Title:
Inlet valve apparatus and valve system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An inlet valve apparatus for use with a snorkel comprises a snorkel cap having an air inlet and an air outlet. An air passageway connects the air inlet and the air outlet in fluid communication one with the other. A buoyant float valve is movable between an open position whereat air can pass from the air inlet to the air outlet and a closed position whereat air and water are precluded from passing from the air inlet to the air outlet. The inlet valve apparatus is mounted onto the top end of a snorkel such that the air outlet is in fluid communication with the snorkel. A related valve system comprises a flexible hose member, a floating member, and a diverter valve apparatus that is mounted onto the top end of a snorkel such that its air outlet is in fluid communication with the snorkel.



Inventors:
Hong, Thomas K. (Toronto, CA)
Application Number:
10/746686
Publication Date:
07/07/2005
Filing Date:
12/29/2003
Assignee:
HONG THOMAS K.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
128/201.27, 128/200.29
International Classes:
B63C11/02; B63C11/16; (IPC1-7): B63C11/02; B63C11/16
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LEWIS, AARON J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMAS K. HONG (TORONTO, ON, CA)
Claims:
1. An inlet valve apparatus for use with a snorkel, said inlet valve apparatus comprising: a snorkel cap having an air inlet and an air outlet; an air passageway connecting said air inlet and said air outlet in fluid communication one with another; and, a float valve movable between an open position whereat air can pass from said air inlet to said air outlet and a closed position whereat air and water are precluded from passing from said air inlet to said air outlet; wherein said float valve is buoyant in water; means for mounting said inlet valve apparatus onto the top end of a snorkel such that said air outlet is in fluid communication with said snorkel.

2. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 1, wherein said snorkel cap comprises a substantially vertically disposed hollow stem having a top end and a bottom end, and an outer cap portion having a roof portion and a sidewall portion and being secured to said hollow stem in surrounding relation over the top end thereof.

3. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 2, wherein said air passageway connecting said air inlet and said air outlet in fluid communication one with the other is disposed in said hollow stem.

4. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 3, wherein said air outlet of said snorkel cap is disposed at the bottom end of said hollow stem.

5. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 4, wherein said air inlet of said snorkel cap is disposed in said sidewall portion of said outer cap portion.

6. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 5, wherein said outer cap portion is secured to said hollow stem by means of an annular ring having at least one air passage aperture therein.

7. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 6, wherein said vertically disposed hollow stem and said outer cap portion are substantially cylindrical.

8. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 1, wherein said float valve is mounted in sliding relation on said hollow stem.

9. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 1, wherein said float valve substantially surrounds said hollow stem.

10. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 9, wherein said float valve is substantially cylindrical in shape.

11. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 1, wherein said float valve is shaped and dimensioned to fit in close fitting relation within said outer cap portion, to thereby cover said air inlet disposed in said sidewall portion of said outer cap portion.

12. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 11, wherein said float valve includes a tray portion for receiving water therein.

13. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 12, wherein said tray portion is disposed at the bottom end of said float valve.

14. The inlet valve apparatus of claim 13, wherein said tray portion is annularly disposed around said hollow stem.

15. A valve system for use with for use with a snorkel, said valve system comprising: a flexible hose member having an inlet end and an outlet end; a floating member operatively mounted on said flexible hose member adjacent said inlet end thereof; an inlet valve apparatus operatively mounted on said flexible hose member adjacent said inlet end thereof; a diverter valve apparatus operatively mounted on said flexible hose member at said outlet end thereof, said diverter valve apparatus having an air inlet in fluid communication with said outlet end of said flexible hose member, an air outlet connectable in fluid communication with said snorkel, an expired-air outlet in fluid communication with said air outlet, and an air-pressure-operated valve means disposed between said air inlet and said air outlet such that air flow from said air outlet is precluded from travelling to said air inlet and is diverted to said expired-air outlet; and, means for mounting said diverter valve onto the top end of said snorkel such that said air outlet of said diverter valve is in fluid communication with said snorkel.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to valves and valve systems for use with snorkels, and more particularly to valves and valve systems for use with snorkels, which valves and valve systems permit a user to dive below the surface of the water and swim a few feet below the surface of the water, while using a snorkel, without inhaling water.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Snorkelling is a form of swimming that is enjoyed in many areas of the world. While snorkelling, it is common to either dive down a few feet or swim a few feet below the surface of the water in order to see rock formations, fish, coral formations, and so on, more closely. If a swimmer dives down from the surface while using a conventional snorkel, he must hold his breath and preferably remove the snorkel from his mouth. This is undesirable as it is easy to inhale water while doing this. Further, it is not possible to use a conventional snorkel while swimming a few feet below the surface of the water.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,302,102 issued Oct. 16, 2001 to Giroux et al discloses a Dual Air Passage Snorkel. This snorkel is used when diving below the surface and has an elongate body with an air inlet passage and an air outlet passage. The air inlet passage terminates in an inlet port at the top end of the elongate body and the air outlet passage terminates at an exhaust port at the top end of the elongate body. A diaphragm valve is located within each port, with each diaphragm valve biassed to a normally closed condition. The diaphragm valves control the air flow in the air passages such that air is inhaled through the air inlet passage and is exhausted through the air outlet passage.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,622,165 issued Apr. 22, 1997 to Huang discloses a Snorkel Diving Device. The snorkel diving device has a floating disk, a hard snorkel passing through the floating disk, a snorkel case in covering the upper end of the hard snorkel, and a hose connecting the hard snorkel to a mouth piece joint. There is no valve at the top end of the hard snorkel to preclude water from travelling down the hose to the mouthpiece.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an inlet valve apparatus for use with a snorkel, which inlet valve apparatus permits a swimmer to dive below the surface of the water without inhaling water through the snorkel.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a valve system for use with the snorkel, which valve system permits a swimmer to swim under water while using the snorkel.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention there is disclosed a novel inlet valve apparatus for use with a snorkel. The inlet valve apparatus comprises a snorkel cap having an air inlet and an air outlet. An air passageway connects the air inlet and the air outlet in fluid communication one with another. A float valve is movable between an open position whereat air can pass from the air inlet to the air outlet and a closed position whereat air and water are precluded from passing from the air inlet to the air outlet. The float valve is buoyant in water. There is means for mounting the inlet valve apparatus onto the top end of a snorkel such that the air outlet is in fluid communication with the snorkel.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention there is disclosed a novel valve system for use with for use with a snorkel. The valve system comprises a flexible hose member having an inlet end and an outlet end. A floating member is operatively mounted on the flexible hose member adjacent the inlet end thereof. An inlet valve apparatus is operatively mounted on the flexible hose member adjacent the inlet end thereof. A diverter valve apparatus is operatively mounted on the flexible hose member at the outlet end thereof. The diverter valve apparatus has an air inlet in fluid communication with the outlet end of the flexible hose member, an air outlet connectable in fluid communication with the snorkel, an expired-air outlet in fluid communication with the air outlet, and an air-pressure-operated valve means disposed between the air inlet and the air outlet such that air flow from the air outlet is precluded from travelling to the air inlet and is diverted to the expired-air outlet. There is means for mounting the diverter valve onto the top end of a snorkel such that the air outlet of the diverter valve is in fluid communication with the snorkel.

Other advantages, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as methods of operation and functions of the related elements of the structure, and the combination of parts and economies of manufacture, will become more apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description and the appended claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, the latter of which is briefly described herein below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the inlet valve apparatus and valve system according to the present invention, as to its structure, organization, use and method of operation, together with further objectives and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following drawings in which a presently preferred embodiment of the invention will now be illustrated by way of example. It is expressly understood, however, that the drawings are for the purpose of illustration and description only, and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention. In the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of the preferred embodiment of the inlet valve apparatus and valve system according to the present invention, for use with a snorkel;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the inlet valve apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the inlet valve apparatus of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional side elevational view of the inlet valve apparatus of FIG. 3, taken along section line 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional side elevational view of the hollow stem and outer cap portion of the inlet valve apparatus of FIG. 3, taken along section line 5-5 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional side elevational view of the float valve of the inlet valve apparatus of FIG. 3, taken along section line 6-6 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the floating member of the valve system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional side elevational view of the floating member of the valve system of FIG. 7, taken along section line 8-8 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the diverter valve apparatus of the valve system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional side elevational view of the diverter valve apparatus of the valve system of FIG. 9, taken along section line 10-10 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional side elevational view of the inlet valve apparatus of FIG. 4, with the float valve in an open position;

FIG. 12 is a is a cross-sectional side elevational view similar to FIG. 11, with the float valve in a closed position;

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional side elevational view of the diverter valve apparatus of FIG. 10, wherein air is travelling from the air inlet to the air outlet;

FIG. 14 is a is a cross-sectional side elevational view similar to FIG. 13, wherein air is travelling from the air outlet to the expired-air outlet; and,

FIG. 15 is an elevational view of the inlet valve apparatus of FIG. 4, mounted onto a snorkel.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Reference will now be made to FIGS. 1 through 15, which show a first preferred embodiment of the inlet valve apparatus and valve system according to the present invention, as indicated by general reference numeral 20. Reference will first be made to FIG. 1, which shows a valve system, as indicated by the general reference numeral 20, for use with for use with a snorkel 22. The valve system 20 comprises a flexible hose member 30 having an inlet end 32 and an outlet end 34. A floating member 40 is operatively mounted on the flexible hose member 30 adjacent the inlet end 32 thereof. The floating member 40 has an air passageway 42 having an air inlet 44 and an air outlet 46.

An inlet valve apparatus 50 is operatively mounted on the flexible hose member 30 at the inlet end 32 thereof, as will be discussed in greater detail subsequently.

A diverter valve apparatus 60 is operatively mounted on the flexible hose member 30 at the outlet end 34 thereof. The diverter valve apparatus 60 has an air inlet 62 in fluid communication with the outlet end 34 of the flexible hose member 30 and an air outlet 64 connectable in fluid communication with the snorkel 22. The diverter valve apparatus 60 also has an expired-air outlet 66 in fluid communication with the air outlet 34. There is an air-pressure-operated valve means 68 disposed between the air inlet 62 and the air outlet 64 such that air flow from the air outlet 64 is precluded from travelling to the air inlet 62 and is diverted to the expired-air outlet 66. There is also means, as indicate by the general reference numeral 61, for mounting the diverter valve apparatus 60 onto the top end of a snorkel 22, as indicated by general reference numeral 69, such that the air outlet 64 of the diverter valve apparatus is in fluid communication with the snorkel 22. As illustrated, the means 61 for mounting the diverter valve apparatus 60 comprises a slotted end portion 61a having four vertically disposed slots 61b therein. The slotted end portion 61a has exterior threads 61c and a co-operating threaded collar 61d is used to tighten the slotted end portion 61a onto the snorkel 22.

As can be best seen in FIGS. 2 through 10, there is a novel inlet valve apparatus 50 for use with the snorkel 22. The inlet valve apparatus 50 comprises a snorkel cap 70 having an air inlet 71 and an air outlet 72. As can be best seen in FIGS. 2 through 4, the snorkel cap 70 comprises a substantially vertically disposed hollow stem 74 having a top end 75 and a bottom end 76, and an outer cap portion 77 having a roof portion 78 and a sidewall portion 79 and being secured to the hollow stem 74 in surrounding relation over the top end 75 thereof. Preferably, the vertically disposed hollow stem 74 and the outer cap portion 77 are each substantially cylindrical. The outer cap portion 77 is secured to the hollow stem 74 by means of an annular ring 73 having at least one air passage aperture therein, and in the preferred embodiment illustrated, having four air passage apertures 73a therein. The air inlet 71 of the snorkel cap 70 is disposed in the sidewall portion 79 of the outer cap portion 77. The air outlet 72 of the snorkel cap 70 is disposed at the bottom end 76 of the hollow stem 74. There is also an air passageway 77 connecting the air inlet 71 and the air outlet 72 in fluid communication one with another. As can be best seen in FIG. 4, the air passageway 77 connecting the air inlet 71 and the air outlet 72 in fluid communication one with the other is disposed in the hollow stem 74.

The inlet valve apparatus 50 is mounted onto the floating member 40, such that the air outlet 72 of the air passageway 77 is in fluid communication with the air inlet 44 of the air passageway 42 in the floating member 40. The air outlet 46 of the air passageway 42 in the floating member 40 is in fluid communication with the flexible hose member 30.

A float valve 80 that is preferably substantially cylindrical in shape is mounted in sliding relation on the hollow stem 74 and substantially surrounds the hollow stem 74. The float valve 80 is movable between an open position and a closed position.

In the open position of the float valve 80, air can pass from the air inlet to the air outlet, thus permitting air to be supplied to a swimmer. The float valve 80 is shaped and dimensioned to fit in close fitting relation within the outer cap portion 77, to thereby cover the air inlet 71 disposed in the sidewall portion 79 of the outer cap portion 77. Accordingly, in the closed position, the float valve 80 seals off the air inlet disposed in the outer cap portion 77. Air and water are thereby precluded from passing from the air inlet to the air outlet.

Further, the float valve 80 is buoyant in water, so that the float valve 80 is biased to its closed position, as is best seen in FIG. 12, when the float valve 80 is in water. In this manner, although a swimmer must cannot receive further air and can stay under water only for a limited period of time, water is also precluded from entering the valve system 20 and therefore the snorkel 22. Accordingly, a swimmer does not need to do anything such as close his mouth or remove the snorkel 22 from his mouth when diving under the surface of the water.

The float valve 80 also includes a tray portion 82 for receiving water therein. The tray portion 82 is preferably disposed at the bottom end of the float valve 80 and is annularly disposed around the hollow stem 74. The weight of water within the tray portion 82 causes the tray portion 82 to be biased to its open position when the float valve 80 is above the water. In this manner, the float valve 80 is readily returned to its open position when a swimmer surfaces, thus allowing the swimmer to breath through the snorkel 22 and valve system 20.

There is also means for mounting the inlet valve apparatus 50 onto the top end of the snorkel 22 such that the air outlet is in fluid communication with the snorkel 22, as indicated by the general reference numeral 90, and as can be best seen in FIGS. 2 and 4. This means 90 for mounting is also used to mount the inlet valve apparatus 50 onto the floating member 40 at the top end 31 of the flexible hose member 30 of the valve system 20. As illustrated, the means for mounting 90 the inlet valve apparatus 50 comprises a slotted end portion 92 having four vertically disposed slots 94 therein. The slotted end portion 92 has exterior threads 96 and a co-operating threaded collar 98 is used to tighten the slotted end portion 92 onto the snorkel 22 or a flexible hose member 30.

In use, when a swimmer is swimming along the water's surface, the inlet valve apparatus 50 would be attached directly to the snorkel 22, as is shown in FIG. 15. The float valve 80 in the inlet valve apparatus 50 is in its open position, as can be best seen in FIG. 11, due to the force of gravity. When a swimmer inhales, the buoyant float valve 80 is in its open postion, and air can travel through the inlet valve apparatus 50, as indicated by arrows “A” in FIG. 11. When a swimmer submerges, the buoyant float valve 80 moves upwardly to its closed position, as indicated by arrow “B” in FIG. 12, thereby sealing off the air inlet 71 in the outer cap portion 77 of the snorkel cap 70, and thus precluding water from entering the snorkel 22.

In use, when a swimmer is swimming below the water level and cannot use a conventional snorkel 22, even with the inlet valve apparatus 50 attached directly to the snorkel 22, a swimmer can use the entire valve system 20, as is shown in FIG. 1. The floating member 40 keeps the inlet valve apparatus 50 above the surface of the water. The float valve 80 in the inlet valve apparatus 50 is in its open position, as can be best seen in FIG. 11, due to the force of gravity. When a swimmer inhales, the air-pressure-operated valve means 68 in the diverter valve apparatus 60 permits air to travel from the inlet valve apparatus 50, through the hose, through the diverter valve apparatus 60 and to the snorkel 22, as indicated by arrows “C” in FIG. 13. When a swimmer exhales, the air-pressure-operated valve means 68 in the diverter valve causes the exhaled air to travel from the air outlet 64 of the diverter valve to the expired-air outlet 66 of the diverter valve, and into the surrounding water, as indicated by arrows “D” in FIG. 14.

In the event that a swimmer submerges too deep, the buoyant float valve 80 moves upwardly to its closed position, as can be best seen in FIG. 12, thereby sealing off the air inlet 71 in the outer cap portion 77 of the snorkel cap 70, and thus precluding water from entering the flexible hose member 30 and therefore the snorkel 22.

As can be understood from the above description and from the accompanying drawings, the present invention provides an inlet valve apparatus for use with a snorkel, which inlet valve apparatus permits a swimmer to dive below the surface of the water without inhaling water through the snorkel, and a valve system for use with the snorkel, which valve system permits a swimmer to swim under water while using the snorkel, all of which features are unknown in the prior art.

Other variations of the above principles will be apparent to those who are knowledgeable in the field of the invention, and such variations are considered to be within the scope of the present invention. Further, other modifications and alterations may be used in the design and manufacture of the inlet valve apparatus and valve system for us with a snorkel, according to the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the accompanying claims.





 
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