Title:
Sheath for integrating sewer hose and TV cable
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A novel tubular rubber-like non-corrosive sheath, which may be wound on a reel of a mobile sewer cleaning and inspection machine for entry into a sewer line, which encapsulates or joins together a length of jet hose and a length of television cable for a television camera. The invention also includes a novel skid mounting a television camera at the end of a sheath, which carries a television camera, and which in arranged in a position to permit fluid exiting the jet hose to propel the skid in a sewer line.



Inventors:
O'brien, Daniel J. (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/394908
Publication Date:
10/02/2003
Filing Date:
03/20/2003
Assignee:
O'BRIEN DANIEL J.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03F9/00; F16L11/127; F16L11/22; H01B7/00; H04N7/18; (IPC1-7): A47L5/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUSBAND, SARAH E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP (Mke) (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A tubular structure which is capable of being wound on and unwound from a reel on a mobile sewer cleaning and inspection machine, said structure comprising a sheath of rubber-like material, a length of jet hose, and a length of television cable, said hose and cable being encapsulated within said sheath.

2. The tubular structure recited in claim 1, wherein said sheath is non-corrosive.

3. The tubular structure recited in claim 1, wherein said sheath has a smooth skin.

4. The tubular structure recited in claim 1, wherein said sheath jet hose and television cable are integral.

5. The tubular structure recited in claim 1, wherein said sheath is wider than it is high.

6. The tubular structure recited in claim 1, wherein all sides of said sheath are flat.

7. The tubular structure recited in claim 6, wherein the edges of said sheath are chamfered.

8. The tubular structure recited in claim 1, wherein said reel has a hub on which said length is wound.

9. The tubular structure recited in claim 8, wherein an end of said television cable exits from said reel through said hub.

10. The tubular structure recited in claim 9, wherein said end is connected to a television monitor.

11. The tubular structure recited in claim 8, wherein said reel is mounted on a frame arranged on said machine, said television monitor being secured on said frame.

12. The tubular structure recited in claim 1, wherein said machine has a reservoir containing fluid in flow communication with said jet hose.

13. The tubular structure recited in claim 12, wherein said reel is mounted on a frame arranged on said machine and controls for said fluid flow through said jet hose are carried by said frame.

14. The tubular structure recited in claim 1, wherein said sheath is repairable with liquid polymer adapted for setting up in the field when the sheath become damaged.

15. A mobile sewer cleaning and inspection machine having a rotatable reel which is manipulable to wind or unwind a flexible non-corrosive length of line, said length of line adapted for entry into a sewer and comprising a length of television cable and a length of jet hose for pressurized fluid, said lengths being joined together and manipulable into and from said sewer upon rotation of said reel.

16. The machine recited in claim 15, wherein said machine has controls for rotating said reel, for operating television equipment connected to said television cable and for delivering pressurized fluid to said jet hose.

17. The machine recited in claim 16, wherein said machine has a frame for carrying said reel and said controls.

18. The machine recited in claim 17, wherein said controls are operable from said frame.

19. The machine recited in claim 16, wherein said television control are operable separately from said jet hose controls.

20. The machine recited in claim is, wherein said sheath is bendable and smooth and adapted to freely enter one of multiple branches in said sewer without interference.

21. The machine recited in claim 15, wherein said sheath may be opened at an intermediate point along its length to access said television cable, said television cable being adaptable for connection of television camera at said intermediate point.

22. The machine recited in claim 15, wherein said sheath is biased to roll on said reel.

23. The machine recited in claim 15, wherein more than one jet hose is mounted on said reel.

24. The machine recited in claim 15, wherein said reel has side plates for containing said sheath.

25. The machine recited in claim 24, wherein said reel has a central hub and said side plates are carried by said hub.

26. The machine recited in claim 25, wherein said television cable and said jet hose exit said reel through said hub.

27. The machine recited in claim 15, wherein said sheath is coated with slick material permitting it to slide in a sewer.

28. The machine recited in claim 27, wherein said slick material comprises a silicone solution.

29. The machine recited in claim 15, wherein said lengths of television cable and jet hose are wound and unwound together upon rotation of said reel.

30. A mobile sewer cleaning and inspection machine having a rotatable reel which is manipulable to wind or unwind a length of line, said length of line comprising a flexible non-corrosive sheath adapted for entry into a sewer, said sheath encapsulating a length of television cable, and a length of jet hose for pressurized fluid which is manipulable into and from said sewer upon rotation of said reel, and a skid at one end of said length of television cable, said skid having connections for said television cable and a frame for holding a television camera, said skid having means for moving said television camera in said sewer.

