Title:
Locking device for retractable handle of luggage
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A handle assembly of luggage comprised of a handle grip with a push button, two first sliding tubes, at least one pair of second sliding tubes, two supporting tubes, two first locking devices, each provided below each first sliding tube, at least one pair of second locking devices, each provided below each second sliding tube, a pair of first connecting means attached between the handle grip and the first locking devices, and at least one pair of the second connecting means for controlling the second locking devices. The length of the fully extended handle is expected to be longer than the height of the luggage body so as to provide the user with a luggage handle which can be extended to a sufficient height to meet the user's various towing needs.



Inventors:
Kuo, Chung Hsien (Pan-Chiao City, TW)
Application Number:
09/904489
Publication Date:
01/16/2003
Filing Date:
07/13/2001
Assignee:
Chaw Khong Technology Co., Ltd.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45C13/26; (IPC1-7): A45C13/00; A45C13/30; B65D25/28
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
WILLIAMS, MARK A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WARE, FRESSOLA, MAGUIRE & BARBER LLP (MONROE, CT, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A handle assembly of wheeled luggage provided on a back portion of the luggage, the luggage having: a handle with a handle grip (90) having opposing ends and a push button (91) located between the ends and operable at a first position and a second position; a pair of first sliding tubes (10) connected to the respective ends of the handle grip; a pair of second sliding tubes (40), slidably engaged with the first sliding tubes (10) for allowing the respective first sliding tubes to slide therein; and a pair of supporting tubes (70), slidably engaged with the second tubes (40) for allowing the second tubes to slide therein when the handle is pulled upward to a used position and pushed downward to a stored position, said assembly comprising: a pair of first locking devices (20) operatively connected to the push button (91); and a pair of second locking devices (50), engaged with the respective supporting tubes (70), for securing the second tubes (40) to the respective supporting tubes (70) in a locked position when the handle is operated in the stored position, wherein the second locking devices (50) are operatively connected to the respective first locking devices (20) for allowing the first locking devices (20) to release the respective second locking devices (50) from the locked position when the push button is operated in the first position.

2. The handle assembly of claim 1, wherein each of the supporting tubes (70) has a hole (74) and each of the second locking devices (50) has a locking pin (541) for engaging with the hole (74) in the respective supporting tube when the second locking devices are operated in the locked position, and disengaged from the hole (74) when the second locking devices are released from the locked position.

3. The handle assembly of claim 2, wherein each the second locking devices (50) further comprises a sliding block (55) located adjacent to and operatively engaged with the respective locking pin (541), and wherein the sliding block (55) is connected to the respective first sliding tube (10) by a connecting means (56) for pulling the sliding block away from the respective locking pin (541), thereby causing the locking pin (541) to disengaged from the hole (74) when the handle is pulled upward to the used position.

4. The handle assembly of claim 3, wherein each of the first locking devices has a guiding pin (240) which can be engaged with an aperture (47) on the respective second sliding tube (40) in a securing position to prevent the handle from being pulled upward when the push button is operated in the second position, and wherein the guiding pin (24) is disengaged from the aperture (47) when the push button is operated in the first position.

5. The handle assembly of claim 4, wherein each of the first locking devices is operatively connected to the push button by a further connecting means (22) for disengaging the guiding pins (24) from the respective aperture (47) when the push button is operated in the first position.

6. The handle assembly of claim 5, wherein each of the second sliding tubes (40) further having a further aperture (45) for engaging with the respective guiding pin (240) to secure the first sliding tube (10) to the respective second sliding tube (40) when the handle in operated in the used position.

7. The handle assembly of claim 4, wherein each of the supporting tubes (70) further having a further hole (73) for engaging with the respective locking pin (541) to secure the second sliding tube (40) to the respective supporting tube (70) when the handle is operated in the used position.

8. The handle assembly of claim 3, wherein each of the first locking devices has a guiding pin (240) which can be engaged with an aperture (46) on the respective second sliding tube (40) in a securing position to have the handle used as a carry-on handle and prevent the handle from being further pulled upward when the push button is operated in the second position, and wherein the guiding pin (24) is disengaged from the aperture (46) when the carry-on handle is not used and the push button is operated in the first position.

