Title:
Container for fluorescent light tubes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container for transporting fragile elongated objects, such as fluorescent light tubes has a tubular body made of rigid non-deformable material. A plurality of tube-receiving sleeves is fitted in the tubular body, each of the sleeves being sized to receive and retain one fluorescent tube. A bottom cap is secured to the bottom of the container body; the bottom cap being fitted with a resilient lining and a soft deformable foam rest fitted over the lining. A top cap, similarly is provided with a resilient lining and a soft deformable rest fitted over the lining. When the fluorescent tubes are positioned in the container body, the electrical connector prongs engage with the deformable rests preventing damage to the connector prongs. A handle is engaged with a rigid retainer rod, which extends through the container body and the opposing caps. The ends of the handle engage the outwardly extending ends of the rod and are secured thereto by nuts. The container can be used for storing and/or transporting a plurality of fragile tubes.



Inventors:
Hine, Todd Douglas (Lake Charles, LA, US)
Naquin III, Harold Sinclair (Lake Charles, LA, US)
Application Number:
11/233864
Publication Date:
03/29/2007
Filing Date:
09/23/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D25/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
TAWFIK, SAMEH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KEATY LAW FIRM, LLC (NEW ORLEANS, LA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A container device for storing or transporting fragile elongated objects, comprising: a tubular body having an inner cavity formed therein; and a plurality of tubular sleeves fitted within the cavity, each of said sleeves being sized and configured for receiving a fragile elongated object.

2. The device of claim 1, further comprising a bottom cap secured to a bottom end of the tubular body and a detachable top cap securable to a top end of the tubular body.

3. The device of claim 2, wherein each of said bottom cap and top cap has an inner surface and a flexible lining is fitted to cover said inner surface.

4. The device of claim 3, wherein said inner lining forms a watertight seal with a respective wall of each of said top cap and the bottom cap.

5. The device of claim 3, wherein a soft deformable rest is fitted in each of said top cap and said bottom cap at least partially covering said inner lining.

6. The device of claim 2, wherein a central opening is formed in each of said top cap and bottom cap.

7. The device of claim 6, further comprising a rigid retaining rod extending through the tubular body and partially extending through the openings in the top cap and the bottom cap when the top cap and the bottom cap are engaged with the tubular body.

8. The device of claim 7, further comprising a handle means for carrying said container, said handle means being engageable with opposing ends of the retainer rod.

9. The device of claim 1, wherein each of said sleeves is formed of a rigid material.

10. The device of claim 1, wherein each of said sleeves has a longitudinal dimension at least slightly smaller than a longitudinal dimension of the elongated object retained therein.

11. A container device for storing or transporting fluorescent light bulbs, comprising: a tubular body having an inner cavity formed therein; a plurality of rigid tubular sleeves fitted within the cavity, each of said sleeves being sized and configured for receiving a fluorescent light bulb; a top cap detachably secured to a top end of the tubular body; and a bottom cap carried by a bottom end of the tubular body.

12. The device of claim 11, wherein each of said bottom cap and said top cap has an inner surface and a flexible lining is fitted to cover said inner surface; and wherein a soft deformable rest is fitted in each of said top cap and said bottom cap at least partially covering said inner lining, said rest being adapted for engaging with connector prongs of the fluorescent light tubes positioned in the tubular body.

13. The device of claim 12, wherein a central opening is formed in each of said top cap and said bottom cap.

14. The device of claim 13, further comprising a rigid retaining rod extending through the tubular body and partially extending through the openings in the top cap and the bottom cap when the top cap and the bottom cap are engaged with the tubular body.

15. The device of claim 14, further comprising a handle means for carrying said container, said handle means being engageable with opposing ends of the retainer rod.

16. A method of storing and transporting fluorescent light tubes, comprising the steps of: providing a tubular body having an inner cavity formed therein; providing a plurality of rigid tubular sleeves, each of said sleeves having interior diameter at least slightly greater than a diameter of a fluorescent light tube; providing a bottom cap fitted with a soft deformable rest and engaging said bottom cap to a first end of the tubular body; positioning one fluorescent light tube in a respective sleeve, such that connector prongs of the fluorescent light tube are engaged with the deformable rest; providing a top cap fitted with a soft deformable rest; and engaging said top cap to a second end of the tubular body such that opposite connector prongs of the fluorescent light tube are engaged with the deformable rest.

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising the step of providing a handle means and engaging opposing ends of the handle means with the top cap and the bottom cap.

18. The method of claim 16, further comprising the step of providing an inner lining fitted in each of said top cap and said bottom cap between an inner surface of the top cap and the bottom cap and the deformable rest.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to fluorescent light tubes, and more particularly to a container for storing and transporting fluorescent light tubes in a safe and convenient manner.

Fluorescent lights are extensively used in industrial, commercial and residential buildings. The fluorescent light tubes are relatively bulky, usually four feet long. They are very fragile because they have thin glass walls sealed under vacuum. The interior of the glass wall is covered with a powdered material, which creates lots of dust if the tube breaks. The glass shards caused by an imploding glass tube are difficult to clean up. Therefore, efforts are usually made to store and transport both working and burnt out fluorescent tubes.

Some of the industrial facilities are offshore platforms, where all supplies and equipment are delivered by boats. Loading and unloading of supplies is often conducted in choppy waters and safety of fragile fluorescent tubes is compromised. Considering that supply boats do not service the offshore facilities daily, the supplier delivers dozens of fluorescent tubes at a time, while removing a large number of inoperative light tubes from the offshore facility. Under these conditions, the need for a suitable transportation and storage container capable of holding a large number of light tubes is particularly acute.

Conventionally, each light tube is sold without a protective cover, which is capable of protecting the glass tube and the thin connector prongs. The burnt out light tubes are either broken before disposal into a waste container or transported onshore (when used on an offshore facility) for future disposal. Care should be exercised when handling burnt out tubes, as well to prevent injury to the maintenance personnel.

The present invention contemplates elimination of drawbacks associated with prior art and provision of a container that can be used for safe storage and transportation of fragile tubes, such as fluorescent light tubes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is, therefore, an object of the present invention to provide a container for storage and transportation of fragile tubular objects such as fluorescent light tubes.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a container capable of holding a plurality of fragile tubular objects such as fluorescent light tubes.

These and other objects of the invention are achieved through a provision of container device having a tubular body and made of rigid non-deformable material. A plurality of tube-receiving sleeves is fitted in the tubular body, each of the sleeves being sized to receive and retain one fluorescent tube. The sleeves may be shorter than the fluorescent tubes.

A bottom cap is secured to the bottom of the container body; the bottom cap being fitted with a resilient lining and a soft deformable foam rest fitted over the lining. A top cap, similarly is provided with a resilient lining and a soft deformable rest fitted over the lining. When the fluorescent tubes are positioned in the container body, the electrical connector prongs engage with the deformable rests preventing damage to the connector prongs.

A handle is engaged with a rigid retainer rod, which extends through the container body and the opposing caps. The ends of the handle engage the outwardly extending ends of the rod and are secured thereto by nuts. The container can be used for storing and/or transporting a plurality of fragile tubes.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reference will now be made to the drawings, wherein like parts are designated by like numerals, and wherein

FIG. 1 is a perspective, partially exploded view of the container device in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the container device in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a detail sectional view of an end cap of the container device of the present invention.

DETAIL DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Turning now to the drawings in more detail, numeral 10 designates the container device of the present invention. As can be seen in the drawings, the container 10 comprises a tubular body 12 formed by a continuous sidewall 14. In one of the preferred embodiments, the body 12 has a generally cylindrical configuration. The body 12 may be formed of a piece of polyvinyl chloride tubing, which is relatively inexpensive and widely commercially available in various sizes. For the purposes of illustration, and without limitation the tubular body 12 may be made from an 8-inch pipe. However, the body 12 can be formed of other similar suitable materials and have other diameters.

