US 3629875 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent mlm m m n nk n .lt us Inn- .1 .T Sl n e l t t o h k r-a WNJSEB 024889 666666 999999 111111 728797 749903 33 760 v 675326 464905 233333 0 a O KW 7 DP-8 9 .AP n 6 9 1 4 .5 r6nC b 02-1 8 DlEoSF s 0 r m e Wm v PH m AF 1. 2 2 7 22 Patented Dec.28 1971 Primary Examiner-Henry K. Artis Attorney-Sheridan, Ross and Burton  PORTABLE INFLATABLE ENCLOSURE FOR PERSONAL USE ABSTRACT: Crown and base member of corresponding size 18 Claims, 8 Drawing Figs.
and shape peripherally connected to upper and lower ends of space-enclosing curtain. Longitudinal pockets on curtain inpporting. Crown or base or both may be hollow container for water with air pump to force water up to shower head. Other water source may be hose or external tank pressurized b means. Same pump may be used to inflate curtain and flatable to erect the enclosure and make it self-su 6 nm Ml.
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296/23 surize water. Roof-type crown and pan-type base securable together to form carrying case for curtain and shower accessories. Similar enclosure used for toilet or lavatory and connected facewise to shower enclosure, Divided and of shower protects lavatory room against water room.
[5 6] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS zipped wall from shower RXX ..UU m 1 5 4 1 e mm .5 mm Ur. mm mk 3 TL HWK 357 555 990 ill. 627: .l a 326' 856' 27 4200 222 SHEET 1 F 4 10 \72 L72 INVENTORS 4 DOR/S I. DOW
E ERNEST P KOLLAR ATTORNEYS PAIENM mm m SHEET 2 OF 4 INVENTORS DOW DORIS ERNEST P. KOLLAR ATTORNEYS mmnmem SHEET 3 [1F 4 INVENTORS DORIS DOW ERNEST F? KOLLAR ATTORNEYS PATENTED UEE28 ml SHEET n F 4 INVENTORS DORIS DOW ERNEST P. KOLLAR ATTORNEYS PORTABLE INFLATABLE ENCLOSURE FOR PERSONAL USE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention lies in the field of portable enclosures for personal use and is directed to such devices which may be readily assembled and dismantled for storage or transportation. It is more particularly directed to such a device which has a minimum number of parts which may be erected very quickly with no need for special skills or manual dexterity, and which is sufficiently rigid for general use in camping areas while utilizing very light materials for the major part of the structure. More specifically, it is directed to a portable enclosure in which certain of the functional parts also serve, when appropriately connected, as a carrying case for the other parts of the structure as well as some or all of the accessories used with the structure.
Many types of portable enclosures are presently in use, ranging from conventional tents to boxlike structures made up of a plurality of rigid plate members which must be secured together with many fastening devices which require much skill and dexterity in assembly. Even a simple tent structure calls for the securing of many loose parts and is very difficult to set up without the services of two or more persons. In addition, when these various structures are dismantled, they are heavy and cumbersome to carry or to store.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention overcomes these difficulties and provides a construction which requires practically no assembly operations and which may be erected by a single person with no difficulty. Moreover, it is readily dismantled and packed within its own carrying case which is easy to carry and may be stowed in a minimum storage space.
Generally stated, the structure comprises only three principal components, a base member, a crown member, and a curtain. One marginal end of the curtain is peripherally secured to the margin of the base member and the second marginal end is peripherally secured to the margin of the crown member. A plurality of elongate pockets are secured to the curtain, extending substantially from end to end thereof and located in spaced parallelism around the major part of the periphery of the curtain. A source of pressurized air inflates the pockets and automatically erects the curtain to form a space-enclosing tube extending from the crown to the base, with the pockets serving as ribs and stiffening the curtain sufficiently to make it self-supporting and resistant to light winds or inadvertent external contacts.
