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Publication numberUS3846867 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 12, 1974
Filing dateJun 19, 1972
Priority dateJun 19, 1972
Publication numberUS 3846867 A, US 3846867A, US-A-3846867, US3846867 A, US3846867A
InventorsBryant J
Original AssigneeBryant J
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Road water collection and surface cleaning apparatus
US 3846867 A
Abstract
An apparatus for collecting road surface water by utilizing the flinging action of the rotating tire, the apparatus including an open cell foam pad positioned within the wheel well adjacent an upper and trailing portion of the tire. The foam pad utilizes the capillary action to deposit the collected water in a reservoir. The apparatus further includes a system for directing the collected water to the surface of the headlamp lens thereby providing a wetting of the headlamp lens and thus increasing the transmissibility of the lens even though dirt particles are suspended in the water.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

1 Nov. 12, 1974 ROAD WATER COLLECTION AND SURFACE CLEANING APPARATUS [76] Inventor: John J. Bryant, 359 Hawthorn, Glen Ellyn, 111. 60137 [22] Filed: June 19, 1972 [21] Appl. No.: 264,365

[52] US. Cl 15/250.02, 15/250 A, 15/250.l2 [51] Int. Cl A471 l/46 [58] Field of Search 15/250.01, 250, 250.02, 15/98, 4, 250 A, 250.12

[56] References Cited I UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,079,620 3/1963 Hunter 15/98 3,408,673 11/1968 Oxel 15/98 3,555,289 1/1971 Sobkow 15/250.02 3,623,181 11/1971 Bailly 15/250.02 3,667,082 6/1972 Hoyler 15/250.02

FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 942,338 11/1963 Great Britain 15/98 1,913,204 9/1970 Germany 15/250.02

[57] ABSTRACT An apparatus for collecting road surface water by utilizing the flinging action of the rotating tire, the apparatus including an open cell foam pad positioned within the wheel well adjacent an upper and trailing portion of the tire. The foam pad utilizes the capillary action to deposit the collected water in a reservoir. The apparatus further includes a system for directing the collected water to the surface of the headlamp lens thereby providing a wetting of the headlamp lens and thus increasing the transmissibility of the lens even though dirt particles are suspended in the water.

' The purpose of the foregoing abstract is to enable the Patent Office and the public generally, and especially the scientists, engineers or practitioners in the art who are not familiar with patent or legal terms or phraseology, to determine quickly from a cursory inspection the nature and essence of the technical disclosure of the application. The abstract is neither intended to define the invention of the application, which is measured by the claims, nor is it intended to be limiting as to the scope of the invention in any way.

33 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures HUVIZIQN .84 .86

ATENTED MU NF 3 5 MlLES ROAD WATER COLLECTION AND SURFACE CLEANING APPARATUS BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE DEVELOPMENT This invention relates generally to an apparatus for collecting road surface moisture and utilizing the moisture for wetting portions of the vehicle and more particularly to an apparatus for collecting and filtering water expelled from the circumferential surface of a rorating vehicle tire and utilizing the collected water to increase the transmissibility of a headlamp lens by depositing the collected water on the lens.

Operating a vehicle on streets and highways which have been salted due to the accumulation of snow and- /or ice creates a problem in substantially reducing light from the headlamps due to the depositing of salt water on the lenses when other vehicles render the salt water airborne and direct it into the path of travel of the vehicle. This water, plus the salt and dirt, has a tendency to collect and dry on the headlamp lenses due to the fact that the headlamp lens is operating atan elevated temperature when illuminated. This water, containing salts in solution, opaque solids and oils, has been found to become more opaque as the water evaporates, the unevaporated water providing a devious path for light to travel around the dirt particles.

Further, as the water dries, the particles become compacted to form a hard film of greater opacity which can only be removed effectively by a mechanical wiping action. In the case of vehicles provided with headlamp doors, this film is not removed from the lenses in car wash facilities as the vehicle is typically washed with the headlamps off and the headlamp doors closed.

It has been found that, if the headlights could be kept wet with a flowing film of water, this problem of transmissibility of light through the film is greatly alleviated, even in the presence of dirt and other impurities. Further, the dispersion of light is minimized to reduce the glare to oncoming traffic.

With the system of the present invention, an apparatus is provided to automatically, and if desired,'manually, provide moisture in the form of either water or steam for the surface of the lenses, thereby providing the film required to reduce opacity and improve the transmissibility of light through the headlamp lens. The

. water used with the system of the present invention is collected by means of pads placed in the fender wells and positioned to collect water being thrown from the spinning vehicle tires. This water is collected in a reservoir, the reservoir being provided with tubing to direct the moisture to the surface of the headlamp lens. The system also includes means for sensing the presence of moisture being thrown from the vehicle wheels and the presence of a wet film of sufficient quantity and of a particular characteristic, these two sensors being utilized to control the operation of the moisture feeding apparatus.

The system of the present invention, with its capabil ity of using road surface water, is provided with a means for filtering the water to a great extent and with a means for heating the water collecting apparatus to preclude slush and freezing conditions in the water collection and storage system,

Under some conditions, it is desirable to be able to operate the system manually to provide water or steam to the headlamps when the moisture sensor does not provide an indication that moisture is being collected from the road even though the moisture storage container is full. Under these circumstances, a manual switch is provided to operate the system and provide either moisture or steam to the headlamps. The system also includes a means for mechanically scrubbing the headlamp lenses to remove dirt and collected particles from the lenses which collect as a result of impurities in the water. It has been found that heat and chemical changes in the solution create an extremely hard film which may not be easily removed by merely providing a film of moisture for the lamp lens. Accordingly, when the proper conditions exist, a headlamp scrubbing apparatus, in the form of a curved wiper, is provided to mechanically scrub the lens to remove the dirt and to disrupt the surface tension of the dry lens so the water will flow evenly.

Further, it has been found that it is undesirable, in certain cases, to leave water in the moisture storage apparatus or the steam producing apparatus after the vehicle has been stopped. This may be true even though the solution contains a large amount of salt as freezing conditions may be sufficiently severe to cause freezing of the apparatus even under high salt solution conditions. Accordingly, an automatic system purge assembly is provided which is activated in response to the stopping of the engine. The system, in the preferred embodiment, is rendered responsive to engine vacuum, this vacuum source being utilized to control the operation of purge valves, the valves being opened to permit the water to drain out when the engine is stopped.

