Title:
Christmas tree stand with safety and filling features
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features includes a base container, a tree hold-and-lock mechanism and a watering mechanism. The base container has an open top and is adapted to receive and hold water and a cut evergreen tree. The tree hold-and-lock mechanism is connected to the base container top and operates like a drill chuck. It has vertically disposed plates facing the center that are functionally connected to a tree chuck collar. The collar is rotatable in clockwise and counterclockwise directions. When the tree chuck collar is rotated in direction, the plates move toward the imaginary vertical center line, and when the tree chuck collar is rotated in the other direction, the plates move away from the imaginary vertical center line. This enables a user to tighten and loosen the mechanism to hold and release a cut tree such as a Christmas tree.



Inventors:
Mercado Jr., Joseph L. (Easton, PA, US)
Rossi, Rose M. (Easton, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/089513
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/24/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G33/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VALENTI, ANDREA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kenneth P. Glynn (Flemington, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features, which comprises: (a) a base container having a bottom with a flat support area, and having sidewalls and an open top, said open top having an imaginary vertical center line, said open top being adaptable to receive an evergreen tree, said base container being adapted to receive and hold water for replenishing water to a cut evergreen tree placed therein; (b) tree hold-and-lock means connected to said base container adjacent its top, said hold-and-lock means including a plurality of vertically disposed plates facing said imaginary vertical center line, said plates being functionally connected to a tree chuck collar, said tree chuck collar being substantially horizontal and being rotatable in clockwise and counterclockwise directions, wherein when said tree chuck collar is rotated in one of said directions, said plurality of plates move toward said imaginary vertical center line, and when said tree chuck collar is rotated in the other of said directions, said plurality of plates move away from said imaginary vertical center line; (c) watering means connected to said base container, said watering means being a retractable hose and a funnel wherein said retractable hose has a lower end and an upper end and is substantially located in said base container except for said upper end, said lower end including stop means to maintain said lower end inside said base container when said hose is retracted, and said upper end having a funnel connected thereto.

2. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 1 wherein said stand further includes a water level alarm system having a low water level signal and a high water level signal, said signal being at least one of an audio signal and a visual signal.

3. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 2 wherein said alarm system is battery-operated.

4. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 3 wherein said base container includes a battery housing for said alarm system.

5. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 1 wherein said stand further includes a water level visual site for visual observation of actual water level.

6. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 1 wherein said base container includes a holding area to support said funnel.

7. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 6 wherein said holding area is a recessed area.

8. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 7 wherein said recessed area includes a door for concealing said funnel when not in use.

9. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 1 wherein said tree hold-and-lock means includes a lock mechanism with a locked and an unlocked position such that when locked, said tree chuck collar cannot be rotated, and when unlocked said tree chuck collar can be rotated.

10. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 1 wherein said plates of said hold-and-lock means are rotatably floating about a horizontal axis.

11. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 1 wherein there are at least three plates symmetrically positioned relative to one another.

12. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 1 wherein there are at least four plates symmetrically positioned relative to one another.

13. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 1 wherein said hold-and-lock means includes a fixed housing with fixed axial tracks, said collar includes tangential tracks positioned to cooperate with said fixed axial tracks, and said plates include rods fitted into said fixed axial tracks and slide pins extending from said rods into said tangential tracks, wherein when said collar is rotated, said arcuate tracks move and slide said pins, rods and plates axially inwardly and outwardly relative to said imaginary vertical center line.

14. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 13 wherein said tree hold-and-lock means includes a lock mechanism with a locked and an unlocked position such that when locked, said tree chuck collar cannot be rotated, and when unlocked said tree chuck collar can be rotated.

15. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 13 wherein said plates of said hold-and-lock means are rotatably floating about a horizontal axis.

16. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 13 wherein there are at least three plates symmetrically positioned relative to one another.

17. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 13 wherein there are at least four plates symmetrically positioned relative to one another.

18. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 13 wherein said tangential tracks are arcuated tracks.

19. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 13 wherein said plates include teeth to enhance holding a cut tree.

20. The evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features of claim 1 wherein said base container includes a weighted bottom with a non-skid surface.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an improved tree stand for cut trees such as cut evergreen trees, e.g. Christmas trees. It includes water level alarms, a concealed fill funnel and hose and a quick action tree chuck collar for locking onto and releasing the evergreen tree.

