US 20030089388 A1
The structure, for the radial deployment of branches (7) about a mast (1) bearing a slide (6, 8) mobile between a position of deployment and a position of folding of the branches (7), is noteworthy in that each branch (7) is mounted pivotally, at a predetermined intermediary pivot point (9), on one end of a retaining arm (4), working in extension upon the passage to the position of deployment, in order to hold the intermediate point (9) at a given distance from an apex (5) of the mast to which is connected an apical end of the arm (4), retention being exerted against the action of the slide (6, 8) moving away from the apex (5) an end, hinge mounted, controlling deployment of the branch (7).
1. Structure for the radial deployment of branches (7) about a mast (1) bearing a slide (6, 8) mobile between a position of deployment and a position of folding of the branches (7), characterised by the fact that each branch (7) is mounted pivotally, at a predetermined intermediary pivot point (9), on one end of a retaining arm (4), working in extension upon the passage to the position of deployment, in order to hold the intermediate point (9) at a given distance from an apex (5) of the mast to which is connected an apical end of the arm (4), retention being exerted against the action of the slide (6, 8) moving away from the apex (5) an end, hinge mounted, controlling deployment of the branch (7).
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4. Structure according to one of claims 2 and 3, in which the first covering means (15) comprise a central orifice, for the passage of an end section of the mast (1) arranged to receive a capping end piece (3), and a peripheral zone of the first covering means (15) is arranged to co-operate with means for keeping the first covering means (15) under tension.
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 The present invention relates to a system for fastening and operating a frame bearing, or otherwise, a covering, which forms the structure of an umbrella, a parasol, a garden sunshade or stall cover, an awning, a spatial antenna, a floating anchor or drogue, a grapnel, a spray lance or a fruit gathering device, and the function of which is commonly to protect persons from climatic precipitation, solar radiation or other phenomena and, in more particular ways, to pick up waves, to collect particles in powder form or fruit, or to slow down, or even anchor, a vehicle, in the case of the floating anchor, or drogue, or the grapnel.
 In the case of the umbrella or parasol, the conventional article takes the form of a covering, also known as a ‘cloth’, arranged on a structure composed of branches, also known as ‘ribs’, in the case of the longer branches, located on the upper part, the others, located in lower positions, and referred to as ‘forks’, serving to operate the former. The ribs are hinged on a mast via a piece known as the ‘shoulder’, and the forks are hinged on said mast via a ring known as a ‘slide ring’.
 Traditionally, articles such as umbrellas and parasols are opened by moving upwards the slide ring to which are fixed the forks in the form of hinged arms which drive the ribs bearing the covering. They are closed by proceeding in the reverse manner, with the slide ring travelling down towards the handle. This type of fastening has several drawbacks. Firstly, given that, in the conventional system, the article can have two positions of equilibrium, the normal one when the ribs bearing the cloth form an angle of less than 90° in relation to the mast, and the other, so-called “reversal” or “inside out” position, when these same cloth-bearing ribs form an angle of more than 90° in relation to the mast. Secondly, given that, in the conventional system, the covering is permanently fixed, this makes it impossible to replace it easily, or to remove it in order to repair or clean it. Thirdly, given that, in the conventional system, the pointed ends of the ribs project beyond the cloth, there is a definite risk to the eyes of persons in their vicinity. Finally, fourthly, in the conventional system, although they are very ingenious, the devices for making these articles collapsible or foldable, are complicated and fragile.
 The device according to the invention makes it possible to overcome the four drawbacks aforementioned.
 In addition, in the particular case umbrella or sunshade of the so-called stall cover type, this device has four advantages over similar conventional articles. Firstly, this device enables the objects to be displayed to be attached more easily and efficiently. Secondly, it facilitates opening as the covering is deployed by pushing towards the ground the exterior part of the mast, instead of applying an upward force. Thirdly, in the event of two cloths being used, it enables warm air and insects to escape upwards and, fourthly, it offers both the three safeguards against the umbrella turning inside out, and an additional safeguard against its blowing away since, if pressures are too strong, it can turn inside out and upwards without breaking.
 In the case of protection for a spray lance, this device is entirely novel; it would be useful in protecting gardeners, in particular, when they spray toxic products with a hand pump or compressor type lance.
 In the case of the fruit gathering device, this makes picking easier, with screening of leaves and twigs, etc., than with the devices used, which are generally tarpaulins placed on the ground.
