Title:
Springpole recreational apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A type of backyard or playground recreational equipment usable indoors or outdoors. The present invention provides a bent springpole that functions much like the naturally-occurring feature that has been a recreational favorite of children for centuries, a low-hanging tree limb. The springpole provides the vertical bouncing motion of a tree limb, as well as a 360 degree rotational motion. Children and adolescents are able to bound, bounce, and run in a limited amount of space. The pole can be equipped with padding in whimsical shapes, a seat, and steps.



Inventors:
Watts, Robert C. (Kerrville, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/411517
Publication Date:
06/07/2007
Filing Date:
04/26/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63G31/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LONG, ROBERT FRANKLIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David Allen Hall (P.O. Box 1540, Blanco, TX, 78606, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An apparatus comprising: a tubular mast permanently mounted in the ground; a mast sleeve assembly comprising a tubular mast sleeve and a tubular pole sleeve fixed at a predetermined angle to said mast sleeve, said mast sleeve assembly being slideably and substantially concentrically mounted at a predetermined location on said mast, and capable of rotation about said mast; and a pole having a proximate end and a distal end, said proximate end of said pole having a first diameter substantially concentrically inserted into said pole sleeve, said pole being capable of repetitive bending displacement from an unforced configuration under the influence of a force imposed near said distal end of said pole, and said pole being capable of repetitive return to said unforced configuration.

2. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said mast sleeve assembly further comprises a planar collar substantially concentric with and perpendicular to said mast sleeve.

3. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said pole is further comprised of one or more handles near said distal end of said pole.

4. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said pole is further comprised of one or more pads near said distal end of said pole.

5. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said pole is further comprised of one or more pads between said proximate and distal ends of said pole.

6. An apparatus as in claim 1 further comprising one or more collars slideably and substantially concentrically mounted on said mast at a predetermined location.

7. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said mast is removeably, rotatably, and substantially concentrically inserted into a substantially vertical ground tube, said ground tube being permanently mounted in the ground.

8. An apparatus as in claim 7 wherein said ground tube is mounted on a portable base.

9. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said mast sleeve assembly further comprises a means of being locked in a predetermined rotational orientation with respect to said mast.

10. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said mast is further comprised of one or more pads.

11. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said pole is further comprised of one or more springs.

12. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said pole is comprised of at least one hinged joint and at least one compression spring.

13. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said pole is comprised of at least one substantially straight section and at least one curved section.

14. An apparatus comprising: a tubular mast removeably, rotatably, and substantially concentrically inserted into a substantially vertical ground tube, said ground tube being permanently mounted in the ground; a mast sleeve assembly comprising a tubular mast sleeve, a planar collar substantially concentric with and perpendicular to said mast sleeve, and a tubular pole sleeve fixed at a predetermined angle to said mast sleeve, said mast sleeve assembly being slideably, rotatably, and substantially concentrically mounted at a predetermined location on said mast and having a means of being locked in a predetermined rotational orientation with respect to said mast; a pole having a proximate end and a distal end, said proximate end of said pole having a first diameter substantially concentrically inserted into said pole sleeve, said pole being capable of repetitive bending displacement from an unforced configuration under the influence of a force imposed near said distal end of said pole, said pole being capable of repetitive return to said unforced configuration, and said pole being further comprised of one or more handles near said distal end of said pole and one or more pads near said distal end of said pole; and one or more collars slideably and substantially concentrically mounted on said mast at a predetermined location.

15. An apparatus comprising a curved first pole having a proximate end and a distal end, said proximate end of said pole having a first diameter substantially concentrically inserted into a substantially vertical support tube assembly such that some part of said pole near its said proximate end is substantially vertical when said pole is in an unforced configuration, said pole being capable of rotation inside said support tube assembly while simultaneously being capable of repetitive bending displacement from said unforced configuration under the influence of a force imposed near said distal end of said pole, said pole being capable of repetitive return to said unforced configuration, and part of said support tube assembly being permanently mounted in the ground.

16. An apparatus as in claim 15 wherein said pole is further comprised of one or more handles substantially perpendicular to said pole near said distal end of said pole.

