US 3593914 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  Filed  Patented Nov. 20, 1969 July 20, 1971  RETRACTABLE MAILBOX AS1EMEILY 24 Claims, 19 Drawing 1? igs.
 U.S. Cl 232/17, 232/45, 52/169  Int. Cl A47g 29/112  Field of Search 232/17, 1, 39,45;52/111,297,121,115, 169
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 592,190 10/1897 Bond 52/169 X 817,076 4/1906 Lehrman 232/1 R 1,129,382 2/1915 Delonais 232/17 2,189,486 2/1940 DAmico. 52/169 X 2,624,307 1/1953 Catfrey.... 52/169 X 2,693,620 11/1954 Berman... 52/111 X 2,792,794 5/1957 Mi1ler 52/169X 2,819,547 1/1958 Clements 52/111 X 3,021,996 2/1962 Ranney 232/39 3,212,105 10/1965 Baker... 52/169 X 3,214,156 10/1965 Klose 52/169 X Primary Examiner-Francis K. Zugel Atlorney-Miketta, Glenny, Poms & Smith ABSTRACT: A retractable mailbox assembly includes an open-topped casing recessed into the ground adjacent the curb, an open upper-ended hollow housing mounted within and to the casing, with a housing sleeve assembly therein mounting a supporting pedestal vertically movable between a lower or retracted position completely within the housing with the upper end thereof flush with the top ofthe housing and the surrounding surface area, and a raised or operative position extending upwardly to a selected height above the ground level where postal delivery may be made into a receptacle carried by the pedestal adjacent the upper end thereof. The receptacle pivots through an angle of 90 between closed and open positions during the travel of the pedestal adjacent its raised position. Moving means is provided for the pedestal including drive means with an electric motor and sprockets, driven means with chains, sprockets, and counterweights, and pivoting means with gears, chains, and springs to move the pedestal and the receptacle between the two positions. Keycontrolled switch means in a control post are provided to selectively operate the moving means. Vent means is provided to supply air from the control post into the interior of the housing during movement of the pedestal between its two positions, and the vent means includes flapper valves and piston rings enabling the moving pedestal to force air out of a restricted opening between the moving pedestal and the housing in order to blow out any foreign material therein. Heating means including a housing heater, a top heater, and intake air heaters are provided to prevent the assembly from freezing during cold weather. Drainage means including gutters, a settling tank, a standpipe, a pump, and a flushing pipe are provided to clean out the drainage means and to exhaust the excess water therein into the ground. Service means is provided to facilitate periodic maintenance of the assembly.
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.N. 2% WWW m m an f M RETRACTABLE MAILBOX ASSEMBLY BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to mailboxes and more particularly to a curbside mailbox which is normally retracted into the ground and which rises vertically to a height above the ground to receive or deliver mail.
Curbside and roadside mailboxes have long been used in suburban and rural areas, with few if any changes in design over the years. This design basically includes the familiar box with a rounded top and a hinged front door mounted on the upper end of a post anchored in the ground. The box is required to have a pivoting flag thereon which is for signaling that there is mail to be picked up.
The mail is inserted into the box by manually opening the front door, and the flag is then raised to indicate the presence of mail to be picked up. The mailman upon seeing the raised flag stops, opens the door, removes the outgoing mail, and inserts the mail being delivered. The mailman then lowers the flag to indicate that the mail has been picked up. The delivered mail then remains in the box until it is picked up, if it has not been stolen or damaged by the elements in the meantime.
Curbside mailboxes in the past have made only meager provisions to prevent theft of the mail or to protect the mail therein against the elements. The curbside mailbox also presents a traffic hazard to vehicles whose operators misjudge the location of the curb such as during parking, etc., which may not only cause damage to the vehicle but also knock down the mailbox and damage the mail therein. Freezing weather also makes the door of the familiar curbside mailbox difficult to open or close. Curbside mailboxes also have an ugly utilitarian design which is incongruous with the elaborate and stylish designs of many rural and suburban homes.
Therefore, it is an object of this invention to provide a novel curbside mailbox which retracts into the ground between periods of use. Other objects of this invention are to provide such a device which is power operated by moving means under the control of control means selectively operable only with a key thereby preventing tampering or theft of the mail therein; to provide a control post immediately adjacent the mailbox proper for housing at least part of the control means, to provide a pedestal movable between raised and lowered positions and containing a mail-receiving receptacle pivotable between closed and open positions; to provide a housing recessed into a casing below grade for receiving the pedestal and receptacle; to provide a removable housing sleeve assembly mounting the pedestal and moving means and mounted in the housing; to provide ventilating mews for the housing which ventilates the interior of the housing through the control post as the pedestal moves between the positions; to provide valve means in the pedestal which pressurizes air to blow the air out of the opening between the housing and the pedestal when the pedestal moves between raised and lowered positions; to provide heating means which maintains the housing, the pedestal, and the control post in operable condition during cold weather; to provide drainage means to exhaust any water that might enter the retractable mailbox that is not required to clean the drainage means; and to provide easy servicing of such a retractable mailbox assembly.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Generally the retractable mailbox assembly according to this invention includes an open-ended hollow housing recessed into the ground with the outer upper end thereof flush with the surrounding surface and containing a supporting pedestal movable between a retracted position with the outer end thereof flush with the surrounding area and closing the opening in the housing, and an extended position projecting out of the housing with a mail-receiving receptacle in a mailreceiving position. Moving means are provided to move the pedestal and the receptacle between the two positions and control means are provided to selectively control the moving means. Ventilating means are provided to ventilate the interior of the housing when the pedestal moves between the two positions and drainage means are provided to dissipate any water that might flow into the housing which is not required by the drainage means to clean itself. Service means are also provided to facilitate ease and servicing the retractable mailbox assembly.
In the preferred embodiment, the retractable mailbox assembly is mounted in the ground with the pedestal thereof movable between a raised and lowered position.
These and other features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description and drawings of a preferred embodiment.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a perspective view showing the appearance of a mailbox embodying the present invention when fully retracted, as fragmentarily indicated in dotted outline, together with the adjacent stationary control post.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the mailbox assembly show' ing the pedestal in its raised or operative position and the receptacle in its open or operative position.
FIG. 3 is a vertical sectional view of the mailbox assembly showing the pedestal in its lower position within the housing mounted in a casing, and showing the lowermost portion of the control post and post base.
FIG. 4 is a vertical sectional view taken on the plane IVIV of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a side elevational view, partially in section, taken from the left side of FIG. 2, showing the pedestal in its raised position and the receptacle in its open position.
FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5 but looking in the opposite direction.
FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view of the portion circled at VII in FIG. 3 showing the upper end of the housing sleeve assembly.
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary sectional view on an enlarged scale taken along the plane VIII-VIII of FIG. 3, showing the flapper valve.
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary sectional view on an enlarged scale taken along the plane lX-IX of FIG. 3, showing parts of the casing, housing and pedestal.
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary sectional view on an enlarged scale taken along the plane X-X of FIG. 3, showing the conduit between the control post and housing at the junction box.
FIG. ll is a fragmentary sectional view on an enlarged scale taken along the plane XL-XI of FIG. 5, showing part of the receptacle and the left-side pivot means.
