Title:
Inflatable multi-wall multi-cell spheroidal shell life raft
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention is an air-inflatable multi-wall multi-cell spheroidal-shell life raft that forms a shelter for occupants and that includes removable window covers to allow cross ventilation when desired and that is constructed of one or more air-or-gas-inflatable cells and/or air-or-gas-inflatable panels and contains an internal water-inflatable ballast tank located below an air-or-gas-inflated multi-cell floor cushion centered in the lowest point of the spheroidal shell thus providing the tank with the lowest center of gravity available within the shell. Key features new to the art are the inflatable spheroidal shape of the shell that forms the shelter enclosure, the water-inflatable internal ballast tank and the relationship of the shell to the ballast tank that insures that the raft will not capsize when occupants and their belongings are equally distributed within the raft.



Inventors:
Warriner, Gerald E. (West Melbourne, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/212521
Publication Date:
02/05/2004
Filing Date:
08/05/2002
Assignee:
WARRINER GERALD E.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
441/38, 441/40
International Classes:
B63B1/04; B63C9/06; (IPC1-7): B63B35/58
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BASINGER, SHERMAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GERALD E. WARRINER (West Melbourne, FL, US)
Claims:

I claim as my invention;



1. An air-or-gas-inflatable multi-wall multi-cell spheroidal-shell life raft consisting of air-or-gas-inflated cells and/or air-or-gas-inflated panels joined together to create a spheroidal exterior shell that encloses an interior space thereby providing shelter for one or more occupants and thereby protecting them from exposure to the elements such as hot or cold air, excessive sunshine and glare, high winds, rough waves and/or heavy precipitation. (Key word: ‘spheroidal’, meaning any of an unlimited number of geometric shapes that enclose a volume, such as a sphere shaped like a ping pong ball, a spheroid shaped like an egg or an elliptical spheroid such as a capsule.) (Key phrase: ‘air-or-gas-inflatable multi-wall multi-cell spheroidal shell’)

2. A life raft as claimed in claim 1 wherein the inflatable multi-wall multi-cell shell contains cells that have mechanical ties and separators and/or internal baffles that are secured to the opposing shell walls to separate and/or hold the cell walls and panel walls in place thereby providing air-or-gas-inflatable chambers.

3. A life raft as claimed in claim 1 wherein the inflatable multi-wall multi-cell shell is constructed from injection molded cells and/or panels.

4. A life raft as claimed in claims 1, 2 or 3 wherein there is included a water-inflatable internal ballast tank located and centered in the lowest point within the spheroidal shell thus providing the tank with the lowest center of gravity available within the shell. (Key word: ‘internal’) (Key phrase: ‘water-inflatable internal ballast tank’)

5. A life raft as claimed in claims 1 through 4 wherein the shell wall and the internal ballast act simultaneously in conjunction with each other to create a life raft with spheroidal buoyancy above and below the waterline and internal water-ballast below the waterline thereby rendering the raft incapable of excessive rolling, tipping and/or capsizing when the occupants and their belongings are equally distributed within the life raft. (Key word: ‘simultaneously’) (Key phrase: ‘act simultaneously in conjunction with each other’)

6. A life raft as claimed in claims 1 through 5 wherein is included sequential inflation that is begun manually by triggering inflation of the upper shell, the floor cushion, the lower shell and the ballast tank in that order and whereby completion of each sequence triggers the next sequence by dislodging a pin in an inflation device common to the inflatable raft industry. Inflation of the lower shell produces a vacuum in the ballast tank and that vacuum draws water into the tank through a one-way bladder valve. (In this instance, the raft would be inflated on the water's surface.

7. A life raft as claimed in claims 1 through 6 wherein is included a pump, manual or electric with battery or manual generator that will provide air inflation for buoyancy for inflatable cells and panels and/or a vacuum to draw in additional water into the ballast tank.

8. A life raft as claimed in claims 1 through 7 wherein multiple looped straps located around the top-cap opening are connected to allow a crane to lift the raft from a vessel's deck or other platform and place it on the water's surface. (In this instance, the ballast would be filled only with air until the raft is placed upon the water where the ballast may be filled with water.)

9. A life raft as claimed in claims 1 through 8 wherein seatbelts are installed for use in inclement weather.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELVPMENT

[0002] Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LIST, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISC APPENDIX

[0003] Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The patent class definition for rafts is class 441/35 and there are 112 patents listed on the USPTO website under that classification, none of which addresses the claims under this application.

[0005] There are 76 patents listed under subclass 441/38 “With shelter” that falls under class 441/35, but U.S. Pat. No. 4,001,905 (expired, 1994) is the only one that contains a claim that is somewhat similar to claim 1 of this application. U.S. Pat. No. 4,001,905 contains a “hemispherical” dome-like enclosure whereas this application contains a “spheroidal” globe-like enclosure, the difference being a half-sphere enclosure vs. a full-sphere enclosure.

[0006] The field of endeavor to which the invention submitted in this application pertains is best described as relating to U.S. Patent Classifications 441/35 “Raft”, 441/38 “With shelter” and 441/40 “Inflatable”.

[0007] The invention related to this application has an inflatable multi-wall multi-cell spheroidal shell that forms an enclosed shelter and an internal water-inflatable ballast tank that work in conjunction with each other to render the raft incapable of capsizing.

[0008] Prior art, as evidenced by the below-listed patents, does not claim an inflatable multi-wall multi-cell spheroidal shell shelter or an internal water-inflatable ballast tank.

[0009] Referenced patents are; U.S. Pat. No. 6,325,688, U.S. Pat. No. 5,919,068, U.S. Pat. No. 5,800,225, U.S. Pat. No. 5,733,158, U.S. Pat. No. 5,927,258, U.S. Pat. No. 4,890,569, U.S. Pat. No. 3,058,127, U.S. Pat. No. 3,092,854 and U.S. Pat. No. 4,998,900.

[0010] Patent U.S. Pat. No. 5,927,228 is classified U.S. 114/345 and 441/40.

[0011] Patent U.S. Pat. No. 4,890,569 is classified U.S. 114/349, 114/125, 441/37 and D12/316.

[0012] All other patents listed are classified U.S. 441/38 with various other sub-classes and all are inflatable and use tarpaulins as shelter except U.S. Pat. No. 4,890,569 that has a semi-rigid canopy.

[0013] All of the above-listed rafts are subject to excessive rolling, tipping and/or capsizing thereby promoting possible injuries and death to occupants

[0014] Tarpaulins used as shelter provide little insulation against extremely cold weather and they are subject to damage caused by high winds and heavy seas.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0015] The invention is an air-inflatable multi-wall multi-cell spheroidal shell life raft that is constructed of one or more inflatable cells and/or inflatable panels that form an enclosed air-insulated shelter for occupants. Perimeter windows with removable covers allow cross ventilation when desired and the raft contains an internal water-inflatable ballast tank that enhances stability.

[0016] Key features are the air inflatable spheroidal shape of the shell, the water-inflatable internal ballast tank and the relationship of the shell to the ballast tank.

[0017] Unlike prior art, the raft resists rolling and tipping and will not capsize when occupants and their belongings are equally distributed within the enclosure. Rolling, tipping and capsizing has caused injuries and deaths in the past and this new art resists such occurrences.

[0018] Also unlike prior art, the air space in the multi-wall of the spheroidal shell provides enhanced insulation against extremely cold weather. Prior art that uses tarpaulins as shelters does not sufficiently protect occupants from extreme cold weather.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] Two drawings, FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, are included in these specifications of this Non-provisional Patent Application.

[0020] FIG. 1 is a plan view of the raft from above that shows the horizontal perimeter shell wall, the locations of windows that penetrate the wall and act as access and egress portals, the circular floor cushion and the internal ballast (dotted line) that is centered beneath the floor cushion of the raft,

[0021] FIG. 2 is a vertical cross section view from the side of the raft that shows the vertical perimeter shell wall, the locations of windows that penetrate the wall and act as access and egress portals, the floor cushion and the internal ballast that is centered beneath the floor cushion of the raft,

[0022] The drawings illustrate that the invention relating to this application is comprised of an air-or-gas-inflated multi-wall, multi-cell and/or multi-panel spheroidal shell 1, with mechanical ties and separators 2, panel joints 3, and with window openings 4; air-or-gas-inflated multi-cell removable window covers 5; an internal water-inflated ballast tank 6 &7; an air-or-gas-inflated multi-cell floor cushion 8; and an air-or-gas-inflated multi-cell top-hatch 9; all of which are constructed and/or manufactured by hand and/or by machines utilizing methods and materials that are normal to the production of air-or-gas-inflated rafts that are classified by the United States Patent and Trademark Office as Class 441/35 “Rafts” and 441/40 “Inflated”. Miscellaneous items and accessories normal to raft construction may be installed, but they are not listed, as they are not pertinent to this application.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0023] Prior art inflatable rafts rely on tubular floatation elements that provide buoyancy to support raft occupants and their belongings, tarpaulin canopies to provide limited protection from the elements and suspended weights and/or sacks as ballast to provide limited stability.

[0024] Absolute proof that prior art is woefully inadequate to perform the functions required to protect raft occupants from possible injuries and/or death lies in the fact that a significant percentage of inflatable rafts, referred to as ‘self-righting’ and/or ‘reversible’, are designed in expectancy of capsizing. Rolling, tipping and capsizing causes occupants and their belongings to be thrown about the raft thereby resulting in collisions that produce injuries and some times deaths.

[0025] The new art of this invention essentially solves the problems associated with prior art by utilizing inflatable multi-wall and multi-cell technology in the form of a buoyant spheroidal shell that is efficiently positioned to work in conjunction with an internal water-inflatable ballast tank that is also efficiently positioned to insure elimination of the possibility of capsizing. This symbiotic relationship works in the following manner.

[0026] When a force such as that produced by winds or waves is applied to the exterior surface of the raft, three events take place;

[0027] 1) The effects of wind and/or water forces are dispersed and therefore reduced because of the spheroidal shape of the raft;

[0028] 2) The increased buoyancy of the inflated upper shell acts as a fulcrum about the center of the raft to hold the top of the raft up; and

[0029] 3) The water-inflated ballast tank acts as a fulcrum about the center of the raft to hold the bottom of the raft down.

[0030] Additionally, the shell enclosure provides an air-insulated shelter that protects the raft's occupants from exposure to the elements such as hot or cold air, excessive sunshine and glare, high winds, rough waves and/or heavy precipitation. Perimeter windows with removable covers allow cross ventilation when desired and the inflation of the raft is begun manually to trigger sequential inflation of the upper shell, the floor cushion, the lower shell and the ballast tank in that order.