|Publication number||US20060022188 A1|
|Application number||US 10/903,026|
|Publication date||Feb 2, 2006|
|Filing date||Jul 30, 2004|
|Priority date||Jul 30, 2004|
|Publication number||10903026, 903026, US 2006/0022188 A1, US 2006/022188 A1, US 20060022188 A1, US 20060022188A1, US 2006022188 A1, US 2006022188A1, US-A1-20060022188, US-A1-2006022188, US2006/0022188A1, US2006/022188A1, US20060022188 A1, US20060022188A1, US2006022188 A1, US2006022188A1|
|Original Assignee||Collins Earle S Iv|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (21), Referenced by (11), Classifications (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
In recent years, plastic, and particularly vinyl fences have become common and popular as an alternative to traditional wood fencing. These fences are stronger, longer lasting, safer, and virtually maintenance free. They are also largely weather resistant and impervious to pests such as termites. The color of the vinyl is integral to the fence, and the vinyl composition is often modified to incorporate ultraviolet protective agents (such as titanium oxide), eliminating the need for paints or stains. Vinyl fencing can come in a variety of styles, mimicking traditional picket, semi-private, privacy, and even wrought iron fencing. Most fence posts for vinyl fencing are of hollow construction, and while a variety of shapes are possible, the most common has a square cross-section -and a corresponding square inner cross-section.
The conventional method for installing a post, including vinyl fence posts, has been to excavate a post hole, place the post into the hole, and secure the post using concrete. However, a variety of devices have been proposed as an alternative method of installation.
For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,709,366 to Speece discloses a fence post support which includes a ground engaging spike and an upper portion for engaging the hollow end of a fence post. The post-engaging element includes a pair of angle irons in an X-shaped configuration, the edges of which are adapted to engage the interior corners of the square-shaped interior of a hollow fence post. Also disclosed is a threaded element for expanding the angles of the post-engaging element, thereby securing the fence post to the support.
One drawback of the device disclosed in Speece is that the fence post is supported from the base only. Often, and particularly with respect to hollow fence posts, additional support against lateral forces applied to the fence post are desired. This is particularly true for endposts and gateposts. Traditionally, this has been addressed by simply placing treated wooden stakes or rebar (steel rods) within the post prior to setting in concrete. However, several fixtures have been proposed as an improved alternative.
For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,755,431 to Williams discloses a fixture which secures a hollow fence post to a “T” shaped stake which can be driven into the ground. The fixture includes a central inner housing for frictionally engaging the stake, and an outer, generally triangular peripheral member connected to the inner housing by a web. The triangular peripheral member is adapted to frictionally engage the post along the three corners thereof. These fixtures can be provided at multiple locations within the fence post to provide additional support.
Because it is readily available, relatively inexpensive, and easily cut to required lengths, standard pipe is an excellent support structure for hollow fence posts. Fixtures used in connection with standard pipes have been utilized to provide additional support and account for differences between the size of the pipe and the inner dimensions of the fence post.
For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,188 to Coulis employs coiled springs which fit tightly around an anchored pipe, the coiled springs having extensions which fit into the interior corners of a hollow rectangular fence post.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,523,808 to Lehmann discloses a fixture constructed of a pair of connected inner and outer cylinders. The inner cylinder extends beyond one end of the outer cylinder and has holes therein for fastening the fixture to a pipe. The outer cylinder is connected to the inner cylinder by a web, a hollow fence post can then be fitted over the outer cylinder.
In the many uses of posts supported by the various means discussed above, and particularly in the construction of fences, it is often necessary to attach hardware, such as brackets and hinges. While there are many advantages to using hollow vinyl posts, the conventional method of using screws to attach such hardware is problematic because the thickness of the walls of the posts is often insufficient. It would therefore be advantageous to provide a fixture for a hollow post that, in addition to positioning the post, provides additional support for conventional hardware.
Moreover, in the vinyl fence post industry, there are many manufacturers, and the interior dimensions of such fence posts can vary significantly. Accordingly, it is desirable to provide a fixture for a hollow fence post that accounts for differences in design and acceptable manufacturing tolerances.
Generally, it would be very desirable to have a fixture for securing a hollow post to a support structure such as a standard pipe that is simple, versatile and easily manufactured.
In some instances, a post such as that employed in vinyl fencing is not secured to the ground, but is instead attached to a structure, such as a wood deck or a cement floor. In those instances, a mount having a base plate for attachment to a structure is typically employed.
For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,508,457 to Knudson et al. describes a mount for a vinyl fence post that includes a base having mounting holes for attachment to a structure. Extending from the base is a pair of elongated support members in an X-shaped configuration providing contact with the inner corners of a hollow fence post having a rectangular cross-section.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,359,827 to Gehman discloses a mount for a hollow fence post including a base plate with holes for receiving set screws for attachment to a base. Extending vertically from the four corners of the rectangular base plate are four angle irons. Attached to the opposite end of the angle irons is a rectangular top plate which can be adjusted by a screw mechanism to lock the fixture against the inside corners of the fence post.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,924,834 to Young discloses a newel post for a balustrade which is mounted using a clamping mechanism having a pair of expandable wedges. A bolt passed through a hole in a boss and engages the wedges, causing them to bear against the inside wall of the hollow newel post and clamp the boss to a nut positioned in the bore of a substrate.
One problem associated with the mounts of the prior art lies in adjusting the vertical alignment of the post. Variations in the surface of, for example, a wood deck, can cause a post using such mounts to lean at an undesirable angle. In some instances, the structure may simply not be appropriately level. To correct the vertical alignment, it is often necessary to use a shim, which can be unsightly and unstable.
For example, U.S. Published Application No. 2003/0233793 to Burkart et al. relates to a post mounting system having individually adjustable angled clamping members which contact the interior of a hollow plastic post and secure the post against the retaining wall of a base member. Disclosed therein is an angled circular shim member that can be fitted under the entire base member of the mount to adjust the vertical alignment.
Thus, also needed are improvements with respect to mounts for hollow posts that overcome the shortcomings of the above devices.
The general purpose of the present invention is to provide new and improved post assemblies, fixtures and mounts for use in connection with the installation of hollow posts, and methods of installation using these new and improved devices.
In one embodiment, there is provided a fixture for mounting a hollow post to an elongated support structure such as a pipe. The fixture includes a fitting having a bore adapted to receive the support structure. Extending from the fitting is a web that connects the fitting to a plurality of friction plates. Preferably, the fixture includes four friction plates, and includes a fastener for securing the fixture to the support structure.
A preferred embodiment of the fixture includes a web in the form of a horizontal plate having four peripheral edges from which four friction plates extend. It is also preferred that the friction plates extend from the respective edges of the horizontal plate at an obtuse angle formed between the horizontal plate and the friction plate.
In another embodiment, the friction plates define a hollow cavity underlying the web, and the fitting extends within that cavity. In the case where fasteners used to connect the fitting to a pipe are located within this cavity, at least one of the friction plates is provided with an access opening so that the fastener can be engaged or disengaged to secure or release the fixture from the pipe.
In another embodiment, provided is a post assembly including one or more fixtures such as those just described to position a hollow post in relation to a pipe. The post assembly includes a standard pipe which is positioned within a hollow post having a square inner cross-section defined by a plurality of inner walls. For positioning the hollow post over the pipe, there is provided at least one fixture disposed within the post, the fixture including a fitting having a bore, the pipe being disposed within the bore and secured thereto by a fastener. A web extends outwardly from the fitting, and a plurality of friction plates extend from the web, each friction plate having a surface for engaging an inner wall of the hollow post. The friction plates are situated so that at least two opposing inner walls of the hollow post are engaged. Preferably, the fixture includes four such friction plates, each friction plate engaging a separate inner wall of the post.
Another embodiment of the invention relates to an adjustable mount for a hollow post. The adjustable mount includes an elongated support structure, such as a pipe, which is adapted for positioning within a hollow fence post. The support structure extends from a mounting bracket which is positioned over a base. Extending upwardly from the base are a number of threaded members which extend through a number of holes in the mounting bracket. Adjustment members, such as a conventional nut, are positioned onto each of the threaded members between the base and the mounting bracket, so that movement of the adjustment members adjusts the angle of the elongated support structure relative to the base.
Another embodiment of the invention is a post assembly that combines a pipe, one or more fixtures and an adjustable mount. A hollow post is provided having a square inner cross-section defined by four inner walls. A pipe is disposed within the post, secured to one of more fixtures. The fixtures include a fitting and a web connecting the fitting to a number of friction plates. The pipe is disposed within a bore in the fitting and secured thereto by at least one fastener. The web extends outwardly from the fitting, and a number of friction plates extend from the web, each friction plate having a surface that engages one of the inner walls of the post, the friction plates positioned so that at least two opposing inner walls are engaged by separate friction plates.
The adjustable mount of this embodiment includes a mounting bracket having a number of holes therein, the pipe extending from the mounting bracket, and a base underlying the bracket and having a number of threaded members extending upwardly through the holes. An adjustment member is positioned on each of the threaded members between the bracket and the base, whereby movement of the adjustment member along the threaded member adjusts the angle of the pipe relative to the base.
Also provided is a method of installing a hollow post including the steps of mounting a pipe to a structure such as the ground or a wood deck, securing a fixture such as those just described to the pipe, and then fitting a hollow post over the pipe and fixture. In another embodiment, an adjustable mount such as those described above is employed to mount the pipe to a structure, and the installation method includes the step of adjusting the vertical position of the pipe by rotating one or more of the adjustment members.
Additional features and benefits of the present invention are provided in the particular embodiments of the invention described herein in the Detailed Description of the invention, as well as in the various embodiments of the invention set forth in the accompanying figures.
Throughout the drawings similar numbers are used to indicate similar structures in the various embodiments of the invention.
In describing the preferred embodiments of the subject matter illustrated and to be described with respect to the drawings, specific terminology will be resorted to for the sake of clarity. However, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific terms so selected and it is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents which operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar result.
The present invention pertains to a post assembly, and particularly to a post assembly for a hollow vinyl fence post. Referring to
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the elongated support structure 14 is a standard cylindrical pipe. Pipe of this type is a common construction material, being inexpensive and easy to work with in that it can be readily cut to any desired length. However, a variety of elongated support structures can be used and the dimensions of the bore 28 of fittings 22 (
Positioning elongated support structure 14 within a hollow post 12 is accomplished by using one or more fixtures 10, which are depicted in greater detail in
Fitting 22 is preferably in the form of a cylinder, open at both ends, with an outer surface 32, and a bore 28. The bore 28 is adapted to receive elongated support structure 14, and is preferably cylindrical to accommodate a cylindrical pipe. The dimensions of the bore can be adapted to receive any number of elongated support structures known to those of skill in the art. The dimensions of the bore 28 should permit the fitting 22 to be easily moved to a desired vertical position along the elongated support 14, and at the same time, minimize the amount of movement of the elongated support 14 within the bore 28. In one embodiment, the dimensions of the bore 28 are only slightly greater than those of the exterior of the elongated support 14, such that some frictional resistance is provided between the outer surface of the elongated support 14 and the inner surface defining the bore 28.
Optionally, one or more protrusions 120 (
In one embodiment these protrusions 120 are in the form of a wedge, the thin, leading portion of the wedge being positioned downward within the bore 28 to allow the fixture 10 to be fitted onto the elongated support 14 (
In the mounting of a hollow post, the position of the fixtures 10 within the post can be adjusted to meet the needs of the particular application. Once in position, the fixture 10 can be secured in place by means of a fastener 32, by way of a threaded bolt or screw 36 received by a hole 34 as shown in
Other methods of positioning the fixtures 10 in relation to an elongated support structure 14 should be recognized by those of skill in the art. For example, an adjustable clamp can be employed, or an o-ring can be fitted around the elongated support 14 above and/or below the fitting 22. In some applications, it may be desirable to position a fixture 10 at the end of an elongated support 14. In that instance a fixture 10 can be provided wherein the upper end of the fitting 22 includes a stop (not shown), or the uppermost end of the bore is enclosed. In yet another embodiment, the elongated support structure 14 may include one or more stops (not shown), such as a circumferential lip, or holes for a pin, upon which the fitting 22 may rest.
Extending from the fitting 22 is a web 24 that serves to connect the fitting 22 to a plurality of friction plates 26. In the preferred embodiment (
As depicted in
There are a number of manufacturers of hollow posts, and particularly vinyl fence posts, and the inner dimensions of such posts can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, by design, and within acceptable manufacturing tolerances. To accommodate for these variations, the present invention uses resilient and/or resiliently connected friction plates 26 to position the post in relation to an elongated support 14.
In the preferred embodiment, friction plates 26 are essentially rectangular in form, and connected to a plate-shaped web 24 along the upper edge 38 thereof. In a preferred embodiment, the vinyl material of which the fixture 10 is constructed forms a resilient connection along edge 38 between the web 24 and friction plate 26, allowing the plate to move inward when pressure is applied against outer surface 40 of the friction plate 26. The thickness and type of material employed at the connection determines the resiliency of the connection, which also affects the amount of frictional resistance applied to the inner surface of the hollow post.
Referring again to
In a preferred embodiment, in addition to the resilient connection along edge 38, the friction plates 26 also are constructed of a material, and of a thickness, that imparts a certain amount of resiliency. Thus, in addition to flexing at edge 38, the friction plates may also bend against the inner surfaces 46 when disposed within a hollow post.
Although resiliency of the connection between the friction plates 26 and the web 24 is employed to position the hollow post in connection with the elongated support, the connection must also be of sufficient strength to resist external forces applied to the post in its assembled form without breaking. In the preferred embodiment, support connectors 62 (
While the term “plate” is used, it will be recognized by those of skill in the art that the overall shape of the plates is not critical so long as each friction plate 26 includes an outer surface 40 for engaging an inner surface 46 of a hollow post along a length or a width thereof. Further, the number of friction plates 26 may vary, however, there should be at least two opposing friction plates, as shown, for example, in the embodiment of
The preferred embodiment of the mounting fixture of the invention is injection molded from vinyl or other suitable plastics.
When mounting a post to an earth foundation, an elongated support 14, such as a pipe, can be placed within an excavated hole, and can then be fixed in place by the use of concrete. The vertical alignment of the pipe can be readily adjusted by simply shifting the position of the pipe within the concrete before it sets. However, when using a post in connection with a base structure other than an earth foundation, for example a wood deck, a mount is typically provided, and it is not as simple to adjust the vertical alignment of the post. Typically, shims are placed under a portion of the mount to adjust the vertical alignment, however, this has many disadvantages.
Mounting bracket 102 includes a plurality of holes 118 which are adapted to receive threaded members 106 when the mounting bracket 102 is positioned over base 104. Elongated support structure 14 may be attached to the base by any number of methods, preferably by welding. Optionally, angle supports 114, welded at an angle between the elongated support 14 and mounting bracket 102, can be provided for additional strength.
When installing the mounting assembly 100 of the present invention, base 104 is secured to a base structure 18, such as a cement floor or wood deck. In the preferred embodiment, bolts, screws, nails or other fastening means are employed to secure the base 104 through holes 110. Mounting bracket 102, with attached elongated support 14, is then positioned over the base and brought to rest upon the adjustment members 112. Rotating any one of the adjustment members 112 will change the vertical orientation of the elongated support 14.
Once the elongated support 14 has been properly aligned, a locking nut 116 (
Once the elongated support 14 has been mounted, either by the mounting assembly 100 of the present invention, or otherwise, one or more fixtures 10 may be fitted over the elongated support 14 and placed in the desired position. Using fasteners 32, the fixtures 10 are then secured to the elongated support 14. Hollow post 12 can then be placed over the elongated support 14 and fixtures 10.
Depending on the application of the post now installed, various hardware may be attached to the post via conventional means. Typically this is by the use of screws. In the case of a post for a fence assembly, this hardware may consist of brackets for horizontal fence members, or may includes hinges or other hardware for a gate. While vinyl posts have many advantages, one disadvantage is that the thickness of the walls is often insufficient for proper mounting of such hardware using conventional screws. However, if the fixtures of the present invention are positioned properly, screws can be driven through both the walls of the post and the friction plates 26 of the fixture 10, providing the desired additional support.
Although the invention herein has been described with reference to particular embodiments, it is to be understood that these embodiments are merely illustrative of the principles and applications of the present invention. It is therefore to be understood that numerous modifications may be made to the illustrative embodiments and that other arrangements may be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.
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