FIG. 12 is a sectional view on an enlarged scale taken along the plane XII-XII of FIG. 5 showing the drawbar and catch bar.
FIG. 13 is a side elevational view, partially in section, showing the control post.
FIG. 14 is a sectional view on an enlarged scale taken on the plane XIVXIV of FIG. 3, showing the drive means and part of the driven means.
FIG. 15 is an enlarged perspective view showing in dotted outline, the major elements of the water drainage means.
FIG. 16 is a vertical sectional view of the lower portion of the device as seen in FIG. 3, partially showing the pedestal raised above its lowermost position.
FIG. 17 is a sectional view taken along the plane XVII XVII of FIG. 16 showing the right side of the drainage means.
FIG. 18 is a sectional view taken along the plane XVIII- XVIII of FIG. 16 showing the lower gutter and sump.
FIG. I9 is a schematic circuit diagram of the major electrical components of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to FIG. 1, a portion ofa typical street scene is shown including ground with grass growing thereon, a sidewalk 11 extending to a curb 12 which defines the edge of a street 13. The sidewalk 11 has a hole I4 with a rock bottom 15 into which is inserted a retracting mailbox assembly 16 according to the present invention.
The preferred embodiment of the retracting mailbox assembly 16 generally includes a hollow outer container or casing 20 sunk into the hole 14 in the ground I0, a hollow housing mounted to and within the casing 20, a control post base 40 mounted to the housing 30 and mounting a control post 50,.extending above the ground 10 and the sidewalk II adjacent the housing 30. A removable housing sleeve assembly 65 is inserted within the housing 30. The housing sleeve assembly 65 mounts a movable support or pedestal 90 for movement between a lowered position as shown in FIG. 1 and a raised position as shown in FIG. 2. The pedestal 90 has therein an open-ended, mail-receiving box or receptacle Itli) pivoting between a closed position as shown in FIG. 4, and an open position as shown in FIGS. 2, 5, and 6 when the pedestal 90 is adjacent the raised position.
Moving means 115 are provided for moving both the pedestal 90 and the receptacle 100 between the two positions, and control means 180 are provided to selectively control the moving means 115. The moving means 115 includes a drive means 120 to provide power, and a driven means 140 to translate this power into vertical movement of the pedestal 90 between raised and lowered positions, and a pivoting means 160 to translate this power into pivoting motion of the receptacle 100 between closed and open positions. At least part of the control means 180 is mounted in the head of the control post 50 to be operated by the mailman or the owner.
The retracting mailbox assembly 16 also includes ventilating means 200 to selectively ventilate the interior of the housing 30, heating means 220 to maintain the interior of the housing 30, the control post base 40 and the control post 50 frost free and operating during cold weather, and drainage means 240 for collecting any water that might leak into the retracting mailbox assembly 16, cleaning the drainage means therewith, and dissipating into the ground 10 any excess water therein. While the features of this invention are shown being used in a mailbox application, these features have applicability in other extending pedestal applications and such use in other applications is within the scope of the present invention.
As seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, the hollow outer container or casing 20 of the preferred embodiment has generally straight sides and a flat bottom with a central bottom opening 21 containing a perforated grating therein adjacent the lower edge thereof. The casing 20 has an opposed pair of pump pipes 23, seen in FIG. 3, running from above the top edge of the casing 20 down between the interior and exterior sides thereof to the bottom and laterally through the bottom into the opening 2i above the grating 22. The pump pipes 23 provide passages to the bottom of the casing 20 to pump water from the bottom of the casing 20 and any ground water that might rise therein through the opening 21.
As seen in FIG. 9, the casing 20 also has a threaded stud 24 at each of the rounded corners of the upper surface with the threaded ends thereof projecting upwardly. The casing 2% may desirably be preformed prior to insertion into the hole l4 and could be so formed out of any suitable material, such as being precast of concrete. The casing 20 is inserted into the hole, and rests on thc rock bottom 15 with the upper end of the casing 20 below the surface of the ground 10. After insertion, the hole 14 is partially filled around the casing 20 to anchor the casing 20 within the hole 14, whereby the casing 20 can provide a uniformly sized opening and mounting structure for the housing 30.
The housing 30 is here shown as having an open upper top, and vertical interior and exterior sidewalls and a bottom. The
sidewalls are connected by reinforcing ribs with insulation to fill the space therebetween. The housing 30 is actually made up of individual sections including a top section 31, middle sections 32, and a bottom section 33. The top section 31 has a lower apertured flange, the middle sections 32 have upper and lower apertured flanges and the bottom section 33 has an upper apertured flange. The adjacent flanges of the sections 31, 32, and 33 are bolted together to connect the sections 31, 32, and 33 to form the housing 30. The exterior shape of the apertured flanges is slightly smaller than the interior of the casing 20, enabling the housing 30 to be slid therein. A plate 34 with apertured ears 35 is inserted between the bottom flange of the top section 3ll and the upper flange of the upper middle section 32. As shown in FIG. 9, the apertured cars 35 of the plate 34 are larger than the interior of the casing 20 to be supported on the top of the casing 20 and be bolted thereto by studs 24.
As seen in FIG. 3 and I0, the control post base 40 is bolted through flanges to the top section 31 of the hollow housing 30. The control post base 40 is hollow and extends from an opening 41 in the housing 30 outwardly and downwardly, and then upwardly to the surface of the sidewalk 11. As best seen in FIG. 13, the control post base extends upwardly almost to the surface of sidewalk H with an annular ring 42 bolted by breakaway bolts 43 to the upper side thereof to form an annular channel 44 around the ring 42 between the sides thereof and the sidewalk 11.
As seen in FIGS. 1 and 13, the control post 50 mounts on the control post base 40 and includes a head portion 51, a tubular middle portion 52 and a flared lower portion 53.
The tubular middle portion 52 extends into the opening of the control post base 40, and the flared lower portion 53 extends into the annular channel 44 with its lower end and engages the tubular middle portion 52 with its upper end, to mount the control post 50 to the control post base 40. The tubular middle portion 52 extends upwardly therefrom and mounts the head portion 51 on its upper end.
As best seen in FIG. 13, the head portion 51 includes a mounting head 54 clamped on the upper end of the tubular middle portion 52, a flanged ring 55 secured by machine screws to the mounting head 54, a hollow bubble-shaped top 56 with an upper plate 57 secured thereto by machine screws and a boss on which is pivotally mounted a flag 58 for movement between raised and lowered positions. The mounting head 54 also includes one or more grill posts 61 which snap between a ring mounted around the tubular middle portion 52, and the bottom part of flanged ring 55.
The control post 50 is not firmly attached to the control post base 40 but rather is loosely attached to provide for separation of the post 50 from the base 40 should the post 50 be hit by a car in order to prevent injury to the base 40. It will be understood that replacement or repair of the base would be more difficult and expensive than repair of the post.
