Title:
Louvered dock system with roost inhibitor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides for a modular dock system with louvered planks which can be rotated away from their horizontal configuration. The planks have bristles along their upper edge to discourage bird roosting.



Inventors:
Waldron, Robert (Lake Angelus, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/295578
Publication Date:
05/20/2004
Filing Date:
11/14/2002
Assignee:
WALDRON ROBERT
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
114/263, 405/218
International Classes:
A01M29/32; E02B3/06; (IPC1-7): B63C1/00; E02B3/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SPAHN, GAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dinnin & Dunn, P.C.,Robert A. Dunn (2701 Cambridge Court, Auburn Hills, MI, 48326, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A dock system comprising: a pair of parallel support members having a plurality of evenly spaced first rotational support members; a plurality of elongated planks having a second rotational support member at each end for cooperating rotatably with one of said first rotational support members and supporting said planks between said supports, at least one elongated plank having a plurality of bristles affixed to an elongated edge, and means for rotating at least two of said planks at least 45°.

2. A dock comprising: a plurality of parallel elongated planks each rotatable about an axis parallel to its length, at least one support member perpendicular to said plurality of planks rotatably supporting said planks, and at least one plank having bristles along an elongated edge.

3. The dock of claim 2 wherein said plurality of planks is rotatable between a first position where said planks are oriented substantially parallel to the horizon and a second position where said bristles are elevated.

4. The dock of claim 3 wherein said series of parallel planks are spaced apart to form a substantially uniform space between planks in said first position and said bristles substantially fill at least one of said spaces.

5. The dock of claim 2 wherein each of said planks has bristles along an elongated edge.

6. The dock of claim 2 wherein at least one plank has bristles along each of its elongated edges.

7. The dock of claim 6 wherein each of said planks has an upper surface perpendicular to said elongated edges and a lower surface perpendicular to said elongated edges, and said bristles are located along a first of said elongated edges adjacent to upper surface and along the second of said elongated edges adjacent said lower surface.

8. The dock of claim 2 further comprising an electrical drive system for rotating said planks.

9. The dock of claim 2 further comprising a lever operated chain drive system for rotating said planks.

10. A dock system including at least one dock module comprising: a pair of support members of a first predetermined length sand a plurality of planks of a second predetermined length; said support members having a plurality of evenly spaced openings for rotatably supporting said planks; and said planks having pintles for rotatably supporting said planks within said openings.

11. The dock system of claim 10 comprising a plurality of said dock modules.

12. The dock system of claim 10 further comprising an electrical drive system for rotating said planks.

13. The dock system of claim 10 further comprising a lever operated chain drive system for rotating said planks.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to docks for boats, particularly recreational docks for waterfront residential use. Generally, the invention comprises a louvered slatted surface which rotates between a substantially solid surface and substantially open frame. Flexible edging discourages birds from roosting and also close the slatted surface. It is anticipated that this invention could also be applied to walkways, awnings, decks and the like.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0002] There are millions of people who live near or adjacent to water. Many such residents install docks extending out above the water. These planked walkways provide a variety of uses, including access to a boat docked in sufficiently deep water, passage over the shoreline (rocky or muddy) for access to the water, or for use as a recreational area such as a deck (sunbathing, dining, etc). While the advantages of such recreational opportunities are fairly obvious, there is substantial cost and maintenance involved. Many maintenance issues arise from the horizontal decking itself. Exposed to the elements such as sun, rain and snow, the decking surface can discolor and deteriorate. Further, snow accumulation can weaken the entire structure or individual planks. Most frustrating, however is the bird problem.

[0003] Waterfront residents have long known the nuisance and damage caused by birds. Birds tend to congregate at the waterfront and leave their droppings behind. Bird feces is difficult and unpleasant to clean and has detrimental chemical effect on many surface finishes if not removed quickly. Many species of birds are attracted to the water and will often perch on structures such as docks which protrude from the water. Perching results in a higher concentration of bird feces.

[0004] There is need in the art for a way to reduce the effect of birds and their droppings. Convoluted scarecrows or types of motion-activated alarms have been used with little success and can create their own nuisance. Other deterrents such as a wire net or a plurality of wire strands (U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,607) can be difficult and expensive to install, can cause injury to birds, and can be unsightly. The problem has frustrated some to the extent to lead to lethal solutions (U.S. Pat. No. 4,299,048).

[0005] Site-specific deterrents known in the art ranges from brutal to ineffective, and typically include some projection or plurality of projections to affix to the roosting surface (e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,253,444; 4,841,914; 5,451,239; 4,997,721, 5,433,029; 4,404,778; 4,269,008; and 5,058,335). While the efficacy of these methods and their relative costs and ease of use can be debated, these solutions require rendering the surface unusable for recreational purposes.

[0006] Many dock structures are known in the art, e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,845,594; 5,412,915; 5,009,045; as are other plank structures, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 4,566,243; and deck systems, e.g., U.S Pat. No. 4,907,387. These structures attempt to address the need for low cost, durable and structurally strong platforms, but do not adequately address the weathering or bird problems solved by the present invention.

[0007] Louvered structures are known in the art, e.g., U.S Pat. No. 4,452,024 (louvered window to keep rain out); U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,283,338; 5,306,210; 4,099,346; and 5,862,633 (louvered roof to allow sun in) and U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,225,721; 4,462,266; 5,205,696 (louvered floor systems to allow the dumping of grain or slag). To applicant's knowledge, there is no use of louvered construction in an application such as a dock system. The louvered constructions are either much too robust to be suitable for a residential dock, or are structurally insufficient for such an application.

[0008] Therefore, it is the object of the present invention to provide a dock structure which can be readily assembled without professional assistance and yet which is structurally strong and durable to last through seasons of use. It is a particular object to provide a modular dock “kit” which will allow the modular assembly of a dock of a size dependent upon the number of “kits” or modules used.

[0009] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a louvered slatted dock assembly in which the slots can be rotated to allow rain, snow, bird droppings and the like to fall between the slots.

[0010] Another object of the present invention is to provide a dock system which discourages birds from roosting or perching on the deck of the dock.

[0011] It is still another object of the present invention to provide a louvered slatted dock system which has a level deck, which prevents objects from slipping between the slats when closed, and yet which has lenient tolerances with respect to slat spacing and alignment.

[0012] It is a further object to provide a louvered slatted dock system which is esthetically pleasing when the slats are raised.

[0013] Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the subsequent description and appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a dock construction according to the invention shown generally at 10.

[0015] FIG. 2 illustrates the dock of FIG. 1 in the storage position.

[0016] FIG. 3 is a side cross sectional view of the dock shown in FIG. 2 in the storage position illustrating a drive mechanism.

[0017] FIG. 4 is an enlarged cross sectional view taken at 4-4 of FIG. 3

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

[0018] The dock 10 consists of a plurality of planks 12 pivotally held between parallel horizontal stringers 14, which in turn are supported by pillars 16. The pillars 16 are preferably anchored in the bed of the lake, canal, river or other body of water, but it is contemplated that the invention can utilize in conjunction with a “floating dock” or on land in a variety of applications. The preferred embodiment of the invention utilizes standard commercial lumber sized planks and stringers so that it can be easily constructed from readily available materials. It is preferred that the materials be highly weather resistant such as treated lumber or composite or resin materials commercially available in standard lumber sizes.

[0019] The planks are pivotally held within the stringers by pintles 18 inserted into sleeves 20. The pintles 18 may be attached to the planks 12 through a variety of conventional means, a knife-edge flange 22 is shown in FIG. 4, which is hammered into the edge of the plank and resists twisting of the pintle relative to the plank. Alternatively, the plank could be bored along its length, and a single axle inserted to replace the two pintles, the axle preferable having one or more radially extending flanges to resist rotation relative to the plank. The sleeves are preferably anchored into mating bores in the stringers, which may be accomplished prior to sale in a dock “kit”. A trim board 24 is preferred to cover the drive mechanism for rotating the planks described herein.

[0020] The planks are connected to each other at one or both ends to rotate in unison as discussed in further detail herein, so that each will rotate the same amount at the same time. Thus, the planks can be simultaneously rotated from an operable position where the planks are lying flat as commonly positioned on a dock to provide a flat walking surface. The planks could alternatively be simultaneously rotated to a storage position in which the planks are oriented in an upright position with their relatively narrow depth at or toward the horizontal plane. In the upright position (or a position angled toward upright), any rain or snow will tend to run down along the face of the planks, thus tending to wash the planks of dirt and debris such as bird feces. The planks can be rotated by operation of a single device such as a lever (not shown) to easily alternate between the operable and storage position. Certain applications can include multiple groups of connected planks, with individual controls. Thus, for example, a long dock with planks running perpendicular to its length could be broken down into shorter segments such that the planks in each segment could be operated as a group, which would each require less force than rotating the entire length of planks. The segmentation could also be used to create different layouts, such as wider surfaces such as sun decks. In particular, it is preferred that the dock system be provided in a pre-packaged hardware kit, where the assembler can provide stock lumber from local sources and assemble a dock of a predetermined length. Multiple kits can be used to create longer docks or other configurations.

[0021] The control mechanism can be a number of commercially available systems, a number of louvered blind arrangements could be used. The control shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 includes a chain drive 26 rotating sprockets 28 attached to the pintles such as by a key mechanism 10. This allows for a manual drive such as by moving a lever attached to the chain 30, or for an electric motor drive (not shown) to allow for remote activation of the control mechanism. The control system may alternatively include a lever-operated cable system (not shown), the cable forms a closed loop and is secured to each plank in seriatum at a uniform edge along the first run along the length of the dock system, and then secured to each plank upon the opposite edge along the return run to the lever to close the loop. By moving the lever from the operable position toward the storage position one run of the cord is pulled the direction of the lever, pulling the connected edges of the planks, rotating the planks about the axes of the pintles into the storage position. Upon moving the lever into the operable position from the storage position, the other run is pulled toward the lever, pulling the opposite edges and rotating the planks back to the operable position.

[0022] An electronic control system can be programmable to allow for automatic control, such as positioning the slats in the storage position at a predetermined time. For example, the system could automatically activate at a predetermined morning hour to the storage position to stop birds from roosting at their routine time. Another available alternative is to actuate the control system to an intermediate position (approximately 45 degrees) when rainfall is detected to allow the planks to be washed by the rain. This intermediate position is also preferred in the mechanically controlled system.

[0023] The leading edge of the planks, the edge that is raised in the storage position, is provided with a plurality of bristles 32 to discourage roosting of birds. These bristles can be attached to the plank edges in a variety of means, such as by utilizing a strip 34 with bristles glued thereto. This strip can be cut to length and either glued or nailed to the plank edge. An advantage of this system is that the bristles can be sized in length to fill the gap between planks. These gaps would still allow water to pass between the planks, but would obstruct the view of the water or land below and would obstruct passage of small objects such as coins or keys or small toes.

[0024] An alternate embodiment provides an additional brush strip 36 on the plank edge opposite the leading edge. This following edge brush strip will engage the brush strip of the leading edge of the adjoining plank. One preferred configuration best illustrated in FIG. 3 allows the bristles to overlap, the brush strip of the leading edge being aligned along the top when in the operative position, and the brush strip of the following edge being aligned along the bottom when in the operative position. Another embodiment provides an aesthetically pleasing profile on the top or leading edge brush edge. There are a number of profiles contemplated, such as the scallop shell profile shown in FIG. 2, but could also include a variety of designs such as triangles, waves, starbursts or the like. The decorative profiled brush edge will still overlap the brush edge of the underlying following brush edge when in the operable position.

[0025] It should be appreciated that the structure could be utilized in non-dock applications where it is desirable to resist bird roosting. Specifically, the structure can be used for gazebo roofing, or roofing for other outdoor structures such as garages, porticos, or the like.