Title:
Adjustable Gunnel - Mount Boat Tower
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A boat tower is disclosed that includes a boat tower riser fixed at a lower end to a plurality of pivots and that is selectively positionable between a raised position and a lowered position or any position therebetween. At least one linear actuator is further included that includes a piston moveable between a retracted position and an extend position. Each linear actuator has a distal end connected to the riser and a proximal end connected to the boat, or, in an alternate embodiment, to one of a plurality of pivot supports. In such an alternate embodiment, each pivot support includes an upper end engaged at least indirectly to one of the pivots to support same, and a lower end fixed to the boat. The boat tower may further include at least one elongated, rigid riser linkage having an upper end connected to the boat tower riser, and a lower end connected to the distal end of the linear actuator, such that the boat tower riser may travel back and forth between the raised and lowered positions in accordance with the position of the piston of each linear actuator.



Inventors:
Clemmons, John D. (Canyon Lake, CA, US)
Murphy, Michael John (Canyon Lake, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/966244
Publication Date:
07/03/2008
Filing Date:
12/28/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B17/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
VENNE, DANIEL V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
QUICKPATENTS (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A boat tower for a boat, comprising: a plurality of pivots; a boat tower riser fixed at a lower end to each pivot and further including an upper end, the boat tower riser pivotable between a raised and a lowered position; and at least one linear actuator having a piston moveable between a retracted and an extended position, the linear actuator having a distal end and an opposing proximal end, the distal end connected to the riser and the proximal end connected to the boat; whereby with the linear actuator in the extended position, the boat tower riser is moved to its raised position, and with the linear actuator in the retracted position, the boat tower riser is in its lowered position.

2. The boat tower of claim 1 further including a plurality of pivot supports each engaged proximate an upper end thereof to one of the pivots, and each fixed at a lower end thereof to the boat.

3. The boat tower of claim 1 further including at least one elongated rigid riser linkage having an upper end and a lower end, the upper end connected to the boat tower riser, the lower end connected to the distal end of the linear actuator.

4. The boat tower of claim 3 wherein the upper end of the riser linkage is pivotally connected to the boat tower riser, and the lower end of the riser linkage is pivotally connected to the distal end of the piston.

5. The boat tower of claim 1 wherein at least one of the linear actuators is a pneumatic cylinder.

6. The boat tower of claim 1 wherein at least one of the linear actuators is a motor-driven screw drive, the piston having a screw thread for traveling between the extended and retracted positions thereon.

7. The boat tower of claim 1 wherein at least one of the linear actuators is a hydraulic cylinder.

8. The boat tower of claim 1 wherein each linear actuator is fixed to an inside surface of the boat in a substantially horizontal orientation.

9. The boat tower of claim 1 wherein the proximal end of each linear actuator is pivotally fixed to the boat.

10. The boat tower of claim 2 wherein the proximal end of each linear actuator is pivotally fixed to one of the pivot supports.

11. The boat tower of claim 1 wherein each pivot is generally in the same horizontal plane.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/877,708, filed on Dec. 29, 2006, and incorporated herein by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to boat towers for water sport equipment, electronics, and the like, and more particularly to a boat tower having a novel lowering and raising function.

2. Discussion of Related Art

Elevated boat towers for pulling water sports enthusiasts, such as wake board riders, or the like, have become popular in recent years. Such towers can provide the water sports enthusiast more lift due to an elevated tow rope, and can further provide additional stored energy when used in combination with a recoil device such as disclosed in our U.S. Pat. No. 7,234,408, issued on Jun. 26, 2007. Other boat towers are known for supporting electronics, radars and antennas, fishing rod holders, fishing lights, and the like.

Such towers, however, significantly increase the height of the boat, and as such make it more difficult to drive, park, and store boats in areas having low clearance, such as a person's garage, or the like. Further, an elevated tower causes significant air drag while driving, and is subject to insect impacts, low clearance collisions, and the like.

While our previous patent disclosed a recoil device that in one embodiment of the invention temporarily lowers the height of such a tower, the tower quickly springs back up to full height due to the recoil device. As such, use if this device by itself is insufficient to allow a boat owner to park his boat in his garage, for example, without removing the tower from the boat, a difficult and time consuming task.

Traditionally, to lower the height of such a tower, some prior art towers allow for pivoting of the tower on two legs as two people support the tower. Such a two-person operation, however, is cumbersome and often not possible if two able-bodied people are not present.

Therefore, there is a need for a device that allows a user to lower the effective height of the boat tower while mounted to the boat. Such a needed device would be easy to use in that it requires just the push of a control knob or button. Yet such a needed device would need to be aesthetically pleasing. Indeed, such a needed device would allow for such function, in at least one embodiment, without being generally visible outside of the boat. Further, the needed invention would allow the tower height to be adjusted while the boat is pulling a water sports enthusiast, if desired, so as to provide for a custom rope towing height The present invention accomplishes these objectives.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present device is a boat tower that includes a boat tower riser fixed at a lower end to a plurality of pivots and that is selectively positionable between a raised position and a lowered position or any position therebetween. At least one linear actuator is further included that includes a piston moveable between a retracted position and an extend position. Each linear actuator has a distal end connected to the riser and a proximal end connected to the boat, or, in an alternate embodiment, to one of a plurality of pivot supports. In such an alternate embodiment, each pivot support includes an upper end engaged at least indirectly to one of the pivots to support same, and a lower end fixed to the boat.

