Title:
Monument Assembly and Method of Installation
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A monument assembly (10) formed from: (i) a headstone component (12); (ii) a rail assembly (14) attached to the headstone component (12); and (iii) an inlay panel (16, 16A) supported by and surrounded by the rail assembly (14A) surrounds and open space.



Inventors:
Burman, Allan (Currumbin, AU)
Boer, Albert D. (Coogee, AU)
Application Number:
11/660027
Publication Date:
10/09/2008
Filing Date:
07/26/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H13/00
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Primary Examiner:
CANFIELD, ROBERT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOCKE LORD LLP (P.O. BOX 55874, BOSTON, MA, 02205, US)
Claims:
1. An inscription plate formed by a pair of end sheets having indicia formed thereon which are aligned with each other and thus are identical and a translucent, transparent or coloured intermediate sheet not incorporating indicia interposed between each end sheet wherein light from a rear of the inscription plate provides an aesthetic effect when viewed from a front of the inscription plate.

2. An inscription plate as claimed in claim 1 wherein the pair of end sheets are metal plates separated by a transparent intermediate sheet formed from glass or clear plastics material.

3. An inscription plate as claimed in claim 1 wherein the indicia formed in each end sheet are formed by openings in each end sheet.

4. An inscription plate as claimed in claim 3 wherein the openings are formed by laser cutting.

5. A monument assembly incorporating the inscription plate of claim 1.

6. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 5 having the inscription plate formed as a part of a headstone component.

7. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 5 having the inscription plate supported on a horizontally disposed rail assembly.

8. A monument assembly formed from: (i) a headstone component; (ii) a rail assembly attached to the headstone component; (iii) an inlay panel supported by and surrounded by the rail assembly or alternatively said rail assembly surrounds an empty space; and (iv) leveling means including a threaded upstanding bolt or stud located at least at a pair of corners of the rail assembly which is adjustably attachable to an adjacent part of the rail assembly and locable thereto when desired whereby the rail assembly may form a substantially horizontal support plane when required.

9. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 8 wherein the headstone component is a hollow casing having a front surface for displaying indicia.

10. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 8, wherein the rail assembly includes a pair of side rails and an end rail distal from the headstone component all attached to each other.

11. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 10 wherein the headstone component is attached to the headstone component.

12. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 10 wherein the headstone component is releasably attached to a head rail attached to each adjacent side rail.

13. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 10 wherein each side rail is attached to an adjacent support surface of the headstone component.

14. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 8 wherein said adjacent part is an adjoining end of each side rail.

15. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 8 wherein said adjacent part is a corner component or junction component interconnecting adjacent ends of the end rail and adjoining side rails.

16. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 10 wherein the headstone component engages with each side rail in a male/female interaction.

17. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 16 wherein each headstone end of each of the side rails engages with a socket of corresponding cross sectional shape in the headstone component.

18. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 8 wherein the inlay panel may comprise at least in part an inscription plate formed by a pair of end sheets having indicia formed thereon which is aligned with each other and a transparent intermediate sheet interposed between each end sheet.

19. A monument assembly as claimed in claim 8 wherein said threaded bolt or stud is located at each corner of the rail assembly remote from the headstone component.

20. A method of installation of a monument assembly to a grave site which includes the steps of: (i) placing a rail assembly in a predisposed grave site which includes a pair of side rails and at least one end rail; and (ii) adjusting the height of at least a pair of corners of the rail assembly to achieve a desired height so that the pair of side rails and said at least one end rail may form a level horizontal plane for supporting an inlay panel; and (iii) locking each corner of the rail assembly in place after said desired height has been achieved.

21. A method as claimed in claim 20 wherein there is also provided a headstone component which is mounted to the rail assembly at one end thereof distal to said at least one end rail.

22. A method as claimed in claim 20 wherein said at least a pair of corners are located at each end of the rail assembly remote from the headstone

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a monument assembly and in one form may include a headstone component or a rail assembly which may incorporate an inscription plate. The monument assembly may be a tombstone assembly for a grave or a memorial.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Headstones, tombstones, monuments and other types of memorials are used to mark the passing of a loved one. Such memorials are traditionally carved from stone most often granite. However, several limitations exist whereby such traditional memorials and headstones decay through time and weathering. To slow these effects, cleaning of the faces and lettering is required. If proper maintenance is not undertaken, or improper cleaning methods are used, damage and decay results. Further, not all headstones can be safely cleaned. Additionally, traditional stone memorials and headstones do not provide much resistance to activities by vandals, being easily broken or chipped when struck with hard objects. Further, they require chemical treatment to remove paints applied as unwanted vandal graffiti.

