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Title:
TIRE TRACTION DEVICES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/164099
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Tire traction devices for various vehicles are described. Traction devices may comprise a tire traction assembly configured to be mounted on a tire, a pair of brackets configured to substantially straddle the sidewalls of the tire, and an attachment mechanism comprising first and second mating elements attached to opposite brackets, the attachment mechanism configured to releasably secure a traction assembly to the tire from the outward facing side of a vehicle on which the tire is mounted. Traction devices may optionally include a plurality of elastomeric tensioners positioned about the traction assembly, and/or one or more support cables configured to align the traction assembly.

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Inventors:
MARTIN, David (P.O. Box 8182, Bend, Oregon, 97708, US)
Application Number:
US2015/025377
Publication Date:
October 29, 2015
Filing Date:
April 10, 2015
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MARTIN, David (P.O. Box 8182, Bend, Oregon, 97708, US)
International Classes:
B60C27/00; B60B15/18; B60C27/02; B60C27/04; B60C27/06; B60C27/10
Domestic Patent References:
WO2004035332A12004-04-29
WO2013144461A12013-10-03
Foreign References:
AT324864B1975-09-25
US20030056868A12003-03-27
DE2013379B21973-11-15
US20100252160A12010-10-07
US4055210A1977-10-25
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Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A device comprising:

a tire traction assembly configured to be mounted on a tire, two brackets which are securely attached to ends of the tire traction assembly,

a toothed member which is securely attached to one bracket, and a ratchet mechanism which is securely attached to the other bracket, and which is configured to receive the toothed member and thereby releasably secure the tire traction assembly around the tire.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein the tire traction assembly comprises a plurality of cables.

3. The device of claim 2 wherein the tire traction assembly comprises an inner and an outer attachment cable, an inner and an outer support cable, and a plurality of traction cables connected to the support cables.

4. The device of claim 2 wherein ends of the cables are attached to brackets by attachment mechanisms that allow pivoting movement between the attachment mechanisms and brackets.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein the brackets are substantially U-shaped.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein the brackets are substantially rigid.

7. The device of claim 6 wherein the toothed member and ratchet mechanism are bolted to the brackets.

8. The device of claim 7 wherein the toothed member and ratchet mechanism are bolted with a two-bolt arrangement that allows pivoting of the toothed member and ratchet mechanism relative to the brackets.

9. The device of claim 1 wherein the toothed member is elongated and the ratchet mechanism comprises a sleeve that receives at a least a portion of the toothed member.

10. The device of claim 1 wherein the toothed member is substantially rigid. 11. The device of claim 6, wherein the brackets are constructed of a hardened steel alloy.

12. The device of claim 6, wherein the brackets are constructed of formed/stamped metal.

13. The device of claim 1, wherein the ratchet mechanism comprises a ratcheting lever and a locking lever.

14. The device of claim 3, wherein the attachment cables are constructed of stainless steel alloy cable.

15. The device of claim 3, wherein the support cables are constructed of stainless steel alloy cable. 16. The device of claim 3, wherein the traction cables are spaced at uniform intervals between the brackets.

17. The device of claim 1 wherein road-contacting surfaces of the brackets have traction-imparting features.

18. The device of claim 1 wherein the tire traction device is, in use, secured to the tire solely by the engagement of the ratchet mechanism and toothed member.

19. A device comprising :

a tire traction assembly configured to be mounted on a tire; a pair of brackets attached to opposite ends of the tire traction assembly, the brackets configured to substantially straddle the sidewalls of the tire; and an attachment mechanism comprising first and second mating elements attached to opposite brackets, the mating elements configured to releasably secure the device to the tire from the outward facing side of a vehicle on which the tire is mounted.

20. The device of claim 19 wherein the first mating element comprises a ratchet mechanism and the second mating element comprises a toothed member.

21. A device comprising :

a tire traction assembly having a plurality of elastomeric tensioners positioned about the traction assembly, the elastomeric tensioners each configured to substantially maintain separation between at least two points of the traction assembly.

22. The device of claim 21 wherein the separation between the at least two points approximately equals a distance defined by the length of the elastomeric tensioner when in an unloaded position.

23. A tire traction assembly configured to be mounted on a tire, the tire traction assembly comprising:

a pair of tension cables configured to align in a substantially concentric orientation about opposite sidewalls of the tire, defining a first radius;

a plurality of traction cables attached at opposite ends to the tension cables, the traction cables configured to traverse the rolling surface of the tire; and

one or more support cables configured to align in a substantially concentric orientation about a second radius at least greater than the first radius, the support cables being securely attached to one or more of the traction cables.

