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Publication numberUS3716945 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication date20 Feb 1973
Filing date2 Dec 1971
Priority date2 Dec 1971
Publication numberUS 3716945 A, US 3716945A, US-A-3716945, US3716945 A, US3716945A
InventorsN Cooper, J Dozois, B Wanlass
Original AssigneeGen Motors Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Closure operator
US 3716945 A
Abstract
A closure operator particularly adapted for use with a station wagon tailgate type closure and adapted to permit randomly interchangeable operation of the tailgate in either one of a power mode and a manual mode, the closure operator including a driving member movable from a center position in opening and closing directions corresponding to movement of the closure toward an open position and a closed position, means defining a slot in the driving member, a driven member connected to the closure for moving the latter in the power mode and having a pin thereon engageable on the driving member in the slot, a reversible electric motor for moving the driving member in either one of the opening and closing directions, and a control circuit having a first manually actuable switch for energizing the motor to move the driving member away from the center position in either the opening or closing directions and a second switch responsive to the position of the driving member for reversing the motor to bring the driving member back to the center position and sequencing means for preventing reversing of the motor through the second switch until the first switch is deactuated. In the center position of the driving member the pin is located adjacent one or the other of the ends of the slot when the closure is in the open and closed positions so that movement of the closure in the manual mode effects lost motion between the driving and driven members as the pin traverses the length of the slot while movement of the driving member effects engagement between an end of the slot and the pin to effect movement of the driven member and the closure in the power mode.
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United States Patent 1 Cooper et a].

[ 1 Feb. 20, 1973 [54] CLOSURE OPERATOR [75] Inventors: Norman F. Cooper, Mt. Clemens; James 11. Dozois, Harper Woods; Bert R. Wanlass, Warren, all of [58] Field of Search....49/40, 41, 139, 140, 280, 340; 296/50, 56, 57; 74/625; 160/188, 189

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,833,536 5/1958 Joachim et al. ..49/l39 3,081,078 3/1963 Lohr 3,422,572 1/1969 Pollak ..49/340 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 995,407 6/1965 Great Britain ..296/56 Primary Examiner-=1. Karl Bell Attorney-W. E. Finken et al.

[57] ABSTRACT A closure operator particularly adapted for use with a station wagon tailgate type closure and adapted to permit randomly interchangeable operation of the tailgate in either one of a power mode and a manual mode, the closure operator including a driving member movable from a center position in opening and closing directions corresponding to movement of the closure toward an open position and a closed position, means defining a slot in the driving member, a driven member connected to the closure for moving the latter in the power mode and having a pin thereon engageable on the driving member in the slot, a reversible electric motor for moving the driving member in either one of the opening and closing directions, and a control circuit having a first manually actuable switch for energizing the motor to move the drivingmember away from the center position in either the opening or closing directions and a second switch responsive to the position of the driving member for reversing the motor to bring the driving member back to the center position and sequencing means for preventing reversing of the motor through the second switch until the first switch is deactuated. In the center position of the driving member the pin is located adjacent one or the other of the ends of the slot when the closure is in the open and closed positions so that movement of the closure in the manual mode effects lost motion between the driving and driven members as the pin traverses the length of the slot while movement of the driving member effects engagement between an end of the slot and the pin to effect movement of the driven member and the closure in the power mode.

3 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures CLOSURE OPERATOR This invention relates generally to vehicle body closure systems and more particularly to a closure operator adapted to permit randomly interchangeable operation of a closure in either a manual mode or a power mode.

In many vehicle body closure applications it is particularly desirable that an operator be provided with means for opening and closing the closure automatically and, most desirably, from a remote location. Atypical example would be a tailgate type closure for a station wagon which quite often must be opened for loading or unloading of the vehicle by a person other than the vehicle '5 operator. In this type of situation it is most convenient for the operator to remain in the vehicle while automatically effecting opening and closing of the tailgate. There are other situations, however, where manual operation of the tailgate might be desirable and for this reason it is necessary that the closure operator possess a manual mode capability. A closure operator according to this invention incorporates both an automatic or power mode capability and a manual mode capability into a structure which is relatively simple in design and economical to manufacture and which represents an improvement over heretofore known closure operators.

