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Title:
SULKY CHASSIS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/201582
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to two wheeled sulky chassis assemblies comprising a deck having a mounting assembly for mounting a driver's seat, a pair of laterally spaced shafts, a pair of brace members wherein said brace members are positioned to provide load support to the deck, and a pair of forked stays extending beneath the deck and shafts for supporting a wheel axle. The invention, further, relates to methods for the manufacture of such sulky chasses formed from a hollow composite material comprising a hollow polymeric inner material with a fibre composite outer material. Additionally, the invention provides for a sulky mount assembly comprising either a ball and socket joint assembly or a sulky shaft coupling comprising one or more disc portions for engaging with a clip housing on the animal.

Inventors:
HAYNES, Brandon (59 Queen St, Marburg, South Australia 4346, 4346, AU)
Application Number:
AU2017/050492
Publication Date:
November 30, 2017
Filing Date:
May 26, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
HAYNES, Brandon (59 Queen St, Marburg, South Australia 4346, 4346, AU)
International Classes:
B62C1/08; B62C5/02; F16L37/08
Foreign References:
US4993728A1991-02-19
US20050023784A12005-02-03
GB2292358A1996-02-21
US8408563B12013-04-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHILIAD CONSULTING PTY LTD (GPO Box 1629, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, 5001, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A sulky chassis assembly comprising;

a deck having a mounting assembly for mounting a driver's seat thereon, a pair of laterally spaced shafts extending from the deck,

a pair of brace members attached at one end to the deck and extending at a lateral outward angle to connect at another end to another location on the chassis assembly wherein said brace members are positioned to provide load support to the deck,

a pair of forked stays extending beneath the deck and shafts for supporting a wheel axle.

2. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 1, wherein said brace members are attached at one end to the deck and extend at a lateral outward angle to connect at another end to a shaft.

3. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 1 or 2, wherein said sulky chassis

assembly is formed from a hollow composite material comprising a polymeric inner material and a fibre composite outer material.

4. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 3, wherein the wheels of the sulky are formed from a hollow composite material comprising a polymeric inner material and a fibre composite outer material.

5. A sulky chassis assembly according to claims 3 or 4, wherein said polymeric inner material is formed from a plastic, rubber, nylon, or composite thereof.

6. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 5, wherein said polymeric inner material is formed from polyvinyl chloride.

7. A sulky chassis assembly according to any one of claims 3 to 5, wherein said fibre composite outer material is formed from an aramid fibre material, a carbon fibre material or composites thereof.

8. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 7, wherein said fibre composite outer material is formed from carbon fibre.

9. A sulky chassis assembly according to any one of claims 3 to 8, wherein the

proportion of fibre within the fibre composite outer material comprises between about 20% w/w and 80% w/w fibre.

10. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 9, wherein the proportion of fibre within the fibre composite outer material comprises between about 40% w/w and 80% w/w fibre.

11. A sulky chassis assembly according to any one of claims 3 to 10, wherein the fibre composite outer material is formed by wrapping the polymeric inner material with the fibre composite material.

12. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 11, wherein the deck is formed by

wrapping the polymeric inner material with two layers of fibre composite material.

13. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 12, wherein the shafts and stays are formed by wrapping the polymeric inner material with one layer of fibre composite material.

14. A method for the manufacture of a sulky chassis formed from a hollow composite material comprising the steps of;

moulding a polymeric material into hollow tubular structures in the shape of a set of sulky chassis components according to claim 1,

wrapping the hollow polymeric inner material with a fibre composite outer material, and

assembling the sulky chassis components.

15. A method for the manufacture of a sulky chassis according to claim 14 comprising the additional step of heat shrinking the fibre composite outer material.

16. A method for the manufacture of a sulky chassis according to claim 13 or 15 wherein the step of wrapping the hollow polymeric inner material with a fibre composite outer material is repeated for one or more sulky chassis components.

17. A method for the manufacture of a sulky chassis according to any one of claims 13 to 16 wherein the sulky chassis is a sulky chassis accordance to any one of claims 1 to 13.

18. A sulky chassis assembly according to any one of claims 3 to 13, wherein the

attachment between the deck and the brace members, the connection between the brace members and the other locations on the chassis assembly, and the extension of the shafts from the deck are formed by a spigot member fitted within the hollow composite material.

19. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 18, wherein the spigot member is

tapered at both ends.

20. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 18 or 19, wherein the spigot member is barbed at both ends.