24. The tire traction device of claim 23, wherein the second radius is approximately equal to the outer radius of the tire to which the traction assembly is to be mounted.

25. A method of providing traction to a tire, the method comprising:

positioning a tire traction assembly around a tire, the tire traction assembly being securely attached at its ends to two brackets, and engaging a toothed member which is securely attached to one bracket with a ratchet mechanism which is securely attached to the other bracket, so that the ratchet mechanism receives the toothed member and thereby releasably secures the tire traction assembly around the tire.

26. The method of claim 21 further comprising positioning the brackets such that the ratchet mechanism and toothed member face outwardly from a vehicle on which the tire is mounted.

Description:
Tire Traction Devices

BACKGROUND

Snow, ice, freezing rain, and the like can make road surfaces slippery and dangerous for motorists to successfully navigate. Tire traction devices, such as tire chains or cables, can be mounted to the tires of a vehicle to improve traction and increase safety during these conditions. The process of mounting such traction devices to the tires of a vehicle may be time-consuming, cumbersome, and dangerous. It would be advantageous to provide tire traction devices which address these and other issues.

SUMMARY

A summary of certain embodiments disclosed herein is set forth below. It should be understood that these aspects are presented merely to provide the reader with a brief summary of these certain embodiments and that these aspects are not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure.

Generally, the present disclosure relates to tire traction devices comprising a tire traction assembly configured to be mounted on a tire and more specifically, the present disclosure relates to tire traction devices comprising a tire traction assembly that is releasably secured around a tire via an attachment assembly comprising a pair of brackets and an attachment mechanism securely attached to the brackets and positioned about the outward facing sidewall of the tire. In accordance with the present disclosure, traction devices may be configured such that a user may mount the traction device to the tire from the outward facing side of a vehicle to which the tire is mounted, generally without having to reach around to the inward facing side of the tire to secure the traction device.

Traction devices in accordance with the present disclosure feature a tire traction assembly configured to be mounted on a tire; a pair of brackets attached to opposite ends of the tire traction assembly, the brackets configured to substantially straddle the sidewalls of the tire; and an attachment mechanism comprising first and second mating elements attached to opposite brackets, the mating elements configured to releasably secure the device to the tire from the outward facing side of a vehicle on which the tire is mounted. In some embodiments, the first mating element comprises a ratchet mechanism and the second mating element comprises a toothed member.

In some embodiments, traction devices in accordance with the present disclosure feature a tire traction assembly having a plurality of elastomeric tensioners positioned about the traction assembly, the elastomeric tensioners each configured to substantially maintain separation between at least two points of the traction assembly by a distance defined by the length of the elastomeric tensioner when in an unloaded position.

In some embodiments, traction devices in accordance with the present disclosure feature a tire traction assembly comprising a pair of tension cables configured to align in a substantially concentric orientation about opposite sidewalls of the tire, defining a first radius; a plurality of traction cables attached at opposite ends to the tension cables, the traction cables configured to traverse the rolling surface of the tire; and one or more support cables configured to align in a substantially concentric orientation about a second radius at least greater than the first radius, the support cables being securely attached to one or more of the traction cables. In some embodiments, the second radius is approximately equal to the outer radius of the tire to which the traction assembly is to be mounted.

Additionally, the present disclosure provides methods of providing traction to a tire. In some embodiments, a tire traction assembly is positioned around a tire, the tire traction assembly being securely attached at its ends to two brackets, and a toothed member which is securely attached to one bracket is engaged with a ratchet mechanism which is securely attached to the other bracket, so that the ratchet mechanism receives the toothed member and thereby releasably secures the tire traction assembly around the tire. The brackets may be positioned such that the ratchet mechanism and toothed member face outwardly from a vehicle on which the tire is mounted, so as to facilitate installation and removal. The foregoing summary may contain simplifications, generalizations, inclusions, and/or omissions of detail; consequently, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the summary is illustrative only and is not intended to be in any way limiting. In addition to the illustrative aspects, embodiments, and features described above, further aspects, embodiments, and features will become apparent by reference to the drawings, claims, and the following detailed description.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a traction device mounted on a tire.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the embodiment of a traction device shown in FIG. 1, viewed from the inward facing side.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the embodiment of a traction device shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, shown as if mounted on a tire, but with the tire omitted for clarity. FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one embodiment of an attachment assembly portion of a traction device.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the embodiment of an attachment assembly portion of a traction device shown in FIG. 4, viewed from the inward facing side.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of one embodiment of an attachment mechanism portion of a traction device.

