Title:
RECONFIGURABLE STORAGE SYSTEM AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage system is presented, operable to provide horizontal and vertical adjustment of one or more attachment assemblies configured to hold an attachment assembly mounting device. In one embodiment, the storage system comprises a rail mounted substantially horizontally to a mounting surface such as a wall or ceiling, a vertical support suspended from the rail by an upper end of the vertical support, the vertical support configured to move, slide, or roll substantially horizontally along the rail, and an attachment assembly configured to be attached to the vertical support and to support a storage item from the attachment assembly mounting device. The attachment assemblies are further configured to slide vertically along and lock in position along one of the vertical supports. Thus, only the rail needs to be permanently attached to the mounting surface.



Inventors:
Spriegel, Andrew R. (Massillon, OH, US)
Parker, Jack L. (Elyria, OH, US)
Application Number:
12/099035
Publication Date:
10/09/2008
Filing Date:
04/07/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/13.1, 211/94.01
International Classes:
A47F5/08; A47F7/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030189018Adjustable point of purchase display systemOctober, 2003Hopkins et al.
20100059461CONTAINER RACK WITH LOCKING MEMBERMarch, 2010Landsberger et al.
20080251472Cooking caddyOctober, 2008Kasden et al.
20090315436Movable multipurpose toilet cabinetDecember, 2009Robinson et al.
20070170128Retainer arrangement for engagement with the end of an elongated article, such as a firearm or related accessoryJuly, 2007Punzel
20080134430Cat window seat/bedJune, 2008Kirmon
20100072152SHELF FOR SHOWCASEMarch, 2010Kim
20080029469Swing arm display rackFebruary, 2008Spencer
20100072147CLOTH RAILMarch, 2010Reenberg et al.



Primary Examiner:
RODDEN, JOSHUA E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Spriegel and Associates (110 West Streetsboro Street L4 and L14, Hudson, OH, 44236, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A storage system, operable to provide horizontal and vertical adjustment of attachment assemblies, the storage system comprising: a rail fixedly mounted to a surface and being mounted in a substantially horizontal fashion; at least one vertical support suspended from the rail by an upper end assembly attached to the upper end of the at least one vertical support, the at least one vertical support configured to translate horizontally along a useable length of the rail to an infinite number of positions; wherein the at least one vertical support is suspended away from the surface so that the at least one vertical support does not come into contact with the surface; wherein the attachment assemblies are configured to slidably attach to the at least one vertical support and is configured to support at least one item therefrom; wherein the attachment assemblies are further configured to translate vertically to an infinite number of positions along the useable length of the at least one vertical support, wherein the attachment assemblies may be infinitely positioned within a defined two-dimensional space; and wherein an attachment assemblies mounting device can be infinitely positioned within the two-dimensional space defined by the usable length of the rail and the usable length of the at least one vertical support.

2. The support system of claim 1, further comprising rail mounting components, wherein the rail mounting components comprise brackets, lag bolts, washers, mounting plates and screws.

3. The support system of claim 1, wherein the rail further comprises angle iron, slotted rectangular bar stock, u-channel, c-channel, flat formed channel, extrusions, rod, tubing and slotted box channel or a combination thereof.

4. The support system of claim 1, further comprising: at least one horizontal cross-tie, arranged between selected attachment assemblies mounted on two or more vertical supports, the at least one horizontal cross-tie and attachment assemblies are configured to translate vertically on the two or more vertical supports and the attachment assemblies are configured to lock in one or more positions at a desired location on the two or more vertical supports.

5. The system of claim 4, further comprising: a cross-tie item attachment assembly, configured to slideably translate along and lock in one or more locations of the at least one horizontal cross-tie.

6. The system of claim 4, wherein the attachment assemblies are further configured to translate horizontally to an infinite number of positions along the useable length of the at least one horizontal cross-tie, wherein the attachment assemblies may be infinitely positioned within a defined two-dimensional space defined by the usable length of the at least one horizontal cross-tie and the usable length of the at least one vertical support.

7. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a diagonal brace configured to slideably translate along and lock in a desired location on the rail at a first end of the diagonal brace, and to lock into a location on one of the at least one vertical supports or on one of the horizontal cross-ties at a second end of the diagonal brace.

8. The system of claim 1, further comprising a wheel assembly affixed near a lower end of the vertical support to space the at least one vertical support away from the mounting surface, and wherein the at least one vertical support may be translated along the rail without damage to the mounting surface.

9. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a diagonal brace configured to lock a diagonal first end in position at a location on the rail near a first end of the rail, and the at least one vertical support nearest the second end of the diagonal brace.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein the at least one vertical support is non-fixedly attached to the rail and is configured to translate by sliding or rolling along the rail.

11. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a second rail mounted substantially horizontal to a lower portion of the mounting surface, configured to engage and to further support a lower end of the vertical support, and wherein the at least one vertical support is further configured to translate by sliding or rolling along the second rail.

12. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a net-like accessory configured to be mounted between two or more of the at least one vertical supports for containment of items wherein the items comprise tools, household goods, commercial goods, industrial goods, hammers, rakes, paper towels and sporting goods.

13. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a net-like accessory configured to be mounted between two or more vertical supports for containment of a variety of storage items.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the net-like accessory is configured with grommets that non-fixedly attach to two or more of the attachment assemblies.

15. The system of claim 2, further comprising: a wire-form accessory configured to be mounted between two or more of the at least one vertical supports or between two or more of the at least one horizontal cross-ties for mounting of items; wherein the items comprise tools, household goods, commercial goods, industrial goods, hammers, rakes, paper towels and sporting goods.