21. A sulky chassis assembly according to any one of claims 18 to 20, wherein the

attachment between the deck and the brace members, and the connection between the brace members and the other locations on the chassis assembly is formed by a clamp comprising an external clamp portion and an internal spigot portion.

22. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 21, wherein the external clamp portion comprises a c-shaped clamp.

23. A sulky chassis assembly according to any one of claims 1 to 13 or 18 to 22 comprising a mounting assembly for mounting a driver's seat thereon.

24. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 23 wherein the mounting assembly comprises one or more mounting supports fixed to the deck.

25. A sulky chassis assembly according to claim 24 wherein the mounting assembly comprises a sliding mechanism for adjustment of the position of the driver's seat.

26. A sulky chassis assembly according to any one of claims 1 to 13 or 18 to 24 wherein the assembly is packaged in individual components together with instructions for their assembly.

27. A sulky mount assembly for mounting a shaft according to any one of claims 1 to 26 to an animal's tack comprising;

a ball assembly having a sulky shaft coupling at one end and one or more ball portions for engaging with a socket to form a ball and socket joint,

a socket assembly having a pair of socket portions and one or more closures for joining the pair of socket portions to form a cavity therebetween, and

a loop or fastener for securing the sulky mount assembly to the animal's tack.

28. A sulky mount assembly according to claim 27 wherein the ball assembly is coupled with a shaft of the sulky chassis assembly according to any one of claims 1 to 27.

29. A sulky mount assembly for mounting a shaft according to any one of claims 1 to 27 to an animal's tack comprising;

a shaft attachment having a sulky shaft coupling at one end and one or more disc portions for engaging with a clip housing to form a join,

a clip housing having a spring loaded resilient closure closures for maintaining a disc of the shaft attachment on either side of the resilient closure, and

a loop or fastener for securing the sulky mount assembly to the animal's tack. A sulky mount assembly according to claim 29 wherein the shaft attachment is coupled with a shaft of the sulky chassis assembly according to any one of claims 1 to 27.

Description:
TITLE

[0001] SULKY CHASSIS

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present invention relates to animal drawn carts, and more particularly to horse drawn two wheeled sulkies. A sulky chassis assembly is described comprising a pair of brace members positioned between a deck and a pair of shafts, which may provide load support to the deck. Material construction is described which may also provide additional structural support and/or safety features.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Two wheeled animal drawn vehicles have been used for hundreds of years for the transportation of people and cargo, and for the operation of land machinery (such as ploughs or cultivators). They span a great number of configurations adapted for the transportation of their particular cargo type or for the performance of a particular function. They have been fabricated from many types of materials including wood, metal alloys (such as stainless steel, titanium and aluminium); and carbon fibre.

[0004] Today, sulky vehicles are commonly used for entertainment purposes in harness trotting races. They are generally constructed of a chassis comprising a deck supporting a seat for the driver, two main shafts mountable to an animal harness, and a pair of stays supporting axles for mounting a pair of wheels either side of the deck.

[0005] The construction and fabrication materials for trotting sulkies must comply with local racing regulation. Traditional materials, such as timber, have been phased out through regulation and are therefore less common. Most trotting sulkies are constructed of tubular metal alloys welded to form a single chassis comprising the deck, shafts and axles. [0006] To date, welded metal alloy chasses have been widely accepted in trotting as they provide a reasonable balance between performance, safety and cost. Lightweight construction is preferred due to the performance improvement on the travelling speed of the vehicle; provided that a reasonable level of vehicle safety is maintained. To improve performance further still, carbon fibre construction of sulkies has recently become possible for certain model types. However, this has been at the expense of the cost price of such sulkies.

[0007] The safety of sulky drivers can also become compromised as a result of accidents occurring from failure of the sulky vehicle; from unexpected collisions with other vehicles or objects, and/or from the unexpected behaviour of the animal. Injuries arising from sulky failures or collisions can often be compounded by the behaviour of the animal attempting to free itself or avoid danger (for example tramplings that occur following accidents). The effect of sulky related accidents can be very serious; possibly resulting in the death of the driver.

[0008] Sulky failures often arise as the sulky chassis or components thereof fatigue over a period of time. Mechanical stress and wearing of the materials currently used for fabricating sulky chasses results in the eventual failure of the chassis material. Although sulkies are usually inspected prior to racing, which is generally required by racing regulation, structural weaknesses in the chassis material are easily missed. More often than not, weaknesses or imperfections in the chassis material occur beneath the powder coated or painted layer which prevents their detection by visual inspection. A failure to detect the structural degradation of the chassis material is a common cause of sulkies failing during a trotting race, in turn causing significant injury to the driver, horse and creating a major hazard to the safety of all drivers on the track.

