Title:
Shelf post assemblies and components for shelf posts
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shelf support assembly is provided having a shelf post and a post support. The post support contacts an end of the shelf post and limits movement of the shelf post wall from at least two directions, such as from the bottom and from the side. An adjustment element such as a threaded bolt is movable relative to the post support for adjusting the position of the shelf post relative to an underlying surface. In another embodiment, a post support is provided with a body having an extended support surface for supporting an extended surface on a shelf post. The extended support surface can also include a side surface for supporting a wall of the shelf post from the side.



Inventors:
Nicholson, Jeffery (Palmdale, CA, US)
Baugh, David (Palmdale, CA, US)
Nazarian, John (North Hollywood, CA, US)
Ondrasik, John V. (Granada Hills, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/927900
Publication Date:
02/13/2003
Filing Date:
08/09/2001
Assignee:
NICHOLSON JEFFERY
BAUGH DAVID
NAZARIAN JOHN
ONDRASIK V. JOHN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/103, 211/187, 211/208
International Classes:
A47B91/02; A47F3/04; A47F3/06; (IPC1-7): A47F5/00
View Patent Images:
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20060081546Media rack with alternating fixed and slidable casesApril, 2006Touzani et al.
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Primary Examiner:
RAMIREZ, RAMON O
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HENRICKS SLAVIN LLP (Austin, TX, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A shelf support assembly comprising: a shelf post having at least one wall extending longitudinally from a first end substantially the length of the shelf post; a post support contacting the first end of the least one wall of the shelf post and limiting movement of the wall of the shelf post from it least two directions; and an adjustment element movably contacting the post support and having an end portion movable closer to and farther from the post support.

2. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the post support includes threads.

3. The assembly of claim 2 wherein the threads on the post support are enclosed.

4. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the adjustment element is threaded and the post support has internal threads and a top that is covered.

5. The assembly of claim 4 wherein the top is closed.

6. The assembly of claim 4 further comprising a cap covering the top.

7. The assembly of claim 4 wherein the top is rounded.

8. The assembly of claim 4 wherein the shelf post has four walls.

9. The assembly of claim 8 wherein the shelf post walls are straight walls.

10. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the post support includes tabs for limiting sideways movement of the shelf post.

11. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the shelf post has a plurality of walls and wherein the post support includes a support based wall supporting each shelf post wall and least one side wall for limiting sideways movement of at least one of the shelf post walls.

12. The assembly of claim 11 wherein the shelf post includes at least two walls angled with respect to each other, the post support includes least one plate portion extending between the at least two angled walls, and wherein the post support further includes a support element for supporting a respective shelf post wall and wherein the support element is spaced longitudinally from the least one plate portion.

13. The assembly of claim 12 wherein the shelf post includes four walls arranged substantially in a rectangle and wherein the plate extends between the four walls and wherein the post support further includes four support elements space longitudinally from the plate for supporting respective ones of the four walls.

14. The assembly of claim 13 wherein at least one of the four support elements includes a side wall for limiting sideways movement of the corresponding shelf post wall.

15. An adjustable support for a shelf post and similar structures, the support comprising: a body having a side and an upper portion and a lower portion; and an adjustment member movable relative to the body and engaging the body such that the adjustment member is movable in a first direction relative to the body, and wherein the adjustment member has a first support portion for contacting a surface with respect to which the body is to be adjusted and a second portion engaging the body; a cover surface on the upper portion of the body extending over an upper portion of the adjustment member; and an extended support surface extending from the side of the body and including a relatively flat support surface extending in a second direction substantially perpendicular to the first direction.

16. The support of claim 15 wherein the body is internally threaded.

17. The support of claim 16 wherein the adjustment member includes external threads for engaging the internal threads of the body.

18. The support of claim 15 wherein the body is a tubular body having a top and a bottom and internal threads extending a substantial length of an inside surface of the tubular body, and wherein the tubular body is closed at the top and open at the bottom.

