Title:
Stroller with Removable Arm Bar
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stroller includes a frame assembly having a first frame section and a second frame section. The stroller further includes a cross member to be removably attached to the first and second frame sections. Each of the first and second frame sections includes an end to be engaged by the cross member. Each of the first and second frame sections includes a movable plug to close an opening in the end when the cross member is not attached to the first and second frame sections. In some cases, the movable plug is spring-biased in a closed position.



Inventors:
Dotsey, Michael A. (Pottstown, PA, US)
Nolan, Patrick (Royersford, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/696084
Publication Date:
10/11/2007
Filing Date:
04/03/2007
Assignee:
Graco Children's Products Inc. (Exton, PA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B62B7/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PHAN, HAU VAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lempia Summerfield Katz LLC (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A stroller, comprising: a frame assembly comprising a first frame section and a second frame section; and, a cross member to be removably attached to the first and second frame sections; wherein each of the first and second frame sections comprises an end to be engaged by the cross member; and, wherein each of the first and second frame sections comprises a movable plug to close an opening in the end when the cross member is not attached to the first and second frame sections.

2. The stroller of claim 1, wherein the movable plug is spring-biased in a closed position.

3. The stroller of claim 2, wherein the movable plug comprises a door that pivots on a hinge acted upon by a torsion spring to close the opening.

4. The stroller of claim 2, wherein the movable plug comprises a piston acted upon by a spring for translation of the plug to fill the opening.

5. The stroller of claim 1, wherein the cross member comprises a tenon-shaped connector.

6. The stroller of claim 1, wherein the cross member comprises an arm bar.

7. A stroller, comprising: a frame assembly comprising a seat frame, the seat frame comprising a first support arm and a second support arm; and, a cross member to be removably attached to the first and second support arms; wherein each of the first and second support arms comprises an end to be engaged by the cross member; and, wherein each of the first and second support arms comprises a movable plug to fill an opening in the end when the cross member is not attached to the first and second support arms.

8. The stroller of claim 7, wherein the movable plug is spring-biased in a closed position.

9. The stroller of claim 8, wherein the movable plug comprises a door that pivots on a hinge acted upon by a torsion spring to close the opening.

10. The stroller of claim 8, wherein the movable plug comprises a piston acted upon by a spring for translation of the plug to fill the opening.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION DATA

This patent is related to and claims priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/789,240, which was filed on Apr. 3, 2006 and entitled “Stroller,” and which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Disclosure

The present disclosure is generally directed to strollers, and more particularly to strollers having a removable arm bar or other cross member.

2. Description of Related Art

Strollers are often equipped with a tray or arm bar that crosses in front of a seat assembly. Both trays and arm bars have been designed to provide convenience and safety to the seat occupant. For example, an occupant tray typically includes a cupholder, and some trays also provide items for entertaining the occupant. Arm bars have also presented entertainment items, and often include padding so that the arm bar provides a comfortable resting place for the occupant's arms. Both occupant trays and arm bars have provided a moderate amount of safety protection as well, inasmuch as they may limit occupant movement, for instance, out of the seat assembly. To that end, some occupant trays and arm bars have been fixed in place across the front of the seat assembly to prevent the removal by the occupant.

However, some occupants find trays and arm bars crossing in front of the seat assembly confining or otherwise undesirable. As a result, strollers have often been equipped with occupant trays and arm bars that are removably attached to the seat assembly. To this end, occupant trays and arm bars have been attached to the seat assembly in a manner that minimizes any accidental removal by, for instance, the occupant. For example, ends of an occupant tray or arm bar have been designed to engage a child-resistant attachment mechanism in the frame tubes of the seat assembly.

Unfortunately, the interior of the frame tubes may be undesirably accessible to the occupant after disengagement of the occupant tray or arm bar. Moreover, the exposure of the interior of the frame tubes and any hardware associated with the attachment mechanism may be considered unsightly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon reading the following description in conjunction with the drawing figures, in which:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of one example of a stroller assembly having a removable cross member attached to a seat assembly frame in accordance with one aspect of the disclosure;

FIG. 2 shows an exploded, perspective view of the exemplary stroller of FIG. 1 in accordance with one embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the attachment of a cross member to the seat assembly frame taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 1 and in accordance with one embodiment;

FIGS. 4A-4C are sectional views of the attachment of a cross member to the seat assembly frame taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 1 and in accordance with another embodiment; and,

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of a seat assembly frame arm having an end plug in accordance with one aspect of the disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

This disclosure is generally related to strollers having a removable arm bar or other cross member and, more specifically, to a seat frame assembly having plugged (i.e., filled or closed) openings upon removal of the arm bar. With the openings plugged, access to the interior of the seat frame assembly components is discouraged, if not prevented, thereby minimizing safety issues for a child occupant. The plugged openings may also provide a more finished or refined appearance for the stroller by covering (or hiding) any interior components of the seat frame assembly that may not be considered aesthetically pleasing.

Turning now to the drawings, a stroller is generally indicated at 100 in FIG. 1 and is constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention. In the disclosed example, the stroller 100 generally has a frame assembly 102, a seat assembly 104 supported by the frame assembly 102, and a plurality of wheels supporting the frame assembly 102 on a ground surface. In general, the frame assembly 102 in the disclosed example includes a pair of rear wheels 106 and a single front wheel assembly 108 positioned forward of and at a midpoint between the rear wheels 106. In this example, the front wheel assembly 108 has two wheels 109 spaced apart side by side.

The frame assembly 102 in this example generally has a seat mounting frame 110 that is a U-shaped component. In the disclosed example, the seat assembly 104 can be removed from the seat frame 110 and the stroller 100. In general, the removable seat assembly 104 includes a pair of scat attachment tubes 112 positioned on opposite sides of an occupant seat 114. The seat tubes 112 are connected to and can be removed from upper ends 116 of the seat frame 110. The seat 114 of the seat assembly 104 is supported on the stroller 100 at least in part by the seat tubes 112 and has a canopy 118 connected to an upper part of the seat 114. The seat 114 also has a seat back 120, a seat bottom 122, and seat side wings 124 positioned on opposite sides of the seat back 120 and the seat bottom 122.

A footrest 126 is positioned at the bottom of the seat assembly 104 and is suspended from the front edge of the seat bottom 122 by a mesh fabric panel 128 in this example. The footrest 126 is also connected to the lower part of the seat frame 110. In the disclosed example, the seat 104 can be made entirely of fabric or like materials and be suspended from the seat tubes 112 and the seat frame 110 when attached. Alternatively, portions of the seat assembly 104 can have a removable cover placed over a generally rigid supporting structure that defines and shapes at least part of the seat 114, such as the seat bottom 122 and parts of the seat side wings 124. Thus, once attached to the seat frame 110, the seat assembly 104 can be sufficiently supported on the stroller 100 and substantial enough to support the weight of a child occupant. As will be evident to those having ordinary skill in the art, the configuration and construction of the seat assembly 104 and the seat 114 can vary considerably and yet fall within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

The stroller frame assembly 102 in the disclosed example generally has a central spine 140 with a lower end 142 positioned near the front wheel assembly 108. The spine 140 also has an upper end 144 positioned behind the seat back 120 of the seat assembly 114 and between the rear wheels 106. A pair of curved rear legs 146 extend downwardly in opposite directions from an underside of the spine 140. Each leg 146 is bowed outwardly and extends in a rearward and downward direction. A proximal or top end 148 of each leg is coupled to a rear leg connector (not shown) positioned on the underside of the spine 140. The connector 150 is positioned in this example about mid-point between the upper end 144 and the lower end 142 of the spine 140. A distal or lower end 152 of each rear leg 146 in this example carries one of the rear wheels 106.

A rear leg link 154 is positioned on each side of the frame assembly 102 and links each rear leg 146 to the spine 40. Each link 154 has one end (not shown) coupled to a connector (not shown) on the underside of the spine 140 positioned below the rear leg connector along the spine. Each link 154 also has another end 160 coupled to a corresponding one of the rear legs 146. The links 154 provide stability for the stroller frame assembly 102, and particularly for the rear legs 146, during use.

The frame assembly 102 in the disclosed example also has a stroller handle 170 for pushing and maneuvering the stroller 100. The disclosed handle 170 generally has an upward facing, open C-shape that forms two handle sections 172. The two sections 172 extend in opposite directions from a handle bracket 174. The handle bracket 174 is coupled to a stanchion 176 that extends from the upper end 144 of the frame spine 140. In the disclosed example, the stanchion 176 is essentially a linear structure and extends parallel to and is aligned with the spine 140, which is also a generally linear structure.

The stroller 100 disclosed herein also has a pair of curved seat frame support arms 180. The support arms 180 extend upward in opposite directions from the top side of the spine 140. Each support arm 180 is bowed outwardly and extends in a forward and upward direction relative to the spine 140. A proximal or bottom end (not shown) of each support arm 180 is coupled to a support arm connector (not shown) positioned on the top side of the spine 140. The support arm connector in this example is positioned at the same location along the spine as the rear leg connector, which is on the underside of the spine. A distal end portion 186 of each support arm 180 is bent downwardly, extends generally horizontally forward, and terminates at an opening 188 having a plug or face 189 (FIG. 2) disposed in the opening 188 when the end 186 is free, as described further below.

In this example, a seat frame link 190 is positioned on each side of the seat frame 110 and extends in a rearward direction. Each seat link 190 has a free end that is coupled to one of the support arms 180. The connection point between each seat link 190 and the respective support arm 180 in this example is spaced rearward from the opening 188 at the distal end portion 186 of the support arm 180.

Also in the disclosed example, a frame bracket 194 is located at the lower front portion of the frame assembly 102. The frame bracket 194 is connected to the lower most portion 196 of the seat frame 110 and to the lower end 142 of the spine 140. The front wheel assembly 108 is mounted to and extends downward from the frame bracket 194. The frame bracket 194 links the spine 140 to the seat frame 110 and provides the front wheel mounting location in the disclosed example.

A storage container 198 may be coupled to the frame assembly 102 beneath and behind the seat assembly 104 and the spine 140.

The spine 140 is oriented centrally between the rear wheels 106 and has a main or longitudinal axis running between the lower end 142 of the spine 140 and the upper end 144 of the spine 140. The main axis of the spine 140, in turn, defines a central or longitudinal axis of the stroller 100. In the disclosed example, the spine 140 is oriented at an angle with a low point at its lower end 142 and a high point at its upper end 144. The spine 140 is oriented to position the handle 170 so that a caregiver can stand behind the stroller and push the stroller in a conventional manner by the handle 170. The seat assembly 104 is positioned above and forward of the spine 140 and faces forward relative to the stroller 100 away from the handle 170. However, the arrangement of the seat and frame components disclosed herein can vary and yet fall within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Additionally, the shape, size, configuration, orientation, and location of the various frame assembly and seat assembly components can also vary from the example shown without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

With reference now to FIGS. 1 and 2, the seat assembly 104 also includes an arm bar 200 or other cross member connected to the pair of seat frame support arms 180. In the exemplary case shown, the arm bar 200 includes a generally linear central portion 202 and a pair of end portions 204 that curve rearwardly toward the ends 186 of the seat frame support arms 180. Both the central and end portions 202 and 204 generally have a rounded or tubular shape so that the seat occupant does not encounter any edges of a sharp or otherwise uncomfortable nature. In some cases, however, the central and end portions 202 and 204 may have different or varying cross-sections. For instance, the end portions 202 may have a cross-section designed to meet and match the cross-section of the ends 186 of the seat frame support arms 180. More generally, the arm bar 200 may include a rigid material for support purposes, as well as one or more fabric or padding materials (not shown) arranged on the exterior surface of the arm bar 200 for the convenience of the occupant. In some cases, the arm bar 200 may be collapsible or foldable to, for instance, facilitate the folding of the stroller 100 as a whole in downwardly and inwardly directions.

As shown in FIG. 2, the arm bar 200 is removably attached to the seat frame support arms 180. To this end, the arm bar 200 may include connectors 206 that extend from each end 204 of the arm bar 200. To connect the arm bar 200 to the seat frame support arms 180, the connectors 206 are inserted through the opening 188 at each distal end 188 of the seat frame support arms 180. As described further in connection with the exemplary embodiments disclosed below, the connectors 206 then engage a corresponding connector disposed within the seat frame support arms 180 for the attachment

In accordance with one aspect of the disclosure, the connectors 206 displace the plug 189 at each distal end 188 of the seat frame support arms 180 when inserted through the openings 188. That is, the openings 188 are generally filled (or closed) by the plug 189 upon removal (or detachment) of the arm bar 200. The plugs 189 are pushed away from the openings 188 by the connectors 206 upon reattachment of the arm bar 200. In the interim, the interior of each seat frame support arm 180 is not exposed via the openings 188, but rather blocked or covered by the plug 189. In this respect, each plug 189 acts as a door or cover for the opening 188 of each respective seat frame support arm 180.

In some cases, the arm bar 200 may be replaced with a different cross member, such as an occupant tray or entertainment bar. Accordingly, the term “cross member” is used herein to include the various types of accessories or other items that may be attached across components of the frame assembly 102, such as across the seat assembly 104 forward of the seat 114. Thus, a cross member may directed to any purpose or context for the stroller, including without limitation structural stability, entertainment, safety, convenience, comfort, and other interests or preferences of the occupant. As a further result, cross members suitable for use in connection with the present disclosure may have any shape, size, material, or other characteristic in between the connections to the seat assembly frame.

Turning now to FIG. 3, the attachment of the exemplary arm bar 200 and the seat frame support arm 180 is shown in greater detail and in accordance with an exemplary embodiment. In this case, the opening 188 at the end 186 of the support arm 180 is plugged by a door 210 that pivots between an open and closed position with the insertion of a tenon (or tenon-shaped connector) 212 of the arm bar 200 through the opening 188. The tenon 212 includes a front end 214 that impacts the door 210 for displacement from the opening 188, as shown in FIG. 3. The door 212 pivots at a hinge 214 biased toward the closed position by, for instance, a torsion spring 216. Eventually, the door 210 may be displaced by the tenon 212 such that an inward side 218 of the door 210 meets an interior surface 220 of the support arm 180. At that point, the tenon 212 may continue past the door 210 to engage a brace 222 disposed within the frame support arm 180. Once the arm bar 200 meets the opening 188 of the support arm 180, the length of the tenon 212 is such that sufficient structural support and lateral stability is provided by the brace 222. At the same time, a pair of spring-loaded balls 224 disposed on the tenon 212 engage corresponding detents 226 and 228 inside the opening 188 of the support arm 180. The detents may be formed in a ring 230 disposed at the end 186 of the support arm 180. In this connection, a spring 231 between the balls 224 is first compressed as the detents 226 and 228 are encountered, and then allowed to expand as the arm bar 200 is locked or secured in place at the opening 188 of the support arm 180.

The ring 230 may generally be shaped to present a smooth covering of the opening 188. For instance, the ring 230 may have an outward face 232 that slopes inwardly toward the detents 226 and 228. The door 210 may then have an outward side 234 shaped to engage the detents 226 and 228 and provide a smooth contour with the outward face 232 of the ring 230 when in the closed position. To these ends, the outward side 234 of the door 210 may have a notch near the hinge 214 to accommodate the detent 226, as well as a tapered profile at the opposite end as shown to accommodate the other detent 228. The door 210 may be made of a rigid or semi-rigid material. In some cases, the door 210 may be resiliently flexible to further accommodate or engage one or both of the detents 226 and 228.

FIGS. 4A-4C illustrate an alternative arrangement for the attachment of an arm bar 250 and a seat assembly arm 252. Generally speaking, FIG. 4A depicts the arrangement in a connected position, FIG. 4B depicts the arrangement during a disconnection, and FIG. 4C depicts the arrangement after the disconnection. In this exemplary case, the arm bar 250 has a pin 254 with an expanded head 256 extending outwardly from an end 258 of the arm bar 250. The pin 254 may be structurally supported by, and fixed to, a base 260 disposed within the arm bar 250.

The seat assembly arm 252 has a connector 262 disposed at an end 264 thereof The connector 262 fills or plugs the opening at the end 264 via a stationary, ring-shaped cap 266 and a plug 268 movably disposed in an opening 270 in the center of the cap 266. The plug 268 is biased toward the closed position (FIG. 4C) by a spring 269 disposed within the end 264 of the seat assembly arm 252 and acting against a fixed wall 270 as shown. The wall 270 and other, non-moving parts of the connector 262, such as the cap 266 and an exterior wall 272 connecting the wall 270 and the cap 266, may be integrated as a unitary component, and fixed in place at the end 264 of the seat assembly arm 252 via an adhesive, pressure fit, etc.

The connector 262 may also be secured in position within the seat assembly arm 252 via one or more components of a release mechanism that passes through the end 264 of the seat assembly arm 252. More specifically, the release mechanism includes a disc 273 slidably disposed in the interior of the seat assembly arm 252 as well as extending through the wall 272. The disc 273 is generally capable of lateral movement arising from displacement of a push button 274 as shown in FIG. 4B, which, in turn, re-positions a central opening 276 in the disc 273. When the central opening 276 in the disc 273 is aligned with the head 256 of the pin 254 in FIG. 4B, the pin 254 can be withdrawn toward the position shown in FIG. 4C, thereby allowing the disconnection of the arm bar 250 and the seat assembly arm 252. FIG. 4C also shows the plug 268 in the closed position, with the spring 269 extended to an extent limited by a stop 277 on the plug 268. Without the re-positioning of the opening 276, the head 256 of the pin 254 impacts a portion 278 of the disc 273, as shown in FIG. 4A. In this manner, the attachment is maintained in, for instance, a childproof manner until disengagement is desired by the caregiver. Until that time, a spring 280 biases the disc 273 toward the position shown in FIG. 4A. The spring 280 is compressed by user actuation of the push button 274, as well as by the insertion of the head 256 during attachment. To that end, the head 256 may have a sloped profile as shown.

The pin 254 may have a larger diameter relative to the opening at the end 264 of the seat assembly arm 252 than that shown in the exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 4A-4C. For instance, alternative embodiments may utilize a tenon-shaped component instead of the pin 254 for greater lateral and other structural support, as described above. The pin 254 may also be substantially longer for further extension into the interior of the seat assembly arm 252. The length shown in FIGS. 4A-4C is, in fact, selected for convenience in illustration, as the length of the pin 254 determines the travel length of the connector 262 within the seat assembly arm 252 and, thus, the width of the drawing figure.

FIG. 5 depicts yet another alternative plug mechanism for a seat assembly arm 290 to which an arm bar or other cross member (not shown) can be removably attached. In this exemplary case, a plug 292 is driven by a spring-biased piston 294 disposed within the interior of the seat assembly arm 290. A spring 296 connected to a base 298 acts against a face 300 of the piston 298 to bias the plug 292 in a closed position at a cap ring 302 disposed at an end 304 of the seat assembly arm 290. In that position, detents 306 and 308 formed in the ring 302 are engaged by a pair of spring-biased balls 310 and 312 disposed within the plug 292. When an arm bar or other cross member is attached to the seat assembly arm 290, the spring-biased balls 310 and 312 are disengaged from the detents 306 and 308 and the plug 292 is moved inwardly. Such inward movement of the plug 292 translates into movement of the piston 294, compressing the spring 296.

The arm bar 200 and spring-biased engagement described above in connection with the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 3 may be used to establish a secure connection with the seat assembly arm 290 and plug arrangement of FIG. 5. In that case, the interior of the seat assembly arm 290 may include one or more braces for structural and lateral support. For example, a brace 314 may be disposed within the interior of the seat assembly arm 290 as shown.

In some embodiments, an arm bar or other cross member may be attached to a section of the seat assembly frame section other than a seat assembly arm, as described in connection with the exemplary embodiments above. Furthermore, the above-described aspects of the disclosure may be practiced in connection with, and applied to, cross member connections involving sections of the stroller frame other than seat frame support arms or other frame sections of the seat assembly.

Although certain embodiments have been described herein in accordance with the teachings of the present disclosure, the scope of coverage of this patent is not limited thereto. On the contrary, this patent covers all embodiments of the teachings of the disclosure that fairly fall within the scope of permissible equivalents.