US 3910560 A
Coupling means including both male and female portions, the female portion comprising spaced converging side members forming a tapering slot and the male portion comprising a shank; a pair of said coupling means being readily coupled and uncoupled, the male portion of one coupling means being inserted into the female portion of the other coupling means and retained therein thereby providing a temporary connection between rigid structural units.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Goetz Oct. 7, 1975  COUPLING MEANS FOR PORTABLE 3,815,877 6/1974 Turner 256/25 FENCING AND THE LIKE FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS lnvemofl 3 2 2? "22% F, 679,297 9/1952 United Kingdom 256/26 0 ge ity, ans. r
22 Fil d; 21, 1974 Primary Examiner-Dennis L. Taylor 1 pp No 444 529 Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Richard G. Heywood S l  ABSTRACT .(g L Coupling mea s i i g b h l d fe ale por-  i 25 26 33 tions, the female portion comprising spaced converg- 256/2l 1 6 6 ing side members forming a tapering slot and the male portion comprising a shank; a pair of said coupling  References Cited means being readily coupled and uncoupled, the male portion of one coupling means being inserted into the UNITED STATES PATENTS female portion of the other coupling means and re- 63,829 4/1867 Augspurger 256/26 rained therein thereby providing a temporary conn 1 a tion between rigid structural units. 6 00 or 3,072,385 1/1963 Johnson 256/25 12 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures 5a 2 L I m ll 4 s l| H W I i n. 57 ll T l 55/6?) X: 55 ll US. Patent Oct. 7,1975 3,910,560
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The invention relates generally to coupling means or units useful for linking fences, chutes, gates and other rigid structural units. In the past, portable fencing units fence sections. is required in these prior art constructions to couple the sections because of the male-female hinge arrangement.
Typical prior art fencing systems employing depending pins adapted to be received in aligned sleeves are shown in U.S. Pat. No. 3,204,606 and its cited patent references. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 3,469,822 shows a portable enclosure in which adjacent fence sections are pinned together by precise alignment of female sleeve sectionscarried by adjacent fence posts.
To overcome the difficulty noted above, the present invention provides a dual coupling unit which includes both male and female portions; a pair of which may be coupled in such a way that no moving parts, pins or other devices are necessary to complete the actual coupling. I i
It is an object of the invention to provide a coupling device for releasably coupling two rigid structural units. A
Another object is to provide means for temporarily connecting two rigid structural units where adjustable angularity between the units is desired.
Another object of the invention is to provide a dual coupling unit which includes both male and female components.
Another object is to provide coupling means for fence sections which may be coupled without exacting orientation or alignment thereof and without having to turn fence sections around to accommodate the male to female coupling connection or orientation thereof. 6 Another object is to provide a fence section which may be coupled at various angles tosimilar adjacent fence sections. Another object is to provide a portable fence section which is set upon the ground rather than being staked or implanted and which is useful in the construction of various sized and shaped pens, corrals or the like.
Other objectsand advantages of this invention will be readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numbers designate like parts and wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a portable corral and loading chute utilizing fence sections having coupling means embodying the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary view of several fencing sections showing the coupling means;
FIG. 3 is a greatly enlarged fragmentary view showing a pair of dual coupling means illustrating one embodiment of the invention in coupling engagement;
FIG. 4 shows in full lines an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken on line 4--4 of FIG. 3, and shows in broken lines a' second coupling means connected together with a locking pin keeper member;
FIG. 5 is anenlarged fragmentary perspective view showing the embodiment of the coupling means shown in FIG. 3; and,
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of thelocking pin keeper member, shown in broken lines in FIG. 4.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT corral 10 formed of several fence sections having coupling units embodying the invention are illustrated as attached to a portable loading ramp or chute l2 and, as stated, the fence sections are movable or portable in that they are preferably set upon the ground rather than being staked down or implanted therein. The corral 10 includes sections or panels 14,15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 and gate panel 30. Each of the fence sections 14-21, as best seen in FIG. 2, may include end posts 32, intermediate posts 34, and a number of spaced horizontal members or rails 36 interconnecting the end posts 32 and the intermediate posts 34. The posts 32 and 34 and the rails 36 may be constructed from any rigid material, such as tubing, pipe, wood or the like, and may be of any cross-sectional configuration. Furthermore, although the panels14-2l shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 have six rails 36 and two intermediate posts 34, the invention is not limited to fence sections of this configuration. Also, although the cross pieces or rails 36 and the vertical pieces 32 and 34 are usually made of metal and are welded together where they cross each other, they may be secured by any other conventional means suitable for connecting such units.
