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Publication numberUS20050102950 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/978,961
Publication dateMay 19, 2005
Filing dateNov 1, 2004
Priority dateDec 13, 2000
Publication number10978961, 978961, US 2005/0102950 A1, US 2005/102950 A1, US 20050102950 A1, US 20050102950A1, US 2005102950 A1, US 2005102950A1, US-A1-20050102950, US-A1-2005102950, US2005/0102950A1, US2005/102950A1, US20050102950 A1, US20050102950A1, US2005102950 A1, US2005102950A1
InventorsEdward Knudson, John Dolan
Original AssigneeKnudson Edward A., Dolan John F.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Environment resistant retaining wall block and methods of use thereof
US 20050102950 A1
Abstract
The present invention relates to a retaining wall block that is resistant to damage and wear caused by the environment it is placed into. The deterioration resistant block is generally a hollowed frame or shell of a deterioration resistant material that is lightweight and is configured to accept and retain any type of filling material. The filling material provides weight and stability to the retaining wall block and also provides weight, stability and security to a retaining wall constructed of such blocks.
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Claims(39)
1. A deterioration resistant wall block comprising:
a top panel including a deterioration resistant composite or polymeric material;
a bottom panel including a deterioration resistant composite or polymeric material;
a substantially rigid wall assembly having a front face with a natural earthen appearance and including a deterioration resistant composite or polymeric material that is adjoined to the top panel and bottom panel to form a sealable chamber; and
one or more fill materials placed into the chamber of the deterioration resistant retaining wall block.
2. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1 wherein the composite or polymeric material is a material selected from the group consisting of plastic, vinyl, silicone, rubber, fiberglass or any combination thereof.
3. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1 wherein the top panel is a split top panel including two or more sections.
4. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1, wherein the top panel, bottom panel, wall assembly or a combination thereof includes one or more apertures.
5. The deterioration resistant block of claim 3 wherein the top panel includes a plurality of teeth.
6. The deterioration resistant block of claim 3 wherein the top panel includes intertwining fingers.
7. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1, wherein the top panel, bottom panel or wall assembly includes a removable or one or more hingedly adjoined covers.
8. The deterioration resistant block of claim 7, wherein the top panel, bottom panel or wall assembly includes one or more hingedly adjoined covers and the hingedly adjoined covers are living hinges.
9. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1, wherein the block further includes one or more interior partitions.
10. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1, wherein the block further includes more than one unit.
11. The deterioration resistant block of claim 10, wherein the block further includes one or more disengaging tabs.
12. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1, wherein the block further includes one or more anchoring devices.
12. The deterioration resistant block of claim 11, wherein the anchoring devices are selected from a group consisting of retaining flanges, insertable pegs and apertures for stability rods.
13. The deterioration resistant block of claim 12, wherein the anchoring devices are insertable pegs that include conduits for the intermingling of fill materials between adjacent blocks.
14. The deterioration resistant block of claim 12, wherein the anchoring devices are insertable pegs that are moveable for securing into adjacent blocks.
15. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1, wherein the fill materials are selected from a group consisting of sand, gravel, dirt, crushed rock, pea rock, concrete, water and antifreeze.
16. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1, wherein the block further includes a design positioned on a front face of the block.
17. The deterioration resistant block of claim 1, wherein the block further includes one or more wall reinforcement fasteners.
18. The deterioration resistant block of claim 17, wherein the one or more reinforcement fasteners may be selected from the group consisting of teeth, insertable peg protrusions, tack strips, rivets, retention rods and combination thereof.
19. A deterioration resistant retaining wall comprising a plurality of deterioration resistant block including:
a top panel including a deterioration resistant composite or polymeric material;
a bottom panel including a deterioration resistant composite or polymeric material;
a substantially rigid wall assembly having a front face with a natural earthen appearance and including a deterioration resistant composite or polymeric material that is adjoined to the top panel and bottom panel to form a sealable chamber; and
one or more fill materials placed into the chamber of the deterioration resistant retaining wall block.
20. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19 wherein the composite or polymeric material is a material selected from the group consisting of plastic, vinyl, silicone, rubber, fiberglass or any combination thereof.
21. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19 wherein the top panel is a split top panel including two or more sections.
22. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19, wherein the top panel, bottom panel, wall assembly or a combination thereof includes one or more apertures.
23. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 21 wherein the top panel of each block includes a plurality of teeth.
24. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 21 wherein the top panel includes intertwining fingers.
25. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19, wherein the top panel, bottom panel or wall assembly includes a removable or more hingedly adjoined covers.
26. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 25, wherein the top panel, bottom panel or wall assembly includes one or more hingedly adjoined covers and the hingedly adjoined covers are living hinges.
27. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19, wherein the blocks further include one or more interior partitions.
28. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19, wherein the blocks further include more than one unit.
29. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 28, wherein the blocks further include one or more disengaging tabs.
30. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19, wherein the blocks further include one or more anchoring devices.
31. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 30, wherein the anchoring devices are selected from a group consisting of retaining flanges, insertable pegs and apertures for stability rods.
32. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 31, wherein the anchoring devices are insertable pegs that include conduits for the intermingling of fill materials between adjacent blocks.
33. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 31, wherein the anchoring devices are insertable pegs that are moveable for securing into adjacent blocks.
34. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19, wherein the fill materials are selected from a group consisting of sand, gravel, dirt, crushed rock, pea rock, concrete, water and antifreeze.
35. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19, wherein the blocks further include one or more wall reinforcement fasteners.
36. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 35, wherein the one or more reinforcement fasteners may be selected from the group consisting of teeth, insertable peg protrusions, tack strips, rivets, retention rods, and combinations thereof.
37. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 19, wherein the blocks further include one or more designs positioned on a front face of the block.
38. The deterioration resistant retaining wall of claim 37, wherein individual block designs complete a larger single design upon assembly of the deterioration resistant retaining wall.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This patent application claims priority to and is a continuation in part application of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/331,407, filed on Dec. 30, 2002, which is a continuation in part application of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/736,598, filed on Dec. 13, 2000, and of which the entire contents of both are hereby incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a retaining wall block that is resistant to damage and wear caused by the environment it is placed into. The deterioration resistant block is generally a hollowed frame or shell of a deterioration resistant material that is light-weight and is configured to accept and retain any type of filling material. The filling material provides weight and stability to the retaining wall block and also provides weight, stability and security to a retaining wall constructed of such blocks.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The use of retaining walls to protect and beatify property in all types of environmental settings is a common practice in the landscaping, construction and environmental protection fields. Walls constructed from various materials are used to outline sections of property for particular uses, such as gardens or flower beds, fencing in property lines, reduction of erosion, and to simply beautify areas of a property.

