Title:
POOL COVER REEL ASSEMBLY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A low friction pool cover reel to assist in retrieval and deployment of swimming pool covers onto the surface of water in a swimming pool.



Inventors:
Perry, Richard C. (Hinsdale, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/550610
Publication Date:
06/28/2007
Filing Date:
10/18/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080243094BATHTUB APPARATUS, THERAPEUTIC BATHTUB APPARATUS, BATHING WATER AND THERAPEUTIC BATHING WATEROctober, 2008Yamasaki et al.
20090241251SUBMERSIBLE POOL PLATFORMOctober, 2009Blinco
20100058519VERSATILE PLUMBING DEVICEMarch, 2010Davenport
20070061959Grab bar universal mounting plateMarch, 2007Berlovan
20090276946DUAL-DETENT RETROFITABLE TOILET FLUSH ASSEMBLYNovember, 2009Dayton et al.
20070044229Infant tub with multipurpose baseMarch, 2007Smith et al.
20080178381Natural stone basinJuly, 2008Montgomery et al.
20070256235Outdoor use shower assemblyNovember, 2007Lin
20060185067Protective toliet bowl cap for fastening hardwareAugust, 2006Thompson
20070107120Portable shower deviceMay, 2007Ingraham
20070144951Apparatus for dissolving filth treatment bags formed by water soluble filmJune, 2007Kono et al.



Primary Examiner:
CAMPOS, JR, JUAN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROSENBAUM IP (1480 TECHNY ROAD, NORTHBROOK, IL, 60062, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A pool cover reel device comprising: a plurality of upstanding support members; at least one tubular member having an inner tubular member surface and an outer tubular member surface, the outer tubular member surface having longitudinally-oriented recessed sections and the inner tubular member surface having corresponding longitudinally-oriented metal projections; at least one web member which further comprises: a tubular hub formed along a central longitudinal opening of the at least one tubular member and a plurality of rib members, each rib member having at least one head member and radially extending from the tubular hub toward the inner tubular member surface and concentrically engaged to the longitudinally-oriented metal projections of the inner tubular member surface; and a handcrank shaft coaxially engaged with the at least one web member.

2. The pool cover reel device of claim 1, wherein the handcrank shaft is engaged only with a first web member, while a second shaft member is engaged only with a second web member.

3. The pool cover reel device of claim 1, wherein the at least one web member is concentrically engaged with at least two tubular members.

4. The pool cover reel device of claim 1, wherein the at least one head member has a curvature that corresponds to an inner diameter of the at least one tubular member.

5. The pool cover reel device of claim 1, wherein the at least one head member is joined to the at least one tubular member by at least one securing screw.

6. The pool cover reel device of claim 1, wherein each of the recessed sections are spaced apart by about a 180 degree separation.

7. The pool cover reel device of claim 1, wherein there is a plurality of web members, with a plurality of lengths.

8. The pool cover reel device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of upstanding support members are mounted on casters.

9. The pool cover reel device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of upstanding support are anchored to a fixed surface.

10. A pool cover reel device comprising: at least one tubular member having an inner tubular member surface with longitudinally-oriented metal projections; at least one web member concentrically engaged to the longitudinally-oriented metal projections of the inner tubular member surface; a handcrank shaft coaxially engaged with the at least one web member; and a plurality of upstanding support members, each upstanding support member having a plurality of bearing assemblies enclosed in a tubular housing, each bearing assembly further comprising: an inner housing having a central bore and a first circumferential recess formed on an outer diametric surface of the inner housing; an outer housing having a second circumferential recess formed on an inner diametric surface of the outer housing; and a plurality of ball bearings positioned in an intermediate space formed between the inner housing and the outer housing.

11. The pool cover reel device of claim 10, wherein the handcrank shaft is engaged only with a first web member, while a second shaft member is engaged only with a second web member.

12. The pool cover reel device of claim 10, wherein the plurality of bearing assemblies include a first bearing assembly engaged in a first open end of the tubular housing and a second bearing assembly engaged in a second open end of the tubular housing.

13. The pool cover reel device of claim 10, wherein the ball bearings are spherical.

14. The pool cover reel device of claim 10, wherein the intermediate space is packed with lubricant to provide low friction movement of the plurality of ball bearings.

15. The pool cover reel device of claim 10, wherein the intermediate space between the inner housing and the outer housing are closed up by a seal.

