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Publication numberUS3859932 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 14, 1975
Filing dateSep 6, 1973
Priority dateSep 6, 1973
Publication numberUS 3859932 A, US 3859932A, US-A-3859932, US3859932 A, US3859932A
InventorsWilliam J Armstrong, Jr Donald G Mcdowell
Original AssigneeGen Electric
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Adjustable shelf assembly
US 3859932 A
Abstract
An adjustable shelf assembly as for use in a refrigerator storage compartment having a series of vertically spaced shelves, wherein the adjustable shelf assembly has a fixed rear shelf half and a movable front shelf half that is movable between a first raised position that is generally flush with the fixed shelf and a second lowered position wherein the movable shelf is stored closely beneath the rear shelf for accommodating tall or bulky food items supported on a shelf located immediately beneath the first raised position of the movable shelf.
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United States Patent Armstrong et al.

[ Jan. 14, 1975 ADJUSTABLE SHELF ASSEMBLY Inventors: William .1. Armstrong,

Jeffersontown, Ky.; Donald G. McDowell, Jr., New Albany, 1nd.

General Electric Company, Louisville, Ky.

Filed: Sept. 6, 1973 Appl. No.: 394,925

Assignee:

US. Cl 108/75, 108/138, 108/143, 312/246 Int. Cl A471) 11/00 Field of Search 108/143, 144, 75, 73, 138; 312/246 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 4/1885 Kundtz 108/75 7/1903 Roughley 11/1935 Lanum 108/75 2,565,845 8/1951 Frederick 312/246 3,516,369 6/1970 Bidak 108/144 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,119,009 3/1956 France 108/75 866,225 4/1961 Great Britain 108/75 Primary Examiner-Francis K. Zugel [57] ABSTRACT An adjustable shelf assembly as for use in a refrigerator storage compartment having a series of vertically spaced shelves, wherein the adjustable shelf assembly has a fixed rear shelf half and a movable front shelf half that is movable between a first raised position that is generally flush with the fixed shelf and a second lowered position wherein the movable shelf is stored closely beneath the rear shelf for accommodating tall or bulky food items supported on a shelf located immediately beneath the first raised position of the movable shelf.

2 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures ADJUSTABLE SHELF ASSEMBLY BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In a storage cabinet there is often the problem of accommodating at certain isolated times large or bulky items. This frequently happens in a household refrigerator cabinet where the food items tend to be of a large variety of sizes and shapes, especially for large households or during the preparations for large dinner parties. One solution is to have vertically adjustable shelves for changing the vertical spacing between shelves to accommodate tall or bulky food items, but this usually requires first emptying the shelf to be moved.

The principal object of the present invention is to provide an adjustable shelf assembly which permits the front to back dimension of the shelf assembly to be foreshortened to about one half of its'original depth by sliding a front movable shelf beneath a rear fixed shelf.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an adjustable shelf assembly of the class described with a slidable means for the shelf in theform of cooperating bearing members and elongated slot means for ease in moving the movable shelf independently of the rigid shelf.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide an adjustable shelf assembly of the class described wherein the movable shelf is provided with releasable locking means to prevent the movable shelf from being inadvertently shifted to its stored position while food items might be supported thereon and might otherwise be swept off the movable shelf and fall into a heap of disarray.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention, in accordance with one form thereof, relates to an adjustable shelf assembly comprising a pair of parallel side frames and a rigid shelf attached to the side frames toward the rear of the shelf assembly and a movable shelf supported from the side frames. A slidable means joins the movable shelf to the side frames so that the movable shelf is movable between a first raised position at the front of the shelf assembly where the movable shelf is generally level with the fixed shelf and a second lowered position where the movable shelf may be stored beneath the fixed shelf. The slidable means comprises elongated slot means in the side frames and bearing means carried by the movable shelf and supported in theslot means so that the movable shelf may be moved independently of the fixed shelf. The slidable means includes releasable locking means forholding the movable shelf in its front raised position so that it may not be inadvertently shifted to its stored position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONOF THE DRAWINGS This invention will be'better understood from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and its scope will be pointed out in the appended claims.

