Title:
Umbrella system with support for internal storage of cover and external sliding ribs and stretchers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to an umbrella system, substantially comprising an umbrella with elements that include a hollow shaft, a cover, as well as a frame consisting of ribs and stretchers mounted on the exterior of the hollow shaft. When retracted, the cover is stowed inside the shaft. When deployed, the umbrella's cover is supported by ribs and stretchers as well as by the shaft. Ribs and stretchers slide along the hollow shaft's exterior as the invention's cover is deployed and retracted.

This configuration of deployment elements is not seen in the prior art of umbrella construction. It allows use of accouterments that expand the invention's use and convenience.

The umbrella may be constructed using materials having low coefficients of electrical conductivity such fiberglass, plastics, or composites, thereby reducing shock risks. The manner of the invention's construction also enhances its ability to resist damage due to excessive wind as well as unwanted transfer of moisture from its retracted cover.




Inventors:
Beyer, Andrea Elgin (Staten Island, NY, US)
Beyer, Steven Larsen (Staten Island, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/074926
Publication Date:
09/10/2009
Filing Date:
03/07/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
135/16, 135/34.2
International Classes:
A45B25/00; A45B25/02; A45B25/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HAWK, NOAH CHANDLER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Andrea Elgin Beyer (Staten Island, NY, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An umbrella structure comprising: (a) a cover, a substantially hollow shaft, a plurality of elongated elements providing means for urging and supporting said cover relative to said hollow shaft, (b) a plurality of elements providing means to stabilize said plurality of elongated elements, (c) said cover providing means to substantially shield underlying space from certain environmental factors, (d) said hollow shaft providing means to substantially contain said cover when the cover is retracted, (e) cooperating elements providing means for ribs and stretchers to substantially slide as they urge said cover relative to said hollow shaft.

2. An umbrella structure comprising: (a) a cover, a hollow shaft, a plurality of ribs, a plurality of stretchers, and a plurality of cooperating deployment elements, (b) said cover providing means to substantially shield underlying space from environmental agents including rain, snow, and direct sunlight, (c) said hollow shaft providing means for substantially containing said cover when the cover is retracted, (d) said ribs and said stretchers, mounted externally on said hollow shaft, provide means to substantially support said cover, while the cover is deployed, (e) said cooperating elements providing means for said externally mounted ribs to substantially slide into their deployed positions, (f) cooperating elements substantially including a plurality of rib collimators, deployment slider, track slot, and stretcher-rib sliders mounted on the outside of said hollow shaft.

3. An umbrella structure comprising: (a) a cover, a hollow shaft, a plurality of ribs, a plurality of stretchers, and a plurality of cooperating elements, (b) said cover providing means for substantially shielding space beneath from certain environmental factors, (c) said hollow shaft providing means for substantially containing said cover, when the cover is retracted, (d) said hollow shaft providing means for supporting additional elements of said umbrella including a plurality of said ribs and a plurality of said stretchers, (e) Said ribs and said stretchers, mounted externally on said hollow shaft, provide means to act as trusses, in support of said cover, when said cover is deployed, (f) said cooperating elements providing means for said externally mounted ribs to substantially slide, along and parallel to, exterior of said hollow shaft while said cover is being deployed and retracted.

4. The umbrella structure of claim 3, wherein said plurality of ribs, said plurality of stretchers, and said cooperating elements, mounted externally to said hollow shaft provide means to urge said cover relative to said hollow shaft.

5. The umbrella structure of claim 4, wherein said plurality of ribs are attached at their lower ends to a slider, said slider providing means to transmit forces to said ribs and cooperating elements thereby urging said cover's during deployment and retraction operations.

6. The umbrella structure of claim 5, wherein said hollow shaft contains a plurality of track slots that provide means for the guidance and transmission of urging force communicated from said deployment elements located exterior to said hollow shaft to said deployment elements located within the hollow shaft.