31. The machine recited in claim 30, wherein said means for moving said television camera is a pressurized fluid line adapted to propel the skid into the sewer line.

32. The machine recited in claim 30, wherein said skid has wheels adapted to span said sewer.

Description:

PRIORITY INFORMATION

[0001] This application claims benefit of priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/368,054, filed Mar. 27, 2002.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates to a sheath for integrating sewer hose and television (TV) cable lines for sewer cleaning and inspection, and is more particularly directed to such a sheath which can encapsulate both a jet hose and a TV camera cable useful in detecting a blockage, and cleaning a clogged sewer from a mobile truck or trailer sewer cleaning machine.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Mobile truck and trailer sewer cleaning machines have become popular for use by municipalities and others. These machines include pumping mechanism connecting a fluid supply for delivering water and other fluids under jet pressure through one or more hoses wound on a reel. The hose may be wound onto or unwound from the reel to thread the hose into or withdraw it from a sewer line. This hose may have, connected to its remote end, a variety of cutting implements useful in clearing clogged sewer lines. It has also become important to provide means for viewing the interior of the sewer line as the jet hose travels through it. The viewing means is typically a TV camera carried by a skid on the remote end of the hose line, and a cable which may be extended into the sewer line as the hose is advanced. These actions are preferably managed from a control panel on the sewer cleaning machine. Typical jet sewer cleaning machines usable in these procedures are shown in O'Brien et al U.S. Pat. No. 5,636,648, Prange U.S. Pat. No. 4,838,302, and Schmidt Jr. et al U.S. Pat. No. 4,896,686.

[0004] The TV camera in such an operation is often used to locate trouble in the sewer line, such as a clogged location or a broken and misaligned sewer pipe. Usually, the hose is used to force the camera carrier through the sewer line by fluid jet pressure. Sometimes, in doing so, it is necessary to cleanse the sewer line of caked mud or vegetation in order to view a suspected trouble spot. The jet fluid hose and the TV cable are usually introduced into the sewer line in tandem. In conventional systems, the TV cable and the jet hose are usually separate and are fed into the sewer separately—but sometime side by side. In such a maneuver, the operator must be particularly careful not to tangle the TV cable and jet hose lines, which are payed out remote from the operator's location and are very difficult to untangle. The effort to untangle them may result in substantial risk to the equipment and personnel when such a tangle of the cable and hose lines occurs. Usually, this effort in feeding the jet hose and TV cable lines requires substantial skill on the part of the operator who must synchronize the entries and movements of the lines. To minimize such a problem, the operator may feed the TV cable and the jet hose lines into the sewer separately and to a selected point, one line at a time. Such an action may at least double the time required to locate and cleanse a clogged area, particularly where the sewer line is uneven or clogged with debris or vegetation.

[0005] In the prior art, others have attempted to secure the TV camera to an end of the jet hose line. For example, see Van Norman U.S. Pat. No. 4,107,738 and McLeod et at U.S. Pat. No. 6,111,600. However, in these arrangements, there still is the probability that the TV cable line and the jet hose line will be snagged on a root or broken pipe, or turn relative to one another and thus create a tangle of the lines which is difficult to remove. Others have tried to join the TV cable line and the jet hose line within a metallic coil spring arrangement, as in Irwin U.S. Pat. No. 5,996,159. However, such springs have been found inadequately flexible and too stiff to make all the necessary turns in a sewer line. Accordingly, they require a beefed up mechanism including a special swivel assembly or the like to drive and manipulate them. Additionally, if a coil of such a spring becomes hung up in the sewer line or broken out, there is a danger that the jet hose or the TV cable line or camera will be damaged, and become inoperable. There is also the danger that the coil spring will not pay out smoothly, and may hang up on its feed mechanism, or that the metallic line will become corroded, oxidized or inoperable. There may also be a problem where the metallic coil spring is conductive, and has the capacity to damage or short out the cable line if it contacts an open circuit.

[0006] Normally, when the TV cable and jet hose lines are separate, they terminate at the machine separately, too. Thus, the operator is often required to view two control areas, one for the TV cable monitor and another for the jet hose, sometimes requiring added personnel to adequately supervise the inspection and cleansing jobs, and increasing the cost of the cleaning and inspection job. Additionally, in cold or stormy weather, the operator faces an uncomfortable task of threading out or winding in the line for a longer time under difficult circumstances.

SUMMARY, OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention provides a rubber-like, non-corrosive, non-metallic, smooth-skin sheath, which may be integral with and encapsulates both the jet hose and TV cable lines. In an embodiment, such a sheath is fabricated from tough, flexible rubber or plastic polymers, to protect both the jet hose and TV cable lines, and to keep them separated. The sheath, with the jet hose and TV cable lines enclosed therein, is wound on a typical reel of a sewer jet cleaning machine. At the hub of the reel, there may be exit connections for both the TV cable and jet hose lines. The termination of the TV cable line will connect to a TV monitor and controls, and the termination of the jet hose line will connect to a fluid supply and pump unit for delivering fluid through that line under pressure. In another embodiment, the sheath is coated with a silicone material to make it slick to slide easily in the sewer line, so the sheath can travel through the sewer line under the least possible resistance. The forward end of the jet hose line may have connected to it a root cutter or other tool, which may be manipulated by water pressure or other means. The forward end of the TV cable will be connected to a TV camera, usually fit with a lamp. These implements may be connected conventionally to the jet hose and TV cable line, respectively.

[0008] The sheath can have many cross-sectional configurations, including circle, oval, square, etc. In one embodiment, the sheath has a cross section which is wider than it is high, has chamfered edges, and is biased to roll on the reel, so that it will pay out without damage to the TV cable or jet hose lines, and will lay flat on the sewer line and properly wind up, without hanging up in the sewer or on the reel. Also, the sheath is solid and dense, to protect the enclosed lines. Because of the juxtaposition of the lines, the control panel may contain controls for the jet hose and the TV cable, thus controlling pay-out, fluid pressure, reel operation, and other operations for the jet hose, as well as viewing of the monitor necessary to see the interior and condition of the sewer line.

[0009] Where it is desirable to provide a jet hose line separate from the sheathed integrated jet hose and TV cable lines, in order to provide another jet cleaning source, which may be of another size (to accommodate a larger or smaller sewer line), or to cleanse the line in advance of or after TV surveillance of the sewer line, another hose reel and hose can be mounted on the same reel axle and separately controlled.

[0010] The arrangement of the sheath in the present invention also permits connection of the TV camera to the TV cable line other than at the end of the jet hose, by merely connecting to the TV cable line at an intermediate point with conventional connection members. Thus, the TV camera does not necessarily have to pay-out at the same point as the jet stream is delivered in the sewer line.

[0011] Additionally, if the sheath become cut or damaged, it can be inserted into a repair fixture, where rubber-like polymer material can be poured into the fixture to bind the sheath, and set up to repair the sheath. Such a fixture will have the configuration of the sheath exterior. Many conventional plastic polymers can be used in making such a repair, for example polyurethane or other conventional cold curing polymers.

[0012] This invention provides a sheath for integrating sewer hose and TV cable of the character described herein. It also provides a unitary sewer hose and TV cable. One embodiment provides a sheath for integrating sewer hose and TV cable which is dense and flexible. Another embodiment provides a sheath for integrating sewer hose and TV cable which has a cross-section wider than it is high, and is adapted for unwinding on a hose reel of a mobile sewer cleaning machine to enter a sewer line, and for winding on the hose reel for removing it from the sewer line. A further embodiment provides a sheathed integrated sewer hose and TV cable arrangement which can accommodate one or more additional hose lines on the same or a related reel axle. A further embodiment provides a smooth skin non-corrosive, non-conductive rubber-like sheath which can integrally encapsulate a jet hose and TV cable for the purposes described herein. Another embodiment provides a sheath integrating jet hose and TV cable lines which is easy to repair without disassembling the sheath and lines from the reel or machine. Another embodiment provides a sheathed integrated sewer hose and TV cable arrangement which is easy, inexpensive, efficient and effective to manufacture, and which is simple and efficient and expedient in use.

[0013] These and other objects and advantages will become more apparent as this description proceeds, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a typical mobile trailer sewer cleaning machine having a sheathed integrated jet hose and TV cable lines and controls.

[0015] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a reel upon which is wound a sheathed integrated jet hose and TV cable lines embodying the invention, and control panels for the jet hose and TV cable lines.

[0016] FIG. 3 is a longitudinal view of a length of the sheathed integrated jet hose and TV cable lines, partially broken away in section.

[0017] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the sheathed integrated jet hose and TV cable lines taken on line 4-4 of FIG. 3.

[0018] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the exiting line of TV cable terminating at a reel hub and entering and connected to a TV monitor assembly.

[0019] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternative arrangement of the mobile trailer sewer cleaning machine having two reels, one of which may have a hose carrying a TV camera and the other used for providing pressurize water for cleaning the sewer.

[0020] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a skid carrying a TV camera and connected to the novel hose sheath embodying the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0021] The invention is described by the following illustrations. It should be recognized that variations based on the inventive features disclosed herein are within the skill of the ordinary artisan, and that the scope of the invention should not be limited by the examples. To properly determine the scope of the invention, an interested party should consider the claims herein, and any equivalent thereof. In addition, all citations herein are incorporated by reference.

[0022] As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, a typical jet hose sewer cleaning machine consists of a trailer body 10 on which may be mounted a reel 11 carried by a frame 12 having wound thereon a length of a tubular structure or line comprising an outer sheath 13 which encapsulates a fluid jet hose 33 and TV cable 34. The reel frame 12 may be carried by a telescoping platform 14, and may include a jet hose control panel 15, having instruments such as an ignition switch 16, choke 17, throttle 18, tachometer 19, oil pressure gauge, voltmeter, water temperature gauge, circuit breaker, and possibly other instruments. Another control panel 24, which may also be mounted on the reel frame 12, is provided for the TV cable and monitor, which may comprise TV and monitor switches 25 and 26, respectively, and a TV monitor screen 27, as well as conventional TV controls 28, all of which are available for viewing by a single operator located at the control panels. This reel-frame assembly 11-12 of the trailer 10 may have control handles 29 and 30 for the jet hose and TV cable mechanism, respectively. A fluid line 31 enters the interior of the trailer 10 connecting the jet hose through a high pressure pump to a source of fluid (not shown).

[0023] When in operation, the trailer 10, with its warning beacon 32 operating, is positioned over a sewer manhole M and the reel 11 is rotated in the frame 12 to thread the sheath 13 into the manhole of a sewer S and into a selected one of several sewer lines L. Should the operator wish to use a stream of fluid from the hose jet or operate the TV camera, he may do so, using the features of the invention hereinafter described.

[0024] The sheath 13 wound on the reel contains integrally therein a length of heavy duty jet hose 33 and a TV cable 34 line. In an embodiment, this sheath 13 is fabricated from heavy, dense rubber-like plastic and may be coated with a silicone material to make it slick. In another embodiment, the sheath 13 is oriented so that its width 35 is greater than its height 36, thus making it biased to a flat position in the sewer line L. In a preferred embodiment, the sheath 13 has chamfered edges 37, so that it will not hang up on obstacles, such as a broken sewer pipe or tree root or other obstacle, in the sewer line L. A conventional TV camera 60 (see FIG. 7) is connected to the end of the TV cable line 34 at the end of the sheath 13, or at any point along its length, by merely cutting the wall of the sheath to gain access to the TV cable.

[0025] The reel 11 may be constructed with movable side plates 38a and 38b, or there may be more than one reel mounted on the frame, such as additional reel 42 (see FIG. 6), so that they may be in position to accommodate more than one length of hose, perhaps of different sizes, or another sheath 13. In FIG. 2 the reel plates 38a and 38b may be spaced apart to accept a length of jet sewer cleaning hose (not shown). These plates 38 connect to a reel hub 39 (FIG. 5), though which connections may be made to the fluid lines (not shown) or to a TV monitor 27 which may be mounted on the control panel 24 or elsewhere on the machine. The TV cable line 34 may exit the reel hub 39 and terminate in the control panel 24, as shown in FIG. 5.

[0026] As shown in FIG. 6, an alternative trailer 40 may include the novel sheath 13 and its associated reel 11 previously described in association with a typical water hose 41 and its associated reel 42, in situations where it is desired to deliver a large volume of jet pressured water to the target sewer or if sewer cleaning is to proceed without monitoring by a described TV camera arrangement.

[0027] An embodiment with a TV camera skid 50 is shown in FIG. 7. A preferred embodiment of this skid 50 has multiple wheels 51 which span the sewer line, making it easy to maneuver the TV camera 60 through the sewer line. This TV camera 60 is supported on a frame 52, which carries the wheels 51, and has a tube 53 for mounting the TV camera. The frame 52 also has connections for receiving the fluid line 33 and the TV cable line 34 when they exit the sheath adjacent the TV camera 60. Jet fluid exiting from the fluid line 33 propels the skid 50 forward in the sewer line.

[0028] Should the sheath 13 be damaged from cuts, wear or otherwise, it can be repaired by merely placing the damaged areas within a fixture approximating the exterior width and height dimensions of the sheath and pouring a liquid polymer into the fixture to set up and bind with the damaged sheath, thus making the sheath useful again.

[0029] The sheath may consist of a length of jet hose 33 and a length of television cable 34 appropriately joined together by fusing or other means so that they may be wound and unwound from and upon rotation of a single rotationable reel 11, as to prevent the lengths from being tangled with one another during their entry and manipulation into and removal from a sewer line.

[0030] While a preferred embodiment of the invention has been shown and described in considerable detail, it should be understood that the structural elements of the invention may be varied, and it is not desired that the invention should be limited to the exact structure described.