17. An apparatus as in claim 15 wherein said pole is further comprised of one or more pads near said distal end of said pole.

18. An apparatus as in claim 15 wherein said pole is further comprised of one or more pads between said proximate and distal ends of said pole.

19. An apparatus as in claim 15 wherein said support tube assembly is further comprised of one or more protrusions substantially perpendicular to said support tube assembly.

20. An apparatus as in claim 15 wherein said pole is further comprised of one or more springs.

21. An apparatus as in claim 15 wherein said pole is comprised of at least one hinged joint and at least one compression spring.

22. An apparatus as in claim 15 wherein said pole is comprised of at least one substantially straight section and at least one curved section.

23. An apparatus as in claim 15 wherein said support tube assembly is supported by a portable base.

24. An apparatus as in claim 15 further comprising one or more bushings capable of being received by said support tube assembly and capable of providing for replacement of said first pole with a second pole having a proximate end diameter different from that of said first diameter of said first pole.

25. An apparatus as in claim 15 wherein said support tube assembly has a means of temporarily locking said pole in a selected rotational orientation.

26. An apparatus comprising: a curved first pole having a proximate end and a distal end, said proximate end of said pole having a first diameter substantially concentrically inserted into a substantially vertical support tube assembly such that some part of said pole near its said proximate end is substantially vertical when said pole is in an unforced configuration, said pole being capable of rotation inside said support tube assembly while simultaneously being capable of repetitive bending displacement from said unforced configuration under the influence of a force imposed near said distal end of said pole, said pole being capable of repetitive return to said unforced configuration, and part of said support tube assembly being permanently mounted in the ground; one or more handles substantially perpendicular to said pole near said distal end of said pole; one or more pads near said distal end of said pole; one or more protrusions fixed to and substantially perpendicular to said support tube assembly; and a means of temporarily locking said pole in a selected rotational orientation.

27. An apparatus as in claim 15 further comprising a support tube assembly comprising a substantially fixed ground tube, an intermediate tube that receives said ground tube, and a support tube fixed to said intermediate tube so that the longitudinal axes of said ground, intermediate, and support tubes are substantially collinear, and said support tube rotatably receives said proximate end of said pole.

28. An apparatus as in claim 27 wherein said support tube assembly is further comprised of one or more protrusions substantially perpendicular to said support tube assembly.

29. An apparatus as in claim 27 wherein said support tube assembly is further comprised of one or more pads.

30. An apparatus as in claim 15 further comprising a support tube assembly comprising a substantially fixed ground tube, an intermediate tube having a first end that slideably receives said ground tube, and a support tube fixed to a second end of said intermediate tube so that the longitudinal axes of said ground, intermediate, and support tubes are substantially collinear, and said support tube rotatably receiving said proximate end of said pole, and said intermediate tube having a means for removeable attachment to said ground tube at various locations.

31. An apparatus as in claim 30 wherein said first end of said intermediate tube further comprises a collar that partially shields said removeable attachment means from user access.

32. An apparatus comprising a curved pole having a proximate end and a distal end, said proximate end of said pole being substantially concentrically inserted into a substantially vertical support tube assembly such that some part of said pole near its said proximate end is substantially vertical when said pole is in an unforced configuration, said pole being capable of repetitive bending displacement from said unforced configuration under the influence of a force imposed near said distal end of said pole, said pole being capable of repetitive return to said unforced position, said pole further comprising, near said distal end of said pole, one or more handles substantially perpendicular to said pole and one or more pads, said support tube assembly comprising a substantially fixed ground tube, an intermediate tube having a first end capable of slideably receiving said ground tube, and a support tube fixed to a second end of said intermediate tube so that the longitudinal axes of said ground, intermediate, and support tubes are substantially collinear, said support tube being capable of rotatably receiving said proximate end of said pole, said intermediate tube having a means for removeable attachment to said ground tube at various locations, and said first end of said intermediate tube further comprising a collar capable of partially shielding said removeable attachment means from user access.

