United States Patent 3850168

Quickly installable, head-worn breathing apparatus has a tiltable, essentially rigid, elliptical ring at the rear of the apparatus frame for engaging the back of the crown of the wearer's head, making the apparatus universally adapted for heads of different sizes. Springs in the side members of the frame maintain the face mask in pressurized, covering relationship with the wearer's nose and mouth, while adjusting units in each side member, operable with one hand, permit the length of the frame to be varied so as to change the pressure of the face mask against the face of the wearer. Quick release mechanism is provided for coupling the face mask with the valve body.

Ferguson, James F. (Independence, MO)
Wissmeuller, William C. (Kansas City, MO)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
128/201.19, 381/367
International Classes:
A62B18/08; (IPC1-7): A62B7/14
Field of Search:
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3416521Breathing mask suspension1968-12-17Hamlin
3095876Quick donning mask1963-07-02Meister
3040741Quick donning harness for oxygen masks1962-06-26Carolan
2942602Breathing mask apparatus1960-06-28Seeler

Foreign References:
Primary Examiner:
Gaudet, Richard A.
Assistant Examiner:
Dunne G. F.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Schmidt, Johnson, Hovey & Williams
Having thus described the invention, what is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is

1. In head-worn breathing apparatus having a breathing mask assembly adapted to cover the nose and mouth of the wearer during use, the combination with said assembly of:

This invention relates generally to breathing apparatus and, more particularly, to apparatus which is especially designed for rapid removal and installation with the capability of fitting heads of various sizes without the need for adjustment.

Previous quick-donning oxygen masks such as the type shown and disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,040,741, have attempted to solve the problem of providing quick and easy installation of the oxygen mask such that the pilot or other user of the mask need not be forced to wear the mask at all times. Manifestly, if the mask is not to be worn by the pilot constantly, then it must be of such a design as to permit the pilot to quickly don the mask without losing control of the airplane. While the mask and harness assembly disclosed in the above Patent has proven to be successful in accomplishing this goal, certain shortcomings have been discovered which are remedied by the present invention.

For example, the assembly of said Patent utilized a harness having a pair of adjustable straps, one of which was adapted to extend approximately from one ear of the wearer to the opposite ear across the top of the wearer's head, while the remaining strap spanned the distance across the back of the wearer's head in the zone of junction between the neck and head of the wearer. While this arrangement permitted quick donning of the harness and mask, adjustment of the straps was needed according to the head size of the individual wearing the harness. Thus, where the same harness and mask assembly was utilized by different pilots on successive flights, if the head sizes of the various pilots differed to any appreciable extent, it was necessary to adjust the straps of the harness to increase or decrease the size of the harness as the situation required.

Another source of difficulty with assemblies of the harness type is providing sufficient clearance between components of the assembly and the ears of the wearer so as not to interfere with earphones on the wearer's head. Additionally, because of the need for leaving at least one hand free for operation of the controls of the aircraft, the means of adjusting the prior art assemblies were often unsatisfactory.

Accordingly, it is an important object of the present invention to provide quick donning, head-worn breathing apparatus which is universally adapted to fit heads of various sizes, yet is comfortable for the wearer and does not create other undesirable problems such as blocking the line of vision of the wearer or interfering with the earphones also on the wearer's head. Basically, this object is accomplished by providing a rigid, elliptical halo or headpiece which takes the place of the conventional harness straps and is adapted to fit on the rear crown portion of the wearer's head. The limited size, shape and geometrical relationship of the halo with respect to the remainder of the mask apparatus enables it to retain the frame of the mask apparatus on any wearer's head without the need for adjustment.

Another important object of the instant invention is to provide adjusting controls for varying the pressure of the oxygen mask against the wearer's face, each of which may be operated with one hand of the user, thereby permitting him to continue operation of the aircraft controls with the remaining free hand.

A further important object of the invention is the provision of quick release retaining means for the facepiece and valve body of the mask assembly, thereby permitting the facepiece to be readily installed and removed from the apparatus as required for maintenance or substitution.

A still further important object of the instant invention is the provision of a pressure-sensitive switch between the facepiece and valve body of the mask assembly for activating a microphone disposed in the facepiece.

Other equally important aims of the present invention include the objects of providing means for yieldably biasing the swingable halo into a space-conserving, storage position; providing for shifting of the side members of the apparatus frame relative to the front cross member thereof about normally vertically axes to facilitate installation of the apparatus, all without sacrificing the structural rigidity and shaperetaining properties of the frame; and providing swinging of the mask assembly relative to the apparatus frame to facilitate installation of the apparatus with the assembly being normally biased into its proper position for covering the nose and mouth of the wearer.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the mask apparatus of the present invention shown in place on a wearer's head;

FIG. 2 is a rear elevational view of the apparatus and wearer of FIG. 1 illustrating in particular the position of the halo-like headpiece on the wearer's head;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged, top plan view of the apparatus;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the apparatus taken along line 4--4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged, fragmentary, cross-sectional view taken along line 5--5 of FIG. 3, showing details of the adjusting unit.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the underside of one of the side members of the frame showing the adjusting unit therefor;

FIG. 7 is a slightly enlarged, fragmentary, exploded view of the mask assembly illustrating the interrelationship of the structural components on the facepiece and valve body of the assembly;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged, fragmentary, cross-sectional view of the valve body and mounting yoke taken along line 8--8 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional view of the valve body taken along line 9--9 of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged, fragmentary, detail view of the retaining structure on the facepiece, with a lug of the retaining collar on the valve body shown in cross section; and

FIG. 11 is an enlarged, fragmentary exploded view of the spring-biasing structure for the headpiece.

Referring initially to FIGS. 1-4, the breathing apparatus has an open box frame 20 provided with a pair of laterally spaced, normally fore-and-aft extending, tubular side members 22, a front, slightly bowed cross member 24 spanning the distance between side members 22, and a pair of inwardly projecting stub arms 26 and the rearward ends of side members 22. The front member 24 supports a face mask assembly 27, while arms 26 carry a halo-like headpiece in the nature of an elliptical ring 28 therebetween for approximate 90° swinging movement of ring 28 between a flat storage position as shown in FIG. 4 where the plane of ring 28 is substantially parallel with the plane of side members 22 and an installation position wherein the ring 28 fits upon the rear portion of the crown of the wearer's head as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The continuous base, interior and top surface of ring 28 are covered with a soft casing of a suitable elastomer, with the base of ring 28 normally engaging the wearer's head while the circumscribed portion thereof is cleared by the opening defined by ring 28. As shown most clearly in FIGS. 2 and 3, the major axis of ring 28 extends longitudinally of side members 22, while the axis of rotation of ring 28 defined by arms 26 traverses such major axis.

Ring 28 is adapted for rotation and yieldably biased into its FIG. 4 position by means of the structure in FIG. 11 which includes, for each side of ring 28, a boss 30 projecting outwardly therefrom having a post 32, and an annular base 34 associated therewith for projection into the tubular arm 26. The outermost tip end of post 32 is threaded for reception of a nut 36 fitting into a mating recess in the outer end of arm 26. A shoulder 38 on boss 30 is adapted to interengage with mating, spaced-apart shoulders 40 on the interior of arm 26 to limit the extent of rotation of ring 28, while a torsion spring 42 interconnecting the base 34 with an abutment 44 within the arm 26 yieldably biases the ring 28 into the position of FIG. 4.

Each side member 22 is generally L-shaped with the short leg 46 thereof extending upwardly from the longer leg 48 thereof for junction with the corresponding arm 26 which serves to space the leg 46 laterally outwardly from the respective ear of the wearer as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. As also shown in these Figures, the legs 46 of side members 22 are disposed rearwardly of the temples of the wearer, generally behind his ears, whereby to further clear the area around his ears for the use of earphones. The longer leg 48 of each side member 22 extends forwardly from rear leg 46 below the line of vision of the wearer for junction with the cross member 24.

Each leg 48 is tubular for telescopically receiving an extension 50 (FIG. 5) which, in turn, telescopically receives a spring-loaded tube 52 pinned at the forward end thereof for swinging about a vertical axis through a pivot 54. Tube 52 houses a tension spring 56 fixed at one end to the pivot 54 and at the opposite end to extension 50 such that constant compressive force is maintained against the face mask assembly 27 via cross member 24.

Each extension 50 may be extended or retracted from its corresponding member 22 to thereby vary the pressure of mask assembly 27 against the face of wearer by virtue of the one-hand operational locking and control unit 60 on each side member 22. Each unit 60, as shown best in FIGS. 5 and 6, includes a latch 62 in extension 50, spring-loaded by virtue of a coil spring 64, which is biased into locking engagement with any one of a series of apertures 66 in the bottom wall of leg 48 of side member 22. The latch 62 has a generally circular base 68 which abuts the corresponding mating surfaces of the respective apertures 66 to preclude longitudinal movement of extension 50 relative to member 22 when latch 62 is in its locking position. A pair of upstanding projections 70 on base 68 extend through a common longitudinal slot 72 interconnecting apertures 66 and support a thumb-engaging pad 74 which rides on the exterior of side member 22 within a trackway 76 formed in the underside of leg 48.

Referring primarily to FIGS. 7 and 8, the front member 24 includes a U-shaped yoke 78 having a pair of upstanding arms 80 which swingably carry the face mask assembly 27 therebetween. Assembly 27 includes a valve body 82 having a pair of outstanding, cylindrical ears 84, each of which is pivotally secured to a corresponding yoke arm 80 by means of a pivot bolt 86. A torsion spring 88 interconnecting each ear 84 and the corresponding arm 80 serves to yieldably bias the body 82, and hence assembly 27, generally away from yoke 78 into a disposition wherein the facepiece 90 of assembly 27 is in covering relationship with the nose and mouth of the wearer. A pair of circumferentially spaced shoulders 92 on each ear 84 mate with corresponding shoulders 94 on the arms 80 to limit the extent of swinging of body 82. As shown in FIG. 9, an oxygen supply hose 96 is coupled with the outside of body 82 for delivering oxygen through the body 82 into facepiece 90.

The facepiece 90 is releasably coupled with the valve body 82 by virtue of retaining mechanism broadly denoted by the numeral 98. Mechanism 98 includes a collar 100 which is rotatably received within the central opening 102 of body 82 and has a plurality of generally rectangular lugs 104 projecting inwardly from the inner surface of collar 100. A compression spring 106 (FIG. 8) between the backside of body 82 and hose 96, serves to yieldably bias the collar 100 into the rotative disposition shown in FIG. 7, wherein the lugs 104 are adapted to be received within mating slots 108 (FIGS. 7 and 10) on the tubular component 110 projecting from facepiece 90 when component 110 is fully received within the collar 100. A cam shoulder 112 at the entrance of each slot 108 serves to engage the corresponding lug 104 when component 110 of facepiece 90 is inserted into collar 100, thereby causing the latter to be momentarily rotated out of its locking disposition to align the lugs 104 with their corresponding slots 108. A locating protuberance 114 on the upper portion of component 110 is received within a mating cavity 116 on valve body 82.

The facepiece 90 is also provided with a microphone 118 above component 110 which is adapted to be coupled with a radio transmitter. A small pressure-sensitive switch 120 (FIGS. 7 and 9) in the valve body 82 is coupled with the microphone 118 for opening and closing of the microphone circuit and is disposed for actuation by the flat surface 112 surrounding component 110 of facepiece 90. A coil spring 124 between the valve body 82 and surface 122, biases the latter away from switch 120 such that, during storage of the breathing apparatus, switch 120 normally remains in an open condition. However, upon installation of the assembly, sufficient pressure is maintained against facepiece 90 to depress switch 120 thereby actuating the microphone 118.

During storage of the breathing apparatus the ring 28 ad mask assembly 27 assume their positions of FIG. 4 with the ring 28 lying in a generally flat plane parallel to the side members 22. At this time, in the event of an emergency, the apparatus may be grasped with one hand about the valve body 82 with the remaining hand free to operate the controls of the aircraft. Then, with a sweeping action, the frame 20 is placed over the head until the normally flat ring 28 engages the rear crown portion thereof, at which time the frame 20 may be pivoted downwardly and the front member 24 pulled outwardly against the action of springs 56 to bring the facepiece 90 into covering relationship with the nose and mouth of the wearer as shown in FIG. 1. During this sweeping and swinging motion, the face mask assembly 27 may be rotated clockwise, viewing FIGS. 1 and 4, to facilitate installation of the apparatus, after which time the assembly 24 will return to its normal nose and mouth-covering position. The tension in spring 56 insures a firm seal between the facepiece 90 and the face of the wearer, and also automatically causes the switch 120 to be depressed to actuate the microphone 118.

It is unnecessary to make time-consuming adjustments to compensate for variations in head size among pilots on successive flights with the same apparatus. The ring 28 is universally adapted to fit heads of any size and the springs 56 in side members 22 compensate for size variation while maintaining a proper seal of the facepiece 90.

It may be desirable, however, in other than emmergency situations, for the pilot to lengthen the frame 20 to increase or decrease the pressure of facepiece 90. This adjustment is easily accomplished by depressing the thumb pads 74 to unlock each latch 62, thereby permitting the tubular legs 48 of members 22 to be shifted relative to extensions 50. Release of the thumb pads 74 when the latches 62 are in alignment with respective apertures 66 causes the frame 20 to be re-locked at a new length. The above operation may be accomplished either when both hands of the user are free such that one hand is used for each side member 22 simultaneously, or, because the vertical pivots 54 joining side members 22 with front member 24 permit distortion of the rectangular configuration of frame 20, the length of each side member 22 may be varied one at a time, using one hand for each side member adjustment while the remaining hand is left free to operate the controls of the aircraft.

Removal of the facepiece 90 for purposes of maintenance or substitution of a new facepiece is easily accomplished by shifting the operating lever 100a of collar 100 to move the lugs 104 out of their mating slots 108, thereby freeing the facepiece 90 for removal. The reinsertion of the facepiece 90 is a simple reversal of the above process wherein the lever 100a may be again rotated to immediately align the lugs 104 with slots 108 or, the facepiece 90 may be forced into collar 100 without shifting lever 100a, in which latter case the cam shoulders 112 operate to automatically momentarily rotate collar 100 to properly align lugs 104.

It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that various minor modifications and substitutions of equivalents could be made from the preferred structure described for purposes of illustration without departing from the spirit and gist of the invention. Accordingly, the invention should be deemed limited only by the fair scope of the claims that follow.