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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
ELECTRONIC GEAR SHIFT LOCKING MECHANISM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1998/022316
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A locking mechanism (10) for locking a part (16) of a vehicle has (10) a mounting frame (22) with there being a slider (30) mounted on the mounting frame (22) and being able to move along its longitudinal axis relative to the mounting frame (22). The slider (30) is securely attached to the part (16) of the vehicle and has two openings (44, 46) therein to releasably receive locking bolts (52). The locking bolts (52) are mounted on the mounting frame (22) for reciprocal movement transverse to the slider (30) and are biased by a spring (60) to engage the openings (44, 46). A drive system to withdraw the locking bolts (52) from engagement with the slider (30) when the part (16) of the vehicle is required to be unlocked is also provided.

Inventors:
TOH THIAM SENG (SG)
Application Number:
PCT/SG1996/000021
Publication Date:
May 28, 1998
Filing Date:
November 20, 1996
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TOH THIAM SENG (SG)
International Classes:
B60R25/00; (IPC1-7): B60R25/06
Foreign References:
DE4116884A11992-11-26
US1743730A1930-01-14
GB2160485A1985-12-24
EP0260007A11988-03-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Morris, John (Ocean Towers 20 Raffles Place #17-00, Singapore 0, SG)
Download PDF:
Claims:
The claims defining the invention are as follows:
1. A locking mechanism for locking a part of a vehicle, the locking mechanism including: (a) a mounting frame; (b) a slider mounted on the mounting frame and being able to move along its longitudinal axis relative to the mounting frame; (c) the slider being adapted to be securely attached to the part of the vehicle; (d) the slider having at least one opening therein to releasably receive therein at least one locking bolt; (e) the at least one locking bolt being mounted on the mounting frame for reciprocal movement transverse to the slider; (f) the locking bolt being biased to engage at least one opening; and (g) a drive system to withdraw the locking bolt from engagement with the slider when the part of the vehicle is to be unlocked.
2. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 1, wherein the part of the vehicle is a gear lever of an automobile.
3. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 1, wherein the part of the vehicle is a gear shift rod.
4. A locking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the at least one opening corresponds to the neutral or park positions of the gear lever.
5. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 4, wherein there are two openings, one corresponding to the neutral position of the gear lever, and a second opening corresponding to the park position of the gear lever.
6. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 5, wherein there are two locking bolts, one for the first opening and one for the second opening, the first and second openings being axially and vertically spaced from each other.
7. A locking mechanism as claimed in nay one of claims 1 to 6, wherein the slider is connectable to the part of the vehicle by a securing bracket securably mountable on the part of the vehicle and a pivot link, the pivot link being able to move in at least two directions relative to both the securing bracket and the slider.
8. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 7, wherein the pivot link is connected to the slider by a universal joint to allow relative pivotal movement in at least three directions.
9. A locking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein the locking bolt is mounted in a housing mounted on the mounting frame, the at least one locking bolt having biasing means to bias the at least one locking bolt towards the slider.
10. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 9, wherein there are two vertically aligned locking bolts, each with its own biasing means.
11. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 9 or claim 10, wherein the biasing means is a spring.
12. A locking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 11, wherein the drive means includes a bolt link adapted to withdraw the locking bolt(s) when desired, and a motion means adapted to drive a linkage system to provide motion to the bolt link.
13. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 12, wherein the motion means is an electric motor connected to the linkage system by a rack and pinion gear.
14. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 13, wherein the rack of the rack and pinion gear has fixedly attached thereto a first end of a drive link, the drive link having a second end which is pivotally connected to an inner end of an intermediate link, the intermediate link having an outer end pivotally connected to the bolt link.
15. A locking mechanism as claimed in claim 14, including a holding link having one end thereof pivotally attached to the mounting frame, and another end thereof pivotally connected to the intermediate link between the inner and outer ends thereof.
16. A locking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 15, wherein the bolt link is connected to the locking bolt(s) in such a way to allow the bolt link and the locking bolt(s) to move to a locking position independently of each other.
17. A locking mechanism substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
Description:
ELECTRONIC GEAR SHIFT LOCKING MECHANISM FIELD OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a locking mechanism and refers particularly, though not exclusively, to a locking mechanism for vehicle gear-shift columns.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Vehicle thefts have grown at an ever-increasing rate and are now a major source of crime in most countries. Many attempts have been made to deter such thefts but, inevitably, those attempts have not proven successful in the long term. Those anti-theft devices which are exposed to view have not been successful as the exposure provides a thief with all the information required to overcome the anti-theft device.

