Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20050150178 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/990,768
Publication dateJul 14, 2005
Filing dateNov 17, 2004
Priority dateNov 17, 2003
Also published asCA2545061A1, US7484631, US20050132924, US20050144858, US20050236340, WO2005049433A2, WO2005049433A3
Publication number10990768, 990768, US 2005/0150178 A1, US 2005/150178 A1, US 20050150178 A1, US 20050150178A1, US 2005150178 A1, US 2005150178A1, US-A1-20050150178, US-A1-2005150178, US2005/0150178A1, US2005/150178A1, US20050150178 A1, US20050150178A1, US2005150178 A1, US2005150178A1
InventorsRichard Bothun, Mark Gallea, Michael Jines, Frederick Mather, Gregg Nelson, Marty Prins, Craig Ulrich
Original AssigneeBothun Richard A., Gallea Mark E., Jines Michael D., Mather Frederick A., Nelson Gregg S., Prins Marty L., Ulrich Craig J.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Modular storage units for uniforms and wearable equipment
US 20050150178 A1
Abstract
A modular storage system having a plurality of carts, each cart having a base, end panels, and sides, the end panels and platform defining a storage space accessible through the sides. The carts further include wheel assemblies and a track follower mechanism. The modular storage system further includes a track positioned on the floor, the track follower being engageable with the track. The end panels have a plurality of apertures to allow air movement in the storage space allowing contents positioned in the storage space to dry when the plurality of carts are in the abutting side-by-side position.
Images(73)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(17)
1. A modular storage system for uniforms and wearable equipment comprising:
a track operably positioned on a floor; and
a plurality of carts, each cart including:
a base comprising a generally rectangular platform having opposed ends and opposed sides with end panels operably attached to and extending upward from the opposed ends, the end panels and the platform generally defining a storage space for contents that is accessible through one of the sides;
wheel assemblies operably attached to and extending below the base to provide a rolling surface adapted to roll on the floor; and
at least one track follower mechanism operably attached to one end of the base and having at least a portion of which is engageable with the track,
such that the plurality of carts are stored in a generally abutting side-by-side position and the storage space of a selected cart is selectively accessed by moving at least one of the plurality of carts so as to create a space in a direction parallel to the track between the selected cart and at least one adjacent cart such that the storage space of the selected cart is accessible from one of the sides,
wherein the end panels have a plurality of apertures therein to allow for air movement in the storage space to allow contents positioned in the storage space to dry when the plurality of carts are in the abutting side-by-side position.
2. The modular storage system of claim 1, wherein the apertures represent at least 25% of the surface area defined by a perimeter of each end panel.
3. The modular storage system of claim 1, wherein the contents are selected from the group consisting of: uniforms, wearable equipment, field gear, or any combination thereof.
4. The modular storage system of claim 1, wherein the end panels are comprised of a wire-grille operably attached to a tubular frame structure.
5. The modular storage system of claim 1, further comprising a fan operably disposed in at least one cart.
6. The modular storage system of claim 1, further comprising a shelf disposed between the end panels, the shelf selectively positioned between the end panels to permit selective placement of articles generally within the storage space.
7. The modular storage system of claim 1, further comprising a top panel disposed between and generally on top of the end panels that defines a top surface of the storage space.
8. The modular storage system of claim 7, wherein the top panel is selected from the group consisting of: slotted, wire, solid, or any combination thereof.
9. The modular storage system of claim 7, further comprising a secondary storage structure carried by and above the top panel.
10. The modular storage system of claim 9, wherein the secondary storage structure comprises generally opposed secondary storage structure end panels.
11. The modular storage system of claim 10, further comprising a shelf disposed between the secondary storage structure end panels, the shelf selectively positioned between the secondary storage structure end panels to permit selective placement of articles generally within the storage space.
12. The modular storage system of claim 10, wherein the secondary storage structure end panels are comprised of a wire-grille operably attached to a tubular frame structure.
13. A modular storage system for uniforms and wearable equipment comprising:
means for guiding operably positioned on a floor generally along an axis;
a plurality of movable modular storage units, each movable modular storage unit including:
a base comprising a generally rectangular platform having opposed ends and opposed sides with end panels operably attached to and extending upward from the opposed ends, the end panels and the platform generally defining a means for storing uniforms and wearable equipment that is accessible through one of the sides;
means for rolling operably attached to and extending below the base to provide a rolling surface adapted to roll on the floor; and
means for selectively engaging with the means for guiding,
such that the plurality of modular storage units are stored in a generally abutting side-by-side position and the means for storing of a selected modular storage unit is selectively accessed by moving at least one of the plurality of modular storage units so as to create a space in a direction parallel to the axis of the means for guiding between the selected modular storage unit and at least one adjacent modular storage unit such that the means for storing of the selected modular storage unit is accessible from one of the sides,
wherein the end panels have a plurality of apertures therein to allow for air movement in the means for storing to allow contents positioned in the means for storing to dry when the plurality of modular storage units are in the abutting side-by-side position.
14. The modular storage system of claim 13, wherein the means for guiding comprises a track.
15. The modular storage system of claim 13, wherein the movable modular storage units comprises a cart.
16. The modular storage system of claim 13, wherein the means for engaging comprises a track follower mechanism.
17. The modular storage system of claim 13, wherein the means for rolling comprises a plurality of wheels selected from the set consisting of: casters, axled pairs of wheels, or ball wheels.
Description
    PRIORITY CLAIM
  • [0001]
    The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/523,044, entitled “LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT OF FIELD EQUIPMENT FOR OPERATIONAL UNITS” filed Nov. 17, 2003, U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/543,047, entitled “LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT OF FIELD EQUIPMENT FOR OPERATIONAL UNITS” filed Feb. 9, 2004, U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/599,227, entitled “LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT OF FIELD EQUIPMENT FOR OPERATIONAL UNITS” filed Aug. 5, 2004, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/616,538, entitled “LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT OF FIELD EQUIPMENT FOR OPERATIONAL UNITS” filed Oct. 6, 2004. The disclosures of the aforementioned provisional applications are hereby incorporated by reference to the extent not inconsistent with the present disclosure.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates generally to movable storage cabinets. More particularly, the present invention relates to modular storage units for uniforms and wearable equipment.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    Those involved in field operational units often possess or require a large amount of uniforms, supplies, and other equipment. Examples of such operational units are athletic teams, construction industries, medical and hospital organizations, military and paramilitary organizations, theatre companies, and marching and concert bands. There is currently a need within these groups for better equipment storage and handling solutions. Specifically, there is a need for a storage system that can be used to effectively store equipment at storage sites and cycle and transport the equipment between the storage sites and areas in which the equipment is used.
  • [0004]
    As an example, space is always at a premium in schools and athletic facilities. There is rarely enough room allocated for athletic equipment storage. The storage space that is made available for athletic equipment is often located in places that are inconvenient for coaches, equipment managers, and players. These storage areas are often small, cramped, and overflow into areas that are not intended for storage purposes, such as locker rooms, gymnasiums, and coaches' offices. Equipment storage rooms are frequently messy with athletic equipment strewn about the floor. The storage room shelves and bins usually do not have labels or allow the equipment managers to visually inspect or manage the gear. Equipping players at the beginning of the season is usually disorganized and characterized by piles of gear spread out over the storage or locker room for weeks. A storage system would address these problems and make efficient use of the allocated space.
  • [0005]
    Mobility is also an essential part of the storage of many items. While a permanent storage facility allows for certain efficiencies to be gained by having a central location of the stored items, in many instances some of these items need to be transported to another site quickly, inexpensively, and with minimal planning. For instance, in athletic endeavors, planning and managing the practice, game, and travel logistics of teams is a complicated task and usually not the primary focus of the athletic or activities director, coaches, players, and trainers. Athletic equipment is constantly being moved through a usage cycle between “off-season” storage and “in-season” use and management. During the season, equipment constantly needs to be moved to and from storage areas, practice fields, and game sites.
  • [0006]
    Safety is also a very important aspect of equipment management. Player safety and avoidance of program and personal liability can be accomplished by effectively managing gear through regular inspections and record keeping. Regular gear inventory and inspection is critical to identify and replace expired, damaged, and lost equipment. By taking care of their equipment and knowing what equipment is on hand and “game ready,” schools can also extend equipment life and can assure purchases only as necessary. Safety also encompasses the sanitary aspects of storage. With adequate ventilation, well-designed storage can mitigate the growth and spread of mold and odor associated with locker rooms. Also, by effectively managing and organizing equipment, schools can prevent and control loss and theft.
  • [0007]
    Moreover, in the field of athletics, equipment storage systems must reflect the pride, excellence, and the winning attitude of the schools' athletic programs. Pride and excellence are rarely reflected in current equipment management areas or processes. Messy, disorganized equipment areas do not reflect discipline, pride, or excellence. Disorganized equipment distribution to players does not support the desired tone of the program. If the storage areas are poorly kept, they do not reflect well on a school's excellence to parents, alumni, fellow educators, and recruits. The makeshift storage areas are usually in a state of disarray and a source of embarrassment for the schools. As a result, the areas are often shut or closed during recruiting trips to prevent further embarrassment.
  • [0008]
    There are not any commercially available organizational systems meeting the current needs discussed above. As an illustration, high schools, colleges, and universities usually use storage systems ranging from makeshift and make-do systems to generic, mass-marketed products modified for use as athletic equipment storage systems. The makeshift or make-do solutions often comprise homemade wooden shelves or generic shelving available from local hardware stores. Carts are also often homemade and storage containers are usually corrugated boxes, gear bags, garbage bags, laundry hampers, or generic plastic bins. Any labeling is usually done with a marker and tape on the equipment, shelves, and boxes.
  • [0009]
    Some universities/colleges and professional sports organizations currently use expensive, high-density storage solutions such as those manufactured by Spacesaver Corporation. Because these systems are fixed on dual tracks, those using the system are not allowed to bring the storage to an off-site area. Those wishing to access the storage must come to the storage and cannot bring the storage with them. In addition, solid panels enclose the bins, which inhibits any airflow within the arrangement. Moreover, the bin and shelving arrangement within the systems are also fixed so those using the systems do not have the flexibility of being able to arrange the bins in appropriate dimensions.