In addition to the decay problems, the transport and installation costs of the traditional stone headstones are high. This is due to the high weight of the headstones which requires specialist lifting machinery such as large cranes.

In an effort to address the decay problems related to displaying information, bronze or otherwise metal alloy inscription plates may be fixed to the front face of stone memorials. While such inscription plates ideally should withstand weathering, these inscription plates are still subject of the unwanted activities of vandals.

Typically a conventional tombstone comprises an upright headstone component attached to a concrete slab as a base. This is shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,304,076, 4,463,527 and US Patent Applications 2001/0036354 and 2003/0037492. An inscription plate is normally 10 attached to a front face of such headstones which may be hollow to contain illumination means and a suitable power source or display apparatus. However installation costs of such tombstones as set out above is usually excessive.

Reference may also be made to U.S. Pat. No. 4,550,537 which describes a monument for a grave having a head and base made from stainless steel with the head welded to the base and provided with a recess in its front face for an inscription plate to be attached thereto. The monument is connected to a concrete anchor by pipe members secured to the undersurface of the base. However, while such a monument is cheaper to install than the conventional monuments made from stone as described above, when the monument is used as a tombstone because there is often a requirement for use of a large horizontal concrete slab to cover a burial casket.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the invention to provide a monument assembly which overcomes or alleviates one or more of the problems of the prior art or provide a useful commercial alternative.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is a monument assembly including:

(i) a headstone component;

(ii) a rail assembly attached to the headstone component; and

(iii) an inlay panel supported by and surrounded by the rail assembly or alternatively said rail assembly surrounds an open space.

In one embodiment the inlay panel may be dispensed with and the rail assembly will surround an open space so that in use flowers or other forms of ornamentation may fill the space.

More preferably, the headstone component includes a hollow casing having a front surface in use for displaying indicia such as inscription data which may be formed on an inscription plate. Alternatively the inscription plate may be attached to the inlay panel or comprise the inlay panel.

The rail assembly may include at least one end rail and a pair of side rails, all attached to each other. Preferably the at least one end rail is distal from the headstone component.

There also may be provided leveling means associated with the rail assembly for leveling each side rail and end rail so that the inlay panel when supported by the rail assembly is in a substantially horizontal plane.

Preferably, each end corner of the monument assembly distal from the headstone component is subject to the leveling means which in one form may comprise a threaded bolt or stud for adjustably supporting an adjacent end of each side rail or a junction member interposed between adjoining ends of each side rail and adjacent end of the distal end rail. There also may be provided a locking nut also attached to the threaded bolt or stud.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of installing a tombstone to a grave site which includes the steps of:

(i) placing a rail assembly in a grave site which includes a pair of side rails and at least one end rail; and

(ii) adjusting the height of each corner of the rail assembly so that the pair of side rails and the at least one end rail may form a substantially level horizontal plane for supporting an inlay panel.

According to a third aspect of the invention there is provided a monument assembly formed by a rail assembly having a pair of side rails attached to or integral with a pair of end rails and also incorporating an inlay panel supported by and surrounded by the pair of end rails and pair of side rails.

In a fourth aspect of the invention there is provided an inscription plate for a monument assembly formed by a pair of end sheets having indicia formed thereon which is aligned with each other and a transparent intermediate sheet interposed between each end sheet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order that the present invention can be more readily understood and placed into practical effect, preferred embodiments of the invention will be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a headstone assembly in an assembled configuration.

FIG. 2 is a partially exploded view of a FIG. 1 showing two side rails connected to a headstone rail and the headstone component during assembly.

FIG. 3 is an alternative embodiment of FIG. 2 during assembly.

FIG. 4 is a fragmented view of a side rail engageable with an end rail by an aperture and pin arrangement.

FIG. 5 is a hold down bolt positioned into a preformed recess in the ground.

FIG. 6 shows the hold down bolt of FIG. 5 fixed into place by adding concrete over the recess containing the hold down bolt.

FIG. 7 shows the side rail having a hold down bolt and end rail engageable via an aperture and pin arrangement and engageable with a junction member.

FIG. 8 shows an alternative arrangement to FIG. 7 wherein a side rail and end rail engage a junction member having a hold down bolt.

