of the tip tapers inwardly towards the needle passageway.

9. The apparatus of claim 6 in which the ball holder is in the form of a metal band shaped and dimensioned to snugly encircle the ball.

10. The apparatus of claim 7 in which the inflating needle is forwardly disposed and the base includes means operable to back a ball when positioned with its dimple pierced by the inflating needle.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 in which the backing means comprises a pair of vertical posts in front of the inflating needle with the axis of the inflating needle between them, said posts being spaced from the needle and from each other to enable a ball to be forced between them with the axis of the receiver substantially in registry with the inflating needle, the posts backing the ball when the inflating needle hub is within the sleeve portion of the receiver.

12. The apparatus of claim 6 in which the base has a support detachably holding the sealant gun with its needie hub disposed to enable the sleeve portion to be seated therein.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1159932 *May 10, 1915Nov 9, 1915Harold M HollandMethod of inflating and sealing hollow spherical objects.
US2819573 *Sep 9, 1954Jan 14, 1958Nat Latex Products Co IncMethod and apparatus for inflating hollow balls or the like of elastic material
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3932977 *Apr 19, 1973Jan 20, 1976Ringler Lloyd HBall inflating apparatus and method
US3974622 *Jun 30, 1975Aug 17, 1976Stubblefield Jr Fred HApparatus and method for repressurizing hollow valveless articles
US4073120 *Aug 9, 1976Feb 14, 1978Berggren Lloyd EApparatus for repressurizing tennis balls
US4098048 *Jan 24, 1977Jul 4, 1978Kenneth Bruno SawaTennis ball pump
US4114350 *Jun 18, 1976Sep 19, 1978Snyder J GeraldMethod and apparatus for adjusting the resilience of a hollow ball having an internal pressure
US4372095 *Feb 23, 1976Feb 8, 1983Allen De SatnickTennis ball pressurizer
Classifications
U.S. Classification53/403, 269/288, 156/145, 53/88
International ClassificationF16K15/00, F16K15/20
Cooperative ClassificationF16K15/202
European ClassificationF16K15/20F