US 20060197419 A1
The present invention is directed toward a mountable storage container for use on a variety of overhead surfaces. The storage container has a pair of end wall panels, and a pair of side wall panels extending between the end wall panels, and a protective tambour cover and locking system. The container is pivotally attached to the overhead surface between a stowed position, substantially parallel to the overhead surface, and an accessible position, substantially orthogonal to the overhead surface, which allows the user easy access to the contents of the container.
1. A mountable storage device for attachment to an overhead structure comprising:
a mounting assembly having a first end and a second end constructed and arranged for secure attachment to said overhead structure;
a storage container having two opposing side wall panels, two opposing end panels at a first end and a second end of said container, respectively, and extending between said side wall panels, each of said end panels and said wall panels attached to a bottom panel, and a tambour cover defining an interior of said container, said interior being constructed and arranged for receipt of at least one storage item, said tambour cover being constructed and arranged to reciprocally transverse about the perimeter of said opposing side wall panels to provide access to said interior of said container when said cover is in an open position;
at least one securing member integrally formed at said first end of said container and in pivotal engagement with said mounting assembly to enable pivotal movement of said storage container between a first generally horizontal position, substantially parallel to said overhead structure, and a second generally vertical position; whereby access to the interior of said container by an individual is provided.
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a control assembly constructed and arranged to operatively connect and disconnect said at least one power source to and from an actuator means, wherein operation of said control assembly connects said power source to said actuator to cause pivotal movement of said container in relation to said mounting assembly for powered movement of said container between said first generally horizontal position and said second generally vertical position, wherein operation of said control assembly in a second mode disconnects said electrical power source from said at least one power source.
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This invention is directed toward a mountable storage device for attachment to an overhead surface. More specifically, the present invention relates to a storage container pivotally attached to an overhead surface by means of a mounting assembly. The storage container includes a tambour retractable cover and locking system for providing a safe enclosure while pivoting the storage container.
Storage containers are often a necessity for homeowners and industry alike. The accumulation of various objects and products give rise to a need for adequate storage of those items when not in use. Often these containers house seldom-used or seasonal items such as holiday decor, crafts, clothes, skis, and the like. Frequently, these containers are left on the ground, placed on shelves, or stacked atop each other, thus, taking up large volumes of valuable living space. Alternatively, containers are often placed in remote locations (i.e. closets, attics, cellars, etc), making ready access to them difficult. Furthermore, if left unsecured in a garage or shed, they are often subject to being stolen or damaged.
Therefore, the prior art has proposed a number of different containers that can be mounted to a various surfaces of a building that permit ready access to the contents while maximizing usable living space. For example, a typical overhead storage system involves a mounting assembly attached to a ceiling to which a storage container is pivotally secured. These containers are constructed such that the opening is along the surface adjacent the ceiling when in its “stowed” position. These containers often employ bungee cords, straps, ropes, or the like, to secure the contents to the interior surfaces of the container. Unfortunately, as these containers are pivoted from the stowed position to a position that is readily accessible to the user, the items contained therein often shift or become unsecured from their means of attachment. Consequently, these items could potentially fall onto the person and/or the floor beneath the container.
In addition, most of the prior art containers do not provide any means to lock the container opening, making the contents therein venerable to being used without permission, stolen, and/or damaged. This can be especially problematic if the items to be stored must be protected, such is the case with most hunting equipment (i.e. firearms, ammunition, etc). Furthermore, most covers used in combination with containers often require a large, unobstructed area for the cover to open adequately.
While some prior art overhead storage systems may utilize a liner to cover the opening of the container to prevent dust or infestation by pests (i.e. insects, rodents, etc) these liners are attached to the container opening with snaps or VELCO®, which are generally unable to prevent any large or heavy items contained therein from falling out should they come loose. Moreover, these liners cannot be locked. Thus, none of the known overhead container systems are equipped with a cover configured to protect the user from any falling objects inside the container during translation of the container between a generally horizontal and vertical position. Moreover, the cover should allow the user to readily open the container in the most crowded locations.
Tambour covers are known to provide an efficient use of space and enhanced durability. Tambour covers are flexible door panels comprised of a plurality of transverse ridges, strips, slates, pieces, or other structures that allow the closure to flex along the transverse axis. In one type of tambour closure, a plurality of rigid strips are arranged in parallel fashion and glued to a flexible backing material that allow the tambour closure to bend. Another type of tambour closure is made from a plurality of strips molded to each other via flex joints (i.e. living hinges). These flex joints allow for flexing of the tambour closure. Often, these tambour closures have been molded as a unitary piece. Tambour closures reciprocally travel along an opening of a container, thus, do not require an unhindered opening clearance around the container. Tambour doors may be manufactured from a variety of strong materials, e.g. wood, plastic, metal or combinations thereof.
Accordingly, there exists a need for an overhead mountable storage system that utilizes a container cover, which permits safe and easy access to the contents therein. The cover should be durable and provide unobtrusive access to the interior of the container. In addition, the mountable storage container should comprise a locking system able to prevent theft while being capable of safely retracting and “hiding-away” when not in use, while providing an aesthetically pleasing appearance.
