US 20020125468 A1
A multi-part fence cap system. The fence cap system has a base unit sized and shaped for attachment to a fence post. A cap portion, selectable from a plurality of different shaped cap portions, is sized and shaped for interfitting mating engagement with an upper attachment flange of the base unit. Available cap portion include a pyramidal shaped cap, a flat top cap with sloping peripheral edges, and a cardinal hat shaped dome cap. For convenience, in one embodiment the cap portion is provided with a snap-on feature to allow a substantially leakless finished fence cap design. For over size posts, an adapter sub-base unit is provided for receiving therein the base unit. In one embodiment, the fence posts are rectangular, and the base unit is adapted to fit over the exposed upper end of the fence post.
1. A post cap system, said cap system adapted for mounting on a fence post or other post, said post cap system comprising:
(a) a base unit, said base unit comprising
(i) a downwardly extending peripheral edge flange, and
(ii) an upwardly extending attachment portion, said attachment portion further comprising a first component of a ridge/groove attachment system;
(iii) extending from said downwardly extending peripheral edge flange to said upwardly extending attachment portion, an architectural sidewall of preselected height;
(b) a cap portion, said cap portion comprising
(i) a lower attachment rim, said lower attachment rim further comprising a second component of a ridge/groove attachment system, said second component sized and shaped for complementary mating engagement with said first component of said ridge/groove attachment system, and
(ii) an upwardly extending leakless weather tight roof portion.
2. The fence cap system as set forth in
3. The fence cap system as set forth in
4. The fence cap system as set forth in
5. The fence cap system as set forth in
6. The fence cap system as set forth in
7. The fence cap system as set forth in
(a) a peripheral flange
(b) a sidewall portion,
(c) a base receiving portion, said base receiving portion sized and shaped for receiving therein said downwardly extending peripheral edge flange of said base unit therein.
8. The apparatus as set forth in
9. The apparatus as set forth in
10. A fence cap system for covering an exposed upper end and adjacent upper edges of a fence post, said fence cap system comprising:
(a) a base means, said base means having (i) a peripheral edge portion adapted to snugly fit about said upper edges of said fence post, and (ii) a an upwardly extending attachment portion, said attachment portion further comprising a first component of a ridge/groove attachment system, and (iii) extending from said downwardly extending peripheral edge flange to said upwardly extending attachment portion, a sidewall; and
(b) a cap means, said cap means having (i) a lower rim, said lower rim further comprising a second component of a ridge/groove attachment system, said second component sized and shaped for complementary mating engagement with said first component of said ridge/groove attachment system, and (ii) an upwardly extending roof portion.
11. The apparatus as set forth in
12. The apparatus as set forth in
13. The apparatus as set forth in
14. The apparatus as set forth in
15. A fence cap system, said fence cap system adapted for mounting on a fence post, to protect the upper end thereof, said fence cap system comprising:
(a) a base unit, said base unit comprising
(i) a downwardly extending peripheral edge, and
(ii) an upwardly extending attachment portion, said attachment portion further comprising a first component of an attachment system;
(iii) extending from said downwardly extending peripheral edge to said upwardly extending attachment portion, a sidewall of preselected design and height;
(iv) at least one attachment member, said attachment member comprising a receiving portion sized and shaped to receive therein a fastener for securing said base unit to said fence post;
(b) a cap portion, said cap portion comprising
(i) a lower rim, said lower rim further comprising a second component of an attachment system, said second component sized and shaped for complementary engagement with said first component of said attachment system, and
(ii) an upwardly extending roof portion.
16. The fence cap system as set forth in
17. The fence cap system as set forth in
18. The fence cap system as set forth in
19. The fence cap system as set forth in
20. The fence cap system as set forth in
21. A cap system for posts having a peripheral upper end portion, said cap system comprising:
(a) a base unit, said base unit having
(i) a lower peripheral flange portion having interior sides; said interior sides sized and shaped to be complementary to said peripheral upper end of the post
(ii) an attachment portion having a first element of a complementary attachment system;
(b) a cap portion having
(i) an lower rim portion including a second element of a complementary attachment system, and
(ii) an upper cap portion integrally provided with said lower rim portion, said upper cap portion including a roof adapted for sheltering said post from rainwater intrusion.
