Title:
Hollow graphite billiard cue with cross bracing and internal tip, and method of manufacture
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hollow billiard cue having an elongate shaft, a (ferrule) tip portion at the end of the shaft, and a (joint) butt portion at the opposite end. The cue consisting of a number of graphite fibers longitudinally oriented along the shaft; a number of graphite fibers biased to the longitudinally oriented graphite fibers; and a binder holding the fibers together. The fibers may consist of a woven carbon or fiberglass impregnated with resin. The billiard cue is constructed with a vibration dampening material that will absorb the vibration or shock that occurs when the cue strikes the ball. The billiard cue also may have an internal (ferrule) tip that fits inside the shaft.



Inventors:
Thurber, Glen Mitchell (Topeka, KS, US)
Thurber, Glen E. (Tecumseh, KS, US)
Application Number:
11/446232
Publication Date:
12/06/2007
Filing Date:
06/05/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63D15/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Glen Mitchell Thurber (3026 Se Peck, Topeka, KS, 66607, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A fiber-reinforced hollow billiard cue having an elongate shaft, a (ferrule) tip portion at the first end and a joint or butt section at second end.

2. A plurality of first fibers longitudinally oriented along the billiard shaft.

3. A plurality of second fibers biased to the longitudinally oriented fibers.

4. A binder holing together the first and second fibers.

5. The shaft comprising of an internal (ferrule) tip insert that fits inside shaft.

6. The billiard cue that utilizes a vibration dampening material.

7. The billiard cue wherein the fibers are selected from a group consisting of graphite.

8. The billiard cue wherein the fibers are selected from a group consisting of organic fiberglass.

9. The billiard cue wherein the fibers are selected from a group consisting of inorganic fiberglass.

10. The billiard cue wherein the fibers are selected from a group consisting of woven carbon.

11. The billiard cue wherein the fibers are selected from a group consisting of woven fiberglass.

12. The billiard cue wherein the binder is thermoplastic epoxy resin.

13. The method of manufacture is also claimed, is not limited to pre-impregnation of fibers with epoxy resin or polyester resin, being filament wound over a mandrel.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a fiber re-enforced hollow billiard shaft composed of graphite (carbon) with the carbon fibers running in two mutually, substantially perpendicular directions on the billiard shaft. The fibers contained within the billiard shaft are composed of a vibration dampening material to absorb the shock and vibration of the cue striking the ball.

The earliest known billiard cues were made of wood. These cues had a number of disadvantages. First, they warped when exposed to moisture. As a result of this warping they were not straight and therefore did not shoot straight.

The disadvantages of wood shafts led to the development of a carbon cover over solid wood cues. These cues were heavier and the vibration was greater than wood.

More recently, carbon (graphite) billiard shafts have been developed. The disadvantages of these shafts are that they break or crack under normal use. Furthermore, these shafts were constructed of unidirectional fibers, with the fibers running lengthwise along the shaft. There was thus no bracing across the shaft diameter, so the cues were relatively fragile. In addition, these shafts tend to have greater vibration along the shaft.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A hollow graphite billiard shaft having a tip (ferrule) portion at one end of the shaft, and an joint portion at the opposite end of the shaft, the shaft consisting of a number of graphite fibers rigid or non rigid, longitudinally oriented along the shaft, a number of graphite fibers biased to the longitudinally oriented graphite fibers; and a binder holding the fibers together. The fibers contained within the billiard shaft are composed of a vibration dampening material such as a woven fiberglass or woven carbon and Balsalt. The billiard shaft may also have a tapered portion and a parallel portion. The billiard shaft includes an internal tip (ferrule) that fits inside the shaft that the leather tip is mounted to. The method of manufacture is also claimed. The shaft may be formed as a hollow one-piece member or two hollow engage-able sections.

A principal object and advantage of the present invention that the combination of the longitudinally oriented graphite fibers and the biased graphite fibers gives great strength to the shaft.

Another principal object and advantage of the present invention is the shaft is hollow, reducing the weight of previous shafts. Also the hollow shaft allows for various types of flex or deflection to be built into the shaft.

Another advantage of the present invention is that the increased strength allows a tip (ferrule) to go inside the shaft.

Another principal object and advantage is using a vibration dampening material in the billiard cue reduces the vibration by absorbing the shock when the cue hits the ball.

PRIOR ART

Billiard cues of various types have been utilized in past patents; examples of prior art include:

U.S. Pat. No. 5,112,046 Thorpe: discloses a formed solid epoxy resin body with a compressed carbon core.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,110,051 McCarty: discloses a shaft made of graphite or carbon fibers extended linearly along the length of the shaft.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,103,359: discloses a shaft of solid glass bonded fiber.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,736,733 Yu: discloses a fiber-reinforced end made of plastic material that is covered with a wooden sheath. The fiber is listed as glass; the interior is made of a foam rod with fibers running lengthwise.

Other patents disclose a solid wood shaft with a thin composite cover. These patents do not mention a hollow billiard shaft made of a vibration dampening material with carbon cross fibers woven or a unidirectional fibers with a bias. These patents do not disclose a hollow billiard cue with an internal tip (ferrule).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 is a right-side elevation view of the hollow graphite cue of the present invention with internal structure indicated by dashed lines.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view along the lines 10 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a schematic showing the materials used in a method of manufacturing the graphite billiard shaft of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic of the layering of materials in certain steps of the method of manufacturing.

FIG. 5 is a schematic showing a method of rolling a sheet of graphite fibers (woven or non-woven) onto a mandrel, to manufacture the billiard cue of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic of the layering of materials in certain steps of the method of manufacturing.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the finished product being pulled off a mandrel in the method of manufacturing.

FIG. 8 is a schematic showing a pre-impregnation fiber being filament wound over a mandrel.

FIG. 9 is a schematic view showing the internal tip (ferrule) inside the hollow graphite shaft of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The hollow graphite billiard shaft of the present invention is generally shown in the drawings as reference number 1.

The graphite billiard shaft 1 has a elongate hollow shaft 10 with interior 14, a (ferrule) tip portion at one end of the shaft 16, and a joint portion 18 at the other end of shaft 10.

As can be seen best in FIG. 2, the shaft 10 comprises a plurality of graphite fibers 20 longitudinally oriented along the shaft, a plurality of graphite fibers 22 biased to the longitudinally oriented graphite fibers 20, and a binder holding fibers 20 and fibers 22 together. These fibers can also be a woven or non-woven materials.

To give additional strength to the cue 10, there may be multiple layers of longitudinally oriented graphite fibers 20 and biased graphite fibers 22.

Because of the unique construction of the shaft, the tip or ferrule 35 may be attached to the shaft 10 by a (ferrule) tip adapter 34 which fits inside the shaft 10 so that the tip 34 does not present an external surface.

In the event that the tip portion 32 should break or crack due to impact with a hard object, the tip 34 may be removed and remounted on the portion at a point closer to the joint portion 30 using a single diameter tip adapter.

A novel method of manufacture of the graphite billiard cue 1 is disclosed as follows. See FIGS. 3, 4 and 5.

In the first step, a sheet of graphite fibers woven or non woven embedded in a resin 24 is trimmed to produce an elongate longitudinal pattern 52 having a parallel portion 54 with parallel sides 56 and a tapered portion 59 with tapered sides 58. The pattern 52 may have an adhesive 60 on its backside. Preferably, the adhesive is present on the backside of the sheet 50 and is covered by a removable backing paper 62. This longitudinal pattern 52 produces the longitudinally oriented graphite fibers 20 of the finished shaft.

Next, the sheet 50 is trimmed to produce a bias pattern 70 of about the length of the longitudinal pattern 52 and with the graphite fibers biased to the direction of the longitudinal pattern. Because the fibers only run in one direction in the sheet 50, trimming the sheet across the grain can produce the bias pattern 70.

Next, the bias pattern 70 is attached to the longitudinal pattern 52 with the bias pattern offset from the edges 56 and 59 of the longitudinal pattern 52. This can be conveniently done by removing the backing paper 62 from the bias pattern 70 and pressing the adhesive 60 against the longitudinal pattern 52.

Another method in this process is by using a woven carbon or glass pre-preg, the woven pre-preg contains carbon/glass fibers that are in a cross-weave pattern. This method would require no separate bias.

The longitudinal pattern 52 with attached bias pattern 70 is then attached to an elongate, tapered mandrel 80 along one edge 56 by the adhesive 60 (see FIG. 5). Optionally, a release agent (not shown) may be applied to the mandrel 80 before attaching the patterns to promote release of the finished cue from the mandrel 80. The release agent is generally a carnauba-based wax. In this case, a tacking agent is applied over the release agent to allow the adhesive 60 to stick to the mandrel 80.

The longitudinal pattern 52 and bias pattern 70 are then rolled onto the mandrel, this would also be the case when using a woven carbon or glass pre-preg. As shown by the process in FIG. 5. To strengthen the billiard cue 10, multiple layers of longitudinal pattern 52 and bias pattern 70 may be wrapped around the mandrel 80. The woven carbon or woven glass that utilize multiple layers will not require a bias.

Applicant has found that the pattern may be best rolled onto the mandrel 80 by using a rolling table from Century Design. The rolling table (not shown) has a top portion that slidingly engages a bottom portion. The pattern and mandrel are placed on the bottom portion and the top rolls over the bottom portion, causing the pattern to roll onto the mandrel. The rolling machine has heated platens that warm the pattern as they are rolled onto the mandrel.

In the next step, the pattern rolled onto the mandrel 80 is covered with a polypropylene tape. Applicant has found a cello wrapping machine from Century Design may efficiently be used to apply the tape to the part, FIG. 4 shows the resulting layers.

Next, the mandrel is heated to about 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit for about one hour. The heating process causes the resin 24 to cure, producing a cured product 90. The polypropylene tape prevents the resin from melting and falling off the mandrel 80. Also, the tape shrinks when heated and creates better lamination of the fibers.

Next the cured product 90 is removed from the mandrel 80. FIG. 7 shows the mandrel 80 being pulled out of the cured product 90. The optional release agent may aid this process. Applicant has built a “pulling” machine which grabs the mandrel by a notch at one end and pulls the mandrel through a hole smaller than the diameter of the cured product 90, pulling the cured product 90 off the mandrel 80.

Next, the tape is removed from the product. Preferably, the cello-wrapping machine will have wrapped the tape spirally around the pattern so the tape can be easily unwound. The cured product is then sanded to remove edges of the hardened resin left on the cured product. A centerless sander from Century Design, may be used to spin the cured product 90 while it is being sanded.

The finished hollow, carbon billiard shaft 10 has great strength due to the combination of the longitudinally oriented fibers 20 and biased fibers 22, the material used can also be out of carbon or fiberglass in a woven or non woven pre preg. Applicant has found that using a woven material such as Basalt or any other vibration dampening material greatly reduces the shock or vibration when a cue strikes a ball. This hollow cue has crush strength 50% greater than of earlier cues. The shaft 10 will not bend when it strikes a hard object. As in the embodiments there may be multiple layers of the first fiber and multiple layers of the second fiber in a woven or non-woven material. The method of manufacture of the embodiments is not limited to pre-impregnation of fibers in the binder 24. The fibers may be filament wound 82 around a mandrel 90 then impregnated with resin.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific form without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof, and it is therefore desired that the present embodiment be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, reference being made to the appended claims rather than to the foregoing description to indicate the scope of the invention.