CA1334540C - Retractable power center - Google Patents

Retractable power center

Info

Publication number
CA1334540C
CA1334540C CA 613270 CA613270A CA1334540C CA 1334540 C CA1334540 C CA 1334540C CA 613270 CA613270 CA 613270 CA 613270 A CA613270 A CA 613270A CA 1334540 C CA1334540 C CA 1334540C
Authority
CA
Grant status
Grant
Patent type
Prior art keywords
power
means
carriage
box
position
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Expired - Lifetime
Application number
CA 613270
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Norman R. Byrne
Original Assignee
Norman R. Byrne
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Grant date

Links

Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05KPRINTED CIRCUITS; CASINGS OR CONSTRUCTIONAL DETAILS OF ELECTRIC APPARATUS; MANUFACTURE OF ASSEMBLAGES OF ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
    • H05K5/00Casings, cabinets or drawers for electric apparatus
    • H05K5/02Details
    • H05K5/0247Electrical details of casings, e.g. terminals, passages for cables or wiring
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02GINSTALLATION OF ELECTRIC CABLES OR LINES, OR OF COMBINED OPTICAL AND ELECTRIC CABLES OR LINES
    • H02G3/00Installations of electric cables or lines in or on buildings, equivalent structures or vehicles
    • H02G3/02Details
    • H02G3/08Distribution boxes; Connection or junction boxes
    • H02G3/18Distribution boxes; Connection or junction boxes providing line outlets

Abstract

A retractable power center (100) for providing con-veniently located electrical power source receptacles (202) is adapted to be mounted in a work surface (104) such as a desk top or similar article of furniture. The power center (100) is manually operable and includes a stationary upper housing (128) received within a slot (122) formed in the work surface. In addition, a manually movable and slidable power carriage (170) is utilized to mount the receptacles (202). In response to manually exerted forces on the power carriage (170), the carriage can be extended upward into an open position.
Relatively small bosses (228) extend laterally from lateral sides of the carriage (170) and provide a means to support the carriage (170) in its extended position, with the bosses (228) resting on the top portion of the housing (128). Still further, ledges (230) are inte-grally formed on the lateral sides of the carriage (150) near the bottom portions thereof, so as to prevent any further additional movement of the carriage (170) up-wardly relative to the housing (128).

Description

--1-- ( Description Retractable Power Center Technical Field The invention relates to electrical power source enclosures and, more particularly, to power centers mountable in furniture assemblies, work benches and the like, and comprising electrical receptacles.

Background Art Historically, electrical receptacles have long been used for supplying power to various types of relatively portable devices, such as fans, lamps, electric type-writers, and the like. One problem common to relatively all types of residential, commercial and industrial environments utilizing electrical power outlet recep-tacles is the positioning of the same in a manner so as to facilitate both convenience and cost efficiency.
When designing the electrical layout of a commercial or industrial environment, it is well-known that wiring costs can be relatively high if a sufficient number of electrical power outlet receptacles are not utilized and properly positioned. However, the cost of the elec-trical materials also rapidly increases as the number of power source receptacles is increased. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the conventional design of single- or double-unit receptacles within walls or floor surfaces, which are often a substantial distance from electrical devices such as those employed on work sur-faces (typewriters, computer terminals, etc.), can cause relatively unsightly and sometimes dangerous wiring ~ .

(- 2 arrays, in addition to resultant entanglements of the electrical cords connected to these devices.
To overcome problems of efficiency and convenience -of electrical outlet design, it is relatively common to employ multiple receptacle raceways having a number of -~
receptacles and a power source cord plugged into a utility outlet. Again, however, these raceways can still result in unsightly and entangled arrays of elec- -trical cords interconnecting the devices to be powered. In addition, these raceways are often located -~
on floor surfaces and, therefore, are not particularly convenient. v--To partially overcome this problem, it is also known to employ electrical receptacles rigidly and directly mounted to various types of furniture, such as book-shelves, desks and other furniture arrangements employ-ing work surfaces and the like. These receptacles are often mounted in a location substantially above the floor surface and allow the user to "plug in" electrical devices nearer their location of use, thereby avoiding the necessity of running device cords a substantial distance. However, rigidly-secured receptacles must be ~--mounted in a manner so that the yser can readily insert electrical plugs connected to the device cords. Accord- -`~
ingly, the receptacles are typically in fairly "open"
locations and the device cords can again prove to be unsightly and space-consuming, especially disadvan-tageous when the devices to be powered are not in use. -`
Alternatively, if the receptacles are substantially _-hidden from view, such receptacles can be extremely difficult to manually access.
As an example of directly-mounted receptacles, the U.S. Patent to Konig, 3,883,202, issued May 13, 1975, ~-shows a desk having an integrally incorporated trans-verse trough, with receptacles located in the trough bottom. Electrical supply lines can be laid in the ( -3- ( trough and extended through longitudinal slots in the rear of the desk. The arrangement is not particularly -aesthetically desirable, and the receptacles are some-what difficult to access.
It is known to employ electrical receptacles in floor outlet assemblies, whereby the receptacles can be -moved between a retracted, closed position (with the -receptacles hidden from view~ to an extended, open posi- --tion, with the receptacles accessible. For example, the --U.S. patent to Myers, 3,433,886, issued March 18, 1969, describes a recessible electrical service device comprising a recessible service box mounted for sliding movement within an electrical junction box. The Myers patent illustrates various embodiments of the recessible service device, with the embodiments differing in substantial part with respect to the means for raising and lowering the service box relative to the electrical junction box.
In one embodiment, the junction box includes an apertured cover sealed to the junction box by means of a gasket. The electrical service or receptacle box is mounted for vertical sliding movement within the aper- C-c ture formed by the cover. The service box is rectangu- ~-lar in configuration and includes an integrally molded wall structure having opposing end wall portions and ~~
opposing side wall portions. A top cover plate is secured to the end walls by means of mounting screws.
The side walls are closed by a pair of side cover plates, which can be shaped or apertured to provide :-access to a desired electrical service or wiring device associated therewith. ~or example, the side cover plates can be apertured so as to accommodate crown portions of conventional duplex receptacles. r-, The top cover plate of the recessible service box is -~
configured so as to overhang the side and end wall portions of the box, for purposes of sealing the box ( 4 from outside dirt or the like when the service box is in a recessed position. The apertured cover of the junction box is described as being closely fitted about a slidably mounted vertical forestructure of the reces-sible service box. A narrow band extends adjacently and -contingently about the aperture and is counter-sunk for --~
purposes of receiving a sealing gasket. The sealing gasket is engaged and compressed by the overhanging edges of the cover plate when the service box is in the -recessed position. -When the recessible service box is in an extended or .
"active" position, the box still remains sealed in a ~~
manner so that outside dirt or the like cannot enter the spacial opening of the junction box. Specifically, an outwardly extending flange is secured to the bottom edges of the service box wall structure. This flange cooperates with the juxtaposed edges of the junction box cover aperture so as to prevent removal of the reces-sible service box therefrom, and so as to seal the recessible service device in its withdrawn or active position by compressing a second peripheral gasket therebetween.
As earlier described, the primary differences -- between the various embodiments of the recessible --service device described in Myers relate to the arrange-ments for raising and lowering the service devices. In one embodiment having the structural configuration as heretofore described, a pair of elongated and vertically disposed machine screws include spaced upper and lower threaded portions. Each of the threaded portions are threadably engagable with a tapped supporting bracket integrally molded with the recessible box wall struc-ture, or otherwise secured at each end of the struc-ture. The head of each machine screw is provided with a ~r.
peripheral outwardly extending flange which is seated in a counter-sunk aperture at each end of the composite ~-(\ - s -cover body member. The head flange is thus seated -flushly with the counter-sunk aperture and retained therein by the overlying edges of the associated aper-ture and the retaining plate. It is desirable that a --portion of the screw head extends flushly through the retaining plate aperture and provided with a screwdriver slot or similar tool manipulating means. -~
In the aforedescribed configuration, when ~he machine screws are rotated in a particular direction, the recessible service box will move upwardly as a result of the threaded engagement of the upper threaded portions of the machine screws with supporting brackets -connected to the box structure. With this arrangement, compressive forces are applied to the second peripheral gasket.
When lowering the recessible service box, the machine screws are turned in an opposing direction until the threaded supporting brackets of the recessible service box separate from the upper threaded portions.
The service box is then allowed to drop downwardly through the distance represented by the intermediate necked-down and unthreaded portions of the screws.
Thereafter, the lower threaded portions of these screws are engaged, and the screws can be further rotated so as ~-to move the recessible service box further in a downward ~~
direction, until the overhanging edges of its top cover compressingly engage the closed position sealing gasket. In this manner, the recessible box is sealed and locked in its recessed or inactive position, by frictional rétainment of the screws.
To raise the recessible service box from the pre-viously described lowered position, the screws are again rotated so as to cause the lower threaded portions to ~
move the supporting brackets and the recessible service -;~-box upwardly until the brackets are disengaged from the threaded portions. At this point, the box has been ( 6- ~

