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Publication numberUS20030046778 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/237,240
Publication dateMar 13, 2003
Filing dateSep 6, 2002
Priority dateSep 7, 2001
Publication number10237240, 237240, US 2003/0046778 A1, US 2003/046778 A1, US 20030046778 A1, US 20030046778A1, US 2003046778 A1, US 2003046778A1, US-A1-20030046778, US-A1-2003046778, US2003/0046778A1, US2003/046778A1, US20030046778 A1, US20030046778A1, US2003046778 A1, US2003046778A1
InventorsRobert Sicurelli
Original AssigneeSicurelli Robert J.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Adaptable shoe tree to stabilize backless and other shores
US 20030046778 A1
Abstract
A shoe tree for backless and other shoes, includes an elongated insert member for longitudinal installation into a the toe portion of a backless shoe. This insert member stretches at least the toe, wherein the toe insert has a mechanically or air expandable form-fitting toe block which is receivable within the closed or open toe portion of the backless shoe. The toe block fits fitting into and expansively stresses the toe portion of the backless shoe. To compensate for the fact that the backless shoe has no heel for the shoe tree to push against, this insert member may have an optional user controllable holder to hold the toe insert member in place and to stabilize the shape of the shoe. The shoe tree may be adapted for use with shoes with heels also.
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Claims(37)
I claim:
1. A shoe tree for backless shoes said backless shoes having a hollow front toe portion and a flat, rear heal-portion, comprising:
an elongated insert member for longitudinal installation into a backless shoe, said insert member having opposite toe and heel ends and a stretching shaft extending therebetween, said toe end having a form-fitting toe block receivable within the closed toe portion of said backless shoe, said toe block fitting into and expansively stressing said closed toe portion of the backless shoe;
said insert member having user controllable clamp disposed near a heel end of the backless shoe, said clamp removably affixing said insert member in a user-selected installed position on the backless shoe.
2. The shoe tree of claim 1, wherein:
said elongated insert member comprises at least two centrally articulated members, said central articulation members comprising a hinge and threaded shaft-and-nut length adjuster, said length adjuster for user selection of a desired magnitude of force of said expansively stressing said closed toe portion of the backless shoe.
3. The shoe tree of claim 1, wherein said clamp grasps respective top and bottom portions of the heel of the backless shoe.
4. The shoe tree of claim 3, wherein said clamp grasps respective left and right side portions of the heel of the backless shoe.
5. The shoe tree of claim 4, wherein said clamp simultaneously grasps said respective top, bottom, left and right side portions of the heel of the backless shoe.
6. The shoe tree of claim 5, wherein said clamp comprises user-operable wing-nut and threaded shaft means, said threaded shaft means having a suitable compression end-plate contact grasping the heel portion of the backless shoe.
7. The shoe tree of claim 5, wherein said clamp comprises user-openable and closable contact adhesion straps, said straps surrounding and grasping the heel portion of the backless shoe.
8. The shoe tree of claim 7, wherein said adhesion straps comprise user-openable and closable hook-and-loop fastener means; said hook-and-loop-furnished straps surrounding and grasping the heel portion of the backless shoe.
9. The shoe tree of claim 1, wherein said clamp comprises a user-openable and closable spring clamp simultaneously grasping with force suitable to lock together said heel end of said insert member and the heel portion of the backless shoe.
10. A shoe tree for backless shoes, comprising:
an elongated insert member for longitudinal installation into a backless shoe, said insert member having a form-fitting toe block receivable within the closed toe portion of the backless shoe.
11. The shoe tree as in claim 10 wherein said toe block comprises a pre-inflated compressible air bladder expansively stressing said closed toe portion of the backless shoe.
12. The shoe tree of claim 10, wherein said toe block comprises a solid lightweight cellular compressible material expansively stressing said closed toe portion of the backless shoe.
13. The shoe tree as in claim 12, wherein said lightweight cellular compressible material is foam.
14. The shoe tree as in claim 12, wherein said lightweight cellular compressible material is latex foam rubber.
15. The shoe tree as in claim 12, wherein said lightweight cellular compressible material is rubber.
16. The shoe tree as in claim 10, wherein said toe block comprises an inflatable compressible air-bladder controlled by a user controllable pump introducing air through a valve.
17. The shoe tree as in claim 10, wherein said toe block is a closed sleeve filled with discrete particle stuffings.
18. The shoe tree as in claim 10, wherein said closed toe portion comprises an air bladder portion adjacent to a solid lightweight compressible material.
19. The shoe tree of claim 10, further comprising a user controllable clamp disposed near a heal end of said backless shoe, said clamp connected to said form-fitting toe block by a shaft.
20. The shoe tree of claim 10, wherein said clamp grasps respective toe and bottom portions of the heel of the backless shoe.
