(19)
(11)EP 3 626 600 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION
published in accordance with Art. 153(4) EPC

(43)Date of publication:
25.03.2020 Bulletin 2020/13

(21)Application number: 18802764.3

(22)Date of filing:  19.03.2018
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B63H 20/12(2006.01)
B63H 20/32(2006.01)
B63H 20/00(2006.01)
B63H 25/42(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/JP2018/010753
(87)International publication number:
WO 2018/211809 (22.11.2018 Gazette  2018/47)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 18.05.2017 JP 2017098730

(71)Applicant: Yamaha Hatsudoki Kabushiki Kaisha
Iwata-shi, Shizuoka 438-8501 (JP)

(72)Inventor:
  • MIZUTANI, Makoto
    Iwata-shi Shizuoka 438-8501 (JP)

(74)Representative: Grünecker Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartG mbB 
Leopoldstraße 4
80802 München
80802 München (DE)

  


(54)STEERING APPARATUS AND OUTBOARD MOTOR UNIT


(57) The steering device is a steering device for an outboard motor rotatably supported on the hull about a steering axis, the steering device includes a chiller handle, an actuator, and a link member. The chiller handle is attached to the outboard motor. The actuator rotates the chiller handle about the steering axis. The link member is movably disposed at the connection position and the blocking position. The link member transmits the driving force from the actuator to the chiller handle at the connection position. The link member shuts off the transmission of driving force from the actuator to the chiller handle at the blocking position.




Description

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0001] The present invention relates to a steering device and an outboard motor unit.

BACKGROUND ART



[0002] Conventionally, a steering device that steers an outboard motor by an actuator is known. For example, the steering device of Patent Document 1 includes an operation unit, a detection unit, and an electric motor. The operation unit includes a hydraulic pump connected to the steering wheel. The detection unit includes a hydraulic damper mechanism and a stroke sensor. The hydraulic damper mechanism is displaced by hydraulic fluid from the hydraulic pump. The stroke sensor detects the displacement of the hydraulic damper. The signal from the stroke sensor is input to the ECU. The ECU detects the steering angle of the steering wheel by the signal from the stroke sensor. Then, the ECU steers the outboard motor by controlling the electric motor according to the steering angle.

CITATION LIST


Patent Literature



[0003] Patent Document 1: Japan Patent Laid-open Patent Publication No. 2006-199064

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


Technical Problems



[0004] In the steering device of Patent Document 1 described above, it is necessary to dispose an operation unit, a detection unit, an electric motor, and a communication line connecting these on the hull. However, some small boats do not have a steering wheel and are steered manually by a chiller handle. It is difficult to mount the above-mentioned steering device on such a small boat. Alternatively, some small boats steer the outboard motor via wires connected to the steering wheel. Even in such a small boat, in order to mount the above-mentioned steering device, it is necessary to replace the existing steering device, and thus the mounting is not easy.

[0005] In addition, even in the case of a boat equipped with a steering device, the operator may want to perform steering manually. In such a case, it may become difficult to perform the manual steering by the steering device becoming a resistance.

[0006] An object of the present invention is to provide a steering device for an outboard motor and an outboard motor unit that can be easily mounted on a small boat and can be manually steered.

Solution to Problems



[0007] A steering device according to an aspect is a steering device for an outboard motor supported by a hull so as to be rotatable about a steering axis, the steering device includes a chiller handle, an actuator, and a link member. The chiller handle is attached to the outboard motor. The actuator is configured to rotate the chiller handle about the steering axis. The link member is movably disposed at a connection position and a blocking position. The link member transmits the driving force from the actuator to the chiller handle at the connection position. The link member shuts off the transmission of driving force from the actuator to the chiller handle at the blocking position.

[0008] An outboard motor unit according to another aspect includes an outboard motor and the steering device described above.

Advantageous Effects of Invention



[0009] In the steering device and the outboard motor unit according to the present invention, the actuator is arranged together with the chiller handle. The actuator steers the outboard motor by rotating the chiller handle. Therefore, the steering device can be easily mounted on the small boat. Also, the link member blocks transmission of driving force from the actuator to the chiller handle at the blocking position. Therefore, when the operator manually steers the outboard motor with the chiller handle, by moving the link member to the blocking position, steering can be performed with a light operating force.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0010] 

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a boat equipped with a steering device according to a first embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a side view of an outboard motor unit.

