US 3828717 A
Water skiing apparatus including a boat propelled by an engine and capable of being steered from a point remote from the vessel. A control float is connected to the boat by a line and the water skier uses a two-handed grip on separate handles attached to the float. One handle is fixed to the float and the other can be rotated through an arc and about a substantially horizontal axis. The movable handle is used to operate hydraulic means which actuates a steering nozzle on the boat. The fixed handle has a trigger-like control lever which opens and closes the engine throttle through operating means. Circuit means including two switches one on each handle enables the skier to start the motor as well as to bring it to a fast stop in an emergency.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Nichols et al.
1451 Aug. 13, 1974 WATER SKIING APPARATUS  Inventors: Ronald A. Nichols, No. 253-10202 149th St., Surrey, B. C.; George Rakuson, 4554-488 St., Delta, B. C., both of Canada  Filed: July 2, 1973  Appl. No.: 375,831
 US. Cl. ll5/6.1, 114/150, 115/6,
 Int. Cl. A63c 11/10  Field of Search 1l5/6.1,6,1l,12 R, 70; 114/150, 146; ISO/79.2 R
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,776,443 l/l957 Howard ll5/6.1
2,891,498 6/1959 Schroeder. 114/150 2,939,417 6/1960 Hammock. 114/150 2,972,326 2/1961 Simpson ll5/6.l
3,079,885 3/1963 Cooke l15/6.l
3,450,087 6/1969 Kuether 114/150 Primary Examiner-Lloyd L. King Assistant Examiner-Randolph A. Reese Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Fetherstonhaugh & Co.
[5 7 ABSTRACT Water skiing apparatus including a boat propelled by an engine and capable of being steered from a point remote from the vessel. A control float is connected to the boat by a line and the water skier uses a twohanded grip on separate handles attached to the float. One handle is fixed to the float and the other can be rotated through an arc and about a substantially horizontal axis. The movable handle is used to operate hydraulic means which actuates a steering nozzle on the boat. The fixed handle has a trigger-like control lever which opens and closes the engine throttle through operating means. Circuit means including two switches one on each handle enables the skier to start the motor as well as to bring it to a fast stop in an emergency.
4 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures WATER SKIING APPARATUS Our invention relates to apparatus which provides a water skier with precise and complete control over the skiing exercise.
Normally water skiing is done behind a high powered boat under control of a driver and safety regulations existing in many parts of the world require that an observer be present in the boat to keep watch on the skier. The skier relies on the driver to maneuver and control the speed of the run although he may attempt the understandably difficult task of signalling his own wishes in that regard. Many skiers object to having the exercise controlled by someone else since there is always the risk of a painful fall.
There have been attempts made previously to provide vessels and equipment by which a skier could exercise sole control over his speed and direction but known devices do not provide the precise degree of control which is achieved by our apparatus. The steering of the towing vessel is achieved by a simple turning movement of one hand in the required direction. This motion is transmitted by a hand operated mechanism to a combined propelling and steering nozzle which is used in place of a propeller and rudder to reduce the risk of injury to swimmers as well as to the skier himself. The engine can be started and stopped quite read ily by the skier who then has complete control over the towing vessel which enables him to select the skiing speed and maneuvers at will and in relative safety.
In drawings which illustrate a preferred embodiment of the invention,
FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a water skier being towed by the present apparatus,
FIG. 2 is a side elevation, part in section, of a boat which forms part of the present apparatus,
FIG. 3 is a side elevation of a'control unit of the apparatus showing a right handle of the unit with parts broken away and other parts omitted,
FIG. 4 is a plan of the control unit with a cover thereof removed,
FIG. 5 is a plan with parts in section of a slave mechanism included in hydraulic means for steering the boat,
FIG. 6 is a vertical section taken on the line 6-6 of FIG. 4 and showing a master control unit of the hydraulic means,
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary detail view showing a pressure responsive device of the apparatus, and
FIG. 8 is a side elevation of a left handle of the control unit with part broken away and shown in section.
Referring first to FIG. 1 of the drawings, the numeral 8 indicates generally water-skiing apparatus constructed in accordance with the present invention. The apparatus 8 comprises a small unmanned boat 10 especially designed for towing a water skier 12 at the end of a flexible towline 14 with the skier holding on to a control float l6.
