US20050206218A1 - Wheel assembly - Google Patents

Wheel assembly Download PDF

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Publication number
US20050206218A1
US20050206218A1 US11/104,992 US10499205A US2005206218A1 US 20050206218 A1 US20050206218 A1 US 20050206218A1 US 10499205 A US10499205 A US 10499205A US 2005206218 A1 US2005206218 A1 US 2005206218A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
portion
combination
wheel
wheel hub
wheel assembly
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Abandoned
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US11/104,992
Inventor
Jason Clifford
Tommie McCaster
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Clifford Jason T
Mccaster Tommie L Iii
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Priority to US10/729,170 priority Critical patent/US6926369B2/en
Application filed by Clifford Jason T, Mccaster Tommie L Iii filed Critical Clifford Jason T
Priority to US11/104,992 priority patent/US20050206218A1/en
Publication of US20050206218A1 publication Critical patent/US20050206218A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60BVEHICLE WHEELS; CASTORS; AXLES FOR WHEELS OR CASTORS; INCREASING WHEEL ADHESION
    • B60B7/00Wheel cover discs, rings, or the like, for ornamenting, protecting, venting, or obscuring, wholly or in part, the wheel body, rim, hub, or tyre sidewall, e.g. wheel cover discs, wheel cover discs with cooling fins
    • B60B7/20Wheel cover discs, rings, or the like, for ornamenting, protecting, venting, or obscuring, wholly or in part, the wheel body, rim, hub, or tyre sidewall, e.g. wheel cover discs, wheel cover discs with cooling fins having an element mounted for rotation independently of wheel rotation

Abstract

The present invention provides a wheel assembly for a motor vehicle, and the combination of such a wheel assembly mounted to an axle hub of a motor vehicle. The wheel assembly includes a rim portion for supporting a tire and a wheel hub portion that includes a central portion and a connecting portion that radiates from the central portion to the rim portion. A plurality of lug holes are formed in a central portion of the hub through which lug studs pass when a rear side of the central portion is mounted against an axle hub of a motor vehicle. A functioning clock is operatively connected to the wheel hub portion.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Application Ser. No. 10/729170, filed Dec. 5, 2003.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of Invention
  • The present invention relates to a wheel assembly for a motor vehicle. More particularly, the present invention relates to a wheel assembly for a motor vehicle that includes a functioning clock that is operatively connected to a front side of a wheel hub that is mounted to an axle hub of a motor vehicle.
  • 2. Description of Related Art
  • The wheels attached to motor vehicles are usually adorned with some type of ornamentation or decoration to make them more aesthetically pleasing. In most cases, decorative hubcaps or wheel covers are attached directly to the wheels and thus rotate with the wheels when the motor vehicle is in motion.
  • In recent years, it has become popular for the entire wheel, including the rim portion that supports a tire and the wheel hub portion that is mounted to the axle hub of the motor vehicle, to be integrally formed from a lightweight aluminum alloy. So-called “alloy wheels” are often engineered to provide three-dimensional styling that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
  • Attempts are constantly being made to produce unique wheels and/or wheel covers for use on motor vehicles. An increasingly popular type of wheel assembly includes a wheel spinner that rotates independent of the wheel to which it is attached. An example of one such wheel spinner assembly is disclosed in Fowlkes, U.S. Pat. No. 6,554,370. Although wheel assemblies having independently rotatable wheel spinners are presently popular, other unique types of decorative and functional wheel assemblies are desired.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to a wheel assembly for a motor vehicle. More particularly, the present invention relates to a wheel assembly for a motor vehicle that includes a functioning clock that is operatively connected to a front side of a wheel hub that is mounted to an axle hub of a motor vehicle.
  • The present invention provides a wheel assembly for mounting to an axle hub of a motor vehicle and the combination of such a wheel assembly mounted to an axle hub of a motor vehicle. The wheel assembly according to the invention comprises a functioning clock assembly that is operatively connected to a front side of a wheel hub portion of a wheel for a motor vehicle. The functioning clock assembly conceals a plurality of lug holes provided in a central portion of the wheel hub portion from view. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the vertical orientation of at least a face portion of the functioning clock does not appear to substantially change as the wheel hub rotates. Thus, when the wheel assembly is mounted to the axle hub of a motor vehicle, motorists and pedestrians can view the time displayed on the functioning clock, and in some embodiments, while the motor vehicle is in motion.
