Cone clutch with improved oil evacuation structure

192 clutches and power-stop control – Clutches – Plural clutch-assemblage

Reexamination Certificate

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C192S066200, C192S10700R, C192S113360

Reexamination Certificate




1. Field of the Invention
The present invention is generally related to a cone clutch, and, more particularly, to a cone clutch with grooves formed in its clutch faces which are generally straight and which provide an efficient evacuation path for oil when the clutch face moves into contact with an opposing surface.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Cone clutches are used in many different applications. Typically, a cone clutch is provided with one or more friction faces. Each friction face is generally shaped as a frustum of a cone to provide a tapered friction surface that is engaged by another rotating member. Cone clutches are used extensively in certain types of marine propulsion systems.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,257,506, which issued to Bankstahl on Mar. 24, 1981, discloses a shift linkage for cone clutch. The male cone member of a cone clutch mechanism has two springs, each encircling cam faces on the male cone member and bearing against the forward and reverse clutch gears, respectively, to bias the cone member away from its center or neutral position toward either the forward or reverse clutch gear. An eccentric roller on the shift actuator shaft engages with a circumferential groove in the male cone member to provide a vibrating force against the member for shifting. The shift means uses a cam and bell crank mechanism to convert axial movement of the shift control to rotary movement of the actuator shaft.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,244,454, which issued to Bankstahl on Jan. 13, 1981, discloses a cone clutch mechanism which has its forward and reverse clutch gears supported by bearings mounted on the housing, with a main shaft supported by bearings mounted on the housing in the same plane as the forward and reverse gear bearings. The male cone member is biased by two springs, each encircling cam faces on the member and bearing against the forward and reverse clutch gears, respectively, to bias the cone member away from its center or neutral position.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,630,719, which issued to McCormick on Dec. 23, 1986, discloses a torque aided pulsed impact shift mechanism. A cone clutch sleeve on a main shaft is moved axially between forward and reverse counter-rotating gears by a yoke having mirror-image oppositely tapered cams on opposite sides thereof which are selectively rotatable to engage eccentric rings on the forward and reverse gears. The engagement drives the yoke away from the one engaged gear and toward the other gear to in turn drive the clutch sleeve out of engagement with the one gear such that torque applied through the cam-engaged gear ring assists clutch disengagement of the one gear such requisite shift force decreases as speed and torque increases. The eccentric face surface of each ring actuates the yoke and drives the sleeve member out of engagement with the one gear and into engagement with the other gear with a pulsed impact hammer effect due to the eccentricity of the face surface as it rotates in a circumferential plane about the main shaft. U.S. Pat. No. 4,679,682, which issued to Gray et al on Jul. 14, 1987, discloses a marine drive shift mechanism with detent canister centered neutral. A marine drive is provided with a shift mechanism including a detent canister assembly. A cylindrical canister contains a ball biased by a pair on concentric springs into engagement with a shift lever arm to center the latter in a neutral position. The canister assembly is a self-contained modular unit inserted into the marine drive housing. The cylindrical canister has a left end wall with an aperture therethrough and has an open right end containing the ball. The first spring bears at its right end against the ball and extends axially leftwardly through the aperture in the left end wall of the canister and bears at its left end against the housing.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,869,121, which issued to Meisenburg on Sep. 26, 1989, discloses a marine propulsion unit with an improved drive shaft arrangement. A marine propulsion unit is provided wherein the main drive shaft includes an integrally formed annular portion of enlarged diameter at the location of a previously utilized lower groove and keepers. The enlarged diameter portion increases the mass and strength of the shaft at a position subject to substantial torque forces, thus substantially eliminating the problems of shaft fracture or breakage. In addition, the enlarged diameter portion is formed in the shape of a thrust collar so that the shaft can be accommodated by the previous known shaft mounting elements without redesign of the latter.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,523,655, which issued to Behara on Feb. 25, 2003, discloses a shift linkage for a marine drive unit. The shift linkage is provided with a groove that is aligned along the path which is nonperpendicular to an axis of rotation of the shift-linkage. The groove, and its nonperpendicularity to the axis of rotation, allows a detent ball to smoothly roll and slide along the groove. This relationship helps to maintain the shift linkage in a desired vertical position as it passes from one gear selection position to another.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,062,360, which issued to Shields on May 16, 2000, discloses a synchronizer for a gear shift mechanism for a marine propulsion system. Using a hub and a sleeve that are axially movable relative to an output shaft but rotationally fixed to the shaft and to each other, the gear shift mechanism uses associated friction surfaces to bring the output shaft up to a speed that is in synchronism with the selected forward or reverse gear prior to mating associated gear tooth surfaces together to transmit torque from an input shaft to an output shaft. The friction surfaces on the forward and reverse gears can be replaceable to facilitate repair after the friction surfaces experience wear.
The United States patents described above relate to the use of cone clutches in conjunction with marine propulsion systems. It should be understood that cone clutches are also used in many non-marine applications.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,261,202, which issued to Forrest et al on Jul. 17, 2001, describes a cone clutch structure having recessed areas for use in a limited slip differential. A limited slip differential having at least one cone clutch element for frictionally engaging an interior surface of the rotatable differential casing is provided. The cone clutch element has a plurality of clutch engagement surfaces which are disposed about the outside surface of the cone clutch element. Recessed areas are interposed between the clutch engagement surfaces. The total clutch engagement surface is reduced to between 5% and 15% of the total engagement and recessed surface area of the clutch element to improve the performance of the differential at low temperatures.
It is generally known to provide grooves in clutch surfaces. U.S. Pat. No. 5,101,953, which issued to Payvar on Apr. 7, 1992, describes a high capacity viscous pumping groove pattern for a wet clutch. A groove pattern for the paper-based friction facing on a wet clutch is provided to equalize the surface temperature of the friction facings and thus increase the thermal capacity of the clutch where there is continuous slippage. The groove pattern includes one or more continuous annular grooves dividing the friction area into two or more annular bands and a plurality of cross grooves in each bank which are angled with respect to a radius of the facing. The angled cross grooves increase in number in each band from the inner band to the outer band. The angled cross grooves extend at an acute angle, such as 10-50 degree, to the radius. Slip of the friction pair of plates causes a viscous pumping action. The cross groove angle in each band of the facing is preferably different so as to keep all of the grooves filled with cooling oil.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,924,984, which issued to Kennedy on May 15, 1990, describes a quick pump-out clutch plate for a viscous fluid clutch. A fan clutch assembly for a vehicle includes a clutch plate rotatably driven by an input shaft. The clutch plate includes a plurality of concentric


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