FIG. 3 is a top view showing a configuration of the steering device.

FIG. 4 is a top view showing a configuration of the steering device.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart showing a process for controlling the steering device.

FIG. 6 is a top view showing a steering device according to a second embodiment.

FIG. 7 is a top view of a steering device according to a third embodiment.

FIG. 8 is a side view of a steering device according to a fourth embodiment.

FIG. 9 is a top view of the steering device according to a fourth embodiment.

FIG. 10 is a view showing an internal structure of an actuator.

FIG. 11 is a top view of the steering device according to a fourth embodiment.

FIG. 12 is a top view of a steering device according to a fifth embodiment.

FIG. 13 is a view showing an example of a link member.

FIG. 14 is a top view of a steering device according to a sixth embodiment.

FIG. 15 is a top view of a steering device according to another embodiment.


DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS



[0011] Hereinafter, embodiments will be described with reference to the drawings. FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a boat 100. The boat 100 includes a hull 101 and an outboard motor unit 1. The outboard motor unit 1 is attached to the hull 101. The outboard motor unit 1 includes an outboard motor 2 and a steering device 3a.

[0012] The outboard motor 2 is attached to the stern of the hull 101. The outboard motor 2 generates a propulsive force for propelling the hull 101. In the present embodiment, the number of outboard motors 2 is one, but two or more outboard motors 2 may be mounted on the boat 100.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a side view of the outboard motor unit 1. The outboard motor 2 is attached to the hull 101 via the bracket 11. The bracket 11 supports the outboard motor 2 rotatably around a steering shaft 19. The outboard motor 2 includes an engine 12, a drive shaft 13, a propeller shaft 14, and a shift mechanism 15.

[0014] The engine 12 generates propulsion force to propel the boat 100. The engine 12 includes a crankshaft 16. The crankshaft 16 extends in the vertical direction. The drive shaft 13 is connected to the crankshaft 16. The drive shaft 13 extends in the vertical direction. The propeller shaft 14 extends in the front-rear direction. The propeller shaft 14 is connected to the drive shaft 13 via the shift mechanism 15. The shift mechanism 15 switches the rotational direction of the power transmitted from the drive shaft 13 to the propeller shaft 14. The shift mechanism 15 includes, for example, a plurality of gears and a clutch that changes the meshing of the gears. A propeller 17 is connected to the propeller shaft 14.

[0015] The steering device 3a includes a chiller handle 21. The chiller handle 21 is attached to the outboard motor 2. The chiller handle 21 extends forward from the outboard motor 2. The chiller handle 21 includes an arm 22, a chiller main body 23, and a grip 24. The arm 22 is attached to the outboard motor 2. The chiller main body 23 is connected to the arm 22. The grip 24 is a portion held by the operator. The grip 24 is connected to the chiller main body 23 and provided at the tip of the chiller handle 21.

[0016] FIG. 3 is a top view showing the configuration of the steering device 3a according to the first embodiment. In FIG. 3, a part of the configuration of the steering device 3a is illustrated in cross section. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the bracket 11 includes a first bracket 25 and a second bracket 26. The first bracket 25 is fixed to the hull 101. The second bracket 26 is attached to the first bracket 25 via the tube 27. The tube 27 extends in the width direction of the hull 101. The second bracket 26 is rotatably supported by the first bracket 25 about a central axis (tilt axis) of the tube 27. Thus, the outboard motor 2 can be tilted up and down about the tilt axis.

[0017] The steering device 3a includes an actuator unit 31 and a link member 32a. The actuator unit 31 includes an actuator 33a and a housing 34. The actuator 33a rotates the chiller handle 21 about the steering shaft 19. The actuator 33a includes a motor 35, a screw member 36, a movable member 37 and a piston rod 38.

