US 3861496 A
A lowering device for lowering a person or load from a substantial height, as from the upper stories of a high building, including a housing containing a substantially U-shaped frame having a hole through each leg near its end to receive a fixed shaft about which is rotatably disposed a spool carrying a descent line, said spool having cam surfaces and connecting means attached pivotally to pistons located in cylindrical chambers inside the base of said frame whereby a working fluid is forced from one chamber to another through an internal passageway which contains an adjustable restricting means. On applying a load to the descent line, the spool is rotated and the pistons reciprocate, pumping the working fluid from one chamber to the other. The restricting means impedes the flow of fluid, thereby exerting a braking force on rotation of the spool and allowing the load to descend at a safe, pre-determined rate or at a rate determined by the operator.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Hoover Jan. 21, 1975 FIRE ESCAPE DEVICE  Inventor: Leon J. Hoover, P.O. Box 302,  ABSTRACT Gonzlas, La. 70737 A lowering device for lowering a person or load from  Filed Dec 10 1973 a substantial height, as from the upper stories of a high building, including a housing containing a substantially  Appl. No.: 423,240 U-shaped frame having a hole through each leg near its end to receive a fixed shaft about which is rotatably disposed a spool carrying a descent line, said spool 182/5 i ig having cam surfaces and connecting means attached  Field 75 5 6 7 pivotally to pistons located in cylindrical chambers in- "25458 side the base of said frame whereby a working fluid is forced from one chamber to another through an inter-  References Cited nal passageway which contains an adjustable restricting means. On applying a load to the descent line, the UNITED STATES PATENTS spool is rotated and the pistons reciprocate, pumping 278,807 6/1883 Marskey 254/158 the working fluid from one chamber to the other. The 537,383 4/1395 254/158 restricting means impedes the flow of fluid, thereby 859266 7/1907 Ulery 254,158 exerting a braking force on rotation of the spool and 2,703,2l9 3/1955 Henshaw allowing the load to descend at a Safe pre determined Primary Examiner-Reinaldo P. Machado Attorney, Agent, or Firm-James M. Pelton rate or at a rate determined by the operator.
7 Claims, 13 Drawing Figures PATENTEB JANZI I975 saw 2 or 5 PATENTEB JAN 21 I975 SHEET 3 or 5 FIRE ESCAPE DEVICE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a lowering device. Particularly, the invention relates to an apparatus or mechanism for lowering a person or load from a substantial height, More particularly, the invention relates to a fire escape device whereby whereby a person can lower himself or be lowered from a high structure, particularly a high-rise building to safety. Also the invention relates to a device or apparatus useful to emergency or rescue personnel, to steeplejacks, mountain climbers, painters, window or building cleaners and the like for gaining access to otherwise inaccessible areas, as a safety line or as a means to hold a position while suspended from a height with complete freedom to use hands and/or legs.
The greatest fear associated with high-rise buildings has been the fear of fire and the inability of occupants to escape from the upper stories. Previously, outside fire escapes have been attached to the side of buildings. However, such permanent structures have several disadvantages. They detract from the appearance of the building, the building is accessible to persons from the outside and installation and maintenance of such permanent structures is expensive. Ladders are insufficient, since they do not reach a sufficient height to protect those on the upper stories of high-rise buildings. Other proposed fire escape devices include tortuous path rope-brake devices. These devices comprise a lifeline or rope which is tortuously entwined through a solid frame. The frame is controlled by the person descending. Such rope brake devices require a conscious user with some training, experience and skill to operate safely. Thus, they would not be suitable for some of the purposes of the present invention.
Other means of accomplishing a similar purpose of the present invention have been various liquid brake devices in which the rotation of a pulleyor reelcarrying line is retarded by forcing a piston to work against a liquid contained in a cylinder. Such devices in the past have had complex mechanical linkages which are subject to mechanical failures and which can be easily vandalized when permanently mounted to pre vent their operation.