7. The umbrella structure of claim 6, wherein: (a) said cover is attached at its center to a cover hub slider substantially contained within said hollow shaft, (b) said cover hub slider providing means for the substantial central support of said cover, (c) said cover hub slider provides means for transmitting urging force to said cover, (d) said ribs and said stretchers, mounted externally on said hollow shaft, move relative to said hollow shaft during deployment and retractions of said canopy, (e) the ribs and the stretchers substantially slide longitudinally, radially, or in combination thereof, relative to said hollow shaft as said cover is urged relative to said hollow shaft, (f) said ribs are linked to said cover hub slider providing means for cooperative movement during deployment and retraction of said cover, (g) a water resistant cap provides means for substantial interdiction of unwanted liquid water flow from the interior of said hollow shaft while said cover is in a retracted position, while additionally providing means for passage of water vapor by osmosis through a selectively permeable membrane, accumulating such moisture in an absorbant material, then subsequently allowing release of said moisture by diffusion to the external ambient air via a plurality of vent orifices, (h) a water resistant elongated gasket provides means for substantially interdicting unwanted water flow from said hollow shaft via said track slot while said cover is in its stowed location, said elongated gasket also providing means for progressive passage of said deployment slider—cover hub slider slot link along the track slot during urging operations relating to the deployment of said cover, (i) an outer sheath that when deployed provides means to substantially encompass said hollow shaft, said ribs, said stretchers, and cooperating elements when said cover is stowed within the hollow shaft.

8. The umbrella of claim 7, wherein said ribs, said stretchers, said rib collimators, and said track slot are oriented so as to provide means for their urging along a substantially helical path relative to the primary longitudinal axis of said hollow shaft.

9. The umbrella of claim 3, wherein said hollow shaft contains a collapsible sleeve providing means to be extended, thereby substantially covering said hollow shaft and cooperating elements.

10. The umbrella of claim 3, wherein said hollow shaft and cooperating elements are encompassed by an external handle cylinder providing means for service as an extended handle after said handle cylinder is substantially urged relative to said hollow shaft.

11. The umbrella of claim 3, wherein retractable support elements provide means that enable free standing use of substantial embodiments of said invention.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

(Not Applicable)

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

(Not Applicable)

REFERENCE TO A SEQUENCE LISTING.

(Not Applicable)

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many types of umbrellas are in use worldwide. Outdoor experiences are enhanced by their availability for the interdiction of adverse environmental factors. Umbrella sizes range from small handheld models to large mounted structures capable of shielding several people.

Along with known benefits of umbrellas, it is generally acknowledged that some vexing issues may compromise their use. Excessive wind is a particular bane. Handheld models are often subject to irreversible damage during high wind events. It is not unusual to see many wrecked and discarded umbrellas along sidewalks-after windy storms. While the delicate linkages in many handheld umbrellas are particularly subject to wind damage, even the more substantial “garden” varieties may also suffer.

In addition to concerns about survivability of umbrellas in wind, the possibility of electrocution during lightning storms is also an issue. Furthermore, after rain ceases, furled wet and dripping handheld umbrella covers can be a nuisance. Although umbrellas are often purchased with supplementary sleeves for storage, in practice these accessories tend to be misplaced and unused.

The present invention solves important umbrella issues including 1) secure storage of cover, 2) durability, 3) control of moisture from the stored cover, and 4) reduction of potential for injury from electric hazards.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

United States Patent Class 135/15.1; 19.5; 135/20; 135/22; 135/25.1; 25.33; 25.41; 28; 31; 33.2; 33.7

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

139,295May 1873Chevers
429,160June 1890Sprague
892,813July 1908Dolles
1,885,968November 1932Wedemann
2,164,242August 1938Henry135/33
3,534,752October 1970Vanzini135/20
4,202,363May 1980Watts et al135/98
4,422,468December 1983Wilson135/97
5,188,137February 1993Simonelli135/19.5
5,385,162January 1995Wu135/48
5,690,131November 1997Voigt135/19.5
6,273,111August 2001Weiss et al135/25.41
6,338,353January 2002Chen135/20.3
6,345,637February 2002Ko135/22
6,571,814June 2003You135/33.7
6,672,323January 2004Gupta et al135/136
6,701,947March 2004Ramos135/34
6,766,814July 2004Perreault135/31
6,805,144October 2004Usui et al135/34.2
7,178,535February 2007Eder135/28

Striving to provide reliable and efficient deployment, support, and retraction of umbrella covers, inventors have proposed many solutions.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 139,295, to Chevers, May 27, 1873 teaches a combination umbrella and cane with hollow shaft, having detachable cap and ferrule to adapt the invention for alternate use as a cane. Cover, ribs, and stretchers are stored within the hollow shaft during use as a cane. For use as an umbrella, stowed elements are removed from an opening at one end of the shaft and screwed onto the shaft's opposite end, thereby enabling the device's function as an umbrella. While the invention's main advantage is optional use as either cane or umbrella, internal storage of the cover has serendipitous advantages including reducing moisture transfer to external surfaces.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 429,160, to Sprague, Jun. 3, 1890 describes an eye and “U” loop method of connecting ribs and stretchers of an umbrella canopy allowing relatively easy replacement of broken rib and stretcher components. Today, frame breakage due to excessive wind remains a common correlate of umbrella use.