The gate panel or section 30, as shown in FIG. 1, has slightly elongated end posts 37 interconnected by a cross member or brace 38, which is welded or otherwise connected to the upper ends of the end posts 37. A gate 40 is hingedly attached to one of the end posts 37 and is latched on the other side to the other end post 37 in any conventional manner.
In keeping with the objects of this invention, the panels -20 and the gate panel 30 are linked or connected together in end-to-end relationship by coupling means 50 and 51 shown in FIG. 2 as upper and lower coupling means respectively on each end of each panel section. Similarly, the end panels 14 and 21 are linked by coupling means 50 and 51 to the panels 15 and and to end posts 52 associated with the loading ramp 12, which may have a' similar construction as the gate section in FIG. 1.
As best seen in FIG. 5, the upper dual coupling unit includes a first or female portion 52 and a second or male portion 54. The female portion 52 has spaced converging side -members or arms 52(a) and 52(b) which are shown as having a closed end loop 52(0) to form a keyhole-like slot 56 having a larger or wider opening portion 56(a) and a smaller or narrower and elongated opening portion 56(b). The female portion 52 is preferably constructed of'a metallic bar having a square or rectangular cross-section in order to provide maximum latching or coupling contact with the male portion 54, as described more particularly below. The female portion, however, may be made from tubing, pipe or the like having a round or rounded crosssection. The inner ends 53(a) and 53(b) are fixedly attachedby welding or thelike to the end posts 32 and,
to facilitate a strong attachment, it is preferred that the end posts have a rectangular or square cross-section as shown. It is also preferred that the female portion 52 be in a plane substantially perpendicular to the plane of the rigid support or end post 32. The reasons for this orientation will become clear in view of the description which follows. Y
Still referring particularly to FIG. 5, the second or male portion 54 includes an enlarged head 55 formed with an abutment surface 55(a) on the end of a reduced shank or neck 57. Preferably the shank 57 of the male portion 54 is rigidly secured by welding or the like to the closed end loop 52(0) of the female portion so that the enlarged head 55is in a depending relationship below the female portion 52. This arrangement is preferred so that when a pair of coupling means are coupled as clearly shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the unused male .portion 54 (.shown as the male portion on the right in FIG. 3) does not interfere with the coupling. Also, it is preferred that the male portion 54 be in a plane which is substantially perpendicular to the female portion 52.
As best seen in FIG. 2, the lower coupling means 51 is constructed similarly to the upper coupling means 50 except, preferably, the male portion 54' in this embodiment has no enlarged head and the straight shank 57' is significantly more elongated. This embodiment of the dual coupling means is preferred for the bottom coupling unit sinceit allows quicker and easier coupling priorto assembly of the upper coupling units. In short, the elongated straight shank 57' of one of the lower dual coupling units Slis received in the female opening of the other lower unit to facilitate bringing the upper coupling units 50 into position for final assembly of adjacent fence panels. In final assembly, the shank 57 of the male portion 54 of one upper coupling unit 50 is passed into the larger opening portion 56(a) of the other coupling unit 50. Themaleportion 54 is then moved so as to bring the shank 57, into the narrow slot portion 56(b) as shown in full lines in FIG. 4. The shank or neck 57 may have a thickness that is slightly greater than the width of the slot 56 adjacent to the closed loop end 52(c) so that the coupling means are secure when the shank 57 of the pin or stud 54. is wedged or drawn into the narrowing parts of the slotted opening 56. It will be readily apparent that in this position the abutment surface 55(a) of the enlarged head 55 associated with the upper dual coupling means 50 limits relative vertical displacement.