The removable housing sleeve assembly 65 according to the preferred embodiment is intended for insertion into the housing 30, and includes an open upper end 70, a middle sleeve 75, and a bottommounting structure 80. As best seen in FIGS. 3, 4, and 7, the upper end has an annular top with a generally rectangular interior opening, an apertured outer flange 71 which rests on the upper end of the housing 30; depending exterior walls 72 which mate with the interior of the housing 30; vertical interior end walls 73; and downwardly outwardly sloping interior sidewalls 74 joined to the exterior walls 72 by reinforcing ribs with insulation inserted in the space therebetween.
The middle sleeve 75 has an upper flange 76 which is bolted to the bottom side of the upper end 70, and an inner wall 77 which extends downwardly from the upper flange. Inner wall 77, as seen in FIG. 9, is spaced from the interior of housing 30 by ribs 78 to form opening between the middle sleeve 75 and the interior wall of the hollow housing 30. The interior of the inner wall 77 is smooth and terminates in an outwardly extending lower apertured flange 79.
The bottom-mounting structure 80 bolts to the apertured flange 79 and contains a lower plate 81 attached by gussets 82 to an upper plate 83 for mounting the drive means 121i and the drainage means 2411, as will be later explained.
The housing sleeve assembly 65 is inserted completely into housing with the apertured flange 71 of the upper end 719 resting on the upper end of the housing 311 to prevent downward movement of the sleeve assembly 65'. secure the apertured flange 71 to the upper end ofthe housing 311 and are covered by a generally rectangular cover 85 which is, as shown in FIG. 1, flush with the upper surface of the sidewalk 11. Cover 85 forms with the interior sidewalls as a generally rectangular central opening 87 therein. The interior sidewalls 86 continue down as part of the interior of the upper end i'tl of the housing sleeve assembly 65.
The movable support or pedestal 90 is shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The pedestal 90 has a rectangular upper end 91 which is just slightly smaller than the rectangular central opcning 87 in cover 85 and in the upper end 711 of the sleeve assembly 65. Vertical sidewalls 92 extend downwardly from the edges of the rectangular upper end 91 and maintain the same exterior shape as the rectangular upper end 91 until the sidewalls 92 end at a flared bottom 93. The flared bottom 93 is larger than the opening in the annular cover the upper end 70 of the sleeve assembly 65, and is of mating size and shape with the interior of the middle sleeve 75 as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. The flared bottom 93 has exterior ribs 9 1 and guide pads 95 which engage the inner surface of the inner wall 77 of the middle sleeve 75 for guiding the flared bottom 93 while the sidewalls 92 engage the interior sidewalls tlti of the annular cover 85 and upper end 70 for guiding the rectangular upper end 91. The movable support or pedestal 911 is positioned within the housing sleeve assembly 65 and in the housing 30 to move relative thereto and be guided by the sleeve assembly 65 between a lowered position shown in FIGS. 1, 3, and 4, and a raised position shown in FIGS. 2, 5, and 6. When the pedestal 90 is in the lowered position, a seal ring 96 around the sidewalls 92, adjacent the upper end 91, engages the interior sidewalls 86 around the opening in the upper end 70 to seal the interior of the sleeve assembly 65 and the housing 30 against foreign materials and the upper end 91 is flush with surrounding surface area. Movement of the pedestal 911 from the lowered position, moves the seal ring 96 upwardly to push foreign material out of gap between upper end of the pedestal 911 and the housing 311. As the pedestal 9b is moved between the two positions, its path is guided by the engagement of the interior sidewalls 87 of the upper end 711 of the sleeve assembly 65 with the sidewalls 92 of the pedestal 911 and by the engagement of the guide pads 95 and the exterior ribs 94 of the flared bottom 93 with the inner wall 77' of the middle sleeve 75 of the sleeve assembly '35. W hen the pedestal 90 is in the raised position, the above-described engagement locates the rectangular upper end 91 directly above the opening 86 in the annular cover 35.
The pedestal 90 also has, adjacent the upper end 91, a rectangular opening 97 through two opposed sidewalls 92 with a removable cover plate 98 covering openings in the other opposite sidewalls 92 of the pedestal 911.
As seen in FIGS. 2, 5, and 6, the mail-receiving box or receptacle 180 has an open end 191, walls 1 5. 2, and an areuate bottom 103 with a central drain opening 11% therein.
Centrally located in the sides 102 of the receptacle will is a hole through which, as seen in FIG. 11, a fitting 195 is inserted. The fitting 105 has a flanged inner end mounting to the end wall 102, an outwardly directed cylindrical boss 1116 with a square end 107. The receptacle ltltl mounts via the cylindrical bosses 106, within the opening 97 of the pedestal 911 for pivotal movement between a vertical closed position wherein the open end 101 is directly upwardly, beneath the upper end 9] to be closed thereby, and the walls 1112 are coincident with the sidewalls 92 and a horizontal open position, wherein the open end 101 extends outwardly from the pedestal 911 to receive the mail. The receptacle 100 is provided with suitable stops 108 engaging the receptacle in the closed position and the pivoting means let) in the open position for halting the pivotal movement of the receptacle 1011 once either the closed or open position is reached.
The moving means is provided for moving the pedestal 911 between raised and iowcred positions, and pivoting the receptacle 1110 between open and closed positions. In the exemplary embodiment, the moving means includes drive means 121), driven means 141), and pivoting means 160.
As best seen in FIG. 14, the exemplary drive means includes a reversible electric motor 121 mounted to the lower plate 111 of the mounting structure 80. The electric motor 121 drives a reduction gear unit 122, also mounted to the lower plate 151, with an output shaft 123 having one-half of a flexible coupling 124 on the outer end thereof. The other end of the flexible coupling 124 is on one of a pair of parallel shafts I25 rotatably mounted in housing 126 also secured to the lower plate 51. The shafts are interconnected by spur gears 127 and have aligned chain drive sprockets 128 thereon.
An outboard housing 129 is mounted to the outside of each gusset 82 of the mounting structure 80, and each has a rotatable shaft 130 on which a driven sprocket 131 is mounted. The sprockets 131 are aligned with the drive sprockets 128 and a continuous chain extends around corresponding drive and driven sprockets 125i and 131.
When the reversible motor 121 is energized, the reduction gear unit 122 drives the output shaft 123 in turn driving both shafts 125 and the chain sprockets 128 to drive the outboard sprockets 131 and the rotatable shafts 130.
As best seen in FIGS. 3, 7, and 9, the exemplary driven means 1411 includes a pair of flexible cords 141 attached by eyelets 142 to opposite sides of the flared bottom 93 of the pedestal 90. The flexible cords 141 extend upwardly from the flared bottom 93 between the walls 92 of the pedestal 90 and the inner walls 77 of the sleeve assembly 65 until they pass over pulley units 143 (see FIG. 7) in the upper end 70 of the sleeve assembly 65. The flexible cords 141 then extend downwardly between the housing 30 and the sleeve assembly 65 until they are attached by rings 1414 to counterweights 145. (See FIGS. 3 and 7). The lower end of the eounterweights 145 have lugs 146 which attach to ends of flexible chains 147 extending downwardly therefrom into the bottom-mounting structure 811 of the sleeve assembly 65. As seen in FIG. 14 the chains 1 17 pass around drive sprockets 1 1b attached to rotatable shafts as seen in FIG. 3, the chains 147 extend upwardly from the sprockets 148, through bottom 93 of the pedestal 90. The chains 147 pass around idler rollers 149 mounted within the pedestal 90 by brackets 1511. The chains 147 extend horizontally from the idler rollers 149 toward each other and are attached to opposite ends 151 of a slack takeup spring 152.