FIG. 7 is a perspective cross-sectional view of one embodiment of an attachment mechanism, with a toothed member partially inserted into a ratchet mechanism. FIG. 8 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the linkage used in certain embodiments of a traction device to fasten a traction assembly to an attachment assembly.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the linkage used in certain embodiments of a traction device to fasten a traction assembly to an attachment assembly.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a traction device mounted on a tire.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the embodiment of a traction device shown in FIG. 10, shown as if mounted on a tire, but with the tire omitted for clarity.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of an attachment assembly portion of a traction device.

FIG. 13 is a perspective, exploded view, depicting means for attaching an elastomeric tensioner to a traction device. FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the attachment assembly portion of a traction device according to another embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

In the following detailed description of exemplary embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof. The illustrative embodiments described herein, the drawings, and the claims are not meant to be limiting. Other embodiments may be utilized, and other changes may be made, without departing from the spirit or scope of the present disclosure. The following detailed description of exemplary embodiments is therefore not to be taken in a limiting sense, and it is intended that other embodiments are within the scope of the present disclosure. The claimed subject matter is defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

The present disclosure relates generally to traction devices to be mounted on tires, and more specifically, the present disclosure relates to tire traction devices that are releasably attached only from the outward facing side of a vehicle on which the tire is mounted. In some embodiments, the traction device may be mounted on a tire without the need to reach around to the inward facing side of the tire to secure the traction device. In some embodiments a tire traction assembly is releasably secured around a tire via an attachment assembly comprising a pair of brackets and an attachment mechanism securely attached to the brackets and positioned about the outward facing sidewall of the tire. The traction devices disclosed herein improve traction and allow for enhanced vehicular navigation over snow, ice, mud, and other slippery driving surfaces or terrain. The traction devices may be applied to any one or more tires. Generally, the tractions devices would be applied to at least two tires, but could be applied to more tires, e.g., four tires or more, depending on the vehicle, the road conditions, and the amount of additional traction needed.

Generally, conventional tractions devices, such as tire chains or cables (collectively referred to herein as "conventional chains"), can be difficult to properly affix to a tire. For example, with the roll-on method for mounting conventional chains, the chain is draped over the top of the wheel, and then the vehicle gradually drives forward, with the tire rolling upon a certain length of the chain, before opposite ends of the chain are attached together around the circumference of the tire. Alternatively, conventional chains may be laid out on the ground, ensuring for proper alignment with the tires of the vehicle, then gradually driving the vehicle on top of the chains, generally to a middle portion, and then wrapping the chains up over the tire and affixing the ends together. The roll-on method requires multiple stops of the vehicle, and particularly during inclement weather or upon rough or unimproved terrain, users may experience difficulty in properly aligning conventional chains and advancing the vehicle forward to the proper mounting position. Many users will appreciate the convenience of mounting conventional chains with one-stop of the vehicle, and without the added step of advancing the vehicle forward over a length of the chain. This one-stop mounting, however, tends to result in inadequate mounting of conventional chains, such as an inordinate chain gap across the portion of the tire contracting the ground during mounting, which can result in a section of tire having inadequate traction, misalignment or inadequate chain tension, which can result in conventional chains becoming partially or fully detached from the tire.

With conventional chains, frequently a user must reach to the inward facing side of the tire to secure the chain ends together. This process is time consuming, cumbersome, and frequently dirty. Especially in inclement weather or upon unimproved terrain, mounting conventional chains is usually not an enjoyable task. It can be difficult and uncomfortable for a user to reach around a tire, which may be wet, dirty, and covered with snow and ice, mud, etc. From an ergonomic standpoint, in order to install conventional chains, a user may need to kneel or lay on the ground in order to reach the attachment mechanisms on either side of the tire. In addition, the user is at great personal risk of getting injured by a passing motorist when applying conventional chains to a vehicle. These and other challenges have led to users that are unwilling or unable to properly mount conventional chains.

Other devices have been developed to replace conventional chains yet provide similar benefits of added traction. For example, other devices may consist of a central hub and a plurality of arms with a traction surface that extend outwardly from the hub and wrap around the tire. These devices have their own set of disadvantages. For example, the traction arms must be sufficiently thick to provide durability, which results in a rough driving experience relative to conventional chains which may be constructed with relatively narrow diameter. These and other problems concerning conventional chains and other traction devices represent long-felt yet unmet needs. Therefore, solutions to the aforementioned problems are desirable.