  • The foregoing and other features of the invention are hereinafter more fully described and particularly pointed out in the claims, the following description setting forth in detail certain illustrative embodiments of the invention, these being indicative, however, of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the present invention may be employed.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a wheel assembly according to the invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a front plan view of the wheel assembly shown in FIG. 1 with a tire mounted on the rim portion thereof.
  • FIG. 3 is a side sectional view of the wheel assembly and tire shown in FIG. 2 mounted to an axle hub of a motor vehicle, as viewed in the direction of the arrows taken along the line 3-3.
  • FIG. 4 is a detail view of a portion of FIG. 3 that shows additional features of the invention.
  • FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view showing the various components comprising the wheel assembly shown in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 6 is a front plan view of an alternative embodiment of a wheel assembly according to the invention.
  • FIG. 7 is a front plan view of another alternative embodiment of a wheel assembly according to the invention.
  • FIG. 8 is a side sectional view of a portion of another alternative embodiment of a wheel assembly according to the invention.
  • FIG. 9 is a perspective view of yet another embodiment of a wheel assembly according to the invention.
  • FIG. 10 is a front plan view of the wheel assembly shown in FIG. 9 with a tire mounted on the rim portion thereof.
  • FIG. 11 is a side sectional view of the wheel assembly and tire shown in FIG. 9 mounted to an axle hub of a motor vehicle, as viewed in the direction of the arrows taken along the line 11-11.
  • FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view showing the various components comprising the wheel assembly shown in FIGS. 9-11.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Particular reference is now made to the accompanying drawing figures, where it is appreciated that like reference numerals refer to like elements. With particular reference to accompanying FIGS. 1-5, a wheel assembly 10 according to the present invention generally comprises a wheel having a rim portion 20 for a tire 30, a wheel hub portion 40 and a functioning clock assembly 50 operatively connected to the wheel hub portion 40. As noted in FIG. 4, the wheel hub portion 40 comprises a central portion 60 and a connecting portion 70 that radiates from the central portion 60 to the rim portion 20. The central portion 60 is provided with a plurality of lug holes 80 through which lug studs 81 projecting from an axle hub 82 of a motor vehicle pass when a rear side 90 (see FIG. 3) of the central portion 60 is mounted against the axle hub 82. Lug nuts 83 threaded onto the lug studs 81 press against the central portion 60 of the wheel hub portion 40 to hold the wheel assembly 10 to the axle hub 82 of the motor vehicle. Once the lug nuts 83 are tightened on the lug studs 81, the functioning clock assembly 50 is operatively connected to a front side 100 of either the central portion 60 or the connecting portion 70 or the of the wheel wheel hub portion 40 to conceal the lug nuts 83 and lug holes 80 from view.
  • In the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 1-5, the rim portion 20 and wheel hub portion 40 are integrally formed of a cast metal, preferably a lightweight aluminum alloy, in accordance with conventional alloy wheel casting methods. Splined, steel inserts can be pressed into the lug holes 80 of the integrally formed rim portion 20 and wheel hub portion 40 to provide a high-strength surface against which the lug nuts 83 can be tightened. Alternatively, the rim portion 20 and the wheel hub portion 40 can be formed of steel or another high strength material. Although an integral rim portion 20 and wheel hub portion 40 is preferred, it will be appreciated that the rim portion 20 and the wheel hub portion 40 could be formed of two or more components that are joined together by other means such as welding.
  • In the embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 1-35, the connecting portion 70 of the wheel hub portion 40 comprises a bracket portion 84 or frame for operatively connecting the functional clock assembly 50 thereto in a removable manner. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-5, the bracket portion 84 is not a separate component, but merely comprises an integral recessed ledge 120 formed in the connecting portion 70 of the wheel hub portion 40 that has a mounting surface 130 provided with a plurality of threaded apertures for receiving threaded fasteners 290 that removably mount the functional clock assembly 50 to the connecting portion 70 of the wheel hub portion 40. The bracket portion 84 can, but need not be, annular. Depending upon the desired final appearance of the wheel assembly, the bracket portion 84 can be formed in the connecting portion 70 of the wheel hub portion 40 proximal to the rim 20, proximal to the axis of the central portion 60 of the wheel hub portion 40, or at any point therebetween.
