US 3318516 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
y 1967 E. O. SCHEERER RURAL MAIL BOXES Filed Sept. 16, 1966 INVENTOR. l9 ERNEST O. SCHEERER ATTORNEY United States Patent ()fifice 3,313,516 Patented May 9, 1967 3,318,516 RURAL MAIL BQXES Ernest Otto Scheerer, 777 Vaughn Ave, Toms River, NJ. 08753 Filed Sept. 16, 1966, Ser. No. 579,950 7 Claims. (Cl. 232-35) This invention relates to rural mail boxes, and an object of the invention is the provision of improved signal means whereby the householder may readily see from a distance whether mail has been left in the box.
Rural mail boxes are generally positioned at a substantial distance from the house and provided with metal flags which the postman turns upward to project upward on one side of the box, to signal that he has placed mail in it. Such signal flags, however, offer poor visibility at best at the distance of the house, and in rainy weather or in the dark they are not at all visible. As a result the householder often makes futile trips out to the box in such weather to ascertain whether he has any mail.
Another object of the present invention is the provision of clearly visible signal means in rural mail boxes, which are automatically actuated by the postman when he opens the door of the box to deposit mail, whereby the signal is clearly visible at a distance regardless of the time of day or the condition of the weather.
The above broad as well as additional and more specific objects will be clarified in the following description wherein reference numerals refer to like-numbered parts in the accompanying drawing. It is to be understood that the drawing is intended primarily for the purpose of illustration and that it is therefore neither desired nor intended to limit the invention necessarily to any or all of the exact details shown or described except insofar as they maybe deemed essential to the invention.
Referring briefly to the drawing, FIG. 1 is a side elevational view, with parts broken away and partly in section, of a rural mail box embodying the features of the present invention, showing the box door closed.
FIG. 2 is a view similar to FIG. 1, showing the box door opened.
FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken on the line 33 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is a rear view of the box as seen along the line 4-4 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary sectional view taken on the line 55 of FIG. 3.
FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken on the line 6-6 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary enlargement of FIG. 2.
Referring in detail to the drawing, the numeral 10 indicates a rural mail box of common form having the hinged door 11, the bottom wall 12 and the rear wall 13. For the purpose of illustrating the present invention, the box 10 is shown having a floor 14 raised above the bottom wall 12, thus providing a compartment 15 extending the length of the box.
Secured in any desired manner, not shown, to the rear wall 13 of the box is a hollow housing enclosing a chamber, shown respectively at 16 and 17. The housing 16 may have the same transverse dimensions as the box 19, not shown, or it may be of smaller dimensions and shape, as shown. Mounted in this housing, for example on the floor 18, is a pull chain electric socket 19 of which the chain is shown at 20, having a light bulb 21 therein. The rear wall 13 of the box 10 constitutes the front wall of the housing 16 Whose rear wall is shown at'22 provided with a window opening 23. A guide molding 24, shown in FIG. 4 extending around the top, bottom and one side of the window 23, has a transparent or translucent panel 25 slidably mounted therein to close the opening 23. To
replace a spent light bulb the panel is simply slid out for access thereto.
A rod 26 is slidably carried by brackets 27 from the box floor 14. At its front end a coiled spring 23 joins it to a threaded pin 29 via a nut 31 to which the front end of the spring is attached, the rear end of the spring being engaged in a hole 31 in the rod. The pin 29 is shown provided with a ring 32 secured in a yoke 33 fixed to the inside of the door 11 above the door hinge.
A hole 35 is provided through the rear wall 13 for passage of the rod 26 therethrough. In spaced vertical guide moldings 36 on the rear wall 13 but within the chamber 17, a signal plate 37 is slidably mounted, the floor 18 of the chamber 17 having a 'slot 38 therein to permit the plate 37 to extend downward therethrough. A lip 39 on the upper edge of the plate, in descending, is stopped by pegs 46 extending inward from the opposed side walls of the housing 16. Pins 41 extending from the rear wall 13 into the chamber 16 serves as limit stops to the upward movement of the plate 37 to position it properly as will presently become apparent.
A vertical slot 42 is provided in the plate 37, and directly below the lower end of this slot a hOle 43 is positioned, through which the rear end of the rod is adapted to slide. The free end of the chain 20, which may of course be a cord or other suitable cable, is attached to the rod at or near its rear end.
Normally the plate 37 is in its uppermost position shown in FIG. 1, with the rod 26 extending through the hole 43 in the plate to hold the plate up. The chain 20 extends through the slot 42 in the plate at all times. When the box door 11 is opened, it pulls the rod 26 out of the hole 43 in the plate, thus releasing the latter to fall down to its lowermost position where it is exposed, as a signal below the box. Simultaneously as the door is opened and the rod moves forward, the rod pulls on the chain 20 and this pull energizes the lamp 21. When the door 11 is again closed, the signal plate 37 remains in its exposed position and the lamp remains energized. As is well known, after a chain socket switch is closed by pulling the chain, the chain on being released is drawn back into the socket without opening the switch, and the next time the chain is pulled the switch is opened and upon release of the chain the switch remains open. This characteristic of chain sockets is taken advantage of in the present invention.
Owing to the length of the slot 42 in the plate 37, the chain 20 is undisturbed by the rising and falling of the plate, as is obvious.
Assuming that the procedure just described has been gone through by the postman in placing mail in the box and closing the door, thus signalling to the householder that there is mail in the box, the householder upon noticing the signal may at his convenience walk out to retrieve the mail. When he now opens the door 1l,thus pulling out the rod 26, he again pulls the chain 20 and thus extinguishes the lamp. However, by now pushing the plate 37 back to its elevated position, shown in FIG. 1, before closing the door, he realigns the hole 43 in the plate with the rod 26, and while holding the plate up upon closing the door the rod passes through the hole 43 to keep the plate from falling. At the same time the chain 20 is again drawn into the socket 19. Thus the original conditions of the closed box are restored, with neither the lamp illuminate-d nor the signal plate showing.
A chain socket, which may of course be operated by a cord or cable of any suitable kind instead of a chain, passes through four sequential steps in a cycle. Assuming that the chain is untensed and the lamp is out, pulling the chain to energize the lamp is the first step; the second step consists in releasing the chain without altering the energization' of the lamp. The third step is again pulling the chain to extinguish the lamp, and the fourth stepconsists in again releasing the chain without altering the extinguished condition of the lamp. In order to better understand the appended claims, these four steps will be identified in the' claims as the four steps in a cycle.
The spring 28 permits bending of the forward end of the actuating member made up of the rod 26, the spring 28, and the stem 29 during opening or closing of the box door. The nut 30 permits of a degree of adjustment of the spring 28 for tension. Instead of positioning the said actuating member in a separate compartment such as adjacent the box bottom 12, it might be supported adjacent any of the surrounding side and top walls of the box, with or without the provision of a dividing partition such as the floor 14.
The lamp socket 19 is shown having leads 44 which may be connected to any suitable electric supply source, not shown.
As is apparent from FIGS. 1 and 2, when the plate 37 is lowered as in FIG; 2 the rod 26 is aligned with the upper portion of the slot 42, so that upon closing the door the rod enters the slot 42 at its upper end. It would be possible to eliminate the lower limit stops 40 and have the rod 26 extend at all times through the slot 42 and thus serve as a lower limit stop to the plate by engaging the upper end of the slot 42. A disadvantage to such a change would, however, result, for the repeated impact of the upper end of the slot upon the rear end of the rod would tend in time to bend the rod and possibly also enlarge the upper end of the slot.
It is to be noted that the hole 35 in the rear wall of the box has the shape of an inverted key hole, through the lower or circular part of which the rod 26 slides and through the upper slot-like vertical part of which the adjacent end portion of the chain is free to move.
What is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is as follows:
1. The combination with a rural mail box which includes surrounding bottom, top and side walls, a rear wall and a hinged front door, of an extension housing secured to said rear wall and enclosing a chamber, an elongated actuating member slidably mounted longitudinally of the box adjacent to and parallel with one of said surrounding walls, said rear wall having a first hole therein in alignment with said member, an electric socket with a chain operated switch mounted in said chamber having the chain .thereof secured to the rear end of said member, a lamp in said socket, the front end of said member being attached to said door, said member having a length such that when said door is closed said rear end of the member extends into said chamber and when said door is fully opened said rear end of the member moves forwardly of said chamber, said chain having a length such that when said rear end of said member extends into said chamber as aforesaid the chain is relaxed and when said rear end of the member moves forwardly of said chamber as aforesaid the chain is fully tensed and said lamp socket switch is operated, said housing having a window therein.
2. A combination according to claim 1, wherein said box has a horizontal partition spaced above said bottom wall of the box and said actuating member is positioned in the compartment thereby formed between the partition and said bottom wall.
3. A combination according to claim 1, said rear wall having a plate vertically slidably mounted thereon within said chamber, said housing having a first slot in the bottom thereof in alignment with said plate, said plate having an elongated vertical slot therein, said chain extending through said vertical slot, said plate having a second hole therein positioned spaced below said vertical slot, means limiting said plate to a given uppermost position wherein said second hole is in alignment with said member and means limiting the plate to a given lowermost position wherein the plate protrudes through said first slot and is exposed below said housing.
4. .A combination according to claim 3, said actuating member consisting for the greater part including said rear end thereof of a rod and for the remaining forward part thereof of a resilient extension for attaching the member to said door as aforesaid.
. tions of said plate.
6. In combination with a rural mail box having a hinged front door, an extension housing secured to the rear wall of the box and enclosing a chamber, an electric chain socket mounted in said chamber, a lamp in said socket, said rear wall having an opening therethrough, an elongated actuating member longitudinally slidably mounted Within said box in alignment with said opening having the front end thereof attached to said door and the rear end thereof positioned in said opening, said chain being attached to said rear end of said member and having a length such that when said door is closed said chain is relaxed and when said door is fully open said chain is fully tensed, whereby with the door closed and the lamp extinguished fully opening the door the door actuates said chain as a first step by tensing the chain to energize the lamp and closing the door releases the chain as a second 7 step which leaves the lamp energized and reopening the door fully again tenses the chain as a third step to deenergize the lamp and reclosing the door actuates the chain as a fourth step to again release the chain to leave the a lamp deenergized, said housing having a window therein.
7. A combination according to claim 6, said housing having a first slot in the bottom thereof, a plate vertically slidably mounted on said rear wall in alignment with said first slot and having a vertical slot therein, said chain extending through said vertical slot, means limiting the uppermost position of said plate wherein the plate is substantially wholly contained within said housing and limit stop means limiting the lowermost position of the plate wherein the plate protrudes a substantial distance from the housing, said plate having means engaged. by said member for supporting the plate in said uppermost position only when said door is closed.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,480,288 8/1949 Donadio 23235 2,864,553 12/1958 Petrie 23235 3,026,025 3/1962 Hanson 232-35 3,275,229 9/1966 Turner 232-34 3,291,386 12/1966 Van Fleet 232-35 DAVID J. WILLIAM OWSKY, Primary Examiner. FRANCIS K. ZUGEL, Examiner.