US 3648924 A
A signal device for a mailbox including a rod pivotally mounted to the mailbox at one end and supported at its forward end portion by the mailbox door in closed position, a visual signal element supported on the rod and adapted to be rotated by cooperating cam means, when the door is opened, to a depending position more visible to an observer to the rear of the mailbox.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Burns 51 Mar. 14, 1972  MAILBOX SIGNAL  Inventor: Homer Woodfin Burns, 725 Greymont Drive, Nashville, Tenn. 37217  Filed: Aug. 6, 1970 21] Appl. No.: 61,549
 US. Cl ..232/35, 116/132  Int. Cl l ..B65d 91/00  Field ofSearch ..232/34, 35; 116/132  References Cited UNlTED STATES PATENTS 3,325,092 6/1967 Hoffman et a1. ..232/35 687,528 11/1901 Hawley ..232l34 677,967 7/1901 Fenstermacher ..232/35 1,564,305 12/1925 Fanders ..232/35 3,143,287 8/1964 Holt ...232/35 3,026,024 3/ 1962 Holmgren et a1. ...232/35 2,581,880 l/1952 Price ..232/35 Primary Examiner-Bobby R. Gay Assistant ExaminerPeter A. Aschenbrenner Attamey1-1arrington A. Lackey  ABSTRACT A signal device for a mailbox including a rod pivotally mounted to the mailbox at one end and supported at its forward end portion by the mailbox door in closed position, a visual signal element supported on the rod and adapted to be rotated by cooperating cam means, when the door is opened, to a depending position more visible to an observer to the rear of the mailbox.
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PATENTEUMAR 14 I972 INVENTOR: Hon/2E2, W BUQNS %0RNEY 0 MAILBOX SIGNAL BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a mailbox, and more particularly to a device for signalling the presence of mail in the mailbox.
Devices for signalling the presence of mail in mailboxes, and which are actuated by the opening of the mailbox door, are known in the art. Such known signal devices include flags, which are adapted to swing or pivot by gravity to a different position when actuated by the opening of the mailbox door. Nevertheless, most of these devices are unduly complicated, impractical, and uneconomical to manufacture.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of this invention to provide a signal device pivotally mounted upon the wall of the mailbox and latched in a raised position by the closed mailbox door, and which will cause a flag to rotate from a position in which only the edge is visible to a position in which its flat side is visible to an observer behind the mailbox, when the mailbox door is open.
This signal device includes a minimum of parts and is easily assembled upon a new mailbox, or an existing mailbox.
The signal device includes a rod pivoted at its rear end upon the wall of the mailbox and supported at its forward end upon a rest member fixed to the door of the mailbox. A visual signal element, preferably a flag having a highly visible flat surface, is fixed to a sleeve supported for longitudinal movement upon the rod. Cooperating cam elements are provided on the sleeve and the rod so that when the front end of the rod is released to swing down, the cooperating cam elements will cause the flag to rotate from its edgewise position to its broadside position, to indicate that the mailbox door has been opened, and therefore, in all probability, that mail has been deposited in the mailbox.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a side elevation of a mailbox upon which the signal device is supported in raised position;
FIG. 2 is a side elevation similar to FIG. 1 in which the mailbox door has been opened and the signal device is in its depending operative position;
FIG. 3 is a front-end view of the mailbox and signal device in operative position as disclosed in FIG. 2, but in which the mailbox door has been reclosed; and
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary perspective view of the signal device in its depending operative position.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to the drawings in more detail, FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 disclose a mailbox of conventional construction, having a sidewall 11, a closed rear end wall 12, and an open front end 13 adapted to be closed by a door 14 pivoted by hinge pins 15 to the sidewall 11. The mailbox 10 may also be provided with a conventional signal flag 17 fixed to arm 18 pivoted by pin 19 to the sidewall 11.
The signal device 20 made in accordance with this invention includes an elongated rod 21, the rear end of which constitutes a transverse journal sleeve or collar 22 rotatably mounted about a journal pin 23 fixed in the sidewall 11, in such a manner that the rod 21 is free to swing in a vertical plane substantially parallel to the sidewall 11.