  • The configuration and appearance of any of the connecting portion 70 of the hub that is not concealed by the functioning clock assembly 50, which is hereinafter referred to as the exposed connecting portion, is one of aesthetic design choice. For example, the exposed connecting portion can be appear as a solid disc or a plurality of spokes 140 that radiate from the axis of the central portion 60 and are spaced apart a predetermined distance from each other. Spaced apart spokes 140 are preferred over solid discs for several reasons. Use of spaced apart spokes 140 tends to reduce the weight and material cost of the wheel assembly 10 as compared to a solid disc. Moreover, the air space between spokes 140 allows for ventilation and cooling of brake rotors 85 that in some motor vehicles are disposed proximal to the rear side 90 of the wheel hub portion 40. Furthermore, spokes 140 are aesthetically pleasing and allow for the creation of unusual optical illusion effects.
  • In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the exposed connecting portion of the wheel hub portion 40 comprises a plurality of spokes 140 that are spaced apart a predetermined distance such that when the wheel hub portion 40 rotates at a substantially constant predetermined speed, an optical illusion is created whereby the plurality of spokes 140 appear to a human observer to make about one clockwise revolution around the functioning clock assembly 50 per minute. This well known optical illusion effect is often referred to as a “strobe effect”, which is produced because the human eye can process about 24 visual frames per second. When the spokes 140, although moving, are in the same relative position every 1/24th of a second, the human eye perceives no movement. The spokes 140, although moving, appear to the human observer to be stationary. If the wheel hub portion 40 rotates at a slightly faster speed, the spokes 140 then appear to a human observer to slowly rotate in a clockwise direction because their relative position is slightly different every 1/24th of a second. Preferably, the predetermined speed at which the motor vehicle moves to provide the optical illusion of rotating about the functioning clock assembly 50 once per minute is within the range of from about twenty to about thirty-five miles per hour. When the spokes 140 are configured in this manner and the motor vehicle is driven at the predetermined constant speed, the spokes 140 appear to a human observer to move like a sweeping second hand of a clock around the outside of the functioning clock assembly 50.
  • With particular reference to FIG. 4, the functioning clock assembly 50 preferably comprises a face portion 150 that displays the correct time, a bezel portion 160 that frames the face portion 150, a transparent or translucent crystal portion 170 that covers and protects the face portion 150 from damage, and a back case portion 180. Optimally, the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50 is encased within a substantially watertight sealed compartment defined by the bezel portion 160, the crystal portion 170 and the back case portion 180, as shown in FIG. 3. This sealed arrangement prevents brake dust, water and other debris from entering the clock-containing compartment thus formed, which could interfere with the observation of the clock or with the mechanical operation of the clock.
  • In the presently most preferred embodiment of the invention, the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50 comprises an analog clock having a sweeping hour hand 190, a sweeping minute hand 200 and optionally a sweeping second hand 201. The hour hand 190 and minute hand 200 can be mechanical components that physically rotate about a dial on the clock face or, alternatively, the hour hand 190 and minute hand 200 can be virtual rather than mechanical, in the sense that they appear as emitted light from a substrate using an array of light emitting diodes (LED's) or an electroluminescent display means. It will be appreciated that the clock can also be a digital clock, with the time and/or other information being displayed in alphanumeric characters formed by an LED array. If desired, the face portion 150 can be provided with a plurality of clocks such that the functioning clock assembly 50 of the wheel assembly resembles a chronograph watch with a stop timer, such as shown in FIG. 6. Simulated jewels, light emitting diodes (LED's) and other forms of indicia and/or ornamentation can be formed in or applied to the clock hands 190, 200, 201, as shown in FIG. 7, or formed in or applied to the bezel portion 160, as desired.
  • Analog clocks having moving hour hands 190 and second hands 200 can be purchased from a variety of suppliers. Most feature a quartz movement, which is extremely accurate. A high-torque quartz movement is preferred because the clock must operate in an environment where it exposed to frequent shock, vibration and temperature variation. Moreover, a high-torque quartz movement is usually necessary to drive the relatively large clock hands 190, 200, 201.
  • In one embodiment of the invention, the functioning clock assembly 50 further comprises a receiver 91 that receives time signals transmitted via radio frequency from a radio tower 92 and a controller 93 that adjusts the time displayed by the functioning clock assembly 50 to match the time signal received by the receiver 91. Clock mechanisms having this feature are sometimes referred to as “atomic clocks” and are also commercially available.
  • The crystal portion 170 of the functioning clock assembly 50 may be formed of glass, but is more preferably formed of a shatter resistant transparent or translucent material such as an acrylic polymer (e.g., PLEXIGLAS) or a polycarbonate polymer (e.g., LEXAN). As shown in FIG. 4, an elastomeric gasket 210 can be employed around the perimeter of the crystal portion 170 to insure that there is a watertight seal between the crystal portion 170 and the bezel portion 160. The crystal portion 170 can be exposed to road salt and road debris when the wheel assembly is mounted to a motor vehicle and thus can become scratched or damaged. When this occurs, the bezel portion 160 of the functioning clock 50 can be removed to allow for installation of a replacement crystal portion 170.
  • The back case 180 of the functioning clock 50 can be formed of metal, but is preferably formed of a strong, lightweight polymeric material such as ABS plastic or a filled-reinforced polyolefin composition, the composition of which is known in the automotive industry. The back case 180 preferably includes a removable access cover or panel 94, which allows for access to the rear side 270 of the face portion 150 when the functioning clock assembly 50 is not mounted to the connecting portion 70 of the wheel hub portion 40. Access is necessary in order to change batteries 220, which supply power to the clock mechanism 230.
  • With reference to FIG. 5, the bezel portion 160 is preferably configured to receive threaded fasteners 290 that operatively connect the functioning clock 50 to either the central portion 60 or the connecting portion 70 of the wheel hub portion 40. More preferably, at least one of the fasteners is a lockable fastener 291, which deters unauthorized removal and theft of the functioning clock assembly 50 from the wheel hub portion 40. It will be appreciated that any of the known lockable fasteners 291 used to mount wheels to axle hubs of motor vehicles can be used.
  • Should the functioning clock assembly 50 be stolen, become damaged or otherwise become separated from the wheel hub portion 40, or should the owner of the wheel assembly 10 simply desire to change the appearance of the wheel assembly 10, a new functioning clock assembly 50 can be easily operatively connected to the central portion 60 or the connecting portion 70 of the wheel hub portion 40 in place of the prior functioning clock assembly 50. Thus, one of the advantages of the present invention is that wheel hub portion 40 is adapted to receive any one of a plurality of interchangeable functional clock assemblies 50, which have the same or different appearance.
  • If the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50 is fixedly connected to the bezel portion 160, and the bezel portion 160 is mounted to the wheel hub portion 40, the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50 will rotate with the wheel hub portion 40 as the wheel assembly 10 rotates. Although this arrangement may be desirable in some instances, it is generally deemed to be disadvantageous in that it is not possible for a human observer to view the time displayed on the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50 when the wheel assembly 10 is mounted to a motor vehicle that is in motion. Accordingly, it is highly preferable for the orientation of at least the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 150 to not appear to substantially change when the wheel hub portion 40 is rotating.
  • With reference to FIG. 4, one way to substantially maintain the orientation of the face portion 150 of the functioning clock 50 relative to vertical while the wheel hub portion 40 is rotating is to bottom-weight the face portion 150 and provide a plurality of roller bearings 240 at the perimeter 250 of the face portion 150 that contact an inner annular bearing surface 260, race or groove. The inner annular bearing surface 260 can be provided entirely in the back case 180 as shown in FIG. 4. However, it will be appreciated that the inner annular bearing surface 260 could alternatively be formed entirely in the bezel portion 160, or entirely in an insert 161 that is secured to the bezel portion 160 such as shown in FIG. 8. If desired, the annular bearing surface 260 could be formed between the back case 180 and bezel portion 160. Preferably, the inner annular bearing surface 260 is formed entirely in the back case 180. By making the bottom hemisphere of the face portion 150 heavier with respect top hemisphere of the face portion 150, and by providing rolling bearings 240 between the face portion 150 and the inner annular bearing surface 260, the forces of gravity and inertia tend to substantially maintain a stationary vertical orientation of the face portion 150 as the wheel hub portion 40 is rotating. The bottom hemisphere of the face portion 150 can be made to be heavier than the top hemisphere of the face portion 150, at least in part, by locating the batteries 220 on the back or rear side 270 of the lower hemisphere of the face portion 150. Additional counter-weights 181 (see FIG. 12) can also be added, if necessary.
