Title:
Bench-type waste transfer arrangement
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-contained sanitary system includes a stand alone bench carrying a toilet with a flush tank for storing a source of flush water. The system further includes a holding tank. The holding tank is removably associated with the toilet and includes a pair of wheels and a retractable handle.



Inventors:
Delaney, Dan (Pinckney, MI, US)
Exner, Greg (Woodhaven, MI, US)
Fritz, Michael B. (Oconomowoc, WI, US)
Good, Mark D. (Ann Arbor, IL, US)
Grech, George (Garden City, MI, US)
Smith, Jason (West Bloomfield, MI, US)
Wissinger, John (Gregory, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/159063
Publication Date:
12/29/2005
Filing Date:
06/22/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D1/00; E03D7/00; (IPC1-7): E03D1/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HARNESS DICKEY (TROY) (Troy, MI, US)
Claims:
1. A self-contained sanitary system, the system comprising: a stand alone bench defining a storage area; a toilet carried by the housing, the toilet having a bowl with a discharge; and a removable holding tank removably positionable within the storage area.

2. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 1, wherein the bench includes a housing, the housing having at least one side carrying a door, the door operative to provide access to the storage area for insertion and removal of the holding tank.

3. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 1, wherein the bench includes a load bearing tubular frame for supporting the removable holding tank.

4. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 1, wherein the load bearing tubular frame defines a closed loop.

5. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 1, wherein the load bearing tubular frame includes a pair of handle portions oriented generally horizontal.

6. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 5, wherein the tubular frame further includes a plurality of feet.

7. A self-contained sanitary system, the system comprising: a stand alone bench; a toilet carried by the bench; wherein the bench includes a load bearing frame and a plastic housing.

8. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 7, wherein the load bearing frame integrally includes a pair of support handles.

9. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 8, wherein the pair of support handles are oriented generally horizontal and positioned above an upper surface of the housing.

10. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 7, wherein the frame is constructed of tubular steel.

11. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 7, wherein the frame is constructed of a closed loop of a tubular material.

12. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 7, wherein the frame includes a plurality of discrete tubular components connected to one another.

13. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 12, wherein the plurality of discrete tubular components includes four or less components.

14. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 11, wherein the plurality of discrete tubular components includes no more than two distinct tubular components.

15. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 12, wherein the frame includes at least one lower component defining at least two foot portions.

16. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 15, wherein the frame includes a pair of handles removable connected to the at least one lower component.

17. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 12, wherein the frame includes at least one lower component including a pair of upwardly extending segments and further comprising a brace member interconnecting the upwardly extending segments.

18. A self-contained sanitary system, the system comprising: a stand alone bench carrying a toilet, the bench defining a storage chamber; and a holding tank removably associated with the toilet when positioned in the storage chamber; wherein the bench includes a load bearing frame and a plastic housing.

19. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 18, wherein the frame is constructed of tubular steel.

20. The self-contained sanitary system of claim 16, wherein the frame is constructed of a closed loop of a tubular material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/582,327 filed on Jun. 23, 2004. The disclosure of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/582,327 is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to sanitary systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to a self-contained sanitary system having a removable holding tank.

BACKGROUND

U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,776,631; 4,892,349; 5,031,249; 5,318,275; and 6,189,161, all owned by the assignee of this application, show various examples of self-contained toilet systems of the type including a waste receptacle having a downwardly directed outlet opening and a storage compartment defined and located below the outlet opening along with a waste holding tank removably disposed within the storage compartment. These systems enable a user to remove the holding tank from the system. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,776,631; 4,892,349; 5,031,249; 5,318,275; and 6,189,161 are each incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

Waste disposal systems utilizing a removable holding tank are generally known. For example, waste disposal systems utilizing a removable holding tank have been in extensive use in vehicles such as recreational vehicles (“RVs” in the United States and “Caravans” in Europe) for a number of years. These systems, such as those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,776,631; 4,892,349; 5,031,249; 5,318,275; and 6,189,161, have proven to be effective and convenient, and have resultantly become popular in the marketplace.

It remains a need in the area of waste transfer to provide a stand alone waste transfer arrangement having a removable holding tank that provides improved accessibility and functionality for mobility limited users.

SUMMARY

In one form, the present invention provides a self-contained sanitary system including a stand alone bench, a toilet and a removable holding tank. The stand alone bench defines a storage area. The toilet is carried by the housing and has a bowl with a discharge. The removable holding tank is removably positionable with the storage area.

In another form, the present invention provides a self-contained sanitary system including a stand alone bench and a toilet. The toilet is carried by the bench. The bench includes a load bearing frame and a plastic housing.

