The present patent application claims the benefits of priority of Canadian Patent Application no. 2,583,524, entitled “Universal Holder System” and filed at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office on Mar. 28, 2007.
The present invention essentially relates to the field of supporting and/or mounting systems which can be mounted on the ground, on surfaces and/or on vehicles. More particularly, though not exclusively, the present invention relates to supporting and/or mounting systems for accessories which can be mounted to motor vehicles.
In the field of yachting and pleasure sailing, the lack of space is often a shortcoming which limits the use of accessories which enhance the comfort of the yachtsmen.
In the market, these accessories destined to be used on recreational vehicles do not generally comprise common and universal installation systems. This is particularly true in the field of yachting. Normally, the installation of these accessories depends on the installation system provided by the manufacturers, when such an installation system exists. However, more often than not, these installation systems cannot be mounted in an efficient and practical manner. Moreover, these systems use a portion of the usable space which is normally very limited. Furthermore, the problem of storing these accessories after their use remains due to the inherent lack of usable space on pleasure boats and yachts.
Hence, yachtsmen are often forced to try to make homemade mounting systems which resemble do-it-yourself projects, making the use of the accessories hazardous when not plainly dangerous. All these drawbacks are caused by the mere fact that no product exists on the market today which provides a convenient solution for the installation and use of accessories on yachts.
Moreover, due to the limited available space on yachts, it is often impossible to use several accessories simultaneously. Consequently, yachtsmen need to choose between the accessories.
There is thus a need for a relatively universal supporting and mounting system which would allow owners of motor vehicles to use, in a simple and safe manner, several accessories simultaneously and which would allow these accessories to remain available without encroaching on the usable space of their vehicles.
The main object of the present invention is to provide a relatively universal supporting and mounting system which can be mounted to a vehicle, at the periphery of a patio or onto any other similar surfaces, and which allows the installation and use of different accessories.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a relatively universal supporting and mounting system which allows the installation and use of accessories without encroaching on the usable space of the vehicle, the patio or the surface.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a relatively universal supporting and mounting system which is modular and which can be adapted in accordance with the characteristics of the accessories which are mounted thereto.
Other and further objects and advantages of the present invention will be obvious upon an understanding of the illustrative embodiments about to be described or will be indicated in the appended claims, and various advantages not referred to herein will occur to one skilled in the art upon employment of the invention in practice.
The present invention essentially comprises a system for supporting accessories wherein the elements on which the accessories are mounted extend outside the usable space of the vehicle or of the surface on which the system is installed.
The supporting system of the present invention generally comprises three elements: an anchoring base, a column and one or more generally L-shaped supporting arms. The elements of the supporting system are preferably made from high quality material such as aluminum, stainless steel and/or other suitable alloys that are able to resist to corrosion. Preferably, the anchoring base and the supporting arm are made from aluminum while the column is preferably made from stainless steel having a polished finish. Nevertheless, other materials and alloys may be used. In addition, the anchoring base and the supporting arm may be painted with catalyzed-urethane-based coating.
Essentially, the anchoring base comprises a fastening portion and a supporting portion for receiving the column.
The fastening portion of the anchoring base is generally secured to the rear platform of a boat or to any other suitable location allowing the use of the accessory installed on the supporting system without being in the way of the movement of the users. The anchoring base is generally secured with bolts and nuts passing through the platform, and preferably has a reinforcing plate located under the platform to provide a strong assembly. However, other fastening systems could be used depending of the location of the supporting system.
According to one aspect of the invention, the portion of the anchoring base receiving the column extends outside the usable space of the vehicle or of the location where the supporting system is installed. This way, the supporting system does not encroach on the usable space that is generally limited. The portion of the base receiving the column has an opening having a diameter which is similar to the diameter of the column. Also, this portion of the base comprises a clamping mechanism to retain the column.
According to another aspect of the invention and as mentioned previously, the supporting system comprises one or more L-shaped supporting arms on which the accessories can be installed.
The supporting arms are installed on the column with their extremities having a clamping ring configuration. These arms support the accessories. The shape of the supporting arms, elbowed or L-shaped, allows the accessories to be installed outside the passageway. Preferably, each supporting arm comprises a central opening in which any type of anchoring systems can be used with bolts and nuts, and to which a platform acting as a receptacle for the accessories can be mounted. Since each extremity of the supporting arm is configured as a clamping ring, each extremity may be used to install a supporting arm. Moreover, the design of the supporting arm allows two supporting arms to be installed on a same column, one supporting arm being upside down such as to have both of them in the same plane. This allows the installation of more voluminous and/or heavier accessories.
Almost any accessory may be installed on the supporting system of the present invention. For example, a barbecue, a generator, bicycles, diving oxygen tanks, storage containers, shelves, guard rails, microwave, auxiliary outboard motor, etc.
The universal supporting system is adapted to receive a plurality of accessories of any kind in order to maximize the available usable space and to facilitate the use of the previously mentioned accessories.
The features of the present invention which are believed to be novel are set forth with particularity in the appended claims.
The above and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will become more readily apparent from the following description, reference being made to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side view of the anchoring base with the mounting system for a platform;
FIG. 2 is a front view of the anchoring base;
FIG. 3 is a top view of the anchoring base;
FIG. 4 is a top view of the reinforcing plate;
FIG. 5 is a side view of the column;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the column;
FIG. 7 is a top view of the supporting arm;
FIG. 8 is a side view of the supporting arm;
FIG. 8A is side view of two opposed supporting arms installed on a column;
FIG. 9 is a front view of the supporting arm;
FIG. 10 is a rear view of the supporting arm;
FIG. 11 is a side view of an embodiment in accordance with the invention comprising the anchoring base, the column and two supporting arms;
FIG. 12 is a side view of an exemplary assembly for a barbecue;
FIG. 12A is a bottom view of the exemplary assembly of FIG. 12;
FIG. 13 is a side view of an exemplary assembly for two diving oxygen tanks;
FIG. 14 is a side view of an exemplary assembly for a generator;
FIG. 15 is a side view of an exemplary assembly for a refrigerator;
FIG. 16 is a top view of an exemplary assembly for a guard rail;
FIG. 16A is a front view of the exemplary assembly of FIG. 16;
FIG. 17 is a top view of an exemplary assembly for shelves and cup holders;
FIG. 17A is a side view of the exemplary assembly of FIG. 17;
FIG. 17B are top and side views of the cup holder of FIGS. 17 and 17A;
FIG. 18 is a side view of an exemplary assembly for a bicycle rack showing the details of the fastening system;
FIG. 18A is a top view of the exemplary assembly of FIG. 18;
FIG. 18B is a side view of the exemplary assembly of FIG. 18 with a bicycle mounted thereto;
FIG. 19 is a top view of an exemplary assembly for a storage container;
FIG. 19A is a front view of the exemplary assembly of FIG. 19;
FIG. 20 is a side view of an exemplary assembly for an auxiliary outboard motor.
A novel universal supporting system will be described hereinafter. Although the invention is described in terms of specific illustrative embodiments, it is to be understood that the embodiments described herein are by way of example only and that the scope of the invention is not intended to be limited thereby.
As shown in FIG. 11, the supporting system 10 of the present invention generally comprises three elements: an anchoring base 100, a column 200 and at least one supporting arm 300.
The Anchoring Base:
Referring first to FIGS. 1 to 4 and to FIG. 11, it is possible to see that in one of the preferred embodiments, the anchoring base 100 is installed to the rear of a boat 20, more particularly to the loading platform 23 located generally at the rear of the boat 20, near the cockpit.
Essentially, the anchoring base 100 comprises a fastening portion 120 adapted to be secured to the platform 23; and a supporting portion 140 adapted to receive the column 200.
The anchoring base 100 may be more or less permanently secured to the structure of the nautical vehicle using the fastening portion 120. More particularly, the anchoring base 100 is secured to the platform 23 using bolts 130, washer 132, nuts 134 and a reinforcing plate 170. As shown in more details in FIG. 1, the fastening portion 120 of the anchoring base 100 is mounted to the platform 23 with bolts 130 passing through the fastening portion 120 via openings 122, through the platform 23, and through the reinforcing plate 170 via openings 172. Understandably, the openings 122 and 172 are aligned.
To prevent injuries, is it preferable to countersink the openings 122 of the anchoring base 100 so that the heads of the bolts are flush with or under the surface of the anchoring base 100 when installed.
As mentioned previously, the supporting portion 140 receives and supports the column 200. The supporting portion 140 is generally configured to operate as a clamping ring. Hence, the supporting portion 140 comprises a circular opening 142 in which the column 200 can be slid. The supporting portion 140 also comprises a clamping portion 144 that is adjusted by the screw 148 and the opening 146. The screw 148 may be of the Allen type but it is to be understood that other types of screw may be used.
As for the openings 122, the opening 146 may be countersunk so that the head of the screw 148 is flush with or under the surface of the anchoring base 100 when the column 200 is installed. In addition, the anchoring base 100 preferably does not comprise any sharp edges such as to prevent injuries to the users of the boat who are usually barefoot in their boat.
The anchoring base 100 is preferably made from a material that is strong and resistant to corrosion, such as aluminum or stainless steel. However, it is to be understood that other material having similar and/or adequate properties may be used.
The location of the anchoring base 100 on the platform 23 will depend on the needs of the user and on the general configuration of the vehicle. The anchoring base 100 will generally be cantilevered such as to provide more space. Moreover, since the supporting portion 140 extends away from the platform 23, and thus not in the usable space, the usable space available on the platform 23 will be maximized and the accessories mounted to the supporting system 10 will have more room.
Referring now to FIGS. 5, 6 and 11, the column 200 of the supporting system 10 is illustrated. In order to provide a strong supporting system 10, the column 200 is preferably made from polished stainless steel. In the example shown in the drawings, the column 200 is hollow and has a cylindrical shape having a diameter of approximatively five centimetres (two inches). The thickness of the wall 202 is approximatively of 2.4 millimetres ( 3/32 inch). However, these dimensions could vary if another material is used, or if the particular use of the supporting system 10 dictates another configuration.
The top of the column 200 is generally covered by a decorative cap 240 made from plastic or any other suitable material. The cap 240 is generally press-fitted on the column 200 and its top is generally convex or domed.
A safety pin 220 is preferably inserted through the top of the column 200 to prevent the column 200 to slide into the water through the opening 142 of the anchoring base 100 when the clamping portion 144 of the anchoring base 100 is loosened.
The Supporting Arm:
Referring now to FIGS. 7 to 11, the supporting arm 300 of the supporting system 10 is illustrated.
According to the present invention, the supporting arm 300 is generally L-shaped and therefore comprises a long portion 310 and a short portion 330 that are connected through a rounded elbowed portion 350.
The support arm 300 comprises, at the respective extremities 312 and 332 of the long portion 310 and the short portion 330, openings 314 and 334 for engagement with the column 200. These openings 314 and 334, having appropriate dimensions, comprise slits 316 and 336 and openings 318 and 338 adapted to respectively receive lateral tightening screws 320 and 340 allowing the supporting arm 300 to be mounted in any desired orientation and/or at any desired height. The openings 318 and 338 are preferably countersunk so that the screws 320 and 340 are flush with or beneath the lateral surface of the supporting arm 300 when screwed in place.
As shown in FIG. 7, the long portion 310 of the supporting arm 300 comprises a longitudinal opening 325 which is preferably centrally positioned. Bolts may be inserted into the longitudinal opening 325 to secure a supporting plate 400 (see FIG. 14) or to directly secure an accessory. The opening 325 is generally long enough to allow different spacing between the bolts and to allow a plurality of possible locations for mounting accessories along the length of the supporting arm 300.
Referring now to FIGS. 7, 8 and 8A, the short portion 330 of the supporting arm 300 comprises a shoulder 360 located between the opening 334 and the elbow 350. Depending on which side the supporting arm 300 is installed on the column 200, the shoulder 360 lowers or raises the long portion 310 with respect to the short portion 330 which is typically mounted to the column 200. With this configuration, it is possible to install two supporting arm 300, one above the other, one being upside down, such that the pair of supporting arms 300 and their longitudinal openings 325 are in the same plane. This, in turn, allows the installation of a larger shelf or mechanical support to support more voluminous accessories (see FIG. 8A).
When the lateral tightening screws 320 and 340 are loosened, the supporting arm 300 is free to completely rotate about the column 200 and is free to slide up and down along the column 200. The position of the accessories is thus easily modified according to the needs of the users.
The supporting arm 300 is preferably made from aluminum or from other suitable materials. Preferably, the supporting arm 300 is painted with catalyzed-urethane-based product.
FIG. 11 shows the embodiment comprising the anchoring base 100, the column 200 and two supporting arms 300 (one being parallel to the rear of the platform 23 and the other being perpendicular to the rear of the platform 23), the embodiment being installed on the rear platform 23 of a pleasure boat 20 of the “Sportyacht” type.
Exemplary Installation for a Barbecue
FIGS. 12 and 12A show a typical installation for a barbecue 410. The barbecue 410 is mounted to the supporting arm 300 through a rotative member 412. The rotative member 412 is connected to the supporting arm 300 through the longitudinal opening 325. The rotative member 412 may be locked using a locking screw having a handle 414. Hence, due to the mobility of the supporting arm 300 with respect to the column 200 and due to the rotatability of the barbecue 410, the user will be able to orient the barbecue according to its needs. FIG. 12A shows a bottom view of the supporting arm 300 and of the barbecue 410, showing in more details the locking screw and its handle 414.
Exemplary Installation for Diving Oxygen Tanks
FIG. 13 shows an example of an installation for diving oxygen tanks 420. This installation needs two supporting arms 300, one installed near the anchoring base 100 and the other installed near the top of the column 200. The diving tanks 420 are installed into holding members 422 and 424 configured therefor. Each of the holding members 422 and 424 has a distinct shape. The bottom holding member 424 has a cylindrical shape to receive the bottom of the tank 420 and the top holding member 422 has a bell shape adapted to receive the top of the tank 420, the top of the tank being generally provided with a valve and a manometer. The bottom holding members 424 rest on the upper surface of the lower supporting arm 300 and are secured thereto with bolt extending through the longitudinal opening 325. As for the top holding members 422, they are secured to the under surface of the upper supporting arm 300 by bolts extending through the longitudinal opening 325. The diving tanks 420 are installed into their respective bottom holding members 424 while the upper supporting arm 300 is lifted. The diving tanks 420 are then maintained in their position by lowering the upper supporting arm 300 provided with the top holding members 422 such that the diving tanks are held between the holding members 422 and 424.
Exemplary Installation for a Portable Generator
FIG. 14 shows an exemplary installation for a portable generator 430. The generator 430 is installed and secured on a supporting plate 400 preferably made from aluminum or acrylic. The supporting plate 400 is mounted to anchoring points such as the legs of the generator 430, thereby keeping the anti-vibration cushions, or directly to the structure of the generator 430, depending on the generator's type. The supporting plate 400 is bolted to a supporting arm 300 which is preferably secured near the anchoring base 100. Depending on the dimensions and the weight of the generator 430, two supporting arms 300 may be installed parallel to each other as shown in FIG. 8A. In this case, because of its size, the supporting plate 400 will be cantilevered from both supporting arms 300. Both supporting arms 300 would preferably be installed near the anchoring base 100.
Exemplary Installation for a Portable Refrigerator
FIG. 15 shows an example of an installation for a portable refrigerator 440, for example a cooler or a mini-bar. As for the generator 430, the refrigerator 440 is installed and secured on a supporting plate 400 preferably made from aluminum or acrylic. The supporting plate 400 is mounted to anchoring points such as the legs of the refrigerator 440, or directly to the structure of the refrigerator 440, depending on the refrigerator's type. Depending of the dimensions and weight of the refrigerator 440, the supporting plate 400 may be bolted to one or more supporting arms 300 (see FIG. 8A) which is or are preferably secured near the anchoring base 100.
Exemplary Installation for a Guard Rail
FIGS. 16 and 16A show an installation for a guard rail 450. This configuration needs the installation of two anchoring bases 100, two columns 200, four supporting arms 300 and fastening accessories for the guard rail 450.
The anchoring bases 100 are preferably installed at the extremities of the platform 23 of the boat 20. On each column 200, there are two supporting arms 300, one installed at the bottom of the column 200 and the other at the top of the column 200. The supporting arms 300 are connected by a frame comprising two members 452 that are connected by two rods 454. Lateral holding nets 456, which are preferably made from Nylon™, are installed between each pair of supporting arm 300 and are secured thereto with Velcro™ straps. Similarly, the central holding net 456 is installed between rods 454 and maintained in place with Velcro™ straps.
Exemplary Installation for Shelves and Cup Holder
FIGS. 17, 17A and 17B show the installation of shelves 460 and of cup holders 462. These may be used independently or with the barbecue 410 or other accessories.
The shelves 460 are preferably petal-shaped so that they may be extended or retracted according to the needs of the users. In their narrowest portion, the shelves 460 comprise an opening on which is mounted a Nylon™ thrust ring allowing the shelves 460 to be mounted directly to the column 200, generally above a supporting arm 300. The shelves 460 may also comprise an adaptor 461 installed at the extremity connected to the supporting arm 300. The adaptor 461 comprises a flange on which rests the lower shelf 460. The adaptor 461 is then half-inserted into the opening 314 of the supporting arm 300 and is secured into the desired position by screwing the clamping screw 320 of the supporting arm 300. Another shelf 460 may then be installed on the top portion of the adaptor 461. This allows the shelves 460 to freely rotate.
Another shelf 462, comprising cups 463, allows recipients such as glasses, bottles or cans, to be received therein.
Many configurations may be obtained by joining in different ways the cup holders and the shelves, according to the needs of the users.
Exemplary Installation for a Bicycle Rack
FIGS. 18, 18A and 18B show the installation of a supporting system 10 with a bicycle rack 470.
The supporting arm 300, secured near the top portion of the column 200, acts as a receiving member for the cradle 472 adapted to receive bicycles 471. The cradle 472 is secured with bolts passing through the longitudinal opening 325 of the supporting arm 300. The internal portion of the cradle 472 is preferably covered with a rubbery material to protect the frame of the bicycles 471. When the bicycle 471 is installed into the internal portion of the cradle 472, a collar 474 is installed over the cradle 472 and the frame of the bicycle 471. The internal portion of the collar 474 is also preferably covered with a rubbery material. The collar 474 is tightened and secured by two threaded knobs 475 in order to hold the frame of the bicycle 471 and to keep it in place.
Since the supporting arm 300 is able to rotate about the column 200, the bicycles 471 may be deployed away from the usable space of the platform 23.
Exemplary Installation for a Storage Container
FIGS. 19 and 19A show the installation for a storage container 480 made from fiberglass.
The installation generally comprises two anchoring bases 100, two columns 200 and two supporting arms 300. The supporting arms 300 should be installed in the lower portion of the columns 200, as near as possible to the anchoring bases 100. Indeed, the heavier the storage container 480, the more important it is to mount the supporting arms 300 near the anchoring bases 100 to minimize the leverage effect. The storage container 480 is secured with bolts passing through a reinforcing plate, incorporated to the storage container 480, and through the bottom of the container 480, and engaging the longitudinal openings 325 of the supporting arms 300. Because the supporting arms 300 are deployed outside the usable space, the storage container 480 becomes located behind the platform 23, thereby freeing the access and the usable space thereof.
Exemplary Installation for an Auxiliary Outboard Motor
Many pleasure boats are provided with a single inboard motor. When, a breakdown happens, the users are helpless or have to call the coast guard or a good Samaritan to help them to stop drifting further away. The supporting system 10 of the present invention allows the use of a small outboard motor 490. For this installation, the supporting arm 300 is installed near the anchoring base 100, and a plywood board 492, of same type as those used for motorized canoe, is installed on the upper surface of the supporting arm 300 and secured thereto using bolts passing through the longitudinal opening 325 of the supporting arm 300. The board 492 acts as a support for the outboard motor 490, the latter being secured to the board 492 with its clamps as on a motorized canoe.
While illustrative and presently preferred embodiments of the invention have been described in detail hereinabove, it is to be understood that the inventive concepts may be otherwise variously embodied and employed and that the appended claims are intended to be construed to include such variations except insofar as limited by the prior art.