DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
With reference to the Figures, a shovel 10 having a blade 12 and handle 14 is described. The shovel 10 is particularly adapted for pushing material such as snow in a manner similar to that of a snowplow. While the shovel is particularly adapted for pushing snow, it is understood that other materials may be pushed by the shovel and, accordingly, reference to snow is not meant to be limiting to the scope of interpretation of the uses of the shovel.
The blade 12 of the shovel 10 is generally semi-cylindrical as shown in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4 with the blade 12 having first and second ground contacting edges 16 and 18. In other embodiments, the blade 12 may be semi-elliptical or parabolic in cross-section. As shown, it is preferred that the handle projects outwardly from the convex surface of the blade 12 midway between the first and second ground contacting edges 16 and 18 and midway between a leading end 20 and trailing end 22 of the blade 12. As shown in FIG. 2, it is also preferred that the handle is angled with respect to the blade 12 as denoted by &thgr;.
The shovel 10 is particularly adapted to clear snow on surfaces such as driveways and walkways. In normal operation, the user would initiate the snow clearing routine at one edge or in the middle of the driveway or walkway. By engaging the first ground contacting edge 16 against the driveway or walkway and by pushing the handle in a desired direction x (normally parallel to one edge of the driveway or walkway), snow is collected by the blade and ejected from the blade at trailing end 22 in a direction y. The ejection of the snow is a result of the angle &thgr; between the blade and the handle and the forward motion of the shovel 10. More specifically, as snow encounters the inner concave surface of the blade 12, it rises up the inner surface of the blade 12 to a position at which gravity causes the rising snow to fall and be deflected towards the trailing end 22 at which position it exits the shovel 10. The ejected snow results in a berm 24 of snow generally parallel to the direction of travel x and the area of the driveway or walkway beneath the blade has been cleared of snow. The handle would typically be held by the user at an angle of approximately 30-60 degrees with respect to the horizontal as shown in FIG. 3.
The user, upon reaching the end of the driveway or walkway would reverse the direction of travel and by rotating the blade of the shovel in a direction z (FIG. 3) would place the second ground contacting edge 18 against the driveway or walkway. With both ground contacting edge 16 and ground contacting edge 18 on the driveway/walkway surface 26, the shovel 10 would be in a self-supporting position. By stepping over or around the shovel 10, the handle 14 would be continued to be rotated in the direction z in order to lift the first ground contacting edge 16 from the surface 26. Thereafter, and by orienting the handle in order that it is parallel to the berm 24 and the leading end 20 is adjacent and aligned with the berm 24, the user pushes the shovel in a direction parallel to the berm 24 so as to continue the ejection of snow from the trailing end 22. By successively repeating passes as described above, the user can effectively cause the movement of snow from the driveway or walkway to a location lateral to the driveway or walkway without lifting the shovel 10 from the surface. It is understood that the actual use of the shovel will depend on snow conditions with the specific actions of the user being modified to the specific conditions.
During non-use or storage, the shovel is self-supporting when placed on its first and second ground contacting edges 16, 18 as shown in FIG. 4.
In order to maximize the efficiency of the use of the shovel 10, the first and second ground contacting edges 16, 18 of the blade 12 are provided with a bevelled edge 30, 30′ to promote the blade's snow lifting or scraping action close to the ground. That is, by providing a bevel, the edge of the shovel 10 is made sharper in order to promote dislodging compacted snow or ice from the ground. The angle of bevel, &ggr;, is preferably in the order of 45 degrees in order to correspond to the average angle of the handle 14 with respect to the horizontal during use.
In another embodiment, the first and second ground contacting surfaces are provided with a reinforced edge 32 of metal or plastic to provide a sharper or reinforced edge as shown in FIG. 3a.
Further still, it is preferred that the blade 12 is provided with rounded corners 40 at the leading corner of both the first and second ground contacting surfaces to facilitate the shovel's ability to ride over imperfections in the ground which might otherwise cause the blade 12 to catch on the ground.
Still further, it is also preferred that the leading end 20 and trailing end 22 are parallel to the handle 14 to enable the blade to be placed tightly against a vertical surface at the edge of a driveway or walkway.
In another embodiment, the blade is provided with a different or varying radius of curvature between the leading end 20 and trailing end 22 of the blade 10 as shown in FIG. 5. The radius of curvature of either a fixed or variable curvature blade will typically be in the range of 4-12 inches although these dimensions are not intended to be limiting.
In a still further embodiment of the blade, the leading edge of the blade 20 may be provided with a cap 55 to minimize spillage of snow from the leading edge during use as shown in FIG. 7.
The handle 14 of the shovel 10 may have various embodiments including a straight or a bent shaft. Specific embodiments of the handle 14 may include an auxiliary handle 50 or handles to promote the ergonomics of using the shovel 10. In particular, an auxiliary handle as shown in FIG. 6 may be provided wherein the auxiliary handle 50 may rotate about the main handle 14. Other embodiments may provide one or more auxiliary handles in a fixed position.
In one embodiment as shown in FIG. 7, the angle of the blade 12 with respect to the handle 14 is adjustable (FIG. 7) enabling the user to set a particular angle for optimization of the use of the shovel depending upon the depth and characteristics of the snow. That is, in the event that the snow is deeper and/or heavier, the user may select a smaller angle &thgr;, so as to effectively reduce the width of the blade 12 as it is pushed through the snow.
In another embodiment, the handle may be selectively offset with respect to the blade 14 by moving the handle along a track 60 on the blade 12 as shown in FIG. 7.
The shovel 10 may be manufactured from materials known to those skilled in the art including various woods, metals and plastics.