US 3596631 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 55 new 22 BB 6 1 1 "um m mu m m VC f fla mo eic re HWFSGG 783890 445667 999999 111111 4726 1 1 303 33 240648 ,33 836 26 23398 222333 4 l 1 8 6 r b e N 8 m 0 m 0 e e Mn 9 F fim no m MA I d m a e Wwe m flm l AFP .1 1.1.1 2 7 224 Primary Examiner- Louis J. Capozi Attorney-Henderson & Strom  SIGNAL DEVICE 8 Claims, 5 Drawing Figs.
 Int. ABSTRACT: A Signal device to be mounted on top f a i Field of 116/132,
box, the device comprising base means, biasing means, a
173, 232/34, 35; 24*8/40 signal element, linkage means, and an anchor; whereby when Reknnca Cm the lid IS opened, the preplaced anchor 15 released allowing the UNITED STATES PATENTS depressed signal element to spring to an upright position, thus indicating to a distant observer that the mailbox has been opened.
SIGNAL DEVICE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The delivery of mail in rural areas is effected by the transfer from a vehicle to a mailbox that is conveniently placed at the side of the road. Because of the typically larger areas involved in rural homesteads, the house is often placed a good distance from the road, and thus one desiring to find out whether or not mail has been delivered must travel a considerable distance, often to find an empty mailbox. This problem was early recognized and many ingenious devices have since been produced to alleviate the problem.
Many rural mailboxes have flag devices pivotally connected thereto, but they require the manual movement thereof by the owner to notify the mail carrier that the box contains something requiring his attention; furthermore, these flags are not generally used to notify the owner that mail has been left. Any signal device which requires the carrier to accomplish a particular action will not always be effective because of the tremendous workload placed on the carrier. Some devices have been sophisticated mechanisms and others have been devices combined to form a product having particular aesthetic qualities; however, the most practical and dependable signal devices have been those which are simple in construction and operation. The subject invention was designed with these qualities in mind, and its construction features simplicity of manufacture, installation and operation, as well as durability and efficiency.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention is a signaling device for a mailbox and in particular for a standard U.S. mailbox typically used in rural areas, which signaling device indicates to a distant observer whether or not the mailbox has been opened.
It is an object of this invention to provide a base means to be secured to the top of a mailbox.
Another object of this invention is the provision for an upstanding biasing means that is tensilely depressible downwardly.
A further object of this invention is to provide a signal element that can be seen from a distance.
Yet another object of this invention is the provision for linkage to lead from the signal element to the inside of the mailbox.
Still another object of this invention is the provision for releasably anchoring the linkage inside the mailbox by closing the lid.
A further object of this invention is the provision for a signal device that will indicate to a distant observer when a mailbox has been opened.
Yet another object of this invention is the provision for an effective signal device for a mailbox that is simple in construction and operation.
The objects and other features and advantages become more readily apparent upon reference to the following description when taken in conjunction with the appended drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the installed device;
FIG. 2 is an exploded enlarged front elevational view of the installed device;
FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the device in its cocked position;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along the lines 4-4 in FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a partial front elevational view of a modified embodiment of the base element of this invention; and
FIG. 6 is a partial sectional view taken along the lines 6-6 in DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows the signal device 10 as it is used in combination with a standard U.S. mailbox 11, having a lid 12 which hingedly opens downwardly.
The signal device 10 (FIG. 2) includes an inverted T-shaped base element 13 of light metal or hard plastic, having a crossmember 14 which is secured to the top surface of a mailbox 11. The crossmember 14 of the T-shaped element 13 is disposed longitudinally along the box 11. The method of securing, disclosed in FIG. 1, employs two bolts 16 inserted in the crossmember 14 through holes 18 drilled in the upper surface of the mailbox and fastened by nuts 17 on the inside surface of the mailbox, gaskets 19 being provided between the surface of the crossmember l4 and the surface of the mailbox 11 to prevent leakage. Other methods that may be employed in securing the base element 13 to the box 11 include, but are not limited to, gluing or banding. .Two small bosses 15 are disposed on the upper surface of the crossmember 14 for securing purposes. Thus, if it is desired to band the element 13 to the box, bands or rope can be wrapped around the box 11 and crossmember 14 with the bosses l5 securing the band to the crossmember.