raised a sufficient distance so as to permit the opera-tor's fingers to be inserted under the overhanging portions of the box so as to raise the box for the major proportion of the recessing distance as defined by the unthreaded portions of the machine screws. Thereafter, --the recessible box is temporarily held by the operator -~
in engagement of its supporting brackets with the lower -~
ends, respectively, of the upper threaded portions. The --screws are then further rotated to permit threaded -engagement of the upper threaded portions with the -~
brackets. Still further rotation will continue to move -the recessible box upwardly until the box is seated and -~
sealed with the second peripheral gasket.
In another embodiment of tne recessible service box disclosed in Myers, each of the machine screws is continuously threaded. In this arrangement, movement of the recessible service box between a fully recessed position and a fully withdrawn position results from continuous rotation of the machine screws by manual manipulation of screwdrivers of the like. Again, when in the fully recessed or withdrawn positions, the service box configuration completely seals the interior '--~
portion of the junction box from the exterior environ- -ment.
In still another embodiment, the arrangement for locking, moving and sealing the service box utilizes a pair of cam members mounted for rotational movement in a recess formed in each end portion of the junction box cover. The cam-receiving recesses formed in the junc- _ tion box cover are located below its overlying counter-sunk band and the sealing gasket seated therein, so that each cam can be manipulated without interfering with the sealing engagement between the junction box cover gasket ~:
and the recessible box cover at the recessed position of ;-the box.
Each cam can be mounted on and threadably secured to ( 7-a limited thread, adjustment screw or stripper bolt.
This thread or screw is, in turn, rotatably contained in a suitable aperture within the junction box cover plate. The junction box cover plate in this particular -configuration does-not require a retaining plate, and the body member of the cover plate is provided with a -~
correspondingly deeper counter-sunk portion so as to acco-n~.odate both the closed position sealing gasket and the overhanging edges of the recessible service box cover.
Cooperating with each of the cams are a pair of notches formed at spaced locations at upper and lower -positions of each end wall structure of the recessible box. These notches therefore determine the withdrawn and recessed positions of the recessible box relative the junction box. Each cam is preferably provided with a wedge configuration so as to form a thickened offset portion which retainingly engages the selected one of the notches so that the recessible box is moved through a small vertical distance upwardly when the offset portions of the cams are moved further into the lower notches, or downwardly when the cam offsets similarly engage the upper notches, in order to apply compressive forces to the associated sealing gaskets. Opposed sides -of each cam are outwardly and thereby oppositely tapered adjacent particularly the aforementioned cam offset portion, as provided by the wedge contour of the cam.
Accordingly, the upper tapered surface of each cam --cooperatively is engagable in the associated lower ~
notch, while the lower tapered surface of the cam is similarly engagable in the upper notch. These tapered surfaces define the aforesaid thickened characteristic of the cam offset portion. ~
In installing the recessible service device in a ~~
floor structure, the annular retaining plate forming ~-~
part of the junction box cover plate, and the recessible ( -8- ( box cover plate are first removed. The recessible service, with the remainder of the recessible service box fully inserted into the junction box, is installed such that the upper surface of the annular body member --forming part of the junction box cover is flush with the --concrete or other unfinished floor structure. A -~
relatively thin and non-apertured protector plate, except for its mounting screw apertures, is then temporarily secured to the recessible service in place -of the retaining plate by means of mounting screws. The protector plate or shield prevents foreign matter, and .~-particularly particles of concrete mix in the case of a -~
concrete floor, from entering the otherwise open service during construction. In the case of a concrete floor, the concrete mix is screed flush with the upper surface of the annular body member. After the mix has been set up, the protector plate is removed and replaced with the recessible box cover plate and the cover retaining plate. In this particular example construction, the recessible box cover plate and the retaining plate are preferably of the same thickness and equivalent to the thickness of the finished floor covering, such as asphalt tile or the like. ~
With respect to the general structure of the embodi- --ments disclosed in the Myers patent, it should be noted that the arrangements are primarily directed to floor-mounted structures. In particular, the Myers arrange-ment is directed to structures which can be embedded within a floor structure during actual construction of the floor structure. In addition, it should be noted that tools are required for movement of the Myers service box between recessed and withdrawn positions.
Finally, it should also be noted that the Myers arrange-ment is primarily directed to a service box whereby the service receptacles are completely encapsulated when the -~
service box is in a recessed position. Accordingly, the ~ 334540 receptacles are completely unusable in this position. -Further, the Myers arrangement comprises a structure ~
whereby the interior portion of the junction box is -completely sealed, even when the service box receptacles are withdra~n. -The U.S. Patent to Cole, 3,646,244, issued February 29, 1972, discloses a floor receptacle having an inner housing moveable within a stationary casing held in a circular opening provided in a concrete --floor. The Cole device includes a cover plate having a circular well which seats a cap within a slot. The cap forms the head of a bolt, and the latch member includes latching end portions threaded into the bolt. The latching end portions are normally positioned in slots of the moveable housing. To withdraw the housing from the casing, the cap is rotated by using a tool (coin, etc.) in one of the cap slots. When the cap and the corresponding bolts are rotated, the latching end portions are removed from the slots and the bolt and cap "pop up". The moveable housing remains stationary and must then be manually lifted out of the casing.
In another example, the U.S. Patent to Dubreuil, 3,794,956, issued February 26, 1974, discloses a floor outlet assembly having a stationary outer member and a ~
telescoping inner member. The inner member is biased `~
toward an extended operative position by a spring. A
locking mechanism is employed to lock the inner member within the outer member in a closed position, and includes a finger element adapted to be pushed into a notch formed at the upper end of the member when the member is in a retracted, inoperative position. To release the locking mechanism, an unlocking mechanism includes a disc element mounted for rotation about an axis offset from a central bore of the case and secured by a screw. With the inner member in the inoperative position and the finger element locked within the notch, --10-- ( a pronged key is inserted in the key holes formed in the -disc. The disc is then rotated in a specific direction -to bring a stud upward to compress a spring and move the finger element out of the notch. The inner member is -~
then free to move upward under the biasing of the ~
spring. The electrical socket of Dubreuil remains de- --energized and non-conductive at all times when the inner member is in its retracted position. ~-~
Other patents showing floor-mounted receptacle units -which can be moved between open and closed positions include the U.S. Patents to Press 3,622,684 issued November 23, 1971 and Guerrero 2,811,574 issued -~
October 29, 1957. The Press patent discloses a rotatable floor-mounted receptacle arrangement wherein an electrical receptacle mount is pivotably supported within an opening in a mounting ring. Accordingly, electrical receptacles located on the electrical receptacle mount can be rotated to either an exposed position or a concealed position in a recess in the floor. When a seal ring is fastened to the mounting ring flush with the level of the floor, the inner peripheral surface thereof overlaps an annular shoulder formed on the periphery of the mount so as to enable a --sealing gasket to be compressingly engaged there-between. To "flip over" the receptacle mount, the seal ring can be released and raised to provide sufficient clearance for enabling the mount to be swung on its pivotable support past the inner peripheral surface of the seal ring. The seal ring can then be lowered again and fastened flush with the level of the floor to seal the mount in its new position.
In the Guerrero arrangement, an adjustable floor receptacle is screwed into a suitable opening in a ~-conduit and is extensible or retractible to adapt the -~-receptacle to a floor thickness. A telescoping member provided with a permanent-type electrical outlet or telephone jack is mounted within the floor receptacle, and the telescoping member is provided with a rotary and threaded cap which can be screwed into the top of the receptacle to form a flush closure. To use the receptacle, the top is unscrewed, and the telescoping --~
member is elevated to expose the electrical outlet or -telephone jack. An electrical cord or telephone cable can then be plugged into the outlet. Friction provided ~
by a gasket maintains the cylinder in a desired elevated -position. Rotation of the cylinder during movement is prevented by studs which are engaged in particular grooves.
When use of the receptacle is to be discontinued, the electrical cord is removed from the block and pressure exerted upon the closure to telescope the cylinder into the member. As soon as the closure engages threads, it is rotated to screw the closure into the member.
The afore-described patents are in substantial part specifically directed to floor outlet assemblies. One problem associated with receptacles rigidly mounted in floor outlets, or otherwise rigidly mounted in various types of furniture, relates to the development of modular furniture systems, which are rapidly gaining --increased use in all types of environments. These furniture systems often employ modular and interchange-able furniture components. In some instances, a numberof receptacles may be required at a work station, such as a secretarial work place having a typewriter, computer display terminal and the like. Other work stations having similar furniture components may require few, if any, receptacles. Accordingly, it is advanta-geous to selectively choose and locate the number of ~-receptacles available to the user.
One system employing covered receptacles mounted ~:~
within in a work station is disclosed in the U.S. Patent ( -12- ( 1 33~540 to Propst et al 4,372,629, issued February 8, 1983. The Propst et al arrangement includes a desk top having a rear cover hinged to a vertical back panel. Receptacles are mounted to the lower portion of the cover and bristles extend horizontally from the cover to an edge of the desk top when the cover is closed. When the cover is open, the user can "plug in" the cord of a -~
, desired electrical device and close the cover, with the --~
cord then extending through the bristles. --Although the Propst et al arrangement is relatively -more aesthetically pleasing than any other known -arrangement, the necessity of manually opening the hinge covering at the rear of the desk top is somewhat incon-venient for the user. In addition, the arrangement requires a combined work surface and back panel con-figuration, and the hinged cover is not secured in any manner when it is in a closed position.
One relatively substantial advance over the prior art relating to the mounting of electrical receptacles in a retractable manner in work surfaces and the like, is shown in the commonly owned U.S. Patent to Byrne 4,551,577 issued November 5, 1985. In the Byrne application, a retractable power center includes a ~
rectangular housing formed in the work surface with a ~--clamping arrangement to secure the housing to the work surface. A lower extrusion is connected to a lower portion of the housing, and a moveable power carriage mounts the receptacles and a catch assembly which releasably maintains the carriage in a closed, retracted position. In response to manual activation, the catch assembly is released and springs tensioned between the carriage and the extrusion exert forces so as to extend the carriage upward into an extended, open position. In ~-the open position, the user can energize desired elec- -~
trical devices from the receptacles and then lower the carriage into the releasably secured, retractable posi - 13 - l 3 3 4 5 4 0 tion.
Although the Byrne patent represents a substantial advance with respect to retractable power centers mounted in work surfaces and the like, it can also be advantageous to employ a retractable power center having a relatively more simple construction. That is, the use of spring or similar arrangements can sometimes result in additional repair and maintenance costs. Still further, the use of a relatively long extrusion and the spring assemblies can also result in higher initial costs.
A manually-operable power center is here described adapted to be mounted in a desk or other furniture item having a work surface at a working height. The work surface includes a slot formed in the surface, and the power center includes stationary housing means mounted within the slot.
Electrical receptacle means supply electrical power from an interconnected common power source to selectively interconnected electrical devices. Carriage means are received within the housing means to mount the receptacle means so as to be vertically moveable with respect to the housing means between a closed, retracted position and an extended, open position. The carriage means includes opposing lateral sides, and first support means extend outwardly from the opposing lateral sides to support the carriage means in the extended, open position, with the first support means abutting the housing means when the carriage means is in the extended, open position.
The first support means includes a pair of at least slightly resilient elements, with each element extending outwardly from one of the opposing lateral sides of the carriage means. The elements are of a size and configuration so that the user can manually exert sufficient forces on the carriage means so as to move the carriage means and the ~' .~

