US 3568482 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
March 9, 1971 s. T. SHEARS I 3568,42
KEY RETAINER Filed Jan. 23, 1969 F IG. INVENTOR STUART T. SHEARS ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,568,482 KEY RETAINER Stuart T. Shears, Belmont, Mass., assignor to United-Carr Incorporated, Boston, Mass. Filed Jan. 23, 1969, Ser. No. 793,380 Int. Cl. A45c 11/32 US. Cl. 70-456 2 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A one-piece, synthetic plastic key retainer has a base section and a plurality of key holding loops hinged to the base section. The key holding loops are rotatable both individually and simultaneously about the hinge for movement of one or more keys into and out of a key case housing the retainer.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART The prior art includes numerous retainers for releasably securing keys in key cases. In most instances the retainers are of multipart construction and the key holding loops are detachably seated in a loop retaining chamber. The keys are usually detachable from the key loops and the loops are detachable from the retainers. Thus the likelihood of accidental separation and loss of a key is increased. The separate key loops, which are usually of spring wire construction, are subject to deformation which in certain instances may render the loops inoperative and in other instances seriously inhibit removal of keys from the loops. Many known retainers can only be utilized with soft backed key cases and a few which are universal, i.e. adaptable for use with both hard and soft backed cases, are of an expensive and often complicated nature. I am not aware of a known retainer wherein the key holding loops are hinged directly to the base section of the retainer.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The illustrated embodiment of the invention comprises a key retainer formed as a unitary strip of synthetic plastic material. The strip has at least one transversely extending groove defining a hinge connection between a base section at one end of the strip and a plurality of loops for releasably holding one or more keys at the other end of the strip. The loops are rotatable about the hinge connection both toward and away from the base section for movement of one or more keys into or out of a key case housing the retainer.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a top plan view of an open, hard backed key case housing a key retainer according to the invention with the key loops retracted;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of a key retainer according to the invention prior to assembly in a key case;
FIG. 3 is a side elevation of the retainer depicted in FIG. 2; and
FIG. 4 is a part cross-sectional view taken on line 44 of FIG. 1.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2 in particular, the numeral 1 designates a key retainer according to the invention which may be injection molded as an integral unit of a suitable synthetic resinous material, for example polypropylene, polyethylene or a like material having the flexibility and tough, tear-resistant characteristics necessary to provide the desired integral hinges. As molded, the key retainer appears as a unitary strip of plastic material having a base section 2, an intermediate section 3, and a plurality of laterally spaced keepers 4 which are adapted to be bent to form key retaining loops in a manner which will be further described hereinafter. The intermediate section 3 is spaced from the base section and the keepers by transversely extending grooves 5 defining thin webs 6 and 7 which act as hinge connections.
The base section 2 has a pair of through openings 8 for the receipt of rivets or other appropriate fastening means which secure the retainer in a key case.
Each of the keepers 4 includes a relatively Wide back portion 9 adjoining the Web 7 and a thinner, highly flexible finger 10 extending forwardly from the back portions. Each of the fingers 10 carries a transverse lug 11 at its terminus and each of the back portions 9 has a generally key hole shaped slot 12 formed therein. The restricted neck of each of the slots 12 is slightly narrower than the fingers 10.
FIGS. 1 and 4 depict the retainer secured in the dish shaped frame 13 of the well-known claim shell type key case which has a dished cover 14 spring hinged at 15 to the frame 13. In the illustrated arrangement, the base section 2 is riveted to the frame, but other suitable fastening means, for example an adhesive, might be utilized to effect the attachment. The forward end of the base section 2 lies adjacent the leading edge of the frame, the intermediate section 3 is bent upwardly about web hinge 6 so that it lies at substantially to the base section, and the keepers -4 are bent back toward the base section about web hinge 7 at substantially right angle bends with respect to the intermediate section. Thus all of the keepers 4 normally lie within the confines of the frame 13 of the key case.
Keys are attached to the retainer by threading the lugs 11 and fingers 10 through the usual apertures 16 in a key 17, bending the fingers back on themselves, twisting the fingers so that the lugs can be passed through the key hole slot 12, and thereafter removing the twisting force and drawing the fingers into the narrower portions of the key hole slots so that the lugs are drawn up against the surfaces of the back portions 9 adjacent the narrower ends of the slots. To remove a key from the retainer the above described procedure is carried out in reverse.
As best seen in FIG. 4, the double hinge construction and right angle bends adjacent the intermediate section provide adequate spacing for the lugs 11 between the base section and the keepers when the latter are in the retracted condition.
While a single hinge which would require bending of the keepers through a single angle of approximately might well be adequate, successive 90 bends in adjacent sections tends to reduce the over-all bending stress on the retainer and prolongs the flex life of the hinge connections. In addition, the intermediate section raises the web hinge 7 above the leading edge of the case frame 13 (see FIG. 4 in particular) to permit unimpeded rotation of the key loops through 180 or more about that hinge.
It should be recognized that the keepers 4 may be rotated about the web 7 individually for withdrawal of a single key from the case, for example ones automotive ignition key, without extension of the remaining key holding loops from the case. However, any number of key holding loops may be simultaneously extended out of the leading end of the case if an occasion for so doing arises.
From an esthetic point of view, the invention lends itself to complete color matching between the retainer and the key case and this feature along with the simplified structural features described above give rise to a definite advance from the present state of the art.
What is claimed is:
1. A one-piece, synthetic plastic key retainer comprising a base section adapted to be fixed in a key case, an intermediate section joined to said base section through a first hinge connection and a plurality of keepers joined to said intermediate section through a second hinge connection, each of said keepers having a portion defining a socket adjacent said second hinge connection and a highly flexible finger extending forwardly from said portion and carrying a transverse lug at its terminus, each of said fingers being adapted to be threaded through an opening in a key and bent on itself and each of said lugs being releasably engageable in one of said sockets to provide closed key holding loops, each of said keepers being individually rotatable about said second hinge for movement of a key into or out of a key case housing said key retainer.
2. A one-piece, synthetic plastic key retainer comprising a base section adapted to be fixed in a key case, an intermediate section joined to said base section through a first hinge connection, and a plurality of keepers joined to said intermediate section through a second hinge connection, each of said keepers being flexible and being adapted to be threaded through an opening in a key and bent into a closed key-holding loop and carrying means thereon engageable for retaining said keeper in a closed loop configuration, each of said keepers being individually rotatable about said second hinge connection for movement of a key into or out of a key case housing said key retainer.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,327,433 8/1943 Johnson 40-2.2 3,318,354 5/1967 Borisof ISO-40 3,469,424 9/1969 Shears 70-456 MARVIN A. CHAMPION, Primary Examiner R. L. WOLFE, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 70457, 459