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Title:
A RATCHET
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2003/063632
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A ratchet mechanism comprising first and second engaging elements (2, 6), wherein the first element (2) has a plurality of teeth (4) with spaces (14) therebetween, wherein at least one of the spaces (14) contains a resilient material (3).

Inventors:
Sanders, Martin (Century Business Centre, Manvers Wath-Upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire S63 5DA, GB)
Application Number:
PCT/GB2003/000159
Publication Date:
August 07, 2003
Filing Date:
January 20, 2003
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Sanders, Martin (Century Business Centre, Manvers Wath-Upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire S63 5DA, GB)
International Classes:
A43B5/04; A43C11/14; A63C10/06; A63C10/24; (IPC1-7): A43C11/14; A63C9/08
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Neill, Alastair William (Appleyard Lees, 15 Clare Road, Halifax HX1 2HY, GB)
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Claims:
CLAIMS
1. A ratchet mechanism comprising first and second engaging elements, wherein the first element has a plurality of teeth with spaces therebetween, wherein at least one of the spaces contains a resilient material.
2. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in claim 1, wherein when not engaged by the second element, the resilient material is in a first configuration in which the resilient material substantially fills the or each space.
3. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in either claim 1 or claim 2, wherein when engaged by the second element the resilient material is deformed into a second configuration in the or each space to thereby allow mechanical inter engagement of the two elements.
4. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in either claim 2 or claim 3, wherein the resilient material is elastomeric such that disengagement of the first and second elements results in the material adopting substantially the first configuration.
5. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the first element and/or the second element is a ratchet bar.
6. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the first element and/or the second element is a cogwheel.
7. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the resilient material comprises a porous or spongelike material comprising air holes, which allow air into or out of the material as it deforms and/or reforms under changes in pressure thereon.
8. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the resilient material extends across the space between adjacent teeth, the resilient material being substantially collapsible, thereby enabling the two elements to engage with each other.
9. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the resilient material encloses the space between adjacent teeth and contains gas therein.
10. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in claim 9, wherein the gas is air.
11. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the resilient material includes a plurality of apertures extending substantially therethrough.
12. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in claim 11, wherein the gas passes through the apertures from the space to the outside as the resilient material is deformed from the first configuration to the second configuration upon engagement of the first and second elements.
13. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in claim 11 or claim 12, wherein the gas passes through the apertures from the outside to the space as the resilient material is deformed from the second configuration to the first configuration upon disengagement of the first and second elements.
14. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any of claims 3 to 8, wherein the resilient material is a gellike substance which is deformed from the first configuration to the second configuration upon engagement of the first and second elements.
15. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the resilient material is rubber.
16. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any of claims 3 to 8, wherein the material comprises a plurality of protrusions, "fins"or"fingers"contained substantially within the or each space between adjacent teeth and which fold back and substantially flatten or be compressed into the second configuration upon engagement of the first and second elements.
17. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the resilient material comprise a single opening therein extending from one side thereof to the other.
18. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the resilient material comprise collapsible tubing.
19. A method of improving the mechanical interengagement of a ratchet mechanism which ratchet comprises first and second engaging elements, wherein the first element has a plurality of teeth with spaces therebetween and, a resilient material across at least one of said spaces between adjacent teeth, the method comprising engaging the first and second engaging elements and thereby deforming the resilient material sufficiently to allow meshing of the first and second engaging elements.
20. A ratchet mechanism comprising first and second engaging elements, wherein the first element has a plurality of teeth with spaces therebetween, wherein a resilient material extends at least partially between at least two teeth.
21. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in claim 20, wherein the resilient material extends at least partially between at least two adjacent teeth.
22. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in either claim 20 or claim 21, wherein the resilient material comprises cover means.
23. A ratchet mechanism comprising first and second engaging elements, the first element having a plurality of teeth with spaces therebetween, wherein at least one of the spaces is substantially covered by cover means.
24. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in claim 23, wherein the cover means extends substantially across the at least one space.
25. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in either claim 23 or claim 24, wherein the cover means is substantially flexible.
26. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any of claims 23 to 25, wherein the cover means is operable to move between a first position in which the at least one space is substantially covered, and a second position in which the at least one space is substantially uncovered.
27. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in claim 26, wherein the cover means is substantially resilient to allow movement between the said first and second positions.
28. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in either claim 26 or claim 27, wherein the cover means is operable to move between the first position and the second position upon engagement with the second engaging element.
29. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any of claims 23 to 28, wherein engagement with the second engaging element urges the cover means in to the space.
30. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any of claims 23 to 29, wherein said cover means is adapted to prevents unwanted material from entering the at least one space covered by the cover means when in the first position.
31. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any of claims 23 to 30, wherein the cover means is attached to a tooth which is adjacent the at least one space.
32. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any of claims 23 to 31, wherein the cover means is integral with the tooth adjacent the at least one space.
33. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any of claims 23 to 32, wherein the cover means comprises a flange or flap which extends across the at least one space.
34. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in claim 33, wherein the flange or flap is urged into the second position upon engagement by the second engaging element.
35. A ratchet mechanism as claimed in any of claims 23 to 34, wherein an internal wall of the at least one space comprises an opening through which the cover means protrudes upon engagement with the second engaging element.
36. A ratchet mechanism substantially as herein described with reference to, and as illustrated by, the accompanying drawings.
37. A method of improving the mechanical interengagement of a ratchet mechanism substantially as herein with reference to, and as illustrated by, the accompanying drawings.
Description:
A RATCHET The present invention relates to ratchets and to a method of improving the functioning of ratchets.

A ratchet consists of a set of spaced-apart teeth arranged along a bar, and an engaging element which meshes in between the teeth to control motion of the bar as desired.

The set of teeth may alternatively be arranged along the outside of a wheel to form a cog-wheel which may engage with the engaging element to control rotational motion.

Alternatively, the teeth of more than one cog-wheel may mesh together to control motion.

However, when obstructing materials or other foreign objects, for example, dirt, oil, grease, mud or snow become lodged in the spaces between the teeth of the ratchet or cog-wheel, the entire arrangement can be useless since meshing with the engaging element is impaired.

It is one of the aims of the present invention to address the above problems and to provide a ratchet in which the build up of unwanted obstructing material in the meshing area is reduced, thereby enabling improved functioning of the ratchet.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a ratchet mechanism comprising first and second engaging elements, wherein the first element has a plurality of teeth with spaces therebetween, wherein at least one of the spaces contains a resilient material.

When not engaged by the second element, the resilient material may be in a first configuration in which the resilient material substantially fills the or each space, and which material, when engaged by the second element is deformed into a second configuration in the or each space to thereby allow mechanical inter-engagement of the two elements.

Advantageously, when in the first configuration, the material substantially takes up a majority of the or each space in between adjacent teeth where unwanted clogging matter and obstructions may build up. The material thereby inhibits or reduces the deposition of said materials in said spaces which would otherwise impair engagement between the first and second elements.

Preferably, the resilient material is elastomeric such that disengagement of the first and second elements results in the material adopting substantially the first configuration.

Advantageously, when in the second configuration, the material is substantially compressed or deformed so that functional engagement of the first and second elements may occur. This may be by sufficient compression of the resilient material resulting in a substantially rigid connection between the first and second elements.

The first element may be a ratchet bar. Alternatively, or additionally, the second element may be a ratchet bar.

The first element may be a cog-wheel. Alternatively, or additionally, the second element may be a cog-wheel.

However, it will be appreciated that the ratchet mechanism may be applied to any surface. Preferably, the ratchet mechanism is present on a ski or snowboard binding.

Preferably, the resilient material comprises a porous or sponge-like material comprising air holes, which may allow air into or out of the material as it deforms and/or reforms under changes in pressure thereon.

The resilient material may extend across the space between adjacent teeth, the resilient material being substantially collapsible, thereby enabling the two elements to engage with each other.

Preferably, the resilient material encloses the space between adjacent teeth and contains gas therein.

Preferably, the gas is air.

Preferably, the resilient material includes a plurality of apertures extending substantially therethrough.

Preferably, the gas passes through the apertures from the space to the outside as the resilient material is deformed from the first configuration to the second configuration upon engagement of the first and second elements.

Preferably, the gas passes through the apertures from the outside to the space as the resilient material is deformed from the second configuration to the first configuration upon disengagement of the first and second elements.

The material may be a gel-like substance which may be deformed from the first configuration to the second configuration upon engagement of the first and second elements.

The material may be rubber.

The material may comprise a plurality of protrusions, "fins"or"fingers"contained substantially within the or each space between adjacent teeth and which may fold back and substantially flatten or be compressed into the second configuration upon engagement of the first and second elements.

The resilient material may comprise a single opening therein, preferably, extending from one side thereof to the other.

The resilient material may comprise collapsible tubing.

According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of improving the mechanical inter-engagement of a ratchet mechanism which ratchet comprises first and second engaging elements, wherein the first element has a plurality of teeth with spaces therebetween and, a resilient material across at least one of said spaces between adjacent teeth, the method comprising engaging the first and second engaging elements and thereby deforming the resilient material sufficiently to allow meshing of the first and second engaging elements.

According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a ratchet mechanism comprising first and second engaging elements, wherein the first element has a plurality of teeth with spaces therebetween, wherein a

resilient material extends at least partially between at least two teeth.

The resilient material may extend at least partially between at least two adjacent teeth. The resilient material may comprise cover means.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a ratchet mechanism comprising first and second engaging elements, the first element having a plurality of teeth with spaces therebetween, wherein at least one of the spaces is substantially covered by cover means.

Preferably, the cover means extends substantially across the at least one space. Preferably, the cover means is substantially flexible and is preferably, operable to move between a first position in which the at least one space is substantially covered, and a second position in which the at least one space is substantially uncovered.

Preferably, the cover means is substantially resilient to allow movement between the said first and second positions. Preferably, the cover means is operable to move between the first position and the second position upon engagement with the second engaging element. Preferably, engagement with the second engaging element urges the cover means in to the space.

Advantageously, and preferably, said cover means is adapted to prevents unwanted material from entering the at least one space covered by the cover means when in the first position. Advantageously, and preferably, engagement

with the second engaging element may occur when the cover means is in the second position.

The cover means may be attached to a tooth which is adjacent the at least one space. Alternatively, the cover means may be integral with the tooth adjacent the at least one space.

Preferably, the cover means comprises a flange or flap which extends across the at least one space. Preferably, the flange or flap may be urged into the second position upon engagement by the second engaging element.

An internal wall of the at least one space may comprise an opening through which the cover means may protrude upon engagement with the second engaging element.

All of the features described herein may be combined with any of the above aspects, in any combination.

For a better understanding of the invention, and to show how embodiments of the same may be carried into effect, reference will now be made, by way of example, to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings, in which:- Figure 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of ratchet bar; Figure 2 is a perspective view of the ratchet bar as shown in Figure 1 in engagement with an engaging element ; Figure 3 is a schematic side view of a second embodiment of ratchet bar;

Figure 4 is a schematic side view of the ratchet bar as shown in Figure 3 in engagement with an engaging element; Figure 5 is a schematic side view of a third embodiment of a ratchet bar in engagement with an engaging element; Figure 6 is a schematic side view of a fourth embodiment of the ratchet bar in engagement with the engaging element; Figure 7 is a schematic side view of a boot positioned above a snowboard having a binding area; Figure 8 is a schematic side view of the boot shown in Figure 7 secured to the binding area of the snowboard; Figure 9 is a schematic side view of a fifth embodiment of ratchet bar; Figure 10 is a schematic side view of the ratchet bar as shown in Figure 9 in engagement with an engaging element; Figure 11 is a perspective view of the ratchet bar as shown in Figure 9; and Figure 12 is a perspective view of the ratchet bar and engaging element as shown in Figure 10.

Referring to Figure 1, there is shown a ratchet bar 2 which may be attached to the binding area 24 of a ski or snowboard 20. Figures 7 and 8 show the ratchet bar 2 being attached to the heel area of the snowboard 20 although it will be appreciated that the ratchet bar 2 may

be attached to the boot 22. Figures 7 and 8 also show a toe strap 26 attached to the snowboard 20 for retaining the toe area of the boot 22 to the board 20.

The ratchet bar 2 has a plurality of ratchet teeth 4 extending outwardly therefrom. The ends of the teeth 4 distal from the ratchet bar 2 are curved. Meshing cavities 14 are formed between each of the ratchet teeth 4. Located within each meshing cavity 14 there is provided a compressible, elastomeric material 3 which substantially fills the meshing cavity 14. The elastomeric material 3 prevents the cavities 14 from becoming filled with unwanted obstructing materials such as oil, grease, dirt and snow or ice etc (not shown) which may work their way into the snowboard or ski binding and would otherwise fill and potentially block the cavities 14.

In figure 1, the elastomeric material 3 consists of a surface membrane 3a which extends across the cavity 14 from the side of one of the ratchet teeth 4 to its neighbouring ratchet tooth 4 thereby enclosing air (or some other gas) therebetween. The surface membrane 3a of the elastomeric material 3 has apertures 3b extending therethrough through which the air may pass. The elastomeric material 3 has the structure of a sponge-type material. The ratchet bar 2 essentially provides a solid skeleton of a meshing ratchet mechanism.

Referring to Figure 2, there is shown the ratchet bar 2 being engaged by an engaging element 6 which is made of a substantially rigid material and which tapers to a narrow tip 6a at an engaging end thereof. In use, as the tapered tip 6a of the engaging element 6 comes into contact or

engagement with the elastomeric material 3 present in the meshing cavities 14, the surface membrane 3a of the elastomeric material 3 deforms thereby compressing the air trapped underneath. The air is thereby forced out through the apertures 3b allowing the engaging element 6 to further compress the material 3 and pass into the meshing space 14. In doing so, the engagement of the engaging element 6 in the meshing space 14, coupled with the presence of curved ends on the teeth 4, acts as a ratchet thereby inhibiting movement of the engaging element 6, in the direction as shown by arrow 12. This would be useful, for example, where the boot of a snowboard is to be prevented from becoming unbound from a snowboard binding.

However, the curvature of the teeth 4 does allow movement of the engaging element 6 in the opposite direction to arrow 12.

Upon disengagement of the engaging element 6 from the meshing cavity 14 and due to the elasticity of the material 3, gas passes back into the elastomeric material 3 through the apertures 3b thereby having the effect of filling up the cavity 14 once again. Therefore, unwanted materials are prevented from blocking up the cavity 14 which would otherwise impair meshing of the ratchet mechanism.

Referring to Figure 3, there is shown a second embodiment of the ratchet mechanism in which the elastomeric material 3 which is fixed in position within the cavities 14 is substantially solid but still elastomeric and compressible. For example, it is made of a gel-like material such as rubber.

Referring to Figure 4, there is shown the ratchet bar 2 being engaged by the tapered end 6a of the engaging element 6, similar to that shown in figure 2, but with the different elastomeric material 3. As the engaging element 6 comes into contact with the surface of the elastomeric material 3, the material 3 is compressed and deformed to thereby enable the engaging element 6 to substantially enter and engage the meshing cavity 14. As with the first embodiment, disengagement of the element 6 from the cavity 14 allows the material 3 to re-adopt its original configuration thereby filling the cavity 14.

Referring to Figure 5, there is shown a third embodiment of the ratchet bar 2 in which the meshing spaces 14 contain a set of flexible"fins"or"fingers"8 which have gaps or air spaces 9 therebetween. The"fins"8 are made of rubber or some other flexible material and are arranged into such a configuration that the width of the cavity 14 is substantially filled thereby preventing blockage with unwanted materials. As with the other embodiments of the invention, as the tapered end 6a of the engaging element comes into contact with the set of"fins"8, the"fins"8 are compressed downwardly such that they collapse within the meshing cavity 14 and allow the engaging element 6 to be accommodated by the space 14. The"fins"9 take on their original configuration upon disengagement of the element 6.

Referring to Figure 6, there is shown a fourth embodiment of the ratchet mechanism in which the meshing cavities 14 contain collapsible tubes 10 having an air space 11 inside. As the tapered end 6a of the engaging element 6 comes into contact with the collapsible tube 10, the tube

10 collapses in the meshing cavity 14 to allow meshing and engaging between the element 6 and the meshing space 14.

Referring to Figures 9 to 12, there is shown a fifth embodiment of the ratchet mechanism in which the meshing cavities 14 are substantially covered by a resilient flexible flange or flap 13 which extends from the top of each tooth 4. Each flange 30 is either securely attached to, or integrally moulded with, the end of each tooth 4.

As can be seen from Figures 9 and 11, the dimensions of the resilient flaps 13 are such that, when not engaged by the engaging element 6, the cavity 14 is substantially enclosed or covered thus preventing foreign material such as dirt, snow, ice, oil etc from entering the cavity 14.

The engagement of an engaging element 6, as shown in Figure 10, causes the flaps 30 to be pushed inwardly as shown by arrow 34 which allows engagement in the cavity 14 between two ratchet teeth 4. The flaps 30 are made of resilient material such that disengagement of the engagement element 6 with the ratchet, results in the flaps 30 returning to their original position substantially covering the cavity 14.

In an additional embodiment as shown in Figure 12, the rear wall of the cavity 14 includes an opening 32 through which the flexible flap 30 may protrude upon engagement with the engaging element 6. Whilst this is not an essential component to the invention, the opening 32 may assist the flap 30 from moving out of the way upon engagement, and thereby improve engagement with the engaging element 6.

Advantages of the ratchet mechanisms described herein reside in the effective exclusion or prevention of unwanted foreign material such as ice, snow, mud, dirt, sand, oil, grease etc from the ratchet bar 2, which material would otherwise inhibit effective engagement between the engaging element 6 and the meshing cavities 14 in between the ratchet teeth 4. It should be appreciated that the invention is not restricted to snowboard or ski bindings, rather any ratchet mechanism where functioning may become impaired, restricted or even prevented by unwanted obstructing materials such as those listed above.

Furthermore, the fact that the compressible material 3 is resilient means that, following compression or deformation by the engaging element 6, when the element 6 is disengaged, the material 3 recovers and assumes its original configuration thereby filling the cavities 14.

The invention provides a method of ensuring that effective ratchet engagement may occur.

The reader's attention is directed to all papers and documents which are filed concurrently with or previous to this specification in connection with this application and which are open to public inspection with this specification, and the contents of all such papers and documents are incorporated herein by reference.

All of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), and/or all of the steps of any method or process so disclosed, may be combined in any combination, except combinations where at least some of such features and/or steps are mutually exclusive.

Each feature disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

The invention is not restricted to the details of the foregoing embodiment (s). The invention extend to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), or to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the steps of any method or process so disclosed.