Patent application title: Collapsible hose winding apparatus
James L. Mosher (Foster, RI, US)
Herbert H. Loeffler (Arlington, MA, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65H5440FI
Class name: Winding, tensioning, or guiding helical or random winding of material including particular material to spool connection
Publication date: 2011-09-15
Patent application number: 20110220756
An improved apparatus for winding hoses such as those used in the
firefighting industry. The apparatus includes a control mechanism adapted
for engagement by an operator to move the apparatus along a support
surface while concurrently controlling the winding of the hose. The
apparatus has an operating configuration and a storage configuration. In
the operating configuration the control mechanism is at a first height
convenient for the operator to move the apparatus backward and forward in
multiple directions while concurrently to control rotation of a hose
winder assembly. In the storage configuration the height of the control
mechanism is changeable to a second height which allows storage of the
apparatus in a substantially smaller space as compared to the operating
configuration. Movement of the apparatus from the operating configuration
to the storage configuration is enabled by separate wheeled front and
rear frame portions movable relative to each other and to the control
mechanism by a linkage arrangement. The linkage arrangement collapses and
folds the apparatus upon itself and thereby reduces the height of the
control mechanism with respect to the support surface.
1. An improved winding apparatus having a first configuration usable when
actively winding hoses and a second configuration suitable for storage
comprising, a control mechanism extending generally from front to rear of
said apparatus, said control mechanism adapted to be manually engaged by
an operator to move the apparatus backward and forward in multiple
directions on a support surface while concurrently controlling the
winding of said hose, a wheeled front frame portion supported on said
surface and located generally below said control mechanism, said front
frame portion including a first upwardly extending member rotatably
connected to said control mechanism near the end thereof remote from said
wheel, a wheeled rear frame portion supported on said surface and located
generally below said control mechanism, said rear frame portion including
a second upwardly extending member rotatably connected to said control
mechanism near the end thereof remote from said wheel, one of said
members including a channel along the longitudinal extent thereof, and
first and second connecting links rotatably coupled to each other at one
end thereof to form a coupling for movement along said channel, the other
end of one of said second links rotatably coupled to said control arm,
and the other end of said other link rotatably coupled to said first
member, whereby, starting in said second configuration, upward rotation
of the control mechanism about its connections with said members moves
said coupling upwardly in said channel and concurrently moves the
apparatus into said first configuration wherein the operator may
comfortably operate the apparatus, and downward rotation of said control
mechanism allows rotational movement of the control mechanism about its
connections with said first and second members to move the apparatus to
said second configuration in which the distance between the control
mechanism and the wheels is reduced with respect to the first
2. The apparatus of claim 1 further including a hose retainer assembly supported for rotation about an axis generally perpendicular to the longitudinal extent of the control mechanism, said control mechanism having manually operable control elements controlled by said operator for moving the apparatus along said surface and rotating said assembly.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said control mechanism is rotatably connected to said first and second members and said control mechanism rotates about said connections when moving between first and second configurations.
4. The apparatus of claim 1 further including a drive bar extending at a right angle from the control assembly for manually moving the apparatus forward and rearward by means of the operator pushing and pulling on said bar.
5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said drive bar supports a cylindrical shaft and a crank arm adapted to rotate said shaft to control the rotation by the operator of a retainer assembly, said retainer assembly supported for rotation on the control assembly to wind said hose on itself to form a rolled hose bundle.
6. The apparatus of claim 5 further including a sprocket and chain arrangement located in the control mechanism and coupled intermediate the crank arm and the retainer assembly to amplify the force applied by the operator to the retainer assembly.
7. The apparatus of claim 6 further including a brake arrangement including an activator biased to normally prevent operation of the sprocket and chain arrangement, said activator located for manual engagement by the operator when rotation of the retainer is desired.
8. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein said retainer assembly further includes means to grasp a coupling located at one end of the hose and in response to rotation of said crank arm to wind said hose on itself to form a rolled bundle.
9. A hose winding apparatus adapted for use by an operator to wind hose located adjacent the apparatus on the same support surface as the apparatus comprising, a split frame supported on wheels for movement back and forth along said surface, a control mechanism including a manually operable first member for effecting movement of said apparatus along said support surface, said control mechanism also supporting a hose retainer for rotation about an axis generally perpendicular to the longitudinal extent of the hose entering the apparatus, said control mechanism having a manually operable second member for controlling the rotation of said retainer, said retainer having means for grasping, during the winding process, one end of the hose to be wound and releasing said one end after said hose has been wound, and an adjustable linkage arrangement connected intermediate the frame and the control mechanism for supporting the mechanism at a first height during the winding process to allow said control mechanism to be at comfortable first position for the operator to use during the winding process, said linkage arrangement being adjustable to enable the movement of said control mechanism to a second height relative to said frame to reduce the storage volume occupied by the apparatus and thereby permit easier storage of the apparatus.
10. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein said split frame comprises a wheeled front frame portion and a wheeled rear frame portion, each having an upstanding member, each member rotatably connected to said control mechanism, one of said members including a channel running along its length, and said linkage arrangement includes two links connected to each other near one end of each link to form a coupling moveable along said channel, the other end of the links rotatably coupled to the control mechanism and the first member, to translate downward movement of the control mechanism into movement of the frame portions in directions to collapse the apparatus upon itself and reduce the storage volume of the apparatus.
 This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 12/315,925, filed on Dec. 8, 2008 in the name of James L. Mosher, which is a continuation-in part of application Ser. No. 10/937,559, filed on Sep. 10, 2004, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,461,807. The information in the applications noted above is hereby incorporated by reference into this application in its entirety.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 The invention relates to the field of winding and reeling fire hose, and in particular to an improved winding apparatus adaptable for wheeled transport to and from work sites as well as being able to be motorized for heavier duty applications. The framework has a pair of wheels or rollers and a winding device known as the retainer in the main section of the frame which is for reeling in the hose. There is a three part guide means located near the bottom of the apparatus for guiding the left and right as well as up and down movement of the hose, as well as knocking debris, rocks, etc., off of the hose.