16. The reel device of claim 10, wherein, wherein the plurality of upstanding support members are mounted on casters.

17. The pool cover reel device of claim 10, wherein the plurality of upstanding support are anchored to a fixed surface.

18. The pool cover reel device of claim 10, wherein there is a plurality of web members, with a plurality of lengths.

19. A pool cover reel device comprising: at least one tubular member having an inner tubular member surface with longitudinally-oriented metal projections; at least one web member concentrically engaged to the longitudinally-oriented metal projections of the inner tubular member surface; a handcrank shaft coaxially engaged with the at least one web member; and a plurality of upstanding support members, wherein each upstanding support member is anchored to a fixed surface by an anchoring assembly which further comprises: an anchoring member having an upper end terminating in a handle, an intermediate section enclosed by a spring seat with a corresponding compression spring; and a lower end having a threaded surface; and a base member, joined to the upstanding support member, having an opening for the anchoring member to pass therethrough.

20. The pool cover reel device of claim 19, wherein the anchoring member is capable of reciprocating movement within the spring and opening.

21. A pool cover reel system comprising: a pool cover; and a pool cover reel device further comprising: a plurality of upstanding support members; at least one tubular member having an inner tubular member surface and an outer tubular member surface, the outer tubular member surface having longitudinally-oriented recessed sections and the inner tubular member surface having corresponding longitudinally-oriented metal projections; at least one web member which further comprises: a tubular hub formed along a central longitudinal opening of the at least one tubular member and a plurality of rib members, each rib member having at least one head member and radially extending from the tubular hub toward the inner tubular member surface and concentrically engaged to the longitudinally-oriented metal projections of the inner tubular member surface; and a handcrank shaft coaxially engaged with the at least one web member.

22. A pool cover reel device comprising: a plurality of upstanding support members; at least one tubular member having an inner tubular member surface and an outer tubular member surface, the outer tubular member surface having longitudinally-oriented recessed sections and the inner tubular member surface having corresponding longitudinally-oriented metal projections; at least one web member which further comprises: a tubular hub formed along a central longitudinal opening of the at least one tubular member and a plurality of rib members, each rib member having at least one head member and radially extending from the tubular hub toward the inner tubular member surface and concentrically engaged to the longitudinally-oriented metal projections of the inner tubular member surface; and a shaft member having a first end coaxially engaged with the at least one web member and a second end adapted to engage with an electric motor.

23. The pool cover reel device of claim 22, wherein the second end of the shaft member has recesses suitable for engaging a driving member joined to an electrical drill.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This present application claims priority to pending provisional patent application, Ser. No. 60/727,771, filed Oct. 19, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to pool cover reels which permit the deployment and retrieval of protective and/or thermal covers onto the surface of water in swimming pools.

Outdoor and indoor residential and commercial swimming pools typically have large surface areas which are exposed to the ambient environment. With outdoor swimming pools in particular, thermal or protective covers are frequently employed to prevent extraneous matter from falling into the swimming pool, such as dust, leaves, insects, etc, to retain heat within the water of the pool by reducing the exposed water surface area, or to act as a radiant heat source to transfer heat from the sun's energy to the water within the swimming pool. Because of their large surface area, most pools require relatively large spans of cover material, which are, accordingly, difficult to handle and manipulate during both deployment and retrieval.

Swimming pool cover reels are known in the art as devices which permit a swimming pool cover to be attached to a rotating axle, then wound about the axle by rotation of the axle to retrieve the cover, or deployed by simply pulling an exposed end of the swimming pool cover from a coiled spool on the rotating axle over the water and thus, deploying the cover from the reel device.

It has been found, however, that for large pool covers, e.g., those having widths between fourteen to twenty two feet, and lengths between about thirty-five to fifty feet, or larger, deployment and retrieval of the covers presents a particularly cumbersome issue and requires greater effort on the part of the user to reel the cover onto the reel device. Examples of pool cover reels known in the art are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,467,978, 5,636,808 or D265391.

Many swimming pool cover reel devices are fabricated of plastics, which over prolonged exposure to sunlight and outdoor environmental changes, loses its structural and functional properties, making deployment and retrieval of a swimming pool cover extremely difficult.

Thus, it has been recognized that a swimming pool cover reel device which permits the easy deployment and retrieval of a swimming pool cover onto the surface of water in a swimming pool, and which is capable of withstanding exposure to an outdoor ambient environment without having deteriorating performance is desirable. Summary of the Invention

It is, therefore, a principal objective of the present invention to provide a swimming pool cover reel assembly which is easy to use, made of structural materials having excellent resistance to environmental damage, and mechanical properties to minimize flexing of the device and optimize ease of reeling and unreeling the swimming pool cover therefrom.

A further objective of the present invention is to provide a swimming pool cover reel assembly which includes terminal supports for a rotatable axle spanning between the terminal supports, the terminal supports permitting the rotatable axle to be in spaced apart relation above the ground or pool decking, while providing for mounting of a handle to transfer a rotary force to the rotatable axle at least one of the terminal supports.

It is a further objective of the present invention to provide means for both manual and motor-driven rotation of the rotatable axle.

It is a further objective of the present invention to provide a bearing assembly through which the rotatable axle passes and which permits very low friction rotation of the rotatable axle which is suitable for both manual and motor-driven rotation of the rotatable axle.

These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more apparent from the following more detailed disclosure of the invention taken with reference to the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective, partially exploded view of the inventive swimming pool cover reel assembly.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1, showing a bearing assembly.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 1, showing a web member in phantom.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing an alternative configuration for a terminal support frame member.

FIG. 6 is a partial cross-sectional side elevational view of an anchoring assembly for securing the swimming pool cover reel assembly to a pool deck.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The inventive pool cover reel device 10 is illustrated generally in FIG. 1. Pool cover reel device 10 consists generally of a pair of upstanding support members 12. Each of the upstanding support members 12 may be fabricated of box or tubular metal members configured at a generally inverted T-shape, triangular shape, Z-shape, C-shape, Y-shape or other suitable shape suitable for supporting the device 10. An exemplary alternative generally Y-shape for the upstanding support members 12 is depicted in FIG. 5. In accordance with a preferred embodiment, each upstanding support member 12 has a linear base member 13 and may be provided with casters or wheels 15 to allow for ready movement of the device 10 over the ground or pool deck. In accordance with an alternate preferred embodiment of the present invention, each of the upstanding support members 12 preferably has an extendable section which permits raising or lowering of the extendable section the device 10 relative to the base member 13. For swimming pools having diving boards, such as low-profile diving boards having a height of about eighteen inches or less, it is desirable that the upstanding support members 12 have sufficient height between the base member 13 and the top of the support member 12 to have the device 10 clear a diving board.

Pool cover reel device 10 further consists of a plurality of tubular members 16, a plurality of drive transfer members 18, synonymously referred to as web members, a handcrank shaft 22, a second shaft member 24, a plurality of bearing members 28 retained within tubular housings 17 coupled to each of the support members 12, and at least two retaining collars 26. Each of the plurality of tubular members consists generally of an elongate open tubular member having at least a pair of recessed regions 30 as illustrated in FIG. 4 which is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 1. Each of the recessed regions 30 are preferably positioned in diametric opposition such that there is about a 180 degree separation between the recessed regions 30. Each of the recessed regions end in shoulder abutments 32.

Each of the drive transfer or web members 18 has a generally X-shape and consists generally of a central generally tubular hub 36, a plurality of radially extending rib members 38 each of which terminates in a head member 40 which is oriented generally perpendicular to the rib member 38 to which it is joined. Each of the head members 40 preferably have a curvature corresponding generally to the curvature of the inner diameter of the tubular member 16. A web member 18 is concentrically joined within a central longitudinal opening of a tubular member 16 such that each head member 40 is in abutting relationship with the shoulder abutments 32. In this manner, the shoulder abutments 32 prevent relative movement between the web member 18 and the tubular member 16 while transferring rotational forces from the tubular hub 36 to the shoulder abutments 32 to rotate the tubular member 16 about the axis of the tubular hub 36.

The device 10 is assembled by concentrically joining a web member 18 and a tubular member 16 such that a portion of the web member 18 extends beyond an open end of the tubular member 16 into which the web member is concentrically engaged. A second tubular member 16 is then concentrically joined over the exposed portion of the web member 18 and brought into abutting relationship with the first tubular member 16. The required width for the reel device 10 will determine the number of tubular members 16 and web members 18 which are required to span the width of the pool and accommodate the width of the pool cover being mounted onto the device 10. The tubular members 16 which are positioned adjacent the support members 12 have web members 18 concentrically joined therein, except that instead of leaving an exposed portion of these terminal web members 18, the terminal web members 18 are either co-terminus with the tubular member 16 or slightly recessed within the central longitudinal opening of the tubular member 16.

