Title:
Child's Car Seat Harness Storage System
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention relates to a child's car seat which may be used with or without an internal harness system, and, more specifically relates to a car seat with a means to store the internal harness system of the car seat when the car seat is being used without the harness system.



Inventors:
Meeker, Paul K. (Hiram, OH, US)
Gibson, William R. (Kent, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/942228
Publication Date:
05/21/2009
Filing Date:
11/19/2007
Assignee:
Meeker R&D, Inc. (Hiram, OH, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GARRETT, ERIKA P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAHN LOESER & PARKS, LLP (Cleveland, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A car seat with internal storage for a 5-point harness system which comprises: a seating surface having a first opening sized to accommodate at least a crotch belt, said crotch belt having a buckle at an end, and a pair of second openings for a left and right harness belt, said pair of second openings sized to permit ingress and egress of at least a portion of one end of said harness belt and a latch plate slidably affixed to each of said left and right harness belts; a back surface having a pair of openings, each sized to accommodate one opposed end of said left and a right harness belts, said back surface having a depressed transverse region across said back surface with a pair of openings at each side of said depressed region of said back surface dimensioned to accommodate a vehicle seat belt therethrough; and said seating surface having a pair of opposed first guide means, each first guide means accepting one of said harness belts.

2. The seat of claim 1 wherein said seating surface has a third opening dimensioned to accommodate said crotch belt buckle and at least a portion of said crotch belt for storage.

3. The seat of claim 1 wherein said seat further comprises a pair of opposed second guide means interposed between said pair of first guide means on said seat surface and said back surface pair of openings, each pair of second guide means accepting one of said harness belts.

4. The seat of claim 1 wherein each of said first guide means is a U-shaped slot.

5. The seat of claim 3 wherein each of said second guide means is a U-shaped slot.

6. The seat of claim 3 wherein each of said first guide means is angled with respect to a longitudinal axis of said seat.

7. The seat of claim 6 wherein said angle of said pair of first guide means is between approximately 30° and 60° to a longitudinal axis of said car seat; and said angle of said pair of second guide means is approximately 90° to said longitudinal axis.

8. The seat of claim 1 wherein said depressed transverse region accommodates a harness tie when said 5-point harness system is stored.

9. A process for storing a car seat harness system, said car seat having a seating surface, a back surface, a pair of left and right side surfaces, and an internal 5-point harness system wherein said harness system is stored when not in use without removing any components from said car seat and wherein said storage is achieved by the steps of: feeding a combination lap/shoulder belt under a first slotted and angled tab; folding said belt over said tab; and feeding said belt under a second slotted tab positioned transversely to a longitudinal axis of said car seat.

10. The process of claim 9 which further comprises the step of feeding a crotch strap with a buckle through an opening in said seating surface.

11. The process of claim 10 which further comprises the step of feeding each slidable latch plate affixed to each of said lap/shoulder belts through a pair of openings in said seating surface.

12. The process of claim 9 wherein said 5-point harness is equipped with a movable harness tie affixed to said lap/shoulder belts and wherein said process further comprises the step of moving said harness tie into a recessed transverse area disposed within said back surface of said seat.

13. A car seat with internal storage for a 5-point harness system which comprises: a seating surface having a first opening sized to accommodate a crotch belt, said crotch belt having a buckle at an end, and a pair of second openings for a left and right belt, said pair of second openings sized to permit ingress and egress of at least a portion of one end of said harness belt and a latch plate slidably affixed to each of said left and right harness belts; a back surface having a pair of openings, each sized to accommodate one opposed end of said left and a right harness belts, said back surface having a depressed transverse region across said back surface with a pair of openings at each side of said depressed region of said back surface dimensioned to accommodate a vehicle seat belt therethrough; said seating surface having a third opening dimensioned to accommodate said crotch belt buckle and at least a portion of said crotch belt for storage; said seating surface having a pair of opposed first guide means, each first guide means accepting one of said harness belts; and said seating surface having a pair of opposed second guide means interposed between said pair of first guide means on said seat surface and said back surface pair of openings, each second guide means accepting one of said harness belts.

14. The seat of claim 13 wherein each of said first guide means is a U-shaped slot about a tongue positioned within said guide means.

15. The seat of claim 14 wherein each of said first guide means is angled with respect to a longitudinal axis of said seat.

16. The seat of claim 15 wherein said angle of said pair of first guide means is between approximately 30° and 60° to a longitudinal axis of said car seat; and said angle of said pair of second guide means is approximately 90° to said longitudinal axis.

17. The seat of claim 13 wherein said depressed transverse region accommodates a harness tie when said 5-point harness system is stored.

18. A car seat with internal storage for a 5-point harness system which comprises: a seating surface having a first opening sized to accommodate a crotch belt and a crotch belt buckle affixed to one end of said crotch belt, and a pair of second openings for a left and right belt, said pair of second openings sized to permit ingress and egress of at least a portion of one end of said harness belt and a latch plate slidably affixed to each of said left and right harness belts; a back surface having a pair of openings, each sized to accommodate one opposed end of said left and a right harness belts, said back surface having a depressed transverse region across said back surface with a pair of openings at each side of said depressed region of said back surface dimensioned to accommodate a vehicle seat belt therethrough; and said seating surface having a pair of opposed first guide means, each first guide means accepting one of said harness belts.

19. The seat of claim 18 wherein said seat further comprises a pair of opposed second guide means interposed between said pair of first guide means on said seat surface and said back surface pair of openings, each pair of second guide means accepting one of said harness belts.

20. The seat of claim 18 wherein each of said first guide means is a U-shaped slot.

21. The seat of claim 19 wherein each of said second guide means is a U-shaped slo.

22. The seat of claim 18 wherein each of said first guide means is angled with respect to a longitudinal axis of said seat.

23. The seat of claim 22 wherein said angle of said pair of first guide means is between approximately 30° and 60° to a longitudinal axis of said car seat; and said angle of said pair of second guide means is approximately 90° to said longitudinal axis.

24. The seat of claim 18 wherein said depressed transverse region accommodates a harness tie when said 5-point harness system is stored.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to a child's car seat which may be used with or without an internal harness system, and, more specifically, a means to store an internal harness system of a child's car seat when the car seat is being used without the harness system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Children's car seats are well known and are used in combination with an auto seat belt to restrain children traveling in automobiles. Two types of car seats commonly used are belted car seats and booster car seats.

Belted car seats are secured to an automobile seat with an automobile seat belt, combination lap/shoulder belt system, or a supplemental LATCH (an acronym which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) belt attaching to special anchor points in an automobile. Belted car seats have an internal harness system that retains the child into the seat, generally a 5-point system with a crotch belt, left and right lap belt sections and left and right shoulder belt sections joined at a central buckle. Most internal harness systems also have a harness tie to locate the shoulder belt portions on the child's shoulders. They are typically used for children weighing between 22 and 40 or 65 pounds.

Booster car seats use only the combination automobile lap/shoulder systems passing in front of the child and booster seat to restrain the child. They are typically used for children weighing 30 to 80 or 100 pounds.

Some newer children's car seats are combination belted car seats and booster car seats. These seats are used with the internal harness until the child is over a specified maximum weight and then they are used as booster car seats.

In the past, it was necessary to remove the internal harness system when converting from use as a belted car seat to a booster car seat because the harness system buckles and harness tie would make uncomfortable seating for any occupant. It is easily seen that removing a multi-component harness system is inconvenient. But, more importantly, storing it apart from the car seat can lead to lost parts and misuse of the seat. Reinstallation can lead to improper installation, further misuse and inconvenience.

This invention makes using a car seat which converts from a belted seat to a booster seat and then back to a belted seat easier and safer by describing a means to store the harness system on the car seat such that no components need to be removed and no uncomfortable disruptions of the seating surface occur.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention is a child's car seat with a seating surface, a backrest surface and side surfaces. It also has a belt path through which an automobile seat belt (not shown) or a LATCH belt (not shown) may be threaded to secure the car seat to an automobile seat. It further has a 5-point harness system with a crotch belt with an attached buckle body, a combination left lap and shoulder belt with a sliding latch plate, a combination right lap and shoulder belt with a sliding latch plate, and various other components to add to utility or comfort, e.g., cup holders and arm rests. The seat is also equipped with a soft pad for comfort (not shown).

The crotch belt emerges from an opening in the seating surface. The combination lap/shoulder belts also emerge from openings in the seating surface, pass through sliding latch plates which removeably connect to the crotch strap buckle, and then pass through openings in the seat back. A harness tie is secured to the shoulder belts above the sliding latch plates and may be separable into left and right halves by a fastening means.

The invention utilizes an additional opening in the seating surface near to and in front of or optionally behind the crotch belt. This opening is sized to allow passage of the crotch strap buckle through the opening for storage, thereby minimizing the disruption of the essentially horizontal seating surface to the elevation of the thickness of the crotch belt when the crotch strap buckle is so stored. In addition, there are angled “U”-shaped slotted openings on both the left and right sides of the seating area near to and between each of the seat openings from which the lap belts emerge. Each of these openings is preferably angled at about 45 degrees, although both larger and smaller angles are envisioned to be within the scope of the invention. Each “U”-shaped slotted opening results in an attached central tongue. Additional “U”-shaped slotted openings are located near a rounded junction of the seat and back surfaces and generally between the first angled slotted openings and the second slotted openings in the seat back through which the shoulder belts pass.

To store the 5-point harness, one disconnects the sliding latch plates from the crotch strap buckle and feeds the buckle body through the opening in the seating surface in front of (or optionally behind) the crotch strap. Thus the crotch strap belt lies essentially flat on the seating surface and presents only a minimal deviation (limited to the thickness of the crotch strap) from the surface thereby maximizing seating comfort as the crotch strap buckle is stored beneath the seating surface.

Next, the sliding latch plates on the respective left and right lap/shoulder belts are slid downward and into their respective openings in the seat through which the lap belt emerges. They are thus stored beneath the seating surface.

One lap belt (e.g., the left lap belt) is threaded into the nearest side of the angled and slotted “U”-shaped opening and under the attached tongue. It is then folded over the attached tongue and fed under the attached tongue of the additional slotted “U”-shaped opening and travels onward. The right lap belt is similarly stored.

Finally, the harness tie is slid up or down on the shoulder belt until it is positioned over the recessed auto belt path. If desired, the harness tie may be separated into its two halves if so provided to allow a straighter path for the shoulder belts.

Like the crotch belt, the combination lap/shoulder belts lie on the surfaces of the seating surface and back surface and make no significant protrusion above the surface so as to maximize comfort to an occupant. All hard sliding latch plates are beneath the seating surface and pose no comfort issue and the harness tie is over a recess and also poses no comfort issue.

Thus, the 5-point harness is stored on the car seat without removal of any components and the car seat may now be used as a booster car seat. When it is desired to reconvert to a belted car seat, e.g., for a younger sibling or other second user, the process is simply reversed.

Therefore, it is an object of the invention to produce a car seat which can interconvert between a seat which may be used with or without an internal harness system in which a storage capacity exists beneath the seating surface which accommodates the buckle and latch plates of the internal harness system.

It is another object of the invention to illustrate a car seat in which the internal harness system is capable of being stored in a manner which minimizes any horizontal deviation above the plane of the seating surface, any such deviation being limited to the thickness of the belt of the harness system.

It is yet another object of this invention to allow easy storage of an internal harness of a belted car seat when using the car seat as a booster car seat.

It is still yet another object of this invention to allow said storage with no removal of components.

It is a further object of this invention to make internal belt storage completely and easily reversible.

It is a still further objective of this invention to maintain a smooth seating surface when an internal harness system is stored integrally within a car seat.

These and other objects of the present invention will become more readily apparent from a reading of the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals indicate similar parts, reference numerals using the designations “a” or “b” referring to mirror image components, and with further reference to the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of the car seat used as a belted car seat illustrating the internal harness system of the car seat in its use position;

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the car seat used as a booster car seat illustrating the internal harness system of the car seat in its storage position; and

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of an alternative embodiment of FIG. 1 illustrating an alternative storage location for the crotch strap and buckle and a raised tongue for internal harness belt path positioning.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings wherein the showings are for purposes of illustrating the preferred embodiment of the invention only and not for purposes of limiting the same, the figures show a harness storage system for a child's car seat, as well as other inventions.

Looking now at FIG. 1 a child's car seat 10 includes a seating surface 12, a backrest surface 14, left and right side surfaces 16a and 16b, recessed belt path 18 with left and right through openings 20a and 20b. Car seat 10 may also have additional features such as moveable headrest 22, armrests 24, or belt adjuster 26.

Car seat 10 is equipped with harness system 40 with crotch strap 42 which has attached buckle body 44. Crotch strap 42 emerges from and is secured beneath opening 45 in seating surface 12. Harness system 40 further has left and right lap belt portions 46a, 46b, connected left and right shoulder belt portions 48a, 48b, and left and right sliding latch plates 50a, 50b which are removeably secured to buckle body 44. Shoulder belt portions 48a, 48b may be equipped with harness tie 52 which may be one-piece or separable into left and right halves. Shoulder belt portions 48a, 48b pass through and are secured behind shoulder belt openings 54a, 54b in backrest surface 14. Lap belt portions 46a, 46b pass through and are secured behind left and right lap belt openings 50a and 50b.

In one embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, seating surface is also penetrated by crotch strap storage opening 80 and left and right angled and slotted U-shaped openings 82a, 82b generally between left and right lap belt openings 50a and 50b. In a second embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, crotch strap storage opening 80 is not present, and opening 45 is enlarged as illustrated in opening 45′ and dimensioned to accommodate buckle 44. Looking at FIG. 2, rounded junction 84 of seating surface 12 and back surface 14 is penetrated by left and right transverse slotted U-shaped openings 86a and 86b generally aligned between angled and slotted U-shaped openings 82a, 82b and shoulder belt openings 54a and 54b. Each slotted U-shaped opening has a central tongue 88. As is known in the art, slotted U-shaped openings may be recesses instead of through openings and central tongue 88 may be raised above the seating surface as an alternative construction as illustrated in FIG. 3.

Car seat 10 may be used as a belted car seat as described above and as shown in FIG. 1. In this case, car seat 10 is secured to an automobile seat (not shown) by means of an automobile seat belt or lap/seat belt combination or LATCH belt passing through recessed belt path 18 and openings 20a and 20b (the automobile seat belt not shown). A child (not shown) is then secured with harness system 40.

Car seat 10 may also be used as a booster car seat by not using harness system 40 and by routing automobile lap belt (not shown) across booster belt recesses 90a and 90b and auto shoulder belt through shoulder belt recess 92a or 92b (illustrated in FIG. 2) as appropriate. In this case, auto lap/shoulder belt retains both car seat 10 and child.

When harness system 40 is not used, it may be stored internally on car seat 10 without removal or disassembly as depicted in FIG. 2. To achieve this storage, left sliding latch 50a is disengaged from central buckle 44 and slid along left lap belt portion 46a and into left lap belt opening 50a. Left lap belt portion 46a is then fed under central tongue 88 of left angled U-shaped opening 82a and folded over same central tongue 88 and then fed under central tongue 88 of left transverse opening 86a. A like action is performed with corresponding right components. Harness tie 52 is slid to the general location of recessed belt path 18 where it will not rest on backrest surface 14. Attached buckle 44 of crotch strap 42 is fed into crotch strap storage opening 80.

It can be seen that harness assembly 40 is stored internally on car seat 10 with no removal of components and with no hardware resting on seating surface 12 or backrest surface 14 thus maintaining a comfortable seating surface. It can also be seen that the storage is easily reversible and that no components have been removed or disconnected from their normal attachments, except, of course, the normal disengagement of the latch plates 50 from attached buckle 44.

As illustrated in the preferred embodiment of this invention, left and right U-shaped slots 82a, 82b for left and right lap belt portions 46a, 46b are preferably shown as angled with respect to a center longitudinal axis through a middle of car seat 10. The angle can range from 0° (i.e., parallel) to 90° (normal to the axis), more preferably from 20° to 70°, still more preferably from 30° to 60°, and most preferably from 40° to 50°. Similarly, left and right transverse slotted openings 86a, 86b, for left and right shoulder belts 48a, 48b, are preferably normal to the central longitudinal axis, i.e., 90°, although the invention is not limited to such. However, the range of angularity is more limited than that for left and right U-shaped slots 82a, 82b and more typically ranges from 20° to 90°, more preferably from 45° to 90°, and most preferably 90°. It is recognized in this art, that when angle measurements are provided, that the degree of precision in either the manufacture or in the measurement thereof is approximate to within about 5°.

In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness and understanding; but no unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirements of the prior art, because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed. Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is by way of example, and the scope of the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described. This invention has been described in detail with reference to specific embodiments thereof, including the respective best modes for carrying out each embodiment. It shall be understood that these illustrations are by way of example and not by way of limitation.





 
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