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Publication numberUS3758027 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 11, 1973
Filing dateJul 1, 1971
Priority dateJul 1, 1971
Publication numberUS 3758027 A, US 3758027A, US-A-3758027, US3758027 A, US3758027A
InventorsMorgan W
Original AssigneeMorgan W
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mailbox
US 3758027 A
Abstract
A mailbox having upper and lower compartments interconnected by a trapdoor which defines a bottom for the upper compartment when in closed condition. The lower compartment is provided with a lock device so that only authorized persons have access thereto. The upper compartment is provided with a pivotal mounted access door engaged with a mechanism for automatically closing the trapdoor when the access door to the upper compartment is opened and permitting the trapdoor to open when the access door to the upper compartment is closed. A signal flag is mounted on the mailbox for pivotal movement and is associated with the operating mechanism for the trapdoor to retain the trapdoor in closed position while the signal flag is in an upright signalling position.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 I Morgan in] 3,758,027 [4 1 Sept. 11, 1973 MAILBOX Inventor: Walter C. Morgan, P. O. Box 4088,

Monroe, La. 71201 Primary Examiner-Francis K Zugel Attorney-Clarence A OBrien and Harvey B. Jacobson [22] Filed: July 1, 1971 21 Appl. No.: 158,941 {571 ABSTRACT A mailbox having upper and lower compartments inters2 1 us. Cl 232/17 232/34 232/48 cmhected by which defines a the '232/53 upper compartment when in closed condition. The 51 Int. Cl Aln 29/12 mPanmem is Pmh'hd whh [58] Field of Search 232/17 47 48 45 authorized Perms have access The 232/53 44 24 431 upper compartment is provided with a pivotal mounted access door engaged with a mechanism for automati- [56] v References Cited cally closing the trapdoor when the access door to the upper compartment is opened and permitting the trap- UNITED STTES PATENTS door to open when the access door to the upper com- 580,547 4/1897 Fusttng 232/53 partment is closed A Signal flag i mounted on h tf g mailbox for pivotal movement and is associated with 3 4O1875 9/1968 l z 1 D the operating mechanism for the trapdoor to retain the 387 242 8/l888 McDonal dT 232/47 trapdoor in closed position while the signal flag is in an 384,596 6/1888 Smith 232/48 upright Signalling Position- 4l3,928 10/1889 Cook 232/48 6 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures Pmmmsm 1 ma 3.758.027

sum 2 or 2 42/- 36 26 Walter 62 Morgan INVENIOR. 30- 38 j 9 BY g my WWW MAILBOX 1. Field of the Invention I The present invention generally relates to a receptacle such as a mailbox or other depository in which items are placed through an access door and when the access door is closed, the items are then deposited by gravity into a lower compartment which has a locked access door, thereby enabling all items placed in the depository to be maintained in a security compartment inaccessible to anyone except a person in possession of a key or other means for opening the locked door compartment.

2. Description of the Prior Art Receptacles, such as mailboxes and other depositories for various items, have been in use for many years but in order for the mailboxes or other depositories to be readily accessible to a delivery person, it has also been accessible to unauthorized persons, thus resulting in substantial loss of mail or other items. Various attempts have been made to provide security for such items in which the items when placed in the depository pass through a trap mechanism into a security area so that the items cannot be returned through the trap mechanism. While such previous devices have been successfully employed in certain installations, they generally have been somewhat complex and relatively expensive to manufacture. I

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of the present invention is to provide a mailbox or other depository of relatively simple construction but yet dependable and long lasting to enable the device to be economically feasible for use as a mailbox or other depository where items are to be placed and it is desirable to prevent unauthorized persons from having access thereto.

Another object of the invention is to provide a mailbox or other depository in the form of a housing divided by a trapdoor into an upper and lower compartment, with the upper compartment having a pivotal access door and the lower compartment having a lockequipped access door to provide security for the items in the lower compartment. The trapdoor is gravity opened but moved to a closed position when the access door to the upper compartment isopened so that items may be placed on the closed trapdoor'and the closed trapdoor will prevent access to the lower compartment thereby enabling such items to move by gravity through the trapdoor into the lower compartment when the upper compartment door is closed and preventing movement of such items up through the trapdoor inasmuch as opening of the access door to the upper compartment will automatically close the trapdoor.

