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Publication numberUS20070082791 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/245,361
Publication dateApr 12, 2007
Filing dateOct 6, 2005
Priority dateOct 6, 2005
Also published asCA2564327A1
Publication number11245361, 245361, US 2007/0082791 A1, US 2007/082791 A1, US 20070082791 A1, US 20070082791A1, US 2007082791 A1, US 2007082791A1, US-A1-20070082791, US-A1-2007082791, US2007/0082791A1, US2007/082791A1, US20070082791 A1, US20070082791A1, US2007082791 A1, US2007082791A1
InventorsLloyd Reese, Eric Moore, Chris Newburry, Brian Jenkins
Original AssigneePlaypower Lt Farmington, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Playground climbing structures
US 20070082791 A1
Abstract
A climbing wall assembly or climbing structure made in accordance with the present invention comprises at least two adjacent climbing panels and at least three support posts. The climbing panels are mounted between the support posts and adjacent climbing panels share a common support post. The panels include hinge elements which enables two adjacent panels to be oriented relative to each other at a desired angle. In addition, base members are provided to which the support posts are removably mounted, to enable removal and replacement of an individual panel of a wall assembly. Lastly, caps are provided to substantially close openings in the top surface of the climbing assembly and gaps between adjacent panels of the climbing assembly.
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Claims(40)
1. A climbing structure for a playground comprising a plurality of support posts and at least two climbing panels mounted between the support posts; each climbing panel comprising a front surface, a back surface, a first side surface and a second side surface; the front and back surfaces of said panels being configured to be climbed; a first of the two panels having at least one hinge member on its first side surface, and a second of the two panels having at least one hinge member on its second side surface; the hinge members of said first and second panels being vertically off-set from each other such that the hinge members of said first and second panels are generally axially aligned when said panels are positioned adjacent each other; said panel hinge members defining a tube shaped to receive one of said support posts; said hinge members having a length such that the combined length of the hinge members of adjacent panels will surround the substantially the entire length of said support posts; the hinge member of one of said panels being an upper hinge member and having an upper surface and the hinge member of the second of said panels being a lower hinge member and having a lower surface; said support posts and said hinge members being shaped such that an assembler can selectively set the relative angle between two adjacent panels.
2. The climbing structure of claim 1 wherein said tube defined by said hinge member has an inner surface; the inner surface of said hinge member tube at a top and a bottom of said tube being sized and shaped to snugly receive said support post and said inner surface of said hinge member tube along a center portion thereof being sized and shaped such that a gap is formed between said tube inner surface and said support post.
3. The climbing structure of claim 1 wherein said front and back surfaces of said panels are shaped to simulate a rock wall.
4. The climbing structure of claim 1 wherein said first and second panels each comprise two or more hinge members on their respective first and second side surfaces.
5. The climbing structure of claim 1 comprising three or more panels; said panels comprising two end panels and the remainder of said panels being center panels; said end panels having said at least one hinge member along only one side thereof and said center panel having hinge members on both is first and second side surfaces.
6. The climbing structure of claim 5 wherein the hinge members of said center panel first side surface are vertically offset from the hinge members of said center panel second side surface.
7. The climbing structure of claim 5 wherein said end panels include a vertically extending passage; said passage being horizontally spaced from the hinge member of said panel; said passage being sized and shaped to receive a support post.
8. The climbing structure of claim 1 wherein said support posts are generally cylindrical and said tube defined by said at least one hinge member is generally cylindrical.
9. The climbing structure of claim 1 including a post cap adapted to close a top end of said support posts.
10. The climbing structure of claim 9 wherein said support posts include an interior surface extending generally normal to the axis of said support posts; said surface including an opening; said climbing structure including a fastener which extends through said post cap and into said surface opening to secure said post cap to said post.
11. The climbing structure of claim 9 wherein said first panel upper hinge member comprises a recess on an upper surface thereof; said post cap being sized and shaped to be received in said recess.
12. The climbing structure of claim 11 wherein said second panel comprises a recess in an upper surface thereof at said second panel first side; said first panel recess being opened along an outer surface thereof and said second panel recess being generally aligned with said first panel recess when said first and second panels are positioned adjacent each other; said cap comprising a flange, said flange being sized to extend across a gap between adjacent panels and into the recess of said second panel.
13. The climbing structure of claim 1 comprising a plurality of base members; said base members comprising a mounting post to which said support post is mounted.
14. The climbing structure of claim 13 wherein said mounting post comprises a hollow sleeve; said support post being received in said sleeve.
15. The climbing structure of claim 14 including a fastener which secures said support post to said sleeve.
16. The climbing structure of claim 15 wherein said base members include a support plate on said mounting post above said fastener.
17. The climbing structure of claim 13 wherein said support post is removably mounted to said mounting post.
18. The climbing structure of claim 13 wherein said base member comprises a surface engaging base plate; said mounting post extending upwardly from said base plate.
19. The climbing structure of claim 18 wherein said base member further comprises a plurality of anchors which extend through said base plate into said surface.