 The device can be powered by hand by use of a hand crank and a set of gears adapted for a powered driving means, such as a battery or gas powered engine that can crank the gears and thence drive the retainer in order to wind the hose upon the retainer. The battery could be for example, a 12 volt dc battery.
 It is thought that the apparatus would be useful in many applications including winding heavy duty hoses such as those used for fire fighting, sewage treatment and off shore waste recovery operations. Such hoses may be as long as 500' in many applications and some hose may reach even greater length.
 It is an object of the invention to provide a means for winding heavy duty hoses and able to guide the hose onto a reeling means for an easier operation that can be manually powered or motorized.
 Another object is to provide a guide means in connection with the reeling means in order to perform steps of knocking off debris, guiding left/right and up down movements of the hose as it is being reeled.
 Another object is to provide a portable winding apparatus that may be readily transported into and out of rough terrain such as wooded or sandy areas and having wheels and a construction like that of a dolly.
 It is an object of the invention to provide a means for winding heavy duty hoses that can be adapted to fit various sized diameters of hose and can be used to store hoses after they have been reeled upon the device.
 A further object of the invention, particularly shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 9-16, is to provide an especially compact, portable and light apparatus suitable for facile movement by a single person and capable of being stored in a optimum, relatively small compartment in a transportation vehicle or for storage purposes.
 A still further object is to provide a winder that is operated in a first configuration and is easily transformed into a second configuration which occupies a smaller overall space for ease of storage and movement.
 Other objects of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art once the invention is shown and described.
DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
 FIG. 1 illustrates the overall configuration of the apparatus of the invention;
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the configuration of FIG. 1;
 FIG. 3 is an overall view of the retainer;
 FIG. 4 shows the details of the retainer;
 FIG. 5 is cross sectional view of the spacers;
 FIG. 6 shows the detailed construction of the guide;
 FIG. 7 is a side view of the rollers, guide and squeegee;
 FIG. 8 is a front view of the plates;
 FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the hose winder according to the invention from the upper right, rear of the preferred embodiment of the invention showing the front of the apparatus on the right side of the drawing and the rear of the apparatus of the invention on the left side of the drawing;
 FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing details of the underside of the guide assembly of the hose winder of FIG. 9;
 FIG. 11 is a right side elevation view of the winder of FIG. 9;
 FIG. 12 is a slightly enlarged plan view of the hose winder apparatus shown in FIG. 11 generally along the lines 12-12, as shown;
 FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the winder of FIG. 9 in its collapsed or storage configuration;
 FIG. 14 is a perspective from the left front of the winding apparatus of the invention showing a fire hose partially wound onto the hose retainer assembly;
 FIG. 15 is an elevation view of the winder from the rear of the apparatus and showing details of the retainer and the guide assembly; and
 FIG. 16 is a side elevation view of the winder of the winder
DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS
 The overall construction of the winding and reeling apparatus 2 is shown in FIG. 1. There are preferably two upright sidewalls 10 (only one is shown) in connection with a rigid base 9 and a back wall 11. The back wall is connected to the sidewalls on at least one edge and both back and side panels are connected to several edges of the base. The base is flat and designed to rest upon the ground or floor in the event that wheels are not in use (see further description below). The walls provide a framework and support for the various working parts of the apparatus 2.
 This framework may be constructed of metal, wood or other sturdy materials. The apparatus may be used in this configuration without wheels, or wheels 7 may be added to the frame, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Alternatively, a handcart (not shown) may be attached to the framework by means of bolts or other means and the handcart can then be used to transport the apparatus to wherever it is desired. Such heavy-duty hoses that find use with the invention may be used in rugged terrain such as forests and so a wheeled transporting means is desirable. It is preferred that the device be used in its wheeled configuration when a heavy-duty application such as winding hoses is desired. The sidewalls 10 may be constructed with hinges (62, see FIG. 1) in order-that they maybe folded back to rest against the back wall. This is an option, but it is thought to be a preferred option.
 A full scale version of the apparatus would be designed so that it can wind in large cross section, lay-flat, heavy-duty hose, such as a fire hose or hose used in sewage treatment. Such hoses are typically between 150 and 200 feet but may often be longer. Environmental control hoses, such as are used to clean up oil spills, and hoses used in municipal sewage treatment plants may also be used with the invention. Such hoses may run to lengths of thousands of feet and are very often wound manually.
 Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the sidewall 10 has mounted thereon a crank 3 and handle 5, which operate a belt 8 and pulley 4, 5 (or equivalent chain and gear arrangement) that is used to drive a hose retainer 24. The pulleys or gears may be coupled to one another by a belt or chain 8 or similar means for imparting rotary motion from a small diameter pulley or gear 5 to a larger diameter gear or pulley 4 to create an appropriate mechanical advantage, as is well known. The crank mechanism can be hand powered, FIG. 1, or powered by a motor which may be connected to a battery or to a residential or other power supply.
 The manual cranking version can be used for a heavy duty application such as a 150-200' hose. A motorized version could also be used for similar heavy duty applications and may find use in winding up even heavier hoses that may be 300-500 feet in length and weigh several hundred pounds. Such a motorized mechanism would be used in close proximity to the apparatus and is connected to the drive gear so as to reel in large heavy-duty hose and the like. Such a motorized device could be attached directly to the frame of the apparatus or simply used alongside it.
Details of the Retainer.
