Title:
LOCK APPARATUS FOR METER SOCKET COVER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lock apparatus for a utility service enclosure with a cover mountable over a sidewall includes an attachment member having a pair of spaced legs and aligned apertures formed in the legs. A fastener is extensible through the aperture in the one leg disposed interiorly of the enclosure when the attachment member is mounted over the sidewall of the enclosure and deforms the sidewall into engagement with the aperture in the other leg. A flange extending from the attachment member interengages a body having a lip overlaying the cover to inhibit removal of the cover from the enclosure. A lock is engageble with the body and the flange to lock the body to the attachment member.



Inventors:
Dreisbach, Richard C. (Andover, NJ, US)
Debrody, Robert F. (Wayne, NJ, US)
Pinho, Carlos M. (North Arlington, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/194095
Publication Date:
02/25/2010
Filing Date:
08/19/2008
Assignee:
EKSTROM INDUSTRIES, INC. (Farmington Hills, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D55/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GALL, LLOYD A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
YOUNG BASILE (TROY, MI, US)
Claims:
1. An utility enclosure apparatus comprising: a utility enclosure having a housing with a sidewall and an opening; a cover mountable to the housing to close the opening: a clip having first and second spaced legs, the clip mountable over the sidewall of the enclosure with the first leg disposed interiorly of the enclosure and the second leg disposed exteriorly of the enclosure; a first aperture formed in the first leg of the clip; a second aperture formed in the second leg of the clip, the second aperture coaxial with the first aperture; a clip attachment member threadingly extensible through the first aperture in the first leg of the clip into forced sidewall deforming engagement with a portion of the sidewall of the enclosure; and a bulge formed by the clip attachment member in the sidewall extending outward from the sidewall into the second aperture in the second leg of the clip to lock the clip to the sidewall of the enclosure.

2. (canceled)

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein: the clip attachment member has a shaft with a first end, an opposed second end, and a threaded portion extending from the first end.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein further comprising: a rotation imparting feature carried on the clip attachment member.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the rotation imparting feature comprises: at least one radially extending arm.

6. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein: the at least one arm has a length disposed in interference with the cover when the cover is mounted on the sidewall of the enclosure to prevent substantial rotation of the clip attachment member in the direction to unthread the clip attachment member relative to the first aperture.

7. (canceled)

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein: the first and second legs of the clip have parallel portions extending from an interconnecting end wall; and the first and second apertures formed in the parallel portions.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the clip further comprises: a flange extending from the second leg.

10. The apparatus of claim 9 further comprising: a lock member; a body configured to receive the flange of the clip for inter-engaging the body and the clip, the body having a lip overlaying the enclosure cover; and a bore extending through the body for receiving a lock member in engagement with the flange of the clip.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the clip further comprises: an aperture formed in the flange alignable with a bore in the body for receiving a lock member.

12. An utility enclosure apparatus comprising: a utility enclosure having a housing with a sidewall and an opening; a cover mountable to the housing to close the opening; a mount having first and second spaced legs, the mount adapted to be mountable over the sidewall of the enclosure with the first leg disposed interiorly of the enclosure and the second leg disposed exteriorly of the enclosure; a first aperture formed in the first leg of the mount; a second aperture formed in the second leg of the mount; an attachment member extensible through the first aperture in the first leg of the mount and adapted into forced engagement with the sidewall of the enclosure and deforming a portion of the sidewall of the enclosure to create a bulge in the sidewall extending from the sidewall into the second aperture in the second leg of the mount to lock the mount on the sidewall of the enclosure; and the attachment member including a portion engagable with the cover of the utility enclosure when the attachment member is deformably engaged with the sidewall of the utility enclosure to inhibit disengagement of the attachment member away from the sidewall of the utility enclosure after the cover has been mounted on the utility enclosure by interference of the portion of the attachment member with the cover of the utility enclosure during disengagement movement of the attachment member from the sidewall of the enclosure.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the portion of the attachment member comprises: a manually rotatable head on the attachment member; and at least one arm radially extending from the head.

14. The apparatus of claim 13 further comprising: the at least one arm has a length to interfere with the cover when the cover is mounted on the sidewall of the enclosure to prevent substantial rotation of the attachment member in the direction to disengage the attachment member from the enclosure sidewall.

15. The apparatus of claim 12 further comprising: a lock body engageable with the second leg of the mount; a lockable and unlockable lock member mountable in the lock body to releasably lock the lock body to the mount; and a lip carried on the lock body and disposed over the cover when the cover is mounted on the utility enclosure to lock the cover on the utility enclosure.

