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COLLAPSIBLE CLEANING IMPLEMENT
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of Invention
The invention relates to cleaning implements in general, 5 and more particularly to improvements in cleaning implements of the type known as mops. Still more particularly, the invention relates to improvements in cleaning implements of the type wherein the carrier for the mophead is collapsible.
2. Decsription of the Prior Art
It is well known in the art that cleaning implements may employ detachable mopheads having a carrier comprising two plate-like sections. Commonly, the sections are pivotable between first positions in which their lower surfaces are substantially coplanar and second positions in which their lower surfaces confront each other. The upper side of the carrier pivotably supports one end of an elongated handle, and the mophead is releasably connected to the outer portions of the sections so that it can be caused to hang downwardly beyond the sections in the second positions of 2Q such sections and to be more readily introduced into a supply of cleaning liquid or into a suitable wringer.
Other cleaning implements disclose attaching the mopheads to the carriers with a pair of pockets where each pocket receives one of the sections. In this arrangement, the 25 mophead is attached in a way that it is located between the confronting lower surfaces of the sections when the sections are caused or permitted to assume their second positions. Thus, the sections are supposed to act not unlike a wringer which is to expel moisture from the mophead between them. 30
Generally, conventional cleaning implements of the above outlined character are provided with locking devices which can releasably hold the sections of the mophead carrier in their first or operative positions. In this arrangement, the locking devices are engaged or activated in response to 35 exertion of requisite pressure upon the handle in a direction toward the upper side of the carrier while the mophead lies on the floor or on another support. The locking devices for both sections of the mophead carrier can be disengaged or deactivated in response to an abrupt pull upon the handle or 40 by pulling the handle while a foot presses the section to be unlocked against the floor.
It has been found that the above described manipulation of cleaning implements with a collapsible mophead carrier is rather unreliable. For example, the locking device for the 45 one and/or the other section of the carrier may be undesirably released or disengaged when the implement is caused to strike an elevation in the floor which is to be cleaned such as when the carrier strikes a stair. Thus, the operator in charge of manipulating a conventional mop must be on alert 50 at all times in order to immediately ascertain whether or not the one or the other section of the mophead carrier has become unlocked and is free to leave its operative position. This, in turn, interferes with the cleaning operation and renders such operation less reliable since the operator must 55 exercise extreme care to prevent the mop from striking an obstruction on the floor. Accordingly, one skilled in the art can best recognize that the locking devices for the pivotable sections are likely to become deactivated at an inopportune time. Each unintentional deactivation of a locking device 60 necessitates an interruption of the cleaning operation which is particularly undesirable when a mop is used to clean a relatively large surface and the operator is expected to complete the cleaning operation within a certain interval of time. 65
Proposals to enhance the locking action of heretofore known locking devices have met with limited success. The
locking force cannot be increased at will because this would necessitate a corresponding increase of the unlocking force. The unlocking force must be applied at certain intervals in order to replace a damaged (particularly worn) mophead or to permit thorough cleaning and subsequent wringing of the mophead. Moreover, if the implement is used to sweep solid impurities, the need for an increased pull in order to unlock the devices which hold the sections of the carrier in operative positions is likely to cause the accumulated solid impurities to fall off the mophead.
A somewhat greater locking force can be applied if the locking devices for the sections of the mophead carrier are disengaged one after the other. This involves the pressing of one section against the floor while the handle is pulled upwardly and away from the floor, and thereupon holding the other section against the floor while the pulling action upon the handle is repeated. This is a time-consuming operation which can affect the output of the user of such cleaning implements.
To overcome the disadvantages of the above cleaning implements, various other cleaning implements have been proposed. One such cleaning implement is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,218,734 to Sacks. Sacks teaches a cleaning implement that has two panels pivotably connected by a support. The panels are pivotable between first positions, where the panels are substantially coplanar, and second positions, where the panels are substantially confronting. A single actuator is provided which locks the panels in the first position.
As best appreciated by one skilled in the art, the cleaning implement to Sacks allows the user to unlock the panels from the first position to the second position by operating a single actuator. Also, the device to Sacks allows the user to unlock the device without operation by the user's hands. Instead, the actuator to Sacks is conveniently located so that it can be operated by the user's foot.
The device to Sacks substantially advances the art; yet, further improvements would be desirable. Although unlocking both panels is an improvement over conventional cleaning implements, this arrangement may be further improved. For instance, when the device to Sacks is used with mopheads having pockets that fit over each section, it becomes an awkward and time consuming maneuver to insert each section into a respective pocket. In the first position, the mophead is brought into a taut position and thus secured in place over the sections. In the second position, the panels are substantially coplanar. When in the second position, easy access to the mophead is substantially frustrated since the mophead is trapped between the confronting sections. Also, attaching a new mophead to the cleaning implement is substantially difficult and requires a great deal of contact between the operator and the cleaning implement. Contact between the operator and the cleaning implement is undesirable and unsanitary since cleaning implements often become soiled over time with use.
Accordingly, as can be seen from above, it would be desirable to have a cleaning implement that can be efficiently used with mopheads that are attached by pockets as well as with mopheads that are attached by flaps at the end portions of each of the sections. Further, it would also be desirable to have a cleaning implement where mopheads can be attached with minimal contact between the operator and the mophead.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
A first object of the invention is to provide a cleaning implement that can be collapsed, semi-collapsed and erected
in a simple and time saving manner. Another object of the invention is to provide a cleaning implement wherein both sections of the carrier can be released for movement to a collapsed position in response to the actuation of a single releasing device.
A further object of the invention is to provide a cleaning implement wherein one section of the carrier can be released for movement to a semi-collapsed position in response to the actuation of a single releasing device.
An additional object of the invention is to provide a single releasing device that a user can actuate without bending by the operator.
Still another object of the invention is to provide a cleaning implement with a novel and improved mechanism for selecting whether the single releasing device releases to a collapsed position or a semi-collapsed position.
In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the this invention, these and other objects and advantages are accomplished as follows.
The invention is embodied in a collapsible cleaning implement of the type commonly known as a mop. However, the novel aspects of this invention may be utilized with other similar cleaning implements. The improved cleaning implement of this invention comprises a carrier including first and second sections or panels each having an upper surface and a lower surface. The sections are pivotable relative to each other between a first position in which the lower surfaces of the two sections are substantially coplanar, a second position in which the lower surfaces substantially confront each other, and a third position in which the panels are retained in a position between the first position and the second position. The implement further includes a mechanism for releasably locking the sections in the first position. This mechanism includes a locking device that is actuatable such that the sections are retained in a first position where both of the end portions of the locking device are secured inside respective sockets on the carrier, a second position where both of the end portions are released from the sockets, and a third position where only one of the end portions is released from its respective socket. Finally, one novel aspect of this invention is that the cleaning implement also includes a selection mechanism that cooperates with the locking device. The selection mechanism has two orientations. The first orientation allows the sections to enter the third position once actuated. The second orientation of the selection mechanism allows the sections to enter the second position. Accordingly, the user may choose whether the cleaning implement moves to the second, collapsed, position or to the third, semi-collapsed, position.
In use, the collapsible cleaning implement can be collapsed by releasably locking the cleaning implement. The collapsible cleaning implement may achieve the second position where the sections are substantially confronting or a third position with the sections are retained between the first position and the second position. If the operator desires for the cleaning implement to enter the second position, the operator must perform only two steps. First, the operator must ensure that the selection mechanism is set to the second orientation. Next, the user must actuate the locking device. Once done, the sections are pivotable to a substantially coplanar position. However, if it is desired for the cleaning implement to enter the third position, the operator will once again need to follow a two step process. First, the operator must verify that the selection mechanism is set to the first orientation. Next, the user must actuate the locking device. Once done, the sections are pivotable to the third position which is between said first position and said second position.
One advantage of the above invention is that the user can more easily use this leaning implement with mopheads that are attached by pockets to the carrier. When the user sets the selection mechanism for the first position, the user has
5 sufficient slack to remove the previous mophead, if any. Next, the user can attach a new mophead by laying the mophead on the floor with the pockets facing upward relative to the ground. The user can then place the carrier over the mophead with the sections retained at an angle. Then, as the carrier is forced down on top of the mophead, each section is caught by its respective pocket and then is slid along the pocket until both sections are locked into the first position. As can be best appreciated by one skilled in the art, the second position is not capable of providing a similar attachment process. The sections when in the second position are substantially confronting and extend downward when the carrier is suspended above the ground. As such, pressure applied to the carrier would be transferred along a longitudinal axis of the carrier thus providing insufficient
2Q force tangential to the ground. Accordingly, the sections would not slide into the pockets of the mophead.
