CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
- FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present application claims priority to Great Britain Application No. 0425461.1, titled “Collapsible Rocker Chair” filed Nov. 18, 2004, the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to rocker chairs and in particular to rocker chairs for infants which are formed around a collapsible frame.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Infant rocker seats are well known in the art which are collapsible for compact storage. Strict safety legislation exists relating to the design of such collapsible rocker seats, in particular relating to the locking system utilised to prevent accidental collapse of the frame when an infant is seated therein. In order to meet these requirements, one existing design of collapsible rocker seat utilises two separate locking systems which are remotely located from each other, a user being required simultaneously to release a first lock with one hand and a second lock with the other hand. This system has the drawback, however, that it is very cumbersome to operate since both hands of the user are required to release the locks making it difficult then to press the frame towards its closed position.
According to the present invention there is provided a collapsible chair frame comprising a base having a pair of longitudinally extending side bars, a first pair of brackets attached proximate to a first end of each side bar so as to be freely rotatable about a first axis substantially perpendicular to said side bars, an actuation member extending between and rotatably connected to each bracket of said first pair so as to be rotatable relative to said first pair of brackets about a second axis parallel to but offset from said first axis, a second pair of brackets secured proximate to a second end of each side bar, a first pair of support bars each having a first end secured to a respective one of opposing ends of said actuation member and a second end having engagement means provided thereon, each of said first pair of support bars extending from said actuation member at an inclined angle substantially towards said second end of its respective side bar, and a second pair of support bars which extend at an inclined angle substantially towards said first end of its respective side bar, each second support bar having a first end rotatably connected to a respective one of said second pair of brackets and a second end having engagement means provided thereon, said engagement means of the second end of each of said second pair of support bars engaging with the engagement means of the second end of an associated one of the first pair of support bars, such that each of said second pair of support bars and its associated one of the first pair of support bars are constrained to rotate together, wherein said actuation member further includes locking means engageable with said first pair of brackets to secure said actuation member against rotation relative to said brackets, release means operable to move said locking means from a locked position to an unlock position in order to release said actuation member for rotation relative to said first pair of brackets, and safety catch means which, in a first position interacts with the release means to prevent operation thereof and in a second position is released from said release means so as to enable operation thereof to unlock said actuation member from said brackets.
A collapsible chair frame in accordance with the invention has the advantage that the provision of the release means and the safety catch means necessitates operation of the two separate catches in sequence in order to enable collapse of the frame, thereby reducing the possibility of accidental collapse, whilst the two catches can be configured to enable operation with a single hand of a user, thereby simplifying the collapse operation.
Preferably, a housing is provided on each side of the frame in which are received the second end of a respective one of each of the first pair of support bars and the second pair of support bars so as to maintain the engagement means provided thereon in engagement. More particularly, the second end of each of the first and second pairs of support bars are pivotally mounted in their respective housing, for example by means of through pins, which maintain said ends in positions in which their engagement means are engaged. The engagement means may particularly advantageously take the form of gear teeth which may be formed directly on the second end of the each of the first and second support bars, or may alternatively be formed on end plates which are separately attached to said second ends.
The base of the frame preferably includes a pair of end bars which extend from proximate ends of the side bars transversely of said side bars towards each other, each of said first pair of brackets being rotatably mounted on the end of a respective one of the end bars and the actuation member, which preferably takes the form of a handle, then extends between said brackets substantially parallel to said end bars.
Preferably, tubing defining the plane of the seat and the back of the chair extend between said side housings, in particular each of the back tubing and the seat tube being substantially U-shaped with one end engaged in each of the side housings. The back tubing may advantageously be pivotally connected to said side housings and include locking means operable to lock the back tube in a number of different pivotal positions relative to the side housing, thereby enabling adjustment of the angle of the back of the seat.
The locking means preferably takes the form of a pair of pins which extend from opposing ends of the actuation means and engage in complementary shaped recesses formed in said first brackets, when the actuation means is properly aligned therewith, in order to lock said actuation means against relative rotation, said release means operating to retract said pins from said recesses in order to enable relative rotation to take place. The pins are then attached either to common sides of separate pivot levers or opposing sides of a common pivot lever, operation of the release means causing rotation of the or each pivot lever in order to retract said pins.
