Title:
Dual tube float device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention comprises two V-shaped tubes held in a nested and tensioned relationship with each other such that the assembly is free of tensioning straps or rigid supports while easily maintaining its relative legs angled relationship effectively supporting in fishing activity in wave agitated lakes and bodies of water persons weighing up to and over 250 pounds.



Inventors:
Ross, Peter (Cedar Glen, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/953394
Publication Date:
04/25/2002
Filing Date:
09/13/2001
Assignee:
ROSS PETER
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B7/08; B63B35/78; (IPC1-7): B63C9/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
OLSON, LARS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David T. Bracken (Orange, CA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. An inflatable float device adapted to support upright above water at least the upper torso of a person while their legs are immersed therein comprising: (a) at least two inflatable tubes adapted to be maintained, in an inflated state, in a side by side relationship such that a first tube forms an outer edge of the V-shape, a second tube forms an inner edge of the V-shape, and the total side to side width of the tubes in at least a legs part of the V-shape is greater than the side view height of that legs part; and (b) a flexible sheet or net covering stretched around the tubes is adapted to, in the inflated state of the device, maintain the leg parts in substantially a V-shape against side to side deflection in the plane of the V-shape.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein along at least a portion of a contact surface between the tubes such adjacent tubes are integrally and effectively connected to resist relative movement of the adjacent tubes.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein the tubes are inflated to less than 5 psig.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the tubes are inflated to less than 3 psig.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein the second tube in a vertex part of the V-shape has a side view height substantially greater than that the height of the adjacent tube in that vertex part.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein leg parts of the V-shape have substantially the same length measured from the vertex part.

7. The device of claim 6 wherein the leg parts' length is two feet or more.

8. The device of claim 6 wherein the leg parts' length is three feet or more.

9. The device of claim 1 wherein the side to side width is less than about three feet.

10. The device of claim 1 wherein the adaptation to support the person comprises a seat supportively connected at opposite ends to at least the legs part of the V-shape.

11. The device of claim 1 wherein the covering comprises one or more of the group of webbed or latticed flexible material, porous woven material, non-porous woven material, and non-porous polymer sheets.

12. The device of claim 11 wherein the covering comprises at least a webbed or latticed material along at least an underside part of the covering such that water will easily drain from a cavity formed between the tubes and the covering when the device is in the inflated state.

13. The device of claim 1 wherein separate means for user access to inflate and deflate the tubes is located on an upper part of the device.

14. An inflatable float device comprising: (a) at least two inflatable tubes adapted to be maintained, in an inflated state, in a side by side relationship such that a first tube forms an outer edge of a V-shape, an I-shape or an O-shape, a second tube forms an inner edge of those shapes, and the total side to side width of the tubes in at least a major part of the shapes is greater than the side view height of that major part; and (b) a flexible sheet or net covering stretched around the tubes is adapted to, in the inflated state of the device, maintain the major parts in substantially its original shape against side to side deflection in the major part.

15. The device of claim 14 wherein along at least a portion of a contact surface between the tubes such adjacent tubes are integrally and effectively connected to resist relative movement of the adjacent tubes.

16. The device of claim 14 wherein the second tube in a vertex part of the V-shape has a side view height substantially greater than that the height of the adjacent tube in that vertex part.

17. The device of claim 14 wherein the covering comprises one or more of the group of webbed or latticed flexible material, porous woven material, non-porous woven material, and non-porous polymer sheets.

18. The device of claim 17 wherein the covering comprises at least a webbed or latticed material along at least an underside part of the covering such that water will easily drain from a cavity formed between the tubes and the covering when the device is in the inflated state.

19. The device of claim 14 wherein the covering comprises one or more of the group of webbed or latticed flexible material, porous woven material, non-porous woven material, and non-porous polymer sheets.

20. The device of claim 14 wherein two I-shaped devices are held apart in the plane of their side to side orientation by means of one or more rigid supports.

