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Publication numberUS3874321 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 1, 1975
Filing dateMay 1, 1972
Priority dateMay 1, 1972
Publication numberUS 3874321 A, US 3874321A, US-A-3874321, US3874321 A, US3874321A
InventorsJoseph E Smith
Original AssigneeWolverine Pentronix
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Boat steering and reversing system
US 3874321 A
Abstract
A system for controlling the forward and reverse operation of a boat having a propulsion unit, which unit is mounted on the boat in an appropriate location and rotated to provide steering of the boat. Included is a mechanism for providing a rapid turning of the propulsion unit through a turn of approximately one-half circle to redirect the force of propulsion forwardly and thus provide reverse drive of the boat. The mechanism includes an actuation system connected to the propulsion unit itself for applying a control to it and rapidly reorienting it and changing its thrust direction. The system is shown with several different embodiments of both mechanical and fluid operated mechanisms to provide the rapid turning of the propulsion unit independently of the normal steering action.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Smith Apr. 1,1975

[ BOAT STEERING AND REVERSING SYSTEM [52] US. Cl 115/35, 115/18, 115/12 R [51] Int. Cl B63h 5/12 [58] Field of Search 115/35, 34, 17, 18, 159, 115/154, 150, 146, 144, 145, 153; 74/478,

74/480, 400, 665 F, 665 G, 665 GA,

[56] References Cited 2,832,306 4/1958 Hanley 115/12 R 3,094,967 6/1963 Willis, Jr 115/35 3,148,657 9/1964 Homing 115/34 R 3,738,306 6/1973 Pinkerton 115/35 Primary Examiner-Trygve M. Blix Assistant Examiner-Charles E. Frankfort Attorney, Agent, or Firml-lauke Gifford Patalidis & Dumont [5 7] ABSTRACT A system for controlling the forward and reverse operation of a boat having a propulsion unit, which unit is mounted on the boat in an appropriate location and rotated to provide steering of the boat. Included is a mechanism for providing a rapid turning of the propulsion unit through a turn of approximately one-half circle to redirect the force of propulsion forwardly and thus provide reverse drive of the boat. The mechanism includes an actuation system connected to the propulsion unit itself for applying a control to it and rapidly reorienting it and changing its thrust direction. The system is shown with several different embodiments of both mechanical and fluid operated mechanisms to provide the rapid turning of the propulsion unit independently of the normal steering action.

8 Claims, 16 Drawing Figures PATENTEDAPR 1 I915 SHEET 8 BF 7 BOAT STEERING AND REVERSING SYSTEM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a steering and reversing system for boats or other watercraft in which there is provided a propulsion unit adapted to provide a variable magnitude thrust force rearwardly of the boat to move it in a forward direction. The invention is particularly suitable for a propulsion system in which the propulsion unit is rotatable about an upstanding and substantially vertical axis to provide for a controllable steering of the boat without requirement for a separate rudder or complicated steering mechanism. The propulsion unit itself may incorporate a modified rubber construction when a rudder effect is desired. The major direc tional control and steering control are through selec tive directing of the thrust force.

It will be seen that the present invention in its several different embodiments may be equally well applied to systems in which the engine driving the propulsion unit is either inboard or outboard mounted and in which an internal combustion engine and a propeller are included for providing the actual thrust force. Alternately, the propulsion unit may include a hydraulic motor driven by gas fuel, electrical motor, turbine en gine, Wankle type engine or any similar drive source. The invention is also applicable to a propulsion system for a boat in which the propulsion unit includes a jet thrust means having a discharge orifice through which fluid can be discharged under pressure to propel the boat by the reaction forces provided. In either case, the changeover as between forward and reverse operation of the boat is achieved through inclusion of a special rapid reversing mechanism which actuates and turns the propulsion unit itself to reorient thrust direction.

The prior art related to propulsion systems for watercraft shows a variety of drive systems in which there is included a propulsion unit generally incorporating a propeller shaft and propeller and sometimes combined with a modified rudder or fin. The entire propulsion unit is mounted in a manner freely rotatable for steering. An example of this basic type of mechanism is shown and described in US. Pat. No. 1,693,590. U.S. Pat. No. 1,866,482 shows a similar arrangement, but one in which the motor unit is fixed to the boat hull and in which the steering is achieved by rotating the boat propeller about a vertical axis through a cable and bevel gear arrangement. US. Pat. No. 1,824,213 makes a further showing of an outboard motor again having the propeller housing rotatably controlled relative to the motor housing for steering the boat. The steering action is provided by a sector gear and rack mechanism. Other mechanisms are known like that disclosed in US. Pat. No. 1,774,956 in which the propulsion and steering unit includes a turret-like structure which encloses the drive shaft and the lowermost projecting portion of the propulsion unit. For normal steering, the turret assembly is rotated around a substantially vertical axis through a gear coupled to the steering wheel and in mesh with the ring gear mounted on the turret structure.