resilient elements upwardly through the housing means, while the carriage means can still be supported in the extended, open position by the elements resting on an upper portion of the housing means. In accordance with one aspect the resilient elements can include a pair of bosses constructed integrally with the opposing lateral sides of the carriage means.
The power center can also include stop means mounted to the carriage means to prevent the carriage means from being extended upwardly from the housing means greater than a predetermined distance. The stop means can include a pair of ledges extending outwardly near the lower portions of the opposing lateral sides of the carriage means. The ledges are of a size and configuration so as to abut a lower portion of the housing means when the carriage means is extended upwardly a predetermined distance relative to the closed, retracted position of the carriage means.
The power center can also include lift engaging means mounted to an upper portion of the carriage means so as to allow the user to exert upwardly-directed forces on the carriage means. These forces can move the carriage means and the electrical receptacle means between the closed, retracted position and the extended, open position. The lift engaging means can include a horizontally-disposed cover plate mounted on an upper portion of the carriage means, with the cover plate substantially flush with the uppermost portion of the housing means when the carriage means is in the closed, retracted position.
The power center can also include second support means mounted to an upper portion of the carriage means to support the carriage means on the housing means when the carriage means is in the closed, retracted posi-tion. The second support means can include a cover plate mounted on an upper portion of the carriage means, -~
with the cover plate resting on an upper portion of the -housing means and supporting the weight of the carriage -~
means when the carriage means is in the closed position.
The power center can also include a cover plate positioned within the housing means and substantially hiding from view the receptacle means below the work surface when the carriage means is in the closed posi-tion. In addition, a pair of grooves can be integrally -formed on inner vertical surfaces of the housing means so as to extend upwardly from a lowermost position of the housing means to a position near a top portion of the housing means. The pair of bosses can be aligned with the grooves so as to be receivable within the grooves when the carriage means is moved upwardly toward the extended, open position.
The carriage means can include an elongated recep-tacle box having a rectangular cross-sectional con-figuration, with opposing lateral vertically-disposed sides, and a further side having the electrical recep-tacle means mounted thereto. A pair of at least -~
slightly resilient elements extends outwardly from the opposing lateral sides of the receptacle box to support --the box in the extended position, with the resilient elements resting on an upper portion of the housing means when the receptacle box is in the extended posi-tion.
In addition, the housing means can include a hori-zontally-disposed collar having a rectangular opening and an outer perimeter adapted to rest on the upper surfaces of the work surface. The housing means can also include a casing extending downwardly from the ;~
collar, with a rectangular cross-sectional configuration ~-adapted to be fitted within the slot of the work sur- ~
face. Further, the power center can also include at -16 - l 3 3 4 5 4 0 least one circuit breaker conductively interconnected between the electrical receptacle means and the common power source so as to protect interconnected electrical devices in the event of circuit overload or electrical malfunction.