[0018] The motor 35 is, for example, an electric motor. The screw member 36 is, for example, a ball screw. The screw member 36 is connected to the motor 35 via the gears 39a, 39b, 39c. The motor 35 and the gears 39a, 39b, 39c are accommodated in the housing 34. The movable member 37 is a nut and is screwed with the screw member 36. The piston rod 38 is connected to the movable member 37. At least a portion of the screw member 36, the movable member 37 and at least a portion of the piston rod 38 are disposed within the tube 27. The movable member 37 and the piston rod 38 are disposed movably with respect to the tube 27.

[0019] The rotation of the motor 35 is transmitted to the screw member 36 via the gears 39a, 39b, 39c, and thereby the screw member 36 is rotated. When the movable member 37 moves in the central axial direction of the tube 27 by the rotation of the screw member 36, the piston rod 38 expands and contracts relative to the tube 27. Thereby, the piston rod 38 moves to the left and right.

[0020] The link member 32a connects the actuator 33a and the chiller handle 21. The link member 32a connects the piston rod 38 and the arm 22 of the chiller handle 21. The link member 32a is a rod-like member.

[0021] The link member 32a is movably disposed at a connection position and a blocking position. In detail, the link member 32a is detachably connected to the arm 22. The link member 32a includes a first end 321 and a second end 322. The arm 22 includes a connection portion 41 to which the first end 321 of the link member 32a is connected. The connection portion 41 includes a hole 411. The link member 32a is connected to the connection portion 41 by inserting the first end 321 into the hole 411. The second end 322 is rotatably connected to the tip of the piston rod 38.

[0022] The connection portion 41 is located rearward of the tip of the chiller handle 21. The connection portion 41 is located forward of the steering shaft 19. Therefore, the actuator 33a is connected to the chiller handle 21 at a position between the tip of the chiller handle 21 and the steering shaft 19.

[0023] The state in which the first end 321 is connected to the connection portion 41 means that the link member 32a is in the connection position. When the link member 32a is located at the connection position, the piston rod 38 and the arm 22 are connected each other. Therefore, when the link member 32a is located at the connection position, the driving force of the actuator 33a is transmitted to the chiller handle 21. Therefore, in response to the movement of the piston rod 38, the chiller handle 21 rotates around the steering shaft 19, and along with that, the outboard motor 2 rotates left and right around the steering shaft 19.

[0024] As illustrated in FIG. 4, the state in which the first end 321 is removed from the connection portion 41 means that the link member 32a is in the blocking position. When the link member 32a is located at the blocking position, the connection between the piston rod 38 and the arm 22 is released. Therefore, when the link member 32a is located at the blocking position, the transmission of the driving force from the actuator 33a to the chiller handle 21 is blocked.

[0025] As illustrated in FIG. 3, the steering device 3a includes an azimuth sensor 42, an operation switch 43, and a controller 44. The azimuth sensor 42 detects the actual heading of the hull 101. The azimuth sensor 42 outputs a detection signal indicating the actual heading of the hull 101. The operation switch 43 is attached to the housing 34. The operation switch 43 is operated by the operator to set the target azimuth of the hull 101.

[0026] The operation switch 43 is, for example, a dial switch. However, the operation switch 43 may be another switch such as a push button. Alternatively, the operation switch 43 may be a software switch displayed on the touch screen. The operation switch 43 outputs an operation signal indicating an operation position of the operation switch 43.

[0027] The controller 44 is housed in the housing 34. The controller 44 includes a processor such as a CPU and a memory such as a RAM or a ROM. The controller 44 stores programs and data for controlling the actuator 33a. The controller 44 receives a detection signal from the azimuth sensor 42. The controller 44 receives an operation signal from the operation switch 43. The controller 44 sets the target azimuth in response to the operation of the operation switch 43, and controls the steering device 3a such that the actual heading of the hull 101 matches the target azimuth.

[0028] FIG. 5 is a flowchart showing a process for controlling the steering device 3a which is executed by the controller 44. As illustrated in FIG. 5, in step S101, the controller 44 sets a target azimuth. The controller 44 sets the target azimuth based on the operation signal from the operation switch 43.

[0029] In step S102, the controller 44 detects an actual heading of the hull 101. The controller 44 detects the actual heading based on the detection signal from the azimuth sensor 42. In step S103, the controller 44 calculates an azimuth difference. The controller 44 calculates the deviation angle of the actual heading from the target azimuth as the azimuth difference.