It is also known that it is possible to use the rotation of the propulsion unit to carry it through a turn of essentially 180 in order to reverse the direction of the thrust force and hence the direction in which the boat is driven. Mechanisms are known which are however directly operable through the steering wheel and normal steering linkage. The extent of turning is not precisely controllable by the operator. Also, the changeover between forward and reverse direction cannot be carried out rapidly in the manner in which the present invention is capable of operating. Examples of mechanisms of this type are shown in US. Pat. No. 3,397,638, which uses the manual turning of the steering cable itself to provide for the rapid turning. It will be realized that these arrangements are subject to disadvantages since the rotatable propulsion unit itself is often not visible to the operator and his observation of the steering wheel itself does not always clearly indicate the exact alignment into which the propulsion unit has been directed.

Other patents have steering systems which make only general reference to a rapid turning of the propulsion unit through the turn. But while they refer, for example as in US. Pat. No. 2,834,313, for providing a quick rotation, there is made no actual disclosure of an actual mechanism or means whereby such turning may be achieved.

The solutions taught by the prior art have been insufficient and totally inadequate to meet the problem of providing a low cost propulsion system for boats in which it is possible without the use of an expensive and complicated reversing gear system to make a quick changeover between forward and reverse operation of the boat.

The present invention has addressed itself to the problem of providing a mechanism for rotating the propulsion unit about a vertical axis by means of the steering mechanism for normal steering and combining with this arrangement a reversing changeover control capable of providing almost instantaneous rotation of the propulsion unit 180 from its original position.

One further embodiment of the present invention combines a throttle control for causing the engine to idle during the reverse changeover. An additional embodiment of the present invention includes a clutch control for disengaging the propeller from the engine drive during the exceedingly brief interval when the reverse changeover is occurring.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION The present invention relates to a rapid reversal mechanism for reorienting a boat propulsion unit in which the reversing mechanism is operable independently of the normal steering system without requiring a complicated and expensive reverse drive gear mechanism. The present invention is so designed so as to make the reversal rapid enough to minimize disturbing influences from side torque which would otherwise be encountered while the 180 reversing turn is being made. In addition, there is provided a separate control operable through the engine throttle for further minimizing of the side thrust forces generated during the reversal operation. A further interlock is incorporated between the manual controls and the propulsion unit so that during the rapid turning of the propulsion unit there may be provided a disconnect of the drive provided from the engine and drive shaft to the propulsion unit. The mechanism, as it is provided according to the present invention, is one which may be readily controlled by the boat operator in a rapid and effectual manner to control change of the boat direction and thus to improve boat control, particularly during docking procedures when reversing must be readily controlled to provide the required braking action to the boat.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The present invention will be understood by reference to the accompanying specification and by reference to the accompanying drawings wherein like reference characters are used to refer to like parts as they appear throughout the several views and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a generalized type of propulsion unit of the propeller type designed for use in connection with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic, partly diagrammatic representation of a manual steering and control system adapted for use in connection with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematic, partly diagrammatic representation of an alternate manual steering and control system also designed for use with the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a partly sectional view with parts broken away showing a propulsion unit as it is mounted on the rear transom of the boat, and further showing the several cable and gear connections used to interconnect the manual control system of FIG. 2 to the propulsion unit;

FIG. 5 is a view substantially similar to that of FIG. 4 showing a somewhat different propulsion unit adaptable to be connected to and operated by the manual control system of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 shows a top plan view partly in section of one embodiment of the present invention using a rotary, fluid operated motor as the actuator for rapid turning;

FIG. 7 is an elevational view of the device of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view showing an additional embodiment of the present invention in which the changeover between forward and reverse boat operation is provided by a fluid operated cylinder;

FIG. 9 is a further embodiment of the present invention employing a sector gear rotatable about one of two differentcenters for reversal control;

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention in which a combination of levers and cables is included to provide the rapid turning of the propulsion unit;

FIG. 11 is a plan view showing a further embodiment of the present invention incorporating a reversing toggle and sector gear connection.

FIG. 12 is a plan view showing a further embodiment of the present invention employing a pivot arm mechanism for reversal;

FIG. 13 is a top plan view partly in section showing a further embodiment of the present invention in which the propulsion unit is of the dual propulsion unit type including a pair ofjet thrust devices;

FIG. 14 is a plan view partly in section showing a still further embodiment of the present invention employing a worm gear and a rack arrangement for controlling forward and reverse operation;

FIG. 15 is a plan view partly in section showing an additional embodiment similar to the rack and worm gear arrangement of FIG. 14 but further including a sector gear for reverse or steering control; and