FIG. 9 shows an alternative method of attachment to the side rails of the rail assembly to the headstone component which is different to that shown in FIGS. 2-3; and

FIG. 10 shows a rail assembly per se independent of the headstone component and an inscription plate attachable thereto also made in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a monument assembly 10 including a headstone component 12 and a rail assembly 14. The monument assembly 10 may also include an inlay panel or cover 16 which may function as an inscription plate if desired for containing identifying indicia relating to the deceased person. The rail assembly 14 includes a pair of side rails 18 and an end rail 22. The end rail 22 is releasably attached to each side rail 18 at 20.

FIG. 2 shows a partially exploded view of the monument assembly 10 showing the two side rails 18 connected to a headstone rail 24. The head stone 12 is attachable to the headstone rail 24 and each side rail 18 20 by a plurality of pins 28 from the bottom 12A of the headstone 12 engaging with corresponding apertures 28 in headstone rail 24 and each side rail 26. While a pin - aperture arrangement is shown, other releasable forms of attachment are contemplated, but not limited to, eg. screws, nuts, studs, and wedges.

It may be appreciated that the headstone component 12 may be either one integral component or may comprise one or more individual parts which may releasably engage with each other.

FIG. 3 shows a fragmented view of an alternate embodiment of the headstone assembly 10 wherein the headstone 12 may be attached to side rails 18 by means of pins 28A engaging in corresponding apertures 26A.

In FIG. 3, both apertures 26A and pins 28A are shown on the surfaces 12B of headstone 12 which engages mating end plates 18B of side rails 18. Further, the alternating pin and aperture arrangement may be of any configuration as may be appropriate. However, it will be appreciated that other means of releasably connecting headstone 12 and each side rail 18 are contemplated.

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of a side rail 18 engageable with an end rail 22 using pins 28B engaging in corresponding apertures 26B in a similar arrangement as shown in FIGS. 2-3. Apertures 26B are included in bracket 30 which is welded to end rail 22.

To assist in achieving the desired level, the height of the headstone assembly 10 may be readily adjusted by using one or more leveling means, eg. foundation bolt or hold down bolt 32 in each corner of the headstone assembly 10. FIG. 4 shows a hold down bolt 32 threaded through flange 27 of side rail 18. The height may be adjusted by movement of side rail 18 relative to hold down bolt 32. When a desired height is achieved, nut 33A is tightened against flange 27 by movement along threaded shank 33B. Hold down bolt 32 is also supported by base plate 21.

In use, as shown in FIG. 5, the monument assembly 10 is installed over excavated recesses or holes 34, usually formed by spade 35. Alternatively, a post hole digger or other appropriate digging device may be used.

Prior to the installation of the monument assembly 10, a shallow trench, eg. 50 mm, is dug outlining the headstone assembly 10 perimeter (not shown). Typical perimeter dimensions are 1.2×2.4 metres and include holes 34 at each internal corner of the headstone assembly 10 site. However, it will be appreciated that the headstone assembly 10 may be installed on smaller, larger and multi-width grave sites. In use, the monument assembly 10 is installed by placing it approximately level over a prepared site. However, while this type of installation is preferred, the monument assembly may also be installed at any angle to the horizontal consistent with the overall design of the memorial.

Once the desired level is achieved, earth 36 is placed into each recess or hole 34 as shown in FIG. 5. As shown in FIG. 6, the monument assembly 10 may be fixed into place using a settable material 38, e.g. concrete over the recess 34. The settable material may optionally be reinforced using steel or like reinforcing rods. The installation may also include fitting and fixing an inlay panel or cover 16 after the site is filled. Significantly, this method of leveling the whole of the headstone assembly 10 is easy to carry out and negates the need for redistributing soil from under the headstone assembly 10 as is required for installation of the conventional cumbersome and heavy masonry memorials.

If desired, the rail assembly 14 may be pre-assembled prior to or during the installation of the headstone component 12 into the ground. The headstone component 12 may alternatively be pre-assembled and permanently fixed into position prior to installation of the rail assembly 14.

If further desired, the monument assembly 10 can be permanently fixed into position after installation using concrete rendering or other means. By permanently fixing the monument assembly 10, unwanted disassembly, eg. as caused by theft and vandalism of the various components of the headstone assembly 10 would be unlikely.

It will be appreciated by the skilled person that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described in detail herein, and that a variety of other embodiments can be contemplated which are nevertheless consistent with the broad spirit and scope of the invention.

For example, FIG. 7 shows another embodiment wherein there is provided a junction member 40 which has pins 28B which engage in corresponding apertures 26B of adjacent side rail 18 and end rail 22 as shown. There is also provided an ornamental knob 37 mounted on platform 42.

FIG. 8 shows an alternative embodiment wherein junction members 44 are supported by hold down bolts 32. Platform 42 and knob 37 are releasably attachable to each junction member 44 by engaging with uprights 48 within the junction members 44. Alternatively, platform 42 and junction member 44 are engaged by an interference fit or other means.

In FIG. 9 there is shown a modified rail assembly 14A having a pair of side rails 18A of substantially C-shaped cross section having flange 36. Each side rail assembly 18A is also provided with attachment plate 37 having fixture rods 38. Each side rail 18A has a male section or end 39 engageable in a corresponding female section or socket 40 of complementary cross section in headstone component 12 shown in phantom. Each male section 39 may be inserted into female section or socket 40 through slots 41 of similar cross section in headstone plate 42. Each fixture rod 38 may engage a corresponding aperture 43 in headstone plate 42 and be attached thereto by suitable fasteners (not shown).

In FIG. 10 there is shown rail assembly 14A with the headstone component 12 omitted showing that the invention also includes within its scope a monument assembly incorporating the rail assembly 14A per se. Each side rail 18A may be attached to a top or head end rail 22A by any suitable means such as that shown in FIG. 3 for example. Alternatively end rail 22A may be welded to an adjacent side rail 14A at 44. There also may be incorporated support plate 45 welded to each side rail 18A at 25. FIG. 10 corresponds to rail assembly 14 shown in FIG. 2 with apertures 26 omitted.

Also in FIG. 10 there is shown an inscription plate 16A having a pair of metal plates 46 and 47 separated by a plate 48 made of transparent material such as glass but more preferably plastics material. Each of metal plates 46 and 47 has writing or other suitable indicia 49 which is aligned with each other and viewable through transparent plate 48. Indicia 49 may be formed by laser cutting of metal plates 46 and 47 or other suitable means. Inscription plate 16A may be attached to top surface 50 of rail assembly 14A.

The monument assembly 10 may be manufactured by folding the required length of material, eg. stainless steel sheeting to the desired shape. Stiffening gussets (not shown) may be fastened by welding, or by other fastening means, eg. nails, screws or bolts in at appropriate locations.

The headstone component 12 and side rails 18 are easily and accurately aligned prior to assembly by presetting the apertures 26 and pins 28.

Unlike the conventional stone memorials which require the various stone modules or components to be individually placed, aligned along the perimeter and then set in concrete, the monument assembly 10 does not require concreting formwork around the perimeter to hold the various headstone assembly components in place. Significantly, the consumer is provided with a new found ease of installation. Advantageously, side rails 18 may be formed from any number of modular portions or components if required.

While FIG. 1 shows a full size memorial, it will be appreciated that the shape and size may be altered to suit various needs. For example, it is anticipated that smaller stand-alone memorials, eg. headstone component 12 (alone) are suitable for use at lawn cemeteries and pet cemeteries. The headstone component 12 may be in the form of one or more individual parts. These smaller memorials may be assembled and installed manually, while larger memorials may be assembled and installed by cemetery staff or other qualified personnel using lifting devices such as vehicle-mounted cranes.

The design of the monument assembly 10 is such that it could be installed prior to or shortly after the grave has been dug, provided base plate 21 is supported by stable soil. Support of the monument assembly 10 is not dependant upon the stabilization of disturbed soil within the earth burial shaft as is the case with conventional memorials.

It is anticipated that a typical weight of a full sized monument assembly 10 will be about 250 kgs. Advantageously, the monument assembly 10 is relatively light weight and does not require large traditional cranes used for stone memorials to carry out installation, thereby removing or substantially reducing the costs associated with such heavy machinery presently required for transporting and installing traditional stone and otherwise solid alloy memorials.

While the preferred embodiment describes the monument assembly 10 manufactured in stainless steel, it will be appreciated that other non-ferrous or ferrous materials which are far less susceptible to weathering deterioration, eg. bronze while still providing higher structural integrity than stone over time may also be used. Advantageously, stainless steel, when chosen at a suitable quality, eg. 18/8 to 18/10 chromium/nickel in the stainless steel alloy at a suitable thickness, provides improved anti-vandalism properties over stone.

