Title:
Headlight lens cleaning apparatus and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A headlight lens cleaning tool includes an internal cleaning pad and an external guider. The internal cleaning pad is configured to clean the interior surface of a sealed beam headlight lens without requiring removal of the headlight assembly from a vehicle or disassembly of the headlight assembly. The internal cleaning pad can be inserted into the headlight assembly by way of a headlamp bulb socket opening, and can include a core that is capable of being attracted by a magnetic field and a pliable covering to wipe clean the interior surface of the headlight lens. The external guider can include a permanent magnet, and can be placed against the exterior surface of the headlight lens in order to retain the cleaning pad against the interior surface and move the cleaning pad about the interior surface of the headlight lens to clean the interior surface of the headlight lens.



Inventors:
Shevala, Michael (Harrison Township, MI, US)
Reale, Anthony (Riverview, MI, US)
Meitzler, Robert (Roseville, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/138437
Publication Date:
11/30/2006
Filing Date:
05/27/2005
Assignee:
SPX Corporation
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L1/09
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Primary Examiner:
GUIDOTTI, LAURA COLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BakerHostetler (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A vehicle headlight lens cleaning device, comprising: a cleaning pad configured to be inserted into a headlight assembly through a headlamp bulb socket; and a guider configured to mate with an exterior surface of a headlight lens; wherein one of the cleaning pad and the guider includes a magnet configured to create a first magnetic field, and the other of the cleaning pad and the guider includes a material that is capable of being attracted by the first magnetic field.

2. The cleaning device of claim 1, wherein the magnet further comprises at least one magnet chosen from the following: a ferromagnet, a composite magnet, a plastic magnet and an electromagnet.

3. The cleaning device of claim 1, wherein the material further is configured to create a second magnetic field.

4. The cleaning device of claim 1, wherein the guider is configured to actuate the cleaning pad by way of a magnetic force in order to wipe an interior surface of the headlight lens.

5. The cleaning device of claim 1, wherein the cleaning pad further comprises: a core; and a pliable covering configured to overlie at least a surface of the core.

6. The cleaning device of claim 5, wherein the core comprises the magnet.

7. The cleaning device of claim 5, wherein the core comprises the material.

8. The cleaning device of claim 5, wherein the pliable covering comprises at least one covering chosen from the following: a substantially lint-free cloth, a substantially lint-free felt, and a foam rubber.

9. The cleaning device of claim 5, wherein the pliable covering is configured to facilitate removal of the pliable covering from the core and installation of a new pliable covering on the core.

10. The cleaning device of claim 1, wherein the cleaning pad is a generally circular shape in a cross-sectional plane.

11. The cleaning device of claim 1, wherein the cleaning pad is an generally elongated oval shape in a cross-sectional plane.

12. The cleaning device of claim 1, wherein the cleaning pad includes a plurality of appendages configured to conform to an interior contour of the headlight lens and an associated reflector in order to brush an interior corner of the headlight assembly.

13. The cleaning device of claim 1, wherein the guider includes: a handle portion configured to allow an operator to grip the guider; a constituent coupled to the handle portion, the constituent comprising one chosen from the following: the magnet and the material; and a protective covering over an end of the guider to protect the headlight lens.

14. The cleaning device of claim 1, further comprising a cleaning pad retriever configured to remove the cleaning pad from the headlight assembly, the retriever including a permanent magnet.

15. The cleaning device of claim 14, wherein the retriever is relatively long and relatively thin, and is configured to be inserted into the headlight assembly though the headlamp bulb socket.

16. A vehicle headlight lens cleaning device, comprising: means for cleaning an interior surface of the headlight lens, the means for cleaning being configured to be inserted into a headlight assembly through a headlamp bulb socket; and means for externally actuating the means for cleaning by way of a first magnetic field; wherein one of the means for cleaning and the means for actuating includes means for creating the first magnetic field, and the other of the means for cleaning and the means for actuating includes a material that includes means for being attracted by the first magnetic field.

17. The cleaning device of claim 16, wherein the means for cleaning further includes: core means for structurally supporting the means for cleaning; and pliable means for covering the means for supporting, the pliable means for covering further comprising means for wiping.

18. The cleaning device of claim 16, wherein the means for actuating further includes: means for gripping the means for actuating; and means for protecting the headlight lens.

19. The cleaning device of claim 16, further comprising means for retrieving the means for cleaning from the headlight assembly, the means for retrieving including one chosen from the following: means for being attracted by the first magnetic field and means for creating a second magnetic field.

