Title:
Automotive fuel filling system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An automotive fuel filling system which inhibits automotive fueling from a smaller of two different diameter fuel nozzles. The system includes a funnel assembly having a circular port adapted to receive the fuel nozzle. A nozzle valve assembly includes at least two segments and is disposed in series with the port. Each segment, furthermore, is pivotal between an open and a closed position. When all segments are in the closed position, the nozzle valve assembly serves to prevent dust and debris from reaching the flapper valve. A hook is attached to a radially inner end of each nozzle valve segment and a cam is also attached to each nozzle valve segment configured to provide a clearance between the end of only the larger nozzle and the hooks upon insertion of the larger nozzle, but not upon insertion of the smaller nozzle.



Inventors:
Gabbey, David (Pinckney, MI, US)
Cunkle, Daniel P. (Jonesville, MI, US)
Stancu, Sorin (Dearborn, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/465910
Publication Date:
02/21/2008
Filing Date:
08/21/2006
Assignee:
Martinrea Industries, Inc. (Dexter, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B1/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NIESZ, JASON KAROL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DINSMORE & SHOHL LLP (TROY, MI, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An automotive fuel filling system which inhibits automotive fueling from a smaller of two different diameter fuel nozzles comprising: a funnel assembly having a circular part, a nozzle valve assembly having at least two segments disposed in series with said port, each of said segments being pivotal between an open and a closed position, a hook attached to a radially inner end of each nozzle valve segment, a cam associated with each nozzle valve segment, said cams being configured so that, upon insertion of the larger diameter fuel nozzle into said port, the larger fuel nozzle contacts each cam on each nozzle valve segment and pivots each nozzle valve segment to said open position which provides a clearance between an end of the larger fuel nozzle and each hook and allows full insertion of the larger fuel nozzle into said port, and wherein said cams are configured so that, upon insertion of the smaller fuel nozzle into said port, the coaction between each cam and an end of the smaller nozzle is insufficient to create a clearance between the end of the smaller nozzle and each hook wherein at least one of said hooks engages an end of the smaller fuel nozzle and prevents full insertion of the smaller nozzle into said port.

2. The invention as defined in claim 1 and comprising a flapper valve positioned downstream and in series with said nozzle valve assembly and movable between a closed and an open position, said flapper valve being biased towards its closed position, said flapper valve being spaced from said nozzle valve assembly by a distance such that upon full insertion of the larger fuel nozzle into said port, said larger nozzle contacts said flapper valve and moves said flapper valve to an open position.

3. The invention as defined in claim 2 and comprising a spring which urges said flapper valve towards said closed position.

4. The invention as defined in claim 2 and comprising a seal mounted around an outer periphery of said flapper valve.

5. The invention as defined in claim 1 wherein said nozzle valve assembly comprises at least three segments.

6. The invention as defined in claim 5 wherein said nozzle valve assembly comprises at least four segments.

7. The invention as defined in claim 1 wherein each said nozzle valve segment and its associated cam are of a one-piece construction.

8. The invention as defined in claim 1 and comprising at least one spring which urges said nozzle valve segments towards said closed position.

9. The invention as defined in claim 1 wherein each valve segment and its associated hook are of a one-piece construction.

10. An automotive fuel filling system which inhibits automotive fueling from a smaller of two different diameter fuel nozzles comprising: a funnel assembly having a circular port, a nozzle valve assembly having at least two segments disposed in series with said port, each of said segments being pivotal between an open and a closed position, a hook attached to a radially inner end of each nozzle valve segment, a cam associated with each nozzle valve segment, said cams being configured so that, upon insertion of the larger diameter fuel nozzle into said port, the larger fuel nozzle contacts each cam on each nozzle valve segment and pivots each nozzle valve segment to said open position which provides a clearance between an end of the larger fuel nozzle and each hook and allows full insertion of the larger fuel nozzle into said port, and wherein said cams are configured so that, upon insertion of the smaller fuel nozzle into said port, the coaction between each cam and an end of the smaller nozzle is insufficient to create a clearance between the end of the smaller nozzle and each hook wherein at least one of said hooks engages an end of the smaller fuel nozzle and prevents full insertion of the smaller nozzle into said port, and wherein said nozzle valve segments, when in said closed position, block the entry of debris into said funnel assembly.

11. The invention as defined in claim 10 and comprising a flapper valve positioned downstream and in series with said nozzle valve assembly and movable between a closed and an open position, said flapper valve being biased towards its closed position, said flapper valve being spaced from said nozzle valve assembly by a distance such that upon full insertion of the larger fuel nozzle into said port, said larger nozzle contacts said flapper valve and moves said flapper valve to an open position.

12. The invention as defined in claim 11 and comprising a spring which urges said flapper valve towards said closed position.

13. The invention as defined in claim 11 and comprising a seal mounted around an outer periphery of said flapper valve.

14. The invention as defined in claim 10 wherein said nozzle valve assembly comprises at least three segments.

15. The invention as defined in claim 14 wherein said nozzle valve assembly comprises at least four segments.

16. The invention as defined in claim 10 wherein each said nozzle valve segment and its associated cam are of a one-piece construction.

17. The invention as defined in claim 10 and comprising at least one spring which urges said nozzle valve segments towards said closed position.

18. The invention as defined in claim 10 wherein each valve segment and its associated hook are of a one-piece construction.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

I. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to a fuel filling system for an automotive vehicle.

II. Description of Related Art

All automotive vehicles include fuel filling systems to allow the fuel tank of the vehicle to be refilled. Typically, the fueling system includes a funnel which is dimensioned to receive a conventional fuel filling nozzle. The funnel in turn is connected to the fuel tank for the vehicle.

There are different types of automotive fuel currently in use. These different fuels include diesel fuel and unleaded gasoline. In accordance with industry standards, the diameter of the fuel nozzle for each of the different fuels is different. For example, the diameter of the fuel nozzle for diesel fuel has a larger diameter than the fuel nozzle for unleaded gasoline. Furthermore, the use of the wrong fuel in the engine for the automotive vehicle may result in destruction of the engine.

It is relatively straightforward to prevent a car which uses unleaded gasoline from being fueled with diesel fuel since the nozzle for diesel fuel has a larger diameter. In order to accomplish this, a port restrictor is merely secured to the funnel assembly and this port restrictor has a diameter less than the diameter of the diesel fuel nozzle. Consequently, it is impossible to insert the larger diameter through the restrictor opening thus preventing an unleaded gasoline system from being refueled with diesel fuel.

Unfortunately, the converse is not true. Instead, the fuel nozzle for unleaded gasoline is smaller in diameter than the fuel nozzle for diesel fuel. As such, with conventional fuel filling systems, it is possible to inadvertently insert the smaller diameter unleaded gasoline nozzle into the funnel assembly for a diesel fuel tank and to fill the tank with gasoline rather than diesel fuel.

In one prior art device, flexible latches engage and retain the fuel valve in a closed position. Upon insertion of the properly sized fuel nozzle, the fuel nozzle engages the latches and flexes the latches outwardly to disengage the fuel valve and allow the fuel valve to open. However, the prior art device incorporates only one door between the interior of the fuel funnel and the environment, which may permit dust or debris to compromise the seal on the fuel valve. Other systems use a one-piece secondary valve which necessitates more space to the primary door. A one-piece valve also creates a side load on the nozzle, which is not ergonomically desirable to the operator.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The present invention provides an automotive fuel filling system which overcomes the above-mentioned disadvantages of the previously known devices.

In brief, the fuel filling system of the present invention comprises a funnel assembly having a generally circular port. The funnel assembly is fluidly connected to the fuel tank for the automotive vehicle and is adapted to receive a fuel filling nozzle.

A nozzle valve assembly having at least two segments is disposed in series with said port and preferably immediately downstream from the port. Each of these segments is pivotal between an open and a closed position while a spring or other biasing means urges the segments towards their closed position.

A hook is attached to a radially inner end of each valve segment. In addition, a cam is associated with each valve segment and these cams are shaped and located such that as a nozzle is inserted, the valve segments are spread apart. In the case of a diesel system, upon insertion of the larger diesel nozzle, the larger nozzle engages the cams, pivoting the valve segments sufficiently to provide clearance between the nozzle and the hooks which allows the fuel nozzle to be moved to a fully inserted position in the funnel assembly. In doing so, the nozzle opens a flapper valve downstream from the nozzle valve assembly thus enabling fueling of the vehicle.

Conversely, upon insertion of the smaller diameter unleaded gasoline fuel nozzle, the cams do not spread the valve segments sufficiently to create clearance between the nozzle and the hooks and at least one of the hooks on one of the nozzle valve segments engages the end of the nozzle and prevents full insertion of the smaller nozzle into the diesel funnel assembly. This, in turn, prevents refueling of the vehicle with the smaller nozzle since the flapper valve remains in a closed position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

A better understanding of the present invention will be had upon reference to the following detailed description, when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, wherein like reference characters refer to like parts throughout the several views, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary exploded view illustrating a preferred embodiment of the present invention prior to insertion of the fuel nozzle into the funnel assembly;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary sectional view similar to FIG. 1, but illustrating the fuel nozzle inserted into the funnel assembly;

FIG. 3 is an outside plan view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary partial sectional view illustrating a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary sectional view illustrating the operation of the present invention with enhanced hooks and the parts removed for clarity.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN EMBODIMENT OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

With reference first to FIG. 1, an embodiment of the fuel filling system 10 of the present invention is shown and includes a funnel assembly 12. The funnel assembly 12 has an open outer end adapted to receive a fuel nozzle 16. The other end 18 of the funnel assembly 12 is fluidly connected to a fuel tank 20 (illustrated only diagrammatically) for an automotive vehicle.

