Title:
Flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus for reducing slope erosion and water runoff. The flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus includes a tubular casing filled with a specified density of flax fiber and flax stems forming an elongate and flexible structure. The density and porosity of the elongate structure is determined by the amount and length of flax fiber, flax stems and overall density of the same as positioned within the tubular casing. A receiving tube having a receiver opening receives the desired combination of flax fiber and flax straw which is forced through the receiving tube via an auger into the tubular casing. A plurality of gripping members provide a desired degree of frictional engagement of the tubular casing positioned about the receiving tube thereby allowing adjustment of the overall density of the elongate structure.



Inventors:
Hendrickson, Ronald W. (Rock Lake, ND, US)
Application Number:
09/905155
Publication Date:
01/16/2003
Filing Date:
07/12/2001
Assignee:
HENDRICKSON RONALD W.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02B3/04; E02B3/12; (IPC1-7): E01F7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KYLE, MICHAEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael S. Neustel (Fargo, ND, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A flax based fence, comprising: a tubular casing having a first end, a second end and a lumen; a volume of flax stems positioned within said tubular casing; and a volume of flax fiber positioned within said tubular casing.

2. The flax based fence of claim 1, wherein said volume of flax stems and said volume of flax fiber are mixed together.

3. The flax based fence of claim 2, wherein said volume of flax stems and said volume of fiber are formed into a specific density and porosity.

4. The flax based fence of claim 3, wherein said volume of flax stems includes a portion of flax fiber attached to one end of said volume of flax stems.

5. The flax based fence of claim 4, wherein said volume of flax stems have approximately 1 ½ to 3 inches of flax fiber loosened from an end of said flax stems.

6. The flax based fence of claim 5, wherein said volume of flax stems is greater than said volume of flax fiber.

7. A method of manufacturing a flax based fence, comprising the steps of: (a) providing a tubular casing; (b) providing a volume of flax mixture containing flax stems and flax fiber; (c) positioning said volume of flax mixture into said tubular casing at a predetermined density; and (d) enclosing said tubular casing.

8. The method of manufacturing a flax based fence of claim 7, wherein said step (b) includes the step of increasing the volume of said flax stems with respect to said flax fiber to decrease the weight and increase the strength and water flow.

9. The method of manufacturing a flax based fence of claim 7, wherein said step (b) includes the step of decreasing the volume of said flax stems with respect to said flax fiber to increase the weight and filtration and to decrease the water flow.

10. The method of manufacturing a flax based fence of claim 7, wherein said step (b) includes the step of increasing the volume of said flax fiber with respect to said flax stems to increase the weight and decrease water flow.

11. The method of manufacturing a flax based fence of claim 7, wherein said step (b) includes the step of decreasing the volume of said flax fiber with respect to said flax stems to decrease the weight and increase water flow.

12. An apparatus for manufacturing a flax based fence comprised of a tubular casing and a volume of flax mixture, comprising: a receiving tube having an enclosed end and an open end, wherein said tubular casing surrounds said open end for receiving said volume of flax mixture; a receiver opening within said receiving tube for receiving said volume of flax mixture; an auger within said receiving tube for forcing said volume of flax mixture toward said open end; and a friction means for adjustably frictionally engaging a portion of said tubular casing positioned upon said receiving tube for adjusting an overall density of said volume of flax mixture within said tubular casing.

13. The apparatus for manufacturing a flax based fence of claim 12, wherein said friction means is comprised of: a plurality of arms pivotally attached to said receiving tube adjacent said receiver opening, wherein said plurality of arms extend outwardly at an angle from said receiving tube; a plurality of gripping members each attached to a distal end of each of said plurality of arms, wherein said gripping members are formed for frictionally engaging a portion of said tubular casing; and a tension collar positioned about said plurality of arms for adjusting a force of said plurality of gripping members upon said receiving tube and said tubular casing.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to silt fences and more specifically it relates to a flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus for reducing slope or water channel erosion, slowing water runoff, and capturing and containing silt from water runoff.

