Title:
Traveling cover bench system with hydraulic fluid actuator
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A traveling swimming pool cover drum enclosure comprising a cover drum enclosure for containing a pool cover wound onto a central drive shaft, the cover drum enclosure having a plurality of wheels oriented for moving the cover drum enclosure to a position adjacent an edge of a swimming pool as desired, and an actuator coupled to the wheels of the cover drum enclosure for wheels are rotated, thereby causing the cover drum enclosure to travel to a position adjacent the edge of the swimming pool as desired.



Inventors:
Last, Harry J. (Kailua, HI, US)
Application Number:
10/758705
Publication Date:
07/29/2004
Filing Date:
01/14/2004
Assignee:
LAST HARRY J.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/08; E04H4/10; (IPC1-7): E04H4/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NEWHOUSE & ASSOCIATES (San Mateo, CA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A traveling swimming pool cover drum enclosure comprising: a cover drum enclosure for containing a pool cover wound onto a central drive shaft, the cover drum enclosure having a plurality of wheels oriented for moving the cover drum enclosure to a position overhanging or away from an edge of a swimming pool as desired; and an actuator coupled to the wheels of the cover drum enclosure for rotating the wheels, thereby causing the cover drum enclosure to travel to a position overhanging or away from the edge of the swimming pool as desired.

2. The traveling swimming pool cover drum enclosure of claim 1, wherein the actuator is a hydraulic fluid actuator which causes rotation of the wheels of the cover drum enclosure.

3. The traveling swimming pool cover drum enclosure of claim 1., wherein the actuator is a pneumatic fluid actuator which causes rotation of the wheels of the cover drum enclosure.

4. The traveling swimming pool cover drum enclosure of claim 1, wherein the actuator is an electric motor which causes rotation of the wheels of the cover drum enclosure.

5. The traveling swimming pool cover drum enclosure of claim 1, wherein the actuator is coupled to the wheels of the cover drum enclosure with a drive cable.

6. The traveling swimming pool cover drum enclosure of claim 1, in which the actuator is also connected to the central drive shaft of the pool cover drum enclosure, wherein upon actuation, the central drive shaft is caused to rotate, thereby causing the cover drum to roll or unroll the pool cover as desired.

7. A traveling swimming pool cover drum support comprising: a swimming pool cover drum having a set of wheels oriented for moving the cover drum to a position adjacent or away from an edge of a swimming pool as desired; a drive cable connected between the set of wheels; and a hydraulic fluid cylinder coupled to the drive cable, wherein upon actuation, the cylinder drives the drive cable and the wheels are rotated.

8. The traveling swimming pool cover drum support of claim 7, further comprising a hydraulic pump for operating the hydraulic fluid cylinder and actuator.

9. The traveling swimming pool cover drum support of claim 7, further comprising an actuator for the central drive shaft, wherein upon actuation, the central drive shaft is caused to rotate, thereby causing the cover drum to roll or unroll the pool cover as desired.

10. The traveling swimming pool cover drum support of claim 9 in which the actuator is operated by a hydraulic pump.

11. The traveling swimming pool cover drum support of claim 10 in which the hydraulic pump is also used for operating the hydraulic fluid cylinder and actuator.

12. The traveling swimming pool cover drum support of claim 8 in which the hydraulic pump is contained within a physically remote power pack pump and connected to the hydraulic fluid cylinder via hydraulic lines.

13. The traveling swimming pool cover drum support of claim 12 in which the hydraulic lines include supply and return lines.

13. The traveling swimming pool cover drum support of claim 7 in which the hydraulic fluid cylinder further comprises: at least one cylinder port which communicates hydraulic pressure to the cylinder; and a cylinder piston rod, coupled to the drive cable, that extends from and retracts into the hydraulic fluid cylinder in response to change in hydraulic pressure.

14. The traveling swimming pool cover drum support of claim 13 in which the cylinder piston rod is coupled directly to the drive cable.

15. The traveling swimming pool cover drum support of claim 13 in which the cylinder piston rod is coupled to the drive cable via gear assembly.

16. A swimming pool cover drum which can be moved away from the side of the swimming pool when the cover is not in use, the cover drum comprising: a central shaft for supporting a pool cover wound thereon; a set of wheels which moves the swimming pool cover drum away from the side of the swimming pool; and a fluid actuator coupled to the set of wheels via mechanical linkage.

17. The swimming pool cover drum of claim 16 in which the actuator is controlled via remote power pack such that the swimming pool cover drum is electrically isolated.