  • FIGS. 9-12 illustrate an alternative method of maintaining the orientation of the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50 relative to vertical while the wheel hub portion 40 is rotating. In this alternative embodiment of the invention, the functioning clock assembly 50 operatively connected to an axial spindle 300 that is mounted to either the central portion 60 or the connecting portion 70 of the wheel hub portion 40 at or proximal to the central portion 60 of the wheel hub portion 40. Roller bearings 241 allow the functioning clock assembly 50 to rotate freely about the spindle 300, thus independently of the rotation of the wheel hub portion 40. A counterweight 181 affixed to the lower hemisphere of the back case 180 of the functioning clock assembly 50 helps keep the functioning clock assembly 50 from rotating with the wheel hub portion 40 when a motor vehicle to which the wheel hub portion 40 is connected is in motion. This alternative embodiment of the invention is discussed in greater detail in paragraphs [0045] to [0049] below.
  • Motor vehicles are often operated at night and in other low light environments. Thus, it is preferably that the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50 be illuminated, at least in low ambient light conditions. To accomplish this object, the functional clock assembly 50 preferably further comprises one or more light sources 61 for illuminating the face portion 150 and a power source for the light source(s) 61. The power source can be one or more batteries 220, which also power the clock mechanism 230.
  • The light source can be an LED display, which can be mounted in any desirable location including the hands 190, 200, 201 of the clock as shown in FIG. 7, at the number positions, or both places. Alternatively, the light source can be an electroluminescent (EL) display that is printed or applied to at least a portion of the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50. In yet another embodiment, the face portion 150 is translucent, and one or more light emitting sources are positioned on a rear or back side 270 of the face portion 150 to transmit light through all or some of the face portion 150 and thus make it appear to be luminous in low ambient light conditions.
  • When the wheel assembly 10 includes one or more light sources 61, it is preferable that the wheel assembly 10 further comprise a controller 93 for switching power on and off from the power source to the light source(s) 61. Thus, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the functioning clock assembly 50 further comprises a receiver 91 for receiving signals from a hand-held remote control device 96. The controller 93 switches power on or off from the power source to the light source 61 based upon the signals received by the receiver 91 from the hand-held remote control device 96. The receiver 91 and controller 93 can utilize the same componentry as used to adjust the time (as illustrated in FIG. 4). Alternatively, two or more receivers and controllers could be used for such purposes. Thus, an owner of a wheel assembly 10 according to the invention can press buttons on the remote control device 96, which may be configured as a fob on a key chain, to turn the light source(s) 61 on the wheel assembly 10 on or off, as the case may be.
  • Optimally, the functioning clock assembly 50 further comprises a motion sensor 151 for detecting when the wheel hub portion 40 is rotating and/or a photo sensor 152 for detecting when the wheel assembly 10 is in a low light ambient environment. The controller 93 switches on power from the power source to the light source(s) 61 when the motion sensor 151 detects that the wheel hub portion 40 is rotating and/or the photo sensor 152 detects that the wheel assembly 10 is in a persistent low ambient light environment. Preferably, the controller 93 does not switch off power from the power source to the light source(s) 61 until a predetermined period of time has elapsed after the motion sensor 151 detects that the wheel hub portion 40 has stopped rotating. Thus, when a motor vehicle equipped with the wheel assembly 10 according to the invention is operated, the controller 93 switches on power to the light source(s) 61 when the motion sensor 151 detects that the wheel hub portion 40 is rotating. When the vehicle temporarily stops for a traffic light or other reason, and the wheel hub portion 40 thus stops rotating momentarily, the controller 93 does not immediately turn off power to the light source(s) 61, but rather it continues to allow power to flow to the light source(s) 61 for a predetermined period of time, such as three minutes. If the wheel hub portion 40 begins to rotate again prior to the expiration of the predetermined time, an internal counter is reset and power continues to flow to the light source(s) 61. If, however, the wheel assembly 10 ceases to rotate upon the expiration of the predetermined time, such as when the motor vehicle is parked, the controller 93 switches off power to the light source(s) 61 until motion is again detected.
  • FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view showing the various components comprising the wheel assembly shown in FIG. 1. To assemble the wheel assembly 10 according to this illustrated embodiment, the gasket 210 is first secured around the perimeter of the crystal portion 170. Next, the bezel portion 160 is properly positioned over the crystal portion 170 such that the gasket 210 is properly seated between the two components. Next, the face portion 150 of the functioning clock 50 is positioned onto the back case 180 such that the roller bearings 240 are in contact with the inner annular bearing surface 260. To facilitate installation of the face portion 150 in the back case 180, the roller bearings 240 can be spring loaded, which also helps reduce the shock and vibration transmitted to the clock mechanism 230. Once the face portion 150 of the functioning clock 50 is properly positioned within the back case 180, the bezel portion 160 and back case portion 180 are brought together and secured using fasteners 280. The rear access panel 94 of the back case 180 can be removed, if necessary, to facilitate the installation of batteries 220, which are received on the rear side 270 of the face portion 150 on the bottom hemisphere of the face portion 150. A tire 30 is mounted to the rim portion 20, preferably before the functioning clock assembly 50 is operatively connected to the wheel hub portion 40, and then the central portion 60 of the wheel hub portion 40 is positioned against the axle hub of a motor vehicle. Lug nuts 83 are tightened down on lug studs 81, which project through the lug holes 80 formed in the central portion 60 of the wheel hub portion 40. Once the lug nuts 83 have been sufficiently tightened, the functioning clock assembly 50 is operatively connected to the wheel hub portion 40, preferably using fasteners 290, at least one of which is preferably a lockable fastener 291. The wheel assembly 10 can be removed from the motor vehicle in the reverse order in which it was installed.
  • FIGS. 6 and 7 are front plan views of alternative embodiments of wheel assemblies 10 according to the invention. In FIG. 6, several clocks 51 are provided on the face portion 150. Each clock 51 can display the time in a separate time zone, or can have other functionality such as a stopwatch or countdown feature. In FIG. 7, the hands of the clock 51 are adorned with light sources 61, such as LED's of differing colors, which is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
  • FIGS. 9-12 show another embodiment of a wheel assembly 10 according to the invention. Specifically, FIG. 9 is a perspective view. FIG. 10 is a front plan view of the wheel assembly shown in FIG. 9 with a tire mounted on the rim portion thereof. FIG. 11 is a side sectional view of the wheel assembly and tire shown in FIG. 9 mounted to an axle hub of a motor vehicle, as viewed in the direction of the arrows taken along the line 11-11. And, FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view showing the various components comprising the wheel assembly shown in FIGS. 9-11.
  • In the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 9-12, a functioning clock assembly 50 is operatively connected to the wheel hub portion 40 of a wheel for a motor vehicle using an adapter assembly 301 that includes a spindle 300. The adapter assembly 301 includes a plate portion 304 that is securable to the wheel hub portion 40 using fasteners or the lug nuts 83. A spindle 300 extends from plate portion 304 of the adapter assembly 301 on the axis of rotation of the wheel hub portion 40. It will be appreciated that the adapter assembly 301 can be mounted to the central portion 60 or the connecting portion of the wheel hub portion 40 using fasteners other than the lug nuts 83, if desired.
  • A rotor 302 is operatively connected to the spindle 300 by a wheel bearing 303, which allows the spindle 300 and the rotor 302 to rotate independent of each other on the axis of the wheel hub portion 40. The back case 180 of the functioning clock assembly 50 mounts to the rotor 302 using fasteners 306. Preferably, the back case 180 includes a counter-weight 181, which may be former integrally with the back case 180 or be a separate component attached to the back case 180. The counter-weight 181 helps keep the back case 180 and all structure operatively connected to it from rotating with the spindle 300. It also helps keep the functioning clock assembly 50 in the desired orientation relative to vertical.
  • As in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-5, a gasket 210 surrounds a crystal portion 170. A securing ring 162 holds the crystal portion 170 and the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50 to the back case 180. Fasteners 293 can be used to secure the securing ring 162, the crystal portion 170 and the face portion 150 to the back case 180. A functioning clock motor 230 is secured to the rear side of the face portion 150 of the functioning clock assembly 50, to drive the hour hand 190, minute hand 200 and second hand 201 of the clock.
  • If desired, a bezel portion 160′ can be attached to the wheel hub portion 40 of the wheel to frame the functioning clock assembly 50 that is operatively connected to the wheel hub portion 40. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 9-12, the bezel portion 160′ is attached to the wheel hub portion 40 through the use of fasteners 297, that engage with a rear mounting ring 167 located on the rear side 90 of the wheel hub portion 40. The bezel portion 160′ rotates with the wheel hub portion 40.
  • Additional advantages and modifications will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to the specific details and illustrative examples shown and described herein. Accordingly, various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the general inventive concept as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims (20)

1. A wheel assembly in combination with an axle hub of a motor vehicle, wherein the wheel assembly comprises:
a rim portion for supporting a tire;
a wheel hub portion having
a central portion provided with a plurality of lug holes through which lug studs extending from the axle hub pass when a rear side of the central portion is mounted against the axle hub, and
a connection portion extending from the central portion to the rim portion; and
a functioning clock operatively connected to a front side of the wheel hub portion so as to conceal lug nuts tightened down on the lug studs from view.
2. The combination of claim 1 wherein the functioning clock is operatively connected to the front side of the wheel hub portion such that the wheel hub portion can rotate independent of at least a face portion of the functioning clock.
3. The combination of claim 2 wherein the functioning clock further comprises a bezel portion that frames the face portion, and a transparent or translucent crystal portion that covers and protects the face portion.
4. The combination of claim 2 wherein the face portion of the functioning clock further comprises an analog clock having an hour hand and a minute hand.
5. The combination of claim 4 wherein the hour hand and minute hand are formed on the face portion by electroluminescent display means.
6. The combination of claim 3 wherein the bezel portion is mounted to the connecting portion of the wheel hub portion using at least one lockable fastener.
7. The combination of claim 1 wherein the wheel hub portion and the rim portion are integrally formed of metal.
8. The combination of claim 2 further comprising a light source mounted to the wheel assembly for illuminating the face portion of the functioning clock and a power source mounted to the wheel assembly for providing power to the light source.
9. The combination of claim 8 further comprising a controller mounted to the wheel assembly for switching power on and off from the power source to the light source.
10. The combination of claim 9 further comprising a motion sensor mounted to the wheel assembly for detecting when the wheel hub portion is rotating and/or a photo sensor mounted to the wheel assembly for detecting when the wheel assembly is in a low light environment, and wherein the controller switches on power from the power source to the light source when the motion sensor detects that the hub is rotating and/or the photo sensor detects that the wheel assembly is in a low light environment.
11. The combination of claim 10 wherein the controller does not switch off power from the power source to the light source until a predetermined period of time has elapsed after the motion sensor detects that the wheel hub portion has stopped rotating.
12. The combination of claim 9 further comprising a first receiver mounted to the wheel assembly for receiving signals from a hand-held remote control device, and wherein the controller switches power on or off from the power source to the light source based upon the signals received by the first receiver from the hand-held remote control device.
13. The combination of claim 9 further comprising a second receiver mounted to the wheel assembly for receiving a time signal transmitted from a time signal transmitting device, and wherein the controller adjusts the time displayed by the functioning clock to match the time signal received by the second receiver.
14. The combination of claim 1 wherein the wheel hub portion comprises a bracket portion adapted to receive and operatively connect any one of a plurality of interchangeable functional clocks having a different ornamental appearance to the wheel hub portion.
15. A functioning clock adapted to be received and operatively connected to a wheel hub portion using the bracket of claim 14.
