Title:
System and device for redirection of air flow over a snow plow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An air flow redirection device for a snow plow assembly mounted on a vehicle comprises an air flow guide member mounted on the mounting assembly for a snow plow blade mounted relative and superior to the snow plow blade. The guide member is positioned to redirect air from and above the snow plow blade down toward a radiator of a motor vehicle. Air flow guide member includes an upward-extending air-engaging front foil, a downward extending rear foil, and an intermediate panel extending between the upward extending air engaging front foil and the downward extending rear foil, all components being integral. Bracket members mount the air flow guide member independent of the snow plow blade such that the orientation of the air flow guide member is independent of motion of the snow plow blade. Other features include transparent guide members and pivotal mounting bracket assemblies.



Inventors:
Watros, Mark (Lansing, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/302222
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
12/14/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01H5/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BEACH, THOMAS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DICKINSON WRIGHT PLLC (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
The claimed invention is:

1. A device for the redirection of air flow configured to mount on a front-mounted vehicle snow plow assembly, said device mounted relative and superior to a snow plow blade and operable for directing air toward a radiator, said device comprising: an air flow guide member; at least one bracket assembly to connect said air flow guide member to said snow plow assembly; and said air flow guide member having an upward extending air engaging wall at a fore end of said airflow deflector, a downward extending air outlet at an aft end of said airflow deflector, and an intermediate transition wall extending between the upward extending air engaging wall and the downward extending air outlet, all walls being integral and all for directing air toward the radiator of the motor vehicle.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein said at least one bracket assembly is mountable to allow mounting said air flow guide member superior to an upper surface of the snow plow blade.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein said at least one bracket assembly is a pivotal mount.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein said at least one mounting bracket is attached to said pair of laterally spaced upright support arms, each having a first end secured to the plow attachment means and a second end attached to said air flow guide member at spaced locations.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein at least one mounting bracket comprises a pair of laterally spaced upright support pieces and a pair of mounting arms attached at opposing ends of said upright support pieces, a first mounting arm secured to the snow plow blade attachment mechanism and a second mounting arm attached to said air flow guide member at spaced locations; and positioning means for releasably fixing the orientation of said air flow guide member relative to the snow plow blade.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein said air flow guide member is substantially transparent.

7. The device of claim 1, further comprising a flap member attached to said aft end of said airflow guide member.

8. The device of claim 7, wherein said flap member is made of a substantially pliable material.

9. The device of claim 1, wherein said airflow guide member comprises a plurality of hole placements to allow variable attachment points of the at least one bracket assembly.

10. A kit for the redirection of air flow configured for mounting on a snow plow assembly mounted onto the front of a motor vehicle having a radiator, said device mounted relative and superior to a snow plow blade and operable for directing air toward the radiator, said kit comprising: an air flow guide member; at least one bracket assembly to connect said air flow guide member to said snow plow assembly; and said air flow guide member including a forward, upward extending air engaging wall, a downward extending air outlet at an aft end of said airflow deflector for directing air toward the radiator of the motor vehicle, and an intermediate transition wall extending between the foreword, upward extending air engaging wall and the downward extending air outlet, all walls being integral.

11. A method to redirect airflow from above a snow plow assembly on a vehicle having a motor and a radiator, using a device having an air flow guide member including a forward, upward extending air engaging wall, a downward extending air outlet at an aft end of said airflow deflector for directing air toward the radiator of the motor vehicle, and an intermediate transition wall extending between the foreword, upward extending air engaging wall and the downward extending air outlet, all walls being integral, mounted relative and superior to a snow plow blade by means of at least one bracket assembly to connect said air flow guide member to said snow plow assembly and operable for directing air toward the radiator, said steps comprising: positioning said device relative and superior to said snow plow assembly; attaching a flap member made from a flexible flat piece of rubber or like material to said aft end of said air outlet; and attaching said flap member to the fore end of said vehicle by fixing said flap member between a hood and a frame member of vehicle.