Exemplary embodiments The present disclosure provides for tire traction devices comprising a tire traction assembly that are easy for a user to quickly and securely mount to the tires of a vehicle, and more specifically, the present disclosure provides for tire traction devices comprising a traction assembly that is releasably secured around the tire via an attachment mechanism positioned about the outward facing sidewall of the tire. In some embodiments, a traction device is configured such that a user may mount the traction device to the tire without having to reach around to the inward facing side of the tire to secure the traction device. Traction devices in accordance with the present disclosure may be configured to facilitate one-stop mounting. Referring to FIGs. 1 and 2, one embodiment of a traction device in accordance with the present disclosure is shown, as mounted on a tire. In accordance with the present disclosure, a traction device comprises a traction assembly 100 which wraps substantially around a tire 102 and is releasably secured to the tire via an attachment assembly 104, the attachment assembly comprising a pair of brackets 106, 108, configured to substantially straddle the traction surface and sidewalls of the tire, and an attachment mechanism 110 securely attached to the brackets 106, 108, and configured to releasably secure the traction device to a tire. As shown, the attachment mechanism is positioned about the outward facing sidewall of the tire. In some embodiments, a traction device may be additionally releasably secured by an attachment mechanism positioned about the inward facing sidewall of the tire; however, as shown, this feature is omitted, such that a user may mount the traction device to a tire without having to reach around to the inward facing side of the tire.

Referring to FIG. 3, one embodiment of a traction device is shown, as if mounted on a tire, but with the tire omitted for clarity. The traction assembly 100 may comprise a plurality of cables, chains, combinations of cables and chains, or the like. The traction assembly 100 is secured to a tire via an attachment assembly 104 comprising a pair of brackets 106, 108, and an attachment mechanism 110. As shown, the attachment mechanism is positioned about the outward facing sidewall of the tire, to facilitate installation and removal. The traction assembly 100 comprises an inner attachment cable 302 and an outer attachment cable 304, each configured to extend in a substantially concentric manner about the respective inner and outer sidewalls of the tire, thus defining a radius, both of which attachment cables are attached at their ends to the attachment assembly 104, for example, at the brackets 106, 108.

Optionally, the traction assembly 100 further comprises an inner support cable 312 and an outer support cable 314, provided, for example, to help align the traction assembly about the tire. Support cables 312, 314 may be positioned to extend in a substantially concentric manner, thus defining a radius, for example, a radius at least greater than the radius defined by the tension cables 302, 304. As shown, the radius defined by support cables 312, 314 is approximately equal to the outer radius of the tire to which the traction assembly is to be mounted.

The traction assembly 100 further comprises a plurality of traction cables 316, spaced for example, at substantially uniform intervals, between the brackets 106, 108. The traction cables are configured to extend from the inner attachment cables 302, to the optional inner support cable 312, across the rolling surface of the tire, to the optional outer support cable 314, and to the outer attachment cable 304, with a generally perpendicular orientation relative to the attachment cables and the support cables.

In some embodiments, the traction assembly 100 further comprises a plurality of traction members 318 comprising a plurality of traction elements (not shown) having a textured surface or other traction-imparting features configured to improve tire traction. Traction-imparting features may include any features known in the art. In some embodiments, the traction members 318 may be affixed to a plurality of traction cables 316, such as by threading the traction cables through the traction members or by crimping the traction members to the traction cables, etc. In other embodiments, the traction cables 316 are configured to provide a textured surface or other traction-imparting features sufficient to serve the purpose of the traction members or the traction elements, in which case additional traction members may not be provided, other than the textured surface or traction-imparting features of the traction cables. In yet other embodiments, both the traction members 318 and the traction cables 316 may be configured to provide traction- imparting features. In some embodiments, the configuration of traction cables 316 may differ as between the portion traversing the rolling surface of a tire and the portions traversing the sidewalls of a tire; for example, traction imparting features may be provided only across a subsection of traction cables 316, e.g., across the subsection which substantially comprises the portion intended to traverse the rolling surface of the tire. As used herein, references to the traction members 318 also means and includes the plurality of traction elements and/or the traction cables 316, either together or in the alternative.

In some embodiments, the relative position of the traction cables 316 are, in part, maintained by a plurality of optional tensioners 320. The tensioners may comprise elastomeric tensioners, made from elastomeric material, although various alternative forms of tensioners may be used, for example, those which are capable of returning to their substantially original shape when a tension force is removed. In some embodiments, a plurality of tensioners 320 are attached at their ends to segments of tension cables 302, 304. In some embodiments, attachment cables 302, 304 are threaded through the plurality of tensioners 320. In some embodiments, the relative position of the traction cables 316 are, in part, further maintained by optional support cables, 312, 314, which may be connected to the traction cables by cable crimps, for example as shown in FIG. 11. As shown, the traction cables 316 are spaced at substantially uniform intervals between the brackets 106, 108.