20. A method of cleaning a vehicle headlight lens, the steps comprising: inserting a cleaning pad that includes a core capable of being attracted by a magnetic field into a headlight assembly through a headlamp bulb socket; actuating the cleaning pad from outside the headlight assembly by way of the magnetic field; and guiding the cleaning pad in order to wipe an interior surface of the headlight lens.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to vehicle maintenance. More particularly, the present invention relates to a cleaning tool for cleaning the interior surface of a sealed beam vehicle headlight lens.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Sealed beam headlights have become virtually universal on modern vehicles. Sealed beam headlights generally incorporate a sealed headlight assembly; nevertheless, over time lamp outgassing can occur and fine dust and debris can enter the sealed assembly, forming a film of cloudy buildup over the interior surface of the headlight lens and causing the lens to become blurry and discolored. This condition can reduce visibility during night driving and can pose a potential safety hazard.

However, cleaning the interior surface of a sealed beam headlight lens can require a relatively difficult procedure. Typically, the headlight assembly must be removed from the vehicle, and the headlight assembly must be disassembled. Disassembly may require heating the headlight assembly to weaken the bond of a sealing agent between the headlight lens and reflector. In addition, many headlight assemblies include small tangs, or tabs, that must be pried away from the exterior of the headlight assembly in order to separate the headlight lens from the headlight reflector assembly. These tabs can be easily damaged during disassembly, requiring replacement of the headlight assembly or certain components of the headlight assembly. Other sealed beam headlights may not be configured to permit disassembly, and can require alternative, non-approved methods for reassembly.

Accordingly, it is desirable to provide a method and apparatus to permit cleaning the interior surface of a vehicle sealed beam headlight lens without requiring removal of the headlight assembly from the vehicle or disassembly of the headlight assembly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The foregoing needs are met, to a great extent, by the present invention, wherein in one aspect an apparatus is provided that in some embodiments facilitates cleaning the interior surface of a vehicle sealed beam headlight lens without requiring removal of the headlight assembly from the vehicle or disassembly of the headlight assembly.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a vehicle headlight lens cleaning device can include a cleaning pad configured to be inserted into a headlight assembly through a headlamp bulb socket and a guider configured to mate with an exterior surface of a headlight lens. In addition, either the cleaning pad or the guider can include a magnet configured to create a first magnetic field, and the other can include a material that is capable of being attracted by the first magnetic field.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a vehicle headlight lens cleaning device can include means for wiping an interior surface of a headlight lens, and the means for wiping can include a core capable of being attracted by a magnetic field. In addition, the means for wiping can be configured to be inserted into a headlight assembly through a headlamp bulb socket. Furthermore, the cleaning device can include magnetic means for externally actuating the means for wiping.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, a method of cleaning a vehicle headlight lens without disassembling the headlight lens from a headlight assembly can include the step of inserting a cleaning pad that includes a core capable of being attracted by a magnetic field into the headlight assembly through a headlamp bulb socket. In addition, the method can include the steps of actuating the cleaning pad from outside the headlight assembly by way of the magnetic field and guiding the cleaning pad in order to wipe an interior surface of the headlight lens.

There has thus been outlined, rather broadly, certain embodiments of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof herein may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are, of course, additional embodiments of the invention that will be described below and which will form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto.

In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of embodiments in addition to those described and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein, as well as the abstract, are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

As such, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception upon which this disclosure is based may readily be utilized as a basis for the designing of other structures, methods and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side cutaway view of a headlight assembly and a headlight lens cleaning tool according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating an external guider of a type that is compatible with the headlight lens cleaner of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of an internal cleaning pad having a generally circular shape that is compatible with the headlight lens cleaner of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of an internal cleaning pad having a generally circular shape with brush appendages that is compatible with the headlight lens cleaner of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a plan view of an internal cleaning pad having a generally oval shape that is compatible with the headlight lens cleaner of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a side view of a cleaning pad retriever that can be used to remove an internal cleaning pad from a headlight assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An embodiment in accordance with the present invention provides a vehicle headlight lens cleaning device that includes an internal cleaning pad and an external guider. The internal cleaning pad can be inserted into a sealed beam headlight through a headlamp bulb socket opening, and the external guider can be used to retain the internal cleaning pad against an interior surface of the headlight lens and to move the internal cleaning pad by way of a magnetic force in order to wipe clean the interior surface of the headlight lens.

Thus, the headlight lens cleaning device can allow the headlight lens to be cleaned without removing the headlight assembly from the vehicle and without disassembling the headlight assembly. In addition, the headlight lens cleaning device can have additional vehicle and household applications where cleaning of difficult-to-reach areas or surfaces is desired. The invention will now be described with reference to the drawing figures, in which like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout.

