Title:
Twist Lock System for Storage Systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A new method of creating a shelving system is disclosed which utilizes vertical supports in a flexible method of positioning horizontal supports. The method of installing the supports is a twisting “T” slot design which firmly locks the support in place in a manner that provides a high support strength. The supports may be installed in a variety of incremental positions rapidly, and is useful for permanent storage or for displays of items which involve rapid assembly and disassembly.



Inventors:
Drobot, Michael J. (Calgary, CA)
Boutsayaphat, Jason C. (Mississauga, CA)
Belogh, Adam (North York, CA)
Application Number:
12/630936
Publication Date:
06/09/2011
Filing Date:
12/04/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/70.6, 211/74, 211/85.18, 211/183
International Classes:
A47F5/00; A47B65/00; A47B73/00; A47F7/00; A47G29/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20020195410Screwless angle bar rackDecember, 2002Lin
20070045204Lockable transportation rack for storing and shipping sheet materialsMarch, 2007Huard et al.
20050269277Wine bottle frameDecember, 2005Su
20030057171Folding collapsible storage rackMarch, 2003Wang
20070023373Modular wall-display system for decorative fixturesFebruary, 2007Graves et al.
20030196970Carousel type disc case holderOctober, 2003Jiang
20050258117Folding shelfNovember, 2005Drake
20080184475ILLUMINATED GRAB BARAugust, 2008Sladick et al.
20070062889Universal cassetteMarch, 2007Salzmann
20080116160CLOSET ORGANIZER SYSTEMMay, 2008Mcnicholas
20100089849HOCKEY STICK CARRYING APPARATUSApril, 2010Sheppard et al.



Primary Examiner:
HAWN, PATRICK D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Loen Patent Services, LLC (2266 S Dobson Road, Ste 200 Mesa AZ 85202-6412)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A storage or display system for attachment to a surface comprising: a) at least one frame element for attachment to said surface, b) at least one supporting element for connecting to each said frame element, c) wherein said frame element is elongated and incorporates a plurality of locator holes, d) wherein said frame element incorporates a uniform slot for engagement with said supporting element, e) wherein said supporting element incorporates a cam that is designed to engage with said uniform slot, f) wherein said cam firmly attaches said supporting element to said frame element when rotated substantially one quarter turn, and g) wherein said supporting element incorporates a pin that engages with a user selected locator hole, whereby said supporting element is useful for storing or displaying items.

2. The storage or display system according to claim 1, wherein said supporting element incorporates a snap lock that additionally engages said uniform slot.

3. The storage or display system according to claim 1, wherein said supporting elements incorporate features for holding bottles or rails.

4. The storage or display system according to claim 1, wherein said supporting elements incorporate features for holding at least one item selected from the group consisting of: wine bottles, glasses, tools, cans, jars, books, kitchen items, small appliances, cleaning supplies, and jugs.

5. The storage or display system according to claim 1, wherein said locator holes are spaced at substantially regular intervals.

6. The storage or display system according to claim 1, wherein said frame element is made from a metal and said supporting element is made from a plastic.

7. The storage or display system according to claim 1, wherein any fastener used to attach said frame element to said surface incorporates a recessed hole to be used as a said locator hole.

8. The storage or display system according to claim 1, wherein said cam incorporates a curved surface, and said curved surface defines a tolerance dimension for a friction fit on said uniform slot.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

(1) Field of the Invention

This invention is directed to vertical wall type modular storage systems where a flexible and relocatable storage shelving system is desirable. Also, the present invention is directed to a simplified method of adjusting horizontal shelving where shelves are rapidly and simply relocated to a new height. Additionally, the present invention provides for new types of shelving or item holders to be rapidly installed in vertical holding supports quickly and conveniently so that a display may be readily assembled, disassembled, or changed.

