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Title:
AUTOMATIC TIRE INFLATION SYSTEM WITH REMOVABLE AIR CONDUIT MEMBER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/038659
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An assembly for an ATI comprising a tube member forming a portion of a rotary union to be removed through an opening in a wheel without removing the wheel hub from the vehicle axle. The tube member may include a hardened shaft that is coupled to a fixed conduit providing a pressurized air source to a tire installed on the wheel hub. A bushing rotates with respect to the tube member to form the rotary union. The assembly is designed to be quickly serviced in the field, where the serviceable pasts are very inexpensive.

Inventors:
STECH CLYDE (US)
GAO ROBERT (US)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2018/056290
Publication Date:
February 28, 2019
Filing Date:
August 20, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
WHARTON VISION LLC (US)
International Classes:
B60C23/00
Foreign References:
US20020124926A12002-09-12
US20130199685A12013-08-08
US5240039A1993-08-31
US7975739B12011-07-12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KLINGER, Robert (Frisco, Texas, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims:

1. a bub cap -configured to couple to a vehicle wheel, bub; a tube member disposed within the hub cap and configured to couple to an. air souree port, the tube member configured to communicate air pressure from the air source port; and a seal assembly coupled to the hub cap, the tube; Bomber -forming- a rotary union with the seal assembly, the seal assembly having a selectively removable .member configured to create an opening in the seal assembly, the opening configured to allow the tube member to be withdrawn through the opening without removing the hub cap from the vehicle wheel hub.

2. The assembly as -specified in Claim 1 wherein the seal assembly comprises a removable cover configured to allow visual inspection of the rube member when removed..

3. The assembly as specified in. Claim 2 wherein the cover is axialiy aligned with the tube member.

4. The assembly as specified in Claim 1 further comprising an air distribution member coupled to the seal assembly and haying at least one distribution port configured to communicate pressurized air from me tube member to at least one tire coupled to the wheerhub. An assembly, comprising: a hah cap coufigured to couple to a vehicle wheei¾¾b; a tube nierabei" disposed within the bub cap and eOi#gured to couple to an air source port, the tube member configured to communicate air pressure from the air source port; and a seal assembly coupled to the hub cap, the tube member forming a rotary union, with seal assembly, the seal assembly being selectively removable from the hub cap to create an opening configured to allow me tube member to be withdrawn through the opening without removing the hub cap from the vehicle wheel hub; further comprising an air distribution member coupled to the sea! assembly and having at least one distribution port coniigured to commimicate pressurized air from the tube member to. at least one tire coupled to fee wheel hub. -wherein the air distribution member is rotatabie witli respect to the seal assembly such thai a distance from the at least one distribution port to a tire valve stern. of the at least one tire is selectively adjustable*

The assembly as specified hi Claim 4 wherein the tube member has an elongated passageway, and at least, one opening radially esteriding tluOugh the tube member from the passageway and in fluid communication with the at Ieasi: one distribtttio.ii port.

The assembly as specified in. Claim 4 wherein the air distribution member is selectively removable from the seal assembly.

The assembly as specified in Claim 4 wherein the seal assembly comprises a sealing plug extending - through -the air distribution member, tire sealing plug selectively removable from the air distribution member.

9. The assembly as specified in. Claim 7 further comprising a bushing disposed in the sealing plug, wherein the bushing is rotatably coupled to the tube member and forms the rotary union.

10. The assembly as specifiedin Claim 8, farther comprising a fluid path extending from the tube: member, through the sealing plug i and the bushing, and in fluid communication with the at. least one distribution port

11. The assembly as specified in Claim 8 wherein the tobe member has a tapered distal end engaging the bushing.

12. The assembly as specified is Claim 1 wherein the tube member is chromed.

13. The assembly as specified in Claim 1 further comprising a fast coupling configured to sealingly secure the tube member to the air source port.

14. The assembly as specified in Claim 13 wherein the -first coupling is a compression onion.

15. The assembly as specified in Claim i wherein the air source port comprises a conduit extending outwardly from a vehicle axle.

