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1. CA2238370 - PORTABLE OUTDOOR FIREPLACE AND FIRE SCREEN ASSEMBLY THEREFOR

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters
PORTAB?~E OUTDOOR FIREP?~ACE AND FIRE
SCREEN ASSEMBLY THEREFOR
Baclcc~,could And summary Of The Invention
The present invention generally relates to portable fireplaces, and more particularly, to a portable outdoor fireplace with a fire screen assembly that permits easy access to the fire bowl of the fireplace and also supports a cooling grill.
Fixed outdoor fireplaces, such as those made from brick, masonry and the like have been known for years. Portable outdoor fireplaces have recently entered the marketplace. Their size is small and their structure is such that it permits them to be easily moved from one location to the other. Such fireplaces are found in the patent literature in U.S. Design
Patent No. 293,191, issued December 15, 1987 and U.S. Patent No. 5,094,223 issued March 10, 1992.
The 293,191 design patent is assigned to Weber Stephen Products and describes a portable outdoor fireplace which incorporates the top and bottom covers of the well-known
Weber "kettle" grill. The two covers are spaced apart by an internal framework which defines a fire pit area. No grill structure is shown in this patent which would permit cooking.
U.S. Patent No. 5,094,223, on the other hand, describes a portable fire pit having a conical shield which supports a grill thereon so that the fireplace may be utilized for cooking in association with a propane or natural gas burner system. However, the structure of this fireplace is complex and has many parts.
One commercially available outdoor fireplace is sold under the name "Firepit" by Whalen Manufacturing of Macomb,
Illinois. It is identical to the aforementioned ~191 design patent but includes a functional fire screen assembly in which a plurality of screen are fixed to a cylindrical frame. No access can be had to the fire other than by lifting the top cover of this fireplace. The cover will get hot during use and this exposes a user to the prospect of inadvertent burns.
The prior art is lacking in disclosing or suggesting a hinged screen assembly which defines an entrance to the fireplace for inserting more combustible material therein as well as defines a support area for a cooling grill.
The present invention is directed to a portable outdoor fireplace having a convertible grill feature in which a portion of the fire chamber may be utilized as a grill as well as to a portable outdoor fireplace having a fire screen assembly forming an entrance to the fireplace, the entrance having means for receiving and supporting a cooking grill and the fireplace having an access door openable and closeable from the side of the fireplace.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an outdoor fireplace with a convertible grill structure.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a portable outdoor fireplace with a convertible grill feature wherein the fireplace includes opposing base and cover portions and a framework assembly separating the base and cover portions and extending upwardly from the base cover to support the cover portion, the framework assembly supporting a plurality of fire screen panels to define an enclosed fire pit area therewithin, the framework assembly having at least two slotted members which permit one of the fire screen to be removed and inserted horizontally within the framework assembly in order to define a grilling surface of the fireplace.
A still further object of the present invention is to provide a portable outdoor fireplace having a fire bowl enclosed by a circular fire screen assembly, the fire screen assembly including a plurality of screens fixed to an upright support structure, one of the screens being hingedly mounted on the support structure and defining an entrance to the fireplace.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a cooking grill assembly which is at least partially insertable into the aforementioned fireplace entrance and is supported therein by grill support means.
The present invention accomplishes these objects in accordance with one principal aspect by utilizing a pair of opposing concave members which serve as respective cover and base portions of the fireplace. A fire screen assembly is held between the cover and base portions and stands vertically therein. The fire screen assembly includes a pair of horizontal support rings and vertical columns which cooperate to define a cylindrical frame in which multiple screen panels are supported.
The screen panels provide a barrier for the fire screen assembly which retains burning embers and other fire material within the fire pit area defined in the bottom fire bowl. One of the fire screen panels is removable from its screen position in the cylindrical frame and is slidable horizontally into the cylindrical frame to thereby form a horizontal grill surface which functions as a cooking grill.
In another principal aspect of the present invention, the fire screen panel which serves as the cooking grill is a substantially flat panel which is vertically supported in the frame in a manner to retain the flatness of the cooking grill so that the utilization of the grill-screen panel as a grill is not compromised.