Typical of prior art liquid brake devices is Buckelew, U.S. Pat. No. 537,383, disclosing a continuous line over a pulley which is braked by mechanical linkage from the pulley shaft to a piston in a liquid filled cylinder. The piston has a hole in it for passage of liquid as the piston moves. Bailey, U.S. Pat. No. 1,122,566, describes a line-carrying reel geared to a crank shaft operating pistons in pneumatic cylinders. Berg, U.S. Pat. No. 1,203,467, teaches a reel-carrying line attached through an indirect linkage to a piston contained in a liquid-filled cylinder in which the piston has a small hole for passage of the liquid. Shearer, U.S. Pat. No. 1,734,833, shows a complex mechanical linkage of a belt-carrying reel attached to a piston in which the piston drives fluid from one chamber to another through an adjustable valve. In Shearer, the device contains two belts, one of which is wound up as the other is unwound. Schoene, U.S. Pat. No. 2,091,418, shows a fixed device in which the line-carrying reel is indirectly connected to pistons forcing fluid through an adjustable valve. I'lenshaw, U.S. Pat. No. 2,703,219, shows an external reel attached to a cam shaft which reciprocates piston in a casing forcing a working fluid through an internal passageway. More recently, Hynes, U.S. Pat. No. 3,760,901, teaches a hermetically sealed gear pump attached to a line-carrying reel in which the pump circulates fluid through a control valve from the discharge to the suction side of the gear pump as the reel unwinds.
Such devices suffer from the disadvantages of having complex, indirect mechanical linkages attached to the line-carrying reel and either force the liquid through a hole in the piston in which case the devices are not adjustable to the load being carried or the adjusting mechanism is in a fixed location or removed from the user. In many instances the mechanisms are open and contain moving parts which could foul in the line or a persons hands or clothing. Many of the devices are incapable of being used by unconscious persons and require direct, positive control. Also, in many cases, the devices must remain in a fixed location and are not subject to adjustment by the user. Therefore, there remains a need for an improved liquid brake fire escape means.
The present invention has the advantages of a selfcontained, light-weight, portable unit which is capable of mounting to a fixed location and being used to lower unconscious persons. The mechanism is simpler than prior art devices and represents an improved liquid brake fire escape device.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is a lowering device useful as a fire escape means comprising a substantially U- shaped frame having a hole through each leg near its end and in the base of said frame two cylindrical chambers with major axes parallel to said legs, said chambers opening to the inside of said frame and adjacent said legs, said chambers being connected by an internal passageway and containing a working fluid; a shaft fixedly attached between the legs of said frame through the hole near the end of each leg; a spool rotatably disposed about said shaft, said spool having a line-carrying core and two end flanges, said flanges having eccentric cam surfaces formed on each outer side; a reciprocable piston in each of said chambers; connecting means rotatably disposed about each cam surface at one end and pivotally attached at the other end to a piston, whereby rotation of said spool reciprocates said pistons; and restricting means in said internal passageway whereby rotation of said spool in response to a load applied to the attached line reciprocates said pistons forcing the working fluid from one chamber to another through said restricting means, thus exerting a braking force to regulate rotation of said spool and allowing the load to descend at a safe rate. Preferably, the lowering mechanism is encased in a housing which can be portable or mounted at a suitable location. The housing has upper and lower compartments containing an anchor line, belt or cable and a harness attached to the descent line. Therefore, the present invention is an improved liquid brake lowering device suitable for use as a fire escape mechanism containing a frame to which is attached a spool or reel containing a line or cable, the descent of which is slowed by the rotation of the spool exerting pressure on a working fluid forcing the fluid from one chamber to another through a restricting means, the improvement comprising in combination a substantially U-shaped frame having two cylindrical chambers with major axes parallel to said legs and opening inside said frame adjacent the legs and having a fixed shaft between the legs of the frame about which is disposed a rotatable cam spool, said spool having cam surfaces formed on its outer sides, said cam surfaces being rotatably engaged with connecting means directly and pivotably connected to pistons located in the chambers inside the base of said frame, said chambers being connected by an internal passageway in said frame and containing a working fluid, said passageway having a restricting means whereby applying a load to the line causes the spool to rotate and reciprocate the pistons which force the working fluid from one chamber to the other through the restricting means. The force necessary to overcome the restricting means slows the piston travel and hence the rotation of the spool, thus slowing the descent of the users to a safe rate.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the lowering device.
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the lowering device shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 2a is a detailed cross-sectional view of the piston shown in FIG. 2.
FIG. 2b is a bottom view of the piston.
FIG. 3 is a detailed perspective view of the restricting means.
FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of a restricting means adjustable by the user.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the housing.
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the central portion of the housing.