As previously explained, energizing of the reversible electric motor 121 turns driven sprockets 131, turning shaft 130, and drive sprockets 148 to pull downwardly on the counterweights 145 via the chains 14'], in order to raise the pedestal 911 via the flexible cords 141 from its lowered position shown in FIG. 3 to its raised position shown in FIG. 2. When the reversible electric motor 121 is energized oppositely, the sprockets 148 rotate oppositely to pull on the chains M7 oppositely, and pull on the idler sprockets 149, the brackets 150 and the slack takeup spring 152, all mounted in the flared bottom 93 of the pedestal 90 to pull the pedestal 90 from the raised position of FIG. 2 to the lowered position of FIG. 3. The movement of the pedestal 911 from the raised position to the lowered position pulls on the flexible cords 141 to raise the counterweights M5 and the counterweight end of the chains 1417' to complete the counterbalanced closed loop of the driven means M19.
As the upwardly moving pedestal 90 approaches the raised position of FIG. 2, the receptacle 100 is pivoted from the closed position to the open position of FIG. 2 by the pivoting means 1611. In the exemplary embodiment the pivoting means 160, as seen in FIGS. 4, 5, 6, and 11, includes a toothed gear sector 161 with a square central opening which mates onto each of the square ends 107 of the pivot fittings 105 on the receptacle100. As shown in FIG. 5, the left tooth gear sector 161 intermeshes with a gear and sprocket set 162, while as shown in FIG. 6 the right tooth gear sector 161 intermeshes with an idler gear 163, in mm; intermeshing with a gear and sprocket set 164, quite similar to gear and sprocket set 162.
One end of chains 165 is mounted by takeup springs 166 in opposite lower corners of the pedestal 90, with the chains 165 extending over the sprockets of the gear and sprocket sets 162 and 164 oppositely to extend downwardly, ending in eyelets 167 which are attached to the ends of a drawbar 168.
As best seen in FIG. 12 the drawbar 168 extends diagonally between oppositecorners of the pedestal 90 and has .a ccntrally located opening therethrough. As shown schematically in FIGS. and 6, the spring 169 has one end through the opening in the drawbar 168 and the other end through an eyed rod end 170 on the upper end of rod 171. The lower end of rod 171 is attached to a catch bar 172. As seen in FIG. 4 and 12, the ends of the catch bar 172 extend out of the pedestal 90 through slots 173 but not so far as to engage the walls of the housing sleeve assembly 65. The catch bar 172 is movable in slots 173 between raised and lowered positions, and is biased to the raised position by the takeup springs 166 which simultaneously bias the receptacle 100 to the closed position.
A pair of angle catch members 174 are mounted in vertical slots in the inner walls 77 of the housing sleeve assembly 65 adjacent the upper end thereof. The position of the catch members 174 in the slots is variable but aligned with the path of the catch bar ends as the catch bar 172 moves with the pedestal 90. The catch member 174 protrudes into the open-,
ing between the inner wall 77 of the housing sleeve assembly 65 and the vertical sidewalls 92 of the pedestal 90 to be engaged by the ends of the catch bar 172 as the ends move with the pedestal 90. 7
When the pedestal 90 is raised from the lowered position as was previously explained, the catch bar 172 is maintained in the upper position by the springs 166 until the ends of the catch bar 172 engage the catch members 174 which halts the upward movement of the catch bar 172 while the pedestal 90 continues upwardly. The continued upward movement causes a relative motion between the pedestal 90 and the catch bar 172, the rod 171, the end 170, the spring 169, and the drawbar 168 which in turn pulls on the chains 165 against the springs 166. The movement of the chains 165 rotates the gear and sprocket sets 162 and 164 to in turn rotate the idler gear 163 and pivot the toothed gear sectors 161, moving the receptacle 100 from the closed to the open position, against the stops 108.
Downward movement of the pedestal 90 allows the catch bar 174 to move relative to the pedestal 90 and enables the takeup springs 166 to move the chains 165 and oppositely pivot the gear and-sprocket sets 162 and 164, the idler gear 163 and the toothed gear sector 161 to move the receptacle 100 from the open position to the closed position, against stops 108.
The variable positioning of the catch bar members 174 in the slots permits the accommodation of different heights of rise in the pedestal 90 and still operate the receptacle 100 fully. The spring 169 allows the pedestal 90 to continue upward movement towards the raised position after the receptacle 100 is in the open position against stops 108. 1
In the control post head 51 there are provided means indicated generally at 180 for controlling the movement of the pedestal between its lowered and raised positions. As best seen in FIG. 13, control means 180 includes a first switch 181 selectively operated by a master key by the mailman only, and a second switch 182 selectively operated by an individual owners key. Power and control wiring extends from the head 51 to the housing 30 via the post base 40 through conduit 183. Additional wiring 185 may be provided to supply electric power from the home to the present device, and to energize a pilot light in the home, as will be later described.
As best seen in FIG. 10, a junction box 186 is made up of two mating halves with the lower half connected to the wires from the switches 181 and 182, and the upper half connected to wires extending therefrom through conduit within the housing 30 to the heating means and to a relay box 187 and thence to the electric motor 121.
Means are provided for limiting the vertical movement of the pedestal between its retracted or inoperative position and its raised or operative position. Such means are shown in FIG.
3 taking the form of limit switches in the electrical circuitry to be later described, desirably normally closed microswitches. As shown in FIG. 3, the switches are most conveniently shown as operated by the arrival of one of the counterweights at its limit of vertical movement. Thus, in the upper portion of FIG. 3 there is shown such a microswitch 189, and in the lower portion of FIG. 3 a second microswitch 188. In the subsequent cxplanation of the electrical circuitry, since it is the movement of the pedestal which is the fundamental purpose of the present invention, microswitch 188 will be referred to as the -upper" limit switch, while microswitch 189 will be referred to as the lower" limit switch. It may be noted that the upper limit switch 188 is desirably vertically adjustable in its mounting on the housing, so that the user can select a desired maximum height to which the pedestal may rise during use.
' FIG. 19 shows the major components of the electrical circuitry for controlling the operation of motor 121 and pilot lights 191 and 192. In order to simplify the circuitry the thermostatically controlled heating means have been omitted, since they are well known and their details form no part of the present invention. The components, including the several switches, as shown in FIG. 19 are in their positions cor responding to retracted or inoperative position of the pedestal, withdrawn downwardly into the casing, and with the lower limit switch 189 open.
The circuit is fed from a suitable source of power 300, which may be a conventional I20-volt AC source. One side of the power source may be grounded at-301; The other side may feed through a conventional circuit breaker 302 to a supply buss 304 and thence to common terminals 310 and 312 of switches 181 and 182 respectively. It will be recalled that these two switches are actuated, under the control of keys, by the mailman and the home owner respectively. Switch 181 is a single-pole, double-throw switch wherein the blade 316, in the rest position shown in FIG. 19, is in contact with terminal 317, the other terminal of the switch being indicated at 318.
