|1.||A pushchair having a frame comprising two side frames, each side frame comprising: a front leg (12) provided at one end with a wheel, a rear leg (14) provided at one end with a wheel, means (32) for pivotally connecting the front and the rear legs together, means (24, 26) capable of sliding along one of the said legs and being connected to the other leg in such a manner that when the sliding means (24, 26) is caused to slide along the said one leg in a first direction the connection between the sliding means and the said other leg causes the f ont legs (12) and the rear legs (14) to pivot about the pivot means (32) towards each other to collapse the pushchair.|
|2.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 1, wherein the said means (24, 26) capable of sliding along one of the said legs comprises a first member (24) capable of sliding along the front leg (12) and a second member (26) capable of sliding along the rear leg (14), the first and second members (24, 26) being linked together.|
|3.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 2, wherein the first and second sliding members (24, 26) are so linked together that a substantially fixed distance is maintained therebetween as the first and the second members are caused to slide along their respective legs.|
|4.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 2, which includes a child support (10) comprising a rigid shell (11) and wherein the first and second sliding members (24, 26) are each secured to the rigid shell and are linked together by the said shell.|
|5.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 2, which includes a link (40) connecting together the first and the second sliding members (24, 26).|
|6.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 5, wherein the first and the second sliding members (24, 26) are integrally formed in a single piece (40).|
|7.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 1 which includes a handle (18) for propelling the pushchair.|
|8.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 7, wherein the handle (18) is pivotably connected to the rest of the pushchair to move between a foldedout position and a collapsed position.|
|9.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 8, wherein the handle (18) is pivotable to move forwardly from the foldedout position to the collapsed position.|
|10.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 9, wherein the handle (18) and at least one of the first sliding members (24) are connected whereby when the handle is moved from the foldedout position to the collapsed position, the first sliding member (24) of each side frame is caused to slide along the respective front legs in the said first direction.|
|11.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 2, which includes a child support means (10) supported on the first sliding member (24) of each side frame to move therewith.|
|12.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 11, wherein the child support means (10) is supported additionally on the second sliding member (26) of each side frame.|
|13.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 11, wherein the child support means (10) is supported on the said first sliding member (24) of each side frame by means of a mechanism (28) allowing the child support means to be tilted at any one of a number of different angles.|
|14.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 1, which includes anchorage points for engaging vehicle seatbelts whereby the pushchair in a collapsed state can be restrained on a vehicle seat by the said seatbelt.|
|15.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 1, which includes child support means (10) supported on the sliding means (24, 26) of each side frame.|
|16.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 1, wherein in each side frame, the sliding means (24, 26) is connected to the said other leg by means of a link.|
|17.||A pushchair as claimed in claim 1, which includes a child support (10) comprising a rigid shell (11) and wherein the sliding means (24, 26) is connected to the said other leg by means of the said shell.|
The present invention relates to a folding pushchair having a folding mechanism that is simple and easy to use and allows the pushchair to be manufactured inexpensively and which allows the pushchair to be relatively light and easily transported.
As used herein the term "pushchair" includes carriers for children in which the child is in a lying position rather than a sitting position; thus, the present invention contemplates within its scope a pram having a fixed or removable cot.
There have been many proposals for mechanisms for folding up pushchairs; many of them rely on complex series of linkages that add to the cost of the manufacture and to the complexity of operation and also to the weight of the resulting pushchair.
There have also been proposals to make a pushchair that is collapsible to form a protective safety seat for use in cars and other vehicles. Among such prior proposals there may be mentioned: U.S. 4,685,688; EP 0,257,141; GB 2,163,102; EP 0,239,367; GB 2,204,282; GB 2,081,654; GB 2,208,109; EP 0,080,962 and EP 0,302,607. However, none of these prior proposals has the simplicity of the present invention.
DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION
According to the present invention, there is provided a pushchair comprising a frame comprising two side frames, each side frame comprising: a front leg provided at one end with a wheel, a rear leg provided at one end with a wheel, means for pivotally connecting the front and the rear legs together, means capable of sliding along one of the said legs and being connected to the other leg in such a manner that when the sliding means is caused to slide along the said one leg in a
first direction the connection between the sliding means and the said other leg causes the front legs and the rear legs to pivot about the pivot means towards each other to collapse the pushchair. The sliding means may include first and second sliding members capable of sliding along the front and rear legs (respectively), and being connected together, preferably in such a manner that a fixed distance is maintained therebetween when the members slide down their respective legs. Preferably, the pushchair includes one or more handles for propelling the pushchair, which handles are preferably collapsible, e.g. by pivoting them forwardly or backwardly with respect to the rest of the pushchair.
The first and second sliding members may be rigidly connected together by a child support means, which then forms the connection between the two sliding members. Al ernatively, the two sliding members may be connected by a connecting piece and, in the preferred embodiment, the two sliding members are integrally formed as a single piece. The child support means is preferably supported by the sliding member(s) of each side frame so that it moves with the sliding member(s) when the latter are caused to move along pushchair legs to collapse the pushchair or to fold it out.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
There will now be described, by way of example only, two embodiments of a pushchair in accordance with the present invention with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Figure I is a side view of a pushchair in accordance with the present invention in a folded-out state;
Figure 2 is a front elevation of the pushchair shown in Figure 1;
Figure 3 is a side view of the pushchair of Figures 1 and 2 in a partly-folded state; Figure 4 is a side elevation of the pushchair of Figures 1 to 3 in a fully-collapsed state; and
Figure 5 is a detail of the rear sliding member of the embodiment of Figures 1 to 4,
Figure 6 is a sectional view of the locking mechanism taken along the line 6-6 in Figure 1, Figure 7 is a side elevation of a second embodiment according to the present invention in a folded-out state,
Figure 8 is a side elevation of the pushchair of Figure 7 in a partially collapsed state, and
Figure 9 is a side elevaton of the pushchair of Figure 7 in a fully collapsed state.
BEST MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
Referring initially to Figures 1 to 4, there is shown a pushchair which includes a seat 10 having a rigid outer shell 11 supported by a frame that includes two identically constructed side frames located on either side of the seat 10; each side frame includes a front leg 12 and a rear leg 14 each of which is provided at its lower extremity with a wheel 16; the front wheels may be formed as castors that can swivel with respect to the front legs about a vertical axis. The front legs 12 of the two side frames are connected together by a cross-piece 20 (see Fig. 2) and the rear legs 14 are connected by a similar cross-piece (not visible); the wheels 16 may be held by bearings 22 formed at the end of the cross-piece 20 (and the corresponding cross- piece connecting the rear legs 14). A U-shaped handle 18 is provided for propelling the pushchair.
The rigid shell 11 of the seat 10 is supported at each side by members 24 that can slide on the respective front legs 12 and by further members 26 that can slide on the respective rear legs 14. The shell 11 is connected to the front sliding member 24 at each side of the the seat by a tilting mechanism 28 that is shown in greater detail in Figure 6 and is described below. If it is not desired that the seat 10 should be able to tilt, the seat can be rigidly secured to the front sliding member 24. The top end of the front leg 12 is embedded in a plastic connecting member 30 and rigidly held thereby; the rear leg 14
is secured to the connecting member 30 by a joint 32 that allows the rear leg 14 to pivot about a horizontal axis. The handle 18 is also secured to the connecting piece 30 by means of a joint 34 that allows the handle 18 to pivot forwardly about joint 34 when a latch 36 holding it in place is released.
The tilting mechanism 28 includes a lock that locks the sliding member 24 at the top of the front leg 12 and prevents unwanted collapse of the pushchair; it releasably engages the front leg 12 as described below. The pushchair may be collapsed by releasing the lock of mechanism 28 to allow the front sliding members 24 to slide down the respective front legs 12. Since the seat is supported by the front sliding members, the seat also moves down the front legs 12 with the sliding members 24. The shell 11 of the seat is rigid, and so the movement of the members 24 and the seat 10 down the front legs 12 causes the rear sliding members 26 to slide down the rear legs 14 which in turn causes the rear legs 14 to pivot about joints 32 towards the front legs 12; the pushchair is shown in Figure 3 in a partially collapsed state. The sliding members 24 and 26 may be moved to the bottom of their respective legs 12, 14 as shown in Figure 4 and the pushchair may be locked in position in this state by locks or latches (not shown). Latch 36 holding the handle 18 may then be released and the handle 18 pivoted forward about joint 34 to the position shown in Figure 4. Again, the handle may be retained in the position shown in Figure 4 by latches (not shown).
As mentioned above, the seat 10 moves with the sliding members as the pushchair is collapsed so that, in the collapsed state, the seat is located just above the wheels 16 and in the configuration shown in Figure 4, the collapsed pushchair forms a seat that can be used as a child-protective seat in a car or other vehicle; it can be retained in the car by means of a normal seat belt using standard anchorages located on the seat 10 and/or on the legs 12, 14. Front sliding members 24 slide along the respective front legs 12 without any play between the members 24 and the legs 12
(except in the sliding direction); however, there is some play between the rear sliding members 26 and the respective rear legs 14 since the rear legs 14 would not be able to pivot about joint 32 if there were no play between the rear sliding members 26 and the rear legs 14 and if the rear sliding member 26 were rigidly secured to the shell 11 of seat 10. The play between the rear sliding member 26 and the rear leg 14 is shown schematically in Figure 5 where the unbroken lines show the position of a rear leg 14 when the pushchair is fully folded out whereas 14a shows the position of the leg 14 with respect to rear sliding member 26 when the pushchair is fully folded up. Instead of providing play in member 26, it is possible to allow member 26 to pivot about the seat 10 to accommodate the different positions of the leg 14 shown in Figure 5. With the arrangement shown in Figures 1 to 4, when the lock of mechanism 28 is released to allow the front sliding members 24 to slide down the front legs 12, the pushchair does not instantly collapse into its position shown in Figure 4 which would be highly disadvantageous if a child were still in the seat 10 but rather the centre of gravity of the baby in the seat 10 tends to act to keep the legs 12, 14 apart and it is only when the rear legs 14 have been moved slightly inwardly that the seat 10 can move down the front legs 24 under the influence of gravity. The pushchair can be unfolded from the position shown in
Figure 4 to that shown in Figure 1 by releasing the latches (if any) maintaining it in the position shown in Figure 4 and pulling up on the seat 10. Because the shell of seat 10 is rigid (at least between sliding members 24 and 26) the upward movement of the seat ensures that the rear legs 14 are folded out as the seat is moved up the front legs 12. When the position shown in Figure 1 is reached, the lock 28 automatically engages and prevents the pushchair from collapsing once more.
Likewise, when the handle 18 is folded back from the position shown in Figure 4 to the position shown in Figure 1, the latch 36 automatically engages the handle 18 on reaching the
position shown in Figure 1.
A handle 42 may be provided on the top of the seat to assist in unfolding the pushchair; further handles, for example elasticated fabric handles 43 may be connected along the sides of the seat (as shown in Figure 2) for carrying the pushchair in its folded-up state.
The vehicle seat belt anchorages on the folded-up chair may be provided to allow the seat either to face forwardly in the vehicle or to face rearwardly for use for as a baby seat. The seat 10 may be provided with standard straps for restraining a child in the seat 10; these straps have been omitted from the accompanying drawings for ease of illustration.
One example of a lock/tilt mechanism 28 is shown in Figure 6, which is a section through the front sliding member 24 taken along line 6-6 of Figure 1.
