Title:
Prop-less trolling motor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hydrodynamic propulsion trolling motor includes (a) housing adapted to rotatably receive a conduit therein, wherein the conduit includes a first end and a second end; (b) an outlet connected to the first end of the conduit; (c) an inlet for receiving water; (d) a fluid pathway connecting the inlet to the housing; and (e) a pump connected to the fluid pathway and configured to pump the water through the outlet, and wherein a plurality of rotational positions of the conduit correspond to a respective plurality of directions of expulsion of the water from the outlet. The outlet includes a chamber for receiving the water and nozzles fluidly connected thereto, wherein the nozzles are adapted to expel the water therethrough. Speed and direction controls are implemented via manual and/or electronic components. A boat having the hydrodynamic propulsion trolling motor is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Mcaleer Jr., Joseph A. (Gulf Shores, AL, US)
Druse, Don A. (Fairhope, AL, US)
Application Number:
11/600509
Publication Date:
05/17/2007
Filing Date:
11/16/2006
Assignee:
McAleer Marine Group, LLC (Foley, AL, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63H21/17
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AVILA, STEPHEN P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE WEBB LAW FIRM, P.C. (PITTSBURGH, PA, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A hydrodynamic propulsion trolling motor comprising: a housing adapted to rotatably receive a conduit therein, wherein the conduit includes a first end and a second end; an outlet connected to the first end of the conduit; an inlet for receiving water; a fluid pathway connecting the inlet to the housing; and a pump connected to the fluid pathway and configured to pump the water through the outlet, and wherein a plurality of rotational positions of the conduit correspond to a respective plurality of directions of expulsion of the water from the outlet.

2. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 1, wherein the conduit includes at least one or more openings for receiving the water therethrough.

3. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 2, wherein the openings are geometric shapes selected from the group consisting of circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, octagons, and hexagons.

4. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 1, wherein the outlet includes a chamber for receiving the water and at least one nozzle fluidly connected thereto, wherein the at least one nozzle is adapted to expel the water therethrough.

5. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 1, further comprising a handle extending from the second end of the conduit.

6. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 5, wherein the handle comprises a variable speed control electrically connected to the pump and wherein a plurality of rotational positions of the variable speed control correspond to respective speeds of the pump.

7. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 1, further comprising a foot control or a remote control operative on the pump and configured to output a signal representative of a speed thereof.

8. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 7, further comprising a motor operative on the conduit for motorized rotation thereof.

9. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 7, wherein the remote control is configured to output a signal representative of at least one of the plurality of rotational positions of the conduit.

10. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 7, wherein the remote control is wireless.

11. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 1, wherein the conduit is adapted to rotate 360 degrees within the housing.

12. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 1, wherein the inlet includes a filter.

13. The prop-less trolling motor of claim 1, further comprising one or more seals situated within the housing to prevent the water within the housing from flowing out of the housing between the housing and the conduit.

14. A boat having a hydrodynamic propulsion prop-less trolling motor comprising; a body having a waterline defined on a hull thereof; a housing secured to the hull, wherein the housing is adapted to rotatably receive a conduit therein, wherein the conduit includes a first end and a second end; an outlet connected to the first end of the conduit; an inlet for receiving water, wherein the inlet is defined on the hull, wherein the inlet and outlet are situated below the waterline; a fluid pathway connecting the inlet to the housing; and a pump secured to the body, wherein the pump is connected to the fluid pathway and configured to pump the water through the outlet, and wherein a plurality of rotational positions of the conduit correspond to a respective plurality of directions of expulsion of the water from the outlet.

15. The boat of claim 14, wherein the conduit includes at least one or more openings for receiving the water therethrough.

16. The boat of claim 14, wherein the outlet includes a chamber for receiving the water and at least one nozzle fluidly connected thereto, wherein the nozzle is adapted to expel the water therethrough.

17. The boat of claim 14, wherein the boat further comprises a variable speed control electrically connected to the pump and configured to output a signal representative of a speed thereof.

18. The boat of claim 17, wherein the boat further comprises a motor configured to receive a signal representative of at least one of the plurality of rotational positions of the conduit.

19. The boat of claim 14, wherein the fluid pathway is defined within the body of the boat.

20. A hydrodynamic propulsion prop-less trolling motor comprising: a housing adapted to rotatably receive a conduit therein, wherein the housing includes an opening defined in a wall thereof to receive water therethrough, wherein the conduit includes a first end, a second end, and an opening defined in a wall thereof, wherein the opening of the housing is substantially aligned with the opening of the conduit; a handle connected to the second end of the conduit; at least one seal situated within the housing to prevent water within the housing from flowing out of the housing between the housing and the conduit; and a fluid receiving chamber connected to the first end of the conduit, wherein the fluid-receiving chamber includes at least one nozzle fluidly connected thereto, wherein the at least one nozzle is adapted to expel the water therethrough, and wherein a plurality of rotational positions of the conduit correspond to a respective plurality of directions of expulsion of the water from the at least one nozzle.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/737,162, filed Nov. 16, 2005, and entitled “Prop-less Trolling Motor”, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a prop-less trolling motor for use with watercraft.

