Title:
Power-Actuated Deploying Platform for a Small Marine Vessel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A power-actuated platform affixed to the frame of the marine vessel that rides on wheels that follow tracks to form a moving carriage. The relative angle of the platform in relation to the deck or water surface changes as the platform travels from a stowed position to a deployed position. The device is uses a powered actuator attached to a fixed substrate of the device at one end and the carriage on the other. The actuator can be controlled remotely by the vessel operator using a directional power controller affixed to the helm, by radio signal from a handheld unit that can be a cellular telephone, or by means of a plug-in the lanyard multidirectional controller. On a pontoon boat or catamaran, the platform of the present invention can be attached to the forward deck area for convenience. When deployed, the platform provides easy ingress and egress to the vessel.



Inventors:
Brown, Christopher (Merritt Island, FL, US)
Application Number:
15/290384
Publication Date:
05/11/2017
Filing Date:
10/11/2016
Assignee:
Brown Christopher
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B27/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040200397Rubstrip coextrusion for vesselsOctober, 2004Klein
20160096597PRESSURE BALANCE TYPE FLOATING BODY AND INSTALLATION METHOD THEREOFApril, 2016Yan et al.
20080121160Method and Building System for Manufacture a Floating StructureMay, 2008Ayras et al.
20100101476BOAT WINDOW SYSTEMApril, 2010Duffield
20080105186Boat Lifting Apparatus and MethodMay, 2008Johns Jr. et al.
20110126748WIND TURBINE HOLDING AND LIFTING SYSTEM AND MOVABLE OPERATING PLATFORM ABOVE WATERJune, 2011WU et al.
20040094080Device for varying a multihull capsizing torqueMay, 2004Leon
20070283869Pontoon boatDecember, 2007Quinn
20160129973VESSEL HULL CONFIGURATIONMay, 2016Armstrong
20160244134Individual swimming device and body for sameAugust, 2016Golovkin
20120060740Method and Apparatus for Retracting Mooring LinesMarch, 2012Stevens et al.



Primary Examiner:
VASUDEVA, AJAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CLIFFORD H. KRAFT (NAPERVILLE, IL, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A powered apparatus for ingress and egress from a small marine vessel comprising: a platform rigidly attached to separated first and second parallel horizontal axles with one or more elongated members, the first axle being vertically higher than the second axle; the first and second axles having wheels on each end with projecting end members; the projecting end members being inserted into first and second slot pairs in a parallel rigid frame, the first axle end members being inserted into the first slot pair, and the second axle end members being inserted into the second slot pair, the rigid frame constructed to be affixed to a front or rear deck of a pontoon boat or catamaran vessel; the first slot pair including first slots on each side of the parallel frame, the first slots running fore and aft and slanting upward at a predetermined angle; the second slot pair including second slots on each side of the parallel frame, the second slots running fore and aft and being level; each of the wheels riding on a track running fore and aft, the wheels on the first axle riding on a track slanting upward at the predetermined angle; the wheels on the second axle riding on a level track; a powered actuator extendable fore and aft attached to the first or second axle, the actuator constructed to pull or push the axles and wheels along the first and second tracks; wherein, the actuator can pull axles and platform upward toward the boat into a stowed configuration, and the actuator can push axles and platform downward away from the boat into a deployed configuration.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the actuator is controlled by a directional control from a location at the helm of the boat.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the actuator can be wirelessly controlled from a handheld device.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the handheld device is a cellular telephone.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the actuator can be controlled from a plug on a lanyard controller.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the elongated members holding the platform to the first and second axle are bars or elongated plates.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein there are two bars and one elongated plate.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the predetermined angle is between 15 and 45 degrees.

9. A powered retractable boat ingress and egress platform comprising: a rigid frame portion constructed to be affixed to a boat, the rigid frame portion having a set of tracks; a movable carriage portion having wheels rolling on said tracks, the tracks extending along the frame portion outward and downward so that the carriage portion can be moved toward the boat or away from the boat along the tracks; a platform portion rigidly attached to the movable carriage portion; a powered actuator attached to the movable carriage portion at a first end and to the rigid frame portion at the second end, or configured to be attached to a boat at the second end; wherein, the powered actuator can move the carriage portion and the platform from a stowed position to a deployed position.

10. The retractable platform of claim 9 wherein the actuator is controlled by a directional control from a location at the helm of the boat.

11. The retractable platform of claim 9 wherein the actuator can be wirelessly controlled from a handheld device.

12. The retractable platform of claim 11 wherein the handheld device is a cellular telephone.

13. The retractable platform of claim 9 wherein the actuator can be controlled from a plug on a lanyard controller.

14. The retractable platform of claim 9 wherein the movable platform has four wheels on two axles.

15. The retractable platform of claim 14 wherein the platform portion is rigidly attached to the two axles.

16. The retractable platform of claim 14 wherein each of the two axles has a protruding end member, the protruding end members inserting into slots in the rigid frame portion.

17. A method of providing a powered retractable boat ingress and egress platform comprising: providing a rigid frame portion constructed to be affixed to a boat, the rigid frame portion having a set of tracks; providing a movable carriage portion having wheels rolling on said tracks, the tracks extending along the frame portion outward and downward so that the carriage portion can be moved toward the boat or away from the boat along the tracks; providing a platform portion rigidly attached to the movable carriage portion; providing a powered actuator attached to the movable carriage portion at a first end and to the rigid frame portion at the second end, or configured to be attached to a boat at the second end; wherein, the powered actuator can move the carriage portion and the platform from a stowed position to a deployed position.

18. The method of claim 17 wherein the actuator is controlled by a directional control from a location at the helm of the boat.

19. The method of claim 17 wherein the actuator can be wirelessly controlled from a handheld device.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein the handheld device is a cellular telephone.

Description:

This application is related to, and claims priority from, U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/241,887 filed Oct. 15, 2015. Application 62/241,887 is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to small marine vessels such as pontoon boats, catamarans and the like, and more particularly to a power-actuated platform that attaches to such boats.

Description of the Problem

A pontoon boat or catamaran is typically powered by internal combustion engine, or in some cases a battery driven motor. Such boats have a helm station and sponsons or pontoons which position a deck area at a fixed distance from the surface of the water. This distance from the deck area to the water is typically too great for a person to gain unencumbered egress and ingress to the boat main deck area from the water or from a landing area. A pontoon boat or catamaran vessel may be equipped with a ladder or apparatus such as a platform that can he physically positioned by hand into place to facilitate egress and ingress; however, upon completion of use, the ladder or platform apparatus must be removed or disassembled and stowed by hand so not to impede safe operation vessel. While ladders or removable platforms work, they are very inconvenient. It would be advantageous to have a power-actuated platform affixed to the frame of the vessel on a moving carriage that would deploy almost to the water level, so that it becomes a convenient way to ingress and egress or to load and unload cargo.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a power-actuated platform that is affixed to the frame of a small vessel that rides on wheels that follow tracks to form a moving carriage. The relative angle of the platform itself in relation to the deck or water surface changes as the platform travels from a stowed position to a deployed position. The device can use a powered actuator attached to a fixed substrate of the device at one end and to the carriage on the other. The actuator can be controlled remotely by a vessel operator using a directional power controller affixed to the helm, by radio signal from a handheld unit that can be a cellular telephone, or by means of a plug in a lanyard multidirectional controller. On a pontoon boat or catamaran, the platform of the present invention can be attached to the forward deck area, or elsewhere, for convenience.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a pontoon boat or catamaran boat platform and carriage or frame assembly affixed to the boat and moveable forward and backward and subsequently up and down due to its geometry by means of a powered electrical or hydraulic actuation,

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a powered pontoon boat or catamaran platform and carriage assembly design with wheels intended to travel along a track pathway, that during full deployment, positions the platform at a convenient distance between 1″ (inch) and 36″ (inches') in height parallel to a body of water or land mass.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a powered pontoon boat or catamaran boat platform and carriage assembly design with wheels intended to travel along a track pathway that allows unimpeded boat maneuverability in a stowed configuration by placing the platform at a compact and convenient position, and in a deployed configuration, places the platform at a convenient position to facilitate egress or ingress of persons and cargo on and about the vessel.

Finally, it is an object of the present invention to provide a powered pontoon boat or catamaran boat platform assembly affixed to a boat with pivoting arms affixed to rails with a swinging geometry to facilitate and position the platform at a compact and convenient position to allow unimpeded boat maneuverability when stowed, and when deployed, is at a convenient position to facilitate egress or ingress of persons on and about the vessel.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

Attention is now directed to several drawings the illustrate features of the present invention.

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of the front end of a pontoon boat showing an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded isometric view of an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a side view of the frame geometry in both stowed and deployed positions of the platform.

FIG. 4 is a view of a typical pontoon boat showing locations of the platform of the present invention and location of the power controls.

FIG. 5 is a detailed view of typical power controls used for deploying and stowing the platform.

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is another view of the embodiment of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a view of the embodiment of FIG. 6 in a folded position.

Several figures and illustrations have been provided to aid in understanding the present invention. The scope of the present invention is not limited to what is shown in the figures.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention relates to a power-actuated platform that is affixed to a vessel that rides on wheels that follow tracks to form a moving carriage that allows easy ingress and egress to the boat.

Turning to FIGS. 1-3, views of the platform of the present invention in a fully deployed and stowed configurations can be seen. A preferred embodiment of the present invention includes the platform 15 which is affixed to a frame 14 and 16 which is in turn affixed to axles 25, 36, 37 and 38. The axles have four wheels 39 which together make up a moving carriage. When stowed, the wheels 39 of the moving carriage are at rest in positions 54 and 55 (FIG. 3). When deployed, the wheels 39 are at rest in positions 52 and 53. Because the angle 58 on the frame 14 and 16 is fixed, the relative angular position of the platform 15 in relation to the boat/vessel deck or the body of water or land mass 59 changes as the platform 15 travels by means of actuator 40 from stowed position 51 to deployed position 50. The carriage assembly part of the powered platform apparatus is confined to travel in tracks machined into substrates 30 and 31 located on the left and right, including substrates 33 and 34 that together, make up the primary frame assembly of the platform apparatus which is affixed to the underside of the pontoon boat or vessel deck.

The actuator 40 is attached to the substrate 33 at one end, and to the carriage frame 16 at the other end. This is typically powered actuator. Due this mounting arrangement, when directionally controlled power is introduced to the actuator 40, the carriage is forced to move within the confines and direction of tracks in frame components 30 and 31 either forward and simultaneously downward toward the water or land mass 59, or upward and inward toward the underside of the boat or vessel deck area 20 (FIG. 4).

Simply, the apparatus includes a rigid frame configured to be attached to a boat deck or other part of a boat. Embodiments of the rigid frame have a track for wheels with a level portion and a downward slanting portion. The downward slant is a predetermined angle that can be changed for different boats. The preferred range of angles is between 15 and 45 degrees. A pair of separated axles with wheels on their ends terminate in slots in the parallel sides of the rigid frame. The upper slot is substantially level, while the lower slot slants at the predetermined angle. The actuator pushes the axles up and down the track. The axles are tied to a platform portion using one or more bars or other members. The linear extending actuator, or other actuator, causes the platform to deploy downward and outward away from the boat to a level position near the water, and in the reverse mode, causes the platform to retract upward and inward toward the boat to a stowed position out of the way of normal boat operation. This is possible because the two axles are rigidly held a fixed distance apart and rigidly attached to the platform. The actuator thus only has to push or pull on one of axles or anywhere on the carriage to move the device.

Turning to FIGS. 4-5, it can be seen that the controls for the platform can be easily accessed by the vessel operator by means of a directional power controller 23 affixed to the helm 17 or other convenient location, by a radio signal from a hand-held directional controller 22 (which can be cellular telephone with an application (Ap) running that is configured and written to control the platform), or by a plug 21 on a lanyard multidirectional controller 24 conveniently positioned close to the forward deck area of the vessel. Remote operation of the platform is desirable since a person standing forward where he or she can see the platform as it deploys can operate it; however, operation from the helm also works quite well. An Ap running on a cellular telephone is stored in memory and executes a set of stored instructions on a processor.

Operation

The present invention provides a powered platform accessory for a pontoon beat, catamaran boat or other small marine vessel, that includes an electrically powered, or hydraulically powered, actuator attached to a platform and also attached to the underside of the boat forward deck area or elsewhere on a boat. The position of the platform allows an operator or passenger to deploy or store the platform safely with minimum effort to provide easy egress and ingress to the boat main forward deck area to or from a body of water or a landing area The present invention pushes or pulls a carriage assembly with wheels that roll on a frame assembly with arms that pivot and swing. This arrangement allows the platform to have forward and reverse travel, and due to the geometry, upward and downward travel simultaneously. The apparatus is also permanently affixed to the boat via the frame or rails. The platform has two primary positions: the first is the stowed configuration, when the actuator is drawn back which allows normal boat operation. The second is the deployed configuration where the actuator is pushed forward projecting and lowering the platform, which allows for egress and ingress to and from the boat main deck to a body of water or to a landing area.

FIGS. 6-8 show an alternate embodiment of the present invention. This embodiment uses an alternative apparatus and method for deploying and storing the platform 15 by means of swinging the apparatus as shown in FIG. 6. utilizing swinging arms 60 attached via pivot points 61 to a left and right rail component 62 affixed permanently to the underside of the vessel 19, and the swinging arms 60 affixed via pivot points 61 and to the platform 15. The actuator 40 is affixed to a mounting plate 63 to facilitate attachment to the underside of the vessel deck area 20.

The powered pontoon boat or catamaran boat platform of the present invention may be produced from any non-corroding or corrosion resistant composite material including: fiberglass composite, polyethylene composite, nitrile butadiene rubber compound, polyvinyl chloride compound, aluminum alloys, stainless steel or wood. Any strong, light rigid material may be used.

In summary, the present invention includes the following features:

1. A pontoon boat or catamaran boat platform and carriage or frame assembly affixed to the boat able to move able forwards and backwards and subsequently up and down due to geometry by means of a powered electrical or hydraulic actuation,

2. A powered pontoon beat or catamaran boat platform and carriage assembly design with wheels intended to travel along a track pathway that during full deployment, positions the platform at a convenient distance between 1″ (inch) and 36″ (inches') in height distance parallel to a body of water or land mass.

3. A powered pontoon boat or catamaran boat platform and carriage assembly design with wheels intended to travel along a track pathway that allows unimpeded boat maneuverability in a stowage configuration by placing the platform at a compact and convenient position, and in a deployed configuration, places the platform at a convenient position to facilitate egress or ingress of persons on and about the vessel.

4. A powered pontoon boat or catamaran boat platform assembly affixed to a boat with pivoting arms affixed to rails with a swinging geometry to facilitate and position the platform at a compact and convenient position to allow unimpeded boat maneuverability when stowed, and when deployed, is at a convenient position to facilitate egress or ingress of persons on and about the vessel.

LIST OF COMPONENT NUMERALS

  • 11—Sponsons or Pontoons
  • 13—Sponsons or pontoons
  • 14—Frame
  • 15—Platform
  • 16—Frame
  • 17—Helm
  • 18—Engine
  • 19—Pontoon boat or Catamaran vessel
  • 20—Boat/vessel deck
  • 21—Plug in lanyard
  • 22—Radio signal communication hand held directional controller
  • 23—Directional power controller
  • 24—Lanyard multi directional controller
  • 25—Axle
  • 36—Axle
  • 37—Axle
  • 38—Axle
  • 39—Wheels
  • 54—At rest positions
  • 55—At rest positions
  • 58—Angle
  • 40—Power actuator
  • 59—Water or land mass
  • 30—Tracks machined into substrates
  • 31—Tracks machined into substrates
  • 33—Tracks machined into substrates
  • 34—Tracks machined into substrates
  • 60—Swinging arms
  • 61—Pivot points
  • 63—Actuator mounting plate
  • 62—Left or right rail component

Several descriptions and illustrations have been presented to aid in understanding the present invention. One with skill in the art will realize that numerous changes and variations may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention. Each of these changes and variations is within the scope of the present invention.