Numerous methods and materials exist for the construction of retaining walls. Such methods include the use of natural stone, poured in place concrete, masonry, landscape timbers or railroad ties. In recent years, segmental concrete retaining wall units, sometimes known as keystones, which are dry stacked (i.e., built without the use of mortar), have become a widely accepted product for the construction of retaining walls. Examples of such units are described in U.S. Pat. No. RE 34,314 (Forsberg) and in U.S. Pat. No. 5,294,216 (Sievert).

However, many of the materials utilized in the construction of retaining walls are susceptible to deterioration and/or are not very aesthetically appealing. The ability of these retaining walls to withstand sunlight, wind, water, general erosion and other environmental elements is a problem with most retaining wall products.

A particular concern is the utilization of erosion protection materials in water shorelines. Leaving the shoreline natural can lead to erosion, cause an unmanageable and unusable shoreline, create high maintenance, and inhibit an aesthically pleasing property. Many materials utilized in retention of shorelines are subjected to immediate deterioration and/or are not as aesthetically appealing as one would desire. Furthermore, many materials utilized on shorelines structures are difficult to maintain due to the awkward location in the water and also the prevalent growth and presence of organic materials that can get caught and flourish in such a structure. For example, many lakeshore or ocean side properties utilize riprap as a retention device for prevention of erosion. Riprap is a configuration of large to medium size stones placed along the shoreline. A problem with waterfront properties that use a continuous wall of typical riprap is the shoreline will retain some organic material or will accumulate additional organic material brought in by the water. This usually leads to an unmanageable and aesthetically displeasing shoreline or higher maintenance. Furthermore, the riprap is never uniform in color and size and therefore does not as provide the most aesthetically pleasing shoreline or complete coverage of the shoreline. The lack of uniform shoreline coverage allows for some erosion, collection of various materials and the growth of weeds.

Another problem with materials normally utilized in the construction of retaining walls, such as poured in place concrete, masonry, landscape timbers, railroad ties or keystones is that regulations in most states and counties prohibit their use in or near bodies of water because of the crumbling or deterioration of the material into the body of water over time. Many of these retaining wall materials dissolve, crumble, break apart and/or float into the body of water for which they line causing problems with the shoreline and pollution of the water. For example, the average life of a concrete block or keystone in water is approximately a couple of years. A need exist for a retaining wall, which would be resistant to such deterioration.

An additional concern that exist in the construction of retaining walls is the weight of the materials. Concrete blocks, large stones, timbers or keystones can be heavy to move into the wall location and maneuver when construction the wall. Many locations for which retaining walls are constructed are positioned in awkward terrain. Heavy building materials are difficult to move into the location and furthermore are difficult to position when construction the retaining wall thereby adding additional cost and labor for installation. However, the heavy material are needed once the wall is constructed to provide stability and security to the structure. Therefore, the easy to install light-weight units used for the construction of a retaining wall, which can be weighted once placed into position thus retaining the block in position and stabilizing the completed retaining wall, would be beneficial to construction of such structures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

As previously mentioned the present invention relates to a retaining wall block that is resistant to damage and wear caused by the environment it is placed into. The deterioration resistant block is generally a hollowed frame or shell of a deterioration resistant material that is light-weight and is configured to accept and retain any type of filling material. The filling material provides weight and stability to the retaining wall block and also ultimately provides stability and security to the retaining wall constructed of such blocks. More specifically, the deterioration resistant block comprises a top panel, a bottom panel, a wall assembly and an optional anchoring device. One or more chambers are created by adjoining the top panel, bottom panel and wall assembly. The chambers are adapted for receiving and retaining fill materials such as sand, dirt, gravel, pea rock, crushed rock, concrete or any other similar material, which provides the permanent weighting and stability of the retaining wall block.

Embodiments of the present invention are comprised of a deterioration resistant retaining block for use in constructing retaining walls on a number of property terrains, such as along waterfront properties. The deterioration resistant blocks are particularly useful for terrains near water or underwater due to their resistance to degradation. However, the deterioration resistant blocks could be used for land application for those that want light-weight retaining wall block that can be filled on-site to add weight and stability and doesn't require heavy equipment for moving. Therefore, the deterioration resistant retaining wall block could be utilized to construct any form of wall or fence structure.

One unique feature of the present invention is the lightweight characteristics of the block before it is filled. As previously mentioned, embodiments of the present invention can be waterproof and may be filled with any type of fill material located at the site, such as rocks, sand gravel, soil, pea rock or similar materials. The filling characteristic of the deterioration resistant block means that when the block is not filled it is very light-weight. The light-weight feature provides individuals construction such walls the advantage of easily moving large numbers of the blocks to the site of construction with relative ease. Furthermore, the lightweight characteristic of the blocks allows for easy maneuvering of the blocks into final position when constructing the wall and still allows for the stability of a heavy block after it is filled. These characteristics are met by the block being made of a lightweight material and also configured to receive a heavy fill material once it is about to be placed or has been placed in its final position on the retaining wall.