Switch 182 is a double-pole, double-throw switch with the common terminal 312 connectable through blade 320 to output terminals 321 or 322, the latter being dead. A second blade 324 is connected to a common terminal 325 and may make contact, selectively, with output terminals 326 or 327. Its common terminal 325 is connected to output terminal 317 ofswitch 181.
The upper and lower limit switches previously referred to are here shown at 188 and 189 respectively. Each of these is normally closed, but is opened by the arrival of the counterweight at positions corresponding to the arrival of the pedestal at its upper or its lower limit of vertical movement respectively. It will be noted in FIG. 19 that lower limit switch 189 is shown open, corresponding to the assumed position of the pedestal in its fully retracted position. As a practical matter, the limit switches must be located slightly ahead of the final position of the counterweight as the pedestal will coast due to its momentum a distance past the opening of the switches 188 and 189.
The circuitry of FIG. 19 includes control means for energizing one or more pilot lights 191 and 192, which may be located as desired; preferably one such pilot light is in the control post and is here indicated at 191, while the other pilot light l92 may advantageously be located inside the home of the owner. illumination of the pilot lights is an indication that the most recent actuation of the pedestal has been by the mailman, and that consequently there may be incoming mail in the receptacle. The pilot lights are extinguished by actuation of the pedestal by the switch under the control of the key of the homeowner, as will be described below. i
The pilot lights are under the control of relay means in dicated generally at 330, including a latching relay. More specifically, relay means 330 includes a first relay having a winding 332 actuating a normally open switch 333, and a latching relay including a winding 334 actuating a normally open switch 335. One end of each of the windings 332 and 334 is grounded as indicated, and the other end of winding 332 is connected to the output terminal 340 of upper limit switch 188. The other end of winding 334 of the latching relay is connected to the common terminal 342 of the two switches 333 and 335 and, through lead 344, to the pilot lights 1% and 192, the other sides of the pilot lights being grounded as indicated.
Means are provided in accordance with the present invention for controlling the direction of rotation of reversible motor 121, which in the present illustrative embodiment of the invention is assumed to be a series motor, including an armature 350 and a winding 352. The circuitry for controlling thedirection of rotation of the motor includes a down relay indicated generally at 360 and an up relay indicated generally at 362.
Down relay 360 includes a winding 364 which may be energized through line 365 from the output terminal 366 of normally closed lower limit switch 189. Down relay 360 further includes a doublepole, single-throw switch having blades 367 and 368, the switches of relay 360 being normally open as shown.
Up relay 362 includes a winding 370 which may be energized throughlead 371 connected to output terminal 340 of upper limit switch 188. Relay 362 also includes a normally open double-pole, singlethrow switch including blades 3'72 and 373.
Each of the relay switches 360 and 362 includes a hot terminal 380 and 382 respectively, energized from bus 304 through conductor 383, which may include a conventional fuse 384. The lower switches of relays 360 and 362 include terminals 386 and 387 connected as shown through line 388 to one terminal of armature 350, the other side of the armature being grounded as indicated.
The interconnections between down relay 360 and up relay 362 constitute means in accordance with the present invention for reversing the polarity of current flowing in the winding 352 of motor 121 relative to the polarity of current flowing in the armature 350 of that motor. Such reversal of relative polarity of current flow will be readily understood to cause rotation of motor 121 in one direction or the opposite direction. For convenience of terminology, it will be assumed that forward" direction of rotation of motor 121 corresponds to raising of the pedestal of the present invention, while reverse rotation of the motor corresponds to lowering or retracting movement of the pedestal.
A typical sequence in the use of the present invention includes (l) raising of the pedestal by the mailman in order to deposit incoming mail in the receptacle; (2) lowering of the pedestal by the mailman; (3) subsequent raising of the pedestal by the homeowner to collect the incoming mail; and (4) lowering of the pedestal by the homeowner, the receptacle then either being empty or containing outgoing mail. in the latter event, as will be readily understood, the homeowner manually raises the red flag on the control post, as an indication to the mailman that outgoing mail awaits pickup.
More specifically, in step (I), noted above, the mailman actuates switch 181 so that blade 316 thereof makes contact with terminal 318 thereby energizing line 371 through normally closed upper limit switch 188. Thus the winding 370 of up relay 362 is energized, thereby closing the two ganged switches of that relay and connecting the motor winding 352 in series with the motor armature 350 in a selected polarity across the powerline 383 and ground.
Concurrently with the actuation of the up relay 362, the pilot light control relay 330 is energized by power flowing in the winding 332, thereby closing switch 333. Power is thus supplied not only to the pilot 191 and 192, but also to the winding 334 of the latching relay, thereby closing blade 335. it will be observed that in the homeowner's switch 182, blade 320 is in its rest position, making contact with terminal 321 and thereby supplying power from buss 304 to pilot-control relay 330.
Arrival of the counterweight in its position corresponding to the arrival of the pedestal in its extreme raised position will serve to open the upper limit switch 188, thus removing power from the winding 370 of up relay 362. This deenergizes motor 121, and simultaneously removes power from the winding 322 of the pilot light control relay 330. lt will be noted that latching relay winding 334 remains energized, so blade 335 is closed and the pilot lights remain lit.
In the second step of the sequence of operations, the mail man returns switch 181 to its rest or open position, wherein blade 316 of that switch no longer makes contact with terminal 318, but does energize terminal 317, and thereby common terminal 325 of the homeowners switch 182. Under these conditions, keeping in mind that the lower limit switch 189 is now closed, it will be seen that power is supplied to the winding 364 of down relay 360, thereby supplying power to the winding 352 of the motor 121 in the opposite sense relative to power-energizing armature 350 from that causing forward rotation. Otherwise stated, the motor 121 will be energized in the reverse direction, thereby retracting the pedestal into its retracted or inoperative position, and being dcenergized by the opening of lower limit switch 189 at that point.
Subsequently, the homeowner may raise the pedestal to remove the incoming mail therefrom by actuation of his switch 182. As will be seen, blade 324 of switch 182 then makes contact with terminal 327, thereby energizing line 371 through the normally closed upperlimit switch 188, causing the motor 121 to raise the pedestal until the pedestal is in its uppermost position and has caused upper limit switch 188 to open. Simultaneously, it will be observed that blade 320 of the homeowners switch 182 is moved away from contact with terminal 321 into contact with dead terminal 322, thereby removing power from the latching relay winding 334 and thus extinguishing the pilot lights 191 and 192.
After removing the incoming mail and depositing in the receptacle any outgoing mail, the homeowner then returns his switch 182 to its normal or rest position. Under those conditions, blade 324, whose common terminal 325 is connected to output terminal 317 of the inailman's switch, supplies power through the normally closed lower limit switch 189 to line 365, thereby energizing the winding 364 of down relay 360.
As described previously, this causes reverse rotation of motor 1211, thereby retracting the pedestal into its withdrawn or inoperative position'and completing the cycle of operation.