For example, steering column locks have been in use for some time but, in general, have not assisted in reducing car theft. Devices such as "Club" locks have also not been of assistance.

A gear shift lock has been proposed where a mounting stand is fastened to the driver's side of the transmission console and a lock mechanism is fastened to the top of the mounting stand. A U-shaped hook is then passed around the gear lever and locked into the lock mechanism. The problem here is that the mounting stand and lock mechanismcare always in view. This can be unsightly, and lessen the value of the vehicle - particularly for luxury vehicles. Also, the U-hook is a separate component and can be easily lost. It must also be

stored when not in use, which is not always convenient. Furthermore, with the locking mechanism being exposed, thieves have ready access to be able to tamper with, override, release or dismantle the locking mechanism. This has lead to a lack of acceptance of such devices. Also, such systems are manually operated. Although the locking mechanism has, in some instances, been linked to the vehicle alarm and/or central locking systems the U- hook has to be manually removed and stored to enable the vehicle to be used, and located then inserted for the vehicle to be locked. This has lead to reduced usage rates for those installed in vehicles.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a locking mechanism which attempts to alleviate some or all of the above problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The invention therefore provides a locking mechanism for locking a part of a vehicle, the locking mechanism including: (a) a mounting frame; (b) a slider mounted on the mounting frame and being able to move along its longitudinal axis relative to the mounting frame; (c) the slider being adapted to be securely attached to the part of the vehicle; (d) the slider having at least one opening therein to releasably receive therein at least one locking bolt; (e) the locking bolt being mounted on the mounting frame for reciprocal movement transverse to the slider; (f) the locking bolt being biased to engage at least one opening; and (g) a drive system to withdraw the locking bolt from engagement with the slider when the part of the vehicle is to be unlocked.

Preferably, the part of the vehicle is the gear lever of an automobile. Alternatively, it may be a gear shift rod. More preferably, the at least one opening corresponds to the neutral or park positions of the gear lever. Most preferably, there are two openings, one corresponding to the neutral position of the gear lever, and a second opening corresponding to the park position of the gear lever.

Advantageously, there are two locking bolts, one for the first opening and one for the second opening. More advantageously, the first and second openings are axially and vertically spaced from each other.

The slider may be connected to the part of the vehicle by a securing bracket and a pivot link, the pivot link being able to move in at least two directions relative to both the securing bracket and the slider. Preferably, the pivot link is connected to the slider by a universal joint to allow relative pivotal movement in at least three directions.

The locking bolts may be mounted in a housing on the mounting frame, the locking bolts each having biasing means, preferably a spring, to bias the locking bolts towards the slider.

The drive means may include a bolt link adapted to withdraw the locking bolts when desired. A motion means is adapted to drive a linkage system to provide motion to the bolt link. Preferably, the motion means is an electric motor.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In order that the invention may be fully understood and readily put into practical effect, there shall now be described by way of non-limitative example only a preferred construction of a locking mechanism incorporating the principal features of the present invention, the description being with reference to the accompanying illustrative drawings, in which: Figure 1 is a side view of a locking mechanism of the present invention as installed when in the lock position; Figure 2 is a top plan view of the installation of Figure 1 in the lock position; Figure 3 is a top plan view corresponding to Figure 2, with the cover removed, in the lock position; Figure 4 is a top plan view corresponding to Figure 3, in the unlocked position; Figure 5 is a top plan view corresponding to Figures 3 and 4, in an intermediate position; Figure 6 is a schematic side view of the slider and pivot link in the unlocked position; Figure 7 is a schematic side view, corresponding to Figure 6, in the locked position; Figure 8 is a side view corresponding to Figure 1, of a second embodiment; and Figure 9 is a top plan view, corresponding to Figure 2, of the second embodiment.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS To refer to Figures 1 to 7, there is shown a locking mechanism generally designated as 10 for attachment to a vehicle chassis 12, or other similar, solid mounting location. Spacers 14 may be used to locate the locking mechanism 10 a suitable height above chassis 12.