Description:

This application claims priority from provisional application 60/674,886 filed Apr. 26, 2005. The present invention relates to the field of recreational equipment.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Exercise devices from which users may suspend themselves are not new. In U.S. Pat. No. 3,837,641, Hanson describes an exercise device consisting of a bent, rotateable swing bar. For its vertical motion, Hansen's bar depends on a fixed angle between the bar and vertical, thus subjecting a user to the risk of collision with the bar at its highest position as illustrated by the phantom configuration of user 28′and bar 14′ in FIG. 12 of the '641 patent The present invention utilizes a vertical support and a spring steel pole to enable a user to achieve vertical motion throughout a 360 degree rotation without risk of the hazards associated with collision with a rigid bar.

For support, Hansen's device depends entirely on a stake 32 driven into the ground at an angle (see the '641 patent, column 2, lines 13-21). The present invention provides support means inherently more resistant to the various forces and torques that will inevitably be imposed on such recreational devices.

Hansen states that one of his objectives is to provide a bar the rotation of which is damped by immersion in a damping medium (see the '641 patent, column 1, lines 39-47). Hansen furthermore includes damping means in all six claims. The present invention dispenses with the inconvenience, inconsistency, deterioration, and expense of Hansen's damping media with reliance on the mechanical friction inherent in the simple relative motion between two concentric cylinders.

In U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,480,274 and 3,246,893, Boggild describes a gymnastic device consisting of an anchored fiberglass pole (see the '274 patent, column 2, lines 35-38, and the '893 patent, column 2, lines 53-60, wherein Boggild teaches away from a steel pole). Because of the brittle nature of fiberglass, Boggild goes to great length to describe a complicated dual-support mounting scheme that depends on unpredictable and notoriously short-lived elastomers (see '274 patent, column 2, lines 64-66 and column 3, line 10 through column 4, line 20). The spring steel pole of the present invention preferred embodiment obviates such expensive assemblies and provides longer life than the Boggild device. Also, because fiberglass is highly susceptible to abrasion and splintering, Boggild requires that a thin vinyl sheath be glued to his pole (see the '274 patent, column 4, lines 21-26). The present invention does not require the extra manufacturing complication, expense, and wear problems associated with a sheath.

Because Boggild's poles are not intended to rotate (see the '274 patent, column 3, lines 14-23, and the '893 patent, column 3, lines 49-50), a user is limited in recreational options, or, if a user forces the pole to bend around a circle, the user's grip on the pole must be constantly changing to compensate for the dangerous tendency of the pole to twist against the imposed torque and dislodge itself from the user's hands. The present invention eliminates this unpleasantly limiting safety hazard.

Moreover, all six of Boggild's '274 claims limit his device to include “a damping means fixed to said pole” (see the '274 patent, column 6, line 20 and subsequent dependent claims). The present invention dispenses with the manufacturing complications and expense of Boggild's damping means.

In the '893 patent, Boggild limits his claims to spaced-apart bearing surfaces. No such bearings are required by the present invention. Also, Boggild's devices, because they are built on a straight, vertically mounted pole, suffer from the same safety hazard inherent in the Hanson design, i.e. the probability of user collision with the pole during use.

Therefore, for all the abovementioned reasons, current art does not contain all the features claimed by the present invention. The present invention offers enhanced usefulness, longer life, and less expense than the prior art The present invention also presents fewer safety hazards than the prior art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In all the accompanying drawings like features are labeled with like identifying numbers.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of one feature of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a cutaway perspective drawing of the feature depicted in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective drawing of an alternate embodiment of the feature depicted in FIGS. 2 and 3.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of one feature of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a frontal view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is an enlarged cross sectional view of a portion of the alternate embodiment depicted in FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a cross sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a side view of one embodiment of one feature of the present invention.

FIG. 10a is a partial cutaway front view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10b is a partial cutaway side view of the alternate embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIG. 10a.

FIG. 11 is a partial cross sectional view of on alternate embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a partial cross sectional view of on alternate embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of on alternate embodiment of one feature of the present invention.