20. The climbing structure of claim 13 wherein said base member comprises a pole which extends into said ground; said support post comprising an upper portion of said pole.
21. A climbing structure for a playground comprising:
a plurality of support posts;
a plurality of ground engaging base members; said base members each comprising a mounting post to which said support post is removably mounted;
a pair of end climbing panels and at least one central climbing panel; each climbing panel comprising a front surface, a back surface, a first side, a second side, a top and a bottom; the front and back surfaces of said panels being configured to be climbed;
said end panels each comprising at least one hinge member along one of the first and second sides thereof;
said at least one central panel comprising at least one first side hinge member along said central panel first side and at least one second side hinge member along said central panel second side; said first and second side hinge members being vertically offset from each other; such that the at least one hinge member of one panel of said climbing structure will be generally axially aligned with the at least one hinge member of an adjacent panel when said panels are positioned adjacent each other;
said panel hinge members being hollow and being sized and shaped to receive one of said support posts; said hinge members having a length such that the combined length of the hinge members of adjacent panels will surround substantially the entire length of said support posts; said support posts and said hinge members being shaped such that an assembler can selectively set the relative angle between two adjacent panels.
22. The climbing structure of claim 21 wherein said end panels comprise a left end panel and a right end panel; the hinge members of said left end panel being vertically off set from the hinge members of said right end panel.
23. The climbing structure of claim 21 wherein said end panels include a vertically extending passage horizontally spaced from the hinge member of said end panel; said passage being sized and shaped to receive a support post.
24. The climbing structure of claim 21 including a post cap adapted to close a top end of said support posts, said post cap including a cap body and a flange extending from said cap body; said flange being sized to extend across a gap between adjacent panels.
25. The climbing structure of claim 24 wherein one of the hinge members of two adjacent panels comprises an upper hinge member; said upper hinge member having a surface spaced below an upper surface of its panel; said adjacent panel having a recess aligned with said hinge upper surface; said cap body being received on said flange upper surface and said cap flange being received in said recess.
26. The climbing structure of claim 25 including at least one fastener to secure said cap in place.
27. The climbing structure of claim 25 including at least one fastener extending through said cap body and at least one fastener extending through said cap flange.
28. The climbing structure of claim 21 wherein said base member post comprises a hollow sleeve; said sleeve being sized and shaped to receive said post.
29. The climbing structure of claim 28 including a fastener which secures said post to said sleeve.
30. The climbing structure of claim 21 wherein said base member comprises a ground engaging plate; said mounting post extending upwardly from said plate; said climbing structure further including a plurality of anchors which extend through said base plate into the ground.
31. The climbing structure of claim 21 wherein said base member comprises a pole which extends into said ground; said support post comprising an upper portion of said pole.
32. A climbing wall comprising at least two adjacent climbing panels and at least three support posts; said climbing panels being mounted between the support posts, wherein the adjacent climbing panels share a common support post;
each climbing panel comprising a front surface, a back surface, a first side surface and a second side surface; the front and back surfaces of said panels being configured to be climbed; a first of the two panels having a connecting element on at least its first side surface, and a second side of the two panels having at least one connecting element on its second side surface; the connecting elements of said panels defining an elongate tube which surrounds a support post.
33. The climbing wall of claim 32 wherein said support post and said connecting elements are shaped to permit the panels to be oriented at a desired angle relative to each other.
34. The climbing wall of claim 33 wherein said tube defined by said connecting elements is generally cylindrical tube and said support post is generally cylindrical.
34. The climbing wall of claim 32 wherein said tube defined by said connecting elements surrounds substantially the entire above ground length of said support pole.
35. The climbing wall of claim 32 wherein said connecting element of said climbing panel comprise at least one hinge member on the adjacent side surfaces of said panels; the at least one hinge member of said first panel being vertically offset from the at least one hinge member of said second panel.
36. A wall panel for use in assembly a climbing wall; said wall panel comprising:
an upper surface, a bottom surface, a front surface, a back surface, a first side and a second side;
a plurality of hand/foot holds on at least one of said front and back surfaces to enable said panel to be climbed; and
at least one connecting member on at least said first side of said panel to facilitate connection of said panel to an adjacent panel; said connecting member comprising a hinge member extending from said first side; said hinge member having a length less than the length of said first side; said hinge member defining a tube having an inner surface.
37. The wall panel of claim 36 wherein said hinge member tube has a first circumference at a top and a bottom of said tube, and a second, greater circumference along a center section of said tube; said first circumference being less than said second circumference.
38. The wall panel of claim 36 wherein said hinge member has an upper surface proximate said panel upper surface; said hinge upper surface comprising a recessed surface spaced below said panel upper surface.
39. The wall panel of claim 38 wherein said panel includes a second recessed surface in said panel upper surface at the opposite side of said panel upper surface from said hinge member.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to playground equipment and, in particular to free standing playground climbing structures, such as simulated rock walls.