In a particularly preferred embodiment, the release means is a button which projects from the side of the actuation member and is depressible thereinto in order to operate said locking means. More particularly, said button includes a pin which engages into cam openings formed in opposing pivot levers to which said locking pins are connected, movement of the button relative to said pivot levers causing rotation of said levers in opposing directions, which, in turn, pulls said locking pins in opposite directs into the actuation member. In this configuration, the safety catch takes the form of a button which is slidably mounted in the actuation member and has at least one projection which, in a first slide position of the safety catch, extends into the path of movement of the button so as to prevent operation movement thereof, and in a second position, is retracted from said path of movement so as to permit release of said locking pins. In a further development, the safety catch is slidably mounted for movement away from its first position in opposite directions such that in said first position the button is locked against movement, and upon movement away from the fist position in either direction, the button is free to be operated to release the locking pins. In this way, operation by both left and right-handed users is possible. Alternatively, however, the release means may take the form of a rotatable lever with the safety catch having a projection which engages into an opening in the lever so as to prevent rotation thereof. Preferably, biasing means such as a spring is associated with the safety catch which biases it into a position in which operational movement of the release means is prevent, the safety catch being manually retractable against the loading of the biasing means.
Other developments and improvements will follow from the embodiment examples described below.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In order that the invention may be well understood, there will now be described some embodiments thereof, given by way of example, reference being made to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a rocker seat frame according to the invention in an erect position;
FIGS. 2 a to 2 c are perspective views of the seat frame of FIG. 1 at various stages of collapse;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the seat frame of FIG. 1 in a collapsed position;
FIGS. 4 a to 6 b are enlarged views, at various stages of collapsed, of a gearing mechanism coupling the movement of front and rear legs of the seat frame of FIG. 1;
FIGS. 7 a and 7 b are an enlarged view of a locking mechanism of the seat frame according to a first embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 8 is a side view of the rocker seat of the invention;
FIG. 9 is a rear perspective view of the seat frame of FIG. 1 illustrating operation of a seat back adjustment mechanism; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 10 is an enlarged view of a locking mechanism of the seat frame according to a second embodiment of the invention.
Referring first to FIGS. 1 to 3, there is shown a collapsible frame structure 1 of an infant's rocker chair as an embodiment example of the present invention. The frame 1 comprises a base tube 10 having a first pair of longitudinally extending side bars 10 a, 10 b, a rear cross bar 10 c extending transversely between said side bars 10 a, 10 b at the rear of the frame 1, and a pair of front cross bars 10 d, 10 e which extend transversely from the front end of each side 10 a, 10 b co-axially towards each other partially across the front of the frame. As can be clearly seen in FIG. 4 a, the side bars 10 a, 10 b are curved such that the sides, front and rear bars together define a curved lower surface on which the base tube 10 can rock back and forth.
A mounting bracket 11 a, 11 b is rotatably mounted on the end of each of the front cross bars 10 d, 10 e of the base tube 10, each bracket having an arm 12 a, 12 b extending radially from the respective front cross bar 10 d, 10 e upon which it is mounted, and a release bar 13 extends between the mounting brackets and is pivotally attached to each of the arms 12 a, 12 b of the brackets 11 a, 11 b at a point offset from the front cross bars 10 d, 10 e such that the release bar 13 is rotatable relative to said brackets 11 a, 11 b about an axis which is parallel to but radially offset from the axis longitudinal axis of the front cross bars 10 d, 10 e.
The release bar 13 further includes a pair of locking pins 14 which extend along an axis which is parallel to but offset from the axis of rotation of the release bar 13 relative to the brackets 11 a, 11 b, which project from opposing ends of the release bar 13 and which are engageable in complementary shaped recesses formed in the brackets when the pins are substantially aligned with the front cross bars 10 d, 10 e so as to lock the release bar 13 against rotation relative to the brackets.
An aperture 15 which extends radially of the longitudinal axis of the release bar 13 is formed in each end of the release bar 13 and are oriented such that they point upwards towards the rear of the frame at an inclined angle when the locking pins 14 are engaged in the recesses of the brackets 11 a, 11 b so as to lock the release bar to the brackets as shown in FIG. 1. A pair of front support bars 16, 17 each have a first end 16 a, 17 a which engages in one of the apertures 15 in the release bar 13 and is secured therein by means of a cross bolt, and a second end 16 b, 17 b on which is fastened a geared plate 18 and which is pivotally housed within a respective side housing 2 a, 2 b. A pair of rear support brackets 20 a, 20 b are also fixed to the base tube 10, one being connected to each side bar 10 a, 10 b in longitudinal alignment proximate to the rear cross bar 10 c, each support bracket 20 a, 20 b having an associated rear support bar 21, 22 pivotally attached thereto at one end 21 a, 22 a, the associated rear support bar extending forwardly from the support bracket 20 a, 20 b, being pivotally connected to a respective one of the side housings 2 a, 2 b at a point which is offset from the point of pivotal attachment of the corresponding front support bar 16, 17, and having a geared plate 24 fastened to its upper end 21 b, 22 b, the teeth of which mesh with the teeth of the geared plate 18 of the correspond front support bar 16, 17. In this way, the front and rear support bars 16, 17, 21, 22 on each side of the frame are constrained to pivot within the side housings 2 a, 2 b together.
