US 3292506 A
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Dec. 20, 1966 E. H. KONE ROAD MARKER Filed Jan. 27. 1964 NVENTOR. EZZZ'OZZ ff [K0176 B "7 I I'm 60 76 mga 0 United States Patent 3,32,596 ROAD MARKER I Elliott H. Kone, New Haven, Conn, assignor to Traiiic Standard Incorporated, New Haven, Conn., a corporation of Connecticut Filed Jan. 27, 1964, Ser. No. 340,436 3 Claims. (Cl. 94-15) This invention relates to road markers in general, and to road markers of light-reflective type in particular.
Reflective road markers along designated trafiic lanes are highly desirable and preferable to the usual painted dividing lines on most roads, not only because such markers act like unmistakable light beacons in the dark and are clearly visible to a driver over a considerably greaterdistance than the usual white or yellow traffic lines, but also because they will function properly in many instances where traflic lines are spotted by a driver only with difliculty, or not at all, as on wet or foggy roads, or on newly plowed roads, or in the light glare from oncoming automobiles, for example. Yet, even though quite a few reflective road markers are known, none of them are in use according to best information received, the reason therefor being that the prior markers are all too readily damaged or destroyed by wheels of fast-moving automotive vehicles passing over them occasionally, and especially by the heavy blades of snowplowing vehicles.
It is an object .of the present invention to provide a heavy-duty road marker of reflective type which may be passed over not only by wheels of fast-moving automobiles, but also by the heavy blades of the fastest and most powerful snow-plowing vehicles, without sustaining damage or even appreciable wear for the longest time.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a heavy-duty road marker of this type which safely withstands for the longest time even the most severe wear and tear to which roads are subjected by vehicular trafiic thereon under all conditions, including snowplowing by heavy vehicles, by arranging all but the wellshielded reflecting lens of the marker safely below road level, and making provisions for ready yieldability of the lens out of the path of any vehicle passing thereover with one or more of its wheels or with its heavy blade in case of a snow-plowing vehicle.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a heavy-duty road marker of this type of which theaforementioned provisions for ready yieldability of the reflecting lens have a relatively high degree of resiliency in all directions so as to give quite readily in anyone or more directions in which the lens will give way to any passing wheel or snow blade on the least impact force therefrom, with the shielded lens being, moreover, shaped over the extent of its normal protrusion above road level like a frusto-cone of small slant angle which is highly conducive to ready cam-like yielding of the lens to a passing wheel or snow blade with minimum impact force therefrom.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a heavy-duty road marker of this type in which the shielded lens is over its aforementioned frusto-conical extent above road level and therebelow of quite considerable diameter to afford relatively large light-reflecting areas that are eflec-tive from a relatively large distance, and the shielded lens is for its ready yieldability suspended centrally on an even much larger resilient, but normally substantially non-stretched, diaphragm which is anchored with its outer circumferential margin to the top of the rim of a cup-like mounting base emedded in the road, with the shielded lens being preferably further seated and centered on a normally substantially non-loaded compression spring in the base. With this arrangement, the large diaphragm can be made advantageously of a tough and weather-resistant elastomer of non-tearing thickness, such as neoprene sheet, for example, and nevertheless have adequate stretch resiliency in all directions, including in its plane, to stretch readily and fully to whatever extent is required by the shielded lens to give Way to a wheel or snow blade passing at even high speed with the least jar to the shielded lens and its mount which in any event is way below possible damaging magnitude. Further, the preferred additional seating and centering of the diaphragm on the normally non-loaded compression spring makes not only for firm positioning of the lens in light-reflecting relation to oncoming vehicles without subjecting its resilient mount to more than entirely negligible stresses, but makes also for quick and assured recovery of this resilient mount and, hence, return of the lens to proper reflecting position after each yield under a passing wheel or snow blade.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a heavy-duty road marker of this type in which the lens-carrying diaphragm is kept below road level in order to be spared much of the wear and tear to which roads are subjected by vehicular trafiic thereon under all conditions, including snow-plowing by heavy vehicles, with the diaphragm being within its peripheral mount on the aforementioned cup-like base exposed to the road thereabove over an area within which the protected lens is safely confined on any yield thereof under a passing wheel or snow blade.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a heavy-duty road marker of this type which functions also in daylight, and hence without light reflection, much like the usual painted trafiic lines in indicating trafic lanes to drivers, by arranging the lens-carrying diaphragm a quite considerable distance below the road level, and clamping an outer peripheral margin of the large-size diaphragm to the cup-like base by a ring which preferably extends up to the road level and is of sufficiently large inner crosssectional dimension to leave by far the greater part of the diaphragm exposed to the road thereabove, whereby the road marker appears to drivers in daylight far more like a good-size hole in the road than a reflective marker. Road markers thus spaced apart even at maximum distance for light reflection at night adequate for unmistakable lane outline, have the same unmistakable lane outline effect in daylight owing to instinctive eflorts of by far the greater number of drivers to avoid passing over road hazards such as holes, even if apparently man-made, particularly if such holes compare in size to the Width of automobile wheels.
