Title:
VEHICLE FUELING APPARATUS
United States Patent 3814148


Abstract:
A system for providing maintenance service to vehicles. A vehicle servicing unit is provided with a plurality of fuel sources, means for supplying fuel from the sources to vehicles, and means for automatically registering billing data. A vehicle to be serviced is equipped with an electrical connector including pins that are wired to give a coded identification number, pins that are wired to give a coded fuel-type indication, and pins to activate the system, and a mating connection is provided on the servicing unit. The system has all electrical components enclosed in a pressurized cabinet to ensure that fuel vapors cannot get into the area adjacent those components. The system permits supplying of other items such as lubricating oil, and the billing circuitry ensures that the correct charge is made for such items so that a customer is not billed for items delivered to a previous customer. Means are also provided for withdrawing fuel vapors and overflow liquid fuel from the area adjacent the delivery nozzle to a disposal, rather than allowing them to escape to the atmosphere.



Inventors:
WOSTL W
Application Number:
05/273217
Publication Date:
06/04/1974
Filing Date:
07/19/1972
Assignee:
ATLANTIC RICHFIELD CO,US
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
137/234.6, 141/232, 141/392, 705/413
International Classes:
B60P3/22; B67D7/04; B67D7/22; (IPC1-7): B67D5/00
Field of Search:
141/1,98,231,232,233,248,266,279,284,392 222
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3650303METHOD AND APPARATUS1972-03-21Chambers et al.
3536109CONTROL MECHANISM FOR AUTOMATIC DISPENSING OF MOTOR FUEL1970-10-27Ginsburgh
3527268DEVICE FOR AUTOMATICALLY FILLING VEHICLE TANKS WITH MOTOR FUEL1970-09-08Ginsburgh
3410320Measuring and filling apparatus1968-11-12Ginsburgh et al.



Primary Examiner:
Bell Jr., Houston S.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Clough, Thomas J.
Claims:
What is claimed is

1. Apparatus for supplying fuel to a vehicle having a fuel storage tank with an inlet and recording sales data pertaining to the fuel supplied, said apparatus comprising:

2. vehicle identity means for identifying a particular vehicle to which the identification means is attached; and

3. fuel-type identity means for identifying the type of fuel to be supplied to the particular vehicle; and

4. identification sensing means adapted for connection to said identification means and having:

5. fuel supply means for supplying fuel to a vehicle fuel storage tank in response to simultaneous sensing by said fuel-type identity sensing means of the type of fuel identified by a fuel-type identity means identifying the type of fuel within the fuel supply means and sensing by said vehicle identity sensing means of the identity of a vehicle identified by a vehicle identity means; and

6. recording means associated with the fuel supply means and connected to the identification sensing means for recording the identity of a vehicle sensed by the vehicle identity sensing means, the type of fuel sensed by the fuel-type identity sensing means, and the amount of fuel supplied by said fuel supply means.

7. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which:

8. Apparatus as claimed in claim 2 in which said first connector portion includes an additional connector pin and in which said second connector portion includes a microswitch adapted to be actuated by said additional connector pin when said second connector portion is mated with a first connector portion and in which said identification sensing means includes excitation means responsive to actuation of said microswitch for supplying excitation through said second connector portion to said first connector portion excitation pin.

9. Apparatus as claimed in claim 3 in which said identification sensing means further includes an air supply responsive to actuation of said microswitch for supplying air under pressure to the interior of a connector formed by the mating of said second connector portion and a first connector portion.

10. Apparatus as claimed in claim 4 in which said excitation means includes means for delaying the supplying of excitation through said second connector portion to said first connector portion excitation pin until sufficient air has been supplied to the interior of the connector to flush the connector interior.

11. Apparatus as claimed in claim 3 in which said identification sensing means includes means for deactivating said excitation means following the sensing by said identification sensing means of a vehicle identity to terminate excitation through said second connector portion to said first connector portion excitation pin.

12. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which said recording means includes printing means for printing a bill for fuel supplied to a vehicle.

13. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which said recording means includes additional charge indication means for indicating a charge for additional items supplied to a vehicle.

14. Apparatus as claimed in claim 8 in which said recording means includes means for printing a bill for fuel supplied to a vehicle.

15. Apparatus as claimed in claim 9 in which said printing means includes means for inhibiting the printing of a bill until receipt of an input from said additional charge indication means.

16. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a cabinet substantially enclosing at least a portion of the apparatus, and pressurization means for supplying air under pressure to the interior of said cabinet to prevent entry of vapor thereinto.

17. Apparatus as claimed in claim 11 further comprising means for sensing pressure within said cabinet and means for deactivating said fuel supply means upon sensing of pressure within said cabinet below a preset pressure.

18. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which said fuel supply means includes:

19. Apparatus as claimed in claim 13 in which said closure means comprises resilient plug means and biasing means for biasing said resilient plug means toward said nozzle outlet.

20. Apparatus as claimed in claim 14 in which said defining means includes a first shell member and said resilient plug means includes a second shell member cooperating with said first shell member to provide a rotational interface between said defining means and said closure means.

21. Apparatus as claimed in claim 13 in which said defining means comprises a bellows encircling a portion of said nozzle, first fluid passage means for providing fluid communication from the area adjacent said nozzle outlet to the interior of said bellows, and second fluid passage means connected to said bellows and adapted for connection to a fuel disposal for providing a fluid path from the interior of said bellows to the fuel disposal.

22. Apparatus as claimed in claim 16 in which said closure means comprises a resilient plug means connected to said bellows to be biased by said bellows toward said nozzle outlet.

23. Apparatus as claimed in claim 17 in which said plug means includes a first shell member and said resilient plug means includes a second shell member cooperating with said first shell member to provide a rotational interface between said bellows and said resilient plug means.

24. Apparatus as claimed in claim 13 further comprising a hook connected to said nozzle and adapted to engage a vehicle fuel tank filler pipe for retaining said nozzle outlet within the filler pipe.

25. Apparatus as claimed in claim 13 further comprising a fuel disposal connected to said defining means for receipt of fuel therefrom.

26. Apparatus as claimed in claim 20 further comprising a vehicle having an internal combustion engine and transporting said apparatus, and in which said internal combustion engine comprises said fuel disposal.

27. Apparatus for supplying fuel to a vehicle having a fuel storage tank with an inlet and recording sales data pertaining to the fuel supplied, said apparatus comprising:

28. a second connector portion adapted to mate with said first connector portion and including connector pins adapted to mate with said first connector portion pins to supply excitation to said first connector portion excitation pin and to sense the binary coded representation of the vehicle identification number for sensing the identification of the particular vehicle identified by said first connector portion;

29. fuel supply means for supplying fuel to a vehicle fuel storage tank in response to sensing by said second connector portion of the identity of a vehicle identified by a first connector portion; and

30. recording means associated with the fuel supply means and connected to the second connector portion for recording the identity of a vehicle sensed by the second connector portion and the amount of fuel supplied by said fuel supply means.

31. Apparatus as claimed in claim 22 in which said first connector portion includes an additional connector pin and in which said second connector portion includes a microswitch adapted to be actuated by said additional connector pin when said second connector portion is mated with said first connector portion and in which said vehicle servicing means includes excitation means responsive to actuation of said microswitch for supplying excitation through said second connector portion to said first connector portion excitation pin.

32. Apparatus as claimed in claim 23 in which said vehicle servicing means further includes air supply means responsive to actuation of said microswitch for supplying air under pressure to the interior of a connector formed by the mating of said second connector portion and a first connector portion.

33. Apparatus as claimed in claim 24 in which said excitation means includes means for delaying the supplying of excitation through said second connector portion to said first connector portion excitation pin until sufficient air has been supplied to the interior of the connector to flush the connector interior.

34. Apparatus as claimed in claim 23 in which said vehicle servicing means includes means for deactivating said excitation means following the sensing by said second connector portion of a vehicle identity to terminate excitation through said second connector portion to said first connector portion excitation pin.

35. Apparatus as claimed in claim 22 further comprising a cabinet substantially enclosing at least a portion of the apparatus, and pressurization means for supplying air under pressure to the interior of said cabinet to prevent entry of vapor thereinto.

36. Apparatus as claimed in claim 27 further comprising means for sensing pressure within said cabinet and means for deactivating said fuel supply means upon sensing of pressure within said cabinet below a preset pressure.

Description:
The present invention pertains to the periodic maintenance of vehicles. More particularly, the present invention pertains to a vehicle servicing unit which can readily be provided in the vicinity of vehicles to be serviced, for example in a parking lot, to provide selected vehicles with a supply of essentials such as fuel and lubricant.

Supplying necessary items such as fuel and lubricant to motor vehicles is a minor yet time consuming chore which the users of motor vehicles frequently overlook or postpone until such time as the supply of such necessities is almost exhausted and must be replenished before further use can be made of the vehicle. Thus, for example, a motorist frequently drives his vehicle until the fuel supply is almost exhausted, making it absolutely necessary that the motorist obtain additional fuel before continuing to use the vehicle. Frequently the motorist is about to undertake some task which should have his immediate time and attention, and thus the delay in obtaining supplies such as fuel can be a serious problem rather than simply an inconvenience. Large numbers of people commute to work every day in motor vehicles. Often these vehicles are parked for a considerable length of time in a parking area near the work place of the user. The vehicle operator is considerably aided if his vehicle can be supplied with such things as fuel during the time that it is parked and while he is absent. Not only does this ensure against running out of fuel, it also eliminates the necessity of stopping for fuel while commuting. U.S. Pat. No. 3,650,303 issued Mar. 21, 1972, discloses a system for providing supplies and minor maintenance to vehicles parked, for examplein a parking lot, and while the owners of such vehicles are absent. The disclosure of that patent is incorporated herein by reference.

The present invention relates to improvements on the system disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,650,303. Thus the present invention relates to an apparatus for providing in the vicinity of the vehicles requiring service a vehicle servicing unit including a fuel supply and means for identifying the vehicle to which fuel is supplied, means for ensuring that liquid fuel and fuel vapors do not escape to the atmosphere while vehicles are being serviced. In addition, the system can incorporate intrinsically safe circuits and can provide a non-hazardous operating environment.

In accordance with the present invention, a vehicle to be serviced is identified by a vehicle identification number which is encoded into a connector through which a connection must be established before operation can commence. That connector further identifies the type of fuel which is to be provided to a particular vehicle. The vehicle servicing unit, including the connector, incorporates safety features providing intrinsically safe components in a non-hazardous environment. Thus, for example, the fuel nozzle includes means for withdrawing overflow liquid fuel and fuel vapor from the vicinity of the nozzle outlet to a fuel disposal, rather than allowing them to escape to contaminate the environment. In addition, the vehicle-identifying connector and the servicing unit control console include features assuring that flammable vapors are kept from areas around electrical connections when power is provided thereto.

These and other aspects and advantages of the present invention are more apparent in the following detailed description and claims, particularly when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 illustrates the servicing of vehicles within an area by means of a vehicle servicing unit in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 2 and 3 depict a control panel suitable for use in a system in accordance with the present invention, with FIG. 3 taken along line 3--3 of FIG. 2;

FIGS. 4 and 5 depict a vehicle identification device in accordance with the present invention together with a schematic representation of one embodiment of a vehicle identification unit suitable for incorporation into the present invention;

FIGS. 6 and 7 depict a fuel nozzle and hose suitable for use in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 8 illustrates the providing of fuel in accordance with the present invention in a manner which avoids escape of liquid fuel or fuel vapors into the atmosphere.

FIG. 1 illustrates a parking lot 10 which is typical of those encountered in urban centers and work areas. As shown therein, a number of vehicles 12 are parked in rows 14, generally two vehicles deep with an open aisleway 16 between adjacent rows 14.

A vehicle servicing unit 18 is shown in accordance with the present invention in an aisleway 16 to service the particular vehicles parked adjacent that aisleway. The servicing unit 18 is preferably motorized, either as an integral unit or it could be, for example, mounted behind and connected to a cab-type motoring means. The servicing unit 18 includes a control panel 20, within a side panel 22 of unit 18, a service panel 24 having fuel delivery means such as fuel delivery hoses 26 terminating in nozzle 28. Hoses 26 are of a length sufficient to service the vehicles 12 in the proximate area, for example a length up to about 20 feet or more. Servicing unit 18 can also contain a number of accessories such as cans of lubricating oil, rags, windshield wipers, etc. useful in performing accessory services to a vehicle. Service panel 24 is illustrated as including air hose 30, for supplying air to vehicle tires, and water hose 32, for supplying water for vehicle radiators and batteries.

