Title:
Flexible drive pump
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A two-stage pump device features a main pump for pumping a fluid; and a priming pump coupled to the main pump via a length of flexible hose, the priming pump having a propeller for feeding the fluid to the main pump and priming the same in response to either manual actuation or a switching device. The propeller may be arranged in the flexible hose and driven by a flexible drive shaft that is coupled to the main motor. The priming pump remains operational to ensure air locks do not occur. The main pump is suitably adapted for mounting in an accessible location and the priming pump is suitably adapted for mounting in an inaccessible location. The switching device is either an automatic float/air switch or an in-built electronic control system.



Inventors:
Ruse, Martin D. (Glouchester, MA, US)
Snedaker, Les W. (Morehead City, NC, US)
Cragin, Gary J. (Mission Viejo, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/724754
Publication Date:
10/04/2007
Filing Date:
03/15/2007
Assignee:
ITT MANUFACTURING ENTERPRISES, INC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F04B23/14
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Primary Examiner:
WIEHE, NATHANIEL EDWARD
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WARE, FRESSOLA, MAGUIRE & BARBER LLP (MONROE, CT, US)
Claims:
What we claim is:

1. A method comprising: pumping with a main pump a fluid; and coupling a priming pump to the main pump via a length of flexible hose, the priming pump having a propeller for feeding the fluid to the main pump and priming the same in response to either manual actuation or a switching device so as to form a two-stage pump device.

2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the propeller is arranged in the flexible hose and driven by a flexible drive shaft that is coupled to the main motor.

3. A method according to claim 1, wherein the priming pump remains operational to ensure air locks do not occur.

4. A method according to claim 1, wherein the main pump is suitably adapted for mounting in an accessible location and the priming pump is suitably adapted for mounting in an inaccessible location.

5. A method according to claim 1, wherein the switching device is either an automatic float/air switch or an n-built electronic control system.

6. A two-stage pump device, comprising: a main pump for pumping a fluid; and a priming pump coupled to the main pump via a length of flexible hose, the priming pump having a propeller for feeding the fluid to the main pump and priming the same in response to either manual actuation or a switching device.

7. A two-stage pump device according to claim 6, wherein the propeller is arranged in the flexible hose and driven by a flexible drive shaft that is coupled to the main motor.

8. A two-stage pump device according to claim 6, wherein the priming pump remains operational to ensure air locks do not occur.

9. A two-stage pump device according to claim 6, wherein the main pump is suitably adapted for mounting in an accessible location and the priming pump is suitably adapted for mounting in an inaccessible location.

10. A two-stage pump device according to claim 6, wherein the switching device is either an automatic float/air switch or an n-built electronic control system.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims benefit to provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/787,080, filed 28 Mar. 2006, which is hereby incorporated by references in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for pumping a fluid or effluent from hard to reach places; and more particularly to a flexible drive pump for doing the same.

2. Description of Related Art

Where existing technology is used, the known pump/switch assemblies (e.g. a bilge pump in a boat or vessel) are installed first, and then the engines/heavy equipment is mounted on top which means that a regular or routine servicing will require removal of the engine/heavy equipment, which can be expensive and time consuming.

Known patents that are directed to devices having a flexible pipe include the following:

U.S. Pat. No. 3,885,885 discloses a propeller that is not the main water drive; instead, the propeller pumps fluid out of either the top of the hose or an auxiliary hose.

The U.S. Pat. No. 6,471,495 discloses a motor driven, flexible pipe with engine and impeller.

The U.S. Pat. No. 4,661,046 discloses a manure vacuum wagon power assist augur having a motor coupled to augers.

The U.S. Pat. No. 1,714,287 discloses a vacuum cleaner attachment having double drives, including a fan for causing a sucking force and a disc member with brushes for cleaning surfaces.

The U.S. Pat. No. 2,643,615 discloses a centrifugal pump with a center intake, including a motor coupled by a flexible shaft structure to a pump unit.

The U.S. Pat. No. 3,308,764 discloses a pump and drive means that includes a power plant coupled by a flexible drive connection to a pump.

Other patents are known that show flexible drives, including U.S. Pat. No. 6,471,495 that discloses a miniature well and irrigation pump and U.S. Pat. No. 3,785,752 that discloses a portable submersible pump.

In view of this, there is a need for a simpler, easier and quicker way to service such pump/switch assemblies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention features a method and apparatus for pumping effluent from hard to reach places using a pump, including a flexible drive pump having a main pump, a flexible hose/drive and a priming pump/inlet. In operation, the priming pump/inlet may be slid underneath an engine/heavy equipment for pumping effluent from underneath the same, as well as various other applications.

For example, the flexible drive pump according to the present invention is intended to include, but is not intended to be limited to, the removal of bilge water from hard to reach areas or areas of limited height/space such as under engine installations or other heavy equipment, on marine vessels.

The flexible drive pump according to the present invention may be mounted in a more accessible location to ease servicing/replacement of the pump with the flexible tube mounted in the original pump position. Electrical connections are above the fluid level so one less failure mode.

The flexible drive pump according to the present invention may be operated either manually or by a switching device built into the pump or mounted separately.

In particular, the apparatus may take the form of a two-stage pump device, featuring a main pump for pumping a fluid; and a priming pump coupled to the main pump via a length of flexible hose, the priming pump having a propeller for feeding the fluid to the main pump and priming the same in response to either manual actuation or a switching device. The propeller may be arranged in the flexible hose and driven by a flexible drive shaft that is coupled to the main motor. The priming pump remains operational to ensure air locks do not occur. The main pump is suitably adapted for mounting in an accessible location and the priming pump is suitably adapted for mounting in an inaccessible location. The switching device is either an automatic float/air switch or an in-built electronic control system.

One advantage of the present invention is that it provides a simpler, easier and quicker way to service such pump/switch assemblies.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The drawing includes the following Figures, that are not necessarily drawn to scale:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of one embodiment of the flexible drive pump installed in a boat or vessel according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a diagram of the flexible hose/drive pump shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a diagram of the main pump assembly of the flexible hose/drive pump shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 4 is a diagram of the priming pump assembly of the flexible hose/drive pump shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1-2 show, by way of example, one embodiment of a flexible drive pump according to the present invention having a main pump 10, a flexible hose/drive 12 and a priming pump/inlet 14, which may be arranged under the engine/equipment and coupled to the main pump 10 via the flexible hose/drive 12.

FIG. 3 shows the main pump or main pump assembly 10 in further detail, which includes a main pump housing 50, a cartridge assembly 52, a main pump impeller 54, an impeller/flexible shaft coupling 56, a pump hose adapter 57, a flexible shaft support 58, a hose/tube 60, O-ring 62, a main pump discharge fitting 64 and a flexible shaft 66. The hose 60 and flexible shaft 66 form part of the flexible hose/drive 12 that couple the main pump assembly 10 and the priming pump/inlet 14 as shown in FIGS. 1-2. The scope of the invention is not intended to be limited to any particular type or kind of main pump assembly according to the present invention. For example, embodiments of the present invention are envisioned having other types or kinds of main pump assembly either now known or later developed in the future. The main pump assembly 10 in FIG. 3 is designed to operate at a much higher efficiency than the priming pump assembly 14 which gives the overall pump design its main advantage over other similar pump types. The motor cartridge assembly 52 drives the impeller 54 which produces the main flow. The impeller/flexible shaft coupling 56 transmits the motor rotation to the flexible shaft 66 and also allows for any mis-alignment or axial movement to be taken into consideration. The flexible shaft support 58 ensures that the flexible shaft 66 remains central and aligned well enough to minimize vibration and movement when the flexible hose 60 and flexible shaft 66 is bent.

FIG. 4 shows the priming pump/inlet or pump assembly 14, which includes the hose 60 and the flexible shaft 66 from the main pump assembly 10 as shown in FIG. 3, and also includes a flexible shaft support 80, a flexible shaft/propeller coupling 82, a propeller shaft 84, a propeller 86 and a propeller housing/inlet assembly 88. The scope of the invention is not intended to be limited to any particular type or kind of priming pump assembly according to the present invention. For example, embodiments of the present invention are envisioned having other types or kinds of priming pump assembly either now known or later developed in the future. The priming pump/inlet 4 in FIG. 4 is designed to be inefficient and have the only function of priming the main pump assembly 10. By being inefficient it allows the main flow of water through the hose 60 to be higher than similar pump types by minimizing the inlet restrictions to the main pump assembly 10. The flexible shaft support 80 ensures the flexible shaft 66 remains central and aligned well enough to minimize torque and vibration when the flexible hose 60 and flexible shaft 66 is bent. The flexible shaft/propeller coupling 82 is designed to transmit rotation from the flexible shaft 66 to the propeller 86 and also allow for any mis-alignment of axial movement caused by the bending of the hose 60 and flexible shaft 66.

In operation, the flexible drive pump is effectively a two stage pump. The small propeller 86 in the hose/tube 60 is driven by the flexible shaft 66 inside the length of hose/tube 60. The small propeller 86 is used for the priming of a larger centrifical/centrifugal pump, which is shown as the main pump 10, and then takes over to improve the flow characteristics of the entire product.

The hose 60 may be coupled to the main pump housing 50 and the propeller housing/inlet assembly 86 on each end via hose clamps or other suitable clamping mechanism.

When the main pump assembly 10 is in effect, the priming propeller 86 remains operational to ensure air locks do not occur.

By way of example, the main pump assembly 10 may be mounted in an accessible location, e.g. by mounting the same on the hull 18; the flexible hose/drive 12 and the priming pump/inlet 14 are fitted in the in-accessible location. For example, as shown, the priming pump/inlet 14 is slid under the engine/equipment 20, and coupled to the main pump 10 via the flexible hose/drive 12. In operation, the main pump 10 discharges the effluent drawn from underneath the engine/equipment 20 via the discharge 22.

The flexible drive pump may also include a switching device 24 that may be manually actuated, or that may be an automatic float/air switch system or an in-built electronic control system which detects resistance to the impeller turning. The scope of the invention is not intended to be limited to any particular type or kind of switch for turning on/off the flexible drive pump according to the present invention.

THE SCOPE OF THE INVENTION

It should be understood that, unless stated otherwise herein, any of the features, characteristics, alternatives or modifications described regarding a particular embodiment herein may also be applied, used, or incorporated with any other embodiment described herein.

Although the invention has been described and illustrated with respect to exemplary embodiments thereof, the foregoing and various other additions and omissions may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.