Another advantage of the above disclosed invention is that the cleaning implement of this invention allows the user to select which orientation the user desires. When in the first
25 orientation, the sections will be released into the third, semi-collapsed, position. When in the second orientation, the sections will be released into the second, collapsed, position. Accordingly, the above disclosed invention provides additional versatility over other conventional cleaning
30 implements. With each successive actuation, the same position (second position, third position) is achieved until the user sets the selection mechanism to either the first orientation or the second orientation.
Still another advantage of this invention is that the user
35 can release the collapsible cleaning implement into either the second position or the first position by operation of a single actuator. Advantageously, the user does not have to operate several different mechanisms to release the sections of the cleaning implement.
40 The novel features which are considered as characteristic of the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The improved cleaning implement itself, however, both as to its construction and its mode of operation, together with additional features and advantages thereof,
45 will be best understood upon review of the following detailed description of certain presently preferred specific embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
5Q The above and other advantages of this invention will become more apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a collapsible cleaning implement which embodies one form of the invention the
55 plate-like sections of a carrier for a mophead being shown in a first, operative, position and one yoke of the means for separably connecting the mophead to the sections being shown in the releasing position, the mophead being omitted for the sake of clarity;
go FIG. 2 is a fragmentary central longitudinal sectional view of the cleaning implement, with the sections of the carrier shown locked in the first position;
FIG. 3 is a similar fragmentary central longitudinal sectional view of the cleaning implement after being actuated to
65 move into the second position;
FIG. 4 is a similar fragmentary central longitudinal vertical sectional view showing the cleaning implement in the
third position with one of the sections released and the other section retained;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the cleaning implement, with a portion of the handle broken away and with the mophead connected to the sections with pockets on the 5 mophead;
FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the cleaning implement with the sections moved to their second positions and with the central portion of the mophead immersed into a supply of cleaning liquid in a vessel which is indicated by 10 broken lines; and
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary perspective view of the selection mechanism of the cleaning implement.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE 15
A cleaning implement is provided that can be retained in a first (operative) position a second (collapsed) position and a third (semi-collapsed) position. With particular reference 2Q to FIG. 1, there is shown a collapsible cleaning implement 1 (hereinafter mop) which comprises a substantially rectangular elongated plate-like carrier 2 for a mophead 6, a handle 4, and a means 3 for pivotably coupling one end portion of the handle 4 to the carrier 2. 25
In one embodiment, the mophead 6 is positively but separably connected only to the outer portions 5 of two plate-like sections or panels 9, 9a of the carrier 2 in such a way that the median portion of the mophead 6 hangs downwardly in the form of a loop, as seen in FIG. 6, when 30 the sections 9, 9a are permitted to move from a first position (in which their lower surfaces are disposed in or close to a common plane) to either a second position (in which their lower surfaces are adjacent and confront each other) or a third position (in which their lower surfaces are angularly 35 disposed a distance apart relative to each other). In another embodiment, the mophead 6 is retained to the carrier 2 by a pair of pockets 100, 100a on the mophead 6 as shown in FIG. 5.
More specifically, the carrier 2 comprises a central section 40 or support 7 which mounts the coupling mechanism 3 for the handle 4 to the carrier 2. Further, the support 7 carries two hinges including parallel pintles 8 serving to pivotably connect the sections 9, 9a to the support 7. The support overlies the adjacent portions of the upper surfaces of 45 sections 9, 9a when the mop 1 is ready for use. In the first position, the sections 9, 9a are substantially coplanar and the mophead 6 is stretched to overlie the lower surfaces of both sections 9, 9a. The axes of the two sets of pintles 8 are parallel to each other, and the distance between such axes 50 preferably exceeds the thickness of the section 9 or 9a. For example, the distance between the parallel axes of the two sets of pintles 8 can equal or approximate the combined thickness of the sections 9 and 9a, i.e., twice the thickness of the section 9 or 9a (it being assumed here that the sections 55 9 and 9a are substantially identical).
