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This invention relates, generally, to earth anchors. More particularly, it relates to an earth anchor having the general shape of a taco shell.
To hold an item down in high winds, it is common practice to attach a first, proximal end of a cable, strap, or rope to the item and a second, distal end of the cable, strap, or rope to an anchoring means. The anchoring means is then driven into the ground so that the tied-down item is secure in high winds. The items that may be tied down include trees, telephone poles, mobile homes, aircraft, and so on.
To prevent the anchor from being pulled to the surface during a windstorm, some anchors are provided with wings or other protuberances that extend outwardly from a main body of an anchor. In some designs, the wings deploy if the anchor is pulled toward the surface of the earth. Other designs include ribbing or other protuberances that resist breakage and retraction of the anchor from the soil.
The known anchors have a heavy-duty construction so that they can provide great resistance to retraction without breaking.
The known anchors thus have the shortcomings of being bulky, heavy, and expensive. Being bulky, they require large amounts of storage space. Being heavy, it is costly to distribute them. Being expensive, they are not purchased in large quantities.
What is needed, then, is a slim, nestable anchor that substantially reduces the space required to store them. There is a need as well for a light-in-weight anchor that has a holding power at least as great as a heavy anchor, and there is a need for an inexpensive anchor so that users may purchase them in large quantities.
However, in view of the prior art taken as a whole at the time the present invention was made, it was not obvious to those of ordinary skill how the identified needs could be fulfilled.
The long-standing but heretofore unfulfilled need for an improved earth anchor is now met by a new, useful, and non-obvious invention.
The novel earth anchor, like conventional earth anchors, is adapted to be driven and deployed into an operative position at a predetermined distance below the surface of the earth.
It includes a pair of substantially flat sidewalls disposed in confronting, transversely spaced apart relation to one another. A bottom wall is disposed in interconnecting relation to respective bottom edges of the sidewalls.
A first engagement means is formed in a first sidewall of the pair of sidewalls and a second engagement means is formed in a second sidewall of the pair of sidewalls.
The distal end of a cable, strap, or rope, hereinafter referred to as a cable means, extends through the first engagement means, around the outside of the taco shell-shaped anchor and through the second engagement means to form a loop. The loop is completed by securing the distal end of the cable means to the cable means at a predetermined distance from the anchor, on the proximal side thereof.
The proximal end of the cable means is adapted to be secured to an item positioned on or above the earth surface that requires holding during high wind speed weather conditions.
The first and second sidewalls are at least slightly displaced toward one another when an external force directed towards the tied-down item is applied to each engagement means. The displacement compresses soil between the sidewalls and the bottom wall of the novel earth anchor so that the compressed soil reinforces the sidewalls and the bottom wall to the extent that the anchor is strengthened against breaking and the soil contiguous therewith prevents retraction of the earth anchor from its operative position beneath the earth's surface.
The pair of substantially flat sidewalls includes a first sidewall and a second sidewall. The first sidewall has a central part having a flat or curved top edge, the latter being preferred. The central part of the first sidewall is flanked by integrally formed walls having inclined edges that extend from the bottom wall to the flat or curved top edge of the central part of the first sidewall.
The second sidewall also has a central part having a flat or curved top edge. The central part of the second sidewall is flanked by integrally formed walls having inclined edges that extend from the bottom wall to the flat or curved top edge of the central part of the second sidewall.
The first engagement means is formed near the central part of the first sidewall but longitudinally offset from said central part. The second engagement means is also formed near the central part of the second sidewall but longitudinally offset therefrom. The first and second engagement means are formed substantially mid-length of the earth anchor but slightly longitudinally offset therefrom so that the earth anchor is not symmetrical about said first and second engagement means.
The first engagement means is preferably provided in the form of a circular aperture formed in the central part of the first sidewall near the substantially flat or curved top edge thereof and the second engagement means is preferably provided in the form of a circular aperture formed in the central part of the second sidewall near the substantially flat or curved top edge of said second sidewall central part. The first and second engagement means can be positioned closer to the edge of the device in the preferred embodiment where the respective top edges of the sidewalls are curved rather than flat.
A slight concavity is formed in the bottom wall, symmetrical about a longitudinal axis of the bottom wall.
A three-sided louver formed in the bottom wall provides an opening in the novel earth anchor and is formed toward a preselected end of said anchor. The louver is angled downwardly, i.e., away from the interior of the earth anchor, with respect to the bottom wall. The louver provides engagement means for installation tools.
The first sidewall is disposed relative to the bottom wall at an angle of about one hundred degrees (100°) and the second sidewall is disposed relative to the bottom wall at the same angle so that the two sidewalls diverge slightly from one another. The central part of the first sidewall and the central part of the second sidewall are therefore spaced further apart from one another than a width of the bottom wall, thereby creating a symmetrical taco shell shape.
An important advantage of the novel earth anchor is that it is shaped like a taco shell and as such a plurality of such anchors may be nested together and stored in a small space, unlike the bulky, un-nestable earth anchors of the prior art.
Another advantage is that the novel earth anchor is light-in-weight so that it may be manufactured, transported, and distributed economically.
Yet another advantage is that the novel earth anchor lacks wings, ribs, and other protuberances yet is still not retractable from the soil within which it is inserted.
Perhaps the most important advantage is that the novel taco shell shape harnesses the strength of the soil disposed between the side walls and bottom wall of the earth anchor, thereby improving its break strength and enhancing its anti-retraction strength. This enables the novel earth anchor to be built of less expensive, weaker materials.
These and other advantages will become apparent as this disclosure proceeds. The invention includes the features of construction, arrangement of parts, and combination of elements set forth herein, and the scope of the invention is set forth in the claims appended hereto.
For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be made to the following detailed description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1A is a top perspective view of the novel earth anchor;
FIG. 1B is a bottom perspective view thereof;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view thereof;
FIG. 3 is a top plan view thereof;
FIG. 4A is a bottom plan view of the structure when flat;
FIG. 4B is an end elevational view of the structure depicted in FIG. 4A;
FIG. 5 is an end view of the structure depicted in FIG. 3;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view that includes a cable or strap connected to the novel earth anchor;
FIG. 7 is a side elevational view depicting installation of the novel earth anchor with the aid of an installation pipe;
FIG. 8 is a side elevational view indicating how the novel earth anchor is rotated under ground into its final position of deployment;
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the novel earth anchor when engaged by an installation pipe;
FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of the structure depicted in FIG. 9; and
FIG. 11 is an end view of the structure depicted in FIG. 10.
Referring now to FIGS. 1A, 1B, and 2-5, it will there be seen that an illustrative embodiment of the invention is denoted as a whole by the reference numeral 10.
Earth anchor 10 has the general appearance of a taco shell. It could also be described, perhaps, as having an inverted saddle shape. It may be made of sixteen (16) gauge stainless steel or thirty three per cent (33%) glass-filled nylon). Accordingly, it can flex slightly under load, but such materials are not normally thought of as being pliable or flexible.
Earth anchors lacking the novel taco shell shape must be built of lower gauge (thicker) steel and nylon having higher percentages of fiberglass mixed therein.
Earth anchor 10 has a pair of transversely spaced apart sidewalls 12, 14 that are interconnected at their respective bottom edges by bottom wall 16. A slight concavity is formed in bottom wall 16, said concavity being symmetrical about a longitudinal axis of said bottom wall. Earth anchor 10 is an integrally-formed, one piece structure.
First sidewall 12 is disposed relative to bottom wall 16 at an angle slightly more than ninety degrees (90°) and second sidewall 14 is disposed relative to bottom wall 16 at the same angle so that the two sidewalls diverge slightly from one another. Central part 12a of first sidewall 12 and central part 14a of second sidewall 14 are therefore spaced further apart from one another than a width of bottom wall 16. More particularly, first sidewall 12 is disposed relative to bottom wall 16 at an angle of about one hundred degrees (100°) and second sidewall 14 is disposed relative thereto at the same angle, thereby creating a symmetrical taco shell shape.
In a preferred embodiment, sidewall 12 has a central part 12a with a flat or curved top edge, and sidewall 14 has a central part 14a with a flat or curved top edge. Central part 12a is flanked by integrally formed walls 12b, 12c having inclined edges that extend from bottom wall 16 to said flat or curved top edge of said central part 12a. Central part 14a is flanked by integrally formed walls 14b, 14c having inclined edges that extend from bottom wall 16 to said flat or curved top edge of said central part 14a.
A first engagement means 18 is formed in central part 12a, downwardly of said flat or curved top edge. A second engagement means 20 is formed in central part 14a, downwardly of said flat or curved top edge. Both engagement means are off-center with respect to the longitudinal extent of earth anchor 10, i.e., said engagement means are spaced apart from the mid-point of said earth anchor, on a common side of said mid-point. Thus, when earth anchor 10 is suspended at said engagement means while in the position depicted in FIG. 2, it tilts as indicated by directional arrow 19.
In the preferred embodiment, both engagement means take the form of circular apertures formed in their respective sidewalls. However, narrow slots that receive a strap could replace the apertures. Instead of circular apertures, slots, or other openings, clamps, buckles, and numerous other means could be substituted therefore for engaging the distal end of a cable means equipped with mating clamps, buckles, and the like.
Three-side louver 17 is formed in bottom wall 16 by a punch and is angled downwardly as best depicted in FIG. 2. A machine screw placed perpendicular to and near the leading end of an installation pipe, not shown in FIG. 2, abuts against louver 17 when earth anchor 10 is being installed beneath the surface of the earth. The installation pipe and the machine screw, denoted 23 and 33 respectively, are depicted in FIGS. 9-11.
Although not the preferred configuration, the distal end of a first cable, rope, or the like could be secured to first engagement means 18 and the distal end of a second cable, rope, or the like could be secured to second engagement means 20. The respective proximal ends of said first and second cable means would be secured to the item to be tied down. The distal end of each cable means is secured to its associated engagement means prior to the driving into the ground of the novel earth anchor.
As depicted in FIG. 6, a distal free end of cable means 22 follows a path of travel forming a closed loop. Specifically, it extends through first engagement means 18a (from the inside of the taco shell), under bottom wall 16, through second engagement means 20a (from the outside of the taco shell), and is secured to the cable means at a preselected point in spaced relation to earth anchor 10, on the proximal side thereof. Note that first and second engagement means 18, 20 in this particular embodiment are provided in the forms of slots instead of circular apertures, and that sidewalls 12 and 14 are hemispherical in shape. Thus, in this embodiment the top edge of each flat wall is curved as depicted rather than substantially flat as depicted in FIGS. 1A. 1B, 2, 3, 4A, 4B, and 5. This embodiment also includes a different means 17a for engaging the leading end of an installation pipe.
Earth anchor 10 is driven into the ground by any suitable means. For example, it may be installed using a water jet means of the type disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,572,308 to the present inventor.
Earth anchor may also be installed in the manner depicted in FIGS. 6 and 7. As indicated in FIG. 7, the proximal end of installation pipe 23 is adapted to be rotated by drill means 25. An auger 21 molded around anchor 10 draws the anchor into the earth as drill 25 rotates installation pipe 23 and anchor 10.
More particularly, after extending through second engagement means 20, cable means 22 is introduced into the hollow interior of installation pipe 23 and is fished from opening 25 formed in the proximal end of said installation pipe to prevent the cable means from winding around the installation pipe. The proximal end of cable means 22 is then secured to the item to be tied down.
In most cases, cable means 22 will be angled relative to the surface of the earth at an angle as depicted in FIG. 8. Whether installation pipe 23 is introduced into the earth by a water jet means, by drill means 25 of FIG. 7, or other known means, bore 27 is formed in the earth through which cable means 22 extends when installation pipe 23 is removed. The longitudinal axis of earth anchor 10 will be in substantial alignment with a longitudinal axis of bore 27 when earth anchor 10 has reached its predetermined depth.
As mentioned earlier, engagement means 18, 20 are not centered with respect to the length of earth anchor 10. Accordingly, pulling upon cable means 22 in the direction of directional arrow 29 in FIG. 8 causes earth anchor 10 to pivot about an axis transverse to said longitudinal axis as indicated by directional arrow 31. This deploys earth anchor 10 into its operable position where its longitudinal axis is substantially normal to the longitudinal axis of cable means 22.
When an external force is applied to cable means 22 in the direction of arrow 29, a scooping action occurs, i.e., sidewalls 12 and 14 are urged toward one another, compressing the soil between them and the bottom wall. Thus, the material from which the earth anchor is made should have some pliability. In this way, the soil becomes an integral part or structural component of the earth anchor. Since the soil positioned between sidewalls 12 and 14 is part of the soil outside of the space between said sidewalls, the externally applied force cannot raise earth anchor 10.
Accordingly, earth anchor 10 may have a structure that is not as strong as prior art earth anchors because much of its strength is derived from the surrounding soil. Moreover, ribbing, angles, and circular geometric shapes that resist breakage and other protuberances to grab or hook into the soil are not required. Earth anchor 10, in a commercial embodiment, has a length of only about five inches (5″). However, it has the holding power and break strength of prior art anchors that are much larger but which do not interact with the soil in the manner disclosed herein.
It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, and those made apparent from the foregoing description, are efficiently attained and since certain changes may be made in the above construction without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matters contained in the foregoing description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
It is also to be understood that the following claims are intended to cover all of the generic and specific features of the invention herein described, and all statements of the scope of the invention that, as a matter of language, might be said to fall therebetween.