  • [0010]
    Stationary drying racks for uniforms and wearable equipment have been developed. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,073,783 and 5,685,440 disclose drying racks that could be used for drying uniforms and wearable equipment, but the drying racks are not part of a modular storage system. U.S. Design Pat. Nos. 398,469 and 394,926 depict racks that could be used for drying uniforms and wearable equipment. Some design patents describe or depict wire-framed storage units that could be used to store uniforms or wearable equipment. Some examples are U.S. Pat. No. 6,752,278 and U.S. Design Pat. Nos. 476,183, 429,094, and 392,496. However, these units are not modular and therefore could not be used to transport uniforms or wearable equipment.
  • [0011]
    Modular storage units having a wire frame have also been developed. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,801,176 describes a dual track system in which the modules are movable along tracks within a storage site, the modules being made of wire steel. U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,241,106, 4,941,578, and 4,807,765 describe systems having no sides, but rather only shelves. These carts are not designed to accommodate equipment that is used by field operational units.
  • [0012]
    What is needed is a better equipment storage and handling solutions for field operational units. Specifically, there is a need for a storage system that can be used to effectively store equipment at storage sites and cycle and transport the equipment between the storage sites and areas in which the equipment is used. There is a need for a storage system having generally reconfigurable storage units that allow sufficient air movement so that uniforms and wearable equipment can be dried when the units are populated with gear.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0013]
    In an embodiment of the present invention, a modular storage system for uniforms and wearable equipment includes a plurality of carts. The carts include a base that has a generally rectangular platform having opposed ends and opposed sides with end panels that are operably attached to and extend upward from the opposed ends, the end panels and the platform generally defining a storage space for contents that is accessible through one of the sides. The carts further include wheel assemblies operably attached to and extending below the base to provide a rolling surface adapted to roll on the floor. The carts also include at least one track follower mechanism that is operably attached to one end of the base. The modular storage system further includes a track that is operably positioned on the floor, such that the at least one track follower is selectively engageable with the track, so that the plurality of carts are stored in a generally abutting side-by-side position and the storage space of a selected cart is selectively accessed by moving at least one of the plurality of carts so as to create a space in a direction parallel to the track between the selected cart and at least one adjacent cart such that the storage space of the selected cart is accessible from one of the sides. While the carts provide an enclosed space in which to store uniforms and wearable equipment, the end panels have a plurality of apertures therein to allow for air movement in the storage space to allow contents positioned in the storage space to dry when the plurality of carts are in the abutting side-by-side position sufficient.
  • [0014]
    In an embodiment of the present invention, the apertures in the modular storage unit represent at least at least 25% of the surface area defined by a perimeter of each end panel. In another embodiment of the present invention, the end panels in the modular storage unit are made of wire-grille that is operably attached to a tubular frame structure. In another embodiment of the present invention, the modular storage unit includes a fan.
  • [0015]
    In one embodiment of the present invention, the contents in the modular storage unit are selected from the group consisting of: uniforms, wearable equipment, field gear, or any combination thereof.
  • [0016]
    In an embodiment of the present invention, the modular storage unit includes a top panel that is disposed between and that is generally on top of the end panels that define a top surface of the storage space. In another embodiment of the present invention, the modular storage unit further comprises a secondary storage structure that is carried by and above the top panel.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0017]
    FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a modular storage system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of a modular storage system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of a modular storage system according to an embodiment of the present invention depicting a cart being manually moved along a track;
  • [0020]
    FIG. 4 is a top front perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0021]
    FIG. 5 is an exploded view of a base of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0022]
    FIG. 6 is a top front perspective view of the base of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0023]
    FIG. 7 is a bottom front perspective view of the base of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0024]
    FIG. 8 is a top front perspective view of the base of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0025]
    FIG. 9 is a top front perspective view of the frame post of the base according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0026]
    FIG. 10 is a top front perspective view of a bumper according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0027]
    FIG. 11 is a top front perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0028]
    FIG. 12 is a top front perspective view of the frame post of the base according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0029]
    FIG. 13 is a top front perspective view of the frame and wire-grille panel according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0030]
    FIG. 14 is a top front perspective view of a bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0031]
    FIG. 15 is a top front perspective view of a bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0032]
    FIG. 16 is a top front perspective view of a bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0033]
    FIG. 17 is a top front perspective view of a locking bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0034]
    FIG. 18 is a perspective view of an outside bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0035]
    FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view of an outside bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0036]
    FIG. 20 is a perspective view of a locking bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0037]
    FIG. 21 is a cross-sectional view of a locking bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0038]
    FIG. 22 is a perspective view of an inside bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0039]
    FIG. 23 is a cross-sectional view of an inside bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0040]
    FIG. 24 is a top front perspective view of a handle bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0041]
    FIG. 25 is a top front perspective view of a handle bracket and handle according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0042]
    FIG. 26 is a perspective view of an inside handle bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0043]
    FIG. 27 is a cross-sectional view of an inside handle bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0044]
    FIG. 28 is a perspective view of an outside handle bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0045]
    FIG. 29 is a cross-sectional view of an outside handle bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0046]
    FIG. 30 is a top front perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0047]
    FIG. 31 is a top front perspective view of a top of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0048]
    FIG. 32 is a top front perspective view of a top of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0049]
    FIG. 33 is a top elevation view of a top panel extrusion of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0050]
    FIG. 34 is a cross-sectional view of a top panel extrusion of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0051]
    FIG. 35 is a perspective view of a top panel extrusion of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0052]
    FIG. 36 is a top front perspective view of the frame, wire-grille panel, and solid panel according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0053]
    FIG. 37 is a top front perspective view of the track of a modular storage system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0054]
    FIG. 38 is a cross-sectional view of the track of a modular storage system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0055]
    FIG. 39 is a perspective view of the track of a modular storage system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0056]
    FIG. 40 is a perspective view of the track of a modular storage system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0057]
    FIG. 41 is a perspective view of the track of a modular storage system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0058]
    FIG. 42 is a perspective view of the track follower of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0059]
    FIG. 43 a is a top elevation view of the plunger of a track follower according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0060]
    FIG. 43 b is a side elevation view of the plunger of a track follower according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0061]
    FIG. 44 a is a side elevation view of the roller of a track follower according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0062]
    FIG. 44 b is a top elevation view of the roller of a track follower according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0063]
    FIG. 44 c is a cross-sectional view of the roller of a track follower according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0064]
    FIG. 45 is a cross-sectional view of the shoulder bolt of a track follower according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0065]
    FIG. 46 is a perspective view of the plunger guide of a track follower according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0066]
    FIG. 47 is a top front perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0067]
    FIG. 48 is an exploded view of a base of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0068]
    FIG. 49 is a top front perspective view of the base of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0069]
    FIG. 50 a is a perspective view of a wheel mechanism of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0070]
    FIG. 50 b is a front and side view of a wheel mechanism of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0071]
    FIG. 51 is an exploded view of a track follower mechanism of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0072]
    FIG. 52 is a perspective view of the plunger clip of a track follower according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0073]
    FIG. 53 is a perspective view of the backer of a track follower according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0074]
    FIG. 54 is a perspective view of a track follower mechanism of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0075]
    FIG. 55 is a top front perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0076]
    FIG. 56 is a top front perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0077]
    FIG. 57 a is a cross-sectional view of a bypass door track of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0078]
    FIG. 57 b is a side elevation view of a bypass door track of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0079]
    FIG. 57 c is a top elevation view of a bypass door track of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0080]
    FIG. 58 is a cross-sectional view of a bypass door glide of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0081]
    FIG. 59 is a side elevation view of a bypass door glide of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0082]
    FIG. 60 a is a front elevation view of a bypass door of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0083]
    FIG. 60 b is a side elevation view of a bypass door of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0084]
    FIG. 61 is an exploded view of a bypass door latch of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0085]
    FIG. 62 is an exploded view of a bypass door latch of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0086]
    FIG. 63 is an exploded view of a bypass door roller of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0087]
    FIG. 64 is an exploded view of a bypass door glide of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0088]
    FIG. 65 is a perspective view of a bypass door track of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0089]
    FIG. 66 is a perspective view of a bypass door track of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0090]
    FIG. 67 is a perspective view of a bypass door track of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0091]
    FIG. 68 is a perspective view of a bypass door roller of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0092]
    FIG. 69 is a perspective view of a wire-grille panel and truss system of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0093]
    FIG. 70 is a perspective view of a truss of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0094]
    FIG. 71 a is a rear perspective view of a truss hanger according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0095]
    FIG. 71 a is a front perspective view of a truss hanger according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0096]
    FIG. 72 is a front perspective view of a shelf hanger according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0097]
    FIG. 73 is a perspective view of a truss of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0098]
    FIG. 74 is a perspective view of a helmet hanger of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0099]
    FIG. 75 is a perspective view of a cart having fully populated helmet hangers according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0100]
    FIG. 76 is a perspective view of a long pad hanger of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0101]
    FIG. 77 is a perspective view of a short pad hanger of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0102]
    FIG. 78 is a perspective view of a cart having fully populated pad hangers according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0103]
    FIG. 79 is a perspective view of a hanger of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0104]
    FIG. 80 is a perspective view of a hanger of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0105]
    FIG. 81 is a perspective view of a cart having fully populated pad stackers according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0106]
    FIG. 82 is a perspective view of a cart having an unpopulated pad stacker according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0107]
    FIG. 83 is a perspective view of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0108]
    FIG. 84 a is an elevation view of a pad tower of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0109]
    FIG. 84 b is bottom elevation view of a pad tower of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0110]
    FIG. 84 c is an elevation view of a pad tower of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0111]
    FIG. 84 d is a perspective view of a pad tower of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0112]
    FIG. 85 a is a side elevation view of a base of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0113]
    FIG. 85 b is a top elevation view of a base of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0114]
    FIG. 85 c is a side elevation view of a base of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0115]
    FIG. 86 a is a side elevation view of a pad support of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0116]
    FIG. 86 b is a side elevation view of a pad support of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0117]
    FIG. 86 c is a top elevation view of a pad support of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0118]
    FIG. 87 a is a perspective view of a support channel of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0119]
    FIG. 87 b is a side elevation view of a support channel of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0120]
    FIG. 87 c is a top elevation view of a support channel of a pad stacker of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0121]
    FIG. 88 is a perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0122]
    FIG. 89 is a perspective view of the track follower of a cart and a track according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0123]
    FIG. 90 is a perspective view of the track follower of a cart and a track according to an embodiment of the present invention depicting the track follower in an engaged position;
  • [0124]
    FIG. 91 is a perspective view of the track follower of a cart and a track according to an embodiment of the present invention depicting the track follower in a retained position;
  • [0125]
    FIG. 92 is a perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention depicting the cart partially outside of the storage site;
  • [0126]
    FIG. 93 a is a perspective view of the track follower of a cart and a track according to an embodiment of the present invention depicting the track follower in a locked position by a plunger lock bracket;
  • [0127]
    FIG. 93 b is a perspective view of the plunger lock bracket according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0128]
    FIG. 94 is a perspective view of a cart, track, and island stop according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0129]
    FIG. 95 is a perspective view of an island stop base of an island stop according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0130]
    FIG. 96 is a perspective view of a cart having an attic according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0131]
    FIG. 97 is a perspective view of an attic of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0132]
    FIG. 98 a is a perspective view of an attic frame of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0133]
    FIG. 98 b is a side elevation view of an attic frame of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0134]
    FIG. 98 c is a side elevation view of an attic frame of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0135]
    FIG. 99 is a cross-sectional view of a cart having a video system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0136]
    FIG. 100 is a cross-sectional view of a cart having a video system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0137]
    FIG. 101 is a side elevation view of a cart having a video system according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0138]
    FIG. 102 is a perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0139]
    FIG. 103 is a perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0140]
    FIG. 104 is a perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0141]
    FIG. 105 is a perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0142]
    FIG. 106 is a perspective view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0143]
    FIG. 107 a is a perspective view of a pull handle according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0144]
    FIG. 107 b is a top view of a pull handle according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0145]
    FIG. 107 c is a side view of a pull handle according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0146]
    FIG. 107 d is a front view of a pull handle according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0147]
    FIG. 107 e is a sectional side view of a pull handle according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0148]
    FIG. 108 is a top view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0149]
    FIG. 109 is a side view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention; and
  • [0150]
    FIG. 110 is a bottom view of a cart according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0151]
    As depicted in FIGS. 1-3, a modular storage system 110 according to an embodiment of the present invention generally comprises a track 114 and a plurality of carts 112, 212. In a preferred embodiment, the carts 112 are arranged in a storage facility along a single track 114. The storage facility can be a retrofitted area of an already existing facility or the storage facility can be designed and implemented into a newly constructed facility. In an already existing facility, the track 114 is preferably positioned onto and connected to a pre-selected portion of a floor. In a newly constructed facility, the track 114 is preferably integrated directly into or onto a newly formed floor.
