Toilet Seat Positioning Device

A toilet seat positioning device is operated by a foot lever having a fulcrum positioned between and spaced from a link end and a foot end thereof. A seat coupling is received within a socket in the toilet seat spaced forwardly from the rear end hinge of the toilet seat. A link arm is pivotally coupled between the link end of the foot lever and the seat coupling. A biasing mechanism is arranged to bias the foot lever from the open position towards the closed position and a dampening mechanism is arranged to slow biasing action of the biasing mechanism.

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Description

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/944,159, filed Jun. 15, 2007.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to device for positioning a toilet seat, and more particularly relates to a toilet seat positioning device including a biasing mechanism to return the seat to a closed position and a damper to slow the closing action of the biasing mechanism.

BACKGROUND

When a person enters a washroom, especially in a commercial building, for example government buildings, airports, and restaurants, the first thing one wonders is just how clean it is.

These days there have been many advances to the appliances in the washrooms, for example the “hands-free” hand dryers and “hands-free” water taps. However the thing a person hates touching the most is also the most unsanitary item in the washroom that is the toilet seat.

There are automated toilet seat positioners available, but they are costly and many need electricity to operate.

Various examples of mechanical devices for lifting a toilet seat are described in the following documents. U.S. Pat. No. 6,219,854 belonging to Milliman et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,112,335 belonging to Gaston; U.S. Pat. No. 5,978,974 belonging to Mullen; U.S. Pat. No. 5,323,496 belonging to Blair; U.S. Pat. No. 4,649,576 belonging to Lillie; U.S. Pat. No. 4,030,146 belonging to Pilkington et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,233,751 belonging to Ford; U.S. Pat. No. 1,590,298 belonging to Landis; and U.S. Pat. No. 429,952 belonging to Pratt.

In general prior art attempts to lift a toilet seat either involve the seat not being rotated over center so that the user must continue to apply weight to a foot pedal to carry the weight of the seat in the open position or the seat is rotated over center but the user must then handle the seat to cause it to close and return over centre.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention there is provided a toilet seat positioning device for a seat on a toilet which is hinged adjacent a rear end of the seat for pivotal movement between an open position and a closed position, the device comprising:

a foot lever including a fulcrum positioned between and spaced from a link end and a foot end of the foot lever;

a seat coupling arranged for mounting on the seat at a position spaced forwardly from the rear end of the seat;

a link arm pivotally coupled to the link end of the foot lever and to the seat coupling;

the foot lever being arranged to be supported for pivotal movement about the fulcrum between a closed position in which the foot end of the foot lever is arranged to be supported spaced above a floor supporting the toilet thereon with the seat extending forwardly from the rear end thereof and an open position in which the foot end of the foot lever is arranged to be lowered in relation to the closed position such that the link arm is raised in relation to the closed position and the seat extends upwardly from the rear end thereof;

a biasing mechanism arranged to bias the foot lever from the open position towards the closed position; and

a dampening mechanism arranged to delay biasing action of the biasing mechanism.

By providing a biasing mechanism which urges the seat towards the closed position in combination with a dampening mechanism which slows the biasing action, the seat can be rotated over center to remain open without the user carrying the weight of the seat by applying weight to a foot pedal and without the user being required to touch the seat with their hands to return the seat to the closed position. The dampening mechanism is particularly useful in preventing premature closing of the seat when a biasing mechanism acts to close the seat in a controlled manner.

The biasing mechanism may comprise a spring, or a hollow chamber having walls of resilient material, or a combination thereof.

The biasing mechanism may be arranged to bias the foot lever from the open position towards the closed position only until the seat is rotated over center towards the closed position.

The dampening mechanism may comprise an air chamber including a bleed aperture therein which limits the rate of inflation or deflation of the chamber.

The biasing mechanism preferably acts upon the rate of inflation or deflation of the chamber.

The chamber is preferably arranged to be inflated as the seat is displaced from the open position to the closed position under force of the biasing mechanism and wherein the bleed aperture limits the rate of inflation of the chamber.

The dampening mechanism may act between the foot end of the lever and the floor.

The biasing mechanism may similarly act between the foot end of the lever and the floor.

The chamber is preferably surrounded by walls of flexible material.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a toilet seat positioning device for a seat on a toilet which is hinged adjacent a rear end of the seat for pivotal movement between an open position and a closed position, the device comprising:

a foot lever including a fulcrum positioned between and spaced from a link end and a foot end of the foot lever;

a seat coupling arranged for mounting on the seat at a position spaced forwardly from the rear end of the seat;

a link arm pivotally coupled to the link end of the foot lever and to the seat coupling;

the foot lever being arranged to be supported for pivotal movement about the fulcrum between a closed position in which the foot end of the foot lever is arranged to be supported spaced above a floor supporting the toilet thereon with the seat extending forwardly from the rear end thereof and an open position in which the foot end of the foot lever is arranged to be lowered in relation to the closed position such that the link arm is raised in relation to the closed position and the seat extends upwardly from the rear end thereof; and

the seat coupling being arranged to be received within a socket in the toilet seat.

The seat coupling may be provided in combination with a replacement toilet seat.

The seat coupling is preferably selectively separable from the seat.

The seat coupling may include a sprung retainer arranged to selectively engage an internal shoulder in the socket in the toilet seat to retain the seat coupling mounted on the toilet seat.

There may be provided a release aperture in a bottom side of the seat through which the retainer can be accessed and released from the internal shoulder for releasing the seat coupling from the toilet seat.

One embodiment of the invention will now be described in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the device supported on a toilet in a closed position of the seat;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the device in an open position;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the device supported on the toilet;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of the device;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged side elevational view of the biasing and dampening mechanisms;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a portion of the biasing and dampening mechanisms;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the foot lever supported on the floor mounting bracket;

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of the seat coupling;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the seat coupling;

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of the seat coupling with the retainer supported thereon;

FIG. 11 is a bottom plan view of the seat coupling with the retainer supported thereon;

FIG. 12 is a front elevational view of a portion of the toilet seat locating the socket therein for receiving the seat coupling;

FIG. 13 is a top plan view of a portion of the seat illustrating the location of the socket for receiving the seat coupling; and

FIG. 14 and FIG. 15 are side elevational and end elevational views respectively of the pivot arm of the locking mechanism.

In the drawings like characters of reference indicate corresponding parts in the different figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the accompanying figures there is illustrated a toilet seat positioning device generally indicated by reference numeral 10. The device 10 is particularly suited for positioning the seat 12 of a toilet 14.

The device is suited for a conventional toilet having a bowl 16 mounted to the floor by a suitable mounting flange 18 at the base thereof. The seat 12 is typically hinged at a rear end thereof for pivotal movement about a laterally extending axis between a closed position extending forwardly from the hinge at the rear end and an open position extending upwardly.

The device 10 includes a mounting bracket 20 which is elongate between a front end 22 and a rear end 24 thereof. The bracket 20 is arranged for mounting on the floor alongside the toilet 14. A lateral flange 26 at the rear end 24 of the mounting bracket is arranged for extending upwardly and laterally outwardly overtop of the mounting flange 18 of the toilet for being secured to an existing flange bolt 28 of the toilet. Suitable adhesive and/or additional screws can be used to also secure the mounting bracket 20 directly to the floor.

A pivot shaft 30 at the front end of the mounting bracket 20 pivotally supports a foot lever 32 thereon for pivotal movement about a generally horizontal and laterally extending pivot axis. The foot lever is elongate between a front foot end 33 and a rear link end 35. The front foot end 33 includes a suitable foot pad thereon for functioning as a pedal upon which the foot of the user can be pressed to operate the device. The foot lever 32 locates a fulcrum 37 along the bottom side thereof at a position spaced from both ends of the lever between the ends of the lever so as to be closer to the foot end of the lever. The fulcrum is pivotally supported on the pivot shaft 30 of the mounting bracket 20 so that as the foot end of the lever is pressed downward, the opposing link end is pivoted upwardly and vice versa. The fulcrum is arranged to be positioned near the front of the toilet where the front end of the mounting bracket is located. The link end of the foot lever 32 is arranged to be positioned near the flange bolt towards the rear of the toilet so as to be located in approximate vertical alignment below the seat hinge.

A pair of cushioning members 34 are supported on the lever 32 to be spaced apart on opposing sides of the fulcrum at the bottom side of the lever. The cushions are each arranged to contact the mounting bracket 20 before the nearest end of the lever associated therewith contacts the floor. The mounting bracket 20 includes a broad plate 36 at the front end thereof so that the cushions are engaged between the lever and the mounting plate 36 as the lever is pivoted upwardly and downwardly at opposing ends thereof.

A link arm 38 is pivotally coupled to the link end of the lever to extend generally upward therefrom. The link arm 38 includes an upper end which is offset laterally inwardly towards the seat for pivotal connection at the top end onto the seat by a seat coupling 40.

The seat coupling 40 is received within a suitable socket 42 formed in the seat. The socket extends laterally inwardly from an opening at the side of the seat in a direction which is generally parallel to the hinge at the rear of the seat. The socket 42 is generally flat and rectangular in cross section.

The seat coupling 40 includes a mounting flange 44 which mates with the cross section of the socket 42 for being slidably received therein. A sprung retainer member 46 fits within a recess in the underside of the mounting flange 44 and is held therein by suitable rivets. A depending flange 48 is mounted at the outer end of the mounting flange 44 to depend downwardly therefrom. The depending flange mounts a pivot shaft 50 thereon to extend laterally outwardly at a location spaced below the surface of the seat. The pivot shaft 50 serves to pivotally attach the top end of the link arm 38 thereon to be held in place by a suitable retainer ring 52.

The socket 42 includes an internal recess which defines a shoulder 54 upon which the retainer member 46 is engaged when the mounting flange 44 is fully inserted into the socket 42. An access aperture 56 in the bottom of the seat provide access to the spring retainer member 36 to return the retainer member into the recess of the mounting flange of the seat coupling so that the retainer member can be released from the shoulder 54 and the seat coupling removed from the socket 42. A plug is provided to seal the access aperture when not in use.

The device 10 is arranged for movement between a closed position in which the foot end of the lever is spaced above the floor and the link arm couples between the link end of the lever adjacent the floor and the seat so that the seat is in a closed position, and an open position in which the foot end of the lever is lowered in relation to the closed position by pressing on the foot pad by a user so that the link end causes the link arm to be raised therewith away from the floor so that the upward movement of the seat coupling causes the seat to be pivoted upwardly and over center to a fully opened position.

To maintain the seat in an open position, a suitable locking mechanism 60 is provided in the form of a pivot arm 61 pivoted on the foot lever 32, rearward from the fulcrum, towards the link end. The pivot arm 61 has sufficient length to span between the lever and the floor to maintain spacing of the link end of the lever arm from the floor which in turn maintains the seat in the open position. The pivot arm is pivotally connected at its top end when in the locked open position so that upward rotation of the pivot arm rearwardly and upwardly permits the lever to be released for normal operation thereof between its respective open and closed positions. By rotating the pivot arm of the locking mechanism 60 upwardly and over center, the pivot arm can be engaged upon a resting lug which maintains the locking mechanism 60 in a released position. A small handle 63 is provided on the pivot arm 61 to assist a user in grasping the arm.

Each of the cushioning members 34 is formed of suitable resilient material to ease impact of the pivotal movement of the foot lever 32 and link arm associated therewith as it approaches either one of the open or closed positions respectively.

The cushioning member 34 positioned below the foot end 33 of the foot lever includes a biasing mechanism in the form of a spring 62 which is compressed between the foot lever and the broad plate 36 of the mount bracket in the open position of the seat. Accordingly the spring 62, in an effort to expand to its original position, urges the foot pedal upwardly and correspondingly pulls the link end and link arm attached thereto downwardly to return the seat over center from the open position to the closed position by lowering the seat coupling.

The cushioning member 34 at the foot end 33 comprises a hollow chamber with walls of resilient material which are deformed in the fully open position when the spring is compressed so that the resilience of the walls returning to their original position also contributes to some force of the biasing mechanism urging the seat back to the closed position.

A dampening mechanism is provided by arranging the internal air chamber of the cushioning member 34 to be sealed with the exception of a bleed aperture 64 which limits the rate of inflation of the chamber as the cushioning member returns to its original uncompressed form. By slowing the inflation of the chamber of the cushioning member to a prescribed rate, the expansion of the spring 62 within the internal chamber of the cushioning member is effectively limited to expanding at the prescribed rate.

Accordingly in addition to a biasing mechanism which urges the linkage of the device from the fully open position towards the closed position, there is also provided a dampening mechanism which slows the rate of displacement from the open position to the closed position. The cushioning member 34 is suitably sized so as to act on the lever and link to bias the seat to the closed position only until the seat is rotated from the fully open position to an over center position towards the closed position. At this point continued upward movement of the foot end of the lever causes the cushion member to lose contact with the mounting bracket so that no more biasing force is provided by the spring, but rather the gravity of the seat falling once rotated over center towards the open position is sufficient to urge continued displacement of the seat towards the closed position.

Since various modifications can be made in my invention as herein above described, and many apparently widely different embodiments of same made within the spirit and scope of the claims without department from such spirit and scope, it is intended that all matter contained in the accompanying specification shall be interpreted as illustrative only and not in a limiting sense.

Claims

1. A toilet seat positioning device for a seat on a toilet which is hinged adjacent a rear end of the seat for pivotal movement between an open position and a closed position, the device comprising:

a foot lever including a fulcrum positioned between and spaced from a link end and a foot end of the foot lever;
a seat coupling arranged for mounting on the seat at a position spaced forwardly from the rear end of the seat;
a link arm pivotally coupled to the link end of the foot lever and to the seat coupling;
the foot lever being arranged to be supported for pivotal movement about the fulcrum between a closed position in which the foot end of the foot lever is arranged to be supported spaced above a floor supporting the toilet thereon with the seat extending forwardly from the rear end thereof and an open position in which the foot end of the foot lever is arranged to be lowered in relation to the closed position such that the link arm is raised in relation to the closed position and the seat extends upwardly from the rear end thereof;
a biasing mechanism arranged to bias the foot lever from the open position towards the closed position; and
a dampening mechanism arranged to delay biasing action of the biasing mechanism.

2. The device according to claim 1 wherein the biasing mechanism comprises a spring.

3. The device according to claim 1 wherein the biasing mechanism comprises a hollow chamber having walls of resilient material.

4. The device according to claim 1 wherein the biasing mechanism is arranged to bias the foot lever from the open position towards the closed position only until the seat is rotated over center towards the closed position.

5. The device according to claim 1 wherein the dampening mechanism comprises an air chamber including a bleed aperture therein which limits the rate of inflation or deflation of the chamber.

6. The device according to claim 5 wherein the biasing mechanism acts upon the rate of inflation or deflation of the chamber.

7. The device according to claim 5 wherein the chamber is arranged to be inflated as the seat is displaced from the open position to the closed position under force of the biasing mechanism and wherein the bleed aperture limits the rate of inflation of the chamber.

8. The device according to claim 5 wherein the dampening mechanism acts between the foot end of the lever and the floor.

9. The device according to claim 5 wherein the biasing mechanism acts between the foot end of the lever and the floor.

10. The device according to claim 5 wherein the chamber is surrounded by walls of flexible material.

11. The device according to claim 10 wherein the biasing mechanism comprises forming the walls of the chamber of a resilient material.

12. The device according to claim 1 wherein the seat coupling is arranged to be received within a socket in the toilet seat.

13. The device according to claim 12 wherein the seat coupling is selectively separable from the seat.

14. The device according to claim 12 in combination with a replacement toilet seat forming the socket integrally therein.

15. The device according to claim 12 wherein the seat coupling includes a sprung retainer arranged to selectively engage an internal shoulder in the socket in the toilet seat to retain the seat coupling mounted on the toilet seat.

16. The device according to claim 15 wherein there is provided a release aperture in a bottom side of the seat through which the retainer can be accessed and released from the internal shoulder for releasing the seat coupling from the toilet seat.

17. A toilet seat positioning device for a seat on a toilet which is hinged adjacent a rear end of the seat for pivotal movement between an open position and a closed position, the device comprising:

a foot lever including a fulcrum positioned between and spaced from a link end and a foot end of the foot lever;
a seat coupling arranged for mounting on the seat at a position spaced forwardly from the rear end of the seat;
a link arm pivotally coupled to the link end of the foot lever and to the seat coupling;
the foot lever being arranged to be supported for pivotal movement about the fulcrum between a closed position in which the foot end of the foot lever is arranged to be supported spaced above a floor supporting the toilet thereon with the seat extending forwardly from the rear end thereof and an open position in which the foot end of the foot lever is arranged to be lowered in relation to the closed position such that the link arm is raised in relation to the closed position and the seat extends upwardly from the rear end thereof; and
the seat coupling being arranged to be received within a socket in the toilet seat.

18. The device according to claim 17 wherein the seat coupling is selectively separable from the seat.

19. The device according to claim 17 wherein the seat coupling includes a sprung retainer arranged to selectively engage an internal shoulder in the socket in the toilet seat to retain the seat coupling mounted on the toilet seat.

20. The device according to claim 20 wherein there is provided a release aperture in a bottom side of the seat through which the retainer can be accessed and released from the internal shoulder for releasing the seat coupling from the toilet seat.

Patent History

Publication number: 20080307572
Type: Application
Filed: Dec 10, 2007
Publication Date: Dec 18, 2008
Inventors: Curt B. Leutschaft (Vermillion Bay), Caren Viola Leutschaft (Vermillion Bay)
Application Number: 11/953,128

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Lever Operated Opener (4/246.3); Opener Or Closer For A Closet Seat Or Lid (4/246.1)
International Classification: A47K 13/10 (20060101); A47K 13/00 (20060101);