9. The handle assembly of claim 2, wherein each of the second locking devices (50) further comprises a sliding block (55) located adjacent to and operatively engaged with the respective locking block (54), and wherein the sliding block (55) has a rectangular recess and two V-shaped recesses located on two opposing sides of the rectangular recess, each V-shaped recess having an upper slope and a lower slope, and wherein the locking block (54) has two triangular projections, each triangular projection having a lower slope and an upper slope, which are provided on the two opposing outer surfaces of the locking block (54), for laterally coupling with the upper slope and the lower slope of the V-shaped recesses of the lower portion of the longitudinal sliding block, when the push button is operated in the first and second positions.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] Reference is made to pending application (Attorney Docket No. 890.003.018), entitled LOCKING DEVICE WITH IMPROVED JUMPING MEANS FOR RETRACTABLE HANDLE OF LUGGAGE, assigned to the assignee of this application and filed on even date herewith.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to a retractable handle of luggage and more particularly to a locking device for a retractable handle of luggage.

[0004] 2. Description of Related Art

[0005] Conventionally, a retractable luggage handle uses a single-stroke locking device and is equipped with only one locking device to control the luggage handle's movement. This one locking device is usually installed at the bottom of a single sliding tube and is provided as a medium element between the one sliding tube and a supporting tube. However, it is possible to design the locking device's sliding tube in such a manner that the engagement between the sliding tube and the supporting tube is done through a plurality of retaining slots provided on the supporting tube. As a result, more height options are created for the retractable handle. Conventionally, the length of an extendable luggage handle, which precedes the full height of an upright luggage should be no taller than the height of the luggage case itself. Warsaw Convention also stipulates the permissible maximum dimensions for carry-on luggage. Therefore, the total bulk height of an upright luggage body, plus the extra height spanned by a fully extended luggage handle, should still be shorter than the straight-line distance measured from the draping fingertips of a naturally-posed, standing individual to the ground. This means that the user is often urged to bend his/her back to reach the luggage handle in order to get hold of the luggage. It is obvious that the conventional design is not a handy design for most users.

[0006] Moreover, in order for the user to move his/her luggage in and out of luggage storage areas inside an airplane or an automobile, the user often needs to retract the handle to its lowest position to perform a smooth loading task. Since, in the conventional design, there is only one retraction stroke provided on the locking device of the luggage handle, the lowest position of the handle grip also means the closure of the sliding tube to the supporting tube of the luggage handle. That is to say, no allowance is ever given between the user's handhold position and the luggage body when the user is trying to partially retract the handle and move it to the luggage storage space in a transportation vehicle. Such a luggage handle's on-the-run positioning leads to an unfavorable physical placement of the luggage body, which in turn causes the center line of the luggage handle grip to be tilted away from the center line of the luggage body when the luggage is lifted. In other words, the lower portion of the luggage will come nearer to the user than the top portion thereof. Thus, the unfavorable physical position of a dangling piece of luggage interferes with the user's physical movement.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] It is therefore an objective of the present invention to produce a multi-stroke locking device for the retractable handle of a luggage piece in order to minimize the problems which were encountered in the prior art.

[0008] Another objective of the present invention is to produce a locking device for the retractable handle of a luggage piece, wherein the mechanical structure of the new locking device is generally simplified so as to effect a quick assembly in the manufacturing process.

[0009] It is still another objective of the present invention to produce a locking device for the retractable handle of a luggage piece, wherein the handle grip can be raised a small distance in height from its bezel recess located on top of the luggage and also be locked there so as to be used as a carry-on handle for the luggage for the possibility of tilting when it is lifted. Consequently, such a new design will improve the luggage's balance when the user is attempting to use as a carry-on handle.

[0010] To achieve the above mentioned and other objectives, the present invention embodies a handle system for the luggage which comprises two symmetrically identical portions, each having a handle grip and a push button thereon, a first sliding tube affixed to the end of the handle grip, a first locking device detachably attached to the bottom of the first sliding tube, a second sliding tube with a plurality of holes drilled upon it for allowing the first sliding tube to glide freely therein, a second locking device detachably attached to the bottom of the second sliding tube, a supporting tube with a plurality of holes drilled upon it for allowing the second sliding tube to glide freely therein, and a first connecting means linked between the push button and the first locking device; wherein the second locking device comprises an upper portion, a lower portion, a sliding block longitudinally slidable within the upper portion, a spring laterally biased in the lower portion, a locking block laterally slidable within the lower portion, and a second connecting means having the top end clung to the first locking device and the bottom end clung to the longitudinally allocated sliding block.

