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Publication numberUS3572581 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 30, 1971
Filing dateSep 23, 1969
Priority dateSep 23, 1969
Publication numberUS 3572581 A, US 3572581A, US-A-3572581, US3572581 A, US3572581A
InventorsMcleod Donald H
Original AssigneeMcleod Donald H
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mailbox with multiple signal devices
US 3572581 A
Abstract  available in
Images(1)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [72] Inventor Donald H. McLeod 2508 Riverside Drive, Mobile, Ala. 36605 [21] Appl. No. 860,376 [22] Filed Sept. 23, 1969 [45] Patented Mar. 30, 1971 [54] MAILBOX WITH MULTIPLE SIGNAL DEVICES 10 Claims, 7 Drawing Figs.

[52] U.S. Cl 232/35, 232/36 [51] Int. Cl A47g 29/12 [50] Field ofSearch 232/35, 36, 37, 1, 34

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 761,938 6/1904 Bevan 232/35 1,210,562 1/1917 Taylor 232/35 1,292,050 1/1919 Raney 232/35 2,438,785 3/1948 Mc Kallick 232/35 3,294,057 12/1966 Feil 232/35 3,318,516 5/1967 Scheerer 232/35 Primary Examiner-Francis K. Zugel Attorney-Polachek & Saulsbury ABSTRACT: A rural-type mailbox has two flags pivotally mounted at opposite sides of the box. Inside the box are slidable rods engageable with spring fingers on the pivotable door of the box. The rods are operatively connected to the flags by rotatable discs for holding one flag elevated and the other flag lowered when the door is closed and the rods are engaged with the spring fingers. A switch in the box is disposed for contact by a radial extension of one disc when the other flag is raised upon opening the door. A signal device such as a lamp or bell is connected in circuit with the switch to operate when the door is opened to raise the lowered other flag.

Patented March 30, 1971 INVENTOR. Dom/d h. McLeod '1 TTURNE Y5 1 MAILBOX WITH MULTIPLE SIGNAL DEVICES This invention concerns a mailbox of the rural type having a pivotable flag to indicate the presence of mail in the box.

Generally a mailbox of the rural type has only one flag. This flag is put up when mail is to be removed or when mail has been placed in the box by a mailman. This leads to some confusion since the upright flag does not positively indicate that the mailman has visited the box to pickup and/or deliver mail. A further objection is that the mailman must raise the flag to indicate he has delivered mail. This he sometimes forgets to do. When the mailbox is a considerable distance from a rural residence it is often inconvenient for a householder to come to the mailbox if the mailman has not yet delivered any mail. Very often the mailbox is out of sight of the house to which it belongs so that the position of the signal flag is not known to the householder unless he visits the box. It has been proposed in US. Pat. No. 2,438,785 to provide a door mounted letterbox with a trap switch operated by mail being deposited in the box to actuate a remote signaling device. This only partially overcomes the objections to conventional rural mailboxes. There is still lacking any visual indication that the mailman has visited the box. Also the trap-type switch is only operable by small pieces of mail insertable through a slot in the top of the mailbox. This is not feasible for a rural mailbox which often contains large articles such as magazines, packages and the like.

The present invention overcomes the above and other difficulties and disadvantages of prior rural-type mailboxes by providing two signal flags. A first flag signals the presence of outbound mail in the box. The second flag signals that the mailman has visited the box to pickup or deliver mail. A switch in the mailbox is automatically actuated when the mailman opens the box to operate a remotely located signal device such as a lamp. At the same time the second flag is raised automatically. This provides automatically local and remote visual signals that the mailman has visited the box. Furthermore when the mailman visits the box, the first flag is automatically lowered. Thus the mailman does not have to take the time to raise or lower any one of the signal flags.

The invention is explained in further detail in connection with the drawing, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mailbox embodying the invention, with left flag shown raised and right flag lowered.

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary right side view with portions of the box broken away, the door of the box being shown closed, and with left flag raised.

