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Title:
SPARE TIRE MASS DAMPER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2006/044943
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
The present disclosure relates to a damper assembly for use in a vehicle structure that includes a spare tire mounted thereto is provided. The damper assembly includes a support member extending from the structure and a damper secured to the support member. The damper is operatively interposed between and interconnects the structure and the spare tire for modulating relative motion of the spare tire with respect to the structure for damping vibrations of the structure.

Inventors:
HARTGERS, Andrew (23 Warbler Cir, Ilderton, Ontario N0M 2A0, CA)
NICHOLLS, Kevin (64-40 Summit Avenue, London, Ontario N6H 4S3, CA)
RICE, Bernie (2 Meadow Brook Rd, Thorndale, Ontario N0M 2P0, CA)
POWER, Douglas (48 Queenston Crescent, Kitchener, Ontario N2B 2V5, CA)
DOWSON, Chris (74 Blanchard St, Mitchell, Ontario N0K 1N0, CA)
HEWITT, Don (154 Blenheim Court, Mitchell, Ontario N0K 1N0, CA)
BRADSHAW, Jeff (21 King St. South, St. Marys, Ontario N4X 1B9, CA)
McKELLER, Mark (PR#5 Seaforth, Ontario N0K 1WO, CA)
Application Number:
US2005/037547
Publication Date:
April 27, 2006
Filing Date:
October 19, 2005
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
COOPER-STANDARD AUTOMOTIVE, INC. (29550 Orchard Hill Place Drive, Novi, MI, 48375, US)
HARTGERS, Andrew (23 Warbler Cir, Ilderton, Ontario N0M 2A0, CA)
NICHOLLS, Kevin (64-40 Summit Avenue, London, Ontario N6H 4S3, CA)
RICE, Bernie (2 Meadow Brook Rd, Thorndale, Ontario N0M 2P0, CA)
POWER, Douglas (48 Queenston Crescent, Kitchener, Ontario N2B 2V5, CA)
DOWSON, Chris (74 Blanchard St, Mitchell, Ontario N0K 1N0, CA)
HEWITT, Don (154 Blenheim Court, Mitchell, Ontario N0K 1N0, CA)
BRADSHAW, Jeff (21 King St. South, St. Marys, Ontario N4X 1B9, CA)
McKELLER, Mark (PR#5 Seaforth, Ontario N0K 1WO, CA)
International Classes:
A47H1/10
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NAUMAN, Timothy, E. (Fay Sharpe, Fagan Minnich & McKee LLP,1100 Superior Avenue,7th Floo, Cleveland OH, 44114-2579, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Having thus described the invention, it is now claimed:

1. A damper assembly for use in an associated vehicle structure that includes an associated existing mass mounted thereto, the damper assembly comprising: a support member extending from the associated structure; a damper secured to the support member, the damper operatively interconnecting the associated structure and the associated existing mass for modulating relative motion of the associated existing mass with respect to the associated vehicle structure for damping vibrations of the associated vehicle structure.

2. The invention of claim 1 wherein the damper is operatively interposed between the associated vehicle structure and the associated existing mass.

3. The invention of claim 1 wherein the associated existing mass includes a spare tire mounted to the associated vehicle structure.

4. The invention of claim 3 wherein the support member is configured for operative engagement between the associated vehicle structure and the spare tire.

5. The invention of claim 1 wherein a portion of the support member conforms to at least one of the associated vehicle structure and the associated existing mass.

6. The invention of claim 1 wherein the support member includes a pivotal support assembly for mounting the associated existing mass to the associated vehicle structure.

7. The invention of claim 6 wherein the pivotal support assembly includes a torsional damping assembly.

8. The invention of claim 7 wherein the torsional damping assembly includes a torsional damper for damping pivoting and rotational movement of the support member relative to the associated vehicle structure.

9. The invention of claim 6 wherein the pivotal support assembly includes a conical damping assembly.

10. The invention of claim 9 wherein the conical damping assembly includes a damper for damping vertical movement of the support member relative to the associated vehicle structure.

11. The invention of claim 6 wherein the pivotal support assembly includes at least one bushing member fastened to the associated vehicle structure.

12. The invention of claim 6 wherein the pivotal support assembly includes first and second bushings disposed adjacent opposite ends of an elongated support portion of the support member that extends between associated first and second rails of the associated vehicle structure.