18. A method for moving a swimming pool cover drum on which a swimming pool cover has been wound away from the edge of a swimming pool, the method comprising the following steps: obtaining a swimming pool cover drum having a set of wheels and a fluid actuator such as a hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder, in which the fluid actuator is coupled to the set of wheels via mechanical linkage; and actuating the fluid actuator such that the set of wheels are rotated in a direction which moves the swimming pool cover drum away from the side of the swimming pool.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This Application is a Continuation-In-Part utility patent application related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/829,801, filed Apr. 25, 2002, entitled AUTOMATIC POOL COVER SYSTEM USING BUOYANT-SLAT POOL COVERS, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, and claims any and all benefits to which it is entitled therefrom. This Application is also related to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/440,667 filed Jan. 15, 2003 entitled APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING AND CLOSING A POOL COVER DRIVE CHAMBER, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, and claims any and all benefits to which it is entitled therefrom.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to an automatic swimming pool cover system, and in particular, to a pool cover drum enclosure located at the end of a swimming pool which can be automatically moved away from the side of the pool upon removal of the pool cover.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Automatic pool cover systems utilizing interconnected rigid buoyant slats, which roll up on a submerged or elevated drum as described by U.S. Pat. No. 3,613,126, to R. Granderath, are popular in Europe. These pool cover systems utilize passive forces arising from buoyancy or gravity for propelling, the cover to extend the cover across a pool. With either buoyancy or gravity, there must be some mechanism to prevent a retracted cover from unwinding responsive to the passive force. Such passive force systems also have a disadvantage in that the passive force must be overcome during retraction. Granderath suggests a worm gear drive mechanism for winding the cover and preventing cover drum rotation when not powered. The slats for these are further described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,577,352, to Gautheron.

[0004] U.S. Pat. No. 4,411,031 to Stolar describes a system similar to Granderath where instead of rigid hinged buoyant slats, various floating sheet materials such as a polyethylene polybubble, or a laminate of vinyl sheeting and foamed substrate, are floated on the surface of the water. The propulsion of the cover across the pool is reliant on buoyant and gravitational forces much like the system in the Granderath patent.

[0005] Pool covers which employ floating slats or similar materials, and which use buoyant forces to propel the cover across the pool, necessarily wind the cover onto a roller drum which is positioned above or below the water surface. In the case of covers wound onto a spool sitting above the edge of the pool, such as at one end or another, when the cover is fully wound onto the cover drum, the entire rolled up cover sits above the surface of the edge of the pool. In some cases, the cover and drum are located in a separate bench apparatus setting next to the pool. The design is to aesthetically hide the cover and roller drum and also allow the entire mechanism to be manually rolled backwards away from the end of the swimming pool.

[0006] Using a separated gear drive system with limit switches to travel such a limited distance is costly and it complicates timing of the two drive systems. Furthermore, these electric drives require the supply of electrical current right next to the swimming pool which poses the possibility of a shock safety hazard. Moreover, having the electrical apparatus near the pool accelerates corrosion of the electrical components, rendering them unreliable, as well as exposing the components to flooding and costly repair.

[0007] Bench Systems

[0008] Floating cover system, both the slatted type and also the floating fabric type are also installed and used on existing swimming pools. Typically these systems have their wind-up roll system enclosed by a bench. Since these covers often float on the water surface, or are stretched across the surface and attach in sliding grooves or tracks located along the length or width of the pools, a bench must be positioned at the pool edge, often partially hanging over the pool water surface. This design is to accommodate cover slats or floating fabric deployed from the cover drum as it is placed directly onto the pool water surface, or to allow retraction of the cover and winding of the cover onto an elongated, central spool shaft. This is a poor design because since part of the pool cover bench remains positioned directly adjacent or even partially above part of the pool. Often, swimmers might inadvertently bump their heads or arms on the enclosure bench, and in many commercial and public applications this is a disadvantage.

[0009] Another problem with the fixed bench installation or roller stand right next to the pool edge is that it prevents access to that pool side such as for ingress or egress to the pool, or for location of diving boards or platforms. Typically these installations overhang the edge of the pool, so that when the pool cover unwinds, it drops directly onto the surface of the water and floats out over the surface. the fixed installation is a safety hazard and inconvenience for swimmers turning or stopping for rest. Hence various means are employed to move these benches, either manually and preferably automatically away from the pool once the cover has been removed from the pool and wound up onto the cover roller contained within the bench or other suitable cover housing.