2. Information Disclosure Statement

U.S. Pat. No. 4,796,017 to Joseph T. Merenda describes a resistive water probe that is used in combination with a Christmas tree stand to detect a low water level. A low water situation activates lights in a Christmas tree ornament.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,493,277 to Lindy Pierce et al. describes a Christmas tree ornament that uses a water sensor that provides on demand an indication by light and/or sound if the tree needs water. A portion of the ornament contains a funnel side which allows water to be added to the tree. The other portion of the ornament contains the circuitry for the sensor. A sensor, in the form of a pair of electrodes or terminals, connected to the circuitry is contained in the water of the Christmas tree stand. The circuitry further includes a battery, an on/off switch, a resistor, a green LED, and a red LED mounted on a display panel. In operation, when the switch is turned on, the green light is energized indicating that the battery is good (a safety feature). If the red light is not on, it is an indication the tree needs water. Water can be added through the funnel side of the ornament. When the electrodes are immersed in the water, a circuit is completed and the red light turns on to indicate sufficient water for the tree.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,575,110 to Luc M. Couture describes a self-watering tree stand having an external reservoir for holding a supply of water and a tube leading from the reservoir to a compartment in the tree stand. The compartment has a float valve for controlling the amount of water which is allowed to flow from the reservoir to the tree stand, and also has a screen, the upper portion is made from a solid material and the lower portion is made from a screen type mesh which prevents debris and tree pitch from entering the compartment and interfering with the float valve.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,669,178 to William J. Petrovic describes an improved watering device for Christmas trees which has a hollow cylindrical base and has an elevated cylindrical opening for supporting a tree and clamps for tightening the base of the tree therein. A cradle for supporting a water bottle extends upward at the outer edge of the base. Directly below the cradle is a threaded opening for receiving the nozzle of the water bottle. An alternative embodiment provides a support bracket for hanging the water bottle cradle alongside a conventional tree stand, and a modified cap for directing the water to the desired location.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,799,437 to Gary Evans et al. describes an improved cut plant watering apparatus for detecting and indicating a predetermined water fill level to prevent overfilling and spillage when watering a cut plant, such as Christmas tree, mounted in a container comprising a conduit for carrying water from a fill location to the container, an indicator in communication with and responsive to a detector that, when used to fill the container with water, indicates that the predetermined water level has been reached so that a person does not inadvertently overfill the container, thereby eliminating water damage to surrounding objects or to the carpet and floor.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,809,691 to James L. Frantz describes a device for the irrigation of trees, both at the stand and lower trunk and branch areas of the tree. The device is composed of a decorative upper bell/funnel which can be mounted anywhere in a tree, a connected hose, and a lower bell/funnel connected to the other end of the hose. The upper funnel acts as a decorative object on the tree, while the lower funnel is placed concave down in the stand of the tree. The hose connecting the two funnels has a plurality of small holes along its length, and is attached to the trunk of the tree. In use, the user fills the upper funnel with water, which then travels through the hose towards the lower funnel located in the tree's stand. Some water dissipates from the small holes in the hose, thereby providing water for the trunk and lower branches, while the rest of the water exits the hose at the lower funnel into the stand, providing water for the tree to consume at a later time.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,819,607 to Thomas Carnesi describes an adjustable socket that includes a drive member, a plurality of jaw members supported by the drive member and selectively movable between fixed lateral positions, each fixed lateral position corresponding to a selected socket size, and a drive coupling operatively coupled to the drive member and manually movable to different positions corresponding to the selected socket size openings. The drive coupling has a substantially float cam surface with spirally configured guide elements thereon that engage cam followers on the jaw members to move the jaw members laterally. There are a plurality indexing slots in the drive member and an indexing and locking element that selectively engages and locks into an indexing slot upon a socket size openings being selected. The number of indexing slots correspond to the number of selectable socket size openings available. There are visible indicia associated with each selectable position to indicate the selected socket size openings.