As shown best in FIG. 2, the boat 10 has a hull fitted with a hatch cover 21 which is shaped to provide a seat 22 and leg space 23 for a passenger. The cover 21 is readily removable to provide access to an engine 26 which is mounted in the hull.
Preferably the engine 26 is used to power a conventional water jet pump 27 which draws water in through an intake 28 and discharges that water as a pressurized jet stream through a rearwardly directed nozzle 29. The nozzle 29 is mounted on the pump 27 to swing about a substantially vertical axis so that the discharging water can be directed right or left to turn the boat in the same direction. This type of propelling and steering nozzle is quite well known and is an ideal arrangement for a vessel used in water skiing since it eliminates the need for a conventional propeller and rudder which will sometimes strike and injure someone in the water. The engine 26 is fitted with a carburetor 30 and a conventional starter system which is generally indicated at 31. Also mounted in the hull 20 are the usual pump 32 and air blower 33 intended to keep the vessel dry and free from explosive fumes.
The towline generally indicated at 14 comprises a cable 34 which extends through a fitting 35 (FIG. 2) secured to the transom 36 of the hull. A turnbuckle 37 secures one end of the cable to an anchor frame 38 which is mounted in the hull 20 near the transom. The fitting 35 serves to anchor one end of a flexible sheath 38 which encloses the cable 34 between the boat 10 and the control float 16.
The control float generally indicated at 16 is shown best in FIGS. 3, 4 and 6 as comprising a circular housing 40 made up of a hollow base 41 fitted with a cover 42. Preferably, the base and cover of the housing 40 are formed of a cellular plastic material which is tough, lightweight as well as sufficiently buoyant for the unit to float on the surface of the water if it should be dropped by the skier. In FIG. 6, it will be seen that the base 41 and cover 42 fit together to form a watertight joint 43 and bolts 44 or the like are used to secure the two parts of the housing together. A rectangular plate 46 is secured to bottom wall 47 of the base 41 by means of screws 48 and the float end of the cable 34 is secured to the base by a suitable fitting 50, see particularly FIG. 4.
Mounted on the other end of the plate 46 is a bearing 54 which journals a shaft 55 formed on the inner end of an outwardly projecting handle 56. Thus, the handle 56 can be moved or rotated about the longitudinal axis of the shaft 55 which axis is disposed at an acute angle to the corresponding axis of the towline 14. Another handle 58 is fixedly secured to the base plate 46 by means of a bolt 59, see FIG. 4, and this handle is placed at approximately 45 to the rotatable handle 56. These pistol-grip type handles 56 and 58 are gripped by the right and left hands respectively of the skier so that the control float 16 may be held in a position to form a con tinuation of the towline as shown in FIG. 1.
The rotatable handle 56 is intended to be used to steer the boat 10 and therefore the present apparatus is provided with hydraulic means generally indicated at 64. As shown in FIG. 5, the means 64 comprises a slave mechanism 65 which is mounted on the pump 27 near the nozzle 29. This mechanism includes a mounting plate 66 which is bolted to the transom 36 to support an outboard extension 67. The nozzle 29 is mounted in this tubular extension to swing about a pivot pin 69 which is also fitted with a cross-bar 70. Opposite ends of the bar 70 are pivotally secured as at 72 to arms 73 which in turn are pivotally secured as at 74 to pistons 75. The pistons 75 are contained in cylinders 76 which are suitably secured to the mounting plate 66, this plate having openings 77 through which the arms 73 freely extend. Thus, when the cylinders 76 are pressurized alternatively, the mechanism 65 turns the nozzle 29 to the left or right to steer the boat in the same direction.
Fluid pressure to operate the mechanism in this manner is developed at the control float 16 by the skier turning the rotatably mounted handle 56 which movement operates a master control unit 80, see FIGS. 4 and 6. Unit comprises a cylinder 82 which is mounted on the base plate 46, the cylinder being fitted with a double-ended piston 83. A slightly concave rack 85 is formed on the piston 83 beneath an opening 86 in the cylinder 82, and a pinion 87 which is secured to the inner end of the shaft 55, engages this rack. This arrangement allows the piston 83 to be reciprocated in the cylinder 82 by rocking movement of the handle 56 about the axis of the shaft 55.