In another form, the present invention provides a self-contained sanitary system including a stand alone bench carrying a toilet. The bench defines a storage chamber. The system further includes a holding tank removably associated with the toilet when positioned in the storage chamber. The bench includes a load bearing frame and a plastic housing.

Further areas of applicability of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description provided hereinafter. It should be understood that the detailed description and specific examples, while indicating the preferred embodiment of the invention, are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will become more fully understood from the detailed description and the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a self-contained sanitary system constructed in accordance with the teachings of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of the self-contained sanitary system of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the self-contained sanitary system of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a rear view of the self-contained sanitary system of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the self-contained sanitary system of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the self-contained sanitary system of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the frame and bracing members of the self-contained sanitary system of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is an enlarged and exploded view illustrating the interconnection between the tubular components of the frame.

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view taken through the inner bench portion, the base member, the toilet and the removable holding tank.

FIG. 10 is an enlarged detailed view further illustrating the area A of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the holding tank of the self-contained sanitary system of the present invention shown removed from the bench for purposes of illustration.

FIG. 12 is a top view of the holding tank of FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is another perspective view of the holding tank of FIG. 11, illustrated with a closure plate translated to an open position.

FIG. 14 is a side view of the holding tank of FIG. 11, illustrated with a handle of the holding tank extended and the holding tank oriented for transportation.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a base of the self-contained sanitary system for a motor vehicle of the present invention.

FIG. 16 is a bottom view of the holding tank.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

The following description of the embodiment(s) is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the invention, its application, or uses.

With reference to FIGS. 1-16 of the drawings, a self-contained sanitary system according to principles of the invention is illustrated and generally identified at reference character 10. The self-contained sanitary system 10 is generally shown to include a bench or bench section 12, a base member 14, a holding tank 16 and a toilet 18. As will become more apparent below, holding tank 16 is removably stowed between the bench section 12 and the base member 14 in a stowage compartment 20 (see FIG. 9, for example). In this stowed position, the holding tank 16 is in fluid communication with the toilet 18.

The bench 12 may be a stand alone structure. In certain embodiments, the bench 12 may include an outer bench portion 22 and an inner bench portion 24. The inner bench portion 24 may cooperate with the toilet 18 to define a subassembly that is received by the outer bench portion 22. The outer bench portion 22 may include a housing 26 and a frame 28.

In certain embodiments, the bench section 12 of the sanitary system 10 may be elongated in a lateral direction and include two lateral sides 30. As shown particularly in FIGS. 1 and 3, at least one of the lateral sides 30 may be provided with an access door 32. In certain applications, it may be desirable to provide both lateral sides 30 with an access door 32 for purposes of flexibility. The access door 32 provides access to the storage area 20 for insertion and removal of the holding tank 16.

The access door 32 will be understood to be secured to the bench 12 with hinge and a latch (not specifically shown) or other conventional structure. As a result, the access door 32 is moveable between open (not specifically shown) and closed positions. A handle 34 may be provided to facilitate grasping of the door 32.

Insofar as the bench section 12 is described to be elongated in a lateral direction and include lateral sides 30, such terminology and any related terminology directed to orientation or direction is simply for convenience in description and is not to be construed in a limiting sense affecting the scope of the present invention. Indeed, it is entirely possible that the bench section 12 could be alternatively configured and that insertion and removal of the holding tank 16 could be accomplished in a direction perpendicular to the direction shown and described. For example, in certain applications it may be desirable to provide an access door provided in a rear side of the bench 12.

With particular reference to the perspective view of FIG. 7, the frame 28 of the bench section 12 is illustrated removed from the remainder of the sanitary system 10. In certain embodiments, the frame 28 may be constructed of tubular steel and define a closed loop. As illustrated, the frame 28 may be constructed of a minimal number of total components and a minimal number of distinct components. In certain applications, the frame 28 may be constructed to include four components. These components may include front and rear lower components 36 and 38 and left and right upper components 40 and 42. To reduce the number of distinct components of the sanitary system 10, it will be understood that the front and rear lower components 36 and 38 may be substantially identical. Both of the front and rear lower components may include a pair of upwardly extending segments 44 and 46 and a laterally extending segment 48. The respective upwardly extending segments 44 and 46 are connected to the laterally extending segment 48 through foot portions 50. The laterally extending segments 48 are raised from the foot portions 50 and function to support the base member 14.