16. An assembly, comprising: a hub eap configured to eouple to a vehiele wheel hub; a tube member disposed within the hub cap and configured to couple to an air source port, the tube member configured to communicate air pressure from the air source port; and a seal assembly coupled to the hob cap and liaving a window,, the tube member forming, a rotary union with the seal assembiy, the seal assembly having a selectively removable member configured to create an opening in the seal assembly, the opening configured to allow the tube member to be withdravvii through the opening without removing the window from the seal assembly.

17, The assembly as specified in Claim 16 wherein the opening also extends thiough. the window.

Description:
AUTOMATIC TIRE INFLATION SYSTEM WXti REMOVABLE AIR

CONDUIT MEMBEit

TECHNICAL FIELD

10001] The present disclosure relates to automatic tire inflation (ATI) systems, including a Held serviceable system,

BACKGROUND

[0002] Automatic tire inSation systems have beenicommercially available for many years. They are configured to maintain appropriate tire pressure m tires of ^

including tractor trailers.

Ϊ0003] Commercial truck operators have struggled for years to balance me costs of ATI systems (AT1S) and associated servkiftg/repair labor and replacement parts with the benefits of the systems. To date * a majority «>f *he commercial trucNj operators have not adopted ATI systems, in part because titte benefits don't outweigh the cosjts and time. This is primarily due to the maintenance costs including labor and replacement parts, including shipping of parts, associated with rnaintaining the system over time, which can reach $400 or more present day. Moreover, pulling the trailer for service is a logistical issue. I

[0004] Sitartirig January 1, 2018, the U.S. Government is ramlementing fuel credits to truck operators who implement ATI systems, and r^iv^ air pressure systems. The ATI systems will receive the larger credits.

[0005} An improved ATI system that is afifordablis, has an extremely low cost of majnienance, and that even enables; others, such as dnvers^ owner/operators, or other repair persons to service the ATI systete, would be highly advantageous to operators to reduce costs, and also to increase the adoption of ATI in me industry .

l SUMMARY

[0007] An assembly for an ATI comprising a tube member fortamg a portion of a rotary union and configured to be removed through an opening in a wheef without removing the oil/grease hub cap from the vehicle axle wheel, hub. The tube meiaber niay include a hardened shaft coupled to a fixed conduit providing a pressttrized air source to a tire installed on the wheel hub, A bushing rotates with respeei to the tube member to form the rotary union. The assembly is designed, to be quickly serviced in the field, where the serviceable parts are very inexpensive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION Of ΤΪΙΕ DRAWINGS

[0008] Figure 1 illustrates an exploded sectional view of a hub cap and attached ATI system that is eorifigirred to rotatably couple to an axle and;, receive pressurized air from an air source;

[0009] Figure 2 shows an assembled side .sectional view of the ATI system and hub cap assembly of Figure 1 ;

[0010] Figure 3 illustrates a perspective v iew of the hard shaft;

[0031] Figure 4 ill ustrates a top view of the hard shaft of Figure 3;

[0012] Figure 5 illustrates a side sectional view taken along line A-A in Figure 4;

[0013] figure 6 illustrates an end view of the hard shaft;

[0014] Figure 7 illustrates a perspective view of the sealing plug;

[0015] Figure 8 illustrates a top view of the sealing plug ox Figure 7;

[0016] Figure 9 illustrates a side sectional view taken along line- A-A in Figure 8;

[0017] Figure 10 illustrates an end view of the sealing ping;

[0018] Figure 11 illustrates a perspective view of the rectangular block;

|ΪΜΜ9] Figure 1.2 illustrates a top view of the rectangular block of Figure 1 1 ;

[0020] Figure 13 illustrates a side .sectional view taken along line A-A in Figure 12;

[0021] Figure 14 illustrates -an end view of the rectangular block;

[0022] Figure 15 illustrates- -a perspective view of an installation tool;

[0023] Figure 16 illustrates an exploded view of the installation toof of Figure 15;

[0024] Figure .17 illustrates the installation tool in use to service;