FIG. 7 is a cross-section of the housing taken with the lowering device of FIG. I mounted therein.
FIG. 8 is an end view of the cam spool showing the cam surface and cable retaining hole.
FIG. 9 illustrates the use of the lowering device and housing of the invention.
FIG. 10 illustrates the mounting of the encased device near a window on the inside of a building.
FIG. 11 illustrates the use of an alternative to the harness shown in FIG. 9 or use of the device by an unconscious person.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The lowering device of this invention will be more readily understood with reference to the accompanying drawings. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the lowering device of this invention consists of a substantially U- shaped frame 1 to which a cam spool 2 is rotatably attached across a fixed shaft 4. The cam spool 2 rides on cam spool bearing 3 and has a cam surface 48 on each side of the cam spool 2. On each side of cam spool 2, cam surface 48 is rotatably engaged by means of connecting rod bearing 7 to connecting rod 5. Each connecting rod 5 is pivotally connected through wrist pin bushing 21 and wrist pin 10 to a piston 6. The two cam surfaces 48 are eccentric to the major central axis of cam spool 2 and rotate 180 out of phase with respect to each other. Thus, on rotation of cam spool 2, cam surfaces 48 operate connecting rods 5 and, hence, reciprocate pistons 6 in alternate fashion in chambers 33, which open adjacent to the legs of frame I. The pistons 6 drive a working fluid through internal passageway which is restricted by restriction means, such as pre-set needle valve 8 or manually adjustable needle valve 39 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, respectively. The frame 1 has mounting bolts 12 which are used to firmly fix the frame inside housing 24 as shown in FIG. 7. Shaft 4 is retained by its head at one end and by snap ring 15 at the other end. The frame 1 also has mounting bolt holes 23 for auxiliary mounting of the frame I in the housing 24 or other fixed locations as desired. The cable retainer hole 22 is used to attach the line or cable 14 (see FIG. 7) to cam spool 2 by means of welding a metal cable to a retainer ball or knotting a rope or similar means. Frame 1 also has anchor cable centering slot 47 to firmly retain the anchoring cable 50 and prevent it from sliding to one side of the frame 1. Spacing washers or shims 46 provide clearance for the ends of the shaft 4 inside the housing 24 when mounted therein.
Particularly with respect to FIG. 2 showing a crosssection of the lowering device, the method of operation is more clearly illustrated. Again, frame 1 is substantially U-shaped and has two chambers 33 containing the working fluid which is forced from one chamber to the other by pistons 6 through internal passageway 20. A filling hole 35 for pouring the working fluid into the chambers 33 of frame 1 is provided. Alternately, filling hole 35 could be omitted and fluid added through needle valve hole 52. However, by inserting the pre-set needle valve 8 or manually adjustable needle valve 39 in needle valve hole 52 and adding the working fluid through fllling hole 35 air is omitted from the chambers 33 and internal passageway 20. Pistons 6 have slots 55 for O-rings 16. Also shown in piston 6 is wrist pin 10 and wrist pin bushing 21. Wrist pin snap rings 53 prevent the wrist pin from lateral movement and prevent the wrist pin 10 from scoring the sides of chambers 33, as more clearly shown in FIG. 2a. The cam spool 2 is prevented from lateral movement by thrust washer 9 at each end. Shaft 4 does not rotate and is fixed in position by inserting socket head screw 18 into the fillet of the head of shaft 4.
FIG. 2a is a detailed cross-sectional view of the piston 6 and a preferred means of connection with connecting rod 5. As described above, piston 6 has two O-ring slots 55 for seating and sealing the working fluid in the chambers 33 with O-rings 16. Also, wrist pin 10 is inserted through the hole in piston 6 and the end of con necting rod 5 and pivots on wrist pin bushing 21. Wrist pin snap rings 53 prevent lateral movement of the wrist pin and thus prevent scoring of the walls of chambers 33.
A detailed bottom view of piston 6 is shown in FIG. 2b. The elongated slot in the bottom of piston 6 allows free pivoting of connecting rod 5 without striking the side wall of the piston 6.
FIG. 3 shows a detailed perspective view of a restriction means in the form of a pre-set needle valve 8. The pre-set needle valve 8 is inserted in the frame 1 and set at a pre-determined position by the manufacturer. For adjustment purposes, a slot is provided in the head of pre-set needle valve 8. When covered by a casing or housing 24 the needle valve setting cannot be adjusted by the user. O-rings or seals are used to seal the working fluid in the frame and are seated in O-ring slots 40l FIG. 4 shows detailed exploded perspective view of an adjustable form of restriction means in the form of a manually adjustable needle valve 39 having a knurled knob 37 attached to the head of manually adjustable needle valve 39 and fitted with set screw 38 which rests in flat 54 on the shank of the manually adjustable needle valve 39. Friction wave washer 36 is used to bind and create friction to hold manually adjustable needle valve 39 at a fixed position. This maintains the setting of the valve allowing the operator to have both hands free, if desired. As in the case of the pre-set needle valve 8 the shank of the adjustable needle valve has 0- ring slots 40 for seating the sealing O-rings. The knob 37 has a circular slot 57 which fits over stop on housing 24 and prevents the manually adjustable needle valve 59 from being turned far enough to allow free fall.
The lowering device is made ready for use as described in the following steps. A line or cable 14 is fixed to the cam spool 2 through cable retainer hole 22 and wound on the core 56. Then the restricting means, either pre-set needle valve 8 or manually adjustable needle valve 39 is inserted into needle valve hole 52 and screwed into place such that when seated no flow of fluid can take place. Then a suitable working fluid such as brake fluid, hydraulic fluid or the like, is poured through filling hold and filler plug 34 is screwed into place closing and sealing filling hole 35. The method of filling is not critical and can easily be accomplished, but as much air as possible should be excluded from the chambers 33 and the internal passageway 20. Then an anchor belt or cable 50 is attached around the base of the frame 1 over the anchor cable centering slot 47 and a harness 49 is attached to the end of line or cable 14. All of these preparations should be carried out prior to any emergency and the assembly checked periodically in accord with general safety practice.
Although the lowering device can be used by itself, it is convenient and practical to enclose the lowering device in a suitable enclosure. Such can be anything from a plastic dust bag to a more preferred carrying case. Thus, it is a preferred embodiment of this invention to provide a lowering device comprising in combination (a a housing containing a substantially U- shaped frame having a rotating spool between the legs of said U-shaped frame and liquid braking means in the base of said frame connected to said spool whereby the speed of rotation of said spool is regulated; (b an upper compartment releasably attached to said housing containing an anchor line attached to said U-shaped frame at one end and having a releasable hook means for securely fastening said frame to a solid protuberance; and (c a lower compartment releasably attached to said housing and containing a harness, said harness fitting about the body and being attached to a descent line or cable wound about said spool FIG. 5 illustrates the lowering device of this invention as it would appear in a self-contained carrying case. The casing is comprised of housing 24 which has slot 27 opening on each side and two mounting bolt holes 28 in each side for mounting frame 1. As shown in the figure, the manually adjustable needle valve 39 with knob 37 is in place, as are mounting bolts 12. The housing has upper and lower latch hooks 31 and 32 for releasably attaching the upper compartment 42 and lower compartment 25 by means of upper and lower housing latches 43 and 44. Handle 41 is attached to upper compartment 42 for convenience is carrying the assembled device.
FIG. 6 shows a cross-sectional view of housing 24 which has on each side several holes. There are adjustable needle valve holes 29 on each side for right hand or left hand operation through which manually adjustable needle valve 39 protrudes, mounting bolt holes 28 for attaching frame 1 to housing 24. Harness guide 45 runs from each harness slot 27 along the back wall of housing 24 for strapping the device to the user, if desired. Two lugs or cable retention stops 26 are provided also on the back of housing 24 which are in register with the cam spool 2 and prevent the cable 14 from slipping off and fouling in the mechanism. Beside each needle valve hole 29 there is an adjustable needle valve 30 which may be a pin or post about which the circular slot 57 in knurled knob 37 operates. Stop 30 prevents the needle valve from being completely withdrawn and allowing the device to free fall. Upper and lower compartment latch hooks 31 and 32 are also shown.
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of housing 24 with the front of the housing removed and showing the lowering device mounted in housing 24. Thus, the general relation of the frame 1 and housing 24 is apparent.
FIG. 8 is a detail end view of cam spool 2 showing shaft 4 and cam surface 48. Cable retainer hole 22 is also more clearly illustrated.
