Title:
Vacuum attachment for a floor buffer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A vacuum attachment for a floor buffer having a base atop of which is mounted a motor and below which a buffing pad is positioned for engagement with a floor and for rotation by the motor. The vacuum attachment includes a suction ring configured for positioning around the buffing pad. The suction ring is hollow and is provided with a number of inlets through which liquid and dry waste thrown off by the buffing pad can be drawn. A backpack, adapted for wear by a user, is positioned remote from the suction ring. A wet/dry vacuum is positioned in the backpack. A hose connects the suction ring to the vacuum such that, when the vacuum is energized, liquid and dry waste thrown off by the buffing pad are drawn through the inlets in the suction ring and through the hose into the vacuum for collection and subsequent disposal.



Inventors:
Hare, Leo Lionel (Abilene, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/370934
Publication Date:
09/13/2007
Filing Date:
03/09/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/325, 15/383
International Classes:
A47L5/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
REDDING, DAVID A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Leo L. Hare (Abilene, TX, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A vacuum attachment for a floor buffer having a base atop of which is mounted a motor and below which a buffing pad is positioned for engagement with a floor and rotation by the motor, said vacuum attachment comprising: a suction ring adapted for positioning around the buffing pad, said suction ring being hollow and being provided with a plurality of inlets through which liquid and dry waste thrown off by the buffing pad can be drawn; a backpack adapted for wear by a user remote from said suction ring; a wet/dry vacuum being positioned in said backpack; and, a hose connecting said suction ring to said wet/dry vacuum such that, when said wet/dry vacuum is energized, liquid and dry waste thrown off by the buffing pad are drawn through said inlets in said suction ring and through said hose into said wet/dry vacuum for collection and disposal.

2. The vacuum attachment according to claim 1 wherein said suction ring is provided with a peripheral channel in its bottom and said inlets connect said peripheral channel to the interior of said suction ring.

3. The vacuum attachment according to claim 1 wherein the central axes of said inlets in said suction ring face inwardly toward the buffing pad.

4. The vacuum attachment according to claim 1 wherein said suction ring further includes a plurality of bumpers extending therefrom that loosely engage the base of the floor buffer to space said suction ring away from the buffing pad.

5. The vacuum attachment according to claim 4 wherein said bumpers are discs connected by flexible links to the base of the floor buffer.

6. A suction ring for a floor buffer, comprising: a tubular hoop adapted to encircle the buffing pad of a floor buffer and to slide upon a floor, said tubular hoop being hollow and being provided with a plurality of inlets through which liquid and dry waste thrown off by the buffing pad can be drawn; a tubular stem extending upwardly from said tubular hoop; and, a hose clamp being positioned atop said tubular stem for releasably fastening a hose to said tubular stem.

7. The suction ring according to claim 6 wherein said hoop is provided with a peripheral channel in its bottom and said inlets connect said peripheral channel to the interior of said hoop.

8. The suction ring according to claim 6 wherein the central axes of said inlets in said hoop face inwardly toward the center of said hoop.

9. The suction ring according to claim 6 further comprising a plurality of bumpers extending from said hoop for engaging the base of a floor buffer so as to space said hoop away from the buffing pad of the floor buffer.

10. The suction ring according to claim 9 wherein said bumpers are discs and wherein said suction further comprised a plurality of flexible links extending through said discs for connecting said suction ring to the base of a floor buffer.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to machines for brushing, scrubbing, and general cleaning, and, more particularly, to such machines with air blast or suction capabilities.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Cleaning uncarpeted floors in heavily trafficked buildings has always been a time-consuming and messy chore. To remove heavy amounts of dirt and grime, a liquid cleaner is normally mopped onto a floor, allowed to soak, and, then, the floor is buffed using a rotary floor buffer. If minimal amounts of dirt are present, smaller volumes of liquid cleaner are used which can be applied to a floor by means of a squirt bottle or by a dispenser provided within the floor buffer itself. In any event, during use, the floor buffer can throw off significant amounts of liquid cleaner from floors where such is heavily applied and can discharge much dust from floors where liquid cleaner is lightly applied. Any excess liquid cleaner remaining on a floor after buffing must be mopped up and any dust sent into the air must be wiped from nearby furniture, equipment, fixtures, and goods before a cleaning task can be considered complete.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In light of the problems associated with cleaning the floors of heavily trafficked buildings, it is a principal object of the invention to provide an attachment to a floor buffer which vacuums up excess cleaning, polishing, and stripping liquids as well as dirt and dust as soon as such are thrown off the floor buffer's rotating pad. Suction is applied about the periphery of the buffing pad so that particulate matter, whether it is in a solid or liquid phase, has little opportunity to escape into the environment remote from the floor buffer. Also, a tight seal against a floor is not required by the attachment to work effectively. Thus, the need to mop or dust after a floor is buffed is minimized thereby saving time for a user.

It is another object of the invention to provide an attachment of the type described that can be connected to rotary floor buffers of numerous makes and models. Connection can be afforded with few tools and with minimal instruction. Furthermore, the attachment is intuitive to use.

It is a further object of the invention to provide an attachment of the type described that does not impede the movements of a floor buffer. After joining the attachment to a floor buffer, the floor buffer can, during use, be moved easily in any direction whatsoever and into tight areas. The buffer need not be moved in a straight line, but can be moved tirelessly in graceful arcs.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a vacuum attachment for a floor buffer that is energized when the floor buffer is energized so as to not waste electrical energy.

It is an object of the invention to provide improved features and arrangements thereof in a vacuum attachment for a floor buffer for the purposes described that is lightweight in construction for easy transport, inexpensive to manufacture, and fully dependable in use.

Briefly, the vacuum attachment in accordance with this invention achieves the intended objects by featuring a suction ring with a tubular hoop adapted to encircle the buffing pad of a floor buffer and to slide upon a floor. The tubular hoop is hollow and is provided with a plurality of inlets through which liquid and dry waste thrown off by the buffing pad can be drawn. A tubular stem extends upwardly from the tubular hoop. A hose clamp is positioned atop the tubular stem for releasably fastening one end of a hose to the tubular stem. The other end of the hose is attached to a wet/dry vacuum that can be carried in a backpack by a user.

The foregoing and other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following detailed description of the two embodiments as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention may be more readily described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the suction ring of a vacuum attachment for a floor buffer in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of the suction ring of FIG. 1 connected to a floor buffer with portions of both the suction ring and floor buffer being broken away.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the vacuum attachment connected to a floor buffer.

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the suction ring of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the suction ring taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a bottom view of an alternative suction ring.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the alternative suction ring taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 6.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the accompanying drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the FIGS., a floor buffer is shown at 10. Floor buffer 10 includes a circular base 12 atop of which is mounted an electric motor 14. Motor 14 is connected to a circular, buffing pad 16 secured beneath base 12 such that, when motor 14 is energized, buffing pad 16 is rotated to clean or polish a floor. A handle 18 is secured to the back of base 12 and extends upwardly and rearwardly therefrom. A handgrip 20 is affixed to the top of handle 18 and supports a controller 22 that can be manipulated by the hands 24 of a user 26 to energize motor 14 and regulate its speed and direction of rotation. A cable 28 extends from controller 22 to a wall outlet (not shown) for supplying electrical power to motor 14. A pair of auxiliary wheels 30 is secured to the back of base 12 for moving buffer 10 when motor 14 is not energized.

A vacuum attachment 32 in accordance with the present invention is used with floor buffer 10 to collect cleaning liquids and dirt thrown from buffing pad 16. Vacuum attachment 32 includes a suction ring 34 sized for positioning around buffing pad 16. Suction ring 34 is hollow and is provided with a plurality of inlets 36a and 36b through which waste can be drawn into suction ring 34. Suction ring 34 is also provided with an outlet 38 that is connected by a hose 40 to the inlet 42 of a wet/dry vacuum 44 carried in a backpack 46 by user 26. Vacuum 44 is connected by a cable 48 to an electrical outlet 50, positioned atop base 12 of buffer 10, that is connected in series with motor 14 so that, whenever motor 14 is energized, vacuum 44 is also energized to draw waste through ring 34 and hose 40 into itself.

Outlet 38 is a tee fitting that includes a tubular crosspiece 52 with opposed ends that are both open. Crosspiece 52 is provided with a bottom surface 54 that is planar for smooth engagement with a floor and a longitudinal channel 56 in bottom surface 54 extending from one end of crosspiece 52 to the other end thereof. An inlet opening 36b passes through bottom surface 54 and bisects channel 56 to provide access to the interior of crosspiece 52.

Outlet 50 also includes a tubular stem 58 that is integrally formed with crosspiece 52 and that extends upwardly therefrom. Stem 58 is in fluid communication with the interior of crosspiece 52. The top of stem 58 is threaded to receive a hose clamp 60 for releasably fastening hose 40 to stem 58 in a sealed manner.

A tubular hoop 62 is carried by outlet 52. Hoop 62 is a length of tubing, albeit one with a short segment removed, formed into a circle with a diameter that is a few inches greater than that of buffing pad 16. The segment or gap in hoop 62 is bridged by crosspiece 52 of outlet 50 into whose opposite ends the opposite ends of hoop 62 are inserted and adhesively fastened. If desired, outlet 50 and hoop 62 can be formed as an integral whole to minimize assembly steps.

A channel 64 is provided in the bottom of hoop 62 so as to face vertically downward towards a floor as at 66 upon which attachment 32 is positioned. A plurality of inlets 36a penetrates channel 64 at spaced intervals to provide access to the interior of hoop 62. The dimensions of channel 64 and the number, spacing and dimensions of inlets 36a is largely a matter of design choice, being dependent upon the characteristics of the waste that these fluid flow pathways are meant to convey. For example, a small channel 64 and small inlets 36a, capable of generating higher flow velocities for a given amount of suction from vacuum 44 than a wide channel 64 and large inlets 36a, are best suited to moving liquids, dense solids, and particles of relatively large size. Large channels 64 and inlets 36a, producing lower velocities than small ones with all other things remaining equal, pull small and light particles like dust into hoop 62 with greater efficiency.

A pair of bumpers 68 is affixed to the top of hoop 62 equidistant from outlet 50 so as to maintain hoop 62 at a predetermined distance from rotating pad 16 and to ensure the optimum pickup of waste during use of attachment 32. Each bumper 68 is a resilient plastic disc that is held in place by a metallic band 70 that tightly encircles hoop 62 and passes through bumper 68. As shown, bumpers 68 tilt inwardly toward the center of hoop 62 to engage base 12 of buffer 10 and better separate hoop 62 from buffing pad 16. It should be noted, however, that bumpers 68 could be provided in any number and with configurations of infinite variety.

Suction ring 34 is tethered to base 12 of floor buffer 10 by flexible links, namely chains 72. Chains 72 extend through bumpers 68 and through correspondingly positioned eyelets 74 affixed to base 12 of floor buffer 10 by means of penetrating fasteners. Chains 72 are long enough to permit suction ring 34 to slide upon a floor, yet are short enough to permit buffer 10 to be rocked back upon wheels 30 without suction ring 34 shifting far from its preferred position closely adjacent the periphery of pad 16. Interestingly, chains 72 also permit suction ring 34 to be temporarily elevated from a floor while pad 16 is being rotated to permit pad 16 to buff hard-to-reach places along walls and in the corners of floors.

Hose 40 is flexible and extends from outlet 50 of suction ring 34 to inlet 42 of vacuum 44. As shown, hose 40 has a diameter that is substantially equal to that of the tubing used to form hoop 62 of suction ring 34. The length of hose 40 is adequate to permit buffer 10 to be moved about by user 26 without being so short that it impedes movement or being so long that it creates a tripping hazard.

Wet/dry vacuum 44 is a well-known machine produced by one of a group of numerous manufacturers throughout the world. As such, the construction of vacuum 44 will not be belabored here. Suffice it to say, however, that vacuum 44 contains a motor-driven impeller capable of drawing air into its inlet 42 and forcing such from its outlet (not shown) when energized. Matter, like droplets of cleaning liquids, sand, dust, and dirt, entrained in the air passing through vacuum 44, is trapped therein. When sufficient waste matter is captured within vacuum 44, such is emptied and vacuuming is subsequently resumed.

Backpack 46 supports wet/dry vacuum 44 upon the back 76 of user 26. Backpack 46 includes a cradle 78 that snugly receives and comfortably supports vacuum 44 and a pair of shoulder straps 80 extending forward from cradle 78. With cradle 78 positioned against the back 76 of user 26, straps 80 are extended over the shoulders 82 of user 26 to permit vacuum 44 to be conveniently toted from place to place in close proximity to buffer 10. If vacuum 44 is large and heavy, backpack 46 can be eliminated from attachment 32 with casters (not shown) being affixed to the bottom of vacuum 44 to provide an effective, burden-reducing substitute.

From the foregoing, it should be appreciated that the use of attachment 32 is straightforward. First, with suction ring 34 attached to base 12 of buffer 10 by chains 72, backpack 46, with vacuum 44 positioned therein, is donned by user 26. Then, by pushing down upon handgrips 20, buffer 10 is rotated onto wheels 30 and is rolled to a floor requiring cleaning. (Suction ring 34 does not impede the turning of wheels 30.) Next, pad 16 is permitted to settle onto the floor. Afterward, cable 28 is plugged into a wall outlet and, by manually manipulating controller 22, buffer motor 14 and vacuum 44 are simultaneously energized. With buffing pad 16 now spinning, buffer 10 is pushed about the floor to clean and polish it. When cleaning and polishing operations are complete, buffer 10 is wheeled back to a convenient location for storage and later use.

While buffing pad 16 is spinning, pad 16 will lift dust and dirt from the floor and discharge much of it from its periphery. Cleaning liquids and polishes can be applied to the floor by mop, handheld bottle or by buffer 10 itself, assuming that it is provided with a liquid dispenser, to aid in improving the appearance of a floor. The dust, dirt and excess cleaning liquids and polishes are, by means of the air being drawn into wet/dry vacuum 44 through inlets 36a and 36b in suction ring 34, carried into suction ring 34 and, then, through hose 40, to vacuum 44. When vacuum 44 becomes full of waste matter drawn from the floor, it will become heavy thereby signaling the need for vacuum 44 to be emptied. To empty vacuum 44, backpack 46 is normally doffed and vacuum 44 is opened to permit its waste trap to be dumped. After dumping, buffing operations can resume immediately. Thus, except while momentarily dumping waste, attachment 32 is always ready for use.

While the invention has been described with a high degree of particularity, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications can be made to it. For example, as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7, a suction ring 84 can be substituted for suction ring 34 to provide attachment 32 with enhanced dust take-up capabilities. Suction ring 84 includes an outlet 86 and a hoop 88 similar to those of ring 34 with its inlets 36a having central axes B1 that are vertical and pass through the center C1 of the tubing from which hoop 62 is formed. Inlets 95 of ring 88, however, have central axes B2 that are inclined at an angle A from a vertical line B3 passing through the center C2 of hoop 88 to receive particulates from pad 16 of buffer 10. Also, ring 84 can be provided with two pairs of bumpers 92 held in place by bands 94. Therefore, it is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the various embodiment described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.