BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to shower doors and, more particularly, to tracks provided on the shower frame to allow displacement of the shower doors.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Rectangular showers typically have slidable shower doors along the longest length of the shower. The showers doors are held in a rail at the top and the bottom of the shower and a handle is provided on the door(s) to slide them and create a passageway to enter the shower. They can alternatively have hinged doors which open towards the exterior of the shower. Rectangular showers are typically provided within a bathtub and take up considerable space in the bathroom.
Corner showers, adapted to be installed in a corner of the room, typically have hinged doors which open toward the exterior of the shower, thereby creating a passageway to enter the shower. Corner showers are more space-efficient since they only take up a typically vacant space in the bathroom. However, the hinged door requires a considerably large empty space facing the corner shower.
In some corner showers, there are two fixed panels and two sliding panels forming doors which are held in a rail or track at the top and the bottom of the shower and a handle is provided on the door(s) to slide them and create a passageway to enter the shower. Other corner showers have four sliding panels with two fixed panels for wide and easy central access to the shower. The four sliding panels are provided as two hinged panels for each side and the opening is created in the middle. Rollers are typically mounted on the sliding panels and are inserted in the rail or track. Corner showers can have a round frame or an angled frame.
In prior art doors, the shower frame is typically made of aluminum. When bending the aluminum tracks to create the round track portion for the round corner shower, care must be taken since the aluminum may bend in inappropriate directions under the pressure, especially if a strong angle (small radius) is wanted. This crimping of the rail impedes the proper displacement of the shower doors via the rollers.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
One aspect of the invention provides a shower door track for a shower having at least one displaceable door panel. The shower door track comprises a longitudinal exterior track portion having an exterior surface, an interior surface and at least one exterior connector; a longitudinal interior track portion having an exterior surface, an interior surface, a displacement channel for receiving a displacement assembly connected to the door panel and at least one interior connector; the interior connector being engageable with a corresponding one of the exterior connector to secure the exterior track portion to the interior track portion to form the shower door track.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Further features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in combination with the appended drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 comprises FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B, wherein FIG. 1A shows a round corner shower having two fixed panels and four sliding panels and FIG. 1B shows an angled corner shower having two fixed panels and two sliding panels;
FIG. 2 comprises FIG. 2 a and FIG. 2 b, wherein FIG. 2 a shows a round corner shower in which the sliding panels are in the closed position and FIG. 2 b shows the corner shower of FIG. 2 a with the sliding panels in the open position;
FIG. 3 comprises FIG. 3A and FIG. 3B, wherein FIG. 3A shows a track used in a round corner shower and FIG. 3B shows a track used in an angled corner shower;
FIG. 4 comprises FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B, wherein FIG. 4A is a side perspective view of a double roller of the prior art inserted in the prior art rail of a corner shower frame and FIG. 4B is a side perspective view of the sliding panel inserted in the top and bottom prior art rails of a corner shower frame using the double roller of FIG. 4A at the top and single rollers of the prior art at the bottom;
FIG. 5 shows the integral piece which forms the track header of the prior art;
FIG. 6 shows an embodiment of the two-piece track header comprising FIG. 6A and FIG. 6B, wherein FIG. 6 a is the exterior portion of the track header and FIG. 6B is the interior portion of the track header;
FIG. 7 shows the assembled two-piece header of FIG. 6A and FIG. 6B forming a rail in which is inserted a prior art roller;
FIG. 8 comprises FIG. 8A, FIG. 8B and FIG. 8C, wherein FIG. 8A shows an alternative embodiment of the exterior portion of the track header with a locking plug and FIG. 8B shows an alternative embodiment of the interior portion of the track header with a locking clip and FIG. 8C shows the assembled two-piece header of FIG. 8A and FIG. 8B forming a rail;
FIG. 9 comprises FIG. 9A and FIG. 9B, wherein FIG. 9A shows an alternative embodiment in which the exterior portion of the track header does not have any C-shaped portions and FIG. 9B shows the assembled two-piece header which uses the exterior portion of FIG. 9A;
FIG. 10 comprises FIG. 10A, FIG. 10B and FIG. 10C which show examples of alternative embodiments for the C-shaped portion of FIG. 6B; and
FIG. 11 comprises FIG. 11A, FIG. 11B, FIG. 11C and FIG. 11D, wherein FIG. 11A shows an alternative embodiment of the exterior portion of the track header which has a central locking plug and an extrusion at each end, FIG. 11B and FIG. 11C each are a complementing half of the interior portion of the track header with complementing extrusions at one end and a half of a locking clip at the other end, and FIG. 11D shows the assembled three-piece header.