FIG. 16 is a view of a reversing control system essentially like that of FIG. 15 but with an interchange of steering and reverse cable connections to provide a different mode of operation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION FIG. 1 shows a propulsion unit 22 which is rotatable through substantially a full circle turn in the directions and in the plane indicated by arrows. The propeller 24 is suitably bladed to provide a thrust force rearwardly of the boat when the propulsion unit 22 and the engine (not shown but connected at its upper end) are mounted in position on the boat transom. The detail of the internal construction of the drive train for the propeller 24 and driving engagement manner in which the propulsion unit 22 is mounted on the boat will be better shown in connection with FIGS. 4 and 5 hereinafter. The actual rotation of the propulsion unit 22 is provided by rotation of the steering tube 26. The drive transmitted from the engine to the propeller 24 is passed through a vertically oriented drive shaft 28. The cover for the assembly is indicated by the numeral 30. Also included in the propulsion unit 22 and attached to its rearward and lower portion is a modified rudder 32 which adds to the stability of the steering control provided by the present invention. It is significant that the need for a separate, operator controlled rudder is eliminated by the apparatus constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows the manual control mechanism normally mounted forwardly on the boat and used to control both steering and reversing of the propulsion unit 22. The steering wheel 34 is shown fixed to the upper end of the steering shaft or column 36. The steering shaft 36 has a pinion gear 38 fixed at its lower end and having its teeth in engagement with a rack gear 40 to provide appropriate movement of the steering cable 42 which is connected to the right-hand end of the rack gear 40. The terminal portion of the steering cable 42 and its mode of attachment to the propulsion unit 22 will be clarified and shown in detail in the FIG. 4 drawing. Also included in the upper portion of FIG. 2 is a throttle control mechanism indicated by the numeral 44, which includes an upstanding lever 46. The lever 46 is shown in its forward on position in solid line and in its rearward neutral position in phantom line. The lever 46 is pivotally mounted on a transverse pin 47 and is connected through a link 48 and a cable 50 to an appropriate operating mechanism for a carburetor 52 used to control the fuel mixture supplied to the internal combustion engine 54, which engine is used to drive.

the propulsion unit 22. The cable 50 is guided through an appropriate conduit 51. The carburetor 52 and the.

water cooled type of internal combustion engine 54 used to drive both inboard and outboard motors are well known in the boat industry and the details of their construction will not be set forth here in the interest of brevity.

The manually operated controls which govern the forward or reverse operation of the propulsion unit 22 are provided by a reverse control lever 56 which is pivotally supported on a pin 57. The lever 56 is shown in solid line in its forward operating position and in phantom line in its reverse operating position. The motion of the reversing lever 56 is communicated through a suitable link 58 and a reversing cable 60 to the propulsion unit, as will be shown more completely in the drawing of FIG. 4 hereinafter. A second control cable 62 is included to provide a neutral operation of the engine. The neutral control cable 62 may be operated either separately or concurrently with the reversing lever 56. It will be apparent that the throttle and reverse/neutral controls can be combined into a single lever control. In the showing of FIG. 2, the reversing lever 56 also carries connected to its lower end a link 64 and the cable 62 to connect it to a neutral control gear in a manner that will be shown in full detail in FIG. 4 hereinafter.

The upper portion of FIG. 3 shows an arrangement for throttle control having the same elements as that illustrated in FIG. 2 in which idling operation of the engine is enabled through the throttle lever 46 and the associated mechanism connecting between the throttle lever 46 and the carburetor 52 of the engine 54. In a like manner to the FIG. 2 system, a steering wheel 34 and a steering column 36 are used to provide normal steering. The rotation of wheel 34 is transmitted through a pinion gear 38 and a rack gear 40 to effect longitudinal steering movement of the steering cable 42. In the control system of FIG. 3, the neutral operation is provided through a solenoid operated clutch instead of through a mechanically operated clutch. The reversing lever 56 is illustrated in solid line in its intermediate or neutral operating position. The left-hand phantom line showing is that of the lever 56 in its forward position, while the right-hand phantom position is that of the lever 56 in its reverse position. The clutch, the components of which will be illustrated in the FIG. 5 drawing, is actuated during the neutral position of the lever 56 through a cam operated switch 65. The switch 65 is operated by the cam 66 fixed near the central portion of the lever 56 in the position shown. A pair of electrical conductors and a DC source 67 are used to provide the electrical signal to operate the solenoid coil for the clutch 68 in the FIG. 5 embodiment. The reversing operation is controlled in a like manner to the FIG. 2 mechanism through the connecting link 58 and the reversing cable 60.

FIG. 4 shows the three different input cables from the control system of FIG. 2 used to control the steering, reversing, and intermediate neutral operation of the propulsion unit 22. The several cable inputs include those from steering cable 42, reversing cable 60 and neutral cable 62. The drawing of FIG. 4 further clarifies the internal construction and cooperative relationship of the more important operating parts of the propulsion unit 22. It will be understood that the propulsion unit 22 may be mounted forward or aft on the boat in either inboard or outboard fashion. Included at the upper end of the propulsion unit 22 is an engine 54, the full detail of which has been omitted from the drawings in the interest of simplifying this application. The engine 54, whether inboard or outboard mounted, is normally coupled to the upper end of a vertical drive shaft 28 to provide a variable speed rotative drive. At the lower end of the drive shaft 28, there is fixed a drive pinion 80 which has its teeth in mesh and in driving engagementk with the teeth of a drive gear 82 to provide a driving rotation to a propeller shaft 84 and then to the propeller 24 which is fixed to the right hand end of the shaft 84. The propeller 24 is bladed to provide a thrust force substantially rearwardly of the boat to provide its forward propulsion. Suitable upper and lower bearings 86 and 88 are positioned to provide rotative support to the shafts 28 and 84, respectively.

