Title:
Removable, Adjustable Padded Bar for Bathtub
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A padded bathtub bar has resilient gripping feet and is adjustable in length by turning an actuating wheel. The pad is removable, and the bar may be washed in the dishwasher, as it has no metal parts. The bar may be placed in a variety of locations to allow various comfortable and stable bathing positions. The removable pads may come in a variety of sizes and configurations. The bathtub bar is lengthened and shortened by converting rotational movement of a hand rotation wheel into translational movement of an inner translation cylinder. As the hand rotation wheel is turned in one direction an attached threaded actuation rod turns as well. As it rotates within a threaded translation nut, the nut, the attached inner translation cylinder and one of the feet are caused to translate outward. Turning the hand wheel in the other direction retracts these elements and shortens the bathtub bar. A removable foot assembly is inserted into an end of the inner translation cylinder. After the removable foot assembly has been removed, the removable pillow slides off the end of the bathtub bar from which it was removed. The feet swivel slightly to accommodate slanted or uneven bathtub walls. The removable pillows may be removed and used separately for neck support and the like.



Inventors:
Stone, Sheila (Lafayette, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/846339
Publication Date:
03/06/2008
Filing Date:
08/28/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/592
International Classes:
A47K3/022
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HWU, DAVIS D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jennifer, Bales L. (MOUNTAIN VIEW PLAZA, 1520 EUCLID CIRCLE, LAFAYETTE, CO, 80026-1250, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An adjustable bathtub bar comprising: a pillowed outer static cylinder; an inner translation cylinder disposed within the outer static cylinder; a hand rotation wheel turnably disposed at a first end of the bathtub bar; a mechanism for translating the inner translation cylinder away from the hand rotation wheel when the hand rotation wheel is turned in a first direction, in order to lengthen the bathtub bar, wherein the mechanism further translates the inner translation cylinder toward the hand rotation wheel when the hand rotation wheel is turned in a second direction, in order to shorten the bathtub bar; a foot attached to the hand rotation wheel at the first end of the bathtub bar; and a foot attached to the inner translation cylinder at the second end of the bathtub bar; wherein none of the elements are formed of metal.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the mechanism comprises: a threaded rod disposed within the inner translation cylinder and attached to one of either the inner cylinder or the outer cylinder; a threaded nut attached to the other of either the inner cylinder or the outer cylinder and engaged with the threaded actuation rod; such that when the hand rotation wheel turns, the threaded rod and the threaded nut turn with respect to each other, and such that when the threaded rod and the threaded nut turn with respect to each other the inner translation cylinder translates with respect to the outer static cylinder.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein: the pillowed outer cylinder comprises a rigid cylinder surrounded by a removable pillow; the foot attached to the inner translation cylinder is removable; and the pillow slides off of the outer static cylinder when the removable foot is removed.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the feet include resilient ends for gripping bathtub walls.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the feet swivel.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the inner translation cylinder further forms a groove, and wherein the outer static cylinder includes an attached linear guide pin for engaging with the groove and maintaining the alignment between the inner translation cylinder and the outer static cylinder as the inner translation cylinder translates.

7. A method of fabricating an adjustable bathtub bar comprising the steps of: placing an inner translation cylinder within an outer static cylinder; disposing a pillow around the outer static cylinder; attaching a hand rotation wheel at a first end of the bathtub bar; providing a mechanism for translating the inner translation cylinder away from the hand rotation wheel when the hand rotation wheel is turned in a first direction, in order to lengthen the bathtub bar, wherein the mechanism further translates the inner translation cylinder toward the hand rotation wheel when the hand rotation wheel is turned in a second direction, in order to shorten the bathtub bar; attaching a foot to the hand rotation wheel; and attaching a foot to the inner translation cylinder at the second end of the bathtub bar; wherein none of the elements are formed of metal.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein the step of providing the translating mechanism further comprises the steps of: attaching a threaded actuation rod to the hand rotation wheel such that the rod turns when the wheel is turned; placing the threaded actuation rod within the inner translation cylinder; attaching a threaded translation nut to the inner translation cylinder; and engaging the threaded translation nut with the threaded actuation rod, such that when the actuation rod turns, the translation nut and the inner translation cylinder translate with respect to the outer static cylinder.

9. The method of claim 7, further including the step of making the foot attached to the inner translation cylinder removable, such that the pillow slides off of the outer static cylinder when the foot attached to the inner translation cylinder is removed.

10. The method of claim 7 further including the step of including resilient ends on the feet for gripping bathtub walls.

11. The method of claim 10 further including the step of allowing the feet to swivel by: attaching a swivel joint loosely within a depression in each foot, such that the swivel joint can shift within the depression; attaching the hand rotation wheel to the swivel joint at the first end of the bathtub bar; and attaching the inner translation cylinder to the swivel joint at the second end of the bathtub bar.

12. The method of claim 7 further including the steps of: forming a groove in the inner translation cylinder; and wherein the attached linear guide pin to the outer static cylinder; and engaging the linear guide pin to the groove such that the alignment between the inner translation cylinder and the outer static cylinder is maintained as the inner translation cylinder translates.

13. An adjustable bathtub bar comprising: an outer static cylinder; an inner translation cylinder disposed within the outer static cylinder; a pillow disposed around the outer static cylinder; a hand rotation wheel turnably disposed at a first end of the bathtub bar and extending into the outer static cylinder; a mechanism for translating the inner translation cylinder away from the hand rotation wheel when the hand rotation wheel is turned in a first direction, in order to lengthen the bathtub bar, wherein the mechanism further translates the inner translation cylinder toward the hand rotation wheel when the hand rotation wheel is turned in a second direction, in order to shorten the bathtub bar; a foot attached to the hand rotation wheel; and a foot attached to the inner translation cylinder at the second end of the bathtub bar; wherein none of the elements are formed of metal.

14. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the mechanism comprises: a threaded actuation rod disposed within the inner translation cylinder and attached to the hand rotation wheel such that the rod turns when the wheel is turned; and a threaded translation nut attached to the inner translation cylinder and engaged with the actuation rod, such that when the actuation rod turns, the translation nut and the inner translation cylinder translate with respect to the outer static cylinder.

15. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the foot attached to the inner translation cylinder is removable and wherein the pillow slides off of the outer static cylinder when the foot attached to the inner translation cylinder is removed.

16. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the feet include resilient ends for gripping bathtub walls.

17. The apparatus of claim 16 wherein the feet swivel.

18. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the inner translation cylinder further forms a groove, and wherein the outer static cylinder includes an attached linear guide pin for engaging with the groove and maintaining the alignment between the inner translation cylinder and the outer static cylinder as the inner translation cylinder translates.

19. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the outer static cylinder, the inner translation cylinder, the hand rotation wheel and the translating mechanism are formed of plastic.

20. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the pillow comprises a foam enclosed in a waterproof cover

Description:

PRIORITY

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/823,830, filed Aug. 29, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to removable, adjustable padded bars for use in bathtubs.

2. Discussion of Background Art

People who enjoy taking baths often wish the bathtubs were more comfortable. For example, a relatively short person cannot recline against the curved back of a jet spa tub, because without support, she will slide further into the bath. She must wedge herself in or grip the side of the bathtub to stay put. Similarly, many people wish for better neck support, or a way to support their knees or feet in a reclined position.

Bathers have used a variety of devices to make bathtubs more comfortable. For example, many bathers use waterproof pillows with suction cups to hold the pillows in place on the back of the bathtub. However, these pillows do not help the bather stay comfortably in place in the bathtub, and they do not comfortably support the neck, knees, or feet of the bather.

In addition, devices for providing safety and support to children and mobility-impaired persons are common. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,804,842 teaches a waterproof portable bathing chair and footrest for such circumstances. Since these devices are used for safety purposes, they tend to include complex anchoring devices having metal parts and requiring complex installation and adjustment procedures.

A need remains in the art for a device for comfortably supporting a bather that is easy to install and adjust and requires no metal parts.

SUMMARY

It is an object of the present invention to provide a device for comfortably supporting a bather that is easy to install and adjust and requires no metal parts. A padded bar according to the present invention has gripping feet and is adjustable in length by turning an actuating wheel. The pad is removable, and the bar may be washed in the dishwasher. None of the parts are metal. Most are preferably plastic, such as PVC, with the exception of the resilient foot ends, which are formed of rubber or silicone or the like, and the removable pillow. In some preferred embodiments, the removable pillow is manufactured from open or closed cell foam or equivalent material (such as neoprene, silicone, or rubber) enclosed in a waterproof plastic or rubber cover, or in a washable cloth cover. The removable pillows may come in a variety of sizes and textures, and can be used attached to the bathtub bar or separately as pillows for neck and head support.

