Title:
Self-Closing Toilet Seat
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toilet assembly (10) comprising a bowl (14), a toilet seat, a hinge (16, 18) that is mounted on the bowl and that pivotally supports the toilet seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge (18) having therein a bore, a tank (24) mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, a latch bolt (32) extending through the hinge bore, the latch bolt including a member engageable with the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, the latch bolt further including a catch lever and a spring biasing the catch lever upwardly, a release lever mounted on the latch bolt for movement between a catch position and a release position, the release lever moving from its catch position to its release position in response to flushing of the toilet, and a nut threaded onto the latch bolt (32) to secure the hinge (18) to the bowl (14).



Inventors:
Hand, Joseph (Sheboygan Falls, WI, US)
Seaman, John (Sheboygan Falls, WI, US)
Mailhot, Scott (Sheboygan, WI, US)
Hulsebus, Randy (Plymouth, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/908686
Publication Date:
09/04/2008
Filing Date:
03/15/2006
Assignee:
BEMIS MANUFACTURING COMPANY (Sheboygan Falls, WI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D9/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090255042REPLACEMENT FITTING FOR TOILET FLUSH VALVESOctober, 2009Htay et al.
20060064806Hygienic toilet seatMarch, 2006Kuo
20090126099Bearingless pin hydrotherapy jetMay, 2009Holtsnider
20070214556SLOW CLOSURE MECHANISM FOR TOILET COVERSSeptember, 2007Osman ER.
20090217453PLEXIGLAS SURFACE WITH ANTI-SLIP PROPERTIES AND SANITARY ELEMENTS EQUIPPED WITH THE LATTERSeptember, 2009Theil et al.
20040143891Lid coverJuly, 2004Deibler et al.
20040111795SWIMMING POOL COVER STRUCTUREJune, 2004Oke
20020038475Splash and overspray guardApril, 2002Garrett et al.
20060218718Overhead waterfall showerOctober, 2006Deboer et al.
20060230517Air injector system apparatus and methods for a tub or spaOctober, 2006Bedard
20080120773Faucet Body that is Worked Easily and QuicklyMay, 2008Lin



Primary Examiner:
HUSON, GREGORY L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP (Bemis) (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
1. A toilet assembly comprising a bowl, a toilet seat, a hinge that is mounted on the bowl and that pivotally supports the toilet seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a tank mounted on the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, and a cord extending from the tank to a point substantially directly beneath the hinge, the cord being operatively connected to the member and actuating the member in response to flushing of the toilet.

2. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein the cord is transparent.

3. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein the cord is tape-like.

4. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein the tank has a rear surface, a bottom surface and a corner between the rear and bottom surfaces, wherein the cord extends from the tank, down the rear surface of the tank and beneath the bottom surface of the tank, and wherein the assembly further comprises a guide member that guides the cord around the corner of the tank and protects the cord from rubbing against the tank.

5. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein the hinge has a cap to cover the head of the latch bolt, the cap having therein an opening through which the member extends.

6. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim I wherein the bowl has therein a bore for mounting of the hinge, wherein the hinge has therein a bore that aligns with the bore in the bowl, and further including a latch bolt extending through the hinge bore and the bowl bore, and a nut threaded onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl, the latch bolt including the member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and a release lever pivotally mounted on the latch bolt, the release lever being operatively connected to the member and being movable between two positions, and the cord being operatively connected to the release lever a point located substantially directly beneath the hinge when the release lever is in one of its positions.

7. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 6 wherein the latch bolt includes an externally threaded tube having an upper end, and a top nut fixed on the upper end of the tube to form the head of the latch bolt, the top nut having therethrough an opening through which the member extends, and the top nut having a non-circular shape and seating in a complementary socket in the hinge such that rotation of the latch bolt relative to the hinge is prevented.

8. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 7 wherein the top nut is threaded onto the upper end of the tube.

9. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 6 wherein the latch bolt includes an externally threaded tube having an upper end through which the member extends, and wherein the tube has an internal bore, and further including a catch lever inside the tube bore, the catch lever extending out of the lower end of the bore, the catch lever having a shoulder, and the catch lever being operatively connected to the member, and a spring biasing the catch lever upwardly in the bore, the catch lever movable between an upper release position and a lower catch position, such that when the catch lever is in the catch position, the shoulder on the catch lever engages the lower end of the tube and prevents upward movement of the catch lever, and such that, when the catch lever is in the catch position, movement of the lower end of the catch lever in one direction disengages the shoulder to allow the spring to move the catch lever upward to the release position.

10. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 9 wherein the catch lever and the member are formed separately.

11. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 9 wherein the release lever is mounted on the latch bolt for pivotal movement about a generally horizontal axis, the release lever being movable between a catch position and a release position that correspond to the like-named positions of the catch lever, the release lever having a camming surface engaging the lower end of the catch lever such that movement of the catch lever to its catch position moves the release lever to its catch position, and pivotal movement of the release lever to its release position moves the lower end of the catch lever so that the shoulder disengages from the lower end of the tube and the catch lever snaps to its release position.

12. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 11 wherein one end of the cord is connected to the release lever and the opposite end of the cord is secured to a float inside the tank, the float having sufficient weight to pull the cord to move the release lever when the water level in the tank drops as a result of flushing of the toilet.

13. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 9 and further including a catch lever guide fixed on the upper end of the catch lever, the catch lever guide having a projection, the spring extending between bore shoulder and catch lever guide, the catch lever and the catch lever guide being permitted a limited range of angular movement within the bore, and the catch lever and the catch lever guide being permitted a limited range of pivotal movement about the longitudinal axis of the bore.

14. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 13 wherein the opening in the top nut is non-circular, wherein the member is a plunger located inside the bore and movable between an upper position and a lower position, the plunger having a non-circular rod portion that extends through the opening in the top nut, the shape of the opening and the cross-sectional shape of the rod being complementary such that the rod is prevented from rotating within the opening, such that when the plunger is in the upper position, raising of the toilet seat causes the seat to engage the rod and move the plunger to the lower position, and such that, when the seat is in the raised position, movement of the plunger to the upper position causes the rod to engage the seat and cause the seat to move downward, the plunger also having an enlarged lower portion within the tube, a shoulder between the upper and lower portions engaging the underside of the top nut and limiting upward movement of the plunger relative to the tube, the lower portion having a shelf-like projection that overlaps with the projection on the catch lever guide, the interengagement of the projections and engagement of the shelf-like projection by the guide and engagement of the guide projection by the plunger lower portion allowing a limited amount of pivotal or twisting movement of the catch lever and catch lever guide relative to the plunger, and also allowing a limited amount of cocking movement of the catch lever and catch lever guide relative to the plunger, the construction of the guide and the plunger being such that the upward force of the spring on the guide pivotally biases the guide relative to the plunger, pivotal movement of the guide relative to the plunger being limited by engagement of the catch lever by the inner wall of the tube when the lever is in the release position, and such that, when the plunger pushes the guide downward toward the catch position, the lever pivots quickly when the shoulder on the lever clears the lower end of the tube, such that the lever snaps into the catch position, and such that, once in the catch position, the lever can only be returned to the release position by pivoting the lever in the opposite direction.

15. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 14 and further including a bushing sleeve that slides onto the lower end of the latch bolt, a slot in the lower end of the sleeve receiving the lower end of the catch lever and thereby properly angularly orienting the sleeve relative to the bolt, the sleeve having diametrically opposed, axially extending, parallel projections having thereon respective inwardly extending ribs that engage the threads of the bolt, the projections being resilient and flexible, and a lock ring surrounding the sleeve and being movable relative to the sleeve between upper and lower positions, such that, in its upper position, in which the ring is at the top of the sleeve, the ring is clear of the projections and allows outward movement of the projections, and such that, in its lower position, the ring surrounds the projections and prevents outward movement of the projections, the ribs and the projections being configured such that, when the ring is in its upper position, the ribs and projections permit the sleeve to be slid onto the bolt over the threads of the tube, a shoulder inside the sleeve engaging the lower end of the bolt to limit movement of the sleeve onto the bolt, and such that, when the sleeve is in position on the tube, and the ring is in its lower position, the ring prevents movement of the projections and the ribs and thereby prevents the sleeve from sliding off the tube.

16. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 15 wherein the release lever is mounted on the lower end of the sleeve for pivotal movement about a generally horizontal axis that extends generally perpendicular to the front-to-back axis of the bowl, the release lever being movable between a catch position and a release position that correspond to the like-named positions of the catch lever, the release lever having a camming surface engaging the lower end of the catch lever such that movement of the catch lever to its catch position moves the release lever to its catch position, and pivotal movement of the release lever to its release position moves the lower end of the catch lever so that the shoulder disengages from the lower end of the tube and the catch lever snaps to its release position.

17. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 16 wherein one end of the cord is connected to the release lever and the opposite end of the cord is secured to a float inside the tank, the float having sufficient weight to pull the cord to move the release lever when the water level in the tank drops as a result of flushing of the toilet.

18. A toilet assembly comprising a bowl, a toilet seat, a hinge that is mounted on the bowl and that pivotally supports the toilet seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a tank mounted on the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, and a transparent cord extending from the tank, the cord being operatively connected to the member and actuating the member in response to flushing of the toilet.

19. A toilet assembly comprising a bowl, a toilet seat, a hinge that is mounted on the bowl and that pivotally supports the toilet seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a tank mounted on the bowl, the tank having a rear surface, a bottom surface and a corner between the rear and bottom surfaces, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, a cord extending from the tank, down the rear surface of the tank and beneath the bottom surface of the tank, the cord being operatively connected to the member and actuating the member in response to flushing of the toilet, and a guide member that guides the cord around the corner of the tank and protects the cord from rubbing against the tank.

20. The toilet assembly of claim 19 wherein the cord guide is made of a material that is deformable and retains its shape when deformed, and also that is low-friction so that the cord can slide easily through the guide.

21. A toilet assembly comprising a bowl having therein a bore for mounting of a toilet seat hinge, a hinge mounted on the bowl, the hinge having therein a bore that aligns with the bore in the bowl, a toilet seat pivotally supported by the hinge for movement between raised and lowered positions, a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, a latch bolt extending through the hinge bore and the bowl bore, the latch bolt including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a release lever mounted on the latch bolt, the release lever being operatively connected to the member and being movable between catch and release positions respectively corresponding to the raised and lowered positions of the seat, and the release lever having an end located substantially directly beneath the hinge when the release lever is in one of its positions, the release lever actuating the member in response to flushing of the toilet, and a nut threaded onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl.

