Title:
Horizontal ground-based bagging system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pair of posts with double stake bottoms are staked into penetrable ground with one stake on each post through a bottom edge of an opening in a flexible bag. Adjustable pressure clasps slide on the posts to a desired height to secure the top of the opening, enabling any size bag to be used. A flat flexible mat with a beveled edge covers the bottom edge of the opening allowing material to pass smoothly from the ground into the bag. Ground mount stands receive the double stakes and provide a wide base plate to support the posts on impenetrable ground surfaces. A mesh bag allows the use of a blower to fill the bag without ballooning. Grommets around the opening of the mesh bag can receive the stakes therethrough.



Inventors:
Green, Brian J. (Denver, CO, US)
Application Number:
09/772771
Publication Date:
08/01/2002
Filing Date:
01/29/2001
Assignee:
GREEN BRIAN J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
248/99
International Classes:
B65B67/12; (IPC1-7): B65B67/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
RAMIREZ, RAMON O
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Donald W. Meeker (San Francisco, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A system for holding open a flexible bag having an opening in one end and for maintaining a portion of the opening of the flexible bag flat against an external ground surface for moving a loose material directly from the external ground surface into the flexible bag, the system comprising: a pair of rigid posts capable of being spaced apart and each having a means for securely supporting each of the rigid posts on an external ground surface combined with a means for engaging and maintaining a bottom portion of the opening end of the flexible bag flat against the external ground surface, and a means for engaging and maintaining a top portion of the opening end of the flexible bag above and away from the bottom portion so that the opening end of the flexible bag is maintained in an open position; a means for forming a transition surface over the opening end of the flexible bag to enable the loose material to be moved directly from the external ground surface to an interior of the flexible bag.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein the means for securely supporting each of the posts on the external ground surface combined with a means for engaging and maintaining a bottom portion of the opening end of the flexible bag flat against the external ground surface comprises a double stake element having two sharp rigid stakes attached to a bottom of the post, the rigid stakes positioned apart and pointing downwardly, the two stakes being interconnected by a rigid cross member having a flat surface upwardly oriented for receiving pressure to force the stakes into a penetrable external ground surface with one of the stakes engaged through the flexible bag.

3. The system of claim 2 wherein the double stake element is formed of molded plastic.

4. The system of claim 2 wherein each of the rigid posts is formed of molded plastic.

5. The system of claim 2 wherein each of the rigid posts is formed of extruded plastic.

6. The system of claim 2 further comprising a ground mount stand having a top opening for receiving and retaining the double stake element therein, the ground mount stand having a bottom flat surface for resting on an impenetrable external ground surface.

7. The system of claim 6 wherein the ground mount stand further comprises a flat base plate extending outwardly from the ground mount stand on at least one side of the ground mount stand, the flat base plate being capable of resting securely on the impenetrable external surface and thereby being capable of maintaining the pole in an upright position.

8. The system of claim 7 wherein each of the ground mount stand is formed of molded plastic.

9. The system of claim 1 wherein the means for holding open the opening end of the flexible bag comprises an adjustable clasp means for each of the pair of rigid posts, each of the clasp means being capable of attaching to one of the rigid posts at any desired point along its length and capable of engaging and maintaining a top portion of the opening end of the flexible bag above and away from the bottom portion of the opening so that the flexible bag is maintained horizontally in an open position.

10. The system of claim 9 wherein each of the clasp means has a first removable pressure loaded clasp for engaging the open end of the flexible bag and a second removable pressure loaded clasp for engaging one of the rigid posts at any desired position along its length to enable the system to hold open any of a variety of bags of different sizes.

11. The system of claim 1 wherein the means for forming a transition surface over the opening end of the flexible bag comprises a flat flexible mat capable of covering at least a portion of the bottom portion of the opening end, the mat having at least one beveled edge capable of resting on the ground and creating a smooth transition over the flexible mat between the ground and an interior of the bag.

12. The system of claim 1 wherein the flexible bag is provided with a porous surface so that loose material can be blown into the flexible bag.

13. The system of claim 12 wherein the flexible bag is a mesh bag of sturdy air permeable material.

14. The system of claim 13 wherein the mesh bag is provided with grommets having openings therethrough in the mesh bag positioned adjacent to the opening of the mesh bag and wherein the means for securely supporting each of the posts on the external ground surface combined with a means for engaging and maintaining a bottom portion of the opening end of the flexible bag flat against the external ground surface comprises a double stake element having two sharp rigid stakes attached to a bottom of the post, the rigid stakes positioned apart and pointing downwardly, the two stakes being interconnected by a rigid cross member having a flat surface upwardly oriented for receiving pressure to force the stakes into a penetrable external ground surface, and wherein each of the grommets is capable of receiving one of the stakes pressed therethrough and into the penetrable external ground surface.