12. The method of claim 12, wherein said airflow guide member is substantially transparent.

Description:

CLAIM OF PRIORITY

This Application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/655,438, filed Feb. 24, 2005, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to air flow redirection for motor vehicles, and more particularly, to a system and device for airflow redirection mounted relative to a snow plow blade supported by a motor vehicle to direct air flow towards a vehicle radiator.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Snow plow blades are commonly mounted on the front of motor vehicles, such as a truck or an SUV. Although front mounting of the snow plow blade has many obvious advantages when plowing snow, it has a major drawback when non-deployed, such as when being carried in a non-plowing or transport position. In this non-deployed position, the snow plow blade is typically raised from the surface, but still aligned in front of the vehicle. This placement may block air flow to a vehicle radiator. Since air flow through the radiator is necessary to cool coolant flowing through its coils, blockage of air flow may cause the vehicle to overheat, particularly on warmer days or after heavy use. Overheating of the motor vehicle can result in disabling the vehicle and/or damage to its internal parts. Certain vehicles, such as trucks, may have radiators located in a relatively low position in front of the vehicle. This may compound air flow problems associated with a non-deployed snow plow. Here, there is a greater need for redirecting air flow to assist in cooling.

Air flow deflectors have been devised in the art to reduce the air drag flowing against frontal surfaces of a vehicle carrying a snow plow blade or to redirect airflow. However, these deflectors are often ineffective in providing sufficient air flow to the vehicle's radiator, are complex in construction, difficult to use and expensive to manufacture and maintain. Further, although there have been attempts to reduce the profile of such devices, they further increase obstruction to a driver's view caused by the snow plow blade itself.

It would be highly advantageous for such air deflectors to be transparent, as the height of the plow obscures the view of the driver in the lowered (plowing) position and in the raised (non-deployed) position. Because such structurally durable clear polymers are expensive, it is preferred to make the device as small as possible, without sacrificing efficacy. Further, transparent materials known in the art tend to be brittle, particularly in colder temperatures. Therefore, it would also be advantageous to reduce the stresses on the material, thereby allowing for thinner panels and thus less material and less expense.

Specifically, U.S. Pat. No. 5,544,434 to Calvachio, Jr. and U.S. Pat. No. 4,587,750 to Larson are air flow deflectors to direct airflow over the top of the snow plow blade and into the vehicle radiator. These devices basically constitute pivotable flat deflector panels mounted directly on top of the plow blade itself. The air flow encounters the devices' flat surfaces and is deflected down past the plow blade. The force of the air flow against the flat surface tends to separate the deflector from the plow blade.

Another type of air deflector configuration is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,035,560 to Pender and U.S. Pat. No. 4,896,915 to Morandi et al. The Pender patent discloses a generally rectangular deflector housing having a “peak.” The Morandi patent discloses a “funnel shaped” enclosed deflector housing.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,309,653 to Pease et al., U.S. Pat. No. 3,368,947 to Peitl, and U.S. Pat. No. 2,085,996 to Phillips, disclose arcuate snow deflectors for directing the snow blown over a snowplow blade downward back to the road surface, away from the vehicle operator's line of vision, and to cause air to flow downward from the top of the blade. The foils are generally curved from the leading edge to the trailing edge above a snowplow for the purpose of capturing and controlling the snow particles coming over the top of the moldboard, i.e., the curved plate of the plow. The foils deflect the snow particles and air from an upward direction to a downward direction as the snow particles and air are passing over and through the foil. These patents recognize that drivers of snow plow vehicles may experience great difficulty in visibility from snow blown over the moldboard and onto the windshield, often completely covering the windshield and thereby obstructing the driver's vision. Further, snow is often blown into the radiator of the automobile thereby interfering with heat transfer from coolant in the radiator.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,966,845 to DiGiacomo combines an arcuate deflector with an enclosed deflector housing and is specifically intended to capture the air stream moving up the curved face of the plow blade and direct the air to the radiator.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,881,479 to Pavey discloses an enclosed air deflector housing mounted at a top leading edge of a snow plow blade having a horizontal air intake section, a downward angled air transfer section and a horizontal air outlet section. Pavey recognizes the potential disadvantage of channeling airflow directly rearward from the center of the plow blade due to the location of the plow blade control mechanism, and provides additional air directing baffles within the housing.