The joined tubular members 16 and web-members 18 are then brought into co-axial alignment with the tubular housings 17 and bearings 28 retained therein. On a first end of the device 10, the handcrank shaft 22 is inserted through the bearings 28 and tubular housing 17 of a first support member 12 such that it projects outwardly from opposing ends of the tubular housing 17. A first end of the joined tubular members 16 and web-members 18 is brought into engagement with a projecting end of the handcrank shaft 22 such that the tubular hub 36 is concentrically engaged onto the projecting end of the handcrank shaft 22. A retaining member (not shown) is then preferably passed through the tubular member 16, the tubular hub 36, the projecting end of the handcrank shaft 22 and secured by a locking member (not shown) to prevent disengagement of the tubular member 16 and web member 18 from the handcrank shaft 22 and, thereby, join the elements in a fixed relationship and permit transfer of rotational force from the handcrank shaft 22 to the web-members 18 and tubular members 16. A retaining collar 26 positioned on an opposing end of the handcrank shaft 22 is then brought into abutting relationship with the tubular housing 17 to restrict relative movement between the support member 12, the handcrank shaft 22 and the concentrically joined tubular members 16 and web members 18.

At an end of the device 10 opposite the handcrank shaft 22, a second shaft member 24 is passed concentrically through a second set of bearings 28 mounted in a second tubular housing 17 on a second support member 12 such that a second end projects co-axially toward the handcrank shaft 22. An opposing end of the concentrically joined tubular members 16 and web members 18 is joined to the second end of the second shaft 24 by concentrically engaging the tubular hub 36 with the second end of the second shaft 24 and securing the resulting assembly with a retaining member and locking member as described above. Again, a collar 26 is brought into abutting relationship with the second tubular housing 17 to restrict relative movement between the conjoined members.

It is preferable to secure each of the head members 40 relative to the tubular member 16, such as by employing self-taping screws which pass through the tubular member 16 and each head member 40. To facilitate accurately passing the screws into the tubular member 16 and web member 18, it is desirable to provide scribe lines or other indicia to both properly position and orient the screws and to aid in engaging the screws with the tubular member 16 and web member 18. Two sets of securing screws may be employed, with a first set being proximate an end portion of the tubular members 16 to which a web member 18 is concentrically joined, and a second set being longitudinally spaced along the longitudinal axis of the assembly. In accordance with a most preferred embodiment of the invention, the first set of securing screws are placed about two inches from an end of the a tubular member 16 and the second set of securing screws are placed about twelve inches from an end of the tubular member 16.

Each of the web members 18 and each of the support members 12 are preferably made from 6105 T-5 aluminum, while each of the tubular members 16 are preferably fabricated of 6063T-5 aluminum. Aluminum is the preferred material for the tubular members 16, the web members 18 and the support members 12 due to its light weight, ease of manufacture, structural properties and resistance to the ambient environment. Those skilled in the art will understand and appreciate, however, that alternative materials may be used in the construction of the component parts of the present invention.

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the second shaft member 24 has an exposed end which is adapted to be engaged with a small electric motor, such being engaged within a collet on a drive shaft or engaged in an electrical drill head, to permit a motor to drive the rotational movement of the tubular members 16 to retrieve a pool cover. The exposed end of the second shaft member 24 may be swedged to impart recesses suitable for engaging a driving member joined to an electrical drill, or may be formed into hexagonal, square or other shape suitable for engagement with a drive socket.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the bearings 28 are preferably very low friction, non-leaking packed bearings which do not require re-packing with grease. FIG. 3 depicts a cross-sectional view of a preferred bearing assembly 28 in accordance with the present invention. In accordance with the best mode of practicing the invention, at least four bearing assemblies 28 are employed in the device 10 of the present invention, with two bearing assemblies 28 being engaged in each tubular housing 17 on each support member 12. A first bearing assembly 28 is concentrically engaged in a first open end of the tubular housing 17, while a second bearing assembly 28 is concentrically engaged in a second opposing open end of the tubular housing 17.

Each of the bearing assemblies 28 consists generally of an inner housing 50 and an outer housing 52. The inner housing is generally tubular and has a central bore 51 which passes through a longitudinal axis of the bearing assembly 28. The central bore 51 concentrically accommodates the handcrank shaft 22 therethrough. The inner housing 50 has a first circumferential recess 53 formed on an outer diametric surface thereof. The outer housing 52 is generally tubular and has a second circumferential recess 55 formed on an inner diametric surface thereof, and has a seating flange 54 which projects radially outward from an end surfaced thereof to permit abutting engagement with an open end of tubular housing 17. A seal seat 57 is preferably provided to provide a sealing engagement between the outer housing 52 of the bearing assembly 28 and the tubular housing 17. Suitable seals, such as 0-ring seals, are well known in the art. It is preferable that each of the bearing assemblies 28 are friction or interference fit within the inner diameter of the tubular housing 17.

A desirable aspect of the present invention is to select the materials for the tubular housing 17 and the bearing assemblies 28 such that the materials have substantially similar coefficient's of thermal expansion and matching eccentricities to ensure a sealed fit therebetween under manufacturing conditions and various environmental condition.

A plurality of spherical ball bearings 58, preferably mounted in a race 60, are provided and positioned in an intermediate space formed between the inner housing 50 and the outer housing 52. The plurality of spherical ball bearings 58 track in both the first circumferential recess 53 and second circumferential recess 55 about the circumference of the inner housing 50 and outer housing 52. Alternative types of bearings 58, including, for example, cylindrical bearings may be employed. Similarly, the bearings may be single or plural row bearings so long as there are a sufficient number of corresponding circumferential recesses formed in the inner housing 50 and outer housing 52.

Seals 56 are preferably provided between the inner housing 50 and the outer housing 52 to seal the intermediate space in which the plurality of spherical ball bearings 58 operate. The intermediate space is preferably packed with an appropriate lubricant to provide low friction movement of the plurality of spherical ball bearings 58 and race 60 with respect to the first circumferential recess 53 and the second circumferential recess 55. Suitable materials for seals 56 are well known in the art. It is preferable that the intermediate space between the inner housing 50 and the outer housing 52 be sealed in such a manner as to avoid leaking of lubricant from the intermediate space, and avoid the need to clean or repack the spherical ball bearings 58 or the intermediate space between the inner housing 50 and outer housing 52.

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the plurality of drive transfer or web members 18 are provided in a plurality of different lengths. A first length of web member 18 is utilized as an interconnection member to interconnect adjacent pairs of tubular members 16 and support the junction between the adjacent pairs of tubular members 16 in a manner which resists sag or flexure of the joined tubular members 16. A second length of web member 18 is utilized as a drive member, and is engaged in the opposing terminal ends of terminal tubular members and is intended only to interconnect with the handcrank shaft 22 on one end of device 10 and another drive web member 18 is intended to interconnect with the second shaft member 24 at an opposing terminal end of the device 10. Thus, the handcrank shaft 22 is engaged only with a first drive web member 18, while the second shaft member 24 is engaged only with a second drive web member 18 at an opposing end of the device 10. Actuation of the handcrank shaft 22, transfers a rotational force through the first drive web member 18, which imparts a rotary force to the tubular members 16 interconnected with the first lengths of web members 18, thereby transferring the rotary force along the entire length of the device 10. The entire assembly of web members 18 and tubular members 16 freely rotates about second shaft member 24 on bearing assembly 28.

The swimming pool cover is attached by detachable straps to the plurality of tubular members 16, such that rotation of the tubular members 16 causes a reeling or coiling of the swimming pool cover onto the tubular members 16.

Finally, as illustrated in FIG. 6, it is desirable to anchor the swimming pool cover reel assembly 10 to a surface such as pool decking in order to secure the pool cover reel assembly 10 in a fixed position relative to the swimming pool. While the pool cover reel assembly 10 may be mounted on locking casters as depicted in FIG. 5, it is also preferable to fixedly secure the assembly 10 to a fixed surface such as pool decking. This may be accomplished by providing an anchoring assembly 70 which anchors the assembly 10 by securing the base member 13 to a fixed surface 72 such as pool decking. Such may be accomplished by drilling a closed hole in the fixed surface 72 and mounting a threaded ferrule 74 into the closed hole such that it is substantially flush with the fixed surface 72. An anchoring member 76 is provided having a threaded end 78 and an upper end terminated in a handle 84 or other means for rotating the anchoring member 76. Anchoring member 76 is passed vertically through the base member 13 through an opening 77 passing therethrough. A spring seat 82 and corresponding compression spring 80 are provided such that the anchoring member 76 passes through the spring 80 and the spring seat 82, with the spring 80 seating against the spring seat 82 on one end thereof and against the handle 84 at another end thereof. The anchoring member 76 is capable of reciprocating movement within spring 80 and opening 77 to be brought into engagement with the threaded ferrule 74 and threadedly engaged therewith to secure the assembly 10 to the fixed surface 72.

While the present invention has been described with reference to its preferred embodiments, those of ordinary skill in the art will understand and appreciate that variations in size, dimension, material selection, geometry or the like may be made without departing from the intended scope of the invention.





 
Previous Patent: Swimming pool covering system

Next Patent: Drain Brush