Title:
FUEL FACTS INDICATOR FOR GASOLINE CONTAINERS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fuel information system, e.g., for use in conjunction with fuel storage containers, is provided. The fuel information system will include a separate or stand alone system that can be fastened to, disposed about, or affixed, to the fuel storage container that is capable of providing data to a user of the container relating to the contents and/or characteristics of the fuel contained within the fuel storage container. The data on the fuel information system can include, without limitation: (1) the type of fuel being stored (e.g., leaded, unleaded, grade (e.g., regular, mid-grade, premium); (2) the fuel/oil mixture ratio, if applicable; (3) whether or not a stabilizing agent has been added to the fuel; (4) the date the fuel was added to the container; and (5) a location or place for “where used” information indicating the type(s) of equipment the particular fuel is intended to be used in.



Inventors:
Martin, John C. (Birmingham, MI, US)
Application Number:
12/030641
Publication Date:
08/21/2008
Filing Date:
02/13/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/459.5
International Classes:
B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMITH, RICHARD A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOWARD & HOWARD ATTORNEYS PLLC (ROYAL OAK, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fuel information system for use in conjunction with a fuel storage container, comprising: a substantially planar base member; an area defining an aperture formed in a surface of the base member; at least one disk member rotatably attached to a surface of the base member; and at least one indicia disposed on a surface of the disk member for indicating a characteristic of a fuel stored in the container.

2. The invention according to claim 1, wherein the characteristic includes the type of fuel that is stored in the container.

3. The invention according to claim 1, wherein the characteristic includes the fuel/oil mixture ratio of the fuel that is stored in the container.

4. The invention according to claim 1, wherein the characteristic includes whether or not a stabilizing agent has been added to the fuel that is stored in the container.

5. The invention according to claim 1, wherein the characteristic includes the date the fuel was added to the fuel storage container.

6. The invention according to claim 1, wherein the characteristic includes the type of equipment the fuel that is stored in the container is intended to be used with.

7. The invention according to claim 1, further comprising an attachment member for attaching the base member to the fuel storage container.

8. The invention according to claim 7, wherein the attachment member comprises an adhesive material disposed on a surface of the base member.

9. The invention according to claim 7, wherein the attachment member comprises a loop member received through the aperture and disposed about a portion of fuel storage container.

10. The invention according to claim 1, wherein a plurality of indicia is disposed on the surface of the disk member.

11. A fuel information system for use in conjunction with a fuel storage container, comprising: a substantially planar base member; an area defining an aperture formed in a surface of the base member; and at least one indicia rotatably associated with a surface of the base member for indicating a characteristic of a fuel stored in the container.

12. The invention according to claim 11, wherein the characteristic is selected from the group consisting of the type of fuel that is stored in the container, the fuel/oil mixture ratio of the fuel that is stored in the container, whether or not a stabilizing agent has been added to the fuel that is stored in the container, the date the fuel was added to the fuel storage container, the type of equipment the fuel that is stored in the container is intended to be used with, and combinations thereof.

13. The invention according to claim 11, further comprising an attachment member for attaching the base member to the fuel storage container.

14. The invention according to claim 13, wherein the attachment member comprises an adhesive material disposed on a surface of the base member.

15. The invention according to claim 13, wherein the attachment member comprises a loop member received through the aperture and disposed about a portion of fuel storage container.

16. The invention according to claim 11, wherein a plurality of indicia is disposed on the surface of the disk member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The instant application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/889,689, filed Feb. 13, 2007, and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/942,693, filed Jun. 8, 2007, the entire specifications of both of which are expressly incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to fuel storage containers and more particularly to a fuel information system for use with fuel storage containers.