While one or both of the base and crown may be simple open frames to constitute a minimum structure which may be hung free of the ground on any suitable support, in the preferred construction at least the base is a closed bottom, shape-retaining member of circular or rectangular planform suited to rest on the ground and support the entire structure. One of the principal uses for which the invention is intended is as a portable shower. For this use the base takes the form of a pan having an upstanding marginal edge and a depressed central portion provided with a drain. A shower head within the enclosure may be supplied with water from any source, such as a hose. In a more self-contained form, the pan is made hollow to serve as a water container and may be pressurized by the same pump which is used to inflate the pockets. The pump may be set on the floor of the pan to be operated from time to time by the occupant while he is taking a shower.
The crown member may have a closed top and depending marginal flange to serve as a roof and complete a total enclosure. It is of substantially the same size and shape as the pan so that when the curtain is deflated the crown and base telescope to form a carrying case in which the curtain is stored, together with the shower head, pump, and other accessories. A handle is provided on the pan or roof to facilitate handling.
The base, crown, and curtain are preferably rectangular in planform and one face of the curtain is divided to provide ingress and egress, the meeting edges being provided with a zipper to close the curtain when it is being used as a shower. A similar enclosure may be provided for use as a lavatory or toilet or dressing room. The second enclosure has a similar zippered entrance on one face of the curtain, and a section of the opposite side may be omitted. The two enclosures are then secured together in facewise relation with the open section of the second curtain in registry with the zippered section of the first curtain, the two enclosures combining to make a complete toilet or bathroom facility, with direct internal access between the compartments. The zipper closure of the first curtain prevents shower water from entering the second enclosure.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Various other advantages and features of novelty will become apparent as the description proceeds in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the basic enclosure erected and ready for use;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the enclosure dismantled and self-contained in its own carrying case;
FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 1 with parts broken away to show additional features of construction;
FIG. 4 is a vertical sectional view of the base member of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a schematic view in perspective showing details of air and water control;
FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 1 showing a modified construction;
FIG. 7 is a schematic plan view of a shower and lavatory combination; and
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of an external means for heating water to be supplied to the enclosure of this invention.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The enclosure is generally illustrated in FIG. 1, where it will be seen that in its preferred form it includes three primary components, a base member 10, a crown member 12, and a space-enclosing curtain 14. While other suitable planforms may be employed, the present construction has a generally rectangular planform. The base member has a closed bottom 16 with an upstanding peripheral margin 18 to form a pan, while the crown has a closed top 20 with a depending peripheral flange or margin 22 to form a roof. Curtain 14 has a first lower end margin 26 peripherally secured to the margin 18 of the base member and a second upper end margin 28 peripherally secured to the margin 22 of the crown member, the curtain thus having four generally planar sides or strips combining to enclose the space between the base member and the crown member.
The structure is rendered substantially self-erecting and self-supporting by the provision of a plurality of elongate pockets on the curtain extending substantially from end to end thereof, the pockets being inflatable to serve as ribs and stiffen the curtain. These pockets 24 are arranged in closely spaced relation on three of the sides 30 of the curtain, and at least a few similar pockets are arranged at the margins of the fourth side 32 of the curtain as shown in FIG. 1. It is presently preferred to form the pockets by utilizing two layers of flexible material in facewise relation and bond them together along spaced parallel bonding lines 34 as indicated in FIG. 1. All of the pockets communicate with the end margins of the curtain so that they may all be inflated through a single inlet. Even though the structure is relatively rigid it is very light and is subject to displacement by the wind or by external contact. The roof and pan are therefore provided with loops 36 for connection to any suitable tiedown devices.
lngress and egress are made possible by forming the major part of the fourth side 32 of the curtain from portions 38 and 40 which are integral with the remainder of the curtain but separable from each other along a vertical line provided with a zipper or other fastening means 42 to maintain them closed during use. A pair of similar fasteners 44 near the bottom end facilitates the opening.
