1. A connector for an adjustable railing of the type arranged to be connected at each end to a vertical member and including top and bottom rails and a plurality of pickets arranged in uniform, spaced apart, parallel relationship with opposite ends pivotally connected to said top and bottom rails respectively comprising, in combination, a coupling member for accommodating an end portion of an associated rail, means on said coupling member for releasably retaining said rail end portion on said coupling member, an L-shaped angle bracket of one-piece construction having a pair of leg portions, means for pivotally connecting the outer end of one of said leg portions to said coupling member, the other of said leg portions being arranged for vertically extending, overlying engagement with said vertical member with said one leg portion in a substantially horizontal plane, said other leg portion having an elongate slot formed therein, mounting means extending through said elongate slot for engagement with said vertical member to detachably secure said other leg portion to said vertical member for positioning said bracket in a vertical adjusted position.
2. A connector in accordance with claim 1 wherein said coupling member comprises a thimble-shaped cup member for telescopically accommodating said rail end portion.
3. A railing connector in accordance with claim 2 wherein said cup member includes a continuous side wall and a bottom wall and wherein said connecting means includes a pair of outwardly extending, spaced apart, projections on said cup member bottom wall, a pivot pin extending between supported at each end on said projections and an arcuately shaped outer end portion on said one leg portion for accommodating said pivot pin.
4. A railing connector in accordance with claim 3 wherein said releasable retaining means includes a threaded aperture in said cup member side wall and a set screw threadedly engagable within said aperture and having a forward end for retaining engagement with said rail end portion accommodated within said cup member.
5. A railing connector in accordance with claim 2 wherein said cup member includes a continuous side wall and a bottom wall and wherein said connecting means includes an outwardly extending, centrally arranged projection on said cup member bottom wall, said projection having a transversely extending opening, a pivot pin extending through said transversely extending opening, an arcuately shaped outer end portion on said one leg portion for accommodating said pivot pin, said arcuately shaped outer end portion being provided with a longitudinally extending slot intermediate the side edges of said one leg portion for accommodating said projection for freely pivotal movement of said angle bracket relative to said cup member.
6. A railing connector in accordance with claim 1 wherein said rails are of tubular construction having a bore and wherein said coupling member comprises a plug member arranged to be inserted into the end opening of said rail bore in snug fitting relationship therewith.
This invention relates to adjustable railings and more particularly to a connector for connecting such an adjustable railing to a vertical post at a selected pitch.
One type of metal railing in wide spread use today is that type generally referred to as an "adjustable" railing. Such an adjustable railing includes top and bottom rails, the adjacent sides of which are provided with suitable means such as projections or the like arranged in uniformly spaced, longitudinally extending relationship for pivotally connecting the rails to the opposite ends of a plurality of pickets or stringers arranged in spaced apart, parallel relationship to form a "fence-like" structure. Such a railing is arranged to be connected at its ends to vertical members such as a post, commonly referred to as a newel post, and although such a railing may be used with the rails extended horizontally, it is particularly adapted to be used in association with a sloping surface such as stairs, porch steps, and the like at a selected angle or "pitch." Such present day adjustable railings are frequently marketed as an integral unit comprising assembled rails and pickets ready to be installed on posts by means of suitable connectors.
Many types of adapters or connectors have been proposed for connecting the ends of the rails in such railings to the supporting posts and, by way of example, generally satisfactory results are obtained with such an adapter fitting as shown in U. S. Pat. No 2,687,283 issued to W. L. Enghauser. However, all present day connectors are generally characterized by at least some limitation and consequently do not embody all of the desirable features sought in the use of such adjustable railing connectors. For instance, in one type of railing connector, it is necessary to bevel or miter the ends of the rails at the "pitch" angle at which the railing is installed adding to the cost of installation. Furthermore, such beveling calls for a high degree of skill and the rough, mitered edges of the rails are frequently exposed producing an unattractive outer appearance on the rail. In other present day connectors, considerable skill and time are frequently required to secure the adapters or connectors to the rails as well as to the posts making it difficult to obtain the desired end result of installing the railing at a specific angle or pitch. In addition, many of such present day connectors require the use of an excessive number of parts as well as modification to both the rails and the posts not only adding to the initial cost and installation of such railings but adding further to the difficulty of obtaining the desired railing pitch.
Accordingly, the primary object of this invention is to provide a new and novel connector for an adjustable railing.
Another object of this invention is to provide a new and novel connector for an adjustable railing which permits the adjustable railing to be installed in a simple and easy manner at a selected pitch throughout a wide range using relatively unskilled labor.
