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Publication numberUS20030146426 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/342,170
Publication dateAug 7, 2003
Filing dateJan 13, 2003
Priority dateJan 12, 2002
Publication number10342170, 342170, US 2003/0146426 A1, US 2003/146426 A1, US 20030146426 A1, US 20030146426A1, US 2003146426 A1, US 2003146426A1, US-A1-20030146426, US-A1-2003146426, US2003/0146426A1, US2003/146426A1, US20030146426 A1, US20030146426A1, US2003146426 A1, US2003146426A1
InventorsSusan Ray, John Anderson, Walter Peach
Original AssigneeRay Susan R., Anderson John D., Peach Walter J.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Portable collapsible corral fence and method of use
US 20030146426 A1
Abstract
A portable and collapsible fence that can be conveniently stored and transported in a lightweight carrying case. The fence includes panels having telescopic rail sections and telescopic posts. The middle section of each fence panel includes a series of spaced “rail pairs.” The use of the rail pairs adds structural stability to the fence panels and allows the fence panels to utilize many identical parts, such that the panels can be manufactured efficiently and economically. The fence is also preferably formed of lightweight polymer so that it is resilient and easily transported by hand in a relatively small carrying case provided therefor.
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Claims(24)
What is claimed is:
1. A portable and collapsible fence panel, comprising:
a plurality of rail sections connected to one another, said rail sections being, expandable and contractible with respect to one another in a substantially horizontal direction;
a first of said rail sections comprising a plurality of spaced rails disposed substantially parallel to one another; and
a second of said rail sections comprising a plurality of rail pairs disposed substantially parallel to one another.
2. The fence panel of claim 1 wherein said plurality of said rail sections comprises a third rail section, said second rail section being intermediate said first and third rail sections.
3. The fence panel of claim 2, wherein said first rail section and said third rail section comprise end posts at distal ends thereof.
4. The fence panel of claim 3, wherein said end posts are expandable in a vertical direction.
5. The fence panel of claim 4, wherein said end posts telescope.
6. The fence panel of claim 1, wherein said rail sections telescope with respect to one another.
7. The fence panel of claim 1, wherein said fence panel is comprised of a polymeric material.
8. The fence panel of claim 2, wherein said polymeric material is stabilized for resistance to ultraviolet radiation.
9. The fence panel of claim 1, wherein said rail sections are comprised of cylindrically shaped members.
10. The fence panel of claim 1, further comprising:
a third rail section, said second rail section being intermediate said first and third rail sections;
a left end post connected to said first rail section and a right end post connected to said third rail section;
a first clamping member connecting said first rail section to said left end post and a second clamping member connecting said third rail section to said right end posts;
said first and second clamping members being substantially identical and including connecting members, said first clamping member being positioned at a first vertical elevation on said left end post and said second clamping member being positioned at a second elevation on said right end post, said first and second elevations chosen such that said connecting members of said first and second clamping members vertically align with one another; and
whereby, two of said fence panels may be connected by connecting a first said clamping member of one of said two fence panels with a second said clamping member of the other of said two fence panels.
11. The fence panel of claim 1, further comprising:
a third rail section, said second rail section being intermediate said first and third rail sections; and
said first rail section and said third rail section movable horizontally in substantially opposite directions with respect to said second rail section.
12. The fence panel of claim 11, wherein said first rail section includes first rails and said second rail section includes second rails, said first rails and said second rails being vertically offset.
13. The fence panel of claim 1, wherein said rail pairs comprise two rail members disposed in a common vertical plane.
14. A portable and collapsible fence panel, comprising:
a plurality of rail sections connected to one another, said rail sections being expandable and contractible with respect to one another in a substantially horizontal direction;
said fence panel including a first end post having a first connecting member and a second end post having a second connecting member; and
said first and second connecting members being substantially identical, said first connecting member being positioned at a first vertical elevation on said first end post and said second connecting member being positioned at a second elevation on said second end post, said first and second elevations chosen such that said connecting members vertically align with one another, whereby multiple said panels can be connected.
15. The fence panel of claim 14, wherein said rail sections comprise two end rail sections and a center rail section, said end rail sections being movable horizontally in substantially opposite directions with respect to one another.
16. A method of forming a fence from collapsible panels, said method comprising:
(a) vertically and horizontally expanding the panels;
(b) selecting a shape of an outline which the assembled fence will occupy;
(c) connecting the panels together; and
(d) pivoting the panels about one another to form the shape.
17. The method of claim 16, further comprising disassembling the panels and placing them into the carrying bag.
18. The method of claim 16, further comprising removing the panels from a carrying bag prior to step (a).
19. The method of claim 16, further comprising placing the assembled fence against a trailer, whereby the trailer forms a side of the fence.
20. The method of claim 19, further comprising connecting one of the panels to a connector member mounted on the trailer.
21. The method of claim 16, further comprising placing at least one horse with the confines of the fence before the assembly is completed.
22. The method of claim 16, further comprising, after step (d), separating two of the panels from one another, leading a horse into the confines defined by the fence and reconnecting the two panels.
23. The fence panel of claim 1, wherein said rail sections are comprised of members having a polygonal cross section.
24. The fence panel of claim 2, wherein said end posts further comprise one of the foot and a stake member.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/347,956, filed Jan. 12, 2002.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to barriers and more particularly to portable fences and other structures that enclose an area.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Animals such as horses are typically transported for endurance, rodeo and other events by trailers that are known in the art. Once the trailer arrives at the destination of the event, it is desirable to provide a secure and comfortable area for the horses. It is known in the art to provide fence panels that can be assembled together once the trailer arrives at the destination. Unfortunately, these known systems have many drawbacks.

