Friday, February 26, 2010

United States Patent 7,458,899
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Michaud
December 2, 2008

Putter training apparatus and method of use

Abstract

A putter training apparatus and method of use are provided. In one form, a putter training apparatus includes a putter head generally formed as a mallet attached to a standard golf shaft. The putter head includes an opening through the vertical distance of the putter head, generally centered in the putter head. The putter head further includes a standard golf ball, generally centered within the opening. The golf ball is attached to an extension and retraction system comprising two spherical seats inserted in the heel side and toe side of the opening and two ligaments connecting the spherical seats to the golf ball. The extension and retraction system allows the golf ball to extend from the opening during use, and remain visible to the user through the opening, as long as the user employs a smooth, in line, and in tempo putting stroke.

Inventors: Michaud; Mark David (Singapore, SG)
Appl. No.: 11/359,040
Filed: February 21, 2006

Current U.S. Class: 473/226 ; 473/138; 473/235; 473/340
Current International Class: A63B 69/36 (20060101)
Field of Search: 473/147,219,223,226,229,230,235,250,138,139,145,146,286,340,341,345,350
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

3300241 January 1967 Eberwein et al.
3434722 March 1969 Esposito
3708172 January 1973 Rango
3841639 October 1974 Werner
3999765 December 1976 Bishop
4147357 April 1979 Strop
4976436 December 1990 Serizawa
5375833 December 1994 Marier, Jr.
5485999 January 1996 Hull et al.
6702688 March 2004 Hale
6863617 March 2005 Park

Primary Examiner: Legesse; Nini
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Claims


What is claimed is:

1. A putter training apparatus comprising: a putter head generally formed as a mallet and coupled to a standard golf shaft; a top opening generally centered within said putter head; said top opening being larger than the size of a standard golf ball; said top opening operable to provide a visual of the standard golf ball during the swing; a "U" shaped bottom operable to allow said golf ball to exit said putter head during use; a standard golf ball placed within said top opening or said "U" shaped bottom opening of the mallet; and a golf ball extension and retraction system coupled to the mallet and the golf ball and operable to enable an extension of the golf ball from the opening, wherein the extension and retraction system comprises a bearing and wherein the extension and retraction system is operable to enable the golf ball to extend approximately twelve (12) inches from the opening; wherein the extension and retraction system is operable to provide the golf ball free movement in a vertical and a horizontal direction during a back stroke and a fore stroke.

2. The putter training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the extension and retraction system comprises a metal strand.

3. The putter training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the extension and retraction system comprises an elastic material.

4. The putter training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the mallet substantially bisects a center axis of the golf ball.

5. The putter training apparatus of claim 1, further comprising the extension and retraction system operable to return the golf ball to the opening at the conclusion of the stroke.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The invention generally relates to golf, and more particularly to a putter training apparatus and method of use.

BACKGROUND

Golf has a long history, dating back to the 1400s. The inherent difficulty of the game and enjoyment of improving one's skills have much to do with the ever increasing popularity of the sport. More and more golf courses have opened in the United States over the past few decades, offering everything from expensive private golf clubs, to local municipal golf courses, to smaller par-3 golf courses.

The sport of golf is comprised of three primary facets, driving the ball from the tee, using a range of woods and irons to get the golf ball onto the putting green, and finally putting the ball into the hole. All facets provide unique challenges, but one can easily double one's score for a hole just on the putting green without a mastery of the skills required for successful putting. These skills include not only being able to putt the ball straight, but also require a smooth stroke with correct tempo and a sense of rolling the ball, instead of merely striking the ball which can lead to incorrect follow through. There are many putting aids on the market that provide feedback as to whether or not a putting stroke is straight. What is needed, however, is a putting training aid that provides feedback on whether or not a putt is straight, whether or not the stroke is smooth and in tempo, and that provides a sensation of rolling the golf ball, rather than merely striking it.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the present embodiments and advantages thereof may be acquired by referring to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numbers indicate like features, and wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a rear perspective view of a putter training apparatus in accordance with one aspect of the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a top perspective view of a putter training apparatus in accordance with one aspect of the invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a top perspective view of a putter training apparatus in accordance with another aspect of the invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a side perspective view of a putter training apparatus in accordance with one aspect of the invention; and

FIG. 5 illustrates a method of using a putter training apparatus in accordance with one aspect of the invention.

DESCRIPTION

A putter training apparatus and method of use are provided. In one form, a putter training apparatus includes a putter head generally formed as a mallet and coupled to a standard golf shaft. The putter training apparatus further includes a standard golf ball placed within an opening of the mallet and viewable to a user. The putter training apparatus further includes a golf ball extension and retraction system coupled to the mallet and the golf ball.

According to another aspect of the invention, a putter training apparatus includes a putter head formed generally formed as a mallet and coupled to a standard golf shaft. The putter training apparatus further includes a standard golf ball placed within an opening of the mallet and coupled to a golf ball extension and retraction system. The extension and retraction system enables an extension of the golf ball from the opening.

According to a further aspect of the invention, a putter training apparatus and method of use are provided. The putter training apparatus includes a putter head formed generally formed as a mallet and coupled to a standard golf shaft. The putter training apparatus further includes a standard golf ball placed within an opening of the mallet and viewable to a user, and a golf ball extension and retraction system coupled to the mallet and the golf ball and operable to enable an extension of the golf ball from the opening during a back stroke and a forward stroke of the putter head.

FIG. 1 illustrates a rear bottom perspective view of a putter training apparatus in accordance with one aspect of the present invention. A putter head of the putter training apparatus is illustrated generally at 100. Putter head 100 is generally shaped as a mallet and may be attached to a putter shaft (not expressly shown). Putter head 100 further includes a rear side 101 of opposite a front side (not expressly shown). Putter head 100 also includes a toe side 102 opposite a heel side (not expressly shown) and a bottom side 103 opposite a top side (not expressly shown). Putter head 100 further includes a cutaway portion 104 of putter head 100 extending substantially toward bottom side 103 along rear side 103 of putter head 100. Cutaway 104 enables standard golf ball 105 to exit putter head 100 during a back stroke and a forward stroke of putter head 100. Golf ball 105 is generally centered within opening 106 and opening 106 is generally centered within putter head 100. Opening 106 allows a user to view golf ball 105 along a top portion of putter head 100 during use (not expressly shown).

Putter head 100 further includes a golf ball extension and retraction system illustrated generally at 108 coupled to golf ball 105 along a side portion of golf ball 105 and aligned with a side portion 112 of putter head 100. Extension and retraction system 108 includes a cable or wire 113 coupled to a side portion of golf ball 105 and in one embodiment may extend through golf ball 105 and to toe side 102. Putter head 100 further includes bottom opening 107 extending to cutaway portion 104 along the rear side 101 of putter head 100, forming a "U" shaped opening generally centered along bottom side 103 of putter head 100. Extension and retraction system 108 allows golf ball 105 to extend from opening 107 and cable 113 may be extended to a maximum distance of approximately twelve (12) inches from putter head 100 when putter head 100 is moved in a backward or forward direction. Additionally, golf ball 105 will be retracted into opening 107 when transitioning between a back stroke and a forward stroke, or when putter head 100 is at rest. Extension and retraction system 108 and top opening 106 and bottom opening 107 allow golf ball 105 freedom of movement in a horizontal and a vertical direction during use and encourages a smooth putting stroke with consistent tempo to provide a user the sensation of rolling golf ball 105 rather than striking it. Opening 106 allows a user to view golf ball 105 during a backward and forward stroke.

Putter head 100 may include a width 109 of at least two (2) inches and no more than four (4) inches, extending from rear side 101 to a front side (not expressly shown). Putter head 100 may further include a length 110 of at least three (3) inches and no more than five (5) inches, extending from toe side 102 to a heel side (not expressly shown) and a height 111 of at least one half (1/2) inch and no more than two (2) inches, extending from bottom side 103 to a top side (not expressly shown). In one embodiment, putter head 100 may include a mallet formed from steel and have dimensions of two (2) inches by three (3) inches by one half (1/2) inch. In another embodiment, putter 100 may be formed from any material generally found in putter head including but not limited to stainless steel, carbon steel, brass, polymers, plastics, and graphite. In another embodiment, putter head 100 may include extension and retraction system 108 formed as wire retractably attached to ball bearings and coupled to golf ball 105. In another embodiment, putter head 100 may include extension and retraction system 108 formed as elastic material attached to golf ball 105.

During use, a user desires to achieve a smooth putting stroke and a user may grasp putter shaft (not expressly shown) attached to putter head 100 and align putter head 100 with the desired putting location such as a cup, a hole, a pin, practice green, or any other object that will allow a user to determine whether or not golf ball 105 followed a desired path or putting line. A user may view golf ball 105 through top opening 106 when setting up for a putt and as a user moves putter head 100 to achieve a smooth putting stroke golf ball 105 remains in a user's view through top opening 106 while extending from extension and retraction system 108. During a smooth forward stroke, a user will also see golf ball 105 through top opening 106. However, if a user moves putter head 100 too quickly or in a non-linear fashion, golf ball 105 will disappear from a user's view through top opening 106. For example, as a user brings putter head 100 in a backward direction too quickly during a backstroke, extension and retraction system 108 allows golf ball 105 to extend from opening 107 up to a distance of approximately twelve (12) inches. As a user brings putter head from the back stroke to a neutral position, extension and retraction system 108 retracts golf ball 105 into opening 107 and as a user continues moving putter head 100 from a neutral or center position to a forward stroke, golf ball 105 again extends from opening 107 using extension and retraction system 108 to a maximum distance of twelve (12) inches from putter head 100 if a user's forward stroke is too quick. In this manner, a user is provided a visual feedback of a putting stroke that is too fast, unstable, etc. allowing a user to achieve a smooth putting stroke.

FIG. 2 illustrates a top perspective view of a putter training apparatus in accordance with one aspect of the present invention. A putter training apparatus is illustrated generally at 220 and includes a putter head 200 generally formed as a mallet and attached to a putter shaft 202. Putter head 200 includes a top side 201 opposite a bottom side of the mallet (not expressly shown). Putter head 200 further includes a top opening 203, generally centered to putter head 200 and sized larger than standard golf ball 204. Putter head 200 also includes a bottom opening 205, sized larger than top opening 203. Bottom opening 205 allows golf ball 204 to exit putter head 200 during use. Putter head 200 also includes a toe side 214 of putter head 200 opposite a heel side 215, and a front side 216 opposite a rear side 217.

Standard golf ball 204 is coupled to a golf ball extension and retraction system that includes a first spherical seat 206 coupled to a first ligament 208 and a second spherical seat 207 coupled to second ligament 209. First spherical seat 206 is located generally toward toe side 214 of putter head 200 and second spherical seat 207 is located generally toward heel side 215 of putter head 200. First spherical seat 206 is coupled to first ligament 208 and a portion of golf ball 204 along a center portion of golf ball 204. Similarly, second spherical seat 207 is coupled to second ligament 209 and a center of golf ball 204

In one embodiment, putter head 200 includes a width 210 of at least two (2) inches and no more that four (4) inches and a length 211 of at least three (3) inches and no more than four (4) inches. Standard golf ball 204 includes a diameter 212 of approximately one and sixty-eight hundredths (1.68) inches. Opening 203 further includes a diameter 213 between one and seven hundredths (1.7) inches and two and one half (2.5) inches.

