US 3835494 A
A water walking apparatus including a pair of elongated pontoons by which a user is able to propel himself through the water with a walking motion. The pontoons have longitudinally extending tunnels with flippers therein and have ballast tanks with buoyancy adjusting valves. The pontoons are formed with pitch dampeners thereon for improved stability and may also be provided with inertia reducers and improved propelling fins or flippers to increase the speed and distance travelled with the expenditure of a given amount of energy.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Dougherty Sept. 17, 1974 WATER WALKING PONTOONS  Inventor: Earle T. Dougherty, 3420 N. 71st Ave., Phoenix, Ariz. 85033  Filed: Dec. 10, 1973  App]. No.: 423,429
 US. Cl 9/310 D  Int. Cl. A63c 15/04  Field of Search 9/310 D, 310 R, 310 A, 9/310 B, 310 C, 310 E; 115/21, 25; 114/125, 61, 66.5 F
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,063,071 11/1962 Vorst 9/310 D 3,121,892 2/1964 Plumlee 3,479,674 11/1969 Beymer 9/31OD Primary E.raminer--Trygve M. Blix Assistant Examiner-Sherman D. Basinger Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Herbert E Haynes, Jr.
 ABSTRACT A water walking apparatus including a pair of elongated pontoons by which a user is able to propel himself through the water with a walking motion. The pontoons have longitudinally extending tunnels with flippers therein and have ballast tanks with buoyancy adjusting valves. The pontoons are formed with pitch dampeners thereon for improved stability and may also be provided with inertia reducers and improved propelling fins or flippers to increase the speed and distance travelled with the expenditure of a given amount of energy.
14 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures PATENIEDSEPITW 3.835.494
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PAIENIED SPl mu sum 2 or 3 PATENTED 71974 3. 8 35.494 v sum 3 or 3 ILIHIllHlHllllllllH WATER WALKING PONTOONS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention pertains to water walking devices and more particularly to a pair of water walking pontoons having improved stability and propulsion characteristics.
2. Description of the Prior Art Many attempts have been made to devise a practical apparatus which would enable a user to propel himself through the water in a standing position and by employing a walking movement. Although the prior art devices have taken many forms, they have generally proven unsatisfactory due to various problems which are believed to have kept these prior art devices from becoming commercially acceptable.
One such problem is control, i.e., as the user propels himself through the water with a walking motion, there is a natural tendency for the individual floats or shoes to drift apart. Another problem is stability in that generally the prior art floats had very little displacement thus requiring a keen sense of balance on the part of the user. Still another problem is buoyance in that no provisions were made to accommodate users of different sizes. Yet another problem was the straddle-legged position that the user must assume due to the width of the individual floats. This straddle-legged position resulted in problems of control and fatigue. Also, efficient propulsion means has proven difficult to achieve.
In attempts to solve the above problems, the prior art structures have been bulky, complex, costly,hard to fabricate and have resulted in other such manufacturing and marketing problems.
A particular prior art device which solved some of these problems and eased many of the others is disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,758,898, issued on Sept. 18, 1973, to the same inventor. However, it was found after extensive use and testing that better stability and control would be desirable. It was also found that the propulsion means could be improved as the speed and distance travelled for the expenditure of a given amount of energy was not completely satisfactory.
Therefore, in view of the foregoing, a need exists for a new and useful water walking apparatus which improves the performance of the prior art devices and solves some of the problems thereof.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the present invention, a new and improved water walking apparatus is disclosed as including a pair of elongated pontoons of substantially rectangular cross sectional configuration with the height dimension being larger than the width. The pontoons are guided and held in a vertical position by the users lower leg portions which are encased in boots provided adjacent to the inwardly disposed cofacing surfaces of the justaposed pontoons. Each of the pontoons is fabricated of buoyant material and has a longitudinally extending tunnel formed adjacent to the bottom thereof, through which water is allowed to move when the pontoons are in use. The tunnels each have a hinged flapper device therein for improving the response of the pontoons and for propulsion purposes and each have an upstanding ballast tank formed therein by which the buoyancy of the pontoons may be adjusted.