In yet another principal aspect of the present invention and as exemplified in a second embodiment of the invention, the grill-screen panel is formed from a highly resilient metal and formed in a pattern which permits the grillscreen panel to flex sufficiently for retention by the framework as a fire screen panel yet "rebound" back into a substantially flat shape when removed from the fire screen framework to effectively serve as a cooking grill when inserted horizontally into the framework assembly.
In still yet another principal of the present invention, the fire screen panels are fixed to the cylindrical frame and the frame includes an entrance to the fire bowl. This entrance is defined in part by one or more screened doors which are hingedly mounted to the frame. A separate cooking grill is insertable into the fireplace and held in a preselected horizontal orientation by a series of grill supports. The grill supports extend from the frame and from the screen door so that the cooking grill may be supported at different locations by the fireplace.
These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be clearly understood through a consideration of the following detailed description. brief Desalination Of The retinas
In the course of this detailed description, the reference will be frequently made to the attached drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a known portable outdoor fireplace;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view, partially exploded of a portable outdoor fireplace constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention illustrating the fire screen-grill in position for insertion into the fireplace.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the fireplace of
FIG. 2, with the fire screen-grill in place as a fire screen;
FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the fireplace of FIG.
FIG. 5 is a plan view of a fire screen/grill member suitable for use in the fireplace of FIG. 2;
FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the fire screen assembly of the fireplace of FIG. 3 taken along lines 6-6 thereof;
FIG. 6A is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 6 illustrating the structure of the forward frame column and flanges thereof in detail;
FIG. 7 is a sectional view of a second embodiment of a fire screen assembly suitable for use in fireplaces of the present invention;
FIG. 7A is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 7 illustrating the structure of the rear frame column and flanges thereof in detail;
FIG. 8 is a plan view of a fire screen/grill member used in the fire screen assembly of FIG. 7;
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a portable outdoor fireplace constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;
FIG. 10 is a flat projection view of the fire screen assembly of the fireplace of FTG. 9, showing the fire screen door portions thereof;
FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a fire screen assembly suitable for use in converting an existing kettleshaped barbecue grill into a portable outdoor fireplace in accordance with the principles of the present invention;
FIG. 12 is a perspective view showing how the fire screen assembly of FIG. 11 fits into the fire bowl of a barbecue grill;
FIG. 13 is a top plan view of the fire screen assembly of FIG. 9 with a cooking grill in place illustrating the two horizontal placements of the grill in the fireplace;
FIG. 14 is an enlarged, detailed end view of the fire screen assembly of the fireplace of FIG. 9, taken at the area indicated by the arrow R, with the top portion removed for clarity;
FIG. 15 is a perspective view of another fire screen assembly suitable for use with fireplaces of the present invention and having a single door mounted on its entrance, and;
FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the door of the fire screen assembly of FIG. 15.
Detailed Desarintion Of The Preferred Embodiments
FIG. 1 illustrates a portable outdoor fireplace 10 of a known type such as the aforementioned "Firepit" that is representative of certain prior art constructions. The fireplace to has a bottom bowl member 12 and a top cover member 14 which are separated by a vertical screen structure 16 which constitutes a fire chamber 18 of the fireplace 10. The screen structure 16 includes top and bottom support rings 20 interconnected by risers 22 which define a series of arcuate openings 24 between the support rings 20 and risers 22. These openings 24 are in effect, slots that receive and support a series of curved screen panels 26 vertically therein in a manner to form an enclosed fire chamber which stands in the bottom bowl member 12 into which fire material is placed and burned. One of the curved screen panels 26A is removable while the remaining panels 26 are fixed to the structure, the removable curved screen panel defining an opening 30 in the fireplace 10 through which a user may add additional fuel to the fire pit or stir the material therein. This known construction is complex to assemble because it requires both inner and outer support rings to form the arcuate slot and openings 24.
A portable, convertible outdoor fireplace constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention is illustrated generally at 100 in FIG. 2. The convertible fireplace 100 includes a lower base member 102 which is preferably conical in shape in order to define a concave receptacle which serves as a fire bowl 104. The bottom 105 of the fire bowl 104 preferably includes a central flat portion 106 which defines a surface suitable for supporting an appropriate fuel in the fire pit, such as logs, charcoal, coal or the like.
A carriage assembly l10 is disposed beneath the fire bowl 104 to support it off of the ground as illustrated, and is attached thereto by suitable means, such as bolts or screws which extend through openings 112 in the receptacle. The carriage assembly 110 includes a tubular chassis 114 having a generally inverted U-shaped configuration which supports a pair of wheels 116 interconnected by an axle 118. This carriage assembly 110 renders the convertible fireplace 100 portable so that it may be easily transported by a user. To facilitate such transport, the fire bowl 104 may include a handle support 120 extending outwardly therefrom, and which provides a base for the attachment of an insulated handle 122.
A top cover 125 is provided for the convertible fireplace 100 and also includes a concave bowl portion 126. The top cover 125 preferably has the same approximate diameter of the base member 102. The cover member 125 may include an outer rim 128 which has a channel 130 formed herein. The channel 130 may engage the outer rim 107 of the fire bowl 104 and also the fire chamber frame assembly 140. The diameters of the cover and base members is such that the engagement which occurs between the cover and base members 125, 102 is preferably tight enough so that the cover member 125 may be used to close off the fire pit area when the fire chamber frame assembly 140 is removed to cut off the flow of air to still-burning embers in the fire pit area.
As depicted in the drawings, the cover and base members 125, 102 are separated from each other by a fire chamber in the form of a frame assembly 140 which extends vertically therebetween. The fire bowl 104 may include an interior channel 108 spaced within its outer rim 107 which provides a support surface for the bottom of the frame assembly 140. The fire chamber frame assembly 140 encloses the fire pit area of the fire bowl 104 and surrounds the fuel which is burned therein. The frame assembly 140 includes a series of frame members 142-145 which are joined together to form a generally cylindrical frame which in turn supports a series of fire screen panels 147A, 1478 to form the enclosure.
The frame members include upper and lower circular ring members 142, 143 and column members 144, 145, which interconnect the ring members 142, 143 together to form the cylindrical frame 140. This frame 140 is best illustrated in
FIG. 4. The frame ring members 142, 143 may each include two circular beams which are spaced closely together in order to define a circular channel 150 within each of the top and bottom frame rings 142, 143 for retaining the screen panels 147 therein. The frame rings 142, 143 establish a perimeter of the frame assembly 140 and the fire chamber enclosed thereby and further present a circular profile when viewed from an end as in
FIG. 6. These channels 150 will receive the respective bottom and top edges of the screen panels 147.
The frame columns 144, 145 are preferably of a multiple piece construction having interior and exterior components which may be bolted, welded, or otherwise fastened together. In the err~bod.irrent illustrated in
FIGS. 2-6 and as specifically shown in FIG. 6A, the fzront frame columns 144 include
sport plate 156 and an interior flange plate 153. Support plate 156 may be exterior of lower circular ring member 143 as shown in Fig. 4, or alternatively, interior of lower cireuLar ring rretr~ber 142 as slxxnm in Fig. 6A. The interior flange plate 153 is stamped and formed in a manner which defines interior flanges 154A, 1548 located inwardly of the support plates 156 and spaced apart therefrom in on~er to define vertical chart-gels, or slots 158, in the columns 144. These vertical slots 158 formed in the frame columns 144 receive the ends 148 of the screen panels 147A.
In one aspect of the present invention, two of the screen panels 147A include curved metal screen sections which approximately match the diameters of the ring members 142, 143 and the fire bowl channel 107. The two screen panels 147A are thus easily received within the frame assembly 140 and match the cylindrical profile of the frame assembly 140. When inserted in place within the frame assembly 140, the two screen panels 147A provide a fire screen which encloses all but a small opening 136 of the fire pit area within the fire bowl 104.
