Title:
Cooler with automatic product height adjustment mechanism
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cooler has a housing defining a product compartment having a floor panel. A product platform is disposed in the product compartment and is movable vertically relative to the floor panel. A plurality of product containers are disposed on the product platform within the product compartment. A constant force spring disposed between the floor panel and the product platform exerts an upward force on the product platform to maintain product containers at a constant height as product containers are removed and as ice melts.



Inventors:
Robertson, James David (Atlanta, GA, US)
Application Number:
12/218864
Publication Date:
01/21/2010
Filing Date:
07/18/2008
Assignee:
Display Industries, LLC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25D3/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ALLEN, JEFFREY R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John L. James (Fleming Isle, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cooler, comprising: an upright housing; a product compartment mounted within said housing and having a floor; a product platform disposed in said housing and movable vertically relative to said floor, said product platform adapted to hold a plurality of product containers disposed within said product compartment; and a constant force spring disposed between said floor panel and said product platform exerting an upward force on said product platform to maintain said product platform at a constant height as product containers are removed.

2. A cooler, as set forth in claim 1, wherein said product platform has a plurality of openings.

3. A cooler, as set forth in claim 1, wherein said product compartment has a sidewall attached to said floor forming water tight compartment

4. A cooler, as set forth in claim 1, including a pole attached to said floor.

5. A cooler, as set forth in claim 4, wherein said spring is a coil spring and said spring is coiled about said pole.

6. A cooler, as set forth in claim 5, wherein said product platform has a central opening and said pole protrudes through said opening.

7. A cooler, as set forth in claim 1, including a floor platform disposed on said floor.

8. A cooler, as set forth in claim 7, including a pole attached to said floor platform.

9. A cooler, as set forth in claim 8, wherein said spring is a coil spring and said spring is coiled about said pole.

10. A cooler, as set forth in claim 8, wherein said product platform has a central opening and said pole protrudes through said opening.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to coolers, and, more particularly, to a product height adjustment mechanism for a cooler for food and beverages containers and the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Fixed and movable coolers are widely used for cooling food items and beverages. For cooling beverages, ice is often used because it is readily available, cools effectively and allows the cooler to be used at any location. A problem with ice is that ice melts causing beverage containers to sink into the water. Consumers often get a wet hand trying to retrieve a beverage container from the icy mixture which is unpleasant. Also, in some cities, such standing water is prohibited by health and safety codes. A solution to the wet hands problem is a drain to remove water as the ice melts. While a drain solves the wet hands problem, it creates a problem with the product height in the cooler. As water is removed, the height of the ice and beverage containers in the cooler drops causing the consumer to work harder to retrieve a product container. Accordingly, it will be appreciated that it would be highly desirable to have an ice filled cooler wherein the height of the containers does not drop as the ice melts.

Another problem with ice filled coolers is that as beverage containers are removed, the fluid level drops causing remaining containers to sit lower in the cooler. When the height of the beverage containers in the cooler drops, a consumer has to reach farther into the cooler to retrieve a product container. It is desirable to have a cooler that keeps the product containers at the same height in the cooler as product is removed from the cooler to thereby minimize consumer effort to retrieve a container.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to overcoming one or more of the problems set forth above. Briefly summarized, according to the present invention, a cooler comprises an upright housing, a product compartment mounted within the housing having a floor, and a product platform disposed in the housing and movable vertically relative to the floor. The product platform is adapted to hold a plurality of product containers disposed within the product compartment. A constant force spring disposed between the floor panel and the product platform exerts an upward force on the product platform to keep the product platform at a constant height as product containers are removed.

The constant force spring maintains the height of the product platform and thereby keeps the product containers at a constant height as ice melts and as containers are removed. Draining water as the ice melts keeps containers on the ice instead of in an icy mixture of ice and water. Because the containers are kept at a constant height, a consumer does not get a wet hand when retrieving a container form the cooler.

These and other aspects, objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more clearly understood and appreciated from a review of the following description of the preferred embodiments and by reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic perspective view of a portable cooler with an automatic product height adjustment mechanism according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is perspective view similar to FIG. 1 but with portions cut away to reveal the height adjustment mechanism.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the height adjustment mechanism.

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic perspective view of a portable cooler with an automatic product height adjustment mechanism, similar to FIG. 1 but illustrating another preferred embodiment.

FIG. 5 is perspective view similar to FIG. 4 but with contents removed to reveal the product platform of the height adjustment mechanism.

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic longitudinal sectional view of the height adjustment mechanism.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1-3, a cooler 10 has an upright housing 12 defining a product compartment 14 mounted within the housing 12 for holding product, such as beverage containers 16 for example. Product compartment 14 preferably has a floor panel 18 and sidewalls 20 that form a chamber for holding product as well as ice. A product plate or platform 22 is disposed on floor panel 18 and is movable vertically (up and down) relative to floor panel 18. This up and down movement allows product platform 22 to move downward when loaded with product or product and ice, and then move upward when product is removed or the ice melts and water drains from the product compartment 14. [0014] Product platform 22 is preferably spaced from floor panel 18 and moves up and down about a vertically extending pole member 26 that is preferably attached at its bottom to a floor plate or platform 28. Alternatively, pole member 26 may be attached to floor 18. As illustrated, product platform 22 is a tray with upturned side and end edges and a central opening for receiving pole 26. Platform 22 preferably has a plurality of openings to facilitate draining water from melting ice. Also, spaces existing between the perimeter of platform 22 and sidewalls 20 may allow water to drain from platform 22 to the bottom of product compartment 14.

Referring to FIGS. 1-2, the cooler may be equipped with coasters or wheels 30 for mobility. As illustrated, the cooler housing is a tall, boxy structure for rolling about on wheels. A space or compartment exists inside the housing between the product compartment and the bottom of the housing that can be used to store product until needed.

Referring to FIGS. 2-3, as illustrated, a constant force spring 24 is disposed between floor platform 28 and product platform 22 and coiled about pole member 26 to move product platform 22 up and down. Alternatively, constant force spring 24 may be disposed between floor panel 18 and product platform 22 to move product up and down. Constant force spring 24 exerts an upward force on product platform 22 to maintain platform 22, and therefore product containers 16 placed thereon, at a constant height as product containers are removed or as ice melts. Normally, beverage containers 16 are juxtaposed in product compartment 14 with ice which keeps them cold. When the ice melts, the level of ice and containers in the compartment tends to decline, but constant force spring 24 exerts pressure on product platform 22 which supports the ice and containers to keep them at a desired height.

Referring now to FIGS. 4-6, a cooler 110 has an upright housing 112 defining a product compartment 114 mounted within the housing 112 for holding product, such as beverage containers 116 for example. Product compartment 114 preferably has a floor panel 118 and a sidewall 120 that form a chamber for holding product as well as ice. A product plate or platform 122 is disposed in product compartment 114. The platform 122 has a plurality of openings to facilitate draining water from melting ice. Platform 122 is movable vertically (up and down) relative to floor panel 118. This up and down movement allows product platform 122 to move downward when loaded with product or product and ice, and then move upward when product is removed or the ice melts and water drains from the product compartment 114.

Product platform 122 is preferably spaced from floor panel 118 and moves up and down about a vertically extending pole 126 that is preferably attached at its bottom to floor 118. Alternatively, pole 126 may be attached to a floor plate or platform that rests on floor 118. As illustrated, product platform 122 is a flat, circular tray with a central opening for receiving pole 126 and with a plurality of openings for draining water as ice in the cooler melts. A space between the perimeter of platform 122 and sidewall 120 allows water to drain from platform 122 to the bottom of product compartment 114.

Referring now to FIGS. 4 and 6, the cooler may be equipped with coasters or wheels 130 for mobility. As illustrated, the cooler housing is a cylindrical structure for rolling about on wheels. A space or compartment exists inside the housing between the product compartment and the bottom of the housing that can be used to store product until needed.

Referring now to FIG. 6, as illustrated, a constant force spring 124 may be disposed between floor panel 118 and product platform 122 and coiled about pole member 126 to move product up and down. Alternatively, constant force spring 124 is disposed between a floor platform and product platform 122 to move product platform 122 up and down. Constant force spring 124 exerts an upward force on product platform 122 to maintain product containers 116 at a constant height as product containers are removed or as ice melts. Normally, beverage containers 116 are juxtaposed in product compartment 114 with ice which keeps them cold. When the ice melts, the level of ice and containers in the compartment tends to decline, but constant force spring 124 exerts pressure on product platform 122 which supports the ice and containers to keep them at a desired height.

It can now be appreciated that a cooler with an automatic product height adjustment mechanism has been presented. The cooler has a housing defining a product compartment that has a floor panel. The mechanism includes a product platform disposed in the product compartment and movable vertically relative to the floor panel. Product containers are disposed on the product platform within the product compartment along with ice. A constant force spring disposed between the floor panel and the product platform exerts an upward force on the product platform to maintain product containers and ice at a constant height as product containers are removed and as ice melts. Water from melting ice drains away so that a consumer never has to immerse a hand in water to retrieve a beverage.

While the invention has been described with particular reference to the preferred embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements of the preferred embodiments without departing from invention. For example, except for the constant force spring which is metal, the cooler may be constructed of metal, plastic or composite materials.

As is evident from the foregoing description, certain aspects of the invention are not limited to the particular details of the examples illustrated, and it is therefore contemplated that other modifications and applications will occur to those skilled in the art. For example, while the compartment that exists inside the housing between the product compartment and the bottom of the housing that can be used to store product, it can be used to store signage for the cooler or a drain tube. It is accordingly intended that the claims shall cover all such modifications and applications as do not depart from the true spirit and scope of the invention.

Element List

  • 10 cooler
  • 12 housing
  • 14 product compartment
  • 16 beverage containers
  • 18 floor panel
  • 20 sidewalls
  • 22 product platform
  • 24 constant force spring
  • 26 pole
  • 28 floor platform
  • 30 wheels
  • 110 cooler
  • 112 housing
  • 114 product compartment
  • 116 beverage containers
  • 118 floor panel
  • 120 sidewall
  • 122 platform
  • 124 constant force spring
  • 126 pole
  • 130 wheels