Title:
Extrusion for boat windshield
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a header for rigidly engaging an upper edge of a boat windshield and supporting a boat canopy. The header comprises an elongated member having a generally uniform transverse cross-section. The cross-section is defined by an upper rail having a convexly curved top surface and a bottom defining first and second respective sides. First and second arms protrude downwardly from the first and second sides of the upper rail. A windshield-engaging channel for receiving the boat windshield is formed between the first and second arms. A first groove is formed within the upper rail and extends inwardly from the first side of the upper rail. To reduce wear and tear on a boat canopy attached to the header, the curvature of the convexly curved top surface increases from the first side to the second side of the upper rail to maximize the load-bearing contact area between the canopy and the header.



Inventors:
Eck, Richard E. (Mount Vernon, IL, US)
Kalhok, David (Marion, IL, US)
Application Number:
09/930284
Publication Date:
02/21/2002
Filing Date:
08/16/2001
Assignee:
Bombardier Motor Corporation of America (Grant, FL)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B17/02; B63B19/02; (IPC1-7): B63B17/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SOTELO, JESUS D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP (McLean, VA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A header for rigidly engaging an upper edge of a boat windshield, the header comprising an elongated member having a generally uniform transverse cross-section defined by: an upper rail having a convexly curved top surface and a bottom defining first and second respective sides; first and second arms protruding downwardly from the first and second sides of the upper rail; a windshield-engaging channel for receiving said boat windshield defined between the first and second arms; and a first groove formed within the upper rail and extending inwardly from the first side of the upper rail.

2. The header claimed in claim 1, wherein the curvature of the convexly curved top surface increases asymmetrically from the first side to the second side of the upper rail.

3. The header claimed in claim 2, further comprising: a second groove positioned generally at a center of the convexly curved top surface of the upper rail and protruding downwardly thereinto, the second groove separating the convexly curved top surface into two sections.

4. The header claimed in claim 2, wherein the top surface is continuously curved and the curvature increases gradually from the first side to the second side.

5. The header claimed in claim 2, further comprising a third groove formed within the upper rail and extending inwardly from the second side of the upper rail.

6. The header claimed in claim 1, further comprising: at least one fastener extending from the first groove to a bottom-most portion of the first arm.

7. A header for rigidly engaging an upper edge of a boat windshield, the header comprising an elongated member having a generally uniform transverse cross-section, said cross-section being defined by: an arm connection portion with a bottom having first and second sides; an upper rail formed on a top side of the arm connection portion, said upper rail having an asymmetrical, convexly-curved top surface; first and second arms protruding downwardly from the first and second sides of the arm connection portion, wherein a windshield-engaging channel for receiving said boat windshield is formed between the first and second arms and below the arm connection portion; and at least one groove formed between the upper rail and the arm connection portion and extending inwardly from the first side of the arm connection portion.

8. The header of claim 7, further comprising: at least one fastener disposed thereon, extending from the groove to a bottom-most portion of the first arm.

Description:

[0001] This application claims the benefit of priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/225,742, which was filed on Aug. 17, 2000.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to boat windshield assemblies, and more particularly to extrusion headers that are adapted to be mounted to the upper extremities of boat windshields and support canopies.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] there are a variety of techniques described in the prior art for providing an extruded metal finishing header across the top of a boat windshield. Such headers frequently include means for attaching a boat canopy or other type of top thereto.

[0004] For example, Lewis (U.S. Pat. No. 3,172,419) discloses a generally rectangular-shaped channel formed on the underside of an aluminum extrusion to fit over the upper extremity of a windshield, the channel being provided on the inner sides to grip the edges of the glass. The extrusion further includes a flexible locking strip for attachment to the boat canopy.