(2) Description of Related Art

An important and desirable shelving display is in a commercial setting where a display booth is quickly brought to a location and then swiftly installed in a trade show to display particular products. A highly customizable, yet relatively modular system is very desirable for visual aesthetics, and to ensure that the product booth is organized in a way that provides for an opportunity for a sales discussion. It is often the case that the products to be sold are of varying sizes.

Another desirable shelving display is a customizable wine system where a person provides a display of individual wine bottles and rotates them to allow the label on each bottle to be prominently displayed. The bottles may be displayed level or off level to ensure that the cork is kept in the wet state according to the custom of how individual bottles are stored/displayed. A large number of bottles may be desired to be displayed, or only a small portion depending upon the business or personal owner of the collection. It is desirable to have a shelving system that provides small incremental height adjustments, does not require a particular height on each end of the bottle, and allows for individual and unique item holders (such as wine bottles). Also, it is helpful that the storage system allow for rapid display changes as bottles are consumed and the display may be varied according to how the owner desires to feature newly purchased bottles.

It is highly desirable to have a storage system that provides for a high weight loading, that is, a design that provides confidence for the owner. Systems that provide storage need to be able to hold items securely for a long time, and the owner needs to have confidence that the items will not fall or break.

Others have looked into variable height storage shelving systems. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,062,401 describes a variable height shelving system where the storage shelves are able to be relocated via two vertical notched posts, and the storage shelves are otherwise guided or stabilized by four vertical guide posts. Unfortunately, this system does not provide for a wall type of display, nor does it provide for a method of holding individual items.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,182,937 describes a method of utilizing a slotted hole and a slot on an angle. Although this may have some advantage in strength over other designs at the time of filing, the design is permanently attached to the wall and is not generally considered re-locatable.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,605,238 describes a shelving system that is useful for storing a variety of items. However, the system requires vertical supports not attached to the wall, has many un-needed parts, and is over complicated. Re-configuring the shelving system is not convenient, nor can it be done rapidly.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,991,117 discloses a wine rack where rods designed to hold horizontal wine bottles are bent in a way to support each end of the bottle. The rods are designed to support one or more wine bottles which provide flexibility in size. However, the vertical supports lack in the ability to allow the rods to be placed in vertical positions incrementally, which provide important flexibility in actual use and personal customization. Also, the horizontal rods need to be welded into the vertical support for support strength, further restricting any ability for customization or adapting the storage to a particular need.

It is notable that the patents described generally do not have any locking feature for the horizontal support when it is relocatable. It is merely engaged by gravity, and therefore cannot be installed at any angle or attached to a horizontal surface such as a ceiling.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A new method of creating a shelving system is disclosed which utilizes vertical supports in a flexible method of positioning horizontal supports. The method of installing the supports is a twisting “T” slot design which firmly locks the support in place in a manner that provides a high support strength. The supports may be installed in a variety of incremental positions rapidly, and is useful for permanent storage or for displays of items which involve rapid assembly and disassembly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

FIG. 1 shows a view of how the present invention is used in one embodiment.

FIGS. 2A-2D shows an exploded view of the twist lock system for the horizontal support with an additional lower snap lock.

FIG. 3 shows an alternate view of how the present invention is used in another embodiment.

FIG. 4 shows how a single vertical column is used to support bottles for storage.

FIG. 5 shows a detail of the cam and locator pin on the horizontal support of FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 shows how the vertical support column may be installed in a wall by a fastener that additional provides a locator hole for the locator pin.

FIG. 7 shows how the invention is used to support glassware racks, such as wine glasses.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows a general embodiment of the present invention where it is used for storage as a wine rack. Vertical support columns 101 are mounted on a wall or other vertical surface that can be used for storage. A triple neck arm 102a with triple base arm 102b, a double neck arm 103a with a double neck base arm 103b, and a single neck arm 104a with a single base arm 104b are shown. All of the arms are re-locatable on the vertical support columns 101 as will be discussed in the next figure. An ID tag with a swivel feature may be used to identify items being stored or mounted on the vertical support columns 101. An angle arm 106 with a different design to support items is shown. Soft elastomer pads 107a,b,c are optionally added to any of the arms to provide gentle support and a security grip for items being displayed or stored, and to prevent damage to delicate items such as glass which can slip off of the support.

The vertical support columns are to be mounted to the wall or other vertical surface in a manner that will support the desired storage-display weight. Various fasteners, drywall anchor screws, nails, screws, bolts, hooks, brackets, straps, and other hardware commercially available may be utilized with success.

As shown in FIG. 1, a combination of a number of different horizontal supporting elements are incorporated into a pair of vertical columns, and a uniform horizontal support structure is not required. As conceived in the present invention, at least one support column is required, and at least one support member. The method of attachment of the horizontal support is further detailed in FIGS. 2A-2D.

FIGS. 2A-2D illustrates the method of how the horizontal support locks into the vertical support column in a way that provides flexibility for display items, high support strength, convenient relocation to a new position on the vertical support column, and rapid repositioning. The horizontal support shown is not limited to only storage such as a shelf support or a flat item, but may be used to hold oddly shaped items, such as wine bottles, tools, cans, jars, books, kitchen items, small appliances, cleaning supplies, jugs, and many other items that are stored on a shelf or against a wall.

FIG. 2A shows a horizontal support 201 and vertical column 202 which comprise two elements of the storage system. Three horizontal supports 201 are shown on the vertical column in various stages of interlock. The top support is being located on the vertical column by directing the locator pin 204 into the locator hole 206 (see FIG. 2B for close up detail). The support is rotated so that the cam 203 on the shaft 208 is vertical and passes into a uniform “T” slot 205. The middle and bottom supports demonstrate that after the locator pin 204 is inserted into the locator hole 206 (see FIG. 2C-plan view) it is rotated ¼ of a complete turn so that the snap lock 207 is rotated downward and it engages or snaps into the “T” Slot 205 for a firm lock (FIG. 2D-profile view). The support is designed so that the rotation may be clockwise or counterclockwise depending upon the convenience of how the user engages the support into the “T” slot 205. The cam 203 is designed symmetrically so that the support may be engaged in either of two positions 180 degrees apart.

The snap lock, however, in a preferred embodiment is designed not to be permanent. The snap lock is only moderately resistive to rotating away from the “T” Slot. This provides for rapid relocation of the horizontal support 201 into any locator hole on the vertical column 202 in a matter of seconds. No tooling is required for relocation. The snap lock is designed to engage with the vertical support column to provide a secure, but non permanent locking. The snap lock 207 is one embodiment of the present invention, but the attachment of some horizontal supports are too small to allow for incorporation of a snap lock.

FIG. 2B shows that the cam 203 is designed so that it passes through the “T” slot, and the cam is additionally designed so that it has a friction grip upon the “T” slot around the shaft 208 due to a tight tolerance fit. In combination with the lower bracing of the horizontal support, this provides additional vertical support strength of up to 150 lbs (or more) per support. The combination of friction and locator pin, additionally with the lower snap lock, provides important support strength. Also, the use of locator pins provide for exact positioning of the horizontal support.

The locator holes 206 are preferably spaced at regular intervals, but are optionally interrupted for a mounting feature.

FIGS. 2A-2D demonstrates that the present invention is therefore a multipurpose and highly efficient method of supporting items that is very practical, and utilizes at least one support column for linking, supporting, or hanging in applications like displays and storage.

The vertical support columns are preferably made from a metal such as steel or aluminum, or other suitably strong support column material, such as an engineered plastic. The horizontal support members with the rotating cam and locating pin are typically made from plastic that is injection molded for best overall cost. Other materials could be utilized with equal success.

