ADJUSTABLE STORAGE RACK FOR POTS, PANS AND LIDS CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This a continuation-in-part application of United States Patent Application SerialNumber 10/194,283, filed July 15,2002 and United States Patent Application Serial Number 10/309,098, filed December 4,2002.
TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention generally relates to a storage rack and more specifically is directed toward an adjustable storage rack with horizontally and vertically moveable upright wire members for holding cooking pots, pans, skillets and their respective lids.
BACKGROUND OF THE PRIOR ART Most cooks have accumulated a collection of covered cookware that range over many sizes of pots and pans and containers with lids. Even those householders who do not consider themselves as real cooks have an assortment of covered containers in which to cook food both on top of a stove and in an oven. Thus almost all kitchens contain significant numbers of pots, pans and other cooking containers and lids for same. The cooking containers and their respective lids must be stored when they are not in use and this problem, may be compounded by the lack of storage space in many kitchens.
Where and how these cooking containers are stored may vary substantially from kitchen to kitchen. In some instances, pots and cooking containers are stacked in a nested fashion with the largest diameter pot on the bottom and successively smaller pots on top. While this might be a relatively efficient way to store pots, pans and other cooking vessels such as casseroles, the lids and covers usually cannot be stored effectively in a nested stack. Most kitchens which use this nesting stack storage method for pots also have a disorganized pile of lids and covers. The cook then must rummage through the pile to locate the correct lid for the container he or she wants to use and move stacks of containers. In a home kitchen this exercise is very frustrating and can be quite chaotic when people and children gather in the kitchen during cooking of the meal.
Some cooks simply cover their pots and pans with the lids and store them side-by-side, on cabinet shelves. Although this method allows the cook to locate the correct lid quickly, it requires significantly more storage space than stacking or nesting the containers. Many home kitchens simply do not have the storage space to store the numbers of cooking containers required by large families or serious cooks.
A storage rack is useful for holding pots, pans, skillets and lids for same. In the prior art, shaped wire stands have been used to elevate an appliance or cooking container or to provide open storage for related use utensils, splatter screens and similar items.
U. S. Patent Number 2,516, 088 issued July 18,1950 is directed toward a folding dish drying rack formed from round wire stock which has a protective coating of rubber or synthetic resin. A plurality of elements are pivotally supported between an adjacent pair of longitudinal rods. Each element is mounted with a crank portion positioned outwardly and a lug portion positioned inwardly for attachment to and manipulation by a push bar. The push bar is slidably mounted in slots formed in a pair of mounting plates secured to the ends of a base.
U. S. Patent Number 5,660. 284 issued August 26,1997 is directed toward a storage rack for holding and storing cooking container lids and like shaped objects. The rack has a base with a pair of feet allowing it to be placed in a vertical or horizontal position. A plurality of adjustable crosspieces forming rests or steps are positioned at desired locations along the edges of the bracket members to hold the container lids at a storage angle.
Other commonly used types of stands are a wire rack with legs and supports such as that shown in United States Patent Nos. 2,190, 065,2, 891,676, 3,013, 670,3, 164,108, 4,592, 471, 4,756, 582 and 4,943, 029.
The prior art, therefore, has failed to provide a storage rack or holder for cooking containers and their lids and covers that may be easily assembled by the purchaser or by a consumer, that may be positioned in convenient orientations both horizontally and vertically and which can be easily adjusted as needed to hold and store a number of containers and lids of varying and different dimensions. Consequently, there is a need for such a rack in the home kitchen to allow storage areas to be organized effectively and efficiently to reduce clutter and provide the time savings which result when storage spaces are organized.
Accordingly, the novel storage rack has been developed to hold pots, pans, skillets and lids which resolves the problems of counter and cabinet space, cluttered storage, mislaid lids, matching lids to containers, allowing containers and lids to be consolidated and hidden from sight in a cabinet or enclosed area, as well as being easily cleaned.