The plurality of cables making up the traction assembly 100 may be constructed of stainless steel alloy cable or other suitable materials. The traction elements may be constructed of hardened steel alloy or other suitable materials. Other elements may be constructed of stainless steel alloy or hardened steel, or other suitable materials.

Referring to FIG. 4, one embodiment of an attachment assembly 104 is shown. The attachment assembly 104 comprises brackets 106, 108, which are substantially rigid and are generally U-shaped. The brackets 106, 108 each comprise a tread plate 400 configured to contact the ground/road on one side and the rolling surface of a tire on the other side, and side surfaces 402, configured such that the brackets 106, 108 wrap across the rolling surface and at least partially around opposite sidewalls of a tire 102, thereby substantially straddling the sidewalls of the tire.

The dimensions of the brackets 106, 108 may be configured to receive one or more tire sizes. For example, the inner width between a pair of facing side surfaces 402 may be dimensioned slightly wider than the width of the tire, so as to enable the brackets 106, 108 to securely straddle the sidewalls of the tire, yet also allow the tire to flex or deform, e.g., while bearing the weight of the vehicle, without exerting undue force on the side surfaces 402. Typically, inner width between a pair of facing side surfaces 402 will be between aboutl/8 of one inch to about 1 inches wider than the width of a tire suitable for mounting, and preferably about ¼ of one inch to about ¾ of one inch, and more preferably about ½ inch.

Brackets 106, 108 may be constructed from a hardened steel alloy or other suitable material that has sufficient strength to resist forces and sufficient hardness to resist friction or wearing from the driving surface. Brackets may be manufactured via a formed/stamped metal process or other manufacturing processes known in the art.

Attachment cables 302, 304 are attached to brackets 106, 108, respectively, each via linkage 406, 408 such as a clevis and pin linkage discussed in more detail below. The linkage 406, 408 is secured generally about each end of the attachment cables on one end and to the side surface 402 of the brackets on the other end. Linkages 406, 408 may be configured in a multitude of fashions, such as e.g., with a clevis configured to attach to the linkage to bracket 106 or 108, and/or a slot and keyhole configured to receive attachment cable 302, 304, as discussed in more detail below.

Respective ends of the attachment mechanism 110 are attached to opposite brackets 106, 108. In some embodiments, the attachment mechanism is positioned about the outward facing sidewall of the tire 102, and configured such that a user may mount the traction device to the tire without having to reach around to the inward facing side of the tire. When installed on a tire, the attachment mechanism 104 provides a releasably secure connection with substantial rigidity to withstand forces during operation, e.g., lateral, radial, rotational, and torsional forces. In some embodiments, one or both portions of the attachment mechanism are pivotably attached to bracket 306 and/or 308, respectively, to accommodate a range of tire circumferences and/or to help align the respective portions of the attachment mechanism during installation, while maintaining substantial rigidity. This pivotable attachment can be accomplished, for example, as shown in FIG. 5, by attaching the portion(s) of the attachment mechanism desired to be pivotable to the bracket(s) at two connection points, 502 and 504, the first connection point 502 defining an axis about which the attachment mechanism portion may pivot relative to the respective bracket, and the second connection point 504 having a crescent- shaped slot 506 which defines the pivotable range of the attachment mechanism relative to the respective bracket.

Referring to FIGs. 4 and 5, in some embodiments, the surface of tread plate 400 comprises perforations or holes 404, configured to reduce the rotational mass of the brackets 106, 108, and/or to provide an improved traction surface to the tread plate. For example, the improved traction surface may include protrusions (not shown), such as ribs surrounding the perimeter of the perforations or holes 404, or any desired surface texture.

