US 3896525 A
A buckle for use in connecting the opposite ends of a binding strap which includes a float on which a pair of superposed rings are captively, yet moveably retained to facilitate strap attachment thereto. The buoyant character of this buckle facilitates its retrieval from a body of water for reuse, and is particularly adapted for application in the logging industry.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Stewart, Jr. et al.
[ 51 July 29,1975
[ FLOATING STRAP BUCKLE  Inventors: Alfred H. Stewart, Jr., Media, Pa.;
Edmond W. Palmer, Jr., Moorestown, NJ.
 Assignee: FMC Corporation, Philadelphia, Pa.
 Filed: Apr. 17, 1974 ] Appl. No.: 461,552
 US. Cl. 24/21; 24/74 R  Int. Cl. B65D 63/06; A448 1 1/00  Field of Search 24/16 R, 197, 200, 21,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 11/1892 Tileston 24/197 UX 7/1930 Ross 24/16 R 2,066,914 1/1937 Staples 24/200 X 2,889,599 6/1959 Perry et al. 24/21 2,961,726 11/1960 Belisle 24/74 R X 3,112,543 12/1963 Derrickson 24/74 A 3,121,270 2/1964 Van Den Broek et al 24/197 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 166,334 7/1950 Austria 24/197 Primary Examiner-Donald A. Griffin  ABSTRACT A buckle for use in connecting the opposite ends of a binding strap which includes a float on which a pair of superposed rings are captively, yet moveably retained to facilitate strap attachment thereto. The buoyant character of this buckle facilitates its retrieval from a body of water for reuse, and is particularly adapted for application in the logging industry.
10 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures FLOATING STRAP BUCKLE The present invention is directed to a strap buckle, and particularly a buckle which is buoyant in water so as to facilitate its retrieval for reuse.
In the logging industry felled logs are customarily graded or classified, with logs of like grade then being bundled together and floated along a waterway to a sawmill or pulp mill for processing. Bundling is generally achieved by placing a number of graded logs in a cradle, which merely consists of a pair of spaced-apart, elevated U-shaped supports, and then tightly encircling the same with a suitable binding material.
Rope may be used as a binding material, in which instance its ends are simply knotted together. More frequently heavy-duty steel strap is employed, with its ends being connected by crimped seals or perhaps by a buckle, as illustrated in the United States patent to Perry et a1 U.S. Pat. No. 2,889,599. At the mill, and while the bundled logs are still in the water, the binding material is cut to release the logs for processing, with the cut binding material simply sinking and/or being carried away by the water stream.
Bundling is not an easy task and is especially difficult when using steel strap since it involves, as an initial step, the hurling of heavy coiled lengths of steel strap over the massive collection of cradled logs while retaining one end of each of such straps. Thus, a high strength strap which is lighter in weight than steel strap would be welcomed by the logging industry and straps formed of textile cords and plastics, such as polypropylene and polyester, appear to be well adapted for this purpose. Cord strap and plastic strap both offer many other advantages, as for example, safety in use and easy disposability. Yet, it is the light weight of such cord and plastic straps which provides the basis of the present invention, a primary object of which is the provision of a new or improved and more satisfactory strap buckle.
Another object of this invention is to provide a buoyant strap buckle which is adapted to be retrieved from a body of water for reuse.
Still another object is to provide a buckle which is capable of buoyantly supporting itself and an attached length of cord or plastic strap.
A further object is the provision of a buckle which is particularly adapted for use with heavy-duty cord or plastic strap in log bundling applications.
A still further object is a floatable strap buckle which is simple to apply, requires no machines or special tools, and is suited for repeated reuse without sacrifice in its efficiency.
The above and other objects of the invention are achieved by a buckle which includes a pair of superposed rings about and between which bight portions of a strap may be disposed to securely grip the same, and a float which retains the superposed rings captive yet permits limited movement thereof. More particularly, the rings are each in the form of a closed rectangular loop, preferably made of metal stock having a generally round, oval or polygonal cross-section and, desirably, of generally the same size and shape. The float is most simply described as having an I-shaped cross-section and includes a web member which extends through the ring openings and maintains the rings in superposed relationship, and flanges which project beyond at least portions of the web member and the rings to captively retain the same on such web member.
Buoyancy may be imparted to the buckle of the present invention by making at least portions of the float of hollow, water-tight construction, or by forming such float portions of buoyant materials which are capable of withstanding the anticipated punishment the buckle may encounter during use. Suitable buoyant materials are, for example, light weight metals and/or plastics of solid or foamed character. The strength of buckle floats formed of foamed plastics, for example, may be enhanced by incorporating reinforcing fibers therein, or by a rigid surface coating, or by encasing the same within a metallic shield. Wood, such as cedar, is admirably suited and is preferred for buckle float construction. Desirably the exposed surfaces of such wood float are sealed to protect the float during use in the water environment. Colors may be applied to the float, as for example, to assist in buckle detection and/or to identify the particular grades of bundled logs.
The strap gripping rings are formed of stock material which is corrosion resistant in view of their intended use and which is generally round, oval or polygonal cross-section in contour, desirably with no sharp edges, so as to avoid damage to the strap portions which are engaged therewith. For example, each such ring may be formed of an aluminum rod or tube which is bent into a desired ring configuration with its ends being butt welded or otherwise connected. Rings which are formed of tubes may well be preferred in view of their lighter weight and, when properly fabricated, their water-tight tubular construction, which imparts some degree of buoyancy to the buckle. If desired or found necessary, the strap-engaging portions of the rings may have a fine knurl or be similarly roughened to encourage gripping of the strap.
A variety of cord and plastic straps are suitable for use with the buckle of this invention. Typical of such cord straps which are useful in log bundling operations is a 1 /2 inch wide polyester cord strap having an average breaking strength of over 4,000 pounds, and an average buckle joint strength of over 3,400 pounds. A plastic strap suitable for this purpose is, for example, a 1% inch wide, 50 mils thick polypropylene strap which exhibits an average breaking strength of over 3,600 pounds and an average buckle joint strength of over 3,000 pounds.
The degree of buoyancy exhibited by the buckle of this invention is desirably such that the buckle, carrying perhaps some 40 feet of strap of a character as described above, will assume such level in a body of water as to be readily detected and retrieved.
In the drawing,
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the buckle of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a longitudinal section taken through portions of the buckle shown in FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a perspective view illustrating the buckle of this invention as used in bundling of cradled logs.
In FIG. 1, the buckle of this invention is indicated by the character 5 and includes a pair of superposed rings 7 and 9 movably, yet captively, carried by a float 11. The rings 7 and 9 are of like closed rectangular loop configuration and are fabricated of materials and in a manner as heretofore described.
The float ll simply consists of a wooden block member 13 which extends through the like openings 15 and in the rings 7 and 9 and has attached to opposite sides 17 and 19 thereof like wooden flanges 21 and 23. The
member 13 is encircled by and serves to maintain the rings 7 and 9 in superposed relationship yet permits such rings to move rather freely relative to each other and the member 13 to thereby facilitate easy lacing of a binding strap about and between such rings. As shown in FlG. 1, the flanges 21 and 23 project beyond opposite sides 25 and 27 of the member 13 and also the reaches of the rings 7 and 9 which are adjacent to such sides. Thus, these flanges 21 and 23 limit the movement of the rings 7 and 9 along the member 13 and retain the same captive thereon.
In the use of the buckle in log bundling operations, a necessary length of cord of plastic binding strap 29 is cut from a supply after which one end of such supply is attached to overlying reaches 31 and 33 of the rings 7 and 9 as shown at the left side of FIG. 2. During such strap attachment, the rings 7 and 9 may be initially shifted relative to each other to the extent permitted by the member 13 and/or spread apart as allowed by the flanges 21 and 23 to facilitate easy lacing of such strap about the ring reaches 31 and 33. After such ring movement, the wraps 35 of the strap 29 urge and maintain the ring reaches 31 and 33 into a close and superposed relationship.
The cut length of'strap is then encircled about a cradled mass of logs in the manner as heretofore described with regard to steel strap, after which its free end is secured to the buckle 5 in a manner as shown at the right side of FIG. 2. During such attachment, the wrapped ring reaches 31 and 33 serve as a hinge permitting the rings 7 and 9 to be moved apart to the extent allowed by the flanges 21 and 23 and thereby facilitating each manipulation of the strap 29 about the reaches 37 and 39 of the rings 7 and 9, respectively. As the free end of the strap 29 is pulled the strap, of course, is tensioned and the ring reaches 37 and 39 are returned into a close and directly superposed relationship.
As illustrated, the ring reaches 31, 33, 37 and 39 are each of a length not. appreciably greater than the width of the strap which is to be used to thereby avoid or minimize any tendency of the strap which has been applied to such reaches from shifting laterally relative to each other. i
A mass of logs bundled as described above is shown in FIG. 3 and, once such log bundle has been conveyed by water to a mill site and while such bundle is still in such body of water, the strap 29 is cut to free the logs. The buckle 5 with attached strap floats to or near the water surface for retrieval. Theused'strap is then removed and the buckle is ready for reuse.
It is to be understood that changes and variations:
may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.
l. A buckle for use in connecting the opposite ends of a binding strap including a pair of superposed rings about and between which bight portions of a strap may be disposed to grip the same and a float which is buoyant in water and which includes a member extending freely through the ring openings, so as to be encircled by said rings, said member serving to maintain such rings in superposed relationship while permitting limited movement thereof relative to each other and said member, and retainers connected to said member for maintaining said rings captive on said member.
2. A buckle as claimed in claim l'wherein said float is made of wood.
3. A buckle as defined in claim 1 wherein each of said.
rings is a closed rectangular loop. 1
4. A buckle as defined in claim 3 wherein said rings are generally of like size and shape. 1
5. A buckle as defined in claim4 wherein said ring are formed of metal stock and have cross-sections free of sharp strap-cutting edges.
6. A buckle as defined in claim 3 wherein said retainers are flanges which are connected to opposite sides,
of said. member and which project beyond at least portions of said member and said rings. a
7. A buckle as defined in claim 3 wherein said member includes sides which together define a rectangle which is similar to but smaller than the rectangular openings in said rings and a pair of opposite sides which are spaced from each other a distance greater than the combined thickness of said rings.
8. A buckle as defined in claim 7 wherein said retainers are flanges which are connected to said opposite sides of said member and which project beyond at least portions of said member and said rings.
9. A buckle as defined in claim 8 wherein said rings are formed of metal stock, are of generally of like size and shape, and are free of sharp strap-cutting edges.
10. A buckle as defined in claim 9 wherein said float.
is formed of wood.