Title:
Foldable faucet assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A faucet assembly constructed with a plug and socket arrangement, suitable for use in a bathtub, shower, or basin. The plug may be a ball or cylinder and the socket may be spherical receptacle or a drum. The spout is configured to rotate out of the way when struck by a falling or moving object. A diverter channel may be provided to redirect water flow from the faucet spout to a shower head when the spout is rotated away from a tub filling position.



Inventors:
Liles, Charles D. (Harriman, TN, US)
Liles, Stephen E. (Cedar Park, TX, US)
Liles, Stuart D. (Crossville, TN, US)
Pittman, Gil D. (Leslie, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/073906
Publication Date:
09/07/2006
Filing Date:
03/07/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03C1/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LEE, KEVIN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LUEDEKA NEELY GROUP, P.C. (KNOXVILLE, TN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A faucet assembly for installation on a substantially vertical surface, comprising: a socket having (a) a wall, (b) a cup formed at least in part by the wall, (c) a socket inlet bore having a first end configured for attachment to a water source and a second end that terminates in the cup, and (d) a slot formed in the wall, the slot having a first extension limit and a second extension limit; a rotatable plug disposed in the cup, the rotatable plug having a plug bore and the rotatable plug being sized to fit snugly in the cup; a spout having a discharge passage that is in fluid communication with the plug bore, wherein the spout is attached to the rotatable plug through the slot and wherein the spout is rotatable between an extended position adjacent the first extension limit of the slot to an unextended position adjacent the second extension limit of the slot and wherein the position of the spout adjacent the second extension limit of the slot is downwardly directed to the unextended position; wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are in fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the first extension limit of the slot and wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are out of fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot.

2. The faucet assembly of claim 1 wherein the socket further comprises a socket outlet bore and the rotatable plug further comprises a diversion passage, wherein when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot, the socket inlet bore and the socket outlet bore are in fluid communication through the diversion passage.

3. The faucet assembly of claim 2 wherein the first extension limit of the slot is positioned whereby the spout is rotatable to an extended position having an inclination angle not more than approximately forty-five degrees above a substantially horizontal plane orthogonal to the substantially vertical surface.

4. The faucet assembly of claim 1 wherein the first extension limit of the slot is positioned whereby the spout is rotatable to an extended position having an inclination angle not more than approximately forty-five degrees above a substantially horizontal plane orthogonal to the substantially vertical surface.

5. A faucet assembly for installation on a substantially vertical surface, comprising: a socket having (a) a wall, (b) a cup formed at least in part by the wall, (c) a socket inlet bore having a first end configured for attachment to a water source and a second end that terminates in the cup, and (d) a slot formed in the wall, the slot having a first extension limit and a second extension limit; a rotatable plug disposed in the cup, the rotatable plug having a plug bore and the rotatable plug being sized to fit snugly in the cup and to rotate smoothly in the cup; a spout having a discharge passage that is in fluid communication with the plug bore, wherein the spout is attached to the rotatable plug through the slot and wherein the spout is smoothly rotatable between an extended position adjacent the first extension limit of the slot to an unextended position adjacent the second extension limit of the slot and wherein the position of the spout adjacent the second extension limit of the slot is downwardly directed to the unextended position; wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are in fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the first extension limit of the slot.

6. The faucet assembly of claim 5 wherein the socket further comprises a socket outlet bore and the rotatable plug further comprises a diversion passage, wherein when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot, the socket inlet bore and the socket outlet bore are in fluid communication through the diversion passage.

7. The faucet assembly of claim 6 wherein the first extension limit of the slot is positioned whereby the spout is rotatable to an extended position having an inclination angle not more than approximately forty-five degrees above a substantially horizontal plane orthogonal to the substantially vertical surface.

8. The faucet assembly of claim 7 wherein the first extension limit of the slot is positioned whereby the spout is rotatable to an extended position having an inclination angle not more than approximately forty-five degrees above a substantially horizontal plane orthogonal to the substantially vertical surface.

9. The faucet assembly of claim 8 wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are out of fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot.

