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Title:
ADJUSTABLE RECOVERY SPADE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2001/081137
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A recovery spade (10) that is adjustably coupled to a rescue vehicle to maximize traction during rescue operations. The recovery spade (10) includes an anchor blade (200) and a hollow support member (100). The anchor blade (200) includes a plurality of holes (208) for selective connection to the support member (100) at differing heights via a pin (302). The anchor blade (200) further includes an anchor portion (202) with teeth (206) at one end for engaging the ground to effect the traction and coupling holes (212, 214) at the other end for selective connection to the anchor blade (200) at differing angles.

Inventors:
Humphries, David F. (14713 Sherwood Drive Greencastle, PA, 17225, US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2001/013005
Publication Date:
November 01, 2001
Filing Date:
April 23, 2001
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
JERR-DAN CORPORATION (1080 Hykes Road Greencastle, PA, 17225-9699, US)
Humphries, David F. (14713 Sherwood Drive Greencastle, PA, 17225, US)
International Classes:
B60P3/12; B60S9/04; (IPC1-7): B60S9/02
Foreign References:
US3020063A
US5067746A
US5387071A
US5431443A
US4903977A
US3944259A
US3913942A
US3642242A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Cage, Kenneth L. (McDermott, Will & Emery 600 13th Street NW Washington, DC, 20005-3096, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is :
1. A recovery spade, comprising: a support member; an anchor blade slidably coupled to said support member, said anchor blade configured to be adjustably arranged in a desired orientation relative to said support member; and a locking mechanism for securing said anchor blade in said desired orientation.
2. The recovery spade of claim 1, wherein said anchor blade includes at least one hole extending through a face thereof.
3. The recovery spade of claim 2, wherein said support member includes a second hole extending through a face thereof and said locking mechanism includes a plunger, wherein said at least one hole is adapted to be positioned in registry with said second hole, said plunger is configured to be inserted through said second hole and said at least one hole to lock said anchor blade to said support member in said desired orientation.
4. The recovery spade of claim 3, wherein said locking mechanism further includes a housing coupled to said support member and a spring located at least partially within said housing, said spring biasing said plunger toward said support member, wherein said plunger is adapted to be manually manipulated against the bias of said spring.
5. The recovery spade of claim 3, wherein said at least one hole includes a plurality of holes, said anchor blade being movable between different positions whereby a desired one of said plurality of holes is positioned in registry with said second hole.
6. The recovery spade of claim 1, wherein said anchor blade includes an anchor portion at one end thereof, said anchor portion including a plurality of teeth adapted for engaging a surface.
7. The recovery spade of claim 1, wherein said anchor blade includes an anchor portion adjustably coupled to said anchor blade.
8. The recovery spade of claim 7, wherein said anchor blade includes at least one hole extending through a face thereof, said anchor portion includes at least one second hole extending through a face thereof, and said locking mechanism includes a plunger, wherein said at least one second hole is adapted to be positioned in registry with said at least one hole, said plunger is configured to be inserted through said at least one hole and said at least one second hole to lock said anchor portion to said anchor blade in said desired orientation.
9. The recovery spade of claim 1, wherein said support member includes a hollow interior, said anchor blade disposed at least partially within said hollow interior for sliding thereon.
10. The recovery spade of claim 1, wherein said anchor blade is rotatable with respect to said support member.
11. The recovery spade of claim 1, wherein said anchor blade is translational with respect to said support member.
12. The recovery spade of claim 7, wherein said anchor portion is rotatable with respect to said anchor blade.
13. A method of providing traction for a rescue vehicle having a recovery spade, comprising the steps of: providing a rescue vehicle ; providing a recovery spade coupled to said rescue vehicle, said recovery spade having a friction surface; providing a cable coupled to said rescue vehicle at one end and adapted to be coupled to a structure at another end; extending said cable to said structure in a desired direction; and moving said recovery spade relative to said rescue vehicle in a manner that maximizes traction for said rescue vehicle.
14. The method of claim 13, where said step of moving said recovery spade relative to said rescue vehicle in a manner that maximizes traction for said rescue vehicle includes positioning said friction surface substantially perpendicular to said desired direction.
15. In combination, a rescue vehicle and recovery spade, comprising: a vehicle ; traction means coupled to said rescue vehicle for engaging a surface to provide traction for said vehicle ; and connecting means for adjustably connecting said traction means to said rescue vehicle.
16. The combination of claim 15, wherein said traction means is movable relative to said vehicle from a first orientation to a second orientation.
17. The combination of claim 16, wherein said traction means moves from said first orientation to said second orientation by at least rotating or translating relative to said vehicle, or both rotating and translating relative to said vehicle.
18. The combination of claim 15, wherein said traction means includes an anchor blade slidably coupled to a support member, said connecting means includes a locking pin for selectively fixing said anchor blade to said support member at a desired height.
19. The combination of claim 18, wherein said traction means further includes an anchor portion slidably coupled to said anchor blade for engaging said surface, said connecting means further including a second locking pin for selectively fixing said anchor portion to said anchor blade at a desired angle with respect to said anchor blade.
20. The combination of claim 15, wherein said traction means includes means for assisting manual adjustment thereto.
Description:
ADJUSTABLE RECOVERY SPADE Background of the Invention The present invention relates to rescue and rescue vehicles and, more particularly, to a recovery spade for maintaining the vehicle in a stationary position during rescue and recovery operations.

