This application claims benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to the filing date of to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/006,637, as filed on Jan. 24, 2008, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates generally to carts and more particularly to a housekeeping or service cart that facilitates trash collection.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A typical housekeeping cart comprises a frame supported on wheels such that the cart can be pushed or pulled around a service area. For example such carts are used in hotel housekeeping applications, janitorial services and the like. The frame may support shelves for carrying supplies, tool/equipment holders or the like. These carts also may include trash bag compartments where a plastic trash bag/bag liner is supported for receiving trash. Some carts use a pivoting door to close the trash bag compartment. In known carts the door pivots about a single axis and requires the user to hold the door open to access the trash compartment.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The cart comprises a platform supported on wheels such that the platform may be pushed or pulled across the floor. A plurality of vertical supports support an upper frame member at a spaced distance from the platform. The frame member defines a first opening disposed over a compartment. A door closes the opening to allow a user to isolate the compartment from the external environment. The door pivots from the closed position to the open position about two axes such that the door can be conveniently opened and the compartment accessed from different positions around the cart. In one open position the door extends generally vertically upward to a stop position that allows the door to be easily opened and closed. In the second open position the door opens sideways and is suspended downward along the side of the cart such that the door remains open without protruding vertically above the upper frame member thus preventing the door from blocking access to the compartment.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the cart of the invention.
FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view showing the door assembly of the cart of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the door in a first open position.
FIG. 4 is a more detailed view of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing the door moving toward a second open position.
FIG. 6 is a more detailed view of FIG. 5.
FIG. 7 is a perspective view showing the door in a second open position.
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a second embodiment showing the door in a first open position.
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 8 showing the door moving toward a second open position.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
An embodiment of the cart of the invention is shown generally at 1 in FIG. 1 and comprises a platform 2 supported on wheels 4 such that the platform may be pushed or pulled across the floor. The wheels 4 may comprise caster wheels that rotate around a vertical axis. In one alternate embodiment the cart includes a pair of caster wheels at the front of the cart and a pair of fixed wheels at the back of the cart. A plurality of vertical supports 6 support an upper frame member 8 at a spaced distance from the platform 2. The frame member 8 is positioned at a comfortable height where it can be accessed by a user. In the illustrated embodiment the frame member defines a first opening 10 disposed over a compartment 12. Compartment 12 may comprise a flexible bag or a rigid container. A disposable trash bag/bag liner may be positioned inside of the trash compartment 12 such that trash is deposited in the trash bag through opening 10. The trash bag can be removed from the compartment 12 and disposed of when filled. A door assembly 41 closes the opening 10 as will hereinafter be described. Compartment 12 may be used for other purposes than trash collection and removal.
The frame member 8 may also define a second opening 16 that retains a bucket 20 or other storage compartment. A storage bin 19 may also be supported below the second opening 16 for retaining equipment or supplies. The frame member 8 may also be provided with various tool/equipment holders such as floor sign hook 22, smaller storage compartments 24, hooks 26 for suspending cleaning implements, slots 28 for retaining broom or mop handles and/or other storage features. In the illustrated embodiment the platform 2 extends beyond the vertical supports 6 to create an open platform surface 30 on which a bucket, vacuum cleaner or the like may be supported. Further, the platform may extend beyond the sides of the frame 8 to create smaller platform surfaces 29 on which the head of a mop or broom may be supported with the handle located in slots 28. It will be appreciated that numerous changes in the layout of the cart 1 can be made including, for example, adding additional shelves, storage cabinets or the like. A handle 15 may be provided for pulling or pushing the cart.
Door assembly 41 includes a door 40 that closes the opening 10 to allow a user to isolate the trash compartment from the external environment. Door 40 is pivotably supported on movable frame 42 such that it pivots from the closed position to the open position about two axes such that the door can be conveniently opened and the compartment accessed from different positions around the cart. In one open position the door is easily open and closed. In the second open position the door extends downward along the side of the cart such that the door remains open and provides unobstructed access to the compartment 12. In both open positions the door remains open without the user having to manually hold the door open until a force is applied to the door to close the door. Door assembly 41 is configured to fit into opening 10 and close the opening when the movable frame 42 and door 40 are in the closed position.
Movable frame 42 comprises a form that is shaped and dimensioned to fit into opening 10. Movable frame 42 defines an internal opening 43 that is dimensioned to maximize the size of the opening 43 relative to opening 10.
Movable frame 42 has a first corner pivotably mounted near one corner of opening 10 and a second corner pivotably mounted near the opposite corner of opening 10 such that movable frame 42 pivots about axis A-A relative to the frame 8. In one embodiment the pivoting connection between the movable frame 42 and the frame 8 is created by extending pins 42a and 42b outward and along axis A-A. Pins 42a and 42b are inserted into holes 47 and 49 formed in the frame 8 such that the pins can rotate in the holes. The movable frame 42 extends about opening 10 such that it lies closely adjacent the periphery of opening 10 along side walls 10a, 10b and 10c.
One side edge 40a of the door 40 is pivotably connected to movable frame 42 such that it pivots about axis B-B relative to the bale 42. Door 40 is pivotably mounted on movable frame 42 such that axis B-B is perpendicular to axis A-A and in substantially the same plane. In one embodiment an axle 47 extends through holes 51 in the door 40 and is supported at each end in holes 53 in the movable frame 42 such that the door 40 can pivot on axle 47 about axis B-B. Other connection mechanisms may be used provided that door 40 can rotate relative to movable frame 42 about axis B-B.
The side walls 10a, 10b and 10c define a ledge 44 that extends around the periphery of opening 10 on which movable frame 42 rests when the door assembly is in the closed position. The side walls 10a, 10b and 10c and/or ledge 44 may also define hooks 49 or other structure for holding a disposable trash bag open in compartment 12.
In operation the user can pivot the door 40 to the open position by pivoting the door relative to frame 8 either along axis A-A or axis B-B. To temporarily open the door 40, the user grasps the side edge 42b of movable frame 42 opposite to axis A-A. The user lifts on edge 42b to pivot the movable frame 42 and door 40 about axis A-A. The door assembly 41 rotates about axis A-A a distance sufficient to allow access to trash compartment 12. In one embodiment the rotation of door assembly 41 about axis A-A is limited by the engagement of door assembly 41 against the beveled edge 8a of frame 8 such that door 40 is held in an upstanding substantially vertical position. The door assembly 41 can return to the closed position under the force of gravity if pushed by a user. The movable frame 42 and door 40 can also be returned to the closed position using a separate biasing mechanism such as a spring. It is contemplated that the door assembly 41 will open a sufficient distance such that it just remains in the open position in a generally vertical orientation where it can quickly and easily be closed by simply pushing the movable frame 42 closed. The end 40c of door 40 extends above the axis of rotation A-A. In this arrangement the movement of the door assembly 41 to the open position will be stopped when the door assembly 41 just passes the over-center position and is disposed substantially vertically extending upward from frame 8. Movement of the door assembly 41 is stopped by the engagement of the beveled surface 40e of door 40 with the beveled surface 8a of frame 8, although a separate stop may be used. A hand or finger grab 48 may be provided in movable frame 42 40 to allow the user to grasp edge 42b.
To fully open the door 40, the door 40 is grasped by the user along side edge 40c opposite to edge 40d that is disposed adjacent axis B-B. The user lifts on edge 40c to pivot the door 40 about axle 47 and axis B-B. A finger or hand grab 50 is provided along edge 40c of door 40 that allows the user to grab the edge of door 40. The door 40 rotates about axis B-B as door 40 pivots in the holes provided in frame 8. The axis B-B is disposed outside of the end wall 10d of opening 10 a distance sufficient to allow the door 40 to pivot until it is disposed substantially vertically and is suspended downwardly from the axle 47 as shown in FIG. 7. The end 40c of door 40 extends down below the axis of rotation B-B. In this position the door is completely out of the way of opening 10 and will remain in the open position until the user lifts and rotates door 40 about axis B-B to the closed position.
Pivoting the door assembly 41 about axis A-A allows the user to quickly open and close door assembly 41 to contain the unpleasant smell and appearance of the trash in compartment 12 such as in food courts. Such a use is also useful where the user is collecting trash less frequently and walks further between trash pick-ups. Pivoting the door 40 about axis B-B is useful in applications where odor and appearance are less of an issue and trash is collected frequently and the distance between trash pick-ups is short. The system allows the user to open and close the door quickly and/or leave the door open and out of the way for accessibility. The system of the invention also allows the user to access the trash compartment from different sides of the cart.
In one embodiment the door 40 and movable frame 42 are made of a plastic such as ABS plastic. Other materials may be used. Further, the system could be arranged with the frame 8 pivoted to the supports 6 such that the frame 8, rather than the movable frame 42, pivots around axis B-B.
In an alternate embodiment shown in FIGS. 8 and 9 a wire form bale 101 is pivotably supported near one end of the opening 102 in frame 108 and pivots about a first axis A-A. The bale 101 extends around three sides of the opening 102. One side edge 110a of the door 110 is pivotably connected to the bale 101 such that the door 110 it pivots about a second axis B-B that is perpendicular to the first axis A-A and in substantially the same plane. The bale 101 pivots about axis A-A to completely open the door 110 such that the door extends down and is suspended on the bale. FIG. 9 shows the door 110 in a partially open position. In the completely open position the door 110 will hang downward along one side of compartment 112 suspended from bale 101. The bale 101 and door 110 can be lifted and rotated to close the door. The door 110 can also be rotated about the bale 101 about axis B-B to open the door to a substantially vertical position where the door can be quickly and easily open and shut as shown in FIG. 8. In this position the engagement of the door 110 with the frame 108 stops the door in an upstanding substantially vertical position as shown.
Specific embodiments of an invention are disclosed herein. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the invention has other applications in other environments. Many embodiments are possible. The following claims are in no way intended to limit the scope of the invention to the specific embodiments described above.