10. The faucet assembly of claim 5 wherein the first extension limit of the slot is positioned whereby the spout is rotatable to an extended position having an inclination angle not more than approximately forty-five degrees above a substantially horizontal plane orthogonal to the substantially vertical surface.

11. The faucet assembly of claim 10 wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are out of fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot.

12. The faucet assembly of claim 5 wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are out of fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot.

13. A faucet assembly for installation on a substantially vertical surface, comprising: a socket having (a) a wall, (b) a cup formed at least in part by the wall, (c) a socket inlet bore having a first end configured for attachment to a water source and a second end that terminates in the cup, and (d) a slot formed in the wall, the slot having a first extension limit and a second extension limit; a rotatable plug disposed in the cup, the rotatable plug having a plug bore and the rotatable plug being sized to fit snugly in the cup; a spout having a discharge passage that is in fluid communication with the plug bore, wherein the spout is attached to the rotatable plug through the slot and wherein the spout is rotatable between an extended position adjacent the first extension limit of the slot to an extended position adjacent the second extension limit of the slot and wherein the spout is rotatable to a position that is on a substantially horizontal plane that is orthogonal to the substantially vertical mounting surface and wherein the position of the spout adjacent the second extension limit of the slot is downwardly directed to the unextended position and wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are in fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the first extension limit of the slot; and a nozzle in flow communication with the discharge passage, wherein the nozzle is directed substantially vertically downward when the spout on the substantially horizontal plane that is orthogonal to the substantially vertical mounting surface.

14. The faucet assembly of claim 13 wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are out of fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot.

15. The faucet assembly of claim 14 wherein the socket further comprises a socket outlet bore and the rotatable plug further comprises a diversion passage, wherein when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot, the socket inlet bore and the socket outlet bore are in fluid communication through the diversion passage.

16. A faucet assembly for installation on a substantially vertical surface, comprising: a socket having (a) a wall, (b) a cup formed at least in part by the wall, (c) a socket inlet bore having a first end configured for attachment to a water source and a second end that terminates in the cup, (d) a slot formed in the wall, the slot having a first extension limit and a second extension limit; a rotatable plug disposed in the cup, the rotatable plug having a plug bore and the rotatable plug being sized to fit snugly in the cup; a spout having a discharge passage that is in communication with the plug bore, wherein the spout is attached to the plug through the slot and wherein the spout is rotatable between a position adjacent the first extension limit of the slot to a position adjacent the second extension limit of the slot and wherein the position of the spout adjacent the second extension limit of the slot is downwardly directed to the unextended position; wherein the socket bore and the plug bore and the discharge passage are in fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the first extension limit of the slot; and wherein the torque required to move the spout between any two locations within a range from (a) a position adjacent the first extension limit of the slot to (b) a position adjacent the second extension limit of the slot is not more than approximately five foot-pounds of torque.

17. The faucet assembly of claim 16 wherein the socket further comprises a socket outlet bore and the rotatable plug further comprises a diversion passage wherein when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot, the socket inlet bore and the socket outlet bore are in fluid communication through the diversion passage.

18. The faucet assembly of claim 16 wherein the first extension limit of the slot is positioned whereby the spout is rotatable to an extended position having an inclination angle not more than approximately forty-five degrees above a substantially horizontal plane orthogonal to the substantially vertical surface.

19. A faucet assembly for installation on a substantially vertical surface, comprising: a socket having (a) a wall, (b) a cup formed at least in part by the wall, (c) a socket inlet bore having a first end configured for attachment to a water source and a second end that terminates in the cup, and (d) a slot formed in the wall, the slot having a first extension limit and a second extension limit; a rotatable plug disposed in the cup, the rotatable plug having a plug bore and the rotatable plug being sized to fit snugly in the cup; a spout having a discharge passage that is in fluid communication with the plug bore, wherein the spout is attached to the rotatable plug through the slot and wherein the spout is rotatable between an extended position adjacent the first extension limit of the slot to an unextended position adjacent the second extension limit of the slot and wherein at any rotatable position the spout has an inclination angle is not above a substantially horizontal plane orthogonal to the substantially vertical surface; wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are in fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the first extension limit of the slot and wherein the socket bore and the plug bore are out of fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot.

