US 20050087657 A1
An apparatus to hold the mouth of a bag open to facilitate sliding debris into a bag being a pair of a loops, each having at least one straight side, that mate together with the open edge of the bag between them.
1. An apparatus for holding the mouth of a flexible bag open, the apparatus comprising:
a generally rigid self supporting first member forming a continuous loop, the loop having at least one substantially straight segment;
a second member; and
wherein one member of the first and second members has a slot formed therein, the slot extending substantially a length of the one member and being adapted to matingly receive the other member of the first and second members therein along substantially the entire periphery of the other member in a generally parallel orientation to each other with an entire periphery of the flexible bag proximate the mouth sandwiched therebetween; and
wherein the slot encloses a substantial portion of the other member.
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14. An apparatus to hold the mouth of a flexible bag open, the apparatus comprising:
a support loop comprising a generally rigid self supporting material, the support loop having at least one straight segment and a generally rectangular cross section; and
a retaining loop comprising a generally rigid and resilient material, the retainer loop having a generally C-shaped cross section defining a slot, the slot being sized to tightly receive the support loop with substantially the entire periphery of a portion of the flexible bag proximate the mouth wrapped around the support loop;
wherein a least one side of the support loop is completely enclosed by the retainer loop and a majority of at least two other sides of the support loop are covered by the retaining loop.
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19. An apparatus to hold the mouth of a flexible bag open, the apparatus comprising:
a support member, the support member comprising a self-supporting loop of substantially rigid material and having a generally concave outer peripheral surface; and
a retaining member, the retaining member comprising a looped band that is adapted to be received in the concave outer peripheral surface to bias a portion of the flexible bag sandwiched therebetween against the support member.
20. The apparatus of
1. Field of Invention
The invention relates to bags, specifically a device to hold a bag open to facilitate sliding debris into the bag.
2. Related Art
It is necessary when filling a flimsy bag to have a means of keeping the mouth of the bag open while it is being filled. One method is to use a trashcan or similar apparatus, which holds the bag vertically such that the opening is horizontal and elevated above the ground. The problem with this method is it requires lifting the debris up to the opening of the bag, which is inefficient and fatiguing to the human body especially when the debris is made up of a large amount of tiny loose pieces, such as leaves, that require repeatedly lifting handfuls or scoops of the debris. A more efficient method is to slide large amounts of the debris directly into the bag. One way of doing this is to have one or more people hold the bag open while another slides the debris into the bag. But, this is also inefficient since it requires more than one person, who may not be available, and it can be awkward for a person using only his/her limbs to keep the opening in the optimal shape and position for filling. So far, apparatuses designed to enable sliding debris into a bag have been impractical to actually use. Their designs are overly complex and lack the optimal combination of features, thus making them too expensive and inconvenient to be worthwhile.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,998,415 describes an apparatus that does not adequately hold the opening of the bag flush to the ground. The bag would slide out of the slots on the base member as the debris is being forced into the bag. Furthermore, it consists of a multitude of parts that must be assembled and adjusted prior to actually putting it to use. Even after the apparatus is assembled, a multitude of clips must be applied and removed each time the bag is changed, which is vary time consuming. It would be easier and cheaper to use a trashcan.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,149,028 also does not adequately hold the opening of the bag flush to the ground. The open edge of the bag that is supposed to be flat against the ground is not clamped to the apparatus and, therefore, debris would catch on and slide under the bag opening as it is swept into the bag.
The apparatuses of U.S. Pat. No. 4,318,521 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,106,041 do not adequately secure the bag to frame. The only method of securing the bag to the frame is that it is “stretched” around the frame. This requires it to be made to a specific size for a specific size bag in order for the bag to fit tightly over the frame. This severely limits the range of bag sizes it can be used with. Even if the bag is stretched tightly over the frame, it will still slip off as debris is being forced into it. They also consist of a system of tubes that must be fitted together, which adds to the manufacturing expense and inconvenience to the user.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,787,753 also describes an apparatus that does not adequately secure bag to frame. It relies on the frictional force of the inner and outer loops against each other. These would easily slide apart as debris is forced into the bag, especially as the parts become worn and deformed from use, which is evident by the statement that they freely pass through each other.
The invention presented in this patent is an apparatus to hold a mouth of a bag open such that part of the opening of the bag is straight so a wide portion of the opening can be held flush with a flat surface to facilitate sliding piles of debris into the bag. The apparatus comprises a pair of members that fit and join together with a portion of the bag proximate the bag's mouth secured between them. One of the members is a support member, which is typically a loop of material with at least one straight segment that supports the shape of the bag mouth. The other member is a retaining member that secures substantially the entire periphery of the bag mouth to the support member.
The various components of the apparatus are typically molded, such as injection or vacuum molded when the apparatus is comprised of a plastic material. However, other suitable manufacturing methods can be utilized to fabricate the loops as would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art.
Another embodiment of the present invention is shown in
The operation of the apparatus is simple. Referring to
Conclusion, Ramifications, and Scope
Accordingly, one will see that preferred and alternative embodiments of the apparatus provide for an easy and efficient method to fill bags with debris consisting of many tiny loose pieces, such as leaves, grass clippings, grain or even gravel. With the present invention a person can hold a bag open with one hand and sweep the debris in with the other hand. It has the advantage of securing the entire perimeter of the bag opening to the support loop, which prevents snagging or bunching of the opening as debris is being slid into the bag. The bag opening dependably remains in the open position until the user intentionally releases it. The loops each comprise one piece and are easily manually press fitted together and separated making the present invention inexpensive and as quick and easy to set up as lining a trashcan.
The D-shape is preferred because it maximizes the contact of the flat side of the bag opening with the ground for receiving wide piles of debris while also providing sufficient height of the opening. However, the D-shape is not a requirement. Any shape that has at least one straight portion that can be placed flatly against the ground is contemplated. It is not a requirement that the apparatus be made to specific dimensions for specific bag sizes. Instead, it is an advantage that one particular size of the apparatus can work with a wide range of bag sizes since a bag with a larger perimeter length than he apparatus can be folded over proximate its mouth. It may be manufactured in several sizes, such as a large size to accommodate a range of extremely large bags for receiving extremely large amounts of debris, a medium size to accommodate the range of more commonly used house-hold lawn and trash bags, and a smaller size for the range of much smaller bags. Similarly, the dimensions may vary to accommodate thicker bags, such as canvas bags, and thinner bags, such as kitchen trash bags.
Is some cases it may be preferrable that the retaining loop be a sturdy rigid material such as aluminum, steel or a reinforced plastic instead of a more flexible material. Although it is preferred that the loops be manufactured by molding the material, it may alternatively be manufactured by elongated lengths of material that are bent to form the loop or any other suitable manufacturing techniques. Also, the retaining loop may remain an elongated length of flexible and resilient material that the user bends to match the shape of the support loop when applied to the support loop. Furthermore, the retaining loop may be two pieces, one being straight and the other being curved, which are applied to the straight and curved segments of the support loop respectively.
The preceding descriptions of the present invention only serve as examples of its preferred embodiment and certain alternative embodiments. The actual scope and limits of this patent should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents rather than the examples given.