Title:
Cover indexing mechanism
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A barbecue apparatus is disclosed that allows a hinged lid to be rotationally reoriented so as to serve as a wind deflector when in its open position. While the base of the apparatus remains rigidly stationary, the fire bowl to which the lid is hinged is temporarily released from the base, lifted and rotated into a desired position and positively locked in place. Rotation of the burner in one direction serves to release the fire bowl from being rotationally locked to the base yet prevents its detachment therefrom while rotation in the opposite direction locks the fire bowl and associated components in place.



Inventors:
Mashburn, James S. (Lakewood, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/934978
Publication Date:
03/09/2006
Filing Date:
09/03/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
126/39B, 99/444
International Classes:
F24B1/195; A47J37/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PRICE, CARL D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FULWIDER PATTON LLP (6100 CENTER DRIVE SUITE 1200, LOS ANGELES, CA, 90045, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A barbecue apparatus, comprising: a base element; a fire bowl configured for engaging said base element in any of a plurality of discreet rotational orientations relative thereto; a lid hinged to said fire bowl; and a mechanism for releasably locking said fire bowl to said base element in a selected discreet rotational orientation.

2. The barbecue apparatus of claim 1, wherein said base element includes at least one upwardly extending indexing pin and said fire bowl has a circular arrangement of indexing holes formed therein such that alignment of said indexing pin with any of said indexing holes defines one of said discreet rotational orientations and receipt of said indexing pin in one of said indexing holes causes said fire bowl to be rotationally keyed to said base element.

3. The barbecue apparatus of claim 2, wherein said base element includes a plurality of upwardly extending indexing pins for receipt in selected indexing holes formed in said fire bowl.

4. The barbecue apparatus of claim 1, wherein said mechanism for releasably locking said fire bowl to said base element comprises a threaded fastener that urges said fire bowl against said base element.

5. The barbecue apparatus of claim 4, wherein said threaded fastener comprises a first threaded element extending upwardly from said base element through said fire bowl and a second threaded element for threadably receiving said first threaded element.

6. The barbecue apparatus of claim 5, wherein said first threaded element comprises a threaded tube and said second threaded element comprises a burner.

7. The barbecue apparatus of claim 6, wherein said burner further includes at least one wing element to facilitate rotation of said burner.

8. The barbecue apparatus of claim 7, further comprising a starter electrode, wherein said wing element is configured to cover said electrode when said burner is tightened against said fire bowl so as to afford protection to said electrode.

9. The barbecue apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a liner disposed within said fire bowl, a starter electrode extending from said fire bowl through an aperture formed in said liner and means for keying said liner to said fire bowl so as to maintain alignment of said electrode with said hole formed in said liner for all rotational orientations of said fire bowl relative to said base element.

10. The barbecue apparatus of claim 9, wherein said lid is hinged to said fire bowl by a bracket element affixed to an external surface of said fire bowl and wherein a portion of said bracket extends through said fire bowl to define a stop wherein such stop is configured for receipt in a notch formed in said liner so as to rotationally key said liner to said fire bowl.

11. A barbecue apparatus, comprising: a grease tray configured and positioned at the base of said barbecue apparatus wherein said grease tray has a threaded tube extending upwardly through its center and at least on upwardly extending indexing pin that is positioned near said threaded tube; a fire bowl having a centrally positioned hole formed therein for receiving said threaded tube and a series of indexing holes formed in a circular pattern about said centrally positioned hole wherein each of said series of indexing holes is configured for receiving said indexing pin for keying the rotational orientation of said fire bowl relative to said grease tray; a lid hinged to said fire bowl; and a burner configured for threadedly receiving said threaded tube and urging said fire bowl against said grease tray to prevent retraction of said indexing pin from one of said series of indexing holes.

12. The barbecue apparatus of claim 11, wherein said indexing pin has a length selected so as to allow said fire bowl to be lifted clear of said indexing pin when said burner is loosened but still threadedly engaged to said threaded tube so as to allow rotational reorientation of said fire bowl relative to said grease tray.

13. The barbecue apparatus of claim 12, further comprising a removable liner disposed within said fire bowl, a starter electrode extending from said fire bowl through an aperture formed in said liner and wherein said liner is rotationally keyed to said fire bowl such that said starter electrode remains aligned with said hole formed in said liner during rotational reorientation of said fire bowl relative to said grease tray.