SUMMARY OP THE INVENTION The present invention is directed toward an adjustable plastic coated wire storage rack comprising a stand, a base member mounted to the stand and a plurality of horizontally moveable wire members mounted on tubular rails secured to the base member and extending upward from the tubular rails. The plurality of wire members include"U"shaped wire members of varying heights and offset"U"shaped wire members of varying heights constructed to hold lids. The wire members have parallel side post provided with a threaded portion and a sleeve assembly which is rotatable on the threaded portion. The legs are mounted in a tubular support assembly which can be secured to a rail secured to the base member. A handle is mounted to one end of the base member.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a storage rack for cooking containers and their covers and lids which can be custom assembled by the purchaser or consumer to accommodate a specific collection of cooking containers and lids without the need of tools, fasteners or adhesives.
It is an additional object of the present invention to provide for a storage rack which can have individual members horizontally adjusted and vertically adjusted.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an adjustable storage rack for cooking containers and lids that can be sized to hold all of the containers and/or lids for a selected set or brand of cookware.
It is yet another object of the invention to provide a storage rack which can be easily assembled with a minimum of instructions and general lack of mechanical skill by the consumer.
It is yet another object of the invention to provide the user with storage rack for storage of cooking utensils allowing for easy access of same for use as well as reducing the amount of counter space and cabinet space needed for such storage.
It is a further object of the invention to provide an adjustable storage rack which may be easily and inexpensively fabricated from round wire stock or other suitable materials having strength and durability.
In the accompanying drawings, there is shown illustrative embodiments of the invention from which these and other objectives, novel features and advantages will be readily apparent.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Figure 1 is a perspective view of the adjustable storage rack for pots, pans and lids; Figure 2 is a side elevational view of the storage rack of Figure 1 ; Figure 3 is a front elevational view of the storage rack of Figure 1 ; Figure 4 is a rear elevational view of the storage rack of Figure 1 ; Figure 5 is a top plan view of the storage rack shown in Figure 1; Figure 6 is a bottom plan view of the storage rack shown in Figure 1; and Figure 7 is a perspective view of the wire storage rack using an alternative offset lid holding assembly.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION The cooking container and lid storage rack of the present invention is ideally suited for use in the home as it provides a compact storage rack for containers and their respective lids and covers that allows easy access to the same. The capability to vary the height of the wire support members and the distance between same allows the consumer to customize the rack as needed to hold a varied assortment of containers and lids. The preferred embodiment ofthe storage rack of the present invention is designed to be assembled by the user and is fully adjustable to hold a number of cooking containers and their respective lids of different heights and diameters at an optimum storage angle.
The preferred embodiment and best mode of the adjustable storage rack invention is shown in Figures 1-6 with the preferred offset lid holding assembly shown in Figure 7. The adjustable pot, pan and lid storage rack assembly 10 is constructed with a stand 12 having a substantially rectangular planar base 13 with upturned flanges forming"C"shaped integral sides 16. The sides define a plurality of holes 17 cut through the back portion of the C. The holes 17 are aligned with the holes cut in the base 14 so that the stand 12 and base 14 can be secured together as will be later described. A curved"T"shaped handle 18 with a rectangular base portion 20 is secured in a notched portion or step 15 cut in base 14. The handle 18 has a stem portion 22 which is curved or angled away from the base portion 20 and has curved side walls 24 which terminate in a rectangular knob or head 26. If desired, the handle can be configured as a simple wire loop rotatably mounted to the front of the stand 12.
The base 14 is constructed with a rectangular support member 28 having side flanges or rails 29 which are turned downward to form a configuration which fits within the interior chamber 19 of side walls 30 of stand 12. The side walls 30 are positioned on opposite sides of the base 14 allowing the base rails 29 to be positioned within the chamber 19 formed by the side walls 30. The base 14 is secured to the stand sides 16 by appropriate fasteners such as screws, threaded members, bolts or rivets 117 which are inserted into holes 17 through aligned holes (not shown) in the side walls 30. Two parallel support rails 32 which are substantially tubular in construction, have a semicircular upper surface or a planar upper surface are secured to the top surface 31 of the base rectangular support member 28 by welding or other suitable means such as securing the same to a guide lip on the top of the surface 31. The support rails 32 are adapted to receive and hold clamping assemblies 34 which in turn secure and hold the legs of the wire support members. The support rails 32 as noted have a circular cross section although a rectangular cross section or angular cross sections could be used. As noted, a plurality of spring steel clamp assemblies 34 are mounted on the support rails 32. Clamp assembly 34 is constructed with a small tube section 36 with an open slit bottom leading to an intermediate section 37 which in turn widens to form a larger open sided diameter tube 38 formed of opposing arcuate wall portions 39. The tube section 36 has a diameter which will receive the legs of the wire support members and has bottom open wall ends which lead into integrally formed spaced planar walls 37 forming an intermediate section. The walls 37 in turn at their lower extremities form spaced apart arcuate spaced portions 39 which are outwardly biased away from each other forming a partial tube or sectioned"C"portion of a larger diameter. It is envisioned that any form of support can hold tube 38 on the support rails 32. The spaced arcuate section or tube 38 fits around an exterior surface portion of the support rail 32 allowing the clamp member 34 to be slid along the support rail 32. The intermediate walls 37 define a plurality of aligned throughgoing holes 40 through which a threaded fastener 42 such a nut 44 and bolt 46 are inserted. When the nut 44 is tightened the intermediate walls 37 are forced together against the spring bias of the spring steel causing the arcuate or semicircular portions 39 to abut and engage against the exterior surface of the rail 32 holding the clamp assembly 34 securely against the rail 32 and securing the leg of the wire support member in the tube section 36.
A plurality of"U"shaped wire support members 50 are mounted in the clamps 34 in the rear section of the base 14 with the legs 58 of the wire support members being mounted in the respective tube aperture of tube section 36 of the clamp assembly 34. The wire support members can be constructed with two parallel side posts 52, an upper cross member 54 connecting the upper ends of the side posts 52 and a lower cross support member 56 connecting the lower ends of the side posts 52 above the legs with the legs 58 extending transversely outward from the axis of each side post 52 so that the same can be inserted into the tube section 36 of the clamp assembly 34.
As shown in Figures 1-4, one or more taller height adjustable"U"shaped wire support members 60 is mounted in the middle section of the base 14. The wire support member 60 is constructed with two threaded parallel post assemblies 62 having a threaded portion 63 and a sleeve member 64 with a freely rotatable threaded nut 65 mounted on the threaded portion 63.
An upper cross bar 66 is provided with traverse or downwardly extending feet 68 which are mounted in the distal end of tubular sleeve 64 to stabilize the same. The rotatable nut 65 is threaded over the threaded portion 63 of the side post assembly 62 allowing the sleeve member 64 to be raised or lowered along the threaded portion. The upper cross bar feet 68 can be friction fit in the distal ends of the tubular sleeve 64 or can be threaded at 69 so that an internally threaded sleeve can be screwed along the threaded portion 69 of the upper cross bar foot 68 to raise or lower the upper cross bar 66. A lower support cross bar 70 connects the lower ends of the side post assemblies 62 below the threaded portion 63 where the legs 72 extend transversely outward from the axis of each side post assembly 62 to fit into the clamp assemblies.
A plurality of staggered he ; ght offset wire support members 80,120 and 130 are mounted on the proximal or front section of the base 14 in clamping assemblies 34 as previously noted.
The wire support member 80 as well as wire support members 120 and 130 are constructed with two threaded parallel side post assemblies 82, each of which has a threaded portion 83 and a tubular sleeve assembly 90. A lower cross support member 84 connects the lower ends of the side post assemblies 82 below the threaded portion 83 adjacent to the area where the legs 86 extend transversely outward from the axis of each side post assembly 82. The tubular sleeve assembly 90 comprises a tubular sleeve 92 and freely rotatable nut 94 mounted thereon. Each wire support member offset portion 96, as seen in Figures 1 and 2, is constructed with two parallel arms 98 with downwardly extending feet 99 which are mounted in the top of the tubular sleeve 92. The nut 94 of tubular sleeve 92 is threaded over the threaded portion 83 of the side post assembly 82 allowing the sleeve 92 to be raised or lowered along the threaded portion. The extending feet 99 of the offset position can also be friction fit in the distal ends of the tubular sleeve 92 or can be threaded as shown in Figure 1, so that an internally threaded tubular sleeve 92 can be screwed along the threaded portion to raise or lower the respective offset portion 96.
Each offset portion has a"U"shaped configuration with a cross bar support 102. The cross bar support 102 connects the parallel arms 98 and has two angled offset upright rods 108 mounted to the cross bar 102 a distance inside the parallel axes of the arms 98 and two angled offset upright rods 110 mounted to the support arms 98 outside of the upright rods 108 mounted on cross bar 102. Each of the angled offset upright rods 108,110 is formed with a blunt or rounded end 112 to preclude scratching of the cooking container and lids. In addition, each wire member, excepting the threaded areas, is preferably coated with a rubber, a rubberized material or plastic coating such as PVC to prevent scratching of the cooking utensils and to protect the wires against rust.
Each of the offset wire support members 80,120 and 130 can be provided with another configuration as shown in Figure 7.
The wire storage rack 200 is constructed with two standards or posts 214, having a lower threaded section 216 and a coated unthreaded offset section 218. The threaded section 216 is threaded into a threaded nut 265 which is rotatably mounted on a plastic"C'shaped coated post 264 mounted in clamp assembly 34. The offset section 218 has an upright segment 220 which has the same axis as the lower threaded section 216, an angled segment 222 which is angled at an angle ranging from 3'to 150, preferably 5', from the axis of the threaded section 216 and an upper segment 224 which is parallel to the axis of the threaded section 216. The end 225 of each upper segment 224 is rounded to prevent scratching of the lids and possible injury to the user. Upright segment 220 preferably has a length of one inch, angled segment 222 a length of 3/4 inches and upper segment 224 a length of two inches.
A curved lid holder member 230 is mounted to each of the standards 214 on the offset segment 218 above the threaded section 216. The curved lid holder member 230 has two legs 232, each of which extend transversely outward from the respective standard 214 at upright segment 220. Each leg 232 extends traverse to the standard and has a downward curved seating recess or configuration 234 which leads to an inverted curved"U"shaped member 236. Leg 232 preferably has a straight segment length of one inch heading to the recess 234 which has a diameter of 3/4 inch, totaling 1 3/4 inches. The curved lid holder member 230 has straight legs 238 which are parallel to segments 220 and 224 of the offset section 218. A curved top retainer or crosspiece 240 is curved or bent backwards approximately 1 inch from the axis of legs 238 toward the offset section 218 and past recess 234 to hold a lid 300 as shown in Figure 7 when the lid 300 is placed into the recess seat 234. A containment area for the lid 300 is formed by the offset standard section 218, legs 232 with recesses 234 and curved crosspiece 240. The backwardly curved crosspiece 240 is curved backwards from 20° to 40° from a vertical formed by a plane drawn between legs 238.
As previously noted, each of the angled offset upright standard sections 218 is formed with a blunt or rounded end 225 to preclude scratching of the cooking container and lids. In addition, each wire component, excepting the threaded section 216, is preferably coated with a rubber, a rubberized material or plastic coating such as PVC to prevent scratching ofthe cooking utensils and to protect the wires against rusting.
The principles, preferred embodiments and modes of operation of the present invention have been described in the foregoing specification. However, the invention should not be construed as limited to the particular embodiments which have been described above. Instead, the embodiments described here should be regarded as illustrative rather than restrictive.
Variations and changes may be made by others without departing from the scope of the present inventions defined by the following claims.