Title:
Adjustable snow shaper
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A snow shaping tool providing improved versatility with a rotating and locking blade. The user can unlock the locking device and change the blade angle to fit the terrain obstacle. In the fully opened position, the blade is at an ideal angle for attacking a vertical surface from above as well as chopping up ice chunks. In the fully closed position the blade is at an ideal angle for raking and pulling large amounts of snow, and when flipped over can shave minute amounts of snow with the shaver holes. Intermediate angles lie between the fully closed and open positions.



Inventors:
Kubicka, David L. (Boulder, CO, US)
Paisley, Kegan J. (Boulder, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/351863
Publication Date:
07/29/2004
Filing Date:
01/27/2003
Assignee:
KUBICKA DAVID L.
PAISLEY KEGAN J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
294/53.5
International Classes:
E01H5/02; (IPC1-7): E01H5/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
OKEZIE, ESTHER O
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JENNIFER L. BALES (LAFAYETTE, CO, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A snow shaper, comprising: a shaft; a curved blade rotatably connected to the shaft at a first connection point and having an axis of rotation transverse to the shaft; a connecting rod pivotally connected to blade at a second connection point on the blade apart from the blade axis of rotation; a sliding collar pivotally connected to the connecting rod at a third connection point and disposed to slide over a portion of the shaft; wherein the blade rotates when the collar slides along the shaft; and a locking mechanism that selectively prevents the collar from sliding along the shaft; wherein the third connection point between the sliding collar and the connecting rod is located on an opposite side of the shaft from the second connection point so as to ensure the connecting rod is not in compression.

2. The snow shaper of claim 1, wherein the blade forms a plurality of shaving holes through its surface.

3. The snow shaper of claim 2, wherein the shaving holes have rounded edges to prevent snow build up.

4. The snow shaper of claim 1, wherein the blade further includes a plurality of teeth formed at an edge opposite the shaft.

3. The snow shaper of claim 4, wherein the teeth meet at corners, and said corners are rounded to prevent snow build up.

5. The snow shaper of claim 1, wherein the locking mechanism comprises means for selectively clamping the collar about the shaft to prevent the collar from sliding.

6. The snow shaper of claim 5, wherein the means for selectively clamping includes a cam lever.

7. The snow shaper of claim 1, further including rod release means for allowing the connecting rod to be selectively removed from the sliding collar at the third connection point.

8. The snow shaper of claim 7 wherein the rod release means includes an aperture on the collar sized to allow the connecting rod to snap into or out of the aperture.

9. The snow shaper of claim 7, further including blade release means for allowing the shaft to be selectively removed from the blade at the first connection point.

10. The snow shaper of claim 9, wherein the first connection point comprises a hinge having a blade hinge half attached to the blade and and a shaft hinge half attached to the shaft and a pin joining the hinge halves, and wherein the blade release means comprises means for removing the pin from the hinge.

11. The snow shaper of claim 10, wherein the shaft is a tube forming a triangular shaped flat closure, wherein the shaft hinge half forms a triangular extension, and wherein the shaft tube closure is affixed to the shaft hinge half extension.

12. The snow shaper of claim 1 wherein the shaft includes a telescoping handle.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to apparatus for grooming and shaping snow. In particular, this invention relates to an adjustable snow shaper for creating and maintaining freestyle skiing and snowboarding jump obstacles, slopes and features.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] As freestyle skiing and snowboarding have grown in the past decade, the demand for new ways to keep the ski resort experience exciting has increased. More specifically, the development of snow-terrain shaping and maintenance has become a higher priority with many resorts. Halfpipes, jumps, and various other obstacles are appearing at many ski areas across the nation. Most of the initial construction and maintenance of terrain park features is performed easily by resort snow machines with pushing, pulling, and grooming capabilities. However, daily maintenance and fine-tuning with these machines is costly and requires highly skilled operators. The necessity of manual labor maintenance arises to meet the need for safe snow-terrain management.

[0005] FIG. 1 (prior art) shows a previous snow maintenance tool. The primary method of snow feature hand maintenance is the use of common landscaping tools such as the Scarifier Lute of FIG. 1, which is intended to reposition and smooth the snow to a skiable surface. However, the Scarifier Lute is relatively difficult to use in snow shaping because its blade is perpendicular to the handle shaft. In use, this angle is compounded beyond ninety degrees to the working surface because the handle is at an angle to the working surface as well. This causes the cutting edge to submerge underneath the snow and catch during pulling raking operations.

[0006] In the early nineties, Kurt Heine, a professional snowboarder at the time, developed the first snow-feature maintenance-specific tool, called the Grooming Rake. It offered a significant improvement to the Scarifier Lute in that its blade angle was preferable for attacking a majority of the working surfaces in a halfpipe. It consisted of a five-foot shaft fixed to a blade with cutting teeth on the leading edge. The blade was bent on an axis perpendicular to the shaft at an angle less than ninety degrees, so as to allow for the main tasks of pulling snow like a household rake, as well as shaving snow with the blade flipped over. Both the Scarifier Lute and the Grooming Rake can perform the basic tasks, but they are cumbersome to transport due to their size and sharp blade. In addition, their fixed head angle makes them difficult to use on awkward terrain such as the vertical section of a Halfpipe.

[0007] Kurt Heine later developed a “Vert Shovel” to amend this problem. This tool had a blade fixed in the same plane as the handle whereby the user could chop straight down for attacking the vertical section of the Halfpipe. This tool was bulky and extremely heavy, required the user to have considerable strength, and it was limited to use only on vertical terrain.

[0008] In the field of snow removal, U.S. Pat. No. 4,559,726 to Moisan discloses a snow shovel where the angle of the blade changes, but the connecting brackets are positioned so that the connection to the collar is on the same side of the shaft as the connection point to the shovel head. For snow-shaping use this is undesirable because the force during shaving and raking operations would create a compressive load on the bracket arms, which can cause buckling of the bracket arms and failure of the tool in service.

[0009] A need remains in the art for an improved adjustable snow shaper.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] The present invention, an adjustable snow rake with a rotating and locking blade, bypasses the difficulties of fixed blade design by allowing the user to adjust the blade angle so as to allow for the most efficient attack on specific types of terrain. The user can change the angle of the blade with a sliding collar. During the angle adjustment, the collar slides freely along the shaft. When the desired angle is achieved, the collar is locked into place on the shaft and the blade is no longer allowed to move. The blade has a curved shape for stiffness and use in plowing operations, and includes shave holes. All sharp corners not directly used for cutting are eliminated to prevent snow buildup.

[0011] Another feature of this invention is easy collapsibility so that the user can tote the tool on a backpack and store it using less space than the fixed operational rake. The blade detaches from the handle shaft. The handle shaft is also telescoping for collapsibility to a shorter length.

[0012] A snow shaper according to the present invention comprises a shaft, a curved blade rotatably connected to the shaft at a first connection point and having an axis of rotation transverse to the shaft, a connecting rod pivotally connected to blade at a second connection point on the blade apart from the blade axis of rotation, a sliding collar pivotally connected to the connecting rod at a third connection point and disposed to slide over a portion of the shaft, wherein the blade rotates when the collar slides along the shaft, and a locking mechanism that selectively prevents the collar from sliding along the shaft, wherein the third connection point between the sliding collar and the connecting rod is located on an opposite side of the shaft from the second connection point so as to ensure the connecting rod is not in compression.

[0013] As a feature, the blade forms a plurality of shaving holes through its surface. Preferably the shaving holes have rounded edges to prevent snow build up. A plurality of teeth are preferably formed at the blade edge opposite the shaft. The teeth meet at corners, and the corners are rounded to prevent snow build up.

[0014] In a preferred embodiment, the locking mechanism comprises means for selectively clamping the collar about the shaft to prevent the collar from sliding. For example, the means for selectively clamping could include a cam lever.

[0015] As a feature, rod release means allow the connecting rod to be selectively removed from the sliding collar at the third connection point. For example, the rod release means might include an aperture on the collar sized to allow the connecting rod to snap into or out of the aperture. A blade release means would allow the shaft to be selectively removed from the blade at the first connection point. In one embodiment, the first connection point comprises a hinge having a blade hinge half attached to the blade and and a shaft hinge half attached to the shaft and a pin joining the hinge halves. The blade release means then comprises means for removing the pin from the hinge.

[0016] Preferably, the shaft is a tube forming a triangular shaped flat closure, and the shaft hinge half forms a triangular extension, and the shaft tube closure is affixed to the shaft hinge half extension.

[0017] The snow shaper shaft preferably includes a telescoping handle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] FIG. 1 (prior art) is an isometric view of a landscaping tool.

[0019] FIG. 2 is a front isometric view of the adjustable blade-rake assembly of the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 3 is a rear isometric view of the adjustable blade-rake assembly of FIG. 1.

[0021] FIG. 4 is a close-in front isometric view of the blade of FIG. 1.

[0022] FIG. 5A is a perspective view of the detached blade of FIG. 4 before and after connection to the shaft.

[0023] FIG. 5B is a perspective view of the hinge detachment-pin of FIG. 5A slid into the triangular female hinge.

[0024] FIG. 5C is a perspective view of the blade of FIG. 4 attached to the handle via the slide-locking hinge mechanism.

[0025] FIG. 6A is a side view of the blade of FIG. 4 in the fully opened position.

[0026] FIG. 6B is a side view of the blade of FIG. 4 in the fully closed position.

[0027] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the collapsed tool of FIG. 1 ready for transport or storage.

[0028] FIG. 8A is a bottom perspective view of the locked sliding collar with the cam-lever closed.

[0029] FIG. 8B is a bottom perspective view of the unlocked sliding collar with the cam-lever open.

[0030] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the triangular crimped tubing.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0031] Reference Numerals:

[0032] 7 ends of connection rod

[0033] 8 holes in connection tabs

[0034] 9 blade

[0035] 10 cutting teeth

[0036] 11 fillet corners

[0037] 12 shaver holes

[0038] 13 connection tabs

[0039] 14 connecting rod

[0040] 15 sliding collar

[0041] 16 collar snap-fit

[0042] 17 telescoping shaft

[0043] 18 cam-lever

[0044] 19 hinge assembly

[0045] 20 triangular crimped tubing end

[0046] 21 hinge detachment pin

[0047] 22 triangular female hinge piece

[0048] 23 hinge retention pin

[0049] 24 hinge slot

[0050] 25 D-ring handle

[0051] 100 snow shaper

[0052] 102 rotating blade mechanism

[0053] FIG. 2 is an isometric drawing showing snow shaper 100 from a front perspective view. Snow shaper 100 comprises rotating blade mechanism 102 and telescoping shaft 17. Blade mechanism 102 comprises blade 9, connecting rod 14, and sliding collar 15. FIG. 3 shows rotating blade mechanism 102 in more detail.

[0054] Turning to FIG. 3, blade 9 is bent or curved to form a shape resembling a snowplow. This blade may be made out of aluminum or any other metal as well as plastic or composite materials. Teeth 10 line the leading edge of the blade. They are symmetrical teeth with slightly rounded corners 11 between each tooth. The blade also has shaving holes 12 through blade 9. These holes 12 can be any shape, but preferably include only rounded corners, as sharp corners tend to accumulate snow and ice buildup. Holes 12 function like cheese grater shavers during smoothing with the backside of the blade, as well as aid snow flow-through and distribution during other shaping operations. Details of snow shaper 100 operation are described in more detail with reference to FIGS. 5A-8B.

[0055] Connection tabs 13 protrude from the surface of the blade. These tabs may be bent out of the same piece as the blade, or fastened on the blade as separate pieces. Again, all sharp corners are preferably eliminated from the blade design to decrease the possibility of snow build-up. Connecting rod 14 includes ends 7 which extend into holes 8 formed in connection tabs 13.

[0056] Connecting rod 14 freely rotates with respect to blade 9 as ends 7 rotate in holes 8. Connecting rod 14 is also linked to a sliding collar 15, and can rotate there as well. See FIGS. 6A-6B Connecting rod 14 may be removable from either the blade or collar. Blade 9 is removed from connecting rod 14 by pulling ends 7 out of holes 8, and by separating hinge assembly 19, as shown in FIGS. 5A-5C. FIG. 8B shows removal of connecting rod 14 from collar 15.

[0057] FIG. 4 is an isometric drawing showing a perspective view of the reverse side of snow shaper 100. Hinge assembly 19 is attached to the back of blade 9, and allows blade 9 to rotate about an axis perpendicular to shaft 17. Hinge assembly 19 is attached to shaft 17 via triangular crimped tubing end 20. The connection point between the hinge and the blade could also be on the front side of the blade. The blade could also slide on a curved track instead of rotate to achieve the desired angle.

[0058] Shaft 17 may be telescoped using a number of methods found in ski poles and avalanche shovels. Handle 25 is on the end of the shaft and may be T-Shaped, hook-shaped, or of the D-ring type, all of which are found on common snow shovels.

[0059] One embodiment of the hinge detachability feature is shown in FIGS. 5A, 5B, and 5C. These figures show hinge mechanism 19 in more detail, and illustrate separation of hinge mechanism 19 in order to separate blade 9 from shaft 17. The blade is removable and attachable from the shaft through use of the hinge assembly 19. FIG. 5A shows hinge assembly 19 ready for attachment. FIG. 5B shows hinge detachment-pin 21 sliding into the triangular female hinge piece 22. Hinge retention pin 23 slides through the hinge slot 24 in triangular female hinge 25 in FIG. 5C, which shows hinge assembly 19 attached. Once the blade is rotated into the working range, hinge retention pin 25 rides on the outer edge of triangular female hinge 25, thereby keeping the blade from falling out of place during operation.

[0060] Note that the detachability of blade 9 and shaft 17 could be achieved in a number of different ways. Shaft 17 could slide into a socket attached to hinge assembly 19 and lock into place using a bolt, pin, snap-button, or any other fastener. Or, the hinge pin could be removed altogether.

[0061] Snow shaper 100 is designed to pull snow, shave harder snow and ice, and flatten snow to a skiable, smooth surface. There a number of additional uses of this tool due to its adjustable angle head and specialty blade design.

[0062] FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate how the angle of blade 9 is adjusted. The user adjusts the angle with a sliding collar mechanism 15. When collar mechanism 15 is configured to adjust, it slides along a portion of shaft 17 and causes blade 9 to pivot via connecting rod 14.

[0063] The entire snow shaper 100 assembly can be broken down to small size for transport and storage. To disassemble snow shaper 100, connecting rod 14 snaps out of collar snap-fit 16 on sliding collar 15 and folds over the top of blade 9. FIG. 5C shows the attached hinge assembly 19 where the blade is in the working angle range. FIG. 5B shows the blade rotated out of the working angle range, and blade 9 is now removable from shaft 17 by sliding hinge detachment pin 21 out of triangular female hinge piece 22. Hinge retention pin 23 slides through hinge slot 24 in triangular female hinge piece 22. FIG. 5A shows the blade now detached from the shaft.

[0064] FIG. 7 is a side perspective drawing showing snow shaper 100 collapsed for travelling and storage. Collapsed telescoping shaft 17 slides in between folded-over connecting rod 14 and blade 9. This preferred embodiment of the detachability is highly desirable due to the absence of loose parts that can easily be lost during transport.

[0065] FIGS. 8A and 8B are isometric drawings illustrating the operation of collar 15. In the preferred embodiment, collar 15 locks into place with a cam-lever 18, whereby the cam-lever clamps the collar together by squeezing the top surfaces together when the cam-lever is put into the closed position. When in the open position, cam-lever 18 no longer clamps collar 15 around shaft 17, thereby allowing collar 15 to slide freely along a portion of the shaft 17 and thereby adjust the angle of blade 9. In the preferred embodiment, a collar snap-fit 16 is used on sliding collar 15 for easy removal of connecting rod 14. When the sliding collar is unlocked, it can move freely along a portion of shaft 17. Sliding collar 15 can be locked into position on the handle using a variety of methods. The collar can function as a clamp around the shaft, or lock into sets of holes with removable pins or snap-buttons. In the preferred embodiment shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B, collar 15 locks into place with cam-lever 18, whereby the cam-lever clamps the collar together by squeezing surfaces 26 together when the cam-lever is put into the closed position. See FIG. 8A. When in the open position, the cam-lever no longer clamps the collar around the handle, thereby allowing the collar to slide freely along the length of the handle and adjust the angle of the blade.

[0066] Returning to FIG. 6A, in the initial fully opened configuration where the cutting edge of the blade is in the same plane as the length of the handle, snow shaper 100 can conveniently cut directly downward to chop up ice or cut vertical surfaces from above. This has utility especially in the Halfpipe where the vertical sections were often left untouched in the past due to lack of tool versatility.

[0067] At the intermediate blade angles, the user can pull snow with teeth 10 facing downward into the snow. If snow shaper 100 is flipped over the user can shave ice using forward pushing movements. When the user approaches different terrain, he can adjust the blade angle to any position within the intermediate angles to perform shaving and raking operations on any angle of terrain without having to adjust his body around the terrain.

[0068] In the final fully closed blade position of FIG. 6, snow shaper 100 can work like a rake to pull large amounts of snow with teeth 10 facing downward, or flipped over it functions superbly as a snowplow. Shaver holes 12 are useful in this blade position.

[0069] Returning to FIG. 3, snow shaper 100 has several features that increase its effectiveness. Cutting teeth 10 that line the leading edge of blade 9 are symmetrically arranged in a regular pattern along the length of the leading edge. The corners between the teeth are slightly rounded to create smooth raking patterns in the snow and to prevent snow buildup between the teeth. The purpose of these teeth is to allow for significant penetration into snow and ice during raking and shaving operations. Also note the flat section of blade 9 behind teeth 10 allowing for a clean, guided cut during precision shaving operations.

[0070] Shaver holes 12 allow for very fine shaving operations. Shaver holes 12 can be located anywhere in the curved section of blade 9 and function much like a cheese grater. In the intermediate and closed blade positions, the user places the curved section of the blade with the shaver holes in contact with the snow. The user then reciprocates blade 9 in a direction perpendicular to the blade's front cutting edge, thereby achieving the cheese grater functionality. Although they accomplish a similar function to teeth 10, the material surrounding shaver holes 12 prevents the blade from penetrating the working surface beyond the depth of the holes, thereby creating a uniform, smooth surface not producible with the blade teeth alone.

[0071] As well as fine shaving operations, shaver holes 12 promote even distribution of snow by allowing snow to flow through blade 9 during shaving processes. As the user pushes the blade forward, front cutting teeth 10 shave snow. Shaver holes 12 allow this snow to flow through blade 9. This flow-through is important because for most snow-shaping operations, the user is not so much concerned with moving snow from one location to another, as he is with redistributing the snow evenly to create a uniformly smooth and skiable surface. Additionally, upon significant buildup of snow in front of the blade during a plowing operation, the user will find it difficult to push a large amount of snow. The snow flow-through allowed by the shaver holes keeps the pile in front of the blade during plowing operations below the point where manual pushing of snow becomes markedly difficult. Shaver holes 12 preferably include no sharp corners, so as to prevent snow build-up.

[0072] A feature of the blade is the reduced thickness when compared with prior art single-use tools. This is possible because of the smooth radius cross-section of blade 9, instead of a single lateral fold across the width of the blade. This smooth radius gives the blade a larger cross-sectional moment of inertia, thereby making it stiffer under loading and allowing for reduced thickness. This not only makes the blade lighter weight, but also improves the cutting ability. Any of the blade edges could be chamfered as to provide an even sharper cutting edge necessary for shaving with harder snow obstacles such as the Olympic standard freestyle ski jumps.

[0073] It has been noticed in earlier snow-shaper designs the problem of snow and ice buildup on the blade. As with shaver holes 12, all sharp corners have been eliminated from the blade design (with the exception of the tips of cutting teeth 10) to decrease the possibility of snow build-up and icing up. This includes the existence of large rivet, nut and bolt, or other fastener protrusions larger than {fraction (1/8)} inch evident on other blade designs. The connection tabs are bent up with a smooth radius. The symmetrical teeth have no sharp corners, and are rounded between each tooth. It has been noted in practice that free melt water in the snow tends to collect in sharp corners on the blade, where it can freeze and begin to collect additional snow.

[0074] A feature of sliding collar 15 is snap-fit 16 for the connecting rod. This snap-fit allows the user to remove and secure connecting rod 14 as needed without any fasteners to hold it in place. The snap-fit connection point 16 is oriented in such a way that during use rod 14 has very little force tending to eject the connecting rod out of snap-fit 16.

[0075] The alignment of connecting rod 14 is also of importance during the use of the snow shaper 100. In the present invention, the connection point of sliding collar 15 is located on the opposite side of the blade pivot axis from the connecting rod/blade connection point, so as to ensure that connecting rod 15 is always in tension, and thus buckling can not occur. Refer to FIGS. 6A and 6B.

[0076] FIG. 9 shows deformed tubing 104, which is attached to hinge 19. Also refer to FIGS. 5A and 5B. Note that hinge assembly 19 includes a triangular portion 20 connected to tubing 104 at triangular connection point 106. A common method used in the construction of tubing connections to linear edges or flat surfaces like the hinge piece is to compress the end of the tubing perpendicular to length of the tube as to create a flat section for connection to flat surfaces or linear edges. This creates a problem, however, in that the fold line of the compressed tubing becomes a particular weak point. The problem has been circumvented in the present invention by compressing the end of tubing 104 in a triangular manner 106, where there no longer exists a linear fold line that significantly weakens compressed tubing 104. Instead, tubing 104 is stiffer at the edges of triangle compression 106, making the connection point to hinge assembly 19 superior in strength to a linear fold line.





 
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