Title:
Ratcheting adjustable tank band and buckle assembly for securing gas cylinders to backpacks
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A buckle assembly especially for use in securing gas cylinders such as scuba air tanks to a diver's backpack. A ratcheting feature of the buckle eliminates the need to reposition the buckle position to lengthen or shorten the band. The band in a preferred embodiment, is separated into two separate portions, but could be also one continuous element eliminating two separate attachments to the backpack. One belt portion is attached to the buckle at one end and is fixed to the backpack at the other end. The other belt portion contains the teeth at one end for receiving the buckle and the other end is fixed to the backpack. To secure the tank into the backpack, the tank is placed into the desired position, then the toothed end of the belt is placed into the receiving end of the buckle. The buckle is open to its longest position. The band end containing the teeth is slid into the ratchet portion of the buckle until it is tight. A spring beneath the ratchet member keeps the edge of the ratchet engaged with the teeth on the band. The buckle is then moved over center to the locked position, tightening and securing the end of the attached band beneath it. The pivot position of the over-center tightening action is calculated to provide the correct tightening force to secure the tank in place without the possibility of loosening or slipping.



Inventors:
Toth, Douglas J. (Huntington Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/008458
Publication Date:
07/16/2009
Filing Date:
01/11/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/273
International Classes:
A44B99/00; B63C11/22
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SINGH, SUNIL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AUSTIN RAPP (SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. The combination comprising: at least one scuba diver's compressed air cylinder; a backpack for holding said at least one cylinder on a scuba diver's body; and a buckle assembly for securing said at least one cylinder to said backpack, said assembly having first and second strap bands and a buckle receiving respective first ends of said bands in tightened engagement around said at least one cylinder, respective opposed second ends of said bands being affixed to said backpack; one of said first ends of said bands being affixed to said buckle and the other of said first ends of said bands having a plurality of sequential grooved teeth, said buckle having a ratchet lever for engaging said teeth.

2. The combination recited in claim 1 wherein said buckle further comprises a spring for biasing said ratchet lever into forceful engagement with said teeth.

3. The combination recited in claim 1 wherein said ratchet lever is configured for selective elevation about a pin to disengage said lever from said teeth for releasing said at least one cylinder from said backpack.

4. The combination recited in claim 1 wherein said buckle further comprises a cam-shaped cover for closure of said buckle, said cover positioned for both covering said ratchet lever and tightening said band affixed to said buckle around said at least one cylinder upon closure of said buckle.

5. The combination recited in claim 1 wherein said first and second strap bands are made of a material which resists stretching under tension even when wet.

6. The combination comprising: a compressed gas container; a backpack for holding said container on a person's body; and a buckle assembly for securing said container to said backpack, said assembly having at least one strap band affixed to said backpack and a buckle receiving respective opposed ends of said at least one strap in tightened engagement around said container, one of said respective opposed ends of said at least one strap band being affixed to said buckle and another of said respective opposed ends having a plurality of sequential grooved teeth, said buckle having a ratchet lever for engaging said teeth.

7. The combination recited in claim 6 wherein said buckle further comprises a spring for biasing said ratchet lever into forceful engagement with said teeth.

8. The combination recited in claim 6 wherein said ratchet lever is configured for selective elevation about a pin to disengage said lever from said teeth for releasing said container from said backpack.

9. The combination recited in claim 6 wherein said buckle further comprises a cam-shaped cover for closure of said buckle, said cover positioned for both covering said ratchet lever and tightening said band affixed to said buckle around said container upon closure of said buckle.

10. The combination recited in claim 6 wherein said at least one strap band is made of a material which resists stretching under tension even when wet.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of straps and buckles and more specifically to a buckle and flexible band assembly that is easily adjustable for securing cylindrical gas cylinders of differing sizes to a backpack or harness such as used by scuba divers, fire fighters or others that must carry a self contained supply of breathing gas.

2. Background Art

Various means of securing cylindrical tanks to backpacks and harnesses have been used. The most common in use today for Scuba Diving is a flexible webbing belt of synthetic material, secured by an over-center style plastic buckle. The webbing band is weaved through multiple slots in the buckle and adjusted to fit various size tanks by changing the position of the band with respect to the buckle. Changing this position requires slipping the webbing through the buckle to lengthen or shorten it in a trial and error manner until the correct band length is achieved. The excess band is typically held down in place by a Velcro hook and loop-fastening patch. This prior art design is inexpensive to produce, but difficult and time consuming to adjust. Additionally, the webbing may be prone to stretch once it becomes wet. It is common for these types of band assemblies to be tight prior to entering the water and become loose during the dive causing the tank to slip out of position, which could become hazardous.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides improvements over the prior art in several aspects. One such improvement is the band material itself. The band is a flat belt molded from a low stretch flexible polymer or fabric reinforced rubber with a toothed portion designed to fit into a ratcheting buckle. The material itself is not prone to elongation after becoming wet, conformable to fit the cylindrical tank, yet rigid enough to hold its shape and not be twisted or folded during assembly.

The buckle may be fabricated of either metal or plastic materials depending upon the application required. A ratcheting feature of the buckle eliminates the need to reposition the buckle position to lengthen or shorten the band. The band in a preferred embodiment, is separated into two separate portions, but could be also one continuous element eliminating two separate attachments to the backpack. One belt portion is attached to the buckle at one end and is fixed to the backpack at the other end. The other belt portion contains the teeth at one end for receiving the buckle and the other end is fixed to the backpack. To secure the tank into the backpack, the tank is placed into the desired position, then the toothed end of the belt is placed into the receiving end of the buckle. The buckle is open to its longest position. The band end containing the teeth is slid into the ratchet portion of the buckle until it is tight. A spring beneath the ratchet member keeps the edge of the ratchet engaged with the teeth on the band. The buckle is then moved over center to the locked position, tightening and securing the end of the attached band beneath it. The pivot position of the over-center tightening action is calculated to provide the correct tightening force to secure the tank in place without the possibility of loosening or slipping.

Adjustment each time a new tank is secured is simple and easy and there is no need to readjust repeatedly to find the correct tension. There is also no need to secure the loose end of the band with Velcro or other fastener because it is trapped beneath the band that is fastened to the buckle.

Removal of the tank is also simple, the buckle is opened to release the tension on the bank on the tank. The tank can then be lifted through the band-buckle assembly or alternatively, the ratchet lever can be depressed to free the toothed band, separating it completely from the buckle for removal of the tank.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The aforementioned objects and advantages of the present invention, as well as additional objects and advantages thereof, will be more fully understood herein after as a result of a detailed description of a preferred embodiment when taken in conjunction with the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a view of the buckle assembly of a preferred embodiment of the invention shown prior to insertion of the toothed band portion into the buckle;

FIG. 2 is a view similar to that of FIG. 1, but showing the assembly after insertion of the toothed band portion into the buckle;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the assembly corresponding to the configuration of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a view of the fully closed buckle assembly of the preferred embodiment; and

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the assembly shown securing a scuba tank to a backpack.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the accompanying drawings, it will be seen that in a preferred embodiment assembly 10, there are a buckle 12, a first band portion 14 affixed at one end to the buckle 12, and a second band portion 15 which may be selectively separate or attached to buckle 12 as will be explained herein.

As shown best in FIGS. 2 and 3, buckle 12 comprises a ratchet lock lever 18, a buckle frame 20, a cam lever 22, a pivot pin 24, a pair of lever pins 26, a ratcheted lever pin 28, a teeth engaging edge 30 and a ratchet bias spring 32. As shown further in FIGS. 2 and 3, second band portion 15 has a plurality of serrations or teeth 16 extending across the width of the band portion on one surface thereof. Those teeth 16 are threaded into the buckle 12 between the ratchet lock lever 18 and buckle frame 20 until they are engaged by edge 30 of lever 18. Bias spring 32 forces the lever 18 in a counter-clockwise direction around pin 28 thereby causing edge 30 to forcefully engage teeth 16 as shown best in FIG. 3. Second band portion 15 may be released from buckle 12 by simply pressing down on edge 19 of lever 18 causing edge 30 to be elevated around pin 28 and away from teeth 16. By closing cam lever 22 around pin 26, rotation movement of pin 24 around pin 26 causes a tightening of first band portion 14 by diminishing the circumference of the belt and buckle assemble 10. This is the assembly configuration shown in FIGS. 4 and 5.

FIG. 4 shows the assembly 10 fully closed and FIG. 5 shows the assembly 10 fully closed around a gas tank 32 with bands 14 and 15 affixed at opposite ends to a backpack 34. As seen best in FIG. 5, the free end of band 15 is either secured within buckle 12 or beneath the other band 14, depending upon the overall length of the bands 14 and 15 and the circumference of the tank 32. Moreover, because the bands are preferably made of flat, molded, low stretch polymer or fabric-reinforced rubber, the bands are not prone to elongation when wet as previously noted as a deficiency of prior art belt materials.

Having thus disclosed a preferred embodiment of the present invention, those having skill in the relevant art will now perceive various modifications and additions, which may be made to the illustrated example. Therefore, it will be understood that the scope hereof is not necessarily limited by the description of an exemplary embodiment, but only by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.





 
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