|Publication number||US3726578 A|
|Publication date||Apr 10, 1973|
|Filing date||Nov 12, 1971|
|Priority date||Nov 12, 1971|
|Publication number||US 3726578 A, US 3726578A, US-A-3726578, US3726578 A, US3726578A|
|Original Assignee||Gen Electric|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (6), Referenced by (35), Classifications (17)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent 1 Armstrong Apr. 10, 1973 CONVERTIBLE SIDE-BY-SIDE 2 I? REE IHGERATOR 2:976:l0l 3/1961  Inventor: William J. Armstrong, Jeiferson- 3,3 11/1967 town, Ky. 3,397,934 8/1968  Assignee: General Electric Company v Primary ExaminerJames T. McCall  Filed 1971 Attorney-Walter E.,Rule et al.  Appl. No.: 198,171
 ABSTRACT E3 i "312/ 312/3 A household refrigerator cabinet including a partition d 351 205 dividing the interior of the cabinet into generally side- 1 0 re by-side freezer and fresh food compartments, the 312/114 21 1/150 upper end section of the partition being movable between vertical and horizontal positions to vary the  References Cited relative widths of either of the two compartments.
UNITED STATES PATENTS '7 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures 3,264,049 8/1966 Peterson ..3l2/351 CONVERTIBLE SIDE-BY-SIDE REFRIGERATOR BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION For a number of years there have been available on the market side-by-side refrigerator-freezer combinations in which the total storage volume within the cabinet is divided into a full height freezer compartment and a full height fresh food compartment by a vertically extending partition. A disadvantage of such refrigerators is the limited widths or horizontal dimensions of the compartment, particularly in side-by-side refrigerators small enough to fit in the usual refrigerator nooks or spaces available in most kitchens. Re gardless of the positioning of the partition, the widths of the two compartments may be insufficient to store large frozen items such as frozen turkeys or relatively wide items such as platters or trays of food. This is a source of irritation for users accustomed to the full width storage areas of refrigerators in which the freezer and fresh food compartments are one above the other.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is the general object of the present invention to provide a side-by-side refrigerator including movable partition means for varying the storage width of one or the other of the compartments.
In accordance with the illustrated embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a refrigerator cabinet comprising side, top and bottom walls defining a storage volume or chamber having an access opening at the front thereof and a vertical partition dividing the chamber into separate storage compartments. The partition includes a stationary lower section and a movable or pivotable upper end section movable between a vertical position and either of two horizontal positions so as to vary the storage width of one or the other of the compartments. This movable section is preferably of a length such that in its vertical position it engages the top wall of the cabinet and in either of its two horizon tal positions it engages a side wall of the cabinet. Thus, the horizontal positions of the movable section provide either a full width freezer or full width fresh food storage area. The cabinet also includes four symmetrical access doors in the form of upper and lower pairs of doors, the upper pair of doors providing access to the variable width portion of the cabinet.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING In the accompanying drawing:
FIG. 1 is an elevational view, partly in section, of a refrigerator embodying the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a view of a portion of the interior of the cabinet of FIG. 1 with the adjustable partition in a vertical position;
FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 2 with the adjustable partition section in a horizontal position;
FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrating the air flow pattern provided in the cabinet;
FIG. 5 is a sectional view of a portion of the refrigerator cabinet taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 6 illustrates one form of pivoting means for the movable partition section; and
FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 6 illustrating the operation of the hinge means.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT tion 8 which is pivotally movable between a vertical position as illustrated in FIG. 2 of the drawing to either of two horizontal positions illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4 of the drawing.
Any suitable means may be provided for pivotally supporting the movable end section 8 on the upper end of the fixed or stationary partition section 7, one suitable means being illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7 of the drawing as comprising a hinge pin 10 extending from within the upper portion of the partition section 7 into the lower portion of the partition section 8 and including a horizontally extending arm 11 riding in a yoke 12 forming part of the partition 8. A spring 14 on the lower end of the pin 10 biases this element in a downward direction and hence holds the lower end of the movable partition member 8 into engagement with the upper end of the partition section 7. The spring 14 also provides means whereby the pin 10 can move upwardly as illustrated in FIG. 7 of the drawing to permit the movable section 8 to be manually pivoted from the vertical position illustrated in FIG. 6 to a horizontal position as illustrated in FIG. 7 of the drawing.
Preferably, the partition is positioned midway between the side walls 3 and 4 so that compartments 5 and 6 are of equal widths and the length of the movable partition 8 is such that the free or upper end 18 of the movable section which is provided with a suitable sealing gasket 19 will engage the top wall 1 when the section 8 is in its vertical position as illustrated in FIG. 2 of the drawing or one or the other of the two side walls 3 and 4 when the vertical partition is in either of its horizontal positions. Thus, in the horizontal positions of the movable section, one or the other compartment is of an inverted L-shape with the horizontal part of full cabinet width.