13. The invention of claim 12 wherein the damper is spaced from the first and second bushings in longitudinal direction generally parallel to the associated first and second rails of the associated vehicle structure.

14. The invention of claim 1 wherein the damper is oriented to use a mass of the associated existing mass for controlling vibratory disturbances of the associated vehicle structure.

15. The invention of claim 1 wherein the damper includes an elastomeric member that dampens relative movement between the associated existing mass and the associated vehicle structure.

16. A damper assembly for an associated vehicle frame including first and second spaced apart associated frame rails, the associated frame supporting an associated spare tire, the damper assembly comprising: a support member in spaced relation to the associated spare tire; a damper secured to the support member, the damper being operatively connected to one of the associated frame and the associated spare tire.

17. The invention of claim 16 wherein the support member includes a bushing

member.

18. The invention of claim 17 wherein the bushing member is fastened to at least one of the associated first and second frame rails.

19. The invention of claim 17 wherein the bushing member further includes a torsional elastomer for restricting at least one of vertical and rotational movement of the support member.

20. The invention of claim 16 wherein the support member includes a base section in spaced relation to the associated spare tire

21. The invention of claim 20 wherein a portion of the base section conforms to at least one of the associated frame and the associated spare tire.

22. The invention of claim 20 wherein the portion of the base section operatively abuts the associated spare tire.

23. The invention of claim 16 wherein the support member includes an arm extending therefrom and operatively secured to the bushing member.

24. The invention of claim 16 wherein the damper includes a travel restrictor disposed in spaced relation to the support member.

25. The invention of claim 24 wherein the travel restrictor is operatively engaged to at least one of the associated frame and the associated spare tire.

26. The invention of claim 16 wherein the damper is interposed between the associated frame and the associated spare tire for damping vibration therebetween.

27. The invention of claim 16 wherein the damper is molded to at least one of the support member and the arm.

28. A method of damping vibrations of a vehicle structure by modulating the relative motion of a spare tire with respect to the vehicle structure, the method

comprising the steps of: securing a support member to the vehicle structure; securing a damper to the support member; and damping vibrations between the vehicle structure and the spare tire.

29. The method of claim 28 further comprising the step of tuning the frequency of the damper to the vibrations of the vehicle structure.

30. The method of claim 28 wherein the damping step includes torsionally damping the support member for restricting rotational movement of the support member relative to the vehicle structure.

31. The method of claim 28 wherein the damping step includes torsionally damping at a location spaced from the spare tire and damping at least the vertical vibrations of the spare tire.

32. The method of claim 28 wherein the damping step includes damping at least one frequency mode of the vehicle structure.

33. The method of claim 28 wherein the damping step includes damping at least one of the side to side vibrations and the fore and aft vibrations of the vehicle structure.

34. A damper assembly for use in a vehicle frame that includes a spare tire operatively secured to a winch mechanism, the damper assembly comprising: a support member extending from the vehicle frame, the winch mechanism being mounted to a portion of the support member; a damper secured to the support member, the damper operatively interconnecting the vehicle frame and the spare tire for modulating relative motion of the spare tire and winch assembly with respect to the vehicle frame for damping vibrations of the vehicle frame.

Description:

SPARE TIRE MASS DAMPER

Cross Reference to Related Applications

[0001] This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/620,051 filed October 19, 2004 and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/626,247 filed November 9, 2004, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

Background of the Invention

[0002] The present disclosure generally relates to a damper assembly and, more particularly, is concerned with a damper assembly for damping vibrations of a vehicle by modulating relative motion of a mass, particularly a spare tire, with respect to the vehicle.

[0003] Damper assemblies are commonly used in vehicles to reduce vibrations excited in vehicles and noise levels. Such vibrations can induce booming, droning, spattering, and/or squeaking sounds that can be transmitted to a steering wheel, rear view mirror, interior trim, or other portions of the vehicle's interior or to the surroundings. Reduction of such unwanted vibrations and associated noise improves the handling and comfort of a vehicle.

[0004] As it relates to conventional damper assemblies, there are known (a) a mass damper wherein a mass member is fixed to a vibrating member, (b) a dynamic damper wherein a mass member is supported by and connected to the vibrating member via a spring member and (c) a damping material such as an elastic member secured to the vibrating member. However, these conventional devices suffer from various potential problems. For instance, the mass damper and the dynamic damper both require a relatively large mass of the mass member, and exhibit desired vibration damping effect only to significantly narrow frequency ranges, or are limited to certain directions of the excitation force. The damping material suffers from difficulty in exhibiting a desired damping effect, since the damping effect of the damping material is prone to vary depending upon the ambient temperature.

