Title:
Pool cover drive mechanism
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for retracting a pool cover from over a pool, or extending a pool cover over a pool, includes a pool cover collecting drum supported for rotation on its ends, and a drive gear connected to the drum. A power gear for engaging the drive gear is operably connected to a portable, battery operated electric drill by a power shaft. When the drill is activated, the drive gear rotates the pool cover collecting drum to collect and retract the pool cover from over the pool. The pool cover is placed back over the pool by operation of a complementary apparatus on the opposite side of the pool, such as a rope spool collecting apparatus having an engageable drive gear. The gear-driven spool pulls on a rope attached to a rigid end or carrier of the pool cover. As the pool cover is extended and retracted it slides in a track, allowing the cover to serve as a safety cover. The gears may be located in a sealed housing filled with lubricant. The drive shaft may include a universal joint, and the drill may be designed to engage the power shaft with a flexible socket adapter.



Inventors:
Mathis, Wesley L. (Sandy, UT, US)
Pickens, William D. (Richmond, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/752970
Publication Date:
09/27/2001
Filing Date:
12/29/2000
Assignee:
Pool Cover Specialists National, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/10; (IPC1-7): E04H4/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KARL R CANNON (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A system for uncovering a swimming pool, comprising: a pool cover; retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck, the means configured and adapted to be activated by use of a portable low voltage power source; coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling a portable low voltage power source to the retracting means, such that said portable low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position.

2. The system of claim 1, further comprising a portable low voltage power source.

3. The system of claim 1, where the portable low voltage power source is a rechargeable electric drill.

4. The system of claim 3, further comprising at least one track, in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

5. The system of claim 1, further comprising extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position to an extended position covering the pool.

6. The system of claim 5, where the extending means further comprises at least one line that is wrapped on at least one spool.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the extending means further comprises coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the extending means, such the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover to an extended position.

8. The system of claim 7, where the portable low voltage power source is releasably coupled to the extending means such that when the power source is activated, the at least one line is wound on the at least one spool causing the pool cover to be retracted from the pool.

9. The system of claim 5, where the at least one line is attached to the pool cover.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein the pool cover system complies with ASTM standards for a pool safety cover.

11. A system for uncovering a swimming pool, comprising: a pool cover; retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool; perimeter securing means for securing the pool cover to the perimeter of the pool along at least two edges of the pool when the pool cover is in an extended position covering the pool; a portable low voltage power source; coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position.

12. The system of claim 11, where the portable low voltage power source is a rechargeable electric drill.

13. The system of claim 11, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises at least a first track, in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises a second track in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein the first and second tracks are parallel to one another and are disposed on opposite parallel sides of the pool.

16. The system of claim 11, further comprising extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position to an extended position covering the pool.

17. The system of claim 16, where the extending means comprises at least one line that is wrapped on at least one spool.

18. The system of claim 17, where the portable low voltage power source is releasably coupled to the extending means such that when the power source is activated, the at least one line is wound on the at least one spool causing the pool cover to be extended over the pool.

19. The system of claim 17, where the at least one line is attached to the pool cover.

20. The system of claim 11, wherein the pool cover system complies with ASTM standards for a pool safety cover.

21. A system for covering and uncovering a swimming pool, comprising: a pool cover; a portable low voltage power source; retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool; first coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position; extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position to an extended position covering the pool, the means fixedly attached to the pool deck at a second end opposite the first end of the pool; second coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the extending means such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover to on extended position over the pool.

22. The system of claim 21, where the portable low voltage power source is a rechargeable electric drill.

23. The system of claim 21, further comprising perimeter securing means for securing the pool cover to the perimeter of the pool along at least two edges of the pool when the pool cover is in an extended position covering the pool.

24. The system of claim 23, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises at least a first track, in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

25. The system of claim 24, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises a second track in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

26. The system of claim 25, wherein the first and second tracks are parallel to one another and are disposed on opposite parallel sides of the pool.

27. The system of claim 21, where the extending means comprises at least one line that is wrapped on at least one spool.

28. The system of claim 27, where the at least one line is attached to the pool cover.

29. The system of claim 21, wherein the pool cover system complies with ASTM standards for a pool safety cover.

30. A system for uncovering a swimming pool, comprising: a pool cover; retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the means fixedly attached to a pool deck; a portable low voltage power source; gear reduction means attached to the retracting means, the gear reduction means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position, the means including a gear reduction mechanism.

31. The system of claim 30, wherein the gear reduction mechanism includes a relatively smaller diameter gear that is operably connected to the portable low voltage power source, when the portable low voltage power source is coupled to the gear reduction means and a relatively larger diameter gear that us operably connected to the retracting means.

32. The system of claim 31, wherein the relatively smaller diameter gear is removable from the gear reduction mechanism.

33. The system of claim 30, further comprising perimeter securing means for securing the pool cover to the perimeter of the pool along at least two edges of the pool when the pool cover is in an extended position covering the pool.

34. The system of claim 33, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises at least a first track, in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

35. The system of claim 34, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises a second track in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

36. The system of claim 35, wherein the first and second tracks are parallel to one another and are disposed on proximate sides of the pool.

37. The system of claim 30, where the portable low voltage power source is a rechargeable electric drill.

38. The system of claim 30, further comprising extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position to an extended position covering the pool, and gear reduction means attached to the extending means, the gear reduction means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover from a retracted position, the means including a gear reduction mechanism.

39. The system of claim 38, wherein the gear reduction mechanism includes a relatively smaller diameter gear that is operably connected to the portable low voltage power source, when the portable low voltage power source is coupled to the gear reduction means and a relatively larger diameter gear that is operably connected to the retracting means.

40. The system of claim 39, wherein the relatively smaller diameter gear is removable from the gear reduction mechanism.

41. The system of claim 38, where the extending means comprises at least one line that is wrapped on at least one spool.

42. The system of claim 38, where the portable low voltage power source is releasably coupled to the extending means such that when the power source is activated, the at least one line is wound on the at least one spool causing the pool cover to be retracted from the pool.

43. The system of claim 41, where the at least one line is attached to the pool cover.

44. The system of claim 30, wherein the pool cover system complies with ASTM standards for a pool safety cover.

45. A system for uncovering a swimming pool, comprising: a pool cover; retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck; a portable low voltage power source; gear reduction unit comprising a housing, at least one retraction shaft attached to the retracting means, a power shaft adapted to temporarily and releasably attaching to the portable low voltage power source, and gear reduction means disposed inside a sealed housing, the gear reduction means operably connected to the at least one retraction shaft and the power shaft, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position by activating the retracting means through the rotating the at least one retraction shaft through action of the gear reduction means; restriction means for restricting the pool cover from extending from the retracted position when the pool cover is in the retracted position.

46. The system of claim 45, wherein the gear reduction means comprises the restriction means.

47. The system of claim 45, wherein the gear reduction mechanism includes a relatively smaller diameter gear that is operably connected to the power shaft, and a relatively larger diameter gear that is operably connected to the at least one retraction shaft.

48. The system of claim 47, wherein the sealed housing is filled with a lubricant.

49. The system of claim 48, wherein the lubricant is a petroleum based oil.

50. The system of claim 45, further comprising perimeter securing means for securing the pool cover to the perimeter of the pool along at least two edges of the pool when the pool cover is in an extended position covering the pool.

51. The system of claim 50, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises at least a first track, in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

52. The system of claim 51, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises a second track in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

53. The system of claim 52, wherein the first and second tracks are parallel to one another and are disposed on opposite parallel sides of the pool.

54. The system of claim 45, where the portable low voltage power source is a rechargeable electric drill.

55. The system of claim 45, further comprising extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position to an extended position covering the pool, and gear reduction unit comprising a sealed housing, at least one retraction shaft attached to the extending means, a power shaft adapted to temporarily and releasably attaching to the portable low voltage power source, and gear reduction means disposed inside a sealed housing, the gear reduction means operably connected to the at least one retraction shaft and the power shaft, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to retract the pool cover from an extended position by activating the extending means through the rotating the at least one retraction shaft through action of the gear reduction means.

56. The system of claim 55, wherein the gear reduction means includes a relatively smaller diameter gear that is operably connected to the power shaft, and a relatively larger diameter gear that is operably connected to the at least one retraction shaft.

57. The system of claim 55, wherein the sealed housing is filled with a lubricant.

58. The system of claim 57, where the lubricant is a petroleum based oil.

59. The system of claim 55, where the extending means comprises at least one line that is wrapped on at least one spool.

60. The system of claim 59, where the portable low voltage power source is releasably coupled to the extending means such that when the power source is activated, the at least one line is wound on the at least one spool causing the pool cover to be retracted from the pool.

61. The system of claim 60, where the at least one line is attached to the pool cover.

62. The system of claim 45, wherein the pool cover system complies with ASTM standards for a pool safety cover.

63. A system for uncovering a swimming pool, comprising: a pool cover; retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool; a portable low voltage power source; and coupling means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position, the coupling means comprising a flexible socket shaft, such that the low voltage portable power source may be coupled and used from a plurality of positions.

64. The system of claim 63, further comprising gear reduction means attached to the retracting means, the gear reduction means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position, the gear reduction means including a gear reduction mechanism.

65. The system of claim 64, wherein the gear reduction mechanism includes a relatively smaller diameter gear that is operably connected to the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means, when the portable low voltage power source is coupled to the gear reduction means and a relatively larger diameter gear that us operably connected to the retracting means.

66. The system of claim 65, wherein the relatively smaller diameter gear is removable from the gear reduction mechanism.

67. The system of claim 65, wherein the gear reduction mechanism is located inside a sealed housing, with a shaft of the relatively smaller diameter gear protruding from said housing for making operable connection to the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means.

68. The system of claim 67, wherein the sealed housing is filled with a lubricant.

69. The system of claim 68, wherein the lubricant is a petroleum based oil.

70. The system of claim 63, where the portable low voltage power source is a rechargeable electric drill.

71. The system of claim 63, further comprising perimeter securing means for securing the pool cover to the perimeter of the pool along at least two edges of the pool when the pool cover is in an extended position covering the pool.

72. The system of claim 71, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises at least a first track, in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

73. The system of claim 72, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises a second track in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

74. The system of claim 73, wherein the first and second tracks are parallel to one another and are disposed on proximate sides of the pool.

75. The system of claim 63, further comprising extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position to an extended position covering the pool with coupling means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover from a retracted position, the coupling means comprising a flexible socket shaft, such that the low voltage portable power source may be coupled and used from a plurality of positions.

76. The system of claim 75, further comprising gear reduction means attached to the extending means, the gear reduction means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover from a retracted position, the means including a gear reduction mechanism.

77. The system of claim 76, wherein the gear reduction mechanism includes a relatively smaller diameter gear that is operably connected to the portable low voltage power source, when the portable low voltage power source is coupled to the gear reduction means and a relatively larger diameter gear that us operably connected to the retracting means.

78. The system of claim 77, wherein the relatively smaller diameter gear is removable from the gear reduction mechanism.

79. The system of claim 77, wherein the gear reduction mechanism is located inside a sealed housing, with a shaft of the relatively smaller diameter gear protruding from said housing for making operable connection to the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means.

80. The system of claim 79, wherein the sealed housing is filled with a lubricant.

81. The system of claim 80, wherein the lubricant is a petroleum based oil.

82. The system of claim 75, where the extending means comprises at least one line that is wrapped on at least one spool.

83. The system of claim 82, where the at least one line is attached to the pool cover.

84. The system of claim 75, where the portable low voltage power source is releasably coupled to the coupling means such that when the power source is activated, the at least one line is wound on the at least one spool causing the pool cover to be retracted from the pool.

85. The system of claim 63, wherein the pool cover system complies with ASTM standards for a pool safety cover.

86. A system for uncovering a swimming pool, comprising: a flexible pool cover; retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means comprising a cover collection shaft on which the pool cover is wound; a portable low voltage power source; coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position.

87. The system of claim 86, further comprising the cover collection shaft being attached to the coupling means to the low voltage power source by a universal joint.

88. The system of claim 86, wherein the shaft further comprises a collecting drum on which the pool cover is wound when the cover is in a retracted position.

89. The system of claim 86, wherein the flexible pool cover is a flexible sheet.

90. The system of claim 89, wherein the flexible pool cover comprises at least one layer.

91. The system of claim 89, wherein the flexible sheet is constructed from canvas.

92. The system of claim 89, wherein the flexible sheet is constructed of fiberglass textile.

93. The system of claim 86, wherein the pool cover system complies with ASTM standards for a pool safety cover.

94. The system of claim 86, further comprising perimeter securing means for securing the pool cover to the perimeter of the pool along at least two edges of the pool when the pool cover is in an extended position covering the pool.

95. The system of claim 94, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises at least a first track, in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

96. The system of claim 95, wherein the perimeter securing means further comprises a second track in which the pool cover slidably extends and retracts.

97. The system of claim 96, wherein the first and second tracks are parallel to one another and are disposed on proximate sides of the pool.

98. The system of claim 86, wherein the coupling means further comprises a flexible socket shaft, such that the low voltage portable power source may be coupled and used from a plurality of positions.

99. The system of claim 86, further comprising gear reduction means attached to the retracting means, the gear reduction means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position, the gear reduction means including a gear reduction mechanism.

100. The system of claim 99, wherein the gear reduction mechanism includes a relatively smaller diameter gear that is operably connected to the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means, when the portable low voltage power source is coupled to the gear reduction means and a relatively larger diameter gear that us operably connected to the retracting means.

101. The system of claim 100, wherein the gear reduction mechanism is located inside a sealed housing, with a shaft of the relatively smaller diameter gear protruding from said housing for making operable connection to the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means.

102. The system of claim 101, wherein the sealed housing is filled with a lubricant.

103. The system of claim 102, wherein the lubricant is a petroleum based oil.

104. The system of claim 99, wherein the relatively smaller diameter gear is removable from the gear reduction mechanism.

105. The system of claim 86, where the portable low voltage power source is a rechargeable electric drill.

106. The system of claim 86, further comprising extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position to an extended position covering the pool with coupling means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover from a retracted position.

107. The system of claim 106, wherein the coupling means further comprises a flexible socket shaft, such that the low voltage portable power source may be coupled and used from a plurality of positions.

108. The system of claim 106, further comprising gear reduction means attached to the extending means, the gear reduction means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover from a retracted position, the means including a gear reduction mechanism.

109. The system of claim 108, wherein the gear reduction mechanism includes a relatively smaller diameter gear that is operably connected to the portable low voltage power source, when the portable low voltage power source is coupled to the gear reduction means and a relatively larger diameter gear that us operably connected to the retracting means.

110. The system of claim 109, wherein the relatively smaller diameter gear is removable from the gear reduction mechanism.

111. The system of claim 109, wherein the gear reduction mechanism is located inside a sealed housing, with a shaft of the relatively smaller diameter gear protruding from said housing for making operable connection to the portable low voltage power source via the coupling means.

112. The system of claim 111, wherein the sealed housing is filled with a lubricant.

113. The system of claim 112, wherein the lubricant is a petroleum based oil.

114. The system of claim 106, where the extending means comprises at least one line that is wrapped on at least one spool.

115. The system of claim 114, where the at least one line is attached to the pool cover.

116. The system of claim 106, where the portable low voltage power source is releasably coupled to the coupling means such that when the power source is activated, the at least one line is wound on the at least one spool causing the pool cover to be retracted from the pool.

117. A method of uncovering a pool comprising the steps of: (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising a pool cover, retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck, a portable low voltage power source, and connecting means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position; (b) connecting the low voltage power source to the connecting means; (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

118. A method of covering a pool comprising the steps of: (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising a pool cover, extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position pool cover to an extended position covering the pool, the extending means fixedly attached to a pool deck, a portable low voltage power source, and connecting means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the extending means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover from a retracted position; (b) connecting the low voltage power source to the connecting means; (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be extended from the retracted position.

119. A method of uncovering a pool comprising the steps of: (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising a pool cover, retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck, the means configured and adapted to be activated by use of a portable low voltage power source, coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position; (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means; (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

120. A method of uncovering a pool comprising the steps of: (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising a pool cover, retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, perimeter securing means for securing the pool cover to the perimeter of the pool along at least two edges of the pool when the pool cover is in an extended position covering the pool, a portable low voltage power source, coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position; (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means; (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

121. A method of uncovering a pool comprising the steps of: (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising a pool cover, a portable low voltage power source, retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, first coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position, extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position to an extended position covering the pool, the means fixedly attached to the pool deck at a second end opposite the first end of the pool, second coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the extending means such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover to on extended position over the pool; (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the first coupling means; (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

122. The method of claim 1, further comprising the steps: (d) coupling the low voltage power source to the second coupling means; (e) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be extended to the extended position.

