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Publication numberUS3896930 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 29, 1975
Filing dateAug 28, 1972
Priority dateDec 20, 1971
Publication numberUS 3896930 A, US 3896930A, US-A-3896930, US3896930 A, US3896930A
InventorsCollin Herbert S
Original AssigneeCollin Herbert S
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Washing machine agitator brace
US 3896930 A
Abstract
An agitator for a top loading clothes washing machine is protected from damage during shipment by a plurality of rigid foam plastic braces which are arranged radially about the agitator. The outer end of each brace bears against the machine housing and the upper end of the clothes basket within the machine. The ends of the braces are contoured specially to facilitate wedging of the braces firmly into place. The braces are inserted individually and in a number which varies with the requirements of the particular washing machine being braced. A standard size brace may be employed with a variety of washing machines having different agitator and tub dimensions because of the deformability of the braces. The standard brace may be provided with weakened portions which can be broken away to facilitate use of the brace with some washing machines of substantially different configuration than those normally encountered.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

14 1 July 29, 1975 1 WASHING MACHINE AGITATOR BRACE Herbert S. Collin, 56 Bristol St., Newton, Mass. 02118 1221 Filed: Aug. 28, 1972 121 App]. No.: 284,208

Related U.S. Application Data [63] Continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 209,551, Dec. 20,

1971, abandoned.

[76] Inventor:

[52] U.S. Cl 206/320; 68/3 R; 206/523 [51] Int. Cl B65d 81/06; 865d 85/00 58] Field of Search 206/46 R, 46 M, 46 FC, 206/320; 68/3 R [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,160,061 12/1964 Moy 206/3 X 3,184,048 5/1965 Bjerum 68/3 R 3,187,887 6/1965 Charles et a1 68/3 R 3,321,071 5/1967 Elwell 68/3 R X 3,620,365 11/1971 Elwcll 206/46 M Primary Examiner1-larvey C. Hornsby Assistant ExaminerPhilip R. Coe Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Arthur Z. Bookstein ABSTRACT An agitator for a top loading clothes washing machine is protected from damage during shipment by a plurality of rigid foam plastic braces which are arranged radially about the agitator. The outer end of each brace bears against the machine housing and the upper end of the clothes basket within the machine. The ends of the braces are contoured specially to facilitate wedging of the braces firmly into place. The braces are inserted individually and in a number which varies with the requirements of the particular washing machine being braced. A standard size brace may be employed with a variety of washing machines having different agitator and tub dimensions because of the deformability of the braces. The standard brace may be provided with weakened portions which can be broken away to facilitate use of the brace with some washing machines of substantially different configuration than those normally encountered.

13 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures PATENTEB JUL 2 9 I975 SHEET 3, 896, 930 JUL29|975 PATtNTED SHEET 2 PATENTEI] JUL 2 91975 SHEET FIG. 8

1- WASIIING MACHINE AGITATOR BRACE This application is a continuation-in-part of my prior copending application Ser. No. 209,551, filed Dec. 20, 1971, and now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to braces for rigidifying clothes washer agitators and, more particularly, to an improved bracing arrangement which may be built up from a number of individual braces. A number of bracing devices are available commercially and generally include radially extending elements which are adapted to rigidify the agitator. Some of these devices employ corrugated cardboard elements and are capable of only a single use. Another device employs a plurality of radially extending spoke-like elements, each of which is retained between the agitator and the rim of the machine housing. The latter type has an elastic cord which is passed through a transverse hole in the inner region of each brace. After the cord has been passed through all of the braces its loose ends must be tied or otherwise fastened. Additionally, once the device is thus assembled, it is impractical to remove or add any braces from the array because it has a fixed number of braces, such as four. One of the braces must be left loose in the event that the particular machine being braced requires only three such braces. Conversely, if the standard array has only three braces it is unusable with a washing machine which would require four braces. In the event that one of the braces in the array becomes damaged, the entire array may well be disposed of because of the relative inconvenience of repairing the device by adding a new brace. Additionally, the prior devices of the type described sometimes display a tendency to flip from their initial positions.