2. Description of Related Art

Fishermen use boats with outboard, inboard or inboard/outboard engines with propellers as the primary means of boat propulsion. Fishermen also use trolling motors to quietly maneuver a boat in areas of a body of water where fish dwell. There are several prior art trolling motors that use a propeller for propulsion. For example, trolling motors with propeller propulsion are found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,458,004; U.S. Pat. No. 6,652,331; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,863,581. Prior art trolling motors with propeller propulsion pose several problems. One problem is that the cavitation caused by propeller rotation emits underwater noise that scares fish away. Another problem is that operating a propeller in shallow water can pull at vegetation, which tends to entangle the propeller. Once a propeller becomes entangled with vegetation, the trolling motor must be stopped and the propeller freed of the entangling vegetation. Another significant problem is that, when in use, the motor and corresponding electronics of prior art trolling motors are positioned below the water surface. Therefore, if a seal leaks or the motor housing becomes cracked, water damage is certain to occur to the underwater motor and electronics of the trolling motor.

The prior art also teaches prop-less means for primary boat propulsion, such as the water jet propulsion system for yachts, trawlers and the like disclosed in U.S. patent application Publication No. 2002/0037675. In addition, the prior art teaches a compressed-air-powered prime mover device capable of providing impulse propulsion by water slug ejection for use with, among others, trolling boats disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,250,977. These prior art prop-less propulsion systems pose several problems. One problem is that jet propulsion systems are designed to operate with large, loud engines to provide a primary propulsion force for a boat. Another problem is that water slug ejections by impulse air cause cavitations. Both jet propulsion systems and water slug ejections by impulse air create loud underwater sounds that scare fish away, which is counterproductive to the primary purpose of a trolling motor for quietly positioning a boat close to where fish dwell in a body of water.

Accordingly, there is a present need for a prop-less trolling motor with a pump on a boat that is capable of providing quiet, hydrodynamic propulsion for maneuvering a boat with reduced possibilities for entanglement of the trolling motor with underwater vegetation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A prop-less trolling motor with a pump is provided for a boat. The prop-less trolling motor is capable of providing quiet, hydrodynamic propulsion for maneuvering a boat with reduced possibilities for entanglement of the trolling motor with underwater vegetation.

In a desirable embodiment, the prop-less trolling motor includes a fixed trolling motor housing with a rotatable tube having a handle attached to the upper portion of the rotatable tube. The rotatable tube is journaled within the fixed trolling motor housing, wherein the rotatable tube can rotate 360° along its longitudinal axis. A propulsion housing with nozzles is attached to the lower portion of the rotatable tube such that the propulsion housing can rotate 360° concurrently with the rotatable tube. A water flow system with a pump is provided with the prop-less trolling motor to pump water from water outside of the boat through conduits and the prop-less trolling motor to the nozzles of the propulsion housing. Water pumped out of the nozzles creates a hydrodynamic propulsion force sufficient enough to move a boat. A propulsion system is also provided with the prop-less trolling motor to control the direction and speed of the hydrodynamic propulsion force relative to the boat.

More generally, the prop-less trolling motor of the present invention includes (a) a housing adapted to rotatably receive a conduit therein, wherein the conduit includes a first end and a second end; (b) an outlet connected to the first end of the conduit; (c) an inlet for receiving water; (d) a fluid pathway connecting the inlet to the housing; and (e) a pump connected to the fluid pathway and configured to pump the water through the outlet, wherein a plurality of rotational positions of the conduit correspond to a respective plurality of directions of expulsion of the water from the outlet.

The conduit includes at least one or more openings for receiving the water therethrough. Each of the openings may be geometric shapes selected from the group comprising circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, octagons, and hexagons. One or more seals may be situated within the housing to prevent the water within the housing from flowing out of the housing between the housing and the conduit. The conduit may be adapted to rotate 360° within the housing or, alternatively, may have a constrained range of rotational motion. The inlet may include a filter. The outlet includes a chamber (e.g., fluid receiving chamber) for receiving the water and at least one nozzle fluidly connected thereto, wherein the at least one nozzle is adapted to expel the water therethrough.

A handle may extend from the second end of the conduit. The handle may include a variable speed control, similar to that found on a motorcycle handle, electrically connected to the pump, wherein a plurality of rotational positions of the variable speed control correspond to respective speeds of the pump.

A foot control or a remote control may be provided that are operative on the pump and are configured to output a signal representative of a speed thereof. A motor may be provided that is operative on the conduit for motorized rotation thereof. The remote control may be configured to output a signal representative of at least one of the plurality of rotational positions of the conduit. The remote control may be wired or wireless.

The present invention also includes a boat having the aforementioned prop-less trolling motor. The boat includes a body having a waterline defined on a hull thereof. The housing may be secured to the hull, the inlet may be defined on the hull, the fluid pathway may be defined within the body of the boat, and the pump may be secured to the body. The boat may include a variable speed control electrically connected to the pump and configured to output a signal representative of a speed thereof. The boat may also include a motor configured to receive a signal representative of at least one of the plurality of rotational positions of the conduit.

These and other advantages of the present invention will be understood from the description of the preferred embodiments, taken with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals represent like elements throughout.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a prop-less trolling motor in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cut-away view of a trolling motor of the prop-less trolling motor shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of a propulsion housing shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of a propulsion control system for the prop-less trolling system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of a water flow system for the prop-less trolling motor shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6a is a view of a thumb pad for use with a propulsion control system for the prop-less trolling motor shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6b is a view of a joystick control for use with a propulsion control system for the prop-less trolling motor shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 7 is an elevational view of the prop-less trolling motor mounted on a boat.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying figures. It is to be understood that the specific system illustrated in the attached figures and described in the following specification is simply an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 1 through 7, in a desirable embodiment, the present invention includes a prop-less trolling motor 10 for use as secondary propulsion for a boat 58. The prop-less trolling motor 10 includes a fixed trolling motor housing 20 having a rotatable tube 24 with a plurality of perforations 26. The rotatable tube 24 may be rotated along its longitudinal axis by a handle 30 to permit a full 360° directional control of a propulsion housing 46, which is attached to the lower portion of the rotatable tube 24. In addition, the prop-less trolling motor 10 also includes a water flow system having a pump 36 to draw water from a navigable water source external to a boat into an input conduit of the water flow system. The pump 36 is adapted to pump the water through an output conduit, through the fixed trolling motor housing 20 and the propulsion housing 46, and out through one or more nozzles 52 of the propulsion housing 46 to create a hydrodynamic propulsion force. Furthermore, the prop-less trolling motor 10 may includes a propulsion control system having manual, mechanical, electric and/or wireless control to direct the nozzles 52 of the propulsion housing 46. The propulsion control system may also control the speed of the water being pumped by the pump 36 through the water flow system. An exemplary flow F through the water flow system is depicted in FIG. 1.

With reference to FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 7, the fixed trolling motor housing 20 of the prop-less trolling motor 10 may embody a cylindrical tube shape and may be adapted for mounting on, or being molded within, a hull of a boat 58. The fixed trolling motor housing 20 has a passage 44, which in an exemplary embodiment may be a circular-shaped hole. The fixed trolling motor housing 20 provides a cylindrical chamber 22 defined generally by the interior of the cylindrically-shaped fixed trolling motor housing 20. Passage 44 provides communication through the fixed trolling motor housing 20 for the output conduit 42 shown in FIG. 2 for fluid communication with the water flow system as further described in this application.

With reference to FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 7, the rotatable tube 24 may embody a cylindrical-shaped tube. The rotatable cylindrical tube 24 has a plurality of perforations 26. The perforations 26 may be of any suitable geometric shape including, but not limited to, circle, triangle, square, rectangle, octagon, and hexagon (shown in FIG. 2). The rotatable cylindrical tube 24 has an external diameter that is smaller in comparison to the internal diameter of the fixed trolling motor housing 20. Desirably, the rotatable tube 24 has a length that is longer in comparison to the length of the fixed trolling motor housing 20, as particularly shown in FIG. 2.

Desirably, the rotatable tube 24 is positioned substantially within the cylindrical chamber 22 of the fixed trolling motor housing 20 to create a tube-within-a-tube-type fit. However, it is to be understood that other mated or interactive fits may be utilized. In the desirable embodiment, an upper portion of the rotatable tube 24 extends beyond the upper end of the fixed trolling motor housing 20, and a lower portion of the rotatable tube 24 extends beyond the lower end of the fixed trolling motor housing 20. The rotatable tube 24 may be sealed with water-tight seals, such as those known to those skilled in the art, which are conducive to rotation. The seals are provided at the top of and the bottom of the fixed trolling motor housing 20 of the prop-less trolling motor 10. The seals also serve the role of mounting the rotatable tube 24 in place relative to the fixed trolling motor housing 20, so that the external surface of the rotatable tube 24 is equidistant from the internal surface of the fixed trolling motor housing 20. The seals also keep the rotatable tube 24 from sliding out of the fixed trolling motor housing 20. A handle 30 may be attached to the end of an upper portion of the rotatable tube 24.

With reference to FIG. 2, the plurality of perforations 26 provide communication through a portion of the rotatable tube 24, which is positioned within the cylindrical chamber 22 of the fixed trolling motor housing 20. The perforations 26 provide fluid communication from outside to inside the rotatable tube 24. The perforations 26 are configured in a manner to maintain structural stability of the rotatable tube 24, which is exposed to torque during rotation of the rotatable tube 24 and the propulsion housing 46 in operation of the prop-less trolling motor 10. A watertight seal 25a is provided inside of the upper portion of the rotatable tube 24 above the perforations 26. The watertight seal 25a prevents water from flowing out of the upper portion of the rotatable tube 24. The lower end of the rotatable tube 24 opens through output opening 28. Communication is provided through passage 44 into cylindrical chamber 22, through the plurality of perforations 26, into the interior of rotatable tube 24, through output opening 28 and into the interior chamber 48 of propulsion housing 46.

The propulsion housing 46 is attached with a water-tight seal 25b to a lower part of the rotatable tube 24 that protrudes beyond the lower part of the fixed trolling motor housing 20. A gap may be provided between the propulsion housing 46 and the fixed trolling motor housing 20. The gap allows propulsion housing 46 to rotate without creating friction against the fixed trolling motor housing 20.

With reference to FIGS. 1 through 3, the external configuration of the propulsion housing 46 may be designed to promote the flow of water around the propulsion housing 46 during operation of the prop-less trolling motor 10 without significant cavitation. The propulsion housing 46 provides an interior chamber 48 in communication with nozzles 52 provided within nozzle housing 50 connected to the propulsion housing 46. The nozzles 52 are pointed in a manner to direct a flow of water in a direction that is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the rotatable tube 24.

With reference to FIG. 7, on a boat 58 with a prop-less trolling motor 10, the water flow system is designed to draw water through a filtered inlet 32 and input conduit 34 from a body of water that the boat 58 is navigating and to pump the water through the system to the nozzles 52 of the propulsion housing 46 using the same pump 36. The water flow system may be characterized structurally with a pre-pump configuration, a pump 36, and a post-pump configuration detailed particularly in the water flow system schematic shown in FIG. 5.

With reference to FIGS. 1, 4 and 5, the pre-pump configuration of the system includes a filtered intake 32 sealed to a portion of a boat 58 that is below the water surface during operation of the boat 58. The filtered intake 32 may include a filter suitable to prevent intake of any large matter from the water source. An input conduit 34 is sealed to the filtered intake 32 and may be situated internal to the boat 58. The input conduit 34 provides fluid communication from the filtered intake 32 to the pump 36, as particularly shown in FIG. 5.

The pump 36, which is preferably also positioned inside of the boat 58, may be operated via several power sources, such as an electric motor powered through pump power wires 40 by a 12 or 24 volt DC battery 38 or by the engine of the boat 58. A suitable pump is known to one having ordinary skill in the art. The pump 36 is configured for variable water flow speeds. The pump 36 may be capable of reversing flow in order to flush the water flow system with water during or after operation in a waterway or during the process of winterizing a boat 58.

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the post-pump configuration of the system includes an output conduit 42, the fixed trolling motor housing 20, rotatable tube 24 and propulsion housing 46. The output conduit 42 provides fluid communication between the pump 36 and the passage 44 of the fixed trolling motor housing 20. The passage 44 of the fixed trolling motor housing 20 provides communication to the cylindrical chamber 22 of the fixed trolling motor housing 20 and the plurality of perforations 26 of the rotatable tube 24. The perforations 26 provide communication from the cylindrical chamber 22 to the interior portion of the rotatable tube 24, as shown in FIG. 2. The interior portion of the rotatable tube 24 provides fluid communication through the output opening 28 to the interior chamber 48 of the propulsion housing 46 and, ultimately, to the nozzles 52 of the nozzle housing 50 of the propulsion housing 46.

Drawing from a source of water, the pump 36 of the water flow system pulls water through the filtered intake 32, through the input conduit 34, and into the pump 36. The pump 36, further pumps water through the output conduit 42, through the passage 44 and into the cylindrical chamber 22 of the fixed trolling motor housing 20. The pump 36 also pumps the water inside the cylindrical chamber 22 of the fixed trolling motor housing 20 through the plurality of perforations 26 of the rotatable tube 24 into the interior portion of the rotatable tube 24 and out of the output opening 28 into the interior chamber 48 of the propulsion housing 46. The water is further pumped through the interior chamber 48 of the propulsion housing 46 and out of the nozzles 52. The hydrodynamic force of the water flowing out of the nozzles 52 provides a source of secondary propulsion for a boat 58 with a primary propulsion mechanism 60.

With reference to the schematic shown in FIG. 4, the propulsion control system of the prop-less trolling motor 10 is designed to rotate the propulsion housing 46 and rotatable tube 24 of the prop-less trolling motor 10 360° around the longitudinal axis of the rotatable tube 24 of the propulsion control system. The propulsion control system of the prop-less trolling motor 10 may be based upon manual, mechanical, electronic, and wireless control mechanisms. The propulsion control system of the prop-less trolling motor 10 may be manually controlled by pushing against the handle 30 of the rotatable tube 24 to rotate the propulsion housing 46 to direct the nozzles 52 in an appropriate direction. An electric-powered motor 62 having a gear arrangement, may be attached to the fixed trolling motor housing 20, with the gear designed to drive a mechanism, such as a toothed belt 64 or another gear that is circumferentially configured around the rotatable tube 24. The motor 62 is capable of rotating the rotatable tube 24 along its longitudinal axis in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. The rotation of the gear by the motor 62 drives a toothed belt or another gear associated with the rotatable tube 24 to rotate the attached propulsion housing 46. It is to be understood that other suitable mechanisms may be employed to rotate the rotatable tube 24.

The motor 62 may be controlled with a propulsion housing directional control wire C connected to a thumb pad control 54 having a strap 55, or a propulsion housing directional control wire E connected to a joystick control 56. Alternatively, the motor 62 may be controlled by the thumb pad control 54 or joystick control 56 through wireless technology. In an alternate embodiment, the prop-less trolling motor 10 may be controlled via an existing, albeit modified, control panel 66 of a boat. For example, in addition to having controls responsible for operating the motor 62, a variable speed control 68 may be implemented on the control panel 66 to be operative on the pump 36.

With reference to FIGS. 4, 6a and 6b, the propulsion control system of the prop-less trolling motor 10 controls the power source that powers the speed of the pump 36. The power source may be an electric motor powered through a pump power wire 40 by battery 38 or the engine of the boat 58, for example. The speed control may be operated manually with the handle 30 of the rotatable tube 24. The handle 30 may be designed to rotate, such that an electric signal is sent through the pump control wire A to the power source of a pump 36 to increase or decrease the pump speed. The joystick control 56 may also send an electronic signal to the power source of a pump 36 through a pump control wire D to increase or decrease the pump speed. The thumb pad control 54 may also send an electronic signal to the power source of a pump 36 through a pump control wire B to increase or decrease pump speed. Alternatively, the thumb pad control 54 and the joystick control 56 may utilize wireless technology to control the speed of the pump 36. It is to be understood that other speed control devices may also be used.

With reference to FIG. 7, the prop-less trolling motor 10 may be incorporated into a boat 58 during manufacture thereof, or may be retrofitted to an existing boat 58. In either case, the fixed trolling motor housing 20 of the prop-less trolling motor 10 is mounted to, or secured (e.g., welded) within, the hull of a boat 58. A significant portion of the prop-less trolling motor 10 is designed to be on-board a boat 58, as shown in FIG. 7. The input conduit 34, pump 36, and output conduit 42 of the water flow system are either on-board the boat 58 or above the water surface of the navigable water. A portion of the fixed trolling motor housing 20, rotatable tube 24 and handle 30 may also be above the water surface of the navigable water. All components of the propulsion control system may either be on board the boat 58 or above the water surface of the navigable water. The filtered intake 32 and the propulsion housing 46 and part of the fixed trolling motor housing 20 and rotatable tube 24 are intended to come into contact with a navigable body of water and are therefore below the surface of the water. The components of the prop-less trolling motor 10 and ancillary parts, such as those of the pump 36 and the motor 62, may be constructed of any suitable material. Desirably, parts exposed to a marine environment may be constructed of stainless steel, plastic, fiberglass, or other suitable marine-worthy material. In addition or alternative to the use of marine-worthy materials, the components of the present invention may be sufficiently shielded from the elements, for example, such as by being sealed within the hull of the boat or some other protective body.

The invention has been described with reference to the desirable embodiments. Modifications and alterations will occur to others upon reading and understanding the preceding detailed description. It is intended that the invention be construed as including all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.