The front end of the rod 21 is adapted to slidably fit through a corresponding aperture in a rest member or latch plate 25 fixed to mailbox door 14, when the door 14 is in a closed position as disclosed in FIG. 1. However, when the door 14 is swung about its hinge pins 15 to an open position, as disclosed in FIG. 2, the rest member 25 moves away from and beyond the front end of the rod 21, so that the rod 21 is released from the rest member 25 and falls by gravity to its vertical depending position disclosed in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4.
Supported for longitudinal slidable movement upon the rod 21 is a signal sleeve 27 to which is fixed a visual signal element, such as signal flag 28, having a substantially large flat signal surface which may be painted or otherwise coated to be visible at a substantial distance.
The front edge of the signal sleeve 27 is cut away or otherwise formed at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the sleeve 27 to form a cam surface 29. Adapted to cooperate with the angular cam surface 29 is a cam follower or lug 30 fixed to and projecting transversely of the rod 21.
The shape of the cam surface 29, and the location of the cam lug 30 are such that when rod 21 is supported in its raised position by the rest member 25, the flag 28 is suspended with its flat surface in a substantially vertical plane and parallel to the sidewall 11, as disclosed in FIG. 1. However, when the door 14 is open, to release the rod 21 from the rest member 25, signal sleeve 27 gravitates along the rod 21 until the cam surface 29 engages the cam lug 30. The weight of the flag 28 and the signal sleeve 27 forces the cam surface 29 down over the relatively stationary cam lug 30 causing the sleeve 27 and the flag 28 to turn about the rod 21. The flag 28 is thus rotated through approximately relative to the rod 21 and exposed in a vertical plane transverse to the sidewall 11, while the rod 21 depends vertically, as disclosed in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4.
An observer at a substantially great distance from and behind the mailbox 10 could see only the rear edge of the flag 28, if that much, when the mailbox door 14 is closed and the rod 21 is supported in its raised, inoperative position by the rest member 25. However, when the postman opens the door 14 to deposit mail in the box 10, the rod 21 is unlatched to drop to its vertical depending position. The observer at a substantial distance behind the mailbox 10 can then fairly readily observe the transversely disposed signal flag 28 below the mailbox 10, and thereby be advised of the presence of mail in the mailbox 10. When the postman returns the door 14 to its closed position, the flag 28 remains in its depending operative position, until manually restored to its raised position supported by the rest member 25.
The signal flag 28 operates entirely independently of the conventional signal flag 17. It will be observed in the drawings that a signal device 20 could easily be installed upon an existing mailbox 10 by merely securing two parts to the existing mailbox, the journal pin 23 to the sidewall 11, and the rest member 25 to the hinged door 14.
What is claimed is:
1. In a mailbox having a sidewall, an open end, and a door movable toward and away from said open end, respectively, to close and open said open end, a signal device comprising:
a. an elongated rod having a front end and a rear end,
b. journal means pivotally connecting said rear end to the sidewall of the mailbox to permit swinging movement of said rod in a substantially vertical plane parallel to said sidewall,
a rest member for said rod on said door,
. said rod being of a length that its front end portion is supported in a raised position upon said rest member when said door is closed, and said rod will drop from said rest member to a vertical depending position when said door is opened,
e. an elongated sleeve mounted on said rod for longitudinal and rotatable movement,
. a flat signal flag fixed longitudinally to only one side of said sleeve and projecting radially therefrom, so that said flag depends by gravity from said sleeve parallel to said sidewall when said rod is in said raised position,
g. said sleeve having a front end portion comprising a cam surface inclined to the longitudinal axis of said sleeve,
h. a cam follower fixed to said rod between said sleeve and the front end of said rod,
i. said cam follower projecting from said rod in a position to engage said cam surface as said sleeve gravitates forward on said rod as said rod drops from said rest member, causing said flag to rotate on said rod to a position substantially normal to said sidewall when said rod is in said depending position.