FlG. 3 is a vertical cross-sectional view taken on line 3-3 of FlG. 2.

F10. 4 is a fragmentary right side view similar to FIG. 2, but with the door shown open and left flag lowered.

FlG. 5 is a fragmentary left side view of the mailbox, portions being broken away, the right flag being lowered, and door being closed; an associated electric circuit is shown schematically.

FlG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5 but with door open and right flag raised.

F 16. 7 is a fragmentary left side view similar to a portion of FIG. 6, illustrating another embodiment of the invention.

Referring to the drawing, there is shown in FlGS. l-6, a rural-type mailbox 10 with integral vertical sidewalls 12, 14 curved top wall 16, flat bottom wall 18 and closed end wall 20, defining a generally cylindrical axially horizontal container. A flat door 22 provided with a curved flange 24 at top and sides is hinged by pins 26 to lower front comers of the sidewalls I2, 14. To the extent described, the mailbox is conventional.

Now according to the invention two flags 30 and 32 are provided at opposite sides of the box. The left flag as viewed in FIGS. l and 2 is shown in a lowered position. This flag has a shaft 34 pivoting on a stub shaft 36. Centrally engaged on shaft 36 inside the box is a linkage member in the form of circular disc 38. Pivotally engaged by pin 39 near the periphery of the disc is a rod 40 slidably in guide bracket 42 on the inner side of wall 12. Spring fingers 44 are secured to the inner side of door 22 near sidewall 12 for engaging the front free end of rod 40. The body 46 of the flag extends rearwardly and is overbalanced so that when rod 40 is disengaged from fingers 44 by opening of door 22, flag 30 will turn clockwise from the position of P10. 2 to the lowered position of FIG. 3.

Another pair of spring fingers 48 are located on the inner side of door 22 near opposite wall 14. These fingers engage another rod 50 slidable in guide bracket 52 mounted on wall 14. Spring fingers engage another rod 50 slidable in guide bracket 52 mounted on wall 14. Spring fingers 44 and 48 are shown clearly in FIG. 3. The inneror rear end of rod 50 is engaged by pivot pin 53 on a linkage member in the form of a circular metal disc 54 formed with a radial extension 56. This extension has a curved camming surface 58. The radial extension 56 also serves as a counterweight for flag 32. The flag has a shaft 60 engaged on a stub shaft 62 journaled in sidewall l4 and secured to the center of disc 54. The discs 38 and 54 rotate with their respective associated flags 30, 32 and pins 57, 59 stop the flags in the lowered positions.

Located below and to the rear of disc 54 near sidewall 14 is a switch 65 best shown in FlGS. 5 and 6. This switch comprises a spring contact 66 supported by a screw 68 on an insulated block 69 secured to the bottom wall 18 by screw 70. Screw 68 also erlgages one end of an insulated wire 72 which extends out through a hple in the bottom wall 18. Another insulated wire 75 is engaged by screw 70. Wires 72 and 75 terminate at a remotely located circuit shown schematically in FIG. 5. In this circuit is a battery 82 connected in series with lamp 84, a switch 85 and both wires 72 and 75.

FIG. 5 shows door 22 closed and disc extension 56 extending horizontally away from spring contact 66. The front end of rod 50 is engaged between springfingers 48 to hold flag 32 lowered. The door is also held closed by engagement of a handle 86 on flange 24 with spring catch 88 on the front end of top wall 16. FlG. 6 shows whathappens when the mailman opens door 22. The radial extension 56 serves as a counterweight and rotates clockwise from its position in FlG. 5 to as sume the vertical position in FIG. 6. There the metal radial extension contacts spring contact 66 to close the circuit 80 and cause lamp 84 to light provided switch 85 is closed. The flag 32 assumes the vertical position shown in FlG. 6. This signals that the mailman has opened the box. The flag 32 will remain up whether the door is then closed or remains open. At the same time lamp 84 will remain lighted.