[0009] As the majority of sulkies on the market are constructed from metals and metal alloys, they are inherently prone to weathering and rusting. Surface coating materials are applied to delay the weathering and rusting of metal chassis materials, whilst hampering the detection of fractures or other structural weaknesses in the material. Thus, metal alloys or composites less prone to rusting are often used to avoid the need to apply a surface coating. However, rust and weathering are simply delayed by using metal alloys and do not overcome the problem of fatigue related failure altogether.

[0010] A common point of weakness for the emergence of fractures or material failures in metal or metal alloy chasses is at the site of welds. In Australia, Harness Racing Australia regulates the methods and materials acceptable for safe use in forming weld joins in the construction of metal or metal alloy chasses.

[0011] Welding also offers a poor solution for the repair of metal or metal alloy chassis materials that have failed or are showing signs of fatigue or weakness. However, this option is often preferred by owners over the only other alternative, which involves the costly replacement of the entire chassis.

[0012] For many trotters, the complete replacement of the sulky has become a regular expense that could be avoided by alternative material selection, engineering and design.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0013] In a first aspect, the present invention relates to a sulky chassis assembly comprising; a deck having a mounting assembly for mounting a driver's seat thereon, a pair of laterally spaced shafts extending from the deck, a pair of brace members attached at one end to the deck and extending at a lateral outward angle to connect at another end to another location on the chassis assembly wherein said brace members are positioned to provide load support to the deck, and a pair of forked stays extending beneath the deck and shafts for supporting a wheel axle.

[0014] For conventional sulkies, the connection between the deck and the shafts is generally perpendicular which creates a point of mechanical stress culminating in the gradual weakening and fracturing of the sulky chassis. Thus, the brace members preferably span the angle between the deck and the shaft. This configuration provides a greater distribution of the load placed on the deck, and optionally reinforces the connection between deck and the shaft. [0015] The deck of the first aspect may be substantially u-shaped, preferably comprising a main deck and two arms. In this configuration, the brace members may each span the angle formed between the main deck and each of the arms. In one form, each brace member may be connected at the other end to a point on the arm of the deck. In an alternative form, each brace member may be connected at the other end to the shaft.

[0016] The design and engineering of embodiments according to the first aspect may provide additional structural strength, which in turn further reduces the likelihood of weakenings or fractures in the chassis from occurring.

[0017] Preferably, embodiments according to the first aspect are designed such that the deck, the shafts, each brace member and each stay is individually replaceable.

[0018] In another form of the first aspect, the sulky chassis assembly is formed from a hollow composite material comprising a polymeric inner material and a fibre reinforced composite outer material. The composite material, advantageously, is not composed from metallic materials. Thus, the material is not subject to rusting or the degradative effects of weathering suffered by metals and metal alloys. In addition, fibre reinforced composite materials according to the invention need not be painted or surface coated; improving the likelihood that the consequences of mechanical stress, such as fractures or weakening, may be detected improving the safety of the sulky.

[0019] The fibre reinforced composite outer material, according to the first aspect, provides a "fail safe" construction. The composite outer material is preferably the weight bearing structural material. The polymeric inner material preferably provides a support for forming the fibre composite outer material, and/or preferably provides a second structural material should the fibre composite outer fail.

[0020] The selection of composite materials preferably ensures that if a structural member of the chassis assembly fails during use, it will preferably sag under the weight of the driver rather than breaking apart on the track which may in turn cause a serious safety hazard. The sagging may therefore signal to the driver that a mechanical failure has occurred, without 'spooking' the animal, allowing the animal and driver to safely exit the track or bring the vehicle to a gentle stop.

[0021] In addition, the selection of inner and outer materials preferably provides enhanced flexibility and strength of the chassis assembly, thus reducing the likelihood of fractures occurring.

[0022] Preferably, the wheels of the sulky are formed from the hollow composite material according to the first aspect.

[0023] In a preferred form of the first aspect, the polymeric inner may be formed from plastics, rubbers, nylons, or composites thereof. Preferably, the polymeric inner is formed from a plastic composite. Preferably the plastic composite comprises tubular polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

[0024] Preferably, the polymeric inner is formed by extrusion, injection moulding, blow moulding or foaming. Most preferably the polymeric inner is formed by extrusion techniques.

[0025] In a preferred form of the first aspect, the fibre composite outer material may be formed from aramid fibre materials (e.g. Kevlar), carbon fibre materials or composites thereof. Preferably, the fibre composite outer material is formed from carbon fibre.