123. A method of uncovering a pool comprising the steps of: (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising a pool cover, retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck, a portable low voltage power source, gear reduction means attached to the retracting means, the gear reduction means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position, the means including a gear reduction mechanism; (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means; (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

124. A method of uncovering a pool comprising the steps of: (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising a pool cover, retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck, a portable low voltage power source, gear reduction unit comprising a housing, at least one retraction shaft attached to the retracting means, a power shaft adapted to temporarily and releasably attaching to the portable low voltage power source, and gear reduction means disposed inside a sealed housing, the gear reduction means operably connected to the at least one retraction shaft and the power shaft, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position by activating the retracting means through the rotating the at least one retraction shaft through action of the gear reduction means, restriction means for restricting the pool cover from extending from the retracted position when the pool cover is in the retracted position; (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means; (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

125. A method of uncovering a pool comprising the steps of: (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising a pool cover, retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, a portable low voltage power source, and coupling means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position, the coupling means comprising a flexible socket shaft, such that the low voltage portable power source may be coupled and used from a plurality of positions; (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means; (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

126. A method of uncovering a pool comprising the steps of: (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising a flexible pool cover, retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means comprising a cover collection shaft on which the pool cover is wound, a portable low voltage power source, coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position; (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means; (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuing application of copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/049,588, filed on Mar. 27, 1998, entitled “Drive Mechanism for Pool Cover,” which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, and of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/728,561, filed on Nov. 30, 2000, entitled “Pool Cover Drive Mechanism,” which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety and which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/168,173, filed on Nov. 30, 1999, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] 1. The Field of the Invention

[0004] The present invention relates generally to extendable and retractable cover systems, and more particularly, but not entirely, to a drive mechanism for flexible pool covers.

[0005] 2. Description of Related Art

[0006] Swimming pools and related structures are extremely popular. Commercial and residential swimming pools typically consist of a water containment vessel that may reside below ground or above ground, including water-impermeable walls and bottom surface.

[0007] In many circumstances, it is desirable for the user to place a protective barrier or pool cover over the pool when the pool is not in use. Such a pool cover serves many functions: it helps to conserve water normally lost through evaporation, it can prevent water contamination resulting from outside debris, it saves water treatment costs by reducing chemical loss, and it saves energy loss by retaining heat energy in the water. Perhaps most importantly, a properly installed pool cover that provides a safety feature can prevent accidental drowning of persons falling into the pool area.

[0008] While many pool cover devices have been developed, most are awkward and difficult to install and remove, thereby discouraging their use and inhibiting their benefits. Such devices require a high-torsion power source, or a manually-operable crank arm, and are therefore cumbersome and laborious to operate.

[0009] Some pool cover devices known in the prior art are those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,913,613 (granted Jun. 22, 1999 to Ragsdale, et al.), in U.S. Pat. No. 4,811,433 (granted Mar. 14, 1989 to MacDonald, et al.), in U.S. Pat. No. 4,459,711 (granted Jul. 17, 1984 to Sartain, et al.), and in U.S. Pat. No. 5,890,240 (granted Apr. 6, 1999 to Graham), among others. The Ragsdale and Macdonald references disclose devices that require major modification to an existing pool prior to installation. An enclosure must be constructed to hold a pool cover system including multiple spools, shafts and a permanent electric motor. These systems require that electric lines which encumber the enclosure, and a separate control that must be placed elsewhere. As a result, such devices can be expensive to manufacture and install. Installation of such a device is often too complex for a pool owner to attempt alone. Additionally, should the electricity go out, the pool cover may not be able to be opened or closed, until power is restored.

[0010] The types of devices disclosed in Sartain and Graham constitute attempts to resolve some of the problems discussed above. The device such as the one shown in Graham, has resulted in a pool cover system in which the drum moves along the pool or pool deck to roll up the cover. Since the cover is not fixedly attached to the pool deck, the Graham device fails to provide a cover having a high degree of safety. Similarly, Sartain fails to provide a safety cover and allows the pool to be unsafe even when covered.

[0011] Further, Sartain teaches the use of a hand crank located at one end of the pool for the purpose of both covering and uncovering the pool. The amount of force needed to turn the crank prevents many users from covering and uncovering the pool without assistance when using such a device.

[0012] It is noteworthy that none of the prior art known to applicant provides a pool cover system with a safety cover that may be easily activated by a single user, or that utilizes a low voltage portable power source and is relatively inexpensive to make, simple in operation and simple to install.

[0013] The prior art is thus characterized by several disadvantages that are addressed by the present invention. The present invention minimizes, and in some aspects eliminates, the above-mentioned failures, and other problems, by utilizing the methods and structural features described herein.

BRIEF SUMMARY AND OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0014] It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a pool cover system that is relatively easy to operate.

[0015] It is also an object of the present invention, in accordance with one aspect thereof, to provide a pool cover system that provides a safety cover that may be operated by a single user.

[0016] It is a further object of the present invention, in accordance with one aspect thereof, to provide a pool cover system that provides a safety cover, but does not require major modification of the pool deck.

[0017] It is another object of the present invention to provide such a pool cover system that is operable with only a low-torsion, low-voltage power source for operation.

[0018] The above objects and others not specifically recited are realized in a specific illustrative embodiment of an apparatus for retracting a pool cover from over a pool, or extending a pool cover over a pool. The apparatus includes a pool cover collecting drum supported for rotation on its ends, and a drive gear connected to the drum. A power gear for engaging the drive gear is operably connected to a portable, battery operated electric drill by a power shaft. When the drill is activated, the drive gear rotates the pool cover collecting drum to collect and retract the pool cover from over the pool. The pool cover is placed back over the pool by operation of a complementary apparatus on the opposite side of the pool, such as a rope spool collecting apparatus having an engageable drive gear. The gear-driven spool pulls on a rope attached to a rigid end or carrier of the pool cover. As the pool cover is extended and retracted it slides in a track, allowing the cover to serve as a safety cover. The gears may be located in a sealed housing filled with lubricant. The drive shaft may include a universal joint, and the drill may be designed to engage the power shaft with a flexible socket adapter.

