Height adjustable lazy susan shelf

A height adjustment mechanism (170) is disclosed for use in a lazy susan-like device (100). The mechanism (170) includes an adjustment nut (172) coupled to a bearing pin (256) and a release pin assembly (215). Rotation of a shelf (136) causes the adjustment nut (172) to rotate and move linearly along a support pole (102) through threaded engagement with the bearing pin (256).

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

REFERENCE TO A MICROFISHE APPENDIX

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to rotatable or “lazy susan” devices and, more particularly, to rotatable devices having shelves or similar receptacles for holding various items, and to means for adjusting the height or position of shelves along supporting elements.

2. Background Art

Various types of storage devices having shelves or receptacles for holding various items are utilized in numerous environments, including commercial, industrial and residential spaces. One type of storage device which has been found to be of value is a device which includes means for rotation. Rotatable storage devices have the capability of varying the “presentation” location of hooks, shelves or other hanger and container-like utilitarian articles. These rotatable storage devices are known by a number of relatively common names, such as carrousels. In addition, many of these storage devices have come to be known as “lazy susans.” Although the dictionary definition of a lazy susan describes a large, revolving tray for food, placed at the center of a dining table, the term “lazy susan” has generically come to refer to a number of different types of rotatable storage devices. The term “lazy susan” will be used herein in its generic sense to refer to a rotatable storage device, and should not be construed to be limited to devices in accordance with its dictionary definition.

Lazy susan-type storage devices are used in various locations in the aforementioned commercial, industrial and residential environments. The devices may comprise one or more horizontally-disposed platforms or shelves, with the shelves being vertically spaced apart. The spaced apart shelves are rotatably coupled to a shaft which commonly extends along a vertical axis located at a center point of the horizontally disposed shelves.

One problem which exists with respect to use of these types of lazy susan devices relates to the relative vertical positioning of the shelves. For some devices, it would be preferable for the shelves to be positioned so that they can accommodate relatively tall items, such as wine bottles or the like. In other instances, it would be more efficient for the user to have shelves vertically spaced apart so as to accommodate only items of relatively smaller height, such as cans, trays or the like.

It is understood that it is known to provide mechanisms for adjusting the vertical position or height of a lazy susan shelf along a supporting element or post. However, when considering shelf height adjustment, other issues become relevant. For example, with known height adjustment mechanisms, it is substantially impractical, or even impossible, to adjust the height of the lazy susan shelves without removing items from the shelves. Still further, various arrangements for adjusting the height of lazy susan shelves may require special tools or the like for performance of such adjustment.

One type of shelf height adjustment mechanism is disclosed in Domenig, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,626,305 B2 issued Sep. 30, 2003. The Domenig, et al. patent discloses a rotary shelf assembly mechanism having shelves mounted on a vertical post arrangement formed by a first lower post and second upper post. Domenig, et al. further disclose shelves comprising one piece elements. A post-securing shelf section is formed as an integral part of each shelf. Each shelf is molded as a plastic or other suitable material, and provided with a series of strengthening ribs that extend radially of the circular configured shelf from the post-securing shelf section. Circular supporting ribs are also provided for additional strength.

The post-securing shelf section is comprised of a circular hub. The circular hub houses, within its formed interior, a series of radially extending ribs emanating from a post encircling sleeve. Two pin receiving indents cooperatively open into the sleeve, so that a pin inserted through the post will nest within the indents, and be within the interior hub and post. During assembly, the one piece shelf can be positioned over the post and sustained at a predetermined location by the insertion of a pin through an aperture in the post. Extending ends of the pin are cooperatively received by indents, so as to secure the shelf at a precise location on the post. With the foregoing, it is apparent that movement of the shelf along the post is limited in the number of positions available by the number of apertures in the support posts through which the supporting pin may be received. Further, with this type of arrangement, the vertical positions available for the shelf along the support post are not in the form of a “continuum,” but instead only discrete positions are available for vertical height adjustments. Still further, it is apparent that it would be substantially difficult to adjust the height of a shelf along the support post, while the shelf is supporting various items.

As earlier stated, various other types of lazy susan and similar devices are well known in the prior art. For example, Ballew, U.S. Pat. No. 5,813,736 issued Sep. 29, 1998 discloses the use of a carrousel device having slidable sections connected to vertical pegboard supports. More specifically, a rotatable base has a series of sliding bases placed upon the rotatable base. The bases are supported by drawer slides which provide support when the base is extended out from the cabinet area. More specifically, the carousel or cabinet storage device is mounted within a cabinet and includes vertical panels mounted upon a rotating platform. Each of the vertical panels may be rotated to the front of the cabinet for purposes of access. The vertical panels are connected to individual sliding bases. Mounted to the sliding bases are pairs of slide rails. The slide rails allow the sliding bases to slide horizontally outward away from the rotating platform. The slide rails are connected to the sliding base and to the rotating platform. In this manner, the vertical panels are extended horizontally away from the cabinet to provide easy access to items which may be hung from the panels.

Each slide includes a support member for purposes of providing additional support for the sliding base, when the base is extended outwardly from the platform. The support member includes a retractable arm having one end pivotably attached to the slide rail, with a wheel rotatably attached to the opposing or second end. The retractable arm is biased by a spring so as to cause it to extend downwardly to rest on the floor and thereby support the sliding base when it is in its extended position. When the sliding base is in a storage position, the arm pivots upwardly to a storage position. The wheel engages the floor and allows the sliding base to be moved inwardly or outwardly while supplying support for the sliding base. When the sliding platform is pushed back into a storage position, the arm engages a rotating platform, thereby causing the arm to retract.

Twellmann, U.S. Pat. No. 4,832,300 issued May 23, 1989 discloses a half-moon lazy susan type shelf. The shelf is mounted in part on the back side of a door in a cabinet, and in part on a rotating element and support system. When the door is open, the shelf is extendable by rotation so as to expose substantially all of its surface area. This is provided through the rotating portions of the support system and rails which operate in a fashion similar to a drawer slide.

Battles, U.S. Pat. No. 4,067,607 issued Jan. 10, 1978, discloses a combination stool and fishing tackle box. Battles discloses use of shelves which slide in and out of a circular container. Specifically, the Battles arrangement includes an upright cylindrical housing having closed ends. A wall is diametrically and longitudinally divided intermediate its ends so as to define a stationary wall portion and a movable wall portion. The movable wall portion forms a door slidably disposed in circular tracks formed by the respective ends of the housing, so as to cover and uncover an access opening formed by the divided wall. The housing is transversely divided by a plurality of partitions arranged in vertically spaced relation, so as to form a plurality of compartments. Each of the partitions rotatably supports a circular upwardly opening fishing tackle receiving tray. Each of the trays is movable outwardly through the access opening with respect to its support partition by a radial slot formed in the respective partition.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, a lazy susan-like apparatus is adapted for use in supporting items and facilitating access to the items by a user. The apparatus includes at least one shelf and support means for supporting the apparatus and the shelf. A height adjustment mechanism is provided, with the adjustment mechanism comprises mechanism securing means for coupling the support means to the height adjustment mechanism. Threaded means are threadably coupled to the mechanism securing means, so that rotational movement of the threaded means about the support means causes the threaded means to move linearly along the support means.

Still further, the height adjustment mechanism comprises shelf engagement means for engaging the shelf with the height adjustment mechanism. In this manner, rotational movement of the shelf causes the threaded means to move linearly along the support means.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the height adjustment mechanism also includes shelf support means for supporting the shelf on the height adjustment mechanism. Still further, the shelf engagement means provides for selective engagement by the user of the shelf with the height adjustment mechanism.

The threaded means includes a nut assembly to be fitted around the support means. The threaded means includes internal threads and the mechanism securing means is adapted to threadably engage the internal threads. The nut assembly is adapted to rotate about the support means, as the mechanism securing means is threadably engaged with the internal threads. During rotation of the nut assembly about the support means, and during threadable engagement of the mechanism securing means with the internal threads, the mechanism securing means remains substantially stationery relative to the support means.

The mechanism securing means includes a bearing pin adapted to be coupled to the support means. The support means includes a centralized support pole, and a bearing pin be received through apertures extending through the support pole. The apertures extending through the support pole can comprise pairs of opposing apertures located at a series of linear positions along the support pole. The bearing pin is adapted to be selectively received in any one of the pairs of apertures.

The height adjustment mechanism also includes a cap positioned at a top portion of the threaded means. The cap includes shelf support means for supporting the shelf on the height adjustment mechanism in a manner such that the shelf is capable of rotation relative to the threaded means. The threaded means can include an adjustment nut having a substantially cylindrical configuration, with an internal core received on the support means, and with internal threads forming an interior surface of the internal core.

The mechanism of securing means can include a bearing pin positioned on the support means at a predetermined longitudinal location along the support means. Rotation of the adjustment nut relative to the support means can cause engagement of the bearing pin with the internal threads, so that further rotation of the adjustment nut relative to the support means causes the adjustment nut to move longitudinally along the support means, as a result of relative interaction between the bearing pin and the threads. Still further, rotation of the adjustment nut relative to the support means in one direction will cause the adjustment nut to move upwardly relative to the support means. Correspondingly, rotation of the adjustment nut in an opposing direction will cause the adjustment nut to move downwardly relative to the support means.

In accordance with other aspects of the invention, the shelf engagement means is structurally positionable in a first engagement state, and alternatively structurally positionable in a second disengagement state. When the shelf engagement means is positioned in the first engagement state, external forces exerted on the shelf so as to rotate the shelf cause corresponding forces to be translated through the shelf engagement means, so as to correspondingly rotate the threaded means. When the shelf engagement means is in the second disengagement state, the shelf is substantially free to rotate independent of the threaded means. The threaded means can comprise an adjustment nut having internal threads, with the threads formed as two, non-intersecting helical paths.

The support means can comprise a centralized support pole, and the threaded means can comprise an adjustment nut sized and configured so as to securely fit around the centralized support pole. The adjustment nut can include a series of elongated and physically separable nut segments. The elongated nut segments can include a series of relatively small nut segments and relatively large nut segments. The large nut segments have a width greater than a width of each of the small nut segments. When positioned on the centralized support pole, each of the small nut segments is coupled to two of the large nut segments. Correspondingly, each of the large nut segments is coupled to two of the small nut segments. Still further, when the pair of small nut segments are coupled together with the large nut segments, the small nut segments diametrically oppose each other. Correspondingly, when the large nut segments are coupled together with the small nut segments, the large nut segments diametrically oppose each other.

Each of the large nut segments has a cross-sectional configuration in the form of a circular arc. Each segment includes at least one rib on an outer surface of the nut segment. A series of nut segment notches project inwardly from opposing edges of the nut segment, with the nut segment notches positioned in a longitudinally spaced apart relationship along edges of the large nut segment. Each large nut segment also includes sets of nut segment lugs, with each of the lugs projecting outwardly from an edge of the nut segment and longitudinally spaced apart along two opposing edges of the large nut segment. The nut segment lugs are also spaced intermediate the nut segment notches.

Still further, each of the small nut segments has a cross-sectional configuration in the form of a circular arc. Each small nut segment includes at least one rib on an outer surface of the small nut segment. A series of small nut segment notches project inwardly from opposing edges of the nut segment. The small nut segment notches are positioned in a longitudinally spaced apart relationship along edges of the small nut segment. The small nut segment lugs project outwardly from an edge of the small nut segment and are longitudinally spaced apart along two opposing edges of the small nut segment. The small nut segment lugs are further spaced intermediate the small nut segment notches.

Each of the small nut segments includes small nut segment recesses having an angled configuration. Each of the large nut segments comprises, on an inner surface, large nut segment recesses similar in size and configuration to the nut segment recesses of the small nut segments. Each of the large nut segment recesses includes a partial detent. For purposes of installation and assembly, individual ones of the nut segments are brought together so as to encircle the support pole. Each large nut segment is coupled to a pair of the small nut segments, and each of the small nut segments is coupled to a pair of the large nut segments. This coupling occurs by interconnecting insertion of the large nut segment lugs into the small nut segment notches and, correspondingly, interconnecting insertion of the small nut segment lugs into the large nut segment notches.

During assembly of the nut segments so as to form the adjustment nut, the small nut segment lugs associated with a lateral edge of one of the nut segments are inserted into and coupled with a large nut segment notch associated with a lateral edge of one of the large nut segments. Further, the large nut segment lugs on an edge of one of the large nut segments are inserted into and coupled with the small nut segment notches, associated with the lateral edge of the small nut segment. The large nut segment lugs on a lateral edge of any of the large nut segments are inserted into and coupled with the small nut segment notches associated with the lateral edge of one of the small nut segments. The small nut segment lugs associated with one of the lateral edges of the small nut segment are inserted into and coupled with the large nut segment notches on the first lateral edge of the large nut segment. In accordance with the invention, the nut segments comprise means for preventing a mis-orientation or otherwise incorrect assembly of individual ones of the nut segments on a support pole. Spacing of the nut segment notches and the nut segment lugs is configured so as to insure that any two of the large nut segments cannot be assembled together. At least one of the large nut segment lugs on a large nut segment is constructed so as to be larger than others of the large nut segment lugs. The larger nut segment lug is sized so that it fits only into a properly mating small nut segment notch on one of the small nut segments. The properly mating small nut segment notch on the small nut segment is sized so as to receive the relatively larger nut segment lug.

Still further, at least one of the small nut segment lugs associated with one of the small nut segments is constructed so as to be larger than others of the small nut segment lugs. Still further, the large nut segment notches on one of the large nut segments includes a notch that is appropriately sized so that it is the only notch sized and configured to receive the relatively larger small nut segment lug.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the internal threads are configured so as to provide dual leads. Still further, the internal threads can be formed and constructed with an irregular pitch. In accordance with other concepts, the internal threads can be formed with reverse lead sections, with the sections functioning as partial detents formed in the internal threads. This permits the shelf to be indexed at desired heights along the support means, and to also permit radial indexing of the adjustment nut relative to the support means. In accordance with these concepts, the apparatus includes means for indexing the shelf relative to the adjustment nut, and means for indexing the adjustment nut relative to the support means.

The shelf engagement means includes a release pin assembly for selectively engaging the shelf with the height adjustment mechanism. The release pin assembly includes a top cap positioned above the threaded means and secured thereto. A release pin housing is connected to the top cap, and a release pin mechanism is substantially received within the release pin housing. The release pin is manually operable by a user between first and second positions. When the release pin is in the first position, the threaded means is engaged with the shelf. When the release pin is in the second position, the threaded means is disengaged from the shelf.

The top cap can include at least one locking tab. The adjustment nut can include at least one nut slot at an upper portion thereof. The locking tab can be adapted to be received within the nut slot when the top cap is received on the upper portion of the adjustment nut. In this manner, an interlocking relationship exists between the locking tab and the nut slot. This prevents any relative rotational movement between the cap and the nut.

The top cap can include a hollow cylinder partially enclosed at a top portion thereof by an annulus. This forms an upper aperture, with the upper aperture being sized and configured so that the support means is receivable therethrough. The release pin housing can be positioned to one side of the hollow cylinder of the top cap. The housing can extend vertically upward and include a vertically disposed housing aperture having a slot formed therein. The slot extends from a bottom portion of the release pin housing upwardly to a portion slightly below a top of the release pin housing. The release pin housing can include means for supporting the release pin mechanism when the mechanism is in engaged and disengaged states.

Means can be connected to the release pin which are manually operable by a user so as to move the release pin between a first engaged state, wherein rotation of the shelf will correspondingly translate into linear movement of the threaded means along the support means, and a second disengaged state, wherein the shelf is rotatable independent of any rotation or linear movement of the threaded means along the support means.

The release pin mechanism can include a button actuator having a boot-shaped configuration. When the release pin mechanism is in an engaged state, an upper ledge of the button actuator is supported on upper bosses of the release pin housing. The release pin mechanism can be received within the release pin housing through a friction fit.

