Title:
Refuse receptacle with hinged support
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A street refuse receptacle or the like has an outer housing with a side door having a shelf supporting an inner container. The outer housing has a stationary portion and the movable panel or door occupies about half the circumference. The outer housing is made rigid by frame portions, including a base frame strip under the door panel. A substantially horizontal shelf is carried on the door panel, near to the bottom but higher than the base frame strip. The shelf supports the inner container. When the door panel is pivoted open to open a gap in the receptacle wall, the container is brought along. A roller is arranged under the shelf. The roller supports the container, prevents the receptacle from becoming overbalanced, and by coming against the base frame strip defines the full-open position of the movable door panel.



Inventors:
Weiss, Richard E. (Allentown, PA, US)
Application Number:
10/987399
Publication Date:
05/18/2006
Filing Date:
11/12/2004
Assignee:
UNITED METAL RECEPTACLE CORP.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D6/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRADEN, SHAWN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DUANE MORRIS LLP - Philadelphia (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A refuse receptacle, comprising: an outer housing structure comprising side wall structure dimensioned substantially to surround an inner container; wherein the outer housing structure includes a stationary portion and a movable panel portion, the panel portion being displaceable from the stationary portion so as to open the outer housing structure for obtaining access to the inner container; a shelf carried on the panel portion, the shelf providing a support on which the inner container can be rested; and, a roller arranged under the shelf, the roller engaging on a surface under 11 the refuse receptacle, to support a weight including the inner container when the panel portion is displaced from the stationary portion.

2. The receptacle of claim 1, wherein the movable panel is hinged to the stationary portion on a vertical hinge axis.

3. The receptacle of claim 2, wherein at least one of the inner container and the outer housing structure is substantially circular in plan.

4. The receptacle of claim 2, wherein the inner container and the outer housing structure container are cylindrical and the inner container substantially occupies a circular area within the outer housing structure.

5. The receptacle of claim 4, wherein the roller follows a circular arc spaced from the hinge axis.

6. The receptacle of claim 5, wherein the outer housing includes a stationary lower frame portion disposed below the movable panel in a closed position, and wherein the circular arc of the roller encounters the lower frame portion to define a maximum open position of the movable panel.

7. The receptacle of claim 1, wherein the inner container has an open top and the outer housing structure has a top structure chosen from the group consisting of an open top, a funnel, a dome top, a pivoting flap top, a top with lateral openings, a top with lateral flaps, a sand bowl, a stacking support, and a combination of at least two thereof.

8. The receptacle of claim 7, wherein the outer housing comprises a foraminous material and the inner container comprises a molded plastic can.

9. The receptacle of claim 8, wherein the outer housing comprises a foraminous material and reinforcing strips extending at least one of horizontally and vertically.

10. The receptacle of claim 9, wherein the outer housing comprises a first vertical strip at said vertical hinge axis connecting the movable panel to the stationary portion.

11. The receptacle of claim 10, wherein the outer housing further comprises a second vertical strip at an opposite edge of the movable panel from the vertical hinge axis, and further comprising a latch at said opposite edge for detachably affixing the opposite edge to the second vertical strip, thereby holding the movable panel in a closed position.

12. The receptacle of claim 11, wherein the first and second vertical strips are substantially diametrically opposite.

13. The receptacle of claim 7, wherein the inner container has a capacity of about 10 to 55 gallons.

14. The receptacle of claim 13, wherein the inner container has a capacity of approximately 38 gallons.

15. The receptacle of claim 13, wherein the outer housing defines a street collection basket.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to refuse receptacle structure wherein an internal collection can is carried on a roller-supported shelf on a hinged side door of an outer holder. Pivoting open the side door of the outer holder carries along the shelf, bringing the internal collection can into an accessible position for service.

A refuse collection container typically comprises a cylindrical cup-shaped structure or can, with a closed bottom and an open top. The top may be closed by a lid closure that must be removed for access, or the top may be partly covered by some form of fixture. For example, a dome top may be provided, with side drop-in opening. Some dome tops have substantially vertical sides with movable cover flaps. Other top structures are also known such as tray stacking receptacles, smokers' sand bowls for extinguishing cigarettes or cigars, funnel structures leading into the container, and other specific arrangements.

A refuse collection container might be of any size appropriate to its situation. The container might comprise a can, for example, three to four feet high and perhaps 18 inches in diameter. When filled, such a can might hold a substantial weight of material. It is necessary to empty the can periodically. In the case of a refuse collection product with an inner container, it may be necessary to remove the inner container, e.g., by removing any top fixture from the structure and lifting the inner can out from the top. Inner containers advantageously are light in weight when empty and are protected by the outer structure. Thus, plastic bags are sometimes used as inner containers. Also, the inner container may be a relatively light but rigid plastic can.

The inner container is useful when emptying and also keeps the outer container clean. Inasmuch as it is not necessary to lift and dump the outer container, the outer structure can be durable and heavy. The inner container need not be as durable, but nevertheless can be heavy and somewhat difficult to empty by lifting the inner container sufficiently to clear the outer container for emptying.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,923,080—Lounsbury; U.S. Pat. No. 6,311,859—Haas; U.S. Pat. No. 6,179,151—Radvansky et al., and other similar structures comprise outer containers that have side doors. In that case, the side door can be opened to gain access to the inner container. The inner container need only be freed and moved laterally out through the side door for emptying. It is not necessary to lift the inner container over the side walls of the outer container to remove the inner container.

Although helpful for gaining access to the internal container, a side door presents some structural challenges. For example, when the side door is opened, the outer container may lack any supporting structure. Assuming that the outer container is cylindrical, providing a door big enough to allow passage of an internal can that fills the inside of the cylinder amounts to providing a pivotably displaceable wall that extends nearly the full height of the side as well as around 180 degrees of circumference. Making half the container into a door in this way might leave insufficient structure to support and protect the outer container, particularly if the outer container has no bottom and the inner container simply rests on the ground within the outer container.

The most substantial weight of concern is that of the trash contained within the inner container. The outer container may be relatively light in view of its decorative rather than load bearing function. Thus, opening a door that more or less divides the outer container in half does not present a problem when the inner container supports the load. In fact, it may be easier to open and pull the outer container structure away from an inner container that it is full, as it is to open the outer container door and pull the inner container laterally out through the door. On the other hand, a relatively durable and substantial outer container is also desirable.

In the exemplary prior art patents cited above, the displaceable door structures do not fully divide a container. The containers have bottom panels or at least a bottom frame structure extending along the top or bottom of the door opening. Insofar as the containers have bottom panels, the inner container rests on the bottom panel and not on the ground. In such a case the outer container carries the weight of the inner container. When the side door is opened, the user reaches into the outer container and pulls the inner container laterally, completely through the side door opening. Likewise when replacing the inner container (e.g., after emptying), the user pushes the inner container laterally inwardly, again fully traversing the side door opening.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, a hinged door refuse container is provided wherein the outer container, and in particular a hinged door not only is provided for access to the inner container, but carries the inner container on the hinged structure of the door. This has the salutary attribute that pivoting open the side door inherently moves the inner container from a position inside the outer container to a position in which the inner container is partly clear of the inside container and easily can be taken off the side door structure for emptying and then replaced.

According to another aspect, the hinged door structure supports the weight of the inner container on a shelf that is cantilevered on a lower part of the hinged door. This would normally risk tilting the outer container when moving the weight of the inner container outwardly beyond the normal center of gravity, particularly as in the invention where the shelf is spaced above the ground by a structural framing around the lower perimeter of the outer container. According to another aspect, the shelf is supported further by a roller support that holds the shelf and supports the weight of the inner container.

The roller support normally resides on the ground or on bottom panel of the outer housing, in any event remaining at a position inside the bottom structural framing around the perimeter of the outer container. When the side door is opened, the door can be pivoted only to the position at which the roller support, which moves in an arc around the hinge axis, comes up against the bottom structural framing from the inside. This limits the extent to which the side door can open, which providing ample space for removal of the inner container from its position on the shelf of the pivoted-open side door.

These and other aspects are provided in the invention by a refuse receptacle with an outer housing structure generally forming a side wall structure surrounding an inner container, wherein the outer housing structure includes a stationary portion and a movable panel portion. The panel portion is provided in the side of the receptacle and is movable so as to open a gap in the outer housing structure through which access is obtained to the inner container. A substantially horizontal shelf is carried on the panel portion, near to the bottom. The shelf provides a support on which the inner container can be rested. When the panel portion is displaced from the housing structure, the shelf is carried along and brings the inner container into the gap in the outer housing structure. This would normally risk overbalancing the receptacle. However, a roller is arranged under the shelf and engages on the surface under the refuse receptacle, e.g., on the ground. The roller supports the shelf that supports the weight of the inner container.

The movable panel preferably is hinged to the stationary portion of the housing on a vertical hinge axis. The inner container and the outer housing are preferably complementary in shape, e.g., cylindrical but optionally rectilinear instead. The inner container preferably substantially occupies the area available within the outer housing structure. The shelf can occupy the full available area, or can be smaller, provided that the shelf is large enough to support the container. In a preferred embodiment the shelf is a circular disc, slightly larger in diameter than the bottom of the inner container, and the roller is placed at a position that is well spaced from the hinge axis and on the inboard side of a diametrical lined from the hinge axis through a center of the disc. In addition, the outer housing has a frame portion that closes the perimeter under the movable panel. When the movable panel is pivoted open, the roller follows a circular arc up to that frame portion, which determines the maximum open position of the movable panel.

A number of further objects and aspects will be apparent from the following examples and the associated discussion of variations of which the invention is capable.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing features and advantages of the invention, as well as other aspects and routine extensions of the invention, are apparent from the following detailed description of examples and preferred embodiments, to be considered together with the accompanying drawings, wherein the same reference numbers have been used throughout to refer to the same functioning parts, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is an elevation view, partly cut away, showing a container according to the invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view along lines 2-2 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a plan view as in FIG. 2, demonstrating a preferred placement of the roller support.

FIG. 4 is an elevation view corresponding to FIG. 1 and showing a distinct top structure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Certain exemplary embodiments of the invention are described herein with reference to the drawings. These embodiments are examples intended to demonstrate aspects of the invention in different forms or separately. Not all the aspects are required in all embodiments of the invention, and the illustrated embodiments should be regarded as exemplary rather than limiting.

In this description, terms denoting relative directions and orientations such as “lower,” “upper,” etc., should be construed to refer to the orientation as then being described or as shown in the drawing under discussion as opposed to limitations respecting the orientation or operation of the described parts. Terms concerning attachments, couplings and the like, such as “connected” and “interconnected,” refer to a relationship wherein the elements can be integral parts of a whole, or can be secured or attached to one another directly or indirectly through intervening structures, as well as attachments that can be rigid or movable, unless expressly described otherwise or as apparent in view of the described functions of such elements.

As shown in FIG. 1, a refuse receptacle 22 includes an outer housing structure 30 with a side wall structure 32 dimensioned substantially to surround a removable inner container 33. The outer housing structure 30, and in particular the side wall structure 32, includes a stationary portion and a movable panel portion 36. The panel portion 36 is a portion of the side wall structure 32 that is movably displaceable from the remainder of the side wall structure 32, which is a fixed and stationary structure that rests on the ground. Panel 36 forms a door by which the outer housing structure 30 is opened to obtain access to the inner container 33.

Access to the inner container typically is needed for conveniently emptying the container 33. Without the side wall door panel 36, the inner container would need to be lifted vertically over the top edge of the outer housing structure 30 after removing the covering top structure 38, which in the example of FIG. 1 is a simple cover that preferably has a central opening (not shown) through which trash is dropped into the receptacle. The top structure 38 of such receptacles is normally removable and may be pivotably openable or snapped on. According to the present structure, however, a capability of removing the top is optional because the container can be readily accessed and removed from the opening of side door panel 36.

According to an aspect of the invention, the door panel 36 does not merely expose the inner container 33, but also operates to move the inner container 33 in and out of its stored position. In its stored/stowed position, the container normally is substantially centered in the outer housing structure, but at least needs to be in position to receive trash that is dropped into the receptacle. According to an inventive aspect, however, the container is carried on a shelf 42 that is in turn carried on the movable door panel portion 36. The shelf 42 provides a support on which the inner container 33 is rested. When the container door panel is opened or closed, the shelf 42 carries the inner container outwardly from its stored position, where it is convenient for the user to obtain access. Instead of lifting the inner container over the side wall of the receptacle, the inner container is simple tilted off the shelf.

The shelf 42 carried on door panel portion 36 can encompass more or less of the footprint of the inner container 33. Preferably and as shown in the drawings, the shelf 42 is cantilevered from a lower part of the door panel 36 and encompasses substantially the full area within the container 33, which rests on the shelf by gravity and is not otherwise affixed to the door panel 36. Whether or not the inner container 33 is also affixed to the door panel (which is not shown in this embodiment), the effect of the structure is that the weight of container 33 and its contents is centered substantially under the container 33, which moves when the door panel 36 is hinged open.

According to another inventive aspect, a roller 44 is arranged under the shelf 42 and supports the weight of container 33 and its contents. The roller 44 engages on a surface under the shelf, to support a weight including the inner container 33. This support prevents the receptacle 22 from being overbalanced if the center of gravity of the receptacle 22 as a whole, is moved laterally outwardly due to the pivoting open of door panel 36 and the potentially loaded inner container 33 thereon.

The roller 44 can be mounted on a bracket 46 affixed to the underside of shelf 42 so as to engage the roller under the surface under the shelf. The surface under the shelf can be a lowermost bottom wall under receptacle 22, supported on threaded leveling feet 52 as shown. Alternatively, the roller can engage on the ground in an embodiment (not shown) that has no underside wall.

The movable panel 36 that carries the shelf 42 and the cantilevered weight of the inner container 33 is hinged to the stationary portion of receptacle 22 on a vertical hinge 54. The hinge axis of hinge 54 in the embodiment shown is at the surface of a cylindrical structure, and the inner container 44, like the outer housing structure of receptacle 22, is substantially circular in plan view. In this case the inner container 33 is complementary with the cylindrical hollow volume within receptacle 22. It would also be possible for the inner container to be smaller than this hollow volume or differently shaped (e.g., a rectilinear container in a cylindrical receptacle or vice versa).

Inasmuch as the door panel 36 is hinged, the container 33 as well as the roller 44 that supports the weight of container 33 from under shelf 42, follow an arc around the axis of hinge 54 when the door panel is opened or closed. The roller 44 is fixed under shelf 52 and thus follows a circular arc spaced from the hinge axis.

FIG. 2 shows an advantageous specific location for roller 44. As shown, the shelf 42 is of approximately the same size as the hollow area in the receptacle 22. In order to pivot open, the door panel 36 needs to occupy at least 180 degrees around the circumference of the outer housing structure. The edge of door 36 opposite from hinge 54 contains a releasable latch that engages with the outer housing structure.

Roller 44 as shown in FIG. 2 and also diagrammatically in FIG. 3 is spaced from the hinge axis so that the arc of the roller 44 comes near to the midpoint of the span between the opposite edges of the opening for door panel 36 when the roller reaches the outer edge of the footprint of receptacle 22. More particularly, the outer housing structure 30 includes a stationary lower frame portion 56, disposed below the level of the movable panel 36 in a closed position, and below the level of shelf 42. As a result, the circular arc of the roller 44 encounters the lower frame portion 56 when the door panel 36 is opened to the full-open angle shown in FIGS. 2 and 3.

The center of gravity of the receptacle 22 as a whole is substantially determined by the position of the inner container when the inner container is full. By supporting the inner container 33 on the shelf 42 and in turn at least partly on the roller 44 and its bracket 46, preferably at the location and configuration shown, the center of gravity of the receptacle cannot be moved by opening door panel 36 to a position that is clear or at least far from the edge of the footprint of the outer housing structure. The receptacle 22 is openable and convenient access to the inner container 33 is obtained, without causing the receptacle 22 to become unstable and to tip over easily.

In the cylindrical arrangement shown, and with reference to FIG. 3, the roller bracket 46 and roller 44 are placed on the inboard side of a diametrical line extending from the axis of hinge 54 to the opposite latched edge of door panel 36. Also, the roller 44 is specifically near the central part of the quadrant that is inboard of the diameter from hinge 54 to the latch edge and nearer to the latch than to the hinge. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the roller 44 moves back and forth between positions inside the footprint of the outer housing structure, limited on the outward span by frame 56.

The invention is applicable to various sorts of receptacles. Although the embodiment of FIG. 1 has a lid member with a drop-through opening, the container could have a wholly open top. As shown in FIG. 4, for example, the container can have a dome top with drop-through side openings. The invention is apt for outer housing structures with top structures having one or more of an open top, a funnel, a dome top, a pivoting flap top, a top with lateral openings, a top with lateral flaps, a sand bowl, a stacking support, a combination of at least two thereof, etc.

In the disclosed embodiments the outer housing comprises a foraminous material and the inner container comprises a molded plastic can. The foraminous outer housing part has reinforcing strips extending at least one of horizontally and vertically. These strips can be relatively durable steel straps or bars that are optionally reinforced and provide stiffness and structural support. Thus, for example, a first vertical strip is arranged at the vertical hinge axis connecting the movable panel to the stationary portion. A second vertical strip is arranged at the opposite edge of the opening for the movable panel 36 from the vertical hinge axis 54. The side opposite from the hinge further comprises a latch and latch receiving fixture for detachably affixing the opposite edge to the second vertical strip, so as to hold the movable panel in a closed position when latched or allow the panel (and shelf 42) to swing out when released.

Adjacent reinforcing strips including the first and second vertical strips frame around the opening for panel 36 and around the edges of panel 36, at the top and bottom of panel 36 and at the opposite lateral edges corresponding to substantially diametrically opposite positions on the receptacle 22.

The inventive receptacle can be larger or smaller. For street use, or for home or industrial applications, the inner container may advantageously have a capacity of about 10 to 55 gallons. The convenience of dealing with an accessible inner container is most welcome for containers on the larger end of the range. In an advantageous embodiment for a street collection basket, the capacity of the inner container is about 38 gallons.

The invention has been disclosed in connection with certain examples and embodiments but is not limited to the particular constructions herein disclosed and shown in the drawings, but also comprises any modifications or equivalents within the scope of the appended claims.





 
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