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Title:
METHOD OF PROVIDING A WHEEL FOR FITMENT TO A VEHICLE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/098466
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method of providing a wheel (10) for fitment to a vehicle, the wheel (10) comprising a hub part (12) with a vehicle attachment formation (16) specific to the vehicle to enable the hub part (12) to be fixed onto the axle of the vehicle, the hub part (12) selected from a set of hub parts, each of which has at least one vehicle attachment formation which is specific to a particular type of vehicle and all of which have at least one rim attachment formation (22) which is adapted to be securable to a hub attachment formation (30) of a particular wheel rim part (14), the method comprising the steps of; selecting from a plurality of rim parts which all have at least one hub attachment formation (30) which is configured to permit the rim part to be secured to any one of the set of hub parts (12), a rim part (14) of a size suitable for use with the vehicle, and using the hub attachment formation (30) of the rim part (14) and the rim attachment formation (22) of the hub part (12) to secure the rim part (14) to the hub part (12).

Inventors:
FRYDMAN, John, Leslie (9 Milverton Terrace, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 5BE, GB)
Application Number:
GB2009/000329
Publication Date:
August 13, 2009
Filing Date:
February 06, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
FRYDMAN, John, Leslie (9 Milverton Terrace, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 5BE, GB)
International Classes:
B60B3/04; B60B11/10
Foreign References:
EP1022160A22000-07-26
DE3744152A11989-07-06
DE19940524A12001-04-19
DE3442443A11986-05-28
US3144275A1964-08-11
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Claims:

CLAIMS

1. A method of providing a wheel for fitment to a vehicle, the wheel comprising a hub part with a vehicle attachment formation specific to the vehicle to enable the hub part to be fixed onto the axle of the vehicle, the hub part selected from a set of hub parts, each of which has at least one vehicle attachment formation which is specific to a particular type of vehicle and all of which have at least one rim attachment formation which is adapted to be securable to a hub attachment formation of a particular wheel rim part, the method comprising the steps of;

selecting from a plurality of rim parts which all have at least one hub attachment formation which is configured to permit the rim part to be secured to any one of the set of hub parts, a rim part of a size suitable for use with the vehicle, and

using the hub attachment formation of the rim part and the rim attachment formation of the hub part to secure the rim part to the hub part.

2. A method according to claim 1 wherein the vehicle attachment formations of the hub part are specific to the particular type of vehicle, or to the particular make or model of vehicle.

3. A method according to claim 1 or 2 wherein the hub part has additional design characteristics which are specific to the type, make or model of vehicle to which the wheel is to be attached.

4. A method according to claim 1 , 2 or 3 wherein the vehicle is a car or a light commercial vehicle.

5. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the method further includes the step of selecting a hub part with vehicle attachment formation or formations specific to the vehicle to enable the hub part to be fixed onto the

axle of the vehicle from a set of hub parts, each of which has at least one vehicle attachment formation which is specific to a particular type of vehicle and all of which have at least one of rim attachment formation which is adapted to be securable to attachment formations of a particular wheel rim part.

6. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the rim part comprises a wheel rim and a tyre mounted on the rim.

7. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the method further includes the step of selecting one of a plurality of orientations or positions of the hub part relative to the rim part when securing the hub part to the rim part.

8. A method according to any preceding claim wherein the rim part is secured to the hub part using a plurality of bolts.

9. A method of fitting a wheel to a vehicle, the wheel comprising an hub part with a vehicle attachment formation specific to the vehicle to enable the hub part to be fixed onto the axle of the vehicle, the hub part selected from a set of hub parts, each of which has at least one vehicle attachment formation which is specific to a particular type of vehicle and all of which have at least one rim attachment formation which is adapted to be securable to attachment formations of a particular wheel rim part, the method comprising the steps of;

selecting from a plurality of rim parts which all have at least one hub attachment formation which is configured to permit the rim part to be secured to any one of the set of hub parts, a rim part of a size suitable for use with the vehicle,

using the hub attachment formation of the rim part and the rim attachment formations of the hub part to secure the hub part to the rim part, and

using the vehicle attachment formations of the hub part to secure the hub part to the vehicle axle.

10. A method according to claim 9 wherein the hub part is secured to the rim part before being secured to the vehicle axle.

