Title:
Ocean-going ship, an ocean-going vessel with a device for sealing propeller drive shafts, and a device for sealing propeller drive shafts in an ocean-going vessel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In an ocean-going ship or vessel, a device is used to seal propeller drive shafts and has an inner bush that guides the drive shaft. The inner bush is for its part guided in an outer bush and has an inside diameter that is greater than an outside diameter of the drive shaft to be guided The inner bush has at least one oil or grease channel which is provided with at least one discharge opening in the vicinity of an inner side of the inner bush and can be connected to an oil or grease transport device.



Inventors:
Von Bergen, Ernst-peter (Ahlefeld, DE)
Application Number:
09/932272
Publication Date:
07/11/2002
Filing Date:
08/17/2001
Assignee:
VON BERGEN ERNST-PETER
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63H23/36; B63H23/32; F16C3/02; F16J15/00; F16J15/10; F16J15/16; F16J15/18; (IPC1-7): B63H23/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BASINGER, SHERMAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NILS H. LJUNGMAN & ASSOCIATES (GREENSBURG, PA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An ocean-going ship, said ocean-going ship comprising a device to seal propeller drive shafts which has an inner bush that guides the drive shaft, which inner bush is guided in an outer bush and has an inside diameter that is larger than an outside diameter of the drive shaft to be guided, characterized by the fact that the inner bush (7) has at least one oil or grease channel (17) which is provided with at least one discharge opening (18) in the vicinity of an inner side (12) of the inner bush (7) and can be connected to the oil or grease transport device.

2. The ship as claimed in claim 1, characterized by the fact that the discharge opening (19) of the oil or grease channel (17) is positioned in an area of the inner bush (7) that faces the ship's propeller (8).

3. The ship as claimed in claim 1, characterized by the fact that the discharge opening (18) of the oil or grease channel (17) is positioned in an area of the inner bush (7) that faces away from the ship's propeller (8).

4. The ship as claimed in claim 1, characterized by the fact that the discharge opening (19) of the oil or grease channel (17) is located in a middle area of the inner bush (7) in the direction of a longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft.

5. The ship as claimed in claim 1, characterized by the fact that the inner bush, in the vicinity of its inner side (12) facing the drive shaft (1), is provided with a depression on the inside (13) that is bordered by radial webs (15, 16).

6. The ship as claimed in claim 5, characterized by the fact that the depression on the inside (13) has a configuration that corresponds to the external surface of a cylinder.

7. The ship as claimed in claim 6, characterized by the fact that at least one displacement element (19) is guided in the vicinity of the depression on the inside (13).

8. The ship as claimed in claim 7, characterized by the fact that the displacement element (19) has a ring shape.

9. The ship as claimed in claim 8, characterized by the fact that two displacement elements (19) are located in the vicinity of the depression on the inside (13).

10. The ship as claimed in claim 9, characterized by the fact that at least one of the displacement elements (19) has a taper (24), the inclination of which relative to the longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft corresponds to the inclination of an inclined flank (25) of the depression on the inside (13).

11. The ship as claimed in claim 10, characterized by the fact that a seal (21, 23) is located in the vicinity of at least one of the radial webs (15, 16).

12. The ship as claimed in claim 11, characterized by the fact that the seal (21, 23) is realized in the form of an O-ring.

13. The ship as claimed in claim 11, characterized by the fact that the seal (21, 23) is realized in the form of a guide band or driving band.

14. The ship as claimed in claim 12, characterized by the fact that the displacement element (19) is provided with at least one seal (22).

15. The ship as claimed in claim 14, characterized by the fact that the displacement element (19) has two seals on sides facing away from each other.

16. The ship as claimed in claim 15, characterized by the fact that the,inner bush (7) is mounted on a ship's propeller (8).

17. In an ocean-going vessel, a device to seal drive shafts which has an inner bush that guides the drive shaft, which inner bush is guided in an outer bush and has an inside diameter that is larger than an outside diameter of the drive shaft to be guided, characterized by the fact that the inner bush (7) has at least one oil or grease channel (17) which is provided with at least one discharge opening (18) in the vicinity of an inner side (12) of the inner bush (7) and can be connected to the oil or grease transport device.

18. The device as claimed in claim 17, characterized by the fact that the discharge opening (19) of the oil or grease channel (17) is positioned in one of: an area of the inner bush (7) that faces the ship's propeller (8); an area of the inner bush (7) that faces away from the ship's propeller (8); a middle area of the inner bush (7) in the direction of a longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft.

19. The device as claimed in claim 18, characterized by the fact that the inner bush, in the vicinity of its inner side (12) facing the drive shaft (1), is provided with a depression on the inside (13) that is bordered by radial webs (15, 16); the depression on the inside (13) has a configuration that corresponds to the external surface of a cylinder; at least one displacement element (19) is guided in the vicinity of the depression on the inside (13); and the displacement element (19) has a ring shape.

