Patent application title: SLIDER BRACKET FOR HOT TUB COVER
Richard Adamczyk (Batavia, NY, US)
IPC8 Class: AE04H400FI
Class name: Accessory covering including securing means
Publication date: 2010-07-08
Patent application number: 20100170033
An apparatus for removably securing a cover to a hot tub including a
slider bracket having a bracket body having two flanges, said flanges
arranged substantially parallel to each other, a slot arranged in each of
said flanges, and a rod engaged in both of said slots for enabling said
rod to slidingly traverse said slots, wherein said cover includes a
strap, and said strap is engaged with said rod of said slider bracket.
1. An apparatus for removably securing a cover to a hot tub comprising:a
slider bracket including:a bracket body having two flanges, said flanges
arranged substantially parallel to each other;a slot arranged in each of
said flanges; and,a rod engaged in both of said slots for enabling said
rod to slidingly traverse said slots; and,wherein said cover includes a
strap, and said strap is engaged with said rod of said slider bracket.
2. The apparatus recited in claim 1, further comprising at least one end cap detachably securable on at least one end of said rod for prohibiting movement of said rod out of said slots.
3. The apparatus recited in claim 2, wherein said at least one end cap comprises two end caps, wherein one of said two end caps is detachably secured to each end of said rod for selectively prohibiting disengagement of said rod with said slots.
4. The apparatus recited in claim 1, wherein each of said slots are defined between a first end and a second end, said slots being substantially identical, and said rod traversable along at least a portion of said slots.
5. The apparatus recited in claim 4, wherein said slider bracket is mounted to said hot tub such that said slots are arranged in a substantially vertical orientation.
6. The apparatus recited in claim 5, wherein said strap urges said rod against said first end or proximate to said first end when said cover is engaged in a closed position on said hot tub, and wherein said rod rests against said second end stop when said cover is removed from said hot tub.
7. The apparatus recited in claim 1, wherein said slider block is affixed to a first side of said hot tub, and wherein a releasable securing means is affixed to a second side of said hot tub, said second side opposite from said first side, for firmly securing said cover on said hot tub.
8. The apparatus recited in claim 1, wherein said slider block includes more than two flanges.
9. The apparatus recited in claim 1, wherein said strap forms a closed loop about said rod for engaging said strap with said rod.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This patent application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/204,459, filed Jan. 8, 2009, which application is incorporated herein by reference.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention broadly relates to hot tubs, more specifically to hot tubs with covers, and even more particularly to a slider bracket which secures a cover to a hot tub and which does not need to be disengaged to remove the cover from the hot tub.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Hot tubs or spas are well known in art including covers to protect the tub while the tub is not in use. The covers are usually divided into at least two sections, so that the cover can be folded, enabling easier removal from the tub. Many covers are held in place by releasable securing devices, such as snaps, clips, clasps, or buckles, with one device provided proximate each corner of the tub to secure the cover to the body of the tub. Typically, one securing device is included near each corner of the tub, with two devices located proximate two front corners along a front side of the tub, and two snaps located proximate the other two corners along a back side of the tub, opposite from the front, for a rectangular tub.
Before the cover is removed, a user is supposed to undo all four buckles so that the cover is free from the body and can be removed without damaging the securing devices, the tub, or the cover. However, due to the inconvenient positioning of the back two buckles on the opposite side of the tub, users often undo only the front two buckles, fold the first section of the cover over the second section, and slide the cover off the back of the tub. The back buckles absorb the brunt of the force caused by cover falling to the ground or into a rest position, damaging or breaking the buckles. Once the back buckles break, the cover can not be properly secured to the hot tub.
A plurality of devices are designed for assisting in the removal of covers from hot tubs, since the covers can be quite heavy and cumbersome. However, these devices are only arranged to help remove the cover, and none include means for securing the cover to the tub which also enables the cover to be removed from the tub without damaging the cover which do not have to be disengaged in order to open the tub by removing the cover.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention broadly comprises an apparatus for removably securing a cover to a hot tub including a slider bracket having a bracket body having two flanges, the flanges arranged substantially parallel to each other, a slot arranged in each of the flanges, and a rod engaged in both of the slots for enabling the rod to slidingly traverse the slots, and wherein the cover includes a strap, and the strap is engaged with the rod of the slider bracket. In one embodiment, the apparatus further comprises at least one end cap detachably securable on at least one end of the rod for prohibiting movement of the rod out of the slots. In one embodiment, the at least one end cap comprises two end caps, wherein one of the two end caps is detachably secured to each end of the rod for selectively prohibiting disengagement of the rod with the slots.
In one embodiment, each of the slots are defined between a first end and a second end, the slots being substantially identical, and the rod traversable along at least a portion of the slots. In one embodiment, the slider bracket is mounted to the hot tub such that the slots are arranged in a substantially vertical orientation. In one embodiment, the strap urges the rod against the first end or proximate to the first end when the cover is engaged in a closed position on the hot tub, and wherein the rod rests against the second end stop when the cover is removed from the hot tub. In one embodiment, the slider block is affixed to a first side of the hot tub, and wherein a releasable securing means is affixed to a second side of the hot tub, the second side opposite from the first side, for firmly securing the cover on the hot tub. In one embodiment, the slider block includes more than two flanges. In one embodiment, the strap forms a closed loop about the rod for engaging the strap with the rod.
It is a general object of the present invention to provide a means for securing a cover to a hot tub.
It is another general object of the present invention to provide a means for opening a hot tub without having to release all devices securing the cover to the hot tub.
These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciable from the following description of preferred embodiments of the invention and from the accompanying drawings and claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The nature and mode of operation of the present invention will now be more fully described in the following detailed description of the invention taken with the accompanying drawing figures, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a cover secured to a hot tub with a pair of current invention slider brackets;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of one of the slider brackets shown in
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the hot tub shown in FIG. 1 with the cover in an open position;
FIG. 3A is an enlarged perspective view of one of the slider brackets shown in
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a current invention slider bracket; and,
FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of the slider bracket of FIG. 4.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
At the outset, it should be appreciated that like drawing numbers on different drawing views identify identical, or functionally similar, structural elements of the invention. While the present invention is described with respect to what is presently considered to be the preferred aspects, it is to be understood that the invention as claimed is not limited to the disclosed aspects.
Furthermore, it is understood that this invention is not limited to the particular methodology, materials and modifications described and as such may, of course, vary. It is also understood that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular aspects only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention, which is limited only by the appended claims.
Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood to one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. It should be appreciated that the term "hot tub" is synonymous with terms such as "tub", "spa", "whirlpool bath", "whirlpool tub", and such terms may be used interchangeably as appearing in the specification and claims. Although any methods, devices or materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the invention, the preferred methods, devices, and materials are now described.
Referring now to FIG. 1, hot tub 10 is shown with cover 12 in a closed position. In the closed position, the cover is secured over the tub to protect the interior of the tub. Covers are typically made of an insulating material, such as high density foam, encased in a durable water proof fabric. The covers, particularly for square or rectangular tubs, are usually foldable about a crease or hinge at the midway point of the tub to facilitate removal of the cover from the tub. Referring also to FIG. 3, cover 12 is shown including flap 13, which hangs over the edge of the cover, to further protect the corners and outer edges of the tub. The insulating material defines body 14 of the cover, and the flap is excess material that hangs from the body of the cover. The cover is shown folded in half and in an open position in FIG. 3.
Tub 10 includes a pair of slider brackets 20 on one side of the tub to facilitate the transition of the cover from a closed position, such as in FIG. 1, to an open position, such as shown in FIG. 3. Straps 18 connect the cover to each slider bracket. The straps could be, for example, made from strips of a durable fabric material and stitched or sewn to flap 13 or body 14 of the cover, although other materials and methods of affixing straps to the cover would also suffice.
Slider bracket 20 includes flanges 22 along opposite sides of the bracket for providing a generally U shaped block with a channel between the flanges. Rod 24 is slidingly engaged across the channel in slots 26, with one slot 26 included in each flange 22. In the shown embodiment, slots 26 are bounded between ends 27A and 27B so that the movement of rod is defined or restricted to the length of the slots, between the two ends. Preferably, the length of each slot 26 is the same so that the range of movement of rod 24 is commonly defined by the slots. The slider brackets could be installed on existing tubs as an after marker accessory, or as an initial component of the tub. The slider brackets are installed by affixing the bracket along surface 30 to a side of a hot tub, preferably so that the slots are arranged in a vertical orientation, as shown. The cover engages with the bracket by strap 18 of cover 12 engaging about the rod between flanges 22. For example, as shown, the strap forms a closed loop about the rod, preventing the strap from exiting engagement with the slider bracket because the strap is generally locked between flanges 22 by the rod. It should be appreciated that the strap could be affixed to the rod by any other suitable means known in the art, such as rivets, screws, bolts, adhesives, and so on.