For the purpose of cooling the storage compartments 5 and 6, there is provided the usual evaporator chamber 20 rearwardly of the freezer compartment 5 and containing the usual evaporator 21 forming part of a refrigeration system in accordance with the usual household refrigerator practice. A fan 22 at the upper end of the evaporator chamber 20 draws freezer compartment air into the evaporator chamber through a passage 24 and fresh food air from the compartment 6 through a duct 25 and discharges below-freezing air into the freezer compartment through outlets 26 and to the fresh food compartment 6 through outlet 27.
In order to accommodate the air flow pattern to any position of the adjustable partition section, the outlets 26 and 27 are adjacent but below the upper end of the fixed or stationary partition section 7, and the air supply outlets 26 for freezer air are preferably angled as shown in FIG. 4 of the drawing in order to direct freezer air into the entire upper portion of the freezer compartment 5 when the horizontal partition is in a position providing an inverted L-shaped freezer compartment.
The access opening to the refrigerator is closed by four rectangular doors including an upper pair of doors 28 and 29 and a lower pair of doors 30 and 31 having their mating edges in line with the partition sections. The lower doors 30 and 31 have their mating vertical edges in line with the stationary partition section 7. The upper edges 33 of the lower pair of doors and the lower edges 34 of the upper doors are in line with the horizontal positions of the partition section 8 while their vertical edges 35 mate at the vertical position of the movable section 8.
The edges of the doors 28, 29, 30 and 31 are also provided with the usual gasketing means for sealing the spaces between the adjacent doors or between the doors and the base portion of the partition 7 or 8. Such sealing means is illustrated in FIG. 5 of the drawing as including compression gaskets 40 on the doors for sea]- ing engagement with the front edge of an adjacent partition portion such as the partition front edge: 41 and also magnetic gaskets 42 for sealing the space between adjacent door edges of the doors 28 and 29 when the partition 8 is not in position to be engaged by the compression gaskets 40.
It will of course be understood that each of the compartments 5 and 6 are also provided with the usual storage shelves (not shown) extending the width of the two storage compartments, i.e., between the side walls 3 and 4 and the stationary partition section 7. In addition, there is also provided a removable, preferably cantilever supported, shelf 44 adapted to be supported on either a side wall or the rear wall of the cabinet for bridging the space between a side wall and the adjacent edge of the movable partition section 8 when the partition section 8 is in either of its two horizontal positions. This shelf 44 is preferably a wire shelf permitting the circulation of air therethrough from the outlets 26. It, in effect, forms an extension of the supporting surfaces provided by the horizontal movable partition 8 when it is in a horizontal position as illustrated in FIG. 4 of the drawing. By this arrangement, the partition 8 and the shelf 44 cooperate to form a full width storage area at the upper end of either the freezer compartment as illustrated in FIG. 4 of the drawing or the fresh food compartment as illustrated in FIG. 3 of the drawing. Thus, this refrigerator design allows the user to change the interior storage space to provide a full width storage area, at the users option, in either the fresh food or the freezer compartment or a larger total storage volume in either compartment. By providing four access doors, access can be obtained to any of the storage volumes with minimum loss of refrigerated air from the cabinet. For example, only the upper doors 28 and 29 need be opened for access to the full width storage area, thereby eliminating loss of refrigerated air from the main portions of the two storage compartments.
While there has been shown and described a particular embodiment of the present invention,'it is to be understood that it is not limited thereto, and it is intended by the appended claims to cover all such modifications as fall] within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
1. A refrigerator cabinet comprising side, top and bottom walls defining a storage chamber having an access at the front thereof and a vertical partition dividing said chamber into separate storage compartments, said partition including a stationary vertical section and a movable end section movable between a vertical position and a horizontal position for varying the relative width of one of said compartments;
said partition being midway between said side walls and said end section being movable to either of two horizontal positions bridging the space between said partition and a side wall.
2. A refrigerator according to claim 1 including a plurality of doors for closing the access opening of said chamber, said doors having mating edges aligned with said stationary vertical section and said movable end section in each of its positions.
3. A refrigerator according to claim 2 having four doors.
4. A refrigerator according to claim 2 including gasket sealing means for sealing the spaces between opposed door edges adjacent each position to said movable end section.
5. A refrigerator according to claim 1 including an evaporator chamber in the rear of one of said compartments adjacent said stationary vertical section and air circulating means for circulating cooled air from said chamber to both of said compartments in any position of said movable end section.
6. A refrigerator according to claim 5 in which said one of said compartments is a below-freezing compartment.
7. A refrigerator according to claim 6 in which said air circulating means includes means for introducing a stream of cooled air from said evaporator into said freezer compartment at a point below the horizontal level of said movable section and adjacent the upper portion of said stationary section.
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|U.S. Classification||312/407, 62/329, 312/313, 312/351, 62/419|
|International Classification||F25D23/00, F25D23/08, F25D17/06|
|Cooperative Classification||F25D17/062, F25D2400/16, Y02B40/34, F25D2400/06, F25D23/087, F25D23/00|
|European Classification||F25D17/06A, F25D23/00, F25D23/08B2|