Title:
Collapsible crate assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A collapsible crate assembly is provided that has a base and a first support member secured to the base. The first support member has first and second ends. A first socket member is connected to the first end and a second socket member is connected to the second end of the first support member. A first post is removably received by the first socket member. A second post is removably received by the second socket member. A first cross support member is removably connected to the first and second posts. The first and second posts are received by the first and second socket members and the first cross support member is received by the first and second posts when the crate assembly is in an assembled condition. The first and second posts are removed from the first and second socket members and the first cross support member is received by the first and second socket members when the crate assembly is in a collapsed condition.



Inventors:
Clarke, John W. (Barboursville, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/300428
Publication Date:
06/22/2006
Filing Date:
12/15/2005
Assignee:
The Nelson Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D6/12; B65D6/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRADEN, SHAWN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Roylance, Abrams, Berdo (Bethesda, MD, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A collapsible crate assembly, comprising: a base; a first support member secured to said base, said first support member having first and second ends; a first socket member connected to said first end of said first support member; a second socket member connected to said second end of said first support member; a first post removably received by said first socket member; a second post removably received by said second socket member; and a first cross support member removably connected to said first and second posts; wherein said first and second posts are received by said first and second socket members and said first cross support member is received by said first and second posts when said crate assembly is in an assembled condition; and wherein said first and second posts are removed from said first and second socket members and said first cross support member is received by said first and second socket members when said crate assembly is in a collapsed condition.

2. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 1, wherein said first and second posts are secured between said base and said first cross support member when said crate assembly is in said collapsed condition.

3. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 2, wherein an interference fit is formed between said removed first and second posts, said base and said first cross support member when said crate assembly is in said collapsed condition.

4. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 1, wherein first and second recesses formed in said base are adapted to receive said first and second posts when removed from said first and second socket members.

5. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 1, wherein said first support member is a C-channel.

6. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 1, wherein said base is a wood pallet.

7. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 6, wherein said first support member is metallic.

8. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 7, wherein said first support member is secured to a stringer of said wood pallet.

9. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 1, wherein a second support member is secured to said base, said second support member having first and second ends; and third and fourth socket members are connected to said first and second ends of said second support member, respectively.

10. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 9, wherein third and fourth posts are removably received by said third and fourth socket members, respectively; and a second cross support member is removably connected to said third and fourth posts; wherein said third and fourth posts are received by said third and fourth socket members and said second cross support member is received by said third and fourth posts when said crate assembly is in said assembled condition; and wherein said third and fourth posts are removed from said third and fourth socket members and said second cross support member is received by said third and fourth socket members when said crate assembly is in said collapsed condition.

11. A collapsible crate assembly, comprising: a base; a first support assembly including a first support member secured to said base, said first support member having first and second ends; a first socket member connected to said first end of said first support member; and a second socket member connected to said second end of said first support member; a second support assembly including a second support member secured to said base, said second support member having first and second ends; a third socket member connected to said first end of said second support member; and a fourth socket member connected to said second end of said second support member; a first post assembly including a first post removably received by said first socket member; a second post removably received by said second socket member; and a first cross support member removably connected to said first and second posts; a second post assembly including a third post removably received by said third socket member; a fourth post removably received by said fourth socket member; and a second cross support member removably connected to said third and fourth posts; first and second recesses formed in the base between the first and second socket members; and third and fourth recesses formed in the base between the third and fourth socket members; wherein when said crate assembly is in an assembled condition said first and second posts are received by said first and second socket members and said first cross support member is received by said first and second posts, and said third and fourth posts are received by said third and fourth socket members and said second cross support member is received by said third and fourth posts; and wherein when said crate is in a collapsed condition said first and second posts are removed from said first and second socket members and disposed in said first and second recesses and said first cross support member is received by said first and second socket members, and said third and fourth posts are removed from said third and fourth socket members and disposed in said third and fourth recesses and said second cross support member is received by said third and fourth socket members.

12. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 11, wherein when said crate assembly is in said collapsed condition said first and second posts are secured between said first and second recesses in said base and said first cross support member and said third and fourth posts are secured between said third and fourth recesses in said base and said second cross support member.

13. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 12, wherein said first and second posts are proximal said first support member when received in said first and second recesses, and said third and fourth posts are proximal said second support member when received in said third and fourth recesses.

15. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 11, wherein said first and second support members are C-channels.

16. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 11, wherein said base is a wood pallet.

17. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 16, wherein said first and second support members are metallic.

18. A collapsible crate assembly according to claim 17, wherein said first and second support members are secured to a stringer of said wood pallet.

19. A reinforced pallet assembly, comprising: a wood pallet having upper and lower decks secured by at least one wood stringer; at least one metallic support member secured to said at least one wood stringer; and a metallic socket connected to each end of said metallic support member and adapted to removably receive a support assembly.

20. A reinforced pallet assembly according to claim 19, wherein said support assembly is a post assembly or a cage assembly.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. ยง 119(e) of U.S. Provisional No. 60/636,103, filed Dec. 16, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a collapsible crate assembly. More particularly, the present invention relates to a collapsible crate assembly having a base which support posts are removably connected. Still more particularly, the present invention relates to a collapsible crate assembly having a support assembly secured to a base and a post assembly removably connected to the support assembly. The collapsible crate assembly is quickly and easily collapsed by removing the support posts from the support assembly connected to the base.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Wood pallets are relatively inexpensive, and thus are preferred in many applications. However, wood pallets do not provide support to the product when floor stacked. Many products require expensive packaging for support when stacked. Crates with uprights support the product when stacked, but wood crates are more difficult to assemble than wood pallets.

Steel pallets and crates have been used for applications that require the storage and transportation of heavy articles, and for applications in which wood pallets and crates are unsuitable. However, steel pallets and crates are significantly more expensive than the wood pallets and crates. For certain applications, steel pallets are too expensive to be a viable solution. A need exists for an inexpensive and strong crate assembly that is strong enough to be used with heavy articles.

Crate assemblies are typically large and bulky, and are difficult to store and transport when assembled. Crates that do not collapse when empty require extra warehouse storage space. Moreover, non-collapsible crates are expensive to return to the manufacturer because their size limits the amount of crates that can be carried on a return truck. Therefore, a need exists for a crate assembly that is easily collapsible for empty storage and return transportation.

Due to the abundance of wood pallets, it would be inefficient and costly to discard existing wood pallets to acquire a new and stronger crate assembly. Therefore, a need exists for a crate assembly made by modifying existing wood pallets.

Thus, a need exists for an improved crate assembly that is easily and quickly assembled and collapsed while providing improved strength.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an objective of the present invention to provide a quickly and easily collapsible crate assembly.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a collapsible crate assembly having a support assembly that is retrofittable to existing pallet bases.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an inexpensive and strong collapsible crate assembly.

The foregoing objects are basically attained by providing a collapsible crate assembly, which includes a base and a first support member secured to the base. The first support member has first and second ends. A first socket member is connected to the first end and a second socket member is connected to the second end of the first support member. A first post is removably received by the first socket member. A second post is removably received by the second socket member. A first cross support member is removably connected to the first and second posts. The first and second posts are received by the first and second socket members and the first cross support member is received by the first and second posts when the crate assembly is in an assembled condition. The first and second posts are removed from the first and second socket members and the first cross support member is received by the first and second socket members when the crate assembly is in a collapsed condition.

The foregoing objects are also attained by providing a reinforced pallet assembly, which includes a wood pallet having upper and lower decks secured together by at least one wood stringer. At least one metallic support member is secured to the at least one wood stringer. A metallic socket is connected to each end of the metallic support member and is adapted to removably receive a support assembly. Thus, a reinforced pallet assembly is provided that is quickly assembled and collapsed while providing increased strength.

Other objects, advantages and salient features of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, which, taken in conjunction with the annexed drawings, discloses preferred embodiments of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the drawings that form a part of the original disclosure:

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a crate assembly according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention in an assembled condition;

FIG. 2 is a side perspective view of the crate assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side perspective view of the crate assembly of FIG. 1 in a collapsed condition;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged side perspective view of a support member and a mounting member of the crate assembly of FIG. 1 in the collapsed condition;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged side perspective view of the support member and mounting member of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the base of the crate assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the base of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is an end elevational view of the base of FIG. 6;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of a crate assembly in a collapsed condition according to another exemplary embodiment in which posts are disposed in recesses formed in the base;

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of the crate assembly in a collapsed condition of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a partial front elevational view of a support assembly of the crate assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 12 is a partial side elevational view of a support member secured to the base of the crate assembly of FIG. 1, with the socket member removed;

FIG. 13 is front elevational view of a post of the crate assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 14 is a top plan view of the support assembly of the crate assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 15 is a front plan view of a support assembly according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a cage assembly;

FIG. 17 is a side elevational view of the cage assembly of FIG. 16;

FIG. 18 is a rear elevational view of the cage assembly of FIG. 16;

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of the support assembly of FIG. 15 shown apart from the base prior to receiving first and second posts; and

FIG. 20 is a front elevational view of a cross support member of FIG. 1.

Throughout the drawings, like reference numbers are used throughout these figures to refer to like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

As shown in FIGS. 1-20, a collapsible crate assembly 11 according to exemplary embodiments of the present invention is easily collapsible for storage and transportation. The collapsible crate assembly 11 includes a base 21 having a support assembly 31 secured thereto that strengthens the base to increase the versatility of the base.

A collapsible crate assembly 11 includes a base 21 and a support assembly 31 secured to the base, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 19. A post assembly 95 is removably connected to the support assembly 31, as shown in FIGS. 1-5. A second support assembly 31 may be secured to the base 21, as shown in FIG. 1, and a second post assembly 95 may be removably connected to the second support assembly. Alternatively, a cage assembly 71, as shown in FIGS. 16-18, may be removably connected to the support assembly 31.

The support assembly 31 includes a first support member 33 and first and second socket members 35 and 34. The first support member 33 is secured to the base 21. The first support member 33 has a first end 42 and a second end 44. A first socket member 35 is connected to the first end 42 and a second socket member 34 is connected to the second end 44 of the first support member 33. A first end 43 of a first post 41 is removably received by the first socket member 35, as shown in FIG. 19. A first end 49 of a second post 47 is removably received by the second socket member 34, as shown in FIG. 19. A first cross support member 51 is removably connected to the first and second posts 41 and 47. The first and second posts 41 and 47 are received by the first and second socket members 35 and 34 and the first cross support member 51 is received by the first and second posts when the crate assembly is in an assembled condition, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The first and second posts 41 and 47 are removed from the first and second socket members 35 and 34 and the first cross support member 51 is received by the first and second socket members when the crate assembly is in a collapsed condition, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.

The base 21, as shown in FIGS. 1-5 and 10, includes an upper deck 23 and a lower deck 25. At least one base support member 27, such as a stringer or block, extends substantially perpendicularly to and between the upper and lower decks 23 and 25. Fasteners secure the upper and lower decks 23 and 25 to the base support member 27. Typically, the upper and lower decks 23 and 25 are each made of a plurality of wooden slats 22 that are secured to the base support members 27 by fasteners, such as, but not limited to, nails or screws. Preferably, the base 21 is a wood pallet.

A support assembly 31 is adapted to be secured to the base support member 27 of the base 21, as shown in FIGS. 12, 14, 15 and 19. The support assembly 31 includes a support member 33 secured to the deck support member 27 and first and second socket members 35 and 34 secured to ends 42 and 44 of the support member 33. Preferably, the support member 33 is made of steel. A plurality of fastener openings 37 in the support member 33 (FIGS. 11 and 15) receive fasteners 39 (FIG. 12) to secure the support member 33 to the base support member 27. Preferably, the support member 33 is a steel channel, tubing or angle, but any suitable support member and material may be used. As shown in FIGS. 11, 12 and 14, the support member 33 is angle iron having an upper leg 36 extending substantially perpendicularly from a lower leg 38. The plurality of fastener openings 37 are disposed in the upper leg 36 of the support member 33, and the lower leg 36 rests upon the lower deck 25. The support member 33 extends along the length of the deck support member 27. Alternatively, as shown in FIGS. 15 and 19, the support member 33 is preferably channel steel, such as a C-channel. The C-channel support member has an upper leg 91 that may be secured to the upper deck 23 of the base and a lower leg 92 that may be secured to the lower deck 25 of the base. A side leg 93 of the C-channel has the plurality of fastener openings 37 to secure the C-channel to the base support member 27.

A first socket member 35 is secured to a first end 42 of the support member 33 and a second socket member 34 is secured to the second end 44 of the support member, as shown in FIGS. 2-5, 10, 11, 14 and 15. The socket members 34 and 35 preferably extend beyond the outer edges of the pallet assembly. Alternatively, the socket members 34 and 35 may be flush with the outer edges of the pallet assembly. Alternatively, the socket members 34 and 35 may extend upwardly through the upper deck 23. Preferably, the socket members 34 and 35 are welded to the support member 33, but any suitable method of attachment may be used. Preferably, the socket members 34 and 35 are made of steel.

The post assembly 95 includes first and second posts 41 and 47 removably connected to a cross support member 51, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. A first end 43 of a first post 41 (FIG. 13) is disposed in the first socket member 35, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 13. A first end of a second post 47 is disposed in a second socket member 34. Preferably, the second post 47 is substantially similar to the first post 41 shown in FIG. 13. Preferably, a footplate 61 is secured to the bottom of the socket members to prevent the posts from passing through the socket members. The footplate is preferably secured to the socket member by welding. Alternatively, fasteners 62 may be inserted completely through a bottom portion of the socket members to prevent the posts from passing through the socket members. Alternatively, the socket member may be formed as an integral member having a bottom portion to prevent an inserted post from passing therethrough. Preferably, the posts 41 and 47 are substantially straight over their lengths and are made of steel tubes having a substantially square cross section, although solid wooden posts may be used. Alternatively, the steel posts may have any suitable cross section, such as rectangular or circular.

A cross support member 51 is secured to second ends 45 of the first and second posts 41 and 47, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The cross support member 51 has a first end 53 and a second end 55, as shown in FIG. 20. A first socket member 57 is connected proximal the first end 53 of the cross support member 51 and a second socket member 59 is connected proximal the second end 55 of the cross support member 51. The socket members 57 and 59 secured to the cross support member 51 are adapted to be received by the second ends 45 of the first and second posts 41 and 47 when the crate assembly 11 is in the assembled condition, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. When the crate assembly 11 is in the collapsed condition as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the cross support member socket members 57 and 59 are received by the first and second socket members 35 and 34 of the support assembly 31.

The support assembly 31 is easily secured to existing wood pallets, thereby providing a strong crate assembly 11 that is easily and quickly assembled and collapsed for storage and transportation. As many support assemblies 31 as required for the application may be secured to the base 21. The crate assemblies 11 may also be stacked during the assembled and collapsed conditions.

To collapse the crate assembly 11, the cross support member 51 is removed from the first and second posts 41 and 47, which are then removed from the first and second socket members 35 and 34. Once the first and second posts 41 and 47 have been removed, the corresponding socket members 57 and 59 of the cross support member 51 are disposed in the first and second socket members 35 and 34, as shown in FIGS. 3-5. The first and second posts 41 and 47 are disposed on the upper deck 23 and beneath the cross support member 51, as shown in FIGS. 3-5 and 10, to easily and efficiently store and transport the collapsible crate assembly 11. Preferably, an interference fit is created between the base 21, the first and second posts 41 and 47, and the cross support member 51 to facilitate retaining the posts with the crate assembly in the collapsed condition. The crate assemblies 11 may be easily stacked in their collapsed condition to facilitate storage and return transportation.

The support assembly 31 secured to the base 21 may removably receive other structural configurations in addition to the post assemblies 95. As shown in FIGS. 16-18, a cage assembly 71 may be removably received by first and second support assemblies 31 secured to the base 21. The cage assembly 71 has first, second, third and fourth vertical support posts 73, 74, 75 and 76. A first lower horizontal member 77 and a first upper horiztonal member 80 are secured between the first and second vertical support posts 73 and 74. A second lower horizontal member 78 and a second upper horizontal member 81 are secured between the second and third vertical support posts 74 and 75. A third lower horizontal member 79 and a third upper horizontal member 82 are secured between the third and fourth vertical support posts 75 and 76. A first end 83 of the first vertical post 73 and a first end 86 of the fourth vertical post 76 are removably received by the first and second socket members 35 and 34 of a first support assembly 31. A first end 83 of the second vertical post 74 and a first end 85 of the third vertical post 75 are removably received by the first and second socket members 35 and 34 of a second support assembly 31.

Alternatively, gate assembliess may be removably connected between first socket members of first and second support assemblies and between second socket members of first and second support assemblies. The gate assembly has first and second vertical posts 73 and 74 with at least one horizontal member extending therebetween.

While an exemplary embodiment has been chosen to illustrate the invention, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.