Title:
Cover for seat belt buckle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A seat belt buckle, of the type which is released by depressing a push button, is provided with a cover having a body portion adapted to cover the push button. The cover is retained in place on the buckle by a plurality of resilient clips arranged to engage round the buckle body. The resilient clips are adapted to yield to release the cover when a force tending to dislodge the cover exceeds a predetermined value.



Inventors:
Baloga, Thomas Charles (Fort Mill, SC, US)
Application Number:
10/011870
Publication Date:
08/22/2002
Filing Date:
12/03/2001
Assignee:
BALOGA THOMAS CHARLES
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A44B11/25; (IPC1-7): A44B11/25
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SANDY, ROBERT JOHN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIS & BUJOLD, P.L.L.C. (CONCORD, NH, US)
Claims:
1. A cover for a seat belt buckle of the type which is released by depressing a push button, the cover comprising: a body portion adapted to cover the push button, and a plurality of resilient clips arranged to engage round the buckle body to retain the cover in place, the resilient clips being adapted to yield to release the cover when a force tending to dislodge the cover exceeds a predetermined value.

2. A cover according to claim 1, wherein the body portion has an opening opposite to the push button to enable a test probe to open the buckle when the cover is in place.

3. A cover according to claim 1, wherein the resilient clips are oriented so as to be disengageable by application of a dislodging force thereto in a direction substantially different to the direction of movement of the push button.

4. A cover according to claim 3, wherein the resilient clips are oriented so as to be disengageable by application of a dislodging force thereto in a direction substantially perpendicular to the direction of movement of the push button.

5. A cover according to claim 4, wherein the dislodging force must be applied simultaneously at a plurality of separate locations.

6. A cover according to claim 3, wherein disengagement requires application of a dislodging force simultaneously at a plurality of separate locations.

7. A seat belt buckle of the type which is released by depressing a push button, in combination with a cover comprising: a body portion adapted to cover the push button, and a plurality of resilient clips arranged to engage round the buckle body to retain the cover in place, the resilient clips being adapted to yield to release the cover when a force tending to dislodge the cover exceeds a predetermined value.

8. The combination of claim 7, wherein the body portion has an opening opposite to the push button to enable a test probe to open the buckle when the cover is in place.

9. The combination of claim 7, wherein the resilient clips are oriented so as to be disengageable by application of a dislodging force thereto in a direction substantially different to the direction of movement of the push button.

10. The combination of claim 9, wherein the resilient clips are oriented so as to be disengageable by application of a dislodging force thereto in a direction substantially perpendicular to the direction of movement of the push button.

11. The combination of claim 10, wherein the dislodging force must be applied simultaneously at a plurality of separate locations.

12. The combination of claim 9, wherein disengagement requires application of a dislodging force simultaneously at a plurality of separate locations.

13. The combination of claim 7, wherein the buckle is mounted on an elongate member and the cover further comprises interengaging formations adapted to retain the cover captive on said elongate member the cover is dislodged from the buckle.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to a cover for a seat belt buckle of the type which is released by depressing a push button and has particular but not exclusive application to a seat belt buckle intended for use by a child.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Problems have been encountered with children's seat belt buckles resulting from the entry of foreign material, particularly liquids, between the push button and the buckle body. Entry of such material is commonly the result of a child eating and/or drinking while in an automobile child seat. This causes problems of buckle “fouling” leading to sticking and poor buckle operation. Problems are also encountered due to a child accidentally or deliberately pressing the push button to release the buckle when the automobile is in motion.

[0003] It is an object of the invention to provide a cover for a seat belt buckle which overcomes these problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] According to the invention, a cover for a seat belt buckle of the type released by depressing a push button comprises a body portion adapted to cover the push button and a plurality of resilient clips arranged to engage round the buckle body to retain the cover in place, the resilient clips being adapted to yield to release the cover when a force tending to dislodge the cover exceeds a predetermined value.

[0005] Preferably, the cover includes an opening opposite to the push button to enable a test probe to open the buckle when the cover is in place.

[0006] The cover may be constructed so that the force needed to displace the cover from the buckle must be applied in a direction substantially different to the direction of movement of the push button. In one form of the invention, this dislodging force must be applied in a direction substantially perpendicular to the direction of movement of the push button. Preferably, the dislodging force must be applied simultaneously at a plurality of separate locations, for example with two fingers.

[0007] The cover may be provided with interengaging formations adapted to retain the cover captive on an elongate member, such as a strap or stalk, on which the buckle is mounted, when the cover is dislodged from the buckle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] An embodiment of the invention will be now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0009] FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a buckle and cover in accordance with the invention;

[0010] FIG. 2 is a side view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, with the cover in place on the buckle and the cover shown in cross-section; and

[0011] FIG. 3 is a side view similar to FIG. 2, showing the cover dislodged from the buckle.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0012] The drawings show a seat belt buckle comprising a buckle body 10 mounted on a seat belt strap 12. The body 10 has a slot 14 for receiving a buckle tongue (not shown) and a push button 16 which is displaceable in the direction of the arrow 18 (FIG. 3) to release such buckle tongue. The mechanism of the buckle 10 forms no part of the present invention and will not be described in further detail.

[0013] In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a cover 20 comprises a sloping wall 22, flat end walls 24 and 26, and a front wall 28 which has a convex upper portion to accommodate the push button 16. Projecting from each side wall 24, 26 is an integrally-formed resilient clip 30, 32.having a respective detent formation 34, 36 adapted to engage with a side surface 38 of the buckle body 10, as shown in FIG. 2. This prevents access to the push button 16 by a child. The sloping top 22 wall renders removal by a child more difficult.

[0014] To release the buckle 10, it is necessary first to apply a force to the clips 30, 32 with two fingers. If sufficient force is applied, the resilient clips 30 and 32 yield and the cover 20 is dislodged from the buckle 10, exposing the push button 16. Having performed this operation, the thumb of an adult operator is then conveniently positioned to depress the push button 16.

[0015] Inwardly directed projections 42 and 42 on the bottom of the side walls 24 and 26 engage in the opening 46 formed by the end of the strap 12, so as to retain the cover captive after it has been dislodged, as shown in FIG. 3. There is sufficient gap between the confronting ends of the projections 42 and 44 to permit the cover 20 to be unhooked from the strap 12 if desired.

[0016] The top wall 22 has an opening 48 opposite to the push button 16 to enable a test probe to open the buckle when the cover is in place.

[0017] The invention is also applicable to buckles have push buttons which move in a direction perpendicular to the direction of insertion of the buckle tongue.