UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
April 11, 1975
PERMA RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, Plaintiff,
THE SINGER COMPANY, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUFFY
This case has had a long and tortured history. It was instituted on March 9, 1966, and the operative facts go back several years prior to that time. The trial spanned eight months and included many thousands of pages of exhibits.
Basically, it is a breach of contract action, plaintiff and defendant having entered into two contracts, one on June 18, 1964, the other on December 21, 1964. By judicial curtailment of the issues, only the breach of the December 21, 1964 contract was the subject of the trial but in order to put into perspective all of the claims, counterclaims and defenses of the parties it is necessary to review the negotiations leading to the June 18, 1964 contract, the relationship of the parties while operating thereunder, and particularly the knowledge gained by the defendant during the period starting with the negotiations leading to the June 18, 1964 contract and ending with the December 21, 1964 contract; and also the performance by the defendant under the December 21, 1964 contract.
involve an anti-skid device for automobiles invented by the president of the plaintiff, Frank Perrino (hereinafter "Perrino"); patented by him and the patents assigned first to the plaintiff corporation and thereafter pursuant to the December 21, 1964 contract to the defendant. It should be remembered that anti-skid devices for automobiles were not generally marketed prior to 1964, and that there is no attack whatsoever on the patents which underlie this suit.
This action started as one to set aside the December 21, 1964 contract and to enforce certain provisions of the June 18, 1964 contract. That complaint was dismissed by Judge Frederick vanPelt Bryan of this Court except that Judge Bryan found that a cause of action lay in the "Wherefore" clause of the complaint that the defendant may have not used its "best efforts to market and manufacture" the invention assigned to it under the December 21, 1964 contract. Civil No. 66-665 (S.D.N.Y., filed March 29, 1968), aff'd 410 F.2d 572 (2d Cir. 1969).
Thereafter, Judge MacMahon of this Court, in denying another motion for summary judgment, further delineated the issue of "best efforts" as follows:
". . . we think that 'best efforts' here means that Singer was required to continue collaborating with Perma for a reasonable length of time in a good faith effort to solve the problems then preventing marketing of the product."
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"For example: (1) Did Singer use its best efforts for a reasonable time . . . to perfect the product under all the circumstances? (2) In view of the fact that the device was not 'fail-safe,' was Singer justified in abandoning the contract either because it was impossible to make the device ' fail-safe' or because it could not be made ' fail-safe' without unreasonable, unwarranted or impractical efforts and expenditures of time and money out of all proportion to engineering and economic realities?" 308 F. Supp. 743, 748-49 (S.D.N.Y. 1970)
While I defined the issues at the start of trial in a somewhat similar manner to that of Judge MacMahon, I permitted extraordinary latitude to the defense to prove all that it could and to make any arguments it wished as to its defenses and its counterclaim. Since the case was tried without a jury I permitted certain evidence to be received which is of questionable probative value. All of this was done with a view that this trial would mark an end to this litigation.
In summary, I find for the plaintiff on the claim that was tried. I also find that the counterclaim advanced by defendant was totally sham as a matter of fact.
This opinion is to be considered findings and conclusions as required by Rule 52 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
BACKGROUND OF THE PARTIES
Frank Perrino, although a person without formal engineering training, has been a "tinkerer" all his adult life. After being discharged from the Air Force, where he received training as an airplane mechanic, he returned to his native New England where he invented an accelerator brake and filed for a patent in 1959. An anti-skid control was part of this accelerator brake patent application. In 1962, a separate patent application was filed for the anti-skid invention. Thereafter, the anti-skid was separated into five patent applications representing different aspects of the device. These applications matured into five separate patents between 1966 and 1969 after the assignment of them to the defendant.
Perrino founded the plaintiff corporation, Perma Research & Development Company (hereinafter "Perma") under Delaware law and has been its president at all relevant times. Perma has its principal place of business in North Attleboro, Mass.
The Singer Company (hereinafter "Singer") is a New Jersey corporation with its headquarters in Rockefeller Center, New York, N. Y. While originally started as a manufacturer of sewing machines, it has become a widely diversified manufacturing concern. The 1965 annual report for the Singer Corporation shows sales of $980 million from manufacturing and sale of heating and air conditioning equipment, technical products, business machines and computers, and a variety of other devices, of course including sewing machines. During 1965 alone, Singer spent $18 million on its various research and development activities.
Both parties acknowledge that this Court has jurisdiction over this action based on diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
BACKGROUND TO THE NEGOTIATIONS LEADING TO THE JUNE 18, 1964 CONTRACT
After the invention of the accelerator brake and the recognition that the anti-skid control could be separated from it, Perrino tried to interest various people in the automotive industry in the devices. Of particular note is the fact that he took the anti-skid device to the Bendix Corporation in 1960, where it was considered by Stanley I. MacDuff, who tested it once by driving it home and who recommended that Bendix decline any interest in the device. (As we will see later, this was the same Stanley I. MacDuff whom the defendant Singer employed as an expert when it became apparent that this case would go to trial and who was permitted to give "expert" testimony at trial.) Perrino, on behalf of Perma, was apparently unable to interest anyone in the anti-skid device but continued working on it at North Attleboro, Mass.
Perma also arranged to have tests made of its anti-skid device by certain automotive companies and by the Motor Vehicle Research of New Hampshire (hereinafter "M.V.R.N.H."), apparently a private organization owned by one Andrew White. M.V.R.N.H. agreed to do the testing for a portion of the capital stock of Perma and White became a member of the Board of Directors of Perma. M.V.R.N.H., thereafter, issued a glowing report on the Perma anti-skid device. Much of the report, however, only hints at conclusions and little firm test data is contained therein. Armed with this report and a promotional film, Perrino, on behalf of Perma, set out again to sell some manufacturer on the anti-skid control device. Apparently this effort was again unsuccessful although Perma had put together a number of hand-tooled, hand-finished prototypes.
Apparently in late 1963 or early 1964, Perma had arranged for a distribution agreement of the anti-skid device with a small number of automotive equipment distributors and new car dealers and had entered into a contract for the manufacture of the device by the Worcester Stamp Metal Company of Worcester, Mass., which in turn had sub-contracted with others for the manufacture and assembly of some of the components of the device.
Perma, through Perrino, continued to try to interest safety officials, highway patrols, insurance companies and others in the device. Apparently some officials of the Singer Company (Canada) Ltd. saw the promotional film, the M.V.R.N.H. bulletin and advised the management of the Elizabeth, N. J., Singer plant of the device.
During the period of the early 1960s, imports of cheaper sewing machines (particularly Japanese made models) had cut into Singer's share of the sewing machine market. Singer had already started to diversify its product line and yet much of Singer's Elizabeth plant, which had been engaged principally in the manufacture of sewing machines, stood idle.
THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE JUNE 18, 1964 CONTRACT
In February 1964, representatives of Singer's Elizabeth, N. J., plant traveled to North Attleboro, Mass., to meet with Perrino and other representatives of Perma. Perrino apparently told the Singer people at that time that the Perma anti-skid device was "fail-safe" (or in plaintiff's version, "had fail-safe features") and "that in case of a failure, that the car would revert back to its normal braking". The Singer representatives were also assured that in the event of some internal failure "the unit in effect deactivated and reverted back to the original brake system on the car". The Singer people were also shown the Perma promotional film which stated "The Perma anti-skid control . . . includes a fail-safe feature which will automatically revert to the standard braking system in case of failure." These statements or ones similar to them allegedly were reiterated by Perma officials in the months leading to the June contract.
Similarly, Singer was told that the device was "perfected" and that Perma had "had testing done by an independent laboratory." In connection with this latter assertion Perma supplied the Singer officials with copies of the M.V.R.N.H. report.
It is on the basis of these asserted "false misrepresentations" that the defendant asserts its counterclaim and its affirmative defense since the device was neither perfected nor fail-safe.
At the initial meeting in North Attleboro, the Singer personnel present were Messrs. Kloby, Morris and Sprague. Kloby was to be the man in charge of the Perma anti-skid program for Singer. He admitted that he had no background in engineering. Morris at the time was the assistant general manager of the Elizabeth facility and after June 1964, became the general manager of the facility. Sprague was the chief engineer of the Elizabeth plant. Each was a witness to a demonstration of the Perma product at this February meeting. First a Perma employee drove a car equipped with the anti-skid device on a test track behind the Perma offices. Then the representatives of Singer were given a demonstration ride in a car equipped with a Perma anti-skid device over country roads. A number of stops were made under panic conditions. Some of these were made while the car was driven with two wheels on dry road and the other two on the wet, snow-covered shoulder.
Singer had immediately after the initial meeting in February been given a set of plans and specifications, along with three anti-skid controls and a cutaway of the device. These were necessary for Singer to work out the cost to build the anti-skid control. In return, the Singer officials left with Perma a brochure which was boastful about the engineering and quality control expertise of Singer.
While it is clear that Singer sought out Perma to beef up production in its Elizabeth, N.J., plant, it is similarly clear that Perma was anxious to have Singer take over the manufacturing of its anti-skid device since the Worcester Stamped Metal plant was on strike and Perma was dissatisfied with the quality control of the units being delivered by Worcester.
Prior to signing the June 18, 1964 contract, Perrino and his cohorts from Perma visited the Elizabeth plant and displayed to the top Singer officials the entire device with all of its components spread out on conference tables. The promotional film was shown and the M.V.R.N.H. report was distributed. Among the many Singer representatives present at the presentation were the top officials of the Elizabeth plant along with the top engineers assigned to that facility. This fact becomes important as we will see because one of the "experts" who testified on behalf of the defendant at trial indicated that any engineer worth his salt would, on inspection, have rejected the Perma device as totally unmarketable. I must assume that this was a damning of the Singer engineering capabilities, which is a strange defense and one which I will not rule on.
THE JUNE 18, 1964 CONTRACT AND THE EXPERIENCE OF THE PARTIES THEREUNDER
On June 18, 1964, the parties entered into a Patent Licensing Agreement by which Perma granted Singer the exclusive right to manufacture the device in the United States. In order to oust the Worcester Stamped Metal Company, Singer agreed to buy the inventory then being held by Worcester. This cost over a million dollars.
It is undisputed that, after the Elizabeth plant acquired the inventory and started production, many defects were found in the mass-produced device. During this period from mid June to December 1964, officials from Perma visited the Elizabeth plant quite often and the parties redesigned a number of the components of the device, including many of the so-called "fail-safe features".
Rather than attempt to describe the entire device, I am appending hereto a copy of one of the patents which most fully discloses its configuration and operation. (Appendix A) From this the reader should note that anti-skid control consists of a flexible cable attached to the speedmeter cable, which drives a set of weights in the sensor; the weights spin in a centrifugal fashion which, when suddenly slowed or stopped, collapse in such a fashion on one side to force a cam gear to actuate a micro switch which permits electricity to pull back a solenoid on the other side of the sensor; which in turn permits a rotary valve to introduce vacuum into the system. This vacuum draws back a diaphragm in the "Perma-Vac", which in turn pulls back a plunger which takes hydraulic fluid from the brake system and thus relieves pressure on the brakes. A pressure switch is included in the device at this point so that when pressure is reduced the electricity flowing to the solenoid is cut off and the vacuum stopped at the diaphragm, thus permitting full brake pressure to be exerted. In this manner the brakes are "pumped" in a "panic stop", thus lessening the chance for a locked wheel skid.
During the period of June through December 1964, the pressure switch was redesigned with Singer's chief engineer on the project so deeply involved in the redesign that he made some of the parts by himself in the tool room at the Elizabeth plant.
Similarly, it was discovered that the cam gear which activated the micro switch was not operating properly. Singer's chief engineer on the project concluded that this feature was "marginal" and suggested that it be redesigned. Instead, a temporary solution was worked out whereby the cam gear was polished.
Other difficulties with the device were recognized by the Singer staff. They noted that the sensing unit could become packed with contaminants in ordinary usage; that the rotary valve could and did "bind" on occasion; and that the Perma-Vac spring should be strengthened.
On September 17, 1964, Singer's chief project engineer confided his fears about the reliability of the anti-skid control to management in a memorandum which reads in part:
"I am deeply concerned about the reliability of this device in general. My cause for alarm stems from the fact that the performance testing does not detect some defects which could cause malfunction of the unit during operation on a car . . . I feel it would be advisable to get a detailed specification from Perma listing all the possible causes for failure so we may incorporate tests to detect deficiencies before sending units out of the plant. I strongly recommend that the legal aspects of responsibilities be thoroughly investigated so that we may be fully covered for what is sold before the confidence level is determined to be satisfactory."
Whether, in fact, Singer asked Perma for such "detailed specification" is unclear but it is clear that none was forthcoming.
During the period from June through December 1964, Singer conducted a number of tests on the anti-skid controls that it was producing. These were done on test stands acquired from Perma. A device was also installed on a Singer vehicle. These tests, however, were not exhaustive, but that was a choice by Singer management and in no way now bolsters its counterclaim and affirmative defense.
Because of the problems recognized by Singer, few of the anti-skid controls were marketed prior to the December contract, thus leaving Perma financially distressed. Both parties recognized the need for further engineering on the device and this situation led to the negotiations for the December 21, 1964 contract.
NEGOTIATIONS FOR DECEMBER 21, 1964 CONTRACT BETWEEN THE PARTIES
The exact genesis of the negotiations leading to the December 21, 1964 contract between the parties is unclear but it is clear that Perma entered the negotiations with a negative balance sheet and the recognition that it could not perfect the anti-skid device for market on its own. Singer offered to Perma its engineering skills and purported expertise.
But, before entering the December 21, 1964 contract, Singer, although it had done its own marketing surveys and had seen Perma's estimates, commissioned William E. Hill & Co., Inc. to do another market survey. The report of the Hill organization delivered to Singer management at least a week prior to the December 21, 1964 contract with Perma totally demolishes the counterclaim and affirmative defense advanced by Singer. It so dramatically proves that the management of Singer could not have relied on any alleged false representation by Perma that it is set forth in full in Appendix B hereto.
Among the "Principal findings and conclusions" of the report are the following:
"The Perma antiskid control falls short of meeting requirements of automotive engineers and does not provide the improvement possible in theory. The consensus of many engineering tests that have been run on the unit indicate that the Perma control, as compared to a panic or locked wheel stop, gives improved steering control but requires a greater stopping distance to come to a complete stop. The automotive brake and safety engineers who have reviewed its performance do not agree on the value of the Perma anti-skid control . . ."
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"The General Motors Research Center, the Ford Advanced Design Group and the Chrysler Brake Laboratory are against use of the control."
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"Based on evaluation by major automobile manufacturers the Perma anti-skid control does not meet established requirements."
In an appendix to the Hill report is a summary of the results of tests which representatives of Singer, at trial, claimed were concealed from Singer by Perma prior to the December 21, 1964 contract. Apparently this claim has now been abandoned.
Singer, however, still presses its claim that Perma falsely misrepresented that the device was "fail-safe" and that it was fully "perfected" and "tested" and that Singer relied upon these representations in entering the December 12, 1964 contract. I hold as a matter of fact that there was no such reliance. Without reliance any misrepresentation is not cognizable at law either as a counterclaim or as an affirmative defense. In the situation presented only an ostrich could make the claim defendant does. It is clear to me that both the counterclaim and the affirmative defense raised by Singer are sham.
THE DECEMBER 21, 1964 CONTRACT BETWEEN THE PARTIES
On December 21, 1964, the parties entered into a contract whereby Perma assigned its patent applications to Singer. It is clear that the parties knew at that time that the anti-skid device was not fully perfected and that Singer would have to do work to make the device a marketable one. In consideration for the assignment of these rights Singer paid off all the outstanding debts of Perma and agreed to pay royalties on each Perma anti-skid control marketed. No minimum royalty was agreed to in the contract, a somewhat unusual arrangement.
It is true that both parties to the contract were looking for the anti-skid control to be quickly marketed, for both had expectations of deriving profits from it, but these expectations do not give credence to Singer's argument that the contract did not call for any engineering work by Singer on the device. That promised engineering work is the total foundation upon which the December 21, 1964 contract is based. It is true that the expected engineering work is not spelled out in the contract. And it is for that reason that we must consider whether Singer made its best efforts in collaboration with Perma for a reasonable length of time in a good faith effort to solve the problems then preventing the marketing of the product.
In this connection it must be noted that the December 21, 1964 assignment of Perma's patent rights to Singer was accompanied by a Technical Services Contract of the same date. This Technical Services Contract required Perma to collaborate with Singer in any engineering efforts which Singer required the inventor to do to make the device marketable. The very existence of the Technical Services Contract gives the lie to Singer's contention that no further engineering work was contemplated by the parties as of December21, 1964, the date they entered the patent assignment contract.
