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Publication numberUS3720432 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 13, 1973
Filing dateJun 14, 1971
Priority dateJun 14, 1971
Publication numberUS 3720432 A, US 3720432A, US-A-3720432, US3720432 A, US3720432A
InventorsM Chudler
Original AssigneePrudential Lighting Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Latch mechanism
US 3720432 A
Abstract
A latch mechanism for use in releasably supporting one side or end of a hingedly mounted frame which may be disposed in a suspended ceiling below a utility device such as a light fixture, air vent, or the like. The suspended ceiling generally comprises a grid of inverted T-shaped beams defining a plurality of generally rectangular openings in which ceiling tiles are disposed and, at selected locations, the utility device may be positioned above the rectangular opening with the frame disposed in the opening and with the frame supporting a panel such as a light fixture lens, grill, or the like. Access to the utility device requires removal of the frame and the panel it supports and the latch mechanism disclosed herein provides a quick and convenient means by which a person standing below the utility device may obtain access thereto by simply elevating the panel relative to the frame so as to actuate the mechanism effecting release and permitting the end of the frame to swing downwardly about its hinged opposite side or end. The latch is biased to the operative supporting position so that the frame and panel may be returned to the latched position by simply swinging the free end of the frame and panel upwardly to automatically effect the latching.
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llnited States Patent 1 1 @hudler 1March 13, 1973 I LATCH MECHANISM [75] Inventor: Morris Chudler, Van Nuys, Calif.

[73] Assignee: Prudential Lighting Corporation, Los Angeles, Calif.

[22] Filed: June 14,1971

[21] Appl. No.: 152,871

[5 6] References Cited UNITED STATES-PATENTS 11/1964 Wince ..292/DlG. 4

1,738,531 12/1929 Grace ..292/D1G. 4 3,383,811 5/1968 Ades ..52/484 X Primary ExaminerRichard E. Moore Attorney-Miketta, Glenny, Poms & Smith 571 ABSTRACT A latch mechanism for use in releasably supporting I one side or end of a hingedly mounted frame which may be disposed in a suspended ceiling below a utility device such as a light fixture, air vent, or the like. The suspended ceiling generally comprises a grid of inverted T-shaped beams defining a plurality of generally rectangular openings in which ceiling tiles are disposed and, at selected locations, the utility device may be positioned above the rectangular opening with the frame disposed in the-opening and with the frame supporting a panel such as a light fixture lens, grill, or the like. Access to the utility device requires removal of the frame and the panel it supports and the latch mechanism disclosed herein provides a quick and convenient means by which a person standing below the utility device may obtain access thereto by simply elevating the panel relative to the frame so as to actuate the mechanism effecting release and permitting the end of the frame to swing downwardly about its hinged opposite side or end. The latch is biased to the operative supporting position so that the frame and panel may be returned to the latched position by simply swinging the free end of the frame and panel upwardly to automatically effect the latching.

6 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures LATCH MECHANISM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND PRIOR ART:

tioning and heating or ventilating ducts are disposed, lo

recessed lighting fixtures are mounted, and other equipment may be concealed from persons below the suspended ceiling. The grid generally comprises a plurality of inverted T-shaped beams which define rectangular openings in which ceiling tiles are disposed. At the desired location for a ventilating duct opening or a lighting fixture, the rectangular opening defined by the beams is left open beneath the utility device and a frame is provided which supports a panel. For example, where a lighting fixture is provided, the troffer or can of the fixture may be supported by the ceiling beams with the fluorescent light disposed therein and the panel will comprise a plastic or glass lens for diffusing or otherwise controlling the light rays emanating from the fluorescent bulbs.

It is obviously desirable to provide easy access to the utility device disposed above the frame and panel in such installations as described above and various prior art devices have been used for latching the frame and/or panel into place and releasing the frame and/or panel to permit access by a person within the room and below the suspended ceiling. For example, it is continually necessary for proper maintenance of a building to replace burned out fluorescent bulbs from a lighting fixture which requires a maintenance man to set up a ladder below the fixture and to obtain access to the bulbs for replacement. It is highly desirable to provide a latch mechanism which permits quick and easy access to the utility device and it is correspondingly necessary to provide a latching device or mechanism which permits such easy and quick access.