 As to the conventional grapnel, this generally has its branches, or so-called claws, already in open position. Nonetheless, some grapnels have a hinge system in which the claws are deployed just before the device is thrown or launched, by rotating the claws, holding them perpendicular to the axis, in a fixed manner thanks to a locking ring. This type of fastening has several drawbacks. Firstly, given that, in the conventional system, the deployed article is locked in open position, it cannot be disengaged if the claws are trapped in an obstacle. Secondly, given that, in the conventional system, the article is opened, when this is possible, before being thrown, unwanted braking can occur at the time of throwing, but there is also a potential risk when storing.
 The device according to the invention enables these two drawbacks to be overcome since this grapnel is thrown in closed position and since it can open its claws and thus disengage itself.
 Patent FR 760 703 discloses an umbrella comprising a staff or pole a along which slides a long tube e bearing pivoting ribs d. A covering cloth c, bearing axially on a cap b at the apex of pole a, is fixed on the periphery to the free ends of ribs d, so as to be taut when the umbrella is in folded position. The whole then forms a flattened triangle, with one large outer side (the taut cloth), one large inner side (the rib) still slightly inclined on the axis of pole a and, at the apex, a small side slightly oppositely inclined, that is to say bearing cap b projects radially in relation to the point of attachment of rib d on long tube e. As a result, the triangle is opened by pulling long tube e towards the base of pole a. It is cloth c that serves as a taut, pulling member which forces the outer end of rib d to describe an arc of a circle about cap b when its top inner end, supporting ribs d, moves away from cap b. This umbrella is thus perfectly functional with only the aforementioned members. It further comprises a bearing member f or i or l. This bearing member only plays a part when the umbrella is (already) in open position. Its function is to prevent ribs d from reversing, that is to say from continuing their opening movement. The bearing member can be a rod f or a chain i for retention towards the base, thus acting in traction. It can also be an abutment spacer rod l, thus acting in compression. It is indicated that it is a “bearing” member, that is to say a member having a static function, which is functional only in open position. Its function is to lock: it opposes the action of the operating means beyond a certain travel distance of the latter. It is a stop, which applies no traction to the ribs when the umbrella is deployed. Furthermore, FIG. 3 and the corresponding text contain no technical teaching as the assembly described cannot perform the intended function. Bearing spacer l of FIG. 3 cannot, in fact, perform its function as a stop to limit the opening of ribs d: it is integral with a sleeve n sliding over rib d, so that, if an upward force is exerted by the wind, spacer l slides, increasing the length of the base section of rib d, and thus does not exert any bearing effect.
 The invention comprises, in fact, according to a first feature, a mast composed of two parts sliding one in the other, the internal part being longer than the external part. According to the invention, short, hinged arms known as ‘forks’ are fastened to the interior part of said mast by a circular hinging device known as a ‘shoulder’. According to the invention, long branches, which will be referred to as ‘ribs’, are attached to the external part of the same mast by a circular hinging device known as a ‘slide ring’. Furthermore, each fork is hinged on a rib at a position appropriate for the function to be performed by the article. It is the relative sliding movement between these two parts of the mast that ensures the closing and the opening of the article since, in folded position, the external part of the mast is in upper position, that is to say with the slide ring close to the shoulder, hence close to the apex of the object. Movement of the slide ring away from the shoulder drives downwards the hinged part of the rib on the slide ring. But said rib is then pulled upwards since it is, itself, hinged on a fork also fastened to the shoulder at the apex of the internal part of the mast. What has just been described above justifies the fact that the system is described as “inverted” since, in similar conventional articles, it is a movement towards the apex, and not downwards, as in the case of the invention, that deploys the covering and, in addition, it is the forks, located in a lower position, that push the ribs in similar conventional articles, whereas, in the invention, the forks are in an upper position in relation to the ribs and pull them towards the apex. The ribs may vary in number, from 6 to 12, in relation to the function to be performed by the article, for example 8 in the case of conventional umbrellas and parasols. The length of the ribs can also vary according to the intended use; for example, the two extreme cases are those of very short ribs in anchors and grapnels (they are referred to as claws) and of very long forks in the case of a stall cover.
 According to a second feature, the invention comprises an innovation with regard to its covering, since the latter can take two different forms provided with several types of fastening. When the object of the invention is not foldable, this original structure can receive a single covering of the conventional type, permanently fixed, but this considerably restricts the possible applications of this innovation since the latter makes it easy to receive a removable covering composed of two separate parts, a cloth referred to as an upper one, given the normal orientation of the article, covering the forks, and a so-called lower cloth borne by the ribs. When the object of the invention is foldable, there is also this dual choice, namely a single-cloth covering or a two-cloth covering. Nonetheless, in the case of the foldable article, the single-cloth covering is also removable since the ribs, by bending, allow the cloth to be installed. A single cloth can also be an advantageous solution in the case of a stall cover.
