Title:
SUPPORT FOR BOAT COVERS AND COVERS FOR OTHER VEHICLES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A boat cover support for elevating a boat cover that includes a telescoping pole having a first end and a second end, a cap at the first end of the telescoping pole, and an adjustable tripod base at the second end of the telescoping pole.



Inventors:
Grant, Tim (Minnetonka, MN, US)
Application Number:
12/540562
Publication Date:
02/18/2010
Filing Date:
08/13/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B17/00
View Patent Images:
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20090255454Mooring System For Stabilizing A Vessel, A Vessel, Method For Stabilizing A Vessel And Use Of A Mooring SystemOctober, 2009Soe-jensen
20070137542Synchronized Roller Furl System for Hoisting, Reefing and Storing of SailsJune, 2007Falb
20070272140Method Of Manufacturing A Ship Deck And A Prefabricated Ship Deck Element For Executing The MethodNovember, 2007Jonsson
20080276850Method for Breaking Ice, Motor-Driven Watercraft and Its UseNovember, 2008Immonen
20070180983Vehicle protection systemAugust, 2007Farinella et al.
20060032422Buoyant storage vesselFebruary, 2006Mcdermott



Primary Examiner:
VASUDEVA, AJAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Allison Johnson P. A. (LAKE CALHOUN EXECUTIVE CENTER, 3033 EXCELSIOR BLVD., SUITE 467, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55416, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A boat cover support for elevating a boat cover, the support comprising: a telescoping pole having a first end and a second end; a cap at the first end of the telescoping pole; and a tripod base at the second end of the telescoping pole

2. The boat cover support of claim 1, wherein the tripod base is adjustable.

3. The boat cover support of claim 1, wherein the cap is removable.

4. The boat cover support of claim 1, wherein the cap further comprises a connector.

5. The boat cover support of claim 4, wherein the connector comprises at least one component of a snap.

6. The boat cover support of claim 1, wherein the connector comprises a male component of a fastener for mating with a grommet.

7. The boat cover support of claim 1 further comprising a first adjustable collar.

8. The boat cover support of claim 7, wherein the tripod base comprises at least three feet, the feet being connected to the first adjustable collar.

9. The boat cover support of claim 8 further comprising a second collar, the feet of the tripod base being connected to the second collar.

10. The boat cover support of claim 9 further comprising at least one pole support attached to the first adjustable collar and at least one of the feet of the tripod base.

11. The boat cover support of claim 1 further comprising: a second telescoping pole having a first end and a second end; a cap at the first end of the second telescoping pole; a tripod base at the second end of the second telescoping pole; and a cross member extending from the first telescoping pole to the second telescoping pole

12. A boat cover support for elevating a boat cover, the support comprising: a pole having a first end and a second end, the pole extending within a first plane, and an adjustable tripod base at the second end of the pole, the individual feet of the tripod base being capable of pivoting along a second plane perpendicular to the first plane, the individual feet of the tripod base additionally being capable of locking into a plurality of positions along the second plane.

13. The boat cover support of claim 12, wherein the length of the individual tripod feet is adjustable.

14. A boat cover support for elevating a boat cover, the support comprising: a pole having a first end and a second end, a stabilization means at the second end of the pole, and a connector at the first end of the pole.

15. The boat cover support of claim 14, wherein the connector comprises a snap connector for connecting the boat cover support to a boat cover.

16. The boat cover support of claim 14, wherein the connector comprises a fastener for connecting the boat cover support to a grommet attached to a boat cover.

17. A method of using a boat cover support, the method comprising: positioning a boat cover support on a boat, the boat cover support comprising a telescoping pole having a first end and a second end, a cap at the first end of the telescoping pole, and a tripod base at the second end of the telescoping pole; contacting a surface of the boat with the tripod base; and contacting a boat cover with the cap.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising positioning a second a boat cover support on the boat, the second boat cover support comprising a telescoping pole having a first end and a second end, a cap at the first end of the telescoping pole, and a tripod base at the second end of the telescoping pole.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising extending a cross member from the first boat cover support to the second boat cover support.

20. A support cap comprising: a base portion comprising at least one side wall defining the cylinder; a post extending from the base portion; and an elongated member rotatably mounted on the post, the elongated member being rotatable between a first position and a second position.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/088,589, filed Aug. 13, 2008, and incorporated herein.

BACKGROUND

The invention is directed to supporting covers on vehicles including boats.

