Title:
Dock post safety cap
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dock post safety cap made of closed cell foam or a similar pliable material capable of absorbing an impact. The dock post cap is designed to protect individuals, particularly children, who happen to fall while walking or running down a boat dock and might strike one of the posts supporting the dock that protrude through the surface of the deck. The safety cap is placed over the top of the dock post and retained by friction. The protection afforded by the post cap is optimized by making the thickness of the foam around the top of the dock posts thicker than the foam around the sides of the dock post. To further customize the safety cap for each application, a chamfer may be added at the juncture of the top and sides. In addition, reflective material may be included to enhance visibility at night.



Inventors:
Remington, Gerald J. (Grass Lake, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/924595
Publication Date:
02/23/2006
Filing Date:
08/23/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B59/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BASINGER, SHERMAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BGL (P.O. BOX 10395, CHICAGO, IL, 60610, US)
Claims:
1. A protective dock post cap assembled comprising: an upright dock post, said post having a post side wall, and an upper end, said post side wall defining a post diameter; said post having a post cap mounted thereto, said post rap including a body having a generally cylindrical side wall between first and second ends, a recess defined within said body and extending from an opening in said first end, said recess being generally cylindrical in shape and extending a majority of the length of said body and terminating in an end wall, said second end defining a closed end of said body, said body having a first thickness defined between an exterior surface of said side wall and an interior surface of said side wall, said body having a second thickness defined between said end wall and said second end, said second thickness being greater than said first thickness, said interior surface defining a free inner diameter, said free inner diameter being less than said post diameter resulting in a frictional engagement between said post side wall and said interior surface when said post cap is mounted to said post.

2. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said body is formed of closed cell foam.

3. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said second end is generally dome shaped.

4. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said body has a third thickness defined obliquely between a terminating corner of said recess and said second end, said third thickness being greater than said first thickness.

5. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said second end includes a chamfered edge adjacent to said exterior surface of said side wall.

6. The assembly of claim 1 further comprising a reflective medium disposed on said exterior surface of said side wall.

7. The assembly of claim 6 wherein said reflective medium extends circumferentially about said side wall.

8. The assembly of claim 6 wherein said reflective medium is a reflective strip of material.

9. The protective cap of claim 1 wherein said second end is generally rounded.

10. (canceled)

11. (canceled)

12. (canceled)

13. (canceled)

14. (canceled)

15. (canceled)

16. (canceled)

17. (canceled)

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to boat docks used in a marine environment. More specifically, the invention relates to preventing injury in the event someone, particularly a child, falls while running or walking down a boat dock.

2. Description of Related Art

When not in use, boats must be secured to allow access and prevent them from floating away. One way to secure a boat is to anchor it a short distance from shore. In some harbors, this may be the only option. However, to use an anchored boat requires people to wade out to the boat or take another boat to the anchored boat. Another possibility for securing a boat is to pull it onto the beach and tie it to a tree or post. However, this option risks damaging the boat. Also, for large boats the risk of becoming stuck is so great as to make beaching impractical. Thus, most boats are secured to a dock.

A dock typically consists of a series of posts extending up from the lake, river, pond or ocean bottom. Crossbars extend between adjacent posts and a deck is secured to the crossbars and posts forming a basic dock. A boat can then be tied to the dock, allowing people to use the boat without getting wet or risking damage to the boat. Docks can be quite large affairs made of concrete and steel, or they can be basic and consist of little more than steel pipes and wooden planking as described above. The common docks found on most inland lakes are of the latter variety.

The problem with these basic docks is their posts, usually made of two inch diameter steel pipe, often is roughly cut. After the dock is assembled, the pipe may protrude above the deck surface. This results in a potentially serious safety hazard for children. Children often run down docks and, should they trip and fall, may strike their heads on the rough ends of the pipe, possibly resulting in serious injury. Even if the pipes are capped, injury is still likely to result since the caps are hard and unforgiving.

In view of the above, it is apparent that there exists a need to improve the safety of boat docks. The objective of this invention is therefore to reduce the safety hazard inherent in the steel pipe commonly used for dock posts.

SUMMARY

In satisfying the above need, as well as overcoming the enumerated drawbacks and other limitations of the related art, the present invention encloses the protruding ends of the posts of a boat dock by means of a dock post safety cap. In particular, a dock post cap made of closed cell foam, or a similar impact absorbing material, is provided. When installed over the protruding post ends of a boat dock the cap will afford a degree of protection to a person who might happen to fall and strike the dock post while walking or running down the dock. A frictional engagement is used to retain the cap and prevent it from being knocked off the end of the dock posts.

In providing a dock post cap in accordance with the principles of the present invention, the dock post cap includes as its primary components a cylindrical cap with first and second ends. A recess is defined within the first end into which the dock post is inserted. The recess further defines a first sidewall thickness as well as second and third top thicknesses. To maximize protection near the end of the dock post, the second and third top thicknesses are greater than the first sidewall thickness. To further enhance the protection provided, an optional chamfer may be added near the second end to meet the requirements a particular application.

In an alternative embodiment, a reflective strip may be attached with an adhesive around the circumference of the cylinder near the second end. This is designed to increase nighttime visibility of the dock posts for someone walking along the dock or for approaching boats.

Further objects, features and advantages of this invention will become readily apparent to persons skilled in the art after a review of the following description, with reference to the drawings and claims that are appended to and form a part of this specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a dock system with dock post caps installed on each dock post; and

FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the dock post cap installed on a dock post.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a dock system embodying the principles of the present invention is illustrated therein and designated at 54. As its primary components the dock system consists of a plurality of dock post caps designated at 10 and a series of upright dock posts 42 that support a deck 50 above a body of water 12. The posts 42 extend beneath the surface of the body of water 12, that may be a lake, river, pond, ocean or something similar, and the bottom of the posts 42 have augers, feet or anchors securing them to the bottom of the body of water 12. In other instances the posts 42 are secured to the bottom in holes filled with concrete. In yet another case, one end of the dock system 54 may be attached to floats, with the other being secured to the land, allowing the dock system 54 to rise and fall with changing water levels

The deck 50 is supported by joists (not shown) attached to beams 52 that are secured between the posts 42. A post cap 10 is installed on top of each of the dock posts 42. While it is possible to have a post cap 10 on fewer than all of the dock posts 42, that will decrease the amount of safety provided by the invention and is not a preferred embodiment.

Referring now to FIG. 2, the post cap 10 and dock post 42 are illustrated. The post cap 10 is secured over a post upper end 46 having a post diameter 48. The post upper end 46 enters a generally cylindrical recess 20 defined within a first end 16 of the post cap 10 and having a recess diameter 21. The recess 20 begins with an opening 22 in the first end 16 and extends the majority of the length of the post cap 10, terminating in the end wall 24 adjacent to a second end 18. The depth of insertion of the post upper end 46 into the recess 20 is limited by contact with the end wall 24.

To help retain the post cap 10, the recess diameter 21 is preferably about ⅛ inch smaller than the post diameter 48. This results in a frictional engagement between a post side wall 44 and an interior surface 30 of the recess 20. This frictional engagement helps prevent the post cap 10 from being knocked off the post in a variety of situations, some examples of which are high winds, jostling by a docking boat, or accidentally being struck by someone running along the dock system 54.

In order to protect someone, particularly a child, who accidentally falls and strikes the dock post end 46, the post cap 10 is made of closed cell foam or another pliable material suitable for cushioning an impact. To achieve this objective, the post cap 10 includes as its primary components a side wall 14, the first end 16 and the second end 18. The side wall 14 is provided with a first thickness 26 defined between an exterior surface 28 of the sidewall 14, and the interior surface 30. In addition, a second thickness 32 is defined between the end wall 24 of the recess 20 and a line running roughly parallel to the end wall 24 and/or tangent to the second end 18. Finally, a third thickness 36 is defined obliquely between a terminating corner 34 of the recess 20 and a second end edge 37 of the second end 18.

Since the greatest potential for injury exists near the post upper end 46, the amount of protection around that location is maximized, and the overall amount of foam used is minimized, when both the second thickness 32 and the third thickness 36 are greater than the first thickness 26. Some embodiments may further optimize the level of protection and the quantity of foam used by having a rounded or dome shaped second end 18. Yet other embodiments may provide a chamfered edge 38, preferably 45 degrees by ¼ inch, to further enhance the protection provided by the third thickness 36.

By incorporating the above features, the post cap 10 when installed as part of a dock system 52 will afford some protection to a person who happens to fall and strike a dock post 42 while walking or running down the deck 50. By properly sizing the second thickness 32 and third thickness 36 and optionally adding a chamfer 38, the level of protection offered by a particular construction may be optimized for each application.

Furthermore, a reflective strip 40 may be provided on the post cap 10 to increase the night time visibility of the dock posts 42 for someone walking along the dock or for approaching boats. The reflective strip 40 is typically attached around the circumference of the post cap 10, below the chamfered edge 38, using an adhesive.

As a person skilled in the art will readily appreciate, the above description is meant as an illustration implementing the principles of this invention. This description is not intended to limit the scope or application of this invention in that the invention is susceptible to modification, variation and change, without departing from spirit of this invention, as defined in the following claims.