21. The shoe tree of claim 10, wherein said clamp grasps respective left and right side portions of the heel of the backless shoe.
22. The shoe tree as in claim 19, wherein said clamp grasps respective top, bottom, left and right portions of the heel of the backless shoe.
23. The shoe tree of claim 19, wherein said clamp comprises user-operable wing-nut and threaded shaft, said threaded shaft having a suitable compression end-plate contact-grasping the heel portion of the backless shoe.
24. The shoe tree of claim 19, wherein said clamp comprises user-openable and closable contact adhesion straps said straps surrounding and grasping the heel portion of the backless shoe.
25. The shoe tree of claim 24, wherein said adhesion straps comprise user-openable and closable hook-and-loop fasteners said hook-and-loop-furnished straps surrounding and grasping the heel portion of the backless shoe.
26. The shoe tree of claim 19, wherein said clamp comprises a user-openable and closable spring clamp simultaneously grasping with force suitable to lock together said heel end of said insert member and the heel portion of the backless shoe.
27. A shoe tree for backless shoes comprising a form fitting toe block expandable within a toe portion of the backless shoe, said for a fitting toe block comprising a pluality of members movable away from each other and toward an inside surface of the toe portion of the backless shoe.
28. The shoe tree as in claim 27, wherein said movable toe block members are urged apart from each other by a hinged piece having at least one pivot point and connecting arms controlled by depression of a plunger towards said pivot point.
29. A shoe tree for a shoe having a toe portion and a heel portion, said shoe tree comprising a form fitting compressible member have a toe portion urged away from a heel portion by a compressible connecting portion.
30. The shoe tree as in claim 29, wherein said shoe tree is a pre inflated compressible air bladder expansingly stressing within said shoe.
31. The shoe tree as in claim 29, where said shoe tree comprises a solid, lightweight cellular compressible material expansively stressing within said shoe.
32. The shoe tree as in claim 31, wherein said lightweight cellular compressible material is foam.
33. The shoe tree as in claim 31, wherein said lightweight cellular compressible material is latex foam rubber.
34. The shoe tree as in claim 31, wherein said lightweight cellular compressible material is rubber
35. The shoe tree as in claim 29, wherein said shoe tree comprises an inflatable compressible air-bladder controlled by a user controllable pump introducing air through a valve.
36. The shoe tree as in claim 29, wherein said shoe tree is a closed sleeve filled with discrete particle stuffings.
37. The shoe tree as in claim 29, wherein said closed shoe tree comprises an air bladder portion adjacent to a solid lightweight compressible material.
Description
    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application is based upon provisional application serial No. 60/317,831 of Sep. 7, 2001.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to shoe trees to stabilize the shapes of shoes in storage.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    Traditional shoe trees are used to prevent sagging and shape changes in footwear. They are also used to stretch the material of the shoes. The mechanism by which these devices function is a force pushing against the toe and heel areas of the shoe. The force is typically developed by means of a spring, ratchet, or clamping device that creates a linear force against the walls of the shoe. This force can be directed in different directions. The heel and toe sections of these traditional shoes trees can be split into sections that spread laterally to provide support to the inner and outer surfaces of the shoe. These sections are forced against the top, front, rear, and sides of the shoe by well known means as the vector of force changes from linear, front and back; to linear-lateral front to back.
  • [0004]
    All of these devices have worked well throughout the years using the front of the shoe and the back of the shoe to direct the forces of the shoe trees linearly and laterally to effect the desired function.
  • [0005]
    The problem with traditional devices is that they work only with footwear that has a front toe portion and a back heel portion. These devices are difficult to adjust and clumsy.
  • [0006]
    Backless shoes with designer leather details, such as made by Cole Haan, cannot utilize a conventional shoe tree having a stabilizing member applying force to both a toe and heel portion of the shoe.
  • [0007]
    Among related patents include U.S. Pat. No. 5,487,198 of Mueller which discloses a two piece shoe tree for backless sandals. However, Mueller '198 does not describe a shoe tree without a heel block to stabilize the backless sandal.
  • [0008]
    In addition U.S. Pat. No. 5,588,227 of Goldston and U.S. Pat. No. 5,765,298 of Potter are examples of athletic shoes with air pumps to inflate ankle or tongue portions of the shoe.
  • [0009]
    However, neither Goldston '227 nor Potter '298 describe adaptable shoe trees for shoes, especially backless shoes.
  • OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION
  • [0010]
    It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a shoe tree which can adapt to stabilize the shape of a shoe.
  • [0011]
    It is also an object of the present invention to provide a shoe tree which utilizes compressive force to promote shape stabilization of a toe portion of a backless shoe.
