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Title:
A VEHICLE RECOVERY DEVICE AND METHOD OF USE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/176642
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A vehicle recovery device including a flexible harness assembly having a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members and a number of transverse members provided between the pair of longitudinal members in order to space the longitudinal members apart, both ends of the flexible harness assembly provided with an attachment capability to attach the harness assembly to an external anchor point or to another portion of the harness assembly. The assembly is attachable to a driven wheel of a vehicle for using the wheel as a winch drum or spool.

Inventors:
AUBIN PAUL (AU)
Application Number:
AU2014/000492
Publication Date:
November 06, 2014
Filing Date:
May 02, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AUBIN PAUL (AU)
International Classes:
B60D1/18; B60B39/12; B60C27/02
Foreign References:
US20040144465A12004-07-29
US1718509A1929-06-25
US4224972A1980-09-30
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FISHER ADAMS KELLY (12 Creek StreetBrisbane, Queensland 4001, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A vehicle recovery device, comprising:

a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members;

a plurality of transverse members provided between the pair of longitudinal members to space the longitudinal members apart and define a flexible harness assembly;

a first attachment assembly at a first end of the flexible harness assembly for attaching the first end to an external anchor point; and

a second attachment assembly at a second end of the flexible harness assembly for attaching the second end to a vehicle wheel or to another portion of the flexible harness assembly.

2. The vehicle recovery device of claim 1, wherein a length of each of the transverse members in the plurality of transverse members corresponds approximately with a width of a corresponding vehicle tyre tread.

3. The vehicle recovery device of claim 1, wherein a spacing along the longitudinal members between each transverse member in the plurality of transverse members is approximately one fifth of the circumference of a corresponding vehicle tyre tread.

4. The vehicle recovery device of claim 1, wherein a spacing along the longitudinal members between each transverse member in the plurality of transverse members is between approximately one third and one tenth of the circumference of a corresponding vehicle tyre tread.

5. The vehicle recovery device of claim 1, wherein the second attachment assembly connects together the pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members through a hole in a vehicle wheel hub.

6. The vehicle recovery device of claim 1, wherein longitudinal spacings between transverse members are less near the second end of the flexible harness assembly and greater near the first end of the flexible harness assembly.

7. The vehicle recovery device of claim 1, wherein the longitudinal members are approximately 3 to 20 metres in length.

8. The vehicle recovery device of claim 1, wherein the longitudinal members and the transverse members comprise at least one of the following: straps, webbing, chains, cables, and ropes.

9. The vehicle recovery device of claim 1, wherein the first and second attachment assemblies comprise at least one of the following: loops, connector ties, shackles, hooks or loose ends for knotting.

10. A method of recovery of a vehicle using a vehicle recovery device including a flexible harness assembly having a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members and a number of transverse members provided between the pair of longitudinal members in order to space the longitudinal members apart, at least one end of the flexible harness assembly provided with an attachment assembly to attach the harness assembly to another portion of the harness assembly, the method comprising: attaching a first end of the flexible harness assembly to another portion of the harness assembly about the at least one wheel of the vehicle which requires recovery; attaching another portion of the flexible harness assembly to an external anchor point with the harness assembly extending aligned with the at least one wheel; and driving the vehicle toward the anchor point using the at least one wheel as a winch drum to take up the harness assembly.

11. A method of recovery of a vehicle using a vehicle recovery device including a flexible harness assembly having a pair or more of flexible elongate longitudinal members and a number of transverse members provided between the pair or more of longitudinal members in order to space the longitudinal members apart, at least one end of the flexible harness assembly provided with an attachment assembly to attach the harness assembly to another portion of the harness assembly, or directly to a wheel/tyre combination, and designed to capture a vehicle's driven wheel/tyre combination by means of the device providing a harness for the wheel/ tyre.

