Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3899993 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 19, 1975
Filing dateOct 12, 1973
Priority dateOct 12, 1973
Publication numberUS 3899993 A, US 3899993A, US-A-3899993, US3899993 A, US3899993A
InventorsPowers Richard T
Original AssigneePowers Richard T
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Tow bar assembly for water-ski towing device
US 3899993 A
Abstract
A water-ski towing device comprising a bouyant hull and a propulsion unit mounted in it. A tow bar extends aft from the transom of the hull for towing a water skier. A compact adjustable mechanism pivotally secures the tow bar to the bouyant hull. The mechanism has a detent to releasably latch the tow bar in an elevated position for operation of the device. An adjustment knob is provided for varying the position of the tow bar in its latched position to accommodate different skier heights or different applications for the device. The tow bar has a pair of hand grips oriented to provide the most comfortable position for an operator's hands and at the same time offer optimum mechanical advantage in steering the vehicle. A throttle and clutch control in the hand grips are finger actuated to improve operator control of the device.
Images(4)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [1 1 Powers TOW BAR ASSEMBLY FOR WATER-SKI TOWING DEVICE [76] Inventor: Richard T. Powers, 3623 Herschel Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45208 22 Filed: Oct. 12,1973

21 Appl. No.: 405,896

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,853,166 9/1958 Campbell 192/40 2,914,018 ll/l959 Schachner et al. 115/6.l 2,969,037 1/1961 Vogt 115/70 3,062,172 11/1962 Moore ll5/6.l

3,181,493 5/1965 Pericut ll5/6.1 3,711,755 1/1973 Meyer, .lr. 115/18 E Aug. 19, 1975 Primary Examiner-Trygve M. Blix Assistant ExaminerStuaIt M. Goldstein Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Irwin P. Garfinkle; Gary M. Gron [5 7] ABSTRACT A water-ski towing device comprising a bouyant hull and a propulsion unit mounted in it. A tow bar extends aft from the transom of the hull for towing a water skier. A compact adjustable mechanism pivotally secures the tow bar to the bouyant hull. The mechanism has a detent to releasably latch the tow bar in an elevated position for operation of the device. An adjustment knob is provided for varying the position of the tow bar in its latched position to accommodate different skier heights or different applications for the device. The tow bar has a pair of hand grips oriented to provide the most comfortable position for an operators hands and at the same time offer optimum mechanical advantage in steering the vehicle. A throttle and clutch control in the hand grips are finger actuated to improve operator control of the device.

15 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTED AUG-1 9 I975 sum 3 [1F 41 TOW BAR ASSEMBLY FOR WATER-SKI TOWING DEVICE The present invention relates to water-ski towing devices and more particularly to improvements in tow bars for these types of devices.

In recent years it has been proposed to provide a small bouyant hull with a marine propulsion unit in it and a tow bar extending from the aft end of the hull to a hand grip for towing a water skier. In a number of prior art devices (see US. Pat. Nos. 2,914,018 and 3,1 8l ,493) it has been proposed to mount the tow bar for free movement in a vertical plane only. This is intended to compensate for the fact that the skier starts out in the water and as the device picks up speed comes out of the water to an elevated planing position. In practice, however, it has proved to be difficult if not impossible to properly operate the water-ski hull, particularly from the standpoint of directional control.

In one instance it has been proposed to permit the handle to swing upward until it reaches a particular elevated position where it is latched in place to function as a fixed element. This greatly enhances the directional control while at the same time permitting the skier to properly ascent to the planing position. One of the problems with this type of device is that the latching mechanism tends to be cumbersome and makes adjustment for individual skier heights relatively difficult.

An additional problem encountered with prior art de' vices is that the tow bar hand grips are oriented in such a way that they place the skiers hands in uncomfortable positions. Typically, these hand grips are in the form of a T-bar which strains the arm muscles and promotes early fatigue. In addition, the engine controls in these devices are hand grip types that make it extremely difficult to slow the unit down without losing ones grip and falling off. Some of the above problems are solved in accordance with one aspect of the present invention by a water-ski towing device comprising a buoyant hull incorporating a propulsion unit and a tow bar extending in aft direction for operator control. The unit has an adjustable mechanism for mounting the tow bar. The mechanism includes a mounting plate having a base secured to the transom of the hull and a pair of side plates extending aft from the base plate. A shaft extends between the side plates for pivotally mounting the tow bar. An adjustable latching means is positioned substantially between the end plates and releasably latches the tow bar in a predetermined elevated position.