22. The toilet assembly as set forth in claim 21 wherein the latch bolt including includes an externally threaded tube having an internal bore and an upper end through which the member extends, and further including a catch lever inside the tube bore, the catch lever extending out of the lower end of the bore, the catch lever having a shoulder, and the catch lever being operatively connected to the member such that upward movement of the catch lever causes upward movement of the member to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and a spring biasing the catch lever upwardly in the bore, the catch lever movable between an upper release position and a lower catch position, such that when the catch lever is in the catch position, the shoulder on the catch lever engages the lower end of the tube and prevents upward movement of the catch lever, and such that, when the catch lever is in the catch position, movement of the lower end of the catch lever in one direction disengages the shoulder to allow the spring to move the catch lever upward to the release position, and wherein the release lever having has a camming surface engaging the lower end of the catch lever such that movement of the catch lever to its catch position moves the release lever to its catch position, and movement of the release lever to its release position moves the lower end of the catch lever so that the shoulder disengages from the lower end of the tube and the catch lever snaps to its release position.

23. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 22 wherein the catch lever and the member are formed separately.

24. A toilet assembly as set forth in claim 22 wherein one end of the cord is connected to the release lever and the opposite end of the cord is secured to a float inside the tank, the float having sufficient weight to pull the cord to move the release lever when the water level in the tank drops as a result of flushing of the toilet.

25. A method of packaging a toilet seat assembly for sale, the toilet seat assembly being installable on a toilet having a bowl and a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank containing water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, the method comprising packaging a toilet seat, packaging with the toilet seat a hinge mountable on a toilet bowl for pivotally supporting the toilet seat on the bowl for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and packaging with the seat and the hinge a cord adapted to extend from the tank, the cord being operatively connectable to the member to actuate the member in response to flushing of the toilet, and the cord as packaged having thereon a guide member operable, when the seat assembly is installed on the toilet, to guide the cord relative to the tank and to protect the cord from rubbing against the tank.

26. A hinge assembly for use with a toilet assembly including a bowl having therein a bore, a toilet seat, a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, and a cord extending from the tank, the cord moving in response to flushing of the toilet, the hinge assembly comprising: a hinge post having therein a bore for alignment with the bore in the bowl, the hinge post being connectable to the toilet seat to pivotally support the seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge post including a rotary damping device, a latch bolt extendable through the hinge post bore and the bowl bore, the latch bolt including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a nut threadable onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl, and a release lever pivotally mountable on the latch bolt so that the release lever is operatively connected to the member and movable between catch and release positions respectively corresponding to the raised and lowered positions of the seat, and the release lever having an end connectable to the cord, the end being located substantially directly beneath the hinge post when the release lever is in its catch position, whereby the cord pulls on the release lever and moves the release lever from its catch position to its release position in response to flushing of the toilet.

27. A hinge as set forth in claim 26 and further comprising a cap that snaps onto the hinge post to cover the head of the bolt, the cap having therein an opening through which the member extends.

28. The hinge assembly as set forth in claim 26 wherein the latch bolt includes an externally threaded tube having an internal bore and an upper end through which the member extends, and further including a catch lever inside the tube bore, the catch lever extending out of the lower end of the bore, the catch lever having a shoulder, and the catch lever being operatively connected to the member such that upward movement of the catch lever causes upward movement of the member to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and a spring biasing the catch lever upwardly in the bore, the catch lever movable between an upper release position and a lower catch position, such that when the catch lever is in the catch position, the shoulder on the catch lever engages the lower end of the tube and prevents upward movement of the catch lever, and such that, when the catch lever is in the catch position, movement of the lower end of the catch lever in one direction disengages the shoulder to allow the spring to move the catch lever upward to the release position, and wherein the release lever having has a camming surface engaging the lower end of the catch lever such that movement of the catch lever to its catch position moves the release lever to its catch position, and movement of the release lever to its release position moves the lower end of the catch lever so that the shoulder disengages from the lower end of the tube and the catch lever snaps to its release position.

29. A toilet seat kit for use with a toilet including a bowl having therein a bore, and a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, the toilet seat kit comprising: a toilet seat, a hinge post having therein a bore for alignment with the bore in the bowl, the hinge post being connected to the toilet seat to pivotally support the seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge post including a rotary damping device, a latch bolt extendable through the hinge bore and the bowl bore, the latch bolt including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a release lever mountable on the latch bolt so that the release lever is operatively connected to the member and is movable between catch and release positions respectively corresponding to the lowered and raised positions of the seat, and the release lever having an end located substantially directly beneath the hinge post when the release lever is in its catch position, a nut threadable onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl, a float positionable inside the tank, and a cord having one end connectable to the end of the release lever and having an opposite end connectable to the float such that the float pulls the cord to move the release lever from its catch position to its release position when the water level in the tank drops as a result of flushing of the toilet.

30. The toilet set kit as set forth in claim 29 wherein the latch bolt including includes an externally threaded tube having an internal bore and an upper end through which the member extends, and further including a catch lever inside the tube bore, the catch lever extending out of the lower end of the bore, the catch lever having a shoulder, and the catch lever being operatively connected to the member such that upward movement of the catch lever causes upward movement of the member to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and a spring biasing the catch lever upwardly in the bore, the catch lever movable between an upper release position and a lower catch position, such that when the catch lever is in the catch position, the shoulder on the catch lever engages the lower end of the tube and prevents upward movement of the catch lever, and such that, when the catch lever is in the catch position, movement of the lower end of the catch lever in one direction disengages the shoulder to allow the spring to move the catch lever upward to the release position, and wherein the release lever has a camming surface engaging the lower end of the catch lever such that movement of the catch lever to its catch position moves the release lever to its catch position, and movement of the release lever to its release position moves the lower end of the catch lever so that the shoulder disengages from the lower end of the tube and the catch lever snaps to its release position.

