Title:
Filler Neck Closure
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to a closure engageable with a filler neck having an opening and a seal seat disposed axially facing said closure, the closure having a cup-shaped body having a top and a peripheral wall, a seal for contacting the seal seat, and releasable fastening elements interacting with the filler neck. At least two fastening elements are arranged circumferentially to extend axially from the peripheral wall. Each fastening element is arranged to engage with a corresponding lock surface located on the outer periphery of the filler neck remote from and facing away from the central axis of the opening.



Inventors:
Hansson, Lars (Angered, SE)
Bellander, Karin (Goteborg, SE)
Application Number:
12/013265
Publication Date:
07/17/2008
Filing Date:
01/11/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
215/305, 215/341
International Classes:
B65D55/02; B65D41/02; B65D53/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMALLEY, JAMES N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FORD GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES, LLC (DEARBORN, MI, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A filler neck and a cap, the cap being engageable with the filler neck, wherein: the cap has a cup-shaped body with top and peripheral walls and at least two releasable fastening elements which engage with the filler neck when installing the cap onto the filler neck; said fastening elements extend axially from the peripheral wall; the outer periphery of the filler cap has lock surfaces facing away from the central axis of the opening, each lock surface corresponding with one of said fastening elements; and the outer periphery of the filler cap has at least one guide.

2. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein each fastening element comprises a resilient tongue arranged to engage corresponding said locking surface by a snap action.

3. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein each fastening element is an integrated part of the peripheral wall.

4. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein the cap has at least three fastening elements.

5. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein the fastening elements are arranged symmetrically around the periphery of the peripheral wall.

6. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein the fastening elements are arranged asymmetrically around the periphery of the peripheral wall.

7. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein said fastening elements are provided with contact surfaces angled towards the outer periphery of the filler neck for cooperation with said locking surfaces having a circumferential protrusion extending around at least part of the filler neck.

8. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein said guide locates the cap in a predetermined position relative to the filler neck.

9. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein said fastening elements are arranged to act as guides.

10. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein the filler cap has an annular flat seal located on an underside surface made or a resilient material.

11. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein said flat annular seal is arranged for cooperating contact with a raised circular ridge on a seal seat on an upper surface of the filler neck.

12. The filler neck and cap of claim 1 wherein the cap has a handle having at least a portion thereof located remote from an upper surface of the cap.

13. A fluid closure, comprising: a cap having a cup-shaped body with top and peripheral walls and at least two releasable fastening elements; a filler neck engageable with said cap; fastening elements extending axially from said peripheral walls of said cap; lock surfaces on a periphery of said filler neck facing away from the central axis of the filler cap opening, each lock surface corresponding with one of said fastening elements; and a handle on the top of said cap having a graspable opening.

14. The closure of claim 13, further comprising: at least one guide on the periphery of the filler cap such that said cap is indexed to said filler neck when installed onto said filler neck.

15. The closure of claim 13 wherein said lock surfaces having a circumferential protrusion extending around at least part of the filler neck.

16. The closure of claim 13 wherein said lock surfaces having a circumferential recess extending around at least part of the filler neck.

17. The closure of claim 13 wherein a seal seat on a top surface of said filler neck has a raised circumferential ridge arranged for sealing contact against the seal.

18. A fluid closure, comprising: a cap having a cup-shaped body with top and peripheral walls and at least two releasable fastening elements; a filler neck engageable with said cap; fastening elements extending axially from said peripheral walls of said cap; lock surfaces on a periphery of said filler neck facing away from the central axis of the filler cap opening, each lock surface corresponding with one of said fastening elements; and guides on said filler neck, said guides causing said cap to be indexed in a predetermined position with said filler neck when said cap is being installed.

19. The fluid closure of claim 18, further comprising: a graspable handle on top of said cap.

20. The fluid closure of claim 18, further comprising: a flat annular seal placed on said cap which mates with a sealing surface on said filler neck when said cap is installed on said filler cap.

21. The fluid closure of claim 18 wherein said releasable fastening members have substantially identical dimensions.

22. The fluid closure of claim 18 wherein said releasable fastening members vary in dimension.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a filler neck closure provided with snap-on attachments for locking the closure in place. This allows the closure to be pushed straight onto the filler neck. The closure is removed by tilting and pulling a fixed grip on the closure to release the snap-on attachments. The invention is primarily intended for use on vehicles.