  • [0152]
    The modular storage system as depicted in FIG. 1 includes a mixture of retained carts 112 (as shown in FIG. 3) and modular carts 212 (as shown in FIG. 55). As can be seen in FIG. 3, the retained carts 112 populated with uniforms and equipment are preferably movable by manual force in a direction that is generally parallel to and along the track 114. The modular carts 212 as depicted in FIG. 55 are also preferably movable along the track 114. In addition to being movable along the track 114, the modular carts 212 can also be removed from the storage site 111 and taken to an off-site location.
  • [0153]
    It will be understood that the mixture of retained carts 112 and modular carts 212 can be of any number and mix, depending upon the length of the track 114 installed at the storage facility and the width of each cart 112, 212. It will also be appreciated that any number of tracks 114 could be installed in a variety of floor plan configurations at a given storage facility given the dimensions of the floor plan of the storage facility. As shown in FIG. 1, some of the retained carts 112 are full width (112 a) and others are half width (112 b). Preferably, all of the carts 112, 212 have a similar length, although this is not required. For purposes of describing the preferred embodiments of the present invention, the carts 112, 212 will be referred to as having a width in a direction generally parallel to the track 114 and a length in a direction generally perpendicular to the track 114. Similarly, the carts 112, 212 will have sides oriented along the length of the carts and end oriented along the width of the carts.
  • [0154]
    The carts 112, 212 generally comprise a reconfigurable storage structure that includes a number of different means for storing uniforms, equipment, and other items used by field operational units. The modular storage system 110 as depicted in the figures is designed to accommodate high school athletic equipment. As such, the following description of different means for storing uniforms, equipment, and other items is generally directed to athletic equipment storage. However, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the storage structures and means could be easily used to accommodate a number of different operational units, including, but not limited to, construction industries, medical and hospital organizations, military and paramilitary organizations, theatre companies, and marching and concert bands.
  • [0155]
    In addition, the arrangement of the track 114 and carts 112. 212 allow users to come to the storage facility, quickly find their equipment in a particular cart, move the carts along the track to access the appropriate cart, remove their equipment from the cart, and move on to an off-storage-site location with the necessary equipment. Because the uniforms and equipment are organized and arranged within the carts, those persons who monitor and track the equipment to be stored in the modular storage system 110 are able to determine what equipment remains within the storage facility and what equipment is being used at an offsite location. When users return to the storage facility to return their uniforms or equipment, they can give the uniforms and equipment to the persons responsible for monitoring and tracking the equipment, who can then return the equipment to the proper cart within the storage facility. Alternatively, users can return their own equipment to the proper cart within the storage facility.
  • [0156]
    Because the modular carts 212 can be taken out of the confines of the storage facility and transported to an off-site location, the modular storage system 110 of the present invention permits operational units that require large amounts of uniforms and various pieces of equipment to transport the uniforms and equipment in an organized manner. By doing so, the units are much less likely to forget or lose track of the uniforms and equipment. For example, military units often travel with large amounts of gear including uniforms, weapons, first aid kits, tents, cots, ammunition, and other equipment. When the military unit must travel, the logistics of transporting the members and equipment can create pose significant logistical problems. However, by using a modular storage system 110 according to the various embodiments of the present invention, the military unit can travel in an organized manner. Each uniform and piece of equipment can have a position within the carts 112, 212 when leaving a storage facility and when arriving at a destination. Because the equipment does not need to be removed from the cart during transportation, much time and effort can be saved by not having to load and unload any containers.
  • [0157]
    Also, when inventory is taken prior to leaving a storage facility, inventorying is not required when arriving at a destination as there is no need to remove anything from the cart. These same benefits occur with other operational units such as athletic teams, construction industries, medical and hospital organizations, theatre companies, marching and concert bands, police and fire departments, and medical rescue teams.
  • [0158]
    Description of the Retained Carts
  • [0159]
    Referring to FIGS. 3-12, embodiments of the retained cart will be described. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 100's are generally used to denote the base features and components of the retained carts 112. The retained carts 112 are preferably retained within the storage facility during normal use and not designed to be removable from the storage facility. In order to be removed from the storage facility, the retained carts 112 generally would need to be lifted out of the track 114 by selectively releasing them from the confines of the track 114 and then carried out of the storage facility (i.e., to a location other than the location of the track 114). Alternatively, the track 114 may be removed in order to permit the retained carts 114 to be removed from the storage facility.
  • [0160]
    As depicted in FIG. 4, a retained cart 112 according to an embodiment of the present invention preferably comprises a cart base 116, a cart top 122, a front end 118, and a rear end 120 opposed the front end 18. The cart base 116, cart top 122, front end 118, and rear end 120 generally define a reconfigurable storage structure. The front end 118, rear end 120, and cart top 122 preferably have substantially similar structure on both the retained cart 112 and modular cart 212. As such, the discussion of the front end 118, rear end 120, and cart top 122 with respect to the retained cart 112 is therefore relevant and incorporated by reference to the later discussion with respect to the modular cart 212. For purposes of this description, front is used to reference the end of the cart base that, when in position on the track 114, is closest to the track 114. Rear is used to reference the end of the cart base 116 that is furthest from the track 114.
  • [0161]
    The cart base 116 of the retained cart 112 according to an embodiment of the present invention, as depicted in FIGS. 5-8, preferably comprises a bottom 124, a pair of opposed base sides 130a, 130b connected to the bottom 124, a front plate 126, and an opposed rear plate 128. The front plate 126 and rear plate 128 are operably connected to a bottom front 132 and a bottom rear 134, respectively, wherein the bottom front 132 and bottom rear 134 are preferably substantially perpendicular to the opposed sides 130 a, 130 b. As can be seen in FIG. 2, the bottom 124, front plate 126, rear plate 128, and base sides 130 a, 130 b generally define a storage basement 117 that can be used to store various equipment or articles below a horizontal level of a top surface of base sides 130 a, 130 b. The bottom 124, front plate 126, rear plate 128, and base sides 130 a, 130 b are preferably constructed of sheet steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composites materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0162]
    The cart base 116 further preferably comprises a plurality of preferably cylindrical frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d disposed on the base sides 130 a, 130 b where the base sides 130 a, 130 b intersect the front plate 126 and rear plate 128. The frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d preferably include a post slot 171 such that the base sides 130 a, 130 b and frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d can be connected by sliding the post slots 171 onto the base sides 130 a, 130 b. Although the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d are depicted as being cylindrical in shape, it is contemplated that they may be square, rectangular, or any other geometric shape. The frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0163]
    As depicted in FIG. 5, the front plate 126 and rear plate 128 are preferably “C” or channel shaped and comprise concave-shaped plate ends 146 so that the plates 126, 128 substantially abut the cylindrical frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d when the cart base 116 is assembled. The front plate 126 and rear plate 128 are preferably connected to the bottom 124 using fasteners 800. The terms “fastener” as used in this application includes screw, bolt, nut, rivet, snap, or other generally known mechanical fasteners. Although the plates 126, 128 are depicted as being “C” or channel shaped, it is contemplated that they be curved or flat. As depicted in FIG. 6, the front plate preferably includes a logo plate 144.
  • [0164]
    While the preferred embodiment of the present invention describes the operable connection of various members and elements of the carts 112, 212 with the use of mechanical fasteners 800, the various components of the carts 112, 212 could be assembled by welding or gluing in an alternative embodiment. It will be understood, however, that this alternate embodiment of assembling the carts 112, 212 does not facilitate easily on-site assembly of the carts 112, 212 as is provided for by the preferred embodiment.
