Title:
SURFACE CLEANING APPARATUS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A surface cleaning apparatus having a main body, a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body, a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body, and the main body is generally cylindrical and a portion of the main body positioned in between a central region of the main body and each wheel has a radius which increases as it extends towards each wheel.



Inventors:
Harries, Thomas Robert (West Midlands, GB)
Pougher, Simon Matthew (West Midlands, GB)
Carter, Daniel William (West Midlands, GB)
Application Number:
15/033463
Publication Date:
09/01/2016
Filing Date:
02/04/2014
Assignee:
TECHTRONIC FLOOR CARE TECHNOLOGY LIMITED (Tortola, VG)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L9/16; A47L5/36; A47L9/00; A47L9/32
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, DUNG V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP (TTiFC) (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
1. A surface cleaning apparatus (10) comprising: a main body (12); a first wheel (14) positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and a second wheel (16) positioned at or near a second end of the main body, wherein the main body is generally cylindrical and wherein a portion of the main body positioned in between a central region of the main body and each wheel has a radius which increases as it extends towards each wheel, and wherein the primary air inlet extends through a generally upwardly facing exterior surface of the main body.

2. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said portion is provided on a floor facing portion of the exterior surface of the main body.

3. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said portion extends circumferentially around the exterior surface of the main body.

4. 4.-8. (canceled)

9. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein a radius of a ground engaging surface of the first and second wheels is greater than a largest width of the main body when measured transversely thereof.

10. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein a radius of a ground engaging surface of the first and second wheels is greater than a largest radius of the main body.

11. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the main body houses a suction motor (140).

12. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the main body houses a chamber (100, 100′, 100″) for receiving dirt.

13. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the main body houses a first cyclonic separator device (10).

14. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 8 wherein the main body houses a second cyclonic separator device (210) which is in fluid communication with the first cyclonic separator device.

15. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the first and second wheels are rotatable about axes (A) which are coaxial with each other.

16. 16.-18. (canceled)

19. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein an axis of the main body passes through at least two of, and preferably all three of: a suction motor (140); a chamber for receiving dirt (100, 100′, 100″); and a first cyclonic separator device (110).

20. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 7 wherein the chamber for collecting is removably connected to the main body.

21. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein each wheel includes an annular member which is supported for rotation by an exterior surface of a part (15, 17) of the main body.

22. (canceled)

23. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the main body is generally symmetrical about a plane which extends midway between the first and second wheels perpendicularly to their rotational axis.

24. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the apparatus includes a handle (18) connected to one end of the main body.

25. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the apparatus includes a primary air inlet (70), wherein said air inlet is positioned substantially midway between the first and second wheels.

26. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 25 wherein the primary air inlet extends through a generally upwardly facing exterior surface of the main body.

27. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the apparatus includes a device (80) for biasing the main body to a first position relative to the surface (F) being cleaned.

28. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 27 wherein the biasing device is connected to a lower part of the main body and engages with a surface (F) being cleaned.

29. A surface cleaning apparatus according to claim 27 wherein the biasing device is positioned in a space (S) defined by a concave portion or surface of the main body.

30. 30.-274. (canceled)

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a U.S. National Phase application of International Application PCT/GB2014/050310, filed Feb. 4, 2014, which claims priority to U.K. Patent Application 1319372.7, filed Nov. 1, 2013, the entire contents all of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND

This invention relates to a surface cleaning apparatus. In particular, this invention relates to a surface cleaning apparatus which utilises a source of suction to draw dirt etc. from a surface being cleaned and to store said dirt in a chamber which can be emptied by a user. Such surface cleaning apparatus are often referred to a “vacuum cleaners”.

SUMMARY

According to a first aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the main body is generally cylindrical and wherein a portion of the main body positioned in between a central region of the main body and each wheel has a radius which increases as it extends towards each wheel.

According to a second aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the main body has generally concave exterior surface.

According to a third aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein an exterior surface of the main body includes a generally concave portion.

According to a fourth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the apparatus includes at least one deflector member connected to the main body.

According to a fifth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the apparatus includes a user graspable handle which is connected to the main body through an opening in one of the wheels.

According to a sixth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the apparatus includes a device for biasing the main body to a first position relative to the surface being cleaned.

