Title:
Simulated stone or brick column and method of fabricating same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A simulated stone or brick column which is fabricated by a method which involves providing a hollow closed mold which has an inner face in the form of a reverse image of the desired stone or brick surface. Two casting materials are sequentially introduced into the mold and in each case the mold is rotated about two perpendicular axes so that the casting material coats the inner face of the mold and results in the formation of a hollow column having the external appearance of the desired stone or brick surface. The two casting materials form an outer layer which has a texture and contour which simulate a stone or brick surface, and an inner layer which is adheredt to the outer layer and imparts high strength with minimal weight. A standard mailbox and newspaper tube can be integrally molded within the column.



Inventors:
Oram, William Stephen (Taylorsville, NC, US)
Oram, Weldin Wayne (Taylorsville, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/435119
Publication Date:
11/22/2007
Filing Date:
05/16/2006
Assignee:
ARC TECHNOLOGIES, llc
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04F15/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JAYNE, DARNELL M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALSTON & BIRD LLP (BANK OF AMERICA PLAZA, 101 SOUTH TRYON STREET, SUITE 4000, CHARLOTTE, NC, 28280-4000, US)
Claims:
That which is claimed:

1. A method of fabricating a simulated stone or brick column, comprising the steps of providing a hollow closed mold having a peripheral side wall and opposite end plates, with at least the peripheral side-wall having an inner face which comprises a reverse image of a stone or brick surface, introducing a first liquid casting material into the mold, rotating the mold about two different axes to cause the first casting material to coat the inner face of the side wall and the opposite end plates of the mold, allowing the first liquid casting material to cure and harden, introducing a second liquid casting material into the mold, rotating the mold about said two different axes so as to cause the second casting material to coat the hardened first casting material, allowing the second liquid casting material to cure and harden, and opening the mold so as to permit removal of the resulting molded column, and such that the resulting molded column comprises a peripheral side wall and upper and bottom end walls, with at least the peripheral side wall of the molded column having an exterior surface in the form of a positive image of the stone or brick surface.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the peripheral side wall and upper and lower end walls of the resulting molded column each comprise an outer layer formed by the first casting material and an inner layer which is adhered to the outer layer and is formed by the second casting material.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the first casting material comprises a composition which is formulated to provide the realistic look and texture of stone or brick in the outer surface of at least the peripheral side wall of the resulting molded column.

4. The method of claim 3 wherein the second casting material comprises a mixture of a polymeric resin and fiber strands which is formulated to provide tensile strength while adding minimal weight to the walls of the resulting molded column.

5. The method of claim 1 wherein the peripheral side wall and at least one of the end plates of the hollow closed mold comprise a relatively rigid outer panel and a liner releasably secured to the inside of the rigid outer panel, and wherein the liner is provided with said reverse image of a stone or brick surface.

6. The method of claim 5 wherein the peripheral side wall of the mold comprises four generally flat side wall members which are releasably interconnected to define a rectangular configuration in horizontal cross section.

7. The method of claim 6 comprising the further step of assembling a standard mailbox in one of the side wall members of the mold so that the openable end portion of the mailbox extends through at least a portion of the liner of the side wall member of the mold and so that the openable end lies closely adjacent the outer panel of the side wall member.

8. The method of claim 7 comprising the further subsequent step of partially filling the interior of the resulting molded column with an expandable foam product so as to form a foam which surrounds and supports the mailbox in the interior of the resulting molded column.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein the two different axes about which the mold is rotated are in each rotating step substantially perpendicular to each other.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein the rotational speed about each axis in each rotating step is between about 2 and 20 rotations per minute.

11. The method of claim 1 wherein one of the end plates of the mold is configured to form a closed bottom end wall of the resulting column having a smooth exterior surface, and wherein the method comprises the further subsequent step of mounting the molded column on the ground and including securing a flat footer on the surface of the ground, applying an adhesive to the exterior surface of the bottom end wall of the molded column and/or to the footer plate, and mounting the molded column upon the footer plate so that the exterior surface of the bottom end wall rests upon the footer plate and the adhesive secures the molded column thereupon.

12. The method of claim 1 wherein the peripheral side wall and at least one of the end plates of the mold have an inner face which comprises a reverse image of a stone or brick surface with grout lines between the individual stones or bricks, and so that the positive image which is imparted to the peripheral side wall and at least one end wall of the molded column includes grout lines.

13. The method of claim 12 comprising the further subsequent steps of covering the grout lines of the molded column with a removeable stencil, then spray painting the peripheral side wall and the at least one end wall of the molded column so that the stencil prevents the application of the paint to the grout lines, and then removing the stencil from the molded column.

14. A method of fabricating a simulated stone or brick mailbox supporting column, comprising the steps of providing a hollow closed mold having four peripheral side wall members disposed in a rectangular configuration in cross section, and opposite end plates, with the side wall members and at least one of the end plates each comprising a relatively rigid outer panel and a relatively thick liner adhered to the inside of the panel, with the liner having an inner face which comprises a reverse image of a stone or brick surface, assembling a standard mailbox in the mold so that the openable end portion of the mailbox extends into a close fitting opening in the liner of one of the side wall members and to a point adjacent the outer panel thereof, introducing a first liquid casting material into the mold, rotating the mold about two essentially perpendicular axes to cause the first casting material to coat the inner face of the liners of the four side wall members and the liner of the at least one end plate of the mold, allowing the first liquid casting material to cure and harden, introducing a second liquid casting material into the mold, rotating the mold about said two axes so as to cause the second casting material to coat the hardened first casting material, allowing the second liquid casting material to cure and harden, and opening the mold so as to permit removal of the resulting molded column, and such that the resulting molded column comprises four peripheral side wall members and upper and bottom end walls, with the peripheral side wall members and at least one of the end walls of the molded column having an exterior surface in the form of a positive image of the stone or brick surface.

15. The method of claim 14 wherein the resulting molded column has a closed upper end wall and a closed bottom end wall, and comprising the further subsequent step of positioning the resulting molded column so that its upper end wall is below its bottom end wall, and then introducing an expandable foam material into the column so as to fill the bottom portion of the column and surround the mailbox, while causing the upper portion of the column to remain open.

16. The method of claim 14 wherein the first casting material comprises a gypsum based composition which generates an exothermic reaction when mixed and which is formulated to provide the realistic look of grout and stone or brick in the resulting molded column.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein the second casting material comprises a mixture of polyurethane and chopped fiberglass strands and which is formulated to provide tensile strength while adding minimal weight to the resulting molded column.

18. A simulated stone or brick column configured to serve as a support for a plaque, light, mailbox, or the like, or a fence post, and comprising a molded column of elongate tubular configuration and which comprises a peripheral side wall, an upper end wall, and a bottom end wall which are joined together to form a hollow enclosure, said peripheral side wall, said upper end wall, and said bottom end wall each comprising an outer layer of a material which is formulated to simulate the texture of stone or brick and grout in the molded column, and an inner layer which is adhered to the outer layer and comprises a mixture of a polymeric resin and fiber strands which is formulated to provide tensile strength while adding minimal weight to the molded column, and said outer layer having an outer surface which is contoured to resemble a stone or brick surface with grout between the stones or bricks.

19. The column of claim 18 wherein the peripheral side wall comprises four generally flat side wall members which collectively form a rectangle in horizontal cross section.

20. The column of claim 19 further comprising a standard mailbox mounted to extend through one of the side wall members so that the openable end of the mailbox is accessible from the outside of the column and the rear end portion of the mailbox is within the hollow enclosure.

21. The column of claim 20 wherein the hollow enclosure is at least partially filled with a foam material so as to surround and support the rear end portion of the mailbox within the enclosure.

22. The column of claim 18 wherein the thickness of the outer layer and the inner layer is in each case between about 3/32 and 3/16 inches.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a simulated stone or brick column which is configured to serve as a support for a plaque, light, or mailbox, or as a fence post.

Columns and posts of the described type are conventionally formed of wood, stone, or brick. Wooden posts quickly deteriorate and become unsightly, while stone or brick posts are expensive to fabricate at their location of use. Also, when such columns or posts are mounted adjacent a roadway, they can cause significant damage if accidentally impacted by an automobile.

It is accordingly an object of the present invention to provide a column or post of the described type, which presents an attractive appearance, which is long lasting, and which is relatively inexpensive to fabricate and maintain.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide a simulated stone or brick column which can be placed adjacent a roadway to support a mailbox and/or newspaper tube, and which is of low weight, and is designed to easily break away from its mounting, to thereby minimize the risk of damage to an automobile which accidentally impacts the column.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a column or post which can be mass produced at a manufacturing facility and then easily mounted as a one-piece unit at its point of use.

It is still another object to provide a column or post of the described type which is highly resistant to deterioration, and yet is of low weight so as to further facilitate its mounting at the intended point of use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The above and other objects and advantages of the invention are achieved by the provision of a simulated stone or brick column which is fabricated by a method which involves providing a hollow closed mold which has a peripheral side wall and opposite end plates, and with at least the peripheral side wall having an inner face which comprises a reverse image of a stone or brick surface. A first liquid casting material is introduced into the mold, and the mold is rotated about two different axes so as to cause the material to coat the inner face of the side wall and the opposite end plates. The first casting material is allowed to cure and harden, and a second liquid casting material is then introduced into the mold and the rotation is repeated. After the second casting material hardens, the mold is opened to permit removal of the molded column. The peripheral side wall of the resulting molded column will thus have an exterior surface in the form of a positive image of the stone or brick surface.

The first liquid casting material thus forms an outer layer of the wall of the resulting molded column, and it is formulated to provide, upon hardening, the realistic look and texture of stone or brick. The second liquid casting material is formulated to provide, upon hardening, an inner wall layer which provides significant tensile strength while adding minimal weight to the resulting column.

The method of the present invention readily lends itself to an embodiment wherein a standard mailbox may be integrally mounted in the column. In such case, the hollow interior of the molded column can be partially or completely filled with an expandable foam forming material so that the resulting foam securely supports the portion of the mailbox which extends into the interior of the column.

In other embodiments, the resulting molded column can be used as a fence post, with a railing mounted between adjacent posts, or the column can be used to support a plaque with a house number, a light, or the like.

In all of the above embodiments, the column can be easily mounted upon a flat foundation footer at its final point of use, by utilizing an adhesive which is positioned between the bottom wall of the column and the footer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Some of the objects and advantages of the present invention having been stated, others will appear as the description proceeds, when considered together with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a simulated stone mailbox supporting column which embodies the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of a step in the fabrication of the mold used to practice the present invention;

FIGS. 3A, 3B, and 3C are fragmentary cross sectional views taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 2 and illustrating additional steps in the fabrication of the mold;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a portion of the interior of the mold of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of the mold in an inverted orientation;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the mold during the step of introducing a first liquid casting material into the mold while it is inverted;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the step of rotating the mold about two axes;

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along the line 9-9 of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective view during the step of introducing a second liquid casting material into the mold;

FIG. 11 is a view similar to FIG. 8 and showing the second rotation step;

FIG. 12 is a cross sectional view of the mold during the step of introducing a foam forming material into the mold;

FIG. 13 is an exploded perspective view showing the step of disassembling the mold from the molded column;

FIG. 14 is a cross sectional view of the molded column after the foam forming material has been introduced;

FIG. 14A is a fragmentary enlarged view of the wall of the resulting molded column;

FIG. 15A is a fragmentary perspective view showing the step of applying a rubber-like stencil upon the top portion of the column so as to cover the grout lines of the column;

FIG. 15B is a fragmentary perspective view showing one of the spray painting steps;

FIG. 16A is a fragmentary perspective view showing the step of applying a rubber-like stencil upon two side walls of the column;

FIG. 16B is a perspective view of the spray painting of the side walls of the column;

FIG. 17 is a fragmentary perspective view showing the step of re-assembling the cover and flag of the mailbox;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view illustrating the application of an adhesive to the bottom wall of the column during its mounting upon a foundation footer;

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of the finished column which schematically illustrates its internal construction;

FIG. 20 is a perspective of a second embodiment of the invention in which the molded column serves as a fence post;

FIG. 20A is an exploded view showing the mounting of a railing to one of the fence posts of FIG. 20.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring more particularly to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates a finished mailbox supporting column which embodies the present invention. The column 10 is of elongate tubular configuration composed of a peripheral side wall 11, an upper end wall 14, and a bottom end wall 15 which are joined together to form a hollow enclosure, note FIG. 14. The peripheral side wall 11 is composed of four peripheral side wall members 12 which form a square when viewed in horizontal cross section, but round or other cross sectional configurations are possible in the practice of the present invention.

The four side wall members 12, the upper end wall 14, and the bottom end wall 15 each comprise an outer layer 16 (note FIG. 14A) of a material which is formulated to provide a realistic look of stone or brick and grout in the finished column. Each of these walls also comprises an inner layer 18 which comprises a mixture of a polymeric resin and fiber strands which is formulated to provide tensile strength while adding minimal weight to the resulting molded column. Also, the outer layer 16 has an outer surface which is shaped to resemble a stone or brick wall with grout between the stones or bricks.

In one preferred embodiment, the column 10 mounts a standard mailbox 20 which extends through one of the side wall members 12 so that the openable end of the mailbox is accessible from the outside of the column and the rear end portion is within the hollow enclosure formed by the walls of the column. Also, as seen in FIG. 14, the hollow enclosure is partially filled with a foam material 21 so as to surround and support the rear end portion of the mailbox within the enclosure.

The above described support column 10 is preferably fabricated by a molding process which is described in detail in the following paragraphs.

The Fabrication of the Mold

As a first step in the production process, a mold 24 is fabricated in which the column 10 is molded.

As is illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3A-3C, the fabrication of the mold 24 begins with the fabrication of a model which embodies the configuration and contoured surface of the desired column. The model may be formed by hand from stones or bricks, or by any other conventional technique.

Once the model is fabricated, it is covered with a layer of clay on all four sides and the top in the illustrated embodiment. The clay has a composition and consistency similar to that of conventional modeling clay used to make pottery, and it adheres to the model. The thickness of the clay is made as uniform as possible, and is typically about ¾ inches thick. The clay does not cover the bottom of the model in the illustrated embodiment.

Next, four outer panels 26 are formed, by for example spraying a coating of a fiberglass containing resin, such as polyester, onto the clay covered model. The outer panels 26 are preferably formed one at a time, and suitable forms are positioned along the edges and top and bottom to form side and end flanges on each panel. These flanges serve to interconnect the panels in a manner which will become apparent as the description proceeds. The fiberglass/resin coating is allowed to harden, resulting in the formation of a rigid outer panel 26 having a flat central portion which is surrounded by raised flanges.

A top end plate 28 is fabricated by the same technique, and a previously formed bottom end plate 29 is positioned to underlie the model and be attached to the flanges of the outer panels, note FIG. 13.

The flanges of the outer panels 26 and the top and bottom end plates 28, 29 are then drilled, to accommodate bolts for securing the components together, as described below.

The outer panels 26 are then removed one at a time, and the underlying clay is stripped from the model. The removed outer panel is then repositioned with the other outer panels and attached thereto by the bolts which join the adjacent flanges. This forms a void in the area previously occupied by the clay beneath the outer panel which has been removed and replaced, as seen in FIG. 3B. The void is then filled with a rubber-like liner material which is introduced through one or more holes (not shown) which are adjacent the upper flange of each panel. Also, one or more small vent holes (not shown) may be formed adjacent the bottom of each panel. During this filling operation, the assembly is preferably placed in a horizontal position, with the removed and replaced panel facing upwardly, and the liner material flows into all areas of the void between the model and the panel 26. Note in this regard that for the first filling operation, the remaining clay forms the boundary along both sides and top of the void.

Upon hardening, a liner 30 is formed and the inner surface of the liner will thereby be formed as a reverse image of the surface of the model.

The second through fourth outer panels 26 are sequentially removed, with the clay under each panel being stripped, and with the resulting void being filled with the liner material in the above described manner. The top end plate 28 is then removed, and the underlying clay is stripped to form a void which is filled with the liner material, note FIG. 3C.

As seen in FIG. 9, a number of bolts 32 may be mounted in the outer panels 26 to secure the liner to the panels. Each outer panel 26 and its attached liner 30 is referred to herein as a side wall member 34 of the mold and the four side wall members collectively form a peripheral side wall of the mold.

As final steps in fabricating the mold 24, the side wall members 34 and top end plate 28 are separated from each other and removed from the model. Since the liner 30 is fabricated sequentially beneath each outer panel 26 and the top end plate 28, there will be break lines formed between the several sections of the liner, and cutting of the liner is not usually required during this separation operation. The side wall members 34 and top and bottom end plates 28, 29 are then re-assembled by interconnecting the adjacent flanges to form a hollow closed mold, with the inner face of the side wall members 34 of the mold, and the inner face of the top end plate 28, forming a reverse image of the model and thus the surface of the desired final column.

The Mounting of the Mailbox in the Mold

As best seen in FIGS. 4-6, a standard mailbox 20 is mounted to extend into the interior of the mold 24. To facilitate the handling of the side wall members 34, two of the side wall members may be joined to form an L-shaped configuration as seen in FIG. 4. This permits the two joined side wall members to stand upright. Also, the conventional flag and hinged front door of the mailbox 20 are initially removed.

Next, an aperture 36 is cut or otherwise formed which extends through the liner 30 and outer panel 26 of one of the side wall members 34, note FIG. 5, with the aperture 36 having an outline which closely matches the peripheral cross-sectional outline of the mailbox 20. A closure panel or “door” 38 is then attached to the exterior of the outer panel so as to close the aperture, and the mailbox is inserted into the aperture so that its open front end abuts the door 38. A dowel rod 39 is joined to the rear end of the mailbox and extends through and is secured to the outside of the door so as to firmly hold the mailbox in the aperture in the position shown in FIGS. 4 and 5.

While the present embodiment shows a mailbox joined to the interior of the mold, it will be appreciated that a newspaper tube or other similar tubular member can be joined in this fashion.

The Molding Process

The side wall members 34 and the top and bottom end plates 28, 29 are joined to form a closed mold 24, and the mold is then inverted as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. A first liquid casting material 40 is then poured into the hollow mold through an aperture 41 in the bottom end plate 29 using a funnel 42. The aperture is then closed with a urethane rubber mold plug 44, which is fitted with a vent (not shown) that prevents the heat generated by the exothermic reaction from pressurizing the interior of the mold during curing. The mold is then mounted on a frame 45 which is configured to simultaneously rotate the mold 24 about two axes which are perpendicular to each other. The minor axis A is set to about six rotations per minute and the major axis B is set to about four rotations per minute.

Such rotation causes the liquid casting material 40, which initially forms a puddle in the bottom of the mold, to flow onto and cover all interior surfaces of the liner 30 on all four side wall members 34 as well as the liner on the top end plate 28 and the bottom plate 29, note FIG. 9. Centrifugal force is not required to effect the coating operation, and thus the low rotational speeds as indicated above are sufficient. The dual rotation typically continues for about 20-22 minutes, and the casting material is then allowed to cool and harden. Upon hardening, the first liquid casting material 40 forms the outer layer 16 (FIG. 14A) of the side wall member 12 of the molded column 10 and as described above. The average thickness of the hardened outer layer 16 is preferably between about 3/32 to 3/16 inches.

A preferred first liquid casting material 40 has the following composition, which is thoroughly mixed before use:

First Liquid Coating Material Mix Composition

 30 lbs.Gypsum (Densite HL - GP Gypsum Corp.)
 20 lbs.Sand
 15 lbs.Liquid Resin (Forton VF 812 -
EPS/CCA)
3 lbs.Dry Resin (Melamine Formaldehyde
Resin Powder - BTLSR Toledo, Inc.)
 68 gramsAmmonium Chloride Hardener (The
Dallas Group of America, Inc.)
4 fluid OuncesAccelerator (H2O + Aluminum Sulfate)
504 gramsPigment - Raw Umber (Kremmer
Pigments)
160 gramsPigment - Black (Kremmer Pigments)

After the first liquid casting material has set up and hardened in the mold 24, a second liquid casting material 48 is mixed and introduced into the mold via the same aperture 41 in the bottom end plate 29, note FIG. 10. The aperture is closed with the plug 44 and the mold is then rotated about the same two axes (FIG. 11) so as to cause the second liquid casting material to move outwardly and coat the hardened first material, i.e. the outer layer 16. This dual rotation typically continues for about 13 minutes, and the second material is then allowed to harden. Upon hardening, the second liquid casting material 48 forms the inner layer 18 (FIG. 14A) of the side wall member of the molded column 10, which self adheres to the outer layer 16, and which has an average thickness of between about 3/32 and 3/16 inches.

A preferred second liquid casting material 48 has the following composition:

Second Liquid Coating Material Mix Composition

 5 quarts8033 A Polyurethane (T. A. Davies Co.)
 5 quarts8033 B Polyurethane (T. A. Davies Co.)
10 gramsChopped Fiberglass strands

In a preferred embodiment, the mold 24 is next moved to an inverted position and held in this position while a foam forming composition 50 is delivered into the mold through the aperture 41 in the bottom end plate 29. The resulting foam 21 typically surrounds and supports the mailbox 20, and occupies about ⅔ of the height of the inverted mold as represented by the letter A in FIG. 12. The remaining portion of the height which is represented by the letter B, remains open.

A preferred foam forming composition comprises:

½ gal. polymeric isocyanate - A
½ gal. Polyurethane Foam Resin - B
(Instapak FLOWRITE - Sealed Air)

Finally, after the foam composition 50 has cured to form the foam 21, the mold 24 is moved to its upright orientation and the side wall members 34 and top and bottom end plates 28, 29 are separated, note FIG. 13. At this point, it should be noted that the liners 30 adhere to the rigid outer panels 26, and the same components can be used to form additional molded columns without forming new liners. However, the liners can be stripped from the outer panels and new liners can be formed by the process described above, if the liners become damaged or otherwise need to replaced after one or more columns have been molded.

The molded column 10 has the appearance as shown in FIG. 14 at this point. The corner edges of the product may contain flashings formed by excess material where the mold panels are joined together, and if necessary such flashings can be removed by use of a hand chisel.

The Finishing of the Molded Product

To highlight the appearance of stones in the illustrated embodiment, the top portion of the molded column 10 is spray painted with one or more colors. First, the top portion is covered with a rubber-like stencil 52 which is configured to match the outline of the grout lines between the stones, note FIG. 15A. The remaining portion of the column is wrapped with a protective sheeting 53, and a base coat is applied to the top portion of the column by spraying. When it has dried, one or more highlight colors may be applied by spraying. Typically, the base coat is sprayed over the entire top portion, and the next colors are sporadically applied to highlight particular “stones”. The stencil 52 and protective sheeting 53 are then removed.

The molded column 10 is then laid horizontally upon a suitable dolly (not shown), and a rubber-like stencil 54 is applied to cover the grout lines on two sides of the column. The top portion of the column and mailbox opening are covered with a protective wrap 55. These two sides are then spray painted as described above, and the product is rotated through 1800 to expose the other two sides, which are then similarly covered with a stencil 54 and spray painted, note FIGS. 16A and 16B.

The stencils 52, 54 for the top portion of the column and the sides of the column may be initially fabricated by extruding a line of urethane rubber composition along the grout lines using a caulking gun. Upon hardening, a rubber-like network is produced which conforms closely to the grout lines. Once formed, the stencils can be re-used with a number of molded columns which are produced in the same mold.

The last step in the finishing process is to spray the entire column 10 with a sealer. This prevents moisture intrusion and lengthens the life of the paint. The protective wrap 55 is preferably retained on the mailbox during the spraying operation.

As shown in FIG. 17, the front door and the flag of the mailbox 20 are then re-attached to the box and the column respectively.

Assembly at Final Location

The finished column 10 and integral mailbox 20 are adapted to be easily mounted upon a cement foundation footer 56 as seen in FIGS. 18 and 19. The lower surface of the bottom end wall 15 of the column is preferably smooth and flat, resulting from the smooth and flat interior surface of the bottom end plate 29 of the mold, note FIG. 13. As a result, a suitable adhesive 58 can be applied to the bottom end surface, and/or the footer, so as to securely support the column 10 when it is mounted upon the footer and the adhesive dries. One or more upright bolts 59 can be mounted to extend upwardly through the footer and also through apertures (not shown) formed in the bottom end wall of the column, to further support the column if desired.

FIG. 19 is a schematic representation which indicates that the upper ⅔ of the column 10 is filled with the foam 21 and is thus relatively solid, while the lower ⅓ is hollow. The hollow and relatively weak bottom third permits the column to easily break apart or break away from the foundation footer 56 upon accidental impact, such as by an automobile. The damage to an automobile which impacts the column would thereby be minimized.

The embodiment of FIG. 19 also includes a hollow newspaper tube 60 which can be mounted in the column as described above with respect to the mailbox.

The Fencepost Embodiment

The features and advantages of the present invention can be achieved with a number of products in addition to a mailbox supporting column as described above. For example, and as illustrated in FIGS. 20 and 20A, the invention can be employed to fabricate a simulated brick fencepost 62. In this embodiment, a railing 64 can be easily joined between adjacent fenceposts, utilizing a plurality of mounting pads 65 which are shaped to match the contour of the “stones”, or in this case the “bricks”, and mounting brackets 66. In this embodiment, the presence of interior foam is most likely unnecessary, and the entire interior of the fencepost 62 could be hollow.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention set forth herein will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which the invention pertains having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing description and the associated drawings. While the invention has been described herein as being useful as a support for a plaque, light, or mailbox, or as a fence post, other uses are possible. For example, the column could be formed to surround and thus provide an ornamental outer cover for a structural beam or piling. Therefore, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.