The spacers 14 may be of varying height to suit different vehicles. The locking mechanism 10 is intended to be able to selectively lock and unlock a vehicle gear lever 16. A bracket 18 is secured to gear level 16 by bolts 20, or similar securing mechanisms.

The locking mechanism 10 includes a mounting frame 22, and a removable cover 24 attached to the mounting frame 10 by screws 26, or the like. Bolts 28 are used to secure the locking mechanism 10 to the chassis 12.

Mounted within mounting frame 22 is a slider 30, capable of reciprocating movement relative to mounting frame 22 in the direction of the longitudinal axis of slider 30. At a first end 32 the slider 30 has lug 34 extending axially outwardly therefrom. To lug 34 is pivotally attached a pivot link 36. The attachment is by means of a bolt 38, although a screw, rivet, pin and circlip, or split pin may be used, if desired. The pivot link is also pivotally attached to bracket 18, by means of an attachment lug 40 extending outwardly therefrom. Again a bolt 42 may be used for the pivoting connection between pivot link 36 and lug 38, although a screw, rivet, pin and circlip, or split pin may also be used.

The slider 30 is restrained against movement in other than the axial direction by the mounting frame 22 and cover 24. The slider 30 has two slots 44, 46 extending at least partially thereacross in a direction transverse to the longitudinal axis. The first slot 44 corresponds to the gear lever 16 being in the 'park' position (assuming the vehicle has an automatic transmission) and the second slot 46 corresponds to the gear lever 16 being in the "neutral" position. The slots 44, 46 are spaced apart axially as well as vertically as slot 44 is in the top surface 48 of slider 30, whereas slot 46 is in the lower surface 50 of slider 30.

Two locking bolts 52 are provided and which are spaced apart vertically so as to be vertically aligned with slots 44, 46. Therefore, only one is shown. The locking bolts 52 are located within a housing 54 mounted on mounting frame 22. The housing 54 has an opening 56 in its front wall 57 through which locking bolts 52 pass, but the opening 56 is smaller than the head 58 of locking bolts 52 so that the head 58 cannot pass therethrough.

A compression spring 60 is provided for each locking bolt 52 and which acts upon head 58 and wall 62 of housing 54 to bias the locking bolts 52 towards slider 30 and, when slider 30 is in the relevant position, into engagement with slot 44 or slot 46 as the case may be.

The movement of slider 30 is controlled by a drive mechanism. In the present instance, the drive mechanism has an electric motor 64j although any other form of motor, or a manually operated system, may be used.

Motor 64 has an output shaft 66 with a pinion gear 68 thereon, which is adapted to drive a rack gear 70 mounted for limited sliding movement in mounting frame 22. At its inner end 72, rack gear 70 has fixedly attached thereto a driving link 74, which is approximately inversely L-shaped. At its outer end 76, the driving link 74 is pivotally attached to the inner end 78 of an L-shaped intermediate link member 80. The other end 82 of link member 80 is pivotally attached to a bolt link 84. A holding link 86 is pivotally attached at one end 88 to mounting frame 22, and at the other end 90 to intermediate link 80.

Upon activation of motor 64 to unlock the locking mechanism 10, rack 70 is driven by pinion 68 to move rack 70 to the right (see Figure 4). This therefore causes driving link 74 to "pull" on inner end 78 of link 80. Due to the pivotal nature of the connection links 80, 86 they pivot about their ends 82, 88 respectively. As links 80, 86 are of fixed length, link 80 pulls on bolt link 84. At its inner end 86, bolt link 84 is attached to locking bolts 52 in such a way that the "pulling" on bolt link 84 causes locking bolts 52 to be withdrawn against the action of springs 60. With locking bolts 52 withdrawn from slot 44 or 46 as the case may be, the slider 30 is free to move. Therefore, gear lever 16 can be moved to allow the vehicle to be driven.

Upon locking being required, motor 64 is activated to have pinion 68 drive rack 70 to the left. Therefore, driving link 74 "pushes" on inner end 78 of link 80. Therefore, links 80, 86 move to the position shown in Figure 3. As a consequence, bolt link 84 moves to allow locking bolts 52 to move under influence of springs 60 to engage in slot 44 or slot 46, depending on the position of gear lever 16 and thus slider 30. The end 86 of bolt link 84 is attached to heads 58 of locking bolts 52 so that, if slider 30 is in a position whereby locking bolts 52 cannot engage in either slot 44 or 46, locking bolts 52 will press against the side of slider 30 until slot 44 or slot 46 can be engaged. Therefore, the linkage system may not fully return to the "locked" position until a locking bolt 52 engages slot 44 or 46

under the action of springs 60. Alternatively, the locking bolts 52 may have limited movement relative to link 84 to allow for the limited movement required for the final engagement into slot 44 or 46.