An enduring source of vexation for umbrella users is the tendency of wet umbrella covers, stowed externally around folded frame and shaft, to drip on surfaces such as clothing, luggage, floors, interiors of vehicles, and furniture. Deposition of such moisture can result in unsightliness, discomfort, perhaps even permanent damage.

Concerns, both practical and esthetic are related to externally stowed umbrella covers. Such covers allow transfer of water to surfaces that normally are dry.

In teaching internal containment of umbrella covers several of the inventors cited below refer to internal storage as it relates to the dripping cover issue. References are also seen to the appearance of unkempt, wet umbrella covers furled outside folded umbrella frames.

Concerns associated with the containment of umbrella covers have long engaged inventors.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 892,813, to Dolles, Jul. 7, 1908 teaches an umbrella whose cover, ribs, stretchers, and stick, when collapsed, are capable of being retracted into a hollow shaft.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 1,885,968, to Wedemann, Nov. 1, 1932, describes an umbrella cover somewhat similar to that of Dolles, with added provision for a telescoping stick and segmented, folding ribs.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 2,164,242, to Henry, Jun. 27, 1939, teaches an umbrella comprised of a hollow shaft constructed and assembled to provide means for housing the umbrella cover and frame in said shaft.

Rather than enclosing conventually downward folded umbrella rib and stretcher linkages within a hollow shaft, alternate solutions have been proposed involving upward folding.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 3,534,752, to Vanzini, Oct. 20, 1970, teaches internal storage of an umbrella cover, as well as upwardly folded ribs and stretchers within a hollow umbrella shaft. Furthermore a method of twisting said elements during closing of the umbrella is described.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 5,188,137, to Simonelli, Feb. 23, 1993, teaches an umbrella consisting of a hollow shaft with open top, a collapsible cover mounted on said shaft, and a mechanism for operating said cover so that when it is placed in a closed position it is stored within the hollow shaft. When this invention's cover is to be opened, a plurality of ribs is said to urge it outward from the open top above the hollow shaft. No stretchers are indicated in this invention.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 5,690,131 to Voigt, Nov. 25, 1997, also teaches an umbrella cover stowed within a hollow shaft, as well as a plurality of flexible strips that pass between roller bearings as they urge the cover during deployment. As in the above example, no stretchers are included in this invention.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,273,111, to Weiss et al, Aug. 14, 2001, teaches a retractable umbrella including a cover, a plurality of ribs, and a plurality of stretchers. Said cover is supported at its center by an extended shaft, and on its periphery by attachment to tips of said ribs. No additional cover support is indicated. Said cover and frame elements are contained within a hollow shaft when folded.

The additional issue of potential damage to umbrella mechanisms while deployed has been considered by a number of inventors.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,345,637, Feb. 12, 2002, to Ko teaches an automatic opening, wind resistant, umbrella structure made of fiberglass reinforced plastics. It describes an improved and simplified construction having enhanced strength.

A particularly resilient material having potential for use with umbrella frame construction is seen in the following teaching.

EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,672,323, to Gupta, et al, Jan. 6, 2004, describes a multipurpose self-erecting structure providing advanced insect protection and storage characteristics. It is primarily designed to provide military sleeping accommodations for individual soldiers while also having folded dimensions that allow containment and transportation within a soldier's rucksack. Gupta proposes use of a material composed of vinyl polyester and fiberglass in combination, with trade name “vinylester”, for use in flexible extended elements of the invention's frame. An additional advantage of employing non-metallic materials, having low intrinsic coefficients of electrical conductivity, in umbrella construction is that such use reduces the risk associated with use during electric storms.

Prior art provides examples of attempts to devise forms of enclosure, other than within a hollow shaft, for shielding umbrella covers when said covers are in retracted modes.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,805,144, to Usui et al, proposes a set of telescoping thin walled cylinders, each concentric with the umbrella's stick. These cylinders, graded in a sequence of diameters, extend to form a substantially conical envelope enclosing the furled cover and rib system of a handheld umbrella.

Other solutions include:

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,701,947 B1, Mar. 9, 2004, to Ramos, who describes a flexible bag for containment of a wet umbrella, additionally providing means for later disposal of water accumulated from said umbrella.

REFERENCES TO SPECIFIC PROBLEMS OF RELATED ART

Extensive and varied examples of umbrella prior art beg the question of why many of the solutions taught are not commonly seen actualized in the marketplace. Certain umbrella concerns remain issues because devices, including many of those referenced above apparently have innate disadvantages. Examination of several teachings addressing concerns about the tendency of umbrella coverings to drip while furled reveal pervasive problems.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 139,295, May 27, 1873, to Chevers teaches a combination umbrella and cane with hollow shaft, with detachable cap and ferrule to adapt it for use as a cane. While this invention offers protection to its stowed cover, the sequence of manual operations required appears to be cumbersome for convenient transitions between cane and umbrella modes.

Concerns about broken canopy deployment and support elements have been addressed.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 429,160, Jun. 3, 1890 to Sprague describes an improved eye and “U” loop method of connecting ribs and stretchers of an umbrella canopy. It was noted that the invention allows relative ease of replacement of broken rib and stretcher components. Today, over a century later, fragile structural elements of many handheld umbrellas remain vulnerable to wind damage. Furthermore, in today's economy, the labor intensive process of repairing umbrella mechanisms is not cost effective.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,338,353, Jan. 15, 2002, to Chen, teaches a handheld four segment umbrella comprising a shank, rib assembly, opening spring, control mechanism, and a plurality of rib linkage elements. Structures taught are complex and fragile. Components are in the tradition of umbrella deployment structures vulnerable to irreversible damage from excessive wind forces. This invention exemplifies the evolution of rib and stretcher deployment and support mechanisms that provide for compactness at the price of increased fragility. The plethora of delicate metal parts taught in this invention allows considerable risk for permanent damage from deforming forces including those associated with wind. Examination of urban sidewalks after wind storms can provide ample demonstrations of umbrella wreckage, attesting to the need for innovative, more durable umbrella construction.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 7,174,906, Feb. 13, 2007, to Ko teaches a folding umbrella frame having sets of six ribs, arranged as linkages. It further exemplifies ubiquitous, fragile construction of some contemporary handheld umbrella deployment mechanisms. Use of materials having increased strength to weight ratio compared to metals are also taught. Although large outdoor umbrellas of the “garden” variety are often constructed of wood having relatively low coefficients of electrical conductivity, many umbrellas, particularly handheld models, are substantially made of metal. Such construction increases dangers from ambient high voltage electricity such as that associated with lightning storms.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,345,637, Feb. 12, 2002, to Ko teaches an automatic opening wind resistant umbrella structure made of fiberglass reinforced plastics. It describes an improved and simplified construction, reinforced combination strength, plus reduced opportunity for conduction of electricity. However the invention still contains fragile linkage joints susceptible to high wind events that might exceed elastic limits of plastic elements, possibly resulting in permanent damage to the umbrella.

Further examples of internal storage of umbrella cover such as those of covers as taught.

For Example, U.S. Pat. No. 2,164,242, Aug. 6, 1938, to Henry, teaches an umbrella with a two segment telescoping shaft that may be extended to encompass a furled covering and retracted frame. However the covering, when deployed, is kept in place exclusively by ribs. As is inherent in such arrangements, gusts of winds tend to invert frames consisting only of ribs that lack the reinforcement provided by stretchers.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 5,188,137, to Simonelli, Feb. 23, 1993, teaches an umbrella cover deployed and supported by a set of flexible arching elongated elements. As in the previous example, a significant difficulty with this system is relatively low rigidity provided to its deployed cover. In order to provide sufficient flexibility during cover deployment, minimally supported ribs may prove to be too flexible for effective service in windy conditions. Umbrella ribs unsupported by stretchers appear capable of responding with considerable flexure to external forces including those induced by a walking umbrella user.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 5,690,131 to Voigt, Nov. 25, 1997, Although use of roller bearings appears to facilitate deployment of an internally stowed cover, when actually deployed this invention's cover would appear to suffer the same lack of rigidity seen in the teaching of Simonelli. In practice, it remains hard to imagine an elongated member capable of bending from an essentially vertical orientation during cover storage, then curling to a radial configuration, while also being capable, without additional support, of resisting compromising effects of wind and other potentially deforming forces.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,273,111, Aug. 14, 2001, to Weiss et al takes note of the above limitations. In an attempt to eliminate issues of cover flopping during deployed modes, Weiss et al teaches use of a set of radial extending arms supported from above by a corresponding support arm. The umbrella's cover is in turn centrally supported by an extended shaft, and peripherally by tips of essentially horizontal extending arms. At least two concerns with the invention are apparent. It's cover appears free to vibrate in the wind inasmuch as it is not attached to any support member between said cover's center and the cover's periphery. This configuration appears to be unable to enforce ample congruency between cover and extended ribs. That condition, in turn, would allow reduced cover tautness compared to that commonly seen in umbrella covers that are fully deployed. Furthermore, by their inherent rigidity, extending ribs of this disclosure appear rather vulnerable to excessive winds that could exceed structural limitations, thereby resulting in permanent deformation. Such unfortunate results are commonly seen in damaged umbrellas. Although apparently more resistant to inversion than the two previous examples., the cover of this invention does appear to be subject to excessive floppiness. An additional concern relates to the manner in which this invention's center shaft extends downwards from the containment chamber during cover retraction. Rather than a more conventional example, where a compact umbrella's stick retracts by telescoping into a wider upper member, here we see taught a stick extension during retraction that doubles the in-service length of this umbrella. It appears to be a rather cumbersome solution.