BACKGROUND

Commonly a filler neck includes closures or caps with a threaded connection or bayonet connection. Both connections suffer problems relating to relatively high friction forces when twisting the closure to remove it prior to refilling. The problem is usually caused by a seal made from rubber or a similar material being compressed to seal against a mouth surrounding the opening of the filler neck. Overcoming the friction between the contacting surfaces of the seal and the mouth may require significant force.

The above problem may be compounded by the seal sticking to the mouth of the filler neck, thereby increasing the required force to overcome the friction between the contacting surfaces. If the friction force is too high, a tool may be required to remove the closure, which may damage the cap.

An improved closure for a filler neck which is both held securely in place and is removable using a minimum of force is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An improved closure is provided by a filler neck engageable with a cap. The cap has a cup-shaped body with top and peripheral walls and at least two releasable fastening elements which engage with the filler neck when installing the cap onto the filler neck. The fastening elements extend axially from the peripheral wall. The outer periphery of the filler cap has lock surfaces facing away from the central axis of the opening and each lock surface corresponding with one of the fastening elements. The outer periphery of the cap has at least one guide. The cap has a graspable handle on top. The guides cause the cap to be engaged with the filler neck in a predetermined position or positions when being installed.

According to one embodiment, the invention relates to a closure or cap engageable with a filler neck having an opening and a seal seat disposed axially facing the closure. The closure has a cup-shaped body with top and peripheral walls, a seal for contacting the seal seat, and releasable fastening elements arranged for interaction with the filler neck. The peripheral wall is preferably, but not necessarily, cylindrical. In one embodiment, to assist location of the closure relative to the opening and the filler neck, the cross-sectional shape of the peripheral wall is substantially oval. At least two fastening elements extend axially from the peripheral wall. Each fastening element may be arranged to engage with a corresponding locking surface located on the outer periphery of the filler neck. The locking surface may face away from the central axis of the opening of the filler neck.

In one embodiment, the fastening elements are arranged symmetrically around the periphery of the peripheral wall. In this way each adjacent fastening element may be separated by 180°, 120°, 90°, etc. around the outer periphery of the closure. This allows the user to attach the closure onto the filler neck at any relative position where the fastening elements may connect with corresponding locking surfaces. This may be used when the relative position of the closure and the filler neck is of less importance. When the position of the closure may be chosen at random, guides in the peripheral edge surrounding the opening are unnecessary. In this case, the locking surface may have a continuous circumferential recess or protrusion around the filler neck. Alternatively, a number of guides, equal to or fewer than the number of fastening elements, are provided to allow the closure to be indexed in a predetermined number of fixed positions.

In another embodiment, the fastening elements are arranged asymmetrically around the periphery of the peripheral wall. According to one example, a closure with three fastening elements may have a first element on one side of the closure and a second and third element on the other side of the closure. The latter elements may be located at equal angles relative to a bisector created by a diametric line intersecting the first element. Hence if the second and third elements are located at angles up to 50° relative to the bisector, the angle between the first element and an adjacent element on either side is less than 130°. Alternatively, the angles between each subsequent fastening element may be different, such as 90°/120°/150° for a closure with three elements. This allows the user to attach the closure onto the filler neck in a single position only where each of the fastening elements may mesh with a corresponding guide surface in a peripheral edge surrounding the opening. This may be used when the relative position of the closure and the filler neck facilitates an ergonomic grip for the user. In addition, an indexed closure may be used for conveying important or required information about the closure, the substance to be filled, etc to the user.

The fastening elements may each have a resilient tongue arranged to extend towards and engage a corresponding locking surface on the filler neck by a snap action. The resilience of the tongues is controlled by selecting a suitable material and calculating a desired length and width of each tongue. The tongues may all be identical or have different dimensions. This selection and dimensioning determines properties such as the force exerted by the resilient elements on the filler neck to hold it in place and the force required for removing the closure.

In one embodiment, the fastening element is an integrated part of the peripheral wall of the closure. As such, each fastening element extends forward from the front edge of the peripheral wall in its entire length or is formed in the peripheral wall itself by substantially parallel slits along generatrices in said wall. Alternatively, the fastening element is formed by substantially parallel slits in the peripheral wall and is provided with a front portion extending forwards from the front edge of the peripheral wall.

In one embodiment, the closure is provided with locking surfaces provided with contact surfaces for cooperation with corresponding locking surfaces having a protrusion extending circumferentially around at least part of the filler neck. Alternatively, the locking surfaces may have a recess extending circumferentially around at least part of the filler neck.