Brief Description of the Drawinqs Embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the drawings in which:
Figure 1 is a perspective view of a worksurface and computer apparatus employed with one embodiment of a retractable power center in accordance with the invention in a retracted position, and a similar embodiment of a retractable power center in accordance with the invention in an extended or open position;
Figure 2 is a perspective view of various components of the retractable power center in accordance with the invention as shown in Figure 1, with the power center removed from the worksurface;
Figure 3 is an exploded view of the retractable power center shown in Figure 2, and further showing various individual components of the power center;
Figure 4 is an elevation view of the retractable power center shown in Figures 2 and 3, with the power center mounted in a worksurface and further showing a lower extrusion cover which can be utilized with the power center;
Figure 5 is a plan view of the retractable power center shown in Figures 2 and 3, with the cover plate partially cut away;
Figure 6 is an underside view of the retractable power center shown in Figures 2 and 3;
Figure 7 is a partial sectional end view of the retractable power center shown in Figure 6, and taken along section lines 7-7 of Figure 6;
Figure 8 is a side view of a stationary upper - 17 - l 3 3 4 54 0 housing which can be utilized with the embodiment of the retractable power center shown in Figure 2, with means for interconnecting the lower extrusion cover to the housing;
Figure 9 is an end view of the upper housing of the retractable power center as shown in Figure 8;
Figure 10 is an elevation and partially exploded view of an upper housing which can be employed with the retractable power center shown in Figure 2, and further partially showing the lower extrusion tube and an interconnection arrangement therebetween;
Figure 11 is a partial view of one corner of an upper housing of the power center, as secured to a work surface;
and Figure 12 is an end view of the corner section shown in Figure 11, showing how the section can be connected to the work surface.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments The principles of the invention are disclosed, by way of example, in a manually-operable and retractable power center 100 as depicted in Figures 1-12. As shown in Figure 1, the power center is adapted to be mounted within a furniture component such as the work surface 104, and further adapted to supply power to electrical devices such as the computer apparatus 106 comprising a video display terminal 108, keyboard 110 and combined processor, memory and disk drive unit 112. The power center 100 is further adapted to be responsive to manually exerted forces so as to be extended upwardly into an open position as shown by the open position state 114 depicted in Figure 1. When in this open and extended position, electrical receptacles, telephone jacks, computer cable connections or similar interconnections are fully accessible to the user for purposes of inserting power cords, cable terminals or the like from electrical devices to be energized, such as the computer apparatus 106.
After insertion of appropriate power cords, cable terminals or the like, the power center 100 is further adapted to be responsive to manually exerted and -~
downward forces so as to be easily retracted into a lowered position shown as the retracted position state -~
116 in Figure 1. As also shown in Figure 1, even while ~~
in this lower retracted position state 116, energizing of electrical apparatus through power cords, cable terminals or the like can be maintained. For example, ~-as specifically shown in Figure 1, the power cords or cable terminals 118, 120 running from the computer apparatus 106 can be maintained in an energized state while the power center 100 is in the retracted position state 116. In this state, the subsequently described electrical receptacles and other portions of the power center 100 are substantially hidden from view.
Still further, the power center 100 can be main-tained in the retracted and lowered position state 116 when the power center 100 is not in use whatsoever. In addition, the power center 100 is adapted to be readily maintained in the open position state 114 with the use of relatively simple and inexpensive structure, and without requiring spring assemblies or any other types ~~
of relatively complex locking or clamping mechanisms.
Finally, the power center 100 can be readily moved between the retracted position state 116 and the open --position state 114 without requiring the use of any type of screwdrivers or similar tools.
As primarily shown in Figures 4 and 7, the power center 100 is adapted to be mounted within an oval, rectangular or any suitably shaped slot 122 formed ~-within a furniture component, such as the work surface ~-104 depicted in Figure 1 and partially depicted in ~~
Figures 4 and 7. The work surface 104 can, for example, --19-- (-be the working surface of a desk or similar furniture component. Typically, the work surface 104 may have a veneer 124 or other conventional protective and aesthetically desirable surface secured to the top of the work surface 104. The main body 126 of the work surface 104 may be constructed of wood, plastic or --~
similar materials. The power center lO0 provides a structurally sound, relatively simplistic structure and aesthetically desirable means for transferring power lO from a conventional power source located below the work --~
surface 104 to one or more electrical outlet receptacles nearer the top of work surface 104 and then to electrical devices tsuch as the computer apparatus 106 shown in Figure l) to be energized from the receptacles.
Referring primarily to Figures 2 and 3, but as also shown in part in various other figures of the drawings, the power center lO0 can include a stationary upper housing 128. The upper housing 128 can be of any desired shape, such as the substantially oval shape shown in Figures 2 and 3. The stationary upper housing 20 128 can include a vertically disposed and oval-shaped casing 130 which can be characterized as forming a sleeve. The casing 130 can be formed by vertically ~~
disposed and opposing lateral side portions 132 (only -~
one of the side portions 132 being shown in each of ~~
25 Figures 2 and 3) integrally interconnected by means of vertically disposed and opposing end portions 134, only one of the end portions being shown in Figures 2 and -`
3. Mounted to the upper edge or surface of the casing 130 formed by the side portions 132 and end portions 134 30 is a horizontally disposed collar 136. The horizontally disposed collar 136 can be interconnected with the casing 130 by means of connecting screws (not shown) or ~-the like. However, it is preferable if the horizont~lly -=
disposed collar 136 is constructed integrally with the 35 casing 130, as primarily shown in the sectional view of ( -20- ( Figure 7. The horizontally disposed collar 136 is also -preferably formed in a shape substantially conforming to the shape of the casing 130. .
The oval-shaped slot 122 formed in the work surface 104 and the veneer 124 is configured so as to have a length and width relatively larger than the -~
corresponding distance between the lateral side portions ~
132 and the distance between the opposing end portions ~::
134 of the upper housing 128, respectively. Conversely, --1~ the length and width corresponding to the outer :
perimeter of the horizontally disposed collar 136 are slightly larger than the corresponding dimensions of the --slot 122. Accordingly, when the stationary upper housing 128 is mounted in the slot 122, the casing 130 is positioned below the veneer 124 on the top of the work surface 104. Correspondingly, the outer perimeter of the horizontally disposed collar 136 overhangs the slot 122 so as to be positioned above the work surface 104, with the lower surface of the collar 136 sub-stantially flush with the veneer 124, as shown primarily in Figures 4 and 7. In this manner, the collar 136 provides a supporting element for the housing 128.
To secure the stationary upper housing 128 to the ~-work surface 104, the outer surface of the casing 130 can include a series of graduated lips 138 positioned at diagonally opposed corners of the casing 130. When the main body 126 of the work surface 104 is constructed of wood or of similar materials, the housing 128 can be ~-secured to the work surface 104 by manually forcing the housing 128 downwardly through the slot 122. The graduated lips 138, with the proper dimensions of the slot 122 relative to the dimensions of the casing 130, will form a gripping interconnection with the main body ~-126 of the work surface 104. This gripping ~-interconnection is primarily shown in Figure 12. With this arrangement, the graduation of the lips 138 ( 21- ( prevents the upper housing 128 from being moved upwardly relative to the work surface 104. Correspondingly, the -:
overhanging configuration of the horizontally disposed .
collar 136, relative to the dimensions of the slot 122, prevents the housing 128 from being moved downwardly through the slot 122.
It should be emphasized, however, that other means can be employed to secure the housing 128 to the work .-surface 104. For example, a clamping arrangement as -:
generally described in the commonly owned U.S. Patent No. 4,747,788 issued May 31, 1988 can also be --employed. Other types of securing arrangements for -securing the housing 128 to the work surface 104 can be utilized without departing from the primary novel concepts of a power center in accordance with the invention.
Turning to Figures 2, 3 and 11, the stationary upper housing 128 can also include a series of upper slots 162 at the corners of the side portions 132 and end portions 134, with each of the slots 162 positioned adjacent a - corresponding set of the graduated lips 138. The slots 162 assist in providing a flexibility or resiliency to the casing 130, so as to facilitate mounting of the casing 130 to the work surface 104, and to facilitate movement of the power carriage 170 through the casing -~-~
130 as described in subsequent paragraphs herein.
Further, as shown primarily in Figures 2, 3, 5 and 6, the stationary upper housing 128 includes a pair of --centrally located, inwardly-directed opposing flanges 140 mounted in a vertical disposition at substantially the midpoints on the lateral side portions 132. The flanges 140 extend the vertical height of the casing 130, and can be connected to or otherwise integrally ~
formed with the interior surface of the lateral side ~--portions 132. Adjacent each side of the opposing flanges 140 is a second inwardly-directed opposing -( -22-flange 164. Each of the opposing flanges 164 can be connected to or otherwise integrally formed with the -interior surface of the corresponding one of the lateral side portions 132. Like the central flanges 140, the ~:
opposing side flanges 164 can also extend the vertical --~
height of the casing 130. As shown primarily in Figures 5 and 6, the centrally located opposing flanges 140 and the second opposing flanges 164 form a pair of inwardly-directed grooves or channels 166 on each side 132 of the casing 130. The grooves or channels 166 are vertically -:
oriented and extend from the bottom edges of the casing .:
130 to a position substantially flush with the bottom -~
surface of the horizontally disposed collar 136 at the top of the casing 130. The purposes of the grooves or channels 166 will be described in subsequent paragraphs herein.
Still further, as shown primarily in Figures 2 and 3, the stationary upper housing 128 can also include a pair of tabs 168 extending downwardly from the lower surface or edge of each of the lateral side portions 132 of the casing 130. Only one pair of tabs 168 is shown in each of Figures 2 and 3. The tabs 168 can be ~-^
connected to or otherwise preferably integrally formed with the side portions 132 of casing 130. The purposes and function of the tabs 168 will also be described in -subsequent paragraphs herein.
Turning again primarily to Figures 2 and 3, the power center 100 in accordance with the invention further includes a manually-operable and retractable power carriage 170 having a normally closed or retracted position as shown by numerical reference 116 in Figure 1 and as also shown in the solid line format of Figure 4. Referring to Figure 2, the power carriage 170 can comprise an elongated receptacle box 172. As shown in -~
Figure 3, the receptacle box 172 can be formed by a ~-channeled member 174 having an elongated and vertically ( -23- ( disposed configuration. The channeled member 174 is substantially ~-shaped in horizontal cross section and -~
comprises in substantial part an arcuate and preferably -integrally formed chamber 176. The channeled member 174 -~
includes a series of pintles 178 extending inwardly ;
toward the interior of the channeled member 174 from an -~
interior surface thereof. Each of the pintles 178 -includes a threaded aperture 180 extending axially -therethrough. The channeled member 174 also includes a --~
lower base portion 182 which essentially encloses the --interior of the channeled member 174 at its bottom ~
portion. Although not specifically shown in the -drawings, the base portion 182 also includes threaded or non-threaded apertures extending therethrough for purposes of interconnecting other elements to the channel member 174 as subsequently described herein.
As further shown in Figure 3, the power carriage 170 also includes a face plate 184 having opposing side portions 186 interconnected at their upper edges by a top portion 188. At the lower portions of the opposing side portions 186, a fuse holder 190 is formed, preferably integral with the opposing side portions -~
186. The fuse holder includes a socket 192 opening ~
upwardly at the upper portion of the fuse holder 190. ---In addition to the foregoing, the face plate 184 -also includes a front panel 194 recessed within the opposing side portions 186 and top portion 188 so as to essentially form a rear surface of the face plate 184.
The front panel 194 includes a series of appropriately sized apertures 196 which are utilized, as subsequently described herein, for purposes of receiving the crown portions of electrical receptacles. Still further, the front panel 194 can include a series of holes 198. When ~-the face plate 184 is appropriately aligned with the ~-channeled member 174, the holes 198 will be in alignment with the pintles 178 and threaded apertures 180.