22. The cap system for posts as set forth in
23. The cap system for posts as set forth in
24. The cap system for posts as set forth in
25. The cap system for posts as set forth in
26. The cap system as set forth in
27. The cap system as set forth in
28. A cap system configured for covering an upper end of a post, said cap system comprising:
(a) collar means for placement on the upper end of a post, said collar means including
a downwardly extending peripheral flange portion configured to circumscribe the upper end of the post when the collar means is placed thereon, said peripheral flange portion having a lower end;
one or more cross-members, said cross-members each further comprising one or more fastener guides;
an attachment portion, said attachment portion including a first member of an attachment system;
a sidewall extending from said peripheral flange portion to said attachment portion;
(b) cap means for placement on the collar means to cover the upper end of the post, said cap means including
(i) a lower rim portion having thereon a second element of an attachment system, and
(ii) a roof wall portion extending outwardly sufficiently to cover the upper end of the post
(c) wherein said first attachment means and said second attachment means are configured for complementary mating engagement to provide snap-on assembly.
29. The cap system as set forth in
30. The cap system as set forth in
31. The cap system as set forth in
32. The cap system as set forth in
33. The cap system as set forth in
34. The combination of a post and a cap for said post, said combination comprising:
a post having an upper end;
a base unit having a lower peripheral edge flange sized and shaped to receive therein the upper end of said post, said base unit having four sides and further comprising an architectural sidewall and a first attachment portion having a recessed groove;
a cap portion having
a second attachment portion with a protruding bead shaped ridge portion, said ridge portion complementary in size and shape for complementary mating engagement with said recessed groove in said base unit, and
an upper roof portion, said roof portion adapted, in combination with said base unit, to prevent rain from directly reaching said upper end of said post.
35. The combination as set forth in
36. A method of installing a cap on a post having an upper end portion, said method comprising the steps of:
providing a base unit, said base unit having a downwardly extending flange sized and shaped to closely fit said upper end portion of the post, the base unit having an architectural sidewall and a first element of an attachment system,
affixing said base unit to the upper end of said post;
fastening said base unit to said post;
providing a cap portion having a lower rim portion with a second element of an attachment system thereon;
placing said cap portion on said base unit so that said second element of said attachment system is brought in to complementary mating engagement with said first element of said attachment system in said base unit.
 This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/244,158, filed Oct. 26, 2000, which was based on Disclosure Document No. 475,571, filed Jun. 13, 2000, the disclosures of each of which are incorporated herein by this reference.
 A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
 This invention relates to fence posts, and more particularly, to caps for fence posts.
 In residential and light commercial construction, it is common practice to provide a fence, often of wood. In such cases, the fences normally utilize wooden fence posts. Many workable fence designs, and thus wooden fence post designs, have been developed over centuries of practical experience. However, such wooden fence posts are subject to degradation from exposure to the elements, and in particular, from exposure to water. To avoid such problems, fence posts of alternate materials, such as recycled plastic or concrete, have been occasionally utilized, more particularly in recent years. Yet, fence posts are often provided without fence post caps, which caps would be advantageous from either a practical, useful life perspective, or for aesthetic reasons.
 Even where fence posts have been provided with caps, often, a fence post cap of little aesthetic value has been provided. Resultantly, even though various workable fence post caps have been developed over the years, it would still be quite desirable to produce caps having a pleasing aesthetic impression, while still accomplishing the basic task of protecting the fence post from the elements. Moreover, it would be advantageous to reduce the overall costs that must necessarily be incurred in the manufacture and installation of such improved fence post caps. In particular, labor saving techniques, i.e., changes in the basic fence post cap structure that would simplify installation, and thus reduce the labor hours and resultant cost involved in an installation, would be welcome by the contractors charged with installing such fence post caps.
 I am aware of various attempts in which an effort has been made to provide an improved fence post cap. One of the more pertinent designs which resembles the instant invention to some remote extent is disclosed by Bender, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,419,536, issued May 30, 1995, for a FENCE POST CAP. He shows a fence post cap that is fastened to a fence post by use of a nail extending vertically downward through the center of the cap. Although he provides a lip which extends outward around the periphery of the upper end of the post, the use of a centrally located fastener or nail leaves open the possibility of rain seepage into and through the top of the post, thus defeating the basic purpose of a cap, i.e., protecting the wooden post from the elements.