  • [0012]
    Other objects which become apparent from the following description of the present invention.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0013]
    In keeping with these objects and others which may become apparent, the present invention is a shoe tree which is adaptable for conventional shoes; as well as for backless shoes, sandals and the like.
  • [0014]
    As noted, an object of this invention is to provide a means of maintaining or changing the shape of shoes especially backless shoes. This invention is a shoe tree that functions with backless shoes as well, as conventional shoes. In the backless shoe embodiment it works by providing the necessary anchorage at the backless portion of the shoe. A backless shoe has no means of activating and holding the energy of the spring or other mechanism into the shoe.
  • [0015]
    For a traditional shoe tree to work, the device must be wedged into the shoes front and back areas. A backless shoes has no means of wedging and therefore no means of providing the forces needed to support the shoe in all directions because no opposite equal force can be achieved. However, this invention can provide all of the desired functions of traditional devices by optionally providing a fixed point at the back of the shoe. This fixed part is achieved by using a clamp or strapping mechanism that holds the tree in place by securing it from under the heel.
  • [0016]
    In one embodiment the toe piece of the shoe tree does not need any modification and can function in traditional ways; spreading and supporting the shoe because of the fixed point in the heel has been achieved. Alternative ways of fixing the heel part of the shoe tree can be found in different ways:
  • [0017]
    a) use of elastic VELCRO ® binding;
  • [0018]
    b) use of non-elastic VELCRO ® binding, such as snap/buckle binding;
  • [0019]
    c) use of rubberized bottom of heel piece to effect better frictional force;
  • [0020]
    d) a clamping system that attaches to the heel at or near of sole near clamp (spring type);
  • [0021]
    e) clamping system that attaches to the sides of the sole of the shoe;
  • [0022]
    f) these modifications can be added to existing trees with a kit;
  • [0023]
    g) a toe-only shoe tree with an expandable toe insert; and,
  • [0024]
    h) a shoe tree has an expandable toe insert that is essentially a traditional shoe tree in shape and appearances but which has also a heel portion.
  • [0025]
    In the latter two embodiments, the toe piece is an air chamber that is effectively a similar shape of a traditional toe piece of a shoe tree. The difference is that it conforms its shape to the toe portion, such as by being able to be inflated in a micro pump similar to those found in basketballs and other sporting devices. In this embodiment, the toe piece of the bladder shoe tree is placed inside the shoe and the pump is used to inflate the shoe tree to a suitable size. The functional force of the toe piece against the inside walls of the shoe keeps it in place. There is no need for a heel fixed point. These can be made in various sizes. They will fit all types of shoes, backless and standard. An alternative configurations is a one shoe piece bladder tree that comes in shoe sizes. The micro pump can be placed in an accessible area. The bladder can be split into separate compartments to afford selective pressures against the inside walls of the shoe.
  • [0026]
    Alternatively the toe end can have a securing mechanism i.e. straps, springs, clamps etc, to further hold the shoe tree in place. These mechanisms can be moved by springs, scissors extenders, lateral extenders and plungers.
  • [0027]
    Therefore in one embodiment, a shoe tree made of a compressible material can be just a toe insert, or also alternatively can extend the length of the shoe, in an optional version for a shoe with both toe and heel portions.
  • [0028]
    In this method the toe piece and/or the heel piece are made from an compressible material, such as closed cell foam, which is slightly larger than the cavity to which it must support. The compression of the foam rubber and other spring like material supports the shoe. These will be inexpensive enough to include either the toe portion by itself or the entire shoe, if the shoe has a conventional heel portion.
  • [0029]
    Moreover, the wedge-shaped compressible foam can have an overlaying air-inflatable wrap wrapping around the upper portion of the wedge.
  • [0030]
    The shoe tree of the present invention enhances the stabilization of a backless shoe by incorporating an independent toe stabilizer. The addition of the toe stabilizer greatly enhances the shape of the backless shoe, while maintaining its utility as a shoe tree.
  • [0031]
    The use of clamps or compressible materials, such as for example, foam wedges, provide a function that a conventional shoe tree cannot do, namely to provide the shoe tree with a means to stabilize a backless shoe, which promotes its storage in a stable shape.
  • [0032]
    The important shaping function of the shoe tree is maintained with the unique toe stabilizing feature. The synergistic combination of the toe stabilization portion with or without the heel clamping portions provide beneficial effects for a backless shoe that are not possible with any other type of shoe tree.
  • [0033]
    Furthermore, for persons having slightly different feet, the shoe tree of the present invention can selectively stretch one of the shoes more than the other, by applying more stress thereto.
  • [0034]
    In addition, optional odor and/or moisture absorbent sock type materials, such as of cotton or other absorbent natural or synthetic materials, can be provided over the toe and/or heel portions of the shoe tree. These absorbent socks can be disposable, or washable and reusable.