19. The support of claim 15 wherein the extended support surface includes a side support surface extending at an angle from the extended support surface.

20. The support of claim 19 wherein the side support surface is at a right angle to the extended support surface.

21. The support of claim 19 further comprising a plurality of additional extended support surfaces.

22. The support of claim 21 wherein each extended support surface includes a side support surface.

23. The support of claim 21 wherein the support includes four extended support surfaces.

24. The support of claim 15 wherein the extended support surface includes a transverse plate at an approximate mid portion of the body.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTIONS

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] These inventions relate to product supports and adjustment apparatus for product supports, including for example shelf post assemblies and leveling brackets for shelf posts.

[0003] 2. Related Art

[0004] Refrigerated display cases such as coolers and freezers are used in grocery stores, convenience stores, and other retail outlets for displaying perishable product for sale. The cases may be open deli and freezer cases, upright cases with sliding or swing doors or other configurations. In many upright refrigerated display cases, shelf assemblies or shelf units are used to hold and display product for sale and include a number of shelves supported by or between a number of shelf posts. The shelves are typically adjustable relative to the shelf posts, so that they can be placed closer together or farther apart, or so that the shelves can be placed level or slanted at different angles to allow for gravity feed of product to the front of the shelf. The shelf units may be portable on castors or may be relatively stationary on pads and possibly secured to a frame in the refrigerated display case. The shelf posts are typically fully square or rectangular in cross-section and closed except for oval or other-shaped openings for supporting the shelves or other hardware.

[0005] The shelf posts, and therefore the shelf unit, can be adjustable vertically. The height of the shelf unit as a whole can be adjusted by raising or lowering all of the shelf posts together, or the orientation of the shelf unit can be changed, for example for leveling purposes, by raising or lowering individual shelf posts. These adjustments are typically carried out by threading a threaded bolt into or out of the shelf post itself or an insert, which is part of a leveling bracket, in the bottom of the shelf post.

[0006] Some shelf post leveling brackets often have the full length of the threads on the bolt exposed except for the relatively short portion engaging the shelf post or the insert. In areas where food is being stored or sold, the exposed threads may become contaminated, and the assembly design may be such that it would not be approved by testing or certification organizations such as the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), and the like. Additionally, the insert or other structure into which the threaded bolt is engaged may be permanently affixed to the shelf post or effectively non-removable, making thorough cleaning more difficult.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTIONS

[0007] In accordance with one or more aspects of the present inventions, a combination is provided which can make assembly and use of shelf units easier. The combination can be easier to use, and can make shelf leveling brackets more accessible and easier to install in shelf posts. The combination can also be less susceptible to contamination and easier to remove and to clean. The construction can make the shelf assembly more stable and stronger as well. For example, a leveling bracket can provide symmetrical support for the shelf post, and each load bearing surface of the post can be supported by a corresponding surface on the bracket.

[0008] In one aspect of one of the present inventions, a shelf support assembly is provided having a shelf post and a post support contacting one end of at least one wall of the shelf post to limit movement of the shelf post wall from at least two directions. For example, the post support can limit downward movement of the shelf post and sideways movement of the shelf post wall. An adjustment element is movable relative to the post support to allow adjustment in the position of the post relative to a support surface. The shelf post wall dimension and the post support can be dimensioned so as to provide the desired support while still allowing easy installation and removal of the post support. In one preferred embodiment, the shelf post has four walls and the post support has a relatively planar surface for supporting the shelf post from below and at least one side wall or tab extending from the planar surface to limit sideways movement of one wall of the shelf post. Preferably, the post support includes a side wall corresponding to each shelf post wall for limiting sideways movement of the respective shelf post wall. Additionally, the post support can include one or more additional side walls on opposite sides of the respective shelf post walls to sandwich each shelf post wall, and to limit any sideways movement of the shelf post wall.