 This so-called inverted system, which is the object of the present invention, has the advantage of precluding the risk of “turning inside out” in the case of umbrellas, for two reasons that derive from the system. In the case of an umbrella, the external part of the mast being locked in lower position by the handle, it has only one position of equilibrium, the functional open position. Indeed, as the forks are longer than the parts of the ribs located between the points of attachment of said ribs on the slide ring and the points of attachment of ribs and forks to one another, it is impossible for the ribs to exceed the critical angle of 90°, the critical position that resulted in the umbrella turning inside out, as in a similar conventional system. Secondly, in the most favourable case, wherein the article has two cloths, the air can flow through the spaces between these two cloths and thus be evacuated without causing any problems.
 In order to enhance this safeguard against turning inside out, especially in the case peculiar to the covering formed of a single cloth, there can be provided a system involving a cord running through a peripheral hem ensuring that the length of the external circumference of the article is preserved as this device enhances the strength of the covering, which is subjected to considerable tensile stress in the event of particularly strong winds.
 According to the second feature of the invention, the respective positions of the ribs and the forks make it possible to install easily and removably two independent covering cloths, which makes it possible to replace them either to match the pattern or the colour of the cloth with that of one's clothes or with the function that the article is expected to perform (umbrella or parasol, for example), or to repair or clean them. The upper cloth is installed from above and locked at the top by an end piece forced or screwed into place, and from the below by means of an elastic band or other system fixing onto the forks. The lower cloth is installed from below, using a hem or slide ring device disposed about the ribs and by an elastic band or other type of device fixed on the ribs to keep them taut.
 The peripheral ends of the branches of the invention, which delimit the outer surface occupied by the article no longer have any dangerous pointed elements as these ends are fitted with rounded caps which are, moreover, located inside a hem of the lower cloth and are thus no longer any danger to persons in the neighbourhood. If a system comprising a cord to prevent the article from being blown inside out were to be arranged therein, this would further enhance this type of safeguard.
 The basic device of the invention, namely the mast composed of two parts sliding one in the other, provides a simple solution to the problem of folding the mast. Indeed, when the article is closed, that is to said folded up, the device for fastening the ribs together is located well over half way up the mast, which makes it possible to limit the length of the external part of the mast to a length corresponding to half of the mast. In this particular case, the internal part of the mast can thus receive a joint in the area of its half-length; this joint will, moreover, be held rigidly in place when the article is deployed since the external part of the mast, by coming into place through the downward movement, will encompass and stabilise this joint; thus the length of the article in folded position could reduce its deployed length by half. If the article is foldable, the invention will be provided with ribs constituted by two hinged parts. The forks are hinged at one end, beyond the median joint of the ribs, the purpose of this being to deploy the peripheral half-rib by means of a lever mechanism at the time of opening.
 In the case of the parasol, if the relative movement of the two parts of the mast is not limited, the parasol can open upwards, which makes it less dangerous since it cannot then blow away, which is the cause of a great number of accidents on the beaches and elsewhere.
 In the case of the grapnel and of protection for a lance, it is this reversal that is particularly advantageous since it affords protection, in the case of protection for the lance, and enables the grapnel to be disengaged.
 In the case of the drogue, a covering of varying size is fixed onto the claws of a type of grapnel the structure of which would be less dense than that of a grapnel since a grapnel is supposed to sink, while a drogue has to float.
 According to the particular forms of embodiment:
 The cross-section of the mast can be of various shapes: round, square, rectangular, oval, rectangular with rounded corners, as well as of any size, both in diameter and in length. In the particular case of an awning, the structure can be provided by several masts, with each of said masts bearing a smaller number of branches and branches which could be disposed solely on one side of the mast.
 Each of the two parts, interior and exterior, of the mast can be constituted by one or more parts in order, among other things, to facilitate transport of the article and also to be able to adjust the useful height thereof.
 The branches, that is to say the ribs and forks, can also have various cross-sections: round, square, rectangular, oval, rectangular with rounded corners, solid, hollow, split, with grooves or channels; they can also be twinned, that is to say that a branch can be formed of several parts, identical or otherwise.
 It would be very advantageous to use twin forks, that is to say two forks side by side, hinging to pull a single rib.
 The ribs can be hinged in the case of the foldable invention.
 The covering, composed of one or more cloths, fixed or removable, can be made of various materials: various fabrics made of plastic, vinyl, aluminium, tulle, cotton, taffetas, surah, satin, serge, lace, latex, leather or antenna cable.
 The outer edge of the lower covering can receive, in a hem, an adjustable cord limiting the circumference of this covering, reinforcing the safeguard against turning inside out and enabling the article to be held closed.
 The system for fastening the coverings on the branches can be designed in various ways: with hooks, press-studs, Velcro fasteners, by engaging a piece in the groove in the branch or by means of a sliding ring.
 The mast can be hinged to make the invention foldable.
 The mast can be provided with a built-in foot.
 The mast can have a pedal or handle type device fixed to its external part to help in the operation of opening the article.
 The end piece that is located on the apical portion of the article can receive a tip, a ball or a piece of an intermediate shape; such shapes can be solid or hollow; this end piece is removable, “forced” or screwed onto the interior part of the mast on which it holds the central part of the covering.
 The handle can be a conventional hook type handle, as well as having other shapes: straight and pointed in the case, for example, of a parasol, in the shape of an arched handle, a pommel, or a ring in the case of a grapnel.
 A compression ring can be suitably disposed, optionally, between the shoulder and the slide ring so as to make it easier to open the device according to the invention.
 The invention is illustrated by the annexed drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 illustrates the principle of the invention. The left-hand half of the drawing shows the structure as it is when the article is in closed position, and the right-hand half of the drawing shows it as it is when the article is in open position;
FIG. 2 is a longitudinal cross-section of the invention in closed position, in the event of the invention being an umbrella;
FIG. 3 shows a detail of the upper part of the same article;
FIG. 4 shows the upper cloth of the covering, viewed from above, a cloth which, in this drawing, is cross ruled;
FIG. 5 shows the lower cloth of the covering, viewed from above, likewise cross ruled;
FIG. 6 is a simplified longitudinal cross-section of the invention when it is in open position. To avoid rendering the drawing unnecessarily complex, a part of the branches and of the covering on one side only is shown;
FIG. 7 shows a device for fastening and hinging the branches:
FIG. 7a shows a device for hinging the ribs on the slide ring;
FIG. 7b shows a device for hinging the forks on the shoulder;
FIG. 7c shows a device for hinging the forks on the one for the ribs, the hook for fixing the elastic band also being shown;
FIG. 8 shows the fitting together of the fork and rib hinging devices in the case of a foldable umbrella:
FIG. 8a illustrates the closed position;
FIG. 8b shows the open position;
FIG. 9 shows the invention in the case of an umbrella. To avoid rendering the drawing unnecessarily complex, a part of the branches and of the covering on one side only is shown;
FIG. 10 shows a device making the mast foldable and housing in the two parts of the internal rod of the mast:
FIG. 10a shows a side view of this device in folded position;
FIG. 10b shows the same device, in a view perpendicular to that of FIG. 9a (except for pieces 20 and 21), but in the position of an open article in which the joint (23) is locked, hence the mast is straight;
FIG. 11 shows a so-called garden type parasol whereof the part of the internal mast is in 2 parts. The left-hand side of the drawing shows the parasol closed, and the right-hand side shows the parasol open. A foot with a locking system has been sketched in.
FIG. 12 shows a so-called stall cover in open position. Only one bearing branch is shown. A garment is suspended to illustrate the support function.
FIG. 13 shows a grapnel:
FIG. 13a shows the grapnel closed in storage and throwing position;
FIG. 13b shows the grapnel in active, gripping position;
FIG. 13c shows the grapnel in the so-called disengagement inverted position.
FIG. 14 shows a means of protection for a spray lance:
FIG. 14a shows the lance protection means in closed, transport position;
FIG. 14b shows the lance protection means in open position, for use with a jet;
FIG. 15 shows a fruit gathering device in gathering position.
 To facilitate the description of the invention, the nomenclature will refer to a particular example, first of all that of the umbrella (FIGS. 2 to 10) and, to specify the positions of each piece, we shall take the case in which the article is held in a normal open position, namely with the holding handle towards the ground and the protective covering deployed skywards.
 With reference to these drawings, the interior mast (1) is the axis of the article since it is onto it that the handle (2), the end piece (3) and the shoulder (5) are fixed. The forks (4) are fixed freely, i.e. with a joint that permits a movement of sagittal rotation on the internal part of the mast (1), by the conventional device, existing on articles of the same type, known as the shoulder (5). The external rod of the mast (6) is hollow and of a slightly larger diameter in order to be able to slide about the internal rod of the mast (1). To the external rod of the mast (6) the ribs (7) are freely fixed by a conventional device called the slide ring (8), which is conventionally to be found in similar articles. It should be noted that, by comparison with a conventional article of the same type, the branches are inverted, the short ones (4) being above the long ones (7). The forks and the ribs are freely fixed to one another by an original joint (9), and to the shoulder and the slide ring by an end with a conventional eye (10) held by a wire. In the case of a double covering, the lower covering (11) has, as a fastening device, a hem of the cloth (12) into which each rib (7) is inserted. This lower covering (11) is stretched by being held, at the peripheral end, by the closure of the hem (12) and, centrally, by a round elastic band (13) running through a hem fastening onto a hook (14) integrally fixed to the rib (7). The upper covering (15) is fixed to the apex of the interior part of the mast (1) by fitting on the end piece (3) and by a round, circular elastic band (16) fastening onto hooks (17) integrally fixed to the peripheral ends of the forks (9). A hem (18) located in the peripheral region of the lower covering (11) can receive a cord (19) which can be tightened to varying degrees to adjust the size of the circumference of the invention. This cord (19) can also be used to hold the invention in closed position.
 In view of the different fastening devices previously described, the movement towards the handle (2) of the external part of the mast (6) causes the slide ring (8) to move away in relation to the shoulder (5). This movement, given that the forks (4) are fastened to the ribs (7) by the device (9), leads to the deployment of the ribs (7) as well as of the lower (11) and upper (15) coverings which are fixed thereto. A conventional device (20) for temporarily halting the relative movement of the two rods of the mast ensures that the invention is held open when it is disposed in the complementary opening (21). A device in the form of a compression spring (22) could also assist the opening of the invention since the spring compressed between the shoulder (5) and the slide ring (8) will be compressed upon closing and will thus release its potential energy upon opening.
 In its foldable form, the invention has a first device hinge device (23) for the internal part of the mast which can take the form of a double ball, or ball-ball, joint of the screen or bicycle chain type (23), but it could also be made of a flexible material such as rubber, cordage or metallic braiding. This hinge device (23), whatever it is, is locked, hence rendered rigid, by the external part of the mast that envelops it when the article is open and the locking system (20 and 21) is in conjunction. This device for folding the mast can also be found in the case of parasols and other, similar articles. In its foldable form, the invention has a second adapting means in the area of the ribs (7). The latter are in two parts to enable them to fold back. In this case too, the forks hinge on the end of the central part of the outer half-rib (9), while the half-ribs hinge on one another between this end and the other (9′) in such a way as to produce a lever effect in order for the forks, when pulling, to deploy this outer half-rib and thus open the covering.
 In its stall cover type umbrella or parasol form, the mast can also assume its foldable form. The length of the outer part of the mast can be more or less extended. The inner part of the mast can be in two parts and a pedal or an operating handle (32) can be fitted onto the external part of said mast to facilitate operation. A foot can also be integrated into this structure.
 In its stall cover form (FIG. 12), one or more holding cables (24) per rib are fastened to the shoulder (5) and to a mobile attachment system for rib (7) to enhance its strength; however, this device is in no way essential: it depends on the load that would be fastened to the ribs.
 In the case of the grapnel (FIG. 13), a so-called security, or lock, pin (25) prevents opening in the gripping position. Once this pin (25) has been removed, the grapnel can open, with the claws (7) folding upwards against the internal part of the mast (1). The cord or tether (26) passes through an orifice in the grapnel and holds the boat or other craft at its end. In the case of protection for a spray lance (FIG. 14) the device opens to the point of inverting. A single covering (11) which is impermeable and, if possible, transparent, fits over the branches (4 and 7). An operating lever (27) serves to actuate the opening, locking and closing of the device.
 The fruit gathering device (FIG. 14) is a sort of reversely arranged parasol placed on a travelling system (28) ensuring its positioning and transport. After tree beating, the fruit (31, olives, plums, walnuts, etc.) drops onto the cloth (11), rolls and falls through the opening (11′) into a crate (29) designed to receive it. The external mast (6), thanks to a joint (30), holds the device in open position and in closed position, and serves to tow the article by causing it to travel on two wheels.