  • [0035]
    In a one embodiment for a backless shoe, the shoe tree stabilizes backless shoes. At the toe end, the shoe tree includes an elongated insert member for longitudinal installation into a backless shoe. This insert member has opposite toe and heel ends and a stretching shaft extending therebetween, wherein the toe end has a form-fitting toe block which is receivable within the closed or open toe portion of the backless shoe. The toe block fits fitting into and expansively stresses the closed toe portion of the backless shoe.
  • [0036]
    To compensate for the fact that the backless shoe has no heel for the shoe tree to push against, this insert member has a user controllable clamp positioned near the heel end, for removably affixing the insert member in a user-selected installed position on the heel portion of the backless shoe. This shoe-stressing force is user-adjustable.
  • [0037]
    The elongated insert member may have two or more centrally articulated members, with hinges and a threaded shaft-and-nut length adjustment member, for user selection of a desired magnitude of force for expansively stressing the closed open toe portion of the backless shoe into a preferred storage position.
  • [0038]
    Preferably, the clamp grasps the top and bottom portions of the heel of the backless shoe. Alternatively, the clamp grasps the left and right side portions of the heel of the backless shoe. Moreover, in a further embodiment, the clamp simultaneously grasps the top, bottom, left and right side portions of the heel of the backless shoe.
  • [0039]
    Mechanically, the clamp may have, for example, a user-operable wing-nut and threaded shaft having a suitable compression end-plate, in the same manner that a traditional C-clamp has a threaded-shaft and a disc-shaped freely rotatable clamping end-plate, for contacting the heel portion of the backless shoe.
  • [0040]
    In another embodiment, the clamp is one or more user-openable and closable contact adhesion straps (i.e., hook-and loop fastening means, i.e. VELCRO ®) for surrounding and grasping the heel portion of the backless shoe.
  • [0041]
    Moreover, the clamp may be a user-openable and closable spring clamp for simultaneously grasping with force suitable to lock together the heel end of the insert member and the heel portion of the backless shoe, for grasping the top, bottom and/or side portions of the heel of the backless shoe.
  • [0042]
    In yet another embodiment, a shoe tree for backless shoes, includes an elongated insert member for longitudinal installation into a backless shoe. The insert member has a form-fitting toe block receivable within the closed toe portion of the backless shoe. The toe block can be a user inflatable and deflatable air bladder for expansively stressing the closed on open toe portion of the backless shoe, a pre-inflated, compressible air bladder.
  • [0043]
    In addition, the form-fitting toe block can also be of a of a lightweight compressible material such as latex foam rubber, other foams, rubber or a closed sleeve filled with discrete particle stuffings, such as natural or synthetic particles, shavings, beans, pellets, cedar shavings or other suitable discrete materials in small pieces. These toe block embodiments can shape the toe portion individually or they can be provided in combination with heel clamps for grasping the top bottom, or sides portions of the heel of the backless shoe.
  • [0044]
    These clamps can simultaneously grasp the top, bottom, and/or left and right side portions of the heel of the backless shoe; with the same clamping mechanisms as noted above, such as a user-operable wing-nut and threaded shaft, having a suitable compression end-plate or user-openable and closable contact adhesion straps (i.e., hook-and loop fastening means, i.e. VELCRO ®) for surrounding and grasping the heel portion of the backless shoe.
  • [0045]
    In yet another embodiment, the shoe tree can be an elongated insert member for longitudinal installation into either the toe end or the entire length of the interior of a conventional shoe, wherein the insert has a form-fitting block receivable within the entire portion of the shoe. This compressible shoe tree can be a user inflatable and deflatable air bladder, a pre-inflated air bladder, a compressible foam block, or a pre-inflated air bladder which partially wraps around the compressible foam block, for expansively stressing the toe end, or the entire shoe, from toe to heel.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0046]
    The present invention can best be understood in connection with the accompanying drawings. However, no unnecessary limitations are to be construed by the terms used or illustrations depicted, beyond what is shown in the prior art, since the terms and illustrations are exemplary only, and are not meant to limit the scope of the present invention.
  • [0047]
    It is noted that the invention is not limited to the precise embodiments shown in drawings, in which:
  • [0048]
    [0048]FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a prior art shoe tree;
  • [0049]
    [0049]FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of a spring clamp device of this invention;
  • [0050]
    [0050]FIG. 2A is a side elevation view of an alternate C-shaped spring clamp of this invention;
  • [0051]
    [0051]FIG. 2B is a side elevation view of an alternate scissors clamp of this invention;
  • [0052]
    [0052]FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of a shoe bottom attachment clamp of this invention.
