Title:
LATCH FOR VEHICLE DOORS
United States Patent 3695662


Abstract:
A free-wheeling and concealed latch for a vehicle door includes a force transmitting connector pin mounted for controlled floating within slots formed in a locking lever and a contactor, the locking lever being operable to shift the pin within the slot in the contactor between positions coupling and uncoupling the contactor with a pawl for releasing the latch. When the connector pin is in its coupling position, actuation of the contactor causes the pin to shift in one portion of the slot in the locking lever to release the pawl and, when the pin is in its uncoupling position, actuation of the contactor causes the pin to shift within a different portion of the locking lever slot and to pass by the pawl without releasing the latter so that the contactor free-wheels to leave the latch in a locked condition. In one embodiment, the latch is restored automatically to an unlocked condition when the door is closed unless the contactor is first actuated to place the connector pin in a predetermined position in the locking lever slot. Also disclosed are (1) a unique retaining arrangement for preventing the latching element of the latch from tearing out of the latch base in case of an accident; (2) a simplified mounting for a striker-engaging wedge; and (3) a novel arrangement responsive to the position of the wedge for signaling if the door is not fully closed and latched.



Inventors:
PLOUGHMAN LEONARD K
Application Number:
05/073312
Publication Date:
10/03/1972
Filing Date:
09/18/1970
Assignee:
ATWOOD VACUUM MACHINE CO.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
292/DIG.26
International Classes:
E05B65/32; E05B65/20; (IPC1-7): E05C3/26
Field of Search:
292/280,198,216
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3140888Door latch mechanism1964-07-14Di Salvo
2916318Automobile door latch1959-12-08Van Voorhees



Primary Examiner:
Moore, Richard E.
Parent Case Data:


CROSS-REFERENCE TO A RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of my copending application Ser. No. 751,194, filed Aug. 8, 1968, and now abandoned.
Claims:
I claim as my invention

1. In a latch for a door swingable into a fully closed position with respect to a frame, said latch having a base, a latching element mounted on said base to move between latched and unlatched positions, latching mechanism selectively operable to hold said latching element in said latched position and releasable to free the latching element for movement to said unlatched position, the improvement in said latch comprising, an actuator formed with an elongated slot and mounted on said base for movement between normal and operated positions, a locking member disposed side-by-side with said actuator and mounted on said base for movement between unlocked and locked positions, said locking member being formed with a slot with portions of the two slots registering with one another in all positions of said actuator and said locking member, a connector extending through the two slots and slidable within said elongated slot between positions coupling and uncoupling said actuator with said latching mechanism in response to movement of said locking member between said unlocked and locked positions, said connector, when in said coupling position, sliding within said slot in said locking member in response to movement of said actuator to said operated position and engaging the latching mechanism to release the latter from said latching element, and said connector, when in said uncoupling position, sliding within said slot in said locking member and making an idle movement with respect to said latching mechanism upon movement of said actuator to said operated position whereby the actuator free-wheels without releasing the latching mechanism from the latching element.

2. A latch as defined in claim 1 in which said connector comprises a cylindrical pin guided in said slots for controlled floating in response to movement of said locking member and said actuator.

3. A latch as defined in claim 1 further including means operable to move said locking member to the unlocked position when the latching element is moved from said unlatched position to said latched position with the locking member disposed in the locked position, and means operable to return the locking member to the locked position in response to movement of the actuator to the normal position after the latching element has been moved from said unlatched position to said latched position with the locking member initially disposed in said locked position and with the actuator disposed in said operated position.

4. A latch as defined in claim 3 in which said last-mentioned means include said connector and also include a spring biasing said actuator toward said normal position.

5. A latch as defined in claim 1 further including means operable to move said locking member to the unlocked position when the latching element is moved from said unlatched position to said latched position with the locking member disposed in the locked position and with the actuator disposed in said normal position, and means operable to hold said locking member in said locked position after return of said actuator to said normal position following movement of said latching element from said unlatched position to said latched position with the locking member initially disposed in said locked position and with said actuator disposed in said operated position.

6. A latch as defined in claim 1 further including a pin connected to and projecting from said base and mounting said latching element for turning between said latched and unlatched positions about a predetermined axis, a retainer fixed to and projecting from said base toward one side of said latching element, and a catch projecting from said one side of said latching element and disposed radially of said retainer in face-to-face relation with the latter to leave the latching element free to turn while being engageable with said retainer upon initial radial movement of said pin and said latching element relative to said base thereby to restrict further radial movement of the pin and latching element.

7. A latch as defined in claim 1 further including a wedge located on said base to engage the frame and slide in one direction along a predetermined path on the base as an incident to closing of the door, a spring connected between said base and said wedge to urge the latter to slide in the opposite direction along said path and to press the wedge into engagement with said frame, and complementary guides formed integrally with said base and said wedge and interfitting slidably with one another to guide the wedge along said path.

8. A latch as defined in claim 7 further including means on said base positioned in said path for engagement with said wedge upon sliding of the latter through a predetermined distance in said one direction and operable as an incident to such engagement to produce an electrical signal indicative that the door is in the fully closed position.

9. In a latch having a base, a latching element fulcrumed on said base to turn between latched and unlatched positions, a ratchet turnable with said latching element, a pawl engageable with said ratchet to hold the latching element in said latched position and releasable from the ratchet to free the latching element for turning to said unlatched position, the improvement in said latch comprising, an actuator formed with an elongated slot and mounted on said base for turning about a first axis between normal and operated positions, a connector pin guided in said slot for sliding lengthwise of the slot between positions coupling and uncoupling said actuator with said pawl, said pin being operable in said coupling position to move into engagement with said pawl and release the latter from said ratchet in response to movement of said actuator to said operated position thereby to free the latching element for turning to said unlatched position, said connector pin, when in said uncoupling position, making an idle movement with respect to said pawl when said actuator is moved to said operated position whereby the actuator free-wheels without releasing the latching element, a locking lever mounted on said base in side-by-side relation with said actuator for turning between unlocked and locked positions about a second axis extending generally parallel to said first axis, a curved slot formed in said locking lever and receiving said connector pin to shift the latter between said coupling and uncoupling positions in response to the locking lever being turned between said unlocked and locked positions, and said slot in said locking lever being shaped to accommodate movement of said connector pin when the pin is in either said coupling or uncoupling position and is shifted as a result of said actuator being moved to said operated position.

