Title:
Bus module and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides a bus module for including seats with seatbelts into existing monocoque buses; a method for fitting the module, and a kit for use in the method of fitting the module.



Inventors:
Lukan, Matthew (Greenbank, AU)
Application Number:
11/999942
Publication Date:
06/19/2008
Filing Date:
12/07/2007
Assignee:
StyleRide Pty Ltd.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NELSON JR, MILTON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARK D MILLER (Fresno, CA, US)
Claims:
The claims defining the invention are as follows:

1. A module comprising: a longitudinal member of the wall of a monocoque bus spanning at least two vertical members and at least two lateral floor members, an end of a lateral member being joined to a vertical member; a metal strip spanning the lateral members and secured thereto; an angle-iron spanning the vertical members and secured thereto; and a seatbelt-incorporating seat, wherein the seat is secured at one end to the angle-iron, and at the other end to the metal strip via a leg.

2. The module of claim 1 wherein the seat is configured for a single occupant.

3. The module of claim 1 or claim 2 wherein the leg is adapted for bolting to the base of the bus.

4. A method of fitting a seatbelt-incorporating seat comprising a leg and a side portion into a monocoque bus, the method comprising: removing an existing seat from the bus if present; securing a metal strip to lateral members under the floor of the bus; securing an angle-iron to vertical members within a wall of the bus; attaching the seatbelt-incorporating seat to the metal strip via a leg included in the seat and to the angle-iron via an end of the seat.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the leg is attached to the metal strip by placing the metal strip above the flooring of the bus and in a suitable position for having a leg of a seat fixed thereto; placing a metal strip portion under a lateral member of the bus below the metal strip and attaching the strip portion to the metal strip.

6. The method of claim 5 wherein the strip portion is bolted to the metal strip.

7. The module of claim 1 or method of claim 4, wherein the seat is attached, via the leg of the seat, to the metal strip by bolting the leg of the seat to the metal strip.

8. A kit when used in the method of claim 4, the kit comprising: a seatbelt-incorporating seat; a metal strip and an angle-iron; means for attaching the metal strip and the angle-iron to members of a monocoque bus; means for attaching the seat to the metal strip and to the angle iron; and instructions for installing the seatbelt-incorporating seat in the bus.

9. The module of claim 1, wherein the metal strip is steel of about 40 mm width by about 10 mm thickness.

10. The method of claim 5, wherein the metal strip and strip portion is steel of about 40 mm width by about 10 mm thickness.

11. The method of claim 5, wherein the strip portion has a length of about 110 mm.

12. The module of claim 1, method of claim 4 or kit of claim 8, wherein the metal strip is substantially the length of the bus.

13. The module of claim 1, method of claim 4 or kit of claim 8, wherein the angle-iron is steel and has a width of about 50 mm.

Description:

This application claims the foreign priority benefits of Australian Patent Application No. 2006906975 filed on Dec. 13, 2006 which is incorporated herein by this reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to bus seats, in particular bus seats with seatbelts for small buses.

BACKGROUND ART

In Australia and worldwide it is becoming unacceptable to provide buses, mini-buses and people-movers without seatbelts. In many states and countries, legislation exists or is in the process of being passed which stipulates the use of seatbelts in these vehicles.

Most of the foregoing types of vehicles are manufactured without seatbelts. In order to comply with legislation, and ensure the safety of passengers, it is therefore necessary to either fit seatbelts to existing seats, or retro-fit seats which incorporate seatbelts.

The former option is generally not desirable as the seats provided with the vehicles are not designed to accommodate seatbelts. It is therefore most desirable to retro-fit seats incorporating seatbelts. Most buses and mini-buses have a discrete chassis and it is a relatively simple matter to anchor such seatbelt-incorporating seats to the chassis. However, monocoque buses, such as the Toyota Coaster and Iveco Daily, do not have a chassis. Retro-fitting in these vehicles is therefore not merely a case of attaching a belt-incorporating seat to the base of the vehicle, as it is for buses with a chassis.