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,966,864 to Michael J. Flink describes a Christmas tree stand apparatus that includes a receptacle sized and configured for supporting receipt of a lower end of a tree trunk therein and a base for supporting the receptacle and Christmas tree in an upright position. Sight gauges are viewable about the entire outer periphery of the tree stand to facilitate visual indication of an amount of water within a reservoir of the receptacle. The apparatus further includes a container for holding a charge of water and a flexible hose extending from the container with a distal end that releasably connects to fill ports on the receptacle to fill water from the container into the reservoir. Connection of the hose distal end to a drain port on the base and subsequent actuation of a release valve facilitates drainage and emptying of water from the reservoir into the container. Brace members include disc-shaped feet providing enlarged surfaces which engage and hold the lower end of the tree trunk within the receptacle, without penetrating the tree trunk, upon threaded inward advancement of the brace members towards a center of the receptacle.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,969,620 to Pavel D. Okulov describes a DC powered water/moisture monitor suitable for use in combination with a Christmas tree stand to detect low water/moisture level. The alarm device set forth has application in many other fields including farmland moisture monitoring, house plant, soil moisture monitoring, water tank level monitoring inter alia. The device includes an alarm, a casing, electronic circuitry and sensors/probes/electrodes for detecting moisture/water. The unit is an integral unit and combines all of these features in a one-piece waterproof assembly. The arrangement is, therefore, portable and can readily employed in a variety of different environments.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,073,390 to Stephen R. Baudler describes a Christmas tree watering device for adding water to the water reservoir of a Christmas tree stand. A funnel-like opening for receiving water is disguised as a Christmas tree ornament. The disguised ornament is provided with a hinged section that opens to provide access to the hollow interior. The hinged section prevents debris from falling into the opening and serves to disguise the device. The interior of the disguised ornament communicates with a flexible tube to the reservoir located at the base of the tree. A warning mechanism to ensure that the reservoir is not filled to overflowing has a float that rises and falls with the water level in the reservoir, a bell, and a striker on the float arranged to contact the bell when the correct water level has been reached. The warning mechanism may be clipped to the lower end of the flexible tube or may be provided with a hook to hook over the side of the reservoir.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,073,522 to Thomas Carnesi describes an adjustable socket has a number of selectable socket size openings available. It includes a drive member, an indexing collar positioned within the drive member, and an axially moveable drive core positioned within the drive member that is manually rotatable to different positions corresponding to the selected socket size openings. There are a series of teeth on the drive core and the drive core has a cam surface with guide elements. Jaw members mounted to the drive member to move laterally between fixed lateral position upon rotation of the drive core, each fixed lateral position corresponding to a selected socket size opening. Each jaw member has a cam that engages one of the guide elements in the cam surface, so that with the drive core in a first axial position it is enabled to be rotated, thereby, causing the jaw members to move laterally to a selected socket size, and in a second axial position the teeth of the drive core and the teeth of the indexing collar interlocked to be maintained the selected socket size.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,087,946 to Wayne A. Menard, Jr. describes a Christmas tree stand that includes a substantially bowl shaped base component having a bottom wall, a continuous side wall depending therefrom and an open top in communication with an interior chamber. A fixed plate is vertically disposed within the interior chamber against which a tree trunk is placed. A pair of pneumatic telescoping arms are secured to the base component and extend into the interior chamber each having an engagement plate at a distal end. The telescoping arms are actuated with a foot pump in communication therewith allowing a user to conveniently thrust the engagement plates against the opposing portion of the tree trunk to secure the tree therein. The device also includes a fire alarm means and a water level sensing means.