During the course of normal activities, drivers often encounter hazards that often result in vehicular misfortunes. Such misfortunes often involve one or more vehicles being directed off a public and/or private road into a trench or furrow (i. e., a ditch). Once in the trench, the vehicle becomes trapped and is unable to escape on its own. Normally, a rescue vehicle must be provided to retrieve the trapped vehicle.

Rescue vehicles are known by various other names, including"wrecker"rescue vehicle, towing vehicle, tow truck, etc.

Rescue vehicles are commonly fitted with a crane member (or boom) that includes a winch and associated cable. The cable is secured to the trapped vehicle and the winch is activated to pull the trapped vehicle out of the trench. Accordingly, the winch and associated cable define a longitudinal rescue line. Rescue vehicles require a substantial amount of tractive power in order to accomplish their task.

Supporting stifflegs, or recovery spades, are commonly provided at the rear of the rescue vehicle to engage the ground and increase the tractive power of the rescue vehicle. In order to maximize tractive power, the rescue vehicle should be oriented such that the longitudinal rescue line is parallel to the damaged vehicle. There are times, however, when such alignment is not practical because, for example, the rear wheels of the rescue vehicle would be positioned on compromising surfaces. There are also times when the rescue vehicle should preferably be aligned with (or positioned on) the road.

Recovery spades must be oriented transversely (i. e., perpendicular) to the longitudinal rescue line in order to maximize traction of the rescue vehicle. In situations where it is not practical, or feasible, to align the rescue vehicle with the longitudinal rescue line, conventional recovery spades cannot be oriented transversely to the longitudinal rescue line. Consequently, the maximum tractive power realizable by the rescue vehicle cannot be achieved. Rescue vehicles are often aligned with the longitudinal rescue line regardless of the environmental conditions in order to circumvent this shortcoming. Such attempts, however, place the rescue vehicle in a situation where it can slide and suffer the same fate as the trapped vehicle.

Various arrangements have been proposed for improving the tractive power of rescue vehicles and the like. For example, U. S. Patent 2,928,557 issued to Cline discloses a wrecker, or hoisting apparatus, that includes means for stabilizing and preventing side slip while a service cable is used to pull a disabled automobile back onto a highway.

U. S. Patent 3,127,037 issued to Newman discloses an apparatus for towing road vehicles that includes a pair of sprag-ended rods capable of engaging the ground to restrain the apparatus against movement during towing activities.

U. S. Patent 4,018,458 issued to Shumaker discloses a vehicle stabilizer that consists of a pair of telescoping members, one of which includes a ground engaging foot. The stabilizer includes latch means between the telescoping member and the foot for holding the foot in a number of rotated positions relative to the telescoping member.

U. S. Patent 4,245,855 issued to Larson discloses a vehicle stabilizer that includes a hydraulic cylinder pivotably mounted on each side of the vehicle. The stabilizer includes an extension rod that causes a tension member to rotate the cylinder about its pivot.

U. S. Patent 4,640,660 issued to Watson discloses a recovery and towing vehicle designed to transport a freighter aircraft. The towing vehicle includes a pair of spades mounted in sideways. The spades are capable of being moved to engage the ground.

U. S. Patent 4,700,852 issued to Mjoberg discloses a recovery vehicle device that includes a pair of lowerable supporting stifflegs that are capable of engaging the ground.

U. S. Patent 5,431,443 issued to Skoff discloses a supporting device for a rescue vehicle that includes two legs, each of which has a footing plate located near a lateral vehicle edge of the vehicle. The legs are capable of being swiveled from a transportation position to a supporting position.

