Title:
Transfer platform assembly for a lavatory seat
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A transfer platform assembly for use as an aid for a handicapped person to move from the seat of a, preferably mobile and wheeled, seating device to a lavatory seat is pivotally secured or securable to toilet bowl of a lavatory and to a lavatory seat. The assembly has an elevator platform and a transfer platform pivotally connected to the elevator platform. The elevator platform may be extended into an elevated platform configuration and the transfer platform raised into an upright position to place the assembly in a functional configuration in which the transfer platform extends substantially horizontally from the lavatory seat to the seat of the seating device and is supported thereby to provide a supporting surface for the person to slide therebetween. A notch is formed in the transfer platform to receive, when the assembly is in the functional configuration, a wheel of the seating device.



Inventors:
Dupuis, Lisette (St-Ludger, CA)
Application Number:
12/071418
Publication Date:
06/19/2008
Filing Date:
02/21/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CRANE, LAUREN ASHLEY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Franz BONSANG (St-Laurent, QC, CA)
Claims:
1. A transfer platform assembly for passage between a device seat of a seating device and an upper seat surface of a lavatory seat of a lavatory, the lavatory having a rear portion extending adjacently from a bowl rim defining a bowl aperture thereof and the lavatory seat being sized and shaped for abuttingly overlaying the top bowl rim with a seat aperture of the lavatory seat aligned with the lavatory aperture and with an outer seat edge of the lavatory seat substantially aligned with an outer rim edge of the bowl rim, the assembly comprising: an elevator platform connectable to the lavatory seat and to the bowl rim with the elevator platform overlaying the bowl rim and the lavatory seat overlaying the elevator platform; and a transfer platform connected to the elevating device, the transfer platform and the elevator platform being movable into a functional configuration in which said transfer platform extends in an upright position therefor in substantially horizontal extension from the outer seat edge and vertical alignment with the upper seat surface and in which said elevator platform is extended into an elevated platform configuration in which said transfer platform in said upright position lies across the device seat and is supported thereby for enabling passage thereon of a person between the lavatory seat and the seating device.

2. The transfer platform assembly of claim 1, wherein said transfer platform assembly further comprises at least one registration notch disposed on said transfer platform and adjacent the lavatory seat when said transfer platform is in said upright position, a wheel of the seating device being positively receivable in said registration notch for registration therewith when said assembly is in said functional configuration.

3. The transfer platform assembly of claim 2, wherein said registration notch is provided in an outer plate edge of the transfer platform adjacent the lavatory seat.

4. The transfer platform assembly of claim 1, wherein said transfer platform is pivotally connected to said elevator platform by a platform hinging arrangement.

5. The transfer platform assembly of claim 4, wherein the transfer platform is pivotal about the platform hinging arrangement between said upright functional position and a stowed position therefor.

6. The transfer platform assembly of claim 5, wherein the transfer platform, when in said stowed position, depends generally downwardly from said elevator platform.

7. The transfer platform assembly of claim 4, further comprising a guideway disposed circumferentially on said elevator platform and in which said platform hinging arrangement is movably mounted, said guideway providing a track for movement of said platform hinging arrangement, and thereby said transfer platform, to a desired location on said elevating platform relative the lavatory seat.

8. The transfer platform assembly of claim 1, where said elevator platform, and thereby said transfer platform, is selectively extendable and retractable between said elevated platform configuration and a lower retracted platform configuration in which said elevator platform, and thereby said transfer platform, is disposed generally lower than said device seat when said elevator platform overlays the bowl rim.

9. The transfer platform assembly of claim 8, further comprising a controller connected to said elevator platform, said controller controlling extension and retraction of said elevator platform between, respectively said elevated platform configuration and said retracted platform configuration.

10. The transfer platform assembly of claim 1, wherein said elevator platform comprises first and second plates and at least one elevating cylinder movably connecting said first and second plates and extending therebetween, said first plate being pivotally connectable to and overlaying the bowl rim and said lavatory seat being pivotally connectable to and overlaying said second plate, said transfer platform being pivotally connected to said second plate, said at least one elevating cylinder selectively extending said second plate away from said first plate to extend said elevator platform into said into an elevated platform configuration.