The attachment mechanism 110 may be attached to the brackets 106, 108 at the respective attachment points via pins, bolts, rivets, or the like, and may include bushings or the like to facilitate a smooth pivoting motion. In some embodiments, substantially flat or low profile, smooth heads are used, such as the bolts 700 shown in FIG. 7. This configuration is advantageous because it minimizes wear on the tire sidewall during use of the traction device. One or both portions of the attachment mechanism 110 may be bolted with a two-bolt arrangement that allows pivoting of such portion(s) relative to the bracket(s) 106, 108 to which such portion(s) is attached. Alternatively, one or both portions of the attachment mechanism 110 may be welded to the respective brackets 106, 108 to increase rigidity. When pivotably attached, the pivotable portion(s) of the attachment mechanism are permitted to pivot about the first connection point 502 to the extent allowed by the crescent shaped slot 506 (as shown in FIG. 5). Referring to FIGs. 6 and 7, one embodiment of an attachment mechanism 110 is shown. In accordance with the present disclosure, attachment mechanism may comprise any mating elements configured to releasably secure the traction device to a tire. In some embodiments, the attachment mechanism 110 comprises a ratchet device. A number of ratchet devices are known in the art. Suitable ratchet devices in accordance with the present disclose are those having sufficient rigidity and strength to withstand forces during operation, for example, lateral, radial, and torsional forces. The ratchet device may be constructed in such a manner and of such a material so as to minimize unwanted flex or movement in or between the various components comprising the ratchet device. As shown in FIGs. 6 and 7, one embodiment of an attachment mechanism 110 comprises opposite portions, of which, one portion comprises an elongated toothed member 600 having a plurality of teeth 602, and the other portion comprises a ratchet mechanism 604 configured to slidably receive the toothed member 600 and thereby to releasably secure the tire traction assembly to a tire, as shown for example in FIG. 1. The toothed member 600 is securely attached, either fixedly or pivotably, to one bracket (e.g., 108), and the ratchet mechanism 604 is securely attached, either fixedly or pivotably, to the other bracket (e.g., 106). In some embodiments, the ratchet mechanism 604 comprises a sleeve 606 configured to receive at least a portion of the toothed member 600, a pawl mechanism 608 configured to advance the toothed member into the sleeve 606, a ratcheting lever 610 configured to rotate the pawl mechanism 608 via a ratchet wheel 612, and a releasable, spring-loaded locking lever 614 configured to utilize the bias of a spring 616 to releasably secure the pawl mechanism 608 in its position via a pin 618 engaged with the ratchet wheel 612, or, to release the pawl mechanism 608 upon actuation by a user applying pressure against the bias of the spring 616, thereby disengaging the pin 618 from the ratchet wheel.

The toothed member 600 and the sleeve 606 are substantially rigid, and may be, for example, formed entirely of metal, or of a plastic toothed strap bonded to a metal substrate, or other suitable materials. After passing through pawl mechanism 608, the toothed member 600 is received by the sleeve 606, which substantially prevents the toothed member from pivoting relative to the sleeve, even though in some embodiments the toothed member and/or the sleeve may be pivotably attached to the respective brackets 106, 108. Sleeve 606 also helps stabilize toothed member 600, e.g., from lateral, radial, rotational, and torsional forces, thereby minimizing unwanted flex or movement between the ratchet mechanism 604 and the toothed member 600, and between the attachment mechanism 110 and brackets 106, 108.

Ratchet mechanism 604 comprises a ratcheting lever 610 that when actuated upon by a user turns the pawl mechanism 608 via toothed ratchet wheel 612. When a user inserts toothed member 600 into sleeve 606, the pawl mechanism engages teeth 602. The toothed member 600 may be advanced successively further into the ratchet mechanism 604 by the user repeatedly actuating ratcheting lever 610, thereby causing the pawl mechanism 608 to pull toothed member 600 into sleeve 606, and thus drawing brackets 106, 108 towards one another. This process thereby reduces the effective radius of the attachment cables 302, 304, and thus as the radius is so reduced, the entire traction assembly 100 is secured around the perimeter of the tire. Locking lever 614 is spring biased to positively engage the ratchet wheel 612 via pin 618. To release the toothed member 600 from the ratchet mechanism 604, such as to remove the traction device from a tire upon which is has been previously mounted, a user simply actuates the locking lever 614, thereby releasing the pawl mechanism 608 from teeth 602, which, in turn, allows the toothed member 600, to slide through the sleeve 606 and out of the ratchet mechanism.

Referring to FIGs. 8 and 9, alternative embodiments of a linkage 406 and 408, respectively, are shown for attaching the attachment cables 302, 304 to the brackets 106, 108. In some embodiments, linkage 406 (shown in FIG. 8) is used on one side of each attachment cable, and linkage 408 (shown in FIG. 9) is used on the opposite side of each attachment cable.