SINGER'S PERFORMANCE UNDER THE CONTRACT
To properly evaluate Singer's performance under the patent assignment contract it is necessary to look first at Singer's capability. In 1965, Singer had 15 research and development laboratories and employed more than 2,200 scientists, engineers and technicians. Singer's net earnings in 1965 were $44 million.
Singer chose to leave in charge of the Perma project after December 12, 1964, those who had worked on production under the prior June contract: Robert Kloby and Albert Romel. Kloby was given the title Manager, Perma Anti-Skid Program. His education and experience were concentrated in marketing, market evaluations and sales projections. He had no engineering background whatsoever. Albert Romel was an engineer graduated from the Newark College of Engineering in June 1964, which he attended while working for Singer at the Elizabeth plant. Virtually for his entire adult life Romel had been employed at the Elizabeth plant where he had been engaged in the manufacture of sewing machines. Prior to working on the Perma device, he had no employment experience in automotive or brake industries. Until he started to work on the Perma device he had never worked on brake systems.
Both Kloby and Romel testified at trial. Romel, the engineer in charge assigned to the project by Singer, took 22 minutes on the witness stand to compute the relative proportion of one circle to another after being given pencil and paper and the relevant equations which require merely squaring one number. At the point this exercise was called for, Romel had been on the stand for a number of days. He did not appear nervous. Yet his computations were totally wrong. The history of the project shows that Romel was not an innovator but merely followed his instructions. He testified that although he had worked on the Perma device starting in June 1964, and had been exposed to it in February 1964, he had not analyzed the invention prior to the contract of December 21, 1964.
Romel's staff consisted of three graduate engineers, one engineering student and various others who were given grandiose titles which seem to have been invented solely for this litigation. One engineer from Singer's Denville research laboratory was also assigned to the project for a period of about one month.
Kloby and Romel were under orders to keep expenses down. The manager of the Elizabeth plant received a memorandum from corporate headquarters dated January 7, 1965, which stated in part:
"It is of the utmost importance that we spend no additional moneys and generate cash flow as quickly as possible . . ."
To this the following response was made:
"Every additional expenditure for the Perma product line is being scrutinized thoroughly by this office. No additional moneys are being spent unless absolutely necessary in order to control our total investment."
One Singer official estimated that during the year 1965, the project cost $190,000 including salaries of all assigned to the project, allocation of normal expenses to run the Elizabeth plant, etc. This figure appears inflated although Singer at trial tried to prove an even more bloated figure. In this attempt the witnesses for the defendant contradicted themselves and each other in many respects. For example, Kloby testified that in September 1965, he was removed from the Perma project and returned to "Forward Planning" at the Elizabeth plant; yet his salary for the entire year is attributed to the Perma project.
In any event, it is clear that Singer gave inadequate funding to the entire program and staffed it with inept and inexperienced people who were unable to even understand the problems, much less cope with them. At one point Singer advertised for an automotive engineer who specialized in brake systems. He was not hired.
Shortly after undertaking the December 21, 1964 contract, Singer attempted to set up "liaison" with automotive and brake manufacturers. This consisted of one trip for Kloby and Romel to the Detroit area early in 1965, and conversations with various people there. It is astounding that Kelsey-Hayes, a well-known brake manufacturer, at that time offered to analyze and do tests on the device, (apparently without cost to Singer) but that the offer was rejected out of hand, at least until Singer recognized that this litigation was impending.
In March 1965, Singer received from E.I. duPont deNemours & Co. (hereinafter "duPont") an analysis of a 1963 vintage Perma device. This analysis set forth a number of potential failure modes in the device which could cause an unsafe condition and loss of brakes. No independent analysis of the device was made at this time by Singer. Romel thereafter concentrated the efforts of his staff in attempting to resolve the problems posed by the duPont report and those obviously required by the changes made in braking systems introduced by the automotive manufacturers.
Some of the 1965 model automobiles had for the first time self-adjusting brakes and disc brakes. For the Perma device to work with these new features required greater fluid displacement and higher hydraulic pressure. Pursuant to the Technical Services Contract, Perma proposed to change the device by changing the piston bore and the spring in the Perma-Vac. This, however, would have rendered worthless much of Singer's inventory and in February 1965, Perrino, at Romel's direction, designed a transfer valve whereby vacuum would be introduced to the front of the Perma-Vac diaphragm to assist in pumping the brakes. The device thus became totally vacuum dependent with this change and introduced more failure modes into its operation. If there was a loss of vacuum for any reason (e.g. an engine stall), the brakes might not be fully reapplied.
In order to meet the demands of the new braking systems Singer also experimented with a "restrictor valve" which was devised by Romel and those working for him. The "restrictor valve" is a simple device which permits hydraulic fluid to run more freely in one direction than in the other. It appears that there are serious questions as to the efficacy of this addition and these questions are of real substance.
It is clear to me that Romel and his staff did not have a full understanding of the dynamics of the device or of an automobile to which it was to be attached.
Romel tested various models of the Perma Anti-Skid throughout the period from June 1964 through December 1965, on test stands basically supplied by Perma at the Elizabeth Singer plant. He also arranged for road tests at the Linden, N.J., airport.
It is of some interest that the officials of Singer spurned Perrino and the other officials of Perma during most of the period after the December 21, 1964 contract. While the Perma people were at the Elizabeth plant, conferring with Singer at least two or three times a week under the June 18, 1964 contract, this liaison almost totally ceased after Singer entered the December 21, 1964 contract even though under the Technical Services Contract Perrino and Perma remained obligated (at no extra cost) to confer with Singer about the development of the anti-skid unit. When the Technical Services contract expired it was not renewed but thereafter Perrino continued to make technical suggestions to Singer.
In June 1965, Singer through Romel and his staff were conducting road tests on the Perma device. These tests were conducted on a completed but unused section of Interstate Highway 295.
SINGER'S DECISION TO ABANDON THE CONTRACT
At about this time, corporate politics inside Singer called for a shakeup in management. Apparently there had also been some grumbling from corporate headquarters about the non-profitability of the Perma project. Finally, Alfred DiScipio was named as corporate vice-president in charge of Consumer Products. Among the many product lines under Mr. DiScipio's direction was the Perma Anti-Skid Device program.
DiScipio, with some of his staff, visited the Elizabeth plant to review production of all product lines manufactured there. In connection with the review the group from corporate headquarters went to view the road tests of the Perma device being conducted at the Interstate Highway.
A car was driven down the highway and subjected to a "panic" stop, first with the Perma device inactivated and then allegedly twice with the anti-skid control in operation. On all three runs the car swerved and skidded dangerously out of control.
DiScipio and his group immediately got into their own vehicles and drove away, surprisingly without even checking to see if the anti-skid had been operative or ascertaining what caused its failure.
At a meeting following the abortive demonstration, DiScipio announced that the anti-skid control was not fail-safe. He told the group that Singer would not market a product which "could leave the purchaser . . . less safe than if he hadn't elected to purchase it . . ." It must have been as clear to DiScipio's subordinates as it was to me on trial that DiScipio was enunciating an impossible standard yet apparently none of his subordinates dared to question their boss. It is my belief that DiScipio had determined to get rid of the Project on the very day he first saw it demonstrated and that he communicated this decision to his subordinates although not in so many words.
In any event, a few days later DiScipio set up a "Task Force" to study the Perma project which was chaired by Burton Person, DiScipio's assistant, and, significantly, included an attorney from the staff of house counsel. Person thereafter circulated a memorandum setting out the guidelines for the work of the Task Force. The memorandum questions whether manufacturing and marketing an anti-skid device for automobiles was the type of business which was appropriate for Singer and outlined certain areas for study, including Singer's legal exposure and possible costs if the project was terminated. Technical evaluation of the device was first sought from Kloby and Romel. Romel's report dated July 22, 1965, declares "due to cost and limited personnel available, it was decided to restrict extensive experimentation to short range projects." This admission in and of itself gives a fair insight into the real efforts used by Singer under the December contract with Perma.
Within days after getting the Romel report, Person, on August 10, 1965, circulated the first report of the Task Force. Basically, it recommended the withdrawal of the device from the market; the retrieval of units already sold and in use; the termination of distributorship contracts; and an approach to Perma to "provide flexibility for Singer in regard to divestiture". Significantly, the report also directed that all letters and strategy were to be reviewed by outside counsel to Singer. At the time of the preparation and circulation of this first report, no outside engineering evaluation of the device was considered by the Task Force although it is clear that the members of the group had at the outset contemplated getting such an evaluation from the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratories and at least from Singer's own Denville Research and Development Laboratories.
The August 10, 1965 First Report of the Task Force sounded the death knell of any real effort by Singer to perfect and market the Perma anti-skid device. Much of what occurred thereafter was merely a charade staged in contemplation of the possibility of litigation.
On August 30, 1965, Person and Singer's attorney Boriss went to North Attleboro to meet with Perrino and other representatives of Perma. Person announced that the Perma program had been stopped since the device was not "fail-safe", which he defined as being so designed and made "so that no matter what, it must revert to the conventional braking system". Person also stated Perma had to solve the problems.
On September 9, 1965, Person wrote a letter to Perrino asserting that Singer had legal claims against Perma. This letter also stated that Singer proposed "to procure the evaluation of a qualified, independent laboratory and have in fact initiated discussion with the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory". The letter failed to state that Singer had decided against having Cornell do such an evaluation.
In fact, Person had, on September 3, 1965, requested from Singer's own Denville Research and Development Laboratory a report on whether the anti-skid device was fail-safe. The device as submitted to the Denville scientists and engineers contained the transfer valve. The Denville report as finally submitted is dated November 9, 1965. The contents of that report are extremely significant but they will be outlined below.
Meanwhile, Romel and his staff at the Elizabeth Singer plant kept searching for a quick solution to the problems of the anti-skid device. I can characterize these efforts only as being abysmally inept. The proposals generally ignored fundamental engineering concepts. For example, to minimize hysteresis (sticking) in the rotary valve, Romel experimented with a larger rotary valve, thus increasing the area where friction would occur with concomitant aggravation of the fundamental sticking problem.
At the same time, Perrino had also attacked the "fail-safe" problem and by early November had come up with a set of proposals including a bleeder hole to the back of the Perma-Vac which would restore brakes if vacuum was present longer than a pre-determined time; a variable displacement piston to increase output pressure; and a vacuum time delay device which would turn off the device after a pre-determined time. Perrino called the last proposal a fail-safe for the fail-safe.
On November 4, 1965, Perrino called Person and gave him a brief description of his proposals and agreed to send him a schematic of the devices. He also called Romel and described the proposals to him and likewise agreed to send Romel a schematic.
Without seeing the drawings, Romel, in a conversation with Person, stated his opinion that the proposals advanced by Perrino would not work.
Romel did not get the drawings until November 10, 1965, although Person, who could not judge the devices on his own, did receive the schematics on November 9, 1965. On November 9, 1965, Person also received the report of the engineering analysis from Singer's Denville Research and Development Laboratory. This report described the work by Singer at Elizabeth as "modest", and concluded that the device was not fail-safe because of its vacuum dependence caused by the transfer valve (induced by Romel to save inventory). The report further stated that a redesign program estimated to cost $30,000 could overcome this problem. The defendant did nothing to implement this proposed redesign program.
On the same day as Person received the Denville report and Perrino's proposal, he submitted a Task Force report to DiScipio which formally recommended the divestiture of the Perma program. That night DiScipio and Person met and DiScipio orally agreed to the divestiture. Two days later, DiScipio gave formal approval to the Task Force Report but noted that a reserve of $2,000,000 should be set up instead of the $1,500,000 recommended in the report.
Person then set up a meeting with Perrino on November 22, 1965, in Providence, R.I. There he handed Perrino a letter dated the same day which basically rejected Perrino's ideas to make the anti-skid device more "fail-safe". Person, when questioned about Singer's real purpose, told Perrino, "Very bluntly, Frank, we do not want to be in the brake business -- our people at Elizabethport should not have gotten into the brake business." Person tried to get Perrino to change the December 21, 1964 contract but Perrino refused and threatened to bring this lawsuit.
After the November 22, 1965 meeting, this litigation loomed and nothing much of what was done by Singer is of much import. Of course, Singer tried to cut its losses by attempting to sell the device. For some reason, perhaps as an attempt to cloak what Singer recognized was a breach of its contractual obligations, Romel continued working on the Perma project with his curtailed staff. He spent most of his time until January 26, 1966, prototyping the device for new model cars, i.e., measuring the lengths of vacuum hose, speedometer cable, etc., for the changed models.
On January 26, 1966, Singer finally abandoned all pretense and abandoned any effort to perfect the device.
THE COUNTERCLAIM AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE OF FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION
Although the Post Trial Brief submitted by the defendant lacks definition of exactly what it relies on in support of its counterclaim and affirmative defense, it is clear that the claims may be broken into the following three categories: (1) perfection and testing; (2) performance; and (3) fail-safety.
Singer claims that Perma and its representatives misrepresented each of these areas in inducing the defendant to enter the December 21, 1964 contract.
Before turning to the specific allegations, it may be well to set out the elements required to prove fraudulent misrepresentation. Basically they are: (1) that material representations were made by one party to a contract; (2) which representations were false; (3) and were made with the requisite degree of scienter (or knowledge of their falsity); and (4) which were relied upon at the time of entry into the contract by the other party thereto. Daly v. Wise, 132 N.Y. 306, 30 N.E. 837 (1892); Becker v. Colonial Life Insurance Company, 153 App. Div. 382, 138 N.Y.S. 491 (2d Dept. 1912).
(1) Perfection and Testing
It cannot be disputed that the promotional movie shown to Singer executives at the Perma plant in February 1964 and then again at the Singer Elizabeth facility in April 1964 represented that the Perma Anti-Skid device was a "perfected, patented device". Such representations were apparently repeated by Perrino to Romel during the period from June 1964 to December 21, 1964, the date of the contract.
Perrino, on the other hand, claims that he meant that the device was "workable, useable and marketable".
It is clear to me that the statement in the movie was mere "puffing" and was accepted as such by the executives of Singer. Singer, by its experience manufacturing and testing the device under the June 18, 1964 contract, certainly cannot claim reliance on this statement nor on the representations by Perrino. I have already detailed that changes were made in the device by Romel prior to the December 21, 1964 contract.
I find that it is totally incredible to believe that Singer relied on these statements when it entered the December 21 contract. If it had, then certainly Singer would never have entered the Technical Services Contract with Perma which looked to perfection of the device.
As to the contention that Singer considered the anti-skid device as "fully tested" and relied on the plaintiff's alleged statements to that effect in entering the December contract, we need look to only two Singer documents to give the lie to this. The first is Romel's memorandum of September 17, 1964 (set out above at page 888), which calls for further testing. The second is the Hill Report which recites in Exhibit 1 thereto the "Results of Engineering Tests of the Perma Anti-Skid Control" where 6 out of 7 tests show that "Reliability of Unit" was not tested and where 5 out of 7 show that the device was not totally acceptable.
The lack of any scintilla of proof of reliance on the part of Singer on any of the alleged misrepresentations must doom this allegation.
(2) Performance of the Anti-Skid Device
It is interesting to note that Singer abandoned many of its claims of misrepresentation but has half-heartedly consigned to footnotes in its Post Trial Brief (pp. 6 and 17) certain allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation, the chief among which are that the device provided "shorter stopping distances" and "modulated in accordance with a graph on page 4 of Report No. 13 of Motor Vehicle Research of New Hampshire".
Again, even if these statements were made by plaintiff (which I doubt), there is positive evidence that Singer could not have relied on them. Once again, this evidence is found in the Hill Report where Exhibit 1 shows that longer stopping distances occurred with the Perma Anti-Skid Device and that the device "cycle through this lock-roll-lock-roll condition about four times a second . . ." and thus could not be said to modulate.
In the face of the Hill Report, which was supplied to Singer management at least one week prior to entering the December 21 contract, how the defendant can claim reliance on these alleged misrepresentations is beyond my ken.
The other allegations about misrepresentation of performance are so without merit as to preclude any discussion of them in this opinion.
Singer has defined "fail-safety" as follows:
"We do not regard a device as failsafe unless failure of the device regardless of cause or probable frequency of a particular type of failure, does not impair the utility of the underlying system to which it is connected."