During use, a user generally stands in a normal putting stance with feet apart, knees slightly bent, both hands on the putter, and feet in alignment with the desired direction of a putt. A user starts in a neutral position by gripping shaft 202 so that putter head 200 is located generally proximal or on the ground and centered between but out in front of a user's feet. If a user is right-handed, front side 216 will be toward a user's left. If a user is left-handed, front side 216 will be toward a user's right. A user then takes a back stroke. If a user is right handed, this consists of bringing the putter slowly back to the right. If a user is left-handed, this consists of bringing the putter slowly back to the left. During the back swing, golf ball 204 may extend from bottom opening 205 to a maximum distance of twelve (12) inches. For example, during a smooth back stroke, golf ball 204 remains visible to a user through top opening 203. It the swing is off-line or off-tempo, golf ball 204 may become partially or completely obscured by putter head 200 while extended up to twelve (12) inches from putter head 200. After completion of the back stroke, a user initiates a fore stroke by swinging putter head 200 in the opposite direction of the back stroke, causing putter head 200 to pass the neutral position to a position forward of the neutral position. As putter head 200 approaches the ground at the neutral position, golf ball 204 retracts (if extended) into top opening 203. As putter head 200 rises from the ground during the forward stroke, golf ball 204 again extends from bottom opening 205 to a maximum distance of twelve (12) inches depending on the tempo and line of putter head 200. For example, golf ball 204 will remain visible during extension to a user through top opening 203 as long as the stroke is in-line and in-tempo. However, as if a fore stroke is off-line or off-tempo, golf ball 204 may extend up to twelve (12) inches from putter head 200. At the completion of the stroke, golf ball 200 will again retract into opening 200, becoming once again centered in top side 201.

In one embodiment, first spherical seat 206 and second spherical seat 207 comprise a metal, plastic polycarbonate material, etc. For example, first spherical seat 206 and second spherical seat 207 may include a metallic bearing or ball bearing. In one embodiment, first ligament 208 and second ligament 209 may include a metal strand material, elastic material, cable, filament, etc. Ligaments 208 and 209 may be coupled directly to golf ball 204 using a fastener, glue, epoxy, etc. (not expressly shown). In another embodiment, ligaments 208 and 209 wrap around a circumference of golf ball 204 or may extend through a cavity or channel within golf ball 204.

FIG. 3 illustrates a putter training apparatus in accordance with one aspect of the present invention. A putter training apparatus is illustrated generally at 300 and includes a putter head 301, which is generally formed as a mallet. Putter head 301 is coupled to a putter shaft 305 and includes a top side 302 opposite a bottom side (not expressly shown), a toe 303 opposite a heel 315, and a front side or face 304 of putter head 301 opposite a rear side (not expressly shown). Shaft 305 is attached to top side 302 generally toward a comer formed by the front side 304 and the rear side (not expressly shown), although other locations along putter head 301 may also be used. Shaft 305 allows a user to practice a putting swing with the putter training apparatus 300 by stroking putter training apparatus 300 much as a user would swing a conventional golf putter. In one embodiment, shaft 305 may be steel or an alloy material. In another embodiment, shaft 305 may include wood, graphite, or any other type of material that may formed into a putter shaft.

Putter head 301 also includes a golf ball 306 coupled to putter head 301 and extending through opening 307. Golf ball 306 is generally centered within opening 307, which includes a diameter that is larger than golf ball 306 and allows for golf ball 306 to move within opening 307. Opening 307 is generally centered in top side 302 although other locations may be employed and allows a user to receive feedback on the quality of their golf swing by observing the position of the golf ball relative to opening 307.

In one embodiment, putter head 301 includes a length 308 of at least three (3) inches and no more than five (5) inches, representing the portion of putter head 301 between toe side 303 and a heel side (not expressly shown). Putter head 301 further includes a width 309 of at least two (2) inches and no more than four (4) inches, representing the portion of putter head 301 between front side 304 and a rear side (not expressly shown). Putter head 301 further includes a height 310 of at least one half (1/2) inch and no more than two (2) inches, representing the portion of putter head 301 between top side 302 and a bottom side (not expressly shown).

In one embodiment, putter head 301 may be shaped generally as a straight-sided polygon. In another embodiment, putter head 301 may have curved sections, as many modern putters do. A shape of putter head 301 could be manufactured to replicate a shape of any putter created and shaft 305 could be made of any material used to manufacture any other putter shaft to provide a user consistency between putter training apparatus 300 and a user's normal putter.

During use, a user grips shaft 305 and takes putting apparatus 300 through a back stroke segment and a forward stroke segment of a normal putting stroke. A user views golf ball 306 through opening 307. If the stroke is smooth and in line, golf ball 306 will remain visible through opening 307 through the entire stroke. Front side 303 may be used to align the shot, as it is a straight edge and will point in the direction that golf ball 306 would go during a putting stroke. However, if a user's putting stroke is not smooth, gold ball 306 will extend away from putter head 301 through a bottom/rear opening of putter head 301 (not expressly shown) indicating to a user that a putting stroke is too fast or offline.

FIG. 4 illustrates a front perspective view of a putter training apparatus in accordance with one aspect of the present invention. A putter training apparatus is illustrated generally at 400. Putter training apparatus 400 includes putter head 401 coupled to a standard putter shaft 403. Putter head 401 also includes a front side or face 402 opposite a rear side (not expressly shown).

Putter head 401 includes golf ball 404 attached to a golf ball extension and retraction system including a first ball bearing 405, a second ball bearing 406, a first ligament 407, and a second ligament 408. First ball bearing 405 is located generally toward a toe 410 of putter head 401 and is coupled to first ligament 407, which is in turn coupled to golf ball 404. Golf ball 404 is generally centered along putter head 401. Second ball bearing 406 is coupled to a heel 411 of putter head 401. Second ball bearing 406 is coupled to second ligament 408, which is in turn coupled to golf ball 404. Second ligament 408 is generally coupled to golf ball 404 along a center portion of golf ball 404. Extension and retraction system of golf training apparatus 400 allows golf ball 404 to exit putter head 401 along a cutaway portion 409 located toward bottom side 413 and rear side of putter head 401 (not expressly shown).

In one embodiment, putter head 401 includes a length 415 of at least three (3) inches and no more than five (5) inches, representing the portion of putter head 401 between toe side 410 and heel 411. Putter head 401 further includes a height 414 of at least one half (1/2) inch and no more than two (2) inches, representing the portion of putter head 401 between top side 412 and bottom side 413. Golf ball 405 extends through height 414 of putter head 401.

First bearing 405 and a second 406 may include a clutch mechanism, controlling the amount of first ligament 407 and second ligament 408 allowed to unwind from first bearing 405 and second bearing 406, controlling the distance golf ball 404 may extend from putter head 401.

During use, a user grips shaft 403 to take putter training apparatus 400 through a normal putting stroke. When a user is addressing the ball, a user holds putter training apparatus 400 so that putter head 401 is positioned slightly off the ground. At this point, golf ball 404 protrudes above top side 412 and below bottom side 413. During the stroke, as putter head 401 rises, first ball bearing 405 and second ball bearing 406 allow first ligament 407 and second ligament 408 to extend along with golf ball 404, so that golf ball 404 rolls along with the stroke. When putter head 401 returns to the ground, first ball bearing 405 and second ball bearing 406 retract first ligament 407 and second ligament 408, retracting golf ball back into the opening in putter head 401 (not expressly shown).

FIG. 5 illustrates a method of using a putter training apparatus in accordance with one aspect of the present invention. A method of using a putter training apparatus is illustrated generally at 500. A putter training apparatus 500 includes a putter head 501 attached to putter shaft 502 coupled to a top side 508 of putter head 501. Putter head 501 further includes a front side 507 opposite a rear side 506 a heel opposite a toe (not expressly shown).

Putter head 501 also includes a standard golf ball 503 centered within an opening of putter head 501 and extending from top side 508 generally centered along putter head 501 to a bottom side 509 of putter head 501. Golf ball 503 is coupled to a golf ball extension and retraction system 505 coupled to putter head 501 that includes a first spherical seat 504 coupled to a first ligament 517 and an opposing second spherical seat coupled to a second ligament (not expressly shown).

During use, a user stands in a normal putting stance with feet apart, knees slightly bent, both hands on the putter, and feet in alignment with the desired direction of a putt. A user starts in a neutral position 513 by gripping shaft 502 so that putter head 500 is located generally on the ground, and generally centered between but out in front of a user's feet. If a user is right-handed, front side 507 will be toward a user's left. If a user is left-handed, front side 507 will be toward a user's right. A user then takes a back stroke. If a user is right handed, this consists of bringing the putter slowly back to the right. If a user is left-handed, this consists of bringing the putter slowly back to the left. During the back stroke, a user takes putter head 501 through a first back position 511. At position 511, golf ball 503 begins to extend from putter head 501 through a bottom opening of putter head 501. A "U" shaped opening (not expressly shown) at the junction of rear side 506 and bottom side 509 may be used to provide an exit for golf ball 503 from putter head 501. First spherical seat 504 and a second spherical seat (not expressly shown) allow an extension of first ligament 517 and a second ligament (not expressly shown) enabling golf ball 503 to extend from putter head 501 while remaining attached to putter head 501. As a user completes the back stroke, bringing putter head 501 to second back position 512, golf ball 503 extends fully to a distance not to exceed twelve (12) inches from putter head 501. If a user employs a smooth in-line and in-tempo back stroke, golf ball 503 will remain visible to a user for the duration of the back swing via a top opening in putter head 501 (not expressly shown). However, if a user's back stroke is too fast or off-line, golf ball 503 extends past putter head 503 and may not be visible though an opening of putter head 503.

As a user brings putter head 501 through neutral position 513, golf ball 503 is retracted into a bottom opening of putter head 501 using extension and retraction system 505. For example, if a back stroke is on-line, putter head 501 may retract smoothly into putter head 501. However, if a back stroke is off line, golf ball 503 may become incident to bottom side 509 of putter head 501 and may not retract entirely into a cavity of putter head 501. In this manner, a user may be provided feedback on the accuracy and tempo o a back stroke for putting a golf ball and adjust accordingly.

As a user move putter head 501 to first forward position 514, an extension and retraction system comprising first spherical seat 504 and first ligament 505 and a second spherical seat and ligament (not expressly shown) allow an extension of golf ball 503 from putter head 501. For example, a "U" shaped opening (not expressly shown) along rear side 506 and bottom side 509 facilitates an exit of golf ball 503 from putter head 501. As a user brings putter head 501 through first forward position 514 into second forward position 515, golf ball 503 extends to a maximum distance of twelve (12) inches from putter head 501, depending on the overall speed of a desired putt. If a user maintains a smooth in line in tempo stroke, golf ball 501 remains visible to a user through a top opening (not expressly shown) in putter head 501. For example, if a user is off-line, as golf ball 503 extends from putter head 501, golf ball 503 may be skewed to the left or right of putter head 501 and as such golf ball 503 may not be entirely visible through a top opening of putter head 501. In this manner, a user may be provided visual feedback as to whether a conventional golf ball will be on-line or off-line upon completing a golf stroke.

In one embodiment, first ligament 505 and a second ligament (not expressly shown) are retractably attached to first spherical seat 504 near heel of putter head 501 and a second spherical seat (not expressly shown) attached along toe of putter head 501 (not expressly shown) set within a centered opening (not expressly shown) inside putter head 501. First ligament 505 and second ligament (not expressly shown) may be coupled directly to golf ball 503, or may wrap a circumference of golf ball 503 or extend through a cavity or channel (not expressly shown) bisecting golf ball 503. At the full twelve (12) inch extension of golf ball 505, spherical seat 504 will initiate a retraction of first ligament 505 and a second ligament (not expressly shown), retracting golf ball 503 into an opening (not expressly shown) in putter head 501 as a user brings putter head 501 from second back position 512 through first back position 511 and into neutral position 513.