Pitch dampening structures are formed on the bow and stern of each of the pontoons and inertia reducing means preferably in the form of elastic cables, interconnect the bows and stems of the respective pontoons to ease the effort required to perfonn a walking motion and to help the user to control the tendency for lateral drifting of the pontoons.
Improved propulsion mechanisms are mounted on the pontoons in the form of manually operable fins and- /or extendable flapper mechanisms which improve the speed and distance travelled with the expenditure of a given amount of energy.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved water walking apparatus.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved water walking apparatus having means thereon by which the user may adjust the buoyancy and having pitch dampening means, both for improving the stability of the apparatus.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved water walking apparatus including a pair of elongated pontoons each having a longitudinally extending tunnel formed therein adjacent to the bottom thereof and in which flipper means are mounted to improve the response and ease of propelling the apparatus.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved water walking apparatus having inertial reducing means to ease the effort required of a user to accomplish the walking motion and to'enable him to more easily control lateral drifting.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a new and useful water walking apparatus of the above described character having improved propulsion means in the form of manually operable fins and/or extendible flapper mechanisms to increase the speed and distance travelled with the expenditure of a given amount of energy.
The foregoing and other objects of the present invention, as well as the invention itself, may be more fully understood from the following description when-readv in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the water walking apparatus of the present invention being operated by a user and incorporating some of the various features of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a plan view of one of the pontoons which forms part of the water walking apparatus of the present invention. r
FIG. 3 is an enlarged front view of one of the pontoons of the present invention.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view taken on the line 4-4 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged sectional view taken on the line 5-5 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary side view of one of the pontoons of the present invention having one form of improved propulsion means mounted thereon.
FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken on the line 77 of FIG. 6, and illustrating the improved propulsion means shown in that figure.
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary plan view of the mechanism shown in FIGS. 6 and 7.
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary plan view of a pair of pontoons of the present invention having another form of the improved propulsion means thereon.
FIG. 10 is an enlarged sectional view taken on the line 10-10 of FIG. 9.
FIG. 11 is a fragmentary sectional view taken on the line 11-11 of FIG. 10.
FIG. 12 is a fragmentary plan view of the mechanism shown in FIGS. 9, 10 and 11.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring more particularly to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates the water walking apparatus of the present invention which is indicated generally by the reference numeral 10, and is shown to include a pair of pontoons 11 and 12 being worn on the lower leg portions 13 of a user 14.
The pontoons 11 and 12 are each formed into an elongated structure of generally rectangular cross sectional configuration with the height dimension being larger than the width dimension. This type of structure has two advantages, the first being that the pontoons may be positioned in a close juxtaposed relationship so as not to require a user to assume an exaggerated straddle-legged position, and the second advantage being that the largest surface area of the pontoons will be the side surfaces or edges so that the pontoons will resist the normal tendency to drift laterally, that is separate when being used.
The pontoons 11 and 12 are of similar construction with one being the mirror image of the other, thus the following detailed description of the pontoons while being limited to the pontoon 12 will apply to the pontoon 11 as well.
The pontoon 12 is made up of two basic elements namely, a body 16 and a tunnel structure 18. The body 16 is molded or otherwise formed of a buoyant material such as closed cell expanded polystyrene as typified by a commercial product Styrofoam. An alternate method of construction (not shown) would be to form a suitable support frame and cover that frame with a suitable waterproof material such as glass fiber impregnated with resin.
The tunnel structure 18 may be fabricated of any suitable material and 'may act as a stiffening member for the pontoon structure. Any of several well known fabrication techniques may be employed such as sheet metal suitable welded or riveted, formed glass fiber impregnated with resin, and the like.
