Title:
SCREED SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A screed rail system for placing uncured concrete includes a pair of rails positioned to lie spaced-apart and parallel to one another and a screed plate supported between the rails to move along the rails to form a final grade level of uncured concrete in a work area.



Inventors:
Lindley, Joseph W. (Paducah, KY, US)
Application Number:
12/400585
Publication Date:
09/10/2009
Filing Date:
03/09/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
404/118
International Classes:
E01C19/22
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
RISIC, ABIGAIL ANNE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Barnes & Thornburg LLP (IN) (11 S. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN, 46204, US)
Claims:
1. A screed system comprising a screed-rail system including a plurality of rails, the screed-rail system adapted to support a screed assembly, a screed assembly supported on the screed-rail system, the screed assembly including a screed plate for working uncured concrete, and adjustment means for adjusting a vertical position of the screed plate to cause the screed plate to be positioned in a final-grade producing position so that a final grade level of uncured concrete is formed as the screed assembly is moved along a rail.

2. The screed system of claim 1, wherein the adjustment means comprises a base and an adjustment mechanism, a first end of the rail is coupled to the adjustment mechanism to move therewith, and the adjustment mechanism is arranged to extend downwardly to mount on the base to move vertically relative to the base below.

3. The screed system of claim 2, wherein the adjustment mechanism includes a crank handle configured to rotate about a crank axis, a threaded rod coupled to the crank handle and arranged to rotate about the crank axis defined by the threaded rod, and a threaded receiver coupled to the first end of the rail and configured to receive the threaded rod and convert rotational movement of the threaded rod into vertical movement of the first end of the rail.

4. The screed system of claim 2, wherein the adjustment means includes a frame arranged to pivot about a pivot axis to cause the first end of the rail to be freed so that the screed-rail system can be repositioned from a first working area to a second working area to work uncured concrete at the second working area at a final grade level without disrupting the uncured concrete at the first working area.

5. The screed system of claim 4, wherein the frame includes a handle coupled to an opposite second end of the rail, a support base, and a rail pivot interconnecting the support base to the handle, the support base is arranged to support the handle and the rail during movement of the screed assembly along the rail, and the rail pivot is configured to support the handle and the rail during movement of the screed-rail system from the first working area toward the second working area.

6. The screed system of claim 4, wherein the screed-rail system includes a float plate coupled to the rail and positioned to lie on the uncured concrete at the final grade level and be supported by the uncured concrete, a float coupler coupled to an opposite second end of the rail, and a pivot bracket arranged to interconnect the float plate and the float coupler to cause the float coupler and the rail to rotate together as a unit about the pivot axis relative to the float plate.

7. The screed system of claim 1, wherein the adjustment means is configured to support the screed plate and move the screed plate vertically in response to a reference datum to cause the screed plate to be adjusted to the final-grade producing position so that uncured concrete is placed at the final grade level relative to the reference datum as the adjustment means is moved over a working area.

8. The screed system of claim 7, wherein the adjustment means includes a height-control assembly coupled to the screed plate to move therewith and a height-adjustment mechanism coupled to the screed plate to move the screed plate relative to the height-adjustment mechanism and the height-control assembly is configured to measure a distance between an actual position of the screed plate and the final-grade producing position of the screed plate to cause the height-adjustment mechanism to move the screed plate from the actual position toward the final-grade producing position to cause the distance to become relatively smaller.

9. The screed system of claim 8, wherein the height-control assembly includes a sensor system coupled to the screed plate to move therewith and configured receive a reference signal, a control system configured to receive an input signal and to transmit an output signal to the height-adjustment mechanism to cause the height-adjustment mechanism to move the screed plate, and a user-input device configured to be in one of an automatic mode wherein the control system is connected to the sensor system and receives the input signal from the sensor system and a manual mode wherein the control system is connected to the user-input device and receives the input signal from the user-input device.

10. A screed-height controller comprising a screed plate, a height-adjustment mechanism coupled to the screed plate and configured to move the screed plate vertically, and height-control means for controlling movement of the height-adjustment mechanism to cause the screed plate to move vertically in response to a reference signal corresponding to a target grade to maintain the screed plate in a final-grade producing position such that uncured concrete is worked to a final grade level.

11. The screed-height controller of claim 10, wherein the height-control means includes a sensor system coupled to the screed plate to move therewith and configured receive the reference signal, a control system configured to receive an input signal and to transmit an output signal to the height-adjustment mechanism to cause the height-adjustment mechanism to move the screed plate, and a user-input device configured to be in one of an automatic mode wherein the control system is connected to the sensor system and receives the input signal from the sensor system and a manual mode wherein the control system is connected to the user-input device and receives the input signal from the user-input device.

12. The screed-height controller of claim 11, wherein the sensor system includes a first reference-signal receiver coupled to a first end of the screed plate and a second reference-signal receiver coupled to an opposite second end of the screed plate and the first reference-signal receiver and the second reference-signal receiver are arranged to extend upwardly away from the screed plate.

13. The screed-height controller of claim 12, wherein the user-input device includes an operation mode switch configured to set the user-input device in one of the automatic mode and the manual mode and a manual-movement switch configured to send the input signal to the control system in response to the operation mode switch arranged to cause the user-input device to be in the manual mode.

14. The screed-height controller of claim 12, wherein the user-input device includes a switch body and a lever coupled to move relative to the switch body between an automatic position wherein the user-input device is in the automatic mode, a stationary position wherein the user-input device is in the manual mode and the control system does not send the output signal to the height-adjustment mechanism, and a raise-plate position wherein the user-input device is in the manual mode and the control system commands the height-adjustment mechanism to move the screed plate upwardly.

15. A screed-rail system comprising a rail adapted to support a screed assembly and rail-height adjustment means for adjusting a vertical position of the rail to cause the screed assembly to be supported in a final-grade producing position so that a final grade level of uncured concrete is formed as the screed assembly is moved along the rail.

