Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20060130727 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/003,470
Publication dateJun 22, 2006
Filing dateDec 6, 2004
Priority dateDec 6, 2004
Publication number003470, 11003470, US 2006/0130727 A1, US 2006/130727 A1, US 20060130727 A1, US 20060130727A1, US 2006130727 A1, US 2006130727A1, US-A1-20060130727, US-A1-2006130727, US2006/0130727A1, US2006/130727A1, US20060130727 A1, US20060130727A1, US2006130727 A1, US2006130727A1
InventorsLance Eischeid
Original AssigneeLance Eischeid
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Illuminated dock bumper
US 20060130727 A1
Abstract
The illuminated dock bumper is formed of a semi-rigid and translucent plastic shell and contains a self-contained, independent electrical lighting system therein. The translucent plastic shell may be white or may be tinted as desired, e.g., red or green for navigational purposes, etc. A solar cell charges a battery during periods of daylight or high illumination, with a photocell closing a circuit to turn on a light source to radiate light through the translucent shell during periods of darkness or low ambient lighting. The system may alternatively be remotely activated and/or may operate intermittently, as desired. The bumper includes a sleeve, which fits over a conventional dock piling or the like, allowing the device to be removably installed over posts, pilings, and similar structures as desired. Different configurations or adapters allow the device to be installed upon different diameters and shapes of dock posts, as required.
Images(5)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(18)
1. An illuminated dock bumper, comprising:
a dock piling sleeve adapted for attachment to a dock piling; and
means for providing illumination radiating from the sleeve.
2. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 1, further comprising:
a translucent electrical lighting housing extending from the sleeve, the means for providing illumination being disposed within the lighting housing.
3. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 2, further comprising a lower bumper extension depending from at least said lighting housing.
4. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 1, wherein said means for providing illumination comprises:
at least one electrically operated illumination device; and
at least one battery electrically connected to the illumination device.
5. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 4, wherein said battery comprises a rechargeable battery, the bumper further comprising:
at least photovoltaic solar cell; and
means for automatically switching said battery between a discharge cycle for providing electrical power to the illumination device and a charge cycle for storing electrical power generated by said solar cell in said rechargeable battery, electrical power to the illumination device being disconnected during the charging cycle.
6. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 5, wherein the switching means comprises a photocell disposed on said sleeve for automatically activating the at least one illumination device during periods of low ambient light.
7. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 5, wherein the switching means comprises a timer electrically connected to said solar cell and to said illumination device for actuating said illumination device at predetermined intervals.
8. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 4, wherein said illumination device comprises at least one light emitting diode.
9. An illuminated dock bumper, comprising:
a dock piling sleeve;
a translucent electrical lighting housing extending from the sleeve; and
electrical lighting disposed within the housing, providing illumination therefrom when actuated.
10. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 9, further including a lower bumper extension depending from the housing, and axially aligned substantially therewith.
11. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 8, further comprising:
a translucent electrical lighting housing extending from the sleeve;
a self-contained, independent electrical lighting system disposed within the housing, comprising:
at least one electrically operated illumination device;
at least one rechargeable electrical storage cell communicating electrically with the at least one illumination device;
at least one storage cell recharging solar cell communicating electrically with the at least one storage cell; and
an electrical actuation device electrically communicating with the at least one storage cell and the at least one illumination device, selectively activating the at least one illumination device.
12. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 11 wherein the electrical actuation device is a photocell, automatically activating the at least one illumination device during periods of low ambient light.
13. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 9, wherein said translucent housing is tinted with a color.
14. An illuminated dock bumper, comprising:
a translucent electrical lighting housing adapted for attachment to a dock;
an illumination device disposed within the housing;
a rechargeable battery disposed within the housing;
a photovoltaic solar cell disposed on the housing;
a photocell disposed on the housing and exposed to ambient light; and
a switching circuit including the photocell for switching between a charging cycle connecting the solar cell to the rechargeable battery for storing an electrical charge while disconnecting power to the illumination device, and a discharge cycle connecting the battery to the illumination device for radiating light through the translucent housing based upon ambient light conditions.
15. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 14, wherein said lighting housing includes a sleeve adapted for attachment to a piling of the dock.
16. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 14, wherein said housing is made from a weather-resistant, semi-rigid material for resisting impact from a boat.
17. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 14 wherein said housing is made from a material selected from the group consisting of polyethylene, polypropylene, and nylon.
18. The illuminated dock bumper according to claim 15 wherein said illumination device comprises at least one light emitting diode.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to pads, bumpers, and similar protective devices. More particularly, the present invention comprises a series of embodiments of an illuminated dock bumper that installs over or atop a conventional dock piling or post.

2. Description of the Related Art

Maritime docks, piers, wharves, and similar structures are generally supported by posts or pilings formed of wood, metal, concrete, or other structurally sturdy material. Such materials are hard on boat hulls when boats contact the dock or pier, or are tied up to the dock or pier. The constant movement of the boat hull because of water movement due to wind, tide, wakes from other boats, and other factors can result in significant damage to a boat hull as it is abraded against the pier or dock structures.

As a result, it is conventional to protect the hulls of boats contacting the pier structures by applying bumpers, padding, or protective devices to the posts and pilings. Many materials have been used for such purpose, including old tires, pads formed of rope or similar material, and even soft wood. While these bumpers and pads function adequately, they are all opaque, and do nothing to light the dock or pier to which they are attached. Separate lighting must be provided for the boater using the dock at night or in poor lighting conditions.

Accordingly, there have been various illuminated devices developed in the past, which also serve as buoys, bumpers or fenders for boats. However, such devices are often illuminated by incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen lights that require a source of AC power, and often require an electrical extending from the bumper to an electrical outlet. Battery powered devices usually require alkaline or dry cell batteries, which often run down at the worst possible time. Consequently, there is a need for an illuminated deck bumper with a self-contained, rechargeable power source operating on solid state electronics to provide reliable, low cost, maintenance-free protection for a docking or docked boat and illumination of the pilings and pier or other dock structures at night or in poor lighting conditions.

Thus, an illuminated dock bumper solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The illuminated dock bumper generally comprises a hollow, translucent structure formed of an at least somewhat resilient plastic material and containing a completely self-contained, independent lighting system. The translucent shell may be white, or may be tinted (e.g., red, green, etc.) as desired. A portion of the bumper comprises a hollow passage or tubular portion adapted to fit over and around a conventional dock post or piling. The upper end of the tube is closed and may rest atop the post or piling, or the lower portion of the device may rest upon the edge of the adjacent horizontal dock structure. An extension depends from the lower portion of the device, to provide protection when the dock is somewhat higher above the water surface than normal.

The lighting system comprises a solar cell, which serves to periodically recharge a battery during periods of daylight or bright lighting. The lighting circuit is controlled by a photocell, which switches the lighting circuit on at night or during periods of low lighting to power a light source from the rechargeable battery. The circuit may include additional components for greater versatility, e.g., radio activation, timed or intermittent operation to conserve battery power, etc. as desired.

These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view in low light conditions of a dock equipped with a series of the illuminated dock bumpers according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an environmental perspective view of a single illuminated dock bumper of FIG. 1, showing further details thereof.

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view showing the removable installation of a second embodiment illuminated dock bumper to a dock piling according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view showing a further embodiment of an illuminated dock bumper according to the present invention, including a series of interchangeable inserts for installing the bumper about dock pilings of different configurations.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention comprises various embodiments of an illuminated dock bumper, serving as both a bumper to preclude hull damage to boats contacting the dock or pier and also as a lighting device during periods of darkness or low lighting. FIG. 1 illustrates the installation of a series of illuminated bumpers 10 according to a first embodiment of the invention, which are removably disposed upon a like number of dock pilings, columns, or posts P, with FIG. 2 providing a detailed perspective view showing further features of the bumper 10. The bumper 10 includes an outer shell 12 formed of a somewhat resilient or semi-rigid, translucent plastic material, e.g., low or high density polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, etc. Preferably the plastic material offers high resistance to ultraviolet deterioration, as the material is normally exposed to sunlight during daylight hours. The outer shell 12 may be molded or cast as a single, integral component to include an upper portion having a sleeve 14 for fitting over the dock piling P, a translucent electrical lighting housing portion 16 extending laterally from the sleeve portion 14, and a lower bumper extension 18. The lower bumper extension 18 extends below both the lighting housing portion 16 and at least a portion of the sleeve 14, and may have a notch defined therein to abut the header of the dock or pier, giving the bumper extension 18 a staircase profile when viewed from the side, as shown in FIG. 2. The bumper 10 is generally vertically disposed when removably placed or permanently installed upon a generally vertical post or piling P, generally as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

The electrical lighting housing portion 16 includes a completely independent, self-contained lighting system, which may operate under automatic control from an internal power supply, or which may be externally actuated if so desired. The lighting system includes at least one rechargeable battery 20, which selectively provides electrical power to one or more internally disposed light emitting diodes (LEDs) 22 or other suitable electrically powered illumination devices (e.g., incandescent or fluorescent lighting, etc.) as desired. LEDs are preferred, due to their relatively low electrical power consumption for their light output, for their rugged construction, and for their long life. Power for recharging the battery 20 is provided by a solar cell panel or array 24, which provides electrical power to the battery 20 during periods of relatively bright ambient lighting (e.g., daylight, bright artificial lighting, etc.), which the battery stores until required for operation of the illumination device.

Fully automatic control of the above-described lighting system may be provided by a photocell 26, which is electrically connected to the remainder of the circuit to function as an on/off switch. The photocell 26 opens the circuit to the light 22 during bright light conditions, e.g., during daylight, when the lighting provided by the present illuminated dock bumper 10 is not required. The photocell 26 also closes the charging circuit to recharge the battery 20 from the solar cell panel 24, which functions optimally during conditions of bright lighting. When lower light levels occur, e.g., around sunset, etc., the photocell 26 closes the circuit to the light 22 to actuate the illumination device, thereby causing the bumper 10 to have a luminous, glowing appearance due to its translucent plastic shell 12. It will be seen that the above-described lighting system is completely self-contained and independent of all other electrical power sources and components, thereby allowing any of the present illuminated bumpers 10 to be removed, relocated, and reinstalled as desired without concern for additional electrical wiring. Lighting systems operating under automatic control to switch between a cycle of recharging batteries from solar cells and a cycle of powering the light from the rechargeable battery are well known in the electrical art, and will not be described further. An exemplary schematic of such a circuit is shown in FIG. 18 of International Patent No. WO 98/30834 and described from page 8, line 26 through page 9, line 18 of the publication, which are hereby incorporated by reference.

The lighting system of the illuminated dock bumper 10 may be actuated using other means, if so desired. For example, a timer could be added to the circuit to actuate the light 22 during,a portion of the night or some other intermittent period, as desired. Alternatively, a receiver (e.g. radio, infrared, etc.) could be incorporated with the system to allow boaters to actuate the lighting system upon approach to the dock. Such timers and receivers are conventional, and are indicated generally by the component 28 in the lighting housing 16 of the device in FIG. 2.

FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative embodiment of an illuminated dock bumper 110 in which the lighting housing portion 116 of the translucent shell 112 is disposed directly over the lower bumper extension 118, generally axially aligned therewith. The piling sleeve 114 is axially offset from the lighting housing 116 and bumper extension 118, in the illuminated bumper 110 of FIG. 3. It will also be noted that the piling sleeve 114 has a generally rectangular cross section, in order to more closely fit about and conform to the square or rectangular section of the dock post or piling P2 of FIG. 3. However, it will be seen that the present illuminated dock bumper in its various embodiments may be configured to fit virtually any practicable post configuration, as desired.

FIG. 4 illustrates yet another embodiment of the present illuminated dock bumper, in which the bumper 110 is provided with a series of inserts in order to fit properly about various sizes and diameters of dock posts or pilings. The bumper 110 includes a post or piling sleeve 114, axially offset from the electrical lighting housing portion 116 and its lower bumper extension 118 depending directly therefrom. The sleeve portion 114 includes a relatively large post or piling receptacle 115 therein (shown in broken lines in FIG. 4). This receptacle 115 may be installed directly over any relatively large post or piling which fits reasonably well. However, the inserts provided with the illuminated dock bumper 110 of FIG. 4 permit the bumper 110 to be installed over a variety of differently configured posts.

For example, it may be necessary to place the illuminated bumper 110, with its relatively large piling receptacle 115, over a smaller section post or piling P3. Accordingly, upper and lower square or rectangular section inserts 130 may be secured (e.g., using mechanical fasteners, adhesives, fusion, etc. as desired) within the receptacle 115 or about the post or piling P3, as desired. The smaller passages through the centers of the inserts 130 are configured to fit reasonably closely about the smaller post P3, while the larger outer peripheries of the inserts 130 fit comfortably within the post or piling receptacle 115 of the illuminated bumper 110.

Another example is illustrated in FIG. 4 for a larger diameter post or piling P4 having a circular cross section. In this case, a pair of inserts 132 are provided, with the inserts 132 having outer peripheries closely fitting the receptacle 115 of the illuminated bumper 110 and inner passages closely fitting the configuration of the cylindrical post P4. It will be seen that such inserts may be formed to accommodate virtually any practicable post or piling size or configuration, thus allowing the illuminated bumper shell 112 (or other shell) to be molded or formed from a single mold, if so desired.

The illustration of the illuminated bumper 110 of FIG. 4 also discloses the coloring or tinting of the translucent body or shell 112 of the device. In many, if not most, instances, it may be desirable to keep the translucent plastic shell in its natural state, i.e., a white or perhaps off-white color. However, maritime navigational aids are conventionally colored red and green to indicate left and right passage. The present illuminated dock bumpers in their various embodiments could be tinted or colored similarly, e.g., the reddish tint or shading 113 indicated by the vertical stripes on the surface of the shell 112 of the illuminated bumper 110 of FIG. 4. The coloring, shading, or tint is not opaque, but rather still permits the shell 112 to be translucent to emit light from the lighting circuit contained therein. However, the shading or tinting the shell of the device to produce a colored translucence or luminosity, may facilitate orientation for the boater approaching a dock lighted with the present bumpers during night operations.

In conclusion, the various embodiments of the illuminated dock bumper provide a much-needed means of illuminating a dock or similar area in darkness or conditions of low light. The completely self-contained, independent electrical lighting system requires no periodic maintenance, other than replacement of the rechargeable battery at very infrequent intervals and keeping the photocell and solar panels clean for the reception of light. The illuminated dock bumper fits easily over most dock posts or pilings and is completely portable and transferable, so long as it is not permanently secured in place. Alternatively, the devices may easily be conventionally secured permanently to a post, piling, or other structure to preclude theft, if so desired. The application and use of the present devices is not limited only to the boating environment. It will be seen that the present bumpers will make excellent additions to residential driveway entrances, parking areas, and virtually any area where at least some illumination is desired to mark boundaries, obstructions, or other features, and/or to add some supplemental lighting to an area.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7237502 *Jan 24, 2006Jul 3, 2007Boat Guard International, Inc.Boat bumper
US7481174Feb 5, 2007Jan 27, 2009Boat Guard International, Inc.Rotatable guard mounted about boat mooring
US8056491 *May 23, 2007Nov 15, 2011Easyberth LimitedBerthing system and structure for use therein
Classifications
U.S. Classification114/219
International ClassificationB63B59/02
Cooperative ClassificationE01F9/0165
European ClassificationE01F9/016B