 Importantly, the Bender patent does not provide a design which includes the feature of multiple components, including post caps with interlocking components for mating engagement of the fence post cap to a base portion. Nor does his method of attachment avoid the leakage of water on to the uppermost portions of a fence post. Moreover, his design does not does not include provisions for attachment of his cap via multiple fasteners, and thus is not particularly sturdy.
 Thus, there remains a substantial and as yet unsatisfied need for a workable fence post cap design that would provide the combination of a choice in cap appearance while providing simple installation in a substantially weather resistant design.
 The substantial advantages of my simple, multi-component fence post cap system, which include (a) a standardized support base unit, and (b) multiple, alternative cap shape designs that are each provided for interlocking engagement on a selected base unit, are important and self evident. My interlocking fence post caps are designed for easy, quick assembly for mounting on a fence post of pre-selected size, to provide a strong, substantially leak resistant, and visually pleasing fence post cap.
 It is an object of the invention to provide a base unit that fits tightly around the outer periphery of the top of a selected fence post.
 In one embodiment, to assist in mounting a base portion on the fence post, a base unit is provided with cross fastener support members with bores defined by vertical sidewall portions, for receiving fasteners to attach the base unit to the fence post.
 In various embodiments, an advantage provided by my fence cap system design is that the base unit has an upper mating surface designed to receive any one of alternately chosen fence post cap portions.
 In some embodiments, it is an advantage that the novel fence post cap system that is easily assembled, since the cap portion is provided having a “snap-on” mating engagement to a base portion that has been affixed to the top of a fence post.
 From the foregoing, it will be apparent to the reader that one advantage of some embodiments disclosed herein resides in the provision of a novel, multi-part fence cap system which simplifies the installation of fence caps on a variety of fence posts of various dimensions. This is done by providing a base unit and a selection of cap portions, each of which cap portions can be affixed to the applicable base unit by use of interlocking docking recessed edges and complementary bead shaped flanges for precisely and securely interfitting the mating surfaces of each of the base unit and cap portions, so that they are easily joined into a finished, sealed, substantially leakless fence cap.
 Other important but more specific objects of the invention reside in the provision of a fence cap as described herein which:
 can be manufactured in preselected size and height by joining a chosen base unit with a chosen cap portion, each of which has been provided in an appropriate preselected size so that the base unit lower dimensions, when joined into a fence post of selected size, provides a tight fitting finished fence post system;
 can be manufactured in a simple, straightforward manner to provide a sturdy, strong, fence post cap system;
 provide a design which allows assembly from a base unit and a cap portion, each of which have a strong internal structural support members, so that the final, finished fence cap system is sturdy;
 can in a relatively inexpensive manner reduce inventory costs at the distribution level, and can increase the flexibility of the field assembly to provide a selected fence post cap with a desired visual appearance;
 can be manufactured in a suitable plastic to unobtrusively match the desired fence or landscaping;
 can be provided ready to install, with pre-set fastener apertures as an integral part of the fence cap system package;
 can be finished with a substantially liquid tight snap-on sealed joint between the base unit and the cap portion, and is thus is likely to substantially resist leakage of water through the joint therebetween; and
 can be provided with a sub-base adapter suitable for attachment to over sized fence posts, which adapter is sized and shaped to receive a standard base unit, with both the adapter and the base unit being easily affixed to a fence post.
 Other important features, aspects, and advantages of my invention will become apparent to the reader from the foregoing and from the appended claims and as the ensuing detailed description and discussion proceeds in conjunction with the accompanying drawing.
 Disclosed herein is a novel multi-part fence cap system. The fence cap system includes a base unit and a cap portion. Importantly, any one of a variety of cap portions are mountable on a chosen base unit. The base unit has a lower exterior peripheral edge flange, and, extending downwardly therefrom a sidewall portion of preselected height H. The lower exterior peripheral edge flange fits tightly around the outer dimensions of the upper edge portion at the top end of a selected fence post. Extending inwardly from the lower exterior peripheral edge are one or more, and preferably a plurality of cross fastener support members with bores therein sized and shaped to receive fasteners therethrough.
