Title:
Vehicle Seating Having Releasable Keeper for Towel Bar
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A seat track assembly for mounting a seat assembly to floor of a motor vehicle. The seat track assembly includes track mechanism having a fixed track adapted to be mounted to the floor and a movable track slidingly adjustable relative to the fixed track. A latch is operatively coupled to the movable track for selectively locking the movable track relative to the fixed track. An actuator is pivotally coupled to the movable track and is operatively coupled to the latch for releasing the latch to allow sliding movement between the fixed and movable tracks. A keeper assembly extends between the latch and the actuator. The keeper assembly selectively decouples the actuator from the latch when the actuator is urged to move beyond a normal range of movement.



Inventors:
Herringshaw, Steven (Grosse Ile, MI, US)
Satghare, Sameer (Auburn Hills, MI, US)
Prasannachar, Murali D. (Farmington Hills, MI, US)
Application Number:
12/096799
Publication Date:
11/13/2008
Filing Date:
12/14/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100072794Towel securing apparatusMarch, 2010Karovic
20030173813Birthing chairSeptember, 2003Dornauer et al.
20090051779MODIFYING VISUAL PERCEPTIONFebruary, 2009Rolston
20080079292Organizer attachable to a chair and task utility system and process of providing sameApril, 2008Mitchell
20070075573Bistro tableApril, 2007Gray
20030075963Automobile seat with folding seat backApril, 2003Oberbeck
20060208549Automotive seat with control systemSeptember, 2006Hancock et al.
20100006019INTERCHANGEABLE SEAT SYSTEMJanuary, 2010Knoblett et al.
20090001790Lounge Chair CoverJanuary, 2009Williams
20090179466Adjustable bicycle seat securing deviceJuly, 2009Tsai
20030075961Chair, especially an office chairApril, 2003Struppler et al.



Primary Examiner:
RAMIREZ, RAMON O
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MAGNA INTERNATIONAL, INC. (AURORA, ON, CA)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A seat track assembly for mounting a seat assembly to a floor of a motor vehicle, said seat track assembly comprising: a track mechanism including a fixed track adapted to be mounted to the floor and a movable track slidingly adjustable relative to said fixed track; a latch operatively coupled to said movable track and movable for selectively locking said movable track relative to said fixed track; an actuator pivotally coupled to said movable track and operatively coupled to said latch for moving said latch between locked and unlocked positions enabling selective sliding movement between said fixed and movable tracks; and a keeper assembly operatively coupling said latch and said actuator for positioning said actuator for deployment and enabling selective decoupling from said latch when said actuator is urged to move in a locking direction beyond a normal range of movement between said locking and unlocking positions.

2. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein said actuator includes a handle and at least one leg pivotally coupled to said movable track, said keeper assembly releasably engaging said leg.

3. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 2 wherein said leg extends between a first end pivotally coupled to said movable track and a second end at said handle, said keeper assembly releasably coupled between said latch and said leg between said first and second ends.

4. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein said keeper assembly includes an upper portion coupled to said latch and a lower portion releasably coupled to said leg of said actuator.

5. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 4 wherein said lower portion of said keeper assembly extends between a first end and a second end defining an axial passageway and includes an opening for selectively releasing said leg of said actuator therethrough when a predetermined downward load is applied to said actuator.

6. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 5 wherein said lower portion of said keeper assembly includes a first arm and a second arm having spaced apart opposing bottom edges defining said opening therebetween.

7. A set track assembly as set forth in claim 6 wherein said first arm and said second arm are C-shaped and are positioned in a face to face relation.

8. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 7 wherein said opening of said keeper assembly selectively receives said leg of said actuator therethrough when a predetermined unlocking load is applied to said actuator.

9. A seat track assembly for mounting a seat assembly to a floor of a motor vehicle, said seat track assembly comprising: a pair of track mechanisms, each including a fixed track adapted to be mounted to the floor and a movable track slidingly adjustable relative to said fixed track; a pair of latches, each operatively coupled to one of said movable tracks for selectively locking said movable track relative to said fixed track; an actuator pivotally coupled to said movable track and operatively coupled to each of said latches for moving said latches and enabling selective sliding movement between said fixed and movable tracks; and a pair of keeper assemblies, each operatively coupling one of said latches and said actuator for positioning said actuator for deployment and enabling selective decoupling from said latches when said actuator is urged to move in a locking direction beyond a normal range of movement between said locking and unlocking positions.

10. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 9 wherein said actuator includes a handle and a pair of legs extending from opposite ends of said handle, each leg pivotally coupled to one of said movable tracks, said pair keeper assemblies each releasably engaging one of said pair of legs.

11. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 10 wherein each of said keeper assemblies includes a first C-shaped arm and a C-shaped second arm, positioned in a spaced face to face relation defining an opening therebetween for receiving one of said pairs of legs.

12. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 11 wherein each of said first and second C-shaped arms are resilient.

