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This application claims the priority of German application 10 2004 020 925.1, filed Apr. 28, 2004, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated by reference herein.
This invention concerns a sill panel for a motor vehicle which is to be fitted on an outside of an adjacent support part of a mounting structure including upper and lower border areas by which the sill panel is connectable to the support part, with clips, arranged at a distance from each other, provided in order to fix the upper border area of the sill panel.
British document GB 2 142 594 A discloses a sill panel made of resin for a motor vehicle which is held in place on upper and lower border areas by means of clips on adjacent support parts of the mounting structure. Each clip rests with a head section on the outer side of the sill panel and projects with an adjacent shaft section through the openings of the sill panel and the support part. This arrangement has the inherent disadvantage that disassembly of the sill panel is not possible without damaging or destroying the clips and, possibly, the sill panel. Parts of the damaged clips can remain in the sill and cause annoying noise while driving. The head sections of the clips are furthermore located in a visible area, which has a visually disruptive effect.
It is an object of the invention to further develop a clip fastening for a sill panel of a motor vehicle in such a way that easy assembly with a secure hold in the mounting position is ensured and damage-free disassembly of the sill panel and the clips can be achieved.
This object is attained in accordance with the invention in such a way that, for assembly of the sill panel, the sill panel is guided up with its upper border area to an underside of an inwardly directed recess of the support part and is connected therewith in a covered arrangement via said clips, which extend in an upright direction, and so that, for disassembly of the sill panel, the upper border area can be unbuttoned from said clips, which are anchored in the support part, by a sideways displacing motion of the sill panel. Further features that configure the invention in an advantageous manner are specified in the dependent claims.
Advantages obtained with the invention by way of the design of the sill panel and the clips include achieving easy, secure assembly with a good hold in the mounting position as well as damage-free disassembly of the sill panel and the clips without auxiliary tools. The sill panel can be guided up from below onto the mounting structure by arranging an inwardly directed recess on the fixed mounting structure. The clips, which are preassembled on the sill panel and project upwardly, ensure easy assembly of the sill panel. The clips, which can be displaced in a defined manner in the longitudinal direction of the motor vehicle, enable simple tolerance compensation. By arranging locally inwardly directed retaining tabs on the upper edge of the sill panel, a covered arrangement of the clips in the mounting position is achieved, which is advantageous for visual reasons. The clips can be easily introduced sideways into the retaining tabs by way of insertion openings open on one side. Guide bars provided on the upper side of the retaining tab fix the clips in the mounting position in the transverse direction of the vehicle.
Each clip rests with a plate-shaped support section that runs at a right angle to the shaft section on the upper side of the retaining tab and with a head section running approximately parallel thereto on the lower side of the retaining tab. The support section is thus configured so as to be relatively rigid, whereas the head section can be configured such that it can be deformed in a defined way under the influence of a force. The deformable head section and the insertion opening on the retaining tab, which is open on one side, permit the sill panel to be unbuttoned upon releasing the lower screw fastening by means of a downwardly or outwardly directed sideways displacing motion of the clips anchored on the support part of the mounting structure. Neither the clips nor the sill panel are damaged in doing so.
A sealing ring that is fitted on the free end of the shaft section and rests on the upper side of the support section and the lower side of the support part causes correct functioning of the seal between the dry and wet areas. Reinforcing fins projecting downward on the lower side of the head section rest on the inside on the sill panel. Wings extending from both sides of the rectangular-shaped head section cause the clip to rotate automatically into the correct mounting position when it comes into contact with the sill panel. Projecting noses provided on the support section and on the head section cause the clip to always be installed in the correct position in the sill panel.
A more detailed description of an exemplary embodiment of the invention, which is depicted in the drawings, is provided below.
FIG. 1 shows an automobile in a lateral view,
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view diagonally from the front of a sill panel of the automobile,
FIG. 3 shows a section along the line III-III of FIG. 1 in an enlarged scale,
FIG. 4 shows a detail X of FIG. 3 in an enlarged scale,
FIG. 5 shows a view in the direction of arrow Y of FIG. 4 with a retaining tab and the mounted clip,
FIG. 6 shows a view similar to FIG. 5, but with a deformed head section of the clip, and
FIG. 7 shows a perspective view of a second embodiment of a clip for holding a sill panel.
FIG. 1 shows a vehicle 1 consisting of an automobile that has an elongated sill panel 3 fitted below a side door 2. The sill panel 3 is a plastic part and extends in the longitudinal direction between a front wheel house 4 and a rear wheel house 5 of a mounting structure 6.
The sill panel 3 is fitted on the outside on an adjacent support part 7 of the mounting structure 6 and is detachably affixed locally in an upper border area 8 and in a lower border area 9 on the fixed mounting structure 6. The front edge 10 and the rear edge 11 of the sill panel 3 are detachably connected to the mounting structure 6. The support part 7 is formed by an outer plate of the panel, which can be provided with a PVC undercoating on the outside.
Seen in cross section, the sill panel 3 is comprised of a lower approximately horizontally aligned section 12 and a bent section 13 extending therefrom and projecting upward. The free end 14 of the lower section 12 of the sill panel 3, which is provided with reinforcements in some areas, is locally held in position on the mounting structure 6 by means of spaced detachable screw connections 15 (FIG. 3).
In order to fix the upper border area 8 of the sill panel 3, several clips 16 arranged at a distance with respect to each other are provided. According to the invention, the sill panel 3 is guided up with its upper border area 8 onto the lower side 17 of an inwardly directed recess 18 of the support part 7 and is connected therewith via clips 16, which are arranged covered and extend in an upright direction. In order to disassemble the sill panel 3, its upper border area 8 can be unbuttoned from the clips 16 anchored on the support part 7 by means of a sideways displacing motion in the direction of the arrow R of the sill panel 3.
The recess 18 formed on the support part 7 comprises an approximately horizontally or slightly diagonally extending and inwardly directed wall section 20, which connects to the uprightly extending chassis outer skin 19, and in which openings 21 for fixing the clips 16 are configured. The openings 21 of the exemplary embodiment have a circular cross section. The clips 16 are preassembled on the sill panel 3 in such a way that they are fixed in the transverse direction of the vehicle, but are arranged so that they can be displaced by a specific measure in the longitudinal direction of the vehicle (tolerance compensation in the longitudinal direction of the vehicle).
Inwardly directed retaining tabs 22, which are configured as one piece with the sill panel 3, are provided locally on the upper border area 8 of the sill panel 3 in order to accommodate the clips 16. Seen in plan view, the retaining tabs 22 are configured in a rectangular, trapezoidal or similar shape. The retaining tabs 22 are aligned approximately parallel to the wall section 20 of the recess 18. Each retaining tab 22 has an insertion opening 23 for introducing a clip 16 from the side. The insertion opening 23 is configured open toward the free internal end 24 of the retaining tab 22. The insertion opening 23 is configured with a U-shaped or keyhole-shaped cross section in the plan view. An approximately centered clip of the sill panel 3 is fixedly arranged in the longitudinal direction B-B of the vehicle or is displaceable by only a small measure in the longitudinal direction, and forms a reference point for mounting the sill panel 3. By contrast, all the other clips can be displaced in the longitudinal direction B-B of the vehicle, while the magnitude of the displacement seen in the longitudinal direction of the vehicle is greatest at each of the two terminal clips 16. The displaceability is controlled by means of the design of the embodiment of the insertion opening 23. Seen in the transverse direction A-A of the vehicle, all the clips 16 are fixed with respect to their position, namely by means of guide bars 25, which are arranged on the upper side of the retaining tab 22 and extend in the longitudinal direction of the vehicle, and which abut on the outside against both longer longitudinal sides of the support section 29. Both longitudinally aligned guide bars 25, which run at a distance from each other, are locally connected to each other by means of projecting cross webs 26.
Each clip 16 comprises a shaft section 27, a head section 28 running approximately at a right angle to a longitudinal axis C-C of the shaft section 27, and a support section 29 running at a distance parallel thereto. The head section 28 and the support section 29 are configured in plate shape in the exemplary embodiment and have a rectangular shape seen in plan view, while the longer longitudinal sides extend in the longitudinal direction B-B of the vehicle in the mounting position. The head section 28 rests with its upper side on the lower side of the retaining tab 22, whereas the support section 29 rests on the upper side of the retaining tab 22. Two mutually spaced cam areas 30, 31, which project upwardly, run in the transverse direction of the vehicle and are arranged on the outside on the head section 28 and on the support section 29.
The support section 29 of each clip 16 is configured relatively rigid, whereas the head section 28 can be deformed to a certain extent under a defined influence of a force. The external guide bar 25 is formed by a continuous upwardly projecting bar of the sill panel 3 and extends across the entire length of the sill panel 3. The inner guide bar 25 extends merely within the region of the retaining tabs 22 and is interrupted locally by the insertion opening 23. In the mounting position of the clips 16, the inner guide bar 25 forms an undercut for the installed clips 16, that is, the inner guide bar 25 holds the clips 16 fixedly in the transverse direction of the vehicle. After the lower screw connections 15 are released, the head section 28 of the clips 16 according to FIG. 6 is deformed in such a way by means of a downwardly or outwardly directed influence of force in the direction R on the free end 14 of the lower border area 9 of the sill panel 3 that the internal longitudinally extending edge of the support section 29 slides across the inner guide bar 25 of the retaining tab 22, and the upper border area 8 of the sill panel 3 can be pulled out toward the outside. A projecting nose 32 is formed on the side of the support section 29 and/or of the head section 28 facing away from the sill panel 3 to ensure that the clip 16 is installed in the correct position in the insertion opening 23.
One or several downwardly projecting reinforcing fins 33, which have an angled cross section in the exemplary embodiment, are provided on the underside of the head section 28 on the side facing the sill panel 3 in order to reinforce each clip 16 in the mounting position. The reinforcing fins 33 run at a short distance with respect to an inner contour 34 of the sill panel 3 in the mounting position.
A circular shaped sealing ring 35, which rests on the upper side of the support section 29 and on the underside of the wall section 20 of the mounting structure 6, is fitted on the free end of the shaft section 27 in order to achieve a good seal with respect to the adjacent mounting structure 6 when the sill panel 3 has been installed. The lateral wings 36 that extend from both short longitudinal sides of the head section 28 cause the clip 16 to run in the correct position in the case of a service, that is, the clip runs flush with the sill panel 3. The clip 16 rotates on its own into the correct position (FIG. 7) by means of the wings 36.
Each free dome-shaped end 37 is guided through one of the openings 21 of the support part 7, and two flexible lugs 38 provided diametrically on the shaft section 27 rest on the inner side of the support part 7 in the mounting position.
Assembly of the sill panel 3 occurs upwardly in the direction of the arrow S; disassembly occurs outwardly toward the side in the direction T (FIGS. 3 and 4).
The foregoing disclosure has been set forth merely to illustrate the invention and is not intended to be limiting. Since modifications of the disclosed embodiments incorporating the spirit and substance of the invention may occur to persons skilled in the art, the invention should be construed to include everything within the scope of the appended claims and equivalents thereof.