  • [0053]
    [0053]FIG. 4 is a top plan view of a side attachment clamp of this invention;
  • [0054]
    [0054]FIG. 4A is a top plan view of an alternate embodiment for a side attachment clamp of this invention;
  • [0055]
    [0055]FIG. 5 is a back end view of a strap attachment of this invention;
  • [0056]
    [0056]FIG. 6 is an side edge view of an attachment strap showing the various layers;
  • [0057]
    [0057]FIG. 7 is a side elevation of a resilient pad shoe tree for an enclosed shoe;
  • [0058]
    [0058]FIG. 8 is a side elevation of a toe pad used in a backless shoe;
  • [0059]
    [0059]FIG. 9 is a side elevation of a resilient toe pad used with a mechanical shoe tree back portion in a backless shoe;
  • [0060]
    [0060]FIG. 10 is a top plan view of an inflatable toe pad with a bellows pump;
  • [0061]
    [0061]FIG. 11 is an end view in crossection of the bellows pump as in FIG. 10;
  • [0062]
    [0062]FIG. 12 is a side elevation view of the inflatable toe pad as in FIG. 10;
  • [0063]
    [0063]FIG. 13 is a side elevation view of a partially inflatable toe pad wrap with a foam base and insert;
  • [0064]
    [0064]FIG. 13A is an end view in crossection of the embodiment of FIG. 13;
  • [0065]
    [0065]FIG. 14 is a side elevation view of a combination of the toe pad of FIG. 13 with a foam back pad for an enclosed shoe;
  • [0066]
    [0066]FIG. 15 is a side elevation view of a whole shoe pad with a foam base and an inflatable upper section;
  • [0067]
    [0067]FIG. 16 is an end view in crossection of another embodiment for a shoe tree with a different type of air pump taken along line “16-16” of FIG. 15;
  • [0068]
    [0068]FIG. 17 is a top plan view in partial cross section of another embodiment for plunger-operable shoe tree with an expandable toe blank;
  • [0069]
    [0069]FIG. 17A is a close-up detail view of a latch for the embodiment of FIG. 17; and,
  • [0070]
    [0070]FIG. 17B is a close-up detail view of an alternate embodiment for a ratchet used with the embodiment shown in FIG. 17.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0071]
    Conventional shoe trees are constructed in a number of configurations with a variety of features and several different mechanisms to achieve similar results.
  • [0072]
    For example, a fully featured prior art shoe tree 1 of a particular type is shown in the top view of FIG. 1. It is articulated to conform to a variety of shoe designs and sizes; it also places stretching forces on the front, back, front sides and back sides of a conventional closed shoe which is shown in crossection outline 2.
  • [0073]
    Many more simple shoe trees are also on the market; they often eliminate some adjustability features or the ability to stretch the sides at the heel portion.
  • [0074]
    In FIG. 1, a prior art shoe tree includes front attachment block 3, which is attached to front side contoured stretching blocks 9 and 10 by springs 11 and 12 respectively. These springs force blocks 9 and 10 against the sides of the sole portion of shoe 2 in transverse directions “B”. Back attachment block 4 is attached to heel area side contoured stretching blocks 13 and 14 by springs 15 and 16 respectively which cause transverse forces in direction “A”.
  • [0075]
    Many prior art shoe trees just have a one-piece abbreviated part at the back which just braces against the back of shoe 2 providing internal forces in direction “C”. The central section of shoe tree 1 connects front attachment block 3 to back attachment block 4 so as to provide a method for creating longitudinal forces “C” and “D” (at the front).
  • [0076]
    In this illustration, a threaded rod 5 is pinned 17 to rear block 3 to permit some articulation. The end of rod 5 freely moves in and out of tubing segment 6 to permit length adjustment while threaded adjustment disk 8 permits adjustment of longitudinal spring 7 force.
  • [0077]
    Tubing segment 6 is pinned 18 to front block 3. In an alternate design, spring 7 is eliminated while tubing segment 6 is internally threaded to engage threaded rod 5 and disk 8 is now rigidly attached to threaded rod 5 so as to permit rotation of rod 5 (which now is permitted to turn by a pinned 17 bushing within block 4; this detail is not shown).
  • [0078]
    In this alternative configuration, turning adjustment disk 8 adjusts the length of shoe tree 1 to fit shoe 2 and/or to stretch shoe 2 in the longitudinal direction.
  • [0079]
    Several alternate mechanisms to attach the front and back segments of a shoe tree have been used. While these will not be illustrated, they include leaf springs, coil springs, ratchet mechanisms, and “over-center” spring clamps.
  • [0080]
    In contrast to the prior art shoe trees, the embodiments of the present invention shown in FIGS. 2-6 are accessories to conventional shoe trees (of a variety of designs) to permit their intended use for backless shoes. They therefore provide an alternate attachment method for the back part of a tree shoe so as to permit longitudinal stretching and locating forces to impinge on the inside toe portion of the backless shoe.
  • [0081]
    [0081]FIG. 2 shows backless shoe 25 with shoe tree 1 inserted wherein the heel block 13 is rigidly connected to shoe heel portion by spring clamp 35. This is a scissors type clamp with 2-part frame 31 pinned at the crossover with torsion spring 33 exerting a closing force. Handle ends 34 are manually compressed to attach or detach clamp 35. High friction elastomeric pads 32 attached to the clamp ends press against heel block 13 of shoe tree 1 and the heel bottom of backless shoe 25.
  • [0082]
    In an alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 2A, a hingeless spring clamp 135 in the form of a “C” shape spring 130 may be used, whereby manual loosening of “C” shape spring 130 causes “C” shape spring 130 to loosen its grip against backless shoe 25. Optional high friction elastomeric pads 132 attached to the clamp ends press against heel block 113 of shoe tree 101 and the heel bottom of backless shoe 25.
  • [0083]
    In a further alternate embodiment shown in FIG. 2B, toe block 9 includes two separable parts 9 a, 9 b, which split-apart by use of a scissors-type clamp 102 including cooperating handles 104 a, 104 b pivoting about fulcrum hinge 103. While FIG. 2B shows parts 9 a, 9 b spreading apart in a vertical axis, they can also pivot horizontally outwards if the scissors clamp 102 is positioned to operate also in a horizontal axis.
  • [0084]
    In another embodiment of this invention shown in FIG. 3, a purposely designed C-clamp 45 is used for the same purpose. Rigid frame 40 has an elastomeric pad 41 at its distal end which impinges on the heel bottom of shoe 25.
  • [0085]
    The proximal end of frame 40 has a threaded hole which receives wing head screw 43 which permits clamping forces between distal pad 41 and freely rotating elastomeric pad 42 which impinges on the top of heel block 13 of shoe tree 1.
  • [0086]
    Yet another type of clamp embodiment holds heel block 13 against the heel end of backless shoe 25 by grasping the heel sides, while an elastomeric pad 49 presses down and holds heel block 13 immobilized.
  • [0087]
    For example, this is shown as clamp 48 in FIG. 4. Here frame 50 crosses over heel block 13 and fixed elastomeric pad 51 at the distal end and swiveling elastomeric pad 52 grasp the sides of shoe 25 at or near the heel, and wing head screw 53 exerts clamping force. Large elastomeric pad 49 is attached to frame 50.
  • [0088]
    As shown in FIG. 4A, in a further alternate embodiment, clamp 101′ includes C-shape clamp 150, which crosses a top portion of backless shoe 25. Optionally, clamp 101′ crossed over optional heel block 113 and fixed elastomeric pad 151 at the distal end and optional swiveling elastomeric pad 152 grasp the sides of shoe 25 at or near the heel. Optional large elastomeric pad 149 is attached to C-shape spring clamp 150 of clamp 101′.
  • [0089]
    Another embodiment to temporarily attach the heel portion 13 of shoe tree 1 to the back of backless shoe 25 is shown in the end view of FIG. 5. It includes a strap 55 of reinforced fabric or plastic material attached as a loop by hook and loop fasteners, such as VELCRO® fasteners. Strap 55 envelops heel block 13 as well as the heel of backless shoe 25. The material of strap 55 may be non-stretching or it may be elastomeric (thereby comprising two different embodiments).
  • [0090]
    The edge view of FIG. 6 shows the make-up of strap 55. It has strength layer 56 with a short length of “hook” material 57 at one end. The opposite face of strap 55 includes a high friction elastomeric layer 59 with a section of “loop” material at the end opposite that of the shorter length of “hook” material 57. In operation, strap 55 is snugly wrapped around and the ends fastened.
  • [0091]
    An set of embodiments of shoe trees incorporating the use of resilient pads is illustrated in FIGS. 7 through 16. These pads may be resilient materials, such as natural and synthetic discrete stuffing pieces, within a sleeve cover, or may be made of other soft solid resilient materials, such as, for example, foam rubber, where the resiliency is primarily from elastomeric properties of the material, or they may be a closed cell foam material using a flexible grade of plastic material where the resiliency is primarily the result of compression of gasses entrapped in the cells.
  • [0092]
    Alternatively, the pads may be preinflated impermeable membranes, or inflatable hollow membrane structures with an attached air pump for inflation.
  • [0093]
    [0093]FIG. 7 shows a side view of an embodiment using two resilient pads 66 at the toe end and 67 at the heel end within a conventional closed shoe outline 65. The forces produced by pad resiliency provide the stretching and shaping forces, thereby duplicating the function of a conventional shoe tree with enhanced conformability to shoe contours. The implementation as two separate toe 66 and heel 67 pads with touching common walls facilitates ease of insertion and removal.