 The retainer can be used to reel in both "lay-flat hoses," such as fire hose and items that retain a circular cross section when not in use, such as rope or garden hose. When used without the spacers 18, the retainer is used for lay-flat hoses. This is the embodiment essentially shown in FIG. 3. When used with the two semi-circular shaped spacers 18, such as in FIG. 4, the retainer will roll up items of circular cross section.
 A cross-section view of the spacers 18 is shown in FIG. 5, where there is shown a square shaped eyelet 92 on the inside of each spacer that allows the spacer to be fit over the square shaped extension 24 of the retainer.
 The larger gear or pulley 4 is connected to the retainer 24. The retainer acts as a connecting point for one end of the hose, cable or whatever item is being wound (see FIGS. 3 and 4). One end of the item is brought into close connection with the retainer. The two pieces 16,24 of the retainer slide, or telescope, within one another and thus can accommodate hoses of various thickness. The two pieces are slid against one another so as to form a close fit around the hose.
 The two pieces may be locked into place by means of a thumbscrew apparatus (shown as 52) or other means that would allow the two pieces to move with respect to one another and which would allow these two pieces to be held in that position in relation to one another. In this manner, the two parts of the retainer can be fitted around the various size hoses. This would be at the start of the winding process so that the hose will remain in close connection to the winding apparatus as it is being reeled. The two parts of the retainer means are tightly joined to one another and this will secure that end of the hose so that it can be reeled in by motion of the crank as it turns the retainer.
 The detail of the retainer is shown in FIG. 3. Each of those pieces 16/24 has a pair of extending prongs that form a concave or arc shaped section. This may be like the shape of the letter "u" (the "u" is turned on its side) with piece 16 being shallower in depth. Each concave section is in turn, rigidly connected to a pair of parallel straight pieces. The straight sections are at either end of the concave sections. The straight sections should be constructed so that they may slide or otherwise be moved in relation to one another.
 For example, the straight sections of each piece may be made so that they telescope within one another, i.e. piece 16 goes into piece 24. The straight sections could be formed like a pipe or similar such device so that they would then telescope or slide with respect to one another. In the case of telescoping sections, the straight sections should therefore have one set of larger diameter than the other and be hollow so as to allow the other leg to slide within it. Piece 24 is thus long enough to extend over piece 16 and all the way to the plate 23 in FIGS. 3 and 4.
 It is not necessary that the telescoping sections be used since any construction that allows the two sections to slide with respect to the other would therefore be acceptable. For instance, there could be a track that is in connection with the straight sections so that they can move with respect to one another.
 Thumbscrews or similar such devices are preferably used in connection with the retainer pieces, so that these pieces can be locked into place and held in rigid manner so that one end of the hose can be secured to the retainer as it is being reeled in. That is to say, plate 22 is placed over the bracket 63. There is a rectangular shaped opening 87 in the middle of the plates 22 or 23 in order to provide for this, see FIG. 8. The plate is then secured to bracket with bolts, etc. (see bolt holes 80 in FIG. 8.) These bolt holes near the center of the plate and above and below-the rectangular opening, show the position for the bolts to secure plate 22 to the angle bracket 63. Note additional holes 85 near the periphery of the plate are used to secure the bundle of hose after it has been wrapped. This is down by using string or rope that is looped through holes 85 and around the bundle of the hose.
 Retainer piece 16 is placed inside plate 23, again see the aperture in the middle of this plate in FIG. 8. Extension 24 will slide over 16 so that the end of 24 will slide past plate 23 where it will be engaged by thumbscrew 52 in FIG. 4. The same connection is used without the spacers, that is to say, the thumbscrew, plate and extension arrangement is used both with and without spacers.
 The sleeve inserts 18 are used in connection with the two pieces (see FIG. 4). Each is semicircular in shape and has a square shaped eyelet inside in order to be supported on the extending portion of piece 24. The sleeve inserts are of a shape and size to support hoses, rope, etc. of circular cross section. The inserts will hold the two plates 22 and 23 apart from one another at various pre-determined distances to accommodate a certain amount of hose being wound. Thus the inserts will provide a support surface on the inside of the middle of the core of rope or hose that is being formed by the reeling.
 After the hose has been reeled, it is necessary to remove this bundle (the coil of hose) from the retainer. The thumbscrews 52 are loosened and the user pulls on the retainer 16 in FIG. 4. The reel plate 23 will now easily slide off retainer piece 16 since it was held by the pressure from the back of 16 vis a vis the spacers. When the thumbscrew is loosened, piece 16 comes off of 24 and there is no longer any pressure to hold the plate 23 in place. A similar situation holds the plate when the spacers are not used. Removing the plate 23 will partially release spacers 18 which will now fall into the middle of the retainer core since there is no longer anything to urge them against the inside of the coil of hose, rope, etc. After removing plate 24, the spacers 18 are easily removed.
 After all applicable work is done by the reeling process, the bracket 63 along with the plate 22 are removed by loosening the bolts 80. The six pieces that comprise the reel can now be stowed for use later.
Three Part Guide System.
 There is a three part guide and cleaning arrangement 12 near the bottom of the framework, see FIG. 1. The arrangement 12 comprises a set of rollers 34/36; squeegee 40 and left and right guides 32 and 33 that work more or less in conjunction with one another in order to guide the hose onto the retainer 24 and remove rocks, etc. that may interfere with this process. The side view FIG. 7 shows the relationship among these members including the hose 72 as it is being pulled through this part of the system. Note that the squeegee 40 is under the roller 36 and should be about as long as that roller.