  • [0165]
    The cart base 116 further preferably comprises a pair of opposed beams 164 a, 164 b disposed on and extending along the base sides 130 a, 130 b between the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d. The beams 164 a, 164 b are preferably tubular in shape and comprise concave shaped beam ends 166 so that the beams 164 a, 164 b substantially abut the cylindrical frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d. While the beam cross-sections as depicted are tubular in shape, it is contemplated that the beams have a different shaped cross-section, such as square, rectangular, flat, or other various geometric shapes. The beams 164 a, 164 b are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0166]
    The bottom 124 preferably comprises a top surface 136, an underside 138 opposed the top surface 136, and a plurality of wheel slots 140 extending from the top surface 136 through the underside 138. The wheel slots 140 are preferably located proximate the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, and 168 d. The bottom 124 further comprises a support bar 142 that is disposed on the underside 138 extending substantially between the opposed base sides 130 a, 130 b. The support bar 142 as depicted has a square-shaped cross-section although it is contemplated that the support bar 142 be flat or tubular in shape. The support bar 142 is preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials or plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Each wheel slot 140 preferably comprises an axle plate 150 having an axle pin aperture 158 and a plurality of axle plate tabs 160.
  • [0167]
    The cart base 116 further preferably comprises a plurality of wheels covers 148, each wheel cover 148 having a plurality of axle pin apertures 152, a plurality of wheel cover tabs 154, and a plurality of axle plate tab slots 156. When the wheel cover 148 is placed onto the bottom 124 of the cart base 116, the wheel cover 148 preferably extends between the opposed sides 130 a, 130 b. In this position, the wheel cover tabs 154 are inserted into a plurality of wheel cover tab slots 162 included on the bottom 124 of the cart base 116 and the axle plate tabs 160 on the axle plates 150 are inserted into the axle plate tab slots 156 on the wheel covers 148. The wheel cover tabs 154 and axle plate tabs 160 assist in holding the axle plates 150 and wheel covers 148 in place. The wheel covers 148 and axle plates 150 are preferably constructed of sheet steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials or plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0168]
    The components of the above-described cart base 116 are preferably selected, configured, and assembled so that the base 116 has a structural integrity and strength sufficient so that when the carts 112 are moved along the track 114, the carts 112 will not canter, flex, or bend by more than 5 degrees from normal to the track 114, and preferably by no more than 2-3 degrees from normal. By having such a structural integrity, when the carts 112 are moved along the track 114, the cart will not bind on the track 114, thus allowing easy manual movement of the carts 112 along the preferred embodiment of a single track 114. As a result of this preferred structural integrity, the present invention is able to dispense with the need for dual track arrangements as is generally taught in the modular storage systems of the prior art.
  • [0169]
    With continuing reference to FIG. 6, the cart base 116 preferably comprises at least three wheel mechanisms 172. The wheel mechanisms 172 on the retained cart 112 are generally axle-type wheels and generally comprise a wheel 174 having a wheel aperture 176, an axle pin 178 extending through the wheel aperture 176, and a plurality of washers 180. To connect each wheel 174 to the cart base 116, prior to placing the wheel covers 148 onto the cart base 116, the axle pin 178 is first inserted through the axle pin aperture 152 in the wheel cover 148. The axle pin 178 is then preferably inserted through a washer 180, the wheel aperture 176, through more washers 180, and then through the axle pin aperture 158 in the axle plate 150. The axle pin 178 is then connected to the wheel cover 148 by inserting a fastener 800 through a portion of the axle pin 178 into the wheel cover 148. The axle pins 178 and washers 180 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. When the wheel mechanisms 172 are installed on the cart base 116, at least a portion of the wheels 174 extends below the underside 138 of the bottom 124. The wheels 174 are preferably constructed of nylon or polyolefin, such as part number PB0820112WS02 from Tricker Caster & Wheel Sales in Fairbault, Minn., although other equivalent polymer materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. In a preferred embodiment, a total of four wheel mechanisms 172 are utilized, with one pair of wheel mechanisms 172 on each end of the cart base 116. It will be understood that any number of wheel mechanism 172 greater than two could be incorporated into the design of the cart base 116 to decrease the weight load per wheel mechanism 172, for example, by providing additional wheel mechanisms 172 positioned at different points along the length of the cart base 116. In another embodiment of the present invention, the wheel 174 could be a caster wheel or ball wheel.
  • [0170]
    The cart base 116 further comprises at least one track follower mechanism 182. The track follower mechanism 182 can be seen in FIG. 5 and in greater detail in FIGS. 42-46. As depicted in the figures, the retained cart 112 according to an embodiment of the present invention includes two track follower mechanisms 182 positioned at opposite sides of the front end 118, although it is contemplated that the carts 112 could include one or more track follower mechanisms 182 positioned to engage the track 114 wherever the track 114 is positioned relative to the length of the carts 112, 212. For example, in an alternate embodiment, the track 114 and corresponding track follower mechanisms 182 could be positioned proximate the rear end 120 of the carts 112 or the track followers 182 could be positioned at any position along the length of the cart 112, for example, in the middle of the length of the cart 112. It will be understood, however, that the advantage of the positioning of the track follower mechanisms 182 on the front end of the carts 112 permits for easy following of a single track with the ability to manually move the carts 112 with a minimum amount of effort.
  • [0171]
    The track follower mechanism 182 comprises a track follower 184 having a plunger 186 that is preferably cylindrical in shape and a roller 192 connected to the plunger 186 using a shoulder bolt 194. The frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d preferably include a plunger guide 190, such that when the track follower mechanism 182 is inserted into the frame post 168, the plunger 186 of the track follower mechanism 182 rests within the plunger guide 190. Once the plunger 186 rests within the plunger guide 190, the roller 192 can be connected to the plunger 186 using the shoulder bolt 194. In this position, the track follower mechanism 182 is vertically movable and rotatable about the plunger 186 within the frame post 168 in the plunger guide 190. When the track follower mechanism 182 is inserted into the frame posts 168 a, 168 d, the track follower roller 192 extends below the frame posts 168 a, 168 d. A plunger cap 188 on the plunger 186 opposite the shoulder bolt 194 prevents the track follower mechanism 182 from falling out of the frame post 168. The roller 192 is preferably constructed of glass-filled nylon, although other materials such as steel, aluminum, bronze, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The plunger 186, shoulder bolt 194, and plunger guide 190 are preferably constructed of steel or aluminum, although other materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0172]
    The cart base 116 further preferably includes a plurality of bumpers 196. As depicted in FIGS. 8-12, the bumpers 196 are preferably cylindrical or donut-shaped and preferably comprise a bumper clearance aperture 198 and a bumper flat surface 199. The bumpers 196 are placed onto the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d so that the bumper clearance apertures 198 are substantially aligned with post clearance apertures 170 that are included on the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d. In this position the bumper flat surfaces 199 on the bumpers 196 proximate the rear plate 128 substantially face one another and the bumper flat surfaces 199 on the bumpers 196 proximate the front plate 126 substantially face one another. This flat surface 199 extends laterally beyond vertical members 304 of frames 302 to provide clearance for any panels that are placed onto the carts 112. The bumpers 196 are preferably constructed of nylon, although other materials such as rubber or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0173]
    The bumpers 196 protect adjacent carts 112, 212 when the carts 112, 212 are moved along the track 114 within the storage facility. If a first cart 112 is moved towards a second cart 112, such that the carts 112 contact one another, the bumpers 196 on the first cart 112 will contact the bumpers 196 of a second cart 112 rather than other parts of the carts 112 coming into contact with one another. As the bumpers 196 are constructed of nylon or other similar resilient materials, they will absorb the forces exerted when adjacent carts 112 are moved into an abutting relation along the track 114.
  • [0174]
    The cart as depicted in FIG. 4 also preferably comprises a front end 118 and a rear end 120, each end 118, 120 preferably comprising a frame 302 and a wire-grille panel 300 connected to the frame 302 using a plurality of brackets 310. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 300's are generally used to denote the features and components of frame, ends and top of the retained carts 112. The frame 302 comprises a pair of generally opposed vertical members 304 connected by a substantially horizontal member 306. As depicted in FIGS. 11-12, to connect the frames 302 to the cart base 116, the lower portion 305 of the vertical members 304 are inserted into the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d. Once the frame 302 is inserted into the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d, a fastener 800 is inserted through the bumper clearance aperture 198 through the frame post aperture 170, and into the aperture in the frame. While the frames as depicted are tubular in shape, it is contemplated that the frames have a different shaped cross-section, such as square, rectangular, flat, or other various geometric shapes. The frames 302 are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The wire-grille panel 300 is preferably constructed of wire steel, although other materials such as mesh or plastic wire could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0175]
    In a preferred embodiment, the wire-grille panel 300 allows air to move within the cart 112. When uniforms or wearable equipment are placed into the cart 112, the air movement will allow the uniforms and wearable equipment to dry out, preventing any mold, fingus, or bacteria from forming and spreading on the uniforms and wearable equipment. Preferably, the wire-grille panels 300 have an at least 25% opening in the panel and optionally an at least 50% and up to 95% opening. Although the panels 300 are preferably constructed as wire-grilles, solid panels with equivalent cut out apertures could also be utilized to achieve the desired airflow.
  • [0176]
    The brackets 310 are generally used to connect the wire-grille panel 300, or a solid panel 326 as depicted in FIG. 36, to the frames 302. As depicted in FIGS. 14-22, the brackets 310 comprise an inside bracket portion 312 and an outside bracket portion 314. In order to connect the wire-grille panel 300 to the frame 302, the wire-grille panel 300 is placed into the frame 302 and the inside bracket portion 312 and outside bracket portion 314 are placed together so that they capture the frame 302 and wire-grille panel 300. The inside bracket portion 312 and outside bracket portion 314 are then connected using a plurality of fasteners 800.