An embodiment of the present inventive apparatus and method is illustrated in FIG. 1. The exemplary headlight lens cleaning tool 10 of FIG. 1 includes an internal cleaning pad 12 and an external guider 14. The internal cleaning pad 12 is inserted into a sealed beam headlight assembly 16 by way of a headlamp bulb socket opening 18. The cleaning pad 12 is retained against the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22 by way of a magnetic force resulting from a magnetic field surrounding a tip of the external guider 14, which is placed against an exterior surface 24 of headlight lens 22.

The headlight lens cleaning tool 10 can include an external guider, such as the representative external guider 14, shown in FIG. 2. The guider 14 can include a handle portion 28, a magnet 30 coupled to the handle portion 28, and a protective covering 32 at one end of the guider 14. The handle portion 28 of one embodiment can include a cylindrical casing made of plastic, as shown in FIG. 2. However, alternative embodiments can include a handle portion 28 made of any suitable material in any suitable shape to facilitate an operator holding or gripping the guider 14. For example, in some embodiments the handle portion 28 can include a square cross-section or a contoured handle shape, and can be made of a metal, wood, a composite material, or the like. Furthermore, in various embodiments, the handle portion 28 can be solid, partially solid and partially hollow, or hollow.

The representative magnet 30 of FIG. 2, which is attached to the handle portion 28 of the guider 14, can in some embodiments be inserted into an end 34 of the handle portion 28 such that the magnet 30 protrudes from the guider 14. The magnet 30 can be adhered or fastened to the handle portion 28 by any suitable means, including an adhesive glue, screws, rivets, pins, or an interference fit. In various embodiments, the magnet 30 can be a permanent magnet, including for example, a ferromagnetic material, a composite magnetic material or a plastic magnetic material; or, the magnet 30 can be an electromagnet. Nevertheless, alternative embodiments of the headlight lens cleaning tool 10 can include any suitable magnet coupled to the guider 14.

In addition, a protective covering 32 can be placed over the magnet 30, or over the end 34 of the guider 14, in order to protect the exterior surface 24 of the headlight lens 22 (see FIG. 1). In one embodiment the protective covering 32 can include a felt material. However, other embodiments can include any suitable protective covering material, such as cloth, foam rubber, soft plastic, or the like. In operation, the protective covering 32 allows the guider 14 to be placed against the exterior surface 24 of the headlight lens 22 and moved about the exterior surface 24 without scratching or damaging the exterior surface 24 of the headlight lens 22, which commonly can be made from an acrylic-type plastic material.

Furthermore, the headlight lens cleaning tool 10 can include an internal cleaning pad, such as the representative cleaning pad 12 shown in FIG. 3. In general, the cleaning pad 12 can be shaped and sized so as to fit through a headlamp socket opening 18. In one embodiment, the cleaning pad 12 can be thin, for example, less than ¼ inch thick, in one dimension in order to fit into tight areas. The cleaning pad 12 can include, for example, an internal core 36 made from a material that is capable of being attracted by a magnetic field. The cleaning pad core 36 can be made from a ferromagnetic material, such as an iron based metal, that is not permanently magnetized. For example, an embodiment of the headlight cleaning tool 10 can include a cleaning pad core 36 that is a common steel washer.

In embodiments that include a cleaning pad core 36 that is not permanently magnetized, the core 36 of the cleaning pad 12 is temporarily magnetized by the magnetic field of the magnet 30 (see FIG. 2) of the guider 14. Other embodiments of the cleaning pad 12 can include a permanent magnetic core 36 made from a ferromagnetic material, a composite magnetic material, a plastic magnetic material, or the like. However, alternative embodiments can include a cleaning pad core 36 made from any suitable material that can be attracted to a magnetic field.

Additionally, the cleaning pad 12 can include a nonabrasive pliable covering 38, as shown in FIG. 3. The pliable covering 38 can enclose the cleaning pad core 36 or cover one or more surfaces of the core 36. The pliable covering 38 can protect the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22 (see FIG. 1) from scratching or abrasive damage as the surface of the cleaning pad 12 passes over the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22. The pliable covering 38 also can clean or wipe clean the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22 as it passes over the interior surface 20.

In one embodiment, the pliable covering 38 can be made from a lint-free felt material, which can clean and polish the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22, including areas of the interior surface 20 that have minor irregularities. However, alternative embodiments can include a pliable covering 38 made from any suitable material, such as lint-free cloth, foam rubber, or the like.

An alternative embodiment of the cleaning pad 12, such as the representative cleaning pad 12 illustrated in FIG. 4, also can include a substantially round core 36 that is capable of being attracted by a magnetic field. However, this alternative embodiment can include a pliable covering 38 that is generally round in shape, but can include separate segmented appendages 40 around the outer circumference of the pliable covering 38. The separate segments 40 act as bristles of a brush as the cleaning pad 12 is moved about the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22. Thus, the separate segments 40 can reach into corners, complex contours or irregular surfaces in order to clean areas of the headlight lens 22 and nearby surfaces of the reflector assembly 26 that can be difficult to reach with a pliable covering 38.

