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This invention relates to an apparatus and method for manufacturing a retaining wall element and to building a retaining wall using the retaining wall element, and more specifically to a retaining wall element having a unique offset design to allow for stacking of a plurality of retaining wall elements wherein the retaining wall element has an exposed face that simulates the appearance of wood.
Retaining walls have been used by builders and landscapers to hold back earth and other material in applications where there is the need to have more than one tier or ground level at a construction site. Initially, stacks of stone or other natural occurring materials were used to hold back the material. Later wood frames were assembled to accomplish that same objective.
With the invention and widespread use of the railroad system in the United States, builders also began using railroad ties in the design and construction of retaining walls. In that type of so-called “tie-wall” construction, the railroad ties were laid on their side and other railroad ties were stacked on the top of the side of the railroad tie beneath. This type of retaining wall design was readily accepted and has now become one of the styles of retaining walls that is most used by today's builders and landscape designers.
However, the railroad tie wall has a number of significant drawbacks. For example, in certain installations, a railroad tie that is resting on another railroad tie beneath may be dislocated due to the amount of pressure being placed on the back side of the railroad tie. Additionally, and even more significantly, railroad ties often deteriorate after only a few years of use. The only method of correcting this problem is to remove the deteriorated railroad tie and replace it with a new railroad tie. Often, an entire wall must be replaced to ensure that the integrity of the railroad tie retaining wall is maintained.
In accordance with the present invention, a new type of retaining wall element is disclosed wherein the retaining wall element includes an exposed face that simulates the color and texture of wood. Additionally, the sectional design of the present invention offers a unique method for interlocking a series of stacked retaining wall elements in a manner that resists the dislocation of the retaining wall element due to pressures placed upon the back side of the retaining wall.
In the accompanying drawings which form part of the specification:
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the method by which embodiment of the present invention can be assembled to generate a retaining wall.
FIG. 3 shows a front view of one embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 4 shows a vertical section view of one embodiment of the present invention.
Corresponding reference numerals indicate corresponding steps or parts throughout the several figures of the drawings.
While one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in the above referenced drawings and in the following description, it is understood that the embodiment shown is merely one example of a single preferred embodiment offered for the purpose of illustration only and that various changes in construction may be resorted to in the course of manufacture in order that the present invention may be utilized to the best advantage according to circumstances which may arise, without in any way departing from the spirit and intention of the present invention, which is to be limited only in accordance with the claims contained herein.
A preferred embodiment of the retaining wall element of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3. In this embodiment, the retaining wall element is about five feet in length and has a cross section in the general form shown in FIG. 4. In other embodiments, the overall length of the retaining wall element A can be adjusted to be more than 5 feet or less than 5 feet depending upon the application.
The retaining wall element A includes a first top surface 2 that is substantially offset from a second top surface 3 by a first offset portion 4. Similarly, a first bottom surface 5 is generally offset from a second bottom surface 6 by a second offset portion 7. A back surface 8 connects the second top surface 3 with the second bottom surface 6. In a similar manner, a front surface 9 connects the first upper surface 2 with the first bottom surface 5.
It is understood that in the present embodiment, the vertices 10 that form the corners between all surfaces 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are about 90 degrees. However, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that one or any combination of the vertices 10 may be adjusted to have angles of more than 90 degrees or less than 90 degrees and still remain within the scope of the present invention. For example, the first offset portion 4 in the present invention is perpendicular to the first top surface 2 and the second top surface 3. However, if an alternative interlocking method is desired, the first offset portion 4 could be oriented such that the angle between the first top surface 2 and the first offset portion 4 is an acute angle less than 90 degrees. This geometry would then cause the angle between the first offset portion 4 and the second top surface 3 to also be less than 90 degrees. The resultant shape in such an embodiment would be an overall top surface in the general form of a “Z.” In this embodiment the second offset portion 5 would be sized and oriented to match the first offset portion 4 to result in a substantially interlocking arrangement.
In another alternative embodiment, the first offset portion 4 and the second offset portion 7 are not flat. For example, the first offset portion 4 or the second offset portion 7 could be substantially arcuate. In this example, the offset portion 4 would have a radius or a combination of radii that would allow the adjacent first and second upper surfaces 2 and 3 to be connected by a substantially and generally curved surface. Likewise, the second offset portion 7 can also have a radius or a combination of radii that would allow the adjacent first and second bottom surfaces 5 and 6 to be connected by a substantially and generally curved surface. Additionally, the offset portions may also have any assymetrical arcuate or other geometric shape as along as the first offset portion 4 is sized and shaped to match the shape of the second offset portion 7.