10. A latch as defined in claim 9 in which said slot in said locking lever includes first and second portions arcuately curved about different centers, said first portion curving arcuately about said first axis when said locking lever is disposed in said unlocked position, and said second portion curving arcuately about said first axis when said locking lever is in said locked position.

11. A latch as defined in claim 9 in which said pawl includes a projecting lug, said connector pin underlying said lug when in said coupling position and being spaced laterally from the lug when in said uncoupling position.

12. In a latch having a base, a latching element fulcrumed on said base to turn between latched and unlatched positions, a ratchet turnable with said latching element, a pawl member turnable about a first axis into and out of engagement with said ratchet to hold said latching element in said latched position and to release the latching element for turning to said unlatched position, an actuator member disposed side-by-side with said pawl member and mounted on said base for turning between normal and operated positions about said first axis, an elongated slot formed in one of said members, a locking lever disposed side-by-side with at least one of said members and mounted on said base for turning between unlocked and locked positions about a second and substantially parallel axis, said locking lever also being formed with a slot with portions of the two slots registering with one another in both positions of said locking lever, a connector extending through the two slots and slidable within said elongated slot between positions coupling and uncoupling said pawl member with said actuator member in response to movement of said locking lever between said unlocked and locked positions, said connector being operable in said coupling position to slide within a first portion of said slot in said locking lever and transmit to said pawl member the motion undertaken by said actuator member in moving to said operated position thereby to shift the pawl member out of engagement with the ratchet, said connector, when in said uncoupling position, disconnecting said actuator member and said pawl member whereby the actuator member makes an idle movement with respect to the pawl member when moved to said operated position and free-wheels without shifting the pawl member out of engagement with the ratchet.

13. In a latch having a base, a latching element mounted on said base to move between latched and unlatched positions, latching mechanism selectively operable to hold said latching element in said latched position and releasable to free the latching element for movement to said unlatched position, the improvement in said latch comprising, an actuator formed with an elongated slot and mounted on said base for movement between normal and operated positions, a locking lever disposed side-by-side with said actuator and mounted on said base for movement between unlocked and locked positions, said locking lever also being formed with a slot with portions of the two slots registering with one another in all positions of said actuator and said locking lever, a connector extending through the two slots and slidable within said elongated slot between positions coupling and uncoupling said actuator with said latching mechanism in response to movement of said locking lever between said unlocked and locked positions, said connector, when said locking lever is in said unlocked position, sliding within a first portion of said slot in said locking lever in response to movement of said actuator to said operated position and engaging the latching mechanism to release the latter from said latching element, said connector, when said locking lever is in said locked position, sliding within a second portion of said slot in said locking lever and making an idle movement with respect to said latching mechanism upon movement of said actuator to said operated position whereby the actuator free-wheels without releasing the latching mechanism from the latching element, kick-out means operable to move said locking lever to said unlocked position when said latching element is moved from said unlatched position to said latched position with said locking lever disposed in said locked position, a pocket formed in the second portion of said slot in said locking lever, said connector moving into registry with said pocket when said actuator is in said operated position and when said locking lever is moved to said unlocked position as a result of said latching element being moved to said latched position, and said connector thereafter upon movement of said actuator to said normal position lodging in said pocket and bearing against an edge of the pocket to return said locking lever to said locked position.

14. A latch as defined in claim 13 further including a spring on said base biasing said actuator toward said normal position and operable to press said connector against the edge of said pocket.

15. A latch as defined in claim 13 in which said pin is located out of registry with said pocket when said locking lever is in said locked position and when said actuator is in said normal position.

16. A latch as defined in claim 13 in which said kick-out means comprises a member on the side of said latching element and movable with the latter, said locking lever being formed with an integral portion projecting into the path of said member when the locking lever is in said locked position.

Description:
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a latch of the type commonly used on the doors of automotive vehicles and, more particularly, to a so-called free-wheeling latch which preferably is concealed with all of the parts of the latch housed within the vehicle door. Such a latch generally includes a base carrying a latching element which is engageable with the frame of the vehicle to hold the door in a closed position, a latching mechanism operable to hold the latching element in a latched position and releasable from the latching element to free the latter for movement to an unlatched position, and a manually operable actuator accessible from the outside of the door and normally effective, upon being shifted to an operated position, to trip the latching mechanism and release the latching element from the frame to permit opening of the door.

A force transmitting connector usually is attached to the outside actuator and shifts with the latter to transfer the motion of the actuator to the latching mechanism to effect release of the latching element. To lock the door, the transmitting connector is shifted relative to the outside actuator to a position uncoupling the actuator and the latching mechanism and, as a result, the actuator simply free-wheels or makes an idle motion with respect to the latching mechanism when the actuator is operated with the latch in a locked condition. Conventionally, the transmitting connector also is attached to a locking lever and is shifted between positions coupling and uncoupling the actuator and the latching mechanism as the locking lever is moved between unlocked and locked positions from the outside of the vehicle by a key or from the inside of the vehicle by either a remote handle, a garnish button or other inside member. A free-wheeling latch of this general type is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,511,526.

Summary of the Invention

The primary object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved free-wheeling latch of the above character which, when compared with prior latches of the same general type, requires a fewer number of parts and, at the same time, is of simpler, less expensive and more compact construction. In large, this is achieved through the provision of a novel and simplified transmitting connector which is mounted for controlled floating in uniquely designed slots formed in the locking lever and preferably in the actuator to permit the necessary shifting of the connector by the locking lever and the actuator without requiring separate parts to mount the connector on the actuator and locking lever for such shifting. As a result of the transmitting connector floating in the slots, the number and complexity of the parts needed for mounting the connector are reduced and the connector itself may be reduced in size thus simplifying the latch and enabling its manufacture in a more compact package.