Usually, there are two dual coupling means associated with each end post. For example, as shown in FIG. 2, the coupling means 50 and 51 are associated with each end post 32, but fewer or greater numbers of coupling means may be used. With the enlarged head 55 omitted from the lower coupling means 51, coupling can be easily accomplished by aligning the end posts of the fence sections to be joined with one panel slightly elevated and'then by lowering the elevated panel. The lower coupling means 51 is engaged first since the male portion associated therewith has the longer shank 57 With the lower coupling means engaged, the upper coupling means 50 is then engaged as described above. Uncoupling is accomplished by reversing the coupling operation.
As indicated, particularly in- FIG. 4, the adjacent fence sections and their coupling means may be at an angle with respect to each other. Whileshown in solid lines in one position is indicated in FIG. 4, it is clear that this angle may be widely varied, thus providing a means whereby the associated rigid structural units to be coupled may be linked in end-to-end relationship at various angles with respect to each other. This is greatly advantageous inasmuch as various sized and shaped pens, corrals or the like may be easily constructed wherein the fence sections have the above described coupling means associated therewith. Also, the
coupling means may be associated with the end posts- 32 in such a way that the mid-point of the slot or loop portion 52(0) is in the plane of the fence section whereby a plurality of fence sections coupled in end-toend relationship provide a straight line of fencing. On the other hand, when the loop portion 52(0) is offset from the plane of the fence section, a plurality of fence sections in end-to-end relationship provide an offset line of fencing.
In most cases, only one panel section 14-21 or gate section 30 is coupled at each end with another; however, as shown in broken lines in FIG. 1 a second panel such as panel 70 may be coupled by coupline means 50 and 51 to the left end post of fence section 19, as viewed in this figure. Thus, multiple coupling means may be interconnected to join several panel sections thereto. This arrangement may be advantageous in some cases, as in FIG. 1, in order to provide a chute 72 associated with the corral gate 40 or otherwise.
The multiple coupling arrangement is further illustrated in FIG. 4 wherein a third coupling means 50 is shown in broken lines in coupling association with the coupling means shown in full lines. To this end, it is important that the smaller opening portion 56(b) of the keyhole-like slot be sufficiently elongated to accommodate two male portions 54 in couplind engagement as shown. Multiple coupling arrangements in addition to the uses described above may be used to provide brace panels along a line of fencing to keep the fencing upright and aligned. Also, by selecting which female portion 52 will have two male portions associated therewith various straight line and offset arrangements of fencing may be provided. This may be advantageous for example in constructing a fencing system which avoids some physical barrier like a tree or a building or in consulting several interconnected enclosures.
This, it is apparent that there has been provided in accordance with the invention a coupling means for portable fencing and the like that fully satisfies the objects,'aims and advantages set forth above. A further improvement to the coupling means comprises a keeper or locking member 60, as shown in FIG. 6 and in broken lines in FIG. 4. The member 60 has a T- shaped cross-section with a horizontal cross bar 61 and a depending pin 62. As will be readily appreciated, any such member which blocks the larger portion 56(a) of the keyhole-like slot 56 and is receivable therein may be used in place of the construction shown. A U-shaped bolt of sufficient size to block the portion 56(a), for example, may be used in place of the T-shaped member 60 as the locking member or keeper to prevent dislodgement of the male coupling unit from the narrow slot 56(b). The keeper member 60 may be chained (not shown) or otherwise tethered to the end post 32 or couplications wherein an easily coupled. and uncoupled means is desired such as in coupline .towed vehicles. In this case, the coupling means may be locked in coupling engagement by means "of blocking means adapted to fit between the diverging ends "S (a) and 53(b), as for example the locking member 60, thus keeping the pin 54 engaged in the narrow part of the slot opening 56. The shank 57 of the male portion 54 may also be sized to be received in the end loop 52(c) for hinging movement therein while the abutment flange 55(a) acts to prevent relative vertical displacement that might cause disengagement. Other such alternatives, modifications and variations will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art and it is intended to embrace such alternatives, modifications and variations as fall within the spirit and broad scope of the subjoined claims.
