US 3139164 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
S. KOFFLER June 30; 1964 LUGGAGE 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed July 6, 1962 INVENTOR. SOL KOFFLER ATT YS S. KOFFLER LUGGAGE June 30, 1964 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed July 6, 1962 INVENTOR." SOL KOFFLER WWMQJ ATT'YS United States Patent 3,139,164 LUGGAGE Sol Kettles, see Blackstone, Providence, RI. Filed July 6, 1962, Ser. No. 24984908 6 Claims. (Cl. Nth-43) This invention, in general, relates to luggage and to luggage frame structures. More particularly, the invention relates to luggage and luggage frame structures wherein collapsible, flexible portions of the luggage are reinforced by structural members.
The present invention pertains primarily to luggage falling into the category commonly referred to as car cases.
The conventional car cases are made of a heavy fabric which opens into two undivided sections when the luggage lies flat. Suits, dresses and the like are laid in the luggage, usually on hangers attached at one end of the luggage to a member on the inner wall of the luggage. When the luggage is closed, the articles of clothing fold at the middle part of the luggage. The primary value of this type of luggage is the minimizing of wrinkling of the articles of clothing carried.
I have observed that luggage of the type described is relatively unattractive in appearance in comparison with other types of luggage, especially after the luggage has been used a number of times. Because the usual car cases have essentially flexible walls with little internal support in the luggage, the luggage begins to become misshapen after a short period of use. Furthermore, the usual car cases are not very serviceable when travelling by public conveyances because they are stacked with other pieces of luggage in the baggage compartment of the public conveyance wherein the luggage and the clothing therein can be crushed by the weight of the other luggage stacked thereon.
It is a primary object of this invention to provide improvements in frame structures for articles of luggage.
Another obiect is to improve the crush resistance of articles of luggage of the car case variety.
Still another object is to improve the structural strength of the upper portions of articles of luggage of the car case variety.
A still further object is to provide improvements in flexible, strengthening, structural members in articles of luggage and also improvements in the mounting means by which said members can be mounted in articles of luggage.
Another object is to provide improvements in parts for stitching of flexible coverings to the luggage frame.
The foregoing and numerous other important obg'ects, advantages, and inherent functions of the invention will become apparent as the same is more fully understood from the following description, which, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, discloses a preferred embodiment of the invention.
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the invention in which the illustrated piece of luggage is shown in the closed position;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the embodiment in which the illustrated piece of luggage is in the flat, open position;
FIG. 3 is an end elevation of the embodiment with the upper edge portions of the luggage piece broken away to show the strengthening structure for rigidifying the upper portion of the luggage;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 1 by showing only the frame structure of the embodiment;
FIG. 5 is a perspective, fragmentary view of an end part of the upper or middle frame piece; and
FIGS. 6 and 7 are, respectively, perspective views of spring steel bands in the unstressed state and in the flattened state with slide heads mounted on their ends.
Briefly, the luggage of the instant invention comprises a pair of shells. Each shell has an open end, and the two open ends of the shell are connected by a flexible segment of fabric, plastic sheeting or other suitable flexible sheet-like material. The flexible segment allows luggage to be opened to a fully'fiat position as shown in FIG. 2 with the open ends of the shells facing each other for the purpose of laying or packing articles of clothing in the luggage piece. When the clothing is packed, the luggage piece can be closed with the shells forming a hollow compartment for holding the articles of clothing. Each shell preferably comprises a side wall, a bottom wall and two end walls of a substantially rigid character. The middle portion of the flexible segment preferably has a frame piece extending thereacross to which the handle of the luggage is attached. Furthermore, the latter frame piece coacts with means connected to the shells for rigidifying the portion of the luggage piece between the shells to support the flexible segment against collapse under weight when the luggage piece is closed. These means may be bands of spring steel or other suitable materials connected to and extending between the shells and bearing against the middle frame piece to form an arched support for the flexible segments in the upper portions of the luggage piece when the luggage piece is in the closed position.
The luggage piece 1 is made of two opposing hollow compartments 2, 3 which form a hollow container for holding articles of clothing when the luggage piece is closed as shown in FIG. 1 and which form an undivided compartment for receiving articles of clothing when the luggage is laid open as shown in FIG. 2.
