United States Patent 3664447

A conversion kit for adapting a snowmobile with wheels for traversing dry surfaces including wheel assemblies for replacing the front-end-supporting skiis and in addition to the conventional drive track and movable between a ground engaging position wherein the track is supported spaced upwardly from the surface and a retracted position wherein the wheels are elevated and the track is supported upon the ground. Means are provided to drive the last-named assemblies from the powered track and selectively de-clutch each driven wheel to facilitate steering.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
180/6.7, 180/9.3, 180/9.64
International Classes:
B62D55/04; B62D55/07; B62K5/00; B62K13/00; B62M27/02; (IPC1-7): B62M27/02; B62D11/08
Field of Search:
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US Patent References:
3469553AMPHIBIOUS VEHICLE1969-09-30Gagne
2375959Steering by braking1945-05-15Stolte

Foreign References:
Primary Examiner:
Johnson, Richard J.
Having thus described my invention I claim and desire to secure by Letters Patent of the United States the following

1. In a snowmobile having an elongate frame carrying a motor and adapted to be supported at one end by a pair of skiis releasably attached to steering mechanism including laterally spaced, axially vertical posts journaled on the frame for simultaneous manual rotation about their axes for imparting steering movements to said skiis and supported at the other end by at least one motor driven endless ground supported drive member having a coincidentally rotatable shaft extending laterally of and journaled with respect to said frame, the improvement comprising:

2. The invention according to claim 1 wherein:

3. The invention according to claim 2 wherein:

4. The invention according to claim 3 wherein:

5. The invention according to claim 4 wherein:

6. The invention according to claim 5 wherein:

7. The invention according to claim 5 wherein:

8. The invention according to claim 5 wherein:

9. The invention according to claim 8 wherein:

10. The invention according to claim 8 wherein:

11. The invention according to claim 1 wherein:

My present invention relates broadly to motorized vehicles and more particularly to such vehicles which are convertible for adaptation to the type of terrain upon which the vehicle is required to travel. Specifically, my invention lies in the provision of means for converting a snow-traversing vehicle to a wheeled vehicle for traversing dry surfaces.

Motorized vehicles for traversing snow covered surfaces are becoming more and more prevalent because they are desirable as a means of enjoyment and sport as well as being utilitarian. However, their year-around use is restricted to those areas where snow exists perpetually or in other areas where snow is seasonal to those times when snow is present. The cost of vehicles of this type varies widely, depending upon how sophisticated they become with desireable options; for example; from $400.00 to $1500.00.

Since providing these vehicles with other running gear capable of traversing dry surfaces will extend the areas and times of utility therefore, it is extremely desireable to provide a kit or means for converting the vehicle thereto, which means must be relatively inexpensive, uncomplicated and easily applied and operated.

It is therefore a principle object of the present invention to provide a snowmobile which is readily and manually convertible to traverse alternately snow-covered and dry terrain according to manual selection.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a wheel assembly kit by means of which a conventional snowmobile may be converted from a snow-traversing vehicle to a dry ground-traversing vehicle.

Yet another object of this invention lies in the provision of a wheel assembly kit as aforesaid and means for drivingly connecting at least certain predetermined drive wheels to the conventional power source for mobilizing the vehicle upon a dry surface.

A further object of the invention is to include in the means for drivingly connecting, clutch mechanisms whereby the driving power may be selectively disengaged from driving a selected wheel to facilitate steering actions of the vehicle.

Obviously, the body of the vehicle may be modified to accomplish many desired functions both as a snow and a land traversing vehicle. For example; light hauling, towing, as a golf cart, merely for transportation of persons, etc..

The foregoing and other objects of this invention will become more readily apparent to the reader as he examines the accompanying drawings in conjunction with the following descriptive material comprising the specification wherein like reference numerals are employed to designate like or similar parts. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are illustrative only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. It should also be understood that various changes in construction may be resorted to in the course of manufacture without in any way departing from the spirit of the invention which is to be understood only in accordance with the appended claims. Furthermore, it is to be understood that while the invention is described in one particular association, it is not my intention to unnecessarily limit the applicability of the invention, but I desire to reserve to myself the claimed invention for every use of which it is now known or subsequently discovered to be susceptible.

Other advantages and features of this invention will become apparent from the more detailed description following in whcih like reference numerals are employed to designate similar parts in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a snowmobile converted to a wheel supported vehicle and showing two alternate front or steerable end suspensions;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken on a vertical lateral plane at the axis of one rear wheel;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken upon a vertical longitudinal median plane showing the front caster wheel support;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken upon a vertical longitudinal plane and showing an alternate front steering wheel assembly;

FIG. 5 is a skeletonized perspective view of a conventional steering mechanism;

FIG. 6 is a view partially in section taken upon the lateral vertical plane indicated by line 6--6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary side elevation of the wheeled front portion of the vehicle;

FIG. 8 is a schematic wiring diagram showing the functions of the disengaging drive clutches;

FIG. 9 is a side elevation of one species and its drive mechanism;

FIG. 10 is a bottom view of the divided endless drive member of the vehicle of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is an enlarged lateral vertical section taken substantially on the plane indicated by line 11--11 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 12 is a side elevation of a vehicle having a modified drive; and

FIG. 13 is an enlarged lateral vertical section taken substantially on the plane indicated by line 13--13 of FIG. 12.

Referring now more particularly to the several views of the drawings, reference numeral 20 indicates a rotatable steering column having a radial arm 21 to which a connecting rod 22 is attached for rectilinear movement as the column 20 is rotated back and forth. The connecting rod 22 is attached to a steering lever 23. A tie rod 24 interconnects the steering lever 23 and a companion steering lever 25 at the opposite side of the front end of the vehicle, for coincident steering movements.

