US 3870262 A
A swingable, demountable mailbox support for roadside use. A horizontal bar having a mailbox at one end is slidably supported by upper and lower bearings, the lower bearing being nearer the mailbox end of the bar than the upper bearing. The bearings are fixedly oriented with respect to each other at the upper end of an upright mounting post. A pivot is provided to permit the bearings to swing about a vertical axis while retaining their fixed, mutual orientation. When struck by a vehicle, the mailbox and horizontal bar swing about the vertical axis, and the bar slips from the bearing supports to land safely upon the ground along the edge of the roadway.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Manning, Jr.
[ Mar. 11, 1975 Primary ExaminerRoy D. Frazier Assistant Examiner-Robert W. Gibson, Jr.
Attorney, Agent, or Firm-H. Dale Palmatier; James R. Haller  ABSTRACT A swingable, demountable mailbox support for roadside use. A horizontal bar having a mailbox at one end is slidably supported by upper and lower bearings. the lower bearing being nearer the mailbox end of the bar than the upper bearing. The bearings are fixedlyoriented with respect to each other at the upper end of an upright mounting post. A pivot is provided to permit the hearings to swing about a vertical axis while retaining their fixed, mutual orientation. When struck by a vehicle, the mailbox and horizontal bar swing about the vertical axis, and the bar slips from the bearing supports to land safely upon the ground along the edge of the roadway.
9 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures SWINGABLE, DEMOUNTABLE MAILBOX SUPPORT BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Particularly in winter, when snow drifts line the roads, roadside mailboxes and particularly their supporting structures are often broken when the overhanging mailboxes are struck by snow plows or other vehicles. Mailboxes of this type ordinarily are mounted at the end of a horizontal arm which in turn is attached to a post anchored in the ground adjacent the road edge, and such rigid supporting structures suffer heavily when mailboxes are struck by vehicles. Various attempts have been made to solve this problem, but I am aware of none that have met with success.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a mailbox support for roadside use which is swingable and demountable. The support comprises a substantially horizontal bar having a mailbox at one end. An upright mounting post is provided having at its upper end horizontally and vertically spaced, upwardly and downwardly oriented bearings adapted to slidingly receive therebetween and to horizontally support the bar with the upwardly oriented bearing being nearest the mailbox end of the bar. The bearings are fixedly oriented with respect to each other. A pivot is provided to permit the bearings to swing about a vertical axis while retaining their mutual, fixed orientation. Upon being struck by a vehicle, the mailbox and bar are swung about the vertical axis in contact with the bearings and the bar slides lengthwise from contact with the bearings and is thus freed from the post to land safely on the ground along the edge of the roadway. The striking force of the vehicle is thus largely expended in swinging the bar and mailbox and in freeing the bar from the post. Little if any damage results to the post or to the mailbox and bar, and the latter is deposited safely away from the path of the vehicle.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a side view of the mailbox support of the invention shown partly broken away;
FIG. 2 is a front view taken along lines 2-2 of FIG. 1 and shown in partial cross section and partially broken away;
FIG. 3 is a broken away, crosssectional view taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 4 is a broken away, oblique view taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 1.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, a mailbox support of the invention designated generally as is provided with a horizontal mailbox support bar 12, a post designated generally as 14, and a bracket or housing 16 slidably supporting the horizontal bar 12 at the top of the post 14. The bottom end 14.1 of the post is anchored in the ground, as illustrated, or may be attached to any solid support along the roadway so that a mailbox 18 at the end of the horizontal arm 12 projects outwardly to the roadside edge where it may be easily reached by a letter carrier in a vehicle. The post 14 is provided along its length with a pivot designated generally as 14.2 so that the horizontal bar 12 and housing 16 may pivot about the-axis of the post.
With reference to FIGS. l-3, the horizontal bar 12 is desirably rectangular in cross section, as illustrated in FIG. 2. The bar is preferably of strong, lightweight, low inertia material such as square aluminum tubing. At one end 12.1, the bar has a plate or board 18.1 attached to its upper surface and the mailbox 18 is attached to the upper surface of the plate, although the mailbox may be hung from beneath the end of the bar 12 or otherwise affixed to the bar. The bar is preferably of uniform diameter throughout its length and has smooth walls so that the bar may slide lengthwise easily against a bearing, as will'be more fully explained below. As depicted in FIG. 1, the center of gravity of the horizontal bar 12 with mailbox 18 attached is shifted from the midpoint of the bar toward the front, or mailbox, end of the bar, and may be slidingly adjusted lengthwise within the housing 16 as desired.
