Title:
SURFACE MOUNTABLE COLLAPSIBLE TOWEL RACK
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A surface mountable collapsible rack is provided for drying wet towels, clothing and other fabric items. The rack includes a frame adapted to mount to a support structure in a mounting position. A plurality of towel support spindles are pivotally mounted on the frame. The spindles are individually vertically pivotable when the frame is in its mounting position between a stowed position wherein the spindles extend downwardly from their mount point on the frame and a deployed operational position wherein the spindles extend generally horizontally from the mount point. The spindles are individually lockable in the deployed position for holding one or more items to be dried.



Inventors:
Rhoads III, Cleo J. (Virginia Beach, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/939639
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/14/2007
Assignee:
RHOADS ENTERPRISES LLC (Virginia Beach, VA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K10/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KRYCINSKI, STANTON L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WALTER W. DUFT (CLARENCE CENTER, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A surface mountable collapsible rack for drying wet towels, clothing and other fabric items, comprising: a frame adapted to mount to a support structure in a mounting position; a plurality of towel support spindles pivotally mounted on said frame; said spindles being individually vertically pivotable, when said frame is in said mounting position, between a stowed position wherein said spindles extend downwardly from their mount point on said frame and a deployed operational position wherein said spindles extend generally horizontally from said mount point; and said spindles being individually lockable in said deployed position for holding one or more items to be dried.

2. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1 wherein said spindles are horizontally pivotable when locked in said deployed position between a parallel configuration in which said spindles are substantially parallel to each other and a fanned position in which said spindles fan out from each other to promote air circulation to items supported on said spindles for drying.

3. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1 wherein said spindles are horizontally positionable when locked in said deployed position in order to adjust a spacing between adjacent spindles to promote air circulation to items supported on said spindles for drying.

4. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1 wherein said spindles are all of equal length.

5. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1 wherein said frame and said spindles comprise wood.

6. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1 wherein said spindles are lockable in said deployed position without fasteners.

7. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1 wherein said spindles comprise a base end and a free end, said spindles being pivotally mounted to said frame at said base end.

8. An apparatus in accordance with claim 7 wherein said spindles are lockable in said deployed position by restraining said base end of said spindles from pivoting.

9. An apparatus in accordance with claim 8 wherein said base end of said spindles are restrained by engagement with a stop member on said frame.

10. An apparatus in accordance with claim 9 wherein said stop member is fixed and said spindles are slideable so as to bring said base ends into engagement with said stop member for locking.

11. A surface mountable collapsible rack for drying wet towels, clothing and other fabric items, comprising: a frame having a top, a bottom, and a base adapted to mount to a generally vertical support structure in a mounting position in which said top is above said bottom and said base engages said support structure; fastener-receiving elements on said base adapted to receive fasteners for securing said frame base to said support structure; a cross-member on said frame that is spaced from said base and substantially horizontal when said frame is in said mounting position; a plurality of towel support spindles pivotally mounted on said cross-member; each of said spindles having a base end, a free end and a cross-member engagement element at said base end that pivotally engages said cross-member; said spindles being individually vertically pivotable, when said frame is in said mounting position, between a stowed position wherein said spindles extend downwardly from said cross-member and a deployed operational position wherein said spindles extend generally horizontally from said cross-member; and said spindles being individually lockable in said deployed position for holding one or more items to be dried.

12. An apparatus in accordance with claim 11 wherein said cross-member comprises a cylindrical rod.

13. An apparatus in accordance with claim 12 wherein said cross-member engagement element on said spindles comprises a bracket, said bracket having an opening that receives said cross-member rod.

14. An apparatus in accordance with claim 13 wherein said opening in said bracket is sized to allow said spindles to slide in a direction that is parallel to said cross-member rod.

15. An apparatus in accordance with claim 14 wherein said opening in said bracket is elongated to allow said spindles to slide in a direction that is perpendicular to said cross-member rod and to pivot horizontally to a fanned position.

16. An apparatus in accordance with claim 15 wherein said frame comprises a stop member on said frame that is spaced from said cross-member rod toward said base and said top of said frame.

17. An apparatus in accordance with claim 16 wherein said stop member is positioned to engage said base end of said spindles when said spindles are pivoted vertically upwardly from said stowed position and slid perpendicularly to said cross-member rod toward said frame.

