Title:
Hand truck-mountable snowplow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hand truck-mountable snowplow is described. The snowplow includes a plow blade includes a front snow-engaging surface and a rear surface. The snowplow further includes a mounting apparatus having a connecting member and a toe plate-engaging member. The connecting member can be connected at a first end to the rear surface of the plow blade. The toe plate-engaging member is attached to the connecting member at a second end of the connecting member. The toe plate-engaging member includes an upper engagement plate and a lower engagement plate. The upper and lower engagement plates are in substantially parallel planes and are separated by a distance of at least the thickness of a toe plate of a hand truck. The snowplow further includes a securing mechanism adapted to hold the toe plate-engaging member in place relative to the toe plate when the toe plate is received by the toe plate-engaging member.



Inventors:
Flanagan, Daniel J. (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/235282
Publication Date:
03/29/2007
Filing Date:
09/26/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01H5/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCGOWAN, JAMIE LOUISE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IP GROUP OF DLA PIPER LLP (US) (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hand truck-mountable snowplow comprising: a plow blade comprising a front snow-engaging surface and a rear surface; and a mounting apparatus comprising a connecting member connected at a first end to the rear surface of the plow blade, a toe plate-engaging member attached to the connecting member at a second end of the connecting member, the toe plate-engaging member comprising an upper engagement plate and a lower engagement plate, the upper and lower engagement plates being in substantially parallel planes and being separated by a distance of at least the thickness of a toe plate of a hand truck, and a securing mechanism adapted to hold the toe plate-engaging member in place relative to the toe plate when the toe plate is received by the toe plate-engaging member.

2. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the connecting member comprises a unitary sheet of metal.

3. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 2, wherein the metal is steel.

4. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the connecting member and toe plate-engaging member are formed of unitary construction.

5. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the connecting member is curved such that the first end and second end are disposed at a vertical angle of between about 50 degrees and about 100 degrees.

6. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the connecting member is curved such that the first end and second end are disposed at a vertical angle of between about 70 degrees and about 80 degrees.

7. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the connecting member is curved such that, in use, vertical rails of a hand truck on which the snowplow is mounted are disposed at an angle of between about 30 degrees and about 60 degrees off horizontal.

8. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the connecting member is curved such that, in use, vertical rails of a hand truck on which the snowplow is mounted are disposed at an angle of between about 40 degrees and about 50 degrees off horizontal.

9. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the connecting member is curved such that the first end and second end are disposed at a horizontal angle of between about 5 degrees and about 25 degrees.

10. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the plow blade is disposed at a horizontal angle of between about 12 degrees and about 18 degrees with respect to a front face of the toe plate-engaging member.

11. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the securing mechanism comprises a threaded member and an aperture in the upper engagement plate adapted to receive the threaded member.

12. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 11, wherein, in use, the threaded member frictionally engages the top surface of the toe plate when received by the aperture.

13. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 11, wherein the aperture is threaded.

14. The hand truck-mountable snowplow of claim 1, wherein the securing mechanism comprises a flexible strap having a first end attached to one of the upper or lower engagement plates, and a second end with a first connector, and a second connector adapted to receive the first connector, the second connector being attached to the one of the upper or lower engagement plates to which the first end of the strap is not attached.

15. A method of moving snow comprising: providing a hand truck-mountable snowplow comprising a plow blade, a mounting apparatus and a securing mechanism, the mounting apparatus comprising a toe plate-engaging member attached to the plow blade, the toe plate-engaging member comprising an upper engagement plate and a lower engagement plate, the upper and lower engagement plates being in substantially parallel planes and defining a slot for receiving a toe plate of a hand truck; providing the hand truck having the toe plate; providing snow; sliding the mounting apparatus onto the toe plate such that the upper engagement plate is juxtaposed against a top surface of the toe plate and the lower engagement plate is juxtaposed against a bottom surface of the toe plate; securing the mounting apparatus on the hand truck with the securing mechanism; and pushing the hand truck to engage the plow blade with the snow, thereby moving the snow.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the securing step comprises threadedly engaging a threaded member with an aperture in the upper engagement plate such that the threaded member frictionally engages the top surface of the toe plate.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the securing step comprises wrapping a flexible strap connected to one of the upper or lower engagement plates around the back of the toe plate and connecting the strap to the one of the upper or lower engagement plates to which the strap was not already attached.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to the field of snow and debris removal, and specifically to manual relocation of snow and debris.