The enclosure of the invention is made truly portable by virtue of the fact that the curtain may be folded and stored in the base member 10, with crown member 12 being telescoped over the base member to form the carrying case shown in FIG. 2. For this purpose member 12 is made with the same planform as member 10, and its margin 22 is just enough larger than margin 18 to provide a sliding fit. A handle 46 is formed on member to facilitate carrying the packed case. For convenience in packing, the curtain is provided at some or all of its four corners with zippers 48 extending almost from end to end which open to divide the curtain into several strips which are much more readily folded.
Any suitable material may be used for the structure but it is desirable for lightness and ease of manufacture to make the curtain of plastic sheets and the base member and crown member of molded plastic. Both the curtain and the crown member may be translucent to admit natural light to the enclosure.
One of the principal purposes of the enclosure is for use as a shower in camping areas, and therefore it is preferably provided with the additional features illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4, and 5. Although the curtain may be fastened to the base member and crown member by mechanical fasteners such as hooks and loops or eyes, it is desirable to control the outflow of water when the enclosure is used as a shower. For this purpose the upper and lower end margins 28 and 26 are bonded throughout at least a major part of their periphery to the inner surfaces of the margins of members 12 and 10.
As seen in FIG. 3, a bracket 50 is mounted on one of the walls 30 of the curtain to support a shower head 52 provided with a valve control handle 54. A hose 56 leads from the shower head to a source of water supply. Soapdish 58 may be an inflated portion of the curtain wall. A baglike waterproof sheath 60 hangs along another curtain wall to contain a dressing robe and towel. Drain 62 is provided in the floor of the base member to conduct wash water to the exterior. If the water supply is to be external, as from a hydrant or portable tank, the bottom 16 of member 10 may serve as a reservoir for waste water or be solid or foam filled.
The self-contained character of the construction is preferably further carried out by making base member 10 generally in the manner illustrated in FIG. 4, where is will be seen that member 10 is provided with a floor 64 spaced above bottom 16 by ribs 66 to form a container for storing sufficient water to supply the shower head for one or more persons. Air under pressure is supplied to fitting 68 to pressurize the water and force it out through fitting 70 to which hose 56 may be attached to conduct the water to the shower head. The ribs 66 are provided with apertures 72 at their lower edges so that all of the water will flow to the lower end of fitting 70 as additional air is forced into the container.
If an outside supply of water is available, the lower end of hose 56 may be removed from fitting 70 and applied to fitting 74 which passes through the curtain and may be connected to an outside source such as line 76. When the water in the base member container is to be used, a foot-operated air pump 78 is provided and is connected by hose 80 to air inlet fitting 68. The same pump is initially used to inflate the pockets and erect the enclosure by connecting its hose 80 to the inflation fitting 82. The supply of water in the container is replenished through fitting 84 having a cap 86 which may be mounted flush rather than as shown. 7
To avoid excessive steaming up of the shower during use, the roof 20 is provided with a vent opening 88, and flap 40 is provided near its lower end with a fresh air intake screen 90. The screen may be made of Teflon or other hydrophobic material, or may be of any material with a hydrophobic coating on at least its inner face to prevent water from splashing or running out through the screen. It will be-noted that vent 88 is vertically in registry with filler 84, andthat a portion of end margin 28 of the curtain is not bonded to roof margin 22 adjacent to the vent. Thus, when the structure is dismantled, a curtain portion is displaced inwardly and the tiller and its cap will protrude through vent 88 when the roof and pan are telescoped. With this arrangement, the pan may be filled whenever it is convenient while the structure is in packed condition. The pan 10 may have a heat-absorbing external surface so that the water contained therein may be heated by solar radiation before the enclosure is set up.
There is always a possibility that the inflatable curtain wall will be punctured with no facilities momentarily available to repair it. To deal with this eventuality, sockets 92 are provided in the corners of margins 18 and 22 of the pan and roof, and telescoping brace rods 94, with pushbutton latches 96, are provided to be inserted in the sockets of some or all of the corners to support the roof until repairs are made.
A simple basic, or minimum, enclosure is illustrated in FIG. 6. In this construction, the base member 98 is made as a simple open frame from rod or tubing 100. The curtain 14 may be secured to the frame with a series of rings 102 and the frame may stand on the ground or the entire enclosure may be supported by rings 36 from any suitable overhead support. The roof 12 is similar to that of FIGS. 1 and 3, but it may be replaced by an open frame similar to base member 98.
A pair of enclosures as described above may be readily combined to make a complete bathroom facility. As indicated schematically in plan in FIG. 7, a first enclosure 104 having zippered flaps as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 may serve as a shower. A second similar enclosure 106 may be set up with one wall in facewise adjacency to the zippered wall of enclosure 104, and the two structures secured together to form a compartmented shelter. Enclosure 106 is provided with a stool 108 and a basin or vanity 110. The entry 112 is provided with zippered flaps similar to those of enclosure 104 while its opposite wall has an uncurtained opening 114 in registry with the flaps of enclosure 104. Thus, the two units are open to each other but may be segregated when the shower is in use.
In FIG. 8 is shown a water container supported upon a stand 122. A gas nozzle 124, suitably connected to a source of fuel 126, is disposed within a recess formed in the bottom of the container 120. The water within the container 120 may be suitably heated upon supplying fuel to the nozzle 124. Air pressure is supplied to the container 120 via the tube 128 and water is conveyed from the container by outlet tube 130. The container 120 is constructed with a fill cap 132 to permit the filling of the container 120 with water. The fill cap 132 preferably includes a temperature gauge having a conductor portion 134 for indicating the temperature of the water within the container 120. It will be appreciated that the footoperated air pump 78 (as shown in FIG. 5) may be connected to the tube 128 and the outlet tube may be connected with the line 76 shown in FIG. 5. It will also be appreciated that the base 10 as shown in FIG. 4 may be constructed similar to the container 120 shown in FIG. 8 and serve as a reservoir for the water prior to heating thereof. Understandably, the handle 136 shown in FIG. 8 would be suitably relocated, a suitable recess would be formed for installing the flame nozzle, and the stand 122 could be dispensed with entirely.
It will be apparent that the present invention provides a simple, compact, and readily portable enclosure for personal use and which may be readily duplicated to provide a complete bathroom facility which may be set up and dismantled quickly and easily in any suitable camping location. For example, if desired, the curtain 32 may be formed without the vent 90 and the portions 38 and 40 may be formed of a reduced length such that the lower margin 26 of curtain 32 does not come in contact with the upper surface of the base 10, Under these cir cumstances, the lower margin 26 would preferably be reinforced or stiffened to prevent same from buckling. It will also be understood that the bonding lines 34 may be interrupted at predetermined locations to facilitate bending of the curtain along predetermined lines. Additionally, it will be appreciated that the base and crown sections 10 and 12 may be formed from the same mold and, thus, said sections would not be telescopably mounted one within the other. Additionally, the fitting 34 and cap 86 could be installed adjacent the handle 46, the length of the recess formed in the crown section 12 being suitably increased to accommodate same if said fitting and fill cap are not mounted flush within the base section 10. Although FIG. 3 shows the use of cylindrically shaped telescoping brace rods 94, it will be appreciated that brace rods rectangular in cross section could be used, such use requiring only that the sockets 92 be formed also rectangular in cross section. Finally, it will be understood that the second enclosure 106 as shown in FIG. 7 may be provided with zippered flaps at the entry 112 and the opening 114 or, if desired, the opening 114 may be provided with a removable curtain section.
1. A portable enclosure for personal use, comprising: a shape-retaining base member with a margin having a fixed peripheral planform; a shape-retaining crown member with a margin having a fixed peripheral planform corresponding in size and shape to that of the base member; and an elongate space-enclosing flexible curtain having a first end margin peripherally secured to the margin of the base member and a second end margin peripherally secured to the margin of the crown member; said curtain being provided with a plurality of elongate pockets, each extending substantially from end to end of said curtain and being located in spaced parallel relation around the major portion of the periphery of the curtain; said pockets being inflatable to serve as ribs to stiffen said curtain and render it substantially self-supporting and deflatable to permit compact storage thereof when not in use.