The left and right upper components 40 and 42 of the frame 28 are similarly constructed in an identical fashion for purposes of reducing distinct parts of the system 10. Both of the left and right upper components 40 and 42 of the frame 28 may include a pair of downwardly extending segments 52 and 54. The downwardly extending segments 52 and 54 may be connected by an intermediate portion 56. The intermediate portion 56 may extend in a fore and aft direction relative to the system 10 and provide handle structures positioned above the bench 12 for supporting the user.

With particular reference to the exploded view of FIG. 8, the downwardly extending segments 52 of the left and right upper components 40 and 42 of the frame 28 may be constructed to include a reduced diameter portion 58 that is telescopically received within an associated one of the upwardly extending segments 44 or 46 of the front and rear lower components 36 and 38 of the frame 28. Such an arrangement provides quick and removable connection of the components of the frame 28. The components of the frame 28 may be removably secured to one another with a fastener 60 such as a quick release pin, screw or other known structure adapted to cooperate with aligning holes 60 and 64 of the frame 28.

With continued reference to FIG. 7, the frame 28 may be structurally reinforced with one or more structural members or braces 66. In certain embodiments, the frame 28 may be structurally reinforced with a pair of braces 66. A first of the braces 66 may laterally extend between the upwardly extending segments 44 and 46 of the front lower portion 36 of the frame 28. A second brace 66, which may be substantially identically constructed, may extend between the upwardly extending segments 44 and 46 of the rear lower component 38 of the frame 28. The braces 66 may be secured to the frame 28 with screws 68 or other conventional hardware. Alternatively, in certain applications, it may be desirable to weld or otherwise permanently secure the braces 66 to the frame 28. In certain embodiments, the braces 66 may be constructed of steel stampings. In certain applications, it may be desirable to further incorporate a fore and aft extending brace 70 for supporting the intermediate segments 48 of the front and rear lower components 36 and 38 of the frame 28.

The base member 14 is shown particularly in FIG. 14. It will be understood that a lowest part of the base member 14 may disposed and supported on the frame 28. The base member 14 may include a horizontal wall portion 72 disposed on the frame 28 so that this horizontal wall portion 72 is disposed at a level above the floor. Two pans 74 and 76 may be formed in base member 14. The pans 74 and 76 may be identical and symmetrically disposed on either side of the center of wall portion 72. These pans 74 and 76 may have a depth corresponding to the distance of horizontal wall portion 72 above the floor so that the bottoms of the pans 74 and 76 are disposed against the floor. The pans 74 and 76 provide a place for the stowage of chemical containers. These chemical containers may be deodorants or the like which are introduced into the holding tank 18. Typically, these chemicals are added after the holding tank 18 has been dumped, rinsed, and filled with a small amount of water. Therefore, when the tank 18 is brought back to the system 10 in such a condition, the chemicals can be introduced. The containers for the chemicals may then be closed and placed back into the pans 74 and 76 in the base member 14. Then the holding tank 18 is reinstalled in the stowage compartment 20. The tubular frame 28 relieves the load of the tank 18 from these pan structures 74 and 76, thereby permitting the base member 72 to be formed as a plastic part by injection molding. The tank 18 is similarly constructed of a suitable plastic material having a reasonably low coefficient of friction so that the tank 18 can be slid into and out of the stowage compartment 20.

The bench 12 carries the toilet 18 (see FIG. 7, for example). The toilet 18 defines a bowl 78. An associated seat 80 and cover 82 may be hingedly mounted in a conventional manner on the bench 12 adjacent the rear of the bowl 78 for swinging motion about an axis 84 between up and down positions.

The bench 12 may include a flush water storage chamber or tank 86 which surrounds bowl 78. This chamber 86 contains a supply of fresh water for use in flushing of the bowl 78. Operation of the toilet 18 may be electronically or mechanically controlled. The particular manner of control is beyond the scope of the present invention.

The holding tank 16 may have a generally overall rectangular shape with a top wall 110, a sidewall 112, and a bottom wall 114. The top wall 110 may contain a central dome which has a circular opening 116 (see FIG. 11) which is opened and closed by a valve blade 118 within the tank 16. When the tank 16 is stowed within the stowage compartment 20, the opening 118 registers in a sealed manner with the outlet from bowl 78, and the blade 118 controls the passage from the bowl 78 into the holding tank 16. The holding tank opening 116 automatically connect to and disconnects from the toilet bowl outlet in response to movement of the holding tank 16 into and out of the stowage compartment 20.

The holding tank 16 may be provided with a pair of rails 120. The rails 120 may slidably receive a closure plate 122. The closure plate, 122 may translate between open and closed positions. The rails 120 may cooperate with a structure of the toilet 80 for mechanically aligning the toilet 18 with the tank 16. More details concerning this aspect of the holding tank 54 are provided in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. No. 4,776,631 referenced above.