16. The system of claim 15, wherein the wire-form accessory comprises a rectangular grid, a basket, and shelf.

17. The system of claim 1, wherein the vertical support further comprises a spring-loaded foot at a lower end of the vertical support, configured to stabilize the vertical support against a floor adjacent to the wall.

18. The system of claim 1, further comprising an end cap suitable for covering one of an end of the rail configured to limit or stop the translation of the vertical support along the rail, and an end of the vertical support configured to limit or stop the translation of the attachment assemblies along the vertical support.

19. A tool storage system, operable to provide horizontal and vertical adjustment of an attachment point, the storage system comprising: a horizontal rail mounted substantially horizontally to a wall surface; at least one vertical support non-fixedly suspended from the horizontal rail by an upper end assembly of the vertical support, the vertical support configured to translate along the horizontal rail; and one or more attachment assemblies configured to be non-fixedly attached to the vertical support and to support a storage item therefrom, wherein the one or more attachment assemblies are further configured to translate along and lock in one or more positions along the vertical support, wherein the one or more attachment assemblies may be infinitely positioned within a two-dimensional space defined by a length of the horizontal rail in a first dimension and a length of the vertical support in a second dimension.

20. The system of claim 19, wherein the vertical support comprises one of an extrusion, welded tubing, an angle and a stamping.

21. The system of claim 19, wherein the vertical support comprises one of a rod, a bar, a channel, and a tube.

22. The system of claim 21, wherein the vertical support is further configured with an array of holes for fixedly attaching the one or more attachment assemblies, the one or more attachment assemblies; configured to be inserted into one or more of the holes and to support a storage item therefrom.

23. The system of claim 19, wherein the vertical support and the one or more attachment assemblies are further configured to prevent rotation of the one or more attachment assemblies about the vertical support and to prevent the rotation of the vertical support relative to the horizontal rail in order to maintain a fixed orientation between the one or more attachment assemblies and the wall.

24. The system of claim 23, wherein the shape of the vertical support is used to maintain the fixed orientation between the one or more attachment assemblies and the wall.

25. The system of claim 19, wherein the horizontal rail comprises one of a rectangular slotted member, a u-channel, and a track.

26. The system of claim 19, further comprising: a horizontal cross-tie member, arranged substantially horizontally between two or more vertical supports, the horizontal cross-tie configured to translate vertically along and lock in one or more positions on the two or more vertical supports.

27. The system of claim 26, further comprising: a cross-tie hook assembly, configured to translate horizontally along the horizontal cross-tie and to support a storage item or attachment accessory therefrom.

28. The system of claim 26, further comprising: a cross-tie hook assembly, configured to translate horizontally along and lock in position positions on the horizontal cross-tie.

29. The system of claim 26, further comprising: a diagonal brace configured to slide horizontally along and lock in one or more positions along the horizontal rail at one end of the diagonal brace, and one of the vertical supports or the horizontal cross-tie at the other end of the diagonal brace.

30. The system of claim 19, wherein the vertical support comprises a wheel assembly affixed near a lower end of the vertical support to provide protection for the wall and to space the vertical support away from the wall, wherein the vertical support may be translated along the horizontal rail without damage to the wall.

31. The system of claim 19, further comprising: a diagonal brace configured to translate horizontally along and lock in a desired position on the horizontal rail at a first end of the diagonal brace, and to lock into one or more positions on the vertical support at a second end of the diagonal brace.

32. The system of claim 19, wherein the vertical support is configured to translate by sliding or rolling along the horizontal rail.

33. The system of claim 32, wherein the vertical support comprises a roller assembly affixed to the upper end of the vertical support for translating or rolling along the horizontal rail.

34. The system of claim 19, further comprising: a second horizontal rail mounted substantially horizontally to a lower portion of the wall surface, configured to engage and to further support a lower end of the vertical support, and wherein the vertical support is further configured to translate by sliding or rolling along the second horizontal rail.

35. The system of claim 19, further comprising: a net-like accessory configured to be mounted between two or more vertical supports for containment of a variety of storage items.

36. The system of claim 35, wherein the net-like accessory is configured with grommets that non-fixedly attach to two or more of the one or more attachment assemblies.

37. The system of claim 26, further comprising: a wire form accessory configured to be mounted between two or more vertical supports or between two or more horizontal cross-ties for mounting or containment of a variety of storage items.

38. The system of claim 37, wherein the wire form accessory comprises one of a rectangular grid, a basket, and a shelf.

39. The system of claim 19, wherein the vertical support further comprises a spring-loaded and lockable foot at a lower end of the vertical support, configured to stabilize the vertical support against a floor adjacent to the wall.

40. The system of claim 34, further comprising an adapter configured to fixedly attach to the lower end of the vertical support and to slidably attach to the second horizontal rail, the adapter configured to interconnect the horizontal rails.

41. The system of claim 19, further comprising an end cap suitable for covering an end of the horizontal rail, and configured to limit or stop the translation of the vertical support along the horizontal rail.

42. The system of claim 19, further comprising an end cap suitable for covering an end of the vertical support, and configured to limit or stop the translation of the one or more attachment assemblies along the vertical support.

43. The system of claim 19, further comprising a pair of ceiling rails fixedly mounted to a ceiling and spatially arranged substantially parallel to each other and configured to non-fixedly suspend and translate the horizontal rail in a third dimension along the pair of ceiling rails, wherein the one or more attachment assemblies may be infinitely positioned within a three-dimensional space defined by the length of the horizontal rail in the first dimension, the length of the vertical support in the second dimension, and a length of the ceiling rails in the third dimension.

44. The system of claim 19, wherein the item comprises one or more of the following: a wheel barrow, ladder, hammer, bike, rake, broom, tool, paper products, yard tool, hand tool, and power tool.

