Title:
Cooler support shelf
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The cooler support shelf is a rectangular platform having each of two corner sections of one side of the platform perpendicularly connected to separate vertical rails. The tops of the two rails are curved into hooks in the direction away from the platform. Diagonal support struts are connected from opposed sides of the platform to the lower part of each vertical rail. A horizontal support bar may extend between the connections of the diagonal support struts and the vertical rails. A hook and loop restraining strap is connected near the top of each vertical rail. The two straps can connect around the cooler to keep it in place on the platform.



Inventors:
Gray, David R. (Eufaula, OK, US)
Application Number:
12/153977
Publication Date:
09/25/2008
Filing Date:
05/28/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/134
International Classes:
A47F5/10; A47F7/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAN, KO HUNG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard C. Litman (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A shelf, comprising: a generally horizontal platform member; two vertical support rails directly attached to the platform member, the vertical support rails having top portions curved into hooks and bottom portions having slots defined therein; two diagonal support rails connecting the bottom portions of the vertical support rails to an outer side portion of the platform member; and a horizontal stabilizer bar extending between the slots in the bottom portions of the vertical support rails.

2. The shelf of claim 1, further comprising two hook and loop fastener straps, each of the straps being connected to a corresponding one of said vertical support rails, respectively, the straps helping to retain an object supported on said platform member.

3. The shelf of claim 1, wherein each vertical support_rail further includes a platform corner support for supporting said platform member.

4. The shelf of claim 3, further comprising two fasteners, each of the fasteners extending through aligned apertures defined in said vertical support rails and in said platform member to thereby attach said platform member to said vertical support_rails.

5. The shelf of claim 4, wherein each said fastener comprises a bolt and a wing nut.

6. The shelf of claim 5, wherein each said fastener further comprises a washer.

7. The shelf of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of slats extending across said platform member.

8. The shelf of claim 1, wherein the horizontal stabilizer bar includes threaded portions, the threaded portions extending through an aperture in the diagonal support rails and through the slots in the bottom portions of the vertical support rails, the shelf further comprising two fasteners, each of the fasteners being threaded onto the threaded portions to retain the horizontal stabilizer bar in the slots.

9. The shelf of claim 8, wherein each said fastener comprises a wing nut.

10. The shelf according to claim 1, wherein said platform member comprises four flat horizontal members forming an open rectangular frame, each of the horizontal members having a vertical flange extending orthogonal thereto around the periphery of the rectangular frame in order to prevent a base of a cooler from shifting laterally on said platform member.

11. The shelf according to claim 11, further comprising a plurality of slats extending across said rectangular frame.

12. The shelf according to claim 11, further comprising a pair of straps attached to said vertical support rails, the straps having mating hook and loop fasteners, the straps being adapted for wrapping around a cooler placed on said platform member in order to secure the cooler on said s platform member.

13. The shelf according to claim 11, wherein said platform member, said vertical support rails, and said diagonal support rails are made from aluminum.

14. A folding support shelf, comprising: a generally rectangular open frame forming a horizontal platform member having an aperture in each corner of one side of the platform; two vertical support rails, each of the rails having a platform corner support, the vertical support rails each having an upper portion formed into a hook and a bottom portion having a slot defined therein; fasteners connecting the vertical support_rails to the platform member; two diagonal support rails connecting the vertical support rails to an outer side portion of the platform member; and a horizontal stabilizer bar extending between the slots in the bottom portions of the vertical support rails.

15. The support shelf of claim 14, further comprising two hook and loop fastener straps, the straps being connected to the vertical support_rails, respectively, for retaining an object supported on said platform member.

16. The support shelf of claim 14, further comprising a plurality of fasteners attaching said platform member to the vertical support rails.

17. The support shelf of claim 16, wherein each said fastener comprises a bolt and a wing nut so that removal of both of said wing nuts from both of said bolts allows the support shelf to be folded.

18. The support shelf of claim 17, wherein each said fastener further comprises a washer.

19. The support shelf of claim 14, further comprising a plurality of slats extending across said platform member.

20. The support shelf of claim 14, wherein the horizontal stabilizer bar includes threaded portions, the threaded portions extending through an aperture in the diagonal support rails and through the slots in the bottom portions of the vertical support rails, the shelf further comprising two fasteners, each of the fasteners being threaded onto the threaded portions to retain the horizontal stabilizer bar in the slots.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 11/545,555, filed Oct. 11, 2006, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/731,877, filed Nov. 1, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to portable and foldable shelves to support large objects, such as beverage coolers, luggage, bait boxes and the like. The invention particularly relates to transportable and foldable shelves that can be removably suspended on the exterior or interior side of the gunwales or transom of a boat, the back of a chair, automobile, house doors, etc.

2. Description of the Related Art

There are a host of occupations and activities where large, bulky, moderately heavy containers are used in the vicinity of an individual, such as a worker or one who is engaging in recreational activities, in order to store tools, repair kits, game equipment, fishing gear, food, beverages, ice, and the like. The containers, whatever they may contain, are useful but inconvenient to the user, for they are inevitably put in some out-of-the-way place on the ground near the activity, but out of the individual's traffic pattern. If the container is a heavy toolbox, the mechanic is inevitably visiting the container many times during the course of a repair job to retrieve the right tool for the job. The worker will be repeatedly bending over many times a day to search through the collection of tools in the ground-situated toolbox and suffer a sore back as a consequence.

In the sport of recreational boating, the ordinary cooler is a required companion. In the cooler are kept the food, beverages and delicacies (plus ice) that comprise a large part of the purpose of the adventure. The bigger the cooler, the better the adventure. However, the price in space on the boat deck is considerable. As always, the cooler must be relegated to an unobtrusive part of the boat deck, but a part that is still conveniently accessible to crew and guests. That requirement is hard to fulfill, given all the paraphernalia that winds up competing for space on an active boat deck.

In that other segment of recreational boating, sport fishing, no true sport fisherman has ever come across a tackle box that could be called too big. The cockpit deck of the fishing boat may be cluttered with large bait or tackle boxes containing, very nearby, the magical lures, leaders and weights for a successful day of fishing. At the same time, however, the essential bulky cooler must be near at hand with its own convenient space and refreshments.

Clearly, there is a need to make access to large, bulky containers, such as beverage coolers used in boating and other activities, more convenient to the user. That task should be resolved without compromising either the availability of space or the accessibility of available space. The present invention turns to unique shelving configurations to overcome the problem, and provides a foldable sturdy shelf that can be easily stored when not in use.

Thus a cooler support shelf solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The cooler support shelf comprises a rectangular platform having each of two corners of one side of the platform perpendicularly connected to separate vertical rails. The tops of the two vertical rails are curved into a broad hook in the direction away from the platform. Diagonal support struts are connected from opposing sides of the platform to the lower part of each vertical rail. A horizontal stabilizer bar may be connected between the diagonal support struts where they are connected to the lower part of each vertical rail. Support struts are also connected between the side of the platform connected to a vertical rail and the opposing side. A hook and loop restraining strap is connected near the top of each vertical rail. The two straps can connect around the cooler to keep it in place on the platform.

In another embodiment, the cooler support shelf is folded toward the vertical rails so that the cooler support shelf can be conveniently stored and carried.

These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of a cooler support shelf according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an environmental perspective view of the cooler support shelf installed over the gunwales of a boat.

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the cooler support shelf of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a partial, perspective view of a corner of a cooler support shelf according to the present invention, showing a wing nut and bolt for securing the shelf in an operative, cooler-supporting position.

FIG. 5 is a partial, perspective view of an optional support for a corner of a cooler support shelf according to the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a partial elevational view of a cooler support shelf according to the present invention, showing a bolt, washer and wing nut securing the shelf at one end in an operative, cooler-supporting position.

FIG. 7 is a partial, perspective view of a cooler support shelf according to the present invention, showing a horizontal stabilizer bar and a lower part of a vertical rail.

FIG. 8 is a partial, perspective view of a cooler support shelf according to the present invention, showing the connection between a horizontal stabilizer bar, a diagonal support strut and a lower part of a vertical rail.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 1, a cooler 10 is supported on a generally horizontal platform member 12 that is connected to main rail members 16 and 18. The top portions of the two main rails 16 and 18 are curved into hooks 20, 30 (see FIG. 2), for hanging over the gunwales 22 of a boat 14. The main rails 16 and 18 rest primarily against the freeboard 24 of the boat. Diagonal support member rails 26 and 28 connect to a bottom portion of the main rails 16 and 18, and to an outer side portion of the platform member 12. A horizontal stabilizer bar 15 may extend between the intersection of rails 26 and 18 and the intersection of rails 28 and 16.

Since the cooler 10 of FIG. 1 is placed outside the boat hull, resting on the platform member 12 or shelf depicted in FIG. 1, with the lid of the cooler 10 approximately level with the gunwale around the cockpit, it is very convenient for passengers or crew to access the beverages and food in the cooler 10. The position of the cooler 10 on the supporting platform member 12 frees up several square feet of the limited deck space in the boat's cockpit, lessening any crowding that may occur and avoiding the necessity of bending over to access the contents of the cooler 10.

Referring to FIG. 2, an open view of a cooler support shelf of the invention is presented situated as in FIG. 1. The platform member 12 or shelf is connected directly to the main rails 16 and 18 at the intersections 32 and 34. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, platform member 12 is formed from a substantially rectangular open frame having flat horizontal members and a vertical flange or lip orthogonal to the horizontal members around the periphery of the rectangular frame in order to retain the cooler 10 on the platform member 12 without lateral shifting. A plurality of slats 44, 45, and 46 extend across the rectangular frame to further support the floor of the cooler 10. The frame forming platform member 12 is indirectly connected to the main rails through diagonal support member rails 26 and 28 at the intersections 36, 38, 40, and one (unnumbered) not seen in FIG. 2, respectively, where the unnumbered intersection is not directly visible. When provided, the horizontal stabilizer bar 15 extends between intersections 38 and 40, as described above. The connecting fasteners at these intersections may be alike or different. The connectors may be welding, nuts and threaded bolts, rivets, rotatable studs or other structure commonly known in the art for connecting two metal members.

Aluminum is the preferred material of construction for the cooler support shelf of the invention, since it is lightweight and corrosion resistant. However, steel may be employed, as well as engineering plastics, such as high density polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, Lexan® (polybisphenol-A carbonate, a registered trademark of General Electric Corporation of Pittsfield, Massachusetts), polyesters (polyethylene terephthalate), Delrin® (polyoxymethylene, a registered trademark of E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company of Wilmington, Del.), polyamides, and like polymers.

Referring to FIG. 3, a frontal view of the cooler support shelf of the invention is shown illustrating the platform member 12, vertical shelf support rails 16 and 18, and additional support slats or strips 44, 45 and 46 connected to parallel members of the frame of the shelf. The FIG. 3 also shows hook and loop fastener (also known as Velcro® [Velcro is a registered trademark of Velcro Industries B.V. Limited Liability Company of the Netherlands]) straps 42 for holding the cooler 10 on the platform member 12, by wrapping the straps 42 around the cooler 10 and connecting the straps 42 to the main rails 16 and 18. In FIG. 1 it is shown how the straps 42 extend through the handle 11 of the cooler 10 and overlap one another to allow the hook and loop fasteners to engage and hold the ends of the straps together. FIG. 3 also illustrates vertical apertures 52 and 54, respectively, in the frame or platform member 12 to engage with fasteners, e.g., bolts, washers and wing nuts (explained in further detail below), for connecting the main rail to the frame. Preferably, other connections 51 and 53 of the support rail and platform frame are bolts or studs that can roll or rotate within the aperture.

When the bolt and wing nut fasteners are so engaged, the platform member 12 is extended and essentially perpendicular to the side of the boat or whatever is supporting the main rails 16 and 18. When the bolts and wing nuts are removed, the unrestrained edge of the platform member 12 can be lowered to fold the platform member 12 for transportation or storage of the cooler support shelf.

Referring to FIGS. 4, 5 and 6, the fasteners shown in FIG. 3 are depicted in greater detail. FIG. 4 shows one wing nut 60 and its bolt 62 inserted through the aperture 54 (FIG. 3) and into and through an aperture at intersection 34 (FIG. 2). As shown in FIG. 5, optionally platform corner support 56 is connected to a main rail 16 by suitable means, such as welding. The platform corner support 56 should be considered desired, but is optional. (It should be noted here that corner support 56, bolt 62 and wing nut 60 are constructed the same at both of the intersections 32 and 34.) Referring to FIG. 6, a flat washer 64 is provided, which is common in the marine industry where bolts and wing nuts are employed, in a vibration-intensive environment especially. The removal of wing nut, bolt and washer fasteners 60, 62, 64 allows the platform member 12 or cooler support shelf to be folded against vertical rails 16, 18, by lowering the released platform member 12, thus providing for compact storage of the invention.

To provide additional support and stability, a horizontal stabilizer bar 15 may be provided extending between intersections 38 and 40. FIGS. 7 and 8 show the details of the connections between rails 18 and 26 and the stabilizer bar 15. It should be understood that the connection between rails 16, 28 and the stabilizer bar 15 is substantially a mirror image of the connection between rails 18, 26 and the stabilizer bar 15, shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. Both ends of bar 15 include threaded portions 77 for receiving wing nuts 73 and 75. To assemble the connection initially, wing nut 75 is first fully threaded onto threaded portion 77. Threaded portion 77 is placed through an aperture in the diagonal support member rail 26, and wing nut 73 is loosely threaded onto threaded portion 77. Main rails 16 and 18 both include a slot 71 in their bottom portions. The bar 15 is guided so that slot 71 accepts the threaded portion 79 between wing nuts 73 and 75 (diagonal support rail 26 is omitted in FIG. 7 for viewing purposes). Wing nut 73 is then tightened to hold the connection together. Once the connection has been initially assembled, in order to disassemble the connection to allow the shelf to be folded, the wing nuts 73 on each end of stabilizer bar 15 need only be loosened (not removed), to allow the threaded portion 77 to be released from slot 71. This then allows the platform 12 to be lowered (or raised if corner support 56 is provided).

While a preferred use for the cooler support shelf of the invention is to support a cooler in marine applications, it is obvious to one schooled in the art that the support shelf of the invention is useful for the support of many items, including tackle boxes, bait boxes, scrub pails, tool boxes, laundry hampers, fuel containers, toy boxes and the like. Where the word cooler is used herein to describe the invention, other applications obvious in the art are included with that term.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.