Accordingly, there is a need for a recovery spade capable of maximizing tractive power of a rescue vehicle regardless of its orientation relative to a trapped vehicle. There also exists a need for a recovery spade that can be adjusted such that it is substantially transverse with a longitudinal rescue line, regardless of the orientation of the rescue vehicle.

Summary of the Invention An advantage of the present invention is a recovery spade that maximizes tractive power of a rescue vehicle.

Another advantage of the present invention is a recovery spade that can be adjusted such that tractive force on the rescue vehicle is improved regardless of it's orientation relative to a trapped vehicle.

These advantages are achieved by the present invention wherein a recovery spade that can be adjusted such that it is transverse to a longitudinal recovery line between the rescue vehicle and the trapped vehicle.

According to one aspect of the invention, a recovery spade comprises: a support member having a hollow interior; an anchor blade slidably coupled to the support member, and a locking arrangement for securing the anchor blade to the support member. The anchor blade includes a plurality of teeth for engaging a surface, and is configured for placement in one or more orientations relative to the support member. According to such an arrangement, the recovery spade is capable of providing maximum tractive power to a rescue vehicle during a recovery operation. Moreover, this is accomplished irrespective of the rescue vehicle's orientation relative to a trapped vehicle.

Additional advantages and novel features of the present invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned by practice of the present invention. The embodiments shown and described provide an illustration of the best mode contemplated for carrying out the present invention. The invention is capable of modifications in various obvious respects, all without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. Accordingly, the drawings and description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature, and not as restrictive. The advantages of the present invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Figure 1 is an environmental view illustrating a rescue vehicle that incorporates a recovery spade constructed in accordance with the present invention; Figure 2 is a side perspective view illustrating a recovery spade in a first orientation; Figure 3 is a front perspective view of the recovery spade illustrated in Figure 2; Figure 4 is a side perspective view illustrating the recovery spade in a second orientation; Figure 5 is a side perspective view illustrating the recovery spade in a third orientation; Figure 6A is a side elevational view of the recovery spade; Figure 6B is a sectional view taken along section A-A of Figure 6A; Figure 7A is a top plan view of a support member of the recovery spade; Figure 7B is a front elevational view of the support member; Figure 7C is a side elevational view of the support member; Figure 8A is a top plan view of the anchor blade used in the recovery spade ; Figure 8B is a side elevational view of the anchor blade ; Figure 9 is a side elevational view of a locking arrangement constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention ; and Figure 10 is a side elevational view of a locking pin for use with the locking arrangement.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS The present invention enables configuration of rescue vehicles that are capable of performing rescue operations on trapped vehicles while being positioned in the most stable position available. Hence, the rescue vehicle does not need to be repositioned based on the location of the trapped vehicle. Rather, the rescue vehicle is positioned in the most suitable location available and the recovery spades are oriented such that maximum traction is generated during the recovery operation.

Figures 1-5 illustrate various configurations of the combination of the recovery spade of the present invention with a rescue vehicle. It should be noted that although one recovery spade is shown coupled to the rescue vehicle, a plurality of recovery spades can be used. It is preferred that at least two be used (one on each side of the rescue vehicle).

Turning to Figures 6a and 6b, one exemplary embodiment of the recovery spade 10 of the present invention will be discussed. Figure 6a illustrates a side view of the recovery spade 10 with a suitable coupler structure 12 adapted to couple the recovery spade 10 to the rescue vehicle (not shown in Figure 6a). The recovery spade 10 of the present invention includes generally a support member 100, an anchor blade 200, and a locking mechanism 300. The support member 100 is of rigid construction and has a hollow interior. The support member 100 is preferably constructed of high strength metals or metal alloys, such as iron and steel.

Additionally, the metal can be treated using specialized processing, such as heat treatment or other methodologies, in order to further improve its properties. The support member 100 can also be formed from non-metallic materials such as composites and fiber reinforced composites. Although the support member 100 is illustrated as having a rectangular cross-section, it should be noted that various other configurations (i. e., circular, elliptic, etc.) could be used. The support member 100 is constructed such that it can be secured to the rear portion of a rescue vehicle via coupler structure 12. This can be accomplished using various fastening methods such as, for example, bolts, rivets, welding, etc.

The anchor blade 200 includes an anchor portion 202 and a guide portion 204. Similar to the support member 100, the anchor blade 200 is rigidly formed from high strength materials such as metals, metallic alloys, or composites. The guide portion 204 has an outer periphery that is similar to the inner periphery of the support member 100 in order to facilitate sliding movement within the support member 100.