16. The apparatus of claim 15 further comprising: a flange extending from the second leg of the mount; and the lock body engageable with the flange to enable the lock member to be releasably locked to the flange.

17. An utility enclosure apparatus comprising: a clip having first and second spaced legs, the clip mountable over the sidewall of the enclosure with the first leg disposed interiorly of the enclosure and the second leg disposed exteriorly of the enclosure; a first aperture formed in the first leg of the clip; a second aperture formed in the second leg of the clip and co-axially aligned with the first aperture; a threaded shaft extensible through the first aperture in the first leg of the clip into engagement with the sidewall of the enclosure; and a bulge formed by the engagement of the threaded shaft with the sidewall, the bulge extending from a portion of the sidewall into the second aperture in the second leg of the clip to lock the clip to the sidewall of the enclosure; and a head fixedly carried on the shaft for facilitating manual rotation of the shaft.

18. The apparatus of claim 17 further comprising: the head includes at least one arm having a length to interfere with the cover when the cover is mounted on the sidewall of the enclosure to prevent substantial rotation of the shaft in the direction to disengage the shaft from the sidewall of the enclosure.

19. A method of locking a cover to a wall of a utility enclosure comprising the steps of: providing a clip having first and second spaced legs, a first aperture formed in the first leg of the clips; and a second aperture formed in the second leg of the clips; mounting the clip over the wall of the enclosure with the first leg disposed interiorly of the enclosure and the second leg disposed exteriorly of the enclosure; extending a clip attachment member through the first aperture in the first leg of the clip into forced engagement with and deforming a portion of the wall of the enclosure to form a bulge extending from the wall into the second aperture in the second leg of the clip to lock the clip to the sidewall of the enclosure; and mounting the cover on the enclosure such that the cover overlays a portion of the clip.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates, to electrical power service distribution meters and, specifically, to lock devices for electrical power service distribution meter housings.

Various utilities, such as electric, water, gas, television or computer cable are supplied to residential and commercial establishments. Service enclosures or cabinets which can include meters for measuring the amount of consumption of the utility product by the user, serve as a convenient termination between the distribution network in the residential or commercial building and the external utility distribution network.

Typically an enclosure or box is mounted on an exterior wall of the residence or commercial building which includes terminals, values, meters, etc., appropriate for the particular utility service. In the case of the electric utility industry, for example, plug-in, socket type, watt-hour meters are commonly employed to measure electric power consumption at a residential or commercial building. An enclosure housing is mounted on the exterior wall of the building and contains terminals which are connected to incoming electric power line conductors and outgoing electric load distribution conductors. The terminals receive the blade contacts of a plug-in watt-hour meter to complete an electric circuit to the meter between the line and load terminals.

Such utility housings may use a wire or plastic security seal which, while easily broken and removed, does provide an indication to the utility company tampering with the housing in an attempt to obtain utility services without being charged. In one type of electric meter socket enclosure, commonly referred to as a ring-less style meter socket, the socket cover secures the watt-hour meter in place. The cover has a central opening through which the outer portion of the watt-hour meter passes after the meter is coupled to plug-in jaw contacts in the socket or socket adaptor mounted in the socket and the cover is attached to the socket. The meter can not be removed from the socket until the cover is first removed from the socket.

Since the aforementioned security seals do not provide much hindrance to unauthorized removal of the socket cover, lock devices have been devised which clamp to a wall of the socket or enclosure and have a flange located exteriorly of the enclosure wall which engages a housing having a lip which overlays the socket cover. A key operated lock member is inserted into the body to lock the body to the flange and hinder easy access to the interior of the socket by unauthorized removal of the cover unless a utility issued key is employed to disengage the lock from the body and the flange.

SUMMARY

A lock apparatus for securing a cover or a utility enclosure having a sidewall includes a clip and a clip attachment member. A first aperture is formed in a first leg and a second aperture is formed in a second leg of the clip. The clip attachment member is extensible through the first aperture in the first leg of the attachment member and adapted for engagement with the sidewall of the enclosure to deform a portion of the sidewall of the enclosure into the second aperture in the second leg of the attachment member to fix the attachment member to the sidewall of the enclosure

In another aspect, the clip attachment member is a fastener threadingly engageable with the first aperture in the first leg of the attachment member. The fastener has a shaft with threads extending from a first end to an opposed second end. A rotation facilitating feature is carried on the second end of the shaft and includes at least one arm having a length adapted to be disposed in interference with the cover when the cover is mounted on the sidewall of the enclosure to prevent substantial rotation of the fastener in the direction to disengage the fastener from the sidewall of the enclosure.

In another aspect, the lock apparatus includes a clip having first and second spaced legs interconnected by an end wall. The clip is adapted to be mounted over the sidewall of the enclosure with the first leg disposed inside of the enclosure and the second leg disposed outside of the enclosure. A flange extends from the second leg. A body is configured to receive the flange of the clip for inter-engaging the body and the clip. The body has a lip configured to overlay the enclosure cover. A bore extends through the body and receives a lock member in engagement with the flange of the clip. A threaded fastener has a shaft with a first end. A first aperture is formed in the first leg of the clip for threadingly receiving the shaft of the fastener. A second aperture is formed in the second leg aligned with the first aperture. The first end of the fastener urges a portion of the enclosure sidewall into the second aperture of the second leg of the clip. The second aperture is aligned with the first aperture. The first and second legs of the clip have parallel portions extending from an interconnecting end wall with the first and second apertures formed in the parallel portions.

In one aspect, the first and second legs of the clip have parallel portions extending from the end wall. The first and second apertures are formed in the parallel portions.

In another aspect, an enlarged head mounted on the second end of the shank and has at least one radially extending arm. The least one arm has a length adapted to be disposed in interference with the cover when the cover is mounted on the sidewall of the enclosure to prevent substantial rotation of the fastener in the direction to disengage the fastener from the attachment member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The various features, advantages and other uses of the present invention will become more apparent by referring to the following detail description and drawing in which:

FIG. 1 is a cross-section view of a prior art meter socket cover lock apparatus depicted in a locked position;

FIG. 2 is an exploded, perspective view of a meter socket for a watt-hour meter utilizing a cover lock apparatus;

FIG. 3 is a partial, perspective view showing the mounting of the completely assembled lock apparatus depicted in FIG. 2 on the meter socket;

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective of the enclosure mount of the lock apparatus shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side elevational, partially cross sectioned view showing the enclosure mount depicted in FIG. 4 in a partially assembled, pre-mounting configuration;

FIG. 6 is a partial, enlarged, perspective view showing the enclosure mount shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 deployed on the enclosure sidewall, with the enclosure mount depicted in the fully locked position;

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view generally taken along line 7-7 in FIG. 3 depicting the lock apparatus in the fully locked position relative to the enclosure; and

FIG. 8 is a cross sectional view, generally taken along line 8-8 in FIG. 3, and depicting the lock apparatus in the fully locked position relative to the socket wall and cover.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

It will be understood that although the following discussion of a lock apparatus 20 for utility residential or commercial building enclosures described in conjunction with an electric watt-hour meter socket, the lock apparatus described hereafter may also be employed on other utility service enclosures or housings, such as for housings used by the gas, water, cable utilities, etc.

Referring now to FIG. 1 there is depicted a prior art lock apparatus 20 used with a utility housing 24 hereinafter referred to as a meter socket or meter enclosure 24. The lock apparatus 20 releasably locks a cover 22 to a sidewall 26 of a socket 24 in a manner to inhibit the unauthorized removal of a cover without the use of a utility lock key.

The cover 22 has an exterior wall 28 with a peripheral side edge flange 30 which overlays a complementary shaped end portion or flange 32 on the socket sidewall 26.

As shown by way of example, only FIG. 1, the end portion 32 of the socket sidewall 26 may be offset from the main portion of the sidewall 26 to provide a flush exterior fit of the cover flange 30 relative to the main extent of the sidewall 26.

The lock apparatus 20 includes a clip 36 has a converted U-shaped portion formed of first and second spaced legs 38 and 40. The first and second legs 3 8 and 40 are spaced apart by a distance substantially the same as the thickness of the end portion 32 of the sidewall 26 to enable the first and second legs 38 and 40 to be mounted over the end portion 32 of the sideway 26 until an intermediate bight or wall portion 42 joining the first and second legs 38 and 40 engages the outer edge of the end portion 32 of the sidewall 26.

The second leg 40 may be substantially parallel to the first leg 38 along its entire length or have an offset portion 42 complementary to the offset in the sidewall 26. The second Leg 40 terminates in an angularly extending, substantially perpendicular flange 44 which is deployed exteriorly up the side wall 26. An aperture 46 is formed in the flange 44.

A threaded bore 50 is formed in the first leg 38 of the clip 36 which receives a threaded shank 52 of a fastener or clip tightening means having an enlarged head 54 with two radially extending arms 56 and 58. The threaded shank 52 is threaded through the bore 50 by rotation of the head 54 until the end of the shank 52 securely tightens the inner surface of the sidewall 26 against the sidewall 26 to securely mount the clip 36 on the sidewall 26.

When the clip 36 is securely affixed to the sidewall 26 of the socket 24, as shown in FIG. 1, a body 60, which has an interior opened-ended cavity 62, is urged over the flange 44. The body 60 includes lip 64 which slides over the end portion of the wall 28 of the socket cover 22. A key operated barrel lock 66 is inserted through a bore in the body 60 to the end portion 68 of the barrel lock 66 passes through the aperture of the aperture 46 in the flange 44. When a key, not shown, is inserted into the end of the barrel lock 66 and rotated, balls 68 are urged outward to lock behind the flange 44 and prevent removal of the barrel lock 66 from the body 62 and, thereby, to prevent removal of the entire body 60 from the clip 36.

Referring now to the drawing, and to FIG. 2 in particular, there is illustrated a watthour 114 and an optional meter socket adapter 110 which are removably insertable into a meter socket 112.

The socket 112 is a ringless type socket. The socket 112 includes an enclosure or housing 116 which is typically mounted on the outside wall of a residential or commercial building. The enclosure 116 contains a first pair of line terminals or contacts 118 which are connected to incoming electric power line conductors, not shown, and a second pair of load terminals or contacts 120 which are connected to the building electrical distribution conductors. The enclosure 116 includes a removable cover 122 having a central aperture 124 within an exterior wall 125, with a peripheral outwardly extending flange 126 formed thereabout.

The line and load terminals 118 and 120 in the socket housing 116 are adapted to normally receive corresponding line contact blades 128 and load contact blades 130, respectively, of a conventional electric watt-hour meter 114 or the blades of an optional socket adapter 110. With the cover 122 separated from the housing 116, the watt-hour meter 114 can be inserted into the enclosure 116 such that the line and load blades 128 and 130 on the meter 114 respectively engage the pairs of line and load terminals 118 and 120 in the socket housing 116.

A lock apparatus 140 is lockable on the socket 112 to releasably secure the cover 122 on the socket enclosure 116. The lock apparatus 140 includes a mount or clip 142, a clip attachment member 144, a lock body 146 and a releasable lock member 148.

As shown in detail in FIG. 4, 5, 6 and 7, the mount or clip 142 has first and second legs 150 and 152 which are spaced apart and joined by an intermediate bight or end wall 154. First and second legs 150 and 152 have generally linear portions which are spaced apart a distance substantially equal to the thickness of a sidewall 117 of the socket 112 to enable the first and second legs 150 and 152 to be inserted over the outer edge of the sidewall 117 until the bight 154 engages the outer edge of the sidewall 117 as shown in FIG. 7.

The first leg 150 has a through aperture 156 which is aligned with a second aperture 158 in the second leg 152.

The second leg 152 may have an offset 160 correspond to a similar offset 162 in the socket sidewall 117. The offset 160 is optional as the second leg 152 may continue in a general parallel arrangement with the first leg 150 along its entire length from the end wall 154. The end portion of the socket enclosure sidewall 117 also then has a continuous, generally planar end configuration without an offset.

The provision of the second aperture 158 in the second leg 152, which may have a circular cross section with a closed peripheral wall or edge or an elongated slot shape or any other configuration, allows easier manufacture of the clip 142 since a broach or other tool when can be used to form threads in the first aperture 156 in the first leg 150 can easily pass into the second aperture 158 while forming the threads in the first aperture 156 despite the close spacing between the first and second legs 150 and 152. The second aperture 158 also serves another function as described hereafter.

The clip attachment member 144 is extensible through the first aperture 156 in the first leg 150 of the clip 142. Although the following description of the clip attachment member 144 is of a fastener which is threadably extensible through the first leg 150 of the clip 144, it will be understood that this is by way of example only as any attachment member or fastener may be employed to attach the clip 142 to the sidewall 117 of the socket enclosure by means of a deformation of a portion of the sidewall 117 of the enclosure into the second aperture 158 in the second leg of the clip 152.

Thus, by way of example only, the clip attachment member 144 is formed as a fastener having a shaft 162 which terminates in a first generally conical or pointed tip end 164. At least a portion of the shaft 162 is threaded from the first end 164.

The opposed second end of the shank 162 carries an insert molded or otherwise attached to or is formed with a rotation imparting feature or head 166. The head 166 may be a typical screw head or a thumb screw head formed of a plastic or other suitable material and having at least one or a pair of diametrically opposed arms 168 and 170 extending radially from a central body 172.

The shaft 162 is threadable through the aperture 156 in the first leg 150. When the clip 142 is mounted over the end of the sidewall 117, the head 166 may be manually rotated in a direction to thread the shaft 162 through the first aperture 156 so that the tip end 164 of the shaft 162 engages and deforms or forces a portion of the material of the end portion of the sidewall 117 into a bulge 174 which is forcibly engaged in the second bore 158. This bulge 174 securely affixes the clip 142 to the sidewall 117 in addition to the tight engagement of the shank 162 with the sidewall 117.

It will be understood that other means for extending the clip attachment member or fastener 142 through the first aperture 156 in the first leg 150 of the clip 142 may also be employed. Such means may also include powered rotation of the clip attachment member 142 by a power tool, such as a drill, or by a manual tool, such as a wrench, etc.

A flange 180 extends angularly from the free end of the second leg 152, and is shown, by way of example only, as extending at a perpendicular angle from the second leg 152. An aperture 182 is formed in the flange 180. The flange 180 is interengageable with a channel 186 formed in an open-ended interior cavity 188 in the lock body 146. The lock body 146 can be formed as a one piece metal body having a main portion 190 containing the cavity 188 which opens to one side of the body 146.

A lip 192 projects from the main portion 190 of the body 146 and is configured to overlay the exterior surface 125 of the cover 122 when the body 146 is mounted on the housing 112 and engaged with the flange 180 of the clip 142.

A generally cylindrical sleeve 194 is fixed in the main portion 190 of the body 146 and extends outward therefrom. One or more 196 and one or more apertures 198 are formed in the sleeve 195 for receiving a wire or plastic seal 195.

A bore 200 is formed interiorly through the sleeve 194 and the upper portion of the body 146. The bore 200 is aligned with the aperture 182 in the flange 180 of the clip 142 when the clip 142 and the body 146 are engaged. A lock pin member or such as a barrel lock 202 having releasebly extendable pins or balls 204 at one end is mountable through the sleeve 194, and into the aligned bores 202 and apertures 182. A keyed opening is formed in the enlarged head 206 of the barrel lock 200 to receive a key, not shown, which when, rotated in one direction, causes the balls 204 to extend outward beneath the adjacent portion of the flange 180 of the clip 142 to prevent removal of the barrel lock 200 from the body 146 until the key is reinserted and rotated in an opposite direction to retract the balls 204 into the barrel lock.

Another feature of the lock apparatus 140 is shown in FIGS. 8 and 9. The radial extent or length of each of the arms 168 and 170 on the head 166 of the fastener 144 are selected such that when the fastener 144 is tightened to the lock position shown in FIG. 7, after the cover 122 is mounted over the clip 142, the radial extent of the arms 168 or 170 will prevent counter-clockwise rotation of the fastener 144 in a direction to unthread or disengage the fastener 144 from to the clip 142 due to interference between the end of the arm 168 or 170 and the inner surface of the cover 122. This provides an additional locking capability for the lock apparatus 140 to inhibit any unauthorized attempt to remove the cover 122 from the housing 112.

In use, the clip 142 is mounted over the outer edge of the sidewall 117 of the enclosure 112. The clip attachment member 144 is then engaged with and extended through the first aperture 156 forces the first end 164 of the shaft 162 into the sidewall 117 and in the first leg 150 of the clip 142 into forced engagement with the sidewall 117 of the housing 112. Continued extension of the clip attachment member 144 through the first aperture 156 deforms a portion of the sidewall 117 into the bulge 174 in fixed engagement with the second aperture 158 in the second leg 152 of the clip 142. This bulge 174 fixedly mounts the clip 142 on the sidewall 117 of the housing 112. The cover 122 is mounted over the open end of the housing 112 Either after a watthour meter is inserted into engagement with the jaw contacts in the housing 112 in the case of a ringless-style cover or prior to mounting of a socket adapter on a ring-style socket.

The lock body 146 is then mounted in engagement with the flange 180 of the clip 142 and a lock member, such as a barrel lock 202, is inserted into the lock body 146 and locked to the flange 180 of the clip 142. The lip 192 projecting from the lock body 146 overlays a portion of the cover 122 to lock the cover 122 on the housing 112.

When it is desired to access the interior of the housing 112, the barrel lock 122 is unlocked to enable the entire lock body 146 to be disengaged from the flange 142 of the clip 140. This separates the lip 192 on the lock body 146 from the cover 122 and enables the cover 122 to be removed from the housing 112.