Underwater cleaning and scrubbing apparatus
Kind Code:

A motor drives both a scrubbing brush and a propeller. Both rotate usually on the same shaft. The brush rotates against a surface to be cleaned and the propeller provides a thrust of the brush towards the surface. There is ample motion for scrubbing and cleaning combined with force to hold the brush firmly against the surface. A mechanically generated force against the surface is needed to remove debris, and when working underwater, such as against a boat hull, it is difficult to provide the force, since there is no ground on which to stand. The motor is electrical, or is pneumatic or hydraulic, with power brought in via flexible tubes, or power may come via flexible shaft. Manual controls may be underwater mounted on the unit or may transmit commands by electrical or radio signals to the above water power source.

Walton, Charles A. (Los Gatos, CA, US)
Application Number:
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International Classes:
B63B59/10; (IPC1-7): E04H4/16
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Charles A. Walton (Los Gatos, CA, US)

I claim:

1. An underwater cleaning apparatus comprising a motor driven brush, and a motorized propeller, said brush having cleaning capabilities against an underwater surface, and said propeller providing thrust of the brush against the underwater surface.

2. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 1 in which said motor is an underwater electric motor.

3. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 1 in which said motor is a hydraulic motor.

4. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 1 in which said motor is a pneumatic motor.

5. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 1 in which the said motor drives a gear box, at one end of which is mounted said propeller, an at the other end is the said brush, thus allowing the propeller and the brush to run at different revolutions per minute

6. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 1 in which said apparatus is supported by a handle which allows operation from above water and movement of the apparatus to various positions on the surface to be cleaned.

7. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 1 in which said brush may be abrasive for optimum cleaning of the said surface.

8. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 1 in which the operator has available a control unit which signals to the motor what speed and power are to be used.

9. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 8 in which the said control unit uses a wire connect link between the operator and the motor speed control unit.

10. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 8 in which the said control unit uses a radio frequency link between operator and the said motor control unit.

11. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 1 in which the said brush reciprocates rather than rotates.

12. An underwater cleaning apparatus as in claim 2 in which the said electric motor is operated from a battery mounted on the said motor.



[0001] Underwater surfaces pick up a variety of undesired plant and animal growths, including barnacles. These growths slow down a boat, obscure viewing through aquarium windows, and cause water pollution.

[0002] Cleaning is most typically by mechanical scrubbing. Pressure against the surface plus scrubbing motion is needed. Pressure against an underwater surface is sometime difficult because there is no convenient floor to push against. Pushing from the dock side is awkward and is necessarily done at the adverse end of a long lever arm.

[0003] There have been many efforts to make easy underwater cleaning of boats, and cleaning of aquarium walls. Some have put brushes on long handles, with a bend in the handle to adapt to boat hull curvature. Other efforts have been to use a flow of water through an impeller connected to a rotating brush under water. This provides some of the necessary scrubbing action. There is still a problem of applying adequate pressure. There is a system in which the water squirts or jets away from the surface, applying pressure towards the surface. One problem with this jet system is that, as the brush is moved to lower depths, perhaps four to ten feet down, the ambient water pressure increases, and there is back pressure, so that the brush rotates more slowly and the reactive water flow squirt pressure is reduced, frequently rendering the system unsatisfactory. Another way to get pressure towards the surface is to use venturi suction against the surface, but this is also unsatisfactory owing to the back pressure increasing with depth.


[0004] 1. application Ser. No. 09/659,407 by Charles Walton, for pond surfaces cleaning.

[0005] 2. Patent references:

[0006] There were 19 patents associated with the above application.

[0007] Many show a rotating brush. None show a propeller system to provide pressure to bring together the surface and the rotating or moving brush.


[0008] The subject system cleans underwater objects such as the bottoms of boats and the sides of aquariums. There is a rotating brush, powered by a motor. There is also a rotating propeller, which pushes the brush against the side of the boat. The push of the propeller is needed because the operator often does not have a surface against which to push.

[0009] A motor drives both a scrubbing brush and a propeller. Both may rotate on the same shaft, or there may be an intervening gear box to optimize the relative speeds of the two. The brush rotates against the surface to be cleaned and the propeller provides a thrust of the brush towards the surface. Force against the surface is needed because when working underwater, such as against a boat hull, there is no ground from which to push. Tilting the apparatus slightly allows travel up or down or sideways against the surface. The motor may be mounted directly on the brush or propeller shaft, or the motor may be mounted elsewhere and a drive shaft, rigid or flexible, brought from the motor to the working brush and propeller.

[0010] The motor in one form is electrical and capable of operating under water. It may be of the type used for electric propulsion of small boats for fishing when doing what is known as trolling. The motor uses a safe low voltage, 12 volts or 24, so there is no shock hazard.

[0011] The motor may be deck mounted and drive through a flexible shaft. The motor may be powered by air, or powered by hydraulics. In a convenient form, it is powered from a battery attached to the motor. An operator using the equipment underwater controls the motor brush and propeller speed through controls on the motor assembly, or by communication by either wire or radio to the above water power source. The motion of the cleaning brush may be rotary, or may be linear, with a reciprocating motion.


[0012] FIG. 1 shows an electric motor, the brush, and the propeller, cooperating to press a moving brush against the surface to be cleaned. A remote motor control is shown.

[0013] FIG. 2 shows the brush and propeller driven through an hydraulic motor.

[0014] FIG. 3 shows the brush and propeller driven by a pneumatic motor.

[0015] FIG. 4 shows the brush and propeller driven from a flexible shaft from an above water level motor.

[0016] FIG. 5 shows the brush and propeller driven by a battery operated electric motor.

[0017] FIG. 6 shows a system for oscillating, not rotating, the brush, in side view.

[0018] FIG. 7 shows the oscillating system, in plan view

[0019] FIG. 8 show the propeller and scrubbing brush mounted at the same end of the motor.


[0020] Refer to FIG. 1. An overall assembly 10 is shown. There is one external item, the surface 11 to be cleaned. There is a motor 12, with output shaft 14 at one end and output shaft 15 at the other end. Shaft 15 drives a gear box 16 with an output shaft 18. Shaft 18 drives rotating brush frame 20. Mounted on the brush frame are bristles 22. When in use, bristles 22 are brought against surface 11 to remote unwanted material 24 and thus accomplish scrubbing and cleaning.

[0021] At the periphery of the brush there are two special notations or conventions. The circle with a dot in the middle represents an arrow with the point approaching us, and the circle with a cross in the middle represents an arrow with the feather end leaving us. The two together give us the direction of rotation of the brush.

[0022] The bristles 22, also referred to as the abrasive coating, remove from the surface 11 the unwanted material 24. The bristles 22 are chosen firm enough to remove the unwanted material 24 yet soft enough to not scratch or damage the surface 11.

[0023] Connected to the shaft 14 is a propeller 26. As the shaft rotates, the propeller develops thrust 27. This thrust 27 pushes the assembly against the surface 11. The operator is not given the burden of providing thrust. There is an optional protection guard 28 and 28B in the form of a short cylinder. Guard 28 also improves the water flow lines.

[0024] The assembly 10 is mounted on a supporting handle 30. Within handle 30 are power supply wires 31 to the motor 12 from power supply unit 40. The power flow to motor 12 may be controlled by local buttons on unit 10, not shown. Power flow may be controlled by wire linkage, not shown, to source 40 or controlled from radio 42 and antenna 44 and antenna 46 and power control unit 48. Power source 40 may be a DC supply deriving power from the mains or may be a storage battery.

[0025] The motor 12 may be of the type used in trolling, or of the type used in battery operated electric drills If the latter, a water proof housing is provided.

[0026] Refer next to FIG. 2. This implementation of system 10 uses a hydraulic motor 52 rather than an electric motor 12. The power supply is a hydraulic pump 42, feeding over tubes 32 to hydraulic motor 52. All else is the same as for FIG. 1.

[0027] FIG. 3 shows a pneumatic motor 62 version of the system 10. The power source 44 is a pneumatic pump, feeding through tubes 34 to pneumatic motor 62

[0028] FIG. 4 show another means for getting power to the underwater scrubbing system 10. A motor 48 is mounted on the dockside, and a flexible shaft 36 transfers rotary power to the gear assembly 72 which in turn transmits power to the propeller 26 and brush 20. The result has the advantages of a lower weight scrubbing unit and a motor above the waterline.

[0029] FIG. 5 shows a system in which a battery 84 is mounted adjoining the electric motor 82. The system is self contained and there is no linkage to remote dock mounted equipment. It is practical, however, to use an electric power cable to the boat battery for a stiff source of power, readily rechargeable.

[0030] FIG. 6 shows a drive which causes an oscillating action back and forth to a rectangular (or pointy ended) brush 100, rather than a rotating brush or scrubber 20. Some surfaces have a grain which favors oscillating cleaning motion, rather than circular. Some boat owners believe that brush cleaning lines in the direction of boat travel cause less water friction than cleaning lines from a rotating brush. In FIG. 6, out of gear box 16 there is a crank arm 94, which couples through pin 95 to reciprocating arm or rod 97, and to pin 98. Pin 98 is guided by stationary slot 99 shown in FIG. 7 and drives rectangular brush 100 back and forth.

[0031] FIG. 7 further explains this back and forth motion. Note that arm 94 rotates and carries pin 95 which pushes reciprocating rod 97 and pin 98. Pin 98 rides in stationary slot 99 and is connected to brush 100 which then moves back and forth.

[0032] FIG. 8 shows the propeller 27 and brush 20 mounted at the same end of the shaft 17 protruding from motor 92. This configuration has the advantage that there is only one rotating exit from the motor and therefore only one, not two, water seals are required. The power cable 39, or the flexible shaft 36, or tubes 32 or 34, may exit from the back end of the motor 92.


[0033] 1. The propeller pushes debris away from the working areas, thus improving visibility at the underwater work site.

[0034] 2. To obtain lateral motion across the surface, the unit need only be tilted slightly, and a component of the motor force aids this lateral motion.

[0035] 3. To avoid tiring the operator with holding the weight of the unit, there are buoyancy tanks, not shown, allowing almost neutral weight. A positive buoyancy may be desirable, so that if the operator loses his grip, the unit will float up, rather than sink. A tether is still recommended.

[0036] 4. Not shown is a bag to collect the unwanted material.

[0037] 5. The air and hydraulic systems can be self contained, so that the driving fluid is returned to a remotely located pump. The hydraulic system may be charged with oil rather than water.

[0038] 6. The motor may be adapted from a standard battery operated drill, by the addition of a waterproof housing. The waterproof housing would have a transparent portion, so the user can readily check as to whether water has seeped into the motor compartment.

[0039] 7. Another form or shape of the brush, rather than a disc shaped brush, is as a rotating cylinder.

[0040] 8. The apparatus may be mounted on the end of a lengthy pole, optionally curved to the contours of the hull, and the cleaning job done from dockside.