US20060137266A1 - Folding pet staircase - Google Patents

Folding pet staircase Download PDF

Info

Publication number
US20060137266A1
US20060137266A1 US11/313,135 US31313505A US2006137266A1 US 20060137266 A1 US20060137266 A1 US 20060137266A1 US 31313505 A US31313505 A US 31313505A US 2006137266 A1 US2006137266 A1 US 2006137266A1
Authority
US
United States
Prior art keywords
tread
staircase
treads
links
intermediate
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.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11/313,135
Inventor
Robert Whalen
Original Assignee
Whalen Robert F
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
Priority to US63989504P priority Critical
Application filed by Whalen Robert F filed Critical Whalen Robert F
Priority to US11/313,135 priority patent/US20060137266A1/en
Publication of US20060137266A1 publication Critical patent/US20060137266A1/en
Priority claimed from US12/421,757 external-priority patent/US8091294B2/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

Links

Images

Classifications

    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E06DOORS, WINDOWS, SHUTTERS, OR ROLLER BLINDS IN GENERAL; LADDERS
    • E06CLADDERS
    • E06C1/00Ladders in general
    • E06C1/52Ladders in general with non-rigid longitudinal members
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01KANIMAL HUSBANDRY; CARE OF BIRDS, FISHES, INSECTS; FISHING; REARING OR BREEDING ANIMALS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NEW BREEDS OF ANIMALS
    • A01K1/00Housing animals; Equipment therefor
    • A01K1/02Pigsties; Dog-kennels; Rabbit-hutches or the like
    • A01K1/035Devices for use in keeping domestic animals, e.g. fittings in housings or dog beds

