Title:
Universal Lid Closure for Underground Landscape Boxes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A universal lid closure for underground landscape boxes that universally adapts to all underground landscape box sizes by the design of flexible flaps Mat extend radially outwardly from their attachments to the lid body. The flaps are preferably of varying lengths and widths. A plurality of flexible flaps prevent accidental lid removal by exerting resilient force at a precise angle on the underground landscape box wall. A lid top is provided to enclose all box opening circumferences in each box class, and the flexible flaps are molded at a precise angle to horizontal to deter fatigue within the flexible flap.



Inventors:
Kearby, Don Michael (Breckenridge, TX, US)
Sofyanos, John Cary (Spicewood, TX, US)
Wickham, Jimmie Howard (Irving, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/266597
Publication Date:
03/12/2009
Filing Date:
11/07/2008
Assignee:
Pentair Filtration, Inc. (Sheboygan, WI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D43/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANDRUS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW, LLP (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A one-piece universal lid closure for underground landscape boxes of the type having upper circular openings of diameters varying over a given range and a generally cylindrical inner wall having an engagement ring defining an annular shoulder at vertical positions varying over a given range, the lid comprising: a flat circular body dimensioned to overlie and close the opening; a plurality of circumferentially spaced flexible flaps formed integrally with, attached to and extending downwardly from the underside of the body, the flaps having free edges positioned radially outwardly from their attachment to the lid body, said free edges adapted to engage the inner walls of all diameters within the given range and deflect radially inwardly to provide frictional engagement therewith, and wherein each of the flaps has a locking protrusion positioned to positively engage a ring positioned in the given range.

2. The lid as set forth in claim 1 comprising at least three flexible flaps.

3. The lid as set forth in claim 1 comprising a plurality of pairs of circumferentially spaced diametrically opposed flaps.

4. The lid as set forth in claim 3 wherein pairs of diametrically opposed flaps are identical.

5. The lid as set forth in claim 3 wherein pairs of circumferentially adjacent flaps are of different lengths.

6. The lid as set forth in claim 4 wherein circumferentially adjacent flaps are of different widths.

7. The lid as set forth in claim 4 wherein flaps of one diametrically opposed pair are adapted to engage an engagement ring disposed on the inner wall in a first vertical position in the given range and flaps of an adjacent opposed pair are adapted to engage an engagement ring disposed on the inner wall in a second vertical position in the given range.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 11/326,023 filed Jan. 5, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Underground landscape boxes are used by many industries as a means of housing components of the particular industry. Underground landscape boxes are almost used exclusively in landscape but can be used in a number of other areas such as large concrete areas. The underground landscape box may house electrical connections, electric valves, water shutoff valves, and cable TV connections. These samples are just a few of the many and varied applications.

As underground landscape boxes have grown in popular use, more manufacturers have emerged, each making their box unique as to size and specification. The uniqueness of each box can be seen in box diameter. In the class, econo-box, the diameter may vary from 6¼″ all the way to 7″. This difference in diameter means the corresponding lid closure will vary in its diameter resulting in as many lid closure sizes as there are manufacturers.

Over time, as millions of underground landscape boxes have been installed, the lids are subject to needed replacement from deterioration, or removal by vandalism or removal by gas powered equipment. When the end users need to replace missing lids, they are often forced to dig up the entire underground box body and replace the box with whatever manufacturd brand their local wholesaler or retailer might be carrying in any particular year.

The wholesaler and retailer arbitrarily change manufacturers over time due to better pricing, better warranty, or rebate incentives. As more and more manufacturers have entered into the same markets, wholesalers and retailers are forced to make inventory decisions based on replacement market sales. The decisions are: 1. carry multiple manufactured lines of underground landscape boxes thereby increasing inventory levels. Or 2. carry one line of underground landscape boxes and lose replacement sales to their competitors.

Prescott U.S. Pat. No. 4,591,290 was issued based on fixing broken boxes by placing an insertion device inside the underground box wall. This then allowed a smaller lid to be used on the box.

The Prescott patent has two problems with its methodology. 1. It uses an insertion device and then a replacement lid, which accounts for two parts, and two stock keeping units for the wholesaler or retailer to inventory. 2. It involves using a smaller lid, whereas the present application has one lid that will universally fit all currently manufactured and future manufactured underground landscape boxes.

No prior technology makes a replacement lid that can be used as closure for all manufactured products on the market today or for future manufactured product.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The primary object of the invention is to provide a universal lid closure for underground landscape boxes.

Another object of this invention is to provide a lid closure that universally adapts to all underground landscape boxes by the design of a flexible flap with a specific width.

Another object of the invention is to provide a lid closure that universally adapts to all underground landscape boxes by the design of a flexible flap with a specific length.

Another object of the invention is to provide a plurality of flexible flaps that prevent accidental lid removal by exerting force at a precise angle on the underground box wall.

Another object of the present invention is to provide locking protrusions on the edges of the flexible flaps that engage the engagement ring to help secure the lid in the closed position.

Another object of the invention is to provide a lid top that is manufactured to enclose all underground landscape box opening circumferences in each individual box class.

Another object of this invention is to provide a plurality of flexible flaps molded at a precise angle to horizontal to deter fatigue within the flexible flap.

Another object of this invention is to provide one stock keeping unit as a means of inventory control.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a replacement solution to prevent unnecessary labor associated with replacing outdated or no longer manufactured underground landscape boxes.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following descriptions, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein, by way of illustration and example, an embodiment of the present invention is disclosed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings constitute a part of this specification and include exemplary embodiments of the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. It is to be understood that in some instances various aspects of the invention may be shown exaggerated or enlarged to facilitate an understanding of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the invention showing the flexible flaps from the lid underside.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the invention showing the lid engagement points to one type of underground landscape box.

FIG. 3 is another perspective view of the invention showing the lid engagement points to another type of underground landscape box.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the invention showing the lid top with the precision cuts for the flexible flaps.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Detailed descriptions of the preferred embodiment are provided herein. It is to be understood, however, that the present invention may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but rather as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed system, structure or manner.

Turning first to FIG. 1 there is shown the underside of the universal underground landscape box lid 10 illustrating the flexible flaps 11a and 11b. A plurality of flexible flaps 11a and 11b are provided with said lid 10. The flexible flaps 11a and 11b are of varying widths and lengths to accommodate and engage varying box circumferences and engagement rings in varying vertical positions on the inner walls of the boxes of specific manufactured underground landscape boxes (see FIGS. 2 and 3). The smaller width and length flexible flaps 11b are used to engage small circumference underground landscape boxes 30b with a high engagement point of contact and a high engagement ring 34. The larger width and length flexible flaps 11a are used to engage larger circumference underground landscape boxes 30a with a lower point of contact and a low engagement ring 32. The precision angle cut to horizontal of the flexible flaps 11a and 11b allow the flexible flap to apply a resilient force when contacting the underground landscape box inner wall 31 thus preventing accidental removal of the universal box lid 10.

Each of the flexible flaps 11a, 11b is molded integrally with the lid 10 and is secured to the underside thereof along connection lines 12a and 12b, respectively, to a concentric cylindrical reinforcing ring 14. The ring 14 is formed integrally with the lid 10. The upper edges of the flaps 11a and 11b are separated from the lid to provide the necessary flexibility and resilience. The free edges of the flaps opposite the connection lines 12a and 12b are provided with locking protrusions 13a and 13b, respectively, that, upon insertion of the lid into the box 30 deflect past and underride the respective locking rings 32 and 34 to provide positive retention of the lid on the box. The lower edges of the flaps 11a and 11b that define the locking protrusions 13a and 13b are angled with respect to the horizontal (as at 15a and 15b) so that they may more easily ride along the upper rim of the box and over the respective engagement rings, both on insertion and removal of the lid.

Referring now to FIG. 2 there is shown an underground landscape box 30 and the boxes inner wall 31 where the flexible flaps 11b of the universal lid 10 would contact and engage the inner wall 31 and the inner wall engagement ring 34.

Referring now to FIG. 3 there is shown an underground landscape box 30 and the boxes inner wall 31 where the flexible flaps 11a would contact and engage the inner wall 31 and where the flexible flaps 11a would engage the inner wall engagement ring 32.

Referring now to FIG. 4 there is shown the top side of the universal lid 10 illustrating the precision angles 20 cut into the universal lid 10. The precision angles of which the flaps 11a and 11b are positioned are defined by slots 20 cut to horizontal to allow for resilient retention of the flexible flaps 11a and 11b in insertion and removal of the universal lid 10.

While the invention has been described in connection with a preferred embodiment, it is not intended to limit the scope of the invention to the particular form set forth, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.