Title:
MOMENTUM STEERING SYSTEM FOR A VEHICLE OR CARRIERS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to a steering system for use in a vehicle or carrier. In embodiments, the steering system comprises a first tilt shaft for connecting to a first load-bearing body of a vehicle and a second tilt shaft for connecting to a second load-bearing body of a vehicle. In embodiments, a spacer element connects the first tilt shaft to the second tilt shaft. The spacer element and tilt shafts are adapted such that the first tilt shaft and second tilt shaft are capable of partially rotating about the longitudinal direction of the tilt shafts independently of each other. The invention also relates to a vehicle, carrier and/or a split deck pushboard comprising one or more embodiments of the steering system.



Inventors:
Jackman, Thomas (Palmerston North, NZ)
Puklowski, Jayson Leslie (Palmerston North, NZ)
Application Number:
12/345549
Publication Date:
07/02/2009
Filing Date:
12/29/2008
Assignee:
FLEXIBILITY CONCEPTS, LTD. (Palmerston North, NZ)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C17/01
View Patent Images:
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20090008917Landing gear jack and methods of useJanuary, 2009Daniel
20090007948Reconfigurable travel trailerJanuary, 2009Dempsey et al.
20070164532Bicycle skateboard rackJuly, 2007Nemec et al.
20050242559Restraint device for a seat beltNovember, 2005Jernstrvm
20100072718Compactable Utility Laundry PushcartMarch, 2010Funk
20090256322Roller skate frameOctober, 2009Wan
20080258425Rear Fork for BicycleOctober, 2008Tribotte
20100019479COMBINATION TRUNK COVER WITH SPOILER AND SCROLLING DISPLAYJanuary, 2010Haynes



Primary Examiner:
TRIGGS, JAMES J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SEED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW GROUP LLP (701 FIFTH AVE SUITE 5400, SEATTLE, WA, 98104, US)
Claims:
1. A steering system for use in a vehicle or carrier, the steering system comprising: a first tilt shaft configured to connect to a first load-bearing body and a second tilt shaft configured to connect to a second load-bearing body; and a spacer element configured to connect the first tilt shaft to the second tilt shaft; wherein the spacer element and tilt shafts are adapted such that when connected the first tilt shaft and second tilt shaft are each capable of partially rotating about a longitudinal direction independently of each other.

2. The steering system of claim 1 wherein the first and second tilt shafts are substantially cylindrical and each comprise at least one engagement slot positioned on each tilt shaft substantially perpendicular to a direction of projection of the tilt shaft; and wherein the spacer element comprises a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior adapted to rotatably house a distal end of each tilt shaft therein, the spacer element comprising a pair of engagement apertures positioned to align with respective engagement slots when the first and second tilt shafts are housed within the spacer element; and wherein the pushboard further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin configured to slide along a direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

3. The steering system of claim 1 wherein the spacer element is substantially cylindrical and comprises at least two engagement slots positioned on the spacer element substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal direction of the spacer element; and wherein a distal end of each of the first and second tilt shafts comprise a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior of the tilt shafts being adapted to rotatably house distal ends of the spacer element therein, the first and second tilt shafts each comprising at least one engagement aperture positioned to align with at least one respective engagement slot when the spacer element is housed within the tilt shafts; and wherein the pushboard further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin configured to slide along a direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

4. The steering system of claim 1 wherein the first and second tilt shafts are substantially cylindrical and each comprise at least one engagement aperture; and wherein the spacer element comprises a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior adapted to rotatably house a distal end of each tilt shaft therein, the spacer element comprising a pair of engagement slots positioned on the spacer element substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal direction of the spacer element, each engagement slot being positioned to align with at least one respective engagement aperture when the first and second tilt shafts are housed within the spacer element; and wherein the pushboard further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin configured to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

5. The steering system of claim 1 wherein the spacer element is substantially cylindrical and comprises at least two engagement apertures; and wherein a distal end of each of the first and second tilt shafts comprises a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior of each of the tilt shafts being adapted to rotatably house distal ends of the spacer element therein, the first and second tilt shafts each comprising at least one engagement slot positioned substantially perpendicular to a direction of projection of the tilt shafts and positioned to align with at least one respective engagement slot when the spacer element is housed within the tilt shafts; and wherein the pushboard further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin configured to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

6. The steering system of claim 2, wherein each tilt shaft comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots near a distal end of each tilt shaft and each end of the spacer element comprises a pair of opposing engagement apertures adapted to align with respective engagement slots when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

7. The steering system of claim 3, wherein the spacer element comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots near each end of the spacer element and each tilt shaft comprises a pair of opposing engagement apertures adapted to align with respective engagement slots when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

8. A vehicle, comprising: a first load-bearing body and a second load-bearing body; a first cylindrical tilt shaft projecting from the first load-bearing body and a second cylindrical tilt shaft projecting from the second load-bearing body, the first and second tilt shafts configured to be connected together by a spacer element; wherein the spacer element and tilt shafts are configured such that when connected the first tilt shaft and second tilt shaft are each capable of partially rotating about a longitudinal direction of the tilt shaft independently of the other tilt shaft.

9. The vehicle of claim 8 wherein the first and second tilt shafts are substantially cylindrical and each comprise at least one engagement slot positioned on each tilt shaft substantially perpendicular to a direction of projection of the tilt shaft; and wherein the spacer element comprises a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior adapted to rotatably house a distal end of each tilt shaft therein, the spacer element comprising a pair of engagement apertures positioned to align with respective engagement slots when the first and second tilt shafts are housed within the spacer element; and wherein the vehicle further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

10. The vehicle of claim 8 wherein the spacer element is substantially cylindrical and comprises at least two engagement slots positioned substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal direction of the spacer element; and wherein distal ends of the first and second tilt shafts each comprise a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior of each of the tilt shafts being adapted to rotatably house a distal end of the spacer element therein, the first and second tilt shafts each comprising at least one engagement aperture positioned to align with at least one respective engagement slot when the spacer element is housed within the tilt shaft; and wherein the pushboard further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

11. The vehicle of claim 8 wherein the first and second tilt shafts are substantially cylindrical and each comprise at least one engagement aperture; and wherein the spacer element comprises a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior adapted to rotatably house distal ends of each tilt shaft therein, the spacer element comprising a pair of engagement slots positioned on the spacer element substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal direction of the spacer element, each engagement slot being positioned to align with at least one respective engagement aperture when the first and second tilt shafts are housed within the spacer element; and wherein the vehicle further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

12. The vehicle of claim 8 wherein the spacer element is substantially cylindrical and comprises at least two engagement apertures; and wherein distal ends of the first and second tilt shafts comprise substantially hollow interiors, the substantially hollow interior of the tilt shafts being adapted to rotatably house distal ends of the spacer element therein, the first and second tilt shafts each comprising at least one engagement slot positioned substantially perpendicular to a direction of projection of the tilt shafts and positioned to align with at least one respective engagement slot when the spacer element is housed within the tilt shafts; and wherein the vehicle further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

13. The vehicle of claim 9 wherein each tilt shaft comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots near a distal end of each tilt shaft and each end of the spacer element comprises a pair of opposing engagement apertures adapted to align with respective engagement slots when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

14. The vehicle of claim 10 wherein the spacer element comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots near each end of the spacer element and each tilt shaft comprises a pair of opposing engagement apertures adapted to align with respective engagement slots when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

15. A pushboard, comprising: a first platform having a lower surface from which projects a wheel assembly and a first shaft support; and a second platform having a lower surface from which projects a wheel assembly and a second shaft support; a first tilt shaft projecting from the first shaft support and a second tilt shaft projecting from the second shaft support, the first and second tilt shafts being connected together by a spacer element; wherein the spacer element and tilt shafts are adapted such that the first tilt shaft and second tilt shaft are capable of partially rotating about a longitudinal direction of the pushboard independently of each other.

16. The pushboard of claim 15 wherein the first and second tilt shafts are substantially cylindrical and each comprise at least one engagement slot positioned on each tilt shaft substantially perpendicular to a direction of projection of the tilt shafts; and wherein the spacer element comprises a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior adapted to rotatably house distal ends of each tilt shaft therein, the spacer element comprising a pair of engagement apertures positioned to align with respective engagement slots when the first and second tilt shafts are housed within the spacer element; and wherein the pushboard further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

17. The pushboard of claim 15 wherein the spacer element is substantially cylindrical and comprises at least two engagement slots positioned substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal direction of the spacer element; and wherein distal ends of the first and second tilt shafts each comprise a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interiors of the tilt shafts each being adapted to rotatably house a distal end of the spacer element therein, the first and second tilt shafts each comprising at least one engagement aperture positioned to align with at least one respective engagement slot when the spacer element is housed within the tilt shafts; and wherein the pushboard further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

18. The pushboard of claim 15 wherein the first and second tilt shafts are substantially cylindrical and each comprise at least one engagement aperture; and wherein the spacer element comprises a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior adapted to rotatably house distal ends of each tilt shaft therein, the spacer element comprising a pair of engagement slots positioned substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal direction of the spacer element, each engagement slot being positioned to align with at least one respective engagement aperture when the first and second tilt shafts are housed within the spacer element; and wherein the pushboard further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

19. The pushboard of claim 15 wherein the spacer element is substantially cylindrical and comprises at least two engagement apertures; and wherein distal ends of the first and second tilt shafts each comprise a substantially hollow interior, the substantially hollow interior of each the tilt shaft being adapted to rotatably house a distal end of the spacer element therein, the first and second tilt shafts each comprising at least one engagement slot positioned substantially perpendicular to the direction of projection of the tilt shafts and positioned to align with at least one respective engagement slot when the spacer element is housed within the tilt shafts; and wherein the pushboard further comprises a pair of engagement pins adapted to project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

20. The pushboard of claim 16, wherein each tilt shaft comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots near a distal end of each tilt shaft and each end of the spacer element comprises a pair of opposing engagement apertures adapted to align with respective engagement slots when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

21. The pushboard of claim 17 wherein the spacer element comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots near each end of the spacer element and each tilt shaft comprises a pair of opposing engagement apertures adapted to align with respective engagement slots when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

22. The pushboard of claim 15 wherein each tilt shaft comprises at least one lock aperture and the spacer element comprises at least two lock apertures positioned to align with lock apertures of the tilt shafts when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

23. The pushboard of claim 15 wherein the tilt shafts each comprise a pair of opposing lock apertures and the spacer element comprises two pairs of opposing lock apertures, one pair of opposing lock apertures being positioned to align with opposing lock apertures of one tilt shaft and the other pair of opposing lock apertures being positioned to align with opposing lock apertures of the other tilt shaft when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element via a locking pin projecting through the lock apertures.

24. The pushboard of claim 15 wherein the first and second wheel assemblies each comprises a truck that is angled generally between 30 and 75 degrees from the respective platform base to which the wheel assembly is attached.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

The disclosure relates to a steering system for a vehicle or carriers comprising at least two connected load-bearing bodies. The steering system allows one load-bearing body of a vehicle to be steered independently of another connected load-bearing body of the vehicle. In particular, the disclosure relates to a steering system suitable for use in a vehicle, such as a pushboard for example, comprising a split deck where the improved steering system allows one deck to be steered independently of the other deck.

2. Description of the Related Art

Well known examples of vehicles or carriers (for example, two articulated trailers that are towed by a vehicle and are not self-driven) comprising two or more load-bearing bodies that are connected together and that have limited steering ability include articulated trucks, buses, trains, monorails, skateboards, and pushboards. It is also well-known that the steering systems in such vehicles are generally configured such that the forward-most load-bearing body is steered and the following load-bearing body connected to the forward-most body follows the same path of direction as the forward-most body and is unable to be steered independently. Such steering systems do not provide for controlled steering of such vehicles, especially around corners, for example, where articulated trucks and buses must use a wide steering circle to negotiate a sharp corner.

Skateboards having prior art steering systems are also unable to provide well-controlled steering, especially around sharp corners.

For example, a typical prior art skateboard comprises a single elongated platform having two wheels sets mounted fore and aft to the underside of the platform. These wheel sets are generally attached to the platform using skateboard ‘trucks’, which steer the wheels when the rider tilts the board to the left or right by placing pressure on the respective side of the skateboard. The trucks usually comprise a resilient cushion, which can be compressed somewhat to turn a corner, but which generally resists tilting.

A rider typically steers such a skateboard by putting pressure on one side of the board, causing the outside wheels to arc around the inside wheels on which the pressure is focused such that the skateboard turns in the direction of pressure. The rear wheels of the skateboard substantially follow the path taken by the forward wheels.

Because the fore and aft skateboard trucks are unable to steer independently and because the trucks substantially resist tilting, the skateboard is not capable of turning sharp corners with all four wheels on the ground. As such, the skateboard offers limited maneuverability.

To provide a skateboard with increased maneuverability, U.S. Pat. No. 4,082,306 discloses a skateboard comprising two platforms joined by a torsion bar. This skateboard allows the rider to tilt the fore and aft trucks independently. However, this skateboard does not allow for a tighter turning radius.

Described below are embodiments of a new steering system for a vehicle or carrier that goes at least some way toward overcoming at least one of the abovementioned disadvantages, or to at least to provide a useful alternative.

BRIEF SUMMARY

Some of the embodiments disclosed herein provide a steering system for use in a vehicle or carrier, the steering system comprising: a first tilt shaft for connecting to a first load-bearing body of a vehicle or carrier and a second tilt shaft for connecting to a second load-bearing body of the vehicle or carrier; and a spacer element for connecting the first tilt shaft to the second tilt shaft; wherein the spacer element and tilt shafts are adapted such that the first tilt shaft and second tilt shaft are capable of partially rotating about the longitudinal direction of the tilt shafts independently of each other.

In another aspect, disclosed embodiments provide a vehicle or carrier comprising: a first load-bearing body and a second load-bearing body, each load-bearing body comprising carrying means; a first cylindrical tilt shaft projecting from the first load-bearing body and a second cylindrical tilt shaft projecting from the second load-bearing body, the first and second tilt shafts being connected together by a spacer element; wherein the spacer element and tilt shafts are adapted such that the first tilt shaft and second tilt shaft are capable of partially rotating about the longitudinal direction of the tilt shafts independently of each other.

In yet another aspect, disclosed embodiments provide a pushboard comprising: a first platform having a lower surface from which projects a wheel assembly and a first shaft support; and a second platform having a lower surface from which projects a wheel assembly and a second shaft support; a first tilt shaft projecting from the first shaft support and a second tilt shaft projecting from the second shaft support, the first and second tilt shafts being connected together by a spacer element; wherein the spacer element and tilt shafts are adapted such that the first tilt shaft and second tilt shaft are capable of partially rotating about the longitudinal direction of the pushboard independently of each other.

In preferred embodiments, the first and second wheel assemblies each comprises a truck that is angled generally between 30 and 75 from the respective platform base to which the wheel assembly is attached.

In a one embodiment, the first and second tilt shafts are substantially cylindrical and each comprise at least one engagement slot positioned on each tilt shaft substantially perpendicular to the direction of projection of the tilt shafts. The spacer element is substantially hollow, the substantially hollow interior adapted to rotatably house distal ends of each tilt shaft therein. The spacer element comprises a pair of engagement apertures positioned to align with respective engagement slots when the first and second tilt shafts are housed within the spacer element. A pair of engagement pins project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

In an alternative embodiment, the spacer element is substantially cylindrical and comprises at least two engagement slots positioned on the spacer element substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal direction of the spacer element. The distal ends of the first and second tilt shafts are substantially hollow, the substantially hollow interior of the tilt shafts being adapted to rotatably house distal ends of the spacer element therein. The first and second tilt shafts each comprise at least one engagement aperture positioned to align with at least one respective engagement slot when the spacer element is housed within the tilt shafts. A pair of engagement pins project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

In another alternative embodiment, the first and second tilt shafts are substantially cylindrical and each comprise at least one engagement aperture. The spacer element is substantially hollow, the substantially hollow interior adapted to rotatably house distal ends of each tilt shaft therein. The spacer element comprises a pair of engagement slots positioned on the spacer element substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal direction of the spacer element. Each engagement slot is positioned to align with at least one respective engagement aperture when the first and second tilt shafts are housed within the spacer element. A pair of engagement pins project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

In yet another alternative embodiment, the spacer element is substantially cylindrical and comprises at least two engagement apertures. The distal ends of the first and second tilt shafts are substantially hollow, the substantially hollow interior of the tilt shafts being adapted to rotatably house distal ends of the spacer element therein. The first and second tilt shafts each comprise at least one engagement slot positioned substantially perpendicular to the direction of projection of the tilt shafts and positioned to align with at least one respective engagement slot when the spacer element is housed within the tilt shafts. A pair of engagement pins project through aligned engagement apertures and engagement slots to attach the spacer element to the tilt shafts, each engagement pin being able to slide along the direction of the respective engagement slot through which it projects such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate independently within the spacer element.

In embodiments, each engagement pin may be in the form of a nut and bolt arrangement where the bolt has a shaft that extends through the opposing slots and is secured to the spacer element by a nut.

In a preferred embodiment, each tilt shaft comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots near a distal end of each tilt shaft and each end of the spacer element comprises a pair of opposing engagement apertures adapted to align with respective engagement slots when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

In another preferred embodiment, the spacer element comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots near each end of the spacer element and each tilt shaft comprises a pair of opposing engagement apertures adapted to align with respective engagement slots when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

In embodiments, each tilt shaft may comprise at least one lock aperture and the spacer element may comprise at least two lock apertures positioned to align with lock apertures of the tilt shafts when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element.