Its own expert has totally rebuffed Singer's definition of "failsafe", stating that such a standard is almost impossible of attainment. I admit that I can think of only one mechanical device which might meet this test: a wedge -- the simplest tool known to man. It is important to note that, according to Singer's own expert, there has never been an anti-skid system marketed in the United States that satisfied the definition of failsafe advanced by Singer.
It is uncontroverted that Perma represented to Singer that the "anti-skid" device in question had "fail-safe features" which, if the device malfunctioned, would return a car equipped with the device to its underlying braking system. But to torture this into the absolute "failsafe" advocated by Singer is to warp the words used by Perma representatives and to wrench a new meaning from them heretofore unknown to semantics. I find that there was no misrepresentation by Perma in this respect.
And even if there was a misrepresentation, there was no reliance on it by Singer. During the period from June through December 1974, the personnel at the Elizabeth Singer plant encountered any number of failure modes in the Perma device. They knew on December 21, 1974 that the anti-skid control could not meet the standard now advanced by Singer.
Indeed, it appears clear to me that these issues were really a smoke screen to needlessly delay the resolution of this litigation and to harass the plaintiff and this Court. Thus, I find the counterclaim and affirmative defense to be totally sham as a matter of fact.
THE DECEMBER 21, 1964 AGREEMENT WAS A "BEST EFFORTS" CONTRACT WHICH SINGER BREACHED
Singer contends that the contract in question was merely an assignment of patents, which contract would not require any effort on the part of the assignee to perfect the device, citing Eclipse Bicycle Co. v. Farrow, 199 U.S. 581, 26 S. Ct. 150, 50 L. Ed. 317 (1905) and other such cases.
In so doing, the defendant completely ignores the facts. This Court will not follow Singer down such a totally ignominious path.
The contract before this Court is not merely an assignment of patents. Rather, clearly implied in the contract is the intention that Singer would use its best efforts to perfect and market the device.
Though the words of the contract do not spell out this obligation, the circumstances leading to the signing of the contract mandate such an implied obligation. See Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, 222 N.Y. 88, 118 N.E. 214 (1917); Eastern Electric, Inc. v. Seeburg Corp., 427 F.2d 23, 26-27 (2d Cir. 1970); 3A Corbin, Contracts § 562 (1960). It is true that Perrino testified that he "did not discuss anything about perfecting the device" at the time he entered the contract. But it is clear that the perfection and marketing of the device was the heart of the December 21, 1964 contract.
To reiterate what is said in Section V of this opinion: Perma at the time it entered the contract had a negative balance sheet with a number of large outstanding debts, since few of the anti-skid devices were sold between June and December 1964. The reason that there were so few sales was that imperfections had been discovered in the device. Singer and Perma had been working to resolve these imperfections. Singer offered its purported engineering expertise to perfect the device in return for a contract which did not even guarantee a minimum patent royalty.
Singer knew that the device was still to be perfected for why else would it have entered into the Technical Services Contract with Perma? The Singer personnel discovered all of the difficulties which prevented any meaningful sales of the device under the June contract. They knew of the problems with the anti-skid and necessarily knew that it had to be perfected.
Since the December 21, 1964 contract which Singer foisted on Perma does not disclose the efforts Singer was to expend on perfecting the device, it must be assumed that it was a "best efforts" contract, i.e., as Judge MacMahon indicated, that: "Singer use its best efforts for a reasonable time . . . to perfect the product under all the circumstances." 308 F. Supp. at 749.
Did Singer use its "best efforts" to perfect the device? Clearly, as I set out above, its efforts were at best inept and certainly not "best efforts". There is no doubt Singer could have accepted Kelsey-Hayes' offer to analyze and test the device. It did not do so. There is no doubt that Singer could have turned the program over to its Research and Development Laboratories. It did not do so. There is no doubt that it could have hired an engineer with experience in the automotive or brake field. It did not do so.
There are any number of reasonable things which Singer could have done to perfect the device without unreasonable cost or effort. It did not do so.
Did Singer use its best efforts to perfect the Perma Anti-Skid device? It did not do so.
SINGER'S CLAIM THAT THE PERMA ANTI-SKID DEVICE WAS WORTHLESS AND COULD NOT BE PERFECTED AND MARKETED
Singer clearly set forth in the Pre-Trial Order that it considered the Perma Anti-Skid was worthless since it could not be perfected. As part of its main case to rebut this contention, Perma offered the testimony of Daniel Goor and Andre L. DeVilliers.
Both Mr. Goor and Mr. DeVilliers were deeply involved in the development and perfection of the Kelsey-Hayes anti-skid device. Goor, although a consultant, was in charge of the project for a considerable period of time. DeVilliers was an engineer who ran a number of computer simulations on the Kelsey-Hayes device to assist in its perfection to the point that it became marketable.
Since funds were not available to plaintiff to run empirical tests of the Perma Anti-Skid Device, with alterations of the various components, the plaintiff retained DeVilliers to do computer simulations of the device with the possible changes in components. DeVilliers, using the LaGrange equations (which are readily available in standard university textbooks -- so much so that the equations were not totally foreign ground to me) produced certain computer simulations. For those unfamiliar with computers, it must be noted that in this context, simply put, a computer is but calculators with a giant "memory" and the simulations the computer produces are but the solution to mathematical equations in a "logical" order.
On the basis of the computer simulations produced by DeVilliers, Goor testified that the Perma Anti-Skid Device could be made into a marketable product. Given the state of the art in 1964 and 1965, and even considering the electronic improvements in the anti-skid devices commercially sold today, I find as a fact that the Perma Anti-Skid Device could have been perfected and made marketable with the proper engineering work done.
To counter this evidence, the Singer company produced two main witnesses. Professor Rabins of Polytechnic Institute of New York, testified, on a theoretical plane, that the Perma Anti-Skid Device was worthless. Professor Rabins also testified that he based his opinion on a sample given to him, which sample was not even offered in evidence. Under questioning by me, he admitted that he had never seen the plans and specifications for the device nor any of the models introduced into evidence.
What Professor Rabins saw, measured and based his calculations on is totally unknown to this Court. Consequently, most of his testimony must be disregarded.
Stanley I. MacDuff also testified for the defendant Singer as an "expert". An expert witness is produced by a party to give the Court some insight into a technical area. As such, his testimony is most useful if it is impartial. An expert's testimony, like that of any other witness, can and should be tested for credibility by the trier of fact. See generally Fortunato v. Ford Motor Co., 464 F.2d 962 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1038, 93 S. Ct. 517, (1972); Manning v. New York Telephone Co., 388 F.2d 910 (2d Cir. 1968); Scott v. Spanjer Bros., Inc., 298 F.2d 928 (2d Cir. 1962).
Stanley I. MacDuff was far from impartial and his advocacy (he is a lawyer) of his client's position was such that any statement emanating from him was immediately suspect. The suspicion of MacDuff's opinion is compounded when we realize that he, while employed by the Bendix Corporation, had totally turned down the Perma device. Not only were his views slanted by his present employment by the defendant, but they were also slanted by his prior rejection of the device on behalf of his former employer who now pays his pension.
MacDuff testified on direct that a mechanical (as opposed to an electronic) sensor on anti-skid devices made them worthless. Yet MacDuff admitted that at least one anti-skid [device] had been marketed which had a mechanical sensor. MacDuff's judgment regarding the perfectibility and marketability of the Perma device becomes even more suspect when viewed in the light of his admission that he personally tried to sell to various car manufacturers a totally mechanical anti-skid device produced by a foreign subsidiary of his former employer.
Viewing all of the evidence, I am convinced that the Perma Anti-Skid control was perfectible and could have been marketed. This leads me then to the question of damages.
Singer cites case law for the proposition that a patent assignor cannot recover for the assignee's failure to fulfill an implied "best efforts" obligation where the patented device is not commercially useful. In Kraus v. General Motors Corp., 120 F.2d 109 (2d Cir. 1941) commercial useability was actually made a part of the licensing contract. In Peck v. Shell Oil Co., 142 F.2d 141 (9th Cir. 1946), the defendant's inability to develop a marketable product constituted failure of consideration such that the licensing agreement was rendered unenforceable. The Perma device, defendant continues, is not useful by reason of its imperfectability as a matter of engineering principle. Even if the cited cases stood for the broad proposition of law urged by the defendant, the argument would fail since I have found the device to be perfectible.
A plaintiff is entitled to the reasonable damages naturally flowing from the defendant's breach of contract. For Children, Inc. v. Graphics Int'l, Inc., 352 F. Supp. 1280 (S.D.N.Y. 1972). The measure of damages to which a plaintiff is entitled as a result of such a breach has also been described as the amount necessary to put the plaintiff in as good a position as he would have been if the defendant had abided by the contract. Hutchins v. Bethel Methodist Home, 370 F. Supp. 954 (S.D.N.Y. 1974).
Although lost profits in a new venture are not ordinarily recoverable (Cramer v. Grand Rapids Show Case Co., 223 N.Y. 63, 119 N.E. 227 (1918)), they may be awarded where: the loss of prospective profits are the direct and proximate result of the breach; profits were contemplated by the parties when they entered the contract; and there is a rational basis on which to calculate the lost profits. For Children, Inc. v. Graphics Int'l, Inc., 352 F. Supp. 1280, 1284 n.16 (S.D.N.Y. 1972); cf. Flexitized Inc. v. National Flexitized Corp., 335 F.2d 774 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 380 U.S. 913, 85 S. Ct. 899 (1964).
In For Children, Inc. v. Graphics Int'l, Inc., supra, the plaintiff contracted with the defendant for the manufacture of books with a pop-up feature. In placing its order the plaintiff relied on defendant's expertise as a pop-up printer and designer. A large percentage of the books actually supplied to the plaintiff for marketing were defective and the plaintiff properly rejected them despite the defendant's protestations that a 15 per cent margin of error was necessary. Judge Weinfeld rejected defendant's claims since under the contract the defendant had taken responsibility for the design and engineering of the books without qualifying this responsibility with any provision for a margin of error. Although the plaintiff's venture was a new one, the court found that: the parties had contracted with an eye to plaintiff's marketing the product; the product was ready to be marketed; and there was a reasonable probability that, considering all the circumstances, 75 per cent of the books would have been successfully marketed.
In the case at hand the defendant assumed a greater responsibility in the new venture. Nevertheless, Singer's claim of imperfectability of the device is analogous to the defense raised in For Children, Inc. (that a 15 percent margin of error was insurmountable) and has been similarly rejected. Moreover, had Singer fulfilled its obligations under the December contract, the anti-skid device would have proceeded to market as anticipated.
The remaining determination then is whether damages here are altogether too speculative to assess, or whether there is some reasonable basis on which damages can be computed. It has been held repeatedly that where the defendant renders the determination of damages difficult, he must bear the risk of uncertainty created by his own conduct. Story Parchment Co. v. Paterson Parchment Paper Co., 282 U.S. 555, 563, 51 S. Ct. 248, 75 L. Ed. 544, (1931); Eastman Kodak Co. v. Southern Photo Co., 273 U.S. 359, 379 47 S. Ct. 400, 71 L. Ed. 684 (1929); Autowest, Inc. v. Peugot, Inc., 434 F.2d 556, 565 (2d Cir. 1970); For Children, Inc. v. Graphics Int'l, Inc., 352 F. Supp. 1280, 1284 (S.D.N.Y. 1972). Furthermore, the Court in Story Parchment defined the prohibition against an award of speculative damages as barring those damages which "are not the certain result of the wrong, not . . . those damages which are definitely attributable to the wrong and only uncertain in respect of their amount." 282 U.S. at 562. As was said in the Flexitized case, supra, the evidence need not establish lost profits precisely to the penny as long as the evidence provides a reasonable basis for concluding that lost profits were occasioned by the defendant's breach.
The parties have suggested various alternative figures upon which damages should be computed.
It is conceded by both parties that the market for automobile parts and accessories is divided into the OEM (original equipment manufacturers) and the aftermarket (manufacturers and retailers of accessories for automobiles). The defendant offers numerous proposed findings of fact to demonstrate that the Perma device would not have succeeded in either of these markets. Numerous proposed findings are also offered to demonstrate the relative failure of the major automobile manufacturers to market anti-skid devices as part of the original equipment on their 1969-1974 models.
Not only have such devices been unsuccessful in the OEM, but Singer also argues that the Perma device would not have been selected by the major automobile manufacturer. Singer relies on the testimony of its witness Bechtold that there is a three year development period from the year in which automotive manufacturers accept an accessory until the time they offer it as original equipment. Thus they argue that the Kelsey-Hayes device which Ford offered in 1968 was necessarily in the Ford product development cycle in 1966, when the Perma device was first to have been marketed. Singer argues that the Perma device could not have been placed on Ford cars until 1969. In any case, they contend that the Perma device would have required extensive and expensive modification in order to ready it for use on a 1967 model car. Thus they conclude that the retail price of the Perma device would have been greater than or equal to the price of the allegedly superior device which was selected by Ford.
The essence of this line of argument is that in the unlikely event that the Perma device was selected by the major car manufacturers, it would have enjoyed only limited success.
Plaintiff meets these contentions with the observation that Bechtold, on cross-examination, retreated from his testimony that the three year developmental cycle is invariable. Thus the Perma device might well have been available to and selected by the major automobile manufacturers prior to the other comparable devices. Moreover, they point out that the unimpressive sales record of those devices that have been offered as original equipment reflects the self-evident observation made in the Hill Report that "sales volume will depend on the amount of promotional efforts."
The defendant also argues that there have been virtually no sales in the aftermarket of the comparable anti-skid devices which have been available for almost five years. Plaintiff concurs in that observation which they view as inuring to their benefit since the Perma device would have encountered no competition in the automobile aftermarket, admittedly the principal market in which the parties planned to sell the device.
Defendant's additional proposed findings that Perma had no marketing experience in the OEM or aftermarket; that Perma had responsibility under the June contract for marketing the device; and that Perma had not validly assessed the probable success of the anti-skid device in either the OEM or aftermarket are equally unavailing to defendant in its attempt to minimize damages. The first two points are irrelevant since it was Singer, not Perma, which had the responsibility of marketing the device under the December 21, 1964 contract, the relevant contract in this action. Nor was Perma obligated to assess the probability of success of the device in the OEM or aftermarket.
Defendant urges a finding that its sales projections were based totally on Perma's marketing forecasts. Under the June contract, Patten, Singer's sales manager at Elizabeth, received marketing forecasts from Perma which, when requested, he would incorporate into internal Singer memoranda. In evaluating the merits of what was to become the December contract, Kloby relied, it is urged, on the same sales projections which Perma had supplied under the June contract. Kloby's failure to evaluate potential sales independently can, however, be interpreted as an endorsement of Perma's sales projections.
In any case, these figures were accorded sufficient weight by the defendant to form a basis upon which Singer decided to take over marketing of the device. Similarly, the Hill Report to Kloby, discussed supra at pp. 895, cited by the defendant to show the lack of interest in the device among major automobile manufacturers, also noted a large potential for sales of the device in the aftermarket. At the same time that it relies on this report to substantiate the bleak prospects for the device in the OEM, the defendant challenges the foundation for the report, rendered at its own request, in an attempt to diminish the impact of the report's enthusiastic evaluation of the device's sales potential in the aftermarket.
In view of the fact that this report is dated December 14, 1964, only a week before the defendant entered the December 21, 1964 contract in which Singer undertook marketing responsibility for the device, it is a fair conclusion that the aftermarket sales projections were perceived by the defendant as justifying the undertaking despite the limited sales potential in the OEM.
In Autowest, Inc. v. Peugot, Inc., 434 F.2d 556 (2d Cir. 1970), the evidence admitted on damages for the defendant's wrongful termination of an automobile distribution franchise consisted of sales projections prepared by plaintiff's witnesses, both of whom had had years of experience in the industry. The figures were "the product of deliberation by experienced businessmen charting their future course." 434 F.2d at 566. The fact that the projections were prepared by defendant's employees in deciding whether or not to proceed with a course of business was found to increase their reliability since they were not "mere 'interested guess[es]' prepared with an eye on litigation." 434 F.2d at 566.
These same indicia of reliability are present in the figures prepared by Kloby based upon which Singer entered the December 21, 1964 contract. Kloby, experienced in market evaluation and surveys, compiled a report at Mr. Morris' request evaluating the proposal that Singer take over marketing responsibility for the device. The defendant relied upon this report in deciding to enter the December contract. Clearly these projections, prepared by the defendant's market expert, were not put together with an eye to litigation. The argument that the figures merely parrot the reports of Perma to the Elizabeth staff has been dealt with above. If Singer's experts judged them sufficiently reliable to justify entering a contract without further market analyses, then I have no reason to challenge their accuracy.