It will be seen that the propulsion unit 22 further includes a stationary enclosing structure 89. A mounting bracket 92 is used to mount the engine and the propulsion unit 22 to the rear of the boat and over the transom 94. The upper end of the bracket 92a is shown in the position in which it is clamped over the transom 94 and held in place by a lock bolt 95. At the bottom of the bracket 92 it will be seen that a bearing retainer 96 is fixed to provide rotative support to the lateral extending flange 93 of the propulsion unit 22. A locking bolt 98 is used in the manner shown to connect the bearing retainer 96 in place. The rotating movement of the propulsion unit 22 is provided by the selective rotation of the steering tube 26. The steering tube 26 has a pinion gear 100 fixed to it proximate its upper end. The selective rotation of the pinion gear 100 is provided by the rotative drive received from a sector gear 102. The rotation of the gears 102, 100 and the swiveling of the steering tube 26 and of the entire associated propulsion unit 22 are thus provided by the movement of its steering cable 42. With reference to FIG. 2, the normal steering is provided from the rotation of the steering wheel 34, the turning ofthe pinion gear 38, the movement of the rack gear 40 and the resultant dis placement of the steering cable 42. The intermediate connection between the steering cable 42 and the sector gear 102 is provided by a lever 103 which is connected at its right end on a pin. 104.

The neutral operation of the control lever 56 is communicated through the cable 62 which is connected at the left end of a left-hand arm 106 of a neutral sector gear 108. The sector gear 108 has its teeth in mesh with the teeth of a pinion gear 110 which is mounted at the upper end of a neutral operating tube 112. It will be seen that the neutral tube 112 is journalled inside the steering tube 26 and extends downwardly to where it terminates in a cam gear segment 114. The cam gear 114 has its teeth in mesh with the teeth of a neutral cam pinion 116. The cam pinion 116 is fixed at the upper end of a vertical rod 118 which carries a neutral cam 120 fixed to its lower end for operating a clutch 124. The clutch 124 is operatively connected to shaft 84 and is effective to engage or disengage gear 82 from gear 80 and thus control the transmission of drive to the propeller 24. The clutch 124 can slide axially relative to shaft 84 and the two are splined so they rotate together. The gear 82 is always engaged with gear 80 and free to turn around shaft 84. The clutch 124 is a dog-type clutch which engages into gear 82 by means of dogs. When disengaged, shaft 84 and clutch 124 do not rotate while gears 82 and 80 do. The clutch 124 is operable in accordance with the movement of the reversing lever 56 as shown in FIG. 2. Provision is thus made for disconnection of the drive from the engine 54 of the propulsion unit 22 during the changeover from forward to reverse operation.

The reverse operation is controlled through the rotation of the arm 126 through the operation of the reversing cable 60. Changeover between forward and reverse operation is thus achieved through a rapid turning of the gear 100 through the pivotal, counterclockwise movement of the arm 126 to place a different toothed portion of the gear 102 into mesh with the gear 100. This provides the necessary rapid turning of the steering tube 26 and the entire propulsion unit 22 through an arcuate sweep of about The teeth of the sector gear 102 remain in mesh with "the teeth of the pinion gear 100 to provide for continued selective steering while in the reverse operating condition.

FIG. shows a somewhat different embodiment of the propulsion unit 22 which is designed and particularly adapted for operation by the manual control system illustrated in the FIG. 3 drawing. The basic difference between the embodiments of FIGS. 4 and 5 is the manner in which the drive is automatically disconnected from the propeller 24 when the reverse operation is being initiated or when the changeover is being made from forward to reverse operation of the boat. At the upper end of the propulsion unit 22 it will be seen that the controls have been simplified to some degree by the elimination of the neutral tube 112 and its associated pinion gear 110. The clutch 124 and its operating mechanism are now replaced by a clutch 130. The control of forward and reverse operation of the propulsion unit 22 is now provided by the steering cable 42 and by the reversing cable 60. Disconnect of the engine drive from the propeller 24 is provided through an electromagnetically operated clutch 130 cooperable with the vertical drive shaft 28. The upper end of the drive shaft 28 is broken away and it will be understood that it is connected to the rotative drive output of the internal combustion engine 54. With reference to FIG. 3, it will be seen that the operation of the clutch 130 is provided by an electrical control output signal from the cam-operated switch 65, which in turn is actuated by the cam 66 mounted on the'lever 56 according to the movement of the forward reverse lever 56 in its intermediate or neutral position. The gear 80 is always in mesh with the gear 82. The gear 80 is free to turn on the shaft 28. The gear 82 is splined to the shaft 84. The clutch 130 is a dog-type clutch which is spring loaded down into engagement with the gear 80 through dogs. The clutch 130 is splined to the shaft 28. When the clutch solenoid is actuated, it pulls clutch 130 out of engagement with the gear 80. In the same manner as the embodiment of FIG. 4, the variable speed rotative drive is transmitted from the drive shaft 28 through the gears 80 and 82 and through the shaft 84 to the propeller 24. The actual changeover between forward and reverse operation of the boat is provided by the reversing cable 60. It will be seen that sector gear 102, mounted at the end of arm 126, is rotatable clockwise or counterclockwise to provide a rapid turning of the gear 100 and the steering tube 26 to provide a substantially 180 turn of the propulsion unit 22 with an accompanying complete changeover in thrust force orientation. During either forward or reverse operation, the selective steering through the rotation of the propulsion unit 22 is maintained through the steering cable 42, lever 103, stud 104 and the gear 102. In the embodiments of FIGS. 4 and 5 there is available a separate throttle control provided through a throttle control lever 46 to place the engine in its idling condition when desired.

