Title:
Enclosed spool
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An enclosed spool for flexible wound line comprising a spool member including: a base axis member defining an axis of rotation, and first and second circular sidewalls secured to and separated by the base axis member and extending substantially radially to the axis of rotation to provide an axial gap, the first circular sidewall terminating at a first peripheral edge, and the second circular sidewall terminating at a second peripheral edge; and an enclosure encircling the first and second peripheral edges and spanning the axial gap to define a spool volume.



Inventors:
Yarborough, John Dean (Columbia, SC, US)
Skinner, David B. (Columbia, SC, US)
Application Number:
11/371509
Publication Date:
09/13/2007
Filing Date:
03/08/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
242/170, 242/601
International Classes:
B65H75/32
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CAMPOS, JR, JUAN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Renner Kenner Greive Bobak Taylor & Weber Co., LPA (Akron, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An enclosed spool for flexible wound line comprising: a spool member including: a base axis member defining an axis of rotation, and first and second sidewalls spaced apart by said base axis member to provide an axial gap, said first sidewall terminating at a first peripheral edge, and said second circular sidewall terminating at a second peripheral edge; flexible line wound about said base axis member; an enclosure secured about said first and second peripheral edges and adapted to encase the flexible wound line within a volume defined by said spool member and said enclosure; and a dispensing aperture in said enclosure, wherein an end of said flexible line is fed through said dispensing aperture and said flexible line is rotationally movable about said axis of rotation and relative to said enclosure to dispense said flexible line through said dispensing aperture.

2. The enclosed spool of claim 1, wherein said enclosure includes a first peripheral groove receiving said first peripheral edge and a second peripheral groove receiving said second peripheral edge.

3. The enclosed spool of claim 1, wherein said enclosure is formed of first and second enclosure members.

4. The enclosed spool of claim 3, wherein said first enclosure member provides support legs extending therefrom to define a substantially planar profile upon which the enclosed spool can be placed on a surface.

5. The enclosed spool of claim 4, wherein said first enclosure member provides a first portion of a handle and said second enclosure member provides a second portion of said handle, said first and second portions of said handle being joined together.

6. The enclosed spool of claim 5, wherein said first and second portions of said handle are joined through the interaction of male tab members and female port members.

7. The enclosed spool of claim 5, wherein, when the enclosed spool rests on said support legs, said handle is offset from a vertical centerline of the enclosed spool at an angle of from 0 to 45 degrees around the circumference of said enclosure.

8. The enclosed spool of claim 1,wherein said enclosure provides a line dispensing aperture.

9. The enclosed spool of claim 1, further comprising a cutting element.

10. The enclosed spool of claim 9, wherein said cutting element is secured to said enclosure.

11. The enclosed spool of claim 10, wherein said cutting element includes a slot, a cutting blade positioned in said slot, and cutting arm pivotally mounted to pivot toward said cutting blade in said slot.

12. The enclosed spool of claim 1, wherein said base axis member and first and second sidewalls are of one piece construction.

13. The enclosed spool of claim 1, wherein said base axis member and first and second sidewalls are of two-part construction.

14. An enclosed spool for flexible wound line comprising: a spool member defining an axial gap; flexible line wound within said axial gap; at least two enclosure members joining together and encircling the spool member to span across said axial gap such that at least a portion of said flexible line is encased within a volume defined by said spool member and said at least two enclosure members; and a dispensing aperture in one of said at least two enclosure members, wherein an end of said flexible line is fed through said dispensing aperture.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention resides in the art of spools for flexible wound line, e.g., trimmer line, fishing line, pulling line and wire, and, more particularly, to an enclosed spool wherein the volume retaining the line is enclosed, and the line is rotationally movable relative to an enclosure. In particular embodiments, the enclosed spool includes a cutting device for cutting a length of the line about the spool.

Spools are employed for a variety of materials that are able to wind around a central axis element. Sometimes the material wound on the spool has a tendency to unwind, due to its inability to maintain the tightly wound configuration that it has when wound on the spool. This is particularly true with polymer-based monofilament lines, for example vegetation trimmer lines, fishing lines and pulling line, which is used to pull electrical wiring throughout buildings during wire installation.

When sold in bulk, such flexible line is typically provided on a plain spool member and it has a tendency to unravel from its original, tightly wound, state. Any portion of the wound line that unravels from the spool is difficult to neatly wind back thereon. The wound line is also exposed and not protected from debris and the elements. Additionally, when sold on a common spool, the desired length of wound line must be cut from the spool, requiring the user of the spool to carry a separate cutting element. Thus, there exists a need in the art for a spool that prevents wound line thereon from unraveling, protects it from debris and the elements, and/or includes an implement for cutting the line.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an enclosed spool for flexible wound line. The enclosed spool includes a spool member having a base axis member defining an axis of rotation and first and second sidewalls spaced apart by the base axis member to provide an axial gap. The first sidewall terminates at a first peripheral edge, and the second sidewall terminates at a second peripheral edge. A length of flexible line is wound about (but not necessarily onto) the base axis member, within the axial gap. The enclosed spool further includes an enclosure secured about the first and second peripheral edges and adapted to encase the flexible line within a volume defined by the spool member, the axial gap and the enclosure. A dispensing aperture is provided in the enclosure, and an end of the flexible line is fed through this aperture and the flexible wound line is rotationally movable about the axis of rotation and relative to the enclosure to dispense the flexible line through the dispensing aperture.

In accordance with another embodiment, the present invention provides an enclosed spool for flexible wound line including a spool member defining an axial gap, flexible line wound within the axial gap, at least two enclosure members joining together and encircling the spool member to span across the axial gap such that the flexible line is encased within a volume defined by the spool member and the at least two enclosure members, and a dispensing aperture in one of the at least two enclosure members, wherein an end of the flexible line is fed through the dispensing aperture.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an enclosed spool in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a spool member of the enclosed spool of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a first enclosure member of the enclosed spool;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a second enclosure member of the enclosed spool;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the enclosed spool of FIG. 1, shown with the first and second enclosure members not yet fully closed around the spool member;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a cutting element of the enclosed spool; and

FIG. 7 provides a general schematic view of the interaction of female slots and male lock tabs for one embodiment of a handle for the enclosed spool.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

An enclosed spool in accordance with the present invention is shown and generally designated by the numeral 10 in FIG. 1. Enclosed spool 10 includes spool member 12 and enclosure 14. Enclosure 14 encircles spool member 12 to define a spool volume in which flexible line may be retained.

Referring to FIG. 2, spool member 12 includes base axis member 16. First sidewall 18 and second sidewall 20 extend from and are separated by base axis member 16. They extend substantially radially, and is one embodiment, substantially perpendicularly, to the axis of rotation A, which is defined by base axis member 16, i.e., the axis of rotation A extends through the center line of base axis member 16, as shown in FIG. 1. The extension of first and second sidewalls 18, 20 defines an axial gap G. First sidewall 18 terminates at first peripheral edge 22, and second sidewall 20 terminates at second peripheral edge 24.

With reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, it can be seen that, in the embodiment shown, enclosure 14 includes first enclosure member 26 and second enclosure member 28. Enclosure 14 may include handle 30, which, as can be seen in FIGS. 3-5, is formed from the connection of a first handle portion 32 of handle 30, provided on first enclosure member 26 proximate end 31, and a second handle portion 34 of handle 30, provided on second enclosure member 28 proximate end 35. First handle portion 32 includes female slots 36 while second handle portion 34 includes male lock tabs 38 to mate with slots 36. At an opposite end 33 of first enclosure member 26, hook member 40 is provided to interact with rod member 42 at end 37 of second enclosure member 28. This is shown and explained more particularly in FIG. 5. Dispensing apertures 44, 44A may be located anywhere within either enclosure member 26 or 28, but are provided proximate ends 31 and 33, respectively in the present embodiment. Support legs 46 may be provided on either enclosure member 26 or 28, but are provided on second enclosure member 28 and extend radially therefrom to define a substantially planer profile upon which the enclosed spool 10 can be placed on a surface in the present embodiment. In one embodiment, four support legs 46 are employed as shown in the Figures (although not every support leg can be viewed in the Figures).

As can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 5, first and second enclosure members 26, 28 join together to encircle or encase spool member 12 and enclose the spool volume V defined by spool member 12, the axial gap G, and the enclosure members 26, 28, when encircling or encasing spool member 12. From a review of FIGS. 3-5, it will be appreciated that first and second enclosure members 26, 28 together provide a first peripheral groove 50 and second peripheral groove 52 for respectively receiving first peripheral edge 22 and second peripheral edge 24 of spool member 12. More particularly, first and second enclosure members 26, 28 pivotally join at hook member 40 and rod member 42 to lock around spool member 12 through the interaction of female slots 36 and male lock tabs 38. This creates the “enclosed” spool 10.

It will be appreciated that the enclosed spool 10 may be used for any flexible line product suitable for spooling (i.e., winding about an axis member of a spool), including particularly trimmer line, fishing line and pulling line, or other monofilament type line. The flexible line may be wound about base axis member 16 in any of a number of ways, and each means for winding the flexible line about the base axis member permits a different type of enclosed spool structure, as will be described herein.

It can be seen in the embodiment of FIG. 2 that base axis member 16 includes starting hole 54, for receiving an end of a flexible line. After an end of a flexible line is placed in starting hole 54, spool 12 may be rotated to take up the flexible line onto base axis member 16, between first and second sidewalls 18, 20, i.e., within the axial gap G. It will be appreciated that starting hole 54 can be positioned on either first or second sidewall 18, 20 near the base axis member 16, and the flexible line would be inserted through this hole from the side of gap G and secured so that rotation of the spool member results in the line being wound on base axis member 16. When the spool volume V is filled with the desired amount of flexible line, spool member 12 can be enclosed with the first and second enclosure members 26, 28. To remove a length of flexible line 56 from such an enclosed spool 10, a free end (i.e., that end not secured to hole 54) of the flexible line is fed through dispensing aperture 44 (this can be done during the initial manufacturing of the enclosed spool, or afterward by the end user) and pulled outside of enclosure 14 until a desired length of flexible line is outside the enclosed spool 10. The line is then cut. To pull line outside of enclosure 14, it will be appreciated that spool member 12 rotates in a dispensing direction about axis A, because peripheral edges 22 and 24 rotationally slide or otherwise move within their respective grooves 50 and 52.

It will be appreciated that the spool member 12 of the figures is shown with circular sidewalls 18, 20 because their peripheral edges 22, 24 are to slide or move within peripheral grooves 50, 52 of enclosure 14. This is due to the fact that the flexible line is ultimately secured to base axis member 16, and, thus, dispensing line from within enclosed spool 10 requires that spool member 12 rotate within enclosure 14. Non-circular sidewalls would not permit such rotation. In this embodiment, the enclosure members 26 and 28 are shown as being arcuate, but they may be made flexible enough to lie more flat so long as they are made to be capable of forming an enclosure around a the spool member.

In an alternative embodiment, the spool member may be made without circular sidewalls if the enclosed spool is constructed such that the sidewalls of the spool member do not have to rotate relative to the enclosure. This may be accomplished by making the base axis member 16 and the sidewalls 18, 20 of a two part construction. The coil of flexible wound line may be secured about the base axis member either by affixing it thereto or by affixing it to another element that is rotationally iMovable about the base axis member. When pulling on the free end of the flexible line outside of the enclosed spool to unwind the line, the base axis member 16 (or element about the base axis member) rotates, but not the sidewalls. In other words, the flexible line would move rotationally relative to the axis of rotation defined by the base axis member as a desired length of line is unwound therefrom. Again, in such an embodiment, the sidewalls would not move during line dispensing, and virtually any shape of sidewall could be practiced.

In another embodiment, and as suggested above, the spool member could be made to not rotate during dispensing of line by providing a collar member around the base axis member and securing the line to that collar. The collar would rotate about the base axis member, permitting the base axis member to remain stationary while the line moves rotationally relative to the axis of rotation defined by the base axis member.

In one embodiment, dispensing aperture 44 is positioned below a horizontal center line (see axis of rotation A) of enclosed spool 10 when placed on a support surface on support legs 46 (FIG. 1). This positioning may be preferred because it ensures that the flexible line extending outside of enclosed spool 10 will not be entirely drawn back through dispensing aperture 44 by rotation of spool member 12 in a counter-feed direction when the flexible line is cut, if there happens to be counter tension on the wound line. Where line tension is not an issue, it may be preferred to use the dispensing aperture 44A closer to the cutting means or handle as described herein. Such dispensing aperture 44A provides for less line to remain outside the enclosed spool.

Essentially any cutting means known in the art may be used to cut the spooled line within the enclosed spool 10. However, referring to FIG. 6, a cutting element for enclosed spool 10 is shown and designated by the numeral 60. Cutting element 60 includes cutting blade 62 and cutting arm 64, both of which are shown mounted to first enclosure member 26 proximate first handle portion 32 of handle 30. More particularly, cutting blade 62 is mounted in slot 66 (between two sidewalls), and cutting arm 64 is pivotally mounted to be manipulate at grip 68 to pivot and contact cutting blade 62. Slot 66 has a line-receipt detent 70 into which cutting blade 62 extends. Thus, by placing a length of flexible line in line-receipt detent 70, touching against cutting blade 62, and thereafter pivoting cutting arm 64 in the direction of arrow B to contact cutting blade 62, the flexible line is pinched between cutting arm 64 and cutting blade 62, and is cut to the desired length. Again, this is merely one type of cutting element that may be used in accordance with the present invention, it being appreciated that other cutting elements might be employed and configured into an enclosed spool in accordance with this invention.

In one embodiment and as shown in FIG. 1, line slots 71A and 71B may optionally be provided for holding the free end of the line when the enclosed spool is not in use or is being carried. Line slot 71A is provided for line of a larger cross section than line slot 71B. Measuring indicia 73 may also optionally be provided on the enclosure 14 or, in an alternative embodiment, on the side walls 18, 20 near their peripheral edges 22, 24, to aid one in measuring the amount of line cut off of the wound line.

FIG. 7 provides a general schematic view of the interaction of female slots 36 and male lock tabs 38 for one embodiment of the present invention. Male lock tabs 38 have ramped surfaces, as at 72, having a narrow distal end 74 and a wide proximate end 76, which provides a lock surface 78. The ramped surfaces 72 permit the initial feeding of male lock tabs 38 into slots 36 (in direction of arrow C), and, when inserted the full length of the ramped surface 72, lock surfaces 78 extend axially beyond slots 36 such that male lock tabs 38 can not be easily removed from interaction with slots 36 (see phantom, FIG. 7). In order to remove male lock tabs 38 from their locking interaction with slots 36, they must be squeezed toward each other such that lock surfaces 78 realign with slots 36 so that male lock tabs 38 may be removed from slots 36 is the opposite manner in which they were inserted and locked. This type of connection is well known, and other connections can be practiced in accordance with the present invention.

In light of the foregoing, it should thus be evident that the process of the present invention, substantially improves the art of spools for flexible spooling products, and provides particular advantages for storing and dispensing flexible line. While a full and complete description of the invention has been set forth in accordance with the dictates of the patent statutes, it should be understood that modifications can be resorted to without departing from the spirit hereof or the scope of the appended claims.