20. The faucet assembly of claim 19 wherein the socket further comprises a socket outlet bore and the rotatable plug further comprises a diversion passage wherein when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot, the socket inlet bore and the socket outlet bore are in fluid communication through the diversion passage.

Description:

FIELD

This invention relates to the field of faucets for water delivery. More particularly, this invention relates to faucets configured to provide protection from injury as the result of abrupt descent upon the faucet due to slips, trips, falls or other accidents.

BACKGROUND

Bathtubs, showers, basins and their plumbing fixtures are common features in homes, schools, sports facilities, clubs and similar establishments. Often bathtubs are combined with a shower create a dual-use shower system for showers and baths. It is widely recognized that many injuries result from falling while taking a shower or bath. These injuries may range from inconsequential to life-threatening. Many precautions are sometimes undertaken to reduce the risk of falling, such as creating a no-slip surface or installing hand rails. Despite these efforts, bathtub injuries remain a serious concern. Small children may also fall while bathing. They often stand up while playing in the bathtub. This increases their risk of falling and injuring themselves.

A faucet configuration typically incorporates a metal spout that juts from the wall of the bathtub, shower, or basin. Due to its protruding nature, this metal spout is a major safety concern for all users whether they are washing, showering, or bathing. Any fall by a user or abrupt descent of a the head, torso or a limb that collides with this metal spout will almost certainly cause injury.

In dual-use systems that contain both shower and bath, there is sometimes a diverter valve that is used to change the flow of water between the spout and the shower head. This is often accessed by a valve available to the user. This valve head typically protrudes from the wall or from the spout itself and, like the spout, the valve head is also a safety concern in certain implementations.

What is needed therefore is an improved configuration of a faucet assembly that better protects users from injuries due to collisions with the faucet or diverter valve head.

SUMMARY

With regard to the above, in one if its embodiments the invention provides a faucet assembly for installation on a substantially vertical surface. The faucet assembly includes a socket having (a) a wall, (b) a cup formed at least in part by the wall, (c) a socket inlet bore having a first end configured for attachment to a water source and a second end that terminates in the cup, and (d) a slot formed in the wall, with the slot having a first extension limit and a second extension limit. A rotatable plug is disposed in the cup, with the rotatable plug having a plug bore and the rotatable plug being sized to fit snugly in the cup. A spout in incorporated, with the spout having a discharge passage that is in fluid communication with the plug bore. The spout is attached to the rotatable plug through the slot, and the spout is rotatable between an extended position adjacent the first extension limit of the slot to an unextended position adjacent the second extension limit of the slot, and the position of the spout adjacent the second extension limit of the slot is downwardly directed to the unextended position. The socket bore and the plug bore are in fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the first extension limit of the slot and the socket bore and the plug bore are out of fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the second extension limit of the slot.

Another embodiment provides faucet assembly for installation on a substantially vertical surface, where the faucet assembly has a socket having (a) a wall, (b) a cup formed at least in part by the wall, (c) a socket inlet bore having a first end configured for attachment to a water source and a second end that terminates in the cup, and (d) a slot formed in the wall, with the slot having a first extension limit and a second extension limit. A rotatable plug is disposed in the cup, with the rotatable plug having a plug bore and the rotatable plug being sized to fit snugly in the cup and to rotate smoothly in the cup. A spout in also included, with the spout having a discharge passage that is in fluid communication with the plug bore. The spout is attached to the rotatable plug through the slot, and the spout is smoothly rotatable between an extended position adjacent the first extension limit of the slot to an unextended position adjacent the second extension limit of the slot, and the position of the spout adjacent the second extension limit of the slot is downwardly directed to the unextended position. The socket bore and the plug bore are in fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the first extension limit of the slot.

