Title:
Universal inflator
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A universal inflator which is capable of connection to virtually any type of air pump for inflating an inflatable object such as a basketball, football, volleyball or soccer ball, for example. The universal inflator may include a stem valve fitted with an inflator needle for insertion through the air plug of the inflatable object. A bicycle air pump, a commercial-type air pump or virtually any other type of air pump or air transfer device may be connected to the stem valve to facilitate inflating the object.



Inventors:
Birmingham, Sam D. (Benton, LA, US)
Application Number:
10/104670
Publication Date:
09/25/2003
Filing Date:
03/22/2002
Assignee:
BIRMINGHAM SAM D.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B41/12; (IPC1-7): B65B31/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
DEVORE, PETER T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
R. Keith Harrison (Shreveport, LA, US)
Claims:

Having described my invention with the particularity set forth above, I claim:



1. A universal inflator comprising: a stem valve having a connector nipple; and an inflator needle provided in pneumatic communication with said stem valve.

2. The universal inflator of claim 1 comprising an attachment nipple provided on said stem valve and wherein said inflator needle is provided in pneumatic communication with said attachment nipple.

3. The universal inflator of claim 1 comprising a connector base provided on said inflator needle and wherein said connector base is provided in pneumatic communication with said stem valve.

4. The universal inflator of claim 3 comprising an attachment nipple provided on said stem valve and wherein said connector base is provided in pneumatic communication with said attachment nipple.

5. The universal inflator of claim 1 comprising a housing and wherein said inflator needle and said connector nipple extend from opposite ends of said housing.

6. The universal inflator of claim 3 comprising an attachment nipple provided on said stem valve and wherein said inflator needle is provided in pneumatic communication with said attachment nipple in said housing.

7. The universal inflator of claim 5 comprising a connector base provided on said inflator needle and wherein said connector base is provided in pneumatic communication with said stem valve in said housing.

8. The universal inflator of claim 7 comprising an attachment nipple provided on said stem valve and wherein said connector base is provided in pneumatic communication with said attachment nipple in said housing.

9. The universal connector of claim 1 comprising nipple threads provided on said connector nipple.

10. The universal connector of claim 9 comprising an attachment nipple provided on said stem valve and wherein said inflator needle is provided in pneumatic communication with said attachment nipple.

11. The universal connector of claim 9 comprising a connector base provided on said inflator needle and wherein said connector base is provided in pneumatic communication with said stem valve.

12. The universal connector of claim 11 comprising an attachment nipple provided on said stem valve and wherein said inflator needle is provided in pneumatic communication with said attachment nipple.

13. The universal connector of claim 9 comprising a housing and wherein said inflator needle and said connector nipple extend from opposite ends of said housing.

14. The universal connector of claim 13 comprising an attachment nipple provided on said stem valve and wherein said inflator needle is provided in pneumatic communication with said attachment nipple in said housing.

15. The universal connector of claim 13 comprising a connector base provided on said inflator needle and wherein said connector base is provided in pneumatic communication with said stem valve in said housing.

16. The universal connector of claim 15 comprising an attachment nipple provided on said stem valve and wherein said connector base is provided in pneumatic communication with said attachment nipple in said housing.

17. A method of inflating an inflatable object, comprising: providing a universal inflator comprising a stem valve having a connector nipple and an inflator needle provided in pneumatic communication with said stem valve; providing said inflator needle in pneumatic communication with the inflatable object; providing an air pump; providing said air pump in pneumatic communication with said stem valve; and delivering air from said air pump to the inflatable object through said stem valve and said inflator needle, respectively, of said universal inflator.

18. The method of claim 17 comprising a housing and wherein said inflator needle and said connector nipple extend from opposite ends of said housing.

19. The method of claim 17 comprising an attachment nipple provided on said stem valve and a connector base provided on said inflator needle and wherein said connector base is provided in pneumatic communication with said attachment nipple.

20. A method of transferring air from a first inflatable object to a second inflatable object, comprising: providing a universal inflator comprising a stem valve and an inflator needle provided in pneumatic communication with said stem valve; providing an air transfer device comprising an air hose, a first coupling provided on a first end of said air hose and a second coupling provided on a second end of said air hose; providing said first coupling of said air transfer device in pneumatic communication with the first inflatable object; providing said inflator needle of said universal inflator in pneumatic communication with the second inflatable object; providing said second coupling of said air transfer device in pneumatic communication with said stem valve of said universal inflator; and delivering the air from the first inflatable object to the second inflatable object through said first coupling, said air hose and said second coupling, respectively, of said air transfer device and said stem valve and said inflator needle, respectively, of said universal inflator.

21. The method of claim 20 wherein said providing said first coupling of said air transfer device in pneumatic communication with the first inflatable object comprises: providing a second universal inflator having a second stem valve and a second inflator needle in pneumatic communication with said second stem valve; providing said second stem valve in pneumatic communication with said first coupling of said air transfer device; and providing said second inflator needle in pneumatic communication with the first inflatable object.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

[0001] The present invention relates to air pumps and more particularly, to a universal inflator which is capable of connection to virtually any type of air pump for inflating an inflatable object such as a basketball, football or soccer ball for example. The universal inflator may include a stem valve fitted with an inflator needle for insertion through the air plug of the inflatable object. A bicycle air pump, a commercial-type air pump or virtually any other type of air pump or air transfer device may be connected to the stem valve to facilitate inflating the object.

[0002] Sports which require use of an inflatable ball, such as basketball, football, volleyball and soccer, for example, have enjoyed tremendous popularity in the United States over the years. Virtually every household includes closets in which various inflatable sports balls are stored. If a sports ball remains unused for an extended period of time, air leaks out of the typically rubber air plug in the ball, which deflates and requires an additional supply of air before it can be used again.

[0003] One type of device which can be used to inflate a sports ball includes an elongated, hollow pin which is designed for removable attachment to the coupling of a bicycle air pump. Upon insertion of the pin into the air plug of the ball, air can be pumped from the bicycle air pump into the ball through an air opening in the pinto inflate the ball. However, one of the limitations of the pin is that the air tends to flow from the ball and back through the pin to the outside of the ball during the time when the pin is inserted in the ball and air is not being pumped into the ball Furthermore, the pin is small and tends to become misplaced and difficult to locate when stored in drawers or other containers with many other objects.

[0004] Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide a universal inflator which can be used to inflate a variety of inflatable objects.

[0005] Another object of the present invention is to provide a universal inflator which can be used to inflate a variety of inflatable objects such as sports balls using virtually any type of air pump.

[0006] Still another object of the present invention is to provide a universal inflator which can be used to inflate an inflatable object wherein air is incapable of escaping from the object when the universal inflator is attached to the object.

[0007] Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a universal inflator which can be used to inflate an inflatable object using an air pump or air transfer device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] These and other objects of the invention are provided in a universal inflator which is capable of connection to virtually any type of air pump for inflating an inflatable object such as a basketball, football, volleyball or soccer ball, for example. The universal inflator may include a stem valve fitted with an inflator needle for insertion through the air plug of the inflatable object. A bicycle air pump, a commercial-type air pump or virtually any other type of air pump or air transfer device may be connected to the stem valve to facilitate inflating the object.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] The invention will be better understood, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0010] FIG. 1 is a side view of an illustrative embodiment of the universal inflator of the present invention;

[0011] FIG. 2 is a rear view of the universal inflator;

[0012] FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of the universal inflator;

[0013] FIG. 4 is a front view of the universal inflator;

[0014] FIG. 5 is an exploded side view of the universal inflator;

[0015] FIG. 6 is a side view, partially in section, of a bicycle air pump coupling, more particularly illustrating an illustrative embodiment of the universal inflator of the present invention inserted in a sports ball (in section) and the bicycle air pump coupling connected to the universal inflator in typical application of the present invention;

[0016] FIG. 7 is a side view, partially in section, of a commercial-type air pump coupling, more particularly illustrating an illustrative embodiment of the universal inflator of the present invention inserted in a sports ball (in section) and the air pump coupling connected to the universal inflator in another application of the present invention; and

[0017] FIG. 8 is a side view, partially in section, of an air transfer device, more particularly illustrating an illustrative embodiment of the universal inflator of the present invention inserted in a sports ball and one end of the air transfer device coupled to a valve stem on a pneumatic vehicle tire and the opposite end of the air transfer device coupled to the universal inflator in still another application of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

[0018] Referring initially to FIGS. 1-5 of the drawings, an illustrative embodiment of the universal inflator of the present invention is generally indicated by reference numeral 1. The universal inflator 1 typically includes an elongated, tubular housing 2, traversed by a housing interior 3. The valve body 6 of a stem valve 5 is contained in the housing interior 3, which valve body 6 contains interior operational components of the stem valve 5. A connector nipple 7 extends from the valve body 6, outside the housing interior 3 of the housing 2. The connector nipple 7 of the stem valve 5 may include multiple nipple threads 8 for connection of the connector nipple 7 to an air pump or air transfer device, as hereinafter further described. The stem valve 5 may be conventional and may include an attachment nipple 10 extending from the valve body 6, opposite the connector nipple 7. The stem valve 5 typically includes an interior stem 9 which is normally disposed in a spring-loaded extended position inside the connector nipple 7 to prevent flow of pressurized air through the valve body 6 and out of the connector nipple 7 in application of the universal inflator 1 as hereinafter described. Upon application of pressure to the stem 9, pressurized air flows through the valve body 6 and from the connector nipple 7, in conventional fashion. A connector base 14 of an inflator needle 12 is disposed in pneumatic communication with the attachment nipple 10 of the valve body 6 in the housing interior 3, as illustrated in FIG. 3, and the connector base 14 may be threadibly or otherwise fixedly or removably attached to the attachment nipple 10. Alternatively, the connector base 14 may be constructed integrally with the attachment nipple 10. An elongated, hollow inflator needle 12 extends from pneumatic communication with the connector base 14, and is fitted with an air opening 13. As illustrated in FIG. 5, the connector base 14 may include exterior threads 15 for threadibly engaging interior threads (not illustrated) in the housing 2 and securing the connector base 14 in the housing 2. Alternatively, the connector base 14 may be fixedly, integrally or otherwise removably attached to the housing 2.

[0019] It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that multiple variations of the universal inflator 1 are possible without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, the stem valve 5 may be constructed without the attachment nipple 10, in which case the connector base 14 may be fixedly, removably or integrally connected directly to the valve body 6 of the stem valve 5. The connector base 14 may be omitted, in which case the inflator needle 12 is provided in direct pneumatic communication with the attachment nipple 10. Alternatively, both the connector base 14 and the attachment nipple 10 may be omitted, in which case the inflator needle 12 is provided in direct pneumatic communication with the valve body 6. Still further in the alternative, the housing 2 may be omitted and the inflator needle 12 pneumatically attached, either fixedly, removably or integrally, to the valve body 6 of the stem valve 5, either directly or through the connector base 14, attachment nipple 10, or both of these elements. The housing 2 may be constructed of plastic or any other suitable material and may be colored to render the universal inflator 1 easier to find in a drawer with other objects, for example. Moreover, the housing 2 may have a square, hexagonal, octagonal or any other cross-sectional configuration other than the circular cross-section illustrated in the drawings.

[0020] Referring next to FIG. 6 of the drawings, in one application the universal inflator 1 of the present invention may be used in conjunction with a bicycle air pump 18 to inflate a sports ball such as a conventional basketball 23. The basketball 23 typically includes a rubber or plastic air plug 24 fitted with an air opening (not illustrated). Accordingly, the inflator needle 12 of the universal inflator 1 is initially inserted into the interior of the basketball 23 through the air plug 24 thereof, after which the coupling 19 of the bicycle air pump 18 is removably attached to the connector nipple 7 (FIG. 1) of the universal inflator 1 by pivoting a coupling handle 20 of the bicycle air pump 18 against the coupling 19, in conventional fashion. Alternatively, the coupling 19 may first be coupled to the connector nipple 7 before inserting the inflator needle 12 into the basketball 23 through the air plug 24, as desired. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the stem valve 5 prevents inadvertent flow of air under pressure from the interior of the basketball 23 through the inflator needle 12 upon initial insertion of the inflator needle 12 through the air plug 24. The bicycle air pump 18 is then operated in conventional fashion to pump air through the air hose 21 and from the coupling 19 of the bicycle air pump 18 and then through the stem valve 5 and inflator needle 12 of the universal inflator 1, to restore the desired quantity of air and air pressure inside the basketball 23. At that point, the inflator needle 12 may be removed from the air plug 24 without further escape of pressurized air from the basketball 23. Alternatively, the coupling 19 of the bicycle air pump 18 may be uncoupled from the connector nipple 7 of the universal connector 1 before the inflator needle 12 is removed from the air plug 24, in which case the stem valve 5 of the universal connector 1 prevents air under pressure inside the basketball 23 from escaping the basketball 23 through the inflator needle 12.

[0021] Referring next to FIG. 7 of the drawings, in another application the universal inflator 1 is capable of being used in conjunction with a conventional commercial-type air pump 26, having a coupling 27 connected to an air source (not illustrated) through an air hose 28. Accordingly, the inflator needle 12 of the universal inflator 1 is initially inserted into the interior of the basketball 23 through the air plug 24 thereof. The coupling 27 of the commercial air pump 26 then removably receives the connector nipple 7 (FIG. 1) of the universal inflator 1. As the coupling 27 is manually held firmly in place on the universal inflator 1, the interior components of the coupling 27 depress the stem 9 of the universal inflator 1 to establish pneumatic communication between the coupling 27 and the basketball 23 through the universal inflator 1. Simultaneously, the commercial air pump 26 automatically pumps air through the air hose 28 and from the coupling 27 of the commercial air pump 26 through the stem valve 5 and inflator needle 12, respectively, of the universal inflator 1, to restore the desired quantity of air and air pressure inside the basketball 23. The coupling 27 of the commercial air pump 26 is then removed from the connector nipple 7 of the universal connector 1, after which the inflator needle 12 is removed from the air plug 24.

[0022] Referring next to FIG. 8 of the drawings, in still another application the universal inflator 1 can be used in conjunction with an air transfer device 30, such as AIR SHARE (trademark), to transfer air from a pneumatic tire 36 on one of the wheels 35 of a vehicle 34, which may be an automobile, as illustrated, or a bicycle or motorcycle, in non-exclusive particular. The air transfer device 30 typically includes a first coupling 31 and a second coupling 32, provided on opposite ends of an elongated air hose 33. The first coupling 31 and second coupling 32 may be any type of coupling capable of engaging a valve 37 on a pneumatic vehicle tire 36. Accordingly, the inflator needle 12 of the universal inflator 1 is inserted into the interior of the basketball 23 through the air plug 24 (FIG. 7) thereof. The second coupling 32 of the air transfer device 30 removably receives the valve 37 of the pneumatic tire 36, and the first coupling 31 of the air transfer device 30 removably receives the connector nipple 7 (FIG. 1) of the universal inflator 1. Consequently, air flows under pressure from the tire 36 through the valve 37 thereof and through the second coupling 32, air hose 33 and first coupling 31, respectively, of the air transfer device 30, and finally, into the basketball 23 through the universal inflator 1. The first coupling 31 of the air transfer device 30 remains on the universal inflator 1 until the desired quantity of air has been transferred from the tire 36 to the basketball 23, after which the first coupling 31 is removed from the universal inflator 1, the universal inflator 1 is removed from the basketball 23 and the second coupling 32 is removed from the valve 37 of the tire 36. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that air can be transferred from one sports ball such as the basketball 23 to another sports ball such as a football (not illustrated), as desired, by attaching a universal inflator 1 to the first coupling 31 of the air transfer device 30 and attaching that universal inflator 1 to one of the sports balls, and attaching a second universal inflator 1 to the second coupling 32 of the air transfer device 30 and attaching the second universal inflator 1 to the other sports ball. In that case, air flows from the sports ball having the greater interior air pressure to the sports ball having the smaller interior air pressure.

[0023] While the preferred embodiments of the invention have been described above, it will be recognized and understood that various modifications can be made in the invention and the appended claims are intended to cover all such modifications which may fall within the spirit and scope of the invention.