  • [0094]
    [0094]FIG. 8 shows the use of single toe pad 66 in backless shoe 25 unaided with any clamps or heel attachment. This is possible in some backless shoes with side front contours that capture front pad 66. An alternate pull handle, such as a knob or ring (not shown) may be provided to facilitate insertion or removal of the toe pad 66 within the toe portion of a shoe.
  • [0095]
    For those backless shoes where an unaided front toe pad would tend to slip out, the solution of FIG. 9 presents an alternative embodiment. In a modified shoe tree of mainly conventional form, a resilient pad 69 replaces the front stretching blocks. Pad 69 has an attached embedded rigid member 70 to facilitate normal attachment to the conventional portion of shoe tree 71. Clamp 45 is shown attaching heel block 13 to backless shoe 25, although any of the devices of FIGS. 2 through 6 can be used. Other clamps, such as shown in FIGS. 2A, 2B or 4A may also be employed.
  • [0096]
    [0096]FIG. 10 shows a top view of an embodiment of a front resilient pad 75 using air pump 95 for inflation. Material for pad 75 can be any of a wide variety of relatively impermeable flexible membrane materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane formed into a shape compatible with the inside contours of a shoe. A back resilient inflatable pad of different shape (such as 67) can also be fitted with pump 95.
  • [0097]
    While FIG. 12 shows a side phantom view of pump 95, the end view in crossection of FIG. 11 (at “11-11” in FIG. 10) reveals pump details. The main pumping element is a plastic blow molded bellows 77 preferably made of polypropylene. Rigid depressed finger compression knob 76 seals the top of bellows 77. Air entry port permits entry of ambient air at “h” through intake check valve 84 into bellows interior for compression during a downward stroke. Compressed air exits bellows 77 through base structure 78 at “j” through exit check valve 85 and further exiting into pad 75 at “i”. A release valve for purposely leaking air from within pad 75 to deflate it is formed from sealing plate 82, O-ring 83, closing spring 81, rod 80 and release button 79. A small force at “f” on release button 79 will cause air leakage around rod 80.
  • [0098]
    In operation, partially deflated pad 75 is inserted in the toe portion of a shoe and then knob 76 is depressed a few times until the desired pressure within pad 75 is reached.
  • [0099]
    In the foregoing description, certain terms and visual depictions are used to illustrate the preferred embodiment. For example, the air pump embodiment shown in FIGS. 10-16 is illustrative only. Other air pumps may be used, such as, for example, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,588,227 of Goldston for an air pump having an air bladder to inflate portions of the walls and tongue of an athletic shoe. In addition, small micro-pumps such as contained within a basketball for inflation can be built into the air bladder of the present invention.
  • [0100]
    The latter is exemplified by the INFUSION™ pump of Spalding Corporation. It is a piston and cylinder pump wherein the cylinder is entirely contained within a basketball with the top end actually attached to the surface of the ball. The piston is stored within the cylinder when not in use. Due to the nature of the application of the INFUSION™ pump, the actuator handle for the piston must also be stored and locked within the ball flush with the surface when not being used lest any portion protrude from the surface when the ball is being aggressively used in a game. This adds the complication of a coin (or finger nail) actuated twist lock to gain access to and then to re-lock the piston handle after use.
  • [0101]
    [0101]FIG. 13 shows yet another embodiment of toe pad 200 with inflatable upper section 201 and foam base 203 which intrudes into air cavity 209 as shown in the end crossection (taken along plane line “13A-13A” in FIG. 13A). In this embodiment, a different type of air pump 202 is illustrated attached to the membrane 201 of the inflatable section. Pump 202 is a hollow elastomeric “bubble shaped” (almost hemispherical) housing with inlet check valve integrally constructed as orifice 207 and valve flap 204. The outlet check valve is formed from an outlet orifice periodically sealed by flap 208 and protected from interference by perforated cage 213. Pump 202 is simply depressed and released several times to pressurize cavity 209. To release pressure, release button 210 is pressed which pushes down rod 211 which, in turn, forces open valve flap 212 to release air from region 209.
  • [0102]
    [0102]FIG. 14 shows toe pad 200 used in conjunction with a back pad 215 which is foam (not inflatable) for use within closed shoe 65.
  • [0103]
    [0103]FIG. 15 is a side view of an embodiment for enclosed shoe 65 using a “full shoe” inflatable pad with a foam base 226 which may intrude into the cavity of the inflatable upper portion 225.
  • [0104]
    [0104]FIG. 16 is an end view in crossection taken at the line shown in FIG. 15 as plane “16-16”. A different type of air pump 227 is illustrated next to release valve button 210 (of similar construction to that described in FIG. 13A). For example, FIG. 16 shows a piston and cylinder plunger-type of an air pump 227.
  • [0105]
    Certain features of air pump 227 are shared with the INFUSION™ pump, however the flush-mounted and lockable piston handle is avoided for this application as there is no need for such a complicating feature. For the purpose of this invention, flat piston handle 228 (designed to be grasped by thumb and forefinger) is always ready for use as it protrudes from cylinder 230 even when piston 232 is stored in the lowest position totally within inflatable section 225 having hollow air-filled interior recesses 236. The other parts of pump 227 are an inlet air orifice 233 built into piston 232 with inlet check valve flap 234 at its distal end. O-ring seal 231 seals piston 232 against cylinder 230 bore. Cylinder 230 is attached to air chamber bladder 225 at flange 229 which has small clearance 237 around piston 230; this prevents piston 232 from exiting cylinder 230 on upstrokes since o-ring 231 would prevent such an occurrence. An outlet check valve is formed from a bottom orifice on cylinder 230 and valve flap 235 as protected by perforated cage 238.
  • [0106]
    Although three different types of air pumps are illustrated in specific embodiments of the inflatable pads of this invention, it can be appreciated that the alternate types shown can be interchanged with the ones illustrated on any given embodiment.
  • [0107]
    [0107]FIG. 17 shows an alternate embodiment for a shoe tree 300 for a backless shoe which uses the traditional split block toe piece 301. However, in the present invention, each section 301 a, 301 b is connected to each other by a hinged piece 302 having at least one pivot point 303 and connecting arms 304 which allows lateral expansion of toe piece 301. Attached to the split block is a bracing arm or tube 305 and rod 306 having plunger 308. Rod 306 may be a double rod. Rod 306, is spring loaded with spring 307 to allow resistance upon pushing the rod 306 with plunger 308 and plunger handle 308 a against the hinge 302. This allows expansion of split block toe piece 301.
  • [0108]
    [0108]FIG. 17A shows a releasable latch 310 releasing ratchet respective teeth 309 of rod members 305′ and 306′ which allows the split block toe piece 301 to return to the original position.
  • [0109]
    Another embodiment shown in FIG. 17B uses a rod 306 plunger 308 with a plurality of teeth 309 that can be ratcheted from the heel area to expand rod 305 to split block toe piece 301.
  • [0110]
    It is further known that other modifications may be made to the present invention, without departing the scope of the invention.
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US795217 *Mar 2, 1904Jul 18, 1905Charles D GauntPneumatic adjustable shoe-form.
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US2273489 *May 27, 1940Feb 17, 1942Hanby Holmes MaryStretcher for articles of clothing
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7950432Jun 24, 2009May 31, 2011Nike, Inc.Method of customizing an article and apparatus including an inflatable member
US8162022Apr 24, 2012Nike, Inc.Method of customizing an article and apparatus
US8293054Oct 23, 2012Nike, Inc.Method of customizing an article and apparatus
US8574387Mar 7, 2012Nov 5, 2013Nike, Inc.Protective member for graphic transfer process
US8578534Apr 25, 2011Nov 12, 2013Nike, Inc.Inflatable member
US8851135Sep 19, 2012Oct 7, 2014Nike, Inc.Method of customizing an article and apparatus
US8961723Apr 11, 2011Feb 24, 2015Nike, Inc.Method of customizing an article and apparatus including an inflatable member
US9107479Apr 8, 2013Aug 18, 2015Nike, Inc.Adjustable last
US9120296Sep 8, 2014Sep 1, 2015Nike, Inc.Method of customizing an article and apparatus
US9259903Sep 27, 2013Feb 16, 2016Nike, Inc.Protective member for graphic transfer process
US9277786Sep 20, 2013Mar 8, 2016Nike, Inc.Method of using an inflatable member to customize an article
US20090031507 *Aug 1, 2008Feb 5, 2009Mcchesney Amy MichelleShoe Insert
US20100326591 *Jun 24, 2009Dec 30, 2010Nike, Inc.Method of customizing an article and apparatus including an inflatable member
US20140209770 *Jul 1, 2011Jul 31, 2014Pascual Jesús Amorós CanoFootwear supporting device
WO2011055162A1 *Nov 5, 2009May 12, 2011Benavides Cano Carlos F JavierArticulated last for integral footwear maintenance
Classifications
U.S. Classification12/128.00H, 12/117.4
International ClassificationA61N1/05, A43D3/14, A43D3/04
Cooperative ClassificationA43D3/04, A43D3/1433
European ClassificationA43D3/04, A43D3/14E