[0011] The above and other objectives, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description made in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] FIG. 1 is an exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a locking device for the retractable handle of luggage according to the invention;

[0013] FIGS. 2A and 2B are first and second sectional views showing the retracted positions of the fully retracted handle, respectively;

[0014] FIGS. 3A and 3B are similar to FIGS. 2A and 2B, respectively, where the push button is pressed to cause the handle grip to be pulled up a small distance from the bezel recess located on top of the luggage and be fixedly locked thereat;

[0015] FIGS. 4A and 4B are similar to FIGS. 3A and 3B, respectively, where the push button is again pressed to cause the handle grip to be pulled up again so that the first locking device is locked into the upper hole of the second sliding tube and the second locking device is locked into the lower hole of the supporting tube;

[0016] FIGS. 5A and 5B are similar to FIGS. 4A and 4B, respectively, where the push button is pressed again to cause the handle grip to be further pulled up so that the first locking device is cleared from the upper hole of the second sliding tube, and the second locking device is moved up;

[0017] FIGS. 6A and 6B are similar to FIGS. 5A and 5B, respectively, where the second locking device is locked into the upper hole of the supporting tube so as to pull the second locking device in an extension position, and the first locking device is pull by the steel cable and retracted into the second sliding tube;

[0018] FIGS. 7A and 7B are similar to FIGS. 6A and 6B respectively, where the handle is fully extended and locked; and

[0019] FIGS. 8A and 8B are similar to FIGS. 7A and 7B, respectively, where the first locking device is retracted into the second sliding tube by pressing the push button so that the bottom of the first locking device is engaged with the top of the second locking device, wherein the lock pin of the second locking device is not fully extended such that the second locking device is suppressed by the first locking device to clear the second locking device from the upper hole of the supporting tube.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0020] FIG. 1 shows a multi-stroke locking device for the retractable handle of a luggage piece constructed in accordance with the present invention, wherein the handle system is provided at the back of the luggage with a handle grip retractable to a recess located on top of the luggage.

[0021] Note that since the present handle assembly is bilaterally symmetric, the description on one side of the handle system serves to speak for both the entities. The handle system of the present invention comprises a first sliding tube 10, a first locking device 20, a first sleeve member 30, a second sliding tube 40, a second locking device 50, a second sleeve member 60, and a supporting tube 70. The first sliding tube 10 has a lower hole 13 and an upper hole 12; the upper hole 12 is connected to the receiving opening on one side of the handle grip (not shown) by a known fastener. The first locking device 20 is detachably attached to the bottom of the first sliding tube 10. The second sliding tube 40 is provided to allow the first sliding tube 10 to glide freely therein and contains the top, middle, and lower holes 45, 46, and 47 on a first side, two apertures 42 on the first and third sides, and two pin holes 43 on a second and fourth side. The first sleeve member 30 is fitted to the top of the second sliding tube 40 and has two slightly protruded projections 32 located at the two opposite sides of the sleeve member's 30 outer surface; the two projections 32 are provided to couple with the two apertures 42 of the second sliding tube 40. The second locking device 50 is detachably attached to the bottom of the second sliding tube 40 and is secured to the second sliding tube 40 by a pin 44. The supporting tube 70 is provided to allow the second sliding tube 40 to glide freely therein; the supporting tube 70 contains the top and lower holes 73 and 74 on a first side, two apertures 72 on the first and third sides, and two pin holes 75 symmetrically sited on the first and third sides, while one is below the lower hole 74. The second sleeve member 60 is installed on the top of the supporting tube 70 and has two slightly protruded projections 62 located at the two opposite sides of the sleeve member's 60 outer surface; the two projections 62 are provided to couple with the two apertures 72 on the upper part of the supporting tube 70.