For aesthetic purposes, it is deemed generally desirable to provide a latch mechanism which is concealed or hidden from a person in the room with the suspended ceiling and thus access to the latch mechanism to effect that any of the prior art latch mechanisms known successfully overcome the above-described problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In view of the above-described background and problems of prior art latch mechanisms, it is a general object of the present invention to provide a latch mechanism for use in releasably supporting a removable frame and panel employed in a suspended ceiling system which provides rapid, simple, and convenient access to a utility device positioned above the frame and panel. Another object of the present invention is to provide such latch mechanism wherein the latch mechanism is entirely concealed and in which release may be effected by simply raising or elevating the panel supported by the frame which actuates the latch mechanism and effects the release. Still another object of the present invention is to provide such latch mechanism which is economical, reliable, capable of mass production, and which includes extruded components.

release in itself becomes a problem. It is not believed I Generally stated, the present invention provides a latch mechanism for facilitating the installation and removal of a frame and panel forming a portion of a suspended ceiling which comprises a grid of inverted T- shaped beams defining a plurality of rectangular openings in which ceiling tiles are disposed or above which utility devices such as lighting fixtures or ventilating duct openings or the like are disposed, the frame beneath the utility device being supported by the beams and carrying the vertically displaceable panel, each frame being generally rectangular and including side and end members of generally inverted T-shape with a vertical web and integral horizontal flanges, one side or end member of the frame being hingedly supported from an adjacent suspended ceilingbeam, the opposite side or end member carrying the latch mechanism for cooperating with an adjacent ceiling beam, and the latch mechanism comprising an inverted generally V-shap'ed member pivotally carried adjacent its apex by the upper end of the inverted T-shaped frame member so as to have one leg disposed inwardly and downwardly and terminating above the vertically displaceable panel with the other leg disposed outwardly and downwardly and including means for biasing the outwardly disposed leg outwardly so as to terminate above and rest upon the horizontal flange of the adjacent ceiling beams thus normally supporting the panel in position and which may be released by vertically displacing the panel so as to engage the inwardly extending leg of .the V-shaped member to pivot the V- shaped member thereby moving the other leg inwardly away from the beam horizontal flange allowing the panel to be moved downwardly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a top elevation view of a utility device supported above a suspended ceiling and having a removable frame with an exemplary embodiment of a latch mechanism constructed in accordance with the present invention shown at two locations;

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view taken along the plane [1-11 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view taken along the plane III-III of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of biasing means of the exemplary latch mechanism;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the V-shaped member of the latch mechanism of the exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 6 is a partial view showing the latch mechanism of the exemplary embodiment in a released position; and

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view taken along the plane VII-VII of FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT:

Referring now to the drawing, and particularly to FIG. 1, there is shown a portion of a suspended ceiling including a grid of inverted T-shaped beams 10 (see FIG. 2) which are suitably supported from the structural ceiling in a manner well known in the art. The grid defines a'plurality of rectangular openings in which ceiling or acoustical tile such as that indicated in phantom lines in FIGS. 1 and 2 are supported by the ceiling beams 10 so as to comprise the major portion of the suspended ceiling. At certain locations in the ceiling, it may be desirable to position a lighting fixture in the rectangular opening defined by the ceiling beams or to provide a heating, air conditioning, or ventilating duct opening for entry or discharge of air. Such utility device is disposed in the soffit between the suspended and structural ceilings and may be supported, at least in part, by the ceiling beams 10. The latch mechanism of the present invention will be disclosed and described in connection with a lighting fixture such as that illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 and which may include a troffer or can 11 in which the fluorescent bulbs 12 are disposed and which may be supported from the ceiling beams and/or otherwise supported by a suitable fastening arrangement indicated generally at 23 directly from the structural ceiling. With reference to FIG. 2, it will be noted that the troffer sidewalls are provided with inturned flanges which rest on the inner horizontal flange of the ceiling beam 10 but it should be understood that the presence of such inturned flange is of no significance to the present invention and the latch mechanism which will be described may cooperate with such flange or the horizontal flange of the beam itself.

Beneath the lighting fixture, there is disposed a frame as seen best in FIG. 1 including side members 13 and 14 and end members 15 and 16. The frame side and end members have an identical configuration and are preferably formed from extruded aluminum and assembled to form a frame having mitered corners as shown. The frame is disposed beneath the plane of the horizontal flange members of the ceiling beams, as seen best in FIG. 2, and supports a panel or lens 17 which is free for limited vertical displacement but which is held down by a plurality of plastic hold-down clips 22 as seen in FIG. 1. Such clips are well known in the art and further description is deemed unnecessary.

The frame is hingedly mounted from the ceiling beams by a hinge also well known in the art which, as seen best in FIG. 2, includes a support arm 18 supported from the sidewall of the troffer and extending inwardly and which is attached to one end of a ball chain 19 at its outer end, the other end of the ball chain being disposed in the hinge member 20 mounted on the frame member 14 and including a leg 21 which is supported by an adjacent ceiling beam. It should be understood that the hinge mechanism fonns no part of the present invention and the latch mechanism of this invention may be used in cooperation with other types of hinge devices or without any such hinge device at all.

Since all of the frame members are identical, it will be necessary to describe only one of such frame members in detail. Each such frame member includes a vertical web 25, an inwardly extending flange 26, an outwardly extending flange 27 which includes an inturned portion 28 defining a recess 29 and which may support a further outwardly extending decorative portion 30. The upper end of the vertical web includes an inset portion 31 and terminates in a longitudinally extending cylindrical head 32.

In the exemplary embodiment, the latch mechanism comprises a generally V-shaped member 35 having a longitudinally extending C-shaped opening 36 at approximately the apex of the V-shaped member and an inwardly and downwardly extending leg 37 terminating in a tab 38. The other leg 39 extends outwardly and downwardly so that legs 37 and 39 are disposed on opposite longitudinal sides of the T-shaped member 13 when the opening 36 has been slid over the cylindrical bead 32 of the frame member to provide a pivotal mounting. As seen in FIG. 2, the inset portion 31 of the frame member 13 provides a stop shoulder for pivotal movement of the V-shaped member in the outward direction (clockwise as viewed in FIG. 2).

The latch mechanism of the present invention also includes, in the exemplary embodiment, biasing means such as the spring 40 shown best in FIG. 4. Spring 40 includes a longitudinally extending base portion 41 and a pair of longitudinally spaced apart stop arms 42, 43 which, when the spring is positioned in relation to the T-shaped frame member are disposed adjacent of the web 25 thereof. The upper ends of the stop arms 42, 43 are bent outwardly so that regardless of the pivotal position of the V-shaped latch member 35 the stop arms will restrict or limit movement of the V-shaped latch member disposed therebetween from longitudinal sliding movement as seen in FIG. 3. Disposed intermediate the stop arms 42, 43 the spring 40 is provided with a spring arm 44 extending upwardly and outwardly from the base portion 41 so as to bias the leg 39 of the V-shaped member in an outward direction. At the lower end of the base portion 41 and integral therewith there is provided a foot portion 45 which extends outwardly and away from the web 25 of the T-shaped member 13 and into the recess 29 of the T-shaped frame member. At each end of the foot portion 45, there is provided upturned pointed ears 46 which engage the upper wall 28 of the recess to prevent movement of the spring 40 relative to the T-shaped frame member 13. The spring 40 is assembled with respect to the frame member by locating its desired longitudinal position and inserting the foot portion .45 partially into the recess 29 at which time the heel or juncture between the base portion 41 and foot portion 45 will engage the outer surface of the web 25. By exerting a pressure on the stop arms 42, 43 and spring arm 44 the spring will slightly deflect and force the foot portion 45 further into the recess 29 such that the pointed ears 46 will engage the recess wall 28 with continuous pressureand thus prevent relative movement between the spring and frame member.

The assembly of the elements will be apparent from the drawings and the operation of the latch mechanism is as follows. Referring to FIG. 2, the frame is shown in its installed position in which one side is supported by the hinge means and the other side is supported by the latch mechanism, more particularly, the arm 39 supported by the horizontal flange member of the ceiling beam 10. The arm 39 is biased to this position by the spring arm 45 and is maintained in such position during installation. To release the latch mechanism and permit access to the light fixture by allowing the frame and panel to swing or hinge downwardly, it is merely necessary to press upwardly on the lens 17, as shown in FIG. 6, so as to vertically displace the lens which contacts the projection 38 on leg 37 pivoting the V-shaped latch member 35 into the position shown in FIG. 6 wherein the leg 39 is substantially vertical and is not disposed above the flange of the beam thus allowing that end of the frame to move downwardly and to swing around the hinge means. Upon release of the panel 17, the spring arm 45 will again bias the leg 39 to its outward position.

The frame may be reinstalled by positioning the members 21 on the hinge means 20 for support on the horizontal flange of the adjacent ceiling beam and then pivoting the entire frame member and panel into position. As the frame member moves into position, contact between the leg 39 of the latch mechanism and the inner edge of the beam flange will automatically pivot the latch member 35 in a counter-clockwise direction as viewed in FIGS. 2 and 6 until the end of the leg 39 is above the beam flange at which time the spring will force the leg outwardly to the supporting position as shown in FIG. 2.

From the above description of an exemplary embodiment of a latch mechanism constructed in accordance with the present invention, it will be apparent that the invention provides means for quick and ready access to a utility device psoitioned above a removable frame installed in a suspended ceiling by cooperation with the inverted T-shaped beams forming a part of the ceiling. Other modifications and variations of the present invention will be apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art from the above description of the structure and operation of the present invention and all such modifications and variations are deemed to come within the scope of the present invention.

I claim:

1. In a suspended ceiling including a grid of inverted T-shaped beams having horizontal flanges and defining generally rectangular openings in the ceiling in which ceiling tiles may be disposed or above which utility devices such as lighting fixtures, ventilating duct openings or the like are disposed, each of the utility devices having a frame supported by the beams and carrying a vertically displaceable panel or grill, each frame being generally rectangular and including side and end members each having a generally inverted T- shape with a vertical web and integral horizontal flanges, one side or end member of the frame being hingedly supported from an adjacent suspended ceiling beam, the combination therewith of a latch mechanism carried by an opposite side or end member of the frame from said hingedly supported side or end member for cooperation with an adjacent ceiling beam, comprising:

an inverted generally V-shaped member pivotally carried adjacent its apex by the upper end of said inverted T-shaped frame member and having an inward leg disposed downwardly and terminating above the vertically displaceable panel and an outward leg disposed downwardly adjacent said ceiling beam; and

means for biasing said outward leg outwardly from said inverted T-shaped frame member so as to terminate above a horizontal flange of the adjacent ceiling beam, whereby said outward leg normally rests on the horizontal flange of the T-shaped ceiling beam and supports the frame and panel in position and is released by vertically displacing the panel so as to engage the inward leg of the V- shaped member thereby moving the outward leg inwardly away from the ceiling beam horizontal flange allowing the panel to be moved downwardly.

2. In the suspended ceiling of claim 1 wherein said inverted T-shaped frame members are extruded and include a longitudinally extending cylindrical head at the upper end of the vertical web, and said latch mechanism being further defined by said V-shaped latch member being extruded with a longitudinally extending C-shaped opening for slidably receiving the frame member cylindrical bead.

3. In the suspended ceiling of claim ll, said biasing means of said latch mechanism comprising a spring.

4. In the suspended ceiling of claim 3, said latch mechanism further comprising means for restricting longitudinal sliding movement of said spring and V shaped latch member.

5. In the suspended ceiling of claim 4 wherein the outer edge of the horizontal flange of said frame member includes a longitudinally extending inturned lip, and said latch mechanism means for restricting longitudinal sliding movement comprises a longitudinally extending base member of said spring, a pair of longitudinally spaced vertical stop arms extending upwardly from said base member adjacent the outer surface of said web, a spring arm extending upwardly and outwardly from said base portion between said vertical stop arms, and a foot portion extending laterally outwardly from said base portion and including a pair of spaced apart upturned pointed ears for engaging a wall of said recess to prevent longitudinal sliding of said spring relative to said frame member and said V-shaped latch member positioned'between said stop arms to restrict its longitudinal movement relative to said frame member.

6. A latch mechanism for facilitating the installation and removal of a frame from a grid of horizontal flanges forming a portion of a suspended ceiling, comprising:

an inverted T-shaped member having a vertical web and integral horizontal flanges forming a part of said frame, said T-shaped member having a longitudinally extending cylindrical bead at the upper end of the vertical web,

an inverted generally V-shaped member having a longitudinally extending C-shaped opening at its apex for rotatable cooperation with the cylindrical bead on said T-shaped member web and having an inward leg depending downwardly on one side of said web and terminating at a location vertically spaced above the horizontal flange of said member and an outward leg depending downwardly from said apex on the other side of said web and having a terminal end adapted for engaging an upwardly facing surface of said grid of horizontal flanges of the suspended ceiling, and

means for biasing the terminal end of said outward leg outwardly from said member web, whereby said frame member may be disposed with the outward leg of said V-shaped member resting on the upper surface of a flange of said ceiling grid so as to support said frame and a panel resting on the inward flange of said frame member and may be released by vertically displacing the panel so as to engage the inward leg of the V-shaped member thereby moving the terminal end of the outward leg toward said member web and away from the horizontal flange of said grid allowing the frame and panel to be moved downwardly.

Patent Citations
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US1738531 *Jun 30, 1924Dec 10, 1929Gamewell CoKey and lever guard for fire-alarm boxes
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3828507 *May 7, 1973Aug 13, 1974Burgess Products Co LtdFalse ceiling systems
US4161019 *May 2, 1977Jul 10, 1979Mulvey Gerard ELighting fixture
US4175281 *Aug 22, 1978Nov 20, 1979Esquire, Inc.Ceiling mounted support structure
US4410931 *Sep 23, 1981Oct 18, 1983International Telephone And Telegraph CorporationRetention device for lighting fixture cover
US4520607 *May 18, 1983Jun 4, 1985Stahlkonstruktionen Suckow & FischerReleasable resilient mounting assembly for panel members
US5024034 *Dec 1, 1989Jun 18, 1991Alcan Aluminum CorporationNon-directional suspended ceiling panels
US5664384 *Apr 26, 1996Sep 9, 1997Cullinan; James E.Screening device
US6116749 *Jun 3, 1998Sep 12, 2000Spaulding Lighting, Inc.Canopy luminaire assembly
US6149280 *Feb 5, 1999Nov 21, 2000Spaulding Lighting, Inc.Method and apparatus for retrofitting canopy luminaire assemblies
US6264344Dec 17, 1999Jul 24, 2001Spaulding Lighting, Inc.Canopy luminaire assembly
US6276818Feb 9, 2000Aug 21, 2001Hubbell IncorporatedLatch assembly for luminaire housing door
US6367945Mar 5, 2001Apr 9, 2002Spalding Lighting, Inc.Canopy luminaire assembly
US7000362Apr 30, 2003Feb 21, 2006Cullinan James EScreening device
US7338182Sep 13, 2005Mar 4, 2008Oldenburg Group IncorporatedLighting fixture housing for suspended ceilings and method of installing same
US7607796 *Feb 23, 2006Oct 27, 2009NormaluHousing comprising an invisible stiffener
US7673430Aug 10, 2006Mar 9, 2010Koninklijke Philips Electronics, N.VRecessed wall-wash staggered mounting system
US7707798Feb 20, 2006May 4, 2010Cullinan James EScreening device
US7856788Jan 29, 2010Dec 28, 2010Genlyte Thomas Group LlcRecessed wall-wash staggered mounting method
US8057077Dec 20, 2006Nov 15, 2011Canlyte Inc.Support device
US8752911 *Jul 15, 2008Jun 17, 2014Thomson LicensingElectronic apparatus and associated disassembly release tool
US20110115349 *Jul 15, 2008May 19, 2011William Philip DernierElectronic apparatus and associated disassembly release tool
Classifications
U.S. Classification292/220, 52/506.6, 362/374, 362/365
International ClassificationE04B9/00
Cooperative ClassificationF21Y2103/00, E04B9/003, F21S8/026
European ClassificationE04B9/00B