[0009] In another aspect of one of the present inventions, a shelf support assembly is provided having a shelf post and a post support contacting one end of at least one wall of the shelf post to limit movement of one of the shelf post walls. The post support includes an adjustment element movable relative to the post support, and the post support includes engagement surfaces enclosed within a wall of the post support and accessible for engagement by the adjustment element from a lower portion of the post support. Preferably, the engagement surfaces are fully enclosed from the top and sides of the post support. For example, the post support can include a hollow threaded shaft for receiving a threaded adjustment element, and the top of the shaft may but need not be closed or may be capped with a removable cap, so that no foreign matter can enter the hollow shaft from above when the cap is in place. Additionally, the lower portion of the post support can be closed sufficiently so as to accept nothing larger than the diameter or outer dimension of the threaded adjustment element.

[0010] In a further aspect of one of the present inventions, a support for a shelf post may include a body and an adjustment member for moving relative to the body and engaging the body such that the adjustment member is movable in a first direction relative to the body. The body may include a cover surface on the upper portion of the body, such as to reduce contamination from foreign material. The body may also include an extended support surface extending from the side of the body and including a relatively flat support surface extending in a second direction substantially perpendicular to the direction of movement of the adjustment number. Preferably, the body is internally threaded and the adjustment member is threaded so as to engage the threads on the body. The body may be tubular with the internal threads extending a substantial length of the inside of the body, and may be closed at the top and open at the bottom. The extended support surface preferably supports a wall of a shelf post, and may further include a side support surface extending at angle for supporting the wall of the shelf post from a different erection than the extended support surface. Preferably, the side support surface is perpendicular to the extended support surface. Also preferably, the body includes a plurality of extended support surfaces, for example one for each wall of the shelf post, and an equal number of side support surfaces. Where the shelf post has four walls, the body preferably includes four extended support surfaces and four side support surfaces. In one embodiment, the side support surfaces are outside the shelf post. In another embodiment, side support surfaces extend within the shelf post, and in a further embodiment, side support surfaces extend on both the inside and the outside of the shelf post. These and other aspects of the present inventions can be considered more fully in conjunction with the drawings, a brief description of which follows, and the detailed description of the preferred embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a front of a refrigerated display case in which the present inventions can be used.

[0012] FIG. 2 is a rear plan view and partial cutaway of a shelf assembly in accordance with one aspect of the present inventions.

[0013] FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a shelf post leveling bracket in accordance with one aspect of one of the present inventions.

[0014] FIG. 4 is a side elevation and partial cutaway view of the bracket of FIG. 3.

[0015] FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the bracket of FIG. 3.

[0016] FIG. 6 is an elevation view of a further shelf post leveling bracket in accordance with another aspect of one of the present inventions.

[0017] FIG. 7 is a side elevation view and partial cutaway of a further embodiment of a bracket in accordance with another aspect of one of the present inventions.

[0018] FIG. 8 is an isometric view of a shelf post leveling bracket in accordance with another aspect of one of the present inventions.

[0019] FIG. 9 is a side elevation view of the shelf post leveling bracket of FIG. 8 and partial cutaway view of a shelf post.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0020] The following specification taken in conjunction with the drawings sets forth the preferred embodiments of the present inventions in such a manner that any person skilled in the art can make and use the inventions. The embodiments of the inventions disclosed herein are the best modes contemplated by the inventor for carrying out the inventions in a commercial environment, although it should be understood that various modifications can be accomplished within the parameters of the present inventions.

[0021] In accordance with one or more aspects of the present inventions, a leveling assembly or adjustable bracket and a shelf post and leveling bracket assembly are described which are easy to use and easy to clean and service. The configurations of the leveling assembly can also be made relatively strong, and can easily support a wide range of structures and weight loads. While the leveling assembly can be used in a wide range of applications, including product displays, shelving systems, and the like, the description of the leveling assembly will be directed primarily to shelving units and systems, such as those using shelf posts supporting a number of shelves and used, for example, to display product such as food and other perishable's in refrigerated display cases. Examples of such refrigerated display cases and components used in those cases can be found in several issued patents, including U.S. Pat. No. 5,297,863 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,879,070, the specifications of which are incorporated herein by reference. However, it should be understood that the inventions are not limited to these examples, but can be extended and is applicable to other methods and apparatus as well.

[0022] Refrigerated display cases such as case 20 (FIG. 1) may include doors 22 mounted in and supported by a surrounding frame 24 to allow opening and closing of the doors. The doors 22 have glass panels 26, allowing someone such as a customer in a supermarket to look through the panels 26 at items 28 displayed on shelves 30 inside the case 20. The items 28 inside the display case 20 may or may not be refrigerated items, such as frozen foods, or other product for sale. Typical refrigerated display cases, for example, use shelves that are assembled in units approximately 24 to 30 inches in length, across the front of the unit, and with a number of desired depths. The shelf units may be freestanding on sealed or other treated floors of a retail space in which the display case 20 is placed, or may be supported on flooring or other support surfaces incorporated into the display case itself. The shelf units can also be fixed or otherwise engaged to the surrounding frame 24 on the interior of the display case, or to other stable surfaces, to help maintain the shelf units in the desired positions.

[0023] The shelf units or other structures with which the adjustable bracket may be used can take any number of configurations, and can include many existing structures such as conventional shelf assemblies. In the context of refrigerated display cases, many shelf units include a number of shelves supported in the areas of the four corners by respective shelf posts extending generally vertically from a suitable support surface within the display case 20. Each shelf need not be supported precisely at each corner, but is preferably supported generally an area of the core of the shelf to enhance the stability of the overall assembly. In display cases with more than one opening (the frame perimeter area occupied by a given door), multiple shelf units are typically placed side-by-side, and adjacent shelf units will share a shelf post, for example as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,879,070.

[0024] The doors 22 can be swing doors supported on hinges, or sliding doors (not shown). Most refrigerated display cases have multiple shelves 30 for holding and displaying product 28. The doors close and create a thermal and airtight seal against contact plates in the frame using conventional gaskets. Along the tops and bottoms of the doors, the doors seal against upper and lower horizontal frame members, and along the sides, the doors seal against side frame members or center mullions. Each mullion extends vertically between the top and bottom frame members, and include respective contact plates so that the corresponding door, when closed, provides a continuous seal around the inside perimeter surface of the door against the frame elements.

[0025] Conventional shelf posts have a square or rectangular transverse cross-section and are positioned or configured so that, when they are in-place, the walls 34 (FIG. 2) extend substantially straight vertically from a bottom portion 36 to a top portion 38. The bottom portion 36 preferably includes as many bottom edges 40 as there are sides to the shelf post, and the bottom edges are preferably formed or cut so as to be perpendicular or square to the walls 34. The bottom edges 40 are also preferably co-planar with respect to each other, so that the bottom edges all contact a flat surface if the bottom of the shelf post is placed on a flat surface. The top portion 38 also preferably includes square top edges 42. The shelf post also includes walls 44 defining openings for receiving hooks or bars on shelves, such as shelf 30 shown schematically in FIG. 2, wherein the openings are generally arranged vertically with respect to each other so that the shelves can be supported at different heights relative to the bottom portion 36, and therefore relative to the support surface. The shelves supported by the shelf post are intended to be conventional shelves. The shelf post shown in FIG. 2 includes two, parallel columns of openings, and each column of openings is used for receiving respective adjacent shelves of side-by-side shelf units. Where only one vertical arrangement of shelves is supported by the shelf post, a single column of openings can be used, allowing the shelf post to be narrower in the dimension depicted in FIG. 2. Other configurations of the shelf post are possible as well. For example, the cross-section of the post can be other than rectangular or square, the bottom or top portions can be other than square, and other variations are possible. The other three vertical walls of the shelf post can be solid, or they may also be formed with openings for receiving hardware. In any case, the shelf post is preferably formed and configured to adequately support the weight and configuration of any structures that are attached to it.

[0026] While the shelf post described herein is discussed in the context of vertically arranged shelves and shelf posts that are exactly vertical, this configuration is preferred but other configurations are possible. The shelf posts or other structures that can be supported using the adjustment assemblies described herein can be used in other orientations. However, the present description is of preferred embodiment and the described assemblies can be used in other orientations and in other structures besides shelf posts.

[0027] In one preferred embodiment of one aspect of the present inventions, an adjustable support 46 (FIGS. 2-5) is provided for the shelf post. The adjustable support supports the shelf post on an underlying surface, and is adjustable to change the position of the shelf post relative to the underlying surface. In the context of a vertical shelf post, the adjustable support is used to change the vertical height of the shelf post, for example relative to the opening to which the shelf assembly is adjacent. For example, all shelf posts can be raised or lowered a similar amount to change the height of the shelf assembly. Additionally, an individual shelf post can be raised or lowered to properly level each of the shelves supported by the shelf post. Adequate leveling may be carried out by adjusting more than one adjustable support.

[0028] The adjustable support includes a post support 48 that preferably extends across the entire cross sectional area of the inside of the shelf post, in the embodiment of FIGS. 2-5, except for that portion through which the bolt may extend, as discussed in more detail below. The post support is a plate, base, web or other suitable structure for supporting in part the shelf post. In the embodiment of FIGS. 2-5, the post support extends under the bottom edges of the shelf post and has a contact surface 50 contacting the bottom portion 36 and supporting the bottom edge 40 of the shelf post. The adjustable support contacts and supports at least one wall of the bottom portion, and preferably the bottom edge 40 of each wall of the shelf post to support the walls of the shelf post from below and to limit downward vertical movement of the shelf post. The adjustable support also includes one or more additional walls or surfaces for limiting movement of adjacent shelf post walls from one or more other directions. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2-5, the additional walls include a plurality of outer side tabs, walls, flanges, barriers, stops or other limits 52 to sideways movement of an adjacent wall of the shelf post. The tabs 52 help to limit outward movement of the adjacent shelf post wall that may arise from loading of the shelf post. In the preferred embodiment, there is at least one tab 52 adjacent the post support contact surface 50 for each wall of the shelf post. The contact surface 50 supports the bottom of each wall of the shelf post and a tab 52 limits from the outside sideways movement of the adjacent shelf post wall. The additional walls also include a plurality of inner walls 54 (FIGS. 3-5) for limiting sideways movement of the shelf post walls from the inside. The inner walls 54 are preferably formed as part of a boss, pedestal or platform 56 formed above the post support contact surface 50. Both the tabs 52 and the inner walls 54, when used, are preferably formed perpendicular to and extend upward from the contact surface 50. One or the other of the tabs and the inner walls can be omitted, and if one or the other is omitted, it may be preferred to retain the inner walls over the tabs.

[0029] Considering the post support in more detail with respect to FIGS. 2-5, the contact surface 50 preferably extends completely around the outside of the post support 48. The contact surface 50 conforms to the bottom surfaces of the shelf post walls, and where the bottom edges of the shelf post walls are square, the contact surface 50 is preferably flat and square as well. The contact surface 50 is preferably sized on each side to properly support the respective wall of the shelf post and to allow relatively easy assembly and removal of the adjustable support and the shelf post.

[0030] The tabs 52 are formed or fixed preferably perpendicular to the contact surface 50, with two tabs 52 on each side of the post support 48. Each side preferably has two tabs for reliable structural support while still allowing access to the support surface 50 for cleaning and other maintenance. Alternatively, each tab 52 can extend the entire length of a side of the post support 48, or each tab can be centered on its respective side and terminate before the respective side of the post support 48 begins to transition to the adjacent side. The tab can also extend around the entire periphery of the post support, but it is preferred to have at least one opening or gap in the wall to allow for cleaning and the like. It is preferred to have openings in the corners of the wall, for example to make easier access to the contact surfaces 50. The tabs are preferably any thickness and any height sufficient to support the shelf post wall as desired, such as about 0.020 to about 0.190 in thickness and about between 0.020 to 0.190 in. or more in height, and one preferred thickness is about 0.090 in. and one preferred height is about 0.130 in.

[0031] The inner walls 54 are also preferably formed or fixed perpendicular to the contact surface 50. Each inner wall 54 is preferably higher than the height of the respective tabs 52, and preferably extends substantially the inside length of the corresponding side of the shelf post so that the combination of the four inner side walls 54 fits within the interior of the shelf post into which the adjustable support will be placed. Where the four inner walls 54 form part of a boss 56, the boss fits into the bottom of the shelf post, preferably about one quarter inch or more, up to about one inch. One preferred clearance between the boss or inner side surfaces and the corresponding walls of the shelf post may be about 0.015 inch or more or less, and the spacing between the shelf post walls and the tabs may be about 0.015 to about 0.030 inch or more, but a smaller or larger spacing can be used if necessary or desired.

[0032] The adjustable support 46 also preferably includes an adjustment element or assembly for changing the position of the adjustable support 46 relative to the underlying support surface. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2-5, the adjustment element includes a threaded fastener, bolt or other movable element 58 and a corresponding internally threaded pole, bore, shaft or other receptacle 60 for the bolt 58. Movement of the threaded bolt relative to the bore allows adjustment of the distance of the adjustable support from the underlying support surface. Other means than threads may instead be used to move the bolt or other adjustment element relative to the pole 60, but threaded engagement is preferred.

[0033] In one preferred embodiment, the pole 60 is formed integral with the boss 56 and extends a sufficient distance above the post support 48 to permit the desired length of travel of the bolt 58. The pole is preferably centered relative to the post support 48 and can be round in outside configuration or any other desirable shape. The height of the pole 60 is preferably sufficient to allow an inch or more of travel of the bolt 58 to adjust the position of the shelf post. The pole 60 is preferably entirely closed around the sides 62 and closed at the top 64 so that the threads 66 are fully enclosed over any portion thereof that extends above the support surface 48 and preferably below the support surface. If the pole 60 is not formed with a closed top 64, the bore can be closed off with a permanently affixed plate, cap or other surface to prevent foreign matter from falling on to the top of the pole 60 and contacting the internal threads 66. The cap or other surface can be removable, as well, but preferably covers and seals the pole 60 sufficiently to keep out foreign matter. The top can be flat or have a rounded or cone-shaped top, to minimize the collection of foreign matter on the top of the pole.

[0034] In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, the threads 66 begin at an approximate midpoint 68 of the pole 60 and extend upward within the bore. The rest 69 of the bore below the midpoint 68 is preferably smooth. The outside of the pole 60 may include reinforcing ribs (not shown) in addition to a transition surface 70 reinforcing the engagement between the pole 60 and the boss 56.

[0035] The bolt 58 includes conventional threads 72 and a standard hex head 74 and a length of smooth shaft 76 between the hex head 74 and threads 72. The threads 72 may be approximately one inch or more in length. The length of the smooth portion 76 is preferably sufficient, such as about 1½ in. or more, so that no threads are exposed below the support surface 48 when the shelf post is adjusted to the maximum height. At that point, the bolt 58 is preferably withdrawn to a point where the threads 72 are still contained within the unthreaded portion of the bore 69. The adjustment element can be manipulated using a conventional wrench on the hex head 74.

[0036] The adjustment element 46 may also include a boss 80 extending downwardly, for example about ¾ of an inch, or about 0.775 inch for one preferred form of the support, from below the support surface 48 and around the bolt 58 to allow access for cleaning, adjustment and maintenance. Preferably, the distance from the bottom of the shelf post to the underlying support is at least one inch for acceptable access. The boss 80 can serve as a stop for the hex head 74 preventing further threading of the bolt into the threaded bore, and allowing access to the hex head under the support surface 48 with a conventional wrench. The boss 80 has an inside diameter that is preferably slightly larger than the outside diameter of the threads 72 on the bolt 58 but sufficiently small so as to restrict entry of foreign matter between the bolt 58 and the bore 69. Where the boss 80 is omitted, the relative lengths of the pole 60 and the bolt 58 are such as to minimize the amount of exposed threads on the bolt over the range of adjustment positions for the bolt.

[0037] An opening 82 may be formed in one or more of the walls of the shelf post and a bore can be formed in one or more of the inside side walls 54 for accepting a plug, insert, pin or other element for helping to hold the adjustment bracket in place on the shelf post. Such a plug can be useful during shipping and installation with a shelf unit. Once a shelf unit is fully installed, the plugs can be removed if desired.

[0038] The adjustment bracket of FIGS. 2-5 is easily placed on the end of a shelf post and adjusted as desired. The bottom support wall supports the loading from the shelf post and the side walls limit sideways movement of the walls of the shelf post. The adjustment bracket can be easily removed for cleaning, maintenance or inspection and replaced or re-installed as necessary. A wide range of adjustment positions is available using the adjustment bolt 58, and little or no threads are exposed under normal conditions.

[0039] In a further aspect of one of the present inventions, an adjustable support 84 (FIG. 6) includes an adjustment surface 48 having tabs 52 and inside surfaces 54 on a boss 56 for supporting a shelf post or other structure. A preferably fully enclosed bore 69 includes threads 66 for receiving an adjustment bolt (not shown) for adjusting a position of the shelf post. Preferably, the bore 69 is closed at the top. The adjustable support 84 also includes additional inside surfaces 54A for limiting sideways movement of the adjacent walls of the shelf post. Preferably, the base 86 defining the walls 54A is shaped and sized identical to the boss 56 and its respective side walls 54. The base 86 provides additional lateral support between the adjustable support 84 and the shelf post. The base 86 can also be continuous with boss 56 and may be solid except for the hollow bore receiving the bolt.

[0040] In a further embodiment of one of the present inventions, an adjustable support 46 may include a press fit sleeve 88 over the boss 80 or otherwise mounted or fixed to the underside surface of the support surface 48 centered around the bore 69. The sleeve 88 serves as a spacer limiting how close the bottom of the shelf post can approach the underlying support surface. The opening in the sleeve 88 through which the bolt 58 extends is preferably slightly larger than the diameter necessary to allow the bolt to pass through the sleeve and engage the threads 66, while still small enough to restrict entry of foreign matter into the bore. The bolt preferably includes an unthreaded shaft portion similar to that described with respect to bolt 58 in FIG. 2.

[0041] In a further aspect of one of the present inventions, an adjustable support 90 (FIGS. 8-9) can be used to support a shelf post and other structures. The adjustable support 90 includes a body 92 having a side portion 94, defined in this embodiment as the externally threaded portion 96 of the body shown in phantom in FIG. 8, and an upper portion 98 and a lower portion 100 extending on respective sides of the side portion 94. The body 92 is a pole, shaft or other longitudinally extending structure having an internal counter bore 102 in the lower portion 100 and a threaded bore 104 in the upper portion 98. The body can have a number of external configurations. The actual transition between the counter bore 102 and threaded bore 104 can occur at a number of locations in or between the lower and upper portions. However, the length of the threaded portion is preferably such as to provide sufficient strength, structural integrity and support in the adjustable support 90 to adequately support the shelf post or other structure. The body preferably fully encloses the counter bore and the threaded bore along the sides and at the top 106, and preferably includes an opening only at the bottom of the lower portion 100 for accepting an adjustment bolt or other adjustment element.