BACKGROUND

The removal of snow has been a laborious chore for owners of homes, businesses and others for as long as can be remembered. When a significant snow storm occurs, the routine of performing day-to-day tasks is abandoned so people can go to work removing the snow from traveled areas. Commonly, snow removers use hand-held shovels to remove snow from sidewalks and driveways. Shoveling snow with hand held devices requires that the user lift the snow into the air, carry it a certain distance and deposit it in another location. Because snow can be heavy, especially if it is wet, this procedure is prone to cause back pain and soreness throughout the body. Far worse, fatal heart attacks and strokes induced by the strenuous activity have even been documented.

Mechanized snow removal means have been developed to remove snow in a faster and more efficient fashion. Removal of snow from large parking lots, streets and some large driveways is now commonly performed using snowplows, which can be specialized vehicles adapted specifically for clearing snow or pick up trucks or other vehicles retrofitted with suitable plows. However, such devices are too large and cumbersome for use in removing snow from small areas, such as sidewalks. Moreover, the devices are expensive. Many home business owners cannot afford to purchase a mechanized plow or to hire a plow owner to help remove snow.

Smaller mechanized snow blowers have been developed to assist users in removing snow from areas of limited size. However, snow blowers also have disadvantages. Although they are more affordable than a specialized snow removal vehicle, snow blowers are expensive. Many people cannot afford them. Another problem is that snow blowers can be difficult to start and, once started, can be challenging to operate. User's of limited strength often have difficulty turning and otherwise maneuvering the devices. Also, it is difficult to accurately place the snow that is removed. Often, wind can redirect the blown snow back onto the surface being cleared. The maintenance and upkeep of snow blowers is also a burden to users.

Hand-operated, wheeled devices for removing snow have also been proposed. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,350,797 to Dassinger describes a snowplow that can be mounted on a wheeled frame having a pair of spaced-apart tubular members. The wheeled frame is specially designed to mount any of several utility devices, including the snowplow. Unfortunately, the snowplow cannot be attached to an ordinary device that a home or business owner may have available. Therefore, a person interested in using the snowplow must purchase the specialized wheeled frame along with the snowplow. The additional expense of purchasing the frame and the additional space needed to store the frame may dissuade some potential users from acquiring and using the device.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,161,073 to Oakes describes a snow scoop that can be mounted on a hand truck. The snow scoop is rotatably attached to a horizontal, elongated bar by a pair of hinge straps and cotter pins. The bar, in turn, is rotatably attached to the vertical frame of the hand truck by a pair of U-shaped brackets. Although Oakes overcomes the problem of needing a specialized frame, it is necessary to maintain and operate a rather complex attachment mechanism, possibly dissuading potential users. Moreover, Oakes merely provides a scoop, as opposed to a plow blade.

What is needed is an affordable snowplow that can be easily mounted on an ordinary device that home or business owners may already have available.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a hand truck-mountable snowplow. The snowplow includes a mounting apparatus and a plow blade having a front snow-engaging surface and a rear surface. The mounting apparatus includes a connecting member connected at a first end to the rear surface of the plow blade. At its second end, the connecting member is attached to a toe plate-engaging member for engaging the toe plate of a hand truck. The toe plate-engaging member includes an upper engagement plate and a lower engagement plate. The upper and lower engagement plates are in substantially parallel planes and are separated by a distance of at least the thickness of a toe plate of a hand truck. The mounting apparatus further includes a securing mechanism adapted to hold the toe plate-engaging member in place relative to the toe plate when the toe plate is received by the toe plate-engaging member.

The invention also relates to a method of moving snow. The method involves the steps of providing a hand truck-mountable snowplow. The hand truck-mountable snowplow includes a plow blade, a mounting apparatus and a securing mechanism. The mounting apparatus includes a toe plate-engaging member attached to the plow blade. The toe plate-engaging member includes an upper engagement plate and a lower engagement plate. The upper and lower engagement are in substantially parallel planes and define a slot for receiving a toe plate of a hand truck. The method also includes the step of sliding the mounting apparatus onto the toe plate such that the upper engagement plate is juxtaposed against a top surface of the toe plate and/or the lower engagement plate is juxtaposed against a bottom surface of the toe plate. The method also involves the steps of securing the mounting apparatus on the hand truck with the securing mechanism, and pushing the hand truck to engage the plow blade with the snow, thereby moving the snow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings forms which are presently preferred; it being understood, that this invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a hand truck-mountable snowplow showing the top, rear and right side.

FIG. 2. is right side view of the hand truck-mountable snowplow of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the hand truck-mountable snowplow of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the hand truck-mountable snowplow of FIG. 1 mounted on a hand truck.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a hand truck-mountable snowplow showing the top, rear and right side.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the hand truck-mountable snowplow of FIG. 5 mounted on a hand truck.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

It will be appreciated that the following description is intended to refer to specific embodiments of the invention selected for illustration in the drawings and is not intended to define or limit the invention, other than in the appended claims.

In the figures, in which like reference numerals indicate like elements, there are shown preferred embodiments of a hand truck-mountable snowplow. The hand truck-mountable snowplow 10 includes a plow blade 12 with a front snow-engaging surface 14 and a rear surface 16. Preferably, the plow blade 12 is formed from a rigid polymer. It has been found that a plastic plow blade can slide well over rough surfaces, such as aggregated concrete.

The hand truck-mountable snowplow 10 also includes a mounting apparatus 18, which has a connecting member 20 and a toe plate-engaging member 22. The toe plate-engaging member 22 includes an upper engagement plate 24 and a lower engagement plate 26. The upper and lower engagement plates 24, 26 are disposed in substantially parallel planes. The upper and lower engagement plates 24, 26 are separated by a distance of at least the thickness of a toe plate of a truck so as to define a slot 28 for receiving the toe plate. When the slot 28 has a thickness of about ¼ inch, it can accommodate the toe plate of almost any hand truck. A slot 28 having a narrower thickness can still accommodate most toe plates.

The connecting number 20 is attached, at a first end, to the rear surface 16 of the plow blade 12. Alternatively, the connecting number 20 can be attached to the front snow-engaging surface 14, top, sides or bottom of the plow blade 12. The connecting member 20 and plow blade 12 are preferably connected by a set of connectors 30 such as bolts and nuts, screws, rivets or the like. However, the connecting member 20 and plow blade 12 can be attached by any other suitable means, such as an adhesive, a friction fit, a snap fit or a bayonet connection. The connecting member 20 can also be formed integrally with the plow blade 12, as by unitary construction.

The connecting member 20 is attached to the toe plate-engaging member 22 at the second end of the connecting member. The connecting member 20 and the toe plate-engaging member 22 can be formed integrally by unitary construction. Alternatively, the connecting member 20 and the toe plate-engaging member 22 can be formed separately and subsequently attached to each other. If formed separately, the connecting member 20 and the toe plate-engaging member 22 can be attached by welding, such as to a projection on the front of the toe plate-engaging member 22, or by forming a slot in the toe plate-engaging member 22 for receiving the second end of the connecting member 20. Alternatively, the connecting member 20 and the toe plate-engaging member 22 can be attached by extending the second end of the connecting member 20 over the top of the upper engagement plate 24 or under the bottom of the lower engagement plate 26. In any of these or other suitable configurations, the connecting member 20 and the toe plate-engaging member 22 can be secured together using a welded joint, bolts, screws, rivets, mechanical fits, adhesives or the like.

As shown in the drawings, it is preferred that the connecting member 20 be formed from a single sheet of rigid material so as to minimize inelastic bending of the connecting member 20 when the hand truck-mountable snowplow 10 is used to move snow. A degree of elastic flexibility, however, can be desirable when the snowplow 10 is to be used on rough surfaces or where obstacles may be encountered. The connecting member 20 can be made of metal, such as steel. If made from steel, a sheet of 3/16 inch thickness and 6 inches wide can be used. Alternatively, the connecting member 20 can be made of a rigid polymer.

As shown in FIG. 1, it is preferred that the connecting member 20 be curved so as to establish a horizontal displacement angle A between the front face of the toe plate-engaging member 22 and the longitudinal axis of the plow blade 12. The horizontal displacement angle A, which should be measured when looking down at the top of the hand truck-mountable snowplow 10, is preferably between about 5° and about 25°, more preferably between about 12° and about 18°, most preferably about 15°. Because FIG. 1 is shown in perspective, the angle A appears to be smaller than it is when measured from above. The horizontal angle A allows the plow blade 12 to push snow to the right when the snow plow is pushed forward. Of course, the angle A could be modified to push snow to the left if desired.

As shown in FIG. 2, the connecting member 20 is also curved so as to define a vertical angle between the first end and the second end of the connecting member 20. The vertical angle B is preferably between about 50° and 100°, more preferably between about 60° and about 90°, most preferably between about 70° and about 80°. It is preferred that the first end of the connecting member 20 has a vertically concave front face to accommodate a vertically convex rear surface 16 of the plow blade 12. If this is the case, the angle B can be measured between the plane of the top surface of the toe plate-engaging member 22 (or slot 28 or bottom of the lower engagement plate 26) and a line T tangent to the point of attachment between the first end of the connecting member 20 and the plow blade 12, while viewing the connecting member 20 directly from the left side of the plow blade 12. As shown in the FIG. 2 (looking directly at the left side of toe plate-engaging member 22), the angle B appears to be about 55°. However, when viewed directly from the left side of the plow blade 12 (by rotating the view of FIG. 2 about 15°), the angle B can be between about 72° and 77°, depending on the selection of the Line T.

The hand truck-mountable snowplow also includes a securing mechanism to hold the toe plate-engaging member 22 in place when mounted on the toe plate of a hand truck. The securing mechanism can include one or more threaded members 32 and one or more corresponding apertures 34 in the upper engagement plate 24. Alternatively, the apertures 34 can be provided in the lower engagement plate 26 for receiving threaded members 32 in an upward direction. The apertures 34 are sized to tightly receive the threaded members 32 so that the bottoms of the threaded members 32 can frictionally engage the toe plate of hand truck that has been received in slot 28. Suitable threaded members 32 include bolts, machine screws, etc.

FIG. 4 shows the hand truck-mountable snowplow mounted on a hand truck 50. A typical hand truck 50 includes a vertical handle 52, a pair of wheels 54 and a toe plate 56. In FIG. 4, the toe plate 56 is received in the slot 28 and the threaded members 32 are screwed downwardly into apertures 34 and frictionally engage the top of the toe plate 56 (or bottom of the toe plate 56 if the apertures 34 are in the lower engagement plate 26. The frictional engagement between the bottom of the threaded members 32 and top of the toe plate 56 tends to hold the toe plate-engaging member 22 in place relative to the toe plate 56.

As shown in FIG. 4, the vertical rails of the handle 52 form an angle C with a line H that is parallel with the plane of the ground. The angle C is measured from the vertical rails of the handle 52 to the line H when looking at the hand truck 50 from the side. Because FIG. 4 is shown in perspective, the angle C appears to be greater than it is when measured from the side. Preferably, the angle C is between about 30° and about 60° off of the horizontal line H. More preferably, the angle C is between about 40° and about 50° off horizontal, most preferably about 45°.

FIGS. 5 and 6 show a second embodiment of a hand truck-mountable snowplow 110. The snowplow 110 includes a plow blade 112 and a mounting apparatus 118. The mounting apparatus includes a connecting member 120 secured, at its first end, to the rear surface of the plow blade 112 with connectors 130. The second end of the connecting member 120 is connected to a toe plate-engaging member 122. The toe plate-engaging member 122 includes upper engagement plate 124 and lower engagement plate 126.

The hand truck-mountable snow plow 110 also includes a securing mechanism. The securing mechanism can include one or more flexible straps 136, each having a first end attached to one of the upper or lower engagement plates. Preferably, two flexible straps 136 are attached at their first ends to the bottom of the lower engagement plate 126. The second end of each of the straps 136 includes a connector 138. A second connector 140 adapted to receive the first connector 138 can be attached to the engagement plate (124 or 126) to which the first end of the strap is not attached. Preferably, the second connector 140 is provided on top of the upper engagement plate 124. The first connector 138 and second connector 140 can be mechanical devices, such as Velcro™, snaps, hooks, buttons with respective receiving orifices, buckles, etc. Alternatively, the connectors 138 and 140 can be an adhesive, such as a reusable pressure sensitive adhesive, and an adhesive receiving surface.

In use, the toe plate 56 of the hand truck is received in slot 128 between the upper and lower engagement plates 124, 126. The flexible straps 126 can be wrapped around the back of the toe plate 56 and the first connector 138 connected to the second connector 140 in order to secure the toe plate-engaging member 118 to the toe plate 156. The hand truck-mountable snow plow 110 can define the same horizontal angle A, vertical angle B and, once mounted on the hand truck, vertical angle C as the hand truck-mountable snow plow 10, shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4.

A method of moving snow can utilize either embodiment of the hand truck mountable snowplow 10 or 110, or other embodiments according to the invention. The method includes the step of sliding the mounting apparatus 22 or 122 onto the toe plate of a hand truck such that the upper engagement plate is juxtaposed against a top surface of the toe plate and/or the lower engagement plate is juxtaposed against a bottom surface of the toe plate. The method also involves the steps of securing the mounting apparatus on the hand truck with the securing mechanism, as described above. Once the hand truck-mountable snow plow has been secured to the hand truck, the user can push the hand truck forward in order to move snow with the plow blade 12 or 112. Debris and other materials can also be moved using the hand truck-mountable snow plow.

A variety of modifications to the embodiments described will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the disclosure provided herein. Thus, the invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof and, accordingly, reference should be made to the appended claims, rather than to the foregoing specification, as indicating the scope of the invention.