The primary feature of this invention is that it provides a new and improved closure operator particularly adapted for use witha vehicle body closure. Another feature of this invention is that it provides a new and improved closure operator adapted to move a closure in a power mode between an open position and a closed position and incorporating lost motion means adapted to permit movement of the closure between its positions in a manual mode. Still another feature of this invention is that it provides a new and improved closure operator which permits randomly interchangeable manual and power mode operation; that is, the closure can be brought from one of the open and closed positions to the other in the power mode and from that other position back to the first position in the manual mode. Still further features of this invention reside in the provision in the closure operator of a driving member powered by a reversible electric motor, a driven member connected to the closure, a pin and slot type lost motion connection between the driving and the driven members, and an electrical control circuit which maintains the driving member in a center position permitting the pin to traverse the slot in a lost motion manner during manual mode operation and which functions to automatically return the driving member to the center position after the latter has effected movement of the closure in the power mode through engagement between an end portion of the slot and the pm.

These and other features of this invention will be readily apparent from the following specification and from the drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary side elevational view of the rear portion of a station wagon type vehicle body having a movable tailgate and a closure operator according to this invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged sectional view taken generally along the plane indicated by lines 22 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a partially broken away view of a portion of FIG. 1 showing the closure operator in the center position and in a position corresponding to the open position of the closure in solid and broken lines respectivey;

FIG. 4 is similar to FIG. 3 but showing the closure operator in the center position and in a position corresponding to the closed position of the closure in solid and broken lines respectively; and

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of the electrical control circuit for the closure operator.

Referring now to FIG. 1 of the drawings, thereshown in phantom is the rear portion of a station wagon type vehicle body designated generally 10 including a roof structure 12, a left quarter panel structure 14 and a left rear body pillar l6 interconnecting the roof structure and the left quarter panel structure, a similar right body pillar, not shown, extending between the roof structure and a right quarter panel structure, not shown. The roof structure, the body pillars, and the quarter panel structures cooperate with a laterally extending rear bumper structure 18 in defining a rear opening, not shown, of the vehicle body extending transversely the'reacross. The rear opening is adapted to be closed by a closure or tailgate designated generally 20, the tailgate being movable in a manual mode and in a power mode by a closure operator according to this invention designated generally 22.

Referring again to FIG. 1, the tailgate 20 includes a lower section 24 and an upper section 26 pivotally supported on the roof structure 12 by a hinge 28. A pair of transversely spaced hinge leaves rigidly attached to the lower section 24, only left side hinge leaf 30 being shown, are connected to a corresponding pair of hinge leaves on the upper section 26, only left side hinge leaf 32 being shown, by hinge pins, as at 34, so that the lower section is pivotally connected to the upper section. A left control arm 36 is pivotally connected to the hinge leaf 30 at 38 and to the left body pillar at 40 intermediate the ends of the control arm, a right control arm, not shown, being similarly disposed between the tailgate and the body on the right side of the tailgate. Accordingly, as the upper section 26 is pivoted counterclockwise from the position thereof corresponding to the closed position of the tailgate, FIG. I, wherein the upper and lower sections are disposed in generally coplanar relation in the opening through an intermediate position 20' toward an open position 20" of the tailgate wherein both sections are situated remote from the opening, the lower section 24 is constraining to fold inward under the upper section thereby minimizing the clearance space required behind and above the vehicle.

A pair of spring counterbalance assemblies attached to respective ones of the body pillars, only left counterbalance assembly 42 being shown in FIG. 1, are connected to the ends of respective ones of the control arms which overhang the pivots at the body pillars and function to bias the tailgate toward the open position. The spring force of each counterbalance assembly as well as the lever arm about the control arm pivot through which the spring force acts are calibrated to insure that the tailgate remains in the open position without the requirement of latches or the like.