[0025] Figure 18 illustrates the perspective view of the reed val ve;

[0026] Figure 19 illustrates an assembled side sectional view of the axle, wheel hub, oil/grease hub cap and ATI system: parts;

[0027] Figure 20 illustrates an exploded view of the hard shaft and the bushing;

[0028] Figure 21 illustrates a top view of the bashing,

[0029] Figure 22 iliastrates a sectional view of the bushing taken along line A-A in Figure 21; and

[0030 ] Figure 23 illustrates an embodiment of two seals: disposed about the hard shaft. [0031] DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBOBpffiMTS

[0032] The following description of example embddiraents provides information thai enables a person sMlled in the art to make and use the subject maiter set forth in the appended claims, but may omit certain details already well-known in the art. The following detailed description is, therefore, to be taken as illustrative and not limiting.

[0033] Fhe example embodiments may also be described herein with reference to spatial relationships between various elements or to the spatial orientation of various elements depicted in the attached drawings. In general, such relationships or orientation assume a frame of reference consistent wife or relative to a patient, in a position to receive treatment. However, as should be recognized by those skilled in the art, this frame of reference is merely a descriptive expedient rather than a strict prescription.

[0034] Referring to Figures 1 5 2, & 19, there is shown an ATiS: assembly generally at 10 having an oil/grease hub cap 12 that is configured to rotatably couple to a wheel huh 200 and receive pressurized air from an air source 16. Bolts 15 |¾steri the oil/grease hub cap 12 to the -wheel hub 200, An oil .fill line is shown at 19.

[0035] A conduit 18 is configured to route the pressurized air from -fee air source 16 through an asde 14. extends through a freeze plug 21 disposed in an open end 20 of the axle 14 md temtmates at a distal end 22 forming an air delivery porTwrfem fee oi!/grease hub cap 12. A circular disk 26 comprised of a transparent window or solid circular aluminum is coupled to the end -of fee oii/grease hub cap 12, where a seal 28 is sandwiched between an annular -face- of the disk 26 and an inside annular face 30 recessed in the oil/grease hub cap 12.

[0036] The disk 26 is secured to an outer annular face 32 of fee oil/grease hub cap 12 by an annular open retainer 34 by fasteners 36, where a gasket 38 is sandwiched between the window retainer 34 and the outer annular distal lace 32 of the oi!/grease hub cap 12, The fasteners 36 are received in corresponding threaded holes 40 defined in the outside annular face 32. The disk; 26, seal 28, retainer 34, fasteners 36 and gasket 38 together form a sealed arrangement Seal 28, gasket 38, retainer 34 and fasteners 36 are all standard on an industry standard cap. Disk 26 is a transparent window if the hub cap & wheel hub requires oil, and it is m alummutn disk if ' the hub cap & wheel hub: requires: grease, lliereiore, cap 12 is referred to as an oil/grease hub cap and member 26 is referr ed to as a disk.

[0037] One technical advantage of this disclosure comprises a removable hard shaft 50, as shown in Figures 3-6, Jorming a portion of the air delivery path that is configured to be selectively removed from the assembly 10 without, haying to remove: the oil/grease hub cap 12.· This can be quickly and easily done in the field, and is a tely inexpensive part. The hard shaft 50 is. preferably chromed dbecause of the high Rockwell hardness rating, Althonghtrhsis a more expensive process, the life of the hard shaft 50 is signiBeantfy increased and worth the cost, and. aiso because the cost of other serviceable parts is very inexpensive. There is less wear on. the hard shaft 50 and: the radial seal 54 because the finished surface has less wear on the seal and shaft.

[0038] The distal end of hard shaft 50 comprises: part of a rotary union. A, tubular compression union 52 and .compression fitting 53 is interposed between the proximal end of the hard shaft 50 and conduit 18.

|ft639f As shown in Figures 1-2, a radial, seal 54 seals against hard shaft 50, and is securingly received in an opening 58 formed: in the disk ·26, A sealing ping 60, as -shown in Figures 7-10, extends through an opening 62 formed in a rectangular: rotator 64, as shown in Figures 1 K14, and has a proximal end 66 extending through opening 58 of disk .26, A bushing/bearing 68 including a proximal radial seal 54 encompasses a distal end of the hard shaft 50 and is encompassed within the sealing plug 60, and forms the rotary union within the sealing plug 60 as well ax ' the reetangalar rotator 64. A threaded pipe plug 72 is threadahly received within threaded recess 74 fbrming an. opening in sealing plug 60. When the threaded pipe plug 72 is removed by a user, this allows the user to quickly and easily access and inspect the : hard shaft 50 through the opening 74. The thickness of the transparent windw/aluminum circular disk 26 is thicker than industry standard because it has to support the rectangle rotator 64. Snap ring 7-1 and oil pocket 73 are enclosed within sealing: plug 60. Additionally, when the pipe plug 72 is remo ved, a user can. shine a light into opening 74 to determine if the hard shaft 50 is in the correct placement. The sealing plug assembly 60, when removed by user, . allows the user to selective! y remove: the hard shaft 50 through the opening 62 in the rectangular rotator 64. A. pair of annular recesses 75 are formed near the flange portion 80 at the distal end of sealing plug 60 and receive (wrings SI which seal against the inside wall of opening 62 in rectangular rotator 64. A fastener 76 extends through opening 77 of the sealing ..plug 60 and into threaded opening 78 of the rectangular rotator 64 to align and secure: radial openings 88: of sealing plug 60 to openings 90 of the rectangular rotator 64, A plastic washer 79. receives the distal end of sealing plug 60 and is sandwiched between a flange portion 80 at the distal end of sealing plug 60 and rectangular rotator 64 about opening 62l

[0040] As shown. in Figures 3-6, 20. & 2L a distal end 87 of the hard shaft 50 includes radial openings 84 each radially extending from an elongated central passageway 85 to the exterior of the hard shaft 50. Pressurized air is communicated from the air source 16 and conduit 18 via passageway 85 and through openings 84 to provide fluid comnumi cation of pressurized air to radial openings 86 formed in bushing/beaTing 68, then radial openings 88 formed in sealing plug 6¾ w& then via radial openings 90 formed in rectangular rotator 64 to cavity 92. Air supply fittings 94 are received in cavity 92 and are configured to couple the pressurized air from cavity 92. via hoses ..(not shown} that are fluidly coupled to air valve stems of respective tires (not shown). Openings 86, 88, and 90 are all axialiy aligned, such as by fastener 76. In addition, the openings are aligned by pressing the bushing/bearing -.68 into the sealing plug 60 and then drilling a hole by placing a drill into opening 88 and drilling a hole into bushing/bearing 68 to make them align. Opening 88, and thus opening 86, will automatically align with, opening- 90 when installed.

[0041] Refemag to Figures : 3-6. the distal end 87; of hard shaft 50 is tapered, and includes openings 84, The tapered distal end 87 helps the sealing plug 60 receive the hard shaft 50 and align properly. A recess 89 formed in the distal end of bushing/bearing 68 allows the air to circulate from openings 84 around the hard shaft 50 to ajlow continuous air access to flow through openings: 80, 88, and 90. This same outcome can be achieved by fomiing a recess in hard shaft 50 about openings 84, similar to recess 89,

[0042] Referring to Figures 1.1-14, the rectangular rotator 64 has extensions 96 extending each side of cavity 92 to protect air supply fittings 94 from damage. A pair of annular recesses 98 are formed in cylindrical portion 100 to receive respecti ve o-ring 102 and snap ring 104 which provide ' a seal between the cylindrical, portion 100 and the disk 26. Advantageous iy, the rectangular rotator block 64 forms an air distribution member that is rotatahle with respect to the oil/grease hub cap 12 such that a distan ce from the cavities 92 to tire -valve stems of two tires is selectively adjustable based on the position, of " the rectangular rotator block 64. Thus, when a tire(s) is installed on the wheel hub 200, and the oil/grease hub cap 12 i s bolted via boks 15 to the wheel hub 200, the rectangular rotator block .64 c# be rotated as needed to establish the distance and allow the connection of the air hoses from" each of the cavities 92 via the air supply fittings 94 to the tire valve steins, without having to reposition the tire and wheel

[0043] Referring back to Figures .1-2, the compression union 52 and the compression fitting 53 will now be described in further detail. A metaL ferrule 1 1 is positioned in each side of compression union 52, and is encompassed by a respective compression fitting nut 13 to seal the compression fitting 52 against the conduit 18 and about the end of hard shaft 50 ' forming the union with distal end 22 of conduit 18. A non-metal ferrule 17 is also positioned over adistal end of compression fitting 53, and a 9/16" compression fitting nut 23 seals the compression fitting 53 about a midsection of the conduit I8 ;withm the freeze plug 21.. The use of anon-metalferrule allows repositioning of the conduit 18; at a later time if needed. Aplastic washer 25 extends around the compression fitting 53, and a lock nut. 27 is tightened about compression fitting 53 to seal and prevent oil- from entering back into a cavity 31 of axle 14. The freeze plug 21 seals the distal end 20 of axle 14, such that axle cavity 31 is sealed from the cavity within the oil/grease hub cap assembly.

[0044] Referring now to Figures 15-17, there is shown an installation tool at 120 configured to facilitate servicing or installation of the hard shaft 50 from within, the AXIS assembly 10 and oil/grease hub cap 12, without having to remove the oii/gireasc hub cap 12. An elongated tube .122 has a 9/16" hex nut 124 at the inboard end, and a 1/4" drive flanged socket head 126 at the outboard side and socket collar 129. The three pieces are joined by rosette welding ox pins via 4 pre-drilled holes 127 & 128 in the tube .122 on either end. The tool 120 is configured to be driven by a convention ratchet 130.

[0045] As shown in figure 17, servicing can be done in the field on the AXIS assembly .10 by a user. The user first: uses, an Allen wrench to remove the fastener 76 from the sealing plug 60. · : Next, the sealing plug 60 is removed along with washer 78 from within the opening 62 formed in a rectangul at rotator 64. [0046] At this point, the tapered distal end 87 of hard shaft 50 is viewable through opening 62. A bright light can be used to visually inspect the hard shaft 50 for any radial wear on the shaft and determine if it needs to be replaced. Theiihard shaft 50 can. be removed and replaced through opening 62 if necessary.

[0047] As shown in Figure 17, using installation topil 120. the tube 122 is inserted by the user through the opening 62 such that the 9/16" hex nut 124 at the inboard end is positioned about the head of the compression fitting nut 23 formed ahont the compression fitting 53. The ratchet 130 can be used to rotate the tube 122 which allows ¾ user to puil hard shaft 50 and the distal end of conduit.18 outside the opening 62 to replace hard shaft 50. Thi s repair can be done, without removing the oil/grease within hub cap cavity 210. :

[0048] Referring now to Figure 18, the freeze plug 21 has a reed valve assembly con sisting of a nut 204, a reed valve 205, a fastener 207 and opening 208. Afrivet could be used to replace the nut 204 and fastener 207 if desired. The reed valve 205 is positioned on a back side 203 of the freeze plug 21 over opening 208 and inside the axle cavi ty 31. The reed valve 205 acts as a one-way valve in that: it allows leaked air frorn a hub cavity 2.10 to flow through opening 208 into the axle cavity 31 and escape through a jbreather at the top of the axle 14 (which is not shown). Due to the size of the opening 208, a large amount of air is able to escape thus keeping a lower air pressure in the hub cap cavity 210 to prevent a seal failure. The reed valve assembly also holds oil inside the oil hub cap cavity 2:10, shown at line 19, and prevents the oil from entering the axle cavity 31, Additionally ; , the reed valve assembly keeps trash in the axle: cavity 31 from passing out -to the hub cap cavity 21:0 that could : contaminate the oil or grease in the cavity and. cause catastrophic failure of the bearings which lead to other problems.

|0β49] figure 19 illustrates a simplified assembled side sectional view of the axle, wheel hub, oil/grease hub cap and All system parts.