Embodiments of the present invention further fills an unmet landscaping need for shorelines in that the deterioration resistant blocks are easily manufactured. Examples of possible manufacturing methods include but are not limited to injection-molding, thermoforming, compression molding and blow-molding. Also any high volume application for production may be utilized in manufacturing the present invention. The individual units are light-weight, attractive, easy to install, prevent shoreline and other terrain erosion and compliment existing retaining wall block. The deterioration resistant blocks are also waterproof, can withstand ice damage due to their flexible nature and are easily replaced in case of damage. Furthermore, they are rugged and very low maintenance. Additionally, embodiments of the present invention are easily transportable and storable due to their light-weight and possible stacking features.

Individuals would be more inclined to install block made of a deterioration resistant material themselves rather than cement block, timber, keystones and the like, because of the ease of installation, due to the lightweight material and also the longevity of the block. The minimum weight of most regular garden block is approximately 30-50 lbs, whereas embodiments of the present invention may be approximately 1-10 lbs, in various embodiments 1-2 lbs. Of course, weight may vary depending on the size and materials utilized in manufacturing embodiments of the present invention. Also, as previously mentioned the blocks of the present invention retain the final stability and weight by filling the block with an appropriate fill material either prior to or after it has been permanently installed.

As previously suggested, embodiments of the present invention are also resistant to deterioration, such as wear, crumbling and breaking, therefore, the deterioration resistant block does not have to be replaced as often and/or increases the lifespan of the retaining wall. The block has approximately the lifespan of at least 5-10 times the life of a regular cement block made by the dry cement process as the Keystone® style retaining wall block. The increased lifespan of the block translates to fewer or no occurrences of replacement of individual blocks or the potential complete reconstruction of the entire wall. Furthermore, retaining wall materials, such as concrete block, timbers and dry cement process block, are typically not used in water applications because they dissolve, crumble and/or break down over time and exposure. The durability and resistant characteristics of the present invention reduce and prevent this deterioration, therefore making it very beneficial for all applications that come in contact with water.

Another consideration relating to the water application of embodiments to the retaining wall block of the present invention is the block's resistance to ice damage when installed around a body of water when it freezes. When ice expands and/or moves it shifts, tears and damages various types of materials utilized for shoreline retention, such as keystone, concrete block, rip rap, landscape timbers or anything rigid. Embodiments of the present invention can be manufactured with a material that has flexibility and would flex in a similar way as a Rubbermaid® trash can flexes. Considering that the deterioration resistant block would be filled with material, the deformation would be minimal, but still enough to prevent damage to the retaining wall block and/or the entire wall. Furthermore, upon melting or shifting of the ice the deterioration resistant block would return to its original configuration.

Another advantage of embodiments of the present invention relates to the high cost of waterfront property and people's inclination to improve their property to keep it well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing. As previously mentioned riprap, is commonly stacked along property shorelines to prevent erosion. The trouble with this shoreline preservation application is that the rock leaves many crevices for organic material to reside and, since it is close to water, the crevices are prominent areas for the growth of vegetation. The advantage of embodiments of the present invention is that fit next to each other and prevent organic material from getting in-between the blocks, therefore preventing vegetation from growing in such structures.

In addition, many waterfront properties suffer water damage when water levels rise above the shoreline the retaining wall block of the present invention is a solution to water retention and erosion problems in such areas of threatening high or rising water levels. Furthermore, the retaining wall block poses a solution in locations where there is a flood plane or areas that are washed out by any type of water movement. Sandbags have been a solution to such problems, but are not permanent or aesthetically pleasing solution. The retaining wall block can replace sand bags in an area for which a more permanent and aesthetically pleasing alternative is desired.

As previously suggested, the deterioration resistant retaining wall block can comprise any type of shade, configuration, color and design. In addition the retaining wall block may include any design or color located anywhere on any panel or wall of the block. Furthermore, the utilization of conventional type materials for retaining walls, such as concrete blocks, timbers or concrete retaining wall blocks, are heavy to install and may not provide long term or permanent solutions, due to the previously mentioned deterioration problems. Therefore, the present invention provides and aesthetically pleasing solution and replacement for materials, including sandbags, presently utilized in retaining wall construction.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block.

FIG. 2A depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block that includes a split top panel having teeth.

FIG. 2B depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block that includes a split top panel having intertwining fingers.

FIG. 3 depicts a side view of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block, which includes a retaining flange.

FIG. 4 depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block that includes a wall reinforcement fastener in the form of rivets.

FIG. 4A depicts a side view of one embodiment of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block that includes a wall reinforcement fastener in the form of rivets on the top panel and flange.

FIG. 4B depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block that includes a wall reinforcement fastener in the form of tack strips.

FIG. 4C depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block that includes a wall reinforcement fastener in the form of a grid retention rod system.

FIG. 4D depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block that includes a geogrid fabric adjoined to the block.

FIG. 5A depicts a front view of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block, which includes insertable pegs.

FIG. 5B depicts a perspective view of deterioration resistant retaining wall blocks, which includes a aperture in the form of a trough for receiving lockable insertable pegs.

FIG. 6 depicts a perspective view of the bottom panel of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block, which includes insertable pegs.

FIG. 6A depicts a perspective view of the bottom panel of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block, which includes conduit insertable pegs that include protrusions.

FIG. 7 depicts a perspective view of the bottom panel of deterioration resistant retaining wall block, which includes insertable pegs that slide within a mounting tray.

FIG. 8 depicts a perspective view of deterioration resistant retaining wall that depicts the pegs of one embodiment of a block being lowered in the apertures of two blocks positioned below.

FIG. 9A depicts a perspective view of deterioration resistant retaining wall that includes staggered row and a stabilizing rod and geogrid system adjoined to the wall.

FIG. 9B depicts a perspective view of deterioration resistant retaining wall that includes staggered rows and molded designs on the front panel.

FIG. 10 depicts a perspective view of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block containing multiple chambers.

FIG. 11 depicts a top view of multiple chamber deterioration resistant retaining wall block that includes a top panel with multiple apertures.

FIG. 12A depicts a perspective view of a cover of a deterioration resistant wall block.

FIG. 12B depicts a perspective view of a cover with extended overlapping panels form fitted over a deterioration resistant retaining wall block.

FIG. 12C depicts a perspective view of a cover with an extended overlapping panel having a front face with an apron form fitted over a deterioration resistant retaining wall block.

FIG. 13A depicts a side view of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block including a hingedly attached cover.

FIG. 13B depicts a perspective view of a deterioration resistant wall block including recession for receiving tabs of a cover.

FIG. 13C depicts a side view of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block including a highly attached cover.

FIG. 13D depicts a side view of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block including a hingedly attached split cover.

FIG. 14 depicts a top view of a partial section of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block.

FIG. 14A depicts a perspective view of a block end cap.

FIG. 14B depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a block including cap hooking devices.

FIG. 15 depicts a top view of a multi-unit deterioration resistant retaining wall block, which includes disengaging tabs.

FIG. 16 depicts a front view of a multi-unit deterioration resistant retaining wall block.

FIG. 17 depicts a top view of a multi-unit deterioration resistant retaining wall block with disengaged tabs.

FIG. 18 depicts a top view of a deterioration resistant retaining wall block that includes interlocking clips and pockets.

FIG. 19 depicts a perspective view of more than one stackable deterioration resistant retaining wall blocks.

FIG. 20 depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a partial row of deterioration resistant capping blocks.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 depicts one embodiment of deterioration resistant retaining wall block 10 comprising a top panel 12, a bottom panel 14 and a wall assembly 16. FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of the present invention that includes a top split panel 12, which includes a first section 18 and a second section 20. It is noted that a number of embodiments included in the present invention may include a top panel 12 that is not split. The top split panel 12 may also include one or more apertures 22. The apertures 22 may be of any size and shape suitable for receiving one or more anchoring devices as will be described below. The bottom panel 14 includes a relatively flat surface or contoured to rest uniformly with the top panel 12 of one or more blocks 10 positioned below. In other embodiments of the present invention the top panel 12 and bottom panel 14 may include apertures 22 that align with apertures positioned on the top panel and bottom panel of adjacent blocks above and below. Such alignment of apertures 22 allow for the intermingling of fill material that may add additional friction between the blocks and may provide a potential securing feature for geogrid fabric positioned between row of blocks.

As previously mentioned, the deterioration resistant retaining block 10 also includes a wall assembly 16, which is also depicted in FIG. 1. The wall assembly 16 comprises one or more outside wall panels 24. Many embodiments of the present invention include wall assemblies 16 that are adjoined to the top panel 12 and bottom panel 14. The adjoinment of the wall assembly 16 to the top panel 12 and bottom panel 14 creates a chamber 26 located within the retaining 10. The chamber 26 is normally filled with materials such as sand, gravel, dirt, concrete, crushed rock, pea rock or other like materials to provide weight and structure stability to the retaining block 10 and the entire retaining wall.

Additionally, the wall assembly 16 will generally include a front face 17 that is visible to an observer when a wall is constructed from the blocks 10 of the present invention. In various embodiments of the present invention the front face 17 will have a natural earthen appearance simulating the color and texture of earth environments. For example, the front face may be colored and textured to have the appearance of rock, stone, sand, soil, clay, trees and foliage, water, or any other natural environment type look. Additionally, in additional embodiments the front face 17 may further include one or more designs (e.g. symbols, company names, logos, images) that may be positioned in the natural earthern appearance (e.g. the NTR logo embedded in a stone color and texture).

FIGS. 2A and 2B depict various embodiments of a top split panel 12. As depicted in FIG. 2A, one embodiment of a top split panel 12 of the present invention comprises a second section 20 having plurality of teeth 28. The teeth 28 may extend downward from the second section 20 when in a closed position and may be utilized to engage one or more wall stabilization devices (not shown), such as geogrid or geowebbing. It is noted that the teeth 28 may be considered a wall reinforcement fastener (a further explanation of wall reinforcement fasteners will be described below). The second section 20 may abut flush to the front edge of the first section 18 of the top split panel 12 as illustrated in FIG. 1 or may overlap and/or engage the first section 18. One embodiment of the engagement of the top panel section is depicted in FIG. 2 a. As depicted in FIG. 2 a, the first section 18 may include a plurality of notches 30, which receive and engage the teeth 28 of the second section 20 when the split top panel 12 is in the closed position.

FIG. 2B illustrates another embodiment of the present invention wherein the top split panel 12 includes a first section 18 and a second section 20 with intertwining fingers 32 that alternate with each other when the top split panel 12 is in the closed position.

In various embodiments of the present invention, the bottom panel 14 may optionally include or be adjoined to a flange 34. FIG. 3 depicts the side view of an embodiment of the present invention, which includes a retaining flange 34 adjoined to the bottom surface 14 of the block 10. On a constructed wall, each retaining flange 34 is a wall retention device that operates to align the block being placed with the row below and generally inhibits outwards movement of the wall. Normally, the retaining flange 34 extends downwards from the back of the bottom panel 14 and rest against the back of the retaining block 10 located below the bottom panel 14. The retaining flange 34 may be unitary piece extending downward from the back of the retaining block 10 or may be series of fingers (not shown) extending downward from the back of the retaining block 10.

The retaining block 10 of the present invention may also include a means for attaching wall stabilization devices, such as geogrid. FIG. 4 depicts one embodiment of a wall reinforcement retention device 38 comprising a plurality of rivets 40 operably adjoined to the front section 20 of the top panel 12 of a retaining wall block. FIG. 4A depicts an embodiment of the block including the rivets 40 positioned on the top panel 12 and flange 34. However, it is noted that the rivets 40 may be positioned anywhere on the block, which is optimum to hook and retain the webbing of a geogrid or other device that extends back from the wall into the slope being protected. The rivets may be of any size and shape, which optimize the attachment of the goegrid or other devices reinforcing the wall structure.

FIG. 4B depicts another embodiment of a wall reinforcement retention device 38 in the form of tack strips 42. Tack strips 42 generally includes a series of projections 44 that angle away from the force exerted by the geogrid. The geogrid is normally hooked by the projections 44 and extends back into the slope. It is noted that in embodiment that include a top split panel 12 the projections are generally attached to the second section 20, which tend to pull the front of the block 10 back towards the slope.

Yet another embodiment of a block 10 of the present invention which includes a wall reinforcement device 38 is depicted in FIG. 4C. FIG. 4C depicts a top panel 12 that includes a front panel 20 having an elongated member 46. In this embodiment the elongated member 46 extends the width of an edge of the second section 20 of the top panel 12. The elongated member 46 may be a section of textured environment resistant material, such as a plastic rod, that may be integral with the second section 20. The second section 20 in this embodiment may further include a ridge 48 positioned a distance from and running parallel with the elongated member 46, which thereby forms a groove 50 sized to receive and retain a grid retention rod 52. The ridge 48 may be continuous structure of polymeric material or may be a series of pegs spaced apart from each other, but spanning the length of the second section 20.

In operation, the wall reinforcement fastener 38 depicted in FIG. 4 functions by extending a section of geogrid fabric 54 over the first section 18 of a block 10 and under and around the rod 52. Once around the rod 52, the geogrid fabric 54 extends back towards the slope and the rod 52 is positioned in groove 50. The wall reinforcement retention device 38 depicted in FIG. 4 generally holds the geogrid 54 in place by positioning the elongated member 46, ridge 48 and rod 52 within a channel 56 positioned on a lower panel 14 of a block when the block is lowered onto the top panel 12 a block below.

Finally, another embodiment of a wall reinforcement retention device 38 that may be utilized with blocks 10 of the present invention may be to integrate the geogrid fabric 54 with the block 10. Integration of the geogrid 54 to the block 10 may be done by utilizing a fastener or means to fasten the geogrid fabric to block or by molding the geogrid 54 directly into the block 10. This may be done by utilizing any fastening means known in the art, such as adhesives, staples, solvent welding, clips, rivets and any other fastening means, which would retain the fabric 54 to the block 10. FIG. 4D depicts an embodiment of the present invention wherein the geogrid 54 is integrated into the top panel 12 the block 10. Alternatively, it is noted that the geogrid may be integrated into the bottom panel 14 or wall assembly 16, such as the back wall panel.

The retaining wall block 10 of the present invention may further include one or more anchoring devices that interlock the blocks and rows of the constructed retaining walls utilizing such blocks 10. FIG. 5 depicts one embodiment of the present invention wherein the anchoring device include one or more insertable pegs 58. The pegs 58 may be inserted into apertures 22 shaped similar to the pegs 58 or in slightly oblong configuration to accommodate adjacent block fitting issues that may arise during construction of a wall. Alternatively, the insertable pegs 58 may also be received by a block 10 position below that includes a single aperture 22 that is in the shape of a trough 59 that extends across the width of the top panel 12 as depicted in FIG. 5B. In one embodiment of the present invention, the trough may be positioned between the first section 18 and second section 20 of the top panel 12. In various embodiments the pegs 58 may be closed structures or, alternatively, open conduits that allow for the flow of fill material from one block to the blocks positioned below.

In FIG. 5A the insertable pegs 58 are positioned on the bottom panel 14 and are configured to be securely receivable in the apertures 22 of one or two panels 12 of one or two adjacent retaining blocks 10 positioned below. The insertable pegs 58 can be made of any shape and size, which can be securely fit into the apertures 18 of the top panel 12 and optionally penetrate into the fill material of the block below. For example the pegs may be shaped as a cone or rod, wherein the bottom of the peg is pointed to better penetrate the fill material inserted in the block below. The insertable pegs 58 may also function to seal the interior of the below adjacent retaining block 10 from outside elements.

FIGS. 6 and 7 depict other types of peg configuration. FIG. 6 illustrates a bottom panel 14 of one embodiment of the present invention wherein the insertable pegs 58 are aperture inserts. Each insertable peg 58 of this embodiment includes a peg extension 60 which extends down from sealing panel 62. In operation, the peg extension 60 are placed in to aperture 22, which is positioned on the bottom panel 14 of a block. The aperture 22 may be oblong to accommodate lateral movement of the insertable peg 58 so that it may line up with a corresponding aperture on the top panel of a block positioned below. The sealing panel 62 will be generally larger than the aperture 22 positioned on the bottom panel 14 to properly seal the aperture 22 when the insertable pegs 58 adjoined to a block are locked into position on the wall. The insertable pegs 58 will be into position upon entry into the aperture and fill material of the block below and with the weight of the fill material upon filling the block of which the insertable pegs are placed. The insertable pegs 56 may be solid in structure or may be an open conduit for the intermingling of fill material from one block to the next. Such intermingling of fill material may be beneficial in adding extra friction between blocks and thereby increase their connectivity.

In an alternative embodiment, wherein the insertable pegs 56 include an open conduit as depicted in FIG. 6A, the peg extension 60 may comprise a plurality of protrusion 64 extending from the sealing panel 62. The protrusions 64 may be pointed to better penetrate the fill material of the block positioned below and together may form the general shape of the aperture they project from.

In an alternate embodiment, as depicted in FIG. 7, the insertable pegs 58 may slide within a mounting tray 66 positioned on the bottom panel 14. The sealing panel 62 is generally sized to fit within the mounting tray 66 so that the panel 62, is retained within the upper tray edges 68 and slides freely in a lateral movement within the tray 66. The lateral movement of the peg 58 will be available until the peg 58 is placed in a an aperture 22 of a top panel 12 of a block positioned below.

In operation a block 10 is maneuvered so that the pegs 58 of one block 10 are inserted into the apertures 22 of one or more blocks. FIG. 8 illustrates a block 10, which includes insertable pegs being lowered into the apertures 22 of two blocks 10 positioned below. This application is beneficial if the blocks of adjacent rows are staggered in positioning. See FIGS. 9A and 9B for an illustration of a staggered retaining wall. The interlocking of the blocks assists in vertical and horizontal connectivity of a constructed wall.

FIG. 9A depicts another embodiment of the present invention wherein a plurality of stabilizing rods 70 are extended through the apertures 22 of the blocks 10 to further interlock the blocks 10 and rows of block into position on the wall. Additionally, the stabilizing rods may further be utilized to retain geogrid fabric 54 that is positioned between the rows of block and extends back into the slope adjacent to the wall.

Another embodiment of the present invention is depicted in FIGS. 10-11. The embodiment as shown in FIG. 10 comprises a deterioration resistant retaining block 10 with the top panel removed, wherein the wall assembly 16 defines more than one chamber 26 within the retaining block 10. The multiple chambers 26 are defined by interior partitions 28. The interior partitions 72 may also be utilized to add additional support to the retaining block 10 to prevent any possible crushing of the block 10. The interior partitions 72 may also act as wall panels if the block is cut to accommodate partial blocks for properly fitting a wall. FIG. 11 depicts one embodiment of the top panel 12 of a partitioned retaining block 10. The interior partitions 72 are within the interior of the retaining block 10 and are depicted by dashed lines. The top panel 12 in this embodiment is permanently fixed to the wall assembly 16 and includes one or more apertures 18 or a trough (not shown) that may accommodate filling of each individual chamber 26 with appropriate fill material, such as sand, gravel, soil, cement or any other suitable material or may utilized to receive pegs for anchoring the other blocks of a wall into position.

FIG. 12A depicts another possible embodiment of the top panel 12, which is configured in a cover formation that may be adapted to securely fit over the retaining wall block 10 illustrated in FIG. 1 or 10. The top panel 12 of this embodiment comprises a closed section 74 that includes overlapping panels 76, which overlap securely over the outside walls of a wall assembly 16, but does not include apertures. However, the top panel may also secure to the wall assembly 16 in other ways, such as locking tabs, twist locks, clamps, clips, adhesives or any other fastener. The top panel may further include optional top partitions 78 to fit over wall panels if a block 10 is cut form partial blocks.

The top panel 12 may also be manufactured so that the overlapping panels 76 are sized to completely cover the wall assembly 16 and/or the front panel 80 of the block 10. FIG. 12B depicts an embodiment of a block 10 wherein the top panel 12 includes overlapping panels 76 that extend over the wall assembly 16 of the block 10. In various embodiments, the overlapping panels 76 or front face 82 may also include designs or textures that provide a rock or stone appearance. As in other embodiments the overlapping panels 76 and/or front face 82 may include any design or color that may be molded or blended into polymeric material. The block 10 may further include a ridge 82 that extends around the base of the block 10 to receive the edges of the overlapping panels 76 of the top panel 12 after filling of the block 12 and closing with the top panel 12.

An alternative embodiment of a block 10 of the present invention that includes overlapping panels is depicted in FIG. 12C. The embodiment in FIG. 12C includes a top panel 12 having an overlapping panel in the form of a front face 82 that extends substantially over the front of the block 10 and may include a design or texture, such as rock or stone appearance. The front face 18 may also include an apron 91 that extends back from the front face 82 and is received and surrounds the front of the block 10 when the top panel is placed over the block 10. The top panel 12 may further include a wrap around latching device 93 that extends around the back of the block 10 and hooks or secures the top panel 12 in position when the top block 10 is closed or sealed. The top panel 12 may further include overlapping tabs 89 that may extend from the side edges of the top panel and are received by recesses 87 positioned on the side panels of the block 10. Furthermore, the production of such a block with an overlapping front face may allow for the block portion to be prepared from a lower grade material (e.g. recycled plastic) and/or without additives, such as color or UV light stabilizers and the top panel 12 with an overlapping front face to be made with such additives additives. However, it is noted that in various embodiments the entire block, including top panel and overlapping front face, may be made of recycled plastic.

In other embodiments of the present invention, the top panel 12 may optionally be hingedly secured to the retaining block 10 by any type of hinge device 86, thereby providing a unitary configuration of the retaining wall block 10. For example the hinge device 86 may be a living hinge wherein the hinge is a section of scored plastic that provides a folding point for top panel 12. However, it is noted that any type of hinge may be utilized. FIG. 13A depicts one embodiment of the present invention including a top panel 12 hingedly adjoined to a front panel of the retaining wall block 10. It is noted that the top panel 12 may be hingedly attached from any wall panel 24 of the block including the back side, sides or front. The hinging of the top panel 12 to the front or side panels of a block 10 may provide filling material behind the wall being constructed. It is also noted that in various embodiments the top panel 12 maybe stationary or fixed to the block 10 and other panels of the block may be hingedly attached so that these panels may be opened to accommodate the filling of the block 10. For example, the back or a side panel may be hingedly attached to the top or bottom panel so as to allow the back of the block or the side of the block to receive fill material before closing and placing into position.

In another embodiment of the present invention the block 10 may include one or more recesses 87 for receiving overlapping tabs 89 that fit over and within the recess 87. FIG. 13B depicts one embodiment of a block 10 that includes recesses 87. The recesses 87 may be of any shape or size, but are generally of a depth so that the overlapping tabs 89, when received to no expand the width of the upper portion of the block 10. FIGS. 13C and 13D depict two embodiments of top panel 12 that includes overlapping tabs 89. FIG. 13C depicts a one piece top panel that may include a hinge 86, such a a living hinge that is an integrated plastic hinge, and the overlapping tabs 89. It is noted that in various embodiments the top panel 12 may be disengaged or separated from the block, but still includes tabs 89 on any of the edges of the panel 12 for engaging the recesses of the block 10. FIG. 13D includes a top panel 12 that includes a first section 18 and second section 20. Each section 18, 20 include hinge devices 86 and tabs 89 that hold the position of the split top panel 12 within recesses. It is noted that the overlapping tabs 89 may provide additional structural support for a filled block by inhibiting the top portion of the block from bulging after filling with a fill material.

As previously mentioned, multiple chambers 26 allow for the retaining block 10 to be cut, either at installation or during manufacture, into various shapes and still maintain a chamber that can receive and retain fill materials. FIG. 14 depicts a section of the retaining block 10 as shown in FIG. 10 wherein the corners have been removed and the block 10 has been cut in half. However, a block may be configured to be cut into any size block (e.g. quarter block, half block, three quarter block . . . ). The ability to cut the retaining block 10 and still retain the same features is particularly useful in preparing ends and awkward segments of retaining walls. Dashed lines depicted in FIG. 12 illustrates one embodiment of alternate cover configurations to conform to the various shapes of a retaining block or portions thereof.

In an alternate embodiment, a block 10 may be cut and sealed with an end cap 77. The end cap 77 will generally include a sealing section 79 and a block hooking device 81 for securing the sealing section 79 to the block. In one embodiment of the present invention, as depicted in FIG. 14A, the wall hooking device 81 is in the form of a wall section. A wall section normally traverses around or partially around the perimeter of the sealing section 79 and either may extend over the top panel, bottom panel, front face and back panel of a block or may extend within the block and contact the interior of one or more of these panels. The end cap 77, as depicted in FIG. 14A, depicts an end cap 77 that includes a wall section that extends within the interior of the block 10 and further includes a hooking crest 85 that may engage one or more hook receiving devices 83 positioned within a block. The hooking crest 85 may be a crest that extends around the entire edge of the end cap 77 or may be a plurality of tabs positioned around the periphery of the interior edge of the end cap 77. FIG. 14A depicts the embodiments with a plurality of tabs as the hooking crest 85. An example of a block 10 that includes one or more hook receiving devices 83 is depicted in FIG. 14B, wherein a series of ridge are present within the interior of the block 10.

In operation utilizing one embodiment of the present invention, a block 10 may be cut in a straight line alone one of the hook receiving devices 83, such as a ridge. Next the cap 77 is inserted into the side of the cut end of the block 10 and the hooking device 81, such as a wall section with a crest 85, is allowed to hook a hook receiving device 83, such as a ridge, adjacent to cut line. Caps 77 may be manufactured to properly fit either side of the block depending upon which side requires cutting. It is noted that the cap 77 may include other alternative hooking devices 83, such as recesses and tabs, or hook and piles, to secure the sealing section 79 into a secure position and maintain the fill material within the chamber 26.

An additional embodiment of the present invention is depicted in FIGS. 15 and 16. FIG. 15 illustrates a top view of a multi-unit retaining wall block 88 wherein multiple units 90 are incorporated into a single block 88. A single multi-unit block 88 provide the appearance of multiple retaining blocks present in a single structure. The top panel 12 may be single sheet or multiple sheets of material which may be adapted to cover each unit 90 and optionally may include apertures 22. The interior of the retaining block 88 of this embodiment includes one or more interior partitions 72. Removable tabs 92 may be positioned between the partitions to properly space the blocks and hold the individual units 90 together. The tabs 92 may be simple piece of plastic or other polymeric material that may be removed by cutting or breaking to free the individual units 90 or maneuvering them if a round wall is desired.

FIG. 16 depicts the front view of the multi-unit retaining block 88, which has the appearance of multiple separate units or blocks 90. These multiple separate 90 provide the appearance similar to the partial assembly of a retaining wall comprising a plurality of individual blocks, such as depicted in the walls of FIGS. 9A and 9B. The multi-unit retaining block 88 may include a top panel 12 that is unitary structure or may include multiple covers, such as a multi-unit block 88 including multiple separate top panels similar to the top panel depicted in FIG. 12 or a hinged panels similar to that depicted in FIG. 13.

FIG. 17 depicts another embodiment of a multi-unit retaining wall block 88, wherein a few of the tabs 92 in the back have been collapsed inward on pivot points on the tab and the multiunit block has been rounded. It is noted in other embodiments the tabs may be removed by cutting to also perform the rounding function. In this embodiment of the present invention, tabs 92 may be positioned between each individual unit 90 on the front, middle and/or back of the multi-unit block 88. If a curved wall is desired, the tabs 92 may be disengaged, collapsed or extended, thereby allowing one or more multi-unit blocks 88 to be manuevered in to a curved position. It is noted that the tabs 92 may include one or more hinges to allow for the rotation of each unit 90 while maintaining their connection or the hinges may be disengaged to allow for separation of the units 90.

FIG. 18 depicts an additional embodiment of the present invention, similar to hook and pile attachments, wherein the retaining wall block 10 includes a interlocking feature that comprises a clip 94 and optional pocket 96. In such an embodiment one or more clips 94 may extend from one side of a retaining wall block 10 over another side of an adjacent retaining wall block into a trough or one or more corresponding pockets 96. Such interlocking mechanisms provides for a overall secure retaining wall structure by reducing the amount of lateral movement that may occur with unsecured stacking of individual blocks.

In various embodiments of the present invention the blocks may be nestable for stacking. Various embodiments of the present invention, such as those depicted in FIG. 19, also provide for ease in transport and storage of large numbers of these blocks due to stackable features. An additional example of a stackable retaining block 10 may be similar to that as shown in FIG. 1, wherein the top panel 12 is removable or hinged and allows for the retaining block 10 to be inserted within the chamber 26 of another block 10. Generally the slight sloping of the wall assembly allows for the nesting of such blocks. Angles of the wall assembly may vary, but generally include a 1° to 15° angle, preferably 2° to 5°. The top panel 12 for such retaining block 10 may include a cover similar to any of the top panels 12 shown in Figures herein.