( -24- ( Accordingly, the face plate 184 can be rigidly secured to the channeled member 174 by means such as connecting screws 200 received through the holes 198 and threadably -engaging the pintles 178 through the threaded apertures :
180.
Prior to mounting the face plate 184 to the channeled member 174, a series of electrical receptacles 202 can be mounted within the receptacle box 172. As .:~
further shown in Figure 3, each of the electrical .
receptacles 202 can include a series of insulated conductors 204 extending from conventional terminals on ;.:
the receptacles 202. Through the use of conventional --means such as the wire connectors 206, the electrical conductors 204 can be appropriately connected to incoming conductors 208 which can form part of a power cord 210 having a terminal plug 212 for purposes of energizing the cord 210 from a main source of power. In addition to the foregoing electrical connections, an additional conductor 214 as shown in Figure 3 can be utilized with the conductors 204 and conductors 208 to interconnect a fuse 216 in an appropriate series connection between the receptacles 202 and the power -~-cord 210. Still further, the fuse 216 can first be mounted within the socket 192 of the fuse holder 190, prior to electrical interconnection with the receptacles ~~
202 and power cord 210.
To assemble the afore-described components of the receptacle box 172, the electrical receptacles 202 can be electrically connected to the power cord 210 through the conductors 204 and 208. In addition, the fuse 216 can be appropriately interconnected in series through the use of the additional conductor 214. The wire connectors 206 can be utilized for purposes of conductor interconnections. The fuse 216 can be appropriately -~
inserted into the socket 192 of the fuseholder 190. The electrical receptacles 202 can then be appropriately (- -25-positioned so that the crown portions thereof are received within the apertures 196 of the front panel 194 ~
of face plate 184. As earlier described, the screws 200 ...
can then be appropriately inserted through the holes 198 ---and threadably engage the apertures 180 within the --pintles 178 of the channeled member 174. To provide a further interconnection, additional screws 218 can be appropriately inserted through threaded apertures 220 in -~
a lower base portion 222 of the face plate 184, in -addition to engagement through threaded or non-threaded :.
apertures not shown in the lower base portion 182 of the .-.-channeled member 174. ~--Still further, and as also shown in Figure 3, the power carriage 170 can include an upper cover plate 224 which is horizontally disposed and sized so as to fit essentially flush with the horizontally disclosed collar 136 of the housing 128 when the receptacle box 172 is in a lower, retracted position. The cover plate 224 can be . secured to the upper portion of the channeled member 174 and face plate 184 in any suitable and conventional manner.
Still further, and as also shown in Figure 3, the channeled member 174 can include a series of outwardly extending tabs 226 located on each leg of the U-shaped configuration of member 174 and vertically aligned -therealong. The tab 226 can be utilized as a further means of interconnecting and aligning the channeled member 174 with the face plate 184. ~ore specifically, the face plate 184 can include a series of slots (not shown) extending rearwardly from the opposing side portions 186 and positioned so as to be in alignment with the tabs 226 when the face plate 184 is properly secured to the channeled member 174. ~:-Still further, as additionally shown in Figure 3, ~~
the face plate 184 of the receptacle box 172 can include ~
~5 a pair of bosses 228 extending laterally outward from ~ 26- ( the opposing side portions 186 of the face plate 184.
The bosses 228 are positioned slightly below the lowermost aperture 196 which receives one of the elec- ::
trical receptacles 202. As further shown in Figure 3, a pair of ledges 230 are also formed in the opposing side portions 186 of the face plate 184, and are positioned :~
slightly below the laterally extending bosses 228.
In addition, the power center 100 can include a pair :::
of elongated ledges 229 formed on the opposing side portions 186 at the upper portion of face plate 184. :
The ledges 229 are shown in Figure 3 and provide a ~-slight frictional engagement with the housing 128 so as -to prevent the carriage 170 from "free falling" when moving frGm an extended position to a lowered position. Also, the frictional engagement prevents the carriage 170 from "bouncing" or otherwise freely moving when the carriage is in the retracted position, absent external lifting forces on the carriage 170.
With the power carriage 170 being constructed with components as previously described herein and illustrated in Figure 3, the power carriage 170 and, in particular, the receptacle box 172 will have the ~-structure shown in Figure 2. With this structure, the receptacle box 172 can be characterized as comprising vertically disposed lateral side portions 232 formed by --the opposing side portions 186 of the face plate 184 and the legs of the U-shaped channeled member 174.
As primarily shown in Figures S and 6, the face --plate 184 of the receptacle box 172 includes a pair of outwardly directed flanges 234 located at the front edges of each of the side portions 186. The outwardly directed flanges 234 are appropriately sized so as to fit within one of the grooves 166 formed by the central -~
flange 140 and one of the side flanges 164 associated ~
with the casing 130. The previously described bosses ~~
228 and ledqes 230 are preferably formed along the ~~