According to a seventh aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body with an axis;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the main body houses:

    • a suction motor; and
    • a chamber for receiving dirt;

wherein the axis of the main body passes through the chamber for receiving dirt and the suction motor.

According to an eighth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body with an axis;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the main body houses:

a suction motor; and

a chamber for receiving dirt;

wherein the suction motor and the chamber for receiving dirt are located at respective positions along the axis of the main body.

According to a ninth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body with an axis;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the main body houses:

    • a suction motor;
    • a chamber for receiving dirt; and
    • a first cyclonic separator device with a dirt outlet in communication with the chamber for receiving dirt,

wherein the axis of the main body passes through at least two of, and preferably all three of:

the suction motor;

the chamber for receiving dirt; and

the first cyclonic separator device.

According to a tenth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the main body houses:

    • a suction motor;
    • a chamber for receiving dirt; and
    • a cable storage device for storing electrical cable for providing power to the suction motor,

wherein the cable storage device includes a moveable part which is rotatable around a portion of the suction motor.

According to an eleventh aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a primary air inlet;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the main body houses:

    • a suction motor;
    • a first cyclonic separator device; and
    • a chamber for receiving dirt;

wherein the cyclonic separator includes an air inlet in communication with the primary air inlet, and a dirt outlet in communication with the chamber of receiving dirt,

and wherein the dirt outlet is configured for directing dirt in a direction generally opposite to the direction of air passing into the primary air inlet.

According to a twelfth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

    • a main body;
    • a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and
    • a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,
    • wherein the main body houses:
      • a suction motor; and
      • a chamber for receiving dirt;
    • wherein the chamber for receiving dirt is removable in a direction which is parallel and/or coaxial with an axis of the main body.

According to a thirteenth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body; and

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body,

wherein the main body houses:

a suction motor;

a chamber for receiving dirt,

wherein the main body includes first and second parts which are removably connectable to each other, with the first wheel being connected to the first part of the main body and the second wheel being connected to the second part of the main body.

According to a fourteenth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus having:

a main body;

a first wheel positioned at or near a first end of the main body;

a second wheel positioned at or near a second end of the main body; and

a chamber for receiving dirt;

wherein access to the chamber is gained through an opening in one of the wheels.

According to a fifteenth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the first aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the second to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a sixteenth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the second aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first or third to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a seventeenth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the third aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first, second or fourth to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a eighteenth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the fourth aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to third or fifth to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a nineteenth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the fifth aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of first to fourth or sixth to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a twentieth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the sixth aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to fifth or seventh to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a twenty-first aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the seventh aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to sixth or eighth to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a twenty-second aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the eighth aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to seventh or ninth to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a twenty-third aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the nine aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to eighth or tenth to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a twenty-fourth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the tenth aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to ninth or eleventh to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a twenty-fifth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the eleventh aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to tenth or twelfth to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a twenty-sixth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the twelfth aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to eleventh or thirteenth to fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a twenty-seventh aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the thirteenth aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to twelfth or fourteenth aspects of the invention.

According to a twenty-eighth aspect of the invention we provide a surface cleaning apparatus according to the fourteenth aspect of the invention including one or more or all of the features of any one of the first to thirteenth aspects of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the various aspects of the invention will now be described by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, of which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of an apparatus according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a further perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a first perspective view of a main body of the apparatus;

FIG. 4 is a second perspective view of the main body of the apparatus;

FIG. 5 is a third perspective view of the main body of the apparatus;

FIG. 6 is a fourth perspective view of the main body of the apparatus;

FIG. 7 is a fifth perspective view of the main body of the apparatus;

FIG. 8 is a sixth perspective view of the main body of the apparatus;

FIG. 9 is cross-sectional view of the main body perpendicular to its axis with the apparatus shown in a first rotated operational position;

FIG. 10 is cross-sectional view of the main body perpendicular to its axis with the apparatus shown in a second rotated operational position;

FIG. 11 is a side view of the main body;

FIG. 12a is a further side view of the main body with a lid to a dirt chamber thereof in an open condition;

FIG. 12b is a perspective view corresponding to FIG. 12a;

FIG. 13 is a plan view of the main body;

FIG. 14 is an underside view of the main body;

FIG. 15 is a side cross-sectional view of the main body and component parts housed therein with a lid to a dirt chamber thereof in an open condition;