FIG. 1 is a frontperspective view of a combination two-door refrigerator-freezer with the lower door broken away to show several vertically spaced refrigerator cabinet shelves, where the middle shelf is an adjustable shelf assembly embodying the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a transverse, cross-section plan view of a refrigerator cabinet having an adjustable shelf assembly embodying the present invention taken generally on the line 2-2 of FIG. 1, where the view is turned on its side and broken in the middle so that the opposite side walls of the refrigerator cabinet could be brought closer together so as to reduce the overall size of FIG. 2. This FIG. 2 is actually a double view. The lower half of this FIG. 2 shows the movable shelf in its front raised position, while the upper half of this FIG. 2 shows the movable shelf in its second lowered position wherein it is stored closely beneath the fixed shelf at the rear of the refrigerator compartment.

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional elevational view of the adjustable shelf assembly of the present invention taken on the line 33 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional elevational view similar to that of FIG. 3 showing the movable shelf in an intermediate position after a pulling force is exerted on the front edge of the movable shelf, and showing the function of the elevating means of the elongated slot means in the side frames of the adjustable shelf assembly.

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional elevational view similar to that of FIG. 4 showing the movable shelf in its first raised position, wherein the front bearing members of the movable shelf are seated within a lock ing detent in the front edge of the front slot.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Turning now to a consideration of the drawings and in particular to FIG. 1 there is shown for illustrative purposes a two-door refrigerator-freezer 10, where a freezer 14 is shown mounted at the top of the appliance. The present invention relates to a storage cabinet 12 having an adjustable shelf assembly that would be used in conjunction with a series of vertically spaced shelves, where it is desirable at limited times to be able to accommodate tall or bulky items with the least amountof preparation or manipulation by reducing the depth of the front to back dimension of the adjustable shelf assembly so that tall or bulky items may be supported on the shelf immediately beneath the adjustable shelf assembly. While the present invention will be described with relation to a refrigerator cabinet itwill be understood by those skilled in this art that this invention is usable in other combinations or environments where there is a series of vertically spaced shelves for compact storage purposes.

For the sake of simplicity,the refrigerator door in FIG. 1 is shown broken away for viewing into the refrigerator compartment and identifying a fixed lower shelf 16, an adjustable shelf assembly 18 of the present invention overlying the fixed shelf 16, and a third upper shelf 20 which is also fixed within the compartment.

Turning to a consideration of the fragmentary cross sectional plan view of FIG. 2 which istaken on the line 2-2 of FIG. 1 and illustrates the adjustable shelf assembly of the present invention, it should be recognized that this FIGURE is broken inthemiddle to highlight the details of the side walls of the refrigerator compartment. The topmost half of FIG. 2 showsa movable front shelf pushed back into the refrigerator compartment to underlie a fixed rear shelf. Similarly the bottom half of FIG. 2 shows the movable front shelf in its front supporting position that is generally in the same plane as the fixed rear shelf.

This refrigerator cabinet 12 comprises a box-like inner liner 24 that is surrounded by a thermal insulating layer 26 which is in turn enclosed by an outer cabinet structure 28. This FIG. 2 is turned on its side from the front perspective view of FIG. 1. This view has been broken in the middle in order to simplify the illustration of the invention. A front door frame 30 is shown at the right side of FIG. 2, and it is provided with suitable resilient door gaskets 32 for cooperation with the refrigerator door (not shown) so as to retain the cold air within the refrigerator compartment 22.

The adjustable shelf assembly 18 of the present invention may be best understood with relation to FIGS. 2 and 3 of the drawings. This adjustable shelf assembly 18 comprises a pair of parallel side frames 36 and 36' and a fixed rear shelf 38 that is attached to the side frames at the rear of the shelf assembly, and a movable shelf 40 which is slidably mounted from the side frames to be movable between a first raised position adjacent the front of the storage compartment 22 and a second lowered position that is stored closely beneath the fixed shelf 38 as is seen at the top half of FIG. 2.