FIG. 6 shows an alternate embodiment of the present invention in which the rapid turning of the steering tube gear 100 and the resultant turning of the propulsion unit 22 are provided by a fluid operated motor 132. The fluid motor 132 is of the rotary type and is positioned at the upper end of the steering column tube 26. The propulsion unit 22 terminates at its end in a reduced diameter or stem portion 133. Included in the motor 132 is a cylinder 134 having a vane 136 rotatably mounted therein. The vane 136 is fixed to the upper end of the stem 133. The vane 136 is rotatable clockwise or counterclockwise through an arc of approximately 180 between the spaced forward stop 138 and the reverse stop 140. Responsive to control pressure at port P or at port P the vane 136 and with it the propulsion unit 22 are rotated through 180 to provide the changeover between reverse and forward boat operation. A suitable control valve is employed to provide the required operating pressure at one port, and the connection to ambient pressure or to exhaust at the other in a manner well known in the art. An example of such a valve and its connections to ports P and P is shown in FIG. 8 hereinafter.

In the embodiment of FIG. 6, there is shown a rack gear 142 having its teeth engaged with the teeth of the steering tube gear to provide for normal steering. The rack gear 142 in turn is selectively positioned by the steering cable 42 according to the rotation of the steering wheel 34. It will be understood that the rotation of the propulsion unit 22 may likewise be controlled by a pinion gear in place of the rack gear 142.

The FIG. 7 drawing further clarifies the mode of construction of the FIG. 6 mechanism and the manner in which the rapid rotation of the propulsion unit is provided. It will be seen that the vane 136 is illustrated in its extreme lefthand position as was illustrated in FIG. 6. Also shown is the manner in which the vane 136 is connected through the stem 133 to the upper portion of the propulsion unit 22. Also shown is the body in which the central cylinder 134 is formed.

The apparatus of FIG. 8 is a further embodiment of the present invention which provides for hydraulically powered reversal operation. The sector gear 146 is rotatably mounted about a pin 152, while an arm 148 extends upwardly from the sector gear 146. The teeth of the sector gear 146 are maintained in mesh with the teeth of the steering tube gear 100. The second arm 156 also extends in a like direction to arm 148 and is likewise pivotably mounted about the pin 152. The steering cable 42 is attached to the upper end of the arm 156 and is used to selectively position arm 156 and sector gear 146 for normal steering operation. Relative movement between arms 148 and 156 is provided by a fluid type actuating means. For this purpose, a cylinder motor 168 is connected between the opposed ends of the arms 148 and 156. Included in the fluid motor 168 are a cylinder 176 and a piston 170. The piston 170 is movable between spaced stops 172 and 174 inwardly extending at opposite ends of the cylinder 176. When reverse operation is desired, operating pressure is admitted by operation of a suitable manually operated control valve 169 through a port indicated P to displace the piston 170 to its right-hand end position in abutment with the stop 174. At the same time, the port I at the other end of the cylinder 176 is connected to ambient or exhaust pressure. This causes a rapid actuation and turning of the sector gear 146 which in turn rotates both the steering tube gear 100 and the associated propulsion unit through the 180 turn required. When it is desirable to return to forward drive operation, the pressures at ports P and P are reversed at the respective ends of the cylinder 176 by the operation of the valve 169. Accordingly, the piston 170 is moved to its left extreme position against the stops 172. It will be appreciated that the fluid motor illustrated may be either of the hydraulic or pneumatic type.

The apparatus of FIG. 9 may be characterized as a pivot type of control system. Included is a control steering control gear 158 in the form of a sector gear and having its teeth in engagement with the teeth of the steering tube gear 100. The sector gear 158 will be seen to terminate in aleftwardly extending arm 160 which is itself pivotable about the spaced points provided by two mounting pivot pins 162 and 164. The steering cable 42 is attached through a fastener 161 at the lefthand end of the arm 160 to the pin 162. The reversing cable 60 is attached through a fastener 163 at the pivot pin 164. In addition, a biasing spring 166 is connected between the pivotal mounting pin 164 and the center of the steering tube gear 100 to maintain its gear teeth and those of the sector gear 158 in mesh. It will be understood that the arm 160 and the gear 158 are suitably guided and supported to maintain their relationship to the gear 100. The gear 158 is selectively rotated by the steering cable 42 to provide normal steering. During this operation, the sector gear 158 is caused to rotate about its pivotal mounted at pin 164. When it is desired to reverse the boat operation, the reversing cable 60 is actuated to provide rotation of the sector gear 158 about the pivotal mounting provided at pin 162 to provide the rapid turning required for reorienting the steering tube gear 100 and the associated propulsion unit through the 180 turn.

