US 3662956 A
An improved sprinkler protector comprises a rigid, self-supporting body having an upper recess to wholly enclose a sprinkler head, a transverse lower aperture to enclose a sprinkler connector and a small diameter central standpipe passageway interconnecting the recess and aperture. Detent means are provided in the area of the recess to prevent substantial depression of the sprinkler head and rupture of the sprinkler system adjacent the connector. Reinforcing means and anchoring means for the protector body may also be provided.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Hedman [151 3,662,956 [451 May 16, 1972  SPRINKLER PROTECTOR  Inventor; Ernest L. Hedrnan, 3414 Culver Street, Bakersfield, Calif. 93306  Filed: Aug. 6, 1970  Appl.No.: 61,728
 U.S. Cl ..239/201, 239/288.5  Int. Cl ..B05b 15/06  Field of Search ..239/200, 201, 204, 276, 288,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 7/1965 Hanson ..239/201X 2/1962 Nickell ..239/201X 3,018,057 1/1962 Anderson ..239/20l 3,015,448 1/1962 Hurless ..239/201 Primary Examiner-M. Henson Wood, .lr. Assistant Examiner-Michael Y. Mar Attorney-Henry M. Bissell  ABSTRACT An improved sprinkler protector comprises a rigid, self-supporting body having an upper recess to wholly enclose a sprinkler head, a transverse lower aperture to enclose a sprinkler connector and a small diameter central standpipe passageway interconnecting the recess and aperture. Detent means are provided in the area of the recess to prevent substantial depression of the sprinkler head and rupture of the sprinkler system adjacent the connector. Reinforcing means and anchoring means for the protector body may also be provided.
10 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to lawn sprinkling systems of the underground conduit, flush sprinkler head type and, more particularly, to protectors for such systems.
2. Description of the Prior Art Various devices have been designed to enclose fluid sprinkler heads, such as lawn water sprinkler heads, to prevent damage thereto by striking them inadvertently with the foot or with a lawn mower or the like. Such devices as are known usually are embedded in the soil flush with the ground, and they generally surround the sides of the sprinkler head. Although they offer a measure of protection for the sprinkler heads themselves, they do not protect against bending or rupture of underground piping connected to the sprinkler head if impact force is applied directly downward so that the head is substantially depressed. In such an event, depression of the standpipe connected to the sprinkler head occurs with consequent transmission of displacing force to the T-connector or other connector to which the standpipe is connected below the ground and other piping connected below ground to the T- connector. Such piping and connector usually are closely held in the soil, so that there is no room for the same to move freely without damage.
Pipe rupture is particularly prevalent as a result of substantial sprinkler head depression when at least part of the underground piping is of the commonly used, inexpensive and easily assembled, plastic type such as polyvinyl chloride tubing or the like. Unfortunately, plastic pipe is easily ruptured when subjected to strong bending force applied at threaded or clamped pipe joints, such as at the point of connection with a T-connector normally used in such sprinkler systems. The standpipe and T-connector may be of metal or the like, and as such are less subject to rupture than the plastic pipe connected to the T-connector, but this difference in reaction bending force between the metal T-connector and the attached plastic pipe may actually contribute to the danger of rupture of the plastic pipe.
Since much of the cost of sprinkler systems is represented by the installation cost, repair of ruptures is very expensive, as well as inconvenient and time-consuming. Underground ruptures also may be difi'rcult to detect immediately and may cause substantial fluid waste and damage to plants, trees and nearby structures before being detected. Accordingly, improved overall sprinkler protection is highly desirable.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The improved sprinkler protector of the invention is generally described in the abstract above. It equally protects the T-connector or other type of underground connector, the standpipe, the sprinkler head and the pipes connected to the T-connector, in contrast to the usual types of protectors which only offer protection of the sprinkler head.
In the present devices, detent means are provided to prevent sufiicient depression of the sprinkler head to cause severe displacement or bending force to be transmitted to the connector and attached pipes. Accordingly, pipe rupture is avoided. The protector is simple and inexpensive, yet durable and highly effective. It can be easily, rapidly and permanently installed. It is neat and trim in appearance when installed and simplifies the lawn maintenance problem pertaining to trimming lawn growth about a sprinkler head.
DRAWINGS A better understanding of the invention may be had from a consideration of the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which:
FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of a first embodiment of the improved sprinkler protector of the invention in place in the ground disposed around a sprinkler, with portions of the protector broken away to illustrate the internal construction thereof;
FIG. 2 is a schematic top plan view of the protector of FIG.
FIG. 3 is a schematic side elevation of a second embodiment of the improved sprinkler protector of the invention, partly in section, shown with a sprinkler disposed therein; and
FIG. 4 is a schematic side sectional view of still another embodiment of the invention, configured for installation adjacent a curb or walk.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION FIGS. 1 and 2 In General A first embodiment of the improved sprinkler protector of the invention is schematically depicted in perspective view in FIG. 1. Thus, as shown in FIG. 1, the protector 10 comprises a rigid, self-supporting body 12 of any suitable material such as metal, plastic, wood, glass or the like, but preferably a durable inexpensive substance such as concrete, cement or the like which is easily cast to the desired configuration and is capable of resistance to erosion when disposed in the soil or the like at ground level, such as is shown generally at 14 in FIG. 1. Body 12 may be of any suitable size and shape, preferably cylindrical or frusto-conical, as illustrated schematically in FIGS. 1 and 2. Preferably, body 12 has relatively flat, generally horizontally extending top and bottom surfaces, 16 and 18, respectively, and an interconnecting smooth side surface 20, and is solid and unitary in structure, but may be fabricated, if desired, of a plurality of components and may if desired be a hollow-walled structure (not shown).
Recess, Aperture and Passageway Body 12 is characterized, in part, by having at its upper end 22 a generally centrally disposed recess 24 (FIGS. 1 and 2) extending down from surface 16 and dimensioned to wholly receive sprinkler head 26 so that the upper surface 28 of head 26 is about level with surface 16. The lower end 30 of body 12 defines an aperture 32 extending across the entire width of body 12 and dimensioned to receive a sprinkler connector 34, preferably a T-connector as shown in FIG. 1. Connector 34 preferably is wholly disposed within aperture 32, also as shown in FIG. 1. Body 12 further includes a generally centrally disposed, generally vertically extending passageway 36 communicating with aperture 32 and recess 24 of substantially smaller average diameter than recess 24 but large enough to accommodate standpipe 37. Recess 24, aperture 32 and passageway 34 may be tubular or the like in configuration. Preferably passageway 34 is centered within body 12 and recess 24 and the latter is cylindrical.
Detent Means An important feature of the invention is detent means provided in body 12 to prevent substantial depression of head 26 within recess 24 and consequent direction of rupturing force on connector 34 and/or attached pipes (not shown). The detent means can merely comprise the natural restriction resulting from the small diameter passageway in conjunction with the larger diameter recess. Alternatively, such detent means can comprise a separate shelf 38 or narrowed area in the area of body 12 defining recess 24 itself, as shown in FIG. 1. Such shelf 38 may be cylindrical or the like and is disposed below surface 16 a distance at least equal to and preferably slightly greater than the thickness of the periphery of head 26. Alternatively, such detent means may comprise a ring 40 or the like, preferably of resilient material, such as rubber, synthetic rubber or plastic or the like such as is shown in FIG. 3, hereinafter more fully described.
In any event, the described detent means restricts downward displacement of head 26 when it is stepped on or when a heavy object, such as a lawnmower wheel, push cart, etc. is rolled thereover, thus protecting the entire sprinkler system. Preferably, the detent means should be positioned to allow for a small amount of downward give" in the sprinkler system to protect head 26 from being mashed by a heavy object against the detent means if the latter is not resilient, but
the give" should not be so factor afforded by the detent FIG. 3
In the second embodiment of the invention schematically depicted in FIG. 3 in side elevation, partly in section, a protector 42 is shown, comprising a generally frusto-conical body 44 disposed with its top surface 46 at ground level 48 and the remainder thereof buried. The upper end 50 of body 44 is provided with a central cylindrical recess 52 within which is wholly disposed sprinkler head 54, the upper surface 56 thereof about level with surface 46. The lower end 58 of body 44 is provided with an aperture 60 extending across the width thereof within which is wholly disposed T-connector 62. A vertical central tubular passageway 64, smaller in diameter than recess 52, interconnects aperture 60 and recess 52, and encloses a standpipe 66 interconnecting T-connector 62 and sprinkler head 54. As previously described, detent means in the form of a resilient rubber ring 40 is disposed between head 54 and the bottom of recess 52. Moreover, resilient support means in the form of, for example, a rubber, synthetic rubber or the like pad 68 is disposed adjacent the bottom of aperture 60 below T-connector 62 to cushion the same in the event of some depression of head 54. Body 44 can be fabricated in any suitable manner of materials such as those previously described for body 12.
