US 3331552 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
July 18, 1967 P. SHULTZ 3,331,552
MAILBOX WITH AUTOMATIC SIGNAL Filed May 25, 1966 Fig 2 Paul Shy/f2 INVENTOR.
United States Patent 3,331,552 MAILBOX WITH AUTOMATIC SIGNAL Paul Shultz, RR. 1, Tipton, Iowa 52772 Filed May 25, 1966, Ser. No. 552,879 Claims. (Cl. 232-35) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 the mailbox is conventional. The concept has to do with a signal flag, means for guiding and supporting the staff in its normal vertical signalling position, lever means pivotally rockable on the side wall near the lower end of the staff and hingedly connected to the lower end, and a chain or equivalent connection between the lever means and downwardly swingable door whereby when the door is opened downwardly the lever means comes into play, bodily lifts the staff so that the flag can then move rearwardly and downwardly in an arcuate path to its lowered position.
This invention relates to a regulation rural mailbox and the combination therewith of a structurally and functionally improved signalling flag and, more particularly, novel door actuated means for automatically moving the flag from an up or raised position to a down position.
As set forth in the preceding opening statement of the invention the mailbox itself is conventional. The essence of the invention has to do with (l) the signal flag, (2) the means for mounting it on one vertical side wall of the box and (3) a unique operating connection between the staff of the flag and the hinged lower end of the customary outwardly and downwardly swingable door. The flag is designed and adapted to be manually lifted and moved forwardly and set to assume a raised signalling position. When, however, the mail carrier arrives at the box and opens the door, the operating connection between the door and the fiagstatf comes into play and the flag is automatically tripped and swings rearwardly and downwardly to a down signalling position. Accordingly, the invention well serves the time and labor saving needs of the carrier and signalling needs for the resident or other user of the box.
One improvement resides in a side wall guide for the staff of the flag. To acomplish the improved result desired a simple metal strap or link-like bar is positioned in spaced parallel relation alongside the desired side wall. The space between the bar and wall provides a guideway in which a median portion of the staff is confined and manually shiftable from a down position to a raised or up position. This bar is located at the right height relative to the top and bottom walls of the box and slants rearwardly downwardly. The ends of the bar are bolted in place by forward and rearward bolts. The rearward bolt provides a limit stop and rest for the flagstaif when the flag is automatically tripped to assume its lowered signalling position. On the other hand, the forward bolt checks the forward travel of the flagstaif. In addition it serves as a temporary detent for an oblique angled keeper notch provided in the fiagstaff and which is releasably engaged therewith.
An equally significant improvement has to do with means which is employed to momentarily lift the staff and disengage the keeper notch from the forward bolt. This means is unique in that it provides an efiicient operating connection between the hinged lower end of the mailbox door and lower lifting and tilting end of the flagstaff. To the ends desired, a chain or the like has a forward end fastened to the door and a rearward end oriented with and connected to a staff triggering trip,
more specifically, a substantially V-shaped lever which is rockably pivoted midway between its ends on the aforementioned side wall. For best results this cradling-type lever is made up of a pair of side-by-side V-shaped companion links whose rearward ends straddle and are pivotally bolted to the lower end of the flagstaff and whose forward ends are suitably connected with a coacting rearward end of the door controlled lever cradling chain.
These together with other objects and advantages which will become subsequently apparent reside in the details of construction and operation as more fully hereinafter described and claimed, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout, and in which:
FIG. 1 is a view in side elevation showing a conventional rural mailbox, a conventional-type signalling flag, the means mounting the flag on the side wall of the box and the automatic operating connection between the door and lower end of the flagstatf, the flag being shown in an elevated or up position with the door normally closed.
FIG. 2 is a view also in side elevation and which corresponds with FIG. 1 except that it shows the door swung down to an open position and, what is more important it shows the flag in a rearwardly inclined lowered or down position and how the features of the invention come into play when the flag is down.
And FIG. 3 is a horizontal sectional view with the parts in section and elevation, with the box fragmentarily shown, said view taken on the plane of the section line 33 of FIG. 1.
With reference now to the views of the drawing, the conventional rural mailbox is denoted by the numeral 6, the same supported on a post or the like 8. The box comprises horizontal bottom and top walls 10 and 12, opposed vertical side walls 14, the rearward end of the box being shown closed at 16 and open (FIG. 2) at the forward end as denoted at 18. The door is conventional and is denoted by the numeral 20 and has a marginal rim or flange 22 with lower end portions hingedly mounted on forward side wall portions as denoted at 24. The usual front end latch means is denoted at 26 and catch at 28.
The flag is of a common type and is denoted generally at 30 and comprises a staff 32 provided at its upper end with a suitable signalling flag 34. The principal diiference in the staff here is that the median portion is provided with an oblique angled keeper notch 36 which opens through the forward or leading edge 38 of the staff. The flag as a unit is properly installed and held in place by simple retaining and guide means. More specifically this means comprises a linearly straight elongated metal strap or link-like bar which is denoted at 40. This bar is opposed in spaced parallel relationship to the side wall 14 shown in the views of the drawing. The bar is well above the level of the bottom wall It and below the level of the top wall 12 and inclines rearwardly and downwardly. The rearward end is secured by a bolt and nut assembly denoted generally at 42 and provided (FIG. 3) with a spacing sleeve 44. A similar bolt and nut 46 and spacing sleeve is provided to connect the forward end of the bar to the side wall. It follows that this thus bolted and spaced bar provides a guideway in which the median notched portion of the fiagstaff 32 is confined and operable. The forward bolt means 46 provides not only a mounting for the bar 49 but also provides a detent for the keeper notch 35. This is to say, when the flag is in the up or elevated position shown in FIG. 1 the keeper notch 36 is engaged with the bolt 46 which serves also as a limit stop. When the notched portion is released the bar mounting bolt means 42 and 44 provides a stop which limits the rearward travel and inclined angular position of the fiagstaff as shown in FIG. 2.
The door controlled flagstaff actuating means com-prises a substantially V-shaped or bell crank lever which is denoted as an entity by the numeral 48. This lever unit or means is substantially V-shaped in side elevation and is rockably mounted on the side wall 14 intermediate its ends. More specifically it comprises a pair of substantially V-shaped companion links 50 whose median portions are rockably mounted on a fulcruming bolt 52 held in place by an assembling nut 54. The right hand or rearward end portions of the links 56 straddle the lower end portion of the flagstafi and are operatively and pivotally connected thereto by a bolt 58 held in place by an assembling nut 60. The forward end portions 62 of the links are also provided with a bolt 64 and nut 66 providing means for attaching the coacting rearward end of a flexible element or chain 68 thereto. The forward or left hand end of the chain is secured by a bolt 70 and nut 72 to the lower hinged end of the rim of the door. The chain is of requisite length so that when the door is closed the chain is substantially taut in the manner illustrated in FIG. 1. It will also be clear from FIG. 1 that the signal has been manually set up so that the flag 34 is in its elevated or raised position. To accomplish this the keeper notch 36 is engaged with the bolt means 46. It follows that when the mail carrier reaches the box and opens the door 20 the downward swing of the door exerts a pull from right to left on the actuating chain 68. This is illustrated in FIG. 2 wherein it will be seen that when the door swings down the chain tilts the lever unit or means 48 and the lever rocks on its pivot or fulcrum 52. In so doing the end portions 56' of the links exert a lifting force on the staff 32 whereupon the keeper notch is automatically released and the flag gravitates to the rearwardly inclined or low signalling position shown in FIG. 2.
If desired, a simple additional bolt 74 with an assembling nut 76 may be provided to serve as a limit stop for the lever means as suggested in FIG; 2.
The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention as claimed.
What is claimed as new is as follows:
1. In combination, a regulation rural mailbox embodying bottom, top and side walls, a fixed end wall closing a rearward end of said mailbox, an outwardly downwardly swinging door hingedly mounted and closing the forward end of said mailbox, a linearly straight rearwardly downwardly slanting elongated bar member spaced from and parallel to an exterior surface of one side wall and having its respective ends secured by forward and rearward bolts to said one side wall, the space between said one side wall and bar member providing a guideway for the stafi of a signalling flag and said bolts providing limit 4 stops, a signalling flag comprising a rigid staff having a flag at an upper end, the median portion of said staff being bodily liftable and lowerable and swingably movable in said space and adapted to automatically shift from a manually set forward upstanding flag-raising forward mail pickup position to a rearwardly inclined flag-lowering position, said median portion having a keeper notch opening through the forward longitudinal edge of said median portion engageable with and releasably suspended by said forward bolt when the flag is in said upstanding position, and means providing an operating connection between said door and a cooperating lower end of said stafl? comprising lever means pivotally rockably mounted midway between its ends on said one side wall adjacent the lower end of said stalf, said lever means being pivotally operatively connected at one end to said lower end, and a flexible element connected at one end to the other end of said lever means and connected operatively at its other end to the hingedly mounted portion of said door.
2. The combination according to claim 1, and wherein said bar member is rigid and fixedly mounted on said one side wall in a plane well above the plane of the bottom wall, also in a plane below the plane of said top wall, said flag being movable in an arcuate path essentially above the position of said bar member, the lower portion of said staif depending below the position of said bar member, said keeper notch being disposedat an angle oblique to the lengthwise axis of said staff.
3. The combination according to claim 1, and in combination therewith, a limit stop mounted on said one side wall with which said other end of said lever means is capable of engagement if and when necessary.
4. The combination defined in and according to claim 1, and wherein said lever means comprises a pair of complemental substantially V-shaped links, said links being alike and being joined to each other in spaced apart parallel relationship, and said flexible element comprising a' chain.
5..The structure according to claim 4, and wherein the lower end of said staff is sandwiched between and secured to coordinating ends of said links.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 670,686 3/1901 Pfeifier 232-35 844,435 2/1907 Wolf 232-35 869,844 10/ 1907 Hushour 232-35 1,380,164 5/1921 Stafford 232-35 2,078,160 4/ 1937 Reed 232-35 2,352,975 7/1944 Roe 232-35 2,668,657 2/1954 Horton 232-35 2,809,780 10/ 1957 Doetsch 232-35 2,859,913 11/1958 Paschke et a1 232-35 2,889,981 6/1959 Hunt 232-35 3,168,239 2/1965 Cooper 232-35 FRANCIS K. ZUGEL, Primary Examiner.