Referring to FIG. 8, one embodiment of a linkage 406 comprises a clevis 802 and a pin 804 which is inserted through holes in the clevis and a corresponding hole in the respective bracket 106 or 108, thereby securely attaching the linkage to the respective bracket. Pin 804 is secured by a cotter pin 806, or the like. Attachment cable 302 or 304 may be securely fastened to the end of the linkage 406 by crimping the end of the linkage around the attachment cable, or by the use of set-screws, welding, or the like.

Referring to FIG. 9, one embodiment of a linkage 408 comprises a clevis 902 and a pin 904 which is inserted through holes in the clevis and a corresponding hole in the respective bracket 106, 108, thereby securely attaching the linkage to the respective bracket. Pin 904 is secured by a cotter pin 906, or the like. Attachment cable 302 or 304 may be securely fastened to the end of the linkage 408 by cooperable fastener elements comprising a receiving slot 908 accessible via keyhole 910, configured to receive one of a plurality of lugs 912 fastened to the endward portion of attachment cable 302 and/or 304. The plurality of lugs 912 are spaced at various intervals, such that by inserting the appropriate lug into keyhole 910 and seating such lug into receiving slot 908, a user may adjust the effective circumference of the attachment cables 302 and/or 304, thereby configuring the traction assembly so as to fit a range of tires having a circumference corresponding to the compatible circumference of the attachment cables. Thus, the effective length of the attachment cable is determined by the number of lugs inserted through the keyhole 910 and the particular lug seated in the receiving slot 908.

Referring to FIGs. 10-12, an additional embodiment of a traction device is shown, depicting certain additional optional features in accordance with the present disclosure. In some embodiments, ferrules 1000 are utilized to secure intersections between the various cables of the traction assembly. Ferrules 1000 may be positioned at some or all of the intersections where various cables of the traction assembly intersect. As shown, ferrules 1000 secure intersections between traction cables 316 and attachment cables 302, 304, and between traction cables 316 and support cables 312, 314. Ferrules 1000 may be constructed of aluminum or other materials suitable for being pressed or crimped around cables. Alternatively, in some embodiments, ferrules 1000 may be omitted, for example where the artisan desires certain intersecting cables to float freely; or in further alternative embodiments ferrules 1000 may be omitted when the artisan desires an alternative means for securing intersecting cables, or where aspects of the traction assembly comprise a single, interwoven cable, or where the traction assembly is constructed from links of chain (as shown in FIG. 14).

Further referring to additional optional features depicted in FIGs. 10-12, in some embodiments, elastomeric tensioners may be positioned at various locations about a traction device. Such elastomeric tensioners may be configured to enhance the alignment of the traction assembly, for example, the relative position of the traction members 318 about the rolling surface of a tire; to absorb slack or dampen movements in the traction assembly or between the traction assembly and the attachment assembly, for example, slack or movement introduced during operation; and/or to aid in the installation of a traction device, for example, by substantially maintaining separation - provided by the free length of the tensioner when in the unloaded position - between various aspects of the traction assembly so as to facilitate positioning of the traction assembly about the surface of a tire during installation (e.g., to help facilitate one-stop mounting) and/or to reduce tangling among traction assembly aspects during storage, transportation, or installation. Elastomeric tensioners may be constructed from any elastic and/or resilient material known in the art that has sufficient pliability and strength to withstand forces exerted upon the traction device while in use, such as rubber, polymer materials, composites, and the like.

In some embodiments, a plurality of bracket tensioners 1010 (FIGs. 10-12) and/or traction assembly tensioners 1012 (FIGs. 10, 11) may be provided. Bracket tensioners 1010 may be positioned, for example, between brackets 106, 108 and the respective adjacent support cables 312, 314. Traction assembly tensioners 1012 may be positioned, for example, at substantially uniform spaced intervals about the traction assembly, on both the outward and/or inward facing aspects of the traction assembly. As shown in FIGs. 10, 11, a plurality of traction assembly tensioners 1012 may be positioned about attachment cables 302, 304, for example at intersections between a traction cable 316 and an attachment cable 302 or 304.