While the invention will be described in the environment of providing a moisture film for headlamp lenses, it is to be understood that this is merely a preferred embodiment of the invention and the invention has many other and varied uses. For example, the system could be utilized to control the flow moisture to a windshield or other surfaces of the vehicle which require a capability of transmitting light therethrough. Also, the system could be provided with other variants to utilize the collected water from the road surface. Further, certain embodiments are illustrated with certain features not illustrated in other embodiments. It is to be understood that many illustrated features are interchangeable and capable of being added to other embodiments.

Accordingly, it is one object of the present invention to provide an improved system for washing certain portions of a motor vehicle.

lt is another object of the present invention to provide an improved system for collecting and storing water in a motor vehicle.

It is still a further object of the present invention to provide an improved system for supplying and maintaining a coating of moisture on portions of a motor vehicle.

It is still a further object of the present invention to provide an improved system for collecting impure road water and separating the impurities from the water to provide relatively clear water for use in washing certain portions of a vehicle.

It is still a further object of the present invention to provide an improved headlamp lens washing system which includes means for providing moisture to the lens and additional means for scrubbing the lens to remove the film from the lens.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a control system for supplying moisture to a headlamp lens wherein the moisture is supplied in response to a sensed condition of a wet road surface and a condition of the headlamp lens.

It is another object of the present invention to provide an improved system for supplying steam to a headlamp lens for wetting the lens and improve the transmissibility of light from the bulb to the road surface.

It is still a further object of the present invention to provide an improved system for collecting and storing moisture which includes a system for heating the collection and storage apparatus when the engine of the vehicle is running.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide an improved logic system for controlling the application of moisture to a headlamp lens.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide an automatic and manual control system for applying moisture and a scrubbing action to the lens of a headlamp.

Further objects, features and advantages of this invention will become apparent from consideration of the following description, the appended claims and the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagram'ofa vehicle, partially in cross section, and a schematic diagram of a control system illustrating certain features of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a graph illustrating various road conditions and operations of the control system of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an illustration of a vehicle and a schematic diagram of a control system illustrating a modification of the invention illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is another diagram similar to FIGS. 1 to 3 and illustrating a further modification of the system of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating a preferred form of logic circuit for controlling the moisture applying and scrubbing apparatus of the present. invention,

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating another modified form of the system of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of still a further modification of the system of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram illustrating still a further modification of the system of the present inventron.

Referring now to the arrangement illustrated in FIG. 1, a. vehicle is provided with a water catching 'pad 1 which is mounted on the underside of either one or both of the front fenders 2 of the vehicle by means of a suitable bracket assembly 2a. The pad 1 may be mounted in any convenient manner suitable to collecting water thrown from the spinning tire 3 of the vehicle. The water collection pad 1 preferably is positioned relatively low in the fender and may be of sufficient size to extend above the tire 3 as illustrated in FIG. 1. It has been found that the higher the angular speed of the tire 3, the lower the water emanating from the spinning tire will hit the fender well. Further, the pad 1 preferably is curved around the fender well to be positioned adjacent the side walls of the tire so that water displaced sideways from the tire may be collected in the water collection pad 1.

The padv 1 is preferably fabricated of open cell polyurethane foam or other similar materials which permit capillary action to carry the water from the underside of the pad 1 into a water collecting gutter 4. As water and dirt is thrown from the tire to the water collection pad 1, solid dirt particles are deposited and collected on the undersurface of the pad and the water is fed, by capillary action, to the gutter 4. Thus, the pad acts as a filter to remove large impurities from the water being collected. Further, when the pad is dry after the use described above, vibration of the vehicle and the impacting of dust and dirt against the pad 1 will cause the pad to drop the solid dirt particles which were deposited on the bottom of the pad. Thus, the pad 1 is substantially self cleaning.

The collected water in the gutter 4 is fed to a reservoir 5 by means of a tube 7 positioned adjacent a bottom portion of the gutter 4. The water, and any solid material which is fed from the pad to the gutter 4, enters the interior of the chamber 5 and the solid particles 6 fall to the bottom of the collection chamber 5. These particles collect adjacent an opening 8 to be removed as will be explained hereinafter. The collection chamber 5 provided with an overflow aperture 9, the aperture 9 being in fluid communicationwith a tube 10, the water being directed from the interior of chamber 5 through the tube 10 to exit at outlet end 11.

For a better understanding of the water collection process, reference is made to FIG.- 2 which illustrates a typical set of road conditions for both a dry road and a wet surface. In the illustration of FIG. 2, the letter A represents the cross section of the surface of a five mile length of typical level road surface at the center line thereof. Vertical distances illustrate relative quantities to be described hereinafter and are exaggerated to improve the clarity of the graph.

The details of FIG. 2 are representative of an actual five mile stretch of road including an initial portion of dry road, an intermediate portion of wet surface and a final portion of dry road. The curve labeled B represents the amount of existing dry particles on the surface of the road which may, under certain conditions of relative travel of other vehicles, be pickedup and rendered airborne and subsequently deposited on the headlamps of the vehicle incorporating the system of the present invention. The curve C represents the concentration of salt water on the road surface which is created by salt crystals being deposited on snow which subsequently melts or are deposited on the dry surface. Curve D represents the quantity of melted snow .available on the surface of the road along the wet portion, which distance is represented by letter L.

Thus, as the test vehicle is traveling from left to right along the five mile stretch of road, the vehicle encounters an initial dry portion for a distance labeled H and subsequently encounters the wet portion L, which corresponds to the portion on which the melted snow has been deposited, the amount being represented by curve D. As the vehicle enters portion .l of the wet surface, the melted snow is collected in the collection pad 1 and is directed to the gutter 4 and thus to the collection chamber 5. The water is collected in the chamber but not directed to the headlamp surface until such time as a proper quantity of water is collected. The flow of water from the collection chamber to the lens is represented by curve B. It will be noted that the flow of water from the reservoir 5 to lens 12 commences at the end of period I.