[0010] In the case of auxiliary mechanism such as bench enclosures, or automatic lids at the pool bottom or pool wall side, these also must be powered and controlled by a separate electric gear drive system and controls. Furthermore the correct sequencing or control of these auxiliary bench or lid mechanisms can become fairly complex, unreliable and service prone.

[0011] As described in several other applications and patents by the inventor, automatic cover drive systems have to be mounted next to the swimming pool and frequently below the pool deck surface. With the exception of hydraulic drive systems as described on of the inventor's prior U.S. Pat. No. 5,327,590 and applications, most floating and slatted cover systems use electric drive systems. This is a potential shock hazard near the pool surface area and furthermore, when these systems are even briefly submerged, or flooded, expensive damage and repair costs are entailed.

ADVANTAGES AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0012] The present invention comprises a hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder actuator to the auxiliary lid cover mechanisms and furthermore simplifies these mechanisms and their controls by having them powered by means of a single physically remote power pack or electric fluid pump. The complete system hydraulics near the pool are supplied with only two hydraulic interchangeable supply and return lines to the physically remote power pack or electric fluid pump.

[0013] The proposed invention incorporates a standard hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder, where the full travel of the cylinder is sized to the arc of travel of the lever arm acting to move the pool floor lid system from the closed to the operational open position and uses the mechanical end travel of the cylinder and the consequent pressure surge to actuate a pressure switch and/or various sequencing valve means to actuate other components of the system in a timed and sequenced and velocity controlled manner.

[0014] The present invention is related to outdoor pools where the cover system is suspended in a rolled up spool fashion on top of a superstructure adjacent to the pool.

[0015] The distinct advantage of the hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder means is that the end stop actuation or travel limiting means is now accomplished by utilizing the immediate fluid pressure surge or increase as the cylinder reaches its mechanical end of travel, and combining or utilizing this with a remote electro-hydraulic pressure switch at the remote power pack to either stop the power pack pump, or by means of a sequencing valve or a combination thereof, to advance to subsequent step in the pool cover operation and final operation of the steps needed to operate the complete system.

[0016] Another advantage of using hydraulics or air is that the speed of the cylinder and consequently the linear velocity of the lid operation can be easily and simply controlled by a pressure valve and by timed fluid flow diversion, all using components that are not affected by being near moisture or compromising the safety of swimmers with the potential electric shock hazard.

[0017] Another advantage of using hydraulics or air means is that the speed of the cover drive tube can be easily temporarily slowed by using a valve connected to, and actuated through a timing device to bleed off part of the flow to die reservoir or tank, thereby slowing the cover drive tube, and hence, the overall speed of the moving bench enclosure.

[0018] It is yet a further object and advantage of the present invention to provide a traveling cover enclosure which slides out over the edge of the pool such that the cover drum is able to unwind the pool cover directly over the surface of the water, adjacent the edge of the pool and which would float out over the surface of the entire pool, as desired, and which can be slid backward away from the edge of the swimming pool once the cover is removed and fully wound up onto the cover drum, thereby removing a potential safety hazard, i.e., the overhanging cover drum at the end of the pool, providing a swimming pool with all ends which can be used safely by swimmers and all others and a traveling cover enclosure which can be relocated away from the edge of the pool essentially as far away as desired.

[0019] Further objects and advantages of the present invention will be come apparent through the following descriptions, and will be included and incorporated herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] FIG. 1A is a representative plan view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention showing the location and movement of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 adjacent the swimming pool 102.

[0021] FIG. 1B is a representative plan view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention, such as shown in FIG. 1A, showing the location and movement of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 advanced beyond the edge of the swimming pool 102.

[0022] FIG. 1C is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention, such as shown in FIG. 1A, showing the location and movement of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 advanced beyond the swimming pool 102.

[0023] FIG. 2 is a representative schematic diagram showing a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention.

[0024] FIG. 3 is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention.

[0025] FIG. 4 is a representative right side view of a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention.

[0026] FIG. 5 is a representative left side view of a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention with the top panel 408 removed.

[0027] FIG. 6 is a representative right detail side view of a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0028] The description that follows is presented to enable one skilled in the art to make and use the present invention, and is provided in the context of a particular application and its requirements. Various modifications to the disclosed embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and the general principals discussed below may be applied to other embodiments and applications without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Therefore, the invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments disclosed, but the invention is to be given the largest possible scope which is consistent with the principals and features described herein.