Boat covers are used to protect boats from damage when not in use. A boat cover can also help in holding objects inside the boat while the boat is in transit, or when stored. When a flexible material boat cover (e.g., fabric, tarp, etc.) is exposed to the elements, precipitation can accumulate in the center of the cover. To allow the boat cover to shed precipitation, a boat cover support can be introduced beneath the boat cover to elevate the center portion of the boat cover. One example of a boat cover support includes a telescoping pole as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,308,653.

SUMMARY

In one aspect, the invention features a boat cover support for elevating a boat cover (e.g., the center of the boat cover), the support including a telescoping pole having a first end and a second end, and a tripod base at the second end of the telescoping pole. In one embodiment, the support includes a cap at the first end of the telescoping pole. In some embodiments, the tripod base is adjustable.

In other embodiments, the cap is interchangeable with other caps. In some embodiments the cap is removable. In another embodiment, the cap includes a connector.

In some embodiments, the cap includes at least one component of a snap. In other embodiments, the cap includes a fastener. In one embodiment, the fastener is the male component for mating with a grommet.

In one embodiment, the boat cover support further includes a first adjustable collar.

In some embodiments, the tripod base includes at least three feet, the feet being connected to the first adjustable collar. In other embodiments, the boat cover support further includes a second collar, the feet of the tripod base being connected to the second collar.

In another embodiment, the boat cover support further includes at least one pole support attached to the first adjustable collar and at least one of the feet of the tripod base.

In other embodiments, the boat cover support further includes a second telescoping pole having a first end and a second end, a cap at the first end of the second telescoping pole, a tripod base at the second end of the second telescoping pole, and a cross member extending from the first telescoping pole to the second telescoping pole

In another embodiment, the boat cover support for elevating a boat cover includes a pole having a first end and a second end, the pole extending within a first plane, and an adjustable tripod base at the second end of the pole, the individual feet of the tripod base being capable of pivoting along a second plane perpendicular to the first plane, the individual feet of the tripod base additionally being capable of locking into a plurality of positions along the second plane such that the tripod base can fit within locations having varying dimensions and on surfaces having various contours including, e.g., concave, convex, inclined, and flat. In some embodiments, the length of the individual feet of the tripod base is adjustable.

In other embodiments, the boat cover support for elevating a boat cover includes a pole having a first end and a second end, a stabilization means at the second end of the pole, and a connector at the first end of the pole. In one embodiment, the connector includes a snap connector for connecting the boat cover support to a boat cover. In other embodiments, the connector includes a fastener for connecting the boat cover support to a grommet attached to a boat cover.

In another aspect, the invention features a method of using a boat cover support, the method including positioning a boat cover support on a boat, the boat cover support including a telescoping pole having a first end and a second end, a cap at the first end of the telescoping pole, and a tripod base at the second end of the telescoping pole, contacting a surface of the boat with the tripod base, and contacting a boat cover with the cap. In one embodiment, the method further includes extending the telescoping pole to render the boat cover taut. In some embodiments, the method further includes positioning a second a boat cover support on the boat, the second boat cover support including a telescoping pole having a first end and a second end, a cap at the first end of the telescoping pole, and a tripod base at the second end of the telescoping pole. In other embodiments, the method further includes extending a cross member from the first boat cover support to the second boat cover support.

In other aspects, the invention features a support cap that includes a base portion including at least one side wall defining the cylinder, a post extending from the base portion, and an elongated member rotatably mounted on the post, the elongated member being rotatable between a first position and a second position.

The boat cover support features a telescoping pole that, when positioned under a boat cover that extends over a boat, provides a tent effect to allow precipitation that contacts the boat cover to drain from the boat cover. The boat cover support also features a tripod base that enables improved stabilization against the effects of waves, wind, trailer travel, severe weather, and combinations thereof. In addition, in some implementations, the boat cover support can capitalize on the configuration of a particular interface present on the boat cover by providing a mating connection to snaps, pole pockets, vent covers, or grommets through the use of interchangeable support pole caps.

Other features and advantages will be apparent from the following description of the preferred embodiments, the description of the drawings, and from the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a boat cover support that includes a tripod base.

FIG. 2 is a plan view from the bottom of the tripod base of the support of FIG. 1

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the support of FIG. 1 positioned in the hull of a boat and supporting a boat cover.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the tripod base of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the tripod base of FIG. 1 in an extended position.

FIG. 6 is a side view of the tripod base of FIG. 1 in a partially close folded position.

FIG. 7 is a side view of the tripod base of FIG. 1 in a close folded position.

