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Publication numberUS3496686 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 24, 1970
Filing dateNov 30, 1967
Priority dateNov 30, 1967
Publication numberUS 3496686 A, US 3496686A, US-A-3496686, US3496686 A, US3496686A
InventorsWalter W Bird
Original AssigneeBirdair Structures
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Weather-tight enclosure system
US 3496686 A
Abstract  available in
Images(3)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Feb. 24,1970 w. BIRD wEATfiER+TIGHT ENCLOSURE SYSTEM 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Nov. 30. 1967 .INVENTOR. WALTER. w. BIRD BY @wawgwwm ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,496,686 WEATHER-TIGHT ENCLOSURE SYSTEM Walter W. Bird, Williamsville, N.Y., assignor to Birdair Structures, Inc., Bufialo, N.Y. Filed Nov. 30, 1967, Ser. No. 686,939 Int. Cl. E04b 1/345 US. Cl. 52-2 7 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A weather-protection enclosure system particularly adapted, for example, to provide for comfortable yearround use of an outdoor swimming pool or the like in temperate or cool weather climate areas, comprising a sectionally formed shell-like structure which when assembled and ground-anchored is inflatable to provide an air-supported enclosure, and which when deflated and disassembled may be easily stored, away. Portions of the disassembled structure are adapted to provide a water-surface cover for the swim pool, or the like during non-use seasons. An air-inflatable pillow is furnished in combination therewith to span the water surface of the pool and to provide an upwardly convex support for a section of the enclosure structure which thereupon functions as a rain, snow and/ or debris shedding cover for the pool. The invention employs component interconnection devices facilitating conversion of the system parts from pool enclosure and/or pool covering and/ or stored-away conditions; whereby by way of example in the case of a typical private swim pool installation, the owner himself may quickly and easily perform the conversion operations with unskilled and minimum assistance, if any.

BRIEF SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Whereas various type enclosures have been previously used in connection with swim pools or the like, including air-supported shelters as disclosed for example in my earlier US. Patents 3,024,796; 2,509,655; 3,240,217; 3,247,- 627 and Design 183,113; the structures thereof were somewhat inconvenient with respect to any dismantling of such enclosure for store-away purposes during prolonged nonuse periods, and with respect to subsequent re-erection thereof. Also, due to the form and shape of the envelope material of such prior enclosure systems, they were not conveniently suitable for alternative use as water-surface safety or anti-freeze or dirt shedding cover devices.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved shelter device for play or work areas such as swim pools or the like, comprising; primarily, a sectionally constructed air-inflatable shell or envelope which may be easily unfolded from storage and then assembled and erected by one or more inexperienced persons to enclose the area for comfortable inclement weather use; and which may as easily be dismantled and disassembled and then packed away and stored in a small space when not needed, such as during a pleasant weather season or during a prolonged owner-absence, or the like.

It is another object of the invention to provide a shelter device as aforesaid wherein one of the air-supported shelter sectional components thereof is shaped and dimensioned so as to also function as an easily arranged water-surface cover when applied to a swim pool or the like; thereby rendering the pool safe as well as dirt-free, such as during a prolonged absence of the owner.

It is still another object of the invention to provide, in conjunction with the envelope structure as aforesaid, an optionally usable air-inflatable pillow device which is adapted to float upon the pool water surface; thereby "ice providing an anti-freeze insulator as well as a vertically convex support for the envelope component which operates as the pool cover sheet; whereby an improved dirt and rain-snow shedding cover system is provided.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a system as aforesaid wherein the inflatable envelope structure comprises a combination of separable components of improved forms having different strength, transparency, and/or other physical and structural characteristics; whereby the parts thereof may be easily handled and/or replaced or repaired as may be necessary.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following specification and the accompanying drawing; wherein:

THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of an inflated enclosure of the invention which by way of example is suitable for use as a weather-shelter for a commercial area, play area. swim pool, or the like;

FIG. 2 is a right-hand end view thereof;

FIGS. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 are enlarged scale fragmentary sectional views taken as suggested by lines 33, 44, 5-5, 6-6, and 7--7, respectively, of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a composite perspective view of two forms of hold-down clip devices, such as are used in connection with the erection and maintenance of the enclosure of the invention;

FIG. 9 illustrates the form of clip device which is shown as being used in FIGS. 4, 7, to hold the seam lap devices in place;

FIGS. 10, 11 are enlarged scale fragmentary sectional views taken as suggested by lines 1010 and 1111, respectively, of FIG. 1;