For the reasons recited, I find that the so-called Kloby figures, which projected sales for the first five years of the ten year contract, provide the best basis on which to compute damages. According to these figures 150,000 units were to be sold in the first two years that the device was marketed with 200,000 units being sold in each of the next five years. These figures are variously substantiated by: (1) Kloby's report to Morris on the feasibility of taking over marketing of the device, which report Morris forwarded to Mr. Murphy in Singer's New York office, who, in turn, reported to his superior Mr. Hough; (2) Hough's December 11, 1964 memorandum to his superior, Mr. Kircher, recommending favorable action on the marketing proposal; (3) a December 21, 1964 internal Singer memorandum from Mr. Torello to Mr. Marsden; and (4) a January 18, 1965 distribution contract between Singer and Monitor Enterprises, Inc. It is eminently rational to project that the 200,000 units per year level which Singer expected to attain after the first two years would at least have been maintained for the second five years of the ten year contract.
Alternative bases for the computation of damages have been offered by the parties and are rejected. The higher figure of 250,000 units for the first two years, which is suggested by the plaintiff, is derived from (1) March 13, 1964 minutes of a Singer meeting on the feasibility of entering the June contract for manufacture of the device and (2) the June 18, 1964 contract itself. The figures relied on by Singer in entering the manufacturing contract were out of date by the time of the December contract and cannot bind the defendant.
Nor will I base damages on the number of units (approximately 139,000) which Perma had contracted to sell to distributors prior to the December contract. The defendant disputes the reliability of these contracts on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to prove the size, financial position, and market experience of the various distributors. Plaintiff meets this argument with the observation that in 1965 Patten and Kloby undertook negotiations with several of the distributors in order to induce them to relinquish their contract rights so that Monitor Enterprises, Inc. (one of the distributors) could become the exclusive distributor for the device in the United States. In any case, at the time it entered the December contract Singer was aware of these agreements and necessarily considered them as a factor in formulating the sales projections on which I have determined to base the damages.
The defendant's suggested lower figures of 100,000 units for the first two years and none thereafter is equally unpersuasive. The 100,000 figure is derived from the Hill Report* of December 14, 1964 which predated several of the documents listed above which demonstrate that Singer entered the December contract with the higher figures in mind. Similarly, limiting damages to two years ending in the fall of 1968 when the Kelsey-Hayes device became available is unacceptable since according to the defendant's own proposed findings of fact the Kelsey-Hayes device was never promoted in the aftermarket and would, therefore, have posed no threat to the Perma device which was to have been sold predominantly in the aftermarket.
The royalties were to be paid, according to the terms of the December 21, 1964 contract, as follows: (1) as to sales in the aftermarket, none on the first 36,700 units, 10% of the factory invoice price for a period of 5 years, and 5% of the factory invoice price for an additional 5 years; (2) as to sales in the OEM, 5% of the factory invoice price for a period of 10 years from the date of the contract; (3) as to royalties received by Singer on the manufacture and use of the device by licensees in the OEM, 25% of such royalties for a period of 10 years from the date of the contract. Since damages on this last basis would be too speculative, no such licensing contracts having been negotiated, damages will be computed solely on the first two provisions for direct sales of the device.
The parties agree that the device was first to have been marketed in 1966, thus damages will be assessed beginning in that year. It is clear from the proof that the projected sales for the first two years were to be made solely in the aftermarket, therefore the 10% royalty is appropriate for that period. As to the remaining years in the first five year portion of the December 1964 contract, it would be equitable to apportion the damages for sales in both the aftermarket and the OEM. There being no adequate proof on which to make such an apportionment, a compromise royalty of 7-1/2% will be applied to sales for those 2 years.
According to Singer's January 18, 1965 contract with Monitor, the factory invoice price was to be $51. Additional factors which should be taken into account are simple interest (New York CPLR § 5001) as fixed by New York CPLR § 5004 and market expansion as reflected in the increased auto registration for each of the relevant years.
The damages will not reflect a factory invoice price adjustment based on inflation. Such an adjustment could only be made after similarly adjusting manufacturing costs upon which there is inadequate proof. Moreover, after all the necessary adjustments were made it is unlikely that the result would be significantly altered.
Computation of Damages Exclusive of Interest to be
Computed by the Parties in the Proposed Judgment
1966 50,000 (units)
x$5.10 (10% of invoice price)
1967 102,600 (units) (including market growth
x$5.10 based on increased reg-
1968 210,907 (units)
x $3.83 (7-1/2% of invoice price)
1969 218,921 (units)
1970 226,583 (units)
x$2.55 (5% of invoice price)
1971 232,248 (units)
1972 243,164 (units)
193 251,675 (units) (based on projected mar-
x$2.55 ket increase derived from
$641,771.25 the average market in-
crease from 1966-1972)
1974 260,484 (units) (based on projected mar-
x$2.55 ket increase)
Judgment will enter for the plaintiff in accordance with this opinion along with interest to be calculated at the legal rate on a monthly basis from the date of the incurrence of the damages awarded. The defendant is to bear the entire costs.
Settle judgment on notice.
Kevin Thomas Duffy / U.S.D.J.
[SEE APPENDIX "A" IN ORIGINAL]
ACCELERATION RESPONSIVE DEVICES FOR ANTI-SKID UNITS
Frank A. Perrino, North Attleboro, Mass., assignor, by mesne assignments, to The Singer Company, New York, N.Y., a corporation of New Jersey
Original application Nov. 2, 1964, Ser. No. 409,350, now Patent No. 3,325,226, dated June 13, 1967. Divided and this application Aug. 5, 1966, Ser. No. 581,676 Int. Cl. B60t 8/24
U.S. Cl. 303 - 21 4 Claims
ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE
An apti-skid brake system in which a sensing means for sensing when a skid condition begins is caused to activate a wheel speed-sensitive device that takes over control of the brake pressure until the skid condition ends. The sensing means is an inertia-responsive means that senses a sudden change in the speed of rotation of a wheel at the commencement of skid conditions. The control of the brake pressure is taken over completely by a mechanical governor driven dependently with the wheel. The governor then controls the brake pressure in a hunting or modulating manner, for an extended period, until such control of the brakes is ended by a reset means that responds to slowing of the vehicle to a predetermined speed. Preferably, the reset means is a brake-pressuresensitive device which senses reduction of brake pressure to a predetermined level which the governor can produce only when it slows to the predetermined speed.
This is a division of application Ser. No. 409,350, filed on Nov. 2, 1964, and entitled Braking System and Anti-skid Means Therefor, now U.S. Patent No. 3,325,226.
The present invention relates generally to braking systems for automotive vehicles and the like and is particularly concerned with the provision of novel and improved anti-skid means.
It is well known that a skid condition may be encountered by a moving vehicle where the brakes of the vehicle are applied so hard that the vehicle wheels tend to lock. Quite obviously, other factors affect the commencement and existence of a skid condition, such as the condition of the surface on which the vehicle is moving, the speed at which the vehicle is traveling, etc. However, it is possible for a vehicle to commence a skid even where the surface on which the vehicle is traveling is not wet or icy and even where the vehicle is traveling at moderate speeds, if the vehicle brakes are applied too hard. Since all control of a vehicle is lost while the vehicle is in a skid, thus increasing the danger of serious accident and personal injury, it is obviously highly desirable to prevent or reduce skidding while at the same time enabling the vehicle to come to a complete stop as quickly as possible.
It is therefore a primary object of the present invention to provide an improved braking system wherein operation of the brakes is under control of the vehicle operator until a skid condition commences to exist, at which time anti-skid means automatically take over complete control of the brakes and maintain said control until danger of skidding no longer exists, whereupon the brakes are returned to normal control by the operator.
Another object of my invention is the provision of efficient and sensitive control means for the various operations of the system, which have usefulness in other types of systems as well.
Another object of my invention is the provision of novel and improved anti-skid means equally adaptable to so-called power brakes, as well as nonpower brakes.
A further object of my invention is the provision of anti-skid means of the character described wherein the vacuum system of the vehicle is utilized, but wherein the loss of vacuum in no way interferes with control of the vehicle brakes by the operator.
A further object of my invention is the provision of anti-skid means that is readily and easily adaptable to existing vehicles.
Another object is the provision of a novel and improved reverse cut-off switch that automatically renders the anti-skid means inoperative when the vehicle moves in reverse.
Still another object of my invention is the provision of an anti-skid system for automotive vehicles and the like having means which are durable and effective in operation and which are feasible and practical both from an economic and manufacturing standpoint.
Other objects, features and advantages of my invention will become apparent as the description thereof proceeds when considered in connection with the accompanying illustrative drawings.
In the drawings which illustrate the best mode presently contemplated for carrying out the present invention:
FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic view, in perspective, of the assembly utilized in my nonpower unit, with portions being broken away for purposes of illustration;
FIG. 2 is an elevational view, in section, of a portion of the overall assembly illustrated in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional elevation of a portion of the brake-actuating means illustrated in FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional elevation illustrating certain details of the anti-skid unit and the drive means therefor;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged sectional elevation of the cam gear and solenoid-actuating switch which form a part of the anti-skid unit;
FIG. 5A is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the cam gear;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged section taken on line 6 - 6 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic view, in perspective, of my anti-skid means in combination with a power brake unit, portions being broken away for purposes of illustration;
FIG. 8 is an elevational view, in section, of the power brake assembly illustrated in FIG. 7;
FIG. 9 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional elevation illustrating certain details of the anti-skid means and the reverse cut-off switch in combination therewith;
FIG. 10 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional elevation of the reverse cut-off switch per se;
FIG. 11 is a fragmentary section taken on line 11 - 11 of FIG. 9; and
FIG. 12 is an enlarged exploded perspective view of the reverse cut-off switch per se.
According to one aspect of my invention, a sensing means for sensing when a skid condition begins is caused to activate a wheel speed-sensitive device that takes over control of the brake pressure until the skid condition ends. Advantageously, the sensing means is an inertia-responsive means that senses a sudden change in the speed of rotation of a wheel at the commencement of skid conditions. This inertia-responsive device does not control the brake pressure itself by repeated action during the skid condition, as has been attempted by the prior art. Instead the control of the brake pressure is taken over completely by a governor driven dependently with the wheel, advantageously a mechanical governor. The governor then control, the brake presure in a hunting or modulating manner, for an extended period, until such control of the brakes is ended by a reset means that responds to slowing of the vehicle to a predetermined speed. Preferably, the reset means is a brake-pressure-sensitive device which senses reduction of brake pressure to a predetermined level which the governor can produce only when it slows to the predetermined speed.
This separation of the initiating and controlling functions is an extremely important feature. The initiating device must necessarily have a restraint to prevent operation when the vehicle merely decelerates normally. I have realized that such a restraint prevents the device from being able to effectively regulate the brake pressure due to lack of sensitivity. The governor, after it takes over control, is free of such restraint and therefore can have much greater sensitivity with the result that the brake pressure can be much more accurately regulated.
The reset device is also of critical importance because at low speeds, e.g. below 10 m.p.h., the governor forces can become so diminished that the governor can behave entirely as if the vehicle were skidding, though not, thereby totally relieving the brake pressure. The reset device can act before this occurs, whereby normal control is regained.
A further aspect of my invention concerns therealization that a predetermined level of brake pressure, e.g. the minimum brake pressure at which skidding of the vehicle will occur on ice, generally between 100-150 p.s.i. for conventional automobiles, can be utilized to determine the setting for the brake pressure-sensitive reset device. Thereby, only at the time when skidding is no longer possible will control be taken away from the anti-skid unit to return the brake system to normal operation. This pressure-sensitive device, particularly when taking the form of a brake fluid pressure-sensitive switch, is useful with anti-skid systems generally, though of particular usefulness in the system described above.
Advantageously, the brake pressure-sensitive switch operates an electrical system, preferably a solenoid, to restore normal brake operation, and it can be employed to bring the anti-skid unit into readiness whenever the operator applies his brakes, as well as to stop the anti-skid unit from acting when skid conditions have ended.
Another aspect of the invention concerns the control of the governor. In normal operation of the brakes, the governor is prevented from influencing the brakes, but once activated, e.g. by the inertia-sensitive device, it is made continually to act, even when the vehicle wheel speeds up after the brakes have been initially relieved. A controlling or restraining member, preferably a solenoid, is employed to achieve this operation, with the controlling member held steadily from interfering with the governor until the reset device operates. In the case where a rotary weight mechanical governor is employed, a plunger can normally restrain the governor and a solenoid, initially under the control of the inertia-responsive device, can pull back the plunger to free the governor, whereupon the plunger can operate a switch to maintain the solenoid energized, and at the end of skid conditions the reset device can de-energize the solenoid to once again restrain the governor.
Another aspect of the invention is a fluid valving system that responds to the governor to increase and decrease brake pressure. Advantageously, the valve, discharging to a brake control conduit, is moved by the governor alternately between two positions to connect two passages for fluid at different pressures to the conduit. This causes the brake pressure to rapidly vary in a modulating or hunting manner, to keep the brake pressure at maximum values while preventing skidding. The mean about which the pressure modulates changes as the slipperiness of the road changes, due to the effect such road changes have upon the governor.
For use in a closed-circuit hydraulic system, the direct control of the brakes is achieved, according to the invention, by an isolation valve that continually seals the wheel brake from the control of the operator, and a relieving and reapplying brake pressure to the wheel, the piston modulating about a mean determined by the modulating pressure conditions of the brake control conduit. Advantageously, the piston, at the position where it allows full pressure, can operate the isolation valve. Then the piston being spring loaded to that position can also perform a pressure-limiting function, limiting brake pressure to e.g. 1,000 p.s.i., though the operator is capable of applying twice that much. In normal operation the brakes function as well at 1,000 p.s.i. as above, and by so limiting the brake pressure, less pressure is present to be relieved when a skid occurs, which enables faster action and allows the relief chamber to be smaller.
In other brake systems the brake control conduit can control a power unit, or in the case of air brakes, it can directly control the brake actuators associated with the wheels.
Furthermore, according to the invention, I have provided advantageous and improved constructions of the various operating components and sub-systems which can best be described with reference to the drawings.
Referring now to the drawings, and more particularly to FIGS. 1-6 thereof, a closed hydraulic circuit braking system employing my novel and improved anti-skid means in combination with a so-called nonpower brake will be described. The over-all system, generally designated as 10, comprises brake pedal 12, master cylinder 14, brake-relieving device 16, hydraulic pressure switch 18, relief actuator means 20, conduit valve means 22, skid-sensing and control means 24, and anti-skid unit drive means 26.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the brake pedal 12 is of conventional construction and comprises bell crank 28 pivotally connected to a suitable support on the vehicle (not shown) at 30 whereupon depression of pedal 12 causes bell crank 28 to rotate in a counterclockwise direction around pivot point 30, thus actuating connecting rod 32 pivotally connected to bell crank 28. as at 34. Rod 32 carries at its other extremity a piston 36 which functions to pump oil or other suitable fluid from master cylinder 14, all in a well-known manner. Specifically, master cylinder 14 has an upper reservoir 38 which communicates with lower chamber 40 by means of opening 42 whereupon a full supply of oil is always present in the chamber 40 to be pumped by actuation of pedal 12 and piston 36.
Fluid pumped from master cylinder 14 passes through a conduit 44 connected at one of its extremities by suitable couplings 46, 48 to chamber 40 of master cylinder 14 and at its other extremity by a suitable coupling 50 to the brake-relieving device generally designated at 16, which incorporates an isolation valve. More specifically, coupling 50 is connected to a second coupling 52 which is threadedly attached to block 54, said block having a bore 56 extending longitudinally therethrough into communication with aligned longitudinally extending bores 58 and 60 in touplings 52 and 50, respectively.
As will be seen most clearly in FIGS. 2 and 3, coupling 52 is provided with an internal shoulder for receiving positioning spring 62 which positions isolation valve ball 64 adjacent valve seat 66, tending to close with slight force the bore or passageway 56. During normal operation of the vehicle, ball 64 is maintained in its unseated position, as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, against the action of spring 62, by means of spring-loaded actuator piston 68 having a reduced extension 70 in engagement with ball 64. Suitable O-rings or the like 72 are provided to insure a tight sliding fit between piston 68 and bore 56 whereby said piston effectively blocks further flow of fluid through bore 56.
Block 54 is provided with a pair of oppositely disposed passageways 74 and 76, it being noted that said passageways communicate with bore 56 just behind valve sent 66, whereupon when ball 64 is in its closed position in engagement with valve seat 66, fluid in conduit 44 from passageway 74 and 76. Passageway 74 communicates with hydraulic pressure reset switch 18 for reasons hereinafter to be described, while passageway 76 communicates by means of suitable couplings with conduit 78, which in turn communicates with the hydraulic brake lines 30 leading to the wheel hydraulic actuator cylinders (not shown) of the vehicle to actuatc the brakes in well-known fashion. Thus it will be seen that with the parts in the positions illustrated in FIGS, 2 and 3, and particularly with piston 68 in the position illustrated, brake pedal 12 controls actuation of the vehicle brakes through a direct line. This is the normal operating condition of the vehicle.
The actuator for the relieving device 16, generally designated at 20 (FIGS. 1, 2) controls the movement of piston 68 and hence ball 64. This actuator comprises a housing or cylinder 82 having a large piston 84 slidably mounted therein, said piston having suitable seals 86 at its outer periphery to insure that the piston 84 will make a tight sliding fit within cylinder 82 whereby no leakage will exit around the piston. Piston 84 is threadedly connected, as at 88, to the aforementioned small hydraulic piston 68, whereupon movement of large piston 84 causes corresponding movement of piston 68. Housing 82 is secured to block 54 by any suitable means, such as screws 90, and the adjacent end wall92 of the housing 82 is in free communication with atmosphere, as by ports 94. Suitable air filters, such as shown at 95 in FIG. 1, may be associated with the parts 94. It will thus be seen that the chamber 96 located on one side of large piston 84 is always at atmospheric pressure, while chamber 98, located on the opposite side of piston 84, may either be at atmospheric pressure or it may be yacuum charged, as will hereinafter be described in more detail. When the chambers 96 and 98 are both at atmospheric pressure, spring 100 resiliently urges pistons 84 to the position illustrated in FIG. 2, it being seen that the piston 84 has moved to the right as far as it can go. In this position, the piston 68 has also been axially moved to the position illustrated, in which position extension 70 (FIG. 3) has engaged ball 64 to unseat it from valve seat 66. Thus, where chambers 98 and 98 are both at atmospheric pressure, the vebicle brakes are under the complete control of the brake pedal 12. However, when chamber 98 is vacuum charged, the pressure differential between chambers 96 and 98 is sufficient to overcome spring 100, whereupon piston 84 will move to the left, viewing FIG. 2, thus causing corresponding movement to the left of piston 68. This in turn enables ball 64 to seat against valve seat 66, by means of spring 62, thus blocking the bore 56 and preventing actuation of the brakes by means of brake pedal 12. As pistons 84 and 68 move further to the left due to the presence of a vacuum or even a partial vacuum in chamber 98, hydraulic pressure in lines 78 and 80 and in the spring-loaded brake actuators associated with the vehicle wheels will be relieved, due to the fact that the fiuid is now free to back up into that portion of bore 56 that has been vacated by movement of piston 68 to the left. It will therefore be seen that by introducing a vacuum or partial vacuum to chamber 98, fiuid pressure in lines 78 and 80 will automatically be relieved, thereby relieving the brakes. By the same token, as soon as atmosphere is again introduced to chamber 98 to equalize the pressure in chamber 96, the brakes can once again be fully actuated by the pedal 12. It will be apparent that the amount of vacuum introduced to chamber 98 will determine the amount of reduction in brake pressure. More specifically, the greater the vacuum that is introduced to chamber 98, the greater will be the movement of piston 84 to the left (viewing FIG. 2) and at the same time there will be greanter movement of piston 68 to the left, thus vacating more of bore 56 and providing grenter relief of the hydraulic brake pressure. Similarly, given a certain amount of relief due to a certain amount of vacuum, then decrease in the amount of vacuum will increase the hydraulic [*] to the right. The ability of my system to provide varying degrees of relief and restoration of brake pressure while the brake pedal remains isolated from the system is an important and advantageous feature.
It will be noted that during normal operation of the system, as heretofore described, i.e., where atmospheric pressure exists in both chambers 96 and 98, the piston 68 will function as a pressure limiter in the system. More specifically, since the piston 68 is resiliently heid in the position illustrated in FIG. 2 by means of spring 100, it will back off when excess pressure is applied by foot pedal 12. In practice it has been found that in a conventional automobile pressure above 1,000 p.s.i. or at least above 1,500 p.s.i., depending on the type of vehicle, is unneeded for normal brake operation and hence spring 62 and 100 are preferably calibrated so as to enable ball 64 to seat when pressure in excess of that needed is introduced, thus preventing introduction of excessive pressure to the brakes. It will be obvious that the springs may be calibrated so as to provide a limit at any selected pressure.
The means for introducing either atmospheric pressure or vacuum to chamber 98 and for modulating the degree of vacuum therein will now be described. Referring to FIG. 2, it will be seen that cylinder housing 82 is provided with an opening 102 in communication with chamber 98, which opening communicates with a brake control conduit 104 that in turn connects with the conduit valve, generally designated at 22. More specifically, there is provided a housing 106 having an upper portion 108 which houses the skid-sensing and control means 24, and a lower portion 110 which houses the valve 22. The lower housing 110 comprises an inner chamber 112 having a partition 114 defining a vacuum passage 116 and an atmosphere passage 118. More specifically, vacuum passage 116 is in communication, by means of passage 119, with the intake manifeld 128 of the vehicle. Thus, suction is constantly being applied to the passage 116. The passage 118, on the other hand, is in communication with atmosphere through port 122, to which a suitable air filter 124 may be attached, of desired. A rotary valve 126 is mounted for retation in housing 106, it being noted that valve 126 is an elongated rod that extends vertically through upper partition 128, the aforesaid partition 114, and is journaled in bottom wall 130, the partition and wall being integral parts of a unique molded housing of anti-friction plasic. The valve 126 is provided with a pair of passageways or bores 132 and 134 extending diametrically therethrough, said bores being vertically spaced from each other, and having elongated cross-sections in the axial direction, longer than the diameter of the rod. Bore 132 is associated with passage 116 and bore 134 with passage 118. The bores are angularly disposed with respect to each other, as shown most clearly in FIG. 6. Thus, with the rotary valve 126 in the position illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 6, bore 134 is positioned so as to allow free passage of atmosphere from passages 122 and 118, bore 134 and chamber 112 to brake control conduit 104, whereby atmosphere will flow into chamber 98. At the same time, due to the angular displacement of bore 132, passage 116 will be closed by valve 126, thus preventing suction from manifold 120 and passage 119 from coming into contact with chamber 112 and brake control conduit 104. It will be understood that the only access from passage 116 and 118 to chamber 112 is through valve 126 and more specifically, the bores 132, 134 thereof. Should valve 126 be rotated by means hereinafter to be described, it will be seen that communication between passage 118 and chamber 112 will eventually be blocked, thus interrupting the flow of atmosphere to brake control conduit 104, while at the same time passage 116 will be in communication with chamber 112, whereupon a suction will be applied through brake control conduit 104 to cham[*]
It is important to note that use of a rotary valve such as valve 126 is extremely advantageous where passage of a vacuum and atmospheric pressure, or more generally two different pressures, is being controlled due to the fact that the pressure differential offers a minimum of resistance to the turning movement of the small diameter valve. This is contrasted to a reciprocal or poppet type valve wherein movement of the valve is much more resisted by pressure differential.
As hereinbefore explained and described, introduction of a vacuum or partial vacuum to chamber 98 automatically tends to release brake pressure on the vehicle wheels. It has been found in practice that an angular displacement between bores 132 and 134 of approximately 37.5 gives best results in the operation of my system, and it will be understood that rotary valve 126 may not always be positioned so as to completely open or close the bores 132 and 134. Thus, different degrees of movement of valve 126 allow different brake fluid pressures to be exerted on the vehicle wheels, thus providing the proper braking pressures for different road conditions. In instances where the pressure on the brake actuator is the same at the beginning of a skid, (lesser initial pressure requires less relieving), the amount of relief of the brake pressure depends on the amount of travel of piston 84 to the left in chamber 98 which in turn isdependent on the amount of vacuum introduced to the chamber. Thus, where the vehicle is braked and skids on a dry surface which requires a greater brake pressure to create a skid condition, lesser movement of piston 84 to the left, and hence less vacuum, will be required to relieve the brake pressure sufficiently to prevent the vehicle wheels from locking, this pressure being referred to as "release" pressure. Conversely, where the vehicle is braked on a slippery surface such as ice, a lesser brake pressure is required to create a skid condition. Hence the valve 126 must open suction passage 116 to the brake control conduit 104 for a longer initial period to provide greater vacuum to chamber 98 in order to move piston 84 sufficiently to the left so that sufficient relief of the brake pressure will be effected to prevent the wheels from locking.
In accordance with the invention after release pressure is attained, with corresponding movement of the piston then the governor causes the degree of vacuum in conduit 104 to modulate, which modulates the brake pressure through a narrow range of intermediate pressures above and below the release pressure, without ever restoring the normal, higher brake pressure until the skid condition ends.
To thus operate the valve, the upper extremity of valve 126 (FIG. 2) is provided with a reduced portion 136 that extends upwardly through partition 128, said portion 136 having a pin 138 extending therethrough to which is attached a circular projection 140, it being seen that as a longitudinal thrust is exerted against projection 140, the valve 126 will be caused to rotate.
The means for controlling movement of valve 126, namely, the skid-sensing and governor control means and the drive means therefor, will now be described. Referring to FIG. 4, skid-sensing and govenor control means is designated generally at 24, and the drive means therefor is designated generally at 26. Referring first to the latter, the vehicle drive shaft is shown at 142, it being understood that the drive shaft is directly connected to the wheels of the vehicle (not shown) whereupon when the vehicle wheels lock, the drive shaft also locks. The drive shaft drivingly engages speedometer gear 144, which in turn is fived to shaft 146, which in turn is drivingly connected to shaft 148 by means of a coupling shown at 150, said shaft 148 connecting with speedometer cable 152. Gear box 154 through which shaft 148 pages and in which the shaft 148 is suitably journaled, houses drivingly engaged bevel gears 156, 158, it being under$ gear 158 is keyed to shaft 160, whereupon rotation of shaft 148, transmitted thereto by the vehicle drive shaft 142, is transmitted to shaft 160. Shaft 160, in turn, is drivingly interconnected, as at 162, to flexible shaft 164, said flexible shaft being connected, as at 166, to the unit 24, and said flexible shaft being drivingly interconnected with a shaft 168 which has fixed thereto a drive gear 170. It will therefore be seen that the gear 170 is drivingly interconnected with the vehicle drive shaft 142, which in turn is connected to the vehicle wheels. Thus, rotation of the vehicle wheels will cause corresponding rotation of gear 170, and, conversely, sudden slowing of the vehicle wheels, such as would occur where the vehicle approaches a skid condition by the operator applying more brake pressure than is required for a particular road surface, will cause not only the main drive shaft 142 to suddenly slow, but also drive gear 170. Gear box 154, and adaptor 172, by means of which the gear box is connected to the engine housing 174, comprise an assembly which may be easily and readily adapted to a conventional vehicle for driving the sensing and governor control means now to be described.
The unit 24 (FIGS. 1, 4) comprises a molded plastic housing 176 having a pair of spaced partitions 178, 180 therein defining chambers 182, 184 and 186. A solenoid 188 is secured to housing 176 adjacent chamber 182 by any suitable means, the solenoid 188 having a plunger 190 with a reduced extension 192 resiliently urged into chamber 182 by means of spring 194. When solenoid 188 is not energized, spring 194 bears against flange 196 affixed to plunger 190 to resiliently urge extension 192 into chamber 182. Suitable stop means 198 mounted on the interior of chamber 182 engage flange 196 to limit resilient axial movement of plunger 190 and extension 192 at a predetermined point, for reasons hereinafter to be explained more fully. Journaled in the partitions 178 and 180 is a pair of aligned shafts 200 and 202, respectively. Shaft 202 is provided with an enlarged portion 204 having an internal bore for slidably receiving in telescoping relation a reduced extension 206 of shaft 200. Attached to shafts 200 and 202 is a governor assembly comprising a plurality of weights 208, each pivotally connected to a pair of links 210, which links in turn are pivotally connected to arms 212. The arms 212 located on one side of the weights 208 are affixed to shaft 200 as at 214, while the arms on the other side of the weights are affixed to shaft 202 as at 216. As hereinbefore pointed out, shaft 202 is journaled for rotation in partition 180 but is incapable of longitudinal movement. Shaft 200, on the other hand, is drivingly engaged with shaft 202 so as to rotate therewith, but said shaft 200 is axially slidable with respect to the said shaft 202. Since the governor assembly is affixed on one side to shaft 202 and on the other side to shaft 200, it will be seen that the speed of rotation of the shafts will determine their longitudinal position relative to each other. Spring 218 resiliently urges the governor assembly to its collapsed position wherein shafts 200 and 202 are axially extended with respect to each other, but as the rotational speed of shafts 200 and 202 increases, centrifugal force urges the weights 208 outwardly, thus moving shaft 200 toward the right, viewing FIG. 4, against the action of spring 218.
Fixed to shaft 200 at the extremity thereof located in chamber 182 is a spool member 220, which spool member is in engagement with projection 140 carried by the reduced upper extension 136 of rotary valve 126. Thus, axial movement of shaft 200 causes like movement of the spool 220 which in turn carries therewith projection 140 captured between the opposed walls of the spool to thereby by impart retary movement to valve 126.
The means for imparting rotational movement to shafts 200 and 202 and the governor assembly associated therewith comprises a cam gear 222 (FIGS. 4, 5 and 5A), which cam gear is part of the drive train, in driven en[*] on shaft 202 and is located in chamber 186. The cam gear is slidably mounted on shaft 202 and is in driving engagement therewith by means now to be described. A recess 224 having inclined or helical surface 226 is provided at the end of the cam gear adjacent partition 180, and a projection or pin 228, carried by shaft 202, extends into said recess in engagement with the cam surface 226. At either end of the recess is a stop surface, at the deeper end stop surface 227, adapted to engage pin 228 for accelerating the governor and at the shallower end stop surface 225 for engaging pin 220 to decelerate the governor. A leaf spring 230 mounted to the housing 176 by any suitable means engages a button 232 which is press fitted into the central bore of cam gear 222 to normally urge the latter exially toward partition 180, holding pin 228 against accelerating stop surface 227. However, when rotation of drive gear 170 and cam gear 222 is suddenly slowed, as by sudden slowing of the vehicle wheels upon the presence of a skid condition, the rotational inertia of shaft 202, especially due to the governor weights 208, causes shaft 202 to turn ahead of gear 222, causing pin 228 to leave stop surface 227 and move to stop surface 225. This slides gear 222 on shaft 202 in a direction away from partition 180 to activate governor control.
It is important to note that solenoid spring 194 is stronger than governor spring 218, whereupon when solenoid 188 is not energized, plunger extension 192 bears against spool 220 to restrain samein the position illustrated in FIG. 4 wherein the rotary valve 126 is in the position illestrated in FIG. 2, namely, the position where atmosphere is free to pass through the valve to conduit 104 and then to chamber 98 and wherein at the same time suction from the intake manifold is blocked from communication with conduit 104. This is the normal operating condition of the system wherein the balanced pressure on opposite sides of actuator piston 84 enables spring 100 to position piston 84 and piston 68 as illustrated in FIG. 2. In this position, ball valve 64 is unseated to allow fluid pressure to pass directly to the brake line whereupon operation of the brakes is under direct control of brake pedal 12. This condition win remain so long as solenoid 188 (FIG. 4) is not energized. Energization of solenoid 188 is accomplished in the following manner. As previously explained, sudden slowing of gear 170 due to sudden slowing of the vehicle wheels as a result of a skid condition causes cam gear 222 (FIGS. 4, 5, 5A) to move axially on shaft 202 away from partition 180 against the action of spring 230. This movement is sufficient to cause actuation of a switch 234 suitably mounted in chamber 136. At the same time, the initial movement of the brake pedal and the resultant increase in fluid pressure in the system, causes hydraulic switch 18 (FIG. 2) to become closed. Hydraulic switch 18 is fully disclosed and described in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 203,075, filed June 18, 1962. Basically, switch 18 comprises piston 236 which has connected thereto at its upper and a metallic contact cup 238. Cup 238 is adapted to bridge contacts 240 and 242 but is normally maintained spaced therefrom by spring 244. An adjusting screw 246 is provided by means of which the tension of spring 244 may be varied, thus enabling the switch 18 to be preadjusted whereby a predetermined fluid pressure, e.g. 120-125 p.s.i., will cause piston 236 to move against the action of spring 244 sufficiently to bridge the contacts 240, 242. Actuation of switch 18 in the aforedescribed manner enables current to flow from battery 248 through contact 242, contact cup 238, and contact 240 to line 250 to the solenoid coil positive terminal 252 (FIG. 4). The voltage is applied through the solenoid coil 254 and then through line 256 to terminal 258 on switch 234. When switch 234 is open, the circuit to ground is not complete, and sloenoid 188 will not be energized. However, upon actuation of switch 234 in the manner aforedescribed, the circuit to ground is completed [*] [*] that although it is essential for hydraulic pressure switch 18 to be closed in order for solenoid 188 to be energized, closing of switch 18 alone is not sufficient, but rather switch 234 must also be actuated in order to complete the circuit. This is important because under normal operating conditions of the system sufficient pressure will normally be introduced to switch 18 by the foot pedal to actuate same, but it is essential that solenoid 188 not be energized under such normal conditions.