45. The system of claim 19, wherein the vertical support is further configured to be mounted onto or separated from the horizontal rail after the horizontal rail has been fixedly mounted to the wall.

46. The system of claim 33, wherein the roller assembly affixed to the upper end of the vertical support further comprises a locking device configured to lock the vertical support in place along the horizontal rail.

47. The system of claim 19, wherein the vertical support is configured to prevent rotation relative to the horizontal rail and to prevent the one or more attachment assemblies from rotating about the vertical support.

48. The system of claim 19, further comprising a shelf configured to be non-fixedly attached to two or more vertical supports, wherein the shelf is further configured to translate vertically along and lock in one or more positions along the two or more vertical supports.

49. A tool storage system kit, operable to provide horizontal and vertical reconfiguration of tool attachment points, the storage system comprising: a horizontal rail mounted substantially horizontally to a wall surface; two or more vertical supports non-fixedly suspended from the horizontal rail by an upper end of the vertical support, the vertical supports configured to independently translate horizontally along the horizontal rail without damage to the wall; two or more attachment assemblies, each attachment assembly configured to be non-fixedly attached to a vertical support and to support a storage item therefrom, wherein the two or more attachment assemblies are further configured to translate vertically along and lock in one or more positions along the vertical support, wherein one or more of the attachment assemblies may be infinitely positioned within a two-dimensional space defined by a length of the horizontal rail in a first dimension and a length of the vertical support in a second dimension; a diagonal brace configured to slide horizontally along and lock in one or more positions along the horizontal rail at one end of the diagonal brace, and one of the vertical supports or the horizontal cross-tie at the other end of the diagonal brace; a horizontal cross-tie member, arranged substantially horizontally between two or more vertical supports, the horizontal cross-tie configured to translate vertically along and lock in one or more positions on the two or more vertical supports; and a cross-tie attachment assembly, configured to translate horizontally along the horizontal cross-tie and to support a storage item or accessory therefrom.

50. A method of two or three-dimensionally storing and positioning a storage item, comprising: translating and thereby reconfiguring an attachment assembly horizontally along a wall using a horizontal rail without damage to the wall; translating and thereby reconfiguring the attachment assembly vertically along a vertical support that is non-fixedly suspended from the horizontal rail; and locking the attachment assembly in one of an infinite variety of positions along the vertical support; wherein the hook may be infinitely positioned within a two-dimensional space defined by a length of the horizontal rail in a first dimension and a length of the vertical support in a second dimension.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/922,235 which was filed Apr. 6, 2007, entitled RECONFIGURABLE STORAGE SYSTEM AND METHOD, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a storage system and method and more particularly to an improved tool/item storage system and method that allows both horizontal and vertical adjustment of the tool/item attachment components.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Current residential and industrial tool storage typically involves a dedicated wall placement commitment, wherein a tool is assigned to a specific mounting location or locations on the wall, utilizing one or more accompanying mounting holes and fasteners into the wall. This location-specific storage arrangement tends to take on a haphazard appearance or a random look that lacks optimum organization and is deficient in reconfiguration flexibility. At best, current storage systems may provide a row of various hook assemblies, which may be relocated anywhere along the row, but must still be mounted at a dedicated height off the floor. One prior art system has a horizontal mounting rail with holes for anchoring the rail to the wall, preferably into multiple vertical studs, concrete, concrete block and the like. To accommodate more wall storage in unused areas of the wall, however, additional mounting rails and/or hook assemblies must be purchased and mounted at new secondary dedicated heights, once again limiting a sense of optimum organization or reconfiguration flexibility and further damaging the wall or requiring new mounting holes that are left behind if the rails are removed, for example.

Shelving and storage cabinets provide another storage solution for smaller or stackable items in a home garage, for example, but may not provide suitable storage for larger or bulky items such as shovels, weed-eaters, bikes, rakes, or a diversity of sports equipment. In addition, shelving and storage cabinets may not provide adequate visibility and easy accessibility with items or products behind other items on a shelf or inside a closed cabinet.

Peg-board or perforated board type mounting systems provide some incremental reconfiguration flexibility in the limited spaces occupied by the peg-board hooks, but may often be restrictive in the tool weights allowed to avoid tear-thru of the peg board and the suitability of hook sizes for larger items. Peg-boards may also require many additional mounting holes and stand-off's spaced across the length and height of the board to accommodate larger peg-board dimensions. Humid environments may cause warping damage or weakness in Masonite based peg-boards or rusting of steel perforated boards.

There has been an increased demand for residential, commercial and industrial storage systems, and the like, that utilize space efficiently and keep pace with the increased demand for an improved general appearance in those storage systems and easier reconfigurability. In addition, there are a greater, per capita number of houses being purchased or leased in the housing market to satisfy a growing segment of business people on the go, as well as those transitioning into or out from retirement. In any of these and other segments of the housing market, for example, the occupants of the home must often relocate to a new residence. Facing relocation the owner that has a conventional residential storage system must make a decision: whether to leave all or at least some of the brackets, supports, and hangers behind, or to remove all the wall mounted paraphernalia and leave dozens of holes and dings or gouges visibly left behind by the tools or items impacting the wall, for example. Either choice is not optimum from the perspective of either the vacating party or the new occupant. In particular, if the vacating party chooses to leave the “storage system” behind storage system pieces and parts are lost, while leaving behind a potentially cluttered random looking array of used brackets, supports and hangers; this may reduce the appeal, the value and the salability of the home. On the other hand, if the vacating party invests the effort of taking down his storage paraphernalia, he is then faced with another set of options; of whether to leave dozens of holes, dings and gouges in the wall along with the accompanying reduced salability of the home, or to invest still more effort and expense into patching and repainting the entire wall or garage, for example.