11. A method according to claim 9 wherein the hub part is secured to the rim part after being secured to the vehicle axle.

12. A method of providing a wheel for fitment to a vehicle substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to and as shown in the accompanying drawings.

13. A method of fitting a wheel to a vehicle substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to and as shown in the accompanying drawings.

14. Any novel feature or novel combination of features described herein and/or in the accompanying drawings.

Description:

Title: Method of Providing a Wheel for Fitment to a Vehicle

Description of Invention

The present invention relates to a method of providing a wheel for fitment to a vehicle, particularly, but not exclusively to a car or light commercial vehicle.

Car manufacturers are under increasing pressure to reduce the environmental impact of the cars they produce, in particular to reduce the carbon emissions and fuel consumption of the car. As such, reducing the weight of a car is a priority.

Most cars are provided with a spare wheel which may be used, in the event that one of the car's tyres has a puncture or other failure, to replace the affected wheel. The spare wheel is typically located in the boot of the vehicle. It will be appreciated, however, that the weight of the spare wheel and the space occupied by the spare wheel and accessories are not insignificant, and, because punctures or other tyre failures are relatively uncommon, it is known to dispense with the spare wheel in order to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle. This has the disadvantage, of course, that a wheel with a flat tyre cannot be replaced, unless a spare wheel of the appropriate design to be attached to the car in question is brought out to the stricken vehicle. As most car wheels are unique to one type of vehicle, there are a large number of different wheel types in use at any one time. As such, it is impractical for conventional roadside breakdown assistance vehicles to carry sufficient numbers of spare wheels to cover every type of vehicle on the road, and therefore a conventional roadside breakdown assistance service could not be used to repair a vehicle with a flat tyre without first having to travel to a depot of sufficient size to hold the required large number of spare wheels to cover every type of vehicle on the road to collect an appropriately configured spare wheel. It would be extremely expensive and impractical to create even one

spare wheel depot of this size and even more so to have many such depots widely distributed around the country. Therefore, even if it were practical to create one or two spare wheel depots, it is likely to be necessary for the roadside breakdown assistance vehicle to have to travel a significant distance between the depot and the stricken vehicle. This process would be time consuming and would increase the cost of the service to commercially unacceptable levels.

According to the first aspect of the invention we provide a method of providing a wheel for fitment to a vehicle, the wheel comprising a hub part with a vehicle attachment formation specific to the vehicle to enable the hub part to be fixed onto the axle of the vehicle, the hub part selected from a set of hub parts, each of which has at least one vehicle attachment formation which is specific to a particular type of vehicle and all of which have a rim attachment formation which is adapted to be securable to an attachment formation of a particular wheel rim part, the method comprising the steps of;

selecting from a plurality of rim parts which all have an attachment formation which is configured to permit the rim part to be secured to any one of the set of hub parts, a rim part of a size suitable for use with the vehicle, and

using the attachment formation of the rim part and the rim attachment formation of the hub part to secure the rim part to the hub part.

By virtue of the invention, a vehicle with a flat tyre can be repaired by the provision of an outer rim part, including the tyre, of the required size for the vehicle. The variation between the configurations of the wheels used on different types of vehicles lies generally in relation to the configuration of the attachment formations by means of which the wheel hub is connected to the vehicle axle. There is some variation in the diameter and depth of the wheels, but there are far fewer wheel sizes in use than there are types of wheel. As such, it is more practical for a roadside breakdown assistance vehicle to carry

or have access to sufficient numbers of outer rim parts to cover at least most types of vehicle on the road. Therefore the replacement of a flat tyre can be achieved economically and speedily by matching an appropriately sized outer rim and tyre to a vehicle specific hub part whilst the weight saving, and hence reduction in carbon emissions and fuel consumption, gained by the vehicle not carrying a spare wheel may be realized.

The vehicle attachment formations of the hub part may be specific to the particular type of vehicle, or to the particular make or mode! of vehicle.

The hub part may have additional design characteristics which are particular to the type, make or model of vehicle to which the wheel is to be fitted. Such characteristics could be the diameter of the hub part, or off-set between the vehicle attachment formation and the rim attachment formations, or the strength and/or stiffness appropriate to bearing the weight of the vehicle in question.

The vehicle is preferably a car or a light commercial vehicle.

The method may further comprise the step of selecting an hub part with vehicle attachment formation or formations specific to the vehicle to enable the hub part to be fixed onto the axle of the vehicle from a set of hub parts, each of which has at least one vehicle attachment formation which is specific to a particular type of vehicle and all of which have at least one rim attachment formation which is adapted to be securable to a hub attachment formation of a particular wheel rim part.

The rim part preferably comprises a wheel rim and a tyre mounted on the rim.

The method may further include the step of selecting one of a plurality of orientations or positions of the hub part relative to the rim part when securing the hub part to the rim part.

The hub part may be secured to the rim part using a plurality of bolts.

According to a second aspect of the invention we provide a method of fitting a wheel to a vehicle, the wheel comprising an hub part with a vehicle attachment formation specific to the vehicle to enable the hub part to be fixed onto the axle of the vehicle, the hub part selected from a set of hub parts, each of which has at least one vehicle attachment formation which is specific to a particular type of vehicle and all of which have at least one rim attachment formation which is adapted to be securable to a hub attachment formation of a particular wheel rim part, the method comprising the steps of;

selecting from a plurality of rim parts which all have at least one hub attachment formation which is configured to permit the rim part to be secured to any one of the set of hub parts, a rim part of a size suitable for use with the vehicle,

using the hub attachment formation of the rim part and the rim attachment formation of the hub part to secure the hub part to the rim part, and

using the vehicle attachment formation of the hub part to secure the hub part to the vehicle axle.

The hub part may be secured to the rim part before being secured to the vehicle axle, or may be secured to the rim part after being secured to the vehicle axle.

An embodiment of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings of which,

FIGURE 1 shows a wheel for use in the method according to first aspect of the invention,

FIGURE 2 shows the central hub part of the wheel shown in Figure 1 , and

FIGURE 3 shows the outer rim part of the wheel shown in Figure 1.

Referring now to the figures, there is shown a wheel 10 comprising a hub part 12 connected to an outer rim assembly 14. The hub part 12 comprises a generally circular plate and is provided, in this example, with a plurality of vehicle attachment formations 16 by means of which the wheel is adapted to be fixed to the axle of a vehicle. In this example the wheel 10 is for an automobile or car, but may equally be for any other vehicle including a commercial vehicle, caravan or trailer. The vehicle attachment formations 16, in this example, comprise a large circular central aperture 18 surrounded by 4 smaller also circular apertures 20. The smaller apertures 20 are adapted to receive bolts by means of which the wheel is secured to a hub provided on the axle of a vehicle.

It will be appreciated that the configuration of the vehicle attachment formations 16 is specific to the type of car to which the wheel is adapted to be secured, and this embodiment is shown by way of example only. In fact, the configuration of the attachment formations on a wheel is generally unique to one particular make and model of car. Other attachment formations may include variations in number, size and type of fixing bolts, diameter of bolt array (pitch circle diameter) and diameter of the central (spigot) aperture.

The hub part 12 is also provided with rim attachment formations 22 which extend radially outwardly from the outer periphery of the hub part 12. In this example, the rim attachment formations 22 are generally equally spaced around the hub part 12 and form five spokes, each of which is provided with a generally circular aperture 24 at its free end. It should be appreciated that the invention is not restricted to this embodiment of rim attachment formation, and any other formations suitable for connecting the hub part 12 to a circular rim assembly 14, such as a continuous ring with suitable apertures or fixing formations could equally be employed.

Unlike the vehicle attachment formations 16 of the hub part 12, the rim attachment formations 22 are of a standard configuration which is common to

many different types of vehicle, either to all vehicles using wheels of a particular size or group of sizes, or to all the vehicles on the road. As such the hub part 12 is one selected from a plurality of hub parts, each of which has at least one attachment formation which is specific to the type, make or model of vehicle, and all of which have a plurality of rim attachment formations which are adapted to be securable to attachment formations of a particular configuration of outer rim assembly 14.