[0030] In step S104, the controller 44 determines a target steering angle. The controller 44 determines the target steering angle such that the azimuth difference is reduced. For example, the controller 44 stores data defining the relationship between the azimuth difference and the target steering angle, and determines the target steering angle from the azimuth difference by referring to the data.

[0031] In step S105, the controller 44 outputs a command signal to the actuator 33a. The controller 44 outputs a command signal corresponding to the target steering angle to the actuator 33a. Thus, the actuator 33a rotates the outboard motor 2 together with the chiller handle 21 about the steering shaft 19 so that the steering angle of the outboard motor 2 becomes the target steering angle.

[0032] In the steering device 3a according to the present embodiment described above, the actuator 33a is arranged together with the chiller handle 21. The actuator 33a steers the outboard motor 2 by rotating the chiller handle 21. Therefore, the steering device 3a can be easily mounted on a small boat.

[0033] Further, the steering device 3a can be easily realized by retrofitting the actuator unit 31 and the link member 32a to the existing chiller handle 21.

[0034] The link member 32a blocks transmission of the driving force from the actuator 33a to the chiller handle 21 at the blocking position. Therefore, when the operator manually steers the outboard motor 2 with the chiller handle 21, the link member 32a may be moved to the blocking position to operate the chiller handle 21 without receiving resistance from the actuator 33 a. Thereby, the operator can perform steering with the chiller handle 21 with a light operating force.

[0035] In the steering device 3a, a part of the actuator 33a is disposed in the tube 27. Therefore, the actuator 33a can be prevented from interfering with the bracket at the time of the tilt operation of the outboard motor 2.

[0036] In the steering device 3a according to the first embodiment described above, the actuator 33a is an electric actuator, but the steering device may include a hydraulic actuator. FIG. 6 is a top view showing a steering device 3b according to the second embodiment.

[0037] As illustrated in FIG. 6, the steering device 3b according to the second embodiment includes a hydraulic actuator 33b. The actuator 33b includes a motor 45, a hydraulic pump 46, a piston rod 47, and a control valve 48. The hydraulic pump 46 is connected to the motor 45. The hydraulic pump 46 is driven by the motor 45 to discharge the hydraulic fluid.

[0038] A portion of the piston rod 47 is disposed in the tube 27. The piston rod 47 divides the inside of the tube 27 into a first chamber 271 and a second chamber 272. The control valve 48 switches between supply and discharge of hydraulic fluid from the hydraulic pump 46 to the first chamber 271 and the second chamber 272. The control valve 48 and the motor 45 are controlled by a controller (not illustrated).

[0039] The hydraulic fluid from the hydraulic pump 46 is supplied to the first chamber 271, and the hydraulic fluid is discharged from the second chamber 272, whereby the piston rod 47 extends. The hydraulic fluid from the hydraulic pump 46 is supplied to the second chamber 272, and the hydraulic fluid is discharged from the first chamber 271, whereby the piston rod 47 contracts. Thus, the piston rod 47 expands and contracts by the hydraulic pressure from the hydraulic pump 46 and moves left and right with respect to the tube 27. Thereby, the outboard motor 2 is rotated leftward and rightward around the steering shaft 19 together with the chiller handle 21. The other configuration of the steering device 3b according to the second embodiment is the same as that of the steering device 3a according to the first embodiment.

[0040] In the embodiment described above, the link member 32a is movable to the connection position and the blocking position. However, a member different from the link member 32a may be movable to the connection position and the blocking position. FIG. 7 is a top view of a steering device 3c according to the third embodiment. As shown in FIG. 7, in the actuator 33c of the steering device 3c according to the third embodiment, one of the plurality of gears 39a, 39b, 39c is movably disposed at the connection position and the blocking position.

[0041] Specifically, the plurality of gears 39a, 39b, 39c include an input gear 39a, an output gear 39b, and a link gear 39c. The input gear 39a is fixed to the output shaft of the motor 35. The output gear 39b is fixed to the screw member 36. The link gear 39c is detachably connected to the actuator 33. That is, the link gear 39c is movably disposed at the connection position and the blocking position.