Abstract

A method and apparatus are provided, for allowing pets to ascend to and descend thereupon, through use of a foldable staircase having a plurality of stair treads operatively connected by articulating links in such a manner that the treads can be pivoted in unison from a stowed position of the staircase, in which the treads are substantially stacked upon one another, to a plurality of extended positions, in which the links position the treads in a spaced and parallel relationship to one another. A latch selectively secures the staircase in a selected one of the extended positions. The latch is configured for preventing further pivoting of the treads in either direction between the stowed and extended positions of the staircase, when the latch is engaged.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS
  • This patent application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/639,895, filed Dec. 22, 2004, the disclosure and teachings of which are incorporated herein in their entireties.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates generally to devices which allow pets, such as dogs, to ascend to and descend from elevated surfaces, such as truck beds, vehicle interiors, or tables used for veterinary or grooming services, under their power without the need for jumping or being lifted, and more particularly to a foldable staircase for use by pets.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • There is a need for a device that allows pets, such as large dogs, to walk up to and down from elevated surfaces, so that the pet is not required to risk injury while jumping up to or down from the elevated surface, and so that a pet owner or handler is not required to risk injury to either the pet or himself/herself in attempting to lift the pet up to or down from the elevated surface. It is also desirable that the device be lightweight, and collapsible to a compact folded size so that it may be easily transported and handled by persons carrying or setting up the device. It is further desirable that the device be capable of quick adjustment to operate between surfaces that are located at various heights from one another.
  • Prior devices involving fixed or folding ramps do not work well for use in meeting the above described needs for several reasons. First, pets such as dogs have difficulty in walking down a ramp, and tend to walk off the edge of the ramp, because they cannot see the ramp below them. The angle of ascent/descent of a ramp which can be readily negotiated by the pet must typically be rather shallow, making the ramp too long to be useable in tight spaces, and difficult to stow, particularly if the ramp is not foldable to less than its fully extended length.
  • Experience has shown that devices using steps work better than devices using ramps, because pets become acclimated to negotiating steps during day-to-day activities. Experience has also shown that pets can easily negotiate substantially steeper angles of ascent and descent while using staircase-type devices. The steeper angle of ascent and descent and construction of staircase-type devices also helps pets to ascend or descend, without walking off of the edges of the steps, because the animal can see the steps above and below them, while ascending or descending, more readily than they can see a ramp surface. The greater angle of ascent/descent also allows a device using steps to be shorter than a ramp would be for a given difference in elevation between the elevated surface and the floor or ground.
  • Prior devices using steps, however, whether rigid or folding, fall short of meeting the needs and desirable attributes described above. It is desirable, therefore, to provide an improved apparatus and method for allowing pets to ascend to and descend from an elevated surface, in a manner that better fulfills one or more of the needs and desirable attributes described above.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention provides an improved method and apparatus for allowing pets to ascend to and descend thereupon, through use of a foldable staircase having stair treads operatively connected by articulating links in such a manner that the treads can be pivoted in unison from a stowed position of the staircase, in which the treads are substantially stacked upon one another, to a plurality of extended positions, in which the links position the treads in a spaced and parallel relationship to one another. The foldable staircase may also include a latch for selectively securing the staircase in a selected one of the extended positions. The latch may be configured for preventing further pivoting, once engaged, of the treads in either or both directions between the stowed and extended positions of the staircase.
  • The treads and articulating links may be configured so that in a fully extended position, the treads form a relatively flat surface, thereby allowing the staircase in the fully extended position to be used as a litter, or stretcher, for transporting a person or an animal. The staircase may also be configured so that the links may be removed and used as splints for stabilizing fractured bones. Where the staircase includes a latch, the latch may be configured for selective disconnection, so that the staircase may be pivoted to the fully extended position only when the latch is disconnected. Alternatively, the latch may be configured for selectively locking the staircase in the fully extended position.
  • A foldable staircase, according to the invention, may also include a covering for one or more of the treads, such as carpeting or rubber matting. Alternatively, the upper surface of the tread may include an integrally formed non-slip surface.
  • A foldable staircase, according to the invention, may further include a non-slip element on the underside of one or both of a top and a bottom tread of the staircase. The non-slip element may take many forms, such as a plurality of buttons of a resilient material such as rubber, or a strip or sheet of resilient material attached to the underside of the top and/or bottom tread.
  • One or more of the treads may include hand-holds for facilitating pivoting the staircase between the stowed position and extended positions. The staircase may be constructed of waterproof or moisture tolerant materials, such as plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, or plated metal, so that the staircase can be used in wet conditions, or for entry into, or egress from, a boat or other watercraft. The treads may also include openings therein for passage of water from a top surface to a bottom surface of the tread.
  • In one form of the invention, a foldable staircase includes a plurality of treads having opposite side surfaces thereof joined by articulating links that are operatively connected to and disposed adjacently outward from the opposite side surfaces. The staircase may include a top tread, a bottom tread, and one or more intermediate treads, with each tread including three attachment points for the articulating links disposed along the opposite sides, with each tread including a front tread attachment point disposed adjacent the front edge of the tread, a rear tread attachment point disposed adjacent the rear edge of the tread, and an intermediate tread attachment point disposed substantially halfway between the front and rear tread attachment points along each of the opposite edges of the tread.
  • The intermediate treads are attached to one another, and to the top and bottom treads, by pairs of long links having an intermediate long link connection point pivotably attached to the intermediate tread attachment points of a given intermediate tread, and upper and lower long link connection points disposed at opposite axial ends of the long links. The upper long link connection points are pivotably connected to the front tread attachment points of either the top tread, or another adjacent intermediate tread disposed above the given intermediate tread. The lower long link connection points are attached to the rear tread attachment points of either the bottom tread or another adjacent intermediate tread disposed below the given intermediate tread.