Alternatively, it is also possible to configure guide portion 204 so that it slides on the external surface of support member 100. In addition, the guide portion 204 of the anchor blade 200 can have a hollow interior in order to reduce weight. In most instances, however, the guide portion 204 can be of solid construction in order to maximize strength.

The anchor portion 202 has a generally flat configuration that defines a friction surface. The anchor portion 202 can include a tapered cross-section that allows the anchor blade 200 to penetrate a ground surface and generate a tractive (i. e., or frictional) force that prevents the rescue vehicle from moving during a rescue operation. More particularly, the anchor blade 200 is designed such that the friction surface is positionable transversely (i. e., perpendicularly) with respect to a longitudinal rescue line. As previously stated, the longitudinal rescue line can be defined as being substantially parallel to the cable interconnecting the winch of the rescue vehicle and the trapped vehicle. The closer to transverse the friction surface can be positioned relative to the longitudinal rescue line, the greater the tractive force generated. Hence, the rescue vehicle will be more stable while performing rescue operations.

As shown in Figure 6b, the anchor portion 202 can include a plurality of teeth 206 formed at the end thereof. The teeth 206 function to further improve penetration of the anchor blade 200 into the ground during recovery operations. In addition, the teeth 206 can be designed to have various profiles such as conical, pyramidal, etc.

Such configurations can improve the effectiveness of the recovery spade 10 in penetrating the ground to generate tractive (or frictional) force during rescue operations.

Turning to Figures 7a through 7c, the anchor blade 200 will be discussed in further detail. As shown in Figure 7a, the guide portion 204 of the anchor blade 200 includes a plurality of holes 208 extending through a front face thereof. These holes 208 are configured to be in registry with a corresponding hole of the support member 100 so that a first locking pin (not shown in Figure 7) can lock the anchor blade 200 to a desired height by being inserted through the hole of the support member 100 and a selected one of the plurality of holes 208. The guide portion 204 includes a handle 210 which is gripped by the operator to help lift or lower the guide portion 204 for sliding movement within the support member 100. As shown in Figure 7b, the guide portion 204 further includes holes 212 on a side face thereof. These holes 212 are configured to be in registry with a corresponding hole of the anchor portion 202 so that a second locking pin (not shown in Figure 7) can lock the anchor portion 202 to a desired angle by being inserted through a selected hole 212 and a respective hole of the anchor portion 202.

Turning to Figures 8a and 8b, the anchor portion 202 will be discussed in further detail. As shown in Figure 8a, the anchor portion 202 includes a plurality of holes 214 extending therethrough at two different heights and various positions around the periphery of the anchor portion 202. In the exemplary embodiment shown in Figure 8a, the holes 214 are positioned at equally spaced 45° intervals with respect to each other. However, it should be appreciated that intervals of any desired angle (e. g., 30°, etc.) can be used. In addition, the intervals between holes 214 need not be equally spaced and moreover, can be positioned at any number of respective heights. In sum, the holes 214 can be designed at any relative spacing in order to set forth desired positioning of the anchor portion 202. As shown in Figure 8b, the anchor portion 202 includes a handle 202'whose functionality will be discussed below.

Turning to Figure 9, the locking mechanism 300 will be discussed in further detail. The locking mechanism 300 includes a locking pin 302 slidably fitted within a lock housing 304. The locking pin 302 includes a plunger 302'which is coupled to a handle 302" (e. g., via rivet 14) configured to be gripped by the operator. Within lock housing 304 is a biasing spring 306. Biasing spring 306 engages a shoulder of the plunger 302'at one end and an inner surface of the lock housing 304 at another end, and is configured to bias locking pin 302 into a locking position (leftward as viewed in Figure 9). As shown in Figure 9, the plunger 302'extends through hole 102 of the support member 100 and the selected hole 208 of the guide portion 204 to thereby lock the anchor blade 200 to the support member 100 at a desired height.

When an operator desires to change the height of the anchor blade 200, he/she will grip the handle 210 with one hand and grip the handle 302"with the other hand, and thereafter pull the plunger 302'out of the respective holes 208,102 against the bias of spring 306. The operator can then lift or lower guide portion 204 to a desired height by positioning another hole 208 of guide portion 204 in registry with hole 102, and then releasing handle 302"so that biasing spring 306 forces the plunger 302'back into a locking position. If a desired height is only one hole 208 apart from the currently used hole 208, after removing the plunger 302'from the locking position and moving the guide portion 204, the operator can let go of handle 302"and continue lifting or lowering the guide portion 204 until the biasing spring 306 automatically forces the plunger 302'back into the locking position.

With reference to Figures 6a, 6b, 8a, and 10, the manner in which the recovery spade 10 is adjusted to a desired angle will now be discussed. As shown in Figure 10, the locking mechanism 300 further includes a pin 382, a linkage 384 (e. g., chain link ; but suitable alternatives include, but not limited to, a wire, thread, etc.), a locking ring 386, and a rivet 388. Figures 6a and 6b illustrate the recovery spade 10 in the normal angle with respect to the rescue vehicle (see, for example, Figures 1 and 5). Once the anchor portion 202 is locked to the support member 100 at a desired height, the operator can then adjust the anchor portion 202 by rotating it relative to the guide portion 204.

In order to effect the adjustment, the operator must first remove pin 382, which extends through one of the selected holes 212 of guide portion 204 and the selected holes 214 of the anchor portion 202. Pin 382 extends through the respective holes and extends out on the opposite side of the anchor portion 202.

There, pin 382 is inserted through locking ring 386, which meets pin 382 outside of guide portion 204 on the opposite side via linkage 384, so that rivet 388 (e. g., threaded bolt) can extend through hole 382'of pin 382; thereby locking pin 382 to guide portion 204 and anchor portion 202. In order to remove pin 382, the operator needs to simply unthread rivet 388 from hole 382'and pull pin 382 out. While doing so, the operator will be holding the handle 202'so that when the pin 382 is removed, the operator can rotate and/or lift/lower anchor portion 202 relative to guide portion 204 so that the desired holes 214 of the anchor portion 202 are in registry with the desired holes 212 of the guide portion 204. Thereafter, the operator re-inserts the pin 382 through the respective holes to lock anchor portion 202 to guide portion 204 in the desired orientation.

Accordingly, it is readily apparent that the anchor blade 202 of the present recovery spade 10 can be rotated and locked such that the friction face is oriented at varying heights and angular displacements. For example, consider a longitudinal rescue line that is coincident with a centerline of the rescue vehicle. Turning to Figures 1-5, which illustrate exemplary embodiments, the anchor blade 200 of the present invention can be advantageously rotated such that the friction face forms a 45°, 90°, 135°, or 180° angle with the longitudinal rescue line. Such an ability allows the rescue vehicle to be positioned at the most structurally stable location available to perform the rescue operation, while the anchor blade (s) 200 are rotated to a position that will provide maximum tractive force. Specifically, the winch cable is dispensed and attached to the trapped vehicle. Once attached, a longitudinal rescue line can be determined. The anchor blade (s) 200 are then rotated such that the friction face is as close to transverse (or perpendicular) as possible relative to the longitudinal rescue line. Accordingly, a maximum amount of tractive force can be generated by the rescue vehicle during the rescue operation without compromising stability of the rescue vehicle.

In order to maximize effectiveness of the recovery spade 10 of the present invention, the anchor blade 200 must be sufficiently inserted into the ground.

According to one embodiment of the invention, the recovery spade 10 is secured to the rescue vehicle using an underlift assembly. During recovery operations, the underlift is lowered toward the ground. As this operation continues, the rear of the rescue vehicle is eventually lifted off the ground. The anchor blade 200 is then positioned in the appropriate orientation and lowered until contact is made with the ground. The locking pin is then inserted through the locking apertures of the support member 100 to secure the anchor blade 200. The underlift is raised in order to lower the rear of the rescue vehicle. As the rear of the rescue vehicle is lowered, the anchor blade 200 is simultaneously forced to penetrate the ground.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a hydraulic unit is provided to lower the anchor blade 200. This can be accomplished, for example, by attaching a hydraulically actuated cylinder to the underlift. The recovery spade 10 is secured to the underlift such that the anchor blade 200 can be operatively coupled to the moving end of the cylinder once appropriately oriented. The hydraulic cylinder is actuated to lower the anchor blade 200 and penetrate the ground until sufficient depth is achieved.

As may be apparent from the above description, the depth at which the anchor blade penetrates the ground greatly effects the stability of the rescue vehicle during the recovery operation. The surface characteristics of the terrain (i. e., soil, concrete, asphalt) will also effect penetration. For example, hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt will not facilitate penetration by the anchor blade, while softer surfaces such as soil readily facilitate penetration. Accordingly, the rescue vehicle is preferably positioned on soft terrain during recovery operations so that the anchor blades can sufficiently penetrate the ground to provide maximum stability.

Only the preferred embodiments of the invention and but a few examples of its versatility are shown and described in the present disclosure. It is to be understood that the invention is capable of use in various other combinations and environments and is capable of changes or modifications within the scope of the inventive concept as expressed herein.

While this invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments, but, on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.