One of the difficulties presented in the bracing of washing machine agitators is the wide variety of configurations of the various types of commercially available machines. In many instances the shipper must improvise a brace specially suited to the particular machine. It is among the primary objects of the invention to provide an improved agitator bracing device which is adapted for use with most machines and which overcomes the foregoing difficulties.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In contrast to the foregoing prior arrangements, the invention employs a number of individual braces which usually need not be fastened together or, when it is desired to fasten the braces together, this need not be done until each of the individual bracesis securely placed in the washing machine. Thus, a rigidifying array of such braces is built up within the machine brace by brace to fit the machine and in accordance with the number of such braces required or preferred in the particular machine. The outer end of each brace has a surface which is contoured to engage smoothly the clothes holding basket and the rim of the opening in the machine housing and to enable the brace to be wedged into place. The gripping force between the end of the brace and the clothes holding basket and rim of the machine is increased as the brace is forced into position. Selected surfaces of the ends of the braces are designed to engage the agitator and the rim of the washing machine at an incline so that in the event that the standard size brace does not quite fit the particular washing machine it may be pressed further against the washing machine parts to wedge further the brace in position. The permanently deformable, crushable nature of the foamed plastic material employed enables the wedged surfaces to deform permanently to the contour of the washing machine which precludes these surfaces from tending to spring back to their original position. A further feature of the invention resides in one or more slots formed in the brace which facilitates compression of the brace and also serves to retain an elastic binding cord when this is desired. Still another feature of the invention resides in the provision of a weakened portion which can be broken away from the standard-shaped brace to enable it to be used with less conventional types of washing machines.

It is among the objects of the invention to provide an improved bracing device to retain firmly the agitator of a top loading clothes washing machine as during shipment.

Another object of the invention is to provide an improved brace structure of the type described having improved stability characteristics.

A further object of the invention is to provide a bracing device of the type described in which individual braces may be removed or added easily.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a device of the type described which is simple to use and is of inexpensive manufacture.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The foregoing and other objects and advantages of the invention will be understood more fully from the following detailed description. thereof, with reference to the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is an illustration of the device when fitted in a washing machine;

FIG. 2 is a side elevation of a typical individual bracing element;

FIG. 2A is an illustration of the manner in which the outer end of one of the braces may be deformably wedged into engagement with the rim of the washing machine;

FIG. 2B is an illustration of the manner in which the inner end of the brace may be deformably wedged into engagement with the upper end of the agitator of the machine;

FIG. 4 is an elevation of the agitator-engaging, inner end of a modified form of the invention;

FIG. 5 is a side elevation of the inner end of the brace shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the inner end of the modified brace shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation of the brace modified to show the formation of a contoured slot in each side of the brace; and

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the modified brace shown in FIG. 7.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT FIG. 1 shows the manner in which the braces are arranged in the washing machine to support firmly the agitator. Each of the braces 10 have inner and outer ends 12, 14 respectively, the inner ends being adapted to bear against the agitator 16 and the outer ends being adapted to bear against the opening 18 in the machine housing 20 and the upper edge of the clothes basket 22 of the machine. A number of braces are disposed radially about the agitator 16. Typically, this will require three or four braces, depending on the machine. In some instances only two braces may be required. In the embodiment shown, the inner ends of the braces are engaged with the agitator between the agitator blades As shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, each brace is of identical configuration and may be formed from a lightweight inexpensive, crushable material such as rigid or semi-rigidd foam plastic material. I have found that polystyrene foam having a compression strength of between one and two pounds provides the desired degree of rigidity and crushability. Whatever the material selected, however, it is important that it is not so resilient as to enable the agitator to vibrate or oscillate during shipment which might cause the braces to loosen from their wedged fit.

The outer end of each braces includes a wedgeshaped indented portion 26 which defines an upper lip 28 extending outwardly from the upper surface of the brace. The outer end of each brace is intended to engage the washing machine, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 with the upper lip 28 resting on top of the rim of the washing machine opening, with the rim bearing against the indented portion 26. The lower region 30 of the outer end of each brace 10 is dimensioned so that it will engage snugly the upper portion of the clothes basket 22 in the machine, as shown. While the fit between the brace and the washing machine discussed above is ideal, it,should be noted that the relative dimensions of the washing machine parts vary between machines of different manufacture. In order to enable the brace to be fitted to machines of varying dimensions, the underside 32 of the lip 28 is formed at an incline to the horizontal. As shown in FIG. 2A this enables the surface 32 to be pressed more firmly downwardly to wedge the surface 32 against the edge of the opening 18. The permanently deformable, crushable nature of the material from which the brace is formed enables the edge 18 to dig into the inclined surface 32 thus forming its own permanent pocket 34. This retains the brace firmly and snugly and enables it to be adapted to most conventional top loading washing machines. It should be noted further that the lower region of the outer end of each brace is rounded, as at 36, to facilitate insertion of the lower end downwardly past the opening 18 and the basket 22. Further, it should be noted that the lower region 30 of the outer end of the brace similarly is deformable in the event that such permanent deformation is necessary in order to engage snugly the basket 22.

Preferably, each brace is inserted first with its inner end placed against the agitator and then its outer end pressed downwardly and firmly into engagement with the edge of the opening 18 and the basket 22. However, the reverse procedure may be employed with the outer end of the brace engaged, as its indentation 26, with the rim of the housing and thereafter pressing the inner end of the brace downwardly into firm wedged engagement with the agitator. In order to help retain the properly placed brace in place, the brace includes a slot 38 formed transversely therethrough and extending from the upper surface downwardly and inwardly as shown in FIG. 2. The slot 38 enables the brace to flex resiliently and longitudinally during insertion and therefore to impart a longitudinally expanding bias to the brace. The lower end of the slot 38 is enlarged for a purpose described below.

The inner end of each brace 10 similarly includes an inwardly extending lip 40 at its upper surface which is intended to bear on top of the agitator 16. The lip 40 defines an undercut region 44 which is intended to receive the upper end of the agitator 16 in a snug fit. The lower corner 46 of the inner end of the brace is rounded to facilitate smooth insertion of the device in further downward wedging of the brace if desired. The underside 48 of the lip 49 also is inclined upwardly from the horizontal for a purpose similar to that of the surface 32. In the event that the relative dimensions of the agitator in opening 18 do not cause the agitator to fit snugly in the region 44 then the inner end of the brace may be urged downwardly to cause the upper end of the agitator to wedge firmly into the undersurface 48 and to deform that surface to form a permanent pocket receptive to the agitator as suggested in FIG. 28. Additionally, it should be noted that the lip 40 projects beyond the inner surface 42 to accommodate the common upward tapering configuration of most agitators.

While in most instances the braces will retain themselves firmly in the washing machine, there may be occasions in which it is desirable to employ means to retain each of the braces more firmly together about the agitator. For this purpose, the braces may be bound together at their inner ends by an endless elastic member 50 as suggested in FIG. 1. The elastic member 50 is fitted simply into the slots 38 in the braces after the braces have been placed in the machine. The lower ends of the slots 38 preferably are enlarged to receive the elastic cord. The device may include a second, lower slot 52 similar to the slot 38. This enhances further the capability of the brace to flex in the manner described above in regard to the slot 38. Additionally, there may be some instances in which, because of the peculiarities of the particular machine, it is desirable to employ a pair of elastic cords 50. The additional slot 52 permits this. Thus, with the foregoing arrangement, the agitator and clothes basket of a variety of top loading clothes washing machines may be braced simply and easily. The ends of the braces are contoured to enable the brace to be urged into a snug relatively permanent fit. However, even when a further binding member, such as the cord 50 is used, there is no need to tie the ends and there is no knot which may become loosened inadvertently. The invention permits individual braces to be replaced or removed and enables an array of braces to be built up to fit the particular machine.

FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 show a modified embodiment of the invention which facilitates insertion of the brace into those machines having closely spaced agitator blades and with the inner end of the brace disposed between the adjacent agitator blades. In order to enhance the grip of the inner end 42' against the agitator between the blades, the lower corners of the inner end 42 of the brace are beveled as shown at 60. The beveled surfaces are formed so that their upper ends are tapered to narrower dimensions than their lower end. The surfaces 60 thus are inclined slightly downward and inwardly to provide a wedging effect of increasing force as the inner end=of the brace-is urged downwardly against the. agitator between the blades thereof.