  • The top tread is further pivotably connected to an adjacent intermediate tread below by a pair of short articulating links. Specifically, the short articulating links each include an upper short link connection point pivotably connected to the intermediate tread attachment point of the top tread, and a lower short link connection point pivotably connected to the rear tread attachment point of the intermediate tread below and adjacent the top step.
  • In similar fashion, the bottom tread is further pivotably connected to an adjacent intermediate tread above the bottom tread by a second pair of the short articulating links. Specifically, the second pair of short articulating links each include a lower short link connection point pivotably connected to the intermediate tread attachment point of the bottom tread, and an upper short link connection point pivotably connected to the front tread attachment point of the intermediate tread above and adjacent the bottom step.
  • A foldable staircase, according to the invention, may include one or more latches, which when engaged, secure the staircase in a selected one of the extended positions. When engaged, the latch, or latches, may preclude further pivoting of the articulating links. A latch, or latches, according to the invention, may be operatively connected, at opposite ends thereof, to the intermediate attachment points of two adjacent treads.
  • In one form of the invention, a foldable staircase may include a pair of latches each having an elongated body including a first end pivotably connected to one of the front tread attachment points of the bottom tread. The body of the latches may also define an elongated slot, extending along a longitudinal axis of the latch, for sliding receipt therein of a pivot member extending outward from a short link mid-link connection point. The slot further includes a series of notches therein for engaging the pivot member to prevent further pivoting of the treads between the stowed and extended positions, to thereby lock the staircase into rigid structure at a selected one of the extended positions.
  • In some forms of the invention, the pivot member may be selectively disengaged from the short link arm attached to the lower tread, to thereby allow the staircase to be pivoted to the fully extended position for use as a litter or stretcher.
  • The short articulating links may have a length between the upper and lower short link connection points that is substantially equal to the length between the intermediate long link connection point and both the upper and lower long link connection points of the long articulating links. It may also be desirable, for economy of manufacturing, to have identical short links connecting the top and bottom treads to the intermediate treads, with all short links including the mid-link connection point for receiving the pivot member.
  • The short and long articulating links may be pivotably attached to the treads by threaded fasteners, such as shoulder bolts, which provide a controlled clearance fit to facilitate articulation of the links with respect to the treads. The pivot member may include a clevis pin extending through the short link attached to the bottom tread and the slot in the latch, and held in place by a cotter pin extending through a cross-drilled hole in the end of the clevis pin. A washer may be provided inboard of the nuts on the links and/or the cotter pin, to spread contact loads into the links, the latches and the treads.
  • In another form of the invention, a foldable staircase apparatus is provided, which includes a foldable staircase, as described above, and a staircase holder adapted for receiving the staircase in the stowed position. The holder may be adapted for attachment to a surface, such as the tailgate of a truck or a sport utility vehicle, or a trunk lid of a vehicle.
  • A foldable staircase apparatus, according to the invention may also include a foldable staircase, as described above, and a mounting bracket for pivotably attaching the staircase to a vehicle, a watercraft, or a table, so that the staircase may be pivoted about the mounting bracket in either or both of the stowed and extended positions of the staircase.
  • An apparatus, according to the invention, may also take the form of a kit including one or more additional treads, and additional intermediate links and connection hardware for increasing the number of treads in the staircase so that the staircase can be used to allow the pet to ascend or descend greater distances while traversing the staircase.
  • The treads of a staircase, according to the invention, may also be configured to have a great enough depth, between the front and rear edges thereof, so that a pet ascending the staircase cannot see an open space between the treads.
  • The invention may also take the form of a method for constructing a foldable staircase, according to the invention, or a method for using a foldable staircase in a manner in accordance with the invention.
  • Other aspects, objectives and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following description of the invention, in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
  • Other aspects, objectives and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective exploded view of a first exemplary embodiment of a foldable staircase, according to the invention, having four treads and a pair of latches for selectively securing the staircase in one of several extended positions.
  • FIG. 2 is a right side view of the foldable staircase of FIG. 1, latched in the highest extended position.
  • FIG. 3 is right side view of the foldable staircase of FIG. 1, latched in a lowest extended position;
  • FIG. 4 is right side view of the foldable staircase of FIG. 1, in a fully extended position, with the latch disconnected.
  • FIGS. 5A-C are front, right side and bottom views, respectively of the foldable staircase of FIG. 1, in a stowed position.
  • FIG. 6 is a right side view of a second exemplary embodiment of a foldable staircase, according to the invention, having five treads, but otherwise identical to the embodiment of FIGS. 1-5C, with the foldable staircase latched in the highest extended position.
  • FIG. 7 is right side view of the foldable staircase of FIG. 6, latched in a lowest extended position;
  • FIGS. 8A and 8B are front, right side views, respectively of the foldable staircase of FIG. 6, in a stowed position.
  • FIG. 9 is an enlarged right side view of a latch of the foldable staircases of FIGS. 1-8B.
  • FIGS. 10 and 11 are bottom and cross sectional views respectively, of the treads of the foldable staircases of FIGS. 1-9.
  • FIGS. 12-15 are enlarged cross-sectional views showing connections between the components of the foldable staircases of FIGS. 1-8B, taken along lines as indicated in FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 16 is an alternate embodiment of a latch, for a foldable staircase, according to the invention.
  • FIG. 17 is a perspective view of an alternate exemplary embodiment of a foldable staircase, according to the invention, showing a second exemplary embodiment of a latch, according to the invention.
  • FIGS. 18-21 are enlarged perspective illustrations of a portion of the latch, of the embodiment shown in FIG. 17, illustrating various details of the construction and operation of alternate embodiments of the latch shown in FIG. 17.
  • FIG. 22 is an exemplary embodiment of a foldable staircase apparatus, according to the invention, including a foldable staircase and a holder for receiving the staircase in a stowed position.
  • FIG. 23 is an exemplary embodiment of a foldable staircase apparatus, according to the invention, including a foldable staircase and a mounting bracket adapted for attachment to the top step of the staircase.
  • FIG. 24 shows an exemplary embodiment of the invention, having a foldable staircase pivotably attached by a mounting bracket to a watercraft.
  • FIG. 25 shows an exemplary embodiment of the invention having a foldable staircase and a mounting bracket for clamping the foldable staircase to a ladder of the type extending over the edge of a watercraft, or positioned along the edge of a swimming pool, pier, or dock.