FIG. 3 shows another embodiment of the present invention. A vertical support column 301 is used to engage horizontal support brackets 303 by the methods described in FIGS. 2A-2D. A rail 304 is supported on the horizontal support brackets 303, and a cradle shaped bottle stand 302 is attached to the rail 304. Additionally, a cradle shaped bottle holder 306 is also attached to the rail 304. Soft elastomers 305a, b, c, which cushion and grip, are used to protect the bottles or other items to be stored from the holders mounted on the rail. By adding additional bottle holders and bottle stands, as well as additional rails, an entire storage system can be developed for numerous bottles of various sizes and shapes. Any number of vertical supports and horizontal support brackets can be added to accommodate the needed shapes, sizes, and weights of a storage system. The storage system can therefore be expanded to include glass hangers, baskets, storage containers, shelves, hooks, rails, books, wine bottles, glasses, tools, cans, jars, kitchen items, small appliances, cleaning supplies, and jugs.

FIG. 4 shows another embodiment of the present invention. A single vertical column 401 is used to support bottles for storage. To compress space, the bottles are stored at various angles. An outward projecting support ring 402, a wall hugging support ring 403, an outward projecting 45 degree angle support ring 405, and a tilting support ring 406, are all used to support and hold glass bottles. Soft elastomers 404a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h are used to prevent bottle damage and to ensure that the support rings have a long life as well.

Although the present invention will be most useful in attaching to a wall, the methods disclosed are not meant to be restrictive to only a vertical wall. The support column with the “T” slot can be installed on a horizontal or inclined surface, such as a ceiling or a cathedral ceiling, and the supporting element can be used for storage of various items with suitable designs that incorporate hooks, for example. Further, the support column, or alternately described as a support frame or simply a frame, is installed on such surfaces commonly found in display areas in conventions and sales events, where it is desirable to promote items for sale.

FIG. 5 shows a detail of the cam and locator pin on the horizontal support of FIG. 2. The cam 504 is attached to the support arm face 505 through a shaft 501. There is a curved surface 503 on the cam 504 which defines a tolerance between the cam and the support arm face 505. This tolerance is designed to provide the snug or friction fit between the support arm and the uniform T Slot on the vertical column. A locator pin 502 additionally provides vertical strength, and also provides a defined position on the support column.

FIG. 6 shows an embodiment where the vertical support column is installed on a wall by a fastener that additionally provides a locator hole for the locator pin. A vertical support column with a uniform slot 601 is to be attached to a vertical surface by a screw 604 as shown. The screw has a recessed hex, screw flat, or Phillips machining and an oversized hole that allows locator pin 603 from support arm 602 to be positioned based on the position of the screw 604. This method allows the attachment fasteners to maintain the same incremental positioning in the support column. Generally, the vertical support column will be slightly drilled larger on site in order to provide room for the screw at the same spot as a locator hole. Alternately, the vertical support column is be predrilled with holes in a suitable pattern that are slightly larger to accommodate screws such as shown in FIG. 6.

FIG. 7 shows how the invention is used to support glassware racks, such as wine glasses. A plurality of vertical support columns is used with horizontal supports to support a rail 703 which, in turn, supports an attached horizontal glassware holder 701. The glassware holder 701 is positioned anywhere along the rail 703. The glassware holder 701 holds wine type glasses upside down by the stem. A shelf 702 is attached to the rail and provides flexibility for other items to be stored. A alternate glassware holder 704 is directly attached to the vertical support column by use of a different design. It may be positioned vertically as necessary, and the glasses may be positioned anywhere along the support. Elastomer pads 706 are used to protect the glasses. A storage container 705 of some kind, such as a waste or a washing container, is directly attached to the vertical column. The system, as shown, demonstrates elements that are useful in a wet bar for example. It is helpful to have flexibility in storage for such a system, when a large party takes place and the need for storage is more demanding. When the party is over, the need for storage diminishes and it is helpful to be able to dismantle it quickly and place items in long term storage to avoid dust, or to return them to the place where they were borrowed.

While various embodiments of the present invention have been described, the invention may be modified and adapted to various operational methods to those skilled in the art. Therefore, this invention is not limited to the description and figure shown herein, and includes all such embodiments, changes, and modifications that are encompassed by the scope of the claims.