Description:
A VEHICLE RECOVERY DEVICE AND METHOD OF USE

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention relates to a vehicle recovery device and in particular, to a vehicle recovery device that is a harness for the vehicle's own wheels using one or more of them as a winch drum or spool.

BACKGROUND ART

[0002] Vehicle recovery devices are conventionally available. These include a wide range of products, including a fixed winch which is generally attached to a forward portion of the vehicle and which can be used to pull the vehicle in a forward direction. However such winches are generally expensive and heavy, and can require regular maintenance.

[0003] It is also known to use a device known as a "snatch strap", which is used in combination with another vehicle in order to extract a first vehicle from difficulty. However, the effective use of these devices requires the presence of a second vehicle in order to extract the first vehicle that is bogged or otherwise stuck.

[0004] It is also known to use an external drum fitted to a wheel in order to wind a cable or rope around the external drum. Typically, the external drum is detachable from the wheel so as not to protrude laterally sideways when the vehicle is in normal use. However, these can be heavy and cumbersome, and can be time consuming and difficult to assemble on a vehicle wheel.

[0005] Further, it is known to tie a single strap around the outer circumference of a vehicle tyre tread and attempt to employ the vehicle wheel as a winch. However, such a strap can be difficult to secure to a tyre and is susceptible to slipping off of a tyre during use.

[0006] There is therefore a need for an improved vehicle recovery device and method of use.

[0007] It will be clearly understood that, if a prior art publication is referred to herein, this reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms part of the common general knowledge in the art in Australia or in any other country.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0008] The present invention is directed to a vehicle recovery device, which may at least partially overcome at least one of the abovementioned disadvantages or provide the consumer with a useful or commercial choice.

[0009] According to one aspect, the present invention is a vehicle recovery device, comprising: a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members;

a plurality of transverse members provided between the pair of longitudinal members to space the longitudinal members apart and define a flexible harness assembly;

a first attachment assembly at a first end of the flexible harness assembly for attaching the first end to an external anchor point; and

a second attachment assembly at a second end of the flexible harness assembly for attaching the second end to a vehicle wheel or to another portion of the flexible harness assembly.

[0010] According to another aspect, the present invention is a method of recovery of a vehicle using a vehicle recovery device including a flexible harness assembly having a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members and a number of transverse members provided between the pair of longitudinal members in order to space the longitudinal members apart, at least one end of the flexible harness assembly provided with an attachment assembly to attach the harness assembly to another portion of the harness assembly, the method comprising: attaching a first end of the flexible harness assembly to another portion of the harness assembly about the at least one wheel of the vehicle which requires recovery; attaching another portion of the flexible harness assembly to an external anchor point with the harness assembly extending aligned with the at least one wheel; and driving the vehicle toward the anchor point using the at least one wheel as a winch drum to take up the harness assembly.

[0011] Preferably, a length of each of the transverse members in the plurality of transverse members corresponds approximately with a width of a corresponding vehicle tyre tread.

[0012] Preferably, a spacing along the longitudinal members between each transverse member in the plurality of transverse members is approximately one fifth of the circumference of a corresponding vehicle tyre tread.

[0013] Preferably, a spacing along the longitudinal members between each transverse member in the plurality of transverse members is between approximately one third and one tenth of the circumference of a corresponding vehicle tyre tread.

[0014] According to yet another aspect, the present invention resides broadly in a vehicle recovery device including a flexible harness assembly having a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members, and a number of transverse members provided between the pair of longitudinal members in order to space the longitudinal members apart, at least one end of the flexible harness assembly provided with an attachment assembly to attach the harness assembly to an external anchor point or to another portion of the harness assembly.

[0015] In use, the vehicle recovery device of the present invention uses one or more wheels of a vehicle, whether a wheel that is actually stuck or bogged or another wheel which is free of obstruction, as a winch drum or spool in order to draw a vehicle in a particular direction to escape difficulty.