[0042] The adjustment bolt is movable in a first direction defined by a central axis 108 and will contact the underlying support surface so that the shelf post can be adjusted. The adjustment bolt may be such as bolt 58 with a hex head for contacting the underlying surface and a threaded shaft for engaging the body.

[0043] The top 106 covers the upper portion of a body and preferably closes the body to prevent entry of foreign matter. The cover extends over the threaded bore 104 and therefore over the upper portion of the bolt 58. As previously discussed, the top 106 can be a separate structure removable from the body to permit access to the threaded bore 104, for maintenance or for other reasons.

[0044] The adjustable support 90 also includes an extended support surface 110 extending from the side 94 of the body. The extended support surface may include a flat plate, disk, rectangle or other web or planar portion 112 configured to preferably extend between the vertical walls of a shelf post or other structure. The plate 112 can extend away, such as outwardly, from the side portion 94 of the body as desired. In one preferred embodiment, the plate 112 is relatively flat and extends across the space defined by the interior of the shelf post an amount greater than half the cross-sectional area of the interior of the shelf post. In other words, for a rectangular cross-sectional area, the plate 112 extends more than half the distance in each of the dimensions of the rectangle. The plate 112 can extend less or more than that amount, and the amount can be minimal or can entirely span the cross-sectional area inside the shelf post.

[0045] The extended support surface also includes at least one and preferably at least two connector walls 114 extending between the plate 112 and relatively flat, extended support surfaces 116. The extended support surfaces 116 support a respective wall 34 of the shelf post. The extended support surfaces 116 preferably support the bottom edges of the respective walls 34 of the shelf post and limit the movement of the walls from underneath. The extended support surfaces 116 preferably extend the entire width of the respective shelf post wall, and perpendicular to the central axis 108. However, it should be understood that the configuration of the support surface preferably conforms to the configuration of the bottom edges of the shelf post or other structure supported by the adjustable support. In another preferred embodiment, four connector walls 114 extend from the plate 112 to respective extended support surfaces 116 for supporting respective walls of the shelf post. Preferably, there is one connector wall and one extended support surface for each wall of the shelf post.

[0046] The connector walls 114 can extend between the plate 112 and the extended support surfaces 116 as desired. Where the connector walls 114 have a length that is greater than zero, the connector walls 114 also support and limit the movement of the shelf post side walls from the inside. The walls 114 can be eliminated, making the plate 112 and the extended surfaces 116 coextensive and co-planar. However, the lengths of the connector walls 114 are preferably less than or equal to the length of the lower portion 100 to ensure that the shelf post is spaced adequately from the underlying support surface or otherwise spaced from the surface contacted by the adjustment bolt. It should be noted that the thickness of the material of the surfaces 112, 114, 116 and 118 would be several times thicker that the shelf post wall thickness, and at least twice as thick.

[0047] In one preferred embodiment, each extended support surface 116 includes a side support surface 118 extending at an angle from the extended support surface 116. The side support surface 118 supports and limits movement of the respective shelf post wall from the outside. The surfaces 118 may capture, engage, hold, retain and help to enclose parts of the shelf post walls, and they help to hold the shelf post walls against the connecting walls 114 as well. Preferably, there is a side support surface 118 for each extended support surface 116.

[0048] The adjustable support may be formed from any number of materials. One preferred material is molded from zinc alloy, for example a No. 3 or a No. 5 zinc alloy (ASTM AG4GA and AG4IA, respectively). The parts may be painted, etched or otherwise sealed or coated to reduce chemical reaction or contamination by food or other matter contacting the surfaces.

[0049] Having thus described several exemplary implementations of the invention, it will be apparent that various alterations and modifications can be made without departing from the inventions or the concepts discussed herein. Such operations and modifications, though not expressly described above, are nonetheless intended and implied to be within the spirit and scope of the inventions. Accordingly, the foregoing description is intended to be illustrative only.





 
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