As best seen in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4, the closure operator 22 includes a support plate 44 adapted for rigid attachment by conventional means to the left quarter panel structure 14. A driven member or arm 46 and a circular driving member 48 are independently pivotally mounted on the support plate 44 at 50. The driven arm 46 has one end of an intermediate link 52 pivotally connected thereto at 54, the other end of the intermediate link being pivotally connected to left control arm 36 at 56. Accordingly, as the tailgate is moved between the open and the closed positions the intermediate link 52 effects pivotal movement of the driven arm 46 about the pivot 50 and, conversely, forced pivotal movement of the driven arm effects movement of the tailgate between the open and closed positions.

The driving member 48has a plurality of gear teeth 58 around the circumference thereof, the gear teeth meshingly engaging a pinion 60 adapted to be driven through a conventional gear train by an electric motor 62 mounted on the support plate 44. The driving member 48 further includes a square aperture 63 and an arcuate slot 64 bounded by a pair of terminal or end portions 66 and 68. As best seen in FIG. 2, the square aperture 63 is adapted to receive therein a sensing element 72 projecting from a switch 74 rigidly attached to support plate 44 by a bracket 76. An abutment pin 78 rigidly attached to the driven arm 46 projects generally perpendicularly therefrom into the slot 64 and is adapted to traverse the length of the slot. As seen best in FIG. 5, the motor 62 includes a pair of windings 80 and 82, the winding 80 being adapted to drive the motor in a direction corresponding to clockwise or opening rotation of the pinion 60, FIG. 1, and the winding 82 being adapted to drive the motor in the opposite direction corresponding to counterclockwise or closing rotation of the pinion.

Referring now to FIGS. 1, 3 and 4, the pin and slot connection between the driven arm 46 and the driving member 48 permits randomly interchangeable operation of the tailgate in either the manual mode or the power mode. More particularly, the driving member 48 is normally located in a center position, shown in solid lines in FIGS. 1,3 and 4, wherein the slot 64 is disposed generally to the right of pivot 50 and the sensing element 72 projects into the slot 63. The center position of the driving member and the length of slot 64 are predetermined to insure that when the tailgate is in the closed position, FIG. 1, the driven arm 46 is positioned to locate abutment pin 78 adjacent the lower end portion 66 of the slot as shown in solid lines in FIG. 3. When the tailgate is opened in the manual mode the driving member 48 is held stationary by deenergized motor 62 and the pinion 60 while the intermediate link 52 pivots the driven arm 46 counterclockwise from the solid line position, FIGS. 1 and 3, through an intermediate position corresponding to the intermediate position of the tailgate, to a position adjacent a bumper 84 on the support plate 44 corresponding to the open position of the tailgate. The slot 64 accommodates lost motion between the driving member and the driven arm as the pin traverses the length of the slot from the lower end portion 66 to a position adjacent the upper end portion 68. The tailgate may, of course, be lowered in the manual mode merely by reversing the force applied to the tailgate, the lost motion between the driven arm and the driving member again being accommodated by the pin and slot connection therebetween.

For operation of the tailgate in the power mode, one of the windings of the motor 62 is energized to drive pinion 60 in a direction corresponding to the desired movement of the tailgate. More particularly, with the tailgate in the closed position, clockwise rotation of the pinion 60 as a result of energization of winding effects counterclockwise rotation of the driving member 48 from the solid to the broken line position in FIGS. 1 and 3 which, in turn, results in engagement between the lower end portion 66 of the slot 64 and the abutment pin 78, the abutment pin and the driven arm thereafter being rotated counterclockwise as a unit with the driving member to effect movement of the tailgate from the closed to the open position. Following movement of the tailgate to the open position, in which the latter is held by the counterbalance assemblies, the aforementioned control circuit, as described hereinafter, automatically reverses the motor 62 to bring the driving member 48 back to the center position, the abutment pin 78 then being situated adjacent the upper end portion 68 of the slot 64. Movement of the tailgate in the power mode toward the closed position is effected by energization of winding 82 of the motor 62 which rotates the pinion 60 in a counterclockwise direction, FIGS. 1 and 4, causing engagement between the upper end portion 68 of the slot 64 and the abutment pin 78, the driving member being rotated to the broken line position shown in FIG. 4 to bring the driven arm back to the position thereof corresponding to the closed position of the closure. After the tailgate achieves the closed position, the aforementioned control circuit again automatically reverses the motor to bring the driving member back to the center position, the abutment pin then being located adjacent lower end portion 66 of the slot 64. It will, of course, be apparent that the pin and slot connection between the driving and drivenmembers, with the driving member always returning to the center position, facilitates randomly interchangeable operation of the tailgate in either the power mode or the manual mode since the tailgate can be moved from one position to the other in one of the two modes and back to the first position in the other mode.