FIG. 8 is a side view of the support pole cap of the support of FIG. 1.

FIG. 9 is a side view of a support pole cap according to another embodiment.

FIG. 10A is a side view of a support pole cap that includes a fastener according to another embodiment.

FIG. 10B is a side view of the support pole cap of FIG. 10A with the fastener disposed in a second position.

FIG. 11A is a perspective view of the fastener-style support cap of FIG. 10A with the fastener in an open position in a grommet of a cover.

FIG. 11B is a perspective view of the fastener-style support cap of FIG. 11A with the fastener in a closed position in the grommet.

FIG. 12 is a side view of a snap-style support cap snapped to a cover

FIG. 13 is a side view of a venting mechanism attached to a boat cover support.

FIG. 14 is a side view of two boat cover supports positioned in a boat.

FIG. 15 is a side view of the covered boat of FIG. 14.

Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.

GLOSSARY

In reference to the invention, these terms have the meanings set forth below:

The terms “foot” and “feet” are used synonymously with the terms “leg” and “legs” in the provisional application to which this application claims priority.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 1-3 illustrate a boat cover support 100. The boat cover support 100 can be used, for example, to elevate a flexible material boat cover 224 (e.g., at the center of the boat cover, to provide a tent effect, and combinations thereof). The boat cover support 100 includes telescoping support pole 104 and an adjustable tripod base portion 102. The pole 104 includes an outer shaft 104b, an inner shaft 104a, a first end 105, a second end 109, and a twist locking member 112. The inner shaft 104a has a smaller external diameter that the internal diameter of the outer shaft 104b, which allows the inner shaft 104a to slide within the outer shaft 104b. The inner shaft 104a can be extended or contracted from one position to another by sliding the inner shaft 104a relative to the outer shaft 104b. The pole 104 includes an annular groove 174 near the base or second end 109 of the pole 104. The annular groove 174 prevents the inner shaft 104a from exiting the outer shaft 104b at the second end 109.

The length that the inner shaft 104a extends from the outer shaft 104b is modified by extending the inner shaft 104a to a desired position. The inner shaft 104a can be locked in a desired position by twisting the inner shaft 104a in a first direction while maintaining the outer shaft 104b in a fixed position. The twisting action causes the twist locking member 112 to lock the inner shaft 104a in position. The inner shaft 104a can be released from the locked position by twisting the inner shaft 104a in a second direction opposite the first direction. Twisting the inner shaft 104a in the second direction opposite the first direction unlocks the inner shaft 104a and allows the inner shaft 104a to slide freely within the outer shaft 104b.

The telescoping support pole 104 is attached to the tripod base 102. The tripod base 102 stabilizes the telescoping support pole 104. In some embodiments, the tripod base 102 helps to maintain the telescoping support pole 104 in an upright position during a variety of conditions including, e.g., strong winds, large waves, transit upon a boat trailer, and combinations thereof.

The tripod base 102 includes an adjustable tripod with pivoting feet 108a-c. A bottom view of the tripod base 102 illustrates the foot members 108 in a spaced arrangement relative to one another, as shown in FIG. 2. The tripod base 102 includes a stationary collar 164, three feet 108a-c, three pole support members 162a-c, and an adjustable collar 160. The second end 109 of the support pole 104 sits in the stationary collar 164. Each foot 108a-c has a first end 107a-c and a second end 111a-c. The first ends 107a-c of the feet 108a-c are pivotally attached to the stationary collar 164. The feet 108a-c are also attached to the adjustable collar 160 through a pole support member 162a-c. The pole support members 162a-c are pivotally attached to the adjustable collar 160 and the feet 108a-c.

Each foot 108a-c pivots about a pin 172a-c secured to the stationary collar 164. As shown in FIGS. 4-7, the feet 108a-c are capable of pivoting through a range of positions including, e.g., from a fully extended position, to a planar position, to an intermediate partially folded position, to a fully folded position. Each foot 108a-c includes a channel 170a-c that is dimensioned to receive the pole support members 162a-c. As the feet 108a-c of the tripod 102 pivot to a closed, folded position, the pole support members 162a-c pass into the channels 170a-c. In a first position, the three feet 108a-c form a plane and at least a major portion of a surface of each foot 108a-c contacts the surface on which the tripod 102 is positioned, as shown in FIG. 4. In a second position the feet 108a-c extend downward and away from the stationary collar 164 to form a raised tripod (e.g., a pyramid) in which the first ends 174a-c of the feet 108a-c contact the surface on which the tripod rests, as shown in FIG. 5. In a third position the feet 108a-c of the tripod 102 are partially folded up toward the pole 104, as shown in FIG. 6. In a fourth position the feet 108a-c are closed against the pole 104 and the pole support members 162a-c sit in the channels 170a-c of the feet 108a-c, as shown in FIG. 7. The tripod travels through a range of positions and the position is selected by the user to be suitable for use within the chosen environment. The position of the tripod base can be selected depending upon a variety of factors including, e.g., the available space in the area of the boat in which the tripod base is to be positioned, the boat hull, the contour of the boat surface on which the tripod base is to be placed (e.g., concave, convex, flat, inclined and combinations thereof), and combinations thereof.