Climbing structures, such as rock walls, are employed more and more frequently in indoor and outdoor recreation or playground areas. Typically, a climbing structure comprises a plurality of panels having a formed surface with hand and foot holds thereon. The formed surface can simulate a desired texture, and often is formed to simulate a rock wall. The panels are then rigidly connected together. The system commonly employed to connect the panels together does not allow for variation in the set up of the panels. That is, the angle or orientation between panels cannot be varied. Nor can the orientation of a panel be changed. The panels for currently available climbing structures or walls only fit together in certain predetermined orientations. Additionally, connecting elements are visible in some climbing structures.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A climbing wall assembly or climbing structure made in accordance with the present invention comprises at least two adjacent climbing panels and at least three support posts. The climbing panels are mounted between the support posts and adjacent climbing panels share a common support post.

Each climbing panel comprises a front surface, a back surface, a first side surface and a second side surface. The front and back surfaces of the panels are configured to be climbed, and can, for example, have the appearance of a rock wall. A first of the two panels has a connecting element on at least its first side surface and a second of the two panels has a connecting element on its second side surface. The connecting elements of the panels defining an elongate tube which surrounds a support post. Preferably, the tube defined by the connecting elements surrounds substantially the entire above ground height of the support posts. The connection of the panels to the support posts enables two adjacent panels to be oriented relative to each other at a desired angle.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the connecting elements of the climbing panels comprise hinge members, there being at least one hinge member a connecting side of each panel. The hinge members of the adjacent panels are vertically offset from each other and axially aligned with each other when the panels are positioned adjacent each other, to form or define the elongate tube through which the support post extends. The tube defined by the hinge member, and through which the support post extends, has a diameter at the top and bottom thereof that is dimensioned to engage the support post, such that there will be a tight fit between the support post and the hinge member at the top and bottom thereof. The central portion of the tube defined by the hinge member has a diameter greater than the diameter of the support post.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the climbing wall or climbing structure can comprise three or more climbing panels. In this situation, the panels of the assembly comprise two end panels with the remainder of the panels being center panels. The end panels have the at least one hinge member along only one side thereof and the center panels have hinge members on both their first and second side surfaces. Hence, the end panels can be connected to only one other panel and the center panels can be connected to two other panels. To enable the end panels to be supported by two support posts, end panels include a vertically extending passage which is horizontally spaced from the hinge member of the panel. The end panel passage is sized and shaped to receive a support post.

In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, caps or closures are provided to close the openings at the top of the climbing structure formed by the end panel passages and the hinge members. A first cap is sized and shaped to close the opening formed by the end panel passages. A fastener extends through the cap and into a plate within the post to secure the cap to the post. A second cap includes a cap body sized and shaped to close the opening defined by the hinge member and a flange or finger which extends from the cap body across a gap between adjacent panels. At least one fastener is provided which extends through the cap body of the second cap into a plate in the support post. A second fastener can also extend through the cap flange into the adjacent panel.

The hinge member at the top of the climbing structure can have a recess formed its upper surface, and a recess can be formed in the upper surface of the adjacent panel at the edge of the panel adjacent the upper hinge member. The recesses are sized and shaped to receive the cap so that the cap will be substantially flush with the upper surface of the climbing structure.

In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the climbing structure includes a plurality of base members to which the support posts are mounted. Preferably the support posts are removably mounted to the base members. The base member includes a mounting post to which the support post is mounted. The mounting post can be a sleeve which receives the support post, or which is received in the support post. A fastener extends through the support post and the sleeve to secure the support post to the sleeve. The base member includes a plate which surrounds the mounting post above the fastener. In an assembled structure, the panel rests on the plate, such that the panel is supported above the level of the fastener.

In one embodiment, the base member comprises a pole which is set into ground. An upper portion of the pole defines the mounting post. In a second embodiment, the base member comprises a surface engaging plate, and the mounting post extends upwardly from the plate. A plurality of anchors extend through the base plate into surface upon which the plate sits.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a climbing structure incorporating the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a plurality panels connected together, the panels being shown flat;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view showing the interconnection of two panels, the panels being shown flat;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of an assembled climbing structure;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the climbing structure;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary vertical cross-sectional view taken along lines 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 6 a is an enlarged fragmentary top plan view taken about the circle 6 a of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary horizontal cross-sectional view taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 5 showing a second cap or closure of the climbing structure installed in the climbing structure;

FIG. 8 a is an enlarged fragmentary top plan view taken about the circle 8 a of FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 10 is a plan view of the climbing structure showing an alternate mounting system; and

FIG. 11 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 11-11 of FIG. 9.

Corresponding reference numerals will be used throughout the several figures of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following detailed description illustrates the invention by way of example and not by way of limitation. This description will clearly enable one skilled in the art to make and use the invention, and describes several embodiments, adaptations, variations, alternatives and uses of the invention, including what we presently believe is the best mode of carrying out the invention. Additionally, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangements of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

A climbing structure assembly 10 constructed in accordance with the present invention is shown generally in FIG. 1 and is shown schematically in FIGS. 2 and 3. The climbing structure comprises a series of panels 12 which are hingedly connected together and supported by support posts 50. The support posts, which can be made from metal, can be buried directly into the ground (in the same way as a fence post is), but preferably, the support posts are removably mounted to base members, and the base members are then fixed in place in the ground or in a surface. The use of the base member allows for the support posts to be removed; thereby allowing for replacement of individual panels without the need to disassemble a large portion, or even, the complete climbing structure assembly. The panels 12 are preferably made of a plastic, or other formable material. If made of a plastic, then the panels 12 can be rotomolded.

The climbing structure 10 actually comprises two types of panels—end panels 14 and center panels 16. Further, the end panels 14 can be classified as right end panels 14 a and left end panels 14 b. The panels 12 all comprise front and back surfaces 18, an upper surface 20, a bottom surface 21, a first side 22 and a second side 24. With reference to the figures, the first side 22 is the right side of the panel and the side 24 is the left side of the panel.

The panel front and back surfaces 18 have a desired configuration or shape. For example, the panel surfaces 18 can be configured to look like a rock wall. The surfaces 18 are provided with a plurality of foot and hand holds 26, enabling the structure 10 to be climbed. Foot and hand holds 26 are provided on both the front and back surfaces of the panels, and preferable, for each foot and hand hold 26 on the panel front surface; there is a corresponding foot and hand hold on the panel back surface. The corresponding or opposing hand and foot holds are connected together in such a way so as to increase the structural integrity of the panel. The manner in which the foot and hand holds are formed and how they are mounted to the panel are well known to those skilled in the art and are not described herein. As seen in FIG. 1, the various center panels 16 can have different surface configurations. Thus, holes or apertures 28 can be formed in the panels, and the aperture in one panel can be shaped differently and positioned differently than the aperture on another panel. A panel can be “solid”, i.e., be formed without apertures. The panels can have a raised bottom surface, to form an aperture at the bottom of the panel, as is shown in two of the panels of FIG. 1. Lastly, the various panels can be of different heights, although the sides of the panels preferably are all of the same length. As can be appreciated, to enable the structure to be climbed, the over all height of the wall can be several feet tall. For example, the top of the climbing structure can be ten or more feet above the surface of the ground cover GC surrounding the climbing structure. Further, as described below, the connecting elements allow for panels to be rotated about a horizontal axis and/or about a vertical axis. Thus, the end panels 14 are preferably identical to each other. The end panel 14 b is the panel 14 a, but rotated about both a horizontal and a vertical axis. In other examples, the panel of FIG. 1 having the central hole 28 could be rotated about a horizontal axis, such that the hole 28 is higher on the wall 10. The panels having the raised lower surface (forming a passage through the wall with the ground) can be rotated about a horizontal axis, such that the panel becomes, in essence, a short panel, for example, as seen in the right most center panel (with reference to FIG. 1). The ability to arrange the panels in any desired a way gives the designer great flexibility in designing a wall assembly.