Energization of solenoid 188 accomplished by rightward movement of the cam gear (FIG. 5) closing switch 234, causes plunger 190, 192 to be retracted against the action of spring 194, thus freeing the shaft 200 and spool 220 for axial movement under the influence of the governor assembly. Therefore, the cam gear operating in response to the inertia of the governor and the solenoid operated plunger together can be regarded as an inertia-responsive means for initiating the action of the governor.
As soon as the solenoid plunger has been retracted, due to the sudden slowing at the commencement of a skid condition, the governor assembly takes over control and, as it is stopped by stop surface 225 of the cam gear, spring 218 will cause the governor assembly to commence to collapse, thus moving shaft 200 and spool 220 axially to the left, when viewing FIG. 4. This movement of spool 220 causes corresponding rotary movement of valve 126, thus shutting off the passage of atmosphere to brake control conduit 104 and simultaneously effecting communication between vacuum passage 119 and conduit 104. This results in suction being introduced to chamber 98 which in turn overcomes the action of spring 100 to cause pistons 84 and 68 to move to the left, viewing FIG. 2. This movement of piston 68 enables ball valve 64 to close due to the action of spring 62, thus preventing the introduction of further fluid pressure to the system via brake pedal 12. Further leftward movement of piston 68 enables the fluid in lines 78 and 80 to back up, thereby relieving the pressure until the vehicle brakes begin turning, the duration that the suction is applied, and hence the degree of vacuum and the amount of pressure relief depending on the slipperiness of the road. As soon as the brake release pressure is achieved, the vehicle wheels commence to rotate, whereby drive shaft 142 through the aforedescribed gearing once again causes gears 170 and 222 to rotate, it being apparent that this renewed rotation of shafts 200 and 202 will cause the governor assembly to once again turn, and due to the centrifugal force created, to retract shaft 200 and spool 220 to once again rotate valve 126 to the positions illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 4, where once again atmosphere is connected to chamber 98, thus enabling brake pressure to be restored.
But, it is very important for my present invention that the solenoid is not de-energized and the governor returned to the restraint of the inertia-responsive device. Rather, the governor remains free to act. It leaves the valve 126 open to atmosphere 118 for an instant until the degree of vacuum is lessened enough to cause slight rightward movement of the piston 84 to cause the brake pressure to slightly exceed release pressure and a skid again commences. Again the governor is slowed by the drive train and again it opens the valve 126 to suction 116, and this cycle repeats again and again in an extremely rapid hunting or modulating action with the gas pressure in the conduit 104 never reaching either amtospheric or engine vacuum level, but rather modulates at intermediate levels. In dependent fashion, the hydraulic brake pressure modulates narrowly about the release pressure as a mean, without returning to normal pressure. When the skid condition ends, the governor opers the valve continually to atmosphere and pistons 84 and 86 move fully to the right to once again unseat isolation valve 64 and return normal brake operation. The faster the vehicle travels, the faster does this action occur, but the action is sufficiently fast down to speeds on the order of 10 m.p.h. and even lower, to moidly pump and release the brakes. It is another very important aspect of the invention that the governor relinquishes control of the brake pressure before the vehicle stops.
In order to effectively carry out this modulating action. I have found it to be critical, in the preferred construction, that the solenoid 188 remain energized or that the plunger in some other way remains retracted until the vehicle slows to a predetermined slow speed, e.g. 5 or 10 m.p.h., depending on the vehicle. Since closing of switch 234 to complete the circuit to ground that energizes solenoid 188 is only momentary, holding means are provided for maintaining the solenoid energized until hydraulic pressure switch 18 opens, it being understood that switch 18 is preset to open only when fluid pressure in the system falls below the minimum value possible to achieve a skid condition, e.g. set 85-90 p.s.i. produced by the governor at 5 or 10 m.p.h.
The aforesaid holding means for the solenoid comprise a terminal 266 having a connection to ground as at 268, which terminal is engaged by plunger 190 when the latter is retracted in order to complete the circuit to ground independent of switch 234. Thus, although closing of switches 18 and 234 is essential in order to energize solenoid 188, once the solenoid has been energized and its plunger retracted, switch 234 may be opened without deenergizing the solenoid, and the solenoid will remain energized until switch 18 opens.
Ashereinbefore stated, it will be obvious that if switch 18 were not utilized, then there would be no means present for insuring de-energization of the solenoid once the condition has been reached where a skid is no longer possible, it being obvious that if the solenoid were still energized at such low speeds, the vehicle would be without effective brakes, since the governor assembly would not exert sufficient centrifugal force to overcome the action of spring 213 and move shaft 200 and spool 220 to the rightward position (FIG. 4) wherein valve 126 enables the brakes to be controlled by pedal 12.
It is possible for the reset device to take some other form, such as a pendulum device or a vehicle inertia memory system that can detect the slow speed of the vehicle, but brake pressure-sensitive devices, and perticularly hydraulic-electric switches have important advantages in the system, particularly since they can respond whenever the skid condition has passed, regardless of the speed of the car, to enable normal operation, while offering low speed protection against the governor's cutting off the brakes completely. The adjustment of the pressure level to which the device responds can be adjusted according to the wishes of the operator and the type of road conditions to be expected. But, in fact, a single setting, below that at which skidding on ice occurs, which is determinable for any given vehicle, is advantageously employed to give anti-skid protection under virtually all conditions.
Any tendency for the unit 24 to erroneously sense a skid condition and actuate switch 234 in response to a rapid deceleration is overcome by use of properly calibrated weights 208 and a properly tensioned spring 230. In addition, I have found that an erroneous sensing is most likely to occur where there is a rapid acceleration of the drive shaft quickly followed by a rapid deceleration. The frictional brake or drag that is resiliently exerted on spool 220 by plunger 190 helps to overcome this problem since this action tends to reduce the torque applied to shafts 200 and 202 by the governor assembly. It has been found, however, that at high speeds the frictional engagement between plunger 190 and spool 220 results in undue wear of the parts. Thereof, plunger 190 is assisted by spring 230, and the plunger is disengaged at high speeds. To this end, [*] [*] [*] [*] [*] low speeds in the low gear range with conventional automobiles, and I have, therefore, found that it is not necessary to have plunger 190 exert a frictional drag on spool 220 and shaft 200 at relatively high speeds.
Although the operation of my invention is thought to be clear from the foregoing description, a brief resume of the operation will now be given. Under normal operating conditions, solenoid 188 is de-energized whereby the spring-loaded solenoid plunger maintains the skid-sensing and control unit inoperative. The de-energized solenoid further insures that rotary valve 126 is in the position wherein atmosphere is introduced to chamber 98. Since chamber 96 is also open to atmosphere, it follows that there is a pressure balance on each side of large piston 84 thus enabling spring 100 to take over and move the piston 84 to the position illustrated in FIG. 2. In this position, piston 68, which is connected to piston 84 and moves therewith, engages ball valve 64 so as to unseat same against the action of spring 62. With ball valve 64 so opened, fluid pumped from master cylinder 14 by brake pedal 12 is free to pass directly to hydraulic lines 78 and 80 to actuate the vehicle brakes. The pressure-sensitive switch is adapted to be closed by a low level of brake pressure, e.g. 120-125 p.s.i., placing the anti-skid unit into readiness for operation.
Upon encountering a skid condition, i.e., a condition wherein the vehicle operator applies more brake pressure than is required for a particular road surface, the vehicle wheels slow suddenly. This causes corresponding deceleration of drive shaft 142, and through suitable gearing, drive gear 170 and cam gear 222 also slow abruptly. The inertia of the governor assembly causes the gear 222 to move longitudinally by the cam surface aforedescribed, said longitudinal movement of gear 222 causing switch 234 to be closed which results in energization of solenoid 188 and the retraction of solenoid plunger 190. The second switch or terminal 266 is engaged upon retraction of the solenoid plunger to maintain the solenoid energized until switch 18 opens, even though switch 234 has now opened. Switch 18 is preset, e.g. at 85-90 p.s.i. to be opened at a brake pressure below that at which skids can occur, e.g. 100-150 p.s.i. for ice, whereupon solenoid 188 with remain energized until possibility of skidding no longer exists, and the solenoid is then de-energized to restore normal foot brake action before the governor has a chance ever to totally relieve the brakes.
Regarding the operation of the governor, once the solenoid 188 has been energized, the governor control unit takes over. More specifically, when a skid condition is approached, the sudden slowing of the vehicle wheels causes the governor assembly to collapse under the action of spring 218, thus moving shaft 200 and spool 220 to rotate valve 126, this movement now being permitted due to retraction of plunger 190. Rotation of valve 126 blocks the flow of atmosphere to chamber 98 and simulataneously allows the introduction of a vacuum to said chamber. The introduction of vacuum overcomes spring 100, thus resulting in movement of pistons 84 and 68 to the left, viewing FIG. 2. This movement closes isolation valve 64, thus preventing the application of further fluid pressure by brake pedal 12. As the valve remains in this position, the degree of vacuum increases, causing further leftward movement of piston 68 (FIG. 3), so that pressure in lines 78 and 80 and the brakes are relieved. A point is reached when the brakes are relieved sufficiently to allow the wheels to speed up from their slowed condition, the degree of relief required depending on the degree of slipperiness of the road. Then shafts 200 and 202 speed up once again, whereby the governor assembly retracts shaft 200 and spool 220 to once again rotate valve 126 to the position where atmosphere is introduced to chamber 98 and the piston 68 moves to the right and increases the brake pressure, until a part is reached where the wheels slow again and the cycle repeats. [*] the vehicle is in an incipient skid, thus insuring that maximum brake pressure is continually applied to the wheel brakes short of pressure that would cause locking of the wheels. Once the brake pedal is released or the broke pressure in the system has dropped below the minimum possible value to create a skid, hydraulic pressure switch 18 breaks the circuit to solenoid 188, whereupon the latter becomes de-energized and the brakes once again become under complete control of the operator.
It is important to note that although loss of vacuum in the vehicle system will render the anti-skid means ineffective, said loss of vacuum will in no way affect normal operation of the vehicle brakes. Also, it is important to note that this system can be used with foot pedal controlled brakes of both the powered and nonpowered types.
While a spring-loaded fly ball type of governor has been illustrated, and is presently preferred, the broad concept of the invention include the use of other governors, all rotary weight governors, such as gravity loaded fly ball, centrifugal shaft and inertial shaft governors, as well as governors that operate through electrical action.
The concepts are likewise applicable to other brake systems including air brakes in which valve 126 could directly modulate air brake pressure. Likewise it is possible to separate the governor from the valve, let the governor actuate a switch and let the valve be actuated by a solenoid responsive to the condition of the switch.
While use with engine vacuum is very efficient and inexpensive, and unlike previous systems I have proposed, does not cause the engine to run roughly due to less of vacuum, the invention is applicable to othersources of pressure differential, incompressible fluid as well as gaseous fluid and numerous aspects of the invention are useful with nonfluid types of brake systems.
Referring now to FIGS. 7 and 8, a slightly different form of my invention is disclosed in which the relieving device is incorporated as an integral part of a power brake unit. The system generally comprises a brake pedal 300, a master cylinder 302, an accumulator 304, a safety valve 306, a hydraulic pressure switch 308, a power brake control unit 310, and an anti-skid unit 312.
Actuation of brake pedal 300 operates piston 314 to pump fluid from cylinder 316 to conduit 315. Master cylinder 302 further comprises a fluid reservoir 320 communicating with cylinder 316 by means of passageway 322. A conduit 324 extends from reservoir 320, the function of which will hereinafter be described. Accumulator 304 is in communication with conduit 318 and comprises a spring loaded piston 326 and acts as a cushion and shock absorber for the fluid system where variations in fluid pressure occur.
During normal operation of the vehicle with which the power brake unit is associated, and with the brakes in their non-actuated position, the power brake unit 310 is in the position illustrated in FIG. 8. In this position, chambers 328 and 330 of cylinder 332 are both under vacuum, thereby equalizing the pressure on opposite sides of piston 334. This enables spring 336 to urge the piston 334 to the leftward position illustrated, said piston 334 being connected by means of rod 338 to a brake actuating piston 340. Piston 340 is slidably mounted in cylinder 342, said cylinder having an outlet conduit 344 leading to safety valve 306. Conduit 344 is also in communication with hydraulic pressure switch 308.
A supply of hydraulic fluid is located in cylinder 342 whereupon movement of piston 334 against the action of spring 336, and corresponding movement of piston 340 will force fluid from cylinder 342 under pressure through conduit 344 and with switch 306 in the position illustrated in FIG. 8 to conduit 346 and then to hydraulic lines 348 which lead to the wheel cylinders (not shown) of the vehicle's binding system. Thus it will be seen
As hereinbefore indicated, under normal operating conditions of the vehicle, and with the brakes not applied, pistons 334 and 340 are in the position illustrated in FIG. 8 due to the fact that a vacuum exists in both chambers 328 and 330. More specifically, suction from the intake manifold 360 of the vehicle passes through conduit 352 into chamber 330 and then through passageway 354, through openings 356 in diaphragm 358 to conduit 360, through rotary valve 362 of the anti-skid unit 312, through conduit 364 and then to chamber 328. The control unit generally shown at 366 which forms a part of power brake unit 310 is of conventional form and comprises the aforesaid diaphragm 358, hydraulically movable by means of piston 368 to a closed position wherein the diaphragm engages the fixed seat 370 to block communication between passage 354 and conduit 360. The piston 368 also controls movement of poppet valve 372 normally maintained closed by spring 374. Spring 376 normally urges diaphragm 358 to its open or unseated position, as illustrated in FIG. 8. An atmosphere intake is located at 378, and introduction of atmosphere into the system is controlled by valve 372 in a manner now to be described.
As above indicated, with the parts in the positions illustrated in FIG. 8, the brakes of the vehicle are nonoperative due to the fact that suction is free to circulate through conduit 352 to chamber 330 and then through control unit 366 to conduit 360, through rotary valve 362 to conduit 364 and then to chamber 328. With vacuum on both sides of piston 334, spring 336 maintains the piston 334 and the connected brake actuating piston 340 in brake release position. Upon actuation of brake pedal 300 by the operator, pressurised fluid passes through conduit 318 to conduit 380. With the safety valve 306 in the position illustrated, flow of the fluid into the valve is blocked, and hence the brake fluid is forced to flow through conduit 380 into the brake control unit 366. None of the fluid from the pedal is allowed to reach the brake actuators at 348.
Introduction of the pressurized fluid to the brake control unit 366 causes actuation of piston 368 to move diaphragm 358 to its closed or seated position and to simultaneously open poppet valve 372 in a conventional manner. This movement blocks communication between chamber 330 and conduit 360 and simultaneously allows air to enter through inlet 378 through the now open valve 372 to conduit 360. The atmosphere circulates around conduit 360 through valve 362 to conduit 364 and then the chamber 328. The introduction of atmospheric pressure to chamber 328 creates a pressure differential which overcomes spring 336 and moves piston 334 and piston 340 to brake actuating position. More specifically, the movement of piston 340 in cylinder 342 forces the brake fluid through conduit 344 and safety valve 306 to conduit 346 and hydraulic brake lines 348 to actuate the vehicle brakes is known fashion.
In order to insure that there is always an adequate supply of brake fluid in cylinder 342, conduit 324 connects fluid reservoir 320 to the cylinder 342, it being important to note that the inlet 382 to the cylinder 342 is located behind the forward portion of piston 340. Piston 340 is provided with a one-way valve 384 which enables fluid to pass through the piston from left to right, viewing FIG. 8, but which blocks flow of fluid through the piston from right to left. Thus, during operation of the piston 340, the suction created thereby in cylinder 342 sucks fluid through conduit 324 from reservoir 320 into cylinder 342 on the rear side of piston 340. During the return stroke of piston 340, the valve 384 allows fluid to pass through the piston, thereby insuring that there is always a full supply of fluid in the cylinder for brake actuation.
