THE PRESENT INVENTION relates to a seat belt buckle arrangement and
more particularly relates to a seat belt buckle arrangement intended for use in
It is now conventional to provide seat belts for use in a motor car,
the seat belts each being provided with a tongue which is to be inserted into a
Where such a seat belt is fitted to the front seats of motor vehicles,
it is common for the buckle to be mounted on a rigid steel strap, or on a substantially
rigid wire, so that the buckle is always in a suitable position, adjacent the
side of the seat, with an open mouth of the buckle being readily accessible to
facilitate the insertion of the tongue into the buckle.
It is now becoming more common to fit seat belts to the rear seats
of motor vehicles. It is also becoming common for the rear seats of vehicles to
be adapted to be folded down to increase the load-carrying capacity of the vehicle.
Such folding seats are present in motor cars of the "estate car" type and are also
present in motor cars of the "hatch back" type. Indeed such seats are sometimes
found on motor cars of the type which have a separate boot.
When a safety belt system is fitted to a rear seat of this folding
type it is not possible to utilise a rigid steel plate or a substantially stiff
wire to hold the buckle for the safety belt in such a position that the mouth
of the buckle is presented in such a way that the mouth is readily accessible to
receive the tongue of the safety belt. Instead it is conventional for such safety
belts to be mounted on portions of webbing strap, often made of the same material
as the rest of the safety belt. The buckles thus lie relatively loosely on the
seat, which facilitates the folding of the seat, but does not facilitate the introduction
of the tongue into the safety belt. Indeed, with the buckles lying loosely on
the seat it is often the case that a person getting into the rear seat actually
sits on the buckle, and may not then be able to fit the tongue into the buckle
without significant inconvenience. In such a case the person may not even bother
to wear the safety belt, which is clearly undesirable.
It is also to be understood that the rear seats of motor vehicles
are often designed to accommodate three people, and if such a seat is provided
with safety belts, with buckles substantially rigidly mounted in position protruding
above the level of the seat squab, any person who is to occupy the middle seat
must effectively climb over at least one projecting seat belt buckle. This can
be very inconvenient.
Thus the present invention seeks to provide a seat belt buckle arrangement
intended especially for use in the rear seat of a motor vehicle which overcomes
the disadvantages of prior proposed buckles as described above. However, a seat
belt buckle arrangement of the invention may be used with a buckle on any seat.
According to this invention there is provided a safety belt arrangement
incorporating a buckle defining an open mouth to receive a tongue, the buckle comprising
means to retain the tongue therein, the buckle being connected by a flexible connection
to an anchoring point on a motor vehicle, wherein said flexible connection comprises
two or more interconnected rigid open links and that a resilient member is provided
connected to the anchoring point and to the buckle adapted to hold the buckle
in a position in which the open mouth of the buckle is presented to receive said
tongue, and to permit the buckle to move relatively freely in all directions.
In one embodiment said links form a chain, one end of which is connected
to the buckle and the link furthest from the buckle is associated with a bolt to
secure the flexible connection to the anchoring point. Alternatively one said
link is an apertured plate secured to the buckle, another link extending through
the aperture. Preferably said another link comprises an element which is secured
to the anchoring point and which has a projecting bight with two substantially
parallel arms, said bight passing through said apertures. Conveniently said element
is associated with a base plate, the arm of the bight remote from the anchoring
point passing through an aperture in the base plate.
Conveniently the resilient member is formed of rubber or rubber-like
material. Advantageously the resilient member is in the form of a sleeve surrounding
the flexible connection. Conveniently the sleeve is an integrally moulded sleeve.
Advantageously the end of the sleeve adjacent the buckle is closed,
so that the sleeve engages part of the buckle to present the buckle in a predetermined
Conveniently the end of the sleeve remote from the buckle is notched
to receive means connected to the anchoring point.
Alternatively the resilient member is an elongate strip of spring
metal. Conveniently one end of the spring metal strip is mounted on the buckle
and the other end is secured directly or indirectly to the anchoring point.
In one embodiment the resilient member is a wire spring.
In order that the invention may be more readily understood, and so
that further features thereof may be appreciated, the invention will now be described,
by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
- FIGURE 1 is a diagrammatic side view of one embodiment of the invention, with
parts cut away;
- FIGURE 2 is a sectional view taken on line II-II of Figure 1;
- FIGURE 3 is a sectional view taken on line III-III of Figure 1;
- FIGURE 4 is a front view of another embodiment of the invention;
- FIGURE 5 is a side view of the embodiment of Figure 4;
- FIGURE 6 is a sectional view taken on the line VI-VI of Figure 5 with the position
of the buckles shown in phantom; and
- FIGURE 7 is a perspective view of part of the embodiment of Figures 4 to 6.
Referring to Figures 1 to 3 of the drawings it can be seen that one
example of a seat belt buckle arrangement in accordance with the invention comprises
a conventional buckle 1 adapted to receive the tongue of a safety belt. The buckle
comprises an outer housing, which defines a mouth 2 through which the tongue may
be introduced to the buckle. The buckle contains a mechanism adapted to engage
and retain the tongue until a release button is pressed. Buckles of this type are
The end of the buckle remote from the open mouth is securely connected
to a connection means 3 comprising one of a plurality of substantially rigid interconnected
open links, the links being in the form of a chain 4. The link 5 end of the chain
remote from the buckle 1 is intended to be secured to an appropriate anchoring
point formed on a motor vehicle body, by means of a bolt 6. The bolt may be associated
with an appropriate washer, which may be flanged to engage the link 5 of the chain.
The link 5 is cranked whereas the remaining links are substantially flat oval
The chain is, of course, flexible in that the links can move relative
to each other, and the links of the chain are so designed that the chain is strong
enough to withstand any force that may be applied thereto under accident conditions.
Surrounding the chain is a shaped sleeve 8 formed of a resiliently
deformable material, such as a moulded rubber material. At the end adjacent the
buckle, the sleeve is substantially closed 9, so that part of the sleeve engages
the part of the buckle remote from the mouth of the buckle. The sleeve is of generally
cylindrical configuration, and at the end of the sleeve remote from the buckle,
the sleeve defines an open mouth 10 and part of the end end of the sleeve is cut
away or "notched" the notch (11) being dimensioned to receive the last link of
the chain which is connected to the bolt.
It is to be understood that the sleeve 8 will, in ordinary circumstances,
stand erect, the open end of the sleeve engaging part of the motor vehicle adjacent
the anchoring point to which the chain is connected, the sleeve thus serving to
hold the buckle in an erect position with the mouth of the buckle presented in
such a way that insertion of the tongue into the buckle is facilitated. However,
the sleeve is resiliently deformable and the buckle is thus able to move relatively
freely in all directions, as indicated by the arrows 12, 13, 14, if sufficient
force is applied to the buckle to deform the sleeve. Thus if, for example, the
buckle is mounted in position on a rear seat of a motor vehicle, with the buckle
projecting up above the squab of the seat, and if a person wishes to slide along
the squab of the seat past the buckle, the buckle will be moved, against the resilient
bias of the sleeve, from its initial projecting position, so that the buckle will
not significantly inconvenience a person sliding across the seat. However, when
that person has slid across the seat, the sleeve will re-assume its initial position,
thus again holding the buckle in a position where the mouth of the buckle is readily
accessible to the tongue of the buckle.
If a person accidentally sits on top of the buckle, the sleeve 8
will resiliently collapse, so that the person will not suffer severe discomfort.
If the buckle is mounted on a foldable seat, as the seat is folded the resilient
sleeve will be deformed so that the buckle can occupy an appropriate position when
the seat is in the folded condition. However, when the seat is returned to the
upright position the buckle will return to the erect position.
Whilst the invention has been described above with reference to one
embodiment in which the chain has only a few links it is to be appreciated that
the chain may have more links in certain circumstances, or may have fewer links.
Also, whilst the invention has been described with reference to an embodiment in
which a moulded cylindrical sleeve is utilised as a resilient member, it is to
be understood that the resilient member may take many different forms. For example,
the resilient member may be in the form of a resilient rod lying parallel with
the chain, or may be in the form of a resilient member in the form of a helix wrapped
helically around the chain.
Referring now to Figures 4 to 7 of the accompanying drawings a second
embodiment of the invention is illustrated. In this embodiment two buckles 15 are
provided, each of a conventional design and having a slot 16 to receive the tongue
mounted on a safety belt, and a push-button 17 operable to eject the tongue from
the buckle. Each buckle 15 has secured thereto and projecting therefrom an elongate
plate 18 which is provided with an elongate aperture 19 therein.
Passing through the aperture 19 is a bight 20 forced of two parallel
arms 21,22 which are formed on a securing element 23. The arms 21,22 are substantially
vertical and are substantially parallel, the upper ends of the arms being interconnected
by an arcuate portion 24. The arcuate portion 24 is illustrated as passing through
the lower part of the aperture 19.
The securing element 23 has a substantially horizontally extending
central portion 24&min; which is provided with an aperture through which passes
the shank 25 of an anchoring bolt 26. The other side of the securing element is
provided with a similar arrangement mounting the second buckle.
It is to be noted that mounted under the horizontal part 24&min;
of the securing element 23 is a horizontal part 27 of a mounting plate 28. The
shank 25 of the bolt 26 passes through an aperture formed in the central region
27 of the mounting plate 28.
The mounting plate 28 is of elongate form, the ends 29 being raised
above the level of the central portion 27. The raised regions 29 of the mounting
plate 28 are provided with apertures through which pass the free ends 30 of the
arms 22 of the bight portions 20.
The apertured plate 18, in combination with the bight 20, forms a
connection between the anchoring point and the buckle, this connection being flexible
in that the buckle may readily be moved relative to the anchoring point.
The buckle 15 is biassed towards the illustrated elevative position
by means of a resilient element formed by a strip 31 of springy or resilient metal.
One end 32 of the strip passes through the aperture 19. This end may be of "tee"
configuration so that the end of the strip engages the aperture and cannot be readily
disengaged therefrom. The other lower end 33 of the strip, which is again of "tee"
configuration, passes through an aperture formed in the free end 30 of the arm
Thus the springy strip effectively has one end connected to the buckle,
and the other end connected indirectly to the anchoring point. The springy strip
31 provides a resilient bias to the buckle 15, biassing the buckle to the presented
position. If a downward force is applied to the buckle 15, the buckle will move
downwardly, compressing the springy strip. The arcuate portion 24 of the bight
20 will thus effectively move upwardly within the aperture 19. The buckle 15 may
also be moved in a pivotal direction, for example in the direction indicated by
the arrow 34 in Figure 7. In this case the springy strip will again be compressed.
However, the buckle may be moved to a horizontal position and may then even be
It will be appreciated that many modifications may be effected to
the embodiment illustrated in Figures 4 to 7 of the accompanying drawings. For
example, the springy strip 31 may be replaced by a ire spring, preferably with
the same shape as a safety pin, so that the buckle can move downwardly and also
be moved in any pivotal direction.