Turning to FIGS. 2 and 3, both sides of the center panels 16 are connecting sides, to enable the center panels to be connected to two other panels. The end panels 14 a,b, on the other hand, have only one connecting side, and thus are adapted to be connected to only one other panel. The non-connecting sides of the two end panels are formed to a desired shape, for example, as seen in FIG. 1. The connecting sides of the panels mesh together and connect the panels to the support posts. With each center panel 16 having two connecting sides, each center panel will be connected to two support posts. Inasmuch as the end panels 14 have only one connecting side, the end panels are provided with vertical passages 30 which spaced from the end panel's connecting side to be closer to the non-connecting side of the end panel. This passage 30 is sized and shaped to receive a support post 50, thereby ensuring that the end panels 14 are supported by two posts 50.

The connecting sides of the center panels 16 comprise at least one connecting element, shown to be in the form of a hinge member 40 a along side 22 and at least one hinge member 40 b along side 24. The hinge members 40 a and 40 b are offset from each other, such that when the panels 16 are positioned adjacent each other, the hinge members from one panel will be axially aligned with the hinge member from the adjacent panel.

The connecting sides of the end panels are also provided with at least one connecting element, again, in the form of a hinge member. However, to enable the right and left end pieces to mate with the hinge members of the center panels, the right panel 14 a has hinge members 40 b along its left side 22 (with respect to FIG. 3) and the left end panel 14 b is provided with hinge members 40 a along its side 24.

As seen in the Figures, each panel is provided with two hinge members on their respective connecting sides, and the hinge members mesh together, such that the top of one hinge 40 b is adjacent the bottom of the hinge 40 a. Thus, in an assembled climbing structure 10, there will be substantially no gap between vertically adjacent hinges joints. Although the panels are shown to include two hinge members on each connecting side, the panels could be provided with only one hinge member on their respective connecting sides or three or more hinge members on their respective connecting sides. Preferably the hinge members 40 a,b are all of the same length

The hinge members 40 a,b of the center and end panels define tubes 41 having an inner surface 42 (FIGS. 6 and 7). Preferably, the inner surface 42 is generally circular in horizontal cross-section, and the tube defined by the hinge member would be generally cylindrical. However, the inner surface 42 could be faceted (i.e., define a polygon in horizontal cross-section). When two panels are positioned adjacent each other, and their respective hinge members 40 a,b are axially aligned, the hinge members of the two panels will, in combination, for an elongate tube extending the height of the climbing structure. The tubes 41 are formed, as seen in FIG. 6, such that at the top and bottom of each tube 41, the inner surface 42 is sized and shaped such that the inner surface 42 will form a tight fit with the support post. Along the center section of the tuber 42, however, the tube inner surface 41 is sized to be larger than the support post to form an annular gap between the tube 41 and the support post 50. Thus, if the support post and the inner surface 42 are both generally cylindrical, at the top and bottom of the tube 41, the tube inner surface 42 will have a diameter only slightly greater than the diameter of the post 50; however, the central portion of the tube surface 41 has a larger diameter, such that there will be at least a small spacing between the post and the inner surface of the tube 41.

As seen in FIG. 7 the side surfaces 22, 24 of the panels are shaped complementarily to the edge surface of the flanges 40 a,b to which they will be adjacent. As seen in FIG. 7, the side surface 22 defines an arc which corresponds to the arc of the flange edge or outer surface. Although shown as curved or arced surfaces, the respective surfaces could be multi-faceted.