Moreover, organization trends in present day housing, commercial and industrial markets leads to an increased need for a more efficient and more flexible tool storage system. In addition, tool storage owners that invest in a storage system often want to take the system with them when they move without having to damage the walls. Also, people want to be able to easily reconfigure the storage system when new items are purchased or old ones are thrown away.

Accordingly, there is a need for an improved household, commercial and industrial tool and item storage system for home, garage, shop, and commercial application areas that provides a greater degree of storage organization and reconfiguration flexibility without additional wall penetrations or damage to the wall.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The following presents a simplified summary in order to provide a basic understanding of one or more aspects of the invention. This summary is not an extensive overview of the invention, and is neither intended to identify key or critical elements of the invention, nor to delineate the scope thereof. Rather, the primary purpose of the summary is to present some concepts of the invention in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented later. While the following discussion involves mainly the use of tools, it applies equally to household items, commercial items, industrial items and the like.

The present invention is directed to a storage system, operable to provide horizontal and vertical adjustment of attachment assemblies. The storage system comprises a rail fixedly mounted to a surface and being mounted in a substantially horizontal fashion, at least one vertical support suspended from the rail by an upper end assembly attached to the upper end of the at least one vertical support, wherein the at least one vertical support is configured to translate horizontally along a useable length of the rail to an infinite number of positions.

The at least one vertical support is suspended away from the surface so that the at least one vertical support does not come into contact with the surface. The attachment assemblies are configured to slidably attach to the at least one vertical support and are configured to support at least one item (not shown) therefrom. The one or more attachment assemblies are further configured to translate vertically along an infinite number of positions along the useable length of the at least one vertical support, wherein the attachment assemblies may be infinitely positioned within a defined two-dimensional space. The attachment assemblies mounting device can be infinitely positioned within the two-dimensional space defined by the usable length of the rail and the usable length of the at least one vertical support.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, the one or more attachment assemblies and a variety of storage items may be stored at any horizontal and vertical location within the confines of the usable length of the rail and the usable length of the vertical support. Thus the storage system provides an infinitely adjustable 2D (two-dimensional) storage capability.

In another embodiment of the storage system, a pair of ceiling rails fixedly mounted to a ceiling and spatially arranged substantially parallel to each other and configured to non-fixedly suspend and translate the rail in a third dimension along the pair of ceiling rails. Thus, the one or more attachment assemblies may be infinitely positioned within a 3D (three-dimensional) space defined by the length of the rail in the first dimension, the length of the vertical support in the second dimension, and a length of the ceiling rails in the third dimension.

In yet another aspect of the invention, the vertical supports further comprise a wheel assembly affixed near the lower end of the vertical support to space the vertical support away from the wall and to protect the wall. In addition, only the rail need be mounted on the surface. This feature is recognized by the inventors as particularly advantageous when one wishes to leave a residence undamaged, for renters, for example.

The horizontal attachment rail and the vertical support may be fabricated from a variety of relatively strong and rigid materials such as steel or aluminum, for example, and may be configured of formed sheet metal, extrusions, stampings, rod or bar stock, for example. However, many other materials and fabrication techniques are anticipated in the context and spirit of the present invention, including molded or cast products.

In another aspect of the present invention, the vertical supports may further comprise an array of holes for fixed attachment of one or more attachment assemblies therefrom. This arrangement may resemble a narrow section of peg-board fabricated within the vertical support.

In yet another aspect of the present invention, the vertical supports may be attached to the rails using a roller such as like a closet door roller that may be used for easy and flexible storage and providing an easy means to roll the vertical support and the one or more attachment assemblies off to one side of the assembly.

In one embodiment of the invention, horizontal cross-ties are further provided to join two or more vertical supports. The horizontal cross-ties may also have one or more cross-tie attachment assemblies configured to slide along the length of the cross-ties for additional storage item attachment.

In another aspect of the invention, the storage system also comprises a diagonal brace fixedly or non-fixedly attached to the rail and a vertical support, the brace being used to stiffen the system, for example.

In still another aspect of the invention, the system comprises a wire form accessory that may be attached to two or more vertical supports, two or more attachment assemblies, or two or more horizontal cross-ties, for example. The wire form accessory may be used to attach a variety of storage items thereto.

In yet another aspect of the invention, the system comprises a net-like structure accessory that may be attached to two or more vertical supports, two or more attachment assemblies, or two or more horizontal cross-ties, for example. The net-like accessory may be used to retain or attach a variety of bulky storage items therein, for example, volleyballs, basketballs, and plastic toys.

To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, the following description and annexed drawings set forth in detail certain illustrative aspects and implementations of the invention. These are indicative of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the invention may be employed. Other aspects, advantages and novel features of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when considered in conjunction with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A, 1B, and 2-5 are simplified diagrams or views of prior art storage systems using one or more rails;

FIG. 6A is a simplified view of an exemplary improved storage system used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention for storing tools and other items, the improved storage system comprising a rail and at least one vertical support from which an item may be attached and infinitely adjusted along the rail and the at least one vertical support;

FIG. 6B is a simplified cross-sectional view of the exemplary rail and mounting bracket, such as may be used in the improved storage system of FIG. 6A, for example, for sliding or rolling support of the at least one vertical supports;

FIG. 6C is a simplified view of an exemplary improved storage system used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention for storing tools and other items, the improved storage system comprising a rail and at least one vertical support from which an item may be non-fixedly attached and infinitely adjusted along the horizontal and the at least one vertical support;

FIG. 7A is a simplified view of another exemplary improved storage system used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention for storing tools and other such items, the improved storage system comprising a rail and at least one vertical support from which an item may be attached and infinitely adjusted along the rail and the vertical support without damage to a wall;

FIGS. 7B and 7C are perspective views of an embodiment of a attachment assembly for attaching and storing items therefrom and for slidably locking the assembly to one of the at least one vertical supports of the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, such as may be used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of yet other embodiments of the rail and a sliding vertical support of the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, such as may be used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 9A is a perspective view of another embodiment of the rail and an end cap of the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 9B illustrates side, end, top, and assembly views of another embodiment of an end cap for the rail of the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with another aspect of the present invention;

FIGS. 9C and 9D are perspective views of embodiments of internal and external couplings, respective, for a rail of the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a rail, a sliding vertical support, and a sliding attachment assembly for supporting one or more storage items therefrom for the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a rail, two embodiments of a sliding at least one vertical support, and another embodiment of a sliding hook for supporting one or more storage items therefrom for the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIGS. 12 and 13 are front and top views, respectively, of another embodiment of a vertical support, and pin-puller arrangement on a vertical sleeve that can be used to lock the vertical sleeve at a hole position on the vertical support tube, the sleeve used for mounting a variety of attachment assemblies therefrom for the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a sleeve mountable attachment assembly such as may be mounted on the vertical sleeve that is locked at a hole position on the vertical support tube of FIGS. 12 and 13, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a sleeve mountable attachment assembly such as may be mounted on the vertical sleeve that is locked at a hole position on the vertical support tube of FIGS. 12 and 13, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIGS. 16A, B and C are perspective assembly views of a wheel assembly such as may be affixed to the bottom portion of a vertical support of the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIGS. 17A and 17B are perspective assembly views of embodiments of floor restraints that may be used to restrain the position of one or more vertical supports to a floor, such as may be used in the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 18 is a simplified view of another exemplary improved storage system 1800 used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention for storing tools and other items, the improved storage system comprising a rail and at least one vertical support from which an item may be attached and infinitely adjusted along the horizontal rail and the vertical support, the system also comprising a net-like structure with pockets suitable for storing various items, the system further comprising a wheel affixed to each of the at least one vertical supports to avoid damage to a wall;

FIG. 19 is a simplified view of yet another exemplary improved storage system used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention, the system further comprising one or more wire shelving suitable for storing various items, the wire shelving configured to be attached to two or more of the at least one vertical supports which are suspended from a rail;

FIG. 20 is a simplified view of still another exemplary improved storage system used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention, the system further comprising a wire-form structure suitable for storing or hanging various items, the wire-form structure configured to be attached to two or more vertical supports which are suspended from a rail;

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a rail, a sliding vertical support having a peg-board type structure, and a peg-board type hook for storing an item therefrom, suitable for use in the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of still another embodiment of a rail, two embodiments of a rolling (trolley) vertical support, another embodiment of a sliding hook for support one or more storage items therefrom, a peg-board type structure attached to one of the vertical support embodiments, and a peg-board type hook for storing an item therefrom, such as may be used in the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 23 illustrates cross-sectional views of various embodiments of the rail, and various embodiments of a sliding or a rolling (trolley) vertical support suitable configured to be suspended from the horizontal attachment rail, such as may be used in the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 24 illustrates a 3-dimensional storage system embodiment having at least two ceiling mounted rails to support one or more 2-dimensional storage system embodiments similar to that of FIG. 7A;

FIG. 25 is an exploded view of one embodiment of an attachment assembly, such as may be used in the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B, 7A, 18-20 and 24 to join a vertical support to a horizontal cross-tie and to affix an attachment thereto, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 26 is an isometric view of one embodiment of the attachment assembly of FIG. 25, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention; and

FIGS. 27-31 are isometric views of one embodiment of some of the various components used in the attachment assembly of FIG. 25, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention will now be described with reference to the attached drawings, wherein like reference numerals are used to refer to like elements throughout.

The invention relates to a flexible, reconfigurable wall, ceiling or other surface mounted storage system and method that provides horizontal and vertical (2-dimensional) adjustment of the attachment assemblies of various attachment components including various accessory clips, hook assemblies, quick connects and the like, that may be used to hold or store various tools or other storage items with a single (e.g., horizontal) member or rail requiring, for example, wall mounting penetrations. The storage system is suitable and beneficial for home garage storage, for rental tenants, industrial or commercial storage, or other such storage applications that can benefit from highly flexible storage reconfiguration.

In one embodiment of the invention, the storage system utilizes a horizontal attachment rail (mounted in the x-axis) that may be mounted to wall studs, for example, for structural support strength. This allows wall penetrations to mount the horizontal rail for the required structural loads creating minimal wall damage when the property is vacated, for example. For example, in mounting the storage system to a metal stud wall, a backer plate that distributes the load over a surface of the wall may be required and could require gluing it in place or having a peel off adhesive layer and then screwing the plate into the metal studs.

The storage system also comprises one or more vertical supports (providing the y-axis) that non-fixedly hang or are otherwise suspended from the horizontal attachment rail, and translate (e.g., slide, roll, glide) along the length of the horizontal attachment rail. Optionally, the vertical supports may be configured to lock in place along the horizontal attachment rail. The system further comprises one or more clips or hook assemblies that may then be attached to one of the vertical supports in a non-fixed manner, wherein the hook assemblies are configured to translate (e.g., slide) vertically along the length of the vertical support and lock in place. In addition, the hooks or hook assemblies may be attached to the attachment assemblies. One or more tools, yard tools, toys, or any other such item which is desired to be stored, may then be held in place directly or indirectly by the clips or hook assemblies, or by another one of a variety of accessories held by the hook assemblies, for example, including a net or wire-form accessory.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the storage system may comprise an even more flexible and reconfigurable 3-dimensional ceiling mounted storage system that not only provides the aforementioned horizontal (x-axis, first dimension) and vertical (y-axis, second dimension) adjustments of the attachment points of various accessory clips or hook assemblies, but also adds a third depth (z-axis) adjustment. The third depth (z-axis, third dimension) adjustment is provided by a pair of ceiling attachment rails fixedly mounted to the ceiling and arranged substantially parallel to each other. The ceiling attachment rails are configured to non-fixedly suspend and permit translation of the horizontal attachment rail in the third depth (z-axis) dimension along the pair of ceiling attachment rails. In this way, a hook may be infinitely positioned within a three-dimensional space defined by the length of the horizontal attachment rail (x-axis, first dimension), the length of the vertical support (y-axis, second dimension), and a length of the ceiling attachment rails (z-axis, third dimension).

In order to better appreciate one or more features of the invention, several exemplary embodiments of the storage system and various accessories utilized therewith are hereinafter illustrated and described with respect to the following figures.

FIGS. 1A, 1B, and 2-5, for example, illustrate several prior art storage systems comprising one or more rails (e.g., horizontal mounting rails). With the exception of the system of FIG. 1B, these prior art storage systems permit horizontal adjustment of the mounting position of a hook or shelf bracket slidably along the length of the rail, while the system of FIG. 1B permits no sliding horizontal adjustment of the mounting position of a hook.

The prior art storage system of FIG. 1A permits incremental or fixed vertical position adjustment of the shelf brackets 36 along the vertical wall mount brackets 34. However, this arrangement does not allow continuous or infinite vertical adjustment of a shelf bracket 36 between the discrete perforated slots in the vertical wall brackets 34. Thus any vertical positioning is limited to only the available slot positions in the vertical wall brackets 34. In addition, once the wire frame shelf is anchored to the multiple shelf brackets 36, horizontal movement or reconfiguration of the vertical wall brackets 34 or an individual shelf bracket 36, would be substantially cumbersome or impractical without first removing the wire frame shelf which joins the multiple shelf brackets 36.

The prior art storage systems of FIGS. 2-5 may not provide vertical adjustment or vertical reconfiguration of the storage hook assemblies on a horizontal rail.

FIG. 6A illustrates an embodiment of an exemplary storage system 600 used in accordance with at least one aspect of the present invention. FIG. 6A illustrates several advantages of the present invention storage system 600 over the prior art discussed supra. In this embodiment of the illustrated storage system 600 comprises a horizontal rail 102 that is fixedly mounted to a surface 106 utilizing brackets 103 bolted to the wall or surface 106 utilizing lag bolts 105 inserted through the bracket through holes 107 and into wooden studs, for example. Those skilled in the art recognize that special adapters, supports, load carrying structures and the like may be required to mount the rail 102 to a surface 106, for example metal studs, I-beams, concrete block, etc. and all such special adapters, supports, load carrying structures and the like, are contemplated herein in this invention. In this embodiment the floor 117 to ceiling height 99 is nine (9) feet and the brackets 103 can be mounted closely to the ceiling 111 for example, a few inches, say six (6) inches from the top of the bracket 103 to the ceiling 111. The at least one vertical support 104 can be chosen so that the at least one vertical support 104 has a bottom end 113 and the base of a bottom end component is close to the floor 117, for example, two (2) inches away from the floor 117. In this case almost the entire vertical length 99 of the room is covered so that with a single horizontal rail 102, items 109 can be stored from near the ceiling 111 to the floor 117 on the at least one vertical support 104 with the proper attachment assemblies 108. I should be appreciated that in another embodiment the rail 102 can be mounted against the ceiling 111 and in direct contact with it and the end of the at least one vertical support 104 with any type end attachment can be in direct contract with the floor to support heavier loads for example. In another embodiment the at least one vertical support 104 with any type end attachment can rest within a second rail to help maintain vertical stability.

In the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. 6A the at least one vertical support 104 can be mounted on the rail by removing either of the mechanical stops 121 and sliding or rolling the upper end assembly into the open end of the rail 102. The mechanical stop 121 can then be reattached so that the at least one vertical support 104 is captured within the rail 102.

In another embodiment of FIG. 6A, for example, the horizontal rail 102 can be mounted on bar studs (not shown) at the beginning off home construction such that drywall mounts up against the rail 102, and the rail 102 supports the drywall end that abuts the rail 102. Therefore, the rail 102 can accept a drywall end located on the ceiling studs and a drywall end located on the support or wall surface. This embodiment aids the contractor in being able to mount the rail 102 on the bare studs and to capture and hold the end of the drywall at a given end by, e.g., a sleeve on the rail 102 that allows the drywall to slide under the sleeve and then capture the end of the drywall. The storage system 600 in this embodiment can allow the storage system 600 to utilize the entire vertical height of the room, for example, from the ceiling 111 to the floor 117, as will be discussed in detail further on in this document.

Now referring to the defined two-dimensional space 118, this is the space 118 wherein the attachment assembly 108, having a hook 119 can be infinitely positioned within the two-dimensional space 118 defined by the usable length of the rail 114 and the usable length of the at least one vertical support 116. In FIG. 600 for example the useable length of the rail 102 is defined as the full movement that the hook 119 is allowed to travel in a two-dimensional plane or X-Y plane. The inventors appreciate, as do those of skill in the art that the hook 119 can travel in three dimensions however movement in the Z direction is limited for the most part by the rail. In this embodiment, the hook 119 can move in the negative X direction until an upper end assembly 110 of the at least one vertical support 104 comes into contact with a mechanical stop 121 (as shown as a dashed line) and in the positive X direction until upper end assembly 110 of the at least one vertical support 104 comes into contact with a mechanical stop 121. Therefore the useable length of the rail 102 is the distance between the two mechanical stops 121 minus the width of the upper end assembly 110. In other words when the upper end assembly 110 movement is stopped by the mechanical stop 121 the hook 119 is one half of the width 123 of the upper end assembly 110.

The useable length of the at least one vertical support 116 is equal to the distance between the bottom of the hook 119 when the attachment assembly 108 is against the vertical lower end attachment 147.

FIG. 6B illustrates a simplified cross-sectional view of the exemplary rail 102 and (mounting) bracket 103, such as may be used in the improved storage system 600 of FIG. 6A, in accordance with the present invention. For example, rail 102 may be supported by and attached to a wall using one or more bracket(s) 103 by way of anchor bolts (not shown) passing through bracket through holes 107, wherein the rail 102 provides slidable or rolling support of the at least one vertical supports 104 and one or more attachment assemblies 108 which may be adjusted thereon.

FIG. 6C illustrates an exemplary storage system 100 used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention for storing items 109, for example, tools, shovels, rakes, cleaning products, plastic garbage bags and other such items. The improved storage system 100 comprises a horizontal rail 102 and at least one vertical member 104 to which an item 109 (e.g., a shovel 190, a rake 113, and the like) may be attached and infinitely adjusted along the horizontal rail 102 and the at least one vertical support 104. The storage system 100 allows freedom of repositioning of an attachment component or hook assembly (not shown) anywhere within a 2-dimensional space defined horizontally (e.g., X-axis) along the usable length of the horizontal rail 102 (i.e., the attachment rail), and vertically (e.g., Y-axis) along the usable length of the at least one vertical member 104, for example.

FIG. 7A illustrates another exemplary improved storage system 101 used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention for storing tools and other such items. The improved storage system 101 comprises a rail 102 (e.g., horizontally mounted) and at least one vertical support 104 from which an item (e.g., shovel 190, rake 192) may be non-fixedly attached and infinitely adjustable along the (e.g., horizontal) rail 102 and the at least one vertical support 104 without damage to a wall. To avoid damage to a wall (not shown), from which the rail 102 is attached, the at least one vertical support 104 may also utilize a wheel assembly 706, for permitting support and spacing from the wall, while allowing the at least one vertical supports 104 to be repositioned (e.g., slidably or rollingly) along the length of the rails 102. The storage system 101 allows complete freedom of repositioning the attachment assembly 108 anywhere within a 2-dimensional space defined (e.g., horizontally, X-axis) along the usable length of the rail 102, and vertically (e.g., Y-axis) along the usable length of the at least one vertical supports 104, for example.

FIGS. 7B and 7C illustrate an embodiment of a hook attachment assembly 108 for attaching and storing items (e.g., 190, 192) therefrom and for slidably locking to one of the vertical supports 104 of the storage systems 100 of FIG. 6 and 101 of FIG. 7A, such as may be used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates one embodiment of the rail and a sliding vertical support of the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, such as may be used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 9A illustrates another embodiment of the rail and an end cap of the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 9B illustrate another embodiment of an end cap for the rail of the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, in accordance with another aspect of the present invention.

FIGS. 9C and 9D illustrate embodiments of internal and external couplings, respective, for a rail of the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates one embodiment of a rail, a sliding vertical support, and a sliding hook for support one or more storage items therefrom for the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 11 illustrates another embodiment of a rail, two embodiments of a sliding vertical support, and another embodiment of a sliding hook for support one or more storage items therefrom for the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIGS. 12 and 13 are front and top views, respectively, of another embodiment of a vertical support, and pin-puller arrangement on a vertical sleeve that can be used to lock the vertical sleeve at a hole position on the vertical support tube, the sleeve used for mounting a variety of attachment assemblies therefrom for the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 14 illustrates an embodiment of a sleeve mountable hook such as may be mounted on the vertical sleeve that is locked at a hole position on the vertical support tube of FIGS. 12 and 13, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 15 illustrates another embodiment of a sleeve mountable hook such as may be mounted on the vertical sleeve that is locked at a hole position on the vertical support tube of FIGS. 12 and 13, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIGS. 16A, B and C are perspective assembly views of a wheel assembly such as may be affixed to the bottom portion of a vertical support of the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 16A, for example, illustrates a wheel assembly 706 comprising a wheel 708 and a threaded shoulder bolt 709 configured to thread into a lower portion or end assembly of the at least one vertical support 104, while allowing the wheel 708 to freely rotate upon the shoulder of the bolt 709.

FIG. 16B, for example, illustrates a quick assembly push-in type wheel assembly 710 comprising a wheel 708 and an unthreaded shoulder bolt 711 configured with a clip retention groove 711A, configured to pass through the wheel 708 and into a tubing spring clip 712 which is retained within clip retention groove 711A to retain the wheel onto the shoulder of bolt 711. This bolt, wheel and spring clip assembly is then configured to be pressed into a lower portion of the at least one vertical support 104 (e.g., configured as a vertical support tube), such that the tubing spring clip retains the wheel assembly within the ID of the at least one vertical support 104. Again, the wheel 708 rotates freely upon the shoulder of the bolt 711.

Similarly, FIG. 16C illustrates another style of quick assembly push-in type wheel assembly 714 that is also removable. Wheel assembly 714 comprises a wheel 708 and a bayonet style shoulder bolt 718 configured to pass through wheel 708 and snap into a (e.g., plastic or metal) retention plug 716 which is independently pressed into a lower portion of the at least one vertical support 104 (e.g., configured as a vertical support tube 104/105). The retention plug 716 remains within the ID of vertical support 104 (tube), for retention of the bayonet style shoulder bolt 718, and permits the wheel 708 to rotate freely upon the shoulder of the bayonet style shoulder bolt 718.

FIGS. 17A and 17B illustrate perspective assembly views of embodiments of floor restraints 1702 and 1720, respectively, that may be used to restrain the position of one or more vertical supports 104, for example, to a floor 1710, such as may be used in the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 17A, for example, illustrates a floor restraint 1702 comprising a leg compression spring 1704 which resides internal to a vertical support 104, and exerts a pressure on an extendable leg 1706 which includes a foot 1708 (e.g., comprising a rubber foot) that restrains the position of the vertical support 104, for example, against a floor, sill plate, or other such surface 1710.

Similarly, FIG. 17B illustrates a floor restraint 1720 comprising a leg cam-leg locking nut 1724, for example, utilizing a cam action, which locks or otherwise restrains the extendable leg 1706 (e.g., internal to vertical support 104) which may further include a foot 1708 (e.g., comprising a rubber foot) that restrains the position of the vertical support 104, for example, against a floor, sill plate, or other such surface 1710.

FIG. 18 illustrates another exemplary improved storage system 1800 used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention for storing tools and other such items, the improved storage system comprising a rail and a vertical support from which an item may be attached and infinitely adjusted along the horizontal rail and the vertical support, the system also comprising a net-like structure with pockets suitable for storing various items, the system further comprising a white non-marking wheel, sphere, cylinder, and the like affixed to each vertical support to avoid damage to a wall.

FIG. 19 illustrates yet another exemplary improved storage system 1900 used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention, the system further comprising one or more wire shelving suitable for storing various items, the wire shelving configured to be attached to two or more vertical supports which are suspended from a rail.

FIG. 20 illustrates still another exemplary improved storage system 2000 used in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention, the system further comprising a wire-form structure suitable for storing various items, the wire-form structure configured to be attached to two or more vertical supports which are suspended from a rail.

FIG. 21 illustrates another embodiment of a rail, a sliding vertical support having a peg-board type structure, and a peg-board type hook for storing an item therefrom, suitable for use in the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 22 illustrates still another embodiment of a rail, two embodiments of a rolling (trolley) vertical support, another embodiment of a sliding hook for support one or more storage items therefrom, a peg-board type structure attached to one of the vertical support embodiments, and a peg-board type hook for storing an item therefrom, such as may be used in the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 23 illustrates various embodiments of the rail, and various embodiments of a sliding or a rolling (trolly) vertical support suitable configured to be suspended from the horizontal attachment rail, such as may be used in the storage systems of FIGS. 6 and 7A, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 24 illustrates a 3-dimensional storage system embodiment 2400, in accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, having at least two ceiling mounted horizontal attachment rails 2402 to support one or more 2-dimensional storage system embodiments similar to that of system 101 of FIG. 7A. Storage system 2400 provides three axis of storage system movement and positioning of an item to be stored. In other words, an item held by this storage system, may be stored anywhere within the 3-dimensional space defined by the lengths of the ceiling mounted horizontal attachment rails 2402 (e.g., Z-axis), the rail 102 (e.g., X-axis), and a vertical support 104 (e.g., Y-axis).

FIG. 25 illustrates an exploded view of one embodiment of an attachment assembly 2500, such as may be used in the storage systems of FIGS. 6A, 6B, 7A, 18-20 and 24, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention. Attachment assembly 2500, may be used, for example, to join a vertical support 2508 to a horizontal cross-tie 2506 and to affix one or more attachments (e.g., a rake, shovel, shelf, tool, a variety of yard equipment) thereto.

The attachment assembly 2500 is configured to receive and clamp the vertical support 2508, and to receive and clamp the horizontal cross-tie 2506 within a clamp block 2503, thereby infinitely and adjustably affixing an attachment hook 2505 of the attachment assembly 2500, in both a horizontal and vertical position.

The attachment assembly 2500 also includes a vertical release bolt 2501 retained by a clip 2513, the first release bolt 2501 configured to release the grip of an offset plate 2507 spring loaded by offset plate spring 2510 from the vertical support 2508 for adjustability in a vertical axis. The attachment assembly 2500 also includes a horizontal release bolt 2502, retained by an acorn nut 2512, configured to release a binding force exerted on the horizontal cross-tie 2506 by a chamfer 2502 on horizontal release bolt 2502 and horizontal compression spring 2509 binding the horizontal cross-tie 2506, thereby providing adjustability in a horizontal axis.

The attachment hook 2505 may be held to the attachment assembly 2500 by means of screws 2514 and cover 2504. The offset plate spring 2510 may be centered within the clamp block 2503 by securing plate 2511, which is held to cover 2504 by screws 2515.

FIG. 26 illustrates an isometric view of the attachment assembly 2500 of FIG. 25, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

FIGS. 27-31 illustrate isometric views of some of the various components used in the attachment assembly 2500 of FIG. 25, in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention.

Although the invention has been illustrated and described with respect to one or more implementations, equivalent alterations and modifications will occur to others skilled in the art upon the reading and understanding of this specification and the annexed drawings. In particular regard to the various functions performed by the above described components (assemblies, devices, circuits, systems, etc.), the terms (including a reference to a “means”) used to describe such components are intended to correspond, unless otherwise indicated, to any component which performs the specified function of the described component (e.g., that is functionally equivalent), even though not structurally equivalent to the disclosed structure which performs the function in the herein illustrated exemplary implementations of the invention. In addition, while a particular feature of the invention may have been disclosed with respect to only one of several implementations, such feature may be combined with one or more other features of the other implementations as may be desired and advantageous for any given or particular application. Furthermore, to the extent that the terms “including”, “includes”, “having”, “has”, “with”, or variants thereof are used in either the detailed description and the claims, such terms are intended to be inclusive in a manner similar to the term “comprising.”





 
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