Title:
Tolerant mounting apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A plate (12) is mounted to a wall, ceiling, door or window frame, and supports an object (O). Spaced openings (14) are formed in the plate. The diameter (d) of the holes is sufficiently large that a drill bit fits through the opening for a screw hole (H) to be drilled in the wall, ceiling, or frame. A flange (20) formed on the face (22) of the plate abutting the mounting surface extends about the opening, into the opening, to provide a shoulder supporting a slotted washer (16). A slot (18) in the washer extends across the washer and has a length (l) corresponding to the diameter of the opening formed by the shoulder. A washer is placed in each opening and rotated until the respective screw holes are exposed by the slot. Now, when screws or other fasteners are inserted into the holes through the slots, the object is properly oriented or aligned, regardless of screw hole locations.



Inventors:
Vogt, William R. (Rockaway, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/251933
Publication Date:
03/25/2004
Filing Date:
09/20/2002
Assignee:
VOGT WILLIAM R.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G1/16; F16B5/02; (IPC1-7): A47G1/16
View Patent Images:
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20080315611VIBRATION DAMPENER FOR SUPPORT BRACES IN VEHICLESDecember, 2008Durocher
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Primary Examiner:
STERLING, AMY JO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, PC (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:

Having thus described the invention, what is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:



1. Apparatus for mounting an object to a surface with the object properly aligned to a reference without having to accurately locate a mounting hole for mounting the object, comprising: at least one opening formed in the object to be mounted, the size of the opening being at least two times the size of a portion of a mounting fastener extending through the opening to mount the object, the bottom of said opening having a shoulder extending at least partially thereabout to support a washer inserted into the opening, the washer being sized to fit in the opening and being rotatable within the opening, a slot formed in the washer which, when the washer is rotated, will expose the mounting hole if the mounting hole is located anywhere within an area defined by the shoulder, the slot being sized to allow a portion of the mounting fastener to pass through the slot in the washer into the mounting hole to effect mounting of the object to the surface.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 in which the fastener is premounted, and the object may be mounted at any location about the fastener, restricted only by the size of the opening.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 in which the fastener is a threaded fastener.

4. Apparatus for mounting an object to a surface so the object is properly aligned when installed in place, comprising: a mounting bracket in which at least two openings are formed, the size of the openings being sufficiently large for a tool to be inserted into each opening to start a hole for a fastener used to mount the object to the surface; and, a slotted washer sized to fit at least partially into each opening and rotatable about the opening until the hole is exposed by the slot, a fastener then being fitted in place through the slot to attach the bracket to the surface with the slotted washers allowing the object to be aligned even though the fasteners do not align whereby inaccuracy in placement of the fasteners is tolerated without effecting the alignment of the completed installation.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 in which the bracket is integrally formed with the object.

6. The apparatus of claim 4 in which the openings are formed on opposite sides of the bracket.

7. The apparatus of claim 4 in which the openings are formed side-by-side.

8. The apparatus of claim 4 in which the slot extends diametrically across the washer.

9. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein a face of the bracket abutting the surface includes a circumferential flange extending into each opening and forming a shoulder against which the washer seats when fitted into an opening.

10. The apparatus of claim 9 in which the length of the slot at least corresponds to the radius of the opening formed by the shoulder.

11. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein a face of the bracket abutting the surface includes a pair of opposed tabs extending into each opening and forming a seat against which the washer bears when fitted into an opening.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 in which the length of the slot at least corresponds to the radius of the opening formed by the tabs.

13. The apparatus of claim 9 in which the washer is a stepped washer having a first segment and a second segment, the diameter of the first segment corresponding to the diameter of the opening in which the washer is fitted and the diameter of the second segment corresponding to the diameter of the opening formed by the shoulder, the slot extending through both segments of the washer with the length thereof corresponding to the radius of the second segment.

14. The apparatus of claim 9 in which the washer is wedge shaped and has a beveled sidewall.

15. The apparatus of claim 4 in which the mounting bracket comprises at least two spaced apart brackets in each of which an opening is formed, a slotted washer being sized to fit in each of the openings and rotatable about the opening until the hole for the fastener is exposed by the slot, the fastener then being fitted in place through the slot to attach the respective bracket to the surface with the object being aligned even though the fasteners are not for inaccuracy in placement of the fasteners to be tolerated without effecting the alignment of the completed installation.

16. The apparatus of claim 4 in which the surfaces of the washer are non-smooth.

17. The apparatus of claim 4 in which the washer is a stepped washer having a first segment and a second segment, the diameter of the first segment being larger than the diameter of the opening in which the washer is fitted and the diameter of the second segment corresponding to the diameter of the opening, the slot extending through both segments of the washer with the length thereof corresponding to at least the radius of the second segment.

18. Tolerant mounting apparatus for mounting an object to a surface with the object being properly aligned when installed in place, comprising: said object having at least one opening formed therein and sized for insertion of a tool into said opening to start a hole for a fastener used to mount the object to the surface; a slotted washer sized to fit at least partially in said opening and rotatable about the opening until the hole is exposed by the slot, a fastener then being fitted in place through the slot in the washer to attach the object to the surface with the slotted washer allowing the object to be aligned even though the fastener does not align whereby inaccuracy in placement of the fastener is tolerated without effecting the alignment of the completed installation.

19. The apparatus of 18 in which a circumferential flange extends into said opening and forms a shoulder against which the washer seats when fitted into the opening, the length of the slot corresponding to the diameter of the opening formed by the shoulder.

20. The apparatus of claim 19 in which the length of the slot corresponds to the radius of the opening formed by the shoulder.

21. The apparatus of claim 18 in which the washer is a stepped washer having a first segment and a second segment, the diameter of the first segment corresponding to the diameter of the opening in which the washer is fitted and the diameter of the second segment corresponding to the diameter of the opening formed by the shoulder, the slot extending through both segments of the washer with the length thereof corresponding to the diameter of the second segment.

22. The apparatus of claim 18 in which a head of the fastener bears against an outer face of the washer when the fastener is installed, and said outer face of the washer is a roughened surface which helps maintain the fastener in its hole.

23. The apparatus of claim 18 in which the washer is a stepped washer having a first segment and a second segment, the diameter of the first segment being larger than the diameter of the opening in which the washer is fitted and the diameter of the second segment corresponding to the diameter of the opening, the slot extending through both segments of the washer with the length thereof corresponding to at least the radius of the second segment.

24. Tolerant mounting apparatus for mounting an object to a surface with the object being properly aligned when installed in place, comprising: said object having at least one opening formed therein and sized for insertion of a tool into said opening to start a hole for a fastener used to mount the object to the surface; a slotted, stepped washer having a first segment and a second segment, the diameter of the first segment being larger than the diameter of said opening and the diameter of the second segment corresponding to the diameter of the opening in which the washer is fitted; and, the second segment being inserted into said opening and rotated about the opening until the hole is exposed by the slot, a fastener then being fitted in place through the slot in the washer to attach the object to the surface with the slotted washer allowing the object to be aligned even though the fastener does not align whereby inaccuracy in placement of the fastener is tolerated without effecting the alignment of the completed installation.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] None

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] N/A

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] This invention relates to apparatus for mounting a plate, support, or similar structure to a surface such as a wall, door or window frame, etc., and more particularly, to apparatus which enables the mounted object to be precisely aligned so, for example, to hang straight.

[0004] The most common problem in trying to mount something (for example, a picture, thermostat, sensor) to any surface such as a wall, a ceiling, or a frame is to properly locate the holes for the screws or other mounting fasteners. Sometimes a template is provided with the object to be mounted, the template showing the installer precisely where a screw hole is to be drilled, or nail driven into the mounting surface. Other times, directions are given which indicate the spacing between the location of the fasteners.

[0005] Regardless of how well the template is used, or instructions followed, the installer has to precisely drill the holes, or start the nails. Drill bits tend to “walk” when someone tries to start a hole, even when a drill guide is used. Often, the tip of the nail moves slightly off the mark when the nail head is struck with a hammer because of a hard spot in the wood. Or, the drill hole or nail hole turns out to be too close to a previous hole and has to be moved. The result is that the actual location of the fastener is usually slightly off where it is intended to be. Most often, the allowance for these “unexpected” errors is on the order of: center ±0.020″. Anyone who has ever hung a picture or other object, or installed a ceiling fan or the like, knows how difficult it is to attain this degree of accuracy. The result is that instead of a neat, level installation, the object is askew, or off-center of its intended location.

[0006] An example of this problem is shown in FIG. 1A. Here, a plate P1 has two spaced holes L formed in it for attaching the plate to a surface using fasteners F. The fasteners can be screws as shown, or nails or bolts or the like. Typically, the size of a hole L is the same as the shank or shaft portion of the fastener inserted through it. If the tool used to start the hole in the surface to which the plate is to be mounted starts the hole slightly off the precise location where it needs to be, there is not enough tolerance to insert the fastener through the hole without having to shift the plate. Rather, only one fastener can be inserted in one of the holes since the other hole in the plate does not line up with it. The second hole must now be elongated until the second hole is visible, or an additional hole must be drilled in either the plate, or the surface, or both. This results in the plate not being properly aligned, as well as the extra effort necessary to complete the attachment.