[0016] The vehicle recovery device of the present invention includes a flexible harness assembly. Typically, the flexible harness assembly will be of a configuration that is formed of more than one portion or member. The harness assembly will typically be flexible in a longitudinal direction. Typically, all portions of the harness assembly are flexible; however the longitudinal members and the transverse members may be at least partially rigid.

[0017] The harness assembly will typically have a ladder configuration. According to this configuration, a pair of longitudinal members is preferably provided with a plurality of transverse members extending between the pair of longitudinal members. The pair of longitudinal members and the transverse members may be of the same configuration or be different to one another. Further, the longitudinal members and transverse members may be formed of the same material or of a different material.

[0018] Typically, the longitudinal members and transverse members will be attached securely to one another in order to withstand the loads imposed on the harness assembly by the vehicle during recovery. The mechanism of attachment of the longitudinal members to the transverse members will typically be dependent upon the materials and configuration of the respective members.

[0019] The harness assembly typically includes a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members. The longitudinal members can be of any length. Typically, the longitudinal members will be between 3 m and 20 m in length. It is likely that the vehicle recovery device of the present invention will be provided in a variety of lengths and therefore, the longitudinal members will differ in length depending upon the length desired. Preferably, the harness assembly is of a fixed length overall but may be constructed using materials that offer stretch.

[0020] Each longitudinal member may have any configuration sufficiently strong to withstand the loads applied. Given that the vehicle recovery device of the present invention may be used for a passenger vehicle, and it is expected that such vehicle will weigh at least 1000 kg, therefore the longitudinal members will be required to withstand the load imposed by that weight at least and the load imposed by using the wheel of the vehicle as a winch drum to draw that weight in a particular direction. The vehicle recovery device of the present invention may also be used by any vehicle or machine and may be constructed of any materials having a required working strength.

[0021] It is also preferred that the longitudinal members collapse to a relatively small size for easier storage.

[0022] Preferably, the longitudinal members are straight members.

[0023] Generally, each of the longitudinal members are provided with an attachment portion at each end in order to allow attachment of the longitudinal member to another portion of the harness assembly or to another structure that can be used as an anchor point. But the longitudinal members may be constructed such to provide tails of any length which may be used to connect to other attachment devices. Any configuration of attachment portion may be used.

[0024] Preferably, each of the ends of each of the longitudinal members is provided with a loop opening. Depending upon the particular material used to form each longitudinal member, the loop portion may be present already (such as when the longitudinal member is formed from a chain or similar having links), or the loop portion may need to be formed by folding a portion of the longitudinal member back upon itself and fixing the folded back portion relative to the longitudinal member.

[0025] Any method of connection may be used but generally if a fold and fix methodology is followed, then the fixing material should generally be as strong or stronger than the longitudinal member itself. Examples of appropriate fixing methodologies which may be followed include: stitching; where the longitudinal member is a chain and a larger loop portion than the link itself is required, an extra link or shackle may be used; where the longitudinal member is a rope or similar, the rope may be folded back on itself, knotted about itself or spliced, or attached by some other method; and where the longitudinal member is a cable, a crimp connection or lock may be provided.

[0026] The longitudinal members may be manufactured from any suitable material including a strap member which is commonly known as "webbing". Webbing is a strong fabric woven as a flat strip or tube of varying width and fibres often used in place of rope. The name webbing is thought to come from the meshed material frequently used in its construction, which resembles a web. It is a versatile component used in climbing, slack lining, furniture manufacturing, automobile safety, auto racing, towing, parachuting, military apparel, and many other fields. [0027] Originally made of cotton or flax, most modern webbing is made of synthetic fibres such as nylon, polypropylene or polyester. Webbing is also made from exceptionally high-strength material, such as Dyneema ® , and Kevlar ® . Webbing is both light and strong, with breaking strengths readily available in excess of 10,000 lb (44.4 kN).

[0028] There are two basic constructions of webbing and either can be used according to the present invention. Flat webbing is a solid weave, with seatbelts and most backpack straps being common examples. Tubular webbing consists of a flattened tube, and is commonly used in climbing and industrial applications. Various rope materials may also be used including various plaited rope products.