20. The device as claimed in claim 19, characterized by the fact that two displacement elements (19) are located in the vicinity of the depression on the inside (13); at least one of the displacement elements (19) has a taper (24), the inclination of which relative to the longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft corresponds to the inclination of an inclined flank (25) of the depression on the inside (13); a seal (21, 23) is located in the vicinity of at least one of the radial webs (15, 16); and the seal (21, 23) is realized in the form of an O-ring or a guide band or driving band; the displacement element (19) is provided with at least one seal (22); the displacement element (19) has two seals on sides facing away from each other; and the inner bush (7) is mounted on a ship's propeller (8).

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to an ocean-going ship, such as, but not limited to, ocean liners, warships, cruise ships, and large cargo ships. This invention further relates to an ocean-going vessel with a device for sealing propeller drive shafts from intrusion of unwanted materials, such as sea water. This invention also relates to a device for sealing propeller drive shafts in an ocean-going vessel. The invention additionally relates to a device for sealing drive shafts that has an inner bush that guides the drive shaft, whereby the inner bush is in turn guided in an outer bush and has an inside diameter that is greater than the outside diameter of the drive shaft to be guided.

[0003] 2. Background Information

[0004] Devices of this type are used to guide drive shafts of ships in the vicinity of their passage through the ship's hull and to guarantee a sufficient seal. In one typical embodiment, the outer bush is rigidly bolted to the ship's structure and ring-shaped seal elements are held by the outer bush so that they perform a sealing function of the outer bush relative to the inner bush and simultaneously allow a mobility of the inner bush relative to the outer bush. The inner bush has a flange for mounting on the ship's propeller.

[0005] A narrow ring-shaped gap generally extends between the inner bush and the drive shaft. In particular when repair work is being performed under water that requires the extraction of the inner bush from the drive shaft and its subsequent re-installation, sea water penetrates into the area of the gap between the inner bush and the drive shaft and causes crevice corrosion. No effective methods to essentially prevent such crevice corrosion are currently known. It is also virtually impossible to align the inner bush with the drive shaft under water.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

[0006] At least one possible object of this invention is to design a device of the type described above so that essentially or substantially 100% protection against corrosion due to penetration of sea water or other unwanted materials can be achieved, and so that it is possible to align the inner bush under water.

[0007] Another object of this invention is to design a device of the type described above so that 100% protection against corrosion can be achieved, and so that it is possible to align the inner bush under water.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The invention teaches that the inner bush has at least one channel that is provided with at least one discharge opening in the vicinity of an inner side of the inner bush and which channel can be connected to an oil or grease transport device, such as an oil or grease gun, injector device, or pumping device.

[0009] As a result of the location and orientation of the channel, it is possible to transport oil or grease by means of the oil or grease transport device into the area of the gap between the drive shaft and the inner bush, and if necessary for the oil or grease to displace any water that may be in the vicinity of the annular gap. On account of the relatively small size of the annular gap, the oil or grease prevents the repeated penetration of water into the gap.

[0010] The direction of the displacement of undesired media between the inner bush and the drive shaft can be determined by positioning the discharge opening of the oil or grease channel in an area of the inner bush that faces the ship's propeller.

[0011] In an additional variant, the discharge opening of the oil or grease channel can be positioned in an area of the inner bush that faces away from the ship's propeller.

[0012] Displacement toward both sides can be promoted by the fact that the discharge opening of the oil or grease channel is located in an area of the inner bush that opens toward the longitudinal axis of the shaft.

[0013] Improved access for the displacement medium to achieve an optimum displacement action can be promoted if the inner bush is provided in the vicinity of its inside facing the drive shaft with a depression on the inside which is bounded by radial webs.

[0014] A uniform oil or grease distribution can also be promoted if the depression on the inside has a shape that corresponds to a the outer surface of a cylinder.

[0015] The invention teaches that a further improvement of the displacement can be achieved by using wiping processes if at least one displacement element is located in the vicinity of the depression on the inside.

[0016] In one embodiment that is particularly simple to realize in terms of design and construction, the displacement element has a ring-like shape.

[0017] The inner bush can be supported in the vicinity of both ends by two displacement elements that are located in the vicinity of the depression on the inside.

[0018] To improve the sealing action as well as the orientation of the bushing with respect to the shaft, the invention teaches that at least one of the displacement elements can have a taper, the inclination of which relative to the longitudinal axis of the shaft corresponds to or is the same as the inclination of a diagonal flank of the depression on the inside.

[0019] An uncontrolled discharge of the displacement medium from the area between the inner bush and the drive shaft can be prevented by locating a seal in the vicinity of at least one of the radial webs.

[0020] In one embodiment that can be realized particularly economically, the seal is realized in the form of an O-ring.

[0021] Contact over a wide area is promoted if the seal is realized in the form of a guide band or driving band.

[0022] A very high intensity of displacement of undesired media can be achieved, even given the inevitable manufacturing tolerances, if the displacement element is provided with at-least one seal.

[0023] An improved sealing action can be achieved by providing the displacement element with two seals on each of its sides facing away from each other.

[0024] In one typical embodiment, the inner bush is mounted on a ship's propeller. In one other possible embodiment, the inner bush can be mounted to a mounting structure on the propeller arrangement. The inner bush can be mounted using bolts, screws, or other types of connecting elements.

[0025] In one other possible embodiment, the grease or oil can be injected or pushed into the grease or oil channel using a grease or oil pump, gun, injector, or other type of transport mechanism. The grease pump, in at least one possible embodiment, can be attached to the opening to the channel in a sealed, secured, or locked manner by using bolts, screws, or other appropriate attachment devices. After attaching the grease pump onto or over the opening, the grease can be forced into the opening to cause expulsion of undesired media from the gap between the inner bush and the drive shaft. The grease pump can be detached and removed after completion of the expulsion process, and then an appropriate plug, seal, or cap structure can be placed in or onto the opening.

[0026] In another possible embodiment, a plug or other sealing structure can be provided to plug up or seal the entry opening to the grease or oil channel. Such a plug or sealing structure could be inserted into or attached to cover the opening after grease or oil has been transported into the gap between the inner bush and the drive shaft to push out unwanted media from the gap. The sealing element could essentially prevent the grease or oil from escaping back out of the channel into the outside environment, such as the ocean, upon completion of the injection procedure. The sealing structure could be constructed of such materials as plastic, rubber, or metal.

[0027] The above-discussed embodiments of the present invention will be described further hereinbelow. When the word “invention” is used in this specification, the word “invention” includes “inventions”, that is the plural of “invention”. By stating “invention”, the Applicant does not in any way admit that the present application does not include more than one patentably and non-obviously distinct invention, and maintains that this application may include more than one patentably and non-obviously distinct invention. The Applicant hereby asserts that the disclosure of this application may include more than one invention, and, in the event that there is more than one invention, that these inventions may be patentable and non-obvious one with respect to the other.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] Exemplary embodiments of the invention are illustrated schematically in the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0029] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of the passage of a ship's drive shaft through the outer wall of the ship;

[0030] FIG. 2 is an enlarged illustration of Detail II in FIG. 1;

[0031] FIG. 3 is a partial longitudinal section of an inner bush with a drive shaft, in which a displacement element is guided so that it can move along the gap between the inner bush and the drive shaft;

[0032] FIG. 4 is an illustration similar to FIG. 3 with a different path of an oil or grease channel inside the inner bush;

[0033] FIG. 5 shows an additional embodiment in which there are two movable displacement elements;

[0034] FIG. 6 shows an embodiment similar to the one illustrated in FIG. 5, although in FIG. 6 the displacement elements are provided with guide bevels;

[0035] FIG. 7 shows an embodiment similar to the one illustrated in FIG. 6, and again with modified displacement elements;

[0036] FIG. 8 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1, with mounting structures;

[0037] FIG. 9 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 2, with mounting structures;

[0038] FIG. 10 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 3, with a sealing structure;

[0039] FIG. 11 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 4, with a sealing structure;

[0040] FIG. 12 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 5, with a sealing structure;

[0041] FIG. 13 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 6, with a sealing structure;

[0042] FIG. 14 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 7, with a sealing structure;

[0043] FIG. 15 shows an ocean-going ship or vessel according to at least one embodiment of the present invention; and

[0044] FIG. 16 shows a view of a propeller structure connected to an ocean-going ship according to at least one embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0045] FIG. 15 shows an ocean-going ship or vessel 101. The ocean-going ship 101 has a propeller structure 102 which is designed to provide propulsion to move the ship 101 in a body of water 103, such as an ocean or sea.

[0046] FIG. 16 shows a view of a propeller structure 104 connected to the rear portion 105 of an ocean-going ship. The propeller structure 104 is connected to a drive mechanism 106. The drive mechanism 106 rotates to drive the propeller structure 104 to provide propulsion to move an ocean-going ship.

[0047] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, a drive shaft (1) is guided through a ship's structure (2). In the vicinity of the ship's interior (3), the drive shaft (1) is guided in a sealed manner by a mounting bush (4). In the vicinity of an outside (5) of the ship's structure (2), there is an outer bush (6) that is rigidly connected with the ship's structure (2).

[0048] Inside the outer bush (6), an inner bush (7) is guided and mounted on a ship's propeller (8). The inner bush (7) is thereby pushed onto an outer segment (9) of the drive shaft (1) which projects from the outside of the ship's structure (2).

[0049] FIG. 2 is an enlargement of Detail II in FIG. 1. FIG. 2 shows in particular that the outer bush (6) holds a plurality of seal elements (10) that press against the inner bush (7). Consequently, a highly effective sealing action can be achieved even with an inner bush (7) that rotates jointly with the drive shaft (1) while the outer bush (6) remains stationary. FIG. 2 also shows that there is a gap (11) that extends between the drive shaft (1) and the inner bush (7).

[0050] In the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, the inner bush (7) is provided in the vicinity of its inner side (12) facing the drive shaft (1) with a depression (13) on its inner side. The depression (13) on the inner side is bordered in the direction of the longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft by an inner radial web (15) and an outer radial web (16). The ring-shaped gap (11) extends between the inner radial web (15) and the drive shaft (1) and has essentially the dimensions disclosed by the prior art. A space between the outer radial web (16) and the drive shaft (1) is larger than the distance between the inner radial web (15) and the drive shaft (1).

