Title:
Stowable armrest for vehicle seat
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stowable armrest which may be moved from: (i) a lowered, operating position; (ii) to a raised position in which the armrest generally lies in a plane which is to the rear of and substantially parallel to a plane of the back portion of the seat; and (iii) then to a final stowed position in which the armrest is located rearwardly of the back portion of the seat. Armrest movement from the raised position to the stowed position may be accomplished while maintaining the armrest in the stowing plane.



Inventors:
Ropp, Dale (Buda, IL, US)
Brodersen, Cole T. (Davenport, IA, US)
Application Number:
10/843499
Publication Date:
12/01/2005
Filing Date:
05/10/2004
Assignee:
Sears Manufacturing Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/50; A47C7/54; A47C13/00; A47C17/04; A47C20/00; B60N2/75; (IPC1-7): A47C13/00; A47C7/50; A47C17/04; A47C20/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
GARRETT, ERIKA P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Thomas G. Scavone (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
1. An armrest assembly for a vehicle seat comprising: an armrest support bracket adapted for mounting in fixed position relative to the seat; and an armrest having a base end and a free end, the base end of the armrest being pivotally connected to the support bracket; said armrest being movable in a rearward direction from an operative position suitable for use by a seat occupant to an intermediate stowed position with the armrest extending upwardly; said armrest also being movable in a lateral direction from said intermediate stowed position toward the center line of the seat to a final stowed position.

2. A stowable armrest for a vehicle seat, comprising: a main bracket attached to the seat, the armrest rotatably coupled to the main bracket, wherein the armrest may be moved from a lowered, operating position in which the armrest extends in a generally horizontal orientation, to a raised position; and a swing pivot pin, wherein when the armrest is in the raised position, the armrest is located in a stowing plane which is to the rear of the back portion of the seat; whereby the armrest may be moved about the swing pivot pin, while maintaining the armrest in the stowing plane, to locate the armrest in a fully stowed position rearward of the back portion of the seat.

3. The stowable armrest of claim 2, wherein the armrest rotates about a main pivot pin associated with the main bracket, the main pivot pin being oriented in an axial direction generally normal to the length of the armrest.

4. The stowable armrest of claim 3, wherein the swing pivot pin couples the main pivot pin to a swing bracket connected to the armrest.

5. The stowable armrest of claim 4, wherein the armrest may rotate in a limited fashion with respect to the swing bracket.

6. The stowable armrest of claim 4, wherein when armrest is in the operating position the armrest is supported at least in part by the main pivot pin and by an armrest pivot pin connected to the swing bracket.

7. The stowable armrest of claim 6, wherein the armrest pivot pin includes a rotation stop allowing the armrest limited rotation with respect to the swing bracket.

8. The stowable armrest of claim 2, further comprising means for guiding the armrest during its travel from the fully raised position to the stowed position, so that the armrest remains in the stowing plane.

9. The stowable armrest of claim 8, wherein the means for guiding comprises ribs located on the swing bracket.

10. The stowable armrest of claim 3, further comprising a mechanism for guiding the armrest during its travel from the raised position to the stowed position, so that the armrest is caused to remain in the stowing plane, the mechanism comprising swing ribs at least partially covering the main pivot pin.

11. A method for stowing an armrest behind a seat having a back portion, comprising the steps of: rotating the armrest about a main bracket attached to the seat so that the armrest moves from a lowered, operating position in which the armrest extends in front of the back portion of the seat, to a raised position in which the armrest generally lies in a stowing plane which is to the rear of and substantially parallel to the back portion of the seat; and swinging the armrest laterally toward the center line of the seat from the raised position to a stowed position rearward of the back portion of the seat, while maintaining the armrest in the stowing plane.

12. The method for stowing an armrest of claim 11, wherein the armrest can be rotated rearward from the operating position through an arc greater than 90°.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a stowable armrest. More specifically, the invention relates to an armrest for a vehicle seat which may be readily stowed behind the seat to improve access to the area behind the seat.

In recent years, the space between front seats in vehicles, particularly truck cabs for example, has become more crowded. The proliferation of electronic and other equipment located between or on the armrests of the seats contributes to this congestion. Often, truckers have a sleeping area located in the cab behind the vehicle seats, but the limited space between the seats may make it difficult to access this area.

The present invention is directed to this problem of freeing up space between vehicle seats, where armrests are normally permanently located.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes disadvantages of prior armrests, while providing new advantages not previously obtainable.

In one embodiment of the present invention, an armrest assembly is provided for a vehicle seat. The armrest assembly comprises an armrest support bracket adapted for mounting in fixed position relative to the seat; and an armrest having a base end and a free end, the base end of the armrest being pivotally connected to the support bracket. The armrest is movable in a rearward direction from an operative position suitable for use by a seat occupant to an intermediate stowed position with the armrest extending upwardly; the armrest is also movable in a lateral direction from the intermediate stowed position toward the center line of the seat to a final stowed position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The novel features which are characteristic of the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, together with further objects and attendant advantages thereof, will be best understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a partial perspective showing a right-hand armrest of a preferred embodiment of the present invention in the operating or “down” position, adjacent the front portion of a vehicle seat partially shown in cut-away to reveal the connection between the armrest and the seat;

FIG. 2 is a rear perspective view of the armrest as in FIG. 1 showing the armrest in a partially raised orientation;

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view showing the armrest in a fully raised intermediate stowed position;

FIG. 4 is a rear perspective view showing the armrest in the fully or final stowed position; and

FIG. 5 is an exploded view illustrating the components of the armrest and armrest support in one preferred embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Set forth below is a description of what is currently believed to be the preferred embodiment of the invention claimed. Alternatives and modifications to this preferred embodiment are contemplated. Any alternatives or modifications which make insubstantial changes in function, in purpose, in structure or in result are intended to be covered by the claims of this patent.

Referring first to FIG. 1, the armrest which forms the preferred embodiment of the present invention is designated generally by the reference numeral 20, and is designed to move from the illustrated operative position to a fully stowed position behind vehicle seat 10, as described below.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 5, armrest 20 includes a base end 22 and a free end 24, and is pivotally connected at its base end 22 to the seat 10 by means of an armrest support assembly designated generally as 26. The support assembly 26 is suitably secured to the seat 10 by conventional means well known to those of skill in the art and comprises a swing bracket 40, main pin 50 and main bracket 60 as its principal components.

The armrest 20 is mounted in a conventional manner to pivot pin 30 which includes a stop pin 31 to limit the angular orientation of the armrest in its operative position, again in a manner well known in the art.

Pivot pin 30 is rigidly attached to swing bracket 40. Swing pin 43 passes through apertures 41, 51, connecting main pin 50 with swing bracket 40. The other end of main pin 50 is retained within pivot tube 67 on main bracket 60. Main bracket 60 also includes stop pin 63. Suitable devices, such as a keeper spring, e.g., a spring clip (not shown), may be used to retain main pin 50 within the pivot tube during use.

In operation, armrest 10 is movable rearwardly from the operating, “down” position shown in FIG. 1 through the position shown in FIG. 2 and then to the intermediate stowed position shown in FIG. 3. When the armrest is in the operating position, notch 42 of swing bracket 40 (see FIG. 5), engages the annular recess 62 of stop pin 63. In this manner, stop pin 63 and main pin 50 support armrest 20 during use.

Armrest 20 may rotate upwardly and rearwardly about main pin 50 with respect to seat 10. This rotation may be effected by applying an upward force on the distal portion 24 of armrest 20. This will cause armrest 20 to rotate about main pin 50, rotating within pivot tube 67, to the intermediate raised position shown in FIG. 3, which may constitute a rotation of about 107° in the preferred embodiment.

When in the raised position shown in FIG. 3, armrest 20 may be easily moved to the final stowed position behind seat 10. For this purpose it is preferred that main bracket 60 have a configuration, as shown, which allows armrest 20 and its swing pivot point to be located in a plane generally rear of the plane of the seat. To move the armrest laterally toward the centerline of seat 10 and to its final stowed position behind the seat, a laterally directed inward force is applied to distal portion 24 of the armrest. As this occurs, opposed flanges 44, which may be located on the underside of swing bracket 40, rotate past pin 50 and pivot tube 67, ensuring that armrest 20 moves in a position generally parallel to the seat back. Flanges 44 may have an arcuate perimeter but each end of the perimeter serves as a limit stop for lateral rotation of the armrest.

It will be understood that modifications may be made to the preferred embodiment disclosed, to change the rotational movement of the armrest from the operating position to the fully raised position, from 107° to other rotational ranges. It will also be understood that the devices disclosed may be modified to enhance the swing range of the armrest, so that it may be stowed at any angular position relative to the horizontal.

It should also be understood that other mechanisms may be employed to achieve rotation of the armrest to a raised position, and then swinging of the armrest to a position behind the seat. Such mechanisms include but are not limited to a ball joint or universal pivot mechanism, and other equivalent structures well known to those skilled in the art.

The above description is not intended to limit the meaning of the words used in the following claims that define the invention. Rather, it is contemplated that future modifications in structure, function or result will exist that are not substantial changes and that all such insubstantial changes in what is claimed are intended to be covered by the claims.





 
Previous Patent: Furniture piece

Next Patent: Seat weight measuring apparatus