Other objects and advantages will appear to those skilled in the art from the following, considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
In the accompanying drawings, in which certain modes of carrying out the present invention are shown for illustrative purposes:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of an installed road marker of reflective type embodying the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a section through the road marker take-n substantially on the line 2--2 of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a section similar to FIG. 2, but showing the road marker under a difierent condition.
Referring to the drawings, the reference numeral 10 designates a road marker which comprises as its major components a lens unit 12, a mounting base 14, and a resilient mounts 16 for the lens unit 12 on the base 14.
The base 14 is essentially a substantially cylindrical member with a peripheral wall and open top about an axis x. In the present example, the base 14 is preferably a casting of general cup-shape having a bottom 18 and an annular rim 20 with an outward flange 22 at its open top. The base 14 is mountedin a prepared hole H in the road bed B below road level L, preferably through intermediation of a suitable filler F, such as concrete or an epoxy resin, for example, in which the base 14 is embedded. The rim 20 of the base 14 is in this instance somewhat tapered and additionally provided with a multitude of narrow peripheral shoulders 24 for enhanced seating area of the base in the road bed, with the major seating area of the base being provided by the bottom 18 thereof which is preferably flared downwardly toward an aperture 26 for drainage of any liquid that may possibly leak into the interior of the base.
The resilient mount 16 for the lens unit 12 has for its most essential element a resiliently stretchable diaphgram 28 of a tough and weather-resistant elastomer of nontearing thickness, such as neoprene sheet, for example. The diaphgram 28, which in this instance is of ring-shape, is with an outer peripheral margin 30 thereof clamped to the top flange 22 of the base 14 by a ring 32 which by screws and nuts 34, 36 is mounted on the base 14, with the screws 34 being with their heads 38 received in grooves 40 in the ring 32 so as not to project above the top face 42 of the latter which preferably is substantially at the road level L. The outer peripheral margin 30 of the diaphragm 28 is further provided with an annular bead formation 44 which is received in an annular recess 46 in the top flange 22 of the base 14 and thus additionally locks the. dia-phgram to the base. The lens unit 12 is mounted on an inner peripheral margin 48 of the diaphr-agm 28 in a manner described hereinafter.
The resilient mount 16 for the lens unit 12 includes in this instance also a spring 50 of exemplary compression type which is interposed between the base bottom 18 and the lens unit 12,. with the lower end of this spring being received in a seat 52 defined on the base bottom 18 r by an annular ridge 54 which is grooved at 56 at spaced intervals to permit any trapped liquid in the interior of the base to escape through the aperture 26.
The lens unit 12 comprises a light-reflecting lens 58, and a lens-enclosing shield 60 of complemental sections 62 and 64 of which the top section 62 has a substantially cylindrical body 66 with a flared, and in this instance frusto-conical, top end 68. The lens 58 is in this instance generally frusto-conical the same as the top end 68 of the shield section 62 and substantially form-fits the same, and the lens is retained in the shield section 62 by an annular shoulder 70 therein with which it is snapped into seating engagement, the lens being to this end formed of a suitable plastic of slight resiliency. The lens-58 is, after its forced entry into the shield section 62, reenforced by a spider 72 having a hub 74 which fits over a central shank 76 of the shield section 62. The lens unit 12 is mounted on the diaphgram 28 coaxially with the base 14 by having the inner peripheral diaphgrar'n margin 48 interposed between and clamped to the shield sections 62 and 64, with the shield section 64 receiving to this end a screw 78 which is threaded into the shank 76 of the other shield section 62. For a still firmer mount of the lens unit 12 on the diaphgram 28, the inner peripheral margin 48 of the diaphgramhas an annular rib formation 80 which projects into, and hence. is locked to, an annular recess 82 in the shield section 62. The shield section 64 is dished at 84 to serve also as a retainer for the compression spring 50 so that the latter cooperates with the diaphgram 28 in normally centering the lens unit 12 on the axis x.