The post 14 includes a lower tube 20 and" an upper tube 22, the upper tube being telescopically received within the lower tube. The lower tube desirably includes one or more anchor plates 24 attached by welding or the like and which extend into the ground in vertical planes and which tend to restrain the lower tube from wobbling back and forth. The vertical planes in which the anchor plates 24 lie preferably are parallel to the edge of the roadway to prevent the lower tube from rocking when the mailbox is opened and closed and to provide firm support against sagging due to the offset weight of the-mailbox and horizontal arm. To resist stress placed on the lower tube 20 upon impact of a motor vehicle with the mailbox, anchor plates may alternatively or additionally be attached to the lower tube so as to lie in vertical planes normal to the roadway edge, or at an angle to the roadway edge.
The upper tube 22 extends from the end 20.1 of the lower tube, and to the upper end of the upper tube is connected a housing 16, which will be described below. Carried about the periphery of the upper tube 22 is a sleeve 26 which slides lengthwise on the upper tube and which is locked to the upper tube by a set screw 26.1. The lower end 26.2 of the sleeve bears against the upper end 20.1 of the lower tube 20, holding the upper tube 22 at a given height. The length of telescopic insertion of the upper tube into the lower tube, andhence the height of the mailbox support, is governed by the position of the sleeve 26 along the upper tube 22. An externally accessible grease fitting 20.3 is attached near the upper end 20.1 of the lower tube 20, and communicates with the interior of the tube 20 so that grease under pressure may be forced between the telescoping ends of the upper and lower tubes to lubricate the same. Nylon or other bushings may be employed between the tubes, if desired, to reduce any wobble between the tubes and to reduce friction.
The upper end 20.1 of the lower tube is desirably cut at an angle so that its edge defines a plane oblique to the axis of the tube. The bottom end 26.2 of the sleeve is also cut at an angle so as to lie flushly against the angled upper end of the lower tube. The outer edges 20.2 and 26.3 of the mating ends of the lower tube and sleeve are beveled as shown in FIG. 4 so thatupon rotation of the upper tube 22 with respect to the lower tube 20, the mating edges of the lower tube and the sleeve coact so as to cam the upper tube in an upwardly directube, the weight of the latter and of the horizontal bar, mailbox and housing upon the camming, mating surfaces 20.1 and 26.2 urges the upper tube to rotate until the mating surfaces are in flush engagement. The lower tube is anchored in the ground so that the horizontal bar 12 extends outwardly towards the road edge when the mating, camming surfaces are in flush engagement.
The housing 16 is inverted U-shaped in cross section, as shown in FIG. 2, the crossbar of the U forming the top wall 16.1 and the legs of the U forming the side walls 16.2 of the housing. The side walls 16.2 preferably are shaped as right triangles, the top wall 16.1 defining one leg of the triangle and the vertical edge 16.3 of the side wall forming the other leg. Attached between the edges 16.3 of the side walls is the upper end of the upper tube 22, the top end of this tube being downwardly spaced from the wall 16.1 of the housing. The tube 22 may be bolted to the housing by bolts 16.4, or may be welded or otherwise affixed to the housing.
The topmost end 22.1 of the upper tube is spaced from the upper wall 16.1 of the housing, as noted above, and has a smooth, upper bearing surface upon which the horizontal bar 12 may slide, as depicted best in FIG. 3. The top and side walls of the housing 16, together with the upper bearing surface of the upper tube 22, define a rectangular channel in which the horizontal bar 12 is loosely housed. The end of the housing laterally spaced from the post is provided with a downwardly turned lip 16.5 having a smooth, downwardly oriented bearing surface for bearing against the upper surface of the horizontal rod 12.
If desired, the downwardly extending lip 16.5 of the top wall of the housing may be replaced by one or more downwardly extending projections having bearing surfaces which are adapted to bear against the upper surface of the horizontal arm 12. In similar fashion, the top end 22.1 of the upper tube 22 may be provided with an upwardly extending projection serving as a bearing against which the bottom surface of the horizontal rod 12 may bear. The housing may take the form of a bracket rigidly attached to the upper end of the upper tube, the bracket extending over the horizontal bar and having a downwardly oriented surface defining the bearing contacting the upper surface of the bar. The upwardly and downwardly oriented bearings are spaced vertically a sufficient distance to enable the bar 12 to be inserted between them and to be retained in a substantially horizontal position, and the bearings are spaced horizontally a sufficient distance to easily support the weight of the heavier outwardly extending mailbox end of the bar.
The upper and lower tubes 22 and 20 and the sleeve 26 may be made of round, seamless steel tubing, and the upper tube ordinarily is telescopically inserted into the lower tube for a sufficient distance to permit the height of the mailbox to be raised as snow conditions along the roadway, or as regulations, require. The lower end of the lower tube may, if desired, be anchored in concrete. The housing 16 is preferably made of steel of sufficient thickness as to avoid bending or twisting upon impact of a vehicle with the mailbox, and the steel members preferably are treated to resist corrosion.