The body 12 has an inner cavity 16, a normally open top end 18 and a bottom end 20. A bottom cap 22 closes the end 20. The cap 22 may be fixedly attached to the end 20, such as by adhesive, if desired. The fixed cap 22 has an inner surface 24 and an upwardly extending side 26, which overlaps, to some distance, the bottom end 20 of the body 12.

A resilient lining 28 is positioned on the inner surface 24; the lining 28 forms a watertight seal with the end 20 when the cap 22 is secured to the end 20. The lining 28 may be formed from urethane or other similar material. A bottom rest 30 is mounted on top of the lining 28 for supporting bottom prong connectors 32 of a fluorescent light tube 34. The bottom rest 30 may be formed of soft deformable resilient closed cell foam, such as for instance neoprene. The bottom rest 30 may be sized and configured to be substantially equal in surface area to the lining 28 or may be sized smaller, if desired. A removable top cap 36 is detachably securable on the top end 18. The cap 36 is a mirror image of the cap 22; it also has a lining and a soft, deformable prong rest made of soft foam.

Each cap 22 and 36 is formed with a central through opening 38 and 40, respectively. A rigid retainer rod 42 is inserted through the openings 38 and 40 to an exterior of the body 12. The rod 42 is slightly greater in longitudinal dimension than the length of the body 12, such that opposing ends 44, 46 of the rod 42 extend outside of the caps 20 and 36. The ends 42 and 44 are each threaded to engage with a respective wing nut 50, 52.

A handle means 54 is detachably secured to the body 12. The handle means 54 comprises an elongated band 56, which may be flexible or semi-rigid, as desired, and a grip portion 58 mounted on the band 56. An opening 60, 62 is formed in each of the opposing ends 64, 66 of the band 56. A reinforcing grommet surrounds each of the openings 60, 62.

When the container 10 is closed by caps 22, 36, and the rod 42 extends through the caps 22, 36, the user engages the band 56 with the caps 22, 36 by sliding the grommets over the ends 44 and 46 of the rod 42. The user then positions the wing nut 50, 52 on the respective ends of the rod 42 and tightens the band to the caps 22 and 36.

Mounted inside the tubular body 12, in the cavity 16 is a plurality of light tube receiving sleeves 70. The sleeves 70 have rigid bodies capable of retaining the fluorescent tubes positioned therein separately. The sleeves 70 are tightly fitted in the cavity 16 and need not be secured to the wall 14 and to each other, although such design can also be provided if desired.

Each sleeve 70 has a longitudinal dimension, which is smaller than the length of the light tubes 34. In one of the embodiments, 2-feet long sleeves are provided for receiving 4-feet fluorescent light tubes 34 therein. The exterior diameter of the sleeves 70 can be approximately 1.56″, although the dimensions can vary depending on the thickness of the sleeve wall. The sleeves 70 are cylindrical in configuration and each sleeve is adapted for retaining one fluorescent bulb.

In operation, the user opens the top of the container 10 by removing the wing nut 52 and disengaging the top cap 36 from the body 12. The user then inserts the tubes 34 into the sleeves 70, one fluorescent tube per sleeve. The user slightly presses on the tubes 34, causing the bottom prongs 32 to be slightly embedded in the bottom rest 30. After all fluorescent tubes 34 have been properly positioned, the top cap is placed over the rod 42, the band 52 engaged with the rod 42, and the wing nut 52 secured on the end 46 of the rod 42. The top prongs of the tubes 34 may become slightly embedded into the top foam rest located in the top cap 36. The container 10 with the tubes 34 can now be transported to the desired location without danger of the tubes being damaged in transportation.

The container 10 can be re-used many times for storage and transportation of new or burnt out fluorescent light bulbs. The container 10 can be used for transporting other fragile elongated objects, if desired.

Many changes and modifications can be made in the design of the present invention without departing from the spirit thereof. We, therefore, pray that our rights to the present invention be limited only by the scope of the appended claims.





 
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