US 3837019 A
A modular cradle-like structure in which a frame, detachably built up from tubular members and socketed couplings, and having bowed triangular ends joined in spaced parallel alignment by spacers connecting aligned sides of said triangles at approximately their mid-points, provides suspending means for a unitary body support, said body support being formed of flexible sheet material having generally traingular end pockets for engagement with upwardly oriented apexes of said triangular ends, and means along opposed edges intermediate said pockets for detachably securing the same to the two upwardly oriented spacers.
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United States Patent [191 Hoff [ Sept. 24, 1974 MODULAR CRADLE-LIKE STRUCTURE  Inventor: Jeffrey Alan Hoff, 234 W. 10th St.,
New York, NY. 10014 22 Filed: Mar. 12, 1973 21 App1.No.:340,477
 U.S. C1. 5/93 R, 5/105, 5/98 R, 5/114, 5/120, 5/l27, 297/441  Int. Cl. A47c 27/08, A47d 9/00, A47d 7/00  Field of Search 5/93 R, 93 B, 99 R, 101, 5/105, 113, I14, 116, 120, 121, 126, 127,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 813,521 2/1906 Reilly 5/93 R 871,692 11/1907 Gray 5/101 1,155,475 10/1915 Fay 5/119 3,426,367 2/1969 Bradford 5/114 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 771,450 4/1957 Great Britain 5/114 Primary Examiner-Casmir A. Nunberg Attorney, Agent, or FirmHoward E. Thompson, Jr.
[5 7] ABSTRACT A modular cradle-like structure in which a frame, detachably built up from tubular members and socketed couplings, and having bowed triangular ends joined in spaced parallel alignment by spacers connecting aligned sides of said triangles at approximately their mid-points, provides suspending means for a unitary body support, said body support being formed of flexible sheet material having generally traingular end pockets for engagement with upwardly oriented apexes of said triangular ends, and means along opposed edges intermediate said pockets for detachably securing the same to the two upwardly oriented spacers.
Whether produced as a small, infant cradle device, or a large adult camping or emergency sleeping unit the modular construction of the frame.and flexible body support permits stowing of the disassembled parts in a minimum of space.
11 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures MODULAR CRADLE-LIKE STRUCTURE This invention relates to a modular cradle-like structure which is quickly and easily assembled and disassembled, and which provides when assembled a safe and confortable cradle-like structure, while in the disassembled form being extremely compact and easily stored and transported from place to place.
Regarded in certain of its broader aspects, the modular cradle-like structure of the present invention comprises a frame detachably built up from tubular members and socketed couplings and having bowed triangular ends joined in spaced parallel alignmentby spacers connecting aligned sides of said triangles at approximately their mid points, the assembled frame providing suspending means for a unitary body support, said body support being formed of flexible sheet material, having generally triangular end pockets for engagement for parallel oriented apexes of said triangular ends, and means along opposed side edges intermediate said pockets for detachably securing the same to the two upwardly oriented spacers.
The flexible body support can be relatively taut in which event the body support provides a comfortable sleeping surface. Alternatively the body support between the engaged spacers can assume a. downwardly bowed contour and be fashioned-fromplastic, plasticcoated, or otherwise waterproofed material to form a water retaining recess suitable for bathing, andthe like.
Whether produced as a small, infant cradle and/or bathing device, or as a large adult camping or emergency sleeping and/or bathing unit, the modular construction of the frame and flexiblebody support permit storing of the disassembled parts in a minimum of space. The ease and compactness of storage is particularly advantageous in the small infant size adaptation-of the device sinceit facilitates providing for the infant familiar sleeping and bathing facilities while the family unit may be moving from place to place by automobile or by air, where transportation of conventional sleeping and bathing facilities would be difficult or even impossible. The compact storage and easy assemblage and disassembly are alsovery advantageous in larger adaptations of the device since in camping and other situations where supplementary sleeping and bathing facilities may be needed, storage space is generallyat apremium.
The modular cradle-like structure in aceordancewith the present invention will be readily understood from the followingdescription together with theaccompanying drawing in which preferred adaptations of the invention have been illustrated with the various parts thereof identified by suitable reference characters in each of the views, and'in which FIG. 1 is a side elevationview of the assembled device;
FIG. 2 is a view of one end of the-device taken substantially on the line 2-2ofFIG. l;
FIG. 3 is a viewgenerally similar to FIG. 2 showing the parts of the end structure intpartially assembled-but unstressed relation;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary view substantially ona line 4-4 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is aview showingthe components of FIG. 3 in collapsed position;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged sectional view of the detail of one means for providing fixed engagement between tubular members and coupling members as shown in FIGS. 1 to 3; and
FIG. 7 is a plan view of the body support means as shown in FIG. 1 with the ends thereof in extended planner relation to the main body portion.
As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the cradle-like structure comprises identical end frame assemblages 10 of stressed or bowed triangular contour having centrally of each side thereof socket members 11 for receiving tubular spacers 12 which connect the end assemblages 10 and support the same in the parallel aligned relationship as shown in FIG. 1.
The tubular members 12 are preferably built up of a plurality of similar sections 12a, 12b axially joined and connecting means 13 to facilitate compact storage when disassembled.
The end frames, as more clearly illustrated in F IG'. 3, comprise three axially resilient side members 14 with the couplings 11 at substantially the mid-point thereof, and with each of the sides 14 having at one end thereof an elbow socket coupling 15 in which the socket portions are disposed at to each other. There is sufficient axial resilience in the side members 14 to permit manual flexure to align the free end of one member 14 with the open socket of the elbow 15 on the adjacent member 14; and when the three corners have been thus assembled the end frame assumes the bowed contour shown in FIG. 2.
As illustrated in the drawing the three sides 14 of each end assemblage are pivotally joined together with three links 16, the inner ends of which have a common pivot 17 and the outer ends of which are pivoted to the couplings 11. While this structure is not essential to the functioning of the assembled device it is desirable from the standpoint of maintaining proper orientation of the disassembled parts, i.e., sockets l5 aligned with the free end of adjacent side 14, and sockets 11 properly oriented to receive the spacers 12. The double pivoting of the links 16 permit the detached end assemblage to assume the compact collapsed or stored position as shown in FIG. 5.
The couplings 11, 13 and 15 can suitably be conventional tee, straight and elbow plumbing couplings of the type having smooth walled sockets for sweated or soldered joining of copper tubing and the like. By selecting tubular members 12 and 14, of a diameter to provide close slidable engagement with the sockets of these couplings easy assemblage and disassemblage is provided with little chance of accidental disengagement when the device is in use. The tensioning of the sides 14 to the bowed configuration shown in FIG. 2 enchanses the frictional engagement with sockets of the elbows 15, and the longitudinal tension provided by the body support member 18 tends to prevent accidental displacement of the spacers 12 from the couplings 11.
When it is desired that particular couplings be maintained in predetermined orientation with respect to each other, as for example, the predeterminedorientation of the open pockets of elbows 15 and tee coupling '1 1: on each side of member 14, this can be accomplished by providing one or more inward offsets 19 of a socket portion 20 as it engages the tubular member 14, as shown in FIG. 6 of the drawing.
When the couplings 11 take the form of conventional (plumbing) tee couplings as above described, each of the sides 14 will comprise two short tubular members 14a, 14b, with at least the section 14a being fixedly secured to couplings 11 and 15 in the manner shown in FIG. 6, so that the open socket of coupling 11 and the open socket of coupling 15 are properly oriented for assemblage of the device as above described. The tubular member 14b can also be keyed to the coupling 11 for the purpose of maintaining together the subassemblage shown in FIGS. 3 and 5, but for more compact storage the tubular members 14b can remain detachably inserted in the couplings 11.
The tubular members 12 and 14 can be fashioned from various materials such as metal, plastics, or even appropriate hickory or other resilient wooden dowels.
From the standpoint of cost and ease of fabrication the members 12 and 14 are preferably extruded plastic tubing having appropriate axial resilience for the particular size device being produced. Obviously in larger sizes the size and strength of members 12 and 14 must be increased, and in an adult sized version of the device it could be preferable to employ metal piping or tubing to provide the desired combination of strength and resilience.
When the ends have been joined together by the spacers 12 any of the sides 14 can become the bottom or supporting portion of the assemblage with the opposed apex 21 in the orientation shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 being upwardly oriented and providing means for receiving triangular socketed portions 22 of the body support 18. As shown in FIG. 7 ofthe drawing the body support 18 comprises a sheet of flexible material which may be fabric, plastic sheeting or combinations thereof, with tringular portions 22a superimposed on the upper surface thereof, and secured thereto as by stitching on the outer sides 22b. This forms a socketed end 22 which is engaged with the apexes 21 of the end assemblages by passing through the end assemblage and sliding pocket 22 over the apex 21.
Side edges 23 of the body support member 18 are adapted to wrap around the two upwardly disposed spacers 12 as shown in FIG. 4 and be secured to the under side of the body support 18 by suitable fastening means 24. These fastening means 24 have been shown for the purpose of illustration as comprising snap fasteners, but it will be understood that buttons. zippers, or any other conventional fastening means can be employed for this purpose. A fastening means which could be practical and permit considerable variation in the tension of the body support between the engaged spacers 12 would involve applying to the surfaces to be joined tapes of plastic loops and plastic hooks, respectively, which automatically provide a locking engagement when pressed together but are easily separated by a peeling motion. Such fastening means are well known and extensively used in garment closures, adjustable bandages, and strappings, and the like.
When it is intended that the assemblage be used primarily as a reclining or sleeping facility the body support means in its central portion will sag below the spacers 12 to an extent generally shown at 25 in FIGS. 1 and 2 of the drawing. As increased firness might be desired, the level ofthe line 25 should be considered as raised toward the level of the supporting members 12. The slight sagging of the central portion of the body support, as shown at 25, however, provides in the assembled device a hammock-like effect which is both comfortable and safely confining when the device is to be used as a cradle or sleeping facility for an infant or small child.
It will be noted in this connection that a bowed configuration of the downwardly oriented or supporting sides 14 of the end assemblages provide a rocker-like support very similar to that provided in a conventional cradle. This rocking action coupled with the slight resilience of the spacers 12 at the side of body support 18 provide in the body support extreme comfort when used as a sleeping facility. Furthermore, it will be evident from considering FIG. 2 of the drawing that the structure in cradle configuration is extremely stable due to the fact that the rocker forming portions 14 of the frame extend laterally well beyond the dimensions of the body support 18 as it engages the spacers 12. In practice it is found to be virtually impossible for a small child to cause the device to tip when climbing in and out of the body support 18.
While the device has been described as providing primarily a cradle or hammock-like sleeping facility the basic structure lends itself equally well to the provision of a readily portable bathing facility. By contouring the body support member 18 to have a substantial sag as seen at 25a and utilizing a water-impervious material such as plastic sheeting, waterproof impregnated fabrics, and the like, throughout this portion of the body support 18, it will be apparent that the sagging portion can provide a practical recess or reservoir for bathing water. In other words, merely by having interchangeable body supports 18 the user can quickly and easily transform the device from a sleeping facility to a bathing facility, whether the device is of a small size intended for infant and small child use or a larger version intended as a portable emergency or camping facility for adults.
Depending on the conditions of intended use and particularly when the device is to be used for outdoor camping and the like, it may be desirable to employ various protective means such as netting to ward off insects, hood portions to provide shade and/or protection from rain or snow. Such protective means whether secured to the body support 18 or independentthereof can be readily suspended above the occupant by engagement with the end frame apexes 21.
It is also within the scope of the present invention to fashion the central portion of the body support 18 as a sleeping bag with conventional insulation and zippered or other closure means so that as assembled the device becomes a self-contained, off-the-ground, cold weather sleeping facility.
Such supplemental protective means would not add significantly to the size and bulk of the disassembled device and they are mentioned in order that the reader may more fully appreciate the versatility in the use of the modular frame construction and associated body support.
Various changes and modifications in the modular cradle-like structure herein disclosed may occur to those skilled in,the art, and to the extent that such changes and modifications are embraced by the appended claims, it is to be understood that they constitute part of the present invention.
1. A modular cradle-like structure comprising a frame built up from elongated tubular members having limited axial flexibility and rigid socketed coupling members slidably receiving said tubular members, said frame comprising essentially triangular ends joined in spaced parallel alignment by spacers connecting aligned sides of said triangles at approximately their mid-points, said triangular ends each comprising three tubular members of equal length and trans-axially flexed to a bowed contour as engaged by said rigid socketed coupling members, said frame providing suspending means for a unitary body support, said body support comprising an elongated sheet of flexible material having generally triangular pockets at opposed ends thereof for engagement with upwardly oriented apexes of said triangular ends and extending substantially to the mid-points of the tubular members forming said apexes, and means along opposed side edges intermediate said pocketed ends for detachably securing the same to the two upwardly oriented spacers of said frame.
2. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 1 wherein said rigid socketed couplings are selected from the class consisting of ell. tee and straight pipe couplings having sockets closely and slidably engaging said tubular members.
3. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 2 wherein the use of ell couplings at the apexes of said triangular ends imparts the bowed contour to said ends.
4. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 2 wherein the use oftee couplings centrally of each side of each of said triangular ends positions and orients said spacers with respect thereto.
5. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 2 wherein the use of at least one straight coupling intermediate the ends of each spacer serves to reduce the overall length of thedisassembled parts of said structure.
6. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 2 wherein selected couplings and tubular members are fixedly secured together by inward offsetting of the material of the socket portion of said coupling while in engagement with said tubular member.
7. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 2 wherein each side of each triangular end comprises two tubular members of substantially equal length mounted in the aligned sockets ofa tee coupling and an ell coupling at one end of said assemblage, said couplings being rigidly secured to said tubular members to dispose the axies of the unoccupied sockets of said tee and ell couplings at right angles to each other. whereby joining together any three sides assemblages imparts a bowed contour to said triangular end, and orients the unoccupied sockets of said tee couplings at the same side of said end.
8. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 7 wherein the three side assemblages of a triangular end are pivotally joined together by three links having a common pivot axis centrally of said triangle and each pivotally coupled with the tee coupling of one of said side assemblages.
9. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 1 wherein the pockets at opposed ends of said body support are disposed at the upper surface thereof disposing the main panel of the body support outwardly of said ends as the pockets engage the apexes thereof.
10. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 9 wherein the central portion of said body support when assembled to said frame is relatively taut, while yielding to the weight of a body therein, and the assembled structure is adapted for use as a sleeping facility.
11. A modular cradle-like structure as defined in claim 9 wherein the central portion of said body support when assembled to said frame is substantially downwardly bowed and waterproofed, and the assembled structure is adapted for use as a bathing facility.
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