BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In northern climates, when cold winter temperatures turn lake surfaces into ice, many anglers brave cold and wind for the time honor sport of ice fishing. Anglers often transport a sled to the frozen lake for ice fishing. The sled can be used in conjunction with a shelter system. The present invention provides an alternative sled design for use in conjunction with activities such as ice fishing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention relates to an ice fishing sled. The ice fishing sled includes a base, a plurality of side walls, a crossbar, and a seat. The base has a length and a width. The plurality of side walls are connected to the base, and extend generally normal to the base. The plurality of side walls include opposing side wall portions and opposing end wall portions. The crossbar is supported by the opposing end wall portions, and is positioned intermediate the opposing side wall portions. The seat is supported by the crossbar and a first one of the opposing side wall portions. Further disclosed is a method of connecting a wear strip to a sled.
The present invention will be further explained with reference to the drawing figures listed below, where like structure is referenced by like numerals throughout the several views.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portable shelter sled of the present invention, shown with a canopy and a pivotable frame system.
FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the portable shelter sled of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the portable shelter sled of FIG. 1 together with a seat assembly and storage trays.
FIG. 3A is a partial cross sectional view of the sled taken along line 3A-3A in FIG. 3.
FIG. 3B is a perspective view of the portable shelter sled stepped inner wall supporting a storage tray.
FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the seat assembly of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is an end view of a first mounting bracket of the seat assembly of FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is an enlarged partial perspective view of a second mounting bracket of the seat assembly of FIG. 4.
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the second mounting bracket of FIG. 6.
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the portable shelter sled of the present invention without the canopy and pivotable frame system.
FIG. 9 is a cross sectional view of the inventive sled, taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 8.
FIG. 10 is a cross sectional view of a wear strip.
FIG. 11 is a cross sectional view of the inventive sled and a pair of wear strips.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION
While some of the above-identified figures set forth one or more embodiments of the invention, other embodiments are also contemplated, as noted in the discussion. In all cases, this disclosure presents the invention by way of representation and not limitation. It should be understood that numerous other modifications and embodiments can be devised by those skilled in the art, which fall within the scope and spirit of the principles of the invention.
The present invention relates to a portable shelter sled. The sled includes a base, a plurality of side walls, and a seat supported between one of the side walls and a crossbar resting on opposite end walls of the sled. The use of a crossbar to support a seat improves user access to supplies and equipment carried in the sled. The sled can also carry a pivoting frame/canopy system for providing a shelter that incorporates the sled.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a portable shelter sled 20. Sled 20 is formed of a polymer, such as high density polyethylene, in a molding process, and generally comprises a base 22 and a plurality of interconnected walls 24 and 26, which are configured at an upper extent with a perimeter ledge 28. Walls 24, 26 are dimensioned to define a pair of opposing side walls 24A and 24B and a pair of opposing end walls 26A and 26B, with side walls 24A and 24B having a greater length than end walls 26A and 26B. Base 22 is rounded at opposite ends 30A and 30B to permit sled 20 to be towed or pulled from either end 30A or 30B, such as with the aid of a tow rope 32 or other suitable towing connector. Sled 20 may also be equipped with a pivoting frame/canopy system 34 (shown in phantom) conventional in the art of sled-mounted portable ice fishing shelters.
- The Crossbar
Unique to the portable shelter sled 20 of the present invention is the addition of a crossbar 36 mounted to the ledge 28 of opposing end walls 26A and 26B. In one embodiment, crossbar 36 is generally medially positioned relative to opposing side walls 24A and 24B. Crossbar 36 serves as a support for mounting one or more seat assemblies 38 on sled 20. As shown in FIG. 1, seat assemblies 38 generally comprise a frame or bridge assembly 40 having a first mounting bracket 42 supported by a portion of ledge 28 associated with side wall 24A and a second mounting bracket (not shown) supported by the crossbar 36. The incorporation of crossbar 36 on sled 20 creates an unobstructed space 44 between crossbar 36 and side wall 24B to allow easy access to ice fishing gear and supplies stowed in sled 20.
The following discussion relates general features of the present invention, and provides a more detailed discussion of structures and functions of a crossbar feature that forms one aspect of the present invention. FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of sled 20. Base 22 is generally rectangular. Walls 24A, 24B define a length L of sled 20, and walls 26A,26B define a width W of sled 20. Walls 24A-26B extend generally normal to the base 22, and are formed with a step 46 that defines an upper wall portion 48 and a lower wall portion 50, the upper wall portion 48 having a greater inner and outer “diameter” than that of the lower wall portion 50. Walls 24, 26 terminate at an upper ledge 28 that extends generally normal to walls 24, 26. A perimeter lip 52 is located along upper ledge 28, and is generally normal to upper ledge 28.
Crossbar 36 is a tubular member that has a substantially rectangular cross-section, and can be formed of a metal, such as aluminum or steel. Crossbar 36 has a length generally corresponding to the length L of sled 20. Crossbar 36 is supported on opposing end wall portions 26A and 26B, and intermediate opposing side walls 24A and 24B. Crossbar 36 is secured to upper ledge 28 at opposing end wall portions 26A and 26B using fasteners 54 (e.g., screws, bolts, etc.). Caps 56 can be placed in the ends of crossbar 36.
- The Seat Assembly and Trays
Crossbar 36 and side wall 24A can be used to support, or assist in supporting, various items like seats and trays, leaving an unobstructed space 44 between crossbar 36 and side wall 24B along the entire length L of sled 20. Space 44 provides unobstructed access to an interior storage area of sled 20.
Various additional items can be used in conjunction with sled 20. Some of these additional items can be supported, at least in part, by crossbar 36 and/or walls 24A-26B of sled 20. The following is a discussion of seat assemblies and trays that form further aspects of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a portion of sled 20 together with crossbar 36, seat assembly 38, and first and second storage trays (or consoles) 60 and 62. Seat assembly 38 generally includes a seat 64, a pair of spaced support members 66 and 68, and first and second mounting brackets 42 and 72.
Seat 64 is connected to spaced support members 66, 68 via seat attachment brackets 78 and 80. Seat attachment brackets 78, 80 are secured to slide blocks 82 to permit movement of seat 64 along support members 66, 68. Support members 66, 68 each comprise a length of round metal tubing, the ends of which are secured to first and second mounting brackets 42 and 72. First and second mounting brackets 42, 72 are configured for connection to upper ledge 28 of side 24A and crossbar 36, respectively. Seat assembly 38 is configured such that a distance between first and second mounting brackets 42 and 72 generally corresponds to a distance between crossbar 36 and side wall 24A of sled 20. Seat assembly can include a storage hammock 84 secured under support members 66, 68.
Storage tray 60 is configured to rest on ledge 28 and crossbar 36 adjacent to seat assembly 38, and is slidable along the entire length L of sled 20. Storage tray 62 has a length approximating an inner dimension of the upper wall portion (measured between end walls 26A, 26B), and is supported on step 46 at end walls 26A, 26B. Tray 62 is slidable from a position underneath seat assembly 38 to a position aligned with opening 44.
FIG. 3A is a partial cross-sectional view of sled 20 and storage tray 60, taken along line 3A-3A of FIG. 3. Storage tray 60 has base B configured to define a groove 86 and a base portion 88. Groove 86 and base portion 88 are spaced apart, and are near opposing ends of storage tray 60. Groove 86 is sized to fit over crossbar 36. Base portion 88 is configured to rest on upper ledge 28 of sled 20. Together, groove 86 and base portion 88 slidably support storage tray 60 on crossbar 36 and side wall 24A of sled 20.
FIG. 3B is a perspective view of portable shelter sled 20 with a stepped inner wall supporting storage tray 62, which has a first end 90 and a second end 92. Storage tray 62 has a generally elongate rectangular shape, and has a length generally commensurate with length L of sled 20 (FIG. 2). First and second ends 90, 92 can be slidably supported by step 46 at opposing end walls 26A and 26B of sled 20, as shown in FIG. 3B. Storage tray 110 can be have nearly any configuration desired for providing a desired storage space, and can include compartments and holders for storing equipment frequently used by anglers, such as ice fishing poles. Storage tray 62 can slide along step 46 to position the storage tray 62 in desired locations, such as at the unobstructed space 44 and underneath seat assemblies 38. Storage space is provided under storage tray 62, where the size of that storage space is defined by the distance between base 22 and step 46 of sled 20.
FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of seat assembly 38. FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of first mounting bracket 42. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, first mounting bracket 42 has a serpentine shape with first and second retaining portions 94 and 96. First retaining portion 94 is generally C-shaped to accept first ends of spaced support members 66 and 68, which are secured therein by fasteners 98, e.g., screws, bolts, or other suitable connectors. Support members 66, 68 are supported on support surface 100 of first mounting bracket 42. Spaced openings 101 are provided in first retaining portion 94 to receive end portions of spaced support members 66, 68.
Second retaining portion 96 is generally C-shaped and includes support surface 102, which is sized to fit over upper ledge 28 and lip 52 of sled 20. Support surfaces 100 and 102 are joined together by a connecting wall 104. Tab 106 is a small, downwardly extending portion of first mounting bracket 42, and is generally aligned with connecting wall 104. Tab 106 is spaced from second retaining portion 96 to allow support surface 102 to fully rest on ledge 28, with tab 106 closely engaging side wall 24 of sled 20. A wall portion 108 of second retaining portion 96 overlaps lip 52 to prevent first mounting bracket 42 from inadvertently becoming disengaged from ledge 28, such as when a user leans back in seat 64 to retrieve equipment from sled 20. First mounting bracket 42 is formed by bending a metal sheet into the serpentine shape.
FIG. 6 is an enlarged partial perspective view of second mounting bracket 72 of seat assembly 38, and FIG. 7 is a bottom perspective view of second mounting bracket 72. As shown in FIGS. 4, 6 and 7, second mounting bracket 72 is a metal sheet bent in a serpentine shape to form first and second U-shaped channels 110 and 112. U-shaped channel 110 faces upward (as shown in FIGS. 4 and 7) and is defined by side walls 114 and 116 and a base 118. U-shaped channel 112 faces downward (as shown in FIGS. 4 and 7), and is defined by side walls 116 and 120 and a connecting wall 122. Side wall 114 is formed with spaced openings 124 to receive end portions of support members 66, 68. Support members 66, 68 are secured to and supported on base 118 of second mounting bracket 72 with fasteners 98. U-shaped channel 112 is sized to fit over crossbar 36 (shown in FIG. 3).
As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, a pair of slots 126 is formed in base 118 of U-shaped channel 110 to receive a two-pronged clip 128. Clip 128 is able to rotate and engage retainer grooves in a wall extension 130 of wall 120. Clip 128 is spring biased to remain in contact with the retainer grooves so as to capture crossbar 36 within U-shaped channel 112 and prevent seat assembly 38 from inadvertently tipping forward, such as when a user leans forward in seat 64.
Seat assemblies 38 can be engaged to sled 20 by first placing second retaining portion 96 of first mounting bracket 42 over lip 52 of side wall 24A of sled 20 with second mounting bracket 72 elevated above crossbar 36 (See FIG. 3). Seat assembly 38 is then pivoted until U-shaped channel 112 of second mounting bracket 72 sits on a portion of crossbar 36. Finally, retaining clip 128 is closed around crossbar 36 and secured in retainer grooves of second mounting bracket 72. Seat assembly 38 is disengaged by reversing the process.
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of portable shelter sled 20, shown with a crossbar 36, a pair of seat assemblies 38, and a storage tray 60. As shown in FIG. 8, seat assemblies 38 and storage tray 60 are supported between crossbar 36 and side wall 24A of sled 20, leaving an unobstructed space 44 between crossbar 36 and side wall 24B. Unobstructed space 44 permits access to an interior of sled 20 while at the same time permitting seat assemblies 38 and storage tray 60 to be in use, supported by portions of sled 20 and crossbar 36.
Each of the seat assemblies 38 can slidably move along crossbar 36 and side wall 24A. However, first and second mounting brackets 42 and 72 prevent undesired disengagement of seat assemblies 38 from sled 20. Space 44 can remain unobstructed while seat assemblies 38 and storage tray 60 are supported on sled 20, which allows access to an interior storage area of sled 20 and any storage tray and gear stowed there.
- Structure of the Sled
In addition to seats and trays, other items can be supported by the crossbar 36 and/or portions of the sled 20. These other items can include nearly any storage or fishing items used in conjunction with a portable ice fishing shelter sled.
The following discussion relates additional inventive aspects relating to a structure of portable sled 20. FIG. 9 is across-sectional view of sled 20, taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 8. Sled 20 is comprised of a contiguous polymer shell wall that defines base 22 and side walls 24, 26, each having a nominal wall thickness of about 0.125 inches.
Base 22 of sled 20 is formed to include a plurality of ground contact portions 131 that are separated by elevated portions 132, both of which extend the length of sled 20. In one embodiment, each ground contact portion 131 has a width A and each elevated portion 132 has a width B. This undulating base configuration reduces contact between a ground surface and base 22, and thereby facilitates sliding sled 20 over snow and/or ice. Ground contact portions 131 function as sled runners that aid in the ability of sled 20 to track in a substantially straight line behind a person or vehicle towing sled 20. Each ground contact portion 131 is configured with a central groove 133 on an outer surface that extends the entire length of sled 20.
Step 46 is defined in walls 24A-26B of sled 20 between upper ledge 28 and base 22. Step 46 has a width P of a sufficient dimension to serve as a support surface for storage trays, as previously described. In one preferred embodiment, the width P of step 46 is greater than about 0.5 inches. In another preferred embodiment, step 46 is formed to be approximately 0.5 inches to approximately 1.0 inch wide. Step 46 extends continuously around a perimeter of sled 20, and provides structural integrity to walls 24, 26. Items such as storage tray 62 can be slidably supported by step 46 near opposing end walls 26A and 26B of sled 20 (as shown in FIGS. 3 and 3B) or between opposing walls 24A, 24B.
- The Wear Strips
A towing attachment 32 (e.g., a rope, bar, hitch, harness, grip, yoke, link, tie, handle, linkage, or other device or structure for pulling sled 20) can be connected at either end of sled 20, at opposing end walls 26A and 26B (shown in FIGS. 1 and 8). Holes can be provided in walls 26 of sled 20 to connect towing attachment 32.
The following discussion relates to a wear strip for connection to ground contacting portions 131 of sled 20. FIG. 10 is a cross sectional view of a wear strip 150. Wear strip 150 includes a base 152, a number of ribs 154 arranged in two spaced sets 156A and 156B, and a strip alignment groove 158. Wear strip 150 has a width approximating the width of a ground contact portion 131, and has a length corresponding to the length of base 22 of the sled 20. Base 152 provides a planar surface mateable with ground contacting portion 131 of sled 20. Ribs 154 extend along substantially the entire length of wear strip 150, and extend generally normal to base 152 of wear strip 150. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 10, wear strip 150 includes two sets 156A and 156B of three ribs 154, and the two sets 156A and 156B are located along opposite edge portions of wear strip 150. Strip alignment groove 158 is centered between the two sets 156A and 156B of ribs 154.
FIG. 11 is a cross sectional view of sled 20 and a pair of wear strips 150 secured to base 22 by a number of fasteners 160 (e.g., rivets, bolts etc.). In the embodiment shown in FIG. 13, wear strips 150 are secured to the outermost ground contact portions 131 of sled 20, with the strip alignment groove 158 of wear strip 150 aligned with central groove 133 of ground contact portion 131. Alternatively wear strip 150 is mounted to each ground contact portion 131. Alignment grooves ensure proper alignment of wear strips 150 on base 22 of sled 20, so as to reduce sled drift, which can occur if one or more of the wear strips 150 is installed at an angle relative to a longitudinal axis of sled 20.
Wear strips 150 provide tracking stability as sled 20 is being transported, by allowing sled 20 to track tighter and straighter. Wear strips 150 further reduce contact between base 22 and the ground surface to facilitate towing of sled 20. In addition, wear strips 150 reduce wear (e.g., abrasion) and damage to base 22 of sled 20 by providing a separate frictional surface for sled 20. Wear strips 150 are replaceable should they become damaged or overly worn. In that way, use of wear strips 150 can prolong a useful life of sled 20.
Wear strips 150 can be formed of a suitable polymer material such as high density polyethylene. It is desirable for wear strips 150 to be formed of a flexible material such that wear strips 150 can conform to a shape of sled 20. In that way, wear strips 150 can be attached over sloped or curved portions at opposing ends 30A and 30B of base 22 of sled 20.
In order to attach wear strips 150 to sled 20, holes are provided in each wear strip 150 along one of the strip alignment grooves 158. These holes are made by drilling, although the holes could be pre-formed. Corresponding holes are provided in base 22 of sled 20 along one of the central grooves 133. Holes in base 22 of sled 20 and in wear strips 150 can be drilled together to assure alignment. After providing the holes, fasteners 160 are placed through the holes to secure wear strips 150 to base 22 of sled 20. Wear strips 150 are typically installed by placing a wear strip 150 at one end 30A or 30B of base 22 of sled 20 and securing the wear strip 150 with a first fastener 160 positioned near the end 30A or 30B of base 22 (see FIG. 2). Wear strip 150 is then bent around the curvature of the end 30A or 30B of base 22, and another fastener 160 is secured between wear strip 150 and base 22 in a location adjacent to the first fastener 160. This process is repeated until each wear strip 150 is secured along the entire length of base 22 of sled 20.
Thus, it will be recognized that the present invention provides a portable shelter sled having a crossbar supported by opposing end walls for supporting items such as seats and storage trays between the crossbar and a side wall of the sled. The crossbar creates an unobstructed space behind the seats for access to a storage area of the sled. The seats and storage trays are slidable along the length of the sled. In order to prevent disengagement as a user shifts his or her weight in the seat, the seats are slidably engaged between an upper ledge of a wall of the sled and the crossbar. The sled is structured with a number of walls and an undulating base. The walls of the sled include a step, which provides rigidity to the sled and can be used to support items such as storage trays. Wear strips are mounted on ground contact portions of the undulating base of the sled. Those wear strips help reduce wear and damage to the sled, and also increase tracking stability when transporting the sled.
Although the present invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments, workers skilled in the art will recognize that changes maybe made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.