The method presently used in monocoque buses is to remove existing seats from the bus, remove the existing flooring, and fit a metal frame into the vehicle, to which frame belt-incorporating seats are attached after a floor panel is fitted. There are a number of disadvantages to this method. The method is lengthy and expensive. More importantly, the metal frame alters the structural integrity of the vehicle, which is designed, as a monocoque vehicle, to be flexible. Introduction of the metal frame significantly increases the rigidity of the base of the vehicle, and thereby the strain to which the vehicle is subjected, particularly under collision conditions. In addition, in Australia, the integrity of monocoque buses retro-fitted in this manner has not been tested for legislative anchorage compliance.

Therefore, there would be an advantage if it were possible to provide a bus/bus seat module and method of incorporating seats with seatbelts into monocoque buses which overcomes or ameliorates one or more of the disadvantages or problems described above, or which at least provides the consumer with a useful choice.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first embodiment, the invention provides a module comprising:

a longitudinal member of the wall of a monocoque bus spanning at least two vertical members and at least two lateral floor members, an end of a lateral member being joined to a vertical member;

a metal strip spanning the lateral members and secured thereto;

an angle-iron spanning the vertical members and secured thereto; and

a seatbelt-incorporating seat, wherein the seat is secured at one end to the angle-iron, and at the other end to the metal strip via a leg.

In a second embodiment, the invention provides a method of fitting a seatbelt-incorporating seat comprising a leg and a side portion into a monocoque bus, the method comprising:

removing an existing seat from the bus if present;

securing a metal strip to lateral members under the floor of the bus;

securing an angle-iron to vertical members within a wall of the bus;

attaching the seatbelt-incorporating seat to the metal strip via a leg included in the seat and to the angle-iron via an end of the seat.

In a third embodiment, the invention provides a kit when used in the method of the second embodiment, the kit comprising:

a seatbelt-incorporating seat;

a metal strip and an angle-iron;

means for attaching the metal strip and the angle iron to members of a monocoque bus;

means for attaching the seat to the metal strip and to the angle iron; and

instructions for installing the seatbelt-incorporating seat in the bus.

With regard to the first, second and third embodiments of the invention defined above, the monocoque bus can be of any make and model. The invention is particularly suited to a Toyota Coaster or similar bus, for example the Iveco Daily.

The seatbelt-incorporating seat can be of any design, configuration and make appropriate for use in the invention, and which meets design and safety regulations. A seat can be configured for a single or multiple occupants. The StyleRide® series of seats is particularly suited for use in the invention as these seats meet design, safety and comfort regulations and requirements. Seatbelt-incorporating seats for use in the invention should preferably have a leg/legs appropriate for attachment to the base of the bus. Preferably, the leg/legs should be appropriate for bolting to the base of the bus.

The leg can be attached to the metal strip in any appropriate manner, but is preferably attached as follows: the metal strip is placed above the flooring of the bus and in a suitable position for having a leg of a seat fixed thereto; a metal strip portion is placed under a lateral member of the bus below the metal strip and the strip portion is attached, preferably by bolting from each end, to the metal strip. The seat is attached, via the leg of the seat, to the metal strip preferably by bolting the leg of the seat to the metal strip.

The preferred manner of attaching the metal strip to a lateral member in essence results in the formation of a U-shaped clamp about the lateral member, comprising the metal strip portion, and the bolts extending either side of the member between the strip portion and the metal strip.

The metal strip and strip portions can be any appropriate size and metal, but are preferably strips of steel of 40 mm width by 10 mm thickness.

Metal strip portions for placement under a lateral member of the bus can be of any practicable length, but are preferably only long enough to accommodate a bolt on either side of the lateral member as described above. However, if the configuration of the lateral member demands it, the metal strip portion can have a shape accommodating such a configuration, or the metal strip can be attached to one end of the metal strip portion only. For most of the seating positions in a Toyota Coaster, where the strip portion is attached to the metal strip on either side of a lateral member, a strip portion typically has a length of about 110 mm.

In the absence of lateral members, the metal strip portion can take the form of a bracket attached to the base frame of the bus. This would only occur in isolated positions in order to conserve the integrity of the bus, for example in respect of the seat forward of the door of the Toyota Coaster, and the seat situated above the battery box.

The metal stripper se can be any practicable length, but preferably extends substantially along the length of the bus in the bus seating area. The strip can also be of any practicable shape. The strip for the most part is flat. However, should the configuration of the bus demand it, the strip can adopt a suitable shape. For example, seat positioning over the wheel arch demands that the metal strip adopts a shape allowing the strip to traverse the top of the wheel arch, being attached to the lateral member on either side of the arch.