Since the structure and operation of hydraulic pressure switch 306 and anti-skid unit 312 are identical to that already described in connection with the first form of my necessary. It will be noted, however, that where the operator applies more brake pressure than is required for a particular road surfaces, the vehicle wheels will lock, whereby the same structure and operational sequence will cause rotary valve 362 to be moved to a position wherein conduit 360 becomes blocked and conduit 352A becomes open to allow suction from manifold 350 to be introduced through conduit 364 to chamber 328, whereupon spring 336 will once again take over to release the brakes. The same modulating action as aforedescribed will take place until hydraulic pressure switch 308 eventually renders the anti-skid inoperative.
In accordance with my invention it is crucial that the entire brake pressure be controlled by the anti-skid unit and that no fluid be conducted directly from the foot pedal to the wheels. Means are provided to insure that brake pressure will not be lost should there be a loss of suction. This is accomplished by safety valve 306. More specifically, conduit 352D is connected to the suction conduit 352 whereupon as long as proper suction exists in the system, piston 386 is maintained in the position illustrated in FIG. 8 against the action of spring 388. In this position, conduit 344 is in communication with conduit 346, but conduit 380 is blocked at its extremity adjacent the safety valve. Should suction be lost in the system, spring 388 will become effective to move piston 386 upwardly, thereby blocking the communication between conduits 344 and 346 and at the same time providing communication between conduit 380 and conduit 346. With the safety valve in this position, the brakes are directly controlled by operation of pedal 300 since the entire power unit is now bypassed.
A one-way check valve 390 is located in conduit 352 adjacent the intake manifold 350 since without same backfire of the vehicle engine would cause an explosive pressure to be introduced to the power unit, which would be undesirable for obvious reasons.
Referring once again to FIG. 4, it will be noted that should the vehicle move in reverse, the direction of rotation of drive shaft 142 will likewise be in reverse, thus causing reverse relation of flexible shaft 164 and shaft 168. Reverse rotation of shaft 168 will, in turn, cause reverse rotation of drive gear 170 and cam gear 222, causing pin 228 to leave stop surface 227 and move toward stop surface 225, which, as previously described, causes gear 222 to slide on shaft 202 in a direction away from partition 180 to close switch 234 and thus activate the governor control and anti-skid means. Even though it is possible that very slow reverse movement of the vehicle might not be sufficient to cause movement of cam gear 222 to activate the governor control, the fact remains that there is always the possibility and even likelihood that reverse movement of the vehicle will activate the governor control even though no skid condition exists. Since there is no practical need for any anti-skid means when the vehicle is moving in reverse, and since the activation of these means when not needed might even result in the loss of some stopping distance, it has been found desirable to provide means for rendering the governor control and anti-skid ineffective and inoperative when the vehicle moves in reverse.
Referring to FIGS. 9 through 12, a somewhat modified anti-skid unit is shown generally at 400. Unit 400 is basically the same as skid-sensing and control means 24 hereinbefore described except that a reverse cut-off switch has been incorporated in the unit to prevent energization of solenoid 188 when the vehicle drive shaft is in reverse and flexible shaft 164 correspondingly rotates in a reverse direction. The reverse cut-off switch, shown generally at 402 (FIG. 10) comprises a shaft 404 slidably coupled to shaft 164 as at 406, in the same manner that shaft 168 was drivingly engaged to flexible shaft 164. Shaft 404, which is constructed of any electrically conductive metal, is journalled in bore 408, said bore having an larger diameter of portion 410 results in the presence of an annular shoulder 412 at the extremity of bore 404. Slidably mounted in portion 410 is a contact button 414, said button being resiliently urged toward bore 404 by means of spring 416. The opposite end of spring 416 resiliently engages a contact cup 418 having a terminal 420 extending radially therefrom.
Adjacent its opposite extremity, shaft 404 has fixedly mounted thereon the afore-described drive gear 170, said gear meshing with cam gear 222, all in the manner hereinbefore described. A spring 422 engages washer 424 to normally urge shaft 404 to the left when viewing FIGS. 9 and 10, thus causing the end of shaft 404 to extand into enlarged portion 410 and, therefore, into engagement with contact button 414, as illustrated in FIG. 9. Loosely mounted on shaft 404 is a reverse switch cam 426 comprising a circular plate 428 having a spiral cam portion 430 mounted thereon, and further having an outwardly extending pin 432 located adjacent the end of cam track 430. A cam pin 434 extends radially from shaft 404 and is adapted to cooperate with the spiral cam track 430 to determine the axial position of shaft 404. Expressed differently, when shaft 404 is rotating in a counterclockwise direction when viewing FIG. 12, cam pin 434 will engage the stop pin 432 at the low point on the spiral track 430. With the parts in this position, shaft 404 will assume the position illustrated in FIG. 9 wherein the extremity of the shaft is in engagement with contact button 412, it being understood that spring 422 is somewhat stronger than spring 416, whereupon the extremity of shaft 404 will actually enter into enlarged portion 410. Upon clockwise rotation of shaft 404, pin 434 will ride up the spiral cam track 430 until it reaches the high end of said track and engages the opposite side of stop pin 432, as illustrated in FIG. 10. In this position, shaft 404 has been moved to the right (when viewing FIG. 10) against the action of spring 422 sufficiently for the end of said shaft to become completely withdrawn from enlarged portion 410. Since the annular shoulder 412 prevents the contact button 414 from moving out of enlarged portion 410, it follows that the end of shaft 404 becomes disengaged from contact putton 414, as clearly illustrated in FIG. 10. Also mounted on shaft 404 is a washer 436 having a radially extending contact arm 438, the purpose of which will hereinafter be described. As will be seen most clearly in FIG. 10, the washer 436 is mounted on shaft 404 adjacent the flat rear surface of cam 426, it being understood that shaft 404 may freely rotate within washer 436. A cam thrust washer 440 comprising a peripheral ring portion 442 and bent marginal lugs 444 resiliently engages the opposite face 428 of cam 426, whereupon to resiliently urge cam 426 into engagement with washer 436 and at the same time to impart a sufficient frictional drag on cam 426 so that movement of shaft 404 will not impart corresponding rotary movement to the cam until pin 434 moves into engagement with stop pin 432. The thrust washer 440 has a radially extending spring arm 446 that is secured to the housing 176 by any suitable means, such as by having the end of the spring arm clamped between adjacent portions of the housing, as illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10.
The operation of reverse switch 402 is as follows. Assuming that shaft 404 is being rotated in a counter-clockwise direction, which for purposes of this description corresponds to forward movement of the vehicle, the switch will, as aforestated, assume the position illustrated in FIG. 9 wherein shaft 404 is making engagement with contact button 412. With the parts in this position, and assuming that a skid condition commences to exist, causing cam gear 222 to close switch 234, current will flow through line 262 to terminal 420 through contact cup 418, spring 416, contact button 414, and then to shaft 404, which as previously described, is in engagement with contact button 414. Shaft 404 is in turn in electrical engagement with washer 426 and its radially extending forminal 438, both directly and through the engagement of pin 434, which in turn engages cam 426, which in turn bears against washer 436. Thus, the flow of current is through terminal arm 438 and then to line 262A, which connects to ground as at 264. This, along with line 256, completes the circuit to solenoid 133 in order to energize same and render the governor control effective, all in a manner hereinbefore described. On the other hand, should the vehicle move into reverse, thus resulting in clockwise rotation of shaft 404, cam 426 will cause the shaft 404 to retract and become disengaged from contact button 414, as illustrated in FIG. 10, thus interrupting the connection to ground and preventing energization of solenoid 188. It will thus be seen that whenever the vehicle and its drive shaft moves in reverse, the reverse cut-off switch 402 will automatically prevent the skid sensing and control means and the governor control from coming into play. Thus, the vehicle brakes will always be under normal and direct control by the operator whenever the vehicle is moving in reverse.
While there is shown and described herein certain specific structure embodying the invention, it will be manifest to those skilled in the art that various modifications and rearrangements of the parts may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the underlying inventive concept and that the same is not limited to the particular forms herein shown and described.
What is claimed is:
1. Acceleration responsive means for a vehicle wheel anti-skid system in a vehicle brake system having a fluid source, a vehicle wheel brake operating actuator cylinder in fluid communication with said fluid source and operator actuated means for applying fluid pressure to said vehicle wheel brake operating actuator cylinder, said vehicle wheel anti-skid system comprising said acceleration responsive means which senses a predetermined deceleration of the vehicle wheel, means actuated by said acceleration responsive means foralternately applying and relieving the fluid pressure applied to the vehicle wheel brake operating actuator cylinder when said predetermined deceleration of the vehicle wheel is sensed by said acceleration responsive means, and means for controlling said means for alternately applying and relieving the fluid pressure, said acceleration responsive means comprising a governor assembly, a rotatable shaft operatively connected to said governor assembly to rotate the governor assembly, a cam gear mounted on said shaft, means for operatively connecting said cam gear to said shaft so that said shaft may be driven in rotation by said cam gear when said cam gear is rotated, said cam gear being mounted for sliding movement endwise of said shaft, means for rotating said cam gear dependently with the speed of rotation of the vehicle wheel, means for sliding said cam gear endwise of said shaft upon a predetermined deceleration of the vehicle wheel, said cam gear being capable of actuating said control means, whereby said cam gear normally rotates said shaft which in turn rotates said governor assembly but upon attainment of a predetermined deceleration of the wheel said cam gear is moved endwise of said shaft temporarily disconnecting the driving relationship between the cam gear and the shaft and actuating said control means so that the fluid pressure applied to the vehicle wheel brake operating cylinder will be alternately applied and relieved.
2. Acceleration responsive means as set forth in claim 1 wherein said means for operatively connecting said cam gear to said shaft includes a pin secured to and extending radially of said shaft and means formed in said cam gear to engage said pin.
3. Acceleration responsive means as set forth in claim 2 wherein said means formed in said cam gear includes a recess in one end of said cam gear, a helical surface formed in said cam gear within the confines of said recess, a first stop surface at one end of said helical surface and a second stop surface at the other end of said helical surface, said pin being adapted to fit within said recess and contact said helical surface.
4. Acceleration responsive means as set forth in claim 3 including a spring finger mounted to bias said cam gear into engagement with said pin so that when said cam gear is rotated said pin engages said first stop surface thereby to rotate said shaft but upon attainment of the predetermined deceleration of the wheel said pin rotates relatively to said cam gear thereby to slide along said helical surface until said pin abuts said second surface thereby to slide said cam gear endwise of said shaft until the cam gear engages and actuates said control means.
UNITED STATES PATENTS
2,163,731 6/1939 Hallot 138 - 181
2,964,018 12/1960 Mortimer 188 - 181 X
3,165,180 1/1965 Inderau 303 - 21 X
DUANE A. REGER, Primary Examiner
188 - 181
WILLIAM E. HILL & COMPANY, INC.
NEW YORK LONDON BRUSSELS
640 FIFTH AVENUE
NEW YORK 19
December 14, 1964
Mr. Robert A. Kloby
Director of Forward Planning
The Singer Company
321 First Street
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Dear Mr. Kloby:
In accordance with your assignment, a preliminary survey of short-term prospects for the Perma anti-skid control has been completed. The following report summarizes the findings and conclusions of this survey, which were reviewed with you November 11 in Elizabeth.
William E. Hill & Company
The Singer Company
PRELIMINARY MARKET SURVEY
PERMA ANTI-SKID CONTROL
The objective of this project has been to assist management in determining the short-term market prospects for the Perma anti-skid control. Although determination of sales potential was the principal objective, the issue of product performance arose during the course of the project as an important consideration, and the subject has been covered in the report.
Following orientation meetings with Singer and Perma management, the conduct of the survey included meetings with key industry sources such as automotive brake and safety engineers, auto manufacturer marketing personnel, fleet operators and safety engineers, a fleet operation consultant, specialty automotive part distributors, new-car dealers, and several Perma distributors.
The principal findings and conclusions resulting from this preliminary study are summarized below.
1. Automotive engineers have recognized for many years that it is possible and highly desirable to improve the braking operation by adding to the vehicle braking system a mechanism that would sense an impending locked-wheel condition and prevent the brakes from coming to a completely locked condition. A system which could do this would allow the car to be stopped somewhat faster and give greater steering control in a panic stop situation. The Perma control is one of several systems that automotive engineers have evaluated in recent years in their search for a system which will give the desired improvement in braking performance at a reasonable price.
2. The Perma anti-skid control falls short of meeting requirements of automotive engineers, and does not provide the improvement possible in theory. The consensus of the many engineering tests that have been run on the unit indicate that the Perma control, as compared to a panic or locked-wheel stop, gives improved steering control, but requires a greater distance to come to a complete stop. The automotive brake and safety engineers who have reviewed its performance do not agree on the value of the Perma anti-skid control, and are about evenly divided on the issue. One group believes that it is of value in that most drivers cannot handle a skid situation adequately and that the added control of the car obtained is well worth the relatively small loss in stopping distance. The other group believes that no amount of increase in control justifies the increased stopping distance.
3. The user aftermarket represents the only apparent short-term opportunity for significant sales volume for the Perma anti-skid control. Prospects are indicated for a sales volume on the order of 100 thousand units during the next two years, depending on sales effort.
a) The product, with its strong emotional appeal to safety, and with demonstrable characteristics, lends itself to a consumerdirected merchandizing effort. Typical of products of this type, sales volume will depend largely on the amount of promotional effort expended.
b) The original-equipment market represents virtually no opportunity at this time for sales of the Perma control. In addition to the mixed opinion on its worth, this is because of the low value the automotive manufacturer places on safety equipment, considering the poor record of consumer acceptance for high-cost equipment such as the Perma control.
c) The prospects for significant sales to fleet markets are expected to be quite limited due to the highly cost-conscious nature of fleet operations. Most government fleets are subject to stringent budgetary controls with very little allowance for extras. Large professionally run private fleets subject their expenditures to careful cost analysis, and the anti-skid control can seldom be justified on a dollars and cents basis, considering the substantial investment cost in relation to reduction of accident cost.
4. To meet the sales volume which appears possible during the next two years, a strong promotional program aimed at the user aftermarket would be required.
a) An intensive promotional program would be needed, because the Perma anti-skid control is virtually unknown and would have to be introduced to the end-user. In addition sales would represent discretionary purchases (versus replacement parts sales) and the item is costly in relation to most other auto accessory purchases.
b) A program to sell the item successfully would likely depend heavily on "high-pressure" promotional methods which include a high sales and advertising cost per unit, sales practices capitalizing on a strong emotional appeal, and perhaps emphasizing strong "personal" selling.
c) Any one of a number of channels of distribution could be effective for this product, including new-car dealers, gas stations, specialty auto accessory stores and a direct selling organization. However, to meet the desired sales volume through any one of these channels, it appears that a supporting program of advertising, demonstrations and other promotional measures would be required.
5. If the Company becomes involved in a sales program directed to the user aftermarket, management will want to recognize the possible problems which might arise, and which have been encountered by other companies in similar situations. In particular, the following points might be considered.
a) Use of the Singer name both at dealer and user levels should be carefully controlled. This is essential to prevent misuse of the name in relation to extravagant product claims and also to prevent association in the user's mind with possible undesirable sales and promotional activities.
b) Management, of course, will want to determine the legal liability which could arise from accidents where it could be claimed that the anti-skid control did not function as represented or where it may have been installed incorrectly or become inoperative.
c) In light of Singer's dependence on an independent sales organization for marketing of the Perma control, management will want assurance that the program will not resort to the use of door-to-door sales organizations which would employ high-pressure salesmen. This in particular could result in problems possibly harmful to the Singer name and reputation.
d) The question of reliable repair service and replacement parts availability is an important one, and assurance of reliable resources in this respect will need to be considered.
The following section of this report summarizes in detail the findings of the survey.