[0029] The harness assembly also includes a plurality of transverse members to space the longitudinal members apart. As mentioned briefly above, the transverse members may be rigid or partially rigid but are preferably flexible. The transverse members may be made from the same material as the longitudinal members but different types of transverse members may be used with different types of longitudinal members.

[0030] Preferably, the transverse members are each attached to both of the longitudinal members, on each side or at each end of each transverse member.

[0031] Preferably, the plurality of transverse members are spaced over the length of the longitudinal members, typically evenly. A transverse member may be provided at one end of the harness assembly closer to the free ends of the longitudinal members than at the opposite end of the harness assembly where greater length free ends may be provided. This allows the end of the harness assembly where the greater length free ends are provided to be used to attach to an anchor point, whereas the opposite end is typically used to attach the harness assembly to the vehicle wheel. Alternatively the device may be reversed (end for end).

[0032] An alternative configuration is provided wherein a transverse member is attached at, rather than adjacent to, the ends of the longitudinal members and a loop portion is provided on either side of the transverse members rather than the longitudinal members. [0033] The attachment used to attach the transverse members to the longitudinal members is typically dependent upon the material used. In the context of the particularly preferred embodiment where the longitudinal members and the transverse members are both formed from either webbing or rope, the preferred method of attachment will be stitching.

[0034] The strength of the seam should be at least as great and typically greater than the anticipated loads to be carried and/or the strength of the fabric to be joined, which in this case is typically webbing straps. To achieve this, there are several factors that need to be considered in the design. These include the following:

• Fabric— The weight and weave of the fabric affects the type of junction used.

• Thread type— -This is affected by the weight of the fabric. Generally, the lighter the fabric, the smaller the thread used. Accordingly, a smaller needle is used in order not to damage the weave of the fabric.

• Stitch type— This is typically determined by the type of seam needed for the design.

• Stitches per inch— This normally has a direct correlation to the size of the thread used and the stitch type. There is a fine balance between the security of the seam and overstitching. Too many stitches per inch will dramatically affect the strength of the seam by perforating the material. The number of rows of stitching also affects this. While more rows generally increase the strength of the seam, too many perforate the material as well.

• Thread tension— As lighter fabric and thread are used, the thread tension balance becomes more important.

• Reinforcing— The addition of reinforcing through the use of tapes, cords, etc., adds to the strength of the seam. However, their use may also reduce the elasticity of the seam at the same time.

In some situations, these issues may be overcome through the use of a stronger strap.

[0035] The strength of the attachment will also typically be dependent upon the stitch pattern used and length. A W-W pattern is stronger than a box X pattern. Generally speaking, a cross stitch pattern is stronger than a box stitch and the number of points depends upon the width of the webbing. The stitching should not be crowded or elongation of the fibres will be restricted.

[0036] Generally speaking the larger thread size increases joint strength. Often, with larger thread, fewer stitches are required for the same joint strength.

[0037] Confluence wrapping can also be used. A confluence wrap is a piece of webbing which encircles two or more other pieces of webbing at their confluence point to prevent a splitting out of the stitching.

[0038] As mentioned above, at least one end of the harness assembly is typically provided with an attachment assembly in order to attach the harness assembly to an external anchor point or to an upper portion of the harness assembly.

[0039] The attachment assembly can be of any configuration, but a simpler attachment assembly is preferred which is operable without tools. Preferably, a loop portion may be provided at either end of each of the longitudinal members or as outlined above in the alternative configuration, can be provided on a transverse member. This configuration will typically allow attachment of either of the longitudinal members to each other, to other portions of the harness assembly or to or about a remote anchor point.