The apparatus further includes an inner tube or sleeve having a hollow cylindrical configuration. The sleeve is snugly received on the adjustment nut. The apparatus also includes an outer tube or sleeve. This outer tube or sleeve includes a longitudinal length which insures that the inner tube or sleeve is at least partially received within the outer tube or sleeve, and does not interfere with the adjustment nut at all practical adjustment heights for the shelf.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the shelf includes detents located at a lower portion thereof. The top cap includes studs located on an upper portion thereof, with the studs being configured so as to be at least partially receivable within the shelf detents. The studs are positionable within the partial detents of the shelf in either of two diametrically opposed angular positions. When the studs are positioned in a particular one of the positions, the release pin is directly below a hub notch in the shelf. When the release pin mechanism is in the disengaged state, the release pin is retracted into a release pin housing. The shelf is then free to rotate about the centralized support pole on the studs.

The height adjustment mechanism also includes means for biasing the adjustment nut to discreet and fixed height increments, relative to a positional location of the bearing pin along the centralized support pole. The biasing means includes a set of partial detents formed within nut segments of the adjustment nut. These bias the adjustment nut to the discreet and fixed height increments, relative to the bearing pin. Further, a partial detent between the shelf and the top cap is configured so that externally applied forces acquired to overcome the partial detent between the shelf and the top cap are less than externally applied forces necessary to overcome the partial detents between the adjustment nut and the centralized support pole. This insures that when the release pin mechanism is in the disengaged state and the shelf is rotated, the partial detent between the adjustment nut and the centralized support pole is maintained.

In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the adjustment nut is relatively small in diameter, relative to a diameter of the shelf. This relative sizing provides a user with a significant mechanical advantage when providing for height adjustment of the shelf. Still further, the internal threads of the adjustment nut can include a thread pitch of approximately 1.5 inches per revolution. Further, the internal threads can include an irregular pitch having certain sections of reverse lead, which add to partial detents. The internal threads can also be formed as dual leads, with the internal threads comprising a pair of non-intersecting helical paths.

The adjustment nut can include a single helix nut. The mechanism securing means can include a bearing pin protruding from only one side of the support means. The bearing pin can also comprise a stud welded to the support means. Still further, the shelf support means can include a single stud fitting into a single partial detent on a lower portion of the shelf. In accordance with another concept of the invention, the nut segments can be molded in a straight draw action.

In a still further aspect of the invention, the support means can include a centralized support pole. The threaded means can include an adjustment nut adapted to be received on a support pole. The apparatus can include a sleeve having a hollow and substantially cylindrical interior, sized and configured so as to snugly receive the adjustment nut through a central aperture of the sleeve. At least a subset of the nut segments includes means for providing a positive locking of the sleeve onto the nut segments. The means for positive locking can include fingers having a substantially elongated configuration extending outwardly from a lower portion of the subset of the nut segments. Each of the fingers can include an elongated configuration, with a finger notch at a terminal portion of the finger. The finger notches can be adapted to extend beyond a bottom portion of the sleeve, when the adjustment nut is assembled within the sleeve on the centralized support pole.

Each of the fingers can include a longitudinally extended groove, with each of the grooves extending from a bottom portion of a corresponding nut segment to a corresponding one of the finger notches at a terminal end of the groove. The mechanism securing means includes a bearing pin coupled to the centralized support pole. The grooves receive the bearing pin which rides within the nut segments.

When the nut segments are assembled together, the fingers can be sufficiently flexible and resilient so that they are deflected slightly inwardly as a sleeve is received over the nut segments and the fingers. The inward deflection continues until the finger notches extend beyond the bottom of the sleeve. The bearing pin is installed in apertures within the centralized support pole, below the adjustment nut. The adjustment nut is moved downwardly so that the bearing pin extends into the grooves of the fingers. The centralized support pole prevents the fingers from moving inwardly, thereby providing the positive locking.

In accordance with further aspects of the invention, the shelf engagement means can include a release pin assembly with a release pin. The release pin is manually movable by a user in a horizontal direction. In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the release pin assembly can be coupled to the threaded means and manually operable in a rotating or pivotable motion so as to be moved between engaged and disengaged states. In a still further aspect of the invention, the release pin assembly can be attached to a bottom portion of the shelf. The release pin can have a vertical motion move between engaged and disengaged states. Still further, the release pin assembly can be attached to the bottom portion of the shelf, and the release pin can be manually pivotable so as to moved between engaged and disengaged states. Still further, the release pin can be linked to a remote actuator manually operable by a user. The remote actuator is adapted to be moved so as to cause the release pin to move between engaged and disengaged states. The remote actuator is substantially apart from the release pin and the user can operate the actuator without having to manipulate any elements of the apparatus adjacent the support means.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

The invention will now be described with reference to the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a lazy susan device employing a height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a partially exploded view of the lazy susan device illustrated in FIG. 1, in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 3 is a further exploded view of the lazy susan device illustrated in FIG. 1, expressly illustrating the nut assembly and related components of the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 4 is a still further exploded view, specifically illustrating the adjustable nut assembly of the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention, shown in an assembled state;

FIG. 6 is a perspective illustration of the nut assembly, pin and pole components of a height adjustable lazy susan device in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 7 is a view of the components illustrated in FIG. 6, but shown in an assembled state;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a nut assembly mechanism in accordance with the invention, illustrated without the pole or related components;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the nut-hub interface for the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the nut assembly mechanism in accordance with the invention, with the adjustment pin in a disengaged state;

FIG. 11 is similar to FIG. 10, but illustrates the height adjustment pin in an engaged state;

FIG. 12 is a plan view of the cap and nut of the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention, illustrating the means for locking the cap to the nut;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view looking upward of the sleeve and the nut of the height adjustment mechanism, showing the relationship between the pole pin and the nut;

FIG. 14 is a partial plan view (looking downwardly at somewhat of an angle from vertical), illustrating detail of the nut detent;

FIG. 15 is a plan view showing the nut and an enclosing sleeve, and generally showing the nut segment detail;

FIG. 16 is a plan view of the nut of the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 17 is a downwardly angled perspective view, illustrating the detail of the threads of the nut of the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 18 is a view illustrating the nut and an enclosing sleeve of the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention, with the nut being illustrated with the cap in a removed state;

FIG. 19 is a substantially elevation view of the nut partially enclosed within a sleeve, and showing details of the nut lugs and ribs;

FIG. 20 is a substantially elevation view of the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention, coupled to a lazy susan device in a lowered state and showing an optional telescoping cover;

FIG. 21 is a view somewhat similar to FIG. 20, but with the lower shelf lifted to illustrate detail hidden below;

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of the lazy susan device employing a height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention, with the view being similar to that of FIG. 1, but with the height adjustable shelf being in a raised position relative to its position in FIG. 1;

FIG. 23 is similar to FIGS. 1 and 22, but shows the height adjustable shelf in a still further raised position relative to its position in FIG. 22;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view looking upwardly, and illustrates a prior art assembly for supporting a lazy susan shelf on a support pole, through the use of a support hub and hub pin;

FIG. 25 is an elevation view showing the inner surfaces of four elongated nut segments which comprise a nut in accordance with the invention, the elongated nut segments specifically comprising a pair of small nut segments and a pair of large nut segments, and with the nut segments aligned and spaced in a manner which corresponds to their positions when each of the nut segments is coupled to two of the other nut segments;

FIG. 26 is a plan view of each of the elongated nut segments illustrated in FIG. 25;

FIG. 27 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a release pin assembly which may be utilized in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 28 is a plan view of the release pin assembly illustrated in FIG. 27;

FIG. 29 is a front elevation view of the release pin assembly illustrated in FIG. 27;

FIG. 30 is a left-side elevation view of the release pin assembly illustrated in FIG. 27;

FIG. 31 is a right-side elevation view of the release pin assembly illustrated in FIG. 27;

FIG. 32 is an underside view of the release pin assembly illustrated in FIG. 27;

FIG. 33 is a sectional view of the release pin assembly illustrated in FIG. 27, showing the release pin mechanism in a disengaged state and taken along sections lines 33-33 of FIG. 28;

FIG. 34 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 33, but showing the release pin mechanism in an engaged state;

FIG. 35 is a plan view of the release pin assembly, substantially similar to the view of FIG. 28, but showing section lines 36-36;

FIG. 36 is a sectional view of the release pin assembly, taken along section lines 36-36 of FIG. 35;

FIG. 37 is a plan view of the release pin assembly shown in FIG. 35, but with the release pin mechanism in an engaged state;

FIG. 38 is a sectional view of the release pin mechanism, taken along section lines 38-38 of FIG. 37;

FIG. 39 is a perspective view of the top cap and release pin housing of the release pin assembly shown in FIG. 27, with the release pin mechanism removed;

FIG. 40 is an elevation view of the top cap and release pin housing shown in FIG. 39;

FIG. 41 is a plan view of the top cap and release pin housing shown in FIG. 39;

FIG. 42 is a right-side elevation view (relative to FIG. 40) of the top cap and release pin housing shown in FIG. 39;

FIG. 43 is a perspective and exploded view of the combination of the top cap, release pin housing and release pin mechanism;

FIG. 44 is an elevation view of the release pin mechanism shown in FIG. 43;

FIG. 45 is a right-side elevation view (relative to FIG. 44) of the release pin mechanism shown in FIG. 43;

FIG. 46 is a plan view of the release pin mechanism shown in FIG. 43;

FIG. 47 is an underside view of the release pin mechanism shown in FIG. 43;

FIG. 48 is an underside perspective view of the release pin mechanism shown in FIG. 43;

FIG. 49 is an elevation view showing the inner surfaces of four elongated nut segments which comprise a nut in accordance with a modified embodiment of the invention, and particularly showing the use of fingers with the large nut segments;

FIG. 50 is an enlarged elevation view of a part of one of the modified large nut segments illustrated in FIG. 49, and specifically illustrating one of the fingers;

FIG. 51 is an enlarged view of a nut assembly utilizing the modified nut segments illustrated in FIG. 49, and specifically showing the finger notches overhanging the bottom of an assembled tube;

FIG. 52 is an elevation view of the entirety of a tube, top cap and modified nut assembly, showing the overhanging of the finger notches at the bottom of the tube;

FIG. 53 is a view of the tube assembled onto a lower pole or post, and showing a bearing pin extending into grooves of the fingers of the modified nut assembly;

FIG. 54A is a perspective underside view of a part of a further embodiment of a lazy susan device in accordance with the invention, illustrating the user of a release pin attached to a top shelf and having the capability of horizontal motion, and with the release pin in a disengaged state;

FIG. 54B is similar to FIG. 54A, but shows the release pin in an engaged state;

FIG. 55A illustrates a still further embodiment of a lazy susan device in accordance with the invention, with a release pin attached to an adjustment nut assembly, moveable through rotating motion, and with the release pin in a disengaged state;

FIG. 55B is similar to FIG. 55A, but shows the release pin in an engaged state;

FIG. 55C is a partial view showing the engagement device of the lazy susan device illustrated in FIGS. 55A and 55B;

FIG. 56A is an elevation view of part of a still further embodiment of a lazy susan device in accordance with the invention, showing a release pin attached to the top shelf, and movable through vertical motion, and with the release pin in a disengaged state;

FIG. 56B is a view of the lazy susan device similar to FIG. 56A, but showing the release pin in an engaged state;

FIG. 56C is a partial underside view illustrating the relationship between an engagement device and the release pin assembly;

FIG. 57A is a partial elevation view of a further embodiment of a lazy susan device in accordance with the invention, illustrating a release pin attached to the top shelf, and movable through rotational motion, and with the release pin in a disengaged state;

FIG. 57B is similar to FIG. 57A, but shows the release pin in an engaged state;

FIG. 57C is similar to FIG. 56C, and shows a partial underside view illustrating the relationship between the engagement device and the release pin;

FIG. 58 is a perspective underside view of a further embodiment of a lazy susan device in accordance with the invention, showing a release pin assembly attached to the top shelf, and moveable between engaged and disengaged states through remote activation, with FIG. 58 expressly showing the release pin in a disengaged state;

FIG. 59 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 60 is a further perspective view of another embodiment in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 61 is a perspective view of an additional embodiment of a height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 62 is a perspective view illustrating a still further embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 63 is a perspective view illustrating yet another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 64 illustrates a still further embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 65 illustrates internal threads of an adjustment nut representing another embodiment in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 66 illustrates an embodiment of the invention with the pin out of the detent;

FIG. 67 is similar to FIG. 66, but illustrates the pin in the detent; and

FIG. 68 illustrates the use of a molded or drilled radial detent.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The principles of the invention are disclosed, by way of example, in a lazy susan device 100 as illustrated in FIGS. 1-23, and in FIGS. 25-48. FIG. 24 is an illustration of a prior art lazy susan device. In accordance with the invention, the lazy susan device 100 includes at least one shelf rotatably mounted on a centralized support pole. In accordance with a primary aspect of the invention, a height adjustment mechanism is provided which permits and facilitates adjustment of the position of the lazy susan shelf vertically along the centralized support pole.

Still further, the lazy susan device 100 in accordance with the invention provides for the height adjustment of the lazy susan shelf, even while the shelf is relatively fully loaded and supporting various items. In this regard, the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention provides for such adjustment while fully loaded, without any necessity of lifting or exerting forces on the lazy susan shelf itself. Instead, in accordance with the invention, the lazy susan shelf can be height adjusted, again while fully loaded, through exertion of relatively small rotational forces applied to the height adjustable shelf. In addition, and also in accordance with the invention, the height adjustment mechanism is moved into an engaged state when height adjustment is desired to be performed, and otherwise is maintained in a disengaged state. In accordance with the invention, a user can engage and disengage the height adjustment mechanism without the need of any special or conventional tools.

In accordance with other aspects of the invention, the height adjustment mechanism provides for rotational indexing of the lazy susan shelf, relative to the support pole. As will be explained in detail in subsequent paragraphs herein, in certain applications such as kidney-shaped shelves, it may be desirable to provide a partial detent to index a shelf not only relative to the pole, but ultimately to the cabinet or surface to which the shelf is mounted. With respect to the exertion of rotational forces, it is believed that the height adjustable lazy susan shelf may be adjusted utilizing the height adjustment mechanism, through the user exerting a force of less than 20% of the weighted load on the shelf. In accordance with further aspects of the invention, the height adjustment mechanism includes a release pin for purposes of engagement and disengagement, with the release pin being conveniently actuated near the hub of the lazy susan shelf.

Still further aspects of the invention also exist. For example, a primary aspect of the invention is its capability of being “retrofitted” into conventional lazy susan devices, without the need of modification or replacement of the support pole, the lazy susan shelf itself, or the shelf support hub. Still further, another aspect of the invention includes the use of a telescoping shroud, for purposes of concealing a portion of the shelf pole between two shelves.

Turning specifically to the drawings, the lazy susan device 100 is illustrated in FIG. 1. The device 100 is also illustrated in exploded view in FIG. 2. Referring to these drawings, the lazy susan device 100 includes a centralized support pole 102. The centralized pole 102 may be constructed of an upper post 104 and a lower post 106. In accordance with known lazy susan devices, the upper post 104 is adapted to be telescopically received, at least in part, within the lower post 106. The centralized support pole 102 extends vertically upward. The lower post 106 is adapted to be connected at its lower end to a lower connecting mount 108. The connecting mount 108, not shown in FIG. 1, is illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 21. The connecting mount is conventional and relatively well known in the art. Specifically, the connecting mount 108 is adapted to be fixedly connected through screws 110 (FIG. 21) or the like to a bottom surface 112 (FIG. 21) of a cabinet or other area in which the lazy susan device 100 is to be installed.