The headstone component 12 per se of the headstone assembly 10 may be separately manufactured (and used) to suit customer requirements to incorporate various designs which may be simple or intricate and vary in shape, configuration, pattern and/or ornamentation.

Advantageously, if used, the cover or inlay panel 16 may be reversibly removed to bury subsequent individuals. Suitable inlay panel 16 materials may include, but are not limited to, granite, marble, stainless steel, concrete, moulded glass, fibreglass and plastics. Preferably, the materials used for the inlay panel 16 are stainless steel, moulded glass and granite. The inlay panel 16 may be made of one or more pieces which may be fixed together or installed independently of each other. The contact surface between the inlay panel 16 and the headstone assembly 10 may be planar or irregular, depending on the requirements of the design. The inlay panel 16 may be supported on top of the side and end rails 18 and 22 and held in place with suitable fixing and sealing means. Further, all or part of the inlay panel 16 may be hinged from the side or 20 end of the headstone assembly and held in place with a suitable locking device. One or more lockable doors may also be fitted into the inlay panel 16.

The inlay panel 16 may be flat, curved or formed to any suitable shape with any various finishes being applied to it. The inlay panel 16 may alternatively be supported by a headstone component 12 ledge (not shown).

It will be appreciated that various adaptations may be made, including the partial or complete refurbishment of existing memorials; the provision of a suitable casket or coffin lowering device on or within the headstone assembly; and the complete lining of the burial excavation shaft with stainless steel or other enduring material within which multiple caskets or coffins could be laid to rest.

Unlike traditional memorials, various adaptations may be made within the headstone component 12 which may have a hollow interior. For example, the headstone component 12 may include a button-activated recorded message and speaker system which provides a life account and achievements of the deceased. The recording system may be powered by a solar panel adjacent, eg. on the top of the headstone component 12 or other appropriate location.

If desired, a button-activated video system may be installed to provide a visual and audio account of the deceased person's life, achievements, heritage, medical history, bequeathments and any other noteworthy information as appropriate. The account may be pre-recorded by the deceased who could leave messages for their loved ones, associates and/or present and future descendants. An additional adaptation could include reference to a web site whereby interested parties can view the above information.

Another adaptation to the monument assembly 10 includes the installation of a “book” where the “pages” are made of stainless steel or other highly durable material. Life accounts, heritage and achievements of the deceased may be inscribed into the “pages” and thus be available for visitors to read.

Further adaptations may include a solar powered water storage and distribution system within the headstone component 12. The water may be used for watering vases, flower pots or plants within the headstone assembly site.

Another adaptation to the monument assembly 10 includes a lockable, sealed compartment (not shown) within or on the monument assembly 10 which may serve as a time capsule for the storage of memorabilia. The compartment may contain various accessories required for the operation of various features as described herein, cremated ashes of family members or pets and the storage of accessories that could be used for graveside maintenance or worship.

A further contemplated adaptation to the monument assembly 10 is the installation of a security system of various types or designs.

The inscription on the headstone component 12 or inlay panel 16 may be formed in various ways, including lettering of suitable materials being attached by screws, adhesives, welding or the like. Lettering etched into the face of the headstone component 12 or inlay panel 16 may be gilded or painted on the face of the headstone component 12 or inlay panel 16.

This method of inscription using inlay panel 16A advantageously provides means by which the inscription may be illuminated. Solar powered illumination may be provided using LED or similar lighting and may be installed behind the laser cut inscription.

Also advantageously, the method of manufacture as herein described and the improved structural properties of the stainless steel or various alloy materials that may be used will provide for higher intricate designs and far greater flexibility of design to suit consumer requirements as well as allow the inclusion in the hollow cavity of the headstone 12 of many innovations not currently available with masonry memorials.

It will be appreciated that the monument assembly 10 of the present invention may be assembled on site prior to the installation of the memorial. Further, the monument assembly 10 may be installed prior to the burial thereby enhancing the presentation of the burial experience to the mourners present on the day of the burial. This provides a distinct commercial advantage over the traditional heavy stone and otherwise solid alloy memorials which require specialist lifting equipment to transport and install. Further, the monument assembly 10 is comparatively lightweight and thus provides a commercial advantage due to the relative ease and economical transport to and at the site.





 
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