BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to the installation of fuel pumps, fuel
level senders and rollover/venting valves in motor vehicle fuel tanks.
In order to provide protection against fuel spilling from the vapor
vent line in a fuel tank, in the event of a vehicle rollover, it has been mandated
that motor vehicle fuel tanks be equipped with valves which close the vapor vent
when the vehicle is tilted beyond a threshold amount from the normal upright position.
Such rollover/vent valves typically employ a float which closes the valve when the
liquid level of the fuel rises above a predetermined level in order to prevent liquid
fuel from sloshing out of the vapor vent either during normal operation or in the
event of rollover. Further, it is necessary to locate the valve in the highest portion
or the location of the deepest fuel level in order to provide vapor venting at all
levels of fuel up to the maximum fuel level.
Heretofore, such rollover/vent valves have been installed through
an access opening provided in the fuel tank at the highest location thereon and
sealed and secured over the opening.
This requirement for the placement of the rollover/vent valve has
required plural access openings in the top of the fuel tank in order to properly
locate the rollover/vent valve and also to provide an access opening for the installation
of the fuel pump and level sender mechanism for providing remote readout of the
fuel level to the vehicle operator. The plural access openings in the top of the
fuel tank require a seal around each opening and thus the probability of a faulty
seal and leakage has been increased. In addition the need for plural access openings
has weakened the structural integrity of the top of the fuel tank and has increased
the cost of fabricating the tank.
GB-A-2,284,581 discloses a vehicle fuel storage and supply system,
comprising a fuel tank that has a single aperture which acts as an access point
for the fuel pump, the breather pipe, the fuel level sensor and a Venturi pump.
A mounting means comprising a molded plastic top plate and an annular plate is mounted
in the aperture, the fuel pump is mounted on the top plate, the breather pipe is
rigidly attached to the annular plate and the top plate and acts as a support for
the fuel level sensor and the Venturi pump. This enables the different components
of the system to be located in regions of the tank remote from each other, but still
to be inserted through the same aperture.
Furthermore, in many of the recent passenger and light truck vehicle
designs, it has been necessary to provide a dished out or recessed area in the top
of the fuel tank in order to properly locate and fit the fuel tank underneath the
vehicle platform. This structural arrangement has made it extremely difficult to
provide installation and connection of the vapor vent lines to the rollover/vent
valve upon installation of the tank onto the vehicle during vehicle assembly. Such
an arrangement has also complicated the routing of the vent and fuel feed lines
and the electric supply leads to the fuel pump.
It has thus long been desired to find a way or means of simplifying
the installation of the rollover/vent valve, fuel pump and fuel sender devices onto
a fuel tank in a manner which reduces the number of access openings in the top of
the tank and enables all the lines to be commonly routed to a single access opening.
It has further been desirable to eliminate the plural access openings in the top
of the fuel tank to reduce the number of areas requiring seals and thus the probability
of leakage in the event of faulty sealing either during installation or in service.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a method of installing a combined fuel
pump, float level sender and rollover venting valve in a fuel tank as defined in
claim 1. The combination fuel pump, level sender and rollover/vent valve assembly
is capable of being installed as an integral unit through a single access opening
in the top of a fuel tank. The assembly of the present invention includes a rollover
valve having a resilient mounting strip attached thereto and the rollover valve
is connected to the fuel pump/level sender module by a substantially rigid conduit.
The rollover valve with the mounting strip and one end of the conduit for vapor
venting attached thereto is inserted in the fuel tank; and, one end of the retaining
strip is moved along the bottom of the tank until ratchet surfaces provided in the
bottom of the tank are engaged. The conduit and rollover valve are pivoted to cause
the opposite end of the retaining strip to engage corresponding ratchet surfaces
in the top of the tank to secure the rollover valve in a predetermined location
at the highest point in the tank. The fuel pump/level sender module is then attached
to the conduit and sealed over the access opening. In a preferred step, the conduit
connecting the rollover/vent valve and the fuel pump module may be configured to
conform to the recessed or dished shape of the top of the fuel tank to enable locating
the rollover/vent valve at the highest level in the tank. The present invention
thus provides a convenient way of installing a rollover/vent valve in a region of
the tank remote from the access opening to provide proper location of the vent valve
at the top of the deepest section of the tank. The method of the present invention
reduces the number of openings requiring sealing in the top of the tank, and permits
ail of the electrical and fluid conduit connections to be made at a common location
on the top of the tank, thereby facilitating installation of the tank on the motor
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
- FIG. 1 is a cross-section of a vehicle fuel tank having a generally rectangular
- FIG. 2 is a section view taken along section-indicating lines 2-2 of FIG. 1;
- FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 1 showing the first phase of the invention
being installed in a fuel tank having a recessed top;
- FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3 showing the second phase of the installation
of the invention in the tank of FIG. 3; and,
- FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 4 showing the assembly of the present invention
completely installed and the fuel tank of FIG. 3.
Referring to FIG. 1, the assembly of the present invention is indicated
generally at 10 installed in a flat topped fuel tank 12 having a generally rectangular
cross-section. The assembly 10 includes a rollover/vent valve indicated generally
at 14 and a module indicated generally at 16 which includes internally therein,
but is unshown, a fuel pump with a fuel delivery tube 18 extending outwardly therefrom.
The module 16 includes a liquid level sender indicated generally at 20 which includes
a float arm 22 pivoted for movement of a wiper 24 which makes contact with a potentiometer
or variable resistor 26 which is typically of the wire wound variety mounted on
the exterior of the module 16. The module also includes a fuel feed tube 28 which
extends to the bottom of the fuel tank from the module. The module 16 includes an
outwardly extending annular flange 30 at the exterior or upper end thereof, which
flange is sealed by a gasket 31 or other sealant on upper surface of the tank and
retained in position thereon by any suitable mechanical means, as for example, a
bayonet twist lock arrangement with locking ring 32 attached to the top of the tank
in a manner well known in the art.
The valve 14 has a resiliently deflectable mounting strip 34 attached
to the valve by suitable fastening means 36 adjacent one end thereof. The strip
34 has its opposite or lower end engaged in ratchet surfaces 38 provided in the
bottom of the fuel tank and upper end 40 located in notches 76 provided in the top
of the fuel tank, both are preferably formed integrally therewith. Referring to
FIG. 2, mounting strip 34 has the lower end preferably formed in a bifurcated or
inverted "V" configuration.
The vent outlet of the valve 16 as indicated by reference numeral
42 is connected to one end of a substantially rigid conduit 44 which has its opposite
end connected to a vent port 46 provided in the module 16 which port 46 is connected
to an exterior vent tube 48 extending outwardly from the top of the module exteriorly
of the tank. The pump module 16 also has electrical leads 50, 52 extending outwardly
from the flanged top 30 of the module 16 for connection to an on-board source of
electrical power for the fuel pump (not shown) housed within module 16.
Referring to FIGS. 3 through 5, another embodiment of the invention
is indicated generally at 60 and is shown installed in a fuel tank 62 having a dished
or recessed portion 62 of the upper wall which is adapted for conforming to certain
portions of a vehicle structure (not shown). The assembly 60 is shown in FIG. 3
in the initial stages or first phase of installation through a single access opening
66 provided in the tank wherein a rollover/vent valve indicated generally at 68
has a resilient elongated strip 70 attached thereto adjacent one or the upper end
thereof by suitable fasteners 72. The opposite or lower end of strip 70 is deflected
against the bottom of the fuel tank as the valve 68 is moved into position under
the upper wall of the tank at the deepest section thereof.
Tank 62 has a plurality of engagement surfaces 74 provided on the
bottom thereof at the desired location for valve 68; and, in the present practice
of the invention the surfaces 74 have a ratchet or toothed configuration. A similar
set of mounting surfaces 76 is disposed on the interior of the upper wall of the
tank at the desired location for valve 68 but perpendicular to the teeth 74.
Valve 68 has its vent outlet 78 connected to one end of a substantially
rigid tube 80 which is configured to conform to the recess in the top wall 64 of
the tank. The opposite end of tube 80 extends outwardly through the access opening
Referring to FIG. 4, the valve 68 has been moved further in the tank
to a second phase position where mounting strip 70 has its upper end located in
teeth 76 in the upper wall of the tank; and, the lower end has begun to engage the
ratchet teeth 74 in the bottom of the tank. The fuel pump module indicated generally
at 78 has now been attached to the end of the conduit 80 extending outwardly of
the tank through access opening 66. Module 78 includes an electric fuel pump (not
shown) disposed therewithin which has electrical leads 82, 84 extending outwardly
from an annular mounting flange 86 provided at the upper end of the module 78. Module
78 has an exterior vent tube 88 extending from the top of the module 78 and which
is connected to the vent tube 80 through the module connection port 90. The module
16 has a fuel level sender, which may be of the potentiometer type, indicated generally
at 92 and which has a liquid level float arm 94 extending therefrom for responding
to the changes in the fuel level in the tank. Module 78 also has a fuel feed tube
96 extending downwardly therefrom which is connected to the inlet of the electric
fuel pump (not shown) disposed within module 78.
Referring to FIG. 5, the module is shown completely inserted into
the tank through the access opening 66; and, the valve 68 has been pivoted into
position ratcheting the lower end of strip 34 into a final desired position with
respect to the surfaces 74 provided in the bottom of the tank. In the final desired
position, the fuel feed tube 96 is positioned against the bottom of the tank to
permit full utilization of the liquid in the tank. It will be understood that the
undersurface of module flange 86 is sealed against the top of the access opening
66 by a gasket 99 and retained thereon by bayonet twist locking with a retaining
ring 98 provided on the upper surface of the tank around opening 66 in a manner
known in the art.
The present invention thus permits installation, as a single unit,
the combination of a rollover/vent valve fuel pump module and fuel level sender
through a single access opening in a fuel tank, thereby eliminating additional access
openings in the upper surface of the tank and reducing the potential for leakage.
The present invention utilizes a substantially rigid conduit for attaching the rollover/vent
valve to the fuel module for remote positioning of the rollover/vent in the tank
and provides for a single location for the connection of the fuel feed line, the
vent hose and the pump electrical connections.
Although the invention has hereinabove been described with respect
to the illustrated embodiments, it will be understood that the invention is capable
of modification and variation and is limited only by the following claims.