The foot members 108 can pivot in relation to each other perpendicular to a plane of the support pole 104. The ability of the foot members 108 to lock into various positions in relation to each other allows the tripod base 102 to fit within areas of varying widths and varying dimensions. In some implementations, the foot members 108 are manufactured such that they can be altered including, e.g., shortened (e.g., by cutting) to fit within areas of smaller width or lengthened through the addition of extensions added to the feet.

The adjustable collar 160 slides along the longitudinal extent of the pole as the feet 108a-c move between their various positions. Pushing the adjustable collar 160 along the pole 104 toward the second end 109 of the pole 104 exerts a downward force on the support members 162a-c, which in turn exert a force on the feet 108a-c causing the feet 108a-c to fan out and away from the pole 104 toward an open position. Pulling the adjustable collar 160 along the pole 104 toward the first end 105 of the pole 104 exerts an upward force on the pole support members 162a-c, which in turn exert a force on the feet 108a-c causing the feet 108a-c to retract toward the pole 104 and toward a closed position. The tripod 102 can also be closed by pressing at least one of the feet 108a-c up toward the pole 104 causing all of the feet 108a-c to fold up against the pole 104 toward a closed position.

The adjustable collar 160 can be locked in a fixed position on the pole 104 by a locking mechanism 168, e.g., the end of a screw 176 pressing against the pole 104. Locking the adjustable collar 160 in position prevents the feet 108a-c from moving out of their desired position. The locking mechanism 168 can be tightened and loosened as desired.

The first end 105 of the boat cover support 100 is designed to be positioned against an interior surface of a boat cover 224. The first end 105 of the support 100 preferably includes a relatively smooth finish so as not to damage a cover with which it comes in contact. In one embodiment, the first end 105 includes a cap 106 positioned on top of the first end 105. The cap is positioned over the first end 105 of the telescoping pole 104 and sits on the exterior surface of telescoping pole 104. Alternatively the cap can be configured to be positioned inside of a cylindrical shaft of the telescoping pole 104. The cap 106 can be permanently attached to the first end 105 of the pole 104, or removably attached to the first end 105 of the pole 104. A removable cap enables other cap configurations to be interchangeably attached to the first end of the pole.

The cap 106 can be of a variety of configurations and can include a variety of connection mechanisms, i.e., connectors. As shown in FIG. 8, in one embodiment, a pocket-style support cap 204 is disposed on the first end 105 of the support pole 202. The pocket-style support cap 204, for example, can be inserted within a pocket of the boat cover 224 to stabilize the position of the support pole 202. A pocket in the boat cover can exhibit a variety of shapes, including, e.g., a u-shape, for receiving the first end 105 of the support pole 202.

Alternatively or in addition, the pocket-style support cap 204 can be positioned within the boundaries of a reinforced area of the boat cover 224, e.g., an area of the boat cover that includes reinforcement, e.g., additional layers, a relatively more durable material, or a combination thereof, that functions to prevent or impede wear of and damage to the boat cover.

As shown in FIGS. 9 and 12, a snap-style support cap 206 is disposed on the end of the support pole 202. The snap-style cap 206 includes a cylindrical base portion 214, and a first component 208 (e.g., the male component) of a two component snap mechanism 222. The second component 220 of the snap mechanism (e.g., the female component) is attached to the boat cover 224. Snapping the first component 208 to the second component 220 snaps the pole 202 to the boat cover 224.