31. A toilet seat kit as set forth in claim 30 wherein the float includes a container with a top portion, wherein the cord is connectable to the top portion of the float, and wherein the container portion of the float contains a relatively heavy material beneath a relatively light material, so that the heavy material keeps the float upright.

32. A toilet seat kit as set forth in claim 31 wherein the heavy material is sand.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Priority is hereby claimed to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/662,052, filed on Mar. 15, 2005, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to toilet seats, and more particularly to self-closing toilet seats.

BACKGROUND

Self-closing toilet seats are known in the art. U.S. Pat. No. 6,438,764 and International Patent Publication WO 03/011096, both to Robert Anderson, disclose self-closing toilet seats.

SUMMARY

One embodiment of the invention includes a self-closing toilet seat actuated by a float in the toilet tank.

In another embodiment, the seat is actuated by a cord extending from the tank to a point substantially directly beneath one of the hinges.

In another embodiment, the seat is actuated by a transparent cord extending from the tank.

In another embodiment, the seat is actuated by a tape-like cord extending from the tank.

In another embodiment, the seat is actuated by a cord extending from the tank, and the cord is guided relative to the tank by a guide member.

In another embodiment, the seat is closed by a plunger or rod that extends upwardly from the top of the bolt securing one of the hinges to the bowl.

In another embodiment, the seat is closed by a plunger or rod that extends upwardly through a small opening in the top of one of the hinges.

In another embodiment, the seat is actuated by a lever that is mounted on the lower end of the bolt securing one of the hinges to the bowl.

In another embodiment, the seat is actuated by a mechanism inside the bolt securing one of the hinges to the bowl.

The invention provides a toilet assembly comprising a bowl, a toilet seat, a hinge that is mounted on the bowl and that pivotally supports the toilet seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a tank mounted on the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, and a cord extending from the tank to a point substantially directly beneath the hinge, the cord being operatively connected to the member and actuating the member in response to flushing of the toilet.

The invention also provides a toilet assembly comprising a bowl, a toilet seat, a hinge that is mounted on the bowl and that pivotally supports the toilet seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a tank mounted on the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, and a transparent cord extending from the tank, the cord being operatively connected to the member and actuating the member in response to flushing of the toilet.

The invention also provides a toilet assembly comprising a bowl, a toilet seat, a hinge that is mounted on the bowl and that pivotally supports the toilet seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a tank mounted on the bowl, the tank having a rear surface, a bottom surface and a corner between the rear and bottom surfaces, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, a cord extending from the tank, down the rear surface of the tank and beneath the bottom surface of the tank, the cord being operatively connected to the member and actuating the member in response to flushing of the toilet, and a guide member that guides the cord around the corner of the tank and protects the cord from rubbing against the tank.

The invention also provides a toilet assembly comprising a bowl having therein a bore for mounting of a toilet seat hinge, a hinge mounted on the bowl, the hinge having therein a bore that aligns with the bore in the bowl, a toilet seat pivotally supported by the hinge for movement between raised and lowered positions, a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, a latch bolt extending through the hinge bore and the bowl bore, the latch bolt including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a release lever mounted on the latch bolt, the release lever being operatively connected to the member and being movable between catch and release positions respectively corresponding to the raised and lowered positions of the seat, and the release lever having an end located substantially directly beneath the hinge when the release lever is in one of its positions, the release lever actuating the member in response to flushing of the toilet, and a nut threaded onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl.

The invention also provides a toilet assembly comprising a bowl having therein a bore for mounting of a toilet seat hinge, a hinge mounted on the bowl, the hinge having therein a bore that aligns with the bore in the bowl, a toilet seat pivotally supported by the hinge for movement between raised and lowered positions, a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, a latch bolt extending through the hinge bore and the bowl bore, the latch bolt including a member engageable with the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and the latch bolt including an externally threaded tube having an internal bore and an upper end through which the member extends, and further including a catch lever inside the tube bore, the catch lever extending out of the lower end of the bore, the catch lever having a shoulder, and the catch lever being operatively connected to the member such that upward movement of the catch lever causes upward movement of the member to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and a spring biasing the catch lever upwardly in the bore, the catch lever movable between an upper release position and a lower catch position, such that when the catch lever is in the catch position, the shoulder on the catch lever engages the lower end of the tube and prevents upward movement of the catch lever, and such that, when the catch lever is in the catch position, movement of the lower end of the catch lever in one direction disengages the shoulder to allow the spring to move the catch lever upward to the release position, a release lever mounted on the latch bolt for movement between a catch position and a release position that correspond to the like-named positions of the catch lever, the release lever moving from its catch position to its release position in response to flushing of the toilet, the release lever having a camming surface engaging the lower end of the catch lever such that movement of the catch lever to its catch position moves the release lever to its catch position, and movement of the release lever to its release position moves the lower end of the catch lever so that the shoulder disengages from the lower end of the tube and the catch lever snaps to its release position, and a nut threaded onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl.

The invention also provides a method of packaging a toilet seat assembly for sale, the toilet seat assembly being installable on a toilet having a bowl and a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank containing water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, the method comprising packaging a toilet seat, packaging with the toilet seat a hinge mountable on a toilet bowl for pivotally supporting the toilet seat on the bowl for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and packaging with the seat and the hinge a cord adapted to extend from the tank, the cord being operatively connectable to the member to actuate the member in response to flushing of the toilet, and the cord as packaged having thereon a guide member operable, when the seat assembly is installed on the toilet, to guide the cord relative to the tank and to protect the cord from rubbing against the tank.

The invention also provides a hinge assembly for use with a toilet assembly including a bowl having therein a bore, a toilet seat, a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, and a cord extending from the tank, the cord moving in response to flushing of the toilet, the hinge assembly comprising a hinge post having therein a bore for alignment with the bore in the bowl, the hinge post being connectable to the toilet seat to pivotally support the seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge post including a rotary damping device, a latch bolt extendable through the hinge post bore and the bowl bore, the latch bolt including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a nut threadable onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl, and a release lever pivotally mountable on the latch bolt so that the release lever is operatively connected to the member and movable between catch and release positions respectively corresponding to the raised and lowered positions of the seat, and the release lever having an end connectable to the cord, the end being located substantially directly beneath the hinge post when the release lever is in its catch position, whereby the cord pulls on the release lever and moves the release lever from its catch position to its release position in response to flushing of the toilet.

The invention also provides a hinge assembly for use with a toilet assembly including a bowl having therein a bore, a toilet seat, a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, the hinge assembly comprising a hinge post having therein a bore for alignment with the bore in the bowl, the hinge post being connectable to the toilet seat to pivotally support the seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge post including a rotary damping device, a latch bolt extendable through the hinge post bore and the bowl bore, the latch bolt including a member engageable with the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and the latch bolt including an externally threaded tube having an internal bore and an upper end through which the member extends, and further including a catch lever inside the tube bore, the catch lever extending out of the lower end of the bore, the catch lever having a shoulder, and the catch lever being operatively connected to the member such that upward movement of the catch lever causes upward movement of the member to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and a spring biasing the catch lever upwardly in the bore, the catch lever movable between an upper release position and a lower catch position, such that when the catch lever is in the catch position, the shoulder on the catch lever engages the lower end of the tube and prevents upward movement of the catch lever, and such that, when the catch lever is in the catch position, movement of the lower end of the catch lever in one direction disengages the shoulder to allow the spring to move the catch lever upward to the release position, a nut threadable onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl, and a release lever mountable on the latch bolt for movement between a catch position and a release position that correspond to the like-named positions of the catch lever, the release lever moving from its catch position to its release position in response to flushing of the toilet, the release lever having a camming surface engaging the lower end of the catch lever such that movement of the catch lever to its catch position moves the release lever to its catch position, and movement of the release lever to its release position moves the lower end of the catch lever so that the shoulder disengages from the lower end of the tube and the catch lever snaps to its release position.

The invention also provides a toilet seat kit for use with a toilet including a bowl having therein a bore, and a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, the toilet seat kit comprising a toilet seat, a hinge post having therein a bore for alignment with the bore in the bowl, the hinge post being connected to the toilet seat to pivotally support the seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge post including a rotary damping device, a latch bolt extendable through the hinge bore and the bowl bore, the latch bolt including a member actuatable to engage the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, a release lever mountable on the latch bolt so that the release lever is operatively connected to the member and is movable between catch and release positions respectively corresponding to the lowered and raised positions of the seat, and the release lever having an end located substantially directly beneath the hinge post when the release lever is in its catch position, a nut threadable onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl, a float positionable inside the tank, and a cord having one end connectable to the end of the release lever and having an opposite end connectable to the float such that the float pulls the cord to move the release lever from its catch position to its release position when the water level in the tank drops as a result of flushing of the toilet.

The invention also provides a toilet seat kit for use with a toilet including a bowl having therein a bore, and a tank mounted on the rear of the bowl, the tank adapted to contain water for flushing the toilet and having flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl, the toilet seat kit comprising a toilet seat, a hinge post having therein a bore for alignment with the bore in the bowl, the hinge post being connected to the toilet seat to pivotally support the seat for movement between raised and lowered positions, the hinge post including a rotary damping device, a latch bolt extendable through the hinge bore and the bowl bore, the latch bolt including a member engageable with the toilet seat to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and the latch bolt including an externally threaded tube having an internal bore and an upper end through which the member extends, and further including a catch lever inside the tube bore, the catch lever extending out of the lower end of the bore, the catch lever having a shoulder, and the catch lever being operatively connected to the member such that upward movement of the catch lever causes upward movement of the member to move the toilet seat from its raised position toward its lowered position, and a spring biasing the catch lever upwardly in the bore, the catch lever movable between an upper release position and a lower catch position, such that when the catch lever is in the catch position, the shoulder on the catch lever engages the lower end of the tube and prevents upward movement of the catch lever, and such that, when the catch lever is in the catch position, movement of the lower end of the catch lever in one direction disengages the shoulder to allow the spring to move the catch lever upward to the release position, a release lever mountable on the latch bolt for movement between a catch position and a release position that correspond to the like-named positions of the catch lever, the release lever moving from its catch position to its release position in response to flushing of the toilet, the release lever having a camming surface engaging the lower end of the catch lever such that movement of the catch lever to its catch position moves the release lever to its catch position, and movement of the release lever to its release position moves the lower end of the catch lever so that the shoulder disengages from the lower end of the tube and the catch lever snaps to its release position, a nut threadable onto the latch bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl, a float positionable inside the tank, and a cord having one end connectable to the end of the release lever and having an opposite end connectable to the float such that the float pulls the cord to move the release lever from its catch position to its release position when the water level in the tank drops as a result of flushing of the toilet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toilet assembly embodying the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective sectional view of the latch bolt with the catch lever in its release position.

FIG. 3 is a perspective sectional view of the latch bolt with the catch lever in its catch position.

FIG. 4 is a top view of the latch bolt.

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the latch bolt, taken along line A-A in FIG. 4, with the catch lever in its release position.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the nut that secures the latch bolt to the bowl.

FIG. 7 is a side view of the bushing sleeve, ring and release lever with the lever in its catch position.

FIG. 8 is a top view of the bushing sleeve, ring and release lever with the lever in its catch position.

FIG. 9 is a side view of the float.

FIG. 10 is a top view of the float.

FIG. 11 is a sectional view of the float taken along line 11-11 in FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a side view of the cord and cord guides.

FIG. 13 is a top view of the cord and cord guides as seen in FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the hinge caps.

FIG. 15 is a sectional view of the bushing sleeve, ring and release lever taken along line 15-15 in FIG. 7.

FIG. 16 is a view similar to FIG. 1 of an alternative embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the cord guide of the embodiment shown in FIG. 16.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including,” “comprising,” or “having” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items. Unless specified or limited otherwise, the terms “mounted,” “connected,” “supported,” and “coupled” and variations thereof are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect mountings, connections, supports, and couplings. Further, “connected” and “coupled” are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings.

FIG. 1 shows a toilet assembly 10 including a toilet 12 having a self-closing toilet seat assembly 13 embodying the invention. The toilet includes a bowl 14 having an upper surface and flanges on opposite sides of the bowl. Each flange has therein a bore for mounting of a toilet seat hinge, as is known in the art. A pair of hinges 16 and 18, which are substantially identical except as described below, are mounted on the bowl 14 and pivotally support a toilet seat ring 20 and a toilet seat cover 22. A tank 24 is mounted on the rear of the bowl. The tank 24 contains water for flushing the toilet and has therein known flushing apparatus for causing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl.

The hinges 16 and 18 are of the type having a rotary damping device that prevents the ring 20 and cover 22 from slamming closed under the force of gravity. An example of such a hinge is disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 2003/0234145 A1, which is incorporated herein by reference. Each hinge 16 and 18 has therein a bore that aligns with a respective bore in the bowl, and a bolt extends through the hinge bore and the bowl bore. A nut 26 threads onto the lower end of the bolt to secure the hinge to the bowl. The hinges 16 and 18 have (see FIG. 14) respective caps 27 and 28 that snap onto their respective hinge posts to cover the heads of the respective bolt. The hinge 16 is secured by a conventional bolt 30, and the hinge 18 is secured by a latch bolt 32 in accordance with the invention. The cap 28 of the hinge 18 has therein a small opening 34, the reason for which is explained below.

The latch bolt 32 includes (see FIGS. 2, 3 and 5) an externally threaded tube 40 having an internal bore 42 with a shoulder 44. The tube is preferably made of stainless steel. A top nut 46 threaded onto the upper end of the tube 40 forms the head of the latch bolt 32. The top nut 46 has therethrough a non-circular opening 48, the reason for which is explained below. The nut 46 has a non-circular shape and seats in a complementary socket in the hinge 18 such that rotation of the latch bolt 32 relative to the hinge 18 is prevented, so that the latch bolt 32 is oriented in a certain position relative to the hinge and to the toilet. In the illustrated construction, the nut 46 has a flat side 49. The nut is preferably made of brass.

Inside the tube bore 42 is a catch lever 50 extending out of the lower end of the bore. The catch lever is preferably made of stainless steel. The catch lever 50 has a shoulder 52. A catch lever guide 54 is fixed on the upper end of the catch lever 50. The catch lever guide 54 has a projection 56 that points to the left as seen in FIG. 3. The catch lever guide is preferably made of acetal and is injection molded onto the upper end of the catch lever. A spring 58 extends between the bore shoulder 44 and the catch lever guide 54 and biases the catch lever 50 upwardly in the bore. The catch 50 lever is movable between an upper or release position (FIG. 2) and a lower or catch position (FIG. 3). When the catch lever 50 is in the catch position, the shoulder 52 on the catch lever engages the lower end of the tube 40 and prevents upward movement of the catch lever 50. If the lower end of the catch lever 50 is moved to the left (as seen in FIG. 3) when the catch lever is in the catch position, the shoulder 52 disengages and the spring 58 moves the catch lever 50 upward to the release position. The mechanism for moving the lower end of the catch lever is described below.

As is apparent from comparing FIGS. 2 and 3, the catch lever 50 and the catch lever guide 54 are not limited to movement along the longitudinal axis of the tube 40. The lever and guide are also permitted a limited range of angular or cocking movement within the bore 42. Also, the lever and guide are permitted a limited range of pivotal movement about the longitudinal axis of the bore. These movements are further explained below.

Also inside the bore 42 is a plunger 60 movable between an upper position (FIG. 2) and a lower position (FIG. 3). The plunger is preferably made of acetal. The plunger 60 has a non-circular portion or rod 62 that extends through the opening 48 in the top nut 46. The shape of the opening 48 and the cross-sectional shape of the rod 62 are complementary such that the rod 62 is prevented from rotating within the opening 48. This maintains the angular orientation of the plunger 60 relative to the tube 40. When the plunger 60 is in its upper position, movement of the toilet seat cover 22 to its raised position causes the rear of the cover 22 to engage the rod 62 and move the plunger 60 to its lower position. Conversely, when the seat is in its raised position, movement of the plunger 60 to its upper position causes the rod 62 to engage the rear of the cover 22 and cause the cover 22 and the ring 20 (if the ring was up) to move downward.

The plunger 60 also has an enlarged lower portion 64 within the tube 40. A shoulder 66 between the upper and lower portions engages the underside of the top nut 46 and limits upward movement of the plunger 60 relative to the tube 40. The lower portion 64 has a shelf-like projection 68 that extends to the right as seen in FIG. 2. The projection 68 overlaps with the projection 56 on the catch lever guide 54. The interengagement of the projections 56, 68 and engagement of the projection 68 by the guide 54 and engagement of the projection 56 by the plunger lower portion 64 allows a limited amount of pivotal or twisting movement of the catch lever 50 and catch lever guide 54 relative to the plunger 60, and also allow a limited amount of cocking movement of the catch lever and catch lever guide relative to the plunger.

The construction of the guide 54 and the plunger 60 is such that the upward force of the spring 58 on the guide 54 biases the guide in the counterclockwise direction as see in FIG. 2 relative to the plunger. Counterclockwise movement of the guide 54 relative to the plunger is limited by engagement of the catch lever 50 by the inner wall of the tube 40 when the lever 50 is in the release position (FIG. 2). When the plunger 60 pushes the guide 54 downward toward the catch position, the lever 50 moves quickly in the counterclockwise direction when the shoulder 52 on the lever clears the lower end of the tube 40. In other words, the lever 50 snaps into the catch position. Once in the catch position, the lever can only be returned to the release position by moving the lever 50 clockwise, which can be done by moving the lower end of the lever 50 to the left as seen in FIG. 3. Such movement is selectively caused by a release mechanism 70, which is described below.

The latch bolt 32 is secured to the toilet bowl by a nut 26 threaded onto the lower end of the latch bolt or onto the tube 40. This also secures the hinge 18 to the bowl.

The release mechanism 70 includes (see FIGS. 2, 3, 7, 8 and 15) a bushing sleeve 72 that slides onto the lower end of the latch bolt 32. A slot 71 in the lower end of the sleeve receives the lower end of the catch lever 50 and thereby properly angularly orients the sleeve 70 relative to the bolt 32. The sleeve 72 has diametrically opposed, axially extending, parallel projections 74 (one shown in FIG. 7, both shown in FIG. 15) having thereon respective inwardly extending ridges or ribs 76 that engage the threads of the bolt 32. The projections 74 are resilient and flexible. A bushing or lock ring 78 surrounds the sleeve 72 and is movable relative to the sleeve between upper and lower positions. In its upper position (not shown), in which the ring 78 is at the top of the sleeve 72, the ring 78 is clear of the projections 74 and allows outward movement of the projections. In its lower position (FIG. 7), the ring 78 surrounds the projections 74 and prevents outward movement of the projections. The ribs 76 and the projections 74 are configured such that, when the ring 78 is in its upper position, the ribs and projections permit the sleeve 72 to be slid onto the bolt 32 over the threads of the tube 40. A shoulder 79 inside the sleeve 72 engages the lower end of the bolt 78 to limit movement of the sleeve onto the bolt. Once the sleeve is in position on the tube, the ring 78 is moved downward on the sleeve to the lower position of the ring. In this position, the ring 78 prevents movement of the projections 74 and ribs 76 and thereby prevents the sleeve from sliding off the tube.

A release lever 80 (see FIGS. 2, 3, 7 and 8) is mounted on the lower end of the sleeve 72 for pivotal movement about a generally horizontal axis that extends generally perpendicular to the front-to-back axis of the bowl. The sleeve, ring and lever are preferably made of acetal. The lever 80 is movable between a catch position (FIG. 3) and a release position (FIG. 2) that correspond to the like-named positions of the catch lever 50. The release lever 80 has a camming surface 82 engaging the lower end of the catch lever 50 such that movement of the catch lever 50 to its catch position moves the release lever 80 to its catch position, and pivotal movement of the release lever 80 to its release position moves the lower end of the catch lever 50 to the left as seen in FIG. 3 so that the shoulder 52 disengages from the lower end of the tube 40 and the catch lever 50 snaps to its release position. The release lever 80 is moved from its catch position to its release position by a cord 90 (see FIGS. 1, 12 and 13) secured to the end of the release lever 80. Specifically, the cord 90 has a looped end 91 (FIG. 12) that fits into a slot 92 (FIGS. 2 and 7) in the lever 80. The point of connection is substantially directly beneath the hinge 18 when the release lever 80 is in its catch position.

The cord 90 (see FIGS. 1, 12 and 13) has a tape-like configuration (i.e., is generally flat) and is preferably approximately 0.10 inches wide and is made of transparent polyester. The cord is thus substantially invisible to the eye. The end of the cord 90 opposite the loop 91 is secured to a float 100 inside the tank. The float 100 (see FIGS. 9-11) is preferably a plastic container filled with sand to give the float sufficient weight to pull the cord 90 to move the release lever 80 when the water level in the tank drops as a result of flushing of the toilet. More particularly, the float 100 is partially filled with sand 208, and the space above the sand 208 is filled with a foam disk or spacer 204 that is pressed against the upper surface of the sand 208. Because the sand is kept in the bottom of the float 100, the weight of the sand keeps the float 100 upright. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the float 100 weighs approximately one-half pound.

Any suitable device can be used to secure the cord 90 to the float. The preferred mechanism is illustrated in FIG. 11. A spring-loaded button 102 extends from a post 103 on the top of the float 100. The button 102 is pushed down to allow the cord 90 to be passed through an opening 104, after which the button 102 is released so that the button pops up and the cord 90 is captured in the opening 104.

The cord 90 is guided (see FIGS. 1, 12 and 13) relative to the tank by cord guides 110 and 120. The guides are made of a material that is deformable and retains its shape when deformed, and also that is low-friction so that the cord 90 can slide easily through the guides. The guides 110 and 120 are preferably made of polyethylene. The guide 110 is bent over the rear top edge of the tank to guide the cord 90 over the top of the tank and to protect the cord from the tank cover. The guide 120 is bent around the rear lower corner of the tank and is held in place on the tank by two-sided tape. The cord 90 is preferably provided to the end user with the guides 110 and 120 already in place on the cord.

Raising the toilet seat moves the plunger 60 to its lower position, which moves the catch lever 50 to its catch position, thereby allowing the plunger 60 to remain in its lower position and the seat in its raised position. Movement of the catch lever 50 to its catch position also moves the release lever 80 to its catch position. When the toilet is flushed, the water level in the tank drops, causing downward movement of the float 100. This causes the float 100 to pull on the cord 90, which moves the release lever 80 to its release position, and this moves the catch lever 50 from its catch position, allowing the spring 58 to move the catch lever 50 upward to its release position. Upward movement of the catch lever 50 moves the plunger 60 to its upper position, and this causes the rod 62 to engage the rear of the seat to move the seat out of its raised position toward its lowered position. As the seat begins to move downward or to close, the damping devices in the hinges 16 and 18 cause the seat to close gently.

The toilet seat assembly 13 can be installed on original equipment manufacturer toilets, or can be sold separately for installation on existing toilets. When sold separately, the seat assembly 13 is preferably packaged with the hinges 16 and 18 already operably connected to the ring 20 and to the cover 22, and with the cord 90 already threaded through the cord guides 110 and 120. The release mechanism 70 is preferably also preassembled with the release lever 80 in place on the bushing sleeve 72. This simplifies the installation process.

Installation of the seat assembly 13 is described below.

With the toilet seat and cover properly located on top of the bowl 14, the hinge bores are aligned with the bowl bores. The conventional bolt 30 is inserted through the hole in the hinge 16, and the latch bolt 32 is inserted in the hole in the hinge 18. The hinge 18 should be on the side of the toilet on which the float will be placed. The flat side 49 of the top nut 46 is aligned so the top nut fits snugly in the socket of the hinge 18. Then, while holding the top nut in place, the user tightens the nut 26 by hand. The nut 26 on the conventional bolt 30 is also tightened, but not fully. After the toilet seat is aligned with the toilet bowl for proper appearance, both nuts 26 are tightened.

Next, the user slides the lock ring 78 to the “top” of the sleeve 72. With the release lever 80 pointed to the back of the toilet, the user slides the sleeve 72 onto the bottom of the latch bolt 32. Holding the lock ring 78 up in the “unlocked” position, the user slides the sleeve 72 as high as possible onto the latch bolt. The user then slides the lock ring 78 down until it stops and locks the sleeve onto the latch bolt 32.

With the toilet seat and cover in the down position, and the release lever 80 in the “unlatched” or release position, the user depresses the lock button 102 on the float 100 and inserts about two inches of the loose end (the non-looped end) of the cord 90 into the opening 104. The user then releases the button 102 and places the float in the tank. The user then bends the top cord guide 110 (the one closest to the float) into a “U” shape so that the correct side of the guide (the lower side in FIG. 12) is facing the rim of the tank. The user then threads the cord 90 behind the toilet tank, making sure that the cord does not twist.

The user then adheres the two-sided tape to the correct side (the upper side in FIG. 12) of the bottom cord guide 120 (the guide closest to the looped end of the cord), and then bends the bottom cord guide 120 into an “L” shape. After wiping the bottom of the tank clean and dry, the user removes the backing paper on the tape and adheres the bottom cord guide 120 to the bottom corner of the tank directly below the top cord guide 110. The cord loop is then attached to the release lever 80 by slipping the cord loop through the slot in the release lever. The seat assembly 13 is now ready for operation.

A toilet assembly 196 that is an alternative embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 16 and 17. Except as described below, the toilet assembly 196 is identical to the toilet assembly 10.

The cord 90 of the toilet assembly 196 is white rather than transparent. Preferably, the cord is translucent or opaque. Coloring the cord makes it easier for the installer to see during assembly. Preferably, the cord 90 is approximately 0.0055 inch thick and 0.10 inch wide Melinex 329 polyester film.

In the toilet assembly 196, the upper cord guide 110 has been replaced by a cord guide 212. The cord guide 212 includes a body portion 216 made of polyethylene. A strip of low-friction tape 220 is adhered to the body portion 216. The tape 220 is preferably three mil Teflon-coated fiberglass with acrylic adhesive. The cord 90 is preferably packaged with the cord guide 110 in place on the cord 90. During installation of the seat assembly 13, the cord guide 212 is bent into a U-shape with the cord side facing upward, so the cord 90 slides on top of the tape 220, and the guide 212 is then placed over the top rear edge of the tank 24.

Also, in the toilet assembly 196, the lower cord guide 120 is replaced by a cord guide 200 that is simply a two-inch wide and three-inch long piece of three mil Teflon-coated fiberglass with acrylic adhesive. During installation of the seat assembly 13, the bottom rear corner of the tank 24 is cleaned, the protective cover or backing is peeled away from the cord guide 200, and the cord guide 200 is adhered to the bottom rear corner of the tank 24.