Title:
Integral baffle and lubricant cooler
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A baffle for use in a lubricant pan of an engine that uses a lubricant having a viscosity. The baffle includes a first sheet and a second sheet substantially aligned with the first sheet, the sheets are sized and shaped to reduce turbulence of the lubricant in the lubricant pan. The baffle also includes a tube having a first end and a second end, whereby at least part of the tube is sandwiched between the first and second sheets. A first tube connector is connected to the first end of the tube. A second tube connector is connected to the second end of the tube. A plurality of draining apertures are formed in the first and second sheets, whereby the size of the draining apertures are based on the viscosity of the lubricant.



Inventors:
Hoyte, David S. (Sheboygan, WI, US)
Jiang, Alan Honggen (Sheboygan Falls, WI, US)
Chui, Kwok-sang (Columbus, IN, US)
Waldon, Charles M. (Sheboygan, WI, US)
Application Number:
10/388046
Publication Date:
09/16/2004
Filing Date:
03/13/2003
Assignee:
Shore Line Industries, Inc. (Benton Harbor, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F01M11/00; F28F1/22; F28F9/02; (IPC1-7): F01N1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KAMEN, NOAH P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH, LLP (100 E WISCONSIN AVENUE, MILWAUKEE, WI, 53202, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A baffle for use in a lubricant pan of an engine that uses a lubricant, the lubricant having a viscosity, the baffle comprising: a first sheet; a second sheet substantially aligned with the first sheet, the first and second sheets sized and shaped so as to reduce turbulence of the lubricant in the lubricant pan; a tube including a first end and a second end, at least part of the tube being sandwiched between the first and second sheets; a first tube connector connected to the first end of the tube; a second tube connector connected to the second end of the tube; an aperture formed in the first and second sheets, the aperture sized and shaped for accepting a lubricant pickup; and a plurality of draining apertures formed in the first and second sheets, the size of the draining apertures being based on the viscosity of the lubricant.

2. The baffle as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a plurality of bosses configured to support the baffle in the lubricant pan.

3. The baffle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the tube is configured in a serpentine path.

4. The baffle as claimed in claim 3, wherein the first and second sheets have a common longitudinal axis and the serpentine path is generally oriented along the longitudinal axis.

5. The baffle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the tube is configured as a main load bearing member of the baffle.

6. The baffle as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a plurality of clinch joints, wherein each clinch joint connects the first sheet and second sheet to one another.

7. The baffle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first and second sheets are made from aluminum.

8. The baffle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the tube is a seamless tube.

9. The baffle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first tube connector couples the first end of the tube to the lubricant pan, and wherein the second tube connector couples the second end of the tube to the lubricant pan.

10. The baffle as claimed in claim 9, wherein the first tube connector is configured to threadably engage a first threaded aperture in the lubricant pan, and wherein the second tube connector is configured to threadably engage a second threaded aperture in the lubricant pan.

11. The baffle as claimed in claim 10, wherein coolant enters the tube via one of the first and second threaded apertures, and wherein the coolant exits the tube via the other of the first and second threaded apertures.

12. The baffle as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first and second sheets are curved to define a forward baffle portion and a rear baffle portion, and wherein the rear baffle portion is not coplanar with the forward baffle portion.

13. The baffle as claimed in claim 12, wherein the rear baffle portion is parallel to and offset from the forward baffle portion.

14. The baffle as claimed in claim 1, further comprising louvers formed in the first and second sheets, the size of the louvers being based on the viscosity of the lubricant.

15. A baffle for use in a lubricant pan of an engine that uses a lubricant, the lubricant having a viscosity, the baffle comprising: a first sheet having a size and shape; a second sheet substantially the same size and shape as the first sheet, the first and second sheets configured to reduce turbulence of the lubricant in the lubricant pan; a tube including a first end and a second end, at least part of the tube sandwiched between the first and second sheets; an aperture formed in the first and second sheets, the aperture sized and shaped for accepting a lubricant pickup; and a plurality of draining apertures formed in the first and second sheets, the size of the draining apertures based on the viscosity of the lubricant.

16. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, further comprising: a first tube connector connected to the first end of the tube; and a second tube connector connected to the second end of the tube.

17. The baffle as claimed in claim 16, wherein the first tube connector is configured to couple the first end of the tube to the lubricant pan, and wherein the second tube connector is configured to couple the second end of the tube to the lubricant pan.

18. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the first and second sheets are made from aluminum.

19. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the first and second sheets are curved to define a forward baffle portion and a rear baffle portion, and wherein the rear baffle portion is not coplanar with the forward baffle portion.

20. The baffle as claimed in claim 19, wherein the rear baffle portion is parallel to and offset from the forward baffle portion.

21. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the tube is a seamless tube.

22. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the tube is configured in a serpentine path.

23. The baffle as claimed in claim 22, wherein the first and second sheets define at least one plane, and at least a portion of the serpentine path is generally oriented along the at least one plane.

24. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the tube provides structural rigidity to the baffle.

25. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, further comprising at least one boss for supporting the baffle in the lubricant pan.

26. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, further comprising a plurality of clinch joints interconnecting the first and second metal sheets.

27. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, further comprising louvers formed in the first and second sheets, the size of the louvers being based on the viscosity of the lubricant.

28. The baffle as claimed in claim 15, wherein the baffle includes a third sheet coupled to at least one of the first and second sheets, the third sheet extending downwardly from the baffle in a plane that is substantially normal to a horizontal plane in which the baffle is generally positioned.

29. The baffle as claimed in claim 28, wherein the third sheet includes a groove formed therein, the groove configured to route lubricant from at least one of the first and second sheets to the lubricant pan.

30. The baffle as claimed in claim 29, wherein the groove has a serpentine configuration.

31. A combination of a baffle and a lubricant pan for an engine that uses a lubricant, the lubricant having a viscosity, the combination comprising: a baffle including a first sheet; a second sheet substantially aligned with the first sheet, the first and second sheets sized and shaped so as to reduce turbulence of the lubricant in the lubricant pan; a tube including a first end and a second end, at least part of the tube being sandwiched between the first and second sheets; a first tube connector connected to the first end of the tube; a second tube connector connected to the second end of the tube; an aperture formed in the first and second sheets, the aperture sized and shaped for accepting a lubricant pickup; and a plurality of draining apertures formed in the first and second sheets, the size of the draining apertures being based on the viscosity of the lubricant; and a lubricant pan housing the baffle therein, the first tube connector coupling the first end of the tube to the lubricant pan and the second tube connector coupling the second end of the tube to the lubricant pan.

32. The combination as claimed in claim 31, wherein the first and second sheets are made from aluminum.

33. The combination as claimed in claim 31, wherein the first and second sheets are curved to define a forward baffle portion and a rear baffle portion, and wherein the rear baffle portion is not coplanar with the forward baffle portion.

34. The combination as claimed in claim 33, wherein the rear baffle portion is parallel to and offset from the forward baffle portion.

35. The combination as claimed in claim 31, wherein the lubricant pan includes a first threaded aperture and a second threaded aperture, wherein the first tube connector threadably engages one end of the first threaded aperture, and wherein the second tube connector threadably engages one end of the second threaded aperture.

36. The combination as claimed in claim 35, wherein coolant enters the tube via one of the first and second threaded apertures, and wherein the coolant exits the tube via the other of the first and second threaded apertures.

37. The combination as claimed in claim 31, wherein the tube is a seamless tube.

38. The combination as claimed in claim 31, wherein the tube is configured in a serpentine path.

39. The combination as claimed in claim 38, wherein the first and second sheets define at least one plane, and at least a portion of the serpentine path is generally oriented along the at least one plane.

40. The combination as claimed in claim 31, wherein the tube provides structural rigidity to the baffle.

41. The combination as claimed in claim 31, further comprising at least one boss for supporting the baffle in the lubricant pan.

42. The combination as claimed in claim 31, further comprising a plurality of clinch joints interconnecting the first and second metal sheets.

43. The combination as claimed in claim 31, wherein the lubricant pan includes at least one bottom wall and at least one side wall upstanding from the bottom wall, and wherein the baffle includes a third metal sheet coupled to at least one of the first and second metal sheets, the third metal sheet extending downwardly from the baffle in a plane that is substantially normal to a horizontal plane in which the baffle is generally positioned, the third metal sheet positioned adjacent and generally parallel to the at least one side wall.

44. The combination as claimed in claim 43, wherein the third metal sheet includes a groove formed therein, the groove configured to route lubricant from at least one of the first and second metal sheets to the lubricant pan.

45. The combination as claimed in claim 44, wherein the groove has a serpentine configuration.

46. The combination as claimed in claim 43, wherein the lubricant pan includes cooling fins extending from the at least one side wall of the lubricant pan.

47. The combination as claimed in claim 31, wherein the lubricant pan includes a second tube coupled to the lubricant pan and positioned toward a bottom end of the lubricant pan.

48. The combination as claimed in claim 47, wherein coolant passes through the second tube to cool lubricant lying near the bottom end of the lubricant pan.

49. A method of making a baffle for use in a lubricant pan, the method comprising: providing a tube including a first end and a second end; bending the tube into a serpentine pattern; positioning the tube between a first metal sheet and a second metal sheet; and stamping the first and second metal sheets to at least partially sandwich the tube therebetween.

50. The method as claimed in claim 49, further comprising interconnecting the first and second metal sheets via multiple clinch joints.

51. The method as claimed in claim 49, further comprising forming apertures through the first and second metal sheets.

52. A method of cooling and controlling turbulence of a lubricant in a lubricant pan of an engine, the method comprising: providing a baffle including a tube sandwiched by interconnected metal sheets; positioning the baffle over the lubricant in the lubricant pan, such that at least some of the lubricant drains onto the baffle before draining into the lubricant pan; coupling the baffle to the lubricant pan; and passing coolant through the tube to cool the lubricant in contact with the baffle.

53. The method as claimed in claim 52, wherein positioning the baffle over the lubricant includes positioning the baffle near the lubricant to decrease splashing of the lubricant.

54. The method as claimed in claim 52, wherein coupling the baffle to the lubricant pan includes coupling opposite ends of the tube with the lubricant pan such that lubricant is not allowed to enter the tube.

55. A baffle for use in a lubricant pan of an engine that uses a lubricant, the baffle comprising: a first sheet positioned above the lubricant in the lubricant pan, the first sheet configured to receive lubricant from the engine and reduce turbulence of the lubricant in the lubricant pan; and a second sheet positioned adjacent the first sheet at an angle relative to the first sheet, the second sheet including a groove configured to route lubricant received from the first sheet along an interior surface of the lubricant pan.

56. The baffle as claimed in claim 55, further comprising an aperture formed through the first sheet, the aperture sized and shaped for accepting a lubricant pickup.

57. The baffle as claimed in claim 55, wherein the groove has a serpentine configuration.

58. The baffle as claimed in claim 55, wherein the second sheet substantially abuts the interior surface of the lubricant pan, such that a combination of the groove and the interior surface of the lubricant pan defines a passageway for routing the lubricant therethrough.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates generally to engine components, and more particularly to baffles in a lubricant pan of an engine.

[0002] It is well known that internal combustion engines are generally lubricated with oil to maintain the engine components in good working condition. In most instances, an oil pan is utilized to hold oil that is circulated throughout the engine. An oil pump pumps oil from the oil pan toward the top end of the engine, where the oil is routed via internal passageways to the various engine components. The oil drains back to the oil pan under the influence of gravity, where it accumulates and is circulated back to the top end of the engine by the oil pump.

[0003] During acceleration, braking, or maneuvering of a vehicle utilizing a typical internal combustion engine, the accumulated oil in the oil pan often sloshes and/or splashes against the oil pan walls. Conventional engine oil pumps utilize a pickup submerged in the accumulated oil to feed the oil pump. The sloshing and/or splashing oil in the oil pan (sometimes referred to as “turbulence”), in extreme conditions, can uncover the pickup, therefore causing a low oil pressure condition in the engine. The movement of the oil can also cause it to foam.

[0004] To prevent such sloshing, splashing, or foaming, a baffle is usually positioned in the oil pan. The baffle restricts the movement of the accumulated oil in the oil pan. Such baffles typically include sheet metal bodies that are welded or fastened in place in the oil pan.

[0005] It is generally known in the art that excess heat can degrade the performance of lubricants. Overheating can result in thermal breakdown of oil such that the oil looses its ability to maintain a lubricating layer between moving components. Removing built-up heat in the oil, which can be accomplished by using an oil cooler, helps maintain the oil's viscosity, thus preventing thermal breakdown. In conventional applications, a separate oil cooler is remotely mounted from the engine. In a typical design, a separate radiator is mounted in the vehicle to air-cool the oil. An adapter is required (typically positioned between the engine block and oil filter) to route heated oil from the engine through the radiator and back into the engine again after the oil has been cooled. Hoses are also required to route the oil both to and from the radiator. The adapter and hoses increase the number of places where oil might leak. Furthermore, conventional oil coolers add complexity to vehicles.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The invention provides, in one aspect, a baffle for use in a lubricant pan of an engine that uses a lubricant having a viscosity. The baffle includes a first sheet, a second sheet substantially aligned with the first sheet, the first and second sheets sized and shaped so as to reduce turbulence of the lubricant in the lubricant pan, and a tube including a first end and a second end, at least part of the tube being sandwiched between the first and second sheets. The baffle also includes a first tube connector connected to the first end of the tube, and a second tube connector connected to the second end of the tube. Also, the baffle includes an aperture formed in the first and second sheets, the aperture sized and shaped for accepting a lubricant pickup, and a plurality of draining apertures formed in the first and second sheets, the size of the draining apertures being based on the viscosity of the lubricant.

[0007] The invention provides, in another aspect, a baffle for use in a lubricant pan of an engine that uses a lubricant having a viscosity. The baffle includes a first sheet having a size and shape, a second sheet substantially the same size and shape as the first sheet, the first and second sheets configured to reduce turbulence of the lubricant in the lubricant pan, and a tube including a first end and a second end, at least part of the tube sandwiched between the first and second sheets. The baffle also includes an aperture formed in the first and second sheets, the aperture sized and shaped for accepting a lubricant pickup, and a plurality of draining apertures formed in the first and second sheets, the size of the draining apertures based on the viscosity of the lubricant.

[0008] The invention provides, in yet another aspect, a combination of a baffle and a lubricant pan for an engine that uses a lubricant having a viscosity. The combination includes a baffle, which includes a first sheet, a second sheet substantially aligned with the first sheet, the first and second sheets sized and shaped so as to reduce turbulence of the lubricant in the lubricant pan, and a tube including a first end and a second end, at least part of the tube being sandwiched between the first and second sheets. The baffle also includes a first tube connector connected to the first end of the tube, and a second tube connector connected to the second end of the tube. The baffle also includes an aperture formed in the first and second sheets, the aperture sized and shaped for accepting a lubricant pickup, and a plurality of draining apertures formed in the first and second sheets, the size of the draining apertures being based on the viscosity of the lubricant. The combination also includes a lubricant pan housing the baffle therein, the first tube connector coupling the first end of the tube to the lubricant pan and the second tube connector coupling the second end of the tube to the lubricant pan.

[0009] The invention provides, in another aspect, a method of making a baffle for use in a lubricant pan. The method includes providing a tube including a first end and a second end, bending the tube into a serpentine pattern, positioning the tube between a first metal sheet and a second metal sheet, and stamping the first and second metal sheets to at least partially sandwich the tube therebetween.

[0010] The invention provides, in yet another aspect, a method of cooling and controlling turbulence of a lubricant in a lubricant pan of an engine. The method includes providing a baffle including a tube sandwiched by interconnected metal sheets, positioning the baffle over the lubricant in the lubricant pan, such that at least some of the lubricant drains onto the baffle before draining into the lubricant pan, coupling the baffle to the lubricant pan, and passing coolant through the tube to cool the lubricant in contact with the baffle.

[0011] Further aspects of the present invention, together with the organization and manner of operation thereof, will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like elements have like numerals throughout the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] In the drawings:

[0013] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a baffle exploded away from an oil pan.

[0014] FIG. 2a is an enlarged partial perspective view of a portion of the baffle of FIG. 1.

[0015] FIG. 2b is a section view along line 2b2b of the baffle of FIG. 2a.

[0016] FIG. 3 is a partial section view of the baffle of FIG. 1 positioned in the oil pan.

[0017] FIG. 4 is a section view of the oil pan along line 44 of FIG. 3, showing a connecting configuration between the baffle and the oil pan.

[0018] FIG. 5 is a partial section view of a side of the oil pan, illustrating another embodiment of a baffle.

[0019] FIG. 6 is a partial section view along line 66 of the oil pan and baffle of FIG. 5.

[0020] FIG. 7 is a partial section view of the baffle of FIG. 1 positioned in the oil pan, illustrating an additional tube positioned in the oil pan.

[0021] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of yet another embodiment of a baffle in the oil pan.

[0022] FIG. 9 is a section view along line 99 of the baffle of FIG. 8.

[0023] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an oil pan including a coolant channel formed in a bottom wall of the oil pan, in combination with a baffle.

[0024] FIG. 11 is a section view along line 1111 of the oil pan and baffle of FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0025] Before embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of the examples set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or carried out in a variety of applications and in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including,” “comprising,” or “having” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items. The terms “mounted,” “connected,” and “coupled” are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect mounting, connecting, and coupling. Further, “connected” and “coupled” are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings.

[0026] With reference to FIG. 1, an integral baffle 10 and lubricant cooler (“baffle”) is shown removed from an engine oil pan 14. The oil pan 14 is used in combination with an internal combustion engine (not shown) to collect oil used to lubricate frictionally-contacting components in the engine. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, a rear portion 18 of the oil pan 14 includes a sump 22, which defines the deepest portion of the oil pan 14 relative to an upper flange surface (not shown), which mates to the bottom portion of an engine block (also, not shown). The sump 22 contains a majority of the oil collected in the oil pan 14. The oil pan 14 also includes a forward portion 26 which is shallower than the rear portion 18. Also, the oil pan 14 includes a curved portion 30 connecting or in between the forward and rear portions 26, 18, such that oil collected by the forward portion 26 of the oil pan 14 is allowed to drain into the sump 22. Optionally, the baffle 10 may be generally linearly shaped and configured generally parallel to a horizontal plane (not shown) passing through the oil pan 14.

[0027] The terminology “forward portion” and “rear portion” is not limiting. The oil pan 14 may be transversely mounted relative to a vehicle, such as a front-wheel drive vehicle utilizing a transversely-mounted engine. Also, as a further alternative, the orientation of the oil pan 14 may be reversed, such that the rear portion 18 including the sump 22 is positioned forward-most in a vehicle, and the forward portion 26 is positioned rear-most in the vehicle. Further, in addition to the sump 22 in the rear portion 18, the forward portion 26 may also include a sump (not shown) to collect oil therein.

[0028] In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the baffle 10 is shaped such that it generally follows the curve of the oil pan 14 (more clearly seen in FIG. 3). Relative to its positioning in the oil pan 14, the baffle 10 includes an upper planar section 34 and a lower planar section 38. A curved section 42 connects or bridges the upper and lower planar sections 34, 38, and generally conforms with the curved portion 30 of the oil pan 14. Alternatively, the baffle 10 may be configured in any number of reasonable shapes, such that it does not interfere with existing components of the engine (e.g., the oil pump, crankshaft, bearing caps, etc.) or various oil pan walls comprising the oil pan 10. Some additional embodiments are discussed below, with like components labeled with like reference numerals.

[0029] As shown in FIGS. 1-2, the baffle 10 includes a tube 46 sandwiched between metal sheets 50, 54. The tube 46 includes a tube inlet 58 and a tube outlet 62, such that coolant is diverted from the engine cooling system (not shown), for example, routed through the tube 46, and re-diverted back to the engine cooling system. The tube inlet 58 and tube outlet 62 may be reversed, such that coolant enters the baffle 10 via the tube outlet 62, and coolant leaves the baffle 10 via the tube inlet 58. Alternatively, a separate, independent cooling system (e.g., an oil cooling system with a radiator, or a transmission fluid cooler, both not shown) may be utilized to provide coolant to the baffle 10. As a result, the metal sheets 50, 54 sandwiching the tube 46 act as cooling fins and promote heat transfer from the tube 46 and coolant.

[0030] The tube 46 is configured throughout the baffle 10 in a serpentine pattern, such that the tube inlet 58 and tube outlet 62 are exposed and on the same side of the sheets 50, 54. The exemplary serpentine pattern illustrated in FIG. 1 does not imply that the tube 46 is limited to any particular shape or pattern. The tube 46 may be configured throughout the baffle 10 in any reasonable shape or pattern, provided the tube inlet 58 and tube outlet 62 are exposed. Also, the tube inlet 58 and tube outlet 62 may be positioned on adjacent sides of the sheets 50, 54 or on opposite sides of the sheets 50, 54, rather than the same side of the sheets 50, 54.

[0031] Both the tube inlet 58 and tube outlet 62 include flared ends 66 which capture tube connectors 70 on the respective tube inlet 58 and tube outlet 62. The tube connectors 70 couple the baffle 10 to the oil pan 14 to support the baffle 10 therein, in addition to fluidly connecting the tube 46 with the cooling system used. As shown in FIG. 4, the oil pan 14 includes threaded apertures 74 through a side wall 78 to receive the tube connectors 70 of the tube inlet 58 and tube outlet 62, respectively, on the interior portion of the side wall 78. Similar tube connectors 70 couple to the exterior portion of the side wall 78 and fluidly connect additional tubing or hose (not shown) with the tube 46 in the baffle 10. The additional tubing or hose is further routed to the cooling system employed to transport coolant both to and from the baffle 10.

[0032] With reference to FIG. 3, the baffle 10 is shown positioned in the oil pan 14 above the oil collected in the sump 22. Bosses 82 formed in the oil pan 14 space the baffle 10 from the bottom of the oil pan 14 and provide support locations for the baffle 10. Ordinary fasteners 86 (e.g., screws, bolts, etc.) are passed through the metal sheets 50, 54 and threadably engage the bosses 82 to further secure the baffle 10 to the oil pan 14. In comparison to the metal sheets 50, 54, the tube 46 is substantially more rigid. Therefore, the tube's rigidity allows the baffle 10 to be almost entirely supported by the tube 46.

[0033] During normal operation of the engine, most of the heated oil draining from the engine drops onto the baffle 10 before being collected in the sump 22. The coolant passing through the baffle 10 continually cools the baffle 10, which in turn allows the baffle 10 to cool any oil with which it is in contact. Apertures 90 through the metal sheets 50, 54 allow the cooled oil to drop from the baffle 10 into the oil pan 14. Although the exemplary apertures 90 are circular, the apertures 90 may be formed in any reasonable shape, including triangular, oval, square, and trapezoidal. Generally, the size of the apertures is dependent on the viscosity of the lubricant being used. Lower viscosity lubricants can drain more easily through smaller openings than higher viscosity lubricants. Louvers 94 in the metal sheets 50, 54 may also be used in combination with the apertures 90, or used exclusively in the metal sheets 50, 54. The engine's oil pump (not shown) then circulates the cooled oil in the sump 22 throughout the engine, after which the oil drains back toward the baffle 10, and the process repeats.

[0034] The baffle 10 also helps restrict movement of the oil collected within the oil pan 14, such that sloshing and/or splashing of the oil in the oil pan 14 is restricted. This sloshing and/or splashing movement of the oil is sometimes referred to as “turbulence.” Excess turbulence in the oil in the oil pan 14 may cause the oil to foam, thus decreasing the amount of oil available to the oil pump pickup and oil pump for circulation throughout the engine. The baffle 10 is positioned in the oil pan 14 to decrease turbulence in the oil and to limit movement of the oil, such that the oil pump pickup remains generally submerged in the oil. Also, the baffle 10 is positioned to intercept aerated, or foamed oil from the engine before it returns to the oil pan 14. Further, the baffle 10 allows time for the foamed oil to naturally purge itself of entrained air before falling through the apertures 90 or louvers 94 into the oil pan 14. Consequently, a conventional baffle (not shown) in the oil pan 14, separate from the baffle 10, is not required.

[0035] In another embodiment of the baffle 10, as shown in FIGS. 5-6, the baffle 10 includes sheet portions 98 configured substantially perpendicularly to opposite sides of at least one of the metal sheets 50, 54. The sheet portions 98 each include a serpentine groove 102 formed therein, such that on each sheet portion 98, an inlet 106 is defined near the lower planar section 38, and an outlet 110 is defined on the opposite side of the sheet portion 98. Also, each sheet portion 98 is positioned against the side wall 78 of the oil pan 14, such that the combination of the groove 102 and side wall 78 forms a passageway 118 between the inlet 106 and the outlet 110. The serpentine groove 102 is configured to route oil from the lower planar section 38 of the baffle 10 through the passageway 118, before reaching the sump 22. Gravity drives oil through passageway 118 between the inlet 106 and outlet 110. By routing oil through the passageway 118, the oil is further cooled by contacting the side wall 78, which is air-cooled by the air surrounding the outside of the oil pan 14. Further, the oil pan 14 may include cooling fins 122 projecting from the side wall 78 to further promote cooling of the side wall 78. Alternatively, the sheet portions 98 may extend farther toward the forward portion 26 of the oil pan 14, such that the sheet portions 98 are defined along substantially the entire length of the baffle 10. Also, the sheet portions 98 may be coupled to the respective side walls 78 of the oil pan 14 rather than being coupled to the sheets 50, 54.

[0036] With reference to FIG. 7, the baffle 10 of FIGS. 1-4 is shown in combination with an additional tube 126 carrying coolant routed through the oil sump 22 to cool the oil collected in the sump 22. Like the tube 46 in the baffle 10, the additional tube 126 is configured in a serpentine pattern and includes a tube inlet 130 and a tube outlet 134, such that the additional tube 126 is fluidly connected with the engine's (or a separate, independent) cooling system. Also, the additional tube 126 includes tube connectors (not shown) that threadably engage threaded apertures (also, not shown) in a side wall of the oil pan 14. Like the tube 46 in the baffle 10, the additional tube 126 may be configured in any reasonable shape or pattern. Also, the tube inlet 130 and tube outlet 134 may be positioned on adjacent sides of the oil pan 14 or on opposite sides of the oil pan 14, rather than the same side of the oil pan 14. Further, the additional tube 126 may be sandwiched by metal sheets (not shown) acting as cooling fins, similar to the baffle 10. The baffle 10 and additional tube 126 may be fluidly connected with the cooling system in either a parallel or series configuration.

[0037] In yet another embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 8-9, a baffle 138 is shown including a first sheet, or an upper sheet 142, positioned above the oil in the oil pan 14 to receive oil dropping from the engine. The upper sheet 142 includes an aperture 146 therethrough to allow passage of the oil pump pickup. The upper sheet 142 is supported by bosses (not shown) formed in the oil pan 14, similar to the mounting configuration of the baffle 10 of FIG. 1. However, the upper sheet 142 is supported at an angle relative to a horizontal plane (not shown) passing through the oil pan 14, such that oil dropping from the engine onto the upper sheet 142 is funneled to one side of the oil pan 14. In the exemplary configuration of FIGS. 8-9, the upper sheet 142 funnels oil toward an interior surface 150 of a side wall 154 of the oil pan 14.

[0038] A second sheet, or a lower sheet 158, is coupled to the interior surface 150 adjacent the upper sheet 142. The lower sheet 158 may be coupled to the interior surface 150 by any number of different methods, including but not limited to: welding, brazing, fastening, utilizing snap-fits, and so forth. The lower sheet 158 includes a serpentine groove 162 formed therein, the groove 162 defining an inlet 166 at one end of the lower sheet 158, and an outlet 170 at the opposite end of the lower sheet 158. Since the lower sheet 158 is coupled against the interior surface 150, a combination of the groove 162 and the interior surface 150 defines a passageway 174 to route oil therethrough. During operation of the engine, oil drops from the engine onto the upper sheet 142, and is funneled into the inlet 166 of the passageway 174 by the upper sheet 142. Gravity provides the necessary force to establish oil flow through the passageway 174. By routing oil through the passageway 174, the oil is cooled by contacting the interior surface 150 of the side wall 154, which is air-cooled by the outside air surrounding the oil pan 14.

[0039] With reference to FIGS. 10-11, an oil pan 178 including a coolant channel 182 formed in a bottom wall 186 of the oil pan 178 is shown in combination with a baffle 190. In one embodiment, the baffle 190 includes a metal sheet 194 having apertures 198 therethrough. Alternatively, the baffle 190 may be configured in a manner identical or similar to the baffle 10 of FIG. 1. The baffle 190 is positioned in the oil pan 178 to decrease turbulence in the oil and to substantially limit movement of the oil, such that the oil pump pickup remains continually submerged in the oil. Also, the baffle 190 is positioned to intercept aerated, or foamed oil from the engine before it returns to the oil pan 178. Further, the baffle 190 allows time for the foamed oil to naturally purge itself of entrained air before falling through the apertures 198 and into the oil pan 178. The baffle 190 may be supported in the oil pan 178 by fasteners engaging threaded bosses (not shown) formed therein. However, the baffle 190 may also be supported in the oil pan 178 by other methods, including welding, fastening, and so forth.

[0040] The coolant channel 182 formed in the bottom wall 186 of the oil pan 178 is configured in a serpentine pattern and includes an inlet 210 and an outlet 214, such that the coolant channel 182 is fluidly connected with the engine's (or a separate, independent) cooling system. Coolant from the cooling system enters the baffle 190 via the inlet 210, and leaves the baffle 190 via the outlet 214. However, the inlet 210 and outlet 214 may be reversed, such that coolant enters the baffle 190 via the outlet 214, and leaves the baffle 190 via the inlet 210. Coolant flowing through the coolant channel 182 removes heat from the bottom wall 186 of the oil pan 178, which subsequently removes heat from the oil contained in the oil pan 178. To fluidly connect with the cooling system, additional tubes including tube connectors 218 threadably engage threaded apertures (not shown) in a side wall 222 of the oil pan 178. Like the tube 126 of FIG. 7, the coolant channel 182 may be configured in any reasonable shape or pattern. Also, the inlet 210 and outlet 214 may be positioned on adjacent sides of the oil pan 178 or on opposite sides of the oil pan 178, rather than the same side of the oil pan 178. The coolant channel 182 may be fluidly connected with the cooling system in either a parallel or series configuration.

[0041] The exemplary baffle 10 of FIGS. 1-4 may be manufactured using conventional materials. In one embodiment, the tube 46 is made from seamless aluminum tubing to prevent leakage. The sheets 50, 54 are made from thin, aluminum sheets, and act as cooling fins to the aluminum tube 46. Also, aluminum provides desirable heat transfer characteristics. Alternatively, the tube 46 and the sheets 50, 54 may be made from any metal, such that the heat transfer requirements of the baffle 10 are satisfied.

[0042] In one embodiment, the tube 46 is configured in its serpentine pattern by a CNC tube-bending machine, and the tube 46 is subsequently sandwiched by the metal sheets 50, 54 during a sheet stamping process, utilizing a die and stamping machinery. Also, during the sheet stamping process, clinch joints 226 (see FIG. 2) may be formed between the metal sheets 50, 54 to interconnect the sheets 50, 54. The clinch joints 226 locally deform the sheets 50, 54, such that the sheets 50, 54 are permanently interconnected. As shown in FIG. 1, the clinch joints 226 are formed on opposite sides of the tube 46 to secure the tube 46 between the sheets 50, 54. Alternatively, the clinch joints 226 may be formed on the sheets 50, 54 in any reasonable pattern such that the sheets 50, 54 are permanently interconnected, and the tube 46 is tightly secured therebetween.

[0043] Rather than being formed during the sheet stamping process, the clinch joints 226 may be formed in a separate, independent stamping process carried out after the sheet stamping process. Also, the baffle 10 may be formed in its final, curved shape during the sheet stamping process. Alternatively, the baffle 10 may be formed in its final, curved shape during a separate, independent stamping process occurring after the sheet stamping process.

[0044] As shown in FIGS. 5-6, the sheet portions 98 are integrally formed with one of the metal sheets 50 or 54. The sheet portions 98 may be formed (the grooves and shape) during any of the above mentioned stamping processes, including the sheet stamping process, the stamping process forming the clinch joints 226, or the stamping process forming the final, curved shape of the baffle 10. Alternatively, the sheet portions 98 may be separately formed and coupled to the metal sheets 50, 54 via fasteners (e.g., bolts, screws, rivets, etc.) or via welding, soldering, brazing, or other like methods. Further, the tube connectors 70 are secured along the tube 46 by flaring the tube inlet 58 and tube outlet 62, using conventional processes.

[0045] The additional tube 126 of FIG. 7, in one embodiment, is made from seamless aluminum tubing to prevent leakage. The additional tube 126 is configured in its serpentine pattern by a CNC tube-bending machine, similar to the tube 46 in the baffle 10. Further, the tube connectors (not shown) are secured along the tube 126 by flaring the tube inlet 130 and tube outlet 134, using conventional processes.

[0046] The baffle 138 of FIGS. 8-9 includes upper and lower sheets 142, 158 made from thin, aluminum sheets. Alternatively, the sheets 142, 158 may be made from any metal, such that the heat transfer requirements of the baffle 138 are satisfied. Also, the oil pan 14 may be made from aluminum to enhance heat transfer from the oil as it is routed through the passageway 174. Further, the oil pan 14 may include cooling fins (not shown), similar to the oil pan 14 shown in FIGS. 5-6, to enhance heat transfer from the oil and the oil pan 14. The serpentine groove 162 formed in the lower sheet 158 is formed by a stamping process. In addition, both upper and lower sheets 142, 158 may be stamped utilizing a stamping process such that no additional machining or forming is necessary in producing the final product.

[0047] The oil pan 178 of FIGS. 10-11 may be die cast such that minimal machining is required to complete the oil pan 178. The coolant channel 182 may be formed in the bottom wall 186 during the casting process. The oil pan 178 may be made from aluminum to enhance heat transfer from the oil as it is routed through the coolant channel 182. Also, the oil pan 178 may include cooling fins (not shown), similar to the oil pan 14 of FIGS. 5-6, to enhance heat transfer from the oil and the oil pan 178.