As previously mentioned, the present invention may be manufactured from a deterioration resistant, substantially rigid composite or polymeric material including, but not limited to, plastic, a rubber composition, fiberglass, or any other similar material or a combination thereof. Preferable materials are light-weight and slightly flexible. In various embodiments of the present invention plastics, such as high density or low polyethylene, polypropylene or plastic polymer blends may be utilized. Furthermore, plastics that include additives such as wood fibers or clay may be used in the process to form the blocks of the present invention. Generally, the embodiments of the present invention may comprise any type of material that would have the similar characteristics to plastic, vinyl, silicone, fiberglass, rubber or a combination of these materials. However, it is noted that the material utilized in the present invention should be rigid enough to hold its form upon addition of filling material and also when placed in contact with other objects. Another preferable material may be comprised of a material similar to that utilized in the production of some types of garbage cans or the utilization of recycled rubber from objects such as tires. Such materials would be capable of holding rigidity and still offer flexibility when placed in contact with other objects, such as other retaining wall blocks or ice. Also, such materials have ability to regain its original form when the object or material has been removed.

Embodiments of the present invention may also vary in appearance. Since embodiments of the present invention may be manufactured by a process such as injection molding, the molds may include any type of design, texture or shape. For example, the front face and top panel of blocks may be textured and colored to take on the appearance of stone or rock formations. Furthermore, the front panels of the retaining wall block 10 could be molded in almost any type of configuration. Examples of design are depicted in FIGS. 8 and 9A. In one embodiment, multiple retaining wall blocks could be molded to include designs that, when positioned on a retaining wall, would complete a larger single design, such as the spelling of a company or school name in large letters of the completion of a large image. Also, since the present invention may be manufactured from a number of different products, such as plastic, rubber composition or fiberglass, the retaining wall block may comprise any color or multitude of colors. For example, a retaining wall installed in a beach setting may be manufactured of plastic or rubber product and be colored in so that organic matter wash up on it would not show up readily.

As previously suggested the environment resistant retaining wall block is utilized in the construction of any type of wall or border. In application, a foundation is first created in the area that the wall or border is to be connected. The foundation preferably is flat and or level, firmly packed to reduce settling and can accommodate one or more retaining blocks 10. Once a foundation is completed, a first row is laid by filling each individual retaining block 10 with fill material and placing each individual or multi-unit blocks, side by side until the row is completed. It is noted that individual rows or partial rows of blocks may be placed into position and then filled to create ease in wall construction. Such action would allow for filling of the block during the backfilling behind the block. The filling of the retaining wall block gives it added weight that it needs to retain its structure and hold it in place. A funneling device may be utilized, which fits securely into the openings or apertures of the retaining wall block to guide fill into the chamber of the block. The first row may be straight or rounded. An example of a rounded first row is depicted in FIG. 17. Upon completion of the first row, additional rows are constructed by performing the same filling process and placing the retaining wall block 10 in the proper position until a continuous retaining wall is completed. Generally, a continuous retaining wall may include stacked rows wherein individual retaining blocks are placed adjacently to one another thereby eliminating or minimizing cracks or gaps in the wall. Retaining wall blocks 19 may be positioned directly over the retaining wall blocks 10 in lower rows or may be staggered. It is noted that each retaining wall block placed in the retaining wall may be configured to retain and seal the contents of the fill material. This accomplished by either one or more plugs or covers that seals each open aperture or by enclosing or covering an open aperture with a portion of an adjacent block. Furthermore, the retaining wall blocks 10 of the upper rows may overlap the back of retaining wall blocks 10 of lower rows if a retaining flange 24 is included on the block or in some embodiments when the blocks include anchoring devices. In the alternative or additionally, each individual retaining block 10 may be blocked into position with adjacent blocks if pegs 24 and apertures 18 or clips 94 are present on the retaining block 10.

Upon completion of the top row of the retaining wall, a cover or capping block 98 may be placed over the top row to close the apertures 18 of the top panels 12 or to provide a finishing border to the top of the retaining wall. An example of capping block 98, as depicted in FIG. 20, may be polygonal in shape and include textured faces on both the front panels 80 and back panels 100 of the block 98. The capping blocks 98 may further include pegs (not shown), similar to those depicted in the previous block embodiments, that may be utilized to secure the capping block to the blocks positioned below. Alternatively, the capping blocks may be secured to the blocks below by any means known in the art, such as clips, tacks, adhesives or the like. The capping blocks may be filled with a fill material, similar to the other embodiments of the present invention, or may be a simple thinner block that may include a plurality of reinforcing partitions 72 as disclosed in FIG. 20.

Embodiments of the present invention may also be used in conjunction with regular dry cement process blocks, bricks or stones, such as those produced by Keystone® or Anchor® Wall Systems. A retaining wall constructed in water or along a waterfront property may utilize the retaining wall block of the present invention at water level and below and the the regular keystone or retaining wall materials can be used on top of the retaining wall block of the present invention. The utilization of the retaining wall building materials because the materials utilized to manufacture the present invention can be colored and designed to match virtually any type of retaining wall construction material.

Furthermore, the retaining will block may be manufactured in a multitude of different sizes, shapes and configurations. For example, an embankment or steep shoreline could support a retaining wall configured in a step like arrangement or design. Such a structure, may be utilized as a retaining wall and/or a stairway down to the beach or to the water.

While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, such an illustration and description is to be considered as exemplary and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only the preferred embodiments have been shown and described and that all changes and modifications that come within the spirit of the invention are desired to be protected.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7198435May 11, 2005Apr 3, 2007New Technology Resources, Inc.Continuous chamber environment resistant retaining wall block and methods of use thereof
US7854573Aug 10, 2006Dec 21, 2010New Technology Resources, Inc.Landscaping products including continuous chamber mass confinement cells and methods of use thereof
US7866923Aug 10, 2006Jan 11, 2011New Technology Resources, Inc.Continuous chamber mass confinement cells and methods of use thereof
US8430603May 3, 2010Apr 30, 2013Mortarless Technologies, LlcWall block with barrier member
WO2007021880A1 *Aug 10, 2006Feb 22, 2007New Technology Resources IncContinuous chamber mass confinement cells and methods of use thereof
Classifications
U.S. Classification52/596
International ClassificationE02D29/02
Cooperative ClassificationE02D29/025
European ClassificationE02D29/02E