Patent application title: Flexible support apparatus
John Joseph (Sacramento, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA47F508FI
Class name: Brackets specially mounted or attached by wall anchor
Publication date: 2010-06-03
Patent application number: 20100133401
Patent application title: Flexible support apparatus
Alfred F. Hoyte, Esq.
Origin: WASHINGTON, DC US
IPC8 Class: AA47F508FI
Publication date: 06/03/2010
Patent application number: 20100133401
An improved support and closure arrangement includes a flexible strap and
one or more locking heads. The flexible strap has a series of spaced
apertures formed therein. A first group of apertures extending from one
end and extending over at least half of the strap, the first group
serving to allow for adjustably forming an overlapped portion of the
strap. A second group of apertures extends from an opposing end of the
strap. The locking member has a central post terminating at opposing ends
with radially extending, axially aligned discs sized for locking
engagement with the apertures of the strap. A third axially aligned disc
positioned intermediately along the axis of the post and also radially
extending therefrom separates the opposing end discs so that apertures on
either end of the strap may be selectively and discretely engaged and
disengaged from said discs. The locking member includes a central bore
adapted to receive a screw or equivalent fastening member. The
arrangement is used as a support by overlapping the strap and locking in
place a pair of the first apertures to form a loop which functions as a
primary anchor for the support, with the locking member serving to secure
the loop to a support surface, the end opposite of the loop secured to
the support surface at a position most conducive to stable supporting of
an object. The locking heads are adaptable for use as anchoring members
in a variety of applications.
1. A support and closure apparatus comprising:a flexible strap having a
plurality of spaced apertures formed therein;at least two anchoring
members, each of said anchoring members having an outer sleeve and an
inner fastening element, said outer sleeve formed of at least two discs
connected by a hollow shaft sized to receive the fastening member.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said at least two discs are axially aligned in spaced relation along said hollow shaft.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said outer sleeve includes three discs axially aligned in spaced relation along said hollow shaft.
4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein two of said discs have the same diameter and one of said discs has a relatively small diameter.
5. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein all of said discs have substantially the same diameter.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to support devices and methods for supporting objects onto vertical surfaces. More particularly, it relates to an improved adjustable support device which can also function as a closure for doors, gates, etc.
Support apparatuses for attaching objects to a vertical surface are known in the art and typically comprise some type of bracket assembly with several rigid support members configured to form the dual functions of vertical support and object retention. While these devices are generally functional they suffer from several drawbacks. First, they tend to require complicated anchoring systems to support them to the wall or other support surface and thus tend to do some damage to the wall. Secondly, they are not particularly portable in that they must be carefully removed and disassembled and are also bulky. Also, they cannot be easily configured to reliably support irregularly shaped objects.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,581,885 issued to Polad discloses a device which has a flexible strap for containing a cable, with a flat rigid portion attached thereto for support on a vertical surface. The rigid portion includes a plurality of pegs sized to engage mating holes on the strap to adjust to the size of the cable to be supported. Polad suffers from the drawback in that the rigid portion is relatively bulky and cannot be collapsed for storage. Also, the vertical portion orients the strap to limit the position of the article to be supported to a position substantially perpendicular to the rigid portion.
None of the above inventions and patents, taken either singly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention overcomes the disadvantages of the prior art by providing a flexible adjustable support and closure apparatus which includes a flexible strap and a locking head. The flexible strap has a series of spaced apertures formed therein. A first group of apertures extending from one end and extending over at least half of the strap, the first group serving to allow for adjustably forming an overlapped portion of the strap. A second group of apertures extends from an opposing end of the strap. A locking member has a central post terminating at opposing ends with radially extending, axially aligned discs sized for locking engagement with the apertures. A third axially aligned disc positioned intermediately along the axis of the post and also radially extending therefrom separates the opposing end discs so that apertures on either end of the strap may be selectively and discretely engaged and disengaged from said discs. The locking member includes a central bore adapted to receive a screw or equivalent fastening member. The arrangement is used as a support by overlapping the strap and locking in place a pair of the first apertures to form a loop which functions as a primary anchor for the support, with the locking member serving to secure the loop to a support surface, the end opposite of the loop secured to the support surface at a position most conducive to stably supporting an object.
Accordingly, it is a principal object of the invention to provide a flexible adjustable support and closure apparatus which can conform to irregularly shaped articles. It is an object of the invention to provide a flexible adjustable support and closure apparatus which is compact and portable.
It is an object of the invention to provide a flexible adjustable support and closure apparatus which includes a matching pair of rigid anchoring members.
It is an object of the invention to provide a flexible adjustable support and closure apparatus wherein said anchoring members have at least two locking discs coupled by an axial post.
It is an object of the invention to provide a flexible adjustable support and closure apparatus wherein the size of the locking discs is varied according to function.