The Singer Company
PRELIMINARY MARKET SURVEY
PERMA ANTI-SKID CONTROL
A. Product Description and Engineering Evaluation
1. For many years automotive engineers have recognized that it is desirable as well as possible to reduce stopping distance of a car in a panic stop by holding brakes steady just before a full locked-wheel condition and at the same time reduce the tendency for the car to spin. In recent years many of the automotive companies have evaluated systems which are able to make this improvement in braking performance at a justifiable price. The Perma anti-skid control is one of the devices which have been designed to make this improvement in braking performance. This control operates by quickly sensing a locked-wheel condition and momentarily reducing the brake line pressure to allow the wheel to rotate. The system cycles through this lock-roll-lock-roll condition about four times a second until the car comes to a halt.
a) In theory, by holding the wheels at a 20 percent skid, or by allowing the motion of the car to come 20 percent from skidding and 80 percent from wheel rotation, the car can be brought to a stop faster and kept under better control than in the locked-wheel condition.
b) The lack of stability, or the tendency for the car to swing around, is particularly serious in the case of Bendix-type brakes which are self-actuating and quite sensitive to the condition of brake lining and adjustment for balanced braking. Disk brakes, which several U.S. manufacturers are offering this year as optional equipment, operate on a somewhat different principle and do not have as great a problem in braking stability as self-actuating types.
c) In addition to the evaluation made of the Perma anti-skid control, automotive manufacturers have evaluated the Lockheed and Bendix systems. Also, there is a comparable system developed in Europe which was offered on the Jaguar auto as optional equipment. The Lockheed unit operates on the basis of a small flywheel backlash operating through a pneumatic system to reduce brake pressure; the French system is a mechanical system working on each wheel.
2. A number of engineering tests have been run on the Perma anti-skid control comparing its stopping performance in terms of stopping distance and stability with the operation of the car under locked-wheel conditions. The consensus of the tests is that the Perma control allows a car to be stopped under panic stop conditions with better control, but at the cost of greater stopping distance when compared to locked-wheel conditions. While this conclusion is definitely substantiated by most of the results, there is some variation between the test results. The results of tests run to date have been summarized in Exhibit 1.
a) Exceptions to the above conclusions are as follows:
(1) The test results of the Motor Vehicle Research group, which were sponsored by Perma, showed that under all road conditions use of the Perma anti-skid control allowed the car to stop significantly faster than under locked-wheel conditions.
(2) In the Cadillac Division test, under glare ice road conditions the Perma control permitted the car to stop in slightly less distance than the locked-wheel situation.
(3) The Ford tests showed that the car equipped with the Perma control took longer to stop and gave no significant improvement in stability.
b) The extent of the testing performed in evaluating the control was reviewed with the auto manufacturers' engineers conducting the tests in most cases, and the amount of time and expense involved was considerable and results are considered to be sound.
3. There are two points of view among the engineers evaluating the Perma anti-skid control as to the value of a system which brings a car to a stop with better control but which requires greater distance to stop; the engineers are almost evenly divided for and against use of such a system.
a) The General Motor Research Center, The Ford Advanced Design Group and Chrysler Brake Laboratory are against use of the control. They believe that nothing should be done to increase the stopping distance required under panic stop conditions, because the last ten feet may be the critical ones in a collision.
b) American Motors Safety Engineering and Cadillac Division Brake Design Group are in favor of the system. They believe that the average driver will not remember to pump his brakes under panic conditions and hence is much better off with the anti-skid control. He will have enough control to avoid most road obstructions and stay in a controlled path even though it takes him slightly longer to stop.
B. Possible Markets for Anti-Skid Systems
There are three distinct markets representing significant potential for products such as the Perma anti-skid control.
1. Original equipment manufacturers, represented by the major automotive companies, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and American Motors.
2. Fleets, including privately-owned fleets and government-operated vehicles.
3. The automotive user aftermarket, represented by the sales of parts and accessories after the car is purchased, and including accessories installed by the new-car dealer.
C. Market Characteristics and Requirements
Following is a summary of the key market requirements relating to automotive equipment such as the anti-skid system.
1. The automotive manufacturer has two essential requirements, dependability and value. These requirements are reflected in the typical evaluation of a possible new device; first, assurance that the device is sound from an engineering point of view, and secondly, consideration as to profit, which is a function of user acceptance (in terms of the added price he is willing to pay) and the added cost to the manufacturer. Safety features have typically received low ratings in relation to these criteria.
a) The automobile companies are slow to accept new accessories because of the desire to thoroughly prove out any new device for reliability. For example, the power-braking system on the Ford, similar in complexity to the Perma anti-skid control, took over two years to develop even after the basic design was well established. All new accessory designs have hundreds of thousands of miles of testing before final acceptance. In this respect the statement was made by several of the auto companies that from a reliability point of view they believe the Perma anti-skid control is below their standards.
b) An example of the rather low rating that auto companies put on safety items is the case of dual brakes. This item has been put only on the Cadillac and Rambler; it permits partial brake operation even though a hydraulic line is broken. Although the cost is low, about $1.50 in manufacturing costs, other manufacturers have not added the device, primarily because they do not believe the consumer will recognize that amount of additional value.
c) While it is difficult to find a product which is exactly parallel to the anti-skid control, the record of seat belts probably comes closest. These cost in the $25 to $35 range during their first year. Through the 1950's American Motors was the only manufacturer to offer belts as an accessory, and although belts had unqualified support of safety organizations the company realized sales on under 1 percent of cars until the legislation of the 1960's.
2. The requirements of fleet markets in total center around cost consideration, particularly in the case of government and major fleet operations. The nature of these cost requirements are different, however, between the two major market segments.
a) The key characteristic of government fleet purchasing is the overwhelming concern with price. Virtually all purchasing of motor vehicles and accessories is subject to public bidding and review. Hence, except where special equipment is required to accomplish a particular job, the government vehicle is strictly transportation and the cheapest equipment available is purchased.
(1) The Federal Government fleet has the most stringent financial limitation placed on it. All of their vehicles, with accessories, are purchased for under $1,500. This leaves no allowance for anything but the most necessary accessories. This ceiling has been set by law and there is no indication that it will be raised in the near future.
(2) The GSA, which purchases and operates the largest share of government vehicles, has shown interest in many new safety devices and has been discussing these devices with automotive companies. However, the agenda of their last meeting in Detroit this November did not include the anti-skid control, other devices being considered of higher priority.
(3) Smaller government fleets, such as local police vehicle fleets, have indicated interest in the anti-skid control. Where vehicle purchases are not subject to close public scrutiny and key persons influencing the sale may have a freer hand in choosing the equipment, the cost factor may be secondary. A number of these smaller fleets have shown initial interest in the system and the Perma control has been installed in a few trial cars.
b) The principal concern of the commercial fleet is cost of operations. These cost considerations fall into two areas: first, the cost of depreciation (the relationship between purchase price and eventual resale on the used-car market) as it affects the car and the accessory equipment, and second, the cost of operation including fuel, maintenance, insurance repairs, etc. In the large professionally managed fleets cost is the primary concern, although allowance is often given to match fleet equipment with the personally owned vehicle the driver is accustomed to.
(1) The large fleet operator looks at his costs as divided quite equally into three parts -- depreciation, direct operating costs and all other, including the costs of accidents. Of the total cost of operation the direct cost of accident (the sum of insurance and non-insured accident costs) represents a minor 9 percent in the average business fleet. With this relatively low base, very little cost for accessory equipment can be justified in an attempt to reduce it.
(2) The costs of accidents are normally 85 percent covered by insurance, and unlike private auto insurance, the premium rate is negotiated annually with the underwriter. The rate varies from fleet to fleet, but is nearly always based on the accident experience of the previous year. Hence the large fleet operator will only consider installing a safety device when it can be shown that it will reduce the accident cost in relation to its cost.
(3) The fleet owner often will purchase accessories which have value from an employee relations point of view. The rule of thumb on this type of purchase usually is to give the driver of a company car equipment he has come to accept in his own car. Hence, after power brakes rose to a rate in new car installation of around 50 percent the large fleets started to purchase cars with power brakes. The same situation has occurred with the automatic transmission and the 8-cylinder engine. On this basis the fleet operator would not purchase a new accessory until after it had received fairly wide consumer acceptance.
(4) The cost of depreciation over the time that the fleet holds a car, usually two to four years, is a factor in choice of accessories. The fleet operator recognizes that the accessories depreciate in market value much faster than the car itself. In fact, only five accessories are recognized as having resale value; these are automatic transmission, radio, power brakes and steering and air conditioning. All others, including Perma anti-skid control, are nearly valueless on the used-car market. This fast rate of market depreciation would be a further barrier to sales in this market.
(5) In addition to the large professionally managed fleets there are, of course, small fleets that are not subject to close cost control. These fleets are often run by one man with a relatively free hand over purchases, and who may recognize unusual operating factors such as poor road conditions. Many of these operators may be in a position to purchase a device such as the anti-skid control simply because the key man is convinced of its value.
3. There are a number of important requirements which would have to be met to successfully sell the Perma control in the user aftermarket.
a) Promotion to the user is the most important market requirement. The anti-skid control, in spite of the considerable amount of notice received in trade press, is virtually unknown to the car-owning public, and its story must be explained. In addition, the control is an item that a car owner does not have to have, and it therefore must be promoted more intensely than service or replacement parts which are necessary to operate his car. Promotional techniques which might be used include television "spot" announcements, group demonstrations, movie shorts, newspaper and magazine advertising and personal calls.
b) Demonstrated reliability recognized by the motoring public would be essential to marketing of this product, both because it is new and because it becomes a part of the braking system of the car. Reliability could be demonstrated in a number of ways, including association of the control with established and universally respected names such as Singer. In addition, the record of fleets or other groups that have had good field experience with the device would be helpful.
c) Installation service for the unit must be competent. Although the unit does not require much time to install, the person doing the job must be skilled. Because the unit goes into the braking system, all installation work must be sound.
d) Credit would be needed for this item because the relatively high cost of the Perma control cannot be met by the typical aftermarket purchaser in a cash payment.
D. Distribution to the User Aftermarket
Three established distribution systems represent possible channels for sales of the Perma anti-skid control, and meet to varying degrees the requirements for serving the user aftermarket. A fourth means of distribution -- direct-to-user sales -- would represent a fourth possibility. Effective use of any of these distribution systems would require strong promotional support.
1. New-car dealers presently sell independently manufactured accessory items as part of the new-car sale or when the new car is serviced. The dealer operates in a highly competitive environment in his sales of new cars. For instance, the average Ford dealer makes only $27 on each new-car sale, with General Motors dealers only slightly better. Accessories, on the other hand, have a much higher margin and present the dealer and his salesmen with a better profit opportunity than the car itself. New-car dealers would be interested in handling the anti-skid control as a relatively high-profit accessory item, and Perma's New York distributor appears to have had some limited initial success in placing the item with dealers.
2. The gas station, particularly selling through the TBA (tires, batteries and accessories) divisions of national oil companies, would present a means of distribution. The typical gas station is faced with a highly competitive situation in sales of gasoline and the TBA program is an effort to broaden the station's sales into higher-margin items. This channel is of particular interest because of the favorable reaction to the unit developed with Phillips Petroleum, which has been most interested in promoting the item. The gas station is able to offer credit through their credit cards. Although many stations would have the necessary installation competence, small stations do not have the skill to install the unit. In addition, the gas station is not a promotional outlet and would have to be backed with an independent promotional program.
3. The independent automotive specialty chains could possibly present a good outlet for the Perma control. These selling and installing organizations include U.S. Royal, Firestone, B. F. Goodrich, Vanderbilt, Midas Muffler and others. These outlets base their business on strong promotion and advertising and could handle the anti-skid control. The issue with this type of distribution is that they are very selective as to products handled. Their objective is to handle products which will make most efficient use of salesmen's time, and hence prefer established products for which user acceptance is well established and which can be sold with the minimum of sales time and effort. Also, in line with the nature of these operations, there is a requirement for rapid turnover of stock; one major chain sets a minimum of four times a year. This limits the number of different products these stores will carry.
4. Direct user sales has been shown to be a possible method of selling anti-skid control. Several of the Perma distributors have had limited experience in selling through a number of direct-sale operators. Techniques have included demonstrations, following leads from advertising or from promotional talks, and neighborhood gatherings. This type of selling gives an opportunity for very heavy promotional effort. Arrangements would have to be made independently by the salesman for installation and credit. Large businesses in other products have been developed on this distribution basis and it can be a highly effective method of selling certain specialized products.
E. Short-Term Market Prospects
Based upon the results of this preliminary survey, it appears unlikely that the stated sales objective for the Perma control will be attained. With the prospect for sales to the automotive manufacturers virtually nil in the foreseeable future, and limited prospects in the fleet market, significant sales volume during the next two years will have to be realized from the user aftermarket. An aggressive, promotionally-oriented marketing program could probably develop sales of approximately 100 thousand units within the next two-year period. Estimates of sales to the principal markets are summarized in Exhibit 2.
1. Based on evaluation by major automotive manufacturers, the Perma anti-skid control does not meet established requirements, and cannot be expected to find a place in the OEM market under present conditions. In the longer-range future, however, it is possible that anti-skid controls of some type may be included in the braking system of automobiles as original equipment.
2. Despite the large number of vehicles operated in civilian and government fleets, the sales potential for the Perma control appears quite limited. It is estimated that approximately 500 units could be sold the first year, and from 2,000 to 4,000 the second year. It is expected that these sales would be to small civilian fleets. The strict cost considerations under which professionally run fleets operate cannot justify a high-priced item like the Perma control, and impose a severe limitation to sales prospects in this market.
3. Depending on the effectiveness and intensity of sales effort, it is possible that on the order of 25,000 units could be sold in the user aftermarket during the first year, and perhaps two-to-three times this volume the second year, or from 50,000 to 75,000 units. It is most likely that these sales will be through car dealers and direct-sales organizations. TBA and specialty automotive products companies contacted as part of this survey expressed strong reluctance to taking on the Perma control -- mainly because their operations are not geared to promotion and introduction of new products.
4. Although it is beyond the scope of this preliminary survey to evaluate in depth the various distribution methods open to the Perma control, or to recommend a marketing program, it is apparent that the anti-skid control has certain characteristics which could support a major direct-selling operation.
a) Involving, as it does, family safety, the anti-skid control is subject to promotion on a strong emotional basis. Coupled with this is the fact that it is a product which is demonstrable in familiar and understandable terms to the large car-owning population. Selling at a price well over $100, there is a good margin for significant sales commissions.
b) In recent years a number of consumer products having some of the above characteristics have been very successfully sold on a door-to-door basis and sales volumes so developed have been impressive at the peak of such programs. Sales volume is limited virtually only by the number of salesmen employed. Products such as water softeners, home fire and burglar alarms, storm windows, siding, and vacuum cleaners are examples of products sold by this type of sales operation.
c) Many of these selling organizations have engaged in the doubtful practices to which direct sales activities are subject, and have experienced serious financial and legal programs. In this regard estimates of possible sales of the Perma control have assumed good control of sales and promotional activities and careful selection of sales representatives. Marketing by means of the typical door-to-door operators on an unrestricted basis would represent a very different set of conditions and could present much greater sales prospects.
RESULTS OF ENGINEERING TESTS OF THE PERMA ANTI-SKID CONTROL
Approximate Results of
Agency Stopping Distance Tests
Testing Location Dry Pavement Wet & Slippery
Perma Motor Vehicle 15% less 5% to 20%
Development- Research stopping dis- less distance
(Maine & New tance with with Perma
Cadillac Motor Car Delco Moraine 5% to 10% Slightly less
(div. of General Div. of G.M. more distance stopping dis-
Motors Corp.) (Dayton, Ohio) required with tance with
General Motors G.M. Proving 9% to 18% 4% to 27%
Center Ground (Detroit) more distance more distance
Chrysler Chrysler Test 5% to 15% 5% to 15%
Facilities more required more required
Ford Ford Test 1% to 10% 5% to 10%
Facilities more required more required
American Motors No formal tests
Unit on test car
in car pool
Phillips Petroleum Phillips Test 5% to 20%
Track more required
RESULTS OF ENGINEERING TESTS OF THE PERMA ANTI-SKID CONTROL
Stability of Car Overall Estimate
Agency During Locked- Reliability of of the Worth
Testing Wheel Stop Unit of the Unit
Perma Considerable Laboratory Very valuable
Research & Develop- increase in tests of cer-
ment stability tain parts of
the unit show
Cadillac Increased Not tested Has some value
(div. of General stability in control of car
Motors Corp.) even though
General Motors Increased Not tested Gain in stability
Center stability does not justify
Chrysler Increased Not tested Gain in stability
stability does not justify
Ford No significant Not tested Not of value
American Motors Increased Not tested Has some value
stability in control of car
recognized even though
Phillips Petroleum Increased Not tested Unit has value
stability in control of
would also like
to see shorter