Title:
Headstone support brace
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A headstone brace has a first side brace having a channel along a portion of the first side brace, a second side brace having a channel along a portion of the second side brace where the second side brace is in an opposed and spaced channel-facing relationship with the first side brace, and at least one back brace secured on one end to the first side brace and on the other end to the second side brace where the headstone brace when attached to a headstone allows viewing of any inscriptions or artwork on the front of the headstone.



Inventors:
Nelson, Lars (Goshen, NH, US)
Application Number:
10/079278
Publication Date:
08/21/2003
Filing Date:
02/20/2002
Assignee:
NELSON LARS
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/105, 52/104
International Classes:
E04H13/00; (IPC1-7): E04H13/00; E01F9/011
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FITZGERALD, JOHN P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MESMER & DELEAULT, PLLC (41 BROOK STREET, MANCHESTER, NH, 03104, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A headstone brace comprising: a first side brace having a channel defined along a portion of said first side brace; a second side brace having a channel defined along a portion of said second side brace wherein said second side brace is in an opposed and spaced channel-facing relationship with said first side brace; and at least one back brace secured on one end to said first side brace and on the other end to said second side brace wherein said headstone brace when attached to a headstone allows viewing of any inscriptions or artwork on said headstone.

2. The headstone brace of claim 1 wherein said first side brace and said second side brace each has a base member, a front leg member and a back leg member wherein said front leg member and said back leg member defines said channel.

3. The headstone brace of claim 1 wherein said channel has a width greater than the thickness of said headstone.

4. The headstone brace of claim 1 wherein said back brace has at least one slot adjacent each end.

5. The headstone brace of claim 4 wherein the length of said slot is parallel with the length of said back brace.

6. The headstone brace of claim 2 wherein said back leg member is wider than said front leg member.

7. The headstone brace of claim 2 wherein said back leg member has a plurality of notches.

8. The headstone brace of claim 1 wherein said brace is made of a durable material.

9. A headstone brace kit comprising: a pair of side braces wherein each side brace has a channel for receiving the side edges of a headstone; and at least one back brace having first and second ends wherein each end is adapted to be attached to one of said pair of side braces.

10. The kit of claim 9 further comprising fastening hardware for securing said at least one back brace to said pair of side braces.

11. The kit of claim 9 further comprising at least one shim for placement between said side braces and said headstone.

12. The kit of claim 9 wherein each of said side braces is U-shaped.

13. The kit of claim 12 wherein each of said side braces has a base member, a front member and a back member.

14. The kit of claim 13 wherein said back member is wider than said front member.

15. The kit of claim 13 wherein said back member is notched.

16. A method of reinforcing a headstone, said method comprising: placing a channel of a first side brace onto a side edge of a headstone; placing a channel of a second side brace onto the other side edge of said headstone; and attaching one end of a back brace to said first side brace and the other end to said second side brace.

17. The method of claim 16 further comprising pulling said first side brace and said second side brace towards each other creating a snug fit of said headstone brace to said headstone.

18. The method of claim 16 further comprising adding at least one shim between said headstone and said one or more of said side braces.

19. A method of reinforcing a headstone comprising: pre-assembling one end of at least one back brace to a first side brace having a channel along a portion of said first side brace and the other end to a second side brace having a channel along a portion of said second side brace wherein said channels of said first and second side braces are facing each other, said pre-assembly forming a headstone brace; and sliding said pre-assembled headstone brace onto said headstone.

20. The method of claim 19 further comprising pulling said first side brace and said second side brace towards each other creating a snug fit of said headstone brace to said headstone.

21. The method of claim 19 further comprising securing said back brace to said first and second side braces.

22. The method of claim 19 further comprising adding at least one shim between said headstone and said one or more of said side braces.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to an apparatus and method for restoring or repairing broken headstones. Particularly, this invention relates to a mechanical method of restoring or repairing broken headstones.

