US 3781046 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
nited States Patent 1191 inkle Dec. 25, 1973 [5 REFRIGERATOR DOOR SHOCK 2,973,217 2/1961 Gregoire 292/339 x ABSORBER FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1751 lnvemo" 8 Hmkle, Rowland Heights, 1,341,283 9/1963 France 211/1051,
 Assignee: Dam Fine Products Corporation, El Primary Examiner-Richard E. Moore Monte, Calif. Attorney-Gordon L. Peterson  Filed: Dec. 23, 1971 211 App]. No.: 211,597  ABSTRACT A shock absorbing device for use in holding open a door of a container in a vehicle including resilient 'C means positionable between the door and an abutment  Fieid 292/258 262 264 for holding the door in an open position and connec- 292/288 1/105 248/356 tor means for preventing the door from opening more than a predetermined amount. The connector means  References Cited allows the door to be opened less than said predetermined amount, and the resilient means is compressed UNITED STATES PATENTS between the door and the abutment even when the 519,840 5/1894 Edsall 21 l/105.6 door is opened said predetermined amount. 2,584,903 2/1952 Miller 292/264 3,240,523 3/1966 Heimann 292/198 4 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures RIEFRIIGIERATOR DOO SHOCK ABSORBER BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE Insulated food containers such as refrigerators, iceboxes and freezers of the type used in vehicles such as recreational vehicles and boats must be periodically aired out to prevent the interiors of such containers from giving off an unpleasant odor. This airing out process is usually accomplished by leaving the door of the container open.
The maximum opening of the door is limited by attaching a chain to the door and to the container. This arrangement is satisfactory so long as the vehicle is stationary. However, when the vehicle is moving, the door freely pivots on its hinges in response to various forces resulting from vehicle movement and eventually becomes latched in the closed position.
To prevent the door from closing, various solid members such as wood blocks have been put between the door and the container. While this does prevent the door from closing, it rigidly holds the door in the open position so that vehicle movements and vibrations cause repeated impact loads on the door hinges. These loads may be sufficient over a period of time to damage the hinges particularly if the door is heavy. For exam ple, a large recreational vehicle may have a refrigerator with a door that weighs 18 lbs., and this is sufficient mass to substantially stress the hinges. In addition, it is very difficult to retain the wood block or other solid member'in position and not infrequently it falls out of position and allows the door to close.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention solves these problems by providing resilient means for holding the door of the refrigerator or similar container open. The resilient means forms, in effect, a shock absorber which reduces shock and impact loading of the door hinges. In addition, the resilient means will not fall out of position as the vehicle is driven.
According to the present invention, connector means prevents the door from opening more than a predetermined amount, but allows the door to be open less than said predetermined amount. The resilient means extends at least substantially between the door and a suitable abutment on or near the container even when the door is open the maximum amount permitted by the connector means so that the resilient means resiliently holds the door open.
To facilitate installation and removal of the resilient means while providing for positive retention of the resilient means, the resilient means is preferably frictionally retained between the door and the abutment. This can be advantageously accomplished by sizing the resilient means so that it is compressed between the door and the abutment even when the door is open the maximum amount allowed by the connector means. In addition, with the spring under this preload, no free pivotal movement of the door is allowed. To increase the frictional forces which retain the resilient means in position, one or both ends of the resilient means can include high friction material.
The connector means can be any means which limits the maximum amount which the door can be opened and which allows the door to be opened amounts lesser than the maximum amount. A flexible element such as a chain is desirable for this purpose.
The resilient means can advantageously include first and second telescoping tubes and a spring for urging the tubes apart. According to a preferred practice of the invention the tubes are held together by the spring. Specifically, the ends of the spring are expanded within the telescoped tubes to thereby frictionally intercon- I nect the two tubes. The outer ends of the tubes are closed by end caps, respectively, which receive the outer end portions of the tubes. At least one of these end caps is preferably constructed of relatively high friction material.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT FIG. 1 shows a refrigerator 11 which includes a container 13 defining a compartment 15 and a door 17 mounted by hinges 18 (FIG. 4) on the container for pivotal movement relative thereto about vertical pivotal axis. The container 13 has an opening 19 for providing access to the compartment 15 and an end face 21 surrounds the opening. The door 17 can be pivoted between a closed position in which the door completely closes the opening 19 through an intermediate portion (FIG. 1) to a fully open positon in which the door is opened the maximum amount. The refrigerator 1] is of the type which can be mounted by structure 22 in a vehicle (not shown) such as a camper,. trailer, mobile home, boat, etc.
A shock absorber 23 is positioned between the door 17 and the end face 21 which defines an abutment. If desired, the shock absorber 23 can be positioned between the door 17 and the structure 22 in which event the structure 22 forms the abutment. In FIG. 1 the door 17 is in a partially open or intermediate position and is prevented from opening further by a connector in the form of a chain 25. The chain 25 is connected at one end to the upper end of the door 17 and at the other end by a screw to suitable fixed structure such as the end face 21 of the container 13 or the structure 22. In the illustrated embodiment, the shock absorber 23 and the chain 25 form a shock absorbing device.
