Title:
Collapsible golf bag carrying case
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A telescoping hard case for carrying a golf bag is provided. The hard case includes at least three container sections telescopically moveable between a retracted position and an expanded position, including a bottom section, a middle section, and a top section, wherein the top section slidably nests within the middle section and the middle section slidably nests within the bottom section in the retracted position; and wherein the container sections abut along adjacent edges in the extended position so that a top edge of the bottom section abuts a bottom edge of the middle section, and a top edge of the middle section abuts the bottom edge of the top section. The hard case further includes stopping mechanism to prevent the container sections from becoming detached when in the expanded position and a releasable locking device for locking the container sections in the expanded position.



Inventors:
Dietrich, Gregory B. (Orlando, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/678775
Publication Date:
11/25/2004
Filing Date:
10/03/2003
Assignee:
DIETRICH GREGORY B.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/315.6, 220/8
International Classes:
A63B55/00; (IPC1-7): A63B55/00; A63B55/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Terry M. Sanks (Winter Park, FL, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A telescoping hard case for carrying a golf bag comprising: at least three container sections telescopically moveable between a retracted position and an expanded position, including a bottom section, a middle section, and a top section, wherein the top section slidably nests within the middle section and the middle section slidably nests within the bottom section in the retracted position; and wherein the container sections abut along adjacent edges in the expanded position so that a top edge of the bottom section abuts a bottom edge of the middle section, and a top edge of the middle section abuts the bottom edge of the top section; a stopping mechanism to prevent the container sections from becoming detached when in the expanded position; and a releasable locking device for locking the container sections in the expanded position.

2. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 wherein the top section comprises an opening for inserting the golf bag therein.

3. The telescoping hard case of claim 2 further comprising a lid for covering said opening.

4. The telescoping hard case of claim 3 further comprising a latch for securing the lid in a closed position.

5. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 wherein the container sections are tubular.

6. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 wherein the bottom section further comprises a wheeled base.

7. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 wherein the stopping mechanism comprises cooperating circumferential flanges along the adjacent edges to prevent the container sections from becoming detached when in the expanded position.

8. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 wherein the stopping mechanism comprises tight fitting circumferential peripheries along the adjacent edges to prevent the container sections from becoming detached when in the expanded position.

9. The telescoping hard case of claim 8 wherein the peripheral circumference along a lower edge of the top section is larger than the peripheral circumference of the corresponding upper edge of the adjacent middle section and wherein the peripheral circumference along a lower edge of the middle section is larger than the peripheral circumference of the corresponding upper edge of the adjacent bottom section.

10. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 wherein the stopping mechanism comprises spring-biased locking pins.

11. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 further comprising peripheral bushings positioned along the adjacent edges of the container sections for engaging the sections in the expanded position.

12. The telescoping hard case of claim 11 wherein the bushings contain the stopping mechanism.

13. The telescoping hard case of claim 11 wherein the bushings contain the releasable locking device.

14. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 wherein the releasable locking device comprises cooperating circumferential flanges along the adjacent edges which are rotated into a locking position.

15. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 wherein the releasable locking device comprises spring-biased locking pins.

16. The telescoping hard case of claim 1 wherein the releasable locking device comprises at least one internal telescoping tube assembly for securing the container sections in the expanded position.

17. The telescoping hard case of claim 16 wherein internal telescoping tube assembly comprises at least three telescoping tubes including a bottom tube, a middle tube, and a top tube wherein the bottom tube receives the middle tube which has an outside diameter smaller than the inside diameter of the bottom tube, and the middle tube receives the top tube which has an outside diameter smaller than the inside diameter of the middle tube.

18. The telescoping hard case of claim 17 further comprising spring-biased locking pins to secure the tubes in an expanded position.

19. The telescoping hard case of claim 17 further comprising a stop portion to prevent the telescoping tubes from separating completely, wherein the stop portion is positioned between adjacent tubes.

20. The telescoping hard case of claim 17 wherein the bottom tube is secured to the bottom container section and the top tube is secured to the top container section wherein the tube assembly expands and retracts as the container sections expand and retract.

Description:

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/417,412 filed Oct. 10, 2002 incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF INVENTION

[0002] The present invention is directed to a hard case for protecting a golf bag during transportation and more particularly, to a hard case which can be collapsed into a smaller size for storage.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

[0003] Conventional golf bags for carrying golf clubs are normally constructed of a synthetic woven fiber material, synthetic sheet material or leather. None of these elements are generally suitable for rough handling of the golf bags such as might occur when the golf bag and the attendant clubs stored in the bag are being shipped by public transportation. Various forms of containers for holding golf bags with clubs have been devised, most of which are soft or flexible materials. The soft or flexible materials generally do not provide adequate protection for the golf bag and the clubs contained in the bag. Accordingly, it is desirable to provide a hard sided shipping container for holding golf bags that will provide adequate protection from damage incurred during transportation of the golf bag.

[0004] Others have recognized this need and have devised various forms of hard sided containers including containers that are of a clamshell type for holding a bag. The difficulty with this type of container is that when the container is not being used for shipping of the golf bag, the container takes up a lot of storage space. Accordingly, it would be desirable to have a hard sided container that does not require storage space that is the full size of the container when used in holding a golf bag.

[0005] In light of the above it is an object of the present invention to provide a hard sided shipping container for holding golf bags. Another object of the present invention is to provide a hard sided shipping container which is easy to use, relatively easy to manufacture, and comparatively cost effective.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0006] In accordance with the present invention, a hard sided storage container for shipping of a golf bag that is formed of multiple sections that can be telescoped or collapsed into a smaller size for storage is provided. The telescoping container includes a plurality of telescoping sections that are joined together along their respective peripheries to form a tubular container. Each section fits snugly within, or “telescopes” into, an adjacent section. Two or more sections can be telescoped together, as required.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a collapsible golf bag storage container in its expanded form to receive a golf bag.

[0008] FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of the container in its collapsed form for storage.

[0009] FIG. 3a illustrates a top plan view of the container.

[0010] FIG. 3b illustrates a top perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the container.

[0011] FIG. 4 illustrates a sectional view of the side showing the locking ribs.

[0012] FIG. 5 illustrates a bottom perspective view of the container.

[0013] FIG. 6 shows a cross-sectional view through the container with the three sections telescoped into its collapsed configuration.

[0014] FIG. 7 is an enlarged sectional view of the upper flanges shown in FIG. 6.

[0015] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view showing a locking slot which rides in the inwardly extending circumferential lip.

[0016] FIG. 9 is an enlarged view of the area illustrating one form of construction of the lower section and the mating of the outwardly extending flange with the ridge.

[0017] FIG. 10 shows a cutaway view of the container illustrating one of the ribs moving between a position at A and a position at B.

[0018] FIG. 11 shows bumps that are formed on the inwardly extending lip of the container to prevent rotation of the upper section.

[0019] FIG. 12 is a partial cutaway perspective view showing a locking slot which rides in the inwardly extending circumferential lip.

[0020] FIG. 13 is a perspective exploded view of an alternate embodiment of the container showing the three sections having mating bushings and locking pins.

[0021] FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view of the locking pin mechanism of the alternate embodiment of FIG. 13.

[0022] FIG. 15 is a perspective exploded view of an alternate embodiment of the container showing the three sections having mating bushings with an optional handle incorporated into the lower section bushing.

[0023] FIG. 16 is an exploded view of an internal telescoping locking tube assembly of another alternate embodiment of the container.

[0024] FIG. 17 is a cut-away view of the alternate embodiment of FIG. 15 showing the internal telescoping locking tube assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0025] Turning now to the figures wherein like numerals represent like items, one embodiment of the present collapsible golf bag storage container 10 is shown. In this example, the container is formed of three telescoping sections 12, 14, 16. Alternately, additional sections can be telescoped together, as required. Although the actual size and configuration of the container 10 can be varied to meet specified space/size requirements, the particular configuration shown in FIG. 1 is designed for use with most golf bags containing clubs. With respect to container 10 shown in FIG. 1, top section 16, middle section 14, and bottom section 12, are exemplary. The container 10 shown includes elongate sections (tubes) of generally rectangular cross-section; an alternative embodiment may incorporate sections having one of a wide variety of other cross-sectional configurations, including round, square, or irregular elongate tubes.

[0026] When expanded, these sections abut each other along their respective peripheries, i.e., the top periphery of section 12 abuts the bottom periphery of section 14, and the top periphery of section 14 abuts the bottom periphery of section 16. Once expanded, the sections can be locked into the expanded configuration by various means, discussed hereinafter.

[0027] The top container section 16 is formed with an opening through which a golf bag can be placed or removed. Container 10 can be loaded in a fully or partially expanded configuration. Alternately, container 10 can be loaded while fully collapsed and the telescoping sections may thereafter be raised to their fully expanded configuration. The top container section 16 is closed by a lid 18, e.g., a hinged lid, which can be fastened in place to fully enclose a golf bag and attendant clubs stored in the container.

[0028] The lid 18 may further include a locking mechanism (not shown) for security. In an embodiment, a further mechanism (in the form of a latch or the like) may be provided such that the container sections cannot be expanded or collapsed without opening the lid 18 and/or releasing the locking mechanism for the lid 18.

[0029] FIG. 2 shows the container 10 in its collapsed or telescoped configuration. Container sections 12, 14, 16 are telescoped inwardly for the container 10 to be in the collapsed condition for storage. The lid 18 may be formed with a plurality of dimples 20 to provide additional strength for the lid in a manner well known in the art.

[0030] FIG. 3 illustrates a top plan view of the container 10 showing the lid in its closed position and further illustrating how the sections 12, 14 and 16 are telescoped together. It will be noted by reference to FIG. 1 in conjunction with FIG. 3 that the top section 16 is provided with a pair of spaced handles 22 to facilitate lifting of the container from the top. One of the handles 22 may be incorporated into the hinge for the lid 18 as best seen in FIG. 1.

[0031] FIG. 5 illustrates a bottom perspective view of the container 10 in a collapsed configuration showing a pair of wheels 24 which are attached to the bottom of the container to facilitate easy movement of the container by tilting the container and rolling it on the wheels 24. The bottom may be formed with a plurality of ridges or grooves 25 in order to add strength to the molded plastic material of which the container is manufactured and to provide surfaces for allowing the container to stand upright. The container may also include a lower handle 26 to enable the container to be lifted by holding at one of the top handles and the lower handle.

[0032] Turning now to FIG. 6, there is shown a cross-sectional view through the container 10 with the three sections 12, 14 and 16 telescoped into its collapsed configuration. The lower section 12 receives the middle section 14 which has an outside diameter smaller than the inside diameter of the lower section 12. Similarly, the middle section 14 receives the upper section 16 which has an outside diameter smaller than the inside diameter of the middle section 14.

[0033] To prevent the sections from separating completely when expanded, for each connected section, a stop is provided. The stop may be in the form of cooperating circumferential flanges 38 and 34 for upper and middle sections 16, 14 and similar cooperating circumferential flanges 32 and 40 for the middle and lower sections. The cooperating flanges may be L-shaped, J-shaped, or other configurations known in the art to allow for the periphery of one section to “catch” on the periphery of an adjacent section. As shown in FIG. 6, upper section 16 has an L-shaped radially outward extending circumferential flange 34. The flange 34 assists in guiding the upper section 16 in its telescoping relationship with middle section 14 and also provides a stop to prevent the upper section from being pulled out of the middle section when it abuts with L-shaped radially inward extending top flange or lip 38 on middle section 14. Note that the radially inward extending circumferential flange 38 engages the flange 34 to prevent the top section 16 from being withdrawn from the middle section 14. Similarly, the middle section 14 is restrained within the lower section 12 by engagement of the L-shaped radially outward extending circumferential flange 32 with the L-shaped radially inward extending circumferential flange 40 of the lower section 12.

[0034] Alternately, an inner nested section (e.g., upper section 16) may have a peripheral circumference along its lower edge that is slightly larger than the peripheral circumference of the corresponding upper edge of its adjacent outer section (e.g., middle section), thereby allowing the two sections to fit snuggly together but not pull apart from each other (FIG. 15). Rather than forming each section with flanges, the upper and lower edges of each mating section may include separately molded bushings/rings that serve as the stopping mechanism (FIG. 13). In such case, during manufacture, the upper, middle, and lower sections may be formed as tubes and the flanges may be formed in the bushings/rings attached to the upper and lower edges of the tubes. Other devices for providing a stop mechanism between corresponding nesting sections may also be provided as known in the art. For example, spring-biased locking pins may be used to retain the sections in the expanded configuration and to prevent the sections from separating as described in more detail hereafter with respect to FIGS. 13 and 14.

[0035] When telescoped inwardly, the sections nest within each other and come to a rest in a fully collapsed position. The lower section 12 is formed with a smaller diameter at its base indicated at 28 and with a circumferential stepped area 30 connecting the base 28 to the lower section 12. While the illustrated embodiments shows two steps at 30, it will be appreciated that only one step is actually necessary for the purpose to be described. The step 30 provides a resting point for the middle section 14 when the middle section is telescoped into the lower section 12. In this regard, the middle section has a lower outwardly extending circumferential flange 32 that rests on the step 30 when the middle section is collapsed into the lower section 12. It will be noted that the middle section 14 does not have an internal stepped portion. In the collapsed configuration, the upper section 16 is supported in its collapsed position by the handle support 36 coming to rest on the upper edge 38 of the middle section 14, although a similar configuration of a internal stepped portion may be provided for nesting the upper section into the middle section.

[0036] In one embodiment, when the sections 12, 14, 16 are extended to form the container in the shape shown in FIG. 1, the three independent sections are retained in position by rotation of the sections with respect to each other. Referring to FIG. 10, it can be seen that the radially inward extending circumferential flanges 38, 40 are each formed with a plurality of semicircular grooves 44 that are designed to allow passage of a semicircular elongated rib 46 that is formed on the inner mating section. A pair of such elongated semicircular ribs is shown at 46 in FIG. 6. The cutaway view of FIG. 10 illustrates one of the ribs 42 moving between a position at A and a position at B when the structure such as the upper member 16 is fully extended. In the embodiment illustrated, a groove is formed at the lower end of each of the ribs 46 so that when the section containing the rib 46 is fully extended, the groove can be aligned with the radially inward extending lip such as lip 38 and allow the upper section to be rotated from the position shown at A to the position shown at B in FIG. 10. Once the upper section is rotated with regard to the middle section 14, the rib 46 is positioned such that it cannot slip downward and allow the two sections to telescope. As will be described hereinafter, the position of the ribs in this rotated orientation is maintained by a pair of bumps formed on the rib 38.

[0037] FIG. 11 shows the bumps that are formed on the inwardly extending lip 38 to prevent rotation of the upper section 16. Note that there are two different sizes of bumps provided on the surface, one bump at 48 which is larger and precludes counterclockwise rotation beyond the semicircular cutout 44 and a smaller bump at 50 which serves as a deterrent but does not prevent the ridge from being rotated past the bump. Another bump at 52 precludes further rotation of the inner section 16 with regard to the middle section 14. The bump 50 is of such height as to require a small amount of effort in order to unlock the inner section from the middle section and allow the two sections to be moved to permit collapsing one into the other.

[0038] FIG. 12 is a partial cutaway view showing how the vertically oriented and outwardly extending semi-circular rib 46 has a locking slot at 54 which rides in the inwardly extending circumferential lip 38 as described with respect with to FIG. 11.

[0039] FIG. 7 is an enlarged view of the area 7 of FIG. 6 showing the relationship between the radially inward extending upper flanges 38 and 40 and illustrating one of the bumps 48 which control rotation of the sections with respect to each other.

[0040] Similarly, FIG. 9 is an enlarged view of the area indicated at 9 in FIG. 6 illustrating one form of construction of the lower section 12 and the mating of the outwardly extending flange 32 with the ridge 30. What is best seen in this illustration is that the base 28 of the bottom section 12 is preferably formed as an independent section and thereafter attached to the cylindrical portion of the middle section 12 by rivets at circumferential locations such as indicated at 50.

[0041] Referring again to FIG. 6, it will be seen that the base 28 of the container is formed with a plurality of structural elements 54 and 56. The elements 56 are the wheel wells for receiving the wheels 24. The element 54 supports the bottom of a golf bag above the wheel wells while also providing the additional structural rigidity for the bottom of the container.

[0042] Turning now to FIGS. 13 and 14, in an alternate embodiment, rather than retaining the three independent sections in position by rotation of the sections with respect to each other, spring-loaded locking pins are provided. The locking pins are preferably located in the peripheral bushings for each mating section, although they could be located in the tubular sections themselves. Specifically, the bottom peripheral bushing 16b of upper section 16 houses locking pin 15 and associated mechanisms and the bottom peripheral bushing 14b of middle section 14 houses locking pin 17 and associated mechanisms. Correspondingly, the upper peripheral bushing 14a for middle section 14 receives locking pin 15 of the bottom peripheral bushing 16b of upper section 16 while the upper peripheral bushing 12a for lower section 12 receives locking pin 17 of the bottom peripheral bushing 14b of middle section 14. The top peripheral bushing 16a of the upper section 16 houses the release trigger 19 for the locking pins which may be in the form of a handle, lever, button, or the like.

[0043] The embodiment in FIG. 13 also includes handles 11a and 11b. The handles 11a and 11b are shown located in the lid 18 and base 12b, respectively.

[0044] FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view of the spring-loaded locking mechanism and release. Release trigger 19 releases locking pin 15 with a release mechanism 23 that includes a plunger 23a, spring 23b, and ramp 23c to unlatch locking pin 15. As upper section 16 telescopes into middle section 14, the bottom peripheral bushing 16b activates release mechanism 25 by contacting a trip switch 25a connected to a ramp 25b and spring 25c, thereby unlatching locking pin 17.

[0045] The sections 16 and 14 may be further provided with a cover plate 21 having flute detail to create a runner track to prevent racking and to conceal release mechanisms 23 and 25.

[0046] Turning now to FIG. 15, in another alternate embodiment, at least one internal telescoping tube assembly 60 (FIGS. 16 and 17) is provided for securing the container sections 12, 14, 16 in the expanded positions. The internal assembly allows for the exterior of the container to be free from mechanisms for telescoping the sections allowing for a cleaner look to the exterior of the container. The inner nested sections (e.g., upper section 16 and middle section 14) have a peripheral circumference along the lower edge that is slightly larger than the peripheral circumference of the corresponding upper edge of its adjacent outer section, thereby allowing the two sections to fit snuggly together but not pull apart from each other. The peripheral circumference may be formed as an outwardly extending lip. A handle may be incorporated into the bottom section as shown.

[0047] The tube assembly 60 is disposed within and secured to container 10 parallel to the vertical walls of the container. The tube assembly 60 includes a plurality of tubes equal to the number of container sections. For example, a three-section container would have three tubes in its tube assembly, namely a bottom tube 61, a middle tube 62, and a top tube 63. The tube assembly 60 contains stops 64a and 64b and lock assemblies 65a and 65b for locking the bottom tube 61, the middle tube 62, and the top tube 63 in predetermined positions, e.g., in an extended/expanded and a retracted/collapsed position. A pin/plunger 66 communicates with lock assembly 65b to release the tubes into the retracted position. The locking assemblies 65a and 65b generally include mechanisms to lock the tubes including latching members, plungers, and springs. A release mechanism/trigger 19 is connected to the pin/plunger 66 of the tube assemblies and allows an operator to activate the locks for the assemblies at the same time.

[0048] In a particular example shown in FIG. 17, a pair of telescoping tube assemblies 60 are provided for securing the container sections 12, 14, 16 in the expanded positions. Each assembly 60 includes three telescoping tubes, namely a bottom tube 61, a middle tube 62, and a top tube 63. The bottom tubes 61 receive the middle tubes 62 which have an outside diameter smaller than the inside diameter of the bottom tubes 61. The middle tubes 62 receive the top tubes 63 which have an outside diameter smaller than the inside diameter of the middle tube 62. To prevent the tubes from separating completely, for each connected tube, there is a stop portion 64a and 64b (FIG. 16). Each stop portion 64a and 64b lies at the top end of a tube; and it cooperates with a corresponding lock assembly 65a and 65b at the bottom end of an adjacent connected tube. The bottom tubes 61 are attached to the bottom section 12 or to the base 12b. The top tubes are attached to the top section 16 or to the top periphery 16a.

[0049] Each tube assembly 60 contains a locking assembly 65 for locking the bottom tube 61, the middle tube 62, and the top tube 63 in predetermined positions. Alternatively, the present invention may include a locking assembly disposed in only one of the pair of tube assemblies 60.

[0050] The tubes are made of suitable material of high strength and rigidity, such as stainless steel, aluminum, plastic or the like. Although the embodiment shown includes elongate tubes of rectangular cross-section, an alternative embodiment may incorporate tubes having one of a wide variety of other cross-sectional configurations, including round, square, or irregular elongate tubes.

[0051] The invention as thus far described comprises three telescoping sections, each of which can lock with respect to the other sections in order to allow the sections to be pulled apart into an expanded configuration. While particular embodiments for achieving this desirable are illustrated, it will be appreciated that other structures may be utilized to effect the sliding and locking arrangement of the telescoping sections. For example, the longitudinally extending ribs may be shortened rather than extending substantially along the length of each section. Further, the arrangement could be provided with more ribs than are illustrated to provide additional rigidity to each of the sections. Still further, the container could be made with more than three sections in order to allow the container to be collapsed to an even smaller length. The container may also be provided with a strap connected from a bottom end of the container to a top end of the container to facilitate carrying of the container with the golf bag loaded in the container. Also, it may be possible to structure the container with a handle located on the outside closer to the middle portion of the container to allow the container to be carried in one hand. Such a handle may be formed as collapsible so that it does not interfere with the telescoping of the various sections of the container. Alternately, the handle may be of a type that fits into a recess in one of the sections of the container. It should be recognized that the container can be constructed of various materials, preferably of relatively lightweight and durable material. Accordingly, what is intended to be protected by this application is the construction and arrangement of a telescoping hard side container for a golf bag which can be expanded and locked into a full size configuration by pulling one section from another and locking each respective section into position with regard to another section.

[0052] It will become apparent to those skilled in the art that many changes, modifications, variations, and other uses and application of the subject container are possible and contemplated. All changes, modifications, variations, and other uses and applications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention are deemed to be covered by the invention, which is limited only by the claims which follow.





 
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