2. Description of the Related Art

In use today are literally millions of containers designed to hold fuel products, e.g., gasoline, gasoline/oil mixtures, kerosene, and the like. By far the most common of these are the typically red colored containers that are intended for storing gasoline and/or gasoline/oil mixtures. Some of these containers are designed to be no more than storage and transport vessels, while others are designed to be integrated or connected to particular pieces of equipment, e.g., an outboard motor. All of them have one thing in common and that is that the gasoline stored within them can take a number of forms. For example, the gasoline can be premium unleaded, mid-range unleaded, regular unleaded, and/or regular leaded. The fuel can also be a mixture of gasoline and oil in a particular ratio of 50/1, 40/1, 32/1, 24/1, 16/1, or some other ratios. Unfortunately, one can not tell from the outside of the gasoline container which of the above formulations is within, and because it is extremely important that the appropriate fuel formulation be used with the appropriate equipment, most people use markers or other writing instruments to write on the fuel containers or they note the type of fuel on a piece of paper and then tape it to the container. Because gasoline can, over time, become “stale” and clog up the inner workings of engines, the date on which the container was filled with the gasoline is also noted so that, in those instances where the fuel is not used frequently, the user can know when to discard the fuel and buy a fresh batch. Also, due to the tendency of gas to become stale, some consumers add a stabilizing agent, e.g., STA-BIL®, to prolong the life of the gasoline and note that fact on the gas container as well. This marking on the container or taping of the information onto the container does provide a method of “storing” the information about the gas container's contents but it severely limits one's flexibility in the use of containers once the markings have been added and in the case of the taped on information, the “data” is frequently torn off or somehow altered during the course of storing or using the product so as to make it illegible or otherwise unreadable.

Accordingly, there exists a need for a new and improved fuel information system for use with fuel storage containers that overcome at least one of the aforementioned problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the general teachings of the present invention, a fuel information system, e.g., for use in conjunction with fuel storage containers, is provided. In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, the fuel information system will include a separate or stand alone system that can be fastened to, disposed about, or affixed to, the fuel storage container that is capable of providing data to a user of the container relating to the contents and/or characteristics of the fuel contained within the fuel storage container.

The data can be recorded on or entered into (e.g., by selectively manipulating information bearing or depicting dials, buttons, and/or the like) the fuel information system dynamically (e.g., able to be changed as circumstances warrant thus allowing the same fuel information system to be used over and over again).

By way of a non-limiting example, it is envisioned that the fuel information system can be attached to the fuel storage container using sticky-back tape (e.g., double-sided adhesive tape) or some other similar methods. By way of another non-limiting example, it is envisioned that the fuel information system can be incorporated into a fob-like member that can be loosely attached about a portion (e.g., the handle) of the fuel storage container using a small chain loop, rope, twine, plastic zip tie, or some other similar methods.

The major data elements that will be stored on or contained on the fuel information system include, without limitation: (1) the type of fuel being stored (e.g., leaded, unleaded, grade (e.g., regular, mid-grade, premium, and/or the like); (2) the fuel/oil mixture ratio, if applicable; (3) whether or not a stabilizing agent (e.g., STA-BIL®) has been added to the fuel; (4) the date the fuel was added to the container; and (5) a location or place for “where used” information indicating the type(s) of equipment the particular fuel is intended to be used in.

Further areas of applicability of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description provided hereinafter. It should be understood that the detailed description and specific examples, while indicating the preferred embodiment of the invention, are intended for purposed of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated, as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front view of a fuel information system, in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a fuel container having an area for receiving a fuel information system, in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a front view of a fuel type indicator wheel of the fuel information system depicted in FIG. 1, in accordance with a third embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a front view of a fuel/oil mixture indicator wheel of the fuel information system depicted in FIG. 1, in accordance with a fourth embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a front view of a fuel stabilizer presence indicator wheel of the fuel information system depicted in FIG. 1, in accordance with a fifth embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a front view of a month indicator wheel of the fuel information system depicted in FIG. 1, in accordance with a sixth embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 7 is a front view of a year indicator wheel of the fuel information system depicted in FIG. 1, in accordance with a seventh embodiment of the present invention.

