Title:
Wire dispenser with frictional drag
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable wire dispenser is provided having an adjustable frictional drag to prevent overspinning of the spool or spools carried by the dispenser. One or more frictional collars are carried by the same shaft that carries the wire spool or spools. The frictional collar engages the side of one or both hubs of each wire spool. Each frictional collar preferably carries a wavespring on one or both faces of the collar. The wavespring allows the use of adjustable frictional drag applied to the hubs of each spool.



Inventors:
Miller, Will (Tujunga, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/157757
Publication Date:
01/05/2006
Filing Date:
06/21/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
242/423.2, 242/129.8
International Classes:
B65H59/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
KIM, SANG K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Bruce H. Johnsonbaugh (San Francisco, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A portable wire dispenser having frictional drag to prevent overspinning of one or more wire spools as wire is pulled off said spools, comprising: at least one wire spool, said spool having first and second hubs; a shaft carrying said spool or spools, and frictional collar means carried by said shaft and adapted to frictionally engage one or both of said hubs to prevent overspinning of said spool as wire carried by said spool is pulled off said spool.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising connecting means for removably attaching said frictional collar means to said shaft.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said frictional collar carries a wavespring wherein said wavespring is adapted to frictionally engage one of said hubs.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein two spools are carried by said shaft and are interleaved between three friction collars.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the frictional drag on said two spools is independently adjustable.

6. A portable wire dispenser carrying a plurality of wire spools and having independent and independently adjustable frictional drag applied to each of said spools, comprising: a plurality of wire spools, each spool having first and second hubs, a shaft carrying said plurality of spools, a plurality of friction collar means wherein said wire spools are interleaved between said friction collar means, said friction collar means each carrying a wavespring adapted to frictionally engage one of said hubs, and connector means for removably attaching each of said friction collars to said shaft.

7. In a portable wire dispenser having one or more wire spools carried by a shaft, wherein each of said wire spools has first and second hubs, the improvement comprising: frictional collar means adapted to be carried by said shaft and adapted to frictionally engage one or both of said hubs to prevent overspinning of said spools as wire carried by said spools is pulled off said spools.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of and priority from U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/584,914 filed on Jul. 1, 2004.

BACKGROUND AND BRIEF SUMMARY

The present invention relates generally to wire dispensers used by electricians, for example. More particularly, the present invention provides an inexpensive and adjustable frictional drag that prevents overspinning of wire as the wire is pulled off a rotating spool.

The prior art includes complicated wire feeding devices for use in automatic welding machines (U.S. Pat. No. 5,810,283). Complex braking mechanisms are also known to prevent binding or overspinning (U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,819,127; 3,796,392 and 4,124,176). The prior art also includes devices for rotatably mounting a spool of wire used by electricians (U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,548,368; 5,222,683; 6,086,013 and 6,523,777). Those devices either have no frictional drag or utilize a guide slot to frictionally engage the wire strand or a transverse rod to frictionally engage the outer circumference of the wire spool hub. The frictional engagement between the strand of wire and guide slot requires expensive and cumbersome equipment and the user must thread the wire strand through the guide slot. These devices do not lend themselves to the use of wire spools having flanges or hubs of different diameters.

There is a need for an inexpensive, easily used wire dispenser for electricians and others having a drag mechanism which prevents overspinning, allows the user to pull two or more sizes of wire from a single dispenser, does not require the use of special spools and does not require the user to thread the wire through a guide slot.

The present invention satisfies that need by providing a frictional collar that is preferably adjustable and engages the side of the spool, rather than the wire strand or the circumference of the spool. Two or more spools of different sizes may be mounted on the same shaft and one or more frictional collars of the present invention will create the desired drag on multiple spools simultaneously. The frictional collar is inexpensive, easy to use and quickly installed. It may be retrofitted onto existing wire caddies.

A primary object is to provide a portable wire dispenser for use by electricians (and other) which prevents overspinning by creating a frictional drag on the side of the wire spool.

A further object is to provide a wire dispenser which carries wire spools of different sizes and with wire of different thicknesses.

Another object is to provide a wire dispenser capable of handling multiple wire spools with independently adjustable drag on each separate spool.

A further object is to provide a frictional collar than can be retrofitted onto most existing wire caddies.

Further objects and advantages will become apparent from the following description and drawings, wherein:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2A is a front elevational view of the friction collar means utilizes in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 2B is a side elevational view of the friction collar shown in FIG. 2A;

FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of an alternate embodiment of the friction collar means;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of a further embodiment of the frictional collar means;

FIG. 5A is a front elevational view of a further embodiment of a frictional collar means;

FIG. 5B is yet another embodiment of a frictional collar means for use with the invention;

FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of an alternate embodiment of the invention showing multiple and different sized wire spools in use; and

FIG. 7 is a schematic representation showing the independent adjustability of the frictional drag.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view showing one embodiment of the invention. A spool of electrical, single conductor wire is shown as 20 and is carried by a conventional wire caddy 40. Only a portion of wire caddy 40 is shown in FIG. 1 for clarity. Wire caddy 40 can be of various designs known, such as shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,548,368 and/or 5,222,683. A vertical frame member 41 is commonly made of steel rod and is welded to a horizontal foot 42. Foot 42 is typically placed on the ground or floor (not shown) at a job site.

A horizontal spool carrying shaft 44 is welded to frame member 41 at their intersection 45.

Spool 20 has first and second hubs 21 and 22 and carries a length of either single conductor or multi-conductor wire 30. The free end 31 of wire 30 is pulled off spool 20 as needed.

The friction collar means 50 of the present invention includes a body 51, a passageway 52 that slidably engages shaft 44, and a connector means 60. Connector means 60 as shown in FIG. 1 is a bolt which threads through one side of body 51 and is tightened against shaft 44.

As shown in FIG. 1, as the free end 31 of wire 30 is pulled off spool 20, hub 21 frictionally engages frame member 41 and hub 22 frictionally engages friction collar means 50. The strength of the drag caused by friction collar means 50 on spool 20 varies with the axial force 70 applied by the user to friction collar means 50 as connector means 60 is tightened. Alternatively, two friction collars will be utilized, one on either side of spool 20, to avoid friction between frame 41 and spool 20.

FIG. 2A is a front elevational view of one embodiment of friction collar means 50 of FIG. 1. Body 51 is aluminum, and has a passageway 52 that slidably engages shaft 44. Connector means 60 is a bolt 61 which threads into threaded passageway 62 in body 51. FIG. 2B is a side elevational of the collar means 50 of FIG. 2A.

FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of an alternate frictional collar means 150. Grooves 155 and 156 are formed in the face 158 of body 151 that bears against hub 22 of spool 20 shown in FIG. 1. Grooves 155 and 156 increase the friction between collar 150 and spool 20.

FIG. 4 illustrates another embodiment of friction collar means 250 wherein a layer of frictional material 280, such as ceramic materials used on brake pads, for example, is carried by face 258 of body 251.

FIG. 5A illustrates a preferred embodiment of friction collar means 350 wherein a wave spring 390 is carried by face 358. Wave spring 390 applies a constant axial force and a constant frictional drag to wire spool 20. A layer of frictional material 380 is optionally carried by wave spring 390 as shown in FIG. 5B.

FIG. 6 illustrates how the frictional collar means 50 may be used in conjunction with two or more spools of wire.

On one side of member 41 a friction collar 450 is attached to shaft 44 adjacent member 41. Wire spool 420 is slid onto shaft 44 and adjacent collar 450. Collar 550 is slid onto shaft 44, appropriate axial pressure is applied and collar 550 is tightened. Wire spool 520 is slid onto shaft 44 and then collar 650 is slid onto shaft 44, axial pressure applied and collar 650 is tightened onto shaft 44. Wire on spools 420 and 520 can now be fed simultaneously if desired, and there will be no overspinning! Spools 420 and 520 each have a friction collar bearing against each hub. This feature allows the use of greater drag on spool 420 than on spool 520, if desired. Friction collars 450, 550 and 650 prevent axial drifting or motion of wire spools 420 and 520.

Alternately, spools 620 and 720 can be slid onto shaft 44 with spool 620 frictionally engaging member 41 and spool 720 frictionally engaging spool 620. Collar 750 is now slid onto shaft 44, axial pressure applied and collar 750 tightened onto shaft 44. Spools 620 and 720 now both have frictional drag from a single collar 750. Both spools 620 and 720 will turn when wire is pulled off either spool. If the user only wants wire from spool 620, and no wire from spool 720, he simply takes the free end of the wire from spool 720 and attaches it to one of the hubs of spool 720. Spool 720 will rotate with spool 620, but no wire will come off spool 720.

Connectors other than standard bolts may be utilized for connector means 60, for example, Allen screws or thumbscrews.

FIG. 7 illustrates how friction collars 850, 950 and 1050 create independently adjustable frictional drag on wire spools 820 and 920. Spools 820 and 920 are “interleaved” between collars 850, 950 and 1050. The term “interleaving,” as used herein and in the claims, means an alternating array of friction collars and spools so that no two adjacent spools frictionally engage each other and that a friction collar is placed at each end of a plurality of spools. Each of frictional collars 850, 950 and 1050 uses the wavespring design shown in FIG. 5A. The user first loads collar 850 onto shaft 44 and tightens connector means 860 securely to shaft 44. Spool 820 and collar 950 are then slid onto shaft 44. The user then applies an axial force F1 to collar 950 as connector means 960 is tightened. Force F1 is transmitted by wavesprings 890 and 990 to hubs 821 and 822. Spool 920 and collar 1050 are then slid onto shaft 44. A different, larger axial force F2 is applied to hub 922 by pressing collar 1050 in the direction toward the center of spool 920 as shown by arrows F2 Connector means 1060 is tightened securely to shaft 44 as axial force F2 is applied. The result is that the larger spool 920 has a larger frictional drag F2 applied to it than the drag F1 applied to spool 820. The amount of drag applied to each spool (820 and 920) is independent and independently adjustable. Pulling wire off spool 920 will not cause spool 820 to spin. Spools 820 and 920 are held in place axially on shaft 44 and cannot drift or slide on shaft 44. Spools 820 and 920 may be of different sizes and carry wire of different thicknesses. More than two spools of wire can be loaded on shaft 44.

As noted above, the friction collars described herein can be retrofitted onto existing wire caddies. Furthermore, each friction collar may carry one or two wavesprings.

The foregoing description of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description and is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The embodiments were chosen and described to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best use the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications suited to the particular use contemplated. The scope of the invention is to be defined by the following claims.