[0026] In a preferred form, the fibre composite outer material comprises carbon fibre and epoxy resin. Preferably, the proportion of fibre within the fibre composite outer material comprises between about 20% w/w and 80% w/w fibre. In another preferred form, the proportion of fibre within the fibre composite outer materials comprises between about 40% w/w and 80% w/w fibre.

[0027] Preferably, the fibre composite outer material is formed by wrapping the plastic inner material with fibre composite material. The fibre composite outer material may be formed from one or more layers of fibre composite material. Preferably, the deck is formed from two layers of carbon fibre material. Preferably, the shafts and stays are formed from one layer of carbon fibre material.

[0028] In another aspect, the present invention relates to a method for the manufacture of a sulky chassis formed from a hollow composite material comprising the steps of; moulding a polymeric material into hollow tubular structures in the shape of a set of sulky chassis components, wrapping the hollow polymeric inner material with a fibre composite outer material, and assembling the sulky chassis components.

[0029] Preferred steps for the wrapping of the hollow polymeric inner material with a fibre composite outer material, may comprise the steps of wrapping the hollow polymeric inner material with carbon fibre material and the step of applying a polymeric material to the carbon fibre material. Preferred polymeric materials include epoxy resins.

[0030] Preferred methods for the manufacture of a sulky chassis, may include an additional step of heat shrinking the fibre composite outer material.

[0031] In a preferred form of the invention, the step of wrapping the hollow polymeric inner material with a fibre composite outer material may be repeated for components requiring greater stability, for instance, those bearing greater impact or weight or other stresses that may increase the likelihood of wearing or failure of the material.

[0032] The method for the manufacture of a sulky chassis may be utilised to manufacture a sulky chassis in accordance with other aspects of the invention.

[0033] In another form of the first aspect, the attachments or connections between the deck and the brace members, the brace members and the other locations on the chassis assembly, and the deck and the shafts is formed by a spigot member located within the hollow composite material. [0034] In a preferred form of the invention, the connection between the deck and the shafts is formed by a spigot. In a preferred form, the spigot is tapered at both ends. In another preferred form, the spigot is barbed at both ends.

[0035] In a preferred form of the invention, the attachments or connections between the deck and the brace members, and the brace members and the other locations on the chassis assembly are formed by a clamp comprising; an externally connecting clamp portion and an internally connecting spigot portion. Said externally connecting clamp portion preferably comprises two channels for receiving a bolt therethrough. Said internally connecting spigot portion preferably comprises two apertures for receiving a bolt therethrough.

[0036] Said externally connecting clamp portion preferably attaches to the external surface of the deck. Said internally connecting spigot portion is preferably tapered and/or barbed. Preferably, the internally connecting spigot portion engages with the internal cavity within the brace member.

[0037] In another form of the first aspect, the attachments or connections between the deck or the shafts and the stays is formed by a c-shaped clamp. Preferably, the forked portions of the stays comprise an aperture for receiving a bolt therethrough. Preferably, the clamp may be placed around the circumference of the deck or shaft and tightened by passing a bolt through an aperture at either end of the c-shaped clamp. Preferably, the bolt passes through one aperture of the clamp, through the aperture in the stay and through the other aperture of the clamp. The bolt may then be tightened to fix the stay with respect to the deck or shaft.

[0038] The configuration of the first aspect, advantageously, may also provide a chassis assembly enabling the replacement of individual chassis components.

[0039] One form of a mounting assembly for mounting a driver's seat, preferably comprises a pair of mounting supports each having an elongated aperture therethrough. The mounting supports are preferably fixed to the deck by a bolt clamp. Said clamp preferably comprises two portions further comprising at least one pair of apertures for receiving a bolt therethrough. Preferably, one portion engages with the external surface of the deck and the other portion engages with the external surface of the mounting support wherein two or more bolts pass through the apertures in the clamp portions and are tightened to secure the mounting supports to the deck.

[0040] A seat may be attached to the mounting supports by passing a bolt through the base of the seat then through the elongated apertures in the mounting supports, wherein the seat may be fixed by tightening a wingnut or similar at the end of the bolt. The position of the seat on the mounting support may be adjusted by moving the bolts to a desired position along the mounting support apertures. The position of the seat may be adjusted to accommodate the driver's leg length or other comfort preference.