15. The system of claim 13 wherein all of the components of the system are capable of being disassembled and rolled up inside the mesh bag for transportation and storage.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to apparatus for collecting refuse or other loose material in bags and in particular to an adjustable support system for holding open the mouth of any size bag on any penetrable or non-penetrable surface in a horizontal orientation at ground level and eliminating any horizontal movement of the open sides of the bag for sweeping, raking, shoveling or otherwise moving refuse, such as leaves, dirt, and trash, or other materials into the bag.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] In collecting refuse, such as leaves, dirt, trash, and any other material in a flexible bag, such as a plastic or fabric bag, for the purpose of removing the refuse or moving other material, there is a problem of how to get the material into the flexible bag in the easiest and most efficient manner. The problem is particularly pronounced if only one person is involved in the operation and that single person has to hold the bag open and try to put the material into the bag at the same time. And the problem is further exacerbated if a person is trying to sweep, rake, shovel, or otherwise move the material along the ground horizontally and directly into the bag.

[0005] Because the flexible bag is resilient it does not stay open by itself or lay flat by itself. Furthermore, the flexible bag edge is easily moved or lifted off the ground by a broom, rake, shovel, hand, or other means used to move the material into the bag, thereby causing some of the material to miss going into the bag or possibly damaging the bag with the tool.

[0006] Prior art devices for holding open flexible bags have included frame means to hold the flexible bag open in a vertical orientation, which is not helpful in trying to rake, sweep, shovel, or otherwise move leaves, dirt, or other refuse or loose material from the ground or floor directly into the bag. A vertical bag holding apparatus requires lifting the material into the bag after sweeping or raking or otherwise moving the material along the ground or floor to a position adjacent to the bag. A more desirable system would enable sweeping or raking or otherwise moving the material directly into the flexible bag.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,806,815, issued Sep. 18, 1998 to Knutson, provides two tall stakes to be inserted in the ground and each having a protruding bottom protruding flange to rest on the edge of the trash bag to hold down the bottom of the trash bag opening and an upper retainer tab supporting an upper edge of the trash bag opening, thereby using tension to hold the trash bag open vertically in a rectangular configuration, with the trash bag resting horizontally on the ground. Because the right angle lower arm of the devise only rests on top of the inside edge of the bottom of the open bag, the bottom edge of the bag will slide horizontally along the ground when a rake drags along it, the bag becoming unsecured from the devise and also allowing debris to get pushed under the lower open edge of the bag. The devise has three or more parts all separate, very complicated and time consuming to screw each piece together and not very economical to manufacture. The clips do not grab onto the bag like fingers, and are not very secure. The slidable movement of the clips along the support poles is limited because of the screw-together pieces of the supports; it only slides so far, not the entire length of the support. The devise can only be used on a penetrable surface such as a lawn. There is no secure means for grasping and retaining the edge of the bag or means to hold down the bottom edge of the bag opening while moving material into the bag.

[0008] U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,318,521 and 4,805,858 both provide complete frames to support the opening in the trash bag with the bag resting horizontally on the ground, and both have a spike built into each side of the frame for insertion in the ground to support the frame in an upright position. Neither provides support outside of the plane of the frame and therefore would be somewhat unstable with a tendency to fall forward or backward, especially if the ground were soft. Both have a bottom frame portion which would be an impediment to raking or sweeping material directly into the trash bag.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 4,759,519, issued Jul. 26, 1988 to Cheng, calls for a rectangular frame with a handle and clip elements to hold open the trash bag opening in a vertical position with the trash bag lying horizontally on the ground. Small cross members on the bottom of the frame help to maintain the frame in a vertical orientation. The bottom frame portion would be an impediment to raking or sweeping material directly into the trash bag.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 5,308,027, issued May 3, 1994 to Fullilove, indicates a frame with partial sleeve elements to secure the trash bag opening to the frame. A bottom two-sided ramp screwed to the bottom of the frame maintains the frame in a vertical orientation and covers the bottom of the frame to assist in raking, sweeping, or otherwise moving material along the ground and into the trash bag. There is a crack running between the two sloping ramps and the edge of the ramps are not beveled so that fine material being moved into the bag might be caught at the edge or in the crack.