FIGS. '7 and it show still another modified embodiment of-the invention which is adapted for use both as described'above and also in conjunction with less common washing machines inwhich thedimensions be tween the agitator and the rim of the machine or the clothes basket are relatively small. in order to enable the brace to be used with machines of such reduced dimensions, the braces are provided with a speciallyformed slot or score line, indicated generally by the reference character 56, extending along the sides of the device. The slot or score line 56 extends into'the sides of the brace to an extent depending on the thickness of the brace and should be deep enough to enable the outer end portion to be broken off along the line 56. The break line 56 is contoured as shown so that when the portion 58 is broken from thebrace, along the line 56, the surface at the outer remaining end of the brace will substantially assume the configuration of the line '56. This includes, at its lower end, an upwardly and outwardly curved region 60 which facilitates snug insertion of the outer end'of the reduced brace with the basket and/or rim of the washing machine. It also includes a projection 62 and a recessed portion 64 which function in much the same manner as the indented portion 26 described previously. The line 56 also defines an outwardly extendingllip dd which has an upwardly and outwardly curved lowers urface 68. This part of the device functions in much the same manner as the un derside 32 of the lip 28 describedabove. lt shouldd be noted that in this embodiment, the lower slot, shown in FIG. 2 may be omitted. While this modified embodiment thus may be accommodated to fit machines of substantially-reduced dimensions, the provision of the slot or score line 56 do not materially weaken the brace in the event that the brace is to be used in its entirety with a more conventional machineiconfiguration. The lines 56, of course, are identical and are aligned with each other onopposite sides of the brace.

It should be understood, howeyer, that the foregoing description of the invention is intended merely to be illustrative thereof and that,other rnodifications and embodiments may be apparent to those skilled in the art Without departing from its spirit.

.li-laving thus described the invention, what ll desire to claim and secure by Letters Patent is:

l. A bracing device for a top-loading clothes washing machine having an agitator element comprising:

an elongate member formed from a relatively rigid foam plastic material, said member having an inner end and an outer end, said inner end being adapted to engage said agitator and the outer end being adapted to engage the rim of the opening in said washing machine so that when said brace is used it extends radially and outwardly from said agitator; and

means forming a lip at at least one end of said brace,

said lip having an undersurface for engaging an edge of a portion of said machine, said undersurface being formed at an incline to the horizontal and being of a configuration which does not conform to the configuration of said edge of a portion of said machine, said foam plastic material being relatively crushable whereby said inclined undersurface of said lip may be wedged downwardly against said edge portion of said machine to perma =nently deform said undersurfacc and form a permanent pocket receptive to and engagedwith said edge'por'tion of said macl'iine, said pocket having a cohfigurationconforming to said edge portion of 5 said machine.

2. A bracing device for a top-loading clothes washing machine having an opening and an agitator element comprising:

' an elongate member formed from a relatively rigid foam plastic material, said member having an inner end and an outer end, said inner end being adapted to engage said agitator and said outer end being adapted to engage the rim of said opening in said washing machine so that when said brace is used it extends radially and outwardly from said agitator;

means forming a lip at each of the inner and outer ends of said brace, each lip having an undersurface; and the undersurface of the outer lip being inclined upwardly and outwardly and the under-surface of the inner lip being inclined upwardly and inwardly, said foam plastic material being relatively crushable whereby said inclined undersurfaces of said lips may be wedged downwardly against said agitator element and said rim of the opening to permanently deform said undersurfaces and form perma- .-nent pockets receptive to and engaged with'said respective portions of said agitator rim. 3. A bracing device for a top-loading clothes washing machine having an agitator ellement comprisingv an elongate member formed from a relatively rigid foam plastic material, said member having an inner end and an outer end, said inner end being adapted to engage said agitator and said outer end being adapted to engage the rim of said opening in said washing machine so that when said brace is used it extends radially and outwardly from said agitator; means forming a lip at each of the inner and outer ends of said brace, each of said lips having an undersurface formed at an incline tothe horizontal, the undersurface of the outer lip being inclined upwardly and outwardly and the undersurface of the inner lip being inclined upwardly and inwardly; and the lower corner of each end of said bracing device being of convex shape and adapted to permit the ends to be wedged firmly against their associated parts of said machine. 4. A bracing device for a top-loading clothes washing machine having an agitator element comprising:

an elongate member formed from a relatively rigid foam plastic material, said member having an inner end and an outer end, said inner end being adapted to engage said agitator and said outer end being adapted to engage the rim of said opening in said washing machine so that when said brace is used it extends radially and outwardly from said agitator; means forming a lip at each of the inner and outer ends of said brace, each of said lips having an undersuri'ace formed at an incline to the horizontal,

the undersurface of the outer lip being inclined up wardly and outwardly and the undersurface of the inner lip being inclined upwardly and inwardly; and

means forming a transverse slot in said bracing memher, said slot extending from the upper surface of said bracing member downwardly to enable said bracing member to be resiliently flexed along its longitudinal dimension.

5. A bracing device as defined in claim 4 further comprising:

said slot also extending inwardly and having the lower inner end thereof of larger dimensions than the upper end. 6. A bracing device as defined in claim 5 further comprising:

said lip formed at the outer end of said brace being spaced from the lower portion of the outer end of said brace by an undercut region, said lower end region of the outer end of said brace extending outwardly to substantially the same extent as said outwardly extending lip. 7. A brace device as defined in claim 4 further comprising:

means forming a second transverse slot in said bracing member, said second slot extending from the lower surface of said member upwardly and toward the inner end of said member. 8. A bracing member as defined in claim 2 further comprising:

said lip formed at the inner end of said bracing device extending inwardly beyond the lower regions of said inward end of said bracing device.

9. A bracing device for a top-loading clothes washing machine having an agitator element comprising:

an elongate member formed from a relatively rigid foam plastic material, said member having an inner end and an outer end, said inner end being adapted to engage said agitator and the outer end being adapted to engage the rim of the opening in said washing machine so that when said brace is used it extends radially and outwardly from said agitator; means forming a lip at at least one end of said brace,

said lip having an undersurface formed at an incline to the horizontal; and the inner end of said bracing device having beveled surfaces formed thereon at the innermost transverse corners of the inner end of said brace, said beveled surfaces being inclined slightly downwardly and inwardly. 10. A bracing device for a top-loading clothes washing machine having an agitator element comprising:

an elongate member formed from a relatively rigid foam plastic material, said member having an inner end and an outer end, said inner end being adapted to engage said agitator and said outer end being adapted to engage the rim of the opening in said washing machine so that when said brace is used it extends radially and outwardly from said agitator;

means forming a lip at each of the inner and outer ends of said brace, each of said lips having an undersurface formed at an incline to the horizontal, the undersurface of the outer lip being inclined up wardly and outwardly and the undersurface of the inner lip being inclined upwardly and inwardly;

said lip formed at the inner end of said bracing device extending inwardly beyond the lower regions of said inward end of said bracing device;

the inner end of said bracing device having beveled surfaces formed thereon at the innermost transverse corners of the inner end of said brace, said beveled surfaces being inclined slightly downwardly and inwardly.

1 1. A bracing device for a top-loading clothes washing machine having an agitator element comprising:

an elongate member formed from a relatively rigid I means forming a weakened region along each side of said member, said weakened regions being in substantial registry with each other and being adapted to enable the outer end of said member to be broken away fromthe remaining portions thereof, saidline being of a configuration such-that when said outer portion is broken, away, the outer end of said remaining portion of said member will'have an'up wardly and outwardly curved region at its lower portion, an outwardly extending lip at the upper, portion, said lip having an undersu'rfaceformed at an incline to the horizontal.

12. A bracing device as defined in claim IOwhei'ein said undersurfacce of said lip is formed in arcuate configuration extendingoutwardly and upwardly. 13. A bracing device as defined in claim 11 wherein said lip and said lower portion of said remaining outer end of said member are separated by an indented por? tion, said indented portion defining at'least a portion of i' said undersurface of said lip on said remaining portion of said member.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3160061 *Nov 13, 1962Dec 8, 1964 Tsoy k
US3184048 *Aug 6, 1962May 18, 1965Bjerum Verne GPacking brace
US3187887 *Nov 14, 1962Jun 8, 1965Iden Mfg Co IncPacking for washing machines
US3321071 *Jan 21, 1965May 23, 1967Iden Mfg Co IncWashing machine service unit
US3620365 *Jun 5, 1969Nov 16, 1971Elwell Maurice WWashing machine packing brace
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4240550 *Dec 20, 1979Dec 23, 1980Collin Herbert SWashing machine agitator brace
US4366902 *Apr 30, 1981Jan 4, 1983Whirlpool CorporationShipping system for automatic washer
US4836379 *Jul 8, 1987Jun 6, 1989Shaw William HModular shock-absorbing shipping pack
US7856796Apr 30, 2007Dec 28, 2010Litco International, Inc.Method for securing an automatic washer for shipping
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/320, 206/523, 68/3.00R
International ClassificationD06F39/00
Cooperative ClassificationD06F39/001
European ClassificationD06F39/00B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 12, 1982AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: COLLIN BOX & SUPPLY CO., BOSTON, MASS.
Owner name: COLLIN, HERBERT S.,
Effective date: 19820907
Nov 12, 1982ASAssignment
Owner name: COLLIN BOX & SUPPLY CO., BOSTON, MASS.
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:COLLIN, HERBERT S.,;REEL/FRAME:004063/0951
Effective date: 19820907