[0005] Mass dampers have long been used to control vibratory disturbances in a vehicle. A downside of a mass damper is that to damp a vibration of a large vibrating mass (e.g., a frame), a large mass must be used in the construction of the damper. This adds weight to a vehicle, and negatively impacts fuel economy.

[0006] In light of the foregoing, it becomes evident that there is a need for a damper assembly that would provide a solution to one or more of the deficiencies from which the prior art and/or conventional damper assemblies have suffered. Accordingly, it would be desirable to develop a damper assembly having a support member and a damper for damping vibrations of a vehicle by modulating the relative motion of a spare tire with respect to the vehicle.

Brief Description of the Invention

[0007] In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a damper assembly for use in an associated vehicle structure that includes an existing mass mounted thereto is provided. The damper assembly includes a support member extending from the vehicle structure and a damper secured to the support member. The damper operatively interconnects the vehicle structure and the existing mass for modulating relative motion of the existing mass with respect to the vehicle structure for damping vibrations of the vehicle structure.

[0008] In accordance with another aspect, a damper assembly for a vehicle frame including first and second spaced apart frame rails supporting a spare tire is provided.

The damper assembly includes a support member in spaced relation to the spare tire and a damper secured to the support member. The damper is operatively connected to one of the frame and the spare tire.

[0009] In accordance with yet another aspect, a method of damping vibrations of a vehicle frame includes the steps of mounting an existing mass, such as a spare tire, to the vehicle frame and modulating the relative motion of the existing mass with respect to the vehicle frame.

[0010] In accordance with still yet another aspect, a damper assembly for use in a vehicle frame that includes a spare tire operatively secured to a winch mechanism is provided. The damper assembly includes a support member extending from the vehicle frame. The winch mechanism is mounted to a portion of the support member. A damper is secured to the support member. The damper operatively interconnects the vehicle frame and the spare tire for modulating relative motion of the spare tire and winch assembly with respect to the vehicle frame for damping vibrations of the vehicle frame.

[0011] A winch mechanism travels with the spare tire in the preferred embodiment, rather than being rigidly secured to the frame.

[0012] The vertical bounce mode is significantly different than all other modes, e.g., the modes are all very stiff except for the vertical bounce mode.

[0013] A primary benefit of the invention resides in the ability to provide an improved damper assembly for a vehicle by using an existing mass of the vehicle, such as a spare tire.

[0014] Another benefit resides in damping vibrations in a plurality of vibration input directions.

[0015] Still another benefit of the invention resides in the ability to provide an improved damper assembly for a vehicle having a configuration which has no impact to the design and function of a conventional winch mechanism.

[0016] Still another benefit of the invention resides in the ability to provide an improved damper assembly for vehicles without attaching an independent mass member to the vehicle.

[0017] Yet another benefit resides in the ability to provide an improved damper assembly for vehicles capable of exhibiting a desired damping effect with high stability.

[0018] Still other non-limiting benefits and aspects of the invention will become apparent from a reading and understanding of the description of the preferred embodiments below.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0019] The present invention may take physical form in certain parts and arrangements of parts, preferred embodiments of which will be described in detail in this specification and illustrated in the accompanying drawings which form a part of the invention.

[0020] FIGURES 1 and 2 are perspective views of a first embodiment of a damper assembly according to the present invention.

[0021] FIGURE 3 shows a side perspective view of the damper assembly of FIGURE

1 with a spare tire removed for ease of illustration.

[0022] FIGURE 4 shows a bottom perspective view of the damper assembly of

FIGURE 1 secured to a frame of a vehicle.

[0023] FIGURE 5 is a cross-sectional view of the damper assembly of FIGURE 3.

[0024] FIGURE 6 is a cross-sectional view of a torsional damping assembly of the damper assembly of FIGURE 1.

[0025] FIGURE 7 is an elevational view representing potential travel limits of the spare tire relative to the frame.

[0026] FIGURE 8 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a damper assembly according to the present invention.

[0027] FIGURE 9 is front perspective view, partially broken away, of the damper assembly of FIGURE 8 secured to a frame and spare tire of a vehicle.

[0028] FIGURE 10 is a schematic representation of a third embodiment of a damper assembly according to the present invention..

