Title:
Apparatus and method for tilting and trimming a boat motor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for tilting and trimming a boat motor is disclosed. The apparatus for permits the rearward the movement of the lower unit of the boat motor to reduce the likelihood of damage to the boat motor or boat when an obstruction is hit. The apparatus provides a lower actuator bracket pivotally mounted to the transom bracket of a boat motor. An actuator is pivotally connected to the lower actuator bracket and to a mounting bracket to tilt and trim the lower unit. The lower actuator bracket is configurable between an engaged position for tilting and trimming the boat motor and a released position to allow the lower unit to pivot over obstructions. A shear pin may also be provided to maintain the engaged position of the lower actuator bracket while operating the boat motor in reverse.



Inventors:
Johnson, Bruce (Bloomington, MN, US)
Application Number:
10/379190
Publication Date:
09/09/2004
Filing Date:
03/03/2003
Assignee:
JOHNSON BRUCE
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63H20/10; (IPC1-7): B63H5/125
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SOTELO, JESUS D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Billion & Armitage (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Claims:
1. A boat motor, comprising: an upper unit including an engine; a lower unit secured to the upper unit and including a drive train and a propeller with the drive train connected to the engine to drive the propeller; and a mounting bracket rotatably secured to the lower unit; a transom bracket pivotally secured to the mounting bracket; a lower actuator bracket is pivotally secured to the transom bracket and includes an actuator mount with the actuator mount extending a radial distance from an actuator bracket axis so that the actuator mount may rotate about the actuator bracket axis; and an actuator having a first end and a second end with the first end pivotally secured to the mounting bracket, with the second end pivotally secured to the actuator mount, and with the actuator movable between at least a withdrawn position and an extended position.

2. A boat motor, as in claim 1, further comprising an upper actuator bracket to pivotally secure first end of the actuator to the mounting bracket with the upper actuator bracket secured to the mounting bracket and the first end of the actuator pivotally secured to the upper actuator bracket.

3. A boat motor, as in claim 1, further comprising at least one shear pin with the shear pin received within at least one shear pin receiver defined by the lower actuator bracket.

4. An apparatus for tilting and trimming a boat motor comprising: a transom bracket; a mounting bracket pivotally mounted to the transom bracket; an actuator having a first end and a second end with the first pivotally secured to the mounting bracket, and a lower actuator bracket pivotally secured to the transom bracket with the second end of the actuator pivotally secured to the actuator bracket and the actuator bracket rotatable between at least an engaged position and a disengaged position.

5. An apparatus, as in claim 4, further comprising an upper actuator bracket to pivotally secure the first end of the actuator to the mounting bracket with the upper actuator bracket secured to the mounting bracket and the first end of the actuator pivotally secured to the upper actuator bracket.

6. An apparatus, as in claim 4, further comprising at least one shear pin with the shear pin received within at least one shear pin receiver defined by the lower actuator bracket.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to boat motors. In particular, this invention relates to an apparatus and method for tilting and/or trimming a boat motor.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] In general, an outboard or inboard-outboard (i/o) motor is secured to boat in a manner that allows the motor to pivot on the transom of the boat. Typically, the motor pivots through a range of working positions in which the propeller remains in the water and through a range of inoperable positions in which the propeller is raised out of the water.

[0005] In the working positions or lower range of pivoting, the thrust angle of the propeller may be adjusted in the water. This lower range is referred to as the “trim” range. Typically, the outboard or i/o motor is trimmed to adjust the orientation of the propeller relative to the water and/or relative to the hull to optimize performance under various operating conditions. The speed, and safety of propulsion, are effected by the trim of the motor with respect to the boat and the angle at which the propeller generates its thrust forces.

[0006] In the inoperable positions or upper range of pivoting, the propeller is positioned out of the water. This upper range is referred to as the “tilt” range. This range may be utilized to tilt the propulsion unit to avoid damage in very shallow water. This range is also typically utilized when trailering the watercraft.

[0007] Many larger motors include integral systems for hydraulically assisted tilting and trimming of the motor. These motors are susceptible to failure and can be expensive to repair. Accordingly, a need exists for alternatives to the repair or replacement of existing units. Most smaller motors, for example 40 horsepower and less, do not typically include hydraulically assisted tilting and trimming systems. However, the smaller motors may still be relatively heavy and cumbersome. In addition, the aging segment of the boating population who may utilize these smaller engines typically do not want to exert themselves or risk injury by having to manually adjust the trim and tilt the engine.

