Title:
Folding play yard
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A folding play yard which includes a generally horizontal upper frame comprised of members including end sections pivotally connected to latches for maintaining the end sections in horizontal alignment when the play yard is deployed. A lower frame is comprised of a vertically moveable central release mechanism and diagonal braces extending from said release mechanism to lower ends of vertical members. Lower side members each having end sections connected to a central hinge may also be provided Vertical members join the upper and lower frames. Latch release means such as cables are connected to the latches and extend to anchors in the vertical members, whereby upward movement of the release mechanism and ends of the diagonal braces tightens the latch release means and releases the latches for folding.



Inventors:
Myer, Jeffrey L. (Lancaster, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/187277
Publication Date:
01/25/2007
Filing Date:
07/22/2005
Assignee:
Baby Trend, Inc. (Ontario, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D7/00; A47D13/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SANTOS, ROBERT G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
W. NORMAN ROTH (Davidson, NC, US)
Claims:
1. A folding play yard comprising: a generally horizontal upper frame comprised of upper side members, upper end members and upper corner connectors to which said side members and said end members are pivotally connected, each of said members including end sections pivotally connected to a latch for maintaining said end sections in horizontal alignment; a. generally horizontal lower frame comprised of lower side members, said side members each having end sections connected to a central hinge, a vertically moveable central release mechanism and diagonal braces extending from said lower side members to said central release mechanism; vertically extending members joining ends of said lower side members to said upper corner connectors; latch release means connected to said latches, said latch release means extending from said latches to moveable anchors carried by said vertically extending members, whereby upward movement of said central release mechanism pivots ends of said lower side members to move said anchors to tension said latch release means and release said latches.

2. The play yard of claim 1, wherein said latches each comprise: a support which includes a pair of spaced sides and a top, said sections each being connected to a support for movement about spaced horizontal axes, said top engaging ends of said sections to prevent substantial upward movement of said latch when said latch is locked; said latch having levers mounted between said sides for movement about spaced horizontal axes, first ends of said levers being biased into engagement with said ends of said end sections and a second end of one of said levers being connected to said latch release means for pivoting at least one of said levers out of engagement with said end sections to release said latch.

3. The play yard of claim 2, wherein said latch release means extend along said end sections of said upper members, along said upper corner connectors, and along said vertically extending members to said anchors.

4. The play yard of claim 2, wherein said levers are engageable with each other by a pin and slot connection such that pivotal movement of one of said levers about its pivot axis in a first direction caused by tensioning said latch release means causes the other one of said levers to pivot in a second direction about its pivot axis to release said latch.

5. The play yard of claim 4, further comprising at least one spring biasing said first ends of said levers apart from each other.

6. The play yard of claim 5, wherein said spring is a compression spring between said first ends of said levers.

7. The play yard of claim 1, wherein said vertically extending members include feet to which said lower side members are pivotally connected.

8. The play yard of claim 7, wherein said anchors comprise bosses slidably mounted for vertical movement along guide tracks in said feet, said end sections of said lower side members being pivotally connected to said feet and engaging said bosses during pivotal movement of said lower side members relative to said feet to tension said latch release means to release said latches.

9. The play yard of claim 8, wherein said upper members and said vertically extending members are tubular and said latch release means extend from said latches through said end sections of said upper members, through said upper corner connectors, and through said vertically extending members to said bosses.

10. The play yard of claim 1, wherein said central hinges hold said end sections of said lower side members in horizontal alignment, said hinges being moveable upwardly during folding to permit sections of lower side members on opposite sides of said hinges to fold toward each other.

11. The play yard of claim 10, wherein said upper corner connectors include springs affixing said end members and said side members to said vertically extending members to bias said end members and said side members downwardly for positioning alongside said vertically extending members during folding.

12. The play yard of claim 1, wherein said upper frame is rectangular.

13. The play yard of claim 1, wherein said release mechanism comprises: attached diagonal connectors, said diagonal braces being pivotally connected at inner ends to said diagonal connectors for rotation relative to said release mechanism about spaced axes in a generally horizontal plane, and a handle attached to said diagonal connectors, said handle being upwardly moveable from said generally horizontal plane to allow said diagonal braces to move out of said horizontal plane for folding.

14. The play yard of claim 13, further comprising a vertically extending shaft connected to and extending below said release mechanism to provide a support leg.

15. A folding play yard comprising: a generally horizontal upper frame comprised of upper side members, upper end members and upper corner connectors to which said side members and said end members are pivotally connected, each of said members including end sections pivotally connected to a latch for maintaining said end sections in horizontal alignment; a generally horizontal lower frame comprised of: a vertically moveable central release mechanism and diagonal braces extending from said release mechanism to lower ends of vertically extending members; vertically extending members joining ends of said diagonal braces to said upper corner connectors; latch release means connected to said latches, said latch release means extending from said latches to anchors, whereby upward movement of said release mechanism and ends of said diagonal braces attached to said release mechanism moves lower ends of said vertically extending members toward said release mechanism for folding; and wherein said anchors comprise bosses slidably mounted for vertical movement along guide tracks in said vertically extending members.

16. The play yard of claim 15, wherein said lower frame further includes lower side members, said side members each having end sections connected to a central hinge, said end sections of said lower side members also being pivotally connected to said vertically extending members and engaging said bosses during pivotal movement of said lower side members relative to said vertically extending members to move said bosses to tension said latch release means and release said latches.

17. The play yard of claim 16, wherein said latches each comprise: a support which includes a pair of spaced sides and a top, said sections each being connected to a support for movement about spaced horizontal axes, said top engaging ends of said sections to prevent substantial upward movement of said latch when said latch is locked; said latch having levers mounted between said sides for movement about spaced horizontal axes, first ends of said levers being biased into engagement with said ends of said end sections and a second end of one of said levers being connected to said latch release means for pivoting at least one of said levers out of engagement with said end sections to release said latch.

18. The play yard of claim 17, wherein said latch release means extend along said end sections of said upper members, along said upper corner connectors, and along said vertically extending members to said anchors.

19. The play yard of claim 17, wherein said levers are engageable with each other by a pin and slot connection such that pivotal movement of one of said levers about its pivot axis in a first direction caused by tensioning said latch release means causes the other one of said levers to pivot in a second direction about its pivot axis to release said latch.

20. The play yard of claim 19, further comprising at least one spring biasing said first ends of said levers apart from each other.

21. The play yard of claim 20, wherein said spring is a compression spring between said first ends of said levers.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS, IF ANY

None

BACKGROUND AND PRIOR ART

The present invention relates generally to play yards for confining infants, often called play pens; however, the teachings herein, while made in the context of a play yard, may also be applied to other similar structures such as beds and bassinets. The term “play yard” is intended to encompass all such structures. These structures generally include a lightweight frame and a soft covering, usually of open mesh fabric so that an infant can be viewed when in the play yard. The frame must be lightweight yet sturdy and safe when it is in a deployed configuration for use as a play yard and when it is in a folded or collapsed configuration for convenient storage. The individual frame members may be manufactured of metal, of high modulus fiber reinforced plastic resin, wood or other similar materials and the individual frame members may have any suitable cross sectional configuration such as solid sections, tubing, channels or rails. As used herein, the terms “vertical” and “horizontal” are approximate terms used for convenience to indicate general directions including those slightly off of true vertical and true horizontal.

It is highly desirable to be able to fold a play yard for storage essentially by a one hand operation. Some play yards require two hands to unlatch a latch which maintains separate sections of the frame members in alignment when the frame is deployed or to relatively rotate sections of the frame about an axis on which they are generally aligned to unlock a hinge connecting them so that the play yard can be folded for storage.

One example is U.S. Pat. No. 4,811,437 issued Mar. 14, 1989 to Dillner et al. which discloses latches centrally positioned in each of the top frame rails with which one hand must be sequentially used to fold the top rails. In one embodiment, the user must squeeze and move a latch release upwardly to allow the end sections of the various top rails to pivot downwardly toward the user's hand when releasing the latch. In another embodiment, rotatable tubing sections must be grasped and turned to release the latch. In each instance, numerous operations are required to release all of the latches in the top rails.

OBJECT

An improved play yard frame structure is therefore desired which may be collapsed for storage primarily by the use of one operation.

SUMMARY

The folding play yard disclosed herein includes a generally horizontal upper frame comprised of upper side members, upper end members and upper corner connectors to which the side members and said end members are pivotally connected. Each of the upper side members and upper end members includes end sections pivotally connected to a latch for maintaining the end sections in horizontal alignment. The play yard also includes a generally horizontal lower frame comprised of a vertically moveable central release mechanism and diagonal braces extending from the central release mechanism to vertically extending members. The lower frame may also include lower side members each having end sections connected to a central hinge. The play yard also includes vertically extending members joining ends of the diagonal braces to the upper corner connectors and latch release means connected to the latches. The latch release means extends from the latches to moveable anchors carried by said vertically extending members, whereby upward movement of the central release mechanism causes movement of the anchors to tension the latch release means and release the latches for folding.

The anchors may comprise bosses slidably mounted for vertical movement along guide tracks in the vertically extending members, the end sections of the lower side members being pivotally connected to the vertically extending members and engaging the bosses during pivotal movement of the lower side members relative to the vertically extending members to tension the latch release means to release the latches.

A presently preferred embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, not to scale.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the play yard in operative position in which some parts and proportions have been exaggerated for clarity.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the play yard of FIG. 1 in partially folded position.

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the play yard.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the play yard.

FIG. 5 is a front elevation view, to an enlarged scale and partly broken away, of an upper frame latch in its latched position.

FIG. 6 is a view like FIG. 5 showing the latch in its unlatched position.

FIG. 7 is a view, partly broken away, of a foot showing a lower frame side member in latched position.

FIG. 8 is a view, partly broken away, of a foot showing the lower frame side member in unlatched position.

FIG. 9 is an upper perspective view of a central release mechanism.

FIG. 10 is lower perspective view of the central release mechanism.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The perspective views of FIGS. 1 and 2 best illustrate a folding play yard 10 which, when deployed as seen in FIG. 1, is comprised of a generally horizontal rectangular upper frame 20 having upper side members 22, 24 and slightly upwardly bowed upper end members 26, 28 which are joined together at upper corner connectors 30, 32, 34, 36 to which the side members and end members are pivotally connected. Although a play yard having rectangular configuration with slightly bowed upper end members is shown in the drawings, those skilled in the art will understand that the upward bowing of the end members is a purely non-essential aesthetic choice and that the rectangular configuration shown and described is a presently preferred embodiment. Play yard configurations other than rectangular can be constructed using the teachings of this disclosure. Latches 40, 42, 44, 46 are located at about the midpoint of each of the upper side members 22, 24 and at the midpoint of the upper end members 26, 28 to maintain the sections of these upper frame members in generally horizontal alignment when the play yard is in its fully deployed position.

The play yard also includes a generally horizontal lower frame 50 which is comprised of a vertically movable central release mechanism 60 pivotally connected to four diagonal braces 70, 72, 74, 76 which extend preferably from at or near the ends of the vertically extending members to be described to the release mechanism 60. The lower frame may also include a pair of lower side members 52, 54 each having end sections connected to a central hinge 56. The diagonal braces may comprise rigid structural shapes such as tubes. Vertically extending members 80, 81, 82 and 83 are rigidly attached at their upper ends to the corner connectors 30-36 and the diagonal braces 70-76 are pivotally connected, preferably to the lower side members 52, 54 as shown in the drawings, which in turn are pivotally connected to the vertically extending members 80-83 near their lower ends. Springs are provided at each corner connector to bias the pivotally connected upper side members 22, 24 and upper end members 26, 28 downwardly in a direction parallel to the associated vertically extending member 80-83 to assist in folding the play yard to a compact configuration. The springs are depicted for convenience in illustration in FIG. 1 as tension springs 38; however, primarily for safety reasons, internally concealed torsion springs, not shown, will ordinarily be used for this purpose.

The latches 40-46 all being the same, only one (44) will be described with reference to FIGS. 5 and 6. Each latch is comprised of an inverted U-shaped support 402 having spaced parallel sides 404, 406 joined to a generally horizontally extending top 408. The support 402 is preferably fabricated of metal or any other suitably rigid material. The two separate sections of an upper side member 24 are connected to the support on opposite sides of the support 402 by pins, axles or any other suitable connection for pivotal movement about spaced horizontal axes A and B. Torsion springs, not shown, are preferably connected to the end sections and to the support 402 on the axes A and B to bias the end sections of the supper side member in the directions indicated by the arrows to assist in folding the play yard. It will be seen from FIG. 5 that the top 408 of the support 402 engages the upper edge of the ends of the sections of member 24 to prevent upward movement of the latch when the latch is locked to maintain the play yard in the deployed configuration. The latch 44 has a pair of levers 410, 412 mounted between the sides 404, 406 of the support 402 for pivotal movement about spaced horizontal axes D, E. In the embodiment shown, the upper first ends 414, 416 of the levers are spring biased into engagement with the ends of the end sections of the upper side member 24 of the frame to maintain the play yard in a stable deployed configuration. A lower second end 418 of at least one of the levers 412 is connected to one (94) of latch release means 90-96 such as tension cables, cords, wires or straps, 90-96 for pivoting the lever 412 in a counter clockwise direction (as seen in FIG. 5) about its axis D to move the upper first end 416 of the lever 412 out of engagement with the end of the upper side member 24 to release the latch. A compression spring 422 may be deployed between the upper first ends 414 and 416 of the levers 410, 412 to provide the spring biasing of the upper first ends 414, 416 of the levers into engagement with the ends of the end sections of the upper side or end members of the upper frame 20.

The levers are engageable with each other such that pivotal movement of one (412) of the levers about its pivot axis (D) in a first (counterclockwise in FIG. 5) direction caused by tensioning the associated latch release means causes the other (410) one of the levers to pivot in a second (clockwise) direction about its pivot axis (E) to release said latch. Both of the levers include a guide slot 426 which receives a pin 422 affixed to the other lever such that movement of one of the levers about its pivot axis in a first direction caused by tensioning the latch release means (94 in FIG. 5) causes the other one of the levers to pivot in a second opposite rotational direction about its pivot axis E to release the latch unfolding the play yard. At least one cable guide 430 may be provided extending between and supported by the spaced sides 404, 406 of the U-shaped support 402 for receiving the latch release means 94 comprising a wire or cable and, optionally, a cable sheath S (FIG. 6). A second cable guide 432 may also be provided as shown and, optionally, additional compression springs 425, 427 may be provided between the lower second ends 418, 420 of the levers and the associated cable guide 430, 432 to bias the levers toward the latched or locked position. FIG. 5 shows the lower springs 425 and 427 which have been omitted from FIG. 6 for comparison. Preferably, three compression springs 422, 425 and 427 will be employed for safety purposes; however, it is possible to construct a functional latch with only the compression spring 422.

Turning now to FIG. 7, a support foot 85, 86, 87, 88 is provided at the lower end of each of the vertically extending members 80-84. End sections of the lower side members 52, 54 are pivotally connected to the feet 85-88 for movement about horizontal axes G. The manner of connection of the side members 52 to the feet 85 may take the form, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, of a horizontal pin or axle which extends between spaced flanges provided on the feet 85. The side members 52 may each have a plug 53 inserted into the end, the plug having a latch lip 55. Anchors 100 for the latch release means are provided in the form of slidably mounted bosses 850 which are mounted in the feet 85-88 for vertical movement along guide tracks 852 formed in the feet 85-88. A fastener 102 is affixed to the lower end of each latch release means 90 and engages the lower surface of the boss 850. Tension on the latch release means urges the boss 850 upwardly in the track 852 against a stop in the form of the underside of the lip 55 at the end of the lower side members 52. The end sections of the lower side members 52 are maintained in generally horizontal alignment by the hinges 56 when the play yard is in its deployed configuration. Cable guides 81, similar to the cable guides 430, 432 described above, may be fabricated in the feet 85 and sized appropriately to receive a cable sheath S if provided.

The latch release means 90-96 are connected at their respective upper ends to one of the latches 40-46 and extend from the latches along the end sections of the upper members 22-28, thence along the upper corner connectors 30-36 where the latch release means are bent to extend downwardly along the vertically extending members 80-84 to the anchors 100.

As best seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, to collapse and fold the play yard from its deployed position to its storage position, the user may simply use a single hand to pull upwardly on a grasping loop 62 or a handle which extends upwardly through an aperture in the floor panel (not shown) of the play yard such that upward movement of the release mechanism 60 and attached ends of the diagonal braces 70-76 pulls the end sections of the lower side members 52, 54 upwardly and causes the vertically extending members 80-84 to move inwardly toward the release mechanism 60. As the lower side members fold upwardly at the hinges 56 the lips 55 downwardly move the bosses 850 to tension the latch release means 90-96 and essentially simultaneously release each of the latches 40-46 permitting the end sections of the upper side members 22, 24 and upper end members 26, 28 to move out of horizontal alignment for folding. The lower side members 52, 54 assume a generally vertical orientation when the play yard is collapsed for storage. The hinges 56 are designed to prevent downward movement of the lower side members 52, 54 from a generally horizontal alignment when the play yard is deployed. Upward pulling of the loop 62 permits the play yard to fold to the intermediate position shown in FIG. 2 and thence to a fully collapsed configuration for convenient storage. The tension springs 38 assist in folding the play yard when desired.

In its preferred configuration, the central release mechanism 60 comprises a handle shown in the form of a loop 62 affixed to a pair of attached diagonal connectors 63, 64 to which is the diagonal braces 70, 72, 74, 76 are pivotally connected at their inner ends for rotation about spaced axes in a horizontal plane. The loop 62 is used to move the release mechanism upwardly from the horizontal plane occupied by the diagonal braces when the play yard is in a deployed configuration to allow the diagonal braces 70, 72, 74, 76 to allow the play yard to be folded.

The release mechanism 60 also includes a vertically extending shaft 66 which extends below the attached diagonal connectors 63, 64 to provide a central support leg.

As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the frame is covered with fabric and padded at suitable locations with the loop 62 of the release mechanism 60 being accessible from above the bottom panel of the play yard.

Persons skilled in the art will readily appreciate that various additional modifications can be made from the presently preferred embodiment thus the scope of protection is intended to be defined only by the appended claims. Reference numerals are parenthetically provided in the claims for convenience and ease of understanding the claims only and not by way of limitation.