[0041] Another form of a mounting assembly for mounting a driver's seat, preferably comprises a sliding mechanism which allows the positions of the driver's seat to be adjusted. The sliding mechanism preferably comprises a pair of notched rails contained substantially within a pair of sliders. A seat mounting plate may be fixed to the pair of sliders. The notched rails may be fixed to a pair of seat mounting supports, in turn, fixed to the pair of slider mounts. The slider mounts may be fixed to the deck. The position of the seat may be adjusted by sliding the seat along the length of the notched rails. The desired position of the seat may be fixed in place by locking the seat's position at one of the notches on the sliding mechanism, preferably by passing a pin through an aperture in the sliders and securing the pin in place.

[0042] Preferably, a sulky chassis assembly according to the invention further comprises a seat. The seat may be moulded, scalloped or high backed to accommodate drivers of varying stature or with varying comfort needs. The seat may be formed from moulded plastic or upholstered from lightweight materials.

[0043] Preferably, the spigots, clamps or mounting support may be formed from metal or metal alloys. These may include stainless steel, titanium or billet aluminium. [0044] In one form of the invention the sulky chassis assembly may be packaged in individual components together with instructions for their assembly. The sulky chassis according to the invention is made in several parts which may be readily provided in flat pack form for ease of transportation. While this facilitates the transportation of new products being shipped to customers, the simplicity of the clamps and spigot components also facilitates the disassembly and flat packing of component parts by chassis owners for travel to racing events and the like.

[0045] In a second aspect, the present invention relates to a sulky mount assembly for mounting a sulky shaft to an animal's tack comprising; a ball assembly having a sulky shaft coupling at one end and one or more ball portions for engaging with a socket to form a ball and socket joint, a socket assembly having a pair of socket portions and one or more closures for joining the pair of socket portions to form a cavity therebetween, and a loop or fastener for securing the sulky mount assembly to the animal's tack.

[0046] The sulky chassis assembly of the first aspect may be mounted to an animal using conventional sulky mount assemblies known in the art, for instance the length adjustable disc and clasp assemblies commonly used. However, shortcomings of conventional sulky mount assemblies are readily apparent to drivers of animal sulkies as shaft couplings often vibrate and rattle about within the coupling tethered to the animal, in turn, causing premature wearing of couplings or the accidental release of the couple if sufficient jolting occurs during riding.

[0047] Preferably, the sulky mount assembly of the second aspect may be used to tether the sulky chassis assembly of the first aspect to the animal.

[0048] In a preferred form of the second aspect, the one or more closures comprise at least one eyelet and one pin. Preferably, a removable pin is provided which can be removably placed within a pair of eyelets. Further, a fixed pin may also be provided to form a hinge between the fixed pin and a pair of eyelets. Alternatively, a closure may be formed by one of many alternative hinging mechanisms known in the art. [0049] Suitable loops or fasteners according to the second aspect may include buckles, hooks, buttons, zippers, clips and the like.

[0050] Preferably, the sulky mount assembly may be formed from metal or metal alloys. These may include, steel, chrome alloy, stainless steel, titanium or billet aluminium.

[0051] The invention now will be described with reference to the accompanying drawings together with the Examples and the Description of Embodiments. The invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the examples or embodiments described herein. They are provided by way of illustration only such that this disclosure will be thorough, complete and will convey the full scope and breadth of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0052] Figure 1 provides a side view of a sulky chassis assembly according to the present invention.

[0053] Figure 2 provides a sectional view of the material for forming the structural members of a sulky chassis assembly according to the invention.

[0054] Figure 3 provides an exploded top view of the structural members of a sulky chassis assembly according to the invention.

[0055] Figure 4 provides an exploded side view of the structural members of a sulky chassis assembly according to the invention.

[0056] Figure 5 shows a single bolt clamp for use in a chassis assembly according to the invention. [0057] Figure 6a to 6c show a perspective view of a double bolt clamp for use in a chassis assembly according to the invention.

[0058] Figures 7a to 7d show a perspective view of a spigot clamp for use in a chassis assembly according to the invention.

[0059] Figure 8 shows a spigot for use in a chassis assembly according to the invention.

[0060] Figure 9 provides a side view of an assembled sulky showing the placement of each coupling of a sulky chassis assembly according to the invention.

[0061] Figure 10 shows a top view of an assembled sulky according to the invention.

[0062] Figure 11 provides a top sectional view of an assembled sulky according to the invention.

[0063] Figure 12a to 12h provides a perspective view of an adjustable seat mounting arrangement for a sulky assembly according to the invention. Figure 12a provides an exploded view of the mounting arrangement and Figures 12b to 12g illustrate each component of the mounting arrangement.