  • [0177]
    As depicted in FIG. 17, the bracket 310 can also include a lock portion 316. When one desires to connect adjacent carts 112 in a modular storage system 110, brackets 310 comprising lock portions 316 are included. To lock adjacent carts 112 together, adjacent carts 112 including lock portions 316 are placed together. A lock is then inserted into the lock portions 316 of each bracket 310 and then secured. The brackets 310 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0178]
    Once the frames 302 and wire-grille panels 300 or solid panels 326 have been installed on the cart base 116, the cart base 116, and panels on the front end 118 and rear end 120 generally define a storage structure. As discussed below, the storage structure is preferably reconfigurable and can be used to store uniforms, wearable equipment, equipment, gear and other various articles for equipping field operational units.
  • [0179]
    As depicted in FIGS. 4 and 30, the front end 118 further preferably comprises a handle 324 connected to the frame 302 with a handle bracket 318 having an inside handle bracket portion 320 and outside handle bracket portion 322. Once the wire-grille panel 300 has been positioned in the frame 302, the inside handle bracket portion 320 and outside handle bracket portion 322 are placed together so that they capture the frame 302 and wire-grille panel 300. Fasteners 800 are then inserted through the inside handle bracket portion 320 and outside handle bracket portion 322 and into the handles 324. The handles 324 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0180]
    The ends of the carts 112 can also preferably include labeling panels that can be attached to the wire-grille panels 300 or solid panels 326. By including a labeling panel, those using the carts 112 can determine what the cart 112 contains without needing to look within the cart, but by merely looking at the labeling panel.
  • [0181]
    As stated above, and as depicted in FIG. 36, the front end 118 and rear end 120 can also include a solid panel 326. Once the wire-grille panel 300 has been positioned in the frame 302, the solid panel 326 is then positioned in the frame 302. The inside bracket portion 312 and outside bracket portion 314 are then placed together so that they capture the frame 302 and wire-grille panel 300. Fasteners 800 are then inserted through the inside bracket portion 312 and outside bracket portion 314. In an embodiment of the present invention, the solid panel 326 is substantially the same size as the wire-grille panel 300.
  • [0182]
    In another embodiment of the present invention, the solid panel 326 comprises a plurality of solid panel 326 sections selectively positioned on the wire-grille panel 300. In another embodiment of the present invention, the carts 112 could comprise a solid panel 326 without using a wire-grille panel 300. In a preferred embodiment, the solid panels 326 are preferably constructed of 5/8″ veneer core plywood with a laminate overlay, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0183]
    As depicted in FIG. 4, the cart 112 also preferably comprises a top 122, which can be seen in greater detail in FIGS. 31-35. The cart top 122 generally comprises a top panel 328 extending from the front frame 302 a to the rear frame 302 b and a plurality of top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b positioned on opposing sides of the top panel 328 and extending substantially along the length of the top panel 328. The top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b are preferably connected to top panel 328 using a plurality of fasteners 800. As can be seen in the figures, the top panel extrusions preferably have a profile that matches the profile of the end frames 302 where the vertical members 304 intersect the horizontal member 306. The top panel 328 is positioned on support brackets 308 disposed on the horizontal member 306 of the frames 302. Once the top panel 328 is positioned on support brackets 308, it is then preferably connected to the support brackets 308 using fasteners 800.
  • [0184]
    Once the top panel 328 is connected to the frames 302 a, 302 b, the top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b are connected to the top panel 328 using fasteners 800. Roof caps 332 are then connected to the top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b using fasteners 800. The roof caps 332 protect the top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b and provide a more aesthetically appealing appearance. The top panels 328 are preferably constructed of ⅝″ veneer core plywood with a laminate overlay, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The roof caps 332 are preferably constructed of 14-gauge steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0185]
    As depicted in FIGS. 96-98, the cart 112, in an embodiment of the present invention, an attic 334 is disposed on the cart top 122 of the cart 112. The attic 334 comprises a pair of generally opposed attic frames 336 a, 336 b separated by and connected to an attic top 338. The attic 334 further preferably comprises attic wire-grille panels 340 connected to the attic frames 336 a, 336 b using brackets 342 that are substantially similar to brackets 310 described above. The attic top 338 is preferably the same length as the cart top 122. The attic 334 is assembled substantially as described with reference to earlier discussion of the construction and materials of the cart 112, the earlier discussion being incorporated with reference to the attic 334.
  • [0186]
    As depicted in FIGS. 55-56, the retained cart 112 and modular cart 212 can further comprise a bypass door mechanism 344. The bypass door mechanism 344 comprises at least one bypass door 350, a bottom door track 348, and a top door track 346. The at least one bypass door 350 is preferably constructed of ⅝″ veneer core plywood with a laminate overlay, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The door tracks 346, 348 are preferably constructed of extruded aluminum, although other materials such as alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
  • [0187]
    According to an embodiment of the present invention, the bypass doors 350 comprise a bottom door glide 354 and a top door glide 352 connected to the bottom 353 and top 351 of the bypass door 350, respectively. As depicted in FIG. 64, the glides 354, 352 are connected to the bypass door 350 using fasteners 800. The bypass door 350 also preferably comprises a latch mechanism 360 connected to the bypass door 350 using fasteners 800, as can be seen in FIG. 61-62. The bottom door glide 354 preferably comprises a plurality of door rollers 356. As depicted in FIG. 63, the door rollers 356 are connected to the bottom door glide 354 using fasteners 800 and door roller plate 358. The door glides 354, 352 are preferably constructed of extruded aluminum, although other materials such as steel, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The latch mechanisms 360 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The door rollers 356 are preferably constructed of sintered bronze, although other materials such as nylon, urethane, or various polymer materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
  • [0188]
    An alternative embodiment of the bypass door 350 b can be seen in FIGS. 65-68. The door 350 b of this embodiment comprises a plurality of door rollers 356 b disposed on the bottom of the door 350 b and a plurality of door claws 362 disposed at the top 351 b of the door 350 b. When the doors 350 b are assembled on the cart 12, the claws 362 slide along the top door track 346 b disposed on the top 351 b of the door 350 b.
  • [0189]
    The Track
  • [0190]
    The modular storage system 110 preferably comprises a single track 114. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 400's are generally used to denote the features and components of the track 114. Although a single track 114 is preferably utilized, it will be understood that for certain aspects of the present invention, a plurality of tracks 114 may be provided and utilized within the scope of those aspects of the present invention.
  • [0191]
    As depicted in FIGS. 37-41, the track 114 of the modular storage system 110 generally comprises a track length 400, a track width 402, a channel 404 extending along the track length 400, and a pair of generally opposed ramped surfaces 406, the ramped surfaces 406 being perpendicular to the track length 400. In an embodiment of the present invention, the track length 400 comprises a unitary, integral track section. In another embodiment of the present invention, the track 114 comprises separate track sections connected using a plurality of spring pins 408. As depicted in FIGS. 39-40, to connect separate track portions, the spring pins 408 are inserted into a cross-section of the track 114 and the portions are then placed together.
  • [0192]
    For cross-sections of the track 114 that end in the middle of a room, i.e., not at a wall, a track cap 410 having dimensions that are substantially the same as the exposed cross-section is preferably connected to the track 114 using fasteners 800 to prevent the carts 112, 212 from moving beyond the track length 400. The track cap 410 also protects the exposed cross-section and provides a pleasing appearance. The track 114 is preferably constructed of extruded aluminum, although other materials such as steel could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The spring pins 408 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, bronze, or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The track caps 410 are preferably constructed of 16-gauge steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • [0193]
    In an embodiment of the present invention, the track 114 can be installed into a newly formed surface. In this embodiment, the ramped surfaces 406 would not be required, as the channel 404 would be incorporated below the surface of a floor. The track 114 could also be installed on the floor of a vehicle, the floor of a trailer, or the floor of a storage system than includes a plurality of movable floors.
  • [0194]
    The Modular Cart
  • [0195]
    Referring now to FIG. 47, a modular cart 212 in accordance with the present invention will be described. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 200's are generally used to denote the features and components of the modular cart 212. As shown in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 47, the modular cart 212 generally comprises a base 216, a top 222, a front end 218, and a rear end 220 generally opposed the front end 218, wherein the cart base 216, top 222, front end 218, and rear end 220 generally define a storage structure. The modular cart 212 according to this embodiment is designed to be selectively removable from the track 114 in the storage facility for purposes of transporting equipment and articles within the modular cart 212 to an off-site location. Once the logistical purposes of equipping a field unit at a location off-site and remote from the storage facility have been accomplished, the modular cart 212 can be reloaded with the equipment, gear and articles and returned to the storage facility where it can then be selectively re-engaged with the track 114 as part of the modular storage system 110.
  • [0196]
    As can be seen in FIG. 47, the ends 218, 220 and top 222 of this embodiment of the cart 212 are substantially similar to those as described in relation to the cart 112 according the first embodiment as described above. The above discussion of the ends 118, 120 and top 122 for the retained cart 112 is hereby incorporated with respect to the ends 218, 220 and 222 of the modular cart 212 according to this embodiment.
  • [0197]
    The cart base 216 of the modular cart, as depicted in FIGS. 48-49, comprises a bottom 224, a front plate 226 and a rear plate 228 connected to the bottom 224 using fasteners 800, and a pair of generally opposed sides 230 a, 230 b. The cart base 216 further preferably comprises a plurality of cylindrical frame posts 268 disposed on the sides 230 a, 230 b. The frame posts 268 preferably include a side slot 271 such that the sides 230 a, 230 b can be connected to the frame posts 268 by sliding the sides 230 a, 230 b into the slots 271. The cart base 216 also preferably comprises beams 264 connected to the sides 230 a, 230 b and extending substantially from the frame posts 268 proximate the front plate 226 to the frame posts 268 proximate the rear plate 228.
  • [0198]
    The bottom 224 generally includes a plurality of wheel mechanisms 272, each wheel mechanism 270 comprising a caster 275 and a wheel 274. As depicted in FIG. 50, the casters 275 are connected to the bottom 224 using fasteners 800. It is contemplated that the casters 275 be pivotable or static. Wheel mechanisms 272 according to the various embodiments of the present invention are preferably exemplified by part number 16-XA-06201-S from Tricker Caster & Wheel Sales in Fairbault, Minn. Again, any number of wheel mechanisms 272 greater than two could be provided on the cart base 216. The casters 275 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Wheels 274 according to this embodiment are preferably constructed of urethane, although other materials such as nylon or other similar polymer materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. In another embodiment of the present invention, the wheel 274 could be an axled wheel or ball wheel. The wheel mechanisms 227 are preferably 6″ to 9″ high, optimally 7.5″ high, and the wheels 274 preferably have a diameter of approximately 4″ to 8″, optimally 6.0″ and a width of approximately 1.5″ to 3″, optimally 2.0″. The wheels 274 each have a load rating of at least 500-100 pounds, optimally 850 pounds. As can be seen in FIG. 50 a, the wheels 274 preferably comprise a concave cross-section in which the diameter at the center of the wheel is slightly larger than the diameter at the edges of the width of the wheel.