Note that although an embodiment of the invention has been shown and described in detail herein, along with certain variants thereof, many other varied embodiments that incorporate the teachings of the invention may be easily constructed by those skilled in the art. Benefits, other advantages, and solutions to problems have been described above with regard to specific embodiments. However, the benefits, advantages, solutions to problems, and any element(s) that may cause any benefit, advantage, or solution to occur or become more pronounced are not to be construed as a critical, required, or essential feature or element of any or all the claims. Accordingly, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific form set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the invention. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

United States Patent 7,461,877
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Bailey
December 9, 2008

Bumper protection system

Abstract

A vehicle bumper protection system comprises a control unit, a pneumatically inflatable protective cover and an air pump. The control unit is configured for selectively outputting an inflation signal and a deflation signal. The pneumatically inflatable protective cover is configured for being attached to a bumper of a vehicle and is normally in a deflated condition. The air pump is electrically connected to the control unit and is fluid communicatively connected to the protective cover. The air pump supplies compressed air to the protective cover for inflating the protective cover when the inflation signal is outputted by the control unit. The air pump facilitates deflation of the protective cover when the deflation signal is outputted by the control unit.

Inventors: Bailey; Pauline Elizabeth (Queens Village, NY)
Appl. No.: 11/400,946
Filed: April 10, 2006

Current U.S. Class: 293/142
Current International Class: B60R 19/44 (20060101)
Field of Search: 293/102,107,108,118,126,142 296/187.09,187.03
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

3822076 July 1974 Mercier et al.
4810015 March 1989 McNeil
4815777 March 1989 Campbell
5106137 April 1992 Curtis
5215031 June 1993 Inman et al.
5725265 March 1998 Baber
5810427 September 1998 Hartmann et al.
6056336 May 2000 Balgobin
6106038 August 2000 Dreher
6126214 October 2000 Kim
6443510 September 2002 Gibeau et al.
6497183 December 2002 Demarquilly et al.
6749218 June 2004 Breed
6923483 August 2005 Curry et al.
7036844 May 2006 Hammer et al.
2001/0028173 October 2001 Demarquilly et al.
2003/0020289 January 2003 Dohrmann et al.
2005/0035608 February 2005 Larsen etal.

Primary Examiner: Gutman; H
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Simmons; David O. Galasso & Associates, LP. WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Claims


What is claimed is:

1. A vehicle bumper protection system comprising: a control unit configured for selectively outputting a first control signal and a second control signal; an expandable protective cover configured for being attached to a bumper of a vehicle, wherein said protective cover is normally in a non-expanded condition; and wherein a bumper engagement surface of said protective cover is contoured to mate substantially flush with a mating portion of the bumper; said protective cover includes a license plate exposure feature; and edges of the license plate exposure feature at least partially encompass a license plate mounting region of the bumper for enabling visibility of the license plate mounting region of the bumper when said protective cover is attached to the bumper; and an expansion apparatus connected to the control unit and to said protective cover, wherein the expansion apparatus acts on said protective cover for causing said protective cover to expand to an expanded condition when the first control signal is outputted by the control unit and when the expansion apparatus causes said protective cover to return to the non-expanded condition when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein: the expansion apparatus includes an air pump for supplying compressed air to an interior space of said protective cover; and said compressed air is supplied to the interior space when the first control signal is outputted by the control unit.

3. The system of claim 2 wherein: the expansion apparatus includes an air valve for enabling said compressed air to be released from the interior space of said protective cover; and said compressed air is released from the interior space when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit.

4. The system of claim 3 wherein the air valve is integral with the air pump.

5. The system of claim 1 wherein: the expansion apparatus includes an air pump for supplying compressed air to an interior space of said protective cover; said compressed air is supplied to the interior space when the first control signal is outputted by the control unit; the expansion apparatus includes an air valve for enabling said compressed air to be released from the interior space of said protective cover; and said compressed air is released from the interior space when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit.

6. A vehicle bumper protection system, comprising: a control unit configured for selectively outputting an inflation signal and a deflation signal; a pneumatically inflatable protective cover configured for being attached to a bumper of a vehicle, wherein said protective cover is normally in a deflated condition; a bumper engagement surface of said protective cover is contoured to mate substantially flush with a mating portion of the bumper; said protective cover includes a license plate exposure feature; and edges of the license plate exposure feature at least partially encompass a license plate mounting region of the bumper for enabling visibility of the license plate mounting region of the bumper when said protective cover is attached to the license bumper; an air pump electrically connected to the control unit and fluid communicatively connected to said protective cover, wherein the air pump supplies compressed air to said protective cover for inflating said protective cover when the inflation signal is outputted by the control unit and wherein the air pump facilitates deflation of said protective cover when the deflation signal is outputted by the control unit; and an air valve for enabling said compressed air to be released from the interior space of said protective cover when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit, wherein the air valve is integral with the air pump, wherein the inflation signal is an electrical current supplied to the air pump and wherein the deflation signal is an electrical current supplied to the air valve.

7. The system of claim 6, further comprising: an air valve for enabling said compressed air to be released from the interior space of said protective cover when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit.

8. The system of claim 7 wherein the air valve is integral with the air pump.

9. The system of claim 7 wherein: the inflation signal is an electrical current supplied to the air pump; and the deflation signal is an electrical current supplied to the air valve.

10. A vehicle, comprising: a front bumper, a rear bumper, a first pneumatically inflatable protective cover attached to the front bumper, wherein said first protective cover is normally in a respective deflated condition; a second pneumatically inflatable protective cover attached to the rear bumper, wherein said second protective cover is normally in a respective deflated condition; a control unit manually controllable for selectively outputting an inflation signal and a deflation signal; a first air pump electrically connected to the control unit and fluid communicatively connected to said first protective cover, wherein the first air pump supplies compressed air to said first protective cover for inflating said first protective cover when the inflation signal is outputted by the control unit and wherein the first air pump facilitates deflation of said first protective cover when the deflation signal is outputted by the control unit; and a second air pump electrically connected to the control unit and fluid communicatively connected to said second protective cover, wherein the second air pump supplies compressed air to said second protective cover for inflating said second protective cover when the inflation signal is outputted by the control unit and wherein the second air pump facilitates deflation of said second protective cover when the deflation signal is outputted by the control unit.

11. The system of claim 10, further comprising: a first air valve connected to said first protective cover for enabling said compressed air to be released from an interior space of aid first protective cover when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit; and a second air valve connected to said second protective cover for enabling said compressed air to be released from an interior space of said second protective cover when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit.

12. The system of claim 10 wherein: the first air valve is integral with the first air pump; and the second air valve is integral with the second air pump.

13. The system of claim 10 wherein: a bumper engagement surface of said first protective cover is contoured to mate substantially flush with a mating portion of the first bumper; and a bumper engagement surface of said second protective cover is contoured to mate substantially flush with a mating portion of the second bumper.

14. The system of claim 13 wherein: said first protective cover includes a license plate exposure feature; edges of the license plate exposure feature of said first protective cover at least partially encompass a license plate mounting region of the first bumper for enabling visibility of the license plate mounting region of the first bumper when said first protective cover is attached to the first bumper; said second protective cover includes a license plate exposure feature; and edges of the license plate exposure feature of said second protective cover at least partially encompass a license plate mounting region of the second bumper for enabling visibility of the license plate mounting region of the second bumper when the second protective cover is attached to the second bumper.

15. The system of claim 14, further comprising: a first air valve connected to said first protective cover for enabling said compressed air to be released from an interior space of said first protective cover when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit; and a second air valve connected to said second protective cover for enabling said compressed air to be released from an interior space of said second protective cover when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to protective implements for automobile body panels and bumpers and, more particularly, to selectively controllable protective implements for automobile body panels and bumpers.

BACKGROUND

Vehicles such as cars and light trucks are particularly susceptible to damage sustain from contact with objects while parked or while being parked. Examples of such objects include, but are not limited to, other vehicles, shopping karts, trees, light posts, walls and concrete footings. Such damage is undesirable to a vehicle owner as it can reduce the value of a vehicle, cost considerable money to repair, compromise safety of the vehicle and/or detract from the aesthetic appeal of the vehicle.

It is well known that damage to bumpers of a vehicle often occurs when the vehicle is parked or is being parked. This is particularly true in the case of painted plastic bumpers that are susceptible to having the paint scuffed, chipped or otherwise damaged. In some instances, damage may occur to the bumper of a parked vehicle when another vehicle inadvertently contacts the bumper of the parked vehicle. In other instances, damage is done to the bumper of a vehicle being parked when it inadvertently contacts an object such as, for example, another vehicle, a shopping kart, a tree or plant, a light post, a wall and a concrete footing. While the damage done to a bumper during a single incident, repeated incidents of damage have a cumulative effect that, as a whole, can reduce the value of a vehicle, cost considerable money to repair, compromise safety of the vehicle and/or detract from the aesthetic appeal of the vehicle.

Therefore, a system for protecting a bumper of a vehicle from damage due to contact with objects while the vehicle is parked or being parked and that does so in a manner that overcomes limitations associated with conventional systems for protecting a bumper of a vehicle would be advantageous, desirable and useful.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

Embodiments of the present invention relate to protecting a vehicle bumper from incidental and accidental damage. More specifically, embodiments of the present invention provide for protecting a bumper of a vehicle from damage due to contact with objects while the vehicle is parked or being parked. Such functionality is beneficial and desirous because damage to one or more bumpers of a vehicle can reduce the value of a vehicle, cost considerable money to repair, compromise safety of the vehicle and/or detract from the aesthetic appeal of the vehicle.

In one embodiment of the present invention, a vehicle bumper protection system comprises a control unit, an expandable protective cover and an expansion apparatus. The control unit is configured for selectively outputting a first control signal and a second control signal. The expandable protective cover is configured for being attached to a bumper of a vehicle and is normally in a non-expanded condition. The expansion apparatus is connected to the control unit and to the protective cover. The expansion apparatus acts on the protective cover for causing the protective cover to expand to an expanded condition when the first control signal is outputted by the control unit. The expansion apparatus causes the protective cover to return to the non-expanded condition when the deflation signal is outputted by the control unit.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a vehicle bumper protection system comprises a control unit, a pneumatically inflatable protective cover and an air pump. The control unit is configured for selectively outputting an inflation signal and a deflation signal. The pneumatically inflatable protective cover is configured for being attached to a bumper of a vehicle and is normally in a deflated condition. The air pump is electrically connected to the control unit and is fluid communicatively connected to the protective cover. The air pump supplies compressed air to the protective cover for inflating the protective cover when the inflation signal is outputted by the control unit. The air pump facilitates deflation of the protective cover when the deflation signal is outputted by the control unit.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a vehicle comprises a front bumper, a rear bumper, a first pneumatically inflatable protective cover, a second pneumatically inflatable protective cover, a control unit, a first air pump and a second air pump. The first pneumatically inflatable protective cover is attached to the front bumper. The first protective cover is normally in a respective deflated condition. A second pneumatically inflatable protective cover is attached to the rear bumper. The second protective cover is normally in a respective deflated condition. The control unit is manually controllable for selectively outputting an inflation signal and a deflation signal. The first air pump is electrically connected to the control unit and is fluid communicatively connected to the first protective cover (e.g., via a hose or tube). The first air pump supplies compressed air to the first protective cover for inflating the first protective cover when the inflation signal is outputted by the control unit. The first air pump facilitates deflation of the first protective cover when the deflation signal is outputted by the control unit. The second air pump is electrically connected to the control unit and is fluid communicatively connected to the second protective cover. The second air pump supplies compressed air to the second protective cover for inflating the second protective cover when the inflation signal is outputted by the control unit. The second air pump facilitates deflation of the second protective cover when the deflation signal is outputted by the control unit.

