US 3804056 A
An indicator is provided for a valve which enables a visual determination to be made whether the valve is open or closed from relatively great distances and from any viewing angle.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
1 O United States Paten 1191 1111 Lee et al. Apr. 16, 1974 [5 VALVE INDICATOR POST 2,239,842 4/1941 Evans 116/125 4 1 1 Dennis Lee; Crookham, 3382232 $1132? $1222.??? 1231222 both of Oskaloosa, Iowa y 73 A Cl C r O k B k I FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1 ow a mo l,0l4,763 6 1952 France 116 125  Filed: Sept. 15, 1972 Prima Examiner-Louis J. Ca ozi 21 A 1. N .1 289 737 P 1 pp Attorney, Agent, or FirmFitch, Even, Tabin &
Luedeka  US. Cl 116/125, 251/214  Int. Cl F16k 37/00 58 Field of Search 116/125; 137/382, 553,  ABSTRACT 137/556, 296, 272; 251/214 An indicator is provided for a valve which enables a visual determination to be made whether the valve is  References Cited open or closed from relatively great distances and UNITED STATES PATENTS from any viewing angle- 2,091,618 8/1937 'Szabo 137/556 X 8 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures VALVE INDICATOR POST The present invention relates to valve indicators, and more particularly to an indicator post for fire sprinkler systems to visually determine whether or not a valve controlling particular sprinkler lines is open or closed.
An indicator post is commonly used in conjunction with a sprinkler line control valve which is located below ground level; normally the indicator post is positioned outside of a building and extends above ground level so it can-be viewed. The indicatorpost also includes means by which the valve for controlling water flow to a particular sprinkler line for a building is opened and shut. For purposes of maintenance or for correcting a false alarm," it is sometimes necessary to turn off a particular sprinkler line; however, normally all lines are kept open. For safety reasons, the control valves are inspected regularly to insure that they are not closed. During such an inspection, a guard usually tours the sites of the indicator posts and visually determines that the sprinkler lines are in fact open.
Typical indicator posts include a vertical tube which houses an extension rod or shaft that is interconnected with a control nut at its top. A window is located in the post below the control nut, and the internal mechanism of the indicator post locates either the word open or the word shut in the window, depending upon the condition of the valve. Manipulation of the control nut, which is positively linked to the lettered signal appearing in the window, operates the valve and is located below the ground, and the only readily apparent indication of the configuration of the valve is the lettered indicator appearing in the aforementioned window. Practicality limits the size ofthe indicator, and thus it is necessary for the guard to closely approach the indicator post to determine whether or not the valve is open.
It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved indicator post which allows a visual determination of whether the valve is open or shut to be made from a relatively great distance and from various viewing angles.
This and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of which:
FIG. 1 is an elevation view oftwo indicator posts having various features of the present invention, one of which is shown with its valve in the open condition and the other being shown with its valve in closed condition;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged section view of the indicator post above the open valve taken along line 22 of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary sectional view, enlarged in size. taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.
The illustrated embodiment of the valve indicator post 11 is connected to a gate valve (not shown) located several feet below the ground. A vertical extension rod 12 connects the valve to the valve indicator post 11, and a pipe or barrel l3 surrounds the extension rod 12 and provides a base upon which the indicating and operating mechanism is supported at the desired height. The configuration of the valve forms no part of the invention and accordingly is not shown nor discussed in detail. It is not intended to limit the invention to any particular type of valve.
The valve barrel 13 extends from the buried valve to a desired height above the ground, and has a housing 15 threaded to its upper end. The housing 15 has a lower portion 19 of a desired shape which is surmounted by an upper portion 21 of generally narrower shape. The upper portion 21 of the housing supports an internally threaded, coaxial collar 23. The collar 23 is received in a recess provided at the top of the upper portion 21 and suitably held in place by a snap ring or the like. The exterior vertical surface of the collar 23 is designed to interengage with the housing recess in such a manner that the collar 23 cannot be rotated.
An upper actuator 24 is supported by the collar 23. The actuator 24 has an externally threaded main stem 25 which is received in the collar 23. The main stem 25 is provided a coaxial passageway 27 which extends upward from its bottom end to a position adjacent the top end of the main stem. The passageway 27 is square in cross section and receives the upper end of a short square rod 41. The external threads terminate short of the upper end of the stem 25, and it is necked down to provide a head portion 29 of lesser diameter. The actuator 24 includes a skirt portion 51 which is described in detail hereinafter and which fits over the head portion 29 of the stem 25 and resides thereon. A control nut 31 surmounts the skirt and is secured to the upper end of the stem 25 by a pin 32. The control nut 31 has an upstanding square lug 33 over which a wrench is placed to open or close the valve.
Approximately midway between its upper and lower ends, the housing 15 is provided with a central web 35 which supports a bushing 36. The bushing 36 rotatively supports a generally tubular coupling 37. The coupling 37, which may be cast from a suitable metal, has an elongated axially extending hole 39 which is square in cross section. The lower end of the short rod 41 is received in the upper end of the coupling hole 39 and secured to the coupling 37 by a pin 43. The upper end of the long extension rod 12 is slidably received in the lower end of the hole 39. The elongation of the hole 39 facilitates the positioning of the indicator post during its installation and also accommodates differences in length of the extension rod.
Attached to its exterior surface, the upper portion 21 of the housing carries two sets of targets or indicators 45 which are spaced a predetermined vertical distance apart and suitably held in place by clamps and screws 46. The lower indicators 45a and the upper indicators 45!; of each set are located in horizontal alignment and on opposite sides of the housing. The lower indicators 45a carry the word shut," and the upper indicators 45b carry the word open.
The skirt 51 is provided with a central boss 52, having a circular aperture proportioned to fit over the circular head portion 29 of the stem 25, and with four internal vertically extending rails 53. The skirt 51 is held on the stem by snap ring located just below the control nut 31. The interior edges of the rails 53 are received in grooves 54 provided in the periphery of the upper portion 21 of the housing (see FIG. 3). Accordingly, the skirt 51 is prevented from rotating by the interengagement of the rails 52 and grooves 54 and the stem 25 merely turns therewithin. The skirt 51 extends vertically downward to envelop the upper portion 21 of the housing 15 and is shaped and proportioned to create a desired profile in combination with the housing. Approximately at the vertical midpoint of the downwardly extending skirt 51, there are two horizontally opposed windows 55 which are covered by a transparent material, e.g., glass or thermoplastic, and which are generally rectangular. As the control nut 31 is turned, the skirt 51 moves axially with the main stem 25 while the windows 55 maintain their orientation with the indicators 45.
To close the valve from the open position indicated in FIG. 2, a wrench is applied to the square lug of the control nut 31. Rotation of the control nut 31 causes rotational movement of the main stem 25 which moves downward in the stationary collar. As the main stem 25 rotates, the short shaft 41 rotates in unison therewith and moves telescopically upward in the passageway 27. The short shaft 41 is fixed to the rotatable coupling 37, and both remain vertically stationary. The coupling 37 in turn rotates the square extension rod 12 which is telescopically received in the square hole 39, and it rotates the valve member to the closed position. Thus, as the control nut 31, the stem 25, the elongated rod 12 and the valve member are rotated, the skirt will move either up or down relative to the housing 15.
The vertical distance between the upper and lower indicators 45 is such that, when the control nut 41 has been turned to either fully open or close the valve, the windows 55 will be at the same vertical level as one set of indicators 45. When the valve indicator assembly is first installed, it may be moved so the valve is in the fully open position, the upper set of idicators 45b aligned with the windows 55 and the screws 46 tightened. Thereafter, whenever the valve is open the word open will appear through the skirt windows 55, and the word shut will appear in the skirt windows 55 when the valve is closed.
To insure unauthorized personnel cannot close the valve, means is preferably provided to lock the valve indicator with the valve in its open condition. This may be accomplished by attaching a U-shaped staple to the skirt 51, and designing the operating wrench to double as a hasp. When the valve is in the open condition, the opposite end of the operating wrench is fit onto the square lug 33 and a slot in the wrench allows it to fit over the staple. A padlock may then be secured through the staple to lock the wrench in this position and prevent rotation of the nut and consequently the entire valve control mechanism.
The skirt 51 is preferably significantly larger than the upper portion 21 of the housing which it surrounds, and because it is displaced axially by either opening or closing the valve sufficiently far to cause a significant change in profile, visual determination of whether the valve is open or closed may be made from a distance and from any angle. Whereas previously a security guard had to approach each valve indicator sufficiently closely so as to be able to read open or shut" through a window, now he merely need to glance at the indicator post 11 to note the relative position of the skirt 51 vis-a-vis the housing. So that the change in profile is the same from any viewing angle, the skirt and the lower portion of the housing are preferably of circular cross section, being either cylindrical or frustoconical as shown. In the illustrated example, the change in profile which occurs is substantial when the frustoconical skirt is displaced upward, as the narrower housing portion 21 then appears in the region of the separation between the skirt bottom and the top of the inverted frusto-conical portion of the lower housing portion which have substantially equal diameters.
Alternatively, the portion of the housing which is visible below the skirt when the valve is in the open position, and which is obscured or enveloped by the skirt when the valve is closed, may be painted a bright color. In such a case, when the valve is open so the skirt is in the open or upper position, the bright coloring will be exposed and when the valve is closed it will be obscured by the skirt 51. This would be the case in the illustrated embodiment if the upper portion 21 of the housing was so painted. In such an instance, it might also be suitable to eliminate the lower enlarged portion of the housing. The lower enlarged portion of the housing could also be eliminated if the profile of the upper portion 21 was significantly different than the barrel 13 so that a change could be easily detected upon the upper axial movement of the skirt 51. In general, it has been found that the distance of axial movement of the skirt should be at least about equal to one-third of the dimension d (FIG. 1) of the bottom edge of the skirt 51 so that the axialdisplacement will be readily apparent.
While one embodiment of the invention has been shown and described it should be apparent that various modifications may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention which is set forth in the claims. Various of the features of the invention are set forth in the claims which follow.
What is claimed is:
1. An indicator assembly for connection to a valve, which assembly comprises a housing, means for supporting said housing spaced vertically above the valve, operating nut means including an axially disposed depending threaded element, a portion of said housing having cooperating threads so that rotation of said operating nut means relative to said housing causes said nut means to be displaced vertically relative thereto, means connected to the lower end of said depending element for interconnection with the actuating mechanism of a valve, skirt means carried by said operating nut means having a size and shape to complement said housing and to fit over at least an upper portion thereof, said skirt means having at least one window and said housing having upper and lower indicia one of which is visible through said window when said valve is either open or closed, and means interconnecting said skirt means and said housing and preventing rotation of said skirt, whereby rotation of said operating nut means to open or close an interconnected valve causes substantial vertical displacement of said skirt relative to said housing without any relative rotation therebetween which effects a significant change in the profile of said assembly that is visible from any viewing angl and at long distances therefrom.
2. An indicator assembly in accordance with claim 1 wherein said skirt is circular in cross section.
3. An indicator assembly in accordance with claim 2 wherein a lower portion of said housing is circular in cross section, and wherein the diameter of the bottom of said skirt is substantially equal to the diameter of the top of said housing lower portion.
4. An indicator assembly in accordance with claim 2 wherein said housing is of such a size that said skirt substantially envelops said housing when said valve is closed.
5. An indicator assembly in accordance with claim 1 wherein said housing includes a coupling member rotatable about a vertical axis, said coupling having a passage which telescopically receives an extension rod extending upward from the valve and said coupling having rod means extending upward therefrom which constitutes said means connected to said depending element.
6. An indicator assembly in accordance with claim 1 wherein said depending threaded element has external threads and an internal passageway of noncircular cross section which slidably receives an upstanding element rotatively carried by said housing which constitutes said means connected to said depending element.
7. An indicator assembly in accordance with claim 1 wherein said skirt means includes an inwardly extending generally vertical rail and wherein said upper housing portion includes a projection having a groove therein which receives said rail and thus prevents relative rotation between said skirt means and said housing.
8. An indicator assembly in accordance with claim 1 wherein the part of said upper portion of said housing which is obscured by said skirt means in its lower position and which becomes visible when said skirt means is in its upper position is brightly colored in contrast to said skirt means and thus provides further visual indication of the open or shut condition of the connected valve at long viewing distances.