In this particular embodiment of a lazy susan device 100 in accordance with the invention, the lower connecting mount 108 includes an upper collar 114, which surrounds a recess 116. The recess 116 is adapted to receive the lower end of the lower post 106. Within the recess 116 and the upper collar 114, a lug 118 (illustrated in FIG. 2 and partially illustrated in FIG. 21) extends upwardly, and is sized so as to fit within the lower post 106, when the lower post is positioned within the recess 116. The lug 118 has an aperture 120 extending therethrough. Correspondingly, the lower post 106 has, at its lower end, an aperture 121 and a diametrically opposing notch 122 (FIG. 5, with only the notch 122 shown in FIGS. 2, 3 and 21).

The connecting mount 108 also includes a ledge 124 (FIGS. 2 and 21) which is sized and positioned so that it is received within the notch 122 and assists in securing the lower post 106 to the connecting mount 108. Still further, and as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 21, the lazy susan device 100 includes a hub pin 126. The hub pin 126 is appropriately sized and adapted to fit within the notch 122, and received within the apertures 120 and 121. The hub pin 126, aperture 121, notch 122 and ledge 124 act so as to secure the lower post 106 to prevent rotational and translational movement relative to the connecting mount 108.

The lazy susan device 100 is illustrated as including a lower kidney-shaped shelf 128. As described herein, the lower kidney-shaped shelf 128, in this particular embodiment, is adapted to remain at a fixed height along the centralized support pole 102. However, the lower shelf 128 is also rotatably coupled to the support pole 102 in a manner which is relatively well known in the art. More specifically, along with the lower kidney-shaped shelf 128, the lazy susan device 100 also includes a kidney bearing hub 130. The kidney bearing hub 130 is adapted to be received within a central aperture 132 of the lower kidney-shaped shelf 128, with the shelf 128 essentially being supported on the hub 130. More specifically, the kidney bearing hub 130 includes a cylindrical sleeve 134 which is sized so as to appropriately fit around the periphery of the lower post 106 of the centralized support pole 102. The kidney bearing hub 130 may be secured in any appropriate means to the lower shelf 128 or, alternatively, can be “fitted” within the central aperture 132 of the shelf 128, without any specific connecting means.

As earlier stated, the kidney bearing hub 130 and its supporting relationship to the lower kidney-shaped shelf 128 is conventional and known in the prior art. For this reason, reference is made to FIG. 24 which does not specifically illustrate the shelf 128 and 130, but illustrates a hub and shelf configuration substantially corresponding thereto. With reference to FIG. 24, the drawing illustrates a prior art interconnection between a lazy susan shelf 136, hub 138, hub pin 140 and a centralized support post 142. The shelf 136 and the hub 138 are sized and configured so that the shelf 136 rests on the hub 138, with the shelf 136 and hub 138 rotatable in unison about the centralized support post 142. The hub pin 140 is inserted through a pair of diametrically opposed apertures 144, and positioned below the hub 138. It is also understood that in a variation of the embodiment described herein, the hub 138 may be integrally formed with the shelf 136. When rotational forces are exerted on the shelf 136, the shelf 136 will rotate in unison with the hub 138, and with the hub pin 140 and the centralized support post 142 remaining stationary. Further, partial detents 146 can be provided in the hub 138 as illustrated in FIG. 24. The detents are provided so that the hub 138 and shelf 136 can be somewhat “biased” toward a particular angular position, with the pin 140 being adapted to be received within the partial detents 146. That is, the detents 146 are sized such that once the shelf 136 and hub 138 are positioned so that the hub pin 140 is within the detents 146, forces are necessary to be exerted on the shelf 136 to move the hub 138 in a manner such that the hub pin 140 moves out of the partial detents 146.

As earlier stated, this is a relatively well known configuration for rotatably coupling a lazy susan shelf to a centralized support post through a separate hub and hub pin. Also, and more important with respect to aspects of the invention, reference is again made to FIG. 24 with respect to the illustration of height adjustment of the shelf 136 vertically along the centralized support post 142. As earlier stated, the hub pin 140 is received within the apertures 144 as shown in FIG. 24. However, FIG. 24 also further shows a pair of diametrically opposed apertures 148 (only one of which is illustrated in FIG. 24) located a distance below the apertures 144 along the centralized support post 142. For purposes of adjusting the height or vertical position of the shelf 136 and hub 138 along the centralized support post 142, the shelf 136 and hub 138 would be “lifted” a relatively small distance, and then a user would be required to remove the hub pin 140 from the apertures 144, and insert the hub pin 140 into the apertures 148. The shelf 136 and hub 138 could then be lowered so that the hub 138 rests upon the hub pin 140 as received within the apertures 148. This is a known method of height adjustment of lazy susan shelves along a centralized support post. As apparent from the foregoing description, such height adjustment for lazy susan shelves is relatively difficult, in that a user must maneuver himself or herself under the shelf for purposes of removing the support pin, and then readjust the pin, shelf and hub in a manner which can only be characterized as relatively “awkward.” Still further, given that the user must support the entire weight of the shelf 136 during removal and reinsertion of the hub pin 140, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to adjust the height of the shelf 136 when it is carrying items of any substantial weight.

Returning to the lazy susan device 100 and the positioning of the lower shelf 128 along the lower post 106, reference is again made to the shelf 128, hub 130 and hub pin 126. In positioning and supporting the lower shelf 128 on the lower post 106, the hub pin 126 will have the same features and function as the hub pin 140 previously described with respect to FIG. 24. Further, the kidney bearing hub 130 can correspond to the hub 138, also described with respect to FIG. 24. That is, the underside of the kidney bearing hub 130 can substantially correspond to the underside of the hub 138, and include partial detents (not shown) to bias the shelf 128 and hub 130 to a particular aligned position relative to the hub pin 126. In this manner, the lower shelf and hub 130 are separate items which are coupled so as to rotate about the lower post 106, while the lower post 106 remains stationary. In the particular embodiment shown as lazy susan device 100, the lower shelf 128 would not typically be moved along the lower post 106. That is, the lower shelf 128 would typically not be height adjusted.

In addition to the lower shelf 128, the lazy susan device 100 also includes an upper shelf 150 as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. The upper shelf 150 can have a size and configuration substantially corresponding to the size and configuration of the lower shelf 128. However, as described in subsequent paragraphs herein, and in accordance with the invention, the upper shelf 150 is capable of height adjustment along the centralized support pole 102, in a manner which facilitates adjustment by a user without having to undertake awkward maneuvers or remove items from the shelf 150. Associated with the upper shelf 150 is another kidney bearing hub 130, corresponding to the hub 130 which is associated with the lower kidney-shaped shelf 128. With reference primarily to FIGS. 1 and 2, the upper shelf 150 includes a central aperture 152. The hub 130 includes a cylindrical sleeve 134 which is adapted to be received within the central aperture 152. Extending upwardly from the central aperture 152 is a collar ring 154. A similar collar ring 154 can also be incorporated within the lower shelf 128. For purposes of aesthetics, a decorative cover 156 (illustrated in FIG. 2) can be coupled by any suitable means to the collar ring 154.

In a prior art situation, the hub 130 would be received within the central aperture 152 of the upper shelf 150 and the assembly would then be received on the centralized support pole 102. For purposes of mounting the upper shelf 150 to the centralized support pole 102 (again, in a prior art situation), a pin substantially corresponding to the previously described hub pin 126 would be inserted through one of the apertures illustrated in FIG. 2 as apertures 158. Apertures 158 correspond to the apertures 144 and 148 previously illustrated with respect to the prior art drawing of FIG. 24. In fact, in prior art situations, the coupling of the shelf 150 and corresponding hub 130 to the centralized support pole 102 would correspond to that illustrated in FIG. 24 with respect to the shelf 136, hub 138, hub pin 140 and centralized support post 142. Further, height adjustment of the upper shelf 150 would occur, in prior art situations, by moving a hub pin (not shown, but corresponding to the hub pin 140 illustrated in FIG. 24) among the apertures 158 on the lower post 106. As previously described, such height adjustment is relatively awkward with respect to a user's maneuvers, and would typically require removal of items stored on the upper shelf 150.

Before describing the height adjustment mechanism of the lazy susan device 100 in accordance with the invention, further components of the lazy susan device 100 will be described, with respect to adjustment of the length of the centralized support pole 102 and upper interconnection of the centralized support pole 102 to a cabinet or the like. With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, and as previously described herein, the centralized support pole 102 includes an upper post 104 and lower post 106, with the upper post 104 being sized and configured so as to be telescopically received within the lower post 106. The use of a centralized support pole 102 comprising the telescoping upper post 104 and lower post 106 permits adjustment of the length of the centralized support pole 102, so as to adjust for various cabinet heights and the like. Relatively well known means exist for providing such adjustment. For example, it is known to provide the upper post 104 with an elongated recess (not shown) extending longitudinally along the upper post axis. An aperture (not shown) can extend through both of the posts 104, 106, and receive a mating screw (shown as screw 160 in FIG. 2) extending through a wall of the lower post 106. Still further, the mating screw 160 can be inserted within a threaded aperture of a casting (not shown). The casting can be positioned between the inner wall of the lower post 106 and the recess of the upper post 104. The mating screw 160 is then moved radially toward the longitudinal axis of the upper post 106, where it eventually engages a lower curved portion of the recess in the upper post 104. This engagement tightens the upper post 104 to the lower post 106. To modify the relative lengths of the interconnected upper and lower posts 104, 106, the casting and mating screw 160 can be moved along the recess of the upper post 104. Again, this particular means for adjusting the length of the centralized support pole 102 is conventional in nature, and various other types of length adjustment configurations may be utilized. The length adjustment mechanisms do not form any of the basic novel concepts of the invention. In fact, the height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention can be used with a centralized support pole 102 which does not allow for any type of adjustment in length.

With respect to further interconnection of the lazy susan device 100 to a cabinet or the like, the device 100 can include an upper connecting mount 162, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. The upper connecting mount 162 can be secured, by screws or any other appropriate means, to an upper surface 164 (FIG. 1) of a storage cabinet or the like. The upper connecting mount 162 can have a configuration at least somewhat corresponding to that of the lower connecting mount 108. That is, the upper connecting mount 162 can include a collar 166 (FIG. 1) which extends downwardly so as to receive the upper end of the upper post 104. If desired, various means can be utilized to couple or otherwise interconnect the upper connecting mount 162 to the upper post 104, so that the upper post 104 would be fixedly secured to the upper connecting mount 162, and rotational movement of the upper post 104 prohibited. However, as previously described herein, the lower post 106 is prevented from rotational or translational movement relative to the connecting mount 108 through the hub pin 126, aperture 121, notch 122 and ledge 124. Also as previously described herein, the upper post 104 is coupled to the lower post 106 in a manner so as to prevent rotational movement of the upper post 104 relative to the lower post 106. Accordingly, through the interconnection of the upper post 104 to the lower post 106 and the interconnection of the lower post 106 to the connecting mount 108, the upper post 104 is prevented from any rotational or translational movement. In view of the foregoing, it is not necessary to include a restrictive connection between the upper connecting mount 162 and the upper post 104 at their interface, which would necessarily prevent rotation of the upper post 104 relative to the upper connecting mount 162.

A height adjustment mechanism 170 incorporated as part of the lazy susan device 100, and in accordance with the invention, will now be described. The principle components of the height adjustment mechanism 170 are illustrated in exploded view format in FIGS. 3, 4, 25-48 and an assembled view of the height adjustment mechanism 170 with the lazy susan device 100 as illustrated in FIG. 5. Other drawings herein illustrate various views of the components (both assembled and unassembled) of the height adjustment mechanism 170. Turning primarily to FIGS. 3, 4, 25 and 26, the principal component of the height adjustment mechanism 170 is a nut or adjustment nut 172. The nut 172 is adapted to be fitted around the lower post 106 of the centralized support pole 102. The nut 172 can be constructed of various materials. For example, construction may occur as a molded plastic component. The nut 172 is primarily shown in FIGS. 3, 4, 14-19, 25 and 26. With reference first to FIGS. 3 and 4, the nut 172 can be constructed so as to be sized and configured to securely fit around the lower post 106. As shown in FIGS. 4, 25 and 26, the nut 172 comprises four substantially elongated nut segments 174. The nut segments 174 further comprise a pair of small nut segments 176 and large nut segments 178. When positioned on the lower post 106, the nut segments 174 are coupled together so that each of the small nut segments 176 is coupled to both of the large nut segments 178. Accordingly, the two small nut segments 176 will, when coupled together with the large nut segments 178, diametrically oppose each other, as will the large nut segments 178 when coupled to the small nut segments 176. As shown primarily in FIGS. 4, 19, 25 and 26, and with reference specifically to one of the large nut segments 178, the nut segment 178 is elongated and has a cross sectional configuration in the form of a circular arc. Each of the large nut segments 178 includes a set of ribs 180 on the outer surface of the segment 178. In addition to the ribs 180, the large nut segments 178 also include a series of nut segment notches 182 which project inwardly from opposing edges of the nut segments 178. The nut segment notches 182 are positioned in a longitudinally spaced apart relationship along the nut segment edges.

Each of the large nut segments 178 also includes sets of nut segment lugs 184. Each of the nut segment lugs 184 projects outwardly from an edge of the corresponding nut segment 178. As illustrated primarily in FIG. 4, the nut segment lugs 184, like the large nut segment notches 182, are longitudinally spaced apart along the two opposing edges of the nut segments 178. These large nut segment lugs 184 are further spaced intermediate the large nut segment notches 182, also as illustrated in FIG. 4.

The small nut segments 176 are constructed substantially similar to the large nut segments 178. That is, each of the two small nut segments 176 has a cross sectional configuration substantially in the form of a circular arc. Ribs 180 project outwardly from the outer surface of each of the small nut segments 176. In addition, each of the small nut segments 176 includes sets of small nut segment notches 186. The small nut segment notches 186 are spaced apart longitudinally along the opposing two edges of the small nut segments 176. Correspondingly, and as with the large nut segments 178, the small nut segments 176 also include small nut segment lugs 188. The small nut segment lugs 188, as with the notches 186, are longitudinally spaced apart along opposing edges of each of the small nut segments 176. Moreover, the small nut segment lugs 188 are spaced intermediate the small nut segment notches 186.

Viewing each of the small nut segments 176 from its inner surface, the small nut segments 176 include formed small nut segment recesses 190 which are angled as illustrated in part in FIG. 4. Correspondingly, each of the large nut segments 178 include spaced apart large nut segment recesses 192, also as illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 25. The large nut segment recesses 192 are similar in size and configuration to the small nut segment recesses 190, but each includes a partial detent 194. The purpose for the partial detents 194 will be explained in subsequent paragraphs herein.

The foregoing describes the pair of small nut segments 176 and pair of large nut segments 178. For installation and assembly, the individual nut segments 174 are brought together so as to encircle the lower post 106. In assembling the nut segments 174 so as to form the entirety of the nut 172, each large nut segment 178 is coupled to the pair of small nut segments 176. Correspondingly, each of the small nut segments 176 is coupled to the pair of large nut segments 178. Coupling occurs by interconnecting insertion of the large nut segment lugs 184 into the small nut segment notches 186 and, correspondingly, interconnecting insertion of the small nut segment lugs 188 into the large nut segment notches 182. More specifically, reference is made to FIGS. 4, 25 and 26 where one of the small nut segments 176 is identified as having a lateral edge 196, and an opposing lateral edge 198. The opposing small nut segment 176 is identified in FIGS. 4, 25 and 26 as having a lateral edge 200 and an opposing lateral edge 202. Correspondingly, FIGS. 4, 25 and 26 identify one of the large nut segments 178 as having a lateral edge 204 and an opposing lateral edge 206. Still further, the other and opposing large nut segment 178 is identified in FIGS. 4, 25 and 26 as having a lateral edge 208 and opposing lateral edge 210.

To more specifically describe the assembly of the nut segments 174 so as to form the nut 172, the small nut segment lugs 188 which are associated with the lateral edge 196 of one of the small nut segments 176 are inserted into and coupled with the large nut segment notches 182 associated with the lateral edge 206 of one of the large nut segments 178. Correspondingly, large nut segment lugs 184 on the lateral edge 206 of one of the large nut segments 178 are inserted into and coupled with the small nut segment notches 186 associated with lateral edge 196. Still further, the large nut segment lugs 184 on the lateral edge 204 of one of the large nut segments 178 are inserted into and coupled with the small nut segment notches 186 associated with the lateral edge 200 of one of the small nut segments 176. Correspondingly, the small nut segment lugs 188 associated with the lateral edge 200 of the same small nut segment 176 are inserted into and coupled with the large nut segment notches 182 on the lateral edge 204 of one of the large nut segments 178.

A third coupling is made by having the small nut segment lugs 188 of the lateral edge 202 of one of the small nut segments 176 inserted into and coupled with the large nut segment notches 182 on the lateral edge 208 of one of the large nut segments 178. Correspondingly, the large nut segment lugs 184 also on the lateral edge 208 of the same large nut segment 178 are inserted into and coupled with the small nut segment notches 186 on the lateral edge 202 of one of the small nut segments 176. The large nut segment lugs 184 on the lateral surface 210 of one of the large nut segments 178 are inserted into and coupled with the small nut segment notches 186 on the lateral edge 198 of one of the small nut segments 176. Correspondingly, the small nut segment lugs 188 on the lateral edge 198 of the same small nut segment 176 are inserted into and coupled with the large nut segment notches 182 on the lateral edge 210 of one of the large nut segments 178. With this interconnecting coupling, the nut 172 is formed over the lower post 106 as substantially shown in FIG. 3.

The configuration of the nut 172 as constructed of the individual nut segments 174 presents one aspect of the invention. Specifically, with the nut segment notches 182, 186 and the nut segment lugs 184, 188, the configuration essentially prevents a mis-oriented or otherwise incorrect assembly of the individual nut segments 174. For example, in one embodiment of the nut 172 in accordance with the invention, the spacing of the nut segment notches 182, 186 and the nut segment lugs 184, 188 may be adjusted so as to insure that two of the large nut segments 178 cannot be assembled together. More specifically, to achieve this configuration, the spacing between the large nut segment notches 182 would be constructed so that they do not match the spacing between the large nut segment lugs 184. Correspondingly, the spacing between the small nut segment notches 186 would be designed so as to not match the spacing between the small nut segment lugs 188. Still further, if any of the nut segments 174 would be attempted to be assembled together in an “upside down” configuration, substantial misalignment would occur at the ends of the nut segments 174. That is, in a proper configuration, an end of any one of the nut segments 174 should be flush with the ends of the other three nut segments 174.

In a still further embodiment of the nut segments 174, both the size and the spacing of the nut segment lugs 184, 188 and the nut segment notches 182, 186 may be adjusted, such that incorrect assembly of the nut segments 174 is prevented. For example, in addition to the spacing considerations previously described herein, one of the large nut segment lugs 184 could be constructed so as to be larger than the other lugs 184 on the large nut segment 178. With this configuration, the larger nut segment lug 184 could be sized so that it would fit only into a properly mating small nut segment notch 186 on one of the small nut segments 176. This proper mating notch 186 would be the only notch 186 on the small nut segment 176 which would be appropriately sized so as to receive the relatively larger nut segment lug 184. As an alternative to the foregoing, one of the small nut segment lugs 188 associated with one of the small nut segments 176 may be constructed so as to be larger than the others of the small nut segment lugs 188 on the particular small nut segment 176. Correspondingly, an appropriately sized large nut segment notch 182 could be provided on the large nut segment 178, in a manner so that it would be the only notch sized and configured so as to receive the relatively larger small nut segment lug 188. The foregoing describes various embodiments of the nut 172 comprising the nut segments 174 with nut segment notches 182, 186 and nut segment lugs 184, 188 which would provide for prevention of misoriented or other incorrect assembly of the nut segments 174.

With the assembly of the nut segments 174 as described in the foregoing, the nut 172 is provided with the small nut segment recesses 190 and large nut segment recesses 192 forming internal threads 212. The internal threads 212 are configured so as to provide what may be characterized as “dual leads.” That is, the internal threads 212 are constructed so as to form a pair of helical paths which do not intersect each other. The internal threads 212 are formed and constructed with an irregular pitch. Further, the threads 212 are formed with sections of what may be characterized as “reverse lead.” These sections act as the partial detents 194. As explained in subsequent paragraphs herein, the partial detents 194 formed in the internal threads 212 permit the shelf 150 to be indexed at desired heights along the support pole 102, and permit radial indexing of the nut 172 relative to the support pole 102. In this manner, the shelf 150 may be indexed relative to the nut 172, the nut 172 indexed relative to the pole 102, and the pole 102 indexed relative to a cabinet or other architecture having mounting surfaces.

In addition to the nut 172, the height adjustment mechanism 170 further includes a release pin assembly 215. Various versions of the release pin assembly are illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3, 4, 8-12, 18 and 27-58. As will be described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the release pin assembly 215, which includes a top cap 214, release pin housing 230 and release pin mechanism 234, may be designed and constructed in various embodiments, all of the embodiments being in accordance with the basic concepts of the invention. For this reason, various modified versions of the release pin assembly 215 are shown in the aforementioned drawings. However, for purposes of clarity in description and understanding, one particular embodiment of the release pin assembly 215 is primarily illustrated in FIGS. 27-48. This embodiment of the release pin assembly 215 shown in FIGS. 27-48 is specifically described in the following paragraphs. Further, however, where various elements are described in the following paragraphs, and identified by numerical references in FIGS. 27-48, the same numerical references will be used for elements of the release pin assemblies illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3, 4, 8-12 and 18, to the extent these elements are substantially identical and perform the same function.

With reference specifically to FIGS. 27-48, the release pin assembly 215 includes the top cap 214. The top cap 214 includes a hollow cylinder 216, partially enclosed at the top portion thereof by an annulus 218. The annulus 218 is connected to or integrally formed with the hollow cylinder 216, and further forms an upper aperture 220. The upper aperture 220 is sized and configured so that the lower support post 106 (not shown in any of FIGS. 27-48, but shown in other drawings, such as FIG. 9) can be received therethrough. Positioned on the upper surface of the annulus 218 is a pair of studs 222. The studs 222 may have a solid interior and are positioned in an opposing relationship to each other on the annulus 218. The studs 222 have an arcuate cross-sectional configuration, as primarily shown in the FIGS. 27, 30, 31 and 39-42. For reasons described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the studs 222 are sized and configured in a manner so as to replace, at least in part, the function of the hub pin 140 when supporting a rotatable shelf on the support pole 102. In addition to being shown in FIGS. 27, 30, 31 and 39-42, embodiments of the studs 222 are also shown in FIGS. 4, 8 and 17. In the manufacture of the studs 222, and as shown by cross-sectional markings in FIGS. 33 and 34, the studs 222 may be formed integrally with the cylinder 216.

The hollow cylinder 216 of the top cap 214 forms an opening 224, as primarily shown in FIGS. 32, 33 and 34. The opening 224 is also illustrated in FIG. 12. Within the opening 224 and integral with or otherwise attached to the lower surface of the annulus 218, is a pair of locking tabs 226. The locking tabs 226 are primarily illustrated in FIGS. 12, 32-34, 36 and 38. The locking tabs 226 have an elongated configuration with a substantially rectangular cross section. The tabs 226 may be diametrically opposed to each other as illustrated in FIGS. 12 and 32. With further reference to FIG. 12, the locking tabs 226 are adapted to be received within a corresponding pair of nut slots 228, when the top cap 214 is received on the top of the nut 172. When the top cap 214 is received on the top of the nut 172, the interlocking relationship between the locking tabs 226 and the nut slots 228 prevent any substantial relative rotational movement. In addition, the top cap 214 also serves to assist in securing together the nut segments 174 of the nut 172. The nut slots 228 are formed in the outer surfaces of the nut segments 174, and may be formed specifically in a diametrically opposing relationship, with one of each slot 228 formed in a corresponding one of the large nut segments 178.

As shown in a number of the drawings, including FIGS. 27-42, the top cap 214 also includes a release pin housing 230 positioned to the side of the hollow cylinder 216 of the top cap 214. The release pin housing 230 extends vertically upward and may be attached to or otherwise integral with the hollow cylinder 216. The release pin housing 230 includes vertically disposed lateral surfaces 233 forming an arcuate shape as primarily shown in FIGS. 39 and 41. Flanges 232 are formed at the upper portion of the housing 230 on opposing sides thereof, and are attached to or otherwise integral with both the housing 230 and the hollow cylinder 216. The flanges 232 serve to provide rigidity and strengthen the integral or other connection between the housing 230 and the hollow cylinder 216.

With reference primarily to FIGS. 39-42, the release pin housing 230 includes a housing aperture 225 which is vertically disposed and formed between the flanges 232. As shown primarily in FIGS. 39 and 42, a housing slot 227 is formed in the lateral surfaces 233 and is also vertically disposed. The slot 227 extends from the bottom of the lateral surfaces 233 upwardly, to a position slightly below the top of the lateral surfaces 233. The housing slot 227 extends through the surfaces 233 into the housing aperture 225. With respect to all of FIGS. 39-42, the release pin housing 230 also includes an upper boss 229 which is positioned slightly above the top of the housing slot 227. The boss 229 is positioned in alignment with the slot 227. Further, the release pin housing 230 also includes a pair of lower ledges 231. In the particular embodiment shown in FIGS. 39-42, the lower ledges 231 extend outwardly from the lateral surfaces 233 on opposing sides of the housing slot 227. The ledges 231 are positioned at the bottom of the surfaces 233 and slot 227. As described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the upper bosses 229 and lower ledges 231 provide means for supporting the release pin mechanism 234 when the mechanism 234 is in engaged and disengaged states, respectively.

As earlier mentioned, associated with the release pin assembly 215 is a release pin mechanism 234. The release pin mechanism 234 is shown in several of the drawings, and, in particular, is shown in a “stand alone” configuration in FIGS. 44-48. With reference primarily thereto, the release pin mechanism 234 includes a release pin cylinder 236. Mounted at the top of the release pin cylinder 236 is a release pin 238. The release pin 238 may be connected to or otherwise integral with the release pin cylinder 236. Extending outwardly from an exterior surface of the release pin cylinder 236 is a vertically disposed shelf 235. Again, the shelf 235 is primarily shown in FIGS. 44-48. The vertically disposed shelf 235 is relatively narrow and extends from the bottom of the release pin cylinder 236 to a position below the top of the cylinder 236. As described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the vertically disposed shelf 235 is sized and adapted so as to fit within the housing slot 227 when the release pin mechanism 234 is assembled with the release pin housing 230. Connected to or otherwise integral with the vertically disposed shelf 235 is a button actuator 240. The button actuator 240 is positioned at the top portion of the vertically disposed shelf 235, as particularly shown in FIGS. 44, 45 and 48.

As shown in several of the drawings, including FIGS. 44 and 45, the button actuator 240 has somewhat of a “shoe” or “boot-shaped” configuration, with an arcuately-shaped surface 246. With reference primarily to FIGS. 36 and 38, the button actuator 240 has an upper button ledge 248. The upper button ledge 248 is positioned somewhat below the top of the button actuator 240, and on a side of the actuator 240 opposing the arcuately-shaped surface 246. Correspondingly, at the bottom of the button actuator 240 is a lower button ledge 249, again primarily shown in FIGS. 36 and 38. As with the upper button ledge 248, the lower button ledge 249 is positioned on a side of the button actuator 240 opposing the arcuately-shaped surface 246. As described in subsequent paragraphs herein, when the release pin mechanism 234 is in an engaged state, the upper button ledge 248 will be supported on the upper bosses 229 of the release pin housing 230. Correspondingly, when the release pin mechanism 234 is in a disengaged state, the lower button ledges 249 will be supported on the lower ledges 231 of the release pin housing 230.

In accordance with the foregoing, the release pin mechanism 234 comprises the release pin cylinder 236, release pin 238 and button actuator 240. With reference primarily to FIGS. 35-38 and FIG. 43, the release pin mechanism 234 can be received within the release pin housing 230, by inserting the release pin cylinder 236 and release pin 238 upwardly from the bottom of the housing aperture 225. In this configuration, the vertically disposed shelf 235 of the release pin mechanism 234 will ride upwardly within the housing slot 227 extending through the housing 230 into the aperture 225. The release pin cylinder 236, release pin 238 and button actuator 240 are appropriately sized and configured so that the release pin mechanism 234 can be moved upwardly within the housing aperture 225 into a position which is characterized as an “engaged” state, as illustrated in FIGS. 37 and 38. With this configuration, the upper button ledge 248 is above and supported on the upper bosses 229 of the release pin housing 230. It should be noted that the button actuator 240, as coupled to other elements of the release pin mechanism 234, will be somewhat “resilient,” and also somewhat “biased” so as to move the upper button ledge 248 around and above the upper bosses 229. When a user wishes to move from an engaged to a “disengaged” state, the user can exert forces on the button actuator 240 so as to cause the upper button ledge 248 to move outwardly and down from the upper bosses 229. In this configuration, the release pin mechanism 234 will move downwardly until the lower button ledge 249 of the button actuator 240 abuts the lower ledges 231 of the release pin housing 230. If necessary, further forces can be exerted on the release pin mechanism 234, if the release pin mechanism 234 is desired to be completely removed from the release pin housing 230. The position of the release pin mechanism 234 relative to the release pin housing 230 in disengaged and engaged states is also shown in FIGS. 33 and 34, respectively.

The foregoing has described one type of configuration for providing “detents” so as to maintain the release pin mechanism 234 in an engaged state, when desired. However, various other methods may also be utilized to provide detents for an engaged state of the release pin mechanism 234.

For example, a friction fit may be provided between a release pin mechanism 234 and the housing 230. Magnets and elements with magnetic properties may also be utilized to maintain the release pin mechanism 234 in an engaged state. Still further, a combination of notches and detents may be employed. In addition, other components may also be utilized, including (but not limited to) compressible pads, springs, latches and the like. All of these various configurations for maintaining an “engaged” state may be utilized, without departing from the basic concepts of the invention.

As described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the release pin mechanism 234 will operate somewhat as a “clutch” with respect to the entirety of the height adjustment mechanism 170. That is, when the release pin 238 is manually manipulated into an engaged state with the shelf 150, rotation of the shelf 150 will, correspondingly, cause a rotation of the height adjustment mechanism about a bearing pin and the centralized support pole 102, thereby adjusting the relative height of the shelf 150. Correspondingly, disengagement of the release pin 238 from the shelf 150 will permit the shelf 150 to be rotated independently of the height adjustment mechanism 170.

Turning to other elements of the lazy susan device 100, the device includes an inner tube or sleeve 250. The tube or sleeve 250 is shown in several of the drawings, including FIGS. 3, 4, 6 and 18. The inner tube or sleeve 250 is a hollow cylindrical sleeve sized and configured so as to snuggly receive the nut 172 through the central aperture of the sleeve 250. The sleeve 250 and the top cap 214 are relatively sized and configured so that the hollow cylinder 216 of the top cap 214 snuggly receives the nut 172, and abuts against the upper end of the sleeve 250.

With reference to FIG. 3, the lazy susan device 100 also includes a bushing 252 and an outer tube or sleeve 254. The bushing 252 is adapted to be received within the upper portion of the outer tube or sleeve 254. The outer tube or sleeve 254 and bushing 252 are sized and configured so that the inner tube or sleeve 250 can be received within and through the apertures of the bushing 252 and tube or sleeve 254. The bushing 252 and outer tube or sleeve 254 primarily provide for aesthetics of the lazy susan device 100. The outer tube or sleeve 254 can also be sized and configured so as to fit around the collar ring 154 of the lower shelf 136. The tube or sleeve 254 should preferably have a longitudinal length which will substantially insure that the inner tube or sleeve 250 will be at least partially received within the outer tube or sleeve 254, and not interfere with the adjustment nut 172 at all practical adjustment heights for the height adjustable shelf 150.