The boat tower may further include at least one elongated, rigid riser linkage having an upper end connected to the boat tower riser, and a lower end connected to the distal end of the linear actuator. In such a preferred embodiment, each linear actuator is fixed to an inside surface of the boat and oriented substantially horizontally. As such, each linear actuator is not generally visible from outside of the boat, and the riser linkage causes the boat tower riser to travel back and forth between the raised and lowered positions in accordance with the position of the piston of each linear actuator.

The present invention is a boat tower that allows a single user to lower the effective height thereof by adjusting an automatic control for the linear actuators. The present device is easy to use, yet is still aesthetically pleasing in that, at least in one embodiment, the device can be included on a boat without being generally visible outside thereof. Further, the present invention allows the tower height to be adjusted, optionally while the boat is in use, so as to provide for a custom rope towing height as desired by a water sports enthusiast. Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a left-side elevational view of a boat with a boat tower of the present invention, illustrating a boat tower riser in a raised position;

FIG. 2 is a left-side elevational view of the invention, illustrating the boat tower riser between the raised position and a lowered position;

FIG. 3 is a left-side elevational view of the invention, illustrating the boat tower riser in the lowered position;

FIG. 4 is a right-side elevational view of the invention, as viewed from inside the boat, illustrating a piston of a linear actuator in an extended position;

FIG. 5 is a right-side elevational view of the invention, as viewed from inside the boat, illustrating the piston of the linear actuator in a retracted position;

FIG. 6 is a perspective illustration of an alternate embodiment of the invention, illustrating two of the linear actuators fixed between two pivot supports and the boat tower riser;

FIG. 7 is a left-side elevational view of the embodiment of FIG. 6, illustrating the boat tower riser pulling a tow rope fixed to a rope tie of the boat tower riser, the rope tie positionable at different heights according to the position of the linear actuators;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a screw drive linear actuator;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a hydraulic cylinder linear actuator; and

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a pneumatic cylinder linear actuator.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIGS. 1 through 3 illustrate a boat tower 10 for a boat 20. The boat tower 10 includes a plurality of pivots 40 each fixed to a lower end 64 of a boat tower riser 60. The boat tower riser 60 further includes an upper end 66 and is positionable between a raised position (FIG. 1) and a lowered position (FIG. 3), and any position therebetween (FIG. 2). Each pivot 40 is preferably in the same horizontal plane Ph, such that the boat tower riser 60 remains substantially longitudinally aligned with the boat 20 regardless of its raised or lowered position. The boat tower riser 60 is preferably made from elongated and substantially rigid metal or composite stock tubing, or the like, as is known in the art.

At least one linear actuator 100 is further included that includes a piston 110 moveable between a retracted position 114 (FIG. 5) and an extend position 116 (FIG. 4). Each linear actuator 100 has a distal end 106 and an opposing proximal end 104 (FIGS. 8-10). Each linear actuator 100 may be a pneumatic cylinder 120, a screw drive 130 wherein the piston 110 includes a screw thread 135 for traveling therealong, or a hydraulic cylinder 140 (FIGS. 8-10). Other types of linear actuators 100 may clearly be included without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention, as they become known in the art. Each linear actuator 100 is powered by a power source (not shown) switched by a controller located proximate a driver's console (not shown) of the boat 20, as is well known in the art. Other means of actuating each linear actuator 100 may also be used, such as through a remote control or the like (not shown), as is also known in the art.

The distal end 106 of each linear actuator 100 is connected, pivotally in some embodiments, to the riser 60. Likewise, the proximal end 104 of each linear actuator 100 is connected, in some embodiments pivotally, to the boat 20 (FIGS. 1-5), or, in an alternate embodiment, to one of a plurality of pivot supports 30 (FIGS. 6-7). In such an alternate embodiment, each pivot support 30 includes an upper end 36 engaged at least indirectly to one of the pivots 40 to support same, and a lower end 34 fixed to the boat 20. Each pivot support 30 is made from elongated and substantially rigid metal or composite stock tubing, or the like, as is known in the art. As illustrated in FIGS. 6-7, the pivot supports 30 may each have a different appearance and be made from different materials, provided each pivot support 30 helps to support at least one of the pivots 40.

In a preferred mode of the invention, the boat tower 10 further includes at least one elongated, rigid riser linkage 90 having an upper end 96 and a lower end 94. The upper end 96 is connected, preferably pivotally, to the boat tower riser 30, and the lower end 94 is connected, preferably pivotally, to the distal end 106 of the linear actuator 100 (FIGS. 4-5). In such a preferred embodiment, each linear actuator 100 is fixed to an inside or gunnel surface 25 of the boat 20 and oriented substantially horizontally. As such, each linear actuator 100 is not generally visible from outside of the boat 20, and the riser linkage 90 causes the boat tower riser 60 to travel back and forth between the raised and lowered positions 70,80 in accordance with the position of the piston 110 of each linear actuator 100.

While a particular form of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be apparent that various modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, each riser linkage 90 may incorporate a pneumatic or other means of shock absorption (not shown) in accordance with the present inventors' previous patent, U.S. Pat. No. 7,234,408, previously discussed above. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the appended claims.





 
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