[0004] For example, one known and commercially available portable corral consists of multiple panels that are available in 5 foot or 8 foot widths, 50 inch height, and are 18 to 25 pounds per panel. A mounting system is available to mount the panels exteriorly of the trailer during transport. Undesirably, the trailer becomes rather unsightly and aesthetically unpleasing with the panels mounted thereto. Further, the disassembled fence occupies an undesirably large amount of space. As mentioned, the panels are 5 to 8 feet wide, and the six to eight panels required for an adequate size fence can occupy about a foot depth when stacked and attached to the trailer. In addition to the cost of the panels, a person using this type of trailer mounted system must also separately purchase a trailer mounting kit.

[0005] Another known portable horse corral consists of a reel attached to the outside of the trailer from which a plastic fence having about 2 inch square grids is unrolled. Self-driving posts are provided with this system to hold the plastic fence. While lighter than the portable panels just described, this plastic fence is still mounted to the outside of the trailer and therefore is undesirable from an aesthetic standpoint. Further, the fence, itself is unsightly when assembled, appearing much like the standard fencing that is erected around construction sites.

[0006] It is known to provide various barriers that can be expanded or contracted. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,465,262 discloses a portable barrier which includes two panels that are slidable horizontally relative to one another by means of sleeves and pins. Each of the panels includes two sections telescoped together and moveable vertically relative to each other to expand or contract the barrier. The sections are held in the desired telescoped position by means of screws. Applications of the disclosed barrier are directed to using it as a barrier between room, e.g., to provide a barrier for toddlers.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,842,685 discloses a temporary guard rail system that includes a plurality of upright stanchions having mounting brackets integrally formed or attached thereto that are connected by a plurality of vertically spaced, generally horizontal side rails extending end to end. The tubular guard rails are fabricated in a plurality of sections that may be slidably engaged, one inside another, to provide a telescoping adjustment of length.

[0008] It is desirable to improve upon the prior art noted above to provide a lightweight portable fence and to avoid mounting the fence panels to the outside of the trailer in order to transport them.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The present invention is a portable and collapsible fence that can be conveniently stored and transported in a lightweight carrying case. The fence includes panels having telescopic rail sections and telescopic posts. The fence panels utilize many identical parts such that the panels can be manufactured economically.

[0010] In one form thereof, the present invention provides a portable and collapsible fence panel. The panel comprises a plurality of rail sections connected to one another, the rail sections being expandable and contractible with respect to one another in a substantially horizontal direction. A first of the rail sections comprises a plurality of spaced rails disposed substantially parallel to one another. A second of the rail sections comprises a plurality of rail pairs disposed substantially parallel to one another.

[0011] Preferably, the separate rails of the pairs are fixed relative to one another and occupy a common vertical plane. The rail section that includes the rail pairs is typically provided in the middle of a fence panel, thereby increasing the strength of the panel. The rails sections on either side expand away from the middle section and include identical clamping members, which include connecting members. The clamping members on either side of the panels are positioned vertically at different elevations (i.e., vertically offset) such that the clamping members mate with one another when connecting two fence panels.

[0012] More preferably, the fence panel includes end posts that are expandable in a vertical direction, such that the panels are expandable and collapsible in vertical and horizontal directions. More preferably, expanding and collapsing the fence panel is accomplished structurally by utilizing telescopic segments or rails.

[0013] Preferably, the fence panels are constructed of polymeric material, more preferably uv-stabilized polymer material. A variety of shapes may be utilized for the individual posts or rails of the fence, such as rectangular, square, cylindrical, polygonal, etc.

