Title:
Wheel Storage Rack
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A wheel storage rack for storing wheels when not in use includes a vertically extending central post with arms extending from the central post. The arms support receivers for attaching wheel mounts. Each wheel mount is removably attachable to a wheel. The wheel mount has a hub for attaching to the inside surface of a wheel. A lug bolt passes through a lug hole in the wheel to secure the wheel to the hub, and a mounting post extends from the wheel mount in a direction opposite the hub. The mounting post is inserted into the receiver to mount the wheel to the storage rack.



Inventors:
Hurd, Daniel S. (Blacksburg, VA, US)
Application Number:
12/130425
Publication Date:
12/04/2008
Filing Date:
05/30/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F7/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RODDEN, JOSHUA E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COOLEY LLP (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A wheel storage rack for storing wheels when not in use, comprising: a wheel mount removably attachable to a wheel, the wheel mount comprising: a hub comprising a wheel mounting surface adapted to contact an inside surface of the wheel; a lug bolt secured to the wheel mounting surface, the lug bolt passing through a lug hole in the wheel; and a mounting post extending from the wheel mount in a direction opposite the wheel mounting surface; a receiver mounted to the storage rack, the receiver comprising: a receptacle adapted to receive the mounting post.

2. The storage rack of claim 1 further comprising a pin; wherein the pin passes through a transverse hole in the mounting post and a transverse hole in the receiver.

3. The support apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a quick release mechanism adapted to fasten the mounting post to the receiver after the mounting post is inserted into the receiver.

4. The storage rack of claim 1 wherein the wheel mounting surface comprises one or more holes formed in a pattern such that the hole corresponds to the lug hole formed in the wheel.

5. The storage rack of claim 4 wherein the lug bolt is inserted into the lug hole.

6. The storage rack of claim 1 wherein the wheel mounting surface comprises one or more linear slots extending through the hub, wherein the radial position of the slot corresponds to the radial position of the lug hole formed in the wheel.

7. The storage rack of claim 6 wherein the lug bolt passes through the slot and is positionable along the length of the slot so that the lug bolt position corresponds the position of the lug hole formed in the wheel.

8. The storage rack of claim 1 further comprising a support arm to which the receiver is mounted.

9. The storage rack of claim 8 wherein the storage rack is secured to a vertical surface, and wherein the receiver extends from the support arm in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the vertical surface.

10. The storage rack of claim 8 further comprising a central post to which the support arm attaches.

11. The storage rack of claim 10 further comprising a base to which the central post mounts.

12. The storage rack of claim 11 wherein the base comprises castors.

13. The storage rack of claim 10 further comprising a connector attached to an upper end of the central post such that the rack can be suspended from a surface above the rack.

14. The storage rack of claim 1 further comprising a wheel cover.

15. A wheel storage rack for storing wheels when not in use, comprising: a vertically extending central post; an arm connected with the central post at a first end of the arm, the arm extending from the central post at an angle relative to the central post; a horizontally extending receiver connected with a second end of the arm; and a wheel mount removably attachable to a wheel, the wheel mount comprising: a hub adapted to contact an inside surface of the wheel; a lug bolt extending from the hub in a first direction and passing through a lug hole formed in the wheel; and a mounting post extending from the wheel mount in a second direction opposite the first direction; wherein the wheel mount is attached to the second end of the arm by sliding the mounting post into the receiver.

16. The storage rack of claim 15 wherein: the receiver comprises a transverse hole, the mounting post comprises a transverse hole, and the storage rack further comprising pin extending through the transverse holes formed in the receiver and in the mounting post.

17. The storage rack of claim 15 further comprising a quick-release mechanism adapted to act between the receiver and the mounting post.

18. The storage rack of claim 15 wherein the central post is secured to and extends along a vertical surface.

19. The storage rack of claim 15 wherein the central post is secured to and extends from a horizontal surface.

20. A wheel storage rack for storing wheels when not in use, comprising: a vertically extending central post; an arm connected with the central post, the arm extending from the central post at an angle relative to the central post; a receiver mounted to the arm; and a wheel mount removably attachable to a wheel, the wheel mount comprising: a hub comprising a wheel mounting surface adapted to contact an inside surface of the wheel; a lug bolt secured to the wheel mounting surface, the lug bolt passing through a lug hole in the wheel; and a mounting post extending from the wheel mount in a direction opposite the wheel mounting surface; wherein the mounting post is inserted into the receiver.

