|Publication number||US3710409 A|
|Publication date||Jan 16, 1973|
|Filing date||Mar 30, 1970|
|Priority date||Mar 30, 1970|
|Publication number||US 3710409 A, US 3710409A, US-A-3710409, US3710409 A, US3710409A|
|Original Assignee||W Davidson|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (10), Referenced by (15), Classifications (8)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent 1 1 Davidson 51 Jan. 16,1973
 LINEAR INFLATABLE MODULE DEVICE  lnventor: William M. Davidson, Box 74,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,253,526 1/1918 Portella ..114/54 1,293,899 2/1919 Pendergast..... ..114/54 1,492,614 5/1924 Tworski ..114/54 2,179,125 11/1939 Kirlin ..114/54X 1,620,421 3/1927 Wilson ..9/311 2,546,396 3/1951 Jenkins 9/312 X 2,842,785 7/1958 Sieverts 9/342 X 2,859,458 l1/1958 Calarco 9/313 X 2,869,151 H1959 Johnson ....9/340 X 3,343,189 911967 Pollard et al. ..9/312 9 ll/IIIIIII r I J I Primary Examiner-Milton Buchler Assistant ExaminerPaul E. Sauberer  ABSTRACT In combination with a load supporting member, such as a cable, strap, belt, or the like, a linear inflatable buoyancy device, or plurality thereof, of elongated,
generally cylindrical form that conforms in shape with and may be made an integral part of said'load support ing member, comprising a flexible, expansible bladder, contained within a flexible, expansible, retaining sleeve, which in turn is folded within and protected by a flexible outer casing,- incombination with a gas source, gas delivery means and actuatingvmeans for release of said gas to inflate said inflatable module. The structure permits use of the same inflatable module for a variety of applications by interconnecting a plurality of said modules, by means of conventional mechanical and pneumatic couplings and fasteners, in configurations suitable for life saving, boat safety, mooringrand other surface and sub-surface marine uses. Means are also provided within said inflatable module for adjustment of the amount and location of buoyancy obtainable upon inflation thereof.
l 4 Claims, 14 Drawing Figures PATENTEDJM 16 ms SHEET 1 [IF 2 WILLIAM M. DAVIDSON PATENTEUJAK 16 1973 SHEET 2 [1F 2 FIG. 2d
71 3 IIIIII I INVENTOR WILLIAM M. DAVIDSON This invention relates to inflatable buoyancy devices having multiple uses such as for life preservers, boat safety, mooring, lifting submerged objects and other normal or emergency buoyancy applications.
One object of this invention is to provide an inflatable device in the configuration of alinear strap or band such that it can be worn in a loop as a life jacket, can be used as a life buoy, can be wrapped around submerged objects, can be floated as a spar buoy to mark the location of a submerged object, can be strapped together in parallel strips to form a mattress or raft, as well as numerous other normal or emergency buoyancy uses akin to the manner in which straps, bands, ropes, cables and other tension members are used in and around the water.
Another object of this invention is to provide an inflatable buoyancy device of the foregoing character which is capable of being worn or stored on boats or on near-water facilities in a small compact package with the inflatable portion folded in such manner that the package is comfortable to wear or use in the form of a cushion or backrest when not employed for flotation purposes.
Another object of this invention is to provide an inflatable buoyancy device of the foregoing character wherein the shape of the inflatable member can be altered by the user to suit the flotation requirements of different applications, such as its use as a spar buoy in one instance and then changing the shape so that the same device can be used as a life jacket.
Still another object of this invention is to provide a device of the foregoing character that can be economically made, easily repacked after use and reused numerous times without replacement of the inflatable member or other component parts, with the exception of the gas source.
Other objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which: 7
FIG. 1 illustrates pictorially several of the possible uses for this invention. FIG. 1(a) depicts an inflatable module device formed into the configuration of a life jacket. FIG. 1(b) shows a plurality of linear module devices attached to the gunwales of a boat. FIG. 1(c) illustrates one method for using the device, or a plurality thereof, for emergency buoyancy to aid in removing a stranded boat from a sandbar, FIG. 1(d) illustrates a mooring application where the inflatable device is used as a spar buoy. FIG. 1(e) shows a cross-section view of a boat hull that further illustrates the method of using a plurality of such devices coupled together with a rope attached at either end. FIG. 1(f) illustrates a method of inter-connecting a plurality of inflatable modules together to form a life raft.
FIGS. 2a-2g illustrates one method of construction for a preferred form of linear inflatable module device. FIG. 2(a) presents a cross-section view of an inflatable module having gas ports at either end and a closure that restricts expansion of the bladder midway between the ends of said device. FIG. 2(b) shows a plan view of the same device when deflated and packed within the outer view at 2-2 in the deflated and packed condition. FIG. 2(e) is a cross-section view at 2-2 with the device inflated. FIG. 20) is a longitudinal cross-section view of an inflated element. FIG. 2(g) is a longitudinal crosssection view of the same element when deflated and packed.
FIG. 3 presents a cross-section view at 3-3 of the device illustrated in FIG. 2(a) to illustrate the method of altering configuration of the inflatable portion of the device.
Referring now to FIGS. la-lf, numeral 1 indicates in its entirety a complete inflatable buoyancy device as described herein. The device can be used in many different ways as illustrated and further described as follows: FIG. 1(a) shows device 1 used as a life jacket in the manner of a collar or yoke that may be worn around the neck or over the shoulder. Device 1 is normally a linear inflatable device as illustrated elsewhere in FIGS. Ia-lf. When worn as a collar, the ends of device 1 can be fastened to each other by means of a suitable fastener 8, such as a clasp, and secured to the waist of the wearer by means of separable belt 4a, Al-
ternatively, the edges of device 1 may be fastened together by means of a zipper in the manner of a vest. FIG. 1(b) shows device 1 attached to the gunwales of a boat and to the back of the seats for emergency use in the event of flooding; recent tests have shown that at least 25 percent and preferably 50 percent of the flotation material in a boat should be located along the gunwales. FIG. l(c) shows device 1 used in the manner of an underwater jack for lifting and freeing a boat that has run onto a sandbar; several units of device I can be connected end to end as shown by means of strap 4 and fastener 8 together with couplings 5, used to interconnect all of the gas fill lines in series so that all units may be inflated from a common source on the deck of the boat, if desired; rope 6 is connected to the end units for ease in adjusting the position of devices 1 from the deck. FIG. 1(d) illustrates how device 1 can be used as a spar buoy for purposes of mooring or marking the location of a submerged object. FIG. 1(e) shows how device 1 may be strapped to a submerged object to provide flotation for recovery by raising the object to the surface; the inflatable member 2 is sufficiently strong that it can be inflated to a pressure of at least 5 psig, as required if device 1 is to ascend to the surface from a depth of at least 10 feet. FIG. 10) shows device 1 used in multiple numbers, the units being fastened together in parallel, such as by length-wise zippers on each edge,v
to form a mattress or raft. Numerous other uses can be found for device 1, both in and around the water because of its simplicity and adaptability for general use as a flotation device, being durably constructed in the form of a band or strap of almost any desired length, equipped with a tension or load carrying casing. FIG. 2(c) shows a side elevation of the same device deflated and packed. FIG. 2(d) is a cross-section member,connectors at either end. for transmitting the load to other attachments, connectors at either end for supplying gas to the inflatable member, an inflatable member having adjustable shape, and a protective casing into which the inflatable member can be easily and quickly folded after use.
Referring to drawing FIG. 2(a), 2(b) and 2(c), device l consists of one or more inflatable flotation members 2 and, additionally may have fixed flotation incorporated as part of casing 3. Casing 3 may be rectangular in cross-section as shown in FIG. 2(d) or alternately may have a tubular cross-section or other shape, and said casing completely encloses and protects flotation members 2 when packed for normal wear or storage. Tension member 4, which may be a strap of woven plastic, such as Nylon or similar highstrength material, capable of carrying large tensile loads, is permanently affixed to casing 3 over its entire length; strap 4 may be molded integrally with casing 3 or. attached externally, such as is shown in FIG. 2(d). At either end of strap 4 there are buckles, clasps or other fasteners 8 for use in releasably connecting strap 4 to another device 1, a mounting fixture, a rope or to itself, as previously illustrated to form a loop or collar. At either end of easing 3 various gas fittings may be attached, as indicated by numeral 5, such as a snap coupling, a plug, a C gas cartridge for purposes of inflating flotation member 2. Casing 3 is restrained from opening at the ends of or between flotation members 2 by means of zippers or tape or other suitable closure devices in order to retain flotation member 2 in position and properly contained within protective casing 3.
' The spacing of flotation members 2, their length and size, as well as the location and length of closure devices 7 can be varied to suit the intended use; as for example, in the case ofa life jacket, it may be desired to increase the spacing between flotation members 2 and to reduce the diameter of the inflated portion that fits behind the neck when device 1 is to be worn as a collar or yoke as in FIG. 1(a) in order to have a comfortable fit. How such adjustment is achieved will be described later in further detail.
FIGS. 2(d) and 2(e) further explain the construction and use of flotation member 2, which consists of bladder 9 enclosed within flexible restraining member or enclosure 10. Enclosure 10 may be an open-mesh scrim material, such as Nylon or fiberglass screen, or may be a perforated material, such as vinyl plastic reinforced with Nylon. This method of construction has been found to be very strong and durable in larger underwater lift recovery devices. Bladder 9 can be made of thin plastic film material, such as polyethylene or polyester, and being larger in size than enclosure 10 it is free to adjust its position without being subjected to strain. The perforations or open-mesh in enclosure 10 permit free exchange of air and water between bladder 9 and enclosure 10, further insuring free movement of bladder 9. Other types of inflatables, such as rubber or vinyl tubes or spheres, used without enclosure 10 tend to fatigue and develop weak spots when reused, especially if restrained by external forces during expansion or use. When bladder 9 is inflated, it will emerge from casing 3 along with enclosure 10 until restrained from further expansion by enclosure 10. Since bladder 9 is larger in volume than enclosure 10, the latter member absorbs the gas expansion forces and permits the use of gas pressures that are substantially greater than can be used with other types of inflatable devices, such as those using expandable materials, e.g., a rubber bladder, thereby permitting use of inflatable device 1 at depth.
Referring now to FIG. 2(a) and 2(d), it can be seen that casing 3, which may be round or rectangular or other shape in cross-section, completely encloses bladder 9 and enclosure 10 when device 1 is deflated.
The opening in casing 3 where bladder 9 and enclosure 10 emerge consists of two overlapping flaps 12 that extend the entire length of easing 3. Flaps 12 may be releasably fastened together, as indicated at k, along the entire length of casing 3 or held closed at certain locations along the length of easing 3 by suitable closure means such as tape 7. When device 1 is inflated, flaps 12 open as shown in FIG. 2(e) and form a protective shield for enclosure 10 and bladder 9. Enclosure 10 preferably is permanently attached to casing 3 along its entire length at one edge, as indicated in FIG. 2(d) at seam h, and is further retained within casing 3 by means of closures 7. Further, it is possible to change the shape of flotation member 2 by shifting the point of attachment for the releasable side of enclosure 10 as illustrated by reference to FIGS. 2(e) and 3 which are cross-section views of FIG. 2(a). In FIG. 2(e), point b represents the location of seam b-b' where enclosure 10 is permanently attached to casing 3; point a represents seam a-a where the edge of enclosure 10 is releasably attached to casing 3 by means of a plastic zipper or other closure means; point c represents seams cc'which may remain open as shown in FIG. 2(e) or closed as shown in FIG. 3 by releasable attachment to casing 3 by means of a plastic zipper or other suitable closure at point a. When point 0 is secured at point a, the unused portion of enclosure 10 folds inside the base of casing 3 as shown in FIG. 3. Thus, by proper location of said closure devices, it is seen that the user can alter the location and amount of buoyancy derived from flotation device 2.
The construction of bladder 9 is illustrated by FIG.
20) and 2(g). Bladder 9 is shown in both inflated and folded condition with a longitudinal heat-sealed seam. Alternately, bladder 9 can be made from an extruded sleeve or cylinder of plastic tubing, such as the polyethylene materials that are made as food wrappers. The ends of bladder 9 are sealed to fill tubes 11 by heat sealing methods or by seams of monofilament Nylon string 13; metal tube insert 14 is used where the latter method is employed and is also helpful for attaching to adjacent fill tubes. Fill tubes 11 are made from flexible plastic tubing, such as vinyl plastic, and are extended well inside of bladder 9 to insure that the flow of gas into or out of bladder 9 is not impeded by folds in the bladder material. Bladder 9 can be folded simply by pulling simultaneously on opposite ends of bladder 9 with one or both of the fill tubes 11 open to the atmosphere. When bladder film material is less than about 1.5 mils thick, bladder 9 folds itself in a small compact package without using special construction for folding. For thicker materials, bladder 9 may be constructed from a sheet folded in narrow strips, in the manner of a fan, with each fold being bonded at both ends to the adjacent fold, the center fold being left unbonded to permit entry of fill tube 1 1 and the final closure being made to the longitudinal seam as illustrated in FIG. 2(g). Use of the fan-fold construction will provide a compact self-folding bladder 9 that will fold easily inside enclosure 10 when simply stretched in the longitudinal direction. Enclosure 10 may be constructed and folded in a similar manner, depending on material thickness.
Device 1 may be inflated through fill tubes 11 by mouth, by hand-operated air bellows, by motor driven pump, by compressed gas, such as a C0 cartridge or by means of a chemical gas generator. The gas cartridges may be operated manually or automatically upon contact with water and, being located at either or both ends of device 1, can be mounted inside of casing 3 to prevent accidental activation.
1. An inflatable, flexible, elongated buoyancy device arranged in lineal configuration and comprising:
a. A first elongate, perforate, flexible sheet, said sheet being folded upon itself along its long axis whereby an elongate enclosure with apertures at either end is formed by said folded sheet and the elongate edges of said folded sheet are arranged to define an elongate opening in communication with said enclosure;
b. A second elongate, flexible sheet, loosely arranged and freely disposed within said enclosure and constructed and arranged therein whereby an inflatable bladder, having gas fill ports at either end, is defined within said enclosure continuously along its elongate dimension;
c. A third elongate, flexible, outer casing connecting said elongate edges of said first elongate sheet, one of said elongate edges being affixed to said elongate outer casing along its entire elongate dimension and the other elongate edge thereof being releasably attached to said elongate outer casing along its elongate dimension by means of fasteners, such as zippers;
(1. Means for inflating and venting said bladder from either end of its elongate dimension, such as by gas fill tubes, said means being secured to said bladder with gas tight seals and said means being releaseably inserted through said apertures at either end of said elongated enclosure.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein releasable fasteners, such as zippers, are affixed externally to said perforate sheet along one or more elongate seams spaced apart circumferentially and in parallel with said elongate edges of said perforate sheet, said releasable fasteners being made of predetermined lengths and affixed to said perforate sheet in juxtaposition to mating fasteners affixed to said outer casing whereby the volume of said bladder may be varied along its elongate dimension by selective attachment of said perforate sheet to said outer casing along the elongate dimension of said buoyancy device.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said elongate outer casing is arranged continuously enveloping the exterior of said perforate sheet whereby said perforate sheet and said bladder enclosed therein will self-fold compactly within said outer casing when said buoyancy device is vented and stretched taut along its elongate dimension.
4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein an elongate, load member, suchas a strap or cable, is embodied within or affixed to said outer casing along its elongate dimension.
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|U.S. Classification||441/6, 441/23, 441/80|
|Cooperative Classification||B63C9/08, B63C9/23|
|European Classification||B63C9/23, B63C9/08|