[0064] Figure 13a and 13b show a stirrup clamp for a sulky assembly according to the invention in a retracted position, 13a, and an extended position, 13b.

[0065] Figure 14 shows the attachment points for protective mesh for a sulky assembly according to the invention.

[0066] Figure 15 provides a side view of a shaft attachment for a conventional sulky mount assembly.

[0067] Figure 16a and 16b provides a side view, 16a, and a perspective view, 16b, of an animal coupling for a conventional sulky mount assembly. [0068] Figure 17 provides a side view of a shaft attachment for a sulky mount assembly according to the invention.

[0069] Figures 18a and 18b provide a side view of an animal coupling for a sulky mount assembly according to the invention in a closed position, 18a, and in an open position, 18b.

[0070] Several embodiments of the invention are described in the following examples.

EXAMPLES

[0071] Referring to Figure 1, illustrated at 100 is the general configuration of a sulky according to the invention. The chassis assembly of the sulky 100 generally comprises a deck 110, a pair of shafts 120 extending from the deck, a pair of wheel stays 140 maintaining a pair of wheels 150 beneath and at either side of the deck, and a seat 160 positioned upon and supported by the deck.

[0072] Figure 2 illustrates the construction of the structural members of the sulky chassis assembly. Structural members are formed from a hollow cylindrical composite material comprising a plastic inner core, in the present embodiment this inner core is formed from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and an outer material formed from a high strength fibrous materials, in the present embodiment the outer material is formed from approximately 40% w/v to approximately 80% w/w carbon fibre in epoxy resin.

[0073] The hollow inner tube is formed using extrusion techniques to obtain a PVC tubular support of the desired diameter. For certain structural components, particularly the deck and the shaft, the necessary curves and bends are formed in the extruded PVC prior to setting or curing to avoid loss of structural integrity from reheating the PVC.

[0074] The carbon fibre outer layer is formed by wrapping the inner PVC tube in woven carbon fibre sheets. The first layer of woven carbon fibre is maintained in place around the circumference of the inner tube by tightly stitching the material using carbon fibre twill. Once the inner core is wrapped, an epoxy resin solution comprising lg hardener to every 30g epoxy resin is applied to the woven carbon fibre material in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions (Huntsman International LLC, Araldite Kit K3600). The resin is brushed on until the woven carbon fibre material is soaked but not dripping. The quantity of resin applied must avoid incorporating air bubbles within the soaked carbon fibre material. The component is placed in a vacuum bag and shrink cured by heating to 90°C for four hours.

[0075] To provide additional strength to the load bearing deck, the deck is wrapped twice in carbon fibre material whereas the other components, i.e. the shafts, the brace members and the stays are only wrapped once. For twice wrapped components, an additional strip of carbon fibre material is placed at the bends of the component, and a carbon fibre braided sleeve is placed over the shrink cured component. The component is wrapped in woven carbon fibre sheeting again and stitched in place with carbon fibre twill. The component is again soaked in epoxy resin as described above, it is then also shrink cured for a second time as above.

[0076] Figure 3 provides an exploded top view of the structural members of the sulky chassis assembly. These include a u-shaped deck 110, two brace portions 170 providing additional support to the load bearing deck, and two shafts 120, all formed from the hollow cylindrical PVC/carbon fibre composite material in accordance with the wrapping technique described above.

[0077] Figure 4 provides an exploded side view of the structural members of the sulky chassis assembly. In additional to deck 110 and shafts 120, wheel stays 140 are also formed from the hollow tubular PVC/carbon fibre composite material as described above. Wheel stays 140 are comprised of two stay members, the deck stay member 180, and the shaft stay member 190. Each comprises an aperture at one end for threading through the wheel axle (shown in Figure 1) and an aperture at the opposite end for fixing the stay to the deck and shafts. [0078] Figures 5 to 7 illustrate a series of clamp couplings, and figures 7 and 8 illustrate a series of spigot couplings for fitting together the structural members of the sulky chassis assembly. All couplings and spigots are formed from cast moulded billet aluminium.

[0079] Figure 5 illustrates a single bolt clamp coupling 200, and figures 6a to 6c illustrate a double bolt clamp coupling 201. The single bolt clamp coupling comprises a c-shaped body 202, for wrapping around a portion of the chassis, and an aperture 203 through either end of the clamp, for receiving a bolt therethrough. The single bolt clamp coupling 200 is designed to receive the chassis around the c-shaped body of the clamp 202 where it may be tightened by passing a bolt through the apertures shown at 203, and tightening the bolt.