Flag 30 is used to signal the mailman that outbound mail is in the box. When the mailman opens door 22, flag 30 automatically lowers and at the same time, flag 32 is automatically raised. This condition prevails until the householder visits the box. After opening the door 22 to remove delivered mail. the householder will raise flag 30 if he places outbound mail in the box. Otherwise he will leave both flags 30 and 32 in a lowered condition. Then when the mailman visits the box again. flag 32 will rise automatically when the mailman opens door 22 to signal that he has delivered mail.

FlG. 7 shows another mailbox 10A which is similar to box 10 and corresponding parts are identically numbered. 1n mailbox 10A, a microswitch 65a is mounted on the bottom of the box by means of brackets 90. This switch is normally open as indicated by the legend N.O. on the switch. The switch has an upwardly extending spring biased operating finger 92. The switch is located under disc 54 so that finger 92 is depressed when radial extension 56 assumes vertical position. The wires 72 and 75 terminate at circuit 80 in the same manner as shown in FIG. 5. When finger 92 is depressed switch 65a is closed and lamp 84 in circuit 80 lights.

An advantage derived from the switch arrangements of both mailboxes 10 and 10A is that the lamp will light no matter who opens the door of the box. This serves as an alarm in the event an unauthorized person opens the box. A bell can be connected in parallel with lamp 84. A switch 98 in series with the bell enables deactivation of the bell. Thus at times when it is known the mailman is not due to make his rounds, the switch 98 can be closed, so that the bell will ring if an unauthorized person opens the door 22. The bell will keep ringing until the householder visits the box to reset the raised flag 32. if desired, switch 98 can be closed and switch 85 can be opened so only the bell rings.

There has thus been provided a mailbox with multiple signal means for both local and remote indications. The circuit 80 can employ a battery or may employ a low voltage source provided by a bell transformer powered by a higher voltage power supply.

lclaim:

l. A mailbox, comprising top, bottom, side and end walls defining an axially horizontal generally cylindrical container open at one end; a fiat door pivotally engaged with opposed vertical sidewalls of the container to close the open end of the container; a first flag having a shaft pivotally mounted at a first sidewall; a first rod slidably mounted inside the container at said first sidewall; first spring means on the door engageable with said first rod to hold the same in forwardly extended position; first linkage means operatively connecting said rod and shaft so that the flag is raised when the rod is engaged with said first spring means, said flag having a rearwardly extending body extending beyond said pivot means for automatically gravitationally turning and lowering the flag when the door is opened; a second flag having a second shaft pivotally mounted at a second sidewall; a second rod slidably mounted inside the container at said second sidewall; second spring means on the door engageable with said second rod to hold the same in forwardly extended position; second linkage means operatively connecting said second rod and second shaft so that the second flag is lowered when the second rod is engaged with said second spring means, said second linkage means comprising counterweight means to hold the flag raised when the door is opened to disengage the second spring means from the second rod; switch means inside the container engageable by said counterweight means when the second flag is raised; and circuit means connected to said switch means and actuated thereby when the switch means is actuated upon raising of the second flag.

2. A mailbox as defined in claim 1, wherein said circuit means comprises a power supply and an electrically operable signal device connected in series with said switch means for actuating said signal device when the door is opened to release said second rod and cause the second flag to rise.

3. A mailbox as defined in claim 1, wherein said second linkage means comprises a stub shaft rotatably supporting the second flag; a disc secured on said shaft pivotally engaging the second rod; and 'a weighted radial extension on the disc for contacting said switch means and for holding the second flag in a raised position.

4. A mailbox as defined in claim 3, wherein said circuit means comprises a power supply and an electrically operable signal device connected in series with said switch means for actuating said signal device when the door is opened to release said second rod and cause the second flag to turn and rise while the radial extension of the disc contacts said switch means.

5. A mailbox as defined in claim 4, wherein said switch means comprises a spring contact mounted by insulation means inside the container, and wires connected to said spring contact and to said container respectively and terminating at said circuit means.