The retractable mailbox assembly of the present invention includes a vent means 200 for supplying air to the interior of the housing 30. The path of airflow includes openings 201 through the control post grill 59, which communicate with U- shaped air guides 202 in the flanged ring 55 and the mounting head 54 of the control post 50 to guide the air down through the tubular middle portion 52. The flow path continues down through hollow post base 40 into an S-shaped temperature lock 203 which directs the air upwardly and then back downwardly as the the air enters the housing 30. An air guide 204 in the housing 30 directs the air towards one corner of the housing 30, where the air passes down an air channel 205 to below the bottom-mounting structure 80. The bottom-mounting structure contains an air opening 206 therein which conducts the air into the space in the housing 30 below the flared bottom 93 of the pedestal 90.
The vent means 200 also have valve means 210 which, as seen in FIGS. 3 and 8, includes flapper valves 211 mounted over openings 212 in the interior of the pedestal and communicating to the exterior thereof. The pedestal 90 also has piston rings 213 around the flared bottom 93 to seal the opening between the sides of the flared bottom 93 and the inner walls 77 of the housing sleeve assembly 65.
As the pedestal 90 moves from the lower position shown in FIG 3 to its raised position shown in FlG. 2, the air between the inner walls 77 and the sidewalls 92 is trapped above the flared bottom 93 by the closed flapper valves 211 to pressurize the air therein so that the air will rush out of the opening between the interior sidewalls 86 of the cover 85 and the sidewall 92 of the pedestal 90, this serves to blow out any foreign material that might have collected therein while the pedestal 90 was in the lowered position. Makeup air is supplied below the flared bottom 93 through the openings 201 through the passages in the control post 50 and post base 40, through the channels 204 and 205 in the housing 30, and through the air opening 206 in the bottom mounting structure 80.
During movement of pedestal 90 from the raised position shown in FIG. 2 to the lowered position shown in FIG. 3, the air below the flared bottom 93 is pressurized and thereby pushed out through the openings 201 in the control post 50. The pressure also serves to open the flapper valves 211 so air passes through the openings 212 into the space between the pedestal 90, sidewalls 92, and the inner walls 77 of the housing sleeve assembly 65 and is rapidly expelled through the opening between the interior sidewalls 86 of the cover 85 and the sidewalls 92. This rush of air prevents downward movement of the pedestal 90 from drawing foreign material into the housing 30.
Thermostatically controlled heating means may be provided for preventing the interior of the housing from becoming too cold, if weather conditions so require. In the present form of the invention heating means 220 includes a housing heater means 221 in the form of a heater wire 222 coiled about the exterior of the inner wall 77 of the housing sleeve assembly 65. The housing heater means 221 also includes a housing thermostat 223 mounted on top of the relay box 187. The housing thermostat 223 actuates the wire heater 222 whenever the interior temperature of the housing 30 drops below a selected temperature such as 40.
The heating means 220 also includes a top heater means which as best seen in FIGS. 3, 4, and 7 includes a pair of top heaters 226 and 227 and a pair of thermostats 228 and 229 respectively controlling the top heaters 226 and 227. The thermostats 228 and 229 are located in the head portion 51 of the post 50 on the upper plate 57 and operate in response to different temperatures to energize the top heaters 226 and 227 to keep the annular cover 85 warm to prevent snow or ice from remaining thereon.
The heating means 220 also includes, as seen in FIG. 13, intake air-heatingmeans 230 in the form of a grill heater 231 which may be imbedded in the grill posts 61 for grills 59 of the control post 50 to prevent frost or ice from forming therein and closing the openings 201 therethrough. The intake airheating means 230 also includes the tubular middle portion 52 of the control post 50 to prevent the formation of frost therein.
A thermostat 233 is part of the intake air-heating means 230, an is located in the head portion 51 below the upper plate 57 where it is responsive to the temperature of the head portion 51 in the means 200. when the pedestal 90 is operated in cold weather, the air in the vent means 200 may be colder than when the pedestal 90 is closed, thereby causing the thermostat 233 to actuate the grill heater 231 and the tubular portion heater 232 to raise the temperature of the air in the tubular middle portion 52.
The interior of the housing 30 may be warmed to a desired temperature by thermostat 223 and heater wire 222 as above described. However, the air in middle portion 52 of the control post 50 may be considerably colder than the selected temperature. Therefore the temperature lock 203 is provided to hold the warm housing air therein while excluding the colder control post air. This is accomplished because the warm housing air rises to fill the upper half of the temperature lock 203 while the cold air drops filling the lower half of the temperature lock 203 with a neutral space in between. The cold air and warm air will not mix unless additional pressure is supplied such as during opening and closing of the pedestal 90. Thus the temperature lock 203 effectively insulates the warm air in the housing 30 and decreases the amount of heating otherwise required by housing heater 222. Thus the heating means 220, aided by the temperature lock, maintains the pedestal 90 operable during the coldest weather.
The retracting mailbox assembly 16 also is provided with a drainage means 240. The drainage means 240 is shown schematically in FIG. 15, and shown in detail in FIGS. 7, 16, 17, and 18.
The drainage means 240 includes a closed top upper gutter 241 in the upper end 70 of the housing sleeve assembly 65 around the opening therein with small channels 242 through the interior sidewalls 86 of the upper end 70. The gutter 241 has a lower end from which a drainpipe 243 extends downwardly through the housing 30 at a corner thereof and into a settling tank 244 mounted to the mounting structure in the housing 30. Out of the opposite end of the settling tank 244 a standpipe 245 rises in the housing 30 at the corner thereof to open into a crossover channel 246 adjacent the upper end of the housing 30 and running underneath the upper gutter 241. On the other end of the cross channel 246 is an exhaust pipe 247 extending outwardly in the housing 30 at a corner thereof and through an opening 248 in the bottom of the housing 30. The opening 248 has a grill 249 therein allowing the water running down the exhaust pipe 247 to pass therethrough and into the bottom of the casing 20 to dissipate through the bottom opening 21 into the rock bottom 15.
A central pipe 250 extends out from the settling tank 244 and branches into right and left pipes 251 which opens through bleed openings 252 into the lower gutter 255. The flared bottom 93 of the piston 90 has on the lower end thereof two rubber feet which close the bleed openings 252 when the pedestal 90 is in the lowered position. When the pedestal 90 rises, the bleed openings 252 are opened, allowing water to flow slowly through the central pipe 250 and the pipes 251 from the settling tank 244 into a lower gutter 255.
The lower gutter 255 is formed in the bottom-mounting structure 80. The lower gutter 255 is defined by the inner wall of the housing sleeve assembly 77, and the sump walls 256. The gutter 255 has a drain 257 through the sump walls 256 into the sump 258. A pump 259 is located in the sump 258 and the operation of the pump 259 is controlled by a conventional built-in float switch 260. When actuated, pump 259 pumps the water from the sump 258 up a flush line 261 extending therefrom, up the housing 30 to the upper gutter 241 at the high end thereof, to flush foreign material in the upper gutter 241 down the drain pipe 243 and into the settling tank 244 where the foreign material settles out. The water in the drainpipe 243, the settling tank 244, and the standpipe 245 will seek its own level therein, falling when the openings 252 are opened and rising when the upper gutter 241 is filled by rain, etc. until the water level eventually reaches the height of the crossover channel 246 thereafter any additional water in the standpipe 245 to flow therethrough and down the exhaust pipe 247 and into the ground 10. The static pressure of the head of water insures that water will always flow through the bleed openings 252.