[0051] At least one oil or grease channel (17) extends through the inner bush (7), and can be connected to an associated oil or grease transport device by means of connecting lines (not shown). The oil or grease channel (17) is provided with a discharge opening (18) that faces the drive shaft (1). When the oil or grease transport device is activated, oil or grease is transported via the oil or grease channel (17) to the discharge opening (18) and displaces any water in the vicinity of the ring-shaped gap (11).

[0052] The displacement of the water from the vicinity of the ring-shaped gap (11) can be intensified and above all made more uniform if, in the vicinity of the inner recess (11), a displacement element (19) is guided so that it can move in the direction of the longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft. This arrangement is particularly appropriate if the displacement element (19) is in the shape of a ring and is in contact with the drive shaft (1).

[0053] FIG. 3 shows the displacement element (19) in a base position in which the displacement element (19) is located at a short distance from the discharge opening (18). In this exemplary embodiment, the oil or grease channel (17) is positioned in the vicinity of an assembly flange (20) of the inner bush (7), so that the discharge opening (18) is located relatively close to the inner radial web (15). The inner radial web (15) is thereby provided with a seal (21) that extends between the inner radial web (15) and the drive shaft (1). The displacement element (19) has seals (22) both in the vicinity of its surface facing the drive shaft (1) and in the vicinity of its surfaces facing the inner side (12) of the inner bush (7). The seals (22) can be realized in the form of O-rings, for example.

[0054] In the illustrated exemplary embodiment, seals (22) are located in the direction of the longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft in the vicinity of the forward end and the rear end of the displacement element (19) on both sides of the displacement element (19), so that the four seals (22) in the illustrated cross section essentially define the corners of a rectangle.

[0055] In addition to the base position of the displacement element (9) shown in solid lines, FIG. 3 also shows in dotted lines the positioning of the displacement element (19) after the completion of the positioning process. As a result of pressurization with the oil or grease, the displacement element (19) was pressed against the outer radial web (16) and essentially all the water that was in the vicinity of the ring-shaped gap (11) and the inside depression (13) was expelled through the space between the outer radial web (16) and the drive shaft (1).

[0056] FIG. 4 shows a variant embodiment in which the oil or grease channel (17) is located with its discharge opening (18) in the vicinity of the outer radial web (16). In this exemplary embodiment, the distance between the outer radial web (16) and the drive shaft (1) is less than the distance between the inner radial web (15) and the drive shaft (1). In the vicinity of the inner radial web (15) there is no sealing action; for this purpose a seal (23) is positioned between the outer radial web (16) and the drive shaft (1). The technical function is similar to that of the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2. The only difference is a reverse direction of movement of the displacement element (19).

[0057] FIG. 5 shows an exemplary embodiment in which the oil or grease channel (17) empties with its discharge opening (18) in a middle area of the length of the inner bush (7) along the longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft into the depression on the inside (13). There are two displacement elements (19) which in turn, in their initial position, are located at a slight distance from the discharge opening (18), and in the-event of a pressurization with oil or grease are pushed by the oil or grease flowing behind them toward the radial webs (15, 16). As a result of the use of two displacement elements (19), the inner bush (7) is supported relative to the drive shaft (10) in the vicinity of both radial webs (15, 16), and there is no need for separate seals in the vicinity of the radial webs (15, 16).

[0058] FIG. 6 shows an exemplary embodiment that is similar to the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIG. 5. In this case, the displacement elements (19) have tapers in the vicinity of their ends farther from the discharge opening (18), which tapers correspond to a corresponding inclination of the inner side (12) in the vicinity of the depression on the inside (13). As a result of this wedge-shape, after a displacement of the displacement elements (19) toward the radial webs (15, 16), the inner bush (7), the displacement elements (19) and the drive shaft (1) are braced in position relative to one another, which results in an improved orientation of the bush. In this exemplary embodiment, the seals (22) of the displacement elements (19) are positioned in the vicinity of the half of the displacement elements (19) that is closer to the discharge opening (19).

[0059] FIG. 7 shows an exemplary embodiment which is another variant of the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6, in which the displacement elements (19) are shorter in the direction of the longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft. In this case, the tapered portions (24) of the displacement elements (19) and the inclined flanks (25) of the terminal areas of the depression on the inside (13) that correspond to them are provided with a greater inclination relative to the longitudinal axis (14) of the shaft than in the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6.

[0060] As a result of this sharp inclination, there is no need for sealing elements (22) in the vicinity of the displacement elements (19), because the wedge effects that occur in the vicinity of the tapers (24) and of the inclined flanks (25) cause both an effective seal as well as an orientation of the inner bush (7) relative to the drive shaft (1).

[0061] The displacement elements (19) can thereby also be elastic or elastomeric, e.g. realized in the form of PU or polyurethane rings which are compressed for positioning and locking by means of the cams (26, 27) that are provided in the depression on the inside (13).

