Title:
Adjustable length Brace
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A wall support has an elongated adjustable-length brace that includes an elongated galvanized metal channel bar and a threaded rod secured to the channel bar by pressure crimping an end portion of the channel bar around a portion of the rod. Preferably, at least a portion of the channel bar defines an open cross section, such as a C-shape. The wall support is particularly useful underground for supporting pre-formed wall panels of an in-ground swimming pool or a retaining wall.



Inventors:
Bradley, Walter B. (Schuylkill Haven, PA, US)
Application Number:
10/837046
Publication Date:
12/23/2004
Filing Date:
04/30/2004
Assignee:
BRADLEY WALTER B.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02D29/02; E04C3/02; (IPC1-7): E04C3/30
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MARSH, STEVEN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John J. Marshall, Esq. (Berwyn, PA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An elongated adjustable length brace having two ends, one end being adapted for attachment to an upright panel and an opposite end adapted to be attached to a support structure, the adjustable brace comprising: an elongated metal channel bar, and a threaded rod secured to the channel bar by pressure crimping an end portion of the channel bar around a portion of the rod.

2. The adjustable brace according to claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the channel bar defines an open cross section.

3. The adjustable brace according to claim 2, wherein the open cross section is substantially C-shaped.

4. An assembly for supporting a panel in an upright orientation with respect to the ground, comprising: a support structure anchored in the ground an adjustable length metal brace adapted for attachment to the wall panel adjacent an upper end of the panel to extend obliquely between the panel and the support structure, wherein the adjustable brace includes an elongated channel bar and a threaded rod secured to the channel bar by pressure crimping an end portion of the channel bar around a portion of the rod.

5. The assembly according to claim 4, wherein at least a portion of the channel bar defines an open cross section.

6. The assembly according to claim 5, wherein the open cross section is substantially C-shaped.

7. A support assembly for reinforcing a wall panel of an in-ground swimming pool, comprising: a support structure anchored in the ground an adjustable length galvanized metal brace adapted for attachment to the wall panel adjacent an upper end of the panel to extend obliquely downward between the panel and the support structure, wherein the adjustable brace includes an elongated channel bar and a threaded rod secured to the channel bar by pressure crimping an end portion of the channel bar around a portion of the rod.

8. The assembly according to claim 7, wherein at least a portion of the channel bar defines an open cross section.

9. The assembly according to claim 8, wherein the open cross section is substantially C-shaped.

10. A method of fabricating a portion of a adjustable length brace for supporting a panel in an upright orientation with respect to the ground, comprising the steps of: stamping a blank strip of galvanized steel from a roll or sheet to the length and width desired to be formed into a channel bar; punching a hole adjacent one end of the strip off of the centerline of the strip to locates a bolt hole in the channel when it is formed; bending lateral sides of the strip to form the blank into a channel bar having a substantially C shape; placing a threaded rod of appropriate length into the channel bar opposite the bolt hole such that a portion of the rod lies in the channel and the rest of the rod extends out of an end of the channel; applying sufficient pressure in a crimping movement to compress a portion of the channel bar around the portion of the treaded rod, forcing metal of the bar to flow between the treads of the rod, and substantially encapsulating the portion of the rod.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/480,114, filed Jun. 19, 2003.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to an adjustable length brace for supporting an upright structure, as for example, a wall panel for an in-ground pool or a ground retaining wall.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] It is known to construct an in-ground pool using pre-formed wall panels, usually made of non-corrosive metal or plastic. A rough hole is excavated and shaped. Then pre-formed wall panels are assembled inside of the hole. The panels are usually supported in a substantially upright orientation by a framework of supports or braces. There are a wide variety of such supports.

[0004] One example of a support assembly is an X frame type that uses crossed braces; one connecting to or near the top of the wall panel and extending at a downward angle behind it, the other connected to or near the bottom of the panel and extending upward. Usually the brace that connects to the top of the wall panel extends to a base plate of the assembly or other support structure, and is made to be length-adjustable. The adjustable length brace enables the installer to adjust the vertical orientation of the wall panel so that the panel can be supported upright with its top edge leveled in relation to adjacent panels, regardless of variances in leveling the base plate or other support structure.