When force, such as centrifugal force, is applied to the mailbox and bar in the direction shown by the arrow 30 in FIG. 1, the bar slides outwardly from its contacts with the bearings and is freed from the housing, coming to rest safely on the ground alongsidethe road edge. The thus-described demountable nature of the mailbox bar permits the bar and mailbox to absorb a great proportion of impact force of a vehicle. Were the bar rigidly supported, or capable only of swinging upon impact, the force of the impact would be transmitted to, and ultimately. absorbed by, the post, thus tending to loosen or break the post. I have found that when struck by a vehicle moving in the range of from about 5 to 45 mile per hour, the mailbox bar separates from the post and the post remains unharmed. When nudged by vehicles moving extremely slowly, the horizontal bar does not separate from the post. but rather merely swings out of the way and thereafter returns to its original position by the camming action of the mating edges of the lower tube and sleeve.
While I have described a preferred embodiment of the present invention, it should be understood that various changes, adaptations, and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention and the scope of the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
l. A swingable, demountable mailbox support for roadside use comprising a substantially horizontal bar having a mailbox at one end, an upright mounting post having at its upper end a bracket extending over the horizontal bar, the upper end of the post defining an upwardly oriented bearing and the bracket providing a downwardly oriented bearing, said bearings being horizontally and vertically spaced and slidingly receiving therebetween and horizontally supporting the horizontal bar, the bar being free of obstructions preventing it from sliding outwardly from between and completely disengaging the bearings, the upwardly oriented bearing being nearest the end of the bar bearing the mailbox and the bearings being fixedly oriented with respect to each other, and means permitting the bearings to swing about a vertical axis while retaining their fixed mutual orientation,
whereby the horizontal bar is caused to swing about the vertical axis in contact with the bearings when the mailbox is struck by a vehicle, the bar sliding outwardly from between the bearings and becoming freed from the post.
2. The mailbox support of claim 1 wherein the bracket is rigidly attached to the post and wherein the post has a pivot along its length permitting its upper end to pivot about its axis with respect to its lower end.
3. The mailbox support according to claim 2 wherein the upright post comprises telescoping, inner and outer support tubes respectively having mating telescoping ends and remote ends, the remote end of one tube being adapted for insertion in the ground, and the remote end of the other tube being fixedly attached to the bracket for supporting the horizontal rod, the inner tube bearing along its length a lengthwise adjustable sleeve adapted to bear against the telescoping end of the outer tube to fix the minimum overall height of the post.
4. The mailbox support of claim 3 wherein the outer tube end and the sleeve have mating surfaces defining a plane which is oblique to the axis of the tubes, rotation of the upper tube with respect to the lower tube causing the mating surfaces to coact and to cam upwardly the upper tube, and the mating ends coacting to urge the tubes into their original orientation when rotational force is removed from the upper tube.
5. The mailbox support of claim 3 wherein the end of the lower tube adapted for insertion in the ground includes outwardly extending, vertically oriented anchor plates adapted to support the lower tube against displacement from its upright orientation.
6. A swingable, demountable mailbox support for roadside use comprising:
an upright post including upper and lower coaxial tubes having telescoping ends permitting rotation of one tube within the other about their mutual, upright axes, the lower tube being fixed with respect to the ground and the upper tube terminating upwardly in a smooth end defining an upwardly oriented bearing;
means for adjusting the telescoping length of the tubes;
a horizontal, smooth-walled, tubular rod with a mailbox at one end and being free of obstructions preventing it from sliding outwardly from between and disengaging the bearings;
an upwardly extending housing rigidly mounted to the upper tube and having top and side walls which with the smooth end of the upper tube define a horizontal channel dimensioned to loosely house the horizontal rod, the top wall of the housing including a downwardly oriented bearing spaced horizontally from the post, the upwardly and downwardly oriented bearings being mutually oriented to slidably receive the horizontal rod between them, the mailbox end of the rod being nearer the upwardly oriented bearing; whereby the impact of a vehicle against the mailbox causes the horizontal arm to pivot about the axis of the post, the arm thereupon sliding outwardly through the bearings and separating from the post.
7. The mailbox support of claim 6 wherein the housing comprises an inverted U-shaped metal plate, the legs of the U being rigidly mounted to the upper end of the upper tube, the crossbar of the U and adjacent portions of the legs respectively defining the top and side walls of the horizontal channel and the top wall terminating at one end of the channel spaced from the post in a downwardly turned lip defining the downwardly oriented bearing. 7
8. The mailbox support of claim 7 wherein the channel and the arm are of substantially rectangular cross section and are mutually dimensioned to prevent twisting of the arm within the channel.
9. The mailbox support of claim 6 wherein the lower tube terminates in an upper end lying in a plane oblique to the tube axis and having beveled outer edges, and wherein the upper tube is provided with a lengthwise adjustable sleeve terminating in a lower camming end configured to mate with the upper end of the lower tube and having beveled outer edges, whereby, after rotational displacement of the upper tube, the upper tube is urged to regain its original orientation by camming contact of the beveled ends of the lower tube and the sleeve.