The panel sections 12 are maintained in place by support posts 50. The posts 50 are sized and shaped to pass through the hinge members 40 a,b. As noted above, the hinge tubes 41 have inner diameters at the tops and bottoms thereof which form a tight fit about the support posts 50. This tight fit rigidly maintains the panel in place relative to the post, to substantially prevent movement of the panel in an assembled wall 10. The support posts 50 are preferably hollow and have outer surfaces shaped complimentarily to the inner surface 42 of the hinge members. As noted above, each panel 12 is supported by two support posts 50. The center panels 16 are mounted to the support posts which pass through the hinge members 40 a,b of the two connecting sides of the panels; and the end panels 14 a,b are mounted to a supporting post 50 which passes through the hinge members of its connecting side and to a support post 50 which passes through the end panel's passage 30.

As noted above, the hinge members of respective adjacent panels mesh together. Hence, the hinge members of adjacent panels for a continuous passage through which the support post 50 extends. Thus, the combined length of the hinge members 40 a,b from two adjacent and connected panels surrounds substantially the entire above ground length of the support post 50 (i.e., the length of the support post above any ground cover GC). That is, substantially no part of the support post is exposed, and a climber is presented with only the front and back surfaces of the climbing wall 10. This allows for the placement of more foot and hand holds 26 on the front and back surfaces 18 of the panels.

In positioning one panel 12 relative to another, the support post 50 will define a pivot point about which the panels 12 can pivot or rotate (during assembly). It will be understood that the panels will be fixed in place once the structure 10 is fully assembled. Hence, by providing a pivotal connection between adjacent panels, the orientation of one panel relative to another can be selectively designed. Further, because the end surfaces 22 a,b and the outer surface of the hinge member are shaped complimentarily to each other, the size of any gap between adjacent panels will not be affected by the angle formed by two panels, as occurs, for example, when two bodies having flat surfaces are rotated relative to each other.

The climbing structure is also provided with caps to close the upper end of the tube formed by the hinge members 40 a,b and the passage 30. A first cap 52 (FIGS. 8 and 8A) closes the passage 30 of the end panels 14 a,b. The cap 52 is essentially circular in shape and has a diameter greater than the outer diameter of the support post 50 and of the passage 30, so that the cap will fully close the passage 30. To maintain the cap 52 in place, the support post 50 is provided with a plate 54 spaced below the upper end of the post. The cap 52 and plate 54 are provided with aligned openings 56 and 58, respectively. At least the opening 58 in the plate 54 is threaded, and a threaded fastener 60 (such as a bolt or screw) extends through the cap 52 and into the plate 60. A washer 59 can be positioned between the head of the screw 60 and the upper surface 20 of the panel 14 b. It will be appreciated that the plate 54 can be a bar extending across a diameter of the support post 50 or a circular plate secured within the support post 50. Alternatively, the plate 54 could be a spider member comprising a nut which is suspended within the post 54 by a plurality of spokes extending between the nut and the post wall.

A second cap 62 (FIGS. 6 and 6A) serves to close the tube formed by the hinge members. The cap 62 includes a cap body 64 and a flange or finger 66 extending from the cap body. The cap body 64, like the first cap 52, is essentially circular in shape and has a diameter greater than the outer diameter tube 41 defined by the hinge member, so that the cap will fully close the hinge member tube. The cap body 64 has a central opening 68, and a fastener 70 extends through the cap body opening 68 into the opening 58 of the support post plate 54 to maintain the cap 62 in place. A washer 71 can be placed between the top of the fastener 70 and the upper surface of the hinge member. The flange or finger 66 extends from the flange body 64, as noted above, and across a junction 75 between adjacent panels to be received on the upper surface 20 of the adjacent panel 12. A second fastener 73 extends through the cap finger 66 into an opening 74 in the adjacent panel. As seen in FIG. 6A, there are two fasteners 73 which hold the finger 66 to the upper surface of the adjacent panel. The opening 74 can be threaded, and the fastener 73 can be a screw or a bolt.

The cap 62 is formed as a one-piece cap. However, the cap 62 could be replaced with two parts. A cap 52 could be used to close the hinge member tube, and a separate bridging element could be provided to close the gap between adjacent panels.

Although the caps 52 and 62 are described to be secured in place using fasteners or the like, the caps can be secured in place by other means as well. For example, the caps could each be provided with a collar that extends into the hinge tube or the passage 30 to frictionally hold the cap in place. Such a collar could frictionally engage either the inner surface of the hinge member (or end panel passage) or the inner surface of the support post.

The second cap 62 is received in a recess in the adjacent panel sections, so that the upper surface of the cap 62 is generally flush with the upper surface of the panel sections, as seen in FIG. 6. To this end, a first recess 74 is formed in the top surface of the hinge member 40 b, and a second recess 76 is formed in the adjacent panel 12. The recess 74 is defined by a step 74 a forming a surface at the end of the panel upper surface (i.e., above the hinge member) which is slightly lower than the remaining upper surface of the panel. Hence, the recess 74 extends the width of the panel and extends from the step 74 ato the end of the panel 12. The recess 76 is defined by a wall 76 a having a shape corresponding to the shape of the cap finger 66. Hence, the recess is sized and shaped to receive the cap finger 66. The surfaces of the respective recesses are substantially coplanar, and because the recesses are opened at the adjacent edges of the panel sections, the cap finger 66 can reach across the gap to be received in the recess 76.

The cap 52 is shown to rest on the upper surface of the end panels. (see FIG. 8). However, a recess could be provided in the end panel upper surface, so that the upper surface of the cap 52 would be generally flush with the upper surface of the end panel.

Lastly, to facilitate assembly (or disassembly), the climbing structure 10 is provided with base members to which the support posts are mounted. A first embodiment of a base member is shown in FIGS. 4 and 9 and is designed for an in-ground mount. The base member 80 includes a pole 84 which is set in the ground (in the same way a fence post is set in the ground). An upper portion of the pole 84 defines a mounting post 86. The mounting post 86 and pole 84 can be a continuous single member. The support posts 50 are mounted to the mounting posts 86. The mounting posts 84 preferably define a sleeve sized and shaped to receive the support post 50. For example, the support post 50 can be swaged or reduced in diameter at its end as seen in FIG. 9, so that it can be received in the mounting post 86. The mounting post 86 could, alternatively, have a reduced diameter portion sized to be received in the support post 50. The use of the reduced diameter portion of the support post allows for the support post 50 and the mounting post 86 to have essentially the same diameter. To further secure the support post 50 in the mounting post, a fastener 88 is provided which extends through the mounting post 86 and the support post 50. The fastener 88 can, for example, comprise a female bolt and a screw which is received in the bolt. Alternatively, the fastener can comprise a bolt and nut or a pin (such as a cotter pin). Any other type of fastener can be used to secure the support post 50 to the mounting post 84. A plate 90 is secured to the support post (as by welding) at a level above the fastener 88. In the assembled wall structure 10, the panels 12 will sit on the plates 90, as seen, for example, in FIGS. 4 and 10.

The second base member (FIGS. 10 and 11) is designed for a surface mount. The base member 80′ comprises a base plate 82′, a plurality of anchors 84′ and a mounting post 86′ which extends upwardly from the plate 84′. The anchors 84′ extend through openings in the base plate 82′ and into the surface (such as a cement surface). The upper ends of the anchors 84′ are threaded, and bolts 85 are threaded onto the anchors to hold the plate 82′ in place on the surface. As with the base member 80, the support post 50 is mounted to the mounting post 86′ of the base member 80′. The mounting post 86′ is formed identically to the mounting post 86 to receive the support post 50. Fasteners 88 extend through the support post 50 and mounting post 86′ to secure the support post 50 in place. As with the base member 80, the base member 80′ includes a plate 90 on the mounting sleeve 86′ above the level of the fastener 88.

Although the base member mounting posts 86, 86′ are described to be hollow sleeves which receive the support posts 50, the support posts could, alternatively slide over the mounting posts, such that the mounting posts extend internally of the support posts.

The various features of the climbing unit 10 give the unit several distinct advantages over currently available free standing climbing structures. Initially, the hinged connection of the panel sections to the support posts allows for the panel sections to be positioned relative to each other in virtually any desired angular orientation, over an arc of about 180. This ability to selectively position the panels relative to each other allows for greater freedom in the design and configuration of a climbing wall assembly from the various panels 12, and can allow for more efficient use of the space available for the climbing wall. Further, the placement of the hinge members 40 a,b also allows for the panels to be flipped or rotated about a horizontal axis, such that the top of the panel becomes the bottom of the panel. The panels can also be rotated about a vertical axis such that the right side of a panel can become the left side of a panel. This ability to change to manner or position in which the panel is installed in a wall assembly increases the freedom in designing the overall configuration of a wall assembly. In addition, because the hinge members 40 a,b and the end panel passages 30 enclose the support posts 50, the support posts are contained inside the plastic of the climbing structure. Hence, children climbing on the wall will only come into contact with plastic—they will not come into contact with the metal support post 50. Also, as noted above, by encasing the support posts, the number of foot and hand holds on the individual panels 12 can be increased. The caps 52 and 62 close the openings through which the support posts are passed. This reduces possible areas of entanglement.