[0005] A typical adjustable length brace of this type has been made from an L shaped angle bar (a 90° angle with equal sides). A bolt hole is drilled into one side of the angle bar near its lower end to bolt the brace to a bearing plate or other support structure. A threaded rod is attached to the opposite end of the angle bar to provide the length adjustability. The threaded rod can be used with a turnbuckle assembly, or an attachment bracket mounted on a nut, to adjust the length of the brace. The top rod of the turnbuckle or the attachment bracket usually has a bolt hole to let it be bolted to an upper part of the wall panel. Rotating the turnbuckle or the nut allows the brace's length to be increased or shortened as needed to adjust the upright angle of the wall panel and make the panel's top edge flush with adjacent panels.

[0006] Following assembly of the swimming pool and final adjustment of the braces, concrete and backfill material is poured around the braces and the outside of the wall panels. The buried braces, therefore, are exposed to moisture. The metal braces are usually galvanized metal to resist corrosion. However, in prior art braces the threaded rod is typically welded or bolted to the angle bar. In the welding, a portion of the rod is positioned in the interior intersection of the angle bar sides and then welded to the angle bar. The welds are not galvanized, and the welding process burns away a portion of the galvanic coating from adjacent portions of the rod and the angle bar. Consequently, the welded connection is exposed to corrosion. The alternative prior art braces use a yoke and bolt connection to attach the threaded rod to the angle bar. This avoids the corrosion problem, but it makes the fabrication of the adjustable length brace labor intensive, since the yoke and bolt attachment is done manually.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] One aspect of the invention is an elongated adjustable-length brace having one end adapted for attachment to an upright panel and an opposite end adapted to be attached to a support structure, wherein the adjustable brace includes an elongated galvanized metal channel bar and a threaded rod secured to the channel bar by pressure crimping an end portion of the channel bar around a portion of the rod. Preferably at least a portion of the channel bar defines an open cross section, such as a C-shape.

[0008] Another aspect is an assembly for supporting a panel, such as a swimming pool wall panel or a retaining wall panel, in an upright orientation with respect to the ground, in which the elongated adjustable-length brace described herein is used to adjust the upright angle of the panel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] For the purpose of illustrating the invention, the drawings depict one or more embodiment that is presently preferred. This invention is not, however, limited to the embodiment or use of the invention that is depicted in the drawings.

[0010] FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a brace according to the present invention.

[0011] FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

[0012] FIG. 3 is a side elevational view, partly in section, illustrating a swimming pool assembly incorporating the brace of FIG. 1.

[0013] FIG. 4 is a side elevational view, partly in section, illustrating a swimming pool assembly incorporating of brace according to an alternative embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] Referring to the drawings, where like numerals identify like elements, FIG. 1 shows an embodiment of an adjustable length brace 10. As described below, the adjustable brace 10 can be used as part of a support assembly to support a wall panel, such as those used to erect an in-ground swimming pool or a retaining wall, in an upright orientation. The adjustable length feature is used to adjust the upright angle of the panel.

[0015] The adjustable brace 10 includes an elongated bar 20 having one end 22 and an opposite end 24. As shown in FIG. 2, most of the length of the elongated bar 20 defines an open cross section that is substantially C-shaped, but the sectional shape could be more rounded than is depicted. A bolt hole 30 is formed in the elongated bar 20 adjacent end 22. The bolt hole provides for attachment of the adjustable brace 10 to a support assembly as described in greater detail below.

[0016] The adjustable brace 10 also includes a threaded rod 40 that is secured to the elongated bar 30 in an end to end fashion for substantial parallel alignment between the axes of the bar and the rod. The rod 40 has external threads over at least a portion of its length, and in the depicted embodiment is threaded over its full length.

[0017] The threaded rod 40 is secured to the elongated bar 20 by crimping an end portion 24 of the elongated bar around a portion of the threaded rod 40. As shown in FIG. 1, the channel bar 20 and rod 40 are preferably dimensioned such that the crimping of the channel bar 20 results in substantial encapsulation of the rod 40.

[0018] Preferably, the channel bar 20 and the threaded rod 40 are both made from galvanized steel to retard corrosion. The crimping process preserves the galvanized coating, as compared to welded connections that erode the galvanic coating. In addition, the crimped connection provides increased contact area between the joined components and tighter tolerances compared to braces having welded connection. The C-shaped configuration of the channel also provides a compact cross section compared to the right angle bars associated with prior art braces having welded components.

[0019] The channel bar and threaded rod combination may be fabricated in an automated process. In the first step, a blank strip of galvanized steel is stamped from a roll or sheet to the length and width needed to form the desired size of channel bar. In the same stamping, or subsequent machine step, a hole is punched a hole adjacent one end of the strip off of the centerline of the strip to locate the hole such that when the channel is formed the hole is in the location that will be the bolt hole 30. The blank strip is then pressed around a mandrel to bend lateral sides of the strip to form the blank into a channel bar having a substantially C shape open channel. As the channel bar progresses along the machine path, a threaded rod of appropriate length is dropped from a hopper into the channel bar such that a portion of the rod lies in the channel and the rest of the rod extends out of the end of the channel opposite the bolt hole. Then a hydraulic hot press applies heat and sufficient high pressure in a crimping movement to compress a portion of the channel bar around the portion of the treaded rod, forcing metal of the bar to flow between the treads of the rod and substantially encapsulating the end of the rod.

[0020] The adjustable brace 10 may further include another threaded device to connect the bar and rod to a panel. One such device is a turnbuckle connector 50 including a central receiver 52 engaging the threaded rod 40. The turnbuckle connector 50 includes a second threaded rod 60 engaging the central receiver 52 opposite the threaded rod 40. The second threaded rod 60 of the turnbuckle connector 50 includes tab with a bolt hole 70 at its terminal end for bolting the adjustable brace 10 to an upright panel, such as a pre-formed wall panel of an in-ground swimming pool. Rotation of the rod 60 or the central receiver 52 relative to the channel bar 20 adjusts the overall length of the brace 10, and thus allows the upright angle of the panel to be adjusted. This is useful, for example, to level the top edge of the panel in relation to adjacent wall panels regardless of variances in the positioning or leveling of other parts of a support assembly.

[0021] Referring to FIG. 3, the adjustable length brace 10 of FIG. 1 is shown in a typical support assembly 80 for supporting and reinforcing a wall panel 82 of an in-ground swimming pool 80. The adjustable brace 10 is attached to the wall panel 82 adjacent an upper end of the panel 82 to support the panel in a substantially upstanding orientation. The additional structure in the support assembly 80 includes a short section of angle bar 84 attached to the wall panel 82 adjacent a lower end of the panel. The angle bar 84 is secured at its opposite end to a bearing plate 86, also preferably an angle bar. The bearing plate is anchored in the ground by a drive stake 88. The adjustable brace 10 is attached to the short angle bar 84 by a bolt though the hole 30 and a corresponding bolt hole in the angle bar 84. Attached in this manner, the adjustable brace 10 extends obliquely with respect to the wall panel 82 as a diagonal to support the wall panel 82 in a substantially upright orientation. The other structure in the support assembly is well known, and the support assembly may be of other configurations than shown here.

[0022] When the support assembly is configured as shown in FIG. 3, the turnbuckle central receiver 52 can be rotated to adjust the upright orientation angle of the panel such that it is level with the ground or with an adjacent panel. Alternatively, the adjustable brace may include a internally threaded nut connector 90 instead of a turnbuckle, as shown in FIG. 4. The connector 90 includes an attachment tab 92 and a nut 96. The nut can be threaded onto the rod 40 to the length needed to level the top of the panel, then connected to the panel by a bolt through a bolt hole in the tab 92.

[0023] The installation of an in-ground swimming pool may be completed by pouring a concrete footer 100, adding backfill material 102, and installing a deck 104.