Referring to FIG. 13, an exploded view of one embodiment of an elastomeric tensioner is shown, depicting means for attaching the tensioner to the traction device. As shown in FIG. 13, one embodiment of a traction assembly tensioner 1012 comprises a midsection 1300, and end sections 1302. End sections 1302 are configured with bores 1304, which are dimensioned to slidably seat around posts 1306, of which a plurality may be positioned about the traction assembly. In some embodiments, posts 1306 are fixedly attached to ferrules 1000, the ferrules being securely attached to the traction assembly, for example, at intersections between a traction cable 316 and an attachment cable 302 or 304. As shown, posts 1306 may be configured with a flange 1310 positioned at the distal aspect of the posts. The flanges 1310 are configured with an outer diameter sufficiently larger than the diameter of the bores 1304, such that flange may slide through a bore 1304 with a degree of resistance, so as to slidably seat end section 1302 over post 1306. When end section 1302 is slidably seated over post 1306, flange 1310 serves to resist unintended disengagement of the end section from the post. Elastomeric tensioners may be constructed from any material that allows a degree of expansion sufficient to allow bores 1304 to accommodate the diameter of flange 1310. Although FIG. 13 depicts a traction assembly tensioner, those skilled in the art will appreciate that bracket tensioners 1010 may similarly be securely attached to a traction device using the post and bore configuration depicted in FIG. 13. Alternatively, elastomeric tensioners may be secured using bolts, rivets, or the like. Those skilled in the art will further appreciate that the tensioners described herein represent an optional alternative embodiment, and that traction devices which omit these features are nevertheless within the scope of the present disclosure.

Referring to FIG. 14, another embodiment of an attachment assembly portion of a traction device is shown in accordance with the present disclosure. As shown in FIG. 14, a traction assembly 100 may be constructed from links of chain. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the decision of whether to construct a traction assembly from cables vs. chains is a design choice which depends primarily on the intended use and durability of the traction device. For example, chains are generally used for "heavy duty" uses, such as for traction devices intended for use with large trucks, heavy industrial or agricultural equipment, tractors, transportation vehicles and trailers, and other large vehicles, or where substantial wear and tear may be expected. Conversely, cables are generally used for "light duty" uses, such as for small passenger cars, motorcycles, etc., or where wear and tear is expected to be light. For "medium duty" uses, either cables or chains may be used, or alternatively, some embodiments may comprise a combination of cables and chains. While the artisan will appreciate these generalities, it is understood that cables, chains, and/or a combination thereof may be used for any vehicle in accordance with the present disclosure.

Installation and Removal Process

The present disclosure is intended to provide easy, one-stop mounting of the tire traction devices disclosed herein. To mount a traction device upon a tire in accordance with the present disclosure, the user would drape the tire traction assembly 100 over the tire 102 . Then the user would feed the toothed member 600 into the ratchet mechanism 604 and actuate the ratchet mechanism by successively pulling the ratcheting lever 610, thereby drawing toothed member 600 into sleeve 606. As toothed member 600 draws further into sleeve 606, brackets 106, 108 are drawn closer together, which, in turn, reduces the effective circumference of attachment cables 302, 304, thereby securing the traction assembly around the tire.

To uninstall a traction device in accordance with the present disclosure, the user would generally drive the vehicle to a position where brackets 106, 108 are positioned at any location about the rotation of the tire other than directly pinched between the tire and the ground/road. The user would then release locking lever 614 and slide toothed member 600 out of the ratchet mechanism 604. The user would then slide brackets 106, 108 off of the tire 102, and then drape the attachment assembly 104 to the side of the tire, setting the assembly mechanism on the ground/road. Finally, the user would drive the vehicle forward a sufficient distance to free the portion of the traction device that was located beneath the tire during removal, causing the vehicle tires to drive over a portion of the traction assembly 100, and not a portion of the attachment assembly 104.

Other Embodiments A number of embodiments have been described herein. Nevertheless, it will be understood that other aspects and embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and accordingly, that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure. For example, the dimensions of the device could be varied to allow for the device to be used on various tire sizes.

As a further example, an alternate embodiment of brackets 106, 108 may feature stamped, recessed areas on the side surfaces 402 designed to reduce wear on the sidewalls of a tire which may be caused by connection points, 502, 504 or pins 804, 904. Such stamped, recessed areas may be configured to provide a substantially aligned plane among the contact points between the attachment assembly 104 and the sidewalls of a tire. Such recessed areas could be created by use a stamp-form manufacturing process. In addition, stamped, recessed areas could be configured to increase the strength of the brackets.

Further, the attachment mechanism was described as a ratchet-style mechanism, alternate embodiments could feature other mating elements or attachment methods and mechanisms, provided that the requirement of securely attaching the traction device to the tire is accomplished. Other mating elements or attachment mechanisms in accordance with the present disclosure include bolts, clasps, hooks, tension levers, draw latches, turnbuckles, and the like. While various aspects and embodiments have been disclosed herein, other aspects and embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The various aspects and embodiments disclosed herein are for purposes of illustration and are not intended to be limiting. Accordingly, it is intended that other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims and their equivalents: