US20060169322A1 - Concealed automatic pool vacuum systems - Google Patents

Concealed automatic pool vacuum systems Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060169322A1
US20060169322A1 US11/324,829 US32482906A US2006169322A1 US 20060169322 A1 US20060169322 A1 US 20060169322A1 US 32482906 A US32482906 A US 32482906A US 2006169322 A1 US2006169322 A1 US 2006169322A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
hose
vacuum
adapted
water
pool
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Abandoned
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US11/324,829
Inventor
John Torkelson
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Torkelson John E
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Publication date
Priority to US52877103P priority Critical
Priority to US11/001,557 priority patent/US7334601B1/en
Priority to US64160705P priority
Application filed by Torkelson John E filed Critical Torkelson John E
Priority to US11/324,829 priority patent/US20060169322A1/en
Publication of US20060169322A1 publication Critical patent/US20060169322A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H75/00Storing webs, tapes, or filamentary material, e.g. on reels
    • B65H75/02Cores, formers, supports, or holders for coiled, wound, or folded material, e.g. reels, spindles, bobbins, cop tubes, cans
    • B65H75/34Cores, formers, supports, or holders for coiled, wound, or folded material, e.g. reels, spindles, bobbins, cop tubes, cans specially adapted or mounted for storing and repeatedly paying-out and re-storing lengths of material provided for particular purposes, e.g. anchored hoses, power cables
    • B65H75/38Cores, formers, supports, or holders for coiled, wound, or folded material, e.g. reels, spindles, bobbins, cop tubes, cans specially adapted or mounted for storing and repeatedly paying-out and re-storing lengths of material provided for particular purposes, e.g. anchored hoses, power cables involving the use of a core or former internal to, and supporting, a stored package of material
    • B65H75/44Constructional details
    • B65H75/4402Guiding arrangements to control paying-out and re-storing of the material
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H75/00Storing webs, tapes, or filamentary material, e.g. on reels
    • B65H75/02Cores, formers, supports, or holders for coiled, wound, or folded material, e.g. reels, spindles, bobbins, cop tubes, cans
    • B65H75/34Cores, formers, supports, or holders for coiled, wound, or folded material, e.g. reels, spindles, bobbins, cop tubes, cans specially adapted or mounted for storing and repeatedly paying-out and re-storing lengths of material provided for particular purposes, e.g. anchored hoses, power cables
    • B65H75/36Cores, formers, supports, or holders for coiled, wound, or folded material, e.g. reels, spindles, bobbins, cop tubes, cans specially adapted or mounted for storing and repeatedly paying-out and re-storing lengths of material provided for particular purposes, e.g. anchored hoses, power cables without essentially involving the use of a core or former internal to a stored package of material, e.g. with stored material housed within casing or container, or intermittently engaging a plurality of supports as in sinuous or serpentine fashion
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H75/00Storing webs, tapes, or filamentary material, e.g. on reels
    • B65H75/02Cores, formers, supports, or holders for coiled, wound, or folded material, e.g. reels, spindles, bobbins, cop tubes, cans
    • B65H75/34Cores, formers, supports, or holders for coiled, wound, or folded material, e.g. reels, spindles, bobbins, cop tubes, cans specially adapted or mounted for storing and repeatedly paying-out and re-storing lengths of material provided for particular purposes, e.g. anchored hoses, power cables
    • B65H75/38Cores, formers, supports, or holders for coiled, wound, or folded material, e.g. reels, spindles, bobbins, cop tubes, cans specially adapted or mounted for storing and repeatedly paying-out and re-storing lengths of material provided for particular purposes, e.g. anchored hoses, power cables involving the use of a core or former internal to, and supporting, a stored package of material
    • B65H75/44Constructional details
    • B65H75/4481Arrangements or adaptations for driving the reel or the material
    • B65H75/4489Fluid motors
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04HBUILDINGS OR LIKE STRUCTURES FOR PARTICULAR PURPOSES; SWIMMING OR SPLASH BATHS OR POOLS; MASTS; FENCING; TENTS OR CANOPIES, IN GENERAL
    • E04H4/00Swimming or splash baths or pools
    • E04H4/14Parts, details or accessories not otherwise provided for
    • E04H4/16Parts, details or accessories not otherwise provided for specially adapted for cleaning
    • E04H4/1654Self-propelled cleaners
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04HBUILDINGS OR LIKE STRUCTURES FOR PARTICULAR PURPOSES; SWIMMING OR SPLASH BATHS OR POOLS; MASTS; FENCING; TENTS OR CANOPIES, IN GENERAL
    • E04H4/00Swimming or splash baths or pools
    • E04H4/14Parts, details or accessories not otherwise provided for
    • E04H4/16Parts, details or accessories not otherwise provided for specially adapted for cleaning
    • E04H4/1681Cleaning whips
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2701/00Handled material; Storage means
    • B65H2701/30Handled filamentary material
    • B65H2701/33Hollow or hose-like material
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T137/00Fluid handling
    • Y10T137/6851With casing, support, protector or static constructional installations
    • Y10T137/6918With hose storage or retrieval means
    • Y10T137/6932With retrieval means

Abstract

A vacuum pool-cleaning storage system that is housed in the side of a swimming pool substantially below the waterline. The pool vacuum cleaner automatically deploys to clean the pool when the central pool vacuum pump is activated, and automatically retracts to a stored position when the central pool vacuum pump is turned off. The system is adapted to store the vacuum hose in a substantially linear tube located substantially underground. A reel-type hose storage embodiment is also disclosed. The system is preferably powered by vacuum pressure generated by a water circulation pump of the pool plumbing system.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application is a continuation-in-part of related application Ser. No. 11/001,557, filed Nov. 30, 2004, entitled “POOL CLEANING SYSTEMS”, and is related to and claims priority from prior provisional application Ser. No. 60/528,771 filed Dec. 12, 2003 entitled “SWIMMING POOL VACUUM AND HOSE AUTOMATIC DEPLOYMENT AND RETRIEVAL GARAGE”, and is further related to and claims priority from prior provisional application Ser. No. 60/641,607 filed Jan. 6, 2005, entitled “SWIMMING POOL VACUUM HOSE AUTOMATIC DEPLOYMENT AND RETRIEVAL GARAGE WITH SEMI STRAIGHT HOSE STORAGE” the contents of which are incorporated herein by this reference and are not admitted to be prior art with respect to the present invention by the mention in this cross-reference section.
  • BACKGROUND
  • This invention relates to providing pool-cleaning systems. More particularly, this invention relates to providing a system for improved storage and deployment of pool vacuuming components.
  • Typically, a random-motion pool vacuum is coupled to a hose that is coupled to the central pool vacuum pump. The pool vacuum pump and hose are placed in the pool, primed for use, and must be removed from the pool and drained of water so that the pool can be used for swimming. This is very labor-intensive and time-consuming.
  • In addition, it is highly preferred to store the vacuum hose in an uncoiled rather than a coiled configuration. Storing the hose in an uncoiled configuration improves in-service performance by limiting hose hysteresis, which is the tendency of the hose to retain a coiled shape once deployed. Some manufacturers of pool cleaning heads specifically void the operational warranty of the device if the vacuum hose is stored in a coiled configuration. Currently, uncoiled storage of a vacuum hose is, at best, haphazard, requiring the hose to be stored within the general area of the pool, for example, uncoiled on the surface of the pool deck or nearby landscape area.
  • Therefore, a need exists for a system that can deploy a pool vacuum and hose automatically, and retract the pool vacuum and hose automatically. Further, a need exists for a vacuum system that remains continuously primed, preferably storing the hose in an uncoiled or semi-linear configuration.
  • OBJECTS AND FEATURES OF THE INVENTION
  • A primary object and feature of the present invention is to provide pool-cleaning systems to overcome the above-described problems. A further primary object and feature of the present invention is to provide a pool-cleaning system that automatically deploys a pool vacuum, and automatically retracts the pool vacuum.
  • It is a further object and feature of the present invention to provide such a system that can be run entirely on waterpower provided by a connection to the low-pressure side of a pool circulation pump. It is yet another object and feature of the present invention to provide such a system that is stored underwater, to maintain the vacuum hose in a primed (water-filled) state.
  • It is another object and feature of the present invention to provide such a system that stores an underwater hose in an uncoiled and substantially linear arrangement. It is yet another object and feature of the present invention to provide such a system having an underwater hose reel as an alternate preferred embodiment.
  • It is an additional object and feature of the present invention to provide such a system including methods of cleaning pools.
  • A further primary object and feature of the present invention is to provide such a system that is efficient, inexpensive, and handy. Other objects and features of this invention will become apparent with reference to the following descriptions.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In accordance with a preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a system related to the uncoiled storage of at least one vacuum hose of at least one automatic pool cleaner within at least one pool of water, the at least one vacuum hose comprising at least one first hose end and at least one second hose end, the at least one pool of water comprising at least one low-pressure fluid source, such system comprising: at least one tubular sleeve adapted to removably store at least one substantial portion of the at least one vacuum hose; wherein such at least one tubular sleeve comprises at least one first open end in fluid communication with the at least one pool of water; and wherein such at least one tubular sleeve comprises an aggregate bend of less than three-hundred and sixty degrees.
  • Moreover, it provides such a system wherein: such at least one tubular sleeve comprises an aggregate bend of less than one hundred and eighty degrees; and such at least one tubular sleeve comprises no more than two ninety-degree bends. Additionally, it provides such a system wherein: such at least one tubular sleeve comprises at least one second open end; such at least one second open end is positioned above the at least one pool of water; and such at least one second open end comprises at least one removable cover adapted to removably cover such at least one second open end.
  • Also, it provides such a system wherein such at least one tubular sleeve comprises at least one plurality of interconnectable segments adapted to provide segmented assembly of such at least one tubular sleeve. In addition, it provides such a system wherein such at least one tubular sleeve is adapted to maintain the at least one substantial portion of the at least one vacuum hose submerged within water from such at least one pool of water. And, it provides such a system further comprising at least one fluid coupler adapted to couple the at least one second hose end of the at least one vacuum hose to the at least one low-pressure fluid source.
  • Further, it provides such a system wherein such at least one fluid coupler comprises: at least one vacuum hose end fitting adapted to removably engage the at least one second hose end of the at least one vacuum hose; and at least one docking receiver adapted to removably receive such at least one vacuum hose end fitting; wherein such at least one at least one docking receiver comprises at least one interior chamber adapted to receive interiorly at least one portion of such at least one vacuum hose end fitting and pass exteriorly the at least one vacuum hose; wherein such at least one vacuum hose end fitting comprises at least one vacuum transfer port adapted to transfer fluid between the at least one vacuum hose and such at least one interior chamber; wherein such at least one interior chamber comprises at least one coupling to the at least one low-pressure fluid source; wherein such at least one interior chamber comprises at least one pressure seal adapted to form at least one pressure seal with such at least one vacuum transfer port; and wherein such at least one pressure seal is adapted to form at least one pressure coupling to couple operationally the at least one vacuum hose with the at least one low-pressure fluid source.
  • Even further, it provides such a system further comprising: at least one hose deployer adapted to deploy the at least one first end of the at least one vacuum hose into such at least one pool of water; at least one fluid coupler adapted to couple the at least one second end of the at least one vacuum hose to the at least one low-pressure fluid source; and at least one hose retractor adapted to retract the at least one vacuum hose onto such at least one tubular sleeve; wherein such at least one tubular sleeve is adapted to maintain the at least one substantial portion of the at least one vacuum hose submerged within the water of such at least one pool of water. Moreover, it provides such a system wherein: such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one hydraulic motor adapted to power the deploying of the at least one first hose end of the at least one vacuum hose by such at least one hose deployer; such at least one hydraulic motor is in fluid communication with the at least one low-pressure fluid source; and such at least one hydraulic motor is adapted to operate by directing at least one movement of the water of the at least one pool of water toward the at least one low-pressure fluid source.
  • Additionally, it provides such a system further comprising: at least one first housing adapted to house such at least one hose deployer, such at least one fluid coupler, and such at least one hose retractor; and at least one second housing comprising at least one hollow interior adapted to house such at least one first housing; wherein such at least one first housing is removable from such at least one hollow interior of such at least one second housing; and wherein such at least one second housing is prepositionally fixed relative to the at least one pool of water.
  • Also, it provides such a system wherein such at least one hollow interior comprises: at least one first passage adapted to provide fluid communication between such at least one hollow interior and the at least one pool of water; and at least one second passage adapted to provide fluid communication between such at least one hollow interior and such at least one tubular sleeve; wherein such at least one first passage comprises at least one door adapted to provide at least one closable and openable barrier between such at least one first passage and the least one pool of water; and wherein such at least one door is positioned substantially below at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water. In addition, it provides such a system wherein: the at least one low-pressure fluid source comprises at least one fluid circulation pump adapted to circulate the water of such at least one pool of water; such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one automatic hose deployer adapted to automatically deploy the at least one vacuum hose on activation of the at least one fluid circulation pump; and such at least one hose retractor comprises at least one automatic hose retractor adapted to automatically retract the at least one vacuum hose on deactivation of the at least one fluid circulation pump. And, it provides such a system further comprising at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch the coupling of the at least one low-pressure fluid source between such at least one hydraulic motor and such at least one fluid coupler.
  • Further, it provides such a system wherein such at least one automatic hose retractor comprises at least one spring tensioner adapted to tension at least one retractor spring during deployment of the at least one vacuum hose by such at least one automatic hose deployer. Even further, it provides such a system, further comprising: at least one hose deployment detector adapted to signal the detection of a completed deployment of the at least one vacuum hose into the at least one pool of water; and at least one spring tension detector adapted to signal the detection of the completed tensioning of such at least one retractor spring by such deployment of the at least one vacuum hose by such at least one automatic hose deployer; wherein such at least one automatic switch is adapted to maintain the coupling of the at least one low-pressure fluid source to such at least one hydraulic motor in the absence of such detection signals from either of such at least one hose deployment detector and such at least one spring tension detector; and wherein such at least one automatic switch is adapted to switch the coupling of the at least one low-pressure fluid source from such at least one hydraulic motor to such at least one fluid coupler in the presence of both such detection signals from such at least one hose deployment detector and such at least one spring tension detector.
  • Moreover, it provides such a system wherein such detection signals comprise at least one change in fluid pressure. Additionally, it provides such a system wherein such at least one automatic switch comprises at least one pressure operated actuator adapted to actuate at least one fluid controlling valve. Also, it provides such a system wherein such at least one hose deployer comprises: at least one drive assembly comprising at least one first hose-engaging wheel and at least one second hose-engaging wheel each one adapted to physically engage the at least one vacuum hose; wherein, during such physical engagement, the at least one vacuum hose is movably deployed by rotation of such at least one first hose-engaging wheel and such at least one second hose-engaging wheel by such at least one hydraulic motor; and wherein, during such physical engagement, the at least one vacuum hose is movably retracted by counter-rotation of such at least one first hose-engaging wheel and such at least one second hose-engaging wheel by such at least one spring tensioner.
  • In addition, it provides such a system further comprising at least one limited-slip coupler adapted to provide limited-slip decoupling of at least one mechanical force transferred between such at least one hydraulic motor, such at least one spring tensioner, and such at least one drive assembly. And, it provides such a system further comprising such at least one vacuum hose. Further, it provides such a system further comprising such at least one automatic pool cleaner. Even further, it provides such a system further comprising: at least one water level detector adapted to detect at least one low water level condition within the at least one pool of water; wherein such at least one water level detector comprises at least one automatic retraction initiator adapted to automatically initiate the retraction of the at least one vacuum hose on such detection of such at least one low water level condition within the at least one pool of water. Moreover, it provides such a system wherein such at least one automatic retraction initiator comprises at least one manual actuator adapted to provide manual actuation of such at least one automatic retraction initiator.
  • In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a pool cleaning system, comprising the steps of: coupling at least one submerged tubular sleeve to at least one body of water; placing at least one vacuum hose onto such at least one submerged tubular sleeve; deploying such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one submerged tubular sleeve into such at least one body of water; and coupling such at least one vacuum hose to at least one vacuum source. Additionally, it provides such a pool cleaning system,, wherein the step of deploying such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one submerged tubular sleeve into such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one hydraulic motor to induce such deployment. Also, it provides such a pool cleaning system, further comprising the step of retracting such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one body of water into such at least one submerged tubular sleeve. In addition, it provides such a cleaning system,, wherein such the step of retracting such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one body of water into such at least one submerged tubular sleeve further comprises the step of using at least one spring to induce such retraction. And, it provides such a cleaning system, further comprising the step of pulling at least one flow of water through such at least one vacuum hose.
  • In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a cleaning system, relating to the cleaning of at least one pool of water by at least one automatic vacuum, the at least one pool of water having at least one waterline, such system comprising: at least one vacuum hose having at least one first end and at least one second end; at least one vacuum pump, wherein such at least one vacuum pump is operationally coupled to such at least one second end of such at least one vacuum hose; at least one hose reel adapted to reel such at least one vacuum hose; at least one hose deployer adapted to deploy such at least one first end of such at least one vacuum hose into such at least one pool of water; and at least one hose retractor adapted to retract such at least one vacuum hose onto such at least one hose reel; wherein such at least one vacuum hose is adapted to remain continuously full of water when retracted onto such at least one hose reel; wherein such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one hydraulic actuator; and such at least one hydraulic actuator actuates by vacuum fluid pressure.
  • Further, it provides such a cleaning system further comprising: at least one housing adapted to house such at least one vacuum hose, on such at least one hose reel, below such at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water; wherein such at least one housing comprises at least one door adapted to provide at least one exit from such at least one housing into such at least one pool of water; and wherein such at least one door is located substantially below such at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water. Even further, it provides such a cleaning system wherein: such at least one vacuum hose further comprises at least one vacuum cleaner; and such at least one vacuum cleaner is operationally coupled to such at least one first end of such at least one vacuum hose; and such at least one vacuum hose and such at least one vacuum cleaner are positioned entirely within such at least one housing when such at least one vacuum hose is retracted for storage.
  • Moreover, it provides such a cleaning system wherein: such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one automatic hose deployer adapted to automatically deploy such at least one vacuum hose when such at least one vacuum pump is activated; and such at least one hose retractor comprises at least one automatic hose retractor adapted to automatically retract such at least one vacuum hose when such at least one vacuum pump is deactivated. Additionally, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one hose deployer is powered by such at least one vacuum pump. Also, it provides such a cleaning system further comprising at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch such at least one vacuum pump from powering such at least one hose deployer to pulling water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one hose deployer deploys such at least one vacuum hose.
  • In addition, it provides such a cleaning system further comprising at least one hydraulic motor adapted to at least one rotational force from water moved by such at least one vacuum pump. And, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one hose deployer is powered by such at least one hydraulic motor. Further, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one hose retractor comprises at least one spring adapted to wind such at least one hose reel. Even further, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one articulated carrier adapted to carry such at least one hose deployer from at least one retracted position to at least one deployed position and from at least one deployed position to at least one retracted position.
  • Moreover, it provides such a cleaning system further comprising at least one retraction detector adapted to detect the complete retraction of such at least one vacuum hose onto such at least one reel. Additionally, it provides such a cleaning system further comprising at least one deployment detector adapted to detect the finished deployment of such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one reel. Also, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one hose deployer is powered by such at least one vacuum pump prior to such at least one deployment detector detecting the finished deployment of such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one reel. In addition, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one vacuum pump pulls water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one deployment detector detects the finished deployment of such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one reel.
  • And, it provides such a cleaning system further comprising at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch such at least one vacuum pump from powering such at least one hose deployer to pulling water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one deployment detector detects the finished deployment of such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one reel. Further, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one automatic switch comprises at least one hydraulic actuator. Even further, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one deployment detector comprises: at least one spring-loaded lever adapted to provide at least one spring-loaded lever on the interior of such at least one hose reel wherein such at least one spring-loaded lever is compressed when such at least one vacuum hose presses such at least one spring-loaded lever; and wherein such at least one spring-loaded lever is released when such at least one vacuum hose is removed from such at least one spring-loaded lever; at least one spring-loaded bar adapted to provide at least one spring-loaded bar on the exterior of such at least one hose reel wherein such at least one spring-loaded bar is pulled into at least one retracted position when such at least one spring-loaded lever is compressed; and wherein such at least one spring-loaded bar means is released into at least one extended position when such at least one spring-loaded lever is released; at least one spring-loaded switch wherein such at least one spring-loaded switch is open when such at least one spring-loaded bar is pulled into such at least one retracted position; and wherein such at least one spring-loaded switch is closed when such at least one spring-loaded bar is released into such at least one extended position and contacts such at least one spring-loaded switch.
  • Even further, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one hose deployer comprises: at least one hydraulic motor; wherein such at least one hydraulic motor is powered by such at least one vacuum pump; at least one hose-guiding wheel adapted to guide such at least one vacuum hose; at least one hose-moving wheel adapted to move such at least one vacuum hose; at least one wheel compressor adapted to compress such at least one vacuum hose between such at least one hose-guiding wheel and such at least one hose-moving wheel; wherein such at least one wheel compressor is actuated by such at least one vacuum pump; and at least one drive adapted to drive such at least one hose-moving wheel off of such at least one hydraulic motor; whereby, when such at least one vacuum pump is turned on, such at least one vacuum hose is laterally compressed and is rolled longitudinally between such at least one hose-guiding wheel and such at least one hose-moving wheel. Even further, it provides such a cleaning system wherein: such at least one drive comprises at least one drive chain; and at least one drive tensioner adapted to provide consistent tension to such at least one drive chain. Even further, it provides such a cleaning system wherein such at least one hose-guiding wheel comprises such at least one hose-moving wheel.
  • In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a system, comprising: at least one vacuum pump; at least one hydraulic motor; wherein such at least one hydraulic motor is powered by such at least one vacuum pump; at least one hose-guiding wheel adapted to guide at least one hose; at least one hose-moving wheel adapted to move such at least one hose; at least one wheel tensioner adapted to tension such at least one hose between such at least one hose-guiding wheel and such at least one hose-moving wheel; wherein such at least one wheel tensioner is tensioned by such at least one vacuum pump; and at least one drive adapted to drive such at least one hose-moving wheel off of such at least one hydraulic motor; whereby, when such at least one vacuum pump is turned on, such at least one hose is laterally compressed and is rolled longitudinally between such at least one hose-guiding wheel and such at least one hose-moving wheel.
  • In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a cleaning system, comprising the steps of: storing at least one hose reel in at least one body of water; reeling at least one hose onto such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water; storing such at least one hose reel having such at least one hose in such at least one body of water; and unreeling such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water; wherein such at least one hose is kept constantly filled with water; wherein the step of unreeling such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one hydraulic motor to unreel such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water; wherein the step of using at least one hydraulic motor to unreel such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one vacuum pump to pull water through such at least one hydraulic motor; switching such at least one vacuum pump from pulling water through such at least one hydraulic motor to pulling water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one vacuum hose is unreeled from such at least one reel; wherein such step of automatically switching further comprises the step of actuating at least one hydraulic actuator; wherein such step of reeling such at least one hose on to such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one spring to reel such at least one hose on to such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water; and pulling at least one flow of water through such at least one hose.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 shows a side view, in partial section, of an automatic vacuum assembly of a pool-cleaning system, retracted into a pool-wall housing, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 shows a plan view of a swimming pool incorporating the pool-cleaning system of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 3 shows a side view, in partial section, of an automatic vacuum assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 4 shows a side view of a control assembly, hose guide, and vacuum head of the automatic vacuum assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 5 shows an end view of the control assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 6 shows a top view of the control assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 7 shows a top view of a hydraulic drive turbine of the control assembly according to the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 8 shows a side view of a turbine housing of the hydraulic drive turbine of FIG. 7.
  • FIG. 9 shows a front view of a turbine impeller of the hydraulic drive turbine of FIG. 7.
  • FIG. 10 shows a top view of the turbine impeller of FIG. 9.
  • FIG. 11 shows an end view diagrammatically illustrating the drive gearing of the control assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 12 shows a side view of a drive wheel of the control assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 13 shows a side view diagrammatically illustrating the drive gearing of the control assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 14 shows a diagram illustrating the detection and control components of the control assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 15 shows a side view of a vacuum hose end fitting according to the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 16 shows an end view of the vacuum hose end fitting of FIG. 15.
  • FIG. 17 shows the sectional view 17-17 of FIG. 16.
  • FIG. 18 shows a partial sectional view illustrating the vacuum hose end hose fitting of FIG. 15 adjacent a vacuum hose docking assembly according to the preferred embodiment of FIG. I.
  • FIG. 19 shows a partial sectional view illustrating the vacuum hose end hose fitting of FIG. 15 engaging the vacuum hose docking assembly of FIG. 18.
  • FIG. 20 shows a perspective view illustrating vacuum hose docking assembly of FIG. 18.
  • FIG. 21 shows a sectional view of the control valve assembly of FIG. 14.
  • FIG. 22 shows the section 22-22 of FIG. 21.
  • FIG. 23 shows the section 23-23 of FIG. 21.
  • FIG. 24 shows a top view of an articulated drive wheel assembly of the control assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 25 shows a side view of an armature of the articulated drive wheel assembly of FIG. 24.
  • FIG. 26 shows a top view of the armature of the articulated drive wheel assembly of FIG. 24.
  • FIG. 27 shows a side view of an alternate drive gear embodiment according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 28 shows an end view of the alternate drive gear embodiment of FIG. 27.
  • FIG. 29 shows a side view of a pool-cleaning system, retracted into its pool-wall housing, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 30 shows a side view of the automatic vacuum assembly according to FIG. 29, in a deployed position.
  • FIG. 31 shows a detail of the upper portion of the automatic vacuum assembly of FIG. 29.
  • FIG. 32 shows a rear view of the deployer of FIG. 29.
  • FIG. 33A shows a side view of a drive wheel of FIG. 29.
  • FIG. 33B shows an edge view of the drive wheel of FIG. 33A.
  • FIG. 34 shows a detail of the upper portion of the automatic vacuum assembly according to FIG. 29, detailing the retraction sensor in a latched position.
  • FIG. 35 shows a detail of the upper portion of the automatic vacuum assembly according to FIG. 29, detailing the retraction sensor in an unlatched position.
  • FIG. 36 shows a simplified diagram of a hydraulic system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 37 shows a diagram of the state of the hydraulic system during vacuum hose deployment, with the hose deployment sensor lever depressed.
  • FIG. 38 shows a diagram of the state of the hydraulic system during vacuum hose deployment, with the hose deployment sensor lever released.
  • FIG. 39 shows a diagram of the state of the hydraulic system during vacuuming.
  • FIG. 40 shows a cross-section through section 40-40 of FIG. 38.
  • FIG. 41 shows an enlarged portion of FIG. 40, with the reel moved aside to show the workings of the hose deployment sensor.
  • FIG. 42 shows a rear view of the embodiment according to FIG. 29.
  • FIG. 43 shows a side view of a deployer according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention, in a non-deploying state.
  • FIG. 44 shows a side view of the deployer according to FIG. 43, in a deploying state.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE BEST MODES AND PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
  • FIG. 1 shows a side view, in partial section, of automatic vacuum assembly 110 of pool-cleaning system 100, retracted into pool-wall housing 120, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2 shows a plan view of a water-filled swimming pool 102 incorporating pool-cleaning system 100 of FIG. 1.
  • In the following specification, the terms “suction” and “vacuum” are used interchangeably to define conditions of decreased fluid pressure within the fluid (water) transporting interstices of pool-cleaning system 100 (generally associated with plumbing assemblies on the “suction side” (low-pressure side) of a water circulation pump). In the present disclosure, “suction side” refers to the pipes and fittings that draw water out of swimming pool 102 to be filtered
  • Preferably, pool-cleaning system 100 comprises an automatic vacuum-cleaning system that automatically deploys swimming pool vacuum hose 112 with an attached pool vacuum head 113, to clean the interior of the pool of debris, and automatically retracts pool vacuum head 113 after sufficient cleaning has taking place.
  • Automatic vacuum assembly 110 is preferably organized around three principal components comprising housing 120, which is preferably installed in the side of swimming pool 102 at the time of pool construction, control assembly 108, which is placed in main housing 120 by the user, and a long storage tube 111 (connected to main housing 120) that is preferably used to store the swimming pool vacuum hose 112 when it is not in use.
  • Preferably, pool-cleaning system 100 operates utilizing fluid pressure generated by the circulation of water within the plumbing/filter system of swimming pool 102. Preferably, pool-cleaning system 100 operates by utilizing the force of moving water generated by a coupling to the suction side of the plumbing/filter system of swimming pool 102. The device most often used in pool plumbing/filter systems to circulate water within swimming pools is an electrically driven pump, identified herein as circulation pump 130, as shown (and embodying herein wherein the at least one low-pressure fluid source comprises at least one fluid circulation pump adapted to circulate the water of such at least one pool of water). It should be noted that in the diagrammatic illustration of FIG. 2, a residential size pool having a single circulation pump 130 is shown, however, larger pools, such as competition pools, municipal pools, etc., may comprise multiple pumps and/or multiple automatic vacuum assemblies 110.
  • Automatic vacuum assembly 110 is shown in FIG. 1 in a retracted (stored state) where the operational components of automatic vacuum assembly 110 are contained substantially within main housing 120 and storage tube 111 as shown. Preferably, the operational components of automatic vacuum assembly 110 are contained substantially within housing 120 when circulation pump 130 is off, as shown, and automatically deploy into pool 102 through door 122 when circulation pump 130 is operating. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other automatic vacuum assembly components, such as timers, sensors, remote controls, chemical addition systems, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, housing 120 (at least embodying herein at least one second housing comprising at least one hollow interior adapted to house such at least one first housing) is constructed as an integral structure of swimming pool 102, preferably position under a portion of pool deck 103 adjacent the peripheral wall 105 of swimming pool 102, as shown (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one second housing is prepositionally fixed relative to the at least one pool of water). Preferably, the interior of housing 120 is in fluid communication with the water contained within swimming pool 102, as shown. Preferably, automatic vacuum assembly 110 is located within housing 120 at a position submerged below the waterline of the pool, as shown. Similarly, storage tube 11I preferably extends outwardly from swimming pool 102 at an elevation adapted to maintain vacuum hose 112 below the waterline of the pool (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one tubular sleeve is adapted to maintain the at least one substantial portion of the at least one vacuum hose submerged within water from such at least one pool of water). Preferably maintaining automatic vacuum assembly 110 (including vacuum hose 120) in a submerged condition eliminates the need to physically prime (fill with water to remove air) vacuum hose 112 prior to each use, as typically required to properly operate liquid circulation pumps. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as placing the housing underneath the pool, having a dry housing, and keeping the hoses filled with water by other means, other housing dimensions, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, the interior of housing 120 extends through peripheral wall 105, as shown (at least embodying herein at least one first passage adapted to provide fluid communication between such at least one hollow interior and the at least one pool of water). Preferably, the opening formed by the extension of housing 120 through peripheral wall 105 is covered by a pivoting door 122, as shown. Preferably, door 122 is positioned substantially below the waterline of swimming pool 102, as shown (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one first passage comprises at least one door adapted to provide at least one closable and openable barrier between such at least one first passage and the least one pool of water; and wherein such at least one door is positioned substantially below at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water). Preferably, door 122 is hinged on one side, and is opened and closed by the deployment and retraction of automatic vacuum assembly 110. Preferably, door 122 is held open, preferably open about 180 degrees against peripheral wall 105, when automatic vacuum assembly 110 is in a deployed state. Preferably, door 122 is held closed when automatic vacuum assembly 110 is in a retracted state. Preferably, door 122 is sized between about fourteen inches and about sixteen inches square. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as bifold doors, sliding doors, no door, a door partially above the waterline, a door large enough to insert and remove the automatic vacuum assembly, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, access to the interior of housing 120 from the surface of pool deck 103 is provided through surface hatch 124, as shown. Preferably, surface hatch 124 comprises a removable panel set approximately flush within the upper surface of pool deck 103, as shown. Preferably, surface hatch 124 is large enough to permit access to automatic vacuum assembly 110 for cleaning and repairs, as shown. More preferably, surface hatch 124 is large enough to permit automatic vacuum assembly 110 to be conveniently inserted into and removed from housing 120, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as no surface hatch, access through the underwater door, etc., may suffice. Preferably, surface hatch 124 is constructed from a substantially rigid and durable material with molded plastic being preferred.
  • Preferably, surface hatch 124 (and the deployment equipment under it) is locatable at almost any preferred position around the periphery of swimming pool 102 (except over an in-pool bench, stair, or similar structure). Preferably, surface hatch 124 is located on the side of swimming pool 102 adjacent occupied structure 115 to limit the visibility of door 122 located below the waterline, as shown.
  • Preferably, housing 120 is formed during construction of the pool walls, by placing concrete form 126 in an appropriate position relative to the finished interior of the pool and waterline elevation. Preferably, concrete form 126 comprises a preformed and substantially rigid structure of appropriate size and interior configuration to produce housing 120, as shown. Preferably, form 126 is secured within the structural reinforcement of the pool wall and is encased within the concrete used to form peripheral wall 105 (generally a spray-applied concrete material such as Gunite or Shotcrete). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as retrofitting an existing pool, using other structural materials, not using a form, etc., may suffice. Preferably, form 126 remains permanently embedded within peripheral wall 105, as shown. Preferably, form 126 comprises at least one substantially rigid material suitable for concrete embedment, such as, for example rigid plastic, preferably including non-corrosive ABS. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those of ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as cost, user preference, intended use, etc., other housing constructions, such as welded stainless steel, poly-concretes, fiber reinforced composites, etc., may suffice.
  • A problem common in the use of plastic vacuum hoses used in maintaining swimming pools is hose hysteresis. Hose hysteresis is the tendency of the hose material to retain the shape in which it was stored prior to use. For example, if a hose is stored in a conventional coiled arrangement, on deployment, the hose will have a tendency to retain the coiled shape thus reducing the ability of the hose to move freely with the operation of the pool equipment (e.g. pool vacuum head 113). To significantly reduce hose hysteresis problems, storage tube 111 is preferably adapted to store vacuum hose 112 in an uncoiled and substantially linear configuration, as shown. Preferably, vacuum hose 112 is stored in a substantially linear configuration within storage tube 111, as shown.
  • Preferably, storage tube 111 (at least embodying herein at least one tubular sleeve adapted to removably store at least one substantial portion of the at least one vacuum hose) extents outwardly from swimming pool 102 in a linear or near-linear configuration most accomodating to the physical arrangements of the site. Most preferably, storage tube 111 is arranged along a single linear axis. In sites comprising limited area and/or other physical limitations, storage tube 111 may preferably comprise one or more bends, as shown, preferably an aggregate bend of less than 360 degrees, most preferably less than 180 degrees. Preferably, storage tube 111 comprises the minimum number of bends required to accommodate physical restrictions within the site (that prohibit the more preferred placement along a single axis). Preferably, for best in-service operation, storage tube 111 comprises no more than two 90-degree bends.
  • The overall length of storage tube 111 is preferably determined based on the size and configuration of the pool (a maximum length of about 40 feet being preferred for most home pool applications). Preferably, storage tube 111 extents underground from aperture connection 123 of housing 120 (at least embodying herein at least one second passage adapted to provide fluid communication between such at least one hollow interior and such at least one tubular sleeve) at a substantially constant elevation, as shown. Preferably, the interior of storage tube 111 is in fluid communication with the interior of housing 120 and therefore contains a continuous supply of the water of swimming pool 102 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one tubular sleeve comprises at least one first open end in fluid communication with the at least one pool of water). This preferred arrangement provides submerged (pre-primed) storage of vacuum hose 112, as shown. Preferably, the distal end 117 of storage tube 111 is turned upward to terminate at a point above grade level, as shown, to facilitate service and maintenance operations (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one tubular sleeve comprises at least one second open end; such at least one second open end is positioned above the at least one pool of water). Preferably, distal end 117 comprises removable cap 119 for service access to the interior of storage tube 111, as shown (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one second open end comprises at least one removable cover adapted to removably cover such at least one second open end). To further ensure that no hose memory problems arise, the hose is mechanically turned slightly with each deployment so that it is stored in a different position after each use.
  • Preferably, storage tube 111 is constructed from a plurality of interconnectable tubular sections, preferably tubular segments having individual lengths of about five feet and an interior diameter of about four inches (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one tubular sleeve comprises at least one plurality of interconnectable segments adapted to provide segmented assembly of such at least one tubular sleeve). Preferably, the builder of pool 102 assembles the segments to form a continuous and substantially watertight underground storage tube, as shown. Preferably, tube 111 is constructed from at least one durable material suitable for direct burial within soil 106, as shown. Tube 111 is preferably constructed from a plastic material with Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) being most preferred. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those of ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as user preference, intended use, etc., other storage pipe materials, such as Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), low and medium density polyethylenes (PE), etc., may suffice. Preferably, the individual segments of tube 111 of are permanently joined during construction, most preferably by chemical bonding. Preferably, to further ensure no hose memory problems arise; vacuum hose 112 is mechanically turned slightly with each deployment so that on retraction it is stored in a different position after each use.
  • FIG. 3 shows a side view, in partial section, of automatic vacuum assembly 110 of FIG. 1. FIG. 4 shows a side view of control assembly 108, hose guide 107, and vacuum head 113 of automatic vacuum assembly 110. FIG. 5 shows an end view of control assembly 108 of FIG. 1 with FIG. 6 showing a top view of control assembly 108 of FIG. 1. The following descriptions make specific references to FIG. 3 through FIG. 6 with continued references to the prior figures. Preferably, surface hatch 124 is supported within pool deck 103 by a separate pre-formed box identified herein as access riser 109, as best shown in FIG. 3. Preferably, access riser 109 comprises a concrete form element substantially isolated from concrete form 126 defining housing 120, as shown. Expansion joint material 121 is used to further isolate concrete form 126 from access riser 109 and any thermal movement imparted to access riser 109 by pool deck 103.
  • Preferably, control assembly 108 is positioned within the floor of housing 120, as shown. To facilitate maintenance and inspection, control assembly 108 is removable from housing 120 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one first housing is removable from such at least one hollow interior of such at least one second housing). Preferably, vacuum hose 112 extends from storage tube 111 to pass through control assembly 108 and hose guide 107, as shown. Preferably, vacuum hose 112 comprises a first end 202, preferably connected to vacuum head 113, as shown, and a second end 204, which is preferably coupled to vacuum transfer assembly 270 (as shown in FIG. 14).
  • Preferably, the lead end of vacuum hose 112 is operably coupled to vacuum head 113, as shown. Preferably, vacuum head 113 comprises a commercially available suction-type automatic pool cleaner. Automatic pool cleaners suitable for use as vacuum head 113 include the Navigator-series of vacuum-operated products produced by Hayward Pool Products inc., of Pomona, Calif., U.S.A.
  • Preferably, housing 120 supports one or more adjustable hose guides 107, as shown, which function to guide vacuum hose 112, during deployment and especially during retraction. Preferably, hose guides 107 comprises an internal set of free-running wheels adapted to assist in guiding the movement of vacuum hose 112 through door 122, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other guide arrangements, such as other hose guides, other hose guide placements, no hose guides, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, control assembly 108 automatically controls the deployment and retraction of vacuum head 113 and vacuum hose 112. Control assembly 108 (at least embodying herein at least one hose deployer adapted to deploy the at least one first end of the at least one vacuum hose into such at least one pool of water and at least one hose retractor adapted to retract the at least one vacuum hose onto such at least one tubular sleeve; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one automatic hose deployer adapted to automatically deploy the at least one vacuum hose on activation of the at least one fluid circulation pump; and such at least one hose retractor comprises at least one automatic hose retractor adapted to automatically retract the at least one vacuum hose on deactivation of the at least one fluid circulation pump) preferably comprises a set of internal drive wheels 242 (as indicated in the dashed line depiction of FIG. 4) adapted to engage and power the movement of vacuum hose 112, as shown.
  • Preferably, vacuum hose 112 comprises a reinforced, 1½ inch diameter swimming pool vacuum hose of the sort known in the art of swimming pool maintenance, as shown, such as those manufactured by Hayward Pool Products, Inc., of Pomona, Calif., U.S.A. Preferably, vacuum hose 112 comprises a circumferentially ridged exterior surface. Preferably, vacuum hose 112 comprises first end 202, preferably connected to vacuum head 113, as shown, and second end 204 (see FIG. 1) that is preferably coupled to vacuum hose end fitting 132, which preferably detactably engages vacuum hose docking assembly 294 (as shown in FIG. 14).
  • Preferably, control assembly 108 is driven by hydraulic power derived from the fluid pressure generated by the circulation of water within the plumbing/filter system of swimming pool 102. Preferably, control assembly 108 comprises an on-board hydraulic turbine 240, as shown. Water flow from the suction (low-pressure) side of the pool plumbing system is coupled to hydraulic drive turbine 240 by means of suction connection 134, as shown. Preferably, control valve assembly 136 of control assembly 108 manages the circulation of water between suction connection 134, hydraulic turbine 240, automatically switching water flow between hydraulic drive turbine 240 and vacuum hose 112 as further described in FIG. 14).
  • Preferably, control assembly 108 comprises control assembly housing 138 (at least embodying herein at least one first housing adapted to house such at least one hose deployer, such at least one fluid coupler, and such at least one hose retractor) adapted to house drive wheels 242, reduction gearing, and related control actuators of the system. Preferably, hydraulic drive turbine 240, control valve assembly 136, and constant torque spring housing 140 are each mounted externally of control assembly housing 138, as shown. Preferably, each opposing end of control assembly housing 138 comprises a circular hose port 142 providing accessible passage of vacuum hose 112 through control assembly 108, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those of ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as intended use, manufacturing costs, etc., other main body housing arrangements, such as, for example, the inclusion of lifting handles, mounting apertures, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, control assembly 108 is constructed of materials suitable for prolonged submersion in pool water (such as, for example, ozonated water, chlorinated water, or salt water). Preferred materials include aluminum, stainless steel, with oxidation-resistant plastics being most preferred. Where multiple types of metals are utilized, measures are preferably taken to prevent galvanic corrosion reactions. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other materials, such as alternate metals, other plastics, composite materials, coated materials, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 7 shows a top view of hydraulic drive turbine 240 of control assembly 108 according to the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1. FIG. 8 shows a side view of turbine housing 144 of hydraulic drive turbine 240. FIG. 9 shows a front view of turbine impeller 146 while FIG. 10 shows a top view of turbine impeller 146 of hydraulic drive turbine 240. The following teachings of the specification make particular reference to FIG. 7 through FIG. 10 and general reference to the prior figures. Hydraulic drive turbine 240 is preferably adapted to convert a flow circulating pool water to a usable mechanical rotation. Preferably, hydraulic drive turbine 240 comprises a rotating turbine impeller 146 situate within hollow circular cavity 143 of ducted turbine housing 144, as shown. Preferably, turbine housing 144 comprises at least one, preferably six funnel-shaped inlets 145, adapted conduct pool water to hollow circular cavity 143, as shown. Preferably, a first side of each funnel-shaped inlet 145 is aligned approximately tangent to the inner diameter B of hollow circular cavity 143, as shown. The opposite side is preferably set at an angle about 10-degrees divergent from the first, as shown. Each funnel-shaped inlet 145 of the example turbine of FIG. 7 comprises a minimum passage size of about one-quarter square inch. The example turbine housing of FIG. 7 comprises an outer diameter A of about six inches and an inner cavity diameter B of about 4½ inches.
  • Preferably, the outer diameter of turbine impeller 146 is sized to fit closely within hollow circular cavity 143 while maintaining appropriate rotational clearances during operation. In the example turbine impeller of FIG. 7, the backing disk 147 of turbine impeller 146 comprises a thickness C of about one-eighth inch. Preferably, the front face of backing disk 147 comprises an array of projecting impeller blades 148, preferably about 18 impeller blades 148, spaced equally about the periphery of the impeller and generally aligned along radius lines of the disk, as shown. Preferably, each planar side of impeller blade 148 comprises a surface area of slightly less than about one-half square inch.
  • Preferably, hub 149 of turbine impeller 146 is adapted to receive drive shaft 203 (as best illustrated in FIG. 11). Preferably, drive shaft 203 is rigidly fixed to hub 149 by set screw 205, as shown. A rear cover plate 207 is bolted to turbine housing 144 to complete the assembly, as shown.
  • In use, hollow circular cavity 143 of hydraulic drive turbine 240 is coupled to suction (vacuum) originating at suction connection 134 of control valve assembly 136 by means of vacuum transfer conduit 206, as shown. When circulation pump 130 is initially activated, a low-pressure condition is generated within hollow circular cavity 143 preferably drawing jets of water through funnel-shaped inlets 145. Preferably, turbine impeller 146 is forcefully rotated by the impact of the incoming water against impeller blades 148. Preferably, rotation of turbine impeller 146 results in mechanical rotation of drive shaft 203. Thus, hydraulic drive turbine 240 of such at least one hose deployer at least embodies herein at least one hydraulic motor adapted to power the deploying of the at least one first hose end of the at least one vacuum hose by such at least one hose deployer; such at least one hydraulic motor is in fluid communication with the at least one low-pressure fluid source; and such at least one hydraulic motor is adapted to operate by directing at least one movement of the water of the at least one pool of water toward the at least one low-pressure fluid source
  • FIG. 11 shows a cut away end view diagrammatically illustrating the interior drive gear arrangements of control assembly 108. FIG. 12 shows a side view of a representative drive wheel 242 of control assembly 108. FIG. 13 shows a side view diagrammatically illustrating the drive gear arrangements of control assembly 108 of FIG. 1.
  • The deployment and retraction of vacuum hose 112 by control assembly 108 is performed by an internal drive mechanism that preferably comprises drive assembly 241 operated by gear train assembly 208, as shown. Preferably, rotational torque generated by hydraulic drive turbine 240 is transferred along drive shaft 203 to drive gear 210, as shown. Preferably, drive gear 210 is continuously engaged on pivoting gear assembly 212, as shown. Preferably, pivoting gear assembly 212 comprises two gears, first gear 214 rigidly coupled along a connecting shaft to second gear 216, as shown. Preferably, drive gear 210 is continuouly engaged on first gear 214, as shown. Preferably, pivoting gear assembly 212 is mounted within pivoting armature 218, as shown. Preferably, pivoting armature 218 is adapted to movably engage and disengage second gear 216 with clutch input gear 220, as shown.
  • When circulation pump 130 is activated, the low-pressure vacuum generated actuates start-stop piston 215 (as further described in FIG. 14). The actuation of start-stop piston 215 moves pivoting armature 218 to a position engaging second gear 216, as shown. Tensioning spring 217 is preferably used to bias pivoting armature 218 to a position of gear disengagement that disengages second gear 216 with clutch input gear 220 when circulation pump 130 is deactivated and vacuum pressure is no longer supplied to start-stop piston 215.
  • Preferably, torque applied by second gear 216 at clutch input gear 220 is delivered to clutch assembly 226 by means of clutch shaft 224, as shown. Preferably, clutch assembly 226 comprises an arrangement of coaxial clutch disks held in frictional contact by clutch spring 228, as shown. Clutch assembly 226 (at least embodying herein at least one limited-slip coupler adapted to provide limited-slip decoupling of at least one mechanical force transferred between such at least one hydraulic motor, such at least one spring tensioner, and such at least one drive assembly) is preferably adapted to decouple rotational torque applied along clutch shaft 224, from both first spring gear 230 and from primary wheel drive gear 222 (when a maximum predetermined level of torque is acheived). Preferably, pluralities of small clutch disks are rigidly fixed to clutch shaft 224, as shown. Preferably, these small clutch disks are interspersed between and frictionally engage; a first set of larger clutch disks 225 firmly coupled to first spring gear 230; and a second independent set of larger clutch disks 227 firmly coupled to primary wheel drive gear 222. Preferably, torque is transferred across clutch assembly 226 so long as friction between the larger clutch disks and smaller clutch disks is maintained. An application of excess torque within clutch assembly 226 overcomes the frictional transfer of force between the disks thereby decoupling the source of the torque force from the remaining components of the system.
  • Preferably, first spring gear 230 is adapted to transfer torque from clutch assembly 226 to a larger diameter second spring gear 232, as shown. Preferably, second spring gear 232 is adapted to transfer torque to constant torque spring 141 (located within constant torque spring housing 140) through spring drive shaft 236, as shown.
  • Similarly, primary wheel drive gear 222 is preferably adapted to transfer torque from clutch assembly 226 to drive assembly 241, as shown. Preferably, drive assembly 241 comprises upper and lower drive wheels 242, pivoting armatures 248, secondary wheel drive gear 238, and tension springs 250, as shown. Preferably, primary wheel drive gear 222 transfers torque from clutch assembly 226 to drive assembly 241 by engaging the peripheral sprocket rings 234 of the upper drive wheels 242, as shown. In addition, primary wheel drive gear 222 is preferably adapted to transfer torque to secondary wheel drive gear 238, as shown. Preferably, secondary wheel drive gear 238 transfers operational torque from primary wheel drive gear 222 to the peripheral sprocket rings 234 of the lower drive wheels 242, as shown.
  • Preferably, each drive wheel 242 comprises a cylindrical hub 244 adjoining two opposing frustoconical side spools, as shown. Preferably, at least one of the two frustoconical side spools comprise sprocket ring 234, as shown. Preferably, a plurality of hose-engaging members 246 project outwardly from hub 244, as shown. Preferably, hose-engaging members 246 are adapted to mechanically manipulate vacuum hose 112 by engaging the circumferentially ridged exterior surface of vacuum hose 112. Preferably, each drive wheel 242 comprises a central axle about which drive wheel 242 rotates. Preferably, upper drive wheels 242 are geared to rotate opposite of lower drive wheels 242, as shown, thus driving vacuum hose 112 (indicated in dash lines) through control assembly 108 in a generally linear manner.
  • Preferably, each lower drive wheel 242 is mounted within a pivoting armature 248 forming lower articulated drive wheel assembly 330, as shown (and further described in FIG. 24). Preferably, both pivoting armatures 248 rotate about the center axis of secondary wheel drive gear 238, as shown. Preferably, each lower drive wheel 242 is held in operational tension against vacuum hose 112 by a tension spring 250 coupled to each pivoting armature 248, as shown. A manually depressible bar 252 (or similar actuator structure) is used to manually disengage drive wheels 242 from vacuum hose 112, as shown. Preferably, by applying a downward force (indicated by arrow 252A) on each pivoting armature 248, each lower drive wheel 242 is swung away from a position of engagement with vacuum hose 112 (thus allowing removal or repositioning of the hose).
  • In preferred operation, hydraulic drive turbine 240 is operationally coupled to constant torque spring 141 by clutch assembly 226 of gear train assembly 208. As hydraulic drive turbine 240 operates, drive wheels 242 deploy vacuum hose 112. As vacuum hose 112 is deployed, constant torque spring 141 within constant torque spring housing 140 is simultaneously wound. If vacuum hose 112 is fully deployed before constant torque spring 141 is fully wound, clutch assembly 226 will allow primary wheel drive gear 222 to slip relative to the rotation of shaft 224 until constant torque spring 141 is fully wound. If constant torque spring 141 (at least one spring tensioner) is fully wound before vacuum hose 112 is fully deployed, clutch assembly 226 will allow first spring gear 230 to slip relative to the rotation of shaft 224 until vacuum hose 112 is fully deployed.
  • When constant torque spring 141 is fully wound and vacuum hose 112 is fully deployed, the system detects the condition (as described in FIG. 14) and switches suction flow from hydraulic drive turbine 240 to vacuum hose 112 and vacuum head 113. Since drive turbine 240 is no longer powered, a gravity actuated ratchet, most preferably a ratchet 253 engaging first gear 214, holds gear train assembly 208, drive wheels 242, and vacuum hose 112 firmly in place during deployment.
  • When circulation pump 130 (typically the swimming pool filter pump) turns off, start-stop piston 215 is deactivated allowing pivoting gear assembly 212 to disengage hydraulic drive turbine 240 from the balance of the gear train assembly 208, as shown. As this happens, constant torque spring 141 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one automatic hose retractor comprises at least one spring tensioner adapted to tension at least one retractor spring during deployment of the at least one vacuum hose by such at least one automatic hose deployer) releases its wound up energy through spring drive shaft 236, second spring gear 232, first spring gear 230, clutch assembly 226, primary wheel drive gear 222, and drive wheels 242, as shown. This results in vacuum hose 112 being pulled back into storage tube 111 and vacuum head 113 being drawn back into main housing 120. The above-described arrangements at least embody herein at least one drive assembly comprising at least one first hose-engaging wheel and at least one second hose-engaging wheel each one adapted to physically engage the at least one vacuum hose; wherein, during such physical engagement, the at least one vacuum hose is movably deployed by rotation of such at least one first hose-engaging wheel and such at least one second hose-engaging wheel by such at least one hydraulic motor; and wherein, during such physical engagement, the at least one vacuum hose is movably retracted by counter-rotation of such at least one first hose-engaging wheel and such at least one second hose-engaging wheel by such at least one spring tensioner.
  • Preferably, constant torque spring housing 140 comprises a waterproof enclosure for containing constant torque spring 141 in a dry condition. At least one shaft seal is used at the penetration of spring drive shaft 236 with constant torque spring housing 140. Preferably, constant torque spring 141 comprises an output spool having a diameter of about four inches and a supply spool having a diameter of at least two inches. Preferably, a 301 stainless steel spring having a length of about 33 inches, a thickness of about 0.02 inches, and a width of about one inch operates between the two spools. Preferably, constant torque spring 141 is designed for an operational life of at least about 4000 cycles, more preferably about 10,000 cycles.
  • FIG. 14 shows a diagram illustrating the detection and control components of control assembly 108 of FIG. 1. Control assembly 108 preferably comprises four detection and control components identified herein as spring-fully-wound detector 260, hose deployment detector 262 of vacuum transfer assembly 270, turbine drive controller 264, and control valve assembly 136, as shown. In the prior figures, the general operation of control assembly 108 was discussed in specific regard to the mechanical assemblies directly related to the deployment and retraction of vacuum hose 112. In FIG. 14, the operation of and control of the suction water flow is discussed in further detail.
  • Preferably, turbine drive controller 264 comprises start-stop piston 215 as previously described in FIG. 13. Preferably, start-stop piston 215 is pressure actuated by a vacuum connection originating at primary vacuum chamber 135 of control valve assembly 136, as shown (preferably coupled directly to vacuum pressure originating at connection 134 of FIG. 5). Preferably, piston 215 a of start-stop piston 215 is drawn into the housing of start-stop piston 215 in the presence of suction pressure at primary vacuum chamber 135.
  • Preferably, control valve assembly 136 (at least embodying herein at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch the coupling of the at least one low-pressure fluid source between such at least one hydraulic motor and such at least one fluid coupler) comprises a plurality of pressure actuated, float actuated, and manually actuated valves, as shown. The primary function of control valve assembly 136 is to switch suction water flow between hydraulic drive turbine 240 and vacuum hose 112. A second function of control valve assembly 136 is to provide a means for manual and automatic low water-level retraction of vacuum hose 112 during operation of circulation pump 130.
  • The principle component enabling the above-described switch of suction water flow between hydraulic drive turbine 240 and vacuum hose 112 is main diverter valve 266, as shown. Preferably, main diverter valve 266 is adapted to control the flow of water entering primary vacuum chamber 135 from vacuum transfer conduit 206 (coupled to hydraulic drive turbine 240) and/or vacuum hose transfer conduit 268, as shown. Note that vacuum hose transfer conduit 268 of control valve assembly 136 extends to transfer assembly 270, as shown.
  • Preferably, main diverter valve 266 is movably retained within control valve body of control valve assembly 136, as shown. Preferably, main diverter valve 266 comprises two valve gates rigidly coupled along common shaft 273. Preferably, first valve gate 274 opens and closes a passageway between primary vacuum chamber 135 and vacuum transfer conduit 206. Similarly, second valve gate 276 preferably opens and closes a passageway between primary vacuum chamber 135 and vacuum hose transfer conduit 268. Preferably, main diverter valve 266 is configured such that first valve gate 274 fully opens as second valve gate 276 fully closes (and vice versa). This preferred arrangement provides a means to establish water flow alternately between hydraulic drive turbine 240 and vacuum hose 112. Main diverter valve 266 is preferably biased toward a condition whereby first valve gate 274 (controlling water flow from the turbine) is normally open and second valve gate 276 (controlling water flow from vacuum hose 112) is normally closed. Preferably, a helical spring 280, located along an extension of common shaft 273, provides the appropriate biasing force.
  • Operation of main diverter valve 266 is preferably automatic. Preferably, operation of main diverter valve 266 is controlled by vacuum actuated bellows 247, as shown. Preferably, common shaft 273 of main diverter valve 266 extends through the wall of vacuum transfer conduit 206 and is fixed to the interior of bellows 247, as shown. Preferably, the interior of vacuum actuated bellows 247 is coupled by pressure transfer passage 278 to primary vacuum chamber 135, as shown. During periods when circulation pump 130 is inactive, bellows 247 is held in an expanded configuration by spring 280, as shown. In this condition, first valve gate 274 is open and second valve gate 276 is closed. Preferably, a low-pressure (vacuum) condition within bellows 247 results in the contraction of bellows 247 (at least embodying herein at least one pressure operated actuator adapted to actuate at least one fluid controlling valve) and movement of main diverter valve 266 to contemporaneously close first valve gate 274 (supplying vacuum pressure to the turbine) and open second valve gate 276 (supplying vacuum pressure to vacuum hose 112). Preferably, for contraction of bellows 247 (and switching of water flow between hydraulic drive turbine 240 and vacuum hose 112) to occur, three conditions must be met. First, circulation pump 130 (see FIG. 2) must be active and supplying vacuum to primary vacuum chamber 135. Secondly, pressure transfer conduit 282 at spring-fully-wound detector 260 must be blocked. Thirdly, pressure transfer conduit 282 at hose deployment detector 262 must be blocked.
  • Preferably, spring-fully-wound detector 260 is adapted to suppress the actuation of bellows 247 until constant torque spring 141 is fully wound. This is preferred detection procedure is accomplished by adapting spring drive shaft 236 with worm gear assembly 284, as shown. Preferably, worm gear assembly 284 is adapted to rotate seal 286 to block pressure inlet 288 of pressure transfer conduit 282, as shown. The blocking of inlet 288 is preferably calibrated to coincide with an appropriate tensioning of constant torque spring 141. So long as inlet 288 remains open, vacuum pressure within bellows 247 is insufficient to actuate main diverter valve 266.
  • Similarly, pressure transfer conduit 282 comprises a second pressure inlet 290 at hose deployment detector 262, as shown. Preferably, pressure inlet 290 is blocked when vacuum hose 112 is fully deployed and a specially designed vacuum hose end fitting 132 is engaged within vacuum hose docking assembly 294 (the preferred arrangements and operation of vacuum hose end fitting 132 and vacuum hose docking assembly 294 are explained in further detail in FIG. 15). When inlet 290 is open, indicating that vacuum hose 112 is not fully deployed, vacuum pressure within bellows 247 is insufficient to actuate main diverter valve 266.
  • The above described arrangements at least embody herein at least one hose deployment detector adapted to signal the detection of a completed deployment of the at least one vacuum hose into the at least one pool of water; and at least one spring tension detector adapted to signal the detection of the completed tensioning of such at least one retractor spring by such deployment of the at least one vacuum hose by such at least one automatic hose deployer; wherein such at least one automatic switch is adapted to maintain the coupling of the at least one low-pressure fluid source to such at least one hydraulic motor in the absence of such detection signals from either of such at least one hose deployment detector and such at least one spring tension detector; and wherein such at least one automatic switch is adapted to switch the coupling of the at least one low-pressure fluid source from such at least one hydraulic motor to such at least one fluid coupler in the presence of both such detection signals from such at least one hose deployment detector and such at least one spring tension detector.
  • FIG. 15 shows a side view of vacuum hose end fitting 132 according to the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1. FIG. 16 shows an end view of vacuum hose end fitting 132 with FIG. 17 showing the sectional view 17-17 of FIG. 16. FIG. 18 shows a partial sectional view illustrating vacuum hose end fitting 132 adjacent vacuum hose docking assembly 294 according to the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1. FIG. 19 shows a partial sectional view illustrating vacuum hose end fitting 132 operationally engaging vacuum hose docking assembly 294 of FIG. 18 and FIG. 20 shows a perspective view illustrating vacuum hose docking assembly of FIG. 18.
  • As previously described, a highly preferred feature of pool-cleaning system 100 comprises the uncoiled or semi-linear storage of vacuum hose 112. To enable the use of substantially linear storage, a means for establishing a vacuum connection to vacuum hose 112 must be provided. Preferably, control assembly 108 comprises vacuum transfer assembly 270, as shown. Preferably, vacuum transfer assembly 270 (at least embodying herein further comprising at least one fluid coupler adapted to couple the at least one second hose end of the at least one vacuum hose to the at least one low-pressure fluid source) comprises a novel vacuum-pressure transfer arrangement combining attachable vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 engagable within vacuum hose docking assembly 294, as shown.
  • Preferably, the proximal end of vacuum hose end fitting 132 comprises an internally disposed female receiver 300 (at least embodying herein at least one vacuum hose end fitting adapted to removably engage the at least one second hose end of the at least one vacuum hose) adapted to removably receive male end fitting 302 of vacuum hose 112, as shown. Preferably, female receiver 300 comprises a slight conical taper to facilitate frictional retention of male end fitting 302, as shown. Preferably, female receiver 300 is in fluid communication with at least one, more preferably three symmetrically positioned vacuum transfer ports 304, as shown (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one vacuum hose end fitting comprises at least one vacuum transfer port adapted to transfer fluid between the at least one vacuum hose and such at least one interior chamber).
  • Preferably, vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 comprises two circumferential mating surfaces adapted to form a temporary pressure seal with two complementary mating surfaces of vacuum hose docking assembly 294, as shown. Preferably, the exterior circumference of vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 comprises first seating surface 306 and second seating surface 308, as shown. Preferably, vacuum transfer ports 304 of vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 are positioned between first seating surface 306 and second seating surface 308, as shown.
  • Preferably, vacuum hose docking assembly 294 (at least embodying herein at least one docking receiver adapted to removably receive such at least one vacuum hose end fitting) comprises a generally cylindrical structure having two open ends joined, coaxially, by a continuous hollow interior chamber 310, as shown (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one at least one docking receiver comprises at least one interior chamber adapted to receive interiorly at least one portion of such at least one vacuum hose end fitting and pass exteriorly the at least one vacuum hose). Preferably, interior chamber 310 comprises inlet port 316 adapted to provide a fluid coupling to vacuum hose transfer conduit 268, as shown (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one interior chamber comprises at least one coupling to the at least one low-pressure fluid source). Preferably, the interior circumference of hollow interior chamber 310 comprises third seating surface 312 and fourth seating surface 314, as shown. Preferably, inlet port 316 enters interior chamber 310 between third seating surface 312 and fourth seating surface 314, as shown. Third seating surface 312 and fourth seating surface are preferably adapted to form a temporary pressure seal with first seating surface 306 and second seating surface 308, respectively (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one interior chamber comprises at least one pressure seal adapted to form at least one pressure seal with such at least one vacuum transfer port; and wherein such at least one pressure seal is adapted to form at least one pressure coupling to couple operationally the at least one vacuum hose with the at least one low-pressure fluid source).
  • Preferably, vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 is constructed of one or more materials suitable for continuous submersion in pool water with at least one molded plastic being preferred. Preferably, vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 is constructed of one or more materials comprising a substantially neutral density relative to the pool water in which it operates. This preferred feature assists in retraction of vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 and vacuum hose 112 into storage tube 111.
  • Preferably, vacuum hose docking assembly 294 is mounted within control assembly housing 138, between the circular hose port 142 facing storage tube 111 and drive assembly 241. In preferred use, vacuum hose 112 is preferably positioned to pass through hollow interior chamber 310 of vacuum hose docking assembly 294, as best shown in FIG. 18. Second end 204 of vacuum hose 112 is preferably fitted with vacuum hose end hose fitting 132, as shown. Preferably, drive wheels 242 of drive assembly 241 (see FIG. 13) draw vacuum hose 112 from storage tube 111 (see FIG. 1) through vacuum hose docking assembly 294 during hose deployment. At the full deployment of vacuum hose 112, vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 enters and engages vacuum hose docking assembly 294, as best illustrated in FIG. 19. At full deployment, third seating surface 312 forms a temporary pressure seal with first seating surface 306 as fourth seating surface forms a temporary pressure seal with second seating surface 308, as shown. This “sealed” engagement of vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 within vacuum hose docking assembly 294 provides a fluid coupling between hollow interior chamber 310, vacuum transfer ports 304, female receiver 300, and the interior of vacuum hose 112, as shown.
  • FIG. 18, FIG. 19, and FIG. 20 illustrate the preferred configuration of hose deployment detector 262 at vacuum hose docking assembly 294. Preferably, fourth seating surface 314 comprises pressure inlet 290 of transfer conduit 282 (as best illustrated in FIG. 14). Preferably, second seating surface 308 blocks pressure inlet 290 as vacuum hose end hose fitting 132 engages vacuum hose docking assembly 294 thus indicating to control valve assembly 136, by mechanical pressure, the full deployment of vacuum hose 112.
  • FIG. 21 shows a sectional view of control valve assembly 136 of FIG. 14. Preferably, control valve assembly 136 comprises low water level detector 320, as shown. Preferably, low water level detector 320 comprises float 322 that detects when the swimming pool water level is below a level allowing pool-cleaning system 100 to operate properly. Preferably, float 322 is coupled to valve 324 that preferably operates to block off vacuum pressure applied to primary vacuum chamber 135 by circulation pump 130 at suction connection 134, as shown. If water level drops below elevation X, as shown, both float 322 and valve 324 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one water level detector comprises at least one automatic retraction initiator adapted to automatically initiate the retraction of the at least one vacuum hose on such detection of such at least one low water level condition within the at least one pool of water) lower to block the flow of water drawn from primary vacuum chamber 135 toward suction connection 134 by the action of circulation pump 130, as shown. With vacuum pressure blocked, control assembly 108 reacts by performing the same retraction operations that occur when circulation pump 130 is deactivated, i.e. vacuum hose 112 and vacuum head 113 are retracted into main housing 120 and storage tube 111.
  • In addition, control valve assembly 136 comprises manual stow button 325, as shown. When a pool user wants to remove vacuum hose 112 and vacuum head 113 from swimming pool 102, he/she can press manual stow button 325 that is connected to valve 324 to lower and block off vacuum pressure applied to primary vacuum chamber 135 by circulation pump 130. Again, with vacuum pressure blocked, control assembly 108 performs the same retraction operations that occur when circulation pump 130 is deactivated, i.e. vacuum hose 112 and vacuum head 113 are retracted into main housing 120 and storage tube 111.
  • Preferably, manual stow button 325 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one automatic retraction initiator comprises at least one manual actuator adapted to provide manual actuation of such at least one automatic retraction initiator) extends upwardly through an access aperture located within surface hatch 124, as shown. Preferably, manual stow button 325 comprises adjustment feature 326 adapted to allow adjustments to the elevational position of manual stow button 325 relative to surface hatch 124.
  • For ease of assembly, maintenance, and manufacture, control valve assembly 136 is constructed as a multi-part assembly, as shown. Preferably, valve assembly 136 is constructed of one or more durable materials suitable for continuous submersion in pool water with plastics being preferred.
  • FIG. 22 shows the section 22-22 of FIG. 21 and FIG. 23 shows the section 23-23 of FIG. 21. Both FIG. 22 and FIG. 23 enable preferred arrangements of a preferred commercial embodiment of control valve assembly 136. FIG. 24 shows a top view of lower articulated drive wheel assembly 330 comprising a set of drive wheels 242 engaged within two pivoting armatures 248, as shown. FIG. 25 shows a side view of a single pivoting armature 248 with FIG. 26 showing a top view of pivoting armature 248 of lower articulated drive wheel assembly 330. Preferably, lower articulated drive wheel assembly 330 is adapted to provide a means of manually disengaging vacuum hose 112 from control assembly 108 at any point of engagement along the hose. In addition, lower articulated drive wheel assembly 330 maintains a proper engagement tension with vacuum hose 112 to avoid slippage during deployment and retraction. Preferably, each pivoting armature 248 comprises a generally U-shaped member, as shown. Preferably, each pivoting armature 248 comprises end apertures 332, about which the arms pivot, and mid apertures 334 adapted to receive the central axle of drive wheels 242, as shown. The Linear distance between end aperture 332 and mid aperture 334 is approximately equal to the combined radiuses secondary wheel drive gear 238 and peripheral sprocket ring 234, as best shown in FIG. 13. This preferred arrangement places the central axle of secondary wheel drive gear 238 at end aperture 332 to thus allowing a continuous engagement of secondary wheel drive gear 238 with both peripheral sprocket rings 234 in all operational positions of pivoting armatures 248, as shown.
  • FIG. 27 shows a side view of alternate gear embodiment 340 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 28 shows an end view of the alternate gear embodiment 340 of FIG. 27. Preferably, alternate gear embodiment 340 comprises a unitary gear assembly adapted for use at primary wheel drive gear 222 and first spring gear 230. Preferably, one side of alternate gear embodiment 340 comprises hollow cylindrical extension 342 having a set of projecting tabs 344 interiorly disposed therein. Preferably, projecting tabs 344 function to properly position and retain larger clutch disks 227 of clutch assembly 226. Preferably, alternate gear embodiment 340 comprises a central aperture 346 adapted to pass shaft 224.
  • FIG. 29 shows a side view of an alternate embodiment of pool-cleaning system 100 identified herein as automatic vacuum assembly 1110 according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 29 illustrates automatic vacuum assembly 1110 retracted into its pool-wall housing 1120. Preferably, automatic vacuum assembly 1110 comprises a reel-type vacuum hose storage arrangement that is used in situations where use of the more preferred linear hose storage embodiments is impractical. Preferably, the alternate embodiment of pool-cleaning system 100 comprises automatic vacuum assembly 1110, housing 1120, and circulation pump 130, as shown. Preferably, automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is housed within housing 1120 (at least embodying herein filler means for providing for such vacuum hose means to remain continuously full of water; and at least embodying herein at least one filler adapted to provide for such at least one vacuum hose to remain continuously full of water; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one filler further comprises at least one housing adapted to provide at least one housing adapted to contain such at least one vacuum hose, on such reel means, below such at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one vacuum hose is entirely within such at least one housing when such at least one vacuum hose is in a retracted position), and is connected to circulation pump 130, as shown. Preferably, automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is stored in housing 1120 when circulation pump 130 is off, as shown, and automatic vacuum assembly 1110 automatically deploys vacuum hose 112 into pool 102 through door 1122 when circulation pump 130 is on, as shown. Automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is shown in FIG. 29 in a retracted, stored state, where automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is entirely within housing 1120. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other automatic vacuum assembly components, such as timers, sensors, remote controls, chemical addition systems, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, housing 1120 is built into the side of a pool, preferably under a portion of the pool deck, which communicates with the water in the pool, so that automatic vacuum assembly 1110 may be placed into housing 1120 and be substantially submerged below the waterline of the pool, as shown (at least embodying herein the step of storing at least one hose reel in at least one body of water). Preferably, housing 1120 is about one foot wide by about two feet deep (excluding the tunnel to door 1122) by about four feet tall. Preferably automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is submerged within housing 1120 and automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is kept constantly full of water, which is necessary for most vacuum pumps 1130. This eliminates the typical step of priming a vacuum hose 112 prior to use. Preferably, automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is kept conveniently close to the pool, and retracts out of sight when not in use. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as placing the housing underneath the pool, having a dry housing, and keeping the hoses filled with water by other means, other housing dimensions, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, housing 1120 communicates to the pool through door 1122 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one housing further comprises at least one door adapted to provide at least one exit from such at least one housing into such at least one pool of water; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one door is below such at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water), as shown. Preferably, door 1122 is entirely below the waterline of the pool, as shown. Preferably, door 1122 is hinged on one side, and is opened and closed by the deployment and retraction of automatic vacuum assembly 1110. Preferably, door 1122 is held open, preferably open about 180 degrees against the adjacent pool wall, when automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is in a deployed state. Preferably, door 1122 is held closed when automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is in a retracted state. Preferably, door 1122 is about fourteen inches wide by about fourteen inches tall. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as bifold doors, sliding doors, no door, a door partially above the waterline, a door large enough to insert and remove the automatic vacuum assembly, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, housing 1120 communicates to the pool deck surface through surface hatch 1124, as shown. Preferably, surface hatch 1124 is large enough to permit access to automatic vacuum assembly 1110 for cleaning and repairs, as shown. More preferably, surface hatch 1124 is large enough to permit automatic vacuum assembly 1110 to be conveniently inserted into and removed from housing 1120, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as no surface hatch, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, housing 1120 is constructed while the pool is being constructed, by digging a sufficiently-sized hole, inserting concrete form 1126 positioned to connect with the interior of the pool, and then filling the remainder of the hole with concrete (preferably Gunite or Shotcrete). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as retrofitting an existing pool, using other structural materials, not using a form, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, vacuum pump 1130 is a central vacuum pump of the sort commonly known in the art of swimming pools. Preferably, vacuum pump 1130 connects to hydraulic system 1150 of automatic vacuum assembly 1110, further described below.
  • Preferably, automatic vacuum assembly 1110 comprises vacuum hose 112, deployer 1114, reel 1116, and retractor 1118, as shown. Preferably, automatic vacuum assembly 1110 also comprises chassis 1111 and vacuum head 113 (at least embodies herein wherein such at least one vacuum hose further comprises at least one vacuum cleaner adapted to provide at least one vacuum cleaner, wherein such at least one vacuum cleaner is attached to such at least one first end of such at least one vacuum hose), as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other components, such as timers, sensors, chemical adding equipment, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, vacuum hose 112 comprises a reinforced, two-inch diameter swimming pool vacuum hose of the sort known in the art of swimming pool maintenance, as shown, such as those manufactured by Hayward Pool Products, Inc., of Elizabeth, N.J., US. Preferably, vacuum hose 112 has a laterally-ridged exterior surface. Preferably, vacuum hose 112 has a first end 1202, preferably connected to vacuum head 113, as shown, and a second end 1204, which is preferably secured inside reel 1116 and which preferably detachably connects to hydraulic system 1150 (as shown in FIG. 37). Preferably, vacuum hose 112 is wound onto reel 1116 (at least embodying herein hose reel means for providing at least one hose reel for such vacuum hose means; and at least embodying herein at least one hose reel adapted to provide at least one hose reel for such at least one vacuum hose) for storage, as shown (at least embodying herein the step of reeling at least one hose onto such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water; and at least embodying herein the step of storing such at least one hose reel having such at least one hose in such at least one body of water). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as a stopper on the end of the vacuum hose to prevent the vacuum hose from retracting into the deployer when the vacuum cleaner is removed, other vacuum hose types, other vacuum hose diameters, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, reel 1116 comprises hub 1206, sides 1208, and axle 1210 (shown in cross-section in FIG. 41). Preferably, axle 1210 connects to chassis 1111, as shown. Preferably, hub 1206 is two hose-widths wide, as shown in FIG. 41, and sides 1208 are tall enough to hold about seven lengths of standard four-foot long vacuum hoses 112 (about 28 feet of two-inch diameter vacuum hose 112). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, pool size, etc., other arrangements, such as the reel being wide enough to hold three hose-widths, sized to hold ten hose-lengths, holding a length of hose suited for a particular pool, a single-piece hose of the required length, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, chassis 1111 supports the other components of automatic vacuum assembly 1110, as shown. Preferably, chassis 1111 comprises aluminum bar stock, as shown.
  • Preferably, automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is constructed of materials able to withstand prolonged submersion in pool water, such as, for example, ozonated water, chlorinated water, or salt water. Preferred materials include aluminum, stainless steel, oxidation-resistant plastics such as, for example, Teflon and PVC, etc. Where multiple types of metals are used, care should be taken to prevent galvanic corrosion reactions. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other materials, such as other metals, other plastics, composite materials, coated materials, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, retractor 1118 (at least embodying herein hose retractor means for retracting such vacuum hose means onto such hose reel means; and at least embodying herein at least one hose retractor adapted to retract such at least one vacuum hose onto such at least one hose reel; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hose retractor comprises at least one automatic hose retractor adapted to automatically retract such at least one vacuum hose when such at least one vacuum pump is turned off.) retracts vacuum hose 112 when vacuum hose 112 is released from deployer 1114 and is allowed to move freely. Preferably, retractor 1118 rotates reel 1116 counterclockwise to wind vacuum hose 112 onto reel 1116, as shown. Preferably, retractor 1118 comprises spring 1220, as shown, which is wound when vacuum hose 112 is deployed from reel 1116 (at least embodying herein wherein such step of reeling such at least one hose on to such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one spring to reel such at least one hose on to such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water). Preferably, spring 1220 comprises a constant-force spring, as shown. Preferably, spring 1220 comprises spring hub 1221, which is preferably attached to axle 1210, drum 1222, which is preferably attached to chassis 1111 by bracket 1223, and spring band 1224, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other retractors, such as other types of springs, motorized retractors, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, deployer 1114 (at least embodies herein hose deployer means for deploying such at least one first end of such vacuum hose means into the at least one pool of water; and at least embodies herein at least one hose deployer adapted to deploy such at least one first end of such at least one vacuum hose into such at least one pool of water; and at least embodies herein wherein such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one automatic hose deployer adapted to automatically deploy such at least one vacuum hose when such at least one vacuum pump is turned on; and at least embodies herein wherein such at least one vacuum pump simultaneously powers such at least one articulated carrier and such at least one hose deployer) comprises carriage 1230, deployment bellows 1232, housing 1234, and drive system 1236, as shown. Preferably, deployer 1114 moves to deploy the first end 1202 of vacuum hose 112 into the pool during vacuuming (at least embodying herein the step of unreeling such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water), and retracts into housing 1120 for storage, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other deployers, such as a motorized reel, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, carriage 1230 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one articulated carrier adapted to carry such at least one hose deployer from at least one retracted position to at least one deployed position and vice versa) comprises four carriage bars 1231, which are each pivotally connected to housing 1234 at one end, and to chassis 1111 at the other end, as shown. Preferably, carriage 1230 moves from the upright, retracted position shown into a tilted, deployed position (as shown in FIG. 30) when pulled by deployment bellows 1232 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one vacuum pump powers such at least one articulated carrier; and at least embodies herein wherein such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one hydraulic actuator). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as other numbers of carriage bars, other types of carriages, motorized carriage movement, other types of carriage movement such as sliding on rails, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, deployment bellows 1232 comprise one or more deployment bellows 1232, as shown. Preferably, deployment bellows 1232 are attached to carriage 1230 at one end, preferably with bracket 1233, and are attached to chassis 1111 at the other end, as shown. Preferably, deployment bellows 1232 are also attached to hydraulic system 1150, preferably near the end of deployment bellows 1232 attached to chassis 1111, as shown. Preferably, when circulation pump 130 is turned on, hydraulic system 1150 pulls water out of deployment bellows 1232, compressing deployment bellows 1232, and pulling carriage 1230 forward (as shown in FIG. 30). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other types of hydraulic actuators, such as other numbers of bellows, other shapes of bellows, other diameters of bellows, hydraulic pistons, hydraulic motors, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, housing 1234 comprises two substantially flat, parallel metal plates 1235, which preferably provide structural support for drive system 1236 and connection points for carriage 1230, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other housings, such as an arrangement of bars, additional enclosed sides, other shapes, other sizes, other materials, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, drive system 1236 (at least embodies herein at least one drive adapted to drive such at least one hose-moving wheel off of such at least one hydraulic motor) comprises hydraulic motor 1240, drive wheels 1242, gears 1243, drive chain 1244, idle sprocket 1246, wheel positioner bellows 1247, wheel positioner lever 1248, and wheel positioner spring 1249, as shown.
  • Preferably, hydraulic motor 1240 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hose deployer is powered by such at least one vacuum pump; and at least embodying herein at least one hydraulic motor adapted to power at least one motor with water moved by such at least one vacuum pump; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hose deployer is powered by such at least one hydraulic motor; and at least embodying herein at least one hydraulic motor adapted to provide at least one hydraulic motor; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hydraulic motor is powered by such at least one vacuum pump) comprises a vane-type hydraulic motor of the sort known in the art of hydraulics. Preferably, circulation pump 130 draws water from inside housing 1120 through hydraulic motor 1240, causing hydraulic motor 1240 to turn and drive gears 1243.
  • Preferably, when vacuum pump 1130 is turned on, hydraulic motor 1240 drives gears 1243, which in turn drive chain 1244, which turns drive wheels 1242, as shown (at least embodying herein wherein the step of unreeling such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one hydraulic motor to unreel such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water). Preferably simultaneously, hydraulic system 1150 pulls water out of wheel positioner bellows 1247, pivoting wheel positioner lever 1248, and moving drive wheels 1242 to engage vacuum hose 112 (as shown in FIG. 30). Preferably, drive chain 1244 tension is maintained by idle sprocket 1246, which is preferably tensioned by sprocket spring 1245, as shown (at least embodying herein further comprising at least one drive tensioner adapted to provide consistent tension to such at least one drive chain). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as a motorized wheel positioner, other methods of engaging the drive wheels with the vacuum hose, gears instead of a drive chain, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, when circulation pump 130 is turned on, hydraulic system 1150 simultaneously powers hydraulic motor 1240, retracts wheel positioner bellows 1247 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one wheel compressor is actuated by such at least one vacuum pump; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one wheel tensioner is tensioned by such at least one vacuum pump; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hose deployer comprises at least one hydraulic actuator), and retracts deployment bellows 1232, thereby automatically deploying automatic vacuum assembly 1110, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as timing these actions separately, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, when drive wheels 1242 (at least embodying herein at least one hose-moving wheel adapted to move such at least one vacuum hose; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hose-guiding wheel comprises such at least one hose-moving wheel; and at least embodying herein at least one hose-moving wheel adapted to move such at least one hose) are engaged with vacuum hose 112 and are turning, vacuum hose 112 is pulled off reel 116, and is pushed out into the pool (as shown in FIG. 30). Preferably, this continues until vacuum hose 112 is substantially entirely reeled off reel 1116, as shown.
  • Preferably, when vacuum hose 112 is fully deployed, hydraulic system 1150 automatically switches circulation pump 130 suction from deployer 1114 to vacuum hose 112, as shown, pulling water through vacuum hose 112, preferably to be filtered and returned to the pool (at least embodying herein the step of pulling at least one flow of water through such at least one hose). Preferably, vacuum head 113 is connected to the first end 1202 of vacuum hose 112, and is deployed with vacuum hose 112, as shown. Preferably, vacuum head 113 is a vacuum-powered random-motion pool vacuum of the sort known in the art, such as, for example, the Navigator Automatic Pool Cleaner manufactured by Hayward Pool Products, Inc. Once deployed, vacuum head 113 preferably cleans the pool until circulation pump 130 is turned off. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as no vacuum cleaner, a surface skimmer, wand vacuums, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, when circulation pump 130 is turned off, automatic vacuum assembly 1110 automatically retracts, as shown. Preferably, when circulation pump 130 is turned off, deployment bellows 1232 are released from suction and fill with water, permitting retraction spring 1252 (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hose retractor comprises at least one spring adapted to wind such at least one hose reel) to pull carriage 1230 back into the upright, retracted position, as shown. Preferably simultaneously, wheel positioner bellows 1247 is released from suction and fills with water, permitting wheel positioner spring 1249 to pull wheel positioner lever 1248 (at least embodying herein at least one wheel compressor adapted to compress such at least one vacuum hose between such at least one hose-guiding wheel and such at least one hose-moving wheel; and at least embodying herein at least one wheel tensioner adapted to tension such at least one hose between such at least one hose-guiding wheel and such at least one hose-moving wheel) to disengage drive wheels 1242 from vacuum hose 112, as shown. Preferably, when vacuum hose 112 is released from drive wheels 1242, retractor 1118 rotates reel 1116 counterclockwise to wind vacuum hose 112 onto reel 1116, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as motorized retraction, timed sequences of retraction steps, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 30 shows a side view of automatic vacuum assembly 1110 according to FIG. 29, in a deployed position. Preferably, when automatic vacuum assembly 1110 is deployed, vacuum head 113 is carried far enough away from the wall of the pool that vacuum head 113 does not scrape against the side of the pool during deployment or retraction, as shown.
  • FIG. 31 shows a detail of the upper portion of automatic vacuum assembly 1110 of FIG. 29. Preferably, housing 1234 supports one or more hose guide wheels 1241, as shown, which guide vacuum hose 112, especially during retraction (at least embodying herein at least one hose-guiding wheel adapted to guide such at least one vacuum hose; and at least embodying herein at least one hose-guiding wheel adapted to guide at least one hose). Retraction sensor 1300 is further shown and described in FIGS. 34 and 35. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as other hose guides, other hose guide placements, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 32 shows a rear view of deployer 1114 of FIG. 29. Preferably, housing 1234 comprises hose guide 1400, as shown, which is preferably flared at the ends to prevent vacuum hose 112 from catching during deployment, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as hose guide wheels, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 33A shows a side view of a drive wheel 1242 of FIG. 29.
  • FIG. 33B shows an edge view of the drive wheel 1242 of FIG. 33A. Preferably, drive wheel 1242 has a v-shaped, ridged interior, as shown, adapted to grip and pull vacuum hose 112. Preferably, drive wheels 1242 are molded of plastic, with metal axles. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as pairs of wheels instead of v-shaped wheels, smooth wheels, other sizes of wheels, other wheel materials, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 34 shows a detail of the upper portion of automatic vacuum assembly 110 according to FIG. 29, detailing retraction sensor 1300 (at least embodying herein at least one retraction detector adapted to detect the complete retraction of such at least one vacuum hose onto such at least one reel; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one articulated carrier is adapted to carry such at least one hose deployer from at least one deployed position to at least one retracted position when such at least one retraction detector detects the complete retraction of such at least one vacuum hose onto such at least one reel) in a latched position, during vacuum hose 112 retraction. Preferably, retraction sensor 1300 comprises a system of levers 1605 connecting stopper 1610 with latch 1615, as shown. Preferably, when carriage 1230 is in a deployed position, latch 1615 catches on block 1620, locking carriage 1230 in the deployed position, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other types of retraction sensors, such as electronic sensors, other mechanical sensors, other sensing criteria, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 35 shows a detail of the upper portion of automatic vacuum assembly 1110 according to FIG. 29, detailing retraction sensor 1300 in an unlatched position, after vacuum hose 112 retraction. Preferably, when vacuum hose 112 is fully retracted, vacuum head 113 bumps stopper 1610, moving levers 1605 and releasing latch 1615 from block 1620, as shown. Preferably, at this point in the retraction process, deployment bellows 1232 has also been released from suction by hydraulic system 1150, and retraction spring 1252 pulls carriage 1230 into the retracted position, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other retraction sensors, such as electronic sensors, other mechanical sensors, other lever arrangements, other types of latches, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 36 shows a diagram of hydraulic system 1150 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Preferably, hydraulic system 1150 comprises automatic switch 1800, trunk hose 1805, bellows hoses 1810, hydraulic motor hose 1815, vacuum supply hose 1820, and deployment sensor hose 1825, as shown. Preferably, automatic switch 1800 automatically switches the vacuum provided by circulation pump 130 from deployer 1114 to vacuum hose 112 when vacuum hose 112 is fully deployed, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other automatic switches, such as electric valve switches, other types of automatic switch valves, other hose arrangements, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, automatic switch 1800 (at least embodying herein at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch such at least one vacuum pump from powering such at least one hose deployer to pulling water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one hose deployer deploys such at least one vacuum hose; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one hose deployer is powered by such at least one vacuum pump prior to such at least one deployment detector detecting the finished deployment of such at least one vacuum hose off of such at least one reel; and at least embodying herein wherein such at least one vacuum pump pulls water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one deployment detector detects the finished deployment of such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one reel; and at least embodying herein at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch such at least one vacuum pump from powering such at least one hose deployer to pulling water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one deployment detector detects the finished deployment of such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one reel; and at least embodying herein at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch such at least one vacuum pump from powering such at least one hose deployer to pulling water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one spring-loaded switch is closed) comprises switch bellows 1830, piston 1832, piston spring 1834, valves 1836, and chamber 1838, as shown. Preferably, two valves 1836 are spaced along piston 1832 in chamber 1838, and slidingly seal against the sides of chamber 1838, as shown. Preferably, piston 1832 with valves 1836 is moved longitudinally within chamber 1838 by switch bellows 1830, as shown (at least embodying herein wherein such at least one automatic switch comprises at least one hydraulic actuator). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as flapper valves, multiple valve bellows, electronic switches, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, trunk hose 1805 connects to chamber 1838 between valves 1836 at one end, and connects to circulation pump 130 at the other end, as shown. Preferably, hydraulic motor hose 1815 connects to chamber 1838 so that hydraulic motor hose 1815 communicates with trunk hose 1805 when switch bellows 1830 is extended, as shown. Preferably, piston spring 1834 acts to keep switch bellows 1830 extended, as shown. Preferably, vacuum supply hose 1820 connects to chamber 1838 so that vacuum supply hose 1820 communicates with trunk hose 1805 when switch bellows 1830 is compressed, as shown in hidden lines. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as other hose routings, other numbers of hoses, other hose connections, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, bellows hoses 1810 are connected to trunk hose 805 so that bellows hoses 1810 are under vacuum whenever circulation pump 130 is on, as shown. Preferably, bellows hoses 1810 connect to deployment bellows 1232 and wheel positioner bellows 1247, so that deployment bellows 1232 and wheel positioner bellows 1247 are under vacuum whenever circulation pump 130 is on, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as latches to keep the bellows compressed during vacuuming, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, deployment sensor hose 1825 is cross linked between trunk hose 1805 and switch bellows 1830, as shown, so that deployment sensor hose 1825 is under vacuum whenever circulation pump 130 is on. Preferably, deployment sensor hose 1825 is open to water at the far end when vacuum hose 112 is reeled on reel 1116, as shown in FIG. 37. Preferably, deployment sensor hose 1825 is closed at the far end when vacuum hose 112 is substantially unreeled from reel 1116 (i.e., when vacuum hose 112 is fully deployed), as shown in FIG. 39. Preferably, when deployment sensor hose 1825 is closed at the far end, suction is applied to switch bellows 1830, compressing switch bellows 1830 and moving valves 1836 so that vacuum supply hose 1820 communicates with trunk hose 1805, as shown, so that pool vacuuming automatically begins (at least embodying herein wherein such step of automatically switching further comprises the step of actuating at least one liquid-actuated bellows). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as other types of deployment sensors, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 37 shows a diagram of the state of hydraulic system 1150 during vacuum hose 112 deployment, with sprung lever 1915 depressed. Preferably, automatic vacuum assembly 1110 comprises hose deployment sensor 1900, as shown. Preferably, hose deployment sensor 1900 (at least embodying herein at least one deployment detector adapted to detect the finished deployment of such at least one vacuum hose off of such at least one reel) comprises deployment sensor hose 1825, sensor hose stopper 1905, hose stopper spring 1910, sprung lever 1915, and sprung bar 1920, as shown. Preferably, sprung lever 1915 (at least embodying herein at least one spring-loaded lever adapted to provide at least one spring-loaded lever on the interior of such at least one reel wherein such at least one spring-loaded lever is compressed when such at least one vacuum hose presses such at least one spring-loaded lever; and wherein such at least one spring-loaded lever is released when such at least one vacuum hose is removed from such at least one spring-loaded lever) lies across reel hub 1916, so that sprung lever 1915 is compressed when vacuum hose 112 is wound around reel hub 1916 and over sprung lever 1915, as shown, and so that sprung lever 1915 is released into an upward slanted position when vacuum hose 112 is wound off of sprung lever 1915, as shown. Preferably, one end of sprung lever 1915 is hinged and sprung, and the other end of sprung lever 1915 is connected to the lower end of sprung bar 1920, as shown, preferably through a slot in reel 1116, as shown.
  • Preferably, sprung bar 1920 is radially mounted on the outside of reel 1116, as shown. Preferably, sprung bar 1920 is in a lowered position when sprung lever 1915 is compressed, and is pulled into a raised position (away from reel hub 1916) by sprung lever 1915 and bar spring 1921 when sprung lever 1915 is released (as shown in FIG. 38, and shown in cross-section in FIG. 42).
  • Preferably, when sprung bar 1920 (at least embodying herein at least one spring-loaded bar adapted to provide at least one spring-loaded bar on the exterior of such at least one reel wherein such at least one spring-loaded bar is pulled into at least one retracted position when such at least one spring-loaded lever is compressed; and wherein such at least one spring-loaded bar means is released into at least one extended position when such at least one spring-loaded lever is released) is lowered, the top end of sprung bar 1920 does not touch sensor hose stopper 1905 as reel 1116 turns. Preferably, when sprung bar 1920 is raised, the top end of sprung bar 1920 presses hose stopper 1905 (at least embodying herein at least one spring-loaded switch adapted to provide at least one spring-loaded switch wherein such at least one spring-loaded switch is open when such at least one spring-loaded bar is pulled into such at least one retracted position; and wherein such at least one spring-loaded switch is closed when such at least one spring-loaded bar is released into such at least one extended position and contacts such at least one spring-loaded switch) against the open end of deployment sensor hose 1825 as reel 1116 turns, sealing the end of deployment sensor hose 1825 (as shown in FIG. 39) and causing suction to be applied to switch bellows 1830.
  • Preferably, when sprung bar 1920 presses hose stopper 1905 against the open end of deployment sensor hose 1825, the rotation of reel 1116 is stopped at that point, as shown. Preferably, the second end 1204 of vacuum hose 112 is connected to an opening 1950 in reel 1116 near axle 1210, as shown. Preferably, vacuum supply hose 1820 is fixed to chassis 1111, with the end of vacuum supply hose 1820 flush with the exterior of reel 1116, as shown. Preferably, when sprung bar 1920 presses hose stopper 1905 against the open end of deployment sensor hose 1825 and reel 1116 is stopped in that position, the end of vacuum supply hose 1820 aligns with opening 1950 which communicates with vacuum hose 112 (as shown in FIG. 39), thereby connecting vacuum supply hose 1820 to vacuum hose 112, as shown (at least embodying herein further comprising the step of automatically switching such at least one vacuum pump from pulling water through such at least one hydraulic motor to pulling water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one vacuum hose is unreeled from such at least one reel). Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as a swivel joint inlet on the axle connecting the vacuum hose to the vacuum supply hose, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 38 shows a diagram of the state of hydraulic system 1150 during vacuum hose 112 deployment, with sprung lever 1915 released.
  • FIG. 39 shows a diagram of the state of hydraulic system 1150 during vacuuming.
  • FIG. 40 shows a cross-section through section 40-40 of FIG. 38.
  • FIG. 41 shows detail 41 of FIG. 40, exploded, with reel 1116 ommited to clearly show the workings of hose deployment sensor 1900. Preferably, sprung lever 1915 comprises bracket 2305, hinge 2307, spring 2310, lever 2315, and arm 2320, as shown. Preferably, bracket 2305 connects lever 2315 to reel 1116, through hinge 2307, as shown. Preferably, spring 2310 holds lever 2315 up when lever 2315 is not compressed by vacuum hose 112, as shown.
  • Preferably, sprung bar 1920 comprises bar 2330, bolt 2335, spacer 2340, bracket 2345, and spring 2350, as shown. Preferably, bar 2330 slides freely between spacer 2340 and bracket 2345, as shown. Preferably, spring 2350 connects at one end to bracket 2345, and at the other end to the lower portion of bar 2330, so that spring 2350 pulls bar 2330 upward (away from reel hub 1916) when sprung lever 1915 is released, as shown.
  • Preferably, sprung lever 1915 is connected to bar 2330 by bolt 2335, as shown. Preferably, the bolt-hole in arm 2320 is loose, to accommodate various angles of intersection of arm 2320 and bolt 2335, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as hinged connections, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, hose stopper 1905 comprises bracket 2360, hinge 2365, lever 2370, pad 2375, and spring 2380, as shown. Preferably, deployment sensor hose 1825 is supported by bracket 2390 and strap 2391, as shown.
  • Preferably, bracket 2360 is fixedly connected to chassis 1111, as shown, and is connected to lever 2370 by hinge 2365, as shown. Preferably, lever 2370 is held away from the end of deployment sensor hose 1825 by spring 2380, as shown. Preferably, pad 2375 is attached to the underside of lever 2370, as shown. Preferably, pad 2375 comprises a resilient, water-resistant material able to seal against the end of deployment sensor hose 1825 when lever 2370 is pressed down by sprung bar 1920. More preferably, pad 2375 comprises polyurethane foam. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, electronic sensors, electronic valve switches, other pad materials, other types of deployment sensors, etc., may suffice.
  • FIG. 42 shows a rear view of the embodiment according to FIG. 29. Preferably, chamber 1838 is constructed from PVC pipe sections. Preferably, vacuum hose 1112 is attached to reel 1116 with a 90-degree PVC pipe fitting, as shown. Preferably, vacuum hose 1112 is attached to reel 1116 with a 90-degree PVC pipe fitting, as shown. Preferably, hydraulic motor hose 1815 is attached to hydraulic motor 1240 with a 90-degree PVC pipe fitting, as shown. Preferably, vacuum supply hose 1820 is attached to chassis 1111 adjacent reel 1116 with a 90-degree PVC pipe fitting, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as other types of pipe fittings, custom parts manufactured, other materials, etc., may suffice.
  • In this preferred alternate embodiment, bellows hoses 1810 are connected to chamber 1838 adjacent trunk hose 1805, as shown, instead of directly to trunk hose 1805, as was shown in FIG. 36. This arrangement functions in the same way as was described in FIG. 36.
  • FIG. 43 shows a side view of deployer 2514 according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention, in a non-deploying state. Preferably, deployer 2514 comprises housing 2534 and drive system 2536, as shown.
  • Preferably, housing 2534 comprises two substantially flat, parallel metal plates 2535, as shown, which preferably provide structural support for drive system 2536 and connection points for chassis 1111, as shown. Preferably, housing 2534 is fixedly connected to chassis 1111, preferably near door 1122. Therefore, in this preferred embodiment, deployment bellows 1232 and retraction sensor 1300 are not required.
  • Preferably, housing 2534 comprises hose guide 2537. Preferably, hose guide 2537 is fixedly attached to chassis 1111. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in technology, user preference, etc., other arrangements, such as a hose guide that extends when the door is opened, a hose guide that extends when the hose is deployed, etc., may suffice.
  • Preferably, drive system 2536 comprises hydraulic motor 1240, drive wheel 1242, gears 2543, drive chain 2544, wheel positioner bellows 2547, wheel positioner lever 2548, and wheel positioner spring 2549, as shown. Vacuum supply hose 1815 is attached to hydraulic motor 1140, but is not shown.
  • FIG. 44 shows a side view of deployer 2514 according to FIG. 44, in a deploying state. Preferably, when circulation pump 130 is turned on, hydraulic motor 1240 drives gears 2543, which in turn drive chain 2544, which turns drive wheel 1242, as shown. Preferably simultaneously, hydraulic system 1150 pulls water out of wheel positioner bellows 2547, pivoting wheel positioner lever 2548, and moving drive wheel 1242 to engage vacuum hose 1112, as shown (at least embodying herein wherein the step of using at least one hydraulic motor to unreel such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one vacuum pump to pull water through such at least one hydraulic motor).
  • Preferably, when circulation pump 130 is turned off, wheel positioner spring 2549 pulls wheel positioner lever 2548 to disengage drive wheel 1242 from vacuum hose 112, returning deployer 2514 to the state shown in FIG. 43, as shown.
  • Although applicant has described applicant's preferred embodiments of this invention, it will be understood that the broadest scope of this invention includes modifications such as diverse shapes, sizes, and materials. Such scope is limited only by the below claims as read in connection with the above specification.
  • Further, many other advantages of applicant's invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the above descriptions and the below claims.

Claims (50)

1) A system related to the uncoiled storage of at least one vacuum hose of at least one automatic pool cleaner within at least one pool of water, the at least one vacuum hose comprising at least one first hose end and at least one second hose end, the at least one pool of water comprising at least one low-pressure fluid source, said system comprising:
a) at least one tubular sleeve adapted to removably store at least one substantial portion of the at least one vacuum hose;
b) wherein said at least one tubular sleeve comprises at least one first open end in fluid communication with the at least one pool of water; and
c) wherein said at least one tubular sleeve comprises an aggregate bend of less than three-hundred and sixty degrees.
2) The system according to claim 1 wherein:
a) said at least one tubular sleeve comprises an aggregate bend of less than one hundred and eighty degrees; and
b) said at least one tubular sleeve comprises no more than two ninety-degree bends.
3) The system according to claim 2 wherein:
a) said at least one tubular sleeve comprises at least one second open end;
b) said at least one second open end is positioned substantially above at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water; and
c) said at least one second open end comprises at least one removable cover adapted to removably cover said at least one second open end.
4) The system according to claim 1 wherein said at least one tubular sleeve comprises at least one plurality of interconnectable segments adapted to provide segmented assembly of said at least one tubular sleeve.
5) The system according to claim 1 wherein said at least one tubular sleeve is adapted to maintain the at least one substantial portion of the at least one vacuum hose submerged within the water from such at least one pool of water.
6) The system according to claim 1 further comprising at least one fluid coupler adapted to couple the at least one second hose end of the at least one vacuum hose to the at least one low-pressure fluid source.
7) The system according to claim 6 wherein said at least one fluid coupler comprises:
a) at least one vacuum hose end fitting adapted to removably engage the at least one second hose end of the at least one vacuum hose; and
b) at least one docking receiver adapted to removably receive said at least one vacuum hose-end fitting;
c) wherein said at least one at least one docking receiver comprises at least one interior chamber adapted to receive interiorly at least one portion of said at least one vacuum hose end fitting and pass exteriorly the at least one vacuum hose;
d) wherein said at least one vacuum hose end fitting comprises at least one vacuum transfer port adapted to transfer fluid between the at least one vacuum hose and said at least one interior chamber;
e) wherein said at least one interior chamber comprises at least one coupling to the at least one low-pressure fluid source;
f) wherein said at least one interior chamber comprises at least one pressure seal adapted to form at least one pressure seal with said at least one vacuum transfer port; and
g) wherein said at least one pressure seal is adapted to form at least one pressure coupling to couple operationally the at least one vacuum hose with the at least one low-pressure fluid source.
8) The system according to claim 1 further comprising:
a) at least one hose deployer adapted to deploy the at least one first end of the at least one vacuum hose into such at least one pool of water;
b) at least one fluid coupler adapted to couple the at least one second end of the at least one vacuum hose to the at least one low-pressure fluid source; and
c) at least one hose retractor adapted to retract the at least one vacuum hose onto said at least one tubular sleeve;
d) wherein said at least one tubular sleeve is adapted to maintain the at least one substantial portion of the at least one vacuum hose submerged within the water of such at least one pool of water.
9) The system according to claim 8 wherein:
a) said at least one hose deployer comprises at least one hydraulic motor adapted to power the deploying of the at least one first hose end of the at least one vacuum hose by said at least one hose deployer;
b) said at least one hydraulic motor is in fluid communication with the at least one low-pressure fluid source; and
c) said at least one hydraulic motor is adapted to operate by directing at least one movement of the water of the at least one pool of water toward the at least one low-pressure fluid source.
10) The system according to claim 8 further comprising:
a) at least one first housing adapted to house said at least one hose deployer, said at least one fluid coupler, and said at least one hose retractor; and
b) at least one second housing comprising at least one hollow interior adapted to house said at least one first housing;
c) wherein said at least one first housing is removable from said at least one hollow interior of said at least one second housing; and
d) wherein said at least one second housing is prepositionally fixed relative to the at least one pool of water.
11) The system according to claim 10 wherein said at least one hollow interior comprises:
a) at least one first passage adapted to provide fluid communication between said at least one hollow interior and the at least one pool of water; and
b) at least one second passage adapted to provide fluid communication between said at least one hollow interior and said at least one tubular sleeve;
c) wherein said at least one first passage comprises at least one door adapted to provide at least one closable and openable barrier between said at least one first passage and the least one pool of water; and
d) wherein said at least one door is positioned substantially below at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water.
12) The system according to claim 9 wherein:
a) the at least one low-pressure fluid source comprises at least one fluid circulation pump adapted to circulate the water of such at least one pool of water;
b) said at least one hose deployer comprises at least one automatic hose deployer adapted to automatically deploy the at least one vacuum hose on activation of the at least one fluid circulation pump; and
c) said at least one hose retractor comprises at least one automatic hose retractor adapted to automatically retract the at least one vacuum hose on deactivation of the at least one fluid circulation pump.
13) The system according to claim 12 further comprising at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch the coupling of the at least one low-pressure fluid source between said at least one hydraulic motor and said at least one fluid coupler.
14) The system according to claim 12 wherein said at least one automatic hose retractor comprises at least one spring tensioner adapted to tension at least one retractor spring during deployment of the at least one vacuum hose by said at least one automatic hose deployer.
15) The system according to claim 14, further comprising:
a) at least one hose deployment detector adapted to signal the detection of a completed deployment of the at least one vacuum hose into the at least one pool of water; and
b) at least one spring tension detector adapted to signal the detection of the completed tensioning of said at least one retractor spring by such deployment of the at least one vacuum hose by said at least one automatic hose deployer;
c) wherein said at least one automatic switch is adapted to maintain the coupling of the at least one low-pressure fluid source to said at least one hydraulic motor in the absence of such detection signals from either of said at least one hose deployment detector and said at least one spring tension detector; and
d) wherein said at least one automatic switch is adapted to switch the coupling of the at least one low-pressure fluid source from said at least one hydraulic motor to said at least one fluid coupler in the presence of both such detection signals from said at least one hose deployment detector and said at least one spring tension detector.
16) The system according to claim 15 wherein such detection signals comprise at least one change in fluid pressure.
17) The system according to claim 16 wherein said at least one automatic switch comprises at least one pressure operated actuator adapted to actuate at least one fluid controlling valve.
18) The system according to claim 17 wherein said at least one hose deployer comprises:
a) at least one drive assembly comprising at least one first hose-engaging wheel and at least one second hose-engaging wheel each one adapted to physically engage the at least one vacuum hose;
b) wherein, during such physical engagement, the at least one vacuum hose is movably deployed by rotation of said at least one first hose-engaging wheel and said at least one second hose-engaging wheel by said at least one hydraulic motor; and
c) wherein, during such physical engagement, the at least one vacuum hose is movably retracted by counter-rotation of said at least one first hose-engaging wheel and said at least one second hose-engaging wheel by said at least one spring tensioner.
19) The system according to claim 18 further comprising at least one limited-slip coupler adapted to provide limited-slip decoupling of at least one mechanical force transferred between said at least one hydraulic motor, said at least one spring tensioner, and said at least one drive assembly.
20) The system according to claim 18 further comprising such at least one vacuum hose.
21) The system according to claim 18 further comprising such at least one automatic pool cleaner.
22) The system according to claim 18 further comprising:
a) at least one water level detector adapted to detect at least one low water level condition within the at least one pool of water;
b) wherein said at least one water level detector comprises at least one automatic retraction initiator adapted to automatically initiate the retraction of the at least one vacuum hose on such detection of such at least one low water level condition within the at least one pool of water.
23) The system according to claim 22 wherein said at least one automatic retraction initiator comprises at least one manual actuator adapted to provide manual actuation of said at least one automatic retraction initiator.
24) A pool cleaning system, comprising the steps of:
a) coupling at least one submerged tubular sleeve to at least one body of water;
b) placing at least one portion of at least one vacuum hose onto such at least one submerged tubular sleeve;
c) deploying such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one submerged tubular sleeve into such at least one body of water; and
d) coupling such at least one vacuum hose to at least one vacuum source.
25) The pool cleaning system, according to claim 24, wherein the step of deploying such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one submerged tubular sleeve into such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one hydraulic motor to induce such deployment.
26) The pool cleaning system, according to claim 25 further comprising the step of retracting such at least one portion of such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one body of water into such at least one submerged tubular sleeve.
27) The cleaning system, according to claim 26, wherein such the step of retracting such at least one vacuum hose from such at least one body of water into such at least one submerged tubular sleeve further comprises the step of using at least one spring to induce such retraction.
28) The cleaning system, according to claim 27, further comprising the step of pulling at least one flow of water through such at least one vacuum hose.
29) A cleaning system, relating to the cleaning of at least one pool of water by at least one automatic vacuum, the at least one pool of water having at least one waterline, said system comprising:
a) at least one vacuum hose having at least one first end and at least one second end;
b) at least one vacuum pump, wherein said at least one vacuum pump is operationally coupled to said at least one second end of said at least one vacuum hose;
c) at least one hose reel adapted to reel said at least one vacuum hose;
d) at least one hose deployer adapted to deploy said at least one first end of said at least one vacuum hose into such at least one pool of water; and
e) at least one hose retractor adapted to retract said at least one vacuum hose onto said at least one hose reel;
f) wherein said at least one vacuum hose is adapted to remain continuously full of water when retracted onto said at least one hose reel;
g) wherein said at least one hose deployer comprises at least one hydraulic actuator; and
h) said at least one hydraulic actuator actuates by vacuum fluid pressure.
30) The cleaning system according to claim 29 further comprising:
a) at least one housing adapted to house said at least one vacuum hose, on said at least one hose reel, below such at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water;
b) wherein said at least one housing comprises at least one door adapted to provide at least one exit from said at least one housing into such at least one pool of water; and
c) wherein said at least one door is located substantially below such at least one waterline of such at least one pool of water.
31) The cleaning system according to claim 30 wherein:
a) said at least one vacuum hose further comprises at least one vacuum cleaner; and
b) said at least one vacuum cleaner is operationally coupled to said at least one first end of said at least one vacuum hose; and
c) said at least one vacuum hose and said at least one vacuum cleaner are positioned entirely within said at least one housing when said at least one vacuum hose is retracted for storage.
32) The cleaning system according to claim 29 wherein:
a) said at least one hose deployer comprises at least one automatic hose deployer adapted to automatically deploy said at least one vacuum hose when said at least one vacuum pump is activated; and
b) said at least one hose retractor comprises at least one automatic hose retractor adapted to automatically retract said at least one vacuum hose when said at least one vacuum pump is deactivated.
33) The cleaning system according to claim 29 wherein said at least one hose deployer is powered by said at least one vacuum pump.
34) The cleaning system according to claim 34 further comprising at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch said at least one vacuum pump from powering said at least one hose deployer to pulling water through said at least one vacuum hose after said at least one hose deployer deploys said at least one vacuum hose.
35) The cleaning system according to claim 29 further comprising at least one hydraulic motor adapted to at least one rotational force from water moved by said at least one vacuum pump.
36) The cleaning system according to claim 35 wherein said at least one hose deployer is powered by said at least one hydraulic motor.
37) The cleaning system according to claim 29 wherein said at least one hose retractor comprises at least one spring adapted to wind said at least one hose reel.
38) The cleaning system according to claim 29 wherein said at least one hose deployer comprises at least one articulated carrier adapted to carry said at least one hose deployer from at least one retracted position to at least one deployed position and from at least one deployed position to at least one retracted position.
39) The cleaning system according to claim 38 further comprising at least one retraction detector adapted to detect the complete retraction of said at least one vacuum hose onto said at least one reel.
40) The cleaning system according to claim 29 further comprising at least one deployment detector adapted to detect the finished deployment of said at least one vacuum hose from said at least one reel.
41) The cleaning system according to claim 40 wherein said at least one hose deployer is powered by said at least one vacuum pump prior to said at least one deployment detector detecting the finished deployment of said at least one vacuum hose from said at least one reel.
42) The cleaning system according to claim 40 wherein said at least one vacuum pump pulls water through said at least one vacuum hose after said at least one deployment detector detects the finished deployment of said at least one vacuum hose from said at least one reel.
43) The cleaning system according to claim 40 further comprising at least one automatic switch adapted to automatically switch said at least one vacuum pump from powering said at least one hose deployer to pulling water through said at least one vacuum hose after said at least one deployment detector detects the finished deployment of said at least one vacuum hose from said at least one reel.
44) The cleaning system according to claim 43 wherein said at least one automatic switch comprises at least one hydraulic actuator.
45) The cleaning system according to claim 40 wherein said at least one deployment detector comprises:
a) at least one spring-loaded lever adapted to provide at least one spring-loaded lever on the interior of said at least one hose reel
i) wherein said at least one spring-loaded lever is compressed when said at least one vacuum hose presses said at least one spring-loaded lever; and
ii) wherein said at least one spring-loaded lever is released when said at least one vacuum hose is removed from said at least one spring-loaded lever;
b) at least one spring-loaded bar adapted to provide at least one spring-loaded bar on the exterior of said at least one hose reel
i) wherein said at least one spring-loaded bar is pulled into at least one retracted position when said at least one spring-loaded lever is compressed; and
ii) wherein said at least one spring-loaded bar means is released into at least one extended position when said at least one spring-loaded lever is released;
c) at least one spring-loaded switch
i) wherein said at least one spring-loaded switch is open when said at least one spring-loaded bar is pulled into such at least one retracted position; and
ii) wherein said at least one spring-loaded switch is closed when said at least one spring-loaded bar is released into such at least one extended position and contacts said at least one spring-loaded switch.
46) The cleaning system according to claim 29 wherein said at least one hose deployer comprises:
a) at least one hydraulic motor;
b) wherein said at least one hydraulic motor is powered by said at least one vacuum pump;
c) at least one hose-guiding wheel adapted to guide said at least one vacuum hose;
d) at least one hose-moving wheel adapted to move said at least one vacuum hose;
e) at least one wheel compressor adapted to compress said at least one vacuum hose between said at least one hose-guiding wheel and said at least one hose-moving wheel;
f) wherein said at least one wheel compressor is actuated by said at least one vacuum pump; and
g) at least one drive adapted to drive said at least one hose-moving wheel off of said at least one hydraulic motor;
h) whereby, when said at least one vacuum pump is turned on, said at least one vacuum hose is laterally compressed and is rolled longitudinally between said at least one hose-guiding wheel and said at least one hose-moving wheel.
47) The cleaning system according to claim 46 wherein:
a) said at least one drive comprises at least one drive chain; and
b) at least one drive tensioner adapted to provide consistent tension to said at least one drive chain.
48) The cleaning system according to claim 46 wherein said at least one hose-guiding wheel comprises said at least one hose-moving wheel.
49) A system, comprising:
a) at least one vacuum pump;
b) at least one hydraulic motor;
c) wherein said at least one hydraulic motor is powered by said at least one vacuum pump;
d) at least one hose-guiding wheel adapted to guide at least one hose;
e) at least one hose-moving wheel adapted to move such at least one hose;
f) at least one wheel tensioner adapted to tension such at least one hose between said at least one hose-guiding wheel and said at least one hose-moving wheel;
g) wherein said at least one wheel tensioner is tensioned by said at least one vacuum pump; and
h) at least one drive adapted to drive said at least one hose-moving wheel off of said at least one hydraulic motor;
i) whereby, when said at least one vacuum pump is turned on, such at least one hose is laterally compressed and is rolled longitudinally between said at least one hose-guiding wheel and said at least one hose-moving wheel.
50) A cleaning system, comprising the steps of:
a) storing at least one hose reel in at least one body of water;
b) reeling at least one hose onto such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water;
c) storing such at least one hose reel having such at least one hose in such at least one body of water; and
d) unreeling such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water;
e) wherein such at least one hose is kept constantly filled with water;
f) wherein the step of unreeling such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one hydraulic motor to unreel such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water;
g) wherein the step of using at least one hydraulic motor to unreel such at least one hose off of such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one vacuum pump to pull water through such at least one hydraulic motor;
h) switching such at least one vacuum pump from pulling water through such at least one hydraulic motor to pulling water through such at least one vacuum hose after such at least one vacuum hose is unreeled from such at least one reel;
i) wherein such step of automatically switching further comprises the step of actuating at least one hydraulic actuator;
j) wherein such step of reeling such at least one hose on to such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water further comprises the step of using at least one spring to reel such at least one hose on to such at least one hose reel in such at least one body of water; and
k) pulling at least one flow of water through such at least one hose.
US11/324,829 2003-12-12 2006-01-03 Concealed automatic pool vacuum systems Abandoned US20060169322A1 (en)

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Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US52877103P true 2003-12-12 2003-12-12
US11/001,557 US7334601B1 (en) 2003-12-12 2004-11-30 Pool cleaning systems
US64160705P true 2005-01-06 2005-01-06
US11/324,829 US20060169322A1 (en) 2003-12-12 2006-01-03 Concealed automatic pool vacuum systems

Applications Claiming Priority (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11/324,829 US20060169322A1 (en) 2003-12-12 2006-01-03 Concealed automatic pool vacuum systems
PCT/US2006/014827 WO2007081375A2 (en) 2006-01-03 2006-04-19 Concealed automatic pool vacuum systems

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US10017908B2 (en) 2013-11-05 2018-07-10 Crystal Lagoons (Curacao) B.V. Floating lake system and methods of treating water within a floating lake
US9920498B2 (en) 2013-11-05 2018-03-20 Crystal Lagoons (Curacao) B.V. Floating lake system and methods of treating water within a floating lake
US9470008B2 (en) 2013-12-12 2016-10-18 Crystal Lagoons (Curacao) B.V. System and method for maintaining water quality in large water bodies
US10364585B2 (en) 2013-12-12 2019-07-30 Crystal Lagoons (Curacao) B.V. System and method for maintaining water quality in large water bodies
US9957693B2 (en) 2014-11-12 2018-05-01 Crystal Lagoons (Curacao) B.V. Suctioning device for large artificial water bodies
US9759179B2 (en) 2015-09-18 2017-09-12 Charles B. Culpepper Hydroelectric generator system including helical longitudinal blades forming an open bore and aligned with a current direction

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WO2007081375A2 (en) 2007-07-19

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