US 3898705 A
An inflation control for a safety vest used by underwater divers. The control is convertible for oral or automatic operation. An oral inflation housing has a valve which may be manually operated to inflate the safety vest or to withdraw air from it. An automatic inflation housing may be removably connected for manually controlled inflation of the vest from a supply tank. A quick disconnect coupling permits rapid connection and disconnection of the supply tank hose with one hand and without the loss of any pressure.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [1 1 Schuler Aug. 12, 1975 CONVERTIBLE INFLATION CONTROL FOR UNDERWATER DIVING vEsTs  Inventor: Manfred Schuler, Costa Mesa, Calif.
 Assignee: Pittman Products, Inc., Huntington Park, Calif.
22] Filed: Sept. 13, 1974  Appl. No.: 505,789
52 U.S.Cl. ..9/313 51 lnt.Cl. ..B63C 9/24  Field of Search ..9/313 327,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Greenwood 9/313 X 3,727,250 4/1973 Koehn et al. 9/313 Primary ExarhirierTrygve M. Blix Assistant ExaminerSherman D. Basinger Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Robert C. Comstock 5 7] ABSTRACT An inflation control for a safety vest used by underwater divers. The control is convertible for oral or automatic operation, An oral inflation housing has a valve which may be manually operated to inflate the safety vest or to withdraw air from it. An automatic inflation housing may be removably connected for manually controlled inflation of the vest from a supply tank. A quick disconnect coupling permits rapid connection and disconnection of the supply tank hose with one hand and without the loss of any pressure.
12 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures CONVERTIBLE INFLATION CONTROL FOR UNDERWATER DIVING VESTS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to an inflation/exhaust control for safety vests used by underwater scuba divers.
2. Description of the Prior Art The invention relates generally to an inflation control of the type shown in US. Pat. No. 3,727,250 and other similar products which are now on the market.
In many of the existing devices, there is constant pressurization of the system, including the interior of the control housing, which may result in the escape of air during connect and disconnect operation and which makes such disconnection difficult.
Existing devices are also not capable of being readily disassembled and cleared in case an internal build-up of foreign matter should occur in the air passages.
The devices which are now on the market are not capable of being converted for use either as an oral inflator alone or as both an oral and an automatic inflator.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The invention relates to an inflation control which is an improvement over existing devices and which provides advantages and benefits not found in prior devices.
It is among the objects of the invention to provide a device of the type described in which there is no escape of air (or pressure) during the connect/disconnect operations or if the pressure connection should accidentally become disengaged.
It is particularly an object of the invention to provide an inflation control which is capable of being manufactured in two separate connectable pieces. One piece by itself comprises an oral inflator and it may be used alone for oral inflation of the safety vest. The other piece adds the automatic inflation function and it may be quickly and easily attached to and combined with the first piece to convert it into a combination oral and automatic inflation control.
Another object of the invention is to provide a device of the type described which is simple and more efficient in its construction and operation and which is substantially foolproof in use. The device of the present invention is adapted to be manufactured and sold at a relatively low price for widespread sale and use.
A further object of the invention is to provide such a device which is so constructed and arranged that all operations can be performed with only one hand. This is extremely important for safety and underwater diving and for speed and efficient operation in emergency situations.
Still another object of the invention is to provide a quick disconnect structure and method of operation thereof for such devices which is an improvement over those now in use.
It is a further object of the invention to provide a structure and method of inflation which comprises an improvement over those now in use.
The invention also comprises such other objects, advantages and capabilities as will later more fully appear and which are inherently possessed by the invention.
While there is shown in the accompanying drawings a preferred embodiment of the invention, it should be understood that the same is susceptible of modification and change without departing from the spirit of the invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of the complete inflation control, with the safety vest and tank shown on a reduced scale;
FIG. 2 is a longitudinal sectional view of the complete inflation control;
FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of the oral inflator used alone, partially broken away to show the cover assembly in section.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT A preferred embodiment which has been selected to illustrate the invention comprises an oral inflator housing 10, which may conveniently be formed of molded plastic or other suitable material. The housing 10 has a vest outlet 1l,.to which a hose 11a may be connected leading to a safety vest 11b. A mouthpiece outlet 12 may carry a conventional mouthpiece 12a, or it may be used without the addition of such a mouthpiece.
A push-button control 15 is mounted on the opposite side of the housing 10 from the vest outlet 11 and in alignment therewith. The control 15 is slidably mounted within a retainer 16 which is threadedly mounted in the housing 10. A coil spring 17 extends between a fixed interior wall 19 of the housing 10 and an inner portion of the control 15. The spring 17 normally urges the control 15 outwardly with respect to the housing 10.
A poppet 18 has one end thereof threaded into the control 15. The poppet 18 extends concentrically through the coil spring 17 and through the wall 19 transversely across the inner portion of the mouthpiece outlet 12. The, opposite end of the poppet 18 is attached to a valve closure member 20, which is mounted for reciprocal movement within the interior portion of the vest outletl-l'. The valve closure member 20 has an annular resilient portion 21 which engages a valve seat 22 surrounding the connection between the vest outlet 11 and the mouthpiece outlet 12.
When the oral inflation housing 10 is used alone, a screw 23 which is disposed at the inner end of the mouthpiece outlet 12 engages and holds in place a cover 24 which Closes off the side of the housing 10 remote from the mouthpiece outlet 12.
The operation of this portion of the inflation control is simple. The coil spring 17 normally holds the resilient portion 21 of the'valve closure member 20 in sealing engagement with the valve seat 22 to prevent any flow of air between the mouthpiece outlet 12 and the vest outlet 11.
Manual pressure on the control 15 causes movement of the poppet 18, which displaces the resilient portion 21 of the valve closure member 20 from the valve seat 22. The mouthpiece outlet 12 may then be placed in the mouth and air blown into the mouthpiece outlet 12, from which it flows through the valve seat 22 and through the vest outlet 11 into the safety vest.
If the safety vest is already inflated, air will flow from the safety vest through the vest outlet 11 and valve seat 22 and out through the mouthpiece outlet 12. This air may be breathed by a diver in an emergency situation or it may be discharged into the water or into the atmosphere.
The device described comprises a complete oral vest inflation control which may be used by itself. If an automatic vest inflation control is desired, a second housing may be attached by merely removing the cover 24 and using the same screw 23 to connect the second housing to the first housing 10.
The second housing, which comprises an automatic inflation housing 30, may also be conveniently formed of molded plastic. When the second housing 30 is used in connection with the first housing 10, the cover 24 is removed or omitted. The screw 23 is then connected to a projection 31 formed on the interior of the housing 30 in order to attach the housings l and 30 in sealing engagement to each other.
The housing 30 has an inlet or inflate push button 32 which is held by a retainer 33. A stem 34 extends inwardly from the push button 33 into the interior of the housing 30. The stem 34 has an O-ring 35 extending around its outer portion and another O-ring 36 extending around its inner portion. A relieved area 37 extends around the periphery of the stem 34 between the 0- rings 35 and 36.
A transverse opening 38 extends transversely through the stem 34 adjacent to the inner portion of the relieved area 37 and connecting therewith. A longitudinal opening 39 extends longitudinally into the stem 34 from the inner end thereof along the longitudinal axis of the stem 34. The longitudinal opening 39 intersects and connects with the midportion of the transverse opening 38.
A sleeve 40 is slidably mounted around the outer end of the stem 34. A coil spring 41 has its outer end bearing against the inside of the push button 32. The spring 41 concentrically surrounds the sleeve 40, with its inner end engaging an annular enlargement 43 on the inner end of the stem 34.
The spring 41 serves a dual purpose. It exerts outward pressure against the push buttom 32 in order to maintain it in a normally outward position. It also exerts inward pressure on the sleeve 40 through the enlargement 43 to urge the stem 34 inwardly to a closed position when the pressure connector is not attached to the housing 30. This second function will be described in detail hereinafter in this specification.
The housing 30 is provided on its interior with an integral shoulder 44 which acts as a stop member to limit inward movement of the sleeve 40 by engaging the enlargement 43. Adjacent to the shoulder 44 on the opposite side thereof is a bushing 45 having an annular opening in which an O-ring 46 is mounted directly adjacent to the shoulder 44.
The housing 30 is provided with a cylindrical opening 47 which extends from the bushing 45 to the exterior of the housing 30. The opening 47 is dimensioned to slidably receive a connector 50 which is mounted on the end of a hose 51 which extends to a source of high pressure high supply such as a tank 51a. The end 52 of the connector 50 is smoothly tapered to a reduced diameter which fits within the bushing 45, with the O-ring 46 engaging the periphery of the end 52.
Any flow of air from the hose 51 through the connector 50 is normally prevented by a valve closure assembly which is mounted within a chamber 60 formed in the connector 50. This valve closure assembly includes a valve stem 53 having a collar 54. A concentric coil spring 49 normally urges the collar 54 to compress an O-ring 55 against a radially inwardly directed shoulder 56 at the end of the chamber 60. The O-ring 55 forms a four-sided seal against the collar 54, the inner wall of the connector 50, the shoulder 56 and the periphery of the stem 53'.
The stem 53 has a projection 57 which extends into a cylindrical chamber 58 which adjoins and is of somewhat smaller diameter than the chamber 60. The projection 57 is provided with a slot 59.
FIG. 2 of the drawings shows the connector 50 connected to the second housing 30, with the inflate push button 32 in its normal or closed position. When the connector 50 is secured to the housing 30, the inner end of the stem 32 slidably enters the chamber 58 and the O-ring 36 makes a sealing engagement with the periphery of the chamber 58. The O-ring 35 at all times makes a sliding sealing engagement with the inner periphery of the sleeve 40. The slotted inner end of the sleeve 40 abuts against the end 52 of the connector 50.
The inflate button 32 is adapted to be depressed against the pressure of the spring 41. When the button 32 is depressed, the sleeve 40 remains stationary because its inner end is in abutting engagement with the end 52 of the connector 50.
As the button 32 is depressed, the stem 34 is moved inwardly within the chamber 58 of the connector 50. Since the inner end of the stem 34 is in abutting engagement with the end of the projection 57, movement of the stem 34 causes movement of the valve stem 53 of the connector 50. Such movement of the valve stem 53 causes movement of the collar 54 away from the O- ring 55, relieving the pressure of the spring 49 which causes the O-ring 55 to seal off the end of the chamber 60. When pressure on the O-ring 55 is relieved, air under high pressure from the tank 51a flows out of the chamber 60 past the O-ring 55 into the adjoining chamber 58.
From the chamber 58, air under presure flows through the slot 59 in the projection 57 of stem 53 into the longitudinal opening 39 of the stem 34. From the longitudinal opening 39, air flows through the transverse opening 38 into the relieved area 37 surrounding the midportion of the stem 34.
From the relieved area 37, air under pressure flows through openings 42 in the inner end of sleeve 40 and then through an opening which extends through the wall of the housing 30 into a chamber 66 disposed between the housing 10 and 30. Air flows from the chamber 66 through an opening 67 in the wall of the first housing 10 into the vest outlet 11 outwardly from the valve seat 22. The valve closure member 20 has a plurality of radially spaced integral portions which engage the inner wall of the vest outlet 11 to maintain the valve closure member 20 in alignment during its movement. These portions have spaces therebetween which permit air flow to pass from the chamber 66 into the vest outlet ll. From the vest outlet 11, the high pressure air flows through the hose 11a to the safety vest 11b to cause inflation of the vest 11b.
A quick disconnect means is provided on the second housing 30 to provide for quick and simple connection and disconnection of the connector 50 to and from the housing 30. Such quick disconnect means comprises a release push button 70 which is mounted on the side of the housing30 transversely from the inflate push button 32. The release push button 70 is mounted within a retainer 71 which is threaded into the housing 30. A pair of coil springs 72 extend between the interior of tends transversely across the opening 47 and is slidably mounted within a slot 77 formed in the housing 30.
The slide member 76 is provided with a circular opening 78 which is slightly larger in diameter than the main portion of the connector 50 and substantially equal in diameter to the opening 47. The'opening 78 is,
however, normally held somewhat out of alignment with the opening 47, its normal position being shown in FIG. 2 of the drawings.
The inner ends of the stem 34 protrude through the opening 78. The opening 78 is offset or out of alignment with the opening 47, so that its edge forms a semicircular arc encircling but spaced from the stem 34.
When the connector 50 is inserted into the opening 47, the outer wall of the end 52 of the connector 50 extends into the space between the stem 34 and the adjacent edge of the opening 78. As insertion of the connector 50 is continued, the smoothly tapered periphery of the end 52 exerts lateral pressure on the edge of the opening 78, causing the slide member 76 to be moved transversely against the pressure of the springs 72.
This transverse movement of the slide member 76 continues until the slide member 76 is in alignment with a recess 79 which extends around the entire periphery of the connector between the end 52 and the main part of the connector 50. When this occurs, no more lateral pressure is exerted on the edge of the opening 78 and the springs 72 cause the slide member 76 and push button 70 to move outwardly, bringing the edge of the opening 78 into the recess 79.
The connector 50 is thereby automatically and securely locked into connection with the housing 30. The connector 50 cannot be disconnected or removed from the housing 30 without pressing the release push button 70 inwardly. When the button 70 is pressed, the edge of the opening 78 is moved outwardly beyond the periphery of the recess 79. The connector 50 is then free to be withdrawn from the opening 47 and is in fact urged outwardly by pressure from the spring.
The parts are dimensioned so that when the slide member 76 engages the recess 79, the end 52 of connector 50 makes sealing engagement with the O-ring 46, the end 52 abuts against the inner end of sleeve 40 and the end of the stem 34 abuts against the end of the valve stem 53.
When the connector 50 is disconnected from the housing 30, the sleeve 40 is moved inwardly by pressure from the spring 41 acting against the enlargement 43. The sleeve 40 moves inwardly so that its outer periphery makes sealing engagement with the O-ring 46, thereby preventing any flow of air out of the housing 30.
It should be noted that when the connector 50 is connected to the housing 30, the O-ring 55 prevents any flow of air under pressure into the housing 30 unless and until the inflate push button 32 is pressed. As soon as the push button 32 is released, air flow into the housing 30 is stopped by the pressure of spring 49 moving collar 54 and O-ring 55 back into sealing position. The only pressure which is present within the interior of the housing 30 at this time is the extremely low pressure of 6, v the safety vest 115, if it. is inflated There is no high pressure within the interior of the'housing '30.
When the connector 50 is'disconnected from the housing 30, there is accordingly no high pressure which resists its disconnection and thereis'no loss of air or pressure occurring during either the connect or disconnect operation.
1. An inflation control for underwater diving vests comprising a first oral inflation housing having a mouthpiece outlet and a vest outlet, a valve controlling the flow of air between said outlets, a push button control mounted on said first housing for opening said valve, said first housing being usable by itself for oral inflation of said vest and for emergency breathing of air from saidvest, a plate removably mounted on said first housing, said plateclosing off passage means in said first housing extending from a portion of said vest outlet beyond said valve, a second housing adapted to be connected to said-.first housing upon the removal of said plate, said second housing converting said control for inflation of said vest from a source of air pressure, said second housing having passage means connecting with the passage means in said first housing for the flow of air under pressure through both of said housings from the source of air under pressure to said vest outlet beyond'said valve.
2. The structure described in claim 1, and a fastening member removably connecting said plateto said first housing, said fastening member also being usable upon the removal of said plate to connect said second housing to said first housing.
3. An inflation control for underwater diving vests comprising a housing having a mouthpiece outlet and a vest outlet, a valve controlling the flow of air between said outlets, a push button control mounted on said housing for opening said valve for emergency breathing of air from said vest, said housing having an opening for removably receiving a connector for supplying air under pressure, passage means extending within said housing from said opening to a portion of said vest outlet beyond said valve, valve means in said connector normally preventing the flow of air under pressure when said connector is disposed within said opening, said connector being insertable into and removable from said opening without opening said valve means and without any loss of air under pressure, sealing means disposed adjacent to the inner end of said opening, the inner end of said connector being adapted to make sealing engagement therewith when said connector is fully inserted into said opening, and means forming a sealing engagement with said sealing means when said connector is removed from said opening to prevent air flow outwardly through said opening.
4. The structure described in claim 3, and an inflation push button control mounted on said housing, a stern movable by said control, the inner end of said stem being adapted to engage and open the valve closure member of said connector when said control is depressed.
5. The structure described in claim 4, and a sleeve surrounding said stem, a coil spring surrounding said sleeve, said coil spring urging said control outwardly and said sleeve inwardly, said spring upon the removal of said connector from said opening being adapted to move said sleeve inwardly into sealing engagement with said sealing means.
3,898,705 it I, I V1 6. The structure described in claim 5, and a quick disconnect means for removably connecting said connector to said housing, said disconnect means providing a slide member movable by a release push button mounted on said second housing, said slide member being mounted for sliding movement within said housing transversely across said connector receiving opening, said slide member having a circular opening therein, release spring means normally holding the said release push button outwardly to hold said slide member opening offset with respect to said connector receiving opening, said connector having a narrow end adapted upon the insertion of said connector into said opening to engage the opening in said slide member and move said slide member transversely against the urging of said release spring means to permit the end of said connector to move through said opening in said slide member and into engagement with said sealing means.
7. The structure described in claim 6, and means automatically engagable between said connector and slide member upon the insertion of said connector into said opening to hold said connector against removal from said opening.
8. The structure described in claim 7, said means comprising a recess formed in the side of said connector, said recess being adapted to removably receive a portion of said slide member adjacent to one edge of said slide member opening, said release spring means 8 being adapted to move said slide member into said recess. i
.9, The structure described in claim 8, said slide member being movable from said recess upon depression of said release push button control, said coil spring engaging said sleeve being adapted upon the release of said connector to exert pressure on said sleeve and connector to urge said connector out of said opening.
10. The structure described in claim 3, said control comprising two separate housings, the first of said housings comprising an oral inflation housingcapable of being used by itself independently of the second housing for oral inflation of said vest and for emergency breathing of air from said vest, the second of said housings comprising an automatic inflation housing removably connected to said first housing for inflation of said vest from a source of air under pressure. I
11. The structure described in claim 10, and a plate removably mounted on said first housing when said first housing is used by itself, said plate closing off the passage mean s extending from said connector receiving opening to saidwvest outlet.
12. The structure described in claim 1 l, and afastening member removably connecting said plate to said first housing, said fastening member also being usable upon theremoval of said plateito connecting said second-housing to saidfirst housing.