In any event, the body 16 and the tunnel 18 are assembled, or integrally formed, to provide the pontoon 12 with elongated side surfaces 20 and 22 which are interconnected at their upper ends by a deck 24, and are interconnected at their lower ends by a keel or bottom 26. The deck 24 and bottom 26 extend longitudinally between the bow 28 and the stem 30. As seen best in FIG. 2, the sides 20 and 22 are of longitudinally extending arcuate configuration to form the pontoon into a streamline shape with a laterally bulging midship portion which tapers fore and aft into a substantially pointed bow 28 and stem 30. It should be understood however, that the arcuate shapes of the sides 20 and 22 need not be symetrical, for example, the side surface 20 may be formed with less of a curve than is shown so that when in use, the pontoons 11 and 12 may be positioned closer together so that the user may stand in a more natural position as will hereinafter be described in detail.
At a central location substantially intermediate the bow 28 and the stem 30, a boot member 32 is provided into which the user 14 may insert his lower leg portion 13. It will be noted, particularly in FIGS. 2 and 4, that the boot 32 is laterally offset to place it adjacent to the side surface 20. Thus, with the two pontoons 11 and 12 having their respective boots 32 adjacent to their respective side surfaces 20, and these side surfaces are in juxtaposed cofacing relationship as seen in FIG. 1, the user will not be required to assume an exaggerated straddle-legged position.
The boot 32 is formed with a substantially cylindrical upper portion 34 for encasing the ankle and calf of the users lower leg portion 13, and a shoe portion 36 for encasing the users foot. The shoe 36 is located adja cent the bottom 26 of the pontoon 12, and the upper portion 34 extends upwardly through the body 16 to the deck 24. Due to this positioning of the boot 32, a relatively stable device results due to the lower center of gravity. Also, by the lower leg portion 13 of the user being encased in the boot 32, lateral rocking of the pontoon is easily controlled by the user and the pontoon will be easily kept in an upright position.
The effects on the user of pitching movements, i.e., rocking in a plane laying through the longitudinal center line of the pontoon, are held to a minimum by the ball of the users foot being located substantially intermediate the bow 28 and the stem 30 of the pontoon 12.
The stability of the pontoons 11 and 12 is further insured by pitch dampening means 38 formed on the bows 28 and stems 30 of the pontoons. As seen best in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3 the pitch dampening means 38 includes a forwardly extending cantilever deck 40 formed at the bow 28, and a rearwardly extending cantilever deck 42 formed at the stem 30 of the pontoon 12. The cantilever decks 40 and 42 are flush with the deck 24 of the pontoon 12 and have a thickness which places the bottoms 43 thereof just above the water line of the pontoon. Thus, the forward cantilever deck 40 resists attempts of the bow 28 to dip below the waters surface and the rear cantilever deck 42 resists attempts of the stem 30 to dip below the surface of the water.
With the user 14 standing in the pontoons l1 and 12, as shown in FIG. 1, there is a tendency for the pontoons to roll inwardly due to the weight of the user being applied at inwardly offset points with regard to the longitudinal center lines of the pontoons. To overcome this tendency and thus not rapidly fatigue the user, the tunnel 18 is laterally offset toward the side surface 22 of the pontoon 12. The weight of the water contained within the tunnels 18, when the pontoons 1 1 and 12 are in use, will resist lateral rocking or rolling movements of the pontoons.
The tunnel 18 of pontoon 12 is formed with a water admitting opening 46 proximate the bow 28 and a water expelling opening 47 proximate the stem 30. A flipper means 48 is provided in the tunnel 18 which allows water to flow therethrough from the bow 28 to the stem 30 and will resist flow of the water in the reverse direction. Thus, when in use, as the pontoon is moved in a forward direction by a walking movement of the user, the flipper means 48 will open due to water pressure exerting a force on the front surfaces thereof and water will flow through the tunnel 18. When an attempt is made to move the pontoon in a reverse direction, again by the walking movement of the user, the flipper means 48 will close due to water pressure exerting a force on the rearwardly disposed surfaces thereof and thus backward movement of the pontoons is stopped.
As best seen in FIG. 5, the flipper means 48 includes a plurality of individually hingedly mounted flippers 50 which are movable from a closed depending position to an open substantially horizontal position. The flippers 50 are positioned within the tunnel 18 so that when closed, the flippers will partially overlap each other to seal the tunnel. By employing a plurality of these flippers 50, instead of a single hinge mounted flipper, the response time consumed in changing from an open state to a closed state is substantially reduced which minimizes back sliding movements which naturally occur as the result of the users walking movements.
As seen in FIG. 5, a ballast tank 52 extends upwardly from the tunnel 18 and is separated therefrom by the upper wall or roof 53 of the tunnel. The tank 52 itself has a roof 54 which is flush with the deck 24 of the pontoon 12. A user operated valve 56 is suitably mounted in the roof 54 of the tank 52 and has a handle 57 mounted atop a threaded shaft 58 which extends downwardly through a mounting nut 59 and passes through the tank 52. The lower end of the shaft has a poppet 60 formed thereon which is seated in seat 61. When the valve 56 is closed, that is, the poppet 60 is engaged in the seat 61, the tank 52 will contain air and thus provide buoyancy to the pontoon. The user may adjust the amount of buoyancy by simply opening the valve 56 to admit water to the tank 52. The tank 52 is provided with an aperture 62 formed in the roof 54 which freely allows air to escape from the tank when water is admitted thereto, and will allow air to reenter the tank when the water is expelled.
If after water has been allowed to enter the tanks 52 of the pontoons 11 and 12 to decrease the buoyancy, the user desires to increase the buoyancy, or completely expel the water from the tanks 52, he may do so by opening the valves 56 (one at a time) and simultaneously lifting the pontoon vertically with his leg. This will allow the water to run out of the tank 52 and air will enter through the aperture 62.
It has been found through use and testing that inertia plays a very important part in contributing to the fatigue of the user of a device of this nature. This may be easily seen when it is considered that each time a forward movement of the pontoons is started or stopped, as occurs naturally in the walking movement, a considerable amount of effort on the part of the user is required to overcome inertia.
To lessen the fatigue of the user resulting from inertia, an inertia reducing means in the preferred form of elastic cords 64 and 65 are employed. The cord 64 is suitably connected between the respective bows 28 of the pontoons 11 and 12 such as with screw eyes 66. The cord 65 similarly interconnects the respective stems 30 of the pontoons l1 and 12. In operation, when one of the pontoons 11 or 12 reaches the fully forward position and the other pontoon is positioned rearwardly thereof, the cords 64 and 75 will be stretched and thus will biasingly urge the rearwardly disposed one of the pontoons to catch up. Therefore, the elastic cords 64 and 65 will materially assist the user in overcoming inertia. Also, by interconnecting the pontoons 11 and 12 in this manner, the natural tendency for the pontoons to drift apart during use will be resisted.
Another elastic cord 67 may be employed to interconnect the pontoons 11 and 12 at their midship portions. This third cord 67 will also help to overcome inertia as described above and may also serve as a stirrup which aids the user in mounting and dismounting.
With reference to FIGS. 6, 7, and 8 wherein an improved propulsion means is shown to include a pair of manually operable fins 68 and 70. The fin 68 is hingedly mounted on the side surface 20 of the pontoon 12 and the fin 70 is hingedly mounted on the side surface 22 thereof. The fins 68 and 70 are moved between an outwardly disposed position, best seen in FIG. 8, to a retracted position flush with the side surfaces 20 and 22 by means of a cable 72. The cable 72 is connected to each of the fins 68 and 70 substantially intermediate the ends thereof, and extends laterally therefrom into a guide tube 74 provided in the body 16 of the pontoon 12. The guide tube 74 changes the direction of the cable 72 so that it extends upwardly through the deck 24 and passes over a pulley 76 mounted on the deck. The pulley 76 changes the direction of the cable 72 so that it is directed forwardly into engagement-with a second pulley 78 mounted on the deck 24 adjacent the boot 32. After passing around the second pulley 78, the cable 72 is directed upwardly so as to position a handle 80 within easy grasp of the user. To maintain this upward disposition of the cable 72, the second pulley 78 is formed with an upstanding tube 81 through which the cable 72 is axially slidable. The upstanding tube 81 is provided with a flange 82 at its upper end against which the handle 80 will rest when the fins 68 and 70 are not being manually operated by the user.
An alternate method of propulsion is illustrated in FIGS. 9 through 12 wherein the elements and functioning of an extendable flapper system is shown.
A plurality of flipper assemblies 84 are pivotably mounted to at least the side surface 22 of each of the pontoons 11 and 12, and if desired may also be mounted on the side surfaces 20 and the bottom 26 thereof.
A typical one of the flipper assemblies 84 may be seen best in FIGS. 10 and 11 to include a substantially square frame 86 between the opposing vertical sides 88 of which a plurality of horizontally disposed flippers 90 are mounted. Each of the flippers 90 have two pivot pins 92, with a different one extending from each of the opposite ends thereof. The pins 92 are suitably journalled in the side members 88 of the frame 86 so that each of the flippers 90 are free to pivot about a horizontal axis formed by their respective pivot pins 92.
Each of the flipper assemblies 84 is pivotably mounted by means of suitable pivot pins 94 so as to be movable between extended positions shown in solid lines in FIGS. 10 and 12 and retracted positions shown in dashed lines in the same figures.
The flipper assemblies 84 which are mounted on the side surface 22 of pontoon 12 are interconnected by a tie-rod 95 so that they will move in unison between the extended and retracted positions. The flipper assemblies 84 which are mounted on the side surface 20 of the pontoon 12 are similarly interconnected by a tierod 96.
An operator actuated lever 98 is pivotably carried in a suitable stand 100 mounted on the deck 24. The lower end of the lever 98 is connected to a transverse shaft 102 for moving that shaft fore and aft as shown in FIGS. and 12. The opposite ends of the transverse shaft 102 have coupling levers 103 and 104 mounted thereon which are connected to tie-rods 95 and 96, respectively, for transmitting the movements of the shaft 102 to the tie-rods which in turn will cause the flipper assemblies 84 to pivot between their extended and retracted positions.
The flipper assemblies 84 (one shown) which are mounted on the bottom 26 of the pontoon 12 are interconnected by a tie-rod 106 so as to move in unison between the depending extended position and the retracted position flush with the bottom 26. A user operated lever 108 pivotably carried in a suitable stand 110 is connected to the tie-rod 106 for controlling the movements thereof.
While the principles of the invention have now been made clear in an illustrated embodiment, there will be immediately obvious to those skilled in the art, many modifications of structure, arrangements, proportions, the elements, materials, and components used in the practice of the invention, and otherwise, which are particularly adapted for specific environments and operation requirements without departing from those principles. The appended claims are therefore intended to cover and embrace any such modifications within the limits only of the true spirit and scope of the invention.
What I claim is:
l. A pair of water walking pontoons each of said pontoons comprising:
a. an elongated body of rigid buoyant construction;
b. a tunnel formed longitudinally of said body adjacent the bottom thereof, said tunnel laterally offset toward one side of said body and forming a water admitting opening proximate the bow of said body and a water expelling opening proximate the stern thereof;
. flipper means mounted within said tunnel for permitting water flow therethrough from the bow to the stern of said body and to prevent water flow in the reverse direction; and a boot formed in said body and positioned substantially intermediate the bow and stern thereof, said boot laterally offset toward the side of said body which is opposite from the side toward which said tunnel is laterally offset, said boot extending from the bottom of said body upwardly therethrough to the deck thereof.
2. A pair of water walking pontoons as claimed in claim 1 wherein said flipper means comprises a plurality of individual flippers each hingedly mounted within said tunnel for movement from a closed depending position to an open substantially horizontal position, said flippers positioned so that when closed they will partially overlap each other to seal said tunnel.
3. A pair of water walking pontoons as claimed in claim 1 wherein a ballast tank extends upwardly through said body from said tunnel and is separated from said tunnel by the roof thereof, said ballast tank having valve means therein by which water may be selectively admitted from said tunnel to said ballast tank.
4. A pair of water walking pontoons as claimed in claim 1 wherein said body includes pitch dampening means formed on the bow and the stern for preventing the bow and the stem from dipping below the surface 5 of the water.
5. A pair of water walking pontoons as claimed in claim 1 further including:
a. a fin hingedly mounted on each of the opposite sides of said body for movement between an extended position away from said body and a retracted position flush therewith; and
b. means mounted on said body and connected to each of said fins for manually moving said fins between the extended position and the retracted position.
6. A pair of water walking pontoons as claimed in claim 1 and further comprising:
a. at least one flipper assembly mounted on at least one of the surfaces of said body, said flipper assembly pivotably movable between an extended position substantially normal to said body and a retracted position substantially flush therewith; and
b. means mounted on said body and connected to said flipper assembly for pivotably moving said flipper assembly between the extended and the retracted positions thereof.
7. A pair of water walking pontoons as claimed in claim 6 wherein said flipper assembly comprises:
a. a frame having an opening therethrough which is defined by at least a pair of opposed vertical side members; and
b. at least one flipper pivotably mounted between the opposed side members of said frame for pivotable movement about a substantially horizontal axis, said flipper freely pivotable from an open position which allows water to pass through the opening in said frame in one direction and a closed position which prevents the passage of water through the opening of said frame in the opposite direction.
8. A pair of water walking pontoons as claimed in claim 1 further comprising:
a. a plurality of flipper assemblies mounted on the one side surface of said body toward which said tunnel is laterally offset, said plurality of flipper assemblies pivotably movable between an extended position substantially normal to said body and a retracted position substantially flush therewith;
b. means interconnecting said plurality of flipper assemblies so that the pivotable movement thereof is in unison; and
0. means mounted on said body and connected to said means for interconnecting said plurality of flipper assemblies by which a user may move said plurality of flipper assemblies.
9. A pair of water walking pontoons as claimed in claim 1 further comprising:
a. a plurality of flipper assemblies mounted on the bottom of said body and pivotably movable between a depending extended position and a retracted position substantially flush therewith;
b. means interconnecting said plurality of flipper assemblies so that the pivotable movement thereof is in unison; and
c. means mounted on said body and connected to said means for interconnecting said plurality of flipper assemblies by which a user may move said plurality of flipper assemblies.
10. A water walking apparatus comprising:
a. a pair of elongated pontoons juxtapositionally operable with respect to each other, each of said pontoons having a body of rigid buoyant construction;
b. a tunnel formed in each of said pontoons and extending longitudinally thereof, said tunnels positioned adjacent the bottoms of their respective ones of said pontoons and laterally offset toward the outwardly disposed side surfaces thereof, each of said tunnels having a water admitting opening formed therein proximate the bow of their respective ones of said pontoons and having a water exiting opening formed proximate the stems thereof;
c. flipper means mounted within each of said tunnels for permitting water to flow therethrough in the direction from the bow to the stern and preventing water from flowing in the reverse direction; and
d. a boot member formed in each of said pontoons and positioned substantially intermediate the bow and the stern of their respective ones of said pontoons, each of said boots laterally offset toward the inwardly disposed side surface of its respective one of said pontoons and extending from the bottom upwardly through the body to the deck thereof.
1 l. A water walking apparatus as claimed in claim 10 wherein each of said pontoons is formed with pitch dampening means on the bow and stem thereof, said pitch dampening means including a cantilever deck having the bottom surface positioned immediately above the intended water line of said pontoons.
12. A water walking apparatus as claimed in claim 10 wherein said pair of pontoons are interconnected with inertia reducing means for biasingly urging said pontoons into a side-by-side relationship.
13. A water walking apparatus as claimed in claim 10 wherein said pair of pontoons are interconnected at their respective bows and stems with elastic cords for aiding the user to overcome inertia when using said pontoons.
14. A water walking apparatus as claimed in claim 10 wherein said pair of pontoons are interconnected at their respective bows, stems and midship portions with elastic cords for aiding the user in overcoming inertia. =k