Rod 24 is also prevented from exiting engagement with the slider bracket by use of rubber washers 28, which are retained in grooves 29. Specifically, the washers are detachably retained in grooves 29 until sufficient force causes the washers to exit the grooves. By removing at least one washer, the rod can disengage from slots 26, enabling the cover to detach from the slider brackets, and therefore the hot tub. This would be necessary, for example, if the cover needed to be entirely replaced. During engagement of the cover with the slider bracket, the loop formed by strap 18 would be positioned between slots 26, the rod engaged through both slots and the loop of the strap, then the washers or other end caps secured on both ends. It should be appreciated that the rod does not have to be cylindrical in shape, so long as the rod can engage with and slide in the slots.
It should be appreciated that one or both of washers 28 could be replaced by caps which are permanently affixed to the rod for preventing the rod from disengaging from the slider bracket. For example, if the slider brackets are manufactured as an initial part of the hot tub, and not installed as an after market accessory, it may be advantageous to permanently secure the rod in the slots of the slider bracket, such as by deforming the ends of the rod or permanently affixing an end cap on the rod by welding or some other means. As further examples, end caps could be press fit onto the ends of the rod, or threadingly engaged with the ends of the rod, such as a bolt and nut configuration. In another embodiment, the end caps could be created by rigid rings which are crimped securely about the rod. These and other methods of detachably or permanently securing end caps on the rods would be readily appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art.
For the sake of discussion, the side of the tub which includes the slider brackets will be herein referred to as the back or rear side of the tub. The opposite side, hidden from view behind the tub, will be generally referred to as the front side of the tub. As discussed in the background section, above, users will commonly undo only the front securing means, since they are easily accessible on the front side of the tub, while the rear securing means are left engaged, since they are inconveniently located around the back of the tub. For example, releasable securing devices 16 are shown in FIG. 3 attached to the cover, but detached from complimentary devices on the front side of the tub for releasably securing the cover to the tub. Devices 16 could be buckles, snaps, clips, clasps, or the like. After the front securing device, such as devices 16, are disengaged, the front half of the cover can be folded back onto the rear half of the cover, and the cover lifted off the tub and put into a rest position proximate the back side of the tub, as shown in FIG. 3.
Support bar 15 may be included to assist in the opening of tub 10 by guiding the movement of the cover off of the top of the tub and into a rest position. The rotation of support bar 15 may enable the cover to rest on the ground behind the tub, or be limited, such as by a stopping mechanism or pin, so that the cover is held in a rest position. If support bar 15 is not included, the cover could simply rest on the ground behind the tub.
Unlike traditional securing means, slider brackets 20 secure the cover to the tub when the cover is in a closed position, but do not have to be disengaged to open the tub by removing the cover. Specifically, it can be seen that straps 18 are engaged with rod 24 of bracket 20, and that the rod is slidingly engaged in slots 26. When the cover is in the closed position, rod 24 is engaged against or proximate to first end 27A of slot 26. As shown in FIG. 2, strap 18 generally urges the rod upwards. When the tub is opened and the cover moved into its rest position, the rod is free to drop down to second end 27B due to gravity and/or the weight of the cover transferred to the rod by the strap. Advantageously, the transition of the rod from first end 27A to second end 27B corresponds to the change in position of the cover as the tub is opened. If a securing means or device were used that was fixed in place, as discussed in the background section above, then the weight of the cover would pull downwards on the securing device, potentially damaging or breaking the securing device. Thus, due to the sliding engagement of the cover with the slider bracket via rod 24 in slots 26, exceedingly high forces are not transferred to the slider bracket. In this way, a user only has to release the securing means on the front of the hot tub in order to open the tub without causing damage to the tub or the cover of the tub. However, the slider brackets also securely hold the cover to the tub when the tub is closed.
It may be advantageous to set the position of the slider bracket so that the straps slightly tension the rod against ends 27A when the cover is in the closed position. In this way, the cover would be firmly secured to the tub. As shown in FIG. 2, the slider bracket can also be arranged such that rod 24 is very close to first end 27A, but is not tensioned against the first end when the tub is closed. Such an arrangement may be advantageous because the strap is not held in constant tension and fatigue, but the rod will still engage against the end as soon as the cover begins to lift off of the tub, such as by a gust of wind, for maintaining the closed state of the tub.
Thus, it is seen that the objects of the present invention are efficiently obtained, although modifications and changes to the invention should be readily apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art, which modifications are intended to be within the spirit and scope of the invention as claimed. It also is understood that the foregoing description is illustrative of the present invention and should not be considered as limiting. Therefore, other embodiments of the present invention are possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.
Patent applications in class Including securing means
Patent applications in all subclasses Including securing means