Title:
External locking mechanism
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a storage container with an external locking mechanism. The storage container includes a base, a roof, sidewalls extending between the base and roof, and first and second doors rotatably mounted directly or indirectly to the first and second sidewalls, respectively. The first and second doors are configured to rotate between open and closed positions. The locking mechanism includes a tab fixedly mounted directly or indirectly to the first door. This tab includes an aperture for receiving a shackle of a lock. The tab aperture defines a centerline that extends in a direction substantially perpendicular to respective planes in which the roof and base are contained. The locking mechanism also includes a container fixedly mounted directly or indirectly to the second door and configured to receive the lock. The lock container comprises a lock container base, and lock container sidewalls extending from the lock container base. A first lock container side comprises a lock container aperture. The lock container is fixedly mounted to the second door. When the first and second doors are in the closed position, the tab extends through the lock container aperture.



Inventors:
Smith, Thomas Lee (New Braunfels, TX, US)
Application Number:
09/875634
Publication Date:
02/14/2002
Filing Date:
06/06/2001
Assignee:
SMITH THOMAS LEE
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/1.5, 220/826, 312/215, 312/324
International Classes:
B65D88/12; B65D90/00; E05B65/14; E05B67/24; E05B67/36; E05B67/38; (IPC1-7): B65D55/14; B65D90/54
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CAMPBELL STEPHENSON LLP (CEDAR PARK, TX, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A storage container comprising: a base; a roof; sidewalls extending between the base and roof; first and second doors rotatably mounted directly or indirectly to the first and second sidewalls, respectively, wherein the first and second doors are configured to rotate between open and closed positions; a tab fixedly mounted directly or indirectly to the first door, wherein the tab includes an aperture for receiving a shackle of a lock, wherein the tab aperture defines a center line that extends in a direction substantially perpendicular to respective planes in which the roof and base are contained; a lock container fixedly mounted directly or indirectly to the second door and configured to receive the lock, wherein the lock container comprises a lock container base, and lock container sidewalls extending from the lock container base, wherein a first lock container side comprises a lock container aperture, wherein the lock container is fixedly mounted to the second door; wherein the tab extends through the lock container aperture when the first and second doors are in the closed position.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising the lock, the lock comprising a lock housing and the shackle, wherein the lock housing comprises a recess configured to receive the tab, wherein the shackle is movable into or out of the tab aperture when the tab is received in the recess.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the lock container comprises an opening, wherein the lock is insertable into or removable from the lock container through the opening.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the lock container comprises four lock container sidewalls, wherein ends of the lock container sidewalls opposite the lock container base, define the opening.

5. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, wherein third and fourth oppositely facing lock container sidewalls engage the lock housing.

6. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, wherein the lock housing engages one of second and third oppositely facing lock container sidewalls.

7. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, wherein the lock housing is separated from second and third oppositely facing lock container sidewalls by first and second distances, respectively.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the first distance is less than one inch.

9. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein the second distance is less than one inch.

10. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the container sidewall engages the lock housing.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein a third distance separates the lock and a fourth container sidewall, wherein the first container sidewall faces opposite the fourth lock container sidewall, wherein the fourth distance is greater than a width of the lock housing.

12. A storage container comprising: a base; a roof; a pair of sidewalls extending between the base and roof; an end wall extending between the base and roof; a tab fixedly mounted to the end wall, wherein the tap comprises a tab aperture configured to receive a shackle of a lock, wherein the tab aperture defines a center line that extends in a direction substantially perpendicular to respective planes in which the roof and base are contained; a door mounted directly or indirectly to one of the side walls, wherein the door is rotatably between open and closed positions; a lock container fixedly mounted directly or indirectly to the door and configured to receive the lock, wherein the lock container comprises a lock container base, and lock container sidewalls extending from the lock container base, wherein a first lock container side comprises a lock container aperture; wherein the tab extends through the lock container aperture when the door is in the closed position.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 further comprising the lock, the lock comprising a lock housing and the shackle, wherein the lock housing comprises a recess configured to receive the tab, wherein the shackle is movable into or out of the tab aperture when the tab is received in the recess.

14. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the lock container comprises an opening, wherein the lock is insertable into or removable from the lock container through the opening.

15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the lock container comprises four lock container sidewalls, wherein ends of the lock container sidewalls opposite the lock container base, define the opening.

16. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, wherein second and third oppositely facing lock container sidewalls engage the lock housing.

17. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, wherein the lock housing engages one of second and third oppositely facing lock container sidewalls.

18. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, wherein the lock housing is separated from second and third oppositely facing lock container sidewalls by first and second distances, respectively.

19. The apparatus of claim 18 wherein the first distance is less than one inch.

20. The apparatus of claim 19 wherein the second distance is less than one inch.

21. The apparatus of claim 18 wherein the first container sidewall engages the lock housing.

22. The apparatus of claim 21 wherein a third distance separates the lock and a fourth container sidewall, wherein the first container sidewall faces opposite the fourth lock container sidewall, wherein the fourth distance is greater than a width of the lock housing.

23. A storage container comprising: a base; a roof; sidewalls extending between the base and roof; first and second doors rotatably mounted directly or indirectly to the first and second sidewalls, respectively, wherein the first and second doors are configured to rotate between open and closed positions; means for locking the first and second doors when the first and second doors are in the closed position.

24. A storage container comprising: a base; a roof; a pair of sidewalls extending between the base and roof; an end wall extending between the base and roof; a door mounted directly or indirectly to one of the side walls, wherein the door is rotatably between open and closed positions; means for locking the door to the endwall when the door is in the closed position.

Description:

1. CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/208,616, entitled “Internal and/or External Lock Box Mechanism for High Security Applications,” filed Jun. 6, 2000.

2. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Portable storage containers are widely used to provide temporary or permanent storage space for tools, equipment, goods, etc. U.S. Pat. No. 5,833,111 entitled “Foldable Storage Container” filed Sep. 25, 1997, which is incorporated herein by reference, illustrates an exemplary storage container. Storage containers are easily moveable to provide quick response to business owners in need of additional storage. Storage containers are typically formed from ridged materials and are provided with locking mechanisms for security purposes.

[0003] Storage containers generally include a base, a pair of sidewalls, and a roof. One or more doors may be provided at each end of the storage container to enable access thereto. Storage containers are available in a wide variety of sizes. Prior art storage containers can be assembled as rigid structures with the base, sidewalls and roof fixedly connected to each other using well-known welding techniques. Additionally, as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,833,111, storage containers may be foldable.

[0004] Storage containers are often employed to store expensive tools and equipment at construction sites. As such, these storage containers are often the targets of thieves. Heretofore, locking mechanisms have been employed to prevent theft of storage container contents. FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a prior art storage container 100 having a locking mechanism 102. Storage container 100 includes a base 104, a pair of sidewalls 106a and 106b, an end section (not shown), a pair of doors 108a and 108b, and a roof 110. Hinges rotatably couple doors 108a and 108b to sidewalls 106a and 106b, respectively. FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the storage container shown in FIG. 1. FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view showing locking mechanism 102 taken along line AA of FIG. 2. With continued reference to FIG. 3, locking mechanism 102 includes a tab 112 and a lock box 116. Lock box 116 includes an opening 124 for accessing a pad lock. FIG. 4a is a front view of tab 112 integrally formed on a first mounting plate 126. Mounting plate 126 is fixedly mounted to door 108a. FIG. 4b is a side view of the tab 112, mounting plate 126, and door 108a shown in FIG. 4a. As seen in FIG. 4b, tab 112 includes a tab aperture 114 for receiving a shackle (not shown in FIG. 4b) of the pad lock.

[0005] Returning to FIG. 3, when doors 108a and 108b are in the closed position, tab 112 extends through an aperture 118 of lock box 116. In this position, a shackle of a pad lock can be inserted into tab aperture 114. With shackle 122 inserted into tab aperture 114, doors 108a and 108b are restrained in the closed position and the contents of the storage container 102 are secure. However, a thief using, for example, bolt cutters, can cut the shackle of the pad lock and gain access to the contents of storage container 102.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] Disclosed is a storage container with an external locking mechanism. The storage container includes a base, a roof, sidewalls extending between the base and roof, and first and second doors rotatably mounted directly or indirectly to the first and second sidewalls, respectively. The first and second doors are configured to rotate between open and closed positions. The locking mechanism includes a tab fixedly mounted directly or indirectly to the first door. This tab includes an aperture for receiving a shackle of a lock. The tab aperture defines a centerline that extends in a direction substantially perpendicular to respective planes in which the roof and base are contained. The locking mechanism also includes a container fixedly mounted directly or indirectly to the second door and configured to receive the lock. The lock container comprises a lock container base, and lock container sidewalls extending from the lock container base. A first lock container side comprises a lock container aperture. The lock container is fixedly mounted to the second door. When the first and second doors are in the closed position, the tab extends through the lock container aperture.

[0007] Alternatively, the storage container may include an end wall fixedly connected to the base, roof, and one of the sidewalls. The end wall may replace one of the doors above. In this alternative arrangement, the tab is fixedly mounted to the end wall and extends through the lock container aperture when the door is in the closed position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] The present invention may be better understood, and its numerous objects, features and advantages made apparent to those skilled in the art by referencing the accompanying drawings. The use of the same reference number throughout the figures designates a like or similar element.

[0009] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a prior art storage container;

[0010] FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the storage container shown in FIG. 1;

[0011] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a locking mechanism taken along line AA of FIG. 2;

[0012] FIG. 4a is a front view of the tab mounted on the door shown in FIG. 3;

[0013] FIG. 4b is a side view of the tab mounted on the door shown in FIG. 3;

[0014] FIG. 5a is a perspective view of a storage container employing a locking mechanism according to one embodiment of the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 5b is a perspective view of another storage container employing a locking mechanism according to one embodiment of the present invention;

[0016] FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the storage container shown in FIG. 5a;

[0017] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of a locking mechanism taken along line BB of FIG. 6;

[0018] FIG. 8 is a front view of the tab mounted on the door shown in FIG. 7;

[0019] FIG. 9 is a top view of the tab mounted on the door shown in FIG. 7;

[0020] FIG. 10 is a bottom view of the locking mechanism shown in FIG. 6;

[0021] FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of the lock box shown in FIG. 10 taken along line CC thereof;

[0022] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a lock;

[0023] FIG. 13 is a side view of the lock shown in FIG. 12;

[0024] FIG. 14 is a back view of the lock shown in FIG. 12;

[0025] FIG. 15 illustrates the lock shown in FIG. 12 with the key mechanism thereof partially removed;

[0026] FIG. 16 illustrates the lock mechanism shown in FIG. 7 with the lock operatively positioned therein;

[0027] FIG. 17 is a bottom view of the lock and locking mechanism shown in FIG. 16; and

[0028] FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view taken along line DD of FIG. 17.

[0029] While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof are shown by way of example in the drawings and will herein be described in detail. However, the drawings and detailed description thereto are not intended to limit the invention to the particular form disclosed. On the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0030] FIG. 5a is a perspective view of a storage container in employing locking mechanism 202. Storage container 200 includes a base 204, a pair of sidewalls 206a and 206b, an end wall (not shown), doors 208a and 208b, and roof 210. Sidewalls 206a and 206b extend between base 204 and roof 210. Doors 208a and 208b are rotatably mounted to sidewalls 206a and 206b, respectively. Hinges 212 can rotatably mount doors 208a and 208b to sidewalls 206a and 206b, respectively. Doors 208a and 208b are rotatable between the opened and closed position. FIG. 5a shows doors 208a and 208b in the closed position.

[0031] FIG. 5b is a perspective view of the storage container shown in FIG. 5a with modifications thereto. More particularly, FIG. 5b shows door 208a replaced with an end section 214 fixedly connected to base 204, sidewall 206a, and roof 210.

[0032] FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the storage container shown in FIG. 5a. FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the locking mechanism 202 shown in FIG. 6 taken along line BB thereof. As seen in FIG. 7, locking mechanism 202 includes a lock box 216, and a tab 218. FIG. 8 is a front view of tab 218. FIG. 9 is a top view of tab 218. As seen in FIGS. 8 and 8b, tab 218 is fixedly connected to a mounting plate 220, which in turn is fixedly connected to door 208a. For purposes of explanation, locking mechanism 202 will be described with reference to the storage container 200 shown in FIG. 5a, it being understood that locking mechanism 202 may be employed in the storage container 200 shown in FIG. 5b with tab 218 fixedly mounted to end section 214.

[0033] Tab 218 may be formed from high strength steel. Tab 218 includes a tab aperture 221 having a centerline extending orthogonal to the planes in which base 204 and roof 210 are respectively contained. Tab aperture 221 is configured to receive a shackle (not shown in FIG. 6 or 7) of a lock (not shown in FIG. 6 or 7). Tab 218 is fixedly mounted to door 208a via first mounting plate 220. For purposes of definition, two components can be mounted together either directly or indirectly via one or more intermediate components. FIG. 7 shows tab 218 indirectly mounted to door 208a via first mounting plate 220. First mounting plate 220 may be formed from high strength steel. Tab 218 may be integrally formed with first mounting plate 220. Alternatively, tab 218 may be welded to first mounting plate 126. Mounting plate 220 may be welded to door 208a using well known welding techniques.

[0034] FIG. 10 is a bottom view of lock box 216 fixedly mounted to door 208b. As shown in FIG. 10, lock box 216 is fixedly mounted to door 208b via second mounting plate 222. Lock box 216 can be welded to second mounting plate 222. Second welding plate 222, in turn, can be welded to door 208b using well known welding techniques. Both lock box and second mounting plate 222 may be formed from high strength steel. FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view taken along line CC shown in FIG. 10. As shown in FIG. 11, lock box 216 includes a lock box aperture 224. With reference to FIG. 7, lock box 216 is directly or indirectly mounted to door 208b such that tab 218 extends through lock box aperture 224 when doors 208a and 208b are in the closed position. It is noted that tab aperture 221 extends vertically such that a center line thereof perpendicularly extends between the planes in which roof 210 and base 204 are respectively contained.

[0035] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a lock 226 that can be used in connection with the locking mechanism 202 shown in FIG. 7. The American 2000 model lock produced by American Lock, Inc. of Crete Ill., is an example of lock 226. FIG. 13 is a side view of lock 226 shown in FIG. 12. FIG. 14 is a back view of the lock shown in FIG. 12. With reference to FIGS. 12-14, lock 226 includes a lock housing 228. With reference to FIGS. 12 and 14, a recess 230 is formed in the back surface 230 of lock housing 228. Lock 226 includes a shackle 232 coupled to a key mechanism 234 (FIG. 15).

[0036] Shackle 232 is moveable within recess 230. More particularly, using a key (not shown in FIGS. 12-14)) key mechanism 234 can be partially removed from housing 228. FIG. 15 shows the lock 226 of FIG. 14 with key mechanism 234 partially removed. With key mechanism 234 partially removed from housing 228, lock 226 is said to be “unlocked.” As can be seen FIG. 15, partially removing key mechanism 234 moves shackle 232 out of recess 230. With lock 226 unlocked as shown in FIG. 15, lock 226 can be inserted into lock box 216 (see FIG. 7), and tab 218 can be inserted into recess 230 of lock 226. FIG. 16 shows the locking mechanism 202 with lock 226 inserted into lock box 216. Although not shown in FIG. 16, tab 218 is inserted into recess 230 of lock 226. In this position, key mechanism 234 is fully reinserted into the housing 228. Reinserting key mechanism 234 into housing 228 causes shackle 232 to be inserted into tab aperture 221. It is further noted that the diameter of tab aperture 221 should be slightly greater than the cross-sectional diameter of shackle 232 so that shackle 232 fits snugly in tab aperture 221.

[0037] FIG. 16 shows that sidewalls 240a and 240b of lock box 216 are positioned adjacent lock 226. A gap is provided between lock 226 and one or both of sidewalls 240a and 240b. Although not shown in FIG. 16, the gap may be sufficient only to allow human fingers to fit between the sidewall 242 of lock 226 and one or both of sidewalls 240a and 240b. In another embodiment not shown in FIG. 16, sidewall 242 may engage sidewalls 240a and 240b when lock 226 is received in the lock box 216. Thus, in these alternative embodiments, the width of lock box 216 may be substantially smaller than that shown in FIG. 16.

[0038] It is noted that with tab 218 inserted into recess 230, and shackle 232 inserted into aperture 221, the back surface 230 of lock 226 engages or is positioned very close to sidewall 240c of lock box 216. With lock 226 in this position, shackle 232 is inaccessible to bolt cutters or other tools for cutting. It is noted that with tab 218 inserted into recess 230, and shackle 232 inserted into aperture 221, key mechanism 234 is accessible through the opening 244 of lock box 216. It is noted that the widths of first and second mounting plates 220 and 222, respectively, are selected to eliminate or substantially eliminate the gap between lock box 216 and first mounting plate 220 when tab 218 extends through box aperture 224 and tab aperture 221 receives the shackle 232 of lock 226.

[0039] Although the present invention has been described in connection with several embodiments, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein. On the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.