Turning now to specific aspects of the present invention, in at least one embodiment, an air valve is provided for enabling the compressed air to be released from the interior space of the protective cover when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the air valve is integral with the air pump.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the inflation signal includes is an electrical current supplied to the air pump and the deflation signal is an electrical current supplied to the air valve.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a bumper engagement surface of the protective cover is contoured to mate substantially flush with a mating portion of a bumper to which the protective cover is attached.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the protective cover includes a license plate exposure feature and edges of the license plate exposure feature at least partially encompass a license plate mounting region of the bumper for enabling visibility of the license plate mounting region of the bumper when the protective cover is attached to the bumper.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the expansion apparatus includes an air pump for supplying compressed air to an interior space of the protective cover and the compressed air is supplied to the interior space when the first control signal is outputted by the control unit.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the expansion apparatus includes an air valve for enabling the compressed air to be released from the interior space of the protective cover and the compressed air is released from the interior space when the second control signal is outputted by the control unit.

These and other objects, embodiments, advantages and/or distinctions of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification, associated drawings and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing an embodiment of a bumper protection system in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the bumper protection system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view taken along the line 3-3 in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIGS. 1-3 show various aspects of a bumper protection system in accordance with the present invention, which is referred to herein as the bumper protection system 10. The bumper protection system 10 serves to protect a front bumper 12 (i.e., a front bumper portion) and a rear bumper 14 (i.e., a rear bumper portion) of a vehicle 16. The bumper protection system 10 is selectively operable such that it can be user activated while the vehicle 16 is being parked and/or while it is parked and then deactivated while driving the car. While activated, the bumper protection system 10 provides a substantial degree of protection against damage to the front bumper 12 and the rear bumper 14 of the vehicle 16 from incidental and accidental contact with an object such as, for example, another vehicle, a shopping kart, a tree or plant, a light post, a wall and a concrete footing.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-3, the bumper protection system 10 includes a first pneumatically inflatable protective cover (i.e., the first protective cover 18), a second pneumatically inflatable protective cover (i.e., the second protective cover 20), a control unit 22, a first air pump 24 and a second air pump 26. The first protective cover 18 is attached to the front bumper 12 of the vehicle 16 and the second protective cover 20 is attached to the rear bumper 14 of the vehicle 16. It is disclosed herein that the protective covers (18, 20), may be attached via mechanical and/or adhesive means. Additionally, it is disclosed herein that the protective covers (18, 20) may be integrally formed with the bumpers (12, 14).

The first air pump 24 is electrically connected to the control unit 22 via one or more electrical conductors 28 and is connected to the first protective cover 18 via an air hose 30. The second air pump 26 is electrically connected to the control unit 22 via one or more electrical conductors 31 and is connected to the second protective cover 20 via an air hose 32. In this manner, the air pumps (24, 26) are connected to the respective one of the protective covers (18, 20) in a fluid communicatively manner such that compressed air from the air pumps (18,20) can be supplied to the respective one of the protective covers (18, 20). To components being fluid communicatively connected to each other refers to being connected in a manner that allows a fluid (e.g., compressed air) to be supplied from one component to another component in a generally contained manner (i.e., little to no leakage of the fluid).

The control unit 22 is controllable for selectively outputting an inflation signal and a deflation signal, such as via a switch having a first position corresponding to the inflation signal and a second position corresponding to the deflation signal. In one specific embodiment, the inflation signal is an electrical current that is supplied from a power supply 34 (e.g., a chassis grounded battery of the vehicle 16) through the control unit 22 to a respective motor portion (36, 38) of each one of the air pumps (18, 20) and the deflation signal is an electrical current that is provided through the control unit 22 to a respective air valve (40, 42) of each one of the air pumps (24, 26). Each air valve (40, 42) may be integral with the respective one of the air pumps (24, 26) or discretely connected thereto. It is disclosed herein that the control unit 22 may be manually controllable for selectively outputting an inflation signal and a deflation signal or may be controlled by a powertrain computer of the vehicle 16 (e.g., inflation signal provided when the vehicle is in parked and deflation signal provided when the vehicle is in gear).

The electrical current supplied to the respective drive portion (36, 38) of the air pumps drives the respective motor portion (36, 38) of the air pumps (24, 26), which in turn causes compressed air to be supplied to an interior space (e.g., the interior space 44 shown in FIG. 3) of the respective one of the protective covers (18,20) such that the protective covers (18, 20) inflate. The electrical current supplied to the respective air valve (36, 38) of the air pumps (24, 26) moves the respective air valve of the air pumps (24, 26) from a pressure holding position to a pressure release position such that the compressed air within the interior space of the protective covers (18, 20) escapes to the atmosphere, which in turn causes the protective covers (18,20) to deflate.

The protective covers (18, 20) are normally in a respective deflated condition D (FIG. 3) and achieve an inflated condition I (FIGS. 1 and 3) when compressed air is supplied from the air pumps (24, 26). When in the inflated condition I, the protective covers (18, 20) provide a cushion that limits damage to the bumpers (12, 14) when there is contact with another object. When in the deflated condition D, the protective covers (18, 20) are generally flush with the respective bumper (12, 14), thus lessening their aesthetic impact and/or enhancing their aesthetic appeal.

Optionally, to facilitate deflation of the protective covers (18,20), the air pumps (24,26) may be operated for creating a vacuum, thereby generating a suction force for evacuating air from within the interior space of each protective cover (18, 20). Such a vacuum may be generated by applying a reverse polarity voltage to the motor portion (36, 38) of each one of the air pumps (24, 26) relative to the voltage polarity applied for generating compressed air. In such an optional embodiment, the air valves (40, 42) may be omitted, providing that some other means is provided for maintaining suitable air pressure within the interior space of the protective covers (18, 20) when the air pumps (24, 26) are not running.

Discussed above is a means for pneumatically inflating and deflating the protective covers (18, 20). However, it is disclosed herein that a non-pneumatic means may be used for expanding a protective bumper cover in accordance with the present invention. For example, a motor may be used for mechanically causing the protective bumper cover to change from a non-expanded condition to an expanded condition.

It is contemplated herein that a protective bumper cover in accordance with the present invention can be made from a number of different materials and/or in a number of different configurations. An important aspect of these materials and/or configurations is that a bumper cover in accordance with the present invention must be capable of being pneumatically or mechanically expanded to provide a cushioning effect on the case of accidental or incidental contact between a vehicle equipped with the bumper cover and another object. Preferably, but not necessarily, a protective bumper cover in accordance with the present invention is made from a durable polymeric material that is either resiliently inflatable or formed with pleats and/or bellows that facilitate expansion.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 3, a respective bumper engagement surface of each one of the protective covers (18, 20) is contoured to mate substantially flush with a mating portion of the respective bumper (12, 14). This is beneficial as it enhances the aesthetic appeal of the protective bumper covers (18, 20), maintains a relatively low profile for the protective bumper covers (18, 20) and/or distributes applied loads over a relatively large area of the bumpers (12, 14). Furthermore, as shown in FIG. 1, the protective bumper covers (18, 20) each include a respective license plate exposure recess (46, 48) having edges that at least partially encompass a license plate mounting region of the respective bumper (12, 14). The license plate exposure recesses (46, 48) enabling visibility of the license plate mounting region of the respective bumper (12, 14) when the respective protective bumper cover (18, 20) is attached to the respective bumper (12, 14). A license plate exposure recess is one embodiment of a license plate exposure feature in accordance with the present invention. A hole within a protective bumper cover (e.g., in the general shape of a license plate) is another embodiment of a license plate exposure feature in accordance with the present invention.

The protective covers (18, 20) are shown as covering a significant surface area of the respective bumper (12, 14) when in a deflated condition. Optionally, it is disclosed herein that the protective covers (18, 20) may be configured for deploying from a generally unseen position and covering substantially an entire face or surface of the bumpers (12, 14) when the protective covers (18, 20) are fully expanded. The present invention is not limited to a particular non-expanded shape or configuration, a particular non-expanded positioning and/or a particular degree of expansion.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the present invention may be practiced. These embodiments, and certain variants thereof, have been described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice embodiments of the present invention. It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, chemical and electrical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of such inventive disclosures. To avoid unnecessary detail, the description omits certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Monday, February 22, 2010

United States Patent 7,426,791
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Martin
September 23, 2008

Energy saving device for clothes dryer and clothes dryer system comprising same

Abstract

An energy savings apparatus configured for use with a clothes dryer comprising an air duct and a damper assembly. The air duct has a first end and a second end. The damper assembly includes an air duct portion and a damper device mounting on the duct portion. The air duct portion of the damper assembly is attached at a first end thereof to the first end of the air duct. The second end of the air duct portion of the damper assembly is configured for being attached to an air inlet of a heater assembly of a clothes dryer. The damper assembly is configured for selectively enabling air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly from the second end of the air duct and from an air inlet intermediate the ends of the air duct portion of the damper assembly.

Inventors: Martin; Mack V. (Winnfield, LA)
Appl. No.: 11/054,027
Filed: February 9, 2005

Current U.S. Class: 34/607 ; 34/487; 34/493; 34/566; 34/570; 34/608
Current International Class: F26B 21/10 (20060101)
Field of Search: 34/565,566,570,571,90,604,607,608,471,493,201,202,235,86,496,497,476,475,446 432/62 126/616,629,513,522 454/236
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

4043051 August 1977 Lussenden
4137647 February 1979 Clark, Jr.
4279082 July 1981 Commander
4594797 June 1986 Houck, Jr.
6640461 November 2003 Berger

Primary Examiner: Rinehart; Kenneth B
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Assoc. LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Claims


What is claimed is:

1. An energy savings apparatus configured for use with a clothes dryer, comprising: an air duct having a first end and a second end; a damper assembly including an air duct portion and a damper device mounting on the air duct portion, wherein the air duct portion of the damper assembly is attached at a first end thereof to the first end of the air duct, wherein a second end of the air duct portion of the damper assembly is configured for being attached to an air inlet of a heater assembly of a clothes dryer and for selectively enabling air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly from the second end of the air duct and from an air inlet intermediate said ends of the air duct portion of the damper assembly; and an electrically-powered blower unit having an air outlet attached to the second end of the air duct; and a control system attached to a damper device of the damper assembly and to the blower unit; wherein: the damper assembly includes an adapter configured for enabling the second end of the air duct portion of the damper assembly to be attached to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer; the control system includes a temperature-sensing device attached to the air duct adjacent the second end of the air duct; the control system is configured for moving the damper device to a first position and activating the blower unit when a first temperature condition is sensed and for moving the damper device to a second position and deactivating the blower unit when a second temperature condition is sensed; air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from the second end of the air duct when the damper device is in a first position; air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from said intermediate air inlet when the damper device is in the second position; the first temperature condition is a temperature at or above a prescribed level; and the second temperature condition is a temperature below the prescribed level.

2. The energy savings apparatus of claim 1 wherein the second end of the air duct portion the damper assembly includes an adapter configured for enabling the second end of the air duct portion of the damper assembly to be attached to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer.