[0005] Zimmer et al. (U.S. Pat. No. 2,937,652) discloses another method of attaching a boat canopy to a top header extrusion. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, extrusion 6 is attached to the upper edge of windshield 12 of boat 2. The canopy 4 over the cockpit of a boat 2 is typically stretched over the top of the extrusion 6 and fastened to some type of fastener 8 (see FIG. 2). The canopy must be pulled tightly in order to prevent it from sagging down into the cockpit of the boat. Because the canopy 4 must be wrapped tightly over the top of the extrusion 6, a point of increased wear 10 is formed at the contact point 10 between the canopy 4 and the extrusion 6. The force of rough waters, wind, and severe weather on the canopy 4 only exacerbate the problem by moving the canopy 4 back and forth over contact point 10. As shown in FIG. 2, where a sharp angle exists on the upper surface of the extrusion, the contact surface is small and the wear and tear is concentrated at the angular point.

[0006] Zirkelbach et al. (U.S. Pat. No. 5,189,980) discloses a header extrusion that relieves the wear and tear on the canopy to some extent by utilizing a semi-circular top surface on the header extrusion to disperse the load of the canopy over a larger area of the extrusion. However, because the canopy is typically held at a generally right angle to the windshield, only about a half of the top surface of the semi-circular rail portion is in contact with the canopy to absorb the load. Consequently, while the load is spread out over a larger surface area, the surface area is still relatively small and the canopy wears significantly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] It is thus an object of the present invention to provide a header extrusion that reduces the wear and tear on an attached canopy.

[0008] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a header extrusion that is strong and resists deformation caused by the force of a canopy on the extrusion and the clamping force of the extrusion against the windshield.

[0009] It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a header extrusion that is light, easy to manufacture, and inexpensive.

[0010] The present invention fulfills the above-identified objects by providing a header for rigidly engaging an upper edge of a boat windshield and supporting a boat canopy. The header comprises an elongated member having a generally uniform transverse cross-section. The cross-section is defined by an upper rail having a convexly curved top surface and a bottom defining first and second respective sides. First and second arms protrude downwardly from the first and second sides of the upper rail. A windshield-engaging channel for receiving the boat windshield is formed between the first and second arms. A first groove is formed within the upper rail and extends inwardly from the first side of the upper rail. To reduce wear and tear on a boat canopy attached to the header, the curvature of the convexly curved top surface increases from the first side to the second side of the upper rail to maximize the load-bearing contact area between the canopy and the header. A second groove positioned generally at a center of the convexly curved top surface of the upper rail and protruding downwardly thereinto may also be added to separate the convexly curved top surface into two sections. Additionally, a third groove formed within the upper rail and extending inwardly from the second side of the upper rail may be added.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] the invention will be described in conjunction with the following drawings in which like reference numerals designate like elements and wherein:

[0012] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional boat having a canopy attached to the windshield top header extrusion;

[0013] FIG. 2 is a side cross-sectional view of the windshield/canopy connection of the boat illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0014] FIG. 3 is a side cross-sectional view of a first embodiment of the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 4 is a side cross-sectional view of a second embodiment of the present invention; and

[0016] FIG. 5 is a side cross-sectional view of a third embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0017] FIG. 3 illustrates header extrusion 20 according to a first embodiment of the present invention. Extrusion 20 forms a top header that is fitted securely onto windshield 12. Because extrusion 20 is an elongated member having a generally uniform transverse cross-section, it will hereinafter be described with respect to its cross-sectional shape.

[0018] Arms 22, 24 extend downwardly from opposite ends of a bottom side of arm connection portion 26 to form channel 32, which is adapted to fit over a top edge of windshield 12. Teeth 28 are formed on the inside surfaces of arms 22, 24 to securely hold onto either the windshield 12 directly, or onto a windshield liner (not shown) that is fitted over the top portion of windshield 12. Stops 30 are formed on the inside surfaces of arms 22, 24 to prevent windshield 12 from being pushed too far into the channel 32 and to assure proper positioning of extrusion 20 on windshield 12.