 In the base units, a standardized docking recesses are provided, sized and shaped for firm mating engagement with corresponding standardized slotted snap attachment raised ridge bead shaped flange portions provided in a cap portion. Alternately, these interlocking attachment system components can be reversed in location with respect to the base unit and the cap unit. Alternately, a leveling feature can be provided in both the base unit and in the cap unit.
 My novel fence cap system provides a simple, virtually foolproof design for installation and assembly of fence caps utilizing a selected cap portion design. This fence cap system provides a significant improvement in the art by reducing complexity of manufacture of fence caps, by providing a uniform base unit design, and thus reduces inventory costs for carrying the necessary parts to provide various shaped fence post cap portions. Importantly, while only a few exemplary shaped caps are illustrated, namely pyramidal shaped cap portions, cardinal hat domed shaped cap portions, and flat top cap portions with sloping sidewalls and vertical edgewalls, many different desired ornamental cap portion shape can be provided utilizing the fence cap system components described and claimed herein.
 In order to enable the reader to attain a more complete appreciation of the invention, and of the novel features and the advantages thereof, attention is directed to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a multi-part fence cap, showing a base unit installed on a fence post and having affixed thereto a pyramidal cap portion.
FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective, showing the embodiment of a multi-part fence cap as first shown in FIG. 1, now showing in detail the base portion, including cross fastener support members provided with tubular cylindrical guides for receiving fasteners, such as nails or screws, to join the base unit to a fence post, as well as showing a raised, bead shaped attachment ridge of preselected length X within the lower interior rim of the cap portion.
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view, showing the embodiment of a multi-part fence cap system as first shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 above, where screws are used as fasteners to affix the base unit to a wooden fence post.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a fence post system, now showing a “cardinal” design cap portion located on the same design common base portion as illustrated in FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a fence post system, now showing a “flat” cap portion with “sloping edges”, and “vertical sidewalls” which cap portion is mounted on the same design common base portion as illustrated in FIG. 2.
FIG. 6 illustrates the use of an adapter sub-base, located under and configured for receiving engagement of the downwardly extending peripheral edge flange portion of the same base portion as shown in FIG. 2, and wherein the adapter sub-base is sized and shaped for slightly larger fence post sizes than that selected for a complementary embodiment of the base unit.
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view illustrating the details of utilizing an adapter sub-base of the type first shown in FIG. 6, provided so that an oversized fence post can be accommodated by first securing the sub-base adapter to the fence post via fastener(s), then securing the base unit to the fence post via fastener(s), and then affixing the snap-on cap portion to the base unit.
FIG. 8 is a detail of one embodiment for a snap-lock attachment of a fence cap portion to a base portion, showing the use of internal snap-on ridges in a cap unit that are designed to interfittingly and snugly engage in firm mating engagement with the corresponding depressions in a selected base unit.
FIG. 9 shows a cross-sectional view as taken through line 9-9 of FIG. 7, looking down on an adapter sub-base, now showing one embodiment for a pattern for including cross fastener support members having integral tubular cylindrical guides for receiving fasteners to join the adapter sub-base and a base unit to a fence post.
FIG. 10 illustrates the mounting of a flat top cap portion on a base unit that is affixed to a wooden fence post.
FIG. 11 is similar to FIG. 8, but now showing an alternate embodiment for a snap-lock attachment of a fence cap portion to a base portion, showing the use of internal snap-on ridges in a base unit that are designed to interfittingly and snugly engage corresponding depressions in the lower interior rim portion of a selected cap portion.
 The foregoing figures, being merely exemplary, contain various elements that may be present or omitted from actual implementations depending upon the circumstances. An attempt has been made to draw the figures in a way that illustrates at least those elements that are significant for an understanding of the various embodiments and aspects of the invention. However, various other elements of the fence cap system are also shown and briefly described to enable the reader to understand how various features may be utilized in order to sturdy, aesthetically pleasing, substantially weather tight fence post cap system.