Notwithstanding the prior art, the present invention is neither taught nor rendered obvious thereby.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features. It includes (a) a base container; (b) a tree hold-and-lock means; and, (c) watering means.

The a base container has a bottom with a flat support area, and has sidewalls and an open top. The open top has an imaginary vertical center line and is adapted to receive an evergreen tree. The base container is adapted to receive and hold water for replenishing water to a cut evergreen tree placed therein.

The tree hold-and-lock means is connected to the base container adjacent its top. It operates like a drill chuck or a pipe vice and includes a plurality of vertically disposed plates facing the imaginary vertical center line. The plates are functionally connected to a tree chuck collar and this tree chuck collar is substantially horizontal and rotatable in clockwise and counterclockwise directions. When the tree chuck collar is rotated in one of the directions, the plurality of plates move toward the imaginary vertical center line, and when the tree chuck collar is rotated in the other of the two directions, the plurality of plates move away from the imaginary vertical center line. This enables a user to tighten and loosen the mechanism to hold and release a cut tree such as a Christmas tree.

The watering means is connected to the base container, the watering means being a retractable hose and a funnel wherein the retractable hose has a lower end and an upper end and is substantially located in the base container except for the upper end. The lower end includes stop means to maintain the lower end inside the base container when the hose is retracted, and the upper end has the funnel connected thereto.

In some embodiments, the present invention evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features further includes a water level alarm system having a low water level signal and a high water level signal. The signal is at least one of an audio signal and a visual signal and may include both an audio and a visual signal. In some versions of the present invention evergreen tree stand, the alarm system is battery-operated. For example, the base container may include a battery housing for the alarm system.

The present invention evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features may further include a water level visual site for visual observation of actual water level.

In some embodiments of the present invention evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features, the base container includes a holding area to support the funnel. For example, the holding area may be a recessed area. Further, another preferred feature is wherein the recessed area includes a door for concealing the funnel when not in use.

The tree hold-and-lock means of the present invention evergreen tree stand with safety and filling features may include a lock mechanism with a locked and an unlocked position such that when locked, the tree chuck collar cannot be rotated, and when unlocked the tree chuck collar can be rotated. In some preferred embodiments, the plates of the hold-and-lock means may be rotatably floating about a horizontal axis, so as to more readily fit independently against various surfaces of a not so perfect tree!

The evergreen tree stand of the present invention may have two curvilinear plates, but in some preferred embodiments, there are at least three plates symmetrically positioned relative to one another. In some preferred embodiments, there are at least four plates symmetrically positioned relative to one another.

The present invention evergreen tree stand the hold-and-lock means may include a fixed housing with fixed axial tracks, the collar may include tangential tracks positioned to cooperate with the fixed axial tracks, and the plates may include rods fitted into the fixed axial tracks and slide pins extending from the rods into the tangential tracks, wherein when the collar is rotated, the arcuate tracks move and slide the pins, rods and plates axially inwardly or outwardly relative to the imaginary vertical center line.

The present invention evergreen tree stand tangential tracks may be linear or arcuated tracks, and are preferably arcuated tracks.

In some preferred embodiments, the plates include teeth to enhance holding a cut tree.

In some preferred embodiments, the base container may include a weighted bottom with a non-skid surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention should be more fully understood when the specification herein is taken in conjunction with the drawings appended hereto wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a front view of one preferred embodiment of a present invention cut evergreen tree stand with safety features and filling features;

FIG. 2 shows a top cut view of one preferred hold-and-lock mechanism in a fully open position and

FIG. 3 shows the same mechanism fully closed;

FIG. 4 illustrates a partial cut view of one preferred embodiment evergreen tree stand with a funnel and base recess and a concealment door;

FIG. 5 shows a partial cut view of a present invention evergreen tree stand with a battery operated water level alarm having both a buzzer (audio) and light (visual) alarm signal that activates when a water level goes too low or is filled too high; and,

FIG. 6 illustrates a partial side cut view of a visual sight water level window on a side of a present invention evergreen tree stand base, and shows a weighted base, as well.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows a preferred present invention evergreen tree stand 1. It includes a base container 3 that is very much a flattened hemisphere like an inverted bowl. It has a flat bottom 5, that may be and is preferably weighted, e.g. with metal stock or a sand filled compartment. It has an open top 7 adapted to receive a Christmas tree or other cut tree or bush that is mounted for display and adornment, such as fir tree 100.

Sidewall 9 extends from bottom 5 to open top 7 and includes a tree hold-and-lock mechanism with a tree chuck collar 11 and plates 7, 13 and 15 (and one opposite plate 45 behind tree 100 and thus hidden and not shown). Collar 11 rotates clockwise and counterclockwise and is connected to the plates such that movement in one directions moves the plates closer to one another (towards an imaginary center line 10), and the opposite movement moves the plates away from one another, so as to enable a user to easily close the plates against the tree such as tree 100 shown in this Figure, and to move the plates away from the tree to release the tree when desired. Lock 37 locks and unlocks this mechanism to hold and release the chuck 11 for use.

There is a fill hose 31 with an upper end 33 connected to funnel 29 (see also, FIG. 4 below), and a lower end 35, that is flanged to prevent complete removal of hose 31 from container 3. Door 27 conceals funnel 29 and hose 31.

There is a fill sight glass 25 for visual examination to determine water level. This is graduated and permits a user to observe water consumption rate over time and to decide when to refill container 3 to keep sufficient water supply for capillary absorption of water by tree 100 to extend its “life” and the time before needles discolor and/or shed.