What is claimed is:
l. A first coupling unit adapted for releasable engagement with a second coupling unit for coupling together two relatively movable rigid structures, said first unit comprising a female portion having spaced sides forming a slot with relatively wide and narrow areas and a male portion having a shank extending from said female portion and an enlarged head on theend of the shank; the second coupling unit having at least one of said female and male portions of said first coupling unit, and said first and second coupling units being adapted to be releasably coupled together with the male portion shank of one of said units being receivable into the wide area of the female portion of the other of said units for seating engagement in the narrower area of the female portion of the other unit.
2. The first coupling unit according to claim 1, in which said enlarged head of said male portion shank of said one unit includes an abutment surface in opposed relation with the spaced sides of the female portion of the other unit and being adapted to limit relative vertical displacement between said first and second coupling units when interconnected.
3. The first coupline unit according to claim 1, in which the female and male portions are in substantially right angular planes.
4. The first coupling unit according to claim 1, in which the narrow area of said female portion is elongated and adapted to receive at least two of the male portion shanks of second coupling units.
5. In combination, a first coupling unit for a first rigid structure comprising a female portion including spaced-apart converging side walls and a closed and wall forming a tapering slot having a relatively wide area adjacent to the first rigid structure and a relatively narrow area extending therefrom to said closed end wall, said first coupling unit also comprising a male portion including a shank having one end connected to the female portion and an enlarged head on the other end of said shank in spaced relation with the female portion; and a second coupling unit for a second rigid structure comprising female and male portions similar to those of said first coupling unit, said first and second coupling units being adapted to be releasably coupled together with the male portion shank of either of said units being selectively receivable in the wider area of the female portion of the other of said units for interlocking seating engagement in the narrower area of the female portion of said other unit.
v.u6.-The combination according to claim 5, in which thefe'male and rnale portions of said first coupling unit are in substantially right angularplanes, and said male portion shank is connected to the closed end wall and depends therefrom in spaced relation to said first rigid structure.
7. Thecombination according to claim 6, in which the enlarged head of said'male portion shank includes an abutment surface in opposed relation below the spaced side walls of the female portion of said second unit and limits relative vertical displacement between the connected first and second coupling units.
8. The combination according to claim 5, in which said first rigid structure comprises a first vertical end post of a first movable fence section, and in which said second rigid structure comprises a second vertical end post of .a second movable fence section positioned adjacent to said first vertical end post. of said first fence sec tion.
9. The combination according to claim 8 in which two of said first coupling units are associated with the first end post and in which two second coupling units are associated with the second end post.
10. The combination according to claim 8, which further includes a T-shaped keeper pin having a cross-bar extending across said side walls of the female portion of the coupling unit having the male portion shank positioned in the narrower area of its slot, and having a depending pin extending vertically into the wider area of such slot.
11. The combination according to claim 8, in which said first and second fence sections include other vertical end posts and interconnecting fence members, and said other end posts being provided with other coupling units having female and male portions similar to those of said first coupling unit whereby said coupling unit on either end of said first fence section is adapted for releasable engagement with the coupling unit on either end of said second fence section.
12. In combination, a portable fencing arrangement having a series of relative movable fence sections adapted to be connected together, each of said fence sections having spaced vertical end members and interconnecting brace members; the improvement which comprises vertically spaced first and second dual coupling units rigidly secured to each end member of each of said fence sections, said first dual coupling unit comprising a female portion having spaced converging side walls and a closed end wall forming a tapering slot with a relatively wide area adjacent to the end member and a relatively narrow area extending therefrom to said closed end, said first coupling unit also comprising a male portion having a shank on one end, the other end of the shank of the male portion being connected to the female portion in spaced relation to the enlarged head with the female and male portions being disposed in substantially right angular planes, said second dual coupling unit being positioned below the first coupling unit on the end member of the fence section and comprising a female portion having spaced converging side walls and a closed end wall forming a tapering slot with a relatively wide area adjacent to the end member and a relatively narrow area extending therefrom to said closed end, said second coupling unit also comprising a male portion having a shank connected to the female portion with the female and male portions being disposed in substantially right angular planes, said first and second coupling units on the end members of adjacent fence sections being adapted to be releasably coupled togehter with the male portion shanks of the first and second coupling units of either of said adjacent fence sections being selectively receivable in the wider area of the female portions of the other of said adjacent fence section units and laterally movable relative thereto for seating engagement in the narrower areas of the female