In order to make this type of luggage rigid and resistant to crushing under weight loads, the major part of each compartment 2, 3 contains rigidifying shells 4 and 9, respectively. Shell 4 has a side wall 5, a bottom wall 7 and two end walls 6 and 8. The shell 9 is identical to the shell 4 and has the side wall 10, a bottom wall 12 and two end walls 11 and 13. The shells are positioned in the luggage piece with their open ends opposing each other when the luggage piece is laid open as shown in FIG. 4. When the'luggage piece is closed, the end walls 6 and 8 are aligned with end walls 11 and 13, respectively. The bottom walls 7 and 12 become the bottom side of the luggage. The walls 5 and It? constitute the side walls of the luggage, and the end wall pairs 6 and 11 and 8 and 13 become a part of the end walls of the luggage.
The luggage piece 1 preferably contains one additional rigid part of the luggage framework. This part is the middle frame member 14 composed of a wall 15 having integral end walls 16 spaced apart a distance substantially coextensive with the width of the open ends of the shells 4 and 9. The end walls 16 are not absolutely essential to the primary purposes and functions of the invention, but do have auxiliary functions of an advantageous nature as will be hereinafter described.
If desired, the corners of the open ends of the shells 4 and 9 may be reinforced by metal strips 17 mounted in these corners by means of rivets or other suitable fastening means.
The frame member 14 is positioned in the luggage piece 1 midway between the shells 4 and 9 when the luggage piece is laid open as shown in FIG. 2. When the luggage piece is closed, the wall 15 becomes the rigid framework for the top of the luggage piece 1. The end walls 16 depend downwardly and serve as small, rigidifying sections at the top of the end walls of the luggage piece 1. The frame member 14 has a pair of straps l8 and 19 3 mounted on the respective end walls 16. The straps 18 and 19 are connected or disconnected as desired by the buckle 20.
The shells 4 and 9 and frame member 14 are made of any suitable material which is substantially rigid and resistant to substantial bending. It is preferably a lightweight material. Examples of materials from which the shells 4 and 9 and frame member 14 can be made are lightweight metals, molded plastics, and molded fiber products such as molded Fiberglas. The shells and frame member are designed so that they can be cast, molded or stamped as unitary pieces.
The finished luggage piece preferably is covered entirely with a relatively 'heav, wear-resistant fabric or plastic sheeting 21. Examples of said fabrics or plastic sheeting include canvas duck, heavy woven nylon fabric or other heavy synthetic polymer woven fabric, or relatively heavy plastic sheeting, such as various types of vinyl sheeting and the like which are sufficiently plastic that' they can be bent a large number of times without breaking.
In forming the luggage piece, the covering 21 is glued, cemented, or otherwise secured to the outer surface of the shells 4 and 9 and tightly stretched thereover. It is similarly cemented, glued or otherwiseadhered to the outer surface of the frame member 14. These three pieces of the luggage framework make up the major portion of the wall area of the luggage piece 1, the remaining area being bendable segments 22and 23, which are unrigidified pieces of the covering 21. The covering 21 preferably is made of a heavy, wear-resistant material.
By constructing the luggage in the manner outlined, the luggage piece 1 has a finished appearance and is much more attractive than the usual, presently known car cases. The luggage piece protects the articles of clothing contained therein against crushing when loads are placed on the luggage piece. The attractive appearance of the luggage is further enhanced by-the fact that the bendable segments 22 and 23 need have only one fold 24 in the covering at each corner.
The appearance of the luggage can be further improved by stitching beads 25 to the end walls and bottom wall of the luggage piece and similarly stitching a circumferential, horizontal bead 26 around the side walls and end walls. The edges of the two compartments of the luggage piece have ribbing 27 by which the flange 39 is stitched on the luggage piece. The segment 29 of ribbing 27 becomes folded when the luggage piece is closed (see FIG. 1). Decorative beading may be applied along the top and a part of the ends of the luggage piece 1, if desired.