In another aspect of the present invention the above problems are solved by a water-ski towing device comprising a buoyant hull having a propulsion unit and an aft extending tow bar. A handle assembly is secured to the free end of the tow bar and has a pair of hand grips extending substantially vertically upward, as viewed from the side of said device, and angled inward as viewed from a fore and aft direction.

The above and other related features of the present invention will be apparent from a reading of the following description of the disclosure shown in the accompanying drawing and the novelty thereof pointed out in the appended claims.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a simplified external view of a water-ski towing device embodying the tow bar assembly of the present invention; and

FIG. 2 isan enlarged fragmentary sectional view of the water-ski towing device of FIG. I, particularly illustrating an adjustable latching mechanism for the tow bar assembly;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the adjustable latching mechanism of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a greatly enlarged view of the handle assembly for the tow bar assembly of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 5 is an end view of the handle assembly as seen from the rear; and

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the handle assembly of FIGS. 4 and 5.

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a water-ski towing device comprising a buoyant hull 10 and an upper housing 12 secured at a belt line 14. An engine 16 is mounted within hull 10. As illustrated, the engine is of the outboard type in which the engine output shaft (not shown) is positioned vertically and extends downward through the hull inside of an airfoil strut l7 and into a propeller support housing 18. Housing 18 contains a right angle drive and clutch unit (not shown) that is actuated by a solenoid 19 to connect the engine to a propeller 20. Propeller 20 may be contained within a shroud assembly 22 embodying the features of copending application Ser. No. 403,440, filed on Oct. 4, 1973, and entitled Propulsion Unit for Water-Ski Towing Device, M. Uroshevich and P. March co-inventors.

Engine 16 is supplied with fuel from a fuel tank 24 and has a ring 26 that is rotated by an electric motor 28 to vary the throttle opening and spark advance for the engine. A battery 30 supplies electrical power for the engine ignition and other control functions, as described later.

One form of marine engine and propulsion has been shown in connection with the description of the present invention. It should be understood that it is for illustrative purposes only and that many other types of engines and propulsion units may be incorporated in the waterski towing device. The hull 10 has a stern 32 that mounts an adjustable latching mechanism 34 supporting an aft extending tow bar 36 in the form of a tube. Tow bar 36 has a water-skier manipulated handle assembly 38 at its remote end.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3 particularly, the adjustable latching mechanism 34 comprises a U-shaped bracket compressed of a base plate 42 secured through the transom 32 of the boat to an internal mounting plate 44 by bolt assemblies 46. Base plate 42 has integral side plates 48 and 50 extending aft.

A shaft 52in the form of a bolt extends through holes 54 in the side plates 48 and 50 and through the lower end of tow bar 36 for pivotally mounting it to the plates 48 and 50. A nut 56 permits the bolt 52 to be withdrawn from the plates 48 and 50, thereby enabling removal of the tow bar from the hull for storage or trans port.

The shaft 52 also pivotally mounts a housing 58 having a socket 60 for receiving the lower end 78 of tow bar 36. Housing 34 at its end away from the pivotal mounting of shaft 52 has a first recess 62 which forms a detent. Recess 62 connects through a smooth cam surface 64 to an additional recess 66 forming a stop for the mechanism. A threaded shaft 68 extends through openings 70 in opposite walls of housing 58 and has a hand-manipulated knob 72 nonrotatably secured to it. Threaded shaft 68 is received in internal threads 74 of a plug 76 positioned in the lower end 78 of tow bar 36.

A latch mechanism 80 comprises a pair of levers 82 and 84 secured to each other through an integral hand plate 85. Levers 82 and 84 are pivotally mounted to plates 50 and 48, respectively, by pins 86. Levers 82 and 84 have arm sections 88. A bar 90 extends between the free ends of arms 88 and is adapted to be received in recess 62 as a detent or in recess 66 to limit downward pivoting movement. A bar 92 is integral with and extends between levers 82 and 84. A leaf spring 94 mounted on bar 92 acts on a ledge 96 protruding from end plate 42 to bias latch mechanism in a counterclockwise direction about pins 86 as viewed in FIG. 2.