FIG. 12 is a vertical sectional view corresponding somevvhat to FIG. 2 but illustrating schematically a first step in conjunction with the use of an auxiliary pillow device When preparing the previously air-inflated enclosure structure to function as a dirt and rain-snow shedding cover for a swim pool or the like during off-season or ownerabsent periods;

FIG. 13 is a side elevational view of a structure as shown in FIG. 12 and illustrating diagrammatically the positional relationships of the enclosure envelope components when erected in area-covering position;

FIG. 14 corresponds to FIG. 12 but illustrates diagrammatically an intermediate stage in the dismantling of the swim pool enclosure, preliminary to a water-surface covering thereof; and

FIG. 15 corresponds to FIGS. 12, 14, but illustrates the cover component of the system as finally disposed in dirt and rain-snow shedding position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION As shown by way of example in the drawing herewith at FIGS. 1-11, inclusive, the invention may be embodied in an enclosure system comprising a pair of opposite side wall portions designated generally at --20; a roof section designated generally at 22; and a pair of shell-shaped end sections designated generally at 2424. It is to be understood that the sections 20-20, 22 and 24-24 are conveniently fabricated to comprise series of side-by-side connected panels 21, 23, 25, respectively, which are formed of any preferred type of flexible sheet material, having strength and wear-resistance and/or transparency characteristics, as may be preferred. Thus for example in the case of an enclosure designed specifically for swim pool coverage, the side panels 21 may be fabricated of substantially transparent plastic sheet material so as to transmit daylighting to the interior while protecting the occupants from cold air, wind, etc. The roof and end panels 22 and 2424 may be fabricated from a substan= tially opaque material in order to protect the occupants from the direct sun. The panels forming the structural portions 20-20, 22, and 2424 are of course precut to such shapes that when the parts are interconnected and the structure then inflated the panels cooperate to provide an air-inflated structure of the desired shape and dimensions as shown for example in FIGS. 1 and 2.

As illustrated at FIGS. 1, 5, the vertically endwise loadcarrying interconnections between the side panels 21 and the adjacent top panels of the structure are effected by means of snap hook devices as indicated at 26, which are carried by eye portions 28 extending upwardly from straps 30 which are heat-sealed or stitched or otherwise fixed to the panels 21. The hooks 26 are manually fitted in engagement with corresponding attach.- ment clips 32. which suspend from straps 34 which hang from the bottom edges of the top panel sheets 23; being stitched thereto as indicated at 36. The straps 30 are conveniently accommodated in vertically running pockets formed as indicated at 38 (FIG. 6) by heatsealing overlapped edges of adjacent panels 21 into the construction illustrated. The straps 34 in the roof structure may be heat-sealed between overlapped edges of adjacent roof panels, as shown in FIG. 11. The straps 30, 34, are of fabric webbing or any other suitable tensionresisting construction. Thus, the roof portion 22 may be readily connected along its bottom edges to the correspondingly positioned side wall portions 20--20.

To complete the air-sealing interconnections between the side [wall and roof portions of the structure a flange strip 40 (FIG. 5) is fixed to the bottom edge of the roof portion to depend therefrom interiorly of the enclosure and to carry one element of a zipper device as indicated at 42. The other element of the zipper device is fastened to extend along the upper edge of the corresponding side wall panel portions 21. Hence, the upper and lower edges of adjacent portions of the side wall and roof sections, respectively, may be zippered together in substantially air-tight connected relation. To relieve the zipper devices of excessive loadings between the positions of the connections as established by the hood devices 26 described hereinabove, the roof section is provided with a downwardly extending flange portion 44 which is provided at intervals therealong with grommets 46 to receive hook devices 50, the other ends of which engage grommet devices 52 carried by a flange structure 54 which is heat-sealed or otherwise attached to the upper edge of the side wall panels 21 as indicated at 56 (FIG. 5). A hook device 50 of the type shown in operation at FIG. 5 is better illustrated by means of a perspective view thereof at FIG. 9.