A substantially U-shaped seating tube 3 also has one end 3 a, 3 b securely fixed to each of the side housings 2 a, 2 b such that the orientation of the seating tube 3 is substantially fixed relative to the side housings 2 a, 2 b, and the seating tube 3 loops forward between the side housings 3 so as to form a front support for the chair. As shown in more detail in FIG. 4 b, each side housing 2 a, 2 b has a cylindrical recess 4 a, 4 b formed therein into which the corresponding end 3 a, 3 b of the seating tube 3 is close tolerance fit so that the seating tube is prevented from pivotal movement relative to the side housings 2 a, 2 b, the ends 3 a, 3 b being secured in the respective recesses 4 a, 4 b by means of a bolt 5 as shown in FIGS. 4 a to 6 b. It can also be seen that each end 3 a, 3 b has more than one through opening into which the bolts 5 are engageable, such that distance by which the seating tube 3 extends forward from the side housings 3 a, 3 b can be adjusted.
Similarly, a substantially U-shaped rear tube 6 also has one end 6 a, 6 b pivotally attached to each side housing 2 a, 2 b with the sides of the rear tube 6 extend substantially rearwardly from the side housings 2 a, 2 b as shown in FIG. 2 c. Locking means 7 is associate with the rear tube 6, in the form of a U shaped locking lever which engages with opposing ends 7 a, 7 b with locking recesses 8 formed in the side housings 2 a, 2 b to lock the rear tube in one of a plurality of different pivotal positions in a manner which is well known in the art and which will not therefore be described further.
Referring now to FIGS. 7 a and 7 b, there is shown a detailed view of a release mechanism housed within the release bar 13 for disengaging the pins 14 from the brackets 11 a, 11 b so as to enable the frame to be collapsed as described hereinafter. Each pin 14 is attached to a respective pull cable 30, which, in turn, are attached to a lever arm 31 c, 31 d of one of a pair of actuation plates 31 a, 31 b, each of which is pivotally mounted on one of a pair of spaced apart, parallel extending pivot posts 32 a, 32 b such that each plate 31 a, 31 b can be pivoted about the longitudinal axis of its associated post 32 a, 32 b in order to rotate its lever arm away from the end of the release bar 13 with which its locking pin 14 is associated and to retract the locking pin 14 into the release bar. The plates 31 a, 31 b furthermore overlap each other and each plate 31 a, 31 b has, formed in its overlapping section, a slot 33 a, 33 b, the sides of which form camming surfaces. A press button 34 is mounted in the release bar behind the plates 31 a, 31 b so as to be slidably movable relative thereto in a plane perpendicular to the axes of rotation of the plates 31 a, 31 b. The button 34 furthermore has an actuation pin 35 which engages in both slots 33 a, 33 b of the two plates 31 a, 31 b, such that upon sliding movement of the button 34 relative to the plates 31 a, 31 b in a first direction, a camming action is developed between the actuation pin 35 and the slots 33 a, 33 b which causes the lever arms 31 c, 31 d to rotate away from each other, thereby pulling the cables 30 away from the associated ends of the release bar 13 and hence retracting the pins thereinto, and upon sliding movement of the button 34 relative to the plates 31 a, 31 b in a second direction opposite said first direction, a camming action is developed between the actuation pin 35 and the slots 33 a, 33 b which causes the lever arms 31 c, 31 d to rotate towards each other, thereby relieving the tension in the cables 30. Springs 37 which are associated with each pin 14 and bias each said pin into an extending position then operate to return the pins 14 to their locking positions.