surfaces of the outwardly directed flanges 234.
To assemble the power center 100 as described herein, the various components of the power carriage 170 --and receptacle box 172 can be assembled as previously -described with respect to Figure 3. Correspondingly, ~-the stationary housing 128 can be appropriately positioned and secured within the slot 122 of the work -surface 104. Thereafter, as shown in Figures 2 and 4, the power cord 210 can be inserted through the opening ~--formed by the casing 130 of the housing 128. The power carriage 170 can then be inserted into the stationary ,-upper housing 128 in either of two opposing directions.
More specifically, the power carriage 170 can be inserted into the housing 128 in a manner so that the outwardly-directed flanges 234 of the face plate 184 are received within one set of opposing grooves or channels 166 on the interior surface of the casing 130. With the flanges 234 positioned in one set of opposing channels 166 as shown in Figures 5 and 6, the electrical receptacles 202 would face toward the right side of the illustrations shown in Figures 5 and 6. Conversely, the power carriage 170 can be reversed in direction and the ~-outwardly-directed flanges 234 can be inserted into the ~
other pair of opposing channels or grooves 166. In this ~
opposing configuration, the electrical receptacles 202 ~~
would face toward the left side of the views illustrated in Figures 5 and 6.
Preferably, the bosses 228 are integrally formed on :-the outwardly-directed flanges 234 of the opposing side _:
portions 186 of face plate 184. In addition, the bosses 228 should be si~ed and at least slightly resilient or otherwise configured so that they can be "forced"
through the casing 130, when a slight amount of force is ~-manually exerted downwardly on the power carriage 170. --As primarily shown in Figure 7, although each groove or channel 166 is formed intermediate the central flange ( -28- ( 140 and one of the side flanges 164, an inwardly-directed ledge or lip 236 is located at the upper portion of the groove or channel 166 but positioned slightly below the horizontally disposed collar 136.
Preferably, the ledge or lip 236 can be integrally -~
formed with the corresponding central flange 140 and corresponding adjacent side flanges 164. The lip 236 ~
can be of various sizes, but preferably has a vertical ;
dimension equal to or less than the distance between one of the bosses 228 and a corresponding ledge 230 on an -outwardly-directed flange 234. As described in ,7"~
subse~uent paragraphs herein, as the power carriage 170 -is moved upwardly, the ledges 230 will abut the undersides of the lips 236 w thin the grooves 166, thereby preventing any further upward movement.
However, with the ledges 230 having the particular wedge-shaped configuration as shown primarily in Figures 2, 3 and 7 and with the side portions 232 of the power carriage 170 being slightly resilient, the ledges 230 can be forced downwardly, if necessary, past the lips 236 of the grooves 166.
The operation of the power center 100 will now be described with respect to Figures 1-7. With the power --center 100 in a closed and retracted position as shown ---in solid line format in Figure 4, the upper cover plate 224 of the power carriage 170 is essentially flush with the housing collar 136. The power carriage 170 is maintained in the closed position by means of gravity, i.e., merely the weight of the power carriage 170.
However, if desired, it is also possible to include an additional thickness in the outwardly directed flanges 234 at the upper portions thereof so that there is some frictional engagement between the outwardly-directed ~s-flanges 234 and the surfaces of the grooves 166 when the power carriage 170 is in the closed position.
When the user desires to extend the power center 100 --( -29- ( upwardly by extending the power carriage 170 out of the slot 122 and the work surface 104 into an open position, --the user can position his/her fingers below the portion of the cover plate 224 which extends to the right side --of Figures 5 and 6. The user can then exert upwardly- .~
directed forces against the lower portion of the cover -plate 224. These forces will cause the power carriage -:
170 to move upwardly relative to the housing ].28. This -upward movement will continue until the bosses 228 on the outwardly-directed flanges 234 contact the lower -portions of the grooves 166 formed on the interior ~ :
surface of the casing 130.
The bosses 228 are of an appropriate size and of a sufficient flexibility or resiliency so that the bosses 228 can be essentially "squeezed" upwardly through the grooves 166 against the upper inner surfaces of the grooves 166. To achieve this movement, the user must exert a somewhat greater upwardly-directed force on the power carriage 170. The bosses 228 are also of a size and a sufficient resiliency so that manually-exerted forces can readily force the bosses 228 past the lips 236 and thereabove.
However, as the power carriage 170 is moved upwardly -a sufficient distance, the lowermost edge of the casing `-130 will abut the lips 236 of the receptacle box 172.
Again, however, the ledges 230 are of an appropriate size and sufficient flexibility or resiliency so that the ledges 230 can be essentially "squeezed" upwardly through the grooves 166 against the inner surfaces of the grooves 166.
However, as the power carriage 170 is moved upwardly a sufficient distance, the lowermost edges of the lips 236 will abut the ledges 230. The ledges 230 and lips 236 are of appropriate relative sizes so as to -:-completely prevent any further upward movement of the receptacle box 172. If the user then releases the ~ 30- (-forces exerted on the power carriage 170, the receptacle box 172 will extend downwardly only a relatively small --distance to the extent that the bosses 228 abut the inner periphery of the horizontally disposed collar 136. The actual distance between the bosses 228 and the ledges 230 can be of any desired length, but should be -~
appropriately sized so that when manual forces are released from the receptacle box 172, the box 172 is -~
located in an upward-extended position with each of the -~
electrical receptacles 202 readily accessible to the ---user. ...
With the bosses 228 supported on the upper edge of the collar 138 of the upper housing 128, the power carriage 170 is in the opened position as shown in dotted line format in Figure 4 and in Figure 7. In this position, the electrical receptacles 202 will be located above the upper surface of the work surface 104 and the horizontal plane of the veneer 124. It is apparent that the actual position of the receptacles 202 relative to the plane or upper surface of the work surface 104 will be dependent on the initial positioning of the receptacles 202 in the receptacle box 172, and the ~-positioning of the bosses 228.
With the receptacles 202 positioned above the work ~~
surface 104 and external to the slot 122, the user can ~~-then readily access any of the receptacles 202 to plug in a desired electrical device cord 238 and plug 240.
When the electrical devices have been energized, the user can then press downwardly on the upper cover plate 224 with a force sufficient so as to "squeeze" the bosses 228 into the corresponding grooves or channels 166 and past the lips 236. Accordingly, the power carriage 170 will then move downwardly. When the -~
receptacle box 172 moves downwardly a sufficient distance so that the bosses 228 are beyond the grooves ~
166, the weight of the receptacle box 172 will ( -31- ( essentially cause the power carriage 170 to move relatively freely in a downward direction.
As the power carriage 170 is moved downwardly, the electrical device power cord 238 will tend to position ;~
itself in a manner so as to extend through the opening -~
242 (Figures 5 and 6) formed between the edge of the cover plate 224 and the interior edge of the horizon-tally disposed collar 136. In accordance with the -foregoing, the electrical device connected to the device power cord 238 and plug 240 is thus energized, with the power source connections substantially hidden from view. In this manner, the power center 100 in accor-dance with the invention advantagecusly provides an aesthetically desirable power source outlet, with the ~
further advantage that the power center 100 includes electrical receptacles 202 which can be extended up-wardly from the work surface 104 so as to be made readily accessible to the user, and yet still remain usable even when the power carriage 170 is in a closed, retracted position.
Still further, the power center 100 is advantageous in that it does not incorporate any elements such as spring assemblies or similar mechanisms for purposes of power carriage movement. In addition, the user can --readily move the power carriage 170 upwardly or down- -~
wardly relative to the housing 128 without the necessity of using special tools, rotating screws, or undertaking any similar actions. The user must only exert forces upwardly or downwardly to move the power carriage 170 in the desired direction.
It should also be mentioned that the grooves 166 formed by the flanges 140 and 164 of the casing 130 also serve to provide in part a guide for the receptacle box .~-172. That is, the grooves 166 provide channels in which -~-the receptacle box 172 can move in an upward or downward direction. The grooves 166 thus provide a means to ( -32- ( maintain the vertical alignment of the receptacle box 172 relative to the housing 128. Furthermore, the casing 130 essentially comprises a symmetrical structure whereby two mirror half-portions can be formed by taking a vertical section through the middle of the casing -130. Accordingly, as previously described, the receptacle box 172 can be located on either side of the central flanges 140. -~
Other advantages of the power center 100 in accor- --dance with the invention can be achieved with the addi-tion of various other components to the power center 100. For example, as shown in Figures 4 and 7, an extended and elongated cover tube 244 can be incorpo-rated within the power center 100. More specifically, the cover tube 244 can be in the form of an elongated structure constructed by various means, such as extru-sion processes. The cover tube 244 can be essentially hollow and interconnected by various means at the top portion thereof to the tabs 168 previously described and shown in Figures 2 and 3.
For example, the cover tube 244 can comprise a hollow sleeve 246 having a shape substantially conforming to the shape of the casing 130 of the upper housing 128. At the upper portion of the sleeve 246, the sleeve 246 can be connected to the tabs 168 by means ~~`
of connecting screws, rivets or the like (not shown).
The lower end of the sleeve 246 can be completely open, or, alternatively, can include a partial lower cover (not shown). In either event, the main electrical source, power cord 210 and associated plug 212 can be extended through the lower opening of the sleeve 246.
The addition of the extended cover tube 244 provides a means for achieving additional guidance of the main power source cord 210 to an appropriate electrical connection. In addition, the extended cover tube 244 also provides additional storage area for electrical ~ -33- ~