A handle 30 is mounted on the top wall of the luggage piece in handle brackets 31. The handle brackets 31 are rigidly secured to the frame member 14 by means of rivets 32 extending through the frame member and riveted upon a reinforcing plate 33 on the underside of the frame member 14. V
The luggage piece 1 is locked in the closed position by a pair of lock-straps mounted on opposite end walls of the luggage piece. Each lock-strap comprises a metal mounting piece 28 on .an end wall of one shell. A strap 34 is mounted in the mounting piece 28 and extends across the junction of the two shells when the luggage is in the closed position. The strap is locked on the end wall of the other shell by a locking member 35. The locking member does not constitute a part of my invention. Briefly, however, the locking part 35 comprises a base portion 36 attached to the end wall of the shell. The base portion 36 has a groove in which the end of the strap 34 is received and a pin 37 extends outwardly from the groove wall. The pin 37 is adapted to project into a hole in the end of the strap 34 to lock the strap against displacement from the locking piece 35. A head 38 is pivotably mounted on the base segment 36 and is adapted to swing across the groove and the base segment36 to hold down the strap. It can be pivoted to the unlocked position shown in FIG. 2.
There is provided around the inner periphery of the compartments 2 and 3 at the edges thereof, excepting wall 7, flange 39 of relatively rigid material. Flange 39 has a zipper track 40 along its free edge, which zipper track meshes with zipper track 41 extending along the three sides of a fabric covering 42, which encloses the articles of clothing in the compartments 2, 3 after they have been packed in the luggage piece 1. The covering 42 is mounted at one end on wall 7 of the compartment 3 and corresponds in size to the opening between the edges of the flange 39. The flange 39 is bendable at segments 43 so that it does not interfere with the closing of the luggage.
Compartments 2 and 3 may each have a hanger support 44 mounted on their bottom walls 7 and 12. The hanger supports 44 may be attached to mounting plates fixedly mounted on the bottom walls. The hanger supports 44 are adapted to receive and hold a removable, interfitting support bar 48 on which the latching parts of pivotable hooks 46 of hangers 47 are hung. It is to be understood, however, that any suitable or conventional hanger supports may be used insteadof the illustrated hanger supports and supportingbars.
The articles of clothing are packed in the luggage piece by placing them on the hangers 47 and attaching the hangers on one or both of the supporting bars 48. The supporting bars are inter-fitted and locked in the hanger supports 44. The straps 18 and 19 are buckled together over the articles of clothing, and the cover 42 is zipped. The luggage is then closed and locked. In the upright position'the buckled straps 18 and 19 act as a support for the clothing folded thereover with the luggage in the upright position.
The frame member 14 may be made of any material of suitable structural strength. I have found that it is possible to use wood for this purpose and, in such case, the rounded corners of the frame piece 14 may be reinforced by corrugated wooden pieces glued to the rounded corners ofthe frame piece 14. The end walls 16 of the frame piece 14 may have mounted on the outer edges thereof rubber or synthetic plastic mounts 51, which may be extruded pieces cut into suitable lengths to provide an U- channel portion 52 fitting over the ends of the end walls 16 and a tab portion 53. These tab portions 53 provide strips to which the fabric 21 and/or the beading 27 can be stitched. The bottom walls 7 and 12 may have rubber feet or pads mounted thereon on which the luggage piece rests. Four feet 56 are shown in the illustrated embodiment.
I have found that it is desirable to provide a structural support in the luggage piece to support the metal frame member 14 on the shells 4 and 9 when the luggage piece is in the closed position. Such support is beneficial in retaining the original shape of the luggage piece over extended periods of use. Without structural support between the shells and the middle frame member 14, the luggage piece tends to become misshaped in the upper portions of the luggage piece, particularly in instances where other luggage is piled thereon during conveyance and/ or handling on public conveyances.
One of the problems in providing a suitable support structure for the frame piece 14' is that the support structure must be constructed so as to be free from interfering with the clothing compartment of the luggage; It, furthermore, must be mounted so that it will notsnag orcatch clothing in the compartment.
This invention provides a supporting structure for the frame member 14 which operates without interference to the space in the clothing compartment and without catching or snagging on pieces of clothing. At the same time it imparts a substantially rigid, though somewhat yieldable, support structure between the frame piece 14 and the shells 4 and 9 when the luggage piece is closed. At
the same time, however, the supporting structure has sufiicient flexibility to permit the luggage piece to be laid fiat in the position shown in FIG. 2 and also in FIG. 4. The primary supporting members for the frame member 14 are the spring steel bands 54. The mid-portions of these bands are mounted between the underside of the part 15 of the frame piece 14 and the plate 33. The ends of the bands 54 are mounted in slide heads 55, which are fixedly mounted on the edges of side walls and 14) of the shells 4 and 9 adjacent the open ends of the shells. These slide heads permit a relative sliding movement of a limited nature between the bands 54 and the heads 55 during-the pivotal movement of the shells 4 and 9 relative to the frame piece 14 during the opening and closing of the luggage piece.