[0014] One advantage of the present invention is that it provides a lightweight fence that is easy to carry in a single carrying case. Indeed, in one embodiment, the carrying case with eight (8) panels therein is about 34 inches wide by about 30 inches tall by about sixteen (16) inches deep and weighs about 45-55 pounds.

[0015] Another advantage of the present invention is that it eliminates the unsightly panels mounted to the side of the trailer as in prior art fences for horses. Furthermore, when prior art panels are mounted to the side of a trailer, they limit the space for horses to be tied to the trailer.

[0016] Another advantage of avoiding the trailer mounting system just noted is that a person owning horses may travel with a friend, i.e. without his or her trailer and trailer-mounted fence panels. Instead, an owner of a fence in accordance with the present invention can simply transport his or her fence in the trunk or backseat of a car, for example.

[0017] Yet another advantage of the present invention is that it is made from polypropylene or other suitable plastic material that has sufficient resilience. Other plastics suitable for the present invention include, without limitation, polycarbonate, polyethylene, polypropylene, polyurethane, poly vinyl chloride (PVC), PBS, etc. The plastic material may be treated or stabilized to resist or eliminate the effects of ultraviolet radiation. Thus, unlike prior art metal (aluminum) panels that can be bent when a horse presses against or bumps into them, the panels of the present invention are resilient. Further, unlike the prior art metal panels, fence panels in accordance with the present invention are less likely to corrode.

[0018] Still another advantage of the present invention is the versatility it provides. With one set of eight panels, numerous geometric fence configurations are possible. Numerous applications are possible, including crowd control, barriers construction sites, etc. For example, large discount department stores may use such portable fences as provided by the present invention to create a barrier for nonpermanent or seasonal areas, such as lawn and garden centers. Similarly, food vendors at the county fair may also utilize portable fences in accordance with the present invention. Numerous other applications are within the scope of the present invention.

[0019] Yet another advantage of the present invention is that it is “self standing.” In most configurations other than straight line the fence does not need feet to support itself. In straight line applications, however, feet members or stakes can be provided to erect the fence, and such feet may be used when additional vertical stability is desired.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0020] The above-mentioned and other advantages of the present invention, and the manner of obtaining them, will become more apparent and the invention itself will be better understood by reference to the following description of the embodiments of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0021]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portable fence in accordance with the present invention, illustrating the fence being used in combination with a horse trailer and also illustrating horses within the fence;

[0022]FIG. 2 is an elevational view of a fence panel of the fence illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0023]FIG. 2a is a fragmentary view in partial cross-section illustrating the telescopic engagement of the fence rails of the panel shown in FIG. 2;

[0024]FIG. 3 is a fragmentary perspective view illustrating the pivotable attachment mechanism of two panels like that illustrated in FIG. 2;

[0025]FIG. 4 is a fragmentary elevational view illustrating that the rail sections are formed from substantially identical halves as shown in FIGS. 8a and 8 b;

[0026]FIGS. 5a-5 c are perspective views illustrating the pivotable capability of fence panels relative to one another in accordance with the present invention;

[0027]FIGS. 6a-6 c are top views of possible geometric configurations using fence panels in accordance with the present invention;

[0028]FIG. 7 is a perspective view partially in phantom, illustrating the expanding and contracting feature of a fence panel in accordance with the present invention;

[0029]FIGS. 8a and 8 b are a fragmentary perspective view and an end view, respectively, illustrating the attachment of two rail section halves to form a rail section in accordance with the present invention;

[0030]FIGS. 9a-9 c illustrate a pet carrier which is another embodiment utilizing the principles of the present invention;

[0031]FIGS. 10a and 10 b illustrate another embodiment of a fence panel in accordance with the present invention;

[0032]FIG. 11 is a perspective view illustrating a carrying case for a series of fence panels in accordance with the present invention;

[0033]FIG. 12 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a fence panel in accordance with the present invention;

[0034]FIG. 13 is a perspective view, partially in phantom, showing the expandable and contractible ability of the panel shown in FIG. 12;

[0035]FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the panel shown in FIG. 12 in the fully contracted position;

[0036]FIG. 15 is an elevational view of the panel shown in FIG. 14;

[0037]FIG. 16 is an elevational view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 12 in the fully expanded position;

[0038]FIG. 17 is a perspective view one embodiment of a rail section or end post;

[0039]FIG. 18 is a fragmentary perspective view of a clamping member;

[0040]FIG. 19 is a fragmentary perspective view of a connecting member;

[0041]FIG. 20 is an enlarged perspective view of a clamping member;

[0042]FIG. 21 is a fragmentary perspective view showing how two panels may be releasably and pivotally connected;

[0043]FIG. 22 is a perspective view of a foot;

[0044]FIG. 22a is a perspective view of a base peg; and

[0045]FIG. 23 is a perspective view showing how one panel of the embodiment shown in FIG. 12 may be releasably and pivotally connected to a trailer.