apparatus power cords 238 in a manner so that they will not interfere with a user having his/her legs extending below the work surface 104 or otherwise become entangled with other apparatus or structures located below the -~
work surface 104. --~
As previously described, the extended cover tube 244 -~
can be interconnected with the upper housing 128 by -means of connecting screws, rivets or tne like directly connected to the tabs 168 shown in Figures 2 and 3.
Alternatively, however, other arrangements can be -~
utilized for interconnecting the extended cover tube 244 to the stationary housing 128. For example, as shown in Figures 8 and 9, the tabs 168 of the upper housing 128 can each include a ledge or lip 248 extending laterally --outwardly from the corresponding tab 168. Each of the ledges or lips 248 can have a substantially wedge-shaped configuration, with the lower portions thereof having a beveled structure. Correspondingly, the sleeve 246 of the extended cover tube 244 can include slots 250 located so as to be in alignment with the tabs 168. To interconnect the cover tube 244 to the upper housing 128, the sleeve 246 can be positioned below the housing 128 and then extended upwardly toward the tabs 168. The tabs 168 can be of a sufficient flexibility and resiliency so that they will be "squeezed" inwardly as ~
the sleeve 246 contacts the ledges or lip 248. As the upper edges of the slots 250 in the sleeve 246 extend above the upper surface of the ledges or lips 248, the tabs 168 can then again flex outwardly. As the tabs 168 flex outwardly, the sleeve 246 is supported on the ledges or lips 248. Again, it should be emphasized that the tabs 168 should have a sufficient resiliency so as to allow an inward flexure during this movement. Also, -~-the beveled configuration of the lower portions of the ledges or lips 248 assists in this movement.
As an alternative configuration, and as shown in f -34-Figure 10, the tabs 168 can be replaced with a hori-zontally disposed and elongated flange 252. This flange 252 can also have a corresponding elongated ledge or lip 254 extending lengthwise on the outer surface of the flange 252. A corresponding elongated slot 256 can be positioned on opposing sides of the sleeve 246 of the ~-~
cover tube 244. Again, as the sleeve 246 is moved upwardly toward the flan~e 252, the flange will --sufficiently flex so as to allow the upper edge of the slot 256 to move above the upper edge of the ledge -~
254. After such movement, the flange 254 will again -flex outwardly and the extended cover tube 244 will essentially be locked in position on the stationary upper housing 128. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that other arrangements for interconnecting the extended cover tube 244 to the stationary housing 128 can be utilized.
Still further, it will be apparent to those skilled in the pertinent arts that other embodiments of power centers in accordance with the invention can be designed. For example, the power center 100 can include a second separate cover plate (not shown in the drawings) which can be utilized to at least partially ~--enclose the opening 242 formed in the stationary upper ~-~
housing 128 when the power carriage 170 is in a closed, ~~~
retracted position. However, even with such a second cover plate, it is preferable in accordance with the invention to configure the cover plate so as to still allow a power cord opening between the cover plate 224 of the power carriage 170 and the second cover plate.
Still further, although optional with respect to the principal concepts of power centers in accordance with the invention, the power center 100 can also include a ~
set of flexible brushes or the like which can extend ~-outwardly from the cover plate 224 and extend over the power cord opening 242. The brushes can be secured to ~