The other end of the chain 25 is attached to a cotter pin 26a which is slidably received within a nylon bushing 26b which is mounted within the upper edge portion of the door 17. Of course, other constructions may be employed for attaching the chain 25 to the door and to the end face 21. However, it is preferred to employ readily removable connector means such as the pin 26a on at least one end of the chain 25 so that the chain can be detached when it is desired to use the refrigerator 11.
The shock absorber 23 is sufficiently long so that it is axially compressed between the door 17 and the end face 21 when the door is opened as far as is permitted by the chain 25. The shock absorber 23 can be further resiliently compressed by the door 17 as the latter is subjected to various forces such as acceleration and vibration forces. This reduces wear on the door hinges and positively prevents closing of the door. In addition,
the shock absorber 23 is tightly frictionally retained between the door and the abutment 23 and cannot fall out of position.
FIG. 2 shows a preferred form of shock absorber 23. The shock absorber 23 includes telescoping members in the form of open ended, cylindrical, telescoping tubes 27 and 29. Each of the tubes 27 and 29 is constructed of lightweight material such as a rigid plastic material. A coil spring 31 extends through the tubes 27 and 29 and performs two important functions. First, the spring has one or more expanded coils 33 and 35 at the opposite ends thereof which are expanded radially relative to the coils intermediate the expanded coils as shown in FIGS. 2 and 5. The expanded coils 33 and 35 are expanded into tight frictional engagement with the inner surfaces of the tubes 27 and 29, respectively. The frictional contact between the expanded coils 33 and 35 and the tubes 27 and 29 is sufficient to hold the tubes 27 and 29 together. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, the interior surfaces of the tubes 27 and 29 are relatively smooth at least adjacent the region of tight frictional engagement with the expanded coils 33 and 35. Secondly, the spring 33 resiliently resists axial compressive forces applied to the opposite ends of the shock absorber 23.
The shock absorber 23 also includes end caps 37 and 39 which receive outer end portions of the tubes 27 and 29, respectively, and are frictionally retained thereon. In the embodiment illustrated, both of the end caps 37 and 39 are constructed of plastic material with the end cap 39 being constructed of relatively high friction material. The end cap 37 is constructed of smoother, lower friction material than the material of the end cap 39. The reason for this is that in ordinary use, the end cap 37 will be placed into engagement with a rubber seal 40 carried by the door 17 and, accordingly, this rubber seal member provides sufficient friction to retain the adjacent end of the shock absorber 23. The end cap 37 on the other hand can be placed into contact with relatively low friction material and still maintain relatively good frictional characteristics.
The shock absorber 23 is adapted for use with any insulated food container such as a freezer, refrigerator or icebox and the refrigerator 11 is purely illustrative. With the shock absorber 23 installed as shown in FIG. 1, the tubes 27 and 29 undergo relative telescoping movement in response to forces that are imparted to the door 17 as the vehicle moves. The spring 31 compresses as necessary to provide a resilient shock absorbing effect which reduces the forces on the hinges.
Although an exemplary embodiment of the invention has been shown and described, many changes, modifications and substitutions may be made by one having ordinary skill in the art without necessarily departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
I claim: 1. A device of the kind described comprising: an insulated container of the type usable in vehicles for keeping food cool, said container defining a compartment and having an opening, said container being positonable in a vehicle, said container and said vehicle constituting structure;
a door; means for pivotally mounting said door for movement between a closed position in which the door closes said opening through an intermediate position to a fully open position; connector means attached to at lease one of saod door and said structure for preventing said door from being opened beyond said intermediate position and for permitting said door to be opened to positions intermediate said closed and intermediate positions; resilient means positionable between said structure and said door for resiliently holding the door open, said resilient means being compressed between said door and said structure even when said door is in said intermediate position, the compression of said resilient means between said door and said structure causing said resilient means to be frictionally retained between said door and said structure; said resilient means including at least first and second telescoping tubes and a coil spring within said tubes for urging said telescoping tubes apart; said resilient means including first and second end caps of nonmetallic material for receiving the outer end portions of said first and second telescoping tubes, respectively; and said first and second end caps being positionable in engagement with the door and the structure, respectively, whereby said resilient means is frictionally retained against the door and the structure. 2. A shock absorbing device as defined in claim 1 wherein said tubes are interconnected by said spring.
3. A device as defined in claim 1 wherein each of said tubes has an interior surface and said spring has at least first and second expanded coils adjacent the opposite ends of said spring, said expanded coils being radially enlarged relative to the coils intermediate said expanded coils, said first and second expanded coils tightly frictionally engaging the interior surfaces of the first and second tubes, respectively, to thereby interconnect said tubes.
4. A shock absorbing device as defined in claim 3 wherein the interior surfaces of said tubes are relatively smooth at least adjacent the region of tight frictional engagement with the expanded coils.