A further object of the invention is to maintain the basic compactness and simplicity of the latch while adapting the latch for keyless locking from the outside of the vehicle if two separate manual operations are performed to preset the latch prior to closing the door.

Still another object is to provide a latch with a slidable wedge for engaging the vehicle frame along with the latching element, and to simplify and reduce the cost of mounting the wedge for sliding on the latch base. An additional object is to utilize the sliding movement of the wedge to cause a signal to be produced when the door is fully closed and latched.

The invention also resides in the provision of a novel safety catch on the latching element for engaging a retainer on the latch base to prevent the latching element from being torn away from the base by the severe forces imposed on the latching element when the vehicle is involved in an accident.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary cross-section taken through a vehicle door equipped with one embodiment of a latch incorporating the novel features of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary cross-section taken substantially along the line 2--2 of FIG. 1 and showing the latch in a locked and latched condition.

FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 2 but showing the actuator free-wheeling upon being moved to its operated position.

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary cross-section taken substantially along the line 4--4 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 2 but showing the latch in an unlocked and latched condition.

FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5 but showing the latch being tripped with the latching element being released from the vehicle frame.

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the latch as seen from the right in FIG. 5.

FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-section taken substantially along the line 8--8 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 9 is an enlarged view of the actuator and the locking lever and showing the parts in a locked condition.

FIG. 10 is a view similar to FIG. 9 but showing the parts in an unlocked condition.

FIG. 11 is a fragmentary cross-section taken substantially along the line 11--11 of FIG. 9.

FIG. 12 is a fragmentary cross-section taken substantially along the line 12--12 of FIG. 10.

FIGS. 13 to 23 illustrate a second embodiment of a latch incorporating the novel features of the present invention, FIG. 13 being a view similar to FIG. 6 but showing the second embodiment with the door in an open position and with one of two necessary manual operations having been performed on the latch to preset the latter for keyless locking.

FIG. 14 is a view of parts illustrated in FIG. 13 but showing the parts with the second manual operation having been performed to preset the latch for keyless locking.

FIG. 15 is a view similar to FIG. 13 but showing the door being closed after the latch has been preset for keyless locking.

FIG. 16 is a view similar to FIG. 15 but showing the door in a fully closed position and showing the parts of the latch in the positions they assume just prior to return on the outside actuator to its normal position.

FIG. 17 is a view similar to FIG. 16 but showing the latch in a fully locked condition.

FIG. 18 is a view similar to FIG. 13 but showing the condition of the parts if an attempt is made to lock the latch with the door only partially closed.

FIG. 19 is a side elevational view of the latch shown in FIG. 13 as seen from the left of FIG. 13.

FIG. 20 is a view similar to FIG. 15 with the parts in the same positions as in FIG. 15 but showing the latch base more clearly.

FIG. 21 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-section taken substantially along the line 21--21 of FIG. 20.

FIG. 22 is a view similar to FIG. 21 but showing the parts in moved positions.

FIG. 23 is a fragmentary perspective view of the latch base shown in FIG. 22.

FIGS. 24 to 30 illustrate a third embodiment of a latch incorporating the novel features of the invention, FIG. 24 being a view showing the third embodiment in an unlocked and latched condition.

FIG. 25 is a fragmentary view similar to FIG. 24 but showing the latch in an unlatched condition and with the first manual operation having been performed on the latch to preset the latter for keyless locking.

FIG. 26 is a cross-section taken substantially along the line 26--26 of FIG. 24.

FIG. 27 is a view similar to FIG. 25 but showing the parts with the second manual operation having been performed to preset the latch for keyless locking.

FIG. 28 is a front elevation of part of the latching mechanism of the latch shown in FIGS. 24 to 27.

FIG. 29 is a front elevation of the actuator of the latch shown in FIGS. 24 to 27.

FIG. 30 is a front elevation of the locking lever of the latch shown in FIGS. 24 to 27.

Description of the Preferred Embodiments

As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration, the invention is embodied in a latch 20 particularly adapted for use with the door 21 of an automotive vehicle and including a pivoted latching element 23 (FIG. 2) carried by the door and coacting with a cylindrical striker pin 24 mounted on a post 25 of the vehicle frame to hold the door in a tightly closed position. In this instance, the latching element is a fork-like member formed with a recess 26 (FIG. 6) for receiving the striker. As the door is swung closed, contact of an edge 27 of the recess with the striker turns the latching element counterclockwise from an unlatched position shown in FIG. 6 to a safety or secondary latched position (not shown) and then to a fully latched position shown in FIG. 5 to prevent separation of the latching element from the striker and thus hold the door closed.

Herein, the latching element 23 is journaled for rotation intermediate the ends of a fixed horizontal pin 29 (FIG. 2) which is anchored at its ends in holes formed through a pair of vertically extending metal base plates 31 and 32 (FIGS. 1, 2 and 7) spaced from and fastened to each other and housed within the door 21. The base plate 31 is attached to the end wall 33 of the door and is formed with flanges 35 and 36 extending between the two plates and along opposite side walls of the door. Most of the parts of the latch are encased within the enclosure formed by the plates and the flanges, and the entire latch is housed within the door such that the latch is concealed without any parts thereof projecting beyond the end wall of the door. A recess 37 (FIG. 3) formed in the base plate 31 and an alined recess (not shown) formed in the door end wall expose the recess 26 of the latching element for latching with the striker 24 when the door is swung to the closed position.

Because of the recess 37, the base plate 31 is left with only a relatively narrow strip 39 (FIG. 3) of metal existing between the pin 29 and the closed end of the recess. During a collision when the vehicle door 21 tends to spring open, severe forces are exerted on the latching element 23 and sometimes pull the pin 29 relative to the base plate 31 in a radial direction (as indicated by the arrow 40 in FIG. 3) such that the pin tends to rip through the narrow metal strip 39 of the base plate. If the pin does tear through the base plate, the door becomes free to open.