For example, if a vehicle was parked with gear lever 16 in the "reverse" position, and the locking mechanism was activated, locking bolts 52 could not engage either slot 44 or 46 as those slots correspond to the "park" and "neutral" positions respectively. If a thief was able to gain access to the vehicle and start the engine, for gear lever 16 to be moved to the "drive" position, it must pass through the "neutral" position. When passing through the "neutral" position, the lower of the locking bolts 52 would engage slot 46 to thus prevent the gear lever 16 being moved any further. The vehicle could not be driven.

The pivotal connections between end 76 of driving link 74 and inner end 78 of intermediate link 80; other end 82 of intermediate link 80 and bolt link 84; one end 88 of holding link 86 to mounting frame 22; and other end 90 of holding link 86 to intermediate link 80, may be by any suitable means including, for example, nuts and bolts, screws, rivets, pin and circlip, or split pin.

The slots 44, 46 may extend across slider 30 in full or in part. Also, brackets (not shown) may be used to retain slider 30 on mounting frame 22, if required. A minimum of one slot is required, although two are preferred.

Although "park" and "neutral" have been referred to, other gear selection positions could be used, with the location on the slider of slot 44 and/or slot 46, and/or the number of slots, being changed to suit the relevant gear selection position. For example, certain manual- transmission vehicles produced by SAAB require the gear lever to be in the "reverse" position for the key to be able to be removed from the ignition switch. Therefore, the slots 44, 46 in slides 30 would have to be changed to reflect this requirement.

The advantages of the locking mechanism 10 are that it can be attached to the vehicle chassis 12 under the console (not shown) so that not only is it out of sight, but it cannot be accessed by a thief in an attempt to dismember the connections, or override the locking systems. Furthermore, locking mechanism 10 may be controlled by an electronic controller (not shown) which may be remote from the locking mechanism 10. The electronic controller may be key operated; or be operated by a combination lock, card-key, palm print, finger print; or any other suitable system. It may also be operatively linked to

the vehicle alarm system so that the locking mechanism is in the lock position when the alarm is activated, and in the unlock position when the alarm is de-activated, Alternatively, the locking mechanism 10 may be linked to the vehicle ignition so that upon the engine being started the locking mechanism is moved to the unlocked position, and upon the key being withdrawn from the ignition lock, the locking mechanism 10 is moved to the lock position.

Furthermore, a coded operation may also be used. This required a tag (not shown) to be fitted to the ignition key. When the key is inserted into the ignition switch, the electronic controller senses the signal from the tag and detects the password incorporated therein.

Upon the password and signal being cleared as correct by the electronic controller, the locking mechanism will move to the unlock position. Upon the key being removed from the ignition switch, the electronic controller will move the locking mechanism 10 to the lock position.

Also, by being permanently attached to the gear lever 16, there is no manual operation involved. This is particularly emphasised by the use of an electric motor. Therefore, the locking mechanism 10 will operate at all required times.

The various components may be made of any suitable material, as required. For example, link 36 may be made of case-hardened steel, for example, to make destruction or cutting by a thief more difficult.

Figures 7 and 8 show a second embodiment where like reference numerals are used for like components. Here, the locking mechanism 10 is as before. However, lug 34 is connected to slider 30 by a universal joint 100. This is to allow link member 36 to be able to move in all necessary directions to allow for the movement of a manual transmission gear lever.

Link member 36 is pivotally connected (in any of the manners described above) to a connecting bracket 102 which, at its lower end 104, has lock screws or bolts 106 to maintain a secure connection to a gear shift rod 108.

It will be understood that the invention disclosed and defined herein extends to all alternative combinations of two or more of the individual features mentioned or evident from the text or drawings. All of these different combinations constitute various alternative aspects of the invention.

It will also be understood that where the term "comprises" or its grammatical variants, is employed herein, it is equivalent to the term "includes" and is not to be taken as excluding the presence of other elements or features.