Friday, April 4, 2014

An interesting unknown

This was a found curiosity that ballooned with enthusiasm. Anyone that knows me personally knows that I have the loyalty of an old dog. I'm faithful to brands, models, styles, colors, and principles. One of these is Jeeps, specifically Cherokees (the XJ Cherokee, not that new Italian-designed jellybean).

I knew that after Jeep had shuttered the Cherokee factory in mid-2001, the tooling and forms were sold to a firm somewhere in the middle east to be used for military vehicle production. To my knowledge, and the best of my googling, it never came to be. A variation of it was made in Beijing called the 2500, but I digress...

I gave a read to the Wikipedia page for the Jeep Cherokee, and noticed something that was either added recently by an enthusiast, or I had never seen before. Most likely the former, because I would have remembered this factoid:



I was immediately struck by this. In 14 years of driving a Cherokee, the spare tire placement has baffled me, and any other person who has owned or looked into the hatch of a Cherokee. The spare tire is prominently located vertically against a window. This is great if you have a flat. If you have never had a flat, it's the object you curse when things don't fit in the trunk. Most of the vehicle's initial reviews in '83/'84 note this, but the XJ was retired in 2001 with it's spare tire perched proudly in the boot. I knew Jeep had considered other options - an external mount was an aftermarket Mopar option from 1997-1999 for the newer body style, and a handful of 1987-1994 Cherokees came from the factory with a mounted swing-away. The switched in the early 90's from a bumper/body mount to a bumper-only mount. It was explored, but was never introduced into regular production.




 This article implies that an external mount was common before '97 (it wasn't), but it also gave me the name of someone who had come up with a unique solution. A name equates to a Google search for me, and into the rabbit hole I tumbled.

I searched for "Peter Gruich" and quickly found his resume online. A few things caught me, and this adds to his credibility, and presumably his ego. His resume is seven pages. SEVEN. And with a fairly small font too! Mostly in the vehicle design, having done work with Ford and Chrysler. I found his line about the Jeep Spare Tire Design, and headed down that road to find out more about his design worthy of a paragraph on the Wikipedia page of a vehicle that it had never actually been used on. I should note here that this fellow is very much an Engineer, as his long resume (yes, I read the whole thing) is riddled with grammatical errors and typos. Someone who doesn't proofread his resume and catch some of the glaring typos must be some kind of mad genius. The remarks about the work on the Cherokee is on page three, "...devised a solution and had it designed for fabrication in one week... patent applied for". Next stop, Google Patents!

There is no record of Gruich ever applying for a patent for that part. He has extensive patents, both personally, and as a contributor for corporate filings, but there is a gap in his applications and grants from 1994-1998. I wouldn't say he never actually applied for it, but any record of it is not available with my technological means. Based on the scant information on how it works and what made it novel, it appears his idea may have been previously patented by Edgar and Robert Burger from Valley Industries. Coincidentally, Valley was operating in the Detroit area in the mid-90's so it's reasonable to assume they were aware of each other.

But, Gruich does have some interesting patents. Especially:

Patent#4,749,149 - Single-hydraulic sustained-wing-batting Ornithopter coupled to a motorcycle. Who thinks of this, designs it, and patents it?!







1 comment:

Johnny Boots said...

I too just re-read the article on the XJ and noticed the additions. Mainly because I'd like a nifty rear tire carrier for my 98 XJ.

Fun Read!