The contact surfaces are angled relative to the outer periphery of the filler neck so that a plane in the main direction of each contact surface is angled so that it diverges from a central axis of the filler neck in the direction of the opening. The protrusion or recess in the outer surface of the filler neck has a shape that substantially conforms to a corresponding contact surface, so that the contact surface on a fastening element can mate with a corresponding locking surface on the protrusion or recess when the closure is mounted on the filler neck. Each contact surface may have a substantially flat surface, although at least a part of the surface may also have a predetermined curvature in a radial plane through the closure. For instance, a first section of the contact surfaces adjacent the base of a resilient tongue may have a substantially flat surface angled so that it diverges from a central axis of the filler neck in the direction of the opening. A second section may be substantially J-shaped, curving downwards and inwards, towards a radial plane through the filler neck. This second section may be relatively short and can cooperate with a similarly curved section of the corresponding locking surface to achieve a more secure locking of the closure onto the filler neck.

The closure may have at least one guide interacting with the filler neck for locating the closure relative to the filler neck. According to one example, the fastening elements are arranged to act as guides, interacting with corresponding recesses or protrusions. Alternatively, the closure and the filler neck are provided with separate guides and corresponding guide surfaces to facilitate the user in indexing the closure prior to mounting.

When mounting the closure, it is lined up relative to the filler neck before being moved towards said filler neck. The resilient tongues making up the fastening elements are forced radially outwards when contacting locking surfaces on the filler neck. To facilitate this displacement of the resilient tongues, an inner surface of the tip of each resilient tongue may be beveled so that the innermost surface at the tip is located radially inside an outermost surface of the locking surfaces at the periphery of the filler neck adjacent the opening. As the seal on the closure comes into contact with the seal seat around the opening of the filler neck, the resilient tongues will substantially simultaneously snap into contact with locking surfaces on their respective protrusion or recess. The angle and/or the shape of the cooperating surfaces of the mating contact and locking surfaces, in combination with a continued radial deformation of the resilient tongues, will provide a sufficient force for retaining the closure in place on the filler neck.

To remove the closure the user may grip the closure and tilt it relative to the filler neck. The closure may, for instance, be tilted towards the user about an imaginary axis located at a tangent to a contact point between a radially outer and upper part of the filler neck and an inner and lower part of the peripheral wall. When titling a closure having three asymmetrically positioned tongues in what is deemed the most natural direction for the user, an imaginary axis around which the oil filler cap is tilted may be substantially parallel to a line intersecting the base of those two resilient tongues located closest together. For a closure having three symmetrically arranged tongues, this applies to any two adjacent tongues. A predetermined force applied to the closure in this way will overcome the retaining force of the resilient tongue on the side of the closure facing away from the user. Preferably, but not necessarily, the force applied by the user in a direction deemed most ergonomic should be concentrated to as few resilient tongues as possible. However, the invention is not limited to this example, as the user may tilt the closure in any convenient direction to open it. The closure may also be opened by pulling it straight out from the filler neck, but this will require a relatively large force.

To facilitate removal of the cap, it may be provided with a suitable handle or grip. According to one example, the handle is substantially U-shaped and attached across the upper surface of the closure to allow two or more fingers to be inserted through said handle. Alternatively, the handle has a bar extending across the upper surface of the closure, where a recess in the upper surface allows the user to grip around said bar to remove the closure. According to a further example, the closure is provided with a substantially T-shaped handle or grip, wherein the user may grip a horizontal bar located substantially parallel to and remote from the upper surface of the closure. By arranging at least a portion of the handle remote from the upper surface, as described in the above examples, an improved grip is provided for the user. By providing a handle or grip of this type there will also be sufficient space on the upper surface of the closure for symbols or text conveying instructions or a warning to the user.

The seal provided in the closure may be an annular flat seal made of a resilient material, such as rubber. The type of material used in the seal is selected so that it is suitable for exposure to the liquid filled into the filler neck. The flat annular seal is arranged for cooperating contact with the seal seat facing the closure. To reduce the risk of the seal sticking to the seal seat, the seat may be provided with a raised circumferential ridge on its upper surface. When the seal is pressed against the seal seat during mounting of the closure, the ridge will be forced into the facing surface of the seal. The local compression of the seal caused by the ridge may assist in maintaining a tight and leak proof seal, as well as assisting in pushing the closure away from the seal seat when the closure is opened.