It was with knowledge of the foregoing state of technology that the present invention has been conceived and is now reduced to practice. None of these known constructions employs a downward facing air intake which intercepts airflow, including airflow from the upward flow of air that develops on the front surface of the snow plow blade, then redirects the flow of air rearward toward the vehicle radiator for cooling the coolant flowing through the coils of the radiator. Further, none of these known constructions offers a redirection of airflow on a device mounted off the snow plow blade nor a device that is transparent.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to airflow redirection from a snow plow assembly mounted on a vehicle and comprises an air flow guide member mounted independent of and superior to the upper surface of a snow plow blade. The air flow guide member may have an upward extending air inlet foil, angled downward from front to back, at a fore end positioned superior to the snow plow blade to redirect air flow which, by reason of forward movement of the vehicle, rises upward along the concave surface of the snow plow blade. The air inlet foil also captures a portion of the horizontal air flow above the snow plow blade caused by the forward motion of the vehicle. Air is directed along a transition portion of the guide which slopes downward from front to back. Air may then be directed downward at the rearward air outlet foil away from the snow plow blade mounting bracket and toward a radiator of the motor vehicle. Bracket members mount the air flow guide member on the mounting bracket of the snow plow blade and position the air flow guide member relative to the snow plow blade mounting bracket and may be angularly adjustable.

A primary object of the present invention is to provide an air flow redirection device for a snow plow on a motor vehicle that will overcome the shortcomings of the prior art devices.

Another object is to provide an air flow redirection device for a snow plow on a motor vehicle that is transparent and mounted so that when the plow is in a raised or non-deployed position, the air flow redirecting device will redirect air from above the plow down behind the plow and into the radiator while not obstructing a driver's view.

Another object is to provide an air flow redirection device for a snow plow on a motor vehicle that is mounted independent of the plow blade to deflect air from above the plow blade down behind the plow blade and into the radiator.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an air flow redirection device for a snow plow on a motor vehicle that is not mounted directly on a top surface of the snow plow blade, yet will redirect sufficient air flow to the radiator of the motor vehicle to prevent the motor vehicle from overheating.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide an air flow redirection device for a snow plow mounted on a motor vehicle which is simple in construction, easy to use, and economical to manufacture and maintain.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an air flow redirection device for a snow plow mounted on a motor vehicle provided with a construction for releasably fixing its orientation relative to the snow plow blade.

Other and further features, advantages, and benefits of the invention will become apparent in the following description taken in conjunction with the following drawings. It is to be understood that the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory but are not to be restrictive of the invention. The accompanying drawings which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this invention, illustrate several of the embodiments of the invention, and together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention in general terms. Like numerals refer to like parts throughout the disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The foregoing features as well as other features will become apparent with reference to the description and figures below, in which like numerals represent like elements and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an airflow redirection assembly embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a mounting arrangement for the air flow guide member of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side view of an airflow redirection assembly embodying the present invention in use;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an airflow redirection assembly embodying the present invention having a first alternate mounting bracket assembly;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view illustrating the first configuration of a mounting bracket assembly;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an airflow redirection assembly embodying the present invention having a second alternate mounting bracket assembly;

FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view illustrating the second alternate mounting bracket assembly;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an airflow redirection assembly embodying the present invention embodying the second alternate mounting bracket assembly; and

FIG. 9. is a perspective view of an airflow redirection assembly embodying the present invention having a first configuration of a mounting bracket assembly.

ELEMENT LIST

a. Snow Plow Assembly

b. Vehicle

  • Snow Plow Blade
  • Snow Plow Attachment Means
  • Snow Plow Concave Surface
  • 27a Snow Plow Attachment Means Present Invention
  • 27b Snow Plow Attachment Means First Alternate Attachment Means
  • 27c Snow Plow Attachment Means Second Alternate Attachment Means
  • Snow Plow Upper Surface
  • Air Flow Guide Member
  • Fore End of the Air Flow Guide Member
  • Aft End of the Air Flow Guide Member
  • Upward Extending Air Inlet
  • Downward Extending Air Outlet
  • Attachment Point
  • Intermediate Transition Wall of the Guide Member
  • Grill
  • Radiator
  • Flap Member
  • Hood of the Vehicle
  • 50a Bracket Assemblies First Configuration
  • 50b Bracket Assemblies Second Alternate Configuration
  • 50c Bracket Assemblies Third Alternate Configuration
  • 52a Pair of Laterally Spaced Upright Support Arms
  • 52c Pair of Laterally Spaced Upright Support Arms Third Alternate Configuration
  • Elongated Bolts—Guide to Brackets
  • Elongated Bolts—Brackets to Plow Blade Attachment Means
  • Horizontal Support Beam
  • Elongated Bolts—Bracket Assembly to Upright Support Arm
  • Elongated Bolts—Guide to Horizontal Support Beam
  • Pair of Holes in Horizontal Support Beam
  • Elongated Bolts—Bracket Assembly to Horizontal Support Beam
  • Hole in Bracket Assembly Second Alternate Configuration
  • Curved Slot in Bracket Assembly Second Alternate Configuration
  • Curved Slots in Bracket Assembly Third Alternate Configuration
  • Elongated Bolts
  • Pair of Holes
  • Hole
  • Curved Slot in Bracket Assembly First Alternate Configuration
  • Lights
  • Plurality of mounting holes

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to air flow redirection for motor vehicles, and more particularly, to an air flow redirecting device mounted relative to a snow plow blade supported by a motor vehicle to direct air flow towards a vehicle radiator.

FIGS. 3, 8, and 9 generally illustrate a snow plow assembly 20 mounted on a vehicle 22 having a hood 48 and a radiator 44 disposed behind a grill 43. In typical fashion, snow plow assembly 20 includes a snow plow blade 24 mounted on a front end of vehicle 22 by attachment means generally indicated at 25. Various attachment means 25 are known in the art and may vary by accessory light bracket configurations, shown as light bracket 27a (FIG. 1), 27b (FIGS. 3, 4, and 9), and 27c (FIGS. 6 and 8). Snow plow blade 24 has a concave surface 26 that terminates at an upper surface 28.

In accordance with the invention, an air flow guide member 30 is illustrated in the figures mounted relative to a snow plow blade 24 in a manner described below. Air flow guide member 30 extends between a fore end 32 and an aft end 34 and is mounted independent of and superior to the upper surface 28 of snow plow blade 24 at an attachment point 40. Air flow guide member 30 includes an upward extending air inlet 36 at fore end 32 positioned superior to snow plow blade 24 to redirect air flowing over the top of snow plow blade 24. Air flow guide member 30 also includes a downward extending air outlet 38 at aft end 34 extending aft of attachment point 40 towards the front of vehicle 22 and an intermediate wall 42 intermediate air inlet 36 and air outlet 38. Intermediate wall 42 directs air flow from air inlet 36 toward air outlet 38, where it may be deflected toward grill 43 of motor vehicle 22.

Air flow guide member 30 may be made from a number of materials known in the art and consistent with good engineering practices such as metal, plastic, carbon fiber, and the like. Preferably, to allow great visibility, airflow guide member 30 is laser-cut from a sheet of clear plastic material such as a polycarbon reinforced clear polymer, such as a polycarbonate resin sheet material sold under the trade name LEXAN by General Electric of Pittsfield, Mass. Such sheet may be 0.236 inches (0.59944 mm) thick and formed into shape using methods known in the art such as by bending in a break. It is also contemplated that the device may be molded into its desired form. If air flow guide member 30 is made of metal, the device may be cut from sheet stock and bent to the desired shape.

Air flow guide member 30 is preferably twenty-four (24) inches wide (60.96 cm) (side to side) and twelve (12) inches (30.48 cm) long (fore to aft). These dimensions, with the preferred configuration, should provide sufficient air flow to radiator 44 in most non-deployed snowplow conditions while utilizing a sufficiently small amount of material to make the device cost-effective to manufacture and market. Upward extending air inlet 36 is preferably formed at a 30° angle above intermediate wall 42 and extends upward approximately one inch (5.08 cm) above intermediate wall 42 to direct air flow above snow plow blade 24 along intermediate wall 42. Downward extending air outlet 38 is preferably formed at a 15° downward angle below intermediate wall 42 and extends downward approximately 2 inches (2.54 cm) to redirect air flowing along intermediate wall 42 at a downward angle toward grill 43.