The angle-iron can be any appropriate size and metal, but preferably is steel and has a width across each flat of 50 mm.

A further advantageous aspect of the invention is that the metal strip and angle-iron can be attached to the bus members using existing drilled holes in those members, thereby negating the need to drill holes for bolts. In addition, attachment of the leg of the seat to the metal strip can also be achieved using existing boltholes in the lateral members of the bus.

When attached in the manner described above, the seatbelt-incorporating seat is easily and inexpensively attached to the bus, and complies with ADR-68.

In order that the invention may be more readily understood and put into practice, non-limiting examples of the module, method and kit will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings briefly described hereafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an isometric representation of two modules of the invention, excluding seats.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of two modules of the invention, excluding seat.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of the area marked ‘Detail A’ in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the area marked ‘Detail B’ in FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

As indicated above, conventionally the monocoque buses of interest are supplied with seats lacking seatbelts. In order to retrofit seatbelt-incorporating seats, it is necessary to remove the existing seats. The original flooring is retained and structural members of the bus used to construct a seat module of the invention.

The structural members utilized in the construction of a seat module can be appreciated from FIG. 1 which comprises sections of the wall and floor of a Toyota Coaster but with the wall and floor panels omitted so that the structural members can be seen. In the figure, there is shown lateral members (1, 2, 3), extending from side to side of the bus, and longitudinal floor members (4, 5), extending from front to back of the bus. Also visible are the existing longitudinal wall members (6, 7) and vertical members (8, 9, 10).

The elements of a seat module according to the invention can be appreciated from FIGS. 1 and 2. A metal strip portion (11) is placed under the lateral members (1, 2, and 3) and attached to the metal strip (12), which is placed above the longitudinal members (4, 5). An angle-iron which in situ comprises a vertical section (15) and a horizontal section (16), is bolted to the horizontal wall members (6, 7) and the vertical wall members (8, 9, 10) via the vertical section (15). An end (not shown) of the seatbelt-incorporating seat is then bolted to the horizontal section (16) of the angle-iron while the other end of the seat is fixed to the metal strip (12) by way of a leg (14).

In some instances, metal strip (12) will adopt a bent shape to accommodate a feature of the frame of the bus, for example the wheel arch. In that instance, the metal strip adopts a shape allowing the strip to traverse the top of the wheel arch, being attached to the lateral member on either side of the arch.

In some instances, the lateral members of the bus are not available for attaching the metal strip, for example for example positions in respect of the seat forward of the door of a Toyota Coaster, and the seat situated above the battery box. In these situations, the metal strip portion can take the form of a bracket attached to the chassis of the bus.

Module components are shown in greater detail in FIGS. 3 and 4. With particular reference to FIG. 3, there is shown metal strip portion (11) under the lateral members (1, 2, and 3) and attached to the metal strip (12), which is placed above the longitudinal members (4, 5), over the plywood flooring (18). The strip portions (11) and the strip (12) are bolted together with bolts (13) (M12 (8.8GR)) on either side of the lateral members (1, 2, 3).

With particular reference to FIG. 4, the leg (14) of a seatbelt-incorporating seat is attached to the strip (12). This is achieved using M12 bolts (20) in holes drilled through metal strip (12) and the plywood flooring (18).

A kit of the invention comprises a plurality of metal strip portions (11), at least one metal strip (12), at least one angle-iron (15, 16), bolts (13, 17, 19 and/or 20), and optionally includes StyleRide® seatbelt-incorporating seats. The kit also includes instructions for installing the seats in accordance with the invention.

Use of the kit of the invention in the method disclosed herein provides a monocoque bus comprising a set module which complies with safety and integrity regulations, and is uncomplicated and inexpensive to produce.

It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The above examples are therefore to be considered in all respects illustrative and not restrictive.

The term “comprise” and variants of the term such as “comprises” or “comprising” are used herein to denote the inclusion of a stated integer or stated integers but not to exclude any other integer or any other integers, unless in the context or usage an exclusive interpretation of the term is required.

Any reference to publications cited in this specification is not an admission that the disclosures constitute common general knowledge in Australia.