The FIG. 10 drawing shows a different form of the present invention in which a pinion gear 100, mounted at the upper end of the propulsion unit steering tube 26, is turned according to its engagement with the teeth of a sector steering control gear 146. The sector gear 146 terminates in a rightwardly extending arm 148 to the end of which is attached the reversing cable 60. The reversing cable 60 end is securely fastened to the arm 148 by a fastener 150. The reversing cable 60 further passes through a conduit 151. The sector gear 146 is pivotably mounted about a pivot pin 152 and has extending from it a hub 154. The hub 154 extends upwardly from the pin 152 and has connected to it a rightwardly extending arm 156 to which is attached the steering cable 42. The conduit 151 through which the reversing cable 60 is journalled passes through the arm 156. The conduit 151 is fixed to the arm 156 by a pair of nuts 153. The steering tube gear 100 and the propulsion unit are held in their normal forward operating by the reverse cable 60 which is positioned there by the control lever 56 of FIG. 2. When the reverse cable 60 is pulled to rotate the arm 148 clockwise, there is provided a rapid turning of the steering tube gear 100 and a counterclockwise rotation of the entire propulsion unit to provide its rotation through a half-circle turn for reverse operation.

FIG. 11 shows a somewhat different embodiment of the present invention in which a modified sector gear 178 is used to selectively rotate the steering tube gear 100 and thus provide the proper rotation of the propulsion unit for normal steering. The control is manually exercised through a cam system. In the mechanism of FIG. 11, the sector gear 178 is formed with a plate 180 extending rightwardly from it. Mounted on the upper surface of the plate 180 are a pair of spaced cam followers 182 and 184. A reversing toggle 186 is further pivotably mounted about a shaft 190, while a lever 192 mounted on a hub 193 is shown extending in a rightward direction. A shaft 190 provides a fixed pivot point about which sector 178 and lever 192 are both freely rotatable. The lever 192 and the toggle 186 are connected by the mounting pin 187, which pin extends outwardly from the lever 192.

The assembly is shown in the FIG. 11 drawing in the forward operating position in which cam followers 182 and 184 of the plate 180 are engaged in the opposed notches 188a. Responsive to the force exerted by the steering cable 42, the sector gear 178 is rotated for normal steering through the drive of steering tube pinion gear 100. The mechanical connection is between lever 192, pin 187, toggle 186, cam followers 182, 184 and the plate 180 formed integrally with the sector gear 178. Changeover to reverse operation is provided by the actuation of reversing cable 60 to pivot the toggle 186 about its mounting pin 187, thus seating the cam followers 182 and 184 into the reverse position of notches 188b. This will change the relative positions of the toggle 186 and the lever 192. This will result in a rapid rotation being applied to the steering tube pinion gear through the turning sector gear 178 thus providing a half-circle turn of the propulsion unit. This approach has the advantage of eliminating a force on the cable 60 when steering since the force of steering goes directly through the pin 187, the toggle 186, and the cam followers 182 and 184 which are all in line.

The embodiment of the present invention which is illustrated in FIG. 12 relates to a somewhat different type of manually operable system. Included are the steering tube pinion gear 100 having its teeth in driven engagement with the teeth ofa rack gear 142. The rack gear 142 is differentially movable to provide selective turning of the propulsion unit for normal steering. A laterally extending pivot arm 194 is shown having the steering cable 42 connected to its left-hand end through a pivotal link 196. The reversing cable 60 is connected at the right-hand end of the pivot arm 194 through a connection provided by a pivotal link 198. The lower end of the rack 142 is connected intermediate the end of the pivot arm 194 through a pair of swiveling links 200 and 202. In the forward operation and normal steering of the boat, the movement of the steering cable 42 through turning of the steering wheel will cause rotation of the pivot arm 194 about point B to provide a longitudinal movement of the rack 142. The longitudinal movement of the rack 142 will result in steering rotation of the pinion gear 100 and the appropriate rotation of the propulsion unit 22. When it is desired to provide changeover to a reverse boat operation, the cable 60 is displaced causing the rotation of the link about point A, which moves the links 200, 202 and the attached rack 142 to rotate the steering tube through its pinion gear 100 into a reverse direction.

FIG. 13 shows an embodiment of the present invention which differs from those previously shown by reason of its including a jet propulsion unit in place of the propeller type thrust units. In addition, the propulsion system provided is of the dual type, including a spaced pair of jets which are movable in unison to provide the steering. It will be understood that pairs or multiples of pairs of propeller type units may be used in a system such as that of FIG. 13. Included are the spaced jets 204a and 204b, each of which has attached to its upper surface a steering control pinion gear 206a and 206b, respectively. A pair of racks 208a, 2081: are associated with their teeth in mesh with those of the pinion gears 206a and 20612, respectively. A fluid motor 210 is used as the actuating means connected between the adjacent ends of the racks 208a and 208b. It will be understood that an electrical motor could be used in place of the fluid motor 210. The fluid motor 210 includes a cylinder 212 having a pair of pistons 214 and 216 differentially movable in it between spaced stops 220 and 222 at opposite ends of the cylinder 212. A suitable manual valve, like the valve 169 shown in connection with FIG. 10, is used to provide operating pressure for the cylinder 212. A pair of ports P near the ends of the cylinder 212 are connected to an exhaust or ambient pressure P and a source of pressure P is connected to the port near the center of the cylinder 212. The cylinder 212 further has connected to its lower external surface a rack gear 224 which has its teeth placed into engagement with the teeth of a steering gear 226. The steering gear 226 is rotatableeither directly or through an intermediate connecting means associated with the steering wheel 34 to provide rotation through its driving relationship with the teeth of the rack gear 224, thus to move the rods 225 and 227 and the rack gears 208a and 208b rightwardly or leftwardly in unison to provide normal steering controlled by the direction of the thrust forces from the jets 204a and 204k. When it is desired to provide changeover into a reverse operation, an operating pressure P is applied to the two end ports in the cylinder 212 in suchmanner as to drive the racks 208a and 20812 through pistons 214 and 216 in opposite directions to provide rapid reorientation of each through an arcuate 180 turn with a resultant changeover into reverse operation. During the normal steering operation, the operating pressure P, is maintained to the port identified as P,, while the P ports are connected to ambient or exhaust so that the pistons 214, 216 are held in the positions illustrated against the end stops 220 to condition the system for normal steering operation for the boat.