DEFINITIONS

The following terms are used in the claims of the patent application as filed and are intended to have their broadest meaning consistent with the requirements of law. Where alternative meanings are possible, the broadest meaning is intended. All words and phrases are to be interpreted as they are preferentially defined in the present Specification, and then in commonly accepted English language dictionaries, handbooks, textbooks, and treatises. All words used in the claims are intended to be used in the customary usage of English language grammar.

“Concentric” and “concentrically” mean having a common center, regardless of cross sectional shape.

“Pad” means a mass of material used to minimize or prevent jarring, scraping, or other injury; it may be permanently attached, removeably attached, or integral to hard surfaces; it may be fashioned in any likeness, geometry, and thickness; and it may be rubber, foam, gas pockets, tape, or any other cushioning material.

“Pole” means a solid or tubular, straight, curved, or coiled, relatively slender elongated member having any cross sectional geometry that may be uniform or variable along the member length; it may be metallic or non-metallic.

“Spring” means any elastic device that returns to or near to its neutral, unforced configuration after being compressed, extended, bent, twisted, or otherwise disturbed; it may be metallic or non-metallic; it may be formed, extruded, stamped, molded, or otherwise manufactured.

“Tube” means a conduit the lateral cross section of which is not necessarily round.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The structure and operation of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment, the following descriptions of various alternatives thereto, and upon reference to the accompanying drawings. The inventor presents herein the best mode for carrying out the present invention in terms of its preferred embodiment, depicted within the aforementioned drawings.

FIG. 1 shows preferred embodiment 90. Steel angle 95 is welded to ground tube 94 and concreted in well 11 flush with or slightly higher than the ground 99. Alternatively, ground tube 94 can be made part of a portable but stable base.

Mast 93 is rotatably inserted into ground tube 94. Collar 92 with its integral welded skirt is slideably and rotatably installed on mast 93 at a position just above one of the through holes in mast 93. A hardened steel pin 12 inserted through the selected through hole then provides a stop that prevents collar 92 and its integral skirt from sliding downward on mast 93. A cap may be fixed on top of mast 93 to prevent rainwater from penetrating the mast and ground tube.

Pole 91 with welded handle 2 covered with pad 3 is fixed into pole sleeve 83 of mast sleeve assembly 80 (see FIG. 5) with a cold weld epoxy adhesive such as JB Weld 2-part epoxy available at hardware stores, auto parts stores, and home repair outlets. Alternatively, pole 91 and pole sleeve 83 can be notched and joined with a commonly used Woodruff key such as those available from Wilson Mfg. Co. of Pipestone, Minn. Woodruff keys can be force-fit or welded.

In the preferred embodiment, handle 2 consists of a tube or rod welded perpendicular to the distal end (outboard of mast 93) of pole 91, thus forming a “T.” Alternatively, handle 2 could be one or more steel loops. Mast sleeve assembly 80 consists of collar 81, mast sleeve 84, web 82, and pole sleeve 83, all of which are steel components welded together.

Mast sleeve assembly 80 and attached pole 91 are slideably and rotatably installed on mast 93 at a position just above one of the through holes in mast 93. A pin 12 inserted through the selected through hole then provides a stop that prevents mast sleeve assembly 80 from sliding downward on mast 93. If it is desired to position pole 91 in a particular angular location with respect to the vertical axis of mast 93, a pin 12 can be inserted through matching holes in mast sleeve 84 and mast 93 and a pin 12 can be inserted through matching holes in mast 93 and ground tube 94. The pins 12 will prevent rotation of mast sleeve assembly 80 and pole 91 around mast 93 and ground tube 94. Collars 81 and 92 provide perches and climbing steps for users.

Alternatively, if mast portability is not important, ground tube 94 is not necessary. Mast 93 can be concreted in well 11, with or without reinforcing angle 95, and rotatability of the mast sleeve assembly is not impaired.

The height of pole 91 above ground 99 is adjustable. Any of the holes drilled through mast 93 at predetermined intervals can receive a pin 12, thus allowing a user to independently adjust the height above ground of collar 92 and pole 91 (along with collar 81). There are seven pairs of holes (not shown), large enough to receive a ¼ inch rod or pin. The lowest hole pair is 12 inches above grade, and the other six pairs are spaced at 12 inches. Thus, the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1 is capable of seven different heights, one for each of the three hole 10 pairs, and one with the skirt of collar 92 resting on the top of ground tube 94 or the ground.