[0029] FIGURE 11 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of a damper assembly according to the present invention with a spare tire removed for ease of illustration.

[0030] FIGURE 12 is a partially enlarged perspective view of the damper assembly of FIGURE H .

[0031] FIGURE 13 is a perspective view of the damper assembly of FIGURE 11 including a winch mechanism secured thereto.

[0032] FIGURE 14 is a perspective view of the damper assembly of FIGURE 13 including a spare tire secured thereto.

[0033] FIGURE 15 is a perspective view of a fifth embodiment of a damper assembly according to the present invention.

[0034] FIGURE 16 is a top plan view of the damper assembly of FIGURE 15.

[0035] FIGURE 17 is a partial perspective view of the damper assembly of FIGURE

15 secured to a vehicle frame.

[0036] FIGURE 18 is a perspective view of a sixth embodiment of a damper assembly according to the present invention.

Detailed Description of the Invention

[0037] The description and drawings herein are merely illustrative and various modifications and changes can be made to the components and arrangement(s) of components without departing from the spirit of the invention. Like numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views.

[0038] The illustrated embodiments of the present invention generally show a damper assembly extending from a vehicle frame and operatively engaged to a spare tire for damping road hop, axle tramp and other excitations associated with the operation of the vehicle. It should be appreciated by one skilled in the art that the

damper assembly is not limited to frame vehicles and could also be applied to uni-body vehicles without departing from the scope and intent of the invention. It should also be appreciated that the spare tire is one example of an existing vehicle mass that can be operatively engaged to the damper assembly and that other existing vehicle masses can be used without departing from some aspects of the scope and intent of the present invention.

[0039] A first embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGURES 1-7. With reference to FIGURES 1-4, damper assembly D extends from a frame F of a vehicle (not shown). Typically, the frame F includes first and second spaced apart frame rails 10 and 12 shown here in generally parallel relation, and at least one cross member 14 interconnecting the first and second frame rails. A spare tire T is located between the frame rails.

[0040] The damper assembly D includes a support member 20. Typically, the support member is a metal structure, although as will be appreciated in accordance with the present invention, alternative materials including non-metallic materials such as nylon can be used to form the support member. The support member 20 is configured for operative engagement between the first and second frame rails 10, 12 and the spare tire. In the illustrated embodiment, the support member extends in a longitudinal direction that is generally parallel to the frame rails, although it will be appreciated that the particular geometry or orientation of the support member relative to the frame may be altered without departing from the scope and intent of the invention. [0041] As shown in FIGURES 1-4, the support member includes a base section 22 that spans generally across a diameter of the tire. The base section includes first and second end sections 24 and 26 extending from opposing ends thereof. At least one of the first and second end sections 24, 26 preferably has a contour conforming to an outer radial contour or conformation of the spare tire. In the present embodiment, the first and second end sections have an arcuate contour, however, as will be appreciated, other variations or contours may be used without departing from the scope and intent of the present invention. The conforming contour of at least one of the first and second sections 24, 26 ensures that the base section 22 operatively supports, abuts, or engages the spare tire. Thus, the base section is oriented to use the mass of the spare tire for controlling vibratory disturbances of the vehicle frame F. [0042] To raise and lower the spare tire T relative to the vehicle frame, conventionally a winch mechanism is fixedly secured, generally bolted, to the vehicle

frame. However, in the present invention, the winch mechanism 28 is operatively fastened to the damper assembly D. In particular, and as shown in FIGURE 3, the winch assembly 28 is mounted to the base section 22 of the support member 20 for selectively raising and lowering the spare tire T relative to the vehicle frame F, and in this instance relative to the support member 20. Because the winch mechanism is mounted to the damper assembly D, the winch mechanism travels and moves in unison with the spare tire. Thus, the damper assembly D operatively interconnects the vehicle frame F and the spare tire T for modulating relative motion of the spare tire and the winch assembly 28 with respect to the vehicle frame for damping vibrations of the vehicle frame. A flexible member, such as a winch cable (not shown), is fed to and from the winch mechanism to lower the tire to the ground, or raise the spare tire into the stowed position shown in the Figures where the spare tire is supported between the frame rails.

[0043] The support member 20 further includes a pivotal support assembly 30 fixedly secured to the second arcuate end section 26 for mounting the spare tire to the vehicle frame. The pivotal support includes a base section 32 and first and second arm sections 34 and 36 extending therefrom. The arm sections serve to interconnect the support member to the frame, particularly each arm section being pivotally secured to a respective frame rail. For example, a conventional bushing or bearing assembly could be used to interconnect the support member with the frame. In the preferred arrangement, however, each arm section 34 and 36 of the pivotal support assembly 30 includes a torsional damping assembly 40. The torsional damping assembly includes a housing 42. Typically, the housing is a metal structure, although as will be appreciated in accordance with the present invention, alternative materials including non-metallic materials can be used to form the housing. Secured to an inner surface 44 of the housing is a torsional damper 46 for damping pivoting and rotational movement of the support member 20 relative to the vehicle frame F. The torsional damper is often an elastomer or rubber construction because of the ability of the rubber or elastomeric material to isolate and reduce noise and vibration from being transmitted therethrough because of the elastic nature of the material. The torsional damper 46 is preferably mold bonded to the inner surface 44, although it will be appreciated that other bonding arrangements, such as an adhesive bond, can be used without departing from the scope and intent of the present invention.

[0044] An inner diameter portion 48 of the torsional damper 46 is secured to a bushing member 60 that is mounted to the frame. Each bushing member 60 includes a fastener (not shown) and a sleeve 62. The fastener of each bushing member 60 secures the bushing to the vehicle frame F.

[0045] As illustrated in FIGURES 5 and 6, the torsional damper 46 may incorporate one or more arcuate or circumferentially extending openings. Thus, the torsional damper in the preferred arrangement is radially continuous between the housing 42 and the bushing member 60 in one diametrical dimension (e.g., in the horizontal direction as shown) and is discontinuous in another diametrical direction (e.g., in the vertical direction as shown) through the inclusion of openings 68, 70. Here, the openings are generally symmetrical, but need not necessarily be symmetrical or similarly shaped. [0046] With continued reference to FIGURE 5, a damper 80 is secured to the support member 20. The damper is operatively interposed between the vehicle frame F and the spare tire for modulating relative motion of the spare tire with respect to the frame and thereby damping vibrations of the frame. The damper 80 is also spaced from the bushing members 60 in the longitudinal direction. The damper is oriented to use a mass of the spare tire for controlling vibratory disturbances of the vehicle frame F. The damper 80 includes an elastomeric member 82 for damping relative movement between the spare tire and the frame such as in the vertical direction. The elastomeric member 82 also isolates and reduces noise and vibration from being transmitted therethrough because of the elastic nature of the material.

[0047] The elastomeric member 82 is fixedly secured to the support member 20. Particularly, the base section 22 includes a through bore, and first and second flanges 84 and 86 associated with opposite faces of the base section for mounting the damper 80 thereto. The elastomeric member 82 is preferably mold bonded to the inner surface of the bore, however other bonding arrangements, such as an adhesive bond, can be used without departing from the scope and intent of the present invention. [0048] With continued reference to FIGURE 5, the damper 80 further includes at least one travel restrictor 92 disposed in spaced relation to the support member 20. The travel restrictor preferably comprises first and second plate members 94 and 96, respectively, interconnected in axially spaced relation by a travel rod 98. The travel rod extends through an aperture (not shown) located in the elastomeric member 82. A conventional fastener assembly 100 secures the plate members to opposite ends of the travel rod. As shown in FIGURE 4, the travel restrictor 92 is operatively engaged at one

end to the vehicle frame F. In operation, the travel restrictor 92 limits vertical displacement of the spare tire relative to the frame as best represented in FIGURE 7. In particular, as the spare tire T moves vertically relative to the frame F, the support member 20 will pivot about the pivotal supports 30. The base section 22 of the support member will move vertically on the travel restrictor 92. The vertical movement of the base section however is restricted by the plate members 94 and 96 of the travel restrictor abutting respective ends of the elastomeric member 82. This limited vertical movement, in turn, modulates relative motion of the spare tire T with respect to the frame F thereby damping vibrations of the frame.

[0049] Similar to the aforementioned embodiment, a second embodiment of the damper assembly is shown in FIGURES 8 and 9. Since most of the structure and function is substantially identical, reference numerals with a single primed suffix (') refer to like components (e.g., vehicle frame is referred to by reference numeral F 1 ), and new numerals identify new components in the additional embodiment. [0050] As shown, the damper assembly D 1 includes a support member 120 configured for operative engagement with a cross member extending between the first and second frame rails 10", 12' and a spare tire T. The spare tire includes a rim R having a plurality of conventional mounting apertures dimensioned to receive the threaded studs of a wheel hub.