The bar may be placed in a variety of locations to allow various comfortable and stable bathing positions. The removable pads may come in a variety of sizes and textures.

The removable bath bar of the present invention is designed as an expandable and cushioned foot, knee or neck rest for use in spa tubs and conventional tubs. The device allows a diminutive bather to recline comfortably against the curved edge of a tub by using the bath bar as a foot rest to eliminate slipping. In addition it can be used as a bent knee rest to allow a reclining position or to position tub jets on feet or ankles. The bath bar may also be positioned for use as a neck rest or back rest to provide neck or back support.

An adjustable bathtub bar according to the present invention comprises a pillowed outer static cylinder, an inner translation cylinder disposed within the outer static cylinder, a hand rotation wheel turnably disposed at a first end of the bathtub bar, a mechanism for translating the inner translation cylinder away from the hand rotation wheel when the hand rotation wheel is turned in a first direction, in order to lengthen the bathtub bar. The mechanism also translates the inner translation cylinder toward the hand rotation wheel when the hand rotation wheel is turned in a second direction, in order to shorten the bathtub bar, a foot attached to the hand rotation wheel at the first end of the bathtub bar, and a foot attached to the inner translation cylinder at the second end of the bathtub bar. None of these elements is formed of metal. In general, the hand rotation wheel includes a portion extending into the outer translation cylinder, so that the portion that turns isn't exposed to the user's hands.

Preferably the mechanism comprises a threaded rod disposed within the inner translation cylinder and attached to one of either the inner cylinder or the outer cylinder, a threaded nut attached to the other of either the inner cylinder or the outer cylinder and engaged with the threaded actuation rod, such that when the hand rotation wheel turns, the threaded rod and the threaded nut turn with respect to each other, and such that when the threaded rod and the threaded nut turn with respect to each other the inner translation cylinder translates with respect to the outer static cylinder.

In the preferred embodiment, a threaded actuation rod is disposed within the inner translation wheel and is attached to the hand rotation wheel such that the rod turns when the wheel is turned. A threaded translation nut is attached to the inner translation cylinder and engages the actuation rod. When the actuation rod turns, the translation nut and the inner translation wheel both translate with respect to the outer cylinder.

The pillowed outer cylinder generally comprises a rigid cylinder surrounded by a removable pillow. The foot attached to the inner translation cylinder is removable, and the pillow slides off of the outer static cylinder when the foot is removed. The feet include resilient ends for gripping bathtub walls, and the feet swivel for a better fit. The cylinders, the hand rotation wheel, and the translating mechanism are preferably formed of plastic, while the pillow might be foam enclosed in a waterproof cover.

In a preferred embodiment, the inner translation cylinder further forms a groove, and the outer static cylinder includes an attached linear guide pin for engaging with the groove and maintaining the alignment between the inner translation cylinder and the outer static cylinder as the inner translation cylinder translates.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side isometric drawing of a removable bath bar according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the removable bath bar of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side cutaway drawing of the removable bath bar of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a side isometric view of the removable bath bar of FIG. 1, illustrating the length adjustment.

FIG. 5 is a side cutaway drawing of the removable bath bar of FIG. 1, illustrating the length adjustment.

FIG. 6 is a side isometric view of the removable bath bar of FIG. 1, illustrating removal of the cushion.

FIG. 7 is a side view of a second embodiment of a removable bath bar according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is an isometric drawing showing the bath bars of FIG. 1 and FIG. 7 in use.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The following reference numbers are used to identify the associated elements in the Drawings and the Description below:

TABLE 1
Elements and associate reference numbers
Reference
NumberElement
1Outer static cylinder
2Hand rotation wheel
3Translation nut
4Inner translation cylinder
5Removable foot insert
6Swivel joint
7Foot base
8Foot retaining ring
9Removable pillow
10Resilient foot ends
11Threaded actuation rod
12Hand rotation wheel retaining pin
13Linear guide pin
14Foot insert locking element
15Swivel spaces in foot bases
16Groove for linear guide pin
19Large removable pillow
20Removable foot assembly
22Retained foot assembly
100First embodiment of bathtub bar
200Second embodiment of bathtub bar
300Bathtub

FIG. 1 is a side isometric drawing of a first embodiment of a removable bathtub bar 100, and FIG. 2 is a side view of bathtub bar 100. FIG. 1 shows removable pillow 9, hand rotation wheel 2, removable foot assembly 20 and retained foot assembly 22. Foot assemblies 20, 22 include resilient foot ends 10 for gripping the sides of the bathtub (see FIG. 8), and foot bases 7. In use, the bather turns hand rotation wheel 2 in order to lengthen or shorten bath bar 100. This is better shown in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5. Removable foot assembly 20 slides off the end of bathtub bar 100 in order to allow pillow 9 to slide off for removal. This process is illustrated in FIG. 6.