FIG. 16 is a side cross-sectional view of the main body and the component parts housed therein;

FIG. 17 is a plan cross-sectional view of the main body and the component parts housed therein;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the components housed in the main body;

FIG. 19 is a side view corresponding to FIG. 18;

FIG. 20 is a perspective cross-sectional view through a second cyclonic separator device of the apparatus;

FIG. 21 is a plan view of the apparatus in use;

FIG. 22 is a side cross-sectional view of a second embodiment of an apparatus in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 23 is a perspective view of a removable dirt collecting chamber of the second embodiment;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of the second embodiment with the chamber removed therefrom; and

FIG. 25 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of an apparatus in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring firstly to FIGS. 1 to 21, these show a first embodiment of a surface cleaning apparatus 10 embodying a number of the aspects of the invention. In short, the apparatus 10 includes a main body 12, a first wheel 14 positioned at a first end of the main body 12 and a second wheel 16 positioned at an opposite, second, end of the main body 12. The wheels are rotatable about a respective wheel axis. The main body is generally cylindrical and has a generally elongate axis A which extends lengthwise of the main body 12 between the wheels 14, 16.

The main body 12 is shaped such that an exterior surface thereof is generally concave, with the exterior surface extending circumferentially around the axis A. In more detail, in this particular embodiment the main body 12 has a central region C with respective side portions R, L which sit between the central region C and each of the wheels 14, 16. It can be seen from the figures that a radius Y of each of the portions R, L increases as the exterior surface of that portion extends from the central region C towards each wheel 14, 16. In other words, the portions R, L flare outwardly as they extend towards the wheels 14, 16.

It will be appreciated that the shape of the main body 12 ensures that there is a generally concave portion provided on a floor facing portion of the exterior surface of the main body 12, which provides a space S when the apparatus is positioned on a floor surface F with both wheels 14, 16 contacting the floor surface F. The space S provides a space/recess for a biasing device 80, which will be discussed in greater detail later.

Whilst in the present example the main body 12 is generally symmetrical about a plane which extends transversely through the central portion C and the axis A, it should be appreciated that other shapes of the main body 12 could be utilised without departing from the scope of the present invention. It need not be the case that the exterior surface of the main body 12 is generally symmetrical about the axis A. For example, the main body 12 could be shaped such that a space S is provided between the main body and the floor surface F whilst an upwardly facing surface of the main body 12 is not provided with any concave portion or the like (it could be convex, for example). In this particular example it is beneficial for the radius of the ground engaging surfaces of the first and second wheels 14, 16 to be greater than the largest width of the main body when measured transversely of the axis A. This ensures that the main body does not foul the floor surface F when the apparatus is in use.

The main body 12 houses a suction motor 140, suction fan 150, a first cyclonic separator device 110, a second cyclonic separator device 210 and a chamber 100 for receiving and storing dirt. The position and shape of these component parts and their interaction will be discussed in more detail later. The main body 12 is made out of a plastics material such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). The material is opaque but it could also be made of a translucent or transparent material to permit a visual indication for the user of the level of dirt within the chamber 100. The wheels are made of a rubber material.

Whilst in the present embodiment the wheels 14, 16 are rotatable about axes which are coaxial with each other and coaxial with the axis A of the main body 12, this need not be the case. For example, embodiments are envisaged where the rotational axes of the wheels are offset from the axis A. Embodiments are also envisaged where the rotational axes of the first and second wheels are neither coaxial with each other nor parallel with each other. For example, the rotational axes of the wheels 14, 16 maybe inclined relative to the axis A of the main body.

Each wheel is provided as an annular member which is supported for rotation by a generally circular exterior surface of a part 15, 17 of the main body. In other words, the parts 15, 17 of the main body provide a race which supports the annular wheel member 14, 16 and permits it to rotate smoothly about its axis. Alternative configurations of the wheel could be utilised without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, one or both wheels could be mounted for rotation on a common axle or respective axles which is/are connected to the main body.