14. The barbecue apparatus of claim 13, wherein said lid is hinged to said fire bowl by a bracket affixed to an outside surface of said fire bowl, wherein said bracket includes a tab that extends through said fire bowl to protrude inwardly from an inner surface of said fire bowl and which is configured for receipt in a notch formed in said liner to cooperate therewith to rotational key the liner to the fire bowl.

15. The barbecue apparatus of claim 12, further comprising a starter electrode and wing element extending from said burner, wherein such wing element is configured for facilitating rotation of said burner and for covering said starter electrode when rotated into position so as to provide protection therefor.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to a barbecue apparatus and, more particularly, to a barbecue apparatus that incorporates a mechanism for allowing a hinged lid to be rotationally shifted to a position in which it would most effectively serve as wind deflector while in its open position.

2. Brief Description of the Prior Art

It has previously been conventional practice to rely on the lid of a barbecue apparatus while in its open position to serve as a wind deflector. This not only facilitates the lighting of a charcoal briquette fire or the ignition of a gas-fired device but additionally prevents wind gusts from disrupting or even distinguishing the flame when the grill is uncovered during the cooking process. A number of different approaches have been taken in order to enable the lid to be readily used for such purpose. Lids that are not positively attached to the barbecue apparatus have previously been configured so as to enable the lid to be hooked onto the edge of the fire bowl which in the case of a round barbecue configuration allows for their positioning anywhere along the entire circumference. Lids that are not positively attached to the barbecue apparatus have inherent disadvantages however, including the risk of being damaged when inadvertently bumped into something or when dropped and in the case of boating applications, the risk of being dropped overboard and lost. Such risks are avoided with the use of hinged lids, but the ability to advantageously reposition the lid so as to effectively serve as a wind break is then typically compromised. While a free standing barbecue can of course simply be lifted in its entirety and rotated into a position in which the lid blocks the wind, repositioning a hinged lid on a barbecue that is fixed or semi-fixed in position is more problematic.

Barbecue configurations have previously been known wherein a fire bowl is centrally supported via a grease tray situated directly there below. The base of such fire bowl is sandwiched in place between the grease tray and a burner which is threaded onto a nipple that extends from the grease tray through the base of the fire bowl. The grease tray may be locked to the fire bowl in order to prevent relative rotation such as would be caused by an imbalanced weight distribution. In the event the lid is hinged to the fire bowl in such a device, reorientation of the device in order to advantageously position the opened lid so as to serve as a wind deflector would require a rather cumbersome manipulation and rearrangement of the barbecue's external support mechanism. In applications wherein the barbecue apparatus is cantilevered over the side of a boat, such requirement is especially problematic.

An improved barbecue configuration is therefore needed that allows a hinged lid to be quickly and easily reoriented so as to most effectively serve as a wind deflector without the need to manipulate the structure by which the entire barbecue is supported. It is additionally desirable to have the ability to positively lock the barbecue into the selected rotational orientation so as to preclude any inadvertent rotation during use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The barbecue apparatus of the present invention overcomes the shortcomings of previously known barbecues to the extent it enables its hinged lid to be quickly and easily repositioned so as to serve as a wind deflector while in its open position. The repositioning is accomplished without the need to manipulate or adjust the barbecue's support mechanism nor interfere therewith in any way which is especially advantageous for applications in which the barbecue is cantilevered over the side or stem of a boat or over for example the side of a balcony. Moreover, the rotational orientation is positively locked into place so as to prevent inadvertent rotation.

In accordance with the present invention, the barbecue apparatus includes a grease tray by which the barbecue is supported and which in turn supports a fire bowl to which the lid is hinged. The grease tray includes one or more upwardly extending indexing pins that are configured and positioned so as to cooperate with a plurality of indexing holes that are arranged in a circular pattern formed in the base of the fire bowl. Conversely, the fire bowl may include one or more downwardly extending indexing protuberances that cooperate with a circular arrangement of receiving holes or depressions formed in the grease tray to serve the indexing function. When the fire bowl is lifted clear of the indexing pin it can freely be rotated relative to the grease tray while lowering of the fire bowl such that the indexing pin extends through a selected indexing hole serves to rotationally lock the fire bowl to the grease tray. A burner that is threaded onto a threaded tube that extends upwardly from the center of the grease tray serves to limit the axial movement of the fire bowl relative to the grease tray. Full rotation of the threaded burner into engagement with the fire bowl prevents the fire bowl from being lifted clear of the indexing pin to thereby preclude relative rotation and additionally prevents any axial movement there between. Counterrotation of the threaded burner to a position sufficient to allow the fire bowl to be lifted clear of the indexing pin or pins allows the fire bowl to be rotationally repositioned relative to the grease tray yet nonetheless limits its upward travel to prevent it from becoming completely detached from the grease tray.

The burner may optionally be fitted with radially extending levers or wings that reduce the effort needed to tighten and loosen the burner. Such wings may additionally be configured so as to serve as a protective cover over a starter electrode should one be fitted. In such embodiments, the starter electrode may be affixed to the interior of the fire bowl and configured to protrude through an aperture formed in a fire bowl liner to a position immediately adjacent to the burner. By rotationally locking the liner to the fire bowl, the starter electrode and the aperture formed in the liner remain aligned with one another as the fire bowl is rotationally repositioned. Brackets to which the lid is hinged may be relied upon to serve the function of rotationally locking the liner to the fire bowl. By configuring the bracket to include a tab that extends inwardly from the fire bowl and engage a notch formed in the liner, rotation is precluded while the burner is relied upon to prevent the liner from being lifted clear of such tab.

Alternatively, the features of the present invention may readily be adapted to a charcoal burning barbecue wherein a simple knob or wingnut in cooperation with a threaded stud serves the function of the burner and threaded tube elements as described above.

These and other advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment which, taken in conjunction with the drawings, illustrates by way of example the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the barbecue apparatus of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the barbecue apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of selected components of the barbecue apparatus of the present invention; and

FIG. 4 is a greatly enlarged cross-sectional view taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The barbecue apparatus of the present invention allows for the rotational reorientation of a hinged lid in order to most effectively serve as a wind deflector while in its open position. Such capability is especially desirable for a barbecue that is not easily repositioned in its entirety such as for example when the barbecue is used on a boat or balcony in which application it is commonly cantilevered over the side of a railing.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the barbecue apparatus 12 of the present invention. The apparatus is shown attached to a railing 14 by rod 16 that is clamped 18 into position. The major components of the barbecue that are visible in this illustration are the fire bowl 20, the hinged lid 22 in its open position, the grease tray 24 and the supporting grate 26. A gas cylinder 28 that supplies fuel to the burner is supported by the supply conduit 30.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the barbecue apparatus 12 of the present invention. The entire apparatus is supported by a bracket 32 that extends between grease tray 24 at one end and a bracket 34 at its other ended which is configured to receive the support rod 16 that is shown in FIG. 1. A threaded nipple fitting 36 extends through the center of the grease tray and is rigidly attached thereto. The nipple fitting receives conduit 30 at one end and burner 38 at its opposite end. A valve/pressure regulator 40, configured to receive a gas cylinder 28 visible in FIG. 1, is shown coupled to the conduit. The threaded nipple fitting extends through the center of the base of the fire bowl 20 and through a liner 42 that is disposed within the fire bowl. The fire bowl, liner, grease tray and nipple fitting are configured and arranged such that threading the burner onto the nipple fitting causes such components to be urged against one another. More particularly, the engagement of the liner by the burner at 44, causes downward pressure that is exerted thereon to be transferred from the liner to the fire bowl at 46 which in turn causes the fire bowl to be urged against the grease tray along 48.

Additionally visible in FIG. 2 is a collar 50 that is disposed about a centrally located hole that is formed in the grease tray 24 through which the nipple fitting 36 is extended wherein such collar has at pair of diametrically opposed indexing pins 52 extending upwardly therefrom. The fire bowl 20 includes a circular pattern of indexing holes that are formed therein wherein such pattern is centered about the hole formed in the fire bowl through which the nipple fitting is extended. Such indexing holes are sized and positioned such that each is capable of receiving an indexing pin depending upon the rotational orientation of the fire bowl relative to the grease tray. Cooperation of the pins with the holes in which they are received serves to rotationally lock the fire bowl to the grease tray.