FIG. 3 is a side cutaway drawing of the removable bath bar of FIG. 1. Bathtub bar 100 is lengthened and shortened by converting rotational movement of hand rotation wheel 2 into translational movement of inner translation cylinder 4. The process of lengthening bathtub bar 100 is shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. As hand rotation wheel 2 is turned in the direction shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, attached threaded actuation rod 11 turns as well. As it rotates within threaded translation nut 3, translation nut 3 is caused to translate to the right. Nut 3 is bonded to inner translation cylinder 4, so inner translation cylinder 4 also translates to the right. Removable foot assembly 20 is inserted into the end of inner translation cylinder 4 and moves with it. Linear guide pin 13 engages groove 16 to maintain the alignment of inner translation cylinder 4 with respect to outer static cylinder 1.

As an alternative, alignment could be achieved by molding or extruding a “keyed” shape into outer static cylinder 1 and inner translation cylinder 4. By incorporating this type of interlocking feature into the design, there would be no need for a pin and slot approach. In a production environment, a keyed feature might be a more cost effective solution.

To shorten bathtub bar 100, the process is reversed: hand rotation wheel 2 is turned in the direction opposite to that indicated in FIGS. 4 and 5. The rotation of threaded actuation rod 11 within translation nut 3 causes nut 3, inner translation cylinder 4, and removable foot assembly 20 to translate left toward and into outer static cylinder 1.

The process of removing pillow 9 is illustrated in FIG. 6. Referring to FIG. 3, retained foot assembly 22 does not come off of bathtub bar 100. It is retained by its attachment to hand rotation wheel 2 which is in turn retained by hand rotation wheel retaining pin 12. Retained foot assembly 22 is attached to hand rotation wheel 2 as follows. Retained foot assembly 22 is mechanically bonded around swivel joint 6. However, retained foot assembly 22 is able to move freely around swivel joint 6 in a complete 360° turning motion. Foot retaining ring 8 keeps retained foot assembly 22 from being removed from swivel joint 6. Swivel joint 6 is inserted into a depression in hand rotation wheel 2, and bonded therein (with room 15 to shift). The wide end of swivel joint 6 is inserted into a swivel space 15 formed in foot base 7. Foot retaining ring 8 is bonded within a depression in foot base 7 and is also bonded to hand rotation wheel 2.

Removable foot assembly 20 does, however, come off, in order to allow the removal of pillow 9. Removable foot assembly 20 is attached to removable foot insert 5 in a manner similar to the attachment between retained foot assembly 22 and hand rotation wheel 2. Removable foot assembly 20 is removed by sliding removable foot insert 5 out of its assembled location in inner translation cylinder 4. Foot insert locking element 14 might comprise a rubber o-ring or the like for resisting the movement of removable foot insert 5 and preventing it from falling out, but allowing it to be drawn out. After removable foot assembly 20 has been removed, pillow 9 slides off the end from which it was removed.

Note that foot assemblies 20 and 22 are slightly adjustable, in case the walls of the bathtub are sloped or uneven. First, foot ends 10 are formed of a resilient material such as silicone, to conform to the wall surface and grip the wall. Second, the swivel spaces 15 formed in foot bases 7 are not tightly fitted to swivel joints 6, but provide some space and latitude to allow swivel joints 6 to move slightly, thus allowing foot assemblies 20, 22 to swivel slightly as well.

FIG. 7 is a side view of a second embodiment 200 of a removable bathtub bar according to the present invention. The embodiment of FIG. 7 is identical to that of FIGS. 1-6, except that pillow 19 is much thicker. Pillow 19 may be removed and replaced with pillow 9, or other pillows of varying thicknesses and configurations, as desired.

FIG. 8 is an isometric drawing showing bathtub bars 100 and 200 in use in a bathtub 300. A bather might rest her neck against bathtub bar 100, and rest her knees on bathtub bar 200, for example.