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United States Patent 3,888,643
Yoshikawa ,   et al. June 10, 1975

Electric vacuum cleaner and stool

Abstract

An electric vacuum cleaner and stool not only possesses an appearance and performance which enable the apparatus to be used as a stool but also is designed to house all of the attachments needed for a cleaning operation. The apparatus includes an electrically operated fan, cord stowing means and a dust collector. The dust collector is movable into and out of a cleaner body through an opening in one side thereof and has a crank mechanism which is actuated by the cord stowing means to shake off dust from a filter assembly in the dust collector.


Inventors: Yoshikawa; Hiromi (Yokaichi, JA), Sawada; Katsuo (Yokaichi, JA), Asanari; Shigeyuki (Yokaichi, JA), Kajikawa; Saburo (Yokaichi, JA), Kodama; Takao (Yokaichi, JA)
Assignee: Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (Osaka, JA)
Appl. No.: 05/395,436
Filed: September 10, 1973


Foreign Application Priority Data

Sep 12, 1972 [JA] 47-92078

Current U.S. Class: 15/323 ; 15/327.2; 15/352; 55/304; 55/385.1; 55/472; 55/481; 96/417
Current International Class: A47C 13/00 (20060101); A47L 5/36 (20060101); A47L 5/22 (20060101); A47L 9/26 (20060101); B01d 046/04 ()
Field of Search: 55/274,276,300,304,385,305,467,470-473,481 15/327E,352

References Cited

U.S. Patent Documents
3328826 July 1967 Amos
3454978 July 1969 Kuwahara
3570222 March 1971 Dudek et al.
3591888 July 1971 Chujitakeda et al.
3599273 August 1971 Konoma Shirayanagi
Primary Examiner: Nozick; Bernard
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Stevens, Davis, Miller and Mosher

Claims



What we claim is:

1. An electric vacuum cleaner and stool including a cleaner body comprising a generally box-like enclosure having a top wall, a bottom wall and side walls; an electrically operated fan and means stowing an electric cord both disposed within said enclosure adjacent one of said side walls and arranged in juxtaposed relationship; means stowing a flexible hose on said top of said enclosure; a first opening in a second side wall of said enclosure opposite said one side wall; a dust collector means including a generally box-shaped casing slidably movable through said first opening into and out of the interior of said enclosure, a handle on an outer wall of said dust collector casing, a second opening in the top of said dust collector casing, a third opening in a second wall of said dust collector casing opposite the wall on which said handle is provided; a filter assembly detachably mounted on said dust collector casing adjacent said third opening and being movable with said casing; means for sealingly coupling said filter assembly with said electrically operated fan when said dust collector casing is fully moved into said enclosure; an air inlet formed in said top of said enclosure and positioned such that said air inlet is in registry with said second opening in said top of said dust collector casing when the same is fully moved into said enclosure, said air inlet being adapted to be connected with a coupling head of said flexible hose for the passage of dust-containing air into said dust collector casing; an air outlet formed in said top wall of said enclosure adjacent said electrically operated fan; means rotatably mounted on said filter assembly for removing dust therefrom and including means being adapted to be drivingly connected to means on said cord stowing means when said dust collector casing is fully moved into said enclosure; and cover means designed to be detachably fitted over at least said top wall of said enclosure to cover said hose stowing means, said cover means having its top designed to provide a seat.

2. An electric vacuum cleaner and stool as defined in claim 1 further including a partition disposed substantially centrally within said enclosure and extending substantially at right angles with respect to said top of said enclosure to divide the interior thereof into two compartments in one of which said electrically operated fan and said cord stowing means are disposed, said dust collecting means being disposed in the other of said compartments, an air passage formed in said partition in opposite relationship to said electrically operated fan, said fan being covered with a casing having an upstream end in abutment contact with said partition around said air passage therein and being connected to said air outlet, said dust collector casing being adapted to be moved into sealing engagement with said partition when said dust collector means is fully moved into said enclosure.

3. An electric vacuum cleaner and stool as defined by claim 1 wherein said electrically operated fan and said cord stowing means have axes of rotation extending in parallel relationship with each other and with the bottom of the enclosure of said cleaner body, and wherein the casing of said dust collector means is movable in a direction parallel to said axes of rotation.

4. A vacuum cleaner and stool according to claim 1, in which said cover means has means on the inner surface thereof for detachably holding attachments of said cleaner apparatus.

5. A vacuum cleaner and stool according to claim 4, in which said cleaner body and said cover means when assembled present a generally rectangular configuration having a common axis which extends substantially vertically when the apparatus is in operation, said cover means having means on the inner surface thereof for holding an axially expansible extension pipe so that the same extends along a diagonal line.

6. An electric vacuum cleaner and stool as defined in claim 1 in which said top of said enclosure is provided with a continuous peripheral wall upstanding from said top of said enclosure for providing a guide for said cover means.

7. An electric vacuum cleaner and stool as defined in claim 6 in which said cord stowing means includes a reel, said dust removing means comprises a crank mechanism adapted to be driven by said cord stowing means to shake-off dust from said filter assembly, said cord stowing means includes a first clutch member rotatably supported by said partition, and said crank mechanism includes a second clutch member adapted to be moved into and out of driving engagement with said first clutch member when said dust collector casing is moved fully into or out of said enclosure.

8. A vacuum cleaner and stool according to claim 7, in which said top of said enclosure has a handle by means of which said cleaner body can be carried by an operator and in which said enclosure has carrier wheels mounted on the bottom of said enclosure.

9. A vacuum cleaner and stool according to claim 7, in which said top of said enclosure has an upstanding annular wall disposed substantially centrally of said top plate, and in which said cleaner and stool further includes a lid member covering the top of said annular wall, said lid member cooperating with said annular wall to define a space in which an electric control unit, means for indicating the amount of dust sucked into said dust collector apparatus and other parts of said cleaner are disposed, a first set of electric terminals electrically connected to said electric control unit and mounted on said annular wall adjacent said air inlet in said top, a second set of electric terminals mounted on said coupling head of said flexible hose, said hose having switch means mounted thereon at the free end of said hose and electrically connected to said second set of terminals for thereby facilitating remote controlling of said apparatus.

10. A vacuum cleaner and stool according to claim 7, in which said top of said enclosure is formed therein with a hole for allowing the free end of said hose to extend therethrough when the hose is stowed, said top being further formed therein with a recess for accomodating a portion of said hose adjacent said free end.
Description



BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an electric vacuum cleaner apparatus which can be used not only as a cleaner but also as a stool.

2. Description of Prior Art

There has been known an electric vacuum cleaner having a seat provided thereon. However, the known cleaner has been designed chiefly, for cleaning purposes and does not have the appearance and function to make it suitable for use as furniture. There has been known only a few electric vacuum cleaners which are designed to stow all the attachments for the cleaners such as an extension tube, flexible hose and the like within the cleaner housings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide an electric vacuum cleaner and stool which possesses all of the functions required for a cleaning operation and which provides an appearance and function entirely suited for use as a stool.

It is another object of the present invention to provide an electric vacuum cleaner apparatus which is designed to house within itself all of the attachments needed for the cleaning operation and which has so compact a design that a user can easily obtain space for storage of the apparatus.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide an electric vacuum cleaner apparatus which includes a dust collector movable into and out of the cleaner body in a substantially horizontal direction and which is designed to enable the user to easily remove dust from the dust collector.

It is a still further object of the present invention to provide an electric vacuum cleaner apparatus in which a relatively small space is required for the electric wiring and power transmission improving the utilization of space and providing reliable operation.

It is a still further object of the present invention to provide an electric vacuum cleaner apparatus which is so designed as to allow machine parts to be easily assembled and which can be manufactured at low cost.

According to the present invention, there is provided an electric vacuum cleaner apparatus including a cleaner body housing an electrically operated fan and having thereon means for stowing flexible hose when the apparatus is not being used for cleaning, a dust collector means normally within said cleaner body and movable relative to said cleaner body in a substantially horizontal direction through an opening in a side wall portion of said cleaner body, and cover means designed to be detachably fitted to an upper portion of said cleaner body to enclose said hose stowing means, said cover means having a top portion which provides a seat.