[0003] 2. Description of Prior Art

[0004] Headstones, also typically referred to as tombstones, grave markers or gravestones, come in a variety of shapes, sizes and surfaces. Older headstones are typically a single 1″ to 4″ thick rectangular stone slab erected vertically above a gravesite. Headstones are generally unprotected from environmental forces including acidic precipitation, freezing, wind, temperature fluctuation, and invasive plant growth. These environmental factors, in addition to damage caused by accident or vandalism, results in headstones that are broken, cracked, delaminated, deteriorated, or otherwise structurally unsound. Damaged headstones are visually unappealing, highly susceptible to further damage, a safety risk, and distressing to relatives. Older headstones have much historical, artistic and sentimental value. A method of preservation that does not result in further violation to the integrity of the headstone is needed.

[0005] Present methods of repairing broken or cracked headstones include adhesives or epoxies which themselves, after application, become exposed to the harsh environmental conditions and begin their own deterioration. Epoxies often require construction of temporary braces or supplemental pinning. In addition, such adhesives and epoxies typically require moderate temperatures and dry conditions for application thus, prohibiting year round headstone restoration. Epoxy is also recommended only for use on stone that is of sound quality. There are only a few devices in the prior art which attempt to solve this problem without the limited, practical application of adhesives and epoxies.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,436 (1998, J. Nota), discloses a support structure into which a substantially horizontal grave marker is placed. This structure, with the grave marker enclosed, is positioned into the earth. The structure elevates the grave marker, preventing it from sinking into the ground after repeated exposure to harsh environmental conditions and holds broken or cracked pieces together. While this structure works well for horizontal headstones, it does not provide a means for supporting vertical headstones nor can it be adapted to do so.

[0007] European Patent No. EP 0 890 692 A1 (1999, D. Caumont) discloses a supporting mechanism for vertical headstones. This device not only supports the headstone at a slight inclination but also requires bolts or screw to be inserted into the headstone. While this device may be well suited for use with newer headstones made of durable materials, older headstones, which are usually simple slate, limestone, marble, or sandstone slabs, may crack further or fall apart if subjected to a drilling mechanism. Further, this device does not provide a supporting structure for containing or holding pieces of a broken headstone together.

[0008] Therefore, what is needed is an apparatus capable of supporting a broken, cracked or deteriorated headstone in its intended vertical configuration so that it remains structurally sound and intact. What is further needed is a supporting device for a broken, cracked or deteriorated headstone that is simple, easy to install and remove, and does not require particular environmental conditions or supplemental supports. What is further needed is a device that will not interfere with the viewing of the engravings or artwork. Yet what is also needed is a noninvasive supporting device that will not cause further damage to the headstone when installed or removed. What is also needed is a device that will stand up to long term continual use and will not be affected by harsh environmental conditions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] Harsh environmental conditions, accidental damage and vandalism result in the breakage and deterioration of headstones. It is an object of the present invention to provide a device that will contain broken pieces of a headstone or support a cracked or otherwise deteriorated headstone in its intended vertical position and original configuration above the grave. It is a further object of the present invention to provide noninvasive support to the vertical headstone such that its use protects the integrity of the headstone and does not result in further damage to the headstone. Yet it is still a further object of the present invention to provide a brace for broken, cracked or deteriorated headstone that does not impair the viewing of any inscription or artwork that may be on the headstone.

[0010] The present invention achieves these and other objectives by providing a structural supporting device, which includes at least a pair of side braces and at least one back brace, that is installed around the edges and back of a broken or deteriorating headstone. The device is simple and preferably includes two side channels, two back braces and eight fastening devices. The side channels have a base and a pair of upturned sides creating a channel sized to receive the sides of a headstone. In other configurations, the device may include only one back brace or any number of back braces, and may have as few as two fastening devices or any number of fastening devices. The side channels and back braces are manufactured to accommodate the width, height and thickness of the more typical older headstones, however, they may also be custom manufactured to fit any size headstone. Accordingly, if a headstone of a size other than a typical older headstone is desired to be reinforced, its overall width, height and thickness must be measured before the back braces and side channels are manufactured.

[0011] Regardless of the size of the headstone to be restored, the side channels are manufactured to a width only slightly wider than the headstone thickness. In other words, the side channels will fit snuggly around the side edges of the headstone. The side channels are also manufactured to such a length that when their bottoms rest on the headstone base, or the earth, their tops stop approximately two inches from the top or the beginning of any top curvature in the headstone. This embodiment ensures that there will be no visual interference with the natural shape of the headstone. The length of either side channel may be varied depending on visual preference and where the breakage is located.

[0012] The back braces are manufactured to a length such that they are the same length as the measured width of the headstone and are preferably two inches wide. However, the back braces may be of any desired or necessary width to provide proper support. The back braces may also be longer or shorter depending on the depth or configuration of the side channels used. For instance, the side channels may be configured to have a U-shape or an uneven U-shape where the back leg of the U-shaped channel is narrower than the front leg. In any event, it is desirable to have the back braces equal to or less the width of the headstone so that they do not protrude out the sides of the headstone. It is also desirable to have the back braces of such a width as to adequately provide support to the broken pieces of the headstone.

[0013] The back braces are assembled to the side channels using fastening components such as screws and bolts. Each side channel has drilled and tapped holes located on one of its sides, while each back brace has slotted holes on each horizontal end. The number of holes per side channel as well as the number of slots per back brace can vary, however, a pair of drilled and tapped holes located on the top and bottom of each side channel and two slotted holes on each end of each back brace are preferred. Accordingly, there are a total of four drilled and tapped holes per side channel. Likewise, there are a total of four slots per brace. This allows for adjustment in the width of the finished brace so that it is easy to install and fits tightly against the sides of the headstone.

[0014] To assemble the device, the side braces are laid parallel to each other such that the drilled and tapped holes are facing upwards and the channels are facing each other. A back brace is then set transverse and on top of the pair of side channels, although, a back brace may be set diagonally across the top of the pair of side channels. The slots in the back braces are aligned with the holes in the side channels. A short screw or bolt is installed through each slot in the back brace and threaded into its aligned hole in the side channel until it is secure, but loose enough to allow for adjustment of the side channels and back braces. The same process is repeated for each back brace used.

[0015] To restore and reinforce a headstone broken into pieces, the headstone is removed from its base and reconfigured on a flat level surface. The bottom-most broken piece of the headstone is reinstalled onto the base of the headstone or the earth. The loosely assembled brace is slid over and around the reinstalled bottom piece of the headstone such that the channels of the side braces slide over the sides of the headstone bottom piece and the back braces transverse the backside of the headstone, i.e. the side opposite any inscriptions. The remaining pieces of the headstone are then placed into the brace and located in their proper position.

[0016] After all pieces of the headstone are in place within the brace, the side channels are pushed or pulled tightly towards each other and the screws or bolts are tightened in place. If the brace is still loose about the headstone after tightening the screws or bolts, shims may be placed between the side channels and the headstone until it is secure.

[0017] If the headstone is not broken in pieces, but rather just cracked, the assembled brace is simply slid over the headstone in the same manner described above until the side braces bottom out on the headstone base or the earth. The channels of the side braces are fitted tightly around the headstone as described above and the screws are tightened in place.

[0018] Further objects and advantages of this invention will be more clearly apparent during the course of the following description, references being made to the accompanying drawings which illustrate a preferred form of the device of the invention and wherein like characters of reference designate like parts throughout the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] FIG. 1 is a perspective, back view of the present invention installed on a headstone.

[0020] FIG. 2 is a front view of the present invention shown in FIG. 1.

[0021] FIG. 3 is a top view of a side channel of the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 4 is a top view of another embodiment of the side channel of the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 5 is a back view of another embodiment of the side braces of the present invention showing the tabs and notches of the side brace.

[0024] FIG. 6 is a back view of the side braces of the present invention showing the assembly holes of the side brace.

[0025] FIG. 7 is an enlarged partial view of an end of a back brace of the present invention showing the slots for connecting to the side braces.

[0026] FIG. 8 is a partial view of another embodiment of the present invention showing a different attachment configuration of the side and back braces.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0027] For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, references will now be made to the preferred embodiment of the present invention as illustrated in FIGS. 1-8, and specific language used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. The terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and not limitation. Any modifications or variations in the depicted method or device, and such further applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated therein, as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates are considered to be within the spirit of the invention.

[0028] Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a perspective, back view of the assembled headstone brace 10 as seen when looking at headstone 1 from the backside. The preferred embodiment of headstone brace 10 includes two side braces 12 and 14, two back braces 20 and 22 and a plurality of fastening devices 40, preferably eight. However, there could be only one back brace or any multiple of back braces, and any number of fastening devices. Side braces 12 and 14 are preferably identical and interchangeable. Back braces 20 and 22 are also preferably identical and fully interchangeable. It is appreciated, however, that side braces 12 and 14 and back braces 20 and 22 may vary in size and may not be identical in shape or be fully interchangeable. Headstone brace 10 may be standardized to fit a standard size older headstone 1, or it could be custom made to fit any size headstone 1. If a custom brace 10 is desired, the thickness, width and height, of headstone 1 are measured. Side braces 12 and 14 and back braces 20 and 22 are then manufactured accordingly.

[0029] FIG. 2 shows a front view of the present invention assembled onto headstone 1. As shown, side braces 12 and 14 hold the various pieces of headstone 1 but allow an unobstructed view of the inscriptions 4. Regardless whether brace 10 is custom-manufactured or a standardized size, side braces 12 and 14 are preferably manufactured to a width only slightly wider than the thickness of headstone 1. In the preferred embodiment, side braces 12 and 14 fit snuggly around the side edges of headstone 1 and are of such a length that when their bottom rests on the base 2 of headstone 1, or the earth, their top stops approximately two inches from the top of the side edges or from the beginning of any top curvature 3 in headstone 1. This embodiment ensures that there will be no interference with the natural shape of headstone 1. Of course, if headstone 1 has cracks in any area above the top end of side braces 12 and 14, the length of the side channels may be extended and/or modified.

[0030] Also, it is appreciated that, in other embodiments, the length and width of side braces 12 and 14 may vary to accommodate personal preferences or a different configuration of brace 10. For instance, in another embodiment, side braces 12 and 14 could be relatively short and brace 10 could employ several sets of side braces 12 and 14 along the side or top edges of headstone 1.

[0031] As shown in FIG. 3, side braces 12 and 14 are three sided and include a base member 30 and parallel front and back leg members 31 and 32, respectively. In the preferred embodiment, the inside channel 33 defined by base member 30 and parallel front and back leg members 31 and 32 is slightly wider than the thickness of headstone 1. Parallel front and back members 31 and 32 are approximately one inch wide creating a channel depth of approximately one inch. Side braces 12 and 14 are made from a long lasting material which can withstand years of exposure to a variety of weather conditions and will not cause damage to headstone 1 when installed. The preferred material for side braces 12 and 14 is a ⅛-inch thick, i.e. eleven gauge, aluminum.

[0032] It is appreciated that front and back leg members 31 and 32 may be of some other width, but should not be of such a width as to cover up inscriptions or artwork on headstone 1. Preferably, the width of front leg member 31 should be minimal to preserve as much of the original appearance when viewed from the front of headstone 1 as is possible. Front and back leg members 31 and 32 may be of different widths as shown in FIG. 4 where back leg member 32′ is wider than front leg member 31. Additionally, it is appreciated that in other embodiments, front and back leg members 31 and 32 as well as base member 30 may be perforated. It is also noted that front and back leg members 31 and 32 may not be continuous but have tabs 35 or have open spaces along their length forming notches 34, as shown in FIG. 5, such that they cover only a minimal amount of the front and back of headstone 1. Also in other embodiments, any number of side braces 14 and 16 may be used. Regardless of the size or number of side braces 14 and 16 used, they may be located anywhere along the edges of headstone 1 when brace 10 is installed.

[0033] As shown in FIG. 6, side braces 12 and 14 each has holes 16 and 18 located on back leg member 32. However, one hole or a plurality of holes may be substituted for the two holes shown. Holes 16 and 18 may also be located on both front and back leg members 31 and 32 of side braces 12 and 14. In other words, there could be any number of holes in front and back leg members 31 and 32 to facilitate the placement of back braces 20 and 22 at any number of locations along side braces 12 and 14.

[0034] Holes 16 are located a short distance from the top end of back leg member 32, while holes 18 are located a short distance from the bottom end of back leg member 32. Both holes 16 and 18 are preferably drilled and tapped to accept screws or bolts. More preferably, holes 16 and 18 are drilled and tapped to accept a #10×32 machine screw although any another size screw or bolt may be used.

[0035] If holes 16 or 18 each include a set of two or more holes, they are ideally located a predetermined distance apart from one another, which is substantially less than the height of any back brace 20 or 22 used in brace 10. For example, in the preferred embodiment, a pair of holes are each used for holes 16 and 18 and their centers are located on side braces 14 and 16 approximately one and one-quarter (1¼) inches apart from each other when the width of back brace 20 and 22 is two (2) inches. In addition, the center of the hole nearest the top and bottom edges of side braces 12 and 14 are ideally located only a short distance from their respective top and bottom edges. In the preferred embodiment, this distance is approximately 1⅜ of an inch from the respective ends of side braces 12 and 14.

[0036] As shown in FIG. 1, back braces 20 and 22 are identical rectangular plates preferably made of the same material and of the same thickness as side braces 12 and 14. Back braces 20 and 22 preferably have a width that exceeds the predetermined distance between the holes in holes 16 and 18, as previously discussed. Also in the preferred embodiment, back braces 20 and 22 are preferably two inches wide with a length that is slightly smaller than that of the measured width of headstone 1 to which headstone brace 10 is to be installed.

[0037] In other embodiments, however, brace 10 could employ only one back brace 20 or 22 or any multiple of back braces 20 and 22. Additionally, any back brace used could vary in width or length depending on the width of back leg member 32 of side channels 12 and 14, or depending on how they attach to side braces 12 and 14. Back braces 20 and 22, however, are preferably of a length such that they do not extend beyond base member 30 at the sides of headstone 1 when brace 10 is installed. They are also of a sufficient length and width as to provide adequate support strength to hold broken or cracked pieces of headstone 1 in place.

[0038] Turning to FIG. 7, an enlarged view of an end portion of back brace 20 or 22 is shown. As can be seen, each end portion of back brace 20 and 22 has two parallel slots 24 and 26. It should be understood, however, that the number of slots is not critical and that one or a plurality of slots may be used. Each slot 24 and 26 is of a length that will provide horizontal adjustability to headstone brace 10 as well as a means for tightening headstone brace 10 to headstone 1. Preferably, each slot 24 and 26 is ½ inch long, but it is appreciated that the slots may be of any other length. It is obvious to those skilled in the art that the width of the slots will be dependent on the size of the fastening device used to secure back braces 20 and 22 to side braces 12 and 14.

[0039] If each end of back brace 20 or 22 has more than one slot, the center of each is ideally located apart from each other the same predetermined distance as the distance between the holes in holes 16 and 18. This ensures that slots 24 and 26 will align with the holes 16 and 18 when headstone brace 10 is assembled.

[0040] To assemble headstone brace 10, side braces 12 and 14 are positioned away from headstone 1 such that each is laying flat on front leg member 31, which does not contain holes 16 and 18. In other words, holes 16 and 18 are positioned face up with the channels 33 of side braces 12 and 14 facing each other. Back brace 20 is then positioned on, and transverse to, side braces 12 and 14 such that slots 24 and 26 at each end of back brace 20 are aligned with holes 16 on side brace 12 and 14. Back brace 22 is then positioned on top of, and transverse to, side braces 12 and 14 such that slots 24 and 26 at each end of back brace 22 are aligned with holes 18 on side brace 12 and 14. At least one of each of the plurality of fastening devices 40 is loosely inserted through a slot and into a corresponding hole.

[0041] To assemble other embodiments of brace 10 which employ a plurality of back braces 20 and 22, this same procedure of aligning slots to holes is repeated for each back brace used. In addition, the back braces employed in other embodiments may not be positioned transversely on top of side braces 12 and 14 but may in fact be placed diagonally on top of them or at some other angle or direction.

[0042] Once all the slots in back braces 20 and 22 are aligned to all the holes in side braces 12 and 14 in the position desired, headstone brace 10 is secured loosely in this position by lightly tightening fastening devices 40 such as screws into each hole-slot alignment. Fastening devices 40 are preferably identical and should be of such a length as not to exceed the combined thickness of back leg member 32 of side braces 12 and 14 and back brace 20. For example, in the preferred embodiment, side braces 12 and 14 and back braces 20 and 22 are ⅛ inch thick, thus fastening devices 40 are preferably screws with a ¼ inch length. Bolts or any other fastening device known in the field may be substituted for screws.

[0043] Headstone brace 10 may be installed on headstone 1 if headstone 1 is either cracked or broken in pieces. If headstone 1 is in pieces, then the lower broken pieces are first assembled onto the base 2 of headstone 1, if any, or onto the earth. Next, loosely assembled headstone brace 10 is slid over the base pieces of headstone 1 such that back braces 20 and 22 will be positioned on the back side of headstone 1 or on the side opposite the majority of any inscriptions or artwork on headstone 1. In addition, the side edges of headstone 1 should be inside the channels 33 of side braces 12 and 14. Headstone brace 10 should be slid over headstone 1 until side braces 12 and 14 bottom out on the earth or the headstone base 2.

[0044] If headstone 1 contains more broken pieces than the pieces already in place, they are in turn placed into headstone brace 10 and positioned accordingly. Once all the broken pieces of headstone 1 are positioned in place, side braces 12 and 14 are pushed or pulled toward each other to tighten the pieces of headstone 1 together. Finally, fastening devices 40 are tightened in place.

[0045] If headstone 1 is only cracked or otherwise structurally unsound, then loosely assemble headstone brace 10 is simply slid over the sides of headstone 1 such that the side edges of headstone 1 are located within the channels 33 of side braces 12 and 14 and slid down until the bottoms of side braces 12 and 14 are seated on the base 2 of headstone 1 or the earth. Side braces 12 and 14 are then pushed or pulled towards each other and fastening devices 40 are tightened in place.

[0046] If, after installation of headstone brace 10, headstone 1 or pieces of headstone 1 appear loose, one or more of a plurality of shims 50, as shown in FIG. 1 as hidden behind back leg member 32, may be inserted between headstone 1 and back leg members 32 of side braces 12 and 14 as needed to achieve a secure fit.

[0047] FIG. 8 shows another embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, headstone brace 100 includes a first side brace 112 and a second side brace 114 on which is permanently affixed a back brace 120 and 120′. Back braces 120 and 120′ have an adjustable hole-slot combination 160 and 160′, respectively, near the ends of back braces 120 and 120′ furthest from first and second side braces 112 and 114. Back braces 120 and 120′ are permanently affixed to first and second side braces 112 and 114, respectively, by welding, brazing or other means know in the art. Back braces 120 and 120′ are welded on side braces 112 and 114 such that back braces 120 and 120′ align with each other for assembly. As previously disclosed, side braces 112 and 114 may be of any length, may be continuous or otherwise tab like such as having a plurality of notches, and brace 10 may employ a set or any number of side channels 14 and 16.

[0048] Brace 100 is assembled by aligning side channel 112 and 114 with back braces 120 and 120′ such that slots 160′ and holes 160 align with each other. Once slots 160′ are aligned with holes 160, brace 100 is secured loosely in this position by lightly tightening fastening devices into the hole-slot alignments. It is appreciated that, instead of the hole-slot-fastening device combination, some other means known in the art of fastening two removable sections of metal together may be used. Brace 100 is then installed onto a headstone in the similar manner as previously described.

[0049] Other embodiments of brace 10 may include securing back brace 20 or 22 to side channels 12 and 14 by any other method known in the art for securing two pieces of metal together. This may included affixing raised tabs on side channels 12 and 14 into which back braces 20 and 22 would be inserted and secured in place, or manufacturing slots in the sides of back member 32 of side braces 12 and 14 into which back braces 20 and 22 would be inserted and secured in place, or clamping back braces 20 and 22 to side braces 12 and 14.