Another issue of umbrella construction is a tendency of wet covers on handheld models to drip after being furled. Clothing, contents of brief cases, purses, flooring, and furniture all may be compromised by coming into contact with wet retracted umbrellas. Internal storage of covers have been proposed in the these examples as solutions to this issue.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,701,947 B1, Mar. 9, 2004, to Ramos, describes a flexible bag used to contain a wet umbrella while providing means for later disposal of water accumulated from said umbrella.

In order to shield a furled cover and cooperating deployment and support elements external attached coverings are taught.

FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 6,805,144, Oct. 19, 2004, to Usui et al, proposes a set of nesting thin walled cylinders concentric with the shaft of an umbrella. These extend in a series, forming an essentially conical envelope enclosing the retracted cover and rib system of a handheld umbrella. Such cylinders appear to present a somewhat unwieldy package when retracted on an umbrella stick.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

From the descriptions above, advantages of our umbrella deployment, support, and containment system become evident. Accordingly, several objects and advantages of the present invention are:

(a) The invention provides enclosed storage space for an umbrella's retracted cover, thereby substantially preventing wet covers from transferring liquid water to exterior surfaces. The invention provides means to collect unwanted interior moisture in absorbant material and subsequently allowing passage of this moisture, by the process of evaporation, through orifices to the outside air.

(b) Internal storage of said cover also has the advantage of mitigating potential damage to the cover while said cover is not in active service.

(c) The umbrella cover is deployed and supported by externally mounted ribs. Ribs are in turn substantially stabilized and reinforced by means of cooperation with a plurality of stretchers thereby forming essentials of a truss system. These structures obviate several inherent instabilities associated with certain examples of internally stowed umbrella canopies and rib elements seen in prior art.

(d) The ribs and stretchers substantially slide along the exterior of the umbrella's hollow shaft as they serve to urge the cover relative to the hollow shaft.

(e) Allowance for umbrella construction with materials having low coefficients of electric conductivity to minimize potential electrical dangers.

Further objects and advantages of the present invention include the following. The invention's deployment of covers via connections among elongated elements including ribs and stretchers are specifics not seen in prior art. This invention is simple to operate and cost effective to manufacture. Such factors encourage the invention's use with umbrellas having a variety of sizes and applications.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

These and other features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following descriptions and drawings. Like reference numerals represent like elements in the several views, and in which:

SHEET 1/6

FIG. 1 partial sectional view of a typical embodiment with its cover deployed.

FIG. 2 plane indication, of partial sectional view FIG. 1

SHEET 2/6

FIG. 3 plane indication, of partial sectional view FIG. 4

FIG. 4 enlarged partial sectional view of upper portion of a typical embodiment, cover deployed

SHEET 3/6

FIG. 5 plane indication, of partial sectional view FIG. 6

FIG. 6 enlarged partial sectional view of upper portion of a typical embodiment, cover retracted

SHEET 4/6

FIG. 7 elevation view of an alternate embodiment with a moisture release cap at upper end, and track slot gasket in place at track slot, umbrella cover retracted

FIG. 8 elevation of another alternate embodiment with a helical track slot,.umbrella cover retracted

FIG. 9 top view of cap, showing sectional plane FIG. 10

FIG. 10 sectional view of cap

FIG. 11 sectional view of yet another alternate embodiment showing cover-rib tether and tether link

SHEET 5/6

FIG. 12 partial sectional view, an additional alternate embodiment with sleeve storage vessel

FIG. 13 plane indication, sectional view 12

FIG. 14 elevation showing deployed sleeve

SHEET 6/6

FIG. 15 elevation showing yet another additional alternative embodiment with handle cylinder retracted.

FIG. 16 elevation showing yet another additional alternative embodiment with handle cylinder extended.

FIG. 17 elevation showing support elements of a large, embodiment, with supports in extended mode

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMERALS UTILIZED IN THE DRAWING

10 hollow shaft

20 upper transition element

30 cover

40 cover hub slider

45 cover-cover hub attachment devices

50 rib

60 rib collimator

70 stretcher

80 cover-rib-stretcher fastener

90 stretcher-rib slider

100 deployment slider

110 deployment slider upper fastener

120 deployment slider lower fastener

130 track slot

140 deployment slider-cover hub slider slot link

150 membrane support

160 cap

170 orifices

180 vapor permeable membrane

190 absorbant material

200 track slot gasket/internal moisture barrier

210 cover-rib tether

220 tether link

230 sleeve storage vessel

240 sleeve

250 handle cylinder

260 support elements

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A typical embodiment of this invention is shown on SHEET 1/6, FIG. 1, as an umbrella with a hollow shaft 10, providing means for containment, deployment, support, and retraction of a cover 30. Cover 30 is urged relative to the hollow shaft 10, and subsequently supported in cooperation with a frame substantially consisting of a plurality of externally mounted ribs 50 and stretchers 70.

The invention's ribs and stretchers are in turn supported and guided by elements including a deployment slider 100 and a plurality of rib collimators 60. These provide means for orderly urging of ribs and stretchers relative to the hollow shaft. Said urging results from forces applied directly to slider 100, or by means of alternate methods such as turning a crank, pulling a cord, or activating a motor, the umbrella's cover 30 is transported from within the hollow shaft 10 to its deployed configuration. When deployed, cover 30 is substantially supported by said ribs 50, stretchers 70, and cooperating elements. The invention's cover deployment elements are additionally guided by one or more track slots 130 located along the invention's hollow shaft 10.

Description of Components

The invention is distinct from configurations and mechanisms seen in prior art. Its cover storage, deployment, and support system is unique in the field of umbrella construction and usage. The essence of this distinction may be seen in a typical embodiment of the invention, shown in sheets 1/6, 2/6 and 3/6.

In this particular example the invention includes a hollow shaft 10 sufficiently rigid to support attached elements and also serve as a handle. The upper end of said hollow shaft 10 terminates with upper transition element 20. The disclosed invention also includes a plurality of cooperating deployment elements including the following. A plurality of ribs 50, are each sufficiently flexible to be guided by rib collimators 60 that are, in turn, attached near the top of hollow shaft 10. The lower ends of ribs 50 connect to deployment slider 100. Additionally, each of a plurality of stretchers 70 is attached at its lower end to a stretcher-rib slider 90. Individual stretchers 70 are additionally attached at their upper ends to a rib 50 by means of an intervening cover-rib-stretcher fastener 80. Cover 30, when deployed, is supported by the plurality of ribs 50 in cooperation with said plurality of stretchers 70 and hollow shaft 10.

Components of a typical embodiment generally comprise materials having low coefficients of electrical conductivity for enhanced safety, especially during lightning storms. Dimensions of embodiments are fundamentally predicated by the size of cover 40.

Storage Component Connections

SHEET 2/6, FIG. 4 illustrates an upper portion of hollow shaft 10. In a typical embodiment of the present invention, said hollow shaft 10 provides an internal storage site for umbrella cover 30.

Hollow shaft 10 additionally provides means for the support of a plurality of elements constituting the invention's deployment system. System elements include ribs 50, rib collimators 60, deployment slider 100, and stretchers 70. Each rib 50 is anchored in, and extends from, deployment slider 100. When fully deployed, ribs 50 and stretchers 70 form cantilevers, extending radially from said hollow shaft 10 in support of cover 30.

In this disclosed typical embodiment each stretcher 70 is attached at its lower end to a stretcher-rib slider 90. Stretchers 70 extend upward joining ribs 50 via a plurality of cover-rib-stretcher fasteners 80.

While in their retracted mode, the invention's ribs 50 and stretchers 70, nest adjacent to the outer surface of hollow shaft 10.

Cover Deployment

In a typical embodiment of the invention, deployment of umbrella cover 30 is accomplished by applying urging force to deployment slider 100 via direct manual contact. In a typical embodiment upper transition element 20 provides means to ease frictional forces acting on cover 30 during its retraction.

Each of the plurality of ribs 50 is attached at its upper tip to the periphery of cover 30. Said ribs 50 thereby convey urging forces that displace cover 30 upward and outward relative to hollow shaft 10. Subsequently, ribs 50 transmit tensile forces to cover 30, thereby substantially maintaining the tautness of said cover. This combination of forces, acting on the periphery of cover 30 provide means to substantially urge cover 30 into its fully deployed configuration.

During urging of ribs 50 upward and radially relative to hollow shaft 10, forces are also applied to the lower ends of the plurality of stretchers 70 via contact between deployment slider 100 and stretcher-rib sliders 90. As a result, stretchers 70 also slide upward along the exterior of hollow shaft 10 thereby helping to maintain ribs 50 and cover 30 in alignment. When cover 30 is fully deployed said stretchers assist in maintaining the configuration, substantially resisting deforming forces including those of gravity and wind. Engagement of deployment slider 100 with deployment slider upper fastener 110, located near upper end of said track slot 130, substantially secures elements in their deployed positions.

Cover Retraction

Retraction of cover 30 is accomplished by releasing deployment slider upper fastener 110 and applying downward force to deployment slider 100. In addition to relaxing tensile forces acting on cover 30; downward motion of deployment slider 100 urges cover hub slider 40 by means of intervening deployment slider-cover hub slider slot link 140. As a result, cover hub slider 40 is urged downward within hollow shaft 10, thereby substantially retracting said cover 30 into said hollow shaft 10. Engagement of deployment slider 100 with deployment slider lower fasteners 120 near the bottom end of track slot 130 substantially secures cover 30 and cooperating elements in their retracted configurations.

Alternate Embodiments

Several forms of alternate embodiments are shown on sheets 4/6, 5/6, and 6/6.

One alternate embodiment of the invention seen in FIGS. 7, 9, and 10, provides a cap 160 that can substantially enclose either one or both ends of hollow shaft 10 while cover 30 is stowed. Cap 160 substantially prevents liquid water from escaping hollow shaft 10 while simultaneously allowing dispersal of moisture from stowed cover 30 by means of evaporation. Cap 160 contains a plurality of orifices 170, vapor permeable membranes 180, and absorbant material 190. Track slot gasket/internal moisture barrier 200, located along track slot 130 allows passage of the deployment slider-cover hub slider slot link 140 while also substantially blocking liquid water, introduced on retraced cover 30, from exiting hollow shaft 10. Track slot gasket/internal moisture barrier 200 may also, in extended form, provide a substantially copious, fully encompassing barrier stationed between retracted cover 30 and pluralities of additional slots or other orifices in hollow shaft 10, that may be provided in various alternate embodiments of the invention.

Sheet 4/6 shows other alternate embodiments including FIG. 8, a helical configuration of track slot 130 providing an angled longitudinal retraction range for ribs 50 and stretchers 70, thereby allowing use of a shorter hollow shaft 10.

Another alternate embodiment, seen in FIG. 11, provides a plurality of cover-rib tethers 210. Each tether is anchored at one end to a medial point along a corresponding rib 50. The other end of each tether is attached at a medial point along the interior of the invention's hollow shaft 10. Furthermore, each of a plurality of cooperating tether links 220, situated on the surface of cover 30, encircles one of the tethers 210 while allowing said cover-rib tether 210 to slide through the link 220. As a result, a pulley-like system is established. When cover 30 is fully deployed, it is, by means of tether links 220, drawn into substantially tighter contact with ribs 50.

Sheet 5/6, FIG. 12 and FIG. 13 shows yet another alternate embodiment. An expandable sleeve 240 is provided. Contained in sleeve storage vessel 230 when not in service, the sleeve is capable of expanding and enclosing hollow shaft 10, ribs 50, and stretchers 70 when cover 30 is fully stowed.

Sheet 6/6 FIG. 14 and FIG. 15 shows yet another additional alternative embodiment. In this embodiment a handle cylinder 250 mounted on the hollow shaft while the umbrella is not in use, may subsequently slide longitudinally along said hollow shaft to provided service as a handle. While retracted said cylindrical vessel substantially encompasses the invention's retracted ribs and stretchers.

In a large embodiment of the invention a set of support elements 260 are capable of being substantially retracted along the exterior of the hollow shaft and cooperating elements. Support elements 260 enable free standing use of this embodiment.

The words “horizontal”, “vertical”, “up”, “down”, “in”, “out”, “top”, “bottom”, upper, lower, and similar expressions are to be interpreted as relative to the embodiments discussed and cooperating components of the invention and are not intended to be otherwise limiting. Embodiments described herein are included for example only. Additional variations of the claimed invention's concepts will be obvious to those skilled in the art. Adaptation or inclusion of known alternative devices and materials, present and future is also contemplated. Range of the invention is defined by the following claims.

Accordingly, the reader will see that this invention, serves to efficiently deploy, retract, and store umbrella covers. Furthermore, a typical embodiment of the invention has other advantages in that:

In addition to providing means for internal storage of its cover within a hollow shaft, and use of deployment elements mounted externally on said hollow shaft, the invention's use of trusses formed by cooperation between ribs and stretcher elements provide means for encouraging substantially enhanced stability of said cover. The invention's rib and stretcher elements' provide enhanced resilience against wind damage compared to examples of umbrellas featuring internal cover storage seen in prior art. This invention's externally mounted cover support trusses may take various forms such as triangles, bows, orthogonals, or combinations thereof.

Furthermore the invention's plurality of ribs largely slide into position rather than rotate on hinges or rivets. This is a significant advantage to this invention because hinges and rivets are especially vulnerable elements when used in frames of conventional umbrellas.

Internal storage of the umbrella cover, combined with structural advantages of the invention's externally mounted deployment elements, reduces potential damage to said cover as well as unwanted transfer of liquid water to surrounding surfaces. Means may be provided for elimination of unwanted moisture.

The invention encourages use of non-metallic components, thereby reducing potential for injury from electric shock, especially during lightning storms.

Furthermore, versions of the invention are applicable to a range of umbrella sizes and configurations, including handheld sizes as well as beach and patio models.

Although the above descriptions contain numerous specifics, none of these should be construed as limiting the scope of the invention. They merely serve to provide illustrations of several embodiments of the present invention. For example, dimensions may vary and the hollow shaft may have various shapes, including conical or progressively stepped. Elements may have varied profiles in planes defined by various coordinates. Additionally, the hollow shaft may be constructed with either solid walls or perforated by a plurality of orifices. Such openings may have various dimensions, configurations, shapes, and orientations. Materials used in the invention, may have varied ability to bend, expand, or compress. In other words elastic moduli of the invention's elements may vary within limits defined by necessity of maintaining the invention's structural and functional integrity. For example, the hollow shaft may be constructed with one or more relatively rigid components that function as primary support, analogous to the relationship between frame poles to fabric in a tent, or mesh in a basket. Such construction thereby allows use of a less massive hollow shaft, albeit sufficiently copious and rigid to support cooperating elements of the invention. Invention elements may be opaque, translucent, transparent, or any combination thereof.

Furthermore, deployment and support elements may be attached at various sites on the invention. Urging forces may be transmitted from one element to another via various modes, for example direct contact through a slot, or by means of flexible extended members and pulleys. Specifications of deployment slider fasteners may include alternate forms of locking devices. The invention's elements may have various colors, hardness, surface textures, densities, and permeabilities. Elements may have continuous or perforated surfaces. Furthermore, the number of the invention's individual elements may vary from that shown in disclosed embodiments.

Deployment mechanisms, storage space, and ancillary parts may be composed of various materials consistent with their cooperative functions. Parts may be brought to deployed and retracted positions by alternate means, rather than direct manual force. Such means may, for example, include use of intervening elements urged by hand or motor, such as application of urging force via cranks and pulleys, gear and pulley combinations, or by means of various forms of linkage mechanisms. Alternate devices may be used for attachment, removal, and interchange of covers. Covers having assorted compositions, textures, and surface details may be used.

The present invention has been illustrated in part as embodied as a handheld umbrella, but it is not limited to that particular disclosure. For example, in variously sized alternate embodiments, the umbrella system may also function while semi-permanently mounted at a patio table, on a pedestal, or in a self-supporting configuration. It will be understood that various omissions, and changes in the shapes and specifics of the illustrated invention and its operation can be made without altering the fundamental character of the invention. Descriptions of this invention have been made for purposes of revealing particularly useful embodiments, they are not intended to limit the invention to only disclosed forms.

The scope of this invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.

Embodiments of the invention range from small handheld versions to larger free standing umbrellas capable of transport and service in conjunction with vehicles, and embodiments semi-permanently or permanently mounted.





 
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