[0080] Certain chassis components may be joined perpendicularly or at an angle using single bolt clamp coupling 200 by wrapping the c-shaped body around one chassis component and placing a second pre-drilled chassis component between the ends of the coupling, which may be secured in place by passing a bolt through the apertures 203 and the corresponding aperture in the second chassis component. The join may be secured and fixed by tightening the bolt (not shown).

[0081] The double bolt clamp coupling 201 shown in figure 6a provides a more secure method of fixing chassis components which may telescope, one within another. Once a telescoping portion is placed within a chassis component, upper clamp portion 204 and lower clamp portion 205 may be placed around the two telescoping areas and secured by placing a bolt through apertures 206. The bolt (not shown) may be tightened to secure the join.

[0082] Figure 9 provides a side view of the assembled sulky showing the placement of each coupling for connecting the structural members of the sulky chassis assembly. Deck stay member 180 and shaft stay member 190 are shown threaded through the wheel axle to form the wheel stay 140. Each also comprises an aperture formed through the stay member to allow the bolt portion of single bolt clamp coupling 200 to pass therethrough. Single bolt clamp coupling 200 is shown in greater detail in figure 5, showing the aperture through which the bolt portion of the clamp passes. The clamp portion of a single bolt clamp coupling 200 is placed around the circumference of the shaft 120 and around the circumference of the deck 110 to secure the shaft stay member 190 and the deck stay member 180 thereto.

[0083] Figure 10 shows a top view of the assembled sulky according to the invention. Brace portions 170 are fitted to the u-shaped deck 110 by spigot clamp 210, shown in greater detail in figure 7. Figures 7a to 7d provide a perspective view of spigot clamp 210 comprising a spigot portion 220, spigot receiver 221 and clasp portion 230. The spigot portion is bolted to the spigot receiver 221 prior to fitting to the chassis. The u-shaped deck piece 110 is placed between the spigot portion 220 and clasp portion 230 by threading a bolt (not shown) through the apertures 222 and 224, shown in figures 7c and 7d, and then tightening the bolt. The end of spigot portion 220 slides within the brace portion to grip and secure the brace portion at each end.

[0084] Double bolt clamp coupling 201 is fitted around the outer surface of the brace portion 170 to further secure the telescoping spigot portion 220 within the brace portion. Bolts are threaded through apertures 206 to tighten the double bolt clamp coupling and secure the brace portion and the spigot portion 220.

[0085] Figure 11 provides a top sectional view of the assembled sulky according to the invention. The internal hollow spaces of the structural members of the sulky chassis assembly can be seen. The angle and protrusion of spigot clamps 210 within the brace portions 170 are shown in shading. Spigot portion 240 is placed within the u-shaped deck 110 and the shafts 120 to join the shafts with the deck. Figure 8 illustrates the spigot 240 in more detail. Each end of the spigot is tapered and barbed to aid the placement of the spigot within hollow opening and to ensure that the spigot maintains a tight fit. The method of fabrication of the structural members of the sulky chassis assembly aid the tight fit of the spigot. The inner PVC core will allow a small mount to compression when resistance is applied during the fitting of the spigot. This provides a very tight fit when resistance is released after placing the spigot in the desired position. [0086] Figure 12a illustrates the adjustable seat mounting arrangement. A pair of seat mounting supports 250 (also shown in figure 12b) are fixed to a flattened portion of the deck 110 by passing two pairs of bolts through the seat mounting supports and through apertures in the deck (not shown). A pair of slider mounts 252 (also shown in figure 12a) are bolted at their base to the pair of seat mounting supports 250.

[0087] Figure 12a illustrates the placement of a pair of notched rails 254, shown in greater detail in figure 12d, bolted to the pair of slider mounts 252. The notched rails 254 enable the seat to slide across the length of the slider mounts 252 and lock in place at a desired position. Sliding and locking is achieved by engagement of the notched rails 254 with a corresponding pair of sliders 256 (shown in figure 12e). Figures 12f and 12g illustrate the sliding engagement of the sliders 256 along the span of the notched rails 254. Adjustment of the driver's distance from the front end of the sulky (and therefore the animal) is achieved by adjusting the position of the sliders 256 along the pair of notched rails, as shown in figures 12f and 12g.

[0088] A seat mounting plate 270 is illustrated in figure 12h. A driver's seat may be fixed to the seat mounting plate 270 which is in turn bolted to each of the sliders 256. The seat position can thereby slide along the length of the notched rails 254 and become locked into a desired position. The desired position of the seat is fixed in place by locking the seat's position at one pair of corresponding notches on the notched rail, by passing a pin through a pair of corresponding apertures in the sliders and then securing the pin in place.