3. The energy savings apparatus of claim 1 wherein: the damper assembly includes means for manually operating a damper device of the damper assembly; and said means allows air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from the second end of the air duct when said means in a first position; and said means allows air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly through said intermediate air inlet when said means is in the second position.

4. The energy savings apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a control system attached to a damper device of the damper assembly, wherein the control system is configured for sensing air temperature and wherein the control system is configured for moving the damper device to a first position when a first temperature condition is sensed and for moving the damper device to a second position when a second temperature condition is sensed.

5. The energy savings device of claim 4 wherein: air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from the second end of the air duct when the damper device is in a first position; air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from said intermediate air inlet when the damper device is in the second position; the first temperature condition is a temperature at or above a prescribed level; and the second temperature condition is a temperature below the prescribed level.

6. The energy savings apparatus of claim 5 wherein: the control system includes a temperature-sensing device attached to the air duct adjacent the second end of the air duct.

7. The energy savings apparatus of claim 1 wherein the temperature-sensing device and the air duct are jointly configured for enabling the temperature-sensing device to be attached to the air duct adjacent the second end of the air duct.

8. A kit configured for reducing energy consumption of a clothes dryer, comprising: an air duct having a first end and a second end; a damper assembly including an air duct portion and a damper device mounting on the duct portion, wherein the air duct portion of the damper assembly is configured for being attached at a first end thereof to the first end of the air duct, wherein a second end of the air duct portion of the damper assembly is configured for being attached to an air inlet of a heater assembly of a clothes dryer and for selectively enabling air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly from the second end of the air duct and from an air inlet intermediate said ends of the air duct portion of the damper assembly; and an electrically-powered blower unit having an air outlet configured for being attached to the second end of the air duct; and a control system configured for being attached to a damper device of the damper assembly and to the blower unit; wherein: the damper assembly includes an adapter configured for enabling the second end of the air duct portion of the damper assembly to be attached to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer; the control system includes a temperature-sensing device attached to the air duct adjacent the second end of the air duct; the control system is configured for moving the damper device to a first position and activating the blower unit when a first temperature condition is sensed and for moving the damper device to a second position and deactivating the blower unit when a second temperature condition is sensed; air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from the second end of the air duct when the damper device is in a first position; air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from said intermediate air inlet when the damper device is in the second position; the first temperature condition is a temperature at or above a prescribed level; and the second temperature condition is a temperature below the prescribed level.

9. The kit of claim 8 wherein the damper assembly includes an adapter configured for enabling the second end of the air duct portion of the damper assembly to be attached to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer.

10. The kit of claim 8 wherein: the damper assembly includes means for manually operating a damper device of the damper assembly; and said means allows air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from the second end of the air duct when said means in a first position; and said means allows air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly through said intermediate air inlet when said means is in the second position.

11. The kit of claim 8, further comprising: a control system configured for being attached to a damper device of the damper assembly, wherein the control system is configured for sensing air temperature and wherein the control system is configured for moving the damper device to a first position when a first temperature condition is sensed and for moving the damper device to a second position when a second temperature condition is sensed.

12. The kit of claim 11 wherein: air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from the second end of the air duct when the damper device is in a first position; air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from said intermediate air inlet when the damper device is in the second position; the first temperature condition is a temperature at or above a prescribed level; and the second temperature condition is a temperature below the prescribed level.

13. The kit of claim 12 wherein: the control system includes a temperature-sensing device; and the temperature-sensing device and the air duct are jointly configured for enabling the temperature-sensing device to be attached to the air duct adjacent the second end of the air duct.

14. The kit of claim 8 wherein the temperature-sensing device and the air duct are jointly configured for enabling the temperature-sensing device to be attached to the air duct adjacent the second end of the air duct.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to clothes dryers and, more particularly, to energy saving devices for clothes dryers.

BACKGROUND

A clothes dryer works by heating clothes and aerating them through tumbling. In fact, the essence of a clothes dryer is to produce a lot of hot air and continually tumble clothes while exposing them to the hot air. Clearly, this functionality consumes considerable amounts of energy. So much energy that, in many homes, the clothes dryer is the number two consumer of energy--second only to the refrigerator. Because of its relatively high-energy usage, increasing the efficiency of a clothes dryer can dramatically reduce the associated costs of its operation as well as unnecessary waste of natural resources and energy production resources.

Intake air temperature at the heating assembly of a clothes dryer is one factor that determines how efficiently a dryer converts a unit of energy to a given unit of heat. Relatively cold intake air required more energy to heat to a given temperature than does relatively hot air. Similarly, as compared to relatively cold air, relatively hot air is heated to a higher temperature for a given amount of energy than is cold air for the same given amount of energy. The effect of intake air temperature on energy utilization illustrates why ingesting relatively cold air intake air (e.g., indoor air) at the heating assembly of a clothes dryer adversely affects efficiency and performance of the clothes dryer. Therefore, an apparatus that delivers relatively hot air to the heating assembly of a clothes dryer without an associated cost for delivering such heated air is useful and advantageous.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

An energy saving apparatus in accordance with the inventive disclosures made herein directs relatively hot attic air to a clothes for reducing energy consumption and increasing drying performance of the clothes dryer. To provide such energy savings, the apparatus is configured for being attached to and/or incorporated into a clothes dryer and is configured for enabling the dryer to selectively take in relatively hot air from an attic space rather than relatively cool indoor air. Generally speaking, typical indoor air of a climate-controlled environment is about 75.degree. F. and, depending on the season and climate, attic air is often 115.degree. F. or hotter. Ingestion of the relatively hot attic air rather than relatively cool indoor air reduces the amount of work required by a heating element of the clothes dryer and, correspondingly, the energy consumed by the clothes dryer to dry clothes.

At least a portion of the apparatus may be installed during construction of a new structure (e.g., a home) or it may be retrofitted into an existing home. Additionally, at least a portion of the apparatus may be incorporated into a clothes dryer by a manufacturer of the clothes dryer. For the DIY (i.e., do-it-yourself) market, the apparatus may be provided in the form of a DIY kit that is configured for being installed (e.g., retrofitted) by a homeowner or general contractor.

In one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, an energy savings apparatus configured for use with a clothes dryer comprising an air duct and a damper assembly. The air duct has a first end and a second end. The damper assembly includes an air duct portion and a damper device mounting on the duct portion. The air duct portion of the damper assembly is attached at a first end thereof to the first end of the air duct. The second end of the air duct portion of the damper assembly is configured for being attached to an air inlet of a heater assembly of a clothes dryer. The damper assembly is configured for selectively enabling air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly from the second end of the air duct and from an air inlet intermediate the ends of the air duct portion of the damper assembly.

In another embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, a kit configured for reducing energy consumption of a clothes dryer comprises an air duct and a damper assembly. The air duct has a first end and a second end. The damper assembly includes an air duct portion and a damper device mounting on the duct portion. The air duct portion of the damper assembly is configured for being attached at a first end thereof to the first end of the air duct. A second end of the air duct portion of the damper assembly is configured for being attached to an air inlet of a heater assembly of a clothes dryer. The damper assembly is configured for selectively enabling air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly from the second end of the air duct and from an air inlet intermediate the ends of the air duct portion of the damper assembly.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, an electrically-powered blower unit is provided and has an air outlet attached to the second end of the air duct.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the second end of the duct portion of the damper assembly includes an adapter configured for enabling the second end of the duct portion to be attached to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the damper assembly includes means for manually operating a damper device of the damper assembly. The means allows for air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from the second end of the air duct when the means in a first position and for air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly through the intermediate air inlet when the means is in the second position.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, a control system is attached to a damper device of the damper assembly. The control system is configured for sensing air temperature, for moving the damper device to a first position when a temperature at or above a prescribed level is sensed and for moving the damper device to a second position when a temperature below the prescribed level is sensed.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from the second end of the air duct when the damper device is in a first position and is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer from the intermediate air inlet when the damper device is in the second position.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the control system includes a temperature-sensing device attached to the air duct adjacent the second end of the air duct.

In at least one embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the temperature-sensing device and the air duct are jointly configured for enabling the temperature-sensing device to be attached to the air duct adjacent the second end of the air duct.

These and other objects and embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and associated drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment of an energy-savings apparatus in accordance with the inventive disclosures made herein.

FIG. 2 depicts an embodiment of a damper assembly in accordance with the inventive disclosures made herein and as integrated into the energy savings apparatus depicted in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment of an energy-savings apparatus in accordance with the inventive disclosures made herein. The energy-saving apparatus is referred to generally by reference numeral 10 (i.e., the energy-saving apparatus 10) and excludes the clothes dryer 12 and ceiling 14. The energy-saving apparatus 10 is configured for use with the clothes dryer 12 and for reducing energy consumption associated the clothes dryer 12 performing the operation of drying clothes.

The energy-saving apparatus 10 includes an air duct 16, a damper assembly 18, a control system 20 and an electrically-powered blower unit 22. The air duct 16 has a first end 24 attached to a first end 26 of an air duct portion 27 of the damper assembly 18. A second end 28 of the air duct portion 27 of the damper assembly 18 is attached to an air inlet of a heater assembly (not specifically shown) of the clothes dryer 12. Preferably, but not necessarily, the second end 28 of the air duct portion 27 the damper assembly 18 includes an adapter (e.g., an integral adapter) configured for enabling the second end 28 of the air duct portion 27 of the damper assembly 18 to be attached to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer 12. As will be discussed below in more detail in reference to FIG. 2, the damper assembly 18 is configured for selectively enabling air to be routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly from a second end 30 of the air duct 16 and from an air inlet 32 intermediate the ends of the air duct portion 27 of the damper assembly 18 (i.e., the intermediate air inlet 32).

Depending on the type of installation of the apparatus 10 (e.g., new construction or retrofit), the configuration of the apparatus 10 and the resources (e.g., financial resources) available for installing the apparatus 10, the air duct 16 may be located within the walls of a structure or exterior to the walls of the structure. Similarly, the type of installation of the apparatus 10, the configuration of the apparatus 10 and the resources available for installing the apparatus 10 will dictate whether the damper assembly is situated vertically, horizontally, within a wall, exterior to a wall, or even intermediate between the first end 24 and the second end 30 of the air duct 16.

The blower unit 22 has an air inlet 34 and an air outlet 36. The air outlet 36 of the blower unit 22 is attached to the second end 30 of the air duct 16. The blower unit 22 is configured for being mounted in an attic space 38 of a building. When activated (i.e., energized), the blower unit 22 draws air from within the attic space 38 through the air inlet 34 and forcibly blows such air into the air duct 16 through the second end 30 of the air duct 16.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, the damper assembly 18 includes a damper device configured for controlling the routing of air through the air duct portion 27 of the damper assembly 18 (i.e., from where airflow into the duct portion 27 is supplied). The damper device is referred to generally by reference numeral 40 (i.e., the damper device 40). The damper device 40 includes a damper member 42, a shaft 44 attached to the damper member 42 and a J-arm 46 attached to an end of the shaft 44. The shaft 44 is pivotally mounted on the air duct portion 27 of the damper assembly 18 for enabling the damper device 40 to be moved between a first position P1 and a second position P2. When the damper device 40 is in the first position P1, the damper member 42 is engaged over the intermediate air inlet 32 of the air duct portion 27, thereby limiting airflow through the intermediate air inlet 32 and promoting airflow through the first end 26 of the air duct portion 27. When the damper device 40 is in the second position P2, the damper member 42 is substantially blocking off the first end 26 of the air duct portion 27 of the damper assembly 18, thereby limiting airflow through the first end 26 of the air duct portion 27 (i.e., limiting air inlet through the second end 30 of the air duct 16) and promoting airflow through the intermediate air inlet 32.