The FIG. 14 embodiment of the present invention shows the basic operating elements of a system using a worm gear set for controlling the rotation of the steering tube 26 and the propulsion unit 22. The set includes a worm 230 and a worm gear 100 mounted at the upper end of the steering tube 26. The worm 230 is shown with its teeth in driving relationship with the teeth of the worm gear 100 for rotating it and the propulsion unit 22 in normal steering operation. It will further be seen that the worm 230 terminates in unthreaded shaft ends 232 and 234, which ends are slidably and rotatably journalled in bearings 236 and 238, respectively. The worm 230 will thus be seen to be both rotatable and longitudinally shiftable in its movement. Accordingly, it will be seen that the worm 230 may be suitable connected to receive rotation at its left end 232 according to the selective operation of the steering cable 42. The shifting movement of the gear 230 is applied by the reversing cable 60, causing a rapid turning of the propulsion unit 22. Otherwise stated, in the device of FIG. 14, normal steering is provided through rotation of the worm 230 with the rotation being received from the steering wheel 34 through an intermediate mechanism. The changeover between forward and reverse operation is provided by the shifting along its longitudinal axis ofthe worm 230. It will be appreciated that the operative connection of the two cables, steering cable 42 and reversing cable 60, may be interchanged so that with the same basic control system of a worm gear set there may be provided a shifting movement of the worm 230 for steering and a rapid rotating movement of the worm 230 for reversing.

FIG. 15 is a detailed showing of a system using the basic operating worm gear set elements shown and described in connection with FIG. 14. The worm 230 is shown with its teeth in mesh with the teeth of the worm gear 100. There is also included a sector type gear 240 which is pivotally supported on a pin 249 at the opposite side of the worm 230 and movable through an arcuate distance limited by a pair of spaced stops 242, 244. The reversing cable 60 has fixed to it a mounting block 246 which is pivotably connected to the left-hand end 248 extending from the sector gear 240. The sector gear 240 will thus be seen to be rapidly rotatable about its pivotal mounting on the pin 249 to provide a rapid shifting movement of the gear 230 into its upper, phantom line indicated position.

A suitable housing 251 and housing support 253 are' provided for the reversing cable 60. The throttle cable 50 is shown extending through the reversing cable 60 for movement therewith to provide idling operation of the engine during the actuating movement of the reversing cable 60. A suitable bearing 250 is used to slidably journal the worm 230 and to allow its shifting movement. In the apparatus of FIGv 15, the normal steering movement is provided through rotative movement of the steering cable 42, which rotation in turn is derived from the rotation of the steering control means, such as for example the steering wheel 34 illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3. The rotation of the steering cable 42 causes a rotation of the worm 230 through a pinned connection 252 at its lower end, which in turn rotates the worm gear and the propulsion unit 22.

In the apparatus of FIG. 16, the connection of the reversing cable 60 and of the steering cable 42 have been essentially interchanged with respect to the major operating elements of the system, namely, the sector gear 240, the worm 230 and the worm gear 100 connected to the upper end of the steering tube 26 of the propulsion unit 22. At the left side of the FIG. 16 drawing, the steering cable 42 is shown journalled through the housing 251, which housing in turn is connected to the housing support 253. The steering cable 42 at its upper end is connected to the block 246 on which there is pivotally mounted the sector gear 240. The sector gear 240 again is pivotably movable between the spaced stops 242 and 244 according to the controlling longitudinal movement of the steering cable 42. The resultant arcuate movement of the sector gear 240 is about its pivotal mounting at the pin 249. In the embodiment of FIG. 16, the movement of the steering cable 42 is used to provide a longitudinal or shifting movement of the.

worm 230 therefore to rotate the worm gear 100 and therefore turn the propulsion unit in the desired direc-.

tion. To provide the changeover between forward and reverse operation, the reversing cable 60 is connected through the link 252 to the lower end of the worm 230. A cable housing 254 is used to house the reversing cable 60. A rotative movement is imparted through the rotation of the reversing cable 60 whereby there is provided a rapid shifting movement in an upward direction of the worm 230 and hence a rapid reorientation of the gear 100 through the turn required. It is noted that there is allowed sufficient slack in the reversing cable 60 to permit the normal steering movement of the worm 230.