Reinforcing and Anchoring Means Body 44 can be provided, if desired, with reinforcing means such as an annular ring 70 of steel, aluminum, etc. preferably embedded in the outer surface of body 44 at the upper end 50 thereof if body 44 is cast of cement, concrete or the like. Ring 70 prevents chipping of end 50. A similar reinforcement of the lower end 58 of body 44 can be provided by bands 72 of steel, aluminum or the like similarly embedded in the outer surface of body 44, as shown in FIG. 3.
Body 44 further can be provided with anchoring means such as downwardly projecting legs 74 cast or'otherwise formed in end 58 and adapted to easily anchor body 44 in an upright osition around head 54, standpipe 66 and connector 62, as shown in FIG. 3.
In FIG. 4 a particular modification of the protector in accordance with the invention is shown. Here a protector 80, which may be fabricated as already described, is formed with a flat side 82 for installing close to a curb or sidewalk 83. The protector 80 has a recess 84 within its upper face 85 for receiving the sprinkler head 87 and supporting it against downward movement which might rupture the buried piping system connected thereto. The cylindrical aperture 86 containing the standpipe 88 is located adjacent the flat side 82, thus permitting the sprinkler head to be installed at the very edge of the lawn, as is customary for watering along a sidewalk, while still affording the desired protection already described. Except for the particular configuration of the protector 80 which permits installation about the sprinkler head adjacent some obstruction such as a walk or curb at the edge of a lawn, the protector 80 and the rest of the elements depicted in FIG. 4 may be essentially the same as the arrangements of FIGS. 1 or 3, as desired. The protector 80 may also be provided with a pair of adjacent flat sides forming an angled corner for installation in a corner of the lawn.
INSTALLATION Protectors 10, 42 and 80 can easily be installed. Thus, the protector can be placed over a connector in an open trench before or after the appropriate pipes are connected thereto, and with or without the standpipe in place. The top surface of the protector is positioned at ground level. Obviously, the aperture in the protector will be aligned with the connector and any connected pipes. If the protector has anchoring means they are embedded in the base of the trench. If the protector has a resilient support means for the connector, this will be positioned under the connector when fitting the protector over the connector.
After the underground connections are made and the standpipe is in place, the sprinkler head can be attached to the standpipe. The trench is filled around the protector and the latter is now permanently installed and operable.
With the present protector, underground rupture of fluid sprinkler systems is substantially reduced, inasmuch as undue depression of the sprinkler head is avoided, while protecting the head itself from damage. Accordingly, substantial benefits are obtained at relatively low cost and with a simple, efficient and permanent device.
What is claimed is:
1. An improved sprinkler protector comprising:
a rigid self-supporting body having relatively flat, generally horizontally extending top and bottom surfaces and aninterconnecting side surface;
the upper end of said body defining a generally centrally disposed recess extending down from said top surface and adapted to receive a fluid sprinkler head wholly therein;
the lower end of said body defining an aperture having an open bottom extending across the width of said body and adapted to receive a sprinkler connector;
said body further defining a generally centrally disposed,
generally vertically extending passageway communicating with said aperture and said recess and adapted to receive a standpipe interconnecting said connector and said sprinkler head;
said body further including in the area of said recess a sprinkler head detent which prevents substantial downward displacement of said head relative to said protector.
2. The improved sprinkler protector of claim 1 wherein said body is a solid, unitary body; wherein said recess, aperture and passageway are generally tubular; wherein said aperture is adapted to wholly enclose a T-connector, and wherein said passageway is smaller in diameter than said recess.
3. The improved protector of claim 1 wherein said detent comprises a generally cylindrical shelf defining a portion of said recess adjacent the bottom end thereof and adapted to support the bottom of a sprinkler head when said head is depressed.
4. The improved sprinkler protector of claim 1 wherein said detent comprises resilient support means disposed below said head in said recess.
5. The improved sprinkler protector of claim I wherein said protector includes resilient means disposed in said aperture adjacent the bottom thereof to cushion said connector during depression of said head.
6. The improved sprinkler lower end of said body directed leg projections.
7. The improved sprinkler protector of claim 2 wherein a reinforcing element is disposed around said side surface adjacent the upper end of said body.
8. The improved sprinkler protector of claim 7 wherein a reinforcing element is also disposed adjacent the lower end of said body.
9. The improved sprinkler protector of claim 7 wherein said body is frusto-conical and fabricated of cast cementitious material and wherein said reinforcing element comprises a steel ring embedded in said body at the upper end thereof.
10. The improved sprinkler protector of claim 1 wherein said body has at least one substantially flat side adjacent the passageway, said flat side spaced from the center of the passageway by approximately the radius of a conventional sprinkler head and connecting with one edge of said recess, for permitting the installation of said protector adjacent a sidewalk or curb.
protector of claim 1 wherein the includes a plurality of downwardly