[0022] The first locking device 20 comprises a first housing 21, a first connecting means 22, a helical spring 23, and a first locking block 24. The first housing 21 contains an upper portion 210 and a lower portion 214. The upper portion 210 consists of a longitudinal guide groove 212, a longitudinal retaining groove 211, and a laterally traversed pin hole 213 such that the pin 14 may be inserted through the lower holes 13 of the first sliding tube 10 and the pin hole 213 to secure the first locking device 20 to the first sliding tube 10. The lower portion 214 contains a lateral tunnel cavity 215 and a smoothly curved portion 218 (see FIGS. 2A-7A). The helical spring 23 is laterally provided inside the tunnel opening 215 at the bottom of the first housing 21 to be biased against the first locking block 24 for completing the operation of locking or unlocking it. The first locking block 24 is provided to be inserted into the lateral cavity 215 within the lower part of the first housing 21 and contains a projection 240 on a first side, an aperture 241 on a second side, and an opening 245 which is in communication with the side aperture 241. The first connecting means 22, in the form of a curvilinearly deformable steel cable, has two enlargements provided at the two ends. One end of the enlargements (not shown) is secured to the handle grip 90, and the other end 221 is secured into the hollow opening 245 on the first locking block 24 through a path, which starts from the longitudinal retaining groove 211, the smoothly curved portion 218, the lateral cavity 215, and reaches the hollow opening 245 of the first locking block 24 such that the mere pressing of the push button 91 on the handle grip 90 may actuate the first locking device 20 through the movement of the steel cable 22.

[0023] The second locking device 50 is formed by a second locking housing 50A, which has an upper portion 51 and a lower portion 52. The upper portion 51 contains a longitudinal groove 511 and two laterally traversed pin holes 512 (these two pin holes serve as the two opening mouths of the laterally penetrated pin tunnel) such that the pin 44 may be inserted through the lower hole 43 of the second sliding tube 40 and the pin holes 512 to secure the second locking device 50 and the second sliding tube 40 together. The lower portion 52 consists of a laterally allocated central dent 521, a circular indentation 523 opened at the walled end of the central dent 521, a helical spring 53, a generally cubic shaped locking block 54, a longitudinal sliding block 55, and a second connecting means 56. The helical spring 53 is horizontally placed into the laterally disposed central dent 521 at the lower portion 52 of the second housing 50A and has one end biased against the circular indentation 523 on the walled end of the central dent 521. The generally cubic shaped locking block 54 goes against the helical spring's 53 other end and is horizontally slidable within the central dent 521 at the lower portion 52 of the second locking housing 50A. With one end biased against the helical spring 53, the locking block 54 contains a frontal lock pin 541 and two triangular projections 542 symmetrically provided at the two opposing board sides of the locking block's 54 outer surface. The lock pin 541 is to go into the lower portion 553 of the longitudinal sliding block 55 to facilitate the coupling operation between the two triangular projections 542 and the two V-shaped recesses 555 of the lower portion 553 of the sliding block 55; each of the two triangular projections 542 has a lower slope 5421 and an upper slope 5422.

[0024] The sliding block 55 is longitudinally slidable along the groove 511 of the upper portion 51 of the second locking housing 50A and during sliding, the sliding block 55 glides itself through the mouth of the horizontally disposed central dent 521 of the lower portion 52 of the second locking housing 50A. The sliding block 55 has an upper portion 551 and a lower portion 553. The upper portion 551 has a protruded groove 552 on top and a longitudinal tracking surface below it. The lower portion 553 has a side profile wider than the upper portion 551 and contains a longitudinally deployed rectangular recess 557 and two V-shaped recesses 555. The rectangular recess 557 is provided to communicate with the upper portion 551, and the two V-shaped recesses 555 are located on the two opposite sides of the sliding block's 55 outer surface; each of the two V-shaped recess 555 has an upper slope 554 and a lower slope 556. The second connecting means 56, in the form of a slim rigid metal section, has a top hook end 561 clung to the guide groove 212 of the first housing 21 of the first locking device 20 and a bottom hook end 562 clung to the arch-shaped hook receiver 552 on the upper portion 551 of the sliding block 55.

[0025] The following narrative is a description of the operation procedure for the handle system of the present invention. To provide a proper setting to accommodate the forthcoming discussion, the luggage handle's locking device is initially assumed to be at its dormant retracted position. By making references to the adjoined illustrations FIGS. 2A-8A, the following narrative can be best understood.