[0050] Figure 20 illustrates an exploded view of the ; hard shaft 50 and the bushing 68 including seal 69.

[0051] Figure 21 illustrates a top view of the bushing 68.

(00-52] Figure 22 illustrates a sectional view of the bpsMng 68 taken along line A- A in Figure 21 , [0055] Adjustable Shaft

[0054] The hard shaft 50 is connected to the conduit 18 that exits the top of the axle 14 and connects to the air source 16. The hard shaft 50 is connected to the compression union 52 so the shaft can be replaced when worn. This keeps the cost down" for replacements parts. The hard shaft: 50 is adjustable in that it is connected to the conduit 18 which has a segment extending distally beyond axle opening 20 that has an adjustable length. This conduit segment length is adjustable by using. tool. 120 to loosen the conipression fitting taut 23 on the compression fltiing 53, as previously described. This nut loosening releases thciplastic ferrule 17 from the body of compression fitting 53 with less effort and allows the longitudinal ffiovenient/repositiosing of the conduit 18. With regards to heavier trailer axles, the differences: ha X factor of the length/distance between the outbound outer edge 32 of the oil/grease cap 12 and the compression fitting 53 on the freeze plug 21 there are many different measurements.. This disclosure allows the user to Loosen the compression fiifing iroit 23 and adjust the length of the conduit segment distal axle opening 20 to properly fit the hard shaft 50 in ail axle hub configurations, so. that -one size of the hard shaft 50 fits, all installations.

[0055] In another embodiment of the disclosure shown in Figure 23, the bushing/bearing 68 could be replaced by adding a second outbound seal 54 in its place, where the inbound first seal 54 remains in. the same positioti as shown in Figure 1 , Figure 2, and Figure 20. A grease/iube pocket is formed about hard shaft 50 iff between the two seals 54. When pressurized, the inbound first seal 54 is the only seal that during rotation is sealing because the pressure pushes up against a lip of the first seal 54 to keepiair fr orn escaping between the lip and the hard shaft 50, Having -the seals 54 face each other creates the grease/iube pocket that keeps the .inbound, first seal supplied with lubricant for longevity of the seal. The outbound, second, seal 54 faces to wards: the inbound first seal 54 is so that it is supplied with grease/iube to give it. longevity in order to help the inbound first seal 54 which does all the work.

[0056] This disclosure has several, advantages, The AT!S assembly 10 does not need to be completely disassembled to. service a war part, which is a huge cost and time savings. Spare parts can be provided in a control box of a trailer that is easily accessible by a user, such as a new hard shaft 50, compression union 52, conipression^ fitting 53, and ; radial seal 54. The wear parts comprising hard shaft 50 and radial seal 54 are very inexpensive. Should a customer need additional parts, the shipping costs are minimal since the parts are fewer and thus less weight to pay for when shipped,

[0057] Moreover, a user doesn't have to drain oil or iremove grease from bub cap cavity 2X0 during the servicing of the hard shaft 5% and flius a user doesn' t have to refill oil or replace grease to repair, because the user does not have to remove the; oil/grease hub cap as with other systems. This. is- a- huge time savings and provides convenience.

P$S8f There is a huge labor savings because others,; such as. driver, truck stop mechanics, etc. can repair this system 1.0 anywhere, as opposed to only the customer's company maintenance facilhies. Therefore, there is less labor cost behaas© there is less time to diagnose and repair versos other systems.

[0059 ] Each air conduit 1- 8 leaving the control box 14 is independent of each oilier. This allows for better diagnostics if there are leaks by closing off one valve at a time (not shown).

[0060] The appended claims set forth novel and mventive aspects of the subject matter described above, but the claims may also encompass: additional subject matter not specifically recited in detail. For example, certain features, elements, or aspects may be omitted from the claims if not necessary to distinguish, the novel and inventive features from what is already known to a person having ordinary slat in the art. Features, elements, and aspects deseribed herein may also be combined or replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent, or similar purpose without departing from the scope of the invention defined by the appended claims.