13. A seat track assembly as set forth in claim 12 wherein each of said keeper assemblies are configured to be affixed to one of said latches.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a seat track assembly for an automotive vehicle. More particularly, this invention relates to a keeper assembly for selectively decoupling a towel bar when a predetermined load is applied to the towel bar.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A seat adjuster or seat track assembly is used for selectively adjusting the fore aft position of a seat assembly in a motor vehicle. The typical seat track assembly includes a first fixed seat track that is fixed to a vehicle structure, such as a floor, and a second movable seat track that is slidably supported on the first track for sliding movement relative to the first track. A seat cushion of the seat assembly is mounted to the second track such that sliding movement of the second track relative to the first track allows adjustment of the seat assembly fore and aft with respect to the vehicle. Often, the adjustment of the seat assembly is controlled by a manual seat adjuster.

The manual seat adjuster provides fore and aft adjustment of the seat assembly through the use of a towel bar or other handle to engage and disengage a latch that selectively locks the seat tracks together. The towel bar typically has a handle portion which is located at the front of the seat assembly, directly below the seat cushion. The towel bar is typically pivotally connected to the sliding track at a point that is located rearward of the handle portion, under the seat cushion. Typically the latch has teeth which engage slots spaced along the length of the fixed track. When an operator pulls upward on the handle of the towel bar, the towel bar pivots and the latch is urged out of engagement with the fixed track, which permits fore and aft adjustment of the seat assembly. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,046,698; 5,741,000; 6,322,036 and publication No. US 2005-0285005 A1 are examples of a prior art seat track assemblies.

While such towel bar and latch designs are common today, current designs are subject to over-bending and part breakage when the handle of the towel bar is exposed to downward abuse loading, by being stepped on for example. It would, therefore, be desirable to provide a seat adjuster or seat track assembly having a therefore, be desirable to provide a seat adjuster or seat track assembly having a selectively releasable coupling between the latch and the towel bar to prevent incurring damage to either under abuse loading.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention, a seat track assembly is provided for mounting a seat assembly to a floor of a motor vehicle. The seat track assembly includes a track mechanism having a fixed track adapted to be mounted to the floor and a movable track slidingly adjustable relative to the fixed track. The seat track assembly also includes a latch that is operatively coupled to the movable track for selectively locking the movable track relative to the fixed track. Further, the seat track assembly includes an actuator that is pivotally coupled to the movable track and is operatively coupled to the latch for releasing the latch to allow sliding movement between the fixed and movable tracks. Finally, the seat track assembly includes a keeper assembly that retains and positions the actuator. The keeper assembly selectively decouples the actuator from the seat track assembly when the actuator is urged to move beyond a normal range of movement.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a seat track assembly including a keeper assembly releasably coupled to a towel bar according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary, perspective view of the seat track assembly illustrating the keeper assembly with the towel bar in a use position;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary, perspective view of the seat track assembly illustrating the keeper assembly with the towel bar in a partially released position; and

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary, perspective view of the seat track assembly illustrating the keeper assembly with the towel bar in a released position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIG. 1, a seat track assembly, generally shown at 10, includes a pair of laterally spaced apart track mechanisms, generally indicated at 12, 14. The track mechanisms 12, 14 are provided to mount a seat assembly (not shown) to a floor 16 of a motor vehicle. Each track mechanism 12, 14 includes a fixed track 18 that is adapted to be mounted to the floor 16 and a movable track 20 slidingly engaging the fixed track 18. The fixed 18 and movable 20 tracks define a longitudinal axis 22. The movable track 20 is adjustable relative to the fixed track 18 along the longitudinal axis 22 for moving the seat assembly fore and aft within the vehicle.

An actuator, generally indicated at 24 extends between the spaced apart track mechanisms 12, 14. The actuator 24 allows a seat occupant to adjust the seat assembly fore and aft by lifting or pulling upward on the actuator 24 which is located below a seat cushion (not shown) of the seat assembly. In the embodiment shown, the actuator 24 is a towel bar. The towel bar 24 includes laterally spaced apart first 26 and second 28 legs. The first leg 26 is disposed adjacent to the track mechanism 12 and extends between a proximal end 30 and a distal end 32. The proximal end 30 of the first leg 26 is pivotally coupled to the movable track 20 about a pin (not shown). The second leg 28 is disposed adjacent to the track mechanism 14 and extends between a proximal end 34 and a distal end 36. The proximal end 34 of the second leg 28 is pivotally coupled to the movable track 20 about a pin 38. The towel bar 24 also includes a central handle portion 40 extending laterally between the distal ends 32, 36 of the first 26 and second 28 legs.

The towel bar 24 is operatively connected to a pair of latches, generally indicated at 42, 44. While in a preferred aspect, the actuator 24 has been described above as being a towel bar 24, it is contemplated that the actuator 24 may be any device or mechanism that could be utilized to effect movement of the latches 42, 44.

A first keeper assembly, generally indicated at 46, extends between the first leg 26 of the towel bar 24 and the latch 42. A second keeper assembly, generally indicated at 48, extends between the second leg 28 of the towel bar 24 and the latch 44. The attachment of the first 46 and second 48 keeper assemblies to the first 26 and second 28 legs of the towel bar 24 results in the latches 42, 44 being operatively connected to the towel bar 24.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 through 4, only one side of the seat track assembly 10 will be described in detail, however, it will be appreciated that both sides are substantially the same. The second keeper assembly 48 includes a rigid upper portion 50 and a generally C-shaped, flexible lower portion 52. The upper portion 50 is fixedly coupled to the latch 44. The lower portion 52 is releasably coupled to the second leg 28 of the towel bar 24. More specifically, the lower portion 52 extends between a first end 54 and a second end 56 defining an axial passageway 58 along a longitudinal axis 60. When the towel bar is in a use or deployment position, as shown in FIG. 2, the second leg 28 extends through the axial passageway 58 and is retained therein by the lower portion 52. The lower portion 52 includes a first C-shaped arm 62 and a second C-shaped arm 64, positioned in a face to face relation, having spaced apart and opposing bottom edges 66, 68. The bottom edges 66, 68 define an opening or gap therebetween, generally shown at 70. Although, the first 46 and second 48 keeper assemblies are formed from a flexible plastic material in the current embodiment, it is appreciated that the particular material for the first 46 and second 48 keeper assemblies may vary without varying from the scope of the invention.

In the embodiment shown, the latch 44 includes a first end 72 and a second end 74. The upper portion 50 of the second keeper assembly 48 is fixedly coupled to the first end 72 of the latch 44. In this example, upper portion 50 is fitted onto the first end 72 and retained in a snapping engagement. The second end 74 of the latch 44 includes a plurality of teeth 76. The latch 44 has a normal operating range of movement between a locked position wherein the teeth 76 engage slots or windows (not shown) in the fixed track 18 to lock the movable track 20 with respect to the fixed track 18, and an unlocked position wherein the teeth 76 are out of engagement with the fixed track 18 to allow sliding movement of the movable track 20 relative to the fixed track 18. Other latch mechanisms well known in the art may also be utilized.

In operation, beginning with the towel bar 24 in the use or deployment position, shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the first 26 and second 28 legs of the towel bar 24 are disposed in the axial passageway 58 of the first 46 and second 48 keeper assemblies, respectively. In addition, the latches 42, 44 are in the locked position with the teeth 76 of each of the latches 42, 44 engaging the windows in the respective fixed tracks 18 to prevent the movable tracks 20 from moving relative to the fixed tracks 18, thus preventing fore and aft movement of the seat assembly.

When the central handle portion 40 of the towel bar 24 is lifted in an unlocking direction, the first 26 and second 28 legs pivot relative to the respective track mechanisms 12, 14, toward the bottom of the seat cushion. The upward movement of the towel bar 24 presses the first 26 and second 28 legs against an upper portion of the lower portion 52 of the respective first 46 and second 48 keeper assemblies, which in turn moves the latches 42, 44 to the unlocked position. In the unlocked position, the teeth 76 of each of the latches 42, 44 are out of engagement with the windows in the fixed tracks 18. In this condition, the movable tracks 20 are free to slide with respect to the fixed tracks 18, thereby permitting fore and aft adjustment of the seat assembly.

When the towel bar 24 is exposed to downward abuse loading, the first 26 and second 28 legs pivot in a locking direction relative to the respective track mechanisms 12, 14, toward the floor 16. The downward loading of the towel bar 24 presses the first 26 and second 28 legs against the first 62 and second 64 arms of the lower portion 52 of the respective first 46 and second 48 keeper assemblies. The flexible nature of the lower portion 52 allows the first 62 and second 64 arms to deflect outward, increasing the size of the opening 70, as shown in FIG. 3. The towel bar 24 is now in a partially released position. Continued downward loading of the towel bar 24 urges the towel bar 24 to travel beyond a normal range of travel, resulting in the first 46 and second 48 keeper assemblies releasing the first 26 and second 28 legs before damage results to the towel bar 24 or either of the latches 42, 44. The towel bar 24 is now in a released position, as shown in FIG. 4.

To move the towel bar 24 from the released position back to the use position, the towel bar 24 is lifted, such that the first 26 and second 28 legs pivot relative to the respective track mechanisms 12, 14, toward the bottom of the seat cushion. The upward movement of the towel bar 24 causes the first 26 and second 28 legs to contact and press against the bottom edges 66, 68 of the first 62 and second 64 arms of the respective first 46 and second 48 keeper assemblies. The bottom edges 66, 68 are shaped such that the upward contact of the towel bar 24 causes the first 62 and second 64 arms to deflect outward, increasing the size of the opening 70 to receive the first 26 and second 28 legs back into the axial bore 58 of the respective first 46 and second 48 keeper assemblies.

The invention has been described in an illustrative manner, and it is to be understood that the terminology, which has been used, is intended to be in the nature of words of description rather than of limitation. Many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is, therefore, to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically described.





 
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