In yet other embodiments, the first offset portion 4 and the second offset portion 7 would have angles greater than 90 degrees in relationship to the combination of the first upper surface 2 and the second upper surface 3, and the combination of the first bottom surface 5 and the second bottom 6, respectively. In either of these embodiments, all other vertices 10 are generally about 90 degrees. Nevertheless, other embodiments of the present invention can have any combination of vertices 10 that are either greater or less than 90 degrees and still remain within the scope of the present invention. Regardless of the angle of any of the vertices 10, it is understood that the combination of the first top surface 2, the second top surface 3, and the first offset portion 4 is sized and configured to generally match the configuration of the combination of the first bottom surface 5, the second bottom surface, 6 and the second offset portion 7 such that two retaining wall elements A of the same embodiment are capable of being longitudinally stacked one upon the other without any appreciable gaps between the two retaining wall elements.
The front face 9 in the present embodiment includes a surface treatment that generally simulates the texture of wood grain 11. In yet another embodiment, the front face 9 has a color that generally simulates the color of a selected type of wood. This coloring of the front face 9 in one embodiment is accomplished by adding a coloring agent to the concrete mixture used to manufacture the retaining wall element A, while in other embodiments, the front surface 9 is treated with an application of a coloring agent that results in only the front surface 9 having the color of a selected type of wood. In that embodiment, the coloring agent can either be applied to the front surface 9 after the retaining wall has been assembled, or the front surface 9 can be pre-painted before the retaining wall is assembled.
It is also noted that when two or more retaining wall elements A are stacked, it is understood that the front surface 9 will be exposed and will face away from the material being retained by a retaining wall assembled from a plurality of retaining wall elements A. FIG. 2 shows one example of how a set of retaining wall elements A can be stacked for one embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the offset dimension “O1” is about 0.75 inches. This amount of offset results in an alignment of the stacked retaining wall elements A with the ground of about 7 degrees backward tilt. This backward tilt assists the retaining wall in resisting the back pressure against the back of the retaining wall that is the result of the held-back material pressing against the back of the assembled retaining wall.
In a preferred embodiment, the dimensions of the various surfaces of the retaining wall element A are a shown in FIG. 4. In that embodiment, the identified dimensions have values substantially the same as those in the following list:
|D1||between about 7.5 and about 8.5 inches|
|D2||between about 3.5 and about 4.5 inches|
|D3||between about 5.5 and about 6.5 inches|
|D4||between about 1.0 and about 2.0 inches|
|D5||between about 2.7 and about 3.5 inches|
|D6||between about 8.2 and about 9.2 inches|
|D7||between about 5.5 and about 6.5 inches|
|D8||between about 1.0 and about 2.0 inches|
The manufacture of the retaining wall element A includes the preparation of a concrete mold that meets the design requirements of the end user and substantially matches both the type of wood grain to be simulated and the geometry of the interlocking surfaces of the retaining wall element. The concrete mold can be made of any commonly acceptable material used within the concrete industry as long as the detail of the selected wood grain within the concrete mold is sufficient to meet the requirements of the particular application. Additionally, because some types of concrete molds lose resolution and detail the more the concrete mold is used, the type of concrete mold material should be selected so as to make the required number of retaining wall elements A without significant deterioration of the concrete mold.
The concrete mixture used to manufacture each of the individual retaining wall elements A can be of any type used within the concrete manufacturing industry as long as the mixture selected is robust enough to resist the environmental conditions into which the retaining wall will be placed. In one embodiment, a concrete mixture having following characteristics can be used:
|Portland concrete, Type I||564||3.150||2.87|
|Class C fly ash||47||2.670||0.28|
|Meramec torpedo gravel||1,546||2.510||9.87|
|Air entraining agent||1.5||1.000||0.00|
|Total air (%)||5.5 ± 1.5||1.50|
|Water/cement ration, lbs/lb||0.43|
|Concrete unit weight, pcf||139.14|
|Coarseness (0.0/0.0 (0.0 + 61.8)) * 100||0.0|
|W - Adjust||39.5|
|Total fineness modulus||4.62|
|Exposure condition: Severe exposure|
It will be appreciated that other concrete mixtures can be used and adjusted as needed to fit the particular application of the present invention.
In other embodiments of the present invention, the retaining wall elements A are structurally stiffened through the use of some type of reinforcement material that has been imbedded within the concrete as the concrete is poured into a form. Such acceptable types of structural reinforcement that can be used in the present invention include steel reinforcement bars, steel reinforcement mesh, or fiber reinforcement mesh. The type, style and quantity of structural reinforcement to be used will depend upon the length of the retaining wall element, the type of concrete mixture used, and the specific environment in which the retaining wall element A will be installed.
While the above description describes various embodiments of the present invention, it will be clear that the present invention may be otherwise easily adapted to fit any configuration where a retaining wall device is required. Additionally, as various changes could be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the invention, it is also intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. The scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.