Referring now to FIG. 5, thereshown is a schematic diagram of the electrical control circuit for the closure operator. The control circuit includes, in addition to the switch 74 and the windings 80 and 82 of themotor 62, a manually operable electrical switch 86 and a pair of relays 88 and 90 each having a normally open contact 92, a normally closed contact 94, and a holding coil 96. The switch 86 may be conveniently located on the vehicle instrument panel or on the body adjacent the rear opening and includes a manually movable contactor 98 which is maintained at an electrical potential by a conductor 100 extending between the battery of the vehicle, not shown, and the contactor. The contactor 98 is engageable within the switch on a terminal end of either one of a pair of conductors 102 and 104, the other terminal end of conductor 102 being connected to one side of the normally open contact 92 and the holding coil 96 in relay 90 while the other terminal end of conductor 104 is similarly connected to the holding coil and normally open contact in relay 88. The other side of normally open contact 92 in relay 90 is connected by a conductor 106 to the winding 82 of electric motor 62. Similarly, the other side of normally open contact 92 in relay 88 is connected by a conductor 108 to the winding 80 of electric motor 62. Another conductor 1 10, connected to the battery of the vehicle and maintained at the electrical potential of the latter, serially connects the normally closed contacts in each of the relays 88 and 90 and terminates within switch 74 in electrically conductive engagement with a movable contactor 112.

The contactor 112 is actuated by sensing element 72 so that the switch 74 is responsive to the position of driving member 48. When the driving member moves from the center position thereof in a direction corresponding to opening movement of the tailgate, the sensing element is cammed out of aperture 63 and moves the contactor 112 to a position electrically connecting conductor 110 and the winding 82 corresponding to energization of the motor 62 in the opposite or closing direction. Similarly, when the driving member 48 moves from the center position thereof in the direction corresponding to closing movement of the tailgate, the contactor 112 is moved to a position electrically connecting conductor 110 and the winding 80 corresponding to energization of the motor 62 in the opposite or opening direction.

Describing now the combined operation of the tailgate and the closure operator, in the closed position of the tailgate the driving member is in the center position thereof and driven arm 46 assumes the position shown in solid lines in FIGS. 1 and 3. To open the tailgate in the manual mode, the operator grasps a handle 114 on the lower section 24 and lifts the tailgate from the closed to the open position while the lost motion between the driven arm 46 and the driving member 48 is taken up in the slot 64. The tailgate is held in the open position by the spring counterbalance assemblies and may be returned to the closed position by reversing the direction of the force applied to the handle I 14.

T o operate the tailgate in the power mode, the operator manually moves the contactor 98 in switch 86 to a position electrically connecting conductors 100 and 104 thereby to close the normally open contact 92 and open the normally closed contact 94 in the relay 88. With the contact 92 closed, the winding 80 of the motor 62 is energized to effect clockwise rotation of the pinion 60 and counterclockwise rotation of the driving member 48. Counterclockwise rotation of the driving member, of course, effects engagement between the lower end portion 66 of the slot 64 and the abutment pin 78 on the driven arm for moving the tailgate to the open position as described hereinbefore.

As the driving member moves out of the center position during opening of the tailgate, the sensing element 72 is cammed out of aperture 63 thereby to connect winding 82 of the motor and conductor 110 through contactor 112. Electrical continuity between the battery and contactor 112 is broken, however, by normally closed contact 94 in relay 88 which is held open by coil 96 as long as switch 86 is being manually actuated so that the opposing winding 82 of the motor remains deenergized.

When the operator senses that the tailgate has reached the open position, either visually or through stalling of the driven arm 46 against the bumper 84,

contactor 98 is deactuated thereby to deenergize the coil 96 and open the contact 92 while closing the contact 94 in the relay 88. With the contact 94 closed and the contactor 112 in switch 74 still electrically connecting the conductor 110 and the winding 82 because the driving member is out of the center position, the motor 62 is immediately energized in the reverse direction thus rotating the driving member 48 clockwise back to the center position thereof wherein the contactor 112 is automatically returned to a position disengaged from both of the motor windings and 82 as the sensing element reenters aperture 63 in the driving member. Since the driving member 48 is again in the center position thereof, the tailgate may, if desired, be moved from the open to the closed position in the manual mode with the lost motion between the driven arm 46 and the driving member 48 being taken up in the slot 64.

Alternatively, referring to FIGS. 1, 4 and 5, the tailgate may be moved in the power mode from the open position to the closed position by bringing the contactor 98 into engagement with the terminal end of conductor 102 thereby to close and open, respectively, the contacts 92 and 94 in the relay 90. With contact 92 closed the winding 82 of the motor is energized to effect counterclockwise rotation in the pinion 60 and clockwise rotation of the driving member 48 thus moving the tailgate to the closed position. As the driving member 48 begins clockwise rotation, the contactor 112 of switch 74 electrically connects the opposing winding 80 of the motor to the conductor as the sensing element 72 is cammed out of aperture 63, the connection, however, being interrupted by open contact 94. When the operator detects that the tailgate has achieved the closed position, the contactor 98 in the switch 86 is deactuated and the motor 62 immediately and automatically energized in the opposite direction. With the motor 62 rotating in the opposite direction, the driving member 48 is rotated counterclockwise back to the center position.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the control circuit could easily be modified to accommodate extra manually actuated switches. More particularly, a very convenient arrangement incorporates two manual switches, one switch being located on the instrument panel and the other being located on the vehicle body exterior adjacent the rear opening. The two terminal portions of the second switch are connected in parallel with the terminal end portions of conductors 102 and 104 and the contactor of the second switch is maintained at battery potential by any convenient means. In such an arrangement, either switch is effective to operate the tailgate in the power mode.

Having thus described the invention, what is claimed 1. In a vehicle body having an opening therein and a closure supported thereon for movement in either one of a manual mode and a power mode between an open position remote from said opening and a closed position disposed in said opening, the combination comprising, a driving member supported on said vehicle body for movement from a center position in either one of a closing direction and an opening direction corresponding respectively to movement of said closure toward the closed position and toward the open position, drive means selectively operable to move said driving member in either one of said opening and said closing directions, a driven member operably connected to said closure for moving the latter in the power mode between the open and the closed positions thereof, means defining a slot on one of said driving and said driven members having a pair of opposite end portions, means defining a rigid abutment on the other of said driving and said driven members engageable on said one member in said slot, said driven member in the center position of said driving member locating the one of said slot and said abutment thereon relative to the other of said slot and said abutment in one of an extended position corresponding to the open position of said closure wherein said abutment is disposed adjacent one of said end portions of said slot and a retracted position corresponding to the closed position of said closure wherein said abutment is disposed adjacent the other of said end portions of said slot so that movement of said closure in the manual mode effects concurrent movement of said abutment relative to said slot between said end portions of the latter, control means associated with said drive means manually actuable to energize the latter for moving said driving member from the center position in either one of said opening and closing directions thereby to effect engagement between said abutment and one of said end portions of said slot for moving said closure in the power mode toward the corresponding one of the open and the closed positions, and automatic reversing means associated with said drive means responsive to deactuation of said control means for effecting momentary reverse energization of said drive means to return said driving member to the center position thereof.

2. In a vehicle body having an opening therein and a closure supported thereon for movement in either one of a manual mode and a power mode between an open position remote from said opening and a closed position disposed in said opening, the combination comprising, a driving member supported on said vehicle body for movement from a center position in either one of a closing direction and an opening direction corresponding respectively to movement of said closure toward the closed position and toward the open position, a reversible electric motor connected to said driving member and supported on said vehicle body for selective energization from a source of electrical energy to move said driving member in either one of said opening and said closing directions, a driven member operably connected to said closure for moving the latter in the power mode between the open and the closed positions thereof, means defining a slot on one of said driving and said driven members having a pair of opposite end portions, means defining a rigid abutment on the other of said driving and said driven members engageable on said one member in said slot, said driven member in the center position of said driving member locating the one of said slot and said abutment thereon relative to the other of said slot and said abutment in one of an extended position corresponding to the open position of said closure wherein said abutment is disposed adjacent one end portion of said slot and a retracted position corresponding to the closed position of said closure wherein said abutment is disposed adjacent the other end portion of said slot so that movement of said closure in the manual mode effects concurrent movement of said abutment relative to said slot between said end portions of the latter, a first electrical switch disposed between said energy source and said electric motor manually actuable to energize the latter for pivotally moving said driving member from the center position in either one of said opening and said closing directions thereby to effect engagement between said abutment and one of said end portions of said slot for moving said closure in the power mode toward the corresponding one of the open and the closed positions, a second electrical switch disposed between said energy source and said electric motor responsive to the position of said driving member for energizing said motor in a reverse manner thereby to effect movement of said drive member toward the center position thereof, and switch sequencing means associated with each of said first and said second switches responsive to the condition of said first switch for preventing reverse energization of said motor simultaneously with actuation of said first switch.

3. In a vehicle body having an opening therein and a closure supported thereon for pivotal movement about an axis of said vehicle body in either one of a power mode and a manual mode between an open position remote from said opening and a closed position disposed in said opening, the combination comprising, a driving member having therein an arcuate slot including a pair of opposite end portions, means supporting said driving member on said vehicle body for pivotal movement about a fixed axis of the latter from a center position in either one of a closing direction and an opening direction corresponding respectively to pivotal movement of said closure toward the closed position and toward the open position, a reversible electric motor connected to said driving member and supported on said vehicle body for selective energization from a source of electrical energy on said vehicle body to move said driving member in either one of said opening and said closing directions, a driven member supported on said vehicle body adjacent said driving member for independent pivotal movement about said fixed axis of said vehicle body, link means operably connecting said driven member to said closure for moving the latter in said power mode between the open and the closed positions thereof, means on said driven member defining a pin projecting rigidly therefrom into said slot on said driving member, said driven member in the center position of said driving member locating said pin in one of an extended position corresponding to the open position of said closure wherein said pin is situated adjacent one of said end portions of said slot and a retracted position corresponding to the closed position of said closure wherein said pin is situated adjacent the other of said end portions of said slot so that movement of said closure in the manual mode effects concurrent movement of said pin relative to said slot between said end portions of the latter, a first electrical switch disposed between said energy source and said electric motor manually actuable to energize the latter for pivotally moving said driving member from the center position in either one of said opening and closing directions thereby to effect engagement between said pin and one end portion of said slot for moving said cloing means associated with each of said first and said second switches responsive to the condition of said first switch for preventing reverse energization of said motor simultaneously with actuation of said first switch.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification49/139, 49/40, 296/56, 49/340
International ClassificationB60J5/10, E05F15/12
Cooperative ClassificationE05Y2201/24, E05Y2201/722, E05Y2800/11, E05Y2900/546, E05F15/123, B60J5/106, E05F15/127, E05Y2201/214, E05Y2800/74
European ClassificationE05F15/12D1, B60J5/10C3, E05F15/12H