US 3653157 A
A sliding shower door assembly having a frameless glass panel provided at its lower margin with a pair of spaced bearing elements of resilient, long-wearing material. The panel is movable in a vertical plane and has its lower margin retained in a longitudinal groove of a generally horizontal guide member. The bearing elements are proximal to and bear against the sides of the groove to keep the panel out of contact with the guide member and to minimize the sound arising from the movement of the panel.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Casebolt [4 1 Apr. 4, 1972  SLIDING GLASS DOOR ASSEMBLY  Inventor: Ralph T. Casebolt, 380 Elysian Fields Drive, Oakland, Calif. 94605  Filed: June 22, 1967 ] Appl. No.: 648,139
 U.S. Cl ..49/4l1,49/439, 16/93 [5 l 1 Int. Cl ..E02d 13/02  Fleld of Search ..49/409-4l3, 436-440;
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,370,848 3/1921 Shields ..49/437 2,684,506 7/1954 Tadd ..49/4ll 2,750,636 6/ l 956 Hauck .49/39 2,754,535 7/1956 Plemeng ..49/4l l X 3,360,893 [/1968 Wattelez ..52/502 X Primary Examinerl(enneth Downey Attorney-Townsend and Townsend  ABSTRACT A sliding shower door assembly having a frameless glass panel provided at its lower margin with a pair of spaced bearing elements of resilient, long-wearing material. The panel is movable in a vertical plane and has its lower margin retained in a longitudinal groove of a generally horizontal guide member. The bearing elements are proximal to and bear against the sides of the groove to keep the panel out of contact with the guide member and to minimize the sound arising from the movement of the panel.
6 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTEUAPR 41912 3,653,157
INVENTOR. RALPH T. CASEBOLT ATTORNEYS SLIDING GLASS DOOR ASSEMBLY This invention relates to improvements in shower door construction and, more particularly, to a frameless, sliding glass shower door.
The present invention is directed to the combination of a frameless glass shower door or panel of the sliding type, a grooved, horizontal guide member shiftably receiving the lower margin of the door and a pair of spaced long-wearing bearing elements on this lower margin. The bearing elements act as spacers to maintain the door out of engagement with the guide member and as silencers to minimize the sound associated with the sliding action of the door.
The teachings of this invention are especially adapted for sliding shower doors of tempered glass which cannot be cut without great difficulty and which are generally cut to stock sizes at a manufacturing site. When using stock sizes, it is oftentimes necessary to compensate for errors in the construction and positions of accessories, such as external frame members for mounting the tempered glass panels. The bearing elements of the present invention can be used even though such errors exist; thus, the invention allows a shower assembly to be constructed which has all of the advantages of tempered glass panels without sacrificing workmanship or the appearance of the shower assembly itself.
For use as a spacer, each bearing element has a bearing surface disposed outwardly of each face of the glass panel respectively. The bearing surfaces of the bearing elements normally engage and slide along the edges of the guide member which define the groove as the glass panel is moved in its vertical plane. The interengagement of the bearing surfaces and guide member edges keeps the lower margin of the glass panel centrally located in the groove and thereby out of contact with the guide member.
For use as a silencer, the bearing surfaces of the bearing elements are formed from a resilient, wear-resistant material, the resilience being the factor by which the noise level due to the sliding action is kept to a minimum while the wear resistance being the factor by which each bearing surface has a relatively long operating life.
The bearing elements are simple in construction and can be easily mounted in place on the panel lower margin. The construction of the bearing elements is such that they are still operable for their intended purpose even though there are departures from desired specifications of the components of the shower door assembly, such as an error in the size or position of the grooved guide member. They are generally positioned, when in use, with their major portions concealed in the groove of the guide member so that the door has an attractive, workmanlike appearance. Moreover, the bearing elements are small enough so that any visible portions thereof on the panel lower margin will not detract from the aforesaid appearance.
Each bearing element is preferably a one-piece construction so that it can be formed by using well-known molding techniques. Also, it has fastening structure which extends through the panel lower margin and permits it to be readily snapped into place before the panel is installed in its vertical sliding position. By utilizing a pair of spaced bearing elements of relatively small size, a considerable saving in the amount of material required to accomplish this function can be realized. In the past, relatively long bearing strips have been used along the lower margin of a sliding frameless shower door. While such a strip is satisfactory, it requires a relatively large amount of material so that material costs are relatively high. Also, a relatively large surface area of the strip is in sliding contact with the grooved guide member at all times so that, when the door panel is moved, there is an appreciable amount of noise due to the sliding engagement of the strip on the guide member.
It is therefore the primary object of this invention to provide a sliding shower door of the frameless type wherein a pair of relatively small bearing elements of resilient, long-wearing material are releasably secured to the lower margin of the door to maintain the latter out of engagement with a grooved guide member which receives the lower margin of the door while at the same time the noise level due to the sliding action of the door is held to a minimum.
A further object of this invention is to provide a bearing element for a frameless glass shower door of the type described wherein the bearing element has a one-piece construction so that it can be formed from a molding process to simultaneously form the fastening means and the bearing surfaces therefor.
Still another object of this invention is to provide a frameless glass shower door of the sliding type having a bearing element of the aforesaid character on the lower margin thereof wherein the bearing elements can be quickly and easily snapped into place when the door is being assembled to thereby facilitate the installation of the door.
Still another object of this invention is to provide a bearing element of the aforesaid character having ribs on the opposed outer faces thereof for engaging the sides of the grooved guide member which receives the lower margin of the door and wherein the material forming the guide member can be reduced with a suitable tool to thereby allow the proper fitting of the bearing elements in the event that the width of the groove is below the required specifications.
Other objects of this invention will become apparent as the following specification progresses, reference being had to the accompanying drawing which illustrates a preferred embodiment of the invention.
IN THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a sliding glass shower door of this invention;
FIG. 2 is a vertical section through the shower door assembly illustrating both shower doors thereof;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged, fragmentary vertical section of one of the shower doors, and illustrating a bearing element on the lower margin thereof and partially within the groove of the guide member therebelow;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary horizontal section of one of the shower doors, illustrating the bearing element thereon;
FIG. 5 is an end elevational view of one of the bearing elements before it is snapped into place on the lower margin of a shower door; and
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary elevational view of the fastening means looking in the direction of FIG. 66 of FIG. 5.
The teachings of the present invention can be illustrated with reference to a sliding shower door assembly 10 including a pair of frameless glass doors or panels 12 and 14 mounted on a generally rectangular frame 16 for independent movement in parallel, generally vertical planes. Panels 12 and 14 can be formed from tempered glass, since this invention is especially adapted for this type of shower door. Tempered glass has been found suitable for this purpose since it has high impact strength and is free from damaging internal stresses due to temperature differences on the opposed faces thereof.
For purposes of illustration, frame 16 has an upper, inverted channel member 18 provided with spaced tracks 20 and 22 for supporting rollers 24 and 26 mounted on brackets 28 and 30 secured in any suitable manner to the upper margins of respective panels 12 and 14. A pair of spaced brackets and their rollers will be provided for each panel respectively to assure the necessary support and to allow the panel to be easily shifted from a closed position, as shown in FIG. 1, to an open position permitting access through frame 16.
Frame 16 is further provided with a lower channel section 32 having a pair of side-by-side channel portions defining guide members 34 and 36 for receiving the lower margins 38 and 40 of panels 12 and 14, respectively. Guide members 34 and 36 extend the full width of frame 16 and prevent lower margins 38 and 40 from swinging laterally out of the plane of frame 16.
Each of the panels 12 and I4 is provided with a pair of spaced bearing elements 42 at its lower margin. Each bearing element is formed of a one-piece construction from a moldable, ,resilient, wear-resistant material, such as a thermoplastic material. Nylon is suitable for this purpose, since it is long wearing and resilient.
Each bearing element has a central section 44 hingedly interconnected to a pair of side sections 46 and 48. Each side section has a rib 50 longitudinally extending which defines a bearing surface for engaging the proximal edge 52 of the corresponding guide member. Ribs 50 are in sliding engagement with edges 52 to maintain the lower margin of the corresponding panel centered in the guide member and thereby out of engagement with the latter. Since frame member 32 is usually of aluminum or other suitable metal, bearing elements 42 prevent a metal-to-glass contact.
Each element 42 further is provided with a pair of lines of weakness 54 defining the hinge means which interconnect side sections 46 and 48 with central section 44. Thus. the side sections can be moved into positions generally parallel with each other to define a U-shaped configuration for the bearing element. FIG. 3 illustrates the operative position of the bearing element when it is properly attached to a panel and FIG. 5 illustrates the positions of the side sections before they are moved toward each other and into the operative position of FIG. 3.
The lower margin of each panel is provided with a hole 56 therethrough for receiving a cylindrical projection 58 and a tubular extension 60 on the inner faces of side sections 46 and 48, respectively. Projection 58 is telescopically received within extension 60 and the latter is provided with internal ribs 62 which frictionally engage projection 58 and thereby releasably grip the latter. FIG. 3 illustrates the projection within the extension.
Bearing elements 42 are placed on the lower margins 38 and 40 of panels I2 and 14 before the panels are inserted in frame 16. It is merely necessary to snap the bearing elements in place with projections 58 telescopically received within extensions 60. Holes 56 are first drilled in panels 12 and 14 in any suitable manner.
The panels are then erected in the usuai manner by inserting the rollers 24 and 26 within upper frame member 18 at a distance above tracks 20 and 22 to permit the lower margins 38 and 40 of the panels to be inserted into respective guide members 34 and 36. The panels are then lowered and rollers 24 and 26 are supported by tracks 20 and 22. In this position, ribs 50 of elements 42 move into engagement or are in sufficiently close proximity to edges 52 of guide members 34 and 36 to prevent any substantial lateral movement of the panels relative to the plane offrame 16.
It may be necessary to shave off small portions of ribs 50 to provide the necessary fit. This is feasible since the material forming elements 42 can be effectively reduced, such as by the use of a scraping blade or the like. Thus, a good fit can be obtained even if certain of the components, such as frame member 32, are oversized or otherwise do not meet required specifications.
Elements 42 also compensate for errors in the positioning and size of frame member 32 inasmuch as ribs 50 extend substantially vertically and a major portion of the elements extend into respective guide members. Thus, a relatively large length of the ribs is available for engaging edges 52 and whether the lower margins of the panels extend into guide members 34 and 36 to a greater or lesser degree is of no consequence.
The resilient properties of elements 42 allow the same to appreciably muffle the sound due to the sliding action of the ribs along edges 52. Also, a minimum amount of surface area of the ribs is in engagement with the edges to further decrease the noise level due to the sliding action. Moreover, only a relatively small area of each bearing element is normally visible above frame member 32. Thus, the bearing elements do not detract from the overall attractive and workmanlike appearance of the shower door assembly 10.
The material forming the bearing elements has a relatively long operating life, however, if replacement is deemed necessary the old element can be separated from its panel and replaced by a new element in a minimum of time. It may be necessary only to lift each panel slightly to effect removal of the worn bearing element and the replacement of a new one.
While one embodiment of the invention has been shown and described, it will be apparent that other adaptations and modifications can be made without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention.
What is claimed is:
1. In a sliding glass shower door assembly: a frameless glass door having a lower margin and movable in a generally vertical plane; a guide member having a pair of spaced, longitudinally extending side surfaces defining a groove in said plane, the lower margin of said door being received within and movable longitudinally of said groove; a pair of bearing elements secured to said lower margin at spaced locations thereon, each bearing element being formed of a resilient material and being U-shaped to define a bight and a pair of sides hingedly coupled to said bight, the bight extending across the lower marginal edge of the door and the sides extending upwardly from said marginal edge, each side having a rib projecting outwardly therefrom, the ribs defining bearing surfaces for respective sides of the door, said door having an opening therethrough at each of said locations; and means on the inner surfaces of said sides and extending through the corresponding opening of said door for releasably interconnecting the sides to thereby maintain the same in respective operative positions with said ribs thereof being spaced laterally from respective sides of the door and disposed in proximity to the proximal side surfaces of said guide member to maintain said lower margin of said door out of engagement with said guide member as the door is moved in said plane.
2. In an assembly as set forth in claim 1, wherein said interconnecting means includes a projection on one side of the element and a tubular extension on the other side, said projection being removably receivable in and frictionally engageable with said extension.
3. In a sliding glass shower door assembly: a frameless glass door having a lower margin and movable in a generally vertical plane; a guide member having a pair of spaced, longitudinally extending side surfaces defining a groove in said plane, the lower margin of said door being received within and movable longitudinally of said groove; a pair of bearing elements, each element being formed of resilient material and being U- shaped to define a bight and a pair of sides, said element being secured to and in engagement with said lower margin at spaced locations thereon with the bight of each element extending across the lower marginal edge of the door and the sides of each element extending upwardly from said edge, each side having a rib projecting outwardly therefrom to define a bearing surface therefor, the ribs being spaced laterally from respective sides of the door and disposed in proximity to the proximal side surfaces of said guide member to maintain said lower margin of said door out of engagement with said guide member as the door is moved in said plane.
4. In an assembly as set forth in claim 3, wherein said sides of each element are hingedly coupled to said bight, and means on the inner surfaces of said sides for holding the latter in respective, operative positions extending upwardly from said lower marginal edge.
5. As an article of manufacture, a bearing element comprising: a body formed from an initially straight segment of resilient material, the body having a central section and a pair of side sections integral with and hinged to the central section and being provided with a pair of spaced, transverse lines of weakness defining the hinged junctions between the central section and the side sections to permit the body to assume a substantially U-shaped configuration with the side sections in positions substantially parallel to each other, whereby each side section presents an inner face in facing relationship to the other side section and an outer face opposite to said inner face; means on the inner faces of said side sections for releasably interconnecting the same when said side sections are in said positions; and means defining a bearing surface on and projecting outwardly from the outer face of each side section, respectively.
6. As an article of manufacture, a bearing element comprising: a body of resilient material having a central section and a pair of side sections integral with said central section, the side sections being hinged to respective, opposed ends of said central section to permit said body to assume a substantially U- shaped configuration with the side sections in positions substantially parallel to each other, whereby each side section presents an inner face in facing relationship to the other side section and an outer face opposite to said inner face; a projection on the inner face of one of the side sections and a tubular extension on the inner face of the other side section for telescopically receiving the projection when the side sections are substantially parallel to each other, said extension having means therewithin for wedging and thereby frictionally engaging said projection when the latter is telescoped in said extension; and means defining a bearing surface on and projecting outwardly from the outer face of each side section, respectively.