[0011] None of the prior art patents provide a double stake system on each side post for staking the edge into the ground with one of the stakes, nor do they have a connecting member between stakes for stepping on to force the stakes into the ground. None of the prior art devices provides a movable thin rubber mat with beveled edges for covering the bottom edge of the trash bag opening between posts and creating a smooth transition between the ground and the bag interior for moving material directly from the ground into the bag. None of the prior art devices provide a strong clamp means for holding the trash bag open.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0012] A primary object of the present invention is to provide a support system for holding open a flexible bag in a horizontal orientation, which system securely engages the edges of the bag opening to retain the bag in the open position while filling the bag by raking, sweeping, or otherwise moving loose material from the ground directly into the bag. Utilizing a rigid post at each end of the bag opening, each post with two spaced apart stakes at the bottom with one of each stake through the bag and into the ground secures the bottom edge of the bag against the ground. Using two stakes at the bottom of each post, one to secure the post upright the other to secure the bottom edge of the bag below grade, creates a stable support system for holding the bag open and eliminates horizontal movement of the lower open edge of the bag. Utilizing a pressure-loaded clasp vertically positionable on each post firmly engages the post and top edge or side edge of the bag opening adjacent to the top edge to maintain the bag in an open position.

[0013] A corollary object of the present invention is to provide a means for easily inserting each double stake into the ground by providing a horizontal cross member between the pointed stakes for stepping down on the cross member to force the two points of the stakes into the ground below grade.

[0014] A related object of the present invention is to provide a system which can utilize any size bag by having movable posts with clasps that can be positioned anywhere along the entire length of the posts to engage and maintain the edge of any size bag.

[0015] A contributory object of the present invention is to provide an unobstructed transition surface for the loose material to enter the bag by utilizing a beveled edge mat over the bottom edge of the bag opening between the interior of the bag and the external ground surface. The mat eliminates horizontal movement of the bottom edge of the bag and eliminates material from being forced under the bag and eliminates the material and material moving apparatus (rake, broom, or other means) from getting snagged on the bottom edge of the open side of the bag.

[0016] Another object of the present invention is to provide a support structure that can be used on any surface whether penetrable like a lawn or non-penetrable like a concrete floor by providing a ground mount stand with a top opening to receive and retain one of the double stake posts to hold the post in a vertical position and a broad flat bottom surface extending away from the ground mount stand to maintain the post in a stable upright position on impenetrable surfaces.

[0017] One more object of the present invention is to provide a horizontal bag support system which is simple to use by having step-on double stakes and double pressure release clasps which slide easily on the posts to the desired level and easily open and close to engage the edge of the bag opening and retain it.

[0018] An additional object of the present invention is to provide a horizontal bag support system which is cost effective to produce, wherein the posts and stake elements can be extruded or injection molded of plastic or aluminum.

[0019] A further object of the present invention is to provide a horizontal support system for bags that permits the use of a blower to move the material (such as leaves) into the bag by providing a mesh bag or other bag admissible to the passage of air therethrough so that the blower blows the material into the bag without over inflating the bag.

[0020] Still another object of the present invention is to provide a support system for bags with components that are easily assembled and disassembled and that can be rolled up into a compact configuration for transporting and storage.

[0021] In brief, the present invention comprises a support system for holding open the mouth of any size bag. It enables the user to sweep, rake, shovel or otherwise move debris along the ground horizontally into a bag. The support system securely holds the mouth of the bag open at a level, which is even with grade of the ground on any non-penetrable surface such as a concrete floor, or on any penetrable surface such as grass or dirt.

[0022] The support system encompasses two identical posts with two vertically positional pressure loaded double mouth pressure squeeze open/close clasps and two double spiked push stakes along with two ground mount post stands, a mesh bag with a draw string and grommets with the bag material being puncture resistant and lastly a beveled edge ground mat. The two posts stand vertically perpendicular to the ground. The two double pointed stakes are permanently secured or molded as part of the bottom of the post and have a horizontal cross member between the two stake points, which allows someone to stand on the cross member with one foot thereby easily applying pressure downwardly on to the two pointed ends of the stakes simultaneously forcing both stakes to penetrate the grade of the ground surface. One of the stakes acts to support the post and hold it perpendicular to the ground being staked, the other stake forces the lower edge of the mouth of the bag below grade applying downward vertical pressure to the bottom open inside edge of the bag thereby eliminating any horizontal movement of the open side bottom edge of the bag.

[0023] When the ground surface is impenetrable, such as concrete or wood or other hard material, the double stake ends fit securely into two ground mount stands, which support the posts perpendicular to the ground. The two ground stands have a flat bottom lower side, which rests level on the ground surface. The sides of the ground stands rise vertically upward from the ground in a shape which accepts the shape of the double pointed stakes and supports the stakes perpendicular with the ground thereby supporting the posts vertically skyward on an impenetrable ground surface.

[0024] A mat with beveled edges is used in cooperation with the two pointed stakes to secure the bottom open edge of the bag. The beveled edges of the mat and the mats top surface area provide a smooth transition surface for moving debris horizontally from the ground over the surface of the mat and into the open mouth of the bag. The mat is placed on top of the lower open edge of the bag between the two vertically supported posts. The mat acts to keep debris and debris moving apparatus such as a rake or broom from becoming snagged on the bottom open edge of the bag when being moved horizontally along the ground into the open bag. The weight of the mat secures the bottom open edge of the bag, located between the two posts, to the ground and also eliminates horizontal movement of the open bottom edge of the bag and also prevents debris from being forced under the bottom open edge of the bag. When the mat is used in conjunction with the ground support stands, part of the bottom flat surface of the stand rests under the side edges of the mat allowing the posts to be placed into the stands upward from the side edges of the mat.

[0025] A double open/close mouth clasp is attached to each post. The clasps remain closed via pressure forcing them closed. Reverse pressure opens one mouth of the clasp and it is fastened to clasp around the post. The opposing open/close mouth clasp is forced open by reverse pressure and fastened to close and clasp onto the inside and outside edge of the open mouth of the bag. The clasp can be fastened anywhere along the entire length of the post enabling precise placement of the opposing clasp to grab onto the top or side edges of the bag and hold it open much like a persons opposing thumb and finger would clasp the inside and outside of the bag. While the devise will hold any size bag open, a mesh bag may be used with the devise. The mesh bag would be made of moisture, mold and puncture resistant material. The open mouth of the bag could have a drawstring threaded around its circumference for securing the bag closed. Furthermore the mesh bag could have grommets around the circumference of the open mouth of the bag. The grommets allow one of the pointed stakes of each of the double stakes to penetrate through the grommet on the lower open side of the bag thereby allowing it to be secured and penetrate below grade to eliminate horizontal movement of the bottom open edge of the mesh bag.

[0026] An advantage of the present invention is that it provides a stable support system for maintaining a secure opening in a horizontally oriented bag allowing it to be filled easily directly from the ground.

[0027] Another advantage of the present invention is that it can be used with any size flexible bag.

[0028] Yet another advantage of the present invention is that it can be used effectively on both soft penetrable surfaces like grass and soil and on hard impenetrable surfaces like cement and wood.

[0029] An additional advantage of the present invention is that it can be used with a blower to blow material into the bag.

[0030] On more advantage of the present invention is that it is easy and fast to assemble and disassemble.

[0031] Still one more advantage of the present invention is that it is easy and inexpensive to manufacture.

[0032] A further advantage of the present invention is that the components can be rolled up into a compact configuration for transportation and storage.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0033] These and other details of my invention will be described in connection with the accompanying drawings, which are furnished only by way of illustration and not in limitation of the invention, and in which drawings:

[0034] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the invention assembled for use on a penetrable surface;

[0035] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the invention assembled for use on an impenetrable surface;

[0036] FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the components of the invention aligned for assembly;

[0037] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the components of the invention rolled up in a compact configuration for transporting and storage.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

[0038] FIGS. 1-4 show a system 20 for holding open a flexible bag 34, having an opening 40 in one end, and for maintaining a portion of the opening of the flexible bag, the bottom edge 32, flat against an external ground surface for moving a loose material, such as leaves (shown dashed) directly from the external ground surface into the flexible bag.