As shown in FIGS. 10A, 10B, 11A, and 11B, a fastener-style support cap 210 includes a fastener 212 (e.g., the male component suitable for fastening to a grommet) rotatably mounted on a post 216 extending from a body 217 that includes a cylindrical base portion 218. The fastener 212 is an elongated member. The fastener-style support cap 210 is disposed on the support pole 202. The fastener 212 is configured to pass through the opening in a grommet 226. The fastener-style support cap 210 can be used, for example, to enable the support pole 202 to be tied to the boat cover 224, or to attach the boat cover 224 to the support pole 202 by inserting the fastener 212 positioned in a first position through the opening in the grommet 226 in the boat cover 224, as shown in FIG. 11A, and then rotating the fastener 212 to a second, closed, position so as to secure the boat cover 224 to the pole 202, as shown in FIG. 11B.

FIG. 13 illustrates a vent cap 140 attached to the support pole 230. A vent cap 140 attached to a boat cover allows air to circulate underneath the boat cover 224. The vent mechanism 142 includes a channel 144 for receiving a portion of a boat cover 224. An example of a useful vent mechanism 142 is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,938,631 and incorporated herein. The boat cover 224 includes an opening for receiving the vent mechanism 142. The material of the boat cover 224 is inserted into the channel 144 and the components that form the channel 144 are pinched together to securely attach the boat cover 244 to the vent mechanism, as further described, e.g., in U.S. Pat. No. 6,938,631. The vent mechanism 142 includes openings 146 that enable air from the surrounding environment to pass in to the space under the boat cover 224, air from underneath the boat cover 224 to pass to the surrounding environment, and combinations thereof.

The vent cap 140 is constructed to include a cylindrical tube portion that slides over the tubular end of the support pole 230. A locking mechanism 232 locks the two components of the vent mechanism 142 that secure the boat cover 224 material in the vent cap 140.

The vent mechanism 142 can be permanently attached to the cover 224 or removably attached to the cover 224. The vent cap 140 can be removably attached to the pole 230 or permanently attached to the pole 230.

FIGS. 14 and 15 illustrate the use of a boat cover support 248 that includes two support poles 250b, 250b and a cross member 252 attached to the support poles 250b, 250b such that it extends in a plane perpendicular to a plane of the support poles 250b, 250b. The boat cover support 248 is positioned on the boat 254 and under a boat cover 224 to support the boat cover 224 over the windshield of the boat 254.

Caps of various configurations can be constructed to attach to the support pole through a variety of mechanisms including, e.g., screws, threaded connection, adhesion, friction fitting, tie downs, rope, and combinations thereof.

In other embodiments, the support pole is configured to connect to the boat cover using a variety of connection mechanisms including, e.g., magnetism, adhesion, mechanical connectors including, e.g., hook and loop fasteners (e.g., VELCRO hook and loop fasteners) and male-female connectors, and other connection mechanisms. At least one of the connection mechanism can be attached to or associated with the cap. For a system that employs magnetism, for example, at least one of the cap and the boat cover includes a magnet and the other of the cap and the boat cover includes a metal substrate capable of attracting and being held in position by the magnet. For a system that employs mechanical connectors, for example, at least one of the cap and the boat cover includes a female component of the mechanical connector and the other of the cap and the boat cover includes the male component of the mechanical connector.

The support can be used to support covers on a variety of vehicles including, e.g., boats, trailers, utility vehicles (e.g., CUSHMAN utility vehicles), carts (e.g., golf carts, and golf carts without roofs), campers, and on any structure or vehicle that includes a cover and for which the users desires to create a tenting effect with the cover. Covers can be made from a variety of materials including, e.g., fabric (e.g., woven and nonwoven fabric), plastic sheeting (e.g., polymer and elastomer sheeting), and combinations thereof.

In use the telescoping pole of the boat cover support is extended toward an interior surface of a boat cover that positioned on a boat to render the boat cover taut in a tent-like fashion.

A number of embodiments of the invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, other embodiments are within the scope of the claims. Although the boat cover support has been described as including a twist locking mechanism for locking the inner shaft in position relative to the outer shaft, the inner shaft portion can be locked in place by any device for or method of locking one telescoping member in a fixed position relative to another telescoping member including, e.g., an adjustment member, clamps, screws, adhesive, pins, tension mechanism, male-female mating mechanisms, and combinations thereof.

Likewise, the adjustable collar is illustrated as including a screw for locking the collar in a fixed position. Any suitable mechanism can be used to lock the adjustable collar in a fixed position relative to the pole including, e.g., flanges, screw fasteners.

Although the stationary collar has been described as being in a fixed position, it can be adjustable and can include a locking mechanism associated with it that enables it to be locked in a desired position.

In other embodiments, the tripod base is fixed in position and is not movable or adjustable.





 
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