The above and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be made apparent by the following description with reference to the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial sectional side view of an embodiment of the vacuum cleaner apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view of a part of the cleaner shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a cleaner body of the apparatus;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a cover of the apparatus;

FIG. 5 is a bottom plan view of the cover;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the cleaner body with a flexible suction hose being stowed thereon;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the cleaner body with a lid of a control section being removed to show inner construction thereof;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of the cleaner body with a top plate thereof removed;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the cleaner body with parts thereof being in different positions; and

FIG. 10 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional side view of the top plate showing a stowing hole therein.

DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

In the drawings, reference numeral 1 generally designates a cleaner body housing an electrically operated fan 2, a cord stowing means 3, a dust collector 4 and other parts. Numeral 5 indicates a cleaner cover detachably mounted on the body 1 to cover a top thereof. The cover 5 is of a box-like shape having an open bottom and provided with a cushion 6 and its top. The apparatus is designed such that, when the cleaner body 1 is covered with the cover 5, the apparatus can be used as a stool. The cover 5 per se, when being removed from the cleaner body 1, can also be used as a stool or a foot stool as shown in FIG. 4. The inner surface of the cover 5 has means thereon for detachably holding or supporting cleaner parts or attachments such as an extension pipe 7, a suction port element 8, etc., (see FIG. 5) so that the attachments may be detached for use. The extension pipe 7 is adapted to be held on the inner surface of the cover 5 so that the pipe extends along a diagonal line.

The cleaner body 1 is formed on an open-topped box-like enclosure 9 and a top plate 11 closing the open top of the enclosure. The top plate 11 has an upwardly projecting peripheral wall 10 which defines a recess in the upper surface of the top plate, as best shown in FIG. 10. The peripheral wall 10 constitutes means for holding cleaner attachments such as a flexible hose 12 against movement out of the upper surface of the top plate. The wall 10 has an outer peripheral surface which can act as means for guiding the cover 5 when the latter is placed in position on the cleaner body 1.

A partition 13 is disposed centrally of the interior of the enclosure 9 to divide the interior into two compartments one of which is to accomodate the dust collector and the other of which houses the electric fan and cord stowing means, as will be seen in FIGS. 8 and 9. The partition 13 is detachably mounted by means of ribs 9' provided on the inner wall of the enclosure 9.

The dust collector 4 has a substantially rectangular configuration and is horizontally slidable with respect to the enclosure 9 as is a drawer. The dust collector 4 has handle 14 by means of which the collector can be moved in and out of the enclosure 9. An opening 15 is formed in the upper surface of the dust collector 4. When the latter is pushed into the enclosure 9, the opening 15 is aligned with a coupling or dust suction opening 16 formed in the top plate 11. The flexible hose 12 has a coupling head 12' which is inserted through the openings 16 and 15 into the dust collector when the apparatus is in position ready for the cleaning operation.

In the dust collector 4 is detachably mounted a filter assembly comprising a pre-filter 17 catching and collecting coarse dust, a main filter 18 for fine dust and a crank mechanism 19 adapted to vibrate the main filter to shake off dust particles from the main filter. The filter assembly can be fitted into and removed from the dust collector 4 through an opening in the end thereof opposite to the handle 14. Air-containing dust is caused to flow into the dust collector through the dust inlet opening 15 and through the filter assembly whereby the dust is removed. The cleaned air is discharged out of the dust collector through the opening through which the filter assembly can be fitted into and removed from the dust collector.

As best shown in FIG. 9, the electrically operated fan 2 is positioned within the enclosure 9 on the side opposite to the dust collector 4 with respect to the partition 13. The latter is formed therein with air-passage apertures in the form of slots 21 through which cleaned air from the filter assembly is caused to flow by the fan 2. The latter is covered with a casing 22 of a plastic material. The casing is sized and shaped such that the casing has a first opening in its upstream or suction end which is in abutment contact with the partition 13 and a second opening or air-passage port 23 formed at the downstream or discharge end of the casing 22, the air-passage port 23 being connected to air-discharge apertures in the form of slots 24 formed in the top plate 11 of the cleaner body 1 as best seen in FIG. 7. The fan casing 22 not only functions to silence the noise produced by the operation of the fan 2 but also sealingly encloses the path of flow of the air between the slots 21 in the partition 13 and the air-discharge slots 24 in the top plate 11 of the cleaner body 1 with resultant advantages that the path of air flow is free from air-leakage gaps which otherwise need packing materials and that there is no fear that the air should flow into other sections in the cleaner body to cause deposition of dust on those sections and consequent reduction in their performance.

The cord stowing means 3 is disposed in the cleaner body 1 in juxtaposed relationship to the fan 2 which extends between the partition 13 and the inner surface of the rear wall portion of the enclosure 9, as best seen in FIG. 8. The cord stowing means 3 includes a cord reel 26 for winding up a length of cord 25 (FIG. 9), a reel shaft 27 rotatably supporting the reel 26 and a helical spring (not shown) providing a force to drive the reel 26 in one direction. The cord reel 26 has an integral gear 29 formed on the end thereof adjacent the partition 13. A gear 28 is in meshing engagement with a pinion 30 which is rotatably journaled by the partition 13. As best seen in FIG. 2, the pinion 30 is connected to a clutch pawl wheel 31 which is disposed on the side of the partition 13 opposite to the pinion 30. The clutch pawl wheel 31 is so designed as to mesh with a second pawl wheel 32 which is operatively connected to the crank 19 rotatably supported by the filter assembly 20 described above. The arrangement is such that the meshing engagement of the pawl wheel 31 with the second pawl wheel 32 takes place when the dust collector 4 is fitted into the cleaner body until the collector is reached by the partition 13. The crank 19 and the pawl wheel 32 are rotatably supported by a support plate 33 around which is disposed a packing 34 of rubber which holds the pre-filter 17 and the main filter 18 and provides a seal between a casing 4' of the dust collector 4 and the partition 13.

The top plate 11 closing the open top of the enclosure 9 is formed with an upstanding annular wall 35 disposed substantially centrally of the top plate. The annular wall 35 cooperates with a lid member 39 to define a space in which an electric control unit 36, an indicator means 37 for indicating the amount of sucked dust and a button 38 for actuating a brake for the cord 26 are received, as will be seen in FIG. 7. Pivotally mounted on the lid member 39 is a handle 40 by means of which the cleaner body may be carried by an operator. A cut-out 35' is formed in the annular wall 35 in a portion adjacent the dust suction opening 16 in the top plate 11, as best shown in FIG. 7. Electric terminals 41 connected to the electric control unit 36 are mounted in the cut-out 35' and are faced outwardly so as to be connected with conductors for remote control means for the apparatus, as will be discussed in detail hereunder.

A coupling head 12' of the flexible hose 12 is detachably fitted into the opening 16 in the top plate 11. The head 12' carries electric terminals 42 adapted to be electrically connected to the terminal 41 in the cut-out 35'. The terminals 42 are electrically connected by means of conductors extending through the wall of the hose 12 to a manually operable switch 12a on the free end of the hose 12 so that the apparatus is remote-controlled by means of the switch 12a.

The coupling head 12' is rotatably received in the opening 16 in the top plate 11 and is adapted to be positioned as shown in FIG. 3 during operation. When the cleaner apparatus is not in use, the coupling head 12' of the hose 12 is rotated about 90.degree. from the position shown in FIG. 3 to a position shown in FIG. 6 and the hose is stowed on the top plate 11 in helically wound form extending around the annular wall 35. As shown in FIGS. 7 and 10, a hole 43 is formed in the top plate 11 adjacent a corner thereof to allow the free end of the flexible hose 12 to be inserted therethrough when the hose is stowed. A groove 43' extends from the hole 43 to facilitate the stowage. Carrier wheels 44 and 45 are mounted on the bottom face of the cleaner body to facilitate movement of the cleaner apparatus on a floor.

The above described and illustrated cleaner apparatus provides the following advantages:

I. In the case where the apparatus is used as an electric vacuum cleaner, the cover may be removed from the cleaner body which is of a size similar to that of a regular cleaner. Then the attachments such as the extension pipe, suction port element and other accessory parts may be removed from the cover and attached to the flexible hose whose coupling head is connected to the top plate of the cleaner body. In case the apparatus is used as a stool, all the attachments may be stowed or housed within the cleaner body and the cover so that the entire structure has a shape remote from that of prior art vacuum cleaners and presents an appearance of a stool.

II. Since all of the attachments of the cleaner apparatus are housed in the body and cover, there is no need for an extra space for storing such attachment. In addition, it is not required to prepare a space in a closet or the like for storing the cleaner apparatus: it may be conveniently placed at a side of a wardrobe or the like or may be merely left in a room. Particularly, as the entire structure is shaped into a substantially column-like configuration, the apparatus may be placed at a narrow corner for furniture or the like. Further, as the cover is substantially square in shape, the extension pipe, which has the longest length of any of the attachment parts, can be held within the cover in a diagonal direction. There is thus provided a very convenient electric vacuum cleaner apparatus in which all of the attachment parts can be housed expediently.

III. Since the dust collector is slidable horizontally into or out of the cleaner body, the collector unit can be drawn out by merely grasping and pulling the handle thereon and hence an operator is not required to remove the dust collector unit after having removed the cover. Further, the side of the collector opposite to the handle is provided with an air passage. This enable the operator to simply hold the handle of the dust collector to permit accumulated dust to fall by gravity.

IV. The operator is not required to disconnect the flexible hose from the cleaner for the purpose of stowing the hose upon completion of each cleaning operation. Instead, the flexible hose may be simply placed on the top plate in helically wound form while the coupling head of the hose is kept connected to the suction opening in the top plate. Thus, the handling of the apparatus during and after use is greatly simplified.

V. In general, an open-topped box-like structure of a plastic material or the like tends to have side walls deformable inwardly. The apparatus of the present invention, however, is provided with a partition extending between two side walls to prevent inward deformation thereof. Another side of the cleaner body of the invention adjacent the two side walls is opened to accommodate the dust collector unit while the other side wall is backed up by the electrically operated fan and cord stowing means extending between the other side wall and the partition. Moreover, as the fan and cord stowing means are simply held by the partition and the inner surface of the box-like enclosure, no additional fastening means or parts are required to hold the fan and cord stowing means in position with a resultant advantage that parts of the apparatus can be assembled in extremely simplified manner and that the entire construction can have a quite simple design which requires a minimum number of parts.

VI. The electrically operated fan and the cord stowing means are arranged in juxtaposed relation and the dust collector is positioned close to the middle point between them. This feature remarkably enhances the function of the cleaner apparatus. Specifically, the feature referred to allows the air in the apparatus to flow along a generally linear path (although slightly curved) through the air passage opening in the partition so that the air intake efficiency of the fan can be improved to an almost ideal level. Also, the dust collector and the cord stowing means are positioned in closely spaced relationship to each other. This simplifies the arrangement of the means for transmitting the rotation of the cord stowing means to the crank of the filter assembly which is detachably fitted in the dust collector. Namely, the speed of the cord reel of the cord stowing means is reduced by a single pinion which may be directly engaged with the crank. Thus, the present invention can realize a drastic simplification of the apparatus.

VII. Since the dust collector is slidable in a direction substantially perpendicular to the partition wall, very secure engagement can be obtained between the pawl wheel on the dust collector and the pawl wheel on the partition. The meshing engagement between these pawl wheels can be accomplished by merely pushing the dust collector into the enclosure of the cleaner body. No problem arises even if both pawl wheels protrude.

VIII. The dust collector, fan and cord stowing means are arranged relative to each other such that the centroid of the entire apparatus is positioned in the rear portion of the apparatus with respect to the direction of movement of the cleaner body on the floor, and as regards the transverse direction, the dust collector is positioned centrally while the fan and cord stowing means, both being substantially equal in weight, are disposed on the right and left hand sides of the apparatus. Therefore, the centroid of the apparatus is positioned on the center line of the apparatus to ensure a good mobility of the cleaner apparatus.

IX. With respect to the electric wiring, the electric terminals on the annular wall of the top plate can be coupled directly to the electric terminals on the flexible hose to assure remote control of the apparatus. The electrical connection can be accomplished with only one operation unlike prior art cleaners wherein a dust collector is electrically connected first to a flexible hose and then to a cleaner body. In addition, as the electric control unit of the cleaner according to the present invention is disposed inwardly of the annular wall, no extra wiring is required for the electric terminals for the remote control and the terminals are directly electrically connected to the electric control unit. Further, the flexible hose per se, after use, can be simply wound around the annular wall of the top plate and can be snugly housed in the space between the annular wall and the peripheral wall of the top plate while the coupling head of the hose is kept fitted in the dust suction opening in the top plate. This permits a marvelous improvement in the operating performance and simplification of design of the apparatus.

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