( -35-the cover plate in any suitable manner, such as by means of a notch or similar arrangement in the cover plate, in which one end of the brushes could be secured. The brushes could provide a flexible means for allowing --~
electrical device cords to be energized from the power center 100 when the power center 100 is in a normally closed and retracted position, while still providing protection from foreign objects accidentally falling into or being inserted within the power cord opening -242. -~
It will be apparent to those skilled in the perti-nent arts that still other embodiments of power centers in accordance with the invention can be designed. That is, the principles of a manually operable and retracta-ble power center are not limited to the specific embodi-ments described herein. For example, mechanisms other than that described herein can be employed to rigidly secure the stationary housing 128 to the work surface 104. Accordingly, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that modifications and other variations of the above-described illustrative embodiments of the invention may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concepts of the invention.

Claims (3)

1. A power center adapted to be mounted in a desk or other furniture item having a work surface, and comprising a slot formed in the work surface, said power center comprising:
stationary housing means adapted to be mounted within said slot;
electrical receptacle means for supplying electrical power from an interconnected common power source to selectively interconnected electrical devices;
carriage means received within said housing means for mounting said electrical receptacle means so as to be vertically movable with respect to said housing means between a closed, retracted position and an extended, open position;
stop means mounted to said carriage means for preventing said carriage means from being extended upwardly from said housing means greater than a predetermined distance;
first support means mounted to said carriage means for supporting said carriage means in said extended open position, said first support means abutting said housing means when said carriage means is supported in said extended, open position;
second support means mounted to said housing means for providing abutting support for said first support means to support said carriage means in said extended, open position, the vertical distance between said first support means and said stop means being slightly greater than the height of said second support means; and third support means mounted to said carriage means for providing a slight frictional engagement between said carriage means and said housing means when said carriage means is being moved in a vertical disposition relative to said housing means.
2. A power center in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that:
said carriage means comprises a pair of opposing lateral sides; and said third support means comprises a pair of integrally formed and elongated ledges extending slightly outwardly from said opposing lateral sides, and positioned near an upper portion of said carriage means.
3. A power center adapted to be mounted in a desk or other furniture item having a work surface, and comprising a slot formed in the work surface, said power center comprising:
stationary housing means adapted to be mounted within said slot;
electrical receptacle means for supplying electrical power from an interconnected common power source to selectively interconnected electrical devices;
carriage means received within said housing means for mounting said electrical receptacle means so as to be vertically movable with respect to said housing means between a closed, retracted position and an extended, open position;
first support means mounted to said carriage means for supporting said carriage means in said extended, open position, said first support means abutting said housing means when said carriage means is supported in said extended, open position; and securing means for securing said housing means to said work surface, with said securing means comprising a series of graduated lips resiliently mounted to each corner of said housing means and adapted to clamp onto said work surface within an interior of said slot.
CA 613270 1989-09-26 1989-09-26 Retractable power center Expired - Lifetime CA1334540C (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
CA 613270 CA1334540C (en) 1989-09-26 1989-09-26 Retractable power center

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
CA 613270 CA1334540C (en) 1989-09-26 1989-09-26 Retractable power center

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
CA1334540C true CA1334540C (en) 1995-02-21

Family

ID=4140694

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
CA 613270 Expired - Lifetime CA1334540C (en) 1989-09-26 1989-09-26 Retractable power center

Country Status (1)

Country Link
CA (1) CA1334540C (en)

Cited By (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US8475186B1 (en) 2010-10-13 2013-07-02 Viable, Inc. Guest connector assembly

Cited By (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US8475186B1 (en) 2010-10-13 2013-07-02 Viable, Inc. Guest connector assembly

Similar Documents

Publication Publication Date Title
US5375728A (en) Assembly for covering a wall-mounted electrical outlet
US6825414B2 (en) Exterior mounting block for electrical fixtures
US6987225B2 (en) Convertible electrical device cover and method for installing same
US4103125A (en) Modular electrical switch/outlet assembly
US4443654A (en) Flush floor fitting
US6417450B1 (en) Cover assembly for in-floor devices
US4059327A (en) Recessed electrical outlet
US5899761A (en) Power strip
US5107072A (en) Flush-mounted interfloor power/communication connection apparatus with debris protection
US6637161B1 (en) Floor system
US5357874A (en) Channel assembly with snap-in insert
US3433886A (en) Recessible electrical service device
US5008491A (en) Floor box for access floors
US4721476A (en) Electrical connection box used in conjunction with raised floors
US6051788A (en) Electrical outlet safety plate
US6761582B1 (en) Receptacle-mounted cover plate to hide electrical socket face
US5230552A (en) Worksurface utilities module
US5600926A (en) Panel connecting arrangements
US4828513A (en) Electrical housing assembly for removable placement on a table top
US5673522A (en) Junction box forlow profile raised panel flooring
US4603229A (en) Utility module for walls
US6147304A (en) Electrical outlet box
US5575668A (en) Temporary power/data tap
US6175078B1 (en) Flush poke-through wiring fitting having a height adjustable data jack mounting bracket
US7396997B2 (en) Hinged weatherproof electrical box cover

Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
MKEX Expiry