The cylinders 76 of the slave mechanism and the cylinder 82 of the master control unit, are connected into a closed fluid circuit by means of hose lines 90 which extend through the open ended sheath 38 enclosing the cable 34. The opposite ends of the lines 90 are attached to the cylinders 76 by fittings 92 (FIG. 5) and 93 (FIG. 4). Oil is injected into the hydraulic circuit through filler plugs 94 on the cylinder 76 and also through filler plugs 95 on the cylinder 82 whereby to completely fill the circuit. Thus, when the skier turns the handle 56 clockwise, the piston 83 is moved to the left and the left cylinder 76 (the uppermost cylinder as viewed in FIG. 5) is pressurized to turn the nozzle 29 to the right which results in the boat turning in the same direction. A turn to the left, of course, is achieved when the skier turns the handle counterclockwise and thus the steering movement is instinctive and can be performed with very little effort on the part of the skier.
The speed of the boat is also controlled by the skier and, for this purpose, the present apparatus is provided with operating means generally indicated at 100. As shown best in FIG. 7, the means comprises a device 101 which may be mounted on or near the carburetor 30 of the boats engine so as to actuate a throttle operating arm 102 of the carburetor. A spring 103 which for convenience is shown mounted as in FIG. 7 is provided normally to return the arm to a position corresponding to the idling position of the engine. The device 101 is a small cylinder 105 fitted with a piston 106 having a piston rod 107 which is operatively connected to the arm 102 as at 108. A hose line 109 is connected to the opposite end of the cylinder 105 by a fitting 110 and the cylinder is fitted with a filler plug 111.
Hose line 109 extends through the sheath 38 to connect the pressure responsive device 101 to a pressure developing device 114 of the operating means, the latter device being shown best in FIG. 8. The fixed handle 58 will be seen in FIGS. 4 and 8 to be split vertically and longitudinally into two parts which normally are clamped together by bolts 116. Suitable secured between the halves of the handle 58 is a cylinder 117 fitted with a piston 118 which has a rack 119 thereon exposed by a cut-away portion 120 of the cylinder. The rack 119 is engaged by a curved pinion 123 cut into a trigger 124 which is mounted in the handle upon a pivot pin 125. A fitting 126 connects an end of the hose line 109 to the cylinder 117 so that oil can flow between the devices 101 and 114. Another filler plug 127 is provided on the cylinder 117 to keep this end of the operating means completely filled with oil and thus provide another closed hydraulic circuit in addition to the steering circuit.
The skier is able to start and stop the motor 26 by virtue of circuit means 130 only a portion of which appear in some of the views of the drawings. The means 130, in effect, is an extension of the starting circuit which is generally indicated at 31 in FIG. 2. Means 130 includes a normally open switch 132 which is mounted in the fixed handle 58 in a position shown best in FIG. 8 where it can conveniently be operated by the thumb of the skiers left hand. Wires 133 extend from the switch 132 through the hollow handle 58, thence through the housing 40 (FIG. 4) and the sheath 38 into the hull 20 (FIG. 2) where they are tied into the starter circuit 31 by suitable connections. not shown. Thus, the skier can hold the piston-grip of the handle 58 and start the engine by closing the switch 132 with his thumb while adjusting the running speed of the motor by means of the trigger 124 with his left forefinger.
The circuit means 130 also includes a normally closed switch 136 (FIGS. 3 and 4) which is mounted on the rotatable handle 56 to be operated by the skiers right thumb. Switch 136 is connected by wires 137 which extend through the hollow handle 56 (FIG. 4), the housing 40 (FIG. 2), the sheath 38 (FIG. 4) into the hull 20 where they are also tied into the circuit 31 by suitable connections, not shown. When the switch 136 is opened by the right thumb of the skier, the circuit 31 is shorted out and the engine 26 comes to a dead stop.
In describing the operation of the water skiing apparatus 8, let it be assumed the skier wants to start off by standing in shallow water which may be up to his waist. The boat 10 is pushed out into deep water while the skier holds on to the float 16 to play out the towline 14. Switch 132 is closed momentarily to start the motor which is then idled to reach operating temperature whereupon skiing can commence. The skier starts off somewhat in the same manner as he would if he was to be towed by a manned power boat. That is, he assumes a crouching position with the line 14 fully extended but slack in the water. The float 16 is held in front of the skier who, at this time, is partly submerged ready to take off on his skies. As previously mentioned, the fixed handle 58 is held by the left hand and the rotatable handle 56 is held by the right hand. By slowly compressing the trigger 124, the engine can be revved up to approximately full throttle which will serve to pull the submerged skier up on to the surface of the water. The skier can steer the boat to the right or left by instinctively turning his right hand clockwise or counterclockwise and can also control his skiing speed by means of the trigger 124. Should the skier fall, this will cause him to release his grip on the control float 16 whereupon the spring 103 will cut the engine down to idling speed and this will stop the boat. The skier can then swim to the control float 16 and assume control which will enable him to get back up on his skies on the surface of the water.
The skier may be proceeding in a normal manner and suddenly spot an obstruction which he feels cannot be avoided by turning the boat or cutting the engine speed to idling in which case he closes the switch 136 on the handle 56. This kills the motor completely and allows the skier and the boat to come to a much quicker halt than would otherwise the case.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent we have provided water skiing apparatus which gives the skier complete control over the exercise. The skier is not at the mercy of his driver and is not forced to attempt maneuvers which are beyond his capabilities. In the event that the skier should become tired, or for some other reason decide to discontinue skiing, and perhaps while still some distance from shore, he may climb aboard the boat and seat himself on the hatch cover 21. The control unit 16 would be held in front of the skier with the tow line suitably coiled on the boat whereupon the skier can operate the controls to ride the boat to shore in safety.
1. Apparatus for towing a water skier comprising an unmanned boat having a steering device and a propelling engine fitted with a throttle operating arm, a towline secured at one end to the boat and extending rearwardly therefrom, a control float secured to the opposite end of the towline, said control float having a fixed handle and a movable handle adapted to be held one in each hand of the skier, hydraulic means operatively connecting the steering device on the boat to the movable handle; said hydraulic mechanism comprising a slave mechanism for turning the steering device, a master control unit carried by the control float to be actuated by the movable handle, and hose lines extending along the towline and connecting the slave mechanism to the master control unit in a closed fluid circuit; said master control unit including a double-headed piston mounted in a cylinder having opposite ends connected one to each hose line, a rack on the double-headed piston, a pinion rotatable with the movable handle and engaging the rack, and operating means extending between the throttle operating arm on the engine and the control float enabling the skier to control the speed of the boat, said operating means including a member actuated by one hand of the skier.
2. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which said propelling engine has a starter system including wires extending along the towline and a starter switch mounted on the fixed handle, said operating means comprising a pressure responsive device operatively connected to the throttle operating arm of the engine, a pressure developing device mounted in the fixed handle for opera tion by the hand-actuated member, and other hose lines extending along the towline to interconnect the pressure responsive and pressure developing devices.
3. Apparatus for towing a water skier comprising an unmanned boat having a steering device, a propelling engine fitted with a throttle operating arm, and a starter system, a towline secured at one end to the boat and extending rearwardly therefrom, a control float secured to the opposite end of the towline, said control float having a fixed handle and a handle rotatable about a substantially horizontal axis, hydraulic means operatively connecting the steering device to the rotatable handle; said hydraulic means comprising a slave mechanism for turning the steering device, a master control unit carried by the control float to be actuated by the rotatable handle, and hose lines extending along the towline and connecting the slave mechanism to the master control unit in a closed fluid circuit; said master control unit including a double-headed piston mounted in a cylinder and having opposite ends connected one to each hose line, a rack on the double-headed piston, a pinion rotatable with the rotatable handle and engaging the rack, a pressure responsive device operatively connected to the throttle operating arm, a pressure developing device mounted in the fixed handle, a trigger on the fixed handle for actuating the pressure developing device, and circuit means electrically connected into the starter system and including wires extending along the towline to the control float, said circuit means including a normally open switch mounted on the fixed handle.
4. Apparatus as claimed in claim 3 in which said towline comprises a cable anchored at opposite ends to the boat and the control float, and a flexible sheath enclosing the cable, the hose lines, and the wires of the circuit