Description:

[0001] This application is a continuation in part of application 60/232506 filed Sep. 13, 2000.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates to U-shaped and V-shaped inflatable float devices for humans engaged in fishing activities. The state of the art of float tube technology is well disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. D341866, 5,217,400 and 5,171,178. The float tubes of those patents have a common complexity that would be desirable to eliminate. None of the float tubes have shaken free of the tensioning strap required for maintenance of the U-shape or V-shape disclosed therein as so necessary to effective use of the device. It appears that others have solved the tensioning problem by inserting a stiff support between the legs of the U-shaped devices to keep the free ends of the U-shape from laterally drifting or being moved substantially out of their original relationship with the person sitting on the seat. The tension belt and rigid support are directed to this problem.

[0003] It is easily appreciated that wave action and turning action initiated by the user causes lateral drag on the leg extensions of U-shaped and V-shaped float devices. The downward force of the user's weight on the seat inevitably draws those legs laterally together. Wave action on one side of one of the legs tends to cause it to be driven towards the other free leg, reducing the flotation stability of the device. A round float tube doesn't have these limitations, although the above patents describe other problems that arise from their use.

[0004] There is a need for a float tube that preserves the open entry of the prior art U-shaped and V-shaped float tubes while eliminating the tensioning belts or rigid supports.

INVENTION SUMMARY

[0005] The present invention comprises two V-shaped tubes held in a nested and tensioned relationship with each other such that the assembly is free of tensioning straps or rigid supports while easily maintaining its relative legs angled relationship effectively supporting in fishing activity in wave agitated lakes and bodies of water persons weighing up to and over 250 pounds.

[0006] The present invention nesting of its two tubes provides a very significant degree of safety for the fishing user. The relative nesting structure and gas volumes of the two tubes makes it possible to have the outer tube punctured and deflated by a hook or other pointed object while maintaining flotation for the fully equipped user. It has been found that the relatively equal gas volumes in the two tubes that provides such effective angled orientation support also provides survival flotation for the user if one of the tubes is punctured.

[0007] The present invention further comprises several embodiments of relatively low above-water profile float devices such that wind blowing on a user in a body of water leaves the user relatively unmoved. It is well known that wind drives in undesirable directions the users of float tubes in inflatable forms such as those with round tubes, V-shaped or U-shaped tubes or with two substantially parallel inflatable pontoons. The prior art above-water profiles of the inflatable float devices delivering acceptable above-water altitude for the user have been found to have substantially identical above-water profiles that are easily wind driven. Replacing the single tubes of prior art inflatable float devices with two tubes of substantially the same diameter with substantially the same gas volume as the single inflatable tube of prior art float devices substantially reduces the above water profile of the float tube while maintaining substantially the same altitude for the user. The prior art shows that in order to provide enough flotation in a substantially round cross section float tube for a fully equipped fisherman, a relatively large diameter tube must be provided. The invention devices obtain by their construction with a fabric covering of two adjacent tubes an inherent increased stability and weighted resistance to tipping and wind forces. It will be appreciated with this disclosure that in one embodiment of the invention, round adjacent tubes are held together and surrounded with a water permeable fabric cover whereby pressing the lower side of the float tube in water causes water to soak through the fabric to fill the generally triangular cross section space formed by the inner surface of the fabric and the lower non-contacting arcs of the adjacent tubes. Attempting to quickly move the invention float tube will be resisted by the weight of the water held in that space that does not quickly drain through the fabric cover. Thus, wave and wind action is resisted by the inertia of the retained water in that space.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] FIGS. 1 and 2 are top and side views of a V-shaped prior art device of the inventor requiring a tensioning strap.

[0009] FIG. 3 is an above water line profile of the FIG. 2 device.

[0010] FIG. 4 is a side view of the invention V-shaped float tube having two tensioned and nested tubes contained in a fabric covering.

[0011] FIG. 5 is an above water line profile of the FIG. 4 device.

[0012] FIG. 6 is a top view of the invention device.

[0013] FIG. 7 is a top view of the invention device without is fabric covering showing the nesting of the inflatable tubes.

[0014] FIG. 8 is cross section I of FIG. 6.

[0015] FIG. 9 is cross section II of FIG. 6.

[0016] FIG. 10 is a top view of an invention low profile float device with two pontoons.

[0017] FIG. 11 is a top view of an invention low profile round float device.

[0018] FIG. 12 is an alternate cross section I of FIG. 6 without the fabric covering to show a continuous joining of the two inflatable tubes of FIG. 7.

[0019] FIGS. 13, 14 and 15 are respectively the devices of FIGS. 6, 10 and 11 showing a similar cross section III.

[0020] FIGS. 16 and 17 are cross sections III demonstrating deflection resistance of the dual tubes having tensioning abutment where weight is applied to the invention devices to be floated.

[0021] FIG. 18 is an alternate embodiment of cross section I of FIG. 6 with invention tensioning without the necessity of a fabric covering.

[0022] FIGS. 19 and 20 are side and top views of an invention embodiment having a wind break and back support.

[0023] FIG. 21 is section IV of FIG. 21.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0024] The invention is now discussed with reference to the Figures.

[0025] FIGS. 1-3 show a prior art V-shaped float tube. FIG. 1 and 2 shows that a tensioning strap is an absolute requirement of the device. It was unknown in the prior art that this strap could be eliminated while retaining the same or superior free leg form retention of the invention V-shaped device. FIG. 1 shows an angle 1 wherein the general bisected V-shape angle 1 equals about 20 degrees. The prior art teaches the use of a single inflatable tube beneath a fabric covering, whereby the fabric covering acts as a support for the tensioning strap. FIG. 2 shows the outline of a user a DESIRABLE ELEVATION above a WATER LEVEL. Maintaining the desirable elevation for the user with the open entry of a V-shaped or U-shaped device is one of the reasons the V-shaped and U-shaped float devices are highly preferred currently. An invention device preferably maintains these objects.

[0026] FIG. 3 shows the above water line side profile of the prior art device of FIG. 3. It is a significant portion of the total wind affectable profile of a user. A significant reduction in this profile has been found to dramatically reduce wind driving of the user to an undesirable location or direction.

[0027] FIG. 4 shows a side view of an invention embodiment float device 100. Device 100 comprises a preferably water permeable fabric covering holding together in a tensioned relationship two inflatable tubes in a V-shape having free legs 100 and a back supportable portion 103 at vertex 102 while maintaining desirable elevation 104 as in FIG. 2. FIG. 5 is shown as the above water line side profile of device 100 and such profile is in proportion to the profile of FIG. 3, whereby a reduction by about more than 30% is achieved. It has been found that this reduction achieves the desired reduction in wind driving of the user to an undesirable location or direction while maintaining identical or better desirable elevation and a front entry advantage of a V-shaped device.

[0028] FIG. 6 shows the V-shape of device 100 having a bisected angle 100′. Angle 100′ has been found to be effective for the present invention in from 4-30 degrees, although more preferably from about 4-15 degrees. Fabric covering 1 10 is shown as substantially continuous over the surface of device 100, although some substantial openings or a lattice structure may be used to achieve the invention objects. Gas fill stems 111 extend through fabric openings to the inflatable tubes underneath covering 110.

[0029] The invention objects of the embodiment of FIG. 106 are achieved in part by replacing the tensioning strap of the prior art with a tensioning of the fabric outer edge from point 105 to point 106 to point 107 to point 108, where generally the prior art instructed the skilled person to locate a tensioning strap. The use of a minimum V-angle is critical to the invention embodiment's maintenance of effective supportive relationship for a user seated in seat 112. The inflatable tubes are pressured to only about 5 psia to achieve the invention objects, a relatively low pressure to achieve such objects. The top view of the invention embodiment of FIG. 6 and the top view of the prior art V-shaped device of FIG. 1 are substantially in proportion with each other. It may be seen that the substantial reduction in side profile with the invention device is achieved without substantial increase in free leg width although the leg 101 length is somewhat increased to provide generally equivalent gas volume for maintaining the desired elevation for the user.

[0030] FIG. 7 shows the view and device of FIG. 6 without fabric covering 110, which may comprise nylon or other synthetic fiber having a resistance to absorb water into its fibers while having water permeability. FIG. 7 shows two nested inflatable tubes, in outside tube 114 and an inside tube 115, where tube 115 is substantially protected from laterally applied sharp objects by the tube 114, such that the typical reeling in of hooks on fishing lines could tend to puncture tube 114 and leave tube 115 untouched. Cross section I in FIG. 8 shows that it is preferable to maintain generally equal cross section area of tubes 114 and 115 while in the vertex area 102, cross section II of FIG. 9 shows that the cross section area 116 of tube 114 is substantially smaller than cross section area 117 of tube 115. It will be remembered that it is an object of the invention to provide roughly equivalent floatation for the user regardless of whether tube 114 or 115 is deflated. Since tube 115 is nested in tube 114, the increase cross section 117 is provided to increase the total gas volume in tube 115 to make it roughly equal to that of tube 114 while at the same time providing effective back support for the user, where such effective back support is shown in FIGS. 2 and 4.

[0031] The invention also comprises the concept of dual and roughly equivalent gas volume inflatable tubes for other shaped devices such as U-shaped tubes having tensioning straps or other shape maintenance means, two pontoon device 200 of FIG. 10 or the round float tube of FIG. 201. To maintain roughly equal gas volumes in the two tubes of FIG. 11, it may be preferable to form an increased cross section portion of the inside tube of the device of FIG. 201 as in the comparative cross sections 116 and 117 of FIG. 7.

[0032] The invention tubes are preferably supportively joined at a seam along their lateral and abutting lengths, although such a relationship can be achieved with straps surrounding the two tubes 114 and 115. An example of the form of the continuous seam is shown in FIG. 12, wherein the two tubes 114 and 115 are formed from two sheets 122 and 123 of polymer or elastomer material, preferably PVC of about 0.030 inches thickness. Heat sealed or RF welded seal welds 120, 121, 124 and 125 are made to form two separately inflatable tubes 114 and 115 with a joining section 119 between them.

[0033] It is preferable that a zippered access (not shown) be provided in the fabric covering 110 for inserting and removing the deflated tubes 114 and 115.

[0034] FIGS. 8 and 9 show a generally triangular space 118 continuous along the underside of device 100. It is this space that fills with water during use with the permeance of the fabric covering 110 allowing water to so fill that space. Once filled, the weight of the water and its inability to instantly drain from the space provides an inertial mass resisting wave and wind action. FIG. 8 shows that a grommet-reinforced hole 126 may be formed at the free end of the legs 101 where the water that may accumulate in the space 118 may drain freely from space 118. Alternately, a continuous sheet of waterproof material may cover at least the bottom portion 127 of the fabric covering as shown in FIG. 8. The waterproof material may be of neoprene or Hypalon, whereby a superior surface is obtained for puncture resistance and drag to the user's paddle movement of the float device from one location to another.

[0035] Another more general concept of the invention comprises two held apart sets of two inflatable tubes, where the tubes of the set are held, in flotation operation, substantially horizontal to the water surface and side by side abutting each other in both the weighted and unweighted state. The tube abutment tension means are derived primarily from a sheet or web covering of the non-abutting outer surfaces of the tubes as in FIG. 8 or direct tube to tube connection as in FIG. 18. The tension means cause the two tubes of each set to be held together so that when the device is used with a person seated between the sets with their head at a desired elevation above the water (the weighted state), the combination of the effects of the joining means and the tension means effectively reduce deflection of the relative axes of the adjacent tubes between the weighted and unweighted states so that a relatively low profile is maintained. Without such tension, the suspension of a user's weight between the sets would cause the tubes adjacent to the user to be pulled lower in the water than the more distal tubes of the sets, thereby raising the distal tubes higher than in an unweighted state and raising the above water profile of the device. The flotation volume distribution is preferably about equal between the two supportively adjacent tubes.

[0036] The prior art does not teach or lead the skilled person to use a tensioned engagement of the dual tubes of the invention, where the tensioned engagement can be made with fabric covering (even with substantial openings), multiple straps, webbing or additional heat sealing or RF welding of adjacent opposing tube surfaces to effect the tensioning. The degree of tensioning should be sufficient so that inflation of the two tubes above about 2-3 psia results in an inflated structure with two tube diameters of about greater than 4 inches, two tube axes that lie in approximately a plane parallel with the water when the tubes are in use and having adjacent axes lengths of at least about greater than two feet.

[0037] FIGS. 13-15 show that a common cross section III may be made in the several float devices disclosed herein as capable of being adapted to benefit from the invention sets of dual tubes. FIGS. 16 and 17 do not show the joining means for the held apart sets, as such means are substantially different in the devices of FIGS. 13-15, although the effect of the joining means in combination with the tensioning means still results in a relatively low profile float device in the weighted and unweighted states.

[0038] FIGS. 16 and 17 shows two held apart sets of tubes tensioned with a fabric covering as described above. FIG. 16 shows a rigid connector 128 connected at connections 129 to covering 110. The weight direction arrow 128′ shows that connector 128 simply depresses the two tube sets equally into the water at the tube-axes width of connector 128. In this embodiment, the rigid connector becomes part of the joining means that maintains the distance of the tube sets apart as in FIG. 14.

[0039] FIG. 17 is a somewhat broader embodiment for suspending a weight between the sets of dual tubes, as shown in the suspended seat-type float tubes of FIGS. 13 and 15. For such suspension seats, the attachment zone of the seat to the tube sets results in variable torsion effects on the tube sets. It has been found that the invention tensioning is sufficient to permit attachment of the suspension seat to any of the radial surface points of the covering 110 without resulting in substantially adverse downward deflection of the inside tubes 115 with upward deflection of outside tubes 114. Suspension sling or other means 130 and 132 are attached respectively at points 131 and 133 on covering 110. Means 130 and 132 in the weighted state tend to pull covering 110 in direction 136 around the general radius of the tube sets, which rotation inducing pull is negated by the appropriate tension of covering 110 and connection of the tube sets to joining means. Similarly, suspension sling or other means 134 attached at points 135 induce in the weighted state a rotation or pull in the direction 140, which rotation inducing pull is negated by the appropriate tension of covering 110 and connection of the tube sets to joining means. It is intended that the invention in the weighted state not deflect from water level angle 137 to upward angle 139 or downward angle 138 more than about 30 degrees without resulting in an undesirable above water profile.

[0040] FIG. 18 shows an embodiment of cross section I where tensioning of the adjacent tubes is achieved without a covering, using instead RF welds or heat sealings 141 at a high and low positions of polymer sheets 142 and 143. The suspension seat attachments may be made by way of straps encircling the tube sets in appropriate locations.

[0041] While a low profile is desirable for a float device, having a back rest has been of great value in prior art devices. However, the form of such back rests has undesirably raised the profile of the float device. FIG. 19 shows an invention back rest means 300 incorporated into the invention device 100 by sewn in seam 301 of a fabric shell filled with filling means 304 as in FIG. 21 to maintain a front aerodynamic face 302 and a back rest 303 for the user (shown in broken outline in FIG. 19). Seam 301 is preferably a continuous attachment of the fabric shell of means 300 to covering 110. Filling means 304 comprises many different materials from synthetic foam to user equipment accessed with a zipper (not shown). It is preferable to provide that zippered access be provided in the fabric shell for the user to insert and /or remove filling means for improving back rest support or for collapsing to store or carry the deflated device 100. The user is thus provided with back rest 303 while obtaining a device 100 having substantially reduced wind resistance over face 302.

[0042] The above design options will sometimes present the skilled designer with considerable and wide ranges from which to choose appropriate apparatus and method modifications for the above examples. However, the objects of the present invention will still be obtained by that skilled designer applying such design options in an appropriate manner.