FIGS. 4, and 6 show the handle assembly 38 for the tow bar 36. Handle assembly 38 includes a web comprising upper and lower housings 98 and 100, respectively, having complimentary recesses for receiving the upper end 106 of the tow bar 36. The recesses have inward protruding conical bosses 108 and 110, respectively, received in holes 112 in tow bar 36. Screws 114 extend through openings 116 in the lower housing 100 and are threaded into the conical bosses 108 in the upper housing 98. The central web housing 98 and 100 have additional sockets 118 and 120 which receive tubes 122 and 124, respectively. Pins (not shown) in the sockets 118 and 120 orient the tubes in a particular position. Tube 122 has a hand grip section 126 bent upward in a predetermined relationship, as described later. Hand grip section 126 has a suitable hand grip cover 128. Tube 124 has a hand grip section 130 which is positioned in symmetry with the angle of hand grip section 126. Hand grip section 130 has a suitable cover 132.

Hand grip section 126 has positioned in it a throttleactuated control device 129 having a thumb-actuated plunger 131. In one form the element 129 is a linear potentiometer and the pin 132 is depressed into the handle to vary the resistance of the potentiometer. In another form device 140 may be a switch to pulse an engine control system. Hand grip section 130 includes a switch 140 having a thumb-actuated plunger 142. Additional switches 144 may be mounted in a plate 146 extending across a recess 148 formed in the upper and lower web housings 98 and 100. Lines 150 extend from switches 144 to a wiring harness cable assembly 152 which extends through a sealed opening 154 in recess 148 to the interior of tow bar 136. Lines 156 and 158 respectively connect devices 129 and 140 to the wiring harness 152.

Wiring harness 152 extends to a point adjacent the lower end of tow bar 36 and out through an opening 160. Harness 152 terminates in a female plug connector 162 interconnecting with a male plug connector 164 molded into the cover 12. A cable assembly 166 extends from connector 164 to an electronic control system 168 (see FIG. 1). From here a line 170 extends to d.c. motor 28 and a line 172 extends to solenoid 19.

As illustrated, element 129 is a linear potentiometer which drives an electronic throttle positioning servosystem to drive the dc. motor 28 in one direction or another to vary the throttle opening and hence the speed of the engine. Linear potentiometer 129 is biased so that the plunger 131 is fully extended and the throttle ring 26 is in an idle position when there is no pressure on plunger 131. Switch 140 is actuated by depressing plunger 142 to energize solenoid 19 and connect the motor output shaft to the propeller 20 only when the plunger 142 is depressed. The plunger 142 is suitably biased so that in the absence of a pressure on the hand grip the solenoid will not be energized. The remaining switches 144 may be used to provide additional engine controls, such as start, choke and other functions as needed.

As observed in FIG. 4 in which the handle assembly is viewed from the side of the water-ski towing device, the hand grip sections 126 and 130 extend substantially vertically upward when the tow bar is in its elevated latched position. As viewed in FIG. 5, i.e., fore and aft direction, the hand grip sections 126 and 130 are angled inward at an acute angle with respect to the vertical. It has been found that an angle of approximately 27 gives particularly acceptable control.

For operation of the water-ski towing device of FIG. 1 the hand plate is depressed to pivot bar out of recess detent 62 and permit the tow bar 36 to swing downward where its position is limited by the stop 66. In this position the operator can start the water-ski towing using the switches 144 in the web of the handle assembly 38. When the engine is operating the clutch switch is depressed with the thumb of the left hand to interconnect the engine with the propeller 20 and the plunger 142 depressed to open the throttle on the engine and cause the unit to move forward in the water. As the unit gains speed the operator comes up out of the water and begins to plane on his skis. As this happens the tow bar 36 pivots up from its horizontal position to the elevated position shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. At this point, bar 90 snaps into detent 62 by leaf spring 94 and is held in place to secure the tow bar 36 at a preselected elevated position. In this position the tow bar 36 acts as an essentially rigid element for precise and manageable control of the unit.

To adjust for the particular height of the skier with a high degree of precision, the knob 72 is rotated to thread shaft 68 relative to plug 76 and thus cause the lower end 78 of tow bar 36 to move up and down as viewed in FIG. 2. This in turn varied the height of the elevated end of bow bar 36. The above adjustment is made very simply and enables a wide range and very precise selection of the particular height desired.

The position of the hand grips 128 and 132 enables a high degree of control, while at the same time minimizing operator fatigue. This is because the arm muscles are placed in the most natural position for comfortable and prolonged pulling. By separating the holding function and the controlling function, which is done with the thumbs, the possibility of losing ones grip with the remaining fingers when a skier purposefully slows down is minimized if not eliminated. When a skier falls off of the unit the propeller is automatically declutched and the throttle returned to an idle position for safety. To remount, the water skier simply depressed hand plate 85 to place the tow bar 36 in its lower position. The skier is then able to engage the clutch and depress the plunger 142 to open the throttle and again ski.

When the skier is finished the tow bar 36 assembly and the housing 58 can be removed from the mounting plate by undoing nut 56 and pulling out shaft 52. The connector 162 provides a quick disconnect of the wire harness 152 from the cover 12. In this way the overall dimensions of the water-ski towing device are minimized for storage and transport.

The latching mechanism described above is highly compact and fits substantially within the end plates attached to the hull. This minimizes extraneous struts and elements which can get in the skiers way or be damaged. The hand grip-assembly enables very precise control of the units using the thumbs and at the same time offers a comfortable position for prolonged skiing activities.

While the preferred embodiment of the present invention has been described, it should be apparent to those skilled in the art that it may be employed in other forms without departing from its spirit and scope.

Having. thus described the invention, what is claimed as novel and desired to be secured by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. A water-ski towing device comprising: a buoyant hull having a motor and a propeller assembly driven by said motor to provide a propulsive thrust; a tow bar extending aft for towing a water skier; and connecting means for connecting said tow bar to said hull, said connecting means providing a rigid connection in a first position between said tow bar and said hull during normal operation of said device, and being pivotal upwardly in a vertical plane from a second position to said first position during initial operation of said device, said connecting means comprising: mounting means secured to said hull the lower end of said tow bar being pivotally mounted on said mounting means for movement in said vertical plane; and

latching means for releasably latching said tow bar in said first position.

2. A water-ski towing device in claim 1 wherein said mounting means secured to said hull comprises a forked plate including a base plate and a pair of spaced side plates projecting from said base plate and a shaft extending between the free ends of said side plates, said tow bar being pivotally mounted on said shaft;

and wherein said latching means is contained substantially between said side plates and comprises:

a latching element adjustably secured to said tow bar and positioned between said side plates, said latching element having a latching detent and a positive stop angularly spaced therefrom;

a lever pivotable in a vertical plane from said base plate; and

a latch including a rod mounted onto said lever and yieldably biased into said detent thereby releasably holding said tow bar in said first position, said rod being releasable from said detent when said lever is pivoted to permit the pivoting of said tow bar to said second position at said positive stop.

3. A watenski towing device as in claim 2 wherein said shaft is releasably secured between said side plates for permitting removal of said tow bar and said latching element.

4. A water-ski towing device as in claim 2 wherein said lever comprises:

a pair of L-shaped arms pivotally mounted at the apex thereof to said side plates and having an operator pad extending between them at an and spaced from said pivotal mounting, said rod extending between the other end of said arms so that pivotal movement thereof swings said rod into and out of said detent; and

a spring yieldably urging said rod into said detent.

5. A water-ski towing device as in claim 4 wherein said L-shaped arms have a bar extending between them and said spring comprises a leaf spring secured to said bar and acting against said base plate to urge said rod into said detentv 6. A water-ski towing device as in claim 1 further comprising adjusting means for adjusting the location of the first position of said tow bar in said vertical plane.

7. A water-ski towing device as in claim 6 wherein said mounting means includes a shaft, said tow bar being pivotal on said shaft, and wherein said adjusting means for adjusting the location of the first position of said tow bar comprises:

an adjustment element positioned between the side walls of said forked plate and pivotally mounted to said shaft, said adjustment element having a recess into which said tow bar extends so that both said tow bar and said adjustment element pivot about said shaft; and

means connected between said element and the lower end of said tow bar for adjustably displacing said adjustment element and the lower end of said tow bar relative to one another, the latching means being formed on said element whereby the location of said tow bar may be adjustably positioned in said first position. I

8. A water-ski towing device as in claim 7 wherein said means connected between said element and the lower end of said tow bar comprises:

a threaded shaft extending through said adjustment element and rotatable relative to said adjustment element; and

an internally threaded plug secured to the lower end of said tow bar and receiving said threaded shaft whereby rotation of said threaded shaft pivots the lower end of said tow bar relative to said adjustment element.

9. A water-ski towing device as in claim 8 wherein said mounting means secured to said hull comprises a forked plate including a base plate and a pair of spaced side plates projecting said base plate, said shaft extending between the free ends of said side plates, and wherein said latching means comprises:

a detent formed in the end of said element away from said shaft;

a pair of levers pivotally secured to said side plates, said levers having arms extending away from said pivotal mounting and a rod positioned between them so that pivoting movement of said levers swings said rod into and out of said detent; and

a spring yieldably biasing said rod into said detent.

10. A water-ski towing device as in claim 9 wherein said element has a stop against which said rod abuts to limit the downward movement of said tow bar.

11. A water-ski towing device as in claim 10 wherein said shaft is releasably secured between said side plates for permitting removal of said tow bar and said adjustable positioning element.

12. A water-ski towing device as in claim 11 further comprising:

a handle assembly positioned in the upper end of the tow bar away from the hull;

electrically energized actuation devices for said engine positioned within said hull;

switches positioned in said handle assembly; and

means for electrically connecting said switches with said actuation devices, said electrical connecting means including a releasable connector at the surface of said hull for permitting complete removal of said tow bar.

13. A water-ski towing device as in claim 1 further comprising a handle assembly positioned at the end of said tow bar away from said hull, said handle assembly including upwardly extending hand grips oriented substantially vertically as viewed from the side of said device and angled inward as viewed in a fore and aft direction when said tow bar is in said first position.

14. A water-ski towing device comprising:

a buoyant hull having a motor and a propeller assembly driven by said motor to provide a propulsive thrust;

an elongated aft extending tubular tow bar secured to said buoyant hull;

a handle assembly secured to the remote end of said tow bar, said handle assembly comprising a central web housing connected to said tow bar and having sockets, said web housing containing a plurality of electric controls for said motor, a pair of upwardly extending tubular hand grips received in said sockets and oriented relative to said tow bar to extend substantially vertically as viewed from the side of the device and extend inward at an acute angle relative to the vertical as viewed in a fore and aft direction when the tow bar is in an operative position, said hand grips having a first portion received in said sockets and extending aft and outward from said web and an integral hand grip portion extending upward when said tow bar is in said operative position, said web housing having a pin extending into said sockets for positioning said hand grips;

remote controls for said motor, said controls including thumb-actuated devices positioned in said hand grips, said thumb-actuated devices being biased to permit operation of said motor and thereby movement of said hull only when they are engaged by an operator, and thereby stopping motion of said hull when an operator releases his grip from the handle; wiring harness for connecting said electrical controls and thumb-actuated devices with said motor, said wiring harness extending upward through said tow bar into said central web housing and having electric wires for connecting with said electrical controls and for connecting with said thumbactuated devices;

means for releasably detaching said tow bar from said 15. A water-ski towing device as in claim 14 further comprising means for adjustably positioning said tow bar in a vertical plane in said skiing position.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2853166 *Sep 11, 1956Sep 23, 1958Borg WarnerSolenoid-operated clutch
US2914018 *Oct 14, 1955Nov 24, 1959Helmut StiegerWater-borne motor-powered towing device for control by a waterskier
US2969037 *May 29, 1959Jan 24, 1961Curtiss Wright CorpWater ski scooter
US3062172 *Feb 20, 1961Nov 6, 1962Moore James CMotor-driven water ski towing device
US3181493 *Apr 10, 1963May 4, 1965Perkut Branko RWater sking apparatus
US3711755 *Dec 12, 1969Jan 16, 1973Jetco Electronic Ind IncDc fishing motor speed and steering control
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5167550 *Nov 29, 1990Dec 1, 1992Nielsen Robert AConversion of a watercraft to a water skier controlled drone
US5898961 *Dec 12, 1997May 4, 1999Hill-Rom, Inc.Mobile support unit and attachment mechanism for patient transport device
US6073285 *May 4, 1999Jun 13, 2000Ambach; Douglas C.Mobile support unit and attachment mechanism for patient transport device
US7195527 *Dec 4, 2003Mar 27, 2007Yamaha Hatsudoki Kabushiki KaishaOperational control device for jet propulsion watercraft
US20040144293 *Dec 4, 2003Jul 29, 2004Satoshi TaniOperational control device for jet propulsion watercraft
US20050124234 *Nov 23, 2004Jun 9, 2005Robin SellsRemote marine craft system and methods of using same
WO1992009477A1 *Nov 29, 1991Jun 11, 1992Nielsen Robert AConversion of a watercraft to a water skier controlled drone
Classifications
U.S. Classification440/84, 441/69
International ClassificationB63B35/73
Cooperative ClassificationB63B35/731
European ClassificationB63B35/73B