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Publication numberUS3881751 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 6, 1975
Filing dateMar 4, 1974
Priority dateMar 4, 1974
Publication numberUS 3881751 A, US 3881751A, US-A-3881751, US3881751 A, US3881751A
InventorsColby Raymond Lee
Original AssigneeColby Raymond Lee
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Automatically stowable towline for vehicle
US 3881751 A
Abstract
From a spring-wound storage reel mounted on a vehicle, a towline extends through a fairlead and a stress-transmitting abutment casing mounted on the vehicle independently of the storage reel and spaced lengthwise of the vehicle from it. Connector means, such as a hook, is carried by the end of the towline, and a stop, such as a collar, is swaged onto the towline at the side of the abutment casing remote from the connector and at a location spaced from the connector a distance equal to the desired working length of the towline. When the working length of the towline is pulled out, the stop collar engages the abutment casing to transmit pulling stress from the towline to the vehicle through the abutment casing completely independently of the storage reel; but whenever the towline is relieved of towing stress, the storage reel will automatically retrieve the towline to take up slack in it.
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United States Patent 1191 Colby May 6,1975

[ AUTOMATICALLY STOWABLE TOWLINE FOR VEHICLE Raymond Lee Colby, Star Rt.; Box 4, Quincy, Wash. 98848 [22] Filed: Mar. 4, 1974 [21] Appl. N0.: 447,998

[76] Inventor:

Primary ExaminerLeo Friaglia Assistant ExaminerR. Schrecengost Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Robert W. Beach [5 7 1 ABSTRACT From a spring-wound storage reel mounted on a vehicle, a towline extends through a fairlead and a stresstransmitting abutment casing mounted on the vehicle independently of the storage reel and spaced lengthwise of the vehicle from it. Connector means, such as a hook, is carried by the end of the towline, and a stop, such as a collar, is swaged onto the towline at the side of the abutment casing remote from the connector and at a location spaced from the connector a distance equal to the desired working length of the towline. When the working length of the towline is pulled out, the stop collar engages the abutment casing to transmit pulling stress from the towline to the vehicle through the abutment casing completely independently of the storage reel; but whenever the towline is relieved of towing stress, the storage reel will automatically retrieve the towline to take up slack in it.

3 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENIEUMAY ems SHEET 10F 2 wv i f tance from the end of the casing 12. As pulling stress in the towline is increased after abutment of the stop fitting 19 against the end plate 17, the force of the towline will contract the tube 18 lengthwise gradually or abruptly to absorb shock until the end plate 17 abuts against the adjacent end of the casing 12. The tube 18 can be of a sufficiently large cross section so that as it is contracted lengthwise it will expand in cross section to bear against the inner wall of the casing 12 and provide a progressively greater snubbing action as the exterior of the tube slides lengthwise of the casing in contact with it.

Alternatively, the elastomer tube 18 can be omitted and the end plate 17 can be welded or otherwise attached directly to the end of the casing 12. In either type of construction, the stress-transmitting member 9 serves as an abutment cooperating with the snub fitting 19 to receive the entire pulling stress of the towline 1 during towing, except for the small portion of such stress offset by the constant tension on the towline produced by the spring-wound reel 2, and transmits such stress through the casing 12 and brackets and 11 directly to the frame F of the vehicle independently of the cable reel 2.

The towing stress-transmitting member 9 may be located a considerable distance aft of the cable reel 2, as shown in FIG. 1. In order to prevent the stretch of towline between the stress-transmitting member and the reel from becoming fouled or bearing on some part of the vehicle or its equipment, an intermediate fairlead 20 supported from the vehicle frame F such as by a suspending chain 21 can be provided. Such fairlead is shown as being in the form of a tube 22 having an internal cross section sufficiently large to permit free passage of the stop fitting 19 swaged onto the towline. The opposite end portions 23 and 24 of the tube 22 can be flared or belled to facilitate entry of the fitting 19 into one end or the other of the fairlead tube. Any number of such fairleads can be used.

The reel 2 constituting the storage means for the towline 1 is spring-wound, and its construction may be as shown in FIG. 6. Between an upper end plate 25 and a lower end plate 26, a drum cylinder 27 is clamped by bolts 28 extending through apertures in the end plates. A spiral spring 29 is received within the drum 27 inwardly of the circle of bolts 28, except that one of such bolts extends through an eye 30 formed on the outer end of the spiral spring band 29 to secure such outer end to the drum. The inner end portion 31 of the spiral spring band extends through a diametral slot 32 extending lengthwise of a cantilever spindle 33 projecting downward from the under side of the end portion of mounting arm 7 for the reel.

The drum is mounted for rotation relative to the spindle 33 by a radial antifriction bearing 34 fitting over such spindle and received in a cap 35 having cars 36 which are secured to the upper end plate 25 of the drum by bolts 37. Another radial antifriction bearing 38 extends over the lower portion of the spindle 33 beneath the drum and is received in a cap 39 having cars 40 which are secured to the lower end plate 26 by bolts 41. A set collar 42 secured on the lower end portion of spindle 33 prevents the drum from sliding downward off the spindle.

The anchored end 43 of the towline can be anchored to one end plate of the reel drum as shown in FIGS. 2 and 6. The towline is then wound around the drum with towline has been wound on the drum. The free end of the towline is then pulled out and passed first through the fairlead 20 and then through the aperture 17' of end plate 17 and the interior of abutment 9. The end of the towline is then looped through the eye 3 of the hook 4 and secured by the band 6. The pull on the towline during such rigging slightly winds spring 29 because spring end 31 is held stationarily in spindle slot 32 and spring end 30 is turned with the drum as towline 1 pulls end plate 25 in the direction of the arrow in FIG. 6. After hook 4 has been attached and the hook is released, spring 29 will wind up the towline until the band 6 or eye 3 is drawn against the end of abutment 9 remote from the storage reel, as indicated in broken lines in FIG. 4.

When it is desired to perform a towing operation with the towline, the hook 4 is drawn out by the operator and hooked onto the other vehicle. When the towing operation commences, the pull on the towline will unwind a further length of towline from the reel 2 in opposition to the force of spring 29 until the stop fitting 19 abuts the end plate 17. Further paying out of the towline will then be arrested; and the pulling force on the towline will be transmitted from the towline through the stop fitting 19, end plate 17, abutment casing 12 and brackets 10 and 11 to the vehicle frame. If the tension on the towline should be sufficiently relaxed so as to tend to provide slack in the line, the spring reel 2 will automatically reel in the towline, pulling stop fitting 19 away from the end plate 17, and thereby take up any slack which might tend to develop in the towline. When the towing operation has been completed, and the hook 4 has been released from the other vehicle, the spring-wound reel 2 will wind in the towline onto its drum until the hook 4 again has been restored to the retracted or stored position indicated in broken lines in FIG. 4.

While the towline mechanism has been shown installed on the vehicle of FIG. 1 so that the towline can be drawn out from the rear of the vehicle to be connected to a vehicle to be towed by the pickup truck T, the towing mechanism can be reversed so that the free end of the towline is accessible at the front of the vehicle. Such towline mechanism installation is appropriate where the vehicle carrying that mechanism is to be towed. The hook 4 could then be pulled forward from the vehicle by the operator and attached to the rear portion of a towing vehicle. The towing mechanism in such cases will operate in the same manner as described with respect to the installation shown in FIG. 1.

I claim:

1. An automotive vehicle comprising a wheelsupported vehicle chassis, a towline, storage means for said towline mounted on said chassis, abutment means fixedly mounted on said vehicle chassis independently of and at a location spaced from said storage means for transmitting pulling stress from said towline to said chassis separate from and independently of said storage means, and stop means carried by said towline at a location between said storage means and said abutment means and engageable with said abutment means by paying out said towline from said storage means to limit the extent to which said towline can be paid out from the vehicle, said storage means including automatic tension-producing towline-retrieving means always exerting tension on said towline irrespective of the posi- AUTOMATICALLY STOWABLE TOWLINE FOR VEHICLE The present invention relates to towline-carrying mechanism which can be permanently mounted on a vehicle so that the towline is always immediately ready for use.

In situations where it is desirable for a vehicle to use a towline, it is frequently desirable for such towline to be available for use as quickly as possible to clear traffic or to remedy some other dangerous situation. It is not uncommon to store towlines in vehicles where they are difficult to find or where it is necessary to move other articles before the towline can be removed. After the towline has been procured, it is still necessary to attach one end of the towline to the towing vehicle and the other end of the towline to the vehicle to be towed. Such operation of attaching the towline ends is timeconsuming and is usually inconvenient. In addition, towlines stowed in haphazard fashion may become tangled so that further time is lost in straightening them out.

A principal object of the invention is to provide mechanism for storing a towline on a vehicle in a manner such that a working length of towline can be made available for use in a towing operation without detaching the line from the vehicle. Moreover, in use, the towline stresses are transmitted to the vehicle indepen dently of the portion of the towline which remains attached to the vehicle.

Another object is to provide for automatic retrieval of the towline to take up slack in the towline and to return it to stowed condition at the completion of the towing operation.

It is also an object of the invention to provide towline-mounting mechanism which is light and compact so that it can be mounted on a vehicle unobtrusively, yet which is rugged and strong.

A further object is to provide towline-mounting mechanism for a vehicle which will attach the towline permanently to the vehicle while making a predetermined working length of the towline immediately and quickly available for use at any time.

FIG. 1 is a top perspective ofa vehicle equipped with the towline mechanism of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a top perspective of such towline mechanism showing components separate from the vehicle.

FIG. 3 is a top perspective of the stress-transmitting component of the mechanism with parts broken away, and FIG. 4 is a horizontal section through such component.

FIG. 5 is a longitudinal section through the fairlead component of the mechanism.

FIG. 6 is a bottom perspective of the towline reel showing its parts in exploded relationship.

While a towing installation according to the present invention could be applied to virtually any automotive vehicle, towlines are usually more useful for work vehicles such as a pickup truck T illustrated in FIG. 1. The towline mechanism can be mounted on a side longitudinal member of the frame F inwardly from the wheel W. In FIG. 1 the towline mechanism is shown as being mounted on the outer side of the port frame member, although it could be mounted near the center of the vehicle by being mounted on the inner side of the starboard longitudinal frame member or on the inner side of the port longitudinal frame member.

The towline 1 is preferably of stranded steel cable, although other types of towline could be employed. Most of the towline is stored on a spring-wound reel 2 which is shown in FIG. 1 as being mounted on the port longitudinal frame member just aft of the cab. From such reel the towline extends aft, and its free end carries a connector for attachment to another vehicle. The end of the towline may, for example, be looped through the eye 3 of a hook 4 and the return bend 5 can be secured by a clamping band 6.

The cable drum 2 is suspended beneath the free end of a cantilever arm 7 secured to a longitudinal member of frame F by a clamp 8 in a position such that the reel will turn about an upright axis. The towing stress of the cable is not, however, transmitted to the frame of the vehicle through the reel 2, arm 7 and clamp 8. On the contrary, the towing stress is transmitted directly to the vehicle independently of the reel 2 through stresstransmitting means 9. Such stress-transmitting means are separate from the reel 2 and its mount and are spaced longitudinally of the vehicle from the reel 2. In FIG. 1 the stress-transmitting means 9 is shown as being mounted on the vehicle a considerable distance aft of the reel 2.

FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 show the stress-transmitting means 9 as having two brackets 10 and 11 which can be bolted to a longitudinal member of the vehicle frame F. An elongated casing 12 bridges between the brackets 10 and 1 1, as shown best in FIGS. 2 and 4. Such casing can be of square cross section, and one end portion of such casing fits between upper and lower flanges 13 and 14 of the bracket 10 while the other end portion of the casing fits between upper and lower flanges l5 and 16 of the bracket 11. Such flanges can be welded to the casing to provide a very rigid and rugged structure.

The towline 1 extends lengthwise through the casing 12, and end plate 17 at the forward end of the casing 12 remote from hook 4 has an aperture 17' through which the cable can pass. Preferably this aperture is in the form of a slot with its length extending upright. Such end plate may be bonded to the adjacent end of an elastomer filler tube 18 extending substantially throughout the length of the casing 12. The end portion of such filler tube remote from the end plate 17 can be bonded to the interior of the casing 12 so that a substantial portion of the length of the tube 18 is free to move relative to the casing and fits relatively closely within it.

The towline 1 carries stop means preferably in the form of a fitting swaged on it. such as a collar 19, which is secured to the towline at a distance from the hook 4 equal to the predetermined working length of the towline desired from the stress-transmitting means 9 to the hook 4. Such collar is sufficiently large so that it cannot pass through the aperture 17' in the end plate 17, as indicated in FIG. 4; but, on the contrary, when pulling stress is exerted on the towline, it will pull the stop fitting 19 against the end plate. The pulling stress will then be transmitted from the end plate 17 to the casing 12 and brackets 10 and 11, and thence to the vehicle frame F. Meanwhile the only stress applied to the portion of the towline between the stop fitting 19 and the end of the towline anchored to the spring-wound reel 2 will be the force exerted on the towline by such reel.

When towing force is not being exerted on the towline 1 and the elastomer tube 18 is in relaxed condition, such tube will hold the end plate 17 spaced a short distion of said stop means for maintaining said towline taut between said abutment means and said storage means and for moving said stop means away from said abutment means and toward said storage means when the tension in said towline at the side of said abutment means and said stop means remote from said storage means slackens below the tension exerted by said towline-retrieving means on the portion of said towline between said abutment means and said storage means.

2. The vehicle defined in claim 1, in which the abutment means include a hollow casing mounted on the vehicle chassis through which the towline extends and an apertured wall disposed substantially perpendicular to the towline extending through said casing and having an aperture through which the towline extends for engagement of the stop means with the side of said wall nearer the storage means at a location adjacent to its aperture.

3. The vehicle defined in claim 1, and fairlead means carried by the vehicle chassis at a location between the abutment means and the storage means and having a passage therethrough larger than the stop means and receiving the towline therethrough, and said fairlead means being located relative to the abutment means and the storage means for guiding the towline and the stop means for substantially linear movement between the abutment means and the storage means and having opposite flared end portions for guiding the stop means for movement readily into the passage through the fairlead means.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1814912 *Jul 30, 1929Jul 14, 1931Geib Warren JVehicle towing device
US3098463 *Dec 23, 1959Jul 23, 1963Donald D BrownWater ski towline retriever
US3494570 *Aug 21, 1968Feb 10, 1970John Paul Jones JrWater ski towline pay-out and retrieval apparatus
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4635953 *Aug 29, 1985Jan 13, 1987Robertson Jesse CTow cable with bracket and storage means
US4895336 *Oct 26, 1988Jan 23, 1990Lieberman Richard GImproved power tool
US5215325 *Aug 6, 1991Jun 1, 1993General Motors CorporationSelf-storing tow line
US5350186 *Jul 13, 1992Sep 27, 1994Hull Harold LTowline reel attachable to a trailer hitch receptacle
US5476280 *Sep 19, 1994Dec 19, 1995Macmullan; John P.Retractable towing system
US5967539 *May 27, 1997Oct 19, 1999Digman; DanTrail safe system
US6092826 *May 4, 1998Jul 25, 2000Pingel Enterprise, Inc.Tow strap apparatus
US6702347Feb 26, 2003Mar 9, 2004General Motors CorporationIntegrated mounting system for the bumper, recovery rings and winch of a motor vehicle
US7731218Mar 28, 2007Jun 8, 2010Mcginnis KevinRetracting tow system
US7942360 *Aug 15, 2006May 17, 2011Winston Products LlcRetractable tow strap
US9211772 *May 31, 2013Dec 15, 2015Ford Global Technologies, LlcVehicle towing apparatus and method of towing a vehicle in a test
US20070170295 *Aug 15, 2006Jul 26, 2007Winston BreedenRetractable tow strap
US20080238037 *Mar 28, 2007Oct 2, 2008Mcginnis KevinRetracting tow system
US20140353943 *May 31, 2013Dec 4, 2014Ford Global Technologies, LlcVehicle Towing Apparatus and Method of Towing a Vehicle in a Test
CN102975583A *Nov 28, 2012Mar 20, 2013芜湖市顺昌汽车配件有限公司Trailer device for automobile and using method thereof
CN103978856A *May 27, 2014Aug 13, 2014宁波天益齿轴齿轮有限公司Retractor with monitoring device
CN103978856B *May 27, 2014Jan 6, 2016宁波天益齿轴齿轮有限公司一种具有监控装置的牵引器
CN103991344A *May 27, 2014Aug 20, 2014宁波天益齿轴齿轮有限公司Novel automobile tractor
CN103991344B *May 27, 2014Mar 23, 2016宁波天益齿轴齿轮有限公司一种新型汽车牵引器
Classifications
U.S. Classification280/480, 242/381.4, 242/377
International ClassificationB60D1/18, B60D1/00
Cooperative ClassificationB60D1/185
European ClassificationB60D1/18C