Changing the height of collar 81 or 92 requires alignment of the mounting holes in the collar with the mating mounting holes in the mast. This task can be simplified by the use of square tubing to form the collars and the sections of the mast that accommodate the collars. Collars would be made of square tubing larger than the mast section square tubing. Plastic inserts could be pressed or otherwise attached to the insides of the collars, thus filling the gaps between the collar and mast tubes, and protecting the surface finish of the mast. Mast rotatability would be preserved by using a cylindrical section of the mast inside the ground tube.

In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1 ground tube 94 is 3½ inch diameter schedule 40 steel pipe, 24 inches long. Mast 93 is 3 inch diameter schedule 40 steel pipe, 7 feet long. Collars 81 and 92 are 12¼ inch discs of 3/16 inch steel plate with 4 inch diameter center holes. The skirt welded to collar 92 is a 3½ inch diameter schedule 40 steel pipe. Mast sleeve 84 is a 4 inch long section of 3½ inch diameter schedule 40 steel pipe. Pole sleeve 83 is a 6 inch long section of 1¼ inch extra-extra-heavy steel pipe. Web 82 is a triangular section of 3/16 inch steel plate cut to form a 70 degree angle at the intersection of pole sleeve 83 and mast sleeve 84. The pole and mast sleeve intersection angle can be custom-fabricated to suit the user.

Pole 91 is a 7 foot long section of ⅞ inch diameter 5160 spring steel. Spring steel is commonly understood to be the category of steel alloy from which leaf, rod, bar, and wire springs can be manufactured. The alloy can be displaced from an unforced or neutral configuration or position by a force, and unless the resulting stress exceeds the alloy's elastic limit or yield point, the stored energy in the alloy due to the displacement causes the alloy to return to its unforced configuration. The pole is manufactured by Coiling Technologies, 7777 Wright Road, Houston, Tex. 77041.

The pole, mast, mast sleeve assembly, and collars are primed and powder coated with commonly understood processes. The ground tube is primed. Alternatively, some or all parts can be painted with industrial grade low maintenance paint.

FIG. 2 depicts the preferred embodiment of pad 3, with protruding handle 2 (see also FIG. 1), installed on pole 91 of the present invention. FIG. 3 is a cutaway drawing that shows how foam pad 3 completely encapsulates the hard surfaces of handle 2 and handle hub 18. In the present invention preferred embodiment, handle 2 is a 0.5 inch diameter steel rod 13½ inches long inserted through holes drilled in the sidewalls and on a diameter of handle hub 18 and welded to handle hub 18, which is a 1¼ inch diameter steel pipe 3 inches long. A steel disc 17 is welded to the open end of handle hub 18 that accommodates handle 2.

Pad 3 is then molded onto handle 2 and handle hub 18 in any moldable shape, size, and color. Disc 17 and a cylindrical slide in the pad mold opposite disc 17 prevent the entrance of foam, other molding materials, and debris into handle hub 18 during the molding operation. The mold slide also forms cylindrical tunnel 19 for receipt of one end of pole 91 subsequent to the mold operation. In the preferred embodiment, pad 3 is foam molded approximately ⅜ inches thick all around handle 2, except for the ends of handle 2 where the thickness is approximately 1½ inches. The foam is molded approximately 1½ inches thick all around handle hub 18. The hub section of pad 3 is therefore a cylinder with an approximate diameter of 4½ inches with bulbous ends (see FIG. 2) that make the overall length of the hub section of pad 3 approximately 5 inches. The pad material of the preferred embodiment is FMS 7134 Self Skinning Polyurethane Foam prepared and molded by Foam Molders & Specialties, 20004 State Road, Cerritos, Calif. 90703.