The filler neck and its closure as described above are particularly suited for use in a vehicle. For example, an internal-combustion engine having an oil filler neck provided with an oil filler opening may be provided with a closure according to the invention. In the case of an oil filler closure the invention allows a conventional O-ring to be replaced by a flat, annular seal and significantly reduces the force required to remove the closure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the following text, the invention will be described in detail with reference to the attached drawings. These schematic drawings are used for illustration only and do not in any way limit the scope of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a filler neck with a closure in the form of an oil filler cap, according to a first embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 shows the filler neck of FIG. 1 with the oil filler cap removed;

FIG. 3 shows a lower perspective view of the oil filler cap of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 shows a cross-sectional view through the oil filler cap of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows a filler neck 1 with a closure 2 according to a first embodiment of the invention. According to this embodiment, the closure is an oil filler cap 2 engageable with an oil filler neck 1 on an internal combustion engine. The oil filler cap 2 has a cup-shaped body having a top 3 with an upper surface 4 facing the user and a peripheral wall 5. The peripheral wall 5 is provided with releasable fastening elements in the shape of resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 arranged for interaction with the filler neck 1. The embodiment shows an oil filler cap 2 held in place by three resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 (one shown). The resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 will be described in further detail in connection with FIGS. 3 and 4. Peripheral wall 5 shown in this example is cylindrical and substantially concentrically mounted onto filler neck 1. In this example, three resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 are integrated in and extend axially from the peripheral wall 5.

FIG. 2 shows the filler neck 1 of FIG. 1 with the oil filler cap 2 removed. Filler neck 1 has an opening 10 and a seal seat 11 disposed axially facing oil filler cap 2. Each resilient tongue 6, 7, 8 is arranged to engage with a guide 12, 13, 14 in the upper section 9 of filler neck 1. In this example, each guide is in the form of a recess 12, 13, 14 located in an outer peripheral edge 15 of the upper section 9 of the filler neck 1. Recesses 12, 13, 14 are located remote from opening 10 and below the upper surface of seal seat 11 of filler neck 1. The radially inner section of the recesses 12, 13, 14 are provided with locking surfaces 16, 17, 18 facing away from central axis, X, of opening 10, as will be described in further detail below.

Resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 are arranged asymmetrically around the periphery of peripheral wall 5. This allows the user to attach oil filler cap 2 onto filler neck 1 in a single position where each of the resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 are used to guide the oil filler cap 2 into position using the recesses 12, 13, 14 in the peripheral edge 15 surrounding the opening 10. This solution can be used when the relative position of the oil filler cap and the filler neck is used for facilitating an ergonomic grip for the user. When gripping a substantially U-shaped handle 19 and removing the oil filler cap 2 the user is required to apply as little force to the handle 19 as possible. For instance, when tilting an oil filler cap having three asymmetrically positioned tongues in what is deemed the most natural direction for the user, an imaginary axis around which the oil filler cap is tilted should be substantially parallel to a line intersecting the base of the pair of resilient tongues located closest together. The force applied by the user is thereby substantially concentrated to the single remaining resilient tongue. In addition, a correctly positioned oil filler cap can be used for conveying important or required information about the oil filler cap, the substance to be filled, etc. to the user. In such an embodiment, the oil filler cap is mounted so that the text is oriented towards the user.

Alternatively, the fastening elements are arranged symmetrically around the periphery of the peripheral wall. This allows the user to attach the oil filler cap onto the filler neck at any relative position where the fastening elements mesh with corresponding guiding recesses in a peripheral edge surrounding the opening at the upper portion of the filler neck. This solution may be used when the relative position of the oil filler cap and the filler neck is less important.

FIG. 3 shows a lower perspective view of an oil filler cap 2 according to the invention. In FIG. 3, the relative positions of the resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 are indicated. As shown by the resilient tongue 8, the tongue is separated from the resilient wall 5 by slots 21, 22, so that the resilient tongue 8 extends from an inner, lower surface 23 of the top 3 of the oil filler cap 2 to a position a short distance below a lower circumferential edge 24 of the peripheral wall 5. The resilient properties of the tongues 6, 7, 8 are determined by selecting a suitable material and calculating a desired length and width of each tongue. In this embodiment, the tongues are identical. The location of asymmetrically positioned resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 has been selected so that the two tongues 7, 8 arranged closer together are also closer to the user.

Oil filler cap 2 is provided with a seal 25 for contacting the seal seat 11 of the filler neck 1. In this example, the seal is an annular flat seal 25 having a resilient material, such as rubber. The type of material used in seal 25 is selected so that it is suitable for exposure to the liquid filled into the filler neck, e.g., engine oil. Annular flat seal 25 is held in place by a number of projections 26, 27, wherein a first set of projections 26 extend radially inwards from the inner surface of the peripheral wall 5. A second set of projections 27 extend radially outwards from the outer surface of a cylindrical wall 28 extending from the top 3 of the oil filler cap 2 and arranged to support and center the seal 25.

To remove oil filler cap 2, the user grasps handle 19 and applies a force to tilt cap 2. When tilting oil filler cap 2 having three asymmetrically positioned tongues 6, 7, 8 as shown in FIG. 2, the user tilts oil filler cap 2 about an imaginary axis substantially parallel to a line intersecting the base of tongues 7, 8 located closest together. The force applied by the user is thereby substantially concentrated to the remaining tongue 6. When the force applied by the user exceeds a predetermined limit, the first tongue 6 will flex radially outwards and move out of contact with locking surface 16 as oil filler cap 2 is angled towards the user. Once tongue 6 is released oil filler cap may be removed.

When mounting, oil filler cap 2 is aligned relative to filler neck 1 using tongues 6, 7, 8 and their corresponding recesses 12, 13, 14, before being moved towards filler neck 1. Resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 are forced radially outwards when contacting the locking surfaces on filler neck 1. To facilitate displacement of resilient tongues 6, 7, 8, inner surfaces 31, 32, 33 of tips 34, 35, 36 of each resilient tongue is beveled so that inner surfaces 31, 32, 33 at each tip is located radially outside a corresponding radially outer surface of locking surfaces 16, 17, 18 at the periphery of filler neck 1. As seal 25 on the closure comes into contact with seal seat 11 around opening 10 of filler neck 1, contact surfaces 37, 38, 39 on the inner surface resilient tongues 6, 7, 8 substantially simultaneously snap into contact with their respective locking surfaces 16, 17, 18. The angle and/or the shape of the cooperating surfaces of the mating contact and locking surfaces, in combination with a continued radial deformation of the resilient tongues, provide a sufficient force for retaining oil filler cap 2 in place on filler neck 1.

FIG. 4 shows a cross-sectional view through oil filler cap 2 and filler neck 1 of FIG. 1 showing oil filler cap 2 in a position immediately prior to mounting (left hand section) and in its mounted position (right hand section). The cross-section is in a vertical plane through the resilient tongues shown in FIG. 3.

Immediately prior to mounting, resilient tongue 8 is guided into position by recess 14. Continued downwards movement of the oil filler cap 2 causes bevelled inner surface 33 at the tip of tongue 8 to contact a similarly beveled, or rounded, portion 40 of the locking surface. Both beveled portion 40 and the contact surface of the lock face away from the central axis X of opening 10. Resilient tongue 8 is forced radially outwards as oil filler cap 2 is pushed downwards. Once bevelled inner surface 33 at the tip of tongue 8 has passed beveled portion 40 of the lock surface, resilient tongue 8 snaps back into a locked position. In this position, contact surface 39 of resilient tongue 8 is held in contact with locking surface 18 of the lock surface by tongue 8. As oil filler cap 2 is pushed downwards, each resilient tongue 6, 7, 8 is arranged to snap into place substantially simultaneously. During the last downward movement of oil filler cap 2, flat annular seal 25 is arranged to contact and be partially compressed onto seal seat 11 facing oil filler cap 2. To reduce the risk of the seal sticking to seal seat 11, seat 11 is provided with a raised circumferential ridge 41 on its upper surface. When seal 25 is pressed against the seal seat during mounting of oil filler cap 2, ridge 41 is forced onto the facing surface of seal 25. The local compression of the seal caused by the ridge assists to maintain a tight and leak proof seal, as well as assisting in pushing the seal away from the seal seat when the cap is opened.

The invention is not limited to the above embodiments, but may be varied freely within the scope of the appended claims. For instance, FIG. 4 shows a filler neck having an upper funnel shape, wherein the locking surfaces are arranged as protrusions around the upper portion of the filler neck. Alternatively, the filler neck can have are substantially cylindrical shape, wherein the locking surfaces can be arranged as circumferential recesses in the outer surface of the filler neck.