This opening 136 retains a grill-screen panel 1478 and provides a point of access to the fire pit area of the fire bowl 104 as well as insertion of the grill-screen panel 1478 into the frame assembly 140 as explained more fully below. When all the screen panels 147A, 1478 are inserted into the frame assembly 140, they will function to contain hot embers and debris within the fire pit area and to prevent users from contact with the fire due to inadvertence. The frame assembly 140 may be rigidly attached to the base receptacle 104 by way of a series of clips 160 which are affixed to the receptacle 104 and which may engage the frame assembly 140 by way of a suitable means, such as screws (not shown).
In an important aspect of the present invention, the frame assembly 140 is easily converted to a cooking grill by removing the forward fire screen panel 147B from its vertical position within the frame assembly 140 and inserting it into the frame assembly 140 horizontally in order to form a horizontal cooking surface which may effectively function as a grill.
As mentioned above, the forward columns 144 include two sets of flanges 154A, 154B formed in their associated interior flange plates 153. The first set of flanges 154A extend generally parallel to their opposing column support plates 156 to define generally rectangular channels or slots 158 while the second set of flanges 154B do not extend parallel to the support plates 156. Rather, the second flanges 154B extend at an angle cal therefrom, preferably at about approximately 45° from the plane defined by the support plate 156, or at an angle cp2, about approximately 135° from the edge of the support plate. (FIG. 6A.)
The two forward frame columns 144 are preferably aligned in their positions within the frame assembly 140 such that the second flanges 154H thereof are aligned with each other along an imaginary line C drawn between the two flanges 1548.
The line C defines a chord of the perimeter defined by the top and bottom ring members 142, 143. The angular orientation of these flanges 1548 importantly permits a substantially flat, and rigid, grill-screen panel 1478 to be used to close off the opening 136 of the frame assembly 140 and as a cooking grill without compromising the desirable, flat characteristic of the grill-screen panel 1478.
FIGS. 3 and 6 illustrate a rigid grill-screen panel 1478 suitable for use with the fireplace embodiment 100 of FIGS. 1-6. The grill-screen panel 1478 has a series of metal grill bars 161, 162 which are welded together to form a rectangular pattern on the grill-screen panel 1478. These bars 161, 162 intersect together in a spacing sufficient to provide a usable grill area 163 to the grill-screen panel 1478 in order to support various foods thereupon and serve as a fire screen. The grill-screen panel 1478 preferably also includes a handle member 169 which is selectively engageable therewith in at least two different locations on the grill-screen panel 147H to provide a means for inserting and removing the grill-screen panel 147B into the frame assembly 140.
The opposing ends 164 of the grill-screen panel 1478 may be curved in an arc which is preferably generally no greater than either the curvature of the perimeter of the fire chamber or of the arcs defined by the top and bottom cover members 125, 102 along vertical sections taken therethrough along the chord C of the frame assembly column second flanges 154H. This curvature relationship permits the end 164 of the grill-screen panel 1478 to engage the frame column 145 without interference with the interior of the frame assembly 140 or the screens panels 147 thereof.
In another important aspect of the present invention, the frame columns include means for supporting the grill-screen panel 1478 horizontally within the frame assembly 140 in a variety of elevations over the fire pit area. The forward frame column flange plates 153 include a series of supports in the form of generally horizontal slots 165 disposed in the second flanges 1548 which permit insertion and removal of the grill-screen panel 1478. The rearward frame assembly column 145 cooperates with the forward column slots in supporting the grill-screen panel by means of a series of support bars 167 (FIG. 7A) or support clips 168 (FIGS. 4 & 6) affixed thereto at elevations equal to those of the flange slots 165 in order to support the grill-screen panel 1478 in a level, horizontal orientation in the frame assembly 140. As seen best in FIG. 7A, the support bars 167 are generally U-shaped and include a base portion 167A and two extending arm portions 1678.
Turning now to FIGS. 7 & 8, a second embodiment of a grill-screen panel 200 suitable for use with the present invention is illustrated. This grill-screen panel 200 is formed from a flexible material, such as an aluminum screen stock.
This grill-screen panel 200 is flexible, rather than rigid as in the first embodiment, so that it may adopt a curved profile when inserted into the frame assembly 140 in a vertical orientation.
In this regard, the forward frame members 144 do not have a second set of flanges 1548 as in the first embodiment, but rather include two sets of flanges 154A aligned with the perimeter of the frame assembly 140. The flexibility of the material used for this grill-screen panel 200 permits it to flex back to its substantially flat profile after it is removed from engagement with the flanges 154A. The end 264 of the grill-screen panel 200 is also preferably curved, with a curvature no greater than that of the perimeter of the frame assembly, so that the end 264 may engage the rear frame column 145 without interference from any part of the frame assembly 140. The forward frame columns 144 will contain similar slots to which accommodate the grill-screen panel 200 in a horizontal orientation in the frame assembly 140 over the fire pit area.
FIG. 9 illustrates another fireplace 300 constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
This fireplace 300 is similar in general construction to the embodiments of FIGS. 2-8 and is seen to include opposing top and a bottom portions 302, 304 which respectively serve as a cover and fire bowl for the fireplace. The bottom portion 304 has a depression, or recess 306 formed therein which serves as a combustion or fire chamber 307 for an appropriate fuel, such as wood, charcoal or the like.
A fire screen assembly 310 is interposed between the top and bottom portions 302, 304 and is similar in construction to the firs screen assembly of FIG. 4 in that it includes a frame 312 formed from top and bottom frame members 314, 315, shown as support rings. The top and bottom frame portions 314, 315 are interconnected by vertical riser portions 316 with three such risers being shown.
Each of the risers 316 includes a support tab 317 that extends outwardly therefrom at an angle thereto to engage the interior surface of the cover portion 302 and provide a reliable support for the fireplace top portion 302. The support tabs 317 are the primary source of contact between the fire screen assembly 310 and the top portion 302 rather than the top frame portion 314 and therefore reduce the amount of heat transferred between the fire screen assembly 310 and the top portion 302 because of the reduction in contact area. The bottom support ring 315 engages a series of upwardly extending tabs, or clips 328, disposed with the recess of the bottom portion 304 that engage the interior of the bottom support ring 315 in order to hold the fire screen assembly 310 upright. The firs screen assembly 310 preferably has a diameter Dl that is less than the diameter D2 of the bottom cover portion 304 to provide an annular offset between the fire screen assembly 310 and the outer edges of the top and bottom cover portions 302,
A plurality of fire screen panels 320 are applied to the fire screen assembly 310 along the exterior thereof to effectively screen the fire chamber 307 to prevent the escape of burning embers and the like therefrom. Each screen panel 320 is preformed in a curve which substantially matches the outer curved extent of the frame portions 314, 315. The screen panels 320 include endpieces 332 that are welded together to define the perimeter of the panels 320 and a rectangular or square extent of screening 323 that is attached to the endpieces 322 in a permanent fashion, such as by tack or spot welding 325 near the edges 324 of the screening 323 as generally shown in FIG. 16.
The precurved screen panels 320 are attached to the fire screen assembly 310, preferably by a series of bolts 326 that extend through the perimeter ends 332, the frame portions 314, 315 and the risers 316 as illustrated best in FIG. 14. The use of these preformed screen panels 320 greatly reduces the cost of manufacturing and also assembly as compared to the fireplace of FIG. 1 because of the elimination of the double frame rings and curved slots 24. The screen extents 323 may have a diagonal pattern as shown in FIGS. 9 & 10, or as shown in
FIG. il, the screen extents 329 may have a square or rectangular grid-like pattern.
In an important aspect of the present invention, the fireplace 300 has one or more screen doors 330 mounted thereto in a manner which permits the door 330 to be opened and closed so that a user may gain direct access to the combustion chamber inside the fire screen assembly 310 from the side rather than by removing the top cover portion 302 to reduce the likelihood of occurrence of burns to a user of the fireplace 300.
As shown best in FIG. 10, the screen doors 330 also include sets of endpieces 331 joined together, such as by welding, to define the extent and area of each door 330. An extent of metal screening 333 is joined to these endpieces 332, also preferably by welding. The doors 330 each include at their leftmost and rightmost edges, top and bottom hinge pins 334, 335 that are shown welded to the door endpieces 332. These hingepin 334, 335 are received in corresponding associated hingeposts 336 formed on the two risers 316', 316" that serve to define an entrance 337 of the fireplace 300 to the interior thereof. The screen doors 330 also contain a suitable means for engaging each other, shown in FIG. 10 as a latch 338 on door 330' and a hook 339 formed on the other door 330".
In order to facilitate the installation of the screen doors 330 onto the fire screen assembly 310, the two hingepin 334, 335 are of different lengths Pl & P2, with the lower hinge pin 335 has a larger length P1 than the length of a the top hinge pin 334. As such, during installation, the lower hinge pin 335 is inserted into its corresponding hinge post 336 and the associated screen door is raised enough to permit entry of the top hinge pin 334 into the top hinge post 336. The screen doors 330 also preferably have a height LD that is less than the total height L~, of the fire screen assembly 31o and between the top and bottom portions 302, 304 of the fireplace so that, as illustrated in FIG. 9, the screen doors 330 may open and close without interference from either or both of the top and bottom portions 302, 304.
The risers 316 may include a means for supporting a cooking grill 342, such as a series of supports, in the form of tabs 344 that extend inwardly therefrom in a manner so as to reliably support the grill 342 within the fireplace interior.
The grill 342, as shown in FIG. 13, preferably has an outer perimeter that approximates the inner diameter of the fire screen assembly 310. The grill 342 may be supported in three different vertical positions V1, Vz, V3 within the fireplace 300 by the different sets of support tabs 344. As illustrated in
FIGS. 9 & 13, the fireplace doors 330 may include another set of support tabs, or hooks 345, along their edges 331. These tabs 345 cooperate with the interior tabs 344 to define additional grill positions for the fireplace.
As shown in FIG. 13, in the first position H1, the cooking grill 342 is supported virtually entirely within the fireplace 300 by the support tabs 344 and in the second position
H~ (shown in phantom in FIG. 13), the cooking grill 342 is supported partial.lywitt_-ynthef?replace30Qandoutsiasoft~P fireplace between the two adjoining doors 330', 330". In this second position, the grill 342 is supported by the support tabs 344 positioned near the entrance 337 and the support tabs 345 positioned on the interior of the fireplace doors 330', 330".
Therefore, it will be understood that fireplaces of the present invention permit a user to have multiple, different grill positions V1_3 & H1_2 at different horizontal and vertical placements.
Fireplaces of the present invention may also include only one screen door as illustrated in FIG. 15. In such an instance, the fire screen assembly 400 has a frame 401 having two opposing top and bottom support rings 402, 404 interconnected by vertical columns 406. Two fire screen panels 408, 409 are attached to the exterior of the frame 401 by way of bolts 4i0 to cover the spaces defined between two adjacent support columns, leaving an opening between two of the columns which forms an entrance 412 to the interior of fire screen assembly 400. A third curved screen panel 413 having a curve that approximates the perimeter of the support rings 402, 404 is provided with hinge pins 415, 416 (of different lengths Pl, Pz as explained above) that are received within associated hinge posts 417 from opposing top and bottom directions. The screen panel 413 therefore serves as a single access door that spans the entrance 422 of the fire screen assembly 400. Cooking grill support members may be formed on the columns 406 as explained above in order to support a cooking grill.
It can be seen that the principles of the present invention may also be applied to a fire screen assembly by itself which may be used to modify an existing barbecue grill into a portable outdoor fireplace having the benefits of the present invention. Such fire screen assemblies are shown in
FIGS. 11, 12 and 15. These fire screen assemblies 310 may be made and sold as a kit for modifying an existing conventional "kettle-style'° barbecue grill having opposing, interengaging top and bottom cover members into a portable fireplace with the benefits and advantages described previously above.
In such instances, the fire screen assembly 310 is assembled and placed in the bottom cover member of the grill and supported therein by clips 328 which may be separately applied to the bottom cover member. The top member of the barbecue grill is then placed upon the top of the fire screen assembly 310 in contact with the support tabs 317 to provide a top cover for the fire screen assembly 310. Access than may be had to the interior of the fireplace, and its burning chamber 307 by way of the access door or doors 330.
While the preferred embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention, the scope of which is defined by the appended claims.