[0029] It will be understood that in the event parts of different embodiments have similar functions or uses, they may have been given similar or identical reference numerals and descriptions. It will be understood that such duplication of reference numerals is intended solely for efficiency and ease of understanding the present invention, and are not to be construed as limiting in any way, or as implying that the various embodiments themselves are identical. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, all amounts given in the text and the examples which follow are understood to be modified by the term “about,” and those figures expressed in terms of percent (%) are understood to refer to weight percent, unless indicated otherwise.

[0030] FIG. 1A is a representative plan view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention showing the location and movement of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 adjacent the swimming pool 102. FIG. 1B is a representative plan view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention, such as shown in FIG. 1A, showing the location and movement of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 advanced beyond the edge of the swimming pool 102. FIG. 1C is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention, such as shown in FIG. 1A, showing the location and movement of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 advanced beyond the swimming pool 102.

[0031] As shown best in FIG. 1A, the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 is located outside the swimming pool 102, such as on an edge, at one end or on one side As shown in FIGS. 1B and 1C, movement of this configuration of the bench 104 is lengthwise with regard to the length of the swimming pool 102. The orientation of movement of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 can be modified according to the shape of the swimming pool102.

[0032] The automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 is located completely outside the swimming pool 102 and is free to travel independent thereof. There is a usable area 112 between the edge of the swimming pool 102 and the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104. This ensures the system 104 is not submerged in water and can be moved towards a point 114 away from the edge of the pool 102, to eliminate a potential electric shock, a safety hazard. It will be understood that the bench 104 can be moved as far away to point 114 as desired, however modifications in the design of this invention will be required when moving the bench 104 greater than about 18-36 inches, or more or less, away from the edge 112 of the pool.

[0033] As shown in FIGS. 1B and 1C, when in operation opening or closing the pool cover 101, the traveling cover enclosure 104 is able slides out over the edge 112 of the pool 102 such that the cover drum 502 is able to unwind the pool cover 101 directly over the surface of the water. The actual enclosure 104 is adjacent or beyond the edge 112 of the pool 102. As it unwinds, the pool cover 101 floats out over the surface of the water over the entire pool 102, as desired. Then, after the cover 101 is removed and fully wound up onto the cover drum 502, the entire enclosure 104 is slid backward away from the edge 112 of the swimming pool 102, such as shown in FIG. 1A, thereby removing a potential safety hazard, i.e., the overhanging cover drum at the end of the pool 102. This provides a swimming pool with both ends which can be used safely by swimmers for turning, stopping and resting, etc., and all others. As will be understood, thee traveling cover enclosure 104 which can be relocated away from the edge 112 of the pool 102 essentially as far away as desired.

[0034] FIG. 2 is a representative schematic diagram showing a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention. The whole system is powered by a physically remote power pack pump 202 that supplies the complete system hydraulics via a two hydraulic interchangeable supply and return lines 212. The hydraulic power moves the cylinder piston 206 and the action of the cylinder 206 subsequently move the overall automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 within the range of the restricted travel distance 108. The control system 104 comprises a cylinder 206, in which the action of the cylinder 206 is used to automatically cause lateral movement of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 within the restricted travel distance 108.

[0035] FIG. 3 is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention. FIG. 4 is a representative right side view of a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention. FIG. 5 is a representative left side view of a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention. FIG. 6 is a representative right detail side view of a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention.

[0036] The present invention is also a method of moving or sliding a bench 104 housing a pool cover 101 drive roller or drum. The system is powered by a hydraulic motor with the limited travel distance 108 restricted at both ends by the limit switch device. Tracks 302 and 304 constrain the travel of concave wheel surfaces of wheels 306, 308, 310 and 312, respectively. Gear sprockets 326 and 324, having a slightly smaller diameter so as not to interfere with the wheels' 310 and 312 motion on the track 302 and 304, are attached to wheels 310 and 312, respectively. The diameter of wheels 310 and 312 is at a preset ratio to the length of travel of cylinder 206 so as to achieve the proper distance of travel 108 of the bench 104. Disposed around the circumference of the gear sprockets 326 and 324 are section of the drive chain 334 and 332. The drive chains 334 and 332 are designed to be sufficiently long to achieve the required travel. The ends of the drive chain 334 and 332 are suitably attached to cable portions 342 and 344, as shown.

[0037] When pressure is applied through port 358 of cylinder 206, cylinder rod 356 will travel inward or retract. The movement causes cable portion 352, which is attached to a constrained attachment and subsequently to the end of the cylinder rod 354, to move in the direction of arrow AA shown in FIG. 2. It will then pull chain 334, which is attached the cable 340, in a vertically upward direction. The movement will subsequently cause gear sprocket 326 to rotate in the counterclockwise direction, and wheel 310 to rotate counterclockwise on the track 304. Wheel 306 will then follow and rotate to the exact same degree as wheel 310 on track 304.

[0038] Simultaneously, cable 342, which is connected to turnbuckle 350, will move as shown by directional arrow BB of the page in FIG. 2. The function of turnbuckle 350 is to adjust the tension between cables 342 and 344. The movement of cable 342 in the direction shown as BB then acts on cable 344 and subsequently drive chain 332 to move vertically upward as shown by directional arrow CC. The upward movement will then engage gear sprocket 324 and wheel 312 to also rotate simultaneously to the exact same degree as gear sprocket 326 and wheel 314, in a counterclockwise direction on track 302. Wheel 308 will then follow and rotate to the exact same degree as wheel 312 on track 302.

[0039] The combine counterclockwise rotation of wheel 310 and 306 on track 304 and wheel 312 and 308 on track 302 will then account for the consequential movement of the entire automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 in one direction. as shown by directional arrows DD.

[0040] The description of the action of all the above-mentioned elements can be reversed by releasing hydraulic or pneumatic pressure from the port 358. Rotation of gear sprocket 324 and 326 and wheel 310 and 312 is therefore clockwise on the track 302 and 304 respectively. Wheel 306 and 308 will then follow and have clockwise rotation on track 304 and 302 respectively. As a result, the cover enclosure bench system 104 will be moved backwards, in the opposite direction, as shown by directional arrows EE.

[0041] Travel of the cover enclosure bench system 104 can be automatically kept aligned and constrained by surfaces 330, 316, 314 and 328 on the bench making contact with floor mounted brackets 320 and 314 respectively which are sized appropriately for the correct length of travel 108 of bench 104. Optionally, these surfaces 330, 316, 314 and 328 may be provided with contact sensors or motion detectors or relays or mechanical switches which transfer a control signal back to a power pack 202 or other controller, thereby controlling and delimiting forward and reverse motion of the bench.

[0042] The limited travel distance 108 on tracks 302 and 304 can be adjusted by changing the ratio between the diameter of gear sprockets 326 and 324 and wheels 306, 308, 310 and 312. By reducing the diameter of gear sprockets 326 and 324 and/or increasing the diameter of wheels 306, 308, 310 and/or 312, thereby increasing the ratio between the diameter of gear sprockets 326 and 324 and wheels 306, 308, 310 and/or 312, the limited travel distance 108 may be increased or decreased, and vice versa.

[0043] As best shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the whole system 104 is completely housed in the composite, beam enclosure structure 402 as described in the inventor's previous U.S. Pat. No. 5,927,042, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety, or other suitable and appropriate swimming pool components and waterproof building materials. The system 104 is further powered by a power pack pump 202 that supplies the complete hydraulics to the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104. In a preferred embodiment, the power pack pump 202 is electrically powered and is connected to power source 404 via power cable and connectors 406. The power pack pump 202 and its power source 404 are physically remote from the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 and are connected by two hydraulic interchangeable supply and return lines 212. This ensures that the electrical components are never located in the bench 104 or anywhere hear the edge 112 of the swimming pool 102. The cylinder piston 356 and cylinder 206 moves the overall automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 within the range of the restricted travel distance 108.

[0044] FIG. 5 shows a preferred embodiment of the automatic cover enclosure bench system 104 of the present invention with the top panel 408 (as best shown in FIG. 4) removed. The whole system 104 is built using the composite beam panels and enclosure structures 402 according to the inventor's previous U.S. Pat. No. 5,927,042 entitled COMPOSITE BEAM STRUCTURE, or other suitable and appropriate building materials and construction designs.

[0045] Track 302 constrains the travel concave wheel surfaces of wheels 308 and 312. Gear sprocket 324, which has a slightly smaller diameter than wheel 312 so as not to interfere with the motion of the wheels 312 on the track 302, is attached to wheel 312. The diameter of wheels 312 and 308 are at a preset ratio to the length of travel of cylinder 206 so as to achieve the proper distance of travel 108 of the bench 104. Around the circumference of gear sprocket 324 is section of the drive chain 332. The drive chain 332 is designed to be sufficiently long to achieve the required travel. The ends of the drive chain 332 are suitably attached to cable 344.