 Attention is directed to FIG. 1 of the drawing, where a base unit 30 is shown as placed over a fence post 32. As better seen in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the base unit 30 is one of two components in this embodiment of a multi-component fence cap system, the other component being a cap portion, such as cap 40 as will be better understood by reference to FIG. 2. Importantly, cap portions of various designs can be provided, in the alternative, for mounting on the common base unit 30. This is clearly illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4, and 5, where (a) in FIG. 3 (like FIGS. 1 and 2) a pyramidal cap 40 is provided on base unit 30, (b) in FIG. 4 a domed or “cardinal hat” shaped cap 42 is provided on base unit 30, and (c) in FIG. 5 a flat cap 44 is provided on base unit 30.
 Base member 30 and the various cap portions 40, 42, and 44 are most advantageously formed by injection molding of a suitable substrate, such as plastic. In one embodiment of a multi-component fence cap system, the base member 30 remains of constant size and shape, no matter what shape is provided for the cap portion to be used on that particular base member 30. Likewise, in such an embodiment, the lower interior rim 50 portion of each injection molded cap portion, such as in caps 40, 42, and 44, remains standardized and of constant size and shape to interfittingly and matingly engage base 30 no matter which cap portion architectural design is provided with respect to the upper reaches of such cap. The standardization of the lower interior rim 50 of cap portions includes raised ridges 52 which fit over corresponding depressions 54 in the standardized base unit 30. This allows for different cap designs, such as caps 40, 42, or 44, to be used interchangeably with the same base unit 30. Also, the location of ridges 52 and of depressions 54 could be easily reversed, i.e., ridges 52′ in the base 30′ and depressions 54′ in the cap 40′, this being considered an equivalent within the teachings hereof, and could easily be practiced without departing from the teaching and claims hereof, as illustrated in FIG. 11.
 As further detailed in FIGS. 2, 3, and 9, the base unit 30 has at least one, and in one advantageous embodiment, preferably four fastener mounting points 60 defined by sidewalls 62 of substantially cylindrical tubular guides or bores 64 provided in cross members 66 and 67. Fasteners F such screws or nails are utilized to affix the base unit to the wooden fence post 32. In addition to being used as anchor points to post 32, the fastener mounting points can also be used as leveling adjusters. Also, note the leveling shoulder features 68 in cap 44 depicted in cross-section in FIG. 10.
 As seen in various figures, including FIG. 1, FIG. 2, and FIG. 3, base unit 30 can optionally include a visually pleasing sidewall design, such as the indentation design 70 along an upwardly extending sidewall 72 of height HS. The first component of a ridge/groove attachment system, namely indentation 54, is ideally provided throughout the perimeter of an upwardly extending attachment portion 78 of height HA. A downwardly extending peripheral edge flange 80 of height HF extends downward from the sidewall portion 72 of base unit 30. The peripheral edge flange 80 has an interior sidewall 82 that closely matches in size and shape the upper exterior peripheral portion 84 adjacent to top 86 of post 32. In one embodiment, the peripheral edge flange 80, the sidewall 72, and the attachment portion 78, are molded to provide an integral, a one-piece base unit 30. In a particularly advantageous embodiment, the one-piece base unit also includes first and second cross-members 66 and 67. With respect to the integrally provided sidewall 72, ideally, a radiused visually appealing sidewall element 70 is provided with one or more suitable visual features, but any desired visual design of suitable size and shape can be furnished along sidewall 72.
 For the pyramidal cap portion 40 illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2, 3, and 5, note that since posts are often rectangular, a four sided pyramid having four side roof panels 88 and for vertical lower panels 90 are provided. Similarly, as illustrated, the flat top cap portions have sloping side panels 142 and four vertical lower panels 144. Other shapes are easily provided within the teachings hereof.
 For those situations where an oversized post 32 is provided (for example, in a nominal five inch by five inch size, rather than in a four inch by four inch size), an adapter sub-base 100 can be provided, as shown in FIGS. 6, 7, and 9. Such an adapter sub-base 100 includes a peripheral flange 102 for fitting about the perimeter of the post 32, a sidewall portion 104 extending from the peripheral flange 102 and above the post 32, and a base receiving portion 104. The base receiving portion 104 is sized and shaped for receiving therein the downwardly extending peripheral edge flange 80 of the base unit 30. In one embodiment shown, the base receiving portion 104 comprises a generally U-shaped upwardly opening receiving trough 110. Importantly, the generally U-shaped upwardly opening receiving trough 110 is provided in a water tight material, so that any water received therein cannot penetrate therethrough to attack the upper end 86 of post 32 on which the adapter sub-base 100 is mounted.
 Attachment of the adapter sub-base 100 is done much like attachment of the base unit, in that cross members 120 and 122 are each provided with at least one, and preferably a plurality of tubular cylindrical fastener receiving guides 124 defined by interior edgewall portions 126. Also, note that since the cross members 120 and 122 leave an open void in the interior of the adapter sub-base 100, fasteners F30 (see FIG. 7) affixing the base unit to post 32 can be passed through such voids to solidly affix the base unit 30 and the adapter sub-base 100 to the post 32.
 In another variation, note in FIGS. 5 and 10 that with a flat roof type cap portion 44, with a flat top 128, and an inner wall 130 provided having an interior rim portion 132 with the second element of an attachment system thereon, namely ridges 134. This inner wall 130 extends upwardly and vertically. The outer wall 140 includes an outwardly sloping portion 142 and a vertical outermost portion 144. Thus, the attachment system utilizes the base unit (collar means) having an attachment portion with perimeter with a groove 54 formed therein, and wherein said cap means has an interior rim portion 52 in inner wall 130 which nests in the groove 54 when the ridge portions engage the groove.
 For purposes of configuring the component of my fence cap system, the desired dimensions, including heights and thickness of various components, can be varied to suit the particular circumstances, and should be easily determined without undue experimentation by those familiar with the art and to which this specification is directed. Also, it is preferred that standardized base units be utilized (for example, uniformly provided in injection molded plastic), so that a single base unit design can be (but this is an advantage, not a necessity) utilized for mating with a variety of cap portion designs. In this manner, the lower rim of each injection molded cap portion is standardized in size and shape as well, and thus this dimension remains constant no matter what shape or appearance the cap takes on thereabove. In one embodiment, this standardization extends to a standardized attachment system, in which slotted depressions in identical locations on one component are adapted to receive raised ridges molded into a complementary companion component. Thus, this attachment system design allows different cap portion designs to be used interchangeably with the same base unit design. In one embodiment, this attachment system is provided with raised snap attachment ridges which can be snapped on and off manually, but which allow the cap portion to be firmly mounted on the base unit. The attachment ridges can be of any convenient preseleted length X, as noted in FIG. 2, but a length of at least one inch provides satisfactory results in many cases, so that the inwardly extending ridge portion of preselected length easily grasps the recessed portion 54 in the base unit (also called a collar means). Also, as illustrated, the cap portion locks over the mating surface of the attachment system that is located in the base unit, so as to conceal from view any unsightly fasteners such as nails or screws, as well as substantially preventing moisture from reaching the upper end portion of the fence post.
 Although any desired overall thickness and dimensions can be utilized consistent with a fence post of selected size, it is important to provide components with the important flange peripheral edge flange 80, and a suitable attachment system, whether it be an interfitting mating engagement system, with the disclosed ridge 52 and depression 54 system as depicted, or another functional equivalent.
 It is to be appreciated that various aspects and embodiments of the fence cap system design described herein are an important improvement in such articles of manufacture. Although only a few exemplary embodiments have been described in detail, various details are sufficiently set forth in the drawings and in the specification provided herein to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention(s), which need not be further described by additional writing in this detailed description. Importantly, the aspects and embodiments described and claimed herein may be modified from those shown without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages provided by this invention, and may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. Therefore, the embodiments presented herein are to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. As such, this disclosure is intended to cover the structures described herein and not only structural equivalents thereof, but also equivalent structures. Numerous modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention(s) may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Thus, the scope of the invention(s), as set forth in the appended claims, and as indicated by the drawing and by the foregoing description, is intended to include variations from the embodiments provided which are nevertheless described by the broad interpretation and range properly afforded to the plain meaning of the claims set forth below.