The same reference numerals refer to the same parts throughout the various Figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following description of the preferred embodiment(s) is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the invention, or uses. Referring generally to the Figures, and specifically to FIG. 1, there is shown a fuel information system, generally at 50. In this embodiment, there are a plurality of moveable (e.g., rotatable) data dials 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60, respectively, attached (e.g., via rivets 52a, 54a, 56a, 58a, and 60a, respectively) to a substantially planar base member 62 that has index markers (e.g., an arrow head or other indicia) 64, 66, 68, 70, and 72, respectively, corresponding to each of the data dials 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60, respectively. Additionally, there is selected printing on the surface of the base member 62. The data dials 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60, respectively, have preprinted information on them that pertain to the fuel stored inside the container, e.g., type of fuel being stored (e.g., leaded, unleaded, grade (e.g., regular, mid-grade, premium, and/or the like), shown at 52; (2) the fuel/oil mixture ratio, if applicable, shown at 54; (3) whether or not a stabilizing agent (e.g., STA-BIL®) has been added to the fuel, shown at 56; (4) the month the fuel was added to the container, shown at 58; and (5) the year the fuel was added to the container, shown at 60. Additionally, a location or place for “where used” information indicating the type(s) of equipment the particular fuel is intended to be used in can be provided, shown at 74. Area 74 can be comprised of a durable surface wherein ink written thereon can be relatively easily erased, so that new information can be recorded thereon. The user simply turns the respective data dials to align the information on the data dials with the corresponding index markers on the base member 62 to indicate the information status of the fuel within the fuel storage container. The data dials can be stiffly or tightly mounted via the rivets so as to resist inadvertent rotation once the correct orientation is set. By way of a non-limiting example, a ball and socket arrangement can be used to ensure that once the correct portion of the data dial is aligned with the index marker, unintended movement of the data dials is prevented.

In use, the user would simply rotate the data dials to the appropriate locations, and write or mark on the pertinent areas of the base member 62 the “where used” information, expose the sticky side of the tape 76, and then attach the base member 62 (via the tape 76) to the fuel storage container. When new fuel is added to the fuel storage container, the data would be updated (e.g., by rotating the data dials as appropriate) or a new base member 62 would be appropriately positioned, marked and placed on the fuel storage container.

It should also be noted that other methods for securing the respective fuel information systems to the fuel storage container can be employed. By way of a non-limiting example, a small chain loop, rope, twine, plastic zip tie, or some other similar methods, can be employed, e.g., by placing these instruments through an aperture 62a formed in the member 62. These apertures can be formed on any of the embodiments described herein.

Referring to FIG. 2, there is shown a fuel storage container 200 having an area 202 for receiving a fuel information system 204. In this embodiment, instead of taping the fuel information system 204 to the fuel storage container 200, a system is provided for accepting or receiving the fuel information system 204 in a secure manner. This will necessitate a change or modification in currently available fuel storage containers. By way of a non-limiting example, the fuel storage container could be modified so as to provide mounting studs or holes for pop-rivets, and/or the like, such that, e.g., the data dials can be attached to the fuel storage container and subsequently rotated to provide the appropriate data setting. In addition, the fuel storage container would need a set of index markings for the data dials to be aligned to when data is to be presented. This can be done by modifying the current fuel storage container mold to add the index markings (and associated index names) or it can be done by simply placing a sticky tape label that has the index markings and associated index names printed on it on to the fuel storage container. A variety of aspects of this change/addition can be employed in order to implement this data storage capability (e.g., including simply physically attaching the fuel information system to the fuel storage container) into the fuel storage container but all would provide the same basic information, namely the type of fuel being stored, the fuel/oil mixture ratio, whether a stabilizing agent had been used, the date when the fuel was acquired and where the fuel is intended to be used.

Referring to FIG. 3, there is shown a front view of a fuel type indicator wheel 500 suitable for use with the fuel information system 50 depicted in FIG. 1. The circumferential surface of the wheel 500 is provided with a series of alternating divots, dimples, or depressions 502 to provide an uneven surface. An area defining an aperture 504 can be provided at the center of the wheel 500 to receive a rivet, axle or spindle for permitting rotation of the wheel 500. A series of outwardly radiating dividers or fingers 506 can be provided to form divisions between the various indicia 508 formed on the wheel 500. On a rear surface of the wheel 500, there can be provided a series of sockets 510, each socket 510 corresponding to each indicium 508 on the opposed face (e.g., each socket 510 being centrally located with respect to each indicium 508). Each socket 510 can be configured to selectively mate with a ball member (not shown) formed on the face of the base member 62 in proximity to the index marker 64. In this manner, once the correct indicium 508 is positioned with respect to the index marker 64, the ball member (not shown) is allowed to slip into the socket 510 and thereby hold the wheel 500 in place at the desired position.