FIG. 2 additionally shows a starter electrode 54 affixed to the interior of the fire bowl 20, the operation of which is controlled from control panel 56. The starter electrode extends through an appropriately forward aperture in the liner 42 to a position immediately adjacent burner 38. The liner is rotationally key to the fire bowl by two tabs 58, only one of which is visible in this view. The tab in fact is part of a hinge bracket that is affixed to the exterior of the fire bowl to which the lid 22 is hinged. Each tab extends through the fire bowl and is received in a notch 60 that is formed in the liner wherein cooperation of the two components precludes relative rotation and thereby ensures that the aperture formed in the liner remains aligned with the starter electrode upon rotational reorientation of the fire bowl relative to the grease tray. Another feature visible in this illustration includes winged structure 62 that is affixed to the burner 38 which facilitates rotation of the burner and has ends 64 that are formed so as to provide protection to the starter electrode when rotated so as to be positioned directly thereover. Also visible are two clips 27 that are attached to top of the liner and which serve to positively hold the grate 26 in place upon being rotated into position thereunder.

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the components of the barbecue apparatus of the present invention that cooperate with one another to provide for rotational indexing. The grease tray 24 forms the underlying support to which all other components are directly or indirectly attached. Clearly visible is the threaded nipple fitting 36 extending from its center as well as the surrounding collar 50 from which the two indexing pins 52 extend. The fire bowl 20 is centered on the grease tray with the receipt of the nipple fitting in the centrally located hole 66 formed therein. Surrounding hole 66, is the circular pattern of indexing holes 68, each capable of receiving an indexing pin. Holes 70 serve to provide for the ingress of combustion air and the egress of cooking greases. Additionally visible are brackets 72 to which the lid 20 (not shown) is hingedly attached. Each bracket includes tab 58 that extends through the fire bowl into its interior. The starter electrode 54 is attached to the inside surface of the fire bowl. The liner 42 also has a centrally located hole 74 formed therein that is configured for receipt of the nipple fitting. The series of holes 76 disposed about the central hole provide for the ingress of combustion air and the egress of cooking greases. One of the holes 78 is specially configured to allow the extension of the starter electrode therethrough. Notches 60 that are formed at the liner's outer edge are configured for receiving tabs 58. Threading the burner 38 onto the nipple fitting 36, causes the liner and fire bowl to be urged against the grease tray.

FIG. 4 is a greatly enlarged cross-sectional view taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 1 detailing the hinge bracket 72 which is rigidly affixed to the fire bowl 20 and to which the lid 22 is hinged. A portion of the bracket defines a tab 58 that extends through the fire bowl into its interior for receipt in the notch 60 formed in liner 42. The hinge bracket is spot welded to the fire bowl at 82 while the lid bracket 80 is spot welded to the lid at 84. A nut and bolt combination 86 allows relative movement.

In operation, before cooking is commenced, it is initially determined whether the opened lid 22 can be repositioned to more effectively deflect the prevailing wind. The grate 26 is removed to gain full access to the burner 38 and the burner is partially unscrewed from the threaded nipple 36 so as to allow the fire bowl 20 to be lifted clear of the indexing pins 52 but nonetheless limit its upward movement so as prevent disassembly of the various components. By lifting the fire bowl such that the indexing pins are clear of the indexing holes 68, the fire bowl can freely be rotated to a position in which the lid that is hinged thereto can more effectively deflect the wind. During rotation of the fire bowl relative to the grease tray 24, the liner remains rotationally locked to the fire bowl by virtue of the cooperation between the tabs 58 extending from the fire bowl and the notches 60 formed in the liner. This cooperation ensures that the specially configured aperture 78 remains aligned with starter electrode 54. Once the desired rotational orientation has been achieved, the fire bowl is lowered onto the indexing pins for receipt in the appropriate indexing holes, wherein cooperation of the indexing pins and indexing holes rotationally locks the fire bowl to the grease tray. Subsequent tightening of the burner onto the nipple fitting axially locks the fire bowl and liner to the grease tray to provide for a rigid assembly of all of the various components. The burner is tightened to a position wherein the shaped ends 64 of the wing structure 62 is positioned directly over the starter electrode 54 to protect it from damage and contamination. Upon replacement of the grate 26, the tabs 58 extending from the fire bowl and the notches 60 of the liner again cooperate to prevent relative rotation of those elements as the grate is forcibly rotated into position under the clips 27.

While a particular form of the invention have been described and illustrated, it will also be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications can be made without departing form the spirit and scope of the invention. More specifically, it is not intended for this invention to be limited to gas burning barbecues as the elements of the invention are readily adaptable to a charcoal burning device that is devoid of a burner or fuel conduit, wherein any of a number of threaded fastener combinations can be relied upon to urge the liner, fire bowl and grease tray against one another. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited except by the appended claims.





 
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