[0062] FIG. 8 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1, with mounting structures 41, 42.

[0063] FIG. 9 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 2, with mounting structures 41, 42.

[0064] FIG. 10 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 3, with sealing structure 51. The sealing structure 51 can be in the form of a cap, cover, or plug that can inserted into the opening in the grease channel 17 or attached to cover the opening to substantially prevent grease or oil from escaping back out of the opening once the grease or oil has been transported into the channel 17 and the gap 11.

[0065] FIG. 11 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 4, with sealing structure 51.

[0066] FIG. 12 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 5, with sealing structure 51.

[0067] FIG. 13 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 6, with sealing structure 51.

[0068] FIG. 14 shows an additional possible embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 7, with sealing structure 51.

[0069] One feature of the invention resides broadly in a device to seal drive shafts which has an inner bush that guides the drive shaft, which inner bush is guided in an outer bush and has an inside diameter that is larger than an outside diameter of the drive shaft to be guided, characterized by the fact that the inner bush 7 has at least one oil or grease channel 17 which is provided with at least one discharge opening 18 in the vicinity of an inner side 12 of the inner bush 7 and can be connected to the oil or grease transport device.

[0070] Another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the discharge opening 19 of the oil or grease channel 17 is positioned in an area of the inner bush 7 that faces the ship's propeller 8.

[0071] Yet another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the discharge opening 18 of the oil or grease channel 17 is positioned in an area of the inner bush 7 that faces away from the ship's propeller 8.

[0072] Still another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the discharge opening 19 of the oil or grease channel 17 is located in a middle area of the inner bush 7 in the direction of a longitudinal axis 14 of the shaft.

[0073] A further feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the inner bush, in the vicinity of its inner side 12 facing the drive shaft 1, is provided with a depression on the inside 13 that is bordered by radial webs 15, 16.

[0074] Another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the depression on the inside 13 has a configuration that corresponds to the external surface of a cylinder.

[0075] Yet another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that at least one displacement element 19 is guided in the vicinity of the depression on the inside 13.

[0076] Still another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the displacement element 19 has a ring shape.

[0077] A further feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that two displacement elements 19 are located in the vicinity of the depression on the inside 13.

[0078] Another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that at least one of the displacement elements 19 has a taper 24, the inclination of which relative to the longitudinal axis 14 of the shaft corresponds to the inclination of an inclined flank 25 of the depression on the inside 13.

[0079] Yet another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that a seal 21, 23 is located in the vicinity of at least one of the radial webs 15, 16.

[0080] Still another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the seal 21, 23 is realized in the form of an O-ring.

[0081] A further feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the seal 21, 23 is realized in the form of an guide band or driving band.

[0082] Another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the displacement element 19 is provided with at least one seal 22.

[0083] Yet another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the displacement element 19 has two seals on sides facing away from each other.

[0084] Still another feature of the invention resides broadly in the device, characterized by the fact that the inner bush 7 is mounted on a ship's propeller 8.

[0085] The components disclosed in the various publications, disclosed or incorporated by reference herein, may be used in the embodiments of the present invention, as well as equivalents thereof.

[0086] The appended drawings in their entirety, including all dimensions, proportions and/or shapes in at least one embodiment of the invention, are accurate and are hereby included by reference into this specification.

[0087] All, or substantially all, of the components and methods of the various embodiments may be used with at least one embodiment or all of the embodiments, if more than one embodiment is described herein.

[0088] All of the patents, patent applications and publications recited herein, and in the Declaration attached hereto, are hereby incorporated by reference as if set forth in their entirety herein.

[0089] The corresponding foreign patent publication applications, namely, Federal Republic of Germany Patent Application No. 100 40 211.9, filed on Aug. 17, 2000, having inventor Ernst-Peter VON BERGEN, and DE-OS No. 100 40 211.9, having inventor Ernst-Peter VON BERGEN, and DE-PS No. 100 40 211.9, having inventor Ernst-Peter VON BERGEN, as well as their published equivalents, and other equivalents or corresponding applications, if any, in corresponding cases in the Federal Republic of Germany and elsewhere, and the references and documents cited in any of the documents cited herein, such as the patents, patent applications and publications, are hereby incorporated by reference as if set forth in their entirety herein.

[0090] All of the references and documents, cited in any of the documents cited herein, are hereby incorporated by reference as if set forth in their entirety herein. All of the documents cited herein, referred-to in the immediately preceding sentence, include all of the patents, patent applications and publications cited anywhere in the present application.

[0091] The details in the patents, patent applications and publications may be considered to be incorporable, at applicant's option, into the claims during prosecution as further limitations in the claims to patentably distinguish any amended claims from any applied prior art.

