Title:
Tool to clean thin ducts including the blowing ducts of recorder musical instruments
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tool for cleaning thin ducts and/or channels (“ducts”) including the mouthpiece blowing duct(s) of musical instruments such as recorders and whistles, which tool is a thin plastic-like strip with a tongue (forward) portion followed by a corrugation pattern of wave-like surfaces which must compress in order for the tool to enter and pass through the duct to be cleaned. The user threads the tongue through the duct and grabs the finger-hold portion revealed, then pulls the tool completely through; as the compressed wave-like surfaces travel through the duct they act like squeegees, cleaning the walls and carrying the moisture and debris out; the compressed surfaces decompress/relax once outside the duct restriction. The user cleans the dirty tool on a tissue or towel and the tool is ready for reuse. The tool can be inexpensively mass produced by common methods.



Inventors:
Fields, Stephen (Palm Springs, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/380080
Publication Date:
08/27/2009
Filing Date:
02/23/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L13/10
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CHIN, RANDALL E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Stephen Fields (Palm Springs, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A tool for cleaning ducts comprising an elongated flexible strip with a leading edge, a trailing end, and a patterned region intermediate the leading edge and the trailing end, the patterned region comprising one or more flexible corrugations.

2. The tool of claim 1 wherein the depth of the corrugations exceed the height of the duct.

3. The tool of claim 1 wherein the leading edge is tapered or rounded.

4. The tool of claim 1 wherein there is pierced a utility hole.

5. The tool of claim 1 further comprising a flat tongue region between the leading end and the patterned region.

6. The tool of claim 5 where the tongue region is longer than the duct.

7. The tool of claim 1 wherein the elongated strip comprises a polymer.

8. The tool of claim 7 wherein the polymer comprises ABS, PVC, or polypropylene.

9. The tool of claim 1 wherein the elongated strip comprises an abrasive.

10. A tool for cleaning the mouthpiece duct of recorders or other musical instruments, the tool comprising a flexible polymer strip with a rounded leading edge, a flat tongue region adjacent the leading edge, and a pattern of peaks and troughs forming a three dimensional pattern adjacent the tongue region.

11. The tool of claim 10 wherein the depth of the peaks and/or troughs exceeds the height of the duct.

12. The tool of claim 10 further comprising a piercing defining a utility hole.

13. A tool for shaping narrow ducts comprising an elongated flexible strip sized to fit the duct and a patterned region, the patterned region comprising one or more flexible corrugations wherein at least a portion of the patterned region comprises an abrasive.

14. The tool of claim 13 wherein the depth of the corrugations exceeds the height of the duct.

15. The tool of claim 13 further comprising a rounded leading edge and a flat tongue region intermediate the leading edge and the patterned region.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to a simple compression tool to clean thin ducts and/or channels (ducts with less than 360 degree wall-surround) including the mouthpiece blowing ducts of musical instruments such as recorders and whistles.

2. Prior Art

Thin ducts and channels (herein also referred to collectively as “ducts” ) come in countless designs and applications including but not limited to mechanical, electrical and musical systems. Thin ducts can be difficult to access and/or clean.

Many musical instruments, especially of the woodwind type, including but not limited to typical recorders and whistles (herein referred to collectively as “recorders”) have thin, usually delicate mouthpiece blowing ducts. Recorders emit sound as a player blows into the blowing duct; unfortunately, as the player blows, saliva and/or debris are inadvertently blown into the duct, which deposits can very negatively impact the quality of sound emitted. Recorders have no automatic built-in way, such as a spit hole, through which to remove accumulated moisture and/or debris from the duct. This problem of a clogged and/or dirty blowing duct is age old; it affects all typical recorders.

Heretofore, there appears to be no dedicated tool to use to clean recorder blowing ducts. Recorder players, for example, have traditionally “cleared” their instruments' blowing duct by closing the top hole of the mouthpiece and then blowing hard into the blowing duct, hoping to blow the problem moisture and/or debris out in the same way the problem got blown in. The result of this redundant cleaning method is inefficient at best.