There is an electronic or electric water level alarm system that senses when the water level is too low or too high and sets off a visual or audio signal or both. In this case, there is both a light 21 and a beeper speaker 23. There are also sensors and a signal chip. The alarm system is battery operated, but could be powered by AC power, or any available power. Battery compartment 19 affords easy access to install or replace batteries. Further detail is set forth in FIG. 5, discussed below.

A user could rely upon the sight glass 25 or respond to an alarm to fill container 3. Door 27 is opened and funnel 29 with hose 31 is pulled out for extremely easy access and easy pour into the funnel 29 to fill container 3. After filling, the funnel 29 and hose 31 are pushed into the recess and door 27 is closed to conceal them until future use. The alarm system signals if the user fills above a certain level to prevent overfill, overflow, etc. and to avoid damage to carpets, presents and the like. Convenient handle indentations such as indentation 39, enables a user to pick the stand up or otherwise carry it, without having to reach under it or into it. This is especially useful after a tree has been removed and remaining water exists. With the extra weight of water and the need to not spill the water until a sink or the outdoors is reached, such handles are extremely useful.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate top cut views of the critical working features of the tree lock-and-hold mechanism, showing fully opened plates or jaws and fully closed plates or jaws, respectively. Basically, the tree chuck collar 11 operates like a drill chuck or a pipe vice. Rotating the chuck opens or closes the jaws that grip the drill bit or pipe. Likewise, the present invention tree chuck collar is rotated to grip or release the tree 100.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, collar 11 has four arcuate tracks 61, 63, 65 and 67. Four plates 13, 15, 17 and 45 are connected to their tracks as illustrated with respect only to plate 17. The other plates are connected and function in an identical manner and are not shown in detail for the sake of simplicity.

Focusing on plate 17, there is a bracket and axle 55 that permits partial horizontal rotation of plate 17 relative to the imaginary center line 10 so as to tilt its face up or down relative thereto, to move readily accommodate a shape of a tree base side. Bracket and axle 55 is connected to rod 51 which is itself connected to vertical tracking pin 53.

Pin 53 is moveably positioned to respond to movement of tree chuck collar 11 (and, therefore, its tracks, including track 61). Fixed top 7 has a horizontal flat plate section with radial tracks such as track 8. When collar 11 is rotated counterclockwise from its position in FIG. 2 to its position in FIG. 3, the track 51 moves pin 53, and hence rod 51 and plate 17 into the center to grasp tree 100 (FIG. 3) along with the other plates 13, 15 and 45 that have moved concomitantly. Reverse rotation of tree chuck collar 11 moves the plates away from center and releases the grip of tree 100 for its removal when it has served its purpose.

FIG. 4 shows a partial cut view of container 3 of present invention device 1, showing details of bottom 5, recess 30, door 27, funnel 29 and hose 31 with its funnel-connected top end 33 and its flanged stop bottom end 35.

FIG. 5 and FIG. 6 show the same device 1 with identical parts identically numbered, but show different sections of base container 3 to show different features.

FIG. 5 shows a battery compartment 40, with access door 19, batteries 42, chip 44, sensors 41 and 43 for high and low water level alarms, respectively, light 21 and beeper speaker 23.

FIG. 6 shows container 3 with a stabilizing weight 47 and a level sight glass 25, the latter being described above.

Obviously, numerous modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. For example, although not shown in the drawings, a drain plug could be included on the side of container 3. As shown in the Figures, the container has no separate drain, and, when its use is completed, the tree may be removed and then the tree stand could be brought outdoors or to a sink, and the remaining water dumped out. Alternatively, some users might remove the tree and stand outdoors, lay them down and drain and disassemble the stand from the tree. With a drain and plug the stand nee not be tipped to dump, but can be drained into a sink, drain or otherwise outdoors, merely by removing the drain plug. Other variations could also be made. The shape, style, capacity and choice of manufacturing materials are also open to a designer. For example, the container could be brushed aluminum, shiny chrome, metal, color-enameled metal, plastic, plastic coated metal or combinations of materials. Further, although not shown, a conventional short cup or vertical teeth may be located in the bottom center of the container to help stabilize a tree. Other design and functional features of conventional tree stands could likewise be incorporated into the present invention devices. It is, therefore, understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein.