US 3726581 A
A support means for a rack, such as a dish-supporting rack in a front-opening dishwasher cabinet, includes means for manually adjusting the level of the rack in accordance with the size of the items to be placed on the adjustable rack or on a rack vertically adjacent thereto. Each side of the adjustable rack is preferably adjustable between upper and lower positions, and adjustment of the side from an upper position to a lower one is a particularly rapid operation accomplished by manually releasing a locking means whereby the rack side will move downwardly to its lowermost position.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
lmited States Doepke RACK LEVEL ADJUS 2 '31-? NT APPARATUS IN AN APPLIANCE CABINET Donald G. H. Doepke, Greenfield, Wis.
 Assignee: General Electric Company, Louisville, Ky.
22 Filed: June 1, 171
21 App1.No.: 148,846
 US. Cl. ..312/351, 312/311, 312/334  Int. Cl. ..A47b 88/04  FieldofSearch ..312/3l1,351,312;
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,560,069 2/1971 Doepke ..312/351 1,841,152 1/1932 Racz 297/358 2,541,434 2/1951 Nelson et aL... 248/274 2,772,901 l2/1956 Rothel ..287/3 [4 1 Apr. 10, 1973 3,472,573 10/1969 Geiger ..312/351 3,614,187 10/1972 Cuthbert ..312/351 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 531,413 7/1931 Germany ..248/408 Primary Examiner-James T. McCall Attorney-George C. Atwell, Francis H. Boos, Jr., Frank L. Neuhauser, Oscar B. Waddell and Joseph B Forman ABSTRACT A support means for a rack, such as a dish-supporting rack in a front-opening dishwasher cabinet, includes means for manually adjusting the level of the rack in accordance with the size of the items to be placed on the adjustable rack or on a rack vertically adjacent thereto. Each side of the adjustable rack is preferably adjustable between upper and lower positions, and adjustment of the side from an upper position to a lower one is a particularly rapid operation accomplished by manually releasing a locking means whereby the rack side will move downwardly to its lowermost position.
8 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures PATENTEU 3.726.581
SHEET 1 0r 2 INVENTOR DONALD G. H. DOEPKE h BY 6 H \s ATTORNEY PATENTED 1 01975 SHEET 2 [IF 2 F'lGA FIG 7 INVENTOR DONALD e H. DOEPKE M 0 M H \S ATTORNEY RACK LEVEL ADJUSTMENT APPARATUS IN AN APPLIANCE CABINET BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to a shelf or rack supporting structure in an appliance cabinet and particularly pertains to apparatus for shifting or adjusting such a rack from one predetermined level or position to another to thereby provide more effective use of available space within the cabinet. The invention is believed particularly useful in an automatic dishwasher of the front-loading type.
The conventional non-adjustable arrangement of an upper rack in a dishwasher wash chamber if generally suitable when washing the average load of dishes; however, there are times when it is desirable to place unusually large items in the wash chamber, and the space between lower and upper racks is not sufficient to enable loading and washing of large platters or cookie sheets, etc., in the preferred on-edge position therein. Moreover, the between the upper rack and the top wall of the machines wash chamber often will not permit the placing of tall glasses or longstemmed crystalware therein.
In U.S. Pat. No. 2,560,069, issued Feb. 2, 1971, the inventor of the present invention disclosed rack adjustment means provided in combination with the slidable support means of an upper rack in a front-opening dishwasher. The assembly disclosed in the patent includes the use of spaced-apart brackets on the side of the rack. Each bracket has a curved slot provided therein and forms an arcuate-shaped trackway in the bracket. A horizontally-disposed stub shaft extends through the trackway of each bracket. The level of the upper rack is vertically adjusted by manipulating the rack to thereby reposition the trackway of .each bracket relative to the stub shaft extending therethrough. Adjustment of the rack side from its lower position to the upper position involves lifting the rack upwardly and then a short distance in a horizontal direction to facilitate movement of the bracket trackway on the stub shaft associated therewith. It has been found in practice that such adjustment can be difficult for an operator to perform if the simple mechanical concept involved is not fully understood, particularly since the racket is also preferably arranged to be manually slidable to and from the wash chamber.