My invention is a tool that quickly, efficiently cleans and removes moisture and debris from thin or narrow ducts and channels, including the blowing ducts of musical instruments such as recorders, whistles, etc.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

Objects and Advantages of My Invention are:

    • 1) It is a simple, efficient tool to clean thin ducts and channels including the blowing ducts of recorder and whistle musical instruments.
    • 2) It can be easily designed as appropriate for the duct/channel to be cleaned and can be produced in/with countless designs variations.
    • 3) It can be made of “inexpensive” plastic or plastic-like materials such as ABS, PVC, polypropylene.
    • 4) It can be mass produced by methods as stamping, injection molding and can be made monolithically.
    • 5) It is repeatedly reusable if properly used.
    • 6) It is easily stored while not in use.
    • 7) It is stable yet flexible, does not shed, swell or damage duct walls.
    • 8) It employs the simple physics of compression/decompression.

Further objects and advantages of my invention will become apparent from the drawings and description that follow.

SUMMARY

In accordance with the present invention—a tool for cleaning thin or narrow ducts and/or channels including the mouthpiece blowing ducts of musical instruments such as recorders and whistles, which tool, is a thin plastic-like strip with a substantially flat tongue portion at one end, followed by a patterned region formed with flexible bends into and out of the plane of the flat strip portion. The bends produce a wave-like pattern of corrugations giving a three dimensional structure to the tool. The peaks and troughs of the patterned region retain the flexibility of the strip and may be compressed to allow the tool to enter relatively thin ducts. As the compressed peak and trough surfaces travel through the duct they act as squeegees, cleaning the walls and carrying any moisture and debris out; once free of the duct restrictions the tool decompresses, returns to the original shape. The user wipes the tool clean on a tissue or towel and the tool is ready for reuse. The tool can be inexpensively mass produced by common methods.

DRAWINGS—FIGURES

FIG. 1—shows the tool from the top and/or bottom.

FIG. 2—shows the tool from the side.

FIG. 3—shows a typical recorder musical instrument with mouthpiece labeled.

FIG. 4—shows the recorder with the tool inserted through the blowing duct.

FIG. 5—shows an enlargement of the recorder's mouthpiece section with a cross-section of the blowing duct with the tool threaded through duct.

FIG. 6—shows enlargement of front view of mouthpiece and blowing duct.

FIG. 7—shows a typical whistle.

FIG. 8—shows a whistle with the tool threaded through the blowing duct.

FIG. 9—shows generic circuit-type board with tool threaded through channel.

FIG. 10—shows a generic curved duct with the tool partially threaded through.

DRAWINGS—REFERENCE NUMERALS

21—Invention/tool

22—Leading edge

23—Tongue portion

24—Trailing end

25—Utility hole

26—High-low wave-like pattern

27—Recorder musical instrument

28—Recorder mouthpiece

29—Aft opening of blowing duct

30—Full length of blowing duct

31—Forward opening of blowing duct

32—Face of mouthpiece

33—Whistle

34—Whistle blowing duct

35—Circuit-type board

36—Opposing wall surfaces

37—Thin curved duct

DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows the tool 21 as an elongated strip with a leading edge 22 followed by an extended flat tongue portion 23; the leading edge 22 may be tapered or softened. At the opposite, trailing end 24 is a utility hole 25.

FIG. 2 shows the tool 21 from the side as a flat, flexible strip with a wave-like patterned region 26 which includes bends producing a corrugation pattern of alternating high and low sections comprising peaks and troughs forming a three dimensional pattern in the strip. A trough on one surface on the strip typically corresponds to a peak on the opposite surface, such as for cleaning two surfaces simultaneously (or peaks or troughs only for cleaning one surface only).

FIG. 3 shows a typical recorder 27, its mouthpiece 28 and the typically thin blowing duct including the aft opening 29, the duct's thin full length 30 and the forward duct opening 31. FIG. 4 shows the tool 21 threaded into and through the duct length 30.

The tongue portion 23 of the tool 21 is typically longer than the duct length 30 to be cleaned so the tool 21 can be threaded through the duct 30 to reveal the leading edge 22 and a portion of the tongue 23; this revealed portion can serve as a finger-hold at the forward duct opening 31 so the user can grasp the tongue 23 and pull the tool 21 including the corrugated patterned region 26 through the duct 30 to complete the process.

FIG. 5 shows an enlargement and cross-section of the mouthpiece 28 of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 shows the mouthpiece's 28 thin forward duct opening 31 through which the flat tongue portion 23 should easily pass to reveal the leading edge 22, per above.

FIG. 7 shows a typical whistle 33 and FIG. 8 shows the whistle's 33 blowing duct 34 being cleaned by the tool 21 of an appropriate size with all the same qualities and considerations as discussed above in terms of recorders.

FIG. 9 shows a generic circuit-type board 35 with two opposing wall surfaces narrowly separated 36 being cleaned by the tool 21 of an appropriate size. FIG. 10 shows a generic curved duct 37 with the tool 21 of an appropriate size threaded through. Again, the same tool but of appropriate size and considerations is/can be used in most all typical systems where there are thin ducts.

The three main recorder instrument sizes are soprano, alto and tenor; each looks similar except mostly for proportionate size difference. Each recorder size typically uses a different size, but otherwise similar, tool 21. Typically, the soprano, the smallest of the three, uses a tool 21 smaller in width and length than the larger alto; the alto typically uses a tool 21 smaller in width and length than the larger tenor.

The length of the tool 21 is typically determined by the length of the duct to be cleaned as discussed herein. The typical optimum length of the tool 21 for a soprano recorder is about 6 inches, for an alto about 7.5 inches, for tenor, about 9 inches.

The width of the tool 21 is typically guided by the width of the duct to be cleaned; optimally, the width of the tool 21 is tailored to fit the entire duct width, but not too snugly as to be difficult for the tool to travel through the duct, which tightness might potentially risk damaging the duct. Custom, complete width coverage can offer a thorough duct cleaning in a single pass of the tool 21.

Typically the width of the tool for a soprano would be just less than ½ inch, for the larger alto, about ½ inch and for the even larger tenor, just over ½ inch wide.

The depth/thickness of the non-patterned tongue 23 strip may be similar for all three sizes of recorders and is typically approximately 1/32 of an inch in thickness, thin enough to freely enter and pass through the duct 30.

The depth of the corrugation pattern is typically slightly larger than the duct depth to be cleaned; the height and design of corrugation pattern are dependent on, among other things, the type of duct surface to be cleaned and the material used in forming the tool 21.

The total, combined dimension, depth of the patterned region 26 for all three recorder sizes may also be similar and is typically in the range of 1/16 to ¼ of an inch.

Suitable materials to manufacture the invention include polymers such as ABS, PVC, and polypropylene.

Accordingly, the above stated is what I presently prefer, however, I see countless variations possible for the tool including, but not limited to, different: a) strip dimensions, b) compression requirements, c) compression and corrugation pattern designs, including whether the tool 21 is to clean one wall or two and what sort of operation is to be done—cleaning, polishing, abrading, to name a few and d) material considerations.

Operation

The invention/tool 21 operates in the same straightforward manner whether cleaning the thin ducts of mechanical, electrical, musical and/or other systems.

FIG. 4 shows the leading edge 22 followed by the tongue 23 of the tool 21 moving, in the preferred direction for recorders, first through the aft opening of the blowing duct 29, next through the duct length 30 and out the forward duct opening 31. The tool's typically flat tongue portion 23 is seen as longer than the blowing duct length 30 so when the tongue 23 is fully inserted/slid through the duct 30, a small portion of the tongue 23 is exposed. This portion may be used as a finger-hold for pulling the tool 21 all the way through the duct 30. The high-low wave-like surfaces 26 compress in order to fit into and be pulled through the duct 30 and then decompress/relax upon leaving the restriction of the duct 30 at the forward opening 31. As the compressed high-low surfaces 26 of the tool 21 are pulled through the duct 30, they act like squeegees pushing out against the walls thereby cleaning by removing and carrying moisture and debris out the duct 30. The user then cleans the tool 21 on a tissue or towel, disposing of the moisture and/or debris collected. The tool 21 is now ready for reuse. The process of threading the tool 21 through the duct 30 then cleaning the tool on a tissue typically takes only seconds.

FIG. 5 shows an enlargement of the mouthpiece 28 along with a cross-section of the blowing duct aft opening 29, duct length 30 and forward duct opening 31 with the tool 21 threaded through the duct length 30 as in FIG. 4, with operation per above.

It is worth noting that the mild compression/decompression forces of the tool 21 do not endanger the typical recorder's integrity; when properly designed and used, the tool 21 is totally safe and effective in most any sort of appropriate duct-tool combination.

It is worth noting that the user can manually assist the start of the compression of the high-low surfaces 26 by applying finger-pressure to the tool 21 as the individual high-low surfaces 26 enter the duct aft opening 29 per above.

While not in use, the tool 21 is easily stored: a) inside the body of the recorder 27, b) threaded into the recorder blowing duct 30 as shown in FIG. 4, c) hung via a utility hole 25 seen in FIG. 1 or d) in a music case or pocket, etc.

The tool 21 is efficient in cleaning the blowing ducts of other music instruments such as typical whistles 33 as seen in FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 therein using the same basic tool 21 operation to clean the whistle blowing duct 34 as described for recorders above.

The tool 21 is useful in cleaning ducts or channels of non-musical systems such as electrical systems. FIG. 9 shows a simple circuit-type board 35 with a single narrow channel between two opposing walls 36 formed by generic components. Such narrowly spaced walls 36 are easily cleaned with/by the tool 21 passing between them.

FIG. 10 shows the leading edge 22 and tongue 23 portion of the tool 21 threaded through a generic thin, curved duct 37.

As stated, the operation of the tool 21 is basically the same for most thin ducts and channels. Some ducts are more easily cleaned with/by the tool 21 moving in one designated direction such as with recorders per above; other ducts can be cleaned bi-directionally. In typical cases and usage, the entire cleaning process takes only seconds.

Conclusion, Ramifications and Scope

As can be seen, the invention is a simple and efficient tool to clean narrow ducts and/or channels including the delicate blowing ducts of musical instruments such as, but not limited to, recorders and whistles.

As can be seen, the tool uses the simple physics of compression-decompression to achieve the cleaning of ducts.

As can be seen, the tool is most efficient when appropriately designed for the duct to be cleaned and that, accordingly, there are countless designs variations including size, peak-trough pattern, utility hole placement, etc.

As can be seen, the tool can be made of “inexpensive” plastic or plastic-like materials such as ABS, PVC, polypropylene and it can, further, be mass-produced by methods such as stamping and/or injection molding and it can be made monolithically. Accordingly, the typical tool will be relatively inexpensive for consumer purchase.

As can be seen, the tool is repeatedly reusable, if properly used.

As can be seen, the tool is solid yet flexible; it is stable and does not shed, absorb, swell and it is does not damage duct walls if properly designed.

While the above description may contain specificities, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention but as exemplifications of the presently preferred embodiments thereof. Many other ramifications and variations are possible, for example: a) the high-low low, peak-trough surfaces can be formed of or fitted with abrasive materials/surfaces to reshape or deeply scrub a duct, b) the high-low surfaces can be spaced differently, the peaks and/or troughs can be presented in different angles, heights, patterns, etc. For example, the spacing or depth of the corrugations need not be uniform over the full extent of the patterned region. The corrugations may be unevenly distributed with respect to the plane of the strip, i.e. peaks may extend further from one side of the strip than from the other. This may include the case where peaks extend only beyond one surface of the strip, enabling preferential clearing of moisture or debris from one side of a duct. In this case, the depth of the corrugations is the distance from the top of the peaks to the bottom of the strip. In cases where a large amount of debris is expected, the patterned region may include peaks that are spaced apart from one another. This allows a large amount of debris to be carried out of the duct in the relatively flat space between the peaks. Some embodiments of the invention include combinations of these variations; for example, widely spaced peaks extending only beyond one surface of the strip may incorporate abrasive materials to selectively abrade and reshape a duct.

Thus, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents and not by the examples given.





 
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