It will be seen that the mechanisms shown in FIGS. 14, 15 and 16 in'which a worm gear set is employed provide a relatively fine degree of control for steering. This permits an overall foreshortening of the mechanism as compared to a regular rack and gear mechanism used to provide both reversing and steering operation. Otherwise stated, the worm and worm gear arrangement will require a total movement equal to about one-half the circumference of the worm gear itself, whereas the regular rack and pinion mechanisms will require a stroke equal to the full circumference of the gear.

It will thus be seen that the present invention in the several different embodiments disclosed offers a variety of applications to a number of differently styled watercraft. The basic principles of the invention are applicable to any thrust propulsion unit, however that thrust may be generated and wherever the reactive forces are directed to propel the boat. Theimanner of direct control and of rapid turning of the propulsion unit itself makes it possible to space the operating controls to any desired operation position in the boat.

The present invention may be used in conjunction with a standard outboard engine modified in accordance with the teachings of the invention. Alternately, it may be used in engine systems with wet well mountings and with direct inboard or with outboard drive arrangement. The mode of control by the actuator system, whether manually, mechanically or electrically operated, makes the system applicable to virtually any size of boat and motor installation required for propelling the boat.

The present invention is applicable not only to rear boat engine mountings but likewise applies to forward mounted propulsion systems, or to boats in which multiple engines are mounted in several spaced locations. In the jet thrust types, the thrust units in a like manner to the propeller types may be located at either the bow or the stern of the boat, or if desired at both locations with the rapid turning operation of the several propulsion units readily available to control the boat operation.

What is claimed is:

1. In a boat having a propulsion unit mounted on it rotatable about an upstanding axis, a steering means, a steering cable connected between said steering means and said propulsion unit for rotating it for normal steering, a reversing cable operatively connected to said propulsion unit for rapidly turning it through substantially a half circle turn to provide changeover between forward and reverse boat operation, said propulsion unit including a steering gear fixed thereto, a control sector gear having its teeth in mesh with the teeth of said steering gear for selectively rotating it, said control gear having a first pivotable mounting means proximate its toothed portion and a second pivotable mounting means spaced from its toothed portion, said reversing cable coupled to said sector gear proximate said first mounting means for rotating said sector gear about said second mounting means to provide for the rapid turning of the propulsion unit, said steering cable coupled to said sector gear proximate said second mounting means for providing normal rotation of said control gear about said first mounting means for normal steering, wherein an internal combustion engine is operatively connected to said propulsion unit for providing drive thereto and a throttle means is operatively connected to said engine for providing its idling operation during the rapid turning of said propulsion unit.

2. The combination as set forth in claim 1 wherein said control sector gear includes an arm portion laterally extending from its toothed end portion, said two mounting means fixed to said arm portion in spaced relationship, one from the other.

3. The combination as set forth in claim 1 wherein a resilient biasing means is coupled intermediate said first pivotable mounting and the center of said steering gear for yieldably holding the teeth of said gears in engagement.

4. The combination as set forth in claim 3 wherein said propulsion unit includes an. engine driven propeller suitably bladed for providing a thrust force for forward and reverse operation of said boat.

5. The combination as set forth in claim 3 wherein said propulsion unit includes a jet means mounted thereon and operable to provide a flow of pressurized fluid to provide for forward and reverse operation of said boat.

6. The combination as set forth in claim 1 wherein a clutch means operable with said reversing cable is operatively connected to said propulsion unit for interrupting such drive during the rapid turning of said propulsion unit to provide changeover between forward and reverse operation of the boat.

7. The combination as set forth in claim 6 wherein said clutch means for interrupting drive from said engine to said unit comprises an electrically operated clutch coupled intermediate said engine and said unit.

8. The combination as set forth in claim 6 wherein said clutch means for interrupting drive from said engine to said unit comprises a mechanically operated clutch coupled intermediate said engine and said unit. l l= UMTED STA'IES PATENT OFFICE CERIVEFITTIATE 0F CORRECTION PATHS? NO. 3,874,321

GATE April 1, 1975 MVEJOMS) Joseph E. Smith Column 1, line 14, change "rubber" to -rudder--.

Column 9, line '17, change "mounted" to mounting-.

(Fiignef and sealed this 17th day of June lz 75.

fittest:

C. Z"ARSHALL DANE? Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks .xttestanr; 'Cfficer

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4432736 *Feb 24, 1982Feb 21, 1984The Secretary Of State For Defence In Her Britannic Majesty's Government Of The United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern IrelandWater-jet steering mechanisms
US5057043 *Jun 5, 1990Oct 15, 1991Kayaba Industry Co. Ltd.Power steering system for boat
US5059144 *Dec 6, 1990Oct 22, 1991Sanshin Kogyo Kabushiki KaishaAhead/astern shifting device for marine propulsion unit
US6336833Aug 26, 1999Jan 8, 2002Bombardier Inc.Watercraft with steer-responsive throttle
US6405669Jul 16, 2001Jun 18, 2002Bombardier Inc.Watercraft with steer-response engine speed controller
US6428371Sep 25, 2001Aug 6, 2002Bombardier Inc.Watercraft with steer responsive engine speed controller
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Classifications
U.S. Classification440/42, 440/58, 440/60, 440/87
International ClassificationB63H25/42, F02B61/04
Cooperative ClassificationB63H5/125, B63H25/42, B63H2011/008, F02B61/045
European ClassificationB63H5/125, B63H25/42