Title:
Thermal container with pedal operated lid
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The thermal container in accordance with the present invention is a portable thermal chest such as a cooler having a pedal-operated hinged lid. An articulated linkage is provided between a foot-operated pedal and the hinged top of the chest to allow the chest to be conveniently opened without use of the user's hands.



Inventors:
Jackson, Helen (Dunn, NC, US)
Application Number:
10/999961
Publication Date:
04/14/2005
Filing Date:
12/01/2004
Assignee:
JACKSON HELEN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/465
International Classes:
A45C13/34; B65F1/16; F25D3/08; A45C11/20; F25D23/02; (IPC1-7): F25D25/00; B65D41/16; B65D41/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CASTELLANO, STEPHEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard C. Litman (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A portable thermal chest comprising: a chest body having a front wall, a rear wall, a pair of opposing side walls, and a bottom wall, said front wall and said rear wall and said bottom wall and said pair of opposing side walls being joined to form an open compartment having an upper rim, the length of said front and said rear walls being greater than their height; a lid hingedly joined to said rear wall to selectively close said lid against said rim, closing said compartment; an articulated linkage system operably attached between said lid and at least one of said side walls; and a foot pedal operably attached to said articulated linkage system for selectively opening said lid; whereby, upon a user stepping downward on said foot pedal, said articulated linkage system operates to open said lid; and whereby, upon a user lifting their foot from said foot pedal, said lid closes against said rim under its own weight.

2. The portable thermal chest of claim 1, said articulated linkage system comprising: a U-shaped bar having a front portion and side portions, said side portions having corresponding end portions, said U-shaped bar being pivotally joined to each of said chest side walls, said foot pedal being joined to said front portion of said U-shaped bar, a pair of lift arms, each of said lift arms having an upper end portion and a lower end portion, said lift arm lower end portions being pivotally joined to different ones of said end portions of said U-shape bar, said lift arms being pivotally joined at their upper ends to said lid; whereby depressing said pedal will cause said U-shaped bar to pivot, lifting said lift arms and consequently said lid to an open position.

3. The portable thermal chest of claim 2, wherein each of said lift arms is pivotally joined to said lid at a point spaced from said chest rear wall, said spacing being less than the remaining spacing along said lid from said chest front wall.

4. The portable thermal chest of claim 1, wherein said heights of said chest rear wall, said chest front wall, and said chest sidewalls are equally spaced from said bottom wall, said chest rear wall, said chest front wall, and said chest sidewalls forming a flat said rim sealingly supporting said lid.

5. The thermal chest of claim 3, wherein said pair of lift arms are inclined upwardly from said chest rear wall to points spaced from said chest front wall.

6. The thermal chest of claim 5, wherein each of said lift arms is positioned along the exterior of said chest sidewalls.

7. The thermal chest of claim 6, wherein said front portion of said U-shaped bar is positioned along the exterior of said chest front wall and said side portions are positioned along the exterior of each of corresponding said chest sidewalls.

8. The thermal chest of claim 1, wherein said thermal chest is rectangular in shape.

9. The thermal chest of claim 1, wherein said chest front wall, said chest back wall, said chest sidewalls, said chest bottom wall, and said lid are each made of lightweight material.

10. The thermal chest of claim 9, wherein said lightweight material insulation-cored plastic or aluminum.

11. The thermal chest of claim 10, wherein said insulation is polymeric foam.

12. A portable thermal chest comprising; a container body having a bottom wall a front wall, a rear wall, and opposed sidewalls forming an upper rim, and a hinged lid pivotally attached to said container body for selectively closing said chest, said front wall and said rear wall being smaller in height than in width; a manipulating mechanism comprising: a U-shaped bar, said U-shaped bar being pivotally joined to each of said body side walls; a pair of lift arms having upper end portions and lower portions, each said lift arm being pivotally joined at a lower said end portion to different ones of the end portions of said U-shaped bar, and at an upper said end portion to said hinged lid; and a pedal; said pedal being attached to said U-shaped bar; whereby depressing said pedal causes said hinged lid to open.

13. The portable thermal chest of claim 12, wherein said U-shaped bar is positioned along the exterior of said body front wall and each of said body sidewalls, whereby the ends of said U-shaped bar are positioned along the exterior of said body sidewalls and the center of said U-shaped bar is positioned along the exterior of said body front wall.

14. The portable thermal chest of claim 12, wherein said pair of lift arms are inclined upwardly from said body rear wall to said body front wall.

15. The portable thermal chest of claim 12, wherein said pair of lift arms are pivotally joined at their respective said upper ends to said hinged lid at points spaced from said body rear wall, the spacing defined thereby defined between said lift arms and said body front wall being greater than said spacing from said body rear wall.

16. The portable thermal chest of claim 12, wherein said pedal is joined to the center portion of said U-shaped bar.

17. The portable thermal chest of claim 12, further comprising a first pair of axles, said first pair of axles each opposingly joined at one end to said U-shaped bar and opposingly joined at the opposite end to different ones of said body side walls, whereby said U-shaped bar is pivotable in relation to said body side walls.

18. The portable thermal chest of claim 17, further comprising a second pair of axles, said second pair of axles each opposingly joined at one end to different said lift arms and opposingly joined to said hinged lid, whereby said lift arms are pivotable in relation to said hinged lid.

19. A portable thermal chest comprising: a chest body having a front wall, a rear wall, a pair of opposing side walls, and a bottom wall, said front wall and said rear wall and said bottom wall and said pair of opposing sidewalls being joined to form an open compartment having an upper rim, the length of said front and said rear walls being greater than their height; a lid hingedly joined to said rear wall to selectively close said lid against said rim, closing said compartment; an articulated linkage system operably attached between said lid and at least one of said side walls; and a foot pedal operably attached to said articulated linkage system for selectively opening said lid; said a U-shaped bar having a front portion and side portions, said side portion having corresponding end portions, said U-shaped bar being pivotally joined to each of said chest side walls, said foot pedal being joined to said front portion of said U-shaped bar, a pair of lift arms, each of said lift arms having an upper end portion and a lower end portion, said lift arm lower end portions being pivotally joined to different ones of said end portions of said U-shape bar, said lift arms being pivotally joined at their upper ends to said lid; whereby depressing said pedal will cause said U-shaped bar to pivot, lifting said lift arms and consequently said lid to an open position.

20. The portable thermal chest of claim 19, wherein each of said lift arms is pivotally joined to said lid a at a point spaced from said chest rear wall, said spacing being less than the remaining spacing along said lid from said chest front wall, said thermal chest being rectangular in shape, said chest front wall, said chest back wall, said chest sidewalls, said chest bottom wall, and said lid each being made of lightweight material, said lightweight material being insulation-cored plastic or aluminum.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in part of application Ser. No. 10/114,635, filed Apr. 3, 20002.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to thermally insulated containers. More particularly, the present invention relates to portable thermal chests such as picnic coolers.

2. Description of the Related Art

A number of companies including Coleman® and Igloo® manufacture portable thermal chests or coolers. Such coolers are frequently fabricated as a double-wall chest with a thermal foam filling and removable or hinged lid. They are frequently constructed of lightweight materials, such as molded plastic or stamped aluminum, to keep loaded as well as unloaded weight to a minimum.

If an individual has his/her arms or hands full, operating a lid for the purpose of accessing the interior compartment is difficult or impossible, since no provision for “hands-free” operation. Either the operator must put the objects down, or rely on assistance from second individual. An example would be a fisherman/women who has a wriggling fish in one hand and a rod in the other.

Many containers are manufacture for holding hazardous waste or trash that employ foot pedal-operated hinged lids. For example United Receptacle of Pottsville Pennsylvania manufactures “Square Step Cans” with positive leverage foot pedals that allow for “hands-free” operation.

It would be desirable to provide a thermal chest having a design which provides for “hands-free” operation of the hinged lid. Such a chest would have the advantage of relieving the user from setting down items or foodstuffs before opening the lid, providing for ease of use, avoidance of contamination, and avoidance of the risk of dropping breakable items while attempting to operate the lid.

Thus, a thermal container which is designed to avoid the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The thermal container in accordance with the present invention is a portable thermal chest having a pedal-operated hinged lid. An articulated linkage is provided between a foot-operated pedal and the hinged top of the chest to allow the chest to be conveniently opened without use of the user's hands.

It is an aspect of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.

These and other aspects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a thermal container with pedal operated lid according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the thermal container of FIG. 1 with the lid in an open position.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the thermal container of FIG. 1.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention is a portable thermal chest having a foot pedal-operated hinged lid.

Referring to the Figures, pedal-operated thermal chest system 10 includes a thermal chest 12 having a hinged lid 14 having end portions 15. Thermal chest 12 has a thermal chest body 16 of generally rectangular shaped and having thermal chest end walls 18 thermal chest front wall, and thermal chest rear wall of equal heights defining thermal chest upper rim 24. Thermal chest hinged lid 14 has a lid front portion 25. Thermal chest bottom wall connects end walls, front wall, and rear wall 22 to form thermal chest body 16.

A lid manipulating mechanism is provided by articulated linkage system 30 having a pedal 32 mounted thereon is attached to thermal chest 12 to allow foot-operated, hinged lifting of lid 14. Articulated linkage system 30 includes a pedal 32, a “U” shaped pedal link extending around the exterior of front wall 20 and the exterior of sidewalls 18 of chest body 16, and a lid lift arm 42 along the exterior of sidewalls 18. The “U” spaced pedal link has a pedal link front portion 36 extending along the front wall of thermal chest body 16 and pedal link side portions 38 extending along the thermal chest opposed end walls 18. Lid lift arms 42 are rotatably attached to respective opposed hinged lid end portions 15 by lift arm lid axles 44 at lift arm upper end portions 46. Lid lift arms 42 are attached at their lower end portions 48 to “U” shaped pedal link end portions 52 at linkage joint axles 50. The “U” shaped pedal link 34 is rotatably attached to thermal chest endwalls 18 spaced upward from thermal chest bottom wall 28 by pedal link pivot axles 40. Hinged lid 14 is rotatably attached to thermal chest rear wall 22 by hinges 54 so as to sealingly engage upper rim 24 when in a closed position.

In operation, the user steps on foot pedal 32, which rotates side portion 38 of “U” shaped pedal link 34 around pedal link pivot axles 40. This causes lid lift arms 42 to be urged upward, lifting lid 14 at lift arm lid axles 44. As pedal 32 is urged downward though its full travel, lid lift arms 42 extend lid 14 to its full open position as shown in FIG. 2. The user may the place perishable items in ice I therein. The lid 14 will then close by its own weight acting on articulated linkage system 30 until it seals against thermal chest upper rim 24.

The pedal link pivot axle is preferably located toward the front wall, resulting in a mechanical advantage with respect to the relative travel of the lift arms 42, so that a small amount of travel of the pedal 32 results in significantly more travel at the lid end portions 15, thus raising and opening hinged lid 14 to a convenient open angle for easy access to the inside of thermal chest 12.

The pedal linkage 34 is preferably made of rigid metal strips formed accordingly. The chest body and lid are of lightweight materials, preferably of sandwiched stiff plastic or aluminum sheet and insulating foam.

The resulting inventive thermal chest system 10 has advantages including allowing the lid of the thermal chest to be opened by stepping on or otherwise operating the pedal without using the hands, enabling lid operation while the user's arms are fully loaded. Other advantages include avoidance of contamination of the items to be stored therein by eliminating the need to set them down to open the lid of the thermal chest, and avoidance of the possibility of dropping items while attempting to open the thermal chest lid while the user's hands are occupied by holding the items. The thermal chest system of the present invention may be of any convenient size, but is most desirable in a large capacity portable thermal chest useful in storing food items or to easily receive fresh-caught fish while still on the fishing line or removed and still alive.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiment described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.