The outer rim assembly 14 comprises a generally cylindrical wheel rim 26, on which is mounted a conventional car tyre 28. The wheel rim 26 has a first edge 27a and a second edge 27b, each of which is provided with a radially outwardly extending lip against which the tyre is seated, as in any conventional wheel rim. The first edge 27a of the wheel rim 26 is also provided with a radially inwardly extending generally circular flange 30 which, in this example, is provided with a plurality of cut out portions 31 to reduce the weight of the wheel rim 26 and with five generally circular apertures 32 which are arranged in a generally circular array at regularly spaced intervals around an annular portion of the flange 30, the diameter of the array corresponding to the diameter of the circular array in which the apertures 24 provided in the rim attachment formations 22 of the hub part 12 are arranged.

The hub part 12 is secured to the wheel rim 26 using fasteners, in this example, by means of five nuts and bolts, each bolt passing through one of the apertures 24 provided in the rim attachment formations 22 of the hub part 12 and one of the apertures 32 in the flange 30 of the wheel rim 26. The flange 30 therefore provides the wheel rim 26 with a hub attachment formation.

Whilst in this example the flange 30 extends from one edge 27a of the wheel rim 26, it will be appreciated that it may equally extend from an inner circumference of the rim between the edges 27a & 27b, in such a position to ensure there is the required positioning of the wheel rim 26 relative to the hub part 12. Moreover, it will be appreciated that, for aesthetic and weight saving

reasons, the apertures 32, may be provided on spokes which extend either from the circular flange 30 or directly from the rim 26 itself radially inwardly of the rim 26.

Locating lugs and stepped edges may additionally be provided on either or both of the wheel rim 26 and hub part 12 to assist in orienting the hub part 12 relative to the wheel rim 26 correctly so that the apertures 24, 32 are correctly aligned. It should also be appreciated that whilst in this example the hub part 12 is connected to the wheel rim 26 using nuts and bolts, any other appropriate non-permanent mechanical fixing means may be used.

Whilst the hub part 12 may be flat, in this example the hub part 12 is concave as the vehicle configuration is such that it is required to off-set the wheel rim assembly 14 generally horizontally relative to the vehicle attachment formations 16. It will be appreciated that the degree of off-set of the rim attachment formations 22 of the hub part 12 relative to the vehicle attachment formations varies depending on the type, make or model of vehicle, so that when mounted on the vehicle axle, the tyre is correctly positioned relative to the wheel arch in which it is located. The hub attachment formation of the wheel rim 26 and the rim attachment formations 22 of the hub part 12 may be configured so that further variation in the degree of off-set between the vehicle attachment formations 16 of the hub part 12 and the wheel rim 26 may be achieved by reversing the orientation of the hub part 12 relative to the wheel rim 26 and / or altering the side of the flange 30 with which the rim attachment formations 22 of the hub part 12 engage when securing the hub part 12 to the wheel rim 26.

It will be appreciated that the hub part 12 is a load-bearing component which has to have adequate strength and rigidity to support its share of the weight of the vehicle to which it is secured, not only when the vehicle is stationery but also when cornering, braking or carrying out any other manoeuvre during which the hub part 12 will be under significantly increased stress. As such, the

material from which the hub part 12 is made, the method of manufacture and the thickness and shape of the hub part 12 are tailored to give the hub part 12 mechanical properties which are specific to the vehicle, or to a plurality of vehicles of a given weight or power or within a given weight or power range. This need not be the case, however, and the hub part 12 may be manufactured to a standard strength and stiffness which is suitable for use with all or many vehicles on the road.

The diameter and depth of the rirn assembly 14 depends on the car to which the wheel is to be attached, but, corresponds to one of a limited number of wheel sizes currently in use. If the rim attachment formations 22 of the hub part 12 are of a standard configuration which is common to all types of vehicle on the road, it will be appreciated that the hub attachment formations 30 of the wheel rim 26 will need to be dimensioned and/or configured differently depending on the diameter of the wheel rim 26. As will be appreciated, in this example, in order for the apertures 24 provided in the rim attachment formations 22 of the hub part 12 to line up with the apertures 32 in the flange 30 of the wheel rim 26, for larger diameter wheel rims, the flange 30 must be deeper than for smaller diameter wheel rims. If, on the other hand the rim attachment formations 22 of the hub part 12 are of a standard configuration which is common to a particular size of wheel, in order for the apertures 22 and 24 to line up, the flange 30 can be of the same depth for all wheel rim diameters, whilst the outer diameter of the hub part 12, and the diameter of the circle on which the apertures 22 are arranged, vary depending on the size of the wheel appropriate for the vehicle in question.

It will be appreciated that the wheel 10 is formed in three parts (the tyre 28, the wheel rim 26 and the hub part 12), and the only part which is specific to the vehicle to which the wheel is to be attached is the hub part 12, which is the lightest of the components forming the wheei 10. As such, the entire three part wheel 10 of the sort described above need not be carried on a vehicle. Roadside breakdown assistance vehicles may carry a range of outer rim

assemblies 14 to cover the limited number of wheel sizes in common use. In the event that a vehicle has a flat tyre, a roadside breakdown assistance service may be called on to replace the outer rim assembly 14 of the wheel 10 with the flat tyre. The breakdown assistance service provider will therefore select from the range of rim assemblies 14, all of which have the generic hub attachment formations which enable it to be secured to a hub part, one which is of an appropriate size, i.e. diameter and depth to fit the type, make and model of vehicle in question. If necessary, the breakdown service provider will adjust the tyre pressure of the replacement rim assembly tyre to suit the requirements of the particular vehicle.

The replacement outer rim assembly 14 may be secured to the existing hub part 12, either after the hub part 12 has been detached from the vehicle axle, or whilst the hub part 12 is still mounted on the vehicle axle. Alternatively, the vehicle may be provided with or the roadside breakdown assistance service provider may provide a spare hub part 12, which, as this part is relatively lightweight, does not significantly increase the weight of the vehicle, the existing wheel dismounted from the axle, and new hub part 12 secured to the new outer rim assembly 14 either before or after the new hub part 12 has been secured to the axle.

The roadside breakdown assistance vehicle need not carry the outer rim assemblies 14, and a range of such assemblies may be left at a plurality of depots at convenient locations throughout the country, for example at motorway service stations, garages, and/or filling stations. In this case, on receipt of a request for assistance, the roadside breakdown assistance vehicle may call at the nearest depot to collect an appropriately sized outer rim assembly 14, before travelling to the vehicle to fit the new outer rim assembly. The depots may be manned, but could equally be a locked container or containers to which the roadside breakdown assistance service provider has access, for example using a mechanical or electronic key or by entering a security code on a keypad.

Particularly in the case of the unmanned depots, an electronic inventory of the range of rim assemblies 14 currently in stock could be maintained and accessed remotely by operatives in a control centre. In order to do this, the containers may be sub-divided into compartments for the individual storage of different sizes of rim section where the status of each compartment could be controlled or monitored automatically and the information relayed to a control centre. In addition, each wheel rim assembly 14 may be provided with an identifying marker, such as a bar code or radio frequency identification tag (RFID) which identifies the rim assembly. This may be scanned at various times to enable the control centre to monitor the location and deployment of each rim assembly, and, hence send a replacement to the depot to maintain stocks in the depot, and maybe even to arrange for its retrieval for future use when it is no longer required, for example when if it is replaced with the repaired original wheel or rim assembly.

Alternatively, the roadside breakdown assistance vehicle may carry some, say four or five, of the most commonly required outer rim assemblies, whilst the full range of less commonly used outer rim assemblies are provided at the depots, along with supplies of the four or five common varieties for restocking the vehicles.

It will be appreciated that the replacement outer rim assembly 14 need not be provided by a general roadside breakdown assistance service provider. It may, for example, be provided by a dedicated wheel replacement service provider.

The support network for the distribution, deployment and subsequent retrieval of the rim assemblies will make use of all relevant technologies including, but not limited to, mobile telecommunications, telemetry, giobal positioning systems, RFID and related data processing, information handling and accounting programmes.

When used in this specification and claims, the terms "comprises" and "comprising" and variations thereof mean that the specified features, steps or integers are included. The terms are not to be interpreted to exclude the presence of other features, steps or components.

The features disclosed in the foregoing description, or the following claims, or the accompanying drawings, expressed in their specific forms or in terms of a means for performing the disclosed function, or a method or process for attaining the disclosed result, as appropriate, may, separately, or in any combination of such features, be utilised for realising the invention in diverse forms thereof.