The sliding member 24 on each side of the pushchair is a one piece moulding and includes bore 50 forming a sleeve around the front leg on that side of the pushchair. A slit 48 extends between the bore 50 and the outside of the sliding member and the- front leg 12 fits snugly in the bore 50. The sliding member 24 includes an array of teeth 52 annularly arranged around a further bore 54 that passes all the way through the moulding. A corresponding array of teeth 53 is provided on the seat shell 11 and a bolt 55 passes through bore 54 and has a screw thread 56 that engages with a female screwthread 57 in the seat shell 11 (in Figure 6, the bolt is shown disengaged from the seat shell). When the bolt is fully screwed into the thread 57 in the seat, the sliding member 24 is clamped between the seat 10 and the bolt head 58, thereby closing slit 48 and clamping the sliding member 24 onto the front leg 12 and preventing it from sliding thereon. Simultaneously, the clamping action meshes teeth 52 and 53 thereby preventing the seat 10 from being tilted. When the bolt 55 is partly unscrewed, the resilience of the sliding member opens slit 48, thereby allowing the sliding member to slide along the front leg 12; however in this position the teeth 52 and 53 are still intermeshed thereby preventing the seat from tilting
while the front member 24 is caused to slide along the front leg 12. If the bolt 55 is unscrewed further, the sets of teeth 52, 53 are moved apart so that they are no longer meshed, thereby allowing the seat 10 to be tilted. If it is desired to tilt the seat and not at the same time collapse the pushchair, this can be done by unscrewing bolt 55 to unmesh the teeth 52, 53. Although the slit 48 is opened up by the unscrewing of the bolt 55, the pushchair will not collapse since, as indicated above, the rear legs 14 will have to be moved inwardly slightly to initiate collapse and if this is not done, the pushchair will remain in its opened-out state. Additional latches may be provided that must be released prior to collapsing the pushchair to further ensure against accidental collapse by unscrewing the bolt 55. Alternative locking mechanisms and alternative tilting mechanisms may be employed.
Because the outer shell 11 of the seat 10 is rigid, the sliding members 24 and 26 are rigidly linked together by the seat 10; it is, however, not necessary to provide a rigid seat 10 but where a rigid seat is not provided, the sliding members 24, 26 must be linked together by some other means, for example by forming members 24 and 26 as a one-piece moulding 40 as in the second embodiment shown in Fig. 7; even when the seat 10 is rigid, the single-piece moulding 40 may be provided instead of the arrangement shown in Figures 1 to 4. Thus, for example, the seat could be made of fabric supported on two bars (one on each side of the pushchair) that are held by the tilting mechanism 28 described above. The bars may be supported solely by such a mechanism but they may additionally be supported at the rear of moulding 40. In all other respects, the embodiment shown in Figure 7 is the same as that described in connection with Figures 1 to 4 and the same reference numerals have been used in Figure 7 as in Figures 1 to 4. Figures 8 and 9 show the pushchair of Figure 7 in a partly collapsesand a fully collapsed condition respetively. The legs 12 and 14, the handle 18 and the cross-members 20 may be made of light-alloy metal, for example Reynolds 531 alloy
steel tubing; the connecting member 30 and the sliding members 24, 26 and 40 may be made of injection-moulded plastic material and consequently the pushchair of the present invention can be made extremely light but yet extremely strong. The mechanism of the present invention provides a lightweight construction that can be easily manufactured and quickly and easily collapsed and folded out and provides the dual uses of a pushchair and a car seat. Furthermore, it will be noticed that it is not necessary to take a child out from the seat 10 while the pushchair is being collapsed or folded out and accordingly there is no need to disturb a sleeping child when getting him/her into or out of a car.
In the two embodiments shown, the pushchair folds but the width of the pushchair remains constant as a result of the provision of rigid cross-pieces 20; however, it is possible to provide a pushchair in accordance with the present invention that collapses widthways by omitting the cross-pieces 20 and the cross-piece 44 of the handle 18 and instead providing an "X" scissor frame between the top and the bottom of the the rear legs; alternatively an "X" scissor frame may be provided between, on the one hand, the handles 18 and, on the other hand, the bottom of the rear legs 14; in this latter case, the handle 18 will not fold. The seat 10 would not in this case be rigid and would, typically, be made of fabric material suspended on side bars as mentioned above.
In order to prevent the wheels from dirtying the inside of the car, a cover may be provided for them and a tray may be provided into which the wheels 16 fit when the pushchair has been folded up to the position shown in Figure 4. As shown in Figure 8, a bar 46 may be provided at each side of the pushchair that is pivotally connected at its respective ends to the handle 18 and to the sliding member 24 or 40. In this way, the pushchair can be collapsed by releasing latch 36 and lock 28 and pushing the handle 18 forwardly whereby the bar 46 pushes the sliding member 24 or 40 down the front leg 12 in the manner shown in Figures 8 and 9.