There are numerous commercially available overhead storage container systems are available to accommodate various items, none of the known overhead storage containers are equipped with a locking closure constructed to prevent items contained therein from falling out of the container and injuring the individual and/or braking, especially while the container is being pivoted between the stowed and accessible position.
For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,550,878 to Nott et al., teaches an overhead storage device that is pivotally or rotatably mounted to an overhead surface, such as a ceiling or a plurality of rafters. The storage container is supported by, and secured to, the frame assembly. The storage container is moved by a motorized actuator assembly between a generally vertical position, (i.e. open position), in which the container may be loaded or unloaded by the user and a generally horizontal position, (i.e. closed position), in which the storage container cradles the stored items. This patent does disclose a cloth cover may be attached to the container by beads and tabs, snaps, buttons, or hook and loop fasteners or the like to prevent stored items from becoming dusty or infested with pests. The patent fails to teach any cover means that will inhibit larger or heavy items contained therein from falling onto the user and/or the floor when pivoted between the open and closed position and/or any locking mechanism.
U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,088,239 and 6,411,525, both to Zeiss teach an overhead storage device adapted to be flush mounted onto a variety of ceilings. The storage container is selectively moveable from a first “closed” position against the ceiling to a second “open” position away from the ceiling. The bin may also be provided a removable, decorative liner to help seal the contents of the storage bin from dust and debris. Unlike the present invention, this prior art device does not provide a cover means constructed to prevent any items that may have shifted from falling out of the container opening.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,954,410, to Noellert teaches a storage unit that is interfaced with a suspended ceiling, wherein the articles are stored above the suspended ceiling. The suspended ceiling storage unit includes an outer frame that is dimensioned to rest upon the support lips of the runners of a rectilinear opening of the suspended ceiling, and an inner frame, which is pivotally connected with the outer frame and nested therewith in a common plane. The inner frame has a lower flange for supporting a ceiling panel, and further has connected thereto a storage member for holding articles. Optionally, articles can be placed upon article holding structures and held in place by elastic straps or bungee cords. The patent fails to teach or suggest any protective cover arranged over the container opening.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,725,293 to Wilkening teaches a pull-down, storage unit for use in overhead areas. The unit includes a bin and a frame for attaching the bin to a ceiling. The rear of the bin is pivotally suspended from the frame and the front of the bin is releasably secured to the frame by a cable and catch system and may be moved between a raised “closed” position and a lowered “open” position. The patent fails to teach or suggest any means of cover or locking means.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,460,280 to Feddeler teaches a storage basket arranged for pivoted mounting to a ceiling structure such as in a garage and the like. Support flanges pivotally mount the basket with the support flanges including latch means for securing the basket in a horizontal orientation and wherein an actuation means is provided to selectively release the latch means to permit pivotal movement of the basket to a vertical orientation. The basket is formed of mesh sides as well as a mesh floor and mesh end walls. Shelf frame members are mounted within the basket structure with a partition frame movably mounted within the basket to provide for adjustment of the storage division within the basket.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,407,261 to Mercer teaches a storage container for attachment to the enclosed ceiling of a room. The container has an upper and lower portion with the portions being hinged together. An over-center linkage including a tension spring, connects the upper and lower portions and a pivot pin in the linkages engages a portion of the linkage to act as a physical stop to inhibit movement thereof.
All of the aforementioned prior art devices fail to teach or suggest the use of a storage container that utilizes a highly unobtrusive, cooperating cover designed to prevent any stowed items from falling onto the user and/or the floor below while the container is pivoted or at the lowered position. Also, the cooperating cover should provide security and dependable access to the contents of the container.
The present invention relates to a mountable storage container for use on a variety of overhead surfaces (i.e. ceiling rafters, joists, drywall, or the like). The storage container has a pair of opposing end wall panels and a pair of opposing side wall panels that extend between the end wall panels, all of which are attached at one edge to a bottom panel. The side and end wall panel edges opposite the bottom surface define the container opening, or ingress. The container is pivotally attached to an overhead surface via a mounting assembly. The container pivots between a horizontal, or stowed position, substantially parallel to the overhead surface, and a vertical position substantially orthogonal to the overhead surface. The container opening is covered by a sturdy, flexible closure. The preferred flexible cover is of a tambour-type, as tambour covers are known to provide efficient of use of space and enhanced durability.
The container includes a rotatable handle operatively connected to a rotor assembly by an elongated rod such that rotation of the handle in one direction extends the locking bars outwardly, both right and left, engaging and disengaging the locking rods against respective apertures in the mounting assembly, thus, precluding said container from pivoting from the stowed position. The handle and tambour door can both include a securing means to prevent rotation of the handle or opening of the tambour cover. In a preferred embodiment of the instant invention, a motorized actuator is attached to both the container and a mounting assembly and controlled by a control assembly. The control assembly can be remotely located.
In one embodiment, the tambour-type door is wound around a central spool located at one end of the container when in the open position and unwound therefrom when in the closed position, thus substantially covering the container opening. The outer side edges of the tambour-type door not attached to the spool are slidingly received within a track or channel. In an alternative embodiment, all of the side edges of the tambour door are received within a track, or channel, located along the outer perimeter of the container sidewalls.
Accordingly, it is the principle objective of the instant invention to teach a locking, overhead storage unit with a protective, space-saving closure.
It is a further objective of the instant invention to provide a tambour door that allows the user easy access to the contents of the storage container without requiring large volumes of unobstructed space necessary for opening outwardly projecting doors.
Still yet another objective of the present invention is to provide an overhead mountable storage container that is aesthetically appealing to consumers.
Yet another objective of the instant invention is to teach a mountable storage container with at least one locking system able to thwart theft or unauthorized use of the contents therein.
Other objectives and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein are set forth, by way of illustration and example, certain embodiments of this invention. The drawings constitute a part of this specification and include exemplary embodiments of the present invention and illustrate various objects and features thereof.
Detailed embodiments of the instant invention are disclosed herein, however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific functional and structural details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure. clearer
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The side, end, and bottom panels 20-23, 28 may be formed from a single or variety of durable materials known to those skilled in the art (i.e. plastic, metal, etc). However, in a particularly preferred embodiment at least a portion of the panels 20-23, 28 is constructed from wood (i.e. oak, cedar) for their inherent desiccant properties, or cheaper woods (i.e. plywood, particle board, fiber board, etc), as they are more cost effective. The exterior or interior surfaces of side 20, 21, end panels 22, 23, and bottom panels 28 may include excess material, i.e. ribs (not shown), which are known to those skilled in the art to increase the overall strength and rigidity of the container 18. Moreover, the exterior and/or interior surfaces of the panels 20-23, 28 may include decorative treatments, water-proofing treatments, colors, designs, and the like, known to those having skill in the art.
In alternative embodiment, portions of container panels 20-23, 28 and/or tambour-type cover 30 could be constructed from a transparent material (i.e. plastic, glass, etc) or provided with apertures therein, such that the user could readily identify the items contained therein without having to open the cover 30. This can alert the user to any items that have become unsecured and could potentially fall out of the container 18 prior to opening the cover 30. Additionally, the transparent material or apertures could function to permit transmission of electromagnetic signals (IR, LASER, etc) should the container 18 house remotely controlled mechanisms. These apertures could be constructed and sized to provide electrical cords or cables to supply power to any electronic components (light, stereo, etc) housed within the container 18.
The container 18 is pivotable between a generally vertical position, shown in
As will be apparent from the drawings, side panels 20,21 and end panels 22,23 and the tambour cover 30 fully enclose the items contained therein, such that they are not accessible from outside of the enclosure when the container 18 is the lowered position and cover 30 is fully closed. Those skilled in the art will recognize this arrangement precludes any items not properly attached to interior of the container 18 from falling out of the opening 58 of the container 18 when it is moved between the stowed and accessible position. Additionally, the tambour cover 30 allows the user to fully open the container 18 without needing any clearance surrounding the container 18 when in its lowered position.
In one embodiment depicted in
At least one end of the tambour door 30 is affixed to the spindle 34 through at least spool 32 and the tambour door edges not affixed to the spindle 34 are configured to slide within a receiving track 44, or channel, formed along the outer perimeter of the side walls 20, 21 of the container 18 to its partially extended position (
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Either of the aforementioned embodiments of tambour covers 30 can include an integrally formed handle 53, illustrated in
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It should be noted that the hinge arrangement could include a plurality of individual rods and coddle pins that extend through the apertures of the container brackets and apertures in mounting brackets, without departing from the scope of the invention.
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In one embodiment shown in
In an alternative embodiment shown in
It is noted that any of the aforementioned embodiments of the mounting assemblies 12 shown in
As shown from the side view of
To prevent access to stored contents within the container 18, a securing means 110 (i.e. lock, latch, bolt or the like) can be associated with the handle 102, or along the elongated rod 104, that will prevent rotation of the rotor assembly 96 when container 18 is in the stowed position (
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All patents and publications mentioned in this specification are indicative of the levels of those skilled in the art to which the invention pertains. All patents and publications are herein incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each individual publication was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.
It is to be understood that while a certain form of the invention is illustrated, it is not to be limited to the specific form or arrangement herein described and shown. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes may be made without departing from the scope of the invention and the invention is not to be considered limited to what is shown and described in the specification.
One skilled in the art will readily appreciate that the present invention is well adapted to carry out the objectives and obtain the ends and advantages mentioned, as well as those inherent therein. The embodiments, methods, procedures and techniques described herein are presently representative of the preferred embodiments, are intended to be exemplary and are not intended as limitations on the scope. Changes therein and other uses will occur to those skilled in the art which are encompassed within the spirit of the invention and are defined by the scope of the appended claims. Although the invention has been described in connection with specific preferred embodiments, it should be understood that the invention as claimed should not be unduly limited to such specific embodiments. Indeed, various modifications of the described modes for carrying out the invention, which are obvious to those skilled in the art, are intended to be within the scope of the following claims.