The levers 23 and 25 are rigidly fixed to laterally spaced axially vertical steering posts 26--26, which are journaled for rotation by means of thrust bearings 27--27 anchored with respect to the frame 28. At their lower ends the posts 26--26 are each provided with a laterally disposed sleeve 29--29 adapted to receive U-shape yoke 30--30 of the running gear which may comprise a conventional ski assembly 31 or a wheel assembly 32.

The wheel assembly 32 includes spaced standards 33--33 to which are secured at their upper ends said yokes 30--30 and at their lower ends have fixed thereto horizontally disposed outward projecting spindles 34--34 upon which steering wheels 35-35 are journaled.

Radial bearings 36--36 mounted one on each end of a cross axle 37 braced rearwardly by angle braces 38--38 rigidly support the standards against forces created by movement over the terrain. The axle 37 may be slotted along its length at 39 to admit caster wheel support bolt 40 which releasably anchors bracket 41 in the position shown in FIG. 3 wherein the bracket lip 42 mates with slot 43 in support block 44 fixed rigidly to the frame 28. In FIGS. 3 and 7 the caster wheel 45 is shown in its active supporting position. It may, however, be stored by loosening bolt 40, sliding the bracket along the axle 37 to remove lip 42 from slot 43; rotating the bracket 90° to dispose the axis of the caster rod 46 parallel to the axle 37 whereupon the wheels 35 are resting upon the surface.

It will thus be seen that the freely castering wheel 45 or the manually steerable wheels 35 may be selectively employed to support the front end of the vehicle.

The steering column 20 also has switch actuating members 47 which move laterally as the column 20 is rotated. These members 47 actuate clutch control normally closed switches 48 and 49 which are carried by yieldable or spring arms 50--50. As the column 20 is manually turned from a straight forward position (full line disclosure of FIGS. 6 and 8) one member 47 strikes its respective switch, for example 48, and opens it. Further steering movement of column 20 merely flexes the supporting arm 50 to the broken line position. The open switch 48 or 49 opens the circuit including the battery 51 and its respective clutch 52 or 53 to disengage the clutch so that it does not transmit rotary motion therethrough. For example, considering switch 49 as being activated in a right turn, clutch 52 is disengaged so that the right driven wheel 54 (FIG. 2) becomes an idler only while driving power is continued through clutch 53 to wheel 55 (FIG. 1) thus assisting the turn by means of the driving power.

In this simplified version, the powered endless track (not shown) is trained about and drives the shaft 56 through spaced sprockets 57. The shaft 56 is journaled with respect to and supports the frame 28 as seen in FIG. 2. Crank arms 60--60 are journaled on extensions 58--58, one on each end of shaft 56 and have spindles 59-59 journaled at their free ends and supporting the wheels 54 and 55.

The clutches 52 and 53 are mounted to the extensions 58--58 and selectively engage and disengage sprockets 61--61 which through conventional chain and drive sprocket transmissions 62--62 transmit rotary motion to their respective wheels 54 and 55.

The crank arm is secured as by bolts 63 alternately in operating position (full line FIGS. 1 and 2) or the stored inoperative position (phantom FIG. 1) as manually selected.

It may thus be seen mobilization may be accomplished by powering the rear wheels from the single driven track shaft 56 and steering may be facilitated by selective disengagement of clutches 52 and 53 in cooperation with either a front caster wheel 45 or the front manually steered wheels 35.

Referring now to FIGS. 9-11, I have shown an endless drive member 70 which is medially divided to comprise two drive tracks 71--71 driven from the motor, indicated in its entirety by the sprocket S, by the laterally central drive chain 62. In this species, the drive is at the rear shaft 64. In FIGS. 12-13, the drive chain 62 is trained about the identical sprocket 63 but the driving shaft 64 is located at the leading end of the tracks 71--71, while the rear shaft 65 is an idler shaft but is interrelated to the tracks 71--71 by sprockets 66--66 and thus becomes a driven shaft coincidental in rotation to the drive member(s) 70 (71).

Shaft 64, as well as plural intermediate shafts support bogie wheels 67--67 which press the ground engaging flight of the track(s) 70-(71) into face to face traction engagement with the supporting surface, or guide the path of the tracks at their forward and rearward ends.

In addition, shaft 64 is adapted at its outer ends to receive one element 68 of the clutches 52 and 53 while the other element 69 is fixed to a sleeve 72, rotatable about the shaft 64 and carrying a track drive sprocket 73. Since the clutches shown (52 and 53) are electromagnetic they are engageable and disengageable by an electrical impulse or its interruption as is common and well known in the art. In the species shown in FIGS. 9-11 the clutches 52 and 53 are disposed to function between the source of power S and the tracks 71--71. Wheels may then be applied by the methods shown in FIG. 2; utilizing shaft extensions 58 et seq. on the shaft 64.

In the species shown in FIGS. 12 and 13, where shaft 64 is at the leading edge of tracks 71--71, I provide crank arms 80--80 which are releasably secured by bolts 81--81 to rotate concentrically with respect to the rotatable shaft 65 on the frame boss' 82--82 through which the shaft 65 extends. The power is carried to the wheels 54--54 by means of sprockets 61--61, transmissions 62--62, sprockets 83--83, to wheels 54--54 carried by spindles 84--84.

Since clutches 52 and 53 engage and disengage driving power to the spaced tracks 71--71, and they in turn through sprockets 66--66 rotate the medially split shaft 65, the wheels 54 are selectively driven and disengaged to idle in accordance with the actuation of switches 48 and 49 by steering movements of column 20.

Off-on switch 85 is provided in the electrical circuit to permit deactivation of the steering control circuit when the vehicle is not in use.