The present invention relates to electrical apparatus for motor vehicles.
More specifically, the subject of the invention is an electrical
apparatus, in particular an alternator, which includes an end cap with an aperture
through which extends an output power terminal for connection with a substantially
rigid electric cable which must extend in a predetermined direction from this
Such a type or model of alternator is frequently fitted on different
models of motor vehicle in which, for various reasons, the electric power cable
connecting the alternator to the positive pole of the battery must extend in a
predetermined direction, which is often different from one model of vehicle to
Typically, such a power cable has a considerable cross section and
is thus rather rigid.
The connection between the alternator and the said cable is often
protected by an insulating cap fitted onto the cable or by elements integral with
the cap. The latter arrangement involves the manufacture of a plurality of caps
which differ according to the direction in which the said cable must extend once
installed, resulting in not inconsiderable problems and costs.
The object of the present invention is to provide an electrical apparatus,
and in particular an alternator for a motor vehicle, in which the direction in
which the said power cable must extend can be easily identified.
An additional object of the invention is to provide an arrangement
which enables the standardized manufacture of the aforesaid cap, without the need
for a plurality of caps which are different according to the direction along which
the said power cable has to extend once installed.
These and other objects are achieved by the invention by providing
electrical apparatus, and in particular an alternator, the main characteristics
of which are defined in the appended Claim 1.
Further characteristics and advantages of the invention will become
apparent from the detailed description which follows, provided purely by way of
non-limitative example, with reference to the appended drawings, in which:
- Figure 1 is a partially exploded partial perspective view of an alternator
according to the invention;
- Figure 2 is a perspective view of a protector element for an alternator according
to the invention; and
- Figure 3 is a front view of the protector element of Figure 2.
In Figure 1, an alternator for a motor vehicle is generally indicated
1. This alternator includes a support casing 2 with a cap 3 of electrically insulating
material connected to one end thereof.
The cap 3 has a substantially circular aperture 4 with an electric
power output terminal 5 passing through it, this being in the example illustrated
a threaded metal pin. The terminal 5 is intended to be connected to a pole of the
battery of a motor vehicle by means of an electric power cable 6. The cross section
of this cable is large and rather rigid.
The end portion 6a of the cable 6 is intended for connection to the
terminal 5 and has a cable terminal 7 with an eye, for fitting onto the terminal
The connection of the cable 6 to the terminal 5 is secured by a nut
8, for example.
In order to comply with the lay-out in the engine compartment of
the motor vehicle, the end portion 6a of the cable 6 must extend from the terminal
5 in a predetermined direction, indicated by a broken line 9 in Figure 1.
In the drawings, a protector element of electrically insulating material,
indicated 10, is shaped as a substantially annular band with an interruption 12
in its wall 11. This interruption is wider, in a circumferential direction, than
the cross-section of the cable 6.
One end of the protector element 10 has a plurality of external projections
13 aligned around its circumference.
The protector element 10 is preferably made of flexible plastics
material, so that it is resiliently compressible.
The ends of the wall 11 of the protector element 10 form respective
extensions 14 which face each other and may be pressed towards each other manually
thereby causing the protector element to contract.
For convenience, a resilient member 15 can be incorporated into the
protector element 10 which tends to counter the compression of the protector element.
The resilient member 15 may be formed, for example, in one piece with the protector
element 10 or may consist of a shaped metal wire incorporated into the protector
element 10 during moulding of this latter.
A seat or notch 16 is formed at the end of the protector element
10 opposite the end bearing the projections 13.
An integral projection 17, essentially parallel to the terminal 5
(Figure 1) extends from the inner face of the cap 3, adjacent the aperture 4. The
face of the projection 17 facing the terminal 5 has a projection or tooth 18 the
dimensions of which enable it to engage the notch 16 in the protector element
This element can be mounted in the aperture 4 in the cap 3 after
being compressed by means of pressure on the extensions 14, as shown in Figure
3. In its compressed state, the protector element 10 can easily be inserted through
the aperture 4 in the cap 3 until the projections 13 engage beyond the edge of
this aperture. Subsequent release of the extensions 14 allows the protector element
10 to expand once again thanks to its own resilience and to the action of the
resilient member 15 incorporated in it.
The protector element 10 thus mounted in the cap is axially locked
but rotatable about the axis of its cylindrical wall 11. Rotation of the element
10 mounted in the aperture of the cap enables the seat or notch 16 and the engagement
tooth 18 to be positioned so that they can be coupled or engaged.
The seat or notch 16 in the protector element 10 is formed in an
angular position whereby, when the said element is rotated in the aperture 4 and
the tooth 18 snap-engages the said seat or notch, the protector element 10 is locked
into an angular position in which the interruption 12 is facing in the predetermined
direction 9 along which the initial portion 6a of the cable 6 is required to extend.
Once the protector element 10 is locked in this position, the cable 6 may be coupled
to the terminal 5 of the alternator 1 and secured thereto by means of the nut 8.
Once the alternator 1 is fitted in the engine compartment of a motor
vehicle, the protector element 10 can be correctly positioned even when the person
executing the task cannot see the cap and the protector element directly.
In addition, in the case of an alternator suitable for installing
in different models of motor vehicle in which the power cable 6 extends in different
directions, it is possible to manufacture a single type or model of cap and associate
it with different protector elements 10 having the seat or notch 16 in different
A considerable level of standardization is thus achieved, thereby
reducing the costs involved in meeting the requirements of different lay-outs.
Furthermore, it is extremely easy to manufacture protector elements
with seats or notches in different positions, using a single mould with movable
The principle of the invention remaining unchanged, it is naturally
possible to vary widely the embodiments and manufacturing details thereof from
those described and illustrated purely by way of non-limitative example, without
departing thereby from the scope of the invention, as claimed in the appended
The invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiment illustrated,
in which the protector element 10 has a notch and the cap 3 has a tooth. The scope
of the invention also covers an arrangement whereby the tooth is formed on the
protector element and the seat or notch is integrally formed with the cap.
Furthermore, the invention is not limited to embodiments in which
a resilient member is associated with the protector element.