FIG. 9 shows the use of the lowering device of this invention, for example, by emergency or rescue personnel in which harness 49 is strapped around the body and attached to housing 24 through harness slot 27. Cable 14 is attached to a fixed point above and unwound from the cam spool 2. The manually adjustable needle valve 39 and knob 37 at the side of housing 24 is easily reached and adjustable by the user.
FIG. 10 shows the placement of the fire escape assembly 58 on the inside of a window casing. At least one or several of the devices can be conveniently attached inside the window casing and solidly fixed to the wall. Thus, it is only necessary to remove the lower compartment 25 and attach the harness 49 to a person to be lowered out the window.
FIG. 11 shows the use ofa portable device, for example, by travelers in hotels for lowering a person out of a window in which anchor belt or cable 50 is attached to a fixed object, such as bedpost, door knob, steam pipe, etc. Housing 24 containing the lowering device remains in the room and a person is lowered out the window by a line or cable 14 using either harness 49 (see FIG. 9) or wrist bands 51. The harness 49 and wrist bands 51 are conventional and wide variation of these items will be readily understood by those skilled in the art.
The line can be steel cable, synthetic fiber rope, such as polypropylene, polyethylene or made of web material, as can the anchor cable or belt. The material of construction of the harness, anchor cable and line can be varied to suit the individual user or according to condition of service. Thus, they can be resistant to fire, corrosion, weathering, heat, etc.
The wide utility of the lowering device of this invention can readily be understood as applicable to escape from high buildings or structures, such as oil drilling platforms, towers and derricks, or for use by rescue personnel as in lowering from helicopters by firemen, or for use in gaining access to otherwise inaccessible areas, for example, by window washers, steeplejacks, painters and the like.
Having described the invention, it is clear that variations of the lowering device and the combination of lowering device and the housing can be readily envisioned by those skilled in the art. Therefore, it is desired that the invention be limited only by the scope of the following claims.
What is claimed is: 1. A lowering device useful as a fire escape means comprising a. a substantially U-shaped frame having a hole through each leg near its end and in the base of said frame two cylindrical chambers with major axes parallel to said legs, said chambers opening to the inside of said frame and adjacent said legs, said chambers being connected by an internal passageway and containing a working fluid; b. a shaft fixedly attached between the legs of said frame through the hole near the end of each leg; 0. a spool rotatably disposed about said shaft, said spool having a line-carrying core and two end flanges, said flanges having eccentric cam surfaces formed on each outer side; (1. a reciprocable piston in each of said chambers; e. connecting means rotatably disposed about each cam surface at one end and pivotally attached at the other end to a piston, whereby rotation of said spool reciprocates said pistons; and I f. restricting means in said internal passageway whereby rotation of said spool in response to a load applied to the attached line reciprocates said pistons forcing the working fluid from one chamber to another through said restricting means, thus exerting a braking force to regulate rotation of said spool and allowing the load to descend at a safe rate.
2. A device of claim 1 in which said restricting means is adjustable.
3. A device of claim 1 in which said restricting means is a needle valve.
4. A device of claim 1 in which said connecting means is a connecting rod.
5. A device of claim I in which said shaft is removable so that after use a new spool can be inserted.
6. A device of claim 1 in which said U-shaped frame is mounted in a housing having a harness belt guide and line stopping lugs in the back wall of said housing to prevent the line from fouling.
7. A device of claim 1 in which U-shaped frame is mounted in a housing having a harness belt guide and line stopping lugs on the back wall in register with said spool to prevent the line from fouling, an upper compartment releasably attached to said housing containing an anchor line attached to said U-shaped frame at one end for securing at a fixed point with the other end, and a lower compartment releasably attached to said housing containing a harness attached to the spool by means of a descent line.
*zg gg UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 5, 9 Dated January 2 975 Inventor(s) Leon J Hoover It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
i reads "#01", should read IO Col. 5, 1 'hold", should read hole Col. 5, line 50, C01. 5, line @2, reads "is",
001. 4, line 62 line 21, reads after "spool", insert should read in v Col. 8, line 17, after ,"which", insert sa1d.
Column 6 line 9, after "valve" second occurrence, stop should be inserted.
Signed and sealed this 8th day of April 1975.
C. I-IARSHALL DANN RUTH C. I-IASON Commissioner of Patents Attesting Officer and Trademarks