The drainage means 240 also includes a pipe 265 located in the lowest portion of S-shaped temperature lock 203 in the post base 40 to drain any liquid that is trapped there by the S- shaped temperature lock 203 into the housing sleeve assembly 65 and down the inner walls 77 to the lower gutter 255.
The drainage means 240 also includes a series of short grooves 266 in the inner walls 77 of the housing sleeve assembly 65 adjacent the portion of flared bottom 93 when the pedestal 90 is in the lowered position. These grooves 266 permit any water that might pass by the seal ring 96 and flow down the inner walls 77 of the housing sleeve assembly 65 to pass the piston rings 213 and drain into the lower gutter 255.
As the pedestal 70 rises slightly from the lower position, the piston rings 213 pass the ends of these grooves 266 to establish the seal needed for the vent means 200.
Rain or melted snow will normally flow into the upper gutter 241 and down the drainpipe 243 into the settling tank 244 carrying with it the dirt in the gutter 241. In the settling tank 244, the dirt will settle to the bottom while the clean water passes therethrough into the standpipe 245. The water will remain there to act as a pressure head and a water supply for the sump 258 and the pump 259, enabling the pump 259 to flush the upper gutter 241 in response to the raising of the pedestal, as previously explained.
Service and maintenance means 270 is provided to facilitate easy service and repair of the retracting mailbox assembly 16. The service means 270 includes openings 271 in the settling tank closed by cover plates 272 which permit the cleaning of the dirt and foreign material therein without removing the settling tank 244 from the hollow housing 30.
The service means 270 also includes the junction box 186 and the flange 76 of the upper end 70 of the housing sleeve as sembly 65 permitting the entire sleeve assembly 65 and the pedestal 90 therein together with the moving means 115 to be easily removed from the housing 30 for service or repair, with the control means 180 being disconnected therefrom at the junction box 186.
The service means 270 also includes the flared lower portion 53 and the tubular middle portion 52 which permits the control post 50 to be r moved or replaced simply and easily.
Removal of the e tire housing and components therein, together with the control post and its base, is easily accomplished, leaving the casing in the ground. Thus, enough dirt is removed to expose the upper end of casing 20, permitting removal of nuts from the studs 24 which, it will be recalled, secure plate 34 to the upper end of the casing. if the casing 20 contains some ground water, then the pipes 23 may be used to pump out this water while the housing is being removed. To reinstall the housing all that must be done is dig a new hole and insert a new casing 20.
Thus the retractable mailbox assembly of this invention provides a mailbox which can only be operated by the owner or the mailman to obtain access to the interior thereof and which is concealable in an opening in the ground adjacent the curb to mount flush with the surrounding area.
l. A retractable mailbox assembly comprising:
a hollow open-ended housing recessed in the ground with the open end thereof substantially flush with the surrounding surface;
a pedestal mounted within the housing and having a receptacle-receiving opening therethrough below the upper end thereof, said pedestal being movable between a retracted position within the housing and an extended position extending out of the housing with the opening therein away from the housing;
a mail-receiving receptacle mounted within the opening in the pedestal and having an open end closed by the pedestal in a retracted position and open to receive mail in an extended position;
closure means mounted to the housing for selectively closing the open upper end of the housing when the pedestal is in the lowered position; and
moving means mounted within the housing and operatively connected to the receptacle and the pedestal to selectively move the receptacle and pedestal between the two positions.
2. A retractable mailbox assembly comprising:
a hollow open upper-ended housing recessed in the ground with the upper end thereof substantially flush to the surrounding surface area;
a pedestal mounted within the housing and having an upper end that is adapted to close the open upper end of the housing and a receptacle-receiving opening therein below the upper end thereof, said pedestal being movable between a lower position within the housing with the upper end thereof closing the open upper end of the housing substantially flush with the surrounding surface area, and a raised position projecting out of the housing with the opening therein above the surrounding surface area;
a mail-receiving receptacle pivotally mounted within the opening in the pedestal and having an open end directed upwardly under the upper end of the pedestal in the closed position, and directed outwardly from the pedestal in the open position;
moving means including drive means mounted within the housing, driven means in the housing operably connecting the drive means to the pedestal for moving the pedestal between the raised and lowered positions, and pivoting means associated with said receptacle and said pedestal for pivoting the receptacle between open and closed positions; and
control means for selectively energizing the drive means.
3. The invention as defined in claim 2, including:
a hollow open upper-ended casing inserted into the ground and forming auniformly sized opening for receiving the housing, said housing being inserted into the casing and secured thereto to be anchored into the ground.
4. The invention as recited in claim 2 wherein the housing includes a housing sleeve assembly mounted within the housing and secured thereto at the upper end of the housing, said sleeve having a smooth inner surface and having mounted therein the pedestal, the drive means, and the driven means, the housing sleeve being easily removable to service the pedestal, the drive means, and the driven means.
SQThe invention as in claim 2 wherein the pedestal includes at least one seal adjacent its upper end, said seal engaging the upper end of the housing to seal the gap between the upper end of the pedestal and the upper end of the housing when the pedestal is in the lowered position, said seal pushing foreign materials out of the gap between the upper end of the pedestal and the housing as the pedestal moves from the lowered position.
6. The invention as in claim 2 wherein the control means includes a master-key-operated switch and an individual keyoperated switch mounted adjacent the housing, both of said switches being across a source of power to selectively energize the drive means individually.
7. The invention as in claim 2 wherein the pivoting means is operated by the driven means during the part of the movement of the pedestal adjacent to the raised position thereof.
8. The invention as in claim 2 additionally comprising catch members mounted in the housing adjacent the upper end, and a catch bar slidably mounted in the pedestal for engagement with the catch members as the pedestal rises to be held thereby, said catch bar being operatively connected to the pivoting means whereby the holding of the catch bar as the pedestal rises pivots the receptacle from the closed position to the open position, and biasing means mounted between the catch bar and the pedestal to bias the catch bar upwardly and pivot the receptacle from the open position to the closed position as the pedestal is lowered, said biasing means retaining the receptacle in the closed position when the catch bar is not engaging the catch members.
9. The invention as in claim 2 wherein the pedestal has generally straight sides extending downwardly from the top and ending in an enlarged bottom, and the open top of the housing is smaller than the hollow thereof, the sides of said open top engaging the sides of the pedestal, and the sides of the enlarged bottom engaging the sides of the hollow in the housing to provide support for the pedestal in the raised and lowered positions, and to guide the pedestal as it moves between the positions.
10. The invention as in claim 2 wherein seal means is located in the pedestal adjacent the upper end thereof and engages the sides of the upper open top of the housing when the pedestal is in the lowered position, to seal the opened top against the penetration of foreign material and water therethrough.
11. The invention as in claim 2 wherein seal means is provided between the sidewalls of the pedestal and the interior sides of the housing to seal the gap therebetween whereby as the pedestal rises, the air in the space between the sidewalls and the interior walls is pressurized and forced out the gap between the sidewalls of the pedestal and the sides of the upper open top of the housing to blow out any foreign materials therein.