[0003] Erosion and water flow control is particularly important in areas that do not contain adequate vegetation growth due to wildfires, erosion, road construction, excavation and other events. It is important to immediately reduce and control erosion within bare areas that are exposed without adequate vegetation cover to reduce erosion of fertile topsoil, for capturing sediment and promoting vegetation growth.

[0004] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0005] Silt fences have been in use for years. Typically, a silt fence is comprised of a plurality of stakes supporting a sheet or similar structure thereby forming a permeable barrier to the passage of water. Another type of silt fence utilized is comprised of a plurality of straw bales (typically square bales) placed end to end with stakes driven into the ground through or behind the bales to prevent movement of the bales. Another type of silt fence may be formed utilizing sandbags, bundles of brush wattles or similar structure.

[0006] The main problem with conventional types of silt fences is that they require significant time and labor to install and maintain. Another problem with conventional types of silt fences is that they do not form to the many irregular contours of the land and thereby allow water to rapidly flow beneath the barrier. Another problem with convention types of silt fences is that they often times are not biodegradable and must be removed after a period of time. A further problem with conventional types of silt fences is that they do not allow water to be efficiently “filtered” for removing sediment from the water. Another problem with silt fences is that they are prone to tipping over or becoming torn by the wind.

[0007] A conventional type of silt barrier is comprised of a tubular netting filled with rice straw or wheat straw. These types of silt barriers unfortunately limit for the adjustment of the desired combination of density, porosity and flow rate desired by users to control the water flow. Depending upon whether the usage of the silt barrier (e.g. slope erosion control, excavation, road ditch construction, shoreline erosion control, liquid/sediment containment), there are various degrees of density, porosity, flow rate, and useful service life desired by the user which are difficult to achieve utilizing rice straw and/or wheat straw within a tubular netting structure.

[0008] Examples of patented silt fences which are illustrative of such prior art include U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,053,665; 5,758,868; 5,660,505; and 4,756,511. Examples of patented manufacturing apparatus illustrative of such prior art include U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,519,985 and 5,915,878.

[0009] While these devices may be suitable for the particular purpose to which they address, they are not as suitable for reducing slope erosion and water runoff. Conventional silt fences cannot provide biodegradability and the unique water passage qualities for the length of time of the present invention.

[0010] In these respects, the flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus according to the present invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in so doing provides an apparatus primarily developed for the purpose of reducing erosion and containing silt.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of silt fences now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus construction wherein the same can be utilized for reducing slope erosion and water runoff.

[0012] The general purpose of the present invention, which will be described subsequently in greater detail, is to provide a new flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus that has many of the advantages of the silt fences mentioned heretofore and many novel features that result in a new flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus which is not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or even implied by any of the prior art silt fences, either alone or in any combination thereof.

[0013] The flax plant (Linum Usitatissimum) grows a very strong, lightweight bast fiber around the outside of a stiff and woody type stem. Flax is grown extensively in Europe for the fiber which is utilized within textiles. The outside fiber portion that surrounds the woody stem of the flax plant distinguishes flax from other plant stems often called “straw.” The flax degrades at a slower rate that conventional straw due to the cellular makeup, thereby resisting biological and microbial degradation until ultraviolet rays sufficiently weaken the cross linking bonds. The fine strong fiber and coarse stiff stem of flax are combined to allow for differing ratios of density, porosity and water flow rate.

[0014] To attain this, the present invention generally comprises a tubular casing filled with a specified density of flax fiber and flax stems forming an elongate and flexible structure. The density and porosity of the elongate structure is determined by the ratio of flax fiber to flax stems and overall density of the same as positioned within the tubular casing. A receiving tube having a receiver opening receives the desired combination of flax fiber and flax straw which is forced through the receiving tube via an auger into the tubular casing. A plurality of gripping members provide a desired degree of frictional engagement of the tubular casing positioned about the receiving tube thereby allowing adjustment of the overall density of the elongate structure.

[0015] There has thus been outlined, rather broadly, the more important features of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are additional features of the invention that will be described hereinafter and that will form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto.

[0016] In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of the description and should not be regarded as limiting.

[0017] A primary object of the present invention is to provide a flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus that will overcome the shortcomings of the prior art devices.

[0018] A second object is to provide a flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus for reducing slope erosion and water runoff.

[0019] Another object is to provide a flax based fence that forms to the contours of a slope to breakup the slope length and reduce water runoff velocity.

[0020] An additional object is to provide a flax based fence that facilitates pooling of water runoff thereby allowing settling of sediment and the like.

[0021] A further object is to provide a flax based fence that reduces the labor involved for manufacturing and installing a silt barrier.

[0022] Another object is to provide a flax based fence that are able to be formed to completely surround storm drains, culvert openings and the like.

[0023] A further object is to provide a flax based fence that may be utilized for shoreline erosion control.

[0024] Another object is to provide a flax based fence that allows for the adjustment of the density, porosity and water flow rate.

[0025] A further object is to provide a flax based fence that retains moisture within and underneath for encouraging rapid seed germination.

[0026] Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become obvious to the reader and it is intended that these objects and advantages are within the scope of the present invention.

[0027] To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings, attention being called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only, and that changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated and described within the scope of the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] Various other objects, features and attendant advantages of the present invention will become fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

[0029] FIG. 1 is an upper perspective view of the present invention.

[0030] FIG. 2 is a side view of the present invention.

[0031] FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of the present invention taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

[0032] FIG. 4 is an upper perspective view of the present invention utilized within a slope.

[0033] FIG. 5 is a side cutaway view of the present invention as illustrated in FIG. 4 illustrating the pooling and filtration of water.

[0034] FIG. 6 is a top view of the manufacturing apparatus utilized to form the tubular barrier.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0035] Turning now descriptively to the drawings, in which similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, FIGS. 1 through 6 illustrate a flax based fence and manufacturing apparatus 10, which comprises a tubular casing 30 filled with a specified density of flax fiber and flax stems 20 (hereinafter “flax mixture 20”) forming an elongate and flexible structure. The density and porosity of the elongate structure is determined by the amount of flax fiber 20, flax stems 20 and overall density of the same as positioned within the tubular casing 30. A receiving tube 40 having a receiver opening 42 receives the desired combination of flax fiber and flax straw 20 which is forced through the receiving tube 40 via an auger 44 into the tubular casing 30. A plurality of gripping members 54 provide a desired degree of frictional engagement of the tubular casing 30 positioned about the receiving tube 40 thereby allowing adjustment of the overall density of the elongate structure. The elongate structure may be retained in a desired position utilizing stakes 12 or similar securing devices.

[0036] The flax plant (Linum Usitatissimum) grows a very strong, lightweight bast fiber around the outside of a stiff and woody type stem. Flax is grown extensively in Europe for the flax fiber which is utilized within textiles. The outside fiber portion that surrounds the woody stem of the flax plant distinguishes flax from other plant stems often called “straw.” The flax degrades at a slower rate that conventional straw due to the cellular makeup, thereby resisting biological and microbial degradation until ultraviolet rays sufficiently weaken the cross linking bonds. The fine strong fiber and coarse stiff stem of flax are combined to allow for differing ratios of density, porosity and water flow rate. Flax straw is a byproduct of the harvesting of flax and other conventional processes. The FLAX COUNCIL OF CANADA provides an informative web site regarding the various usages of flax (www.flaxcouncil.ca). There are various varieties of flax as is well-known in the art, any of which are suitable for usage within the present invention.

[0037] The first step in manufacturing the present invention is to provide a volume of flax straw in a bale or similar structure. The bale is then cut or “flailed” to separate the flax straw into a loose accumulation. The flailing process may be performed utilizing various types of machines and tools which are well known in the art. The flailing of the flax straw causes partial separation of the flax fibers and the flax stem 20. The inventor has found it desirable to remove and loosen only 1 ½ to 3 inches of fiber from the flax stem while allowing one end of the flax shaft to retaining the flax fiber and flax stem attached to one another for increasing structural stability. It can be appreciated that the flax fiber loosened from the flax stem may vary in amounts greater than or less than 1 ½ to 3 inches. The greater the amount of flax fiber removed and loosened from the flax stem and the shorter the stem pieces are, the higher the density will be achieved within the elongate structure.

[0038] By combining different rations of the coarse stem portion with the fine fiber along with overall density control within the tubular casing 30, various degrees of density, porosity and water flow rates may be achieved. For example, a higher percentage of the unbroken stiff flax stem reduces the flexibility and weight of the elongate structure while increasing the porosity of the elongate structure. A lower percentage of the unbroken stiff flax stem increases the flexibility and weight of the elongate structure while decreasing the porosity of the elongate structure. A higher percentage of the fine flax fiber increases the flexibility and weight of the elongate structure while decreasing the porosity of the elongate structure. A lower percentage of the fine flax fiber decreases the flexibility and weight of the elongate structure while increasing the porosity of the elongate structure.

[0039] The flax stem portion creates an openness within the elongate structure to increase water flow and for creating room for sediment capture while simultaneously lowering the weight of the elongate structure for easier handling. The fine flax fiber provides for filtration of the silt particles from the runoff water. In addition, the flax fiber (and flax stems) absorbs moisture to support the growth of seeds that have washed into the elongate structure. The flax fibers also increase in strength when wet thereby providing maximum strength when it is needed most.

[0040] The tubular casing 30 may be comprised of various types of flexible materials such as but not limited to mesh, netting, and textiles. The tubular casing 30 may also have various cross sectional shapes such as but not limited to circular, square, rectangular and various other shapes. It can also be appreciated that the tubular casing 30 may have various widths and lengths as are desired by the user. The distal ends of the tubular casing 30 may be enclosed by various conventional securing means and systems as are well known in the art.

[0041] As shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4 of the drawings, the elongate structure is comprised of the volume of flax fiber and flax stems 20 contained within the tubular casing 30. The elongate structure may be positioned within various positions to reduce erosion and promote settling of silt within the runoff water and various other purposes which can be appreciated.

[0042] As shown in FIG. 6 of the drawings, the manufacturing apparatus utilize to construct the elongate structure includes a receiving tube 40 having a receiver opening 42 that receives the desired combination of flax fiber and flax straw 20 which is forced through the receiving tube 40 via an auger 44 into the tubular casing 30. A plurality of gripping members 54 provide a desired degree of frictional engagement of the tubular casing 30 positioned about the receiving tube 40 thereby allowing adjustment of the overall density of the elongate structure.

[0043] More specifically as shown in FIG. 6 of the drawings, the receiving tube 40 is comprised of an elongate tubular structure. The receiving tube 40 includes an auger 44 rotated by a conventional motor 46 along with a receiver opening 42 for receiving the flax fiber and flax stems 20. The tubular casing 30 is positioned about the distal open end of the receiving tube 40 as shown in FIG. 6. A plurality of gripping members 54 frictionally retain the tubular casing 30 upon the receiving tube 40 thereby requiring a specific amount of force from the input flax mixture 20 to remove a length of the tubular casing 30 from thereof. The plurality of gripping members 54 are attached to the distal portions of a corresponding plurality of arms 52 that are pivotally attached to a bracket collar 50 surrounding the distal end of the receiving tube 40. A tension collar 60 surrounds the plurality of arms 52, wherein the arms 52 extend outwardly at an angle from the receiving tube 40. The further along the arms 52 the tension collar 60 is positioned, the greater the amount of force will be created between the gripping members 54 and the receiving tube 40 thereby increasing the overall density of the flax mixture 20 within the tubular casing 30. The closer tension collar 60 is positioned with respect to the bracket collar 50 upon the arms 52, the lesser the amount of force will be created between the gripping members 54 and the receiving tube 40 thereby decreasing the overall density of the flax mixture 20 within the tubular casing 30. The tension collar 60 is retained within the desired position along the arms 52 via conventional adjustable securing means such as a threaded elongate fastener extending from the bracket collar 50 to the tension collar 60 or other well known means.

[0044] As to a further discussion of the manner of usage and operation of the present invention, the same should be apparent from the above description. Accordingly, no further discussion relating to the manner of usage and operation will be provided.

[0045] With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed to be within the expertise of those skilled in the art, and all equivalent structural variations and relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.

[0046] Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.