Description:

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/940,832 filed May 30, 2007, which provisional application is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention relate to a wheel storage rack. More particularly, embodiments of the invention relate to a wheel storage rack for storing automotive type wheels when not in use.

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

There is a large market for aftermarket wheels and tires. A significant number of consumers will choose to personalize their vehicle by replacing their vehicle's stock wheel-tire combination for aftermarket wheels and tires in order to enhance the aesthetics or performance of the vehicle. Additionally, many new cars are now sold with “performance” type wheels and tires. However, these aftermarket and performance tires are often not optimal for in snow, ice, rain, and other inclement weather. Therefore, many consumers will choose to apply the aftermarket wheel-tire combo during fair weather periods of the year and will mount the stock wheel-tire combination during the “off season.” Additionally, consumers in living in snowy or icy climates may choose to replace their vehicle's stock wheel-tire combination with snow tires during the winter months. In either case, the consumer will need to store the unused wheels and tires safely and securely when not in use.

Simply stacking the wheels on the floor of the consumer's garage is problematic. The tires are susceptible to dry rot and flat spots, and the wheels may be more likely to become dirty, rusted, or tarnished. Additionally, potentially useful garage floor space is taken up storing the tires. Accordingly, there is a need for a method and apparatus to store a cleaned and prepared set of wheels and tires that will be ready to install on a vehicle when the appropriate season arrives.

U.S. Design Pat. Nos. D252,600 and D255,292 describe tire display stands in which a fixture is placed inside the tire to secure the tire to the stand. Such stands would not be appropriate for use with wheel-tire combinations.

Japanese Patent Publication No. 10-236616 teaches a tire-storing device in which wheels are positioned on a “rod means” which passes through the center hole of a wheel. The wheels can then be lifted into a storage position at the top of a support column.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,499,607 shows a device for storing vehicle wheels in which wheels are lifted onto the storage device and secured by passing a threaded bolt through the center hole of the wheel. The wheel is secured to the storage device by tightening a threaded nut or cap against an outside surface of the wheel.

The devices shown in each of these references have limitations for use in storing wheels. For example, with the device shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,499,607, the wheel must be lifted onto the threaded bolt and held in place while the cap or nut is tightened. Such a process requires strength and dexterity. Additionally, none of the devices shown in these references is capable of storing a wheel without a through center hole or a wheel with a hubcap attached.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, there remains a need in the art for a wheel storage rack capable of safely and compactly storing wheels while requiring a minimum of strength and dexterity to mount the wheels to the rack. There is also a need in the art for a wheel storage rack capable of storing wheels without a through center hole or a wheels with a hubcaps attached. Therefore, it is a feature of an embodiment of the present invention to provide for these and other needs.

In an embodiment of the invention, a wheel mount is removably attachable to a wheel. The wheel mount comprises: a hub having a wheel mounting surface adapted to contact an inside surface of the wheel, a lug bolt passing through a lug hole formed in the wheel and secured to the wheel mounting surface, and a mounting post extending from the wheel mount in a direction opposite the wheel mounting surface. A receiver comprising a receptacle adapted to receive the mounting post is mounted to the storage rack.

In a further embodiment of the invention, a method for storing wheels on a storage rack when not in use comprises the step of mounting a wheel mount to a wheel, which requires positioning a wheel mounting surface of a hub against an inside surface of the wheel, passing a lug bolt through a lug hole formed in the wheel, securing the lug bolt to the hub, and securing the wheel to the hub. The method further comprises mounting the wheel mount and wheel to the storage rack by lifting the wheel an appropriate height so that a mounting post extending from the wheel mount corresponds to the height of a receiver mounted to the storage rack and inserting the mounting post into a receptacle formed in the receiver.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a front view of an embodiment of the invention adapted for mounting to a vertical surface, such as a wall. One arm is shown with the wheel removed.

FIG. 2 is a cut-away side view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 along line A.

FIG. 3 shows an embodiment having a central post and mounted to a horizontal surface.

FIG. 4 shows a further embodiment having a central post and mounted to a base having castors.

FIG. 5 shows an embodiment for removably mounting a central post to a base.

FIG. 6 illustrates an embodiment for suspending the rack beneath a horizontal surface, such as a ceiling.

FIG. 7 shows a cut-away side view of an embodiment the receiver and mounting block with a wheel attached.

FIG. 8 is an exploded, cut-away view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 illustrates an embodiment of a wheel mount hub.

FIG. 10 illustrates a lug bolt for use with the embodiment of FIG. 9. The sleeve is shown cut-away.

FIG. 11 shows an alternative embodiment of a wheel mount hub.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following description is intended to convey a thorough understanding of the embodiments by providing a number of specific embodiments and details involving a wheel storage rack. It is understood, however, that the invention is not limited to these specific embodiments and details, which are exemplary only. It is further understood that one possessing ordinary skill in the art, in light of known devices, systems and methods, would appreciate the use of the invention for its intended purposes and benefits in any number of alternative embodiments.

Throughout this description, the term “wheel” is used to refer to a wheel (rim) alone or to a wheel in combination with a tire mounted to the wheel. Therefore, unless the context specifically requires otherwise, when the description references a wheel, it should be understood that this could be a wheel without a tire mounted to the wheel or a wheel in combination with a mounted tire. In referring to a wheel, this description uses the term “inside” to refer to the side of the wheel generally facing toward the body of the vehicle and the term “outside” to refer to the side of the wheel generally facing away from the body of the vehicle.

Embodiments of the invention are generally described throughout this description as being adapted for use with automotive type wheels and tires. However, the invention is not so limited. Embodiments of the invention may be appropriate for storing any number of different wheels, such as wheels for cars, trucks, trailers, motorcycles, bicycles, ATVs and other recreational vehicles, go carts, and any other vehicle or apparatus having removable wheels.

The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention. As used throughout this disclosure, the singular forms “a” “an,” and “the” include plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, a reference to “a wheel” includes a plurality of wheels, as well as a single wheel, and a reference to “a support arm” is a reference to one or more arms and equivalents thereof known to those skilled in the art, and so forth.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, embodiments of the present invention comprise a central support member or post 102. Arms 104 extend from the central post 102. Wheels 106 mount to an end portion 108 of each arm 104.

The rack may be arranged in a variety of configurations. For example, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-2, the rack comprises a central post 102 with arms 104 extending from the post in a single plane. The wheels 106 are then mounted to a front side 110 of the end portion 108 of each arm. With a rack 100 in this configuration, the wheels 106 extend in a parallel direction from a front surface 110 of the rack. The rear surface of the rack 112 may then be positioned against a wall 114 and secured to the wall. The central post 102 includes through holes 116 allowing mounting screws or bolts 118 to pass through the holes and secure the rack to a wall 114 or other vertical surface. These through holes 116 may be arranged in a vertical line allowing the rack 100 to be secured to a single stud as would be found in a typical wall. Additionally, arms 104 may include one or more further through holes 120 for further securing the rack 100 to the wall 114. These additional through holes 120 may be spaced a horizontal distance of sixteen (16) or twenty-four (24) inches from the central through holes 116 so that the spacing will equate to standard stud spacing and the rack can be more securely fastened to the wall.

In an alternative embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. 3-4, the rack 100 may comprise central post 102 with arms 104 extending out from the post. Wheels 106 are mounted to the end of the arm 104. The arms may extend out in various directions and configurations as would be convenient for storing the wheels. The central post 102 may be fixed at its base to a surface such as a floor or counter top. As shown in FIG. 3, a base plate 122 is connected to the lower end 142 of central post 102. The base plate extends in a plane perpendicular to the central post 102 and parallel to mounting surface 124. The base plate 122 is secured to the mounting surface 124 by fasteners, such as bolts 126, extending through the base plate 122 and into the mounting surface 124. Alternatively, wheels or castors 128 are attached to base plate 122 so that the entire assembly, including attached wheels 106 can be easily moved. Individual legs may extend from the central post 102 in place of base plate 122.

The base plate 122 may be permanently attached to the lower end 142 of the central post 102, or the base plate may be removable attached. As shown in FIG. 5, a stub post 130 extends upwardly from the base plate 122. The central post 102 is formed from a tube with the appropriate size and shape to fit over the stub post 130. The central post 102 is placed over the stub post 130 and one or more fasteners (132) are passed transversely through holes in both posts to securely attach the base plate 122 to the central post 102. Individual legs may extend from the central post 102 in place of plate 122, or any other appropriate structure may be used as would be apparent to one of skill in the art.

In another embodiment, as shown in FIG. 6, a ring 134 or hook extends from an upper end 144 of central post 102. A chain 136, cable, rope, or other support connects the ring 134 with a mounting plate 138 attached to a ceiling 140 or the undersurface of a support structure, such as a shelf. Alternatively, a stub post, such as shown in FIG. 5, may extend downwardly from the ceiling such that the upper end 144 of the central post 102 extends over the stub post. Transverse fasteners 130 then secure the stub post to the central post.

Although FIGS. 3-6 show floor or ceiling mounting means for racks having symmetrically balanced wheel arrangements, the mounting arrangements shown could also be used in conjunction with asymmetric wheel arrangements, such as shown in FIG. 2, provided that the base plate 122 or ring 134 is correctly positioned to stably balance the rack.

In an embodiment of the invention, a wheel 106 is mounted to the rack 100 by first attaching a wheel mount 164 to the wheel 106 and then mounting the wheel mount and wheel onto the rack. FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate such an embodiment of the invention for mounting a wheel 106 to an arm 104 of the rack 100. For each wheel 106 to be stored, a receiver 160 extends from an arm 104. The receiver 160 may extend from a front surface 110 of the arm 104 if used in conjunction with the wall-mount embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Alternatively, the receiver 106 may extend from the end of an arm 104 or form the entirety of the arm if used in conjunction with a symmetrical floor or ceiling mounted rack, such as shown in FIGS. 3-6. The receiver 160 is a tube or block with a mounting receptacle 162 passing through the receiver. The mounting receptacle 162 in the receiver extends in a horizontal direction and may have a circular inside diameter or may have another cross-sectional shape.

A wheel mount 164 is attached to a wheel 106. A hub portion 166 of the wheel mount 160 is formed broadly in the shape of an axle hub to which a wheel would be mounted when in use on a vehicle. One or more lug bolts 168 extend from a forward face 170 of the hub 166. These lug bolts 168 extend through lug holes 172 typically formed in a wheel 106. A lug nut 174 is then tightened onto each lug bolt 168. In this manner, a wheel mount 164 is attached to each wheel in much the same what that the wheel is typically attached to the vehicle.

The hub portion 166 of the wheel mount 164 may be configured to fit a specific wheel lug pattern, with a variety of hubs provided to fit various standard lug patterns. For example, five lug bolts on a 4.5 inch (114.3 mm) circle is a common wheel bolt pattern. A corresponding wheel mount 164 with a hub having lug bolts 168 positioned with a five bolts on 4.5 inch circle pattern would be provided. Appropriate bolt patterns would be provided for the user to select a wheel mount that fit the wheels to be stored. Each of the various wheel mounts 164 would be adapted to fit a standard receiver 160 so that wheels of various sizes and bolt patterns could be mounted to the rack 100.

Alternatively, a “universal” wheel mount 164 capable of mounting a variety of wheels with different bolt patterns may be used. An embodiment, shown in FIG. 9, would be capable of mounting a wheel having a bolt pattern of five bolts on a 4.5 inch circle or four bolts on a 4.5 inch circle. A wheel mount 164 is provided having a hub portion 166 with a series of threaded holes 188 formed in the forward face 170. The holes 188 are each positioned on a 4.5 inch circle B. A first hole 188c is used for both the four and five bolt pattern. The first hole 188c in conjunction with a group of four additional holes 188b, appropriately spaced, forms a five on 4.5 pattern. While, the first hole 188c used in conjunction with a separate group of three additional holes 188b forms a four on 4.5 pattern.

in order to secure the wheel 106 to the hub 166, a series of lug bolts 168 (FIG. 10) are provided. Each of the bolts 168 has a threaded hub portion 190. This hub portion 190 is adapted to thread into holes 188 in the hub 166. A flange 192 on the bolt 168 allows the bolt to be tightened into the hub 166. A second threaded wheel portion 194 extends from the opposite side of flange 192. This wheel portion 194 extends through the lug holes 172 in the wheel 106 and engages a lug nut 174 in order to secure the wheel 106 to the wheel mount 164. Alternatively, lug bolts having appropriately sized heads may pass through the lug holes 172 from the outside surface 202 of the wheel 106 and engage threaded holes 188 to secure the wheel 106 to the hub 160.

Lug bolts 168 are threaded into the appropriate holes 188 in order to match the bolt pattern of the wheel to be mounted. A series of different sized sleeves 198 could be fitted over a portion 196 of the bolt 168 to adapt a single size of bolt 168 for use with wheels having different sized lug holes 172. The wheel portion 194 of lug bolt 168 may included a non-threaded shoulder adjacent to the flange 192.

It should be noted that holes 188 and lug bolts 168 need not be provided for each of the lug holes 172 (FIG. 8) in a wheel 106. For example, a wheel 106 having a five lug pattern could be mounted to the wheel mount 164 by providing lug bolts 168 at two or three of the five lug hole 172 positions. Because the wheel will not need to support the weight of a car, fewer bolts 168 could be used in order to save the cost of additional bolts 168 and holes 188 and to save time mounting the wheel 106 to the mount 164. Additionally, the hub 166 forward surface 170 may include more than one circle of holes 188. For example, the hub surface 170 may include a 4.5 inch diameter circle of holes so that five on 4.5 inch and four on 4.5 inch wheels can be mounted, and the hub may also include a 100 mm (3.94 inch) circle of holes so that live on 100 mm and four on 100 mm wheels can be fitted.

As shown in FIG. 11, a further embodiment of hub 166 includes through slots 200 in place of holes 188. A common slot 200c is used in conjunction with a first group of slots 200a in order to create a five bolt patter. The common slot 200c is alternatively used in conjunction with a second group of slots 200b to create a four bolt pattern. The wheel 106 is secured to the hub 166 of the wheel mount 164 by passing a lug bolt through the back of the hub 166 and through the lug hole 172 in the wheel 106. A head on the lug bolt prevents it from passing completely through the slot, and a lug nut 174 engages the lug bolt and tightens the wheel 106 to the hub 166. In this manner, a single “universal” hub may be used for a wide variety of four or five bolt patterns regardless of the diameter of the bolt hole pattern.

Referring again to FIGS. 7 and 8, a mounting post 176 extends from a rearward side of the wheel mount 164. The mounting post 176 has an exterior cross-sectional diameter slightly smaller than the inside diameter of the mounting receptacle 162, and the mounting post is shaped so that the outside diameter of the post 176 corresponds to the inside diameter of the receptacle 162. After the wheel mount 164 is secured to the wheel 106 using lug bolts 168 and lug nuts 174, the wheel and wheel mount are lifted together to the height of the receiver 160. The mounting post 176 is inserted into the mounting receptacle 162. There is sufficient overlap between the mounting post 176 and the receptacle 162 to hold the wheel 106 on the rack 100 when the user releases the wheel.

In order to better secure the wheel once the wheel and wheel mount are in place, holes 178 extend transversely through the receiver 160 and the mounting post 176. The mounting post 176 is pushed into the receptacle 162 to a depth sufficient to support the wheel and so that the transverse holes 178 in the receiver align with the transverse holes 180 in the mounting post 176. A pin 182 is then inserted through the transverse holes 178, 180, and a clip 184 is attached to the end of the pin 182 to prevent the pin from falling out. A single transverse hole 178 may be used together with a receptacle 162 and mounting post 176 dimensioned so that the end of the mounting post 176 contacts the bottom of the receptacle 162 or a stop 186 formed on an inside diameter of the receptacle. In this manner, the transverse holes 178 in the receiver 160 will be properly aligned with the transverse holes 180 in the mounting post 176 when the mounting post is fully inserted into the receptacle 162. Alternatively, a series of transverses holes 178 are spaced along the mounting post 176 and receptacle 162. The mounting post 176 can be positioned at various depths within the receiver 160 at which a hole 180 in the post 176 corresponds to a hole 178 in the receiver. Such a series of holes would allow the rack 100 to mount wheels 106 of varying widths as closely as possible to the rack arm 104, making the stored wheels and rack as compact as possible.

Embodiments of the present invention also contemplate the use of other means to secure the wheel mount 164 to the receiver 160 once the mounting post 176 is positioned within the receptacle 162. Examples include: spring biased tabs, locking screws, bayonet fittings, and other appropriate locking mechanisms. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,338,069, hereby incorporated by reference, discloses a positively locking, quick-release coupling that could be used in order to securely fasten the wheel mount 164 to the receiver 160. Alternatively, a quick release wheel mechanism such as that shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,477,121, hereby incorporated by reference, could also be used.

In a further embodiment, covers are provided for the wheels. These covers could include logos or other patterns on the surface of the covers. For example, a user could select from different covers displaying different logos. For example, the covers could display a favorite sports team or hobby, such as a cover displaying the logo for a college football team, an NBA basketball team, a NASCAR driver logo, the make or model of the user's vehicle, or a camouflage or other pattern.

The invention may be practiced in ways other than those particularly described in the foregoing description and examples. Numerous modifications and variations of the invention are possible in light of the above teachings and, therefore, are within the scope of the appended claims.

The invention has been described with specific reference to particularly preferred embodiments and examples. Those skilled in the art recognize that various modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the spirit and scope thereof.