12. The invention as in claim 2 wherein seal means are provided between the sidewalls of the pedestal and the interior sides of the housing, to trap air beneath the bottom of the pedestal in the hollow housing as the pedestal is lowered, and
valve means are provided for selectively conducting this air through the gap between the sidewalls of the pedestal and the sides of the upper open end of the housing to blow therethrough and prevent foreign materials from being drawn into the housing during the movement of the pedestal from the raised position to the lowered position.
13. The invention as in claim 2 wherein vent means is pro vided to vent the space below the bottom of the pedestal in the housing to the atmosphere when the pedestal is moving between raised and lowered positions.
14. The invention as in claim 2 additionally comprising a hollow control post located adjacent the housing and extending upwardly from the surrounding surface area, said post containing part of said control means located at a convenient height to be manually operated.
15. The invention as in claim 2 wherein the driven means is a continuous loop including:
counterweights within the housing;
means operably attaching said counterweights to the bottom of the pedestal whereby the counterweights generally balance the pedestal; and
' means operably attached between the counterweights and the pedestal, said means being drivingly connected to the drive means whereby energizing of the drive means in one direction pulls on the counterweights to move the pedestal via the attaching means from the lowered position to the raised position, and energizing of the drive means in the opposite direction, pulls on the pedestal to move the pedestal .from the raised position to the lowered position.
16. The invention as recited in claim 2 additionally comprising:
an upper gutter in the housing around the open upper end thereof;
a settling tank mounted in the housing adjacent the bottom thereof;
a drain tube from the upper gutter to the settling tank, said drain tube conducting water and any dirt therein from the gutter into the settling tank with the dirt settling to the bottom of the settling tank;
a standpipe in the housing with the lower end thereof connected to the upper end of the settling tank to store a supply of water from which the dirt has been removed;
exhaust means in the housing extending from the upper end of the standpipe to the outside of the housing, exhausting the excess clean water in the standpipe to the outside of the housing;
pump means with an inlet in communication with said settling tank and an outlet into the upper gutter;
sensing means responsive to movement of the pedestal from the lowered position to operate the pump means to pump clean water into the upper gutter with the dirt therein and the water running into the drainpipe.
17. The invention as recited in claim 2 additionally comprising:
a lower gutter in the lower end of the housing and a sump also in the lower end of the housing in fluid communication with the gutter;
a pipe with one end in fluid communication with the settling tank and the other end in fluid communication with the lower gutter; and the sensing means including feet on the lower end of the pedestal which in the lowered position thereof close the communication between the pipe and the lower gutter and a float switch in the sump, said pump means inlet being in the sump, and said pump means being operated by the rising water level in the sump raising the float switch whereby when the pedestal moves from the lowered position, the water flows out of the settling tank and into the gutter to flow into the sump to be pumped to the upper gutter. 18. The invention as recited in claim 2 additionally comprismg:
a hollow control post located adjacent the housing and extending upwardly from the surrounding area, a post mount mounting the control post to the housing, said post mount having a hollow U-shaped centralpassage communicating with the hollow control post and the interior of the housing, to vent the housing to atmosphere, said U- shaped central passage providing a temperature trap which holds the warm air within the housing and the cold outside air in the control post except when the pedestal is being moved between the raised and lowered positions.
19. The invention as recited in claim 2 additionally compris ing:
heating means in the housing for heating the air in the housing; and
thermostatic control means within the housing for selectively energizing the heating means whenever the tempera ture within the housing drops below a predetermined level.
20. The invention as recited in claim 2 additionally comprising heating means including a heater mounted in the housing adjacent the upper end thereof to prevent the formation of ice on the upper end of the housing; and
thermostatic control means associated with the housing for selectively energizing the top heater when the temperature drops below 32.
21. A retracting mailbox assembly comprising:
a hollow open upper-ended housing recessed in the ground with the upper end thereof substantially flush with the surrounding surface area;
a housing sleeve assembly mounted within the housing and releasably secured thereto, said housing sleeve assembly having an upper end substantially flush with the housing, said upper end having an opening therein;
a pedestal mounted within the housing sleeve assembly and having an upper end that closes the opening in the upper end of the sleeve assembly and having a receptacle opening therein below the upper end of the pedestal, said pedestal being movable between a lowered position within the housing sleeve assembly and the housing, with the upper end thereof closing the opening in the upper end of the housing sleeve assembly substantially flush with the surrounding surface area, and a raised position extending out of the housing sleeve assembly and housing with the opening therein extending above the surrounding surface area;
amail-receiving receptacle pivotally mounted within the opening in the pedestal and having an open end directed upwardly under the upper end of the pedestal in the closed position and having the open end thereof directed outwardly from the pedestal in the open position;
moving means including drive means mounted to the housing sleeve assembly and located within the housing, driven means mounted to the housing sleeve assembly and operably connected to the pedestal and the drive means for moving the pedestal between the two positions, and pivoting means mounted in the pedestal and operatively connected between the receptacle and the drive means for moving the receptacle between the two positions, and
control means associated with the drive means for selectively energizing the drive means; the drive means, the driven means, the pivoting means, the pedestal, and the receptacle being removable with the housing sleeve assembly for service upon release of the housing sleeve assembly.
22. The retracting mailbox assembly as in claim 21 wherein the control means includes a junction box mounted to the housing and to the housing sleeve assembly, said junction box including an upper and lower half which are separable and reattachable to split the control means when the housing sleeve assembly is removed from the housing for service.
23. A retracting assembly comprising:
a housing with a hollow therein defined by internal sides and an inner end with the outer end thereof being open, said housing recessed with the outer end thereof substantially flush with the surrounding area;
an extendable and retractable pedestal mounted within the housing for movement between a retracted position within the housing and an extended position wherein the pedestal is extended out of the open end of the housing, the pedestal having external sides which are spaced from the internal sides of the housing, and an enlarged internal end which engages interior sides of the housing;
seal means mounted to the enlarged interior end of the pedestal and engaging the interior sides of the housing to seal the gap therebetween as the pedestal moves between the extended and retracted positions;
valve means mounted in the pedestal and communicating between the space between the walls and the space below the inner end of the pedestal, said valve means being movable between a closed position preventing the air in the space between the walls of the piston and the housing from passing therethrough, and an open position permitting the air in the space below the inner end of the enlarged bottom topass therethrough into the space between the walls; 1
restricted vent means venting the housing below the enlarged interior end of the pedestal to the atmosphere;
moving means associated with the pedestal and the housing for moving the pedestal between the two positions, movement ofthe pedestal from the retracted position to the extended position moving the valve means to the closed position and pressurizing the air in the space between the walls of the pedestal and the housing to force the air out the open end of the housing to blow out any foreign materials therein, movement of the pedestal from the extended position to the retracted position pressurizing the air in the space below the pedestal enlarged internal end, the restricted vent means permitting the pressurizing of the air, to move the valve means to the open position and force the pressurized air therethrough into the space between the walls of the pedestal and the housing and out the open end of the housing to prevent foreign materials from being drawn into the housing by the movement of the pedestal to the retracted position.
24. The invention as recited in claim 23 wherein means are provided for selectively changing the location of the extended position of the pedestal out of the housing.