As the vehicle moves along portion L, it is passed by a second car which renders the dirt and salt saturated moisture airborne, this mixture being collected on the lens of the test vehicle as represented by curve F, the

curve F representing the rate at which the mist is deposited on the lens 12. Curve E indicates that the water is flowing from the reservoir 5 over the lens and the dirt is being washed away before it drys or is suspended in a film of moisture. As the test vehicle passes from wet to dry road, this latter dry portion being designated K, water continues to flow from the reservoir 5 to the lens 12 as indicated by curve B. This insures that the danger of further collection of dirt on the lens is precluded'and insures that the lens 12 is washed clean after a trip over a road surface such as illustrated in FIG. 2. From curve C, it can be seen that the saturation of salt water relative to the amount of water available will contain enough salt to keep the reservoir 5 from freezing. Further, the reservoir 5 could be mounted inside the engine compartment for added freeze protection during the period that the engine is operating. The situation could occur during conditions of sleet when no salt is on the road, that ice could form on the pad 1 to stop the water intake to the reservoir 5. In this'case, the supply of water for the film to be provided on the lens 12 must come solely from the reservoir 5.

Further, it is to be understood that rain water from V the road may dilute the salt solution in the reservoir 5 over an extended period requiring a period check of the specific gravity of the solution. A similar situation will occur if anti-freeze is utilized in the reservoir 5 to preclude freezing. In order to aid in the period checking of the specific gravity of the solution in the reservoir 5, a built-in hydrometer may be provided within the reservoir. Other'solutions to the freezing problem will be seen from a'further description of the present invention.

Referring back to FIG. 1, andparticularly to the control system for the lens washing apparatus, it is seen that the lens 12 is also supplied with water from a second conduit 12a through a solenoid valve assembly 14, the hose and the aperture 11. When the situation exists that the reservoir 5 is insufficiently filled to provide water at the overflow orifice 9, water is supplied through the conduit 12a and the valve 14. However, the valve 14 does not operate until such time as a moisture sensor 17 senses the fact that moisture is being thrown from the wheel 3 to the catcher pad 1. When this occurs, the circuit through the moisture sensor 17 is closed to energize an amplifier l8 and thus energize a coil 13a which is connected in electromagnetic control of the switch 13. Upon closure of the switch 13, a circuit is complete from battery 20 through a main energy carrying conductor 21, a normally closed set of contacts 22, a conductor 23, the armature 12a, and coil 24 forming a part of the solenoid assembly 14. The energization of coil 24 opens a valve 25 to permit fluid to flow from the reservoir 5 to the lens 12. The lens 12 is provided with a moisture sensing element 28 which is adapted to sense the presence of sufficient moisture at the lens 12 to wet the lens 12 in the manner described above.

The wetting of lens 12 completes a circuit to energize an amplifier 30, the amplifier 30 being supplied with energy from the main buss 31, to energize a solenoid coil 34. The energization of the coil 34 causes armature 22 to move from the normally closed position shown to open the contacts and thus break the supply of energy from conductor 21 to conductor 23. This movement of armature 22 will deenergize coil 24 to cause the cessation of fluid flow through the conduit 12a. When the lens again becomes dry, the coil 34 will be deenergized and the process will be repeated assuming that water is still being sensed by means of moisture sensor 17.

With this arrangement, as the car enters interval J, the first switch 13 energizes the solenoid valve 25 letting reserve water flow through the hose 12a to wet the lens 12. When the second moisture sensor 28, receiving the water from the aperture 11, energizes the coil 34, the flow of water is stopped due to the closure of valve 25.

This cyclical operation continues until such time as the reservoir 5 is sufficiently filled to supply water on a continuous basis to the overflow orifice 9 to keep the lens wet without reducing the level of the water below the orifice 9. With sufficient water, the chamber 5 is purged of settling particles 6 when the level of the water is sufficiently high to raise a float 36 to a point where a head 38 is engaged. The engagement of head 38, and subsequent lifting of that head, will lift a ball 40 from the orifice 8 to permit the settled particles to flow out of the bottom of the chamber 5. When sufficient water has drained out to lower the float 36, the ball 40 will again drop into place to close off the bottom of the chamber 5.

The system also includes a wiper assembly 42 which is controlled by means of an automatic control switch 44, the control switch 44 being operated in response to the sensing of moisture by means of sensor 28 or the operation of a manual switch 46, as will be more fully explained hereinafter. Referring particularly to the automatic portion of the operation, when moisture is sensed through a circuit including sensor 28 and a conductor 48, a circuit is complete from the main current carrying conductor 21 through the control switch 44 to ground. This causes the operation of arm 50 to wipe the flexible wiper element in the form of a blade 42 across the lens 12. In this way the removal of encrusted dirt, etc. is greatly facilitated. Upon continuous feeding of water to the lens 12, continuous operation of the blade 42 will occur as long as the reservoir 5 is sufficiently full to continuously supply water at the overflow orifice 9. Thus, the wiper operates to wet the lens until the wet sensor operates to stop the wiper action, at which time water continues to flow. For an example of a wiper element, reference is made to US. Pat. No. 2,884,656.

If manual operation is desired, a manual switch 46 overrides the sensor and is closed which supplies electrical energy from the battery 20 directly to the solenoid coil 24 through the switch 46 and a conductor 52. This energization of coil 24 will open valve 25 to supply water from the reservoir 5 through the conduit 12a as long as the switch 46 is held closed and sufficient water remains in the reservoir 5. Also, energy is similarly supplied to the wiper control switch 44 from the battery 20 through the switch 46, a conductor 56, and a second conductor 58. Thus, as long as manual switch 46 is held closed, the control 44 will be energized and the wiper blade 42 will continuously wipe across the lens 12.

For insect removal, the operator may manually operate the control switch 46 to activate the mechanical wiper means for wiping the lens while the valve 25 is open. This scrubbing action of the lens 12 effectively removes dirt and any insects which may have collected. In most vehicles, the level of the headlights 12 is not lower than the lowest level of water in the reservoir 5. In these cases, gravity cannot provide enough pressure to distribute the water on the lens 12 effectively. To augment the distribution of water on the lens 12, the wiper 42 is connected to run when the solenoid valve 25 is activated by the sensors 17. Thus, by distributing the water with the wiper element 42, the lack of water pressure does not create a serious disadvantage.