[0008] Furthermore, regardless of the weight of an engine, the manual adjustment of the trim is cumbersome. The manual adjustment typically requires that the engine is raised and locked in the tilt position and that the trim pin is removed from one trim pin hole and is inserted in another trim pin hole which confers the desired trim position when the motor is released from the tilt position. Accordingly, a need exists for an automated tilt and trim mechanism that may be retrofitted to existing larger and smaller engines.

[0009] Motor mounts, including the tilt and trim components, must be robust. Boats can travel at a high rate of speed and, over time, are likely to encounter a number of obstacles. Typically, the hull of a boat will slide over partially submerged obstacles. Unfortunately, the lower unit of an engine typically extends below the hull and can strike the obstacle that the hull rides over or slides over after the object clears the hull. The leading edge of the engine's lower unit will typically strike such objects at a right angle. The forces conferred by such collisions can tear the motor from the transom.

[0010] Boat engines are generally designed to withstand such forces. With outboard motors various energy absorption systems are been incorporated in the mounting of the outboard motors to prevent damage to the motor components and to occupants of the boat under power. To avoid having the engine torn from the transom or the lower unit torn from the upper unit, the lower unit is frequently mounted to freely swing away from the boat. In swinging away from the boat, the motor rises up and over the obstacle. The systems designed to allow the engine to pivot when hitting a submerged or partially submerged obstacle and are generally designed to withstand the forces of a collision at full speed. Shock absorbing feature may also be provided to prevent the engine from being kicked or thrown into the boat at the time of impact and similarly to absorb the forces during return movement of the motor. Accordingly, a need exists for a robust retrofitted or oem tilt and trim mechanism which integrates into the existing pivoting and safety features and either maintains the original degree of safety or increases the level of safety of operating the watercraft.

[0011] As a result of the need to be robust, many existing tilt and trim mechanisms are relatively expensive, complex and relatively difficult to operate and maintain. Also, such mechanisms are likely to be relatively heavy and thus, less convenient to handle and transport. Accordingly, a need exists for a mechanism that effectively and efficiently mounts a motor to a transom and selectively pivots one relative to the other.

[0012] In addition, a mechanical trim limit stop is desirably provided to establish a minimum trim position. A reverse lock is also normally provided to prevent the kicking up of the lower unit out of the water a result of the reverse propulsion forces.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] The apparatus and method of the present invention satisfies the above needs and provides additional advantages that will be recognized by those skilled in the art upon review of the present disclosure. An object of the present invention is to permit the automated adjustment of the tilt and trim of a motor. Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a mechanism to release the lower unit of a boat motor to allow the motor to rise over obstructions. Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an assembly that can be retrofitted onto boat motors that were not originally equipped with an automated tilt and trim mechanism or to replace defective or broken original equipment tilt and trim mechanisms.

[0014] In one aspect, the present invention provides a boat motor. The boat motor having an upper unit secured to a lower unit. The upper unit including the engine. The lower unit including the drive train and propeller with the drive train operably connected to the engine to drive the propeller. A mounting bracket rotatably may be secured to either the upper unit or the lower unit. A transom bracket may be pivotally secured to the mounting bracket. A lower actuator bracket may be pivotally secured to the transom bracket and can include an actuator mount with the actuator mount extending a radial distance from an actuator bracket axis so that the actuator mount may rotate about the actuator bracket axis. An actuator having a first end and a second end is also provided. The actuator having a first end and a second end. The first end pivotally secured to the mounting bracket and the second end pivotally secured to the actuator mount, and with the actuator movable between at least a withdrawn position and an extended position. The boat motor may also include an upper actuator bracket. The upper actuator bracket can pivotally secure first end of the actuator to the mounting bracket with the upper actuator bracket secured to the mounting bracket and the first end of the actuator pivotally secured to the upper actuator bracket. The boat motor can further include one or more one shear pins with the shear pins received within at least one shear pin receiver in the lower actuator bracket.

[0015] In another aspect, the present invention provides an apparatus for tilting and trimming a boat motor. The apparatus having a mounting bracket pivotally mounted to a transom bracket. An actuator having a first end and a second end with the first pivotally secured to the mounting bracket and the second end pivotally secured to a lower actuator bracket. The lower actuator bracket is also pivotally secured to the transom bracket. The actuator bracket rotatable between at least an engaged position for tilting and trimming and a disengaged position to allow rearward movement. The apparatus may also include an upper actuator bracket. The upper actuator bracket can pivotally secure first end of the actuator to the mounting bracket with the upper actuator bracket secured to the mounting bracket and the first end of the actuator pivotally secured to the upper actuator bracket. The apparatus can further include one or more one shear pins with the shear pins received within at least one shear pin receiver in the lower actuator bracket.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] The invention will now be described, purely by way of non-restrictive example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0017] FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of engine in accordance with the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 2 illustrates a partial perspective view of a motor in accordance with the present invention in a tilted position.

[0019] FIG. 3A illustrates a side view of an embodiment of a boat motor in accordance with the present invention in a lowered position.

[0020] FIG. 3B illustrates a side view of the boat motor of FIG. 3A a tilted position.

[0021] FIG. 4A illustrates a side view of a tilt and trim apparatus in accordance with the present invention in an engaged position.

[0022] FIG. 4B illustrates a side view of a tilt and trim apparatus in accordance with the present invention in a released position.

[0023] All figures are drawn for ease of explanation of the basic teachings of the present invention only; the extensions of the figures with respect to number, position relationship and dimensions of the parts to form the preferred embodiment will be explained or will be within the skill of the arts after the following description has been read and understood. Further, the exact dimensional proportions to conform to specific force, weight, strength, and similar requirements will likewise be within the skill of the art after the following description has been read and understood.

[0024] Where used in various figures of the drawings, the same numerals designate the same or similar parts. Furthermore, when the terms “top,” “bottom,” “right,” “left,” “forward,” “rear,” “first,” “second,” “inside,” “outside,” and similar terms are used, the terms should be understood to reference only the structure shown in the drawings as it would appear to a person viewing the drawings and utilized only to facilitate the description of the illustrated embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0025] A boat motor 10 in accordance with the present invention is generally illustrated in the Figures. Boat motor 10 is typically comprised of an upper unit 12 and a lower unit 14. The upper unit 12 typically includes the engine. The lower unit typically includes one or more drive shafts and the propeller and is configured to position the propeller in the water and typically below the bottom of the hull. Boat motor 10 is typically attached to the transom 3 of a boat 1 which is partially shown in FIG. 1.

[0026] Boat motor 10 includes a transom bracket 16 to secure the motor to the transom 3. Transom bracket 16 is generally configured to be received and secured over an upper lip 5 of transom 3 and to transfer the force from boat motor 10 to boat 1. As illustrated, transom bracket 16 includes a first brace 62 and a second brace 64 connected by a transom bracket cross-member 64. Transom brackets generally include a plurality of trim pin holes which are used for motors without an automated tilt and trim mechanisms to determine the trim setting for the motor. In accordance with the present invention, a lower actuator bracket mounting hole 66 to mount lower actuator bracket 20. As illustrated, lower actuator bracket mounting holes 66 are selected from one of the trim pin holes 66 for exemplary purposes.

[0027] The pivoting of mounting bracket 18 relative to transom bracket 16 permits lower unit 14 to be trimmed and tilted and also permits lower unit 14 to release in a rearward direction if the lower unit 14 strikes an obstacle while boat 1 is moving forward. Mounting bracket 18 is typically rotatably attached to either or both of upper unit 12 and the lower unit 14 to permit the directing of the thrust from the propeller relative to the boat to steer and control boat 1 during operation.

[0028] In accordance with the present invention, a lower actuator bracket 20 is pivotally connected to transom bracket 16. Lower actuator bracket 20 is generally configured to be movable from an engaged position, illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 4A, to a released configuration, illustrated in FIG. 4B. Lower actuator bracket 20 is typically pivotally attached a transom bracket 16 through one or more of the lower bracket mounting holes 66. As illustrated for exemplary purposes, lower actuator bracket 20 includes a first vertical arm 22, a second vertical arm 24, and a transverse arm 26 connecting first vertical arm 22 and second vertical arm 24. A back plate 29 connected to the adjacent arms is also to provide additional rigidity is also illustrated. A lower actuator mount 28 may be provided on transverse arm 26 to pivotally secure one of the ends of an actuator 40. The radial distance is measured from the center of rotation of the lower actuator bracket to the pivot point of the lower actuator mount 28.

[0029] Lower actuator bracket 20 may also include a shear pin receiver 90. Shear pin receiver 90 is typically a hole through the lower actuator bracket which receives a shear pin 92. Shear pin 92 abuts a portion of the transom bracket 16 to prevent lower transom bracket from swinging rearward unless a force sufficient to shear shear pin 92 is applied in a rearward direction. In which case, shear pin 92 shears permitting transom bracket 16 to swing in the rearward direction.

[0030] Actuator 40 is connected at a first end 42 to lower actuator bracket 20 and at a second end 44 to the mounting bracket 18. Actuator 40 provides the force to pivot mounting bracket 18 relative to transom bracket 16 against the weight supported by mounting bracket 18 and thereby tilt and trim boat motor 10. The actuator may be hydraulic, pneumatic, electro-mechanical, electromagnetic or otherwise configured to exert sufficient force to lift the motor through one or more trim positions and to at least on tilt position. As illustrated, actuator 40 includes an electric motor 46 which rotates a worm gear within housing 48 to extend and withdraw actuator 40 using a threaded mechanism.

[0031] Second end 44 of actuator 40 is pivotally connected to motor mount 18. Second end 44 may be connected directly to motor mount 18 or, alternatively, may be connected to motor mount 18 by an upper actuator bracket 70, shown in phantom in FIGS. 4A and 4B. Upper actuator bracket 70 may be mounted in a cavity defined by the lower portion of motor mount 18, as illustrated, or may be otherwise mounted to facilitate the raising and lowering of the engine through the tilt and trim positions as will be recognized by those skilled in the art upon review of the present disclosure.

[0032] In operation, the apparatus and method of the present invention provides tilting and trimming of a motor when transom bracket 16 is positioned in an engaged position while permitting lower unit 14 to pivot over obstructions by assuming the released position in response to a rearward force on lower unit 14.

[0033] FIG. 3A illustrates lower actuator bracket 20 in the engaged position with actuator 40 in a withdrawn position that places at least a portion of the lower unit in the water. Actuator 40 may be electronically or mechanically controlled to assume a particular length and accordingly a particular trim setting or may be incrementally or continuously adjustable to permit the adjustment of the motor's trim by an operator. As illustrated to propel boat 1 forward, a forward force is conferred by the propeller. This force is transferred through lower unit 14 and mounting bracket 18 to exert a compressing force on actuator 40. This force is transferred, in part, to the lower actuator bracket which is biased against the transom of the hull. Conversely to propel boat 1 backwards, a rearward exerted by the propeller exerts a pulling force on actuator 40. This force is transferred, in part, to lower actuator bracket 20 which is pulled away from transom 3. In one aspect, shear pin 92 mounted in shear pin receiver 90 may be brought into contact with transom bracket 16 to prevent the lower unit from pivoting rearward or, alternatively, the geometry for mounting the components may be selected to prevent the rearward movement of the lower unit under minimal forces as will be understood by those skilled in the art upon review of the present disclosure.

[0034] FIG. 3B illustrates lower actuator bracket 20 in the engaged position with actuator 40 in an extended position that lifts the lower unit out of the water in a tilted position. Again, actuator 40 may be electronically or mechanically controlled to assume a particular length and accordingly a particular tilt setting or may be incrementally or continuously adjustable to permit the adjustment of the motor's tilt by an operator.

[0035] FIG. 4A illustrates an apparatus in accordance with the present invention having lower actuator bracket 20 and mounting bracket 18 in the engaged position with actuator 40 in a withdrawn position that would place at least a portion of lower unit 14 in a trimmed position in the water. Shear pin 92 is positioned in shear pin receiver 90 and actuator 40 has a set length. As illustrated, any forward force would be, at least in part, would conferred from the propeller to the transom through lower actuator bracket 20. If the lower unit were to strike an object with sufficient force, the lower unit would be forced to pivot rearward as illustrated in FIG. 4B. Although the actuator has maintained the same set length as in FIG. 4A, the lower actuator bracket has been pulled backwards with sufficient force to shear shear pin 92 and assume the release position illustrated in FIG. 4B. Alternatively, if a particular geometry instead of a shear pin had been used for preventing unwanted rearward movement of the lower unit, the rearward force would have had to overcome the mechanical forces conferred by the geometry to allow the lower actuator bracket to assume the released position.

[0036] Since the invention disclosed above may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or general characteristics thereof, some of which forms have been indicated, the embodiments described in the present disclosure are to be considered in all respects illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is to be indicated by the appended claims, rather than by the above description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are intended to be embraced by the claims.





 
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