1. A hydroplane docking system for docking a hydroplane having a planing position during motion and a settled position during rest, comprising: a hydroplane having a first and second pair of supporting wheels mounted thereon, said supporting wheels positioned to form a four-point support for said hydroplane when said wheels contact a supporting surface; a dock having two sides and an open end to permit said hydroplane to enter, said sides each including a substantially horizontal supporting ramp positioned below said supporting wheels when said hydroplane is in a planing position and positioned to contact and support said supporting wheels when said hydroplane is in a settled position.
2. The combination set forth in claim 1, wherein said supporting wheels are mounted on extensions extending outwardly beyond and transversely of said hydroplane and are positioned above the water line of said hydroplane when in the planing position.
3. The combination set forth in claim 1, including first and second pairs of guiding wheels, each mounted in a substantially horizontal plane for engaging guiding surfaces to guide said hydroplane while docking, said dock including guiding surfaces for engaging said guiding wheels when said hydroplane is in a settled position.
4. The combination set forth in claim 1, including first and second pairs of guiding wheels, each mounted in a substantially horizontal plane for engaging guiding surfaces to guide said hydroplane while docking, said dock including guiding surfaces for engaging said guiding wheels when said hydroplane is in a settled position, and wherein said guiding wheels are each mounted adjacent a different one of said supporting wheels.
5. The combination set forth in claim 2, including first and second pairs of guiding wheels, each mounted in a substantially horizontal plane for engaging guiding surfaces to guide said hydroplane while docking, said dock including guiding surfaces for engaging said guiding wheels when said hydroplane is in a settled position, and wherein said guiding wheels are each mounted adjacent a different one of said supporting wheels, and said guiding wheels are mounted on said extensions.
6. The combination set forth in claim 3, wherein each guiding surface is also a supporting surface.
The present invention pertains to hydroplaning systems, and more particularly, to a novel hydroplane configuration and docking system therefor.
The utilization of hydrofoils for elevating a watercraft to thereby eliminate drag is well known in the art. A variety of hydrofoils and hydroplane configurations have been proposed to utilize the benefits derived from the decreased surface contact with the water during planing travel. Substantial difficulties have been encountered in the prior art when the crafts encounter rough or choppy water in that the shock loading transmitted to the craft from the hydrofoils frequently results in excessive stress and failures. Further, hydroplaning craft utilized to carry cargo or substantial weight universally require a conventional hull design in addition to the hydrofoils since at low velocity the upward force on the hydrofoils is insufficient to support the entire weight of the craft. The utilization of the hull structure greatly adds to the weight, complexity and cost of the craft.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a hydroplane system in which a hydroplane incorporates a plurality of planing members or hydrofoils secured to struts which are insulated from the hydroplane body to absorb shock loadings and reduce the stress resulting from rough water.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a hydroplane system without the utilization of a conventional hull.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide a hydroplane system wherein a hydroplane may be slowed and docked without a hull configuration for supporting the weight of the hydroplane when it has settled.
These and other objects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art as the description thereof proceeds.
Briefly, in accordance with the embodiment chosen for illustration, the present invention contemplates the utilization of a body member having depending struts secured thereto through the expediency of resilient fixtures incorporating a coil spring suspension. The struts are arranged at approximately the four corners of the body member, each pair thereof supporting a planing member extending therebetween. To enhance the ability of the resiliently supported struts and planing members to absorb shock loadings, longitudinal braces are pivotally secured between one strut of a pair and a strut of another pair. The body member is formed without a conventional hull and incorporates supporting wheels mounted at the ends of extensions secured transversely of the body member. The supporting wheels extend outwardly beyond the sides of the craft and are positioned above the water line. Guiding wheels are mounted adjacent each supporting wheel and are positioned in a substantially horizontal plane. A dock is provided with a supporting surface positioned below the supporting wheels of the hydroplane when the plane is in a planing position, such that when the forces derived from the planing action of the planing surfaces are insufficient to support the weight of the craft, the craft will settle and the supporting wheels will contact the dock supporting surface. The dock is also provided with guiding surfaces which, in the embodiment chosen for illustration, are formed integrally with the supporting surfaces to permit the guiding wheels to come into contact therewith as the craft settles and guide the craft into proper alignment with the dock.
The present invention may more readily be described by reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a hydroplane system constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, showing the hydroplane aligned with the dock.
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the hydroplane shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of FIG. 1, taken along line 3--3.
FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of FIG. 2, taken along line 4--4.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view, partly in section and enlarged, of a portion of the hydroplane of FIG. 1.
FIG. 6 is a top view of the hydroplane shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of FIG. 5, taken along line 7--7.
Referring now to the drawings, a hydroplane 10 is shown; the hydroplane chosen for illustration is shown without substructure or other usual accouterments that would normally be constructed on the craft to more clearly show the important elements thereof. A body member 12 forms the main supporting element of the hydroplane and specifically supports extensions 13 and 14 positioned tranversely of the body member 12. The extensions 13 and 14 extend tranversely beyond the sides of the body 12 and support supporting rollers 16, 17, 18, and 19 thereon. The supporting rollers 16-19 are positioned sufficiently above the water level to preclude their contacting same and inducing drag while the hydroplane is in its planing position. As used herein, the term "planing position" means the position assumed by the hydroplane at normal cruising velocity with only the principal planing elements in contact with the water, together with the supporting elements connected thereto and the propulsion system immersed in the water.
