Title:
V-shaped nestable tray rack
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Rack or frame may be substantially V-shaped. The substantially V-shaped configuration enhances the strength and nestability of the rack. The rack may be an oven rack with a lifting element suited for being lifted by oven rack lifting equipment. Rack may accommodate one or more objects, such as trays, per level. Nested racks greatly reduce storage space requirements.



Inventors:
Hall, Donald M. (Sinai, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/183565
Publication Date:
11/07/2002
Filing Date:
06/28/2002
Assignee:
HALL DONALD M.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/126.1
International Classes:
A47B47/02; A47F5/13; (IPC1-7): A47F3/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JOHNSON, BLAIR M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SHLESINGER, ARKWRIGHT & GARVEY LLP (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A rack, comprising: a) a left upright frame; b) a right upright frame spaced from said left frame; c) a connector extending between and connecting the left upright frame and the right upright frame; d) a left connector element extending from a front portion of the left upright frame to the connector; e) a right connector element extending from a front portion of the right upright frame to the connector; and f) the connector, the left connector element, and the right connector element defining a V-shaped structural member.

2. A rack as defined in claim 1, wherein: a) the left connector element extends at an acute angle relative to said left upright frame.

3. A rack as defined in claim 2, wherein: a) the right connector element extends at an acute angle relative to said right upright frame.

4. A rack as defined in claim 3, wherein: a) the left connector element extends at an angle less than about 60° relative to the left upright frame.

5. A rack as defined in claim 4, wherein: a) the left connector element extends at an angle of about 30° relative to the left upright frame.

6. A rack as defined in claim 5, wherein: a) the left connector element extends at an angle less than about 30° relative to the left upright frame.

7. A rack as defined in claim 5, wherein: a) the right connector element extends at an angle of about 30° relative to the right upright frame.

8. A rack as defined in claim 7, wherein: a) a lifting element configured for being lifted by a lifting device is provided.

9. A rack as defined in claim 8, wherein: a) the lifting element is provided on an upper portion of the rack.

10. A rack as defined in claim 9, wherein: a) the lifting element includes a leg extending transversely to the left frame.

11. A rack as defined in claim 10, wherein: a) the leg extends substantially parallel to the left frame.

12. A rack as defined in claim 11, wherein: a) the lifting element includes a C-channel, and the leg is a portion of the C-channel.

13. A rack as defined in claim 10, wherein: a) the lifting element includes an S-channel, and the leg is a portion of the S-channel.

14. A rack as defined in claim 10, wherein: a) the lifting element includes an inverted L-channel, and the leg is a portion of the inverted L-channel.

15. A rack as defined in claim 1, wherein: a) the left and right upright frames and the left and right connector elements define a mouth; and b) the mouth is configured for nesting with at least one rack of the type having a connector and left and right frames and left and right connector elements defining a V-shaped structure.

16. A rack as defined in claim 15, wherein: a) the mouth is configured for nesting with at least two racks of the type having a connector and left and right frames and left and right connector elements defining a V-shaped structure.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the priority of application No. 60/301,646, filed Jun. 28, 2001, and this application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 08/847,483, filed Apr. 25, 1997, and each of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The invention relates to racks. More particularly, this invention relates to a rack suited for holding and supporting objects, such as trays. Even more particularly, the invention relates to oven racks suited for holding trays, and configured for being lifted by oven rack lifting equipment.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Racks are known.

[0004] Known racks and frames are disclosed in, for example, the following patents:

[0005] U.S. Pat. No. 5,330,064 to Hall;

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 3,912,086 to de Bruyn;

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,330,060 to Bohner:

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 5,123,550 to Nodskov et al.;

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 5,016,765 to Leonardo; and

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 4,349,213 to Hirsch

[0011] Other patents to the inventor Donald M. Hall include:

[0012] U.S. Pat. No. 5,386,787 to Hall;

[0013] U.S. Pat. No. 5,456,191 to Hall;

[0014] U.S. Pat. No. 5,471,922 to Hall;

[0015] U.S. Pat. No. 5,483,782 to Hall;

[0016] U.S. Pat. No. 5,503,087 to Hall;

[0017] U.S. Pat. No. 5,628,522 to Hall;

[0018] U.S. Pat. No. 5,957,309 to Hall;

[0019] U.S. Pat. No. 6,062,401 to Hall; and

[0020] U.S. Pat. No. 6,149,120 to Hall

[0021] Each of the Donald M. Hall patents is incorporated herein by reference.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0022] It is an object of the invention to provide a rack which is versatile.