 The squeegee 40 is located on the base so that it will contact the bottom of the hose as it is being wound. It is preferred that the squeegee be approximately 2'' wide and 7'' long and perhaps 1/4'' thick. Such dimensions are merely preferred and should not limit the scope of this aspect of the device. The squeegee may be attached between the base 32 and roller supports 48. The squeegee should be composed of rubber or similar substance and its purpose is to knock dirt, rocks, etc. off of the hose as it is being reeled in. Rocks in connection with the hose may cause holes to be put in the hose in the event that the hose is reeled up with the rocks still in among the hose wraps.
 There should be at least two guides, known as left and right guides 32 and 33 positioned on the frame so that they will be on each side of the hose as it is being reeled in. The guides should be adjustable in nature so that they can be set at a position to accommodate hoses of various thicknesses. A support 46 with slots 50 can be used for this purpose. A thumbscrew can be used in connection with the slot in order to provide a sufficient adjustment means for most applications. The adjustment would be of left and right direction so the guides can be adjusted for larger or smaller diameters of hose.
 The guides would be positioned and then locked into place via the thumbscrews or other similar means. The purpose of the guides is to keep the hose from moving left or right as it is being reeled. One guide and support is shown in detail in FIG. 7. The guide would preferably be of circular cross section although other shapes are possible. Both left and right guides are of similar or same construction, they do not have a "handedness" to them.
 There are rollers 34 and 36 near the bottom of the frame and positioned so that one will be above and one will be below the incoming hose (again see FIG. 7). The rollers are held by supports 48 (not shown in FIG. 7 in the interest of clarity) that may simply be angled pieces of metal or other sturdy material. The rollers 34 and 36, are used to squeeze the incoming hose 72 as it is turned upon the retainer and the pressure of the rollers will force water out of the hose as it is being reeled in. The relative position of the rollers and their spacing vis-a-vis one another should be determined by the type of hose being wound and other considerations which may be-determined by trial and error. Water in the hose will make the reeling process more difficult and the hose will not roll up as well--hence the use of rollers. The rollers may be constructed so that they are adjustable in position to accommodate hoses of different thicknesses. The rollers may also be detachable from the frame in order to substitute a different set of rollers, should that be necessary.
 The squeegee or abrading means 40 may be attached to the frame in a triangular relation with the rollers 34/36 as seen in FIG. 7. The squeegee should be co-planar with one roller and beneath the other roller in this embodiment. This feature is very useful since water left over in the hose after the job has been done can effect any large scale industrial reeling process since the water will impart additional bulkiness and weight to the hose and this, in turn, will increase the size and weight of the hose after it has been wound upon the retainer. Thus, having rollers to squeeze water out of the hose as it is reeled in will greatly enhance the reeling process.
 As the hose is being reeled in, it will be guided past the squeegee and through the rollers to remove dirt, etc. The two rollers turn freely and therefore rub and interact with the incoming hose. For heavy duty applications, where it is desired that the device can be rolled or pushed into the woods, for example, the squeegee section of the device will have to be attached to the side walls at a point further up the walls so that the device may be transported over broken ground without logs, rock, etc. impinging on the squeegee as the device is carted over such ground. There should be a gap between the rollers of a size that they are able to accommodate whatever item is being wound upon the apparatus.
Variations, Options, Refinements, etc.
 For heavy-duty applications, the crank can be connected to a motorized means such as a hydraulic powered drive. Alternatively, a heavy-duty-battery operated source of power can be used to turn the cranking section of the device automatically. Obviously, such machine assisted reeling and winding would have its greatest utility in reeling heavy equipment such as heavy hoses used in fire fighting, industrial clean up, sewage treatment, etc. An engine of this sort can be used alongside the apparatus or such an engine may be actually attached to the apparatus. The motorized machine would be used to provide motion to the crank and thus impart heavy torque force to the winding sections of the apparatus.
 In a similar manner, the apparatus may be attached to a wheeled handcart or similar wheeled device in order to allow the apparatus to reel in hoses, on site. This could perhaps be out in the woods where there are rocks, and logs on the ground and this would impact on the mobility of the device. Again, it is thought that this type of operation would be for a heavy-duty application such as reeling in fire hoses from a fire out in the woods. With that in mind, there are bolt holes 95 provided along the side walls of the apparatus in order to allow the apparatus to be bolted to a wheeled cart in order that that the apparatus can have added mobility. The squeegee roller subsystem described above would be of great usefulness in such applications.
 Optionally, wheels 7, FIGS. 1 and 2, may be added to the base in order to make the apparatus function in a manner similar to a wheeled handcart; i.e., the wheels would be near the bottom edge of the apparatus so the device can be pivoted and wheeled into place. In addition to the provision of wheels or rollers on the bottom of the apparatus, the invention might have a third wheel that is deployable from for example, the back wall of the frame. This third wheel may be retractable and fold up into the back of the apparatus when not in use. It is useful to be able to pivot the apparatus upward by means of the third wheel so as to provide greater clearance in the front of the device so that the hose can travel over the front of the apparatus.
 FIG. 1 shows the angle brackets 48 as a means on which to mount the rollers (34/36). The sidewall 10 may also be of hinged construction (see hinges 62 in FIG. 1) so as to permit this wall to fold flush against the back wall 11 or against one another as the case may be. There is an aperture 65 cut in the back wall to permit the nub of the shaft 90 to fit into this aperture when the sidewall is folded against the back wall, see FIG. 1. The side wall 10 will then be able to rest flush against the back wall 11.
 The nub 90 is a part of the retainer construction shown in FIG. 1 and this part of the retainer would remain once the retainer 24 is removed.
 The base may fold against the side or back wall in the same manner by using means to promote hinging or folding action. With that in mind, the base may be constructed in two parts with hinges along the line 66 in FIG. 1. The line depicts the two parts of the bottom wall that may have a hinge along the line, in order to permit a part of the base to fold back upon itself, see FIG. 1.