[0042] The link gear 39c meshes with the input gear 39a and the output gear 39b at the connection position. Therefore, the link gear 39c transmits the driving force from the actuator 33 to the chiller handle 21 by transmitting the rotation of the motor 35 to the screw member 36 at the connection position. The link gear 39c is released from meshing between the input gear 39a and the output gear 39b at the blocking position (39c 'in FIG. 7). Therefore, the link gear 39c blocks the transmission of the driving force from the actuator 33 to the chiller handle 21 at the blocking position. The other configuration of the steering device 3c according to the third embodiment is the same as that of the steering device 3a according to the first embodiment.

[0043] In the steering device 3c according to the third embodiment, when the link gear 39c is at the connection position, the rotation of the motor 35 is transmitted to the screw member 36, and the piston rod 38 expands and contracts. Thus, the outboard motor 2 is rotated about the steering shaft 19 together with the chiller handle 21. In addition, when the operator manually steers the outboard motor 2 with the chiller handle 21, the link gear 39c may be moved to the blocking position to operate the chiller handle 21 without receiving resistance from the actuator 33c. Thereby, the operator can perform steering with the chiller handle 21 with a light operating force.

[0044] In the embodiment described above, the actuator is fixedly arranged on the hull 101 via the bracket 11. However, the actuator may be fixedly arranged on the chiller handle 21. FIG. 8 is a side view of a steering device 3d according to the fourth embodiment. FIG. 9 is a top view of the steering device 3d according to the fourth embodiment.

[0045] As illustrated in FIG. 8, the actuator 33d of the steering device 3d according to the fourth embodiment is disposed in the chiller handle 21. In detail, the actuator 33d is disposed in the chiller main body 23. As illustrated in FIG. 8, the controller 44 may be disposed in the chiller handle 21. In addition, the operation switch 43 may be attached to the chiller handle 21.

[0046] As illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9, the link member 32d of the steering device 3d is a wire connecting the actuator 33d and the hull 101. The actuator 33d expands and contracts the link member 32d. FIG. 10 is a view showing the internal structure of the actuator 33d. As illustrated in FIG. 10, the actuator 33d includes a motor 51, a gear box 52, a screw member 53, a movable member 54, a piston rod 55, and a cylinder 56.

[0047] The motor 51 is, for example, an electric motor. The screw member 53 is, for example, a ball screw. The screw member 53 is connected to the motor 51 via a gear (not illustrated) in the gear box 52. The movable member 54 is a nut and is screwed with the screw member 53. The piston rod 55 is connected to the movable member 54, and moves in the axial direction of the cylinder 56 together with the movable member 54. The motor 51, the gear box 52, the screw member 53, the movable member 54, and at least a part of the piston rod 55 are disposed in the cylinder 56. The movable member 54 and the piston rod 55 are disposed movably with respect to the cylinder 56.

[0048] The rotation of the motor 51 is transmitted to the screw member 53 through the gear in the gear box 52, and thereby the screw member 53 is rotated. When the movable member 54 is moved in the axial direction of the cylinder 56 by the rotation of the screw member 53, the piston rod 55 expands and contracts relative to the cylinder 56. The link member 32d is connected to the piston rod 55, and the link member 32d is expanded and contracted by the expansion and contraction of the piston rod 55.

[0049] As illustrated in FIG. 9, the tip end 323 of the link member 32d is connected to the bracket 11. In detail, the tip end 323 of the link member 32d is connected to the second bracket 26. The second bracket 26 is provided with a connection portion 57. The tip end 323 of the link member 32d is detachably attached to the connection portion 57. The state in which the tip end 323 of the link member 32d is attached to the connection portion 57 means that the link member 32d is located at the connection position. The state in which the tip end 323 of the link member 32d is removed from the connection portion 57 means that the link member 32d is located at the blocking position.

[0050] The connection portion 57 is, for example, a shaft protruding from the second bracket 26. The tip end 323 of the link member 32d is provided with a hole, and the link member 32d can be pivotably and detachably attached to the connection portion 57 by inserting the shaft into the hole of the tip end 323 of the link member 32d.