A further object of this invention is to provide a new and novel connector for an adjustable railing which is simple and inexpensive in construction, which may be easily secured to the ends of the rails of the railing without modification of the rails, which may be secured to a vertical member such as a newel post or the like in a selected vertical position, which utilizes a minimum of parts and which provides a pleasing and attractive outer appearance on the installed railing.
This invention further contemplates the provision of a new and novel connector for an adjustable railing which eliminates the need for beveling or mitering the ends of the rails, which lends itself to a wide variety of shapes for accommodating rails of any cross-sectional shape and which is rugged and durable in construction so as to be capable of prolonged use without maintenance or breakdown.
Still another object of this invention is to provide a new and novel connector for a unitary, adjustable railing comprising rails and pickets integrally fabricated which permits the unitary railing to be easily and simply installed on supporting posts at any desired pitch throughout a wide range.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.
In general, the object of this invention and other related objects are accomplished by providing a thimble-shaped cup member arranged to telescopically accommodate the end portion of a rail on an adjustable railing which includes top and bottom rails and a plurality of pickets arranged in uniform, spaced apart, parallel relationship with opposite ends pivotally connected to the top and bottom rails respectively. Means are provided on the cup member for releasably retaining the rail end portion on the cup member and an L-shaped angle bracket is provided having a pair of leg portions, one of which is pivotally connected at its outer end to the cup member. The other leg portion is arranged for vertically extending overlying engagement with a vertical member such as a newel post with the one leg portion in a substantially horizontal plane. An elongate slot is provided in the other leg portion for accommodating mounting means extending therethrough for engagement with the post to detachably secure the other leg portion to the post in a vertically adjusted position.
The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, both as to its organization and method of operation may be best understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side elevation view of an installed railing incorporating the connector of the invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of the railing of FIG. 1 illustrating the connector of the invention;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged sectional view taken substantially along line 3--3 of FIG. 1 in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view taken substantially along line 4--4 of FIG. 1 in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged sectional view taken substantially along line 5--5 of FIG. 2 in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 6 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 5 illustrating a modification of the connector of the invention;
FIG. 7 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 5 illustrating another modification of the connector of the invention; and
FIG. 8 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 5 illustrating still another modification of the connector of the invention.
Referring now to the drawings and to FIG. 1 in particular there are shown installed railings incorporating the connector of the invention which are designated generally by the letters R and R'. The adjustable rail R is shown installed in an inclined position at a selected angle or "pitch" on vertical members such as newel posts 11, 12 supported in the conventional manner by means such as base plates 13, 14 respectively on a supporting surface 16 which, in the illustrated embodiment, comprises in part a plurality of steps 17. The adjustable railing R', which is identical in construction to the railing R, is shown supported at one end in a horizontally extending position on the opposite side of post 11 above a horizontal area 16' of the supporting surface 16. As is well known, the adjustable railing R is adapted for installation at any selected angle or "pitch" throughout a wide range and the description which follows, directed to the railing R, is similarly applicable to the construction to the railing R'.
As shown in FIG. 1, the railing R includes top and bottom rails 18, 19 having end portions 18a, 18b and 19a, 19b respectively and may be formed of any desired cross-sectional shape. In the illustrative embodiment, the rails 18, 19 are of hollow or tubular construction but it should be understood that they may be solid if desired.
The railing R also includes a plurality of pickets or stringers 21 which are pivotally connected at opposite ends by means such as pins 22, to projections or ears 23, 24 suitable secured by welding or the like to the bottom and top surfaces 18c, 19c of the top and bottom rails 18, 19 respectively. The ears 23, 24 are arranged in uniform, longitudinally spaced relationship along the rails 18, 19 respectively so as to position the pickets 21 in uniform, spaced apart, parallel relationship in either a horizontal position as shown by the railing R' or in an inclined or sloping position as shown by the railing R.
As specifically illustrative of the invention, the ends of the top and bottom rails 18, 19 are arranged to be pivotally connected to the posts 11, 12 in the installed position by means of connectors C, four of such connectors C being therefore required for installation of each of the railings R, R'. More specifically, as shown best in FIG. 2, the connector C includes a thimble-shaped cup member 26 having a bottom wall 27 and a continuous side wall 28 which define a socket 29 for telescopically accommodating an end portion of the rails 18, 19. As shown, the socket 29 has a cross-sectional shape corresponding to the cross-sectional shape of the associated rail and is dimensioned so as to snugly accommodate the end portion of the rail as shown best in FIG. 5 with reference to the end portion 18a of rail 18.
Means are provided on the cup member 26 for releasably retaining the rail end portion in the cup member 26. More specifically, as shown best in FIG. 4, a threaded aperture 31 is provided in the side wall 28 of the cup member 26 which is arranged to receive a set screw 32 having a forward end 32a. When the set screw 32 is threaded inwardly of the aperture 31, its inner end 32a engages the end portion of the rail positioned within the socket 29 such as end portion 19a of rail 19 securely retaining the rail end portion 19a in the cup member socket 29. Preferably, a protrusion or enlargement 30 is formed in the side wall 28 around the aperture 31 by deforming the wall 28 outwardly or the like to provide additional support for the set screw 32. The protrusion 30 permits the screw 32 to be withdrawn to the extent necessary to for providing clearance for the rail end portion to fully enter the cup member socket 29. Referring now again to FIG. 2, the connector C also includes an L-shaped angle bracket 33 having a pair of leg portions 34, 36. Means are provided for pivotally connecting the outer end of one of the leg portions to the cup member 26. Most specifically, the bottom wall 27 of cup member 26 is provided with a pair of outwardly extending, spaced apart, ears 37, 38 on which a pivot pin 39 is supported at each end. In the embodiment of FIG. 1-5, the ears 37, 38 are preferably the leg portions of a U-shaped member 35 having a bight portion 40. The leg portions or ears 37, 38 extend through suitable apertures 41, 42 in the cup member bottom wall 27 and the bight portion 40 is secured to the bottom wall 27 by welding or the like.
The outer end portion 34a of the leg portion 34 is formed into an arcuate shape and extends around the pivot pin 39 between the ears 37, 38 so that the leg portion 34 and consequently the bracket 33 pivots freely on the pin 39 relative to the cup member 26.
The other leg portion 36 is arranged to be positioned in vertically extending, overlying engagement with a wall of posts 11 or 12 such as the side wall 11a of post 11 with the leg portion 34 extending in a substantially horizontal plane as shown in FIG. 2. An elongate slot is provided in the bracket leg portion 36 and mounting means are provided which extend through the slot 43 for securing the leg portion 36 and consequently the angle bracket 33 in a vertically adjusted position. More specifically, the mounting means include a bolt 44 having a head 44a which is arranged to extend through the slot 43 and suitably provided apertures in the walls of the post 11 which is preferably hollow with the bolt head 44a in engagement with the marginal edge portions of the leg portion 36 adjacent the slot 43. Each of the bolts 44 is arranged to be secured in the mounted position on the post by means of a nut 45. It should be understood that the identical arrangement is provided for securing the brackets 33 of the other connectors C to the post 12.
In the installation of the railing R or of the railing R', each end portion of the rails 18, 19 is inserted within the cup member 26 of a connector C and the set screw 32 is tightened to securely but releasably retain the rail end portion in the socket 29. The railing R is than adjusted for the proper pitch by a selective pivotal movement between the bracket 33 and cup member 26 of each of the connectors C. The angle brackets 33 are then positioned, as shown best in FIG. 2, against the side walls of posts 11, 12 such as the wall 11a of the post 11 and the bolts 44 inserted through slots 43, the post apertures (not shown) and tightened against the posts by the nuts 45. A final adjustment for the railing R may be obtained by the sliding relationship between the bolts 44 and the slots 43 which permits the leg portion 36 to be moved into a selected vertical position thereby properly positioning the railing R in the installed position of FIG. 1. The connectors C associated with post 12 are similarly connected to the railing R and post 12.
FIGS. 6-8 show various modifications of the connector C and in FIG. 6 the ears identified by the numerals 37', 38', are formed integrally with the cup member 26. As shown, the ears 37', 38 are preferably formed by slitting the cup member bottom wall 27 appropriately and bending portions of the bottom wall outwardly to form the ears 37', 38' through which the pin 39' extends. Preferably a web 51 is provided across the opening 52 in the bottom wall 27 remaining after removal of the material from which the ears 37', 38' are formed.
In the embodiment of FIG. 7, only a single ear 53 is provided on the cup member bottom wall 27. In the modification of FIG. 7, a central slot 54 is formed in the arcuate portion 34a of leg portion 34 of the angle bracket 33 which is arranged to accommodate the ear 53 the pivot pin 39 extends through an opening 57 in the ear 53 to provide for pivotal movement of the bracket 33 relative to the cup member 26.
In the embodiment of FIG. 8, a plug member 61 is provided instead of the cup member 26. The plug member 61 has a portion 61a of reduced diameter which provides an annular shoulder 62 the reduced diameter portion 61a is arranged to be snugly inserted within the hollow interior of the associated rail, as shown, with the shoulder 62 in flush engagement with the end edge of the rail. The plug member 61 may be retained on the associated rail by suitable retaining means such as a set screw 32 and spaced ears 63, 64 are provided as in the embodiment of FIGS. 1-5 for supporting the pin 39.
While there has been described what at present is considered to be the preferred embodiment of the invention, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the invention.