Title:
SHELF ATTACHMENT FOR A PORTABLE CLOTHES DRYER WITH MULTIPLE DRYING SHELVES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A clothes dryer includes a plurality of generally parallel shelves. Each shelf includes an outer frame. A shelf attachment for mounting onto the shelves has a first leg, a second leg and a top frame. The top frame connects the first and second legs and has a hanger support. The first leg has at least two spaced apart attachment members each removably mountable to one of the shelves. The shelf attachment is generally perpendicular to the shelves when the attachment members are mounted to the shelves.



Inventors:
Garman, Michael (Glen Allen, VA, US)
Turner, Mark (Glen Allen, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/684289
Publication Date:
09/06/2007
Filing Date:
03/09/2007
Assignee:
HAMILTON BEACH/PROCTOR-SILEX, INC. (Glen Allen, VA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B47/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YUEN, JESSICA JIPING
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PANITCH SCHWARZE BELISARIO & NADEL LLP (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
I/we claim:

1. A clothes dryer comprising: a plurality of generally parallel shelves, each shelf including an outer frame; and a shelf attachment for mounting onto the shelves having a first leg, a second leg and a top frame, the top frame connecting the first and second legs and having a hanger support, the first leg having at least two spaced apart attachment members each removably mountable to one of the shelves, the shelf attachment being generally perpendicular to the shelves when the attachment members are mounted to the shelves.

2. The clothes dryer of claim 1, wherein the second leg has at least two spaced apart attachment members each removably mountable to one of the shelves.

3. The clothes dryer of claim 1, wherein the at least two attachment members are spaced apart a distance equal to the distance between three consecutive shelves.

4. The clothes dryer of claim 3, wherein the first leg includes a groove spaced between the at least two attachment members and in contact with the outer frame of a middle shelf of the three consecutive shelves.

5. The clothes dryer of claim 1, wherein the attachment members are downwardly facing hooks shaped to releasably receive the outer frame.

6. The clothes dryer of claim 1, wherein the hanger support is an upwardly facing hook.

7. The clothes dryer of claim 1, further comprising more than one shelf attachment.

8. The clothes dryer of claim 1, wherein the first and second legs are removably attached to the top frame.

9. The clothes dryer of claim 1, wherein the shelf attachment tapers toward the top of the shelf attachment such that the top frame is narrower than a space between the first and second legs.

10. A clothes dryer comprising: a plurality of generally parallel shelves, each shelf including at least an outer frame having a first end and a second end and fabric extending across the frame to form a substantially planar surface; a fan; a housing enclosing the fan, the housing having at least one air intake vent, an extension arm supporting the second end of each shelf and a plurality of air exhaust vents configured to direct air substantially parallel to the planar surface of each shelf, and a shelf attachment for mounting onto the shelves having a first leg, a second leg and a top frame, the top frame connecting the first and second legs and having a hanger support, the first leg having at least two spaced apart attachment members each removably mountable to one of the shelves, the shelf attachment being generally perpendicular to the shelves when the attachment members are mounted to the shelves.

11. The clothes dryer of claim 10, wherein the fabric is comprised of a mesh material.

12. The clothes dryer of claim 10, wherein at least some of the frames are supported at the first end by at least one post, the first end of the bottommost shelf being supported from a support surface by at least one leg.

13. The clothes dryer of claim 12 wherein the outer frames, the at least one post and the at least one leg are comprised of detachable segments and the shelves are removable from the housing.

14. The clothes dryer of claim 10, wherein the exhaust vents are positioned above each shelf to form an individual flow of air for each shelf.

15. The clothes dryer of claim 10, wherein the housing includes a scented sheet.

16. The clothes dryer of claim 10, wherein the fan and air intake are located below the bottommost shelf.

17. The clothes dryer of claim 10, wherein the shelves are generally equally spaced.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/263,616 filed Jan. 16, 2007 entitled “Portable Clothes Dryer With Multiple Drying Shelves” which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a shelf attachment for use in a portable clothes drying device for drying clothing and, more particularly to a shelf attachment for a light weight portable drying rack having fabric shelves.

Clothes lines are commonly strung outdoors and damp clothing is hung on the line and affixed with a pin. Wind and sunlight helps to dry the damp clothes. Similarly, standing drying racks have been utilized for hanging clothes both indoors and outdoors. Clothes lines and drying racks however, require a great deal of time to allow the clothes to dry thoroughly and may cause the hanging clothes to stretch or form over the line or rack. Outdoor lines and racks are subject to inclement weather, insects and debris. Indoor lines and racks require a great deal of space during the long period of drying time and may be subject to mold from the lack of air circulation.

To speed up the drying process, drying machines have been introduced. Conventional dryers are large and heavy machines that normally accompany a washing machine. Dryers typically include a heat source, an internal rotating drum and a door. Damp clothes are placed within the rotating drum and the door is closed. The clothing is rotated and heated as air is circulated about the clothes. The dampened air is vented through a lint filter to the outside. Dryers, however, are expensive and bulky machines that must be permanently installed and require a great deal of electricity to operate. Additionally, certain cotton, wool and other more delicate fabrics are often damaged or shrink due to the heat and tumbling involved.

It is desirable therefore, to have a shelf attachment for a lightweight portable drying rack that quickly dries clothes without shrinking or stretching the clothing.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly stated, the present invention is directed to a clothes dryer. The dryer includes a plurality of generally parallel shelves, each shelf including an outer frame. A shelf attachment for mounting onto the shelves has a first leg, a second leg and a top frame. The top frame connects the first and second legs and has a hanger support. The first leg has at least two spaced apart attachment members each removably mountable to one of the shelves. The shelf attachment is generally perpendicular to the shelves when the attachment members are mounted to the shelves.

In another aspect, the present invention is directed to a clothes dryer. The clothes dryer includes a plurality of generally parallel shelves, each shelf including at least an outer frame having a first end and a second end and fabric extending across the frame to form a substantially planar surface. The clothes dryer includes a fan and a housing enclosing the fan. The housing has at least one air intake vent. An extension arm supports the second end of each shelf and a plurality of air exhaust vents configured to direct air substantially parallel to the planar surface of each shelf. A shelf attachment for mounting onto the shelves has a first leg, a second leg and a top frame, the top frame connects the first and second legs and has a hanger support. The first leg has at least two spaced apart attachment members each removably mountable to one of the shelves. The shelf attachment being generally perpendicular to the shelves when the attachment members are mounted to the shelves.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment of the invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there is shown in the drawings an embodiment which is presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a front left perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a dryer in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged partial front left perspective view of a shelf attached to a housing of the dryer shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional perspective view of the dryer taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of the dryer shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a rear left perspective view of the dryer shown in FIG. 1 partially broken away and showing a motor and impellers in the housing.

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a shelf attachment for the dryer shown in FIG. 1 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a partial rear perspective view of the shelf attachment shown in FIG. 6; and

FIG. 8 is a front left perspective view of three of the shelf attachments shown in FIG. 6 mounted to the dryer shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Certain terminology is used in the following description for convenience only and is not limiting. The words “right,” “left,” “lower” and “upper” designate directions in the drawings to which reference is made. The words “inwardly” and “outwardly” refer to directions toward and away from, respectively, the geometric center of a shelf attachment for a dryer in accordance with the present invention, and designated parts thereof. The terminology includes the words noted above, derivatives thereof and words of similar import.

Referring to FIGS. 1-5, a clothes dryer for individually drying clothes (dryer), generally designated 10, is comprised of a plurality of generally parallel, generally equally spaced shelves 12. In the preferred embodiment, there are five shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e but the dryer 10 may include any number of shelves 12 and is not limited to the preferred embodiment having five shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e. The shelves 12 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e include similar features shown and labeled as the top-most shelf 12a and duplicate numbering is omitted for convenience only and is not limiting. The dryer 10 may be operated, as described further below, with one or more of the provided shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e removed. Each shelf 12 includes an outer frame 14. The outer frames 14 are each comprised of four cylindrical hollow tubes 16. The tubes 16 are preferably straight and are orthogonally arranged in a plane to form the rectangular outer frame 14. Though rectangular shelves 12 are shown, the tubes 16 may be curved, include more or fewer segments and may be arranged to form any planar shape such as a square, circle or triangle. The tubes 16 are preferably comprised of a light weight thin walled aluminum or steel but may be comprised of any light-weight material such as a polymeric material. The tubes 16 are joined together by generally tubular comer fittings 18. The comer fittings 18 have an elbow shape and have a slightly larger diameter at each end than the diameter of the tubes 16 such that the tubes 16 are inserted into the comer fittings 18 preferably with at least a slight interference fit. The comer fittings 18 are preferable comprised of a polymeric material but may be comprised of aluminum or any other material known in the art. The comer fittings 18 and tubes 16 may be press fit or may include a snap or latch type connection. The comer fittings 18 located on a first end 24 of the shelves 12 each include a rounded knob 20 extending upwardly from the comer fitting 18 which is oriented generally perpendicular to the shelf 12. The comer fittings 18 on the first end 24 of each of the shelves 12 also includes a generally hollow post 22 extending downwardly and oriented generally perpendicular to the shelf 12. The upwardly extending knobs 20 are sized and shaped to fit within in a corresponding post 22 of the comer fitting 18 of an adjacent shelf 12. The first end 24 of the bottommost shelf 12e is supported from a support surface (not shown) by at least one leg 35. The legs 35 are comprised of an extended post 22e which may include foam elastomeric feet 36 at the distal end to dampen any vibrations created in the dryer 10 and to prevent the dryer 10 from sliding relative to the support surface when the support surface is smooth such as linoleum or hardwood. The extended post 22e may also be the same size as the posts 22 with an leg 35 extending to the support surface such than the shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e are all interchangeable. The legs 35 may include wheels or track balls (not shown) rather than elastomeric feet 36 to allow for sliding relocation of the dryer 10.

Each shelf 12 has a first end 24 and a second end 26. A fabric 28 extends across the outer frame 14 in the form of a substantially planer surface. The fabric 28 is preferably sewn around its outer periphery to form a loop 28a (FIG. 2) that allows the tube 16 of the outer frame to be inserted within the loops 28a. The loops 28a extend along the length of the tubes 16 leaving the ends of each tube 16 and the corner fittings 18 exposed to allow for assembly and disassembly. The outer frame 14 stretches the fabric 28 outwardly toward the outer periphery relatively taut such that the substantially planer surface can support a damp article of clothing 58 (FIG. 8) without substantial sagging. Each shelf 12 is spaced from each other in a generally parallel configuration. Each shelf 12 is spaced from an adjacent shelf 12 by the distance of each post 22. The fabric 28 is preferably a breathable nylon mesh having a plurality of holes allowing for air and moisture to more easily pass through the shelf 12 but the fabric may be comprise any light weight and flexible material such as spun polypropylene. The fabric 28 is either rolled, folded or bunched up during disassembly to allow for compact storage and easy portability of the shelves 12. The loops 28a may include an elastic sleeve (not shown) rather than the loop 28a of fabric 28 such that a tighter fit around the tubes is achieved while allowing a flex in the fabric 28 during assembly of the shelves 12. The fabric 28 stretches slightly when forming the outer frame 14 by inserting the tubes 16 into the corner fitting 18.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 5, the dryer 10 includes a fan 30 which is powered by an electric motor 32. The fan 30 is comprised of a first impeller 30a and a second impeller 30b. The motor 32 is positioned between the first and second impellers 30a, 30b. The motor 32 is enclosed in a thermoplastic housing (not shown). The impellers 30a, 30b are preferably thermoplastic and the motor 32 is preferably a shaded-pole motor but the fan 30 and motor 32 may be comprised of any fan and motor assembly capable of moving blowing air and is not limited to the fan and motor assembly described and shown.

Referring to FIGS. 1-5, the dryer 10 includes a housing 34 that is assembled to enclose the fan 30 and motor 32. The housing 34 is preferably comprised of two molded polypropylene pieces joined together but may be comprised of any material known in the art. The housing 34 includes at least one air intake vent 40 for drawing ambient air into the housing 34. The fan 30 motor 32 and intake vent 40 are preferably located below the bottommost shelf 12e. In the preferred embodiment, the intake vent 40 includes side vents 40a on either side of the impellers 30a, 30b and central vents 40b at least partially around the motor 32. The intake vents 40a, 40b are not limited to the configuration shown and may be positioned anywhere along the housing 34 surrounding the fan 30 and the motor 32. The housing 34 includes base supports or feet 52 extending from the housing 34 generally parallel to the support surface for providing stability to the housing 34. The feet 52 may be comprised of or include an elastomeric base support to dampen vibration and prevent sliding. The housing 34 also includes an extension arm 42 that extends vertically upwardly from the remainder of the housing 34 generally perpendicular to the shelves 12. The extension arm 42 is in fluid communication with the fan 30 such that the air which is drawn into the housing 34 through the intake vents 40a, 40b is forced up into the extension arm 42.

Referring to FIG. 2, the extension arm 42 includes hook like support members 48 that supports the second end 26 of each shelf 12. The support members 48 extend perpendicular from the extension arm 42 toward the first end 24 of the shelves 12 and are each curved upwardly as shown. The extension arm 42 includes at least one but preferably two support members 48 for each shelf 12. The support members 48 are vertically spaced the distance of each post 22 such that the shelves 12 are level and oriented substantially parallel to the support surface. The support members 48 are sized and shaped to fit partially around the underside of the tube 16 of each shelf 12. The fabric 28 includes a gap 28b in the loop 28a such that the support member 48 is directly in contact with the tube 16. The extension arm 42 also includes a plurality of exhaust vents 44. The exhaust vents 44 are comprised of a series of generally vertical slots 46 positioned across the surface of the extension arm 42 toward the second end 26 of the shelves 12. The exhaust vents 44 are configured to direct air substantially parallel to the planer surface of each shelf 12. The exhaust vents 44 are positioned between each shelf 12 to form an individual flow of air over each shelf 12.

Referring to FIG. 3, baffles 48 may be included in the housing 34 to deflect the air flow within the housing toward the exhaust vents 44. Additionally, the fan 30 and housing 34 may include a scented dryer sheet 52 anywhere upstream or downstream of the fan 30 and positioned within the housing 34 or over one or more of the vents 40. The scented sheet adds a scent to the air flow before being sent over the clothes 58 (shown in FIG. 8) on each shelf 12. A rocker switch 38 positioned on the top of the extension arm 42 is electrically connected to the motor 32 to turn the motor 32 ON or OFF. Turning the switch 38 ON powers the fan 30 and directs air over clothes placed on the shelves 12. An indent 50 is provided on the back of the extension arm 42 to provide a handle for transporting and positioning the dryer 10.

In operation, the drying shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e are mounted to the extension arm 42 as is shown in FIG. 1. Damp clothes 58 (shown in FIG. 8) are positioned on the fabric 28 and the on/off rocker switch 38 is actuated to power the motor 32. The motor 32 drives the fans 30a, 30b, which draw air into the housing 34 through the central intake vents 40b and the side intake vents 40a. The air is urged into the extension arm 42 of the housing 34 and is urged out of the exhaust vents 44. The air flows over the clothes, thereby drying the clothes that are positioned on the drying shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e. At the conclusion of drying, the clothes are removed from the drying shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e and the shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e are disassembled from the housing 34. The shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 12e and legs 36 may be stored by stacking proximate to the housing 34 or may be separately stored.

Referring to FIGS. 6-8, a shelf attachment, generally 60 is provided for removable attachment with the dryer 10. The shelf attachment 60 allows for clothes 62 on a hanger 64 to be hung vertically from the shelves 12a, 12b, 12c, 12e. The hanger 64 is preferably a conventional wire or polymeric hanger but it is within the spirit and scope of the present invention that the hanger 64 be integrally or rotatably attached to the shelf attachment 60 such that a separate hanger 64 is not necessary.

Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, the shelf attachment 60 has a first leg 66 and a second leg 68. The first leg 66 has a first end 66a and a second end 66b. The second leg 68 has a first end 66a and a second end 66b. The second ends 66b, 68b are preferably spaced apart and are connected by a space bar 70. The first ends 66a, 68a, are spaced apart and are removably connected to a top frame 72. The first and second legs 66, 68 are removably attached to the top frame by a snap or compression fit to allow for more compact shipping and storage. Though it is preferred that the first and second legs 66, 68 are removable from the top frame 72, the first and second legs 66, 68 may be co-molded or otherwise permanently secured to the top frame 72 such that the first and second legs 66, 68 are not removable from the top frame 72. The top frame 72 has an angled top 72a and may include a support bar 72b. The top frame 72 also includes a hanger support 74 extending outwardly therefrom. The hanger support 74 is preferably an upwardly facing hook for supporting the hanger 64. Alternatively, the hanger support 74 may comprise a slot or hole for receiving the hanger 64 and preventing the hanger 64 from being easily knocked off of the shelf attachment 60.

The shelf attachment 60 tapers toward the top of the shelf attachment 60 such that the top frame 72 is spaced apart a distance T which is narrower or less than a distance L between the first and second legs 66, 68. The shelf attachment 60 is preferably tapered to create a wider, more stable base and a narrower, more compact top for purposes of allowing the top frame 72 to fit within the first and second legs 66, 68 for a smaller packing size. Though the taper is shown to occur in the first ends 66a, 68a, the taper could be provided in the top frame 72 or not included at all. The first and second legs, 66, 68 and the top frame 72 are preferably comprised of a polymeric material but may be comprised of any light-weight material such as thin walled aluminum or steel. The shelf attachment 10 preferably has an open rear as shown in FIG. 7 for molding and weight considerations but any configuration preferable and capable of supporting damp clothes 62 may be utilized.

The first and second legs 66, 68 include at least two spaced apart attachment members 76. The attachment member 76 are preferably a downwardly facing hook for a cutout 76a and shaped to releasably receive the outer frame 14 of one of the shelves 12. A pair of attachment members 76 on each first and second leg 66, 68 is spaced apart a distance equal to the distance between three consecutive shelves 12, for example, the distance between shelves 12a and 12c.

The first and second legs 66, 68 preferably includes at least one groove 78 spaced between two of the attachment members 76. The groove 78 is in contact with the outer frame 14 of a middle shelf of three consecutive shelves 12, second shelf 12b for example when the attachment members 76 are positioned onto the first and third shelves 12a and 12c. Though it is preferred that each first and second leg 66, 68 include a pair of attachment members 76 and a groove 78, it is within the spirit and scope of the present invention that more or less attachment members 76 and grooves 78 are provided.

The shelf attachment 60 is generally perpendicular to the shelves 12 when the attachment members 76 are mounted to the shelves 12 such that clothes 62 may be hung on a hanger 64 in a vertical position on the sides or the end of the shelves 12.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It is understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiment disclosed, but it is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.