Title:
FRESH WATER FLUSHING SYSTEM FOR BOAT ENGINES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is a system and method for flushing marine engines with fresh water comprising a three way valve configured to receive three hose connections, a fresh water inlet; hoses to connect said valve to a marine engine; and union rings at the junction of each hose connection.



Inventors:
Breece, David E. (Fort Lauderdale, FL, US)
Potts, Thomas J. (West Chester, FL, US)
Szafaryn, Mark H. (Lake Worth, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/178354
Publication Date:
01/29/2009
Filing Date:
07/23/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
137/625.46
International Classes:
B63H21/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SWINEHART, EDWIN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROBERT M. SCHWARTZ, P.A. (P.O. BOX 221470, HOLLYWOOD, FL, 33022, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A system for flushing marine engines with fresh water comprising: (a) a three way valve configured to receive three hose connections; (b) a fresh water inlet; (c) at least one hose connected to said valve to supply fresh water to the system; (d) hoses to connect said valve to a marine engine; (e) union rings at the junction of each hose connection.

2. The system of claim 1 further comprising union ring at each of said hose connections.

3. The system of claim 1 wherein said valve is resistant to corrosion from water and sea water.

4. The system of claim 1 wherein said connection may be screw on, quick connect/disconnect, barbed hose, or any combination thereof.

5. The system of claim 1 wherein said union rings do not contact water flushed through the system.

6. A method for flushing marine engines and outdrives comprising the steps of (a) providing a three way valve configured to receive three hose connections; (b) providing a supply of fresh water for said valve; (c) connecting outlet hoses emanating from said valve to a marine engine, a marine out drive, or combinations thereof; (d) initiating the delivery of said fresh water to said valve; (e) configuring said valve such that said fresh water exits through at least one outlet; (f) starting a marine engine having said outlet hoses connected thereto; (g) allowing said fresh water to pass through said outlet hose or hoses while said marine engine is running; (h) stopping said marine engine; (i) stopping said delivery of fresh water; wherein said method may performed by a single individual.

Description:

INDEX TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/951,348 filed Jul. 23, 2007, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the boating world, the marine engines are not equipped with radiators that are found on automobile engines. However, the marine engines still must somehow dissipate the heat generated by the friction of the moving parts. The most popular cooling system is the raw water system. The raw water system simply takes water from the body of water surrounding the boat, pumps it through the engine to draw out the generated heat and discharges the heated water through the exhaust system.

Therefore, boats operating in fresh water are cooled with fresh water and boats operating in salt-water are cooled with salt water. The water is pumped through the engine while the motor is operating, once the boat is shut down the water remains in the engine. When a boat is cooled with salt water the salt water becomes a corrosive agent by being one of the elements that cause electrolysis, which is highly destructive to most metals. This dramatically shortens the life of an engine. To counter this problem the operator must flush the engine after each use using fresh water. There are several products currently on the market that can achieve this, however, they are somewhat difficult to use, require more than one operator, or are made of cheap non-durable materials such as plastic.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

There is a need for a user friendly system for flushing marine engines that can be installed easily, be used by one operator; be extremely durable and can be configured to fit in most boat engine configurations. The present invention fulfills all of these needs.

In a preferred embodiment, the system for flushing marine engines with fresh water comprises:

  • (a) a three way valve configured to receive three hose connections;
  • (b) a raw water inlet;
  • (c) at least one hose connected to said valve to supply fresh water to the system;
  • (d) hoses to connect said valve to a marine engine;
  • (e) union rings at the junction of each hose connection.

The system of has a union ring at each of said hose connections. Preferably, valve is resistant to corrosion from water and sea water and has a connection that may be, but would not be limited to screw on, quick connect/disconnect, barbed hose, or any combination thereof. The union rings in the system do not contact water flushed through the system.

In a preferred embodiment, the valve component in the system of the present invention is composed substantially out of 316 L stainless steel with the exception of various seals to ensure a water tight operation. The union rings of the system are made of 304 L stainless steel, another stainless steel which is highly resistant to salt water. The union rings, being an external part, do not come in direct contact with the salt water. The present invention is advantageous because having union rings of a different or un-matched material has been shown to impart increased integrity and increased usability of the threaded parts of the valve in the system of the present invention. A preferred embodiment, comprising components of substantially polished stainless steel, has demonstrated the additional attribute of resistance to degradation in appearance and function. The bright polished surfaces of the valve in the system of the present invention have a cosmetic appeal for performance boat enthusiasts. Although one embodiment comprises stainless steel composition, any acceptable material may be used. Other materials which may include, but are not limited to, any type of steel or iron, brass, bronze, composite metals, plastics, polymers and combinations thereof.

The valve in the system of the present invention is constructed and arranged to be easily removed, cleaned, and returned to the position of use. The valve in the system of the present invention further has a unique configuration having union ends that allows the valve to be lifted straight out by simply unscrewing the union rings, sliding them away from the valve and lifting the valve out for service.

In a preferred embodiment, the present system uses a three way ball valve and union rings. This configuration allows the system to be easily removed, cleaned, and put back into service. It also can flush the boat engine while still in the water, even if it's in salt water.

Another novelty of the present invention is to allow the user to flush out the out drives on a boat as well as the engine. Flushing the out drives utilizing current methods are a two-person operation in order to be safe, but the present invention only requires one person.

Also contemplated in the present invention is a method for flushing marine engines and outdrives comprising the steps of

  • (a) providing a three way valve configured to receive three hose connections;
  • (b) providing a supply of fresh water for said valve;
  • (c) connecting outlet hoses emanating from said valve to a marine engine, a marine out drive, or combinations thereof;
  • (d) initiating the delivery of said fresh water to said valve;
  • (e) configuring said valve such that said fresh water exits through at least one outlet;
  • (f) starting a marine engine having said outlet hoses connected thereto;
  • (g) allowing said fresh water to pass through said outlet hose or hoses while said marine engine is running;
  • (h) stopping said marine engine;
  • (i) stopping said delivery of fresh water;
    wherein said method may performed by a single individual.

The steps for flushing may include:

    • Step 1 screw hose into universal garden hose fitting;
    • Step 2 turn valve handle into the position that stops the water from going to the engine and directs it to the outdrive; and
    • Step 3 turn on the water and flush drive thoroughly.

The three way valve of the present invention is advantagous because it allows you to flush the engines outdrives by turning a lever and allowing fresh water to be pumped into the system.

All boats are manufactured differently, and all manufacturers provide options for the different engines they install. The present invention is contemplated to be flexible in its configuration. With a valve having a union end configuration, various fittings can be secured to the valve of the present invention to facilitate installation. These fittings include a barbed hose end for installation with rubber hoses, a garden hose adapter for introducing fresh water into the system and a standard pipe adapter to attach to sea strainers or various types of hose such as braided steel hose.

Additionally contemplated in the present system is a plumbing harness to accommodate simultaneous or independent flushing of twin engines, a mounting kit for a through-hull garden hose adapter for fresh water intake from a standard garden hose, a mounting kit for fresh water intake from the on-board water supply including a check valve to prevent backflow and contamination of the existing water supply.

The present invention provides for one compact serviceable unit that performs the same operation that currently requires a plurality of separate units.

The present invention is contemplated to use manual valve, electronic or mechanical solenoid actuators, pneumatic, motor driven, or any other type of automation to open and close the valves.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of the valve of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a partial top view of the valve of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a top view of two separate three way valves and the configuration for use with a twin engine assembly.

FIG. 4 show four configurations, A-D, of the path of water through the valve of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a side partial cross section of the valve of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The valve 10 has a main body 11. Main body 11 has a first opening 12, a second opening 13, and a third opening 14. Each of openings 12, 13, and 14 may be constructed and arranged with any acceptable fitting including, but not limited to screw threads 17, a barbed fitting 18 or a pipe adapter 20. Valve 11 may have three different fittings or may have a combination of fittings as desired. Valve 10 has a handle 15 secured in place with locking nut 16. Handle 15 is secured to valve stem 30 with locking nut 16. Movement of handle 16 rotates T-ball valve 36 and controls the desired path of water through valve 10. Valve stem 30 is circumferally surrounded by packing flange 31. Below flange 31 are, in order, Teflon washer 32, Teflon packing 33, and t-ball connector 34. T-ball connector 34 is surrounded by Teflon ball seals 35.

Valve 10 has, on main body 11, three end connectors 37 that lead to each of openings 12, 13, and 14. Each end connector 37 has a silicon O-ring 38, union nut 39 and nitril o-ring 40.

The system and method of the present invention accomplishes the task of flushing the engine or heat exchanger, and outdrives with a single valve for each engine. Valve 10 is positioned in-line between the raw water intake and the engine or heat exchanger of a marine vessel or boat. If the boat has an inboard engine(s) then valve 10 is used to flush the engine or heat exchanger in a position as shown in FIG. 4B, and subsequently flush the intake pipe in a second position as shown in FIG. 4A. A single user may operate the system of the present invention by rotationally moving handle 15 such that dependent t-ball valve 36 allows water to flow in a desired direction. The system and method of the present invention is equally effective for vessels having an inboard/outboard engine. In vessels with an inboard/outboard engine, valve 10 in a position as shown in FIG. 4C, such that the out drive or lower unit will be flushed with fresh water. The boat is in running or in operational condition when the valve is positioned as illustrated in FIG. 4C.

The system and method of the present invention is a significant improvement over conventional systems and methods in that it can be operated by one person. Conventionally used systems are ones that are commonly called an “Ear Muff”. It resembles a pair of winter ear muffs with a garden hose attached. The ear muff mechanism is placed around the lower unit raw water intake, the water is turned on and then the engine is started. With vibration from the engine, the ear muff has a tendency to fall off. If this happens most engines will overheat in a short amount of time. Vessels with high performance engines will overheat rapidly. So as a precaution most people will have one person watching the out drive (or lower unit), and one person operating the engines. In high performance boats with above water exhaust the person operating the ear muffs has to be aware of the hot water discharge from the exhaust system.

The water connection in the system and method of the present invention has a more stable secure connection then systems currently in use. Thus, the present invention is constructed and arranged to prevent inadvertent and undesirable disconnection during use.

The system and method is also less complex, and thus easier and simpler to use then conventional systems.

In use, the intake hose is removed from the sea strainer commonly found on marine engines. NPT connector or pipe connector 20 and Union ring are attached to the sea strainer. Valve 10 is then attached to the NPT connector via the union ring 39. If desired, one end of valve 10 end has barbed hose connector 18. With the hose removed, a user can cut the hose to a sufficient length to fit over the barbed connector 18 with union ring and band clamps over the hose. Now the stainless band clamps are used to secure the hose to the barbed connector 18. The union ring is attached thus securing the barbed connector 18 to valve 10. A mounting bracket is used to secure valve 10 to the hull or bulkhead of a vessel as needed. Once valve 10 is connected as desired, fresh water can be supplied to the system to flush the desired components. A user first initiates fresh water supply to the system, then starts the engine.

FIG. 3 shows a twin engine setup using a hose harness, and optional deck fitting for accommodating a garden hose or a check valve for drawing water from an onboard water supply. In an optional embodiment, the valves may be electrically operated by means of a solenoid actuator. With electronic actuation, the valves can be operated remotely (e.g. from the steering station of the vessel).

In the configuration of FIG. 3, the twin engine manifold, each valve 10 installs exactly the same with one valve on each side. The only difference is that the garden hose attachment is replaces by a barbed hose attachment. Inlet hose 25 connects to barbed t-connector 26 at barbed connector 29. Hose 23 connects at a first end to t-connector 26 at barbed connector 27 and at a second end to barbed connector 18 of valve 10. Hose 24 connects at a first end to t-connector 26 at barbed connector 28 and at a second end to barbed connector 18 of valve 10. Now the manifold is attached to the barbed end on each side, both coming to the center T-connector 26. Inlet hose 25 may be either attached to a thru hull garden hose connector or to an inline check valve (to prevent salt water intrusion to the holding tank) which is then attached to fresh water holding tanks commonly onboard marine vessels. Use of the fresh water holding tank has an additional advantage that a user can flush a marine vessel engine when a hose is not available and the stale water in the holding tanks is turned over or refreshed more often.

While the invention has been described in its preferred form or embodiment with some degree of particularity, it is understood that this description has been given only by way of example and that numerous changes in the details of construction, fabrication, and use, including the combination and arrangement of parts, may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.