As seen in FIGS. 9 and 11, the support posts are not embedded directly in the ground (or surface). Rather, the support posts are mounted to individual base members 80, 80′; there being one base member for each support post 50. Preferably, the support posts 50 are removably received in the base members 80 or 80′. Thus, the fastener 88 which secures the support post to the mounting post should be a fastener which can be removed, or otherwise allows for removal of the support post from the mounting post. The base member plates 90 support the panels above the fasteners 88, allowing access to the fasteners once the ground cover (GC) has been cleared away. Thus, should a panel 12 need to be replaced, the single panel 12 can be removed from the wall assembly, and a new panel can be inserted in its stead without the need to disassemble the complete climbing structure or a major portion of the climbing structure. All that would be required would be to remove the fasteners 88 from the two support posts of the panel in questions. The support posts can then be lifted out of the assembly, and the panel in question can then be removed. A new panel can then be inserted in its stead, and after the hinge members of the new panel are meshed and aligned with the hinge panels of the adjacent panel(s), the support posts can be lowered back down through the respective passages to be received back in the mounting post 86, 86′. The fasteners 88 are then replaced.

To assemble a climbing wall structure, the wall structure is first laid out in the area where the wall will be erected. With the proper location for the support posts 50 noted, the appropriate base members are put in place. If an in ground installation is to be used, then base members 80 are used. If a surface installation is to be used, then the base members 80′ are used. After the base members have been positioned and secured in place, the wall panels 12 can be put in place. The base member mounting post has a diameter generally equal to the diameter of the support post, hence the bottom hinge of the panel will slide over the base member mounting post 86, 86′. After two adjacent panels are positioned, with their hinge members aligned with each other and with a mounting post, the support post 50 for the two adjacent panels can be passed through the passage defined by the hinge members of the two panels to be received in the base member mounting post. A fastener 88 will then be inserted to secure the supporting post to the base member mounting post. The structure 10 can be assembled starting from one end and working towards the other, from the middle towards the ends, or in any other desired order. The supporting posts can be put in place as the wall is assembled (i.e., as panels are positioned), or all the panels can be positioned, and then the supporting walls can be put in place. Once the wall assembly has been constructed, the ground G ground cover GC is positioned about the climbing structure. The ground cover GC has a depth sufficient to cover base members and their fasteners 88, and most preferably extends at least from the ground G or surface S to the bottom 21 of the climbing structure, if not slightly above the bottom of the climbing structure. The ground cover can be any acceptable ground cover, such as shredded wood, shredded tires, pea gravel, etc.

As various changes could be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. Although the hinge members 40 a,b are shown to be approximately the same length, the hinge member 40 a can be longer or shorter than the hinge member 40 b, as long as the hinge members 40 a,b of two adjacent panels will mesh together for form a passage which will surround substantially the entire above ground length of the support post 50. This example is merely illustrative. The connecting elements could be reconfigured such that the wall panels “snap” together. In this instance, a “pin” would be formed into one set of the connecting members and a corresponding opening would be formed in the connecting members of the adjacent panel. The two panels would be “snapped” together and could pivot about the connection between the two panels. The caps 62 would then serve a greater role in connecting adjacent panels together. This would also require that the panels be further secured to a base. This example is merely illustrative.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7819778 *Feb 12, 2007Oct 26, 2010Everlast Climbing Industries, Inc.Safety mat securement assembly
US20140106938 *Mar 15, 2013Apr 17, 2014Everlast Climbing Industries, Inc.Climbing Walls
EP2613854A1 *Sep 6, 2011Jul 17, 2013Robert Charles William WaltonActivity system and method
Classifications
U.S. Classification482/37
International ClassificationA63B7/04, A63B9/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B9/00, A63B2071/024, A63B69/0048
European ClassificationA63B69/00M, A63B9/00
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