[0046] With top panel 408 removed, the inside view is shown. A central shaft 502 runs through the entire automatic cover enclosure bench system 104. The central shaft 502 is secured at both right and left ends of the system 104 by a securing system 504. The shaft 502 is part of a pool cover 101 drive roller drum for swimming pool cover 101 operation. Such is described in the inventor's previous U.S. Pat. No. 5,184,357 entitled AUTOMATIC SWIMMING POOL COVER WITH A DUAL HYDRAULIC DRIVE SYSTEM, and inventor's U.S. Pat. No. 5,546,751 entitled ANTI-CAVITATION MANIFOLD FOR DRIVE COUPLED, DUAL MOTOR, REVERSIBLE HYDRAULIC DRIVE SYSTEMS, both of which are incorporated herein in their entireties, or any other similar swimming pool cover system.

[0047] As shown best in FIGS. 5 and 6, the central shaft 502 is secured at both right and left ends of the system 104 by a securing system 504 coupled to the side wall 506 Such securing system 504 would comprise a bearing pack or set of hubs, bearings and races, and be suitably clamped into the side wall 506 of the bench enclosure 104.

[0048] As also shown best in FIGS. 5 and 6, track 302 constrains the travel of concave wheel surfaces of wheels 308 and 312. Gear sprocket 324, which has a slightly smaller diameter than wheel 312 so as not to interfere with the motion of the wheel 312 on the track 302, is attached to wheel 312. The diameter of wheels 312 and 308 are at a preset ratio to the length of travel of cylinder 206 so as to achieve the proper distance of travel 108 of the bench 104. Around the circumference of gear sprocket 324 is section of the drive chain 332. The drive chain 332 is designed to be sufficiently long to achieve the required travel. The ends of the drive chain 332 are suitably attached to cable 344.

[0049] Thus, it will be understood that the hydraulic pump or power pack pump 202 can be located at a distal point from the bench 104 and have connection with the bench system 104 only by hydraulic fluid lines 212. As described, the hydraulic fluid lines 212 can be connected directly to the fluid ports 358 and 360 of piston cylinder 106. They can also be connected to a master hydraulic fluid valve/rotor cap/diverter valve assembly 420 which serves to distribute actuation of not only the lateral, back and forth pool-side positioning of the present bench system 104 on tracks 302 and 304, but also optionally opening and closing of one of the bench panel members, i.e., the top 408, a side panel 402, etc. as well as optionally driving the central drive shaft 502 of the cover 101 drum bench enclosure 104.

[0050] In a preferred embodiment, the master hydraulic fluid valve/rotor cap/diverter valve assembly 420 causes actuation of the positioning assembly to cause the bench 104 to slide up to the edge 112 of the swimming pool 102 and back, and also to unfurl a cover, floating or not, which extends over the entire swimming pool. In a preferred method of use, the master hydraulic fluid valve/rotor cap/diverter valve assembly 420 actuates the cover drum enclosure 104 and positions it adjacent the edge 112 swimming pool 102. Upon desired positioning, the master hydraulic fluid valve/rotor cap/diverter valve assembly 420 actuates the central shaft 502 of the cover 101 drum and unrolls the cover 101 over the top of the swimming pool 102. When the swimming pool is in use, however, the pool cover 101 can first be rolled back up onto the drive shaft 502 and then the entire cover drum and bench enclosure 104 can be rolled backwards, away from the edge 112 of the swimming pool 102.

[0051] It will be understood by those skilled in the art, based on the foregoing, that by changing the ratios and diameters of wheels and gears, the cover enclosure system 104 of the present invention can be moved out over the middle of the swimming pool 102, as well as back over the edge 112 of the pool 102 and back away from the pool 102 as far as desired. The set of wheels and gears described herein are merely exemplary and not intended to be limiting in any way.

[0052] Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the present invention belongs. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, the preferred methods and materials are now described. All publications and patent documents referenced in the present invention are incorporated herein by reference.

[0053] While the principles of the invention have been made clear in illustrative embodiments, there will be immediately obvious to those skilled in the art many modifications of structure, arrangement, proportions, the elements, materials, and components used in the practice of the invention, and otherwise, which are particularly adapted to specific environments and operative requirements without departing from those principles. The appended claims are intended to cover and embrace any and all such modifications, with the limits only of the true purview, spirit and scope of the invention.