To admit light from the headlights of an oncoming automotive vehicle to the lens 58, and by the same'token permit reflected light from the lens to pass to the operator of the vehicle, the shield 60 is provided with a plurality of windows 86 which in this instance are angularly spaced, sector-like openings in the frusto-conical top end 4 68 of the shield section 62, with the lens being provided preferably in its inner surface 88 with suitable lightreflecting depressions 90. These depressions 90, which for the sake of simplicity are shown as simple V-grooves.
but may assume any other known configuration, have their surf-aces disposed at correct light-reflecting angles. The inner lens surface 88 is in this example hexagonal in cross-section at least over the extent of the depressions 90 therein, with each side thereof being in alignment with, a shield window 86. In further accord with the exemplary hexagonal cross-section of the inner lens surface, 88, the shield windows 86 preferably number six and are eqni-angularly spaced from each other, with these windows being of optimum area consistent with adequate structural strength of the shield. The shield section 62 may be of any suitable wear and weather resistant material of considerable strength, such as tough moldable plastic, for example, while the other shield section 64 may convenientlybe blanked from plate metal stock.
The present road marker is designed for reliable heavy duty performance for the longest time under all, includ: ing the severest, tralfic, weather and other conditions, including snow-plowing with the scraper blades of the heaviest and fastest vehicles. To this end, the lens unit 12 must readily give way to a vehicle wheel or snow blade passing thereover no matter at what speed, and must thus give way in any and all directions in which it will be least jarred. This is achieved to a large extent by proper dimensioning of the major components of the road marker and proper resiliency of the lens mount on the base 14.
Insofar as proper dimensioning of the major components of the road marker is concerned, reference is had to the drawings which show the exact relative dimensions of all the components of one exemplary road marker that withstood tests under very severe conditions entirely satisfactory. Thus, it will be noted from the drawings that the cross-sectional dimension of the base 14 is in any event quite large in comparison to the cross-sectional di- 'mension of the lens unit 12, meaning that the area of the wherefore the impact force of a wheel or snow blade against the lens unit over which it passes even at top speed is at a safe minimum and in any event way below damaging magnitude, with the lens unit even responding to a passing wheel or snow blade with a pronounced camming action which does not overly jar the lens unit. Nevertheless, the jars to the lens unit from passing wheels and snow blades, while never becoming excessive and, hence, destructive in magnitude, must be absorbed instantly and fully by the resilient mount 16 of the lens unit on the base 14. This means that the diaphragm 28, in order safely to absorb these jars, must have considerable freedom to stretch in directions, including in its plane, and in addition to axially. of the marker. This is achieved by the already mentioned large free stretch area of the diaphragm 28, coupled with the arrangement of the diaphragm so that it is normally substantially nonstretched, but owing to its reasonably small thickness at which it is normally substantially self-deformable, is kept just sufiiciently taut for its substantially planar disposition (FIG. 2) in which it is assisted by the spring 50 which, however, is preferably also normally substantially.
non-loaded. The resiliency of the diaphragm is further kept high by selection of its elastomer material which has entirely adequate tear resistance at reasonably small thickness, such as neoprene sheet, for instance, which, moreover is exceedingly tough and highly wear and weather resistant. Of course, while the diaphragm 28 and spring 50 are normally preferably substantially non-loaded as described, they combine firmly to fix the high-weight lens unit 12 in its normal position (FIG. 2), as will be readily understood.
FIG. 3 demonstrates a typical reaction of the present road marker to perhaps the most severe condition to which it may be subjected, namely, the passage thereover of a heavy blade b of a vehicle at top speed for removing snow S from the road. Thus, it will be noted that the impact force from the blade b transmitted to the lens unit 12 and the ensuing relatively slight jar to the latter compel the diaphragm 28 to stretch as shown and the spring 50 to be deflected also as shown, with much of the deflection of both, the diaphragm and spring, being in directions other than purely axial, though the overall axial deflection of the diaphragm and spring is suflicient to admit the lens unit within the axial confines of the base 14 and ring 32 thereon for clearing the passing blade 1). Of course, the diaphragm 28 and spring 50 will have sufiicient resilient force to recover and return the lens unit to its normal position immediately after passage of the blade b.
The specific road marker shown in the drawings thus serves as a good example of a marker of the present invention which by the illustrated arrangement and coordination of its components has the featured performance and action described, including a long useful life under the most trying conditions. In a broader sense, this specific road marker demonstrates some basic dimensional relations of the structure involved in achieving the featured performance and action which will serve as a general guide in securing the same performance and action for road markers which in the specific dimensional relations of their components may differ quite considerably from those of the specific marker shown. Thus, the diaphragm is between its outer clamping ring and the lens unit of a width w (FIG. 1) which is only several times smaller than the cross-sectional dimension, i.e., diameter d, of the lens unit, and the diaphragm is over this width w free to be stretched in any direction to an extent limited only by engagement of the lens unit with the mounting base. Further, the outer diaphragm-clamping ring is of a thickness to receive within it an axial part of the flared, i.e., frusto-conical, top end of the lens unit nearest its cylindrical part. In relation to the diaphragm the outer clamping ring is of a thickness which is only several times smaller than the described width w of the diaphragm. Also, the frusto-conical top end of the lens unit has a slant angle of less than 45, and this top end normally projects above the outer clamping ring for a distance less than twice the thickness of this ring.
In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the present road marker is made of greater than usual size, partly because the same can be constructed with optimum strength and ruggedness and also smoothest action within this large size, but also for the even more important reason of lending the road marker characteristics whereby the same also serves, much like the usual painted traflic line-s, in indicating traffic lanes to drivers in daylight and, hence, without light reflection. To this end, the road marker is dimensioned sufficiently large to appear to drivers in daylight far more like a good-size hole in the road than a reflective marker, which is achieved by arranging, within the described general dimensional relations of the major marker components, the outer diaphragm clamping ring at an inside diameter substantially like the average width of passenger automobile tires. With road markers of this comparatively large size being spaced apart on roads even at maximum distance for light reflection at night adequate for unmistakable l-ane outline, they have the same unmistakable lane outline effect in daylight owing to instinctive efforts of by far the greater number of drivers to avoid passing over road hazards such as holes, even if apparently manmade, particularly if such holes compare in size to the width of automobile wheels. This has, of course, the further advantage that the road markers will be passed over by automobiles, other than snow-plowing vehicles, only infrequently, and then only mostly with hesitation on the part of the drivers, which naturally adds to the useful life of the markers, though passage of automobile tires over these markers has no real adverse etfect on either.
To demonstrate the relation of the inner diameter of the outer diaphragm-clamping ring to the width of automobile tires, it may be mentioned, by way of example only and not in any limiting sense, that an actual road marker of the exact relative dimensions of its components as shown in the drawings has an outer diaphragm-clamping ring of an inner diameter of 6%.
The invention may be carried out in other specific ways than those herein set forth without departing from the spirit and essential characteristics of the invention, and the present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, and all changes coming within the meaning and equivalency range of the appended claims are intended to be embraced therein.
What is claimed is:
1. A light-reflective road marker, comprising a lightreflecting lens; a protective shield enclosing said lens and having a body with a flared top end provided with angularly spaced windows through which to pass light to and from said lens; a cup-shaped mounting base having a center axis, a closed bottom, an open top and a peripheral rim about said axis of an inner diameter comparable to the average width of passenger automobile tires; a resiliently stretchable diaphragm having mounted thereon said shield body; a ring clamping an outer peripheral margin of said diaphragm to said base top so that said shield is centered on said axis and said shield top end faces away from said base, with said diaphragm being of a thickness to be normally self-deformable but being sufiiciently taut to be normally substantially planar and the mean cross-sectional dimension of said shield body being only several times larger than the exposed width of said diaphragm between said base top end and shield body, said ring being of a thickness to receive therein an axial part of said shield top end nearest said shield body, so that the remaining part of said shield top end normally projects outwardly beyond said ring, said cup-shaped base being of greater depth than the dimension of said shield in the direction of said axis, and said diaphragm being free to be flexed and stretched in any direction to an extent limited only by engagement of said shield with said base; and a normally substantially non-loaded compression spring in said base on which said shield is seated.
2. A light-reflective road marker as set forth in claim 1, in which said shield top end is a frusto-cone of a slant angle of less than 45, and said lens is also a frusto-cone in form fit with said shield top end and having in its inner surface light-reflecting depressions in register with said windows.
3. A light-reflective road marker as set forth in claim 2, in which said windows are equi-angularly spaced and six in number and of sector-like outline centered on said axis, and said inner lens surface is hexagonal in crosssection with each flat side thereof aligned with a window.
References (Jited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,073,968 3/1937 Krebs 94-l.5 2,192,878 3/1940 Beebe 94--1.5 2,224,554 12/1940 Stedmfan 941.5 2,941,447 6/1960 Abbott 941.5X 3,093,038 6/1963 McRobbie 94-1.5
CHARLES E. OCONNELL, Primary Examiner.
N. C. BYERS, Assistant Examiner.