16. The combination of claim 3 wherein the face portion of the functioning clock is encased within a substantially watertight sealed compartment defined by the bezel portion, the crystal portion and a back case portion connected to the bezel portion.
17. The combination of claim 16 wherein the bezel portion is mounted to the connecting portion of the hub and the face portion is provided with a plurality of roller bearings configured to contact an inner annual bearing surface formed in the bezel portion, the back case portion or between the bezel portion and the back case portion, and wherein the inner annular bearing surface thereby supports the face portion of the functioning clock.
18. The combination of claim 17 wherein a bottom hemisphere of the face portion is heavier than a top hemisphere of the face portion, the difference in weight being sufficient to maintain the vertical orientation of the face portion notwithstanding rotation of the wheel hub portion.
19. The combination of claim 16 wherein the back case is mounted on a rotor supported by a wheel bearing disposed on a spindle extending on an axis of rotation of the wheel hub portion from an adaptor plate secured to the central portion of the wheel hub portion.
20. The combination of claim 19 wherein a bottom hemisphere of the back case is heavier than a top hemisphere of the back case, the difference in weight being sufficient to inhibit the back case from rotating when the wheel hub portion is rotating.
US11/104,992 2003-12-05 2005-04-13 Wheel assembly Abandoned US20050206218A1 (en)

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US10/729,170 US6926369B2 (en) 2003-12-05 2003-12-05 Wheel assembly
US11/104,992 US20050206218A1 (en) 2003-12-05 2005-04-13 Wheel assembly

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US11/104,992 US20050206218A1 (en) 2003-12-05 2005-04-13 Wheel assembly

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US10/729,170 Continuation-In-Part US6926369B2 (en) 2003-12-05 2003-12-05 Wheel assembly

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US20050212346A1 (en) * 2004-02-10 2005-09-29 Alejandro Kornijenko Internal Spinning System
US20080036285A1 (en) * 2006-08-14 2008-02-14 Bouncing Brain Productions Subsidiary 11, Llc Rim assembly with oscillator
US20080272642A1 (en) * 2007-05-03 2008-11-06 Leslie Hsiao Non-rotating wheel cover for large automobile
US20090058177A1 (en) * 2007-08-28 2009-03-05 Berens Martin C Hubcap Device

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US7524093B2 (en) * 2005-12-16 2009-04-28 Ronald Sinnette Displaying image mechanism wheel assembly
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US7703958B2 (en) * 2007-08-23 2010-04-27 Gary Christoff Quick release illuminating and display apparatus and system
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US10214049B2 (en) * 2011-03-02 2019-02-26 II Michael Todd Clark Spinner for vehicle wheel
US9604496B1 (en) * 2011-10-12 2017-03-28 Pedro Velasco Tire rim and associated use thereof
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US20050113214A1 (en) * 2003-11-26 2005-05-26 Chuang Yun Y. Wrist exerciser having display and transmission device
US7101315B2 (en) * 2003-11-26 2006-09-05 Yun Yu Chuang Wrist exerciser having display and transmission device
US20050212346A1 (en) * 2004-02-10 2005-09-29 Alejandro Kornijenko Internal Spinning System
US7032979B2 (en) * 2004-02-10 2006-04-25 Alejandro Kornijenko Internal Spinning System
US20080036285A1 (en) * 2006-08-14 2008-02-14 Bouncing Brain Productions Subsidiary 11, Llc Rim assembly with oscillator
US20080272642A1 (en) * 2007-05-03 2008-11-06 Leslie Hsiao Non-rotating wheel cover for large automobile
US9346316B2 (en) * 2007-05-03 2016-05-24 Rigidisc Media, Inc. Non-rotating wheel cover for large automobile
US20090058177A1 (en) * 2007-08-28 2009-03-05 Berens Martin C Hubcap Device
US7726746B2 (en) * 2007-08-28 2010-06-01 Berens Martin C Hubcap having lighted spinning element

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US6926369B2 (en) 2005-08-09
US20050121968A1 (en) 2005-06-09
WO2005065106A3 (en) 2005-11-03
WO2005065106A2 (en) 2005-07-21

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