FIG. 3 illustrates how tabs 60 may be stitched or otherwise fastened to extend from the vertical side edges of the end shell panels 25 and the end side edges of the roof panels 23 for manual interconnection thereof, as shown in Patent 3,103,050, thereby holding the members in assembled relation as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. FIG. 4 illustrates how roped edges 62, bonded or sewn to the interconnecting edges of panels 21 and 25 may be used to join these members, the edge of panel 21 being designed to extend in under the adjacent roped edge strip 60 to effect a good air seal. FIG. 7 shows how the interlocking pegs and hook device is arranged at the overlapping corners of panels 21, 22 and 24. Alternatively, zipper-interconnected flange portions on the panels 21, 25 could of course be employed.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 8, 10, bottom seal flaps 66 are provided along the lower edges of the side wall structures and the straps 30 are provided at their bottom ends with tabs 68 threaded through eyelet portions 69 of hook members 70. As best shown at FIG. 8, the hook members 70 are angle-shaped and are formed with keyhole shaped apertures in the regions of their bends;

4 whereby the hooks may be initially slip-fitted at their larger apertured portions around the heads 74 of anchor screws 75 which are buried at their lower ends in the cement of the base structure over which the enclosure is being erected. The device is then slid sidewise and rotated up into the position shown in FIG. 10, whereupon it will be seen that the hook device holds the lower end of the tension tape 30 down when the envelope is inflated. Thus the inflation loads are carried by the straps, and the flaps 66 are free to function only as airseals. As shown at FIGS. 1 and 2, the bottom edges of the end shell panels 25 are preferably provided with catenary shaped tension members 76 which carry at intervals therealong hook devices as illustrated at 76 (FIG. 8) for anchoring the end shells to the base.

As indicated at 78 (FIGS. 1, 2) doorway arrangements may be provided at either or both ends (or at either side) of the enclosure; the details of construction thereof being no part of the present invention. The side portions of the fabrication may preferably be formed of clear vinyl plastic sheeting for daylightt inlet effects; while the main wall and framing portions of the structure may be made of more durable vinyl-nylon sheeting or the like, for long life and structural strength purposes. The tension straps and hook tabs referred to hereinabove are preferably formed of nylon, Dacron yarn webbing, or the like, for maximum strength and durability.

FIGS. 12-15 illustrate diagrammatically the functional correlation of the major components of the system when applied for example to a swimming pool such as is illustrated generally at 80. Specifically, FIGS. 12 and 13 illustrate how the structural components cooperate when the structure is inflated to provide a loaf-shaped enclosure for the swimming pool, providing ample head room and walking-lounging space around the swimming pool to accommodate the users, while being completely protected from the outside weather. The device provides a rugged and safe enclosure which is merely anchored around its perimeter to the ground or to the concrete edging of the swim pool or the like, by such means as the submerged anchor screws 75 referred to hereinabove. Inflation of the structure as by means of a blower 82 (FIG. 1), as explained in the aforesaid earlier patents, requires less than half an hour; and the inflation system then maintains the enclosure erect without interior obstructing supports. Thus the enclosure is held firmly erect, even against gale winds, simply by means of the unnoticeable inside air pressure.

As explained hereinabove, it is a particular feature of the system of the invention that whenever it is desired to dismantle and store away parts of the swim pool enclosure (while using parts thereof for pool cover purposes) the operation may be easily performed by do it yourself personnel, such as the owner and/or his family. First, the air pump supplying the inflation system is shut down. As the enclosure slowly deflates the zipper hook devices are disconnected, and the side panels 20-- 20 and the end sections 2424 are manually guided to lie down away from the pool while the roof section 22 is guided to settle flatwise across the area of the pool, thereby providing a cover therefor. This pool cover sheet may then be fixed in position around its perimeter by the keyhole shaped clips 32 (FIGS. 5, 8) engaging the holddown screws 75. The side panels 2020 and the end panels 2424, being all of thin and lightweight flexible material, are then of course readily rolled or folded into compact bundles and put away in storage.

To re-erect the structure the side panels and the end sections are simply brought out again and laid flatwise around the pool, and then hooked and zippered into connection again with the roof panel 22. The hold-down devices are connected to their anchors, and the air pump is then turned on. As the structure slowly inflates, the structure assumes the enclosure shape as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 12, 13.

As illustrated at FIGS. 12-15, an optionally provided inflatable pillow designated 85 may be employed when dismantling the enclosure in order to provide an improved dirt and 'rain and snow shedding cover for the pool when it is not to be used. The casing 85 may be formed of any suitable plastic sheet material in the form of a bladder adapted to be inflated through a simple check valve device, as by coupling it to a household vacuum cleaner or the like. The bladder 85 in deflated form is brought through the enclosure doorway and then draped across the water surface of the pool. It is then inflated until it assumes a sectional form such as shown for example at FIG. 12. The enclosure system is then allowed to deflate and the side wall and end shell sections disconnected as explained hereinabove, thus permitting the roof section 22 to settle down as shown in FIG. 14 until it rests in convex supported relation on the pillow 85 as illustrated at FIG. 15. Thus, it will be appreciated that a superior support for the pool cover member 22 is provided; the member 22 being fabricated of relatively tough and durable material, whereby the pillow 85 may be fabricated of relatively fragile and inexpensive material.

i What I claim as my invention is:

I 1. A weather-protection enclosure system particularly adapted for example to provide an enclosure to permit comfortable year-round use of an outdoor swimming pool or the like in temperate or cool weather areas, said system comprising in combination:

an air-supported enclosure defined by removably interconnected side wall and end sections and a roof section all fabricated of flexible and substantially airtight sheet material, at least said side wall sections and said roof section being reinforced by tension members carried thereby and arranged transversely of adjacent marginal edge portions of said side wall and roof sections, said marginal edge portions being disposed in overlapping relationship; said side wall tension members running vertically at intervals along said side wall sections, said roof section tension members following the vertical contour of and being disposed at intervals along said roof section in alignment with said side wall tension members; interconnecting means adapted to manual operation for removably interconnecting said sections, said interconnecting means including tension transmitting means and air sealing devices, said tension transmitting means beig adapted to removably interconnect said roof section tension members to said side wall tension members such as to carry substantially all loadings between said roof and side wall sections, said air sealing devices being disposed between said overlapped marginal edge portions;

ground-anchoring means, said ground-anchoring means being adapted to releasably ground-anchor said end sections and at least said tension members of said side wall sections, said roof section being dimen-' sioned so as to span the plan-view extent of said swimming pool or the like when lying fiatwise thereover, whereby when said roof section is disconnected from said end and side wall sections and laid flatwise as aforesaid, said roof section may be groundanchored to provide a surface cover for said swimming pool or the like.

2. A weather-protection enclosure system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said Side wall sections are formed of substantially transparent film-like material and provided with vertically running pockets adapted to receive said side wall tension members.

3. A Weather-protection enclosure system as set forth in claim 1, wherein said system further includes in combination an air inflatable pillow device of plan form dimensions substantially coextensive with the plan form dimensions of said roof section when flattened, and said pillow device is adapted to be disposed under said roof section when flattened for vertical support thereof when said roof section is disposed fiatwise across said swimming pool or the like.

4. A weather-protection enclosure system as set forth in claim 1, wherein said side wall tension members carrying adjacent one end therof first means attachable to said ground-anchoring means, and said tension transmitting means including second means carried by other ends of said side wall tension members and third means carried adjacent the ends of said roof section tension members, said third means being attachable selectively to said second means to interconnect said side wall and roof sections and to said ground-anchoring means to position said roof section as a surface cover for said swimming pool or the like as aforesaid.

5. A weather-protection enclosure system as set forth in claim 4, wherein said first and third means are clip devices and said second means are hook devices.

6. A weather-protection enclosure system particularly adapted for example to provide an enclosure to permit comfortable year-round use of an outdoor swimming pool or the like in temperate or cool weather areas, said system comprising in combination:

an air-supported enclosure defined by removably interconnected side wall and end wall sections and a roof section all fabricated of flexible and substantially airtight sheet material, at least said side wall sections and said roof section being reinforced by tension members carried thereby and arranged transversely thereof adjacent marginal edge portions of said side wall and roof sections, said side wall tension members running vertically at intervals along said side wall sections, said roof section tension members following the vertical contour of and being disposed at intervals along said roof section in alignment with said side wall tension members;

means to releasably ground-anchor said end sections and at least said tension members of said side wall sections; and

interconnecting means adapted to manual operation for removably interconnecting said sections, said interconnecting means including tension transmitting means adapted to removably interconnect said roof tension members to said side wall tension members such as to carry substantially all loadings between said roof and side wall sections, and air seal devices disposed along said adjacent marginal edge portions, said tension transmitting means being arranged interiorly of said enclosure with respect to said air seal devices, said roof section being dimensioned so as to span the plan view extent of said swimming pool or the like when lying flatwise thereover, and at least said means interconnecting said tension members of said side wall and roof sections including means adapted to cooperate with said side wall tension member ground-anchoring means such that when said roof section is disconnected from said end and side wall sections and laid fiatwise as aforesaid, said tension members of said roof section may be ground-anchored to position said roof section as a surface cover for said swimming pool or the like.

7. A weather-protection enclosure system as set forth in claim 6, wherein said side wall tension members carry adjacent one end thereof first clip means attachable to said ground-anchoring means, and said tension transmitting means includes hook means carried by other ends of said side wall tension members and second clip means carried adjacent the ends of said roof section tension members, said second clip means being attachable selectively to said hook means to interconnect said side wall and roof sections and to said side wall tension member ground-anchoring means to position said roof section as a surface cover for a swimming pool or the like as aforesaid.

(References on following page) 7 References Cited 3,240,217

UNITED STATES PATENTS 3/1929 Leffert 135- 1 X 1 5 4/1959 Kwake 522 X 2/1960 Cline 522 X 3/1962 Bird 522 10/1962 Bird 522 9/1963 Reitmeier 24 203 9/1964 Bird et a1. 52-2 11/1964 Knodel 135 1 X 10 8 Bird et a1. 522 X Bird 522 Kwake Q 522 Koehler.

5 FRANK L. ABBOTT, Primary Examiner SAM D. BURKE, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3638368 *Mar 9, 1970Feb 1, 1972Environmental Structures IncInflatable shelter and method of erection
US3816885 *Feb 3, 1972Jun 18, 1974Saether KMechanical joining of flexible sheet material to connecting and supporting corelines, for large panel uses
US3834167 *Dec 6, 1972Sep 10, 1974Imbertson N & Ass IncCollapsible dam and damming method
US3857209 *Nov 2, 1973Dec 31, 1974Goodyear Tire & RubberInflatable shelter and flexible wall therefor
US3953955 *Nov 13, 1974May 4, 1976Tension Structures Co.Erection method for a vaulted membrane structure
US3958588 *Jun 21, 1974May 25, 1976Tension Structures Co.Erection method for vaulted pavilion
US3961638 *May 23, 1974Jun 8, 1976Tension Structures Co.Vaulted membrane shelter
US3968808 *Nov 6, 1974Jul 13, 1976Zeigler Theodore RichardCollapsible self-supporting structure
US3975915 *Oct 23, 1974Aug 24, 1976The Firestone Tire & Rubber CompanyAnchor assembly for an inflatable fabric dam
US4034772 *Jul 21, 1975Jul 12, 1977Tension Structures Co.Vaulted membrane shelter
US4096669 *Jul 6, 1977Jun 27, 1978Seaman CorporationMembrane building segment connection
US4183184 *Aug 18, 1978Jan 15, 1980Clarence SargentAir-supported shelter system
US4210191 *Jun 30, 1978Jul 1, 1980Li Yao TFilm-type storm window
US4404980 *Sep 30, 1980Sep 20, 1983James NemecArched support structure with cover
US4991363 *Sep 7, 1989Feb 12, 1991Rein RandmaePortable protective enclosure for a vehicle
US5125205 *Jul 5, 1991Jun 30, 1992William John WichmanDisplay frame with folding display attachment devices
US5444946 *Nov 24, 1993Aug 29, 1995World Shelters, Inc.Portable shelter assemblies
US5651633 *Apr 20, 1995Jul 29, 1997Howe; Robert H.Tent pole fastener comprising clip and attached flexible tie
US7823600 *Feb 21, 2003Nov 2, 2010The North Face Apparel Corp.Waterproof system for attaching an anchor member to a portion of a tent and related method
US20030178055 *Feb 21, 2003Sep 25, 2003Thomas LaaksoWaterproof system for attaching an anchor member to a portion of a tent and related method
US20120090655 *Mar 31, 2010Apr 19, 2012Gunnar StrandSupport profile
USD739555 *May 12, 2014Sep 22, 2015Rob McAlister LimitedFolding structure for storage, shelter, and plant growing
USD756530 *Aug 27, 2015May 17, 2016Rob Mccalister LimitedFolding structure for storage, shelter, and plant growing
USD774208 *Nov 13, 2014Dec 13, 2016Kt-Shelter OyShelter
WO1981000872A1 *Sep 28, 1979Apr 2, 1981C SargentAir-supported shelter system
Classifications
U.S. Classification52/2.25, D25/19, D25/2, 135/906, 135/97, 135/118, 135/119
International ClassificationE04H3/16, E04H15/22
Cooperative ClassificationE04H3/16, Y10S135/906, E04H15/22
European ClassificationE04H3/16, E04H15/22