The lazy susan device 100 also includes a bearing pin 256. The bearing pin 256 is adapted to be received through any one of a number of apertures 258 within the lower post 106. It should be noted that the bearing pin 256 and the apertures 258 associated with the lower post 106 may exist in prior art configurations of lazy susan devices. That is, the apertures 258 and the bearing pin 256 can correspond to the apertures 148 and the hub pin 140 previously described with respect to the prior art device illustrated in FIG. 24.

The assembly and operation of the height adjustment mechanism 170 of the lazy susan device 100 will now be described. For assembly, the nut 172 can be received on the outer post 106 of the centralized support pole 102. The outer post 106, bearing pin 256, nut 172, top cap 214 and sleeve 250 are illustrated in FIG. 6, in a partially disassembled state. FIG. 7 illustrates an assembled state of the same components. Specifically, the sleeve 250 can be received over the nut 172, and the top cap 214 can then be coupled to nut 172 and abut the sleeve 250. The top cap 214 is also received on the nut 172 so that the locking tabs 226 (FIGS. 12, 37, 38) of the top cap 214 are aligned and inserted within the nut slots 228 at the top of the nut 172 (also shown in FIG. 12). The bearing pin 256 can then be inserted into one of the apertures 258 of the lower post 106 as illustrated in FIG. 7. The nut 172 can then be moved downwardly on the outer post 106 until the bearing pin 256 is received within the bottom of each of the two internal threads 212. This configuration of the bearing pin 256 in the internal threads 212 is illustrated in FIG. 13. With the bearing pin 256 within the internal threads 212, it can be seen that rotation of the nut 172 relative to the outer post 106 (including bearing pin 256) will cause the nut 172 to move longitudinally along the outer post 106, as a result of the relative interaction between the bearing pin 256 and the internal threads 212 within which the bearing pin 256 now resides. From this relative interaction between the bearing pin 256 and internal threads 212, rotation in one direction will cause the nut 172 to move upwardly relative to the outer post 106, while rotation in an opposing direction will cause the nut 172 to move downwardly relative to the outer post 106. It is this feature of the interaction between the bearing pin 256 and the internal threads 212 which causes the capability of the positional adjustment of the nut 172 on the outer post 106.

The rotating shelf 150 can then be received on the outer post 106, above the height adjustment mechanism 170. The bottom of the rotating shelf 150 can have a configuration corresponding to the bottom of the prior art shelf 136 illustrated in FIG. 24. That is, the rotating shelf 150 can include detents 146. In the prior art configuration, the bearing pin or hub pin 140 is received on the detents 146. However, in the height adjustment mechanism 170 in accordance with the invention, the support of the rotating shelf 150 is not directly provided by a hub or bearing pin, but instead is provided by the studs 222 located on the annulus 218 of the top cap 214. The studs 222 are illustrated in several drawings, including FIG. 14. The studs 222 are sized and configured so that they are partially receivable within the detents 146 on the lower portion of the rotating shelf 150. Again, these studs 222 essentially take the place of the hub or bearing pin 140 of the prior art configuration in FIG. 24. The hub or bearing pin 140 illustrated in FIG. 24, instead of directly supporting the hub 150, now acts as bearing pin 256 and is received within the internal threads 212 of the nut 172.

As earlier described, the release pin mechanism 234 includes a release pin 238. Referring to FIG. 9, it is apparent that the studs 222 may be positioned within the partial detents 146 of the shelf 150 in either of two diametrically opposed angular positions. When the studs 222 are positioned in a particular one of the two available positions within the partial detents 146, the position of the release pin mechanism 234 is such that the release pin 238 is directly below a hub notch 260. This particular configuration and the hub notch 260 are illustrated in FIG. 9. When the release pin mechanism 234 is in a disengaged state, the release pin 238 is retracted into the release pin housing 230. This configuration is illustrated in FIG. 10. In this disengaged configuration, the rotatable shelf 150 is free to rotate about the outer post 106 on the studs 222. That is, the shelf 150 rotates independently of the height adjustment mechanism 170.

However, if the user wishes to adjust the vertical height of the shelf 150, the user can manually exert upwardly directed forces on either the bottom surface of the button actuator 240, or on the lower surface of the release pin cylinder 216 of the release pin mechanism 234. In this manner, the release pin 238 will be moved upwardly, thereby engaging the opposing hub notch 260. This configuration is illustrated in FIG. 11. With the release pin 238 in an engaged state in the hub notch 260, the rotating shelf 150 is prevented from any rotation independent of the nut adjustment mechanism 170.

With this engaged state, the user can then exert rotational forces on the outer periphery of the rotating shelf 150. These manually exerted rotational forces on the shelf 150 will cause corresponding rotation of the top cap 214 and nut 172, through the engagement of the release pin 238 with the hub notch 260. Rotation of the top cap 214 and nut 172 will cause the nut 172 to move upwardly or downwardly along the outer post 106, through the threaded engagement of the bearing pin 256 with the internal threads 212 of the nut 172. In accordance with the foregoing, the user may conveniently adjust the vertical height of the rotating shelf 150 along the centralized support pole 102.

Another feature of the height adjustment mechanism 170 in accordance with the invention should be mentioned. Specifically, as shown in the drawings, the internal threads 212 are formed within the nut segments 174 so as to provide for partial detents 194. These partial detents 194 will essentially “bias” the nut to discrete and fixed height increments, relative to the bearing pin 256. That is, the bearing pin 256 is essentially “biased” to certain positions in the internal threads 212 through the partial detents 194. In this manner, especially for shelves such as kidney shaped shelves which preferably include fixed rotational positions, the nut 172 is preferably indexed relative to the outer support post 106. With respect to the foregoing, the partial detent 194 between the shelf 150 and the top cap 214 must be designed such that the force to overcome this detent is less than the force necessary to overcome the detent between the adjustment nut 172 and the outer post 106. This is necessary so that when the release pin 238 is disengaged and the shelf 150 is rotated, the partial detent between the adjustment nut 172 and the outer post 106 will be maintained.

Several other features should again be mentioned. The height adjustment mechanism 170 is designed such that the same can be incorporated or “retrofitted” into known lazy susan devices. That is, no changes to the centralized support pole or shelf assembly of known devices are required. In this manner, a non-adjustable shelving unit for a lazy susan device or similar devices can be retrofitted or upgraded so as to include the height adjustment mechanism 170, by adding only the height adjustment mechanism 170, and not requiring any modification or replacement of other components. In this regard, however, it is apparent that the hub of an existing lazy susan device would be required to have structure corresponding, for example, to the hub notch 260 illustrated and described herein. Otherwise, it may be necessary to provide a hub structure modified from an existing structure. Also, it should be understood that a single height adjustment mechanism in accordance with he invention may not necessarily universally fit all existing shelf designs. It is anticipated that specific design changes may be required so as to adapt height adjustment mechanisms in accordance with the invention to existing or new lazy susan devices.

Still further, the nut 172 is relatively small in diameter, with reasonable thread pitch, while the rotatable shelf 150 has a relatively large diameter. This permits the user to have a relatively significant mechanical advantage in providing for height adjustment of the shelf 150. That is, the mechanical advantage of the large diameter of the shelf 150, relative to the nut 172, facilitates adjustment of the shelf 150 by exerting manual and rotational forces on the outer periphery of the shelf 150. Also, as described in the foregoing, a shelf may be fully loaded with various items, and can still be adjusted in height without requiring that the items be unloaded. In one particular experimental embodiment, a thread pitch of approximately 1.5 inches per revolution was utilized for the nut 172.

The configuration of the nut 172 also has significant advantages. In accordance with the foregoing, the nut 172 is provided with internal threads 212 with an irregular pitch. The internal threads 212 of the nut 172 have certain sections of reverse lead, which act as the partial detents 194. The internal threads 212 are formed as dual leads, in that the threads represent two helical paths which are nonintersecting. Although the thread and nonintersecting helical path design described herein in accordance with the invention provides certain advantages, other types of nut and thread designs could be utilized, without departing from the basic concepts of the invention. For example, it would be possible to employ a “single helix” nut with a pin which would protrude from only one side of a post or support pole. Such a pin could be in the form of a welded stud. Still further, other types of structure may be utilized with respect to the top cap 214. As an example, and as described herein, the top cap 214 includes a pair of studs 222. However, it would be possible to utilize only one stud on the top cap 214, with the single stud fitting into a single partial detent on a corresponding hub, rather than two studs fitting within a pair of partial detents.

The assembly of the nut 172 also presents significant advantages. As described herein, the nut 172 can be formed from a plurality of nut segments 174. In this particular assembly, the two small nut segments 176 are identical to each other, as are the two large nut segments 178. Still further, if the nut 172 is formed as a molded lead-screw nut, the nut segments 174 can be molded in a “straight draw” action.

As further described in the foregoing paragraphs, the nut segments 174 interlock so as to register the segments relative to each other. The interlocking as described herein prevents assembly of incorrect or mis-oriented segments. Still further, the foregoing arrangement provides for a top cap 214 and a sleeve 250 which assist in holding together the nut segments 174. In addition, and also as earlier explained, the top cap 214 includes studs 222 which assist in indexing of the rotational position of the rotating shelf 150, and positional registration can be provided relative to the internal threads 212. Also, a user can engage and disengage the height adjustment mechanism 170, without the need of any special or conventional tools.

Other concepts associated with physical realizations of height adjustment mechanisms may also be described in accordance with the invention. For example, it has been discovered, through experimental testing, that the tube or sleeve 250 encasing the previously described nut segments 174 forming the nut 172 may have a tendency to “slide” down the lower post 106 due to gravity. To reduce this tendency, the nut segments 174 may be sized and configured so that it is feasible to retain the tube or sleeve 250 to the nut segments 174 merely through friction forces. However, the resultant forces which would then be required to assemble the nut segments 174 within the sleeve 250 so as to form the nut 172 would be relatively high.

To overcome this potential problem, and in accordance with another aspect of the invention, a modification can be made to the configuration of the nut 172. Specifically, a modification to the nut 172 is illustrated in FIGS. 49-53. With reference first to FIG. 49, a modified nut 270 is illustrated. The nut 270 substantially corresponds to the nut 172. For example, the nut 270 includes a pair of small nut segments 274, substantially corresponding to the small nut segments 176 previously described and illustrated herein. Further, the nut 270 includes a pair of large nut segments 276, substantially corresponding in form and configuration to the previously described large nut segments 178. The small nut segments 274 and large nut segments 276 form a set of four nut segments 272. The nut 270 operates substantially the same as the previously described nut 172.

However, unlike the previously described large nuts segments 178, the large nut segments 276 illustrated in FIG. 49 each include a finger 278 having a substantially elongated configuration and extending outwardly from the bottom of each of the large nut segments 276. The configuration of each of the fingers 278 is primarily shown in FIGS. 49, 50 and 53. Each finger 278 has an elongated configuration with a finger notch 280 at its corresponding terminal, bottom portion. As subsequently described herein, the finger notches 280 are adapted to extend beyond the bottom of the tube or sleeve 250, when the nut 270 is assembled within the nut 250 on the outer post 106. In addition to the finger notches 280, each of the fingers 278 includes a longitudinally extending groove 282. The groove 282 on each of the fingers 278 extends from the bottom of the corresponding large nut segment 276 to the corresponding finger notch 280 at the terminal end of the groove 282. As described herein, the purpose of the grooves 282 is to receive the bearing pin 256 which rides within the nut segments 272, in a manner corresponding to the bearing pin 256 riding within the nut segments 174.

For purposes of assembly, the four nut segments 272 are oriented and assembled into the top cap 214, in a manner substantially corresponding to the assembly of the nut segments 174 into the cap 214 as previously described herein. The grooves 282 are advantageous in part in that they facilitate alignment of the bearing pin 256 into the nut segments 272, when the user is installing the nut 270 to the outer post 106.

After the nut segments 272 are assembled into the top cap 214, the pair of fingers 278 are sufficiently flexible and resilient so that the fingers 278 are deflected slightly inwardly as the tube or sleeve 250 is received over the nut segments 272 and fingers 278. This inward deflection continues until the finger notches 280 extend beyond the bottom of the tube or sleeve 250. At that point, with the finger notches 280 extending beyond the bottom of the tube 250, the notches 280 will essentially “snap back” so as to overhang the bottom of the tube 250. This configuration is shown in FIGS. 51, 52 and 53. The bearing pin 256 can then be installed in appropriate apertures 258 of the outer post 106, below the nut 270. The nut 270 can then be moved downwardly so that the bearing pin 256 extends into the grooves 282 of the fingers 278. This configuration is illustrated in FIG. 53. As the nut 270 is moved further downwardly on the outer post 106, the bearing pin will move inwardly into the internal threads of the nut 270, corresponding to the internal threads 212 of the previously described nut 172. Although the fingers 278 support the tube or sleeve 250 without deflection, the outer post 106 prevents the fingers 278 from moving inwardly. Accordingly, there is a “positive” locking of the tube or sleeve 250 onto the nut segments 272.

In addition to the foregoing aspects, it should be noted that the particular embodiment comprising the lazy susan device 100 in accordance with the invention was described utilizing a release pin 238 and a particular arrangement for engagement of the pin 238 with the shelf 150. It should be emphasized that various other arrangements for assembly and interaction of the pin 238 with the shelf 150 are feasible, without departing from the novel concepts of the invention. For example, other configurations of height adjustment mechanisms in accordance with the invention utilizing modifications for release pin assemblies, relative to the adjustment mechanism previously described herein are illustrated in FIGS. 54A-58.

A first alternative embodiment for the height adjustment mechanism and release pin engagement is illustrated in FIGS. 54A and 54B. It should be noted at this time that the various modifications illustrated in FIGS. 54A-58 are not meant to supplant the cooperative relationship between the bearing pin 256 and a nut corresponding to the nut 172 previously described herein. That is, in the previous embodiment described herein, the top cap 214 included a release pin housing 230 and release pin mechanism 234. With reference to FIGS. 44-48, the release pin mechanism 234 included a release pin cylinder 236. Mounted at the top of the release pin cylinder 236 was a release pin 238. The release pin 238 could be connected to or otherwise integral with the release pin cylinder 236. The release pin mechanism 234 could move between disengaged and engaged states, as primarily shown in FIGS. 33 and 34, respectively. In the engaged state, the release pin mechanism 234 would be moved upwardly within the housing aperture 225, as illustrated in FIGS. 37 and 38. When the release pin 238 is moved into an engaged state with the shelf 150, rotation of the shelf 150 causes the rotation of the height adjustment mechanism 170 about the bearing pin 256 and the centralized support pole 102, thereby adjusting the relative height of the shelf 150. Correspondingly, disengagement of the release pin 238 from the shelf 150 permits the shelf 150 to be rotated independently of the height adjustment mechanism 170. With this background, it should be emphasized that the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 54A-58 are not alternatives to the bearing pin 256, but instead are alternatives to the general configurations associated with the release pin mechanism 234 and the top cap 214.

With the foregoing in mind, reference is made specifically to the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 54A and 54B, comprising a lazy susan device 290. The lazy susan device 290 is shown only in part, for purposes of showing alternatives to the previously described release pin mechanism 234. With the lazy susan device 290, a height adjustment mechanism continues to incorporate a tube or sleeve 250 with a nut assembly (not shown) positioned between the interior of the sleeve 250 and the cylindrical surface of the lower post 106. At the top of the sleeve 250, a top cap 292 is provided. The top cap 292 can be somewhat similar to the previously described top cap 214, particularly with respect to engagement with the sleeve 250 and the corresponding nut assembly (not shown).

Although the height adjustment mechanism of the lazy susan device 290 includes similarities to the previously described height adjustment mechanism 170, the mechanism shown in FIGS. 54A and 54B includes one primary difference. In the height adjustment mechanism 170, the release pin mechanism 234 comprises an arrangement whereby the release pin mechanism 170 was attached to the adjustment nut assembly and moved into and out of engagement with the rotatable upper shelf. In contrast, the lazy susan device 290 as described in subsequent paragraphs herein comprises an arrangement whereby the release pin assembly is attached to the rotatable shelf, and moves into and out of engagement with the adjustment nut assembly.

More specifically, an with reference to FIGS. 54A and 54B, the top cap 292 includes a vertically disposed and elongated top cap slot 294 provided on the cylindrical outer surface of the top cap 292. In addition to the top cap slot 294, a pin assembly 296 is also provided. The pin assembly 296 is essentially an alternative embodiment to the release pin mechanism 234 previously described herein. As illustrated in FIGS. 54A and 54B, the pin assembly 296 includes a base plate 299 which is attached to an undersurface of the top shelf 150. Attachment can be by any appropriate means, including means such as the connecting screws 298 illustrated in FIGS. 54A and 54B. Suitably secured to the base plate 299 by any appropriate means is a bushing sleeve 300. The bushing sleeve 300 is positioned so as to be horizontally disposed, and includes a through hole (not shown) vertically aligned with the top cap slot 294. The through hole in the bushing sleeve 300 is appropriately sized and configured so as to receive a horizontally disposed release pin 302.

In the previous embodiment described herein, for purposes of “engaging” the height adjustment mechanism with the shelf, the release pin 238 was manually manipulated into an engaged state with the shelf 150. In the embodiment of the lazy susan device 290, the release pin 302 can be moved into an “engaged” state, whereby the pin 302 slides into an engagement with the top cap slot 294. If desired, various appropriate and well known means may be utilized to essentially “lock” the pin 302 into engagement with top cap slot 294. With this engagement, manual rotation of the top shelf 150 will correspondingly cause manual rotation of the top cap 292 and the corresponding adjustment nut assembly comprising the adjustment nut (not shown) and the tube or sleeve 250. The top cap 292 can be engaged with the adjustment nut (not shown) and the tube or sleeve 250 in the same manner as the previously described top cap 214. This engagement state of the release pin 302 with the top cap slot 294 is illustrated in FIG. 54B. When the release pin 302 is removed from engagement with the top cap slot 294, rotational forces manually exerted on the top shelf 150 will cause the top shelf 150 to rotate independently of the top cap 292 and the associated height adjustment nut assembly (not shown). This “disengaged” configuration is illustrated in FIG. 54A. In summary, in the previous embodiment described herein, the release pin 238 was vertically disposed and moved between engaged and disengaged states with the top shelf 150. In contrast, in the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 54A and 54B, the release pin 302 is horizontally disposed, attached to the top shelf 150 and is moved between engaged and disengaged states with the top cap 292.

A further embodiment of a modified release pin mechanism in accordance with the invention is illustrated in FIGS. 55A, 55B and 55C. This embodiment is illustrated in part and identified as lazy susan device 310. As with the other embodiments, this embodiment includes a lazy susan device with a top shelf 150, tube or sleeve 250 and lower pole or post 106. Although not shown, the lazy susan device 310 may incorporate an adjustment nut corresponding to that of the first embodiment described herein.

The lazy susan device 310 also includes a top cap 312, substantially corresponding to the top cap 214 previously described herein. However, unlike the prior embodiment, the top cap 312 has a pin assembly 314 associated therewith. The pin assembly 314 is integral with or otherwise coupled to (by any appropriate means) the top cap 312. The pin assembly 314 includes a vertically disposed pin housing 316. The pin housing 316 houses a release pin 320, as illustrated in FIGS. 55A and 55B. Although not specifically shown in the drawings, the release pin 320 may be received within a slot (not shown) within the pin housing 316. The slot is elongated in length. The release pin 320 is rotatably coupled to the pin housing 316 through a pivot 318 located at the lower end of the pin housing 316. With this configuration, the pin assembly 314 somewhat resembles a “pocket knife,” where the pin housing 316 will correspond to the main body of the pocket knife and the release pin 320 corresponds to a particular knife of the pocket knife. Preferably, the pivot 318 is constructed and coupled to the release pin 320 in a manner so that there is somewhat of a “friction fit” between the pivot 318 and the release pin 320. This friction fit should be such that the release pin 320 can be readily moved to various pivoted positions through the exertion of relatively small manual forces. At the same time, however, the friction fit should be sufficient between the release pin 320 and the pivot 318 so that when external forces are removed from the release pin 320, the pin 320 maintains its then current rotational position.

As further shown in FIGS. 55A, 55B and 55C, the pin assembly 314 also includes an engagement device 322. The engagement device 322 is mounted to the lower surface of the top shelf 150 by any suitable means, such as screws or the like. As shown in FIG. 55C, the engagement device 322 includes a pair of device walls 324 extending in a vertically disposed position, downwardly from the top shelf 150. At the lower end of each of the device walls 324, a device slot 326 is formed. The engagement device 322 is mounted to the top shelf 150 so that the device slot 326 is in horizontal alignment with the elongation of the release pin 320. That is, when the top cap 312 and the pin assembly 314 are in an appropriate rotational alignment, rotational movement of the release pin 320 will cause the pin 320 to move inwardly into the device slot 326. It should also be emphasized that although the release pin 320 is shown with one particular configuration in FIGS. 55A and 55B, the release pin 320 can take the form of any of various configurations, such as a cylindrical shape, knife-shape or the like, without departing from the novel concepts of the invention.

FIG. 55A illustrates the release pin 320 in a “disengaged” state. With the release pin 320 essentially positioned within the pin housing 316, and completely disengaged from the engagement device 322, the top shelf 150 is free to rotate independent of the adjustment nut assembly, top cap 312 and pin 320. To adjust the height of the top shelf 150, the release pin 320 can be rotated about its pivot 318 and aligned with the engagement device 322 so that the release pin 320 engages the device slot 326. This “engaged” state is illustrated in FIG. 55B. With the release pin 320 in this engaged state, rotational forces manually exerted on the top shelf 150 will cause not only the top shelf 150 to rotate, but will also cause rotation of the top cap 312 and the tube or sleeve 250, with the adjustment nut assembly. This rotation will occur through the coupling of the top shelf 150 with the top cap 312 through the engagement of the release pin 320 within the engagement device 322. In this engaged state, rotation of the top shelf 150 will cause adjustment of its vertical position along the outer pole 106. To disengage the top shelf 150 from the pin assembly 314, the release pin 320 can be manually rotated back into the pin housing 316.

A still further embodiment of an alternative arrangement for the release pin mechanism is illustrated in FIGS. 56A, 56B and 56C. FIGS. 56A and 56B illustrate, in part, a further embodiment of a lazy susan device 330, shown in partial format. As with prior embodiments, the lazy susan device 330 includes a lower pole 106, tube or sleeve 250 and an adjustment nut 172 (FIG. 56C) within the tube or sleeve 250. The adjustment nut 172 associated with the lazy susan device 330 corresponds to the structure and functional operation of the adjustment nut 172 previously described with respect to lazy susan device 100. The lazy susan device 330 also includes a top shelf 150. For purposes of providing engagement and disengagement of the top shelf 150 with the adjustment nut 172, a top cap 332 is provided. The top cap 332 is similar to the top cap 214 and other top caps previously described herein. Mounted to the top cap 332 is an engagement device 344, similar to the engagement device 322 described with respect to the immediately prior embodiment. As illustrated in FIG. 56C, the engagement device 344 is integral with or otherwise connected to (by any suitable connecting means) the top cap 332 and comprises a pair of opposing and parallel engagement walls 346 having a vertically disposed configuration. An engagement slot 348 is formed within the opening between the pair of engagement walls 346.

A pin assembly 334 is also provided. In this particular embodiment, the pin assembly 334 includes a pin guide or housing 336 having a vertically disposed configuration and mounted (by any suitable means) to the underside of the top shelf 150. The pin guide 336 can have any of numerous configurations, including a cylindrical configuration. The pin guide 336, as illustrated in FIG. 56C, includes a guide slot 338 extending longitudinally and vertically along the pin guide 336. A pin control rod 340 is also provided, which is coupled to or otherwise integral with a release pin 342. The release pin 342 extends outwardly through the guide slot 338. Although not expressly shown in the drawings, the pin control 340 rod can be suitably mounted within the pin guide 336, in a manner so that the pin control rod 340 can move upwardly and downwardly within the pin guide 336. Upward and downward movement of the pin control rod 340, through manually exerted forces, will correspondingly move the release pin 342 upwardly and downwardly.

With respect to operation, FIG. 56A illustrates the pin assembly 334 in a “disengaged” state relative to the top cap 332 and the engagement device 344. In this disengaged configuration, the top shelf 150 will rotate independently of the top cap 332 and the adjustment nut 172. To adjust the vertical position of the top shelf 150 relative to the lower pole or post 106, the user can rotate the top shelf 150 until the pin assembly 334 is in “alignment” with the engagement device 344. The user can then grasp the pin control rod 340, and move the same upwardly so that the release pin 342 moves into the guide slot 338 formed within the engagement device 344. The release pin 342 is then in an “engaged” state relative to the engagement device 344 and the top cap 332. From the configurations illustrated in FIGS. 56A, 56B and 56C, it is apparent that it is preferable for the pin assembly 334 to include appropriate components so that when the pin control rod 340 is moved upwardly and the release pin 342 is engaged within the engagement slot 348, the pin control rod 340 will remain in its upward state within the pin guide 336, in the absence of any externally provided forces. This type of configuration can be achieved through the use of pin guide bushings (not shown) or the like within the pin guide 336, so as to provide somewhat of a “friction fit” of the pin control rod 340 as it moves upwardly into the pin guide 336.

Again, with the pin control rod 340 moved into the upward position, and the release pin 342 then being engaged within the engagement slot 348 of the engagement device 344, manually exerted forces applied to the top shelf 150 so as to rotate the same will correspondingly cause the adjustment nut 172 to move along the vertical length of the outer post 106, thereby adjusting the vertical height of the top shelf 150. As with other embodiments herein, although the release pin 342 is shown in the form of somewhat of a “flat” plate, it is apparent that other configurations of the release pin 342 could be utilized, without departing from the novel concepts of the invention. In summary, the lazy susan device 330 is an illustrative embodiment where the release pin is essentially attached to the top shelf 150 (through the pin assembly 334), and moves with a vertical motion between its disengaged and engaged states with the engagement device 344.

A still further embodiment of an alternative arrangement for the release pin mechanism is illustrated in FIGS. 57A, 57B and 57C. In this particular configuration, the release pin is attached to the top shelf 150 through a rotational motion. This is somewhat similar to the previously described lazy susan device 310 illustrated in FIGS. 55A, 55B and 55C. Therein, the release pin was attached to the adjustment nut assembly, with a rotational motion. In contrast, the embodiment shown in FIGS. 57A, 57B and 57C also includes a rotational motion of the release pin, but the release pin is attached to the top shelf 150, rather than the adjustment nut.

More specifically, FIGS. 57A, 57B and 57C illustrate, in part, a further embodiment of a lazy susan device 350, shown in partial format in accordance with the invention. As with the prior embodiments, the lazy susan device 350 includes a lower pole or post 106, tube or sleeve 250 and an adjustment nut 172 (FIG. 57C) within the tube or sleeve 250. The adjustment nut 172 is substantially similar in function and structure to the adjustment nut 172 previously described with respect to lazy susan device 100. As earlier stated, the lazy susan device 350 also includes a top shelf 150. For purposes of providing engagement and disengagement of the top shelf 150 with the adjustment nut 172, a top cap 352 is provided. The top cap 352 is similar to the top cap 332 and other top caps previously described herein. Mounted to the top cap 352 is an engagement device 354, similar to the engagement device 322 previously described with respect to the lazy susan device 310 shown in FIGS. 55A, 55B and 55C. As illustrated in FIG. 57C, the engagement device 354 is integral with or otherwise connected to (by any suitable connecting means) the top cap 352. The engagement device 354 comprises a pair of opposing and parallel engagement walls 356 having a vertically disposed configuration. An engagement slot 358 is formed within the opening between the pair of engagement walls 356.

A pin assembly 360 is also provided. The pin assembly 360 is coupled to (by any suitable connecting means) the underside surface of the top shelf 150. The pin assembly 360 includes a vertically disposed pin housing 362. The pin housing 362 houses a release pin 366 having a blade or knife-like configuration. As illustrated in FIG. 57C, the release pin 366 is received within a pin assembly slot 368 formed by the pin housing 362. The release pin 366 is rotatably coupled to the pin housing 362 through a pivot 364 located in the pin housing 362. The pin assembly 360 is essentially in a horizontal alignment with the engagement device 354. Although the release pin 366 is shown as having a blade or knife-like configuration, other configurations could be utilized for the release pin 366. For example, the pin 366 could have a cylindrical configuration or other various types of structural configurations, without departing from the novel concepts of the invention.

Preferably, the pin assembly 360 includes somewhat of a “friction fit” between the pivot 364 and the release pin 366. As previously described with respect to the release pin 320 and pivot 318 associated with the lazy susan device 310, a friction fit is preferable so that when the release pin 366 is rotated or pivoted relative to the pivot 364, by the exertion of manually applied forces, the release pin 366 will remain in the position to which the pin 366 is rotated, even after the externally applied forces are removed. Components and structure for providing such a friction fit are relatively well known in the art.

FIG. 57A illustrates the release pin 366 in a “disengaged” state. In this state, the top shelf 150 is free to rotate independent of the adjustment nut 172, top cap 352 and engagement device 354. To adjust the height or vertical position of the top shelf 150 along the length of the outer post or pole 106, the top shelf 150 can be rotated until the pin assembly 360 is in alignment with the engagement device 354. The user can then manually exert forces on the release pin 366 so as to rotate the pin 366 about the pivot 364, until the release pin 366 engages the engagement slot 358 of the engagement device 354. As earlier stated, the “friction fit” between the release pin 366 and the pivot 364 should be such that the release pin 366 remain stationary in a rotated position, after external forces are removed. With the release pin 366 received within the engagement slot 358 of the engagement device 354, the pin assembly 360 is then in an “engaged” state with the adjustment nut 172, as illustrated in FIG. 57B. With the release pin 366 in this engaged state, rotational forces manually exerted on the top shelf 150 will cause not only the top shelf 150 to rotate, but will also cause the rotation of the top cap 312, tube or sleeve 250 and the adjustment nut 172. This rotation will occur through the coupling of the top shelf 150 to the top cap 352, and through the engagement of the release pin 366 with the engagement device 354. In this engaged state, rotation of the top shelf 150 will cause adjustment of its vertical position along the outer pole or post 106 through the previously described action of the adjustment nut 172. To disengage the top shelf 150 from the top cap 352, the release pin 366 can be manually rotated back into the pin housing 362 (a counter clockwise rotation as viewed in FIG. 57B). In accordance with the foregoing, a release pin engagement configuration has been provided, where the release pin 366 is coupled to the top shelf 150, and the release pin 366 is rotated for purposes of moving the pin 366 between disengaged and engaged states.

Another embodiment of an alternative arrangement for the release pin mechanism is illustrated in FIG. 58. This embodiment is identified as lazy susan device 370. With respect to contrast between the lazy susan device 370 and the previously described lazy susan device 350 illustrated in FIGS. 57A, 57B and 57C, the lazy susan device 350 included a release pin mechanism which was attached to the top shelf 150, and moved with a rotational motion. Manual activation of the release pin mechanism for the lazy susan device 350 involved the user directly grasping the release pin 366. In contrast, and as described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the release pin mechanism associated with the lazy susan device 370 also includes a release pin attached to the top shelf 150, but is activated through an arrangement to provide remote actuation.

More specifically, FIG. 58 illustrates an underside view of a lazy susan device 370 with remote activation. Certain components of the lazy susan device 370 are substantially similar to the components of the lazy susan device 290 previously described with respect to FIGS. 54A and 54B. As with other embodiments, the lazy susan device 370 is shown only in part, for purposes of showing alternatives to the previously described release pin mechanisms. With the lazy susan device 370, a height adjustment mechanism continues to incorporate a tube or sleeve 250 with a nut assembly (not shown) positioned between the interior of the sleeve 250 and the cylindrical surface of the lower pole or post 106. At the top of the sleeve 250, a top cap 372 is provided. The top cap 372 can be substantially similar to the previously described top cap 292 associated with the lazy susan device 290 shown in FIGS. 54A and 54B. The top cap 372 will cooperate with the sleeve 250 and the corresponding nut (not shown) in the manner previously described.

Also in a manner substantially similar to the previously described lazy susan device 290, the top cap 372 includes a vertically disposed and elongated top cap slot 374 provided on the cylindrical outer surface of the top cap 372. In addition to the top cap slot 374, a pin assembly 376 is also provided. The pin assembly 376 is an alternative embodiment to the release pin mechanisms previously described herein. As with the pin assembly 296 associated with the lazy susan device 290 previously described herein, the pin assembly 376 includes a base plate 380 which is attached to an undersurface of the top shelf 150. Attachment can be by any appropriate means, including means such as the connecting screws 378 illustrated in FIG. 58. Suitably secured to the base plate 380 by any appropriate means is a bushing sleeve 382. The bushing sleeve 382 is positioned so as to be horizontally disposed, and includes a through hole (not shown) vertically aligned with the top cap slot 372. The through hole and the bushing sleeve 382 are appropriately sized and configured so as to receive a horizontally disposed release pin 384.

In the embodiment of the lazy susan device 370, the release pin 384 can be moved into an “engaged” state, whereby the pin 384 is slid into an engagement with the top cap slot 374. In FIG. 58, the release pin 384 is shown in a “disengaged” state relative to the top cap slot 374. If desired, various appropriate and well known means may be utilized to essentially “lock” the pin 384 into engagement with the top cap slot 374. With this engagement, manual rotation of the top shelf 150 will correspondingly cause manual rotation of the top cap 372 and the corresponding adjustment nut assembly comprising the adjustment nut (not shown) and the tube or sleeve 250. The top cap 372 can be engaged with the adjustment nut (not shown) and the tube or sleeve 250 in the same manner as previously described herein with respect to other lazy susan device embodiments. When the release pin 384 is removed from engagement with the top cap slot 374 (as shown in FIG. 58), rotational forces manually exerted on the top shelf 350 will cause the top shelf 350 to rotate independently of the top cap 372 and the associated height adjustment nut assembly (not shown).

In addition to the foregoing elements, the lazy susan device 370 as illustrated in FIG. 58 also includes what can be characterized as a means for remote activation of the release pin 384. As shown in FIG. 58, the release pin 384 is coupled to or otherwise connected to a connecting push rod 386 which is horizontally disposed and positioned immediately below the undersurface of the top shelf 150. The connecting push rod 386 is preferably supported or otherwise secured by a support bracket 388 coupled to the lower surface of the top shelf 150 by any suitable connecting means. However, the connecting push rod 386 should be supported within the support bracket 388 in a manner so that the connecting push rod 386 can relatively freely move in an axial manner relative to the support bracket 388. At the terminating end of the connecting push rod 386, and preferably positioned in a manner so that it is readily accessible to the user, an activating knob 390 is provided. The activating knob 390 can be connected to or otherwise integral with the connecting push rod 386. In turn, the connecting push rod 386 could, in fact, be constructed so as to be integral with the release pin 384. Otherwise, any suitable connection (not shown) can be made between the push rod 386 and the release pin 384 within the pin assembly 376.

When the user wishes to adjust the height of the top shelf 150 (i.e. the vertical position along the outer pole or post 106), the activating knob 390 can be manually activated by the user so as to push or otherwise move the release pin 384 into the top cap slot 374. With this engagement between the release pin 384 and the top cap slot 374, rotational forces manually exerted by the user on the top shelf 150 will cause the top shelf 150 to move in correspondence with the top cap 372 and the associated adjustment nut assembly (not shown). When the top shelf 150 is at a desired height, the user can “pull” outwardly on the activating knob 390, so as to move the release pin 384 outwardly from the top cap slot 374. When the release pin 384 is thereby moved into a “disengaged” state, rotational forces exerted on the top shelf 150 will not cause the top cap 372 to correspondingly rotate. Therefore, the top shelf 150 will not move vertically along the outer pole or post 106.

It should be emphasized that the connecting push rod 386 and the activating knob 390 do not necessarily have to be in the form of a “push-pull” mechanism. That is, the connecting push rod 386 could be in the form of a rod which threadably engages the bushing sleeve 382 or the release pin 384, in a manner so that rotational forces exerted on the activating knob 390 will cause the release pin 384 to extend into or retract from the top cap slot 374, dependent upon the direction of the applied rotational forces on the knob 390.

In brief summary with respect to the various types of release pin mechanisms illustrated, the lazy susan device 290 illustrated in FIGS. 54A and 54B utilizes a release pin assembly where the release pin is attached to the top shelf 150, and movement of the release pin occurs in a horizontal direction. In the lazy susan device 310 illustrated in FIGS. 55A, 55B and 55C, the release pin assembly is essentially coupled to the adjustment nut assembly, and moved between engaged and disengaged states in a rotating motion. A further embodiment, in the form of the lazy susan device 330 illustrated in FIGS. 56A, 56B and 56C, involves a release pin assembly attached to the top shelf, with the release pin having a vertical motion to move between engaged and disengaged states. The lazy susan device 350 illustrated in FIGS. 57A, 57B and 57C involves, again, a release pin assembly attached to the shelf, but with rotational motion to move the release pin between engaged and disengaged states. Finally, the lazy susan device 370 described immediately prior hereto illustrates the use of a release pin assembly attached to the top shelf 150, with the capability of remote activation by the user, so as to move the release pin between engaged and disengaged states. The foregoing are merely illustrative embodiments of release pin assemblies in accordance with the invention. Various other configurations of release pin assemblies may be utilized without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concepts of the invention.

The foregoing embodiments of height adjustment mechanisms in accordance with the invention have been described primarily with respect to lazy susan-like apparatus. Such apparatus corresponds, for example, to the lazy susan device 100 as primarily illustrated in FIGS. 1-23 and FIGS. 25-48. The apparatus has also been described as being adapted for use in supporting items and facilitating access to such items by a user. Such items can, as previously described, be food items or the like. Such items can be stored on elements such as shelving, such as the upper shelf 150 previously described herein. In addition, a lazy susan device in accordance with the invention can be characterized as having support means for supporting the apparatus and for supporting the shelf. Such support means can, for example, correspond to the previously described centralized support pole 102. Still further, and in accordance with the invention, the apparatus can include a height adjustment mechanism. The mechanism can correspond, for example, to the height adjustment mechanism 170 described herein, along with other embodiments of height adjustment mechanisms.

The height adjustment mechanism can include, for example, elements corresponding to a mechanism securing means. The mechanism securing means can correspond to elements having the function of coupling the support means to the height adjustment mechanism. As an example in the embodiments described herein, such mechanism securing means can comprise the bearing pin 256 previously described herein with respect to the lazy susan device 100.

Still further, the previously described adjustment nut 172 can be characterized as a threaded means, which is threadably coupled to the mechanism securing means. With this coupling, rotational movement of the threaded means about the support means causes the threaded means to move linearly along the support means. Still further, the height adjustment mechanism 170 can be characterized as including a release pin assembly, such as the release pin assembly 215. The release pin assembly 215 can be characterized as a shelf engagement means for engaging the shelf 150 with the height adjustment mechanism 170. In this manner, rotational movement of the shelf 150 causes the threaded means to move linearly along the support means.

Still further, and as previously described herein, the height adjustment mechanism 170 can be characterized as including a configuration for supporting the shelf 150 on mechanism 170. Such shelf support means can include elements of the previously described top cap 214. The top cap 214 can include, for example, studs 222 which can be utilized to support the shelf 150 on the support pole 102.

In addition to use with lazy susan apparatus, and still in accordance with the invention, height adjustment mechanism may be utilized for other applications. For example, the adjustment nut 172 may be characterized as a threaded mechanism, and may be used for selectively moving an object (other than a shelf 150) axially along the length of an elongated shaft. Such shaft may be something other than the centralized support pole 102. The threaded mechanism could be characterized as including a securing means for coupling the shaft to the threaded mechanism, such as the previously described bearing pin 256. The mechanism can also include an adjustment nut, such as the adjustment nut 172, and can be characterized as being mounted around the shaft and including at least one internal thread. Object engagement means can be characterized as incorporating means for selectively engaging an object (i.e. an object other than a shelf 150) with the adjustment nut. In this manner, movement of the object would cause the adjustment nut to rotate about the shaft. This adjustment nut can further be characterized as being threadably coupled to the securing means, so that rotational movement of the adjustment nut would cause the adjustment nut to move linearly along the shaft. When the object engagement means was selectively engaging the object with the adjustment nut, this linear movement of the adjustment nut would correspondingly cause linear movement of the object along the shaft.

Other modifications and variations of height adjustment mechanisms in accordance with the invention may be used, relative to the previously described adjustment mechanisms. For example, in another embodiment 410 of a height adjustment mechanism 412 in accordance with the invention shown in FIG. 59, the mechanism could still be mounted on a support means, such as a pole 414, and may include an adjustment nut 416 directly attached to a shelf 420 or, for example, a table top. A mechanism securing means, such as a bearing pin 422, could engage the internal threads of the nut 416. In such an embodiment, the adjustment nut 416 could have at least one internal detent between the nut 416 and the pin 422. In this manner, the shelf or table 420 would remain at a fixed height, until external forces would be applied to the shelf or table. Such external forces would cause the shelf or table to rotate, thereby overcoming the inertial force resulting from the detent. In such embodiment, the shelf would be rotated in one direction to raise the height of the shelf, and rotate it in the opposite direction to lower the height. Rotation could occur until another internal detent was reached. At that time, the shelf or table would stay at that particular height, until additional external forces would be applied to cause another height adjustment.

Still further, the foregoing embodiment of a height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention can be further refined, as in the FIG. 60 embodiment 430. More specifically, the shelf adjustment may be engaged or disengaged on a selective basis. For example, the support pole could be supported by bearings 432 or the like, so that the pole 414 is supported in a vertical direction, but is normally free to rotate. With such a configuration, when external forces are applied to the shelf 420 (thereby causing it to rotate), the detent between the nut 416 and the pin 422 will correspondingly cause the pole to rotate. This will effectively “disengage” the adjustment feature. When however, it is desired to adjust the shelf height, the pole can be pinned, clamped or otherwise preventing from rotating relative to a cabinet, floor or other structure supporting the pole by an engagement means. With the pole thus locked, manual forces applied to the shelf (thereby causing the shelf to rotate) can correspondingly rotate the nut relative to the pole. The forces applied should be sufficient or overcome the detent between the nut and the bearing pin. The nut will travel linearly, thereby adjusting the shelf height until reaching another detent. If the engagement means is disengaged with this height, the shelf will thereafter remain at such height. In accordance with the foregoing, in addition to indexing the height of the shelf, the detent will rotationally index the shelf relative to the support pole.

In a still further embodiment 440 in FIG. 61, it may be desirable to rotationally index the shelf 420 relative to a cabinet or the like. For this purpose, the support pole 414 may be permitted to rotate as previously described herein, but with a detent position relative to a bearing 432, cabinet or the like. In this situation, the detent 442 between the pole and the bearing or cabinet must be “less strong” then the detent between the nut 416 and the pin 422. That is, when a user would externally apply forces so as to cause the shelf to rotate, the detent between the pole and the bearing or cabinet should be overcome, prior to overcoming the inertial forces resulting from the detent between the nut and the pole. In this manner, the shelf will rotate, without having any corresponding adjustment and height. However, when the pole is locked relative to the bearing or cabinet, forces applied so as to rotate the shelf will cause the detent between the nut and the pin to be overcome as previously described herein, and the shelf height will be adjusted.

With respect to the immediately foregoing embodiments of height adjustment mechanisms in accordance with certain aspects of the invention, and as described with respect to other embodiments herein, the shelf has been described as resting on a support, such as studs 22 on a top cap 214. However, in any of the embodiments discussed herein, the shelf maybe made to rest directly on top of the adjustment nut. That is, the “shelf support means” may be a surface at or near the top of the adjustment nut. See embodiment 450 in FIG. 62.

In a still further embodiment 460 in FIG. 63 of a height adjustment mechanism in accordance with the invention, the partial detent previously described herein between the shelf 420 and the nut 416 may be configured so that at least one stud 462, is integrally formed or directly attached to the nut. This stud may “fall” into a depression or notch 462 in the bottom surface of the shelf 420 or shelf hub, thereby providing the partial detent and providing rotational indexing between the shelf and the nut. This differs in part from certain of the previously described embodiments, which incorporated studs 222 within a top cap 214 on an adjustment nut 172.

In yet another related embodiment 470 in FIG. 64, a partial detent between the shelf and the nut may be configured, so that at least one stud 472 is formed or applied to the bottom surface of the shelf 420 or shelf hub. This stud 472 may be configured so as to essentially “fall” into a depression or notch 474 in the shelf support means. This shelf support means could be at the top of a top cap 214 or, alternatively, could be a surface at or near the top of the adjustment nut itself. This configuration would provide the partial detent and further provide rotational indexing between the shelf and the nut.

A still further configuration could include a shelf engagement means which would be directly attached to the shelf. With this configuration, the shelf engagement means could be selectively positioned so as to engage or disengage a notch, aperture, lug or similar element formed directly in the adjustment nut. As an alternative to the foregoing, the shelf engagement means could be attached directly to the adjustment nut, and be selectively positioned so as to engage or disengage in a notch, aperture, lug or similar element formed in or attached to the shelf. This is similar to FIGS. 55, 56 and 57.

Still further embodiments of height adjustment mechanisms in accordance with the invention may include various configurations and methods of manufacture for the adjustment nut. As an example, an adjustment nut with irregular threads in accordance with the invention can be cast by a “lost foam” process, lost wax process or other means capable of producing the required internal features of the adjustment nut.

In a still further embodiment 480 in FIG. 65, the adjustment nut 416 could be molded in one or more pieces. The regular thread portion 482 of the adjustment nut could be molded using a conventional threaded core. The detent portions 484 of the thread could be molded using cores adjacent to the threaded core. In this manner, the detents could be molded by cores which would retract from the part, separate from the threaded core. Such detents would have configurations similar to those previously described herein with respect to the adjustment nut 172.

Still further embodiments exist for height adjustment mechanisms in accordance with the invention. For example, in the embodiments previously described herein, detents in the adjustment nut were located along the linear length of the nut. In contrast, detents in the adjustment nut could be formed in a radial direction. In such an embodiment 490 in FIGS. 66 and 67, a mechanism securing means could be a telescoping pin 492 biased in an outward direction. As the nut would be rotated on a support means, the mechanism securing means would ride along the radial edge of the thread. The securing means could expand and provide a partial detent into a depression, aperture or similar area 494 within the surface. With this embodiment, the adjustment nut could be formed in multiple segments. However, alternatively, the nut could be molded in one or more pieces, using a conventional threaded core. The detents could be molded using cores that abut the threaded core and retract from the part separate from the threaded core. Still further, and as an alternative, the radial detents could be formed by drilling at least one hole 496 intersecting the radial surface of the internal thread.

An additional embodiment directed to the configuration of the nut could comprise an adjustment nut with internal threads and at least one detent between the adjustment nut and a mechanism securing means which could be directly grasped and rotated manually relative to a support means. In this manner, the adjustment nut could be moved so as to adjust the shelf height. With this configuration, and in contrast to certain embodiments previously described herein, certain of the mechanical advantage resulting from having the adjustment nut engage the shelf and correspondingly rotate the shelf, would be lost. However, this type of configuration could be utilized and be workable with relatively lighter shelf loads, where mechanical advantage is not of particular importance.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the pertinent arts that other embodiments of lazy susan devices in accordance with the invention may be designed. That is, the principles of a lazy susan device are not limited to the specific embodiments described herein. Accordingly, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that modifications and other variations of the above-described illustrative embodiments of the invention may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concepts of the invention.

Claims

1. A lazy susan-like apparatus adapted for use in supporting items and facilitating access to said items by a user, said apparatus comprising:

at least one shelf;
support means for supporting said apparatus and for supporting said shelf;
a height adjustment mechanism, said mechanism comprising: mechanism securing means for coupling said support means to said height adjustment mechanism; and threaded means threadably coupled to said mechanism securing means, so that rotational movement of said threaded means about said support means causes said threaded means to move linearly along said support mean.

2. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said height adjustment mechanism further comprises shelf support means for supporting said shelf on said height adjustment mechanism.

3-26. (canceled)

27. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises a nut assembly adapted to fit around said support means, and comprising internal threads; and
said mechanism securing means is adapted to threadably engage said internal threads.

28. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said mechanism securing means comprises a bearing adapted to be coupled to said support means.

29. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said height adjustment mechanism further comprises shelf support means for supporting said shelf on said height adjustment mechanism in a manner so that said shelf is capable of rotation relative to said threaded means.

30. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut having a substantially cylindrical configuration with an internal core received on said support means, and internal threads forming an interior surface of said internal core.

31. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said mechanism securing means comprises a bearing coupled to said support means;
said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut positioned on said support means and comprising internal threads; and
said bearing is adapted to be received within said internal threads, and interaction between said bearing and said internal threads during rotation of said adjustment nut causes positional adjustment of said adjustment nut longitudinally along said support means.

32. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut having internal threads, said threads being formed as two, nonintersecting helical paths.

33. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said support means comprises a centralized support pole; and
said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut sized and configured so as to securely fit around said centralized support pole.

34. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut having internal threads; and
said adjustment nut comprises a plurality of elongated and physically separable nut segments.

35. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises a nut assembly adapted to fit around said support means, and comprising internal threads;
said mechanism securing means is adapted to threadably engage said internal threads; and
said internal threads are configured so as to provide dual leads.

36. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut formed from a plurality of nut segments, with said nut segments molded in a straight draw action.

37. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said support means comprises a centralized support pole;
said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut adapted to be received on said centralized support pole;
said apparatus further comprises a sleeve having a hollow and substantially cylindrical interior, and sized and configured so as to snuggly receive said adjustment nut through a central aperture of said sleeve; and
at least a subset of said nut segments comprise means for providing a positive locking of said sleeve onto to said nut segments.

38. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said support means comprises a centralized support pole; and
said mechanism securing means comprises a bearing pin adapted to be received through apertures extending through said support pole.

39. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said mechanism securing means comprises a bearing pin positioned on said support means at a predetermined longitudinal location along said support means;
said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut; and
rotation of said adjustment nut relative to said support means causes engagement of said bearing pin with said internal threads, so that further rotation of said adjustment nut relative to said support means causes said adjustment nut to move longitudinally along said support means, as a result of relative interaction between said bearing pin and said internal threads.

40. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut; and
rotation of said adjustment nut relative to said support means in one direction will cause said adjustment nut to move upwardly relative to said support means, while rotation of said adjustment nut in an opposing direction will cause said adjustment nut to move downwardly relative to said support means.

41. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut; and
said adjustment nut comprises a plurality of elongated nut segments.

42. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut, and said adjustment nut comprises a plurality of elongated nut segments;
each nut segment having a cross-sectional configuration in the form of a circular arc;
at least one of said elongated nut segments comprises a nut segment notch projecting inwardly from at least one edge of said at least one nut segment; and
at least one of said nut segments comprises a nut segment lug projecting outwardly from an edge of said at least one nut segment.

43. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut, and said adjustment nut comprises a plurality of nut segments;
said support means comprises a centralized support pole;
for purposes of installation and assembly of said nut segments on said centralized support pole, individual ones of said nut segments are brought together so as to encircle said support pole:
each nut segment is coupled to a pair of others of said nut segments; and
said coupling of said nut segments occurs by interconnecting insertion of nut segment lugs into nut segment notches.

44. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 43, characterized in that said internal threads are formed with reverse lead sections, said sections functioning as partial detents formed in said internal threads, so as to permit said shelf to be indexed at desired heights along said support means, and to further permit radial indexing of said adjustment nut relative to said support means.

45. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 44, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut;
said top cap comprises at least one locking tab;
said adjustment nut comprises at least one nut slot at an upper portion thereof; and
said locking tab is adapted to be received within said nut slot when said top cap is received on said upper portion of said adjustment nut, so that an interlocking relationship exists between said locking tab and said nut slot to prevent any substantial relative rotational movement between said top cap and said adjustment nut.

46. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprise an adjustment nut having internal threads; and
said internal threads are constructed so as to form a pair of non-intersecting helical paths.

47. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut having internal threads; and
said internal threads are formed and constructed with an irregular pitch.

48. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut, and said apparatus further comprises:

means for indexing said shelf relative to said adjustment nut; and
means for indexing said adjustment nut relative to said support means.

49. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut; and
said apparatus further comprises an inner tube or sleeve having a hollow cylindrical configuration, and sized and configured so that said tube or sleeve snuggly receives said adjustment nut.

50. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 49, characterized in that said apparatus further comprises:

an outer tube or sleeve; and
said outer tube or sleeve comprises a longitudinal length so as to ensure that said inner tube or sleeve is at least partially received within said outer tube or sleeve, and not interfere with said adjustment nut at all practical adjustment heights for said shelf.

51. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said shelf comprises at least one detent located on a lower portion thereof; and said apparatus further comprises at least one stud located on an upper portion thereof, said stud being sized and configured so as to be at least partially receivable within said detent of said shelf.

52. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 51, characterized in that:

said height adjustment mechanism further comprises shelf engagement means for engaging said shelf with said height adjustment mechanism;
said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch mechanism, said release catch mechanism comprising a release catch;
when at least one of said studs are positioned in at least one particular one of said detents, said release catch is located directly below a mating feature in said shelf;
when said release catch mechanism is in a disengaged state, said release catch is disengaged from said mating feature, and said shelf is free to rotate about said support means on said studs, independent of said height adjustment mechanism; and
when said release catch mechanism is in an engaged state, said release catch engages said mating feature, and said shelf is therein prevented from any rotation independent of said adjustment nut.

53. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 52, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut;
said support means comprises a centralized support pole;
rotational forces manually exerted on said shelf will cause rotation of said adjustment nut, through engagement of said release catch with said mating feature when said release catch mechanism is in said engaged state;
said rotation of said nut will cause said nut to move upwardly or downwardly along said centralized support pole, through threaded engagement of a bearing with said threaded means; and
said upward or downward movement of said adjustment nut along said support pole causes a vertical height of said shelf to be adjusted along said support pole.

54. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut;
said mechanism securing means comprises a bearing adapted to be coupled to said support means; and
said height adjustment mechanism further comprises means for biasing said adjustment nut to discreet and fixed height increments, relative to a positional location of said bearing along said support pole.

55. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 54, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut having internal threads;
said support means comprises a centralized support pole;
said height adjustment mechanism further comprises shelf engagement means for engaging said shelf with said height adjustment mechanism;
said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch mechanism, said release catch mechanism comprising a release catch;
said shelf comprising at least one detent located on a lower portion thereof;
said apparatus further comprising at least one stud located on an upper portion thereof, said stud being sized and configured so as to be at least partially receivable within said detent of said shelf;
said means for biasing said adjustment nut further comprising: a set of partial detents formed within nut segments of said adjustment nut, so as to bias said nut to said discreet and fixed height increments, relative to said bearing pin; a partial detent between said shelf and said at least one stud which is configured so that externally applied forces required to overcome said partial detent between said shelf and said stud are less than the forces necessary to overcome said partial detents between said adjustment nut and said centralized support pole, thereby ensuring that when said release catch mechanism is in a disengaged state and said shelf is rotated, said partial detent between said adjustment nut and said centralized support pole will be maintained.

56. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment having internal threads; and
said internal threads comprise a thread pitch of approximately 1.5 inches per revolution.

57. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut having internal threads; and
said internal threads comprise an irregular pitch having certain sections of reverse lead, acting as partial detents.

58. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut having internal threads; and
said internal threads are formed as dual leads, with said internal threads comprising a pair of non-intersecting helical paths.

59. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 58, characterized in that said bearing comprises an extrusion formed in said support means.

60. A lazy-susan like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut;
said adjustment nut comprises a single helix nut; and
said mechanism securing means comprises a bearing protruding from only one side of said support means.

61. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 60, characterized in that said bearing comprises a stud welded to said support means.

62. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said height adjustment mechanism further comprises shelf engagement means for engaging said shelf with said height adjustment mechanism, so that rotational forces exerted of said shelf cause said threaded means to move linearly along said support means.

63. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that said shelf engagement means provides for selective engagement by a user of said shelf with said height adjustment mechanism.

64. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that:

said shelf engagement means is structurally positionable in a first engagement state and alternatively structurally positionable in a second disengagement state;
when said shelf engagement means is in said first engagement state, external forces exerted on said shelf so as to rotate said shelf cause corresponding forces to be translated through said shelf engagement means, so as to correspondingly rotate said threaded means; and
when said shelf engagement means is in said second disengagement state, said shelf is substantially free to rotate independent of said threaded means.

65. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch assembly for selectively engaging said shelf with said height adjustment mechanism, so that said rotational movement of said threaded means causes said shelf to move linearly along said support means, and for further selectively disengaging said shelf from said height adjustment mechanism, so that said shelf is substantially free to rotate about said support means independent of rotation of said threaded means.

66. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that:

said support means comprises a centralized support pole;
said mechanism securing means comprise a bearing coupled to said centralized support pole;
said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch manually manipulable into an engaged state with said shelf, so that rotation of said shelf correspondingly causes a rotation of said height adjustment mechanism about said bearing and said centralized support pole, thereby adjusting a relative height of said shelf along said centralized support pole; and
disengagement of said release catch from said shelf permits said shelf to be rotated independently of said height adjustment mechanism.

67. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that:

said support means comprises a centralized support pole;
said mechanism securing means comprises a bearing pin coupled to said centralized support pole;
said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut having internal threads threadably coupled to said bearing pin, so that rotational movement of said adjustment nut about said centralized support pole causes said adjustment nut to move linearly along said centralized support pole; and
said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch mechanism for engaging said shelf and said height adjustment mechanism, so that rotational movement of said shelf causes said adjustment nut to move linearly along said support means.

68. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises an adjustment nut;
said mechanism securing means comprises a bearing pin;
said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch mechanism having an engaged state and a disengaged state;
said support means comprises a centralized support pole;
said height adjustment mechanism further comprises a top cap adapted to be received at an upper portion of said adjustment nut, with said top cap having shelf support means for supporting said shelf above said adjustment nut;
said adjustment nut is received on said centralized support pole;
said top cap is coupled to said adjustment nut through means for locking
said top cap to said adjustment nut;
said bearing pin is inserted into at least one aperture located on said centralized support pole;
upon initial assembly, said adjustment nut can be moved downwardly on said centralized support pole until said bearing pin is received within a bottom portion of said adjustment nut, so that rotation of said adjustment nut relative to said centralized support pole and said bearing pin causes said adjustment nut to move longitudinally along said centralized support pole, as a result of relative interaction between said bearing pin and said adjustment nut within which said bearing pin resides; and
said relative interaction between said bearing pin and said threaded means results in rotation of said adjustment nut in one direction causing said nut to move upwardly relative to said centralized support pole, while rotation in an opposing direction causes said adjustment nut to move downwardly relative to said centralized support pole.

69. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch assembly having a release catch attached to said shelf, with said release catch being manually movable by a user between an engaged state and a disengaged state in a horizontal direction.

70. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that:

said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch assembly operable by a user between engaged and disengaged states; and
said release catch assembly is coupled to said threaded means and manually operable in a rotating or pivotable motion so as to be moved between said engaged and said disengaged states.

71. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch assembly attached to a bottom portion of said shelf, and comprising a release catch having a translational motion to move between engaged and disengaged states.

72. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch assembly attached to a bottom portion of said shelf, said release catch assembly comprising a release catch being capable of rotational motion so as to move between engaged and disengaged states.

73. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises a nut assembly adapted to fit around said support means;
said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch assembly attached to said nut assembly; and
said release catch assembly comprises a release catch having a translational motion so as to move between engaged and disengaged states.

74. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises a nut assembly adapted to fit around said support means;
said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch assembly attached to said nut assembly; and
said release catch assembly comprises a release catch having a rotational motion so as to move between engaged and disengaged states.

75. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch assembly, said release catch assembly comprising a remote actuator manually operable by a user so as to move said engagement means between engaged and disengaged states without requiring said user to manipulate any elements adjacent said support means.

76. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that:

said threaded means comprises a nut assembly fitting around said support means, and including internal threads;
said nut assembly is adapted to rotate about said support means, as said mechanism securing means is threadably engaged with said internal threads; and
during rotation of said nut assembly about said support means, and during threadable engagement of said mechanism securing means with said internal threads, said mechanism securing means remains substantially stationary relative to said support means.

77. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch assembly, said release catch assembly comprising:

a top cap positioned substantially above said threaded means and secured thereto;
a release catch housing connected to said top cap;
a release catch mechanism substantially received within said release catch housing;
said release catch mechanism comprising a release catch manually operable by a user between first and second positions; and
when said release catch is in said first position, said threaded means is engaged with said shelf, and when said release catch is in said second position, said threaded means is disengaged from said shelf.

78. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 77, characterized in that said release catch mechanism is maintained in said first engaged state, absent application of external forces, through elements having magnetic properties.

79. A lazy susan-like apparatus in accordance with claim 62, characterized in that said shelf engagement means comprises a release catch mechanism, said release catch mechanism comprising:

a release catch; and
means connected to said release catch and manually operable by a user so as to move said release catch between a first engaged state, wherein rotation of said shelf will correspondingly translate into linear movement of said threaded means along said support means, and a second disengaged state, wherein said shelf is rotatable independent of any rotation or linear movement of said threaded means along said support means.

80. A threaded mechanism for selectively moving an object axially along the length of an elongated shaft, said mechanism comprising:

securing means for coupling said shaft to said threaded mechanism;
an adjustment nut mounted around said shaft and comprising at least one internal thread, said internal thread having an irregular pitch;
object engagement means for selectively engaging said object with said adjustment nut, so that movement of said object causes said adjustment nut to rotate about said support means;
said adjustment nut is threadably coupled to said securing means, so that rotational movement of said adjustment nut causes said adjustment nut to move linearly along said shaft; and
when said object engagement means is selectively engaging said object with said adjustment nut, linear movement of said adjustment nut along said shaft correspondingly causes linear movement of said object along said shaft.

81. A threaded mechanism in accordance with claim 79, characterized in that:

said securing means comprises a bearing coupled to said shaft and adapted to be received within said at least one internal thread; and
said object engagement means is positionable in an engagement state and a disengagement state, so that when said object engagement means is in said engagement state, movement of said object causes said adjustment nut to rotate about said shaft, and when said object engagement means is in said disengagement state, said object is free to move independent of said adjustment nut.

82. A threaded mechanism in accordance with claim 79, characterized in that said adjustment nut comprises a pair of nonintersecting internal threads.

83. A threaded mechanism in accordance with claim 79, characterized in that said at least one internal thread is molded in a plurality of segments.

Patent History

Publication number: 20060169187
Type: Application
Filed: Jan 28, 2005
Publication Date: Aug 3, 2006
Inventor: Keith Hoffman (Hudsonville, MI)
Application Number: 11/046,144

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: 108/103.000
International Classification: A47B 11/00 (20060101);