11. The transfer platform assembly of claim 10, wherein said first and second plates each have a respective plate aperture, each said respective plate aperture aligning with the bowl aperture when said first plate overlays the bowl rim and said respective plate aperture of said second plate being aligned with said seat aperture when said seat overlays said second plate.

12. The transfer platform assembly of claim 10, wherein said transfer platform is pivotally connected by a platform hinging arrangement to a plate bottom surface of said second plate in proximity to a respective outer plate edge thereof, said respective outer plate edge extending generally parallel and proximal the outer seat edge and generally recessed relative thereto when said lavatory seat overlays said second plate.

13. The transfer platform assembly of claim 10, wherein said at least one elevating cylinder is a hydraulic cylinder.

14. The transfer platform assembly of claim 10, wherein said at least one elevating cylinder comprises a rear elevating cylinder and two front elevating cylinders, said rear elevating cylinder connecting respective plate rear portions of said first and second plates and said front elevating cylinders connecting respective front portions of said first and second plates, said rear elevating cylinder being disposed substantially equidistant each said front elevating cylinder.

15. The transfer platform assembly of claim 12, wherein said platform hinging arrangement comprises first and second platform hinge connectors disposed substantially parallel one another and hingeably and pivotally connecting said transfer platform, on a transfer platform bottom surface thereof, to said plate bottom surface.

16. The transfer platform assembly of claim 15, wherein each said platform hinge connector comprises a respective longitudinal hinge member connected to said plate bottom surface, a respective hinge bracket connected on an upper bracket portion thereof to said platform bottom surface, and a platform hinge pivotally connecting a lower bracket portion of said respective hinge bracket to said respective longitudinal hinge member, said lower bracket portion extending beneath said upper bracket portion.

17. The transfer platform assembly of claim 16, further comprising, on said first platform hinge connector, a first hook disposed adjacent said platform hinge and, on said lower bracket portion, a hook member pivotally mounted thereon and having a second hook disposed on a hooked end thereof proximal said platform hinge, a spring connecting a distal spring end of the hook member to the upper bracket portion and biasing said distal spring end theretoward, and a handle, said first and second hooks being configured for mating engagement with each other when said transfer platform is in said upright position, said hooks being releasable from one another by exertion of an upwardly directed force with said handle to release said hooks.

18. The transfer platform assembly of claim 13, further comprising a controller connected to each hydraulic cylinder and adjacently attached to said first plate, said controller controlling extension and retraction of said elevator platform respectively between said elevated platform configuration and said retracted platform configuration, by controlling extension and retraction of said at least one cylinder between an extended cylinder position, corresponding to said elevated platform configuration, and a retracted cylinder position, corresponding to an retracted cylinder position.

19. The transfer platform assembly of claim 18, wherein said controller comprises a lever pivotally mounted thereon and extending alongside said first plate, said lever being movable between an upper first position, for extending the elevator platform into said extended platform configuration, and a lower second position, for retracting said elevator platform into said retracted platform configuration to respectively raise and lower said transfer platform between said raised position and said lowered position.

20. The transfer platform assembly of claim 19, wherein said controller further comprises a slidable locking member, said slidable locking member being slidably movable from an locked position, in which said locking member extends transversally across said lever and prevents pivotal movement thereof between said first and said second positions, and an unlocked position, in which said locking member is spaced apart from said lever, said lever being thereby freely movable between said first and second positions.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/055,695, filed on Feb. 11, 2005 and incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a transfer platform assembly for a lavatory seat to facilitate the transfer of a handicapped person to and from the lavatory seat, be it a lavatory seat on a fixed toilet or one on a commode. It is to be understood that the expression ‘handicapped person’ includes one who is permanently disabled or incapacitated, for example by injury or age, or one who is temporarily incapacitated for example by illness.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is well known in the art to use a board or plank to facilitate the transfer of a handicapped person to and from a lavatory seat. The existing art suffers from drawbacks terms of either suitability for use by an unaccompanied handicapped person in a wheel chair or disposition in a bathroom.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,951,328 issued to Potvin on Aug. 28, 1990 presents a seat that can swivel. FIG. 6 of U.S. Pat. No. 1,428,627 issued to Grabfelder on Sep. 12, 1922, U.S. Pat. No. 2,752,610 issued to Mabrey on Jul. 3, 1956, U.S. Pat. No. 3,863,276 issued to Agnew et al. on Feb. 4, 1975, U.S. Pat. No. 5,687,431 issued to Garrett on Nov. 18, 1997, U.S. Pat. No. 6,721,966 issued to Costonde on Apr. 20, 2004 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,760,929 issued to Dippel on Jul. 13, 2004 disclose various types of transfer bench, board or seat assembly for which the shape is not specifically designed to accommodate the access of a wheel of a wheel chair, and accordingly impede the wheel from assuming the most efficacious position. Therefore, difficulties are presented for an unaccompanied person to achieve transfer. U.S. Pat. No. 6,675,401 issued to Peterson et al. on Jan. 13, 2004 shows in FIG. 5 a seat with sides extending at an angle to improve the ability of the user to position an article such as a wheel chair in proximity to a commode seat. That invention however does not have the design to allow in desirably close access of the wheel of a wheel chair between the sanitary seat and the transfer seat in such a way that the wheel chair is easily maneuverable into position, and that the transfer seat can be inserted almost fully in-between the patient or user and the wheel chair seat.

The limited space available in a bathroom in standard homes should also be considered in the design of such devices. Furthermore, one skilled in the art will understand that apart from the limited spacing, there is often only one direction for access to the lavatory seat, the direction understandably varying from one bathroom to another. U.S. Pat. No. 6,721,966 mentioned earlier can be transferable around the rim of a toilet seat but similarly does not offer a shape specifically designed to ease access and indeed somewhat blocks the placement of the wheel of a wheel chair in the most desirable location.

Accordingly, there is a need for an improved means for transfer onto a lavatory seat with a simple configuration.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore a general object of the present invention to provide an improved transfer platform assembly for transfer onto a lavatory seat.

An advantage of the present invention is that the transfer platform assembly for transfer onto a lavatory seat is provided with a notch to help access of a wheel of a wheel chair thereby enabling the wheel chair to be in close proximity to and positively and restrainably to register adjacent the lavatory seat.

A further advantage of the present invention is that the transfer platform assembly enables an unaccompanied person to move himself or herself from a wheel chair onto a lavatory seat.

Still another advantage of the present invention is that the transfer platform assembly provides a design that can easily slide in-between a person and the seat of a wheel chair.

Another advantage of the present invention is that the transfer platform assembly t is easy to manufacture in conjunction with a lavatory seat and is economically sound. The platform may be of any suitable material, for example a plastics material.

A still further advantage of the present invention is that the transfer platform assembly provides a transfer platform capable of variable positioning around the lavatory seat.

Another advantage of the present invention is that the transfer platform assembly provides a transfer platform that may be pivotally or foldably stowed adjacent the base of the toilet seat.

Accordingly one aspect of the invention provides a transfer platform assembly for passage between a device seat of a seating device and an upper seat surface of a lavatory seat of a lavatory, the lavatory having a rear portion extending adjacently from a bowl rim defining a bowl aperture thereof and the lavatory seat being sized and shaped for abuttingly overlaying the top bowl rim with a seat aperture of the lavatory seat aligned with the lavatory aperture and with an outer seat edge of the lavatory seat substantially aligned with an outer rim edge of the bowl rim, the assembly comprising:

    • an elevator platform connectable to the lavatory seat and to the bowl rim with the elevator platform overlaying the bowl rim and the lavatory seat overlaying the elevator platform; and
    • a transfer platform connected to the elevating device, the transfer platform and the elevator platform being movable into a functional configuration in which the transfer platform extends in an upright position therefor in substantially horizontal extension from the outer seat edge and vertical alignment with the upper seat surface and in which the elevator platform is extended into an elevated platform configuration in which the transfer platform in the upright position lies across the device seat and is supported thereby for enabling passage thereon of a person between the lavatory seat and the seating device.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from a careful reading of the detailed description provided herein, with appropriate reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the description in association with the following Figures, in which similar references used in different Figures denote similar components, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a transfer platform assembly in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention showing the platform in notional use in association with a lavatory seat and a seating device located adjacent thereto;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the transfer platform assembly shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an underside plan view of the transfer platform assembly showing the notional positions of a transfer platform thereof;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of the transfer platform assembly shown in FIG. 1 in a functional configuration;

FIG. 4a is an enlarged view of a locking member and lever for a controller for the transfer platform assembly shown in FIG. 1 for the functional configuration;

FIG. 4b is an enlarged view showing a platform hinging arrangement for the transfer platform assembly shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the transfer platform assembly shown in FIG. 1 in a stowed configuration;

FIG. 5a is an enlarged view of a lever for a controller for the transfer platform assembly for the stowed configuration;

FIG. 6 is a schematic view of hydraulic cylinders and circuits in an extended configuration; and

FIG. 7 is a schematic view of hydraulic cylinders and circuits in a retracted configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to the annexed drawings the preferred embodiments of the present invention will be herein described for indicative purpose and by no means as of limitation.

Reference is now made to FIGS. 1, 2, 3, 4, 4a, 4b, 5 and 5a, which show an embodiment of a transfer platform assembly, shown generally as 10, in accordance with the present invention for transfer of a user from a device seat 32 of a seating device 30, shown for illustrative purpose as a wheeled mobile device in the form of a wheelchair 30, to a lavatory seat 4. In FIGS. 1 and 2, the transfer platform assembly 10 is illustrated in association with a lavatory seat 4 provided with a conventional lid 6 and a toilet bowl 8, having a conventional, preferably ovate, toilet bowl aperture 42. Specifically, the lavatory seat 4 is pivotally mountable on the platform assembly 10 with conventional screws or bolts 50 inserted through conventional lavatory seat mounting apertures 52a of conventional lavatory hinges 48a. The screws or bolts 50 extended through the lavatory seat mounting apertures 52a are insertable through assembly mounting apertures 58 of a second plate 56 of the assembly 10 and then insertable through lavatory seat mounting apertures 52b of conventional lavatory hinges 48b of a first plate 50, connected to and aligned with second plate 56. The plates 56, 60, along with elevating cylinders 126 which extend therebetween and are connected thereto, form an elevator platform, shown generally as 64, therewith. The screws or bolts 50 may then be inserted into conventional lavatory seat sockets 38 on a rear bowl portion 40, proximal a flushing cistern 12, of the bowl 8. Thus, the assembly 10 is pivotally connectable to the seat 4 and the bowl 8, with the assembly 10 disposed therebetween, in similar fashion as a conventional seat 4. A transfer platform 94 is, in turn, pivotally hingedly connected to a lower plate surface 96 of the second plate 60 for providing transfer of a user between the wheel chair seat 32 and the lavatory seat 4.

As the seat 4 and lid 6 are pivotally mountable on the assembly 10, and notably the first second plate 10, the seat 4 and lid 6 are pivotally movable between, respectively, conventional respective upper and lower seat positions and upper and lower lid positions therefore, well known in the art. In the lower seat position for the seat 4, illustrated in FIG. 1, when the assembly 10 is installed as described above, the seat 4 overlays and is in abutment with the second plate 56 with the first plate 60 overlaying the toilet bowl and generally in abutment therewith. In the upper lid position shown in FIG. 1, the lid 6 is pivotally raised away from the seat 6 and extends, generally upright, proximal the cistern 12, typically laying abutting thereagainst. In the upper seat position, not shown, the seat 4 lays generally upright against the lid 6. In the lower lid position, not shown, the lid 6 extends adjacently over the seat 4, generally parallel thereto and covering the lavatory seat aperture 70 of the lavatory seat 4.

Similarly, as the assembly 10, and more particularly the first plate 56 of elevator platform 64, is pivotally mounted to the bowl 8 with toilet seat hinges 48b, the assembly 10, and more particularly the elevator platform 64, is pivotally movable between a descended horizontal overlay position, shown generally as 72, and a vertical upright position, not shown. In the horizontal position 72, the elevating platform 64 extends horizontally adjacent and overlaying the bowl 8, with the first plate 60 resting thereupon preferably in abutment therewith and supported by tabs 76. Tabs 76 extend spaced apart from one another from the first plate 60 and are sized and shaped for resting on the rim 80 and extending over an outer rim edge 82 thereof. In the vertical upright position, not shown, the elevator platform 64 is raised and extends vertically upright away from the bowl 8, with the second plate 56 disposed on, and generally abutting, the seat lower surface 84 of the seat 4 in the upper seat position.

As shown for the horizontal overlay position 72, the plates 56, 60 have respective aligned plate apertures 88 extending therethrough and aligned with one another. Further, the plates 56, 60 are configured, i.e. sized and shaped, to align with the toilet bowl rim 80 with the plate apertures 88 aligned with the with the seat aperture 70 of the seat 4 when the seat 4 is in the lower seat position, i.e. extending horizontally overlaying the second plate 56 and the elevating platform 64 is in the horizontal overlay position 72. Similarly, since the seat aperture 70 is size and shaped, as is well known in the art, to align with the bowl aperture 42 when the seat 4 is lowered and extends in the lower seat position, the seat aperture 42 similarly aligns with the plate apertures 88 when the seat 4 is in the lower seat position resting on the second plate 56 and the platform is in the horizontal overlay position 72. Further, each plate 56, 60 is sized and shaped on a respective outer plate edge 90 thereof to horizontally align with the outer rim edge 82 in the horizontal overlay position 72 and to extend slightly recessed from and proximally adjacent to the outer seat edge 92 of the seat 4 with the seat 4 overlaying and abutting the second plate 56.

Referring now to FIGS. 1, 2, 3, and 4 to enable transfer of a user from the lavatory seat 4 to a wheel chair seat 32, the assembly 10, with the elevator platform 64 in the horizontal overlay position 72, including the seat 4 in the lower seat position, is placed in a functional configuration, shown generally as 98 in FIGS. 1 and 4. In the functional configuration 98, the transfer platform 94 is pivotally extended into an upright position 108 therefor, in which the transfer platform 94 extends proximally adjacent the outer seat edge 92 with the upper platform surface 106 thereof in horizontal planar alignment with an upper seat surface 102 of the lavatory seat 4 and elevated, by the elevator platform 64, to an elevated platform configuration 110 in which the transfer platform 92 is vertically positioned for extension in the upright position 108 across the device seat with the transfer platform bottom surface 112 supported thereby. Thus, in the functional configuration 98, the assembly 10 provides for passage of a user on a substantially continuous support surface or transfer path, namely the upper platform surface 106, that is substantially co-planar with the upper seat surface 102 and the device seat 32.

Reference is now made FIGS. 1 and 4. To permit the seating device 30, especially when the seating device is a mobile seating device having wheels 36 such as a wheelchair 30, to be more closely positioned relative the assembly 10, the transfer platform 94 has a registration means in the form of a registration notch 20. The registration notch 20 is generally located in an outer platform edge 5 of the platform 94 in close adjacency to outer plate edge 90 of the second plate 46, and thereby the outer seat edge 92 of lavatory seat 4 when the assembly 10 is in the functional configuration 98 with the seat 4 overlaying the elevator platform 64. Typically, an additional registration notch 20 is also located opposite the first one to allow usage of the platform 94 on either side of the seat 4 and assembly 10. Thus, and as shown in FIG. 1, the wheeled seating device 30 can be maneuvered whereby the transfer platform 94 overlies the device seat 32 of the chair with one arm 34 of the seating device 30 having been pivoted in the manner shown to allow movement of a user from the device seat 32 laterally toward the lavatory seat 4. Importantly, the large wheel 36 of the seating device 30 next to the lavatory seat 4 and assembly 10 registers positively in the notch 20 thus providing positive engagement as between the chair 30 and the transfer platform 94 of the assembly 10. The combination of the overlying character of the transfer platform 94 of the assembly 10 in relation to the device seat 32 and the interengagement of the wheel 36 and the notch 20 provides security for the user when transferring from the device seat 32 to the lavatory seat 4. In essence the user is enabled to move smoothly across the traversal path of the upper platform surface 106 from the seating device 30 to the lavatory seat 4 without fear of relative and destabilizing movement. An unaccompanied seating device occupant will thus benefit from the present invention in this way.

It should be noted that the seating device 30 could be any seating device 30, such as a bench, standard chair, stool, or the like, and may or may not have wheels 36 disposed thereon. In cases where the assembly is used with seating devices not having wheels 36, the notch 20, or use thereof, may not be necessary.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, the transfer platform 94 is illustrated in full lines at the front part of the second plate 56 and is connected to the second plate bottom surface 78 thereto by a platform hinging arrangement, shown generally as 200, movably mounted with two guide wheels 122 in a track, channel or guideway 120 secured to the second plate bottom surface 78. The platform hinging arrangement 200, and thereby the transfer platform 94, may be easily moved, as shown in the ghosted outline, in the guideway 120 disposed circumferentially on the second plate 56 to alternative desired notional locations for the platform 94 at different positions around the outer perimeter, defined by outer plate edge 90, of the second plate 56 and lavatory seat 4 when in abutment therewith in the lowered seat position 62. Thus, the assembly 10 provides for flexibility of choice to accommodate different designs for bathrooms and the prevailing clearance space available for use of the transfer platform 94 and assembly 10.

Referring now to FIGS. 2, 5, and 6, when the transfer platform 94 is not in use it may be pivotally lowered relative the second plate 56 into a stowed position, shown as 124 in FIG. 5, in which it depends from the elevator platform 64, and notably the second plate 56. Thus, when the elevator platform 64 overlays the bowl 8 in the horizontal overlay position 72, the transfer platform 94 in the stowed position 124 depends vertically downwardly from the elevator platform 64 in close adjacency to the bowl 8 and, as such, out of the way of an able bodied user. Further, the elevator platform 64, more specifically the second plate 56 thereof relative the first plate 60 thereof, and the transfer platform 94 may be retracted into a lowered retracted platform configuration 127, in which the second plate 56 is situated more closely, i.e. retracted, to the first platform than in the elevated platform configuration 110. Thus, when the elevator platform 64 is in both the retracted platform configuration 127 and the horizontal overlay position 72, the second plate 56 and the transfer platform 94 are in a lower position, compared to the elevated platform configuration 110, on the toilet bowl 8, which may be more comfortable or better suited for able bodied persons. When the assembly 10 is in a disengaged configuration 129, typically the most appropriate for able bodied users, the elevator platform is in the retracted platform configuration 127 and horizontal overlay position 72, with the transfer platform in the stowed position 124.

As best shown in FIGS. 4, 5, 6, and 7 the extension and retraction of the elevating platform 64, and thereby the transfer platform 94 connected to the second plate 56 thereof, between the elevated platform configuration 110 and the retracted platform configuration 127 is provided by, preferably hydraulic, elevating cylinders 126 connected to hydraulic circuits 128, shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. The circuits 128 are connected to and controlled by controller 130 having a pivotally movably and pivotally mounted control lever 132. When the control lever 132 is in an upper first lever position 134, best shown in FIG. 6, fluid is directed towards the cylinders 126 as shown by the arrows in FIG. 6, causing them to extend into an extended cylinder position 136, which extends, i.e. raises the, second plate 56 away from the first plate 60. Thus, the elevator platform 64 and transfer platform 94 are extended into the elevated platform configuration 110, as illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 6, which corresponds to the extended cylinder position 136. Conversely, and as shown in FIG. 7, when the control lever 132 is moved into a lower second lever position 138, fluid is directed towards the cylinders 126 as shown by the arrows in FIG. 7, causing them to retract into a retracted cylinder position 140, which retracts the second plate 56 towards the first plate 60. Thus, the elevator platform 64 and transfer platform 94 are retracted into the retracted platform configuration 127, corresponding to the retracted cylinder position 140, as illustrated in FIG. 5, which lowers the elevator platform 64 and transfer platform 94.

Preferably, there are at least three elevating cylinders 126. A rear elevating cylinder 126a connects the rear plate portions of the plates 56, 60 which are disposed proximal the cistern 12 and is generally centrally positioned on the rear plate portions. Two front cylinders 126b, 126c are connect respective front portions of said first and second plates 60, 56, and are generally positioned such that the rear cylinder 126a is centrally situated relative each front cylinder 126b, 126c. Accordingly, the rear cylinder 126a is disposed substantially equidistant each front cylinder 126a, 126b.

Reference is now made FIGS. 2, 4, 5, 4a, and 5a. As shown in FIGS. 2, 4, and 5, the controller 130 is fixedly and securely mounted on one side of the elevator platform 64, preferably spaced apart therefrom and on the first plate 60, with the lever 132 extending generally longitudinally alongside the platform 64. To help ensure that the platforms 64 and lever 132 are maintained in the desired configuration 110, 127 therefor, the controller 130 also has a lever locking means 140 which locks the lever 132 in either of the lever positions 134, 138. As shown, the lever locking means 140 consists of a lever locking member 141 movably, and preferably slidably mounted on the controller 130. As shown, the lever locking member 141 is movable, and preferably slidable, between a locked position 144 therefor, shown in FIGS. 4a and 5a, in which the locking member 141 extends transversally and preferably perpendicularly across the pivotal path of the lever 132, and preferably in abutment therewith. Thus, when the locking member 140 in the locked position 144 and the lever is in the first position 134, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 4a, the lever 132 cannot be moved into the second position 138. Accordingly, the elevator platform 64 is kept in the elevated platform configuration 110. Similarly, when the locking member 141 is in the locked position 144 and the lever 132 is in the second position 138, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 5a, the lever 132 cannot be moved into the first position 134. Accordingly, the elevator platform 64 is kept in the retracted platform configuration. When the locking member 144 is moved into the free unlocked position 150, the pivotal path of the lever 132 is completely disengaged thereby and the lever may be freely moved between the positions 134, 138.

It should be noted that the elevating cylinders 126 and circuits 128 could also be pneumatic. Similarly, instead of using cylinders 126 and circuits 128 for extending and retracting the plates 56, 60 relative one another, other means such as motors, pumps, and air or water inflatable cushions extending between the plates 56, 60, or the like could be deployed.

As mentioned previously, the pivoting movement of the transfer platform 94 relative the elevator platform 64, and notably the second plate 56 to which the transfer platform 94 is connected, is provided by the platform hinging arrangement 200, which is connected to the second plate bottom surface 78 of the second plate 56 and the bottom transfer platform surface 112 in proximity to the second platform outer rim edge 90 thereof. Specifically, and as best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4b, the platform hinging arrangement 200 has first and second platform hinge connectors, shown generally as 210, 212, disposed substantially parallel one another and hingeably and pivotally connecting the transfer platform 94 to the second plate 56. Each platform hinge connector 210, 212 has a respective longitudinal hinge member 214 connected to the second plate bottom surface 78 of the second plate 56 and a hinge bracket 220 connected on an upper bracket portion 222 thereof to a lower surface 112 of the platform 94. The hinge 224 connects a lower bracket portion 226 of the hinge bracket 220, which extends beneath the upper portion 222, to the first hinge member 214.

To lock the platform 94 in the upright position 108, at least one of the hinge connectors 210, 212 has a hinge locking means. The hinge locking means consists of a first hook 228 formed on a hooked end 230 of the hinge member 214 disposed adjacent the platform hinge 224, a hook member 232 pivotally mounted on the lower bracket portion 226 having a second hook 234 disposed on a hooked first end 236 thereof, and a spring 238 connecting a spring end 240, opposite the hooked end 236, of the hook member 232 to the upper bracket portion 222. The first and second hooks 228, 234 are configured for mating engagement with each other in a retaining configuration therefore, shown generally as 250, with the spring 238 biasing the hooks 228, 234 into the retaining configuration 250 when the transfer platform 94 is in the upright position 108. By exerting an upwardly directed force on a handle 260 extending laterally from the hook member 232, the hooks 228, 234 are disengaged from one another, which enables the transfer platform 94 to be placed in the stowed position.

Although the present invention has been described with a certain degree of particularity, it is to be understood that the disclosure has been made by way of example only and is not limited to the features of the embodiments described and illustrated herein, but includes all variations and modifications within the scope and spirit of the invention as hereinafter claimed.