In order to prevent accidental operation of the press button 34, a slide button 36 is provided in the release bar 13 opposite the press button 34 which has projections 37 formed thereon which extend towards the press button 34. The slide button is slidably moveable laterally in a direction perpendicular to the direction of sliding movement of the press button 34 from a central position in which the projections 37 thereon engage with the press button 34 so as to prevent movement of the press button towards the slide button 36 and hence prevent release of the locking pins 14, in either a left or right direction to a side position in which the projections 37 are disengaged from the press button so that the press button is free to move towards the slide button in order to retract the pins 14 into the release bar as described above and hence unlock the release bar from the brackets. Springs 38 cooperate with the slide button 36 so as to bias it into its central position, and the projections 37 have inclined surfaces which engage with the press button 34 as the slide moves back towards its first position, developing a camming action therewith which urged the press button away from the slide button 36 and back into its locked position.
The frame operates as follows:
With the release bar 14 in its locked position shown in FIG. 1, the front support bars 16, 17 are locked in position due to their inability to pivot relative to the release bar 14, which, in turn, locks the rear support bars 18, 19 again movement due to the meshing engagement of the gear teeth carried on the ends 16 b, 17 b, 18 b, 19 b thereof which are housed within the side housings. The seat and rear tubes 6, 7 are therefore securely supported in elevated positions above the base tube 10 by the support bars 16, 17, 18, 19.
In order to collapse the frame, the user moves the slide button 36 towards its second position using the thumb and then presses the projection portion of the press button 34 using the fingers of the same hand, which causes the locking pins to be retracted into the release bar 13, thereby unlocking for rotation relative to the brackets 11 a, 11 b. The release bar can then be rotated about the brackets 11 a, 11 b, whilst, at the same time, the brackets 11 a, 11 b are pivoted about the front cross bars 10 e, 10 f. This double pivot allows the release bar to be translated forwards relative to the frame, moving the front ends 16 a, 17 a of the front support bars 16, 17 with it. This, is turn causes the front support bars 16, 17 to rotate anticlockwise relative to the side housings 2 a, 2 b, the meshing engagement of the teeth on the rear support bars 18, 19 causing those rear support bars to pivot clockwise relative to the side housings 2 a, 2 b, and the frame thereby collapses onto the base tube 10 under its own weight as shown in FIGS. 2 a to 3.
In order to re-erect the frame, the side housings 2 a, 2 b are simply lifted away from the base tube 10, which causes the release bar and brackets to move back into engagement and lock together.
It will, of course, be understood that the press button mechanism of FIG. 7 may be substituted with mechanism without departing from the invention. For example, a rotating lever may be utilised, a suite slide or press button being provided which releases and/or engages a pin into the lever plate so as to prevent its rotational movement and hence provide the necessary double lock.
Alternatively, each locking pin 14 may be connected to a linkage 102 which, in turn, connects to a rotating rod 103, rotation of the rod 103 causing a pin 103 a, 103 b carried eccentrically on the end thereof to move away from or towards the locking pin 14 so as, respectively, to pull or push an actuation lever 104 a, 104 b in order to retract or extend the pin. A press button 105 is then provided having an opening 106 formed therein in which engages an arm 107 which extends radially from the centre of the rod 103. The button is mounted in the release bar 13 for sliding movement both parallel and perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the rod 103, and the opening 106 is L-shaped such that, in a first longitudinal position of the press button 105 relative to the release bar 13, movement of the press button perpendicular to the rod by pressing it into the release bar 13 causes the opening 106 to movement relative to the arm 107 in the manner of a lost motion coupling without the sides thereof engaging the arm 107 and hence without effecting any rotation of the rod 107. Upon sliding the press button 105 longitudinally relative to the release bar 13 towards a second longitudinal position, the arm 107 is moved towards the closed end of the base of the L-shaped opening 106, whereupon movement of the press button towards the rod causes the arm 107 to be engaged by the side of the opening 106, moving it transversely relative to the rod 103 and thereby rotating the rod 103, which in turn, retracts the pins. Springs 109, 110 are provided within the release bar 13 which bias the press button both away from the rod 103 and longitudinally into its first longitudinal position as shown in FIG. 10.
In a variation of FIG. 10 which is not illustrated, instead of having an L-shaped opening in the press button, locking ribs may be provided on the casing of the release rod 13, which, when the button is in its first longitudinal position, engage with the press button to prevent its movement towards the rod but which, upon movement of the press button into its second longitudinal position, are aligned with slots formed in the press button so as to enable the button to be depressed and the pins thereby to be unlocked. In all embodiments, it will be seen that the double operation of the lock required to collapse the frame ensures that accidental release cannot occur.