[0051] However, the tip end 323 of the link member 32d may be connected not only to the second bracket 26 but also to another part such as the first bracket 25. Alternatively, the tip end 323 of the link member 32d may be directly connected to the hull 101 such as a transom of the hull 101.

[0052] When the link member 32d is expanded by the actuator 33d, the length of the link member 32d between the actuator 33d and the connection portion 57 is increased. As a result, as illustrated in FIG. 11A, the outboard motor 2 is rotated counterclockwise in top view together with the chiller handle 21. When the link member 32d is contracted by the actuator 33d, the length of the link member 32d between the actuator 33d and the connection portion 57 becomes short. Thereby, as illustrated in FIG. 11B, the outboard motor 2 is rotated clockwise in top view together with the chiller handle 21. Thus, the outboard motor 2 rotates leftward and rightward with the chiller handle 21 as the link member 32d expands and contracts by the actuator 33d.

[0053] The actuator may be disposed not only in the chiller handle 21 but also outside the chiller handle 21. FIG. 12 is a top view of a steering device 3e according to the fifth embodiment. In the steering device 3e according to the fifth embodiment, the actuator 33e is fixed to the arm 22 of the chiller handle 21. The actuator 33e includes a cylinder 61 and a piston rod 62 that extends and contracts relative to the cylinder 61. The actuator 33e may be an electric actuator as in the first embodiment described above. Alternatively, the actuator 33e may be a hydraulic actuator as in the second embodiment described above.

[0054] The link member 32e of the steering device 3e connects the piston rod 62 and the bracket 11. The link member 32e is, for example, a hook-like member illustrated in FIG. 13A and FIG. 13B. The link member 32e is rotatably supported at the end of the clamp bolt 111 of the bracket 11. As illustrated in FIG. 12, a circumferentially extending recess 63 is provided on the outer peripheral surface of the tip of the piston rod 62. As illustrated in FIG. 13A, the link member 32e locks in the recess 63 at the connection position. As a result, the piston rod 62 is connected to the bracket 11, and the chiller handle 21 and the outboard motor 2 rotate leftward and rightward in accordance with the expansion and contraction of the piston rod 62.

[0055] By rotating around the clamp bolt 111, the link member 32e moves from the connection position illustrated in FIG. 13A to the blocking position illustrated in FIG. 13B. When the link member 32e is in the blocking position, the link member 32e is disengaged from the recess 63, whereby the connection between the piston rod 62 and the bracket 11 is released. Thereby, the operator can perform steering with the chiller handle 21 with a light operating force.

[0056] The link member 32e may be rotatably supported by the bracket 11 or another portion of the hull 101 as well as the clamp bolt 111. Alternatively, the link member 32e may be rotatably supported at the tip of the piston rod 62.

[0057] The actuator may be attached directly to the hull 101. FIG. 14 is a top view of a steering device 3f according to the sixth embodiment. As illustrated in FIG. 14, in the steering device 3f according to the sixth embodiment, the actuator 33f is attached to the transom 4 of the hull 101. The steering device 3f includes a housing 64 attached to the transom 4. The actuator 33f is disposed in the housing 34.

[0058] The other configuration of the steering device 3f according to the sixth embodiment is the same as that of the steering device 3a according to the first embodiment. Although not illustrated, a controller for controlling the actuator 33f may also be disposed in the housing 34.

[0059] Embodiments of the present invention have been explained above. However, the present invention is not limited to the aforementioned embodiments, and a variety of changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0060] The process for controlling the steering device 3a described in the first embodiment may be performed in the steering devices 3b to 3f according to the first to sixth embodiments. The process for controlling the steering devices 3a to 3f may be changed. For example, the steering devices 3a to 3f may rotate the outboard motor 2 to the left or right according to the operation of the operation switch 43 by the operator.

[0061] In the hydraulic actuator as in the second embodiment, a bypass circuit may be provided in the hydraulic circuit. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 15, the steering device 3b may include a bypass circuit 65, a valve body 66, and an open/close lever 67. The bypass circuit 65 causes the first chamber 271 and the second chamber 272 to communicate with each other. The valve body 66 opens and closes the bypass circuit 65 in response to the operation of the open/close lever 67. The open/close lever 67 is switchable between the connection position and the blocking position.