[0046] Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0047] The embodiments of the present invention described below are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed in the following detailed description. Rather, the embodiments are chosen and described so that others skilled in the art may appreciate and understand the principles and practices of the present invention.

[0048] Referring now to FIG. 1, fence 20 includes panels 22 that are removably and pivotably connected to one another. One side of fence 20 is formed by trailer 24 so that an enclosed fence is provided for horses 26. As shown with reference to FIG. 2, each panel 22 includes three rail sections 28, 30 and 32. Each rail section includes three spaced and substantially parallel rails 34, 34 a and 34 b, respectively. The difference it rails 34, 34 a and 34 b is that they are sized differently so as to telescopically fit into one another, rails 34 being larger than rails 34 a and rails 34 a being larger than rails 34 b. Turning briefly to FIG. 7, it can be appreciated that the rail sections are expandable and contractible as a unit in a substantially horizontal direction. Further, sections 38 are also telescopically expandable as noted. In its fully collapsed state the fence panel 22 of the illustrated embodiment is approximately 34 inches wide by 30 inches tall. In its full expanded configuration fence panel 22 of the illustrated embodiment is approximately 77 inches wide by 51 inches tall. Thus, it can be appreciated that the collapsed panel takes up approximately 26% of the space of the fully expanded panel.

[0049] Continuing in reference to FIG. 2, it can be appreciated that panel 22 includes left end post 36 and right end post 37 that are expandable and contractible in a direction substantially orthogonal to rails 34. This is accomplished by means of end post telescopic sections 38 that telescope in and out of posts 36 and 37 as shown in FIG. 7. A locking mechanism 40 (FIG. 2) is provided on each end post 36 and 37 such that post extension 38 can be locked in place in their outwardly extended position. The locking mechanism can be any one of a variety of mechanisms known in the art, and in the (one) illustrated embodiment it comprises a depressable button that protrudes from post extension 38 and mates within a complementary sized opening in sections (left end post 36 and right end post 37. Optionally, a foot 39 can be removably attached to segment (post extension) 38 as shown to provide extra stability to the assembled fence and allow the fence to be free-standing without sinking segments 38 into the ground. The foot 39 may be weighted to provide increased stability of the fence and to allow the panels 22 to be arranged in a straight line. Panel 22 also includes mid-posts 35 which provide structural stability to the rail sections and in turn to the fence panel.

[0050] As illustrated in FIGS. 4, 8a and 8 b, each rail section is formed from two substantially identical rail section halves. The half sections can be formed form (from) polypropylene or other suitable polymer by an injection molding process. A portion of half 42 into which half 44 fits is illustrated in FIG. 4. Returning now to FIG. 2, it is important that top and bottom connectors or connecting members 46 on the left post 36 are both spaced the same distance ‘d’ from the top and bottom of the panel as shown. In this manner, two identical halves 42 can be formed and connected together to form rail section 28, whereupon connector halves 43 (FIG. 4) will align and mate with one another. Thus, only one mold is needed to make both halves 42, which represents substantial manufacturing savings. For the reasons just noted, it is also important that top and bottom connectors 48 on right post 37 are spaced the same distance ‘D’ from the top and bottom of the panel as shown. In this manner, two identical halves can be formed and connected together to form rail section 32.

[0051] With further reference to FIG. 2, another important feature that maintains the rail section halves of rail sections 28 and 32 substantially identical and thus able to be formed from a single mold is that panels (rail sections) 28 and 32 have substantially identical fitting, members 50 and 52 that extend in substantially opposite directions. The top fitting members are adapted for an accessory such as a cap 54 (FIG. 3) and the bottom fitting members receive end post telescopic sections 38 (FIG. 2). Rail section 30 has no fitting members, since it is the central rail section of panel 22. The round opening (locking mechanism) 40 can be molded as a “pre-punch” such that only the bottom fitting members 52 will be punched through after the parts are molded. With reference to FIGS. 8a and 8 b, the molds that form the halves can be adjusted such that top half (cap) 54 shown in FIGS. 8a and 8 b is formed with pointed connection member 56 and notch 58. Bottom half 60 is formed with complementary square hook 62 that is received into notch 58 in a snap-fit engagement.