[0040] One end of the harness assembly is typically attached to or relative to a vehicle wheel, normally the vehicle wheel which is stuck or bogged. According to a first configuration, one end of the harness assembly is attached to a vehicle wheel, normally to the rim of a vehicle wheel, and preferably through an opening in the rim. According to this configuration, each end of each longitudinal member is typically located adjacent the wheel and an elongate attachment member is passed through the rim and attached to the loop portion of both of the longitudinal members. In an alternative to this configuration, one of the loop portions may be passed through the opening in the vehicle rim and attached relative to the other of the loop openings. It is preferred that the harness assembly be evenly taken up by the vehicle wheel once the vehicle wheel rotates and therefore, it is preferred that the harness assembly be balanced so that it can be wound onto the wheel evenly to reduce weak points in the harness assembly.

[0041] The elongate attachment member is typically flexible as well. The elongate attachment member can be provided in the form of a rope, cable, strap or chain but a rope or strap is preferred as they are softer and therefore are less prone to inflicting damage on the rim of the wheel. Use of a rope or strap also allows the elongate attachment member to be attached to the loop portions by knotting for example.

[0042] According to a second configuration, one end of the harness assembly may be attached relative to a vehicle wheel. In this configuration, it is preferred that one end of the harness assembly is attached about the vehicle wheel. This can be achieved by laying a portion of the harness assembly over an upper portion of the wheel and attaching the free end of the longitudinal members to an intermediate portion of the harness assembly about a lower portion of the wheel similarly to the manner of fitting snow chains to a wheel but with a portion of the harness assembly extending away from the wheel in the direction of the anchor point. Once the harness assembly is attached to the anchor point and the vehicle driven in a direction towards the anchor point, the wheel will again act as a winch drum but in this embodiment, the load may be spread more evenly than in the first configuration which tends to impose load on the attachment member by the edge of the opening on the rim.

[0043] In an alternative aspect, the present invention resides in a method of recovery of a vehicle using a vehicle recovery device including a flexible harness assembly having a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members and a number of transverse members provided between the pair of longitudinal members in order to space the longitudinal members apart, at least one end of the flexible harness assembly provided with an attachment assembly to attach the harness assembly to an external anchor point or to another portion of the harness assembly, the method including the steps of attaching a first end of one flexible harness assembly to one wheel of the vehicle which requires recovery, attaching another portion of the flexible harness assembly to an external anchor point with the harness assembly extending aligned with the at least one wheel, and driving the vehicle toward the anchor point using the at least one wheel as a winch drum to take up the harness assembly.

[0044] As discussed above, the harness assembly will normally be attached to the wheel and preferably to the rim of the wheel, using an attachment member extending through an opening in the wheel.

[0045] In another alternative aspect, the present invention resides in a method of recovery of a vehicle using a vehicle recovery device including a flexible harness assembly having a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members and a number of transverse members provided between the pair of longitudinal members in order to space the longitudinal members apart, at least one end of the flexible harness assembly provided with an attachment assembly to attach the harness assembly to another portion of the harness assembly, the method including the steps of attaching a first end of the flexible harness assembly to another portion of the harness assembly about the at least one wheel of the vehicle which requires recovery, attaching another portion of the flexible harness assembly to an external anchor point with the harness assembly extending aligned with the at least one wheel and driving the vehicle toward the anchor point using the at least one wheel as a winch drum to take up the harness assembly.

[0046] In this aspect, a section of the harness assembly is laid over the top of the wheel with the first end of the harness assembly on the side opposite the anchor point. The free ends of the first end of the harness assembly are then passed along the ground and back towards the anchor point beside the wheel and attached to an intermediate portion of the harness assembly before driving the vehicle toward the anchor point creating a noose or snare around the tyre in order for the device to form the necessary harness and grip the tyre.

[0047] Any of the features described herein can be combined in any combination with any one or more of the other features described herein within the scope of the invention. [0048] The reference to any prior art in this specification is not, and should not be taken as an acknowledgement or any form of suggestion that the prior art forms part of the common general knowledge.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0049] Preferred features, embodiments and variations of the invention may be discerned from the following Detailed Description which provides sufficient information for those skilled in the art to perform the invention. The Detailed Description is not to be regarded as limiting the scope of the preceding Summary of the Invention in any way. The Detailed Description will make reference to a number of drawings as follows:

[0050] Figure 1 is a schematic view of a vehicle recovery device according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0051 ] Figure 2A is a plan view of the device illustrated in Figure 1.

[0052] Figure 2B is a detailed view of the portion circled in Figure 2A.

[0053] Figure 3A is a plan view of the device illustrated in Figure 1.

[0054] Figure 3B is a detailed view of the portion circled in Figure 3 A.

[0055] Figure 4 is a schematic side view illustrating a vehicle with its forward wheels bogged and prior to using the device of the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1.

[0056] Figure 5 is a schematic side view showing the use of the device of the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1 in an early stage of vehicle recovery.

[0057] Figure 6 is a schematic side view showing the use of the device of the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1 in a later stage of vehicle recovery.

[0058] Figure 7 is a schematic side view illustrating a vehicle with its rear wheels bogged and prior to using the device of the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1.

[0059] Figure 8 is a schematic side view showing the use of the device of the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1 in an early stage of vehicle recovery.

[0060] Figure 9 is a schematic side view showing the use of the device of the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1 in a later stage of vehicle recovery.

[0061] Figure 1 OA is a side view showing the attachment of a device of the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1 to a forward wheel of a vehicle.

[0062] Figure 10B is a side view of a preferred connector portion illustrated in Figure 10A.

[0063] Figure 11 is an axonometric view of a vehicle wheel showing the preferred attachment mechanism used according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0064] Figure 12 A is a repeat of Figure 11.

[0065] Figure 12B is a schematic side view of the attachment member illustrated in Figure 12 A.

[0066] Figure 12C is a side view of a rope attachment member which could be used according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0067] Figure 12D is a side view of a cable attachment member which could be used according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0068] Figure 12E is a side view of a chain attachment member which could be used according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0069] Figure 12F is a side view of a strap attachment member which could be used according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0070] Figure 13A is a side view showing the attachment of the device of a preferred embodiment to a wheel having a rim of a first configuration.

[0071] Figure 13B is a side view showing the attachment of the device of a preferred embodiment to a wheel having a rim of a second configuration.

[0072] Figure 13C is a side view showing the attachment of the device of a preferred embodiment to a wheel having a rim of a third configuration.

[0073] Figure 14 is a schematic view of an alternative embodiment of an end of the harness assembly and the attachment assembly, according to some embodiments.

[0074] Figure 15 is a side view of a wheel of a vehicle showing an alternative attachment method according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0075] Figure 16 is a side view of a vehicle showing the relative directions of the vehicle wheel and vehicle using the embodiment of the invention is illustrated in Figure 15.

[0076] Figure 17 is a side view of the vehicle wheel as illustrated in Figure 15 with the alternative attachment method enabled.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

[0077] According to a particularly preferred embodiment of the present invention, a vehicle recovery device and method of use therefor is provided.

[0078] As illustrated in the accompanying Figures, the preferred vehicle recovery device 10 includes a flexible harness assembly having a pair of flexible elongate longitudinal members 11 and a number of transverse members 12 provided between the pair of longitudinal members 11 in order to space the longitudinal members 11 apart. Both ends of the flexible harness assembly are provided with attachment loops 13 to attach the harness assembly to an external anchor point 14 as illustrated in Figures 4 or 7 or to another portion of the harness assembly as illustrated in Figures 16 or 17.

[0079] In use, the vehicle recovery device of the present invention uses one or more wheels of a corresponding stranded vehicle 15, normally the wheel that is actually stuck or bogged as a winch drum or spool in order to draw the vehicle 15 in a particular direction to escape difficulty.