[0062] The valve body 66 closes the bypass circuit 65 when the open/close lever 67 is in the connection position. As a result, the piston rod 38 expands and contracts due to the hydraulic pressure from the hydraulic pump 46, so that the outboard motor 2 together with the chiller handle 21 rotates left and right around the steering shaft 19.

[0063] When the open/close lever 67 is in the blocking position, the valve body 66 opens the bypass circuit 65. Therefore, when the operator manually steers the outboard motor 2 with the chiller handle 21, switching the valve body 66 to the blocking position can reduce the resistance caused by the hydraulic pressure from the actuator 33. Thereby, the operator can perform steering with the chiller handle 21 with a light operating force.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY



[0064] The steering device and the outboard motor unit according to the present invention can be easily mounted on a small boat, and can be easily operated manually.

REFERENCE SIGNS LIST



[0065] 
19
Steering shaft
2
Outboard motor
3a-3f
Steering device
21
Chiller handle
33a-33f
Actuator
32a, 32d, 32e
Link member
27
Tube
11
Bracket
35
Motor
36
Screw member
37
Movable member
46
Hydraulic pump
47
Piston rod
44
Controller
43
Operation switch
34
Housing
1
Outboard motor unit



Claims

1. A steering device for an outboard motor supported by a hull rotatably around a steering axis, comprising:

a chiller handle attached to the outboard motor;

an actuator configured to rotate the chiller handle about the steering axis; and

a link member movably disposed at a connection position for transmitting a driving force from the actuator to the chiller handle, and at a blocking position for blocking transmission of the driving force from the actuator to the chiller handle.


 
2. The steering device according to claim 1, wherein the link member is detachably connected to the chiller handle.
 
3. The steering device according to claim 1, wherein the link member is detachably connected to the actuator.
 
4. The steering device according to claim 1, further comprising:

a tube rotatably supporting the outboard motor about a tilt axis; and

a bracket attaching the outboard motor to the hull; wherein

at least a portion of the actuator is disposed within the tube.


 
5. The steering device according to claim 4, wherein the actuator includes
an electric motor,
a ball screw disposed in the tube and connected to the electric motor, and
a movable member screwed with the ball screw and moved in the axial direction of the ball screw by rotation of the ball screw.
 
6. The steering device according to claim 4, wherein the actuator includes
a hydraulic pump, and
a piston rod disposed in the tube and hydraulically expanded and contracted by the hydraulic pump.
 
7. The steering device according to claim 6, wherein the piston rod divides the inside of
the tube into a first chamber and a second chamber, and
the piston rod includes
a bypass circuit connecting the first chamber and the second chamber, and
a valve body that opens and closes the bypass circuit in accordance with an operation of the link member.
 
8. The steering device according to claim 1, wherein the actuator is disposed in the chiller handle.
 
9. The steering device according to claim 8, wherein the link member connects the actuator and the hull, and
the actuator extends and retracts the link member.
 
10. The steering device according to claim 9, wherein the link member is a wire.
 
11. The steering device according to claim 8, further comprising:
a controller connected to the actuator and disposed within the chiller handle.
 
12. The steering device according to claim 11, further comprising:
an operation member attached to the chiller handle for setting control by the controller.
 
13. The steering device according to claim 1, further comprising:

a housing attached to a transom of the hull; wherein

the actuator is disposed within the housing.


 
14. The steering device according to claim 13, further comprising:
a controller connected to the actuator and disposed within the housing.
 
15. The steering device according to claim 1, wherein the actuator is connected to the chiller handle at a position between a tip of the chiller handle and the steering shaft.
 
16. An outboard motor unit comprising:

an outboard motor; and

a steering device rotatably supported on a hull about a steering axis, wherein

the steering device includes

a chiller handle attached to the outboard motor,

an actuator configured to rotate the chiller handle about the steering axis, and

a link member movably disposed at a connection position for transmitting a driving force from the actuator to the chiller handle, and at a blocking position for blocking transmission of the driving force from the actuator to the chiller handle.


 




Drawing

















































Search report







Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description