[0051] The support member 120 includes a first or base section 122 secured to the cross member 14' of the vehicle frame F. Preferably, the base section conforms to the contour of the cross member. In this embodiment, the base section has a generally planar upper surface 124 which is contiguous with a lower surface of the cross member 14". A second section 130 of the support member 120 extends generally normal from a lower surface of the first section 122. The second section has a general circular cross- section, although, it can be appreciated that other cross-sections can be used without departing from the scope and intent of the present invention. [0052] As shown in FIGURE 9, the support member 120 further includes a housing 134 fixedly secured to one end of the second section 130 of the support member. The housing comprises at least one bore 140 for securing at least one damper 80'. In the present embodiment, the housing 134 includes five circumferentially spaced bores for securing five dampers, one damper dimensioned for respective receipt through one of the mounting apertures of the rim R.

[0053] The damper 80' includes an elastomeric member 82' for damping relative movement between the spare tire T and the frame F'. The elastomeric member 82' is fixedly secured in the housing 132. Preferably, an outer surface of the elastomeric member is bonded to an inner surface of the bore 140. The damper 80' further includes at least one travel restrictor 92'. The travel restrictor comprises first and second plate members 94' and 96' interconnected by a generally axially extending travel rod 98'. The travel rod extends through an aperture of the elastomeric member 82', and the first plate member 94' is secured to a first end of the travel rod 98' while a second end of the travel rod extends through the mounting aperture of the rim and is secured to the second plate 96' beneath the rim. The travel restrictor 92' thus operatively limits displacement of the spare tire relative to the frame F'. As to a further discussion of the manner of usage and operation of the second embodiment, the same should be apparent from the above description relative to the first embodiment. Accordingly, no further discussion relating to the manner of usage and operation will be provided.

[0054] FIGURE 10 schematically represents that one or more dampers may be located at various positions relative to the spare tire. Thus, although the embodiment of FIGURES 8 and 9 locate the dampers within the area of the spare tire, it will be appreciated that one or more dampers can be mounted outside the periphery of the spare tire and still effectively use the mass of the spare tire to dampen the vibrations of the vehicle frame. Again, this third embodiment schematically illustrates what one of ordinary skill in the art would recognize, namely that alternative arrangements may be used to achieve the same result.

[0055] Similar to the aforementioned embodiment, a fourth embodiment of the damper assembly is shown in FIGURES 11-14. Since some of the structure and function is substantially identical, reference numerals with a triple primed suffix ("") refer to like components (e.g., damper assembly is referred to by reference numeral D'"), and new numerals identify new components in the additional embodiment. [0056] The damper assembly D'" includes a support member 180 configured for operative engagement between first and second frame rails (not shown) and the spare tire T'" (FIGURE 14). Similar to the first embodiment, the support member extends in a longitudinal direction that is generally parallel to the frame rails, although it will be appreciated that the particular geometry or orientation of the support member relative to the frame may be altered without departing from the scope and intent of the invention.

[0057] As shown in FIGURES 11-14, the support member includes a base section 182 secured to a pair of arms 184 and 186 which span generally across a diameter of the spare tire. Each arm preferably has an end section with a contour conforming to an outer radial contour or conformation of the spare tire. In the present embodiment, the end sections have an arcuate contour, however, as will be appreciated, other variations or contours may be used without departing from the scope and intent of the present invention. The conforming contour of the end sections of the arms 184 and 186 ensures that the support member 180 operatively supports, abuts, or engages the spare tire. Thus, the support member is oriented to use the mass of the spare tire for controlling vibratory disturbances of the vehicle frame.

[0058] The base section has a generally planar top surface 188 including at least a slotted opening 190 for receiving and operatively securing a portion of a conventional winch mechanism 192. The conventional winch mechanism 192 selectively raises and lowers the spare tire relative to the vehicle frame (not shown), and in this instance relative to the support member. Similar to the first embodiment, because the winch mechanism 192 is mounted to the damper assembly D'", the winch mechanism travels and moves in unison with the spare tire T 1 " (FIGURE 14). Aflexible membersuch as a winch cable 194 is fed to and from the winch mechanism to lower the spare tire to the ground, or raise the spare tire into the stowed position shown in FIGURE 14 where the spare tire is supported between the frame rails.

