BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to latching mechanisms for closure members and, more particularly, relates to a latching mechanism which is actuable from either interiorly or exteriorly of a refrigerator or freezer cabinet.
2. Description of the Prior Art 469,863,
Latch arrangements which may be actuated from either side of a closure member are generally old in the art and the same includes slidable latch bolt members capable of initiating unlocking of the closure member. Such is shown, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 469,863,but no known prior art latching arrangements permit free and easy initiation of release of the latch from the interior of a cabinet on one side of the closure member while, at the same time, utilizing on the other side of the closure member a conventional, inexpensive locking arrangement which must be unlocked to permit movement of the latching member to an unlatched position.
Such an arrangement would provide an extremely convenient lock and latching means for a refrigerator or freezer cabinet door since the same would provide a positive acting lock for the locking of the refrigerator or freezer cabinet door when entrance thereto was desired to be denied and also would preclude the possibility of an infant being trapped within the freezer or refrigerator by the use of a latching arrangement which could be easily, conveniently actuated from the interior of the cabinet to release the closure member.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention provides a latching mechanism for use with a refrigerator or freezer door or the like which includes a swingable latch bolt that may be actuated by an unlocking of a conventional, tubular lock mechanism by a rotation of its pintle member that rotates the latch bolt out of engagement with its strike plate. The latching mechanism also includes a telescoping feature which permits actuation of the latch from inside the cabinet on which it is disposed. More specifically, the latch bolt is spring loaded to urge it into an unlatched, disengaged position with the strike plate so that manual engagement of an actuating means disengages it from engagement with a shoulder formed on the latch bolt and permits the latch bolt to go to a disengaged relationship relative to the strike plate. The latch bolt may again be moved to its untelescoped, strike plate engaging position by movement of the latch bolt outwardly from its telescoped position by the use of a pair of pliers or the like. The reengagement of the actuating means then occurs automatically with the shoulder on the latch member through the internal spring bias of actuating means.
For a better understanding of the invention, reference may be had to the preferred embodiment, exemplary of the invention, shown in the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the lock and latching mechanism showing its relationship to the strike plate when in latched condition;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the latch mechanism of FIG. 2 showing the latch member and spring urging means therefor; and
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional elevational view of the cabinet door showing one manner of actuation of the invention from interiorly of the cabinet.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
The environment in which the novel latching mechanism 10 of the instant invention is disposed is illustrated in FIG. 1, wherein it can be seen that a closure member 16 is disposed in close adjacency to a refrigerator or freezer cabinet 12 or the like having a pair of side walls 14 (only one shown). The cabinet 12 is conventional and includes, beside the side walls, back, bottom and top walls (not shown) to form an enclosure which is completed by the abutment of closure member 16 with the front portions of the side walls of the cabinet 12. The closure member 16, as is conventional, is pivoted (not shown) so as to swing away from the side wall 14 to provide an opening for ingress into the cabinet 12 and to swing into abutting engagement with the side wall 14 to provide a completely closed cabinet 12 for the storage of frozen food stuff and the like.
The latch mechanism 10 includes a latch strike plate element 18 of general right angular configuration, with a leg 20 thereof being fastened to the inner surface of side wall 14 by any conventional means such as rivets or screws or the like (not shown) and with another leg 22 thereof extending generally parallel to the closure member 16 and serving as the strike plate of the latch mechanism 10.
A latch bolt 24 of cylindrical cross-section is provided in the latch mechanism 10 to engage behind the strike plate 22 of latch strike plate element 18 to thereby maintain the closure member 16 in a closed and secured condition relative to the cabinet 12. The latch bolt 24 extends outwardly towards the side wall 14 and strike plate 22 from a keeper member 26 which provides for sliding movement of the latch bolt 24. This sliding movement will be described in greater detail later in the specification.
Keeper member 26, in turn, is rigidly fastened to a pintle member 28 that is capable of rotary motion. Pintle member 28 is encompassed within an extends from a lock body 30, with this lock body 30 including a pair of flat sides 32, 32 which engage with corresponding flat edges 34, 34 of a generally circular bore 36 extending through the outer portion of closure member 16. The lock body 30 is prevented from inward and outward movement relative to closure member 16 by a radially extending, annular flange 38 disposed at the outer end of lock body 30 and integral therewith and a nut 40 which is screwingly attached to lock body 30 behind the closure member 16 and tightened up into abutting engagement therewith, threads being formed on the lock body 30 on this portion so as to facilitate this purpose. Washers 42 and 44 are also disposed on the lock body 30 so as to provide a secure and tight assembly of the lock body 30 to the wall of the closure member 16, with the washer 42 being disposed in abutting relation with the annular flange 38 and the washer 44 being disposed in abutting relation with nut 40.
The lock body 30 and pintle 28 may be placed in a locked condition relative to each other as is conventional generally in the lock art and, unless released by a key (not shown), the pintle member 28 is arrested from rotation relative to the lock body 30. Insertion of the key into a slot 46 of lock body 30 and a turning thereof permits a release between the lock body 30 and pintle 28 so that the pintle 28 is capable of rotating motion relative to the lock body 30 as driven by the inserted key. Such an arrangement is conventional in the prior art so that no further details will be given relative to the structural arrangement of the pintle 28 in the lock body 30.
As can be seen most clearly in FIG. 2, the pintle 28 is rigidly attached to the keeper member 26 by welding or the like so that rotation of it rotates the keeper 26 and the lock bolt 24 to disengage the lock bolt 24 from the strike plate 22. Thus, a lock actuated latching arrangement is provided for use with a cabinet structure which can be opened from the outside by a key whenever the user desires.
So as to permit the actuation of disengagement of the latch bolt 24 from the strike plate 22 from inwardly of the enclosure formed by the cabinet 12, the latch bolt 24 is mounted within the keeper 26 in the following manner. Keeper member 26 is formed from a pair of keeper portions 48 and 50, with the same being maintained in aligned relationship for telescopic movement of the latch bolt 24 because of their aforesaid fixed attachment to pintle member 28. The keeper portions 48 and 50 are spaced apart linearly, relative to each other and transverse to pintle member 28 a distance of approximately two-thirds of the diameter of the pintle member 28 to permit the reception therebetween of a cocking slide member 52. This member is of a generally closed rectangular configuration to provide a clip-like structure disposed around the latch bolt 24 and having a downwardly depending front side 54. Front side 54 engages against a shoulder 56 formed in the latch bolt 24 by means of a cross groove 58 disposed along the front side of the latch bolt 24.
A spring slide actuating member 60 which has a pair of engaging ends 62, 64 also provides a clip-like structure that engages around the remote ends of the keeper portions 48 and 50 with the said engaging ends deforming slightly and by spring retention, through the inherent resiliency of spring slide actuating member 60, being closely held to the keeper member 26. An indented portion 66 is formed on the spring slide actuating member 60 intermediate its ends and in aligned relationship with the groove 58 so as to provide a receiving means for the cocking slide member 52 so that the same is received within the indented portion 66 and is spring biased by the spring slide actuating member 60 to place the front side 54 thereof into abutment with the shoulder 56 of groove 58.
To insure transverse abutting engagement between the shoulder 56 and front side 54 and also to provide a cocking and spring biasing means to urge the latch bolt 24 towards a disengaged position, a spring means 68 is disposed between an end flange 70 integral with a lock bolt 24 and an annular shoulder 72 formed in the keeper member 26. Thus, release of engagement between the shoulder 56 and front side 54 permits latch bolt 24 to move away from the engagement with latch strike 22.
It should be clear from the description just offered that the latch bolt 24 is normally cocked towards an unlatched condition by means of spring means 68 and that the same is only prevented in its movement to this position by the engagement of the cocking slide member 52 with latch bolt 24. Since the spring slide actuating member 60 offers some resistance to outward deformation, a certain force must be applied thereto to initiate unlatching, the same normally being selected, for example, as a loading of approximately 15 pounds. Thus, engagement of the cocking slide member 52 from the interior side of the cabinet and movement thereof outwardly towards the closure member 16 causes the cocking slide member 52 to move outwardly into a space 72 formed between it and the pintle member 28. Sufficient movement of the cocking slide member 52, in this direction, moves the same out of engagement with latch bolt 24 and then the spring means 68 moves the lock bolt 24 in a longitudinal direction till the end flange 70 of lock bolt 24 engages against an end cap 74 of keeper member 26. Such movement places the lock bolt 24 in a removed position relative to the latch plate 22 so that the closure member 16 is no longer in a latched condition and a very light push thereon will cause it to swing outwardly to permit the escape of any child trapped within the cabinet 12.
So as to insure iniation of unlatching of latch bolt 24 from interiorly of the cabinet 12, an additional bearing surface may be provided which engages cocking slide member 52 to force it outwardly. As illustrated in FIG. 3, such a bearing surface may take the form of a pivoted lever 82 that is pivoted to closure member 16 by a pivot journal 84 so that the lever 82 hangs downwardly within the cabinet 12 and abuttingly engages the cocking slide member 52. Slight engagement of the lever 82 in a direction that turns it clockwise, then, will cause outward movement of the cocking slide member 52 and unlatching of the latch bolt 24. Other means than the lever 82, such as a movable panel, for example, that would function so as to increase the bearing area which a trapped occupant might engage in his attempt to escape would function as well as the lever 82.
In order to complete the assemblage of the latch mechanism 10 to the cabinet 12 and so as to insure proper alignment of its parts and to make pilfering of the cabinet 12 more difficult, a restrainer plate 76 (FIG. 2) is provided having a bore 78 through which pintle member 28 extends. This bore somewhat loosely receives the pintle member 28, however, it is provided with insufficient clearance to permit the pintle member 28 and lock body 30 from movingly distorting relative to the remainder of cabinet 12 a sufficient amount to permit unlatching either accidentally or surreptitiously. Restrainer plate 76 may be conveniently attached to the cabinet 12 by a struck out portion 80 formed on the closure member 16, with the restrainer plate 76 riveted or screwed thereto.
It should be clear from the foregoing description that a latch mechanism has been provided which fulfills all the advantages set out in the beginning portion of the specification and that the same is conveniently workable with a standard, conventional lock body 30 and that this portion of the lock and latch assembly, because of its conventionality, would be extremely inexpensive. Further, the latch mechanism 10 offers an easy disengagement for the latch bolt as the same is initiated inwardly of the cabinet 12 and, because of its location, this initiating means would tend to be struck and move in an outward direction by an infant who was closed within the cabinet 12 and struggling in an attempt to obtain escape. It should also be noted that many modifications may be made to the latching device described as exemplary only and that the same would still fall within its spirit and scope.