Servicing unit 18 can be established in the proximate area of a particular vehicle 34 which is identified as a member of the periodic maintenance system, as by means of a sticker 36 located on the rear of vehicle 34. The nozzle of a fuel delivery hose 26 can be inserted into the fuel storage tank filler pipe inlet 38 of the vehicle 34. Adjacent the filler pipe inlet there is a vehicle identifying means 40 adapted to identify the particular vehicle being serviced so that when the fuel nozzle of hose 26 is inserted into the filler pipe, the particular vehicle 34 is automatically identified to the servicing unit 18. As fuel is supplied to the vehicle fuel tanks from servicing unit 18 through hose 26 and nozzle 28, the amount of fuel transferred and its price are recorded on servicing unit 18, together with the vehicle identification number.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate a panel suitable for control panel 20 on vehicle servicing unit 18. Within the side panel 22 of servicing unit 18 an opening 152 is provided. A transparent window 154 of, for example, plastic or shatter-proof glass covers opening 152. Gasket 156 provides a substantially air tight seal between window 154 and side panel 22. Window 154 is held in place by suitable means such as clamps 158 that are secured to side panel 22 by bolts 160. Control unit 162 is within vehicle servicing unit 18 behind window 154. By way of example, servicing unit 18 can be equipped to provide three types of fuel such as leaded gasoline, non-leaded gasoline, and diesel fuel. FIG. 2 illustrates three fuel buttoms 164, 166, and 168 associated respectively with the three types of fuel. Quantity indicator 164a and price indicator 164b show the quantity and price of fuel delivered from the first source associated with fuel button 164. Likewise, indicators 166a, 166b, 168a and 168b show the quantity and price of fuel delivered from sources associated with fuel buttons 166 and 168, respectively. If desired, a single quantity indicator and a single price indicator could be provided to indicate the delivery from all sources, but of course this would limit the system to delivery from one source at a time. If desired, each of the fuel buttons 164, 166 and 168 can be an actuator/indicator having, for example, three alternative indications, one showing that the fuel source associated with that button is available for delivery of fuel, one showing that the associated fuel source is in use, and one showing that the associated source has completed delivery of fuel and is ready for the printing of the associated bill.

Rotary switch 178 is provided to indicate the quantity of lubricant such as oil, which has been supplied to a vehicle and has fixed contacts corresponding with 0, 1, and 2 quarts. The servicing unit attendant operates switch 178 to indicate the quantity of oil that has been provided to a vehicle. After delivery of fuel and, if necessary, lubricating oil has been completed, the associated fuel button 164, 166, or 168 is actuated to initiate printing of a bill. In addition to giving fuel and lubricant quantity and price, this bill shows the vehicle identification number. A copy of the bill is retained within servicing unit 162, while another copy is ejected through bill dispenser 182 for the attendant to place on the serviced vehicle, for example under a windshield wiper.

The interior of vehicle servicing unit 18, surrounding control unit 162, is enclosed by wall 174, which closes against the inner surface of side panel 22. This interior area is pressurized with, for example, air to prevent entry of fuel vapors to the area surrounding the control equipment, thus providing a non-hazardous environment for the control equipment. Quantity indicators 164a, 166a, and 168a, price indicators 164b, 166b, and 168b, and the indications of the positions for switch 178 do not require openings through window 154. Controls 164, 166, 168, and 178 and bill dispenser 182, all require openings through window 154. As illustrated in FIG. 2, these openings are preferably as small as possible, while permitting passage of the respective components therethrough, thus minimizing leakage of the pressurized air from within vehicle servicing unit 18.

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate apparatus for identifying a vehicle being serviced in accordance with the present invention. Vehicle identification means 40 is illustrated in FIG. 4 as one-half of an electrical connector having a plurality of a connector pins therein. Connector portion 40 is permanently attached adjacent the fuel tank inlet 38 on a vehicle 34 which is to be serviced by vehicle servicing unit 18. The other half of the connector 42 is illustrated in FIG. 5 and is provided adjacent the fuel dispensing nozzle 28 of vehicle servicing unit 18. The length of the connection of connector portion 42 to nozzle 28 and the positioning of connector portion 40 on vehicle 34 make it extremely difficult or impossible to insert nozzle 28 other than within fuel tank inlet 38 when connector portion 42 is coupled to connector portion 40.

Connector portions 40 and 42 include a plurality of rows of connector pins. By way of illustration, FIG. 4 shows five rows 44, 46, 48, 50, and 52 of connector pins, with four pins in each row. Each row of connector pins is utilized to provide a binary coded decimal representation of a digit of the vehicle identification number. The connector of FIGS. 4 and 5 can be utilized with a four digit identification number. Thus, the upper four rows 44-50 correspond respectively to the four digits of that identification number. Each pin in a given row corresponds with a binary digit. Thus, each pin in the right-most column 54 of pins on connector portion 40, represents a binary one, each pin in the next column 56 of pins represents binary two, each in the third column 58 a binary four, and each in the left-most column 60 a binary eight. The fifth or bottom row of pins 52 is utlized for other purposes. Thus, in the illustrative examples of FIG. 4, the left-most pin 62 in the bottom row is utilized as the common or excitation input. That pin is electrically connected to each of the pins in rows 44-50 that are utilized to form the binary coded decimal representation of the particular vehicle identification number. In the illustrative example of FIG. 8, the excitation pin 62 is electrically connected to the pins corresponding with binary eight and binary one in row 44, to the pins corresponding with binary two and binary one in row 48, and to the pin corresponding with binary four in the row 50. Accordingly, connector portion 40 is coded to represent vehicle identification number 9034.

The right-most pin 64 of row 52 in connector portion 40 is utilized to actuate microswith 66 in connector portion 42. Thus, microswitch 66 is closed to complete a circuit between its contacts when connector portion 42 is securely connected to the connector portion 40 on a vehicle. The contacts of microswitch 66 are enclosed so that they never are contacted by the atmosphere. Accordingly, all circuits associated with microswitch 66 are intrinsically safe.

Pins 68 and 70 in row 52 of connector portion 40 are utilized to identify the type of fuel which is to be supplied to the vehicle to which the connector portion 40 is attached. Thus, by way of illustration, these pins can be used to provide a binary coded representation of the fuel type. For example, if excitation is supplied only to pin 68, one type of fuel is indicated; if excitation is supplied only to pin 70, a second type of fuel is indicated; and if excitation is supplied to both pin 68 and pin 70, a third type of fuel is indicated. Pins 68 and 70 mate with pins 69 and 71 in connector portion 42 when connector portion 42 is mated with connector portion 40. Fuel-type identification pins 68-71 thus assure that the proper type of fuel is supplied to the vehicle, and so, for example, a vehicle having an engine intended to run on non-leaded gasoline can not be supplied with leaded gasoline.

Connector portion 42 is coupled by cable 72 to control equipment within vehicle servicing unit 18. The vehicle identification and billing circuitry of FIG. 5 includes power source 76 which supplies power to master control relay 78. Microswitch 66 is connected by leads 80 and 82 within cable 72 to master control relay 78 so that when microswitch 66 is actuated by the coupling of connector portion 42 to a connector portion 40 on a vehicle to be serviced, master control relay 78 is actuated to provide power to the remainder of the vehicle identification and billing circuitry. Actuation of microswitch 66 also causes resetting of the associated indicators 164a and 164b, 166a and 166b, or 168a and 168b. Actuation of master control relay 78 provides power through controller 84 and a lead within subcable 85 of cable 72 to excitation pin 74 and thus to excitation pin 62 from which the power is provided to those pins forming the binary coded decimal representation of the vehicle identification number. All the vehicle identification pins of rows 44-50 are connected through subcable 85 to controller 84. Thus, controller 84 is provided with a binary coded decimal representation of the vehicle identification number indicated by the pin connections within connector portion 40. This vehicle identification number is applied by controller 84 to recorder-printer 87.

Leads 73 and 75 within cable 72 connect fuel-type identification pins 69 and 71 to gates 86, 88 and 90 to control the type fuel which can be supplied. Thus, AND gate is connected to receive enabling inputs from fuel-type identification pins 69 and 71, while AND gate 88 is connected to receive an enabling input from fuel-type identification pin 69 and an inhibiting input from fuel-type identification pin 71. Similarly, AND gate 90 is connected to receive an inhibiting input from fuel-type identification pin 71.

Once controller 84 has recorded the vehicle identification number, it provides an input to gates 86, 88, and 90. The gate 86, 88 or 90 corresponding with the type of fuel indicated by the connections to fuel-type identification pins 68 and 70 provides an output. AND gates 86, 88, and 90 have their outputs connected respectively to actuate pump motors 92, 94, and 96 on the pumps for the different fuels available from vehicle servicing unit 18. The pump motor 92, 94 or 96 which receives an output from its associated AND gate 86, 88, or 90 is thus actuated, permitting delivery of fuel from the associated nozzle 28. Preferably, the connections of gates, 86, 88, and 90 to pump motors 92, 94, and 96 include circuitry causing an actuated pump motor to remain actuated after the signals on lines 73 and 75 terminate. If this is so, then once a pump motor is actuated, excitation is removed from pin 74 in connector portion 42, providing further assurance of safety. The servicing unit attendant can then provide fuel from the actuated pump to the vehicle fuel tank. As the fuel is being supplied, the quantity and price are indicated on indicators 164a and 164b, 166a and 166b, or 168a and 168b, as appropriate.

Oil charge control unit 114 is connected to controller 84 to be actuated once the vehicle identification number is sensed. Oil charge switch 178 indicates the quantity of oil which has been supplied to the vehicle. Common contact 112 of switch 178 is connected to oil charge control unit 114 to receive excitaton therefrom. Switch 178 has fixed contacts corresponding with the number of quarts of oil which might be provided to a vehicle. Thus, in the illustrative example of FIGS. 2 and 5, the fixed contacts designated 0, 1, and 2, correspond respectively to zero, 1 or 2 quarts of oil. Each of the fixed contacts is connected to oil charge control unit 114 which provides a representation of the price of that quantity of oil to recorder-printer 87.

Once the servicing of the vehicle is completed, the attendant actuates the fuel button 164, 166 or 168, associated with the hose 26 that has been utilized. A binary coded digital representation of the fuel quantity and price is then applied from the associated indicators 164a and 164b, 166a and 166b, or 168b to recorder-printer 87. If it is desired to be able to pump fuel from more than one source at a time, recorder-printer 87 includes appropriate memory circuitry to store the vehicle identification number associated with each pump or source for merging with the sales data from the quantity and price indicators at the time the bill is printed. Recorder-printer 87 includes circuitry which inhibits its printing operation until a fresh input has been received from oil control unit 114, thus requiring that the attendant actuate switch 178, if only by rotating moving contact 112 from the 0 position to another position and back to the 0 position, before a bill can be printed.

Compressor 170 is connected to master control relay 78 for operation when relay 78 is actuated in response to actuation of microswitch 66. Air from compressor 170 passes through hose 172 to the interior of connector portion 42. Thus, when connector portion 42 is mated to a connector portion 40, actuating microswitch 66, pressurized air is supplied to the connector interior, preventing entry of fuel vapors. Preferably, excitation is not supplied to pin 74 until after passage of time sufficient to allow flow of air through the connector equal to about four times the volume of the connector interior, thus assuringa non-hazardous environment.

Compressor 170 also supplies air to pressurize the interior of vehicle servicing unit 18, surrounding equipment 162. Pressure switch 176 senses this pressure, and should the pressure drop, pressure switch 176 applies a signal to controller 84, deactivating the system. Compressor 170 additionally supplies air for air hose 30.

FIGS. 6 and 7 depict nozzle assembly 210, suitable for supplying fuel to vehicle in a manner minimizing or eliminating escape of fuel vapors and liquid fuel into the atmosphere and in accordance with the present invention. Assembly 210 includes a fuel nozzle 212 of a standard configuration, including a housing 213 and a delivery spout 214. Characteristically, delivery spout 214 is slightly curved, having a convex upper surface 238 adjacent the upper surface 240 of housing 213. Control handle 222 in housing 213 of nozzel 212 determines whether fuel is being delivered by the nozzle. Control handle 222 can be retained in its fuel-delivery position by retainer 224. It is conventional for such automatic fuel nozzles to include an orifice 216 near the discharge outlet 218 of delivery spout 214. a tube 220 communicates from orifice 216 to a control mechanism within housing 213 to sense whether orifice 216 is surrounded by gas or by a liquid or solid. With control handle 222 held in its fuel-delivery position by retainer 224, the covering of orifice 216 by a liquid or solid results in the control mechanism within housing 213 causing control handle 222 to be disengaged from retainer 224. Such automatic fuel nozzles are well known in the art.

The major portion of delivery spout 214 is enclosed by bellows 230, the forward end of which terminates in closure plug 221. As seen in FIG. 6, closure plug 221 includes first shell member 232, which is preferably integrally formed with bellows 230, liner 236, and second shell member 229, which is preferably integrally formed with mounting member 228 to hold plug member 226. First shell member 232 and second shell member 229 are free to move relative to each other, both longitudinally along the major axis of delivery spout 214, and rotationally, about that major axis. Hook 242 is fastened to the upper surface of delivery spout 214 to engage the inner lip of a vehicle fuel tank filler pipe inlet, thus retaining nozzle assembly 10 in a fuel-delivery position. The resilience of bellows 230 urges first shell member 232 and liner 236 into contact with second shell member 229, and hook 242 prevents closure plug 221 from coming off the end of delivery spout 214.

Bellows 230, together with its first shell member 232, and mounting member 228, together with its second shell member 229, can be made, for example, ofa light gage stainless steel or brass, in which case liner 236 provides sufficient lubricity to permit free rotational movement between first shell member 232 and second shell member 229. Shell members 229 and 232 thus provide a rotational interface between bellows 230 and closure plug 221. Liner 236 can be made of tetrafluorethylene (available under the trademark Teflon), for example. Alternatively, bellows 230, first shell member 232, mounting member 228 and second shell member 229 might be formed of a material such as cast neoprene so that sufficient lubricity exists between first shell member 232 and second shell member 229, in which case liner 236 might be omitted. Preferably, plug member 226 is formed of a somewhat resilient material which is resistant to fuels, for example, neoprene or tetrafluorethylene. Hook 242 is mounted on delivery spout 214 in a position which ensures that orifice 216 is within the vehicle fuel tank filler pipe when hook 242 engages the filler pipe lip so that orifice 216 is normally surrounded by gas, but is surrounded by liquid fuel to sense when the fuel tank is filled, whereupon the control mechanism within housing 213 causes delivery of fuel to be terminated.

Closure plug 221 does not encircle delivery spout 214 tightly. Instead, a passageway 227 exists between delivery spout 214 and plug member 226, and a passageway 234 exists between delivery spout 214 and shell members 229 and 232 and line 236. When nozzle assembly 210 is retained by hook 242 in a fuel-delivery position with discharge outlet 214 within a vehicle fuel tank filler pipe, and no one is holding nozzle assembly 210, the weight of housing 213 causes nozzle assembly 210 to rotate about its point of contact with the vehicle filler pipe. The resilience of bellows 230 causes plug member 226 to remain snugly against the vehicle fuel tank filler pipe inlet, and so as housing 213 sags, due to this rotation, first shell member 232 rotates with respect to second shell member 229, and delivery spout 214 moves within passageways 227 and 234 as necessary. Should the resiliency of bellows 230 not be sufficient for this purpose, a spring can be provided, encircling delivery spout 214 within bellows 230 to give additional bias.

Chamber 237 is defined within closure plug 221 between second shell member 229 and mounting member 228. As fuel is supplied to a vehicle fuel tank by nozzle assembly 210, fuel vapors coming from the vehicle fuel tank filler pipe pass through passageways 227 and 234 to the interior of bellows 230. Should splash-back occur, th liquid fuel is directed back into the fuel tank by plug member 226. If the splash-back is great, some liquid fuel passes through passageway 227 to chamber 237. Much of this fuel subsequently returns along discharge spout 214 to the fuel tank filler pipe.

Nozzle 210 is connected to the discharge end of fuel delivery hose 244, the inlet end of which is connected to the outlet of a fuel pump. Adjacent the connection of bellows 230 to housing 213, a small orifice 246 provides communication from the interior of bellows 230, through housing 213, to flexible tube 248, which is enclosed within fuel delivery hose 244. Also, within fuel delivery hose 244 is hose 172 having cable 72 within it. Hose 172, with cable 72 therewithin, passes out a side of housing 213 and terminates in connector portion 42. Thus, the conductors of cable 72 provide electrical connections to the pins of connector portion 42, while hose 172 supplies air under slight pressure to pressurize the connector when connector portion 42 is mated with a connector portion 40 so that fuel vapors can not get into the area adjacent the connector pin connections, thereby assuring a non-hazardous environment.

When vehicle servicing unit 18 is supplying a vehicle 34 with fuel utilizing nozzle assembly 210, delivery spout 214 is inserted into the fuel tank filler pipe of the vehicle 34, and connector portion 42 is mated to the connector portion 40 on the vehicle 34. Closing of microswitch 66 causes air to be applied through hose 172 to the connector interior. After the connector interior has been adequately flushed with air, power is supplied to pin 62 of connector portion 42, and the system is activated. When the fuel delivery is to commence, control handle 222 is moved to a fuel-delivery position, and, if desired, retainer 224 is moved to retain control handle 222 in such position. As fuel is delivered through nozzle assembly 210 to the vehicle fuel tank, air and fuel vapors pass from the vehicle fuel tank. Plug member 226 substantially closes the fuel tank filler pipe inlet, preventing passage of such gases into the surrounding atmosphere. Instead, the air and fuel vapors from the fuel tank pass through fluid passageways 227 and 234 into bellows 230. Flexible tube 248 is coupled within servicing unit 18 to a fuel disposal. Thus, passageways 227 and 234, bellows 230, orifice 246, and tube 248 define a fluid path to the fuel disposal from the area adjacent discharge end 218 of delivery spout 214. A mild vacuum is drawn through flexible tube 248 to draw the air and fuel vapors from bellows 230 to the fuel disposal. Should splash-back occur, plug member 226 likewise prevents escape of liquid fuel onto the ground. If the splash-back is so great that plug member 226 is unable to return all of the liquid fuel to the vehicle fuel tank, the excess liquid fuel passes through passageways 227 and 234 to chamber 237 and the interior of bellows 230. After the fuel delivery is completed and upon return of nozzle 210 to its retention position on service panel 24, in which position orifice 246 is at the lower end of bellows 230, any liquid fuel within bellows 230 drains through orifice 246 and flexible tube 248 to the fuel disposal. Preferably, an opening 257 is provided in bellows 230 to permit entry of air to satisfy the vacuum requirements of the fuel disposal, should there be insufficient air and vapor entering through openings 227 and 234.

The fuel disposal can be any device capable of removing fuel vapors from gas passing through it. By way of illustration, the fuel disposal can include a solid adsorbent, for example charcoal, to filter the fuel vapor from the gas, and a liquid fuel trap. Alternatively, it could be a catalytic reactor to cause substantially complete combustion of the fuel liquid and vapor with air, giving exhaust products such as carbon dioxide and water, and to let out the exhaust products. As a third alternative, the fuel disposal could be a small internal combustion engine in which the fuel liquid and vapor is combusted with an excess of oxygen, permitting substantially complete combustion at a low combustion temperature. The power from such an engine could be utilized to provide the vacuum that draws the vapor and liquid fuel from bellows 230. As an additional and preferred alternative, the fuel disposal could be the engine of vehicle servicing unit 18, as illustrated in FIG. 8.

FIG. 8 illustrates use of vehicle servicing system 18 of the present invention with nozzle assembly 210, utilizing the engine of servicing unit 18 as the fuel disposal to prevent escape of liquid fuel and fuel vapor into the surrounding atmosphere. Nozzle 210 is coupled by hose 244 to fuel source 250 within servicing unit 18. Fuel source 250 includes fuel supply 252, pump 254 which pumps fuel on command from fuel supply 252 through hose 244, and generator 256 which provides power for pump 254. Flexible tube 248, hose 172, and cable 72 are within hose 244. Hose or pipe 258 couples flexible tube 248 to engine 260 of vehicle servicing unit 18 to apply to the engine the liquid fuel and fuel vapors which have been drawn within bellows 230. During the time fuel is being dispensed, governor 262 receives a control signal from fuel source 250 to maintain the speed of engine 260 constant at a level which drives generator 256 at the required speed to provide proper power for pump 254. In addition, engine 260 powers compressor 170 which supplies air through tube 171 to fuel source 250 and thus to hose 172. Governor 262 is mechanically coupled to gearshift control 264 to ensure that the governor can not operate unless the transmission of vehicle servicing unit 18 is in its neutral condition. Accordingly, while fuel is being supplied to a vehicle, the fuel vapor leaving the vehicle fuel tank filler pipe and any liquid fuel entering bellows 230 due to splash-back are drawn to engine 260 in which they are combusted, rather than escaping into the atmosphere. Proper control of engine 260 results in substantially complete combustion with little or not contaminants.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments, numerous rearrangements and modifications could be made, and still the result would be within the scope of the invention.