According to one aspect of the invention, the likelihood of the pin 29 tearing through the base plate 31 during a collision is lessened by providing a safety catch 41 (FIGS. 3 and 8) on one side of the latching element 23 to engage a retainer 43 on the opposing side of the base plate 31 as an incident to initial radial movement of the pin 29 and the latching element 23 relative to the base plate. As a result of engagement of the catch with the retainer, continued radial movement of the pin and the latching element is prevented or at least restricted thereby to reduce the danger of the pin ripping through the base plate and permitting the door 21 to spring open.

More specifically and as shown in FIGS. 3 and 8, the safety catch 41 herein is in the form of an arcuate rib which advantageously is formed on the side of the latching element 23 as an incident to stamping of the latching element from a blank of metal. The rib is curved about the axis of rotation of the latching element and extends around an arc of approximately 90 degrees opposite the recess 26 in projecting relation with the side of the latching element along the peripheral edge thereof.

While the retainer 43 could be an enlarged washer welded to the inside of the base plate 31 in encircling relation with the pin 29, it preferably, for purposes of reducing the cost of the latch, is in the form of an arcuate bead formed integrally with the base plate. The retainer bead 43 is formed quite simply during stamping of the base plate 31 by indenting a groove 44 (FIG. 8) in the outer side of the base plate to cause inward displacement of the metal to the inside of the plate to create the bead. The bead also is curved about the axis of rotation of the latching element 23 and is disposed just radially inwardly of the rib 41 in underlying face-to-face relation with the latter when the latching element is in its latched position. Because of the arcuate curvatures of the rib and bead, the latching element is free to turn about the pin 29 between its latched and unlatched positions without any interference occurring between the rib and bead.

If the vehicle is involved in an accident and forces are exerted on the latch 20 tending to move the latching element 23 and the pin 29 radially relative to the base plate 31 in the general direction of the arrow 40 (FIG. 3), the underside of the rib 41 presses against and catches the opposing side of the bead 43 upon initial movement of the pin and thereafter limits any further movement of the pin to restrict tearing of the pin through the narrow metal strip 39. The rib and bead thus serve to reinforce the base plate and yet may be formed simply and inexpensively during stamping of the plate and the latching element. Somewhat greater strength is obtained when a separate washer is used in place of the bead to engage the rib but the cost of the latch is increased since the washer must be welded to the base plate in a separate operation.

In addition to being held by the latching element 23, the striker 24 also is engaged on its underside by a wedge 45 (FIG. 2) preferably made of nylon or other hard plastic material and adapted to lodge beneath the striker so that the latter will be held on all sides. The wedge rides on a flange 46 projecting laterally from the base plate 32 and, as the door is closed, engages the striker and slides progressively outwardly along the flange in a predetermined path against the action of a coil spring 47 compressed between the outer end of the wedge and an upturned outer end 49 of the flange. When the door is open, the spring 47 presses the inner end of the wedge against an upturned inner end 50 of the flange.

With most prior latches that have found commercial acceptance, the wedge 45 has been guided for in-and-out sliding by a cylindrical pin projected through a hole in the wedge and anchored at its ends in holes in the ends 49 and 50 of the flange 46. The coil spring 47 then is telescoped over the guide pin between the outer end of the wedge and the outer end 49 of the flange. Because the pin-receiving holes in the flange ends 49 and 50 must be accurately alined with one another to locate the guide pin properly, it has not been feasible to form the holes as an incident to stamping the flange 46, but instead, the holes have been formed by a separate piercing operation after the flange first has been stamped and the flange ends bent upwardly.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the need for using a pin to guide the wedge 45 and the requirement of separately piercing the flange ends 49 and 50 are eliminated by integrally forming complementary and interfitting guides 51 and 52 (FIG. 4) on the base plate 32 and the wedge 45 to hold the wedge in place and to direct the wedge for sliding along its proper path upon engagement with the striker 24. In this instance, the guide 51 is simply a straight elongated rib which extends along the inner side of the base plate 32 intermediate the upper and lower surfaces of the wedge and which is formed by indenting the outer side of the base plate inwardly during stamping of the plate. The rib 51 fits into the guide 52 which herein is a groove corresponding in shape to the rib and molded into the wedge to slidably receive the rib. Thus, as the wedge slides inwardly and outwardly, the edges of the groove 52 ride along the rib 51 to guide the wedge and to prevent vertical movement of the latter thereby serving the functions of the guide pin without requiring the incorporation of such a pin into the latch. The coil spring 47 is telescoped at its inner end into a socket 53 (FIG. 2) molded into the outer end of the wedge and is anchored at its outer end in a hole 54 in the flange end 49. Because the wedge is guided by the rib 51 and the groove 52, the location of the hole 54 is not critical and thus the hole can be formed as an incident to stamping the flange 46 and does not have to be pierced in a separate operation. Accordingly, the cost of the latch is reduced since the guide pin and one manufacturing step are eliminated.

In the assembled latch 20, the wedge 45 is sandwiched between the latching element 23 and the base plate 32 and thus is restricted against sidewise movement. To prevent the wedge from moving sidewise during assembly of the latch, the wedge and the flange 46 preferably are formed with a second pair of complementary and interfitting guides which comprise a tab 55 (FIGS. 2 and 4) molded integrally with and depending from the bottom of the wedge and projecting slidably into a narrow elongated slot 56 punched into the flange. The tab engages the side edges of the slot to prevent lateral movement of the wedge until the latch is assembled to captivate the wedge between the base plate 32 and the latching element.

Advantage is taken of the sliding motion of the wedge 45 as the latter engages the striker 24 to produce a signal indicative of whether or not the door 21 is fully closed and latched. For this purpose, a switch contact 57 (FIG. 2) in the form of a resilient metal strip is located below the flange 46 in the path followed by the tab 55 and is connected by a lead 59 into an electric circuit which includes the vehicle battery 60 (shown schematically in FIG. 2) and a warning light 61 located in the interior of the vehicle, one side of the battery being connected to ground through the vehicle frame. The switch contact 57 is supported cantilever fashion by a plastic cube 63 fastened to the base flange 35 and, by virtue of its resiliency, is urged toward the bottom of the flange 46. When the door is open and the wedge is pressed against the flange end 50 by the spring 47 (see FIG. 6), the free end of the contact 57 directly engages the underside of the metal flange 46 and completes a circuit energizing the warning light 61 since the flange is grounded through the vehicle frame. The contact also engages the flange 46 when the door is ajar with the latching element 23 in its secondary latched position and, as a result, the warning light remains lit to indicate only partial closure of the door. Upon full closure of the door, however, the wedge 45 engages the striker 24 and is slid outwardly along the flange 46 sufficiently far that the plastic tab 55 engages the free end of the switch contact 57 to deflect and hold the latter away from the flange and thereby break the circuit to the warning light so that the light goes out to signal that the door is fully closed and latched. Thus, the tab 55 is used not only to prevent sidewise movement of the wedge but also coacts with the sliding motion undertaken by the wedge to deflect and insulate the switch contact from the flange 46 to enable detection of full closure of the door.

Referring now to FIG. 2, it will be seen that an arcuate peripheral edge of the latching element 23 is formed with a ratchet 65 comprising a pair of angularly spaced teeth 66 and 67 adapted to be engaged by a blocking-type pawl member 69 which, together with the ratchet, constitutes a latching mechanism. The pawl 69 is fulcrumed on a fixed horizontal shaft 70 extending between the base plates 31 and 32 above the pin 29 and is formed with a projecting tooth 71 extending downwardly toward the ratchet 65 and engageable with the teeth 66 and 67. The pawl is urged into engagement with the ratchet by a torsion spring 73 (FIGS. 1 and 7) surrounding the shaft 70 and anchored at its ends to the pawl and to the flange 36. When the pawl engages the ratchet tooth 66, the latching element 23 is held in its secondary latched position (not shown) and, when the pawl engages the tooth 67, the latching element is held in its fully latched position (FIG. 2). Clockwise turning (FIG. 2) of the pawl 69 about the shaft 70 releases the ratchet 65 and enables the latching element to turn clockwise from the latched position shown in FIG. 2 to the unlatched position shown in FIG. 6 to release the striker 24 and permit opening of the door 21. A contractile spring 74 (FIG. 2) is stretched between the flange 36 and the latching element and continuously urges the latter toward the unlatched position so that the latching element automatically turns to such position upon release of the pawl from the ratchet.

To release the pawl 69 from the ratchet 65 and thus unlatch the door 21, an actuator member or contactor lever 75 (FIGS. 3 and 9) is pivoted on the shaft 70 in side-by-side relation with the pawl and is adapted, when swung clockwise about the shaft to an operated position (FIG 6), to cause lifting of the pawl away from the ratchet to release the latching element 23 for turning to its unlatched position under the urging of the spring 74. Clockwise swinging of the contactor 75 about the shaft 70 herein is effected from the outside of the vehicle by turning a lever 76 (FIG. 7) which is pivoted on the plate 32 at 77 and which is formed with a lug 79 overlying one end portion 80 of the contactor. The lever is connected to an outside push button (not shown) or the like by an actuating link 81 and, in response to depression of the push button, turns counterclockwise (FIG. 7) about the pivot 77 into engagement with the contactor to swing the latter clockwise about the shaft 70 to its operated position (FIG 6). The contactor may be similarly operated from the inside of the vehicle by means of a second lever 83 (FIG. 7) pivoted on the flange 35 and formed with a lug 84 underlying the opposite end portion of the contactor. A link 85 connects the lever 83 to the inside door handle (not shown) which is operable to rock the lever to cause the lug 84 to move under and lift the adjacent end of the contactor to swing the contactor clockwise about the shaft 70 to its operated position. To return the contactor to its normal unoperated position, a torsion spring 86 (FIGS. 2 and 7) surrounds the shaft 70 and is anchored at its ends to the flange 36 and the contactor to swing the latter counterclockwise when the outside push button or the inside handle is released.

Coupling of the contactor 75 to the pawl 69 to trip the latch in response to operation of the contactor is effected in the present instance by a force transmitting connector 87 which moves with the contactor and which normally (FIGS. 5, 6 and 10) transfers the clockwise motion of the contactor to the pawl to swing the latter away from the ratchet 65. To lock the latch and prevent unauthorized opening of the door 21, the transmitting connector 87 is shifted to a position (FIGS. 2, 3 and 9) uncoupling the contactor from the pawl so that the contactor, when actuated, simply makes an idle motion or free-wheels with respect to the pawl and thus is ineffective to move the pawl out of engagement with the ratchet. The transmitting connector is shifted from its coupling position (FIG. 10) to its uncoupling position (FIG. 9) in response to turning of a locking lever 90 from an unlocked position to a locked position. The locking lever, which is formed with three angularly spaced arms 91, 92 and 93, (FIG. 9) is disposed side-by-side with the pawl 69 and the contactor 75 and is journaled on a stud 94 anchored to the base plate 32 and paralleling the shaft 70. To turn the locking lever 90 between its locked and unlocked positions shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, respectively, a garnish button (not shown) accessible from the inside of the door is attached to the arm 93 of the lever by a vertical rod 95. Up and down movement of the garnish button turns the locking lever back and forth between the unlocked and locked positions. In addition, the latch may be unlocked from the outside of the vehicle by a key which, upon being turned, operates through a linkage 95a to move the locking lever to the unlocked position. A toggle spring 96 (FIG. 2) anchored between the arm 93 and the base plate 32 snaps back and forth overcenter as the locking lever is turned between its positions and serves to hold the lever yieldably in each of its positions.

As mentioned above, the force transmitting connector 87 moves with the contactor 75 when the latter is actuated and serves to release the pawl 69 from the ratchet 65. In addition, the transmitting connector is moved between its coupling and uncoupling positions as the locking lever 90 is shifted between its unlocked and locked positions. Thus, it is necessary that the transmitting connector be attached to both the contactor and the locking lever in order that the transmitting connector will be moved when the contactor is actuated and when the locking lever is shifted.

According to an important aspect of the invention, the force transmitting connector 87, instead of being attached to the contactor 65 and the locking lever 90 by separate mounting elements, simply floats in uniquely designed slots 97 and 98 formed in the contactor and the locking lever, respectively. When the contactor 65 is actuated, the edge of the slot 97 in the contactor shifts the transmitting connector 87 within the slot 98 and into engagement with the pawl 69. When the locking lever 90 is shifted, the edge of the slot 98 moves the transmitting connector to either its coupling or uncoupling position with the connector floating within the slot 97 and relative to the contactor during such movement. As a result of the slots, the transmitting connector may be moved by either the contactor or the locking lever and may move relative to both the contactor and the locking lever without requiring additional mounting elements for producing and accommodating the movements. Accordingly, the cost, complexity and size of the latch are reduced.

In this instance, the slot 98 (FIG. 9) in the locking lever 90 is formed through the arm 93 and includes upper and lower portions which are of generally arcuate configuration but which are curved about different centers. When the locking lever is in its locked position (see FIG. 9), the upper portion of the slot 98 is substantially concentric with an arc struck about the center of the shaft 70 and, when the locking lever is in its unlocked position (see FIG. 10), the lower portion of the slot is generally concentric with the same arc. The slot 97 in the contactor 75 in this instance is straight, extends generally lengthwise of the contactor, and is located such that portions of the two slots 97, 98 register face-to-face in all positions of the locking lever and the contactor.

As shown most clearly in FIGS. 9 and 11, the force transmitting connector 87 herein is simply a small cylindrical pin which is projected slidably through the slots 97 and 98 in closely spaced relation with the edges of the slots. A washer 99 (FIG. 11) on one end of the connector pin 87 prevents the latter from slipping out of the slot 97 and a similar washer 100 on the other end of the pin retains the pin in the slot 98. In the unlocked position of the locking lever 90 (FIGS. 5 and 10), the pin 87 is disposed in its coupling position in the lower portion of the slot 98 and in the extreme left end of the slot 97 in underlying relation with a lug 101 (FIGS. 5 and 10) formed integrally with and projecting from the pawl 69. Thus, when the contactor 75 is actuated and swung clockwise about the shaft 70, the lower edge of the slot 97 engages the pin 87 to shift the latter into contact with the underside of the lug 101 thereby to lift or swing the pawl 69 away from the ratchet 65 (as shown in FIG. 6 and in phantom in FIG. 10) to release the latching element 23 from the striker 24. As the pin 87 is shifted by the contactor, it simply floats or slides within the lower portion of the slot 98 in the locking lever 90 and, as a result of the curvature of the lower portion, the pin neither binds in the slot nor disturbs the position of the locking lever. Thus, as long as the locking lever is in its unlocked position, the pin couples the contactor to the pawl and transmits the motion of the contactor to the pawl to release the latter when the contactor is actuated.

When the locking lever 90 is swung counterclockwise to its locked position (FIGS. 2 and 9) to lock the door 21, the left edge of the slot 98 engages the connector pin 87 and slides the latter from left to right within the slot 97 to its uncoupling position at the extreme right end of the slot 97 as shown in FIG. 9. As the locking lever is turned, the edges of the slot 98 slide downwardly along the pin such that the pin, upon reaching the uncoupling position, is disposed in the upper portion of the slot 98. In the uncoupling position, the pin is spaced laterally from the lug 101 on the pawl 69 and no longer underlies the lug. Accordingly, when the contactor 75 is actuated to bring the lower edge of the slot 97 into lifting engagement with the pin 87, the latter simply moves upwardly within the slot 98 and passes by the lug 101 (as shown in FIG. 3 and in phantom in FIG. 9) without engaging the lug to trip the pawl and release the latching element 23. The contactor thus makes an idle motion or free-wheels with respect to the pawl and is ineffective to trip the latch and open the door. The door therefore is locked and cannot be opened regardless of whether the contactor is actuated by the outside push button or by the inside door handle. It will be noted that the pin 87 does not bind in the slot 98 or move the locking lever 90 when the contactor free-wheels since the upper portion of the slot 98 curves arcuately about the axis of the shaft 70 in the locked position of the locking lever and leaves the pin free to swing with the contactor.

From the foregoing, it will be apparent that the novel slots 97 and 98 in the contactor 75 and the locking lever 90 enable the connector pin 87 to move with the contactor and relative to the locking lever to release the pawl 69 and to free-wheel and, at the same time, enable the pin to move with the locking lever and relative to the contactor between the coupling and uncoupling positions for purposes of unlocking and locking the latch. Because the connector pin floats in the slots, no other mounting elements are necessary to support the pin for its various movements thus simplifying the construction of the latch and reducing particularly the thickness or fore-and-aft dimension of the latch. Moreover, the slots permit the simple and relative small pin 87 to be used as the force transmitting connector thereby further reducing the cost and complexity of the latch.

Another embodiment of a free-wheeling latch incorporating additional novel features is shown in FIGS. 13 to 19 in which parts corresponding to the parts of the latch shown in FIGS. 1 to 12 are indicated by the same but primed reference numerals. In this instance, the invention contemplates maintaining the basic simplicity described above while providing a latch 20' which is self-cancelling in that it is set automatically in the unlocked condition as the door is closed so as to prevent unintentional locking of the door. The self-cancelling action, however, may be disabled by intentionally presetting the latch by performing two separate presetting operations on the latch prior to closing the door thereby to permit the latch to remain in a locked condition upon closing of the door. The latch thus is of the dual preset type.

More specifically and referring to FIGS. 13 to 19, it will be seen that the elements of the latch 20' are quite similar to the corresponding elements of the latch 20 of the first embodiment. In this instance, however, the arm 92' of the locking lever 90' is formed with a relatively straight lower edge 105 which, in the locked position of the locking lever (FIG. 13), projects downwardly along one side of the latching element 23'. A kick-out lug 106 is attached to the side of the latching element 23' and is disposed in opposing relation with the edge 105 of the locking lever 90' when the latching element is in its unlatched position. Thus, if the locking lever 90' is turned to its locked position (FIG. 13) by accidental depression of the garnish button when the door is open, the kick-out lug 106 will engage the edge 105 of the locking lever as the door is closed and as the latching element 23' is turned counterclockwise to its latched position. As a result of such engagement, the locking lever is turned clockwise about the pin 94' to its unlocked position (the same position as in FIGS. 5 and 10), and the right edge of the slot 98' engages the connector pin 87' to slide the latter from right to left within the slot 97' to its coupling position beneath the pawl lug 101'. Accidental locking of the door thus is prevented since the latch 20' is restored automatically to an unlocked condition if the door is closed with the locking lever 90' having simply been set in its locked position by depression of the garnish button.

The latch 20' will return to a locked state, however, if the outside push button is held in a depressed condition to hold the contactor 75' in its operated position (FIG. 15) during closing of the door with the locking lever 90' disposed in its locked position. When the push button is depressed, the contactor 75' is swung clockwise about the shaft 70' by the lever 76' to raise the connector pin 87' into the extreme upper end portion of the slot 98' as shown in FIG. 14. In this position, the pin 87' is located alongside or in registry with an enlarged pocket 110 formed at one side of the upper end portion of the slot 98'. Then, as the door is closed and the latching element 23' turned to its latched position, the kick-out lug 106 engages the edge 105 of the locking lever 90' as before and starts turning the locking lever to its unlocked position as shown in FIG. 15. During such turning, the right edge of the pocket 110 in the slot 98' engages the connector pin 87' and slides the latter from right to left in the slot 97' toward its uncoupling position. When the locking lever 90' has been turned to its fully unlocked position by the kick-out lug 106, the pin 87' lodges in the pocket 110 and bears against the lower edge thereof as shown in FIG. 16. With the door thus fully closed, the outside push button is released to allow the contactor 75' to swing counterclockwise about the shaft 70' under the urging of the toggle spring 86'. During such swinging of the contactor 75', the upper edge of the slot 97' engages the connector pin 87' and presses the pin downwardly against the lower edge of the pocket 110. The effective force of the torsion spring 86' is greater than that of the spring 96' which biases the locking lever 90' to its unlocked position and thus engagement of the pin 87' with the lower edge of the pocket 110 causes the locking lever to return counterclockwise to its locked position (FIG. 17) thereby shifting the pin to its uncoupling position so that the door becomes locked and cannot be opened without first using the key or shifting the garnish button. Accordingly, the latch 20' unlocks automatically each time the door is closed with the locking lever 90' in a locked position but, if the outside push button is held in a depressed condition to keep the contactor 75' in its operated position during closing of the door, the locking lever is automatically returned to its locked position to effect keyless locking of the door.

To avoid any danger of the pin 87' moving from right to left within the slot 97' and failing to lodge in the pocket 110 as the door is swung closed after the outside push button has been depressed, a small abutment of dimple 120 (FIGS. 20 to 24) is formed on the inside of the base plate 32' to guard against uncontrolled right to left movement of the pin from the positions shown in FIGS. 15 and 20 during closing of the door. The dimple is located to the left side of one end 87a' of the pin (see FIG. 21) when the latter is positioned directly above the pocket as shown in FIGS. 15 and 20 and will engage the end 87a' if the pin should begin to move toward the left within the elongated slot 97' before lodging in the pocket 110. Accordingly, the dimple insures that the pin will lodge in the pocket to cause the locking lever 90' to return to the locked position, and eliminates the danger of the pin missing the pocket and leaving the door in an unlocked condition. Once the pin lodges in the pocket and moves downwardly with the contactor 75' to its uncoupling position shown in FIG. 17, the pin clears the lower edge of the dimple 120 and is free to shift to the extreme left end of the slot 97' to its coupling position (FIG. 22) when the locking lever is manually returned to its unlocked position by the key or the garnish button. In the coupling position, the pin is located to the left of the dimple as shown in FIG. 22 and is free to move upwardly within the curved slot 98' when the contactor is actuated. Thus, the dimple is sized and located to restrict possible movement of the pin only as the door is closed with the locking lever in its locked position and with the contactor held in its operated position by depression of the outside push button.

It will be apparent from the foregoing that the latch 20 of the first embodiment which, as specifically shown herein always remains locked as the door is closed with the locking lever 90 in its locked position, may be made self-cancelling by adding a kick-out lug 106 to the latching element 23. In addition, simply by forming a pocket 110 in the slot 98 and a dimple 120 on the base plate 32 of the latch 20, the latter may be modified to require two preset operations to effect keyless locking. That is, with the addition of the kick-out lug, the pocket and the dimple, the latch 20 will remain locked as the door is closed only if the locking lever is first shifted to its locked position by depression of the garnish button and if the outside push button is held in a depressed condition during closing of the door.

The kick-out lug 106 is used to advantage to prevent locking of the latch 20' (or the latch 20 if the latter is provided with a kick-out lug) if the door is closed only sufficiently far to move the latching element 23' to its secondary latched position in which the pawl 69' engages the tooth 66' of the ratchet 65'. As shown in FIG. 18, the kick-out lug 106 underlies the arm 92' of the locking lever 90' when the latching element is in its secondary latched position. Thus, if an attempt is made to swing the locking lever counterclockwise about the stud 94' to its locked position by depressing the garnish button, the kick-out lug 106 will engage the edge 105 of the arm 92' and will prevent turning of the locking lever to the locked position. Accordingly, the door cannot be locked by the garnish button and the occupant of the vehicle will be warned that the door is ajar and not fully closed and latched.

Unlike the latch 20 of the first embodiment, the latch 20' is capable of being unlocked from the inside of the vehicle when the inside remote handle is operated to unlatch the door. As shown in FIG. 19, the inside operating lever 83' is pivoted on the innermost side of the flange 35' at 115 and is formed with a lug 116 in addition to the lug 84'. The lug 116 underlies the arm 93' of the locking lever 90' and engages the arm to turn the locking lever to the unlocked position upon initial counterclockwise (FIG 19) swinging of the lever 83' by the inside handle. With continued swinging of the lever 83', the lug 84' engages and actuates the pawl 69' to unlatch the door. Thus, the latch 20' may be both unlocked and unlatched by operating the inside door handle and without need of manually pulling up the garnish button. It is evident that the latch 20 of the first embodiment may be modified to operate in this manner and, conversely, the latch 20' may be designed so as to be incapable of being unlocked when the inside handle is operated.

Another embodiment of a free-wheeling, dual preset latch 130 is shown in FIGS. 24 to 30 and is advantageously constructed so that, as the door is closed after the latch has been properly preset for keyless locking, the locking lever 131 remains in its locked position and does not turn first toward its unlocked position and then back to its locked position during closing of the door. As a result, the garnish button remains in a depressed position and does not shift first upwardly and then back downwardly as the door is closed.

In this instance, the locking lever 131 is fulcrumed on a shaft 133 to turn between its locked and unlocked positions and is retained yieldably in each of its positions by a toggle spring 134. A pawl 135 also is mounted to turn on the shaft and is engageable with ratchet teeth 136 and 137 spaced around the edge of a latching element 139. A torsion spring 140 wrapped around the shaft urges the pawl into engagement with the ratchet teeth while a torsion spring 141 urges the latching element to turn toward an unlatched position about a pin 143 which rotatable mounts the latching element. The latch also includes an actuator or contactor 145 which is mounted on a stud 146 to turn between normal and operated positions and which is urged toward its normal position by a torsion spring 147 wrapped around the stud. The locking lever 131, the pawl 135 and the contactor 145 are located generally in side-by-side relation with the contactor being sandwiched between the locking lever and the pawl.

As shown most clearly in FIGS. 28 to 30, the locking lever 131, the pawl 135 and the contactor 145 are formed with slots 149, 150 and 151, respectively. A connector pin 153 projects through all three slots and is retained therein by a washer 154 (FIG. 26) positioned on the end of the pin alongside the locking lever and by a washer 155 positioned between the pawl and the contactor.

The slot 149 (FIG. 30) in the locking lever 131 extends generally vertically, is substantially arcuate and curves generally about the axis of the stud 146 which mounts the contactor 145. The slot 150 (FIG. 28) in the pawl 135 is comparatively large and includes a diagonally extending edge 156 at its right side. Formed in the opposite or left edge of the slot 150 is a pair of upper and lower pockets 157 and 159. The slot 151 (FIG. 29) in the contactor 145 is curved generally about the axis of the shaft 133 and includes left and right upper pockets 160 and 161.

When the latch 130 is in a latched and unlocked condition with the locking lever 131 disposed in its unlocked position as shown in FIG. 24, the pin 153 is disposed (1) in the upper end of the slot 149, (2) in the upper right corner of the slot 150 adjacent the diagonal edge 156 thereof, and (3) adjacent the right upper pocket 161 of the slot 151. Thus, when the contactor 145 is swung clockwise about the stud 146 to release the latch, the upper edge of the pocket 161 engages the pin and forces the latter downwardly against the diagonal edge 156. Accordingly, the pawl 135 is swung clockwise out of engagement with the ratchet tooth 137 and frees the latching element 139 to turn to its unlatched position. The pin simply slides downwardly within the slot 149 and does not disturb the position of the locking lever 131 as the latching element is released.

If the locking lever 131 is turned counterclockwise from its unlocked position shown in FIG. 24 to its locked position, the right edge of the slot 149 engages the pin 153 and shifts the pin from right to left within the slots 150 and 151 to the position shown in FIG. 25. In this position, the pin is disposed (1) in the upper end of the slot 149, (2) adjacent the upper pocket 157 of the slot 150 and (3) adjacent the left upper pocket 160 of the slot 151. Accordingly, if an attempt is made to release the latching element 139 by swinging the contactor 145 clockwise, the upper edge of the pocket 160 engages and forces the pin 153 downwardly, but the pin simply shifts downwardly in the comparatively large slot 150 with an idle motion and without engaging the edges of such slot. Thus, the pin and the contactor free-wheel with respect to the pawl 135 to leave the latter in engagement with the ratchet tooth 137 and to prevent unlatching of the latch. As before, the pin simply slides idly in the slot 149 in the locking lever 131 and does not change the position of the locking lever during free-wheeling. When the locking lever is turned clockwise by the garnish button or key, the left edge of the slot 149 engages the pin and returns the latter to the position shown in FIG. 24.

If the locking lever 131 is accidentally turned to its locked position by depression of the garnish button when the door is open, the pin 153 is shifted to the position shown in FIG. 25, this position being the same as that occupied by the pin when the door is closed and the latch locked. Upon closing of the door, the latching element 139 turns counterclockwise from the position shown in FIG. 25 and the ratchet teeth 136 and 137 sweep past the free end of the pawl 135 to rock the pawl clockwise about the shaft 133. As the pawl is thus rocked, the left edge of the upper pocket 157 engages the pin 153 and moves the pin from left to right. The pin thus engages the right edge of the slot 149 to cause the locking lever 131 to turn clockwise to its unlocked position shown in FIG. 24. Accordingly, the latch will cancel or unlock automatically if the door is shut with the locking lever having been accidentally set in the locked position prior to closing the door.

Keyless locking of the door may be effected by first turning the locking lever 131 to its locked position with the garnish button and then by holding the contactor 145 in its actuated position with the outside push button as the door is closed. As shown in FIG. 27, clockwise turning of the contactor 145 to its actuated position causes the upper edge of the left pocket 160 in the slot 151 to engage and shift the pin 153 downwardly out of the upper pocket 157 in the slot 150 and into the lower portion of the slot 150 to a position approximately midway between the left and right ends thereof and spaced to the right of the lower pocket 159. Thus, when the door is closed and the pawl 135 rocked clockwise by the ratchet teeth 136 and 137, the lower left pocket 159 will not engage the pin and therefore the locking lever 131 will remain in its locked position to effect locking of the door as an incident to closing of the door. It thus will be apparent that the locking lever remains in its locked position during keyless locking and does not turn from its locked position toward its unlocked position and back as in the case of the latch 20'.