The present invention comprehends the retention of certain advantages offered in an adjustment assembly such as that disclosed in the aforementioned patent while providing apparatus that is comparatively simpler to operate. A particular advantage of the present invention is that it does not require, when adjusting the rack side from the upper to a lower position, that the rack first be lifted upwardly in a direction opposite to the desired direction of adjustment, as required by the apparatus of the aforementioned patent. The present invention attains adjustment of the rack side between upper and lower positions by a directly vertical movement rather than requiring that the rack side be lifted and moved horizontally relative to its slidable support means in order to adjust the rack side from the upper to a lower position.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In an appliance cabinet having oppositely-disposed side walls defining a chamber therebetween that has a load-bearing rack mounted therein, adjustable means are provided to enable manual changing of the level of the side of the rack between predetermined verticallyspaced positions. The adjustable means broadly in cludes at least one slidable mechanism located along the rack side. In its preferred form the adjustable means includes two of the slidable mechanisms disposed in a spaced-apart relation along the rack side. Each slidable mechanism has first and second members arranged to slide, one relative to the other. One of the members protrudes from the rack side and the other member has means for mounting it to the chamber side wall. The first member of the slidable mechanism is adapted to slide vertically relative to the second member, permitting the rack side to move from one of the vertically-spaced positions to another. The means of mounting the member to the side wall may include the slidable mounting means by which the rack is adapted to move horizontally to extend outwardly from the chamber.
The invention also provides manually releasable locking means adapted to prevent downward movement of the slidable mechanism s first member relative to the second member when the rack is in a high level position such that the first member of the mechanism is in a position above the lowermost of the verticallyspaced positions. When the rack is disposed such that the first member is at a position above the lowermost of the vertically-spaced positions, the locking means may be manually actuated to release the first member so that the rack side can move directly downwardly to a lower position. Downward movement of the rack is preferably in response to the weight of the rack.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING Features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the ensuing description when read in reference to the accompanying drawing wherein:
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a front-opening automatic dishwasher having a side wall thereof cut away and portions of the racks within the dishwashers chamber cut away along a vertical line to show one side of the upper rack and its adjustment means in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary elevational view of the rack side first shown in FIG. 1 but here shown enlarged to reveal details of the means for adjusting the position of the rack side;
FIG. 3 is a view in vertical section wherein the lefthand portion of the figure is taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 2 and the right-hand portion of the figure is added thereto to illustrate how the adjustment means for a dishwasher rack, in accordance with the present invention, would appear wherein each side of the rack is adapted to be vertically adjustable thereby;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary view taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 4 but showing certain components of the present invention as they would be disposed in accordance with operation of the invention;
FIG. 6 is a view in vertical section somewhat similar to the left-hand portion of FIG. 3, but showing different structure in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present invention; and
FIG. 7 is an elevational view of a component of the structure shown in FIG. 6, provided to further illustrate the structure and operation of the alternate embodiment of the invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In FIG. 1 there is shown a front-opening dishwasher 10 including a rectilinear-shaped cabinet 11. An access door 12 is hinged at its lower end to pivot on a horizontal axis and open outwardly from the cabinet 11. Within the cabinet is a wash chamber 13 partially defined by the door 12 and oppositely-disposed side walls 14. Mounted within the chamber 13 are a pair of dish-supporting racks 15 and 16. Each of the racks 15 and 16 is provided with means, in a preferred form as described in detail hereafter, permitting the rack to be slidably withdrawn outwardly through the chamber access opening whereby the rack may be loaded or unloaded and thereafter retracted back to the position shown in FIG. 1.
In combination with the rack 16 is an adjustable means, preferably provided at each side of the rack, that permits manual adjustment of the side between vertically-spaced positions. The adjustment means, as shown in FIGS. 1-5, includes a slidable mechanism 18 (preferably utilized in a spaced-apart pair on the rack side) having a pair of members arranged whereby one is vertically-slidable with reference to the other. One of the members may be in the form of a bracket 19 that extends downwardly from along the side edge of the rack 16. The other member may be in the form of a support arm or stud 20 that extends transversely and through a vertically elongated slot 21 provided in the bracket 19. The slot 21 serves as a guideway and the stud 20 acts as a support arm on which the bracket may be moved vertically by means of its guideway.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the stud 20 also serves as an axle for a roller 22 carried on a slide bar 23. The slide bar 23 is provided with a slot 24 in which the roller 22 is disposed for rotative horizontal movement relative to the slide bar 23. The slide bar 23 is adapted for horizontal movement by means of supportive upper and lower rollers 25. The rack 16 is thus adapted to be manually withdrawn to extend outwardly from the wash chamber 13 for a loading position. This function is accomplished by movement of the roller 22 along the slot 24, followed by horizontal movement of the entire slide bar 23 via its rollers 25. This movement occurs in reverse order when the rack is manually retracted back into the wash chamber to its operative position.
As shown in FIG. 3, the stud 20 comprises two adjacent body portions 28 and 29 having different relative cross-sectional dimensions. The body of the stud 20 is preferably cylindrical and the portion 28 thereof has a greater diameter than that of the portion 29. The slot 21 of the bracket 19, throughout the major of its vertical extension, has a width thereacross slightly greater than the diameter of the stud portion 29 so that the bracket, by means of the slot 21, can slide freely in a vertical direction on the stud portion 29.
The stud 20 is adapted to be manually movable generally toward and away from the adjacent side wall 14 between two operative positions. The portions 28 and 29 of the stud 20 are separated by an intermediate converging portion 30 to facilitate the movement of the stud 20 through the bracket slot 21. The lower end of the bracket slot 21 is provided with a somewhat wider lower end slot portion 31 of a size to accommodate the stud portion 28 therethrough. The stud portion 28 is of a diameter too large to permit the remainder or upper portion of the slot 21 to slide downwardly thereover. Therefore, when the stud 20 is moved toward the side wall 14 to one of its operative positions whereby only the stud portion 29 extends through the slot 21 of the bracket 19, the bracket 19 is free to slide downwardly on the stud 20. If, when the bracket 19 is in its uppermost position, the stud 20 is caused to move away from the side wall 14 to its other operative position as shown in FIG. 3, the stud portion 28 then extends through the lower end slot portion 31 of the slot 21 and prevents downward sliding movement of the bracket 19.
The structure of the invention as shown in FIG. 3 has means for normally urging the stud 20 to the position shown in FIG. 3 whereby the relatively thicker portion 28 of stud 20 extends through the lower end portion 31 of the bracket slot 21. The urging means shown is in the form of an expansion spring 32 located circumjacent the portion 29 of the stud 20. The spring 32 is disposed between an annular member or washer 33 carried on the stud 20 that abuts against the surface of the bracket 19, and a member 35 fastened at the end of the stud 20. The member 35 may be an annular washer-like member fastened on the end of the stud 20, but is preferably a horizontally-disposed control bar as discussed hereafter, extending between two of the sliding mechanisms 18 which are disposed in a spaced apart relationship along the side of the rack 16.
The stud 20 when it is disposed, as shown in FIG. 3, with its comparatively thicker portion 28 extending through the lowermost end 31 of the bracket slot 21, serves as a means of holding or locking the sliding mechanism in an uppermost position so that the rack 16 is disposed at the higher of the positions or levels inherent in the mechanism design. This locking means is manually releasable by pushing the stud 20 axially toward the side wall 14 whereby the portion'28 of the stud 20 slides out of the slot 21 With the comparatively narrower portion 29 extending through the slot 21, the bracket is free to slide downwardly, from the weight of the rack, to a lower position on the stud 20 as shown in FIG. 5.
In the form of the invention wherein a pair of the sliding mechanisms 18 are disposed in spaced-apart relation along each side of the upper rack 16, as shown in FIG. 3, the member 35 serves to link the spacedapart sliding mechanisms 18 along each side of the rack 16. When the rack side is disposed at its uppermost position as shown in FIG. 3, the expansion spring 32 serves to normally hold the stud in the lower end portion 31 of the bracket slot 21, as shown in FIG. 4, whereby the bracket 19 cannot slide downwardly on the stud 20. Then, with the rack 36 pulled out to its extended position relative to the chamber 13, hand pressure may be exerted against the member 35, at an intermediate point therealong, to push the member 35 laterally toward the slide bar 23. This action will compress the spring 32 and move the stud 20 of each mechanism 18 in unison whereby the portion 28 of each stud 20 will move out of the plane of the associated bracket slot. The stud portion 29 will thereby move into position across the associated bracket slot. This permits the entire side of the rack to move downwardly since the rack supporting brackets 19 will slide down on the respective studs 20. Thereafter the rack side maybe manually lifted upwardly such that the brackets 19 are returned to the position shown in FIG. 3. When the brackets reach thepoint of maximum upward movement such that each stud 20 resides in the wide slot portion 31, each spring 32 urges its stud 20 to slide axially and laterally relative to the associated bracket. The portion 28 of each stud thereby slips across the plane of the slot to extend through the lower end portion 31. This locks each bracket to its stud such that vertical movement of the bracket cannot occur until the locking action is released by the machine user as heretofore described.
Referring now to FIGS. 6 and 7, it will be seen that the invention may be modified to provide one or more intermediate levels or positions for a rack side. With reference particularly to FIG. 6, it should be noted that the illustrated components which are identical to those utilized in the arrangement of the invention shown in FIGS. 1-5 are referred to by the same numeral designations as employed heretofore. Therefore, by reference to FIGS. 6 and 7 it will be seen that an alternate embodiment of the invention may comprise a bracket 40 having an elongated slot 41 provided therein. The slot 41 has a lower end portion 42 that is wider than the remaining portion of the slot 41 thereabove. The portion of the slot 41 vertically disposed above the lower end portion 42 converges to provide oppositely disposed shoulders 43 that act'cooperatively in combination with an intermediate portion of the stud 46 to provide an intermediate position of vertical adjustment for the rack side.
The stud 46, as shown in FIG. 6, has a relatively wide portion 47 that extends through the roller 22 and serves as an axle therefore. The diameter of the portion 47 is such that it will slide axially to extend through the lower end portion 42 of the slot 41 of the bracket 40. The diameter of the portion 47 is purposely greater than the width of the intermediate slot portion beneath the shoulders 43 whereby the stud portion 47, when it extends through the lower end portion 42, will not permit vertical movement of the bracket 40 relative to the stud 46. The stud portion 47 converges into an intermediate stud portion 48 having a diameter permitting it to enter through the intermediate slot portion and extend through the bracket 40. The diameter of the intermediate stud portion 48 is such that the bracket can slide downwardly thereon until the shoulders 43 come to rest thereon. The intermediate stud portion 48 converges to a relatively narrow stud portion 49 having a.
diameter permitting it to extend through the upper end of the bracket slot 41 and slide vertically relative thereto.
Operation of the invention embodiment shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 is much the same as heretofore related in regard to the embodiment disclosed in FIGS. 1-5. Movement of the side of the rack 16 to the uppermost position is accomplished by pulling directly upwardly on the rack side to raise it to the uppermost position. It is inherent in the structure illustrated that the side of the rack 16 can be freely manually lifted upwardly whereby the bracket 40 slides vertically relative to the stud 46. When the rack side is so lifted, the spring 32 will cause the stud 46 to slide toward and further through the slot 41 as each consecutive portion of the stud 46 comes into registration with that portion of the slot 41 having a width adapted to accept the particular stud portion therethrough. The stud 46 thus has three operative positions in accordance with the adjustment of the rack to different vertical levels. Raising of the side of the rack 16 may be selectively stopped as soon as the shoulders 43 of the bracket 40 move above the stud such that the portion 48 slides into position through the slot 41. The shoulder 43 resting on the stud portion 48 will act to prevent the bracket 40 from sliding downwardly relative to the stud 41. Such arrangement constitutes a means of locking the mechanism whereby the rack side is prevented from moving downwardly and will not move upwardly until the user performs a further manual lifting operation.
From the description 'of the invention presented heretofore, it should be apparent that provision of a pair of spaced-apart sliding mechanisms at each side of a rack in accordance with the present invention will enable the user to adjust the vertical level of the rack between predetermined levels to accommodate certain items which, because of their configuration, may require more vertical space within the wash chamber as compared to items commonly washed therein. In an arrangement wherein each rack side is adapted to be separately adjusted as heretofore described, the rack may be canted by raising or lowering only one side of the rack relative to the other, or the rack may be maintained in the more common horizontal disposition at any one of the predetermined levels.
While certain embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it is to be understood that the invention is susceptible to many modifications. lt is intended that the appended claims shall cover all changes that do not clearly depart from the spirit and scope of the invention.
What I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent of the United States is:
1. In an appliance cabinet having oppositelydisposed side walls defining a chamber therebetween, and a load-bearing rack mounted in the chamber, an adjustable means at the side of the rack permitting manual adjustment of the side between verticallyspaced positions, comprising:
a. a pair of slidable mechanisms located in spacedapart relation along the rack side,
b. the slidable mechanism including a first member extending from the rack side and a second member mounted to the chamber side wall, the first member being adapted to slide vertically relative to the second member whereby the rack side moves from one of the vertically-spaced positions to another,
c. manually releasable locking means operatively-associated with the mechanisms and comprising linkage extending between the mechanisms and adapted to release the first members, of both in unison when released,
lower end of the guideway adjacent the support arm.
3. The invention of claim 2 wherein the support arm is adapted to be slidable in a direction generally transverse to the surface of the chamber side wall.
4. The invention of claim 2 wherein the locking means includes the support arm, the support arm is a stud having at least two consecutive portions thereon, each portion being of a cross-sectional dimension different than the other portion, the guideway slot has at least two areas of different widths with each generally slightly wider than one of the cross-sectional dimensions of the stud, and the stud is adapted to be movable inthe direction of its extension to at least two separate positions wherein, in each position, a different one of its cross-sectional dimensions extends within the slot.
5. The invention of claim 4 further including means normally urging the stud to one of its positions.
6. The invention of claim 4 wherein the locking means further includes means for manually overcoming the force of the urging means whereby the locking means is released.
7. The invention of claim 1 wherein the linkage comprises a member extending between the mechanisms, and the extending member is adapted to be manually moved to release the locking means.
8. The invention of claim 1 wherein the rack is adapted to be slidable between a loading position where it is disposed outwardly from the chamber and an operating position where it is disposed fully within the chamber.