[0007] Various attempts have been previously made to correct this problem. In FIGS. 1B-1D, different plate P constructions are shown in which slots S are formed. In FIG. 1B, a plate P2 has two diagonal slots S1, S2, the slots extending in opposite directions. In FIG. 1C, a plate S3 has a vertical slot S3 and a horizontal slot S4. In FIG. 1D, has an arcuate slot S5 extending between the top and bottom of the plate, and a horizontal slot S6. While these constructions can accommodate some variations in hole locations, the range is, in each instance, limited and none of the attempts insure that the plate can be mounted exactly as desired.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The apparatus of the present invention comprises a plate or bracket mounted to a wall, ceiling, or door or window frame to mount an object in place. The plate or bracket can be integrally formed with the object to be installed, or a separate piece. A pair of spaced openings is formed in the plate, either on opposite sides of the plate, or at adjacent corners of the plate. The diameter of the holes is sufficiently large that a drill bit or the like readily fits through the opening for a screw hole to be drilled in the wall, ceiling, or frame. A flange formed on the face of the plate abutting the mounting surface extends peripherally of the opening and into the opening to support a slotted washer sized to fit in the well. The washer slot extends diametrically across the washer and has a length corresponding to the diameter of the opening formed by the flange. Washers placed in each opening are rotated until the drilled screw holes are exposed by the respective slots. Now, when the screws are inserted through the slots and into the screw holes, the assembly is properly oriented or aligned, regardless of the screw hole locations. This greatly speeds up the installation procedure and makes it easier for ordinary people to install an object in place in a desired alignment.

[0009] One application of the present invention is to modify an existing plastic enclosure, such as a keyboard for an alarm system, to be mounted to a wall. Normally, a ⅛″ diameter hole is provided in each side of a plastic backplate used for mounting. To implement the tolerant mounting concept of the present invention, each ⅛″ hole is replaced with a ⅝″ counterbore with a ½″ diameter through hole. Now, instead of having to drill precisely within the ⅛″ hole with a drill only a few thousandths of an inch smaller than the hole, the apparatus of the present invention provides a ½″ diameter circle instead of the ⅛″ diameter circle for the same size drill. There is little or no increase in cost to the manufacturer, since the plastic saved from creating the counterbore can be used to make the slotted washer.

[0010] Other objects and features will be in part apparent, and in part pointed out hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] The objects of the invention are achieved as set forth in the illustrative embodiments shown in the drawings which form a part of the specification.

[0012] FIG. 1A illustrates a prior art arrangement for mounting an object to a surface;

[0013] FIGS. 1B-1D illustrate prior art attempts to correct for misalignment of holes drilled in a surface to which an object is to be mounted;

[0014] FIGS. 2A-2C illustrates use of the apparatus to install an object in a preferred alignment regardless of the location of holes for fasteners;

[0015] FIGS. 3A-3C illustrate different configurations of plates or brackets comprising a portion of the apparatus of the present invention;

[0016] FIGS. 4A-4F are respective plan and elevation views of various slotted washers comprising a portion of the apparatus;

[0017] FIG. 5 illustrates an alternate embodiment of the invention employing two mounting devices;

[0018] FIG. 6 illustrates another embodiment of the invention for use in hanging panels or similar objects;

[0019] FIG. 7 illustrates a stepped washer which can be used with the apparatus;

[0020] FIG. 8 illustrates a bevel sided or wedge shaped washer which can be used with the apparatus;

[0021] FIGS. 9A-9F are sectional views of a plate illustrating placement of the respective washers;

[0022] FIGS. 10A-10C are respective side, bottom, and side views of an alternate washer construction in which the sidewalls of the washer are non-smooth surfaces; and,

[0023] FIGS. 11A and 11B are plan and elevation views of an attachment plate and FIGS. 11C and 11D are plan and elevation views of a mounting plate used to mount an object to a surface.

[0024] Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF INVENTION

[0025] The following detailed description illustrates the invention by way of example and not by way of limitation. This description will clearly enable one skilled in the art to make and use the invention, and describes several embodiments, adaptations, variations, alternatives and uses of the invention, including what I presently believe is the best mode of carrying out the invention. As various changes could be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

[0026] A tolerant mounting apparatus of the present invention is indicated generally 10 in the drawings. See FIGS. 2A-2C. The apparatus is used to mount an object O to a surface S. Many such objects such as pictures, sensors, etc. need to be properly aligned when so mounted, even though it is often difficult to properly align fasteners (not shown) by which the object is installed in place. In accordance with the present invention, apparatus 10 provides a tolerance by which the object is properly aligned when installed, even though the fasteners are not aligned.

[0027] Referring to FIGS. 3A-3C, apparatus 10 first includes a mounting plate or bracket 12. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the bracket or plate may be integrally formed with object O, or the plate or bracket may be a separate piece used to support the object. Three representative configurations are shown in FIGS. 3A-3C. In FIG. 3A, a plate 12A is a rectangular plate with two circular openings 14a, 14b formed therein. The openings are formed in the plate opposite each other. In FIG. 3B, a plate 12B is also a rectangular plate with two circular openings 14c, 14d formed at adjacent corners of the plate. In FIG. 3C, a circular plate 12c has diametrically opposed circular openings 14e, 14f formed in it. Those skilled in the art will understand that the constructions shown in the drawings are representative only, and that other plate or bracket constructions are possible without departing from the scope of the invention. In FIGS. 2A-2C, for example, the openings 14 are shown to be side-by-side. Also, while one or two openings 14 are usually sufficient to mount an object in a desired orientation or alignment, more openings 14 could be employed for this purpose.

[0028] Regardless of the plate or bracket shape, each opening 14a-14f is sized for insertion of a tool (not shown) into each opening to start a hole H for the fastener used to mount plate 12 to surface S. As shown in the drawings, the openings 14 are circular openings. Both openings have the same diameter d. Preferably, this diameter is a minimum of twice that of the shaft or shank portion of the fastener inserted through opening 14 to attach plate 12 to surface S.

[0029] A pair of slotted washers 16 are sized to fit in each opening 14. Three such washers are shown in FIGS. 4A-4C. Each washer is a round, circular washer having a slot 18 extending across a diameter of the washer. The outer diameter of the washer corresponds to diameter d of the opening 14 in which the washer fits. In FIG. 4A, a washer 16a has a slot 18a extending substantially the width of the washer. In FIG. 4B, a washer 16b has a slot 18b which extends substantially across the washer from the edge of the washer. In FIG. 4C, a washer 16c has a slot 18c which extends radially outwardly from the center of the washer toward the edge of the washer. Besides different types of plates or brackets, other types of washers and washer slots are also possible within the scope of the invention. In FIG. 4D, for example, a washer 16d is shown to include a curved or spiral slot 18d rather than a straight slot. The width of the slot 18 in each of these embodiments corresponds to the diameter of the shaft or shank portion of the fastener inserted through opening 14 to attach plate 12 to surface S. FIGS. 4E-4F show that washers do not have to be completely round.

[0030] The washers can be metal washers, molded plastic, or any other appropriate material.

[0031] Regardless of which washer 16 is used with plate 12, the washer fits in opening 14 of the plate. As shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B, a circumferential flange 20 extends into each opening 14 to form a shoulder against which washer 16 seats. This flange is integral with a rear face or surface 22 of the plate, so the face of the plate abutting surface S is a uniform surface. Referring to FIG. 3C, rather than a continuous circumferential flange, the shoulder can be formed of spaced tabs 24 projecting inwardly into opening 14. The length l of slot 18 corresponds to the inner diameter of the opening formed by the shoulder or tabs.

[0032] Once in place, washer lies flat against shoulder 20 as shown in the sectional view of FIG. 9A. The washer is now rotatable about an opening 12 until hole H is exposed by the slot 18 in the washer. This is as shown in FIG. 2B. When both washers have been rotated to positions where the holes H for the respective fasteners show through the slots, the fasteners are screwed or nailed in place through the respective washers to attach plate 12 to surface S. This is as shown in FIG. 2C. The result is that even though the fasteners do not align because the holes H do not, any inaccuracy in placement of the fasteners is tolerated without affecting the alignment of the completed installation.

[0033] A major advantage of apparatus 10 therefore is that an installer has a margin of error when installing or mounting various objects in which either for operational or ascetic reasons alignment is important. So long as the holes for the two fasteners are both within the confines of the circular areas defined by the holes 14 the object, when mounted in place, will be perfectly aligned. As shown in FIG. 2B, one hole H is in the upper right portion of the upper opening 14; while the other hole is in the lower right portion of its respective opening. By rotation of the respective washers 14, the fasteners required to mount plate 12 are readily inserted into the holes through the slots 18 in each washer 16. There is now no need to drill additional holes before mounting the plate. Besides speeding up the installation process, fewer holes have to be drilled into a surface, reducing potential repairs to the surface. The apparatus also allows more inexperienced people to successfully install things.

[0034] The installation, for example, may involve inscribing or taping a reference line R to which plate 12 is to be aligned on surface S. The top of plate 12 is then aligned with the reference line and holes H drilled into the surface through the respective openings 14. Next, a washer 16 is fitted into one of the openings and, with the top of the plate still aligned with line R, rotated until hole H appears in slot 18. The tip end of the fastener is then inserted into the hole and screwed or nailed into the surface. The process is then repeated with the other fastener.

[0035] In addition to the plates 12 shown on FIGS. 3A-3C, other configurations of the apparatus can be used. In FIG. 5, an embodiment 30 of the apparatus includes two picture hangars 32. Each hangar has a hook 34 for engaging a wire or string extending from one side of a picture frame (not shown) to the other. The hangars are to be attached a surface (a wall, for example) a distance Y from each other. Again a reference line is drawn or inscribed and the hangars are located along the line at the desired distance of separation. Holes H are started in the surface at each hangar location while the hangar is held in its desired position. Thereafter, washers 16 are inserted in the openings 14 in each hangar, and rotated until each hole appears in the respective slot. The fastener is then threaded or nailed in place while the hangar is held in its desired aligned position. The result is that even though there is substantial distance between the hangars, they are readily aligned.

[0036] A variation of the embodiment shown in FIG. 5 is shown in FIGS. 11A-11D. Here, an embodiment 301 includes a hangar plate 302 which mounts to the surface to which the object is to be mounted, and an attachment plate 304 which attaches to the object. A pair of the hooks 34 extend outwardly from the outer face 306 of mounting plate 302. Attachment plate 304 has spaced openings 308 formed therein, the spacing between the openings corresponding to the spacing between the hooks 34. Washers 16C are inserted in the openings 14 in plate 302, and are rotated as above described to expose the holes made in the surface for the fasteners F by which plate 302 is attached to the mounting surface. Again, regardless of the location of the fastener holes, so long as they are within the spaces exposed by the openings 14, mounting plate 302 will be properly aligned when attached to the surface. Thereafter, the object is suspended from the attachment plate by fitting the hooks 34 into the openings 308 on attachment plate 304. It should be noted that mounting plate 302 can be easily moved up, down, left, or right—just by repositioning washers 16C.

[0037] Referring to FIG. 6, an object O′ to be mounted on a non-movable fixture F has two washers 16 with their slots 18 installed on the object. The washers are fitted into openings 18 in the object. Object O′ is for example, a panel or a door and fixture F a support on which the door or panel is to be suspended. The fixture has two mounting posts P (premounted fasteners) which could be posts or hangars. When object O′ is being mounted on the support fixture, turning the washers until the slots align with the posts alleviates adjustments otherwise required to hang the object on the support. Importantly, when the object is being positioned, it may be located in different positions about the posts simply by turning the slotted washers to a different alignment, resulting in the object O′ being properly aligned.

[0038] In FIG. 7, a stepped washer 36 has a first segment 36a and a second segment 36b. The diameter of first segment 36a corresponds to the diameter of an opening 14 in which the washer is fitted. The diameter of the second segment is l which corresponds to the diameter of the opening formed by shoulder 20. A slot 38 extends through both segments of the washer. The length of slot 38 corresponds to the diameter of washer segment 36b. Note that having slot 38 extend from the center to the edge, corresponding to the radius of washer segment 36b may also be used, since it results in a stronger washer. When fitted in opening 14, the upper segment 36a of the stepped washer seats against shoulder 20, while segment 36b fits through the opening formed by the shoulder. This is as shown in FIG. 9B.

[0039] In FIG. 8, a washer 40 has beveled sides 42. The opening 14 in plate 12 has compatible sloped sidewalls 44 for the washer to fit in the opening as shown in FIG. 9C. The length of the slot 18 in the washer corresponds to the diameter of the washer at its base 46. However, as shown in FIG. 9D, the wedge shaped washer could be used in an opening 14 having straight sided walls. FIGS. 9E-9F show how the apparatus can be implemented using a slotted, stepped washer and a hole without a shoulder.

[0040] Finally, in FIGS. 10A-10C another washer 50 has non-smooth surfaces for better attachment. In FIG. 10A, a sidewall 52 of the washer is beveled or wedge shaped, while in FIG. 10C, a sidewall 54 is rounded. Regardless of the configuration, the top and bottom surfaces 56, 58 of the washer are roughened surfaces, and vertical ridges 60 are formed in the sidewall of the washer.

[0041] In view of the above, it will be seen that the several objects and advantages of the present invention have been achieved and other advantageous results have been obtained.