When the sections 9, 9a are caused or permitted to assume the second position, as shown in FIG. 6, the downwardly extending major portion of the mophead 6 (between the then neighboring outer portions 5 of the sections 9 and 9a) can be 60 readily introduced into a relatively small vessel 10 which is indicated in FIG. 6 by broken lines and contains a supply of clean water or another suitable cleaning liquid. When the sections 9, 9a are in the third position, the sections 9, 9a are angularly disposed a distance apart. In a preferred 65 embodiment, this is achieved by releasing only one of the sections, section 9a in FIG. 4, and retaining one of the
sections, section 9 in FIG. 4. In either the third position or in the second position, the sections 9, 9a are automatically retained in the first position once the sections 9, 9a are substantially coplanar.
A locking device 11 for the sections 9 and 9a of the carrier 2 is mounted at the upper side of a support 7 and remains operative to prevent pivoting of the sections 9, 9a about the axis of the respective sets of pintles 8 until and unless the operator decides to directly or indirectly operate an actuator
12 which is mounted at the upper surface of the section 9a and then permits the sections 9, 9a to leave the positions which are shown in FIGS. 1 and 5. More specifically, the locking device 11 includes an elongated locking bolt 14 which is reciprocable in a sleeve or trough-shaped guide 13 of the support 7 and extends transversely of the pivot axes of the sections 9 and 9a. The details of the locking bolt 14, guide 13 and actuator 12 are shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. In particular, FIG. 2 shows the locking bolt 14 in the first position in which the sections 9, 9a of the carrier 2 are engaged by both sections 9 and 9a; FIG. 3 shows the locking bolt 14 in a second position where the locking bolt 14 in a second position disengaged from both sections 9 and 9a; and FIG. 4 shows the locking bolt 14 in the third position where the locking bolt 14 is engaged with one section 9 and released from the other section 9a. The guide 13 performs an additional important function, namely to define a pivot axis for the handle 4. Such pivot axis is normal to the pivot axes for the sections 9 and 9a Thus, the central portion 15 of the guide 13 can be said to form part of the coupling means 3 for the handle 4.
The guide 13 extends between two raised bearing portions 16 which are integral with and disposed at the lateral edges of the support 7 (see particularly FIG. 1). The support 7 can be said to resemble a plate and has bearing members 17 for the guide 13. In the embodiment which is shown in FIG. 1, the bearing members 17 and the raised bearing portions 16 are integral parts of the support 7 and can be made of a suitable metallic or plastic material. The guide 13 is inserted into the bearing members 17 from below at the underside of the support 7 which is exposed (open) between the sections 9, 9a as well as between the inner portions of these sections 9, 9a (the inner portions are connected to the respective sets of pintles 8). Once the guide 13 is properly installed in the bearing members 17 of the support 7, it is held in such position by a retaining pin or post 18. In addition, the guide
13 is held in place by the inner portion of the sections 9 and 9a as soon as these sections are pivotably connected to the support by the pintles 8.
FIG. 2 shows the locking bolt 14 in the first position in which its end portions 19 and 19a respectively extend into hood-shaped sockets 20 and 20a. The socket 20 is provided at the upper surface of the section 9, and the socket 20a is located at the upper surface of the section 9a but is provided on the actuator 12. The sockets 20 and 20a are spaced apart from the respective pivot axes (i.e., from the respective sets of pintles 8) for the sections 9 and 9a. A coil spring 22 serves as a means for biasing the locking bolt 14 to the second or inoperative position of FIG. 3 (arrow Pfl in FIG. 2); this spring 22 reacts against a ring 23 in the guide 13 and bears against a collar 24 of the bolt 14 to urge the collar 24 against an internal shoulder 25 of the guide 13. The shoulder 25 cooperates with the collar 24 to constitute a means for blocking the movement of the locking bolt 14 beyond the inoperative position of FIG. 3 under the action of the spring 22.
The reference character 21 denotes a stop which is provided on the section 9a and serves to locate the locking bolt