Title:
Sprinkler repair auger
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A Sprinkler Repair Auger is disclosed. The auger is particularly helpful because it is configured to cut a hole into the ground surrounding a conventional pop-up sprinkler head so that the sprinkler head can be easily accessed for repairs and/or replacement. The auger should is to a conventional power tool, such as an electric drill or related equipage. The auger has a hollow-tipped bit configured surround the sprinkler head. The auger further includes a stabilizing assembly associated with the auger to provide stability and safety while holes are being formed. The stabilizing assembly further has retractable legs upon which the user can stand to further stabilize the device while making holes. Finally, the assembly includes a guide for guiding the auger bit as it cuts, as well as a lower sleeve to protectively surround the auger bit and hole while cutting.



Inventors:
Mora, Octavio (Murieta, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/521838
Publication Date:
03/20/2008
Filing Date:
09/14/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
175/394
International Classes:
E21B10/44
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
RO, YONG-SUK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Karl M. Steins (Steins & Associates Suite 120 2333 Camino del Rio South, San Diego, CA, 92108, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An auger assembly, comprising: a rotating auger bit assembly, comprising: an auger bit having a cylindrical tube defined by a hollow inner bore and a cutting blade extending outwardly from said cylindrical tube; and a guide shaft extending from a top closed end of said auger bit cylindrical tube; and a non-rotating stabilizing assembly, comprising: an upper stabilizing sleeve configured to accept said guide shaft therein; and at least one stabilizing leg extending outwardly from said stabilizing assembly.

2. The assembly of claim 1, wherein: said guide shaft comprises an elongate hollow tube having a closed top end and a closed lower end; said auger bit further comprises an auger drive shaft attachable to said lower end of said guide shaft; and said assembly further comprising an upper drive shaft extending upwardly from said closed top end of said guide shaft.

3. The assembly of claim 2, wherein said stabilizing assembly comprises a lower stabilizing sleeve from which each said stabilizing leg extends, said upper stabilizing sleeve in spaced relation to said lower stabilizing sleeve and attached thereto by one or more strut members.

4. The assembly of claim 3, wherein said elongate hollow tube of said guide shaft defines a first outer diameter and said upper stabilizing sleeve defines an inner bore diameter that is greater than said first outer diameter.

5. The assembly of claim 4, wherein said lower stabilizing sleeve defines a second inner bore diameter and said auger bit blade defines a blade outer diameter, said blade outer diameter being less than said second inner bore diameter.

6. The assembly of claim 5, wherein said lower stabilizing sleeve defines a generally circular tube and said upper stabilizing sleeve defines a generally circular tube and said assembly comprises three said strut members in spaced relation and interconnecting said lower sleeve and said upper sleeve.

7. The assembly of claim 6, wherein one said strut member further comprises a grasping handle extending therefrom.

8. The assembly of claim 7, comprising a pair of said stabilizing legs on opposing sides of said lower stabilizing sleeve, said stabilizing legs pivotally attached to said lower stabilizing sleeve.

9. A device for boring holes in earth, comprising: a stabilizing assembly, comprising: a lower sleeve having an inner bore; an upper sleeve attached in spaced relation to said lower sleeve, said upper sleeve having an inner bore, said upper sleeve inner bore defining a diameter that is less than said lower sleeve inner bore; and at least one stabilizing member extendable from said lower sleeve; and an auger bit assembly, comprising: a guide shaft slidingly inserted through said upper and lower sleeve, said guide shaft having an elongate tubular shape and an upper and lower end; and an auger bit extending from said lower end of said guide shaft, said auger bit defining an outer diameter that is greater than said guide shaft outer diameter and said upper sleeve inner bore diameter, yet smaller than said lower sleeve inner bore diameter.

10. The device of claim 9, comprising a pair of said stabilizing members on opposing sides of said lower sleeve, said stabilizing members pivotally attached to said lower sleeve.

11. The device of claim 10, wherein said lower sleeve defines a generally circular tube and said upper sleeve defines a generally circular tube and said assembly comprises three strut members in spaced relation and interconnecting said lower sleeve and said upper sleeve.

12. The device of claim 11, wherein one said strut member further comprises a grasping handle extending therefrom.

13. The device of claim 12, wherein: said guide shaft comprises an elongate hollow tube having a closed top end and a closed lower end; said auger bit further comprises an auger drive shaft attachable to said lower end of said guide shaft; and said assembly further comprising an upper drive shaft extending upwardly from said closed top end of said guide shaft.

14. The device of claim 13, wherein said elongate hollow tube of said guide shaft defines a first outer diameter and said upper sleeve defines an inner bore diameter that is greater than said first outer diameter.

15. The device of claim 14, wherein said lower sleeve defines a second inner bore diameter and said auger bit blade defines a blade outer diameter, said blade outer diameter being less than said second inner bore diameter.

16. A method for digging holes, comprising the steps of: attaching an auger assembly to the chuck of a rotational power tool, said auger assembly comprising: an auger bit having a cylindrical tube defined by a hollow inner bore and a cutting blade extending outwardly from said cylindrical tube; and a guide shaft extending from a top closed end of said cylindrical tube; and a non-rotating stabilizing assembly, comprising: a stabilizing sleeve configured to accept said guide shaft therein; and at least one stabilizing leg extending outwardly from said stabilizing assembly; resting said stabilizing assembly on the ground; and rotating said chuck with said power tool while exerting downward force on each said stabilizing leg.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to tools and fixtures and, more specifically, to a Sprinkler Repair Auger.

2. Description of Related Art

In-ground “pop-up” irrigation systems have become standard equipment in most residential landscaping situations. Manufacturers now provide a wide range of high-quality, affordable component parts for use by either the professional or the inexperienced homeowner. FIG. 1 depicts the components of a conventional pop-up sprinkler 10.

The irrigation system is distributed across the entire area of the landscape to be irrigated. There is a network of water supply piping 14 buried underneath the surface of the terrain 12. At each point where water dispensing is desired, a branch fitting is spliced into the piping 14. A threaded piece of tubing, known as a riser 18 is threaded into the branch fitting 16. A housing 20 is then threaded onto the threaded end of the riser tube 18. The pop-up member 22 is a tubular member that is retacted into the housing 20 via a spring or other biasing device. When water pressure is applied to the system 18, the internal pressure forces the pop-up member 22 to extend (as shown), and water begins emitting through the spray head 24. The pop-up member 22 and spray head 24 can be easily removed (such as for repair/replacement) by unscrewing the threaded collar that attaches these elements to the housing.

While the spray head 24 and pop-up member 22 are easy to remove after the sprinkler system has been installed and covered with dirt, it is not so easy to remove the housing 20 for repair and replacement. Over time, the dirt around the housing 20 becomes packed tightly against the outside of the housing 20 from repeated wettings and simple settling (perhaps from pedestrian traffic thereon). As a result, it is very hard to grasp the housing 20 so that it can be unscrewed from the riser 18 or branch fitting 16. Historically, the only solution has been to carefully dig out the dirt surrounding the threaded collar 26 and housing 20 until the branch fitting 16 is uncovered. Once the dirt is removed, the housing-20 can be grasped and unscrewed for replacement.

This process is very time-consuming and can actually lead to accidental damage to the underground piping (i.e. by striking the piping with the shovel). What is needed is a device and method that allows the dirt surrounding the housing 20 of a conventional pop-up sprinkler 10 to be quickly and safely removed so that the housing 20 can be quickly removed and repaired or replaced.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In light of the aforementioned problems associated with the prior devices, it is an object of the present invention to provide a Sprinkler Repair Auger. The auger would be particularly helpful if it was configured to cut a hole into the ground surrounding a conventional pop-up sprinkler head so that the sprinkler head could be easily accessed for repairs and/or replacement. The auger should be attachable to a conventional power tool, such as an electric drill or related equipage. The auger should have a hollow-tipped bit configured surround the sprinkler head. The auger should further include a stabilizing assembly associated with the auger to provide stability and safety while holes are being formed. The stabilizing assembly should have retractable legs upon which the user can stand to further stabilize the device while making holes. Finally, the assembly should include a guide for guiding the auger bit as it cuts, as well as a lower sleeve to protectively surround the auger bit and hole while cutting.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The objects and features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The present invention, both as to its organization and manner of operation, together with further objects and advantages, may best be understood by reference to the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, of which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional pop-up sprinkler and associated piping;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the auger assembly of the present invention being driven by a conventional power tool;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the rotating components of the device of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the non-rotating parts of the device of FIG. 2; and

FIGS. 5A-5D are perspective views of the device of FIG. 2 depicting the device's operation in digging a hole.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following description is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the invention and sets forth the best modes contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention. Various modifications, however, will remain readily apparent to those skilled in the art, since the generic principles of the present invention have been defined herein specifically to provide a Sprinkler Repair Auger.

The present invention can best be understood by initial consideration of FIG. 2. FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the auger assembly 30 of the present invention being driven by a conventional power tool 32. The assembly 30 has an upper shaft that is grasped by the chuck 33 of the rotating power tool 32. Here, a large power drill is depicted, however, any durable power tool able to cause a shaft to rotate could be used.

The assembly 30 has a unique, specialty auger bit 34 that is specially configured to remove the dirt from around a conventional pop-up sprinkler head. Among other features, the bit 34 has an open mouth 42 that is sized to fit over the top of the threaded collar and housing (see. FIG. 1) while the auger bit 34 is digging into the ground.

The rotating motion is transferred from the power tool 32 to the bit 34 by a guide shaft 40 that interconnects the two. As will be discussed in more detail below, the guide shaft 40 serves as a drive shaft for the rotation of the bit 34, but also as a guide for causing the bit 34 to dig in a straight and well-controlled (and safe) manner.

The guide shaft 40 cooperates with the stabilizing assembly 36 to force the bit 34 to dig straight. One unique structural feature of the assembly 36 is that there are a pair of stabilizing legs 38A and 38B that can be selectively folded up (for transport or storage), or folded down as shown here. When folded down, the user can stand on them (they will be flat against the ground) while a hole is being augered to stabilize the entire assembly 30 (and power tool 32) while augering. This unique structure eliminates the need for a second person to hold the assembly 30 while in operation. If we now turn to FIG. 3, we can continue to examine the unique features of this design.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the rotating components of the device of FIG. 2. The guide shaft 54 is preferably a hollow tubular member having an enclosed internal volume and an upper drive shaft 56 extending from the top end and an auger drive shaft 52 extending downwardly from the bottom end of the guide shaft. It is preferable that the auger bit 34 be disconnectable from the guide shaft 54 (such as by a breaking a threaded connection within the auger drive shaft 52) so that the auger bit 34 can be repaired or replaced as necessary due to wear and tear.

The auger bit 34 has a cylindrical tube 44 that defines a hollow inner bore 46 that is closed at its top end, but has an open mouth 42 at its bottom end. The wall 48 of the tube 44 has a worm screw-type cutting blade 50 extending outwardly from it. As should be apparent, when the bit 34 is rotated (clockwise in the depicted version) while being pressed onto the ground, the blade 50 will dig into the ground and will pull the bit 34 down to gradually create a hole.

It should be understood that even though the disclosed primary purpose of this device is to dig out existing pop-up sprinkler housings, the device would also function very well to dig holes for the installation of new sprinklers. In the case of new installations, however, the digging for the piping system would still need to be done by other methods.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the non-rotating parts of the device of FIG. 2. Any time hard-packed dirt is being dug into, particularly when using an auger and a power drill, stabilizing the mechanism can prove difficult. Historically, hole augers have required two persons to operate-one holding onto handles provided on each side of the machine. The device of the present invention eliminates this need by having an integrated stabilizing apparatus associated with the digging components of the device.

The stabilizing assembly 36 has a pair of opposing stabilizing legs 38A and 38B that can be folded down (see dashed lines) so that they can be rested on the surface of the ground; the user then simply places his or her feet atop of them and then stands there while operating the auger motion. These stabilizing legs 38A and 38B provide a single individual with very good control of the equipment even in the hardest dirt.

The assembly 36 has a lower sleeve 58 that serves two purposes: (1) it works as a guard to protect the user from the auger bit while augering holes; and (2) it is the base to which the stabilizing legs 38A and 38B attach. The lower sleeve bore 68 is sized so that the auger bit can pass upon and down therethrough without plenty of space. The legs 38A and 38B pivotally attach to the lower sleeve 58 via mounting brackets 66.

An upper sleeve 60 is in spaced relation above the lower sleeve 58, and is attached thereto by a plurality of struts 62A-62C. Furthermore, strut 62A (or more struts) has a handle 64 extending therefrom to provide a convenient carrying location for the user. The upper sleeve bore 70 is sized so that the guide shaft (see FIG. 3) can slide up and down (and rotate) therein while the tool is in operation. When the user stands upon the stabilizing legs 38, the lower sleeve 58 is held firmly in place, which in turn holds the upper sleeve 60 firmly in place. The upper sleeve 60 in turn stabilizes the guide shaft while the guide shaft slides down through the assembly 36 as the bit is augering a hole. FIGS. 5A-5D clearly depict this progression.

FIGS. 5A-5D are perspective views of the device of FIG. 2 depicting the device's operation in digging a hole. In FIG. 5A, the legs are folded up and the bit 34 is fully retracted within the lower sleeve 58. As can be seen, the bottom of the guide shaft 54 is still completely within the bore of the upper sleeve 60. Prior to digging commencing, the legs 38A and 38B are folded down as shown in FIG. 5B.

Here, it appears that the auger bit 34 has begun to dig into the ground. As the hole gets deeper, the bit 34 will begin to protrude out of the bottom of the lower sleeve 58, while the bottom surface of the sleeve 58 remains on top of the ground. The guide shaft 54 has been permitted to slide down through the upper sleeve 60 as the bit 34 continues to dig.

FIG. 5C depicts the bit 34 fully exposed beneath the lower sleeve 58, indicating that the hole has been dug to a depth the same as the length of the bit 34. Since the top end of the bit 34 is closed, the user would not be able to dig below this level if the user is digging out an existing sprinkler housing. If this was a new hole, the bit 34 could be pulled out of the new hole, emptied, and then a deeper hole could be dug (see FIG. 5D).

If uncovering an existing sprinkler, the closed-top bit 34 will serve a safety role-when the closed top reaches the top of the sprinkler housing, it will prevent the bottom of the auger bit 34 from digging into the piping system and/or branch fitting (see FIG. 1). If the height of the sprinkler housing is unknown, the user can start by using a short bit 34 (e.g. 6 inches long) to avoid digging the hole too deep. Once the shallow hole is dug, the user can evaluate whether the housing is longer, at which time the user can exchange the short bit with a longer bit.

As discussed above, FIG. 5D shows the bit 34 after digging to the full extent of the guide shaft 54, such as when digging a hole for a new sprinkler head.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various adaptations and modifications of the just-described preferred embodiment can be configured without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Therefore, it is to be understood that, within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically described herein.