[0039] A pair of rigid posts 21 are capable of being spaced apart the width of the bag opening 40. Each of the posts has a means for securely supporting each of the rigid posts on an external ground surface combined with a means for engaging and maintaining a bottom edge 32 portion of the opening end of the flexible bag flat 34 against the external ground surface, comprising a double stake element 23 having two sharp rigid stakes 24 rigidly attached to a bottom of the post 21 or molded as a part of the post. The double stake element 23 can be formed of molded plastic and rigidly attached by an adhesive or other means to a rigid post 21 of extruded or molded plastic. The rigid stakes 24 are positioned apart and point downwardly. The two stakes 24 are interconnected by a rigid cross member 22 having a flat surface upwardly oriented for receiving pressure by a foot of the user to force the stakes into a penetrable external ground surface with one of the stakes engaged through the flexible bag, as through a grommet 33 adjacent to a bottom edge 32 of the bag, as seen in FIG. 1, or just by puncturing through a plastic bag.

[0040] Each post further comprises an adjustable double clasp 25 as a means for engaging and maintaining a top edge 42 portion of the opening 40 end of the flexible bag above and away from the bottom edge 32 portion so that the opening 40 end of the flexible bag is maintained in an open position. The adjustable double clasp 25 has a first removable pressure loaded clasp 26 for engaging the open end of the flexible bag and a second removable pressure loaded clasp 27 for engaging one of the rigid posts 21 at any desired position along its length to enable the system to hold open any of a variety of bags 34 of different sizes, maintaining a top edge 42 portion of the opening 40 end of the flexible bag above and away from the bottom edge 32 portion of the opening 40 so that the flexible bag 34 is maintained horizontally in an open position.

[0041] The system 20 further comprises a flat flexible mat 30, preferably formed of a rubber-like material, with at least one beveled edge 31 means for forming a transition surface over the bottom edge 32 of the opening 40 end of the flexible bag 34 to enable the loose material to be moved directly from the external ground surface to an interior of the flexible bag through the opening 40. The cross member 22 of the double stake element 23 can rest on the sides of the mat 30 to assist in holding the mat in place.

[0042] In FIGS. 2 and 3, the system 20 further comprising a ground mount stand 35 for use on external impenetrable surfaces, such as concrete or wood. The ground mount stand 35 has a top opening 45 for receiving and retaining the double stake element 23 therein with the edge of the cross member 22 resting on a ridge 37 formed on the interior of the opening 45 and on a notch 39 in the opposite side of the opening 45 with one stake 24 inside and the other outside the ground mount stand 35. The ground mount stand 35 has a bottom flat surface for resting on an impenetrable external ground surface, which is preferably a flat base plate 36 extending outwardly from the stake receptacle on at least one side of the ground mount stand 35. The flat base plate 36 is capable of resting securely on the impenetrable external surface and thereby maintaining the pole in an upright position while resting on the bottom edge 32 of the bag opening 40 to hold it down against the impenetrable ground surface. The ground mount stand 35 is provided with a notch 38 to receive the mat 30 therein, is in FIG. 2, to assist in holding the mat in place. The ground mount stand 35 can be formed of molded plastic.

[0043] While the system 20 may be used with any size or type of flexible bag, such as plastic trash bags, the system is preferably provided with a mesh bag 34 formed of a woven material 39 which is sturdy, mold resistant and air permeable. The porous surface allows the loose material to be blown into the flexible bag by a blower 60 without causing the bag to fill with air and balloon out, or the material may be raked in with a rake 50, as in FIG. 1 or swept in with a broom 70, as in FIG. 2 or otherwise moved in directly from the ground.

[0044] The mesh bag 34 is provided with grommets 33 having openings therethrough in the mesh bag positioned adjacent to the opening 40 of the mesh bag 34 so that any of the grommets can receive one of the stakes 24 pressed therethrough and into the penetrable external ground surface with the other of the stakes 24 penetrating directly into the ground, as in FIG. 1 creating great stability of the posts 21 in the loading direction making it difficult to jar them or knock them over as well as firmly securing the bottom edge 32 of the bag opening 40. The posts 21 may be positioned apart a sufficient distance to create tension in the bottom edge 32 of the bag and the clasps 25 may be positioned to create tension in the top edge 42 and side edges 41 and 43 of the bag opening 40, so that the bag is held securely by the support structure 20 to prevent displacement during loading and presenting a full opening for easier loading.

[0045] As seen in FIG. 3 the components are easily assembled for use and disassembled and rolled up inside the mesh bag 34 for transportation and storage, as seen in FIG. 4, with the base plates 36 of the ground mount stand enclosing the ends of the roll and all of the other components rolled up inside.

[0046] It is understood that the preceding description is given merely by way of illustration and not in limitation of the invention and that various modifications may be made thereto without departing from the spirit of the invention as claimed.