[0080] As shown in Figure 6, when wound onto a vehicle wheel the longitudinal members 11 are positioned adjacent a side wall of a corresponding vehicle tyre, thus creating the necessary harness and preventing the vehicle recovery device from slipping sideways off of the tyre.

[0081] The harness assembly is normally flexible in a longitudinal direction and according to the preferred embodiment, all portions of the harness assembly are flexible or semi flexible. However, as will be understood by those skilled in the art, some elements of the assembly may also be rigid, such as chain links.

[0082] According to the preferred configuration illustrated in Figure 1 , a pair of longitudinal members 11 is provided with a plurality of transverse members 12 extending between the pair of longitudinal members 11. The pair of longitudinal members 11 and the transverse members 12 of the illustrated embodiment are of the same configuration and formed of the same material.

[0083] The longitudinal members 11 and transverse members 12 are attached securely to one another in order to withstand the loads imposed on the harness assembly by the vehicle 15 during recovery. The mechanism of attachment of the longitudinal members 11 to the transverse members 12 is dependent upon the materials and configuration of the respective members. Each of the transverse members corresponds approximately with a width of a corresponding vehicle tyre tread, such that the transverse members generally extend just beyond the width of the tyre tread to which they are attached.

[0084] The longitudinal members 11 of the preferred embodiment can be of any length, but typically between 3 m and 20 m in length. It is likely that the vehicle recovery device of the present invention will be provided in a variety of lengths.

[0085] It is particularly preferred that the longitudinal members are a lightweight construction but also sufficiently strong to withstand the loads applied. Given that the vehicle recovery device of the present invention may be used for a passenger vehicle, it is expected that the vehicle will weigh at least 1000 kg and therefore, the longitudinal members will be required to withstand the load imposed by that weight at least and the load imposed by using the wheel of the vehicle as a winch drum to draw that weight in a particular direction. [0086] It is also preferred that the longitudinal members collapse to a relatively small size for easier storage.

[0087] According to the preferred embodiment, each of the longitudinal members 11 are provided with an attachment loop at each end in order to allow attachment of the longitudinal member 11 to another portion of the harness assembly or to another structure that can be used as an anchor point 14.

[0088] According to the preferred embodiment as best illustrated in Figures 2A to 3B, the loops 13 are formed by folding a portion of the longitudinal member

11 back upon itself and fixing the folded back portion 16 relative to the longitudinal member 11.

[0089] The fixing may be as strong if not stronger than the longitudinal member itself. Examples of appropriate fixing methodologies which may be followed are dependent upon the material used but include stitching in embodiments where the longitudinal member comprises a strap configuration as in the illustrated preferred embodiment.

[0090] It is preferred that the longitudinal members and transverse members are manufactured from a strap member which is commonly known as "webbing" or a rope product including any of various commercially available plaited rope products. Webbing is a strong fabric woven as a flat strip or tube of varying width and fibres often used in place of rope.

[0091] The harness assembly also includes a plurality of transverse members

12 to space the longitudinal members 11 apart. The transverse members 12 are each attached to both of the longitudinal members 11 , on each side or at each end of each transverse member 12.

[0092] The transverse members 12 are spaced over the length of the longitudinal members 11 evenly as illustrated in Figure 1. A transverse member 12 is provided at a first end 17 of the harness assembly closer to the free ends of the longitudinal members 11 as illustrated in Figures 2A and 2B than at the opposite end (the anchor end 18) of the harness assembly where greater length free ends may be provided as illustrated in Figures 3 A and 3B. This allows the anchor end 18 of the harness assembly to be used to attach to an anchor point 14, whereas the first end 17 is typically used to attach the harness assembly to a vehicle wheel.

[0093] An alternative configuration is illustrated in Figure 14 wherein a transverse member 12 is attached at, rather than adjacent to the ends of the longitudinal members 11, and a loop 13 is provided on either end of the transverse member 12 rather than the longitudinal members 11.

[0094] In the context of the particularly preferred embodiment where the longitudinal members 11 and the transverse members 12 are both formed from webbing straps, the preferred method of attachment is stitching. This will normally create one or more seams through the material to be joined with one or more thread portions.

[0095] The strength of the attachment is generally dependent upon the stitch pattern used. Although a W-W stitch pattern is stronger than a box X pattern, the box X pattern is used in the preferred embodiment illustrated in Figures 2A to 3B. Also illustrated in those Figures is the different attachment 19 of the transverse members to the longitudinal members 11 which not only forms a loop about the longitudinal member 11 but which also stiches the loop to the longitudinal member 11.

[0096] A loop 13 is provided at either end of each of the longitudinal members 11 or, as outlined above in the alternative configuration, can be provided on a transverse member 12. This configuration allows attachment of either of the longitudinal members 11 to each other, to other portions of the harness assembly or to or about a remote anchor point.

[0097] In use, one end of the harness device 10 is attached to or relative to a vehicle wheel, normally the vehicle wheel 22 which is stuck or bogged.

[0098] According to a first configuration illustrated in Figures 4 to 13C, one end of the harness device 10 is attached to a vehicle wheel, normally to the rim of a vehicle wheel, preferably through an opening in the rim. According to this configuration, each end of each longitudinal member 11 is located adjacent the wheel and an elongate attachment member 20 is passed through the rim and attached to the loop 13 of both of the longitudinal members 11.

[0099] The elongate attachment member 20 is typically flexible as well. The elongate attachment member 20 can be provided in the form of a rope illustrated in Figure 12C, cable illustrated in Figure 12D, strap illustrated in Figure 12F or chain illustrated in Figure 12E, but a rope or strap is preferred as they are softer and therefore are less prone to inflicting damage on the rim of the wheel. Use of a rope or strap also allows the elongate attachment member to be attached to the loop portions by knotting for example through the loops as illustrated in Figure 11 where a knot 21 is formed on each side of the ladder device though each loop 13 after the elongate attachment member 20 is passed though an opening in a rim of the wheel 22.

[00100] This allows the harness device 10 to be attached to a wheel whether it is a forward or rear wheel and then drive the corresponding vehicle 15 toward the anchor point 14 (shown by an anchor symbol in the drawings, but which could be a tree, rock, another vehicle, etc.) to wind the harness onto the wheel in the direction 23 indicated in Figures 5, 6, 8 and 9 to draw the vehicle 15 from the hazard.

[00101] According to a second configuration illustrated in Figures 15 and 17, one end of the harness device 10 can be attached about the vehicle wheel. This can be achieved by laying a portion of the harness device 10 over an upper portion of the wheel of the vehicle 15 and attaching the free end of the longitudinal members 11 to an intermediate portion of the harness assembly about a lower portion of the wheel similarly to the manner of fitting snow chains to a wheel but with a portion of the harness assembly extending away from the wheel in the direction of the anchor point 14. Once the harness assembly is attached to the anchor point 14, the vehicle 15 can be driven in a direction towards the anchor point 14, the wheel will again act as a convex winch drum but in this embodiment, the load may be spread more evenly than in the first configuration which tends to impose load on the attachment member 20 by the edge of the opening on the rim.

[00102] In the present specification and claims (if any), the word 'comprising' and its derivatives including 'comprises' and 'comprise' include each of the stated integers but does not exclude the inclusion of one or more further integers. [00103] Reference throughout this specification to One embodiment' or 'an embodiment' means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, the appearance of the phrases 'in one embodiment' or 'in an embodiment' in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more combinations.

[00104] In compliance with the statute, the invention has been described in language more or less specific to structural or methodical features. It is to be understood that the invention is not limited to specific features shown or described since the means herein described comprises preferred forms of putting the invention into effect. The invention is, therefore, claimed in any of its forms or modifications within the proper scope of the appended claims (if any) appropriately interpreted by those skilled in the art.