US 3727250 A
An underwater buoyancy device such as a safety vest includes an air chamber and a tube communicating from the chamber to an inflation/exhaust valve assembly. The valve assembly facilitates vest inflation from a scuba supply tank or exhaustion to vent the air chamber or to permit breathing of air from the device. To this end, the assembly includes in a common housing: a quick-release coupling for a supply tank hose, an inflation valve for controlling air flow from the hose to the vest, a mouthpiece or like outlet, and an exhaust valve to control venting from the vest to the mouthpiece.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Koehn et al. [451 Apr. 17, 1973  VEST INFLATION/EXHAUST VALVE 3,147,499 9/1964 Nelson et al ..9 313 ASSEMBLY 3,536,071 10/1970 Ferrando ..12s 142.4 x
Inventors: James P. Koehn; Edwin M. Bethune,
both of North Hollywood, Calif.
Under Sea Industries, Inc., Compton, Calif.
Filed: Dec. 2, 197] App]. No.: 204,204
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 4/1964 Becker et al. ..128/l42.2
Primary Examiner-Milton Buchler Assistant Examiner-Paul E. Sauberer Attorney-Flam and Flam ABSTRACT An underwater buoyancy device such as a safety vest includes an air chamber and a tube communicating from the chamber to an inflation/exhaust valve assembly. The valve assembly facilitates vest inflation from a scuba supply tank or exhaustion to vent the air chamber or to permit breathing of air from the device. To this end, the assembly includes in a common housing: a quick-release coupling for a supply tank hose, an inflation valve for controlling air flow from the hose to the vest, a mouthpiece or like outlet, and an exhaust valve to control venting from the vest to the mouthpiece.
10 Claims, 2 Drawing Figures PATENTEI] APR 1 7 I973 BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to an underwater buoyancy device having an inflation/exhaust tube and valve assembly for inflating the device froma scuba supply tank and for venting the device.
2. Description of the Prior Art Many aquatic divers prefer to wear a safety vest which can be inflated underwater to regulate the buoyancy of the diver or to assistin bring him safely to the surface. Normally the vest is empty, provision being made to inflate the vest rapidly under emergency conditions or when added buoyancy is needed.
In the past, most underwater safety vests have used a self-contained inflation source, such as a replaceable cartridge of compressed air or CO gas. Air from the supply tank of the divers self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba tank) also may be used to inflate a safety vest. One such arrangement is shown in the US Pat. No. 3,436,777 to AT. GreenwoodThere a divers jacket includes at least one inflatable bladder, together with a combined fill and dump control valve for conveying gas from the scuba tank to the bladder. In another arrangement, disclosed in the US patent application, SerqNo. 188,082 to Robert Roberts, assigned to Under Sea Industries, Inc., the scuba tank air supply hose is latched directly to a coupling on an inflatable vest.
An object of the present invention is to provide an underwater safety vest, inflatable from the divers scuba tank, and incorporating an inflation/exhaust valve assembly conveniently situated for one-hand control of both inflation and venting, to enable quick disconnect of the supply tank hose, and to permit breathing of air from the vest via a mouthpiece contained in the assembly.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The foregoing objective is achieved by providing an underwater safety vest having an air chamber which can be inflated or exhausted via a tube extending from the chamber and terminating at a valve assembly. The valve assembly includes, in a common housingzan exhaust valve and a mouthpiece for breathing or venting air from the chamber, a quick-release coupling for connecting a hose from a scuba supply tank and a valve for controlling inflation of the device with air from the supply tank.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS A detailed description of the invention will be made with reference to the accompanying drawings, which are to scale. Like numerals designate corresponding parts in the two figures.
FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of an underwater safety vest incorporating an inflation/exhaust tube and valve assembly in accordance with the present invention; the device is shown operatively connected to a scuba supply tank.
FIG. 2 is a transverse section view of the inflation/exhust valve assembly also shown in FIG. 1.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The following detailed description is of the best presently contemplated mode of carrying out the invention. This description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the invention, since the scope of the invention best is defined by the appended claims.
Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown an inflatable underwater safety vest 10 provided with an inflation/exhaust tube 11 and valve assembly 12 in accordance with the present invention. The vest 10, which includes a hollow, inflatable air chamber 13, is made of flexible, water-proof material and has an opening 14 which forms a collar when worn by a diver. The opening 14 has a V-neck design to hold the diver in face-up position when the vest 10 is fully inflated, without constricting the divers throat. A belt 15 cooperates with a loop 16 to secure the bottom of the vest 10 to the divers waist.
The vest 10 normally is inflated with air from the divers scuba supply tank 18 under control of an inflation valve 19 in the assembly 12. Air can be vented from the chamber 13 under control of an exhaust valve 20 in the assembly 12, such venting often being required during underwater ascent. The inflated chamber 13 also serves as an emergency air source for the diver, who can inhale the air through a mouthpiece 21 in the assembly 12.
Air from the tank 18 is supplied to the assembly 12 via a conventional first-stage regulator 22, a hose 23 and a quick-release connector 24". Thus, the air supplied to the vest 10 is at the same reduced pressure as that delivered via a hose 25 to the divers conventional second-stage regulator and mouthpiece 26. A pair of spring-biased levers 27 latch the connector 24 to the assembly 12. Depression of these levers 27 enables quick release of the connector 24 from the assembly 12.
Details of the inflation/exhaust assembly 12 are shown in FIG. 2. The assembly 12 includes a unitary housing 30 containing both the inflation valve 19, the exhaust valve 20 and the mouthpiece 21. A cylindrical projection 31 receives the end of the tube 11 and provides communication from that tube via a chamber 32 to an opening 33 selectively blocked by a resilient valve plug 20a of the valve 20. A chamber 34 leads from the opening 33 to the mouthpiece 21. A spring 35 surrounding the valve stem 20b in the chamber 34 biases the valve 20 to the illustrated position in which the plug 20a closes the opening 33, thereby preventing the escape of air from the chamber 13. Manual depression of the valve handle 20c unblocks the opening 33, to exhaust air from the chamber 13 via the tube 11 to the mouthpiece 21. i
For connection to the hose 23, the housing 30 includes a tubular projection 39 which is matingly received by a cylindrical bore 40 extending through the connector 24. Lateral openings 39a from the interior 39b of the projection 39 communicate with an enlarged diameter region 40a of the bore 40. Thus, the projection 39 provides a flow path from the hose 23 to a chamber 41 at the inlet of the inflation valve 19. A spring 42 in the chamber 41 biases the valve 19 is closed.
To inflate the chamber 13, the valve handle 19a is depressed, thereby positioning a channeled valve member 19b to open a flow path from the chamber 41 through a valve channel 19c and an interior passageway 43 to the chamber 32. Air flow from the scuba tank supply hose 23 to the air chamber thus is controlled by the inflation valve 19.
The connector 24 includes a check valve disc 45 situated within the enlarged bore region 40a. A spring 46 biases the disc 45 toward the bore shoulder 40b. Thus, as the connector 24 is removed from the assembly 12, the disc 45 seats against the shoulder 40b blocking the bore 40 and preventing escape of air from the supply tank hose 23. In an alternative embodiment, not shown, the inflation control valve may be contained in the hose connector itself, and the mating coupling on the assembly housing may include a check valve.
The hooked ends 27a of the levers 27 engage an annular recess 48 at the base of the projection 39. When the levers 27 are depressed, the spring 46 and disc 45 press against the end of the projection 39 to urge the connector 24 away from the assembly 12. A quickrelease action is achieved. Such uncoupling permits the hose 23 to be connected for inflation of a companion divers like vest, should that diver be out of air. Such quick-release also permits jettisoning of the tank 18, if required in an emergency.
Very convenient buoyancy control results from adjacently positioning both the inflation and exhaust valves 19, in the same assembly. The diver can hold the assembly 12 in one hand and use one or two fingers of that hand to control both inflation and venting. Thus, during ascent, e.g., if too much air is vented and the diver begins to sink, more air quickly can be added by depressing the valve 19. Further, if the scuba supply tank 18 is exhausted, the diver easily can hold the assembly 12 to his mouth and breathe the air from the chamber directly from the mouthpiece 21. Manual opening of the valve 20 during inhalation serves in lieu of a demand regulator. Similarly, ifa companion diver is out of air, the assembly 12 can be used by the companion to breathe air from the tank 18, while the first diver still uses the mouthpiece 26.
Intending to claim all novel, useful and unobvious features shown or described, the applicants:
1. An underwater buoyancy device having an air chamber and an inflation/breathing tube communicating between said chamber and an inflation/exhaust assembly, said chamber being inflatable with air supplied from a scuba tank via a hose, said assembly comprising:
a. a housing having coupling means providing flow communicating, quick-release connection to said hose,
b. a mouthpiece formed in said housing,
0. an exhaust valve in said housing for controlling air flow from said tube to said mouthpiece for breathing or for venting ofsaid chamber,
d. a separately manually operable inflation valve in said housing for controlling air flow from said hose via said coupling means to said tube.
2. A buoyancy device according to claim 1 wherein said tube is flexible and of sufficient length to permit a diver wearing said device to breathe air from said chamber via said mouthpiece.
3. A buoyancy device according to claim 2 wherein said device comprises a vest and wherein said assembly is adapted to be hand-held for independent digital operation of said valves.
4. A buoyancy device according to claim 2 wherein said hose includes a connector, and further comprising check valve means in said connector for preventing escape of air from said hose when said connector is dis engaged from said coupling means.
5. A buoyancy device according to claim 4 wherein said coupling means includes a projection matingly received by said connector, wherein said connector includes means for latched engagement to said housing, and wherein said check valve means includes a spring biased element positioned within said connector to urge quick release of said connector when said latch means is disengaged.
6. A buoyancy device according to claim 5 wherein said connector has a cylindrical bore therethrough, said bore having a relatively narrow diameter section extending to one connector end and opening into a relatively wider diameter section with a shoulder at said opening, said projection extending through said narrow diameter section into wider region, said element comprising a valve disc and a spring in said wider section, said spring biasing said disc against said shoulder to block said opening when said connector is disengaged, said spring pressing said disc against the end of said projection to urge quick release of said connector.
7. A safety vest for a scuba diver and having a chamber inflatable with air supplied via a hose from a scuba supply tank, said vest having a flexible inflation/breathing tube extending from said chamber and terminating at an assembly including in a common housing a mouthpiece and an exhaust valve controlling air flow from said chamber to said mouthpiece, said tube being of sufficient length to permit said mouthpiece to be held at the mouth of a diver wearing said vest, said hose having a connector and said housing having coupling means detachably receiving said connector, one of said connector and coupling means containing a separate valve for controlling inflation of said chamber from said supply tank, the other of said connector and coupling means having a check valve to prevent air escape.
8. In a buoyancy vest of the type worn by underwater divers and having a flexible oral inflation/breathing tube extending therefrom, an end of said tube being provided with a mouthpiece and control valve for breathing or venting air from said vest, the improvement wherein said vest is inflatable with air from a scuba tank supplied via a hose releasably connected to the same end of said tube having said mouthpiece.
9. A buoyancy vest according to claim 8 wherein said mouthpiece and control valve are in a common housing, said housing also containing a separate, manually operable inflation valve for controlling air flow from said hose to said vest.
10. A buoyancy vest according to claim 9 wherein said hose terminates at a connector having a check valve, said connector being quick-releasably, matingly engageable with a coupling member on said housing.