[0059] The support member 180 further includes a pivotal support assembly 200 fixedly secured to the arcuate end sections of the arms 184 and 186 for mounting the support member to the vehicle frame. The pivotal support includes first and second arm sections 202 and 204 which serve to interconnect the support member 180 to the frame, particularly each arm section being pivotally secured to a respective frame rail. Each arm section 202 and 204 of the pivotal support assembly 200 includes a torsional damping assembly 210.

[0060] With reference to FIGURE 12, each torsional damping assembly 210 includes a housing 212. Typically, the housing is a metal structure, although as will be appreciated in accordance with the present invention, alternative materials including non-metallic materials can be used to form the housing. Secured to an inner surface of the housing is a torsional damper 214 for damping pivoting and rotational movement of the support member 180 relative to the vehicle frame. Similar to the first embodiment, the torsional damper is often an elastomer or rubber construction because of the ability

of the rubber or elastomeric material to isolate and reduce noise and vibration from being transmitted therethrough because of the elastic nature of the material. [0061] An inner diameter portion of the torsional damper 214 can be secured to a bushing member which is fixedly secured to respective first ends 220 and 222 of the first and second arm sections 202 and 204. In the illustrated embodiment, each first end includes a projection 224 which is secured to the inner diameter portion of the torsional damper 214. The torsional damper is preferably mold bonded to the projection 224, although it will be appreciated that other bonding arrangements, such as an adhesive bond, can be used.

[0062] Extending from each housing 212 of the torsional damping assemblies 210 is a flange 230. The flange includes a generally planar surface 232 having at least one mounting aperture 234 adapted to receive a conventional fastener (not shown). The fastener secures the flange, and inturn, the torsional damping assemblies 210 to the vehicle frame.

[0063] With continued reference to FIGURES 11 and 12, a damper 238 is secured to respective second ends 240 and 242 of the first and second arm sections 202 and 204. Similar to the previous embodiments, the dampers 238 operatively interconnect the vehicle frame and the spare tire T'" for modulating relative motion of the spare tire with respect to the frame and thereby damping vibrations of the frame. The dampers 238 are also spaced from the torsional damping assemblies 210 in the longitudinal direction. Each damper includes a housing 244. The housing can be oblong in cross-section and includes an elastomeric member 246 secured to an inner surface of the housing for damping relative movement between the spare tire and the frame such as in the vertical direction. The elastomeric member 246 also isolates and reduces noise and vibration from being transmitted therethrough because of the elastic nature of the material. [0064] Each damper 238 further includes at least one travel restrictor 92'" for limiting vertical displacement of the spare tire relative to the frame. Similar to the first embodiment, the travel restrictor preferably comprises a first plate member (not shown) and a second plate member 96"" interconnected in axialiy spaced relation by a travel rod (not shown). The travel rod extends through an aperture 248 located in the elastomeric member 246. A conventional fastener (not shown) can secure the plate members to opposite ends of the travel rod. The travel restrictor 92"' is operatively engaged at one end to the vehicle frame by the second plate member 96'".

[0065] In operation, as the spare tire T"' moves vertically relative to the frame, the support member 180 will pivot about the pivotal supports 200. This, in turn, will cause each travel restrictor 92"' to move vertically within the elastomeric member 246. The vertical movement of the support member is restricted by the plate members abutting respective ends of the elastomeric members. This limited vertical movement, in turn, modulates relative motion of the spare tire T"' with respect to the frame thereby damping vibrations of the frame.

[0066] Similar to the fourth embodiment described above, FIGURES 15-17 illustrate a fifth embodiment of a damper assembly D"" of the present invention, more particularly, an alternative arrangement of the pivotal support assembly 280. Each pivotal support assembly is fixedly secured to end sections of a pair of arms 282 and 284 of a support member 286 which is similar in structure to support member 180. The pivotal support includes first and second arm sections 290 and 292 which serve to interconnect the support member to the frame F"". Each arm section includes a damping assembly, such as conical damping assembly 296, secured at one end and a damper 238' secured at the other end.

[0067] Each damping assembly 296 includes a housing 298 preferably having a conical cross-section. Secured to an inner surface of the housing is a damper 300 for damping vertical movement of the support member relative to the vehicle frame. Similar to the previous embodiments, the conical damper 300 is often an elastomer or rubber construction because of the ability of the rubber or elastomeric material to isolate and reduce noise and vibration from being transmitted therethrough because of the elastic nature of the material. As shown in FIGURE 17, an inner diameter portion of the damper 300 is secured to a bushing member 302 that is mounted to the frame F"". The bushing member can include a fastener and a sleeve, the fastener securing the bushing to the vehicle frame.

[0068] As to a further discussion of the manner of usage and operation of the fifth embodiment, the same should be apparent from the above description relative to the previous embodiments. Accordingly, no further discussion relating to the manner of usage and operation will be provided. Again, this fifth embodiment schematically illustrates what one of ordinary skill in the art would recognize, namely that alternative arrangements may be used to achieve the same result of modulating relative motion of the spare tire with respect to the frame thereby damping vibrations of the frame.

[0069] A sixth embodiment of a clamper assembly of the present invention is illustrated in FIGURE 18. The damper assembly D'"" includes a support member 350 configured for operative engagement between first and second frame rails (not shown) and the spare tire T"" 1 .

[0070] The support member includes first and second arms 352 and 354, respectively, interconnected by first and second cross supports 358 and 360, respectively. The first and second arms connect the support member to the frame, particularly each arm being mounted to a respective frame rail by a first damper 370 secured to respective first ends 372 and 374 of the first and second arms. The first dampers 370 are similar in structure to dampers 80. Spaced from the first dampers 370 in the longitudinal direction is a second damper 380 similar in structure to damper 238. The second damper is fixedly secured between respective second end portions 382 and 384 of the first and second arms 352 and 354 adjacent the second cross support 360. A portion of the second damper is secured to the spare tire. In operation, the first and second dampers limit vertical displacement of the spare tire relative to the frame thereby damping vibrations of the frame.

[0071] A conventional winch mechanism 400 is mounted between the respective second end portions 382 and 384 of the first and second arms 352 and 354. Again, the winch mechanism selectively raises and lowers the spare tire relative to the vehicle frame, and in this instance relative to the support member 350. Similar to the first embodiment, because the winch mechanism 400 is mounted to the damper assembly D'"", the winch mechanism moves with the spare tire T'"".

[0072] From the foregoing, it should be apparent that the present invention provides a damper assembly for damping vibrations of a vehicle frame by modulating the relative motion of a spare tire with respect to the vehicle frame. The damping assembly generally comprises a support member secured to the vehicle frame and a damper secured to the support member. The pivoting support frame allows and encompasses the positioning of the damper at or near the centre of percussion which reduces unwanted energy input into the vehicle frame or body. The damper includes an elastomeric member which dampens vibrations between the vehicle frame and the spare tire by tuning the elastomeric member to the frequency of the vibrations of the vehicle frame. The support member can also be torsionally dampened which restricts the rotational movement of the support member relative to the vehicle frame.

[0073] As is well known, vertical vibrations or vertical bounce mode is generally higher than all other frequency modes when compared to road bounce. The damper assembly of the present invention, which can be stiff in all modes except the vertical bounce mode thereby allowing the mounts to move together, dampens at least the vertical vibrations of the spare tire and at least one frequency mode of the vehicle frame. The damper assembly preferably also dampens at least one of the side to side vibrations and the fore and aft vibrations of the vehicle frame. The present invention provides a vertical vibration mode tunable to the vehicle frame beaming frequency while all other vibration modes are significantly higher than road input frequencies. This prevents secondary modes from being excited by frame beaming and other road inputs. Thus, this vibration damper assembly facilitates the bouncing displacement of the spare tire relative to the vehicle frame, thereby exhibiting an improved vibration damping effect without attaching an independent mass member to the vehicle frame. [0074] The figures illustrate various embodiments of a damper assembly according to the present invention. The damper assembly is primarily directed toward automotive applications for reducing unwanted noise and vibrations transmitted to the vehicle interior or its surroundings. It should be noted, however, as will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description and claims, the principles of the present invention are equally applicable to other devices where mass vibrations are to be reduced or substantially eliminated.

[0075] The present invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiments. Obviously, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon reading and understanding the preceding detailed description. For example, it will be appreciated that the use of additional cushions, such as rebound cushions, do not detract from the scope of the present invention. Likewise, various other manufacturing steps may be employed or in a different sequence and different materials may be used or alternative processes without departing from the present invention. It is intended that the present invention be construed as including all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.