An additional embodiment can include the separate segmented appendages 40, but the appendages 40 can be folded away from the face of the cleaning pad 12 that contacts the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22 in order to clean adjacent surfaces, such as the attached reflector assembly 26. Once again, although one embodiment can include a pliable covering 38 with segmented appendages 40 made from a lint-free felt material 30, other embodiments can include any suitable material for a pliable covering 38 with segmented appendages 40, including lint-free cloth, foam rubber, or the like.

Yet another alternative embodiment of a cleaning pad 12 suitable for use with the headlight lens cleaning tool 10 is shown in FIG. 5. This embodiment can include a cleaning pad core 36 of an elongated, substantially oval shape enclosed by a pliable covering 38 with an elongated, substantially oval shape. As in the previous embodiments, this embodiment can include a core 36 made of a ferromagnetic material that is not permanently magnetized; nevertheless, other embodiments can include any suitable material that is capable of being attracted by a magnetic field. Likewise, an embodiment can include a substantially oval-shaped pliable covering 38 made from a lint-free felt material, but other embodiments can include a substantially oval-shaped pliable covering 38 made of any suitable material, including a lint-free cloth material, a foam rubber material, or the like.

Moreover, various embodiments of the cleaning pad 12 can include two or more materials to form a pliable covering 38. For example, an embodiment of a pliable covering 12 can include a lint-free felt material over one surface of the core 36 and a foam rubber material over the opposite surface of the core 36. Other embodiments can include any combination of suitable materials to form an aggregate pliable covering 38, including lint-free felt material, lint-free cloth material, foam rubber material, or the like.

In operation the cleaning pad 12 can be inserted into a headlight assembly 16 and guided about the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22 using a magnetic guider 14. That is, the external guider 14 can be moved around the exterior surface 24 of the headlight lens 22 in order to actuate, or move, the cleaning pad 12 and wipe clean the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22. In addition, the cleaning pad can be brushed against a corner where the headlight lens 22 meets a reflector assembly 26 in order to clean the edges of the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22 and the adjoining surface of the reflector assembly 26.

In an embodiment of the headlight lens cleaning tool 10, the cleaning pad 12 is inserted into the headlight assembly 16 and used to wipe clean the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22 without the aid of any cleaning agent. This dry configuration of the headlight lens cleaning tool 10 has the advantage that no chemical residue resulting from a cleaning agent can be left inside the headlight assembly 16. However, alternative embodiments of the headlight lens cleaning tool 10 can include the use of a cleaning agent in combination with the cleaning pad 12 to clean the interior surface 20 of the headlight lens 22.

In addition, some embodiments of the cleaning pad 12 can be disposable, that is, the cleaning pad 12 can be thrown away and replaced when the cleaning pad 12 becomes soiled or worn. In other embodiments, the pliable covering 38 can be configured to be replaceable, so that the pliable covering 38 can be removed and replaced when the cleaning pad 12 becomes soiled or worn.

The headlight lens cleaning tool 10 can also include a cleaning pad retriever, such as the representative cleaning pad retriever 42 shown in FIG. 6. An embodiment of the cleaning pad retriever 42 can include a handle portion 44 in order to facilitate an operator holding or gripping the retriever 42. For example, the handle portion 44 of the cleaning pad retriever 42 can include a machined knurl surface. In addition, the cleaning pad retriever 42 can be relatively long and relatively slender in shape, so as to facilitate the insertion of the receiver 42 into the headlight assembly 16 by way of the headlamp bulb socket opening 18.

The cleaning pad retriever 42 can further include a permanent magnet 46. In some embodiments, the permanent magnet 46 can be located at one end of the retriever 42. In another embodiment the entire cleaning pad retriever 42 can be composed of a magnetic material. In yet another embodiment, the permanent magnet 46 can be made from a ferromagnetic material that is permanently magnetized. However, other embodiments can include any suitable permanent magnet, including a composite magnetic material, a plastic magnetic material, or the like.

In operation, the cleaning pad retriever 42 can be inserted into the headlight assembly 16 through the headlamp bulb socket opening 18 in order to retrieve the cleaning pad 12 (see FIG. 1). In this way, the cleaning pad 12 can be “fished out” from the headlight assembly 16 without requiring disassembly of the headlight assembly 16 or removal of the headlight assembly 16 from a vehicle.

The many features and advantages of the invention are apparent from the detailed specification, and thus, it is intended by the appended claims to cover all such features and advantages of the invention which fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and variations will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation illustrated and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.





 
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