Title:
Clamping Tool
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A clamping tool has first and second handles operatively connected to first and second jaws, e.g. clamping or crimping jaws and a retractable third handle attached to the first handle. A spring biases the first and second handles toward a non-engaging position and a restraint arrangement maintains the position of the first and second handles against the biasing force of the spring as the handles move toward the engaging position. In use, the third and second handles are moved toward one another from the engaging position to the non-engaging position. Between the positions, the handles are released and the restraint arrangement maintains the handles in the released position. Thereafter, the first and second handles are engaged, and the handles are moved toward one another to move the handles and the jaws into the engaging position.



Inventors:
Fiorisi, Brian (Royse City, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/758693
Publication Date:
12/20/2007
Filing Date:
06/06/2007
Assignee:
Zurn PEX, LLC (Commerce, TX, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B21D7/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
EKIERT, TERESA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE WEBB LAW FIRM, P.C. (PITTSBURGH, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A clamping tool comprising two jaws pivotally coupled to a handle assembly, the handle assembly including a first handle and a second handle co-acting with said jaws, and a third handle pivotally attached to said first handle and positioned between the first handle and the second handle.

2. A clamping tool comprising: a first jaw operatively connected to a first handle; a second jaw operatively connected to a second handle, wherein moving the first and second handles relative to one another moves the first and second jaws relative to one another; and a third handle between the first and second handles and connected to the first handle, wherein moving the second and third handles relative to one another moves the first handle and the second handle relative to one another to move the first jaw and the second jaw relative to one another.

3. The clamping tool according to claim 2, wherein the third handle is pivotally mounted to the first handle.

4. The clamping tool according to claim 2, further comprising a locking arrangement to prevent the first and second handles from moving away from one another as the third handle moves the first and second handles toward one another.

5. The clamping tool according to claim 4, further comprising a biasing member applying a biasing force to the first and second handles to move the first and second handles, and the first and second jaws away from one another.

6. The clamping tool according to claim 5, wherein the first and second jaws are in an engaging position when the first and second handles are at a minimum distance from one another; the first and second jaws are in a non-engaging position when the first and second handles are at a maximum distance to one another, and the biasing member applies the biasing force to the first and second handles when the first and second jaws are in a position other than the engaging position.

7. The clamping tool according to claim 4, wherein the locking arrangement comprises a pawl and ratchet with the pawl associated with a middle link having one end connected to the first handle and the opposite end of the middle link connected to the second handle, and the ratchet associated with the first handle.

8. The clamping tool according to claim 7, wherein the first and second jaws are in an engaging position when the first and second handles are at a minimum distance from one another; the first and second jaws are in a non-engaging position when the first and second handles are at a maximum distance to one another, and the pawl and ratchet are in a non-engaging position when the jaws are in an engaging position.

9. The clamping tool according to claim 8, further comprising a biasing member applying a biasing force to the first and second handles to move the first and second handles, and the first and second jaws away from one another when the first and second jaws are in a position other than the engaging position.

10. The clamping tool according to claim 9, wherein the biasing member applies a first predetermined biasing force on the first and second handles when the first and second jaws are in a position other than the engaging position, and the biasing member applies a second predetermine force on the first and second handles when the first and second jaws are in the non-engaging position, wherein the second predetermined force is greater than the first predetermined force.

11. The clamping tool according to claim 10, wherein the first and second jaws are jaws having half-holes for crimping tubing.

12. The clamping tool according to claim 10, wherein the first and second jaws are jaws having half-holes for engaging buckle of a crimping ring.

13. The crimping tool according to claim 1, further comprising: a first plate and a second plate spaced from one another, the first and second jaws between the first and second plates with the first jaw securely mounted on the first plate and having a portion of the first jaw extending beyond edge of the first plate, and the second jaw pivotally mounted between the first and second plates with a portion of the second jaw extending beyond the edge of the first plate, the portion of the first and second jaws each having a half hole with the half hole of the second jaw moveable toward and away from the half hole of the first jaw; an end of the first handle fixedly secured between the first and second plates adjacent the first jaw, and an end of the second handle pivotally mounted between the first and second plates; a biasing member connecting the ends of the first and second handles wherein moving the first and second handles toward one another moves the half holes of the first and second jaws toward one another against biasing action of the biasing member, and a middle link having one end pivotally mounted to the first handle and an opposite end pivotally mounted to the second handle, first part of a pawl and ratchet arrangement mounted to the middle link and second part of the pawl and ratchet arrangement mounted on the second handle wherein the first and second part of the pawl and ratchet arrangement contact one another as the first and second handles move toward the engaging position to prevent the first and second handles from moving away from one another under the biasing action of the spring when force acting on the handles is less than the force of the biasing member.

14. A method of closing jaws of a clamping tool, comprising: applying a force to maintain first and second jaws spaced from one another in a non-engaging position, and to maintain first and second handles operatively connected to the first and second jaws, respectively in a first position; moving the second handle and a third handle connected to the first handle toward one another against the applied force to move the first and second jaws from the non-engaging position toward an engaging position and to move the first and second handles from the first position toward a second position; releasing the third handle, and engaging the first and second handles to move the first and second handles into the second position, and the first and second jaws into the non-engaging position.

15. The method according to claim 14, wherein after the handles are released and before the first and second handles are engaged maintaining the first and second handles at the released position.

16. The method according to claim 14, after applying a force to maintain first and second jaws spaced from one another and before moving the second handle and a third handle connected to the first handle, positioning a buckle of clamping ring between the first and second jaws

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/811,611 filed on Jun. 7, 2006, and titled “CLAMPING TOOL”, which application is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is directed to a clamping tool, e.g. a tool having moveable jaws for crimping PEX tubing and, in particular, to a crimping tool having three handles selectively engaged to move the jaws to crimp the PEX tubing.

2. Description of the Presently Available Technology

Crimping tools such as pliers and tools used with PEX tubing have been in existence for a long period of time. One type of crimping tool is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,267,464, which is hereby incorporated by reference. Essentially, these tools have jaws that are brought together by squeezing handles that co-act with the jaws. Typically, the handles are squeezed by one hand of the user, with the user's thumb on one handle and the user's fingers on the other handle

Sometimes, the jaws must be opened to a wide distance that makes it very difficult to squeeze the handle with one hand. As is appreciated by those skilled in the art, when the user of the tool is unable to position his/her thumb and fingers around the handles of the tool, the tool is not locked in the user's hand. The result is often uneven crimping of the PEX tubing and un-useable crimped PEX tubing.

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a crimping tool that is easy to operate with one hand when the handles are spaced a distance apart that makes it difficult to grasp with one hand, thereby eliminating the drawbacks of the presently available crimping tools.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a crimping tool having a crimping head with jaws coupled to a handle arrangement that includes two primary handles linked together and a secondary handle linked to one of the primary handles and positioned between the two primary handles.

Further, the present invention further relates to a clamping or crimping tool having a first jaw operatively connected to a first handle; a second jaw operatively connected to a second handle, wherein moving the first and second handles relative to one another moves the first and second jaws relative to one another, and a third handle between the first and second handles and connected to the first handle, wherein moving the second and third handles relative to one another moves the first handle and the second handle relative to one another to move the first jaw and the second jaw relative to one another. In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention, one of the jaws and its associated handle, e.g. the second jaw and the second handle are stationary, and the first handle and the third handle are moveable toward the second handle.

Still further, the present invention relates to closing jaws of a clamping tool, by, among other things, applying a force to maintain the first and second jaws spaced from one another in a non-engaging position, and to maintain the first and second handles operatively connected to the first and second jaws, respectively, in a first position; moving the second handle and a third handle connected to the first handle toward one another against the applied force to move the first and second jaws from the non-engaging position toward an engaging position and to move the first and second handles from the first position toward a second position; releasing the third handle, and engaging the first and second handles to move the first and second handles into the second position, and the first and second jaws into the engaging position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a crimping tool made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the side of the crimping tool shown in FIG. 1 having the cover plate removed, the crimping tool shown in FIG. 2 is in the open position or non-engaging position;

FIG. 3 is a view similar to the view of FIG. 2 showing the crimping tool of FIG. 1 in a position between the non-engaging position and the closed or engaging position;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of a non-limiting embodiment of a handle subassembly of the crimping tool of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a view taken along lines 5-5 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a front view of the middle link of the handle subassembly shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the middle link having portions removed for purposes of clarity, and

FIG. 8 is a view similar to the views of FIGS. 2 and 3 showing the crimping tool of FIG. 1 in the engaging position.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

As used herein, spatial or directional terms, such as “inner”, “outer”, “left”, “right”, “up”, “down”, “horizontal”, “vertical”, and the like, relate to the invention as it is shown in the drawing figures. However, it is to be understood that the invention can assume various alternative orientations and, accordingly, such terms are not to be considered as limiting.

Before discussing several non-limiting embodiments of the invention, it is understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of the particular non-limiting embodiments shown and discussed herein, since the invention is capable of other embodiments. Further the terminology used herein to discuss the invention is for the purpose of description and is not of limitation. Still further, in the following discussion, unless indicated otherwise, like numbers refer to like elements.

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a crimping tool 20 made in accordance with the present invention. The crimping tool 20 includes a crimping head subassembly 22 and a handle subassembly 23 (also see FIG. 4). The crimping subassembly 22 includes a stationary first jaw 24 and a moveable second jaw 26 coupled to an action shaft or moveable primary handle 28, and a fixed shaft or fixed secondary handle 30, of the handle subassembly 23. Each of the jaws 24, 26 have a half-hole 32 of a diameter selected to insure adequate compression of a desired size of the crimp. Such general arrangements are well known in the art, e.g. disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,267,464 and used in the CTS Medium Crimping Tool, QCRT2CM, QCRT3CM and QCRT4CM sold by ZurnPex, Inc. As is appreciated by those skilled in the art, the crimping tool 20 of the invention can be used to crimp a buckle or pinch ear 33 of the ring 34 fitted over a pipe 36 and a fitting 37. In one non-limiting embodiment, the pipe 36 and the crimp ring 34 are slid over the fitting 37, and the jaws 24, 26 of the crimping tool 20 brought together in a manner according to the invention, and discussed below, to move the buckle 33 in the half-holes 32 of the jaws 24, 26 to compress the buckle 33 and the ring 34 to form a fluid tight seal between the pipe and the fitting. The crimp ring 34 having the buckle 33 is not limiting to the invention and any of the types of clamping rings known in the art can be used in the practice of the invention, e.g. but not limited to QickClamp crimping rings of the type sold by ZurnPex, Inc. and clamping rings disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,267,464.

The discussion is now directed to a non-limiting embodiment of the crimping head subassembly 22 that can be used in the practice of the invention. With reference to FIGS. 1-3 as needed, the crimping head subassembly 22 includes a first plate or cover plate 40 (shown only in FIG. 1) secured to second plate or back plate 42. The back plate 42 in this non-limiting embodiment of the invention has the first or fixed jaw 24 formed integrally therewith. The cover plates 40, 42 are secured together by screws 44, 45 passing through the cover plate 40 (see FIG. 1). The end of the screw 44 is threaded into post 48 (see FIGS. 2 and 3) secured to inner surface 50 of the back plate 42 in any convenient manner, e.g. by providing the post 48 with threaded holes at each end to receive the screw 44 passing through the first plate 40 and a screw (not shown) passing through the back plate 42. The screw 45 passes through the first plate 40 into a threaded hole 52 (see FIGS. 2 and 3) in the first jaw 24. Optionally alignment pins 54 are provided about the threaded hole 52 (see FIGS. 2 and 3) and received in holes 56 (see FIG. 1) to align the first and second plates 40, 42, respectively.

With particular reference to FIGS. 2-4, the discussion is directed to the handle subassembly 23. End 60 of the fixed handle 30 is secured to the inner surface 50 of the second plate 42 of the crimping head subassembly 22 by a pair of swaged studs 62 (see FIGS. 2, 3 and 8) captured in holes 63 (see FIG. 4). The moveable second jaw 26 is pivotally mounted at 64 to the inner surface 50 of the back plate 42 to pivot the half hole 32 of the moveable jaw 26 toward and away from the half hole 32 of the fixed jaw 24 as the handle 28 moves toward and away from the handle 30 in a manner discussed below. End 66 of the moveable handle 28 is pivotally mounted to the moveable jaw at 68 at a position opposite to the half hole 32 of the moveable jaw 26. In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention, a jaw adjustment screw (also designated by the number 68) pivotally connects the end 66 of the handle 28 to the moveable jaw 26. As is appreciated by those skilled in the art, the jaw adjustment screw 68 sets or resets the distance between the half-holes 32 of the jaws 24, 26 when the handles 28, 30 are together. With reference to FIG. 1, the adjustment screw 68 extends through slot 70 in the cover plate 40 and moves in the slot as the handle 28 moves toward the handle 30. Jaw adjustment screws are well known in the art and no further discussion is deemed necessary.

For ease of discussion and a full appreciation of the invention, when the handles 28, are at their maximum spaced distance (see FIG. 2), the jaws 22, 24 are at their maximum spaced distance, and the handles and jaws are in the open or non-engaging position. When the handles 28, 30 are at their minimum distance to one another, the jaws 22, 24 are at their minimum distance to one another, and the handles and the jaws are in the closed or engaging position (see FIG. 8). The handles and jaws at positions between the engaging and non-engaging positions are shown in FIGS. 1 and 3.

With continued reference to FIGS. 2-4, although not limiting to the invention, a spring 72 has one end connected at 74 to the fixed end 60 of the handle 30, and the other end of the spring 72 connected at 76 to the end of the moveable jaw 26 near the end 66 of the handle 28. The spring 72 is expanded (in the biased position) when the handles 28 and 30 are in the engaging position (see FIG. 8) and is compressed (in the unbiased position) when the handles are in the non-engaging position (see FIG. 2).

Shown in FIG. 4 is one non-limiting embodiment of the handle subassembly 23 of the invention for interconnecting the handles 28, 30, such that moving the handle 28 toward and away from the handle 30, moves the jaw 26 toward and away from the jaw 24, respectively. Specifically, the handles 28, 30 are interconnected by a middle link 80 having end 82 pivotally secured to the handle 28, and having end 84 pivotally secured to the handle 30 by pins 86, 88, respectively, passing through respective holes defined in the handles 28, 30 and the middle link 80. Preferably the handles 28, 30 have a U-shaped cross section as shown in FIG. 5 for the handle 28 to receive the ends 82, 84, respectively, of the middle link 80. As the handle 28 moves toward the handle 30, the handle 28 pivots about the pin 86 interconnecting the middle link 80 and the handle 28 (see FIGS. 2 and 3) moving the adjustment screw 68 upward in the slot 70 (see FIG. 1) to pivot the jaw about the pivot pin 64 to move the half hole 32 of the jaw 26 toward the half hole 32 of the jaw 24. The handle 28 is moved toward the handle 30 against the biasing force of the spring 72. As the handle 28 moves toward the handle 30 the middle link pivots about the pins 86, 88.

In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention, a ratchet and pawl arrangement is used to prevent the handle 28 from moving away from the handle 30 by the biasing force of the spring 72 when the force moving the handle 28 toward the handle 30 is released. With continued reference to FIG. 4, the ratchet and pawl arrangement includes a ratchet 90 secured at 92 and 86 to the handle 28 adjacent the pin 86 with the teeth 94 of the ratchet 90 moving through opening 96 (see also FIGS. 6 and 7) contacting end or tooth 98 of pawl 100 pivotally mounted at 102 to the middle link 80. As the handle 28 moves toward the handle 30, the teeth 94 of the ratchet 90 engage the end 98 of the ratchet 100 moving the ratchet 100 in a counter clockwise direction as viewed in FIG. 7 against the biasing action of spring 104. The spring 104 has one end 106 connected to the pawl 100 and other end 108 connected to pin 110 in the middle link 80. With the end 98 of the pawl 100 in contact with one of the teeth 94 of the ratchet 90, the handle 28 is prevented from moving away from the handle 30 under the biasing action of the spring 72 (see FIGS. 2-4). With the handles 28, 30, and the jaws 24, 26 moving toward the engaging position (see FIG. 8), the pawl 100 moves under the biasing action of the spring in a clockwise direction past the ratchet 90. The handles 28, 30 are now free to move away from one another under the biasing action of the spring 72 (see FIGS. 2-4). The pawl 100 has an arm 112 (see FIGS. 2, 4, 7 and 8) having a length to prevent the arm 112 from moving through the opening 96 in the middle link 80. Pawl and ratchet arrangements are well known in the art and no further discussion is deemed necessary.

With reference to FIG. 8, in one non-limiting embodiment of the invention, the center of the adjustment screw 68, the center of the pivot point 86 and the end 76 of the spring 72 contacting the jaw 26 are off set from one another when the jaws 24, 26 and the handles 28, 30 are in the engaging position as shown in FIG. 8 such that the biasing action of the spring 72 is neutralized. With the biasing action of the spring neutralized, the jaws 24, 26, and the handles 28, 30 remain in the engaging position until the handles are slightly moved apart to activate the biasing force or action of the spring 72. With the biasing action of the spring activated, and the pawl 100 and ratchet 94 disengaged, the jaws 24, 26, and the handles 28, 30 move to the non-engaging position as shown in FIG. 1 under the biasing force of the spring 72.

As is appreciated by those skilled in the art, sometimes, the jaws 24, 26 of the crimping tool in the non-engaging position must be opened to a wide distance that makes it very difficult to squeeze the handles 28, 30 into the engaging position with one hand. More particularly, when the user of the crimping tool is unable to position his/her thumb and fingers around the handles 28, 30 of the crimping tool, the tool is not locked in the user's hand. The result is often uneven crimping of the PEX tubing and un-useable PEX tubing. To eliminate this drawback of the presently available crimping tools, in one non-limiting embodiment of the invention a third handle or secondary handle 120 is pivotally attached to handle 28 via pins 122, 123. In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention, the handle 120 has a U-shaped cross section (see FIG. 5). The pin 122 passes through slots 124 (only one slot 124 shown in the Figs.) defined in the handle 28 and holes (not shown) defined in the third handle 120 and the pin 123 passing through the holes in the handle 28 to position the third handle 120 between the handles 28, 30

As is now appreciated, the connection of the components of the crimping tool of the invention with pins, e.g. but not limited to the handles 28, 30 and 120; the middle link 80; the jaws 24, 26, and the springs 72, 104 is not limiting to the invention and any technique for pivotally connecting components known in the art can be used in the practice of the invention. Further, in the discussion of the invention, the jaw 24 was fixed. The invention, however, contemplates having the jaw 24 moveable, and the handles 28, 30 moveable toward and away from one another, to move the jaws toward and away from one another, e.g. from the non-engaging position to the engaging position, and from the engaging position to the non-engaging position.

Referring to FIGS. 1-8 as needed, the operation of the crimping tool 20 of the invention will now be disclosed. First, the handles 28, 30, and the jaws 24, 26 are in the non-engaging position. The pawl 100 is in the initial position with the arm 112 extending out of the middle link 80 and the spring 104 in the unbiased position. The ring 34 joining the pipe 36 and the fitting 37 is placed in the half-hole 32 of the fixed jaw 24. The handle 120, which may be retracted in handle 28, and the handle 30 are engaged, and the handles 120, 30 are squeezed toward each other to move the handle 29 toward the handle 30, and the jaw 24 toward the jaw 24 to move the half-hole 32 of the jaw 26 over the ring 34. As the handle 28 moves toward the handle 30, the teeth 94 of the ratchet 90 individually move past the arm 98 of the pawl 100 (see FIG. 7) to prevent the handle 28 from moving away from the handle 30 under the biasing force of the spring 72 (see FIGS. 2-4) as discussed above. When the handles 28, 30 are close enough for the user to grasp the handles 28, 30, the third handle 120 is released and the handles 28, 30 gripped by the user. When the handles 30, 120 are released, the spaced position of the handles 28, 30 is maintained by the ratchet 90 engaging the end 78 of the pawl 100.

The handles 28, 30 are grasped and moved toward one another to crimp the buckle 33 and the ring 34 to provide a fluid seal between the pipe 36 and fitting 37. With the handles 28, 30 in the engaging position, the ratchet 90 is moved past the pawl 100 allowing the pawl 100 to move out of engagement with the ratchet to its initial position, and the biasing force of the spring 72 is neutralized, as discussed above. The handles 28, 30 are slightly moved apart to activate the biasing force of the spring 72 to move the handles 28, 30, and the jaws 24, 26, away from one another into the non-engaging position to release the buckle from between the jaws 24, 26.

As can be appreciated, the handle subassembly 23 can be used with other head arrangements such as pliers, for example. Further, because many varying and different embodiments of the invention can be made within the scope of the non-limiting embodiments discussed herein, it is understood that the details herein are illustrative of the invention, and the scope of the invention is not limited thereto. More particularly, the scope of the invention is to be given the full breath of the following claims, and any and all equivalents thereto.