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CURVED PANEL CONSTRUCTION FOR A MERCHANDISER
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION:
This invention relates generally to refrigerated coolers of the type known as glass door merchandisers and particularly to a merchandiser having a curved end panel construction.
Merchandisers of the type under consideration are usually found in supermarket express lane checkout aisles, hotel lobby stores, health clubs and similar locations. In addition to being convenient and accessible and providing maximum interior storage space it is important that they be eye- appealing to the customer in exterior appearance. Since the utilitarian requirements and cost effectiveness are important considerations, merchandisers tend to be rectangular blocks, having an essentially flat glass door at the front and sometimes at the rear, flat ends and a flat top. The flat end appearance is a reflection of the interior space and it is desirable in some instances to provide an alternative which is attractive yet preserves the utilitarian aspects of the interior space. Vending machines are known such as U.S. Patent No.
D294,716 which have rounded front panels and U.S. Patent No.
D294,718 and D318,071 which have combined rounded front panels and side panels. Vending cabinets and beverage dispensers, such as U.S. Patent No. D121,761 and D300,595, respectively, are also known which have rounded ends but these ends are virtually semi-circular and, structurally, the exterior appearance reflects the interior space.
The present invention utilizes a panel construction which ~0419 permits the provision of rounded ends on a merchandiser in a manner not revealed in the known prior art.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION:
This invention provides a refrigerated merchandiser having rounded end panel construction without altering the interior capacity or arrangement of the unit. The panel construction can also be used to convert a conventional flat ended merchandiser into one having curved ends.
This invention provides a merchandiser having a generally rectangular wall, opposed elongate side members and attachment means operatively attaching the side members to the wall, a lower transverse member having an arcuate front portion and attachment means for operatively attaching the lower member to the wall, an upper transverse member having an arcuate front portion and attachment means operatively attaching the upper member to the wall, an arcuate sheet of translucent material having upper and lower margins and opposed side margins, and said side members cooperating to provide means for operatively retaining said arcuate sheet on said wall.
It is an aspect of this invention to provide that said lower member is a pan-shaped member having a generally arcuate front wall, and another aspect to provide that said upper member is a pan-shaped member having a generally arcuate front wall.
It is still another aspect of this invention to provide that said upper member attachment means includes a generally horizontal ~16Q ll~
member, disposed in spaced parallel relation to said upper member and connected to said merchandiser wall, and spacer means between said upper member and said horizontal member.
It is yet another aspect of this invention to provide that said elongate side members are inwardly turned and angle-shaped, the angle between said members substantially corresponding to the end angle between the curved sheet and the merchandiser wall, said elongate side members providing retaining means and framing means for said arcuate sheet.
It is an aspect of this invention to provide that said upper and lower pan-shaped members, are reversely formed relative to each other, to provide framing means for the said arcuate sheet.
It is another aspect of this invention to provide that said side members stop short of said pan-shaped members.
It is still another aspect of this invention to provide that said arcuate sheet and said wall cooperate to define a generally segmental space, and lighting means is provided within the segmental space to back-light the arcuate sheet, and another aspect to provide that the back-lighting means includes a plurality of fluorescent tubes.
It is an aspect of this invention to provide a merchandiser comprising a front wall, a rear wall and opposed generally rectangular end walls, frame means carried by each end wall, each frame means including a pair of opposed elongate, generally vertical side retaining members formed from angularly related legs, one of said legs being attached to said end wall and the other of ~60~19 said legs being angled toward the corresponding leg of the other retaining member, and an initially flat sheet of translucent plastic having upper and lower margins and opposed side margins, at least said side margins being retained in overlapped arcuate configuration by at least said frame side members.
It is another aspect of this invention to provide that each frame means includes a lower, pan-shaped base member having a panel portion and an arcuate wall portion, said arcuate wall portion overlapping said arcuate sheet lower margin in the installed condition, and another aspect to provide that each frame means includes an upper, pan-shaped cap member having a panel portion and an arcuate wall portion, said arcuate wall portion overlapping said arcuate sheet upper margin.
It is still another aspect of this invention to provide that at least one of said front walls and rear walls is a glass access door.
It is yet another aspect of this invention to provide a method of forming a curved end on a merchandiser having a generally rectangular flat end wall, comprising the steps of attaching spaced elongate retainer members having outstanding, inwardly angled legs, to each side of said end wall, providing a generally rectangular flat sheet having side, lower and upper margins and having a width greater than the minimum traverse distance between said inwardly angled legs, attaching an elongate base member to the lower end of the wall, flexing the sheet so that it can be inserted in retained relation between overlapping inwardly angled legs, and attaching an 21 60~19 upper elongate cap member to the upper end of the wall.
It is an aspect of this invention to provide a merchandiser with a rounded end panel construction, which is relatively simple and inexpensive to manufacture and effective for its intended purpose.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS:
FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of the merchandiser;
FIG. 2 is a plan view thereof;
FIG. 3 is an end view thereof;
FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the end panel construction;
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view taken on line 5-5 of FIG. 4, and FIG. 6 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view taken on line 6-6 of FIG. 4.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT:
Referring now by reference numerals to the drawings and first to FIGs. 1-4, it will be understood that the refrigerated cooler or merchandiser 10 includes a body 12 having a glass front access door 14, bottom portion 16, an upper wall 18, a rear wall 20 and end walls 22. Curved end panels 30 are attached to each of the generally rectangular flat end walls 22. In the embodiment shown, the access door 14 is provided with a hinge 24 at the right hand end and is opened outwardly by means of a handle 26.
The end walls 22 are substantially identical and the curved end ~ ~ ~0~19 panel assembly 30 will described with reference to the left hand end panel assembly, it being understood that the right hand panel assembly is substantially identical.
The curved end panel assembly 30 includes an arcuate sheet 32 of translucent plastic material, such as Lexan, and a frame, generally indicated by numeral 34, by which the sheet 32 is held in place.
The frame 34, in the embodiment shown, includes opposed elongate members providing retaining rails 36, lower transverse base assembly 38 and an upper cap assembly 40.
The retaining rails 36 extend substantially the entire height of the end wall 22 and, in the embodiment shown, the rails are angle-shaped having a first leg 42 attached to the end wall 22, as by fasteners 43, and a second, narrower outstanding leg 44. The outstanding legs 44 are directed inwardly and act to retain the sheet 32, which is initially flat having side margins 33, lower margin 35 and upper margin 37. The sheet 32, in the embodiment shown, is flexed so that it is bent into a curve and can be slid into retained relation within the overlapping rails 36 without the need for fasteners. As shown in FIG. 6, the angle of the retaining rail outstanding leg 44 preferably conforms substantially to the angle of the flexed sheet. In the embodiment shown, the unflexed width of the arcuate sheet between the side margins is slightly greater than the flexed width and the sheet is held in place by its own resillence.
The transverse base assembly 38 includes a pan member 46 having a lower wall 48, a rear straight wall 50 attached to the ~60419 merchandiser end wall 22, as by threaded fasteners 51, and an arcuate front wall 52 conforming to the induced curve of the translucent sheet lower margin 35. In the preferred embodiment, the retaining rails 36 extend downwardly substantially to, but not into, the pan member 46. The arcuate sheet lower margin 35 is received within and overlapped by the pan member arcuate front wall 52.
The transverse cap assembly 40 includes an inverted pan member 56 having an upper wall 58, a straight wall 60 and an arcuate front wall 62 conforming to the induced curve of the translucent sheet upper margin 37. In the embodiment shown, the cap assembly 40 includes a pair of spacer blocks 54 attached to the upper wall 58 as by adhesive and said upper wall and associated spacer blocks are apertured to receive threaded fasteners 55. As shown in FIG. 5, a horizontal seating member 64 is provided having a vertical leg 66 attached to the end wall 22, as by threaded fasteners 67, and an outstanding leg 68. The outstanding leg 68 includes a pair of threaded openings 70, which receive adjustable threaded fasteners passing through the spacer blocks 54. In the preferred embodiment, the retaining rails 36 extend upwardly to, but not into, the pan member 56. The translucent arcuate sheet upper margin 37 is received within and overlapped by the inverted pan member arcuate front wall 62.
This arrangement of overlapping side rails 36 and upper and lower pan members 46 and 56 respectively provides a neat framed appearance to the arcuate sheet 32 without unsightly gaps.
A back-lighting assembly 80 is provided within the arcuate, generally segmental, elongate space defined by the arcuate sheet 32 and the merchandiser end wall 22. In the embodiment shown, the back lighting is provided by two fluorescent tubes 82 extending substantially between the upper seating member 64 and lower pan member 46 and attached as by brackets 84. A ballast unit 86 is provided between the tubes 82.
It is thought that the structural features and functional advantages of this curved end panel assembly 30 have become fully apparent from the foregoing description of parts but for completeness of disclosure the installation of the assembly will be briefly described with reference to FIG. 4-6.
Preferably, the lighting assembly 80 is first installed on the end wall 22 followed by the horizontal seating member 64. The side retainer rails 36 and base pan member 46 are then attached to the end wall 22. This permits the translucent sheet 32 to be bent into a suitable curve and slid into place within the rails 36 and the pan member 46. Finally, the inverted pan member 56 is placed over the sheet 32 and adjusted to suit the proper height. When this is done the side rails 36 base pan member 46 and cap pan member 56 provide a substantially continuous overlapping margin for the translucent sheet. In the embodiment shown, the lower and upper pan members 46 and 56 respectively are provided by identical plastic moldings. Further, while curved panel assembly 30 has been shown attached to a merchandiser end wall it will be understood that it could be used for other walls.
Although the invention has been described by making detailed ~1~04~9 reference to the preferred embodiments, such detail is to be understood in an instructive rather than in any restrictive sense, many other variants being possible within the scope of the claims hereunto appended.
I claim as my invention.