It is an object of the invention to provide a flexible adjustable support and closure apparatus which has opposing ends where one or both end can be self reinforced using the anchoring members.
It is another object of the invention to provide a flexible adjustable support and closure apparatus having anchoring members which can be used as primary supports for suspending objects onto a vertical surface.
Finally, it is a general object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof in an apparatus for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes. These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Various other objects, features, and attendant advantages of the present invention will become more fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the apparatus securing an object to a vertical surface. FIG.
FIG. 2A shows a plan view of the strap of the support apparatus.
FIG. 2B shows a cross section detailing the reinforcement of holes in the strap of FIG. 2A.
FIG. 2c shows a cross section of the strap formed into a loop using the anchoring member of the apparatus.
FIG. 3A shows a cross section of a first embodiment of the anchoring member of the apparatus.
FIG. 3B shows a cross section of a second embodiment of the anchoring member of the apparatus.
FIG. 3c shows a cross section of a third embodiment of the anchoring member of the apparatus.
FIG. 3D shows a cross section of a fourth embodiment of the anchoring member of the apparatus.
FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of the apparatus deployed to secure a gate.
FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of an alternative placement of the apparatus deployed to secure a gate or other hinged planar member in a closed position.
The present invention, generally indicated by the numeral 10, is shown in FIGS. 1-5 and can be seen to include an anchoring member 12 and a strap 20 as the primary components.
The strap 20 is preferably made of rubber or other elastic material. High strength plastics or other flexible material may also be used. Preferred material for the strap 20 includes EPDM® or TPE® materials. The TPE® material may be used to create straps 20 in many different colors, which may be used for color-coding where, e.g., each size has a distinctive color. Two groups of apertures 24, 26 are formed extending from the opposing ends of the strap 20. A separate aperture 27 serves to allow for the formation of a single loop 25 of strap 20 using the anchoring member 12 to form an anchoring end 29 for the apparatus 10 as can be seen in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2c. The first group of apertures 24 allow for adjustably securing the strap 20 about the article 70 to be supported. Tabs (not shown) may be formed at opposing ends of the strap 20, the tabs serving to prevent failure of aperture 27 at one end of the strap, and the aperture 24 closest the opposite end of the strap 20. Preferably, the tabs are formed whenever the TPE® material is used.
Referring particularly now to FIGS. 2A and 2B it can be seen that both sets of apertures 24, 26, and aperture 27 include a reinforcing bead 30 to reduce the possibility of strap 20 failure due to rupturing of the material proximate the aperture. Apertures 26 and 27 may optionally be formed without beads 30, as the strap 20 portions proximate these apertures may not be subject to the same loading and torsional stresses as apertures 24, depending upon the particular application. To ensure that the strap 20 remains securely attached to anchoring member 12 under high stress conditions, the apertures 24, 26 are substantially smaller than end discs 36, 38 of the anchoring member 12.
The anchoring member 12, as shown in FIG. 3A, includes an outer sleeve or portion 31 which is formed of a central post 34 with an axial bore 35 that connects opposing end discs 36, 38 as well as central disc 40, and an inner portion 42 which is a fastener such as a screw or nail. In a first embodiment, end disc 38 and central disc 40 have the same diameter, but end disc 36 has a diameter approximately 25% smaller than discs 38 and 40. The size and number of discs can vary according to function as discussed in more detail below. Also, the discs 36, 38, 40 may be slightly elliptical or any other gem An integral construction may be used to form the outer portion 31 of anchoring member 12, the outer portion 31 preferably being formed of unitary construction, e.g., by molding. Any rigid, durable material may be used to form the anchoring member 12 such as a hardened plastic. The axial bore 35 extends through the anchoring member 12, the bore sized to receive a fastener 42 such as a wood screw or the like, the fastener 42 to be selected in accordance with the surface 44 to which the device is secured. Preferably, one end of the bore 35 is chamfered to guide the fastener 42 into and through member 12. The annular spaces 37, 39 between discs 36, 40 and 38 40 are spaced in accordance with the thickness of the strap, specifically, the spaces are slightly greater than twice the thickness of the spaces 37, 39 to allow for the formation of a loop 25 of strap as shown in FIG. 2c.
A key aspect of the invention is the flexibility of the components of the apparatus 10 when used to support positioning objects on vertical surfaces. To that end, apparatus 10 can be applied, in various configurations, to accomplish multiple tasks. For example, a pair of anchoring members 12 may be deployed in laterally spaced relation to secure paintings, posters and other framed items in a standalone mode (without straps 20), with the space 39 between discs 38, 40 serving as a channel or groove within which cables attached to a framing member may be seated. Member 12 may also be used with a pegboard to hang articles. Members 12 may be used with straps 20 to hang objects from overhead (horizontal) supports. Thus it can be seen that the anchoring member 12 may be used as a general purpose anchoring member for supporting various types of articles onto vertical surfaces such as walls.
With particular reference now to FIGS. 1 and 2C, the apparatus 10 is typically deployed on a vertical surface such as a wall, gate, cabinet door, etc. An anchor point 29 is established by inserting two anchoring members into a vertical surface such as a wall 72 using screws 42 and capturing adjacent strap apertures 24 onto the anchor member disc 38 closest to the object supported, then folding a loop 25 of the strap 20 over one of the anchoring members, and capturing the strap 20 with opposing end disc 36 of the anchoring member 12 as shown in FIG. 1 and illustrated diagrammatically in FIG. 2c. The anchoring member 12 may then be secured to the surface by inserting screw 42 into and through anchoring member 12, and then into the surface 72. A suitable length of strap 20 is then placed over the object to be supported and an opposing attachment point 52 is selected, which point may be maintained by simply applying the strap about an end disc 38, after securing the screw 42 of the anchoring member 12 into the surface as described above.
As mentioned above, the apparatus 10 may be configured for many uses, and can be adapted accordingly. Referring now to FIG. 1, an exemplary use is shown. A relatively large object 70 is supported by two of the apparatuses 10. It can be seen in this configuration that three anchoring members 12 are used per strap 20. The uppermost or primary weight bearing end of the strap 20 is looped with a first anchoring member 12 positioned within the loop and secured to a surface 72 through a single strap aperture, and a second anchoring member 12 is secured to the surface 72 through two strap 20 apertures thus forming the loop and also serving as the primary weight bearing attachment point. An additional anchoring member 12 is used as the lowermost attachment to surface 72, in a manner as described above. It can be noted that the apparatus 10 is flexible in that as many or as few straps 20 and anchors 12 as needed can be used depending upon the weight or size of the object to be supported, and may be oriented as necessary depending on the weight, shape, and center of gravity of the object to be supported, unlike conventional brackets which typically provide support only in either a horizontal or vertical plane. Flexible straps 20 allow for conformance to the contour of virtually any object.
Also as mentioned above, an anchoring member 112 with only two discs, 138, 140 may be used as shown in FIG. 3c. This embodiment of the anchoring member 112 is expedient when used as a non or limited weight bearing attachment and allows for quick release of the apparatus. Such an anchoring member may be used for example in the place of lowermost anchoring member 112 as shown in FIG. 1. Discs can be all large diameter to increase resistance to accidental disengagement when heavy objects are supported or movement of the supported article is anticipated. An all large diameter disk anchoring member 212 is shown in cross section in FIG. 3B. Member 212 includes an outer sleeve or portion 231 which is formed of a central post 234 with an axial bore 235 that connects opposing end discs 236, 238 as well as central disc 240, and an inner portion 242 which is a fastener such as a screw or nail. A fourth embodiment of the anchoring member 312 is shown in FIG. 3D, and can be seen to have three discs 336, 338, and 340 of the same diameter, with more axial spacing and slightly thicker discs with rounded edges 239. The discs 336, 338, and 340 are about 25% smaller, the smaller diameter discs 336, 338, 340 allows for easier manipulation of the strap 20 onto the anchoring member 312, to facilitate use by persons with limited hand strength.
The apparatus 10 may also be used as a closure as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. The strap 20 may be looped to align two of the apertures through which an anchoring member 12 is inserted to establish an anchoring point 50, the member then secured to an upper edge vertical surface 44 of a door, fence post etc. Another anchoring member 12 may then be inserted into an adjacent vertical surface 44 of, e.g. a gate 80, which is movable between an open and shut position. A selected aperture of strap 20 is then engaged with the top disc of the anchoring member to form a release point 52 of a closure. A two disc anchoring member 12 may be used for this application. An advantageous feature of this arrangement is that the apparatus may be attached at any position on the gate 80 or door to be secured, and is thus easily placed out of the reach of small children or animals. For example, for an outdoor fence, the apparatus may be positioned at the top of a fence post as shown in FIG. 5, with the release point positioned at the top of the gate to be secured. This arrangement would also allow access from either side of the gate 80. It should be noted that this type of closure does not require alignment of two rigid closure members, which can often be a problem with outdoor fences as warping and other environmental conditions can cause the closure member to get out of alignment resulting in expensive or inconvenient repairs.
The apparatus 10 of the invention would be packaged with an assortment of anchoring members, at least two from each embodiment as described in connection with FIG. 3A-3D, and at least two straps. Preferably, the apparatus 10 is packaged with several of each component with written suggestions as to the best configuration for an intended use. This would allow the user to select the appropriate anchoring members for forming a closure or support useful for an intended application.
From the foregoing description, one skilled in the art can easily ascertain the essential characteristics of this invention and, without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, can make various changes and modifications of the invention to adapt it to various usages and conditions.
It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the sole embodiment described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims:
Patent applications in class By wall anchor
Patent applications in all subclasses By wall anchor