The fixed rear shelf 38 is of open welded wire configuration having a front transverse rail 44 and a rear transverse rail 46 which are joined together by a series of front to back parallel wire forms 48. The opposite ends of the front and the rear rails 44 and 46 are permanently attached to the side frames 36 and 36'. This joins the rear shelf 38 and the side frames 36 and 36' into an integral assembly. These side frames are sheet metal stampings such as lightweight aluminum. They are cantilever shelf support members that are provided with attachment tabs 50 and 52 as seen in FIG. 3 along the rear edge of each for engagement in vertically spaced slots in a vertical rail 54 as seen in FIG. 2 in order to provide the capability of a vertically adjustable shelf. This feature of vertically adjustable-shelves is quite prevalent in the refrigerator art so that no special tools are needed in order to disconnect the shelf from its support or to reassemble the shelf in a different position. The vertical rails 54 are provided with a plurality of vertical slots 53 for accommodating the attachment tabs 50 and 52 of the side frames in many different elevations.

The movable front shelf 40 has a general welded wire construction similar to that of the fixed shelf 38 in that it has a front transverse rail 56 and a rear transverse rail 58 that are joined by a plurality of parallel wire forms 59. However, the opposite ends of the front and rear rails 56 and 58 are not permanently attached to the side frames 36 and 36. Instead, the opposite ends of the rails 56 and 58 are provided with bearing members 56' and 58' respectively. These bearing members cooperate with a pair of elongated slots 60 and 62 which are formed in each side frame 36 and 36'. Slot 60 is the frontmost slot and it cooperates with the front bearing 56', while the slot 62 is the rearmost slot and it cooperates with the rear bearing 58'. The side frames 36 and 36 have the same slot means 60 and 62 formed therein. Therefore, they are not both illustrated, since they are substantial mirror images of each other.

Each bearing member 56 or 58' is a low friction member such as a nylon or similar plastic part which is assembled on the ends of the transverse rails 56 and 58" of the movable shelf 40. Each bearing member has a cylindrical tread portion 66 which slides within slot 60 or 62, and an outer circular flange portion 68 which is pressed against the outer side of each side frame 36 or 36' and serves as a locking and guiding means for the movable shelf 40.

FIG. 5 shows the normal use position of the adjustable shelf assembly 18, where the movable shelf 40 is in its first raised position that is generally level with the fixed rear. shelf 38.

FIG. 3 is a view similar to that of FIG. 5 except the movable shelf 40 has been shifted by a simple one hand operation into its second lowered position where it is stored closely beneath the rear fixed shelf 38. Thus, it is possible to place tall or bulky items on the lower shelf 16 such as a tall ginger ale bottle 70 which extends above the adjustable shelf assembly 18. Thus the movable shelf 40 mustbe provided with slidable means joining the movable shelf to the side frames 36 and 36. This slidablevmeans includes the two pairs of bearing members 56' and 58' and the two pairs of elongated slots 60 and 62. Each elongated slot 60 and 62 is provided with an elevating means adjacent the front portion thereof. Hence, when a pulling force is exerted on the front rail 56 of the movable shelf 40, the movable shelf will first move out from beneath the fixed shelf 38 and then rise slightly until it assumes an elevated position generally flush with the fixed rear shelf 38. As seen in FIG. 3, thiselevating means comprises an inclined slot section 72 at the front of'the front slot 60, and an inclined section 74 at the front of the rear slot 62. As is best seen in FIG. 4, the front inclined slot 72 is traversed by the bearing member 56 before the rear bearing member 58' reaches the rear inclined section 74. Further forward movement of the. movable shelf 40 from the position shown in FIG. 4 causes the front bearing members 56' to pass over a horizontal slot section 76, while at the same time the rear bearing member 58"moves up the rear inclined section 74. This rear slot 62 also has a horizontal slot section 78 forwardly of the inclined slot section 74.

It is well to provide the movable shelf 40 with a releasable locking means when the movable shelf is in its first raised position so that the movable shelf may not be inadvertently shifted rearwardly when items are resting on the movable shelf. If this were to occur such items might be wiped off the movable shelf by the front rail 44 of the fixed shelf 38 as themovable shelf were suddenly shifted to its stored position of FIG. 3.

This releasable locking means is shown in the front slot 60 as a vertical detent 79 forwardly of the horizontal slot section 76 such that the bearing member 56' will naturally fall into the detent. This detent 78 is curved downwardly and rearwardly such that when the front bearing 56 comes to rest at the bottom of the detent it underlies an overhead ledge 80, as is best seen in FIG. 5. The function of this curved detent section 78 is to cause the front bearing member 56' to ride beneath the overhead ledge portion 80 such that it is difficult to inadvertently shift the movable shelf 40 to its stored position by accidently striking against the front edge of the movable shelf. Thus, in order to unlock the movable shelf it is first necessary to give a slight pulling force on the front of the movable shelf 40 and then to lift the bearing members 56' out of the detent 78, and then to push rearwardly causing the bearing members 56' to slide along the horizontal section 76 at which time the rear bearing members 58 tend to slide across the horizontal section 78 and down the inclined slot section 74 at which time the front bearing members 56' will reach the inclined section 72 and start to drop causing the rear of the movable shelf 40 to slide beneath the fixed shelf 38.

It should be noted that the horizontal section 76 of the front slot 60 is slightly above the horizontal section 78 of the rear slot 62 such that when the front bearing members 56' slide into the vertical detent 78 and come to rest in the position shown in FIG. 5 the top surface of the movable shelf is generally flush with the top surface of the fixed shelf 38, so that it is easy to slide food items back and forth between the movable shelf 40 and the fixed shelf 38.

While the shelf assembly 18 is shown as being made of welded wire construction, it should be understood that other shelf materials could be substituted without departing from this invention. The shelf could also be made of solid glass or plastic that may be held in a suitable metal frame.

Modifications of this invention will occur to those skilled in this art. Therefore, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed but that it is intended to cover all modifications which are within the true spirit and scope of this invention as claimed.

We claim:

1. An adjustable shelf assembly comprising a pair of parallel side frames adapted to be supported in cantilever fashion from a vertical wall at the rear of the shelf assembly, a rigid shelf portion attached between the side frames at the rear portion of the side frames, and a movable shelf portion adapted to be supported from the side frames, and slidable means joining the movable shelf to the side frames so that the movable shelf is movable between a first raised position at the front of the shelf assembly so that its top surface is generally in the same horizontal plane as the top surface of the rigid shelf and a second lowered position when the movable shelf generally underlies the rigid shelf, said slidable means comprising elongated slot means in the two side frames and low friction bearing means supported on the sides of the movable shelf, said elongated slot means comprising a front slot and a rear slot in each side frame, the said bearing means comprising a front bearing member operating in each front slot and a rear bearing member operating in each rear slot, each rear slot having an upwardly inclined section just in front of the front edge of the rigid shelf as well as a short horizontal section at the top portion of the inclined section, each front slot having a taller upwardly inclined section adjacent the front portion of the side frame as well as a longer horizontal section at the top portion of the said last-mentioned inclined section, the front-most portion of the said longer horizontal section comprising a downwardly and rearwardly directed section to serve as an automatic locking means, whereby when the front bearing members of the movable shelf are lowered into the said downwardly directed section the movable shelf tends to shift slightly toward the rigid shelf and substantially close the gap between the movable shelf and the rigid shelf and form a single horizontal continuous shelf.

2. An adjustable shelf assembly as recited in claim 1 wherein the front bearing members of the movable shelf must be raised out of the downwardly and rearwardly directed section by a forwardly and upwardly directed force so as to tilt the movable shelf at an angle so that it is able to clear the rigid shelf and may be lowered beneath the rigid shelf.

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US4781127 *May 5, 1986Nov 1, 1988Conley John LBench glide system
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Classifications
U.S. Classification108/75, 312/246, 108/143, 108/138
International ClassificationA47B96/02, F25D25/02
Cooperative ClassificationF25D2325/021, A47B96/025, F25D25/02, F25D2325/022, F25D2325/023, F25D2331/803
European ClassificationA47B96/02G, F25D25/02