In the illustrated case, the slide heads 55 comprise an upper plate 56 and a'lower plate 57 parallel therewith. The plates 56, 57 are made from a single piece of metal by forming a reverse bend therein. Plate 56 has opposing notches 58 on opposite sides thereof, and the plate 57 is slit to provide tabs or cars 59 at a corresponding position to the notches 58. These tabs or ears 59 on the plate 57 are bent inwardly so that the ends of the tabs or ears 59 extend across the upper side of 'plate 56 at the notches'58.
The bands 54 have at their outer ends neck portions 69 (FIG. 7) which extend into the space between plates 56 and 57. At the ends of the necks 60 there is provided head portions 61 of the bands 54 which are also slidable in the space between the plates 56, 57. These head portions form shoulders which strike against the bent tabs or ears 59 and prevent the ends of the bands 54 from being displaced from these slide heads 55.
For purposes of mounting the slide heads 55 on the edges of the walls Sand of shells 4 and 9, each slide head may be made with a rearwardly bent edge 62 of the lower plate 57. The plate 57 may also be made with sharp prongs 63 which penetrate the walls 5 and 10 when the bent edge 62 is bent against the outer side of the side walls 5 and 10.
The relationship between the slide heads 55 and the steel bands 54 is that shown in FIG. 7 when the luggage is in the open position and the steel bands 54 are laid in a substantially flat position. A portion of the plate 56 is broken away in FIG. 7 to show the relationship between the head 61 and the ears or tabs 59 in preventing displacement of the end of the bands 54 from the slide head 55. When the luggage piece is closed, the neck 60 and the head 61 on each end of the bands slides in the slide head 55 until the outer edge 65 of the heads 61 hits the rounded end wall 64 of the slide heads 55. When the luggage piece is in the closed position, the steel bands 54 act as substantially rigid structural support pieces mounted on the shells 4 and 9 and coacting with the frame piece 14 to support the upper portion of the luggage against collapse under weight. In the finished piece of luggage, the bands 54 and slide heads 55 are covered by the inner liner 66 so that they will not contact or snag clothing in the luggage.
The foregoing description of one embodiment of my invention constitutes but one of the many possible variations for putting to practice the generic concepts disclosed in this description and claimed in the appended claims. My invention is not limited in its generic aspect solely to the embodiment described and illustrated. By way of example of some variations, a serviceable luggage piece can be constructed without covering the shells 2 and 3 and/ or the frame member 14 with fabric or plastic sheeting. Instead, foldable, relatively rigid fabric may be used in a luggage piece only in the segments corresponding to segments 22 and 23 of the previously described drawing with the fabric pieces attached at or adjacent to the edges of the shells 4 and 9 and the frame member 14. Alternatively, the fabric may be attached at the edges of the shells 4 and 9 and in the form of a untiary piece to which is adhered, cemented or otherwise secured, a framemember 14 in the manner previouslyidescribed. The decorativebeading shown in theillustrated embodiment may be placed at other positions on the luggage or may be omitted entirely. Other decorative or aesthetic features of the illustrated embodiment may be modified or omitted without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The. straps 18 and 19 may be replaced by a rod or bar hinged at one sideof the luggage.
Thus, in essence, the herein described invention provides a luggage piece which is composed primarily of a framework of substantially rigid framing members interconnectedby flexible fabric or sheeting segments and bendable structural reinforcement. This combination of interconnected, substantially rigid framing members provides luggage pieces which provide all of the utilitarian functions of previously known car cases, while substantially enhancing the appearance of the luggage pieces in comparison with the previously known car cases, and at the same time giving much improved protection to the clothing contained in the luggage pieces against crushing of the clothing contained therein when weight is placed upon the luggage pieces. Still further, the luggage features constructed in accordance with the invention retain their new or originalappearance much longer than the known car cases under conditions of similar handling and storage, particularly in the handling and storage of baggage during transit on public and freight conveyances.
The invention is hereby claimed as follows: 1. A luggage piece comprising a pair of substantially rigid and substantially identical shells, each shell having a side wall, a bottom wall, first and second end walls and an open end opposite said bottom wall, the shells, when lying on their side walls, being spaced apart and having their respective open ends facing each other, a substantially rigid frame member of substantially coextensive length with the width of said open ends positioned between said shells with its sides substantially parallel to said open ends and spaced therefrom, said frame member being interconnected with said shells by flexible material extending across the spaces between the frame member and the respective shells and attached to said shells and frame member, a member mounted on the side wall of each shell adjacent the open end, means on said members slidably holding for limited sliding movement the respective ends of a spring metal band extending between said shells, and the mid-portion of .said band supporting said frame member when said luggage piece is closed.
2. A luggage piece comprising a pair of substantially rigid and substantially identical shells, eac h shell having a side wall, a bottom wall, first and second end walls and an open end opposite said bottom wall, the shells, when lying on their side walls, being spaced apart and having their respective open ends facing each other, a substantially rigid frame member of substantially coextensive length with the width of said open ends positioned between said shells with its sides substantially parallel to said open ends and spaced therefrom, said frame member being interconnected with said shells by flexible material extending across the spaces between the frame member and the respective shells and attached to said shells and frame member, a member mounted on the side wall of each shell adjacent the open end, said member including a pair of parallel, spaced apart plates, a band of spring metal extending between said shells with the ends of said bands slidably mounted between said plates in the respective member on said shells, means limiting the relative sliding movement of said ends of said bands in the respective members, and the mid-portion of said band being mounted on the underside of said frame member, whereby said band supports said frame member on said shells when the luggage piece is closed.
3. A framework for an article of luggage comprising a first frame with Walls defining a clothing-receiving cavity, a second frame companion to said first frame with walls defining a clothing-receiving cavity, said frames being connected across one end thereof by sheeting of flexible material acting as a flexible hinge for relative pivotal movement of said frames, bands of spring metal mounted on and extending between said frames and coacting with an additional frame member to provide an arched support between said shells to support said sheeting against collapse when said frames are in substantially edge-toedge relationship, members mounted on each of said first frame and said second frame, means on said last-mentioned members slidably holding for limited longitudinal sliding movement the respective ends of said spring metal bands, and the mid-portions of said bands supporting said additional frame members.
4. A luggage piece comprising a pair of substantially identical, rigid shells having open ends facing each other when said luggage piece is laid open, a substantially rigid frame member of substantially coextensive length as the Width of said open ends positioned between said shells, an end wall at each end of said frame member, a rubberlike member mounted on each end wall, each rubber-like member having a tab, and said frame member being interconnected with said shells by flexible material extending across the spaces between the frame member and the respective shells, said flexible material being attached to said frame member and said shells and being stitched to said tabs.
5. A framework for an article of luggage comprising a first frame with walls defining a clothing-receiving cavity, a second frame companion to said first frame with walls defining a clothing-receiving cavity, said frames being connected across one end thereof by sheeting of flexible material acting as a flexible hinge for relative pivotal movement of said frames, bands of spring metal mounted on and extending between said frames and coacting with an additional frame member to provide an arched support between said shells to support said sheeting against collapse when said frames are in substantially edge-t0- edge relationship, members mounted on each of said first frame and said second frame, each of said members including a pair of parallel, spaced apart plates, said spring metal bandshaving their ends slidably mounted between said plates in the respective members on said first frame and said second frame, means limiting the relative sliding movement of the ends of said bands in the respective members, and the mid-portions of said bands being attached to said additional frame member. a
6. A luggage piece comprising a pair of substantially identical, rigid frame members having open ends facing each other when said luggage piece is laid open, an intermediate, substantially rigid frame member of a length substantially coextensive with the width of said open ends and positioned between said frame members, an end wall at each end of said intermediate frame member extending toward said pair of substantially identical, rigid frame members when said luggage piece is closed, an elastomeric member mounted on each end wall, each elastomeric member having a tab, and said intermediate frame member being interconnected with said pair of rigid frame members by flexible material extending across the spaces between said intermediate frame member and the pair of rigid frame members, said flexible material being attached to said frame members and being stitched to said tabs.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,849,093 Chesnut Aug. 26, 1958 2,862,586 Davis Dec. 2, 1958 2,985,266 Pelavin May 23, 1961