Title:
Internal locking mechanism
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a storage container with an internal locking mechanism. The storage container with internal locking mechanism 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 second door includes a door surface with a recess formed therein. The recess includes a recess surface and a recess sidewall. The recess sidewall extends between the recess surface and the door surface. A recess aperture is formed through the recess surface. The internal locking mechanism further includes a tab fixedly mounted directly or indirectly to the first door. The 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 tab extends through the recess aperture when the first and second doors are in the closed position.



Inventors:
Smith, Thomas Lee (New Braunfels, TX, US)
Application Number:
09/875736
Publication Date:
02/21/2002
Filing Date:
06/06/2001
Assignee:
SMITH THOMAS LEE
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/826, 312/215, 312/324, 220/1.5
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, wherein the second door comprises a door surface with a recess formed therein, wherein the recess comprises a recess surface and a recess sidewall, wherein the recess sidewall extends between the recess surface and the door surface, and wherein the recess comprises a recess aperture; 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; wherein the tab extends through the recess 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 lock 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 lock recess.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the lock housing is cylindrically shaped in general, wherein the lock housing comprises a cylindrically shaped sidewall extending between substantially flat top and bottom surfaces, wherein the lock recess is formed in the bottom surface.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the recess sidewall comprises an arcuate portion.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, and wherein the cylindrically shaped sidewall of the lock housing engages the arcuate shaped portion of the recess sidewall.

6. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, and wherein the cylindrically shaped sidewall of the lock housing is positioned adjacent the arcuate shaped portion of the recess sidewall.

8. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein the cylindrically shaped sidewall of the lock housing is separated from the arcuate shaped portion of the recess sidewall by less than one inch.

9. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the recess surface engages the bottom surface of the lock housing.

10. 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 the one of the sidewalls, wherein the door is rotatably between open and closed positions, wherein the door comprises a door surface with a recess formed therein, wherein the recess comprises a recess surface and a recess sidewall, wherein the recess sidewall extends between the recess surface and the door surface, and wherein the recess comprises a recess aperture; wherein the tab extends through the recess aperture when the door is in the closed position.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 further comprising the lock, the lock comprising a lock housing and the shackle, wherein the lock housing comprises a lock 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 lock recess.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the lock housing is cylindrically shaped in general, wherein the lock housing comprises a cylindrically shaped sidewall extending between substantially flat top and bottom surfaces, wherein the lock recess is formed in the bottom surface.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the recess sidewall comprises an arcuate portion.

14. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, and wherein the cylindrically shaped sidewall of the lock housing engages the arcuate shaped portion of the recess sidewall.

15. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the tab is received in the recess of the lock housing, and wherein the cylindrically shaped sidewall of the lock housing is positioned adjacent the arcuate shaped portion of the recess sidewall.

16. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the cylindrically shaped sidewall of the lock housing is separated from the arcuate shaped portion of the recess sidewall by less than one inch.

17. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the recess surface engages the bottom surface of the lock housing.

18. 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.

19. 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 sidewalls, wherein the door is rotatably between open and closed positions; means for locking the door to the end wall when the door is in the closed position.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

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

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 couples doors 108a and 108b to sidewalls 106a and 106b, respectively. FIG. 2 is a top view of the storage container shown in FIG. 1. FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the locking mechanism 102 taken along line AA shown in 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 (now shown). FIG. 4a is a front view of tab 112 integrally formed on a first plate 126. Plate 126 is fixedly mounted to door 108a. FIG. 4b is a side view of the tab 112, 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 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 (not shown) of a pad lock can be inserted into tab aperture 114. With the shackle inserted into tab aperture 114, doors 108a and 108b are restrained to 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 internal locking mechanism. The storage container with internal locking mechanism 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 second door includes a door surface with a recess formed therein. The recess includes a recess surface and a recess sidewall. The recess sidewall extends between the recess surface and the door surface. A recess aperture is formed through the recess surface. The internal locking mechanism further includes a tab fixedly mounted directly or indirectly to the first door. The 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 tab extends through the recess aperture when the first and second doors are in the closed position.

[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 recess 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 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 shows a front view of the doors shown in FIG. 5a;

[0018] FIG. 8 is a top view of one of the door shown in FIG. 7;

[0019] FIG. 9 is a front view of the other door shown in FIG. 7;

[0020] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the recess in the door shown in FIG. 9;

[0021] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the recess in the door shown in FIG. 9;

[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] FIGS. 16a and 16b illustrate front and a perspective views of the lock mechanism shown in FIGS. 10 and 11 with the lock operatively positioned therein.

[0027] 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

[0028] FIG. 5a is a perspective view of a storage container 200 having locking mechanism 202. Storage container 200 includes a base 204, sidewalls 206a and 206b, roof 208, and doors 210a and 210b. Storage container 200 further includes an end wall (not shown). Hinges 212 rotatably mount doors 210a and 210b to sidewalls 206a and 206b, respectively. Doors 210a and 210b are rotatable between opened and closed positions. FIG. 5a shows doors 210a and 210b in the closed position.

[0029] FIG. 5b shows the storage container 200 of FIG. 5a with door 210a replaced by end section 214. End section 214 is fixedly connected to base 204, sidewall 206a, and roof 208.

[0030] FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the storage container 200 shown in FIG. 5a. With reference to FIG. 7, storage container 200 is provided with locking mechanism 202 which includes a recess 216 formed in door 210b and a tab 218 fixedly mounted to door 210a. FIG. 7 shows a front view of tab 218 fixedly mounted to door 210a. FIG. 8 is a top view of tab 218 fixedly mounted door 210a. 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.

[0031] With continued reference to FIGS. 7 and 8, tab 218 may include a tab aperture 220 having a centerline extending orthogonal to the planes in which base 204 and roof 208 are respectively contained. Thus, tab aperture 218 extends in the vertical direction. Tab aperture 220 is configured to receive a shackle (not shown in FIGS. 6-8) of a lock (not shown in FIGS. 6-8).

[0032] Tab 218 is fixedly mounted to door 210a via mounting arm 222. For purposes of definition, two components can be mounted together either directly or indirectly via one or more intermediate components. FIG. 8 shows tab 218 indirectly mounted to door 210a via mounting arm 222. Mounting arm 222 or tab 218 may be formed from high strength steel. Tab 218 may be integrally formed with mounting arm 222. Alternatively, tab 218 may be welded to arm 222. Mounting arm 222 may be welded to door 210a using well known welding techniques.

[0033] FIG. 9 is a front view of door 210b showing recess 216 formed therein. Recess 216, in one embodiment, includes a recess aperture 224 through which tab 218 extends when doors 210a and 210b are in their closed positions. FIGS. 10 and 11 illustrate perspective views of recess 216 with tab 218 extending through aperture 224. As seen in FIGS. 10 and 11, recess 216 includes a recess surface 226 through which recess aperture 224 extends. Recess 216 also includes a recess sidewall 228 extending between recess surface 226 and surface 230 of door 210b. Recess sidewall 228 includes an arcuate portion 232 extending between a pair of linear portions 234a and 234b. A third linear portion 234a extends between linear portions 234a and 234b. As will be more fully described below, arcuate portion 232 is shaped similar to a lock housing (not shown in FIGS. 10 and 11).

[0034] Recess 216 can be formed in door 210b by first cutting an aperture therethrough. This aperture would be shaped similarly to the sidewalls of recess 216 described above. Thereafter a structure defined by recess sidewall 228 extending from recess surface 226 could be aligned to the aperture formed in door 210b and fixedly attached thereto. The structure could be attached by welding the top edge of sidewall 228 to the backside of door 210b. The structure defined by sidewall 228 and surface 226 may be integrally formed together or, alternatively, welded together. In one embodiment, sidewall 228 and surface 226 are formed from high strength steel.

[0035] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a lock 236 that can be used in connection with the locking mechanism 202 shown in FIG. 7. The American Lock Series 2000 model produced by American Lock, Inc. of Crete Ill., is an example of lock 236. FIG. 13 is a side view of lock 236 shown in FIG. 12. FIG. 14 is a back view of the lock 236 shown in FIG. 12. With reference to FIGS. 12-14, lock 236 includes a lock housing 238. With reference to FIGS. 12 and 14, a recess 240 is formed in the back surface 242 of lock housing 238. Lock 236 includes a shackle 244 coupled to a key mechanism 246.

[0036] Shackle 244 is moveable within recess 240. More particularly, using a key (not shown in FIGS. 12-14) key mechanism 246 can be partially removed from housing 238. FIG. 15 shows the lock 236 of FIG. 14 with key mechanism 246 partially removed. With key mechanism 246 partially removed from housing 238, lock 236 is said to be “unlocked.” As can be seen FIG. 15, partially removing key mechanism 246 moves shackle 244 out of recess 240. With lock 236 unlocked as shown in FIG. 15, lock 236 can be inserted into recess 216 (see FIGS. 10 and 11), and tab 218 can be inserted into recess 240 of lock 236. FIGS. 16a and 16b shows the lock mechanism of FIGS. 10 and II with lock 236 inserted into recess 216. Although not shown, tab 218 is inserted into recess 230 of lock 236. In this position, key mechanism 246 can be reinserted fully into the housing 238. Reinserting key mechanism 246 into housing 238 causes shackle 244 to be inserted into tab aperture 220. It is further noted that the diameter of tab aperture 220 should be slightly greater than the cross-sectional diameter of shackle 244 so that shackle 244 fits snugly in tab aperture 220.

[0037] FIGS. 16a and 16b show that the arcuate sidewall portion 232 of recess 216 is positioned adjacent the sidewall 248 of lock 236 to create a small gap therebetween. It is noted that with tab 218 inserted into recess 240 and shackle 244 inserted into aperture 220, the back surface 242 of lock 236 engages or is positioned very close to recess surface 226 of recess 216. With lock 236 in this position, shackle 244 is inaccessible to bolt cutters or other tools for cutting. It is noted that with tab 218 inserted into recess 240 and shackle 244 inserted into aperture 220, key mechanism 246 is accessible.

[0038] 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.