[0019] Upper rail 34 extends upwardly from the top side of arm connection portion 26. A groove 36 is formed between upper rail 34 and arm connection portion 26 to provide an attachment point for fastener 38. Groove 36 extends inwardly into the extrusion 20, but does not extend so far into the extrusion that it crosses into a plane formed by the inner surface of arm 22. Fastener 38 is securely clipped to the extrusion between the groove 36 and a lower edge of arm 22. Attachment loop 4a of canopy 4 is then attached to protrusion 38a of fastener 38 to firmly connect canopy 4 to the windshield 12 via extrusion 20. While the fastener connecting canopy 4 to extrusion 20 is illustrated as a loop and protrusion, various other types of fasteners known in the art could be substituted therefor. For example, a snap-fit fastener is commonly used in the art.

[0020] Positioning groove 36 between the upper rail 34 and the arm connection portion 26 strengthens the overall extrusion as compared to extrusions that position such a groove within an arm of the extrusion (such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,189,980). To ensure that the extrusion 20 remains tightly attached to the windshield 12, a bending moment is formed between arms 22, 24, which creates a compressive force that tightly holds the extrusion 20 on the windshield 12. Where a groove has been formed in the arm, the bending moment must be transmitted through the portion of the extrusion that creates the groove. This establishes a weak point in the extrusion. By positioning the groove 36 above the arm connection portion, the bending moment is transmitted through the solid arm connection portion 26 rather than through the structure that forms the groove 36. The strength of this construction becomes even more important when one considers the additional bending moment created by the transmission of the tension of the canopy 4 to the windshield through the extrusion 20.

[0021] When connected to the windshield 12, canopy 4 is tightly pulled over top surface 34a of upper rail 34. Top surface 34a forms an asymmetrical curve. The curvature of top surface 34a increases from a relatively small curvature (large radius of curvature) on the side of the extrusion having groove 36 to a large curvature (small radius of curvature) on the side of the extrusion 20 having arm 24. Consequently, canopy 4 remains in contact with extrusion 20 over a large surface area of top surface 34a, which distributes the tensile load born by the canopy 4 evenly over the top surface 34a. The load distribution reduces the wear and tear on the canopy 4 at the contact point because the load at any one point is reduced as compared to the prior art extrusions that provide surface support only over a small area of the top surface of the header.

[0022] FIG. 4 illustrates a header extrusion 50 according to a second embodiment of the present invention, which is similar to the first embodiment except for the below-noted differences. Groove 52 of extrusion 50 of the second embodiment extends farther into the extrusion than groove 36 of extrusion 20 of the first embodiment. Top surface 54a of upper rail 54 of the second embodiment follows the same increasingly curved shape as top surface 34a of the first embodiment, except that groove 54b is added in the middle of the top surface 54a of the second embodiment. Groove 54b extends downwardly into the extrusion and is shallow in comparison to groove 52.

[0023] FIG. 5 illustrates header extrusion 60 according to a third embodiment of the present invention, which is similar to the second embodiment except for the addition of groove 66. Groove 66 is formed between arm connection portion 62 and upper rail 64 of extrusion 60 and extends inwardly from the side of the extrusion 60 opposite groove 52.

[0024] While it is preferred that extrusions 20, 50, 60 be made of aluminum because if aluminum's light weight and resistance to corrosion, those skilled in the art would readily recognize that any suitable material may be substituted therefor without deviating from the scope and spirit of the present invention.

[0025] In addition, as illustrated, upper rails 34, 54, 64 preferably are solid to improve the bendability of extrusions 20, 50, 60. Specifically, before installation on a boat, extrusions 20, 50, 60 are subjected to a bending force, which shapes extrusions 20, 50, 60 to fit a particular window curvature design. If the upper rail portions of the extrusions are hollow, as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,189,980, for example, the extrusions have a tendency to collapse or deform when subjected to a bending force, especially one that results in a tight radius of curvature for the extrusion. According to the present invention, extrusions 20, 50, 60 with solid upper rails 34, 54, 64 may be bent with a much tighter radius of curvature than prior art extrusions. This increases the applicability of extrusions 20, 50, 60 to a much wider variety of boat designs.

[0026] Finally, while each of elements 20, 50, and 60 have been described as extrusions, other manufacturing methods could be employed to construct the present invention.

[0027] It will be understood that various modifications may be made to the above embodiments without departing from the spirit of the present invention, the scope of which is to be limited only by the claims.