Referring now to FIG. 3, there is illustrated a modified form of the apparatus of the present invention. Particularly, the water from wheels 3 is collected by impingement against the pad 1, the water flowing to the gutter 4 for collection in a collecting chamber 60 by means of a tube 62. The water enters the collection chamber 60 at a tangent to cause the stored water to rotate about the central axis of the collection chamber 60. Any sediment (illustrated at 64) is collected at the bottom of the chamber 60 for discharge through an orifice 66. The collected water is drawn from the chamber 60 at a point adjacent the upper level of the chamber 60 by means of a hose 68 fastened to the bottom edge of a float element 70 to insure that relatively-clean water is fed to the tube 68. As is seen from the drawing in FIG. 3, the float 70 will follow the upper level of the water to adjust the intake end of the hose 68 as the level of water varies.

As the water level rises, the float 70 engages a head element 72 of a rod assembly 74 to raise the rod assembly 74 to an extreme upper level in response to the rising water level. This opens the aperture 66 by removing a plug element 78 from the aperture 66 to discharge water and any sediment which may have collected at the bottom of the chamber 60. In this way, the collection of sediment at the bottom of the chamber 60 is controlled and also the maximum level to which the water may rise in the chamber is limited.

Referring now to the control system for supplying water to the lens 12, a solenoid assembly 80 is energized in response to the closure of a headlamp switch 82, the closure of switch 82 causing solenoid 80 to stroke a pump 84 thereby forcing water into a main tube 86 and a pair of branch tubes 88, 90 for a timed period in response to the closure of switch 82. This action is controlled by means of a program circuit 92 which is interconnected between the switch 82 and the solenoid 80, the program circuit also providing timed operation of the wiper motors. The program circuit 92 is of the type which supplies energy to retract a piston 96 and subsequently drives piston 96 downwardly thus initially drawing water into the chamber below the piston 96 through the tube 68 and a flapper valve 98 and subsequently forcing the water out through the tube 86 through a flapper valve 100. Of course, during the time that the piston 96 is rising, the valve 100 will be closed and the valve 98 will be open and, upon downward movement of piston 96, valve 98 will be closed and valve 100 will be open. Further, the programmer circuit 92 could provide successive upward and downward motions of piston 96 to successively pump pulses of water into tube 86 for a period of time. The program circuit 92 also controls the energization of the wiper motors by means of a timed output signal appearing at the upper left output conductor of the circuit 92.

The programmer 92 is rendered active in response to the closure of headlamp switch 82 to energize the solenoid 80 and the wiper motors 44 for a timed period to initially loosen any crust of dirt which may have formed while the vehicle was parked or running in the daylight. Thus, the closure of switch 82 provides energy to the programmer 92 which actuates solenoid motor 80 and wiper motors 44 until such time as the programmer circuit 92 times out. The programmer 92 is reset by the opening of the headlamp switch 82 and subsequent pumping of the .water to the headlamps maybe accomplished by again reclosing switch 82. The pump solenoid 80 is normally operated when the headlamp switch 82 is closed and water is flowing into reservoir under the control of a pair of contacts 102, 104 which are closed in response to the water level. This level is sensed by means of a float which engages a head 72. The head 72 rises to close contacts 102, 104 and thus supply energy to the solenoid through the switch 82.

Manual operation of the system is accomplished by a manual switch 114 which includes a pair of contacts 116, 118 connected in parallel with contacts 102, 104. Thus, the closure of switch 114 simulates the closure of contacts 102, 104 by bridging contacts 116, 118. Switch 114 also provides an output signal to a conductor 120 to actuate the wiper control 44, in the form of a self-parking motor, through a conductor 122 when the headlamp switch is closed. This causes wiper 42 to wipe across the lens 12 and thus spread the moisture being fed to the headlamps 12 by means of conduits 88, 90. The outlet end of the conduits 88 and includes a pair of spreading nipples 124 mounted at the ends of the tubes 88 and 90 for distribution of the water on the lens 12.

Referring particularly to the tubes 88 and 90, the tubes are initially formed of a generally elongated configuration having a pair of sides closely positioned adjacent one another such that the interior orifice of the hose 90 is substantially closed. This closed configuration is illustrated at 900 and occurs when the tubes are empty and not being pumped with water. Upon water being pumped from the chamber 84, the tubes are inflated to the configuration illustrated at 88a so that water may be pumped into the tubes 88 and 90 with a quick stroke of the piston 96 and may be emptied at a metered rate depending on the orifices provided in the nipples 124. The inflated configuration of the tubes 88 and 90 is illustrated at 88a. In this way, the solenoid 80 need only be pulsed to pump water into the tubes 88 and 90.

Further, when the pressure in the hoses falls and the vehicle is turned off, the closure of tubes 88 and 90 to the configuration illustrated at 90a will purge all of the water in the tubes to preclude freezing and blockage of the tubes during the period that the system is not being used.

In order to preclude freezing of the water in the reservoir 60, a heating coil 126 is wrapped around the exterior of the chamber 60 and engine coolant is directed into the interior portion of the tube. The engine coolant enters through conduit 128 and is exited therefrom by means of a conduit 130. A temperature response valve 132 is provided in series in the conduit 130, or in conduit 128. The valve is set to close when the temperature of the cooling fluid exceeds some fixed temperature, as for example, temperatures above 50 F. In this way, the

temperature of the chamber 60 is not elevated to an excessive degree.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is illustrated a further modification of a system incorporating the features of the present invention. Particularly, the system of FIG. 4 includes a boiler assembly 132 which utilizes collected water from a collection chamber 134 to produce steam and, thus, produce a cleaning fluid for the headlamp lenses 12.

The boiler assembly 132 is adapted to be attached or integrally cast with the vehicle exhaust manifold 136, which in turn is attached to the vehicle engine 138 to conduct exhaust gases from the inside of the engine to the muffler system. Thus, heat is generated within the steam boiler 132 to heat water within the boiler to a sufficient degree to produce steam. Water may be initially introduced into the steam boiler 132 by means of a wick 140 which has one end 142 inserted into the main body portion 144 of the steam boiler and the other end positioned adjacent the exit aperture of the gutter 4. As was the case with the preceding figures, water is collected from the tire 3 by means of a pad 1, which water is deposited in the gutter 4 and ultimately drops onto the wick 140.

Steam produced within the boiler 132 is sent to each headlight lens by means of tubes 144, 146 where it condenses to efficiently cover lenses l2. Enough condensate is found to sputter from orifices 148 to cover the lenses 12 with hot water. If the boiler is full of water, excess water will be blown back through the pipe holding the wick 140 to the reservoir access tube 150 where it will fall into the reservoir 134. The access tube 150 is provided with a suitable cap 152 to provide access to the interior of the tube 150.

Assuming a vehicle is started with sufficient water in the boiler 144, the boiler will be elevated in temperature due to the exhaust gases flowing through the exhaust manifold 136. The heating of the boiler 144 will cause a switch 154 to close due to the fact that a temperature sensing element 156 will sense the elevated temperature of the boiler and, in response to the sensing of a preselected temperature, close switch 154. When the headlamp switch 82 is closed, a circuit will be completed from battery 20 through the switch 82 to a relay 160, the circuit through the relay 160 being completed by means of a diode 162, a resistorcapacitor combination 164, and switch 154 to ground at 166.

Thus, the initial surge of current through the coil 160 will pull up the relay 160 and also charge the capacitor portion of the RC circuit 164. The energization of solenoid 160 closes a switch 168 to complete a circuit from battery 20, through the switch 82 and the switch 168 to energize a solenoid motor 170. Solenoid 160 provides a stroke with each input to the timer circuit to speed-up the steam producing processes and avoid the delay created by the wick. The solenoid motor will then be operated to draw water from the reservoir 134 to a pump 172 by means of a tube 174. Subsequent movement of the piston of pump 172 closes a first flapper valve 176 and opens a second flapper valve 178 to force water up through a tube 180 to the boiler 144. In this way the boiler 144 is charged with water when the boiler is sufficiently hot to produce steam and preclude pumping solvent onto the lens. When the charge on the capacitor portion of the RC circuit 164 is sufficiently high to reduce the current through the coil 160 to point below which the switch 168 drops out, the solenoid 170 will be deenergized to stop the operation of the pump 172. The energization of the coil 170 also energizes the wiper motor 44 through a conductor 178 to cause the wiper motor 144 to operate and move wiper blades 42 across the face of the lens 12.

Upon sensing moisture being fed from the wheel 3 to the pad 1, the. sensor device 17 will ground the base electrode of a PNP transistor 182 to cause the transistor 182 to conduct. The conduction of transistor 182 permits current to flow from the battery 20 through the switch 82, through the emitter collector circuit of transistor 182 to energize a solenoid coil 184. The energization of the coil 184 causes a switch 186 to close to complete a circuit from battery 20 through the coil 160, through a diode 186 and an RC timing circuit 188. This current also flows through the switch 186 to ground at 166 throughthe switch 154. The energization of the coil again pulls up the switch blade 168 to energize the coil and cause pumping of water from the reservoir 134 to the boiler 144. When the charge on the capacitor and RC circuit 188 becomes sufficiently high to reduce the current through coil 160 below the drop out point, the switch 168 will open to stop the operation of the pump 172.

Manual operation of the system may be accomplished by means of closing a manual switch 190 which is connected in circuit with the battery, the solenoid coil 160, the diode 192 and an RC timing circuit 194. The coil is then energizedthrough the switch 190 and the switch 154 to ground at 166. Thus, the coil 160 is energized through the RC timing circuit to operate the pump 172 through the solenoid coil 170. When the voltage across'the capacitor to the RC timing circuit in 194 reaches a sufficient level to reduce the current through the coil 160, the switch 168 will drop out to stop the operation of the motor of the pump 172.

Referring now to'the reservoir operation, it is seen that the water is collected on the pad 1 and drops onto the wick 140. Also, the water drops past the wick 140 and into a collection chamber 198. The collection chamber is provided with a flattened tube 200 which permits water to flow downwardly through the chamber 198 into the collection chamber 134. The tube 198 enters the chamber 134 at a tangent to provide a swirling action for the collected water such that any particles which may be present in the water are collected at the bottom as shown at 202. A suitable purge plug 204 is provided to remove the sediment from the collection chamber 134 and also to empty chamber 134 of any water that may be in it.

The chamber 134 is provided with a float 210, the underside of which carries the end of tube 174 to insure that only the cleanest water in the chamber is collected and directed to the pump 172. The flat tube 200 also acts as a check valve to insure that no evaporation from the reservoir 134 escapes to the atmosphere. Further,

an overflow nipple 212 is provided to insure that the water level in the reservoir 198 is limited. Thus, any excess water which is not capable of being absorbed by wick 140 drops into the chamber 198 to be fed to the collection tank 134 through the flat tube 200.

It is to be understood that steam hoses 144 and 146, and a steam hose to be connected to the windshield wipers to be explained below, may be fabricated in a manner similar to the hoses 88 and 90 described in con-' junction with FIG. 4. In this manner, the condensate which could freeze and delay the passage of subsequent steam charges is purged from the hoses. Further, it is to be understood that other types of timing circuits and control circuits may be utilized in lieu of those described in conjunction with this Figure. For example, a timing circuit such as to be described in conjunction with FIG. 5 may be utilized. Further, the steam generated within the boiler 144 may also be utilized to clean the windshield 220 of the vehicle by attachment of a hose 222 to the windshield wiper arm. In this situation, a normally closed push-button valve 224 would be provided for operation from within the interior of the vehicle by the operator. Thus, when the system is cleaning the headlamps, the valve 224 may be open to permit steam to flow through thetube 222 for spraying on the windshield 220.

Upon completion of driving the vehicle, the boiler 144 will cool while the wick 140 is still wet. The steam in the boiler 144 will condense, thereby causing a vacuum which will draw clear water from the wick into the steam generator 144. Suitable solvent may be provided in the boiler to dissolve any depositswhich may be collected therein and the deposits may be drawn back into the reservoir 134 by means of the capillary action of the wick 140. Theupper end of the boiler 144 is provided with a cap 226 wich may be utilized for periodically cleaning out the boiler 144 and the wick 140. I

Also, the reservoir 134 may be fabricated of transparent plastic so that the operator may readily ascertain if any sediment, salt crystals, etc. have collected in the collection chamber l34. Also, a hydrometer device 228 may be provided within the chamber 134, and thus enable one to readily seethrough the transparent sides, to enable the operator to'determine the specific gravity of the fluid within the chamber 134 to determine if any anti-freeze or other type of freeze preventing solvents should be added.

Referring now to FIG. 5, there is illustrated one form of logic circuit which may be used to control the operation of the boiler 144 and the wiper motors 44. Particularly, the circuit includes a plurality of AND gates 230, 232, 234 which provide output signals in response to certain conditions at the input circuit thereof to activate a plurality of timing circuits 236, 238, 240. The output of the timing circuits are connected to the input circuit of an OR gate 242, the output of which is connected in controlling relation with both the wiper 44 and the solenoid 170.

Referring to the particular details of the input signals to the gates 230, 234, it is seen that the gate 234 is provided with an input signal corresponding to the closure of the headlamp switch by means of a conductor 244. Gate 234 also includes an input signal corresponding to the closure of the switch 154 by means of a conductor 246 to signal that the boiler is sufficiently hot to generate steam. Thus, with the coincidence of the signals on conductors 244, 246, the gate 234 provides an output pulse to the timer 240 to activate the motor 44 and solenoid 170. The actuation of these two circuits 44 and 170 operate the system of FIG. 4 in the manner described above. The gate 230, in addition to having input signals from the headlamp switch 82 and the thermostat switch 154 by means of conductors 248, 250 respectively, also includes an input signal corresponding to the sensing of moisture from the tires by means of moisture sensor 17, the signal appearing on a conductor 252. Thus, with the coincidence of all the signals on conductors 248 to 252, the AND gate 230 will provide an output pulse to energize timing circuit 236 to actuate motor 44 and solenoid coil 170.

The manual circuit operates in response to the energization of the gate 232 which includes input signals from the headlamp switch by means of a conductor 254 and the boiler temperature by means of a conductor 256 and a signal corresponding to the closure of manual switch 190 by means of a conductor 258. Thus, when these three signal conditions coincide, an output signal from the gate 232 will pulse timer 238 to initiate the timing for energization of the motor 44 and solenoid 170. It is to be understood that the timers 236, 238 and 240 could correspond to the timers described in conjunctiom with FIG. 4.

Referring now to FIG. 6, it is seen that the water catcher pad 1 feeds collected water to a collection reservoir 260 by means of a conduit 262. As was the case with FIG. 3, a suitable heating assembly 264 is provided to heat the water within the collection chamber 260. The collection chamber 260 includes a float 266 which includes a rod 268 which is adapted to purge the bottom of the reservoir 260 through an aperture 270 and also to actuate a switch assembly 272. When the water in the reservoir 260 reaches a sufficient level to actuate the switch 272, switch contacts within the switch 272 are closed to energize the wiper motor 44 and a pump assembly 276.

Specifically, the pump 276 is fed energy from a positive source of potential at conductori280 through the headlamp switch 82 and a moisture sensor assembly 282. The sensor 282 senses the degree to which the dirt solution on the lens contains salt and controls the feeding of energy to conductor 284 by cutting off the source when the solution is insufficiently salty. The energy is fed to the upper contact of switch 272 through a conductor 284,. the switch 272 then feeding the energy to the pump 276 when the switch 272 is closed. Also, the wiper motor 44 is energized through the switch 272 by a circuit including conductor 284, switch 272, a conductor 288, a normally closed thermostatic switch 290 and a conductor 292 to ground. Thus, when the switch 272 is closed and the switch290 is closed, the wiper motor 44 is energized, assuming that the headlamp switch is closed.

With energization of the pump 276, water is fed to a boiler assembly 296 through a one-way check valve 298, the boiler generating steam to be fed to the headlamp lens 12 through an insulated steam line 300. When steam is being generated by boiler 296 and is being fed to the lens 12 by means of the assembly 300,

the thermostatic switch 290 heats up and opens the switch contained therein to break the circuit to the wiper motor 44. Thus, the source of energy to the motor 44 being fed thereto by means of a conductor 288 is cut off when the switch 290 is open. Thus, the

I sensor is used primarily to shut down the pump and the rected to the chamber 310, the water falls into a pivoted trough 314, the trough 314 being adapted to pivot about a pivot point 316 when the trough fills sufficiently to alter the center of gravity of the trough 314.

When this unbalance of the center of gravity occurs, the trough 314 tips to the positon shown to dump water in the interior of the collection chamber 310. The water is adapted to raise a float 320 positioned in the interior of the trough 310, the flat 320 being connected to a ball valve 322. The ball valve 322 is adapted to close an aperture 324 at the bottom of the collection chamber 310 until such time as the water level rise to a point wherein the ball 312 is lifted from the aperture 324. When this occurs, any sediment which is collected at the bottom of the tank 310 is discharged and the water level within the collection chamber 310 is limited to a predetermined maximum.

The container 310 is also provided with a spiral heating coil which may be supplied engine coolant to heat the interior of the container 310 and this preclude freezing of the water contained therein during the period that the engine is running. Water is fed from the container 310 to the lens 12 by means of a conduit 328, a pump assembly 330, a boiler 332 and a second conduit 334. Thus, water is drawn from the container 310 and pumped to the boiler 332 by means of the pump assembly 330. The pressure within the boiler 332 will force steam through the line 334 to the lens 12.

The pump assembly includes a diaphragm type pump 336 which includes a flapper valve 338, a diaphragm 340 and a biasing spring 342. In the relaxed state, the diaphragm 340 is in the position shown under the influence of the spring 342 and the flapper valve 338 is closed. The pump is actuated from a source of vacuum at 346, the source of vacuum being communicated with the interior of the pump 336 by means of a solenoid operated valve 348. The valve is operated in response to the energization of a solenoid 350, the solenoid when energized, closing the lower portion of the valve 348 and opening the upper portion thereof. In this case, the lower portion is communicated with atmosphere while the upper portion is connected to the tube 346 and thus to vacuum. The movement of the valve stem to the lower position seals off the pump 346 from atmosphere and introduces vacuum.

When water is collected in gutter 4 and introduced to the interior of the chamber 310, the water falls into the trough 314. The trough 314 tilts momentarily to dump water and then returns to be refilled. This tilting pulses switch 354 as water is picked up by pad 1. The trough 314 tilts to close a switch assembly 354, the switch assembly being connected at one end to a positive source of potential at conductor 356 through a headlamp switch 358. Accordingly, when the headlamp switch is closed, the positive source is connected to the upper terminal of the switch 354. When the switch is closed, energy is supplied to the solenoid coil 350 through a conductor 360. This energizes the coil to introduce vacuum to the pump 336 to cause the diaphragm 340 to dome upwardly. When the trough 314 tilts back to the original position, the switch 354 is open to deenergize the solenoid 350 and thus relax the diaphragm 340. A resistor-capacitor circuit 361 is provided in series with conductor 374 so that the pulsing of switch 354 is not shorted by the upper contacts of relay 372, as will be seen hereinafter. Thus the charging of the capacitor will permit the solenoid 330 to relax to cause a pumping action while the sensor is closing the wiper circuit. The doming of diaphragm 340 draws water into the lower chamber below the diaphragm through the now open flapper valve 338. When the solenoid 350 is relaxed, the diaphragm 340 relaxes to pump water to the boiler and closes the flapper valve 338.

The above described operation is recurring until such time as water flows on the lens sufficiently to create a good conductor between the lens sensor 364 and ground. When this occurs, current flows from the source of potential at conductor 356, through the closed headlamp switch 358 and through a conductor 366 to a PNP transistor 368. This flow of current causes transistor 368 to conduct, there being sufficient conductivity in the emitter-base circuit to energize a coil 370. The coil 370 electromagnetically closes a double-pole switch assembly 372 to complete a circuit from conductor 366, through the switch 372 to a first conductor 374 and a second conductor 376. The first conductor 374 is connected to conductor 360 to energize the solenoid 350 and the second conductor 376 is connected to energize a wiper motor 380. The wiper motor will then continuously wipe the lens 12 as long as the conductivity of the lens remains sufficiently high. However, when the lens becomes dry, the transistor 368 ceases conduction to open switch 372 and thus relax or deenergize solenoid 350. This energization and deenergization of solenoid 350 again pumps water from the pump 336 to the boiler 332. This action continues as long as the headlamp switch is closed and sufficient water is flowing into the collection chamber 310.

Referring now to FIG. 8, there is illustrated still another modified form of the present invention. Specifically, the pad 1 again collects water from the tires, which water is fed to the gutter 4 and thence to the interior of a collection chamber 380 by means of a conduit 382. The level of water in the chamber 380 is sensed by means of a float 384 and a control arm 386, the position of the control arm being sensed by a switch 388. When the control arm is sufficiently high, thus indicating a sufficient amount of water in the chamber 380, the switch 388 is closed to complete a circuit from a source of positive potential at conductor 390, through the headlamp switch 82 to a solenoid coil 394. The energization of the solenoid coil 394 controls the position of a valve 396, the valve 396 controlling the application of vacuum from a source 398 to a pump 400. The pump 400 is similar to the type described in conjunction with FIG. 7.

The doming of the diaphragm within the pump 400 draws water from the chamber 380 through a check valve 402 and into a conduit 404. The subsequent relaxing of the solenoid 394 due to the lowering of the water level in chamber 380 causes the pump 400 to force the water into a boiler 406. Upon heating of the water, steam is generated which is fed to the lens 12 by means of a conduit 408. The engine vacuum at conduit 398 also is utilized to close a pair of purge valves 410, 412 by means of a pivoted arm 414, the arm being pivoted at point 416. The movement of the arm 414 is controlled by a diaphragm type linear motor 420 which includes a diaphragm similar to that described in conjunction with pump 400. However, the motor 420 includes a rod connected to the diaphragm and emanating from the bottom of the motor 420. This rod 422 is connected to the arm 414. When the engine is turned off, the vacuum is converted to atmospheric pressure thereby allowing the arm 414 to drop down to the dotted position shown. When this occurs, water flows out of the collection chamber 380 through the valve 410 and also from the lines to the right of check valve 402 through the valve 412.

While it will be apparent that the preferred embodiments of the invention disclosed are well calculated to fulfill the objects above stated, it will be appreciated that the invention is susceptible to modification, variation and change without departing from the proper scope or fair meaning of the subjoined claims.

What is claimed is:

l. A mechanism for wetting selected surfaces ofa vehicle having wheels with water collected from the surface on which the vehicle is travelling, the mechanism comprising means for lifting the water from the surface to a position spaced from the surface including at least one wheel of the vehicle, the water to be lifted collecting on the exterior of the wheel as it leaves the surface on which it is travelling and being carried upwardly thereafter, means mounted on the vehicle and positioned adjacent said one wheel for collecting the lifted water, the water being directed to said collecting means by a flinging action, and means in fluid communication with said collecting means for directing the collected water to the vehicle surface to be wetted.

2. The improvement of claim 1 further including means for filtering the lifted water prior to directing the collected water to the vehicle surface to be wetted. 3. The improvement of claim 2 wherein said collecting means includes an open cell porous pad, said pad forming at least a portion of said filtering means.

4. The improvement of claim 3 wherein said collecting means further includes a collection chamber and means for directing fluid from said pad to said collection chamber.

5. The improvement of claim 4 wherein said directing means includes a gutter assembly positioned adjacent to and beneath the edges of the filtering pad.

6. The improvement of claim 5 wherein said directing means includes conduit means connected between said collecting chamber and the surface to be wetted.

7. The improvement of claim 6 wherein the vehicle includes a headlamp having a lens and the surface to be wetted is the headlamp lens.

8. The improvement of claim 6 wherein said conduit means is formed at least partially of a tubular structure.

9. The improvement of claim 7 further including headlamp scrubbing means including a wiper element positioned to be placed into contact with a headlamp 4 lens and motor means for moving said element across the headlamp lens.