The control system 20 includes a controller 48, a damper actuator 50, a thermostatic switch assembly 52 and various cables for distributing power and/or signals. A power cord 53 supplies power (i.e., standard 110V line voltage) to the controller 48 and the controller distributes such power accordingly to the thermostatic switch assembly 52, the blower unit 22 and/or the damper actuator 50. A blower unit cable 56 is preferably connected between the controller 48 and the thermostatic switch assembly 52 for enabling power to be provided to the blower unit 22 and for a signal corresponding to the attic air temperature being provided to the controller 48. A damper device cable 58 is connected between the controller 48 and the damper actuator 50 for enabling power to be provided to the damper actuator 50 from the controller 48.

In one embodiment, a temperature-sensing device (e.g., a sensor) integral with the thermostatic switch assembly 52 provides the signal corresponding to the attic air temperature. In another embodiment (not specifically shown), the temperature sensor is attached to the air duct 16 adjacent the second end 30 of the air duct 16. For example, the temperature-sensing device and the air duct 16 may be jointly configured for enabling the temperature-sensing device to be attached to the air duct 16 adjacent the second end 30 of the air duct 16.

The damper actuator 50 is mounted on an exterior surface of the air duct portion 27 of the damper assembly 18 and has a movable actuation member 54 attached to the J-arm 46 of the damper device 40, whereby the damper actuator 50 is configured for moving the damper device 40 between the first position P1 and the second position P2. Examples of the damper actuator 50 include, but are not limited to, a solenoid and a servo. The thermostatic switch assembly 52 is configured for enabling power to be supplied to the blower unit 22 (e.g., a relay for supplying power to the blower unit 22) and for providing a signal that corresponds to the attic air temperature to the controller 48.

The controller 48 is configured for activating the blower unit 22 and moving the damper device 40 from the second position P2 to the first position P1 when the clothes dryer 12 is in operation and the attic air temperature is at or above a prescribed temperature. In one embodiment, the controller 48 includes digital and/or solid state circuitry and corresponding logic for providing such blower activation and damper movement functionalities. Alternately, the controller 48 includes one or more switches and/or relays.

The controller 48 facilitates the damper actuator 50 moving the damper device 40 to the first position P1 and activating the blower unit 22 when a first temperature condition is sensed for the attic air (i.e., the attic air temperature at or above a prescribed temperature) and for moving the damper device 40 to the second position P1 (or enabling it to be biased back to the second position P2) and deactivating the blower unit 22 when a second temperature condition is sensed for the attic air (i.e., the attic air temperature being below the prescribed temperature). Although not specifically depicted, it is disclosed herein that the controller system 20 preferably, but not necessarily, only provides its functionality when the clothes dryer is in operation. It is also disclosed herein that the damper device 40 is preferably, but not necessarily, biased to the second position P2 when the clothes dryer 12 is not in operation and/or when the damper actuator is not energized.

In operation, when the clothes dryer 12 is in operation and the first temperature condition is sensed, attic air is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer 12 from the second end 30 of the air duct (i.e., the damper device 40 is in the first position P1). In this manner, pre-heated air is provided to the heater assembly, thus enabling the air heated by the heater assembly to be heated more efficiently and with less energy. When the clothes dryer 12 is in operation and the second temperature condition is sensed, indoor air (i.e., air within the room where the clothes dryer 12 is located) is routed to the air inlet of the heater assembly of the clothes dryer 12 from the intermediate air inlet 32 of the damper assembly 18. In this manner, the clothes dryer operates in a generally standard fashion (e.g., drawing in and heating indoor room air).

The control system 20 depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 is one embodiment of a means for operating the damper device 40 of the damper assembly 18. In an alternate embodiment (not specifically shown), the control system 20 is configured for enabling blower unit and damper advice functionality to be implemented via an activation switch (i.e., moving the switch from an off position to an on position results in the blower unit 22 turning on and the damper device 40 moving from the second position P2 to the first position P1. In an alternate embodiment (not specifically shown), the control system 20 and the blower unit 22 are omitted (i.e., blower of heater assembly generates airflow through air duct 16 and damper assembly 18) and means for manually controlling routing of air through the air duct 16 and damper assembly 18 is provided. One example of such manual means is a hand-operated control mechanism (e.g., a lever with linkage) connected to the damper device 40 (e.g., to the J-arm 46) for enabling the damper device 40 to be manually moved between first position P1 and the second position P2.

FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment of an apparatus (i.e., assembled components, assemblies, devices, systems, etc) configured for facilitating energy-saving functionality in accordance with the inventive disclosures made herein. In another embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, a kit is provided for enabling such energy-saving functionality to be facilitated. The kit comprises the components, assemblies, devices, systems, etc of the apparatus 12 in a fully and/or partially disassembled format and in a configuration for enabling such components, assemblies, devices, systems, etc. to be interconnected accordingly for enabling such energy-saving functionality to be facilitated.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments, and certain variants thereof, have been described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein. It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, chemical and electrical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of such inventive disclosures. To avoid unnecessary detail, the description omits certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM, WWW.YAHOO.COM, or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Friday, February 19, 2010

United States Patent 7,546,902
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Schwertner
June 16, 2009

Personnel lift apparatus

Abstract

Accordingly, embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein comprise a personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations or from a base elevation to a raised elevation. A moveable lift platform rides within a track provided on a pair of substantially upright side rails. The platform is connected by a flexible metallic cable to an electrically operated winch. The personnel lift eliminates steps and ladders on recreational items or any equipment requiring climbing.

Inventors: Schwertner; Larry Victor (Ballinger, TX)
Appl. No.: 11/593,353
Filed: November 6, 2006
Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application Number Filing Date Patent Number Issue Date
60734526 Nov., 2005

Current U.S. Class: 187/241 ; 182/103; 182/148; 182/69.6; 187/245; 187/406; 414/630; 414/631
Current International Class: B66B 9/16 (20060101); B66B 9/06 (20060101); B66F 11/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 248/297.21 187/241,245,276 182/69.6,37,102-103,148 104/124-127 414/630-631
References Cited [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents

292265 January 1884 Stoddard
2394148 February 1946 Campbell
2714434 August 1955 Peterson
2950948 August 1960 Hardigan et al.
3115211 December 1963 Ostrander, Jr.
3428145 February 1969 Lyon
3614994 October 1971 Goodrum
3672471 June 1972 Badding
4026387 May 1977 Abreu
4183423 January 1980 Lewis
4324317 April 1982 Winkelblech
5273132 December 1993 Sasaki et al.
6244381 June 2001 Ruble
6371449 April 2002 Chamberlain
6640934 November 2003 Edwards
7004288 February 2006 Araki et al.

Primary Examiner: Cuomo; Peter M
Assistant Examiner: Kruer; Stefan

Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates, L.P.
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM

Parent Case Text


CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application having Ser. No. 60/734,526 filed Nov. 7, 2005 entitled "Personnel Lift" having a common applicant herewith.
Claims


What is claimed is:

1. A personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations comprising: two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails, each rail having a track along length of the rail, a top end of the rails secured to an elevated platform member, the rail providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform; the movable load bearing lift platform for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus, the movable lift platform comprising: a substantially horizontal platform floor sized for supportively receiving a standing person onto the platform floor; a rigid back wall having a hole for receiving a cable clamp in a mid portion of the back wall, the back wall secured to a back edge of the platform floor, the wall substantially perpendicular to the platform floor, the back wall extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform; a pair of sidewalls, each secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor, the sidewalls secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall, the sidewalls and back wall forming a rigid frame for structural support to the platform floor, the sidewalls guidably retaining the feet of the standing person on the platform floor; and a pair of flanges having two distally spaced holes therethrough, the holes positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange, the flanges distally spaced across the platform, each flange uniquely secured to an outside face of the opposing sidewalls, wherein each sidewall has only one flange secured thereto; a pair of roller bracket assemblies, each roller bracket assembly comprising: an elongated roller bracket frame having two holes for receiving an axle and two holes for receiving an elongated threaded bolt therethrough, the axle holes proximate opposing end portions of the roller bracket frame, the axle holes extending through opposing sidewalls of the roller bracket frame, the bolt holes distally spaced along and extending through a top and bottom face of the roller bracket frame, the holes in each roller bracket positioned to align with the distally spaced holes in one flange; two axles, each axle received into the axle hole, each axle sized to extend outwards beyond the sidewalls of the roller bracket frame; two pairs of roller wheels, each roller wheel having a bearing for receiving the axle therethrough, each roller wheel rollably secured to opposing ends of the axle, wherein the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably and moveably received onto the track of the rail; and a pair of elongated threaded bolts, each bolt received into the bolt holes of the flange, each bolt having a threaded portion extending outwards beyond the top face of the roller bracket, extending outwards beyond the front face of the rail and extending through the holes of the flanges and secured to the flanges, wherein the moveable load bearing platform is rollably, supportively and moveably secured to the rails by the roller bracket assemblies, wherein the load bearing platform is free to move along and guided by the track of the rails; an electrically motor driven means of raising and lowering the movable platform, the motor driven means comprising: a reversible electric drive motor having an output shaft; a flexible metallic cable having two ends, a first end secured to the back wall of the lift platform; a cable spool sheave for windably receiving and securing a second end of the cable and a portion of a cable thereon, wherein cable is wound onto the spool to raise the moveable platform, wherein cable tension supports the platform at an elevation along the rails; a cable pulley secured to the bottom of the elevated platform near the top end of the rails, wherein the cable routes from the cable spool, over the pulley, then down to secure to the back wall of the lift platform; and a gear reducer having an input shaft and an output shaft, the input shaft joined to the output shaft of the motor, the output shaft of the reducer joined to the cable spool sheave, wherein the motor rotates the sheave through the reducer; at least one substantially upright hand hold bar having a lower portion secured to one flange of the lift platform, the hand hold for providing hand support to a person riding the lift platform; an electrical drive motor control means, the control means operable by the hand of the person riding the lift platform, the control means having raise, lower and stop positions for commanding rotation of the motor driven means; and a power supply means for providing electric power to operate the motor drive means, said power supply means electrically connected to said control means and motor.

2. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 1, wherein: the track of each rail comprises a cavity along length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity, the cavity and slot providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform; the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably, moveably and retentively received into the cavity of the rail; and the elongated threaded bolts of the roller bracket extend outwards through the slot of the rail, and extending through the holes of the flanges of the movable lift platform.

3. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 2, wherein each rail is secured to opposing substantially upright legs of a ladder, wherein the personnel lift eliminates the need for a person to climb the ladder; and the electrically driven means is secured to the elevated platform member.

4. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 3, wherein the drive motor control means comprises an electrical rocker switch secured to one hand hold bar, the rocker switch positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider, the rocker switch having raise, lower and stop positions, the rocker switch being spring loaded to automatically return to the stop position when released.

5. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 4, further comprising: a safety strap having a first end secured to one of the hand hold bars; a latching receptacle secured to another hand hold bar, the latching receptacle for receiving and latchably locking a second end of the safety strap into the receptacle, wherein the safety strap is restrainably operable to prevent the person riding the personnel lift from accidentally falling from the platform of the personnel lift.

6. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 5, wherein the electric drive motor comprises a 12 volt direct current motor; and wherein the power supply means comprises a 12 volt DC power supply such as commonly available on a motor vehicle, farm tractor or automotive storage battery.

7. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 5, wherein the electric drive motor comprises a 120 volt alternating current motor; and wherein the power supply means comprises a 120 volt alternating current power supply.

8. A personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations comprising: two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails, each rail having a track along length of the rail, the rail providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform; the movable load bearing lift platform for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus, the movable lift platform comprising: a substantially horizontal platform floor sized for supportively receiving a standing person onto the platform floor; a rigid back wall having a hole for receiving a cable clamp in a mid portion of the back wall, the back wall secured to a back edge of the platform floor, the wall substantially perpendicular to the platform floor, the back wall extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform; a pair of sidewalls, each secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor, the sidewalls secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall, the sidewalls and back wall forming a rigid frame for structural support to the platform floor, the sidewalls guidably retaining the feet of the standing person on the platform floor; and a pair of flanges having two distally spaced holes therethrough, the holes positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange, the flanges distally spaced across the platform, each flange uniquely secured to an outside face of the opposing sidewalls, wherein each sidewall has only one flange secured thereto; a pair of roller bracket assemblies, each roller bracket assembly comprising: an elongated roller bracket frame having two holes for receiving an axle and two holes for receiving an elongated threaded bolt therethrough, the axle holes proximate opposing end portions of the roller bracket frame, the axle holes extending through opposing sidewalls of the roller bracket frame, the bolt holes distally spaced along and extending through a top and bottom face of the roller bracket frame, the holes in each roller bracket positioned to align with the distally spaced holes in one flange; two axles, each axle received into the axle hole, each axle sized to extend outwards beyond the sidewalls of the roller bracket frame; two pairs of roller wheels, each roller wheel having a bearing for receiving the axle therethrough, each roller wheel rollably secured to opposing ends of the axle, wherein the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably and moveably received onto the track of the rail; and a pair of elongated threaded bolts, each bolt received into the bolt holes of the flange, each bolt having a threaded portion extending outwards beyond the top face of the roller bracket, extending outwards beyond the front face of the rail and extending through the holes of the flanges and secured to the flanges, wherein the moveable load bearing platform is rollably, supportively and moveably secured to the rails by the roller bracket assemblies, wherein the load bearing platform is free to move along and guided by the track of the rails; an electrically motor driven means of raising and lowering the movable platform, the motor driven means comprising: a reversible electric drive motor having an output shaft; a flexible metallic cable having two ends, a first end secured to the back wall of the lift platform; a cable spool sheave for windably receiving and securing a second end of the cable and a portion of a cable thereon, wherein cable is wound onto the spool to raise the moveable platform, wherein cable tension supports the platform at an elevation along the rails; a cable pulley secured to an upper portion of the rails, wherein the cable routes from the cable spooi, over the pulley, then down to secure to the back wall of the lift platform; and a gear reducer having an input shaft and an output shaft, the input shaft joined to the output shaft of the motor, the output shaft of the reducer joined to the cable spool sheave, wherein the motor rotates the sheave through the reducer; at least one substantially upright hand hold bar having a lower portion secured to one flange of the lift platform, the hand hold for providing hand support to a person riding the lift platform; an electrical drive motor control means, the control means operable by the hand of the person riding the lift platform, the control means having raise, lower and stop positions for commanding rotation of the motor driven means; and a power supply means for providing electric power to operate the motor drive means, said power supply means electrically connected to said control means and motor.

9. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 8, wherein: the track of each rail comprises a cavity along length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity, the cavity and slot providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform; the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably, moveably and retentively received into the cavity of the rail; and the elongated threaded bolts of the roller bracket extend outwards through the slot of the rail, and extending through the holes of the flanges of the movable lift platform.

10. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 9, wherein the electrically driven means is secured to a lower portion of the rails of the lift apparatus.

11. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 10, wherein the drive motor control means comprises an electrical rocker switch secured to one hand hold bar, the rocker switch positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider, the rocker switch having raise, lower and stop positions, the rocker switch being spring loaded to automatically return to the stop position when released.

12. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 11, further comprising: a safety strap having a first end secured to one of the hand hold bars; a latching receptacle secured to another hand hold bar, the latching receptacle for receiving and latchably locking a second end of the safety strap into the receptacle, wherein the safety strap is restrainably operable to prevent the person riding the personnel lift from accidentally falling from the platform of the personnel lift.

13. The personnel lift apparatus of claim 12, wherein the electric drive motor comprises a 12 volt direct current motor; and wherein the power supply means comprises a 12 volt DC storage battery.

14. Thepersonnel lift apparatus of claim 12, wherein the electric drive motor comprises a 120 volt alternating current motor; and wherein the power supply means comprises a 120 volt alternating current power supply.
Description


FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to load bearing lift apparatus, and more particularly to electrically driven lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations, or between a base plane and a raised platform.

BACKGROUND

In performing assigned duties workers often need to move between a base level and one or more elevated platforms. For example, this can be the case on say large earth moving or earth transport equipment or on large machinery used in farming operations. In such cases the equipment is normally provided with a fixed rung ladder or with steps that are climbed by the worker or person to move between various elevations. Ladders of both the fixed and portable types are very common, from ladders to reach an elevated platform of a recreational item such as a deer blind to ladders in chemical and manufacturing plants to move between platforms and walkways at various elevations, or to climb to the top of equipment or towers. Additional examples include a ladder to enable a hunter to reach an elevated platform in a deer blind, or to access elevated positions to perform maintenance work on the outside siding of a home or perform roof repairs.

Workers and others climb and descend ladders frequently in the completion of the tasks of their trade, often while carrying tools and other materials. However, repeatedly climbing and descending ladders throughout the work day can be tiring, even more so for people having bad knees or other temporary or permanent physical handicaps and injuries.

Therefore, a personnel lift apparatus having a movable platform configured to raise or lower a person standing on the lift platform between two or more elevations, a personnel lift that makes repetitive moving between elevations less stressful to the human body and reduces the required effort, a personnel lift that eliminates the need to manually climb ladders, a personnel lift that in certain embodiments can be retrofitted onto a fixed or portable ladder, such a personnel lift apparatus would be useful and novel.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

Accordingly, embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein comprise a personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations, with embodiments for fixed ladders as well as portable embodiments.

In a various embodiments of the inventive disclosures made herein a personnel lift apparatus for raising or lowering a standing person between two or more elevations generally comprises two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails. Each rail has a track substantially along the length of the rail. The top end of each of the rails is either supportively resting against, or in cases of fixed ladders secured to, an elevated member such as a platform, tree branch or tree trunk, platform of a deer blind, sidewall of a home, or other elevated supportive member. The plate or other support member, which may be a platform of a recreational item such as a deer blind, a raised walkway in a manufacturing-facility, a leg of a ladder over which the personnel lift is installed or any other number of raised platform-like entities to which a person may need to occasionally climb to or descend from. The track on each rail provides a supportive and retentive guide track for the movable load bearing platform. The movable load bearing lift platform for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus is provided with a substantially horizontal platform floor sized to supportively receive a standing person onto the platform floor. The movable platform has a rigid back wall secured to the back edge of the platform floor. The back wall is substantially perpendicular to the platform floor and extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform to prevent a foot from sliding over the back side of the platform. Sidewalls are secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor and are secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall. The sidewalls together with the back wall form a rigid frame for the structural support of the platform floor. Additionally, the sidewalls guidably retain the feet of the standing person on the platform floor. Each sidewall of the moveable lift platform is provided with a flange, and each flange has two distally spaced holes therethrough. The holes in the flanges are positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange. The flanges are used to secure the movable platform to a roller bracket assembly that rides upon or within the track of each rail. The moveable lift platform includes a pair of roller bracket assemblies secured to opposing side of the lift platform. Each roller bracket assembly comprises an elongated roller bracket frame having two holes for receiving an axle and two holes for receiving an elongated threaded bolt therethrough. The axle holes are located near opposing ends of the roller bracket frame. The axle holes extend through opposing sidewalls of the roller bracket frame. Each roller bracket includes two axles, each axle received into the axle hole discussed above, each axle is sized to extend outwards beyond the sidewalls of the roller bracket frame to have sufficient length to rollably engage a roller wheel at each side of the roller bracket. Each roller bracket includes two pairs of roller wheels, each pair on opposing end of the roller bracket, each roller wheel having a bearing for receiving the axle therethrough, each roller wheel rollably secured to opposing ends of the axle, wherein the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably, moveably received into the track of the rails. A pair of elongated threaded bolts secures the roller bracket to the flange of the lift platform. Each bolt is received into the bolt holes of the flange with each bolt having a threaded portion extending outwards beyond the top face of the roller bracket and continuing to extend outwards beyond the front face of the rail and reaching through the holes in the flanges where they are secured to the flanges by nuts and lock washers, or other, suitable means. This invention is not limited to the use of elongated bolts to secure the roller brackets to the flanges of the lift platform, other means of securing the roller brackets to the lift platforms may be used as would be know to one skilled in the art. With moveable platform secured to the roller bracket as above, the moveable load bearing platform is rollably, supportively and moveably secured to the rails by the roller bracket assemblies, wherein the load bearing platform is free to move along and guided by the track of the rails. The personnel lift platform is driven by an electrical motor drive to accomplish the raising and lowering of the movable platform. The cable sheave and motor may be mounted to the rails of the personnel lift (particularly advantageous in the case of a portable personnel lift), or in the case of a fixed ladder the motor and sheave may be mounted to the underside of an overhead platform. The motor driven means comprises a reversible electric drive motor having an output shaft connected to a gear reducer which transforms the high speed low torque of the motor to low speed high torque needed to raise the personnel lift platform. The output shaft of the gear reducer drives a cable spool sheave. One end of a metallic cable such as steel wire rope cable is connected to and windably received upon the cable spool sheave. The remaining portion of the cable feeds through a pulley located near the top end of the rails and mounted below the elevated platform. From the pulley the cable proceeds down behind the rails to fasten to the cable termination mount secured to the back side of the moveable lift platform. The motor drive winds or unwinds the cable from the spool to raise or lower the moveable platform. The weight of the lift platform and load thereon is transmitted through the cable as tension to cancel the downward force of gravity and support the platform at an elevation along the rails. A substantially upright hand hold bar or opposing hand hold bars (one each side of the platform) are provided having a lower portion secured to one flange of the lift platform. The hand holds providing hand graspable support to a person riding the lift platform so as to stabilize the person on the lift. Mounted to one of the hand hold bar is an electrical drive motor control means, the control means operable by the hand of the person riding the lift platform. The control means has lift platform raise, lower and stop positions for commanding rotation of the motor driven means. A safety belt or strap is provides to prevent the person using the lift from falling off the platform while using the personnel lift. One end of the safety strap is secured to one of the hand hold bars; the opposing end of the safety strap is equipped with a latching device for removably locking into the receptacle on the; opposing hand hold bar. The receptacle is electrically operable to disable operation of the drive motor when the safety belt is not latched in the receptacle and to enable the drive motor control means when the safety belt is latched into the receptacle.

For safety, a brake means engages to prevent the motor driven means from rotating under the weight of the load on the movable platform in the event of a power failure. The brake means releases during commanded operation of the motor driven means then re-engages after the command completes. The brake means is of a fail-safe type, energize to release brake type.

In a second embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the personnel lift apparatus as described in general above is modified such that the track of each rail comprises a cavity along the length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity. The cavity and slot provide a supportive and retentive guide track for the movable load bearing platform. The roller bracket frame and roller wheels are rollably, moveably and retentively received into the above cavity of the rail. The elongated threaded bolts of the roller bracket extend outwards through the slot of the rail and extend through the holes of the flanges of the movable lift platform where they are secured to the flanges, thereby structurally mounting the movable lift platform to the roller bracket assembly to the moveable lift platform.

In a third embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the personnel lift apparatus of the second embodiment is modified to have each rail secured to opposing substantially upright legs of a ladder wherein the personnel lift eliminates the need for a person to climb the ladder.

In a fourth embodiment of the inventive disclosures made herein, the personnel lift apparatus of the third embodiment is modified such that the drive motor control means comprises an electrical rocker switch secured to the hand hold bar of the movable platform. The rocker switch positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider. The rocker switch provides raise, lower and stop positions and the rocker switch is spring loaded to automatically return to the stop position when released, thereby stopping platform movement.

It is an objective of the inventive disclosures made herein to provide an electric personnel lift which is not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or implied by the known prior art.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new personnel lift that makes repetitive moving between elevations less stressful to the human body and reduces the required effort by eliminating the need to manually climb ladders.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new personnel lift that in various embodiments can be retrofitted onto a fixed or portable ladder.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new personnel lift which can be operated in the absence of or unavailability of utility electric power supply, for instance at remote locations in a field on farm equipment, as well as in remote wooded areas by the use of one or more storage batteries to supply power.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new electric personnel lift which has improved safety features due to a fail-safe braking means.

It is another objective of the present inventive disclosures to provide a new electric personnel lift which has improved safety features due to a safety strap which must be extended around the back of the rider on the platform and locked into a receptacle on the hand hold bar to permissively enable the drive motor to operate.

These and other objects of the invention made herein will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and associated drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings show a form of the invention that is presently preferred; however, the invention is not limited to the precise arrangement shown in the drawings.

FIG. 1 depicts a side view of one embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein.

FIG. 1A depicts a side view of an embodiment of a portable personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein

FIG. 2 depicts a top sectional view along A-A of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein showing the roller wheels and roller bracket riding within the rails and the personnel lift rails secured to a face of a fixed or portable ladder.

FIG. 3 depicts a top sectional view along A-A of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein.

FIG. 4 depicts a perspective view of the roller bracket and roller wheels of one embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein.

FIG. 5 depicts an enlargement of the lift platform and roller assemblies of the personnel lift of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In preparation for explaining the details of the present inventive disclosure, it is to be understood by the reader that the invention is not limited to the presented details of the construction, materials and embodiments as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, as the invention concepts are clearly capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and realized in various ways by applying the disclosure presented herein.

Turning now to FIG. 1 together with FIG. 5

FIG. 1 depicts a right side view of one embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. FIG. 5 depicts a right side view enlargement of the lift platform and roller assembly of the personnel lift of FIG. 1. One of two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails 2 is depicted as attached to a front face of fixed ladder 3, the fixed ladder 3 and spaced rails of the personnel lift reaching from a base elevation to the elevated platform 4. An electrically motor driven means of raising and lowering the movable platform, in the depicted case an electric winch 5 is secured to a bottom surface of the elevated platform 4. The movable load bearing lift platform 5 for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus has a substantially horizontal platform floor 6 sized for supportively receiving a standing person onto the platform floor. The rigid back wall 7 of the platform has a cable clamp 8 secured to the back wall in a mid portion of the back wall. The back wall 7 secured to a back edge of the platform floor 6, the back wall extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform. A pair of sidewalls 9, of which only one is illustrated, are secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor 6. The sidewalls are secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall 7 such that the sidewalls and back wall forming a rigid flame for providing structural support to the platform floor while the sidewalls guidably retain the feet of the standing person on the platform floor. A pair of flanges 10 each has two distally spaced holes therethrough, the holes positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange 10. Each flange secured to an outside face of the opposing sidewalls 9, wherein each sidewall has only one flange secured thereto.

A pair of roller bracket assemblies, one per rail, comprise an elongated roller bracket frame 11 having two pairs of roller wheels 12, each pair rollably secured to opposing ends of the roller bracket frame 11 such that the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are free to move along the track of the rail 2. Each rail has a cavity 13 substantially along length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity, the cavity and slot providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform.

Each side of the personnel lift platform has a substantially upright hand hold bar 15 having a lower portion secured to one flange 10 of the lift platform, the hand hold 15 providing hand support to a person riding the lift platform so as to stabilize the rider on the platform. An electrical rocker switch 16 is secured at the top of one of the hand hold bars 15, preferably the right hand hold bar. The rocker switch is positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider. The rocker switch has raise, lower and stop positions on the rocker switch and is of the spring loaded type to automatically return to the stop position when finger grasp is released. Mounted to the hand hold bar 15 below the rocker switch 16 is a belt receptable 30 for latchably receiving a releasable end of a safety belt therein. The opposing end of the safety belt is secured to the hand hold bar 15 on the opposing side of the lift platform from the side having the rocker switch 16. The safety belt is adapted to be secured around the back of a person riding the platform 6 so as to prevent the rider from falling off the platform 6. The winch 5 and rocker switch 16 are disabled until the safety belt is secured into the belt receptacle 30, preventing the personnel lift from being operated until the safety strap is secured.

The wire rope cable 18 from the cable spool on the winch 5 routes over a cable pulley 17 secured to the underside of the elevated platform 4. The cable from the pulley routes down between the rails 2 to mount to the rigid back wall 7 of the movable lift platform 5 by cable termination mount 8, wherein the winch is operated by the rocker switch to windably retract the cable and raise the platform, or to unwind the cable and lower the platform.

Turning now to FIG. 1A together with FIG. 5 presenting a variation of the embodiment presented in FIG. 1 being adapted for use as a portable personnel lift.

FIG. 1A depicts a right side view of the portable embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein.

One of two elongated upright substantially parallel distally spaced rails 2 is depicted, the spaced rails of the personnel lift reaching from a base elevation to the elevated platform, for example a deer blind. An electrically motor driven means of raising and lowering the movable platform, in the depicted case an electric winch 5 is secured to a cross member or plate 31 which mounts and bridges between the rails 2. The movable load bearing lift platform 5 for raising or lowering a person in a standing position on the personnel lift apparatus has a substantially horizontal platform floor 6 sized for supportively receiving a standing person onto the platform floor. The rigid back wall 7 of the platform has a cable clamp 8 secured to the back wall in a mid portion of the back wall. The back wall 7 secured to a back edge of the platform floor 6, the back wall extending above the platform floor so as to guidably retain feet of the standing person on the platform. A pair of sidewalls 9, of which only one is illustrated, are secured to opposing side edges of the platform floor 6. The sidewalls are secured along a rear portion to opposing side edges of the rigid back wall 7 such that the sidewalls and back wall forming a rigid frame for providing structural support to the platform floor while the sidewalls guidably retain the feet of the standing person on the platform floor. A pair of flanges 10 each has two distally spaced holes therethrough, the holes positioned near opposing top and bottom portions of the flange 10. Each flange secured to an outside face of the opposing sidewalls 9, wherein each sidewall has only one flange secured thereto.

A pair of roller bracket assemblies, one per rail, comprise an elongated roller bracket frame 11 having two pairs of roller wheels 12, each pair rollably secured to opposing ends of the roller bracket frame 11 such that the roller bracket frame and roller wheels are free to move along the track of the rail 2. Each rail has a cavity 13 substantially along length of the rail and a slot extending through a front face of the rail, the slot joining with the cavity, the cavity and slot providing a supportive and retentive guide track for a movable load bearing platform. In certain embodiments the rails 2 may by attached to the legs 3 of a ladder as illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 5. In other embodiments, such as the illustrated embodiment in FIG 1A, the personnel lift may be used alone to raise and lower a person on the platform 5 without having or securing the rails 2 to a ladder.

Each side of the personnel lift platform has a substantially upright hand hold bar 15 having a lower portion secured to one flange 10 of the lift platform, the hand hold 15 providing hand support to a person riding the lift platform so as to stabilize the rider on the platform. An electrical rocker switch 16 is secured at the top of one of the hand hold bars 15, preferably the right hand hold bar. The rocker switch is positioned to be easily operated by the hand of the moveable platform rider. The rocker switch has raise, lower and stop positions on the rocker switch and is of the spring loaded type to automatically return to the stop position when finger grasp is released. Mounted to the hand hold bar 15 below the rocker switch 16 is a belt receptable 30 for latchably receiving a releasable end of a safety belt therein. The opposing end of the safety belt is secured to the hand hold bar 15 on the opposing side of the lift platform from the side having the rocker switch 16. The safety belt is adapted to be secured around the back of a person riding the platform 6 so as to prevent the rider from falling off the platform 6. The winch 5 and rocker switch 16 are disabled until the safety belt is secured into the belt receptacle 30, preventing the personnel lift from being operated until the safety strap is secured.

The wire rope cable 18 from the cable spool on the winch 5 routes from the winch 5 up between the rails 2 to a pulley 32 secured to an upper portion of the personnel lift between the rails 13. The cable from the pulley 32 routes down between the rails 2 to mount to the rigid back wall 7 of the movable lift platform 5 by cable termination mount 8, wherein the winch is operated by the rocker switch to windably retract the cable and raise the platform, or to unwind the cable and lower the platform.

FIG. 2 depicts a top sectional view along A-A of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein showing the roller wheels 12 of the roller bracket 11 riding moveably and retentively riding within the substantially upright side rail 2. In this embodiment, the side rail is secured to the front face of the leg 19 of an existing fixed ladder by straps 21, wherein the personnel lift apparatus eliminates the need to climb steps or the ladder to reach an elevated platform. Roller wheels 12 are free to roll on axle 20. Axle 20 rollably secures the roller wheels 12 to the roller bracket frame 11.

FIG. 3 depicts a top sectional view along A-A of FIG. 1 or FIG. 1A of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. In this view both side rails are shown together with the movable platform of the personnel lift. Roller wheels 12 on roller bracket frames 11 are free to roll while retained within the cavity of the side rails 2. Two bolts 14 extend outwards from the roller bracket frame 11 and through holes in the flanges 10 of the moveable personnel lift platform 5. Threaded nuts 21 secure the flanges 10 and lift platform 5 to the roller bracket frames 11. The rigid back wall 7 of the lift platform is provided with a cable termination mount 8 to which the steel wire rope cable of the winch is secured. The flanges 10 are secured to outside surfaces of the platform side walls 9. The substantially horizontal platform floor 6 is secured to the rigid back wall 7 and the side walls 9. The substantially upright hand hold bar 15 has a lower portion secured to the right flange 10 of the lift platform by the bolts 14 securing the flange 10 to the roller bracket frame.

FIG. 4 depicts a perspective view of the roller bracket and roller wheels of one embodiment of the personnel lift in accordance with the inventive disclosures herein. The roller bracket and wheels are depicted outside of the rail. Roller bracket 11 has two pairs of roller wheels, one pair of roller wheels 12 is rollably secured near opposing ends of the roller bracket 11. Thread bolts 14 extend outwards from the roller bracket 11 to eventually engage with the flanges of the lift platform.

The discussed construction, illustrations and sequence of operation is for one embodiment of the invention, but is in no way limiting to other embodiments. The operating modes may be changed and enhanced without deviating from the intention of this inventive disclosure.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments and certain variants thereof have been described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical, material, electrical and mechanical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. To avoid unnecessary detail, the description omits certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.
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