16. The screed-rail system of claim 15, wherein the rail-height adjustment means includes a base and an adjustment mechanism, a first end of the rail is coupled to the adjustment mechanism to move therewith, and the adjustment mechanism is arranged to extend downwardly to mount on the base to move vertically relative to the base below.

17. The screed-rail system of claim 16, wherein the adjustment mechanism includes a crank handle configured to rotate about a crank axis, a threaded rod coupled to the crank handle and arranged to rotate about the crank axis defined by the threaded rod, and a threaded receiver coupled to the first end of the rail and configured to receive the threaded rod and convert rotational movement of the threaded rod into vertical movement of the first end of the rail.

18. The screed-rail system of claim 17, wherein the rail-height adjustment means includes a float plate positioned to lie on the uncured concrete at the final grade level and be supported by the uncured concrete, a float coupler coupled to an opposite second end of the rail, and a pivot bracket arranged to interconnect the float plate and the float coupler to cause the float coupler and the rail to rotate together as a unit about a pivot axis relative to the float plate.

19. The screed-rail system of claim 16, wherein the rail includes a frame defining a pivot axis, the rail is arranged to pivot about the pivot axis to cause the first end of the rail to be freed so that the screed-rail system can be repositioned from a first working area to a second working area to work uncured concrete at the second working area at a final grade level without disrupting the uncured concrete at the first working area.

20. The screed-rail system of claim 19, wherein the frame includes a handle coupled to an opposite second end of the rail, a support base, and a rail pivot interconnecting the support base to the handle, the support base is arranged to support the handle and the rail during movement of the screed assembly along the rail, and the rail pivot is configured to support the handle and the rail during movement of the screed-rail system from the first working area toward the second working area.

21. The screed-rail system of claim 16, wherein the rail-height adjustment means further includes a handle coupled to the rail at an opposite second end of the rail, a support wheel, and a wheel axle arranged to interconnect the support wheel to the handle, and the wheel axle defines a pivot axis to cause the handle and the rail to be rotated together as a unit about the pivot axis relative to the support wheel.

Description:

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/035,237, filed Mar. 10, 2008, 61/051,873, filed May 9, 2008, and 61/102,695 filed Oct. 3, 2008, each of which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure is related to screeding concrete and particularly to a screed system including a screed-rail system supporting a screed assembly. More specifically, the present disclosure is related to a screed-rail system supporting a screed assembly having a screed plate.

SUMMARY

According to the present disclosure, a screed system for placing uncured concrete includes a screed-rail system and a screed assembly supported on the screed-rail system. The rail system includes a pair of rails spaced apart and parallel to one another. The screed system is supported between the rails and is moved along the rails to work uncured concrete to a final grade level.

In illustrative embodiments, the rail system further includes adjustment means for adjusting a vertical position of each rail to cause the screed assembly to be supported in a final-grade producing position so that the final grade level of uncured concrete is formed. In illustrative embodiments, the adjustment means includes a frame arranged to pivot about a pivot axis to cause an end of each rail to be freed so that the screed-rail system can be repositioned from a first working area to a second working area to work uncured concrete at the second working area at a final grade level without disrupting the uncured concrete at the first working area.

In illustrative embodiments, the screed assembly includes a screed plate and a screed-height controller. The screed-height controller includes a height-adjustment mechanism coupled to the screed plate and configured to move the screed plate vertically. The screed-height controller also includes height-control means for controlling movement of the height-adjustment mechanism to cause the screed plate to move vertically in response to a reference signal corresponding to a target grade to maintain the screed plate in a final-grade producing position.

Additional features of the present disclosure will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of illustrative embodiments exemplifying the best mode of carrying out the disclosure as presently perceived.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The detailed description particularly refers to the accompanying figures in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment a screed system in accordance with the present disclosure, showing that the screed system includes two adjustable rail assemblies, and an automatic adjustable screed assembly, in accordance with the present disclosure, supported on the two adjustable rail assemblies and showing that the automatic adjustable screed assembly includes a screed-height controller which adjusts the vertical position of a screed plate included in the screed assembly relative to a reference laser signal emitted by a grade laser located outside the work area;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a screed system in accordance with the present disclosure, showing that the screed assembly may include a fixed-position screed assembly supported between the adjustable rail assemblies of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged elevation view of a third embodiment of a rail-height adjuster showing that the rail-height adjuster is supported on a reference-datum pin illustratively mounted in earth below a finished grade level (phantom line) of uncured concrete and suggesting that the rail-height adjuster is configured to adjust the vertical position of a rail relative to the reference-datum pin;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged perspective view of the rail-location adjuster of FIGS. 1 and 2 suggesting that the rail-location adjuster moves the rail and distal rail-height adjuster by rotating the rail-location adjuster about a pivot axis in an illustrative counter-clockwise direction (double solid arrow) and showing that the rail-location adjuster also includes a second embodiment of a rail-height adjuster that is configured to cooperate with another rail-height adjuster to change the vertical position of the rail manually;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of a screed system in accordance with the present disclosure, the screed system includes a pair of adjustable rail assemblies and each rail assembly illustratively includes the first embodiment of the rail-height adjuster coupled to a proximal end of the rail, shown in the lower left of FIG. 5, and a second embodiment of a rail-location adjuster coupled to the distal end of the rail, shown in the upper right of FIG. 5;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged partial perspective view of the distal rail-location adjuster of FIG. 5 showing that the rail-location adjuster is arranged to lie on uncured concrete at a final grade level and is configure to allow the rail to rotate about a pivot axis in a clockwise direction (solid single arrow) relative to a float plate included in the rail-location adjuster;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged partial elevation view of the rail-location adjuster of FIGS. 5 and 6 with portions broken away to reveal a fourth embodiment of a rail-height adjuster that is coupled to the rail near the distal end of the rail where the rail-location adjuster is coupled to the rail and suggesting that when the proximal end of the rail is lifted and rotated about the pivot axis, the rail-height adjuster disengages the reference-datum pin and the rail-location adjuster allows the rail assembly to be pulled toward the proximal end of the rail as suggested in FIG. 8;

FIG. 8 is a view similar to FIG. 7 showing the adjustable rail assembly in an illustrative process of moving from a first working area to a second working area and showing that that the rail-location adjuster supports the rail assembly during movement by floating on the uncured concrete positioned at final grade level until the rail-height adjuster can be mounted on a new reference datum pin;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of a screed system in accordance with the present disclosure showing that the screed system includes a third embodiment of a rail-location adjuster including a handle coupled to the rail and a support wheel coupled to the handle and suggesting that a user pulls downwardly (solid arrow) on the handle to cause the handle and rail to rotate together as a unit about a pivot axis defined by a wheel axle in the support wheel;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged partial perspective view of an automatic adjustable screed assembly in accordance with the present disclosure, showing that the automatic adjustable screed assembly includes a screed plate configured to place uncured concrete at a final grade level and a height-adjustment mechanism, a height-control assembly coupled to the screed plate to determine the vertical position of the screed plate relative to a reference signal, illustratively a laser signal, and a height-adjustment mechanism configured to move the screed plate vertically in response to a signal from the height-control assembly;

FIG. 11 is a partial perspective view of a screed assembly showing that the screed assembly illustratively includes a handle coupled to a screed plate and a first embodiment of a user-input device, illustratively a multi-position switch, coupled to a handle to control operation of the height-adjustment mechanism;

FIG. 12 is an enlarged partial elevation view of the user-input device of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is an enlarged partial perspective view of the rail-location adjuster of FIG. 10 showing that the handle and the support are adjustable relative to the rail so that a user can manually reconfigure the distance between the support wheel and the rail;

FIG. 14 is an enlarged partial perspective view of a junction box for an electrical system included in the screed assembly of FIGS. 1 and 10;

FIG. 15 is an enlarged partial perspective view of a second embodiment of a user-input device showing that the user-input device includes an operation mode switch configured to allow a user to select an automatic control mode or a manual control mode and a manual-movement switch configured to allow a user to control movement of a height-adjustment mechanism manually;

FIG. 16 is a block diagram of a first embodiment of a height controller in accordance with the present disclosure, showing that the height controller includes a sensor system including a left-side reference-signal receiver and a right-side reference-signal receiver and a centralized control system coupled to both reference-signal receivers and configured to send actuation signals to a left-side height-adjustment mechanism and a right-side adjustment mechanism; and

FIG. 17 is a block diagram of a second embodiment of a height controller in accordance with the present disclosure, showing that the height controller includes a sensor system including a left-side reference-signal receiver and a right-side reference-signal receiver and a de-centralized control system including a left-side controller and a right-side controller each coupled to their companion reference-signal receivers and each configured to send actuation signals to their companion height-adjustment mechanisms.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A screed system includes may include any of a number of combinations of screed-rail systems and screed assemblies as disclosed herein. For example, the screed system may include a first embodiment of a screed system 10 is shown in FIG. 1, a second embodiment of a screed system 100 is shown in FIG. 2, a third embodiment of a screed system 200 is shown in FIG. 5, or a fourth embodiment of a screed system 300 is shown in FIG. 9. A first embodiment of a screed assembly 14 is shown in FIGS. 1 and 9 wherein screed assembly 14 is an automatic adjustable screed assembly. A second embodiment of a screed assembly 114 is shown in FIGS. 2 and 5 wherein screed assembly 114 is a fixed-height screed assembly. A first embodiment of a rail-height adjuster 18 is shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 5, a second embodiment of a rail-height adjuster 118 is shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 4, and 5, a third embodiment of a rail-height adjuster 218 is shown in FIG. 3, and a fourth embodiment of a rail-height adjuster 318 is shown in FIG. 5. A first embodiment of a rail-location adjuster 36 is shown in FIG. 1, 2, and 4, a second embodiment of a rail-location adjuster 136 is shown in FIGS. 5-8, and a third embodiment of a rail-location adjuster 236 is shown in FIG. 9. An illustrative embodiment of an adjuster 72 is shown in FIGS. 1, 9, and 10. A first embodiment of a height controller 82 is shown diagrammatically in FIG. 16 and a second embodiment of a height-controller 182 is shown in FIG. 17.

Screed system 10, as shown in FIG. 1, includes two adjustable rail assemblies 12 and an automatic adjustable screed assembly 14 supported between adjustable rail assemblies 12. Each of the adjustable rail assemblies 12 includes a rail 16 adapted to support screed assembly 14 and rail-height adjustment means 18 for adjusting the vertical position of rail 16 to cause screed assembly 14 to be supported in a final-grade producing position so that a final grade level 20 of uncured concrete is formed as screed assembly 14 is moved along rail 16.

As suggested in FIG. 1 and shown in FIG. 2, a first embodiment of rail-height adjuster 18 includes a base 22 and an adjustment mechanism 24. A first end 25 of rail 16 is coupled to adjustment mechanism 24 to move therewith. Adjustment mechanism 24 is arranged to extend downwardly to mount on base 22 to move vertically relative to base 22 below. Base 22, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, is configured to be supported by earth 50. Base 22 may be supported by earth 50 or other material that cooperates to define a rough grade level 19 below final grade level 20. A second embodiment of rail-height adjuster 118 is shown in FIG. 4, a third embodiment of rail-height adjuster 218 is shown in FIG. 3, and a fourth embodiment of rail-height adjuster 318 is shown in FIG. 7.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, adjustment mechanism 24 includes a crank handle 28 configured to rotate about a crank axis 30, a threaded rod 32, and a threaded receiver 34. Crank axis 30 is defined by threaded rod 32. Threaded rod 32 is coupled to crank handle 28 and arranged to rotate about crank axis 30. Threaded receiver 34 is coupled to first end of rail 16 and is configured to receive threaded rod 32 as shown in FIG. 3. Threaded receiver 34 is configured to convert the rotational movement of threaded rod 32 into vertical movement of the first end 25 of rail 16 as suggested in FIGS. 1 and 2.

Screed system 10 further includes rail-location adjuster means 36 for pivoting rail 16 about a pivot axis 60 to cause a first end 25 of rail 16 to be freed so that screed system 10 may be repositioned from a first working area 41 to a second working area 42 to work uncured concrete at second working area 42 final grade level 20 without disrupting the uncured concrete at first working area 41. A first embodiment of rail-location adjuster 36 is shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, a second embodiment of rail-location adjuster 136 is shown in FIGS. 5-8, and a third embodiment of rail-location adjuster 236 is shown in FIGS. 9 and 13.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, the first embodiment of rail-location adjuster 36 is illustratively shown as a support dolly 40 that includes a handle 44 coupled to an opposite second end 26 of rail 16, a support base 46, and a rail pivot 48 interconnecting support base 46 to handle 44. Support base 46 is arranged to support handle 44 and rail 16 during movement of screed assembly 14 along rail 16. Rail pivot 48 is configured to support handle 44 and rail 16 during movement of screed system 10 from first working area 41 to second working area 42.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, support dolly 40 further includes the second embodiment of rail-height adjuster 118. Illustratively, rail-height adjuster 118 interconnects rail 16 to handle 44. Rail-height adjuster 118, as shown in FIG. 4, includes an adjustment mechanism 124 and a base 122. Base 122 is coupled to handle 44 and to rail 16. Adjustment mechanism 124 is arranged to extend downwardly to couple with base 122 to mover vertically relative to base 122 and handle 44. Base 122 is configured to be supported by handle 44 and support base 46 of rail-location adjuster 36.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, adjustment mechanism 124 is similar to adjustment mechanism 24 and includes crank handle 28 configured to rotate about crank axis 30, a threaded rod 32, and a threaded receiver 134. Threaded receiver 134 is coupled to base 122 and is configured to receive threaded rod 32 as shown in FIG. 4. Threaded receiver 134 is configured to convert the rotational movement of threaded rod 32 and crank handle 28 into vertical movement of the second end 26 of rail 16 as suggested in FIGS. 1, 2, and 4.

Illustratively, each of the screed systems 10, 100 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 includes a pair of the first embodiments of rail-height adjusters 18 coupled to first end 25 of rail 16. Screed system 10 further includes a pair of the first embodiments of rail-location adjusters 36 interconnected to second end 26 of rail 16 by the second embodiment of rail-height adjusters 118. Rail-height adjusters 18, 118 cooperate together so that a user can make level adjustments to screed system 10, 100.

As illustratively shown in FIG. 1, an automatic adjustable screed assembly 14 may rest on rails 16 and adjust the vertical position of screed plate 70 in reference to a reference datum 74, illustratively a laser signal emitted from a grade laser 90. Alternatively, a stationary screed assembly 114 may be used with screed system 100, 200 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 5. Final grade level 20 is achieved through manual adjustment of rail-height adjuster 18, 118, 218, 318 when using stationary screed assembly 114.

Illustratively, the third embodiment of rail-height adjuster 218 is shown in FIG. 3. Rail-height adjuster 218 includes adjustment mechanism 24 similar to the first embodiment of rail-height adjuster 18 and a base 222. Adjustment mechanism 24 is arranged to extend downwardly to mount on base 222 to move vertically relative to base 222. Base 222, as shown in FIG. 3, is illustratively mounted in earth 50 and supported by earth 50. Base 222 illustratively includes a datum pin 120 and a socket 126. Datum pin 120 is mounted in earth 50 and socket 126 is arranged to set on datum pin 120 to provide a connection point for adjustment mechanism 24 to set on during screeding.

As suggested in FIG. 7, a fourth embodiment of rail-height adjuster 318 coupled in close proximity to first end 25 of rail 16. Rail-height adjuster 318 includes an adjustment mechanism 324 and a base 322. Adjustment mechanism 324 is arranged to extend downwardly to mount on base 322 and configured to move rail 16 vertically relative to base 322. Base 322, as suggested in FIGS. 7 and 8, is a datum pin 120 mounted in earth 50 so that a first portion of datum pin 120 is within in earth 50 and a second portion extends upwardly above earth 50.

Adjustment mechanism 324, as illustrated in FIG. 7, includes a drive head 128, a threaded rod 330, and a threaded receiver 334. Drive head 128 is coupled to a top end of threaded rod 330 and arranged to be rotated about a crank axis 30 to rotate threaded rod 330. Threaded receiver 334 includes a mounting bracket 130 and a socket 132. Mounting bracket 130 is coupled to rail 16 and formed to receive threaded rod 330. Mounting bracket 130 is further configured to transform the rotational movement of threaded rod 330 into vertical movement of mounting bracket 130 and rail 16. Socket 132 is coupled to mounting bracket 130 and arranged to extend downwardly and mate with datum pin 120.

In illustrative use, rail-height adjuster 318, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, is used to control the vertical position of rail 16 by first placing datum pin 120 in earth 50 and placing adjustment mechanism 324 on datum pin 120. As an example, a user may require top surface 148 of rail 16 to be positioned four inches above final grade level 20. To do so, datum pin 120 may be positioned so that a top portion is always two inches below final grade level. User will then use adjustment mechanism 324 so that the bottom of socket 126 is six inches below top surface 148. Every time rail 16 is positioned on datum pin 120, top surface 148 will be four inches above final grade level 20. The six inch adjustment accounts for the two inches that datum pin 120 is below final grade level 20 and the four inches the user plans for top surface 148 to be above final grade level 20. Any of a number of configurations may be selected by a user and this is but one illustrative example of how rail-height adjuster 318 may be used in accordance with the present disclosure.

The use of rail-height adjusters 218, 318 facilitates the use of datum pins 120 which are positioned either below or above a final grade level 20 which represents the planned grade of the concrete to be placed. When a datum pin 120 is positioned below final grade level 20, uncured concrete can be placed near and around rail-height adjuster 218, 318 and when rail-height adjuster 218, 318 is removed from uncured concrete placed at final grade level 20, datum pin 120 is covered by the uncured concrete and remains in position after placement of the concrete. In contrast, rail-height adjuster 18, which includes base 22, is configured to be positioned on rough grade 19 and no datum pin is used.

As shown in FIGS. 5-8, a second embodiment of a rail-location adjuster 136 is illustratively shown as a support float 52. Support float 52 includes a float plate 54, a float coupler 56, and a pivot bracket 58. Float plate 54 is positioned to lie on and be supported by uncured concrete at final grade level 20. Float coupler 56 is coupled to opposite second 26 end of rail 16 and interconnected to float plate 54 by pivot bracket 58. Pivot bracket 58 allows float coupler 56 and rail 16 to rotate together as a unit about a pivot axis 60 relative to float plate 54 as suggested in FIG. 7 and shown in FIG. 9.

As shown in FIG. 7 and 8, float coupler 56 is secured to first end 25 of rail 16 by a set of fasteners 266. Pivot bracket 58 is coupled to float plate 54 by a set of fasteners 270. Pivot bracket 58 includes a pivot pin 62 and a pivot flange 65. Pivot pin 62 is arranged to extend through pivot flange 65 and float coupler 56. Pivot pin 62 defines pivot axis 60 as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6.

Float plate 54 has a generally planar lower surface 268, as shown in FIG. 7, which lies in confronting relation with a concrete surface 272 which supports support float 52. Illustratively, concrete surface 272 is a pad of cured concrete 274, but maybe a pad of uncured concrete at final grade level 20. Once first working area 41 has been worked to a final grade level 20, support float 52 is configured to allow a user to lift second end 26 of rail 16 as suggested in FIG. 7 (a phantom arrow 276) and move screed system 200 in a longitudinal direction 278 with support float 52 on uncured concrete 280 as shown in FIG. 8.

An illustrative process for moving screed system 10 is suggested in FIGS. 7 and 8. Illustratively, when second end 26 of rail 16 is lifted, float coupler 56 and rail 16 pivot about pivot pin 62. A wall 282 of float coupler 56 is positioned so that when rail 16 is lifted a sufficient distance, wall 282 engages pivot flange 65. Engagement of wall 282 with pivot flange 65 transmits rotation of float coupler 56 about pivot pin 62 to support float 52 thereby raising a proximal edge 284 of float plate 54. Rail 16 is then pulled in longitudinal direction 278 with support float 52 supporting adjustable rail assembly 12 on uncured concrete 280 in a manner similar to a bull float commonly used in the concrete placement industry.

After adjustable rail assembly 12 is moved from first working area 41 to second working area 42, rail 16 is lowered such that rail-height adjuster 318 engages another datum pin 120′. Datum pin 120′ is then responsible for supporting the weight of first end 25 of rail 16 and support float 52.

As shown in FIGS. 9 and 13, a third embodiment of a rail-location adjuster 236 includes a handle 64 coupled to an opposite second end 26 of rail 16, a support wheel 66, and a wheel axle 68 interconnecting support wheel 66 to handle 64. Wheel axle 68 defines pivot axis 60 to allow handle 64 and rail 16 to be rotated together as a unit about pivot axis 60 relative to support wheel 66 to move screed system 300 from first working area 41 toward second working area 42 without disrupting uncured concrete at final grade level 20 in first working area 41.

As shown in FIG. 4, the first embodiment of rail-location adjuster 36 is a support dolly 40. Support dolly 40 includes handle 44 which includes a handle crossbar 246 with a pair of grips 247, 248 on each of handle crossbar 246 that are configured to be gripped by a user when repositioning screed system 10. Handle 44 further includes a first handle leg 249, and a second handle leg 250 each coupled to handle crossbar 246 and extending downwardly toward rail 16. First handle leg 249 includes a support base 46, a rail pivot 48, and a leg bar 252.

Support dolly 40 further includes rail-height adjuster 118 and a rail-adjuster guide 254 which couples rail-height adjuster 118 to support dolly 40. Rail-adjuster guide 254, as shown in FIG. 4, includes an upper crossbar 255, a lower crossbar 256, and a pair of clamps 258 coupled to each side of upper crossbar 255. Clamps 258 engage companion first and second handle legs 249, 250 to maintain position of rail-height adjuster 118 relative to handle 44. Each clamp 258 includes a pair of clamp blocks 259, 260 and a clamp handle 262. Clamp handle 262 acts on clamp blocks 259, 260 to draw clamp blocks 259, 260 together so that clamp blocks 259, 260 frictionally engage leg bar 252 of handle 44 to lock rail-adjuster guide 254 in position relative to handle 44.

As shown in FIG. 4, base 122 of rail-height adjuster 118 is coupled to lower crossbar 256 and to rail 16 by a stringer 264. Base 122 is illustratively not coupled to upper crossbar 255, but threaded rod 32 of adjustment mechanism 124 extends through upper crossbar 255. Illustratively, rail-adjuster guide 254 is configured to provide gross adjustment of the relative heights of rail 16 by moving upper crossbar 255 and clamps 258 along handle legs 249, 250 of handle 44. Fine adjustment of rail 16 is accomplished by adjustment mechanism 124.

An automatic adjustable screed assembly 14, as shown in FIGS. 1, 9, and 10, includes a screed plate 70 and adjuster means 72 for supporting screed plate 70 and for moving screed plate 70 vertically in response to a reference datum 74 to cause screed plate 70 to be adjusted to a final-grade producing position so that uncured concrete is placed at a final grade level 20 relative to reference datum 74 as adjuster means 72 is moved over a first working area 41.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 9, and 10, adjuster 72 includes a height-control assembly 76 coupled to screed plate 70 to move therewith and a height-adjustment mechanism 78 coupled to screed plate 70 to move screed plate 70 relative to height-adjustment mechanism 78. Illustratively, height-control assembly 76 is configured to measure a distance between an actual position of screed plate 70 and the final-grade producing position. Height-control assembly 76 is configured to cause height-adjustment mechanism 78 to move screed plate 70 from the actual position toward the final-grade producing position to cause the distance to become relatively smaller and a final grade level 20 to be produced.

A screed-height controller 80, as suggested in FIGS. 9 and 10 and shown in FIGS. 14-17, includes screed plate 70, height-adjustment mechanism 78, and height-control means 82 for controlling the movement of height-adjustment mechanism 78 to cause screed plate 70 to move vertically in response to a reference signal 74 corresponding to a target grade to maintain screed plate 70 in a final-grade producing position such that uncured concrete is worked to final grade level 20.

Illustratively, height controller 82 includes a sensor system 84, a control system 86, and a user-input device 88. Sensor system 84 is coupled to screed plate 70 to move therewith and configured to receiver reference signal 74 emitted illustratively from grade laser 90. Control system 86 is configured to receive an input signal from sensor system 84 and to transmit an output signal to height-adjustment mechanism 78 to cause height-adjustment mechanism 78 to move screed plate 70. User-input device 88 is configured to be in one of an automatic mode or a manual mode. When user-input device 88 is in automatic mode, control system 86 is connected to sensor system 84 and receives input signal from sensor system 84. When user-input device 88 is in manual mode, control system 86 is connected to user-input device 88 and receives input signal from user-input device 88.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 9, sensor system 84 of height controller 82 includes a first reference-signal receiver 92 and a second reference-signal receiver 94. First reference-signal receiver 92 is coupled to a first end of screed plate 70 and a second reference-signal receiver is coupled to an opposite second end of screed plate 70. Illustratively, reference-signal receivers 92, 94 extend upwardly away from screed plate 70 toward reference signal 74 as shown in FIGS. 1, 9, and 10.

A first embodiment of user-input device 88, as shown in FIG. 15, includes a switch housing 96, an operation mode switch 98, and a manual-movement switch 101. Operation mode switch 98 illustratively is a two position switch where the first position is an automatic mode and the second position is a manual mode. Manual-movement switch 101 is configured to send an input signal to control system 86 in response to operation mode switch 98 arranged in manual mode. Operation mode switch 98 and manual-movement switch 101 are both mounted in switch housing 96.

A second embodiment of user-input device 88, as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, includes a switch body 102 and a lever 104 coupled to move relative to switch body 102. Lever 104 is movable between an automatic mode position 106 (solid) illustrated in FIG. 11 wherein user-input device 88 is in automatic mode and a stationary mode position 108 (phantom) wherein user-input device is in manual mode and control system 86 does not send an output signal to height-adjustment mechanism 78. Lever 104 is movable to a third position 110 (phantom) as shown in FIG. 11, wherein user-input device 88 is in the manual mode and control system 86 commands height-adjustment mechanism 78 to move screed plate 70 upwardly so as not to disturb uncured concrete at final grade level 20 while screed assembly 14 is moved from first working area 41 to second working area 42.

Stationary screed assembly 114, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, includes screed plate 70, plate vibrator 140, a pair of screed supports 142, and a screed handle 144. Plate vibrator 140 is coupled to screed plate 70 and configured to vibrate screed plate 70. Plate vibrator includes a power unit 224 coupled to a vibrator 226 as shown in FIG. 11. Screed handle 144 includes a screed-handle 228 and a pair of hand grips 229, 230. Illustratively, screed handle 144 is mounted around plate vibrator 140 to screed plate 70 so that a user may push or pull screed assembly 114 along the length of rails 16. Screed assembly 114 is supported on rails 16 by a pair of screed supports 142 mounted on each end of screed plate 70.

Screed assembly 114, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, includes a hanger 150 coupled to screed plate 70 and a slide plate 146 coupled to hanger 150 and positioned to engage a top surface 148 of rail 16. Slide plate 146 comprises a low friction material which facilitates screed assembly 114 sliding along rail 16 during the screeding process. When using stationary screed assembly 114, final grade level 20 of uncured concrete is achieved by movement of rails 16 relative to a datum pin 120. When using automatic adjustable screed assembly 14, final grade level 20 of uncured concrete is achieved by movement of screed plate 70 relative to reference datum 74.

Automatic adjustable screed assembly 14, as shown in FIGS. 1, 9, and 10, includes screed plate 70, plate vibrator 140, screed handle 144, and adjuster 72. Screed assembly 14 is supported on rails 16 by a pair of adjusters 72 mounted to each end of screed plate 70. As suggested in FIGS. 1 and 9, adjuster 72 includes height-control assembly 76 and height-adjustment mechanism 78.

Height-adjustment mechanism 78, as shown in FIG. 10, includes an actuator 152, a rail follower 154, and a support assembly 156. Rail follower 154 is configures to ride on top surface 148 of rail 16 and configured to support actuator 152 coupled to rail follower 154 to move vertically relative to rail follower 154. Support assembly 156 is interconnected to screed plate 70 and actuator 152 to move therewith as suggested in FIG. 10. Rail follower 154 includes a carriage 158 and a pair of posts 160 which are coupled to carriage 158 and engage support assembly 156 as actuator 152 moves vertically relative to rail 16.

Carriage 158, as shown in FIG. 10, includes a roller bracket 162 which is coupled to posts 160 and a pair of rollers 163, 164 coupled for rotation to roller bracket 162. Each roller 163, 164 is configured to engage top surface 148 of rail 16. Carriage 158 further includes a pair of lateral trailers 165, 166 that are configured to maintain height-adjustment mechanism 78 in the proper lateral position as it moves along rail 16.

Lateral trailers 165, 166 each include an extension bar 168 coupled to roller bracket 162 and arranged to extend outwardly away from rail 16 and a trailer wheel 170 coupled to extension bar 168 and configured to engage a companion outer surface 171, 172 of rail 16. Only outer lateral trailer 165 is shown in FIG. 8, but it is within the scope of the present disclosure to position the other lateral trailer 166 similarly on the inside of rail 16.

As shown in FIG. 10, support assembly 156 includes a channel 174 and a channel bracket 176 coupled to channel 174 by a securing pin 178. Securing pin 178 may be removed so that screed plate 70 may be coupled to support assembly 156 in multiple locations to provide gross adjustment of screed plate 70 relative to rail 16. A pair of post guides 180 are coupled to channel bracket 176 and configured to receive posts 160 of rail follower 154. Post guides 180 cooperate with posts 160 to allow actuator 152 to move in a substantially vertical direction 183 relative to rail 16.

As shown in FIG. 10, support assembly 156 further includes a pair of mounts 184 and a clamp 186. Mounts 184 and claim 185 cooperate to secure actuator 152 to channel bracket 176 so that actuator 152 is fixed to channel bracket 176. Actuator 152 includes an actuator piston 188 which extends and retracts as depicted by arrow 183. Movement of actuator piston 188 moves support assembly 156 vertically relative to rail 16 to change the vertical position of screed plate 70.

Adjuster 72 further includes height-control assembly 76 which includes a control assembly 190 and a support bracket 192. Support bracket 192 is secured to screed plate 70 by an illustrative pair of fasteners 194. Support bracket 192 includes a mount 196 which supports control assembly 190 and a control-assembly mount plate 198 which is coupled to screed plate 70 by fasteners 194. Mount 196 extends upwardly away from screed plate 70 as shown in FIGS. 1, 9, and 10.

Control assembly 190 includes a power module 201, a controller 202, and a receiver 204. Power module 201 is illustratively mounted on mount 196 and includes a battery (not shown) and a power switch 206 which is operable to turn power on and off to adjuster 72. Controller 202 includes circuitry which processes signals received from receiver 204 and outputs control signals to operate actuator 152 to extend and retract actuator piston 188. Illustratively, receiver 204 includes a light-sensitive receiver panel 208 which is configured to detect a laser signal 74. Laser signal 74 is emitted from a grade laser 90 that includes a tripod 210 and an emitter head 212 which rotates about an emitter axis 214 as shown in FIG. 10. Emitter head 212 emits laser signal 74 which is indicative of a desired position of receiver 204.

As further shown in FIG. 10, light-sensitive receiver panel 208 has a target 216. If laser signal 74 is detected above target 216, a signal is sent to controller 202 to extend actuator piston 188 to thereby raise receiver 204 to a position in which laser signal 74 is on target 216. If laser signal 74 is detected by light-sensitive receiver panel 208 below target 216, a signal is sent to controller 202 to retract actuator piston 188 to thereby lower receiver 204 to a position in which laser signal 74 is on target 216. During the screeding process, screed plate 70 is moved along a pair of rails 16 and adjuster 72 is operable to constantly adjust the vertical position of screed plate 70 relative to rail 16 to so that screed plate 70 is in the final-grade producing position to cause final grade level 20 of uncured concrete to be formed as suggested in FIG. 1.

Automatic adjustable screed assembly 14 can be used with any of the embodiments of screed system 10, 100, 200, 300. The fourth embodiment of screed system 300 includes automatic adjustable screed assembly 14 and screed frame 220. A throttle 232, as shown in FIG. 11, is mounted to screed handle 144 of screed frame 220. Throttle 232 controls the speed of power unit 224 which thereby controls the magnitude of vibrations emitted from vibrator 226. User-input device 88 is coupled illustratively near throttle 232 as shown in FIGS. 9 and 11. User-input device 88 allows a user to control whether automatic adjustable screed assembly 14 is controlled automatically or manually.

As shown in FIG. 12, the second embodiment of user-input device 88 is illustratively a three position switch. When the lever 104 is in automatic mode position 106 (shown solid and lowest position), adjuster 72 is operational to detect a laser signal 74 at receiver 204 and output a control signal to operate actuator 152 to extend and retract actuator piston 188. Lever 104 is movable to stationary mode position 108 (shown in phantom and middle position) as shown in FIG. 12. When the lever 104 is in stationary mode position 108, adjuster 72 is not operational and does not respond to laser signal 74.

Lever 104 toggles between automatic mode position 106 and stationary mode position 108. Lever 104 is further movable from stationary mode position 108 to a third position 110 (shown in phantom at top) as shown in FIG. 12. In third position 110, lever 104 is biased and urged to return to stationary mode position 108. Lever 104 acts as a momentary switch when in third position 110. If a user applies a force to lever 104 to urge lever 104 to third position 110, height-adjustment mechanism 78 will respond by extending actuator piston 188 of actuator 152 to raise screed plate 70 relative to rail 16 so that screed plate 70 may be moved over uncured concrete at final grade level 20 without disrupting the finished surface.

As shown in FIG. 16, control system 86 is illustratively a single controller where first reference-signal receiver 92 is connected by a first signal cable 285 to control system 86 and second reference-signal receiver 94 is connected a second signal cable 286. Control system 86 is connected to each individual actuator by an actuator-command cable 288. As suggested in FIG. 16, a power module 201 is coupled to control system 86 and power is supplied to each actuator 152 from power module 201 by actuator-command cables 288.

As shown diagrammatically in FIG. 17, a first embodiment of power module 201 is a single power module separate from and connected to junction box 240 by power cable 242. First embodiment of power module 201 provides all the necessary power to first and second reference-signal receivers 92, 94, individual controllers 202, and both height-adjustment mechanisms 78. A second embodiment of power module 201 is suggested diagrammatically in FIG. 16 wherein power module 201 is included in the same housing as control system 86. The single second embodiment of power module 201 provides all the necessary power.

As shown in FIG. 10, a third embodiment of power module 201 is mounted on each adjuster 72. The third embodiment of power module 201 illustratively provides power to each height adjuster 72. As an example, two power modules 201 may be required when the third embodiment of power module 201 is used to power each reference-signal receiver 92, its companion controller 202, and its companion height-adjustment mechanism 78 all included in the individual adjuster 72.

In another illustrative embodiment, user-input device 88 may be connected to a junction box 240 by control cable 238 as suggested in FIG. 17. A power cable 242 also interconnects power module 201 to junction box 240. Junction box 240 splits power and the user-input signal to both adjusters 72 by a pair of power-control cables 244. Each power-control cable 244 sends power from power module 201 and user-input commands from user-input device 88 to each adjuster 72 to multiple controllers 202. Junction box 240 may also include power switch 206 movable between an on position where power is permitted to flow out of power module 201 and an off position where power is restricted from flowing out of power module 201.

Height-adjustment mechanism 78 may be illustratively controlled by controller 202 receiving signals from receiver light-sensitive receiver panel 208. In one example, controller 202 may be enclosed with light-sensitive receiver panel 208 within reference-signal receiver 92 as suggested in FIG. 17.

As shown in FIGS. 9 and 13, a fourth embodiment of screed system 300 includes automatic adjustable screed assembly 14 positioned on screed frame 220. Screed frame 220 is shown with a first end 292 positioned in the lower left of FIG. 9. A second end 294 is positioned in the upper right of FIG. 12 and is configured to be supported by two posts 295 and 296. Posts 295, 296 are each secured to a respective rail 16a and 16b by a coupler 298 configured to clamp posts 295, 296 in position relative to coupler 298. The clamping action of coupler 298 provides for adjustment of the height of rails 16a, 16b relative to rough grade 19. Thus, gross adjustment of second end 294 of screed frame 220 can be made before concrete is placed initially.

First end 292 of screed frame 220 is supported on a pair of rail-location adjusters 236 in accordance with the present disclosure. Each rail-location adjuster 236 includes handle 64, support wheel 66, and wheel axle 68 interconnecting support wheel 66 to handle 64. As suggested in FIG. 9, two users, one on each handle 64, rotate rails 16a, 16b about pivot axis 60 to lift second end 294 out of contact with rough grade 19 in a counter-clockwise direction 301. After second end 294 of screed frame 220 has been lifted out of contact with rough grade 19, users may move screed rail system from first working area 41 to second working area 42 without disturbing uncured concrete at final grade level 20.

Screed frame 220, as shown in FIG. 9, further includes a tie rod 302 positioned at second end 294 and configured to secure rails 16a, 16b together at an appropriate spacing. Rails 16a, 16b, as shown in FIG. 14, are releasably coupled to each handle 64. Handle 64 is releaseably coupled to a cross bar 304 included in screed frame 220. The releasable coupling of various components of screed frame 220 facilitates easy assembly and disassembly of screed system 300 while providing a generally rigid structure when in use.

Screed frame 220 further includes a rail coupler 306 coupled to rail 16. Rail coupler 306 includes a first plate 307 and a post 310 cantilevered to first plate 307. A second plate 308 is coupled to the opposite side of rail 16 and secured to first plate 307 by fasteners (not shown). Handle 64 includes two support bars 311, 312 coupled to support wheel 66 by wheel axle 68. Support wheel 66 is positioned to lie between support bars 311, 312 and wheel axle 68 is arranged to extend through support bars 311, 312 and support wheel 66.

As shown in FIG. 13, each support bar 311, 312 is formed to include a plurality of positioning holes 314. First and second plates 307, 308 are formed to include a plurality of positioning holes 316 (not shown) coaxially aligned with positioning holes 314. A handle-frame retention pin 320 is arranged to extend through positioning holes 314, 316 to retain handle 64 in a fixed position relative to rail 16. Handle-frame retention pin 320 is configured to be removable so that the vertical position of handle 64 may be changed relative to rough grade 19. Illustratively, a user removes handle-frame retention pin 320 and adjusts the position of rail 16 to a new location and re-inserts handle-frame retention pin 320 through holes 314, 316.

As shown in FIG. 13, first plate 307 includes a cantilevered tab 326 formed to include a through hole (not shown). Cantilevered tab 326 is arranged to extend away from rail 16 generally parallel to rough grade 19. Cross bar 304 includes a mount plate 332 having a cantilevered mounting tab 328 formed to include a through hole (not shown) coaxially aligned with the through hole formed in cantilevered tab 326 when screed frame 220 is assembled. An assembly pin 366 is arranged to extend axially through both through holes coupling cross bar 308 to rail 16 and facilitating efficient disassembly of screed frame 220. Mount plate 332 is coupled to cross bar 304 by a fastener 336

Screed frame 220, as shown in FIG. 13, includes a cross-bar coupler 338 including a first cross-bar plate 339 coupled to one side of cross bar 304 and a second cross-bar plate 340 coupled to the opposite side of cross bar 304. A set of fasteners 348 interconnect first and second cross-bar plates 339, 340 together through cross bar 304. Cross-bar coupler 338 further includes a post 342 cantilevered onto first cross-bar plate 339 and extending toward screed plate 70. A strut 344 is positioned on each post 310, 342 and includes through holes (not shown) configured to receive pins 346 when strut 344 is positioned on posts 310, 342 as suggested by FIG. 13. Pins 346 are retained in place by retainers 350 which are removable so that pins 346 may be removed from screed frame 220. Illustratively retainers 350 are retainer pins, but any suitable alternative may be used.

Handle 64, as shown in FIG. 13, further includes a grip handle 352 including a cross-handle bar 354, a first handle support 355, and a second handle support 356. Two brackets 357, 358 are coupled to companion support bars 311, 312 to facilitate disassembly of handle 64. First and second handle supports 355, 356 are inserted through companion brackets 357, 358 and secured to support bars 311, 312 by companion fasteners 359, 360. A post (not shown) extends from each bracket 357, 358 and is sized to be received in a space inside support bars 311, 312 of grip handle 352. Removable pins 361, 362 are received through each support bar 311, 312 and posts and are secured in place by retainer 364. Assembly of handle 64 in this manner allows for improved assembly and disassembly efficiency when moving from site to site.

In some embodiments, support wheel 66 may be omitted and replaced with a skid plate having a curved or angled surface such that the screed rail assembly may be rotated to lift one end out of worked concrete at final grade level 20. The skid plate is suitable for use on sub-grade surfaces having significant discontinuities or other surfaces where support wheels 66 of screed system 300 would not be suitable.