Lana Duke. Futon. April 14th , 2018.
October of 1991 saw another group of inventors including Mark S. Barton, Kurt J. Bandach and Mark E. Schlichter introduce an interesting concept of a pivoting pawl as they referred to it. This was basically a specially designed block that would hang on the seat section that would engage against a step located on the back rest and using gravitational force influences the pawl to both hang unengaged when the futon is in an upright position and to engage when the seat is lifted and the pawl engages against the step to allow the frame to be operated while standing in front and returns the futon from a bed position back into a seating position. This patent was assigned to August Lotz Co., Inc. who implemented this design into their successful line of futon products. This marked an interesting approach to frame conversion as now the frame was facilitating the movement back into a sofa position by having pawls engage into steps designed into the back rest of the frame.
Another issue the black metal frames suffered from were bending stretcher bars or rails. Again the hollow nature of these strecther rails presented issues with breakage and bending. Early designs involved a steel tooth design that would fit into pocket welds on the arms. These would snap off over use. The alternative design was to run a bolt through the arms and into the rails. While better it still did not address the issue of bending stretcher rails.
Stress supports are usually narrow boards that help to reinforce the slats from the underneath. Not only do they reinforce the slat, but for those companies whose stress supports fit in snuggly against the front and back framing boards--they have the added benefit of helping to keep the futon frame from skewing when it is converted from bed to sofa. Likewise, stress supports with three screws per support are better than those with only two.
Mattresses were also made quite well including quality innerspring mattresses made with steel components manufactured by Leggett & Platt, a supplier of steel components for many of the top mattress manufacturers throughout the United States. An extensive network of futon cover manufacturers also began to work hard at producing quality zippered covers from upholstery fabrics as well as more modern materials like microfiber. This level of quality is what would make futons a viable alternative to other conventional furniture and the popularity for these products soon began to grow.
In December 1991 Thomas L. Meade submitted a convertible furniture frame patent (Patent Number 5170519) that did not use arms in its design for assisting conversion of the futon but a hinges and stops arrangement. The seat and back sections incorporated pieces of lumber beneath them to act as supports. There were two of these used on each section that when laid down in a bed position would rest on these supports. The genius in this design was its ability to pivot on a set of nylon wheels located towards the lower back of the seat section supports. All one has to do was tilt the frame back on the wheels which would put the back rest on the floor and pull the seat section up to unlock it and lower it down into a bed position. This design was simple, functional and easy to operate without the need for arms on the ends of the frame to help in the futons conversion.
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