US 3859489 A
An electrical switch, particularly a lever stalk mounted switch, includes a body supporting a plurality of resilient contacts. A rotatable contact is selectively engageable with the resilient contacts and is mounted on a rotatable carrier. The rotatable carrier is provided with a plurality of depressions therein which are engageable by certain of the resilient contacts to constitute detent means releasably retaining the rotatable contact selectively in alternative operative positions of the switch.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Tomlinson Jan. 7, 1975  LEVER MOUNTED SWITCH WITH OUTER 3,255,319 6/1966 Paine 200/166 so ROTATING COVER 3,511,943 5/l970 Kibler...
3,603,748 9/l97l Cr er 200/157  Inventor: Neil Tomlinson, Burnley, England y  Assignee: Lucas Electric Company Limited, primary Examiner Robert K. Schaefer Brmmgham Great Bmam Assistant Examiner-Gerald P. Tolin 22 i May 3 1973 Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Hill, Gross, Simpson. Van  A l N 357 003 Santen, Steadman, Chiara & Simpson  Foreign Application Priority Data S C May 6, 1972 Great Britain 21237/72 An electrical Switch, particularly a lever Stalk mounted switch, includes a body supporting a plurality  Cl gg g i gg of resilient contacts. A rotatable contact is selectively  I t Cl 1 9/06 Holh 13/08 engageable with the resilient contacts and is mounted 58 200/4 6154 155 157 on a rotatable carrier. The rotatable carrier is pro- 1 3 7 22 H R vided with a plurality of depressions therein which are 200/153 engageable by certain of the resilient contacts to con- 16 291 stitute detent means releasably retaining the rotatable 56] References Cited contact selectively in alternative operative positions of the switch. UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,238.3 l5 3/1966 Deasy 200/4 2 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures LEVER MOUNTED SWITCH WITH OUTER ROTATING COVER This invention relates to electrical switches, particularly but not exclusively, lever stalk mounted switches for use in motor vehicles.
It is an object of the present invention to provide an electrical switch which is of compact form.
According to the present invention, there is provided an electrical switch comprising a body, a plurality of resilient contacts carried by the body, a rotatable contact for selective engagement with the resilient contacts upon rotation of the rotatable contact, and a rotatable carrier mounting said rotatable contact, said rotatable carrier being provided with a plurality of depressions therein for engagement by the resilient contacts for releasably retaining the rotatable contact in positions in which it is engaged with selected resilient contacts.
Preferably, the carrier is mounted for rotation with a rotatable casing surrounding the resilient contacts and rotatable relative thereto.
Preferably also, the body of the switch is secured to a lever stalk and the casing also surrounds the body.
Most advantageously, each resilient contact extends in a direction which is substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the lever stalk, the resilient contacts being angularly spaced apart around said axis.
An embodiment of the present invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawing, in which:
FIG. 1 is a longitudinal sectional view of an electrical switch according to the present invention,
FIG. 2 is a cross-section on the line 22 of FIG. 1, and
FIG. 3 is a cross-section on the line 3-3 of FIG. 1.
The electrical switch which is for mounting on the steering column of a motor vehicle, comprises an electrically insulating body 5 mounted on the end of a hollow conductive lever stalk 6 containing four leads 7 (only two shown) to the electrical switch. The switch also includes a rotatable, electrically insulating casing 8 which surrounds the body 5 and is rotatable relative thereto about the axis of the lever stalk 6. The casing 8 is, furthermore, slidable axially relative to the body 5 and lever stalk 6.
The body 5 has recesses 9 therein within which are mounted five resilient contacts 10, ll, l2, l3 and 14 (see especially FIGS. 2 and 3). The resilient contacts 10, ll, l2, l3 and 14 each extend in a direction which is substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the lever stalk 6. As can be seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, the contacts 10, ll, l2, l3 and 14 are angularly spaced about the longitudinal axis of the lever stalk 6. The end of the casing 8 remote from the lever stalk 6 is constituted by a snap-fit cap 15 which has a contact carrier 16 integrally moulded therewith and extending into the casing 8 co-axially with respect to the lever stalk 6. Thus, the contact carrier 16 is rotatable with the casing 8. Disposed in a recess 17 in the contact carrier 16 is a generally U-shaped contact 18 forming a rotatable contact of the switch. The U-shaped contact 18 has one arm which extends flush with the outer surface of the rotatable contact carrier 16 for selective engagement with the resilient contacts 10, ll, 12 and 13, as will be described hereinafter.
The contacts 10 to 13 are electrically connected to respective leads 7 and the electrical connection to the contact 14 is made by way of the stalk 6 and an extended portion of the contact 14 which engages the stalk 6.
The outer surface of the contact carrier 16 is provided with a series of depressions 19 which extend parallel to the axis of rotation of the rotatable contact carrier 16 and are spaced angularly of the latter. A contact plate 20 is disposed within the casing 8 and is urged into abutment with the contact carrier 16 by means of a spring 21 which is lodged between the contact plate 20 and the body 5. This return spring 21 also urges the casing 8 into a position in which a shoulder 22 on the casing abuts against one end 23 of the body 5. Flexible contacts 10 and 14 are provided with integral interned contact lugs 24 and 25 respectively.
In use, the casing 8 can be rotated relative to the body 5 thus causing the contact carrier 16 and rotatable contact 18 to be rotated relative to the flexible contacts 10, ll, 12, 13 and 14 which are urged against the contact carrier 16 by reason of their inherent flexibility. It will be appreciated that rotation of the casing 8 causes the rotatable contact 18 to bridge between selected contacts 10, ll, 12 and 13, for example, in the position shown in FIG. 3, the rotatable contact 18 bridges contact 10 and contact 11. Furthermore, in the position shown in FIG. 3, contacts l2, l3 and 14 are resiliently engaged in three of the depressions 19 in the contact carrier 16 and thus serve to retain releasably the contact carrier 16 in the position shown. It will be manifest that rotation of the rotatable contact carrier 16, for example to bridge contacts 10 and 12, will cause contacts 11, 13 and 14 to be lodged in other depressions 19 in the surface of the contact carrier 16. Thus, the contact carrier 16 is retained in another of its positions by the flexible contacts ll, 13 and 14.
When the casing 8 is manually urged to the right as shown in FIG. 1 relative to the body 5 and against the action of the spring 21, the contact plate 20 is brought into contact with the contact lugs 24 and 25 on the contacts 10 and 14 respectively, thereby bridging the latter and serving to complete another switching circuit. Upon release of the casing 8, the spring 21 urges the casing 8 to the left in FIG. 1 thereby breaking the connection between contact lugs 24 and 25. It will be manifest that the arm of the U-shaped rotatable contact 18 which lies on the outside of the contact carrier 16 is extended in a direction parallel to the sliding axis of the casing 8 so that the rotatable contact 18 can continue to bridge two of the flexible contacts when the casing 8 is manually depressed.
In the present embodiment, the electrical switch is intended for use in the control of a motor vehicle windscreen wiper and screen washer assembly and contact 10 serves as a feed contact, contact 11 is arranged in a fast speed circuit for the windscreen wiper motor. Contact 12 is connected in a slow speed circuit for the wiper motor whilst contact 13 is connected into the limit switch circuit of the wiper motor whereby the wipers can be parked off the windscreen. The contact 14 is connected into a screen washer circuit.
In a further embodiment (not shown), the electrical switch is employed for controlling side lights, headlights and a horn of a motor vehicle. In this embodiment, contact 11 is omitted, contact 14 is shortened so that it no longer extends to a position in which it engages the lever stalk 6 and instead is connected to respective lead 7. Contact 10 remains the feed contact, contact 12 is arranged inthe side lights circuit, contact 13 is arranged in the head lights circuit and contact 14 is arranged in the horn circuit. The rotatable contact 18 is extended further around the carrier 16 so that it can bridge feed contact 10, sidelights contact 12 and headlights contact 13 whereby the sidelights remain lit when the headlights are lit upon rotation of the casing 8. Axial movement of the casing against the action of spring 21 causes the horn to be operated.
In a modification of either switch described above the cap 15 and contact carrier 16 are formed as separate parts and are secured together during manufacture in any convenient manner. This modification affords the possibility of producing simply and cheaply switches having the same contact carrier arrangement but different external cap 15 to suit the styling requirements of different applications, switches which are externally similar but having different contact arrangements, and combinations of both features.
It is considered that any of the electrical switches as described above can be made of compact shape due to the fact that a separate detent mechanism is not provided for retaining the switch in its various operating positions, the detent mechanism being provided by the flexible fixed contacts and the depressions in the contact carrier.
1. An actuating lever mounted electrical switch comprising an actuating lever, a body, means mounting said body on said actuating lever at one end thereof, a plurality of non-rotatable resilient contact elements carried by the body, and extending generally parallel to and spaced around an axis coextensive with the longitudinal axis of the actuating lever, a rotatable electric contact, means mounting said rotatable electric contact for rotation about said axis coextensive with said longitudinal axis, said rotatable electric contact being selectively engageable with said non-rotatable contact elements upon rotation of said rotatable contact, and, said means mounting said rotatable contact including a rotatable contact carrier, said rotatable contact carrier being provided with a plurality of depressions therein and said depressions being in releasable engagement with said resilient non-rotatable contact elements whereby said rotatable contact can be retained in selected positions relative to said body in engagement with selected fixed contacts, means mounting said carrier for rotation comprising a rotatable casing surrounding said non-rotatable resilient contact elements and said rotatable contacts, and mounted on said lever for rotation relative to said nonrotatable resilient contact elements.
2. An actuating lever mounted electrical switch as claimed in claim 1 wherein said casing also surrounds said body.