 A holder or shelf 42 (see FIG. 1) may be used in connection with the top of the apparatus. The holder is used to store one or more rolled up hoses after they have been reeled in. The holder may be comprised of a shelf or similar type of unit that is held in connection with the top of the framework by a chain or a similar means that will allow the shelf to be deployed downward when it is desired to store the item on the shelf and so that it can be folded upward when it is no longer needed.
 As stated above, in the event that the apparatus is enhanced with the use of a wheeled attachment it is believed that the squeegee section would have to be elevated in relation to the bottom sides of the sidewalls of the apparatus. Thus, it would be attached to the walls of the apparatus at a point higher up along the walls than that shown in the drawings. This is so as to leave a proper amount of clearance between the bottom of the device and the ground that the apparatus may be hauled over rocks, logs, etc.
 For less heavy duty applications, a hand crank 6, FIG. 1, may be used on the apparatus. The device could be downsized for lighter applications, such as those used in routine household applications such as winding things like garden hoses, yarn, twine, string, rope, etc. The device would obviously be made on a smaller scale than the larger scale device that is designed to reel in heavy duty hoses.
 Lighter applications, such as using the apparatus in a domestic setting to wind string, would not require powerful machinery in order to drive the crank and the gears. A manual device, i.e., where the crank is powered by hand, would be sufficient for these applications. Hence, the powered assist for the crank would only be used as the occasion warranted it.
 It is seen that the invention of FIGS. 1-8 provides a unitary assembly 2 for winding and reeling a hose or similar item. The assembly 2 may be mounted permanently to an immobile or fixed support structure for continuous use in place. Alternatively, the assembly is adapted to be readily removed from its associated permanent structure and mounted to a mobile mounting structure, such as a handcart or fire truck for movement to a location of use for its intended winding and reeling function.
 A preferred embodiment of the winding and reeling apparatus of FIGS. 1-8 is illustrated in FIGS. 9-16. This embodiment provides an apparatus which is lighter, more compact and more easily moved from place to place during use, as will be understood from the description hereinafter. The winder of FIGS. 9-16 has a first or operating configuration, shown in FIGS. 9-12 and 14-16 for use during the actual hose winding operation, and a second, non-operating or storage configuration, FIG. 13, into which the winder is placed when transporting it from place to place or when it is being stored, as will be described hereinafter. As will be readily apparent from the description, the second or storage configuration of the winder of the invention has the characteristic of occupying a substantially smaller storage volume than the first or operational configuration. The second configuration is formed by moving the major subassemblies of the winder towards each other to fold or collapse elements of the winder with respect to each other, as will be explained in more detail hereinafter.
 Referring primarily to FIGS. 9-16, there is shown the preferred embodiment 100 of the hose winder described in FIGS. 1-8. Many features of the invention of FIGS. 1-8 have been incorporated into the preferred embodiment 100 of FIGS. 9-16 in either substantially the same or slightly modified form, without substantial change in their overall structure or function and will therefore be only briefly described.
 The apparatus 100 is generally seen to comprise a control mechanism 105 supported on a split frame support assembly 106 comprising a wheeled front frame portion 110 and a wheeled rear frame portion 130. The control mechanism 105 comprises a control arm 150 which, in turn, supports a hose retainer assembly 170 for grasping and winding the hose and an operator control assembly 108 including means for an operator to move the apparatus and control the operation of the hose retainer assembly 170.
 The wheeled front frame portion 110 includes a generally horizontal, frame plate 112. The plate 112 has attached thereto, by means of suitable brackets and bolts, a hose cleaning and guide assembly 160 including a pair of spaced side rails 189 and rollers 161 supported for rotation between the side rails. The rollers are mounted one above the other to rotate in aligned pairs of holes 183 in the side rails. The side rails 189 are coupled to each other by a connecting member 187 to form a support frame 191. The support frame also carries hose centering guides 185 which are L shaped and overlap each other on one leg of the L. Slots (not shown) are formed in the central portions of both of the overlapping legs 185. Adjusting bolts 188 are carried by the connecting member 187 and pass through the overlapping slots to allow movement of the guides with respect to each other to thereby control the distance between the guides. The guides 185 operate generally in a manner analogous to the guides of the earlier embodiment shown and described in FIG. 1 above. The distance between the guides 185 along the plane through which the hose passes is adjusted to be slightly larger than the width of the hose being wound.
 The roller 161 at the top of the side rails 189 is supported for rotation between the side walls of a U shaped carrier 193. One side wall of the carrier forms the rotatable part of a hinge 199, the fixed part of the hinge comprising the upper portion of rail 189. The uppermost roller 161 is mounted on a shaft which is biased outwardly to pass through aligned holes (not shown) in the carrier 193 and the side rails 189. As a result of the above structure, the uppermost roller 161 may be released to swing outwardly about the shaft of the hinge 199 approximately 270° to come to rest generally parallel with and outside of the side rail 189. The roller is released by manually pushing the shaft farthest from the hinge inwardly to release it from the rail and thereby allow it to swing about the hinge pivot.
 Each of the side rails 189 of the frame 191 is mounted for rotation on brackets 196 about rotatable bolt and nut connections 197 passing though aligned holes in both brackets and side rails. The brackets are L shaped with one side of the L of each bracket bolted to the plate 112 and the right angle of the Ls facing each other. The other side of the L of each bracket has two notches (not shown) which are angularly displaced from one another by an arc shaped ridge (not shown). A locking bar 198 is supported in aligned openings in the bottom of each of the rails. The bar 198 comprises a thin, elongated member extending between the brackets 196 and aligned with the above noted slots therein. The bar 198 is solid across its length except for two rectangular openings near each end of the bar. The bar is spring biased so that solid portions of the bar are normally seated in each of the slots in the brackets 196 to prevent rotation of the frame. The bar is, however, movable by the operator against the bias to align the openings in the bar with the ridges in the brackets and thereby permit rotation of the frame 191 relative to the brackets from each of the above noted stable positions to the other. Thus, the frame is always in one or the other of the noted stable positions, but is moveable to the other by the operator. One of the stable positions noted above is called herein the "operating position" of the cleaning and guide assembly 160, and is shown in FIGS. 14 and 16. The other stable position is termed the "storage position" of the assembly 160 and is shown in FIG. 13 and in dotted lines in FIG. 16, as will be explained in greater detail hereinafter.
 A rubber squeegee 184 similar to that shown in FIGS. 1 and 7 is also mounted on the bolts 188 to clean the hose 162 as it enters the winder. Several alternate arrangements may be employed to allow for holding the frame 191 and thereby the guide assembly 160 in one of the above noted stable positions and no patentable significance is associated with the precise manner of accomplishing this result. The rollers, guides and rubber squeegee are constructed and are designed to operate in a fashion similar to the like functioning elements shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 1-8.
 The frame plate 112 is also provided with a pair of axles 117 from which are mounted a pair of rubber wheels 116. The size of the wheels 116 is selected to provide smooth turning and movement for the apparatus during passage over uneven ground.
 The frame plate 112 also supports an elongated, rigidly attached, upwardly extending member 114 near one end of the plate 112, directly below the control arm 150. The member 114 includes a relatively short extension 111, seen best in FIG. 11 extending at a right angle to member 114 and attached by a suitable nut and bolt arrangement 115. The rear facing end of member 111 is rotatably connected to the control arm 150, which is part of the aforementioned control mechanism 105, by means of a bolt 157 which passes through aligned holes in the extension 111 and the control arm 150. The bolt 157 is held in place by an appropriate nut, the center line of the bolt establishing an axis of rotation 151, FIG. 15, about which the control arm 150 rotates with respect to the member 114, as will be explained in more detail hereinafter.
 The aforementioned rear frame portion 130 comprises a horizontal plate 132 and an upward and frontward extending member 134 rigidly connected to the plate 132 on one end thereof. The member 134 is as a hollow, four sided piece having a rectangular cross section. At its other end, the member 134 is rotatably attached to the control arm 150 and the extension 111 for rotation about the aforementioned common axis 151 by means of the bolt 157.
 It should be appreciated that while the control mechanism 105 is shown and described above as being jointly supported for rotation about the front frame portion 110 and rear frame portion 130 along the common axis 151, it is important to understand that the control assembly 105 alternatively may be supported by separate, rotatable connections to the front and rear frame portions 110 and 130, respectively, at different locations on the control arm 150, rather than at a common axis connection 151, as shown.
 The horizontal plate 132 also has mounted therefrom a pair of standard casters 144. The casters 144 each include wheels 146 and conventional locking mechanisms operated by foot levers 143 to hold the wheels, and thereby the winder 100, in a locked position. While two casters have been shown in the drawings, it is equally possible to use a single caster arrangement in a well known manner.
 Referring to FIGS. 9, 15 and 16, an elongated channel 138 is formed along the longitudinal dimension of the upwardly extending member 134 in the side wall facing the center of the apparatus. Elongated connecting links 141 and 142 are rotatably connected to each other at one end of each link by means of aligned holes through which passes a bolt 140. The bolt 140 has a head 145 and nut (not shown) which together hold the links to each other for movement along the channel 138. The details of this arrangement are standard and, for this reason, are not shown in great detail. But, to this end the head 145 and nut of the bolt 140 are larger than the aligned holes in the links and larger than the width of the channel 138. The head 145 is shaped to allow manual tightening and loosening of the bolt to allow or not allow for movement of the bolt and links along the channel 138, as desired. Adjustment of the head 145 to accomplish the changing of the configuration of the apparatus from the operating to the storage configuration will be described in detail hereafter.
 The other end of the connecting link 142 (the end remote from the adjustable head 145) is rotatably attached to the control arm 150 by a bolt and nut arrangement 149, FIG. 16, or other suitable connector at a point intermediate the common axis 151, FIG. 15, and the end of the control arm remote from the common axis. The other end of the connecting link 141 (the end remote from the adjusting head 145) is rotatably connected to the upstanding member 114 intermediate the common axis 151 and the horizontal plate 112 by means of a similar nut and bolt combination 127. The operation of the links 141 and 142 in enabling the apparatus to move from the first or operating configuration to the second or storage configuration will be described hereinafter.
 The control arm 150 comprises a hollow steel conduit having a rectangular shape in cross section and taking the form as generally seen in the drawings. The control arm may be formed using a variety of conventional methods which do not form a part of the invention. The method chosen for this embodiment generally comprises forming the arm 150 from upper and lower U shaped members, the members being joined by interfitting the legs of the Us and using a series of nuts and bolts 104 which pass through aligned apertures and extend across the conduit and through the legs of the adjacent interfitted Us at appropriate points along its length to add strength and rigidity, as needed.
 The control arm 150 supports near the end thereof remote from the crank handle 158 a hose retainer shaft assembly 153, as best seen in FIGS. 12 and 15. The retainer shaft assembly 153 comprises a rotatable shaft 154 and the associated structure to mount the shaft 154 for rotation about an axis perpendicular the longitudinal extension of the control arm 150. The shaft 154 has an axial opening (not shown) of standard size facing away from the control arm into which retainer assemblies usable for various purposes may be mounted. The shaft support arrangement 153, is one of several well known designs for this purpose, does not form a part of this invention and will not therefore be described in great detail.
 As best seen in FIGS. 9 and 15, a hose retainer assembly 170 is attached to the shaft 154 for rotation thereby. The retainer assembly 170 is generally similar in construction and operation to the retainer described above with respect to the embodiment of FIGS. 1-8 and, for this reason, will not be described in great detail here. It is seen to include a hose capture mechanism including opposed inner first and second "arcuate shaped" members 171 and 172, the open sides of which are arranged to face each other.
 It should be understood that the term "arcuate shaped" as used herein is meant to include any structure having opposed wall segments spaced from each other to form a large entry space, the opposed wall segments located more distant from the entry space gradually approaching each other to form a gradually narrowing space with a much smaller distance spanning the opposing wall segments. Included in the definition would be opposed V shaped elements with the open parts of the Vs facing each other. The important functional feature of such shapes is that they may together grasp or trap a large variety of differently shaped pieces having an unknown diameters successfully between them. One of the open arcuate shapes is arranged to move toward and away from the other or both may move toward and away from each other so as to jointly grasp and hold the unknown sized object.
 One of the members 171, 172 is arranged to move toward and away from the other so as to jointly grasp and hold the hose coupling 163, as best seen in FIG. 14, located on one end of the hose 162 being wound. More particularly, the grasping mechanism grasps and holds the hose coupling located on one of the opposed longitudinal ends of the hose, in particular a fire hose. The hose retainer assembly is similar in structure and function to the retainer arrangement shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 of the earlier described embodiment of the invention.
 Referring to FIGS. 9 and 15, member 171 is carried within a larger U shaped bracket 174 mounted on the shaft 154 having outermost legs which extend away from the control arm 150. Another U-shaped or arcuate shaped bracket 172 extends toward and slides between the legs of the bracket 174. The arcuate shaped formation 172 on the bracket 173 cooperates with the analogous formation 171 on bracket 174 to capture or grasp the hose coupling 163, FIG. 14, located on one end of the hose being wound, as mentioned above. A locking bracket 175 has spaced openings which are pushed over the abutting portions of the legs of the brackets 173 and 174 to adjust the tightness of the capture. The adjustment screws 176 are selectively tightened and loosened to fix the spacing between the inner formations 172,173 and thereby to capture the hose coupling. The retainer 170 is then rotated to roll the hose on itself to form a coiled bundle 190, as seen in FIG. 14. In order to release the hose after it has been wound, the screws 176 are loosened to first release the inner bracket 173 holding the hose coupling in place and the rolled bundle of wound hose is removed from the retainer assembly 170 by pulling it off the outer bracket 174 in a similar manner, as described with respect to the previous embodiment of FIGS. 1-8.
 As best seen in FIGS. 9 and 12, the control arm 150 has rigidly mounted to its rearward facing end a drive tube 152 extending at a right angle to the arm 150. The tube 152 allows the operator of the apparatus to move the apparatus forward or rearward by the application of a forward or rearward directed force to the tube 152. The operator also may press down on the tube 152 to raise the front wheels off the ground and turn them into a new, desired direction to move. Next, the front wheels are returned to the ground and the operator pushes forward on the tube 152 in the new direction with the rear casters 144 pivoting to permit the winder to move in the chosen direction.
 The tube 152 contains a shaft 125 fixed within the tube for rotation on bearings 201 located in opposite walls of the control arm 150. At the end of the shaft 125 remote from the arm 150 there is attached a crank arm 155 by means of a pin (not shown) removably captured in a hole through the shaft 125. Removal of the pin from the hole permits the crank arm 155 to be released from the end of the tube 152 as shown in FIG. 12 and replaced on the other end of the shaft to accommodate a left handed operator. The other end of the crank arm 155 is connected to a handle 158 extending at a right angle to the crank arm. The handle rotates freely on a post or stub fixedly mounted to the crank arm 155.
 The other end of the shaft 125 is connected to a chain and sprocket assembly housed within the control arm 150. The chain and sprocket assembly is similar in structure and function to the chain and sprocket assembly shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The chain and sprocket assembly comprises a first small driving sprocket 210 fixed to the shaft 125 and located near the narrow end of the control arm 150. The sprocket 210 drives a larger, driven sprocket 215 mounted to the shaft 154 located in the wider end of the control arm 150 via a chain, not shown, but the center line of which is identified as 213 in FIG. 12. The chain and sprocket arrangement imparts rotary motion with mechanical advantage (preferably 3:1) from the crank arm 155 through the sprocket arrangement to the shaft 154 and thereby to the hose retainer 170, as described above. The construction and mounting of the sprockets and chain and their specific design is well known in the art and need not be elaborated upon any further for the purposes of this arrangement.
 A brake mechanism is provided to allow the operator to prevent the unwinding of the hose during the winding process. The brake mechanism comprises lever 211 which is normally biased into the engaged or activated position, shown in FIG. 12, in which a braking element 214 mounted on the end of the lever 211 is biased by a leaf spring 212 into engagement with the sprocket 210 to prevent rotation thereof. The lever 211 is positioned to be squeezed by the operator to rotate the end of the lever 211 in the direction to release the brake by removing the element 214 from engagement with the sprocket 210. One end of the lever 211 is located adjacent the tube 152 so that the operator may easily disengage the brake when it is desired to wind hose onto the retainer. The location of the lever also permits the operator to simultaneously rotate the crank handle 15 and push on the drive tube 152 to move the winder in any chosen direction. Disengagement of the brake may be maintained while concurrently continuing the hose winding process. If the operator moves away from the winder for any reason, the lever 211 is automatically released and the braking element is again biased into the engaged position and the hose is prevented from unwinding by the return of the element 214 into engagement with the sprocket 210.