10. The improvement of claim 9 further including first control circuit means for controlling the feeding of moisture from the collection chamber to the headlamp lens including means for sensing the lifting of water from the road surface to the collection pad, said sensing means being adapted to control the operation of said control circuit.

11. The improvement of claim 10 wherein said conduit means includes a valve and means for actuating said valve, said valve being actuated in response to the sensing of moisture being lifted from said road surface to said pad.

12. The improvement of claim 11 further including overflow conduit means connected between said collection chamber and said headlamp lens, said second conduit means being positioned adjacent the upper portion of said collection chamber to conduct overflow fluid from said collection chamber to said lens irrespective of the sensing of the lifting of water from the surface to said pad.

13. The improvement of claim 12 further including first control circuit means for controlling the feeding of moisture from the collection chamber to the headlamp lens including means for sensing the lifting of water from the road surface to the collection pad, said sensing means being adapted to control the operation of said control circuit and a second control circuit for controlling the operation of said wiper motor, said control circuit including means for sensing the surface con dition of the headlamp lens, said motor being operated in response to sensing a preselected condition of said headlamp lens.

14. The improvement of claim 13 wherein said condition is the saline condition of the wetted headlamp lens.

15. The improvement of claim 14 further including a headlamp switch, said headlamp switch being connected in circuit with said first and second control circuits to enable said control circuits when said headlamp switch is closed.

16. The improvement of claim 7 wherein said storage container includes an aperture formed adjacent the bottom thereof such that debris within the collection chamber settles to a position adjacent said aperture, said storage container including a float element and means for closing said aperture connected to said float element, said float element opening said aperture when the level of fluid within said container reaches a preselected level.

17. The improvement of claim 16 wherein said conduit means has an end connected to said float element so that water is drawn from the collection chamber at a point adjacent the upper level of water within the collection chamber.

18. The improvement of claim 7 wherein said vehicle includes a headlamp switch to control the headlamps and the improvement further including means for pumping fluid from said collection chamber to said headlamp lens, said pump being activated in response to the closure of said headlamp switch and the level in said collection chamber reaching a preselected height.

19. The improvement of claim 7 further including first control circuit means for controlling the feeding of moisture from the collection chamber to the headlamp lens including means for sensing the lifting of water from the road surface to the collection pad, said sensing means being adapted to control the operation of said control circuit and a second control circuit for controlling the operation of said wiper motor, said control circuit including means for sensing the surface condition of the headlamp lens, said motor being operated in response to sensing a preselected condition of said headlamp lens.

20. The improvement of claim 19 further including means for heating the collection chamber to preclude freezing of the water within said collection chamber during the period that the vehicle is operating.

21. The improvement of claim 19 further including manual switch means connected to control the operation of said first and second control circuits in response to the closure of said manual switch.

22. The improvement of claim 21 wherein said conduit means is formed, at least partially, of a generally flat apertureless tube, said pump forcing fluid into said tube to expand the'tube to a generally circular configuration.

23. The improvement of claim 22 wherein said pump is deenergized and said tube collapses to its original shape to force water within said tube to the headlamp lenses.

24. The improvement of claim 23 wherein said connection means between said pad and said collection chamber is connected to the collection chamber at a point adjacent the bottom of said collection chamber and tangential thereto to cause said water to enter said collection chamber in a swirling motion to precipitate debris in said water to the bottom of said collection chamber.

25. The improvement of claim 24 wherein said control circuit for said pump includes a circuit delay to cause said pump to be energized for a preselected period on a single stroke basis.

26. The improvement of claim 25 further including a manual switch, said manual switch being actuable to energize said pump actuating circuit and said motor for said wiper element.

27. The improvement of claim 7 further including steam generation means, said steam generation means being connected between said water collection pad and said conduit means for generating steam for wetting said lenses from the collected water.

28. The improvement of claim 27 wherein said water is fed directly from said collection pad to said steam generator and a second path is provided for directing water from said collection chamber to said steam generator.

29. The improvement of claim 27 further including a pump connected between said collection chamber and said steam generator, said pump providing pressure for forcing water into said steam generator from said collection chamber.

30. The improvement of claim 29 wherein said pump is vacuum operated in response to vacuum generated from the vehicle engine.

31. The improvement of claim 30 further including a purge system for said collection chamber and said conduit means, said purge system including conduits connected to the lowermost part of said collection chamber and said conduit means, said purge conduits being closed in response to the presence of engine vacuum and open in response to the lack of engine vacuum.

32. In a vehicle, a mechanism for wetting selected surfaces of the vehicle with water collected from the surface on which the vehicle is travelling, the mechanism comprising means for lifting the water from road surface including at least one tire which is supporting the vehicle on said surface, means mounted on the vehicle adjacent said tire for collecting water, means separating gross solids from the collected water and means in fluid communication with said collecting means for directing the collected water to the surface to be wetted, means for sensing the presence of liquid water in front of the vehicle, said sensing means adapted to control the collection and distribution of said collected water, said mechanism maintaining a flowing film of water on said selected surfaces when the vehicle is travelling on wet road.

33. In a vehicle, a mechanism for providing a flowing film of fluid on the exterior surface of selected light pervious elements of said vehicle, the mechanism providing a portable source of fluid water, sensory means connected to parts of said vehicle for sensing the change in the amount of water deposited on said parts of said vehicle, logic devices connected to said sensing means for computing said change in the amount of water deposited on said parts from the data from said sensory means, said logic devices producing an output signal in response to said change in water deposits, means connected to said logic devices for controlling the distribution of water from said source to said surfaces in response to said output signal to maintain said flowing film while the vehicle is travelling through air which said logic devices determines could contain wet dirt.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6266842 *May 6, 1999Jul 31, 2001MüLLER HERMANN-FRANKWindshield cleaning device with liquid collection
Classifications
U.S. Classification15/250.2, 15/250.2, 15/250.12
International ClassificationB60S1/50, B60S1/02, B60S1/56, B60S1/62, B60S1/54, B60S1/46, B60S1/00, B60S1/60
Cooperative ClassificationB60S1/50, B60S1/606, B60S1/542, B60S1/56, B60S1/62
European ClassificationB60S1/56, B60S1/50, B60S1/62, B60S1/54A, B60S1/60B2