A preferred configuration of the present invention may also include an optional flap member 46 made from a flexible flat piece of rubber or like material that would attach to aft end 34 of air outlet 38 and could be attached to a fore end of vehicle 22 by attachment means such as securing it between hood 48 and frame members of vehicle 22 directly below hood 48. Flap member 46 further directs air flow into grill 43 and radiator 44 and may be easily attached or detached from vehicle 22 by closing and releasing respectively a hood latch (not shown).

As the device is open at the side and does not “channel” the air flow, the resulting flow of air toward grill 43 is sufficiently nonlaminar and of sufficiently low velocity to enter grill 43 and radiator 44 around any plow mechanism that may be mounted on the front of vehicle 22. Further, the open architecture of the device reduces the accumulation or build-up of wet snow and ice in the device (particularly compared to enclosed “channels”), reducing maintenance and improving performance of the device.

A variety of brackets may be employed for mounting air flow guide member 30 relative to upper surface 28 of snow plow blade 24. Preferably, airflow guide member 30 is attached to light accessory bracket 27(a, b, or c). As shown in FIG. 2, bracket assemblies 50a each have a pair of laterally spaced upright support arms 52a. Bracket assemblies 50a are attached to air flow guide member 30 at spaced locations by means known in the art. As shown, attachment means may be elongated bolts 54, which may be held in place through a cooperating bolt hole and lock washer/lock nut combination. Upright support arms 52a are simultaneously secured to snow plow blade attachment means 27a or c by means of elongated bolts 60 which may threadedly engage tapped bores (not shown) in the plow blade attachment means 27a or c or be held in place through a cooperating bolt hole and lock washer/lock nut combination.

In one embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4, and 5 air flow guide member 30 is mounted to a pair of light brackets 27b, which are mounted to the front end of the vehicle 22 to provide illumination over plow blade 24, which blocks the illumination provided by vehicle 22 headlights. In this embodiment, a pair of bracket assemblies—Second Alternate Configuration 50b is attached to the top of light accessory brackets 27b, but under lights 82. A horizontal support beam 62 is attached rotatably between bracket assemblies—Second Alternate Configuration 50b by means of two pairs of elongated bolts 64 held in place through a cooperating bolt hole and lock washer/lock nut combination. These elongated bolts 64 are threaded through a pair of holes 66 in the horizontal support beam 62, a hole 68 in each of the pair of bracket assemblies Second Alternate Configuration 50b, and a curved slot 70 in each of the bracket assemblies Second Alternate Configuration 50b. This attachment means allows air flow guide member 30 to be rotated relative to the ground and fixed in position until a change is desired.

As illustrated (see FIG. 2) air flow guide member 30 may include a plurality of mounting holes 84 within intermediate wall 42 of the air flow guide member 30 to allow an installer a choice to best align the aft end of the air inlet 36 in relation to the upper surface 28 of the snow plow blade 24, to fixedly maintain said air flow guide member at a selected orientation relative to said snow plow blade 24. With this construction, the orientation of the air flow guide member 30 can be selected and then maintained until it is desired to change it at a later time.

Bracket assembly 50c may optionally be attached to upright support arms 52 by means of curved slots 72 in bracket assembly Third Alternate Configuration and, for example, a pair of elongated bolts 74 held in place through a cooperating bolt hole and lock washer/lock nut combination (see, for example, FIG. 7). These elongated bolts 74 are threaded through a pair of holes 76 in each of the upright support arms 52c, a hole 78 in each of the pair of brackets 50c, and a curved slot 72 in each of the bracket assemblies Third Alternate Configuration 50c to allow the angle between the air flow guide member 30 and the ground to be adjusted, thereby increasing or decreasing the amount of air directed to the vehicle radiator.

The air flow guide member 30 and bracket assemblies 50a, b, and c are configured and positioned to reduce the magnitude of the force exerted by the air deflected by the air flow guide member 30. The primary wind force upon the air flow guide member 30 is at the air inlet panel 36, which is distributed along the sheet through the intermediate wall 42. Thus, the plastic may be less thick than would normally be predicted and thus the device more cost effective to manufacture.

While preferred embodiments of the invention have been disclosed in detail, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that various other modifications may be made to the illustrated embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention as described in the specification and defined in the appended claims.