  • [0199]
    The cart base 216 also preferably comprises a plurality of track follower mechanisms 282. The track follower mechanisms 282 are substantially the same as the track follower mechanisms 182 described above. However, track follower mechanisms 282 further comprise a locking mechanism 293 as depicted in FIGS. 51-54. The locking mechanism 293 allows a user to lock the track follower 284 up in a retained position when the modular cart 212 is removed from the track 114 in the storage facility. As depicted in FIGS. 51-54, the locking mechanism 293 preferably comprises a lever arrangement with a plunger clip 295 and a backer 297, both the plunger clip 295 and backer 297 preferably being L-shaped, the plunger clip 295 and backer 297 being connected to the underside 238 using fasteners 800. The plunger clip 295 and backer 297 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. Although the locking mechanism 293 is preferably described in terms of the lever arrangement as described, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that numerous other locking mechanisms could be implemented to secure the track follower mechanism 282 in a retained position, such as a pin and aperture arrangement, a friction fit or wedge arrangement, a screw arrangement, a slot and ledge arrangement or the like.
  • [0200]
    Although the track follower mechanism 282 and locking mechanism 293 are preferably disposed on the front end 218 of the modular cart 220, it will be recognized that alternate embodiments are also contemplated by the present invention. For example, in an alternate embodiment, the track 114 and corresponding track follower mechanisms 282 could be positioned proximate the rear end 220 of the carts 212 with appropriate coupling and linkages could be provided for mechanical triggering the track follower mechanism 282 and locking mechanism 293 from the front end 218 of the cart 212. In another embodiment, the track followers 282 could be positioned at any position along the length of the cart 212, for example, in the middle of the length of the cart 112 corresponding to placement of the track 114, and electronic powered controls, such as battery operated solenoids, could be used to remotely operated the track follower mechanism 282 and locking mechanism 293.
  • [0201]
    Trusses, Hangers Stackers and Shelves
  • [0202]
    Referring now to FIGS. 69-73, the carts 112, 212 preferably include a truss system 364 having a truss or rod 366 and a truss hanger 376. The truss 366 comprises a truss hanger 376 and preferably comprises a first truss member 370 and a second truss member 372. The second truss member 372 is preferably shorter in length than the first truss member 370. The truss 366 can be selectively positioned on the wire-grille panel 300 using a plurality of truss hangers 376. The truss hangers 376 have a body 378 and a plurality of engagement members 380 disposed perpendicular to the body 378. The distance between each of the engagement members 380 generally corresponds to the spacing in the wire members on the wire-grille panel 300. Once a user has selected a position for the truss hanger 376, the hanger 376 can be positioned on, and engaged with, the wire-grille panel 300. A truss hanger 376 positioned on, and engaged with, a wire-grille panel 300 can be seen in FIG. 69.
  • [0203]
    Once a pair of truss hangers 376 a, 376 b are engaged with opposed front and end wire-grille panels 300 a, 300 b, the truss 366 can be placed onto the truss hangers 376. The body 378 of the truss hanger 376 preferably comprises a first truss member slot 382 and a second member slot 384, which the first truss member 370 and second truss member 372 fit, respectively. Including a first truss member 370 and second truss member 372 provides many benefits. For example, when helmet hangers 502 or pad hangers 504 populated with equipment and hung on the truss 366, the populated hangers will have a center of gravity that is below the second truss member. When a cart 12 having these populated hangers is moved along the track 14, the hangers are likely to swing back and forth in a pendulum motion that is parallel to the movement of the cart. The swinging hangers will make it more difficult to move the cart 12 as the momentum of the cart will be constantly changing due to the swinging hangers. By providing a first truss member 370 and second truss member 372, the populated hanger will be prevented from excessive swinging as the combined height of the truss members 370, 372 gives more height and surface area for the hangers to contact and thus more height and surface area to prevent swinging of the hangers. Alternatively, a single truss member could be used if the height was sufficient to provide the same height and surface area. The truss members 370, 372 are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The hangers 376 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
  • [0204]
    The present invention includes a number of means for hanging equipment, such as football helmets and football shoulder pads. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 500's are generally used to denote the features and components of hangers and stackers adapted for use in the modular storage system 110 of the present invention. A helmet hanger 502 can be seen in FIG. 74. The helmet hanger 502 comprises a plurality of truss hooks 508 and a pair of generally opposed helmet hanger members 509. The helmet hanger 502 further comprises a plurality of helmet hooks 510 disposed vertically along the pair of generally opposed hanger members 509. As depicted in FIG. 75, the helmet hanger 502 is hung on the truss 366 and the helmet hanger 502 can then be populated with helmets. The helmet hanger 502 is preferably constructed of wire steel, although other materials such as graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
  • [0205]
    Another means for hanging equipment includes a pad hanger 504. Long and short pad hangers 504 a, 504 b can be seen in FIGS. 76-77. The pad hangers 504 a, 504 b comprise a truss hook 512 connected to a pad hanger member 513. The pad hangers also comprise a pad hook 514 generally opposed the truss hook 512. As depicted in FIG. 78, the pad hanger 504 is hung on the truss 366 and the pad hanger 504 can then be populated with pads. The pad hanger 504 is preferably constructed of wire steel, although other materials such as graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. Alternative pad and helmet hangers 503 can be seen in FIGS. 79-80.
  • [0206]
    In one embodiment, the present invention preferably includes means for stacking equipment within the storage space of the carts 112, 212. A pad stacker 506 can be seen in FIGS. 81-87. The pad stacker 506 preferably comprises a stacker base 516, a stacking tower 518, a pad support 520, and a support channel 522. The stacker base 516 comprises a pair of generally opposed stacker frames 524 a, 524 b connected to a stacker frame cross tube 526. The stacker base 516 further comprises a pair of stacker handles 528 a, 528 b connected to the pair of generally opposed stacker frames 524. The stacker base 516, stacking tower 518, and support channel 522 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The pad support 520 is preferably constructed of vacuum formed ABS, 0.125″ thick, with a haircell finish, although other materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
  • [0207]
    The stacking tower 518 comprises a short tube loop 530 and a long tube loop 536, the tube loops 530, 536 connected at a bottom end 532 to a tower channel 531. At least one of the tube loops 530, 536 comprises a plurality of pin apertures 534. The pad support 520 comprises a pad support base 538 and a pad support member 540. The support channel 522 comprises a support plate 542 and a support channel member 544 connected to the support plate 542. The pad support 520 is then connected to the support plate 542 of the support channel 522.
  • [0208]
    To assemble the pad stacker 506, the stacking tower channel 531 is connected to the stacker frame cross tube 526 using fasteners 800. A pin is then inserted into one of the pin apertures 534 and the support channel 522 and pad support 520 are then placed onto the stacking tower 518 and lowered down until it rests upon the pin.
  • [0209]
    Once the pad stacker 506 has been assembled, the pad stacker 506 can be placed onto the cart base 116 or 216 of a cart. As can be seen in FIGS. 82, the pad stacker 506 is depicted in a cart 112. The stacker frames 524 are supported by the sides 130 a, 130 b of the cart base 116. A pad stacker 506 populated with pads can be seen in FIG. 81. In an embodiment of the present invention, the pad stacker 506 comprises wheels. When the pad stackers 506 are fuilly populated with pads, the pad stackers 506 will very likely be extremely heavy. Those involved with athletics will appreciate that a pad stacker 506 according to this embodiment can be moved along a surface without the need of lifting the pad stacker 506 off of the ground. When the pad stackers 506 have been populated and placed into the cart 112, each of the carts 112 can preferably hold more than eighty sets of shoulder pads.
  • [0210]
    As depicted in FIG. 3, the cart 112 according to an embodiment of the present invention also includes a shelf system 386. A shelf 388 can be selectively positioned on the wire-grille panel 300 using a plurality of shelf hangers 390. The shelf hangers 390 have a body 392 and a plurality of engagement members 394 disposed perpendicular to the body 392. The distance between each of the engagement member 394 generally corresponds to the spacing in the wire members on the wire-grille panel 300. Once a user has selected a position for the shelf hanger 390, the shelf hanger 390 can be positioned on, and engaged with, the wire-grille panel 300. Once a pair of shelf hangers 390 is engaged with opposed front and end wire-grille panels 300, the shelf 388 can be placed onto the shelf hangers 390. The shelf 388 is preferably constructed of sheet or wire steel, although other materials such as aluminum or plastic could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
  • [0211]
    Installation
  • [0212]
    When the track is installed in a room not near the wall, an island stop 354 may be needed to create the bounds of the storage facility. In this type of embodiment, the storage facility will be generally defined by the track length 342 and the overall length of the carts as they are moved along the track 114. When the track is installed in an area not near a wall, track end caps 350 should be used to prevent damage to the exposed cross-section of the track 114 and also to provide a more pleasing appearance.
  • [0213]
    Once the modular storage system 110 of the present invention has been installed in a storage facility, the carts 112, 212 can be placed into the storage facility. In a preferred embodiment, a plurality of carts 112, 212 will be used, the plurality of carts comprising both retained carts 112 and modular carts 212. To place the retained carts 112 into the storage site, they generally would have to be lifted into the storage facility and positioned such that the track followers 184 are directly above the channel 404 of the track 114. Once the retained carts have been positioned, the track followers 184 should be allowed to engage with the channel 404 of the track 114. Once the track followers 184 engage with the channel 404 of the track 114, the retained carts can then be manually moved within the storage facility in a direction along the track 114.
  • [0214]
    To place modular carts 212 in the storage facility, the modular carts 212 can be manually moved over the track 114. By manually providing the modular cart 212 with enough momentum, the wheels 274 will roll over the ramped surfaces 406 of the track. The modular cart can then be placed so that the track followers 284 are directly above the channel 404 of the track 114. Once the modular carts 212 have been positioned, the track followers 284 should be allowed to engage with the channel 404 of the track 114. To do this, the plunger clip 295 and backer 297 should be pulled away from the track follower 284 so that the track follower can move freely. Once this is done, the track follower 284 will engage with the channel 404 of the track 114. The modular carts 212 can then be manually moved within the storage facility in a direction along the track 114.
  • [0215]
    In a preferred embodiment, there is preferably at least a portion of the track 114 that does not include a cart 112, 212. By having such a space, the carts 112, 212 can be moved along the track 114 and different carts 112, 212 can then be accessed proximate the portion not including a cart 112, 212.
  • [0216]
    In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, comprising modular carts 212 and retained carts 112, the modular carts 212 could contain uniforms and equipment in off-season use or uniforms and equipment that is not need to be taken out of the storage facility in the cart. This type of uniforms and equipment could be retrieved by individuals or taken to the individuals. The retained carts 112 could contain equipment that is needed out of the storage site 111 and easier to transport in a cart 112. Such equipment could include game uniforms and equipment. A modular cart 212 such as this could be simply loaded onto a trailer or into a vehicle and transported to a game site.
  • [0217]
    When the at least one track follower mechanism 282 on modular carts 212 is selectively engaged with the track 114, these carts 212 are operably retained by and movable only in a direction generally parallel to the track 114 permitting the cart to be selectively positioned within a storage position that is generally side-by-side with an adjacent cart 112, 212 along the track. In this position, the contents of the carts 112, 212 are accessible position as the carts 112, 212 are generally spaced apart with adjacent carts along the track.
  • [0218]
    As depicted in FIG. 88-89, when it is desired that the cart 212 remain in the storage facility, the rollers 292 of the track followers 284 are engaged with the channel 404 of the track 114. In this position, the cart 212 is movable in a direction along the track 114. However, as can be seen in FIGS. 91-92, the modular cart 212 is removable from the track 114 and movable in a direction generally perpendicular to the track 114 when the at least one track follower 284 is selectively disengaged from the track 114. FIG. 90 depicts a track follower 284 in an engaged position with respect to the track 114. By using a foot, as depicted in FIG. 91, the track follower 284 can be lifted so that the plunger clip 295 and backer 297 on the locking mechanism 293 retains the track follower 284 in a retained position. As depicted in FIG. 92, once the track follower 284 is in a retained position, the modular cart 212 is removable from the track 114 and movable in a direction generally perpendicular to the track 114.
  • [0219]
    If those using modular carts 212 desire to prevent the cart 212 from being removed from the storage facility, the plunger lock bracket 602 can be used to keep the track follower 284 in an engaged position. The plunger lock bracket 602 comprises a lock slot 604 that can be placed onto the locking portion 316 of a bracket 310 and a channel portion 606 that prevents the track follower 284 from being placed in a retained position. The plunger lock bracket 602 can be seen in FIG. 93.
  • [0220]
    The storage facility for the modular storage system 110 of the present invention can be located in any area of the room, facility or even a storage area in vehicle such as a truck or trailer. While it is preferred that the storage facility be located near a wall and in the corner of a room, it is contemplated that the storage facility be located in the center of a room. In this type of arrangement, there will likely be a need to place an island stop 608, as depicted in FIGS. 94-95, within the room. The island stop 608 comprises an island stop frame 610 and an island stop base 612 located on ends 614 a, 614 b of the island stop frame 610. The island stop base 612 comprises a substantially flat island stop plate 620 and an island stop bracket 618 connected to the island stop plate 620. The island stop bracket 618 preferably comprises an island stop glide 616 to prevent damage to the underside of the cart base 116. When the modular storage system 110 is used with an island stop 608, the island stop 608 is placed near the termination of a track 114. When a cart 112 is moved along the track 114 towards the island stop 608, the island stop 608 prevents the cart 112 from running out of track 114. This type of arrangement allows a user to place the modular storage system 110 in any location within a room or storage area.
  • [0221]
    The cart base 116/216, cart top 122/222, front end 118/218, and rear end 120/220 of the retained cart 112 and the modular cart 212 according to the various embodiments of the present invention provides the carts 112, 212 with a defined structural integrity that is sufficient to permit the manual movement of the carts 112, 212 in the direction that is generally parallel to the track 114 by a manual force greater than the coefficient of a rolling friction of the wheels 172/272 times the maximum gross weight exerted on one of the ends 118, 120 of the cart 112 and prevent binding along the length of the cart 112.
  • [0222]
    Instructional and AV Accessories
  • [0223]
    As depicted in FIG. 1, a modular cart 212 according to an embodiment of the present invention can be provided with a drawing panel or white board 622. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the white board 622 is mounted on a front end 218 of the modular cart 212, although it will be understood that white board 622 could be mounted on either a side or end of the modular cart 212 or even the front end of a retained cart 112.
  • [0224]
    As depicted in FIGS. 99-101, a cart 212 according to an embodiment of the present invention comprises a video system 624. The video system 624 preferably includes a camera 626 and monitor 628 operably connected to a processor 630. The video system 624 is connected a power source 632 such as a battery or may be plugged into an electricity outlet.
  • [0225]
    Pull Cart
  • [0226]
    As depicted in FIGS. 102-104, a pull cart 634 for use in connection with the modular storage system 110 of the present invention is described. The pull cart 634 may be stored in storage facility in the opening along the track 114 or may be stored elsewhere in the storage facility, but it is not intended that the pull cart 634 be retained by the track 114 as part of modular storage system 110. The pull cart 634 is specifically designed for hauling portions of equipment to outdoor locations having turf or similar natural surfaces on which it would be difficult to transport the modular carts 212 of the present invention.
  • [0227]
    According to this embodiment of the present invention, the pull cart 634 comprises a base 636, a pull handle 638 located at an end 637 of the base 636, a pair of generally opposed rails 640 pivotally attached to the base 636 between a collapsed position 639 and an upright position 641, an top panel 642 disposed on the rails 640 when they are in the collapsed position 639 or the upright position 641, and a plurality of wheels 635 connected to the base 636. The base 636 is substantially the same as the base 216 on the modular cart 212. As such, the discussion of the base 216 is incorporated with reference to the pull cart 634. As can be seen in FIG. 103, the top panel 642 is preferably attached to the rails 640 using straps. The pull cart 634 can be used to transport equipment within the base 636 or on the top panel 642. The pull cart 634 can also be used to transport players, soldiers, or other persons when they are injured. The opposed rails 640 and pull handle 638 are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
  • [0228]
    As depicted in FIGS. 105-107, a pull cart 644 according an embodiment of the present invention comprises a base 646, a pull handle 648 pivotally attached to an end of the cart 644, a pair of generally opposed side panels 650, a pair of generally opposed end frames 652, and a plurality of wheels 645 connected to the base. The base 646 is substantially the same as the base 216 on the modular cart 212. As such, the discussion of the base 216 is incorporated with reference to the pull cart 644. As depicted in FIG. 106, the cart 644 in another embodiment includes a top panel 651 disposed between the end frames 652. In this embodiment, players or equipment can be stored or transported on the top panel 651. The pull cart 644 can be used to transport equipment or persons within the base 646. The pull handle 648 can be seen in greater detail in FIGS. 107a-107e. The pull handle 648 comprises a handle member 654 and an opposed brake member 656 connected to the handle member 654 by a handle bar 658, and an attachment member 660 connected to the brake member 656. The pull handle 648 is pivotable between a use position and a brake position. When the pull handle 648 is in a brake position, the brake member 656 preferably contacts the wheels 645 and prevents the wheels 645 from rotating. The pull handle 648 and end frames 652 are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
  • [0229]
    The embodiments described herein are intended to be illustrative and not limiting. Additional embodiments are described within the claims. Although the present invention has been described with reference to particular embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made to the embodiments in form and detail without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention.
Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US566926 *Jul 2, 1896Sep 1, 1896 Bicycle-railway
US702503 *Apr 8, 1901Jun 17, 1902Sylvester N StewartDevice for guiding wagons on tracks.
US1033630 *Mar 4, 1912Jul 23, 1912Robert W SowersDisplay-rack.
US1981655 *Feb 16, 1933Nov 20, 1934Lucke Jr Herman FTrackless transportation system
US2068403 *Jun 12, 1936Jan 19, 1937Albin L EkstromVehicular apparatus
US2166704 *Mar 10, 1937Jul 18, 1939Foulkes Thomas EdwardMeans for storing articles in warerooms
US2904383 *Jan 18, 1956Sep 15, 1959Potts Melvin WAthletic equipment carrier rack
US2987200 *Jan 23, 1959Jun 6, 1961Hans IngoldStorage system
US3080204 *Oct 14, 1959Mar 5, 1963Harald Lindhgren PerStorage apparatus
US3145031 *Feb 17, 1961Aug 18, 1964Carl Wilkinson ThomasMobile tool supporting apparatus
US3188977 *Dec 31, 1962Jun 15, 1965Electrolux AbStorage system
US3198592 *Dec 19, 1963Aug 3, 1965Alfred Zippel GeorgApparatus for effecting the shifting of shelf or cabinet units for filing systems
US3286651 *Jul 7, 1964Nov 22, 1966Jr Ernest A DahlSliding tub desk file cabinet and mounting therefor
US3427085 *Apr 26, 1967Feb 11, 1969Staller Cabinets IncMobile shelving carriage
US3540614 *Nov 12, 1968Nov 17, 1970Clares Eng LtdLoad carrying container
US3563180 *Jan 24, 1969Feb 16, 1971Olin CorpMovable storage rack
US3563400 *Nov 8, 1968Feb 16, 1971Greaves Richard JohnsonStorage facility
US3566802 *Sep 9, 1968Mar 2, 1971Lundgvist Harald OElectrically controlled traction device for movable units, especially containers or shelving units
US3575479 *Mar 25, 1969Apr 20, 1971Acrow Automation LtdMovable storage-unit assemblies
US3589522 *Jun 26, 1969Jun 29, 1971Chiodo ThelmaBoot rack
US3640595 *May 6, 1970Feb 8, 1972Staller Cabinet IncMotorized mobile shelving units
US3650407 *Jul 9, 1970Mar 21, 1972Benham Oliver C JrRack for sporting equipment
US3724389 *Apr 14, 1971Apr 3, 1973Brownbuilt LtdStorage facility
US3772994 *Mar 13, 1972Nov 20, 1973C JuarbeShopping cart control system
US3801176 *Apr 19, 1972Apr 2, 1974American Hospital Supply CorpMoveable storage cart system
US3802573 *Aug 3, 1972Apr 9, 1974Barnes VShoulder pad hanger assembly
US3829189 *Jan 15, 1973Aug 13, 1974Spacesaver CorpMotorized mobile shelving apparatus
US3861702 *Nov 20, 1972Jan 21, 1975Banner Metals IncTransport cart
US3865446 *Dec 4, 1972Feb 11, 1975Estey CorpStorage means with shiftable units
US3869137 *Aug 17, 1973Mar 4, 1975Byrom Raymond RPortable storage cart
US3876223 *Dec 20, 1973Apr 8, 1975Reilly Agnes C OBaseball equipment storage and transporting cart
US3880336 *Jan 4, 1974Apr 29, 1975Demasson Amedee JHockey stick carriers
US3890903 *Nov 30, 1973Jun 24, 1975Bar Prod Bromsgrove LtdStorage assemblies
US3944309 *Oct 8, 1974Mar 16, 1976Kongo Co., Ltd.Manually movable wheeled storage rack or the like
US3957323 *Sep 2, 1970May 18, 1976Estey CorporationStorage means with sequentially shiftable units
US3967868 *Feb 14, 1975Jul 6, 1976E. Baker And Associates, Inc.Storage system
US4017131 *Sep 22, 1970Apr 12, 1977J. Gestle, AgMaximum density mobile storage system
US4033649 *Mar 31, 1975Jul 5, 1977Elecompack Company LimitedElectrically-operated shiftable article storage device
US4084125 *Aug 24, 1976Apr 11, 1978King James RMobile shelving unit
US4084867 *Jan 14, 1976Apr 18, 1978Putt Bernard JStorage cabinet for ski equipment
US4227710 *Feb 22, 1979Oct 14, 1980Hugh J. FinnertyMobile baseball equipment storage device
US4256355 *Jul 2, 1979Mar 17, 1981Elecompack Company Ltd.Locking and unlocking device for manually movable wheeled storage rack or the like
US4326465 *May 27, 1980Apr 27, 1982Sid ForrestAutomobile tow wheel attachment
US4344660 *Jun 16, 1980Aug 17, 1982Molnar Albert EBaseball equipment cabinet
US4372514 *Sep 15, 1980Feb 8, 1983Glumac Nick PMobile storage platform
US4432589 *Oct 1, 1981Feb 21, 1984Spacesaver CorporationMobile storage apparatus with cantilevered light fixtures
US4441617 *Jun 16, 1981Apr 10, 1984Electrolux Constructor AktiebolagStorage structure comprising movable racks
US4462500 *May 19, 1982Jul 31, 1984Speedrack, Inc.Multiple location storage bays
US4467924 *Sep 8, 1981Aug 28, 1984Stacor CorporationMovable aisle storage system
US4583647 *Apr 5, 1985Apr 22, 1986Schinzing Walter WRack for hanging bats or other objects
US4597615 *Apr 4, 1984Jul 1, 1986Andersen & Associates, Inc.Storage system
US4802622 *May 22, 1986Feb 7, 1989Homan Company, Inc.Single track mobile storage structure and method
US4807765 *Sep 18, 1987Feb 28, 1989Nashville Wire Products Mfg. Co., Inc.Mobile storage apparatus
US4936467 *Jan 17, 1989Jun 26, 1990Bobeczko James DSports equipment rack
US4941578 *Aug 5, 1988Jul 17, 1990Devening Charles KHigh density storage system
US5054625 *Jun 21, 1990Oct 8, 1991Foley Kevin MBat rack
US5085327 *Oct 9, 1990Feb 4, 1992Mercer Jr Alan SSports equipment organizer
US5303828 *Jul 6, 1993Apr 19, 1994Paullin Lane ASports equipment holder
US5377849 *Apr 14, 1993Jan 3, 1995Martin; Harold G.Sports equipment rack
US5439281 *Aug 16, 1993Aug 8, 1995Denstor Mobile Storage Systems Inc.Storage system
US5454441 *Mar 17, 1994Oct 3, 1995Wenger CorporationMethod and apparatus for transporting portable upright stage panels
US5526916 *Sep 15, 1994Jun 18, 1996Smarte Carte, Inc.Cart management system
US5651469 *Apr 28, 1995Jul 29, 1997Richards-Wilcox, Inc.Garment rack assembly
US5657883 *Dec 20, 1995Aug 19, 1997Badia; MarioMobile fishing rod rack
US5676428 *Jun 24, 1996Oct 14, 19979035-0687 Quebec Inc.Wheel assembly for in-line skate
US5680942 *May 18, 1995Oct 28, 1997Metal Masters Foodservice Equipment Co., Inc.Overhead track high density storage system with center and side guide rollers and caster lock alignment clip
US5788070 *Jun 12, 1997Aug 4, 1998Banker; Robert K.Golf equipment storage device
US5797612 *Mar 24, 1995Aug 25, 1998Buccioni; AldoSports equipment carrier
US5862924 *May 9, 1997Jan 26, 1999Dumont; GillesRack for sports equipment
US5865440 *Jul 28, 1997Feb 2, 1999Pulkrabek; LarryFoam archery target
US5871105 *Mar 5, 1996Feb 16, 1999Suncast CorporationStorage apparatus for sporting goods
US6027190 *Jan 23, 1998Feb 22, 2000Stewart; Edward C.High density linear motion storage system
US6073783 *Oct 14, 1998Jun 13, 2000Allman; Michael X.Drying rack for athletic equipment
US6112917 *Nov 23, 1998Sep 5, 2000Denstor Mobile Storage Systems, Inc.Moveable file storage supporting apparatus
US6216887 *Nov 15, 1999Apr 17, 2001Mike SooDetachable hanger for sport pads
US6231138 *Mar 10, 1999May 15, 2001Spacesaver CorporationCantilevered pull-out shelf system
US6241106 *Apr 19, 1999Jun 5, 2001Erecta International CorporationMovable shelf
US6247769 *Mar 15, 2000Jun 19, 2001Christopher G. SpitzerModular book/computer shelf moving cart
US6371031 *Nov 21, 2000Apr 16, 2002Spacesaver CorporationMobile carriage
US6431627 *Jul 16, 2001Aug 13, 2002Steven A. TomenyCarrier for hockey sticks
US6460950 *Jul 24, 2001Oct 8, 2002Christopher G. SpitzerModular container/bookshelf moving cart
US6547085 *Jan 31, 2002Apr 15, 2003Florent BelisleTransportable hockey stick rack
US6591994 *Apr 16, 2002Jul 15, 2003Ronald S. BearssHockey equipment rack
US6592189 *Mar 22, 2002Jul 15, 2003Forest Hiram Back, Sr.Skate wheel
US6688708 *Feb 29, 2000Feb 10, 2004Spacesaver CorporationStabilizing and enclosure system for mobile storage units
US6752278 *Mar 17, 2003Jun 22, 2004Rubbermaid IncorporatedSports equipment storage rack
US6948785 *Sep 5, 2002Sep 27, 2005Tab Products CompanyTrack system for mobile carriages
USD365716 *Nov 25, 1994Jan 2, 1996 Portable multi-ball storage container
USD374363 *Sep 5, 1995Oct 8, 1996Ball Boy LLCSports equipment organizer
USD392486 *Aug 20, 1997Mar 24, 1998 Golf accessory organizer
USD394926 *Jul 3, 1997Jun 2, 1998 Hockey equipment dryer
USD398469 *Oct 11, 1996Sep 22, 1998 Sport clothing and equipment rack
USD421866 *May 26, 1999Mar 28, 2000 Skate rack
USD429094 *Oct 7, 1999Aug 8, 2000Melard Manufacturing Corp.Sport organizer
USD459931 *Dec 12, 2001Jul 9, 2002Michael J. MahoneyAthletic equipment hanger
USD460652 *May 24, 2001Jul 23, 2002Michael J. MahoneyAthletic equipment hanger
USD476183 *Dec 18, 2002Jun 24, 2003Suncast CorporationGolf equipment organizer
USD479423 *Feb 3, 2003Sep 9, 2003Michael J. MahoneyAthletic equipment hanger
DE393553C *Apr 5, 1924Knorr Bremse AgSteuerung mit Vorsteuerung durch den Arbeitskolben fuer schwungradlose Kolbenkraftmaschinen
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7963533Mar 16, 2007Jun 21, 2011Wenger CorporationAll-terrain retail merchandising unit
US20050236340 *Nov 16, 2004Oct 27, 2005Bothum Richard AModular storage system for logistical management of operational units
US20060076306 *Sep 8, 2005Apr 13, 2006Bothun Richard AModular storage system for retail merchandising units
US20060231517 *Mar 16, 2006Oct 19, 2006Bothun Richard AModular storage system for logistical management of operational units
US20070216116 *Mar 16, 2007Sep 20, 2007Gallea Mark EConvertible cart
US20070216120 *Mar 16, 2007Sep 20, 2007Bothun Richard AAll-terrain retail merchandising unit
US20090120886 *Nov 7, 2008May 14, 2009Weiss Paul MMobile storage systems and racks for wine
US20150132082 *Nov 11, 2013May 14, 2015Michael N. GoshiPre-assembly of casework components in shipping container
Classifications
U.S. Classification52/79.1
International ClassificationB65D, B61B12/00, A47B53/02, A47F1/00, E04H3/00, E04H9/00, E04H6/00, E04H1/00, E04H5/00
Cooperative ClassificationB62B3/005, B62B5/0063, B62B3/02, A47B61/00, A47F7/24, A47B53/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 4, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: WENGER CORPORATION, MINNESOTA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BOTHUN, RICHARD A.;GALLEA, MARK E.;JINES, MICHAEL D.;ANDOTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015729/0285;SIGNING DATES FROM 20041216 TO 20041221