[0092] The following U.S. patents are hereby incorporated by reference as if set forth in their entirety herein: U.S. Pat. No. No. 5,308,269, having attorney docket no. NHL-BVA-38, issued to VON BERGEN and PIETSCH on May 3, 1994; U.S. Pat. No. 5,356,320, having attorney docket no. NHL-BVA-45, issued to VON BERGEN and PIETSCH on Oct. 18, 1994; U.S. Pat. No. 5,492,492, having attorney docket no. NHL-45-D, issued to VON BERGEN and PIETSCH on Feb. 20, 1996; U.S. Pat. No. 5,624,290, having attorney docket no. NHL-BVA-45-D2, issued to VON BERGEN and PIETSCH on Apr. 29, 1997; U.S. Pat. No. 5,209,497, having attorney docket no. NHL-BVA-32, issued to VON BERGEN and PIETSCH on May 11, 1993; U.S. Pat. No. 5,374,208, having attorney docket no. NHL-BVA-48, issued to VON BERGEN and PIETSCH on Dec. 20, 1994; U.S. Pat. No. 5,267,736, having attorney docket no. NHL-BVA-36, issued to PIETSCH and VON BERGEN on Dec. 7, 1993; U.S. Pat. No. 5,137,116, having attorney docket no. NHL-BVA-30 US, issued to VON BERGEN and PIETSCH on Aug. 11, 1992; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,643,026, having attorney docket no. NHL-BVA-51, issued to PIETSCH et al. on Jul. 1, 1997.

[0093] Some examples of propellers, propeller mounts, propeller shafts, and parts for propellers for ocean vessels, features of which may be utilized or adapted for use in the present invention may be found in the following U.S. Pat. No. 5,145,318, issued to Olson on Sep. 8, 1992; U.S. Pat. No. 4,810,166, issued to Sawizky et al. on Mar. 7, 1989; U.S. Pat. No. 3,802,800, issued to Merkx et al. on Apr. 9, 1974; U.S. Pat. No. 4,436,313, issued to Tamama et al. on Mar. 13, 1984; U.S. Pat. No. 4,831,297, issued to Taylor et al. on May 16, 1989; U.S. Pat. No. 4,150,914, issued to Karlsson on Apr. 24, 1979; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,242,979, issued to Shima on Jan. 6, 1981.

[0094] Pressure switches which could be incorporated into the present invention are disclosed in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,150,268 to Stearley, Rowley, and Buckshaw on Apr. 17, 1979, entitled “Pressure Operated Switch Construction Having a One-piece Control shaft Bracket Structure”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,158,117 to Quilliam, Gallantree, and Watt, on Jun. 12, 1979, entitled “Pressure Sensitive Switch”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,160,139 to Johnston, on Jul. 3, 1979, entitled “Pressure Sensitive Switch”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,165,650 to Weissler, on Aug. 28, 1979, entitled “Dual Purpose Pressure Sensor”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,168,415 to Edwards, Penland, Warren, Roberts, on Sep. 18, 1979, entitled “Pressure Switch Having Modular Construction”; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,182,941 to Tashiro on Jan. 8, 1980, entitled “Improved Pressure Switch”.

[0095] Relief valves which could be incorporated into the present invention are disclosed in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,142,549 to Autry on Mar. 6, 1979, entitled “Relief Valve”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,168,723 to Schneider on Sep. 25, 1979, entitled “Pressure Relief Valve”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,178,940 to Au on Dec. 18, 1979, entitled “Pressure Control Systems”; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,185,652 to Zintz, Fisher, and Gee on Jan. 29, 1980 entitled “Subaqueous Sequence Valve Mechanism”.

[0096] Solenoid valves which could be incorporated into the present invention are disclosed in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,177,774 to Moshal on Dec. 11, 1979, entitled “Control Valves”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,180,241 to Fiedler on Dec. 25, 1979, entitled “Solenoid Operated Valve and Shut-Off Device”; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,195,667 to Moore and Price on Apr. 1, 1980 entitled “Solenoid Valve with Safety Control Circuit”.

[0097] Manometers which could be incorporated into the present invention are disclosed in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,154,116, to Stahn and Gygax on May 15, 1979, entitled “Safety Manometer”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,157,043 to Peterson and Cianci on Jun. 5, 1979, entitled “Maximum Pressure Manometer”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,217,784 to Neubeck and Julien on Aug. 19, 1980, entitled “Tube Spring Manometer”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,967,600 to Keller on Nov. 6, 1990 entitled “Manometer”; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,297,081 to Irvin on Oct. 10, 1981 entitled “Liquid Level Control System”.

[0098] Examples of control systems for valves which could be incorporated into the present invention are disclosed in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 5,218,997 to Dunwoody on Jun. 15, 1993, entitled “Digital Hydraulic Valve Control”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,280,770 to Satou, Takahashi, and Kitagawa on Jan. 25, 1994, entitled “Variable Valve Actuation Control System”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,752,258 to Hochleitner and Gross on Jun. 21, 1988 entitled “Device for Controlling a Cycloid Propeller for Watercraft”; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,318,269 to Oettinger and Latt on Jun. 7, 1994, entitled “Electronic Control System for Magnetic Valves Operated Individually or in Cascade”.