Referring to FIG. 4, there is shown a front view of a fuel/oil mixture indicator wheel 600 suitable for use with fuel information system 50 depicted in FIG. 1. As previously noted, the circumferential surface of the wheel 600 is provided with a series of alternating divots, dimples, or depressions 602 to provide an uneven surface. An area defining an aperture 604 can be provided at the center of the wheel 600 to receive a rivet, axle or spindle (not shown) for permitting rotation of the wheel 600. A series of outwardly radiating dividers or fingers 606 can be provided to form divisions between the various indicia 608 formed on the wheel 600. On a rear surface of the wheel 600, there can be provided a series of sockets 610, each socket 610 corresponding to each indicium 608 on the opposed face (e.g., each socket 610 being centrally located with respect to each indicium 608). Each socket 610 can be configured to selectively mate with a ball member (not shown) formed on the face of the base member 62 in proximity to the index marker 66. In this manner, once the correct indicium 608 is positioned with respect to the index marker 66, the ball member (not shown) is allowed to slip into the socket 610 and thereby hold the wheel 600 in place at the desired position.

Referring to FIG. 5, there is shown a front view of a fuel stabilizer presence indicator wheel 700 suitable for use with the fuel information system 50 depicted in FIG. 1. As previously noted, the circumferential surface of the wheel 700 is provided with a series of alternating divots, dimples, or depressions 702 to provide an uneven surface. An area defining an aperture 704 can be provided at the center of the wheel 700 to receive a rivet, axle or spindle (not shown) for permitting rotation of the wheel 700. An outwardly radiating divider or finger 706 can be provided to form a division between the various indicia 708 formed on the wheel 700. On a rear surface of the wheel 700, there can be provided a series of sockets 710, each socket 710 corresponding to each indicium 708 on the opposed face (e.g., each socket 710 being centrally located with respect to each indicium 708). Each socket 710 can be configured to selectively mate with a ball member (not shown) formed on the face of the base member 62 in proximity to the index marker 68. In this manner, once the correct indicium 708 is positioned with respect to the index marker 68, the ball member (not shown) is allowed to slip into the socket 710 and thereby hold the wheel 700 in place at the desired position.

Referring to FIG. 6, there is shown a front view of a month indicator wheel 800 suitable for use with the fuel information system 50 depicted in FIG. 1. It should be noted that the first letter of each month of the year is shown in chronologically correct sequence, as opposed to the entire name of the month. As previously noted, the circumferential surface of the wheel 800 is provided with a series of alternating divots, dimples, or depressions 802 to provide an uneven surface. An area defining an aperture 804 can be provided at the center of the wheel 800 to receive a rivet, axle or spindle (not shown) for permitting rotation of the wheel 800. A series of outwardly radiating dividers or fingers 806 can be provided to form divisions between the various indicia 808 formed on the wheel 800. On a rear surface of the wheel 800, there can be provided a series of sockets 810, each socket 810 corresponding to each indicium 808 on the opposed face (e.g., each socket 810 being centrally located with respect to each indicium 808). Each socket 810 can be configured to selectively mate with a ball member (not shown) formed on the face of the base member 62 in proximity to the index marker 70. In this manner, once the correct indicium 808 is positioned with respect to the index marker 70, the ball member (not shown) is allowed to slip into the socket 810 and thereby hold the wheel 800 in place at the desired position.

Referring to FIG. 7, there is shown a front view of a year indicator wheel 900 suitable for use with the fuel information system 50 depicted in FIG. 1. It should be noted that only the last digit of the year would be displayed, thus making the wheel 900 suitable for multi-decade use. As previously noted, the circumferential surface of the wheel 900 is provided with a series of alternating divots, dimples, or depressions 902 to provide an uneven surface. An area defining an aperture 904 can be provided at the center of the wheel 900 to receive a rivot, axle or spindle (not shown) for permitting rotation of the wheel 900. A series of outwardly radiating dividers or fingers 906 can be provided to form divisions between the various indicia 908 formed on the wheel 900. On a rear surface of the wheel 900, there can be provided a series of sockets 910, each socket 910 corresponding to each indicium 908 on the opposed face (e.g., each socket 910 being centrally located with respect to each indicium 908). Each socket 910 can be configured to selectively mate with a ball member (not shown) formed on the face of the base member 62 in proximity to the index marker 72. In this manner, once the correct indicium 908 is positioned with respect to the index marker 72, the ball member (not shown) is allowed to slip into the socket 910 and thereby hold the wheel 900 in place at the desired position.

While the invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes can be made and equivalents can be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications can be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.