The funnel assembly 12 further includes a fluid port 22 in series between the ends 14 and 18 of the funnel assembly 12. This port 22 has a diameter slightly greater than the diameter of the fuel nozzle 16 for the proper fuel of the automotive vehicle. Consequently, if the automotive vehicle (not shown) operates on unleaded gasoline, the port 22 is sufficiently small to prevent the insertion of a fuel nozzle for diesel fuel. Conversely, if the vehicle utilizes diesel fuel, the port 22 is large enough to accommodate the larger diameter funnel 16 for diesel fuel and thus is necessarily larger than the diameter of a nozzle funnel 16 for unleaded gasoline.

With reference now to FIGS. 1-3, a nozzle valve assembly 24 having a plurality of valve segments 26 is mounted within the funnel assembly 12 so that the nozzle valve assembly 24 is fluidly positioned in series between the funnel inlet 14 and outlet 18 and preferably at or immediately downstream from the funnel port 22. As illustrated in the drawing, the nozzle valve assembly 24 includes four segments 26 (see FIG. 3), but it will be understood that fewer or more nozzle valve segments may be employed without deviation from either the spirit or scope of the invention.

Referring now particularly to FIG. 3, each nozzle valve segment 26 is generally pie shaped and is pivotal between its lowest position, illustrated in FIG. 3, and an open position, illustrated in FIG. 2.

With reference now particularly to FIGS. 3 and 5, a cam 28 is attached to each nozzle valve segment 26 so that the cams 28 face outwardly through the inlet 14 of the funnel assembly 12. The cams 28 are configured such that, upon insertion of the larger diesel nozzle 16, the nozzle 16 pivots the valve segments 26 open and creates a clearance between the hooks 30 and the end of the nozzle 16. Conversely, upon insertion of the smaller nozzle 16′, the coaction between the end of the nozzle 16′ and the cams 30 does not sufficiently spread the valve segments open to create a clearance between the nozzle end and the hooks 30.

With reference now particularly to FIG. 5, each nozzle valve segment 26 also includes a hook 30 at its radially inner end. The ability to resist insertion of undersized nozzles is enhanced if the hooks engage the inner diameter of the nozzle tip as shown in FIG. 5. Rocking the nozzle may sequentially disengage less aggressive hooks. Additionally, preferably the nozzle valve segment 26, cam 28 and hooks 30 are all of a one-piece construction. Furthermore, any conventional means, such as a spring 32, is used to urge the nozzle valve segments 26 to their closed position as illustrated in FIG. 1.

With reference now to FIGS. 1, 2 and 4, a flapper valve 40 is contained within and fluidly in series with the funnel assembly 12 and movable between a closed position, illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 4, and an open position, illustrated in FIG, 2. The flapper valve 40 is mounted downstream from the nozzle valve assembly 24 and in alignment with the nozzle valve assembly 24. A spring 42 (FIG. 4) urges the flapper valve 40 towards its closed position.

When the valve segments 26 are in their closed position, the valve assembly 24 seals the port 22 and protects the flapper valve 40 from dust and debris.

With reference now to FIGS. 1 and 2, upon insertion of the properly sized fuel nozzle 16 from the position shown in FIG. 1 and to the position shown in FIG. 2, the free end of the fuel nozzle 16 engages all of the cams 28 on the nozzle valve segments 26 and thus pivots the nozzle valve segments 26 from their closed position, illustrated in FIG. 1, and to an open position, illustrated in FIG. 2. In doing so, the fuel nozzle 16 is movable to a fully inserted position, illustrated in FIG. 2, in which the free end of the fuel nozzle 16 engages and moves the flapper valve 40 from its closed and to its open position. At that time, normal fueling of the automotive vehicle may proceed.

Conversely, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 5, in the event that a smaller diameter fuel nozzle 16′ for the improper fuel is inserted into the port 22 of the fuel nozzle, the free end of the fuel nozzle 16′ engages all of the cams 28 on the nozzle valve segments 26, but not sufficiently to create clearance between the tip of the nozzle and the hooks. Consequently, upon an attempt to further insert the fuel nozzle 16′ into the funnel assembly 12, the hooks 30 on the nozzle valve segments 26 which were not sufficiently opened by the nozzle 16′ engage the free end of the fuel nozzle 16′ and prohibit the further insertion of the fuel nozzle 16′ into the funnel assembly 12. At this time, the flapper valve 40 remains in a closed position thus preventing fueling of the automotive vehicle with the improper fuel.

From the foregoing, it can be seen that the present invention provides a simple and yet highly effective mechanism which prevents the fueling of an automotive vehicle with an improper smaller diameter nozzle. Having described my invention, however, many modifications thereto will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which it pertains without deviation from the spirit of the invention as defined by the scope of the appended claims.