[0023] It is another object of the invention to provide a rack which is nestable in a variety of configurations.

[0024] A further object is to provide a strong, nestable rack.

[0025] A further object is to provide a liftable, nestable rack.

[0026] In summary, the invention includes a support frame or rack which is nestable with other racks of the same type, and which has a V-shaped configuration.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0027] The above and another objects and advantages and novel features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention, illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0028] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a single frame oven rack according to the invention;

[0029] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of two, single frame racks disposed side by side;

[0030] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of two, side by side racks according to the invention, such as shown in FIG. 2, with a third rack of the same type before nesting, the third rack facing in the direction of nesting with the two other racks;

[0031] FIG. 4 is a perspective view, similar to FIG. 3, showing the third rack as it is being nested, closer to the two side by side racks of FIG. 3 than in the view of FIG. 3 as the third rack is being nested;

[0032] FIG. 5 is perspective view similar to FIG. 4 as the third rack is being even further nested than is shown in the view of FIG. 4;

[0033] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the three racks of FIG. 5 in a fully nested position;

[0034] FIG. 7 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 5 with the third rack shown in phantom line for clarity;

[0035] FIG. 8 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 6 with the third rack shown in phantom line for clarity;

[0036] FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the single rack of FIG. 1;

[0037] FIG. 10 is a top plan view of the two, side by side racks of FIG. 2;

[0038] FIG. 11 is a top plan view of the three nested racks of FIG. 6;

[0039] FIG. 12 illustrates a further embodiment of a single rack according to the invention, in which the lifting channels, such as for lifting by conventional oven rack lifting equipment have been bolted onto the remainder of the rack;

[0040] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of yet another embodiment of the invention, in the form of a double depth rack on which twice as many objects, such as trays, can be held;

[0041] FIG. 14 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 13, showing the manner in which objects, such as trays, may be nested on the rack;

[0042] FIG. 15 is a further perspective view of the double deep rack of FIG. 13 showing yet another way in which two objects, such as trays can be nested;

[0043] FIG. 16 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a rack according to the invention;

[0044] FIG. 17 is a top plan view of the rack of FIG. 16;

[0045] FIG. 18 is yet another embodiment of the rack according to the invention;

[0046] FIG. 19 is a top plan view of FIG. 18;

[0047] FIG. 20 is a perspective view of a lifting element according to the invention;

[0048] FIG. 21 is an end view of the lifting element of FIG. 20;

[0049] FIG. 22 is a perspective view of another lifting element according to the invention;

[0050] FIG. 23 is an end view of the lifting element of FIG. 22;

[0051] FIG. 24 is a perspective view of yet another lifting element according to the invention;

[0052] FIG. 25 is an end view of the lifting element of FIG. 24;

[0053] FIG. 26 is a perspective view of another lifting element according to the invention; and

[0054] FIG. 27 is an end view of FIG. 26.

[0055] It will be appreciated that relative terms such as up, down, left, and right are for convenience only and are not intended to be limiting.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0056] Turning to FIGS. 1-11, a rack or frame 10 according to the invention is shown.

[0057] Rack 10 may be a V-shaped rack, the configuration of which enhances the nestability of rack 10 with other rack(s) 10, and which configuration improves the strength and integrity of the overall structure of rack 10.

[0058] Earlier racks include those shown in my earlier U.S. Pat. No. 5,957,309 to Hall and U.S. Pat. No. 5,330,064 to Hall, and each of which has been and is incorporated herein by reference.

[0059] Rack 10 includes a right upright frame or ladder assembly 14 and a left upright frame or ladder assembly 16.

[0060] Wheels or casters 18 may be provided to enhance movability of rack 10.

[0061] Right upright frame 14 may include a rear post 24 and a front post 28.

[0062] An upper structural member 32 may connect rear post 24 and front post 28.

[0063] A lower structural member 36 may attach lower portions of rear post 24 and front post 28.

[0064] An upper connector 42 may be used to connect left upright frame 16 and right upright frame 14. A middle connector 46 and a lower connector 48 may likewise be provided to connect respective middle and lower portions of left and right upright frames 14 and 16.

[0065] An upper V-shaped connector 52 may include a right leg or connector element 54 and a left leg or connector element 58. A lower V-shaped connector 62 may be provided with a right leg or connector element 64 and a left leg or connector element 68.

[0066] It will be appreciated that a middle portion 74 of middle connector 46 may be considered to define a portion of the V-shaped connector 52.

[0067] In the case where rack 10 is to be used as a so-called oven rack of the type used with automatic rack lifting equipment, rack 10 may be provided with a left lifting element 82 and a right lifting element 84. Left and right lifting elements 82, 84 may be configured as L-channels or C-channels for example to mate with the appropriate oven rack lifting equipment. Other shapes of lifting elements are expected to be provided, depending on the type of oven rack lifting equipment used.

[0068] One or both of lifting elements 82, 84 may extend transversely relative to one or both of left frame 16 and right frame 14. Likewise, one or both of lifting elements 82, 84 may extend parallel to or substantially parallel to one or both of left frame 14 and right frame 16.

[0069] The connection between lifting elements 82 and 84 and the remainder of rack 10 may be enhanced by providing additional structural elements, such as the illustrated elements 92 and 94, that may be in the form of rods, plates, tubular members, gussets, other strengthening elements.

[0070] It will be appreciated that all the connections and joints in rack 10 may be secured by one or more of welding, bolting, riveting, and the like.

[0071] Turning to FIG. 12, an upper portion of a further embodiment of a rack 100 according to the invention is shown.

[0072] Rack 100 illustrates the use of bolts or rivets 104 to connect the lifting elements 182 and 184 to rack 100.

[0073] FIG. 12 likewise illustrates the manner in which lifting element 182 may include a top leg 186, and a middle portion 188 connecting top leg 186 to a bottom leg 192. In that manner, lifting element 182 may have a somewhat S-shaped configuration.

[0074] In the case where lifting element 184, for example, should define a C-shaped or C-channel or Z-channel or S-channel or S-shaped configuration, an optional bottom plate 194 may be provided, such as shown disposed in between lifting element 184 and the top of rack 100; (i.e., between top leg 186 and the top of rack 100); or, more specifically, between top leg 186 and a supporting element 196. Optional bottom plate 194 may extend between bottom leg 192 and supporting element 196.

[0075] Turning to FIGS. 13-15, yet another embodiment of a rack 200 according to the invention as shown. Rack 200 is analogous to racks 10 and 100, respectively.

[0076] Rack 200 may likewise have a substantially V-shaped configuration and be suitable for nesting with other racks. Rack 200 may be considered to be a “double depth” rack as it may hold twice as many objects as the racks of FIGS. 1-12, when racks 200 are made on the same scale as racks 10 and are used to carry objects of the same size.

[0077] FIG. 14 shows the use of double depth rack 200 in the situation where the user inserts a tray T1 in the direction of arrow A1 into rack 200 from the rear and onto rails 206 and 208, for example. A second tray T2 may then be inserted from the front of the rack in the direction of arrow A2, likewise resting on and sliding along rails 206 and 208.

[0078] FIG. 15 illustrates the manner in which rack 200 receives and supports trays T1 and T2 on rails 224 and 228, both trays T1 and T2 having been inserted successively in the same direction, as shown by their respective associated arrows A3 and A4.

[0079] The single tray rack of FIGS. 1-12 may be used in an analogous manner with trays being inserted from the front or the rear. In the case of the associated tray having an extent substantially the same as the “footprint” of rack 10, of course, only one tray T1 or T2 would typically be accommodated. In the case where unillustrated trays having a narrower width are used, two or more trays maybe accommodated.

[0080] FIGS. 16 and 17 show another embodiment of a rack 300 according to the invention.

[0081] Rack 300 may be considered a U-shaped rack having a left upright support 328 and a right upright support 332. Upright supports 328 and 332 maybe made of substantially flat elements, such as the illustrated flat bar stock. Flat bar stock maybe, for example, half inch thick stock.

[0082] An upper connector 336 maybe provided to connect a left upright frame 338 and a right upright frame 342.

[0083] A left structural member 344 and a right structural member 345 maybe provided to increase the structural integrity of rack 300. Left and right structural members 344 and 345 may serve as back stops or so called “pan stops” as they may function to prevent a tray or pan inserted into rack 300 (such as shown in the FIG. 15 embodiment) from being pushed out the rear of rack 300.

[0084] Rack 300 maybe termed an end load rack, as it maybe configured for receiving a tray T1 sideways; i.e., a rectangular tray T1 could be oriented so that it is inserted a lengthwise into rack 300. Tray T1 is shown being inserted widthwise in the FIG. 15 embodiment.

[0085] FIGS. 18 and 19 illustrate another rack 400 according to the invention.

[0086] Rack 400 includes an upper left connector element 472, an upper right connector element 474, a lower left connector element 476, and a lower right connector element 478.

[0087] It is contemplated that each of the connector elements 472, 474, 476 and 478 be oriented at various angles relative to one or both of frames 482 and 484, depending on the intended use and the structural requirements.

[0088] FIGS. 20-27 illustrate additional embodiments of lifting elements according to the invention.

[0089] FIGS. 20 and 21 show a lifting element 502 configured as a C-channel.

[0090] FIGS. 22 and 23 show a lifting element 512 configured as an S-channel.

[0091] FIGS. 24 and 25 illustrate a lifting element 522 in the form of an L-channel.

[0092] FIGS. 26 and 27 show a lifting element 532 in the form of an S-channel 512 which cooperates with a plate 536.

[0093] Each of the lifting element embodiments of FIGS. 20-27 may be appreciated by the considering the lifting elements described in connection with the embodiments of FIGS. 1-19.

[0094] It should be noted that in the case of L-channel lifting element 522 one of legs 524 maybe attached to an upper portion of the rack on which is it used or to an outer face of the rack on which it is used. In use, L-channel 522 may be typically use in an inverted position with leg 524 attached to a portion of its associated rack.

[0095] It is expected that the racks according to the invention may be made completely of stainless steel with or without the joints being riveted or welded or bolted, depending on the application.

[0096] It is likewise contemplated that the frame or rack be made of aluminum members, while the lifting elements be made of stainless steel or aluminum or both.

[0097] The wheels or casters may be oven casters, for example.

[0098] One or more of the left and right connector elements may extend at acute angles relative to one or both of the left and right frames. The acute angle may be less than about 60°, about 30°, or less than about 30°.

[0099] One or more of the left and right connector elements maybe attached to a front portion of the respective upright member; or, for example, in the case of lower left end right connector elements maybe connected to a front portion of the rack disposed inwardly of the upright member, such as shown in the front connection of left and right connector elements 476, 478 in FIG. 18.

[0100] Single tray racks such as shown in the embodiments of FIGS. 1-12, may be sized so as to have an 18″×26″ “footprint”.

[0101] While the embodiments shown indicate the use of a rectangular tray inserted sideways, the tray may be inserted in an end load orientation or in a side load orientation. Likewise, round, oval, square, or other configurations of trays may be used.

[0102] Racks may be made of other materials, such as plastic, depending on the intended use.

[0103] The structural elements may be made of one or more of solid stock, hollow stock, hollow stock with a strengthening element therein, and the like.

[0104] While this invention has been described as having a preferred design, it is understood that it is capable of further modifications, and uses and/or adaptations of the invention and following in general the principle of the invention and including such departures from the present disclosure as come within the known or customary practice in the art to which the invention pertains, and as may be applied to the central features hereinbefore set forth, and fall within the scope of the invention or limits of the claims appended hereto.