6. A mailbox as defined in-claim 4 wherein said switch means comprises a nonnally open microswiteh mounted inside the container, and wires connected between said switch means and said circuit means, said microswiteh having an operating arm contactable by the radial extension of the disc for closing the switch to actual said signal device.

7. A mailbox as defined in claim 4. wherein said signal device is a lamp, and wherein said circuit means further comprises an electrically operable audible alarm connected in parallel with said lamp for sounding when said switch means is operated. v I t 8. A mailbox as defined in claim 7, further comprising individual switches connected in series with the lamp and audible alarm for selective operation when either one of the individual switches is closed.

9. A mailbox as defined in claim 5, wherein said signal device is a lamp, and wherein said circuit means further comprises an electrically operable audible alarm connected in parallel with said lamp for sounding when said switch means is operated.

10. A mailbox as defined in claim I. wherein the first linkage means eompriscs stub shaft supporting said first flag and a disc centrally secured on said stub shaft. said first rod being pivotally secured near the periphery of said disc.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US761938 *Sep 14, 1903Jun 7, 1904Eustace BevanRural free-delivery mail-box.
US1210562 *Apr 13, 1916Jan 2, 1917John W TaylorMail-box.
US1292050 *Sep 26, 1918Jan 21, 1919Henry Wayne RaneyAutomatic mail-box signal.
US2438785 *Jan 20, 1947Mar 30, 1948Mary MckallickLetter box
US3294057 *Feb 18, 1966Dec 27, 1966Feil Sam CAutomatic rural mail box flag tripper
US3318516 *Sep 16, 1966May 9, 1967Otto Scheerer ErnestRural mail boxes
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4051997 *Feb 3, 1975Oct 4, 1977James W. DonofrioMail reminder
US4113170 *Jul 25, 1977Sep 12, 1978Hunsicker Monroe TRural mailbox delivery signal
US4182479 *Oct 30, 1978Jan 8, 1980Swift Logan DMailbox signal
US4552302 *Jul 24, 1984Nov 12, 1985Rung Chester EMailbox with indicator flags
US4815656 *Jan 12, 1988Mar 28, 1989Smith David ARural mail box indicator and security lock
US4964565 *Sep 26, 1989Oct 23, 1990James WoodMailbox signalling system which is visible at night and in daylight
US5239305 *Jul 30, 1992Aug 24, 1993Colleen M. MurphyMailbox deposit indicator system
US5255843 *Sep 24, 1992Oct 26, 1993Deakyne Robert SMailbox alert apparatus
US5440294 *May 20, 1993Aug 8, 1995Mercier; Ellen L.Mail delivery signal system
US5454509 *May 2, 1994Oct 3, 1995Bellamy; Charles L.Mail box flag
US6033084 *Feb 2, 1998Mar 7, 2000Burke; June G.Retrofittable mailbox light system
US6513706Jan 25, 2002Feb 4, 2003John A. KucaMailbox apparatus
US7014097Jan 24, 2005Mar 21, 2006Gaillard Merrill JMailbox mail-delivered signal device kit
US7824082 *Aug 3, 2006Nov 2, 2010Touchstone Accent Lighting, Inc.Outdoor lighting assembly
US9517731 *Dec 10, 2014Dec 13, 2016Ford Global Technologies, LlcElectrical connector for an electronic device holder
US20040195304 *Apr 1, 2003Oct 7, 2004Kujawa Paul D.Locking mailbox
US20060255115 *Apr 17, 2006Nov 16, 2006Paul KujawaSecure mailbox system
US20070029459 *Aug 3, 2006Feb 8, 2007Mark HansonOutdoor lighting assembly
Classifications
U.S. Classification232/35, 232/36
International ClassificationA47G29/00, A47G29/122
Cooperative ClassificationA47G29/1212
European ClassificationA47G29/12R2E