In a preferred embodiment, the tilt shafts each comprise a pair of opposing lock apertures and the spacer element comprises two pairs of opposing lock apertures, one pair of opposing lock apertures being positioned to align with opposing lock apertures of one tilt shaft and the other pair of opposing lock apertures being positioned to align with opposing lock apertures of the other tilt shaft when the tilt shafts are connected to the spacer element via a locking pin projecting through the lock apertures. In embodiments, the engagement apertures in the spacer element may serve as lock apertures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the disclosure will now be described with reference to the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a pushboard having an exemplary steering system;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 after wheels have been removed;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 after a spacer element has been removed; and

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, certain specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of various embodiments of the invention. However, one skilled in the art will understand that embodiments of the invention may be practiced without those details.

Embodiments of the steering system are able to be used with vehicles or carriers comprising at least two load-bearing bodies connected together. Embodiments of the steering system for controlled and independent steering of both load-bearing bodies, such that the exemplary steering systems provide improved steering ability and greater cornering stability in vehicles fitted with the steering system.

In embodiments the term “carrier” as used herein, generally relates to an apparatus comprising two or more connected load-bearing bodies that are towed. Thus, in some embodiments, the load-bearing bodies are not self-driven. An example of such a carrier, is an articulated trailer where the two or more load-bearing bodies of the trailer are connected together and are towed by a truck or other self-propelled conveyance. In embodiments, a vehicle may comprise one or more carriers. In other embodiments, a vehicle may be a carrier.

Embodiments of the steering system will now be described with reference to the drawings, in which an exemplary embodiment is shown applied to a pushboard. However, although not shown, it is envisaged that embodiments of the steering system could also be applied to numerous other vehicles. For example, in other exemplary embodiments, the steering system could be applied to a snowboard, a tilt train, a monorail, or a haulage truck or snowmobile with one or more trailers. Embodiments of the steering system could also be used in relation to two trailers connected by the steering system.

In reference to the drawings, one embodiment of steering system comprises a first tilt shaft 9 for connecting to a first load-bearing body of a vehicle and a second tilt shaft 9 for connecting to a second load-bearing body of a vehicle. A spacer element 12 is used to connect the first tilt shaft 9 to the second tilt shaft 9, the spacer element 12 being substantially hollow and being adapted to house distal ends of the tilt shafts 9 within its substantially hollow interior.

The tilt shafts 9 may each comprise at least one engagement slot 10 perpendicular to the longitudinal direction of the tilt shafts 9. In a preferred embodiment, each tilt shaft 9 comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots 10 near the distal end of each tilt shaft 9. The spacer element 12 comprises at least two engagement apertures 13, each engagement aperture 13 adapted to align with an engagement slot 10 of a tilt shaft 9 when the tilt shafts are housed within the spacer element 12.

The steering system also comprises a pair of engagement pins 14. Each engagement pin is adapted to project through an aligned engagement aperture 13 and engagement slot 10 to connect the tilt shafts 9 to the spacer element 12. Each engagement pin 14 is capable of sliding along the engagement slot 10 through which the pin 14 projects such that the tilt shafts 9 are able to rotate independently within the spacer element 12.

As shown in FIG. 1, embodiments can be used with a vehicle or carrier, such as a pushboard for example, that comprises two connected load-bearing bodies. Each load-bearing body comprises a platform 1 and carrying means in the form of a pushboard truck 2, at least one wheel pivot axle 5, and at least one pair of wheels 15. A relieved area on the underside of the platform is provided to avoid interference with the wheels.

In other exemplary embodiments, applied to different vehicles, the load-bearing bodies may each comprise slightly different components. For example, in certain embodiments of the steering system applied to a train, each load-bearing body would comprise a carriage attached to carrying means comprising a plurality of wheels. In certain embodiments of the steering system applied to a monorail, then no wheels may be required if the vehicle is magnetically levitating, in which case, the carrying means would be in the form of a magnet. In certain embodiments of the steering system applied to a snowmobile with one or more trailers, each load-bearing body would comprise a carriage (which may be the snowmobile itself or a trailer) and carrying means in the form of a plurality of skis, or caterpillar tracks.

For the purposes of illustrating exemplary embodiments of the steering system when applied to an appropriate vehicle, embodiments will now be described in relation to a split-deck pushboard. However, it will be appreciated that although the steering system is described in relation to a split-deck pushboard, the steering system may also be used in relation to other appropriate articulated vehicles.

As shown in FIGS. 1 to 3, an exemplary steering system can be applied to a split-deck pushboard that comprises a first platform or deck 1 connected to a second platform 1 and a spacer element 12 therebetween. Pushboard trucks 2 are attached to the bottom surface of each platform. The pushboard trucks 2 hold wheel assemblies that each comprise a wheel pivot axle 5 and wheels 15 attached to the wheel pivot axles 5. The wheels 15 may be attached to the wheel pivot axles 5 in an appropriate manner known in the art.

In embodiments, steering system comprises a tilt shaft 9, in the form of a cylindrical bar, that projects from a shaft support or tilt shaft bracket 7 attached to each truck 2. Each tilt shaft bracket 7 comprises a sleeve within which a tilt shaft 9 is positioned and secured in place.

Although the tilt shaft bracket/support 7 is shown embodiments as a sleeve attached to a pushboard truck 2, it is envisaged that the tilt shaft brackets or supports 7 may take on other forms as would be readily apparent to a person skilled in the art. The bracket/support may simply be a supporting face to which the tilt shaft is attached by welds, for example. Furthermore, it is not essential for the tilt shaft bracket/supports to be attached to pushboard trucks. For example, a tilt shaft bracket/support may be directly attached to the lower surface of a platform of the pushboard or to another part of the load-bearing body as would be readily apparent to a person skilled in the art.

Thus, it is envisaged that different forms of tilt shaft supports/brackets could be used and could be attached to each load-bearing body or platform using various means in order to provide a support from which a tilt shaft can project. Such forms of tilt shaft supports/brackets would be readily apparent to a person skilled in the art in light of the present disclosure.

Turning now to the tilt shafts in embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-4, each tilt shaft 9 comprises at least one engagement slot 10 positioned substantially perpendicular to the direction in which the tilt shaft 9 projects, as shown in FIG. 3. In a preferred embodiment, each tilt shaft comprises a pair of opposing engagement slots 10.

The engagement slot(s) 10 may be located near the distal end of the tilt shaft 9, as shown in FIG. 3. However, it is envisaged that the engagement slot(s) may be located in other locations along the tilt shaft. It is also envisioned in embodiments that the engagement slot(s) are oriented substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal direction of the tilt shaft.

In embodiments, tilt shafts 9 may be hollow or substantially hollow, at least in the area of the engagement slot(s) 10, so that that an engagement pin 14 (described below) can project through the engagement slot(s) in a tilt shaft 9 and be held in the slot(s) 10 to connect the tilt shaft 9 to the spacer element 12, whilst being capable of sliding along the direction of the slot(s) 10.

In certain embodiments, each platform 1, attached pushboard truck 2, wheel pivot axle 5, wheels 15, and tilt shaft 9 together form a load-bearing body.

Two load-bearing bodies are connected to each other by connecting the tilt shaft 9 of one load-bearing body with the tilt shaft 9 of the other load-bearing body via a spacer element 12 and engagement means.

The spacer element 12 is substantially hollow with a circular internal cross-section that is dimensioned to house each substantially cylindrical tilt shaft 9 such that each tilt shaft 9 is free to rotate around its longitudinal axis within the spacer element 12.

The spacer element 12 has two opposing distal ends and comprises at least one engagement aperture 13. If the tilt shafts of the pushboard each comprise opposing engagement slots 10, then the spacer element will typically be provided with a pair of opposing engagement apertures 13. The engagement apertures 13 are positioned on the spacer element 12 so that they align with engagement slots 10 on the tilt shafts 9 when the tilt shafts 9 are positioned within the spacer element 12.

To connect the tilt shafts 9 to the spacer element 12, the spacer element 12 is positioned over the distal ends of each tilt shaft 9 (similar to a collar or sleeve) so that the distal ends of the tilt shafts 9 are housed within the spacer element 12 and the engagement slots 10 in the tilt shafts 9 align with the respective engagement apertures 13 in the spacer element 12.

An engagement pin 14 is positioned through each of the aligned engagement aperture(s) 13 and slot(s) 10. The engagement pins 14 are each secured in place to retain the tilt shafts 9 within the spacer element 12. The engagement pins 14 shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 4 are in the form of a bolt that is positioned through opposing engagement apertures 13 and opposing slots 10 and is secured in place by a nut.

In a second embodiment of the steering system (not shown), the engagement slots may be positioned on the spacer element instead of on the tilt shafts, and corresponding engagement apertures may be positioned on the tilt shafts to align with the engagement slots.

In a third embodiment of the steering system (not shown), the distal ends of the tilt shafts are substantially hollow and have an internal cross-section that is substantially circular. The spacer element is substantially cylindrical and is adapted to be housed within the distal ends of the tilt shafts. The spacer element comprises first and second engagement slots. The first engagement slot is positioned to align with an engagement aperture located on the first tilt shaft and the second engagement slot is positioned to align with an engagement aperture located on the second tilt shaft. A first engagement pin projects through the first engagement slot and aligned engagement aperture to connect the spacer element to the tilt shaft of the first load-bearing body. A second engagement pin projects through the second engagement slot and aligned engagement aperture to connect the spacer element to the tilt shaft of the second load-bearing body. The engagement pins are able to slide along the direction of the engagement slots such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate about its longitudinal axis independently of the other tilt shaft.

In a fourth alternative embodiment of the steering system (not shown), the engagement slots may be positioned on the tilt shafts instead of on the spacer element, and corresponding engagement apertures may be positioned on the spacer element to align with the engagement slots, as set out in the embodiments described above. However, in this fourth embodiment, the spacer element is substantially cylindrical and is adapted to be housed within the distal ends of the tilt shafts, as set out in the third embodiment described above. Again, a first engagement pin projects through one engagement slot and aligned engagement aperture to connect the spacer element to the tilt shaft of one load-bearing body. A second engagement pin projects through another engagement slot and aligned engagement aperture to connect the spacer element to the tilt shaft of the other load-bearing body. The engagement pins are able to slide along the direction of the engagement slots such that each tilt shaft is able to partially rotate about its longitudinal axis independently of the other tilt shaft.

Embodiments of the steering system may also comprise an additional locking feature that allows the vehicle to be steered in a more conventional manner. To provide this locking feature, the tilt shafts 9, can be fixedly attached to the spacer element 12 without rotating within or around the spacer element. To achieve this effect, the tilt shafts and the spacer element each include at least one lock aperture 11a, 11b. In preferred embodiments, the tilt shafts and spacer element each comprise a pair of substantially opposing lock apertures 11a, 11b through which a locking pin can project. The lock apertures are positioned to align with each other when the tilt shafts 9 are positioned within or around the spacer element 12.

When the lock apertures 11a, 11b are aligned, a locking pin is positioned to project through the lock apertures and is secured in position to lock the tilt shafts in position within the spacer element. In embodiments, the locking pin fits snugly within the lock apertures so that the tilt shafts are firmly held in position and are unable to tilt.

The engagement pin 14 may serve as a locking pin if it is removed from the engagement slots 10 and positioned instead within the lock apertures 11a, 11b. Alternatively, a specific locking pin may be used to lock the tilt shafts in position via the lock apertures 11a, 11b.

Thus, a vehicle having the additional locking feature can be set up to be steered in the manner typical of single platform vehicles, such as pushboards for example, when the tilt shaft is locked against the spacer element via the lock apertures; or the vehicle can be set up so that both load-bearing bodies in the pushboard can be steered independently.

In embodiments, for example a small vehicle such as a pushboard, the vehicle is able to be dismantled into at least three parts consisting of the first load-bearing body, the second load-bearing body, and the spacer element. The dismantled vehicle or pushboard can be easily transported, packaged, or stored away.

When a vehicle comprising certain embodiments of the steering system is set up so that the engagement pins 14 project through, and are free to slide along, the engagement slots 10 along the direction of the slots, the tilt shafts 9 are able to partially rotate within the spacer element 12 independently of each other. This allows the load-bearing bodies of the vehicle (or platforms for example) to tilt independently from each other about the longitudinal axis of the vehicle or pushboard to a greater extent than the degree of tilt possible in corresponding prior art vehicles or pushboards.

Where embodiments of the steering system are applied to a pushboard, for example, the greater degree of tilt offered by the steering system over prior art pushboards, has the advantage that the cornering ability of the pushboard is greatly enhanced and the rider has better control over the steering of the pushboard, so that the pushboard is safer. Furthermore, by allowing the platforms to tilt independently from each other and to tilt to such an extent, embodiments of the disclosed system allow, for example a pushboard, to carry out steering maneuvers not available in prior art pushboards. For example, the first load-bearing body or platform can be steered independently from the second body or platform and can turn sharp corners whilst keeping all four wheels on the ground.

Another advantage offered to a vehicle or pushboard comprising one or more embodiments of the steering system is that each load-bearing body of the vehicle or pushboard is better able to follow the contours of the land without being limited by the movement, or lack of movement, or the other connected load-bearing body.

In addition, the vehicle or pushboard is more stable when going over bumps and stones, because each platform can tilt to retain a horizontal position, even if the wheel(s) on one side of one or both platforms are raised.

Yet another advantage is that a vehicle comprising one or more embodiments of the steering system can be steered from the front platform and/or from the rear platform. This differs from some prior art vehicles, such as pushboards where the rear wheels follow the front wheels.

Where an embodiment of the steering system is applied to a pushboard, one form of pushboard truck that can be used is an angled truck similar to that disclosed in WO9835872A1.

Another form of pushboard truck that can be used is depicted in FIGS. 1 to 3. In embodiments, each pushboard truck comprises a top plate by which the truck is attached to the lower surface of a pushboard platform. An axle bracket 3 projects from the top plate at an angle, generally between 30 to 75 degrees from the top plate but other angles could also be used. In a preferred embodiment, a 45 degree angle of projection is used. However, it is envisaged that in some instances, the axle bracket may extend at angles less than 30 degrees, or more than 75 degrees, from the top plate. In embodiments, the axle bracket is adapted to hold a wheel pivot axle 5, to which the wheels are attached in a manner that is readily known to a person skilled in the art.

One form of axle bracket 3, as shown in FIGS. 1 to 3, comprises a pair of opposing plates separated by a bush 4 to which is connected the pivot axle 5. The bush 4 is attached to the axle bracket 3 by a pin 6, which in embodiments may be a nut and bolt assembly. The bush 4 and pivot axle 5 are able to rotate, to some extent, about the pin 6 when pressure is applied to one side of the platform 1. The angled pivot axles 5 allow for progressive controlled turning of the axles 5. This controlled turning is an advantage afforded by the pivot axles 5 and is an improvement on standard trucks.

Because the pivot axle 5 can rotate around the pin 6, the pushboard is able to turn in the usual manner when pressure is applied to one side of a platform 1. However, the angled truck arrangement provides the advantage that a rider has more controlled steering of the pushboard because pressure on one side of the platform 1 of the pushboard will more readily turn the pivot axle 5 about the pin 6 than in prior art pushboard trucks.

In another embodiment, the pivot axles may pivot relative to the spacer element, substantially horizontally along a plane substantially parallel with the platform/deck of the pushboard.

When an embodiment of the angled pivot axles 5 shown in FIGS. 1 to 3 are used on a pushboard or other appropriate vehicle together with one or more embodiments of the steering system, the steering system of the board/vehicle may be operated in certain embodiments by moving the angled pivot axles 5 in a controlled manner by rotating and leaning vertically and horizontally. The platforms 1 have the ability to tilt independently of each other through the partially rotatable union of the tilt shafts 9 and spacer element 12. This, in turn, allows the angled pivot axles 5 to rotate in a controlled manner, which allows the rider to power the board/vehicle or to turn it in either direction. To enhance the steering even further, it is possible to rotate the two platforms 1 around the two tilt shafts 9, which further increases the steering ability.

In other embodiments, it is also possible to lock the tilt shafts 9 in position with respect to the spacer element by using locking pins that project through the spacer element 12 and tilt shafts 9 to lock each part in position relative to the other. This allows the rider to use the same board/vehicle for a different style of riding.

In alternate embodiments, each engagement pin may be a retractable pin biased toward a projecting position and attached to a tilt shaft for engaging with an engagement slot, or substantially opposing engagement slots, in the spacer element when the pin is in the projecting position. In such embodiments, engagement apertures in the tilt shafts may not unnecessary. For example, such resilient pins may be instead positioned on the spacer element for engagement with engagement slots positioned on the tilt shafts as the case may be.

While the steering system has been described in relation to pushboards, it will be appreciated that the steering system also relates to other articulated vehicles, such as split-deck snowboards or sandboards, or any vehicle that comprises two or more load-bearing bodies that are connected to each other, such as a car and trailer, truck and trailer, snowmobile and trailer, train, monorail, pushchair towing a toddler standing platform, or the like. Where the steering system is applied to such vehicles, the wheels may be replaced with other suitable carrying means, such as caterpillar tracks, magnet(s), or skis for example.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that, although specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, variations and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not limited except as by the appended claims.

The various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments. All of the U.S. patents, U.S. patent application publications, U.S. patent applications, foreign patents, foreign patent applications and non-patent publications referred to in this specification and/or listed in the Application Data Sheet are incorporated herein by reference, in their entirety. Aspects of the embodiments can be modified, if necessary to employ concepts of the various patents, applications and publications to provide yet further embodiments.

These and other changes can be made to the embodiments in light of the above-detailed description. In general, in the following claims, the terms used should not be construed to limit the claims to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification and the claims, but should be construed to include all possible embodiments along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled. Accordingly, the claims are not limited by the disclosure.