Title:
Foot-Assisted Snow Shovel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A foot-assisted snow shovel with a stepbar whereas the user presses down with the foot to initiate the scooping of snow, a guide bar which travels in parallel with the stepbar, a guide channel which the upper pivot points of both stepbar and guide bar are constrained within, a linkage member which holds the stepbar and guide bar parallel throughout their movement, and a scoop clevis fastened to the rear of the snow scoop to which both stepbar and guide bar attach. The parallel configuration of the stepbar and guide bar maintains the scoop in a horizontal orientation during the scooping and the tossing of snow. A protruding feature of the upper end of the guide channels allows the scoop to remain level maintaining its load of snow even as the machine is tilted backward. Rigid uprights with grips provide the framework and the means of handling and control for the user.



Inventors:
Dixon, Philip Allan (Missoula, MT, US)
Application Number:
11/091036
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/28/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01H5/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHIN, PAUL T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PHILIP ALLAN DIXON (MISSOULA, MT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A foot-assisted snow shovel comprising: a stepbar whereas a user presses down upon with his or her foot to initiate the scooping of snow; a guide bar which travels in parallel with the stepbar maintaining the scoop in a horizontal plane; a guide cannel which the pivot points of both stepbar and guide bar are constrained to slide vertically within; a linkage member which holds the stepbar and guide bar parallel throughout their movement; and and a scoop clevis fastened to the rear of the snow scoop to which both stepbar and guide bar attach.

2. A foot-assisted snow shovel as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a scoop tilt feature allowing the user to tilt the present invention while maintaining scoop and snow in a horizontal orientation to eliminate spillage.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

DESCRIPTION OF ATTACHED APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to the field of snow removal and more specifically to a foot-assisted snow shovel.

Snow shovels have long provided a means for removal of snow from walkways and other outdoor surfaces. However, the tools and methods commonly used for shoveling can place great strain on the lower back. In many cases, the old, young, and infirm are unable to physically perform manual snow shoveling due to the strength and endurance required. Typically, a conventional snow shovel is comprised of a handle attached to a broad scoop. To utilize the conventional snow shovel, a user would bend at the waist and thrust the scoop into or under a pile of snow and then lift and toss the burden of snow. These motions dictate that the user undergo significant physical strain primarily in the back. A shovel that does not require bending at the waist will alleviate stresses on the back muscles and allow more people to shovel snow for longer periods without fatigue or injury. Other devices have been invented for snow removal as described in the following patents:

U.S. Pat. No.PatenteeIssue Date
5,669,651VroegindeweySep. 23, 1997
6,343,822BaduraFeb. 5, 2002
4,302,894EmmaDec. 1, 1981
6,675,507PetruzzelliJan. 13, 2004
3,310,891SachaczenskiMar. 28, 1967
5,048,206JonesSep. 17, 1991

U.S. Pat. No. 5,669,651 Shovel With Lift Aid Attachment features an attachment that allows the user to lift the entire shovel with body weight applied to a foot pedal, yet the user is still required to bend at the waist in order to scoop snow.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,343,822 Pivoting Shovel Handle and U.S. Pat. No. 5,984,393 Shovel with Pivoting Head both feature handle configurations meant to ease back strain yet both still require the user to bend at the waist in order to scoop snow.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,302,894 Manual Shoveling and Dumping Devices and U.S. Pat. No. 6,675,507 Articulated Snow Shovel both demonstrate machines for the plowing of snow by a wheeled device, yet in not all cases may snow be merely pushed to the side. In some cases (a porch for example), snow must be tossed to another area.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,310,891 Snow Remover discloses a device meant to be pushed to gather snow into its scoop. A foot-operated spring assembly transfers energy to the movable scoop to toss snow to the side.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,048,206 Combined Snow Shoveling Device and Cart discloses a machine for the plowing of snow requiring the user to manipulate a plurality of handles to scoop, raise, and dump snow.

Prior technology does not adequately provide for the scooping of snow without both alleviating back strain and providing both a reasonable and efficient method of tossing snow.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The primary object of the invention is a useful machine that alleviates back strain during the snow removal process. It permits the user to use body weight applied to a foot pedal to scoop snow. A secondary benefit is the capability to tilt the invention while maintaining the scoop and contents in a horizontal orientation to eliminate spillage.

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, there is disclosed a foot-assisted snow shovel comprising: a stepbar whereas the user presses down with the foot to initiate the scooping of snow, a guide bar which travels in parallel with the stepbar, a guide channel which the upper pivot points of both stepbar and guide bar are constrained within, a linkage member which holds the stepbar and guide bar parallel throughout their movement, and a scoop clevis fastened to the rear of the snow scoop to which both the lower pivot points of stepbar and guide bar attach. The parallel configuration of the stepbar and guide bar maintains the scoop in a horizontal orientation during the scooping and the tossing of snow. Pressing down on the stepbar with the foot employs the machine to scoop snow with minimal effort and no back strain. A scoop tilt feature located on the upper end of the guide channels allows the scoop to remain level maintaining its load of snow even as the handle is tilted backward prior to the tossing of snow.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following descriptions, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein, by way of illustration and example, an embodiment of the present invention is disclosed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings constitute a part of this specification and include exemplary embodiments to the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. It is to be understood that in some instances various aspects of the invention may be shown exaggerated or enlarged to facilitate an understanding of the invention. Embodiments of this invention will now be described by way of example in association with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a front oblique view of a Foot-Assisted Snow Shovel in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a front view of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a front oblique view of the stepbar subassembly

FIG. 5, FIG. 6, FIG. 7, and FIG. 8 are sequential side views of the invention in one considered method of employment.

FIG. 9 is a front oblique view of an alternate embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Detailed descriptions of the preferred embodiment are provided herein. It is to be understood, however, that the present invention may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but rather as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed system, structure, or manner.

Referring to the drawings in detail as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3, and 4 is the preferred embodiment of the present invention. The upper pivot points of stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 are comprised of dowels that extend into the two guide channels 40 that are mounted to the two uprights 80. The guide channels 40 provide a constrained path for the upper pivot points of stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 to both slide vertically within as well as pivot about the axis of the dowels. The lower ends of stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 are also linked at scoop clevis 50, which is bonded to the rear of scoop 60. The front of the scoop 60 is defined as the distal portion (located farthest from the rest of the machine) where snow is gathered as the scoop 60 is pushed into snow. As the upper pivoting points of stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 are held within a vertical plane (with one exception to be examined), the members stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 travel in parallel and thereby hold the scoop 60 parallel to the ground.

A detail of these movable parts is shown in FIG. 4. For clarity, only one of the guide channels 40 is shown. Stepbar 10 is a structure forming an oblique angle with the lower end linked at scoop clevis 50 and the upper pivot point linked at linkage member 30. The upper distal portion of stepbar 10 is cantilevered providing a target for the application of pressure by the foot of the user to activate the machine. Stepbar 10 is linked to guide bar 20 by linkage member 30 by the same spacing as provided by mounting points on scoop clevis 50. Both stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 are permitted to swivel at the mating points at linkage member 30 and scoop clevis 50. The upper pivot points of stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 are allowed to travel vertically within guide channels 40. Scoop tilt feature 70 provides for the upper pivot point of guide bar 20 to extend forward out of the plane of the guide channels 40. Other than in this case, stepbar 10, guide bar 20, linkage member 30, and scoop clevis 50 form a parallelogram that maintain the scoop 60 in a horizontal plane.

Referring back to FIGS. 1-3, at the point where stepbar 10, guide bar 20, and linkage member 30 join, two springs 110 are attached and exert an upward force toward springs 110 attachment to upper bracket 120. This upward pull by springs 110 brings all movable mechanisms to a starting position for use of invention.

The upper end of stepbar 10 is where the user would apply downward force with foot pressure. As the upward force of springs 110 is overcome, the assembly of stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 begin sliding down the guide channels 40. Simultaneously, the anchor point of stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 at scoop clevis 50 exerts down and forward pushing scoop 60 forward along the ground. Snow is collected in scoop 60 until either the foot pressure end of stepbar 10 contacts the ground or foot pressure is removed.

The sequence of FIGS. 5-8 further illustrates the operation. FIG. 5 would represent the starting position of embodiment. As foot pressure is applied to the upper end of stepbar 10, the upper pivot points of stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 slide down within the confines of guide channels 40. The downward and outward pressure of the lower ends of stepbar 10 and guide bar 20 transfers to scoop clevis 50 and scoop 60. Scoop 60 extends along the ground collecting snow. FIG. 6 illustrates midpoint of motion and FIG. 7 illustrates the full extension of scoop 60. A reverse of these motions ensues as foot pressure is removed from stepbar 10 restoring the apparatus to the configuration illustrated in FIG. 5, albeit with scoop 60 loaded with snow. FIG. 8 highlights the scoop tilt feature 70. Scoop tilt feature 70 is a formed or welded protrusion at the upper end of guide channel 40 that allows the forward travel of the upper end of guide bar 20. When guide bar 20 is at its upper limit of travel in guide channel 40, if uprights 80 are tilted back, the dowel of the upper end of guide bar 20 leaves the vertical confines of guide channels 40 and moves forward into scoop tilt feature 70 due to the weight of scoop 60 plus snow contained therein. This allows the scoop 60 to remain horizontal and retain its load of snow. With the shovel in the arrangement shown in FIG. 8, with uprights 80 tilted back and scoop 60 remaining horizontal, the user can more easily and ergonomically raise the shovel and toss the snow. Grips 90 and 100 are shown throughout these figures as means of handling and controlling this device, yet any number of grip shapes, locations, or configurations may be employed.

FIG. 9 is an alternate embodiment illustrating a single upright 80 rather than the two parallel uprights shown in FIGS. 1-8.

While the invention has been described in connection with a preferred embodiment, it is not intended to limit the scope of the invention to the particular form set forth, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.