Yet another embodiment provides faucet assembly for installation on a substantially vertical surface, where the faucet assembly includes a socket having (a) a wall, (b) a cup formed at least in part by the wall, (c) a socket inlet bore having a first end configured for attachment to a water source and a second end that terminates in the cup, and (d) a slot formed in the wall, the slot having a first extension limit and a second extension limit. A rotatable plug disposed in the cup, with the rotatable plug having a plug bore and the rotatable plug being sized to fit snugly in the cup. A spout is also provided, with the spout having a discharge passage that is in fluid communication with the plug bore. The spout is attached to the rotatable plug through the slot, and the spout is rotatable between an extended position adjacent the first extension limit of the slot to an extended position adjacent the second extension limit of the slot, and the spout is rotatable to a position that is on a substantially horizontal plane that is orthogonal to the substantially vertical mounting surface, and the position of the spout adjacent the second extension limit of the slot is downwardly directed to the unextended position. Further, the socket bore and the plug bore are in fluid communication when the spout is positioned adjacent the first extension limit of the slot. A nozzle is provided, where the nozzle is in flow communication with the discharge passage, wherein the nozzle is directed substantially vertically downward when the spout on the substantially horizontal plane that is orthogonal to the substantially vertical mounting surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further advantages of the invention are apparent by reference to the detailed description in conjunction with the figures, wherein elements are not to scale so as to more clearly show the details, wherein like reference numbers indicate like elements throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a somewhat schematic top view of a faucet assembly according to the invention.

FIG. 2 is a somewhat schematic sectional side view of the faucet assembly of FIG. 1, through section A-A of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is somewhat schematic sectional side view of the faucet assembly of FIG. 1, with the spout depicted in a downward position.

FIG. 4 is a somewhat schematic sectional side view of another faucet assembly according to the invention.

FIG. 5 is somewhat schematic sectional side view of another faucet assembly according to the invention.

FIG. 6 is a somewhat schematic top view of a faucet assembly according to the invention.

FIG. 7 is a somewhat schematic sectional side view of the faucet assembly of FIG. 6, through section B-B of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 is a somewhat schematic side view of another faucet assembly according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is directed generally toward plumbing fixtures and more specifically toward bathtub, shower, and basin faucets. Various embodiments provide a faucet assembly for installation with a bathtub, shower or washing basin system. The most preferred embodiments address safety concerns related to a person falling on the protruding spout by permitting the bathtub spout to rotate away from the faller's trajectory when the spout is impacted by the faller.

Some embodiments also incorporate the utility of a tub/shower diverter valve so that water flows into the tub or basin when the spout is in one operating position (typically perpendicular to the wall). Then, by rotating the spout to a second operating position (preferably downward and parallel to the wall), water is diverted to the shower head. In the most preferred embodiments, this is accomplished by use of a ball joint installed in the faucet assembly between the water pipe connection and the spout. This ball joint permits access to the water line and allows water to flow through the spout when the spout is positioned perpendicular to the wall. When the spout is rotated, preferably approximately ninety degrees downward, water is diverted from the spout to the shower head. In alternate embodiments the diverter may be activated by rotating the spout in other directions such as up, left, or right.

While the preferred embodiment is best applicable to dual use bathtubs with shower heads, the spout may also be used with bathtubs or basins which have no shower head. The protruding spout is still dangerous to falling bathers, particularly small children. Therefore the rotating aspect of the device is still attractive as a safety feature. In such embodiments, the assembly may still be configured to shut off the flow of water to the bathtub completely when rotated approximately ninety degrees from its standard operating position.

Further understanding of various embodiments may be discerned by a review of the figures. FIG. 1 is a somewhat schematic top view of a faucet assembly 10 installed on a substantially vertical surface 11. FIG. 2 is a somewhat schematic side view of faucet assembly 10 observed at section A-A denoted in FIG. 1. Faucet assembly 10 incorporates a spout 12 that comprises discharge tube 14 and a ball 16. In FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, spout 12 is depicted in an “extended position,” meaning that the spout is extended outward from substantially vertical surface 11. FIG. 3 presents a somewhat schematic side view of faucet assembly 10 depicted in an alternate “unextended position.” That is, in FIG. 3 spout 12 has been rotated to a position that is adjacent substantially vertical surface 11. In this side view, the position of spout 12 is shown to be downwardly directed to this unextended position.

Discharge tube 14 and ball 16 may be formed from unitary material stock, or may be fabricated separately and joined together as illustrated. A receptacle 18 is assembled with a receptacle cover 20. Receptacle 18 may be joined with receptacle cover 20 by such means as adhesives, threaded connections, pressure fitting or similar means that form a substantially leak-tight connection between receptacle 18 and receptacle cover 20. The geometry of receptacle 18 and receptacle cover 20 form a receptacle wall 22. A receptacle cup 24 is formed in part by receptacle wall 22 and in remainder by receptacle 18. Receptacle cup 24 is substantially spherical, and has plurality of geometric axes of rotation that pass through its center. Each axis of rotation is an imaginary line around which a hemi-circular arc of receptacle cup 24 is rotated to define the surface of the receptacle cup 24. Each axis of rotation passes through the geometric center of the receptacle cup 24.

A discharge passage 28 is provided in discharge tube 14, and a nozzle 30 directs fluid flow out of spout 12 in a direction substantially vertically downward when spout 12 is horizontal. A ball bore 32 passes through ball 16, and ball bore 32 is substantially axially aligned with discharge passage 28. Receptacle 18 comprises a receptacle inlet bore 34. Receptacle inlet bore 34 includes threading 36 at a first end and the second end of receptacle inlet bore 34 terminates in receptacle cup 24. The threading 36 is configured to conform to water pipe thread standards so that faucet assembly 10 may be connected to a pressurized water source (not shown). In alternative embodiments, threading 36 may be replaced with a configuration suitable for brazing, clamping, or other means of attachment to a water supply line.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 1, 2, and 3 a slot 38 is cut into wall 22, and spout 12 passes through slot 38. Slot 38 has a slot first extension limit 40 and a slot second extension limit 42. Slot first extension limit 40 and slot second extension limit 42 conform to the cross section of discharge tube 14 the geometric centers of slot first extension limit 40 and slot second extension limit 42 define the major axis of slot 38. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3, the major axis of slot 38 falls on section line A-A of FIG. 1. The major axis of slot 38 and the center of the receptacle inlet bore 34 establish a single rotational plane through the center of receptacle cup 24 that is perpendicular to a geometric axis of rotation of receptacle cup 24. The rotational plane passes through the second end of the receptacle inlet bore 34 and the rotational plane passes through the major axis of the slot 38. Ball 16 and spout 12 are centered on the rotational plane so that spout 12 may rotate through a range of travel in slot 38 between the position depicted in FIG. 2 that is adjacent the slot first extension limit 40, to the position depicted in FIG. 3 that is adjacent slot second extension limit 42.

As depicted in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3, an O-ring seal 44 is positioned between ball 16 and receptacle 18, around receptacle inlet bore 34 and ball bore 32. The geometry of receptacle cup 24 may be configured to push ball 16 against O-ring seal 44, or in some embodiments a spring may be installed in receptacle cup 4 opposite O-ring seal 44 to provide pressure on O-ring 44 between ball 16 and receptacle 18 to ensure a leak-tight seal.

Preferably, ball 16 is sized to fit snugly within receptacle cup 24, but with sufficient clearance to permit spout 12 to move within its range of travel, and to permit ball 16 to rotate within receptacle cup 24, with minimal manual forces. Most preferably, ball 16 rotates smoothly within receptacle cup 24. “Smoothly” is a feature wherein the force required to move the spout 12 between any two positions in the range of travel of spout 12 is substantially the same as the force required to move spout 12 between any other two positions in the range of travel of spout 12. However, in some embodiments a certain amount of “sticktion” (i.e., extra force needed at the start of travel) may exist naturally, and it may establish a tendency for the spout 12 to remain at any location in its range of travel. In some embodiments “sticktion” may be deliberately incorporated in order to induce the spout to remain at one or more designated locations in its range of travel. Such “sticktion” may be added deliberately by incorporating spring loaded detents or similar mechanisms which cause the spout 12 to snap set at preferred locations, such as “up” and “down.” Preferably, the apparatus should be designed so that a maximum torque of no more than approximately three to five foot-pounds (approximately a few tenths kilogram-meters) of torque is required to move the spout 12 from a given location to another location within the spout's range of travel, including torque necessary to overcome “sticktion” resistance and resistance from O-ring seal 44.

Note that when, as depicted in FIG. 2, spout 12 is positioned adjacent the first extension limit 40 of the slot 38, the receptacle inlet bore 34 and the ball bore 32 and the discharge passage 18 are in fluid communication. The term “in fluid communication” refers to a configuration of two or more passageways that are structured and positioned so that a fluid may be moved from the start of the first to the end of the last passageway designated as being in fluid communication. That is, when spout 12 is positioned as shown in FIG. 2, the water supply is turned “on” by using an appropriate fluid pressure differential from the start of the first passageway (receptacle inlet bore 34) to the end of last passageway (discharge passage 18).

When, as depicted in FIG. 3, spout 12 is positioned adjacent the second extension limit 42 of the slot 38, the receptacle bore 34 and the ball bore 32 and the discharge tube 14 are out of fluid communication. The term “out of fluid communication” refers to a configuration of two or more passageways that obstructed in some manner so that a fluid may not be moved from the start of the first to the end of the last passageway designated as being in fluid communication. That is, when spout 12 is rotated approximately ninety degrees clockwise from the position shown in FIG. 2 to the position shown in FIG. 3, the water supply is turned “off” because no reasonable fluid pressure differential across the start of the first passageway to the end of last passageway causes water to flow from the start of the first passageway (receptacle inlet bore 34) to the end of last passageway (discharge passage 18).

As used herein, the terms “appropriate” and “reasonable” pressure are used herein to describe a water pressure that is high enough to establish and maintain water flow though the various passageways configured to conduct water, and that is low enough to avoid blowing out seals or bypassing surfaces that are designed to block the flow of water.

In some embodiments a faucet assembly may be mounted so that the spout is moved from positions that are not horizontal vs. vertical in order to move the spout from a position adjacent a slot first extension limit to a position adjacent a slot second extension limit. An example is illustrated by viewing FIG. 1 as a side view of faucet assembly 10 and FIG. 2 as a top sectional view of faucet assembly 10. Note that in such embodiments, the nozzle is typically rotated ninety degrees to vertical so that fluid discharge is always downward regardless of whether the spout is at a position adjacent a slot first extension limit, or at a position adjacent a slot second extension limit, or anywhere in between. In such an embodiment the spout may be moved from a horizontal position where the receptacle bore and the ball bore and the discharge tube are in fluid communication to another horizontal position where the receptacle bore and the ball bore and the discharge tube are out of fluid communication. In such embodiments, the movement of spout still occurs from a position that is adjacent the first extension limit of the slot (where the receptacle bore and the ball bore and the discharge tube are in fluid communication), to a position that is adjacent the second extension limit of the slot (where the receptacle bore and the ball bore and the discharge tube are out of fluid communication). However, in such embodiments, the movement of the spout is entirely in a horizontal plane. Some embodiments may include both horizontal and vertical movement of the spout. But, in the most preferred embodiments the elevation of the spout at the second extension limit of the slot is not higher than the elevation of the spout at the first extension limit of the slot. That is, the position of the spout adjacent the slot second elevation limit is “unelevated” from the position of the spout adjacent the slot first elevation limit. The reason that configuration is most preferred is that if the elevation of the spout adjacent the slot second extension limit is higher than the elevation of the spout adjacent the first slot extension limit, the safety aspect of the spout moving away when impacted by a falling person is significantly impaired.

FIG. 4 illustrates an aspect of some embodiments. A side view of faucet assembly 50 is illustrated, installed on substantially vertical surface 51. Faucet assembly 50 has a spout 52 that is comprised of a discharge tube 54 and a ball 56. Spout 52 is shown upwardly directed in an extended position, at an inclination angle 53 of about 25°. The inclination angle is referenced from substantially horizontal plane 55 that is orthogonal to substantially vertical surface 51.

Discharge tube 54 and ball 56 may be fabricated from a single piece of material stock, or may be fabricated separately and joined by welding, brazing, or other bonding mechanisms, or discharge tube 54 and ball 56 may be joined together by mating threads. A receptacle 58 is assembled with a receptacle cover 60. Receptacle cover and receptacle 58 form a wall 62. Wall 62 and receptacle 58 establish a receptacle cup 64. In the embodiment shown, receptacle cup 64 is substantially spherical, and has a plurality of axes of rotation each passing through the geometric center of receptacle cup 64. Ball 56 is sized to fit snugly but easily manually rotatable within receptacle cup 64, including the force necessary to overcome resistance to rotation due to o-ring seal 84.

A discharge passage 68 and a nozzle 70 are formed in discharge tube 54. A ball bore 72 formed in ball 56 is in fluid communication with discharge passage 68. A receptacle inlet bore 74 is formed in receptacle 58, and receptacle inlet bore 74 has a threaded section 76 for attachment of faucet assembly 50 to a water supply line (not shown).

A slot 78 is formed in wall 62. The minor axis (width) of slot 78 is sized to permit spout 52 to fit loosely within slot 78. Slot 78 has a slot first extension limit 80 and a slot second extension limit 82. In the embodiment of FIG. 4 first extension limit 80 and second extension limit 82 are configured to permit spout 52 to be positioned over a range of travel that exceed ninety degrees. A bore extension 86 has been formed in ball 56 to ensure fluid communication between receptacle inlet bore 74 and ball bore 72 when spout 52 is positioned as illustrated in FIG. 4.

In embodiments of faucet assembly 50 as depicted in FIG. 4, slot first extension limit 80 may be positioned to permit spout 52 to rotate one hundred and eighty degrees (or even at a reflex angle) from slot second extension limit 82. However, in embodiments of faucet assembly 50 where slot 78 is positioned to be vertical (as plumb), it is preferred that slot first extension limit 80 not permit spout 52 to be positioned at an inclination angle of more than approximately forty-five degrees above horizontal. If spout 52 is positioned at an inclination angle of more than approximately forty-five degrees above horizontal it may not rotate vertically downward if impacted by a person falling on or impacting spout 52.

FIG. 5 illustrates a side view of an embodiment wherein movement of a spout causes a diversion of water from the spout to a second passageway. Faucet assembly 90 is installed on a substantially vertical surface 91, and has a spout 92 that comprises a discharge tube 94 and a ball 96. In FIG. 5, spout 92 is depicted in a downwardly directed unextended position, A receptacle 98 is provided which is assembled with receptacle cover 100. Receptacle cover 100 and a portion of receptacle 98 establish a receptacle wall 102, and which together with receptacle 98 form a substantially spherical receptacle cup 104. Ball 96 fits snugly into receptacle cup 104. A discharge passage 108 and a nozzle 110 are formed in spout 92.

Ball bore 112 is formed in ball 56 and is in fluid communication with discharge passage 108. Receptacle inlet bore 114 in receptacle 98 is fitted with inlet threading 116 for attachment to a water supply line.

A slot 118 is formed in receptacle wall 102; slot 118 has a first slot extension limit 120 and a second slot extension limit 122. When spout 92 is rotated approximately ninety degrees counterclockwise from the position depicted in FIG. 5, receptacle inlet bore 114 and ball bore 112 are in fluid communication. However, in the position illustrated in FIG. 5, ball bore 112 is out of fluid communication with receptacle inlet bore 116 due to the configuration of ball 96 and inlet seal 132 and diversion seal 134. That is, water under reasonable pressure in receptacle inlet bore 114 cannot reach and flow through ball bore 112 when spout 92 is in the position illustrated in FIG. 5.

Ball 96 also includes diversion passage 126, and receptacle 98 includes receptacle outlet bore 128. Outlet threading 120 is formed as shown in outlet bore 128. Both inlet threading 116 and outlet threading 120 may be replaced with other elements for attaching faucet assembly 90 to water lines. When spout 92 is positioned as illustrated in FIG. 5, receptacle inlet bore 114, diversion passage 126 and receptacle outlet bore 128 are in fluid communication. That is, water under reasonable pressure in receptacle inlet bore 114 will flow through receptacle inlet bore 114 through diversion passage 126 and out receptacle outlet bore 130 when spout 92 is in the position illustrated in FIG. 5.

