Title:
Collapsible and expandable rolling storage system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rolling storage system includes a substantially cubical case or housing having top, bottom, side, front and rear walls. The side walls are formed of two semi-panels. A hinge is provided for attaching the side walls to the front and rear walls and the semi-panels of each side wall to each other to selectively move the semi-panels of each side wall from a substantially common plane when the case or housing open or expanded to substantially parallel adjacent planes when the case or housing is closed or collapsed. The front and rear walls move from remote spaced positions when the case is open or expanded to proximate positions when the case is closed or collapsed. The top and bottom walls are movable to allow the case to be collapsed. The top wall selectively provides access or closing the case or housing. A rolling member is provided for rolling the case or housing when open or expanded. At least one auxiliary case or housing is provided dimensioned to substantially correspond to dimensions of the case or housing and having a footprint to allow stacking above the top wall. In this way both the case and auxiliary case can be transported together when attached.



Inventors:
Panosian, Michael Harmik (Glendale, CA, US)
Keeler, Joshua (Glendale, CA, US)
Stobar, James (Glendale, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/001425
Publication Date:
06/11/2009
Filing Date:
12/10/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D8/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VOLZ, ELIZABETH J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael H. Panosian (Glendale, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A rolling storage system comprising a substantially cubical case or housing having top, bottom, side, front and rear walls, said side walls being formed of two semi-panels; hinge means for attaching said side walls to said front and rear walls and said semi-panels of each side wall to each other to selectively move said semi-panels of each side wall from a substantially common plane when said case or housing open or expanded to substantially parallel adjacent planes when said case or housing is closed or collapsed, said front and rear walls moving from remote spaced positions when said case is open or expanded to proximate positions when said case is closed or collapsed, said top and bottom walls being movable to allow said case to be collapsed; said top wall selectively providing access or closing said case or housing; rolling means for rolling said case or housing when open or expanded; and at least one auxiliary case or housing dimensioned to substantially correspond to dimensions of said case or housing and having a footprint to allow stacking above said top wall, whereby both said case and auxiliary case can be transported together when attached.

2. A storage system as defined in claim 1, wherein said walls are formed of thin metal sheet material.

3. A storage system as defined in claim 1, wherein said rolling means are attached to said semi-panel closest to said rear wall and move therewith into a plane parallel to said rear wall when said case is collapsed.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to storage devices, and more specifically to a collapsible and expandable rolling storage system.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Numerous storage devices have been proposed for a multitude of products and applications. Most storage products are rigid and not collapsible and require much space even when empty. Other storage products are collapsible but they are not mobile nor designed to be easily transported whether empty or full. There are numerous instances, however, when items, such as tools, must be transported to a work site and must be sufficiently sturdy to move relatively heavy objects. Prior Art storage devices have not provided the combined benefits of strength, mobility and expandability when the load needs to be increased beyond what a basic storage module can receive.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In order to overcome the disadvantages of the Prior Art devices, a collapsible and expandable rolling storage system in accordance with the invention provides a number of advantages in one product. These include strength, mobility and expandability. The storage device according to the invention is sufficiently strong and sturdy to carry heavy objects, such as tools, while being sufficiently lightweight to allow the unit to be easily and conveniently transported even at full load. When expandability is important the invention contemplates the use of an additional auxiliary module that can be stacked on the basic module to essentially double the capacity of the storage system without compromising the mobility of the system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other objects will become apparent when the drawings of the present invention are considered in detail along with the specification, taken with the drawings as follows:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a collapsible and expandable storage system in accordance with the present invention, illustrating a basic rolling module and a stacked auxiliary module mounted thereon;

FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the basic rolling module shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the auxiliary module shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective of a rendering of the collapsible and expandable rolling storage system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the basic rolling module shown in FIG. 2, shown with a handle in a retracted position;

FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 5, but showing the top cover partially opened in a first step to collapse the basic rolling module;

FIG. 7 is similar to FIGS. 5 and 6, showing a further stage of collapse by folding in the side or lateral walls;

FIG. 8 is similar to FIGS. 5-7, but showing the basic rolling module in a fully collapsed condition;

FIG. 9 is a perspective of a rendering of the fully collapsed basic rolling module shown in FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a rear perspective view of the basic rolling module shown in FIG. 5, showing a latch capable of being locked with, for example, a padlock for preventing the top cover of the module from being opened;

FIG. 11 is a front perspective view of a rendering of the basic rolling module shown in FIG. 2; and

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a rendering illustrating the various component modules of the collapsible and expandable rolling storage system in various stages of assembly.

These and other objects will become apparent when the drawings of the present invention are considered in detail along with the specification, taken with the drawings as follows:

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now more specifically to the drawings, in which the identical or similar parts will be designated by the same reference numerals throughout, and first referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a collapsible and expandable rolling storage system in accordance with the invention is generally designated by the reference numeral 10.

The storage system 10 includes a basic rolling lower module 12 and an auxiliary module 14 that can be selectively stacked on the basic rolling module 12.

The basic rolling module 12 includes a pair of laterally positioned wheels 16 rotatably mounted on an axle 18 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 5-12. While the wheels 16 are located at the rear of the basic rolling module (as viewed in FIG. 1), a pair of legs, standoffs or spacers 20 are provided along the front of the units (FIGS. 1, 2) to support the module 12 and a generally maintain it in an upright orientation when freestanding as shown in FIG. 1. Provided, generally centrally between the wheels 16 and extending generally vertically, it is a telescoping handle 22, formed of telescoping sections 24, 26 (FIG. 2) to which any suitable handgrip 28 is provided at the upper end of the section 26. The specific construction of the telescoping handle 22 is not critical and any telescoping or other handle may be used. Preferably, the entire handle 22 may be collapsed and received within the basic rolling module 12 when not in use, as suggested in FIGS. 3, 5-8.

The basic rolling module 12 is provided with a cover 30 which may be selectively opened to provide access to the interior of the module while covering and closing the module when not in use or while being moved or transported.

The basic rolling module 12 is generally in the shape of a rectangular housing or enclosure (FIGS. 10,11). The front and rear walls 42, 60 of the housing 12 are generally unitary and rigid. The top wall or cover 30 and a may be provided with surface recesses 32, 34 (FIG. 3) to rigidify these walls. In an alternate design, the top cover or wall 30 may be provided with a recess 36 effectively providing rigidifying structure and the recess 36 is also used to receive a lower portion or footprint inherent in the upper module 14 to position and secure the same from shifting laterally or relative to the basic module 12 when the upper module is supported by the lower or basic module.

Provided on the front wall is a latch 38 for locking and selectively releasing the cover 30. Referring to FIG. 5, a recess 40 may be provided in the cover 30, proximate to the latch 38 for providing any suitable locking mechanism for selectively locking the cover 30 in its closed position even if the latch 38 is inadvertently moved. However, when the cover 30 is not locked, such as with a padlock, gripping of the latch 38 and pulling it forward releases the cover 30 to move it to a position as suggested in FIG. 6. Again, the specific structure for locking or releasing the cover 30 is not critical and any known locking/releasing devices may be used.

The front wall 42 of the basic rolling module 12 is generally flat as shown, although it may also have some slight surface curvature for strength and for aesthetic purposes. The front and rear walls may be made of any suitable material, such as plastic, lightweight aluminum or any other suitable and generally stiff material. The sidewalls 46 (FIG. 5) are preferably each formed of two articulated sections or panels 48, 50 each of which has two lateral edges and that are hinged to either one of the front or rear walls or to each other as shown. Thus, for example, the two sections 48, 50 may be hinged to each other along a hinge 52, such as a piano hinge. The edges of the panels 48, 50 remote from the central hinge 52 are themselves hinged to one of the front and/or rear walls 42, 60 respectively. Each of the articulated sections 48, 50 may be formed of a stamped profile to create outer and inner offset surfaces 54, 56, respectively. To do so increases for strength of the sections 48, 50 to allow the sections to be made of relatively thin materials while preserving the integrity or strength of these sections. Openings 58 may be provided at the upper ends of each of the sections 48, 50 which are dimensioned to allow the hand of a user to at least partially pass through these openings to facilitate gripping, opening, closing and other manipulations of the module while opening or collapsing of the module.

Referring to FIG. 10, the rear wall 60, as well as the rear section or lateral panel 50, are provided with the recess to form a well 62 generally conforming to the shape of the wheels 16 so that the wheels are recessed and generally arranged in the planes of the lateral sidewalls 46. The wheels do not extend beyond the footprint of the lower rolling module 12 when fully expanded or in the working condition. This renders the lower module as compact as possible. The handgrip 28 may also fold downwardly, when the handle telescoping members 24, 26 are fully collapsed, into the rear walls 60, shown in FIG. 10.

As suggested, a portion of the latch 38 may extend into the recess 40 so that a padlock 68 may be engaged to prevent the latch 38 from inadvertently opening. The recess 40 also provides a space for receiving a padlock without protruding above the upper surface of the cover 30 so that the padlock 68 does not interfere with the positioning of a subsidiary or auxiliary module 14 above the main module even when received within the recess of the cover 30 between the ridge or lip 36 formed thereby.

FIG. 4 is a three-dimensional rendering of the collapsible rolling storage system in accordance with the invention, with the subsidiary or auxiliary module 14 stacked on and secured to the top of the basic rolling module 12. The handgrip 28 extends above the auxiliary module when the handle is fully telescoped upwardly to allow unhampered grasping of the handgrip 28 even in the stacked condition of units.

Referring to FIGS. 5-8 the procedure for expanding and collapsing the lower basic module 12 will be described. In FIG. 5, with the lower module fully expanded, as during use, any padlock 68 (FIGS. 10,11) or other locking mechanism is initially disabled and removed to allow the latch 38 to be actuated. Once the latch 38 is pulled out forward, for example, the cover 30 is released. Suitable internal or interior tracks (not shown) are provided on each lateral side extending longitudinally proximate to the rear wall 60 for slidably receiving the cover 30. Once the cover is raised approximately 90 degrees to be in a substantially vertical plane, the cover can be lowered along the tracks and be received within the module as to shown in FIG. 7. Once the cover 30 is no longer in place to fix the positions of the lateral articulated sections 48, 50 of the side or lateral panels 46, these panels 46 can be folded about to the central hinge 52 as shown FIG. 7. This brings the front and rear walls closer to each other in substantially adjacent planes, as suggested in FIG. 18. Suitable latches 80 may be used to lock the front and rear walls in the collapsed condition, this preventing inadvertent opening of the module. In FIG. 11 the lower basic module is in a fully expanded condition while FIG. 9 illustrates the module in its fully collapsed position. It will be appreciated that the described construction allows the lower module to be collapsed to occupy a small fraction of the original space or footprint taken by the expanded module. This allows the lower module to provide a substantial amount of internal volume for storage of items, such as tools, while occupying virtually a very small fraction of the volume for purposes of shipping and storing the module when not in use. In FIG. 12, renderings are illustrated showing the overall system in which the collapsed module is shown together with an expanded module to contrast the space saving when the module is collapsed while providing a significant amount of internal space for storage or transportation of items, such as tools. Also shown in FIG. 12 are additional auxiliary or upper modules 14 that can be used with a single lower basic rolling module. That allows, for example, a worker to store basic tools in a lower module 12, while different upper modules can each be used to store more specialized tools or materials for specific jobs or projects. Thus, the upper module may be used to store tools for carpentry, for electrical work, for plumbing work, etc. In this way, a worker can use the lower basic rolling module 12 to transport basic tools as well as more specialized tools by selecting an appropriate upper module 14.

While the preferred embodiments have been shown and described, it will be understood that the there is no intention to limit the invention by such disclosure, but rather, it is the intention to cover all modifications and alternate constructions falling within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.