It will be noted that throughout the appended drawings, like features are identified by like reference numerals.
The track header of a preferred embodiment is made of at least two pieces which are held together using connectors. The separation of the track into at least two pieces which can be assembled into one track allows bending of the exterior piece of the track to a required angle without deforming the track.
FIG. 1A shows a round corner shower 10 having two fixed panels (front walls) 12 and four sliding panels (doors) 14. In this round corner shower, the walls and doors are made of glass in an aluminum frame and are translucid. As shown in FIG. 2, the four slidable panels (doors) 14 are adapted to be rolled in a closed position (FIG. 2A) and in an open position (FIG. 2B) by being guided in top 16 and bottom 18 round tracks using double rollers 20 and single rollers 22. The user uses door frame 24 to slide the doors. The shower can further have two back walls 26 making up the corner which are typically affixed to existing walls 19 of the room. These back walls can be omitted if the existing walls of the room are covered in an appropriate water-proof material, such as tiling, for a shower. If they are omitted, appropriate seals should be provided at the junction of the fixed walls of the shower with the existing walls. The corner shower has a bottom recipient 11 for draining the water. The shower can have a roof (not shown) or can be roofless. FIG. 1B shows an angled corner shower having two fixed panels 12 and two sliding panels 14′. The sliding panels 14′ are guided in top 16′ and bottom 18′ angled tracks.
In the preferred embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the total height of the shower could vary between 170 cm to 185 cm. The sliding panels of the doors could have a height which varies between 175 cm to 170 cm. All the glass panels used for these doors could vary from 3 mm to 10 mm of thickness. The width of the shower can vary from 32 in to 42 in.
FIG. 3A shows a track 16 used in a round corner shower and FIG. 3B shows a track 16′ used in an angled corner shower. The round track 16 comprises three portions, namely two straight portions 16A (a right-side insert and a left-side insert) and one curved portion, namely curved front side insert 16B. The track 16 has an exposed surface 30 on the exterior of the shower and an interior surface (not shown) on the interior of the shower. The track 16 is preferably equipped with bumpers 32 affixed to the track portions 16B to prevent the rollers holding the sliding doors from reaching the end of the track 16 and prevent bumping of the sliding panels on the side walls of the shower.
In the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 3A, straight portions 16A each have a length varying from 12 to 17 inches depending on the width of the shower. Curved portion 16B has a length varying from 15 to 22 inches. Curved portion 16B creates an angle of about 45 degrees.
The angled track 16′ comprises three straight portions, namely a left side insert 16′A, a front side insert 16′B and a right side insert 16° C. The track 16′ has an exposed surface (not shown) on the exterior of the shower and an interior surface 36 on the interior of the shower. U-Shaped portion 38 is visible. Bumpers 34 are affixed to the track portions 16° C. and 16′A to prevent the rollers holding the sliding doors from reaching the end of the track 16′ and prevent bumping of the sliding panels on the side walls of the shower.
In the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 3B, left side insert 16′A and right side insert 16° C. each have a length varying from 13 to 17 inches depending on the width of the shower. Front side insert 16′B has a length of about 25 inches. The left and right side inserts 16′A and 16° C. are placed at an angle of about 247.5 degrees to the front side insert 16′B.