FIG. 3 shows that the end of cylindrical handle hub 18 opposite from handle 2 is left open and exposed in the pad molding operation. The resultant cylindrical cavity in pad 3, beginning with foam tunnel 19 and terminating inside handle hub 18, provides for receipt of the distal end of pole 91. The tip of the distal end of pole 91 has a diametrical groove or notch (not shown) just large enough to accommodate handle 2. With handle 2 nested in the pole end groove, it will not torque itself away from the pole during use.

The first approximately 5 inches of the distal end of the preferred embodiment ⅞ inch diameter pole 91 are left bare, while the adjacent approximately 24 inches of the pole distal end are wrapped with 2 inch doublesided tape that is subsequently coated with HF-100 Grip Activator. The tape and activator are generally used for wrapping golf club handles, and are available at golf equipment and pro shops. A ¼ inch thick foam grip sleeve available from Gripworks of Arnold, Mo. (stock no. 072264, FEX tubing 0.812-0.175-26.0-30.0-CPE/EPDM) is inserted over the tape while the activator is still damp and slick. For a larger pole, 15/16 inch diameter for example, a thinner grip sleeve might be required.

The approximate 5 inches of bare pole end, including the notched tip of the pole, are cleaned, dried, and coated with an approximate ⅛ inch thick layer of a cold weld epoxy adhesive such as JB Weld 2-part epoxy available at hardware stores, auto parts stores, and home repair outlets. Quickly enough to prevent the epoxy from prematurely curing, the distal end of pole 91 is press fit into the opening in pad 3 until it bottoms out in handle hub 18 with handle 2 nested in the pole tip notch. After the epoxy cures according to manufacturer's specifications, handle 2, pad 3, and pole 91 become an integral assembly.

Alternatively, hub 18 and the distal end of pole 91 can be notched with transverse half-round grooves that align when pole 91 is bottomed out inside hub 18. Handle 2 can then be fitted into the aligned grooves and welded to the hub groove, thus causing handle 2 and hub 18 to be permanently attached to each other. Handle 2 then acts as a Woodruff key to prevent a user from pulling the hub and handle off of pole 91.

FIG. 4 illustrates one of many possible variations of pad 3. The variation illustrated gives the user the option of sitting on pad 3 as well as gripping and hanging from handle 2.

FIG. 6 illustrates one of many possible alternatives 100 to the present invention preferred embodiment 90. Curved pole 1 with welded “T” handle 2 covered with pad 3 is rotateably inserted into the inner diameter of cylindrical support tube 4 that is part of a support tube assembly made of tubes 4, 6, and 9, collars 5, 7, and 8, and rod 14. As in the preferred embodiment, handle 2 can have many configurations other than the “T” design. Support tube 4 is welded to cylindrical support tube collar 5 that is in turn welded to cylindrical intermediate tube 6. Intermediate tube 6 is welded to cylindrical intermediate tube collar 7, which is welded to cylindrical intermediate tube skirt 8.

Intermediate tube collar 7 and intermediate tube skirt 8 are concentric to intermediate tube 6 and do not block the inner diameter of intermediate tube 6. Intermediate tube 6 is therefore able to receive cylindrical ground tube 9, the outer diameter of which is slightly smaller than the inner diameter of intermediate tube 6.

If it is desired to position pole 1 in a particular angular location with respect to the vertical axis of the support tube assembly, pin 12 inserted through matching holes in support tube 4 and pole 1, and retained by clip 13, can be used. Pin 12 will prevent rotation of pole 1.

Collars 5 and 7 provide perches and climbing steps for users. Ground tube 9 can be set in a concrete well 11 in the ground 99 or made part of a portable but stable base.

The height of pole 1 above ground 99 is adjustable. Any of the holes 10 through ground tube 9 can receive a hardened steel rod 14 that is slightly shorter than the inside diameter of intermediate tube skirt 8. FIG. 7 shows that with rod 14 centered in ground tube 9 through a hole 10, intermediate tube 6, complete with attached collars 7 and 8, can be slideably lowered onto ground tube 9 until the underside of intermediate tube collar 7 (welded to intermediate tube 6) rests on rod 14 with intermediate tube skirt 8 (welded to intermediate tube collar 7) shielding rod 14 from accidental user access. With collar 7 resting on rod 14, rod 14 is captured; its length prevents its movement beyond the inner diameter of intermediate tube skirt 8. Thus rod 14 cannot accidentally be vibrated out of hole 10 and can only be removed when intermediate tube 6 is raised high enough for rod 14 to clear tube skirt 8. A sufficiently long pin 12 that can be retained with a clip 13 can be used as an alternative to rod 14.

In the alternate embodiment of FIG. 6 ground tube 9 is 1½ inch diameter schedule 80 steel pipe, 5 feet long with 2 feet below grade. There are three pairs of holes 10, large enough to receive a 7/16 inch rod or pin. The lowest hole pair is 12 inches above grade, and the other two pairs are spaced at 12 inches. Thus, the alternate embodiment of FIG. 6 is capable of four different heights, one for each of the three hole 10 pairs, and one with intermediate tube skirt 8 resting on the ground.

Intermediate tube skirt 8 is a 2 inch long section of 8 inch diameter steel pipe. Intermediate tube collar 7 is a 9 inch diameter disc cut from ⅛ inch thick steel plate, and has a center hole the diameter of which is between the inner and outer diameters of intermediate tube 6 that is a 3 foot section of 2 inch diameter schedule 80 steel pipe. Support tube collar 5 is a 9 inch diameter disc cut from ⅛ inch thick steel plate. Support tube 4 is a 6 inch section of 1¼ inch diameter extra-extra-heavy grade steel pipe.

Pole 1 is ⅞ inch diameter 5160 spring steel. It is manufactured by Coiling Technologies, 7777 Wright Road, Houston, Tex. 77041. A seven foot long piece is bent in a hot oil bath to an angle between 90 and 140 degrees, beginning at a point approximately 12 inches from one end. The bend radius is 4 feet. The pole is primed and powder coated with commonly understood processes.

FIG. 8 illustrates one of many possible alternatives to the present invention preferred embodiment. In apparatus 200, curved pole 1, the same or a similar pole as described as part of the alternate embodiment 100, is utilized in a support tube assembly different from that of the alternate embodiment 100. Cylindrical steel ground tube 70 is concreted in the ground 99 or made part of a portable but stable base. Cylindrical steel standpipe 60 provides rigid support for cylindrical steel couplings 20, 30, 40, and 50, all of which are capable of rotation around the center axis of standpipe 60. Curved pole 1 is capable of rotation inside coupling 30. Collars can be attached to tubes 20 and 40 to provide perches and climbing steps for users similar to collars 5 and 7 of the alternate embodiment 100 (FIG. 6). None of the components of FIG. 8 are drawn to any particular scale, and they can all be scaled to accommodate various desired poles and users. For example, standpipe 60 and couplings 20, 30, 40, and 50 can be manufactured in various heights, thus presenting the opportunity for users of different heights to use the same apparatus with the change of one or more parts of the support tube assembly.

FIG. 9 illustrates one of many possible alternatives to the present invention preferred embodiment. In assembly 21, the two sections of pipe 22 and 23 coupled with coiled spring 24 simulate the spring action of spring steel pole 91 of the preferred embodiment. Sections 22 and 23 may be steel or composite, solid or tubular, and are inserted inside the ends of spring 24 with a press fit sufficient to preclude loosening during use. The size of sections 22 and 23 and spring 24, and the depth of insertion of the sections into spring 24 are determined by the size of the intended users and the desired amount of pole flexure.

FIGS. 10a and 10b illustrate one of many possible alternatives 300 to the present invention preferred embodiment 90. In apparatus 300, lower tube section 25, pole 33, pivot wheel 29, cable 36, piston 37, stop 26, and commonly understood compression spring 39 simulate the spring action of spring steel pole 91 of the preferred embodiment. Lower tube section 25 can be set in a concrete well in the ground or made part of a portable but stable base.

In FIGS. 10a and 10b compression spring 39 is fully extended, pushing piston 37 to its lowest position inside lower tube section 25. The force exerted by spring 39 in its fully extended position is sufficient to raise pole 33 to its highest position, where tab 35 on bracket 28 butts against a similar tab (not shown) on bracket 32. The extension of spring 39 raises pole 33 by means of cable 36 that is led through a center hole in piston 37 and captured with crimp 38. As spring 39 pushes against stop 26 attached to the top of lower tube section 25, piston 37 is forced down, away from stop 26. The top end of cable 36 is attached to pulley 29 and causes pulley 29 to turn on axle 31 supported by brackets 28 attached to lower tube section 25. Because brackets 32 are attached to pole 33 and to axle 31, rotation of pulley 29 raises pole 33. A user pulling on the distal end of pole 33, the end farthest away from lower tube section 25, compresses spring 39, thus obtaining the same spring sensation experienced by a user of the spring steel pole of the preferred embodiment.

FIG. 11 illustrates one of many possible alternatives to the present invention preferred embodiment. In apparatus 400 the lower tube section 42, pole 43, bushings 44 and 45, and a commonly understood torsion spring 41 with first and second arms simulate the spring action of spring steel pole 91 of the preferred embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1. Lower tube section 42 can be set in a concrete well in the ground or made part of a portable but stable base. Bushing 45 is fixed inside lower tube section 42, and the first arm of spring 41 is capable of rotation inside bushing 45. Alternatively, the first arm of spring 41 is fixed to the center cavity of bushing 45, and bushing 45 is capable of rotation inside lower tube section 42. The second arm of spring 41 is fixed inside the center cavity of bushing 44, which is fixed inside one end of pole 43.

FIG. 12 illustrates one of many possible alternatives to the present invention preferred embodiment. In apparatus 500, lower tube section 42, bushing 45, and poles 46 and 47 simulate the spring action of spring steel pole 91 of the preferred embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1. Pole 46 is constructed of cylindrical spring steel identical or similar to the spring steel used for pole 91 of preferred embodiment 90. Pole 46 is welded or otherwise attached to pole 47, which is constructed of a material less expensive than spring steel. Alternatively, pole 46 can be constructed of flat spring steel. Lower tube section 42 can be set in a concrete well in the ground or made part of a portable but stable base. Bushing 45 is fixed inside lower tube section 42, and pole 46 is capable of rotation inside bushing 45. Alternatively, pole 46 is fixed to the center cavity of bushing 45, and bushing 45 is capable of rotation inside lower tube section 42.

FIG. 13 illustrates one of many possible variations of the present invention preferred embodiment. Any of the ground tubes, ground support tubes, or lower tube sections described as part of the preferred embodiment or its alternatives can be set in concrete. Alternatively those components can be removeably held in a portable but stable base such as that illustrated in FIG. 13. Hollow watertight molded ABS plastic base 51 contains a central well 53 the interior of which has no communication with the interior of base 51. Water filling base 51 through sealable port 54 will not enter central well 53, which is capable of receiving any of the ground support tubes or lower tube sections described as part of the present invention preferred embodiment or its alternatives. Base 51 can be sized so that its weight, when filled with water, will provide stability sufficient for the size of the user of the present invention. Drain port 56 is a valve or cap through which water can be drained.

Alternatively, base 51 can be manufactured using many materials other than ABS, and it can be manufactured with a port 54 large enough to accept sand, gravel, or other materials capable of providing the desired stability. Alternatively, for ease of transport and setup, base 51 can be manufactured as multiple interlocking sections, each having its own fill and drain ports. Alternatively, base 51 can be manufactured as a solid, thereby negating the need for filling. Flange 52, integral with base 51, has several slots through which stakes, lag screws, or bolts may be inserted for attachment of base 51 to various ground or floor materials.

It will be apparent to those with ordinary skill in the relevant art having the benefit of this disclosure that the present invention provides an apparatus for recreational and fitness use. It is understood that the forms of the invention shown and described in the detailed description and the drawings are to be taken merely as presently preferred examples and that the invention is limited only by the language of the claims. The drawings and detailed description presented herein are not intended to limit the invention to the particular embodiment disclosed. While the present invention has been described in terms of one preferred embodiment and several alternatives thereof, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that form and detail modifications can be made to those embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention.