Title:
ROTATING ADAPTER FOR PLAYGROUND SWING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adapter includes a first support member and a second support member. The first support member is configured to connect to an associated swing support, e.g. a horizontal support beam of a playground set, for swinging about a horizontal axis. The second support member connects to the first support member and rotates about a second axis with respect to the first support member. The second support member includes spaced mounting elements each configured for attachment to a flexible support, e.g. ropes, cables, chains, etc., of an associated swing.



Inventors:
Kahn, Russell (Madison, WI, US)
Tapper, Jay (Palm Beach Gardens, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/038575
Publication Date:
04/23/2009
Filing Date:
02/27/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63G9/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAY SHARPE LLP (1228 Euclid Avenue, 5th Floor The Halle Building, Cleveland, OH, 44115, US)
Claims:
1. An adapter for a swing comprising: a first support member configured to connect to an associated swing support for swinging about a horizontal axis; and a second support member connected to the first support member and rotatable about a second axis with respect to the first support member, the second support member including spaced mounting elements each configured for attachment to a flexible support of an associated swing.

2. The adapter of claim 1, further comprising a bearing contacting the first support member and the second support member.

3. The adapter of claim 2, wherein the bearing is a thrust bearing that supports the second support member.

4. The adapter of claim 1, wherein the mounting elements are configured to attach to each flexible support to allow the associated swing to pivot with respect to a location on the second support member.

5. The adapter of claim 1, further comprising a lock that cooperates with the first support member and the second support member to inhibit rotation of the second support member in the second axis.

6. The adapter of claim 5, wherein the lock includes a lock bracket that is slidable with respect to the second support member, the lock bracket includes a notch that receives a nut fastened to the first support member when in a locked condition.

7. The adapter of claim 5, wherein the lock is configured to cooperate with the second support member to lock the second support member in a first orientation with respect to the first support member and in a second orientation with respect to the first support member, wherein the first orientation is angularly offset 90 degrees from the second orientation.

8. The adapter of claim 1, further comprising a governor that cooperates with the second support member.

9. The adapter of claim 1, wherein the first support member includes a head and a shank extending from the head, the head having a horizontal through bore.

10. The adapter of claim 9, wherein the head has a horizontal dimension that is less that the horizontal space between flanges of a conventional swing hanger.

11. A swing set comprising: a horizontal support beam; and the adapter of claim 1 connected to the horizontal support beam.

12. A swing suspension mount comprising: an assembly for attaching a swing to a swing support frame, the assembly configured so that a person swinging on the swing can swing back and forth in an arc while lateral sway outside of the arc is limited and the person swinging in the arc can also spin without flexible supports of the swing becoming twisted.

13. An adapter for an associated swing having flexible supports, the adapter configured to swing about a horizontal axis and to rotate about a second axis that is transverse to the horizontal axis.

14. The adapter of claim 13, wherein connection between the adapter and an associated support provides only one degree of freedom.

15. The adapter of claim 13, wherein the adapter includes spaced mounting elements that each engage a respective flexible support.

16. The adapter of claim 15, wherein the mounting elements include hooks.

17. The adapter of claim 15, wherein the mounting elements include a first pair of mounting elements spaced a first distance from one another and a second pair of mounting elements spaced a second distance from one another.

18. The adapter of claim 13, further comprising a lock that when in a locked condition precludes rotation of the adapter in the second axis.

19. The adapter of claim 13, further comprising a rotation control device that limits the velocity at which the adapter rotates.

20. A swing set including the adapter of claim 13.

21. In combination: a swing having spaced flexible supports for suspending the swing from above; and an adapter connected to the flexible supports and configured to connect to an associated swing mount so that the swing can swing back and forth in an arc, the adapter comprising a rotating component connected to the spaced flexible supports and the associated swing mount so that the swing can rotate in an axis generally aligned along a radius of the arc as the swing is swinging.

22. The combination of claim 21, wherein the spaced flexible supports connect to the rotating component so that the flexible supports can pivot about a horizontal axis with respect to the rotating component.

23. The combination of claim 21, wherein the adapter includes a swinging component that is configured to connect to the associated swing beam hanger, the rotating component connects to the swinging component for rotational movement with respect to the swinging component.

24. The combination of claim 21, further comprising a lock cooperating with the rotating component for limiting rotational movement of the rotating component.

25. The combination of claim 24, wherein the lock is spaced from a seat of the swing a distance where a child sitting on the seat is unable to reach the lock.

26. The combination of claim 21, wherein the swing is capable of swinging in a first arc about a first horizontal axis and in a second arc about a second horizontal axis that is spaced from the first horizontal axis.

27. The combination of claim 26, wherein the first horizontal axis intersects the associated swing hanger and the second horizontal axis intersects a location where the spaced flexible supports connect to the adapter.

28. The combination of claim 27, wherein the swing is capable of rotating about a radius of the first arc.

29. The combination of claim 21, further comprising a swing set including a horizontal support supported above the ground, the adapter being connected to the horizontal support.

30. The combination of claim 21, further comprising a brake and a brake handle for operating the brake, the brake being movable between at least two operating positions, when in an engaged position the brake limits rotational movement of the rotating component, and the brake handle being connected to at least one of the flexible supports and being operatively connected to the brake such that movement of the brake handle results in the brake moving from one operating position towards another operating position.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of Application Ser. No. 60/980,519 filed Oct. 17, 2007, the entirety of which is incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND

For conventional playground swings, the swing and swing hanger are designed primarily for oscillation throughout an angle in one plane. In another type of conventional swing, commonly known as a tire swing, oscillatory motion in any direction throughout a solid angle is capable.

Swings that overcome the shortcomings of the conventional playground swing that is designed primarily for oscillation throughout an angle in one plane include a multi-axis swing in which a person is strapped into a seat and he performs backward and forward summersault rolls by operating a gear shift lever and a joystick control on the seat. This multi-axis swing also allows the person strapped into the seat to perform left and right barrel rolls by turning a steering wheel on the joystick control. This multi-axis swing looks to be difficult to operate by a young child and also does not utilize many of the components found in the conventional playground swings.

A tire swing that is capable of rotating as well as swinging through a limited angle in any direction without winding up the chains or cables that support the tire is also known. This tire swing includes a ball and socket mount where the ball is capable of rotating in the socket as well as swinging through a limited angle in any direction. The ball and socket mount is appropriate for a tire swing, since the chains that support the tire swing converge toward the same location, i.e. point, when attaching the tire swing to the horizontal support beam that supports the tire swing. Conventional playground swings, on the other hand, include spaced flexible supports that do not converge towards the same location when the flexible supports are attached to the horizontal support beam that supports the conventional playground swing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is desirable to provide an adapter for a swing (e.g. a conventional playground swing designed for oscillation throughout an angle in one plane) where the adapter is configured so that a person swinging on the swing can swing back and forth in an arc while lateral sway outside of a plane of the arc is limited and the person swinging in the arc can also spin without the flexible supports of the swing winding up or becoming twisted. An example of such an adapter includes a first support member and a second support member. The first support member is configured to connect to an associated swing support, e.g. a horizontal support beam of a playground set, for swinging about a horizontal axis. The second support member connects to the first support member and rotates about a second axis with respect to the first support member. The second support member includes spaced mounting elements each configured for attachment to a flexible support, e.g. ropes, cables, chains, etc., of an associated swing.

Also disclosed is a combination of a swing and an adapter. The swing includes spaced flexible supports for suspending the swing from above. The adapter connects to the flexible supports and is configured to connect to an associated swing mount so that the swing can swing back and forth in an arc. The adapter includes a rotating component connected to the spaced flexible supports and the associated swing mount so that the swing can rotate in an axis generally along a radius of the arc as the swing is swinging.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an upper perspective view of a swing adapter connected to a support.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the swing adapter shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a lower perspective view of the swing adapter shown in FIG. 1 connected to the support.

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of the swing adapter connected to the support.

FIG. 5 is a close-up upper perspective view of a rotation control device for the swing adapter shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a close-up lower perspective view of a lock for the swing adapter shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a front elevation view of an alternative embodiment of a swing adapter connected to the support.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An adapter 10 for a swing, such as a conventional playground swing designed primarily for oscillation throughout an angle in one plane, is shown connected to a support, which can include a horizontal beam B, of a conventional playground swing set. The horizontal beam B connects to vertical supports that support the horizontal beam above the ground. The support depicted in FIG. 1 is a typical horizontal beam made of wood. The adapter 10 is also amenable to connect to other types of supports. For example, the adapter 10 can also easily attach to metal playground play sets and other supports that can support a conventional playground swing. The adapter 10 can be used in combination with a number of different playthings that are designed to swing back and forth, e.g. 4-chain tire swings, trapeze rings, trapeze bars, which will all be referred to generically as swings.

The adapter 10 includes a first support member 12 and a second support member 14. The second support member 14 is typically horizontally oriented and will also be referred to as a horizontal support member. The first support member 12, which can also be referred to as a swinging component, is configured to connect to a swing hanger 16 for swinging about a horizontal axis 18 (see FIG. 4). The horizontal support member 14, which can also be referred to as a rotatable component, connects to the first support member 12 and is rotatable about an axis 22 (see also FIG. 4) with respect to the first support member 12. The first support member 12 will also be referred to as an axle. Accordingly, the adapter 10 allows a swing 24 (depicted schematically in FIG. 4) to swing back and forth in an arc about the horizontal axis 18 while allowing a swing seat 26 of the swing 24 to rotate about the rotational axis 22 without twisting or tangling flexible supports 28 (depicted schematically in FIG. 4) from which the swing seat 26 is suspended.

In the depicted embodiment, the first support member 12 and the second support member 14 are metal bars. Alternatively, the support members 12 and 14 can be made from plastic or another durable material. Additionally, the support members can take alternative configurations. For example, the second support member 14 can be a disk-shaped (circular) member that connects to and rotates with respect to the first support member. The disk can be made from metal, plastic or another durable and strong material capable of supporting the swing.

With reference to FIG. 2, the swing adapter 10 attaches to a conventional swing hanger 16. The swing hanger 16 includes a bracket 32 that includes a substantially planar base 34 and two spaced normally and downwardly protruding flanges 36. Fastener openings 38 are formed through the planar base 34. The fastener openings 38 receive fasteners 42, which can be conventional bolts, which are also received through fastener openings 44 formed in the support beam B. Nuts 46 and washers 48 are received on and thread onto the threaded fasteners 42 to attach the bracket 32 of the swing hanger 16 to the horizontal support beam B.

The flanges 36 are typically spaced about one inch from one another in the horizontal direction. The flanges 36 each include a respective opening 52 that are aligned with one another to receive a pin 54. A pin retainer 56, e.g. a snap ring, retains the pin within the aligned openings 52. Alternatively, the pin and pin retainer can be replaced by a bolt, which acts similar to the pin, and a lock nut, both of which are used in current bushing swing hangers. The swing hanger 16 depicted in the drawing is an example of a conventional type of swing hanger that is used with horizontal support beams that are generally square or rectangular in a cross section taken normal to a horizontal axis of the beam. Metal playground swing sets typically include tube-shaped support members. The swing hanger used with the metal playground swing set does not include the bracket having a planar base; however, they typically do employ a pin similar to the pin 54 shown in the figures. The adapter 10, which will be described in more detail below, can easily attach to either type of swing hanger as well as other swing hangers that include a pin or similar axle-type member.

The first support member 12 is configured to connect to a swing support, which can include the horizontal beam and the swing hanger 16, for swinging about the horizontal axis 18 (FIG. 4). As more clearly seen in FIG. 2, the axle 12 includes a generally cylindrical head 60 having a shank 62 extending from the head. The shank 60 is cylindrical and the rotational axis 22 of the horizontal support member 14 is centered with respect to the shank. The shank 62 includes a threaded distal end 64 with respect to the head 60. The cylindrical head 60 has an axial (horizontal) dimension that is smaller than the horizontal space between the flanges 36 so that the head 60 fits between the flanges 36 of the bracket 32 of the swing hanger 16. The cylindrical head 60 includes an axial throughbore 66 that aligns with the openings 52 in the flanges 36 for receiving the pin 54. This connection allows the first support member 12 to rotate about the horizontal axis 18.

The horizontal support member 14 connects to the vertical support member 12 and is rotatable about the rotational axis 22. In the depicted embodiment, the horizontal support member 14 receives the axle 12 so that the horizontal support member rotates about the axle. The horizontal support member includes a central cylindrical portion 70 that is circular in cross section with regard to a horizontal axis. The central portion 70, as well as the remaining portions of the horizontal support member can take other configurations. A central vertical bore 72 is formed through the central portion 70 of the horizontal support member 14. The central bore 72 receives the shank 62 of the vertical support member 12.

A bearing assembly 74 also receives the shank 62. In the depicted embodiment, the bearing assembly 74 can be positioned above the uppermost end of the threaded distal end 64 so that the horizontal support member 14 rotates about the shank 62 of the first support member 12 during operation of the adapter 10. The bearing assembly 74 includes bearing housing 76 having a saddle 78 that receives the cylindrical central portion 70 of the horizontal support member 14. The saddle 78 would take an alternative configuration should the horizontal support member 14 take an alternative configuration. The saddle 78 would complement the shape of the horizontal support member 14 so that rotation of the horizontal support member would result in rotation of the bearing housing 76. The bearing housing 76 also includes a vertical throughbore 80 that receives the shank 62 of the vertical support member 12. The throughbore 80 surrounds the shank 62 when the horizontal support member 14 rotates about the vertical support member 12.

The bearing assembly 74 can include a thrust bearing that accommodates the downward vertical force of the horizontal support member 14 when a person is seated on the swing. The bearing assembly 74 also reduces friction in a rotational direction when the person on the swing attempts to rotate the horizontal support member 14 with respect to the vertical support member 12. Hex nuts 82 and 84 thread onto the threaded end 64 of the axle 12 to retain the bearings in the bearing housing 76. The bearing assembly 74 can also be retained by a retainer that is welded or fastened in another manner to the shank 62.

In the depicted embodiment, the horizontal support member 14 also includes pinched ends 90 at opposite ends of the central portion 70. The pinched ends 90 include mounting elements configured to attach to each flexible support 28 (FIG. 4), e.g. ropes, chains, cables, and the like, to allow the swing seat 26 to pivot in a horizontal axis 92 (FIG. 4). In the depicted embodiment, the mounting elements include openings 94 and 96 formed through the pinched ends 90 and hooks 98 that are received in these openings to facilitate attaching chains or other flexible supports to the horizontal support. In the depicted embodiment, a first pair of openings 96 (the outermost openings) are spaced 17 inches from one another. Also in the depicted embodiment, a second pair of openings 94 (the inner openings) are spaced 15 inches from one another. This allows the adapter 10 to be used with different conventional playground swings seats and to accommodate the swing beam height according to current use and ASTM guidelines. The spacing between the openings can change based on where the adapter will be used, e.g. for a commercial grade swing set used at a municipal playground the spacing between the openings may be larger than what has been described above.

With reference to FIG. 2, the horizontal support member 14 also includes upper openings 100 to facilitate attachment of a rotation control device, which can also be referred to as a governor 102, and lower openings (not visible) to facilitate attachment of a lock 104, each of which will be described in more detail below. Both the lock 104 and the governor 102, which can also act as a lock, are spaced from the seat 26 (FIG. 4) of the swing 24 a distance where a child sitting on the seat is unable to reach the lock or the governor.

With reference to FIG. 5, the governor 102 includes a bracket 110 that attaches to the horizontal support member 14. With reference back to FIG. 2, the bracket 110 includes openings 112 configured to receive fasteners 114 that are also received in the openings 100 formed in the central portion 70 of the horizontal support member 14 to attach the bracket to the horizontal support member. The bracket includes an upwardly extending flange 116 that is formed integrally with the remainder of the bracket. With reference back to FIG. 2, the flange 116 includes an opening 118 that is threaded. The threaded opening 118 receives a threaded fastener 122 including a flat head 124 that is hand tightenable and a nylon tip 126 at a distal end thereof. The nylon tip 126 rubs against the axle 12 (shank 62) when the horizontal support member 14 is rotated about the axle 12 and the nylon tip 126 is contacting the axle 12. Tightening the fastener 122 in the threaded opening 118 of the flange 116 results in increased pressure at the nylon tip 126, which can also be made from an alternative material. This can slow the rotational velocity of the horizontal support member 14 with respect to the axle 12. Tightening the fastener 122 enough can result in the horizontal support member 14 being unable to rotate about the axle 12. Accordingly, the governor 102 can also be referred to as a lock, which in a locked position can preclude rotation of the horizontal support member 14 with respect to the vertical support member 12.

In addition to the governor 102, or in lieu thereof, the adapter 10 can also include the lock 104, which is shown best in FIG. 6. Fasteners 130 connect a lock bracket 132 to the horizontal support member 14. The fastener 130 is received in a horizontally extending elongated slot 134 formed in the bracket 132. The bracket also includes a flange 136 and a generally U-shaped notch 138 opposite the flange.

The U-shaped notch 138 is configured to work with the flats of the uppermost hex nut 82, which is connected to the axle 12. Alternatively, the U-shaped notch could cooperate with the lowermost hex nut 84. With the flats of the hex nut 82 received in the U-shaped notch 138 of the bracket 132 of the lock 104, the bracket 132 is precluded from rotating with respect to the hex nut 82. Since the bracket 132 rotates along with the horizontal support member 14 about the rotational axis 22, when the hex nut 82 is received in the U-shaped notch 138 formed in the bracket 132, rotation of the horizontal support member 14 is precluded. The lock 104 is shown in a locked condition in FIG. 6. To unlock the lock, thus placing it in an unlocked condition where the horizontal support member 14 rotates about the axle 12, the flange 136 is pushed to the right (per the orientation shown in FIG. 6) so that the bracket 132 moves to the right because of the elongated slot 134 in the bracket. In use, were the horizontal support member 14 rotated 180 degrees, then the flange 136 would be pushed to the left to unlock the adapter 10.

A square, or four-sided nut, can be used with the lock 104 instead of the hex nut 82 that has been described above. Using a square nut with the lock 104 would provide the user of the adapter 10 an easier mechanism to lock the horizontal support member 14 in an orientation where the horizontal support member is disposed perpendicular to the support beam B. This is desirable where the adapter is, for example, disposed in the center of a two bay swing set, e.g. between the central two swing hangers of the four swing hangers that are used to mount the two swings in the two bay swing set. With the horizontal support 14 of the adapter 10 locked perpendicular to the beam B in a two bay swing set, two conventional swings can be used in the bay without having to remove the adapter 10 (or a swing attached to the adapter). To use the adapter 10 in the two bay swing set, the two conventional swings can be removed from their respective swing hangers and the adapter can be unlocked and rotated so that it is parallel with the beam B. The square nut provides only two orientations with respect to the beam, i.e. perpendicular and parallel, when the nut is properly installed on the threaded end 64 of the shank 62. The lock 104 can also be placed into the locked condition so that the swing attached to the adapter 10 can be used as a traditional swing, i.e. only allow for to and fro swinging in an arc without any rotation of the swing about the arc.

In addition to the governor 102 and the lock 104 described above, other alternative mechanisms could be used. For example, the governor 102 and/or the lock can be replaced with a clamping mechanism that is fixed fast to the second support member 14 and includes a clamp (similar to a bike brake) that clamps around the first support member 12 when in an engaged position. If desired, the clamping mechanism can be operatively connected to a handle, for example via a cable, whereby movement of the handle, e.g. squeezing the handle, results in the clamp engaging the first support member 12 to stop the second support member from rotating with respect to the first support member. The brake handle can be connected to one of the flexible supports 28 (FIG. 4) of the swing near where one typically grips the flexible support so that the person swinging on the swing can operate the brake.

Other alternative designs for the lock 104 include providing a hole in one of the support members 12 or 14 and a movable pin connected fast to the other support member. The pin can be inserted into the hole to preclude rotation of the second support member 14 with respect to the first support member 12.

FIGS. 1-6 disclose only one embodiment of an adapter configured to swing about a horizontal axis and to rotate about a second axis that is transverse to the horizontal axis. The connection between the adapter 10 and the support beam B via the swing hanger 16 provides only one degree of freedom, i.e. rotation about the horizontal axis 18. This is similar to a conventional swing that swings to and fro. The adapter 10, however, provides additional degrees of freedom for a swing or other play thing that attaches to it. The spaced flexible supports 28 connect to the horizontal support member 14, which rotates in a longitudinal axis 22 of the first support member 12. The swing seat 26 is capable of swinging in a first arc, which has a center about the horizontal axis 18, and in a second arc, which has a center about the lower horizontal axis 92 where the flexible supports 28 connect to the horizontal support member 14. The swing seat 26 can also rotate in a radius of the first arc, which is centered about the upper horizontal axis 18. The radius of the first arc aligns with the longitudinal axis 22 of the vertical support member 12 as the swing is swinging.

An example of an alternative embodiment of an adapter 210 for a swing is shown in FIG. 7. In this alternative embodiment, the swing adapter 210 includes a lower horizontal support member 214 and an axle 212, as well as an upper horizontal support member 220. The lower horizontal support member 214 is the same in configuration as the horizontal support member 14 described with reference to FIGS. 1-5. The lower horizontal support member 214 connects to the axle 212 in the same manner as the horizontal support member 14 attaches to the first support member (axle) 12 described above. For the sake of brevity, further description of the attachment between the two is not provided.

The upper horizontal support member 220 includes a bar 224 that is similar in configuration to the lower horizontal support member 214. The bar 224 includes pinched ends 226. The pinched ends 226 include openings 228 that receive hooks 232. These hooks 232 attach to hooks H that suspend from a horizontal support beam B thus attaching the adapter to the horizontal support beam. This adapter 210 operates in much the same manner as the adapter 10 described above. The swing (not shown in FIG. 7) that connects to the adapter can swing to and fro in an arc due to the connection between the upper horizontal support member 220 and the beam B. The lower horizontal support 214 can also rotate about the axle 212.

Adapters for a swing have been described with particularity. A few alternative embodiments of the adapter have also been described. The adapter has been described for use with a conventional playground swing. The adapter is amenable to being used with other types of playground equipment such as a toddler swing, a trapeze bar, rings that are typically gripped by a children's hand as well as other equipment that typically has a pendulum-type motion. The adapter can also include additional components that have not been described with particularity, such as a shroud that covers some of the components of the adapter, lights that illuminate and a music player or other sound emitting device. The invention is not to be limited to only the embodiments described and disclosed above. Instead, the invention is broadly defined by the appended claims and the equivalents thereof.