[0019] Additional objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by the practice of the invention without undue experimentation. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and obtained by means of the instruments and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] The above and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from a consideration of the subsequent detailed description presented in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:

[0021] FIG. 1 is a side elevation view of one embodiment of a pool cover collecting apparatus for retracting a pool cover from over a pool, made in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 2 is an end elevation view of the drive mechanism of FIG. 1;

[0023] FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of a preferred embodiment of the pool cover collecting apparatus of FIG. 1;

[0024] FIG. 4 is a plan view of the pool cover collecting apparatus of FIG. 1;

[0025] FIG. 5 is a plan view of a rope spool collecting apparatus, made in accordance with the principles of the present invention, including a drive mechanism for extending a pool cover over a pool;

[0026] FIG. 6 is a plan view of a pool cover being retracted from over a pool, by operation of the pool cover collecting apparatus of FIG. 3;

[0027] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a pool cover being extended over a pool, by operation of the rope spool collecting apparatus of FIG. 5, in cooperation with a battery powered drill coupled to the drive mechanism; and

[0028] FIG. 8 is a side elevation view of another alternative embodiment of a pool cover collecting apparatus, made in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0029] For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles in accordance with the invention, reference will now be made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Any alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and any additional applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated herein, which would normally occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention claimed.

[0030] It must be noted that, as used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

[0031] In describing and claiming the present invention, the following terminology will be used in accordance with the definitions set out below.

[0032] As used herein, “comprising,” “including,” “containing,” “characterized by,” and grammatical equivalents thereof are inclusive or open-ended terms that do not exclude additional, unrecited elements or method steps.

[0033] Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a side elevation view of one possible embodiment of a pool cover collecting drum apparatus designated generally at 10, operable for retracting a pool cover from over a pool, such as pool 45 shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. Collecting drum apparatus 10 includes a drive shaft 12 fixedly attached to a collecting drum 15 on which the pool cover 32 is rolled and collected. The pool cover 32 is preferably a flexible sheet that may be rolled on the drum 15. The drive shaft 12 is preferably disposed in a substantial co-axial orientation with respect to the drum 15, has a pair of ends and is supported for rotation on its ends by support structure 14 having a base 16, although any support structure capable of supporting the drive shaft 12 in a rotatable position may be used. The base 16 is preferably attached to a pool deck 47 (shown in FIGS. 6 and 7). The more preferred embodiments include the shaft 12 and pool cover collecting drum 15 on which the cover 32 is collected, but the drum 15 may be eliminated if desired. It will be appreciated that the embodiments disclosed herein, and other embodiments made in accordance with the principles of the present invention may serve as retracting means for retracting a pool cover from an extended position over a pool.

[0034] In the FIG. 1 embodiment, gear reduction means are provided by the drive gear 18 and the pinion gear 22. Drive gear 18 is operably connected to the drive shaft 12, and is preferably covered by gear housing 20. In this embodiment, a removable power gear such as a pinion gear 22 is connected to a low voltage portable power source, such as a battery operated screw gun or an electric drill 24 having a power shaft 26, to which said pinion gear 22 is attached and the pinion gear 22 engages drive gear 18 when the pinion gear 22 is inserted through aperture 28. It will be appreciated that any suitable power source is within the scope of the present invention, although a portable low-voltage power source is preferred. Bearing 30 supports power shaft 26 within aperture 28, and permits rotation of the shaft 26. When pinion gear 22 is so engaged with drive gear 18, and the drill 24 is activated, drive gear 18 rotates the drive shaft 12 to collect and retract pool cover 32 from over the pool. In this embodiment, once the pool cover 32 has been retracted, the drill 24 and pinion gear 22 can be removed from the aperture 28. It will be appreciated that insertion of the pinion gear 22 into aperture 28 thus serves as an example of a coupling means for coupling the portable low voltage power source 24 such that the low voltage power source may operate the drive mechanism, and that any structure that may be used to accomplish this function is also included within the scope of the present invention.

[0035] FIG. 2, is an end elevation view of the FIG. 1 embodiment of a drive mechanism 10 for a pool cover. The view illustrates the pinion gear 22 having been inserted through aperture 28 in support structure 14, to engage the drive gear 18 in the manner previously described. FIG. 2, depicts one possible structure for the gear reduction means. By use of the gear reduction means, the low-torsion battery powered drill 24 is capable of being used to wind the pool cover 32 onto the drum 15 without need for high-torsion power. While it is preferred to use a gear structure including one larger drive gear and a smaller power gear, such as the drive gear 18 and the pinion gear 22 as the gear reduction means, it will be appreciated that the function of gear reduction can be performed by any gear reduction means known to those skilled in the art. All such gear reduction means are included within the scope of the present invention.

[0036] While any gear reduction ratio that enables a battery powered or other hand drill to operate the drum 15 may be used, the preferred ratio is a reduction of eleven (11) to one (1).

[0037] It is to be understood that the gear reduction means may instead be included as a structural feature or extension of the portable low voltage power source 24, such as a proprietary drill with a gear reduction end that attaches to a coupling means comprising the cover collection shaft 12, or a proprietary gear reduction means that attaches to a drill shaft 26 prior to attachment to the shaft 12. All such alternative embodiments readily ascertainable to those skilled in the art are within the scope of the present invention.

[0038] FIG. 3 shows a preferred embodiment of a drive mechanism, or pool cover collecting apparatus, designed generally at 11, made in accordance with the principles of the present invention. Similar to FIGS. 1 and 2, the FIG. 3 embodiment features a gear reduction mechanism. Although any gear reduction mechanism that may be used to practice the collection of a pool cover 32 with a portable drill 24 is within the scope of the present invention, it is preferred to use a gear reduction mechanism having two gears. In the FIG. 3 embodiment, there is a larger drive gear 42 and a smaller power gear 44. As in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the preferred gear reduction ratio is eleven (11) to one (1). It will be appreciated that the gears 42 and 44 are supported by gear support structures that are not shown, and that any such structures allowing the gears to rotate may be used. This gear reduction system is contained within a housing 40.

[0039] In the FIG. 3 embodiment, the power gear 44 is not removable, unlike the pinion gear 22 of the FIGS. 1 and 2 embodiment. Instead, the power gear 44 continually remains in contact with the drive gear 42. The power gear 44 is connected to a power shaft 46 which is connected to a socket 48, preferably located outside the housing 40. The socket 48 is adapted for connection to a bit 47 that may be removably inserted into the socket 48. The bit 47 attaches to the portable drill 24. It will be appreciated that connection of the drill 24 to the socket 48, thus serves as yet another example of a coupling means for removably coupling the low voltage power source or drill 24 to the drive mechanism 11.

[0040] It will be appreciated that embodiment of the power gear 44 remaining in contact with the drive gear 42 as shown in FIG. 3, provides several advantages to the present invention. It eliminates the possibility of the power gear 42 being misplaced, or lost, by a user when the drive mechanism 11 is unused for a long period of time, such as over the winter. Further, when the cover 32 is wound on the drum 15 (or upon shaft 12 if drum 15 is eliminated), the contact of the gears produces “drag” or resistance which operates as a resistance or restriction means to prevent the cover 32 from unrolling. Without a resistance means to prevent the cover 32 from unrolling off of a shaft, external forces such as wind will often cause such unrolling. Prior art attempts to provide resistance have been in the form of “pinch” brakes that press upon a shaft, drum, or spool. Examples of pinch brakes may be seen in the Ragsdale reference in FIG. 5 thereof. The FIG. 3 embodiment add drag to the mechanism 11 and thereby accomplish the needed resistance without additional structure such as pinch brakes.

[0041] Confining the power gear 44 to a permanent, non-removable position within housing 40 provides still further advantages. With the power gear 44 non-retractable and permanently fixed within drive mechanism 11, the lubrication of the gear assembly is not compromised by continued removal and reinsertion of the power gear 44. Continued removal and reinsertion of the pinion gear 22 of FIG. 1 can sometimes cause grease to spill onto the pool deck, and can also cause the gear aperture 28 of FIG. 1 to become expanded over time. The expansion results in a looser engagement of the gear teeth of pinion gear 22 with the drive gear 18 of FIG. 1. Further, a removable pinion gear such as gear 22 of FIG. 1 cannot be machined to a tight, wobble-free tolerance because it must be easily inserted and removed during each use. The non-retractable power gear 44 is machinable to a very tight, wobble-free tolerance to eliminate any initial or eventual looseness or play between the power gear 44 and the drive gear 42.

[0042] It is preferred that the housing 40 be a sealed housing to protect the gear reduction mechanism. It is further preferred that the sealed housing 40 be filled with a lubricant to further protect and lubricate the gear reduction mechanism. In the FIG. 3 embodiment, this is accomplished by filling the space 49, inside the housing with a lubricant. Any suitable lubricant may be used, but it is preferred to use a petroleum based oil.

[0043] FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the pool cover collection apparatus. It will be appreciated that while the drive mechanism 10 of FIGS. 1 and 2 is pictured in FIG. 4, the drive mechanism 11 of FIG. 3 may be used, and is preferred. The view of FIG. 4 illustrates the pool cover 32 being retracted onto the cover collecting drum 15. FIG. 4 also shows track 34 which may assist in guiding the cover onto the drum 15, in those instances in which track is provided.

[0044] The track 34 and other structures that may be used to secure the cover 32 along the sides of the pool 45 may function as a perimeter securing means for securing the cover 32. In preferred embodiments, this is accomplished by the track 34, which has a groove 35 into which an enlarged edge 33 of the cover 32 slides. The track 34 includes open end 34a, and it will be appreciated that an end corner 39 of track 34 could snag and tear cover 32. Therefore, smooth guide 37 and a guide wheel 38 reside in contact with the sliding cover 32 and operate to feed and press upon the enlarged edge 33 as it slides within the groove 35, as the cover 32 is extended or retracted, to prevent the end corner 39 from tearing the cover 32. The guide wheel 38 operates to align the cover 32 with the groove 35 and guide 37 by pressing upon and directing the cover 32, preventing the cover 32 from tearing along the upper edge of the track 34. As shown in FIG. 4, the cover 32 becomes gathered and pressed into slightly narrower width as it is transferred from drum 15 into the track 34.

[0045] The track 34 secures the cover 32 to the perimeter of the pool deck 47 (shown in FIGS. 6 and 7). In more preferred embodiments, there are two parallel tracks 34 located on opposite sides of the pool 45. This allows the cover 32 to be secured along both sides of the cover 32, by the tracks 34 and along both ends by the drum 15 (to which one end is attached) and by rigid end 62 (FIG. 6) residing in contact with pool end 49, respectively. It is preferred that the pool cover 37 and the tracks 34 be compliant with ASTM Standard ES 13-89, published 1989 and entitled Emergency Standard Performance Specification for Safety Covers and Labeling Requirements for All Covers for Swimming Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. By complying with this standard, the pool cover 32 is able to support the weight of one or more people sufficient to prevent a person from falling into the pool with the cover 32 in an extended position, and to effect the rescue of a person who has fallen on the cover 32. The present invention thus has the ability to function as a safety cover, one that is affordable and easy to use.

[0046] FIG. 5 is a plan view of a rope spool collecting apparatus 50, used for extending pool cover 32 over the pool 45. Rope spool collecting apparatus 50 operates to pull rope 60 shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 by operation of a gear reduction device that is similar, or even identical, to gears 42 and 44 of FIGS. 3, with a rope spool 52 being attached to a drive gear (similar to drive gear 42 of FIG. 3) and a socket 489 (similar to socket 48 of FIG. 3). Rope spool collecting apparatus 50 also includes a support structure 54 and gear housing 56, and can be mounted on a wall or upon the pool deck 47 shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. It will be appreciated that it is preferred to construct a rope spool collecting apparatus using a drive mechanism embodying the principles shown in FIG. 3, including the nonremovable power gear 44 and a sealed housing filled with a lubricant. This provides all the advantages of the drive mechanism 11 of FIG. 3, embodiment to the rope spool drive mechanism.

[0047] FIG. 6 is a plan view of a pool cover 32 being retracted from over a pool 45 by operation of the drive mechanism 11 of the present invention by coupling the bit 47 (not visible in FIG. 6) attached to the battery powered drill 24 into to the socket 48 of the mechanism 11. Actuation of the drill 24 turns the cover drive shaft 12 to retract the pool cover 32, as explained in conjunction with FIG. 3.

[0048] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a pool cover 32 being extended over a pool 45 with the drive mechanism 11. Actuation of the drill 24 turns the rope spool 52 to extend the pool cover 32 over the pool 45 by pulling on the line 60 attached to the rigid leading edge 62 of the cover 32. The rigid edge 62 acts a leading guide edge to allow the cover 32 to more easily be extended and retracted.

[0049] It will be appreciated that as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the operation of a pool cover system made in accordance with the principles of the present invention is simple and can be accomplished by a single user, regardless of strength, through the use of a portable low voltage power source. Additionally, the embodiments shown illustrate how a pool cover system in accordance with the present invention may be configured so as to require only minor modification to the pool deck for installation of the pool cover collecting means, rope spool collecting means, and tracks. It is not necessary to provide a pit to hide the device. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that such systems are simple in design and operation and may be installed by a non-expert user following instructions.

[0050] Referring now to FIG. 8, there is shown another alternative embodiment of the present invention, designated generally at 80. The features and workings of the apparatus 80 includes many elements that are identical with the apparatus 10 of FIGS. 1-2, and those elements are referred to with identical reference numerals. A drive gear 18 is disposed in meshing engagement with power or pinion gear 22a. The difference in apparatus 80 includes the addition of a universal joint 82 attached to the drive shaft 12, residing between the drum 15 and the gear housing 20, and the addition of a flexible socket shaft 26a.

[0051] It will be appreciated that incorporation of the universal joint 82, in combination with the other elements of the apparatus 80, provides several distinct advantages. For example, the universal joint 82 permits the apparatus 80 to be mounted to an un-even deck without imposing undesirable torsion on the drive shaft 12, and without the need to level the apparatus by placing shims or other leveling devices beneath the base 16 to ensure a “wobble-free” level installation. It has previously been essential to the operation of automatic pool cover devices in the known prior art, that torsional stress in the drive shaft be avoided by undertaking laborious, time-consuming efforts to align the base 16 with the drum 15 on which the pool cover 32 is rolled. This usually presents a unique challenge with almost every pool, because most pool decks are purposely sloped away from the pool or are otherwise non-level in the area on which the pool cover apparatus is to be mounted. The incorporation of the universal joint 80 reduces or eliminates the need for precise alignment of the base 16 with the drum 15 and cover 32, which otherwise is required for the apparatus 10 or prior art pool cover apparatus.

[0052] The universal joint 80 also reduces or eliminates tension and binding in the gear assembly, which is usually present when any one or more of the following conditions arise: (1) if the apparatus is mounted to an un-even pool deck; (2) if the main tube is attached to the apparatus imprecisely, creating an eccentricity causing the drum 15 to wobble; (3) if the drum 15 begins to sag in the middle, which is inevitable over time, especially in the case of wide-pool versions of the apparatus 10.

[0053] Another improvement is the use of a flexible socket adapter 26a. It will be appreciated that it can be difficult to place the drill 24 close enough and in proper alignment for convenient operation, particularly when the apparatus 80 is recessed below the pool deck. In such cases, use of the flexible socket adapter 26a permits the drill 24 to rotate the adapter 26a even without being perfectly aligned with the adapter 26a. The use of the flexible adapter 26a also makes operation more convenient for elderly or physically challenged users to operate the apparatus 80 without having to kneel in order to attach the drill 24.

[0054] Rendering pinion gear 22a non-removable provides still further advantages. With the pinion gear 22a non-retractable and permanently fixed to the gear assembly, the lubrication of the gear assembly is not compromised by continued removal and reinsertion of the pinion gear. Continued removal and reinsertion of the pinion gear can sometimes causes grease to spill onto the pool deck, and also causes the pinion-gear slot to become expanded over time. The expansion results in a looser engagement of the pinion gear teeth with the drive gear 18. Further, a removable pinion gear such as gear 22 of FIG. 1 cannot be machined to a tight, wobble-free tolerance because it must be easily inserted and removed during each use. The non-retractable pinion gear 22a is machinable to a very tight, wobble-free tolerance to eliminate any initial or eventual looseness or play between the pinion gear 22a and the drive gear 18.

[0055] The present invention further includes a method of uncovering a pool using a portable low voltage power source. This method comprises the steps of:

[0056] (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising

[0057] a pool cover,

[0058] retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck,

[0059] a portable low voltage power source, and

[0060] connecting means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means the pool cover, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position;

[0061] (b) connecting the low voltage power source to the connecting means;

[0062] (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

[0063] Th present invention also includes a method of covering a pool using a portable low voltage power source. This method comprises the steps of:

[0064] (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising

[0065] a pool cover,

[0066] extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position pool cover to an extended position covering the pool, the extending means fixedly attached to a pool deck,

[0067] a portable low voltage power source, and

[0068] connecting means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the extending means the pool cover, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover from a retracted position;

[0069] (b) connecting the low voltage power source to the connecting means;

[0070] (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be extended from the retracted position.

[0071] The present invention additionally includes a method of uncovering a pool using a fixed pool cover system adapted for using a portable low voltage power source. This method comprises the steps of:

[0072] (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising

[0073] a pool cover,

[0074] retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck, the means configured and adapted to be activated by use of a portable low voltage power source,

[0075] coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means the pool cover, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position;

[0076] (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means;

[0077] (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

[0078] The present invention further includes a method of uncovering a pool using a pool cover system with perimeter securing means activated by a portable low voltage power source. The method comprises the steps of:

[0079] (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising

[0080] a pool cover,

[0081] retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool,

[0082] perimeter securing means for securing the pool cover to the perimeter of the pool along at least two edges of the pool when the pool cover is in an extended position covering the pool,

[0083] a portable low voltage power source,

[0084] coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means the pool cover, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position;

[0085] (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means;

[0086] (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

[0087] A method of covering and uncovering a pool using a pool cover system with retracting and extending means at opposite ends of the pool, and activated by a portable low voltage power source is also included in the present invention. This method comprises the steps of:

[0088] (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising

[0089] a pool cover,

[0090] a portable low voltage power source,

[0091] retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool,

[0092] first coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means the pool cover, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position,

[0093] extending means for extending the pool cover from a retracted position to an extended position covering the pool, the means fixedly attached to the pool deck at a second end opposite the first end of the pool,

[0094] second coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the extending means such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the extending means to extend the pool cover to on extended position over the pool;

[0095] (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the first coupling means;

[0096] (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

[0097] In a preferred embodiment, this method further comprises the steps of:

[0098] (d) coupling the low voltage power source to the second coupling means;

[0099] (e) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be extended to the extended position.

[0100] The present invention additionally includes a method of uncovering a pool using a pool cover system including gear reduction means activated by a portable low voltage power source. This method comprises the steps of :

[0101] (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising

[0102] a pool cover,

[0103] retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck,

[0104] a portable low voltage power source,

[0105] gear reduction means attached to the retracting means the pool cover, the gear reduction means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position, the means including a gear reduction mechanism;

[0106] (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means;

[0107] (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

[0108] A method of uncovering a pool using a pool cover system including a sealed gear reduction box activated by a portable low voltage power source is also included in the present invention. This method comprises the steps of:

[0109] (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising

[0110] a pool cover,

[0111] retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means fixedly attached to a pool deck,

[0112] a portable low voltage power source,

[0113] gear reduction unit comprising

[0114] a housing,

[0115] at least one retraction shaft attached to the retracting means,

[0116] a power shaft adapted to temporarily and releasably attaching to the portable low voltage power source, and

[0117] gear reduction means disposed inside a sealed housing, the gear reduction means operably connected to the at least one retraction shaft and the power shaft, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position by activating the retracting means through the rotating the at least one retraction shaft through action of the gear reduction means,

[0118] restriction means for restricting the pool cover from extending from the retracted position when the pool cover is in the retracted position;

[0119] (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means;

[0120] (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

[0121] The present invention further includes a method of uncovering a pool using a pool cover system including a flexible socket shaft activated by a portable low voltage power source. This method includes the steps of:

[0122] (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising

[0123] a pool cover,

[0124] retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool,

[0125] a portable low voltage power source, and

[0126] coupling means adapted for temporarily and releasably coupling with the portable low voltage power source, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position, the coupling means comprising a flexible socket shaft, such that the low voltage portable power source may be coupled and used from a plurality of positions;

[0127] (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means;

[0128] (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

[0129] A method of uncovering a pool using a pool cover system where a flexible cover is wound on a fixed shaft when the system is activated by a portable low voltage power source is also included within the scope of the present invention. This method includes the steps comprising:

[0130] (a) installing a pool cover system, comprising

[0131] a flexible pool cover,

[0132] retracting means for retracting the pool cover from an extended position covering the pool, the retracting means comprising a cover collection shaft on which the pool cover is wound,

[0133] a portable low voltage power source,

[0134] coupling means for temporarily and releasably coupling the portable low voltage power source to the retracting means the pool cover, such that the low voltage power source may be activated to cause the retracting means to retract the pool cover from an extended position;

[0135] (b) coupling the low voltage power source to the coupling means;

[0136] (c) activating the low voltage power source to cause the pool cover to be retracted from the extended position.

[0137] It will be appreciated that the present invention thus provides a pool cover system that is relatively easy to operate, may provide a safety cover that may be operated by a single user, and does not require major modification of the pool deck for installation. This system is operable with only a low-torsion, low-voltage power source for operation.

[0138] It is to be understood that the above-described arrangements are only illustrative of the application of the principles of the present invention. Numerous modifications and alternative arrangements may be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and the appended claims are intended to cover such modifications and arrangements. Thus, while the present invention has been shown in the drawings and fully described above with particularity and detail in connection with what is presently deemed to be the most practical and preferred embodiment(s) of the invention, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications, including, but not limited to, variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use may be made without departing from the principles and concepts set forth herein.