Title:
Funnel Having Stabilizing Weight
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A weight for supporting a funnel in an upstanding orientation, the weight comprising a periphery defining an internal void, the void receiving the neck of the funnel, and also having a filler housed within the periphery, the filler providing mass to the weight. Other embodiments include a funnel with a weight incorporated therein, and a funnel system comprising a funnel, a removable weight and indicator means operatively coupled with the funnel.



Inventors:
Ferguson, Joe (Dunlow, WV, US)
Application Number:
11/553295
Publication Date:
05/01/2008
Filing Date:
10/26/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B39/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAUST, TIMOTHY LEWIS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROBERT R. WATERS, ESQ. (HUNTINGTON, WV, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A weight for supporting a funnel in an upstanding orientation, the weight comprising: a periphery defining an internal void, the void receiving the neck of the funnel; and a filler housed within the periphery, the filler providing mass to the weight.

2. The weight of claim 1, wherein the filler is selected from the group consisting of foam, sand, sponge, buckwheat, cornhusks, beans, various gel substances or putty, feathers and pellets.

3. The weight of claim 1 further comprising a magnet housed within the periphery.

4. A funnel comprising: a mouth and a neck in fluid communication; and a weight circumscribing the neck.

5. The funnel of claim 4, wherein the weight comprises: a periphery defining an internal void, the void receiving the neck of the funnel; and a filler housed within the periphery, the filler providing mass to the weight.

6. The funnel of claim 5, wherein the filler is selected from the group consisting of foam, sand, sponge, buckwheat, cornhusks, beans, various gel substances or putty, feathers and pellets.

7. The funnel of claim 5, wherein the weight further comprises a magnet housed within the periphery.

8. A funnel system comprising: a funnel; and a weight circumscribing the neck of the funnel, wherein the weight is removable from the funnel.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein the weight comprises: a periphery defining an internal void, the void receiving the neck of the funnel; and a filler housed within the periphery, the filler providing mass to the weight.

10. The system of claim 9, wherein the filler is selected from the group consisting of foam, sand, sponge, buckwheat, cornhusks, beans, various gel substances or putty, feathers and pellets.

11. The system of claim 9, wherein the weight further comprises a magnet housed within the periphery.

12. A funnel system comprising: a funnel; indicator means communicating with the funnel to provide visual indication of fluid level; and a weight circumscribing the neck of the funnel.

13. The system of claim 12 further comprising an attachment assembly coupling the indicator means within the funnel.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the attachment assembly comprises: a support; at least one arm outwardly depending from the support, the at least one arm having a curvilinear form for engaging the inner wall of the funnel; and a guide downwardly depending from the support, the guide receiving indicator means.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein indicator means comprises: a linearly elongated body comprising a float at a terminal end of the body; and indicia placed along the body visually indicating when a receiving container is filled.

16. The system of claim 14, wherein indicator means comprises: an overfill ring operatively coupled with a float; and the ring coupled to the float through the guide, wherein upon overfilling the funnel the ring may be pulled upward urging the float into the guide and obstructing flow of the fluid therethrough to a receiving container.

17. The system of claim 16, wherein indicator means further comprises at least one arm depending from the body for inhibiting indicator means from descending through the guide.

18. The system of claim 14, wherein the funnel further comprises at least one edge for preventing the attachment assembly from escaping the funnel.

19. The system of claim 12, wherein the weight comprises: a periphery defining an internal void, the void receiving the neck of the funnel; and a filler housed within the periphery, the filler providing mass to the weight.

20. The system of claim 19, wherein the filler is selected from the group consisting of foam, sand, sponge, buckwheat, cornhusks, beans, various gel substances or putty, feathers and pellets.

21. The system of claim 19, wherein the weight further comprises a magnet housed within the periphery.

Description:

RELATED U.S. APPLICATION DATA

Not applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to a pouring funnel, and more specifically, this invention relates to a pouring funnel having a stabilizing weight oriented about the circumference of the neck, the weight utilized for supporting the funnel in an upright orientation.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There have been several attempts to provide funnels with components and in combination with other devices for stabilizing and/or supporting the funnel in a hands-free manner and in an upright orientation. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 5,685,352 (to Faught) discloses an indicator funnel having improved vertical stability, the improved vertical stability provided by a shoulder (8) formed on the external surface of the spout (5). The shoulder (8) is described as resting on the edge of an opening of a container. An example of the combination of a separate apparatus with a funnel is found in U.S. Pat. No. 4,207,933 (to Howson), which discloses a contents transfer device having a retaining rack (20) for the container from which the fluid will be dispensed, a shelf (34) for holding a funnel in place over a receiving container, and a base (12) for supporting the receiving container (B).

Other devices similar to that disclosed by Faught that are considered related include U.S. Pat. No. 474,036 (Wood), which discloses a funnel with inwardly biased wires (5) about the circumference of the funnel used to place the funnel about the opening of a container, U.S. Pat. No. 1,420,039 (Horstkotte), having a plurality of flexible stays (15) along the exterior of the funnel, U.S. Patent No. 2,517,759 (Bentzen), and U.S. Pat. No. 5,458,168 (Lindgren) a handle (18) or wire (20) along the outside of the funnel. U.S. Pat. No. 4,804,026 (Bailey) discloses a self-supporting funnel having equally spaced straps (20) about the circumference of the funnel, the straps (20) inwardly deflected and outwardly biased.

Disclosures describing collars or flanges include U.S. Pat. No. 1,302,086 (Pitlick), which discloses a circular ring holder placed over an opening in which a funnel or filter is inserted for upright support. U.S. Pat. No. 1,368,640 (Melchior) discloses a funnel having a ring at an end with braces that rests upon the neck or opening of a container. U.S. Pat. No. 1,487,824 (to Vincent), which discloses a flange (4). U.S. Patent No. 2,703,670 (Voight) discloses a funnel having bars (13) and steps (14) along the outside of the funnel. U.S. Pat. No. 3,211,195 (to Porter) discloses a funnel having concentric ridges about the neck. Another related disclosure includes U.S. Pat. No. 1,587,493 (Bower) disclosing a plate that rests on an opening and supports a funnel, filter or strainer thereon.

Despite the many attempts at improving upon the art, as illustrated above, a need in the art remains for a device that overcomes the deficiencies explicit or inherent in the disclosures described above. The present invention provides a device that is easily assembled or disassembled, is simple in construction and operation, and permits a user to easily and efficiently operate hands-free if desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, a weight for supporting a funnel in an upstanding orientation is disclosed, the weight comprising a periphery defining an internal void, the void receiving the neck of the funnel, and also having a filler housed within the periphery, the filler providing mass to the weight.

In another embodiment, a funnel is disclosed comprising a mouth and a neck in fluid communication with one another, and a weight circumscribing the neck. The weight comprises a periphery defining an internal void, the void receiving the neck of the funnel. The weight may also include a filler within the periphery providing mass to the weight.

In another embodiment, a funnel system is disclosed comprising a funnel and a weight circumscribing the neck of the funnel, wherein the weight is removable from the funnel. The weight comprises a periphery defining an internal void, the void receiving the neck of the funnel. The weight may also include a filler within the periphery providing mass to the weight.

In another embodiment, a funnel system is disclosed comprising: a funnel, indicator means communicating with the funnel to provide visual indication of fluid level, and a weight circumscribing the neck of the funnel. The weight comprises a periphery defining an internal void, the void receiving the neck of the funnel. The weight may also include a filler within the periphery providing mass to the weight.

In the aforementioned embodiments, it is envisioned that the filler is selected from the group consisting of foam, sand, sponge, buckwheat, cornhusks, beans, various gel substances or putty, feathers and pellets. It is also envisioned that the weight may further comprise a magnet housed within the periphery.

As discussed above, the method and device of the present invention overcomes the disadvantages inherent in prior art methods and devices. In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

Accordingly, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception upon which this invention is based may readily be utilized as a basis for the design of other structures, methods, and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit of the present invention.

Furthermore, the purpose of the foregoing Abstract is to enable the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the public generally, and especially including the practitioners in the art who are not familiar with patent or legal terms or phraseology, to determine quickly from a cursory inspection, the nature and essence of the technical disclosure of the application. The Abstract is neither intended to define the invention of the application, nor is it intended to be limiting to the scope of the invention in any way. It is intended that the application is defined by the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an anchor or weight for a funnel, filter or strainer;

FIG. 2 is a top view of an alternate embodiment of the anchor or weight having a face, scallop or scoop;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a combination of a funnel and anchor or weight;

FIG. 4 is a partial front view of the neck of a funnel with stops;

FIG. 5 is a partial front view of a funnel, an anchor or weight, indicator means and attachment assembly;

FIG. 6 is a front view of indicator means;

FIG. 7 is a front view of an alternate view of indicator means of FIG. 6; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the attachment assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENT(S)

The detailed description below is provided in at least one embodiment, and possibly multiple embodiments, and is intended to explain the present invention. It is to be understood that a variety of other arrangements are also possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

The present invention is generally directed to a funnel having a weight or anchor about the neck so as to stabilize and support the funnel in a generally upright orientation relative to the opening with which the funnel is communicating. More specifically, the funnel comprises a weight or anchor that is aligned with the opening of the receiving container, having sufficient mass to maintain the position of the weight or anchor and to effectively support the funnel during use.

The present invention may be generally characterized and depicted in at least three different embodiments. One embodiment may be generally characterized as a weight or anchor 10 that is separate from a funnel, filter, strainer or other similar apparatus or device utilized for distributing fluids or solids from one container to another container. Another embodiment may be generally characterized as a funnel comprising a weight or anchor 10. Another embodiment may be generally characterized as a funnel system comprising a funnel, a weight or anchor 10 engaging the funnel, and/or an indicator means for visually representing the fluid or solid level within the receiving container. Other embodiments, and combinations of these embodiments, are envisioned as possible and practicable.

Referring now to FIG. 1 through FIG. 3, an anchor or weight 10 for a funnel 100 is depicted in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The anchor or weight 10 comprises a periphery or skirt 12 defining a void 14 internally disposed from the periphery 12. The void 14 communicates with the opening of a receiving container C and permits the insertion of the neck 104 (of funnel 100) through the void 14 and into the opening for distribution of a quantity of fluid or solid into the container. Once the neck 104 (of funnel 100) is inserted through the void 14 and into the opening of the container, the anchor or weight 10 supports the funnel 100 in a substantially upstanding orientation, allowing a user to position the nozzle, spout or opening of a source container in communication with the mouth of the funnel 100 for distributing the quantity of fluid or solid from the source container to the receiving container.

The anchor or weight 10 may comprise a variety of shapes and/or sizes, and have a variety of compositions. The periphery or skirt 12 would comprise the annular portion of the anchor or weight 10. The periphery or skirt 12 may comprise a unitary material, or blended material, such as metal, plastic, wood or ceramic, separately or in combination. The periphery or skirt 12 may also comprise an external fabric or material. Either embodiment may include a filler providing mass to the anchor or weight 10 apparatus, permitting the anchor or weight 10 to operate as a means for supporting the funnel 100 in a substantially upright orientation for use. The fabric or material may comprise any number of materials, especially materials that are durable and capable of maintaining the integrity of the anchor or weight 10 through repeated usage, exposure to environmental elements and exposure to the solids or fluids transported through the funnel 100. Materials envisioned include canvas, burlap, hemp, spandex, polyester, and other similar materials. The filler may also comprise a variety of materials or objects, including foam, sand, sponge, buckwheat, cornhusks, beans, various gel substances or putty, feathers, BB pellets or other suitable materials capable of providing mass to the anchor or weight 10. It is envisioned that one embodiment may comprise a fabric and a filler that is compressible and temporarily retains the funnel when pressed into the anchor or weight 10, and then is returnably resilient once the funnel is removed from the anchor or weight 10.

In a metal embodiment, including the use of metal as a secondary material, the metal and/or material may include a magnet or the ability to magnetize so that the anchor or weight 10 possesses attractive forces that may be utilized in combination with metal openings or containers. It is envisioned that the magnet may be utilized for securing the anchor or weight 10 to a metal container and/or for providing additional support to a metal funnel 100 used with the anchor or weight 10. An alternate embodiment, the anchor or weight 10 may comprise threads complementary to the threads (internal or external) of the receiving container, whereby the anchor or weight 10 may be secured to the container by mutually coupling the threads of the anchor or weight 10 and the container.

It is envisioned that one embodiment would include that the shape of anchor or weight 10 comprise a torroidal or annular ring shape and having a cylindrically shaped void 14 internally disposed from the periphery or skirt 12 of the anchor or weight 10. Other shapes, including triangles, orthogonals, elongated cylinders and other similar shapes are also envisioned. In another embodiment, the anchor or weight 10 may include a face, scallop or scoop 16 along a segment of the periphery or skirt 12, so as to provide clearance relative to adjacent objects (as depicted in FIG. 2). Thus, the face, scoop or scallop 16 may be aligned to complement a portion of another object, such as a wall or an element of an engine or the like. A face 16 is envisioned as having a generally linear form along the periphery 12, while a scoop or scallop 16 is envisioned as having a curvilinear form along the periphery 12.

In another embodiment, as depicted in FIG. 3, the anchor or weight 10′ is an element of a funnel 100. The funnel 100 comprises a mouth 102, a neck 104, and an integral anchor or weight 10′. The integral anchor or weight 10′ is substantially similar to the anchor or weight 10 and all the embodiments related thereto described above. The anchor or weight 10′ may be adjustable between a maximum height and a minimum height so as to accommodate openings or spouts of varying lengths or depths, the height controlled by a pair of stops 106 and 108 that are outwardly biased from the axis of the neck 104.

In another embodiment, as depicted in FIG. 5, the anchor or weight 10″ is an element of a funnel system 200. The funnel system 200 comprises a funnel 100 and an attachable and removable anchor or weight 10″. This embodiment of the funnel system 200 may also comprise an indicator means 120 (float) operatively coupled to the funnel 100 and communicating within the funnel 100 for providing visual indication of fluid levels within the receiving container.

Indicator means 120 may comprise a linearly elongated and/or cylindrical body 122. Means 120 is operatively coupled to an attachment assembly 140 (see FIG. 8), the attachment assembly 140 comprising a screen 142, a support (float tube attachment) 144 and a guide 146. The support 144 and guide 146 may be integral or separate elements. The screen 142 may be integral to the support 144 and guide 146 combination, or separate therefrom, resting subjacent to the support 144. Indicator means 120 is inserted into and communicates within the guide 146, reciprocating up and down in response to the level of fluid or solid distributed into the desired container.

The screen 142 is envisioned as having a disc shaped form and fabricated from a durable material with spaces available permitting liquid or fluid to pass through. The screen 142 may be formed from metal, plastic or other similar materials. It is envisioned that one embodiment of the screen 142 would include a wire or sieve-like mesh material.

The support 144 includes a substantially flat platform 144a from which at least one arm 144b (and depicted as arms 144b and 144c) having a curvilinear or arcuate form depends. The arm(s) 144b and/or 144c are utilized as a means for inhibiting the downward displacement of the assembly 140, with the arm(s) 144b and/or 144c engaging the internal frustoconical wall(s) of the mouth of the funnel 100. An alternate embodiment has the arms 144b and 144c positioned so as to be outwardly biased from the axis of the guide 146 or means 120 (as depicted in FIG. 7), the arms 144b and 144c engaging the junction of the opening and the neck within the funnel 100, preventing the guide from descending therethrough. The platform 144a also communicates with the guide 146, which downwardly depends from the platform 144a and is coaxial with the neck of the funnel 100. It is envisioned that the platform 144a and/or the guide 146 may have perforations therethrough to allow fluids or solids to pass through.

As depicted in FIG. 6 and FIG. 7, indicator means 120 may include indicia along the body 122 to visually represent the fluid or solid levels within the container. Indicator means 120 may also include a float 124 at a terminal end of the body. The float 124 communicates with the fluid or solid within the container, floating along the surface thereof and urging the body 122 of means 120 upward in response thereto. It is envisioned that the float 124 is larger in size compared to the body 122.

It is also envisioned that the system 200 may comprise an overfill ring 126 (see FIG. 7) operatively coupled with the float 124 through the guide 146. The ring 126 may be coupled to the float 124 a number of apparatuses, including string, wire, cable, chain or other suitable and similar means 132. The ring 126 may be utilized when too much fluid or solid is introduced into the funnel 100. Upon overfilling, a user may pull the ring 126 upward and urging the float 124 upward to obstruct the lower terminal opening of the guide 146. It is envisioned that an upper portion of the float 124 may become impinged within the inner portion of the terminal end of the body 122. The user may then empty the excess fluid or solid from the funnel 100, and then disengage the ring 126 and float 124 and resume filling the container as required. The body 122 may include indicia 128 and 130 for visually representing when it is safe to pour in the fluid (128—go) and when it is necessary to stop distributing of the fluid (130—stop). The indicia 128 and 130 may be color coordinated (128—green; 130—red) or some other variation that provides a distinction between indicia 128 and 130. As indicated previously, the body 122 may further include at least one arm 144b and/or 144c depending from and inwardly biased toward the body 122 so that the body 122 may be inserted through the bottom end of the guide 146 and into the neck of the funnel 100. The arm(s) 144b and/or 144c function to prevent the means 120 and/or guide 146 from descending through the neck of the funnel 100.

In another embodiment, the funnel 100 may include an edge or lip, or a plurality of edges or lips, 160 inside the mouth of the funnel to prevent float tube from projecting out of the funnel. The edge or lip 160 may be continuous or semi-continuous about the inner circumference of the mouth of the funnel 100. Conversely, a plurality of smaller edges or lips or obstructions 160 may be provided about the inner circumference of the mouth of the funnel 100.