The embodiment shown in FIG. 5 is useful in applications where it is desirable to divert water flow from one output alternative to another output alternative. For example, the configuration of FIG. 5 may be used to provide water to a tub or basis when spout 92 is rotated approximately ninety degrees counterclockwise, and use to provide water to a shower head (connected through outlet threading 130) when spout 92 is positioned as illustrated in FIG. 5.

FIGS. 6 illustrates a top view and 7 illustrates a side view of another embodiment. Faucet assembly 140 is installed on substantially vertical surface 141, and has a spout tube 142 that is attached to cylinder 146. As the name suggests, cylinder 146 is cylindrical, and cylinder 146 has a single axis of rotation that is an imaginary line through the centers of the circles that form the end of the cylinder. Cylinder 146 is fitted snugly within drum 148. Drum 148 is also cylindrical and has a single axis of rotation that is congruent with the axis of rotation of cylinder 146. A portion of drum 148 forms drum wall 152, and drum cup 154 is formed in part by drum wall 152 and drum 148.

A discharge passage 158 and nozzle 160 are formed in spout tube 142. A cylinder bore 162 is formed in cylinder 146 and a drum inlet bore 162 is formed in drum 148. Water supply pipe threading 166 is provided for drum inlet bore 164. A slot 168 is provided in drum wall 152, and slot 168 has a slot first extension limit 170 and a second slot extension limit 172. The centers of slot first extension limit 170 and second slot extension limit 172 define the major axis of slot 168. Spout tube 142 has external spout threads 174 that mate with internal cylinder threads 176 formed in cylinder bore 162. An axial seal 178 is formed by an O-ring positioned in a circular slot formed in the section of drum cup 154 around drum inlet bore 148. First axial radial seal 180 and second radial seal 182 are positioned in circular grooves cut into cylinder 146. In preferred embodiments, faucet assembly 140 is assembled by (1) positioning axial seal 178 in drum cup 154, (2) positioning first radial seal 180 and second radial seal 182 on cylinder 146, (3) sliding drum 136 into drum cup 154 so that cylinder threads 176 are accessible through slot 176, and (4) attaching spout tube 142 to cylinder 146 by screwing pout threads 174 into cylinder threads 176.

The “balls” and “cylinder” described previously in various embodiments are examples of “plugs” according to the invention. The “receptacles” and “drums” described previously in various embodiments are examples of “sockets” according to the invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates an embodiment where the movement of the spout does not turn off the water supply from the faucet assembly. Faucet assembly 190 is mounted on substantially vertical surface 191 and has a spout tube 192 that is attached to plug 196. Socket 198 has a socket wall 202 that, together with a portion of socket 198, forms a socket cup 204. A discharge passage and nozzle 210 are formed in spout tube 192.

A plug bore 212 is formed in plug 196 and a socket inlet bore 214 is formed in socket 198. Attachment threading 216 is provided at the end of socket inlet bore 214. A slot 218 is formed in socket wall 202. Slot 218 has a slot first extension limit 220 and a slot second extension limit 222. Spout threads 224 on spout tube 192 are used to attach spout tube 192 to plug threads 226 in plug 196. An axial seal 228 is provided as shown between socket cup 204 and plug 196. When spout tube 192 is in the position illustrated in FIG. 8, socket inlet bore 214, plug bore 212, discharge passage 208, and nozzle 210 are in fluid communication. A bore expansion 236 is provided in plug 196 so that when spout tube 192 is rotated approximately ninety degrees clockwise from the position illustrated in FIG. 8, socket inlet bore 214, plug bore 212, discharge passage 208, and nozzle 210 are still in fluid communication. Thus, in the embodiment of FIG. 8, the rotation of spout tube 192 provides such functions as diverting the water stream for convenience and deflecting the spout as it is hit by a falling person to avoid injury, without turning off the water.

The foregoing description of preferred embodiments for this invention have been presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Obvious modifications or variations are possible in light of the above teachings. The embodiments are chosen and described in an effort to provide the best illustrations of the principles of the invention and its practical application, and to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. All such modifications and variations are within the scope of the invention as determined by the appended claims when interpreted in accordance with the breadth to which they are fairly, legally, and equitably entitled.