[0099] Examples of control systems for ships which could be incorporated in the present invention are disclosed in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,301,759 to de Vries on Nov. 24, 1981 entitled “Control System, Particularly for Use on Ships”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,222,901 to Burkenpas on Jun. 29, 1993 entitled “Redundant Marine Engine Control System”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,336,120 to Maurer, Braig, Auer, Goebel, Schwarz and Voss on Aug. 9, 1994, entitled “Control System for Operating a Ship's Motive Installation”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,388,542 to Fischer, Drohula and Luneburg on Feb. 14, 1995 entitled “Water-Borne Ship and Method of Operation Thereof”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,038,269 to Grimble and Fairbairn on Aug. 6, 1991 entitled “Industrial Control Systems”; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,170,338 to Moritoki, Hagiwara, and Katayama on Dec. 8, 1992, entitled “Apparatus for Carrying Out Serial Control and Method of Controlling Said Apparatus”.

[0100] Lip seal arrangements which could be incorporated into the present invention include the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,984,811 to Kuwabara and Miyazaki on Jan. 15, 1991 entitled “Pressure Control System for Stern Tube Seals” U.S. Pat. No. 5,411,273 to Pietsch and von Bergen on May 2, 1995, entitled “Lip Seal to Seal a Shaft, In Particular a Ship's Propeller Shaft”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,219,434 to Von Bergen and Pietsch on Jun. 15, 1993 entitled “Sealing Arrangement for Rotating Propeller Shafts of Ships”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,137,116 to Von Bergen and Pietsch on Aug. 11, 1992 entitled “Sealing Device for a Rotating Shaft of a ship Propeller Shaft”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,356,320 to Von Bergen and Pietsch on Oct. 18, 1994 entitled “Seal Arrangement for Propeller Shafts of Ships”; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,984,968 to Layerion on Jan. 15, 1991 entitled “Variable Pitch Propellers”.

[0101] Manometric switches which could be incorporated into the present invention include the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 5,096,392 to Griebel, Kille, and Kistler on Mar. 17, 1992 entitled “Apparatus for Conveying Paints”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,740,356 to Huber on Apr. 26, 1988 entitled “Device for Producing a Gaseous Measuring Sample for Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy”; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,946,316 to Watermann and Schulze-Heiming on Aug. 7, 1990, entitled “Method and Device for Moving a Shield-Type Support Trestle”.

[0102] Float switches which could be incorporated into the present invention include the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,919,165 to Lloyd on Apr. 24, 1990 entitled “Rainfall Control for Irrigation Systems”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,017,748 to Sapiro on May 21, 1991 entitled “Float Switch With Buoyant Housing and Switch Operating Means Within the Housing”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,049,037 to Carson and Bender on Sep. 17, 1991 entitled “Automatic Well Pump Skimmer Level Control”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,089,676 to Duncan on Feb. 18, 1992 entitled “Liquid Level Float Switch”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,211,363 to Brown on May 18, 1993 entitled “Bilge Pump Bracket”; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,742,244 to Koerner on May 3, 1988 entitled “Electronic Float Switch Apparatus”.

[0103] Some additional examples of shaft seals for sealing about propeller shafts of ships, including typical lip seals as briefly described above, can be found in the following U.S. Patents which have common inventors with the present invention: U.S. Pat. No. 4,395,14 to Günter Pietsch et al., issued on Jul. 26, 1983 and entitled “Bearing and Seal Assembly for Stern Tubes of Vessels”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,413,829 to Günter Pietsch, issued on Nov. 11, 1983 and entitled “Shaft Sealing Assembly”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,413,830 to Günter Pietsch, issued on Nov. 8, 1983 and entitled “Seal Assembly for Rotating Shafts”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,448,425 to Ernst-Peter Von Bergen, issued on May 15, 1984 and entitled “Shaft Seal Assembly with Inflatable Annular Member”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,137,116 to Ernst-Peter Von Bergen and Günter Pietsch, issued on Aug. 11, 1992 and entitled “Sealing Device for Rotating Shaft of a Ship Propeller Shaft”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,267,736, issued to Pietsch et al. on Dec. 7, 1993; U.S. Pat. No. 5,209,497, issued to von Bergen et al. on May 11, 1993; U.S. Pat. No. 5,308,269, issued to von Bergen et al. on May 3, 1994; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,411,273, issued to Pietsch et al. on May 2, 1995.

[0104] Some additional examples of drive shafts and/or drive shaft seals, features of which may be incorporated into the present invention, can be found in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,417,881, issued to Dyson on Nov. 29, 1983; U.S. Pat. No. 5,503,404, issued to Newton et al. on Apr. 2, 1996; U.S. Pat. No. 5,639,098, issued to MacDonald on Jun. 17, 1997; U.S. Pat. No. 5,911,607, issued to Lacko et al. on Jun. 15, 1999; U.S. Pat. No. 6,039320, issued to MacDonald on Mar. 21, 2000; U.S. Pat. No. 6,113,499, issued to Braun et al. on Sep. 5, 2000; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,273,428 Bi, issued to Sassi on Aug. 14, 2001.

[0105] Some examples of O-ring seals, features of which may be incorporated into the present invention, can be found in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 5,490,680, issued to Patel et al. on Feb. 13, 1996; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,312,116, issued to Quaglia on May 17, 1994.

[0106] Some additional examples of O-ring gaskets and O-ring gasket seals for use on ships, features of which may be utilized or adapted for use in the present invention, can be found in the following U.S. patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,696,362, issued to Wilson, et al. on Sep. 29, 1987; U.S. Pat. No. 5,089,972, issued to Nachman, et al. on Feb. 18, 1992; U.S. Pat. No. 5,174,222, issued to Rogers on Dec. 29, 1992; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,056,610, issued to Fontanille on May 2, 2000.

[0107] Some examples of oil channels, features of which may be utilized or adapted for use in the present invention, can be found in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,348,914, issued Kawamoto on Sep. 14, 1982; U.S. Pat. No. 5,195,400, issued to Hayakawa et al. on Mar. 23, 1993; U.S. Pat. No. 4,971,185, and issued to Hayakawa et al. on Nov. 20, 1990.

[0108] Some examples of ship drives and propeller shafts, features of which may be utilized or adapted for use in the present invention, can be found in the following U.S. patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,174,672, issued to Cox on Nov. 20, 1979; U.S. Pat. No. 5,061,212, issued to Morgenthaler et al. on Oct. 29, 1991; U.S. Pat. No. 6,033,271, issued to Schafer on Mar. 7, 2000; U.S. Pat. No. 6,050,865, issued to Bohmann et al. on Apr. 18, 2000; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,183,317 B1, issued to Schafer on Feb. 6, 2001.

[0109] Systems for measuring the draft depth of a ship and pressure control mechanisms which could be utilized in accordance with the present invention are disclosed in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 5,186,428 to Falkenberg on Feb. 16, 1993, entitled “Depth Gauge Tranducer Retractor Device”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,534,217 to Caus on Aug. 13, 1985, entitled “Measuring the Draft of a Vessel”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,622,912 to Bleke on Nov. 18, 1986, entitled “Draft Reduction System for Ships”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,495,880 to Maniscalco et al. on Jan. 29, 1985, entitled “Draft Assisted Delivery System”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,266,500 to Jurca on May 12, 1981, entitled “Hover Control System for a Submersible Buoy”; U.S. Pat. No. 4,995,014 to Hoornstra on Feb. 19, 1991, entitled “Low Frequency Hydrophone and Depth Sensor Assembly”; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,235,557 to Masreliez on Aug. 10, 1993, entitled “Combined Speed and Depth Sensor Transducer”.

[0110] Some additional examples of seals for ships, features of which may be utilized or adapted for use in the present invention can be found in the following U.S. patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,090,459, issued to Chaplin on May 23, 1978; U.S. Pat. No. 4,494,473, issued to Simpson on Jan. 22, 1985; U.S. Pat. No. 4,543,901, issued to Stringer on Oct. 1, 1985; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,696,362, issued to Wilson, et al. on Sep. 29, 1987.

[0111] Some examples of sealing gaskets and sealing lip gaskets for ships, features of which may be utilized or adapted for use in the present invention can be found in the following U.S. patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,476,798, issued to Backus on Oct. 16, 1984 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,056,610, issued to Fontanille on May 2, 2000.

[0112] Some examples of wet dock structures for use in constructing and/or repairing ocean vessels or ships, feature of which may be utilized or adapted for use in the present invention may be found in the following U.S. patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,112,697, issued to Chow on Sep. 12, 1978; U.S. Pat. No. 4,015,554, issued to Chow on Apr. 5, 1977; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,003,480, issued to Metrier on Jan. 18, 1977.

[0113] Some examples of plugs for ships, features of which may be utilized or adapted for use in at least one possible embodiment of the present invention, can be found in the following U.S. patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,630,648, issued to McCord on Dec. 23, 1986; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,840,414, issued to Ford on Jun. 20, 1989.

[0114] Some examples of grease guns and grease pumps, features of which may be utilized or adapted for use in at least one possible embodiment of the present invention, can be found in the following U.S. patents: U.S. Pat. No. 5,323,934, issued to Isert on Jun. 28, 1994; U.S. Pat. No. 5,343,982, issued to Min on Sep. 6, 1994; U.S. Pat. No. 5,544,791, issued to Chih on Aug. 13, 1996; U.S. Pat. No. 5,616,014, issued to Tsai on Apr. 1, 1997; U.S. Pat. No. 5,730,250, issued to Tsai on Mar. 24, 1998; U.S. Pat. No. 5,779,105, issued to Brown, et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,826,753, issued to Fehlig, et al. on Oct. 27, 1998; U.S. Pat. No. 5,884,818, issued to Campbell on Mar. 23, 1999; U.S. Pat. No. 6,068,164, issued to Totaro on May 30, 2000; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,135,327, issued to Post, et al. on Oct. 24, 2000.

[0115] The invention as described hereinabove in the context of the preferred embodiments is not to be taken as limited to all of the provided details thereof, since modifications and variations thereof may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.