 The winding and reeling apparatus 100 of the invention is shown in a first or operating configuration in FIGS. 9 and 11. The apparatus is used by an operator in this configuration, to wind hose lying on the surrounding support surface. In this operating configuration the control arm 150 of the control mechanism 105 is at a height which is comfortable or appropriate for the operator to move the winder, if desired, in the direction of the hose to be wound. This movement is accomplished by the operator exerting a force on the push tube 152 to move the apparatus in a forward or rearward direction, as desired, during the hose winding process. Since the control arm is at its highest position in this configuration, the winder occupies a relatively large unwieldy volume (because of the large distance between the top and bottom of the apparatus) which in many circumstances makes it difficult and clumsy for a single person to move. This larger volume also makes the apparatus more difficult to store because of the need to find a correspondingly large space to be dedicated to storage of the apparatus.
 For this reason it is desirable to change the configuration of the winder to make it easier to be moved by a single person or be stored in a smaller space. The apparatus of the invention may be moved from the above first or operating configuration to a second, non-operating or storage configuration as shown in FIG. 13, as follows. Assuming that the winder is in the first or operating configuration, as shown in FIG. 9, it may be moved into the second or storage configuration by first pushing the locking bar 198 to the right against the spring bias which releases it from the notch in the mounting bracket holding the guide assembly 160 in its operating position. Rotating the guide assembly toward the upright member 114 will allow it to be rotated into its storage position, as seen in dotted lines in FIG. 16.
 The operator would then loosen knob 140 and push downward on the driving tube or handle 152 to rotate the control arm 150 downwardly about the pivot axis 151. As the control arm moves downward the connection point between the links 141,142 will begin to move downward from the top of the channel 138. Continued rotation of the control arm results in the upstanding member 114 and wheeled front frame portion 130 also pivoting about the axis toward the member 134 and the control arm 150. Eventually, as the adjustable head 140 nears the bottom of the channel 138, both the upstanding members 134 and 114 and the control arm 150 will approach each other and come to rest in the position shown in FIG. 13. Note that in this position the bottom wall of the control arm 150 nearly touches the top of the upstanding member 134 along its length. Concurrently, the bottom of member 134 likewise will nearly touch the top of the member 114 along its length. Latch 205 engages hook 204 to lock the winder in its folded or storage configuration, FIG. 13.
 To return the unit to the operating configuration from storage configuration the steps outlined above are done in reverse. While standing on the right side of the unit, the operator would first release the latch 205 from the hook 204. Next, the operator would lift up on the drive tube 152 swinging it to the right until the control arm 150 reaches its operating height. The adjustable head 140 would then be tightened and the driving tube 152 lifted to tilt the unit until it rests on all the wheels. The lock bar 198 is then slid in a direction to allow the frame 191 to be rotated to the right about the connection 197 from the dotted line position of FIG. 16 until it locks into the operating position shown in FIG. 9. The guide blades 185 are slid to positions in which they are spaced apart about a half inch wider than the hose to be wound. The lower roller 161 may be set into either one the lowermost pairs of its mounting holes 183 depending on the amount of water in the hose to be wound, the lower setting being used when water in the hose needs to be squeezed out during the winding process.
 The method used by an operator for winding in or rolling up a hose lying on the ground, floor or other surface adjacent the winder is as follows:
 The winder 100 is first placed in the operating configuration of FIG. 9 and moved by the operator to a position adjacent one end of the hose to be wound which typically is spread out on the ground in a random fashion in a direction away from the winder. The hose cleaning and guide assembly 160 is then prepared to accept the hose coupling located on the end of the hose by pivoting the uppermost of the rollers 161 upwardly to a position about 270° with respect to the other roller and supported by the hinge 199. This is accomplished by pushing inwardly on the spring biased shaft opposite the hinge against its spring tension to release it from the hole in the side rail 189. The side of the upper roller 161 remote from the hinge itself is then rotated upwardly to a position alongside and generally to the rail. The hose to be wound is then laid over the lower roller and is loosely trapped between the rollers of the guide by returning the upper roller to a position parallel to the other roller.
 The hose coupling at one end of the hose to be rolled is then captured between the open sides of the capturing shapes 171,172 in the retainer 170 by moving the capturing shapes toward each other until the coupling is adequately grasped therebetween. At this point, the hose coupling 163 is captured and the operator is in a position to start the winding process, see FIG. 14. The operator must engage and continue to engage the lever 211 to release the crank brake, allowing the crank to turn. One of two methods may be chosen in going forward to wind the hose. If the hose is short or light in weight or if it is light and laid out directly in front of the winder in a generally straight line, it may be best to simply wind the hose by rotating the crank handle while remaining in one position. In this method the hose is basically dragged toward the winder and onto the retainer by using the crank handle. This may be done until the entire hose is gathered in a roll on the retainer.
 If, on the other hand, the hose is filled with water, or heavy or meanders in a severally complex pattern on the ground, it may be better to move the winder continuously in the direction of the nearest unwound hose portion while simultaneously cranking the handle to wind the hose incrementally onto the retainer. This method has the advantage of reducing the force needed to wind the hose by never having to drag unwound hose toward the winder. By simultaneously cranking and moving the winder in the direction of the unwound hose, a minimum of effort is required to complete the job.
 Given the small weight of the winder and the ability to move precisely in the direction of the unwound hose while concurrently using the manual crank to gather small incremental sections of the hose, the overall effort to complete the winding process, particularly in rough terrain, is minimized. It should be noted that if the crank brake lever 211 is released during the winding process, the hose cannot unwind. After the winding process is completed, the winder may be used to move the hose to the transport vehicle or storage area. This is a distinct advantage of the winding apparatus of the invention.
 A number of embodiments of the invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims.
Patent applications by Herbert H. Loeffler, Arlington, MA US
Patent applications by James L. Mosher, Foster, RI US
Patent applications in all subclasses Including particular material to spool connection