[0052] Even though the attachment mechanisms are not identical (compare FIGS. 8a and 8 b), only one mold is needed for both halves of each rail section. This is because the mold parts that form the top and bottom connection members can be interchanged on the mold. Thus, only one mold is required that has interchangeable parts to form one of the connection mechanisms illustrated in either FIG. 8a or 8 b.

[0053] Once the halves are locked together, they do not come apart. As illustrated in FIG. 4, halves 44 of section 30 must be snapped together and installed into one half 42 of section 28 before the other half 42 of section 28 call be snapped over the first half 42. This assembly process is similar with regard to all rail sections. That is, the halves of rail section 32 must be snapped together and placed into one of the halves 44 (FIG. 4) of section 30 before the other half 44 can be snapped to the first half 44.

[0054] With reference to FIG. 2a, it can be appreciated that rails 34 a telescopically slide into the cylindrical recesses formed by corresponding rails 34. Importantly, cylindrical recesses 64 are formed with a smaller bearing surface 66 which holds rails 34 a in place and keeps them from wobbling within cylinders 64. With further reference to FIG. 2a, a stop member 68 is disposed at the end of rail 34 a and mates with bearing surface 66 to prevent rail 34 a from being removed from cylinder 64 of rail 34 once the halves of section 28 are snapped together.

[0055] Turning now to FIG. 3, the connection mechanism that pivotably and removably connects fence panels 22 can be appreciated. Right end post 37 includes connector 48 extending therefrom that mates with connector 46 of left end post 36. A pin 70 has a handle 72 and a cylindrical body 74 having locking tabs 76 extending outwardly from the bottom thereof. A recess 78 having a shape that corresponds to the cylinder with locking tabs is formed in both connectors 46 and 48. As shown in phantom in FIG. 3, once pin 74 is inserted all of the way through recess 78 in both connectors 46 and 48, handle 72 is turned and the locking tabs 76 thereby hold the sections together.

[0056] It is to be understood that a connector such as connector 46 or 48 can be mounted to trailer 24 (FIG. 1) so that the panels can be removably attached thereto in much the same fashion as the connection depicted in FIG. 3. In such case, one of the connectors would be mounted to the trailer instead of post 36 or 37. A small flange member (not shown) would be formed or attached to the connectors to mount them to the trailer. Of course, such connectors will occupy a minimum amount of space on the trailer, quite unlike mounting a multitude of panels to the outside of a trailer as is taught by the prior art.

[0057] The advantages of the pivotable and removable connection just described can be appreciated with reference to FIGS. 5a-5 c. In FIG. 5a, panel 80 is pivoted about panel 82 such that there is an angle of about 55 degrees therebetween, which represents about the minimum angle of pivot between these two panels. In FIG. 5b, panel 80 has been rotated such that there is an angle of about 180 degrees between it and panel 82. Finally, panel 80 is further rotated as shown in FIG. 5c such that there is again an angle of about 75 degrees between it and the other side of panel 82 as shown. It can be appreciated with reference to FIG. 3 that the 55 degree limit shown in FIGS. 5a occurs as a result of end posts 36 and 37 abutting against one another. Connectors 46 and 48 could be formed so that they extend further from end posts 36 and 37, respectively, in order to allow the panels to be pivoted closer to one another, if so desired.

[0058] With reference to FIGS. 6a-6 c, it can be appreciated that eight panels 86, 88, 90, 92, 94, 96, 98 and 100 can be configured into an open rectangle (FIG. 6a), a closed octagon (FIG. 6b) and a closed square (FIG. 6c.) It should be readily recognized that numerous other configurations (open or closed) are possible depending upon the number of panels chosen and the geometric shape desired.

[0059] Turning now to FIGS. 9a-9 c, another embodiment of the present invention is illustrated for use in transporting a pet, such as a dog or cat. Transportable kennel 102 is expandable and collapsible as illustrated by contrasting FIGS. 9a and 9 b. Kennel 102 includes rail sections 104, 106 and 108 that include rectangular telescopic rails 110, 112 and 114, respectively, each being successively smaller so as to telescope. Kennel 102 also includes a telescopic bottom portion 116 having telescopic rectangular sections 118, 120 and 122 as shown. Kennel 102 also includes a front door 124 and carrying handle 126, as are known in the art.

[0060] With reference to FIGS. 10a and 10 b, another fence panel embodiment is illustrated which includes telescopic rail sections that span virtually the entire height of panel 136 (22).

[0061] Turning now to FIG. 11 a carrying case 136 is provided to hold and transport several panels 22 as shown. Carrying case 136 includes handles 138, shoulder strap 140 and an opening 142, preferably zippered. In the illustrated embodiment, case 136 holds eight (8) panels 22. Advantageously, the total weight of case 136 having eight panels 2(22) therein is only about 45-55 pounds. Thus, it can be appreciated that the present invention provides a convenient, lightweight, easily transportable fence that offers a significant improvement over the prior art.

[0062] It can now be understood that the present invention provides a convenient method for assembling a portable corral for horses. First, panels 22 are removed from carrying case or bag 136. Next, the panels are vertically and horizontally expanded. A geometric shape and configuration is selected for the assembled fence. Then, the panels are connected together and pivoted about one another to form the desired geometric configuration.

[0063] It is also to be understood that the present invention has applications beyond containing horses. For example, it is contemplated that a series of perhaps sixty (60) panels, providing 360 linear feet of fence, can be housed in a container whose dimensions are approximately 34 inches wide by 30 inches high by 10 feet length. A single container of these dimensions could be transported on a pick-up truck, whereas several of such containers could be transported on a conventional trailer.

[0064] Referring to FIG. 12, panel 200 comprises a plurality of rail sections 201, 201 a and 201 b. Section 201 a serves as the middle section of panel 200 and is slidably engaged with, at opposite ends, respectively, sections 201 and 201 b. Section 201 a comprises a plurality of paired rails 204 and 204 a, each pair having a rail 204 positioned in a common vertical plane with a rail 204 a. Rails 204 and 204 a do not move relative to one another. Section 201 serves as one end of panel 200 and comprises a plurality of first rails 202 affixed to first end post 208. A first bottom extension post 212 is slidably engaged with first end post 208 and extends downward therefrom in a telescopic arrangement as described above. Section 201 b serves as the other end of panel 200 opposite of, and substantially parallel to section 201. Section 201 a slidably engages section 201, and at its opposite end slidably engages section 201 b. Specifically, rail 204 a allows for movement of section 201 b with respect thereto in a substantially horizontal direction, whereas rail 204 allows for horizontal movement of section 201 in all opposite direction with respect to section 201 a. Sections 201, 201 a and 201 b are positioned in substantially the same vertical plane, thereby forming panel 200. However, rails 202 are vertically offset from rails 206, meaning that rails 202 are positioned at a different (in this case higher) vertical elevation relative to rails 206.

[0065] With reference to FIG. 15, end posts 208 and 210 include a plurality of clamping bodies or clamping members 220, 220′ and 222, which support rails 202 of section 201 and rails 206 of section 201 b. Clamping bodies or members 224 support the middle rails 202, 206 of sections 201 and 201 b, respectively. Turning now to FIG. 13, section 201 on the left hand side thereof moves horizontally with respect to section 201 a and section 201 b moves horizontally in the opposite direction with respect to section 201 a. In the embodiment illustrated, it is apparent that the inside diameter of second rails 204 and 204 a is larger than the outside diameter of both the first rails 202 of section 201 and the third rails 206 of section 201 b. Preferably, rails 202 and 206 are identically sized so as to reduce the number of different parts required for manufacturing inventive panel 200.

[0066] Rails 202 are moved in a generally horizontal direction so that they slide into or out of second rails 204, thereby collapsing or expanding panel 200. Rails 206 move with respect to rails 204 a in substantially the same manner as just described, but in an opposite direction, thereby collapsing or expanding panel 200. Furthermore, posts 212 and 214 are also expandable and collapsible with respect to end posts 208 and 210 respectively, in a vertical direction, whereby panel 200 is also expandable and collapsible in a vertical direction.

[0067] The vertical disposition of rails 204 and 204 a (i.e., aligned in the same vertical plane) reduces the width of panel 200, thereby allowing compact storage of two panels 200. The vertical disposition of rails 204 and 204 a also provides increased rigidity and strength to panel 200. For example, middle rail section 201 a is spaced a rail section away from end post 208 and 210 and thus does not obtain as much structural support from end posts 208 and 210 as do sections 201 and 201 b, respectively. Thus, providing rail pairs 204, 204 a (as opposed to single rails) at the center of fence panel 200 compensates for the spacing of section 201 a from the end posts and thus enhances the strength and rigidity of section 201 a and the entire fence panel 200. As noted, sections 201 and 201 b slide into opposite ends of section 201 a, thereby collapsing the panel 200 for storage or transport. A collapsed panel 200 is shown in FIG. 14.

[0068] Returning now to FIG. 15, in one embodiment, the upper and lower rail pairs 204, 204 a are secured together using clamping body 224, whereas the middle rail pair 204, 204 a is secured by clamping bodies 226. Clamping bodies 224 and 226 maintain substantially vertical disposition of second rails 204 and 204 a. Clamping bodies 224 are connected and secured to clamping bodies 226 by vertical tubular members 230 which have a length chosen to space the multiple rail pairs 204, 204 a a desired distance from one another. Tubular members or vertical post 230 are provided in separate sections such that rails 202 can slide within rails 204 and rails 206 can slide within rails 204 a because tubular members 230 do not extend through clamping bodies 226. Furthermore, the tubular bodies 230 prevent sagging of the horizontal rails 202, 204 and 206. In this connection, the disclosed embodiment illustrates three rail pairs spaced from one another. However, it should be readily recognized by one of ordinary skill in the art that the present invention contemplates different numbers of rail pairs 204, 204 a which can be spaced apart any desired distance from one another. In some applications, only one rail pail 204, 204 a may be required, whereas in other applications, four or more rail pairs may be needed. The design is thus versatile and encompasses different numbers of rail pairs depending on the desired application. For preferred applications involving rodeo horses, the desired number of rail pairs 204, 204 a is three.

[0069] It is apparent that by arranging the first rail sections 201 and third rail sections 201 b as shown in FIG. 12, when two panels 200 are aligned end-to-end, the first connecting member 216 of one panel 200 becomes aligned along the same vertical axis as connecting member 218 of the other panel 200, thereby facilitating releasable and pivotable connection of several panels with pin 264 shown in FIG. 21. Advantageously, connecting members 218 and 216 are identical and indeed are formed as part of identical clamping members 220 and 220. They align conveniently on top of one another because of their respective vertical locations where they are affixed to posts 208 and 210.

[0070] Referring now to FIG. 16, rails 204 and 204 a of section 201 a allow insertion to and extension from first rail section 201 and third rail section 201 b. To lock rail sections 201 and 201 b in their extended position with respect to section 201 a, a locking mechanism is provided. For example, rails 202 may be configured with the depressible protrusions (not shown) which extend into mating openings 238 in rails 204 and 204 a. In other words, the interior surface of rail 204 holds the protrusion against the outside surface of rail 202 until the protrusion aligns with opening 238, whereupon the protrusion expands and pops into opening 238, thereby holding section 201 in its expanded configuration. To collapse the fence, a thumb or finger pushes against the protrusion extending from opening 238 while simultaneously pushing the sections together. This type of locking mechanism is well known in the art and others readily substitutable would be recognizable by persons of ordinary skill. In the illustrated embodiment, only two locking mechanisms are provided for each section 201 and 201 b. Otherwise, the person assembling the fence may have difficulties, in that he or she only has two hands.

[0071] Referring to FIG. 17, a perspective view of the general design of either the first rails 202, second rails 204 and 204 a, third rails 206, end posts 208 and 210, and vertical members 230 is shown. The illustrated embodiment uses material that is formed in a cylindrical shape. However, it should be recognized that other shapes, such as squares, triangular or polygonal, will also perform suitably. In fact, it is anticipated that non-cylindrical shapes may be preferable in certain applications because they may provide increased stability to the fence panel, as opposed to cylindrical telescopic segments which may rotate relative to one another.

[0072] Referring now to FIG. 18, clamping members 224 are manufactured in halves 229 using the same mold. Clamping members 224 include fasteners, in this case, cylindrical protrusions 246 and 248 which secure rails 204 and 204 a thereto. Protrusion 250 secure vertical members 230 to rail sections 204 and 204 a of section 201 a. Protrusions 246, 248 and 250 fit into openings 249 formed in the rails and vertical members as illustrated in FIG. 17.

[0073] Turning now to FIG. 19, the assembly of clamping body 220 which forms a top portion of panel 200 can be appreciated. Clamping body 220 includes identical half sections 221 and 223, as shown. Each half section includes cylindrical protrusions 253 and 255, as shown. During assembly, tube or rail 206 is placed against half 221 and protrusion 253 aligned with opening 257 formed in rail 206. (Two openings 257 are formed in rail 206, only one of which is shown in FIG. 19.) Similarly, post 210 is placed against half 221 and opening 261 aligned with protrusion 255 such that protrusion 255 mates with opening 261. (Post 210 is configured with two openings 261 on opposite sides thereof, but only one opening 261 is shown in FIG. 19.) Next, half section 223 is placed over rails 206 and 210 such that the protrusions align with the openings and fit therein. Then, halves 221 and 223 are secured together by heat welding, glue, sonic welding or other suitable bonding mechanism known in the art. It is also in vision that clamps wore a tapered sleeves or collars could also be used to secure halves 221 and 223 together. For example the tapered sleeve could be positioned over the halves and the further the tapered sleeve is slid the tighter the connection between halves 221 and 223 become. Referring to FIG. 20, a half 225 of clamping body 226 is depicted. Clamping body 226 secures vertical members 230 and the middle pair of rails 204 and 204 a. Clamping members 226 are manufactured in identical halves 225 shown in FIG. 20. Protrusions 260 a fit into an mate with complimentary openings in rail sections 204 and 204 a, as described above, whereas protrusions 262 a fit into and mate with complimentary openings in vertical members 230, as also described above.

[0074]FIG. 21 shows how two panels 200 may be releasably and pivotably connected using first connecting member 216, second connecting member 218 and pin 264. First clamping member 220 and second clamping member 220′ are arranged on posts 208 and 210, respectively, so that the first connecting member 216 and the second connecting member 218 align end-to-end along the same vertical axis to form pin receptacle to 270. Advantageously, connecting members 220 and 220′ are identical, differing only in where they are affixed to end posts 208 and 210. As noted above, this also means that connecting members 216 and 218 are identical.

[0075] Pin 264 has a head end 266 having a circumference larger than the body of the pin. Pin 264 has a bottom end 268 having flared and outwardly biased members 267 suitable for securing pin 264 in pin receptacle 270. This connection mechanism allows panels 200 to be rotated to change the angle of one panel with respect to another, as described above. To release the pin, nubs 269 are pressed together and the head 266 of pin 264 can be pulled upwardly, releasing it from receptacle 270.

[0076]FIG. 22 shows one embodiment of foot 272 having base 274 which includes support members 278 which circumscribe female tubular member 276, which in turn is adapted to receive a bottom post 212 or 214. Feet 272 can advantageously be used when a plurality of fence panels 200 are aligned end-to-end in a straight-line relationship, which would not be self-supporting without feet 272. FIG. 22a shows another embodiment of a foot 280, in this case formed as a stake. Foot 280 has at its upper end a tubular receptor 276′, again for slidable receipt of bottom posts 212 or 214. The stake member 282 as shown can be inserted into soil to secure panel 200 to the ground.

[0077]FIG. 23 shows a panel 200 secured to a trailer 24. A trailer bracket 284 is securely mounted to trailer 24 and includes a plurality of trailer connecting members 286 similar to connecting members 216 and 218, described above. Members 286 are arranged to align with members 216 and 218 such that pins 264 can be inserted thereinto, thereby securing panel 200 to trailer 24.

[0078] The fence panels 200 of the present invention may be manufactured by a variety of methods known in the art, including blow molding, extrusion molding, injection molding or rotational molding, the preferred method currently being extrusion molding. The preferred method currently being extrusion molding for the rails and cylindrical members and injection molding for the clamping bodies.

[0079] While a preferred embodiment incorporating the principles of the present invention has been disclosed hereinabove, the present invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. Instead, this application is intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6945360 *Feb 14, 2003Sep 20, 2005Sullivan Jr Sidney JModular ladder assembly
US7036798 *Apr 30, 2003May 2, 2006Olson Michael AMobile barrier to control litter and wind
US7174617Sep 14, 2004Feb 13, 2007Wright Stephen GAccordion fencing system
US7210277Jul 14, 2004May 1, 2007Lifetime Products, Inc.Partition system
US7654060Apr 30, 2007Feb 2, 2010Lifetime Products, Inc.Reinforced blow-molded plastic panels and structures
US8056678 *Dec 6, 2004Nov 15, 2011Sullivan Sidney JModular ladder assembly
US8555556 *Nov 23, 2012Oct 15, 2013Geomembrane Technologies IncReservoir with removable cover and a cover-winding gap under the handrail thereof
EP1733110A2 *Mar 10, 2005Dec 20, 2006Garden Zone, LLCDecorative fencing system
WO2005086923A2Mar 10, 2005Sep 22, 2005Garden Zone LlcDecorative fencing system
Classifications
U.S. Classification256/59
International ClassificationA01K3/00, E01F13/02, E04H17/18
Cooperative ClassificationE01F13/02, E04H17/18, A01K3/00
European ClassificationA01K3/00, E01F13/02, E04H17/18
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 8, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: SPUR INNOVATION, INC., INDIANA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:RAY, SUSAN R.;ANDERSON, JOHN D.;PEACH, WALTER J.;REEL/FRAME:014058/0409;SIGNING DATES FROM 20030410 TO 20030422