Title:
Ground marker
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A ground marker for marking a location on the ground to indicate the location and possibly the orientation of a buried object, such as an underground utility line. The ground marker includes a ground penetrating stake, and a substantially planar marker plate. The stake has at one end a head with a long dimension and a short dimension, and a substantially planar point with outwardly biased barbs at the other end. The marker plate also has a long dimension and a short dimension, and has an opening for receiving the stake, configured such that the long dimension of the stake head will align with the long dimension of the marker plate when the stake is extended through the opening, and such that relative rotation of the stake and marker plate is prevented.



Inventors:
Howard, Michael (Beaufort, SC, US)
Application Number:
09/738498
Publication Date:
06/20/2002
Filing Date:
12/15/2000
Assignee:
HOWARD MICHAEL
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/103
International Classes:
E01F9/011; G09F19/22; (IPC1-7): E04H13/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
REIS, TRAVIS M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David R. McKinney (THORPE, NORTH & WESTERN, LLP P.O. Box 1219, Sandy, UT, 84091-1219, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A ground marker for marking a location on the ground, comprising: a ground penetrating stake, having a stake head at one end thereof, and an insertion end at an opposing end thereof, the insertion end having outwardly biased barbs thereon, and the stake head having a long dimension and a short dimension; a stake shaft disposed between the stake head and the insertion end, the stake shaft having a cross-section with a long axis and a short axis, the long axis being disposed substantially in a plane of the insertion end, and aligned with the long dimension of the stake head; a substantially planar marker plate, having a long dimension and a short dimension, and having an opening therethrough for receiving the stake, the opening being configured such that the long dimension of the stake head and the long axis of the stake shaft will align with the long dimension of the marker plate when the stake is extended through the opening; and interengaging means on the stake shaft and the opening in the marker plate, to prevent relative rotation therebetween.

2. The ground marker of claim 1, wherein the ground marker includes indicia to mark the identity of a buried object.

3. The ground marker of claim 2, wherein the long dimension of the marker plate serves as a directional indicia for indicating an orientation of the buried object.

4. The ground marker of claim 2, further comprising directional indicia disposed on a top surface of the marker plate, indicating an orientation of the buried object.

5. The ground marker of claim 1, wherein the short axis of the stake shaft gradually tapers from a maximum dimension at a location adjacent the head, to a minimum dimension at a location adjacent a distal end of the insertion end.

6. The ground marker of claim 1, further comprising at least one elongate groove disposed in the marker plate and aligned with the long dimension thereof.

7. The ground marker of claim 6, wherein the at least one groove is formed in a bottom surface of the marker plate.

8. The ground marker of claim 1, wherein the stake head is substantially elliptical in shape, and the marker plate is substantially rectangular.

9. The ground marker of claim 1, wherein the insertion end of the stake comprises a substantially planar arrow-head shaped point, and the outwardly biased barbs comprise outwardly projecting integral tabs, which deflect inward when the stake point is driven into the ground, and which deflect outward into the surrounding earth in response to force which would remove the stake from the ground.

10. The ground marker of claim 9, wherein: the stake shaft is substantially cruciform in shape; and the opening in the marker plate has a corresponding substantially cruciform shape to (i) allow passage of the stake shaft, and (ii) prevent relative rotation of the stake and the marker plate, the opening further comprising an elongate extension aligned with the long dimension of the marker plate, for accommodating the substantially planar stake point.

11. The ground marker of claim 1, wherein the marker plate is formed of pultruded fiberglass, and the stake is formed of high density polyethylene (HDPE).

12. A ground marker for indicating the location of underground utilities, comprising: a ground penetrating stake, having an integral impacting head at one end thereof, an integral non-removable point at the other end thereof, and a shaft therebetween, the head having a long dimension and a short dimension, the point having outwardly biased barbs thereon, and the shaft having a long axis and a short axis, the short axis gradually tapering from a maximum dimension at a location adjacent the head to a minimum dimension at a location adjacent the end of the point; a substantially planar marker plate, having a long dimension, and having an opening therethrough for receiving the stake, the opening being configured to permit passage of the point and shaft of the stake, but not permit passage of the head of the stake, the opening shaped to interengage the stake shaft and to prevent relative rotation of the shaft within the opening.

13. The ground marker of claim 12, wherein the long dimension of the marker plate serves as a directional indicia for indicating an orientation of the underground utility.

14. The ground marker of claim 12, further comprising directional indicia disposed on a top surface of the marker plate, indicating an orientation of the underground utility.

15. The ground marker of claim 12, wherein the stake point comprises a substantially planar arrow-head shape, and the outwardly biased barbs comprise outwardly projecting integral tabs, which deflect inward when the stake point is driven into the ground, and which deflect outward into the surrounding earth in response to force which would remove the stake from the ground.

16. The ground marker of claim 15, wherein: the stake shaft has a substantially cruciform shape; and the opening in the marker plate has a corresponding substantially cruciform shape, so as to engage the stake shaft and prevent relative rotation of the stake shaft within the opening, the opening further comprising an elongate portion for accommodating the substantially planar stake point.

17. The ground marker of claim 12, wherein the stake head is substantially elliptical in shape, and the marker plate is substantially rectangular.

18. The ground marker of claim 12, wherein the marker plate is formed of pultruded fiberglass, and the stake is formed of high density polyethylene (HDPE).

19. A ground marker for indicating the location of buried objects, comprising: a ground penetrating stake, having an integral impacting head at one end thereof, an integral non-removable arrowhead shaped point at the other end thereof, and a shaft therebetween, the head being substantially elliptical in shape, the point having outwardly biased barbs disposed rearwardly on the arrowhead shape, and the shaft having a long axis and a short axis, the short axis gradually tapering from a maximum dimension at a location adjacent the head, to a minimum dimension at a location adjacent the point; a substantially planar marker plate, having a long dimension and a short dimension, and having an opening therethrough for receiving the stake, the opening being configured to permit passage of the shaft of the stake, but not to permit passage of the head, and oriented such that the long dimension of the stake head will align with the long dimension of the marker plate when the stake is extended through the opening; and interengaging means on the stake and the marker plate to prevent relative rotation therebetween.

20. The ground marker of claim 19, wherein the interengaging means comprises: the stake shaft having a substantially cruciform shape; and the opening in the marker plate having a corresponding substantially cruciform shape to (i) allow passage of the stake shaft, and (ii) prevent relative rotation of the stake and the marker plate, the opening further comprising an elongate extension aligned with the long dimension of the marker plate, for accommodating the substantially planar stake point.

Description:

BACKGROUND

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to devices for marking locations on the ground. More particularly, the present invention relates to a weather resistant ground marker which is easy to install and difficult to remove.

[0003] 2. Discussion of the Art

[0004] There are many devices which have been contrived to mark locations on the ground, such as property lines, buried water lines, gas lines, etc. Most of these comprise an upright post with markings identifying the specific nature of the buried object therebeneath—e.g. gas line, electric cable, etc. Other types include some sort of stake which holds down a cap or marker. In some cases, the marker includes a directional indicator, such as an arrow, etc., intended to show the direction of the buried utility line.

[0005] It is desirable to have a ground marker device which includes a ground stake which is designed with barbs, etc. so as to resist removal from the ground. It would also be desirable to have a ground marker which provides additional resistance to removal through interaction of the ground stake and the marker. It is also desirable to have a directional indicator included as part of the marker.

SUMMARY

[0006] It is therefore an advantage of the present invention to provide a ground marker having a ground penetrating stake with an integral head which is configured to resist uplift applied against the marker plate.

[0007] It is another advantage of this invention to provide a ground marker in which the shape of the marker plate provides a directional indication.

[0008] The above and other advantages are realized in a ground marker for marking a location on the ground, comprising a ground penetrating stake, and a substantially planar marker plate. The stake has a head at one end, and a substantially planar insertion end at the other end. The head has a long dimension and a short dimension, and the insertion end has outwardly biased barbs which allow the insertion end to be driven into the ground, but resist removal. The marker plate also has a long dimension and a short dimension, and has an opening for receiving the stake, the opening being configured such that the long dimension of the stake head will align with the long dimension of the marker plate when the stake is extended through the opening, and such that relative rotation of the stake and marker plate is prevented. The marker plate may be placed upon the ground such that the long dimension indicates the orientation of a buried object. The marker plate may also have directional indicia disposed on a top surface thereof.

[0009] Other advantages and features of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art, based on the following description, taken in combination with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of the ground marker of the present invention;

[0011] FIG. 2A is a plan view of the marker plate with the ground stake inserted therethrough;

[0012] FIG. 2B is a front elevational view of the ground stake;

[0013] FIG. 2C is a side elevational view of the ground stake shown inserted through the cross-section of the marker plate;

[0014] FIG. 3A is a cross-sectional view of the stake taken through line 3A of FIG. 2B;

[0015] FIG. 3B is a cross-sectional view of the stake taken through line 3B of FIG. 2B; and

[0016] FIG. 3C is a cross-sectional view of the stake taken through line 3C of FIG. 2B.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0017] Reference will now be made to the drawings in which the various elements of the present invention will be given numeral designations and in which the invention will be discussed so as to enable one skilled in the art to make and use the invention. It is to be understood that the following description is only exemplary of the principles of the present invention, and should not be viewed as narrowing the pending claims.

[0018] The ground marker 10 of the present invention generally comprises a marker plate 12 in combination with a ground penetrating stake 14, for marking a location on the ground, such as a location above an underground object 70 (see FIG. 1), such as a buried gas, water, sewer, electrical, or communication line. The stake 14 is a ground penetrating device having a stake head 16 at one end, a substantially planar insertion end 18 at an opposing end thereof, and a stake shaft 20 interconnecting the stake head and the insertion end. The stake head, shaft, and insertion end are preferably integrally formed as a single piece of relatively hard, durable material. High density polyethylene (HDPE) is preferred, but any material which is generally impact resistant, sunlight and weather resistant, and otherwise suited for use as a permanent or semi-permanent ground-penetrating stake may be used.

[0019] The top surface 22 of the stake head is configured to be struck with a hammer or other device for driving the stake into the ground. It will be apparent that the stake head must necessarily be relatively thick and made of impact resistant material to serve this function. The stake head 16 is preferably elliptical in shape, having a long dimension Xh and a short dimension Yh, and a chamfer 24 formed around its top edge. The orientation of the long dimension and short dimension relative to the marker plate are discussed in more detail below.

[0020] In the embodiment shown in the drawings, the stake shaft generally comprises a tapering planar element 26, with a tapering rib 28 disposed normal to said planar element. With this configuration, the stake shaft 20 has a generally cruciform cross-section, with a long axis Xs and a short axis Ys, which are aligned with the long dimension Xh and short dimension Yh, of the stake head, respectively. The long axis Xs of the shaft (representing the long dimension of the planar element 26) is also aligned with the plane of the insertion end 18. Other cross-sectional shapes may also be used for the stake shaft. Almost any shape other than circular will be suitable, as discussed below.

[0021] As can be seen from the drawings, the rib 28 gradually tapers from a maximum dimension at a location near the head 16, to become completely flush with the face of the insertion end 18 near the point of the insertion end. The planar element 26 also tapers from a maximum dimension near the stake head, to a minimum dimension immediately adjacent to the connection of the insertion end, approximately at the location of Section 3C. This tapering configuration tends to reduce the force required to drive the stake into the ground, while allowing the strength of the stake shaft to be greatest toward the head.

[0022] Both the planar element 26 and rib 28 have outwardly flaring flanges 30 immediately below the bottom surface 32 of the stake head, so as to provide additional strength in the area where the driving impact will be applied. These flanges also engage the marker plate 12, as described in more detail below.

[0023] The insertion end 18 of the stake preferably comprises an arrowhead shaped point 34 that is integrally formed with the planar element 26 of stake shaft 20, and is non-removable. The top portion of the point 34 includes outwardly biased barbs 38, which are outwardly projecting integral tabs, formed as part of the point. These barbs are configured to extend to a width Wp approximately equal to or slightly smaller that the width Wf of the flange 30 of the planar element 26. The barbs deflect inward slightly when the insertion end is driven into the ground, but tend to deflect outward slightly and hook into the surrounding earth in response to any force which would tend to remove the stake from the ground. In the cross-sectional view of FIG. 3C, the gap 40 between the shaft and the barbs is visible. While the preferred shape of the insertion end is that of an arrowhead shaped point as shown, other shapes may also be used. For example, the insertion end 18 may comprise a broad flat blade, rather than a point, or any other shape which may be driven into the ground.

[0024] The marker plate 12 generally comprises a substantially planar piece of durable, weather resistant material, preferably fiberglass, having a top surface 42 and a bottom surface 44. While other materials may be used, fiberglass is preferred because it is relatively rigid, it is low in cost, and it is generally resistant to moisture, cold, sunlight, corrosive soil, and other potentially adverse conditions it may encounter. Additionally, the preferred marker plate may be formed through a pultrusion process, as is well known in the art. In this process, several elongate fibers are aligned with the long dimension of the plate, and are pulled through a pultrusion die in combination with fiberglass resin incorporating an appropriate quantity of randomly oriented fibers. The resulting plate of fiberglass assumes a cross-sectional shape that is the same as the shape of the die, which is cured into a very rigid and resilient piece.

[0025] The marker plate 12 preferably is formed in a substantially rectangular shape, having a long dimension L and a short dimension W. In one illustrative embodiment, the length L is approximately 14 inches, the width W is approximately 4 inches, and the plate is approximately ¼ inch thick. It will be apparent, however, that the actual dimensions of the marker plate may vary widely.

[0026] An opening 46 is formed through a central portion of the marker plate from the top surface 42 to the bottom surface 44, and is configured for receiving the stake 14. The opening 46 preferably has a generally cruciform shape, which corresponds to the cross-sectional shape of the top of the shaft 20 of the stake. The opening is configured with a longer portion 48, configured for receiving the flange 30 associated with the planar element 26 of the stake shaft, and a shorter portion 50 configured for receiving the flange 30 associated with the rib 28. This orientation allows the long dimension Xh of the stake head 16 and the long axis XS of the stake shaft to align with the long dimension L of the marker plate when the stake is extended through the opening.

[0027] As noted above, the barbs 38 have a width Wp which is approximately equal to or slightly smaller that the width Wf of the flange 30 of the planar element 26. Accordingly, the insertion end 18 will easily pass through the longer portion 46 of the opening, allowing the shaft 20 to pass therethrough until the top surface 42 of the marker plate 12 contacts the bottom surface 32 of the stake head 14, and flanges 30 substantially fill the opening 46.

[0028] The matching shape of the opening 46 relative to the cross-section of the top portion of the stake shaft 20 allows the stake shaft and the opening to mechanically engage each other, such that the stake 14 is prevented from rotating within the opening. Accordingly, when the stake is driven into the ground at a particular orientation, the orientation of the long dimension L of the marker plate will be fixed relative to the stake, which cannot rotate because of the generally planar shape of the insertion end 18. This feature of the invention allows the long dimension L of the marker plate 12 to serve as a directional indicator for indicating the orientation of the buried object. Moreover, the large and easily visible nature of the marker plate makes it visible from a relatively long distance away, such as from a moving vehicle or an aircraft.

[0029] The marker plate 12 includes several elongate grooves 52 formed in its bottom surface 44. These are aligned with the long dimension L of the plate and provide increased friction with the ground to prevent rotation of the marker plate. For example, these grooves will help grip sand, grass, etc. which is disposed within the grooves below the marker plate.

[0030] As shown in the drawings, the marker may include directional or other indicia 60 on its top surface 42. For example, the marker may include a written message indicating the purpose of the marker, such as a warning message 62 regarding a buried utility line, to encourage care when digging. It may include one or more arrows 64 indicating the direction of the utility line, or indicating the flow direction of a buried drainage or wastewater pipeline. It may also include a telephone number, a warning about possible legal liability for removing the marker without authorization, etc. Any message is possible. These indicia may be applied to the top surface of the marker plate through painting, silk screening, or other similar means, or the indicia may be integrally formed in the body of the plate, such as through stamping, injection molding, engraving, etc. Any method which will produce durable numbers, letters, or other symbols may be used.

[0031] The ground marker of the present invention may be used to mark any location on the ground, including property lines, property corners, but is preferably useful for marking the location of buried objects 70 (FIG. 1), such as underground utilities, including gas, water, sewer, electrical, and communication lines. Its durable construction makes it resistant to adverse weather conditions, and the configuration of the stake makes it difficult to remove, thus providing a relatively permanent marker of unseen things. Moreover, the preferably elongated configuration of the marker plate allows the orientation of the device to be oriented in line with an underground object, such as a pipeline or cable, and this orientational feature is visible from a relatively long distance away.

[0032] It is to be understood that the above-described arrangements are only illustrative of the application of the principles of the present invention. Numerous modifications and alternative arrangements may be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and the appended claims are intended to cover such modifications and arrangements.