FIG. 4A is a side perspective view of a double roller of the prior art inserted in the prior art rail of a corner shower frame. The double roller 20 is inserted in the interior portion of the track 16. It comprises a roller body 40 and two wheels 42. The roller body 40 is adapted to protrude from rail 16 and the wheels are retained within track 16 to let the roller slide in the track. Roller body 40 is provided with a female member 44, in this case, a vertical cylindrical passage, to fasten it to the shower door using a male member, typically a screw which is inserted in both the female member 44 and a female member of door roller adapter 46, in this case, a vertical cylindrical passage which may be threaded, provided on the sliding panel 14. FIG. 4B is a side perspective view of the sliding panel 14 inserted in the top 16 and bottom 18 prior art rails of a corner shower frame using the double roller of FIG. 4A and prior art single rollers 22.
FIG. 5 shows one end of the integral piece which forms the top track header 16 of the prior art. Two C-shaped portions 50 are used to insert screws to secure the track to the wall of the shower frame. A U-shaped portion 52 receives the wheels 42 of the rollers 20. The exposed surface 30 of the shower track and the interior surface 36 of the shower track are shown.
FIG. 6A is the exterior portion of an embodiment of the two-piece track header and FIG. 6B is the interior portion of an embodiment of the two piece track header adapted to be connected to the embodiment of FIG. 6A. The exterior portion of the two-piece header of FIG. 6A comprises an exterior surface 60 of the track, two C-Shaped portions 61 (top C), 62 (bottom C) used to insert screws to secure the track to the wall of the shower frame which are provided on the interior surface 67 of the exterior portion and two connectors or extrusions 63 at the ends of the exterior portion. Extrusions 63 are used to secure the exterior portion to the interior portion of FIG. 6B. Complementing connectors or extrusions 64 are provided at the ends of the interior portion. The interior portion also comprises an interior surface 65 and a U-shaped portion 66 which receives the wheels 42 of the rollers 20 which can be the rollers of the prior art or any other roller. An exterior surface 68 of the interior portion ensures stability and strength of the assembled top track 70.
As shown in FIG. 7, once assembled, the exterior portion and the interior portion form the top track 70 of the shower. Extrusions 63 and 64 have gripped to securely assemble the top track 70. In use, the U-shaped portion 66 of the assembled top track 70 of the shower receives the wheels 42 of the roller 20.
Extrusion 63 is shown to be a hook on the exterior surface 60 of the track which extends towards the center of the exterior portion. The tip of extrusion 63 is sloped, with the larger width towards the inside of the portion and the smaller width towards the outside of the portion. Complementing extrusion 64 is therefore shown to be a complementing hook on the exterior surface 68 of the interior portion of the track which extends towards the outside and the side wall 69 of the interior portion. The tip of extrusion 64 is also sloped, with the larger width towards the inside of the portion and the smaller width towards the outside of the portion. The extrusions are sufficiently wide to have strength and retain the track portions together but sufficiently flexible to allow assembly.
Alignment of the extrusions 63 and 64 is such that, during assembly, as the two track portions are pushed one against the other, the sloped tips contact and the extrusions bend slightly away from each other until the larger width of the extrusions grip one another. The track is then assembled.
The extrusions 63 and 64 can be provided along the whole length of the track portion, for increased strength, or only at the end of it, for reduced material costs. The extrusions 63 can be provided at the end of the exterior surface so that the appearance of the exterior surface is not affected by the assembly mechanism of the track.
Preferably, top and bottom extrusions 63 are identical in shape and top and bottom extrusions 64 are identical in shape. However, all connectors could be differently shaped as long as top connector 63 is made to be connected with top connector 64 and similarly for bottom connectors.