[0026] Originally, when the push button 91 is not pressed by the user, the handle 90 is at its recessed position (see FIGS. 2A and 2B). At this stage, the first sliding tube 10 is retracted into the second sliding tube 40 and the second sliding tube 40 is retracted into the supporting tube 70. While the retraction of the first sliding tube 10 into the second sliding tube 40 is accomplished because the projection 240 of the locking block 24 is biased by the spring 23 to engage with the lower hole 47 of the second sliding tube 40, the retraction of the second sliding tube 40 into the supporting tube 70 is achieved because the bottom of the first locking device 20 is biased against the top of the sliding block 55 of the second locking device 50 and thus incurs the first end 5411 of the lock pin 541 of the locking block 54 (see FIG. 2A) to engage with the lower hole 74 of the supporting tube 70. Thus, the luggage handle is locked at its retracted position. However, the engagement of the locking pin 541 to the lower hole 74 of the supporting tube 70, unlike the engagement of the guide pin 240 to the lower hole 47 of the second sliding tube 40, does not mean the handle is fully locked. The reason for this is that, at the initial stage of the locking device, i.e., when neither the first nor the second sliding tube is protracted, the bottom of the first locking device 20 is biased against the top of the longitudinal sliding block 55 of the second locking device 50 and thus pushes it down to descend over the exact mating position which leads to a full locking of the lock pin 541 provided on the locking block 54. Therefore, only the first end 5411 of the lock pin 541 of the locking block 54 is induced to engage with the lower hole 74 of the supporting tube 70.

[0027] When the push button 91 is first pressed down by the user, as shown in FIGS. 3A-3B, the cable 22 is instantly strained to move upward to induce compression force to the spring 23, displace the locking block 24, and withdraw the guide pin 240 from its initial position at the lower hole 47. This is the disengagement action of the projected guide pin 240 on the locking block 24 from the lower hole 47 of the second sliding tube 40. The handle is then pulled up by the user to cause the locking block 24, now disengaged from the hole 47, to begin to move from its original position at the lower hole 47 to a second position at the center hole 46 on the second sliding tube 40 (see FIG. 3A). The first locking device 20 is therefore relocated to a new elevated position. Concurrently, the user's grasp of the handle grip 90 and raising of the first sliding tube 10 causes the lateral locking block 54 to be fully engaged into the lower hole 74 of the supporting tube 70. When the user pulls up the first sliding tube 10, the bottom of the first locking device 20 is separated from the top of the second locking device 50. Since, at this moment, the top of the sliding block 55 is no longer biased by the bottom of the first locking device 20, and the sliding block 55 itself is vertically slidable on the second locking device 50 in the first place, the incurred ascent of the sliding block 55 causes the locking block 54 to be pushed to the further right direction (see the right half of FIG. 1) by the expansion of the horizontally deployed spring 53 and thus induces the lock pin 541 of the locking block 54 to be fully extended. In other words, the bottom face 5412 of the lock pin 541 is fully extended to lock itself in place to the lower hole 74 of the supporting tube 70. In such a manner, the locking block 54 is entirely locked into the lower hole 74 of the supporting tube 70, and the second sliding tube 40 is also thus fixedly secured in place. At this time, the upper slopes 5422 of the triangular projections 542 are closely engaged to the upper slope 554 of the sliding block 55 (see the left half of FIG. 1).

[0028] Up to this point, if the user chooses to release the push button 91 when the locking block's 24 guide pin 240 reaches the center hole 46 of the second sliding tube 40, then followed by the secured allocation of the second sliding tube 40 on the supporting tube 70, the first sliding tube 10 is also relocated when the locking block's 24 guide pin is engaged into the center hole 46 of the second sliding tube (see FIGS. 3A and 3B); this accomplishes the retractable luggage handle locking device's first protraction height option. In this manner, a unique purpose of carry-on handle for luggage piece of the present invention is thus attained. However, at this time, if the user chooses to keep on pressing the push button 91 and continues to pull up the first sliding tube 10 when the locking block 24 slips over the center hole 46 of the second sliding tube 40, then the first sliding tube 10 keeps on gliding upward until the locking block's 24 guide pin 240 reaches the top hole 45. Here again, the user has two choices: if the user chooses to release the push button 91, then the first sliding tube 10 is once more relocated to its second height position when the locking block's 24 guide pin 240 is engaged into the top hole 45 (see FIGS. 4A and 4B); this accomplishes the retractable luggage handle locking device's second protraction height option. However, if the user chooses to keep on pressing the push button 91 and continues to pull up the first sliding tube 10 when the locking block 24 slips over the top hole 45 of the second sliding tube 40, then the first sliding tube 10 keeps on gliding upward until the longitudinal sliding block 55 of the second locking device 50 is incurred to move upward. Sometime after the locking block 24 (presently retracted due to the pressing of the push button 91) slips over the top hole 45 on the second sliding tube 40 and before the moment when the top edge of the first locking device's 20 lower portion 214 reaches the bottom end of the first sleeve member 30 and is stopped thereat, the second connecting means' 56 top hook end 561 comes into engagement with the upper platform of the first locking device 20. Since the escalating distance the first locking device 20 travels during this very short time period between the two engaging instants, when the locking block's 24 guide pin 240 passes through the top hole 45 of the second sliding tube 40 and when the second connecting means' 56 top hook end 561 hits the upper platform of the first locking device 20 may present a great significance in the forthcoming discussion, it is therefore denoted here as the distance DELTA1. Since the second connecting means 56 is a slim rigid metal section with a bottom hook end 562 clung to the arch-shaped hook receiver 552 on the upper portion 551 of the sliding block 55, and also because there is a small distance left between the contacting spot of the first locking device 20 and the second connecting means 56 and the clashing position of the first locking device 20 and the first sleeve member 30, the sliding block 55 will move upward a small distance if the user keeps on lifting the first sliding tube 10 until the lifting action is stopped by the mutual engagement of the first locking device 20 and the first sleeve member 30. The lifting span of the sliding block 55 from its initial standstill position to its later modestly lifted position exactly equals the distance between the locus of the top edge of the first locking device's 20 lower portion 214 when the first locking device 20 hits the second connecting means 56 at their tops and the bottom end position of the first sleeve member 30 at that same instant. Since this distance may also present great significance in our forthcoming discussion, it is hereby represented as the distance DELTA2.

[0029] The sliding block's 55 lifting reaction also causes the second end 5412 of the lock pin 541 of the second locking device 50 to move to the right to unlock itself from the lower hole 74 of the supporting tube 70 (see FIGS. 5A and 5B). Since the user's first pressing of the push button 91 on top of the luggage handle 90, the second sliding tube 40, even though originally not completely locked inside the supporting tube 70 due to the initial semi-engagement of the lock pin 541 to the tube's lower hole 74, has always remained at the same lowermost position inside the supporting tube 70. However, with the relief of the lock pin 541 in the second locking device 50 from the lower hole 74 of the supporting tube 70, the second sliding tube 40 now also becomes maneuverable. At this time, however, if the user chooses to further pull up the luggage handle, since the top edge of the first locking device's 20 lower portion 214 is momentarily clashed with the bottom end of the first sleeve member 30 and is stopped thereat (i.e., the first locking device 20 and the first sliding tube 10 both have reached their highest stretching limit), the first sliding tube 10 and the second sliding tube 40 together will move upward until the locking block 54 of the second locking device 50 comes into engagement with the top hole 73 of the supporting tube 70 and locks itself therein (see FIGS. 6A and 6B). Within this stage of the locking device's movement (i.e., the resulting effect of the user's sole manual action of continuously lifting the luggage's handle grip), before the lock pin 541 of the locking block 54 enters the upper hole 73 of the supporting tube 70, the coupled action of the first sliding tube 10 and the second sliding tube 40 contains several important features which later prove to be very useful for the handle locking mechanism's follow-up movement. After the relief of the lock pin 541 of the second locking device 50 from the lower hole 74 of the supporting tube 70 and the subsequent physical collision between the top edge of the first locking device's 20 lower portion 214 and the bottom end of the first sleeve member 30, the first sliding tube 10 moves upward along with the second sliding tube 40 with no mutual relative motion, and the frontal head of the locking pin 541 is forced to lean against the inner wall of the supporting tube 70 and with its other end severely biased by the compressed helical spring 53 when the second locking device 50 along with the second sliding tube 40 is being pulled up. This suggests that the upward displacement of the longitudinal sliding tube 55 w.r.t. the main body of the second locking device 50, although initially enacted by the upward dragging force evolved from the elevation of the first locking device 20 and the incurred tension of the rigid second connecting means 56, is not now induced by the dragging force passed from the top end of the second connecting means 56 but by the constant withdrawal of the locking block 54 of the second locking device 50, during which time the rigid second connecting means 56 is not strained. Throughout this entire period, if viewed from the side, the lower slope 5421 of the locking block's 54 triangular shaped side protrusion leans against the lower slope 556 of the triangular shaped indentation provided at the lower portion 553 of the longitudinal sliding tube 55, which also means the locking block 54 of the second locking device 50 is squeezed by the spring 53 and confined inside the very limited cross sectional space of the supporting tube 70.

[0030] However, once the frontal head of the locking pin 541 of the locking block 54 meets an opening (in this case, the opening is the top hole 73 of the supporting tube 70), the suppressed locking block 54, pushed by the compressed helical spring 53, will instantly move toward the opening and exit the top hole 73 as far as the limiting frame behind the lock pin 541 allows. During this process, the longitudinal sliding block 55 will descend to its initial non-displaced position w.r.t. the main body of the second locking device 50, and if again viewed from the side, the locking block's 54 triangular shaped two protrusion sides 5422 and 5421 now match precisely with the upper and lower sides 554 and 556, respectively, of the triangle shaped indentation provided at the lower portion 553 of the longitudinal sliding tube 55. Up to this point, followed by the engagement of the lock pin 541 of the locking block 54 to the upper hole 73 of the supporting tube 70, a small distance DELTA2 (as defined earlier in the discussion), which originally was lifted for the purpose of retracting the locking block 54 of the second locking device 50 from the lower hole 74 on the supporting tube 70, now is lowered again to accommodate a smooth protraction of the lock pin 541 of the locking block 54 from the upper hole 73 of the supporting tube 70. Nevertheless, remember that before the actual occurrence of the lifting action of the small distance DELTA2, another small distance ascent DELTA1 was also lifted by the user; that elevation was for allowing the second connecting means' 56 top hook end 561 to contact the upper platform of the first locking device 20 sometime after the locking block's 24 guide pin 240 slips over the top hole 45 of the second sliding tube 40. Perceivably, the engagement of the locking block 54 of the second locking device 50 to the top hole 73 of the supporting tube 70 does not guarantee another engagement of the first locking device's 20 locking block 24 to the top hole 45 of the second sliding tube 40. By studying the relative positions among the first locking device 20, the first sleeve 30, and the engagement holes' 47, 46, and 45 respective loci on the second sliding tube 40, after the engagement of the locking block 54 of the second locking device 50 to the top hole 73 of the supporting tube 70, there is still another small distance DELTA1 which needs to be descended by the first sliding tube 10 to facilitate a second engagement of the first locking device's 20 locking block 24 to the top hole 45 of the second sliding tube 40 (see FIGS. 6A and 6B).

[0031] The descent of the longitudinal sliding block 55 to its original non-displaced position on the second locking device 50 does not incur a whole bulk descent of the second locking device 50, yet the longitudinal small drop of the sliding block 55 does incur a sudden descent of the first locking device 20 through the actuation of a downward dragging force induced by the second connecting means' 56 descent (because the second connecting means' 56 bottom hook end 562 is clung to the longitudinal sliding block's 55 arch-shaped hook receiver 552 and its top hook end 561 is clung to the top of the first locking device 20). Although the downward action of the first locking device 20 is only affected by the second connecting means' 56 top hook end's 561 downward dragging force when the second connecting means' 56 top hook end 561 is in contact with the top platform of the first locking device 20, yet the momentum evolved from the sudden descent of the first locking device 20 continues on even after the separation of the first locking device 20 from the second connecting means 56 and this momentum-related inertia further moves the first locking device 20 downward until the locking block's 24 guide pin 240 reaches the second sliding tube's 40 top engagement hole 45. At this time, since the push button is not pressed, the first connecting means 22 is therefore not activated, and the release of the locking block 24 out of the second sliding tube's 40 top engagement hole 45 from the sudden expansion of the compressed helical spring 23 is not in any way obstructed. As a result, the needed descent of another small distance DELTA1 of the first sliding tube 10, a smooth protraction of the locking block's 24 guide pin 240 at the top hole 45 of the second sliding tube 40, and the retractable luggage handle locking device's third protraction height option are all accomplished (see FIGS. 7A and 7B). When the luggage handle is placed in a fully extended position, owing to the locking device's multi-stroke design feature, it can accommodate even the tallest user, allowing them to tow the luggage in considerable comfort.

[0032] The following is a description of the luggage handle's retraction operation. The luggage handle's locking device momentarily is assigned to be at its initial highest protracted position (see FIGS. 7A and 7B), and the luggage's push button stays as non-depressed. When the user presses the push button, however, the first connecting means 22 is strained and pulled up. Since the first connecting means 22 is in the form of a curvilinearly deformable steel cable, the first connecting means 22 ascending action causes the guide pin 240 of the horizontally allocated locking block 24 to retract from the top hole 45 of the second sliding tube 40 and thus releases the first sliding tube 10 from its protractedly locked position. A ground is given to the user to further push down the first sliding tube 10 and retract it into the second sliding tube 40. This further lowering operation of the first sliding tube 10 causes the guide pin 240 of the horizontally-allocated locking block 24 to slip through the center hole 46 of the second sliding tube 40 while the lock pin 541 on the locking block 54 is still protractedly secured to the upper engagement hole 73 of the supporting tube 70. At this time, if the user chooses to release the push button, the guide pin 240 is immediately launched by the compressed spring 23 and comes out of the center hole 46 of the second sliding tube, which accomplishes the retractable luggage handle locking device's fourth protraction height option. Since the reaction is a lowering operation for the first sliding tube 10, the luggage handle's fourth height option is uprightly shorter than its third height option but is taller than the second height option. However, if the user chooses to continue pressing the handle's button and meanwhile pushes further down the first sliding tube 10, the guide pin 240 of the horizontally allocated locking block 24 slips over the center hole 46 of the second sliding tube 40 and continues to descend while the lock pin 541 on the locking block 54 is still protruded at the upper hole 73 of the supporting tube 70. At this time, the bottom of the first locking device 20 comes into contact with the top of the sliding block 55. The lower portion 214 of the first locking device 20 then pushes down the top of the sliding block 55 to cause the upper slopes 554 of the sliding block 55 to press against the upper slopes 5422 of the triangular projections 542, thus pulling in the lock pin 541 of the second locking device 50 from the upper hole 73 of the supporting tube 70. With the release of the engagement pin 541 from the upper hole 73 of the supporting tube 70, the second sliding tube 40 is free to be retracted into the supporting tube 70, and if the user chooses to push down the first sliding tube 10 and the second sliding tube 40 all the way down to their respective lower hole positions, the locking device eventually returns to its initial fully retracted location (as seen in FIGS. 2A and 2B). Thus, the cycle of the protraction-retraction operation is completed.

[0033] In the preferred embodiment the first locking device 20 is a primary component and the second locking device 50 is a supplementary component in the luggage handle's locking mechanism. Thus in other embodiments, the number of the second locking devices 50 and the number of the second sliding tubes 40 may be increased. As a result, it is possible to produce luggage handle systems having a plurality of constituent tubes along with their adjoining locking devices, resulting in a great variety of luggage handle protraction heights.

[0034] Note that the provision of the cable 56 and the center hole 46 of the second sliding tube 40 may be omitted if the design requirement does not include the pre-assigned first protraction height of the luggage handle, which is a small lifting length that allows the luggage handle to be extended a small distance on top of the luggage body to accommodate the smooth undertaking of a minor loading situation.

[0035] Also note that the length of the elongated upper portion 210 of the first locking device 20 is designed to be longer than the length of the first sleeve member 30. This is especially designed to strengthen the connection between the first sliding tube 10 and the second sliding tube 40, because often this spot turns out to be the Achilles' heel for luggage handle design.

[0036] It is important to note that the most crucial innovation in the present invention is with the second locking device 50. If, for example, the second locking device 50 is not provided, then, in order to maintain the multi-stroke handle system's normal function, another locking device very similar to the present first locking device 20 may have to be employed instead. With the addition of another locking device 20 to replace the present second locking device 50, not only must the handle system include two independent control chains fitted into one tiny space, but also the user may have to press the two separate control buttons twice to achieve the luggage handle's protraction-retraction operation. By using such a design, the luggage handle's locking mechanism becomes clumsy, complicated, and easy to malfunction. In the preferred embodiment, the second locking device 50 is simplified to comprise only the two housings 51 and 52, one horizontally allocated spring 53, one horizontally deployed locking block 54, a longitudinal sliding block 55, and a second connecting means 56. Amongst them, the uprightly located sliding block 55, the lateral locking block 54, and the second connecting means 56 (perhaps in the form of a slim rigid metal section) are actually the three threshold elements within the second locking device 50. As stated above, the upper and the lower slopes 5421 and 5422 of the locking block 54 engage, respectively, against the upper slope 554 and the lower slope 556 of the sliding block 55. Also, with the top and the bottom hook ends 561 and 562 of the second connecting means 56 attached, respectively, to the guide groove 212 on the first housing 21 and the protruded groove 552 on the upper portion 551 of the sliding block 55, the locking functions as described above are accomplished.

[0037] While the invention herein disclosed has been described by means of specific embodiments, numerous modifications and variations could be made thereto by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention set forth in the claims.