  • While the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit it to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • FIG. 1 shows a first exemplary embodiment of the invention, in the form of a foldable staircase 100 including a plurality of treads 102, 104, 106, 108 having opposite side surfaces thereof joined by articulating links 110, 112 that are operatively connected to and disposed adjacently outward from the opposite side surfaces of the treads 102, 104, 106, 108. Specifically, the staircase 10 includes a top tread 102, a bottom tread 104, an upper intermediate tread 106 and a lower intermediate tread 108. It will be noted that all of the treads 102, 104, 106, 108 of the exemplary embodiment are identical, but this is not a requirement of the invention. It will further be noted that all of the treads 102, 104, 106, 108 include a carpet piece 105 attached to the upper surface of the treads 102, 104, 106, 108, but other embodiments of the invention may use different treatments of the top surfaces of the treads 102, 104, 106, 108.
  • Each tread 102, 104, 106, 108 includes three attachment points 114, 116, 118 for the articulating links 110, 112 disposed along the opposite sides, with only selected ones of the attachment points along the right side (as shown in FIG. 1) of the foldable staircase 100 being labeled with reference numerals in FIG. 1, for clarity of illustration. Specifically, each of the treads 102, 104, 106, 108 includes a front tread attachment point 114 disposed adjacent the front edge 120 of the tread 102, 104, 106, 108, a rear tread attachment point 116 disposed adjacent the rear edge 122 of the tread 102, 104, 106, 108, and an intermediate tread attachment point 118 disposed substantially halfway between the front and rear tread attachment points 114, 116 along each of the opposite edges of the tread 102, 104, 106, 108.
  • The intermediate treads 106, 108 are attached to one another by a two pairs of long links 110 having an intermediate long link connection point 124 pivotably attached to the intermediate tread attachment points 118 of the upper and lower intermediate treads 106, 108, and upper and lower long link connection points 126, 128 disposed at opposite axial ends of the long links 110. The upper long link connection points 126 of the long links 110 connected to the intermediate tread attachment points 118 of the upper intermediate tread 106 are pivotably connected to the front tread attachment points 114 of the top tread 102, and the lower long link connection points 128 of the long links 110 connected to the intermediate tread attachment points 118 of the upper intermediate tread 106 are pivotably connected to the rear tread attachment points 116 of the lower intermediate tread 108.
  • In similar fashion, the upper long link connection points 126 of the long links 110 connected to the intermediate tread attachment points 118 of the lower intermediate tread 108 are pivotably connected to the front tread attachment points 114 of the upper intermediate tread 106, and the lower long link connection points 128 of the long links 110 connected to the intermediate tread attachment points 118 of the lower intermediate tread 108 are pivotably connected to the rear tread attachment points 114 of the bottom tread 104.
  • The top tread 102 is further pivotably connected to the upper intermediate tread 106 by a pair of short articulating links 112. Specifically, the short articulating links 112 each include an upper short link connection point 130 pivotably connected to the intermediate tread attachment point 118 of the top tread 102, and a lower short link 132 connection point pivotably connected to the rear tread attachment point 116 of the upper intermediate tread 106.
  • In similar fashion, the bottom tread 104 is further pivotably connected to the lower intermediate tread 108 by a second pair of the short articulating links 112. Specifically, the short articulating links 112 attached to the bottom tread 104 each include an upper short link connection point 130 pivotably connected to the front tread attachment point 114 of the lower intermediate tread 108, and a lower short link 132 connection point pivotably connected to the intermediate tread attachment point 118 of the bottom tread 104.
  • As shown in FIGS. 12-15, the short and long articulating links 110, 112 are be pivotably attached to the treads 102, 104, 106, 108 by threaded connections including shoulder bolts 134 secured by locking nuts 136, which provide a controlled clearance fit to facilitate articulation of the links 110, 112 with respect to the treads 102, 104, 106, 108. Washers 138 are provided, inboard of the locking nuts 136 and the head of the shoulder bolts 134, to spread contact loads into the links 110, 112 and the treads 102, 104, 106, 108.
  • The first exemplary embodiment of the foldable staircase 100 includes a pair of latches 140, as shown in FIGS. 1-4 and FIG. 9, each having an elongated body 142 including a first end 144 pivotably connected to one of the front tread attachment points 114 of the bottom tread 104, by a threaded connection as shown in FIG. 14, including a bolt 134, a locking nut 136 and a pair of washers 138. The body 142 of the latches 140 also defines an elongated slot 146, extending parallel to a longitudinal axis 148 of the latch 140, for sliding receipt therein, as shown in FIGS. 9 and 15 of a pivot member, in the form of a clevis pin 150 extending outward from a short link mid-link connection point 152 in the short links 110 attached to the bottom tread 104. The slot 146 further includes a series of notches 154 therein for engaging the clevis pin 150, to prevent further pivoting of the treads 102, 104, 106, 108 between the stowed and extended positions, to thereby lock the staircase 100 into rigid structure at a selected one of the extended positions.
  • The clevis pin 150 is secured by a cotter pin 156 extending through a cross-drilled hole in the end of the clevis pin 150. Washers 158 provided inboard of the head of the clevis pin 150 and the cotter pin 156, to spread contact loads into the links 112 and the latches 140. By removing the cotter pin 156, the clevis pin 150 may be selectively disengaged from the short link arm 112 attached to the lower tread 104, to thereby allow the staircase 100 to be pivoted to the fully extended position for use as a litter or stretcher.
  • The short articulating links 112 of the exemplary embodiment have a length between the upper and lower short link connection points 130, 132 that is substantially equal to the length between the intermediate long link connection point 124 and both the upper and lower long link connection points 126, 128 of the long articulating links 110. For economy of manufacturing, the short links 110 connecting the top and bottom treads 102, 104 to the intermediate treads 106, 108 are identical, with all of the short links 112 attached to both the top and bottom treads 102, 104 including the mid-link connection point 152 for receiving the clevis pin 150.
  • As will be seen from examining the drawings, the treads 102, 104, 106, 108, the short and long articulating links 110, 112, and the latches 140 are all configured in the exemplary embodiment to include reinforcing ribs, to provide lightweight but rigid structural members. The treads 102, 104, 106, 108, the short and long articulating links 110, 112, and the latches 140 may be made from a variety of materials, such as metal, plastic, or composite materials, fabricated by a wide variety of methods. In the first exemplary embodiment of the foldable staircase 100 described above, it is contemplated that the treads 102, 104, 106, 108, the short and long articulating links 110,112 and the latches 140 are preferably formed form a molded plastic or composite material.
  • As shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the treads 102, 104, 106, 108 also include a plurality of regularly spaced cup-shaped segments 158 extending downward from the step surface of the treads 102, 104, 106, 108. These cup-shaped segments 158, in the exemplary embodiment, are configured generally as right circular cylinders, with open tops and closed bottoms, but with the closed bottoms having a through hole centrally located therein. The through-holes in the cup-shaped segments 158 serve dual functions by letting water flow through the treads 102, 104, 106, 108, and by allowing attachment of components to the treads 102, 104, 106, 108. Specifically, as shown in FIG. 11, anti skid buttons 160 are attached to the underside of the top step 102, by means of the through holes in the cup-shaped segments 158, to provide stability for the upper end of the staircase 100 when it is resting on an elevated surface.
  • As further shown in FIGS. 1, 10 and 11, the front and rear edges of the treads 102, 104, 106, 108 also include integrally formed hand-holds 162 to facilitate pivoting the treads 102, 104, 106, 108 between the stowed and extended positions.
  • FIGS. 6, 7 and 8A-8B, show a second exemplary embodiment of the invention in the form of a foldable staircase 200 having 5 treads, rather than 4 treads, but otherwise identical to the first exemplary embodiment of a foldable staircase 100 described above. Specifically, the second exemplary embodiment of a foldable staircase 200, according to the invention, includes a top tread 202, a bottom tread 204, an upper intermediate tread 206, a lower intermediate tread 210, and a middle intermediate tread 209, operatively connected by on opposite sides (only the right side being shown in the drawings) by pairs of long articulating links 210 and short articulating links 212, and having a pair of latches 240, with the construction and operative connection of components of the second exemplary embodiment of a foldable staircase 200 being the same manner as described above in relation to the first exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 16 shows a first alternate embodiment of a latch apparatus 163, according to the invention, for locking the treads of a foldable according to the invention, into a desired stowed or extended position. The latch apparatus 163 includes a tie bolt 164 and lever-nut 166, which replace the shoulder bolts 134 and nuts 136, etc., along the opposite sides of at least one of the treads, at one of the tread attachment points. By tightening the lever-nut 166, the articulating links are compressed against the tread at the tread attachment point to lock the treads in a given position. The treads may be pivoted to a different position by loosening the lever-nut 166.
  • Those having skill in the art will recognize that, in practicing the invention, many other types of latches can also be used in combination with the other elements of the invention. For example, FIG. 17 shows a second alternate embodiment of a latch apparatus 170, operatively attached between intermediate long-link connection points 172 of two adjacent long-links 174, operatively connecting two intermediate treads 176, 178 of a foldable staircase 180, in accordance with the invention. The foldable staircase 180 includes a pair of the second alternate embodiments of the latch apparatus 170, with the latches 170 being attached to opposite sides of the staircase 180. It will be further noted, that in the embodiment of the foldable staircase 180, shown in FIG. 17, the treads 176, 178, 182, 184, 186 are fabricated from aluminum sheet metal, operatively joined by long and short links of a plastic or composite material, similar to those described above in relation to the exemplary embodiment of the foldable pet staircase 100.
  • FIGS. 18 and 19 respectively show enlarged views of a portion of the second alternate embodiment of the latch apparatus 170 in a disengaged and an engaged position, respectively. The latch 170 includes first and second articulating arms 171, 173 and a locking knob 175. The first articulating arm 171 of the latch 170 includes an elongated slot 177 therein, configured for sliding passage therethrough of a threaded fastener (not shown) extending outward from the second articulating arm 173 for threaded engagement with the locking knob 175. The slot 177 allows the first and second articulating arms 171, 173, of the latch 170, to be aligned with one another at various extended positions of the staircase 180, and locked together by tightening the knob 175 to clamp the articulating arms 171, 173 securely against one another. The second articulating arm 173 further includes a pair of anti-pivot locking ribs 179, 181, disposed along opposite edges of the second articulating arm 173, to thereby form a channel 183 configured for receiving the distal end of the first articulating arm 171, and providing additional support for maintaining the latch 170 in the engaged position shown in FIG. 19.
  • FIGS. 20 and 22 show a variation of the second embodiment of the latch apparatus 170, in which the second articulating arm 173 includes an anti-pivot locking rib 181 on only one edge of the second articulating arm 173.
  • FIG. 22 shows a third exemplary embodiment of the invention in the form of a a foldable staircase apparatus 300, including a foldable staircase 302, as described above, and a staircase holder 304 adapted for receiving the staircase 302 in the stowed position. The holder 304 includes mounting holes 306 adapted for attaching the holder 304 to a surface, such as the tailgate of a truck or a sport utility vehicle, or a trunk lid of a vehicle.
  • FIG. 23 shows a fourth exemplary embodiment of the invention, in the form of a foldable staircase apparatus 400, including a foldable staircase 402, as described above, and a mounting bracket 404 for pivotably attaching the staircase 402 to support structure, such as, but not limited to, a vehicle, a watercraft, or a table, so that the staircase 402 may be pivoted about the mounting bracket 404 in the stowed position of the staircase 404. In other embodiments, the mounting bracket 404 and staircase 402 may be configured so that the staircase 402 may be pivoted about the mounting bracket 404 in only an extended position. In yet other embodiments the mounting bracket 404 and staircase 402 may be configured so that the staircase 402 may be pivoted about the mounting bracket 404 in either the stowed or an extended position. An apparatus 400 including a foldable staircase 402, as described above, and a mounting bracket 404 may alternatively be configured so that the upper tread of the staircase 402 is releasable attachable to the mounting bracket 404, before or after extension, to provide stability in use, rather than being permanently pivotably attached.
  • FIG. 24 shows a fifth exemplary embodiment 500, according to the invention, having a foldable staircase 502 pivotably attached by a mounting bracket 504 to a watercraft 506. As shown in FIG. 24, the fifth exemplary embodiment of the invention 500 allows the foldable staircase 502 to be conveniently stowed on the deck 508 of the watercraft 506, in the manner illustrated in dashed lines in FIG. 24, for convenience deployment to aid a pet, such as a dog retrieving water fowl, in disembarking from and re-entering the watercraft 506. A rotation limiting device, such as the channel shaped bracket 510 shown in FIG. 24, a compliant block, or a strut, may be operatively attached to either the watercraft 506, or the staircase 502, to provide rotational positioning of the staircase 502 with respect to the watercraft 506.
  • FIG. 25 also illustrates an embodiment 600 of the invention, having a foldable staircase 602 mounted to a ladder 604, of the type which might extend over the side of a boat or into a swimming pool. The foldable staircase 602 is attached to the ladder 604 by a mounting apparatus 606 having a pair of arms 608 adapted for clamped attachment to rails 610 of the ladder 604, and a support strut 612 adapted for engaging one of the steps 614 of the ladder 604.
  • The use of the terms “a” and “an” and “the” and similar referents in the context of describing the invention are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms “comprising,” “having,” “including,” and “containing” are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning “including, but not limited to,”) unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any element not expressly described herein as being essential to the practice of the invention. For example, the use of the term “element” in context with describing certain preferred embodiments of the invention is not intended to limit the invention to structures constructed by welding, or to structures formed from multiple components.
  • Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventor for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventor expects skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventor intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited or suggested herein as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.
  • All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.