Disposed on the upstanding portion of the base 13 (FIG. 2) is a close-wound helical spring 21 having an inside diameter (FIG. 4) such that it closely fits over the base upstanding portion and extends upwardly therebeyond.
Secured to the upper end of the spring 21 (FIG. 2) is a three-dimensional figurine or the like which comprises the signal element 22. Its composition may be of any material such as plastic or the like. Projecting from the lower end of the signal element 22 is an elongated cylindrical leg 23 which closely fits into the upper end of the spring 21, but does not extend into the spring 21 to the point where it would contact the base 13.
A linkage chain 24 (FIG. 2) or the like is secured on one end to the signal element 22 and on the other end to an anchor 26 such as a sphere of rubber, plastic or the like. The length of the chain 24 is such that, when the anchor 26 is placed just inside the mailbox opening 27, directly under the upper wall of the mailbox, the spring 21 is tensilely stressed and the upstanding signal element is displaced to a substantially horizontal position. Either the signal element 22 or the anchor 26 may be coated with a fluorescent paint or the like, thus making it easier to see from a distance.
In operation, the lid 12 (FIG. 1) is opened, the anchor is inserted into the mailbox opening 27 and the lid is closed.(FIG. 3), thus cooking the signal element 22 to a substantially horizontal position. Upon delivery of the mail, the lid 12 is opened, releasing the anchor 26, which allows the signal element 22 to spring to the upright position so as to give notice to a distant observer that the mail has been delivered. When the box 11 is opened to remove the mail, the anchor 26 is again inserted and the signal element is again ready for operation.
Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6, a modified embodiment of the base element 31 is depicted. The base element comprises a pair of spaced-apart upright members 32 each integral with a C-shaped clamp 33 disposed on the bottom end thereof to one of the open ends of the clamp. The upright member has aligned openings formed therethrough for receiving the shaft of a threaded bolt 34 wherein, upon aligning the openings, the bolt can be inserted therethrough. A nut 36 is threadably mounted on the bolt in a conventional manner. One end of an elongated cylindrical post 37 is mounted between the upright members with the free end thereof projecting upwardly and adapted to receive the one end of the spring 21 (FIG. 2).
A conventional mailbox has a locking member 38 (FIGS. 1 and 3) secured to the upper surface thereof and adapted to engage the top edge of the door 12 for holding it in a closed position. The opposed C-shaped clamps are adapted to fit over the edges of the locking members and, upon fastening the nut 36 to the bolt 34 and drawing it tight thereon, the C-clamps effectively lock the base element 31 to the locking member and to the post 37.
1. A signal device to be used in conjunction with a mailbox having a lid, the device comprising:
base means secured to the exterior upper wall of a mailbox;
biasing means secured on one end thereof to said base means and having a free end projecting substantially upwardly therefrom;
a signal element secured to said biasing means free end;
linkage means of predetermined length secured on one end thereof to said signal element; and
anchor means secured to the other end of said linkage means; whereby when said anchor means is inserted into the mailbox and the lid is closed thereon, said biasing means allows the signal element to be displaced downwardly; and when the lid is opened and the anchor is released, said biasing means causes said signal element to return to its upward position.
2. A signal device as defined in claim 1 wherein said base means includes a crossmember adapted to be secured to the mailbox and an upstanding member integral with said crossmember and adapted to receive said biasing means one end.
3. A signal device as defined in claim 2 wherein said biasing means is a helical spring which interconnects said upstanding member and said signal element.
4. A signal device as defined in claim 3 wherein said linkage means is a chain.
5. A signal device as defined in claim 4 wherein said signal element is at least partially coated with a fluorescent material.
6. A signal device as defined in claim 4 wherein said anchor means is spherical and at least partially coated with a fluorescent material.
7. A signal device as defined in claim 1 wherein said base means is adapted to be secured to the locking member of the mailbox, said base means including a pair of spaced-apart C- shaped members, a pair of upright members each integral with one of said C-shaped members, and a holding element for securing said C-shaped members to the locking member and to secure said biasing means one end between said upright members.
8. A signal device as defined in claim 1 wherein said base means is adapted to be secured to the locking member, a pair of spaced-apart C-shaped members, a pair of upright members each integral with one of said C-shaped members, and a holding element for securing said C-shaped members to the locking member and to secure one end of said upstanding member between said upright members, said upstanding member other end adapted to receive said biasing means one end.