A further object of the invention is to provide a-mailbox or other depository in accordance with the preceding objects in which the housingisprovided with asignal flag pivotally attached thereto with the signal flag being related to the trapdoor actuating mechanism in such a manner that when the signal flag. is raisedto a signalling position, the trapdoor will remain closed thereby enabling items to be picked up by a postman or other designated person to be maintained in the upper compartment so that access may be had thereto by opening the upper compartmentaccess door. When the item is picked up by the postman or some other designated person, the flag would be lowered so that any items placed into the upper compartment by the postman or other person delivering items, such items would then be deposited into the lower security compartment when the upper access door is closed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating the present invention incorporated into a mailbox.

FIG. 2 is a vertical sectional view of the front portion of the mailbox illustrating the structural details of the present invention with the upper access door in closed position and the signalling flag in a retracted position.

FIG. 3 is a transverse, sectional view taken substantially upon the plane passing along section line 3-3 of FIG. 2 illustrating the specific structural details of the mechanism in the condition illustrated in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a vertical sectional view similar to FIG. 2 but illustrating the upper access door in open position and the signal flag in its signalling position.

FIG. 5 is a transverse vertical sectional view taken substantially upon the plane passing along section line 5--5 of FIG. 4 illustrating the orientation of the structure when in the position of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a vertical sectional view similar to FIG. 2 but illustrating the signal flag in signalling position with the trapdoor closed.

FIG. v7 is an exploded group perspective view illustrating the mechanism associated with the door and flag to close the trapdoor.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The invention is disclosed specifically in the embodiment of a mailbox but the structural and functional features thereof may be incorporated into various types of receptacles, depositories, or the like, in which items may be deposited by a delivery man in an area or compartment readily accessible to him and when the door is closed to the delivery compartment, the item will automatically move into a security compartment to prevent unauthorized removal of such items. In its use as a mailbox, where mail is to be picked up by the mailman, a signal flag is moved to a. signalling position which retains a trapdoor in closed position so that mail to be picked up is retained in an accessible position to the mailman so that when he opens. the access door, he will be able to remove the outgoing mail and place incoming mail in the mailbox which will be dropped into the security compartment when the flag is returned'to its retracted position and the access door closed.

The mailbox includes a housing 10 which may be of rectangular configuration of any suitable size and includes a top wall 12, parallel side walls 14, a vertical rear wall and a bottom wall, the details of which are not disclosed but which may be of conventional sheet metal construction. The bottom of the housing 10 may be provided with suitable means for mounting on a supporting post, pedestal, or the like, or the device may be mountedin any suitable manner. The particular materialfrom which the mailbox is constructed and the dimensions thereof may vary as long as they comply with all regulations relating to mailboxes. The front of the housing 10 is provided with an L-shaped front wall, generally designated at 16, and including a vertical front wall portion 18 and a horizontal front wall portion 20 which extends inwardly from the top edge of the vertical portion 18, as illustrated in the drawings. Extending generally horizontally in the housing intermediate the top and bottom thereof is a trapdoor, generally designated by the numeral 22, which divides the housing into an upper compartment or portion 24 and a lower compartment or portion 26 with the trapdoor 22 forming a partition therebetween and a bottom for the upper compartment 24 when in closed condition. A pivotal access door 28 is provided for the front of the upper compartment 24 and a pivotal access door 30 is provided for the lower compartment 26.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the lower access door 30 is hingedly attached along itsbot'tom edge by a hinge 32 for swinging movement about a substantially horizontal axis at the lower corner of the housing 10. A handle 34 is attached to the outer surface of the access door 30 to enable the door to be pivoted between an open and a closed condition. The handle 34 is in the form of a plate having an outwardly and downwardly curved top edge to provide a generally inverted .I-shaped handle. The inner surface of the door 30 is provided with an L- shaped keeper 36 at the upper central edge thereof including a notch or aperture receiving a swingable lockarm 38 forming a part of a key operated lock mechanism 40 which is mounted in the vertical wall portion 18 with the key receiving slot or recess being exposed for access thereby enabling the door 30 to be locked and unlocked by persons having the appropriate key. As illustrated, the vertical wall portion 18 is provided with an outwardly extending folded flange 42 which overlies the top edge of the door 30 and the inner edge of theflange 42 extends down vertically behind the top edge of the door 30 thereby forming a doorstop with the flange 42 forming an overlying lip for the door 30 to provide rigidity to the vertical wall 18 and also provide a weather seal for the door 30. Thus, when the lock mechanism 40 is actuated to swing the lock arm 38 upwardly to a generally horizontal position, the door 30 may be opened or closed and when the lock arm 38 is swung to the vertical position in engagement with the notch in the keeper 36, the door 30 will be retained in locked position so that only those having a key may have access thereto.

The upper compartment 24 is closed or opened by the door 28 which has the lower edge thereof hingedly attached to the forward edge portion of the horizontal inwardly extending wall portion or flange 20 by a hinged structure 44. Inasmuch as the hinge structure 44 is at the inward edge of the flange 20, the opening movement of the door 28 is limited to substantially a horizontal position as illustrated in FIG. 4 inasmuch as the door 28 will be resting against the surface of the flange 20 thus forming a limit for downward pivotal movement of the door 28. This inward offset of the door also provides an additional overhang of the housing 10 in relation to the door 28 to further provide protection from inclimate weather. The outer surface of the door 28 is provided with an inverted J-shaped handle 46 similar to the handle 34 for manipulating the door 28. Also, the top and two side edges of the door 28 are provided with a peripheral flange 48 thereon which has an inwardly offset peripheral groove 50 formed therein to provide a sealing and frictional engagement with the interior of the housing to retain the closure door 28 in closed position but yet enable it to be easily opened by pulling on the handle 46. This construction eliminates the necessity of separate friction latches or the like for the door 28 and enables the interior surface of the housing to be smooth, and free of obstructions which could hinder movement of the hand into and out of the compartment 24 such as when placing mail therein or removing mail therefrom.

The trapdoor 22 includes a pair of trapdoor members, flaps or panels 52 which are of substantially identical construction and substantially one half the area of the housing so that when the flaps 52 are in their horizontal positon as illustrated in FIG. 5, the trapdoor 22 forms a bottom for the compartment 24. Each flap or trapdoor member 52 is hingedly attached to a corresponding side wall 14 by a hinge structure 54 generally in the form of a piano hinge and which provides very little inward obstruction on the interior of the housing thereby precluding the possiblity of mail becoming lodged on or hung on the hinges 54. The adjacent facing edges of the panels 52 are reversely folded and provided with a longitudinally extending reinforcing rib 56 to rigidigy the flaps 52 throughout rigidify length. The flap or trapdoor members 52 are gravity actuated and unless they are supported, the members 52 will hang downwardly in a substantially vertical position as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3. In this condition, the compartments 24 and 26 are in communication with each other. This condition occurs when the closure door 28 is in closed condition and a signalling flag, generally designated by the numeral 58, is in a retracted or inoperative position. I

When the closure door 28 is pivoted to an open position or the signalling flag 58 is manually pivoted to an upright signalling position, the trapdoor 22 will be closed by an actuating member, generally designated by the reference number 60, and which includes an elongated transversely extending rod 62 having an elongated rod 64 perpendicular with one end thereof with the rod 64 forming a support for a signal flag 66 in the form of a metal plate which may be conveniently colored red or other suitable color. The rod 64 and the flag 66 are disposed exteriorly of the housing 10 and the rod 62 is joumaled from the housing 10 for pivotal movement about a transverse axis to swing the flag 66 between extended and retracted positions.

Rigidly affixed to the central portion of the rod 62 is a generally V-shaped rod 68 having diverging legs 70 and 72 extending laterally therefrom as illustrated in FIG. 7 with the apex of the V-shaped members 68 being affixed to the rod 62 as by welding or the like. As illustrated, the apex of the V-shaped rod is placed on top of and welded to the rod 62 with the legs 70 and 72 of the V-shaped rod 68 underlying and engaging the trapdoor members 52 for supporting the trapdoor members in horizontal position when the V-shaped rod 68 is in substantially horizontal position and the rod 64 is in substantially vertical position. The end portion of the rod 62 which is remote from the rod 64 is provided with a laterally extending finger or rod 74 having a downwardly offset free end portion 76 which generally parallel the plane of the legs and 72 that is vertically spaced below the plane of the legs 70 and 72. The finger or arm 74 including the offset arm portion 76 may be integral with or welded to the rod 62 so that it will move in a vertical plane as the rod 62 is pivoted.

The access door 28 is provided with a rod 78 welded to the door at the interior corner thereof defined by the flange 68 and rear door groove 50 so that the rod 78 is fixed to and rigid with the door 28. The lower end of the rod 28 includes a downwardly inclined portion 80 which extends downwardly alongside of the outer side edge of one of the trapdoor members 52 outwardly of the end of the hinge 54 as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 4. The terminal end of the inclined rod 80 is provided with an inwardly extending finger or cam 82 which underlies and engages the undersurface of the arm 74 including the downwardly offset arm portion 76. The juncture between the rod portion 78 and the rod portion 80 generally coincides with the hinge 44 of the door 28 so that as the door 28 swings between an opened and closed position, the finger or cam 82 will swing in an arcuate path and cause swinging movement of the offset arm 74 and pivoting movement of the rod 62 as well as swinging movement of the legs 70 and 72 and the rod 64 with the flag 66 thereon.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, the legs 70 and 72 extend to a point adjacent the inner surface of the side walls 14 and the angulation of the legs 70 and 72 is such that the inner surfaces thereof will engage with the edge portions of the trapdoor members 52 and move them to a horizontal closed position as the legs 70 and 72 are moved to a horizontal position. This movement of the legs 70 and 72 is in response to pivoted movement of the door 28 to an opened position as well as movement of the flag 66 to a vertical upright position. In order to secure the flag in an upright position, a spring clip 84 is mounted on the side wall 14 of the housing so that the rod 64 with the flag 66 thereon may be pivoted to the vertical position and the rod 64 engaged in the opened front end of the clip 84. This enables a person who wishes to place outgoing mail in the mailbox for pick-up by the postman to swing the flag to the upright position and secure it in the upright position by using the clip 84. Then, the door 28 may be opened and mail deposited on the trapdoor members 52 which will be in the closed position. The door 28 is then moved to the closed position but the trapdoor members 52 will remain in their horizontal position since the legs 70 and 72 are retained in their horizontal position by the rod 64 being engaged with the clip 84. Then, when the postman arrives, he will note the flag 66 being in the signalling position and he will open the door 28. and remove the outgoing mail and place any incoming mail within the compartment 24 and such mail will be resting on the closed trapdoor members 52. Then the door 28 may be closed and the signal flag 66 lowered in the usual manner by disengaging the rod 64 from the clip 84 and pivoting the flag 66 rearwardly alongside of the housing 10. This releases the trapdoor members 52 and they will swing downwardly to a vertical position and the mail placed in the upper compartment 24 will be deposited downwardly into the lower compartment 26 by the force of gravity. The postman depositing mail in the mailbox may release the flag and return it to a retracted position either before or after he closes the door 28 and the operation would be the same, that is, the trapdoor members 52 would remain closed until the door 28 has been closed and the flag 66 moved to a retracted position.

The side wall 14 of the housing 10 adjacent the arm 74 is provided with a laterally extending downwardly inclined stop member 86 which limits the downward swinging movement of the offset arm portion 76, thus limiting the dowmward movement of the mechanism to a point where the legs 70 and 72 are inclined downwardly and inwardly generally in the position illustrated in FIG. 2.

Inasmuch as the trapdoor members 52 cannot go outwardly beyond the outermost ends of the legs and 72, the V-shaped members 68 will always pick-up and close the trapdoor members 52. Also, the arrangement of the cam 82 and the arm 74 and offset arm portion 76 is such that the mechanism 60 will be actuated to close the trapdoor members 52 before the door 28 is swung outwardly to a point beyond the end of the housing so that it would be impossible for anyone to pivot the door 28 open slightly and reach down through the trapdoor into the compartment 26 or to use an instrument, such as a long narrow gripping tool, wire, or the like, for this purpose, thereby assuring security for the items in the compartment 26.

With this construction, mail from several days delivery may accumulate in the compartment 26 without impeding the delivery of subsequent mail by the postman and without risking theft or tampering with the mail by unauthorized persons. The mechanical structure is relatively simple in construction and is dependable and long lasting in operation, thus enabling the device-to be economically used as a mailbox, particularly for use as a rural delivery mailbox, which are frequently subject to'unauthorized persons opening the mailbox for unauthorized removal of mail.

While a built-in key operated lock structure has been disclosed, it is within the purview of this invention to employ a padlock associated with a hasp or matching apertured lugs to provide security for the storage area thereby enabling a further reduction in the cost of the mailbox. Also, the rodlike components forming the cam and operating mechanism for the trapdoors may be in the form of stamped sheet metal, cast metal or any other material constructed to satisfactorily perform the intended functions.

The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modificationsand changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.

What is claimed as new is as follows:

1. A depository receptacle comprising a housing having an upper compartment for receiving items placed therein, swingable access means comprising a swingable door pivotally supported along a transverse axis at the bottom edge thereof and including a cam member extending downwardly from the hinge axis of the door enabling access to the interior of the upper compartment of the housing, trapdoor means forming the bottom of said upper compartment of the housing, a lower compartment in said housing underlying said trapdoor means and receiving items from the upper compartment when the trapdoor means is opened, means operatively associated with said swingable access means and said trapdoor means to automatically operate said trapdoor means in response to swinging of said access means, said means operating the trapdoor means including a transversely extending axial member journaled in said housing, means on said axial member engaged by saidcam member to pivot the axial member about a transverse axis when the access door is swung about its axis, and means carried by said axial member engageable with the trapdoor means for closing the trapdoor means when the access door is swung to an open position.

2. The structure as defined in claim 1 wherein said axial member is in the form of a rod, one end of the rod extending exteriorly of the housing and including a perpendicular extension thereon, a signal flag on the extension for movement between a retracted position and a signalling position, said rod being pivoted to a position for closing the trapdoor means when the signal flag is in the signalling position, and clip means on the housing releasably engaging the extension for retaining the signal flag in signalling position.

3. The structure as defined in claim 2 whereinsaid trapdoor means includes a pair of panels having outer edges hingedly attached to the inner surfaces of the housing and inner edges disposed in adjacent relation when in horizontal closed position to form a bottom for the upper compartment, said means on the rod engaging the trapdoor means includes a pair of laterally extending diverging leg members having terminal ends adjacent the inner side surfaces of the housing and engaging the edges of the panels for camming the panels to a closed position when the access door or the signalling flag is moved to a signalling position.

4. The structure as defined in claim 3 together with compartment is opened sufficiently to enable access down through the trapdoor means to the lower compartment.

6. The structure as defined in claim 5 together with a stop member for limiting the pivotal movement of the rod and the means thereon engageable by the cam member thus limiting the downward swinging movement of the means thereon engaging the trapdoor means, said housing extending longitudinally beyond a the access door means for the upper compartment for weather protection and enabling the swingable door for the upper compartment to be moved toward an open position before access to the upper compartment is provided.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4190192 *Nov 14, 1977Feb 26, 1980Jackes-Evans Manufacturing CompanyTheft preventing outdoor mailbox
US4361271 *Aug 29, 1980Nov 30, 1982Hester Jay LMail box conversion kit
US4382540 *Jul 14, 1980May 10, 1983Kelly James BDouble-door security rural mail-box
US4447005 *Mar 25, 1983May 8, 1984Kelly James BDouble door security rural mailbox with automatic signalling means
US4724999 *Jun 6, 1986Feb 16, 1988Fitzgerald Norma JSecured mailbox
US4753386 *Dec 29, 1986Jun 28, 1988Phillion Sr Donald WResidential mailbox
US4844332 *Mar 14, 1988Jul 4, 1989Long Timothy PMailbox
US4993626 *May 29, 1990Feb 19, 1991Berry Gerald WSecurity mailbox
US5597116 *Nov 16, 1994Jan 28, 1997Morris; GlennTop opening locking mailbox
US5617993 *Nov 16, 1994Apr 8, 1997Morris; GlennLocking mailbox
US5957372 *Jul 12, 1996Sep 28, 1999Diebold, IncorporatedApparatus and method for accepting return of unused medical items
US5961036 *Jan 29, 1998Oct 5, 1999Diebold, IncorporatedApparatus and method for accepting return of unused medical items
US6073834 *Jul 20, 1999Jun 13, 2000Diebold, IncorporatedApparatus and method for accepting return of unused medical items
US6234388Feb 22, 1999May 22, 2001Gary L. TaylorSecurity mailbox
US6244505Jun 7, 1999Jun 12, 2001James W. GrimesSecurity mailbox assembly
US6644542Nov 30, 2000Nov 11, 2003Bobbie J. CoxEnhanced-security delivery receptacles
US6722561 *Jul 12, 2001Apr 20, 2004Eva M. ThomasFull service locked mailbox
US7051921 *Aug 5, 2004May 30, 2006Borgognone Ronald LSecurity mailbox for preventing unauthorized access to mail
US7252221 *Sep 30, 2005Aug 7, 2007Euroasia Products, Inc.Mailbox door restraint
US7527190Apr 11, 2007May 5, 2009Euroasia Products Inc.Weather barrier mailbox
US20040195304 *Apr 1, 2003Oct 7, 2004Kujawa Paul D.Locking mailbox
US20060255115 *Apr 17, 2006Nov 16, 2006Paul KujawaSecure mailbox system
US20090001152 *Jul 2, 2007Jan 1, 2009Euroasia Products, Inc.Mailbox Door Restraint
Classifications
U.S. Classification232/17, 232/48, 232/43.1, 232/53, 232/34
International ClassificationA47G29/00, A47G29/122
Cooperative ClassificationA47G29/1209
European ClassificationA47G29/12R