Claims (22)

1. An apparatus for assisting pets in ascending and descending thereupon, the apparatus comprising:
a foldable staircase, having at least two stair treads operatively connected by articulating links in such a manner that the treads are pivotable in unison from a stowed position of the staircase, in which the treads are substantially stacked upon one another, to a plurality of extended positions, in which the articulating links position the treads in a spaced parallel relationship to one another.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the foldable staircase further includes a selectively engagable latch for selectively securing the staircase in a selected one of the extended positions, when the latch is engaged.
3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the latch, when engaged, precludes further pivoting of the articulating links.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein, the articulating links and treads are cooperatively configured and connected in such a manner that, in a fully extended one of the extended positions, the treads form a relatively flat surface, thereby allowing the staircase in the fully extended position to be used as a litter for transporting a person, animal, and/or cargo.
5. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein:
the staircase further comprises a selectively engagable latch for selectively securing the staircase in at least one of the extended positions, when the latch is engaged; and
the latch being disconnect able, and operatively connected to the treads and articulating links in such a manner that the staircase may only be placed in the fully extended position when the latch is disconnected.
6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein, the latch is configured for selectively securing the staircase in the fully extended position.
7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein, the articulating links are removable for use as splints for stabilizing fractured bones.
8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein, the treads include an upper and a lower surface thereof, with an upper and/or lower surface of at least one tread including a non-slip portion thereof.
9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein, one or more of the treads includes openings therethrough for passage of water through the tread.
10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein one or more of the treads includes hand-holds therein, positioned to facilitate adjustment of the staircase folded to an extended position thereof.
11. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a mounting bracket operatively connectable to the staircase, and adapted for attachment to a supporting structure.
12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein, the folding staircase is pivotably attached to the mounting bracket, for pivoting motion from a stowed position to a deployed position of the staircase.
13. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising, a staircase holder, adapted for receiving the staircase in the folded position.
14. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein, the foldable staircase comprises:
a plurality of treads having respective front and rear edges thereof, and also having opposite side surfaces thereof joined by articulating links that are operatively connected to and disposed adjacently outward from the opposite side surfaces of the treads;
the plurality of treads including a top tread, a bottom tread, and one or more intermediate treads, with each tread including three attachment points for the articulating links disposed along the opposite sides,
the three attachment points on each tread including a front tread attachment point disposed adjacent the front edge of the tread, a rear tread attachment point disposed adjacent the rear edge of the tread, and an intermediate tread attachment point disposed substantially halfway between the front and rear tread attachment points along each of the opposite edges of the tread.
15. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein:
the articulating links include long links and short links, with each of the long and links having an upper and a lower tread attachment points at opposite ends thereof, and the long links also having an intermediate tread attachment point disposed between the upper and lower tread attachment points;
a given intermediate tread of the staircase is attached to an adjacent tread by a given pair of long links having their respective intermediate long link connection point pivotably attached to the intermediate tread attachment points of the intermediate tread;
the upper long link connection points of the given pair of long links are pivotably connected to the front tread attachment points of either the top tread, or another adjacent intermediate tread disposed above the given intermediate tread;
the lower long link connection points of the given pair of long links are attached to the rear tread attachment points of either the bottom tread or another adjacent intermediate tread disposed below the given intermediate tread;
the top tread is pivotably connected to an adjacent intermediate tread immediately below the top tread by a top pair of short articulating links having their respective upper short link connection points pivotably connected to the intermediate tread attachment points of the top tread, and their respective lower short link connection points pivotably connected to the rear tread attachment point of the intermediate tread immediately below the top tread; and
the bottom tread is pivotably connected to an adjacent intermediate tread immediately above the bottom tread by a second pair of the short articulating links, with each short articulating link of the second pair of short articulating links respectively having its lower short link connection point pivotably connected to the intermediate tread attachment point of the bottom tread, and its upper short link connection point pivotably connected to the front tread attachment point of the intermediate tread immediately above the bottom tread.
16. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the foldable staircase further includes a selectively engagable latch for selectively securing the staircase in a selected one of the extended positions, when the latch is engaged.
17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the latch, when engaged, precludes further pivoting of the articulating links.
18. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the latch operatively connects, at opposite ends thereof, to the intermediate attachment points of two adjacent treads.
19. A method for assisting pets in ascending, and descending, between an elevated level and a lower level, the method comprising, deploying a foldable staircase between the elevated and lower levels, wherein the foldable staircase includes at least two stair treads operatively connected by articulating links in such a manner that the treads are pivotable in unison from a stowed position of the staircase, in which the treads are substantially stacked upon one another, to a plurality of extended positions, in which the articulating links position the treads in a spaced parallel relationship to one another.
20. A foldable staircase for assisting pets in ascending and descending between an elevated level and a lower level, the foldable staircase comprising:
a plurality of treads having respective front and rear edges thereof, and also having opposite side surfaces thereof joined by articulating links that are operatively connected to and disposed adjacently outward from the opposite side surfaces of the treads;
the plurality of treads including a top tread, a bottom tread, and one or more intermediate treads, with each tread including three attachment points for the articulating links disposed along the opposite sides,
the three attachment points on each tread including a front tread attachment point disposed adjacent the front edge of the tread, a rear tread attachment point disposed adjacent the rear edge of the tread, and an intermediate tread attachment point disposed substantially halfway between the front and rear tread attachment points along each of the opposite edges of the tread.
21. The foldable staircase of claim 20, wherein:
the articulating links include long links and short links, with each of the long and links having an upper and a lower tread attachment points at opposite ends thereof, and the long links also having an intermediate tread attachment point disposed between the upper and lower tread attachment points;
a given intermediate tread of the staircase is attached to an adjacent tread by a given pair of long links having their respective intermediate long link connection point pivotably attached to the intermediate tread attachment points of the intermediate tread;
the upper long link connection points of the given pair of long links are pivotably connected to the front tread attachment points of either the top tread, or another adjacent intermediate tread disposed above the given intermediate tread;
the lower long link connection points of the given pair of long links are attached to the rear tread attachment points of either the bottom tread or another adjacent intermediate tread disposed below the given intermediate tread;
the top tread is pivotably connected to an adjacent intermediate tread immediately below the top tread by a top pair of short articulating links having their respective upper short link connection points pivotably connected to the intermediate tread attachment points of the top tread, and their respective lower short link connection points pivotably connected to the rear tread attachment point of the intermediate tread immediately below the top tread; and
the bottom tread is pivotably connected to an adjacent intermediate tread immediately above the bottom tread by a second pair of the short articulating links, with each short articulating link of the second pair of short articulating links respectively having its lower short link connection point pivotably connected to the intermediate tread attachment point of the bottom tread, and its upper short link connection point pivotably connected to the front tread attachment point of the intermediate tread immediately above the bottom tread.
22. An extension kit apparatus, for a foldable staircase for assisting pets in ascending and descending thereupon, wherein the foldable staircase has at least two existing stair treads operatively connected by existing articulating links in such a manner that the existing treads are pivotable in unison from a stowed position of the staircase, in which the existing treads are substantially stacked upon one another, to a plurality of extended positions, in which the existing articulating links position the existing treads in a spaced parallel relationship to one another, the extension kit apparatus comprising:
at least one additional tread, and a corresponding pair of additional articulating links;
the at least one additional tread being operatively attachable to the existing treads by the corresponding additional articulating links and two or more of the existing articulating links of the staircase, in such a manner that the existing and at least one additional tread are pivotable in unison from a stowed position of the staircase, in which the existing and at least one additional treads are substantially stacked upon one another, to a plurality of extended positions, in which the existing and additional articulating links position the existing and at least one additional treads in a spaced parallel relationship to one another.
US11/313,135 2004-12-22 2005-12-20 Folding pet staircase Abandoned US20060137266A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US63989504P true 2004-12-22 2004-12-22
US11/313,135 US20060137266A1 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-12-20 Folding pet staircase

Applications Claiming Priority (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11/313,135 US20060137266A1 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-12-20 Folding pet staircase
PCT/US2005/046228 WO2006069086A2 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-12-21 Folding pet staircase
US12/421,757 US8091294B2 (en) 2004-12-22 2009-04-10 Folding pet staircase

Related Child Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US12/421,757 Continuation-In-Part US8091294B2 (en) 2004-12-22 2009-04-10 Folding pet staircase

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
US20060137266A1 true US20060137266A1 (en) 2006-06-29

Family

ID=36602276

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US11/313,135 Abandoned US20060137266A1 (en) 2004-12-22 2005-12-20 Folding pet staircase

Country Status (2)

Country Link
US (1) US20060137266A1 (en)
WO (1) WO2006069086A2 (en)

Cited By (7)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20080184502A1 (en) * 2007-02-07 2008-08-07 Thomas Edward Roberts Handicap ramp for accessing and egressing transport vehicles
KR100902680B1 (en) 2009-01-08 2009-06-15 (주)한국건설엔지니어링 Ecology waterway pipe having pond form
US20100031454A1 (en) * 2006-05-31 2010-02-11 Ets A. Deschamps Et Fils Temporary bridge
WO2010098539A2 (en) * 2009-02-24 2010-09-02 (주)한마루무역 Folding stairs
ITRM20120523A1 (en) * 2012-10-31 2014-05-01 Guidosimplex S R L loading ramp for motor vehicles.
US9055824B2 (en) 2011-11-09 2015-06-16 Timothy Brown Bed step device and method
USD831364S1 (en) 2016-12-07 2018-10-23 Timothy Brown Bed step

Families Citing this family (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US8091294B2 (en) * 2004-12-22 2012-01-10 Whalen Robert F Folding pet staircase

Citations (26)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US196679A (en) * 1877-10-30 Improvement in combined ladder and steps
US382676A (en) * 1888-05-15 William b
US600281A (en) * 1898-03-08 Charles garland
US2567302A (en) * 1947-08-18 1951-09-11 Sip Karel Foldable ladder
US2575615A (en) * 1948-03-20 1951-11-20 Truk Step Company Inc Retractable step
US3462170A (en) * 1967-05-02 1969-08-19 Theodore E Smith Camper step construction
US3493077A (en) * 1968-11-08 1970-02-03 Frank V Doten Folding stairway for automobile camper and the like
US3892290A (en) * 1974-09-16 1975-07-01 Irving M Lang Boat ladder
US4108457A (en) * 1976-08-09 1978-08-22 Dale Garrett Camper steps
US4180143A (en) * 1978-07-21 1979-12-25 Clugston George D Step for vehicles
US4424751A (en) * 1980-01-28 1984-01-10 Sig Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft Entry stairs for vehicles
US4527941A (en) * 1983-09-06 1985-07-09 Vrp Partners, Ltd. Expandable support structure usable as loading ramp
US4571144A (en) * 1983-08-04 1986-02-18 Guidry Donald C Tailgate ramp for attaching to the tailgate of a truck
US4615160A (en) * 1985-09-30 1986-10-07 Leblond Marc Adjustable staircase
US4623160A (en) * 1985-09-06 1986-11-18 Trudell Jerry W Extensible step assembly for vehicles
US4733752A (en) * 1987-07-14 1988-03-29 Sklar Robert Z Extensible ladder for boats
US5005850A (en) * 1989-12-29 1991-04-09 Milo Baughman Retractable stairs for vehicles
US5039119A (en) * 1989-12-29 1991-08-13 Milo Baughman Retractable stairs for vehicles
US5456479A (en) * 1994-06-27 1995-10-10 Conger; Ronald S. Truck access step
USD382676S (en) * 1995-10-02 1997-08-19 Folding pet ramp
US5870788A (en) * 1997-06-25 1999-02-16 Witkin; Roy T. Portable ramp device
US5876051A (en) * 1995-12-26 1999-03-02 Sage, Sr.; Gary A. Folding step for a recreational vehicle
US5941342A (en) * 1997-07-07 1999-08-24 Apc Industrial Co., Ltd. Folding staircase
US5957237A (en) * 1997-12-11 1999-09-28 Specific Cruise Systems, Inc. Motorized collapsible step
US6119634A (en) * 1999-01-13 2000-09-19 Myrick; Kenneth W. Combination pet ramp and utility table
US6966597B2 (en) * 2002-12-23 2005-11-22 Tegtmeier Paul H Tailgate assembly with integral steps

Family Cites Families (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
JPH0337414B2 (en) * 1985-06-24 1991-06-05 Sumitomo Chemical Co

Patent Citations (26)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US196679A (en) * 1877-10-30 Improvement in combined ladder and steps
US382676A (en) * 1888-05-15 William b
US600281A (en) * 1898-03-08 Charles garland
US2567302A (en) * 1947-08-18 1951-09-11 Sip Karel Foldable ladder
US2575615A (en) * 1948-03-20 1951-11-20 Truk Step Company Inc Retractable step
US3462170A (en) * 1967-05-02 1969-08-19 Theodore E Smith Camper step construction
US3493077A (en) * 1968-11-08 1970-02-03 Frank V Doten Folding stairway for automobile camper and the like
US3892290A (en) * 1974-09-16 1975-07-01 Irving M Lang Boat ladder
US4108457A (en) * 1976-08-09 1978-08-22 Dale Garrett Camper steps
US4180143A (en) * 1978-07-21 1979-12-25 Clugston George D Step for vehicles
US4424751A (en) * 1980-01-28 1984-01-10 Sig Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft Entry stairs for vehicles
US4571144A (en) * 1983-08-04 1986-02-18 Guidry Donald C Tailgate ramp for attaching to the tailgate of a truck
US4527941A (en) * 1983-09-06 1985-07-09 Vrp Partners, Ltd. Expandable support structure usable as loading ramp
US4623160A (en) * 1985-09-06 1986-11-18 Trudell Jerry W Extensible step assembly for vehicles
US4615160A (en) * 1985-09-30 1986-10-07 Leblond Marc Adjustable staircase
US4733752A (en) * 1987-07-14 1988-03-29 Sklar Robert Z Extensible ladder for boats
US5005850A (en) * 1989-12-29 1991-04-09 Milo Baughman Retractable stairs for vehicles
US5039119A (en) * 1989-12-29 1991-08-13 Milo Baughman Retractable stairs for vehicles
US5456479A (en) * 1994-06-27 1995-10-10 Conger; Ronald S. Truck access step
USD382676S (en) * 1995-10-02 1997-08-19 Folding pet ramp
US5876051A (en) * 1995-12-26 1999-03-02 Sage, Sr.; Gary A. Folding step for a recreational vehicle
US5870788A (en) * 1997-06-25 1999-02-16 Witkin; Roy T. Portable ramp device
US5941342A (en) * 1997-07-07 1999-08-24 Apc Industrial Co., Ltd. Folding staircase
US5957237A (en) * 1997-12-11 1999-09-28 Specific Cruise Systems, Inc. Motorized collapsible step
US6119634A (en) * 1999-01-13 2000-09-19 Myrick; Kenneth W. Combination pet ramp and utility table
US6966597B2 (en) * 2002-12-23 2005-11-22 Tegtmeier Paul H Tailgate assembly with integral steps

Cited By (12)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US8955184B2 (en) * 2006-05-31 2015-02-17 ETS A. Deschamps et Eils Temporary bridge
US20100031454A1 (en) * 2006-05-31 2010-02-11 Ets A. Deschamps Et Fils Temporary bridge
US20080184502A1 (en) * 2007-02-07 2008-08-07 Thomas Edward Roberts Handicap ramp for accessing and egressing transport vehicles
WO2008098110A1 (en) * 2007-02-07 2008-08-14 Roberts Thomas E Handicap ramp for accessing and egressing transport vehicles
KR100902680B1 (en) 2009-01-08 2009-06-15 (주)한국건설엔지니어링 Ecology waterway pipe having pond form
WO2010098539A2 (en) * 2009-02-24 2010-09-02 (주)한마루무역 Folding stairs
WO2010098539A3 (en) * 2009-02-24 2010-10-21 (주)한마루무역 Folding stairs
KR101040712B1 (en) 2009-02-24 2011-06-13 (주) 한마루무역 Folding type stairs
US9055824B2 (en) 2011-11-09 2015-06-16 Timothy Brown Bed step device and method
US9314106B2 (en) 2011-11-09 2016-04-19 Timothy Brown Bed step device and method
ITRM20120523A1 (en) * 2012-10-31 2014-05-01 Guidosimplex S R L loading ramp for motor vehicles.
USD831364S1 (en) 2016-12-07 2018-10-23 Timothy Brown Bed step

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
WO2006069086A3 (en) 2008-01-24
WO2006069086A2 (en) 2006-06-29

Similar Documents

Publication Publication Date Title
US7412735B2 (en) Patient support apparatus
US6601825B2 (en) Portable and demountable lifting device
US5297844A (en) Removable cab and stand for all terrain vehicles
US6526611B2 (en) Ambulance stretcher with improved height adjustment feature
US4011615A (en) Personnel transfer gangway
US6526614B2 (en) Portable and lightweight ramp structure
US5951231A (en) Vehicle roof rack and boat mounting system
US6283496B1 (en) Collapsible game hauling carrier
US6168548B1 (en) Portable ambulatory therapy device
DE3344791C2 (en)
US7516997B2 (en) Compact truck tailgate and general purpose utility ladder
US5279390A (en) Tree stand
US20070256892A1 (en) Ladder stand with platform hoist and method of assembling same
US6508194B2 (en) Pontoon watercraft
US5105908A (en) Ladder treestand and trailer rit
US6725808B2 (en) Portable corral apparatus
US4352597A (en) Slide dock
US5388289A (en) Combination wheelchair and lift
US6460488B1 (en) Animal leash and method of manufacture
US6928959B1 (en) Multi-segmented deployable arched ramp
AU5300094A (en) Undercarriage
DE69814128T2 (en) Folding chair
US6681970B2 (en) Deployable roof mounted equipment rack for tall vehicles
US6786170B2 (en) Boat lifting device
US6079517A (en) Power driven tree stand

Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
STCB Information on status: application discontinuation

Free format text: ABANDONED -- FAILURE TO RESPOND TO AN OFFICE ACTION