18. An apparatus in accordance with claim 17 wherein said stop member comprises a single stop member bar for all of said spindles.

19. An apparatus in accordance with claim 18 wherein said stop member engages a top side of said base end of said spindles to resist downward vertical pivoting of said free ends of said spindles from said deployed position while said cross-member rod serves as a fulcrum for said vertical pivoting.

20. A surface mountable collapsible rack for drying wet towels, clothing and other fabric items, comprising: a frame having a top, a bottom, and a base adapted to mount to a generally vertical support surface in a mounting position in which said top is above said bottom and said base engages said support surface; fastener-receiving elements on said base adapted to receive fasteners for securing said frame base to said support surface; a cross-member on said frame that is spaced from said base and substantially horizontal when said frame is in said mounting position; a plurality of towel support spindles pivotally mounted on said cross-member; each of said spindles having a base end, a free end and a cross-member engagement element at said base end that pivotally engages said cross-member; said spindles being individually vertically pivotable, when said frame is in said mounting configuration, between a stowed position wherein said spindles extend downwardly from said cross-member and a deployed operational position wherein said spindles extend generally horizontally from said cross-member; said spindles being individually lockable in said deployed position for holding one or more items to be dried; said cross-member comprising a cylindrical rod; said cross-member engagement element on said spindles comprises a bracket disposed on an underside of said spindles, said bracket having an opening that receives said cross-member rod; said opening in said bracket being sized to allow said spindles to slide in a direction that is parallel to said cross-member rod; said opening in said bracket being elongated to allow said spindles to slide in a direction that is perpendicular to said cross-member rod and to pivot horizontally to a fanned position; said frame comprising a stop member on said frame that is spaced from said cross-member rod toward said base and said top of said frame; said stop member being positioned to engage said base end of said spindles when said spindles are pivoted vertically upwardly from said stowed position and slid perpendicularly to said cross-member rod toward said frame; said stop member comprising a single stop member bar for all of said spindles; and said stop member engaging a top side of said base end of said spindles to create a coupling moment with said cross-member rod that resists downward vertical pivoting of said free ends of said spindles from said deployed position while said cross-member rod serves as a fulcrum for said vertical pivoting.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/859,182, filed on Nov. 16, 2006, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by this reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to racks for drying wet towels, clothing and other fabric items. More particularly, the invention is concerned with racks that are particularly suited for drying swim and bath towels following use.

2. Description of the Prior Art

By way of background, when a swim or bath towel is used by a person to dry off after emerging from a pool, Jacuzzi spa, sauna or bath, the towel is often draped haphazardly on nearby furniture (e.g., a chair, a lounge, etc.) in order to dry. Either that or the towel is simply balled up and dropped wherever the person happens to be standing, be it a deck, apron or patio, or a bathroom, utility room or changing room floor. Draping a towel over furniture is unsightly and dropping the towel creates a tripping hazard. Moreover, the towel may be so crumpled or wadded that it fails to dry properly, leading to the possible accumulation of mold and mildew.

Although there are a variety of racks that may be used for holding wet towels, they often use hooks or rings as the towel supports. This results in slow drying because the towels become bunched when they are hung in this fashion. Other towel racks comprise bars that allow the towels to be spread out to their full width and draped over the bar. This allows the towels to dry out more quickly and effectively. However, such racks are often bulky unsightly affairs that may take up an inordinate amount of space. They are also often free-standing and thus may be inadvertently toppled over by careless individuals, pets, or strong winds.

It is to improvements in the foregoing art that the present invention is directed. In particular, Applicant has developed an improved rack that overcomes the disadvantages associated with conventional designs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A surface mountable collapsible rack is provided for drying wet towels, clothing and other fabric items. The rack includes a frame adapted to mount to a support structure (such as a wall, post, fence or other structure) in a mounting position. A plurality of towel support spindles are pivotally mounted on the frame. The spindles are individually vertically pivotable when the frame is in its mounting position. This allows the spindles to be selectively moved between a stowed position wherein the spindles extend downwardly from their mount point on the frame and a deployed operational position wherein the spindles extend generally horizontally from the mount point. The spindles are individually lockable in the deployed position for holding one or more items to be dried.

According to an exemplary embodiment disclosed herein, the spindles may also be horizontally pivotable when locked in the deployed position. This allows the spindles to be positioned between a parallel configuration in which the spindles are substantially parallel to each other and a fanned position in which the spindles fan out from each other to promote air circulation to items that are supported on the spindles for drying. The spindles may be additionally horizontally positionable (e.g., slideable) when locked in the deployed position in order to adjust the spacing between adjacent spindles. The spindles may all have the same length or may be of different lengths. If desired, the frame and the spindles may be formed from wood material, such as decorative hardwood.

Advantageously, the spindles are lockable in the deployed position without fasteners. The spindles may comprise a base end and a free end, with the spindles being pivotally mounted to the frame at their base end. The spindles can be locked in the deployed position by restraining their base end against pivoting. By way of example, the spindles may be restrained by engagement of their base ends with a stop member on the frame. The stop member may be fixed in position and the spindles may be slideable so that their base ends may be brought into engagement with the stop member for locking.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of an exemplary embodiment, as illustrated in the accompanying Drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a surface mountable collapsible towel rack in a stowed position;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing the rack of FIG. 1 with one of its spindles in a deployed position;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the rack of FIG. 1 with one of its spindles in a deployed position and holding a towel for drying;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing the rack of FIG. 1 with several of its spindles in a deployed position;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective viewing showing exemplary components of the rack of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing the rack of FIG. 1 in a partially completed state prior to any of its spindles being mounted thereto;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view showing the rack of FIG. 1 in a partially completed state showing its spindles being mounted thereto;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view showing the rack of FIG. 1 in a partially completed state after all its spindles have been mounted thereto;

FIG. 9 is a side elevation view showing the rack of FIG. 1 with one of its spindle in a deployed position; and

FIG. 10 is a front elevation view showing the rack of FIG. 1 with one of its spindles in a raised position and another spindle in a stowage position; and

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENT

Turning now to FIGS. 1-2, a surface mountable collapsible rack 2 is shown that may be used for drying wet towels, clothing and other fabric items. The rack 2 includes a frame 4 having a top portion 6, a bottom portion 8, and a base portion 10. The base 10 is adapted to mount to a generally vertical support structure, such as a wall W having a generally vertical support surface. Other support structures could also be used, such as a post, a fence, a secondary frame structure, etc. In its intended mounting position, the rack 2 is oriented such that the top 6 is above the bottom 8, and the base 10 engages the support structure. This orientation is shown in FIG. 1. The rack 2 can be mounted to the support structure in any suitable manner, such as by mechanical fastening using screws or other attachment members. If mechanical fastening is used, the frame 4 may be provided with fastener receiving elements, such as fastener-receiving through-bores, as described in more detail below.

A plurality of two or more towel support spindles 12 (e.g., five) are pivotally mounted on the frame 4. The spindles 12 are shown as having an elongated bar shape, but other shapes could also be used. The spindles 12 are individually vertically pivotable when the frame 4 is in its mounting position. This allows the spindles 12 to be selectively moved between a stowed position (shown in FIG. 1) wherein the spindles extend downwardly from their mount point on the frame 4, and a deployed operational position (shown in FIG. 2) wherein the spindles extend generally horizontally from the mount point. As can be additionally seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, the spindles 12 are individually lockable in the deployed position for holding a wet towel T, or other fabric items such as clothing.

As best shown in FIG. 4, the spindles 12 are also horizontally pivotable when locked in the deployed position. This allows the spindles 12 to be positioned between a parallel configuration in which the spindles are substantially parallel to each other and a fanned position in which the spindles fan out from each other in the horizontal plane to promote air circulation to items, such as the towel T, that are supported on the spindles for drying. The spindles 12 are additionally horizontally positionable (e.g., slideable) when locked in the deployed position in order to adjust the spacing between adjacent spindles. Again, this increases air circulation to the items being dried. FIGS. 7 and 8, which are described in more detail below, further illustrate this capability.

The spindles 12 each comprise a base end 14 and a free end 16. The spindles 12 are pivotally mounted to the frame 4 at their base end 14, and a region 18 (see FIG. 3 between the base end and the free end 16 is used for holding items to be dried. The pivotal mounting of the spindles 12 can be effected using a variety of pivot mechanisms. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the rack 2 includes a cross-member 20 that is mounted on the frame 4 to provide a pivot fulcrum. As shown in FIG. 2, each spindle 12 is provided with a cross-member engagement element 22 (such as a bracket) at its base end 14 that is pivotally mounted to the cross-member 20. The cross member 20 is spaced from the base 10 of the frame 4 and is substantially horizontal when the frame is in its mounting position. As described in more detail below, the cross-member engagement member 22 may be constructed so as to provide the aforementioned ability of the spindles 12 to be horizontally pivoted and fanned out when locked in their deployed position. The same construction also allows the spindles 12 to be moved laterally along the cross-member 20, providing the aforementioned ability of the spindles to be horizontally positioned when locked in the deployed position in order to adjust the spacing between adjacent spindles.

The spindles 12 can be locked in the deployed position by restraining their base end 14 against pivoting. By way of example, the spindles 12 may be restrained by engagement of their base ends 14 with a stop member (not shown in FIGS. 1-4) on the frame 4. As described in more detail below, the stop member is fixed in position and the spindles 12 are slideable in a direction that is perpendicular to the cross-member 20 so that their base ends 14 may be brought into engagement with the stop member for locking. Conveniently, the stop member and the cross-member 20 are substantially hidden by the top 6 (and sides) of the frame 4 in order to improve the appearance of the rack 2.

The spindles 12 may be of any suitable length depending on the items to be dried. For example, a minimum length of at least approximately thirty inches would accommodate standard size swim and bath towels, with thirty-six inches being preferred for this application. For laundry room use, the spindles 12 could be as short as 12 inches (or less) in order carry smaller items. The spindles 12 could also be used to support hangers that carry items to be dried. For this purpose, the top surface of the spindles 12 could be formed with small slots or other depressions that prevent the hangers from sliding on the spindles. It would also be possible to employ spindles 12 of different length on the same rack 2. Thus, the embodiment shown in the drawing figures wherein the spindles are all of equal length is but one example of how the rack 2 could be constructed.

If desired, the frame 4 and the spindles 12 may be formed from wood material, such as decorative hardwood. Other materials could also be used to provide a different aesthetic, including stainless steel, brass, anodized aluminum, iron etc. Molded plastics could also be used, provided the frame 4 and the spindles 12 have the necessary strength and rigidity to support the items being dried.

Advantageously, the spindles 12 are lockable in the deployed position without the use of fasteners such as screws, bolts, pins or other components that need to be removed, adjusted or otherwise manipulated. An exemplary construction that offers this capability is shown in FIG. 5. In the illustrated construction, the rack 2 is fabricated from a combination of wood and metal materials. The frame 4 includes a top plate 24 that provides the frame top 6, two side plates 26 whose bottom edges provide part of the frame bottom 8, and a base plate 28 that provides the frame base 10 and whose bottom edge also provides part of the frame bottom 8. Fasteners, such as wood screws 30, may be used to interconnect these components. Alternatively, a suitable adhesive may be used. Still further, an integrally formed (e.g., molded) construction could be used.

The above-mentioned stop member that restrains the spindle base ends 14 against pivoting when in the spindle deployment position may be provided by a stop bar 32 that is also made of wood (or other material) and mounted to the top plate 24 in any suitable fashion, such as with additional wood screws 30. The stop bar 32 could be alternatively mounted to the base plate 10 or to the side plates 26. Adhesive may also be used in lieu of fasteners. It should be further noted that although a single stop bar member 32 is shown in the drawings, plural stop members could also be used. Fastener-receiving elements in the form of through-bores 34 may be provided on the base plate 28 in order to receive additional fasteners (not shown) for securing the frame base 10 to the support structure.

With continued reference to FIG. 5, the cross-member 20 may be provided as a cylindrical rod 36 made from aluminum or other suitable metal, or alternatively as a strong wooden dowel or possibly a plastic member. A blind bore 38 may be formed in each side plate 26 to support the cross-member 20. The cross-member engagement element 22 at the base end 14 of the spindles 12 may be provided by an elongated bracket 40 made from aluminum or other suitable metal that mounts to the underside of each spindle. Mechanical fasteners such as additional wood screws 30 may be used for this mounting.

FIGS. 6, 7 and 8 illustrate how the spindles 12 may be pivotally mounted to the frame 4 by interconnecting the brackets 40 with the cross-member rod 36. As can be seen in FIG. 7, the brackets 40 are designed to thread onto the cross-member rod 36 and to allow the spindles 12 to slide parallel to the rod's longitudinal axis. FIG. 8 illustrates the mounting of the final side plate 26 to the top plate 24 and the base plate 28 after the spindles 12 have been installed.

Turning now to FIGS. 9 and 10, the interconnection between the cross-member rod 36 and the brackets 40 is shown in more detail. As can be seen in FIG. 9, the brackets 40 define an opening 42 that receives the cross-member rod 36. The opening 42 in the brackets 40 is larger than the diameter of the cross-member rod 36 and thus allows the spindles 12 to freely slide along the length of the rod, as mentioned above in connection with FIGS. 7 and 8. The opening 42 is also elongated to allow the spindles 12 to pivot horizontally to the fanned out orientation shown in FIG. 4.

The primary role of the elongated design of the brackets 40 is to allow the spindles 12 to slide in a direction that is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the cross-member rod, as shown by the bidirectional arrow 44 in FIG. 9. This freedom of movement allows the base end 14 of the spindles 12 to be pushed into locking engagement underneath the stop member bar 32. The locking operation can be performed once the spindles 12 are pivoted upwardly from the free-hanging stowed position shown by the left hand spindle in FIG. 10 to the raised position shown by the right hand spindle in FIG. 10. It will be seen in FIG. 9 that the stop member bar 32 is spaced from the cross-member rod 36 toward the frame base 10 and the frame top 6. The stop member bar 32 is thus positioned to engage the top side of the spindle base end 14 when the spindles 12 are in their deployed position.

When the spindles 12 are loaded with the downward weight of an item to be dried, the fixed cross-member rod 36 imparts a reactive upward force and acts as a fulcrum for the spindle vertical pivoting motion. A reactive coupling moment is produced by virtue of the stop member bar 32 exerting a downward force on the spindle base end 14. This coupling moment resists downward vertical pivoting of the spindle free ends 14, thereby locking the spindles 12 in the deployed position. In order to release the spindles 12, they simply need to be grasped and pulled away from the frame base 10 until the spindle base end 14 is no longer in contact with the stop member bar 32. At this point the spindles are free to pivot downwardly from their raised position (shown by the right hand spindle in FIG. 10) to their free-hanging stowed position (shown by the left hand spindle in FIG. 10).

Advantageously, the above-described construction allows the spindles 12 to be selectively locked against vertical pivoting in the deployed operational position. Thus, one or more of the spindles 12 may be selectively deployed while the other spindles remain in the stowed position. As mentioned above, no fasteners or other mechanical components requiring user manipulation are required to lock the spindles 12.

In addition, even when the spindles 12 are locked against vertical pivoting, they are freely horizontally pivotable due to the freedom of movement allowed by the elongated shape of the bracket openings 42, as discussed above. Moreover, as also previously mentioned, the spindles 12 may be freely slideably positioned parallel to the cross-member rod 36, thus permitting the spacing of adjacent spindles to be adjusted even when locked in the deployed position. Both of these capabilities allow the spindles 12 to be oriented to provide maximum air circulation to items that are placed thereon to dry, thereby reducing drying time.

Accordingly, a surface mountable collapsible rack for drying wet towels, clothing and other fabric items has been disclosed. Although an exemplary embodiment of the invention have been shown and described, it should be apparent that many variations and alternative embodiments could be implemented in accordance with the teachings herein. For example, although the spindles 12 are pivotally mounted so as to pivot upwardly from their stowed position to their operational position, they could also be mounted to pivot downwardly. In this construction, the spindles would extend upwardly from their pivot point when in the stowed position and the free ends would be dropped down to place the spindles in their operational position, much like a wall-mounted ironing board. If needed, a releasable clip device could be used to restrain the spindle free ends in the spindle stowed position. A still further alternative would be to pivotally mount the spindles at a central portion thereof. A lever arm could be used to interconnect the central portion of each spindle to the rack frame in essentially the same manner that an automobile windshield wiper blade is pivotally mounted. It is understood, therefore, that the invention is not to be in any way limited except in accordance with the spirit of the appended claims and their equivalents.