[0089] A seat can also be directly mounted upon the deck by fixing a seat mounting plate 270 to the pair of seat supports 250. The seat mounting plate 270 is fixed to the seat such that the seat is fixed to the deck at a single location and is not easily adjustable.

[0090] Figure 13a and 13b provide an illustration of a stirrup clamp 280 in a retracted position 13a and an extended position 13b. The stirrup clamp 280 is placed around the circumference of a structural member of the sulky chassis assembly at a height suited to the driver. The stirrup clamp 280 is tightened to the chassis assembly by threading tightening clip 290 and secured by folding the tightening clip into the closed position as illustrated. The stirrup clamp can then simply be released by releasing the tightening clip. The foot peg 300 can be extended by releasing the foot peg at pivoting hinge 310. When the stirrup is not required, the foot peg 300 can simply be retracted without needing to remove the stirrup clamp altogether.

[0091] Figure 14 illustrates attachment points for protective mesh 320. The protective mesh can be mounted at spigot clamp points or at single bolt clamp points. Alternatively, additional single bolts clamps can be mounted to a structural member of the sulky chassis assembly to form an attachment point for the protective mesh.

[0092] The sulky may be mounted to an animal using one of the following assemblies. The first is shown in figure 15 which provides a side view of the shaft attachment of a

conventional sulky mount assembly. The shaft attachment is secured within the hollow cavity of the shaft by engaging the spigot portion 322 of the shaft attachment within the cavity. The spigot portion may be coated in an adhesive suitable for bonding PVC and carbon fibre prior to insertion within the cavity. The shaft attachment also comprises a series of protruding discs 324 which engage with a corresponding animal coupling shown in figure 16a and 16b. The discs are spaced at an even distance to allow for the optional extension of the length of the shaft to accommodate individual animals of varying heights and sizes.

[0093] Figure 16a and 16b provides a side view of an animal coupling that engages with the shaft attachment illustrated in figure 15. The animal coupling provides a clip housing 326 and a spring loaded resilient closure 328 for maintaining a disc of the shaft attachment on either side of the resilient closure. The clip housing provides two openings 330 for threading a leather strap (or similar) 332 from an animal's saddle therethrough.

[0094] The second assembly for mounting the sulky to an animal is shown in figure 17. Figure 17 provides a side view of an alternative shaft attachment of a sulky mount assembly. Engagement of the shaft attachment with the shaft is similar to conventional means; the shaft attachment is secured within the hollow cavity of the shaft by engaging the spigot portion 334 of the shaft attachment within the cavity. The spigot portion may be coated in an adhesive suitable for bonding PVC and carbon fibre prior to insertion within the cavity. The shaft attachment also comprises a series of protruding balls 336 which engage with the socket joint of a corresponding animal coupling shown in figure 18a and 18b. The balls are spaced at an even distance to allow for the optional extension of the length of the shaft to accommodate individual animals of varying heights and sizes.

[0095] Figure 18a and 18b provides a side view of an animal coupling that engages with the shaft attachment illustrated in figure 17 with figure 18a showing the coupling in a closed position and figure 18b showing the coupling in an open position. The animal coupling comprises a pair of socket couplings 338 with each socket coupling comprising a pair of eyelets 340 for receiving a pin 342 therethrough. Each socket coupling is scalloped 344 to allow the shaft attachment to pass therethrough. The animal coupling includes a loop 346 for threading a leather strap (or similar) from an animal's saddle therethrough.

[0096] Throughout this specification the word "comprise", or variations such as "comprises" or "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated element, integer or step, or group of elements, integers or steps, but not the exclusion of any other element, integer or step, or group of elements, integers or steps.

[0097] All publications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated by reference. Any discussion of documents, acts, materials, devices, articles or the like which has been included in the present specification is solely for the purpose of providing a context for the present invention. It is not to be taken as an admission that any or all of these matters form part of the prior art base or were common general knowledge in the field relevant to the present invention as it existed in Australia or elsewhere before the priority date of each claim of this application.

[0098] While the invention has been described above in terms of specific embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to these disclosed embodiments. Upon reading the teachings of this disclosure many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to the mind of those skilled in the art to which this invention pertains, and which are intended to be and are covered by both this disclosure and the appended claims.

[0099] It is indeed intended that the scope of the invention should be determined by proper interpretation and construction of the appended claims and their legal equivalents, as understood by those skilled in the art relying upon the disclosure in this specification and the attached drawings.