2. An enclosure as claimed in claim 1; said curtain being formed of translucent material to admit natural light to the enclosure.
3. An enclosure as claimed in claim 1; at least one of said members being in the form of a peripheral frame to define an open end for said enclosure.
4. An enclosure as claimed in claim i; said curtain comprising two layers of flexible material arranged in face-wise relation and bonded together along a series of spaced parallel lines to define one of said elongate pockets between each pair of bonding lines.
5. An enclosure as claimed in claim 1; said curtain being provided with an opening extending along the major portion of its length to afford ingress and egress; and fastening means to maintain said opening closed during use.
6. An enclosure as claimed in claim 1; said base member being in the form ofa pan having an upstanding marginal edge and a depressed central portion; and said crown member comprising a roof having a depending marginal flange; said pan and roof being adapted to be secured together to form a hollow carrying case to enclose said curtain in its deflated collapsed condition.
7. An enclosure as claimed in claim 6; said curtain comprising a plurality of elongate strips provided with slide fasteners along their mating edges; said strips being separable along the major portion of their lengths to facilitate folding for storage in said carrying case.
8. An enclosure as claimed in claim 1; one of said members being in the form of a container to store water; a shower head in said enclosure; and conduit means extending from said container to said shower head to supply water thereto to facilitate the use of said enclosure as a portable shower.
9. An enclosure as claimed in claim 8; said container being provided with a heat-absorbing external surface to heat the water contained therein by solar radiation.
10. An enclosure as claimed in claim 8; the member formed as a container being the base member; and means to supply air under pressure to the interior of said container to force the water contained therein to a height sufficient to supply said shower head.
11. An enclosure as claimed in claim 10; the means to supply air under pressure comprisin a manually operable pump located wrthrn the enclosure an operable by the occupant to supply additional air during use of the shower.
12. An enclosure as claimed in claim 11; said pump being connectable to said elongate pockets to inflate them and erect the curtain to extended position.
13. An enclosure as claimed in claim 1; said base member being in the form of a pan having an upstanding marginal edge and a depressed central portion; and said crown member comprising a roof having a depending marginal flange; said pan and roof being adapted to be secured together to form a hollow carrying case to enclose said curtain in its deflated collapsed condition; a shower head in said enclosure; and means to supply water to said shower head to facilitate the use of said enclosure as a portable shower.
14. An enclosure as claimed in claim 13; said pan comprising a container to store water; conduit means extending from said container to said shower head; and means to supply air under pressure to the interior of said container to force the water contained therein to a height sufficient to supply said shower head.
15. An enclosure as claimed in claim 13; the major portion of the first and second end margins of the curtain being bonded to the margins of the pan and roof to seal the enclosure against water leakage and to produce a unitized, self-supporting structure.
16. An enclosure as claimed in claim 15; an opening in the roof to vent water vapor; an opening in a lower portion of the curtain to admit fresh air; and a fine-mesh screen across the lower opening; at least the inner face of said screen having a hydrophobic surface to prevent outflow of water.
17. An enclosure as claimed in claim 16; a water filling fitting at one corner of the pan extending toward the roof; and the vent opening in the roof being in the comer thereof in registry with the fitting to allow the fitting to project through the opening and facilitate filling of the container when the pan and roof are secured together; the curtain being free of the roof in said corner to permit said projection.
18. An enclosure as claimed in claim 1; said curtain in extended position having at least one substantially planar vertical face; said curtain being divided vertically along a major portion of the length of its planar face for ingress and egress; a shower head in said enclosure; a slide fastener to close the planar face of said curtain and prevent escape of water; a second, lavatory enclosure similar to said first enclosure including a substantially planar face secured in facewise juxtaposition to the first said planar face and provided with an open section in registry with the divided portion of said first planar face to provide a combined shower and lavatory unit.