In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 6A, the exterior track portion has a length of 1.975 in. The exposed surface of the track 60 comprises a straight portion and two curved portions having radiuses of about 16 mm. The C-shaped portions 61 and 62 have an inside radius of about 1.778 mm and an outer radius of about 3.048 mm. The opening is about 1.8 mm. The extrusions 63 have an angle of 45° and a depth of 0.889 mm.
In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 6B, the interior track portion has a length of 1.975 in. The extrusions 64 have a depth of 0.635 mm and a length of 2.790 mm. The U-shaped channel 66 has a radius of 3.429 mm. The superior lip 69 that covers the groove has a length of 11.049 mm. The distance between the superior lip and the top of the U-shaped channel is 25.273 mm.
As will be understood by one skilled in the art, many variants of the connectors 63 and 64 can be provided without departing from the invention. As shown in FIG. 8, the exterior track portion 82 can be provided with a locking plug 84. Then, the interior track portion 86 is provided with a corresponding locking clip 88 which is adapted to receive and grip the locking plug 84. FIG. 8C shows the assembled two-piece header of FIG. 8A and FIG. 8B forming a rail, in which the locking plug 84 is received in the locking clip 88. Other alternatives for the extrusions of FIGS. 6A and 6B will be apparent to one skilled in the art.
FIG. 9A shows an alternative embodiment in which the exterior portion of the track header does not have any C-shaped portions and FIG. 9B shows the assembled two-piece header which uses the exterior portion of FIG. 9A. In this embodiment, the track is affixed to the wall of the shower and to the other track portions in another way, such as by inserting the end of the track in an opening of the wall.
Also shown in FIG. 9B is a modified U-shaped portion which does not have a round bottom. This rectangular U-shaped portion could receive a displacement assembly which allows to slide the doors without the use of wheels, for example through the use of legs on the door roller adapter covered in a material allowing continuous displacement of the roller assembly. The U-shaped portion can therefore take on many different shapes and can be replaced by other means which allow displacement of the displacement assembly within the track.
FIG. 10 shows examples of alternative displacement channels which can be used to receive the displacement assembly. FIG. 10A shows a U-shaped portion 100 which is located near the top of the interior portion and the side wall 69 of the interior portion has been omitted. FIG. 10B shows a O-shaped channel 102 with an opening at the bottom to facilitate engagement of the displacement assembly with the door panel. FIG. 10C shows a C-shaped channel 104 which is created within the wall of the interior portion and is adapted to receive a displacement assembly.
All previous examples of the track header are shown with an exterior track portion and an interior track portion. The track header is therefore a two-piece track header. As will be readily understood to one skilled in the art, even though it may be preferable to keep the exterior track portion in a single piece for aesthetic purposes (the exterior surface 60 of the exterior portion 82 being apparent to the user), the interior and the exterior track portions could be made of a plurality of pieces.
FIG. 11 shows an example of an alternative track header which comprises three pieces instead of two as shown in the previous examples. FIG. 11A shows an alternative embodiment of the exterior portion 82 of the track header which has a central locking plug 84 and an extrusion 63 at each end. FIG. 11B and FIG. 11C each are a complementing half 110, 112 of the interior portion of the track header which can be called interior sections with complementing extrusions 64 at one end to connect to extrusions 63 on the exterior portion and a half of a locking clip 114 a, 114 b at the other end to connect to the locking plug 84. FIG. 11D shows the assembled three-piece header. When assembled, the extrusions 63 and 64 have connected and each half of the locking clip 114 a, 114 b has connected with the locking plug 84 to secure each half 110, 112 of the interior portion to the exterior portion 82 of the track header.
In FIG. 11D, the displacement channel is shown to be provided partly by both sections of the interior portion. As will be readily understood, depending on the shape of the sections, the displacement channel could be provided solely by one of the sections.
In the present description, all female members can be replaced by male members and corresponding male members modified accordingly and vice-versa.
The embodiments of the invention described above are intended to be exemplary only. The scope of the invention is therefore intended to be limited solely by the scope of the appended claims.