It can be seen from the figures that the apparatus 10 includes a handle 18 which is connected to the main body 12 at the end of the main body 12 which supports the wheel 16. The user graspable handle 18 is connected to the main body 12 through the opening provided by the configuration of the annular wheel member 16. This permits a user to move the apparatus 10 to a desired location. For example, the handle 18 permits the user to stand the apparatus 10 on the end of the apparatus 10 which supports the wheel 14 such that the axis A of the main body is substantially vertical. For example, this configuration may be utilised when a user is using the apparatus for cleaning a flight of stairs, or when storing the apparatus.

As can be seen from the figures the handle 18 extends diametrically across the end of the body 12 through the axis A of the main body and the handle is smaller than a diameter of the exterior surface of the wheel 16. This ensures that the handle 18 does not foul the floor surface F when the apparatus is being moved along the floor surface F.

Whilst in the present example the handle 18 is fixed and not moveable relative to the main body 12, other embodiments are envisaged where the handle is moveable between stored and operable positions. For example the handle may be moveable towards and away from the central region C of the main body 12 so that it can be moved between stored and operable positions. There may also be provided a device for holding the handle in either or both of its stored/operable positions. One benefit of such an embodiment would be that the handle or a substantial portion thereof is positioned within a recess in the end of the main body which ensures that the apparatus can be stood substantially vertically on that end of the body.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 the apparatus 10 includes a tool 22 for engaging a floor surface and a conduit/hose 20 connecting the floor tool 22 to the main body 12. These components are well known in the art of such cleaners and thus will not be described in further detail.

The conduit 20 includes a flexible section which connects to a primary air inlet 70 of the apparatus. The primary inlet 70 is positioned substantially midway between the first and second wheels 14, 16 and in normal use extends vertically downwardly through an exterior surface of a main body and into an interior of the main body 12.

Referring particularly to FIG. 15 the primary air inlet connects, by way of a passage/inlet 72, to an inlet to the first cyclonic separator device 110 so as to direct incoming air (containing dirt particles and the like) in the direction of arrow 71 until it enters the first cyclonic separator device 110.

The first cyclonic separator device 110 in the present example is a “throw-off” separator, the operation of which is well known in the art. The separator device 110 has a tangential inlet 72 into a generally cylindrical chamber 112, which has an axis coaxial with axis A. A dirt outlet 113 is positioned peripherally at one end of the chamber 112 (the end closest the wheel 14), and the device (110) also includes an air outlet 114, which is also generally cylindrical with apertures 115 through which air passes in a direction of arrow 116 (coaxial with axis A) to the second cyclonic separator device (210) (discussed in detail later).

The chamber 112 sits within the chamber 100 for receiving dirt and the dirt outlet 113 is in fluid communication with the chamber 100 so that dirt can pass therethrough and into the chamber 100.

The dirt outlet 113 is configured for directing dirt into the chamber 100 in a direction 111 which is generally opposite to the direction of air passing into the primary air inlet 70. In particular, the dirt is directed generally anti-parallel to the direction of air passing into the primary air inlet 70. By way of illustration, when the apparatus is in an operating condition with both wheels 14, 16 engaging a generally horizontal floor surface F air containing dirt passes through the primary air inlet 70 substantially vertically downwardly and into the main body 12. Dirt which has been separated from the air flow by the device 110 passes generally vertically upwardly through the dirt outlet 113 and into the chamber 100 where it falls under gravity to a lower part of the chamber 100.

The configuration/position of the dirt outlet 113 is advantageous as it reduces the risk of clogging of the dirt outlet 113 as a result of dirt build up in the chamber 100. As will be described later, the apparatus 10 includes a device 80 for limiting the rotational movement of the main body 12 about its axis A. The biasing device 80, whilst not essential, also assists the positioning of the dirt outlet 113 to ensure that it does not rotate too far axially about the axis A so as to reduce the likelihood of clogging.

As can be seen from the figures, the main body 12 also houses a second cyclonic separator device 210 which includes a plurality of smaller cyclonic separators 211 which are positioned as an array around the axis A. Such devices are well known in the art. Each device 211 has a tangential inlet 212 in fluid communication with the outlet 114 from the first cyclonic separation device 110, and a dirt outlet 213. The dirt outlet 213 communicates with a space 214 in the main body which provides a storage volume for dirt separated from the separators 211. As can be seen in FIGS. 12b and 15, the space 214 communicates with an axially extending passage 215 which terminates rear the wheel 14.

The passage 215 terminates at an entrance 216 which is positioned adjacent an entrance 101 to the chamber 100. Both entrances 101, 216 are closable/openable by the movement of a lid 19. The lid 19 is pivotally connected to the main body 12 by a pivotal connection 19a and is moveable between closed and open positions. The lid 19 includes a projecting portion 19b, positioned substantially opposite the pivotal connection 19a, which engages with a catch part 50a (described in more detail later) in order to hold the lid 19 in its closed position. In its closed position the lid blocks the entrances 101, 216, but in its open position it permits a user to empty any dirt contained within the chamber 100 and passage 215.

Each of the devices 211 has an air outlet 217 which communicates with a space supporting a pre-motor filter 90. The air filter 90 is removeable from the main body 12 by way of an aperture 91 in an exterior surface of the main body 12 (see FIG. 6). This ensures that the filter 90 can be cleaned and/or replaced, when necessary.

Positioned within the main body 12 is a suction motor 140 which has a rotor 141 driveably connected to a suction fan 150. These component parts are positioned along the axis A of the main body 12 and, when powered, provide a suitable source of suction in order to draw air through the primary air inlet 70, first cyclonic separation device 110, second cyclonic separation device 210 and filter 90. Positioned adjacent a rear end of the suction motor 140 (near the wheel 16) is a post-motor filter 160 which is covered by a cover member 161 connected to the main body 12. Air passes through this further filter 160 and apertures in the cover part 161 to atmosphere. The cover 161 is removable so that the filter 160 can be cleaned or replaced, when necessary.

The apparatus 10 also includes a cable storage device 170 for storing electrical cable 68 for providing power to the suction motor 140. In the present example the cable storage device 170 includes an annularly shaped moveable part 171 which is rotatable about the axis A around a housing of the suction motor 140. In the present example the cable storage device 170 includes means for biasing the cable 68 to be pulled into an interior of the main body 12 such that the cable is coiled around the annular part 171.

A free end of the cable 68 is connected to a plug 69 which, when the cable 68 is fully stored, is at least partially received in a recess 67 in the main body 12. The positioning of the cable storage device 170 around the housing of the suction motor 140 ensures a very compact construction.

Whilst in the present example the cable storage device 170 is rotatable about an axis which is coaxial with the elongate axis A of the main body, it need not be so. It could be parallel with an axis which is offset from the rotational axis A. In addition, whist the rotational axis of the cable storage device 170 is coaxial with the rotational axis of the wheels 14, 16, it could be parallel to those axes or indeed inclined relative thereto.

In alternative embodiments, the cable storage device need not be positioned around the housing of the motor. For example it could be positioned between the motor 140 and the filter 160, between the filter 90 and the suction fan 150, or indeed in any other location within the interior of the main body 12.

Whilst the cable storage device 170 is rotatable about an axis generally parallel to the axis A of the main body, it could be rotatable about an axis which extends transversely to the axis A. Also, whilst the cable storage device 170 includes means for biasing the cable 68 to be drawn into the interior of the main body 12, embodiments are envisaged which include a manually operable means for winding the cable 68 into the main body 12. For example there could be a handle accessible outside of the main body 12 which a user moves so as to rotate the annular member 171 so as to wind the cable into the interior of the main body 12.

As mentioned previously, the apparatus 10 includes a device 80 for biasing the main body to a first position relative to a surface F being cleaned. In particular the biasing device 80 is configured to bias the main body 12 to a position in which the primary air inlet 70 is inclined substantially vertically. In more detail, the biasing device 80 includes first and second floor engaging members in the form of a pair of wheels 81, 82 which are supported for rotation about respective axes. Each wheel 81, 82 is connected to the main body by a pair of pivotally moveable members 84, 85, 87, 88. The members or arms 85, 88 include a forked end portion which receives the wheel 81, 82 and an opposite end of the arm 85, 88 is pivotally supported relative to the main body. The members or arms 84, 87 are pivotally connected at one end to the wheels 81, 82 by way of an aperture 86, 89, whilst an opposite end of each arm 84, 87 is pivotally and slidably moveable relative to the main body 12. The arms 84, 87 are connected to each other by a biasing device which biases the wheels 81, 82 towards each other.

The wheels 81, 82 are therefore positioned each to one side of the axis A of the main body and moveable in directions M1, M2, transverse, in this particular example perpendicularly, to the axis A of the main body 12.

The biasing mechanism in this particular example is a spring (not shown) which extends transversely of the axis A of the main body 12 between the arms 84, 87.

Whilst in the present example the biasing device 80 is connected to the central region C of the main body 12, it could be provided at any position along the main body 12.

In FIG. 20, the wheels 81, 82 are shown in respective first conditions, which correspond to the primary air inlet 70 being aligned substantially vertically. FIGS. 9 and 10 show the movement of the wheels 81, 82 when the main body 12 is rotated in either direction about its axis A. FIG. 9 is an end cross sectional view through the main body 12 looking towards the wheel 16, where the main body has been rotated anti-clockwise about the axis A. It can be seen that the wheel 81 has maintained contact with the surface F, but with the arms 87, 88 pivoting outwardly so as to permit that movement of the wheel 81. It can also be seen that the wheel 82 is no longer in engagement with the floor surface F.

In FIG. 10 the main body has been rotated clockwise about the axis A, which results in the wheel 82 being maintained in contact with the floor surface F, with the arms 84, 85 pivoting outwardly, but with the wheel 81 no longer in engagement with the floor surface F.

Both of the configurations shown in FIGS. 9 and 10 require a user to be applying a rotational force to the main body by virtue of pulling on the hose 20. This would occur when a user pulls on the hose 20 so as to move the main body 12 along the floor surface F with the wheels 14, 16 rotating about their respective axes. Once the user decreases or removes the force applied to the main body 12, the biasing device 80 is configured to rotate the main body about its axis A to the neutral condition, with the primary air inlet 70 positioned substantially vertically. The limits of movement of the wheels 81, 82 ensure that the main body 12, and particularly the chamber 112 of the first cyclonic separation device 110 do not rotate too far about the axis A, in order to ensure that dirt is free to exit the chamber 112 through the outlet 113 and into the chamber 100 where it is collected.

It can also be seen from the figures that the concave shape of the floor facing surface of the main body provides a space for provision of the biasing device 80, which provides for a compact configuration of the apparatus, whilst maintaining enough volume within the interior of the main body to house the operating components of the apparatus 10.

Advantageously, the apparatus 10 includes a plurality of deflector members 41, 42, 43, 44 connected to the main body 12. The purpose of the deflector members 41, 42, 43, 44 is to provide protection to the main body 12 and also to assist a user in manoeuvring the apparatus whilst cleaning. The deflector members 41, 42, 43, 44 advantageously assist the user in manoeuvring the apparatus past fixed objects e.g. door frames, chairs, tables (see FIG. 21).

In this particular example the apparatus 10 includes two pairs of deflector members 41, 42, 43, 44. It should be appreciated, however, that embodiments are envisaged where one or more deflector members are utilised.

In more detail, for conciseness, it should be noted that deflector members 41, 42, are substantially mirror images of each other about a plane which extends perpendicularly through the axis A and the central region C. Furthermore, the deflector members 43, 44 are mirror images of each other about a plane which extends through the axis A and through the primary air inlet 70. Thus, only the deflector members 41 and 43 will be described in detail.

The deflector member 41 is positioned between the primary air inlet 70 and the wheel 14 and extends therebetween in a direction substantially parallel with the axis A. The deflecting member 41 includes a pair of generally parallel upstanding walls 45, 46, each of which includes a portion which extends over an upwardly facing exterior surface of the wheel 14. These portions are connected to each other by a part 49.

When viewed side on (see FIG. 11), each wall 45, 46 includes an outwardly facing surface or edge which tapers towards the axis A of the main body. The edge 47 is positioned closest to the wheel 14 and tapers towards the axis A as it extends towards the axis A as it extends towards the wheel 14. Connected to the portion 47 by a curved portion is the portion 48 which tapers towards the axis A as it extends towards the primary air inlet 70.

A space between the walls 45, 46 provides a space or recess in which is positioned a user operable control 50, 56 for the apparatus 10. In the present example the user operable control 50 positioned in the recess or space of the deflector member 41 is a pivotally moveable to control the opening of the lid 19. This can be seen in greater detail in the cross sectional view shown in FIG. 15. The user operable control 50 has a projection/catch part 50a which engages with the part 19b on the lid in order to hold the lid 19 in its closed position, and the member 50 is biased to that position by a suitable spring or the like. When a user depresses the member 50 the projection 50a pivots out of engagement with the part 19b so as to permit the lid 19 to move to its open configuration (the lid could be biased to its open configuration, again by a suitable spring or the like).

The space or recess provided in the deflector member 42 also supports a user operable control 56 which is the power button for providing electrical connection between a mains supply and the suction motor 140. It should be appreciated that other user operable controls could be provided within the spaces or recesses in the deflective members. Whilst no user operable controls are provided in the corresponding spaces in the deflector members 43, 44, they could be provided if desired as an alternative or addition to the members 50, 56.

The deflector member 43 is positioned close to the primary air inlet 70 and extends circumferentially around a portion of the main body 12. Again, the deflector member 43 includes a pair of upstanding walls 57, 58 which are generally parallel with each other and which extend outwardly away from the axis A of the main body 12. Each wall includes a portion 60 which extends from close to the primary air inlet 70 and outwardly away from the axis, with the portion having an edge which tapers outwardly away from the axis A as it extends away from the primary air inlet 70. The wall portion 60 is connected by a curved portion to a further edge portion 59 which extends downwardly towards the floor surface F. The edge portion 59 tapers towards the axis A of a main body as it extends downwardly away from the edge portion 60, and circumferentially around the body 12. Again, space is provided between the wall portions where user operable controls or the like could be positioned.

Referring now to FIG. 21, this shows one advantage of the deflector members in accordance with the present embodiment. When a user is using the apparatus 10 they typically will pull on the hose 20 so as to move the main body along the floor surface F. It can often be the case that a user moves from one room to another through, for example, a doorway and may well engage the apparatus with a frame (“object”). In prior art apparatus it can be the case that the main body of the apparatus can become stuck behind the object and the user then has to manually move the apparatus laterally to avoid the object. However, the deflector members, particularly deflector members 41, 42, ensure that even when the main body of the apparatus engages such an object, a force P exerted on the hose 20 results in the apparatus 10 moving in the direction Q because the deflector member provides a sliding surface which slides past the object providing the obstruction.

The positioning of the user operable controls 50, 56 within the spaces or recesses in the deflector members 41, 42, ensures that they are somewhat protected from any damage as a result of collisions between the apparatus and fixed objects.

Referring particularly to FIGS. 22 to 24, these show a second embodiment of an apparatus which utilises various of the aspects of the present invention. Components and features which are common with the first embodiment have been given the same reference numeral with the addition of a prime symbol. The only difference when compared with the first embodiment is that the apparatus 10′ has a chamber 100′ for receiving dirt which is removeable in a direction parallel and coaxial with the axis A′ of the main body 12′. This ensures that a user can remove the chamber 100′ and take it to a bin or the like to empty its contents. FIGS. 22 to 24 show the chamber 100′ in its removed position. It can be seen that the chamber 100′ includes a handle 105 to assist a user in removing it from the remainder of the apparatus. The chamber 100′ is generally cylindrical (as seen in FIGS. 23 and 24) and is supported within the main body 12 in a recess 106. An entrance to the recess 106 is provided through the opening of the end of the main body 12′ which supports the wheel 14′.

Whilst not shown in the figures, access to the chamber may be closed by a lid or the like which is moveable between open and closed positions. For example a lid similar in a construction to the lid 19 of the first embodiment could be utilised positioned at either end of the chamber 100′.

Whilst not shown in the figures, the chamber 100′ may be connectable to the remainder of the main body by a bayonet-type connection, or any other suitable connection. For example, the connection may require a user to insert the chamber 100′ into the recess 106 and then rotate the chamber (or the remainder of the main body) about the axis A′ so as to lock the components relative to one another.

Referring to FIG. 25, this shows a third embodiment of an apparatus utilised in various aspects of the present invention. Features in common with the first embodiment have been given the same reference numeral with the addition of two prime symbols. Features in common with the second embodiment have been given the same reference numeral with the addition of a further prime symbol.

In this embodiment the main body includes first 12a and second 12b parts which are removeably connectable to each other. The wheel 14″ is positioned at one end of the first part 12a of the main body and the second wheel 16″ is positioned at an opposite end of the part 12b of the main body. In the present embodiment the first part 12a houses the first cyclonic separation device 110″ and the chamber 100″, together with a lid 19″ in order to permit a user to empty dirt contained within the chamber 100″. The second part 12b supports the remainder of the component parts of the apparatus, particularly the second cyclonic separator device 210″ (although a second cyclonic separator is not essential), the suction motor, suction fan and cable storage device. FIG. 25 illustrates there being suitable fluid tight connections between the first and second parts 12a, 12b of the main body so as to permit the flow of air to pass from the primary air inlet 70″ to the first cyclonic separation device 110″ by way of the passage 72″, and also for air to pass from the first cyclonic separation device 110″ through the passage 114″ to the second cyclonic separation device 210″. Any suitable connection may be provided between the facing ends of the first and second parts 12a, 12b. For example, a bayonet-type connection could be utilised which would require rotational movement of the first or second parts 12a, 12b relative to one another about the elongate axis A″ of the main body.

It should be appreciated that the component parts housed within the main body could be moved to different locations within the first and second parts 12a, 12b. For example, either of the first or second parts may support the suction motor, first cyclonic separation device, second cyclonic separation device and suction fan.

Whilst in the present embodiment described above the apparatus 10, 10′, 10″ utilises first and second cyclonic separation devices, it should be appreciated that embodiments are envisaged which include only a single cyclonic separator device, which may or may not be a throw-off type separator. Furthermore, embodiments are envisaged which do not include a cyclonic separator, but instead utilise a receptacle, bag or the like for collecting dirt which is supported within the chamber 100, 100′, 100″. In addition, embodiments are envisaged which do not include a cable storage device, although it is desirable for the apparatus to be provided with such a device in order to ensure compact storage of the electrical cable 68.

As can be seen from the figures the axis A, A′, A″ of the main body passes through the chamber 100, 100′, 100″ for receiving dirt and the suction motor 140. In addition, the suction motor and the chamber for receiving dirt are located at respective positions along the axis A, A′, A″ of the main body which permits a very compact and generally cylindrical shape of the main body. In the present embodiment the axes of the suction motor 140, 140′, 140″ and the chamber 100, 100′, 100″ are coaxial with the axis A, A′, A″ of the main body, but in alternative embodiments they could be parallel to the axis A, A′, A″ and offset therefrom.

It will also be seen from the figures that the first and second cyclonic separator devices 110, 210, 110′, 210′, 110″, 210″ are also located at respective positions along the axis of the main body. In other words, the various component parts are aligned generally side by side at respective positions along the axis A of the main body which provides for a very compact “series” configuration of the component parts. Whilst in the present embodiment the axis A, A′, A″ of the main body passes through each of the suction motor, chamber for receiving dirt, first cyclonic separator device and second cyclonic separator device, embodiments are envisaged where the axis A, A′, A″ of the main body passes through two or three of these component parts.

Whilst an axis of the rotor 141, 141′, 141″ of the motor 140, 140′, 140″ is, in the present embodiments, coaxial with the axis A, A′, A″, it could be oriented generally transverse to the axis A and/or of the rotational axis of the wheels 14, 16, 14′, 16′, 14″, 16″. In addition, the chamber for receiving dirt could also be oriented substantially perpendicularly to that shown, with its axis being generally transverse of the axis A, A′, A″ of the main body.

Whilst in the above examples a “dry” apparatus is taught, it should be appreciated that the apparatus could be modified to be a “wet” system, i.e. utilising a source of cleaning fluid within the apparatus which is applied to the floor surface before being sucked back in to a chamber within the main body.

In each of the embodiments the chamber is capable of receiving dirt, which definition encompasses either directly receiving dirt or there being a bag or the like supported within the chamber which itself collects dirt.

The axis of the main body is a generally elongate axis thereof which in this example extends lengthwise of the apparatus between the first and second wheels.

When used in this specification and claims, the terms “comprises” and “comprising” and variations thereof mean that the specified features, steps or integers are included. The terms are not to be interpreted to exclude the presence of other features, steps or components.

The features disclosed in the foregoing description, or the following claims, or the accompanying drawings, expressed in their specific forms or in terms of a means for performing the disclosed function, or a method or process for attaining the disclosed result, as appropriate, may, separately, or in any combination of such features, be utilised for realising the invention in diverse forms thereof.