A plurality of struts 21, 22, 23, and 24 are positioned at the four corners of the body member 12 and depend substantially vertically therefrom. Each of the struts is attached to the body member through a resilient fixture 30. The fixture includes a supporting channel 31 secured to the strut (see FIG. 5). A pair of bolts 32 and 33 extend through the channel 31 through a deck plate 43 secured to the body member 12. Nuts 34 and 35 abut washers 36 and 37 respectively, which act as keepers for coil springs 38 and 39 respectively. Corresponding coil springs 40 and 41 respectively are positioned between the channel 31 and the deck plate 43. The coil springs 38-41 isolate the channel 31 (and thus the strut 21) from the deck plate 43 (and thus the body member 12) from shock loadings that may otherwise be transmitted directly to the body member, resulting in substantially increased stress. This increased stress requires substantial additional weight to strengthen the related members if the isolation achieved by the resilient fixture 30 were not utilized.
Struts 21 and 22 form a pair between which is secured a planing member 45. Similarly, struts 23 and 24 form a pair between which is secured a planing member 46. The planing members may take the form of a hydrofoil or any other conventional planing design. The struts 21-24 each include a pair of auxiliary planing members, such as those shown at 50 and 51 on the strut 21. The auxiliary planing members are positioned between the principal planing members 45 and 46 and the attachment of the corresponding strut to the body member 12. It may therefore be seen that as the hydroplane settles into the water, additional lift is added by the upward thrust imparted to the auxiliary planing members. The overall result is a gradual lowering of the body member while the hydroplane is slowing as a result of the reduction or loss of thrust.
The planing members 45 and 46 are fixed to the ends of their respective struts; however, the front planing member 45 includes a pair of supplementary planing members, such as that shown at 60, which are pivotally secured thereto (FIG. 7). The supplemental foils provide the dual function of increasing or decreasing the angle of attack a to adjust the lift delivered to the front struts 21 and 22 while also providing braking action when the angle a is substantially increased. The supplementary planing surface 60 is adjusted through the utilization of a vertically extending adjusting rod 61 encased within enclosure 62 attached to a pneumatic piston and cylinder arrangement 63. It will be obvious to those skilled in the art that a great variety of energization schemes may be utilized to operate the rod 61, the embodiment chosen for illustration utilizing the pneumatic piston and cylinder 63 connected through a flexible conduit 64 to a source of air under pressure such as storage tanks 66 and 68. It may be seen that the storage tanks provide a dual function of compressed air storage and flotation since the compressed air may be discharged rapidly to lighten the tanks.
A suitable source of motive power, such as an internal combustion engine supported on deck plate 43 beneath a housing 70, is connected through a drive shaft 71 to an outdrive 73. The outdrive 73 may be of conventional design with the exception that the encased drive shaft extending to the propeller 74 is longer than found in conventional drives. The propeller 74 is positioned so that the center line of thrust 76 (see FIG. 2) is positioned below the planing surface 46. The outdrive may be utilized for steerage in the conventional manner while stabilizing rudders 80, 81, 82, and 83 are mounted on the bottom corners of the planing members 45 and 46 adjacent the struts 21-24.
Stabilization of the struts is further achieved through the utilization of strut braces 87 and 88, the former connected pivotally at its ends to struts 21 and 23 while the strut brace 88 is pivotally connected at its ends to the struts 22 and 24.
The longitudinal thrust exerted by the propeller 74 is passed to the planing members 45 and 46 without the force being passed through the body member 12 through the expediency of a thrust transmission member 100. The member 100 is pivotally attached at 101 and 102 to the aft struts of the hydroplane and is secured to the outdrive 73 at pivoted coupling 104. The pivotal axis of the coupling 104 is positioned at the vertical pivotal axis of the outdrive to permit the outdrive limited rotational movement about the axis for steerage purposes without interfering with the positioning of the member 100.
A dock 90 is provided with rails 91 and 92 appropriately spaced to permit the hydroplane 10 to pass therebetween. The rails 91 and 92 include a supporting and guiding surface 93 and 94 respectively which are positioned beneath the supporting wheels 16-19 when the hydroplane 10 is in its planing position. As the speed of the hydroplane decreases and it begins to settle into the water, the supplementary planing surfaces, such as 50 and 51, increases the lift, thereby decreasing the rate of settling. Ultimately, the supporting wheels 16-19 engage the surfaces 93 and 94 of the dock 90 and support the hydroplane while permitting the hydroplane to move longitudinally of the dock 90. In addition to the supporting wheels 16-19, guiding wheels 96, 97, 98, and 99 are secured to the respective ends of the extensions 13 and 14 so that the guiding wheels also contact the surfaces 93 and 94 to longitudinally guide the hydroplane as it travels along the dock. The surfaces 93 and 94 provide the dual function of supporting surface and guiding surface; the utilization of a stepped cross section to the rails 91 and 92 also achieves the same purpose by providing supporting surface and a separate and vertical guiding surface, although the guiding forces derived from such modification is not as precise as the embodiment chosen for illustration.