The present invention relates to a valve control device, particularly
for valves in fluid conveying and distributing systems.
Valves in fluid conveying and distributing systems, such as directional
control valves, regulating valves, drain valves or selector valves, are usually
controllable by means of a manual control device, such as a knob or handle, or by
an automatic control device, such as an electric or electromagnetic device. The
control device acts via an actuating spindle on a plug such as a ball or cone, which
in turn controls the flow of fluid through the valve.
A known type of manual control device has a handle rotatably mounted
on the valve body and connected, by an actuating spindle, to a plug inside the valve
body, in such a way that it is possible to control the position of the plug, and
hence control the flow, by means of the handle. To prevent undesirable movements
of the plug, certain valves have a means of locking the handle relative to the valve
body by means of a "trigger" button on the underside of the handle where the fingers
of the user can operate it when grasping the handle. The trigger button acts on
a handle stop tooth which engages in a toothed ring on the valve body to prevent
movement of the handle and hence of the plug.
The control devices of the prior art present a number of serious disadvantages
in situations requiring rapid actuation, such as failures and emergencies. In particular
when there are leaks of aggressive media, such as steam, hot or pressurized liquids
or chemicals, fast, safe operation of the valve is prevented by the impossibility
of releasing the handle while wearing the protective gloves. Moreover, for various
reasons it is not always possible to completely grasp the control handle with the
fingers and blockages of the handle, caused for example by clogging, are sometimes
very difficult to eliminate.
The object of the present invention is therefore to provide a valve
control device having characteristics such as to obviate the drawbacks cited with
reference to the prior art.
This object is achieved by means of a control device for a valve
having, inside a valve body, a plug actuatable by means of an actuating spindle
that extends through a passage in the said valve body which terminates in a supporting
portion or stalk on the outside of the valve body, the said control device comprising:
- a handle connected to the said actuating spindle to actuate the plug;
- releasable locking means for locking the handle relative to the valve body in
predetermined setting positions; and
- a release button acting on the locking means, in which the said release button
is situated on a side of the handle that is essentially away from the valve body,
and the locking means are releasable by pressure on the button essentially towards
the valve body.
To explain the invention and its advantages more clearly, an illustrative,
non-restrictive example is now described with reference to the appended drawings,
Figure 1 is a perspective view of the control device according to
Figure 2 is a cross section through the device seen in Figure 1;
Figure 3 is an exploded view of the device seen in Figure 1;
Figure 4 is a side view, partly in section, of a detail of the control
device according to the invention;
Figure 5 is a perspective view of a detail of the control device according
to the invention; and
Figure 6 shows one mode of use of the detail seen in Figure 5.
With reference to the figures, a control device for a valve is
indicated as a whole by the reference 1. The control device 1 comprises a handle
2 rotatably connectable to a supporting portion or stalk 15 on a valve body 6. The
handle 2 is capable of positioning, by means of an actuating spindle 3 inside a
passage 10 formed inside the valve body 6, a closing element 7 located inside the
valve body 6. The handle 2 is provided with a release button 8 which acts on releasable
locking means 4, 5 designed to lock the handle 2 in predetermined setting positions.
The release button 8 is situated on a side of the handle 2 that is essentially away
from the valve body 6, and the locking means 4, 5 are releasable by pressure on
the button 8 essentially towards the valve body 6.
The handle 2 comprises a base 9 in the shape of a spherical cap encircling
a reference axis s, with a circular, essentially flat lower surface 11 from which
there centrally projects a connecting sleeve 12 and, around the outer circumference,
a lower edge 13 which forms an essentially cylindrical wall. This lower edge 13
defines, together with the connecting sleeve 12 and the lower surface 11, an essentially
annular cavity 14 designed to accommodate a flange 16 on the supporting portion
15 of the valve body 6.
On an upper side of the base 9, facing away from the lower surface
11, is an elongate grip 19 that extends preferably along a diameter of the base
9 and projects from the side of the latter. Advantageously, the length of the free
portion 34 of the grip 19 which projects beyond the edge of the base 9 is less than
or approximately equal to the diameter of the base 9.
The grip 19 is inclined with respect to the base 9 and with respect
to the reference axis s which also forms the axis of rotation of the handle 2. In
particular, the grip 19 is inclined towards the base 9 so that its free portion
34 is higher (i.e. further from the valve body 6) than the portion connected to
the base 9. In other words, a hand resting on the grip 19 will tend to slide towards
the base 9, and therefore towards the reference axis s, and at the same time downwards,
in the direction of the valve body 6.
The grip 19 is of an elongate shape, preferably rounded with an essentially
convex upper surface 20 on the side away from the valve body 6, and an essentially
concave lower surface 28 on the side towards the valve body 6.
The upper surface 20 has an aperture 21 able to accommodate the abovementioned
release button 8 in such a way that the latter projects above the said upper surface
Advantageously, the aperture 21 is elongate, preferably rectangular,
in shape and extends predominantly along the free portion 34 of the grip 19.
In accordance with one embodiment, the handle 2, and in particular
the grip 19, comprises a cover piece 22 which is removably attachable, preferably
by an interference fit or by a snap fit, to the handle 2. The cover piece 22 forms
the said upper surface 22 of the grip 19 and forms a tool to facilitate the assembly
and disassembly of the valve.
In this particular case, the said tool takes the form of two rigid
tabs 23 set at a distance from each other and projecting from the cover piece 22
towards the base 9. The rigid tabs 23 are designed to engage in two recesses formed
in tightening rings 35 (Figure 2), while the rest of the cover piece 22 is used
as the handle of the tool.
The cover piece 22 gives access to a cavity 24 inside the grip 19
containing two parallel walls 26 extending approximately radially relative to the
reference axis s. The walls 26 extend along the free portion 34 of the grip 19 either
side of the button 8 aperture 21 and form a seat for an actuating piece 25 which
will be described later. Between the walls 26 is a through aperture 27 extending
through to the said lower surface 28 of the grip 19. More precisely, the through
aperture 27 is at the lower edge 13, which in turn is interrupted at and by the
through aperture 27.
Between the two parallel walls 26, at the outer end of the grip 19,
is a slot 30 designed to engage around the end of a tab 31 belonging to the actuating
The actuating piece 25 comprises an elongate and preferably rounded
upper portion forming the abovementioned button 8, and a transmission bar 32 projecting
from an underside of the button 8.
In accordance with one embodiment, the button 8 is curved, with the
vertex of the curve displaced to one side, in such a way that when mounted in the
handle 2, and specifically in the grip 19, the button 8 has roughly the opposite
inclination to the inclination of the grip itself. In other words the profile of
the button 8 becomes higher as it approaches the base 9 or rather the reference
The button 8 advantageously also has a transverse hole 33 designed
to accommodate a pin (not shown in the figures) for preventing accidental actuation
of the button 8. The transverse hole 33 is preferably positioned beneath the vertex
of the button 8.
The transmission bar 32 is connected, preferably as one piece, to
the button 8 and essentially forms an arc that extends advantageously along a circumference
about an axis of rotation of the actuating piece 25.
The end of the transmission bar 32 furthest from the button 8 forms
a tooth 4 for engaging in recesses 5 in the valve body 6.
The actuating piece 25 also includes a preferably elastically acting
tab 31 with a stop tooth 29. The tap 31 is connected to the transmission bar 32
close to the button 8 and extends in the longitudinal direction of the button 8.
The free end of the tab 31 is inserted, by means of the stop tooth
29, into the slot 30 in the grip 19, forming a rigid connection between the actuating
piece 25 and the grip 19.
The actuating piece 25, specifically the transmission bar 32, is situated
between the parallel walls 26, which guide it in its movement, and the elastic compliance
of the tab 31 permits an elastically opposed rotary and translational movement of
the button 8 and consequently of the transmission bar 32 with the tooth 4.
In other words the button 8 is held elastically in a locked position
in which the tooth 4 engages in one of the recesses 5 on the valve body 6, and,
owing to the elastic bending of the tab 31 during manual actuation of the button
8 by pressing it down (that is towards the valve body 6) or towards the reference
axis s, the actuating piece 25 - more precisely the button 8, the transmission bar
32 and the tooth 4 - execute a rotary movement in which the tooth 4 moves radially
away from the reference axis s and hence from the flange 16, together with a translational
movement in which the tooth 4 moves axially towards the valve body 6, moving it
simultaneously axially away from the flange 16.
The flange 16 of the supporting portion or "stalk" 15 is essentially
annular and has a circumferential outer surface 17 designed to fit inside one of
the inner surfaces of the annular cavity 14, preferably at the lower edge 13, of
the handle 2. The outer surface 17 contains one or more recesses 5 able to take
the tooth 4 of the handle 2 in order to lock the handle relative to the valve body
The recesses 5 are preferably rectangular and are positioned in predetermined
setting positions to allow precise positioning of the handle 2 and, consequently,
of the plug 7.
In accordance with one embodiment, the recesses 5 are arranged at
intervals around the circumference of the flange 16 and individual recesses or groups
of recesses can be closed or covered by blocks (not shown in the figures) to adapt
the control device 1 to the particular use.
Another embodiment comprises, around the flange 16, additional recesses
18 of preferably rounded shape to accommodate attachment members for attaching an
automatic drive device such as an electric motor. The additional recesses 18 are
preferably also shaped to allow engagement of the tooth 4.
The handle 2 is mounted on the valve body 6 by inserting the connecting
sleeve 12 into the passage 34 inside the supporting portion 15 and then connecting
the connecting sleeve 12 to the actuating spindle 3 and, via the latter, to the
plug 7. The handle 2 is able to rotate relative to the valve body 6 about the reference
axis s, and the annular cavity 14 of the handle 2 accommodates the flange 16 of
the valve body 6. The lower edge 13 of the handle 2 at least partly, but preferably
completely, covers the circumferential outer surface 17 of the flange 16 and, consequently,
the recesses 5 which are well protected against undesirable deposits of impurities
The control device 1 and the valve comprising this device are preferably
moulded from synthetic material such as polypropylene or PVC. Alternatively they
may be made of metal.
The operation of the control device according to the invention is
During normal operation of the valve, such as for example a ball valve,
the plug 7 is positioned by turning the handle 2 to the desired setting position.
If the setting position coincides with one of the positions defined by the recesses
5, the tooth 4 snap-engages into the appropriate recess 5, thus providing precise
positioning of the plug 7 as well as locking the handle 2 and, consequently, the
plug 7 in the setting position.
The setting positions are easily adaptable to the requirements of
use because individual recesses or groups of recesses can be closed selectively
with suitable blocks.
When the handle is locked, the tooth 4 covers the through aperture
27 in the lower edge 13 and prevents deposits of impurities or obstructions in the
To change the setting position of the valve, the user places his hand
on the inclined grip of the handle and pushes towards the valve body. The user's
hand now tends automatically to orient itself and move into the correct position
to operate the button 8. Due to the particular support of the button 8, the latter
moves down, that is towards the valve body, and simultaneously rotates, which moves
the tooth 4 both radially and axially away from the recess 5 and releases the handle
When the handle is released, the through aperture 27 allows access
from the outside both to the tooth 4 and to the recess 5 for quick and easy removal
of any obstacles preventing handle movement. This is particularly important in emergencies
To prevent undesirable operation of the handle 2, the button can be
locked by inserting a pin through the transverse hole 33.
Also, during assembly of the valve the cover piece 22 is readily usable
as a tool for screwing or unscrewing tightening rings 35 used for example to fix
the position of a ball inside the valve body.
The control device according to the present invention has numerous
Owing to the position of the release button, it can be operated even
without the use of the user's fingers and in particular with protective gloves.
The special ergonomic shaping of the handle and the inclination of
the grip towards the valve body direct the user's hand naturally in the correct
direction to operate the release button. This effect, which is particularly advantageous
in emergencies, is further increased by the fact that the button is inclined in
the opposite direction to the inclination of the grip.
The recesses are efficiently protected from external effects, and
potential obstacles to the movement of the handle are automatically expelled during
withdrawal of the tooth from the recess, and are in any case easily removable because
the recess and the tooth are exposed in the release position.
Clearly, to fulfil any specific requirements which may arise, other
modifications and variations may be made by those skilled in the art to the control
device according to the present invention, without departing from the scope of protection
of the invention as defined in the following claims.