Title:
Integrated posts/ferrule
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus useful to suspend or extend a structure from a surface. In one aspect, the apparatus simulates a mounting post with a ferrule which suspends or extends a separate structure from the surface. In another aspect, the apparatus includes a simulated end of the structure integrated with the mounting post to give the appearance that the structure extends through the mounting post.



Inventors:
Garrett, Rodney G. (Fort Madison, IA, US)
Application Number:
11/213205
Publication Date:
03/02/2006
Filing Date:
08/26/2005
Assignee:
Custom Hardware Mfg. Inc. (Keokuk, IA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/182
International Classes:
A47H1/02
View Patent Images:
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20060060547Storage and display cartonMarch, 2006Chang
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20030091413Object retention in a rotatable carouselMay, 2003Yergenson
20060289038Molded plastic dishwasher rack tine members including elastomeric bumpersDecember, 2006Hedstrom et al.
20060213851Card Rack Display CartonSeptember, 2006Grueneberg
20080156748Multifunctions Ceiling Drying RackJuly, 2008Pinheiro
20040026347Item display systemFebruary, 2004Brickman



Primary Examiner:
TRAN, HANH VAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HODGSON RUSS LLP (BUFFALO, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for suspending or extending a structure from a surface comprising: a. a one-piece body; b. a first portion comprising an interface adapted to be mounted on a surface; c. a second portion comprising a simulated ferrule having a recess formed therein adapted to receive a portion of a structure to be suspended or extended from a surface.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the structure is a bar or rod.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the bar or rod is adapted for use as a towel bar or rod.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the surface has a thickness of on the order of less than a few inches.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the surface is a portion of a glass plate.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the body is made of solid material.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein the solid material is metal.

8. The apparatus of claim 6 further comprising a coating over at least a portion of the body.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first portion is elongated along an axis.

10. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first portion simulates a mounting post.

11. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the interface comprises a mounting surface.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 further comprising a threaded aperture in the first portion at or near the interface.

13. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the recess of the second portion has an axis.

14. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein the axis of the recess of the second portion is oblique to the axis of the first portion.

15. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the recess is a blind hole.

16. The apparatus of claim 15 further comprising retaining structure in the recess adapted to at least partially retain a grasping member.

17. The apparatus of claim 16 wherein the grasping member is an elastomeric piece.

18. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a third portion extending externally from and generally opposite the receiver on the second portion.

19. The apparatus of claim 18 wherein the third portion is adapted to simulate an end of the structure to be suspended or extended.

20. An apparatus for suspending or extending a structure from a surface comprising: a. a one-piece body; b. a first portion comprising an interface adapted to be mounted on a surface; c. a second portion comprising a recess formed therein adapted to receive a portion of a structure to be suspended or extended from a surface; d. a third portion is adapted to simulate an end of the structure to be suspended or extended.

21. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the apparatus is a simulation of a mounting post, a ferrule, and an end of the structure to be suspended or extended.

22. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the structure is a towel rod or bar.

23. The apparatus of claim 20 in combination with a rod or bar having a cross-sectional diameter and an external appearance.

24. The apparatus of claim 23 wherein the third portion is substantially identical in cross-section diameter and external appearance to the rod or bar.

25. The apparatus of claim 24 wherein the rod or bar is tubular with open opposite ends and the third portion is tubular with one open and one closed end.

26. The apparatus of claim 25 further comprising a second apparatus according to claim 20, the second apparatus comprising substantially a mirror-image of the other apparatus.

27. An apparatus for suspending or extending an elongated structure having first and second ends from a surface comprising: a. a pair of devices, each device comprising; i. a one-piece body; ii. a first portion comprising an interface adapted to be mounted on a surface; iii. a second portion comprising a recess formed therein adapted to receive a portion of a structure to be suspended or extended from a surface; iv. a third portion is adapted to simulate an end of the structure to be suspended or extended.

28. An integrated mounting post and simulated ferrule adapted for supporting a structure in a spaced apart position from a surface comprising: a. a post portion having a mounting end and a spaced apart, generally opposite end along an elongated post axis; b. a simulated ferrule portion integrated with and extending from the generally opposite end of the post portion, and having an at least partially internal receiver on one side; c. a simulated end portion extended from a generally opposite side of the simulated ferrule portion; d. so that when a structure has a portion installed in the receiver of the simulated ferrule portion, the simulated end portion and simulated ferrule portion create the appearance the simulated end portion and the structure are one-piece and are supported in the ferrule portion.

29. The integrated mounting post and simulated ferrule of claim 28 wherein the structure comprises a rod or bar.

30. The integrated mounting post and simulated ferrule of claim 28 wherein the surface is a panel or plate and further comprising a fastener adapted to extend into and connect to the mounting end of the post portion through an opening in the panel or plate; a bushing adapted to fit in the opening in the panel or plate, and a pair of washer adapted to abut opposite sides of the panel or plate, so that the post portion can be clamped against one side of the panel or plate at the opening in the panel or plate and the bushing protects the panel or plate from the fastener.

31. The integrated mounting post and simulated ferrule of claim 30 wherein the panel or plate is a glass plate.

32. A method of mounting a structure in a spaced apart position from a surface comprising: a. supporting the structure with a pair of posts each having one end adjacent the surface and another end extended from the surface; b. integrating at the second ends of the posts simulated opposite ends of the structure.

33. The method of claim 32 wherein the structure is a rod or bar.

34. The method of claim 32 further comprising simulating ferrules at the second ends of the posts.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Applications Ser. No. 60/605,349 filed Aug. 27, 2004, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to fittings or hardware for mounting structures to walls, panels, or other surfaces and, in particular in one example, to hardware like towel racks, shower bars, and other apparatus that have at least one mounting post and a member extending from the at least one mounting post.

2. Problems in the Art

A wide variety of hardware exists which needs to be fastened to or supported by a wall or other surface. A part of the hardware extends from or is supported by the wall or supporting surface.

One example is a towel rod. It has a longitudinal length and opposite ends. Normally a pair of posts supports the towel rod at or near opposite ends and extend to a wall where they are attached by screws or another mounting structure.

The hardware must therefore include structure to suspend or extend the towel bar from the wall or other surface in a manner that can support not only the towel bar but a reasonable amount of weight or forces (e.g., several towels). Thus, it is not trivial to design posts and the method of attachment of the posts to the wall and to the towel bar to achieve not only the above mentioned functions, but also to do so in a durable way.

Additionally, many times this type of hardware is used in situations where it is desirable that the combination be aesthetically pleasing. For example, there is a high demand for good looking, aesthetically pleasing bathroom hardware.

Also, it is usually desirable to make installation of the hardware as efficient and easy as possible. One way to attach a towel bar or similar structure to support posts is by directly screwing or bolting it to the posts. While this may allow for relatively easy installation and de-installation, it has deficiencies. First of all, most times it exposes part of the screw or bolt to view, which can be aesthetically displeasing. Secondly, it requires careful manufacturing to create fairly precise openings through which the bolt or screw can pass through the bar and corresponding receivers in the posts. This can add substantial costs to the manufacturing process for these components.

Another way of attachment of towel bars to the wall involves a pair of posts with rings or ferrules at their distal ends. The ferrule has a bore or opening through which the towel bar can slideably pass. The ferrule can be manufactured as an integral component of the posts, or a separate piece. While this may eliminate direct view of attaching screws or bolts, it has deficiencies. For example, it usually requires the towel bar to be slideably inserted into a pair of ferrules and have the installer try to simultaneously support and balance multiple pieces (two spaced apart posts and the towel rod or bar) while one post is attached to the wall and then the other. This is difficult to do with one worker. Alternatively, the posts can be individually attached to the wall and then the towel bar slid through the ferrules and secured in place (e.g., by screws or other means). In this latter case, accurate and efficient installation depends heavily on the installer accurately placing the posts.

Some of the above-mentioned combinations, and many of the others available in the marketplace, rely on somewhat complex structure. For example, many have multiple pieces that must be assembled, fit together, and align for proper installation, even for something as simple as a towel bar. Again, the more parts or pieces to fit together, the increased manufacturing costs for the manufacturer and burden on the installer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore a principal object, feature, advantage, or aspect of the present invention to provide a combined post and ferrule that improves over or solves certain problems and deficiencies in the art. Additionally, it is an object, feature, advantage, or aspect of the present invention to provide a combined post and ferrule which:

    • a. is a one-piece integrated structure that can be economically manufactured;
    • b. is an integrated piece that can be economically manufactured from a variety of materials, including metals and even valuable metals or plated metals;
    • c. utilizes structure that minimizes the number of parts needed to attach a towel bar to a wall or supporting structure and attach the towel bar to that intermediate structure;
    • d. allows for some flexibility in what it supports;
    • e. is adaptable to different walls or surfaces;
    • f. is aesthetically pleasing;
    • g. can be ornamented to compliment or simulate at least part of what it supports;
    • h. promotes easier and more flexible installation.

These and other objects, features, advantages, and aspects of the present invention will become more apparent with reference to the accompanying specification and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an integrated mounting post/ferrule according to one aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side plan view of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a left side elevation view of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a right side elevation view of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7A is a top view of a pair of devices such as in FIG. 1 installed on a wall and supporting a towel bar.

FIG. 7B is similar to FIG. 7A showing a different length towel bar.

FIG. 8 is an enlarged partially sectional view of an alternative installation method according to one aspect of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENT

Overview

In order to gain a better understanding of the invention, one exemplary embodiment will now be described in detail. It is to be understood that this is but one form the invention can take. Variations obvious to those skilled in the art are included within the invention.

In this detailed description, frequent reference will be made to the accompanying drawings. Reference numerals will be utilized to indicate certain parts and locations in the drawings. The same reference numerals will indicate the same parts and locations throughout the drawings unless otherwise indicated.

Context of Exemplary Embodiment

This example is in the context of a towel bar attachable to a vertical wall, glass panel, door, or other relatively thin surface, such as in a bathroom. It is to be understood, however, that the invention can be used in a variety of mounting applications and surfaces. It also can apply to a wide variety of types of structures to be suspended or extended from a wall, door, countertop, ceiling, shower door, shower stall, door, cupboard, cabinet, or other surface, whether the surface is vertical, horizontal, or otherwise disposed, or whether the surface is planar or not, relatively thin thickness (e.g., like drywall or a glass plate shower door) or not.

By way of several examples, and not by way of limitation, either a single or pair, or even three or more, of the mounting posts/ferrules could be used to support a variety of types of things (including but not limited to shower rod, bathroom tissue holder rod, light fixture(s), door pull(s), door handle(s), quilt holder(s), picture holder(s), scone(s), memorabilia holder(s), etc.).

Structure of Exemplary Embodiment

With reference to FIGS. 1-8, device 10 is illustrated. Device 10 is a combined or integrated support post and ferrule. It has an end 12 (a proximal end, in the sense proximal to the surface to which it is mounted) that is attachable to a glass plate door or panel, or wall or other supporting surface or structure, by means of a tap bore 14 extending longitudinally and axially of end 12. Tap bore 14 would receive a matching machine screw 16. Machine screw 16 would pass through the opposite side of a wall 34 or other supporting surface (see FIGS. 7A and B) to draw end 12 against its side of wall 34. Mounting screw 16 is shown to illustrate diagrammatically one type of attachment structure. It could also include bushings (through a hole in wall 34), washers, gaskets, or other structures (see, e.g., FIG. 8). For example, as shown in FIG. 8, if attached to a glass plate, two through-holes 38 in plate 34 would be formed or drilled. A bushing 40 would be placeable through each hole 38 to prevent contact of screw 16 with the glass, and plastic or rubber washers 44A and B placed on opposite sides of the hole. If mounted to a drywall wall, bracket could be first mounted on wall 34 and proximal end 12 mounted to the bracket.

As can be seen in the figures, the mounting post portion of device 10 includes proximal end 12, a reduced diameter distal end 20, and a transitional section 18. In this embodiment, end 12 has a larger cylindrical shape and diameter than distal end 20. Transitional section 18 is basically sloped or tapered to smaller diameter distal end section 20.

A ferrule portion of device 10 is essentially a cylindrical section 24 that is positioned at the distal part of distal end 20 of the post portion. A bore 26 extends from one end of ferrule 24 partially inwardly; here less than half the distance to the other end of ferrule 24 (see FIG. 2). A groove 28 is formed along bore 26 (see FIGS. 2 and 3). Bore 26 is adapted to slidably receive an end of a structure such as a towel bar 30 (diagrammatically illustrated in FIG. 1). Groove 28 could contain an elastomeric O-ring or gasket that could be sized such that the end of towel bar 30 must frictionally fit therethrough. By this method the end of towel bar 30 can be held in the device 10. Thus, portion 24 is not really a ferrule (i.e. a sleeve or ring), but simulates or imitates one.

As shown in the drawings, the transition between post end 20 and ferrule 24, because it is the perpendicular intersection of one cylindrical portion into another cylindrical portion, results in a curved intersection indicated at reference numeral 22 (see particularly FIG. 1). However, it is to be appreciated that device 10 is one piece. It can be cast, machined, or otherwise formed out of a single piece of material. In this example it is solidly brass.

In this embodiment, device 10 includes a portion 32 extending from the side of ferrule 24 opposite from bore 26. Portion 32 can be of a size, shape, and ornamentation to match size, shape and ornamentation of towel bar 30. In such manner, device 10 would provide the illusion that towel bar 30 and portion 32 are one piece, and that the towel bar slideably extends through ferrule 24. Here portion 32 is closely similar in configuration to towel bar 30 (close or same in diameter, and appears to be the same material from exterior).

Installation

FIG. 7A illustrates diagrammatically a towel bar of length L1 (reference numeral 30A) supported by a pair of devices 10 (here left-side device 10L with portion 32 pointed in one direction and right-side device 10R with portion 32 pointed in the opposite direction). Screws 16 pass through wall 34 into threaded bores 14 to attach devices 10L and 10R to wall 34 at the appropriate separation for the length of towel bar 30A. Posts 12/18/20 extend generally perpendicularly from the plane of wall 34. The opposite ends of towel bar 38 are inserted into respective bores 26 simulated ferrule 24 of each device 10L and 10R. The combination presents a pair of devices 10 and a towel bar 30A attached to wall 34 where towel bar 30 is supported at spaced apart position from wall 34.

But, additionally, tubular towel bar 30A has an outside diameter matching the outside diameter of finials or simulated towel bar end 32 on each of 10L and 10R. When installed, the combination gives the appearance of a single, constant diameter bar of length L2, where the bar is slid through, supported by, and extends through ferrules 24, even though in reality bar 30 is the shorter length L1.

As previously mentioned, O-rings or ring-like rubber washers or gaskets are placed in groove 28 of each ferrule 24. One end of bar 30A could be fit into bore 26 of device 10L. Device 10L could then be screwed to wall 34. The installer could then rotate bar 30A to horizontal, insert it into bore 26 of device 10R and then hold device 10R while it is screwed into place on wall 34. Other installation methods are possible. It is pointed out, however, that there are very few pieces needed for the entire installation. There is no screw or set screw or other structure than rubber O-rings 29 (See FIG. 8) to mount bar 30 in ferrules 24. Because bar 30A would be frictionally retained by the O-ring in each groove 28, it makes it easier to position and install the whole system.

FIG. 7B shows a similar combination as FIG. 7A, except towel bar 30B is longer. This illustrates that an installer can cut bar 38 to length L1 or L3 (other any length) and use devices 10L and R for either. In both cases, the illusion is created that a bar of length L2 or L4 is held by a pair of ferrules 24. As can be appreciated, the present invention literally allows the towel rod or bar 30 to be cut to length at the installation site. In the example of a glass shower door, the openings through which screws 16 must pass must be preformed. A normal shower bar installer would not be able to do that. But the normal worker would be able to measure on site the needed length of bar 30, and form it on site. Furthermore, there would be some margin of error regarding the exact length because of retention of bar 30 into recesses or receivers 26 in each device 10L and R. The installer would need only to get within a certain margin of error. This again would make it easier and more efficient to install. Furthermore, even if bar 30 were premanufactured to a certain length, the on-site installer could remove or cut some of the length if needed on site. Compare that to a complete towel bar that must be slid through and supported by true ferrules. The ends of such conventional towel bar are usually closed off and finished. Therefore, the bar cannot be cut to length on site.

Aesthetics

As mentioned and as illustrated in the drawings, device 10 has an aesthetic appearance that is pleasing and ornamental on several different levels. First, the exemplary embodiment 10 has several different external diameters for the various cylindrical portions 12 and 20. It also has the tapered intermediate section 18. Furthermore, integrated cylindrical towel-bar-end-simulating portion 32 extends from one side of cylindrical ferrule simulating portion 24. Shading has been applied to some of the drawings to show surface shapes in more detail. Thus, device 10 has an aesthetic ornamental appearance.

On a second level, as described, simulated ferrule 24 and end portion 32 allow for the visual illusion of a one-piece constant diameter cylindrical towel bar is supported by portions 24.

Options and Alternatives

As expressly stated earlier, exemplary embodiment 10 is but one form the invention can take. A wide variety of shapes, dimensions, and configurations can employ the concepts of the invention. Again, a single device could be used to support some type of light fixture or other thing. A pair of devices 10 can be used. Or even three or more devices could be used.

It is possible that the configuration and ornamentation of portion 32 could differ, even dramatically, from other parts of the device. For example, the smooth-sided cylindrical portions 12, 20 and 24 could remain as shown in FIG. 1, but portion 32 have highly ornate embossments or engravements, or both, and/or be of an exterior shape and configuration that is not cylindrical. It could be designed to match or complement the ornamentation or configuration of whatever it suspends, or not. It could simulate a finial. As can be appreciated, and as shown in the drawings, devices 10, and in particular portions 32, could be predesigned to look essentially identical to bar 30, and thus give the illusion, when bar 30 is installed, that a single piece bar is slid through and supported by ferrule portions 24; in other words, that ends 32 are a part of bar 30. The drawings show basically a relatively simple cylindrical bar 30 and simulated end portions 32. As can be appreciated, end portions 32 could take different shape from exterior of bar portion 30 but still give the illusion they are part of bar portion 30. For example, end portions 32 could be ornamented or have different shape, but still look like ends of bar 30. On the other hand, ends 32 could be intentionally made to look more like finials or even separate pieces from bar 30 in shape, material, color, or otherwise. Still further, the other portions of the device 10 could be made to look similar to the exterior of bar 30 or different depending on need and desire. However, one prominent embodiment of the invention is the combination that gives the illusion or appearance that a single piece bar comprised of portion 30 and end portions 32 is held in position through simulated ferrules 24.

And, of course, the device can take on different dimensions than indicated in FIGS. 2 and 3.

A specific example of options regarding the exemplary embodiment is shown in FIG. 8. FIG. 8 illustrates one device 10, the same as in FIGS. 1-7B, having an end 32 that simulates the end of a tubular bar or rod 30, an end of which can be slid into and retained by friction into recess 26 that holds O-ring 29. FIG. 8 is intended to illustrate a relatively thin glass panel 36, such as a shower door or glass plate partition. In FIG. 8 it is shown in horizontal cross-section viewing it from above. In this combination, to protect opening 38 through glass plate 36 from machine screw 16, a tubular bushing or sleeve 40 having an opening 42 is of an outside diameter that would fit through or into (perhaps even by interference fit) opening 38 in glass plate 36. Bushing 40 can be made of a material that would not scratch or grate, or otherwise tend to damage, glass 36. Opening 42 in bushing 40 would be sized to allow the threaded portion of bolt 16 to pass through without interference. Washer gaskets 44A and B would be sized to have an outside diameter bigger than opening 38 in glass plate 36 but each have an opening 46 allowing passage of the threaded portion of machine screw 16. As can be appreciated, this combination can be installed as follows.

Bushing 40 would be slid into opening 38 in glass plate 36 (see arrows 50). Gasket 44A (can be elastomeric such as synthetic rubber that forms a water seal) could be aligned on one side of glass plate 36 relative to opening 38 (see arrows 51). Gasket 44B would be positioned in mirror image fashion on the opposite side of glass plate 36 (see arrows 52). Portion 12 of the post portion of device 10 would then be brought against washer 44B (see arrows 53). Machine screw 16 would then be brought from the opposite side of glass plate 36 and threaded into bore 14 in portion 12 of device 10. Machine screw 16 would be configured to be turned to pull portion 12 towards and clamp it on its side of glass panel 36.

O-ring gasket 29 can be forced into channel 28 inside recess 26 if device 10. An end of bar 30 could then be pushed and interference fit into recess 26 and frictionally held in place by O-ring 29.

One post/ferrule/end combination 12/20/24/32 would then be installed on glass plate 36 and one end of bar 30 held in position in it. The installer can then install the other end of bar 30 into a second device 10 in a similar fashion, rotate bar 30 into position relative to a second hole 38 in glass panel 36 (not shown) and install the base 12 of the second device 10 relative that second hole 38 by a similar method as explained above. This would allow one worker to easily install the device on a glass panel, protect the glass panel from machine screw 16, and have a fluid type seal.