The blade 118 may be operated between an open and a closed position from a knob through a coupling mechanism, for example. A portion of this coupling mechanism that is an actuating member may be disposed on the bench 12. A cooperating portion of the coupling mechanism may be carried by the holding tank 16. The portion of the mechanism carried by the holding tank 16 may include an actuated member 130 disposed on the top wall of the holding tank 16 when the holding tank 16 is in the stowed position. In the tank's stowed position, the actuating and the actuated members may be operatively connected in a driving relationship whereby motion of the actuating member imparts rotary motion to the actuated member 130 which in turn operates the blade 118. Further details concerning the operation of the blade 118 of the system 10 are generally beyond the scope of the present invention and are sufficiently described in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. No. 4,776,631 referenced above.

The holding tank 16 may include a body fabricated from an upper plastic part 102 and a lower plastic part 104. The parts 102 and 104 may be joined together in a sealed manner around a continuous seam 106. In certain embodiments, the parts 102 and 104 may be Ema-welded. The upper plastic part 102 may contain the top wall 110 and an adjacent marginal portion of the sidewall 112. The lower plastic part 104 may contain the remainder of sidewall 112 and the entirety of the bottom wall 114. The size and capacity of holding tank 16 are such that it can hold a meaningful amount of waste so that frequent emptying of the tank can be avoided, yet not so large that the tank is overly difficult to remove, transport, and dump by an average adult even if full. In one particular application, the holding tank 16 may have a capacity of approximately 4 to 5 U.S. gallons.

The holding tank 16 may also include a rotatable pourspout 132 mounted in a hole (not particularly shown) in the top wall 119. The pourspout 132 may include a keyed and sealed engagement with the hole to maintain sealing contact between the spout 132 and the holding tank 16 for all positions of rotation about the axis of the hole, and to prevent separation of the pourspout 132 from the holding tank 16 for all positions of rotation. The pourspout 132 may be rotatable between a stowed position and an extended position. In the stowed position, the pourspout 132 may overlie a portion of the top wall 119. An end of the spout 132 may be closed by a removable closure cap 134.

While the capacity of the tank 16 may generally be transported by manual lifting and carrying, certain applications of the present invention may include a pair of wheels 140 and a retractable handle 142 to improve handling of the tank 16. The wheels 140 and the handle 142 cooperate to allow the user to pull the holding tank 16. In this manner, the weight of the holding tank 16 need only be balanced over the wheels 140 as the user pulls the holding tank 16 from the system 10 to a sewage site.

The retractable handle 142 is perhaps best shown in FIGS. 14 and 16. The handle 142 is shown in an extended position in FIG. 14. The handle 142 is shown in a retracted or stowed position in FIG. 16. These features not only provide function advantages, they are designed in an efficient manner that does not adversely effect the holding capacity of the tank 16 or the other functional requirements of the system 10.

The wheels 140 may be mounted to the holding tank 16 for rotation about a common axis 146. As shown in FIG. 14, the wheels 140 may be sized and positioned so not to forwardly extend beyond the front end of the holding tank 16 and not to downwardly extend beyond a bottom surface of the holding tank 16. Furthermore, the wheels 140 may be sized and positioned so not to laterally extend beyond the lateral sides of the holding tank 16. As shown, the wheels 140 may be positioned in recesses 148 defined in the sidewall of the holding tank 16. In this manner, the wheels 140 do not interfere with insert into or removal from the holding tank 16 from the stowage compartment 20. Additionally, the wheels 140 only negligible impact the holding capacity of the holding tank 16.

Each of the wheels 140 may be connected to the housing of the holding tank 16 through an axle mounting portion 154. The axle mounting portion 154 may be nonrotatably received within a slot 156 integrally defined by the holding tank 16. The axle mounting portion 154 may rotatably couple to an axle segment 158 which couples with the associated wheel 140. The wheels 140 and their associated interconnection to the holding tank 16 may be designed such that failure will not cause a rupture of the cavity defined by the holding 16.

The handle 142 may include two pairs of telescoping members 150 connected by a grab portion 152. The telescoping members 150, in the handle's retracted position, may be disposed in channels defined by the holding tank 16. In this manner, the telescoping members 150 do not extend below the bottom surface of the holding tank 16 and thereby do not interfere with a sliding interaction otherwise provided between the bottom of the holding tank 16 and the base member. Further in the retracted position, the grab portion 152 does not extend beyond the end of the holding tank.

The description of the invention is merely exemplary in nature and, thus, variations that do not depart from the gist of the invention are intended to be within the scope of the invention. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention.